Minimal  Strength Training for Sport Performance

Training is full of modern fads and trends but in my view Barbell training applied intelligently is a very good way of increasing physical performance in athletes. Phrases such as "don't Squat its bad for your knee's" or "don't Bench press it's not functional" are thrown around by modern trainers all to often and the result that very reliable techniques are discarded. Yes it's true that we know have access to a level of data on Strength and Conditioning that goes far above what have ever have before, but does that mean we should totally get rid of long standing methods simply because they're not in fashion? The answer is of course NO. Squats or Bench pressing don't get any less effective because someone discovered a new way. For me the best route is to supplement the old and new. The key is support the core lifting movements with more functional variations, we don't remove the long standing "old school" lifts we simply refine the placement we give them in our programming.However that being said the best way to develop any kind of base strength is with an intelligently applied program of Barbell training. The aim of this post is to present some of the minimal strength training programs I have used to develop strength in economical way. In this post I define minimal strength training as using the most effective and economical route to develop strength for Sport.

The Myth of Sport Specific Strength 

 

There is a belief in Strength and Conditioning that there needs to be a specific kind of Strength for each sport. While there are some sport dominant movements that are related more to some sports than others the fact is that a lot of sports do have the same general Strength needs, and it is in this that Sport Strength is not specific. Speed to spring in many sports can be developed the same way as all you're doing each Sport is Sprinting, the motion of the Sprint wont change. SAQ factors can be developed the same way across many Sports that require this to be developed. A lot of programs across a range of Sports at the Elite level are very similar and have the same core features. It's rare that you find athletes that don't have gaps in conditioning be it Strength related of some other kind of movement related quality. Your athletes can't be too Strong, Fast or Agile there is always something to develop. One example is American Football and Rugby. as I have used very similar Strength programming to work with athletes in both Sports. I have used Sprint routines from NFL, Soccer and Athletics across different programs. Why would the development of effective speed be any different in a Sprinter than in  Soccer or Rugby. It is this kind of reasoning that I apply to Strength training. There will obviously be some minor difference based on movement variations but if two athletes in different Sports wanted to develop Strength then I would still present the same core general programs. The same minimal strength training programs can be used across sports to develop strength effectively

Why training using minimal strength training programs?

 

I may seem like using these program or programs of the same type that you be missing key aspects of training or not doing enough. Well in my experience many athletes or fitness enthusiasts would get greater gains from developing the self discipline to do less while making intelligent exercise or programming choices. When you narrow down the work you can do to 2 or 3 days and set a limit to 2 main exercises per session then you're forced to think more about the choices you make. You are forced to ask if you really need most exercises or in reality are they just passing fads. I would put forward that athletes don't need 90% of the lifts there are available in order to develop strength. The endless body building type variations will do nothing compared to one or two choice movements performed consistently over time during your programming. The main question you should be asking is do I need this for my sport? and if the answer is no then evaluate the reasons for your lifting strategy to enable you find whether the same goal can be achieved more effectively with less. If the answer is yes then a minimal strength training program is a good choice for you.

Why Olympic Lifts are used in each program?

 

Olympic lifts and the variations of lifts that are used here they appear in these programs for the simple reason that performed safely they are the best way to develop explosive power. These lifts are performed standing and use every muscle in the body For an effective minimal strength training program there needs to be the inclusion of explosive strength training and they Olympic lift variations are a good choice and are very functional lifts. The one disadvantage is that you do need a specialist coach to teach them effectively and safely. If your coach can't do this then it will be worth it for you to find a coach who can integrate these techniques into your program.

Minimal Strength Training Program 1-2 Days Per Week

I have used this program for many athletes who would like a program that wont be too time consuming and can deliver gains in both Strength and Explosiveness. This has been effective across a great range of Sports

Workout Day 1

 Snatch 4x5 sets at a weight you can handle and maintain good technique You will need to make of the exact weight you begin this workout with and many times I begin with just a bar for clients then go from there The focus is on bar movement speed not weight lifted. If the technique is wrong lower the weight on the bar. Your loading patter will be one warm up set followed by an increase in the second set. The third set will be the working set and is performed and will be performed at your heaviest and you will again decrease the weight in the final set You will increase the weight on the 3rd set each week but not at the expense of technique. 3 minutes rest between sets.

