Tag Archives: strength and conditioning professional

Choosing a Strength Coach or Personal Trainer

12 Feb

Would you send your child to a physician who had never been to medical school?  How about a doctor who was never certified in his or her field?

When choosing a strength coach or personal trainer, I would encourage you to apply the same selection criteria.

Since the industry is not regulated, anyone can self-proclaim the title, personal trainer or strength coach.  Much like professionals in other industries, strength and conditioning professionals should have a working knowledge of foundational exercise science and its practical application.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a strength coach or personal trainer:

  • Educational background that includes Exercise Science or Human Performance
  • Accredited Certification (through an organization like the NSCA)
  • Personal Liability Insurance (it’s expensive, but protects both trainer and client)
  • Experience, Expertise (knowledgeable, reputable, credible — ask for references)
  • Training Philosophy

Do your homework, choose appropriately — based on your needs and goals, and inspect what you expect.

Get STRONGER Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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Work with a Trainer for Better Results

28 Aug

Have you ever wondered if working with a strength coach or personal trainer is right for you or your children, or worth the money?  Well, according to research from UCLA, a personal trainer can help make you much stronger than exercising on your own.

In the study, individuals who worked with a strength/fitness coach gained more muscle and 10% more endurance than those who chose to follow their own program.  They also gained six times more leg power than the “do it yourself” group.

The reason for the difference?  A qualified, experienced strength and conditioning professional can provide an expert-guided plan, helping you to stick to your workout and do it right.  Most individuals lack the experience and expertise to develop a personalized plan that incorporates appropriate exercise selectionintensity levelrepetitionssets, and rest intervals.  Additionally, a coach can motivate you to train harder and help keep you accountable.

Even if working with a trainer is not in your long-term plans, it can be a good idea to start there.  A trainer can better point you in the right direction, providing instruction, demonstration, and making your workouts more focused and effective when you do them on your own.

And, for you parents of student-athletes, be wary of the teacher or coach acting as your child’s trainer, or your school’s weight room attendant.  Typically, these folks are no more qualified than you are when it comes to developing well-designed and -supervised, safe, and effective strength and conditioning programs.

When looking for a strength coach/trainer, do your homework.  Since basically anyone can “hang a shingle” and call him/herself a trainer, it’s important to find one with a certification such as CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) or CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) through a nationally/internationally accredited organization like the NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association).  If you’re in or around the greater Cleveland (OH) area, check us out at AthleticPerformanceTC.com.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Starting a High School Strength Program

29 Jul

team-weight-room-640[1]At our facility, we work with a few hundred high school student-athletes, and serve as advisor/coach/consultant to several high school strength and conditioning programs.

In terms of quality, high school strength and conditioning programs vary considerably, and most of them are subpar.  The biggest reason for this is that most of these programs lack adequate and appropriate program design and supervision, and allow little or no involvement from qualified, experienced strength and conditioning professionals.

To make matters worse, most high school strength and conditioning programs are run by coaches, most of whom are not qualified as strength and conditioning professionals.  Many of these coaches are hell-bent on control and loathe to take advice or guidance from “outsiders.”

The net result is that most high school strength and conditioning programs are run by individuals who lack even a basic understanding of foundational exercise science and it’s practical application.  Unfortunately, many of these programs are less than effective and — worse yet — can be unsafe for student-athletes.

My advice to high school sports coaches:  GET SOME HELP.  Check your ego, loosen your grip on your program, and consult with a qualified and experienced strength and conditioning professional.  Trust me — it will be time and money well-spent.

Mike Boyle wrote this article for the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Strength and Conditioning Journal over a decade ago, but it’s still just as relevant today.

Starting a High School Strength Program

Frequently at clinics, I speak with high school coaches who are interested in starting or improving a strength and conditioning program at their school. Most often they are looking for guidance in setting up the program and always want to talk sets and reps. Much to their dismay, I generally want to discuss organizational and administrative concepts because, in my experience, these are the real keys. Setup and execution make the program run — not sets and reps.

