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The Athlete’s Training Diary: A Classic Workout for Lacrosse
A look at a training plan for a high school lacrosse player
2/22/2011 4:16:33 PM
 

Many articles written by American strength coaches are a visual potpourri of photos, graphs, tables and spreadsheets. The accompanying text for those articles often detail the pre-, post- and in-season workouts for an entire training year and tend to be sprinkled with high-impact terms such as explosive power and core stabilization. Not so with most articles written by accomplished Russian weightlifting coaches.

If you look at the training articles written by Russian weightlifting coaches that have been diligently translated by Bud Charniga and Dr. Michael Yessis, often what you will find is a “snapshot” of a coach’s strength training system. Theses articles will seldom contain photos and usually will cover just a few weeks of workouts, and the writing style will be technical and dry. This begs the questions “Why the difference?” and just as important, “Which is better?”

Let’s start with the American approach. Many strength coaches in the US are obsessed with trying to find the single perfect system for a sport. They are attracted to articles with bold titles like “Lacrosse Training at Fred T. Snerd University: Profile of a National Championship Program.” These articles usually appear soon after a sports team has had an exceptionally successful season, as this is the time when magazines will be most interested in what that team’s strength coach has to say. Seriously, if you’re a magazine editor, are you more likely to publish an article on how Auburn University won the BCS National Championship in 2011 or one on how the losing football team lost that title game by three points? Likewise, after the Mr. Olympia competition, how many bodybuilding magazines are knocking down the door of the guy who took third?

Recruiting is key in college sports, and you can’t fault a strength coach for trying to attract the most talented athletes by bringing attention to a school’s program in magazine articles. The problem with such articles is that often they are not a true reflection of the coach’s training program, as it’s rare that any of the athletes have used that one program for several years. In fact, one colleague of mine told me that a few months after he left his position as a Division 1 college strength coach, he saw an article the new coach published about his (the new coach’s) football program. Considering that magazine articles are often submitted months in advance of being published, especially with peer-reviewed articles, the fact is that no one on this football team had ever used the workout at the time he wrote it! Let me tell you more.

With the increased pressure to perform well at the collegiate level, there is less job security in the strength coaching profession. And usually when a new football coach takes over a new program, he will bring his strength coach with him. What this means is that in today’s strength coaching environment, it’ll be rare for an athlete to work under the same strength coach for their entire four- to five-year college career. As a result, we often have to ask if a championship season was a result of the efforts of a new strength program or of the base built up by the previous strength coach?

With the Russian weightlifting articles, what you see was often written well after the fact. The approach was more “at this specific time in an athlete’s career, this is the program we used for several weeks.” By covering a shorter time span, the articles could include more details about the workout. Also, the exercise descriptions used commonly accepted terms; rather than creative names like “The Nebraska No-Neck Slammer,” the names of the exercises usually described the performance of the exercise, such as the “One-Arm Dumbbell Shrug.” It was a matter of facts, not flash.

In my Level 1 and Level 2 PICP courses, the focus is on training athletes to
Personal trainers learning structural balance testing at a Poliquin International Certification Program (PICP) Level 1 course in East Greenwich, RI.
Personal trainers learning structural balance testing at a Poliquin International Certification Program (PICP) Level 1 course in East Greenwich, RI.
 
achieve structural balance. But don’t make the mistake of assuming that structural balance testing is only for beginners or new clients. Due to the demands of the sport or to injuries or a host of other factors, structural balance work needs to be performed during all phases of an athlete’s career. In working with members of Canada’s National Ski Team, I found that after the season the players often had imbalances in their quad-to-hamstring ratio. As such, their first workouts would focus on full squats and various types of leg curls to restore lower body structural balance.

Don’t misinterpret this discussion to mean that I don’t use long-term periodization, as in fact this topic is covered in Level 3 PICP. It’s just that I use periodization as a general guide to program design, and I don’t hesitate to change a program based upon how the athlete is progressing and on the results of structural balance tests. With that background, I’ll show you a snapshot of one of my workouts for a high school athlete.

Snapshot of a Championship Workout
In my earlier coaching career I would often write workouts for athletes and then have them administered by coaches I trusted, especially when the athletes were young. It was the best of both worlds in that the athlete was assessed by me and then continued under competent supervision.

