Confessions of a Strength Coach: Come At Me, Bro 2021 Edition
Full Disclosure: Friend and colleague, Mike Perry, serves as inspiration for today’s post.
He posted something very similar on his various social media feeds last week and I was inspired to toss in my two cents on the matter after reading his list.1
Send any hate mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If for some reason the email bounces back try: email@example.com
Bros Are Coming At Me
1. I don’t pigeon hole myself into any one way of thinking; except for Tuesdays are for Techno Tuesday and Wednesdays are for Wu-Tang.
But take squatting for example.
Some of my clients squat to parallel (or even above), while others squat below.
2. Outside of someone coming in with an extensive injury history, my assessment is generally just taking someone through a “doable” training session: squat, push-up, hinge, amongst other things.
Can they do stuff? And can they do it without this being my reaction?
If so, we’re probably good.
3. Speaking of assessment: Asymmetries are normal. I don’t make a big deal out of it. It’s most likely nothing and by highlighting them you’re leaning into the notion that people are inherently broken.
It’s information, of course. But I’ve long gotten over the idea that asymmetries are the end-all, be-all of predicting jack squat
(NOTE: Read THIS for a better understanding of what I mean).
4. Getting people stronger isn’t always about more reps or more sets or more load. “Feel” of a set matters too. If a certain weight “feels” faster or easier week to week that’s progress as well.
5. This doesn’t have anything to do with anything, but figured I’d say it anyway:
Ted Lasso is a splendid show.
SIDE NOTE: This blew my mind. One of the main characters, Rebecca Welton (who plays the owner of the Premier League soccer team Ted Lasso takes over as coach) is played by actress Hannah Waddingham.
Photo Credit: Apple TV
You know what other character she’s played in the past?
6. Sometimes my only verbal cue to a client when they’re performing a new exercise is “figure it out,” or “find a way,” or
“WU-TANG PROTECT YA NECK.”
Inundating people with incessant cues can be more detrimental than helpful. Sometimes it’s prudent to just let people figure it out on their own. You know, assuming they’re not going to shit a spleen or anything like that.
7. I don’t begin to hyperventilate into a paper bag whenever I see a client flex their spine. In fact, sometimes I encourage it.
8. I’ve never read the book Supertraining. I don’t know who’s more annoying: a CrossFitter who’s keto or a strength coach who can’t talk shop without quoting Mel Siff…;o)
9. Most of my general population clients (read: all of them) don’t follow a periodized program. Life – sick kids, overbearing bosses, global pandemics, Thursdays – tend to get in the way.
This is NOT to insinuate I don’t feel general pop clients don’t require planning or structure within their programming. I just don’t feel having them follow a Block Periodized program so that their bench press peaks to coincide with their kid’s clarinet recital in the Spring is really the panacea for progress.
10. In terms of building increased motivation with clients I find two things help:
- Allowing the client – sometimes – to choose their main lift of the day. If they’re going to deadlift, I’ll let them choose the variation that fills their training love tank for the day.
- Ending sessions with a 5-10 “arm farm (I.e., biceps & triceps)” or “badonkadonk (I.e., butt stuff)” circuit.
- IN SHORT: Allowing a smidgeon of CHOICE can be a game changer.
11. Almost always, when a client experiences a niggle (cranky shoulder, tweaked knee) it’s either a programming volume issue or a technique issue.
I’m less inclined to give clients a laundry list of corrective exercises to perform and more inclined to simply audit my programming and/or exercise selection.
12. Easy training is good training. I’d rather a client/athlete leave a session feeling as if they COULD do more. This way I know they’re likely going to recover well and be ready for their next session.
13. Seriously, give Ted Lasso a look. It’s wonderful.