We live in the information age, and yet there is far less understanding. In our efforts to be our best, we often stretch ourselves thin and become overwhelmed. In most training programs, too many lifts are being done while few, if any, approach mastery. To take your team to the next level, what you need is elimination.
If you’re like most, you have limited time to learn lifts, train and practice sport skills. Eliminate the fluff and pare programs down to the essentials—exceptional execution of workout fundamentals. Even at the professional level, this formula works. As EXOS trainer of the pros Brett Bartholomew consistently emphasizes, it’s about “simple things done savagely well.” In this program there are no gimmicks, just results.
Before any success is possible, coaches must express consistent vision, expectations and accountability. Create a mantra around executing fundamentals, and focus sharply on each element of the process. Articulate high expectations. Students will respect you when they are uniformly enforced.
- Have newcomers start in an essentials program that teaches culture along with the execution of the fundamental movements.
RELATED: 3 Personality Traits for Creating a Winning Team Culture
The Pre-Workout talk where you clarify expectations and urge your athletes to focus.
- # – Know your numbers. What did you lift last time? What percentage was assigned? What weights must be made ready for a partner?
- Form. Reiterate coaching cues for technical perfection and remind your athletes of their importance.
- Flow. Know the lift order and whether anything is supersetted for contrast training or mobility.
- Tempo. Is there a prescribed negative or pause? Indicate it accordingly—eccentric, isometric, concentric. For example (3-1-1) means 3 second descent, 1 second pause at bottom, and drive the weight up in 1 second or less.
- Attitude. “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Olympic wrestler and 15-time NCAA Champion coach Dan Gable said, “If it’s important, do it every day.” Dan John reiterates this principle frequently. Hence the inspiration for the Essential Daily Warm-up. We do it all in a rack, but the same thing can be accomplished with dumbbells, kettlebells, or sandbags. The important thing is that every fundamental movement pattern is hit in the warm-up. Ours is as follows:
- Begin with an abridged version of Chris Holder’s Cal Poly Hip Flow. End with 20 seconds per side of a Single-Leg Side Plank.
- Barbell Overhead Squat (PVC for beginners) — 2×6 @ 2-3-1 tempo — supersetted with Push-Ups (modification = hands on bench) — 2×8 @ 1-2-1 tempo
- 2-Inch Pause Deadlifts — 2×5 @ 40-50% (depending on lift of emphasis) supersetted with Pull-Ups — 2x ½ the number of tested max Pull-Ups.
- Dumbbell Farmer’s Walk — 1x Zig Zag Course (Kids grab dumbbells walk through whatever course we’ve set up with cones).
RELATED: J.J. Watt’s Mindset for Getting to the Next Level
Follow the warm-up with one lift of emphasis. Again, it’s inspired by a quote:
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once. I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” —Bruce Lee.
Seek perfection of the Squat, Bench and Deadlift. Incorporate variations of these movements (Front Squat, Back Squat, RDL, etc.), but the core is consistent. Add supersets for mobility or power contrast training. For example, Squats with a Kettlebell Deadstop Jump Squat, or RDLs with an Overhead Medball toss. Base sets and reps on the goal of the phase and Prilepin’s chart.
Finally, athletes move to injury prevention and post-stretch. Injury prevention includes exercises like X-Band Walks, Neck Bridges, and I,Y,T’s. As we static stretch, I always emphasize the day’s bright spots—who executed workout fundamentals with great attitude and effort? Catch the positives, and your athletes will work hard for your affirmation.
RELATED: Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises