Football, a Conjugate Approach P.2

Football, a Conjugate Approach P.2

Football, a Conjugate Approach

Part 2: Constraints

Tags: football, strength and conditioning, athletics


    Below are the two primary constraints (time and equipment) which bind and at times neutralize what strength and conditioning staffs are capable of executing. Both present a clear and present danger to effectively comply with in the NCAA’s guidelines. For those whom are skeptical, you’ll see below a weight room can in fact not only be efficient in these parameters, but also help deliver more adapt young men to their position coaches.



Constraint 1: Time


    In collegiate athletics, the NCAA places black and white time restrictions on not only the amount of time on the practice field, but also the weight room. Granted, every institution plays in the most favored area of ‘grey’. Many reading this whether have participated in NCAA football or not, have heard many training days at Westside are split into 2 individual sessions. The main lift, occurring in the morning, then the mini workout, approximately 8 hours later. The main lift sessions are comprised of Max Effort Lower/Max Effort Upper/Dynamic Lower/Dynamic Upper and when executed properly come to a grand total of 4 hours a week. These days can be broken down from the time the athletes arrive in the weight room until they exit. Designated below is a training time chart for Dynamic Lower:



-15:00-0:00 - athletes arrive and assemble their stations with the set-up (no active coaching)

0:00-5:00 - bodyweight dynamic warm-up (targeted towards muscle group(s) being addressed)

5:01-10:00 - warm-up sets (these typically consist of 2-3 ascending sets leading up to a designated percentage)

10:01-11:00 - Set 1

11:01-12:00 - Set 2

12:01-13:00 - Set 3

13:01-14:00 - Set 4

14:01-15:00 - Set 5

15:01-16:00 - Set 6

16:01-17:00 - Set 7

17:01-18:00 - Set 8

18:01-19:00 - Set 9

19:01-20:00 - Set10

21:01-22:00 - Set 11

22:01-23:00 - Set 12

23:01-24:00 - transition time to auxiliary 1 (adjust machine and load weight if necessary)

24:01-34:00 - auxiliary 1

34:01-35:00 - transition time to auxiliary 2 (adjust machine and load weight if necessary)

35:01-45:00 - auxiliary 2

45:01-46:00 - transition time to auxiliary 3 (adjust machine and load weight if necessary)

46:01-56:00 - auxiliary 3

56:01-57:00 - transition time to core work

57:01-60:00 - core variation

60:01-75:00 - weight room break down (no active coaching)

    Several things to note, firstly the above chart is based on going through the session in groups of 3 per station(rack/bar). This means the athletes need be in tune with each other and hold a solid rotation of weight adjustments(ala Nascar pit crew). Secondly, as they are going through at a quicker clip than powerlifters and most likely using power racks, it is more advantageous for those who are the same height (not necessarily strength) to group up. Lastly, the coach in this scenario can be the time keeper, however in our quest to turn young men into leaders, it is best to allow one of the players to keep the time (this can be the opportune moment to pull a blossoming leader out of their shell, and into a vocal role).

    Following this, the ‘mini’ or ‘extra’ workout as performed at Westside to strengthen weak points is up to interpretation. It is in these sessions the individual pulls away from the pack, or in this case go from a walk-on to scholarship recipient. Regarding football players, this does not necessarily need to be auxiliary ‘lifts’, but rather conditioning, balance, stability, and/or reaction work. It is in this facet many misunderstand the system for athletes, and believe it does not translate over. As coaches, we do not turn the reigns over to the athlete, however, with the time sanctions we cannot oversee them as they do extra work the majority of the time. To combat this, place the elements of what they will be working on themselves in these mini-workouts within the dynamic warm-ups of the main session(s). Remember when working with an athlete,
the primary concern is to better the arena of sport,
with the strength and conditioning being an athlete’s GPP/SPP.



Constraint 2: Equipment


    Many schools, some would say most, don’t have the active funding or an AD (Athletic Director) who supports or seeks the necessary funding to equip a weight room with the optimal tools. As unfortunate as this sounds, one would have to agree in the last 2 decades there has been a large shift to the importance of the strength & conditioning (performance) departments. However, we digress, and this lack of tools lead many to believe they cannot execute a strong Westside Conjugate template…this could be further from the truth. As stated in Part 1: Overview, the Conjugate system is defined as a ‘constant rotation of exercises’. With only a straight bar, power rack, and a squat box, is this possible, and if so, to what extent? Here is a 34 week non-exhaustive list of variations which can be rotated (not performed in succession as listed) in for the main lifts on Max Effort Lower.

1) high bar free squat

2) high bar box squat

3) low bar free squat

4) low bar box squat

5) high bar low box squat

6) low bar low box squat

7) high bar free squat (wide stance)

8) high bar box squat (wide stance)

9) low bar free squat (wide stance)

10) low bar box squat (wide stance)

11) front squat

12 front squat box squat

13) front squat box squat (wide stance)

14) front squat low box squat

15) concentric back squat

16) concentric front squat

17) good morning

18) conventional deadlift

19) frog deadlift

20) sumo deadlift

21) ultra wide sumo deadlift

22) conventional rack pull

23) frog rack pull

24) sumo rack pull

25) ultra wide sumo rack pull

26) deficit conventional deadlift

27) deficit frog deadlift

28) deficit sumo deadlift

29) deficit ultra wide sumo deadlift

30 power clean

31) clean

32) clean and jerk

33) hang clean

34) snatch

*In this list you’ll notice many variations are listed in generic form, i.e., ‘low box’. This can be any number of variants, as once parallel is broke, records can be set 1/2”-1” at a time (or until mobility becomes a limiting factor). Take note, the last 5 olympic variations are not often utilized in a powerlifting template. Again, we are concerned with not only maximum impact, but force absorption as well. In a live action sport, while positions of impact can be predicted, being prepared to not only deliver but absorb force from a multitude of positions is paramount. At Westside, these are not emphasized as the ‘end all be all’ of performance, but rather as a tool to help the athlete understand position and body awareness.


In Part 3, we’ll dig into just how to apply both Lower and Upper Max Effort work to football, from skills to the bigs.

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