Strength & Conditioning

Fundamentals

GET OFF TO GREAT START!

Granted, there are a number of strength training regimens as well as exercise progressions. Notwithstanding differences in training philosophies, the most important factor in the development of strength, and therefore athletic performance, is repetition -- without which, safety, along with performance, can be compromised. Developing consistency is critical, particularly as individuals begin to train with heavier weights in an explosive manner.

Exercise technique will vary from exercise to exercise. Regardless of the exercise, there are three phases of a repetition: (a) concentric -- lifting the weight, (b) static or isometric -- the pause at the top of the movement, (c) eccentric -- lowering the weight.

Generally, the concentric phase of the movement should be explosive, yet under control. The static or isometric phase should consist of a pause prior to the concentric aspect of the lift. The eccentric phase should include a controlled lowering of the weight, unless otherwise specified. Note: For some exercises, the repetition speed will vary. The Olympic lifts, for instance, will not include an eccentric phase.

The number of repetitions that make up a set is referred to as the “rep range”. An important consideration is often “time under tension” -- that is, how many seconds is the muscle working? Commonly, the "lower" the repetition range (1-5), the greater the emphasis placed on maximal or explosive strength. In turn, "mid-repetition" ranges (6-12), place emphases on muscular hypertrophy (growth), while a "high" repetition range (12+) endeavors to enhance muscular endurance. Of importance, is the need to classify repetition ranges at particular phases in the training schedule relevant to individual training goals.

Intensity is equated to how hard one works during a given set. This is often quantified by a percentage of one’s 1 repetition maximum (RM).

Without a weight chart, the following can be used as a guideline to determine intensity:

  • Submaximal – the individual can get 2-3 more repetitions but chooses to stop at the intended repetition range.       
  • Maximum effort – the individual reaches muscular failure regardless of repetition range

A submaximal intensity is ideal for novice athletes, circuit training, or for the purposes of deloading either during the traditional season or the first weeks of the off-season training regimen. By varying repetition ranges, training intensities, and recovery times within or between workouts, individuals can maximize their training regimen.

The following points can help individuals determine what is a quality repetition:

  • Note the weight used only when the form is perfect.
  • Note the weight when a spotter was not needed.
  • Unilateral exercises require that the weight of the non-dominant appendage be noted.
  • When the goal has been reached successfully, add weight!
  • Of importance, it is the responsibility of the student-athlete to pay attention to his or her body and be accountable for exercise technique, thus the safe completion of the exercise.