Greasing the Groove by Training the Coach

TAGS: football training camp, football season, todd hamer, programming, strength and conditioning, muscle, football, athlete, strength, powerlifting, strength training, strength coach

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I've repeated many times how important I believe it is for a strength coach to train himself (or herself). In order to be a productive leader, you have to go through what you're asking others to put themselves through. As we age, this can become increasingly difficult. One guy I've always looked up to in regards to his training is Carl Johnson. Currently, Carl is a high school strength coach. I believe I've quoted him at one point in this article series. I've always looked up to him because I know that he has put the hours in the weight room training others, yet he still has the mental toughness to go into the room and push himself after a long day of pushing others. I know many others who do this and I use them as my inspiration whenever I'm feeling like I need a day off or some rest that I may not have earned. Knowing that I want to push myself as well as push others, I must continue to find new ways to train that keep me moving forward. This leads me to where I am today.

Football Training Camp

As I write this, we've just started football camp. This means that I'm at work ten to 13 hours a day. The actual time I spend working is normally around four hours with some down time between my actual “working hours.”

With this in mind, I wanted to try something new with my training as we head into the football season. I reached out to Bryan Mann and asked him what he thought. We had a good talk, and he threw some new and old ideas at me. One that piqued my interest was Pavel’s "greasing the groove" concept. Bryan and I agreed that with me being at work every day for 28 straight days and some free time, I could train every day and not have to worry about off days. I read some decent articles on how others have done this. To be honest, some of it interested me and some of it bored me, so I reached out to Chase Karnes. Chase is a wealth of knowledge and one strong dude. He said that he liked the ideas but that it didn’t fit his training personality. His concern was that there wasn't any time to really push yourself. Basically, he didn’t like doing submaximal weights repeatedly. Chase told me to read some of Jim Wendler’s high frequency ideas. Jim’s articles gave me a few more ideas.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Whitacre

Where I Am Now

With all the new ideas and thoughts in my head, I decided to give this type of training a try. I had just finished a fun deadlift cycle that led to some good results, and while I don’t know the true maxes of all my raw lifts, I could guess what they are.

So here is where I started. My body weight is around 185 pounds, and my lifts are as follows:

  • Squat, 415 pounds
  • Bench, 335 pounds
  • Deadlift, 515 pounds
  • Snatch, 80 kilograms
  • Clean, 110 kilograms

These aren't true maxes but numbers that I've hit in each of these lifts. With the Olympic lifts, I rarely train them, so I’m pretty sure these numbers are way off. I also need to consider that I compete in gear and these are raw numbers. For reference, at a body weight of 181 pounds, my gear numbers are:

  • Squat, 560 pounds
  • Bench, 450 pounds
  • Deadlift, 550 pounds

The Program

I decided to train every day for four straight weeks, and I decided that I would do all of these lifts during the training cycle: snatch, clean, squat, bench, deadlift and pull-up. I also finished every day with one set of curls for one minute (just because it seemed like the right thing to do). However, adding in Chase’s thoughts, I decided that it was important for me to be able to work up on any given lift on certain days if I felt good. So when you see the program, there is space for working up on certain lifts on certain days.


WATCH: Buddy Morris's Physical Preparation for Football


The rules for working up are that I don't have to work up and I should avoid it in the first week. If I choose to work up, I can't miss, and if I do, I can't do that lift the next day (that way I won’t allow myself any misses). In addition, I'm allowed to increase the weight by 10 pounds per lift per week if I feel good. For example, my squats were performed at 3 X 5 at 275 pounds every day. If I feel good in week two, I can do 285 pounds.

The program is below. I've only included one week because it just repeats itself.

part1 part2

Notice that there aren't any percentages, just the actual weight used. I did this because I wanted to make it easy to change the weight, and I only wanted to deal with plates and quarters, so I rounded all the weights. I didn’t want to overthink the program. I really thought about what Chase said and it got me harnessing my inner Henry Rollins. Basically, I just wanted to lift for the pure enjoyment of lifting.

Up to this point, I've mostly lifted alone, and I've varied my lifting music. In honor of Buddy Morris, I even had a fun little Motley Crue day. I'm now one week into this, and I just started to feel a little sore. In the first few sessions, I felt great, but I do think that as I move forward, this will start to weigh on me a little. I've also timed all the sessions and they have taken anywhere from 39 minutes to 57 minutes, depending on how I feel and if anyone interrupts me (they always do). I even had to text Casey Williams to tell him that even though I haven’t trained with him, I do still love him.

Lessons Learned

So far, I'm only one week in, and I'm not sure what I will learn from this. However, I'm having fun doing something completely different. I know that my Olympic lifts are already up because I'm actually working on them. I know that my squats are moving faster because I moved my stance in (I figured the wide stance would kill my hips every day), and I’ve been squatting in Olympic shoes for this cycle. I'm also pretty sure that my bench will go down. Maybe I'm just making this a self-fulfilling prophecy, but that is the only lift that hasn’t felt good.

I also know that there is some merit in keeping things simple for my athletes. I commit much more to these lifts than my athletes do, and doing this reminds me how bad I am at lifting. Imagine if I can get my athletes to learn this?

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