Q: Hey Joe,
My name is Rob and I wanted to ask you a question about in-season strength training for wrestling. My team practices Mon.-Fri. and then we usually have meets on Saturday. I have a pretty hectic schedule with practice and school. But I hate losing strength during the season. I have already decided that I will drop no more than 10 lbs. this season. I want to try and keep my strength up. Is it a good idea to train in season? If so, what should the program look like? I don't have access to chains, reverse hyper or sled. I think I'm getting bands pretty soon.
Thanks for the help and keep up the great work.
Hell yeah, it’s a good idea to train in-season! As I say to all of my wrestlers, “What good is it to be strong in September, if you’re going to let yourself get as weak as an 8-year-old girl during wrestling season?” The goal of your in-season strength program should be to maintain your strength and stay healthy. You can achieve this by lifting 1-2 times a week. I would do a full body workout on Sunday and Wednesday. These workouts should be short and intense.
Here’s a sample program:
SUNDAY – (Day after match)
A. Weighted dips – warm-up to 3 sets of 5 reps (rest 2 min. b/t sets)
B. Single leg squats, back leg elevated – 3 sets of 8 each leg (rest 10 sec. b/t legs and 2 minutes b/t sets)
C. Bent-over dumbbell rows – 3 sets of 8 each arm (rest 10 sec. b/t arms and 60 sec. b/t sets)
D. Seated external rotation, arm abducted – 2 sets of 12 each arm(no rest b/t arms and 30 sec. b/t sets)
E1. Hyperextensions – 2 sets of 15-20 (rest 10 sec. b/t exercises and 60 sec. b/t supersets)
E2. Weighted Swiss ball crunches – 2 sets of 15-20
*Approximate workout time = 25 – 30 minutes
WEDNESDAY – (After practice)
A. Dynamic box squats – warm –up to 6 sets of 2, using 50-60% of 1RM (rest 30 seconds b/t sets)
B. Chin-ups – 2 sets max reps (rest 90 sec. b/t sets)
C. Wrist roller – 2 sets of 2 reps (rest 60 sec. b/t sets)
*Approximate workout time = 12 – 15 minutes
This in-season strength program is simple & practical and it works. Give it a try.
I've been in the strength and conditioning industry for about 5 years. I like to work primarily with athletes. Since I’m CSCS you can imagine a lot of the teaching I got on periodization and training athletes was based around the NSCA's linear periodization model. In the last 2-3 years I've increased my knowledge a great deal by studying a lot, focusing mostly on learning different strength coach's approaches to training. I’m a big fan of the Westside Barbell method of training and I learned a lot by going to their seminar. I feel the Eastern form of Conjugate periodization is fantastic, but most of the Westside Barbell writings deal directly with powerlifting. While I understand the basic structure of the model, I'd love to learn more about it and how to apply it to athletes. Are there any books or other sources of information you'd recommend to an aspiring strength coach so he can learn more about the Conjugate System and how to apply it to athletes?
Thanks for the help,
Mark Bubeck, MS, CSCS, CPT, CNS
Unfortunately, there is nothing out there written on how to apply the Conjugate System to athletes. As you already know, most of the publications in this country are centered around the Western (linear) periodization model. It’s frustrating. I’ve spent the last couple of years trying to “un-learn” a lot of the concepts that I learned in college.
Since you have a solid educational background, I would recommend you read “Science of Sports Training” by Tom Kurz and “Supertraining” by Mel Siff and Yuri Verkhoshansky. They both explain some of the concepts behind the Conjugate System. But, you have to then formulate your own opinions with regards to using this system with athletes after reading these texts.
Here are some of my thoughts about incorporating the Conjugate System with athletes:
Remember that “Conjugated” means that you train many aspects of strength at the same time. You don’t train them in different cycles as you would with the Western method of periodization. The theory is that in order to get the best results, you need to raise all aspects of strength at the same time (maximal strength, speed-strength, strength-endurance, etc.). If you do it in phases (western periodization), you will lose what you have gained as you move into the next phase. (Example: If you complete a 6-week hypertrophy phase and then lose most of the muscle that you gained when you go into the next phase, what was the purpose of the hypertrophy phase?) Remember that if you stop training it, you won’t retain it!
