Microsoft Excel: built for all, perfect for none. Excel has been the go to spreadsheet tool for accountants and financiers since it was first released back in the mid-1980s. Originally developed to help with number crunching and complex math formulas, a couple smart strength coaches figured out they could also use it to plan workouts fairly easily.
Excel has survived this long as the “go to” planning tool for strength coaches for one reason: it’s the way it's always been done.
Part-Time Excel Ninjas
Much like how a young person becomes the sum of who they spend their time with, when an intern is engrossed in a learning experience they tend to pick up the same workflows of their leader.
And by default, most strength coaches use Excel templates.
For the workout planning activities of a strength coach, Excel is a “good-enough” type of tool; it’s simple to use, it gets the job done, and it’s absolutely free.
Thus, the intern learns how to become a part-time excel ninja as part of his internship, and the cycle continues ad nauseum not because it’s the best way to get the job done, but because it’s the way it has always been done.
But here-in lies the rub: at no point in the history of the world has anyone made a serious impact by doing things the way they’ve always been done. Eventually an idea big enough comes around and demolishes the long-standing sacred cows of an industry.
We’re at that point in the strength and conditioning industry.
If you’re still using Excel templates as your default planning AND delivery tool, this article is for you.
It's possible that you’re missing out on some huge areas of leverage in your program, and it’s my objective today to share five legitimate reasons why you should consider breaking up with Excel and begin using strength and conditioning software.
1. Improve athlete engagement by providing a platform for millennial athletes
We think it’s a big miss for you to hand them a printed workout card instead of meeting them where they’re at: in a hyper-connected, digital world. So, here are a couple questions for you to consider:
- Instead of sending them home with a printed workout sheet in the summer, why not take ownership of that training block and connect in a more meaningful way with a digital platform?
- Instead of manually updating workout cards each week, why not use a set of tools that automates those repetitive tasks?
- Instead of wrangling kids each day to fill out their sheets, why not improve your workflow and reclaim that mental energy?
- Instead of banking on making an impact in one hour a day with your athletes, why not connect with them digitally during the other 23 hours of the day?
- Instead of setting performance goals and forgetting in a few weeks time, why not use software that stores all of that information for you?
2. Reclaim lost time by improving productivity, optimizing workflows, and automating repetitive tasks
The most important choice we have is where we invest our time.
Joel Smith wrote a great article a couple weeks back on coaching routines and systems that you can build into your life to become more productive, manage your time more effectively, and ultimately become a happier person.
If you find yourself pushed up against the end of the day having not achieved what you set out to achieve both personally and professionally, it’s time for some reflection on what’s breaking down and how you can fix it.
Strength and conditioning software can help you eliminate some repetitive tasks and add hours back your week: updating workout cards, delivering workouts, updating maxes, tracking progress, writing new programs, and making minor adjustments over time can all be automated with software.
One customer told me that he used to spend about 4 hours every Friday afternoon and another 4 hours every Sunday night updating workout cards and prepping his workouts for the week. After he made the switch to TrainHeroic, he now spends 1 hour each week updating workouts.
That’s an 87% improvement in efficiency. If there was a way to improve your team’s average back squat by 87%, you would jump all over it, no questions asked.
Imagine what you could do with seven more hours in your hectic schedule! That’s nearly a full work day reclaimed by leveraging software, eliminating time-wasting workflows, and doubling down on better processes.
3. Go digital to save printing cost and reclaim your mental sanity
Let’s run some basic math here about how switching to strength and conditioning software will actually pay for itself with big time cost savings for the athletic department.
- Average cost per page: $0.12
- Number of athletes: 100
- Workout cards printed each week: 100
- Total cards printed each year: 5,200
- Total annual printing cost: $624
Along with the cost savings comes the mental sanity of not having to track your kids down to turn in their workout sheets. And like this classy Mastercard ad, reclaiming your mental sanity is priceless.
The cost savings are one thing. The time savings are another.
