January 5

It’s 2021 and I Still Handwrite My Training Programs. Here’s Why

By fitness

January 5, 2022

Programming is an artwork kind; there’s little question about it. An individual who demonstrates sharp instincts, flexibility, and creativity in a finely-tuned program is a gifted coach/coach. Many of us coaches get slowed down in methods and software program. Plugging train A right here and train B in there can maybe add comfort, however the artwork kind will get misplaced.

The strategies that labored like a appeal 10 years in the past are relics by right this moment’s requirements. Teaching strategies and coaches are evolving, as are the cookie-cutter software program packages. In many respects, the comfort of those packages is value its weight in gold. But are we shedding a few of the magic after we do it this manner?

Photo courtesy of Chris Holder

My Coaching History

I can’t communicate for all coaches as a result of I don’t know what they're up towards. My story is a little bit of an uncommon one for a university power coach. I paid my teaching dues in a singular approach. I began at Eastern Kentucky University as an intern within the spring semester of 2000. Six weeks into my internship, my Head Strength Coach, Mike Kent, took the pinnacle job on the University of Louisville and needed to depart. Because of the relative newness of his place at EKU, the administration was unprepared and requested me to fill in till a search might be carried out for Coach Kent’s alternative. I labored for 3 months alone, attempting to maintain an athletic division power program afloat.

One of essentially the most troublesome duties whereas filling in for him was programming the way in which he programmed. Get this: Kent wrote out each particular person program by hand. Each staff would have both one sheet or a collection of sheets that will carry that staff for a month or two. He created every plan in Excel, the place the workouts could be constructed into the framework of the sheet. Then he would spend his weekend hand-programming hundreds for every athlete over the scope of the whole athletic division. One crimson pen, adopted by hours and hours of labor. Kent’s meticulous programming ensured each athlete obtained the extent of particular person consideration that he felt they wanted.

The Difference Between Sheets and White Boards

The coach-athlete relationship is an attention-grabbing one. When it involves compliance, athletes are mandated to indicate up whether or not they prefer it or not, they usually don’t have a say of their programming. If you're a non-public coach or personal a fitness center/field, your purchasers have extra say. But one factor shines clear in all settings — the folks coaching in your house need to really feel like they're being given their due consideration, not simply as members of a gaggle however as people.

There are just a few cases the place utilizing a whiteboard is suitable in my facility. Most of the time, we use whiteboards after we are educating. When we are attempting to get strategies dialed in and the place hundreds aren't essentially a precedence, the primary month or so is a superb time to depend on a whiteboard. Again, in my scenario, which could be very particular, we may even maintain a staff on the whiteboard if the staff members aren't exhibiting a stage of dedication. Let’s face it, no person on campus takes weight coaching as severely as I do, and there are some groups who “go through the motions.” I counsel my assistants to behave accordingly. There’s no must dedicate hours and hours of programming for a staff that won't give an appropriate effort.

Team of athletes lifting weights together in a gym
Sydra Productions/Shutterstock

Again, I perceive that in a CrossFit field, most clientele may be transient and never as constant as a university staff that's required to indicate up. That makes the individuality piece extra of a headache because you don’t know the subsequent time your purchasers will present up. But nothing tells your purchasers you might be all in with them, like handing them every a sheet with their title on it. It’s a easy gesture that speaks volumes about your dedication to their progress. Yes, it may be time-consuming, but it surely may also be a distinction between a lackluster effort and a herculean one.

Computer Programming Vs. Hand Programming

I've by no means used a pc to run percentages for considered one of my packages. I've all the time performed it by hand. And actually, I've by no means used a set share to assign hundreds aside from deciding hundreds for the start of a hypertrophy cycle primarily based on a newly minted one-rep max. The technique I take advantage of is one which Coach Kent taught me, and it’s primarily based on that technique’s pure evolution after 16 years of doing it that approach.

Computer programming primarily based on percentages, to me, makes some fairly daring assumptions in the course of a coaching cycle. First off, should you use a linear technique as I do, you in all probability write for eight to 12 weeks at a time. If I write a twelve-week hypertrophy/power/energy program for a soccer participant, code the weeks with prescribed percentages, after which faucet in a one-rep max to be our baseline for the chances, I'm asking the athletes to be good with their vitamin, their relaxation, their effort — always. And let’s face it, none of them are. It’s practically unattainable for an individual to be that dialed-in the entire time.

Man curls barbell while another man coaches him through the rep
Frame Stock Footage/Shutterstock

Hand programming offers me a number of benefits that a pc won't ever present. First, despite the fact that I take advantage of what seems like an algebraic system in my head to find out hundreds, I get the pliability to regulate on the fly. You want that flexibility when Joe Blow rolls his ankle the Friday prior. Hand programming offers me an out after I understand that the entire staff is about to bonk, and an impromptu deload week is what is required. It permits me (or forces me, actually) to get a whole learn on every particular person and holds my ass to the fireplace to remain engaged with every of my athletes. You can ask me at any time of a coaching cycle what the burden on so-and-so’s bench is on his second set, and 99 out of 100 instances, I'll know what’s happening.

How I Program

If you have been to look at me program, that is what it could seem like: I've a stack of sheets, and each will get the signature “pause and think.” I've to have a look at the athlete’s title and rapidly evaluate and keep in mind what this particular person did final week. Then the writing begins. I'll program a sheet twice every week in some coaching phases, as soon as for the primary half, then as soon as for the second. It retains me as present as doable for every particular person.

When it involves teaching, I'm promoting an concept. I'm promoting a system. I'm asking my athletes to have full religion in me as I make choices for them. The approach I function offers my athletes full freedom to not assume. They are available in, and their job is to be centered and current and, most significantly, able to carry out. I do all of the pondering for them days earlier, to allow them to simply are available in and kick ass.

Hand programming is a part of that. If I hand you a sheet of computer-printed numbers, it can excite you as a lot as combing your hair or placing mustard in your sandwich. But after I provide you with a sheet with my handwriting on it, it's best to see somebody who's partnered with you. The handwriting tells the athletes I've taken the time to consider them every single day of each week.

Featured Image: Chris Holder

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