If you were to use the Conjugate method of periodization with athletes, you would devote one day a week to force development using the dynamic-effort method and one day a week to max strength using the maximal-effort method. On max-effort day, you must train with weights using 90%-100+% and constantly try to break records on special exercises. The more advanced your athletes are, the more often they should rotate special exercises. The dynamic-effort day is devoted to moving lighter weights with the greatest possible acceleration. This is the only periodization model that allows you to “peak” continuously throughout the year.
Now, I think that the Westside Barbell method for training lower body is a great way for most athletes to train their legs. The one major change that I make with my athletes is that I add more lunge, step-up and split squat variations. Simply put, I think “athletes” need more unilateral work compared to powerlifters.
As far as the upper body exercise selection is concerned, that varies depending on the athlete’s training level and sport. For example, floor presses, rack lockouts and board presses are great core exercises for football lineman, but they may not be the best choices for a baseball player. Don’t be afraid to “think outside of the box” and develop your own exercise choices for different athletes on max-effort day and dynamic-effort day. For example, instead of always doing ballistic bench-presses on dynamic upper body days, I sometimes do dynamic chin-ups with my wrestlers as their “core” lift.
Hope this gives you some guidance on a
very in-depth subject.
Never stop learning!
Q: With regards
to the recent question on your site about Olympic and powerlifter-friendly
gyms in New York City: there is one gym that I know of that
is open to both styles of lifting. It is called Asphalt
Green. It is an entire sports complex (pool, Astroturf field,
etc.) on York Ave. between 90th and 92nd st. They not only
have Olympic lifting platforms with bumper plates, but also
a powerlifting club that meets in the evenings and trains
with chains and bands.
Hope this helps.
Thanks for the info. The gym sounds great. Hopefully some of the followers of this site will go and give it a try!
Would supplementing my diet with extra magnesium really help me? If so, what exactly does it do? The only supplement that I take is I have a Zone bar (on your recommendation) before I lift. I’ve been hearing a lot about magnesium lately, but I would like your opinion before I spend my money.
P.S. I’ve been following all the advice that you give in the ASK JOE section and I’ve made more gains in the last 2 months than I have in the past 2 years.
First of all, it’s important to know exactly what magnesium is. Magnesium is an essential mineral that acts as a cofactor in many metabolic processes, such as energy production and nerve transmission. Extra magnesium in the body also drives the Krebs cycle for more ATP and helps to enhance muscular contractions. Adequate magnesium levels in the body has also been shown to prevent cramping in athletes. This extra magnesium can have a profound effect on an athlete’s performance and overall feeling of well-being.
As I’ve stated before, one of the
first things to get “depressed” in athletes
is their magnesium level. Physical stress, mental stress
and excessive sweating are all common causes of low magnesium
levels. So supplementing your diet with extra magnesium
is a great way to help yourself recover and perform.
Magnesium is, without question, one of the most over-looked supplements in an athlete’s supplementation program.
Now here’s the catch. When I first started learning about the benefits of magnesium supplementation, I immediately went to the health food store and purchased some magnesium tablets. The problem was that after supplementing with magnesium for about 4 weeks, I felt nothing! I later consulted with my colleague, Dr. Tom Bilella, and he informed me of the poor absorption rate of most magnesium products on the market. He then told me about a revolutionary magnesium amino acid chelate produced by a unique, patented process designed to enhance absorption and intestinal tolerance. This highly absorbable magnesium supplement is called Magnesium Glycinate and is produced by a California-based company called Metagenics.
After switching to Metagenics’ Magnesium Glycinate, the results were immediate. I get a much better “pump” when training, my strength has increased slightly and I have an overall feeling of well-being. I have been using the product for only 3 weeks and I will continue to use it.
Try 400 mg. of magnesium glycinate with breakfast and another 400 mg. with dinner and let me know how you feel.
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