There’s one aspect in training that is lacking among the physical education professionals and coaches in general. It is the prescription of coaching focused on American Football like training focused on gaining power. In the academies, the training prescribed to American football athletes is focused on hypertrophy. Don’t get it wrong, hypertrophy is important within the periodization of physical training. But it has a right moment and we will deal with that in future posts.
For the physical trainers to know what to prescribe and coaches to have an idea of what to recommend to their athletes, we need to define some concepts.
What’s muscle strength?
Muscle strength is the ability to overcome a physical resistance that opposes movement. According to Knuttgen and Kraemer (1987), “Strength is the maximum amount of force that a muscle can generate”. All in a specific pattern of movement at a specific speed. The most common way to check muscle strength is the 1RM. It is the performance of a repetition of a given movement. With the maximum resistance that the individual can withstand. Also, maintaining the quality of the movement pattern.
With these concepts in mind, it is necessary to understand that muscle strength manifests itself in different ways. Maximum strength, rapid strength and endurance strength.
The maximum force, as the name suggests, is the maximum production of force, independent of time. This manifestation of force is divided into a maximum isometric and dynamic force.
The maximum isometric force is the maximum force produced through an isometric muscular contraction. Thus, without movement. The dynamic muscular force is the maximum expression of force when a load can be moved only once.
Fast force is the maximum force production over the shortest time. Power is defined by ( force x distance/time). This is the most important force manifestation in American football since the duration of each play is around 5s. It is divided into explosive force and reactive force.
The explosive force is time-dependent, i.e. the maximum force reached in the shortest time. It differs from the reactive force in that it does not depend on the SSC (stretch shortening cycle).
Finally, we have the resistant force or strength resistance. It is divided into general and localized muscle resistance. Resistance is the ability to resist fatigue. Either be localized (e.g., performing several biceps thread repetitions) or general (e.g., the ability of the abdominal and paravertebral muscles to hold the trunk in an upright position).
Quick strength and power training methods
As mentioned above, rapid force (explosive and reactive), is the most important manifestation of force. Especially within the physical preparation focused on American football. With that in mind, we will present some methods that will be treated in more detail in the following articles.
Pliometry is a training method that works the fast force. It allows us to work the explosive or reactive force – depending on the prescribed exercise. It can be through jumps (lower limbs) or throws with the medicine ball (upper limbs). Of the methods presented, it is the simplest to attach to the training routine. It is in accordance to its practicality and demand few material and physical resources.
Sprint training also works with fast explosive and reactive force. This method consists of actions performed at the highest possible speed. Also, it should be prescribed according to the demand of each sport. For example, a background athlete performs 1000m sprints. On the other hand, an American football athlete will hardly perform shots of more than 100m. It is a relatively simple and very useful training method when well prescribed. Its application to the training routine is relatively simple since it can be executed in practically any open space.
Training with Olympic surveys (snatch, clean, and its derivatives) is widespread in U.S. training programs. It is the method by which it is possible to achieve a high level of explosive force production. Of the methods presented, it is the most complex and the one that requires the most material resources (like Olympic bars, Olympic washers, tables, etc.). Besides the material resources, the Olympic surveys require the supervision of an experienced professional since the exercises require a high technical level of execution or can cause serious injuries. However, LPOs can be performed with kettlebells and dumbbells.
Despite the name, the stairs of agility do not serve to train agility – polemic – but for power, especially of lower limbs. One of the most versatile and widely spread tools on the Internet, it is extremely useful when used correctly.