Key qualities to look for in a strength coach

Strength Coach Daniel Domaradzki

We’re all trying to work out more and get fit. But, you might be asking. Do I need a strength and conditioning coach? What are the benefits of hiring a strength coach?

Proper strength training can benefit your heart and vascular circulation. It lowers your blood pressure and boosts your bone health. It lowers your risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

More than a personal trainer, a strength coach is someone trained to elicit all the health benefits of strength training. If you’re serious about your workouts. It’s important to find the right strength coach for your needs.

If you want to compete in sports like powerlifting and become successful (especially in the IPF), you need a strength coach who can provide you with quality services and apply strength and conditioning knowledge to help you realise your goals. If you really want to find yourself standing on a platform and competing with others, you need someone who is more experienced so they can guide you and help you improve your performance faster.

Benefits Of Having A Strength Coach

Regardless of whether you are interested in building an athletic physique and large muscles or competing in a strength sport such as powerlifting, you need a mentor to lead you because sport is a competitive hobby and if you don’t work with a coach, your competitors will take advantage of that.

A strength coach can help you improve your strength and your conditioning. A good strength coach can help you ensure that your body stays strong and bullet-proof. A good strength coach can gather data and apply strength and conditioning knowledge to protect you from injuries. A good strength coach can work on your mental conditioning, movement quality, power, and muscle mass.

This list is not exhaustive. There are many other benefits of having a strength coach but before you focus on the benefits, you need to find a coach who can bring them to your life and for that, you need a good and experienced strength coach.

Here are the key qualities to look for in a strength coach.

Confidence

When looking for a strength coach, there are many qualities we should consider. But, one of the most vital is confidence.

An effective strength coach is one who is confident. You will know that a strength coach is effective when they are confident of what they are capable of. You will be able to know how much they can trust you if they are able to trust themselves.

Not to mention, a strength coach can also boost your mental health, cardiovascular health, speed, agility and physical performance regardless of your gender. It is because working with other confident people, can also improve your own confidence and this can have a positive impact on your performance.

Your coach should teach you how to be content with yourself so you can be confident about your skills!

Updated

A strength coach must be updated on the latest strength training techniques. Because if that’s the case, your strength coach will be able to use those new training techniques during your sessions.

Strength training techniques are the highlight of strength training. They need to be effective so that you can be a better athlete. If by any chance, your sport depends on strength, you can find more content on that by reading through my blog section.

A strength coach’s role is to improve your physical performance, health and simply make you better at your sport and the strength coach is to achieve that through exercise which requires ongoing research to ensure that you use the most effective methods. Only by constantly updating their knowledge and improving their training methods, coaches can make sure that your goals are achieved.

P.S. If you want more content like that, remember to sign up for my newsletter (the signup form can be found in the footer).

Can Tend To Your Specific Needs And Goals

Piotr Strzala, International Men's Physique Champion
Piotr Strzala, International Men’s Physique Champion, bench pressing 170kg

Find a coach who is able to tailor a program that fits your goals!

As an athlete, you have certain needs and goals you want to accomplish. A strength coach must be able to tend to those needs and goals, to be able to train you. Different people will need different exercises, they will use different weights and require different movement patterns to improve performance. A strength coach needs to make sure that you are being trained specifically to realise your goals. For example, if your goal is to improve your conditioning, the coach is to make sure you are performing the right conditioning training. If you want to improve your endurance, the coach is to support you with their services and apply their knowledge and methods to work on that parameter. If you ask a coach for endurance training and he is prescribing you a hypertrophy routine, then your training is not specific.

Motivating And Supportive

A strength coach needs to be strict and authoritative. But athletes can experience almost anything on their journey. Effective strength coaches should be able to strengthen your physical strength and mental health (as mentioned earlier).

Athletes need to be strong both physically and mentally so they can succeed. If one is to be strong physically, one must be content with themself. For that, a motivating and supportive strength coach is required. This is very important, especially in sports like strongman or powerlifting.

This is especially important if you are to enter competitions at national or international levels. The coach is there to protect you and provide you with the personal power that boosts your physical performance and allows you to improve various sporting skills such as speed, agility, strength, mobility etc. This can only be achieved by working not only on your body but also on your mind. A strong mindset needs to be developed in you want to achieve your goals in the desired time frame and this requires improvements in your thinking. A strength coach can help you make sure that this is realised but only if they constantly improve their training systems. This can be done via many means such as reading books or even other coaches’ web content.

