Question: How do you choose the volume work and which accessory lifts have you seen have the biggest carryover for athletes to the field?
Answer: Let's establish a few things before we answer this question. All weight training and similar training activities are GPP (general physical preparedness) for the field athlete. At this level of football and with this level of athlete, the carryover we want from our weight training is strength, size and speed. I'm amazed at how many people train kids like they are Olympic level athletes who need some advanced programming/training. It is also equally obnoxious to train them like they are elderly or made of glass, having entire workouts of pre-hab, rehab and balance work. If you are an athlete who hasn't mastered basic calisthenics, running and bodyweight movements, you better build your base before you try to touch the clouds. No base = no foundation. And a proper foundation isn't built on a Bosu.
All exercises when COACHING (big difference between coaching and training) are based on the following:
Which exercises can large groups of kids perform in a limited amount of time?
For example, if you have 50 kids and 1 lat pull station - you are not doing lat pulls. So the exercises I choose are the ones that we, as a large group, can perform without killing the state's budget and my personal time. In other words, all of the assistance is done with bodyweight, dumbbells or barbells. The vast majority of our assistance work consists of the following movements:
- DB incline/flat press
- DB incline row
- Full Range Plate Raises
- DB Squat
- DB SLDL
- Barbell Curls
Lucky for the athletes, when the above movements are done with the squat, trap bar and bench press - its an unbeatable combination. Remember that my coaching goal for the athletes, when lifting weights, is to build muscle and strength. Once we do that, magically their speed improves and everything else falls into place. There are other facets to our training but for our strength training, the goals are simple. It need not be Organic Chemistry when the kids cannot run a sub 6:00 mile, bench 400lbs, perform 20 strict pull-ups and jump on a 52" box.
Question: What is the general progression of your volume increases? Or do you have different blocks during the off-season?
Answer: I don't think "block training" is appropriate for the level of athlete I train. Maybe other schools have vast waves of advanced level lifters who, because they've been touched by god, are also highly advanced athletes. Amazing! Anyway, as mentioned prior, I have my standards and until everyone meets these standards - we use a concurrent training model.
Concurrent, as all of you know from Training 101, is raising several levels of training simultaneously. 100% of kids can get bigger, stronger and get in better shape at the same time. It doesn't need to be "blocked" - that's how you scam sport coaches and parents out of cash. Talk over their heads and pretend to be smart.
I have a base level our athletes can reach - once we are there, I do NOT raise the volume because it always results in taking a giant, stinky dump. But you have to find that threshold as each group of athletes will be a bit different. You gotta find the ledge, push them a little over and consult your notes as to what the signs were. Now you have the evidence you need to be a better, more strategic coach and make consistent progress with your athletes without the impending doom of over-training them. This is ONLY learned through experience.
The goal of training is never to do a lot - it's to do what you need to do to - and then no more. If the athletes got better/stronger doing 3 sets at 95lbs - then that's what I'd do. Don't be married to work for work's sake; that's akin to flagellation. Or work them into a hole for ego and internet bragging rights, as that is reprehensible as well.
However you choose to train your athletes, remember that you are part of the personal development, too. Many of these young men will look up to you and it's important that you provide a great example of a strong, independent man. Hold yourself to the highest standard possible. This doesn't mean you can't make mistakes; it means to expect your athletes to mirror your attitude.