Here’s a link (pdf file) of a great interview Glenn Pendlay did on Strength training for sports.
For me, as a strength coach, this was the key quote:
If you really want to know how to get people stronger, train yourself like a madman, learn all you can from that, seek out people who know more than you do and learn from them. Learn all you can about track and field training and Olympic lifting and powerlifting. Learn from the people in those sports that are actually producing athletes, and not the ones who are simply famous. Compete in those sports yourself even if you suck. Bookmark Medline and read all the research you can. Develop an affinity for the local university library where you can photocopy the full articles you saw on Medline. Call foreign coaches and talk to them. Read all the books available on training. Never assume that any one person has all the answers or get so carried away on one thing that you never learn or adapt your ideas again. Train or assist in the training of any athlete you can lay hands on, and then repeat each of the above steps consistently for somewhere between 10 and 20 years and you’ll probably be there. I’m currently involved in this very program that I am recommending, I figure I have about 5 more years to go and ill actually know something useful.
I, myself, have been on that program for about 5 years. I did personal training before that, and was training myself hard, but only got serious about training athletes 5 years ago. In that time I can’t tell you the radical shifts my own philosophy has taken.
I figure if you aren’t changing something major every year, you aren’t continuing to learn. In each year, I have to evaluate what worked in the previous year (and keep that), and what didn’t. But, even more important, figure out what I need to replace what didn’t work and how to fit that into the stuff I’m keeping around that did.
With every new athlete I train, I learn something new. Each person responds to different things and learns in different ways. And, on the flip side, there are constants that seem to be similar in nearly every athlete, and finding what those things are is just as important as highlighting the differences.
Here are just 5 things I’ve learned in the last 5 years that I wasn’t as solid about previously:
1. Keep it Simple Stupid (K.I.S.S.). It’s easy to get caught up with all the fancy-pantsy methods of training because those are fun, exciting, and new-age. But, the fact is, most of what works turns out to be the same old stuff that has worked for years: heavy, hard lifting on basic movements like cleans, snatches, squats, and deadlifts.
2. Teaching Beginners the Olympic Lifts isn’t THAT Hard. Becoming a world-class Olympic weightlifter IS hard. But, having decent technique that will make you more explosive, stronger, and powerful and to do so in a way that is safe is not at all as hard as its made out to be. I can take ANY athlete and have them doing solid power snatches, power cleans, jerks, front squats, etc in less than 2 months – easy. If they have talent and drive, even faster.
3. More Upper Body Work. I’m an Olympic weightlifter. I became one after first being a powerlifter. So, I don’t come from a Brotastic arm-day loving background. When I first started coaching I spent so much time on squats and cleans, that I ran into some joint problems with some of my lifters in their upper bodies. Mike Boyle is right, lower body injuries are often because of something you DID. Upper body injuries are usually from something you DIDN’T do. Adding in chins, push ups, and rows will make a huge difference in keeping people off the injured list.
4. LESS Core Work. This might sound outright insane, but most athletes spend too much time on their “core” and not enough time getting truly strong. By core work I mean crunches, side bends, leg lifts, etc. Stabilization is a good thing, but much of that will come naturally through heavy work on overhead squats, push ups, weighted chin ups, etc. All of my lifters can do planks for days … and they never do planks except in the very early stages of development.
5. The Olympic Lifts are Strength Lifts. Most strength coaches (outside of Oly lifting) approach the olympic lifts primarily as something to increase speed and power. The lifts do this, of course, but they are more than that. If I could do only one lift, I’d do heavy clean and jerks. Learning how to do these lifts efficiently allows you to use massive weights you could never get up without proper form. In turn, you develop even greater strength. I’ve found that one of the fastest ways to increase someones squat and deadlift is to teach them to clean and snatch heavy weights. A bigger clean = stronger body.
If you’d like to find out more about what my athletes are doing, make sure to check out our website: www.PDXWeightlifting.com