Being Aware Of Mental Conditioning And Mental Health

Mental conditioning training is training focusing on developing key mental qualities such as the winner’s mindset, focus and concentration skills, the ability to process the data by your mind and use this data to react swiftly, and many more.

Mental conditioning training allows the athlete to concentrate their mind on what needs improvement and helps them achieve victory. Just as you use your coach’s services to improve your performance (whether it be powerlifting, bodybuilding, or combat sports), you also use your mind’s “services” to be able to control your body, and predict what’s going to happen with a degree of accuracy.

In order for a movement to happen, your mind needs to process the data and send it to the motor units governing specific muscle fibres. If you are suspecting something bad is about to happen, it’s your mind giving you the sign first. All the processes are controlled by your mind just like certain services manage automated tasks on your computer. Your coach needs to be aware of these processes. If their services are up to standards, they should be aware of how to apply mental conditioning to achieve optimal results in your sports.

The thoughts come before the movement patterns. The thoughts control the movement patterns. So if you are aiming to master a sports-related movement, you must master your mind first.

P.S. If you want to learn more about mental conditioning, I recommend you get my beginner mental conditioning guide.

Experienced With Athletes

Szczepan Widera, WPA World Deadlift Champion
WPA World Champion, Szczepan Widera, squatting 260kg in his home gym

You will know that a strength coach can teach you well when they have worked with athletes of all levels. They will know what to do when you encounter a lump in your journey as an athlete. Because everybody experiences a lump from time to time.

Experienced strength coaches also know how to handle your failures and achievements. As they have already met mentees like you.

Another important thing to mention is that depending on in what sports you compete (assuming you take part in competitions), there are different federations that have different sets of rules. For example, the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) doesn’t allow its athletes to bench press from the balls of their feet while other federations do. Depending on your federation, you might or might not be allowed to execute the competition exercises with a certain form and use certain techniques. Your coach needs to do their research and see what techniques are allowed in your federation. Sometimes, if you are unable to change your technique, research needs to be done if you are able to compete in the federations that do allow it.

Certified By A Reputable Physical Performance Organization

The best strength coach you can find is the one vouched by trusted sources. A reputable organization such as CIMSPA, UKSCA, or NSCA is a good indicator of their qualifications.

Although other strength coaches can also coach you. Yet, if you are looking for the best coach. It is best to find certified coaches. This is important because weight training can lead to injuries and when uncertified coaches tell you how to exercise, there is a greater risk these injuries will occur. On the other side, whilst working with a certified strength coach, you can rest assured that your health is taken care of as your coach will lead you to the victory by using strength and conditioning training principles, not training myths or unjustified (or random) performance-enhancing methods. For example, if you would like to find out what certifications I have, you can do so by clicking here.

It requires certain data for the coach to train you and help you improve performance in your sport. This data can only be analysed by strength coaches who understand conditioning training principles.

Treating Your Health As A Priority

Tomasz Zakrzewski, multiple Polish powerlifting champion
Tomasz Zakrzewski, multiple Polish Powerlifting Champion, doing DB Floor Flyes with 45kg

In sports such as powerlifting, longevity is very important. Certain abilities can only be acquired by applying movement patterns that are adjusted to the athletes. This is what professional training looks like. If the client is lacking hip mobility, squatting movement patterns have to be executed in a way that suits this particular client. Bear in mind that the squat isn’t the only exercise that requires adaptations. In fact, all the exercises do. If the coach wants to improve the performance of their client, muscles and joints must work in a way that doesn’t result in more injuries. Some strength coaches have pre-prepared health questionnaires and consent forms. Before you start working with such a coach, you need to go through the form and sign it. This is all for the good of the client.

Assuring you have the right mobility is one of the roles of a coach as they are the ones who are supposed to protect you from injuries. “Quality over quantity” is one of the powerlifting main principles. Generally, when you fall, your coach should be there to catch you. If they don’t, another competitor may be way ahead of you before you get back up.

Longevity is a very important factor in athletic development so if you want to be the best in your sport, you better pick a coach who can teach you how to focus on it.

Safety always comes first!

P.S. If you are looking for more content about health, check out this specific section of my blog.

Accessibility

Accessible coaches are the most reliable ones. When looking for a strength coach, you must consider their accessibility.

