I take a lot of pride in my weight room. Maintaining the equipment that we’ve purchased and keeping it organized is incredibly important to me. Here are 7 weight room organization tips that I use to keep it looking new.
1. How to Structure your Weight Room
One of my biggest thoughts on equipment is to place the largest pieces of equipment to the outside perimeters of the room. This maximizes space and allows for clean sight-lines. Supervision and coaching go hand in hand – If you can’t see the athletes you can’t coach nor supervise them. I want to maximize the space of the room and create as much space for movement as possible. Our facility has our open space down the middle, other facilities split the room into halves etc and that is fine. My personal thought is that I don’t want to have an interrupted view of any of my athletes or groups at any time.
2. Maintaining Your Weight Room Equipment is Important!
Safety first – if equipment is failing then there is a risk of injury. Also, if equipment isn’t maintained it can be costly to replace. I try to have as few machines as possible as anything with cables can break. Power Racks don’t break down, that’s why I love them. Humidity is a strength coach enemy. It creates moisture, which could make floors slippery and cause metal to rust.
- AC is great, but dehumidifiers are just as important. Even with both we have to wipe down bars to clean rust off. I don’t like to use WD40 as it is a stripper. Yes it greases the bars and allows plates to slide on and off but it only masks the issue and requires almost daily application.
- Cleaning Bars: I clean our bars with rubbing alcohol and then apply a coat of floor finish to the bars to seal the metal. This prevents rust for a longer period of time, we usually reapply 2-3 times a year.
- Wooden Platforms: When I had wooden platforms I waxed them at the same time as the bars to provide a safe platform and excellent appearance. I have known some coaches to apply a dusting of fine beach sand to the platforms while the finish was wet and then give another coat after the first dries to give the platform some grit to the surface.
I don’t have a specific maintenance schedule per se, I make it a point to examine everything on a daily routine basis. I find the majority of potential issues while working out myself. By moving around and training myself I tend to see just about everything.
3. Records Aren’t as Important as Performance
I do keep records, but probably not as diligently as I have in the past. When I first started out it was vital to my programs. Over the years I have softened on this one as many times I feel that coaches and athletes have chased numbers over performance at times.
As I have grown as a coach, I have learned that how much weight an athlete lifts isn’t as important as much as how they lift the weight. I have always been a stickler for technique, I don’t tolerate poor form for training let alone records. I have learned that for performance – it is more important how fast an athlete lifts the weight over how much.
At the end of every summer we have the Trojan Olympics and I do keep the records from that for each athlete that tests. I have found these records are more important to show the athletes how they have grown and developed vs. who is the best of the best.
4. White Boards Offer Flexibility
You can say that I have officially crossed over to the “Old School” team. I was once a young tech head and planned each program out for the entire cycle and term. I know there are software platforms that allow technology to be a huge help, but at the end of the day I keep going back to putting my workouts up on a white board.
I like the ability to be flexible and make changes on a moment’s notice. It’s amazing how quickly the room can fill up if it starts raining outside. Sometimes coaches adjust practice schedules and we have to accommodate quickly.
Another feature of this is that coaches and athletes can take pictures of the whiteboard workout whether they use it that day in the room, or if they are not going to make a workout in our facility, they can do it elsewhere.
We use a rep range method for training and I have the athletes self-select training volumes using preprinted rep charts. I place these charts on the office of the weight room outlining our entire cycle. I also place the appropriate rep charts on the racks themselves. I put them into plastic sheet protectors and then attach them to the racks with magnets. I also place the platform warm ups on the racks in the same fashion. The sheet protectors help keep the sheets from getting damage and allow us to easily change up the information for our athletes.
5. Use Colors to Organize Weight
I mentioned how we coat the bars for rust, this has been big for us. I have also used other tools to help keep the room organized and running. When I first started training in our facility it drove me nuts how the athletes wouldn’t put the bumper plates back in the proper order in the carts on the floor.
One day I had enough and went into our athletic office and found a bunch of rolls of floor tape that was used to mark the gym floor. I took the tape to the weight room and taped the matching color of the bumpers to the slots in the cart that I wanted the corresponding color bumper to be placed. It worked amazing!
I then took the tape and used it to mark the bars that were of different weight. I placed a band of tape around the bar on the outside edge of the bar just inside the stock end of the bar. I used the same color of the bar to the bumpers so that our 45 pound bumpers where the same color of the 45 pound bars. I did the same for the 35’s and 25’s. Gopher Performance sells a variety of bumper plates. Find ones that are organized by color to make it easier for your students to grab and put away.
6. The Use of Chalk in the Weight Room
I don’t have chalk bins. I teach high school, and I have a lot of kids that aren’t capable of using the chalk without screwing around. I hate the dust clouds around the room, not to mention the mess that can come with it. I keep a couple of bricks of chalk in my office and allow athletes to use it when needed in a professional manner.
7. Mess Creates Mess: Appearance is Everything
I could be described as a bit anal retentive when it comes to our room. I make sure each group that trains put everything back after a workout. I believe that mess just creates more mess. If a group walks into the room and sees a mess they are more likely to leave it a bigger mess. Coaches that think I go over the top and am too strict with this may walk into their classroom one morning to see desks all over the place and upside down. I have had to do this on one occasion and the point was driven home. When I train a group for the first time we actually go through how I want the racks and bars all aligned after the workout, we practice it. And I make the coaches oversee it.
I do not allow backpacks and other clothes etc brought into the room. The kids should use their lockers or set items up against the wall out in the hallway.
Johnson is a graduate of Normandale Community College, Augsburg College and the University of Minnesota, playing football at both NCC and Augsburg. “RJ” teaches physical education at Wayzata High School and is the Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for Wayzata Public Schools, a position he began in 2000. Wayzata Athletics have captured 52 team state titles in histenure; Johnson works directly with the three-time state champion football program as Director of Operations and Player Development. He is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist as well as a Registered Strength and Conditioning Specialist – both certifications with Distinction and is the Minnesota NSCA State Director. NSCA awards include Minnesota High School Strength and Conditioning Professional of the Year 2010; State Director of the Year 2013; Strength of America Award 2015; and 2017 National High School Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year. In 2017 he became a founding Board Member of the National High School Strength Coaches Association (NHSSCA); and serves as a Regional Director for the organization. A former volunteer firefighter, he also received an Award of Merit from the Minnesota Department of Health and Safety for participation in a lifesaving CPR/AED effort to revive a player that suffered sudden cardiac arrest while at practice. Johnson is a frequent clinician, speaker, author and his Wayzata Trojan Power program has been visited by over 50 other high school and small college programs. He also volunteered his time in the Rockford School District where he and his wife and four children reside by serving as the Rockford Area Youth Athletic Association President and Youth Football Director.