I’m making this thread because of the high number of questions I see (and receive) regarding athletic training. Hopefully, it will answer any of the questions you may have. The primary sports covered in this thread are football and rugby, but you can use this information to train for any sport imaginable. Let’s get started.
Strength and Power
The key to building strength is to pound the compound lifts and progress on them. I would recommend choosing a routine and following it. It is possible to design a good routine but this can be a very challenging task. Here are a couple of my favorite routines.
Joe Defranco’s Westside for Skinny Bastards part 3
Bill Starr’s 5x5
You can always design your routine. Keep in mind that this can get challenging, so I recommend you follow a pre made routine. When I designed mine, I based the workouts around a lower body lift and an upper body lift, followed by the accessory work. Well placed accessory work can build muscle mass and assist your big lifts if done right. I used an A B style routine done on mon, wed, fri ABA BAB like Starting Strength.
1.Box squat 3x3
2.Bench press 3x5
3.DB shoulder press 3x8
6.Posterior chain exercise 3x5-10
7.Core work 3 sets
2.Push press 4x3
3.DB bench press 3x8
4.Chin/pull ups 3x5-12
5.Rear delt work 3x8
6.Unilateral leg exercise 3x5
7.Core work 3 sets
You should perform dynamic stretching and mobility work before workouts. This is very important. You should always perform weak link exercises at the end of workouts, if necessary.
Tuesday and Thursday are reserved for plyometrics, agility work, speed, and conditioning.
When choosing exercises, there is no ultimate movement. It all depends on the athlete’s strengths and weaknesses. I use box squats because they allow me to work on exploding from a dead stop, which aids me in training for quickness off the line. I used deadlifts instead of Olympic lifts because I am doing explosive exercises on off days, and also because I enjoy deadlifts. The reason for bench press is simple. It is a horizontal lift which has a carryover to football. Push presses were used because they train overhead pressing combined with leg drive.
Now, let’s switch gears to power. Power is a product of strength and speed/acceleration. To become powerful, you need to build strength and increase your Rate of Force Development (RFD). Strength is described as being able to move a certain amount of weight. Rate of Force Development is the amount of time it takes you to do so. If someone can squat 500lbs but it takes 5sec to do so, they are obviously strong. If someone can put out 300lbs of force in 1/4sec, they have a good RFD. Any explosive exercise will increase your RFD. Plyometrics such as jumps, throws, slams, and sprinting are good choices. You can also use tire flips, Olympic lifts, dynamic effort weight lifting, band punches, clap push ups, etc. Anything that requires a rapid explosion will help you. Olympic lifts are considered the king of exercises by many. I don’t agree with this. While they are very effective, they are very technique savvy and require a lot of form work. You must use good form on these lifts, because not doing so can increase the risk of injury and decrease the effectiveness of the exercise. IMO, stick to jumps, throws, slams, and tire flips if you wish. These are all very easy to master and require very little to zero form work. Not only are they convenient, they are very effective. Power plays a huge role in combat sports, ranging from take downs, tackling, blocking, and even increasing sprint speed/acceleration.
Always perform plyometrics and other explosive exercises at the beginning of your workout, so you will be fresh. They can also be done on non lifting days.
You will find that increasing your overall power will aid you tremendously in sprint speed/acceleration. Hip mobility and overall flexibility are very important as well. There is a difference between speed training and conditioning. Speed training requires longer rest periods to ensure you are fully recovered. To build speed and explosiveness, you need to be fresh so you can perform with maximum output.
When training for acceleration, you need to work with short distance sprints. I would go no higher than 20yds. Resisted sprints such as hills, prowlers, and sleds will aid you as well. Do not use these too often because they can mess up your form which will carry over to your normal unresisted sprinting. I would use them no more than 1x a week.
For top speed, you should work with longer distances such as 40yd and 80yd sprints. Focus on the top speed during this style of training. Long rest periods as well. Resistance bands are proven to help increase top speed, so you might want to check them out.
Throughout my training, I have used ball drops as a staple in my training. They are very effective at increasing quickness off the line. I highly recommend them.
Agility is described as being quick on your feet. Think of a cat… It can change direction very quickly, it has good balance when doing so, it can stop abruptly, and it can get back up to speed effortlessly. This means the cat is agile. My favorite agility drills include cone work (L’s and triangles) and ladders. You can search around youtube and find different drills to perform on a ladder.
The best time for speed training is on days that you don't lift weights. Doing them after workouts is bad because you will be pre-drained which keeps you from using full intensity. It can be done before workouts as long as it won't take away from your lifting.
This is described as preparing yourself for a specific task. You need to be training the proper energy system to get the most out of your conditioning.
Football is an alactic sport which requires repeated bouts of short, intense activity. To condition for football, you need to do alactic work with short rest periods. Alactic means that you are performing at very high intensity for less than 10sec. Lactic acid is not produced and it does not require oxygen. A sample workout would be performing a tire flip followed by a 15yd sprint, with 30sec rest in between sets. Gassers, 300yd shuttles, and most of the usual football conditioning drills have no carryover to real games. That is because these usual drills are training a different energy system.
Rugby is heavily lactic, which means you are performing activity for 10sec-1min. This is still anaerobic and does not require oxygen. Lactic acid is produced. Sample lactic work includes gassers, 300yd shuttles, suicides, running snakes on bleachers, etc.
Basketball can vary depending on the intensity of the game and the level of skill. It can go from alactic, to lactic, to even aerobic, which is the oxygen system. Aerobic exercise requires a steady supply of oxygen, and is performed for an extended period of time. Sample work includes jogging, jump rope, biking, swimming, HIIT, Indian runs, etc.
My best advice is to do some research and determine the primary energy system used in your sport, and go from there.
Conditioning should be done on non lifting days or post workout.
To determine the proper diet plan, you need to sort out your goals. Do you want to maintain, gain, or lose weight?
To gain weight, you need to be eating a caloric surplus, around 250-500cals over your maintenance level. This translates to a gain of 0.5-1lb per week. The weight gain phase is called bulking. I don’t usually recommend bulking and cutting stages to athletes, but this is the easiest way to explain.
To lose weight, you need to be in a caloric deficit, around 500cals under your maintenance level. That will give you a loss of around 1lb per week. Trainees at higher bodyfat percentages can lose weight at a faster rate without having to worry about losing muscle mass. Keep in mind that you have a greater chance of losing strength during a cut, so you need to watch out for that. Try to consume as much protein as possible during a cut to maintain muscle mass.
To maintain weight, you need to be eating around your maintenance level.
The best way to find your maintenance level is to monitor the scale and bodyfat percentage. You can also use these links for diet help:
So there you have it.