Incorporating the “Big Three” Into Sports Training, Part I

TAGS: clark, big three, prowler, log press, band, kettlebell, deadlift, squat, bench press, training

Sports training or sports-specific training is a different beast than competitive powerlifting. However, the “Big Three” have a great impact on the overall strength and explosiveness of the athlete. The $1500 question is how to develop a strength and speed program to help athletes excel in their sport of choice.

The goal of this article is to teach you how to structure a training program to help you meet your goals, which I’m sure are the same goals that I and all other competitive athletes have—to be the very best at what you do, or at a minimum, be the very best that you personally can be. So here it goes. I’ll introduce you to some exercises of benefit and merit.

All athletes can benefit from strength training, speed training, plyometric training, stability training, and of course, sports-specific training. The following is a list of exercises that will help all athletes:

  1. Squats: These come in many variations—to a box, wide, close, high bar, low bar, safety bar, cambered bar, buffalo bar, and with or without bands and chains. Many athletes will need to do higher reps than others, and the weight load will vary with athletes who need or don’t need extra bulk.
  1. Bench pressing: There are all kinds including incline, flat, decline, close grip, medium grip, wide grip, with or without bands or chains, with kettlebells swung from the bar with mini flex bands, with dumbbells, and floor presses all done with different loads and rep schemes to fit the sport you’re training for.
  1. Deadlift: These can be done conventional, sumo, modified sumo, standing on a platform, full range, partially full range like with a Romanian deadlift, or stiff legged. Core and hamstring development are key in all sports, and this is a sure fire fix. The trick will be getting the correct weight and rep scheme.
  1. Snatches: These are done with a barbell with or without chains and bands or with kettlebells done in pairs or unilaterally. These are great for speed.
  1. Cleans: These are done with a barbell with or without bands and chains, seated with dumbbells, or standing with kettlebells.
  1. Box jumps: These are done standing using one leg or both, seated on a box, or jumping down from a box to the ground and jumping on top of another. These movements can be done with body weight or by adding ankle weights, a weighted vest, or Spud jump rings, or holding sandbags, dumbbells, or kettlebells or any combination.

For additional upper body strength, athletes may incorporate some of the following:

  1. Push press done with a barbell, a fat bar, dumbbells, kettlebells, an axle, or log press. This movement may be added to the clean in the form of the traditional clean and press
  2. Plyometric push-ups done with body weight, bands over the back, a medicine ball, blast straps, a sandbag on your back, a weighted vest, or with your feet flat or elevated.
  3. Sandbag or heavy medicine ball throws while in the bench position. Throw explosively and catch the bag or the ball (the catching is pretty important for obvious reasons; please use spotters).
  4. Bottoms up kettlebell shoulder presses while sitting on a low box with no back support.

A strong core is very important and usually overlooked in training. Here are some exercises to choose from:

  1. Overhead squats done with a barbell with or without bands and chains, kettlebells, dumbbells, or a medicine ball
  2. Suitcase deadlifts done with a barbell, kettlebell, or dumbbell
  3. Turkish get-ups done with a kettlebell or dumbbell
  4. Tornado ball drills done with a medicine ball(s) put in an Army duffle bag and swung side to side at different angles with your back to the wall
  5. Side bends done on a glute ham raise machine, hyperextension, or 45-degree hyperextension with body weight or using bands or holding plates, dumbbells, or kettlebells
  6. Landmines performed with one end of the bar wedged in a corner and weight loaded on the other end holding the end with the weight with varying stances and twisting side to side with the arms semi-locked through a wide range of motion

For extra lower body training, insert some of the following:

  1. Glute ham raises
  2. Reverse hyper extensions
  3. Band leg curls seated on a low box or with your body draped over a pomel horse or over a preacher curl bench
  4. Front squats with or without chains
  5. Zercher squats from the floor, from a low pin, or done in a full range
  6. Explosive movements from a sprint or three-point stance position with bands attached to Spud’s jump rings or to your power belt
  7. Belt squats with a machine, a chain bar, or a loading pin attached to a power belt
  8. Kettlebell swings between the legs

For extra general physical preparedness (yes, you do need this whether you think you do or not), try:

  1. The Prowler sled (any way you want to; just do it)
  2. Pulling a sled (more ways to do this than I can list)
  3. Wheelbarrow work (don’t let your wife know you have one or she will expect you to put out mulch)
  4. Weighted vest work of all kinds
  5. A–Z drill with a medicine ball
  6. Tire flipping for distance (not off your subcompact)
  7. Throwing a heavy medicine ball up and out and sprinting to it and repeating (this exercise is best done outside so as not to kill people curling in the power rack)
  8. Sprinting against band resistance, a Speed City Viper, or speed chute

Well, that’s all for Part I. We’ve discussed some of the exercises so in Part II, I’ll attempt to teach you how to construct a training program to take you to the next level. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

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