SSP-Coach-Will-HitzelbergerBy: Will Hitzelberger

I have been involved in this field of “Fitness” for the last 15 years, and the majority of my time has been spent in college, high school, or professional weight rooms, as well as, performance centers, and other facilities geared towards a higher level of performance. Even when I travel I tend to find a weight room versus a commercial gym to workout at.

I am currently involved in a project with EXOS, working with the NFLPA to provide Performance Training, Physical Therapy, and Nutrition to former NFL players. The project takes place at the YMCA. The Y that we are working out of is absolutely incredible in all of the different services and options they provide to their members. It also seems that the group instructors and wellness coaches do an excellent job. Here are my problems:

1. I watched these two middle-aged women get their phone out to follow a workout app. I peeked over their shoulder to see the app demo. It was a lady performing a perfect squat. The two women propped the phone up, stepped back, and started to squat. It was possibly the worst squat technique I have ever seen. Feet out, heels up, on the toes, knees touching, everything.

2. This is the one that really got me. It was spring break and dad had decided to take his 13 year old son to workout. Don’t get me wrong the attempt was on-point, but the implementation was awful. Dad has his son put a mini band on and pull it above his knees. Dad really isn’t sure how to cue or much more after this, but instructs his son to walk about 5 yards. Knees are practically touching, feet turned out, back completely rounded, etc. Dad says “good job” and they repeat it a couple more times.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to take away from some quality father-son time working out, but if you reference some of our blogs on youth training, you know that you can definitely do more harm than good.

My next big issue, is the high school or college bound athlete working out at the commercial gym. Lets start with the idea of the high school aged athlete working out on their own. This kills me because I know their intentions are good, but their knowledge base just isn’t there to get real results.

Isn’t something better than nothing?

Yes and no. You can definitely look up some cool stuff online, and possible get through a couple months of workouts, not get hurt, and see some results. However, you also put yourself at high risk for doing things incorrectly, creating poor movement patterns (potentially leading to injury), overtraining, or under-training for that matter.

Here are some of the concerns with athletes working out on their own:
1. Socializing – why did you really buy a membership, and why are you there? I love what a professional training environment provides socially, but it happens before and after workouts.
2. No workout plan – do you have a periodized, strategic plan to yield a specific result at a specific time?
3. Not warming up – lighter weight on the bench press before you spend the next hour bench pressing is not a warm up. The warm up is a time to reinforce mobility and movement issues that directly align with the upcoming training session.
4. Using the wrong weight or speed – a program should include specific volume, loads, and tempo to again align with a specific period of time for a specific result.
5. Bad form
6. Too much rest or not enough – knowing your specific goals and how to scientifically reach them.
7. Copying someone else – my all time favorite.

Okay, my final piece on this. I have been writing and providing summer college strength and conditioning programs to teams for the last 10 years. I start and end my presentation each time with: If you have someone like me to train with, hand them this packet so that they understand my expectations for when you return, and let them prepare you. No packet substitutes the knowledge of a professional performance coach and environment.

I hate when rising freshmen say their college sent them a packet and they are going to do it on their own. YOU HAVE NO IDEA. You need to seek a professional to make sure you are 1. implementing the packet properly, and 2. actually preparing yourself for the hellish demands of pre-season or your fall off-season.

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