Have you ever printed an entire weeks worth of workouts only to find out that you made a couple major typos? I’m guessing that since you’re a strength coach, you’ve got a type-A personality and wouldn’t allow something like that to reach your athletes. So you reprint all of the cards.
And then each week, you manually update your spreadsheets, and print off the following week's workouts.
Did you know that you can whittle this process down to about 1 hour each week by using strength and conditioning software?
4. Optimize the process of delivering workouts and capturing training data
Allow me to take a stab at your current workout delivery and tracking process. Each week (or month) you update your athlete’s numbers, change the name at the top of the sheet, print out a new set of workout cards, and hand them out to your team.
At the end of the workout, they turn the cards back in. You store them in a folder until the next workout. The training cycle ends, you update numbers, and the process repeats itself again and again.
That’s all assuming you’ve got your process dialed. And because you’re a strength coach, you’re always looking for a more effective way of doing things.
Here’s how strength and conditioning software will help you improve your workout delivery and tracking:
- Create a database of exercises, workouts, and programs, or use our library of 2,500+ movements
- Organize your athletes into a team (ex: Football, Soccer, or 1st Period Weights).
- Add one of your training programs to that team’s calendar
- Your athletes receive their training via an iPad app in the weight room or on their mobile phone, complete with videos and points of performance for each movement
- Your athletes log their numbers as they go; these numbers are automatically tracked in their training log and maxes are up to date when you need to write a new program
- Take attendance on the fly and analyze the workout with a training summary view
- Follow up with any kids that need a kick in the pants, or spotlight any top performers
- Print out team performance profiles (once per quarter, or when it makes sense in your program) and share ‘em with your athletes so they can visualize their progress and fall in love with the process
Simple as that. No printing hundreds of workout sheets. No scribbling the workout on multiple whiteboards. And most importantly, no manually inputting your athletes training data. These labor intensive workflows are now a thing of the past.
Taking it a step further, you are able to gain valuable insights into your athletes training analytics using strength and conditioning software. TrainHeroic has a unique feature set called Team Performance Profiles which allow you to analyze your team’s performance and know exactly where to focus your coaching efforts through beautifully designed printable reports.
5. Communicate attendance and progress in the weight room to sport and position coaches
There’s an old adage that “80% of success is just showing up.” That is to say that there’s no replacement for just showing up and doing the work.
And at the high school and collegiate level, character and commitment are everything. I’ve learned that the strength coach is more than just a strength coach; he teaches lessons about discipline, commitment, and character that shape young athletes for decades to come.
A big part of that is being able to turn over your team to the sport coach and tell him without a shadow of a doubt what kids he can rely on because their character is rock solid, and what kids are going to let them down.
Using strength and conditioning software to track attendance is simple: set the standard that you’ll be tracking attendance through workout logging rates in the app. If the logging rate falls below a certain percentage, there will be some form of punishment. And if the logging rate stays high for a certain period, they’ll be a reward.
When executed properly, you’ll see attendance and engagement skyrocket.
Once per week, sit down at your desktop and run an attendance and engagement report. Deliver this report to the sport coach and let them know what’s going on in your weightroom.
They’ll love you for it.
No matter your budget, current resources, or willingness to try new technology, I would suggest that you give strength and conditioning software a shot. You can try TrainHeroic for free for 14-days. In order to get the most out of your trial, I would suggest the following:
- Sign up for your account when you’re not distracted by the one-hundred things you have to accomplish.
- Budget some time to speak with our team to learn how to best utilize our platform for your unique situation in order to get the highest ROI on your time; let them know you came from this article and we’ll give you your first month free.
- Lock down a small group (3-5) of highly engaged athletes to be your test group; they’ll be honored with the responsibility, and the other kids will be jealous of their peers opportunity to help.
- Build two weeks of programming with our exercise database, send it to your test group, and seek feedback along the way.
- Execute it, improve it, and evolve it to meet your unique situation.
TrainHeroic empowers coaches and their athletes in the weight room. It’s a tool and resource that saves you time and, as a result, increases your impact on athletes. We would welcome the opportunity to learn about your needs and see if we might help you "win in the gym."