Looking Back on What Worked This Summer

TAGS: camp, summer, mike kozak, combine, sport, football, Sports Training, training

Summer training for my college football clients began in early June. For those who were already training with me in the spring, their regimen consisted of my basic four-day per week set up that focused on getting them really strong and fast. Once June came around, we went to a five-day per week set up that focused on getting them “field ready.”

Monday: High intensity leg work (plyometrics, short sprints, heavy leg work)

Tuesday: Heavy upper body

Wednesday: Lateral plyometrics and various forms of conditioning based on the rest clock of a football game

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Specific strength and conditioning (various forms of jumps and sled work)

Saturday: Higher repetition upper body work

Sunday: Rest

In the winter and spring months, I avoided back to back days of max effort upper body and lower body lifts to maximize results (squats, deadlifts, heavy bench). In the summer, the best set up involved performing back to back work on Monday/Tuesday with our heavy leg/upper days. This meant that some days we just didn’t go to complete max effort to avoid burning out the central nervous system. This set up allowed for a full day of rest between all leg work and running days.

Looking back, I think it was a highly successful summer of training. One of my clients was the fastest player on the team in all drills—as a freshman. He even ran the fastest mile time, though we didn't spend any time training for that. My other clients passed their conditioning tests easily and are competing for starting jobs. Most importantly, all are injury free so far.

Here are a few things that I thought really worked well this summer:

1. Keeping Mondays low volume/high intensity: This allowed us to run fast and lift heavy. Pairing up plyometrics such as box blasts with sprints and heavy squats with jumps allowed a number of my guys to set personal bests in 10-yard sprints and vertical jumps. This also gave us the rest of the week to focus on conditioning.

2. Using sled sprints, pushes, shuffles and crossovers on specific strength and conditioning day: On some days we paired a weighted jump with a sled push or sprint. For example, we did a set of three dumbbell squat jumps, rested 30 seconds, and then performed a 10-yard heavy sled push. We did 6–8 sets and this served as our “first quarter” of training for the day. Each exercise took about five seconds per set—about the average time of a football play.

Sleds are one of my favorite pieces of equipment because they allow athletes to apply force at the angle that they move on the field. This is something that can't be accomplished with traditional barbell exercises. The key is timing the duration of the drill and setting up the rest periods in a manner that is similar to how a football game flows.

3. Using 10–15-yard hill sprints instead of running 40s or gassers: I was lucky to find a hill very close to the gym that was at a perfect angle. On Wednesdays, we hit the hill for sprints, shuffles, and crossovers with varying bouts of rest. Yes, running gassers can be hard, but there is just something about sprinting up a hill that forces you to pick the knees up and push hard. I see too many guys run gassers with terrible technique that will get you killed on the field.

4. Using shuttle variations for conditioning: I've said it a million times—football is a multi-directional sport. You can run 110s all you want, but nobody runs 110s in a football game. One of the hardest things to do when you're fatigued is to decelerate and then accelerate in another direction. I used 40-yard shuttles (10 and back, 10 and back), 45-yard shuttles (five and back, 10 and back, 15-yard sprint), and true 5-10-5 shuttles. Sometimes the guys touched the lines with their hands and sometimes they just planted their feet without the hand touch. The 40-yard shuttle could be done in around nine seconds for my skill guys and 10 seconds for my linemen. I usually gave them between 35 and 45 seconds rest between sets and we did 8–10 of them on either Wednesday or Friday. All guys unanimously said that the shuttles at the end of the workouts were by far the hardest part of the weekly training. It came as no surprise to me that one of my clients passed his 300-yard shuttle test with ease.

5. Varying up exercise selection: Some weeks we squatted with chains, and some weeks we deadlifted. Other weeks we didn’t do any of those. This kept the workouts fresh and kept my athletes interested in each week of training. Remember, you aren’t getting guys ready for a powerlifting meet.

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