Getting Strong – Step by Step


Getting strong is relatively easy, but preparing to get strong is hard. This is not to demean or disparage anyone’s ideas, rather it is reaction to what I have seen throughout my career. It is easy to get someone on a strength training program and load them up and make very significant measurable strength gains on traditional exercises in relatively short periods of time. There is nothing wrong with traditional exercises, we need them and they have a place. What I have seen though is a lack of an investment in preparation to get strong. This previously came from traditional physical education which included a myriad of movement skills that emphasized the ability to handle body weight in many different positions and angles. To prepare to get strong demands starting with the ability to handle bodyweight exercises and building across a continuum progressing the heavy external loading appropriate for the sport or activity you are training for. It is a process, slow and methodical in most cases. With post pubertal boys who have a huge anabolic advantage the temptation is to load them quickly. Even though they respond quickly, this is a mistake. Taking a year or longer to carefully and methodically progress and learn and master correct technique will result in significantly greater strength gains in the long term. In addition it will serve to protect the athlete from injury. I like to think of it as an investment in long-term strength gain. Build structural strength, great joint integrity, and sound technique but also be sure to develop other athletic qualities in parallel to the strength development. This is not revolutionary, it is common sense give a little at the beginning and get a lot at the end.

Ultimately we have to get them strong and to do that you need external resistance. If the sport demands that you move another person or propel a heavy object then those demands are different than if you are preparing to hit a golf ball. The girls on my volleyball that have gone through the progression were all able to squat 11/2 their bodyweight. Is that necessary to be a great volleyball player, I am not sure, but one thing I do know is that their ability to handle jumping loads has increased significantly. In some cases it took three years to get to that level, in another one year. It really depends on the adaptability and trainability of the athlete. In summary to get them strong invest in the preparation necessary to get them strong.

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
RT @GreatestQuotes: Your aspirations are your possibilities. - Samuel Johnson - 4 years ago
Vern Gambetta

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