Case Study Lee Ward: How training with Consistent Variability Can Bring Huge Gains

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Lee Ward is as a redshirt sophomore starting Fullback at Stanford. As a coach he is one of the best athletes I have had a chance to work with to date. He holds the record for running backs and linebackers on the bench at the Nike All American combined in San Antonio. In addition to being a strength machine no one I have ever worked with put in more time in the gym to prepare for game day. In Lee’s four years as a high school student he may have missed only five training sessions. Ward is a very intelligent young man and it took him a while to buy into our system. However, once Lee bought in his gains were non-stop and his numbers became a thing of high school legend. As a high school student/athlete he played both ways all game long and his senior season he led an overachieving team effort into the playoffs.

All his hard work did back fire slightly. Many division one coaches thought Lee was a gym rat with modest talent and a low ceiling for improvement. Being close to Lee and creating his training day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year I knew they were wrong. Coach Harbaugh knew that they were wrong too and offered Lee the chance to live out his dream by walking on to Stanford’s team.

Lee was able to make these gains because he was never allowed to adapt to the point of diminishing returns. Every six weeks his program was changed in the weight room to work on things that he was missing or seemed to be losing from the previous weight program. The middle of the six week period was the largest loading time both in frequency and density of strength training. We would then unload the back end of the six week period to see what adaptations we had accomplished. In addition the beginning of a new phase of training the density and frequency of training would be low to allow the Lee to take time to learn the new lifts and not give him DOMS. The order of the phases went in many different directions but commonly followed in this fashion: Hypertrophy, Maximal Strength, Stability Phase, Ballistic Phase, Time the bar phase, and a General Strength phase.

Today Lee is a starter cracking heads on a regular basis along with being consistently the strongest young man on Stanford’s football team. The trip has not been easy for Lee and as expected Lee was redshirted his freshman year. His tenacity was noticed by the coaches and the first team defense got mind numbing blows from time to time courtesy of the six foot 245 lbs. Irish Hammer. His sophomore year as promised the hard work was rewarded by earning a scholarship from Stanford. Unfortunately, Lee suffered a serious injury that took him out of the Stanford line up for a month. In typical Ward fashion he rose to the occasion and worked like a mad man! Stanford has focused a lot on Lee’s mobility to keep him safe, healthy, and Lee learned in high school not to cut corners. Since Mr. Ward never cut corners when it came to preparing the body he was back quicker than most people could imagine from a knee injury. His dedication to prepare and his coaches consistently pushing him from freshman year in high school he has become body slamming starting fullback he is today.

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