The college basketball season has begun and we wrapped our pre-season training last week. It was one of the best pre-season’s we’ve had – it had a lot to do with how hard our guys and girls worked and the way the training program was laid out. I wanted to share how it was organized to give you an idea of my thought process and how it was structured into an actual program.
The NCAA allows Strength and Conditioning sessions to cover 6 hours a week in the pre-season/off-season periods. We have used all of this time in the past, but this year decided that we really didn’t need that much time for training because we were in much better shape coming into pre-season this year…this was evident through our pre-season conditioning which is the beep test. The numbers were much higher than they were last year, and came to the conclusion that we didn’t need extra wear and tear on their bodies in terms of volume. Our coaches are also allowed to work with the team an additional 2 hours a week for skill development. These sessions aren’t a walk in the park and are very intensive.
We split our training into 4 days/week – 2 lower body strength development days and 2 upper body strength development days – we also did some sort of conditioning every day.
Here is our week, laid out:
Monday – Lower Body Strength Development Day + Alactic Capacity (Sprint Work on the court)
Tuesday – Upper Body Strength Development Day + Cardiac Output- this progressed to Alactic Capacity as we got closer to practice
Wednesday – OFF
Thursday – Lower Body Strength Development Day + Cardiac Output – this progressed to Cardiac Power as we got closer to practice
Friday – Upper Body Strength Development Day + Cardiac Power
Each session was roughly 60-70 minutes.
Our warm-up, core and prep work took about 10-15 minutes and planned for 30 minutes for our strength work. The volume was fairly low for the strength work as our primary objective in the pre-season is to increase our conditioning levels to handle the demands of practice. We did 2 quad sets – everything in the first quad set was done for 3 sets and the second quad set was done for 2 sets.
This is what we did on Mondays/Thursdays:
A1. Deadlift variation
A2. 2 Leg Jump
A3. Pullup variation
A4. Hip Flexor or Ankle Mobe
B1. 1 Leg Squat variation
B2. 1 Leg Hop variation
B3. 1 Leg Bend/Hip Dominant variation
A1. Push Variation
A2. Upper Body Plyo – MB Throw
A3. Pull Variation
A4. Thoracic Mobe
B1. Push Variation
B2. Pull Variation
B3. Push Variation
B4. Pull Variation
We also ended our lower body days with a hip/glute circuit and our upper body days with a scap circuit.
As for conditioning, we typically start with 1-2 impact days/week and progress to doing 3-4 impact days/week as we get closer to the season so that we progressively increase the joint loading as practice comes around.
We also don’t do a ton of lactic work as basketball isn’t a lactate based sport – it’s an alactic-aerobic sport meaning that there is huge demand on the aerobic system to produce energy, but there are many explosive movements that demand energy derived from the phosphate system. There are instances where lactate will be produced but I don’t want my athletes over reliant on this energy system to produce energy – they will often get lactic work during individual sessions when there are only 4 athletes to 1 coach.
Mondays would be our big on the court sprint day (what most basketball coaches think conditioning should be). We would do “11′s” and “22′s”…an 11 is a down/back in under 11 seconds and a 22 is down/back 2x under 22 seconds. We make it timed to hold our athletes accountable and if somebody doesn’t make a time, we add another rep…so we can get 100% effort on each rep.
Tuesdays would be our circuit day. For the first 3 weeks, we would break the team into 3 groups and perform non-impact work for 5 min @ each station. One station would be Bikes (hill ride against heavy resistance), another would be battle ropes (:15 sec work, :15 sec rest) and the last would be slideboards (:15 sec work, :15 sec rest). For the last 3 weeks, we did stations where we would alternate b/w an impact station and a non-impact station…we would work for :10 sec, rest for :10 sec and repeat 4x before rotating; these are the stations we performed:
1. Sideline Sprint to Backpeddle
2. Tire Block out/post up
3. Lane Agility
4. MB Throws
5. Def Slides
6. Battle Ropes
For the first 3 weeks on Thursdays we would do a KB circuit at the end of our strength training sessions. The circuit would include swings, goblet squats, 1 leg SLDL’s, 1 Arm Presses, 1 Arm Rows and Burpees. The next 3 weeks we went to 4 min stations: Bike (heavy resistance), Jump Rope, Short Shuttle (5 yds – Sprint/Backpeddle/Def Slide/Def Slide). Every station was done continuous except the short shuttle, which was done with a partner – I go, you go.
And Fridays were our hill Run day. We have a big hill that leads up to our arena; It’s 1.4 miles up and down and more of a mental challenge than anything. Our athletes really took upon the challenge to get after the hill and work at it.
That’s our pre-season training program laid out for you – I hope it stimulated some thought and gave you some insight into how we do things. The effort put into the program is the big determining factor in the success that it will lead to…and we are hoping for successful seasons this year!
Here is the second part to Will Turner’s last blog post that got some good feedback from facebook followers…enjoy!
