If you’re still playing football, this article isn’t for you so stop reading now. Just listen to your coach. This article is for anyone who wants to quit making excuses as to why their job, family, or anything else prohibits them from lifting. I’m creating a mission statement for a lifestyle that so many people on this site live and so many people who read this site wish that they could live. But I’m no “Jedi Master” of the lifting world. I’m not an elite lifter. I’m a 35-year-old head coach for a Western Pennsylvania high school football team who found time to lift during the season.
Before I get to the good part where I give away my plan for how I got my lifts in during the season, I feel that I should give a little background information. In Western Pennsylvania, football is king. We take it very seriously here and that includes the fans, boosters, school boards, and community. There’s no such thing as a half-ass coach here. We all must put in tremendous amounts of time and effort to be successful and keep our jobs.
I’m a teacher, which means that I have to work every day of the school year and also take work home in the evenings sometimes. I have a family—a wonderful wife and three beautiful children who are at the ages of six, five, and 18 months. The point is I have a lot of responsibility just like every other successful adult in the real world. However, after getting back into lifting seriously (not just beach lifts) four years ago, I found myself with a dilemma. I made great gains from
Christmas until football camp started, but then I made excuses as to why I couldn’t lift during the season. By the time I got back in the weight room, I was basically starting over again every winter.
So why give EliteFTS all of the credit? Well, I can truly say that EliteFTS made the difference. Their site has great articles, explanations, and an exercise index. I’ve learned so much in the last several years from reading the resources on EliteFTS and then trying out what I had read. And I got all of it for free!
EliteFTS also has the attitude—get stronger or you’re a pussy. There are no excuses, and they have a true respect and brotherhood for those who get stronger. EliteFTS is like a training partner. They have tons of program/template information available on the site. I’ve been able to fit proven methods into a crazy schedule at a crazy time of the year and continue to make progress in spite of the adversity. I also love that they sell stuff online. What a great place to buy whatever you need to help you get stronger. The last time I checked, WalMart didn’t carry Jump
Stretch bands, Spud straps, reverse hyper Machines, or anything else that I would put in my weight room.
Now for the good part…this is the plan that I used this season to get my lifts in. My basic plan was the 5, 3, 1 method from the true Jedi Master, Jim Wendler. This program has been very popular and with good reason. It’s simple, quick, and doesn’t require a bunch of fancy lifts or equipment. Plus, it’s fun to break PRs every week. However, my schedule was tweaked just a little to get everything in that I wanted to do every week.
Here was my weekly schedule…
Monday was 5, 3, 1 squat day because the Monday night quarterback club meetings dictated a quick workout. I can squat with shorter rest periods than with the other main lifts. There was no time spent setting up bands or chains, and all squats were done on a parallel box to help me continue to work form and recover more quickly because I do get tired during the season. After squatting, I did three sets of 8–12 reps of a good morning variation and then reverse hypers with the loose strap. I always did just those three exercises on Mondays and normally finished in 30 minutes including a warm up and static stretching afterward.
On Tuesdays, I got in pull-ups and abs. EliteFTS staff member, Harry Selkow, has been giving me a pull-up plan and it has been working great. Typically, my workout was ten sets of pull-ups supersetted with ten sets of glute ham raise sit-ups or ab pull-downs. It was a quick workout again, and I was done in 15 minutes.
Wednesdays were military days using the 5, 3, 1 method. I did standing military presses, 5–10 sets of push-ups, and a few sets of shrugs or draw rows (a big yoke is important). Again, this was a quick workout. It lasted 30 minutes tops.
I took Thursdays off. Fridays were game nights. This allowed me an awesome time to train right after school let out at 2:25 p.m. With no players around, I could get an intense, undistracted, heavy deadlift workout in that got my mind off of the game for an hour. I rotated between sumo and conventional every four weeks. After deadlifting, I did my second day of Coach Selkow’s plan, which included pull-ups, glute ham raises, and tight strap reverse hypers. By the way, I followed the exact plan that EliteFTS prescribed in their reverse hyper article. Using the 5, 3, 1 method, I set records almost every week this season!
Saturdays had too much of a drain on me to train so I took those days off (hangover/late night films).
Sundays were great days in the weight room. Everyone loves bench day, right? Unfortunately, I was there by myself finishing the game plan so I never did a regular bench press during those twelve weeks. I still used the 5, 3, 1 method, but I switched back and forth every four weeks between the floor press and the cage static press so that I could go heavy and not worry about killing myself without a spotter. In addition, my shoulders have been a weakness (just like most raw benchers) so these lifts worked well for me. I just used my previous 1RM on them and calculated the percentages just like everyone else does with the 5, 3, 1 method. I don’t think that just doing floor presses and cage static presses would be great over the long haul, but for a twelve-week period, they were just fine. I got stronger, and I didn’t have to drop any weights on my belly and roll them off (even though I think I only missed one rep the entire twelve weeks).
After the main lift, I did dips, heavy abs, triceps, and rear delts. I still included prehabilitation movements, a dynamic warm up, and a static, full body stretch afterward. My workout never went over an hour. It was also nice to have that upper body “pump” going on while watching the Steelers games!
After my main lifts, I normally circuited or supersetted my accessory stuff. This was to get everything else done more quickly and to get my heart rate up. Some days were faster paced than others.
My sets/reps/weeks for the main lifts were:
Week one: 3s
Week two: 5s
Week three: 5, 3, 1
Week four: deload
My accessory stuff was all higher rep stuff. I normally did 10–20 reps per set. My deload weeks were important, and I never did my main lifts on those weeks. I did things like leg presses and dumbbell presses instead, but I never went all out. I felt great the following weeks! I believe I made vast improvements in many of my lifts by increasing my ability to do pull-ups. Thanks again, Coach Selkow!
In the past during the rest of the year, I did a traditional four-day a week Westside style template. I think that just changing things up helped more than anything in my awesome progress this fall. However, after the success that I’ve had with this hodge-podge of a plan, I think I’m going to stick with the 5, 3, 1 method for awhile and just follow it the normal way. My way was just done out of necessity to get everything in during football season and still see my family.
I know there will be critics of my plan. I realize that there are some things missing like cardio, horizontal pulling, speed work, unilateral stuff, and probably a few other things. However, I can tell you it worked for me, and that’s what is important. I tested after the twelve weeks, and my squat went up 25 lbs, my bench went up 15 lbs, and my deadlift went up 20 lbs! I was also lucky enough to avoid injury and rarely felt overtrained, even though I never get enough sleep this time of year. I probably drank too much beer and bourbon celebrating wins and drowning my sorrows after losses, too.
In conclusion, I must say that I’m very proud of my efforts. Most other coaches whom I talk to barely find the time during the season to have their players lift let alone find the time to lift themselves. However, with the knowledge and support that I’ve gained from EliteFTS, I’ve been able to make my players some of the strongest pound for pound players in the area, and I’ve also found out how to make progress with my own training during my craziest time of the year. I set PRs in every thing this fall. I give full credit to the articles, logs, and Q&As from the EliteFTS site. I wish that I could take the time to cite every article that has had an impact on me, but that would be a tremendous undertaking. As I approach my next goal for my three-lift total, I truly pay homage and total respect to the guys at EliteFTS for everything that they do to help the strength world. Thanks again!
Questions or comments? Drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org
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