Planning Strength and Speed Training For American Football

American Football, like many other sports, has a history of coaches with a poor understanding of the sport’s demands inflicting upon players the necessity to run laps of the pitch, and engage in other forms of training at odds with the sport’s unique demands. With a constant stop start style to the play, with the average play lasting no longer than ten seconds, followed by a much longer rest period, its demands are closer to traditional sprinting and weight training methods, than sports such as Rugby or Boxing, where there is a much greater endurance element required. At the same time, the sport has a big element of lateral mobility and technical considerations to consider, absent from pure speed or strength sports.This article will look at ways to incorporate speed and strength training methods to assist a player looking to improve his speed/strength during the football off-season. Each element will be considered individually. Given the wide range of requirements for the different positions in football, this article will focus on training planning for a typical week for Linebackers, Backs and Strong Safeties, although the advice is applicable to most positions except Kickers and Offensive/Defensive Linemen. Even then, many of the elements would remain broadly similar for these positions.Strength TrainingMost American Football players today will already place a large emphasis on strength training as this has been emphasized for a comparatively longer time in the sport due to the ever increasing demand for larger and stronger athletes. This does not mean that players should automatically follow the training advice handed out in bodybuilding magazines, or follow a generic college training program. Unfortunately, most college programs suffer from being overly simplistic due to the need to try to train 40 or 50 athletes at once in a facility. This type of training leads to the most simple, easy to administer programs being handed out to athletes, rather than the most effective. Similarly, athletes who believe bodybuilding programs can enhance sports performance may potentially gain some muscle size but at the expense often of relative strength and speed going down, as well as a decrease in joint mobility if emphasising single joint exercises. Additionally, bodybuilding programs’ emphasis on training to failure and exhaustive work on individual muscle groups will lead to less energy being available for the high intensity, explosive work which football demands.Split Training vs Whole Body TrainingMost players will often follow a typical bodybuilding protocol where individual muscle groups are trained once per week with very high volume. Unfortunately, while this may work under certain circumstances for bodybuilders, football players cannot afford to adopt this method. Most significantly, this method of training makes it very difficult to integrate training with the demands of improving other elements vital to success in football. For example, many bodybuilders will train back, quadriceps, hamstrings on separate days. This will mean for most of the time players will have insufficient energy to perform their other drills, sprint work etc due to excess muscular fatigue. Furthermore, split training will mean the central nervous system is always under stress from constantly performing high intensity activity leading to impaired recovery and ability to perform other drills outside the gym with the required intensity.

