In the fitness world many individuals are under the false assumption that designing a program for an athlete is as simple as choosing different exercises and writing them down on paper. However, when designing a program the strength and conditioning professional must consider multiple variables while attempting to design an appropriate resistance training program that meets the needs of the athlete. The resistance training program must be specific to the athlete’s sport, individualized to meet the athlete’s needs, allow for long term progression, and gives the athlete an opportunity for athletic success. The variables that must be considered are: needs analysis of sport, exercise selection, training frequency, exercise order, training loads/repetitions, volume, and lastly rest periods.
7 Things to Consider When Designing a BJJ Strength and Conditioning Plan
1. Needs Analysis (NAS): This is where the strength and conditioning professional must determine the specific physiological requirements of the athlete’s sport (specific muscle groups, muscle actions, athlete’s strength & weaknesses). As well as perform an assessment of the athlete. This provides baseline information like family health history, personal health/injuries history, and baseline fitness scores (muscular endurance, strength, power, aerobic/anaerobic fitness).
2. Exercise Selection: Involves selecting specific exercises for the program. The strength and conditioning coach must consider the effect that these exercise have on the athlete, muscular requirement of the sport, equipment available to the athlete, and the athlete’s proficiency in the selected exercises.
Traditionally the workout will include:
- Core Exercise: Utilizes large musculature (e.g. quads, hamstrings, glutes) and is a multi-joint exercise (e.g. hang clean, back squat, bench press). These exercise are typically at the top of the priority list when implementing them into the athletes program.
- Assistance Exercise: Recruits smaller muscles (e.g. calves, abdominals, biceps) and are only single-joint exercise (e.g. bicep curl, delt raises, leg curls). These exercises are used for injure prevention, or as supplemental exercises to the main lift.
- Sport Specific Exercise: The specificity principle states that the more similar the exercise is to the movements in the athlete’s sport then the more likely it will transfer over.
3. Training Frequency: The number of training sessions an athlete will complete in a week and is dependent on training status of the athlete, training goals, recoverability, training schedule, and training loads: volume, repetitions/sets, and intensity.
4. Exercise Order: Is the order in which the selected resistance exercises are performed in one training session. There are many different was one can organize the exercises but typically power/core exercises like the hang clean, snatch, split jerk, etc. have priority. Followed by other non-power core exercises (e.g. back squat, bench press, overhead press), and assistance exercises. Other ways to organize the exercises are alternating upper and lower body exercises (e.g. deadlift and pullups) or alternating “push” and “pull” exercises (e.g. bench press and bent over rows).
5. Training Loads: Is a mixture of repetitions and weight lifted. There is an inverse relationship between the load and max number of repetitions executed. This is usually prescribed as a percentage % of 1-rep max.
6. Volume: The total amount of weight lifted in a training session. This can be altered by changing the number of exercises, reps, sets, weight.
- Volume = number of Sets x Repetitions x Resistance (weight)
*increasing metabolic and hormonal responses are associated with high training volume
7. Rest Periods: The time that is prescribed for recovery in-between sets and exercises. The duration of the rest period depends on the desired goal of training, weight lifted, and the athletes conditioning. If the athlete is not in good shape than the rest periods may need to be longer in the beginning of the program.
Rest Period Duration based on Training Goals
- Power: 2-5 minutes
- Strength: 2-5 minutes
- Hypertrophy: 30 seconds-1.5 minutes
- Muscular Endurance: < 30 seconds
*This information is in accordance with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. NSCA-Essential of Strength and Conditioning 3rd edition ch. 15.
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