Front Squat 3 sets 8-10 with one warm up set and two working sets of 10. Your warm up set should be at around 60% RM, Your Second at 65% and your third at 55%. Each week you will add weight onto your second two sets. Take 1 minute rest between sets.

Workout Day 2

Clean 4x5 sets at a weight you can handle and maintain good technique You will need to make of the exact weight you begin this workout with and many times I begin with just a bar for clients then go from there The focus is on bar movement speed not weight lifted. If the technique is wrong lower the weight on the bar. Your loading pattern will be one warm up set followed by an increase in the second set. The third set will be the working set and is performed and will be performed at your heaviest and you will again decrease the weight in the final set You will increase the weight on the 3rd set each week but not at the expense of technique. 3 minutes between sets.

Bench Press 4 sets of 10 with one warm up set at 70% RM and two sets at 75% followed by a final set at 65% Each week you add weight to the final 3 sets. 1 minute rest between sets.

Minimal Strength Training Program 2- 3 Day Off-Season

 This for me is an effective off season program as it does allow the introduction of the Dead Lift which is something I have my athletes master in as many variations as possible. Again I have used this across a wide variety of Sports with many different athletes just with the 2 day program the results have been good.

Workout Day 1

 Snatch 4x5 sets at a weight you can handle and maintain good technique You will need to make of the exact weight you begin this workout with and many times I begin with just a bar for clients then go from there The focus is on bar movement speed not weight lifted. If the technique is wrong lower the weight on the bar. Your loading patter will be one warm up set followed by an increase in the second set. The third set will be the working set and is performed and will be performed at your heaviest and you will again decrease the weight in the final set You will increase the weight on the 3rd set each week but not at the expense of technique. 3 minutes rest between sets.

Front Squat 3 sets 8-10 with one warm up set and two working sets of 10. Your warm up set should be at around 60% RM, Your Second at 65% and your third at 55%. Each week you will add weight onto your second two sets. Take 1 minute rest between sets.

Workout Day 2

 Hang Clean 4x5 sets at a weight you can handle and maintain good technique You will need to make of the exact weight you begin this workout with and many times I begin with just a bar for clients then go from there The focus is on bar movement speed not weight lifted. If the technique is wrong lower the weight on the bar. Your loading patter will be one warm up set followed by an increase in the second set. The third set will be the working set and is performed and will be performed at your heaviest and you will again decrease the weight in the final set You will increase the weight on the 3rd set each week but not at the expense of technique. 3 minutes between sets.

 Dead Lift 3 sets 8-10 with one warm up set and two working sets of 10. Your warm up set should be at around 60% RM, Your Second at 65% and your third at 55%. Each week you will add weight onto your second two sets. Take 1 minute rest between sets.

Workout Day 3

Clean 4x5 sets at a weight you can handle and maintain good technique You will need to make of the exact weight you begin this workout with and many times I begin with just a bar for clients then go from there The focus is on bar movement speed not weight lifted. If the technique is wrong lower the weight on the bar. Your loading patter will be one warm up set followed by an increase in the second set. The third set will be the working set and is performed and will be performed at your heaviest and you will again decrease the weight in the final set You will increase the weight on the 3rd set each week but not at the expense of technique. 3 minutes between sets.

Bench Press 4 sets of 10 with one warm up set at 70% RM and two sets at 75% followed by a final set at 65% Each week you add weight to the final 3 sets. 1 minute rest between sets.

Minimal Strength Training Program 3- 5 to 5 Protocol

This one I've used many times for many sports when the aim of the session is to focus on one key lift each workout with 3 days per week working out. It is popular with athletes from many sports but in particular. This has also been an effective program for me to introduce many novice lifters too. Here is an example of how this may work for a Squat. This is called the 5 to 5 Protocol because you will work from one set of 5 repetitions up to 5 individual repetitions or singles.

Squat Day
5x75% RM 1st Warm Up Set
4x80% RM 2nd Warm Up Set
3x85% RM 3rd Warm Up Set
2x90% RM 4th Warm Up Set
5x Single Repetitions 95% RM

This just one variation on this method which I have used and developed and for my athletes strength training. To obtain the full program and learn how to improve your Strength you can purchase the Complete 5 to 5 Barbell Program here.

The read about one more effective minimal strength training program I also use you can read this post on the High Tension 3x3 Strength Training Program.

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