Four Factors In a Well-Designed Strength and Conditioning Program

There are a number of components that should be included in a solidly-designed fitness program. Whether the program is based around distance running or Olympic weightlifting, developing full-body strength and control is necessary to prevent injury and improve the strength of individual body parts.

The first part of a well-designed program is the warmup. Too many athletes simply go out for a run, or walk into a gym and start lifting things. The point of the warmup is to get blood flowing, activate muscles that will be used during the workout, put joints through their full range of motion, and iron out muscle imbalances between limbs. Warmups will also help athletes get a sense of their bodies, practice movements they would otherwise never do, and check areas for soreness or injury.

A second important factor to include is developing stability on one or two legs. This involves both jumping and landing, which both require good form and practice in order to prevent injury. ACL tears are a huge problem in professional and amateur sports, and everyday athletes are just as susceptible to them as million-dollar NBA superstars. Learning the ability to jump and land on one leg without collapsing or tearing a ligament can save an athlete a year of training and thousands of dollars in corrective surgery. Plyometrics can also be used to increase speed and jumping power.

Third, it is important to build strength with a program that includes the following: upper body pulling movements, upper body pushing movements, hip-dominant lower body movements, and knee-dominant lower body movements. Exercise programs should be developed that balance these four ideas, especially in the pull-push and hip-knee areas. While most athletes are only too happy to do bench presses and leg presses, muscle imbalances can quickly develop if they neglect such exercises as pullups or deadlifts. Balance is key here.

Finally, change of direction training should be considered. This also reflects the second requirement, but builds upon it. Once athletes can land safely, they should develop the ability to take off, accelerate, slow down, stop, and change directions. The faster this is done, the more force will be put into the joints when stopping and changing directions. This can lead to injury if done before an athlete is prepared for it, but this ability can also be trained.

With these four components of a training program, both strength and speed can be developed, while minimizing the risk of a non-contact injury such as an ACL tear. Of course, other factors should also be taken into consideration, such as proper nutrition, and the details of the weightlifting program itself. However, by following these guidelines for the exercise routine in general, athletes can develop safely and properly, as well as see gains as quickly as they are able.

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