In my last blog post, Misconceptions of Conditioning, I went over some of physiological benefits of aerobic training. The idea of this post is to take the information from the last post and give out specific protocols that can be used to maximally develop an athlete’s aerobic system. The examples that I am going to give are protocols that I’ve learned from B at Quinnipiac, Ultimate MMA Conditioning by Joel Jamaison, and my other internships as well at my own personal strength and conditioning experiences.
Cardiac Output Method: To utilize this method, you need to do any type of low intensity movement for 30-90 minutes.
- This can include anything such as sport specific movements like bag work for a fighter or shooting drills for a basketball player, or even just shuffling, skipping, crawling; basically, any type of movement.
- Bikes, ellipticals, and treadmills can all be used for cardiac output, all which is necessary is that the athlete’s heart rate is in the 130-150 range and maintained for at least 30 minutes.
- Jogging on a track or anywhere really is very effective, try to minimize the amount of hills
- Lastly, any type of body weight movements such as squats, jumping rope, jumping jacks, etc for at least 20 minutes.
- Remember, this method is used to increase cardiac output by eccentric hypertrophy, allowing a greater stroke volume.
- Time can be increased by about five minutes from week to week in order to keep progressing
Cardiac Power Intervals: This method is used to increase the oxygen delivery rate and cardiac strength
- 60-120 seconds per rep, high velocity per rep with max heart rate
- Again, sport specific movements can be used, this may just be sprints for most sports, but for something like fighting, you can use max effort sparring for 60-120 seconds
- Sprints from 400-700 meters around a track is very effective, with rest consisting of 2-5 minutes with heart rate recovering to 120 bpm. 4-12 reps per session.
- Moderate resistance bike sprints or airdyne sprints for time (about 60 seconds) or distance (0.5-1 miles). Bike sprint reps can go from 4-12 reps and airdynes can go from 2-6 reps. Again, the lower end of the reps will be towards the beginning phases and increase in latter phases.
- Hill or stadium sprints for 60-120 seconds can be very effective and will also help increase muscular power-endurance. 60-120 seconds per rep with 2 minutes between each rep. 4-12 reps per session.
Tempo Method: used for slow twitch muscle fiber hypertrophy. This is important because slow twitch muscle fibers have greater oxidative capacities compared to fast twitch fibers.
- Tempo training is unlike the first two because it uses weight training. Compound (core), multijoint exercises such as squat, bench press, deadlift, pull-ups, etc. Each rep should take about 4-5 seconds utilizing the tempo on one or more of the three phases of movement (eccentric, isometric, concentric). Each set should be 8-10 reps with 30-40 seconds between each set. If doing multiple exercises, take 6-8 minutes active rest between exercises.
- Circuit training can also be utilized in this method. 30 seconds of work paired with 30-60 seconds of rest between each exercise. Compound and assistance exercises can be utilized; it is recommended to alternate upper and lower body exercises to avoid local muscular fatigue.
High Intensity Continuous Training: HICT increases the oxidative abilities of fast twitch muscle fibers. This method utilizes high intensity with low speed.
- Bike or elliptical hill climbs for 10-20 minutes. This can be done by starting at moderate intensity and increasing intensity every 1-2 minutes for 3-5 minutes and starting over again. Intensity or time can be increased from week to week for progression.
- Heavy (and I mean heavy) sled dragging for 10-20 minutes continuous. Keep the sled moving the entire time. Athlete can move, forward, backward, left, right, crossover, etc.
- This is very hard to measure because you will need some equipment or at least a heart rate monitor that most people do that have. First, you need to do type of VO2 max test to figure out what the athletes anaerobic threshold is.
- Once an anaerobic threshold is found, you can use any type of running, bike, elliptical, sport specific drill. It is just important that you keep your heart rate with 10 beats +/- of ANT the entire rep. Reps should go for 3-10 minutes per rep with 1-5 minutes rest between each rep.
I hope this blog helps to clear up information from the last post, and that it will help you to create an aerobic conditioning program for yourself, your clients, or your teams. Remember that it is very important to have a great cardiac output and stroke volume as a base to build on. Then you can start increasing aerobic cardiac power and ananerobic capacity/power. Now go run!
We have a guest blog post from one of my current interns, Will Turner. He’s been delving into the topic of conditioning and specifically aerobic training and wanted to write this post…enjoy!
“Why should I ever run a mile when I will never run that long in my sport?” “Every play is at full speed in my sport, I shouldn’t be running slow for conditioning.” “Running long distances is going to make me slower, weaker, and less powerful.”
Ever hear any of those quotes from a coach or even find yourself saying it? Conditioning may be one of the most unappreciated and underdeveloped aspects of training when it comes to all sports – especially the intermittent power sports. There are much more aspects to conditioning for intermittent sport than just working the alactic energy system. In fact, working the aerobic system is the most important energy system when it comes to conditioning for any sport; sadly, it is also the most understood system.
Since graduating from Springfield College in May and interning at Quinnipiac University under Brijesh, my thinking of conditioning has been revolutionized. Daily talks with B, while reading Ultimate MMA Conditioning Joel Jamieson have given me knowledge about conditioning that I never had before, stuff that I didn’t learn in the classroom. Although Jamieson’s book is specifically written for MMA conditioning, there are principles that can be taken away from it for almost any sport.