Here is one workout I designed for a high school lacrosse player in Texas. During my structural balance assessment of him I found weaknesses in the hamstrings, erector spinae and external rotators of the shoulders. After my assessment, I faxed the workout to a strength coach who was familiar with my training methods and who lived in the same area of Texas as the athlete.

For this athlete’s program, as with all my programs, I alternate between accumulation (low intensity/high volume) and intensification (high intensity/low volume). I usually start with an accumulation phase, and because of the importance I place on structural balance, this phase will include a lot of exercises to address specific weaknesses. As such, this workout contained two exercises for the external rotator cuff muscles, as well as isolation exercises for the hamstrings and erector spinae. The repetitions for this program may seem especially high, but consider that strength-wise this athlete was a beginner and his muscles were not as neurologically efficient compared to a more advanced athlete.

With that background, let’s look at the accumulation workout I gave this athlete after my initial structural balance assessment. It consists of a three-day split, such that he trained three out of five days. The workout schedule, which lasted three weeks, was as follows:

Day 1: Torso
Day 2: Legs
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Upper Arms
Day 5: Off

Accumulation 1
Torso
A-1. 1 1/4 Seated Dumbbell Press, 3 x 8-12, 3020, rest 90 seconds
A-2. Leaning Back, Close Parallel Grip, Pulldown to Chest, 3 x 4-6, 5050, rest 120 seconds
B-1. Bent-Over Barbell Rowing Supinated Grip
    Week 1: 3 x 10-12, 3020, rest 90 seconds
    Week 2: 4 x 9-11, 3020, rest 90 seconds
    Week 3: 4 x 8-10, 3020, rest 90 seconds
B-2. Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension
    Week 1: 3 x 10-12, 3020, rest 90 seconds
    Week 2: 4 x 9-11, 3020, rest 90 seconds
    Week 3: 4 x 8-10, 3020, rest 90 seconds
C-1. Dumbbell, External Rotation, Arm in Front, 3 x 10-15, 2010, no rest
C-2. Varied Grip, Triceps Pressdown, Pronated, 3 x 10-15, 2010, no rest
Legs
A-1. Low Pulley, Sit-Fit Split Squat, 4 x 6-8, 3010, rest 120 seconds
A-2. Lying Leg Curl, Neutral, Dorsiflexed, 4 x 8-10, 4010, rest 75 seconds
B-1. Dumbbell, Side Step-up, 5 x 70s, 1010, rest 120 seconds
B-2. Seated Good Morning, 4 x 12-15, 2110, 60 seconds
C. One-Leg Calf Raise, 4 x 12-15, 1411, 60 seconds
Upper Arms
A-1. 30-Degree, Sideways External Rotation on Low Pulley, 3 x 12-15, 2020, rest 60 seconds
A-2. Bent-Over Front Raise, 3 x 12-15, 30X0, rest 60 seconds
B-1. Seated Incline Curl
    Week 1: 3 x 10-12, 3010, rest 90 seconds
    Week 2: 4 x 9-11, 3010, rest 90 seconds
    Week 3: 4 x 8-10, 3010, rest 90 seconds 
B-2. Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension
    Week 1: 3 x 10-12, 3010, rest 90 seconds
    Week 2: 4 x 9-11, 3010, rest 90 seconds
    Week 3: 4 x 8-10, 3010, rest 90 seconds
C-1. Standing, Mid-Grip, EZ Bar Reverse Curl
    Week 1: 3 x 10-12, 3210, rest 90 seconds
    Week 2: 4 x 9-11, 3210, rest 90 seconds
    Week 3: 4 x 8-10, 3210, rest 90 seconds
C-2. Triceps Pressdown, Varied Grip, Pronated
    Week 1: 3 x 10-12, 3210, rest 90 seconds
    Week 2: 4 x 9-11, 3210, rest 90 seconds
    Week 3: 4 x 8-10, 3210, rest 90 seconds

As you can see, there are a lot of details presented in this three-week program, such as an increase in sets and decreases in reps for several exercises during the second and third weeks of the cycle. The results of this cycle will help me determine the design of future workouts. If, for example, I find that this athlete did not make significant gains in correcting his structural imbalances with this cycle, I would alter my exercise prescription during the intensification phase.

Should a strength coach working with a lacrosse player use this program for all his or her athletes? No. It was designed for this particular high school lacrosse player based upon the results of my structural balance assessment. If it’s true that “the devil’s in the details,” be sure that the details in your strength program deliver one wicked workout.