Feb 18, 2002

What are our Athletes Training For?

February 18 "College students have a number of daily and weekly obligations and commitments: class attendance, study time, part-time employment, meals, sleep and personal matter. This can be a job in itself." -Tom Kelso

StrongerAthletes.com believes athletes should spend 1.5 hours to 3 hours in the weight room per week. In order to do this the athlete must be on a productive and efficient program. Strength training is an activity to help athletes perform their sport specific skills to the best of their ability.

Then why do coaches implement Olympic lifts in their program at the college level and especially at the high school level? Athletes at these levels are very busy with classes, practice, study time, social life, and rest. It takes quite a bit of time to learn and master the proper execution of the quick lifts. Athletes must have a proper balance in life; Weight room time being just a fraction of that time.

Tom Kelso, Strength Coach at the University of Illinois Chicago, in his article “Strength Training the Collegiate Athlete” explains,
“Valid research studies and empirical results obtained from hands-on experience have all proven that a minimal amount of very demanding training is all that is necessary to stimulate strength gains. Common sense then dictates that if a low volume is effective, then it should be used because of its many virtues, most significant being the time efficiency factor.”

Kelso continues, “College STUDENTS have a number of daily and weekly obligations and commitments: class attendance, study time, part-time employment, meals, sleep and personal matter. This can be a job in itself. College STUDENT-ATHLETES have the same, including all obligations relating to their sport: practice, meetings, contests, team functions, travel, strength training, conditioning, etc. It is a “no-brainer” then that the most logical approach to all sport-related commitments be quality oriented and done as efficiently as possible. If the existing time alotted for strength training can be reduced-and yet produce the same or better results-one should take advantage of it.”

In order to implement Olympic lifts in a program, athletes must spend a considerable amount of time in the weight room. Certainly more that the 1.5-3 hours we recommend. StrongerAthletes.com realizes that many of these programs still only spend only 2-3 hours per week in the weight room but these coaches may not really be concerned if the athletes are executing the Olympic lifts with perfect form. We have heard many coaches say, “Well I havn’t had any major injuries yet.” These athletes do get those minor injuries and what about how these kids' backs will be when they get older. We talked to many former athletes and they do attribute Olympic lifting to some of their back pain in life today. Do they know for sure, well probably not, but we believe there are more former players with back pain that used to do the quick lifts than the athletes that did not. We would like some feedback on this.

JP O’Shea reported, in “ Principles and Methods of Strength Fitness”, the major causes of low back pain among athletes using weight training or Olympic lifting are due to: 1) lifting weights improperly from the floor, 2) overhead lifting, 3) loss of balance when lifting, 4) trying to catch oneself after a slip, and 5) insufficient warm-up.

StrongerAthletes.com will not be a possible contributer to an athlete's back pain now or in the future. Good form performing Olympic lifts will help reduce the amount of injuries in athletes but much more time spent in the weight room teaching these lifts is a must. Not only that, proper supervision is also a necessity. We have not seen the proper supervision and coaching especially at the high school level.

One coach training 30-40 athletes is an impossible scenario for proper supervision using Olympic lifts. Even with necessary time, the Olympic lifts have been known to cause many injuries when athletes have very good form. If a coach did demand this kind of time from their athletes, we ask: “What are you training your athletes for? An Olympic lifting competition?” We maintain that these lifts do very little to help athletes in their prospective sports as our research indicates in previous articles.

Get your athletes in the weight room and then get them out. Spend proper time on specific skills for your sport and spend more time studying, your athletes will be much better off.

StrongerAthletes.com Strength Training Coach's Manual


We are proud to present, a brief but complete strength training manual for use by athletes, coaches, and strength training instructors. The manual covers the fundamentals of safe, efficient, and productive strength training techniques. The coach will find many coaching points and tips to assist in implementing the StrongerAthletes.com philosophy into training sessions or classes.

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