Best Practices

Practical Strength for Trainers

The Coaches here come from a diverse group: Self Coached Athletes, Olympic Lifting Coaches, Strongmen, Highland Game athletes, Powerlifters, Martial Artists etc. but we all have found common themes in our practice and what we see in other successful coaches. Can you answer these questions regarding your own training?

Good coaching includes simple assessment tools to see if the athlete is ready to train. Are they broken, is the athlete in pain, are they capable of using the tools you plan to use? Can they hit the positions? Can they go long before they go fast?

What are your weaknesses? What holds you back?

Goals and Measurement:
Training without a Goal is Not’s exercise. You must have a Goal. This Goals must be measurable and specific. You must track the progress. The key to motivation is is identifying your Visual Signs of Progress. If the athlete is not progressing in someway, he/she will eventually quit

A training journal is an absolute requirement for beginners to fairly advanced athletes. Periodic review of your training journal will reveal a great deal about how you respond to your own training plan.

What is your goal? How do you measure progress?


You Must build a Base in whatever your sport is. Base is Not GPP. Base is where you put the bulk of your energy in training time. Base training is specific:

Runners Run
Weightlifters Lift
Wrestlers Wrestle
Throwers Throw

What is the Base in your sport?

Loose Tolerances:

Good Coaches know that the plan cannot anticipate all the variables that life throws at a trainee. Good coaches adjust on the fly, experienced athletes have learned to do this through Autoregulation.

What do you do with a bad day, stale progress, injury?

Training is Learning new Skills:

Each individual has a finite amount of learning he or she can do in given period of time. As the individual progresses, training & recovery must progress. Good coaches can listen and adjust training and recovery accordingly. This is essential to Autoregulation, and is a key component of the successful athlete.

Activities which are CNS intensive (stressful) will place greater learning stress on the athlete and will limit recovery. CNS activities can include overt and covert stressors. Technical Drills, Maximum Effort attempts, high emotional arousal from competing or setting PR’s are all CNS intensive.

What is the mostly costly training activity in terms of recovery for your practice?

There are no Bad Training Tools/Modalities only poor applications:

There are many ways to squat, many ways to pull, and many types of presses. There are machines, kettlebell, medicine balls, bands and chains, rock, iron and steel.

There are no magic set/ reps schemes, mileage requirements, or interval templates. Any or all may have a place. The key is to find the ones that suits the athletes and their goals. The coach must know how to work the tools.

What tools do you rely on most of the time? Why?

Simple works better:

Good coaches use the simplest progression, the least complicated tools and the most basic progression for as long as possible. Squat Press Pull Carry.

When in doubt go back to the basics, when stuck, look at what you can remove. If you can’t explain exactly why you are doing something, stop doing it.

Most general fitness trainees can make progress for years without anything more complex than a few basic exercises, light conditioning and a recovery routine.

If you could only train with one tool for your sport, what would it be?

Programming is simple:

When you focus on the individual, programming becomes very simple. Do not make generalizations. There are no weekend warriors, soccer moms, track athletes, football players, runners.: there are Individuals with Weaknesses, Strengths and Goals. Achieving those goals requires a focused plan/program.

All successful programming whether simple (getting Dad off the couch) or complex, (prepping a discus thrower for Pan-Ams) is the same. It is organizing training around the interplay between the Stress (Volume /Intensity / Life) and Recovery.

All athletes use some form of Autoregulation to decide when to push and when to back off. Whether this is overt (using Rates of Perceived Exertion) or simply listening to their body and deciding when to back off, autoregulation is the key to continuing to adapt after years of training for the same sport. Those who fail to listen to their bodies will eventually fail. 4/5ths is faster than all out.

Can you summarize your programming philosophy on a 3×5 card?

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