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National Strength and Conditioning Association

Bridging the gap between science and application

April 2006
Volume 5, Number 2
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
Conditioning Fundamentals
Plyometrics for Kids:
Facts and Fallacies
Avery D. Faigenbaum, EdD, CSCS
Plyometric training for kids is a topic that is lled with con-
troversy and misinformation. Tis article discusses some of
the common myths associated with plyometric training and
Taking the First Few Steps Explosively:
Te Missing Link
John M. Cissik, MS, CSCS,*D,
Te ability to take the rst few steps explosively is very impor-
tant in athletics. Tis article looks at why the rst few steps
are important, the proper technique for the rst few steps, and
drills to both learn and improve the starting technique. Sample
programs are also included.
Ounce of Prevention
Lower Extremity Stretching Program
for Endurance Runners
Jason Brumitt, MSPT, SCS, ATC, CSCS,*D
Inexibility or muscle tightness may contribute to muscular
related running injuries. Tis article features a lower extremity
stretching program for the endurance running athlete.
Training Table
Sensible Supplements
Debra Wein, MS, RD, LDN, NSCA-CPT
Supplements usage by athletes continues to grow. Tis article
discusses the regulation, marketing, and labeling of supple-
Set Yourself Up For Success
In Practice
Suzie Tuffey Riewald, PhD, NSCA-CPT,*D
If you are looking for success in competition, you need success
in practice. Tis article discusses how to set up practice goals,
analyze past practices, and things you can do in each practice
session to help promote success.
G. Gregory Haff, PhD, CSCS
Learn the latest news from the eld on the eects of stretch-
ing, sled pulling, and whole body vibration on sprint perfor-
In The Gym
Exercise and Heat Stroke
Joseph M. Warpeha, MA, CSCS,*D,
With the approach of summer, more individuals begin exer-
cising outside. However as temperatures begin to rise, heat
related illnesses become a major concern. Tis article discusses
heat related illnesses and provides guidelines for exercise in hot
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ing, we support and disseminate research-based knowl-
edge and its practical application, to improve athletic
performance and tness.
Talk to us
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Editorial Of ce
1885 Bob Johnson Drive
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80906
Phone: +1 719-632-6722
Editor: Keith Cinea, MA, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D
email: kcinea@nsca-lift.org
Sponsorship Information: Robert Jursnick
email: rjursnick@nsca-lift.org
Editorial Review Panel
Kyle Brown, CSCS
Scott Cheatham DPT, ATC, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
John M. Cissik, MS, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D
Shane Domer, MEd, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D
Chris A. Fertal, CSCS, ATC
Michael Hartman, MS, CSCS,*D
Mark S. Kovacs, MEd, CSCS
David Pollitt, CSCS
David Sandler, MS, CSCS
Brian K. Schilling, PhD, CSCS
Mark Stephenson, ATC, CSCS,*D
David J. Szymanski, PhD, CSCS,*D
Chad D. Touchberry, MS, CSCS
Randall Walton, CSCS
Joseph M. Warpeha, MA, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D
Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
running velocity only during the 0 10
m portion of the sprint. As a result of
this increase, the acceleration phase (0
20 m) also exhibited a greater overall
sprint velocity. However, resisted sled
pulling resulted in no change in running
velocity during the 20 50 m assess-
ment. Conversely, the US group exhib-
ited no signicant improvements in
the acceleration phase, and signicantly
greater improvements in the maximum
velocity phase (20 50 m) of the tested
sprint. Te authors speculate that the
improvements in the acceleration phase
in the RS group were probably caused
by increases in muscular strength. Since
neither group performed any resistance
training, it is likely that the improve-
ments noted by the RS group are a result
of increases in muscular strength. Based
upon these results it was concluded that
weighted sled pulling may oer some
benets when improvements in accelera-
tion are needed, while maximal speed is
improved by unloaded sprint training.
However, it is unknown at this time if
this benet will still exist if the athlete
is participating in a periodized strength
training program designed to improve
leg an hip strength and power produc-
ing capacity.
Zafeiridis A, Saraslanidis P, Manou V,
Ioakimidis P, Dipla K, Kellis S. (2005).
Te eect of resisted sled-pulling sprint
training on acceleration and maximum
speed performance. Journal of Sports
Medicine and Physical Fitness, 45(3):284
G. Gregory Haff, PhD, CSCS
Should You Stretch Before
You Sprint?
Recently researchers from the
Department of Kinesiology at Louisiana
State University examined the eects of
a variety of stretching protocols on 20
m sprint times. Eleven males and ve
females were recruited from the nation-
ally ranked Louisiana State University
track and eld team to participate in
the investigation. Subjects participated
in the dierent stretching protocols in
a randomized manner. Prior to each
of the stretching protocols all athletes
performed a series of warm-up exercises
which included 1) an 800 m jog, 2)
forward skips 4 x 30 m, 3) side shu es
4 x 30 m, and 4) backwards skips 4 x
30 m. Four stretching protocols were
then tested: 1) no stretching on either
leg (NS), 2) both legs stretched (BS),
3) forward leg in the starting position
stretched (FS), 4) rear leg in the starting
position stretched (RS). Each stretching
protocol was performed four times with
each stretch being held for 30 s. Overall
the data suggested that the NS condi-
tion produced the fastest 20-m sprint
time (3.17 0.04 s), while BS (3.21
0.04 s), FS (3.21 0.04 s), and RS (3.22
0.04 s) produced the slowest sprint
times. Tere were no statistical dier-
ences noted between the BS, FS, and
RS groupings. Based upon the ndings
of this investigation the authors sug-
gest that performing passive stretching
exercises before sprinting activities can
result in a signicant decline in sprinting
speed. Terefore, it was recommended
that the use of passive stretching tech-
niques be avoid by athletes prior to the
performance of sprinting activities.
Nelson AG, Driscoll NM, Landin DK,
Young MA, and Scheznayder IC. (2005).
Acute eects of passive muscle stretching
on sprint performance. Journal of Sports
Sciences, 23(5):449 454.
Does Resisted
SledPulling Improve
Sprint Performance?
Sprint training which employs load pull-
ing has been widely applied to enhance
sprint performance of many athletes.
Event though the practice of loaded
sled-pulling is very popular, very little
scientic data has been collected to sup-
port this practice. Researchers from the
Department of Physical Education and
Sport Science, at Aristotelio University
of Tessaloniki in Tessaloniki, Greece
recently performed an investigation in
order to examine the eects of resisted
and un-resisted sprint training on sprint
performance. Twenty-two recreationally
trained athletes were randomly divided
into a resisted (RS) and un-resisted (US)
sprint training program. Each group
participated in an 8week sprint training
regime. Te RS group was required to
pull a 5 kg sled while the US group per-
formed the same sprint training regime
with out a resistance sled. Te sprint
training consisted of 4 x 20 and 4 x 50
m maximal runs that were performed
three times per week for the duration
of the investigation. Tree days prior to
and three days after the sprint training
program, each subject was tested by per-
forming two 50 m sprints. Performance
times were measured every 10 meters,
while kinematic characteristics were
evaluated during the acceleration (0
20 m) and at maximum speeds (20
50 m). Results of the study suggest that
pulling a 5 kg sled signicantly improves
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
Whole Body Vibration
Training Ofers No Beneft
to Sprint Trained Athletes
Te use of whole body vibration as a
training modality is gaining popular-
ity in a variety of settings. Little data
exists exploring the eects of integrat-
ing whole body vibration training into
the training practices of sprint trained
athletes. Recently, researchers from the
Department of Kinesiology at Katholieke
University Leuven, in Leuven, Belgium
investigated the eects of the addition
of whole body vibration training to the
training practices of sprinters on speed-
strength performance. Twenty highly
trained sprint athletes were recruited for
the present investigation and divided
into two equal groups. Te ve week
sprint training program for these ath-
letes consisted of
1. Interval and speed training
(2 3 sessions weekly)
2. Speed training drills (2 sessions
3. Plyometrics (1 session weekly), and
resistance training
(3 sessions weekly)
Tis training regime was designed in a
periodized fashion in accordance with
guidelines set forth by the National
Strength and Conditioning Association.
