This article is authored by Doug Scott. Opinions expressed may not be that of SMARTER Team Training, STT sponsors or constituents. Coach Scott has been a member of the Pingry faculty since 1999 and has served as a Physical Education teacher and Strength and Conditioning coach since that time. Doug designs workouts for both male and female student athletes competing on a variety of Varsity and Junior Varsity athletic teams, including many county, state, and conference championship teams. Listen to Doug’s podcast on iTunes by clicking here.

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With the start of the new year, many of you are eager to start a weight training program. Regardless of your motives for beginning (or restarting) a strength program, there are a few guidelines to help you reach your full potential.

1. Train the whole body: you may not know this, but the human body is an interconnected web of muscles, tendons, fascia and bones that work together to allow movement. Imbalances will occur if you only strengthen certain muscles, leading to a potential injury. Regardless of your training goals, make sure exercises are selected to work the muscles of the Neck, hips, legs, chest, shoulders, upper and lower back, midsection, arms and hands.

2. Start slow and build up: many people when they start a program are so excited that they jump right in and go “hog wild” with the amount of weight used and the effort given. For best results start at a manageable level and build up weight over time. Each workout is a building block for the next one, so take it slow at first and add weight gradually.

3. Have a plan and stick to it: one workout is great but it will do little to improve your strength. The body responds best to exercise if a regular pattern is established, so choose a schedule that works for you. Strength training does not need to become your whole life, 2-­3 full body workouts a week will greatly increase your strength and endurance as long as you are consistent and don’t skip workouts.

4. Be Competitive: once you have designed your workout and go through the first few sessions of learning each exercise, it is time to compete. However, you are not competing against another person, but against yourself. Weight training is a very personal activity, more so than most realize. Every time you train you are striving for improvement and trying to beat your last performance, this requires a competitive mindset.

5. Keep it simple: getting stronger is not rocket science; everything you do should be “basic”, even if you think you are advanced stick with the basics of muscle growth, choose basic exercises and master them. There is no need to perform “never before seen” balancing exercises or “wacky core” routines, simple exercises performed with a high level of effort and focus is all anybody needs. Why basic? Because it works!

Enjoy your training!

Doug Scott believes that strength training is a “means to and end” and should be a part of every athlete’s lifestyle; and it’s the coaches job to facilitate learning and put the athlete in the best position to get the most out of themselves and ultimately succeed. Mr. Scott has also worked as a personal trainer and has written a number of fitness-related articles and chapters. Coach Scott is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and hold the title of Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. You can contact him at [email protected].