When most high school strength & conditioning coaches start out in the field, their goal is to establish a sound program within their school and one where all teams are involved. When starting from scratch or starting a new program, most begin with a few sports and then build from there as the program grows. The hard thing to manage as your program builds, is the number of athletes and teams that want to use the weight room. Everyone has a limited amount of space and equipment to work with, and you can only handle a certain number of athletes at once. The larger your strength and conditioning program becomes, the more important it is to create a weight room schedule that allows for efficiency of workouts, as well as for a flow of athletes and teams through your weight room.
In Farmington, Minnesota, I am working with 18 different boys and girls sports, and with multiple levels for most of those, ranging from varsity teams down to 9th-grade teams. With that many groups who want to use the weight room, along with our off-season athletes, creating a strict schedule for teams’ lifting workouts is a must for me.
Weight Room Organization
The layout of equipment in our room is also maximized to handle a large group of athletes, while at the same time allowing for efficiency in getting workouts completed. Every workout, for both in-season teams as well as off-season athletes, always start with what I call our “Big 3”. These are a lower body/squat movement in our black squat racks, a total body lift (Olympic lift/variation or deadlift) on our platforms, and then an upper body lift at our orange multi-rack stations. We always start with those three stations and rotate between all three. With nine of each station, I can have 54 athletes working with partners, or 81 athletes working in groups of three, all training together at the same time.
Then, with a large group of athletes or multiple teams in the weight room at once, we will go for a certain length of time at each station. Everyone stays at that station until the time is up, and then everyone rotates at the same time. This way, when we switch, everyone has a spot to go to and there is no waiting for someone else to finish or not having equipment available. If we go with 9 minutes per station, we can get through our Big 3 lifts in a half hour.
With our in-season workouts, we will usually do only the Big 3 lifts. Off-season workouts will move to auxiliary lifts after that to finish in about an hour. This brings me back to how I schedule our in-season teams. I have a half-hour time slot available for up to 2 teams (or 3 if they are smaller) right after school so they can lift before practice. I try to get our off-season athletes in for an hour right after that. If possible, rather than having the off-season athletes just waiting around to start, we will do their speed & agility training right after school while in-season teams are lifting.
When off-season athletes are finished lifting, I then have one or two more half-hour slots open for more in-season teams, depending on the day, so those teams lift after practice. Below is a sample week from this spring and what our schedule looks like:
At the beginning of each season, I try to coordinate the weight room schedule with each of the sport coaches and build a master plan for the whole season. I try to get teams in at least two times per week, but can sometimes get more depending on the week and competition schedule. It can be a little tricky at times but for the most part, it works out. Teams know their scheduled lifting times, but also know that every day is planned out and they can’t just show up without notice and expect to use the room. This has helped me tremendously as a coach because it allows me to properly program our in-season workouts. It’s also great for our athletes to have a regular and consistent lifting schedule. It’s a win-win for everyone: teams, coaches, and myself. Every strength coach has their own situation and will need to create their own plan, but for maximizing everyone’s time, I highly recommend developing a structured schedule.
Scott Meier is currently in his 19 year at Farmington High School (MN) where he is the Strength & Conditioning Coach. He is also a Physical Education Teacher at FHS and teaches Sports Conditioning, Weight Training, and 9th grade Fitness For Life classes. He coached Farmington’s competitive weightlifting for 9 years, and in that time, the Tigers earned four state team titles, over 40 individual state champions, and multiple state record holders. Prior to that he was the head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Lakeville (MN) High School and worked as a personal trainer for 6 years. Scott is featured in the award-winning documentary “My Run” which tells the story of his 56-year-old client who ran 75 marathons in 75 days. He continues to compete in track & field at the masters level where he is a nationally ranked sprinter and holds several state age-group records. Scott is the current Minnesota state director of the National High School Strength Coaches Association.