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The Essential Components of a Sound Athletic Training Program

December 8, 2010

By Gerard Bochese

Last week we began to talk about designing a basic athletic program, which is different from a regular fitness program for those merely looking for a “beach body”.  An athletic program must not only make you look good but also help you perform well in a sport and stay injury free.

In designing an athletic routine it is important to include the following components to create a sound strength program:

Pillar Strength – This is core strength.  All movement begins in the core and passes through the core.  Our extremity strength (arms and legs) is based on a strong foundation or platform to perform off of – this is our core.  So we must begin our strength training program with exercises that strengthen our core.

Power Exercises – These develop total body power.  These are Olympic lifts (cleans, snatches, etc) or plyometric exercises such as squat jumps, medicine ball throws and slams, kettlebell work, etc.

Knee Dominant Exercises – These are basically single and double leg squats where bending to lower the body occurs at the knee.  These can also be viewed as lower body pushing exercises.

Hip-Dominant Exercises – These are straight leg dead lifts and single leg versions of this exercise.  This also includes bridging-type movements.  In these exercises we maintain a 20 degree bend in the knee throughout the exercise and the bending (or hinging) occurs at the hips.  These can be classified as lower body pulling movements.

Horizontal Pressing Movements – These include the bench press and dumbbell press and their variations, as well as push ups.  It’s very important to also perform these horizontal presses from a vertical standing position, such as a standing cable press or standing resistance band press.

Vertical Pressing Movements – These include overhead presses and their variations, including dumbbell and Olympic bar.

Horizontal Pulling Movements – These include rowing motions such as dumbbell rows and cable rows.

Vertical Pulling Movements – Cable pull downs and, more importantly, pull ups.  Remember, these two exercises are 180 degrees different from each other.  Pull downs will not do much to improve your pull up ability, only pull ups will.  (see my blog on pull up variations).

Now that we know what movements we must include in our strength program, it is critical to balance the program with an equal number of sets and reps from each category to create a balanced and strong body. An unbalanced program will often lead to injury.

Ex. An imbalance of horizontal presses to horizontal/vertical pulls will almost always lead to rotator cuff problems.

Ex. An imbalance of knee-dominant to hip-dominant exercises will often lead to hamstring problems.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 8, 2010 8:41 am

    I couldn’t agree more with the suggestions above for a sound routine. I’m a member of a Crossfit gym that offers all of those components (including the Olympic style lifting). The only complaint I have around Crossfit – when implementing these exercises there is potential for injury due to the fast past nature of the routines. If these are exercises are done with the correct form in a supervised environment your body will literally transform (as mine has in a matter of weeks)!

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