HMMR Podcast Episode 243: Learning to program (with Michael Conroy)

Develop competent, confident, and effective coaches, and then competent, confident, and effective athletes will follow. As a director of coaching education at USA Weightlifting, Michael Conroy’s mandate didn’t just need to teach coaches about technique, he needed them to learn how to program creatively. On this week’s episode he walks us through the scaffolding of programming and the key elements all good programs in any sport should contain.

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Notes and quotes

Michael Conroy was the Director of Coaching Education at USA Weightlifting from 2012 through 2018 and currently supervises USAW’s Community Developmental Training Site in Idaho. He has also served as a coach in various capacities for 40 years, both at the local club and national team level.

  • 0:00 – Introduction.
  • 2:45 – The goals of programming and qualities of programming: “We want to improve performance. To improve performance you have to increase work capacity. To increase work capacity, you have to refine technique. When you do that you also get the benefit of reduced injuries.”
  • 6:00 – The qualities of a good training program: “Every training program should have the following qualities: (1) easy to understand and monitor, (2) cyclical in nature, (3) built in checks for progress, (4) allow for creativity of coach and feedback from athlete, (5) inclusion of remedial movements for error correction.” “We’re not coming down from the mountain top with the commandments of how to train. We’re coming down with the scaffolding so that everyone can apply it to their unique situation.”
  • 8:00 – Built in checkpoints, maxing out, and using singles in training.
  • 17:00 – Training technique: “80% of the time you train at 80%. What that really means is that there is enough resistance on the bar that the athlete has to pay attention, but it is light enough the coach can make suggestions. The athlete can train while they are learning.”
  • 22:00 – Technical variations from the top down. “You can’t finish correctly if you start incorrectly.”
  • 27:00 – Technical progressions in throwing and lifting.
  • 30:15 – Ciarelli and using negative reps.
  • 35:30 – Learning from other sports.
  • 41:00 – Sequencing and the importance of unloading.

To hear more on these topics, listen to the full episode above. Also be sure to subscribe to our podcast and review it on iTunes.

Further reading

  • This episode is brought to you by HMMR Plus. Become a member for full access to our videos, articles, and podcast archives.
  • On our last Episode 242, Nick explained the influence of Conroy’s programming, the basic outline, and how he has integrated it into his own planning at Notre Dame High School.
  • You can get in touch with Conroy and learn more about his facility on the Crown Performance webpage or follow them on Instagram (@crownbarbell).
  • The topic of how Olympic lifting fits into the training of non-lifters has been a topic we’ve addressed on numerous occasions on this site. In particular, check out the multi-part roundtable discussion we had with weightlifting coaches. We also covered weightlifting with Matt Foreman on Episode 82 and with Wil Fleming on  Episode 147 and Episode 236.
  • USA Weightlifting CEO Phil Andrews was also a guest on GAINcast 162.