I had a visit from one of my former athletes the other day, now himself a high school strength and conditioning coach. He had lots of questions:
What are we doing for assessments?
My answer was “when in doubt think strength and conditioning”.
What do we do for corrective exercise?
My answer again was “when in doubt think strength and conditioning”.
What do we do for our aerobic base work or cardiac output training?
My answer was “when in doubt think strength and conditioning” for a third time.
As I listened, I thought to myself maybe he has a small case of internet overdose. What is the antidote for an internet overdose? I would prescribe a large dose of simplicity.
As we continued to talk, the same answer just kept coming to mind. “When in doubt, think strength and conditioning”. When you evaluate your program, ask yourself “am I doing a good job with strength and conditioning?” Ask yourself why you were hired.
Remember, the simplest, most fundamental part of our job is to get people stronger. We can debate what defines stronger , we can debate what exercises we need to get stronger at but, what we can't debate is the idea that a stronger athlete is generally a better athlete, particularly in the first few years.
I can't tell you how many times I have written the word KISS in response to an on-line question. KISS is an acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid. There are two things that we know always work, getting stronger and getting in better shape.
In my second book I wrote that a bad program done well is far better than a good program done poorly. These days I find myself constantly simplifying, getting more basic. My programs probably look worse to an outsider. I now try to pick simple exercises that are easy to teach to large groups of inexperienced athletes or, I try to think of really good ways to teach more complicated exercises to these same inexperienced athletes.
There are magical exercise like goblet squats and reaching straight leg deadlifts that make thing easier but, often we are working hard at making things more complicated rather than making them more simple.
As I struggle with the same questions that my young coach asked I keep coming back to “when in doubt, think strength and conditioning”. Nothing works better than getting athletes stronger and getting them in better shape.
Athletes need to lift progressively heavier weights with technique that progressively improves.
A simple formula? They need to try to go up 5 pounds a week and keep technique perfect. They need to jump onto and over things, run sprints and run intervals. Nothing fancy, just the simple process of trying to hit singles. We don't need to hit a home run every time we bat, we just need to hit a single.
I think back to a great Dan John quote. The goal is to keep the goal the goal. I love the thought process, it is so complicatedly simple. Don't lose site of your goals. We are not physical therapists but, we can help prevent injuries. We are not corrective exercise specialists yet we can often make people feel better. We are, strength and conditioning coaches. If we start to take our eye off the ball we need to think “strength and conditioning”.
If you are confused about your strength program take a tip from Yvonne Ward and push, pull and do something for your legs? If you are confused about conditioning try this. Take ten minutes of intervals and call me in the morning. Strength training is as simple as above. Confused about progression? Add some weight to the exercises and add one more interval. It's that simple.
If someone told me they were going to do the following I would be psyched:
Bench Press 3x5
Chinup 3x8 weighted if possible
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats 3x8 ea leg
1 Leg Straight Leg Deadlift 3x8 ea. leg
Stability Ball Rollouts 3x20
This little circuit can last a lifetime. Finish with some 30 sec intervals in your method of choice and you have a great program. Slideboard, bike, run, row? Doesn't matter, just do it hard.
I know, I know, what about warm-up, stretching etc. etc.. Hey, if you have more time, do more but if you are confused or pressed for time get back to basics and think strength and conditioning. I'd love for you to roll for five minutes, then stretch for five minutes and then do a dynamic warm-up but I also know that the big bang for the buck comes from getting stronger and getting in better shape.
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