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Chapter 4. Conditioning & Strength Training in Athletics. Overview. Purpose of conditioning and strength training Fitness-testing procedures Fitness-testing parameters Exercise prescription Developing the strength-training program Types of strength training Equipment selection

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Chapter 4

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Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Conditioning & Strength Training in Athletics



  • Purpose of conditioning and strength training

  • Fitness-testing procedures

  • Fitness-testing parameters

  • Exercise prescription

  • Developing the strength-training program

  • Types of strength training

  • Equipment selection

  • Integrating other fitness components

  • Preventing injury

Purpose of conditioning and strength training

Purpose of Conditioning and Strength Training

  • Athletes’, and the athletic trainer's, role in conditioning and strength training

    • Optimize performance & athletic development

    • Prevent injury

  • People in other exercise settings

    • Enhance health and wellness

    • Optimize performance

  • Older adults

    • Maintain health and wellness

    • Improve quality of living

Fitness testing procedures

Fitness-Testing Procedures

  • Measures the athlete's level of fitness

    • Helps identify muscle groups or energy sources that need to be trained

  • Usually includes tests of muscular function, cardiovascular function, speed, agility, and body composition

    • SPARQ testing provides sport-specific evaluation


  • Preseason participation evaluation

Fitness testing procedures1

Fitness-Testing Procedures

  • Ongoing evaluations

    • For athletes

      • Help to identify particular weaknesses that may have developed

    • For physically active (non competitive athletes)

      • Indicate progress toward fitness goals and whether changes in the program are advisable

  • Postseason fitness evaluations

    • Used to plan and assess the off-season training program

Fitness testing parameters

Fitness-Testing Parameters

  • Muscle function

    • Muscle strength

      • Ability of the muscle or group of muscles to overcome a resistance

      • 1-repetition maximum (1RM) test

    • Muscular endurance

      • Ability of a muscle or group of muscles to perform a repetitive action

      • Sit-ups, push-ups, or more sport-specific evaluations such as the squat with a light weight for a cross country runner

    • Muscle power

      • Rate of performing work: A weight lifted (force) through a range of movement (usually a vertical distance) divided by the unit of time required to perform the lift

      • Vertical jump

Fitness testing parameters1

Fitness-Testing Parameters

  • Cardiovascular function

    • Evaluating aerobic power

      • Ability to use oxygen in performing work

      • 1.5 mile (2.4 km) timed run, step test, 2 mile (3.2 km) timed run

    • Evaluating anaerobic power

      • Ability to perform activities of very short duration using metabolic processes that produce energy without oxygen

      • Vertical jump, shuttle run

Fitness testing parameters2

Fitness-Testing Parameters

  • Agility and speed

    • Agility

      • The ability to start, stop, and change direction

      • Shuttle run, T-test, Edgren Side Step test

      • Proper footwear; time to learn the pattern before being timed

    • Speed

      • Length of time required to travel a set distance

      • Running—preferably in distances similar to those that occur in the sport; timed dashes such as the 40 yd (37 m) or 100 yd (91 m) dash for sports with short bursts of sprinting

Fitness testing parameters3

Fitness-Testing Parameters

  • Flexibility

    • Joint structure

      • Structure of joint surface determines the motions available

      • Ball-and-socket versus other types of joints

    • Effects of muscle size

      • Muscle bulk can limit movement

      • Can avoid this loss of flexibility in two ways: stretching the same muscle that is strengthened and strengthening the opposite muscles (antagonists)

Fitness testing parameters4

Fitness-Testing Parameters

  • Flexibility (cont.)

    • Ligament and tendon composition

      • All connective tissues are made up of collagen and elastin

    • Some people have more elasticity than others have

    • Age and sex

      • Females tend to be more flexible than males

      • As people age, they tend to decrease in flexibility

    • Active people are more flexible than sedentary people

Fitness testing parameters5

Fitness-Testing Parameters

  • Flexibility (cont.)

    • Testing

    • Importance

    • Hamstring: sit-and-reach test

    • Pectoralis major muscles: supine, elbows clasped behind head; then relax shoulders to allow elbows to move toward table

Fitness testing parameters6

Fitness-Testing Parameters

  • Height, weight, and body composition

    • Uses of anthropometry: height and weight

      • To determine position on team an athlete is best suited for

      • Self-knowledge

      • Unexpected changes can be a sign of a medical condition

Fitness testing parameters7

Fitness-Testing Parameters

  • Height, weight, and body composition

    • Body composition test is more significant

      • Amount of fat in relation to lean tissue

      • High levels of fat affect ability to move optimally and are associated with certain diseases and illnesses

      • Methods of measuring

        • Skin calipers

        • Body mass index

        • Hydrostatic weighing

        • Bioelectrical impedance

Exercise prescription

Exercise Prescription

  • Needs analysis—considering the objectives of the program

    • What muscle groups should be conditioned?

