NASM OPT in Action: Sample Preseason Plans for High School Football and Tennis

Team and individual success for high-school athletes has its roots in the training that begins well before the season’s first match, meet or game. To help student athletes prepare to play their sport of choice, you’ll want to begin by doing some basic movement assessments, addressing compensations and ensuring that your athletes have the stability to progress to strength and power exercises. (You’ll find details on this prep work my article “The CPT’s Playbook for High-School Preseason Training” in the Summer 2017 issue of American Fitness magazine.)

The NASM Optimum Performance Training™ (OPT™) model provides the certified personal trainer (CPT) with the tools to put athletes safely through their paces in the first days and weeks of preseason training—and to progress them all the way through to Phase 6: Maximal Power. If you’re familiar only with the original NASM OPT model, you’ll know that its summit is Phase 5: Power, which is perfect for most clients who are seeking improvements in fitness, strength, health, mobility and the like. For elite or competitive athletes, like those on high-school athletics teams, NASM introduced Phase 6 as part of the Performance Enhancement Specialization. This enables the CPT to literally take elite athletes to the next level in power, speed, agility and quickness.

General Guidelines for the Athletic 6-Phase OPT Model

The following chart will come in handy when you’re planning a program for your young athletes. The 2/0/2 tempo notation translates to 2 seconds eccentric, 0 seconds isometric, 2 seconds concentric. Remember, of course, that regardless of tempo, all movements should be well-controlled to maintain proper form and reduce injury risk.

Level
Phase
Reps
Sets
Tempo
Intensity (%)
Recovery
Stabilization
1 Stabilization Endurance
12-20
1-3
Slow
50-70
0-90 sec
 

Strength
2 Strength Endurance (strength – stability supersets)
8-12
2-4
Str: 2/0/2

Stab: CTRL

70-80
0-60 sec
 

 
3 Hypertrophy
6-12
3-5
2/0/2
75-85
0-60 sec
 

 
4 Maximal Strength
1-5
4-6
Fast
85-100
3-5 min
 

Power
5 Power (strength-power supersets)
1a. Str: 1-5
3-5
Fast
85-100
1-2 min btw pairs
 

2a. Pwr: 8-10

30-45
3-5 min btw circuits
 
6 Maximal Power
10
4-6
Fast
30-45 or 10% BW
3-5 min

Key: BW = body weight; CTRL = controlled movement.

How NOT to Run Out of Time

As with most activities, some of the biggest challenges we face are time, staffing and money (or a lack of things that money can buy). One of the most common mistakes I see in new trainers and coaches is creating programs that can’t be completed in the time allotted. (The second is focusing on exercises that are trendy or high-intensity instead of age/ability/sport-appropriate.) Fortunately, solving this timing issue is as easy as plugging some numbers into the following equation.

For each exercise:

(sets × reps × seconds) + (sets × recovery) = total time for that exercise
Do this equation for each exercise you have planned.
Then add up the totals from all of the exercises.
That’s how long your workout will take (at minimum).

Example:

Let’s look at an exercise that’s done in 3 sets of 10 reps at a 2/0/2 tempo, followed by 30 seconds of recovery.

First, you’d figure that 2/0/2 equates to 4 seconds (2 seconds plus 0 seconds plus 2 seconds). Then plug in the numbers:

(3 sets × 10 reps × 4 seconds) + (3 sets x 30 seconds) = total time

Then solve the two parenthetical equations:

(3 sets × 10 reps × 4 seconds) = 120 seconds
(3 sets x 30 seconds) = 90 seconds

Total them:

120 seconds + 90 seconds = 210 seconds
To convert this to minutes, divide by 60 seconds, and you know that this exercise will take 3.5 minutes to complete.

Repeat this calculation for each exercise or pattern to get your total workout time. This way, you can ensure that everything you want to do (and that is priority) gets done!

Don’t Worry About Fancy Equipment (You Don’t Need It!)

Along with lack of space, lack of equipment is a common issue in the high-school strength and conditioning setting. Remember a key driver that is especially true at this level of play:

A good fundamental program carried out with viscous consistency is better than a complex program that’s not carried out well.

Don’t get sidetracked by fancy equipment or analytics. Most of your work with this age group does not require it. In fact, these things can overcomplicate simple strength, power, conditioning and mobility needs. Here are a few ideas to help you work around this issue:

Use body-weight progressions whenever possible (ex. pushups or weighted pushups instead of bench press).
Use unilateral progressions to limit load needs (ex. rear foot elevated split squat instead of barbell front or back squats).
Use manual resistance when possible for speed/acceleration work (ex. using towels or straps with partners instead of needing sleds).

The following sample programs illustrate how much can be done with fairly little in the way of equipment.

Putting It All Together: Sample Preseason Programming

Here’s a look at how a training program might look when based upon the principles outlined in the NASM Optimum Performance Training™ model with the NASM Performance Enhancement Specialization. Following these guidelines enables the fitness professional to design a holistic program that “addresses all aspects of human movement to ensure that peak performance is achieved. This can be accomplished through the use of integrated training, which incorporates flexibility, cardiorespiratory, core, balance, reactive, SAQ [speed/agility/quickness], and resistance training into one comprehensive routine” (NASM 2017).