Te vibration training group also per-
formed a series of 6 exercises designed to
work the lower body for a total vibration
exposure of 9, 13.5, and 18 minutes.
Te vibration frequency ranged between
35 40 Hz. Results of this investigation
revealed that their was no dierence
between the vibration group and the
non-vibration group after the 5 week
training regime for 1) isometric knee
exor strength, 2) dynamic knee exor
strength, 3) start time, 4) horizontal
start acceleration, 5) counter movement
vertical jump performance, and 6) 30
m sprint performance. Based upon this
investigation it appears that the utiliza-
tion of whole body vibration oers no
additional benets to the sprint athlete
who is undergoing a periodized training
regime which incorporates resistance,
plyometric, speed training, and sprint
interval training.
Delecluse C, Roelants M, Diels R,
Koninckx E, Verschueren S. (2005).
Eects of whole body vibration on mus-
cle strength and sprint performance
in sprint-trained athletes. International
Journal of Sports Medicine, 26:662
About the Author
G. Gregory Ha, PhD, CSCS, is an assis-
tant professor in the Division of Exercise
Physiology at the Medical School at West
Virginia University in Morgantown,
WV. He is a member of the National
Strength and Conditioning Associations
Research Committee and the USA
Weightlifting Sports Medicine Committee.
Dr. Ha received the National Strength
and Conditioning Associations Young
Investigator Award in 2001.
G. Gregory Haff, PhD, CSCS
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
ummer is right around the cor-
ner which makes this a good
time to talk about the prob-
lems that can be brought on by exercise
or physical exertion in hot environ-
ments. Te human body is remarkable
in its ability to adapt to environmental
extremes as highlighted by indigenous
peoples living in climates that range
from Alaska and Siberia to the tropics
of Central America and the deserts of
Africa. Te body does have its limits
however, particularly for those who have
not been born and raised in an extreme
environment or, at the very least, have
not acclimatized (adapted).
Heat stroke (HS) is a medical emergency
and is the most severe of all heat illness
nervous system dysfunction (e.g. confu-
sion, unconsciousness), 2) hot dry skin,
and 3) core temperature >41
C (1
depending on the source) (3). Core tem-
perature should be measured rectally for
the most accurate assessment (2). Te
only dierence in criteria for exertional
HS is that the core temperature may
be slightly lower and profuse sweating
is often present (although skin may
be wet or dry at the time of collapse).
Other symptoms of HS include rapid
heartbeat, rapid and shallow breathing,
altered blood pressure (elevated or low-
ered), altered mental status, vomiting,
diarrhea, seizures, and coma. Classical
HS often occurs during extreme heat
waves with the elderly and very young
being particularly vulnerable. Exertional
HS typically occurs in previously healthy
young people who perform heavy or
intense exercise in hot and/or humid
environments. Te classic example is a
football player participating in two-a-
day practices in a helmet and full pads
during a Midwest summer heat wave.
A temperate climate like the Midwest
is a good example because there can be
extreme heat waves with drastic swings
es. HS is a failure of the hypothalamic
temperature regulatory center due to a
rising core temperature. In other words,
the thermostat that keeps our body
temperature in a fairly narrow operating
range breaks down and results in an
uncontrolled rise in core temperature
that can quickly become fatal if appro-
priate measures are not taken. Death can
be due to a multitude of complications
arising from the HS cascade including
heart failure or cerebral edema (3). Te
mortality associated with HS has been
quoted between 10 50% (4).
HS is classied as either classical or
exertional with only minor dierences
between the two. Te diagnostic criteria
for classical heat stroke are: 1) central
and Heat Stroke
Joseph M. Warpeha, MA, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D
Table 1. Risk Factors for Heat Stroke
Major Risk Factors for Heat Stroke
- High temperature
- High humidity
- High solar radiation
- Little or no wind
Physical Activity
- Vigorous exercise
- Heavy exertion
- Intense activities
- Older than 75
- Younger than 5
Other Risk Factors For Heat Stroke
Male gender Lack of acclimatization Lack of ftness
Previous heat stroke Wearing excessive clothing Obesity
Dehydration Fatigue Illness/Disease
Malnutrition Alcohol use Certain Medications
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
in temperature and many people are
not acclimatized to the heat like those
who live in hot climates and are more
adapted to the heat and humidity. Te
combination of an intense physical sport
like football and heavy equipment that
deters heat dissipation is particularly
dangerous in hot environments. All ath-
letes (not just football players) who
spend time training/competing in a hot
environment must take precautions to
prevent heat illnesses.
HS is the most frequent environmen-
tally-related cause of death in the U.S.
with about 400 deaths per year attrib-
uted to it (6). Surprisingly, HS is second
only to head injuries in exercise-related
deaths (3) and is the third leading cause
of death among athletes in the U.S.
(6), so the consequences of this heat
illness should not be underestimated.
HS aects virtually all of the bodys vital
systems including cardiovascular, neuro-
logical, renal, gastrointestinal, immuno-
logical, and musculoskeletal (4).
Te major risk factors for HS include a
hot environment, vigorous exercise/exer-
tion, and age. Risk factors for HS are
listed in Table 1.
Since a hot environment is the major
ingredient, it is important to take into
account all of the factors that contribute
to this heat (high environmental tem-
perature and solar radiation) as well as
those that make it more di cult for the
body to dissipate heat (high humidity
and little or no wind). Te wet-bulb
globe temperature (WGBT) is a single
index that accounts for these factors
(except wind) in an attempt to quantify
heat stress and prevent heat illness (5).
quate hydration levels and salt/electro-
lyte stores during prolonged exertion is
paramount. For the athlete or exerciser,
acclimatizing oneself to hot conditions
over several days or weeks is the most
eective way to gradually introduce the
body to a hot environment. Tis causes
adaptive mechanisms to take place and
allows the thermoregulatory system to
function more e ciently in hot envi-
ronments. If you must train in the heat,
acclimatizing yourself and following the
above precautions is the best prevention
of serious heat illness including heat
1. American College of Sports Medicine.
(2006). ACSMs guidelines for exercise
testing and prescription, 7th edition.
Baltimore: Lippincott Williams &
2. strand PO, Rodahl K, Dahl HA,
Strmme SB. (2003). Textbook of work
physiology: physiological bases of exer-
cise, 4th edition. Champaign: Human
3. Brooks GA, Fahey TD, Baldwin KM.
(2005) Exercise physiology: human bioen-
ergetics and its applications, 4th edition.
New York: McGraw-Hill.