You are more likely to fail if your strength coach is not that accessible. Because improvement will be hard to obtain. Training is more like walking than sprinting and for that, you need an accessible coach who can help you focus on your path. You and your coach should be partners. Think of how partners work together. They work as a team! Yes, this is what partners do. The coach should be treating you as a friend and even though they might be responsible for many more people than just yourself, they should have the time to support you.

The coaching process needs to be treated with trust and respect. It’s not just a simple transaction between a client and a company. Even though there are many coaches who resemble more of a company than the actual person, you need to make sure that you hire a coach who can be accessed when you need them. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you desperately need help and upon contacting your coach, you hear “Sorry, our company is not able to help you”. If your coach does that every time you need them, then it might be a sign that you need to find a new one.

So why is accessibility so important? Because both the client and the coach, should develop a strong bond and this can only be achieved if they remain in touch. Make sure you develop this bond together because if you are the only one caring about your success, your relationship with your coach clearly needs improvements!

Quality Over Quantity

Bazyli Kicia, a national level athlete
Bazyli Kicia, a national level athlete, performing the Plyo Pushups

What you should keep in mind in knowing how to choose a strength coach is what they can instil in you. Even if you have a lot of training coaches if they are not capable of improving you as an athlete, then what good can they be?

The quality of a coach will always be more important than their quantity. Successful athletes can vouch for that. It is always better to be able to consult a single person who possesses high-quality knowledge than dozens of people who don’t know anything.

If your sport is powerlifting, you have to remember that the most reputable organisation is the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) and athletes competing there, usually have their own professional powerlifting coaches who know what to do as they have competed dozens of times themselves. Achieving a high-ranking position in a federation such as the IPF or WPC (World Powerlifting Congress) is no easy task so if you want to be a top-notch powerlifter, if you want to be content from the coaching process, if you want to win national and international level competitions, you better hire a quality powerlifting coach who offers professional services.

Focused On Your Conditioning Training

Conditioning is very important in any sport. Strength is the mother of all sports qualities and conditioning is its husband, hence the name “Strength and Conditioning”.

Coaches offering you their services should watch your conditioning regardless of the sport you compete in. You might be a swimmer, boxer, shot-putter, or professional powerlifting competing in the IPF – it doesn’t matter. You need your conditioning to be taken care of to ensure you can recover completely before the sporting events, you need your conditioning to make sure you possess enough work capacity to complete your training, and you need your conditioning to achieve your full genetic potential.

Depending on the nature of your sports, you will need your conditioning less or more. How can you improve it? This is simple, you do this through strength and conditioning training!

This key quality is a must if you want to take your performance to the highest level so pay attention to your conditioning otherwise, your next competition might be lost!

Aware Of What’s Going On In Other Federations: Powerlifting As An Example

There are many federations in sports. Just in powerlifting, you have federations like the IPF, WPC, WRPF, USAPL, GPC, XPC, WPA and many more. Even though the IPF is the most reputable, there are also others who include very strong lifters as their members. Members of such federations have different strengths and weaknesses and despite preparing their clients for an IPF competition, it might be worth going through the rulebook of another federation as you might encounter a page mentioning a certain technique being allowed. In this scenario, if the lifter can benefit from that, it might be worth transferring them to another federation such as WRPF or WPC. IPF is simply not the only one and if the client is to achieve a higher position somewhere else, then it is a manoeuvre to consider.

Another sign to swap a federation might be when you defeated all your competition in your federation and want to challenge yourself. Transferring to a federation that has stronger lifters might be something worth considering, especially if you aspire to be the best in the world, not just the best on the national level. After all, it is you who is supposed to be content with your sports performance and your coach is there to support you. Depending on the level you want to achieve, your coach should be able to adjust and suggest that maybe it’s the time to find a stronger federation and leave the national level to compete with the best in the world instead. A quality coach should offer also services like that, not just prescribing training routines.

Summary

A strength coach is to help you develop a strong and injury-proof body. This body can be developed through physical exercise. There are many training parameters (endurance, strength training, mobility, power, speed, etc.) and depending on your goals, different training methods have to be utilised to achieve them. It is the role of a strength coach to help you get there and for that, the coach needs specific qualities and advanced knowledge.

If you liked this content and are willing to set yourself a new milestone (such as competing in a national-level sports event), check out my beginner bench press guide and ask yourself a question “Do I need a strength coach now?” if yes, it might be worth applying to my coaching program.

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