Strength & Conditioning Orientation

Mission Statement
Harvard University Strength and Conditioning Program is committed to providing the ultimate training experience for each student-athlete. Our focus is building the total athlete while reducing the risk of injury through individual evaluation and program design. Developing strong relationships with each athlete is a fundamental building block essential to the success of Harvard.

Why train using the Harvard Program?
There are three main benefits of the Harvard University Strength and Conditioning Program: performance enhancement, injury prevention, and life skills.

Performance Enhancement & Injury Prevention

1.1 Program Design
Our program design will encompass eight scientifically confirmed principles that improve athletic performance. These principles are the following:

1.1a Ground Based Movements
Movements that are performed with the athlete's feet on the ground are more productive than movements performed while sitting or lying down. Virtually all sports skills are executed with the athlete's feet on the ground. Applying a force against the ground causes an equal and opposite reaction in the direction of the movement. The greater the force you can generate against the ground, the faster you can run and the higher you can jump. Ground based power is critical to athletic success. Training with your feet on the ground requires the athlete to stabilize his own body structure which in turn increases proprioception and strengthens stabilization muscles reducing the risk of injury.

1.1b Multiple Joint Movements
Exercises that work more than one joint at a time are the most productive exercises for athletes. Athletic skills require multiple joint actions timed in the proper neuromuscular recruitment patterns. A sound strength program is built around multiple joint movements.

Multiple Joint movements promote the most lean body mass gains through the secretion of growth hormone and testosterone.

1.1c Three Dimensional Movements

Athletic skills involve movement in three planes simultaneously: side to side, up and down, forward and backward. We must develop functional strength in all three planes. The only way to accomplish this is with free weights. Using free weights develops the primary muscles as well as the stabilization muscles. For example squatting with free weights strengthens the stabilization muscles of the torso, hip, knee and ankle. Machines do not develop the stabilization structures supporting the major joints. By developing stabilization strength we prevent injuries and improve body control.

1.1d Explosive Training

Athletic movements in power sports, such as football, basketball, tennis and wrestling, are very quick and explosive. Training explosively with free weights, plyometrics and medicine balls stimulates the recruitment of fast twitch muscle fibers, thus developing power. If you train slowly you will become slow. The biggest difference between strength and power is speed of movement. Strength alone is useless, power wins games. Developing the ability to apply force rapidly improves on field performance.

1.1e Progressive Overload

Overload happens when the body responds to training loads greater than normal. Overload causes muscle tissue to breakdown and go into a catabolic state. The body then adapts with proper rest and nutrition. By compensating repeatedly, the muscles develop strength or endurance depending on the stimulus. Proper and progressive application of the training load (volume + intensity) is a fundamental component in program design which will maximize performance while preventing injuries.

1.1f Periodization

Periodization is the progressive variation of training regulated by the period of the year and the maturity of the athlete. When the neuromuscular system becomes accustomed to a training stimulus over a period of time it will cease to progress. Periodization promotes continued training progress throughout an athlete's career.

1.1g Specificity of Conditioning

The objective of conditioning is to improve energy capacity of an athlete during competition. There are three systems of energy for the body: Phosphagen, Glycolytic, and Aerobic(Oxidative). The phosphagen system uses ATP and CP to provide the energy for explosive bouts of exercise lasting up to 8 seconds. The glycolytic system uses lactic acid and ATP to provide the energy for moderate intensity bouts of eight seconds to one minute. The Aerobic system provides the energy for low intensity activities over a long period of time using slow twitch muscle fibers.

The initial step in designing a conditioning program is to determine the energy system used in the specific sport. The system used in power sports is the phosphagen system, while the system used for a 10,000 meter run is the aerobic system. There are physiological reasons why a football player trains differently than a distance runner. A football player must develop tremendous efficiency within the phosphagen system. Research has shown that building an aerobic base can be counter productive to development of strength, speed and power. A distance runner needs to be efficient at transporting Oxygen to the appropriate muscles.  So, we will focus on the proper system for each respective sport.

1.1h Interval Training

Interval training is work followed by a prescribed rest interval. This method is used to develop the ATP energy system. Athletes must train a work to rest ratio that corresponds with their specific sport. In football, for example, the basic work to rest ratio is 1:6. If the rest interval is to short, the amount of ATP replenished is not sufficient to meet the demands of maximum intensity effort, resulting in a lack of explosiveness and a poor training effect. We must perform with the same explosiveness at the end of games as we do in the beginning. Interval training has also been shown to increase aerobic capacities in athletes. 

Using these eight principles, along with the evaluation of each athlete's strength's, weaknesses, previous injuries, training maturity and specific sport requirements, each program will be tailored to meet his needs.     Strong lines of communication must be developed between the coaches, athletes, sports medicine staff and myself for the program to function effectively.

