When I first started developing strength and conditioning programs, I would stare at a piece of paper for hours, trying to put exercises together. I had no idea where to start. I would eventually scribble something down, erase it a few times, and then in the end, finalize something for that specific client. I kept thinking to myself, there must be a better way. If only I could systematize this process so that I could provide high quality training programs to my athletes and clients, in less time.
After talking to several strength coaches, I found out that the common secret was some form of excel template, that could be used for all types of clients. I was intrigued and thought how interesting it was, that everything could be so organized and look so good. Not to mention, it cut down the time it took to make a program, considerably.
Immediately after this realization, I began experimenting with MS Excel for all of my training programs. Not only did I enjoy making them, I received positive feedback from my clients as well. I am going to talk about some of the amazing things that Excel allows us to do as strength coaches.
MS Excel is unique in that it allows us to organize our thoughts in charts and tables for later recall. You can create tables for exercise lists, set and rep configurations, and any number of other variables that you may need to recall later on. There are many different cloud based software solutions available now but I always find myself coming back to MS Excel as my go to programming solution.
Because I have put in a lot of time building up my exercise lists, set and reps, warm up progressions, and planning structures, when I finally get down to programming I can do so quickly and effectively.
Perhaps one of the best features about using a program like MS Excel for your program design is that you can do more in less time. Once you learn how to save different elements of your program, you will not be constantly writing out your favorite warm up or progression for every client. With a simple drop down box, or copy paste, you can have that element ready to go on the next program.
Now in learning excel there is a considerable amount of back end work that must be done to set up your training systems the way that you would like, but after that you can churn out training programs faster than ever. This also helps you to ensure that all your programs follow a similar structure and consistent language throughout them.
It does not matter what type of programming system you follow. From High-Low, tier training, or bodybuilding splits, you can customize your excel spreadsheet to allow you to program quickly and effectively. If you are someone who always works in supersets than organize your sheet so that you have supersets available. Similarly, if you like to have long warm-ups then you can make that portion of your template larger.
The key here is that you can design, change, and execute the type of program you want without being confined to the types of programs the other software’s want you to create.
Finally, I often talk to my student staff about being “the guy” or “the girl” on the staff with a set of skills. You may want to be the GPS, Excel, or even force plate person on your staff. The fact is that the more skills you can develop the more employable you are. If your boss wants a testing report printed out for a new athlete and you can whip something up that day, then you are going to be more valuable to your department.
[bctt tweet=”As a coach it is important to learn as many related and useful skills as possible” username=””] One of the skills I learned out of necessity was the ability to create custom training plans, testing reports, and yearly training plans in excel. This has allowed me to share these skills with other staff members. These skills save us a great amount of time and allow us to focus on what really matters, like being available to train our athletes to the best of our abilities.