Female Athletes

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    Hi there all,

    I’m wondering if I can get some thoughts on the following.

    I’ve recently aquired my first female athletes to train. They both play Australan rules football. Both are early-twenties, limited training age and are currently in-season. i have them on a basic strength and flexibility program:

    Mon – Strength: BW horiz push/pull s-set, post chain/ab s-set, calves/rotator cuff s-set.

    Tues – Team Training.

    Wed – Strength: vertical push/pull s-set, unilateral leg/rotary ab s-set, control drill circuit, 2 min rounds: YTWL shoulder/thin tummy/glute bridge hold/VMO extensions/lying lat hip raise/ 45 degree DB serratus press.

    Thur – Team Training.

    Fri – Rest. Dedicated flexibility day.

    Sat – Game day most weeks. Rest day if not.

    Sun – Usually Rest. Game day every 3-5 weeks.

    Both girls seem to be very consistent with both their strength and flexibility work. Stretching is done pre and post workout/training/game and abdominal work is also done with the team.

    I am giving the girls a de-load week every 4 weeks where they only do one strength session but still do flexibility and some abdominal work. When they have a sunday game they rest/stretch monday.

    I have them training at a moderate to low intensity alternating 2×12 with 3×8 each week.

    Firstly, I would like to get your thoughts on the above program for their current in-season. Is having a dedicated flexibility day (45-60mins) the day before a game a god idea? They’re training involves a lot of running, should i reduce lower body strength work? Maybe train lower anterior/posterior together 1x week?

    Secondly, for the off season, your thoughts on increasing intensity and training frequency. I am thinking about having two fullbody programs – one upper body dominant, one lower dominant – training M/W/Fri, and alternating upper mon/fri, lower wed with lower mon/fri, upper wed the following week.

    As far as intensity goes, I am thinking about Wk 1 – 2×12, Wk 2 – 3×8, Wk 3 – 4×6, Wk 4 – 2×12 @ 40-50%.

    I know defranco likes to keep training volume quite high in-season with his female athletes as he says they have less muscle mass and can therefore decondition easier – wouldn’t this mean they can overtrain easier also?

    Is there anything else I should take into consideration when training female athletes?




    for what its worth i’ve found that if i go higher reps inseason it can take away from my club training to a degree and I always like to train legs once a week on a monday or tuesday with a light power day later in the week like ash says. I’ve found this helps with my recovery and legs being fresh for saturday.


    hi mate
    i would suggest that some jump training would be a good option in-season for them. the obvious reasons being power and speed development, but also to help prevent ACL injuries (which females are about 70% more prone to than males).

    try some standard box jumps, and some depth jumps with an isometric hold (check out thibedau’s book).

    as for flexibility, females tend to have pretty decent flexibility as it is and they might be better served completing a dynamic mobility set as opposed to static stretching. cressey’s magnificent mobility dvd will cover everything you need in this regard.

    just my humble opinion, hope some it helps!



    I’ll certainly second the Cressey DVD for improving flexibility. I recently got myself a copy and now do a selection of the exercises for a warm up and on off days, I think they would be a benefit to most.


    Ok great fellas thanks for the advice,

    I’ll def get them into some light plyo work. Maybe i’ll stick to one strength session in-season and incorporate a dynamic/plyo day on the wed? Another option may be using them as a contrast on the lower strength work? Interesting point about the ACL injuries, Tom i have heard that before somwhere now that you mention it. The girls’s hammies and vmo are quite weak so we’re working on those. They’re both quite tight through the hips, calves and shoulders (and very flexible everywhere else!) so have been doing some dynamic work when I’m training them and they’ve been doing static work on their own. I’ve just ordered Cressey’s DVD too, thanks for the heads up.

    Cheers, thanks again!


    Hey Dan,

    Could you explain the control drill circuit & thin tummy exercise??


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