4. Grogan H, Hopkins PM. (2002)
.Heat stroke: implications for critical
care and anaesthesia. British Journal of
Anaesthesia, 88:700 707.
5. McArdle WD, Katch FI, Katch VL.
(1996). Exercise physiology: energy, nutri-
tion, and human performance, 4th edi-
tion. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.
6. Moreau TP, Deeter M. (2005). Heat
strokepredictable, preventable, treat-
able. Journal-American Academy of
Physician Assistants, 18(8):30 35.
A more familiar method of determining
how hot it feels is the heat index which
factors the combination of temperature
and humidity (see Figure 1). Although
the heat index does not include the
eects of wind or radiant heat, it is a
good quantication of heat stress on the
body and is usually more readily avail-
able to the general public via the news
media (television, radio, and newspa-
Te cornerstone to treating HS is low-
ering the core temperature as rapidly
as possible (7). Chances of survival are
greatly improved if core temperature
can be lowered to under 38.9
C within
30 minutes (4). Rapid cooling can be
achieved in numerous ways including:
immersion in cold water or ice bath,
promoting evaporative heat loss (using
a fan), and the use of body cooling
suits. Other components of the acute
management stage (particularly in the
absence of medical personnel/facilities)
are calling 911, placing the person in
the supine position with feet elevated,
vigorous hydration, and maintenance of
an open airway. Excess clothing should
be removed and ice packs applied to the
neck, groin, and axillae (armpit) (3).

If the person is still outside, he or she
should be moved into the shade.
Te best defense against heat stroke and
other heat illnesses is prevention and
precaution. Te most important precau-
tion is to pay attention to heat warnings
issued by the National Weather Service
and limit or avoid exercise in danger-
ously hot conditions. Limiting direct
sun exposure is important because the
radiant heat can add up to 15
F to
the heat index (6). If exercise in the
heat is unavoidable, maintaining ade-
Joseph M. Warpeha, MA, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
Joseph M. Warpeha, MA, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D
7. Rhoades RA, Tanner GA. (2003).
Medical physiology, 2nd edition.
Baltimore: Lippincott Williams &
About the Author
Joe Warpeha is an exercise physiologist
and strength coach and is currently work-
ing on his PhD in exercise physiology at
the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis.
His current research focuses on bone and
tendon adaptations to training and the
eects of skeletal loading on their physi-
ological and mechanical properties. Joe
teaches several courses at UM including
advanced weight training and condition-
ing and measurement, evaluation, and
research in kinesiology. He has a masters
degree in exercise physiology and certica-
tions through the NSCA, ACSM, USAW,
ASEP, and YMCA. He has over 14 years of
resistance and aerobic training experience
and has been a competitive powerlifter
since 1997. Joe is a two-time national
bench press champion and holds multiple
state and national records in the bench
press while competing in the 148, 165,
and 181-pound weight classes.
Figure 1. Calculation of heat index and associated risks of heat illness.
Reprinted with permission from the Oklahoma Climatology Survey
Oklahoma Climatology Survey. (2006). Heat Index Chart. Retrieved 2/21/06, from http://okfrst.ocs.ou.edu/train/materials/Heat/humid.gif
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
Ounceof Prevention
encing an injury due to running. Tis
article will feature a lower extremity
stretching program for the endurance
running athlete.
If you experience an injury related to
running, consult with your physician.
If appropriate, you may benet from
treatment and video running analysis
performed by a sports physical therapist.
unning is a popular sport
performed by individuals of
all skill levels. Athletes who
train for endurance races (5k or more)
may be at risk for certain lower extrem-
ity overuse injuries. Running athletes
should be aware of risk factors that may
contribute to the development of an
overuse injury.
Risk Factors
Training errors such as excessive changes
in mileage or training intensity, wear-
ing improper footwear, or running on
uneven surfaces may lead to stress frac-
tures, medial tibial stress syndrome,
muscle strains, Iliotibial band syndrome
(IT Band), or tendonitis (2).
Lack of exibility may contribute to
some muscle related running injuries. In
one study, researchers found that run-
ners tend to have tighter hamstring and
soleus (calf ) muscles than non-runners

Avoidance of training errors, maintaining
or improving exibility, and increas-
ing core and lower extremity strength
may help reduce your risk of experi-
Current research recommends that you
perform your static stretching routine
at the end of a workout (1). When
stretching, ease gently into each stretch,
maintaining the hold for 30 seconds.
Holding each stretch for 30 seconds is
generally considered to be more benecial
than shorter time periods. Tis particu-
lar program does not promote the use of
ballistic (bouncing) stretching.
Lower Extremity Stretching
Program for Endurance
Jason Brumitt, MSPT, SCS, ATC, CSCS, *D
Figure 1. Hamstring Stretch
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
Te hamstrings consist of 3 muscles
arising from the posterior portion of the
pelvis with attachments to the femur and
tibia. Stretching the hamstring muscles
can be performed in many positions.
When in a supine position, place a rope
(8 ft) around your foot and pull your
leg up while keeping your knee straight.
Try to pull your toes towards your face
(Figure 1). Te hamstrings may also be
stretched while sitting. As you lean for-
ward to increase the stretch, do so from
the hip versus rounding your low back
(Figure 2).
Tis muscle originates on the pelvis
(sacrum) and attaches to the femur. Te
Piriformis is often tight and painful in
athletes with low back or hip pain. Te
Piriformis can be stretched in multiple
positions. Lay on your back with knees
bent and one leg crossed over the other
(Figure 3). Pull your top knee across the
body towards the opposite shoulder. Te
Piriformis can also be stretched by plac-
ing one foot on the opposite knee and
pushing your top knee away from the
body (Figure 4).
Hip Flexor Stretching
Te Iliacus and Psoas Major are stretched
when you perform this exercise (Figure
5). Te Iliopsoas group arises from
the spine and pelvis and attaches on the
femur. Place your knee on the ground
slightly to the rear of the body. Te
other leg is in a 90-90 position. Lean
forward with the lead leg while main-
taining proper torso posture. Performing
an abdominal brace (gentle abdominal
isometric contraction) will help you to
maintain an upright torso. You will feel
the stretch in the anterior portion of the
hip or thigh of the back leg.
your foot toward your buttock (gure
6). If you are unable to maintain your
hip and back in alignment, use a towel
or rope around the ankle to assist with
knee exion.
Te quadriceps (4 muscles) is made up
of the Rectus Femoris, Vastus Lateralis,
Vastus Medialis, and the Vastus
Intermedius. To eectively stretch this
muscle group, grab your foot, bringing
Ounceof Prevention
Jason Brumitt, MSPT, SCS, ATC, CSCS, *D
Figure 2. Sitting Hamstring Stretch
Figure 3. Piriformis Stretch
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
Te calf is made up of the deep soleus
muscle and the supercial gastrocne-
mius. Te gastrocnemius arises from the
femur while the soleus originates on the
tibia. Both muscles connect to the heel
bone (calcaneus) via the Achilles tendon.
Te classic runners stretch with the rear
leg extended stretches the gastrocnemius
(Figure 7), whereas bending the rear leg
at the knee increases the stretch on the
soleus (Figure 8). Each stretch should
be performed with shoes on and both
feet pointing forward.
