Strength is the foundation of all movement. We have seen too many programs, schools or facilities just load up the bar and have the athlete figure it out on their own. Gray Cook said “Don’t add strength to dysfunction”. I love this quote and take it very serious when we begin to work with an athlete. Examining this quote makes me realize how important a foundation really is to an athlete. We really focus on the fact that strength creates stability, lack of strength creates instability and instability leads to injury.
When an athlete first walks into our facility he or she will undergo a thorough evaluation. We not only assess the way they move from head to toe, what their strong points are or where they have deficiencies, we also ask questions like; “What is your injury history?” “Where have you trained before and what have you done as far as weight lifting?” The latter question is important to discover what is called a “training age”. A training age is described as, how long the athlete has been training. We make sure to explain to them this is not sport specific but in a structured weight lifting program. This will assist us in building a program that fits the athlete’s needs.
No matter the training age we always begin with building foundational strength. If the athlete has never trained in our facility, is coming off a season or an injury we always work on building or rebuilding foundational strength. In early training age individuals, it is very easy to build strength just in a three day a week program due to the adaptions the body will make. The biggest point that coaches stress to our athletes in the foundational phase is to not allow the athlete to get greedy with the weights. Focus on progressive over load and continue to let the movement be efficient. Stress that joint placement dictates muscle function in a movement or sprinting mechanic.
Building foundational strength can be achieved through body weight movements, this will create body awareness. Introduce your primary lifts and teach the hell out of them. Any athlete should know how to squat, hinge, push, pull, accelerate and decelerate. Examples of these can consist of bridges, planks, TRX Row Holds at the Top, Isometric Squats, Isometric Push Ups, PVC Pipe hinging, and core movements. The majority of the core movements we implement consist of anti-flexion, anti-extension and anti-rotation. These movements are determined by the athletes training age,needs and posture. We will progress towards loaded bilateral and unilateral movements. More complex movements may consist of front squats, RDL, Trap Bar Deadlift, Chin Ups, Goblet Lunges, etc.
Once the foundation is built you will see the strength and athleticism of the athlete increases. Strength will decrease chance of injury as well as keep the athlete on the field. Remember to always assess and reassess and address what the athlete is lacking and keep training age in mind. There is no perfect program but the athlete will respond quickly if a program is set into place properly.