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The right programme can be the difference between becoming a good lifter or becoming a great lifter…To be a good lifter you need reasonable technique, strength & speed. To be a great lifter you need excellent technique, superior strength & exceptional speed. And of course other factors of high importance like; flexibility, nutrition, commitment, dedication, coaching, a support network, and so on.
All programmes work but some work better than others!
So what defines a good programme?
Throughout many years of involvement in Olympic Weightlifting I have written hundreds or maybe thousands of programmes for weightlifters, sportspeople and weekend warriors.
With time and experience my style of programming has evolved and I now see several crucial components of a good programme.These are:
5. Goal setting
6. Regular Monitoring
7. Environment & Culture
I am referring to the ability of the coach & athlete to change and adjust the programme as necessary. This can be due to numerous reasons like injury, work or study commitments, and personal circumstances.
There needs to be relatively defined periodisation stages within a programme. Ideally there needs to be an allowance for working on base strength, developing power and technique. Manipulating these three PLUS ensuring your lifter peaks at the right time is an art form in itself.
How do you get your lifter to perform to their best on the right day at the right time? The lifter must be in the ideal physical & mental state for the preferred competition they are peaking for. This is achieved through good programming along with great communication & understanding of your lifter.
Challenging the lifter at various stages in the programme in different exercises is stimulating for the lifter and hugely indicative for the coach. These need not always be single maximums in my opinion.
What is the purpose of your programme? What are your aims for this year and next? Are you programming & training aimlessly or do you have predefined goals?
We set goals in life and have goals set for us too; sport is the same and also similarly you must set realistic goals. To reach or exceed your goal is far more rewarding than to not meet your goal.
I write my programmes weekly in advance because things change! We – my lifter & I – have an overall plan and goal to work towards BUT that doesn’t mean we set a programme for 12 or 18 weeks and do it no matter what. You must be aware of what is going on in the lifter’s life, their work – study – social – family commitments, their training rating, their recovery, and their general state of mind & wellbeing.
The programme could make or break them!
Environment & Culture:
What is the training environment like? Is it conducive to good progress – is it an encouraging environment – is it a competitive environment? Are all the elements of a good training gym present? Is all the necessary equipment available?
Is your athlete good in a busy or quiet environment? Do they prefer to be coached or left alone?
Is your athlete a “worker” or a “star”? Are they naturally strong or naturally athletic? How much time in the day do they have to train, to recover, to eat, and to review their training? How much funding do they have to allow them to train? Do they have ready access to nutritional & medical [doctors, physio, chiro, osteo] support?
As a coach you need to develop your programmes with all these factors in mind. It takes time and requires dedication but you need to know your lifter. As their coach you need to understand what their life goals are also – is weightlifting their major aim or is it an interest?
You may have a standard programme that you deliver to all your athletes which will most likely work for some but maybe not for all. Given some of the thoughts above it is obviously necessary and hugely important in my opinion to personalise the programme to your lifter.
One size does not fit all!!!
This can also be important from the lifter’s perspective so that they feel they are being personally coached and not just doing what everyone else is doing too!
Apart from the programme we have touched on other aspects of a coach – lifter relationship which require more in depth discussion and there are also other areas we haven’t mentioned – like competition preparation and management of attempts. BUT fundamentally a lot of the improvement a lifter will make can be due to a well thought out and appropriately managed training programme.
Olympic Weightlifting Coach