If you’ve never done something, then you don’t understand it. It truly baffles me as to how strength coaches can have the audacity not to take their own training seriously. Granted, this does not include everyone. I know several coaches who train very hard on a consistent basis. I also know others who have competed at a very high level in the past; however, having since retired from their sport, they no longer have the desire or need to push their bodies to extreme levels. These are not the coaches I will be referring to in this article. These coaches have earned the right to workout in whatever manner they choose. The coaches I’m referring to, on the other hand, are the ones who are too lazy, too unorganized, too undisciplined, or not committed enough to get under the bar and train.

Anyone who has the desire to be a strength coach should be very passionate about training. (This includes being passionate for training your athletes as well as your own training). If you are a strength coach and are not passionate about training, then why do you want to be a strength coach? If you are truly passionate about what you do, then there is no way you would let the opportunity to improve slip by. When it comes to training, we have to set the example for our athletes. Furthermore, we can actually learn just as much (if not more) from getting under the bar than we can from any book we read or conference we attend.

We learn under the bar, so we must consistently get under the bar.

I’ve heard coaches say that they don’t learn much from their own workouts because they don’t train in the same manner as the athletes with whom they work. Well, this is ridiculous. Unless you’re a strength coach who does't use strength training with your teams, then you should absolutely be able to learn from your own training. I have been lifting for twenty years and have been competing in powerlifting for twelve years, and I am still learning by getting under the bar. Squats, cleans, deadlifts, snatches, presses, rows, etc. are all strength training movements that can benefit athletes. As a coach, you have to be able to understand and teach these movements. There is a big difference between squatting 225 pounds and squatting 600 pounds. In fact, they’re not even in the same world. And it’s not just the weight—your technique has to be much more honed in at 600 pounds than at 225 pounds, and you wouldn’t know this unless you’ve done it. If you’re a coach who is too lazy to train hard, then I truly feel sorry for the athletes who you are trying to teach how to get stronger.

We have to manage our time efficiently.

We do not allow athletes to make excuses as to why they can’t make it to a scheduled workout. As coaches, we demand that our athletes take care of homework and study for tests at times other than when they are supposed to train. Setting group meetings for the same time as a workout is unacceptable. Yet, it’s okay when a coach doesn’t train because something came up? It’s okay not to train because you are behind on getting workouts updated for teams? No, these things are not okay! It’s not okay for a coach to be less organized and have worse time management skills than the 19- and 20-year-old athletes he is teaching.

It doesn’t matter what else is going on, training should be a priority.

As strength coaches, we are probably going to be tired at some point in time. Hell, many of us are tired the majority of the time. We forget to bring our workout clothes. We have fights with our significant others. Some of us are even still young and have too much fun on the weekends. However, none of these are valid excuses not to train. Would you accept these excuses from your athletes? If Johnny Slacker called you and said that he had just pulled two all-nighters studying for tests and was too tired to train, well, then you would probably tell him "too bad" and to" get to the weight room." Don’t let yourself have less discipline than what you expect from your athletes.

We have to be willing to make sacrifices to reach the goals we have set for ourselves.

Being a strength coach often means that our days can be very unpredictable. We may plan to train at 9:00 a.m., but at 8:55 a.m. a sport coach may walk into your office and take up an hour and a half of your time. Well, now you must start getting ready for the next group. Then, before you know it, it is 7 p.m. and you haven’t trained yet, and you have to be back in the office 5:00 a.m. the next morning. First off, you’re tired. Furthermore, if you train now, then you won’t get home until at least 9:00 p.m. Oh, and don't forget that you would still have to eat dinner—which means that you wouldn't get to bed until after 10:00 p.m...and your alarm is set to go off at 3:15 a.m. Do you possess the same commitment to your training and goals that you ask of your athletes?

Be a role model.

Many of you are probably making the excuse that coaching is your job and that your athletes’ job is to train. While that statement is true, as strength coaches, we are also role models. We should hold ourselves to a higher standard than to what we hold our athletes—not a lower one. The attitude, work ethic, and commitment of athletes will reflect the attitude, work ethic, and commitment of their coach. Trust me, athletes notice when coaches take their training seriously, and it is more important to them than coaches realize. Additionally, we have to train so that we can understand how to teach our athletes to train.

Getting It Done

Everything I’ve said above is much easier said than done. A strength coach’s job can get very hectic at times, and the hours tend to be long. With that said, it’s still not impossible to get in quality training. In Part 2, I will discuss how to put this into action.