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Strength Training: The Tampa Bay Buccaneer Way!

Coach Asanovich takes strength and conditioning seriously, and he expects his players to follow suit. This excerpt from his off-season training manual says it all.

    8/29/2003 - Coach Asanovich takes strength and conditioning seriously, and he expects his players to follow suit. This excerpt from his off-season training manual says it all.

The goal of the off-season (as well as in-season) strength-training program will be to develop optimal muscular strength potentials in a manner that is Prudent, Productive, Practical and Purposeful. That is to say, maximal levels of muscular strength developed in the safest, most successful, sensible and specific manner is the Buccaneer way!

What Is A Prudent Strength-Training Program?

The answer lies in two questions:

    "Are the training protocols orthopedically-safe?"
    "Are the training protocols physiologically-sound?"

Obviously, it is the intent of any strength-training program to enhance the physical potentials of the athlete rather than endanger the athlete. In other words, use your common sense. If an exercise or training technique looks dangerous, it probably is! An orthopedically-safe program has at its foundation the execution of properly performed repetitions. The emphasis should always be on how the repetition is lifted rather than how much is lifted.

Every effort should be made to minimize the biomechanical loading (bouncing, recoiling etc.) on muscles, joints and connective tissue, and to maximize muscular tension. Each repetition should be lifted under control in a deliberate fashion. Flex the muscle momentarily in the midrange of the exercise when the muscle is in its "fully-contracted position," and then lower the resistance slowly to the starting position. Obviously, this is the most difficult way to train; however it is also the most productive and prudent way to train.

A physiologically-sound program is one that includes in its design the fundamental principles of training right, eating right, resting right and living right. As simple as it is to understand, it is anything but simple to do. To compromise anyone of these principles would likewise compromise your results. Do not allow yourselves to be fooled into thinking that there are "secret," "short-cut," and/or "simple" means to achieve maximum strength gains - there are none. Rather, there is no substitute for progressively more intense exercise, a nutritious meal plan, ample rest/recovery, and a common sense approach to a consistent training routine.

What Is A Productive Strength-Training Program?

Any "progressive" strength training protocol that has a systematic plan of increasing resistance/repetitions will produce results! This is evident in the many players we have coming into our organization from a wide range of collegiate/NFL strength training programs. The common denominator in all these cases, however, is that each of these players has experienced a great deal of success on the field (otherwise they wouldn't be here!)

Consequently, many have a sentimental or psychological attachment to the training methods that they grew up using. Certainly, that is understandable, however, despite what strength-training program is used, it is the intense and intelligent application of the player's effort that is most responsible for their results - not the program. The bottom line is, and always will be, an issue of consistency and hard work - not how many sets/reps were performed.

Maximal effort is required to develop maximal results. Do not confuse "Hard work" to mean "More work." Truth be told, it does not take a maximal amount of work and/or time to develop maximal results. It does require maximal effort and maximal perseverance. In other words, strength development is "Use it or lose it - and don't abuse it!" Train hard, chart your progression, allow ample time to rest/recover between workouts and incorporate variety into your program to prevent overtraining and monotony.

What Is A Practical Strength-Training Program?

As stated, all progressive strength-training protocols are productive - none more significant than the other; however, not all are equally practical. Strength can be developed either by exposing the muscle to a lengthy "high-volume" of exercise or by brief "high-intensity" exercise. Both training protocols have their advantages and disadvantages. However, given the time constraints on professional athletes, it is much more practical to decrease the volume of training in favor of increasing the intensity of training to get the same results in less time. In other words, the training goal should be to spend the minimal amount of time to derive the maximal amount of benefits. Period!

What Is A Purposeful Strength-Training Program?

Strength training is a means to an end - not an end in itself. You are not training to become an Olympic weightlifter, a powerlifter or a bodybuilder. Rather, the goal of a professional football player is to develop maximal levels of muscular strength to meet the demands necessary to successfully compete, injury-free, at the highest levels of NFL competition over a minimum 20-game/6-month schedule.

The development of muscular strength is the general progression of increasing the muscle's ability to produce force. Football skill development, on the other hand, is the specific learning of how to best coordinate and apply these forces. In other words, strength is a non-specific adaptation developed in the weight room, whereas football skills are a specific adaptation developed through guided practice on the field. As a result, a powerful football player is developed physically in the weight room, which by a separate process is developed mechanically on the football field.

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