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The Science and Art of Coaching Weightlifting

So far I have made it seem as though the intuitive and the engineering coaching styles are mutually exclusive. However, as with almost anything in life, there are no clear-cut boundaries between the two.  A coach can and should use intuition in selecting the appropriate exercises for an individual, and utilize engineering to create a meaningful progression for those exercises.

Coaching sports is about directing and regulating the activities of others in order to maximize their performance and enable them to reach their goals. Surely, one aspect of this is having an engineered plan, a step-by-step guide the athlete can follow. This is where all the variables, such as training volume, intensity, exercise selection, volume and intensity distribution, come into play. 

But training is rarely just about numbers. Certainly, if one executes the plan as written, results will come. At least, that has been my experience. Nevertheless, plans are only scripts; they provide high-level direction for training by describing the ideal way to reach a certain aim.

Yet things rarely happen in an ideal way, and a coach will have to use intuition to administer changes. For instance, if an athlete is having a bad day and the prescribed weights aren’t being reached, the coach will need to find an alternative which makes the athlete feel capable and which might even turn a bad lifting day into a good one. In other cases, certain injuries may occur which prevent the athlete from carrying out some of the planned, core exercises for a few weeks. Again, a coach will need to intuit how to change the exercise selection, as well as the volume and intensity distribution in order to keep the athlete on track. 

This is where spreadsheets can fall short of a coach's expectations. Many times I found myself carefully crafting a training program, which over the course of a few weeks turned into something totally different due to unexpected events. It was pointless, and hopeless, to edit the spreadsheets to reflect all the changes that happened in execution with the program, by all the athletes. But, without noting what had actually been done compared to what had been planned, how could I best hypothesize what would drive their progress?

The Barbell Notes Training Intelligence Solution™ was created to help keep track of these changes. Using Barbell Notes, not only can I quickly change the exercise selection if an athlete is injured, but I can also see where and how the athletes changed the prescribed weights or selected exercises. Moreover, I have an overview of what actually happened during my athletes’ training compared to what I planned. All of this leads to better programing from cycle to cycle, which leads to stronger, more confident results in the long run. Since developing Barbell Notes and using it to administer my athletes’ training, I have seen their weightlifting totals improve at the end of each training cycle.

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