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


Programming is an artwork type; 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 type will get misplaced.

The strategies that labored like a allure 10 years in the past are relics by in the present day’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 dropping among the magic once we do it this fashion?

Photo courtesy of Chris Holder

My Coaching History

I can’t converse 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 energy coach. I paid my teaching dues in a singular method. 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 top job on the University of Louisville and needed to go away. Because of the relative newness of his place at EKU, the administration was unprepared and requested me to fill in till a search could possibly be performed for Coach Kent’s substitute. I labored for 3 months alone, making an attempt to maintain an athletic division energy program afloat.

One of essentially the most troublesome duties whereas filling in for him was programming the best way he programmed. Get this: Kent wrote out each particular person program by hand. Each workforce would have both one sheet or a collection of sheets that may carry that workforce 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 masses for every athlete over the scope of your complete athletic division. One pink pen, adopted by hours and hours of labor. Kent’s meticulous programming ensured each athlete bought the extent of particular person consideration that he felt they wanted.

The Difference Between Sheets and White Boards

The coach-athlete relationship is an fascinating one. When it involves compliance, athletes are mandated to indicate up whether or not they prefer it or not, and they don’t have a say of their programming. If you’re a personal coach or personal a gymnasium/field, your shoppers have extra say. But one factor shines clear in all settings — the folks coaching in your area wish to really feel like they’re being given their due consideration, not simply as members of a bunch however as people.

There are only some cases the place utilizing a whiteboard is appropriate in my facility. Most of the time, we use whiteboards once we are educating. When we try to get methods dialed in and the place masses should not essentially a precedence, the primary month or so is a good time to depend on a whiteboard. Again, in my state of affairs, which may be very particular, we can even hold a workforce on the whiteboard if the workforce members should not displaying a degree of dedication. Let’s face it, no one on campus takes weight coaching as critically as I do, and there are some groups who “go through the motions.” I advise my assistants to behave accordingly. There’s no have to commit hours and hours of programming for a workforce 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 will be transient and not as constant as a university workforce that’s required to indicate up. That makes the individuality piece extra of a headache because you don’t know the subsequent time your shoppers will present up. But nothing tells your shoppers you’re all in with them, like handing them every a sheet with their identify 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 will also be a distinction between a lackluster effort and a herculean one.

Computer Programming Vs. Hand Programming

I have by no means used a pc to run percentages for certainly one of my packages. I have all the time accomplished it by hand. And truthfully, I have by no means used a set share to assign masses aside from deciding masses for the start of a hypertrophy cycle based mostly on a newly minted one-rep max. The technique I use is one which Coach Kent taught me, and it’s based mostly on that technique’s pure evolution after 16 years of doing it that method.

Computer programming based mostly on percentages, to me, makes some fairly daring assumptions at some stage in 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/energy/energy program for a soccer participant, code the weeks with prescribed percentages, and then faucet in a one-rep max to be our baseline for the chances, I am asking the athletes to be good with their diet, their relaxation, their effort — always. And let’s face it, none of them are. It’s practically unimaginable for an individual to be that dialed-in all the 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, though I use what appears to be like like an algebraic method in my head to find out masses, 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 when I understand that the entire workforce 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 hearth to remain engaged with every of my athletes. You can ask me at any time of a coaching cycle what the load on so-and-so’s bench is on his second set, and 99 out of 100 occasions, I will know what’s occurring.

How I Program

If you have been to look at me program, that is what it could appear like: I have a stack of sheets, and each will get the signature “pause and think.” I have to have a look at the athlete’s identify and rapidly overview and keep in mind what this particular person did final week. Then the writing begins. I will 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 potential for every particular person.

When it involves teaching, I am promoting an concept. I am promoting a method. I am asking my athletes to have full religion in me as I make choices for them. The method I function offers my athletes full freedom to not suppose. 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’s going to excite you as a lot as combing your hair or placing mustard in your sandwich. But when I provide you with a sheet with my handwriting on it, you need to see somebody who’s partnered with you. The handwriting tells the athletes I have taken the time to consider them day by day of each week.

Featured Image: Chris Holder



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