Early in my training career I used to confuse time and effort with productivity. Every training session would last hours. Every set would extend well into the double digits. Every workout concluded in a sweaty mess sometimes crawling out of the weight room. For those that have heard me speak or read my book you will hear me say that my greatest genetic gift was my ability to endure without significant injuries. Maybe it was a blessing. Maybe it was a curse. But that ability afforded me time to experiment with my training.
I’ve incorporated progressive movements, isometronic, myometric, wave loading, cluster sets, drop sets, and a whole lot of other protocols to break a plateau or the monotony of training. Despite all the complex loading methods, I’ve always found that the simplest methods often produce the greatest results. So here are three tips for your training:
MASTER THE FOUNDATIONS: Squat, Deadlift (or Hinge), Bench, Pull Ups, and Core Bracing. If you’re into the Olympic lifts, you might substitute cleans for deadlift and jerks for bench. It doesn’t really matter. Figure out the fundamental movements before advancing your loading protocol.
KEEP THE PROGRAMMING SIMPLE: There’s a lot of great training methodology out there, but all the fancy loading schemes that work still follow one simple principle: progressive loading. If you want to get strong, lift a little more during each training session. I tell my clients that when you’re focused on strength, the last rep of the last set should be very challenging. When yo
u’re focused on power development, the velocity of the bar should stay high. That means that the last rep of the last set should move almost as fast as the first rep. When you’re training for endurance and vanity, I suggest one or two sets of as many reps as possible at whatever weight you can handle safely.
MAKE SURE THE PROGRAM FITS THE GOALS: You can train for strength, power, speed, endurance and vanity. Young athletes will likely derive benefits from any type of training. For example a 13 year old football player may benefit from a program that improves his overall endurance. However, in a short period of time that athlete will fail to benefit from a program that stresses volume, because it’s not aligned with his training goals. A hard workout does not mean it’s a good workout. Burpees for an hour is hard, but what athlete benefits from that?
In recent years I’ve seen more young athletes engage in Olympic lifting programs through various Crossfit boxes. There are many good personal trainers and a few great coaches working with Crossfit. While training for fitness with Olympic lifts can improve your on-field performance, Crossfit has evolved into a highly specialized training program to determine the “fittest” human on the planet. A traditional crossfit program, a WOD, or a named workout is NOT performance training for your sport. Eventually, you will fail to improve, expose yourself to unnecessary injuries, and struggle to understand why you’re not continuing to improve on the field as your Fran time drops. The same holds true with strongman training, powerlifting, and even Olympic lifting programs. The “best” programs for athletes will include elements of all the specialized lifting programs as well as appropriate movement and conditioning drills. They are intentional with effort to produce the desired results.
Keep those three principles in mind and you too can achieve gold medal performances.