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Football Off Season Program
What To Do After The Last Game

Phase 1: Postseason Workouts


From 52-Week Football Training by Ben Cook

Phase 1, the postseason phase, begins after your last football game of the season and lasts for six weeks.

Phase 1, the postseason phase, begins after your last football game of the season and lasts for six weeks. Regrettably, if you’re doing this particular phase in November, you’re sitting at home rather than playing in a January bowl game or a December championship game. This is the time, however, to lay the foundation for the next season. If an extra game is your team’s reward, you could just continue phase 6 (the in-season phase) for two to three weeks after the regular season. You would then start training with the first two to three weeks of the postseason phase immediately after the bowl or championship game.

If you are playing a bowl or championship game in December or January, you could also consider starting phase 1 after the regular season for two to three weeks. Scale back practice immediately following the season, allowing more time for resistance training and conditioning. Beginning phase 1 at this time would help you build muscle size through the hypertrophy training scheduled early in the phase. After bowl practice begins, resume an in-season workout format (see chapter 6) to conserve your energy for the game. After the bowl you can more easily begin phase 2 training, without having to move too quickly into the heavy-set schemes.

Weeks 1 through 3 of this phase are conducted as a team, on campus. Week 4 allows an off week for the holiday break, and weeks 5 and 6 include take-home workouts. The first three weeks of this phase are intense. You will become tired and sore, so use precaution to avoid injury.

Resistance Training
The purpose of resistance training during this phase is to create a muscular base (muscle hypertrophy). Following this phase, a gradual increase in intensity continues toward a peak in power output some weeks ahead. If you consider the periodization model, this phase is the hypertrophy stage and the beginning of the basic strength stage.

Types of Exercise
The exercises during phase 1 consist of core lifts and supporting and assisting exercises. You will use the core lifts throughout the macrocycle to maintain or build a power base. The purpose of the supporting and assisting exercises in this phase is to place higher levels of stress on individual muscles. This, in turn, promotes greater potential for hypertrophy in those muscles. By increasing muscle size, you achieve more joint stability. Thus, as the resistance increases in the latter stages of the training year, there is less potential for injury.

You perform many exercises manually (for example, the manual side raise) by having a coach or training partner apply resistance to your arms or legs, using the force or strength of his arms or body. If you perform these exercises correctly, they are strenuous and thus excellent for inducing extreme fatigue or momentary muscular failure (MMF). You perform other exercises using a cable device, which reduces worry about getting the weight up and allows you to focus on using the designated muscle group to perform the work.

The exercise sequence addresses the larger muscle groups first in the workout and then the smaller muscle groups. Unique to this phase is the use of preexhaustion sets and supersets to produce greater muscular fatigue.

Rest, Volume, and Special Sets
The amount of rest between the sets of phase 1 exercises is relatively low - 1:00 between sets of basic (b) exercises and 0:45 between sets of supporting (s) exercises. The reduced amount of rest ensures that you will efficiently fatigue the muscle. The amount of rest between exercises is 1:30.

The number of sets and repetitions in phase 1 workouts is high. This high volume is another method of increasing overall fatigue during the workout.

I’ve mentioned supersets and manual exercises as a unique aspect of this phase. Also I’ve included decreasing resistance sets as a means of increasing the fatigue factor. Notice that the bench press, two-arm dumbbell press, and EZ bar curl begin with a warm-up set of 10 X 60 percent and then continue to a set of 8 X 80 percent, 8 X 75 percent, and finally down to a set of 8 X 70 percent. These weight percentages may appear low, but you can induce fatigue by maintaining a constant movement tempo.

Repetition Style and Speed
During this phase the style of repetition is strict. Perform each repetition deliberately and slowly. Imagine yourself squeezing the muscle. When doing the bench press, for example, imagine a coin sitting on the center of your chest (don’t put the coin there, however; injury could occur). Then imagine each pectoral muscle squeezing together in the center and folding the coin in half. You can apply this imagery technique to any area of the body. Another method of accomplishing proper flexion of the muscle in this phase is to push the hands isometrically toward one another during a pushing exercise and pull the hands isometrically apart during a pulling exercise. (The hands will not actually move on the apparatus or bar; they are simply squeezing.) Be sure to breathe correctly while using these techniques (see part I, page 7).

Keep the tempo or cadence of the repetitions constant during this phase of the exercise plan. You should not interrupt the repetition at the bottom or top of the movement. During this phase the only reason to stop the movement is to flex the muscle more intensely.

Running and Conditioning
The first four weeks of this phase include no planned running or conditioning. Even so, you should stay active on your own, perhaps participating in activities like basketball, volleyball, tennis, or swimming. These activities serve as an active rest period away from football and require slightly different muscle motor patterns. The development of these motor patterns can provide a stronger muscle motor unit base. At the same time, participation in these sports doesn’t involve the mental stress of having to reach a certain level as you would if training for football. In this way, you stay physically active but perceive the activity to be less stressful. During weeks 5 and 6, most athletes are off from school for the holiday break; I’ve planned a mild distance run as well as an easy interval run for each week. This scheduled running helps reinitiate you to more controlled activity.

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