CSCA Presentation – Foundational Strength


This is the outline of my presentation to the Collegiate Strength & Conditioning Coaches Association in Orlando. I will be presenting tomorrow afternoon. If you are at the convention I would love to visit and talk about training. I will be there just for the day tomorrow.

Foundational StrengthBuilding The Athlete From The Ground Up


  • Bullet proof the athlete – Eliminate movement deficiencies
  • “Farmboy Strength” – Compensate for inactive lifestyle
  • Develop ability to handle bodyweight through full ranges of motion with speed and control
  • Build structural strength to eliminate any later limitations
  • repare for heavier and more intense loads to follow
  • Develop tendon strength and dynamic joint stability
  • Enhance linkage and connections

Strength Training Definition (Adapted from Frans Bosch):

Coordination training with appropriate resistance to handle bodyweight, project an implement, more or resist movement of another body, resist gravity and optimize ground reaction forces.

Movement Constants:

  • Body
  • Gravity
  • Ground

Full Spectrum Strength Training:

  • Multiple Planes
  • Multiple Joints
  • Full Range of Motion
  • Proprioceptively Demanding
  • Mindful

Doherty Strength Power Index:

S 10 S 9 S 8 S 7 S 6 S 5 S 4 S 3 S 2 S 1 S = Strength

V 1 V 2 V 3 V 4 V 5 V 6 V 7 V 8 V 9 V 10 V = Velocity


  • Train movements not muscles:
    • Pull
    • Push
    • Squat
    • Rotate
    • Brace
  • Body weight before external resistance
  • Strength before strength endurance and power before power endurance

Basic Concepts of Foundational Strength:

  • “Let the volume do the work”
  • Training accumulates:
    • Session to Session
    • Week to Week
    • Month to Month
    • Year to Year
  • Volume is achieved through more sets, not necessarily through more reps

Foundation Strength Training Rules:

  • Get the Reps- No failure!
  • Handle the load – Load is determined as % of Bodyweight
  • Up to 30 % of BW for males & 25% of BW for females. After those thresholds are reached progress to normal loading and speed guidelines
  • Handle the rest (Active Rest)
  • Handle the tempo (Intra set and inter set):
    • Lower Body – 1 reps/sec up to a resistance threshold
    • Upper Body 1- 2 reps/ sec up to a resistance threshold
  • Full range of motion @ prescribed speed with control
  • Progress to multiple planes of motion:
    • Sagittal
    • Frontal
    • Transverse
  • Vary the limb involvement:
    • Bilateral
    • Unilateral
    • Reciprocal
  • Vary the muscle action after first time through program:
    • Isometric
    • Concentric
    • Eccentric
  • Achieve mastery before progressing to next step

Compatible Components (How it fits with other training components):

  • Starts and Acceleration
  • Basic Technique & Skill Development
  • Plyo’s – In-place & Short Response
  • Extensive Tempo Endurance
  • Mobility

The Workout:

  • Get it right the first time
  • Expect Success – Teach routine- Good Habits
  • “Total Involvement” – Rest is “active”
  • Everything MUST be in pursuit of the goal of that workout and the program overall
  • Focus on “Need to do” exercises, eliminate the nice to do

Program Planning & Design:

  • A sound well-developed plan allows you to know where you are at all times.
  • Six week block or two six weeks blocks depending on:
    • Training age
    • Level of development
    • Gender
    • Sport
  • Recycle “Foundation Strength” during the training year as needed
  • Progression from year to year throughout a career
  • No need to start at step one each subsequent training year


  • Testing = Training and Training = Testing
  • Landmark Workouts
  • Leg Circuit Test
  • Dumbbell Complex Challenge


Coach Nick Garcia & the Athletes at Notre Dame High School, Sherman Oaks, California

Kristen Batt & Meagan Wallin (Pro Beach Volleyball Players) who have lived this program the last four years

Venice Girls Volleyball 2008 -10, Venice High School, Venice, Florida

University of Michigan Womens Swimming, Harvard University Womens Swimming, Kenyon College Mens and Womens Swimming & Carmel Swim Club

References/Suggested Readings

Bosch, Frans., and Klomp, Ronald. Running- Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology Applied in Practice. London. Elsevier Churchill Livingstone. 2005

Cardinale, Marco. Newton, Robert. And Nosaka, Kazunri. Strength and Conditioning- Biological Principles and Practical Application. Wiley-Blackwell. 2011

Cometti, Gilles. el entrenamiento de la velocidad. Barcalona, Spain. Editorial Paidotribo. 2002

Cometti, Gilles. La Preparacion Fisica En El Baloncesto. Barcelona, Spain. Editorial Paidotribo. 2002

Curwin, Sandra. & Stanish, William D. M.D. and Mandel, Scott. Tendinitis: it’s Etiology and Treatment, New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Gambetta, Vernon A. The Gambetta Method- A Common Sense Guide To Functional Training for Athletic Perfromance. Sarasota, FL: Gambetta Sports Training.2002

Gambetta, Vernon A. Athletic Development- The Art & Science of Functional Sports Conditioning. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishing Company. 2007

Issurin, Valdimir. Principles and Basics of Advanced Athletic Training. Ultimate Athlete Concepts. Michigan, USA. 2008

John, Dan and Tsatsouline, Pavel. Easy Strength- How to Get a lot stronger than your competition and dominate in your sport. St. Paul, MN. Dragon Door Publications, 2011

Komi, P. V., Editor,(Second Edition) Strength and Power In Sport, London: Blackwell Scientific Publications. 2003

Lederman, Eyal. Neuromuscular Rehabilitation in Manual and Physical Therapies- Principles to Practice, Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone- Elsevier. 2010

Murer, Kurt and Bucher, Walter. 1000 exercises d’athletisme. Paris France. Vigot. 1985

Olbrecht, Jan. The Science of Winning- Planning, Periodizing and Optimizing Swim Training. Swim Shop, Luton, England. 2000

Radcliffe, James C. Functional Training For Athletes At Levels- Workouts For Agility, Speed And Power. Oakland, California. Ulysses Press. 2007

Scholich, Manfred. (1986) Circuit Training. Berlin: Sportverlag

Starzynski, Tadeusz. And Sozanski, Henryk. (1999) Explosive Power and Jumping Ability for all Sports. Island Pond, VT: Stadion Publishing Company.

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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