- Everything takes at least three times as long as you think it is going to. It does not matter if it is finding the right space, getting insurance, or getting a website done. If your gut tells you, “this should only take a few weeks”, plan on 2-3 months.
- Nobody cares as much as you do.
- Surround yourself with like minded individuals who are on board with what you are trying to do.
- Be open for advice, but if you have been successful and have a steady, loyal cliental that continues to grow, don’t let anybody tell you that you are doing things the wrong way.
- In addition, be weary of taking advice from those individuals who have never made a living training people. Experience is the best teacher and if you have no experience, in my opinion, you have no say.
1. Don’t be paralyzed by information. There comes a point when you should close the book and turn off the computer and actually train.
2. There is nothing worse than the “I used to ….” lifter. They like to talk about how much they bench pressed, squatted, or whatever years ago and why they cannot do it now. Its kind of lame. I’m just saying.
3. It is easy to make a mountain out of an ant hill when it comes to training. Don’t major in the minors. Train hard but train smart.
4. A few things that most people could use more of are ankle mobility, thoracic mobility and guts. Just an observation.
5. Excuse me, athletes and coaches? It is ok to use exercises that are not mirror images of your actual sports. Get strong in the weight room. It is physical preparation for the sport, not the sport itself.
6. If someone can safely squat to parallel or below and does not in order to stroke their ego with more plates, they are doing themselves a huge disservice. If coaches have their athletes do this…well…shame on them.
7. In the same way that I am not qualified to practice law or teach a math class, Joe Gym Goer is not qualified to call himself a strength and conditioning coach. Have I taken a few math classes in my life? Yes. Am I an expert? Hell no. There is equal parts science and art when it comes to designing a program. The more challenging aspect of the whole thing is actually being able to coach the lifts. These are skills that take years to master.
8. If you are no longer an athlete, yet you still want to be strong and in shape, here is a simple template.
- Lift weights a few times per week. You will get stronger and more muscular, which is better than being fat and weak.
- Breathe hard a few times per week. You will improve your cardiovascular conditioning, which in turn will prevent from getting winded when walking up a flight of stairs or chasing your kids around.
- Stretch more than a few times per week. You will actually be able to move through full ranges of motion which helps when trying to tie your shoes.
- Eat protein, healthy fats, vegetables and fruits. You will improve your body composition, decrease your risk of diabetes, and could probably even avoid that inevitable carbohydrate coma.
Why Do I Train?
- I train because swimming in a pool of mediocrity is not appealing to me.
- I train because I will not be the father of two boys who is too busy to take care of himself. The apples won’t fall far off of the tree. After all, if they see their primary male role model making excuses why he cannot dedicate a few hours per week to better himself, why the hell would they go the extra mile in academics, sports or their career when there is a million excuses to take the easy, comfortable way out?
- I train because I look forward to chasing my kids and their kids around when other guys my age are huffing and puffing, complaining about how everything hurts and how “it’s just part of getting old.”
- I train because exercising is what normal people do.
- I train because there is nothing funny about being weak and lame.
- I train because I am a strength and conditioning coach. Practice what you preach.
- I train because I want to make sure my lower body will never ever fit into those skinny girl jeans that all of the little boys like to wear these days.
- I train because it makes the rest of my life that much easier.
Please take a second to check out The Weight Room’s online brochure. Pass it along to your friends.
Dave Coffin, CSCS, USAW
Owner/Strength and Conditioning Specialist
The Weight Room
Auburndale, MA 02466
Using bodybuilding type training splits
Bodybuilders train to be aesthetically symmetrical statues. Wrestlers train to wrestle (or should). The SAID principle (specific adaptation to imposed demands) applies here. If you are going to be standing on a stage in your underwear, oiled up and judged on how aesthetically pleasing your physique is, train for that. If you are going to be shooting, grabbing, pulling, pushing and moving explosively for six minutes train for that.
Placing too much emphasis on conditioning
I have said this before but it bears repeating. Wrestling is the most specific conditioning for wrestling. Time spent in the weight room should be spent getting stronger and more athletic (think jump, throw and lift weights). I am not saying that no conditioning should be done, but 90% of the training program should not be a conditioning stimulus. Don’t train to get tired, train to get better.
Majoring in the minors
A common question from high school kids is, “What is the best exercise to work on (insert upper chest, lower chest, bicep peak, etc)? Novice trainees do not need much in the way of variety. These young athletes should learn and get strong at the basic lifts. By basic lifts, I mean squat, deadlift, bench press, standing press, and pull ups. As coaches, I think it is important to convey this message to parents and kids. We are not entertaining, we are training. Most of the strength development can be done with a barbell and a squat rack. Most of the other stuff is bells and whistles that are nice to have but not must haves.
Training with respect to weight classes
Increases in max strength and power are neural responses. This means that over time athletes will get more efficient at the lifts and recruit more motor units per effort. This also means that it is possible for wrestlers to stay in their respective weight classes while continuing to get stronger and more powerful, as long as mother nature does not have other plans.
