Stronger Athletes

Chet Fuhrman Sports Strength Training Philosophy

Sixth of August "It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance." --Thomas Sowell

This is the way of a great strength coach.

Worked for Bill Cohwer who garnered a Super Bowl win as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Furhman talks about how it's done...

It was more of a life accomplishment. The teams I coached won a high school state championship, we won championships at Penn State, and we went to the Super Bowl twice in Pittsburgh while I was there. The accomplishment for me was to help those teams win.

The most important thing about my time in Pittsburgh was our record over the 15 years that I was there. Trainers keep statistics on players that miss games due to injuries. Over those 15 years we had the least number of players miss games due to injury of any team in the NFL. That's how you judge if we were good. That's the bigger accomplishment.

How did you manage do accomplish that?

It wasn't all me. Cowher knew when to push guys and when to back off. Then there were more OTAs and many teams used all 15, but he only used 12. This was when there were no rules in training camp about two-a-days. He would never have two-a-days on back-to-back days. We didn't always go in pads. He was ahead of his time in knowing when not to push players too hard.

Trainer John Norwig is also an institution there. His staff was outstanding. They did an outstanding job healing injured players and in preventing injuries. Cowher also told players to be smart about injuries -- not to hide them. He stressed that players should get treatment. He made it a point to make sure they got treatment if they were injured.

What did you do to help keep those injury numbers down?

Cowher told me when I got there that he never wanted to hear that a player got injured in the weight room. He wasn't going to be understanding if a player got hurt doing a bench press or power clean, or on dead lifts. I told him I had the perfect program for him because I used slow and controlled lifting movements in my program. It's another way to get stronger but took the injury factor out of the weight room. [Boom! Done!. That's how you make Stronger Athletes, you train them and don't let them injure themselves in the weight room. Not rocket science, unless you buy into the Oly lifting cult]

I had only one player get hurt in the weight room, and that was because they hurt their foot when they took a 45-pound plate off the bar and a 25-pound plate dropped off and fell on his foot.

Tell me more about the program and how it prevented injuries like those you see today?

The program did not include ballistic types of movement that cause injuries. I always use the bullrope comparison -- the type of rope they use in tug-o-war that has thousands of fibers to give the rope strength.

When you power lift -- do Olympic lifting or squats -- what it does to tendons and ligaments is cut the fibers a little each workout. Over time, it leaves just enough to keep it all together until it snaps. That's the analogy I always use with heavy lifting.

I had a player who could lift 500 pounds, but his career ended when his elbow gave out, Did lifting 500 pounds really help his career? No. It ended his career. He pushed his body too hard over time.

Also, as a conditioning coach, I always felt my job was to help players over the course of their life. I want them to be able to play with their kids later in life. The game is so punishing already. Why punish your body in the weight room with heavy lifting and ballistic movement? Some guys do box jumps -- weights on them as they jump off of boxes. The stress and strain of those ballistic movements on cartilage and tendons -- it's no wonder why they have such bad injuries later in life. It accelerates their injuries. They won't have a pain-free life later on. Some of that pain they have later is due to just playing the game. But why make it even worse? I think my program helped them with that.

In the end, I know some guys are just doing what the coaches tell them to do. But I remember that the strongest kids in rookie camp rarely made the team. It all comes down to whether you can play football or not.

***No Liability is assumed for any information written on the website. No medical advice is given on exercise. This advice should be obtained from a licensed health-care practitioner. Before anyone begins any exercise program, always consult your doctor. The articles are written by coaches that are giving advice on a safe, productive, and efficient method of strength training.***

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