WATCH: Jim Wendler's 2018 elitefts Sports Performance Summit Presentation — Know the Trapdoors of Your Training Program

TAGS: trapdoors, ready to train, bar speed, high school football, main lifts, muscle soreness, in-season training, strength and conditioning coach, assistance exercises, exercise selection, Buddy Morris, Jim Wendler

If you haven't yet watched the previous installments of Jim Wendler's 2018 elitefts Sports Performance Summit presentation, now is a good time to get caught up. In part one, Wendler talked about the level of preparedness of youth athletes today and what it means for optimal programming. In part two, Wendler discussed how he took over a failing high school football team. In part three, he shared the details of his training plan and the structure of each workout. In this final segment of his presentation, Wendler discusses exercise selection, indicators of athlete readiness, and the importance of knowing the "trapdoors" of your training program. He also shares a sample workout in his program to show how it all comes together.

Wendler begins by talking about the long-term nature of his approach. To explain the importance of progressing your training approach slowly, he compares it to cramming for a test: when you rush to try to learn everything the night before an exam, nothing sticks. You don't remember anything. The better approach is to spend 15 minutes studying each day, and then you'll be ready when it's time for the exam. The same principle is true in training. If you put in the work over time, you will see far greater progress than if you try to move from Point A to Point B in the shortest time possible.


WATCH: Jim Wendler's 2018 elitefts Sports Performance Summit Presentation — The High School Football Training Plan


There are many ways to implement this mindset, and it has many positive effects. For instance, Wendler has the kids running early and often; they don't have a huge running background, but by doing what they're capable of from the very beginning, their fitness improves dramatically and they're ready for the season. On average, they run about 1600 meters total in a training day. The last three months before the season the running volume slowly increases. With this slow progression, the athletes reach the point that they can run for 45 minutes straight and they're completely fine, without ever having to kill themselves in training. If you wait too long to include the running, once you do add it, their strength training will sharply decline.

Wendler then shares his beliefs about exercise selection. Including main lifts and assistance exercises, there are only seven movements his team performs. There are several reasons for this:

  1. The kids suck at all the movements. If you change things up too frequently, they never get good at anything.
  2. After two weeks or so in the program, the kids never get sore again. This makes running and practice sessions much easier.
  3. The in-season training can be hard and heavy. Because the movements are limited and variation is low, the kids adapt and are able to keep working hard during the season without hurting their performance on the field. The only main difference in-season is no longer squatting. Instead, trap bar deadlifts are used more and have proven very effective.

Wendler then gives a list of exercises his athletes perform frequently:

He then talks about the use of indicators for determining if the athletes are ready to train. The number one indicator, which Wendler says he learned from Buddy Morris, is the level of conversation between the athletes before the session. If they're talking to each other a lot and you have to quiet them down to get them focused, their energy is on a good level and they're ready to train. If they're quiet and not interacting with each other before the session, they aren't ready. Wendler also discusses how he uses bar speed as an indicator and when he alters the weight and rep counts for the athletes.

Wendler then moves on to speak at a more general level about knowing your program, and more specifically knowing the "trapdoors" of your program. You have to be ready to make changes when things are going poorly. If your athletes are struggling and going through a rut, you have to know what to do to maintain the integrity of the workout while still stepping back. What do you do when an athlete has a problematic shoulder? What happens when their knees hurt? This is why the person running the program is far more important than sets and reps; you have to know what alterations to make and how they work within your program.

To finish his presentation, Wendler shows a full workout for his athletes, including the warm-up, main training work, and assistance exercises. In less than 45 minutes, the athletes make it through 10 sets of squat, five sets of dumbbell incline press, and five sets of dumbbell incline row. The pace of the training also helps them stay in better shape so they can be fit for running without actually having to do the running. Wendler walks through each component of the workout and explains the purpose of each step.


Whole Series

 

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