Core training for wrestlers
Core training has become a buzz word in the strength and conditioning world. I know many coaches tend to favor standing core exercises because, according to them, they are more “functional”. I try not to be an all or nothing coach. In the case of wrestlers, they must be strong both in the neutral position as well as on the mat and training programs must reflect this.
As the wrestling season comes to a close for many, I thought I would put together a list of ten considerations for strength and conditioning programming for wrestlers in the off-season.
1. Fundamental exercises such as cleans, squats, deadlifts, presses, pull ups and rows should form the basis for any good strength development program regardless of the sport.
2. Don’t get carried away with turning all of your training into a conditioning stimulus. Long, complete rest periods of 2-3 minutes between heavy sets of lifting are necessary.
3. Wrestling is the most specific form of conditioning for wrestling. This is called specificity. Most good wrestlers are participating in off-season wrestling clubs, travelling to tournaments, etc. It is unlikely that a wrestler will get out of “wrestling shape”. Sprinkle appropriate amounts of conditioning into your strength and conditioning program but don’t over do it. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing.
4. Wrestling is a sport that requires athletes to perform in a fatigued state. This is where strength endurance circuits would be an appropriate training application.
5. Performance enhancement is second only to decreasing the likelihood of injury. According to Grindstaff et al, the most common injuries for wrestlers include ankle sprains, rotator cuff strains, knee collateral ligament sprains, neck strains and contusions. In addition, they suggest that “individuals with decreased strength, balance, proprioception and neuromuscular control at a greater risk for injury”. Fairly obvious stuff, but it is good reinforcement. Basically what this suggests is that weaker wrestlers are at greater risk of injury than their stronger counterparts. Really? Go figure.
6. In addition to the aforementioned exercises, some great injury prevention measures when it comes to exercise selection for wrestlers may also include the development of single leg strength, direct rotator cuff strengthening exercises, direct neck strengthening exercises as well as the development of strong torso musculature.
7. While the basic exercises form the foundation for the program, implementing strongman variations such as farmers walks, sled dragging, keg carrying and tire flipping are great exercises that will have tremendous carry over to sport.
8. Nutrition and recovery is part of the training process. Eating garbage and sleeping four hours per night is hardly optimal for recovery and the fact of the matter is performance will suffer in the gym and on the mat.
9. A successful strength and conditioning program must be designed with all of the athletes other activities taken into account
10. If you placed 5th in the state tournament this year and are hoping for a state championship season next year, preparation does not begin next week, next month or in the summer, it begins now.
- Humans are physically capable of more than they think…a lot more.
- Attitude is everything.
- Wondering when you will reach a 300 lbs bench press when you cannot bench press 150 lbs is a bit ridiculous. You have to walk before you run.
- There are no absolutes. Everything depends on the individual and their set of circumstances.
- Everyone should complete one full season of wrestling in high school. It would just make the rest of their life so much easier.
- Its not that you can’t do it…its that you don’t want to do it bad enough.
- Those who think that lifting weights and breathing heavy is stupid must also think that dealing with illness later in life sounds like a smashing good time. Just saying.
- The reason that the $10 per month gyms are so popular is because there is no level of commitment.
- I have said it before and I will say it again, the goal of strength training is to get strong…not tired.
- Beware of the coach who preaches but does not practice.
- A good friend of mine (who is also a great strength coach) recently told me that he was not authorized to use the TRX straps at his gym until he completed the gym’s TRX certification. Really? Are you kidding me?
- One of the most technically sound squats I have ever seen was performed by my 3 year old son. Fact.
- Does anyone know if there is a law regarding false advertising and food? I just have a stinking suspicion that fruit loops are not “a good source of whole grains”.
- Don’t be one of those people who are always going to start their diet on Monday…live in the now. In addition, make it a lifestyle, not a phase.
- I do not have emotional attachments when it comes to training nor do I buy into the latest and greatest nutrition trends. For training, I use what works best for what I am trying to accomplish. My nutrition goes something like this, eggs, meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, water, fish oil capsules, and a multi-vitamin. When the time is right, I will have some potatoes, oatmeal or good quality bread. I am so sorry but magical drinks extracted from exotic berries from god knows where will not cure diseases, induce weight loss, etc.
In training, just as in life, it is important to find a healthy balance of the most important components. For me, it can sometimes be challenging in life to find just the right amount of time to dedicate to the most important components: my business, my wife, my two boys, pitching in with household duties, etc.
Training is the same. However, finding the correct balance in training more or less depends on an individuals needs and goals at a given time. That is to say that the correct balance is never a simple combination consisting of equal amounts of this or that for an infinite amount of time but rather appropriate amounts of this and that in order to elicit the desired training effects at a particular junction in ones training career while staying healthy in the process. I can say, from experience, that it is usually better to “leave a little in the tank” than to always “run the needle in the red” so to speak. Intentionally incorporating an easy week of training every now and again can go a long way in keeping your engine running on all cylinders.
