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Advanced Strength and Conditioning Programming for Physical Education

Anthony S. Smith

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Change is a subject that many people struggle to deal with. Change can be scary, promising, inhibiting, encouraging or innovative, but some things we all can agree on is that change is constant and necessary. The general adaptive syndrome suggests that change, particularly in the psychomotor domain, may cause a momentary reduction in skill or performance for an individual (Corbin & Le Masurier, 2014; Haff & Triplett, 2016). Once the change is accepted and practiced, growth can occur and overall performance is greatly improved. The idea of change is embedded in physical educational curricula as the core content changes from elementary, middle and high school content. One area that physical education may need change in is fitness programming for intermediate and advanced students as part of a strength and conditioning course. Knowledge of how to create fitness plans that are research oriented and scientifically developed and can be modified over a lifetime of commitment to health and wellness is an important aspect of physical education (Lloyd et al., 2012). The well-known planning components of FITT-VP (frequency, intensity, time, and type–volume, progression) provide a fantastic way to introduce fitness programming to students in a typical physical education course or health course (Corbin & Le Masurier, 2014). However, students are positioned to demand more extensive lesson plans in fitness if they have previous experience in resistance training. Teaching advanced fitness concepts, like the ones found in strength and conditioning, would benefit intermediate and advanced students when taking physical education resistance training classes at the secondary level.

Physical education students are encouraged to seek out additional resources for obtaining physical activity outside of the school day (SHAPE America – Society of Health & Physical Educators, 2014). Many of them attend fitness gyms, some even receiving personal training or private instruction for their sport. The Internet is filled with videos from local celebrities and elite fitness professionals providing programming guides and new and advanced training techniques and exercises. So much information can lead to a syndrome called “paralysis by analysis” (Ehrlenspiel, 2001), leaving young minds confused about proper fitness program development. An overload of information, especially information that is not aligned with current research standards, can sometimes produce ineffectual results in fitness, leaving young enthusiasts scrambling for the next fad or training fallacy. This article proposes a series of changes that can be made by intermediate and advanced strength and conditioning students in physical education. The 4×4 nonlinear programming plan (Components×Options) provides students with at least four options for change in four training components: exercises/angles, equipment selection, training phases and program organization. Making constant change in workout routines is called nonlinear periodization (Kraemer et al., 1998; Rhea et al., 2002), or undulation, and leads to a muscle growth principle known in the bodybuilding world as muscle confusion (Schwarzenegger, 1998; Weider, 1989). Research has consistently shown that altering workouts on a weekly basis is just as effective as linear programming (McNamara & Stearne, 2010; Rhea et al., 2002) and provides a little more excitement when entering the gym. A description of each of the four components is presented in this article along with their options for change. Each section also highlights potential lesson plan ideas. This article concludes with some examples of how students can design and change individualized training programs and how instructors can implement strength and conditioning into the physical education curriculum.

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