Sport-specific strength training programs are fundamental to an athlete's development and success.
Bodybuilding and Olympic weightlifting programs still dominate many athletes' training regimes.
The principle of specificity states that training should mirror the demands of the sport as closely as possible (1). Athletes must divide their time and energy amongst various types of training - endurance, strength and power, speed and agility, tactical etc., and find the time to recover!
This has led many coaches to incorporate Olympic weight lifting into their strength training programs, almost without question. Many of the sample strength training programs within this section of the website consist of relatively few exercises.
Unlike bodybuilding, where the only aim is to increase the size and appearance of muscles, strength training programs for sport ultimately must develop either explosive power or muscular endurance (2). Basic strength training programs adapt the body for more strenuous resistance training later on.
The less experienced an athlete is, the more time they will need to spend developing foundational strength before progressing onto more advanced forms of resistance training. Just as an athlete can be extremely muscular and lack an associated level of strength, they can also be exceptionally strong but lack significant power.
Of course, many team sports require a combination of the two - power and strength endurance - and developing both simultaneously without one negating the other requires careful consideration.
To promote long term training improvements and avoid over training, an overall training program can be split into specific periods, each with their own objectives and set of training parameters. By co-ordinating the different elements of a strength training program with the phases of a typical season, the athlete can reach a peak for the start of the competitive season and most important parts of year. Just as an overall season is split into distinct periods or phases so is the development of sport-specific strength.
Training for many sports can have an unbalancing effect on the body's musculoskeletal system.
A period of basic strength training should occur at the start of the preparation period (early pre-season). Hypertrophy and maximal strength training programs usually occur midway through the preparation phase (pre-season). Fortunately, the volume required to maintain strength is less than that required to build it.

Following a strenuous season, a break from structured training and the rigours of competition is crucial for physical and mental respite. You will find more detailed strength training programs (covering the different types of strength) within this section of the site.
Unlike the vast majority of hyped-up information you'll find on the Net, my program is based on proven, fully-referenced scientific research. Not only does football require different types of strength (and different lifting programs), it also varies from position to position. If you aren't taking a structured approach to your weight lifting, using the foremost training techniques that you're about to encounter, you are doing yourself a great disservice. Over the course of a year your football strength training program should follow some well-defined phases or cycles. Unlike the recreational bodybuilder who follows a variation of the same routine week after week after week, strength training for football varies significantly depending on the time of year. During the off-season the objective is to build the maximum of strength, size and power possible. In-season strength training for football is about maintaining the gains in strength gained over the off-season. For example, over a 6 week period intensity might start off lower at week 1, reach a peak by week 3, taper off at week 4 and reach a peak again at week 6. But as a phase in the off-season, lasting perhaps 4-6 weeks, it serves a very important purpose. Training for maximal strength (which is just as important) takes something a little different than 4 sets of 10 reps. Regardless of how experienced a weight lifter you are it's a good idea to factor in a period of anatomical adaptation training. The objectives of this phase are to prepare the body for more demanding sessions later on in the program.
Although a bodybuilding-type program is the best way to increase lean weight and bulk, it is not the most efficient method for increasing maximum strength. A macrocycle is simply a period of time (maybe 4-6 weeks) in which you set a very definite outcome and follow a very specific type of training. Increasing the cross-sectional area of each muscle (or to be precise, the contractile filaments within each muscle) greatly affects strength.
For most athletes this is where their strength training ends - with maximal strength or hypertrophy.

It doesn't matter how strong you are, if you can't transfer that strength into sport-specific movements, it's next to useless. Bodybuilding and maximal strength training doesn't adapt the neuromuscular and central nervous systems to rapidly recruit more fast twitch fibres. Also known as jump training, plyometric training uses light loads (usually bodyweight) and very fast, explosive movements.
This technique simply incorporates traditional strength training exercises used in other phases. That should give a fairly good idea of how and why strength training for football varies so much over the course of a season. Anytime you find a sample strength program in a magazine (or online) look first at how it fits into the bigger picture. You'll even be able to cherry-pick the best exercises and adapt them to fit your own tailored routine - and that's what elite strength training for football is really about!
First off, since you are interested in increasing muscle growth, or hypertrophy training, you need to keep your muscle building workouts in the 6-12 repetition range.
Oh, and be sure to sign up for the e-zine Starting Strong to get monthly strength training, exercise, and diet tips e-mailed to you - and access to the free e-book Train Smart, Eat Smart: Exercise Nutrition Hacks! 4 weeks), you might then train for hypertrophy or increased bulk for 4 weeks (another macrocycle). If you want to start weight training safely and effectively, with the best info, diet, and routines, check out the 5 Day Beginner Weight Training Course! Do 2-3 days a week in the beginning, and then over the course of, say, a month go on to doing the entire workout. While I personally don’t like bodybuilding because of the emphasis on appearance over substance and strength, a bodybuilding style routine is the best choice for gaining muscle mass.Also, regardless of which routine you use to gain weight you need to remember to EAT TONS OF FOOD! I started it full bore last year and after 4 days straight of hard lifting I had to take a week and a half off to recover. Just remember to get strong too; workouts for size do not build the same intense strength that lower repetition strength training does.

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