Do you have a coach who supervises your training? If not, then you should get one, because research shows that athletes make significantly greater gains with a coached training program versus going it alone.
This new study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research examined 82 adolescent rugby players. Each player trained for fifteen weeks during his off-season. All players were given a clear and thorough training program. About half of the players were supervised during training. They were required to train together at specific times, under the supervision of a coach. The other players were left to complete the program on their own time without supervision. Since the players were fifteen-year-old boys, you can probably see where this is going.
At the end of the fifteen weeks everyone was tested in a variety of metrics. The supervised training group showed greater improvements in strength, vertical jump, and acceleration than the unsupervised group. Furthermore, the supervised group improved in body composition while the unsupervised group put on extra body fat. Ouch.
Overall, this study doesn’t prove anything spectacular. If you take a bunch of fifteen-year-old boys and trust them to train on their own, then they don’t improve as much as those who get their butts kicked daily by the coach in a competitive atmosphere with their peers. But like anything that falls under the umbrella of “common sense,” we don’t really know if it’s true until science proves it. So, thank you, science. We are in your debt.
For those of us who aren’t fifteen year olds, this study still speaks to me about the importance of coached training. We can delude ourselves into thinking we are significantly more disciplined than the unsupervised rugby players, but are we really? I always seem to put more weight on the bar and push just a little harder in a coached environment. A training partner can also help create a coached environment. If someone is watching you, then you will probably train harder to avoid disappointing them. If that someone is a coach, then you’ve got the best of both worlds: supervision to ensure you train hard, and a guide to make sure you train smart.
1. Daniel Smart and Nicholas Gill. Effects of an Off-Season Conditioning Program on the Physical Characteristics of Adolescent Rugby Union Players. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: March 2013. Vol 27. Issue 3. p708–717. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31825d99b0
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