Tensor Fascia Latae/ IT Band
Te IT band extends from the Tensor
Fascia Latae (TFL) muscle, running
along the lateral thigh and inserting at
the knee. To stretch the TFL stand next
to a wall and cross your outside leg over
the inside leg. Lean your hips toward the
wall making sure not to twist or arch the
back. You should feel a stretch down the
outside of your leg (Figure 9).
Te stretching program developed in
this article provides runners with a com-
prehensive exibility program for the
lower extremities (Table 1). A NSCA
certied strength and conditioning
specialist (CSCS) could provide individ-
ualized training recommendations based
upon ones exibility status.
1. Nelson AG, Kokkonen J, Arnall DA.
(2005). Acute muscle stretching inhib-
its muscle strength endurance perfor-
mance. Journal of Strength Conditioning
Research. 19(2): 338 343.
3. Wang SS, Whitney SL, Burdett RG,
Janosky JE. (1993). Lower extremity
muscular exibility in long distance run-
ners. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports
Physical Terapy. 17(2): 102 107.
2. OToole ML. (1992). Prevention
and treatment of injuries to runners.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Sep; 24(9 Suppl): S360 S363.
Ounceof Prevention
Jason Brumitt, MSPT, SCS, ATC, CSCS, *D
Figure 4. Piriformis Stretch 2
Figure 5. Hip Flexor Stretch
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
Ounceof Prevention
Jason Brumitt, MSPT, SCS, ATC, CSCS, *D
About the Author
Jason Brumitt is a board-certied sports
physical therapist employed by Willamette
Falls Hospital in Oregon City, OR. His cli-
entele include both orthopedic and sports
injury patients. He also serves as adjunct
faculty for Pacic Universitys physical
therapy program. To contact the author
email him at jbrumitt72@hotmail.com.

Figure 6. Quadriceps Stretch
Table 1.
Stretching Program
Perform after running. Perform each stretch on
each leg
Soleus 2 x 30 seconds
Gastrocnemius 2 x 30 seconds
Quad Stretch 2 x 30 seconds
Hip Flexor Stretch 2 x 30 seconds
Piriformis 2 x 30 seconds
TFL 2 x 30 seconds
Hamstring 2 x 30 seconds
Figure 7. Gastrocnemius Stretch
Figure 8. Soleus Stretch Figure 9. TFL Stretch
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
Conditioning Fundamentals
ll children need to participate
regularly in physical activities
that enhance and maintain
cardiovascular and musculoskeletal
health. Traditionally, children have been
encouraged to perform aerobic activities
such as bicycling and strength build-
ing activities such as push-ups. More
recently, the potential benets of plyo-
metric training for youth have received
increased attention (2,3,4). Previously
thought of as a method of condition-
ing reserved for adult athletes, a grow-
ing number of trainers, teachers, and
youth coaches are now incorporating
plyometric training into their physical
education classes and sport conditioning
Plyometrics were rst known simply
as jump training and refer to a type
of exercise that conditions the body
through dynamic, resistance exercise (1).
Plyometric training typically includes
hops, jumps, and medicine ball exer-
cises that exploit the muscles cycle of
lengthening and shortening to increase
muscle power. Plyometric exercises start
with a rapid stretch of a muscle (called
an eccentric muscle action) and are
If this window of opportunity is missed,
a child who does not participate in this
type of activity may not be able to catch
up later on in life. In the long run, this
child will be at a distinct disadvantage
when the time comes to participate in
more advanced training programs later
in life. Perhaps it is not surprisingly to
note that the best athletes in the world
learn how to perform complex skills
during childhood and adolescence.
Myths That Wont Quit
While clinical observations and research
ndings indicate that well-planned and
well-implemented plyometric training
programs can help youth develop move-
ment competence (2,4), some observers
still believe that plyometrics are inap-
propriate or even unsafe for children.
Unfortunately, some have a very narrow
view of plyometric training and only
associate drop jumps from a 32 inch box
as plyometric. While this high inten-
sity drill may be appropriate for highly
trained adult athletes, there are literally
hundreds of other plyometrics exercises,
including low intensity double leg hops
and throws with lightweight (1 to 2 kg)
medicine balls, which can be part of
followed by a rapid shortening of the
same muscle (called a concentric muscle
action). Te rapid stretching and short-
ening of a muscle during a plyometric
exercise is referred to as a stretch-short-
ening cycle. Even common playground
activities such as jumping jacks and hop
scotch can be considered plyometric
because the quadriceps at the front of
the thigh stretch eccentrically when the
child lands and then they shorten con-
centrically when the child jumps. Tese
exercises, although game-like in nature,
actually condition the body to increase
speed of movement and improve power
Childhood may actually be the ideal time
to implement some type of plyometric
training program because the neuromus-
cular system of children is somewhat
plastic and can therefore readily adapt
to the training stress. Although adults
can certainly benet from plyometric
training, the so-called skill-hungry
years for learning motor skills occur
during childhood. As such, the nervous
system of children is primed to learn
motor skills that involve jumping, hop-
ping, skipping, running, and throwing.
Plyometrics for Kids:
Facts and Fallacies
Avery D. Faigenbaum, EdD, CSCS
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
a childs plyometric training program.
Other common myths associated with
youth plyometric training are discussed
Myth: Youth who have not reached puber-
ty should not perform plyometrics.
Fact: Children can begin plyometric
training when they have the emotional
maturity to accept and follow directions.
As a point of reference, many seven and
eight year old boys and girls have partici-
pated in progressive plyometric training
programs over the years.
Myth: Children will experience bone
growth plate damage as a result of plyo-
metric training.
oer observable health and tness value
to most participants.
Program Design
Plyometric training is a specialized
method of conditioning that requires
appropriate overload, gradual progres-
sion, and adequate recovery between
exercise sessions. Moreover, plyometric
programs should include proper coach-
ing, a safe training environment, and
a slow but steady advancement from
education to progression to function.
Since the performance of a plyometric
exercise is a learned skill, proper instruc-
tion is needed to ensure continuation of
correct exercise technique. Instructors
should be careful to match the plyo-
metric training program to the needs,
interests, and abilities of each child. An
advanced plyometric training program
for a young athlete would be inappro-
priate for an inactive child who should
be given an opportunity to experience
the mere enjoyment of dierent types of
hopping, jumping, and throwing exer-
cises. One of the most serious mistakes
in designing a youth plyometric train-
ing program is to prescribe a training
intensity that exceeds a childs capacity.
In short, it is always better to underes-
timate the physical abilities of a child
rather than overestimate them and risk
negative consequences (e.g., dropout or
Tere are literally hundreds of plyomet-
ric exercises that children can perform
depending on training experience and
ability. Children should begin with low
intensity drills (e.g., double leg jump or
medicine ball chest pass) and gradually
progress to higher intensity drills (e.g.,
lateral cone hop or single leg hop) over
Fact: A growth plate fracture has not
been reported in any prospective youth
resistance training research study which
was competently supervised and appro-
priately designed. Interestingly, some cli-
nicians believe that the risk of a growth
plate fracture in a prepubescent child
is actually less than in an older child
because the growth plates of younger
children may be stronger and more resis-
tant to shearing-type forces (5).