If you get one thing out of this article remember this quote:  “A bad program done well is better than a good program done poorly.” – Author Unknown

Keep it simple, and adhere strictly to the following guidelines:

  1. Forget uncooperative seniors.  The source of most frustration in starting a high school program is dealing with seniors who already “know how to lift.” Separate these guys out right away. If they don’t cooperate, get rid of them. They’ll be gone soon anyway.
  2. Do one coaching-intensive lift per day. What do I mean by coaching-intensive lift? Exercises like squats or any Olympic movement are coaching-intensive. Coaches must watch every possible set to correctly ingrain the correct motor pattern. If athletes are front squatting and hang cleaning the same day, which do you watch, the platforms or the squats racks? Don’t force yourself to make this decision. For example do lunges instead of squats on the day that you clean and do pushups instead of bench press on the day you squat. On squat day, don’t do an Olympic movement, do Box Jumps as your explosive exercise. This process of one coaching-intensive lift per day may only last a year, but you will not be getting poor patterns practiced with no supervision.
  3. Get all administration done prior to the start of sessions. The biggest failure in strength and conditioning is coaches sitting at computers instead of coaching. If you need workouts done on computer, do them during a free period. The job is strength and conditioning coach. Don’t get caught up, as many coaches do, in having great programs on paper and lousy lifters. Let the paper suffer and do the coaching.
  4. Coach. This is what it is all about. Coach like this is your sport. So many coaches ask, “Can you give me a program?” We could but it wouldn’t work. College or pro programs are not appropriate for high school beginners. They need teaching, not programs. The program begins and ends with technical proficiency. Coaches must realize that their athletes are the window through which others see them. If a college coach came into your weight room would you be proud or ashamed? Would you make excuses for the poor technique or, accept the pats on the back for what great lifters your players are? The other factor, even more important than your athletes being the window through which others see you, is that your athletes are the mirror in which you see yourself. Your lifters are a direct reflection of you. When you watch your athletes are you happy with yourself as a teacher and coach.
  5. Technique, Technique, Technique. Never compromise. Perform parallel squats all the time. Our athletes do nothing but front squats to a top of the thigh parallel position. If you bench press, no bounce, no arch. Never compromise. As soon as you allow one athlete to cheat or to not adhere to the program others will follow immediately. Remember why athletes cheat. They cheat to lift more weight. Lifting more weight feeds their ego. If you allow it to happen, cheating is very difficult to stop. To make your point use exercises like Pause Bench and Pause Front Squats. These exercises can be very humbling. Canadian Strength Coach Charles Poliquin has a principle he calls Technical Failure. This means that you never count a rep that was completed after technique broke down.
  6. Use body weight when possible. Always teach bodyweight squats first. If they can’t bodyweight squat, they can’t squat. Do lots of pushups, feet elevated pushups, 1 leg squats, chinups and dips. Bodyweight is humbling. Use it wisely and often with high school kids.
  7. If you test, test super strict. Testing is when things really deteriorate. In testing the coach should see every lift, and the coach should select every weight. Don’t reward strength. This is a huge mistake that I believe encourages drug use. Reward improvement, make athletes compete with themselves, not others. No t-shirts for rewards unless they reward improvement over personal bests. Also if you test strength, also test performance factors like Vertical Jump and 10-yd. Dash. If athletes are improving strength without changing performance factors, the program is only marginally effective.
  8. Have appropriate equipment. This is critical to a good high school program. Spend money to encourage success. Success is what sells the program. Strength and conditioning coaching is easy in principle, but difficult in practice. The key is to try to see every set and coach every athlete. This is difficult, time consuming, and repetitive. At the end of a good day you should be hoarse and tired. A good strength coach will have sore legs and knees from squatting down to see squat depth all day.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Choosing a Strength Coach or Personal Trainer

6 Jun
CSCS Logo

CSCS Logo

Would you send your child to a physician who had never been to medical school?  How about a doctor who was never certified in his or her field?

