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Coaching Spring10:Coaching Spring 09 6/14/10 12:49 AM Page 12

Basics of Resistance Training by Chase Kough, NSCA-CPT


n appropriate program of resistance training can improve athletic performance in every track and field event, and at every level from beginner to Olympic champion. Of course, such training is most beneficial when it’s not only based on the requirements of each event, but also on the needs and capabilities of each specific athlete. This article is intended to help you as a coach plan the optimal resistance training program for each of the many athletes you train.

Requirements of the event Each track and field event requires a different combination of physical skills. The coach can learn these requirements either by reading, studying photo sequences, filmed or taped instructionals, contact with other coaches, attending seminars and the like, as well as by a close observation of athletes in the flesh. Whatever the means, it’s a worthwhile investment of your time — the knowledge gained will be useful throughout your coaching career. Your objective should be to analyze the movements involved in performing each event, and break them down into components that can be worked on in the training program. To put it another way, an effective strength training program mimics as closely as possible the movements involved in the event itself — so that the athlete will be able to transfer the new strength gains into improved performance. There are the three major considerations in analyzing each event: 1. Break down the body-movement patterns by muscle involvement and limb actions. 2. Assess the physiological requirements of the event, such as muscular endurance, flexibility, strength, power and/or hypertrophy. 3. Injury prevention: Know the injuries common to each event and know how to prevent them through proper training.

12 Coaching Athletics Quarterly - Spring 2010

Planning for the individual athlete The key elements to be considered are the athlete’s fitness level, work capacity, recovery rate, and technical experience in the event. No two athletes will be similar in all of these areas. Let’s look at a couple of extreme examples. One is a 16-year-old male who just recently joined the track team and wants to be a high jumper. After basic fitness tests, he appears healthy; however, he is 5'10" and weighs 195 pounds, at least 15 pounds overweight for his age and musculature. He says he enjoys sports, but currently does not perform any other physical activity outside of track practice. In coaching him, you’ll want to start him on exercises to improve his general fitness level. Following dynamic warmup, have him perform very basic plyometric drills, bounding exercises and body weight–reactive jump exercises to improve his own body weight explosiveness. His weight training should be comprised of basic movements to strengthen the legs, lower back and abdominals 1–2 times a week. Additionally, while not sport-specific, 15–20 minutes of cardio 2–3 times per week may be needed to promote extra fat loss. The rest of the time should be spent on basic high jumping principles that include the proper approach, takeoff, flight pattern, leg clearing and landing. Example two is an 18-year-old senior who has been high jumping for six years, starting in middle school. He’s fit, and has excellent high-jump technique. To jump higher, he needs a program that will help him produce more power. His workouts should be a combination of eventspecific weight training and plyometric drills. Weight training can be performed 3–4 times a week, made up of powerful movements that strengthen the legs and core. Example exercises for this athlete should be power cleans, squats, jump half squats, deadlifts, knee lifts, abdominal variations and explosive plyometric drills. No additional cardio would be needed, and in fact, it would only be a hindrance to his speed and explosiveness. Thus, even though both athletes are performing at the same event, and possibly even at the same track meets, their training regimens should be different and specific to their individual needs. And for them to get the most out of their training, you should explain each exercise and how and why it will help them reach their goals.


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