Myth: Plyometric training is unsafe for
Fact: With appropriate supervision and
a sensible progression of training inten-
sity and volume, the risks associated with
plyometric training are not greater than
other activities in which children regu-
larly participate. Te key is to start with
a few simple exercises, provide qualied
supervision, perform these drills twice
per week on nonconsecutive days, and
gradually progressive as condence and
ability improve. Tis is especially impor-
tant for sedentary children who typically
have suboptimal levels of strength and
Myth: Plyometric training is only for
young athletes.
Fact: Children of all abilities can benet
from plyometric training. While plyo-
metric exercises can be used to enhance
athletic performance and reduce the risk
of sports-related injuries, regular par-
ticipation in a plyometric program can
enhance the tness abilities of sedentary
boys and girls too. At a time when a
growing number of children spend more
time in front of the television than at the
playground, participation in a progres-
sive plyometric training program can
Figure 1. Double Leg Cone Hop
Conditioning Fundamentals
Plyometrics for Kids: Facts and Fallacies
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
time. In addition to body weight move-
ments, exercises using medicine balls
can also be eective. In terms of sets
and repetitions, beginning with one to
two sets of six to 10 repetitions on a
variety of upper and lower body exer-
cises twice per week on non-consecu-
tive days seems reasonable. If multiple
sets are performed, children should be
allowed to recover between sets in order
to replenish the energy necessary to
perform the next series of repetitions at
the same intensity. Unlike traditional
strength exercises, plyometric exercises
need to be performed quickly and explo-
sively. Te table highlights general youth
plyometric training guidelines.
Since plyometrics are not designed to
be a stand-alone program, youth con-
ditioning programs should include a
variety of skills and drills that are spe-
cically designed to enhance dierent
tness components. In fact, plyometrics
actually work best when integrated into
a multi-faceted program that includes
other types of training (2). Furthermore,
it is important for children to be exposed
to dierent types of conditioning and
actually understand the concept of a t-
ness workout. Combining tness com-
ponents is not only more eective and
time e cient, but this type of training
is more fun for young participants who
tend to dislike prolonged periods of
monotonous training. While there are
no short cuts or gimmicks to enhancing
strength, speed, and power, with guid-
ance and encouragement children will
gain condence in their abilities to per-
form relatively easy drills and therefore
they will be more willing and able to
perform at a higher level.
3. Faigenbaum A, Chu, D. (2001).
Plyometric training for children and
adolescent. ACSM Current Comment.
4, Hewett T, Myer G, Ford K. (2005).
Reducing knee and anterior cruciate
ligament injuries among female ath-
letes. Journal of Knee Surgery, 18(1): 82
A growing number of children are now
experiencing the benets of plyomet-
ric training. In addition to enhanc-
ing fundamental tness abilities and
improving sports performance, regular
participation in a well-designed plyo-
metric training program may also reduce
the risk of injury in youth sports (2,4).
Whats more, plyometric training dur-
ing childhood may build the founda-
tion for dramatic gains in muscular
strength and power during adulthood.
With appropriate guidance and progres-
sion, plyometrics can be a worthwhile
additional to a well-rounded youth t-
ness programs that also includes aerobic,
strength, and exibility training.
1. Chu D. (1998). Jumping into
Plyometrics, 2nd ed. Champaign: Human
2. Chu D, Faigenbaum A, Falkel, J.
(2006). Progressive Plyometric Training
for Kids. Monterey: Healthy Learning.
Conditioning Fundamentals
Plyometrics for Kids: Facts and Fallacies
Youth Plyometric Training Guidelines
Provide qualied instruction and supervision
Wear sneakers with tied laces and train on a nonskid surface
Begin each session with a dynamic warm-up
Start with one set of 6 to 10 repetitions on low intensity exercises
Develop proper technique on each exercise before progressing to more
advanced drills
Include exercises for the upper and lower body
Progress to 2 or 3 sets of 6 to 10 repetitions depending on needs, goals,
and abilities
Allow for adequate recovery between sets and exercises
Perform plyometric exercises twice per week on nonconsecutive days
Keep the program fresh and challenging by systematically varying the
training program.
Figure 2. Medicine Ball Chest Press
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
5. Micheli L. (1988). Strength training
in the young athlete. In E. Brown &
C. Branta (Eds.), Competitive Sports
for Children and Youth (pp. 99 105).
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
About the Author
Avery Faigenbaum, EdD, CSCS, is an
Associate Professor in the Department of
Health and Exercise Science at Te College
of New Jersey. Dr. Faigenbaum is a leading
researcher and practitioner in the area of
youth tness and has authored ve books
and over 100 articles on youth strength
and conditioning. To contact the author,
email him at faigenba@tcnj.edu.
Conditioning Fundamentals
Plyometrics for Kids: Facts and Fallacies
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
use of this term (or similar terms such as
veried or certied) does not guar-
antee product quality or consistency.
On the other hand, if the FDA nds
a supplement to be unsafe once it is
on the market, only then can it take
action against the manufacturer and/or
distributor, such as by issuing a warning
or requiring the product to be removed
from the marketplace, as was the case
with coral calcium (often sold on late
night infomercials) and ephedra (which
was later reintroduced into the market).
Te Federal Government also regulates
supplement advertising, through the
Federal Trade Commission. It requires
that all information about supplements
be truthful and not mislead consumers.
As far as e cacy, unless the product is
covered by an approved FDA health
claim (such as calcium and osteoporosis
or ber and heart disease), to promote
its product, the manufacturer can say
that the product addresses a nutrient
deciency, supports health, or reduces
the risk of developing a health problem.
On the other hand, if the manufacturer
ccording to the National
Health Interview Survey,
Americans continue to take
dietary supplements at an increasing
rate, with 33.9% of US adults using a
vitamin and mineral supplement in the
past 12 months, up from 23.2% in 1987
and 23.7% in 1992 (5). According to
other research, 59% of elite athletes and
43% of college athletes, take supple-
ments. Multivitamins are the most fre-
quent type of nutritional supplements,
followed by vitamin C, iron, B-com-
plex vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, and
vitamin A (4). Many consumers report
using dietary supplements as insurance
for an inadequate diet, but also to pre-
vent or treat disease, increase energy
levels, or reduce the risk for infectious
illnesses (5).
With such high usage, one must gure
that the industry is a highly regulated
and safe market. Unfortunately, this is
not the case. Currently, the FDA regu-
lates supplements as foods rather than
drugs. In general, the laws about putting
foods (including supplements) on the
market and keeping them on the market
are less strict than the laws for drugs.
Many athletes are surprised to nd
out that manufacturers are not required
to prove a supplements safety or e -
cacy before the supplement is marketed.
Currently, the FDA does not analyze
the content of dietary supplements (see
below). At this time, supplement manu-
facturers must meet the requirements
of the FDAs Good Manufacturing
Practices (GMPs) for foods. GMPs
describe conditions under which prod-
ucts must be prepared, packed, and
stored. While food GMPs do not always
cover all issues of supplement quality,
some manufacturers voluntarily follow
the FDAs GMPs for drugs, which are
stricter. In addition, some manufac-
turers use the term standardized to
describe eorts to make their products
consistent. However, U.S. law does not
dene standardization. Terefore, the
Debra Wein, MS, RD, LDN, NSCA-CPT,*D
Whats in the Bottle Does Not Always Match Whats on the Label
A supplement might:
Not contain the correct ingredient (plant species). For example,
one study that analyzed 59 preparations of echinacea found that
about half did not contain the species listed on the label (1).