When choosing a strength coach or personal trainer, I would encourage you to apply the same selection criteria.

Since the industry is not regulated, anyone can self-proclaim the title, personal trainer or strength coach.  Much like professionals in other industries, strength and conditioning professionals should have a working knowledge of foundational exercise science and its practical application.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a strength coach or personal trainer:

  • Educational background that includes Exercise Science or Human Performance
  • Accredited Certification (through an organization like the NSCA)
  • Personal Liability Insurance (it’s expensive, but protects both trainer and client)
  • Experience, Expertise (knowledgeable, reputable, credible — ask for references)
  • Training Philosophy

Do your homework, choose appropriately — based on your needs and goals, and inspect what you expect.

Get STRONGER Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Work with a Trainer for Better Results

7 Apr

nba_ap_tgrover1_600[1]Have you ever wondered if working with a strength coach or personal trainer is right for you or your children, or worth the money?  Well, according to new research from UCLA, a personal trainer can help make you much stronger than exercising on your own.

In the study, individuals who worked with a strength/fitness coach gained more muscle and 10% more endurance than those who chose to follow their own program.  They also gained six times more leg power than the “do it yourself” group.

The reason for the difference?  A qualified, experienced strength and conditioning professional can provide an expert-guided plan, helping you to stick to your workout and do it right.  Most individuals lack the experience and expertise to develop a personalized plan that incorporates appropriate exercise selection, intensity level, repetitions, sets, and rest intervals.  Additionally, a coach can motivate you to train harder and help keep you accountable.

Even if working with a trainer is not in your long-term plans, it can be a good idea to start there.  A trainer can better point you in the right direction, providing instruction, demonstration, and making your workouts more focused and effective when you do them on your own.

And, for you parents of student-athletes, be wary of the teacher or coach acting as your child’s trainer, or your school’s weight room attendant.  Typically, these folks are no more qualified than you are when it comes to developing well-designed and -supervised, safe, and effective strength and conditioning programs.

When looking for a strength coach/trainer, do your homework.  Since basically anyone can “hang a shingle” and call him/herself a trainer, it’s important to find a well-accredited one at nsca.com (website for the National Strength and Conditioning Association).  Look for NSCA designations such as CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) or CPT (Certified Personal Trainer).  If you’re in or around the greater Cleveland (OH) area, check us out at AthleticPerformanceTC.com.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Post-Injury Rehabilitation and Reconditioning

26 Oct

Following an injury, a well-designed and -supervised rehabilitation and reconditioning program is important to help athletes return to action.  Certain principles should be taken into account when considering this process:

  • The healing tissues must never be overstressed.
  • The athlete must adhere to the rehabilitative process, as outlined by the sports medicine team.
  • The rehabilitation program must be evidence-based.
  • The program must be individualized to the athlete and his or her specific needs and goals.
  • The rehab/sports medicine team must work together to help the athlete return to unrestricted competition as quickly and safely as possible.

Sports Medicine Team

The sports medicine team is responsible for educating coaches and athletes about injury risks, precautions, and treatments.  The relationship among members of this team requires effective communication to ensure a safe environment for the injured athlete.  Members of the sports medicine team include:

  • Team physician
  • Athletic trainer
  • Physical therapist
  • Strength and Conditioning professional

Types of Injury

There are several types of injury, including macrotrauma (broken bone), dislocation (complete and partial), contusion (bruise), strain (ruptures and tears), microtrauma (overuse injury), and tendinitis (inflammation of a tendon).  Each injury requires specific rehabilitation strategies to allow return to function.

Tissue Healing

After a musculoskeletal injury, there are generally three phases of tissue healing.  Although severity of the injury within each phase may differ for each tissue type, all tissues follow the same basic pattern of healing.

  • Inflammation phase is characterized by pain, swelling, and redness.
  • Repair phase occurs as number of inflammatory cells decreases.
  • Remodeling phase is consistent with increased tissue strength.

