Today in the strength and conditioning field there are as many ways to train athletes as there are different ways to run a football or basketball team. Being around collegiate athletics for almost 10 years I have seen hundreds of different strength and conditioning programs for virtually every sport.
Some programs incorporate Olympic Lifting; some use just free weights, while others use strictly machines. For the high school or even a small collegiate coach, the variety out there regarding strength and conditioning programs can not only be very confusing but also very hard to adapt to one’s setting.
There’s only one way to train for results. There is only one way to train, and I think every strength and conditioning coach will agree that is very hard. No matter what philosophy one may adhere to, it is the intensity and the matter at which the athletes are trained that makes a workout effective, not just because Big Time University uses the program.
Proper overload is the key. Physiology tells us that our bodies will only grow due to one thing and that is overload. There are only two ways to produce overload in a strength and conditioning program:
- Do more reps
- Use more weight
These are the ingredients that your strength and conditioning program needs to be built upon. I have had high school coaches say they are using the program sent to them by “such and such” university but they are unhappy with the way things have turned out. Some of the athletes are seeing good results while the rest have seen very little or none at all.
My first question in response is how hard are you making the athletes work? Nine out of ten times the response is well pretty hard. When I hear this, it tells me that either the coach has no idea what hard is, or that they don¹t truly understand the program and thus are not getting the results they want.
It’s how hard you train, and not what program you train with. Every time a coach asks me to send them a program I say no. I tell them to come to the weight room, observe how hard the athletes work, and then I will give them a program.
Just giving that coach a sheet of paper with exercises and repetition schemes doesn’t do any strength program justice. Unless you see how the workout needs to be performed, you will never get the feeling of how hard your workouts should be performed.
Go hard, or go home! So remember it is not what exercises or programs you use that will produce results, it is how hard you those exercises or that program that counts. As coaches we need to go out and observe others to better ourselves. I am always looking for new ideas, but I am a hands-on person so I will ask to observe these new ideas.
Most collegiate and professional strength coaches are happy to let you observe what they do and how they do it. Matter of fact they encourage coaches to observe because it boosts they own program and can be used as a recruiting tool later down the road. Train smarter by training harder.
Don’t assume as a coach that you know how things are done, even as a strength and conditioning professional I still don’t have all the answers. It is a constant learning process, and I encourage all coaches to keep this in mind.