1. Find a gym that has strong people. If you are costantly surrounded by weak individuals, chances are you will follow suit. It comes down to perspective. Someone who is told day in and day out that a 24kg kettlebell swing is an impressive expression of power should remember this, power is defined as work divided by time. Now tell me which is more impressive, a 24kg kettlebell swing or a 100kg power clean?
2. Do not avoid things that you suck at. There is only one way to get better at squatting….squat. Don’t be one of those guys (or girls) who complains that their conditioning sucks but never drags a sled or complains that their deadlift is weak but never deadlifts.
3. Training is a cause and effect relationship. The training is the cause and the increases in strength, power, endurance, flexibility, etc are the effect. The effect typically does not happen without adequate recovery. This includes sufficient amounts of sleep, enough raw materials (aka calories) to support your training, and listening to your body throughout the training process. Be sure to respect both sides of this relationship.
4. Playing basketball, playing soccer, jogging, climbing up and down a ladder and similar activies do not count as lower body training. If you elminate squatting, deadlifting, and lunging variations in the gym because the aformentioned activities are a strength stimulus for you, than you are the bottom of the food chain and are putting yourself at greater risk of orthopedic injuries.
5. I would recommend not training to failure, for a couple of reasons, but the most important being the last handful of reps of a set to failure will look atrocious and this is not a good thing. Remember, quality over quantity.
6. Be consistent. Train hard and smart for a long time.
7. Don’t skimp on the warm up. It is the preparation for the training session ahead. In addition, be sure the warm up actually…you know….gets you warm.
8. Don’t major in the minors. If you cannot complete 10 perfect pull ups, you have bigger concerns than which bicep curl variation will build the biggest peak.
9. Being an all or nothing type coach is short sighted and a disservice to athletes and clients you are working with. What I mean is, don’t be a coach who uses only one tool or one exercise. The most popular version of these culprits I can think of are the kettlebell only coaches. Sorry to break it to you, but kettlebells are a tool. Notice I said A TOOL not THE ONLY TOOL.
10. Trying to cram as many exercises as possible into a training session illustrates the fact that you are writing workouts not programs. Most of the time, four exercises done well are better than 10 exercises done half assed with terrible form. It is our job as coaches and trainers to make our trainees understand that training is a process.
While the internet is an extremely useful and efficient way to get information, it is also a haven for fakes and phonies who have not spent a sufficient amount of time “in the trenches” to call themselves an expert. Sorry kids, but posting a video on youtube of the new exercise you learned trolling the internet hardly qualifies you to call yourself an expert. Although I regularly cook dinner for my family, I will not be approaching the Food Network any time soon for my own show because I am far from an expert in culinary arts. Although I can follow a recipe or “wing it” in the kitchen, to be one of the best at anything usually entails some type of academic preparation as well as tons of practical experience (we are talking years) before you even think about calling yourself an expert.
With all this being said, here are ten things that I believe make a good strength and conditioning coach.
- Good coaches know the secret is in the chef, not the ingredients. Just because you know what movements and exercises other coaches are using does not mean you can coach them. There is an art to knowing how much of this and how much of that to put onto the training plate to make all of the ingredients blend…and it takes years to perfect.
- Good coaches know that they must be able to competently demonstrate anything they expect their athletes or clients to do. If you cannot demo it, do not prescribe it…it just makes you look foolish when you are stumbling over your own words and making up every excuse in the book why are unable to execute it.
- Good coaches do not write workouts, they write programs. They do not think on a daily basis, but a weekly, monthly and yearly basis. Training is a process and it is important to always see the bigger picture.
- Good coaches know the training process goes something like this: evaluate the trainee, design the program, implement the stimulus, recover, and repeat. In addition, the evaluation process is ongoing because that is part of coaching.
- Good coaches know that you should not train through an injury, but around it.
- Good coaches know that it is important to teach people to auto regulate. This allows trainees to understand that they will not always have their best day in the gym every day…and that’s ok.
- Good coaches understand that four weeks to ripped abs is $19.95 worth of garbage. Using a two week crash diet (aka starvation) and running yourself into the ground is not training. Training is a process based on logical progression. Anyone ever heard of the word commitment?
- Good coaches know that a strength training session does not need to make you tired or induce vomiting to be effective. Stimulate don’t annihilate. Conditioning is a different story altogether.
- Good coaches know how to communicate effectively. They will have an arsenal of cues, both audible and visual, in order to accomplish the task at hand and get any trainee to be successful.
- Good coaches know that squats are not bad for your knees, deadlifts are not bad for your back, and military presses are not bad for your shoulders. There are not bad exercises. There are exercises that are bad for some trainees due to factors such as orthopedic issues, training history, etc.