WSBB Blog: In Season Conjugate Training for Football

WSBB Education
Fri Sep 10, 2021

Tags: GPP, Grip, Deadlift

Weight training has been considered a vital part of a football player’s development for decades now, but, it has long been believed that weight training is beneficial for the football player in the offseason only. Coaches have been misinformed and led to believe that if they allow their players to continue following a weight training program the players will experience loss in speed and agility. Despite science continuously proving weight training that enhances strength, speed, and agility, there has been a long-standing myth that season lifting makes athletes less athletic.

The Conjugate Method allows for the training program to
be tuned specifically for the demands and schedule of the sport. By making adjustments to the volume, intensity, exercise selection, and workout timing a coach is able to dial in a strength training-focused lifting program that will increase player ability both on the field and in the weight room. Here are the adjustments we would make to a Conjugate weight training program to create synergy between strength gains and recovery times during the football season.
 

Max Effort Lower

When designing an in-season Conjugate weight training program you will want to include both max effort lower and upper days. The max effort lower workout of the week will always be done 36-48 hours post-game. This is important to ensure that recovery time from max effort lower work is more than enough, allowing for fresh legs on gameday. The goal with any in-season program is to get the most out of the training, but also show up with the most on game day.
The exercise selection should feature squat and goodmorning variations more often than not, with a deadlift variation thrown in once every three to four weeks.
The reason why deadlift exercises are less frequent is due to the fact that deadlifts above 90% tend to
be associated with increased levels of fatigue and the need for recovery. As usual, max effort work should be performed working up to a top set single or triple, intensity at or above 90%. The accessory volume will be low to moderate, with intensity being moderate to high. Accessory exercise selection should be as individualized as possible, addressing the specific weaknesses of each athlete. Each accessory exercise should be performed for three to five sets, five to eight reps for the heavier work, ten to fifteen reps for the less intense accessory work.
 

Max Effort / Dynamic Effort Upper

The reason these two days are included together is that you will be alternating between them a week to week. Given the fact that the primary focus is sports performance on the football field, the written in-season Conjugate football program should feature three training days only. This allows for optimal training sessions, optimal recovery times, and ultimately optimal sports performance. Your max effort upper body training will be performed 36 hours after ME lower and will follow the same set and rep protocols the lower body training. This means reps will be between one and three, working at or above 90%. Exercise selection should include a rotation of incline press, floor press, close grip bench press, and bench press exercise variations.

Dynamic effort upper training days will be identical to the way we approach them when training powerlifters
. This means three week waves, 12 x 3@ 40% + minibands, 10 x 3 @ 45% +minibands, and 8 x 3 @ 50% + minibands. Close grip and competition grip are preferred for dynamic effort bench, alternating between the two-wave to wave, week to week, or set to set. The accessory volume will be higher volume lower intensity for max effort bench, and lower volume higher intensity on dynamic effort bench. Strengthening the arms, chest, shoulders, and mid/upper back should be the focus of accessory exercises.
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Dynamic Effort Lower

On the final training day of the in-season Conjugate football program, DE lower should always be executed 36-48 hours before game day. A good way to use time and keep recovery time between the final training day and gameday properties to get in your DE lower workout after the Wednesday practice for high school, or after the Thursday practice for college or pro players.

Similar to
the way dynamic effort upper training for football players is approached similar to powerlifting training, dynamic effort lower training for football players will be similar to powerlifting training as well. This means three week waves including 10 x 2 @ 50% + 25%band, 8 x 2 @ 55% + 25% band, and 6 x 2 @ 60% +25%band. You will alternate bars every three weeks, and bands will always be the choice as far as accommodating resistance goes. Accessory exercise volume will be lowered on this day to ensure the maximum amount of recovery between the final training day and game day. We recommend a few sets each of high rep kettlebell swings, abs, and GHR after DE lower, then getting on with the recovery process.
 

Final Words

With proper exercise selection, program organization, and timing you can develop a very successful in-season Conjugate-based football strength training program that will provide your players with the training necessary to take their sports performance to the next level. The most important thing to adhere to when writing in-season programming is the recovery times between game day and the first training day, and the last training day, and the upcoming game day. If planned and executed correctly, you should be walking into your first training day fully recovered, and you should be walking onto the field recovered from your previous training session.
If the game is on a Friday, a good schedule to keep would be a Sunday / Tuesday / Wednesday morning training week.

If the game is on a Saturday with Monday / Wednesday/ Thursday morning, and if the game is on Sunday train Tuesday/ Thursday / Friday morning
. Be sure to understand the weaknesses, training needs, and recovery limitation of your players. If you begin to notice the training program is working for some, but not all of your athletes, don’t hesitate to make programming adjustments on the individual level. Any coach can make a program work for some players, a great coach finds the approach that ensures success for all players.