“5 Advanced Strength Training Techniques
Used In The NFL”
By Dave Durell, MS, CCS, PTA
All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 2010 – Dave Durell. All rights are reserved. You may not distribute this report in any way. You may not sell it, or reprint any part of it without written consent from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.
All forms of exercise pose some inherent risk. Readers assume full responsibility for their safety and knowing their limits. The exercise programs in this book are not intended as a substitute for any exercise routine or dietary regimen that may have been prescribed by your doctor. As with all exercise programs, you should get your doctor’s approval before beginning.
The training protocols that follow are techniques that I have personally used to train players while working as a Strength and Conditioning Assistant for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
We referred to these special techniques as “overload protocols”, to differentiate them from typical sets.These protocols present a unique challenge to the athlete, and provide several benefits when injected into the training program.Some of these benefits include:
·Increasing training adaptation (strength) by varying the stress
·Alleviating boredom and staleness by providing variety
·Promoting increased focus-no “going through the motions”
·Relationship building-additional opportunity for coaching
·Creating a positive environment in the weight room
These techniques can be used by athletes and non-athletes alike, and can be performed using machines, free weights, or bodyweight exercises.Each protocol has built-in criteria for progression, so that the trainee has a goal to shoot for during the set, and knows when to increase the resistance.
As with any strength and conditioning program, these protocols are most effective with a coach, trainer, or training partner supervising the lifter to insure proper form and focus.
As promised, this report will cover 5 of these protocols, plus an added bonus technique, to make a total of 6.For each technique I will provide a general description, which types of exercises the protocol works best with, a detailed explanation of how to perform the protocol, and the system of progression for each one.
I’ll also give you a sample full-body workout utilizing all the protocols in the report.
Now let’s get to work!
Protocol #1: 3 Strikes And You’re Out
Description:When I was a high school and collegiate wrestler, it seemed like every strength training program I was ever on told me to perform 3 sets of 10 reps for every exercise.I think you’ll agree that 4 straight years of that can get pretty boring, and transform a program from an exciting challenge to painful drudgery in a hurry.
With the “3 Strikes And You’re Out” protocol, the lifter still achieves a total of 30 reps, just like 3 sets of 10—we just make it a little more interesting by front-loading the majority of the reps, and cutting down on the rest time between sets.
Works best with:3 Strikes can be used with any exercise, but is especially well suited to multi-joint lower body movements, such as the leg press, deadlift and squat.
Performance:Select a weight that you would probably be able to perform 15-20 normal reps with.Start out by performing 15-17 reps, moving the weight smoothly without momentum.When that set is over, take a 30 second rest; then perform a second set of 6-8 reps.Rest another 30 seconds, then perform a final set of 3-5 reps.All sets are performed with the same weight.
Progression:The rep range for the total reps of all 3 sets is 24-30.When you can get 30 or more, increase the weight by 5-10 pounds for upper body, and 10-20 pounds for lower body, or whatever amount of weight that will get you back into the given rep range on your next workout.
Tips: If you’re not used to 30 second rest periods, it will seem like about 3 seconds at first.Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.On pressing exercises (leg press, squat, etc.), don’t give in to the temptation torest in the lock-out position; have the discipline to keep the reps smooth and steady, and rest only during the 30 second rest periods.
Protocol #2: Slo Mo
Description:This protocol is a good teaching tool for trainees who tend to throw and drop the weight, instead of lifting and lowering.It begins with a momentum-free, focus and discipline-building rep, followed by normal reps to failure.
Works best with:Any exercise.This is a great technique to use with bodyweight exercises.It’s also a great teaching tool for trainees who tend to use sloppy form.
Performance:Select a weight that you would probably be able to perform 10-12 normal reps with.Perform the first rep by taking 30 seconds to lift the weight concentrically; then take 30 seconds to lower the weight eccentrically back to the starting position.Upon completing that rep, immediately perform 4-7 reps (upper body), or 6-9 reps (lower body), in normal fashion to muscular failure.
Progression: When you can achieve 7 or more reps for upper body exercises, and 9 or more reps for lower body exercises-after completing the first 60-second rep-increase the weight by 5-10 pounds for upper body, and 10-20 pounds for lower body, or whatever amount of weight that will get you back into the given rep range in your next workout.
Tips:If you’ve never done really slow reps before, it’s common to move too fast through the first part of the rep, and then be forced to move through the last couple inches of the range of motion really, really slow in order to equal 30 seconds.Don’t worry if that happens to you, after 2-3 workouts you’ll figure out the proper cadence.It helps to have somebody calling out the time in 5-10 second intervals.
Protocol #3: Iso-Holds
Description:This technique emphasizes the fully contracted/finish position of the exercise.Legendary NFL strength and conditioning coach Dan Riley once told me that since the fully contracted position is where the greatest number of muscle fibers are stimulated, “it makes sense to spend a little extra time in that position”.
Works best with:Exercises that provide full resistance in the contracted/finish position and are performed with separate resistance for each limb, such as lateral raises, front raises, dumbbell curls, pec deck, and Hammer Strength Iso-Lateral machines.Not the best protocol for free weight pressing movements.
Performance:Select a weight that you would probably be able to perform 10-12 normal reps with.Moving both limbs at once, lift the weight to the finish position.While holding the left limb in that position, lower the right limb back to the start position, return it to the finish position, and hold it there.Now lower the left limb to the start position, and then raise it back to the finish position.Now lower both limbs at once back to the start position.That equals one rep.Perform 4-7 reps for upper body, and 6-9 reps for lower body.
Progression:When you can achieve 7 or more reps for upper body exercises, and 9 or more reps for lower body exercises, on the next workout increase the weight by 5-10 pounds for upper body, and 10-20 pounds for lower body, or whatever amount of weight that will get you back into the given rep range.
