Gain 31 Pounds Before Football Training Camp (Part 3) by Elliott Hulse
This strength program is a combination of several styles and programs that I have discovered in my 10 years of experience. You will read about systems that I've learned from Joe DeFranco, Dave Tate and Louie Simmons (The EFS Boys). You will learn philosophies that I've adopted from BFS's Greg Shepard, Mike Boyle and Paul Chek. I've learned a ton by training with Strongman Champion Tom Mitchell and watching videos from the Parisi School. I enjoy reading Ian King, Charles Poliquin, Dan John and Arizona States Joe Kenn. I've combined systems from Power lifting, Strongman, Olympic lifting, Track and Field and Bodybuilding. I can tell you that there are probably hundreds of more coaches, books and seminars that I've learned from and they have all contributed in some way to my design for this incredible football training system.
As the title of this series insinuates, our main purpose is to gain MASS. But, we would like that mass to be in the form of MUSCLE MASS and in order to do so we must adhere to the principles outlined below. Getting big and fat is not an option for football players, you need to be big and strong while maintaining a level of relative body strength and of course, blazing speed.
"The Mixed Tool Bag" Training System
Getting bigger, getting stronger and getting faster requires that an athlete performs exercises that are associated with each one of those goals. There are exercises and systems of training that will get you strong, but not necessarily bigger. In the same light, there are exercises and training systems that will get you bigger but in the processes an athlete may become slower. But imagine a system that allows an athlete to get bigger, stronger and faster at the same time!
A "concurrent" approach to training is one in which several strength qualities are trained with in the same micro-cycle or week. Basically, we will use training systems that will get us stronger such as power lifting; systems that will get us bigger such as bodybuilding; and systems that will get us faster, such as jump training all at the same time.
If you are a football coach or a strength coach that has been in this field for some considerable amount of time you will be familiar with the old linear form or periodization. Basically, with linear periodization there are phases of training periods divided throughout an annual plan. It may look something like this - Hypertrophy, Strength, Power and Transition phases. These phases are broken down into sub-phases and macro or micro cycles. Reps, sets, exercises and percentages are varied to help an athlete reach a peak level of performance at a particular time.
Although this system seems logical at first there are a few, HUGE drawbacks.
First, when you move from one phase to another in linear periodization you leave behind the strength quality that had been developed during the previous phase.
For example if have just spent the last 5 weeks developing maximal strength with my athletes and it is now time to move into a power / speed phase… with the traditional western linear form of periodization I will be spending the next 5 weeks on Power while leaving behind the maximal strength method. What happens to our maximal strength you ask? It's capacity decreases. My athletes will get faster and more explosive but they will lose a huge chunk of the hard earned strength that was amassed in the prior phase.
With Concurrent periodization you train ALL strength qualities at the same time. This includes Hypertrophy (bodybuilding), Strength, Speed and Power all in the same program at the same time! I will also show you how to implement this program to receive the greatest results in the minimum time.
The next big problem with linear periodization is that it is based on percentages. So for example in the first phase you may be training with 65% of your one rep max on the bench press and in the second phase it may be 90%.
My first question is "how accurate can these percentages be?" And what about these so-called "maxes"? Lets say Joey Guns can bench press 300lbs and suppose he's training with 75% - 225lbs. Yet, when he comes to my gym and sees all the HUGE records on the board and hears 50 cent or Avenge 7 Fold blasting on the stereo he gets super pumped up and presses 355lbs! So now what? In all probability his training with 225 for the past 8 weeks was a complete waste of time.
With my system athletes are will always be training very close to their one rep max. Every week we perform ALL OUT maximal effort exercises, not puny percentages based on a number that was established during last months test day, which also happened to be the same day that Joey Guns' girlfriend dumped him.
Also, according to Vladimir Zatsiorsky in the text, Science and Practice of Strength Training, long breaks (from working at percentages close to your 1RM) can ruin physical fitness. Vladimir asks, "If a mountaineer wants to climb to the summit, will he climb halfway up then back down to go back up again?" These long breaks are detrimental because motor abilities are built and retained at different rates, which are fairly specific to each individual. Some may be lost very quickly while others will be held.
Finally, what about your multi-sport athlete? According to Dr. Greg Shepherd of Bigger, Faster, Stronger a periodization program done halfway properly can drive a coach nuts with its complexities. You've got 12 kids going out for basketball after the football season is over. Half of them will continue with a spring sport. The rest will join your lifting program with the other 24 kids that have been doing it for the last 8 weeks. In the summer you get 9 new kids come out for the football team and have to fit them into the lifting program with the other who have been lifting all spring. If this sounds like a nightmare to you, your right - it is!
Imagine a system that allows your athletes to transition from sport to sport and from in season to off seasons with incredible ease. Imagine your athletes could continually progress all year long and reach their fullest potential. Well that is exactly what I am going to show you how to do.
Tool #1 - Power lifting
With this method you will get Super Strong. When you lift heavy weights your nervous system and endocrine system are forced to adapt. First, the strain on the nervous system causes an increase in intermuscular and intra muscular coordination. It is this type of demand that causes your muscles to grow stronger. Also, whenever you strain with a heavy weight your endocrine system responds by increasing the release of anabolic hormones including testosterone and growth hormone. So basically you are causing your body to release its own form of Anabolic Steroids - naturally.
