I am turning 30 today, well if you are reading this I am already 30 years old, anyway that is beside the point. This is a pretty substantial birthday and in light of this I thought I might take a second to talk about the 30 things I have learned in training and from training in these first 30 years.
I started training seriously at age 15, for football, then for Olympic weightlifting, and finally for track and field. I competed at the national level for 11 years (weighlifting and track) and have coached for 10 years in some form (track, strength and conditioning). The following list is from my own training and my coaching.
1. Small choices in the short term can make some big differences in the rest of your life.
- Can you think back to some moments of your life, where a small choice made lasting life consequences? One of the first for me was I heeded my brother’s advice and checked out a small weightlifting club, rather than go with all my friends to a different gym in town. If not for that choice I would never have had the chance to learn from Olympic coaches and athletes, never started a track career, etc, etc.
2. There is nothing like the snatch to prepare an athlete to perform at their highest levels.
- In pre-competition training the snatch was always the last heavy lift that I did, and is always the last heavy lift that my athletes do. The quality of the lift (bar speed) can tell you so much about the way an athlete will perform.
3. Vertical Jump is a great indicator of an athlete’s current state.
- Recently we have been testing our in-season athletes’ state of recovery by testing their vertical jump before training. By getting a baseline measurement before the season starts and then reducing daily training volume when the jump is 10% or greater lower, we have been able to keep our athletes healthier and seeing a rebound in their performance in every case for the next training session.
4. Some things come close but nothing can replace squatting.
- There is a trend to discuss the value of bilateral quad dominant training and dismiss squatting as needless. The truth, as I have found it is that there is no replacement for squatting. If an athlete is capable, teaching and performing a correct squat pattern develops strength like nothing else.
5. Some things come close but nothing cam replace deadlifting.
- Unfortunately, for me, I never deadlifted until 3 years ago. My time was spent picking up weights in the Olympic lifting tradition: with the intent to clean or snatch it (those are good intentions). The strength developed by deadlifting cannot be replicated in any other way, and I learned that the first time I tried to pull maximal weight close to the body in the traditional deadlifting fashion. That being said, it is hard to reconcile the pull in the Olympic lifts with the deadlift, and this partially led to my using the hang clean exclusively for my athletes.
6. Coaching has little to do with your programs, but everything to do with how much you care.
- I don’t know from whom I first heard it, but I believe that a bad program implemented well will out-perform a good program implemented poorly. I almost entirely agree with this statement. Programs are not just exercises, sets, and reps, they are about instruction, motivation, and intent. The latter 3 things are about how much you care to make athletes better. They are about connecting with athletes and trying to create the best “Program” possible. The really cool thing though is when you get a good program implemented well, AMAZING things can happen.
7. Do a lot of good for some people, and some good for a lot of people.
- This is just a cool thought, although as coaches we are trying to help everyone, our reach may only go so far.
8. There are a lot of ways to get athletes better some just work faster and better than others.
- The fact is most young (high school) athletes that really take to training in the weightroom or the field will see improvements. What separates the good programs from the bad programs are the answers to questions such as: how lasting are those results, how great are the results? The biggest question though is how is this program preparing athletes for the future. Putting athletes on machines and maxing out on reps will get them stronger and gaining muscle mass, but it certainly won’t reduce their risk for injury in the sport.
9. More can be learned from spending one day WITH a great coach than reading any book.
- A week I spent at the College of the Canyons’ weightroom (with Coach Dos) taught me more than, any book that I have read on the organization of training. Why? I was able to see in action what was happening and how that organization led to the results athletes are seeking.
10. If you are still coaching the same way you did 5 or 10 years ago, you are doing your athletes a disservice.
- This simple statement says it all “Ten years of coaching the same way isn’t ten years of experience, it is one year of experience ten times”
11. If you are still coaching the same way you did 20 years ago…. You probably aren’t reading this blog post.
- That person is too busy talking about the high school glory days, and the way they did it in high school, they are definitely not reading the blog of some guy that just turned 30.
12. There is nothing that can give you more energy than coaching a team of athletes.
- I cannot describe the energy that comes from coaching a big group of dedicated athletes. Last night I had 25 high school basketball players from a state championship team all working to be better than their own teammates. The energy was ELECTRIC. I left that session walking on clouds and it happens every time I work with a big group.
13. Unless you are a powerlifter or weightlifter there really is a point where you are strong enough.
- If you are a powerlfiter or O lifter go ahead and just tune out for this one, keep getting stronger and crushing some weights. My collegiate coach always asked me if there was really a point in squatting more than X or bench pressing Y. If the implement weighs 16 lbs does a 600 lb bench do much more for you than a 500 lb bench. A lot of athletes will never make it to the level where strength increases don’t do any more for performance, but in the rare occasion that you do. Look to make their weak points stronger, not pile on their strong points.
14. Athletes need to have an off-season at some point.
- I have always loved working harder than my opponents, and I value the athlete that wants to do the same. When I was in college though, the biggest gains that I would have all year would be after my 3 weeks “off” in the summer. If you are not encouraging your athletes to do the same then you are doing them a disservice.
15. Surround yourself with great people and great things will happen for you.
- I am surrounded by great people: my coaches (that work for me and coached me), my business partner, my family, my friends (in and out of the fitness and coaching industry), any my wife. Each of them helps me become a better person, coach, and business owner.
Comment below and tell me what I missed and tomorrow I will be back with the next half of my 30 for 30 series. Oh by the way, I will likely go over 30 things…Prepare yourself.
Until then, Stay strong.