It is 2020, and by now all athletes, sport coaches, and parents should realize there is an importance to Strength & Conditioning Training Programs for all athletes. More and more people are getting excited about discussing and recognizing the importance of training, and for me I think that's totally cool!! Because in order to compete at your highest level, your body must be prepared and physically developed to maximize your physical skill sets as athlete. More and more athletes are training and preparing their bodies during their off season. If you're an athlete who is not training, you are slowly getting left behind as more and more athletes are understanding the advantages of physical athletic performance!
As a Physical Prep Coach, the tricky part to all of this is to provide athletes a product that is very beneficial to them. When athletes take the field, court, or track, often times other variables can mask poor training programs. A couple things that could cause this could be...
I honestly believe that well over 95% of sport coaches, parents, and even the athletes do not know how to decipher if a training program is actually appropriate nor are able to identify the pro's and con's of it as well. And this is the main reason why I am writing this Lifestyle Blog!
I want to break down three different styles of Training Programs that are typically prescribed for athletes to improve in their respective sport(s). These are different general approaches that I tend to see. I'll describe what they look like, and I'll outline the benefits and the drawbacks of each of them. The names that I will be providing for them, is not technically their universal names, just what I (and maybe other coaches) identify them to be called.
1.) The Busy Work Training Program
This is a very popular style of training program among Junior High and High School Athletes. You may see these in health club programs or even be done at the high school as a form of "speed work." These types of programs usually give the athletes a lot of different movement type drills. You may see a lot speed ladders, athletes pulling each other around with bands, and some random cones drills that athletes will be running around. The athletes are usually tired after these types of workouts, they're sweating, and if you were to watch them, it looks like they're getting a lot of work done because you'll see a bunch of movement happening.
The Busy Work Training Programs have been popular for those who just want their athletes doing something. Or sometimes a certain former high level athlete now runs these groups and it attracts athletes in that way. The athletes get tired and a good sweat, so coaches and parents find that appealing. All the while, these workouts provide very limited benefits when trying to increase athletic performance!
2.) The Weights Only Training Program
This training program has been made popular by high school football programs for the last 5 or so decades. And there is a ton of benefits from Strength Training and developing athletic performance! But it's not the end all be all. It's so common to hear the words "hit/hitting the weight room" by coaches, announcers, and athletes in general. And the focus of these training programs are simply to only lift weights for months at a time until it's time to start running just a couple weeks before practice starts.
I'm a huge proponent for making athletes stronger, but these programs are almost always built around the belief that if the weight room max numbers improve, it means their performance on the field will improve. And while yes, getting stronger helps a lot of things, there's so much left on the table that an athlete needs beyond just increased strength levels inside of the weight room.
And while strength training is a beautiful thing in athletic development, too often it is abused and athletes get rushed into too much volume and intensity before they are ready. This happens in the group of coaches that just rely on max out numbers to be the superior objective in the off season weight lifting programs.
I can't tell you how many times that a parent has told me how frustrated they were that their son/daughter went to the high school weight room the first day and they were asked to max out while never touching a weight in their life. Or even more challenging, a similar athlete being asked to perform Hang Cleans and Snatches (highly technical Olympic Lifts) on their first day ever of training. This in of itself serves multiple problems, both short and long term. If you're not connecting the dots right now how this isn't wise, please feel free to reach out to me and we can discuss the limitations for this.
Strength Training is a beautiful thing, but it's not the only thing in building athletic performance. By increasing just strength in the weight room may be great to get stronger, add muscles mass, and building team unity, a host of problems can later arise for athletes. And for the crowd out there that says, hit the weight room and go do speed training for extra work, that also provides it's own drawbacks. We'll cover this more in number 3...
3.) The Holistic Training Program
This type of training program is probably the most unpopular here in America, but a lot of coaches/trainers are now seeing the light! Many other parts of the world have been developing their athletes with this approach for a long time. And they have been taking much smaller populations and still competing with the melting pot of the USA in the Olympics. This is the style of approach that I coach with at my training facility because it delivers that best impact for developing athletes and actually improving their physical performance on the field, court, or track!
This style of training program recognizes many different training abilities. For example, movement quality, strength, power, speed, aerobic conditioning, mobility, and flexibility. And not only are they recognized, but they are all trained together in unison so that these abilities actually help manipulate to help stimulate growth in all facets of training. That's why I call it a "Holistic Training Program" because it's interconnecting all the parts of athletic development, instead of the standard compartmentalized approach of where athletes tend to get passed off from one objective to the other.
So that may seem like a lot to take in. And to be honest, it is. But I want to cover one primary example how this actually applies in real world situations. You know how I said, athletes could do weight room work one day, and do speed training the next (compartmentalized)? This could easily happen in a program where on Mondays, athletes perform heavy squat work, and on Tuesday, they go with the track/speed coach to do speed training work. Even if both days, the programs are done correctly, you'll have heavy interference with the speed training workout due to heavy fatigue from Monday's Squat workouts. And it will cause athletes to run slower, sacrifice mechanics, increase training injury rates, and not maximizing the speed work. If this is done over and over, you could potentially and probably will make an athlete slower, especially if you're dealing with a non beginner athlete!
The Holistic workouts are slower paced. Emphasis on recovery periods, quality of movement, and sub-maximal strength work, could make the workout look slow paced and almost as if the athletes are not trying as hard compared to The Busy Work Training Program. But you'll see various speed work drills, jumping exercises, throwing exercises, possible some Olympic lift variations. You'll also see some Squat, Bench, and Deadlift variations that are focused with technique building the strength, not loading the bar up just because. You'll see some assistance style exercises to build up weak areas and to keep the body "balanced." Conditioning protocols will be in place as well over the course of the week, even if you're months out from training camp. And you will see emphasis on stretching and mobility work too!
It may sound like a lot is going on, and there is a lot of be factored into producing a program like this. It takes many hours and years of coaching to truly understand how all of this fits together in different populations, time of the year, and the types of athletes. Small tweaks can be made to make huge adjustments for different levels and types of athletes!
This is my preferred style of Training Program for athletes to follow. The training is designed for the athlete to physically peak on the field, court, or track and not leave their best performances during training. This help improve their ability to move efficiently, builds speed, power, and strength while not having to rush anything to give these athletes these benefits!
These different style of Training Programs are just different categories that I've created for you so that you can help wrap your head around the different approaches out there. All 3 have their added benefits, and they all have their drawbacks too. The goal for this was to simply educate you on the differences of these styles so that you can have a better understanding of what you may be seeing.
Even though I may be biased following what I call the Holistic Training Program, I do appreciate a constant up-rise towards better developing athletes. I considered this Blog post, my contribution to help further educate athletes, coaches, and parents on the different styles of training approaches that are being used to physically develop athletes. Training is not a one size fits all approach and not all training programs are created equal!