Manual Resistance Training For Large Groups

Manual Resistance Training Benefits

As a strength coach for a sport team, there are a few things we’re always short on: time, space, and equipment.  Over time I’ve found that one method of training has made it incredibly easy for us to add variety and intensity to our programs while combating these constraints: manual resistance training. Manual resistance exercises are the use of a person being the “implement” to give the resistance component to the muscle, rather than a traditional piece of equipment.  In my career as a strength coach, I’ve used this style of training to work with populations from five year old kids, to wrestlers at the Olympic Training Center.  Regardless of skill level, manual resistance exercises have allowed us to provide the following benefits to our athletes and program:

  1. Perform an unlimited variety of exercises with little to no equipment
  2. Work with large groups quickly and easily in a multitude of environments
  3. Hit both the eccentric and concentric portions of a lift, and vary both of these
  4. Train both isotonic and isometric movements
  5. Hit any major muscle group
  6. They’re very safe to perform with little supervision

In the case of our football team, we often perform these exercises out on the field or in the gymnasium.  We’re under significant time constraints from the NCAA all season long, and our manual resistance routines help us maximize our time with our athletes. Others may argue that manual resistance may not be as effective, controllable, or measurable as traditional weight training.  However I’d contend that in most cases, our bodies are simply after the adaptation that comes with the resistance or stress.

Upper Body Manual Resistance Exercises

These below movements hit several of the major muscle groups of the upper body.  They can be used as the main workout if your weight room is full or understaffed, or in a supplementary role to your core exercises. Additionally, these movements can be used for any team from youth levels to professionals.  Incorporate these movements in your next team workout. You’ll be surprised by how difficult and effective these exercises can be when done well!

Front Raise

  • Choose a partner and face them
  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
  • Grab your partners hand
  • Place one hand over another and cup your palms facing down
  • As you raise your hands up, your partner should be trying to push them down—creating resistance
  • The goal is to raise both arms up to eye level
  • Both partners need to use the right amount of resistance

Lateral Raise

  • Stand with legs shoulder width apart
  • Have arms by side
  • Have your partner stand behind you
  • Raise your arms up shoulder level
  • Your partner should be adding resistance to your arm lift
  • Bring arms up and down

Seated Press

  • Sit on the floor with legs straight out in front of you
  • Lift arms with elbows being at your side
  • Your partner should be standing behind you
  • Lift your arms up while your partner presses down on them with resistance

Upright Row

  • You need a prop—either a large towel, or a rope
  • One person should be standing while your partner is on his/her knees facing each other
  • The standing partner bend the elbows and lift the rope while the partner resists and pulls against the rope
  • Get your elbows high up as possible
  • Your partner will pull the rope down

Bicep Curl

  • Reverse arms upward from the previous upward row exercise
  • With elbows at your side, curl arms upward, still aiming to pull rope up
  • Pull up on the rope while your partner adds resistance

Tricep Extension

  • Person one lays flat on the ground on his/her stomach
  • Elbows should be tight by the side of the body and by the ears
  • Partner hands the rope to the designated person on the ground
  • Your partner should be pulling the rope so that your arms lift to your ears while elbows stay on the ground

By layering these exercises into your large group training, you will allow your athletes to accumulate greater training volume in shorter amounts of time. These exercises can be replicated with ease on turf, football fields, gyms, etc without the use of equipment.

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