Building a Champion one Phase at a time: I

24-7 and partner Chad Ikei of Ikei Performance would like to present the first of many articles that hopefully can be used by Arizona athletes to help improve performance on the field

This is the first installment of a 4 part series on our unique and proven system for producing the very best athletes.


Four Phase Approach for Elite Athletes

Phase 1: Structural Phase

Phase 2: Functional Hypertrophy

Phase 3: Maximal Strength

Phase 4: Power


In this first installment we will be focusing on the introduction phase (Phase 1) of our program, the Structural Phase.  A sample Lower Body Program will be introduced with proper exercise technique for you to put to use immediately.  Prepare yourself for the next level of training and the highest level of success.


Phase 1:  Structural Phase 

Initially, an evaluation of the individual athlete is performed to determine their strengths, weakness and structural imbalances of their body. It is very common in most athletes to find weaknesses with shoulder (rotator cuff) & hip extensor strength, flexibility, ankle stability, knee traction, and upper back posture. After the assessment is performed and the athlete's performance goals determined, along with body composition and history of strength training, an individualized three week program is developed focusing on improving the weakest links. By doing so, we are able to minimize the injuries associated with that particular weak link. You may have heard the saying, "You are only as strong as your weakest link", well this applies quite well to the realm of sports performance and strength training, therefore it is important to bring those weak links up to par in the initial phase.


The Structural Phase is also the time to establish a base of conditioning and to maximize the athletes work capacity.  It is common that every athlete that joins our program are either de-conditioned or what we call "out of shape" to our standards.  It happens every time, the athlete claims to be ready for our program and that they have been training hard, but after the first day of training under the IKEI PERFORMANCE system they walk away wiped out and saying to our coaches:  "I can't believe how out of shape I really am, I thought I was working hard but after training with you guys today it's a whole new level of hard work!"  However, after 3 weeks of training in the Structural Phase the athlete's ability to tolerate repeated bouts of work with great intensity is maximized.


Basic Guidelines

Before we introduce the program, it is important to go over some basic IKEI PERFORMANCE principles that will intensify and maximize your training. 

1.                  Tempo:  Tempo is described as the speed of a repetition during the execution of an exercise in seconds.  For simplicity let's use the pull-up as an example.  Every time the weight is lowered against gravity (lowering your body weight) it is represented by the first number (5-0-1-0), when a movement requires a pause between the lowering of the weight & lifting of the weight (pause at arms stretched out) it is represented by the second number (5-0-1-0), lifting the weight against gravity (pulling your chin up above the bar) is represented by the third number (5-0-1-0), and when a movement requires a pause between the lifting of the weight & lowering of the weight (pause with chin above the bar) it is represented by the fourth number (5-0-1-0).

2.                  Rest:  Rest is specific to the training phase and goals, stick to the designated rest period, DO NOT MILK THE REST PERIOD – BE A CHAMPION AND MAKE YOURSELF WORK HARD, and get a stopwatch.

3.                  Sets:  The number of sets is determined by the specificity of goals alongside number of repetitions.

4.                  Repetition:  The number of repetitions (reps) per exercise/set is once again determined by the phase of training.


An individualized Program

This program is focused on improving hip extensor strength (lower back, glutes and hamstrings).  Please note that the workout below is only 1 of 2 lower body programs our athletes perform in the weight room during the week and the entire program changes every 3 weeks.  Our athletes will also be performing 2-4 days of energy system training through sprinting, agility drills, stadium stairs or strongman training to name a few, to enhance lower body conditioning and speed.


A1)      Paused Bulgarian Db Split Squat – back foot on bench

Tempo = 3-5-1-0, rest = 60 sec, sets = 3 sets, reps 6-8 reps

A2)      1 ¼ Lying Leg Curl – toes inward

Tempo = 5-0-1-0, rest = 60 sec, sets = 3 sets, reps 8-10 reps


B1)      High Box Db Step-up

Tempo = 2-0-1-0, rest = 60 sec, sets = 3 sets, reps 12-15 reps

B2)      Romanian Deadlift

Tempo = 5-0-1-0, rest = 60 sec, sets = 3 sets, reps 8-10 reps


C)        Single Leg Supine Hip Extension on Ball

Tempo = 2-0-1-8, rest = 60 sec, sets = 3 sets, reps 6-8 reps


Click link for footage of exercises


Note:  The above exercises that are paired with an A1/A2 represents performing one exercise (A1) followed by the second exercise (A2) with the designated rest interval between each exercise.  For more information on training programs, log onto or email questions to  Our next installment will cover Phase 2: Functional Hypertrophy.

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