My Pet Peeves with Strength & Conditioning Programs

Strength and Conditioning has been a rapidly growing field in the fitness industry since the 80’s and 90’s. Nowadays, virtually every single college and professional athletics program have a strength and conditioning regimen implemented. Now, this seems great and all, but there are some issues I have with the S&C field.

Of course, not every single coach is guilty of these flaws, but from my personal experiences, these are the things that bother me most.

1) Lack of Specificity

Picture this situation: a 6’5″ pitcher and a 5’8″ second baseman are given the exact same workout. The 5’8″ guy excels with this program, while the 6’5″ pitcher struggles through it and eventually hurts himself. From a general standpoint, why is this?

Every single body on this planet is different, in one way or another. Our biomechanical makeup is unique, regardless of the person. Therefore, we should train the same way, with specificity.

Let’s say that in the two baseball player’s situations, their programs asked for them to complete 5 sets of 2 heavy deadlifts from a deficit platform. The 5’8″ guy has long arms to compliment his short legs, as well as adequate hip mobility, so this could be an ideal exercise for him. On the other side of the spectrum, the guy that is 6’5″ has a much tougher time getting into the bottom position of the deadlift due to a combination of longer lower extremities and a restriction of hip flexion. Therefore, this is an exercise he should try to avoid. As you can see, not every exercise works well with each individual. The challenge is to find lifts the athlete could perform with good form while also benefitting from a strength and athletic performance standpoint.

I’m going to use myself as an example. I am a much better deadlifter than I am squatter. My best deadlift is 450 pounds while my squat is only a shade over 300. Why?

Well, because I’m 6’3″, it requires a lot more work production to get to depth in the squat. The bar has to travel a longer distance due to my long limbs compared to someone shorter than me whose center of gravity is closer to the floor. The deadlift doesn’t have much of an eccentric phase to the lift, so this already requires less work to be done. Along with this, I have pretty long arms, which allows me to get down into position without requiring a great amount of hip flexion. Because I have longer than average arms, producing maximal tension in the deadlift is easier for me than it is in the squat because of the decreased amount of movement.

So, the moral of the story is: biomechanics matter!

2.) Quantity Over Quality

I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this happen in a weight room or in a video. An athlete steps up to a bar with a weight load on it that they shouldn’t even be sniffing, let alone attempting to lift. There’s numerous videos on YouTube of college programs (even top Division I programs) loading bars up with weight just to follow up with crappy form with the lift they’re executing. All it takes is one shitty rep of an exercise to screw yourself up structurally for good.

3.) Time Constraints

In a college weight room, time restrictions play a big factor in workout quality. A strength coach could have a new team every hour on the dot during his work day. Now, this obviously isn’t his fault, but time efficiency becomes an important task to accomplish. When time isn’t on your side, chances are you’re rushing through your workout. Optimal rest = optimal strength = optimal performance.

Along with rest, I like to take my time before workouts with soft tissue work as well as different mobility exercises. I can us up to an hour alone on certain days with these different activation movements and massage techniques. So obviously, for me personally, an hour to squeeze all this in wouldn’t be ideal for me. It might be for somebody else, all comes back to the unique traits of each human body.

4.) Getting Too Fancy

I am a firm believer in mastering the basics when it comes to working out. As I’ve stated before, there is so much information out there now, where it can become really confusing as to where to start and where/when to progress. The variations of exercises are endless today thanks to all the new “hi-tech” equipment. However, are all these variations beneficial. Well…

Should you squat on a BOSU ball without adequate hip and ankle mobility? No.
Should you bench press against band resistance when you are an overhead throwing athlete with poor scapular stability? No.
Should you plank on a stability ball when you don’t have enough core strength to maintain proper posture on the stable floor? No.

All of these exercises could be beneficial, we just need to find an appropriate variation!

Of course, as I’ve stated earlier, not every single strength coach is guilty of these flaws. There are plenty of great strength coaches out there that get a bad reputation because of the crappy ones. Just like any other industry, there’s going to be individuals better at their role than others. That’s just how it is, and this concludes my rant of the flaws bad strength coaches have attained.

And a side note, Eric Cressey dropped his new book/training resource last night. I can’t wait to buy my copy of the High Performance Handbook later on tonight and take my game to the next level!

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