Stronger Athletes

Load Progression and Recuperation Among High School Athletes

January 8 "Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish." -John Quincy Adams


One of the most important factors in a good strength training program is progression. To make sure that every athlete progresses it will take proper communication with your athletes. It is crucial to tell athletes to notify you (the coach) if progress slows or stops. Adjustments should be made at that time on that individual's program. Every athlete responds differently to a program and you will need to fit the program to that athlete's needs. Also, each athlete's recovery time is different. Cheryl Zovich in her article "Progression" states, "Many lifters fail to progress due to the fact that they continue to use lifting techniques they’ve outgrown."

However, individualizing an entire team's workouts can be daunting. We spoke to a local high school coach about this topic and he said that it is impossible to do. He said there isn’t enough time in a day when you have to train many athletes. This means the following areas must be addressed: 1) the athletes must be on a program that is well organized 2) the proper number of athletes are using the weight room 3) how long the athletes train in appropriate, and 4) the athletes have a proper chart to track their progress.

It is important that an athlete do more weight or perform more repetitions each time they perform a particular exercise. Tim Swanger, Mike Bradley, & Steve Murray stated in their article "The Importance of Progression" "Strength training, to be productive, must be difficult and progressive. But the progression need not be difficult to understand. Each workout, on each exercise, try to increase the weight or the repetitions. This is called the double progressive method of overload and it is the most effective way to improve."

Even if the improvement is minor, it is significant. Swanger, Bradley, Murray also said "Make every inch of every repetition count. Don’t cheat yourself by using momentum for one inch. Make progression the driving force in your workouts. Try to add one rep each time you train. Or try to add a half of a rep. Or six inches. Demand improvement from yourself each time you train. Refuse to replicate previous results."

We apply these principles in an efficient manner by not regulating sets and reps but demanding the athlete simply improve either in weight or repetition each workout. For example if an athlete dead lifted 375lbs 7 times on Monday his Thursday workout should have him failing at 375lbs 8 or 9 times. When that athlete can reach failure at 10-12 reps its time to add weight.

This can be done effectively and efficiently with a simple progression chart.


Another important factor in strength training that is often ignored is recuperation. Too many coaches tell their athletes to be in the weightroom a certain amount of times no matter what. If we are concerned about the athlete's individual progress then we better pay attention to rest.

If progression slows, then the problem could mean not enough rest. It could mean that they need to perform less sets or one less exercise or an extra day off. One of the arts of strength coaching is to figure out these factors on your athletes.

Matt Brzycki in his article Recovery: A Requirement for Muscle Growth, states: "You should see a gradual improvement in the amount of weight and/or the number of repetitions that you’re able to do over the course of several weeks. If not, then you’re probably not getting enough of a recovery between workouts. Remember, if you want a muscle to get larger and stronger you must stress it, feed it and rest it!" believes that proper progression plus well monitored recuperation leads to a stronger athlete.

***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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