By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor
Rob Van Valkenburgh, CSCS, TSAC-F, NASM-PES, is a 10-year veteran football strength coach. Before starting his own business, Football Strength Coach, he coached in the Big 10 Conference and Pac 12 Conference.
Use Cluster Sets
Cluster sets are a series of low rep sets (1-3 reps) performed for 6-10 sets. The key is to do a set every 45-60 seconds and be above 80 percent of the athlete’s 1-rep max. This allows you to do a high volume of strength/power work while limiting the fatigue.
Limit Eccentric Movements
The great majority of muscle fatigue and soreness comes from the eccentric (lengthening) phase of a movement. By limiting or removing the eccentric phase, you will allow your players to be able to train heavy without having a high level of soreness the following days.
Be Strategic with Your Heavy Squat Days
Use the gap between games to program a heavy squat day directly following the previous competition. If you play on Friday nights, make Saturday the squat day.
Program Throws, Jumps, and Bounds
Throws, jumps, and bounds are one of the best ways to build explosive power. When an athlete is in-season, the volume of jumps, throws, and bounds should increase because they limit fatigue.
Limit Volume on Accessory Work
With in-season athletes, the amount of time they have to train is very short. Your goal should be to get the big lifts in and then get them out of the weight-room. During this time an athlete does not need to spend 15 minutes doing arms and shoulders.
Include a Nervous System Reset After Each Training Session
After every strength training session take five minutes and reset your athlete’s nervous system with a wall stretch variation that includes diaphragmatic breathing. Have the athletes lie down on their backs with their feet up on the wall at a 45-degree angle. Have them close their eyes and take a few minutes to do some slow breathing drills.
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