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Get your athletes to "eat their vegetables"

Excerpt from Get Your Athletes to "Eat their Vegetables". Originally posted on,, and

Don’t expect your athletes to “eat their vegetables” all the time if you don’t offer them “dessert” once in a while.

I relate a lot of what I think coaching should be to examples of good parenting. Parents are basically performance life-coaches. Some of us can remember how our mothers had to mix our veggies with mac ‘n cheese or promise us something sweet after dinner if we obeyed. Well, I hope yours did. The same rules can be applied to weight room. Mixing a little of what our athletes like with a little of what we know is beneficial will keep them healthy and more importantly, motivated.
In some cases, you may not need to change your design, but instead alter the way you explain the program to your athletes. If you work with athletes who aren’t aspiring exercise science professionals, you already know that many of them don’t care about the “ilities” and “icities”. We can’t talk to most of our athletes like we talk to other coaches; instead we should be creative enough to adapt our coaching style.
Coaching female athletes presents many opportunities for coaching-creativity. If your females want a tighter stomach and backside, explaining to them the symbiosis between the glutes and lower abdominals in regards to pelvic control will do little to convince them that your program is better than any from a magazine. A well designed program should develop the abs and glutes anyways, so don’t be afraid to tell them a little of what they want to hear. Remember to explain your program to them in respect to their interests. Find out what your athletes’ personal goals are and see if there are ways you can “sell” the program that you’ve already written. Athletes will look forward to a program if they feel they’ve had some input into designing it (even if you didn’t change a thing). Incorporating our athletes’ point of view is the best way to appropriately mend the separation between coach and athlete.
In other scenarios, you may need to find ways to incorporate exercises that originally didn’t fit your plan. Olympic lifts, squats and pull-ups can be ego-shattering for inexperienced (or lazy) lifters, so including exercises and drills that they look forward to may make them receptive to more technical lifts. You should NOT raise a white flag and ditch your core lifts. Compromise. If you’re like me and still can’t stomach the idea of sending your athletes aimlessly towards the dumbbells and EZ-curl bars at the end of a workout, here are a few ways to mask some “nutrition” with their “dessert”.

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