Athletes need to be strong, there is NO question about it. With all the fads and gimmicks, some athletes think they need a program of all speed or all agility, and they believe they are “strong enough”.
This is not the case. Heavy lifting and struggling take guts. It is HARD. It requires a strong mindset and being ready to fight and never give up. Speed work does NOT require this ‘never say quit’ attitude. Don’t fool yourself, you are NOT strong enough.
It's NEVER a case of JUST speed training for an athlete, or JUST strength work for an athlete. It's about creating a program that attacks ALL of these facets and then individualizing the program on a per athlete basis.
Max Effort Training is the quickest strategy for making significant strength gains.
You want to develop strength in athletes beyond the 1RM and beyond the barbell lifts. You also want Strength developed in some of the odd object lifts, weighted calisthenics and sometimes, high reps on a barbell lift like 20 rep squats.
There is a time and place for everything, which I discuss heavily in the program design portions of The Underground Strength Coach Cert.
These odd object lifts can be considered “special exercises.” You’ll notice Louie Simmons recommends the use of bands and chains, both using various band tensions and different amounts of chain weight.
Here are just a few Odd Object Strength Challenges:
- Tire Flip x 3 or 5 reps for Time
- Tire Flip specific distance (40 ft) for time
- Sandbag or Sandball Shouldering x Max Reps in 30 seconds
- Keg Carry x 150 ft for Time
Calisthenics Strength Challenges:
- 1 RM Weighted Pull Up
- Max Reps Pull Ups
- Burpees x Max Reps x 60 seconds
- Vertical Jump Test
- Triple Broad Jump Test
As the athlete becomes more advanced, we begin to implement bands and chains. This gets the athletes excited and fired up, they love the variety and an added challenge, leading to more intensity and passion when training.
In addition, the bands and chains help the athlete understand the need for pushing through sticking points, the necessity of being explosive where the band or chains might try to stop them from finishing a rep.
It’s important that when using bands or chains, you explain in a simple and easily understood reason for your athletes, that they must move the weights FAST! I explain that it’s similar to a race between you and your friend. When you feel that resistance, you need to push with MORE FORCE to beat your friend (beat the band/chain sticking points).
Then, explain how this can be applied to their sports skills, whether it’s Baseball (running bases, throwing a ball) or wrestling (driving through an opponent on a takedown) or swimming (pushing off the wall with legs when turning) and many other examples.
As a Coach, be ready to inspire and educate your athletes, so the training has meaning to them. Especially at the college level, not all athletes LOVE to train. They love to compete, so we must find psychological methods to form a connection with our athletes deeper as to WHY we are training so hard.
Louie Simmons has been a BIG influence on me. If you’re a Coach, don’t just read his articles, print them out and create your own 3 ring binder for a resource you can have at all times. I did this way back in 2001 or 2002, studying his work aggressively. I would also call Louie every week on my prep break when I was a teacher, to talk training. Many of his interviews can be found inside The Underground Strength Academy.
I did the work, I researched his methods, read ALL his articles, purchased ALL his VHS and DVDs and then asked questions. Too many coaches today fear the work, or they just want everything handed to them without researching or investing. They go straight to asking questions without showing they did some effort on their own.
If you want answers on how to run your gym / strength & conditioning business, search for them right here on my website. I have done hundreds of podcasts, videos and articles for you. The most serious get involved with The USC Cert.
Just as we expect our athletes to do the work, as a Coach, I expect you to do the work, and you should expect excellence from yourself as a Coach as well. Nothing less is acceptable. This is what the athlete deserves from a Coach.
For more information, you will want to review the Underground Strength Coach Certification.