This leaves two options. The first is to adopt a lower/upper body split and the second is to adopt a full body training program. Both options have their advocates. Splitting the body into lower/upper will mean legs get trained twice a week meaning five days are left for rest. By only training legs on those two days, a greater volume of work can be performed on training days compared to a typical whole body approach consisting of hitting the weights on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday basis, where because of the increased frequency and need to train upper body as well, leg training volume would need to be reduced.Depending on the athlete’s needs an upper/lower split is usually more useful for increasing strength and muscle size as many will struggle to maintain the intensity needed for a long, whole body training workout. A sample lower/upper body split would be as follows:Sample Strength Training SplitMondaySquats 4 x 4-6
Romanian Deadlifts 4 x 4-6
Step Ups 2 x 8
Pullthroughs 2 x 8
Ab Rollouts 2 x 8TuesdayIncline Bench Press 4 x 4
Hang Cleans 3 x 3
Shoulder Press 2 x 6
Pullups 2 x 6
Tricep Extensions 2 x 8
Barbell Curls 2 x 8ThursdayPower Cleans 5 x 3
Snatch Grip Deadlifts 3 x 5
One Legged Squats 2 x 6
Glute Ham Raise 2 x 8
Hanging Leg Raises 2 x 10FridayClose Grip Bench Press 3 x 5
Pullups 3 x 5
Incline Dumbell Press 2 x 8
Seated Row Machine 2 x 8
Tricep Extensions 2 x 12
Dumbell Curls 2 x 12Speed TrainingSpeed training for football players needs to consider the fact that football sprints are usually of much shorter duration than sprinting in track and field events. At the same time the body mechanics of football players will be different to those you see in top class sprinters.Having said that, a speed training program for football players will have a large degree of overlap with that of Olympic athletes but with a limited requirement for the type of speed endurance work performed by sprinters during the summer track season. Instead a football program should primarily emphasise acceleration techniques with a smaller component of top speed work so that for the rare occasions that a full sprint is required, the player is able to maintain his top speed for longer.Although there are many differing views on how to train speed, the approach used by Charlie Francis[i] is one which works well for integrating the other aspects of football training.Speed Training Template for Off-SeasonMondayWarmup – 5 min general warmup
Mobility Exercises – 10 min
Running Drills – 10 min
Start Work – 6 x 10m (Practise a 3 point or 2 point stance and perform a maximal 10m sprint)
Acceleration Work – 6 x 20m (2 or 3 point stance and accelerate through to 20m)
Acceleration Work – 2 x 30m (Run from standing start to 30m)Rest times between sprints should be 2-3 mins for 10m work, 3-5 min for 20m work, and 4-6 min for 30m work to ensure full recovery is attained.The astute reader will notice the sprints are combined on a day where the weights pushed will be heavy. Depending on the athletes needs, they could sprint in the AM and do the weights in the evening or vice versa. Both approaches will work. The main factor behind placing sprints on the same day as weight training the legs is to allow for greater CNS and muscular recovery. Trying to sprint on separate days (e.g. on Tue) would mean the legs still being fatigued from the day before and then having less rest before the next weight session for legs. By contrast, combining weight training with leg work on the same day is something sprint coaches usually recommend.TuesdayWarmup – 5 min general warmup
Mobility Exercises – 10 min
Running Drills – 10 min
Tempo Work 8-10 x 100m @60-70% speedTempo training is running the distance at a sub-maximal speed and walking the next 100m. It is very important both for active recovery (recovering from the previous day’s exertions), learning to run in a relaxed manner (many athletes strain too much when sprinting maximally), and for overall conditioning and fat loss (the intervals being approximately similar when running/walking, as the work/rest time in football and in fat loss protocols such as Tabata).WednesdayWith another high intensity day scheduled for Thursday, Wednesday is a time to rest and recuperate. Some mobility and drill work is okay for those who need it though.ThursdayWarm-up – 5 min general warm-up
Mobility Exercises – 10 min
Running Drills – 10 min
Start Work – 6 x 10m (Practice a 3 point or 2 point stance and perform a maximal 10m sprint)
Acceleration – 3 x 20m
Acceleration – 3 x 30m
Top Speed – 3 x 50mThursday’s sprint training session is partnered with a relatively low load, explosive lifting weight training day. The sprint distances complement the weights by being of a greater distance and speed. This is the day when the football player will work his maximum speed but we keep acceleration work in, albeit at a reduced volume, as acceleration is a very important factor for football as well as helping to warmup the body for the top speed work. Rest times can be up to 10min long for the top speed sprints. The work conducted has to be of a high quality with full muscular and CNS recovery between sprints the aim of the athlete.FridayTempo Work – 8-10 x 100m
This day is a repeat of TuesdaySaturdayWarm-up – 5 min general warm-up
Mobility Exercises – 10 min
Running Drills – 10 min
Start Work – 4 x 10m (Practice a 3 point or 2 point stance and perform a maximal 10m sprint)
Acceleration – 3 x 20m
Acceleration – 2 x 30m
Top Speed – 2 x 50m
Top Speed – 2 x 60mSaturday is the day when we should be at our freshest. There is no weight training prior to training and we are furthest removed from the draining effects of the heavy weight training conducted on Monday and Tuesday. There is a greater emphasis on top speed work this time with an increase in the distance up to 60m. This should be the time the athlete is setting his best times.

