If you have been on the Complete Speed Training Newsletter for a long time now, then you know that I like to interview elite coaches and pick their brain to get new techniques and find out where they stand on certain topics. I was lucky enough to have the ‘guru’ of Program Design, Alwyn Cosgrove, squeeze me in for a quick interview. Find out what the ‘2005 Fitness Entrepreneur of the Year’ had to say:
Patrick: Alwyn, you are known around the fitness industry as the person who doesn’t hold anything back and always ‘tells it like it is’. In your opinion what is the state of the strength & conditioning industry?
Alwyn: Sadly lacking Patrick. But to be fair – it’s improving. The problem is a lack of professionalism in the industry – not necessarily a lack of knowledge.
Patrick: I know you could go on forever with this one, but what are a few common myths that coaches still believe in regarding athletic training?
Alwyn: Aerobic base, weight training will make you slower and a whole
slew of biomechanics stuff related to knees in squatting.
Patrick: Do you see a common trait that today’s athletes
Alwyn: Strength is lacking across the board, but we are also seeing an interesting trend that most athletes are arriving with serious structural imbalances.
Patrick: When you meet with a new athlete, how do you normally start out and structure their training? Is there something you want the beginner athlete to be able to do or a typical progression?
Alwyn: I do a functional movement screen to see what the athlete is capable of doing, or not capable of doing. From there we usuually design a corrective exercise phase consisting primarily of bodyweight exercises.
Patrick: Conditioning for speed athletes is often a confusing topic for
many new coaches. What is your approach to improving conditioning
levels for athletes?
Alwyn: Conditioning for speed athletes is essentially speed endurance
work. So make sure you have speed built up before you build upon the
capacity to maintain that speed. Most coaches are making their
athletes slower with their conditioning programs.
So it starts with structure – it doesn’t matter how big the engine is,
if the front end is out of alignment you won’t see the benefit. So
it’s flexibility and stability in the beginning.
Then it’s strength – then it’s power – then it’s endurance work.
Patrick: In general, how many days per week should athletes train speed?
Alwyn: Twice a week for non track athletes. Four times per week for track athletes, although every workout for a track athlete is about training speed – it just doesn’t mean that they are necessarily doing direct speed training.
Patrick: There are many different opinions on weight training for speed and power athletes. Where do you stand on the topic?
Alwyn: Who is the fastest- Men or Women?
Men right? Why?
Because they are stronger. If strength wasn’t an issue
then males wouldn’t have faster times than females.
The key is to design a sports strength training program,
not a bodybuilding program to reach your goals.
Patrick: I know I get questions all the time from parents that want to start their kids on a structured program, what do you think the best age to begin formal athletic training?
Alwyn: I think kids can start with agility work and
play type activities pretty young. I wouldn’t start any real structured
training until at
least ten years old though.
Thank you Alwyn! For more information on Alwyn Cosgrove’s training theory and program design’s, you NEED to checkout: The Professional Fitness
Coach Program Design Bible
Not convinced that Alwyn is one of the top coaches in the world? Well,checkout what the Fitness Editor of Men’s Fitness had to say about Coach Cosgrove:
“Long before ever seeing him in action, I was convinced that Alwyn Cosgrove was the greatest trainer in the world. His unique theories on performance-enhancement, along with his clients’ outstanding results, confirm Alwyn’s immense talent, knowledge, originality, and passion for training. But it’s Alwyn’s keen perception-his innate ability to spot and dismantle flaws in both programs and theories, and immediately know how to repair them-that makes him a coach, and a man, who is so in demand the world over. If Alwyn can help me (a journalist with no previous background in the exercise sciences) to understand the most complex training ideas-via e-mail and his articles-imagine what he can do for you”.