Chasing Greatness

What I hate most about strength training

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I am sure you have heard of this too…
I hate when I hear coaches who are in-season state they are using a ‘maintenance program’ in the weight room.
The claim is to maintain muscular strength throughout the athletic sports’ season.
During any athletic season, I thought the primary goal is to continue to gain strength and power?
So how does maintenance fit in?
How can you maintain your strength throughout an entire season?
I just read a training program I found online that a baseball player in-season, from May to September, should focus on of strength. Then at the end of the season, from October to December, the emphasis is on recovery and maintenance. 

The author of that training program is saying that a baseball player, who relies on strength and power, should try and maintain strength for 5-8 months.  I really don’t know how that is possible.

Imagine trying to maintain your strength for an entire professional baseball season…or even a shorter high school sports season.

Let’s say you reach a certain strength level and you can now squat 400lbs. by the end of baseball preseason. If you rely on a maintenance program for the following 5 months, you will actually lose strength. Your body will adapt and plateau at that level (400lbs.) and then will decrease in performance because it is not challenged. Your body wants to get stronger and needs pushed to get stronger.

Here is a basic peridoization plan for weight training:
1)      GPP/Conditioning
2)      Hypertrophy Phase
3)      Maximal Strength Phase
4)      Speed/ Power Phase
The coaches that use a maintenance program are throwing it in as #5. So after they have developed strength and power with their athletes, they now want to stop their progression. If you want fast, powerful and strong athletes, then you have to train that way. Continue to improve these abilities.

Anyway, if a strength maintenance program did work, why would you use it? Don’t you want your athletes to get progressively stronger and not sustain a minimum level?

Just the other day I was on the phone with Duane Carlisle, Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach of the San Francisco 49ers and featured Instructor of the Speed Clinic Empire Mentorship Program 

Our conversation turned to strength training.

He described to me how the weight room training program he uses with the 49ers, and for previous teams he worked with [Philadelphia Eagles (Football), New Jersey Pride (Lacrosse), Philadelphia Charge (Soccer), Tampa Bay Devil Rays (Baseball)], the focus is on getting his athletes stronger.
Throughout the season, his athletes are getting more powerful and stronger and are setting new strength records by the end of the season.
That is the way you have to do it. If you are not getting stronger then you are getting weaker.

I know that Duane works with the Pros, and you may be saying to yourself, ‘Self, I work with high school athletes, how does that relate to what professional athletes are doing?

Great question! The high school season is much shorter so it makes it even more important to develop strength for the entire season. There is no time to go through the GPP, hypertrophy, max strength, power and maintenance phases in 3-4 months.  If you are trying to ‘maintain’ strength during a high school season, you are missing out on precious time to create the foundational strength needed for high school athletes to develop while they are there.
What would be even worse is this … you were a baseball coach and you get a 3 sport athlete (that’s not the bad part).

This athlete plays football and his coach uses a maintenance program. Next, that athlete is also a basketball player, and that coach uses a maintenance program. Finally he comes to you and you are using a maintenance program throughout baseball season. You are going to have an extremely weak player.

In the 9-10 months that your athlete is actually competing, when is he actually getting stronger?
It doesn’t matter if your athletes are in high school, college or the pros, they still need to continuously develop their strength and power. (I would say that it is even more important for your high school athletes!)
If you don’t believe me and are currently running a maintenance program for most of your sports season, the best way I can convince you is to have you test. At the end of preseason, test your athlete’s strength and power. Then run the same tests at the end of the season.
Do you see an increase or decrease in their scores?
Also, does your athlete’s performance seem to be fading at the end of the year?
As a coach of any sport, you need to realize what your end goal is. What is the main competition that you want to prepare your athletes for? If the biggest game or competition for your team is the championship at the end of the season, then you should have your athletes be the strongest for that date.
Strength training needs to be looked at as the same as speed and power training, you need to structure it and make a plan on how to optimally develop it so your athletes will be at their best when it counts the most.
Yours in speed,
Patrick Beith
P.S.- To discover how to put together and structure an ENTIRE speed training program (acceleration, strength, top speed, flexibility, warm-up, conditioning, power, speed endurance, and more), go to:

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