SundayRestGoing Past a WeekAt this point it should be pointed out that the approach given is for a sample training week in the off-season. Strength and speed training should still be periodized as normal. A favored approach of many programs is to gradually increase training volume and intensity before incorporating a week of reduced volume and intensity to allow for supercompensation and CNS recovery to take place. A 3/1 split of hard training followed by an easier “unloading” week will help promote continued improvements rather than trying to constantly add weight/sets/sprints to the program which will only lead to stagnation.At the same time, other exercises and techniques will usually be incorporated to provide the athlete’s body with new challenges but the overall goal should remain the same which is to increase strength and speed over the long haul. Although it will be easy for a beginner to make rapid improvements in both strength and speed following a structure such as that outlined, at some point it is likely that either the weights or the speed work will have to be reduced in volume (although not intensity) and maintained so that the other quality being work can be emphasized.Most 100m sprinters will usually go from a program where strength increases are emphasized in winter to one where weight training is restricted to maintenance only so that full attention can be devoted to maximal speed work during the summer months.Of course, for American Football players, they may have a differing view on which element needs emphasizing but the fact remains that given that neither strength or speed improvements in-season are realistic, the player should look at his off-season training program and consider which variable he needs to work on the most. Then, he can perform a greater or lesser amount of speed or strength work as deemed appropriate by him and his coaching staff. For a strong athlete with limited speed this would mean reducing the volume of his weight work on his training days and training speed first in the training day, when the CNS and muscular system is freshest. On the other hand, a weak, fast athlete may wish to perform a limited amount of speed work and increase his weight training volume so that he can bring up his strength levels quicker.Other FactorsMany other factors beyond how the athlete structures his training are important including mobility drills, nutritional support, supplementation, recovery and regeneration techniques, and technical work. Although these are beyond the scope of this article, each element should be implemented carefully. Please check the other articles at this site for further reading.[i] The Charlie Francis Training System (1992)

Publishing Choices For Writers – Self-Publishing Print on Demand, Introduction

Under the self-publishing umbrella, there are many options for writers when they are considering how they want to get their work out into the general public. Traditionally, authors were limited with either working with a traditional publisher, or finding someone to help them self-publish their work. As discussed in other articles of this series, there are many different ways for authors to get their work out there depending upon each author’s individual needs.In the past, whether an author worked with a traditional publisher or self-published, hundreds of their books needed to be printed at any one time. With the advent of new technology, writers can now actually see their work in print prior to printing without sticking them with too many unsold copies of their book. In addition, they have the option to print a copy of a book only when one is sold. Authors can do this through Print-On-Demand (POD) technology.

Print On Demand, as the name implies, allows an author to print as small a number of copies as they want, whenever they want, through a digital printing process. Because the book is being printed digitally, there is no need to set up the traditional offset printing presses, which would be cost prohibitive for a single or a just a few copies of a book. Once the set up is done for the digital format, it is done and can be used repeatedly whenever the need arises.Print On Demand solves many issues for new writers not being published by a publishing house. For example, prior to getting their work out to the general public, authors may want to have an advance review copy of their book for either their own review or to send to a book reviewer. Having an established book reviewer give a good review of a book prior to full printing is a good indication as to ultimately how many copies should be printed. In the alternative, a bad review might indicate the need to go back to the drawing (or in this case writing) board to clean up the work.Also, Print On Demand solves the storage issue for books for both a publisher and an author. In the past, whether published traditionally or self-published, when a book was done, there were copies hanging about until sold. Both publisher and author would have to warehouse them which could get expensive, although the author usually ended up with hundreds of books on their kitchen table or in their basement. With Print On Demand, a book is only printed when needed.

At the same time, in order to see a copy of their book in print prior to printing the larger number of copies, an author would have had to pay an absorbent amount of money to a printer to get the single copies. Now, it is usually just a small set up fee to the digital printing company and an author has a book in print.All the above are some benefits of Print On Demand. However, it is not the answer to all publishing ills. In the other parts of the POD series I will discuss some negatives that may be deciding factors on not going with Print On Demand publishing.

