When you begin to put together a plan for anyone, there are many factors.  For instance, what are his/her external stress levels, training availability, diet, rookie vs. veteran, weaknesses, and so on.  We can go on forever here, so let’s look at who we are going to be breaking down in this article, Jake Ceresna.

Jake is an NFL Defensive Lineman in the first year of his contract fresh off 2 stellar seasons in the Canadian Football League.  He is 6’5 weighing in around 295-300lbs with only 10% body fat. His best lifts include a Bench (455), Box Squat (585), and Deadlift (650). He is also an athlete who loves lifting and pushing his maximal lifts. Putting all of this in consideration, we made a list of needs to focus on for the 5 weeks we had him prior to camp.

The level of importance isn’t in any order:

  1. Improving Ankle Mobility and Blood Flow
  2. Low Back Strength (Posterior Chain)
  3. Variations to All Primary Lifts (Bands, Chain, Bars, Box Height)
  4. Weak Point Strength (Neck, Wrist, Abdominals)

When creating a plan to train optimally the key is all about controlling stress levels. In my opinion this is the number one job of any coach whether its training high school athletes, adults, or professional athletes. There are 3 main concerns to focus on and that’s volume control, NO FAILED REPS, and what I call ‘The Carry Over Affect”.

Let’s look more into volume control, this is simple, 3 to 5 sets of 1 will not get your sore like 3 to 5 sets of 5-10. When planning out Jake’s primary lifts, we knew we had to keep the volume low as he must be explosive and agile for skill training which is very hard to do with blown legs. We wanted him to train with Maximal Intent, so performing 3 to 5 sets of 1 near 80% – 90% with different bars and accommodating resistance still kept the stimulus high. Our lower body endurance included sled pulls and belt squats, which created blood flow but no real soreness.

An Inside Look at Jake Ceresna's 5 Week Pre-Season Max Effort Lower Sessions

Second, the theory of NO FAILED REPS is by far one of the most important stress factors any coach can manage. Jake’s Maximal Effort strength is by far enough to be one of the strongest guys currently in a Giants uniform.  As a coach ask yourself is getting him to a 475lb bench press going to improve his game on the field, most likely “NO”.  Our goal for every training session was to hit a solid single leaving some gas in the tank, and leaving the gym feeling great.

Lastly, “The Carry Over Affect” is a combination of the first two. We must remember Jake is not a strength athlete, as mentioned earlier, he must run, cut, and jump so keeping his body prepared to perform these movements at a high level is our goal.  One way to control stress levels is instead of giving him barbell RDL’s for 4×10 or glute hamstring raise’s which would get him extremely sore, we did sled good mornings with the neck harness to get whole posterior chain working together from the neck down without causing too much systemic fatigue.

As a coach if you can continually think about the cause and long-term effect of each movement than it will make your job much easier and more beneficial for your clients.

An Inside Look at Jake Ceresna's 5 Week Pre-Season Max Effort Lower Sessions

When training OPTIMALLY our #1 objective is to stimulate not annihilate! 

Best of luck to Jake this year with the NY GIANTS!

In Strength,
Mike Capriglione

P.S.  If you’re interested in training with TeamVH at Varsity House Gym reply to this email and we’ll get you set up and ready to go!