It is important for athletes, coaches, and parents to understand that the OPT training program is a process, not a quick fix. Each of the five phases has a purpose and is scientifically designed to gradually develop the body in a safe and effective manner. Athletes cannot join the bandwagon late, or give up early if they want to get the maximum benefits they desire! It just doesn’t work that way. After years of research, this method of training has been recommended and supported by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as an efficient, effective, and safe way to meet athletes’ needs and goals. This is how all the Pros train! In a perfect world, all athletes should start training for their sports five months prior to their first game in order for the injury prevent exercises to take hold. Tendons and ligaments have a low blood supply and take a lot longer to get stronger than muscles and bones. Therefore, you can’t effectively decrease the chance of injuries or get in shape working out only two-to-three months before their first game.
Incorporating multiple phases and types of training – flexibility, cardio, respiratory, core, balance, reactive, speed agility, quickness and strength – into every program improves all biomotor abilities and builds high levels of functional strength, neuromuscular efficiency, and dynamic flexibility. I’ve explained the five phases of OPT training below.
This phase of training should be used for beginner level athletes who may possess muscle imbalances and lack postural control and stability. This phase is crucial for all individuals no matter what their goals may be, as it prepares them for the higher demands of the next four phases of training. Although at this point in the process advanced athletes may find is relatively easy, it will allow for proper recovery and maintenance of high levels of stability that will ensure optimal strength and/or power adaptations. This phase of training focuses on:
Increasing neuromuscular efficiency of the core
Improving intermuscular and intramuscular coordination
This phase of training is a hybrid form of training in which high amounts of volume are utilized. The goals are to:
Phase 3 & 4 are optional depending on your sport. EX: you don’t need big muscles or maximum strength to run cross-country.
Hypertrophy training is specific for maximizing muscle growth and focuses on high levels of volume with minimal rest periods.
In this phase, the focus is on increasing the load placed upon the tissues of the body. Maximal strength training also has been shown to help increase the benefits of power training used in Phase 5. Improvements come from:
Recruitment of more motor units
Rate of force production
Motor unit synchronization
Power training focuses on both high force and velocity to increase power. This is accomplished by super-setting a strength exercise for 5 reps with an explosive exercise for 10 reps for each body part.