Contain higher or lower amounts of the active ingredient. For
example, an NCCAM-funded study of ginseng products found
that most contained less than half the amount of ginseng listed
on their labels

Be contaminated.
Source: National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (3)
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
does make a claim not approved by the
FDA, it must be followed by a state-
ment such as: Tis statement has not
been evaluated by the Food and Drug
Administration. Tis product is not
intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or pre-
vent any disease.
Choose sensibly. Supplements are meant
to do just thatto contribute to an
already healthy and well balanced eat-
ing plannot to make up for a poor
diet, Go to www.eatright.org to nd a
Registered Dietitian (RD) who can help
you choose supplements appropriate for
your performance and health goals.
1. Gilroy CM, Steiner JF, Byers T, Shapiro
H, Georgian W. (2003). Echinacea and
truth in labeling. Archives of Internal
Medicine, 163(6):699 704.
2. Harkey MR, Henderson GL,
Gershwin ME, Stern JS, Hackman RM.
(2001). Variability in commercial gin-
seng products: an analysis of 25 prepa-
rations. American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition, 73(6):1101 1106.
3. NCCAM. (2003). Whats in the
Bottle? An Introduction to Dietary
Supplements. Retrieved February 17,
2005, from http://nccam.nih.gov/
4. Sobal J, Marquart LF. (1994).
Vitamins/mineral supplement use
among athletes: A review of the lit-
erature. International Journal of Sports
Nutrition, 4(4):320 334.
5. Tomson CA. (2005). Dietary supple-
ments, Journal of the American Dietetic
Association, 102(3):460 470.
About the Author
Debra Wein, MS, RD, LDN, NSCA-
CPT,*D is on the faculty at Te University
of Massachusetts Boston and Simmons
College and is the President of Te Sensible
Nutrition Connection, Inc. (www.sensible-
nutrition.com). Debra has worked with
athletes and/or coaches of the United States
of America Track and Field Association,
National Hockey League, Boston Ballet
as well as numerous marathon training
Debra Wein, MS, RD, LDN, NSCA-CPT,*D
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
Conditioning Fundamentals
here are many articles,
books, and videos on speed
and agility training. Many
of these resources overlook an extremely
important link in an athletes speed and
agility training; the ability to take the
rst few steps explosively.
Te ability to take the rst few steps
explosively is extremely important.
Tere are three major reasons for this.
First, the more explosively an athlete
can take the rst few steps, the better
potential he/she has to arrive somewhere
faster. Second, taking the rst few steps
explosively allows an athlete to get a step
on an opponent who is unable to take
the rst few steps as explosively. Finally,
in most cases an athlete only has a few
steps. With the exception of track events,
it is rare that an athlete can continuously
accelerate in a straight line for a hundred
meters. In most sports athletes are able
to accelerate over a short distance, then
they must stop or change directions.
Tis article is going to briey discuss the
factors that inuence the rst few steps,
it will cover technique on an explosive
start, progressions to learn the rst step,
provide several training tools, and will
ground. Maximal strength can be trained
through multi-joint strength training
exercises such as squats, Romanian dead-
lifts, and deadlifts.
Maximal strength is important, but it
also needs to be expressed quickly. Power
in conjunction with taking the rst
few steps explosively is trained through
plyometrics and variations of the clean,
snatch, and jerk.
When discussing proper technique for
the rst few steps, we should break this
down into two parts; the start and the
The Start
Begin in the ready position. Feet are hip
width apart, weight is balanced over the
balls of the feet, the hips are pushed back
so that the center of gravity is low, and
the hands are held up to react to unex-
pected situations.
When the sprint begins, drive the pre-
ferred knee forward explosively (in this
article it will be the left knee). As the left
knee is driven forward the left arm will
be driven backwards, being swung from
conclude with a sample workout pro-
gram for dierent levels of ability.
Factors that infuence
A number of factors inuence the abil-
ity to take the rst few steps explosively.
Tese include proper starting and accel-
erating technique, ability to accelerate,
maximal strength, power, and reaction
time. All of these factors can be trained.
Technique always limits speed. Proper
technique will allow one to move explo-
sively, move his or her limbs quickly, and
prevent injuries cause by poor technique.
Technique is trainable through technical
drills that break down the entire move-
ment into its components and should
also be reinforced while sprinting.
Te rst few steps in a sprint involve
increasing velocity, which is called accel-
eration. Tis is trained through short
sprints (generally up to 20 yards) and
various acceleration training drills such
as stick drills, resisted starts, etc.
Maximal strength is important for over-
coming inertia at the start and for exert-
ing a large amount of force against the
Taking the First Few Steps
Explosively: Te Missing Link
John M. Cissik, MS, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
the shoulder. As the knee is being driven
forward, dorsiex (top of the foot up)
the left ankle so that it is approximately
at a 90 degree angle. Te combination
of these movements will cause a forward
lean, forming an angle with the ground.
It is important to stay low to the ground
during the rst few steps. Te left foot
will strike the ground close to the hips
and will make a pushing motion against
the ground (stay o the heel during
these sprints). Te pushing motion will
propel the body forward.
The Sprint
When leaving the start, focus on driv-
ing each knee forward, driving each arm
backwards (swinging from the shoul-
der), keeping the ankles dorsiexed, and
staying o the heels. Athletes should be
executing a pushing motion while they
are sprinting forward on the rst few
An extremely common error with short
sprints is to stand up too soon. When
this happens, athletes typically stand
straight up at the start and then attempt
to run forward with a pulling or paw-
ing motion. In a short sprint, this is a
bad idea for two reasons. First, pulling
or pawing too quickly will diminish the
athletes ability to accelerate. Second, if
the athlete is in a contact sport, stand-
ing up too soon (i.e. before contact) will
cause them to loose their balance when
they make contact with another athlete.
Learning technique
Starting and accelerating are both com-
plex skills that are not inherently known,
however they can both be learned. Tis
section will be divided into the same two
phases that were covered above.
The Start
Tere are three progressions that can be
used to learn explosive starts.
1. Falling starts: Face the direction of
the sprint. Feet should be no more
than hip width apart. Line the
toes of one foot up with the start
line. Te other foot will be placed
behind the front foot, so that the
toes of the back foot line up with
the heel of the front foot. Push the
hips back so that the body leans
forward and ex the knees slightly.
Te arms should hang down. From
this position gradually lift the hips
up, forcing the center of gravity
forward. As this happens you will
begin to fall forward. A natural
braking of the fall will occur by
stepping forward with the back
foot and driving the proper arm
backwards this should be the
beginning of the sprint. In other
words, you will fall into the sprint
with this drill.
2. Standing starts: Take the same
starting position described in the
falling starts. However, instead of
falling into the sprint, it will be the
deliberate motion described in the
technique section above (i.e. drive
the back knee forward, etc).
3. Crouching starts: Assume the same
foot position as described in the
falling starts drill. Te hips will
still be pushed back. In this drill,
the knees will be exed until you
are able to touch the ground with
both hands. Te arms will be kept
straight with the shoulders directly
in line with the hands. From this
position, begin the sprint by driv-
ing the back knee forward while
driving the proper arm backwards.

Figure 1. Arm Swing Drill
Conditioning Fundamentals
Taking the First Few Steps Explosively
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
The Sprint
Tere are three categories of drills that
can be used to enhance acceleration
1. Arm swing drills (Figure 1): Arm
swing drills can be performed sit-
ting, standing, walking, or jogging.