    • Demands of sport: Physiological and biomechanical analysis of the skills of the sport

    • Abilities of the athlete

    • Energy systems

    • Muscle activity: concentric, eccentric, or isometric?

    • Injury patterns

      • Team's injury history

      • Athlete’s injury history

Exercise prescription1

Exercise Prescription

  • Goal setting

    • Short-term goals

      • Include immediate (individual day) and short-range (month) goals

      • Contribute to the long-term goal

    • Long-term goals

      • Must be established by the athlete

      • Should be specific, measurable, and attributable to the conditioning program

    • Limitations to the plan

      • Recognize that obstacles to achieving the goal will occur, and establish alternate plans

      • Provide communication and encouragement

Exercise prescription2

Exercise Prescription

  • Exercise plans

    • Training volume: Amount of work performed

    • Exercise order

    • Station approach: Maximize overload on one muscle group before moving to the next

    • Circuit training: Work a muscle group to fatigue, and then hurry to the next exercise, maintaining the elevated heart rate

Developing the strength training program

Developing the Strength-Training Program

  • Resistance and overload: essential to every program

  • Exercise intensity

    • The percentage of the 1RM: relationship of percentage to strength gains

    • Hypertrophy method

    • Goal is increased muscle mass through increasing the size of individual muscle fibers

    • 5 to 12 reps at 70 to 85% of the 1RM

  • High-intensity training method (HIT)

    • Goal is to improve recruitment of existing muscle fibers rather than to increase the size of the fibers

    • Intensity reaches up to 100%; amount of weight increased if athlete can lift prescribed weight more than four times

Developing the strength training program1

Developing the Strength-Training Program

  • Periodization

    • Brings about peak performance by constantly changing training stimulus (intensity, volume, specificity, etc.)

    • Reduces risk of injury and overtraining

    • Macrocycle comprised of mesocycles, mesocycles comprised of microcycles

Developing the strength training program2

Developing the Strength-Training Program

  • Macrocycle

    • Duration of competitive training

      • Annual for most athletes, every four years for Olympic athletes

    • Progresses from high volume, low intensity non-sport specific to low volume, low intensity, sport specific activity

Developing the strength training program3

Developing the Strength-Training Program

  • Mesocycle

    • Preparatory phase

      • Off-season (3 sub-phases)

        • Hypertrophy/endurance

          • Low intensity, high volume

          • Non-sport specific

        • Strength

          • Moderate intensity, moderate volume

        • Power

          • High intensity, low volume

          • Sport-specific

Developing the strength training program4

Developing the Strength-Training Program

  • Mesocycles (continued)

    • In-season

      • Competition phase

        • Maintenance driven

        • High intensity, low volume

    • Post-season

      • Transition phase

        • Unstructured

        • Allows time to recover physically & psychologically

Developing the strength training program5

Developing the Strength-Training Program

  • Progressive overload

    • Gradual increase in the stress placed on a muscle as it gains strength or endurance

    • Accomplished through increasing repetitions or resistance

Developing the strength training program6

Developing the Strength-Training Program

  • Rest periods and training frequency

    • Rest periods: Amount of time between consecutive sets

      • Longer—3 to 5 min—when training for absolute strength (1RM loads)

      • Shorter—30 to 60 sec—when training for muscle hypertrophy (8-12 reps with submaximal weight)

      • Rest periods in circuit training: 1:1 ratio and when to modify

    • Training frequency: Length of time between exercise sessions

      • Typically, weight training done on alternating days

      • Longer recovery needed if early in exercise program, if exercises are multijoint, if maximal or near-maximal loads are used

      • Shorter recovery needed if low volume used on days between high-volume training, or if athlete has been weightlifting on a regular basis for several years

Types of strength training

Types of Strength Training

  • Isometric

    • Muscle generates a force, but there is no joint movement; resistance is greater than the athlete is able to move

    • Strength gains are greatest at the precise joint position at which the contraction is performed

    • Isometrics are not often applicable to sport performance, though consider holding positions in wrestling and gymnastics, abdominal muscles in swimming, abdominal and back muscles in running

    • Difficult to measure the overload

Types of strength training1

Types of Strength Training

  • Isotonic

    • Moving the joint through a range of motion with a set amount of resistance applied

    • Occurs in lifting free weights and in most activities of daily living

  • Variable resistance

    • Delivers a varying resistance at different points in the range of motion

    • Offset cam on Nautilus/variable-resistance machines; sliding lever bar systems; rubber bands or elastic tubing (provides increased resistance as the band is elongated)

  • Isokinetics

    • Muscular action performed at a constant velocity

    • Isokinetic machines provide a maximum resistance throughout the entire range of joint movement

Types of strength training2

Types of Strength Training

  • Concentric and eccentric training

    • Most sports involve both phases

    • Concentric muscle activity

      • The shortening of the muscle when a limb moves through a range of motion with a resistance applied

      • This muscle action is the force-production part of almost every human movement

    • Eccentric muscle activity

      • The lengthening of a muscle (lengthening contraction) that occurs with lowering of a weight

      • Does not occur in every form of isokinetic exercise (some isokinetic machines do allow eccentric contractions), proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation exercises, or manual resistance exercises without modifications

      • Does occur with most other weightlifting machines and in all forms of body weight conditioning (push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, etc.)

