Biggest Mistakes Coaches Make in the Weight Room

This series will illustrate some of the most common mistakes we see sport coaches make in the weight room. If you are a strength coach reading this, you will very likely cringe/laugh/cry because you have seen all of this stuff too many times already. If you are a sport coach making these mistakes…well, you’re very likely to be offended. Sorry (a little bit)! But enough with the prefacing…on to the first mistake! 

1. Emphasizing the Wrong Things

I figure if I’m going to enrage every sport coach in the coaching universe (that’s a lot of coaches!), I might as well start it off with a bang. One of the biggest differentiators between real strength coaches and sport coaches is where they place the emphasis when training. Sport coaches often emphasize a specific piece of equipment (“my athletes love our new Vertimax”), a specific exercise (“we don’t believe in hang cleans for swimmers”), or a specific workout (“killer back/biceps day today”). Stop it. 

Side note: if we WERE to emphasize a single piece of equipment, it would be the Glute-Ham Developer. A single exercise would be the BB Back Squat, and train on a program focused on long-term athletic development. 

The BB Back Squat could be an important exercise to emphasize.

The BB Back Squat could be an important exercise to emphasize.

Strength coaches, on the other hand, emphasize the long-term athletic development of their athletes. It’s not about a single kick-ass workout; it’s about how the athletes develop over time. Now, this isn't to say that strength coaches don’t love the different elements of bad-ass training listed above, but we don’t place all of our eggs in the “that was an awesome workout; I totally puked my brains out” basket. There is a lot more to training than swinging kettlebells for time or adding 5 lbs. to your bench press at every opportunity.

So what does this all mean? How do we actually go about emphasizing the overall physical development of our athletes in practice?

Well, we start by mapping out what’s called a “macrocycle” of training. A macrocycle is most commonly represented as the length of a full year, but it could be longer or shorter depending on what you’re looking to achieve by training. In our world here at Volt, we live in year-long macrocycles because we are commonly creating programs for athletes and teams that operate year to year in their training and competition. Incorporated in the macrocycle is a series of “mesocycles,” or what we refer to as training phases (check out a breakdown of Volt's training program). Each phase of training carries a series of attributes with it, including unique movements, loads, volumes, and relative intensities. And within each mesocycle is a “microcycle,” which we at Volt define as a single week of training. We strategically progress athletes week to week and phase to phase in a focused effort to enable the adaptations needed to compete at their highest level.  

So there you have it. Voila! Microcycles (weeks) built into mesocycles (phases), built into macrocycles (years) of training. If you do it right, you can develop a real training program that places the long-term development of the athlete front and center. 

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Dan Giuliani is a regular contributor to the Volt blog. He is CSCS-certified, a co-founder of Volt Athletics and an adjunct professor of Sports Performance at the University of Washtington.
Learn more about Dan and read his other posts