The one downside to using this method is that you can't train with weights above 90 percent RM for much longer than three to four weeks before the nervous system begins to become overwhelmed and weaken. When this happens your strength will begin to diminish.
The way to overcome this strength barrier is to change the exercises used for the max effort method every three weeks. This keeps the body fresh so the method can be used all-year round, in-season, off-season and rabbit season. Also, we have found that athletes enjoy the constant change of max effort exercises as they many become bored after a few weeks.
Tool #2 - Bodybuilding
Want to get HUGE? Do you want to gain a significant amount of muscle mass and strength? Then do what the biggest, most muscular, muscle mass monsters on earth do - Body build.
With this method we train all supplemental or auxiliary exercises meant to support your power lifting exercises. Generally, body builders use this method by training each muscle or exercise to its momentary failure (you cant move the weight any longer) with a lighter weight. When you train a muscle to failure the maximal number of motor units are recruited. This system of training is great for the development of muscle mass, which is why it's become so popular among the bodybuilding population.
The big drawback with this type of training, if done alone, is that it is done with sub-maximal weights and will fail to build your absolute strength. Just because a muscle is huge, doesn't mean that it is strong. We have all seen the guy at the gym or have had the kid on our team that LOOKS like a monster but the moment you put a barbell on his back he looks like he's going to have a seizure. Also, by training to failure on several sets you fatigue your nervous system to such a degree that it takes several days to recover and may hamper your strength gains.
In order to get the greatest benefit from this method without the drawbacks we will modify it slightly. Instead of performing every set to failure, we train with a weight until our form breaks down. So, if you are performing a set of biceps curls (ooh, did I say biceps curls in a football program?), for 4 sets of 12 and on the final set you begin to lose decent form on the 8th rep - simply stop. By training to failure on every set you'd be taking away from the general purpose of the movements, which is to increase work capacity and add to your overall strength not detract from it.
Tool #3 - Jump Training (Super Speed)
It is with this method that we take all that hard-earned muscle and turn them into weapons. This is when your arms actually become guns! Building strength is great and it is the foundation of improving all athletic capacity. Also, building size is not only great for knocking your opponents onto their heels the extra size will help you prevent injuries. But, none of this will get you a college scholarship, championship ring or professional contract if you're SLOW and unauthentic.
I call this method Super Speed because we use several different modalities to build Strength-Speed and Speed Strength. Basically there are times when we move moderate weight as fast as possible and times when we simply move our bodyweight as fast as possible as in plyometrics.
The objective here is to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible in the shortest period of time. This improves an athlete's ability to run faster, jump higher and change directions on a dime! Because of the enormous carryover of this method into sports performance a great deal of emphasis is put into this method, but it is often used improperly.
Please remember that although it would seem that the exercises used in this method alone would make you faster don't forget that your expression of speed is determined by your foundation of strength. Many coaches make the mistake of over emphasizing this method without first building the proper relative body strength that most young athletes lack. This would be analogous to putting the cart before the horse or putting on your tie before your suit.
Putting it all together (Sample Program)
Monday - Power Lifting Upper
1. Power Lifting Upper: Barbell Bench Press, work up to a 3-5 rep max.
2. Body Building Upper: Incline DB Bench Press, perform 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps.
3. Body Building Pull: Chin Ups super set with Band Face Pulls, perform 3-4 super sets of 8-12 reps.
4. Traps / Neck: Barbell Shrugs - 4 sets of 10
5. Arms: Barbell Curls - 4 sets of 10
Tuesday - Super Speed (Low volume early in the off season to high volume close to the season)
1. Dynamic Warm Up
2. Vertical Jumps x 5 -10
3. Broad Jumps x 5 - 10
4. 20 Yard Dash x 5 - 10
Wednesday - Power Lifting Lower
1. Power Lifting Lower: Back Squats, work up to a 3-5 rep max.
3. Posterior Chain: Glute Ham Bench, perform 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps.
4. Abdominal Circuit -
V-ups x 10
Push Through x 10
Knee Push x 10
Bicycles x 10
Single leg pushes x 10
Straight Leg sit ups x 10
Thursday - Super Speed (Low volume to high volume)
1. Dynamic Warm Up
2. Box Jumps x 5 -10
3. Bounding for distance (20 yards) x 6
4. 20 Yard Dash x 5 - 10
Friday - Bodybuilding
1. Body Building Upper: Barbell Band Push Ups, perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps
2. Body Building Pull: Lat Pull downs super set with Rear Delt Flys Perform 3-4 super sets of 8-12 reps.
3. Body Building Push: Standing Dumbbell Press, perform 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps:
4. Grip: Plate Pinches for time
5. Abdominal: Weighted Crunches 4 x 8-12
You may have noticed that there is nothing 'cutting edge' or unique about this program. But, if you read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series you'll remember that it's not built on special gadgets and secret systems. This program is built on ATTITUDE!
If you've decided that football is the world to you and you've forgone all other "filler sports" during your off-season, you will concentrate single mindedly on getting massive, strong and super fast.
Next year you will be older, perhaps in a bigger program and twice the athlete you were last season. You need to get bigger, you need to get stronger and you need to get faster, and I just showed you how.
Elliott Hulse's eBook - The Critical Gridiron Program