What is Sports Conditioning?
If you’re an athlete and you’re competing against someone at the same skill level as you but they have been doing a sports conditioning program, they will beat you. Skill training in sports are different than strength and conditioning but they do crossover.
You may have competed against that same personal one year earlier but now they seem different. They’re stronger and they don’t get tired. By the end of the game, match or race they are competing at the same level as when they started.
This is the benefit of doing a sports conditioning program. Your strength, power and endurance will be at its peak when you start your season. You’ll be prepared to handle all the skill work required when you start sport specific training program.
Doing a sports conditioning program before your season may help prevent injuries which will keep you in the game all season long.
Sports conditioning programs will vary depending on the sport that you’re doing but a lot of the principles will remain the same.
Here are some examples of sports conditioning for a few different sports.
If you’re a football player you will need a different sports conditioning program depending on the position that you’re playing. If you’re in the offensive of defensive line, then you will be focused on strength and power. If you’re a wide receiver your focus will be speed with some strength and power. Defensive ends will work in a similar way as wide receivers and tight ends will have a similar sports conditioning as a linebacker.
If you see the different positions in the weight room you will notice that each position will be working on something different. Wide receivers will be working on sprints, cleans, squats, jumps, sled sprints and anything else to improve they’re on the field speed. Running backs will be focused on a mix of speed and strength.
Line positions will be focused on putting on size and that may require lots of volume training in the weight room. Big lifts like squats, deadlifts, power cleans, bench press, incline press and shoulder press would be a major area of focus for the line positions.
Sports conditioning programs are very different for runners.
Sprinters will have a sports conditioning program that is close to that of a wide receiver playing football. This is because sprinters need a lot of power and strength to improve their top end speed. Building a program around sprints with a sled, power cleans, barbell squats and even some deadlifts will be a part of the sprinters program. Sprinters will also add barbell complexes into their workouts because this will improve VO2 max while improving power.
Side note VO2 max is: “the maximum amount of oxygen the body can utilize during a specified period of usually intense exercise.”
When you see a sprinter next to a distance runner you can tell that their training programs are very different. One runner is focused on power and the other is focused on economy while running. A body packed with muscle pays off for a sprinter but not for a distance runner. The extra mass will weigh down the distance runner and cause slower times.
It’s important to remember that it’s ok to put on muscle for a sprinter.
Marathoners, Half-marathoners, 10000m and 5000m will all have similar sports conditioning programs. Running for distance is all about building up your aerobic system 80% of the time and your anaerobic 20% of the time. When you’re training for a longer race you will spend most of your time in the off season working on base building.
When you’re in a base building program runs should be easy. You should be able to talk to someone running next to you without an issue. Wearing a heartrate watch and keeping your heartrate under 155bpm is a starting point for a base building program. The gold standard for heartrate training is to get a heartrate zone test. Here is a great article on what an heartrate test is http://www.startribune.com/what-is-a-metabolic-assessment-and-how-can-it-help-you-lose-weight/389235351/
During base building distance runners, may never work on speed or they may pepper in a little to keep things interesting. If the runner works on speed to soon they will peak prematurely and not be at peak fitness for the race. Timing is key.
Distance runners will benefit from working on big lifts in the gym like squats, cleans, deadlifts, leg press and lunges. This will help the runner with force production while running and prevent injury. Doing the strength program in a circuit provides a side benefit for the runner because it elevates the heartrate where standard weight training will not as much. When doing a strength program for distance running it’s important to focus on lower body workouts, core and a tiny bit of upper body. Putting on mass is something you don’t want as a distance runner. The runners goal is to get more muscles firing and to prevent injury when training in the weight room.
Boxing or MMA
When training for boxing and MMA the athlete wants to focus on building endurance and power. This is done by doing a running program and lots of training on the heavy bag or in the gym with a sparring partner.
Weight training is a great idea for the lower body and doing core training is a must. Doing a high amount of shoulder exercises will cause the muscle to become bigger slowing it down when trying to throw a punch.
MMA fighters want to build a lot of power in the hips because they have a goal of tossing their opponent to the ground. Building a program around squats, deadlifts and power cleans is a good idea during the offseason. Keep in mind focusing on these big lifts during fight training may make cutting weight harder and being sore from lifting might get in the way for skill training. Building muscle in the off season will pay off in the ring because just like with runners the fighter will have higher force production without all the extra muscle.
Off season programs for boxing is all about endurance. Running, heavy bag training and speed bag work is a must. Building up a strong core is important to keep the boxer upright at the end of the fight when they’re tired. Building programs around bodyweight with equipment like TRX is great for boxers. This will allow the boxer to get extra core strength, lower and upper body strength without putting on extra size. Having big muscles will slow the boxer down while throwing punches so building muscle should be avoided. Many pro boxers will run up to 9 miles per day to build the endurance for a fight but it’s a good idea to focus on aerobic training with a little bit of high intensity training to get the most out of the workout.
When building a Sports conditioning program, it’s important that the athlete will have proper periodization. Periodization: “is the systematic planning of athletic or physical training. The aim is to reach the best possible performance in the most important competition of the year. It involves progressive cycling of various aspects of a training program during a specific period.”
When building a program, the athlete will want to have proper progression built into the program. Every program should have planned macro, meso and mirco cycles.
When planning each cycle, you will want to make sure that the balance of volume and intensity is in check. If the intensity is high than the volume should be low and vise-versa. Training cycles will very from sport to sport but most meso cycles will last from 3-4 weeks with a deload week planned for the athlete.
A deload week is a planned week of rest to allow the body to rest and come back stronger. This will maximize the results you’ll get from the program and will prevent injury. Here is a great read on how to set up your deload week.
What is Sports Conditioning? Sports conditioning is training the body to get ready for the training season for athletes. Training programs will vary from sport to sport. Doing a Sports conditioning program will help the athlete out preform other athletes that are at a similar skill level. When building, a sports conditioning it’s important to use periodization to make sure that the athlete does not over train and is in top shape for the skill training coming up for their sport.
Check out our blog on active recovery