Conditioning- When And How by Tony Montgomery

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Now that football season is coming to an end, many kids are looking to get stronger and faster for next season. There are many things that go into preparing kids for the next season, and conditioning is one of those things that usually isn’t done correctly. I’m sure many of you have seen people pushing the Prowler on YouTube until they puke or you’ve heard some of the ridiculous conditioning tests that some athletes have to perform. Every team has its own way of doing things. I just don’t agree with most of them.

There are many aspects to programming the conditioning of athletes. You have to know when the season starts, what type of energy system the sport requires, if the athletes have any conditioning test they have to perform, and how good or bad of shape they’re already in. These are crucial in developing a successful program.

Ideally, you want to do conditioning separate from the actual workout so that the athletes can maximize growth from their workout with proper recovery and nutrition. After a workout, glycogen stores are depleted. Athletes need to generate the anabolic process by getting in the proper nutrition to start protein synthesis so their bodies can repair and regenerate. That’s the purpose of training to get bigger, stronger, and faster. So why waste a second with conditioning when they should be focused on recovering?

That’s the ideal situation, but if you’re training athletes in your gym, that will most likely never be the case. They want to get in and get out without having to come another day or session to get conditioning in. If that is the case, you have to maximize their time with weight lifting followed up with conditioning.

We have our guys do conditioning that complements their training. So if it’s leg day, we will have them either push the Prowler or pull the sled. This will allow them to continue to train their legs and get some conditioning in. If their season is four months away, don’t even worry about conditioning. Just focus on getting them stronger and bigger. Once they’re two months away from the start of the season, we start to incorporate conditioning unless they’re extremely out of shape. Then we start three or maybe even four months out. This just depends on the person and the situation.

Every sport requires certain energy systems. You have slow oxidative, fast glycolytic, and ATP-PC. Most of your athletes play in an ATP-PC and fast glycolytic sport, so you have to prepare them for that. The keys to achieving this are to have as much capacity in both systems as you can and to reduce the factors causing fatigue.

If the sport requires these two systems to be used during the game, you must train your athletes to reach the highest levels possible in order to master their sport. You have to have the exercise mimic the actual sport in duration and intensity. The high intensity conditioning will increase the glycolytic enzymes in all fiber types, which will increase the amount of ATP that can be generated. It will also increase the speed at which PC can be degraded so that faster ATP turnover is possible.

If they play football, have them do a conditioning exercise for 5–7 seconds and then rest. At the beginning of the conditioning program, make sure you give them a good amount of rest, and then in the preceding weeks, lower the rest, increase the reps, or increase the weight. This will allow them to strive for something new every week when it comes to conditioning. Conditioning should be like max effort days. Your athletes should have a goal to beat. You want them setting PRs in the weight room and when they condition.

Every school will have a conditioning test that the athlete must perform. Much of the time, they don’t make any sense, but none the less, the athletes are judged by how well they perform. You must train your athletes to be proficient at their tests, but it shouldn’t be a basis of their conditioning program. As long as you can increase their aerobic capacity and lactic threshold, just running the test once a week will be sufficient enough training.

Here are a few key points that you must know in order to maximize your athletes’ training.

·          Don’t start conditioning too early in the off-season. This is a crucial mistake that I see many coaches make. Give the kids time to heal up after season and give them time to get strong and fast. I wait until six weeks out from their season. This is all you need to get into shape. If you start any earlier than that, you’re overdoing it.

·          Don’t make their speed work turn into conditioning. Many coaches fall for this one. They think running the athletes into the ground until they can’t move anymore will make them faster. You have to treat speed drills like max effort work in the gym. You need to make sure they get full recovery before starting the next rep. Speed is speed, and conditioning is a whole other beast. Treat it that way and you will see incredible gains.

·          You have to program their conditioning like you do their weight lifting. There has to be a rhyme and reason to what you’re doing. Start off light and with long rest periods and then gradually increase the weight or reps and decrease the rest as their conditioning progresses. Have a goal that you want them to make. That goal should be accomplished at the end of their conditioning cycle.

·          Build their conditioning from the end to the beginning. This kind of goes with the point above, but when designing their programs, start with the last day and have that be their test day. Build the program all the way back to the first day.

·          Make the conditioning specific to their sport. This means that football players shouldn’t be running miles for conditioning. The longest a football play lasts is around six seconds with a rest in between plays of 25–30 seconds. This should be the basis of their conditioning.

There is much more that goes into conditioning, but if you follow these five steps in programming off-season conditioning, your athletes will excel at their sports because they will be able to outlast the opponent. That is where the game is won—in the fourth quarter, the last inning, or the last mile.

Tony Montgomery is training to become a professional Strongman and a leader in the strength and conditioning industry. After honorably serving four years in the Marines, he is currently pursuing a degree in exercise science from Florida Atlantic University. He specializes in training athletes of any kind to reach their peak performance. He trains a wide variety of clients from tri-athletes to football players and everything in between. Tony is currently located in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Visit his website at samsonstrengthconditioning.com or check out his training videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/Judges1324.

Elite Fitness Systems strives to be a recognized leader in the strength training industry by providing the highest quality strength training products and services while providing the highest level of customer service in the industry. For the best training equipment, information, and accessories, visit us at www.EliteFTS.com.




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Submitted by DMorgan on Sat, 01/16/2010 - 7:32pm.

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