Types of strength training3

Types of Strength Training

  • Plyometrics

    • Also known as stretch-shortening cycle exercise

      • Stretch phase: Eccentric loading phase

      • Shortening phase: Force-production or concentric phase

      • Every physical activity incorporates the stretch-shortening cycle

    • Critical feature: A concentric force production follows every eccentric load absorption

    • When a muscle is stretched prior to the onset of a contraction, the contraction is greater than it would have been otherwise

    • Can be used as part of a rehabilitation program or to prepare for a specialized skill or performance

Equipment selection

Equipment Selection

  • Must understand biomechanics of the sport or activity, then attempt to find specific exercises to challenge the relevant muscles to adapt, and choose equipment on these parameters

  • Free weights

  • Strength-training machines

    • Can be less expensive than free weights

    • Safer for young athletes—cannot drop weight on foot or chest

    • May not provide an adequate range of exercises for all sizes of athletes or for all strength levels

Equipment selection1

Equipment Selection

  • Individual machines

    • Take up more space and cost more than free weights

    • Major benefit: can exercise an individual joint action or muscle group

  • Other equipment

    • Functional activities

    • Plyo balls, elastics, swimming or pool work

  • Comparing equipment types

    • In general, free weights are thought to be more beneficial than machines

    • Machines offer an advantage when range of motion is limited—in rehabilitation situations or for athletes who have disabilities

Integrating other fitness components

Integrating Other Fitness Components

  • Aerobic endurance training

    • Nearly every physical activity requires some degree of cardiovascular, or aerobic, endurance

    • Establish fitness level by using a cardiovascular stress test to determine the maximal heart rate

    • The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends an exercise intensity for aerobic conditioning between 60 and 90% of the maximal heart rate (or 50 to 80% of the VO2max obtained in a stress test)

    • Overload required, short-term goals leading to long-term goals in a steady progression

Integrating other fitness components1

Integrating Other Fitness Components

  • Anaerobic training

    • Not as universally required as aerobic training, but critical in most sport activities

    • Training principles

      • Requires short, intense bursts of activity

      • Should be sport specific

      • Possible methods: running short, intense sprints; performing short, intense bouts on a slide-board, bicycle, step-up equipment; and so on

      • Cannot be sustained for long periods of time

      • Can use interval training to allow body to recover

    • Who should train anaerobically?

      • Primarily for people with moderate level of fitness who want to improve this aspect of their conditioning

      • Not appropriate for older adults or others who have low fitness levels, or for anyone who might risk injury doing exercise at high intensity

      • People at risk for cardiovascular disease should be carefully screened

    • Program design

      • Advantageous to vary distances of sprints during the workout

      • Increase volume gradually to avoid injury: Increase mileage or time spent by no more than 10% per week

      • Alternate interval training days with days of rest or more moderately paced exercise

Integrating other fitness components2

Integrating Other Fitness Components

  • Flexibility/stretching programs

    • Rationale for stretching: reduction of injury? improvement of sport performance? use in rehabilitation?

    • Passive stretching

      • No work on the part of the athlete

      • Another person carries limb through range of motion; must have training

    • Active stretching

      • Athlete takes an active role in the stretching

      • Uses his or her own body to produce the stretch

    • Contract/relax stretching

      • Partner or therapist provides the resistance to the contraction and stretches the muscle group

      • Preliminary contraction may allow the muscle to more fully relax during the stretching cycle

      • Single, straight plane of motion

Integrating other fitness components3

Integrating Other Fitness Components

  • Flexibility/stretching programs

    • Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF)

      • Requires that three movements occur: flexion/extension, abduction/adduction, and rotation

      • Diagonal patterns of movement traversing three planes

    • Stretching methods

      • Static: Joint moved to the point at which tightness is felt, and that position held

      • Ballistic: Involves a bouncing movement; not entirely safe

      • Dynamic: Involves sport-specific movements; for example, "high knees" for sprinters

Preventing injury

Preventing Injury

  • Coaching methods

    • Particular coaching techniques or instructions can cause or prevent injuries (e.g., spearing versus head up during tackling in football)

    • National Standards for Athletic Coaches (National Association for Sport and Physical Education/American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance [AAHPERD])

  • Matching athletes on motor skill performance

  • Controlling biomechanical stress/overuse

  • Role of extrinsic forces (someone else landing on your foot)

  • Modifying physical demands placed on athlete (being aware of illness and fatigue)

Considerations for female athletes

Considerations for Female Athletes

  • Hormonal differences

  • Neural differences

  • Strength/body weight ratio

    • Absolute vs. relative strength

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