There are countless routines available that will yield positive improvements in muscular strength, power, and endurance; and on the outside these routines look very different and sometimes seem to contradict themselves. In reality, many of the routines or programs you will see, at least the ones that are successful, have many of the same characteristics.
Characteristics of a successful strength training routine are.....
- Ones that encourages full body strength. It is very important that all muscles be given equal attention and trained in an intense fashion. Your routine will include exercises to strengthen the 5 major body structures used in athletic competition.
- Hips and Legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus, calf muscles)
- Midsection (abdominals, lower back, oblique's)
- Upper torso (chest, shoulders, upper back)
- Arms (biceps, triceps, forearms, and hands)
- Neck (Contact athletes)
- Ones that trains the above muscle structures frequently. In order for the targeted muscle group to improve it must be trained on a regular basis. Scientific research states that training a muscle group every 48-72 hours is ideal for such improvements to take place. This amounts to training each body structure 2-3 times each week.
- Ones that allows the body improve (recovery). Strength training does not make the body stronger, at least not directly. Vigorous exercise merely sets the stage by providing the conditions for the muscles to adapt and become stronger. This adaptation occurs outside the training center while you are "living your life". Always remember that exercise is only one part of the equation the other part is rest and recovery. Allowing your body to recover is essential for optimal gains.
Focused and intense training + Proper recovery (48-72 hours) = Optimal gains
- Ones that addresses the total athlete. Every athlete needs to become stronger, more flexible, and in better condition but each sport requires different levels of each. This is why you will find several workout plans listed below. Make sure you choose the workout plan that is right for you and make sure that it allows you time to work on other important training variables for your sport such as conditioning and skill work.
- Ones that focus on improvement. Each time you train you must strive to do better than the time before, either by lifting more weight or performing more repetitions. Make improvement your goal every time you enter the training center. Refer to the Progression Chart for more information.
Types of Workouts
Total or Full body routines: are routines where the entire body (all 5 areas) are addressed in one training session. These routines will require you to perform more exercises in each session but training only needs to take place 2 times each week. This makes this program the most efficient in terms of time management and accessibility to a training center.
Split Routines: are routines where the body is divided, or "split" into different training days. For example:
- Upper torso and Arm on Monday and Thursday
- Hips, Legs, and Midsection on Tuesday and Friday
Although the volume of work is the same as the full body routine (each muscle group trained 2 times each week) this style allows the exerciser to focus his / her attention on only a few exercises each day. The drawback to this system is that it requires more visits to the fitness center and may conflict with other training requirements, namely conditioning and skill work.
Hybrid Routine: A hybrid routine is one which combines the benefits of both systems in an efficient 3 days per week training format.
- Total Body Routine on Monday
- Upper torso and Arms on Wednesday
- Hips, Legs, and Midsection on Thursday or Friday
Sport Specific or "Body Shop" Routines: These are not stand alone workouts but are a short list of exercises divided up by sport to "repair" injury prone areas associated with competition. These exercises can be performed with any workout system and should be done at the end of a workout.
Choosing the Right Workout
Choosing the right workout is more a matter of personal preference and available time than anything else. Spending more time in the training center will not guarantee you more strength, stamina, or power; maximizing your efforts by focusing and staying consistent with your training will. With that said, choosing the right workout is a matter of answering the following questions.
- How many days per week can you consistently commit to training? It does not make sense for you to choose a split routine if you cant commit to training 4 days each week for the majority of the summer.
- Are you performing any club, clinic, or camp training this summer? If you are traveling a lot this summer or are playing a lot of sports then time is a factor and choosing an efficient training system is important. Choose a total body or hybrid routine.
- Does my sport require a great deal of aerobic / anaerobic conditioning? If the answer is yes then a great deal of energy will be expanded performing running type activities. This also needs to be accounted for in terms of recovery. In this case I would utilize a hybrid routine to insure that the lower body is recovered from the intense running you will be doing.
- Do you enjoy training? If training and frequenting the training center is a "fun" activity for you and you feel it will better prepare you for competition then chose a split routine.
The bottom line is that all routines equal the same amount of work and will produce the same results if you train intensely and consistently.
Total Body Routines
Body Shop Routines