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Concurrent Training For HS Athletes

The nature of youth and high school sport is changing. For the last decade or so, year round, single sport athletics has become the standard. The more I talk with young athletes, the fewer I encounter who play multiple sports and are practicing or competing year round. This creates a challenge for athletes who are seeking to train and improve performance while dealing with club coaches who expect top performance out of them year round.

I've detailed how I use a simple full body training approach for my athletes in the past, but I wanted to detail how I've been modifying it to work around club-season and school season schedules to help my athletes perform year round. To refresh or give a simple overview, we break down movements into four main categories: Squat, Push, Hinge, Pull/Row. We alternate the order of these within subsequent workouts to prioritize them in a different way. Essentially, whatever is at the top of the order gets moved to the bottom of the order in the next workout, whatever was second becomes first, third to second, etc.


Now, if I have a full off-season with an athlete most of those training processes will be the same. I often use a Triphasic Training Periodization across 6-8 weeks to increase strength and power outputs for those individuals. In this, we would usually do 2-3 weeks of eccentrics, followed by 2-3 weeks of isometrics, and then transition back to speed/power output based work.

But how do we modify this when we need to make incremental gains year round?

I'm going to use my Volleyball players training as an example, as they are the ones who train the most year round for their sport (my wrestlers compete in tournaments, but practices volumes are low during the summer). We continue to use the listed system above, but we've changed how we approach each exercise as part of a long-term strategy for success is key. In this, our training looks as if The Tier System (coined by Joe Kenn) and Triphasic Training had a weird love child.


The Tier System, in essence, rotates power movements and strength movements in order throughout a training week to train different qualities under fatigued or refreshed states. Triphasic Training Periodization breaks down the different phases of the stretch shortening cycle (SSC) into multi-week blocks or exposures to increase an athletes potential. We combine the two methodologies to work on power and speed in the short term, while also trying to raise the entire level of performance long term.


First, we'll start by identifying major events in the current season (club or school) and work backwards to identifying how many weeks we have to be back to fully concentric movements and our highest power outputs. I like to allot at least eight weeks in total for this, in order to let the Triphasic Periodization run a full cycle. This way we have time to expose tissue to each phase of the SSC.


Then we plan out training to rotate our movement patterns with the end goal. The main thing we will focus on is keeping the movement used for power and the movement used for tempo the same throughout the cycle. The first movement pattern of each workout will then be designated as power movement. We're looking to develop some strength-speed here, with loading parameters in the 60-70% range of a 1RM, moving the weight fast. The next movement pattern will then be prescribed on a tempo in correspondence with the triphasic training block. The last two movements we will superset and do for some higher volumes for some hypertrophy work.


Here's what this may look like at a glance for the first workout in the rotation (using the Eccentric phase of Triphasic Training as an example):


Movement Pattern

Exercise

Set x Reps

Tempo

Loading Prescription

Squat

Back Squat

4x3

--

60-65%

Push

Bench Press

3x3

3-x-x-x

80-85%/7-8RPE

Hinge

DB RDL

2x10

--

7RPE

Pull/Row

DB Row

2x12e

--

8RPE

Now note, this is just an example or baseline. It doesn't necessarily reflect an actual athlete's program or the entirety of the workout (we can talk mobility and Post-Activation Potentiation in a separate article). What should be noted then, is how each movement pattern will be rotated up in the order and a new exercise within each pattern selected. Here's what the third workout might look like:

Movement Pattern

Exercise

Set x Rep

Tempo

Loading Prescription

Hinge

Hang Power Clean

5x3

--

65-70%

Pull/Row

Chinup

3x3

3-x-x-x

8RPE

Squat

Goblet Squat

2x10

--

7RPE

Push

Incline DB Bench Press

2x10

--

8RPE

We can continue this pattern repeatedly. What is nice about this year round style of training, is how we can utilize it in however many days per week is workable with an athlete's schedule. If an athlete is able to train two days per week, this schedule then allows them to do workouts 1 and 2 during the odd weeks, and workouts 3 and 4 during even weeks. Year round, this gives each movement pattern 26 exposures to power work, 26 exposures to strength development, and 52 exposures to hypertrophy work. These numbers then change dependent on frequency, but you can see the pattern.

What we've noticed in the brief time of doing this, is how we've been able to increase power and strength numbers incremently over time. On the high end, I had a volleyball player add two inches to a vertical jump in 10 weeks using this approach, and another added 1/2 an inch to the standing vertical and an inch to the approach jump we tested.


Now, the exercises used within each pattern, the loading prescriptions, and the overall volume of each will (and should) vary dependent on sport and time related to the main goal of the season (playoffs being a key event). But this approach is easily modified and can be tailored in those prescriptions based on weekly game schedules and practice intensities for the sport itself.

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