Thursday, May 14, 2009

Movement Based Program Design: Strength-Power Development

Developing the optimal strength training program to elicit maximal adaptation at an exact point in time is not an easy task and takes sound systems that are constantly being re-evaluated:

“The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.” -John Kenneth Galbraith

Within the Athletes' Performance Training System (APTS) we focus on the idea of Strength-Power to Support Movement with the focus being placed on the movement and strength qualities that are specific to the athlete’s sport. The goal should be that every percent improvement in the weight room transfers to some percent improvement in the specific sport. In a study by Wilson et al. (2) they found that a 21% improvement in 1RM Squat Strength resulted in a 21% improvement in Vertical Jump (VJ), but only a 2.3% improvement in 40-m run (3). This may be in part due to the greater movement specificity of the squat to VJ compared to the horizontal emphasis seen during the 40-m run. Despite the greater improvement seen in the VJ this does not mean that squatting is not important for sprinting, but rather we would need to incorporate horizontal focused training which is seen in previous components of the APTS (i.e. Plyometrics and Movement Skills). Additionally, patterns like a split squat and/or a single leg squat may have had a greater transfer do to the single leg nature of sprinting. Further examination could focus on what aspects of the 40-m run resulted in the greatest percent improvement versus percent improvement in final time (ex. 0-10m, 10-20m, and 20-40m). This is crucial because the movement qualities used during the Start and Acceleration are more reflective of the squat compared to the movement qualities seen during Absolute Speed. So when we start to examine the demands of the sport and evaluate transfer of training we need to be aware of what movement qualities are involved and how each aspect of the training will develop them separately (i.e. Strength-Power Session) and together (i.e. Movement Skills).

When it comes to designing the actual strength-power session we look at program design logic to drive the process. This means we will analyze the specific abilities of the athletes in terms of the movement-strength quality demands of their world and compare those to figure out the appropriate phase (Mesocycle) and periodization strategies needed to optimize improvement. Once this is determined we will look deeper at the schedule and time constraints to balance out each Microcycle (i.e. 1-week of training). Once we have determined time and phase strategies we are prepared to select what movements will be “split” over the course of each Microcycle.

“If we train muscles we will forget Movements, but if we train Movements we will never forget muscles”

Movement types are broken into the following categories: (1) Upper Body Pushing Vert-Horiz; (2) Upper Body Pulling Vert-Horiz; (3) Lower Body Pushing 1Leg-2Leg-Split; (4) Lower Body Pulling Hip-Knee Dominant. Movement’s types can be split up using the following examples: (1) Total Body; (2) Upper-Lower Body; (3) Total Body Mix. Once we have split up our movements we are prepared to choose exercises and progressions. For example, if the split was a total body mix over a four day training week then the movement types may be split as follows:

Week 1:

Monday (Primary-UB Push Horizontal and Secondary-LB Pull Hip Dominant 1-Leg)

Tuesday (Primary-LB Push 2-Leg and Secondary-UB Pull Horizontal)

Wednesday (Regeneration)

Thursday (Primary-LB Pull Hip Dominant 2-Leg and Secondary-UB Push Vertical)

Friday (Primary-UB Pull Vertical and Secondary-LB Push 1-Leg)

After choosing the exercises and progressions that will be used then we are prepared to prescribe repetitions, sets, tempo, loading methods, and rest. This entire process would be done for each phase of training which can last 3-4 weeks with the last week being an unload.

Athletes' Performance Training System: Strength Design
The following is an example of a Foundational Strength Day within a 3-week training phase using a total body mix split structure. Each column is representative of one week of training and each block should be completed in a circuit fashion prior to moving onto the next block. The goal of this phase would be movement proficiency, pillar strength, body awareness and correcting any gross asymmetries.
Prone Y's and T's 2x10ea
Leg Lowering Progression I 2x6-8ea
Diagonal Arm Lift 2x6ea
Standing T's x6
W1 2x8-10 W2 3x8-10 W3 3x6-8
AIS 90/90 Hamstring Stretch x6ea
W1 2x8-10 W2 3x8-10 W3 3x6-8
Seated Thoracic Rotation x4-6ea
W1 2x10ea W2 2x10ea W3 2x10ea
Prone Pillar Bridge W1 2x30s W2 2x45s W3 2x60s
Lateral Pillar Bridge W1 2x30s ea W2 2x45s ea W3 2x60s ea
Half-Kneeling Curl to Press W1 2x8-10ea W2 2x6-8ea W3 2x4-6ea
Physioball 2-Leg Curl W1 2x8-10 W2 2x6-8 W3 2x4-6
Physioball Straight Leg Bridge W1 2x30s W2 2x45s W3 2x60s
For more example programs go to and get a free trial membership and ask questions on the public forum.

Nick Winkelman CSCS, *D; NSCA-CPT, *D
Education Manger/ Performance Specialist
Athletes' Performance (Tempe, AZ)

Stone, M.H., M. Stone, and W.A. Sands. Principles and Practice of Resistance training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2007.

Wilson, G.J., A.J. Murphy, and A. Walshe. The specificity of strength training: the effect of posture. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 73:346-352, 1996.

Young, W.B. Transfer of Strength and Power Training to Sports Performance. International Journal of Sports Physiology & Performance. 1:74-83, 2006.