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Conditioning & General Physical Preparation  (GPP)  (June 29, 2013)


Conditioning is very important when you are training with heavy weights. Conditioning will allow your body to recover faster and workout longer. You will also recover faster in between your sets, so you can cut down on rest time.


Many powerlifters and strength athletes feel that conditioning will have the opposite effects and cause their recovery to suffer. Many powerlifters are also trying to gain or maintain their bodyweight, so they do not do any conditioning workouts. 


Remember that conditioning for a strength athlete is not about working yourself until you puke or cannot breathe; you want to do just enough to get in better shape and increase your recovery in the gym.


If you are a strength athlete you should begin to incorporate conditioning workouts in between your heavy workouts. Start slow, by adding one short conditioning workout each week. Even the guys at Westside Barbell do a lot of conditioning workouts, they refer to conditioning as General Physical Preparedness (GPP workouts).


GPP is the initial stage of training. It starts every cycle of training from the macro-, meso- and microcycle after restoration and recovery. It consists primarily of general preparatory and some specialized conditioning exercises to work all the major muscles and joints. This preparation prepares the athlete for the more intense training such as explosive plyometrics. This period is also used for rehabilitation of injured muscles and joints, strengthening or bringing up to par the lagging muscles and improvement of technique.


For the high-level and elite athlete, GPP is used more for recovery and warm up rather than for developmental purposes. This is based on the premise that high level and elite athletes maintain their physical conditioning throughout the year and train throughout the year on a specific periodization scheme. This is a major distinguishing characteristic of the high-level athlete.


The 4 Commonalities that any Great Strength Program Should Focus On   (July 11, 2013)


All great programs should have:


1)  An Emphasis on Practicing Sports Skills

2)  Great Level of the Transfer of Training to your Sport

3)  The Addressing of the Athletes weakpoints

4)  A Consolidation of Stressors


No matter the sport that an athlete competes in, there is one specific part of training that cannot be substituted, and that is your sport practice. According to Juggernaut Training Systems, "Practicing your sport is the only thing you must do as an athlete. With Sport Practice as the highest priority in creating a program, you must recognize and respect the stress that practice imposes on the athlete."


The next most important aspect of a great strength program is the transfer of training to the sport. You must select exercises and drills with a high degree of transfer to the competitive exercise.  This high degree of transfer is also known as dynamic correspondance. The exercises with a high degree of dynamic correspondance are known as Special Physical Preparedness drills or Special Strength Exercises.  Identifying exercises with the highest dynamic correspondance to your competitive exercise will give you the greatest return on your energy in training.


The greatest benefit that derives from special exercises is the addressing of weakpoints in an athletes game.  An athlete can have a weakness in a physical skill or energy system.  Every athlete falls within a spectrum of abilities required to be successful within their sport.  It is your job as the coach to identify where they are weak and address the weakness in order for the athlete to succeed in their sport.


The consolidation of stressors is critical to the long term planning of an athletes training program.  As output capabilities improve, recovery becomes more important.  According to Charlie Francis, The CNS (Central Nervous System), like a cup, has a finite capacity, and every stressor you impose on it will fill the cup up to some degree.  The greater the stress, the more the cup is filled up.  As the athlete becomes stronger, faster and more efficient, all of their training will fill up their cup more so as the athlete progresses through a training plan, you need to allow more time for recovery.  The stressors can be consolidated and more time allowed for recovery through two ways, 1) changing the weekly structure of the training plan or 2) removing elements with lower transfer to the athletes sport.


The Athlete's Potential  (July 26, 2013)


Every Athlete has limited potential, a ceiling defined by his or her genetics.  At the same time, no athlete is confined by a certain level of performance, every athlete can improve!  


No method of training in existence currently used by any strength coach can make up the gap between genetics of a superior athlete and that of an inferior one.  Each individual athlete's hormonal profile dictates his or her ability to respond to the rigors of training, stress, competition, performance and recovery.


An athlete who can possess and respond to stimuli more quickly, as well as orchestrate the body's hormonal response more efficiently will have a decisive advantage over other athletes.


The Importance of In-Season Training  (August 3, 2013)


(Excerpt from an Article on


Imagine for a moment that you were going to build a house. The house was built beautifully. Everything was custom, the best furniture was ordered, and you had every tiny detail you could want. Now imagine that after you built this palatial home, you decided to live in it but never clean it. You never took out the garbage and you forgot to pay the electric bill. How would the house look? How would that house function?


You see, this is what happens when you spend all off-season working on building yourself up to play your game. You get everything the way you want it and then you just hope it stays together. Does this sound successful? The answer is simple, and everyone knows what it is but fails to pay it enough attention: in-season training. It isn’t rocket science to establish a quality program for the in-season, and you don’t need to spend four hours a week in the gym to make it work.


Some schools of thought out there don’t want to endanger an athlete in-season by moving around heavy weight. This theory never works, due to the fact that athletes regress physically and don’t maintain an ounce of the strength they worked so hard for.  It is important to maintain strength levels throughout the season, and this requires rep ranges below eight with subsequently heavy loads in order to foster the proper adaptations. This intensity will slow the dissipation of strength across a long season and keep athletes stronger throughout the year.  


The volume needs to be kept in check in order to insure that central nervous system fatigue doesn’t set in and that the ability to play multiple games /practices a week at a high enough performance is maintained. What’s the use of in-season work if it detracts from the ability to play the game?


My standard recommendation for athletes and coaches looking to implement in-season strength programs is to keep your days per week to no more than two and your sets at no more than two per exercise. This is, of course, excluding warm-up sets for primary exercises.  In a sport that requires instantaneous excitement of the muscles in order to produce fluid, timed movements, and explosive actions, the nervous system plays an important part in maintaining performance. Volume must be tracked and maintained, and athletes need to be monitored accordingly to watch for drops in strength performance and game performance.


In-season, we want our athletes to do movements and patterns that they’ve done before and often and that will keep them strong without impairing their ability to perform. No matter who you are, soreness leads to altered movement patterns. Best case, this decreases performance. Worst case, this can lead to fatigue and ultimately injury.


In-season training should be primarily Concentric type of lifts.  Concentric training includes the application of exercises that deemphasize the lowering and/or loading of the eccentric movement. This allows an athlete to utilize the mechanical loading of the muscular system while sparing the central nervous system. In easy speak, we can work more often with greater ability to recover. This idea is important for athletes who spend a great amount of time cramped on buses and in locker rooms eating less than ideal diets. Recovery is important but at times difficult to sufficiently handle.


Simply adding in a small emphasis to in-season training for your athletes or yourself can pay great dividends in long-term athletic development. If you can maintain more physical ability year to year, your off-seasons can be more productive and thus earn you more in the form of playing time, scholarships, or financial rewards in the future. Take these basic concepts into account in your in-season training and watch your performances improve.





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