Goals of Rehabilitation and Reconditioning

  • The goal for treatment during the inflammatory phase is to prevent new tissue damage.  A healthy environment is essential for new tissue regeneration and formation.  Rest is required to prevent further injury.  Exercise involving the injured area is not recommended.
  • The treatment goal during the repair phase is to prevent excessive muscle atrophy and joint deterioration of the injured area.  Low-intensity isometric and balance exercises are indicated at this point, since strength and flexibility are usually impaired.
  • Optimizing tissue function is the primary goal during the remodeling phase.  Exercise options include joint strengthening; exercises that prevent full range of motion, followed by exercises that allow free range of motion (as tolerated); and stretching and balance exercises.

Designing strength and conditioning programs for injured athletes requires the strength and conditioning professional to examine the rehabilitation and reconditioning goals to determine what type of program will allow the quickest return to competition.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Who’s Training Your Student-Athlete?

24 Sep

Last week, I received a call from the mother of a high school freshman basketball player, asking about post-workout nutrition for her son.  Apparently, he had been advised – by one of the young men in the high school weight room – that he should drink a protein shake following his workout.  After discussing the benefits of post-workout protein (and carbohydrate) supplementation with her, I inquired about his training regimen.  She proceeded to tell me that the creation, design, and supervision of his workout was provided by one of his friends – a junior basketball and baseball player.

REALLY?!?  Your son is a 14-year-old, Strength training novice, and you entrust his safety and development to a 16-year-old?  Unfortunately, this situation is much too common.  There’s no way kids should be supervising kids, when it comes to Strength and Conditioning.  Nor should they necessarily be training independently.  No teenager is qualified or knowledgable enough to train anyone (including himself or herself)!  Truth be told, most coaches aren’t adequately equipped to train student-athletes, either.

So, why aren’t more parents and coaches seeking the guidance of qualified, Strength and Conditioning professionals to work with their children and players?

Cost:  Sure, there’s some cost involved in athletic performance training.  But money and time “spent” on Strength and/or Speed & Agility training at Athletic Performance Training Center is NOT an expense, it’s an investment; and when you invest, you get a return.  Conversely, what is the cost of not working with a qualified, Strength and Conditioning professional?  If you have cost concerns, discuss them with your trainer – almost everything is negotiable.  I’d rather negotiate cost than turn an athlete away.

Control:  Many parents and coaches want to keep everything “in-house.”  They are simply unwilling to allow “outside” individuals to interact with and influence their athletes and teams.  They seem to have a “try to do it all myself” mentality – believing they can figure it out for themselves – and may perceive it as a weakness to ask someone else for help, or to say, “I don’t know.”  The addition of a Strength and Conditioning professional to a coaching staff – even as an advisor or consultant – can add value to any team or program.  I take great pride in working with several area high school and college athletic programs, on a consulting basis.

Internet.  The information age is a double-edged sword.  The emergence of the internet has made it easy to access Strength and Conditioning information and videos.  However, there’s more to athletic performance training than mimicking and implementing You Tube videos.  In order to ensure that training is purposeful and goal-oriented – maximizing effectiveness and safety – it’s helpful to have a working knowledge of foundational, Exercise Science and its practical application.  This requires an understanding of, and an ability to communicate, not only what to do, but also how and why to do it.

Lack of Awareness:  Simply stated, many parents and coaches don’t know what they don’t know.  They may not be aware of the information and resources available, and the competitive advantage their athletes can gain through athletic performance training.  A qualified, Strength and Conditioning professional can help athletes, teams, coaches, and parents build strategies to improve athletic performance through the development of:

  • Strength and Sport-Specific Power
  • Speed, Agility, and Endurance
  • Balance, Coordination, and Flexibility
  • Injury Prevention Strategies
  • Nutrition Education
  • Confidence

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Related links: What to look for in a Trainer, What is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)

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