I've been training for over thirteen years and have come across many different types of future or current athletes and strength coaches at every level. My clients include NFL Super Bowl champions; Division I, II, and III players in football, basketball, baseball, men's soccer, women's soccer, and track; Ohio High School state champs in football; and a Division III Defensive Player of the Year in football. I can say that all my athletes go into a college strength program very prepared both physically and mechanically. They have to have weight room savvy.

All the athletes had different skill sets, work capacities, recovery times, strengths, and weaknesses. The three common strengths the athletes displayed were hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. Like all trainers, doctors, or anyone else who has a profession, they seem to feel at some point that “our way is the best way” and there “ain’t no changing,” as my grandfather would say. So just like everyone else, I've developed my own methods. My training was developed from what I learned while I was an intern for a sports agent. Three years of watching, learning, and talking to these guys as well as the various NFL and college strength coaches is priceless. What I learned help me develop "Next Level Training."


Structure: My training programs use a standard block periodization approach—write it out and make changes accordingly. Remember, everyone is different.

Some of the acute variables to consider are:

  • How many days a week are they working out?
  • How many rest days do they have?
  • Are they doing a total body workout?
  • Are they working out at school?

This will help with the structure when writing the training program. Answer these questions first.

Weights: Everything I do is built around the bench, squat, and deadlift. These movements are supported and strengthened over the many auxiliary lifts that I have accumulated through my years. I always make sure to use new ones that I see. Remember, I use many styles and blend them into one functioning style with a strong influence of power lifting. My beginners, who are eighth graders or athletes who don’t have much experience lifting, begin with the basics until they move up, need heavier loads, and are ready for more difficult exercises. At that point, they will move on to the intermediate block. After completion of this phase, the athletes begin to train in what KSM SPORTS calls "Next Level Training."

Cardio: Most of the time, I don’t have the beginner athletes for cardio, so I don’t stress it much. I tend to rely on the athletes to be playing another sport outside the weight room. The Next Level athletes begin conditioning (cardio, drills) in mid-March on a basketball court. When it’s nice, we go outside. It doesn’t matter what level the athlete comes in at. Cardio is censored to basic mechanics and progresses into drills, karaoke, high knees, back pedals, and shuffles. Starting in late May or early June, we start working our way toward our goal of being able to do thirty 100-yard sprints in July. It's crazy, I know, but we've been doing this for the past five years, and my athletes stay healthy and are able to endure the violent season. During this stretch of time, we do plyometrics on Tuesdays and Thursdays and run Mondays and Fridays.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Long days—run day Long day—field or hill Rest day Long day—gassers or hill
Short days—plyometrics, agility X—Short day Rest day X—Short day
Sample workout; always do at least 20 X 100 yards 2 X 120 yards3 X 200 yards

2 X 300 yards

1 X 400 yards

3 X 120 yards

= 20 X 100 yards

Or tire flip, sled drag, truck pushCorrect running form, ankle flexion, bounding, dorsi flex walkFootball drillsRest day2 X 1 leg line jump front/back/side; 30 seconds each2 x  high knees, karaoke

Lunge walk with stretch

Football drills—drops, blocking, catching, routesGassers= football field, sideline to sideline, 18 seconds each Gassers 20 total = down and backOr tire flip, sled drag, truck push

The variety works all areas of conditioning, and all my guys are in much better shape. The most we've ever done is thirty-one 120-yard sprints. We set our goal on the toughest college conditioning program for that year, which had a minimum of thirty120-yard sprints. We usually train on a hill. If we don’t, we'll use a field. The hill is very steep and great for the athletes though. By working on the unstable ground, they have to react quickly and push the mind. The truck push and sled drag are some other big exercises. By the time conditioning comes for their teams, they're usually top in performance!



Self: The mental process is the most important part of this series. So many things go into the mental process and development of a young athlete. The first thing we work on is goals.

Types of goals

  • Weekly goals
  • Monthly goals
  • One-year plan
  • Five-year plan

Some examples are school goals, athletic goals, and life goals. We also look at how the athletes deals with sacrifice, pain, work ethic, and accountability. In action, we cover purpose. My belief is that having a sense of purpose may be the only adequate protection you have to ensure that you will rise above our circumstances. If you lack purpose, your immediate circumstances dominate your awareness and overshadow your reason for being. I ask the athletes to define their purpose. It gives clarity and gives them something to work for while trying to achieve their goals. It makes everyone around them better.

To help them define purpose, some of the questions I ask are:

  • What do you live for? What do you work for?
  • In what ways do you have the opportunity and responsibility to have a positive impact on the lives of other people? At work? At home? In the community?
  • What are the five most important things to you?
  • What person has had the greatest impact on your life? Why?
  • What do you most admire in other people? What characteristics or traits?

After answering these questions, the athlete has a better understanding and vision of what he wants. We also talk about the T.E.A.M (together everyone achieves more).

  • Always have a great attitude.
  • Always show respect toward others.
  • Always show discipline.
  • Always try to be excellent.

Most importantly, there are three types of people:

  • Those who make things happen (be this one)
  • Those who wish things would happen
  • And those who say, what happened?

In part two, I'll discuss the system of KSM SPORTS and the first stages of weights. For more information, email me at RYAN3KSM@gmail.com.