May 8, 2019
‘Take the Best, Leave the Rest:’ Evaluating your training methods
Mike Gentry

The title of this blog represents my philosophy of evaluation of training methods. Look for the best in whatever you’re studying, what’s useful and applicable to you and your situation.

Like most coaches, I’m always interested in finding a better way to do something. A better chance to win.

Here are some questions you might ask yourself as you’re evaluating training methods.

1. Does this system make sense to me?

2. Are these training methods safe for my athlete’s ages and experience levels? Do these methods best apply to the experience level and age of my athletes?

3. Is this training method based on or related to established principles of training? e.g. progressive resistance, compensatory acceleration, velocity training, time under tension, conjugate system, etc.

4. Is this training method being used successfully by many people? Do I know any of these coaches?

5. Have these methods been studied by impartial researchers and results of the study published in a peer-reviewed journal?

6. Are there certain parts of this training method that can be successfully integrated into our current methods and make us better? If so, at what time of the training year would they be most relevant?

7. Do I have the necessary equipment and time to implement this system of training efficiently?

8. Will our athletes understand the benefits of this style of training and be motivated to do it?

Examples of methods I’ve included in our training over the years while maintaining our foundational system of undulating periodization include:

Louie Simmons’s Influence

Special Exercises – Heavy Partial Movements in Selected Multi-Joint Exercises. Example Board Bench Presses, Box Squats

Interval Bench and Squat Protocol – Example Bench Press – 7 sets of 3 reps @ 50-61% of max, vary the grip and rest 1 min. or less between set. Move the weight quickly and explosively.

Use of Bands and Chains – Attaching bands or chains to barbells to increase resistance as the leverage of an exercise improves and the weight is easier to move. Example – Bench presses, Squats, Deadlifts.

Increased Variety and Change frequency of Assistance Exercises – I constantly searched for and programmed different assistance exercises to avoid physical accommodation or mental staleness.

Influence of Velocity Based Training

Use of Tendo Units to measure prescribed bar speed.

Using the speed of the bar to determine appropriate resistance.

Bodybuilding Techniques

Time under tension – using circuits of assistance exercises where the clock determines the number of reps in the set.

Pre-exhaust exercises – Pre-fatiguing a muscle by doing a single joint, isolation exercise of a muscle before following with a multi-joint, compound exercise that uses the same muscle group.

Poliquin squats, presses, curls, etc. – This technique was made popular by a legendary trainer, Charles Poliquin. These are sets that include a partial movement ( a half concentric repetition followed by a full repetition) Ex. Leg Presses- one set – five Poliquin reps, go half way up on a rep followed by a full repletion until five partial reps and five full repetitions are completed.

Be open to new ideas and styles of training but be slow to change from systems that have a proven track record. Don’t discount what you already know to be effective. If you have a proven system, it may be wiser to tweak it rather than discarding it.

Click here to read other articles from Mike Gentry on his website.

Mike Gentry is a former Associate Athletics Director for Athletic Performance who brings his expertise, innovation and leadership to build out and grow collegiate athletic programs, and he has created a website: High School Strength. From his early days at the University of North Carolina, East Carolina University, and, then, Virginia Tech, Gentry developed the strategies and tools that helped individual athletes realize and improve upon their performance. As Director of Strength and Conditioning for Athletics then Assistant Athletics Director for Athletic Performance, he helped Virginia Tech build out their program by introducing the first Sports Psychologist and Sports Nutritionist programs. Gentry is a National Hall of Fame Inductee, Coach of the Year and Master Coach. He was inducted into the USA Strength and Conditioning Coaches Hall of Fame in 2010.

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