Strength training is not just about lifting weights or building muscle—it is a systematic and purposeful approach to developing strength, power, and endurance. It is a discipline that demands careful planning, strategic progression, and a deep understanding of the human body's capabilities and adaptations.
When structuring training cycles, it is important to first identify the goal. Then work backwards, factoring in adaptation, prehab, rehab, assessment and strength phases, as well as power if needed.
Starting with a client or athlete, it is important to do a mobility assessment. There is a home mobility program available on my website that can help identify areas of need. Capacity tests (e.g. single leg glute hip lift and solo soleus/gastroc calf raise) should be performed, as well as looking at single leg work, balance, and loading through the leg. Additionally, a standing jump or squat jump, countermove jump, and a push-up test to 60 RPM can be used to assess strength and core stability.
Writing workouts is a combination of exercise science and personal experience. Taking a basic course provides the framework, but continually learning and experimenting is key to master the art of writing good programs. Have a system and don't be afraid to make mistakes while learning.
Zoom has been a great platform for training people remotely due to Covid-19. The positive thing that I learned about training people remotely is to hone in on the assessment process, watch them move, ask the right questions and learn how they learn. Although seeing somebody in person is invaluable, you can still do a lot online and have successes with it.
Maintaining good balance can be done by doing single leg exercises such as standing on one leg and tracking an object overhead. These drills help strengthen the muscles for balance and provide proprioceptive feedback. Keep practicing and you can improve your balance over time.
You don't have to split your workout between upper body and lower body, but splitting can be beneficial if you want to increase muscle mass. You can do a combined overall body workout or a split routine such as upper body on Monday and lower body on Tuesday. Splitting allows for more exercises per body part so you can gain muscle mass more effectively.
Mobility should be assessed and added into an athlete’s schedule before every training session to increase range of motion, strength, and motor control. This will help maximize the quality and efficiency of their movements.
Mobility training should be done before each training session and sport. Depending on the athlete's needs, additional mobility work may be added into the daily routine.
To determine the appropriate weight to use for squatting, it's best to do a 1RM test with a certified professional. If you're not comfortable with this, you can also do a 2RM or 3RM and use a logarithm to approximate your 1RM based on the number of repetitions you did.
I would start with glute activation exercises like three-way band routine, then move on to a bodyweight squat and a strength circuit with rearfoot elevated split squats, tricep dips, snap down to a staggered stance, double arm chest press in the glute hip lift position, push and posture exercises such as snow angels, double arm bent over row and balanced single leg arm curl to shoulder press, and if there's time, core exercises like side plank, plank saws or plank rotations.
In order to see improvements in strength and power, one should follow a program two times a week for 6-10 weeks. Additionally, it is important to consider how bored you are with the program, as boredom can lead to decreased enjoyment and stress.
For an endurance runner, weights should be kept heavy and low reps (3-4 sets of 5-10 reps). Upper body exercises should focus on the kinetic chain and core. Glute and plyometric exercises can also help improve running economy. Make sure to get a coach's approval before starting any new exercises.
To create enthusiasm in a team or individual athlete environment, it is important to do a good assessment and then find ways to capitalize on the weaknesses. Games and challenges can be used to create an internal competition to increase enthusiasm within the team or individual athlete.
I used to lift a lot of weights before I became a cyclist, and even early on in my cycling career I was lifting regularly. However, as I progressed through the pro ranks, I got away from strength training. Now that I know what current research is telling us about how important strength training is for endurance sports like cycling, I would definitely be lifting throughout my season if I could go back in time.
Plyometric training can be a very effective tool for increasing running economy in triathletes and runners. When incorporated into an appropriate training program, it can help improve muscle tendon stiffness in the calf and achilles complex which can lead to improved running performance.
A good way to assess someone's ability in the gym is to perform a movement based assessment. This includes looking at basic movement patterns such as squats, lunges, hip hinges, pushing, pulling, rotating, and upper/lower body disassociation. If the person responds well to cues on how to improve their movement pattern, this can be an indication of their coachability and ability to change their movements.
The best way to get endurance athletes to buy into strength training is to get their sport coach behind the importance of it. This is done by creating a specific program that fits in with the athlete's endurance training and having measurable results such as improvement in performance and lack of pain.
Hypertrophy programs focus on higher repetitions and sets to increase muscle size and volume, while strength programs focus on lower reps and sets. For endurance athletes, strength is important, but no need to increase muscle mass. Explosiveness is achieved by focusing on velocity and speed. Endurance in the gym is focused on capacity.
The frequency of training a particular system depends on the overall plan discussed with the strength coach and sport coach. It is important to avoid overtraining and have a specific focus within each block of training to maximize gains and adaptations.
Yes, you can program heavy, medium, and light resistance training in the same way as various strength outputs in the gym. You can use linear periodization or undulating periodization to do this.
Three workouts I use for anaerobic system development for aerobic athletes are Sprint pyramids, 32nd efforts and Hill Sprints. Each workout should be tailored to the individual athlete's ability and intensity level.
I prefer using Tabata training for high intensity more than any of the other methods.
When programming strength training for an athlete in the offseason, I start by assessing their body to make sure they are healthy and “cleaning out the cobwebs”. Then I look at the periodization of their offseason, using the needs analysis to determine what type of training to do in each period. Depending on the sport, this can be strength, power, speed, or power endurance training. If there is no offseason, then I focus on micro-cycles to fit in training when possible. Additionally, I always emphasize mental freshness and a break from training when needed.