Elite athletes start preparing for competition long before opening day of their sport’s training camp. If you want to play at the top of your game, consider the findings of a study recently published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research before mapping out a pre-season resistance training program.

Twenty first year Division I college football players were assigned to a prioritized hypertrophy-based resistance training program to build muscle. The program designed for 20 second year players focused on strength, and another 20 third year players took part in a lifting program to develop power. All of these workouts were performed four days on, one day off, for 10 weeks.

First and second year players showed significant improvements in one rep max (1RM) on bench press, squats and power cleans while third year players only increased 1RM for the power clean. Year one players did not increase body weight as expected, and none of these groups improved countermovement jump performance.

True Strength Moment: Younger players realized the greatest improvements in strength for the same reason weight room newbies realize greater gains. Their relative inexperience leaves plenty of room for improvement. To avoid weak spots in your performance, go with a nonlinear periodized strength training program offering the freedom to work on hypertrophy and power production. You might also want to include a plyometric routine to increase countermovement jump height.

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