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Strength & Conditioning - Performance Principles

  • Train Like an Athlete - Physically
    In the Northwood University strength system, our primary focus is producing better athletes. Consequently, we avoid the body builder's mindset that focuses on training specific muscle groups and, therefore, put our emphasis on training athletic movements. We believe this is the best way to prepare our athletes for the movements they will have to perform in their given sport. To properly prepare the athlete for these movements, the following principles must be addressed: 

  1. Train Athleticism
    Most sports are performed with the feet on the ground, so we believe it is appropriate to train the athlete standing up as much as possible. The use of ground-based lifts and bodyweight calisthenics can provide the athlete with this kind of training. These exercises promote vital kinesthetic awareness and utilize multi-joint movements much like athletics. And, when an athlete continues to emphasize these components while training, he or she will be more prepared for the demands of the sport.

  2. Train Explosiveness (Explosive Strength = Force/Time)
    Moving a large mass is impressive, however, being able to move that same mass in a minimal amount of time is even more impressive and more applicable to athletics. This is why Olympic lifts and plyometric movements are a major part of our program. These exercises (cleans, jerks, snatches, various jumping drills, etc.) demand the athlete to move explosively against a resistance. We believe when an athlete utilizes these exercises properly, it will promote faster take-offs, higher vertical leaps, harder hits, more powerful changes in direction, and more productive implement swings and throws on the field of play.

  3. Attack the Core of the Body
    The core is the most useful part of the body for the athlete. It is composed of the muscle groups found from the abdomen area extending to the knees. Nearly every athletic movement begins with this region of the body. We train the core by utilizing exercises that directly attack the abdominal region as well as the posterior chain (mid to lower back, glutes, and hamstrings). Two major ways we train the core are by using isometric and resisted exercises. Isometric exercises call on this region to stabilize the body (one-limb lifts/movements, weighted pushups, plank/superman positions, jackknives/ab wheel, etc). We also implement resisted core exercises in our training such as Russian or Wrestler twists, medicine ball twists, pikes, throws, extensions, and various types of sit-ups. Not only do these exercises promote physical strength in the core of the body, but we have also found these exercises to be great mental "finishers" to our workouts.
  • Train Like an Athlete - Mentally
    The mind of an athlete must be prepared for the intensity of competition. Strength and conditioning is a great avenue to develop key mental components necessary for athletics. This is why we emphasize the following principles in our workouts: 

  1. The Champion's Attitude
    True success is only found when an athlete combines correct execution with his or her greatest effort. This attitude will produce champions in athletics, but more importantly, it will produce champions in life! We stress finishing every required rep, touching every line, and never pulling up short in a drill. The champion always trains like this on and off the field of play.

  2. Self-Discipline
    By way of encouraging punctuality, accountability, and sacrifice the strength coach can help the athlete develop self-discipline. This attribute will also prepare the athlete for the most important things in life, not just sports.

  3. Teamwork
    Most sports are team-oriented, so teamwork must be developed before entering the arena of competition. This principle can be encouraged by team workouts where the strength coach runs the workout much like a sport practice. We give opportunity for our athletes to compete to achieve specific team goals. This promotes strength and conditioning gains but also allows the team to develop leadership and team chemistry.
  • Always Prepare The Mind And Body For Training
    In order to go through one of our workouts the athlete must be properly warmed up. We believe this should be accomplished by utilizing this valuable time productively. Consequently, we use several different warm-up drills that train vital athletic components and involve team interaction that specifically prepare the athletes for the workout (dynamic stretching, med ball drills, tumbling, various abdominal routines, light-weight Olympic lifting drills, quick feet drills, jump rope, etc). We always incorporate three necessary components in our warm-up - nervous system preparation, core preparation, and specific ranges of motion for the day. We have found these areas to be most effective in producing strength and power gains but also in preventing the possibility of injury.


  • Hard Work Is Not Measured In Time But By Intensity
    We aim to complete our training sessions in 45-60 minutes. There is no need to spend two or three hours in the gym. If an athlete spends that much time training he is either overtraining or taking too many breaks. We believe in short, intense workouts that keep the athletes constantly moving, which also aids in our overall conditioning.