One large principle that I learned over the past couple of months is that conditioning is just like anything else in the athletic world where everybody is different. One single approach will not work for every single athlete; each athlete has different genetics and that will lead to different energy system developments over a lifetime. Genetics play a huge role in conditioning just as they do in strength training; you can only go so far with the genes that you were given. So, the first mistake that people make is taking the general approach and using a conditioning program that is not designed for their needs.
Another huge mistake that people make, myself included, is trying to squeeze all of their conditioning into the month or weeks before an event. This approach will not be successful because great conditioning is a long process that needs qualities to be built on top of each other for optimal success.
Conditioning is a measure of how well you are able to meet energy productions for the demand of your sport; it is very sport specific. A football player who can go 100% every play is just as well conditioned as a runner that can run a sub 5-minute mile.
The two components of conditioning include: energy production and energy utilization. Energy production is the sum of rate of energy production (power), duration of energy (production), and total potential of energy production (biological power). Energy utilization is the total of central governing power (power regulation), efficiency of energy expenditure (skill/technique), and neuromuscular contractility (mechanical). Basically, energy production is the sum of how fast you can create energy and how long you can maintain that production for (power+capactity). Energy utilization is how efficiently you can use that energy with technique, as well as how much your brain regulates muscle contractility (to fatigue).
Now, I’ll get into what is really important: the aerobic system. The aerobic system is the only one that can break down fats as well as sugars for energy, which is an advantage for it, right off the bat. The most important functions of the aerobic system are refueling the anaerobic system and clearing out the byproducts from the anaerobic systems and restock the mechanisms of the systems. The former is the part that most athletes do not realize. Even when you are primarily using the lactic and alactic systems, the aerobic system is the one that is doing the refueling. An important thing to know for the aerobic system, especially for training, is the anaerobic threshold. The anaerobic threshold, usually measured by heart rate, is the point at which the aerobic system cannot keep up with the energy demands placed upon it, so the anaerobic systems are the primary energy producers.
There are three ways to increase the production of the aerobic system: 1) increase O2 supply to working muscles, 2) increase how much oxygen the muscles themselves can you, 3) increase the supply raw materials your body uses to produce energy aerobically. The following methods will all help to build the aerobic system in one or more of those ways:
- Cardiac output Method- This method is a pretty standard method that most people know about and use. It is pretty simple in that all you need to do is keep your heart rate between 130-150 for at least 30 minutes. This method is going to increase eccentric cardiac hypertrophy, which will allow the left ventricle to hold more blood and in turn, increase the amount of cardiac output to the peripheral systems.
- Cardiac Power Intervals- This method is designed to improve oxygen supply at higher intensities and improve the power-endurance of the cardiac fibers. In order to do this, you need to go as hard as you can for 60-120 seconds; you want max heart rate on each rep. For rest intervals, you want to look for you HR to get back around 120 or 2-5 minutes between reps. Physiologically, this method increases mitochondrial density, while increasing the contractile strength of the cardiac fibers.
- Tempo Method- This is a method that I have been using a lot since at Quinnipiac, and I have found it very successful for muscular endurance. This method utilizes long tempos for exercises, lasting 4-5 seconds per rep for 8-10 reps. The tempo method stimulates larger slow twitch muscle fiber hypertrophy and also increasing mitochondrial density.
- High Intensity Continuous Training- this method is something that I have never heard of before but intrigued me very much when I first heard of it. This method is designed for high intensity for very high volume. This method increases the aerobic capacity of your fast twitch muscle fibers.
- Threshold Training- This is the last of the aerobic methods that I am going to go over. This method is designed to further push back your anaerobic threshold. This is also designed to raise your power output at your anaerobic threshold, which in turn, delays the point at which anaerobic energy processes take prominence.
As with any type of training, it is important to build your conditioning on top of the blocks that came before it. When starting a conditioning program, it is very important that you correlate your conditioning along with your strength and sport training. So, just like strength training periodization, conditioning needs to start with a general approach and then move to a specific approach. When far away from the season, it is important to build your potential for energy production (general conditioning). To do this, you want to increase your cardiac output and do minimal lactate work. As you get closer to your competitive season, you add more and more specific conditioning. Meaning that you need to develop your body’s ability to use its energy in the most effective way for you sport.
It is always important to remember, you must have a great aerobic base for great conditioning. Do not just work the anaerobic lactate systems that you think are being utilized most in competition.
Will Turner – Born and raises in Milford, CT. Graduated from Springfield College in May 2012 with a Bachelors of Science in Exercise Science with a Sport Performance concentration. Played four years of varsity football at Springfield. Has completed two summer internships at Competitive Edge Sports Performance in Milford, CT as well as an internship with the Springfield Falcons Hockey Club of the AHL. Currently interning with Brijesh Patel at Quinnipiac University working with men’s and women’s hockey and basketball. He is going to intern with the New York Jets during the 2012 training camp in Cortland, NY. Future plans are to eventually at a graduate assistant strength and conditioning position while working towards a Master’s degree.