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Routines Part I: off the beaten path.

The daily grind of strength training during the off-season can often rear its ugly head in the guise of mental and physical staleness. Whenever we sense this monster about to step-up to the plate, we try to strike it out with a change-up pitch.






Many programs will select a set number of core exercises and cycle the sets/reps in terms of intensity and volume over a designated period of weeks. Other programs will use more of an undulating system, with a greater fluctuation in exercises, sets, and reps.

Regardless of your base approach to strength training, you might want to try one or more of the following routines when you sense that your athletes could use a deviation from the status quo.


The following routines have a multi-joint emphasis, meaning that more than one joint complex comes into play in all of the movements. The best reason to incorporate such exercises is because they stimulate a large aggregation of muscle tissue. Everyone wants more "bang for the buck" in strength training exercises, and multi-joint movements meet that requirement.


At least two cycles are performed for each of the following upper-body routines. On the first cycle, 8-10 reps are executed for each exercise. On the second cycle, 6-8 reps are performed.

All sets should be maximal or near maximal efforts--meaning that the last few reps of each set should be difficult to complete, but can be accomplished without deterioration in technique.

The positive (raising) phase of each movement is carried out with as much force as is needed to move the weight without losing control, while the negative (lowering) phase is performed with a smooth descent to the starting position.



This is a dumbbell routine that works much of the upper body musculature (primarily in the chest, shoulders, and upper back). The format involves starting with a pressing movement, allowing for a short rest, and then following it with a pulling movement. A longer rest is permitted, and then the angle of the press is changed as the routine continues. It looks like this:

* DB Incline Press (starting position shown in Photo 1) -- 30-second rest.

* DB Row (mid-range position shown in Photo 2) -- 90-second rest.

* DB Seated Military Press -- 30-second rest.

* DB Row -- 90-second rest.

* DB Bench Press -- 30-second rest.

* DB Row -- completion of first cycle.

Rest two minutes, and then start second cycle.

Note: Both the right and left sides must be worked with each DB Row set.


Dumbbells furnish your athletes with a chance to train each limb independently--an option that can address strength deficits not as easily detected or corrected with bilateral modalities.

This 12-set cycle can be combined with a lower body workout, or used as the centerpiece of an upper body only day. Those who prefer split routines and higher volume on upper body days might add a third cycle of 4-6 reps per exercise.

Another variation is to highlight either the presses or the rows by performing two consecutive sets of the preferred movement.


* DB Incline Press -- 60-second rest.

* DB Incline Press -- 30-second rest.

* DB Row -- 90-second rest.

* DB Seated Military Press -- 60-second rest.

* DB Seated Military Press -- 30-second rest.

* DB Row -- 90-second rest.

* DB Bench Press -- 60-second rest.

* DB Bench Press -- 30-second rest.

* DB Row

End of cycle.


* DB Incline Press -- 30-second rest.

* DB Row -- 60-second rest.

* DB Row -- 90-second rest.

* DB Seated Military Press -- 30-second rest.

* DB Row -- 60-second rest.

* DB Row -- 30-second rest.

* DB Bench Press -- 30-second rest.

* DB Row -- 60-second rest.

* DB Row

End of cycle.

Note the change in recovery periods between sets. Most people find that a longer respite is needed between consecutive sets of the same movement. Adequate recovery is also allotted after the second set of the emphasized movement so that the sequence can be repeated with some degree of intensity.

Each cycle has been expanded from six total exercises to nine; a factor to consider when determining total volume.


Here's a twist on the same "press/pull" theme, using different equipment:

* Barbell Bench Press -- 30-second rest.

* Overhand Front Lat Pulldown -- 90-second rest.

* Barbell Incline Press -- 30-second rest.

* Upright Row (with bar or DB's) -- 90-second rest.

* Standing Military Press--(starting position shown in Photo 3) -- 30-second rest.

* Chin-ups -- Completion of first cycle.

Rest two minutes, and then start second cycle.


Remember, the rep schematic is identical to the first routine. Also, the same press/pull highlight variation we made in the first routine can be incorporated with the identical format for this routine.

Note: Some larger athletes may need assistance with the chin-ups. If they cannot pull themselves to the bar, have them climb to the top until their chin is over the bar (mid-range position) and lower themselves under control.


Here is a very simple, yet extremely intense and effective lower body routine. We perform a total of three cycles, with 10-12 reps executed on the first cycle for each exercise, 8-10 reps on the second cycle, and 6-8 reps on the third cycle. A three-minute respite is allotted between cycles.

It looks like this:

* Leg Press -- (mid-range position shown in Photo 4)--two minute rest.

* Deadlift -- (starting position shown in Photo 5)--two minute rest.

* Lunges -- (mid-range position shown in Photo 6)--completion of first cycle.

Rest three minutes, and then start second cycle.

Notes: On the lunges, both legs must be worked through the designate rep range for each cycle.

The same coaching points indicated in the upper body routines for executing the positive and negative phases of each movement apply here, as well.


Year-round strength training is a tough and sometimes unforgiving venture that requires the utmost mental focus and physical intensity. I'm sure that all of you have a superlative program on paper that works like a charm most of the year.

If, however, your athletes ever hit a snag, give them a routine that is off the beaten path for at least a day or so.

It may pay off--from a mental standpoint, if nothing else.



The coaching profession is made up of some the hardest working, genuinely committed, and sincerely loyal people in the work force.

Along with those commendable attributes is a great deal of stress from the brutal hours and invariable pressures that come with the territory. Many of the negatives associated with coaching cannot be controlled and must be viewed as "challenges" rather than "pressures." Adopting this perspective and putting a positive slant on it will energize you to fight through the obstacles.

Additionally, it is vitally important to put a premium on your health. Do you find yourself gaining excess weight during the season from poor eating habits, feeling sluggish, not being quite as sharp mentally as you should be, and having a short fuse with your family members, players, and associates?

Call a timeout, coach! Maybe you should conduct a "burnout checkout" before it's too late:


* Spend some quality time with your family every day. Your final words on this earth should never be, "Gee, I wish I would have spent more time at work!"

* Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. (Your players are not going to respond to a fatigued, irritable, low-energy coach with road map eyes.)

* Eat regularly and include at least five servings of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.

* Eat foods that are high in fiber. (Go back to irritable ... get the point?)

* Choose foods that are low in cholesterol, saturated fat, and Trans fats. (Just check the labels.)

* If you're a heavy red meat eater (try to cut down a little, please?) eat it baked, grilled, or broiled, rather than fried. Try to eat more poultry and fish.

* When eating out, go easy on the condiments (many are very high in sodium) and choose low fat dressings served on the side so you can control the amount used.

* Get at least 30 minutes of exercise a minimum of 3-5 days per week--year-round! (Obviously, check with your primary care physician for clearance and a game plan.)

* Along those same lines, make sure all of your medical tests are up to date for your gender and age group (e.g., prostate exam, colonoscopy, mammogram, blood pressure, blood lipid profile etc.).

Did I mention spending quality time with your family? That 16-year old daughter of yours will be leaving the nest soon. When was the last time you had a heart-to-heart talk with her, gave her a hug, told her how proud she makes you, and how much you love her?

--Ken Mannie

By Ken Mannie, Strength/Conditioning Coach Michigan State University

Send your questions to: Ken Mannie, Michigan State University, Duffy Daugherty Building, East Lansing, MI 48824 or via email at
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Title Annotation:POWERLINE; exercises for student athletes
Author:Mannie, Ken
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2005
Previous Article:The lady was no tramp.
Next Article:The importance of the chain of command.

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