Generally they are only benecial
for the rst one or two training ses-
sions. After that they should only
be used to correct errors. Tese
drills begin with one hand next
to the hip and one in front of the
shoulders. Both elbows should be
exed. When the drill begins, focus
on driving the hand in front of the
shoulder backwards towards the
hip. Focus on swinging the arm
from the shoulder. If the arm is
driven backwards properly then it
will move forward as a result of the
stretch reex at the shoulder and
chest, in other words, you should
not have to think about swinging
the arms forward.
2. Ankling drills (Figures 2 and 3):
Tese are performed as a walk or as
a bound. Ankling drills teach how
the foot should contact the ground
during sprinting. To perform this
drill, keep the legs straight and
move from the hips. As the hips
move forward, the back foot will
break contact with the ground.
As this happens the ankle should
be dorsiexed and should be kept
rigid. Te leg should be swung for-
ward from the hips so that the ball
of the foot lands on the ground in
front of the center of gravity.
3. High knee drills (Figure 4): Tese
can be performed as a walk, a skip,
or can be made more complicated
by combining them with move-
ments such as lunges. Tis teaches
the knee action during the sprint
and reinforces the correct position-
ing of the foot. Perform this drill
for the desired distance by focusing
on staying tall, lifting each knee in
front of the body until it is roughly
the height of the hip, and keeping
the ankle dorsiexed throughout
the drill. Remember to contact the
ground with the ball of the foot
placed slightly in front of the cen-
ter of gravity.
Training tools
A number of training tools can be used
to enhance the ability to take the rst
few steps explosively.
1. Starts: Performing sprints of up to
20 yards from a variety of starting
positions will enhance the ability
to start explosively and accelerate.
Starts can be performed from any
of the positions already described
Figure 2. Ankling Drill 1
Figure 3. Ankling Drill 2
Conditioning Fundamentals
Taking the First Few Steps Explosively
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
in this article. In addition, other
positions can be used to train
starts, forcing more information
to be processed. Some examples
include performing starts with the
back to the course, from a shu e
(i.e. shu e, turn, sprint), from a
backpedal (i.e. backpedal, turn,
sprint), from the push-up position,
Starts can also be done in a resisted
fashion. In theory, more muscle
bers must be recruited during a
resisted explosive start and short
sprint, and this could transfer over
to sprints performed without resis-
tance. Resistance can be something
that weighs the athlete down (for
example, a sled, a tire, another
athlete, etc.) or could be a coach
or another athlete standing in
front of the sprinter and providing
resistance. It is very important that
good technique be emphasized and
required during resisted starts.
2. Stride length: Stride length drills
can help teach how to increase
stride length over the rst few steps
of the sprint. Generally miniature
hurdles or acceleration ladders are
used to train this. Tese are set
up so that each successive obstacle
is further away than the previous
obstacle. For example, six hurdles
may be set up so that they are: 18,
24, 30, 36, 42, and 48 apart.
3. Plyometrics: Plyometrics are impor-
tant for emphasizing the explosive
nature of the start. Appropriate
plyometrics include forward jumps
such as the standing long jump,
straight leg bounds, high knee
skips, and bounds.
4. Strength training: For starting
and accelerating, strength training
should focus on multi-joint lower-
body and total-body exercises. Core
training should also be performed
to help maintain good posture dur-
ing sprinting.
5. Combining tools: Tools can be
combined to save time and to
amplify their eects. For example,
plyometric and strength training
exercises can be combined.
Te rest of this article will present a
sample program for developing explo-
siveness over the rst several steps. Tree
levels will be presented; beginner, inter-
mediate, and advanced. Te exercises
become more complex, volume is added,
and the di culty of the program chang-
es between each level.
Being able to take the rst few steps
explosively is an important skill for most
athletes. Tis can be trained successfully
through the use of learning progres-
sion and by focusing on training tools
designed to enhance this quality. Taking
the time to address technique, accelera-
tion, maximum strength, and power can
help prevent injuries, keep the workouts
eective, and help to make the athlete a
more explosive one over short distances.
About the Author
John M. Cissik is the Director of Fitness and
Recreation at Texas Womans University.
John also operates a business, Fitness and
Conditioning Enterprises, that provides
speed and agility instruction primarily
to young athletes. John also consults with
track and eld teams regarding strength
training and track and eld.
Conditioning Fundamentals
Taking the First Few Steps Explosively
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
Beginner Program
Day One
Dynamic fexibility exercises, 10 15 minutes
Arm swing drills (seated, walking, jogging), 1 x 30 each
Ankling, 2 x 20 yards
High knee walk, 2 x 20 yards
High knee skip, 2 x 20 yards
Falling starts, 3 x 5 yards
Standing starts, 3 x 20 yards
Hang power clean from above the knee position, 3 x 3
Back squats, 3 x 8 12
Romanian deadlifts, 3 x 8 12
Core, 10 15 minutes
Day Two
Dynamic fexibility exercises, 10 15 minutes
Ankling, 3 x 20 yards
High knee walk, 3 x 20 yards
High knee skip, 3 x 20 yards
Stick drill from a falling start, 3 x 8 sticks
Standing starts, 3 x 20 yards
Standing long jump, 3 x 5, maximum efort
Push Jerk, 3 x 3
Hang clean pulls from above the knee position, 3 x 4
Lunges, 3 x 8 12 each leg
Good mornings, standing, 3 x 8 12
Core, 10 15 minutes
Figure 4. High Knee Drill
Conditioning Fundamentals
Taking the First Few Steps Explosively
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
Conditioning Fundamentals
Taking the First Few Steps Explosively
Intermediate Program
Day One
Dynamic fexibility exercises,
10 15 minutes
Ankling, 3 x 20 yards
Straight leg bounds, 3 x 20 yards
High knee walk, 1 x 20 yards
High knee skip, 3 x 20 yards
Stick drill from a falling start, 3 x 8 sticks
Standing starts, 4 x 20 yards
Crouching starts, 5 x 20 yards
Hang power clean from the knee position
+ Push Jerk, 3 x 3+2
Back squats, 3 x 8 12
Lunges, 3 x 8 12 each leg
Romanian deadlifts, 3 x 8 12
Core, 10 15 minutes
Day Two
Dynamic fexibility exercises,
10 15 minutes
Ankling, 3 x 20 yards
Straight leg bounds, 3 x 20 yards
High knee walk, 1 x 20 yards
High knee skip, 3 x 20 yards
Stride Length Drill, 20 yard sprint + mini
hurdles placed at 65%, 70%, 75%,
80%, 85%, 90% of optimal stride lengths,
Standing long jump, 5 x 5 (maximum efort)
Standing long jump + 5 yard sprint, 5x
Vertical jump + 5 yard sprint, 5x
Day Three
Dynamic fexibility exercises,
10 15 minutes
Ankling, 3 x 20 yards
Straight leg bounds, 3 x 20 yards
High knee walk, 1 x 20 yards
High knee skip, 3 x 20 yards
Stick drill from a falling start, 3 x 8 sticks
Resisted standing starts, 5 x 20 yards
Starts, back to course, 3 x 20 yards
Starts, push-up position, 3 x 20 yards
Starts, shuf e + turn and sprint, 3 x 5 yards
(each direction)
Hang power snatch from above the
knee position, 3 x 3
Front squats, 3 x 6 10
Back raises, 3 x 8 12
Core, 10 15 minutes
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
Conditioning Fundamentals
Taking the First Few Steps Explosively
Advanced Program
Day One
Dynamic fexibility exercises,
10 15 minutes
Core training, 10 15 minutes
Back squats, 3 x 2 4
Partial deadlifts (knee height), 3 x 2 4
Romanian deadlifts, 3 x 4 6
Day Two
Dynamic fexibility exercises,
10 15 minutes
Ankling, 3 x 20 yards
Straight leg bounds, 3 x 20 yards
High knee walk, 1 x 20 yards
High knee skip, 3 x 20 yards
Stick drill from a falling start, 3 x 8 sticks
Power snatch + vertical jump + sprint,
3 x 3+1+5 yards
Split jerk + crouching start, 5 x 3+5 yards
Standing long jump + sprint,
3 x 1+10 yards
Behind back medicine ball toss + turn and
sprint, 3 x 1+10 yards
Day Three
Dynamic fexibility exercises,
10 15 minutes
Ankling, 3 x 20 yards
Straight leg bounds, 3 x 20 yards
High knee walk + grab knee and hold,
3 x 20 yards
High knee skip, 3 x 20 yards
Stride Length Drill, 20 yard sprint + mini
hurdles placed at 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%,
85%, 90% of optimal stride lengths, 3x
Day Four
Dynamic fexibility exercises,
10 15 minutes
Ankling, 3 x 20 yards
Straight leg bounds, 3 x 20 yards
High knee walk, 1 x 20 yards
High knee skip, 3 x 20 yards
Stick drill from a falling start, 3 x 8 sticks
Sport-specifc starts, 3 x 5 x 20 yards
Down and back agility drill, 3 5 x 25 yards
Box reactive agility drill, 3 5 x 10 seconds
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
What is success in practice?
