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Strength Training to Create Stronger Athletes

On my last road trip I met many high school level coaches that do not have the benefit of having a professional strength coach on their staff. One coach in particular approached me with his frustrations; he had been trying to bulk up his players in the off season, but with all of the agility and running they were doing many players were actually losing weight with strength gains that were far from impressive.

I forwarded this to my friend Mickey Marotti, Director of Strength and Conditioning at University of Florida. Now Coach Marotti knows what it takes to create a strong athletic football player. Coach Marotti has played a critical role for the Championships enjoyed at such prestigious programs as University of Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame and of course he was played a role in the last two championships with Florida.

Coach Marotti-


“First of all they must MAKE TIME to strength train. The other thing is they must eat and hydrate to elicit a positive response. If they were to strength train maybe in the morning and then do the running and agility in the afternoon, they will probably see some good results. They should also make sure they are training hard. If they don’t train hard, it does not really matter. I hope this helps.”

Address the Weakness in Your Strength Training Program

I have had the privilege of attending several of Coach Marotti’s strength clinics and I must say “be there!” You “will” learn and your team “will” benefit. In just a few words Coach Marotti has pointed out a few critical weaknesses in many programs. ¬†Prioritize and address the weakness in your program. Put that weakness first, and attack it with purpose. If it is strength you need, there is no point in dragging your players into the weight room after two hours of running drills they will not be able to perform to the best of their abilities.

While we are discussing strength training lets define it as a structured protocol with measurable and progressive challenges specifically targeted to increase an athletes muscular output. I am probably going to open up a big can of worms here, but understand that just because someone is “working” it does not necessarily mean they are strength training. I once observed a team barrel rolling down a hillside then running back up the hill. It was obviously hard work, after 30 minutes in the hot Texas sun, those boys were really sweating and cursing, but it was “not” strength training. The presence of sweat and busy bodies is a great display of work, which is great, but it is not strength training.

Strength training should be a structured full body program of progressive resistance that can be measured and quantified over time. Just because we have a bunch of kids running a circuit in the weight room, does not mean we are strength training. If Johnny is capable of leg pressing 600 lbs for 20 reps, but is given 30 seconds to run to the leg press station that is loaded with 250 lbs, then the whistle blows signifying his time to start his twenty explosive reps before running to the next station, Johnny is not challenging his body to elicit any adaptive response to the challenge at hand. It sounds farfetched, but I have observed the above example hundreds of times.

Outline your Weightlifting Program and Set Benchmarks

Outline your program with several key benchmarks over a specific period of time. The benchmarks are in place to monitor and adjust for success. Establish baselines for each athlete at the beginning of your program, you must know where you are before you can know where to go. Training Hard will involve a level of effort that will force the body to adapt to the stress because the workload is hard and uncomfortable. We adapt to discomfort and stress, callouses on the hands are not created with lotion! Intensity and effort is not rocket science, if an athlete performs 12 reps with a weight that he can do 20 reps that is not intense. Intense is watching an athlete grind out twelve reps then having his partner slightly touch the bar for the last half of a rep so he can finish just one more.

The key to success here is going to be the monitoring, or documenting your program. Some coaches do it with computer centers and strength software. Others have kids record in journals that they carry on clipboards. Still others might use index cards that are kept in the athletes file box.

Share your thoughts with me on how your school is creating stronger athletes. Any creative ways to monitor the programs would be awesome.

Let’s get these kids strong, and keep them healthy!!

Press On – Be Strong

Tyler Hobson


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