Tips:Before you try this protocol, go through the motions without any weight while reading the performance description-it will be a lot less confusing if you do.Make sure you don’t let the limb that is holding the weight in the finish position slip out of that position while moving the other limb, as you become fatigued.
Protocol #4: Progressions/Reverse Progressions
Description:This is a rest-pause style of training where you perform a certain number of reps, pause 10 seconds, and then perform that number of reps again plus one (progressions) or minus one (reverse progressions), and continue in that fashion until the desired number of total reps are performed.
Works best with:Can be used with any exercise, works well with pressing movements.
Performance:Select a weight that you would probably be able to perform 10-12 normal reps with.Progressions: perform one rep in normal fashion.Rest 10 seconds, then perform 2 reps.Rest 10 seconds, then perform 3 reps.Continue for 4 reps, 5 reps, and 6 reps, with 10 seconds between each set.Reverse Progressions: perform 6 reps in normal fashion.Rest 10 seconds, then perform 5 reps.Rest 10 seconds, then perform 4 reps.Continue for 3 reps, 2 reps, and 1 rep, with 10 seconds between each set.
Progression:The rep range for this protocol is 15-21 accumulated reps.If you can make it all the way from 1 rep to 6 reps (progressions), or 6 reps to 1 rep (reverse progressions), the next workout increase the weight by 5-10 pounds for upper body, and 10-20 pounds for lower body, or whatever amount of weight that will get you back into the given rep range.
Tips:I like reverse progressions better because you get the higher reps done in the beginning.It seems weird to do one rep then stop, 2 reps then stop, etc. if you haven’t done this before-but in the end, it’s the same number of total reps.
Protocol #5: Quarters
Description:This one increases the intensity of the set by taxing your static strength levels.You will be forced to stop the weight at various points throughout the full range of motion.
Works best with:Single joint/rotary movements with full resistance in the fully contracted/finish position.Examples include pullovers, lateral raise, front raise, shrugs, curls, pec deck, calf raises, rows, ab exercises.
Performance:Select a weight that you would probably be able to perform 10-12 normal reps with.Lift the weight concentrically to the finish position, then lower the weight eccentrically through ¾ of the range of motion.Lift again to the finish position, and then lower the weight through ½ of the range of motion.Lift again to the finish position, and then lower through ¼ of the range of motion.Lift again to the finish position, and then lower through the full range of motion back to the start position.That equals 1 rep.Perform 4-6 reps for upper body, 6-8 reps for lower body.
Progression:When you can achieve 6 or more reps for upper body exercises, and 8 or more reps for lower body exercises, increase the weight the next workout by 5-10 pounds for upper body, and 10-20 pounds for lower body, or whatever amount of weight that will get you back into the given rep range.
Tips: Make sure you pause for a second in the fully contracted/finish position to eliminate momentum-no bouncing!Also, lower the weight under full muscular control to the turn-around point in the range of motion.
Protocol #6: 7 Ups
Description:With 7 Ups, the set either begins with (front loaded) or ends with (back loaded) an isometric hold in the fully contracted/finish position, followed by a set to failure of-you guessed it-7 reps.
Works best with:Exercises that provide full resistance in the contracted/finish position, such as rows, pulldowns, chins, shrugs, leg extension, leg curl (especially brutal), calf raises.
Performance:Select a weight that you would probably be able to perform 10-12 normal reps with.Front-loaded: lift the weight concentrically to the fully contracted/finish position, and hold it there for 45 seconds; then, immediately perform 4-7 normal reps to failure.Back-loaded: perform 4-7 normal reps; on the final rep, hold the weight in the fully contracted/finish position for 30-45 seconds to failure.
Progression:Front-loaded: when you can achieve 7 or more reps after the 45 second hold, increase the weight by 5-10 pounds on the next workout.Backloaded: when you can hold the weight in the full contracted/finish position for the full 45 seconds after performing 7 reps, increase the weight by 5-10 pounds on the next workout.
Tips:Back-loaded 7 Ups are a great mental toughness builder.Make sure to hold the weight all the way in the fully contracted position-anything less doesn’t count.
Putting It All Together: Sample Workout
Below is a sample full-body workout, utilizing all of the overload protocols described in this report.You are only limited by your imagination when setting up routines using these protocols; the possible combinations are almost endless.
Another fun thing to do with the overload protocol workouts you create is to name them.The more creative and descriptive the name, the better.
Here are some examples of workout names that have been used in the past:
“Off The Chain”
“Bad To The Bone”
“Ain’t Leavin Til I’m Heavin”
“Go Hard Or Go Home”
“Clear And Present Danger”
“Full Metal Jacket”
See what names you can come up with for your workouts!
Exercise–overload protocol–rep performance
1. Leg Press–3 Strikes You’re Out–15-17, 6-8, 3-5, 30 seconds between sets
2. Dips–Slo Mo–1 rep 30” up/30” down, then 4-7 upper body (6-9 lower body)
3. Hammer Strength Row–Iso Holds–4-7 upper body (6-9 lower body)
4. Dumbbell Laterals–Reverse Progressions–6/5/4/3/2/1, 10” between sets
5. Cable Bicep Curl–Quarters–4-6 upper body (6-8 lower body)
6. Hanging Knee Raise–7 Ups (back-loaded)–4-7, 30”-45” hold
Try this workout and let me know what you think!
I hope you enjoyed this special report, and found it educational.The advanced strength training techniques discussed here were popular with the players, gave them a great workout, and were fun, challenging and rewarding for the coaches to administer.
For more educational, entertaining, and motivational articles and videos on strength training, please visit Dave Durell’s website, www.HighIntensityNation.com.
Be sure to sign up for the USC Elite Training Membership to get access to hundreds of articles, videos, reviews and more related to strength and conditioning.