In competition, success is about achiev-
ing your goal. Success may be winning
the race, setting a personal record, or
executing a specic task correctly. If
you are like most athletes, you know
exactly what you want to accomplish
in competition, and you see success
as achieving that goal. Practice should
be no dierent. Success in practice is
about achieving practice goals. If you
do not set goals for each practice, you
are not alone, but need to recognize
that daily goal setting is a necessary
rst step towards setting yourself up for
success in practice. You should have a
goal for every practice something you
want to accomplish. Even on those days
when you wish you were anywhere but
in practice, it is important to be able
to take something, however little it
may be, away from your training. As a
rst step, before every practice session,
ask yourself (and answer) the question
what am I going to work on today to
make myself better? Te answer to this
question, whether it is doing 30 minutes
of cardio, working on specic elements
of technique, or maintaining a positive
attitude, is your goal. Achievement of
this goal helps set the stage for practice
ou have heard the phrase
there are no guarantees in
life. Maybe you have heard
this when looking for some assurance
that the used car you just bought will
not break down, that you will do well
on an exam, or that your ight will be
on time so you can make your connect-
ing ight. While we plan for the best, it
is true that there are no guarantees. Te
same holds true in sport. Athletic success
is far too complex and multifaceted for
someone to be able to guarantee success
by following a simple set of guidelines.
Tere is always a chance that things will
not work out the way you would like
them to.
With that said, do not lose hope.
Fortunately, there are things you can
do to set yourself up for success and
increase your probability of success. In
this article, we are going to discuss
how to set the stage for success in prac-
tice. (A follow-up article in the next
NSCAs Performance Training Journal
will address strategies you can use to
increase the probability of success in
competition.) While we will obviously
focus on the mental aspects of training,
bear in mind that setting yourself up
for success also involves controlling
other aspects of performance such as
physical training, technical training, and
nutrition, to name a few.
Analyze Your Past
Whether you realize it or not, you
know better than anyone else what does
and does not work in regard to having
quality practice success. Take a minute
to identify strategies that seem to have
produced successful practices for you
in the past. Identify two to three things
you have found through experience that
you need to do to get the most out of
a given practice session. In doing so,
reect on your tendencies. For many
athletes, a pattern often exists in terms
of factors that have the greatest inuence
on success. For some, it may be having
the right energy level, whereas for oth-
ers going in with a positive attitude has
a critical inuence on practice. What
tends to get in your way when you have
a poor practice? What tends to help
If you are unable to identify any trends,
start the process of guring it out now.
Keep a practice journal and log informa-
tion about your practices that you think
could inuence your performance and
help (or hinder) you reach your practice
goals. How were you feeling during
the practice? What were you thinking
about? What did you eat and drink
before and during the practice? Did you
have an argument with your boyfriend
or girlfriend? How was your sleep? Start
Set Yourself Up For Success
In Practice
Suzie Tuey Riewald, PhD, NSCA-CPT,*D
Suzie Tuffey Riewald, PhD, NSCA-CPT,*D
NSCAs Performance Training Journal | www.nsca-lift.org/perform Vol. 5 No. 2 | Page
logging this stu now and when you
look back over your records in a month
you will see the trends start to emerge.
Keep Baggage in Your
It is important to realize that you are
more that just an athlete. You may be
a student, a husband or wife, a brother
or sister, a friend, or simply a person
going through the ups and downs of life.
Tis means you have things going on
in your life besides your sport. You are
undoubtedly well aware of this as you
struggle to balance the various stresses
and responsibilities in your life and still
get something out of your training. But
how many times do negative thoughts
from other areas of your life encroach
on your practice? You can set yourself
up for practice success by leaving these
distracting thoughts away from the prac-
tice environment. Instead, keep this
baggage in your locker to be picked
up after practice. As you are putting on
your practice uniform or workout gear,
imagine you are putting on armor that
blocks all these negative thoughts and
allow you to focus on the task at hand.
Only when you take o the armor at
the end of the practice will your mind
be allowed to once again dwell on the
distractions from o the practice eld.
During practice, commit to physically
and mentally being an athlete and only
an athlete.
Control What You Say to
You are the worst; I cant believe you
missed that lift.
Let it go. Focus on your breathing.
In reading these two self-talk statements,
you surely know which one is more
benecial to your performance versus
which would be more damaging. Being
overly negative, critical or unrealisti-
cally demanding can have a huge impact
on your practice performance. To set
yourself up for success in practice, it
is important to monitor and control
what you say to yourself. To do so, rst
become aware of how you tend to talk
to yourself. Ten, commit to being
your own best friend. Tat is, talk to
yourself about what you can do and will
do instead of what you ca not do or did
Practice, practice, and practice some
more, after all perfect practice makes
perfect competition. As an athlete, you
spend an inordinate amount of time in
training, so make sure this perfect prac-
tice extends to your mental preparation
and goal setting. Make the most of this
time by taking steps to set yourself up
for practice success.
About the Author
Suzie Tuey Riewald, PhD, NSCA-
CPT,*D, received her degrees in Sport
Psychology/Exercise Science from the
University of North Carolina Greensboro.
She has worked for USA Swimming as
the Sport Psychology and Sport Science
Director, and most recently as the Associate
Director of Coaching with the USOC where
she worked with various sport national
governing bodies (NGBs) to develop and
enhance coaching education and training.
Suzie currently works as a sport psychology
consultant to several NGBs.
Suzie Tuffey Riewald, PhD, NSCA-CPT,*D