Functional Strength Training Program Design for Sports Performance

06 Aug Functional Strength Training Program Design for Sports Performance

Performance and corrective exercise for the sports performance is predicated upon a systematic approach where the fitness professional first identifies the kinetic chain dysfunction, next creates a plan to address dysfunction/performance, and finally implements the corrective and performance training program.

The process by which stabilization, strength, endurance, and power is developed within the musculature of the kinetic chain is through an integrated series of modalities. The fitness professional must understand it is not one type of training or group of exercises through which the musculature of the kinetic chain is developed for improved athletic acuity. It is through a comprehensive series of differing types of training modalities this goal is achieved.

It is through this integrated approach to training by which the fitness professional can develop the required neuromuscular efficiency, stability, strength, endurance, and power requirements for the muscular system required for sports performance. The processes and training systems by which these fundamental capacities of strength are develop within the kinetic chain for the golf swing vary. The most common strength training systems for the sport are the: Circuit System, Complex System, Multi Set System, Push-Pull System, PMRS System, and Stack System.

Circuit System

A circuit training system consists of a series of specific exercises performed consecutively in order. The circuit system is a very beneficial training mode in the development of strength endurance within the kinetic chain.

Complex System

Complex training consists of a specified number of strength based exercise sets performed immediately before a specific number of plyometric based sets for power development. For example, 3 sets of barbell front squats followed by 3 sets of box jumps. Current research indicates complex training is extremely effective in the development of power outputs from the kinetic chain.

Contrast System

A contrast system of training is similar to complex training but differs in program set up. Contrast training consists of a single strength training exercise performed immediately before an individual plyometric exercise. For example, a single set of barbell front squats followed immediately with little or no rest by a box jump. Current research supports contrast training as very effective in the development of power development within the neuromuscular system.

Multi Set System

A multi set system entails 2-5 sets of an individual exercise performed with the same load for each exercise set. The multi set system is very beneficial in hypertrophy and maximal strength based training programs (Thomas Baechle, Editor, Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning).

Push-Pull System

The push-pull system incorporates the pairing of a lower body orientated exercise followed immediately by an upper body based exercise. For example, a barbell dead lift paired with a barbell bench press. The push-pull system is a very beneficial system to utilize in the development of functional strength within the kinetic chain (Michael Clark, Integrated Training for the New Millennium, 232)

PMRS System

The PMRS (position, movement, resistance, speed) system is based on research from the Titleist Performance Institute and Dr. Tom House of the University of Southern California. The system is based upon the principle of blending basic exercise progressions with advanced motor learning techniques. The benefits of the system are kinetic chain development in conjunction with athletic skill improvement.

Stack System

The stack system incorporates multiple sets of a single exercise with an increase in load within an ascending progression. For example, a barbell squat where the load for set number 1 is 200 lbs., set number 2 increases to 215 lbs., and set number 3 the load is again increased to 225 lbs. The stack system is often utilized in conjunction with a push-pull system and is advantageous in the development of functional and maximal strength within the kinetic chain.

Program Design

Program design for the sport performance is based upon scientific research in which a systematic approach within the strength and conditioning program produces the greatest effect and benefit to the athlete. This systematic approach is based upon an integrated training model where the health and fitness professional manipulates acute training variables with functional training modalities and exercises in order to produce physiological adaptations within the kinetic chain.

Training Adaptation

Training adaptations within a strength and conditioning program for golf are determined by the manipulation of acute training variables. Based upon modifications in the training variables of repetitions, sets, intensity, and duration the fitness professional can influence the adaptations of the kinetic chain at a cellular level. These adaptations can be in the form of increased neuromuscular power, strength, hypertrophy, and/or endurance.

Acute Training Variables

The acute training variables: Repetitions, sets, intensity, volume, and duration directly affect the outcome of a training program. The fitness professional will have specific training adaptations within the goals of a conditioning program requiring the modification of these training variables. During program design the fitness professional must remember that all acute training variables are interdependent. (Clark, Michael, Integrated Training for the New Millennium, 249) In addition, an inverse relationship exists between repetitions and intensity, where an increase in intensity requires a reduction in the number of repetitions for a given exercise.

Repetition schemes within a training program are directly related to physiological adaptations within the neuromuscular system. (Thomas Baechle, Editor, Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning). Strength endurance adaptations are achieved with a repetition range of 12-25 at a 50-70% intensity of an individual’s one repetition maximum. Hypertophy requires a repetition range of 8-12 repetitions at an intensity of 70-80%. Neuromuscular strength utilizes a repetition scheme of 5 to 8 at an intensity level of 80-90%, and power is trained with a scheme of 1-3 repetitions at an intensity level of 90-100%.


The modalities and exercises chosen for the development of functional strength should be done in accordance to the requirements of the sport and in adherence to the training principles of strength development within the kinetic chain. Each individual athlete will have differing needs and requirements to be met within these goals thus requiring alterations within exercise selection. During program design keep in mind the overall goal of the training program is the development of neuromuscular control, stability, strength, endurance, and power within the muscular system specific to the requirements of the athlete’s chosen sport. The training system utilized for the development of the kinetic chain should correspond the goals of the training program in addition to outside variables such as time, training equipment available, practice schedules, and injury history.

About Performance Coach Sean Cochran: Sean Cochran, one of the most recognized performance coaches in sports today. A career spanning positions with 2 major league baseball organizations, over 10 years on the PGA Tour and work with top professionals including three-time Masters, PGA, and British Open Champion Phil Mickelson, future hall of fame Trevor Hoffman, and Cy Young award winner Jake Peavy. He has been involved in the production of numerous performance videos and authored books including; Performance Golf Fitness, Complete Conditioning for Martial Arts, and Fit to Hit. He has been a presenter of educational seminars for numerous organizations including the world renowned Titleist Performance Institute.


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