Importance of Branding for E-Commerce Businesses

E-commerce businesses are becoming a reliable way to buy products online. Branding plays a direct role in improving chances of e-commerce business success. An increasing number of global customers are switching to e-commerce sites to purchase everything from groceries to apparel, and electronics to lifestyle products. The e-commerce industry has completely transformed the way in which consumers around the world access products and services. It has suddenly brought a world of options to the fingertips of end users. The future seems bright for the e-commerce industry, with major players branching out into newer product categories frequently (thus setting the standards for smaller brands).For e-commerce businesses, things are going well enough, but the competition is also fierce. New e-commerce brands are launching every day and persistently trying to get a foothold online. When it comes to branding, e-commerce companies are leaving no stone unturned. In this scenario, it is vital that you build and implement a high quality branding strategy for your e-commerce business.Branding Strategies For E-Commerce BusinessesBy having a result-oriented, effective branding plan for your e-commerce business, you can stand out amongst your competitors. To achieve that, you must determine what makes your e-commerce business a unique player in the industry. Are you offering high quality products at the best available rates? Do you organize regular discounts and offers for your customers? Are you adding new product categories to meet more customer demands? What are the factors that would convince customers to choose your brand against others? E-commerce business owners must strive to highlight the unique selling points of their brand. Only then can an e-commerce brand be boldly promoted to larger audiences.

As an e-commerce brand, you have to be at the forefront when it comes to attracting product vendors as well as consumers to your e-store. Vendors would be interested in using your marketplace, if it has a strong brand that keeps providing value to customers. The number of sellers and customers you bring in to your network depends on the strength of your e-commerce brand, and how well it delivers on its promises. If you are intelligent in your branding, and consistent in your service quality, your e-commerce brand can achieve considerable success.E-commerce branding, like all branding, is influencing the perception of your brand and its services, in the eyes of the customer. Effective e-commerce branding will make marketing easier, retain more customers, drive up loyalty, and create better potential value for steady, long-term success.The way you must approach an e-commerce branding strategy is by highlighting some key points. With branding, you must uphold your business’s core mission, the problems you aim to solve for your customers, standards that it adheres to, and proof of the quality of services you provide. What are the factors involved in business branding and their importance?E-Commerce Branding – Methods and Importance1. Your Brand Image – A stellar, uniquely identifiable brand image helps customers attach value to your e-commerce brand’s personality. This includes various things such as logos, banners, taglines, marketing captions, social content etc., which should always represent your brand the best. This is quite important if you want to create value for potential customers and convert them into loyal customers. A good brand image goes a long way in retaining customers, by continually generating interest for your e-commerce brand’s offerings.2. Customer Satisfaction – Customers are everything, when it comes to e-commerce or any other type of business. You can actually enhance customer experiences and drive up satisfaction (and loyalties). This is a big part of establishing your e-commerce brand. Put your best foot forward while marketing, deliver on your promises you make, and provide unmatched service and support to enhance your brand’s potential value. Remember that satisfied existing customers can and will bring in newer customers to your e-commerce business. Maintain your integrity and keep reinventing to bolster your brand’s chances of business success.3. Find Your Unique Selling Proposition – As an e-commerce business owner you must determine the USP of your brand. This will help you brand and promote it better to larger groups of potential customers. Think about what sets you apart from dozens of competitors vying for true e-commerce glory. Is it your service quality or support? Is it the trust of your customers and your track record? Do you provide innovative offers, discounts and promotions on special occasions? Do you house the widest variety of rare products? You must determine why customers would choose your e-commerce site. What extra value can you offer to your potential customers that convince them to use your platform again and again? Find your USP and use it to strengthen your brand.

4. Utilize All Channels – Technological advances in the past decade demand that your e-commerce business maximizes its presence on all social, web-based and mobile platforms. More and more potential customers buy and sell through handheld devices, and almost all of them are on social websites. All your competitors are doing it, and so should you. It will help you make your brand easily accessible to larger audiences, which in turn will bring more conversions and significantly better revenues. Social and mobile should be the front and center of your branding strategy.E-commerce sites can benefit from the above mentioned branding strategies. By using the concepts provide here, you can establish your e-commerce brand and take your business to the next level.