One of the most difficult challenges that team-sport coaches are faced with is developing an effective training program that maximizes conditioning and strength/power development in their athletes. Further, getting both fitness and neuromuscular qualities to peak congruently for competition is extremely hard to do. The reason why this is such a challenging task is because when performed concurrently, strength/power training and conditioning work stimulate completely different adaptations in the body. It’s often shown in concurrent training studies that fitness can be increased with concurrent training but typically to the detriment of power, particularly in highly trained individuals. This is less of a concern in athletes with younger training ages since their capacity for improvement is so high (i.e., they are weak and unfit relative to advanced athletes). Strategies to limit the interference from conditioning work largely pertain to separating training sessions by a minimum of 4 hours.
New research published in Science and Medicine in Football (a biannual supplement edition in the Journal of Sports Sciences) may offer some novel insight on power maintenance during pre-season conditioning training. Twenty-three professional male soccer players participated in the study and were divided into two groups: a jump squat group and a half squat group. Before and after a 4-week preseason period, athletes were tested for mean propulsive power, vertical jump height and sprinting speed. A total of 10 resistance training sessions for the intervention were performed in addition to the high volume of practice and conditioning sessions. The optimum power load was used for the half squat/jump squat workouts. The results showed that both training groups experienced decrements in jump squat and half squat power (interference effect). However, jump squat training reduced acceleration decrements over 0-5 meters more effectively than half squat training. However, strangely enough, half squat training improved jump squat height considerably more than jump squat training (ES = 0.76 vs. 0.11, respectively).
Based on these results, it would appear that both exercises can be useful in mitigating the interference effects of concurrent training in highly trained professional athletes. Losses of power related qualities such as short distance sprinting and jumping can be costly in competition. Therefore, attenuating losses in power generating capacities can most definitely impact competition outcomes. In a sport like soccer where resistance training is often put on the backburner in favor of fitness, coaches are encouraged not to neglect strength and power training during the pre-season. Performing a couple workouts per week concentrating on moving the bar as fast as possible in lower body movements (such as the ones used in the current study) can be helpful in preventing power losses leading up to competition.
Loturco, I., Pereira, L. A., Kobal, R., Zanetti, V., Gil, S., Kitamura, K., … & Nakamura, F. Y. (2015). Half-squat or jump squat training under optimum power load conditions to counteract power and speed decrements in Brazilian elite soccer players during the preseason. Journal of Sports Sciences, (ahead-of-print), 1-10.