Throughout my professional career, I have had the opportunity to serve as a football strength and conditioning coach for competitive athletes of all levels. When I opened The Performance Lab in Abilene, it was my goal to continue to train athletes for every sport, every goal, and at all levels.
Everyone is working toward their next level.
From having more energy to spend active time with their families, to shedding body fat and building strength – each one is striving to become the very best versions of themselves with every session.
At The Lab, we apply the same athletic training principles and programming schedules to our large group training sessions. Though most of our “Lab Rats” aren’t prepping for the NFL combine – they are all working towards a goal that is just as important to them. Some play sports recreationally or competitively, some don’t play sports at all – but we train the groups to reach “in-season” shape in the summer months. We get them there by applying an annual training programs based on a 3-week training cycle:
Week 1: Learn It
Week 2: Know It
Week 3: Own It
By keeping the program the same for 3 weeks, our athletes are able to internalize the sequence of exercises and make individual improvements. By the time they really start to own the info, we change it up. Throughout the year, we shift the overall training focus for the group based on getting them lean and mean by summer.
Late winter, early spring workouts are centered on power development – low volume, high intensity resistance and metabolic training intervals. The resistance exercises are more traditional and produce great results when paired with HIIT cardio intervals.
In-season programs (spring, summer, early fall) mimic workouts of an athlete’s competition phase – low volume, high intensity with functional lifts and movements. Cardio intervals are a little but longer in this phase. We change the work/rest interval time from the pre-season 20-30 seconds on / 60-90 secs recovery to the in-season 30-45 secs on / 60 secs of active recovery.
The “off-season” (late fall, early winter) will focus on muscular endurance and strength training. Weight training sets will cycle on a 2-3-week interval from high volume (4-5 sets), low intensity (less weight) sets to moderate volume and intensity (2-4 sets with moderate weight) sets. Cardio and metabolic training focus will cycle on the same 2-3-week interval with aerobic training and interval training respectively.
Changing up the program focus over the year is important for both one-on-one and group training to avoid plateaus and get the best results. Applying the learn it, know it, own it training cycle consistently gets great results but also empowers the group. The coaches do all the technical programming stuff, but all the athletes know is that they have 3 weeks with each weekly workout routine to master it before they get something new. As the group gets more comfortable with the workout sets, your coaching style will shift from more technical and instructional in the beginning, to more motivational and challenging toward the end. You will also notice that by week three they start to challenge each other to push harder because they don’t have to try so hard to remember what comes next.
Treating your group training clients like athletes gives them a sense of teamwork and comradery. This creates a community of people that love working together because they either get that feeling of what it was like to be on a sports team again – or get that feeling for the very first time.