We live in a funny world, don’t we? Most athletes, parents, clients and a lot of people around are judging your work as a strength coach by how tired you can make them during training sessions. Following a Crossfit, P90X or other non-sense training system, people always seem satisfied with the results because they work hard. After all, isn’t it what it’s all about?
As a strength coach or a personal trainer it’s very easy to exploit these training systems or use other training methods to make yourself look good to the uneducated crowd out there, who always believed that working hard is the only thing it’s about.
Since that stuff sells and attract a lot of athletes and weekend warriors, it’s not easy to drift away from those training methods and still make your athletes and clients feel like they’re accomplishing something, even though they don’t crawl out the door with not an ounce of energy left.
Let’s face it, what’s easier?:
- Beating your athletes to the ground every training session, and leaving them with the feeling they’ve worked hard? Or;
- Letting your athletes leave the weight room with some energy left, and sometimes even feeling refreshed, and having to sell to them why it is better than beating them to the ground when they’ve been led to believe otherwise all their life?
It’s an art to periodize your athletes’ training, and even more of an art to stick to it. When you’ve planned to back off the weights at the beginning of the off-season to give your athletes some time to recover and take care of the imbalances they’ve created during their season, do you really stick with the plan? Or do you get overwhelmed by the feeling that you should work them to the ground?
Managing training loads and volumes is critical, especially with high level athletes. If you think that training hard and crushing your athletes is the way to go, you’re going to have a serious problem working (and being successful) with College and pro athletes. I think I remember Sean Skahan, strength coach of the Anaheim Ducks in the NHL, saying that he feels more like a “recovery coach” than a strength coach at times. I couldn’t agree more with him.
There are times during a training year where it’s all about maximizing recovery and handling training loads so the athletes can still perform at the highest level and avoid getting hurt. Overtraining will drastically affect your performance level and make your risk of injury skyrocket. The in-season and early off-season phases are perfect examples; athletes have a lot of stress put on their body with a lot of games, practices every day, travel, school (in the case of college athletes), etc. That’s why they need a lot of recovery, injury prevention and corrective strategies during those times. A certain level of strength can be maintained, but the volume must remain pretty low.
Make sure you don’t take the easy way out. Do what’s right for your athletes, plan accordingly and resist the urge of just crushing them for the sake of it. They’ll become better, stronger and more injury resistant athletes in the long run.
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