It can be hard to escape misconceptions surrounding strength and conditioning. You know the ones – It will make you too bulky, too stiff and too slow. You’ll be more likely to get injured.
The truth is that numerous studies have shown that incorporating strength and conditioning into your routine has wide-ranging benefits. It decreases injury rates in sports and increases muscle mass, allowing you to run faster and jump higher. Other benefits include increased bone density, metabolic rate and rate of force, which means you’re going to be more powerful.
“Strength and conditioning is your movement multi-vitamin, serving as a supplement to what you do,” says Wil Fleming, Olympic lifting coach and current masters lifting world champion. “It fills in gaps by providing you with movement you wouldn’t normally get in your chosen sport.”
When setting up a strength and conditioning program, Fleming recommends you first test and assess. Whether you’re using a functional movement screening or creating your own program, he recommends gathering data on your athletes and their foundations.
Next, aim to train movements of muscles. As Fleming points out, athletes don’t simply work back and biceps; They move their whole body through space while coordinating different muscle groups. He likes to create a movement menu based on categories.
“It’s pretty common that you would see a squat, hinge, push and pull, among others,” says Fleming. “Once I have all my categories across the top, I would fill out a movement menu. You can go six or seven exercises deep, and they can be a progression.”
Once you have your menu, you can create plans with movements. If you have your athletes for two days each week, you can do a push day and a pull day. A three-day-a-week plan might incorporate a push day, a pull day and a total body day.
Train general to specific and with age-appropriate tiers.
“We don’t need to mimic the sport in the weight room,” says Fleming. “We don’t need weighted baseball bats in your weight room.”
“The best programs train their schools to be athletes,” he continues. “There’s an all-encompassing program for the school, and there is a tiny bit that might look different because baseball players use their shoulders more, so they do a little more shoulder care than the basketball players.”
With a balanced program, you can set up your athletes for a successful season… and future.
“Most athletes are never going to play after high school,” notes Fleming. “We want to make sure they can lift for life. They can go to their college rec center or their local gym, and they’re not going to do it poorly. They’re able to be active for life, reducing the chance of obesity and poor health outcomes.”
These recommendations have been excerpted from Coaches Corner, a free monthly webinar series for coaches, athletic directors and athletic trainers. The series, developed and presented by Forté, in partnership with IHSAA, aims to arm coaching and support teams with helpful information to consider when working with their athletes. Subscribe online so you don’t miss an episode.