I recently started training a young athlete who is pursuing a career in auto racing. We have worked on his overall strength as well as agility and hand eye coordination. I have also worked hard at core conditioning and strengthening his posterior shoulder girdle. Can you offer any help on this subject?
Any properly designed exercise program must begin with a thorough assessment including:
- Musculoskeletal/postural screen in order to identify muscular imbalances and flexibility/postural deficits that would need to be addressed in the integrated flexibility portion of the program (which should be the cornerstone of the program). This will be very important as there are many postural hazards that come along with being seated constantly - such as in driving for a living! Here are PTN examples:
- Movement assessment in order to identify any weak links in his general motor programs (i.e., squat, lunge, bend, push, pull twist, gait [walk/jog/run]). Here are PTN examples:
- Nutrition and lifestyle assessment in order to identify where improvements can be made in the quality/quantity of his nutritional intake and hydration/dehydration status, as well as any other stress reduction options that may be necessary (fungus/parasites, sleep, stress, etc.). Here is a PTN example:
When completing your assessment, it would be wise to follow a FLEXIBILITY--->STABILITY--->STRENGTH--->POWER periodization plan. One possible example in regards to the core might be:
- FLEXIBILITY - This phase helps to restore normal joint function via the correction of muscular imbalances and asymmetries identified during the assessment.
- STABILITY - This phase of exercise involves little joint motion and is concerned primarily with improving posture as well as intrinsic stabilization of the entire kinetic chain. Duration can generally be three to nine weeks and may include exercises such as supine leg slide, horse stance, bridging, cobra and superman progressions.
- STRENGTH - This phase replaces the isometrics of the stability phase with exercises that travel through a complete range of motion, in a multiplanar fashion, initiating adaptations of speed and specificity. Duration can generally be up to 12 weeks and may include exercises such as reverse crunches, back extensions, cable chops and any of the general motor programs (i.e., squat, lunge, bend, push pull, twist, gait).
- POWER - This phase is generally concerned with the rate of force production as the individual will perform activities that resemble the performance environment (which may be a construction site!), at similar speeds and intensities of that environment. Duration can generally be up to eight weeks and may include exercises such as multiplanar medicine ball drills, plyometrics, etc., in context with the above mentioned general motor programs.
This information may seem vague, yet the exact details of the program will ultimately be determined from your client's assessment. The key is to perform the assessments(s), identify where he is "lacking," and fill in the blanks from there. Two other essential PTN series you might find helpful are Scientific Balance Training by Paul Chek as well as Periodization of Strength by Tudor Bompa.