Working with a client to increase their athletic performance is a rewarding experience. The reality is that anyone can benefit from performance training and there are many different types of athletes. An athlete can be a competitive player looking to elevate their game, a youth soccer player, a mom training for her first triathlon, a retiree trying to improve his distance on the golf course, or the professional athlete coming back from rehab and looking to get back into peak shape.
NASM’s Performance Enhancement Specialization (PES) is a proven system that allows you to work with any type of athlete, at any level. The PES utilizes the NASM Optimum Performance Training™ (OPT™) model to progressively level up the athlete’s training using an integrated training program. The PES utilizes the OPT model’s three progressive levels, stabilization, strength, and power, divided into six distinct phases. The PES pyramid extends beyond the traditional OPT model with the addition of a training phase specific to high-level athletes and their sports performance demands.
In the PES you will learn how to thoroughly assess a client’s performance needs and capabilities. Assessments include measuring strength, power, speed, agility, and quickness, but also less tested but equally important metrics like core strength, dynamic balance, and overall movement quality. A training program is only as good as the assessment and with the PES you’ll have the tools necessary to evaluate the athlete and determine the best starting point.
You’ll know the appropriate level and phase of the OPT model to use to enhance their training and improve their performance results. For example, if the athlete exhibits movement compensations, such as the knee moving inwards when squatting or jumping, you’ll have the tools necessary to help them eliminate this issue and the potential injuries it could lead to.
Consider when an athlete is coming back from an injury and is now cleared to return to training. Starting at the stabilization level with Phase 1 Stabilization Endurance training would be ideal. Here the client works on improving any muscle imbalances, refining exercise technique, increasing postural control, and preparing the body for higher levels of intensity. After completing this phase the athlete would be ready for the strength level.
The strength level comprises three phases: strength endurance, hypertrophy, and maximal strength. Phase 2 Strength Endurance is a hybrid form of training that promotes increased stabilization and endurance plus the muscular strength of the prime movers. In Phase 3 Hypertrophy the focus is on muscle growth and the athlete trains with more volume. As the name implies, Phase 4 Maximal Strength is all about increasing the load placed on the body with the goal of increasing rate of force production and motor unit synchronization. Of course, Phases 3 and 4 are uniquely focused performance goals, so not all athletes will need to train in these phases.
After completing the stabilization and strength levels, the athlete will be fully prepared to handle the intense demands of training at the power level. This level has two parts, Phase 5 Power Training and Phase 6 Maximal Power Training. In Phase 5 the athlete completes a superset of a strength exercise immediately followed by an explosive power exercise. For example, they would complete a set of five barbell squats followed by 10 repetitions of box jumps. This combination first works on increasing the force side of the power equation (Power = force x velocity) with the heavy loads and then the velocity side of the equation with the explosive movements.
Phase 6 Maximal Power is used as a specialized form of training that utilizes lighter loads accelerated through the entire range of motion. This phase focuses on high-velocity training to further increase power. Examples of exercises used in the phase would be: squat jumps, plyometric push-ups, medicine ball slams, and overhead medicine ball throws.
By completing NASM’s Performance Enhancement Specialization program you’ll have the tools necessary to help any athlete reach their performance goals. See how you can set your athletes up for long-term success and eliminate performance plateaus by following an evidence-based periodized program with the NASM PES.