Here, you’ll get an idea of what some preseason programs look like when using integrated training. Remember: When calculating the time you’ll need, include a warm-up and flexibility exercises.

Key:

AIS = active-isolated stretching

CM = countermovement (increasing elastic response)

NCM = non-countermovement (3–5 sec isometric hold)

Oly = Olympic or Maximal Power

Plyo = plyometrics

SMR = self-myofascial release

T spine = thoracic spine

Ys, Ts, Ws & As = shape made with arms

Football Preseason Programming, Freshman/Sophomore

Movement
Category

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Plyometrics/

Explosives

1a. NCM box jump up & hold
NCM lateral box jump up & hold
NCM band-resisted broad jump & hold
NCM band- resisted lateral broad jump & hold

1b. NCM 1-leg box jump up & stick
NCM 1-leg lateral box jump up & stick in/out
NCM 1-leg bound & stick
NCM 1-leg lateral bound & stick

1c. NCM kneeling overhead medicine ball throw
NCM kneeling medicine ball chest pass
NCM medicine ball slam
NCM kneeling 1-arm medicine ball chest pass

1d. Mini band clams
Mini band shoulder external rotations
Mini band clams
Mini band shoulder external rotations

Core
2a. Plank
Feet-staggered lateral (side) plank
1-leg plank
Abductor 1-leg lateral (side) plank

2b. Floor bridge
Kneeling antirotation press
1-leg-extended floor bridge
Kneeling segmental chop

2c. Bent-leg quadruped
Dead bug

Power
3a. Barbell hang clean high pull
Barbell hang snatch high pull
1-arm dumbbell hang clean
1-arm dumbbell hang snatch

3b. SMR latissimus dorsi
SMR pectoralis minor
SMR latissimus dorsi
SMR pectoralis minor

Strength
4a. Goblet squat
Hip extension glute hamstring
TRX inverted row
Kneeling dumbbell shoulder press

4b. Supinated pullup
Feet-elevated pushup
Barbell front squat
Bent-leg band-resisted hip extension

4c. SMR thoracic spine
SMR quadriceps
SMR thoracic spine
SMR quadriceps

5a. Kneeling alternating flexed lat pulldown
Extended alternating dumbbell bench press
Dumbbell split squat
Bent-leg kettlebell hip extension

5b. Retro slide board lunge
Ipsilateral 1-leg dumbbell dead lift
Kneeling alternating flexed low row
Kneeling landmine press

5c. AIS psoas
AIS hamstring
AIS psoas
AIS hamstring

Cardio
Linear suicides
Lateral runs
Sled pushes
Slide board or lateral shuffles

 

Tennis Preseason Programming, Freshman/Sophomore

Movement
Category

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Plyometrics/

Explosives

1a. NCM box jump up & stick
NCM lateral box jump up & stick
NCM band-resisted broad jump & stick
NCM band-resisted lateral broad jump & stick
 
1b. NCM 1-leg box jump up & stick
NCM 1-leg lateral box jump up & stick in/out
NCM 1-leg bound & stick
NCM 1-leg lateral bound & stick
 
1c. NCM kneeling overhead medicine ball throw
NCM kneeling medicine ball chest throw
NCM medicine ball slam
NCM kneeling 1-arm medicine ball chest throw

1d. Mini band clams
Ys and Ts
Mini band clams
Ws and As
 

Core
2a. Plank
Feet-staggered lateral (side) plank
1-leg plank
Abductor 1-leg lateral (side) plank
 
2b. Floor bridge
Kneeling antirotation lift
1-leg-extended floor bridge
Kneeling segmental chop
 
2c. Bent-leg quadruped
Dead bug
 

Power
3a. Kettlebell swing
Medicine ball scoop toss
Kettlebell swing
Medicine ball press toss

3b. SMR latissimus dorsi
SMR pectoralis minor
SMR latissimus dorsi
SMR pectoralis minor
 

Strength
4a. Goblet squat
Hip extension glute hamstring
TRX inverted row
Kneeling dumbbell shoulder press
 
4b. Supinated pullup
Feet-elevated pushup
Barbell front squat
Bent-leg band-resisted hip extension

4c. SMR thoracic spine
SMR quadriceps
SMR thoracic spine
SMR quadriceps
 

 
5a. Kneeling alternating flexed lat pulldown
Extended alternating dumbbell bench press
Dumbbell split squat
Bent-leg kettlebell hip extension
 
5b. Retro slide board lunge
Ipsilateral 1-leg straight-leg dumbbell dead lift
Kneeling alternating flexed low row
Kneeling landmine press

5c. AIS psoas
AIS hamstring
AIS psoas
AIS hamstring
 

Cardio
Linear suicides
Lateral runs
Sled pushes
Slide board or lateral shuffles
 

Learn More About the NASM PES

The NASM Performance Enhancement Specialization provides unique training modules focused on improving sports performance, including training for flexibility, cardio, core, balance, plyometrics, SAQ and Olympic lifting. Completing this specialization will earn certified personal trainers 1.9 CEUs from NASM. The PES program is available as a self-study course or an all-inclusive option with a live workshop. To learn more, go to www.nasm.org/pes.

References

NASM (National Association of Sports Medicine). 2017. NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training (6th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning.

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