Life Skills
Harvard strength and conditioning is committed to the idea of sound mind, sound body. Through the guidance of strength coaches, student-athletes develop skills such as discipline, perseverance, goal-setting, teamwork, mental toughness and work ethic. These instill habits that will lead students to better and healthier lives.

Why train at the Palmer Dixon Strength and Conditioning Center?
Year round training is now needed to successfully compete at the highest level of college athletics. The Palmer Dixon Strength and Conditioning Center is designed to meet this training demand. The 24,000 square foot facility contains twelve 40yd turf lanes, 24 full service Power Racks and Olympics lift platforms, and a conditioning loft with of 30 pieces of cardio equipment. There is no finer collegiate facility in the country.

What is the Iron Crimson Way?

The Iron Crimson way is about intensity and consistency.  There must be a drive and a determination to get better every single day, in every single way.  There can never be a day where an athlete can feel like they are not better after leaving a workout.  Every rep whether it is max effort rep or an unloaded rep must be done with maximum intensity.  This mentality has to be carried with you at all times.  It's about the consistent pursuit of excellence every day.

By choosing to be a collegiate athlete you have chosen to be different from everyone else. Therefore, there are different expectations for you. You are expected to study, eat, sleep, and train in a manner that is indicative of a champion. Approach all aspects of your life with the highest level of intensity, determination, and attention to detail.

There is nothing comfortable about getting an college education and playing a division I sport to the highest level possible.  You will be required to sleep while some of your friends are out partying, you will wake up early while your friends are sleeping in.  You will be asked to study, while some of your friends are relaxing.  You will be held to a higher standard than the general population.  But being uncomfortable is the only way to push one's self to achieve greatness.  You can't move forward staying in your comfort zone.

Invest Your Time... Do Not Simply Spend It!

Rules and Regulations of the Palmer Dixon Strength & Conditioning Center

  1. The Palmer Dixon Strength and Conditioning Center is for Harvard University Varsity Athletes, athletic department staff and coaches only.

  2. Every Varsity Athlete must go through the Strength and Conditioning Orientation before they may train in the facility.

  3. The only Strength and Conditioning Programs allowed are those designed and implemented by the Harvard University Strength and Conditioning Staff.

  4. This is Iron Crimson Country; no other College or University apparel is allowed.

  5. All teams with issue gear must wear it when strength and conditioning training.

  6. No jewelry, hats or other head covers allowed.

  7. Sleeves must be on T Shirts.

  8. Appropriate athletic training shoe required at all times.

  9. No food; including gum allowed in Palmer Dixon.

  10. Absolutely no tobacco or alcohol products at any time in this facility.

  11. Music will controlled by strength staff only and must be appropriate.

  12. Headphones are only allowed in the machine conditioning loft.

  13. It is the athletes' responsibility to ensure proper nutrition, hydration and rest both prior to and following each strength and conditioning session in order to ensure training progress. Each athlete should bring, fill and use her/his own water bottle to stay hydrated during training. This will ensure a strong finish to the session.

  14. Teams and their athletes will arrive to Palmer Dixon at least 5 minutes before their scheduled strength and conditioning session start time in order to fill out their cards and prepare themselves and their stations.

  15. Athletes must fill out lifting cards completely. Fill in all weights used and indicate the number of reps achieved on every set. Good record keeping helps a great deal in long term improvements.

  16. All training begins with a proper warm-up usually involving but not limited to self-administered massage rollers, footwork ladders and dynamic flexibility. The training session will end with static stretching. The team's Head Strength Coach will decide the exact protocols for all warm-ups and flexibility.

  17. Athletes will follow the order of the program. The exercises are set-up so that all explosive movements are done first, with the major compound lifts following them. The assistance movements are always the last exercises done. This will allow the athlete to have maximal strength and energy for the major lifts.

  18. Only excellent technique in all training movements will be tolerated. This means always having control of the barbell or dumbbells. Focus and effort is critical in performing excellent technique.

  19. Athletes must follow the lifting cards and the prescribed weights exactly as they are written throughout the card.  This progression is designed for maximal improvement and peak strength levels right at the conclusion of the training cycle.

  20. Spotters must be present during movements that require a spot.  There can be no forced reps, which can cause excessive microtears in the muscle, thereby making the athlete weaker.

  21. SAFE lifting environment. This means having competent spotters, using collars on free weight lifts, and keeping plates off the floor.

  22. Athletes will put back all equipment in the correct location

  23. Everyone will sanitize the area where they trained.

  24. Failure to follow the facility rules or 3 unexcused training session misses will result in an athletes' indefinite suspension from the Strength and Conditioning Program.

  25. When entering Palmer Dixon, be prepared to train. Wear appropriate clothing, have your shoes tied, and be mentally prepared to improve. Only 100% effort is acceptable.

  26. Be respectful of the Strength and conditioning Staff, athletes and the facility. Remember training with Harvard Strength and Conditioning is a privilege.

  27. Remember; Harvard Strength and Conditioning is here to help each athlete maximize their potential.