With all of the detailed information we now know about the world of strength training and conditioning, it’s possible for trainers to tailor their programs to the exact specifications of each of their athletes.
Based off of my blog post last month about sport-specialization in kids, we can come to an understanding that the critical window to begin specialization is usually around age 13. Once the decision has been made to focus on one particular sport over another, specificity of training becomes key. However, there are particular exercises that I consider to be staples in a training program among a broad range of athletes and sports. With a particular focus on developing overall strength, I would like to take you through several different exercises that can help almost any athlete become stronger for their sport.
It is very important that each athlete progress slowly and safely with these exercises, and have his or her technique closely monitored to prevent injury.
#1 – Back Squat
Targets: quads, glutes, hamstrings
Coaching Tips: maintain a flat back; sit butt back as if sitting in a chair; don’t collapse at the chest
Progression: begin with box squats using PVC pipe instead of a barbell and gradually increase weight—if technique breaks then the weight is too high
#2 Romanian Deadlift (RDL)
Targets: hamstrings, glutes, calves
Coaching Tips: maintain a flat back (“squeeze an imaginary tennis ball between each armpit”); maintain contact between the bar and quads through the entire movement
Progression: begin with PVC pipe instead of barbell and slowly increase weight (can also be performed with dumbbells, as pictured
#3 Bulgarian Split Squat
Targets: quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves
Coaching Tips: ensure that knee of front leg does not cross over ankle; drive through the heel of the front foot; sit weight back when dropping into squat position
Progression: begin with no weight to ensure proper knee/ankle positioning is achieved and balance is maintained through the motion
#4 Plank Variations
Targets: THE CORE!
Variations to try: plank get-ups, plank shoulder taps, side planks, plank walk-outs, plank bird dogs, T planks
When training for pure strength, keep your reps between 1-6 and sets between 2-6. Eventually work up to 85-100% of the 1RM when the athlete is ready.