Whether you’re an athlete seeking a coach to help you become bigger, faster and stronger, or a coach desiring the knowledge to do the same for your athletes, the first thing you need to decide is, “What am I trying to achieve? What are my goals?” And, then, “How am I going to do it? What kind of program will best help me achieve my goals? What type of training and WHY?” The bottom line is: “What’s my philosophy?”

We understand that the stronger the body becomes physically, the more resilient it should be, the more quickly it should recover from injury, and the more force, power and speed it should be able to produce. And obviously the best way to increase strength is through strength training. However, strength training has many different faces: circuit training, functional training, CrossFit, bodybuilding, powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting, to name a few of the most popular methods.

If you peruse the internet, you will see a plethora of “the best” and “the only” ways to get strong, big and fast on every strength and conditioning webpage and social media site out there. So, which one is the best? Have you ever heard the term, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat”? In that timeless parable is your answer. It all comes down to having a training philosophy and knowing your WHY of that philosophy. Your philosophy is influenced and impacted by lessons learned from your parents, teachers, friends, coaches, mentors and previous experiences. Some of those lessons will be the “what to do” and some will be the “things I will NEVER do.” However, if you take time to reflect on past coaches, mentors and experiences, you will find pieces of the puzzle you are seeking to build.

After you have put thought into what your core beliefs of a strength program should consist of, you need to decide what exactly you are trying to achieve from the program. Be specific in the goals you want to achieve as a coach or an athlete. Set objective, tangible goals. To say “to get big and fast” is not objective or necessarily tangible. What specific needs does your sport or training goal require? This can be decided based on the results of a needs analysis for the sport. For example, the needs for an athlete playing offensive line in football are different from those of a cross country/distance competitor. Therefore, you will look at the specific needs of the sport before trying to develop an appropriate program.

Whatever course of action you choose to follow in designing your program, make sure you know your WHY. Don’t choose a group of exercises, rep and set scheme, specific conditioning program, etc. simply because it’s what your coach had you do when you were playing football in high school or it is what a professional athlete is doing to prepare. Know WHY you do everything you choose to include in the program, and make sure it is appropriate for the “training age” of the athletes you are working to develop—especially if that athlete is you. If you can’t explain WHY an item is present in the program and how it will benefit the athlete’s training, take it out.

Once you have a solid feel for what you believe in training-wise and have determined the specific needs of your sport/goal then you have laid the beginnings of a solid foundation for your future programming.

Our next blog post will explore what has been my major focus since coming back to coach athletes at the junior high and high school level over 20 years ago: Junior High to College: Developing the Young Athlete in the Team Setting.