Online Strength Coach: Your Biggest Questions Answered
Online strength and conditioning coaching is growing in popularity every single year. But what does working with a strength coach involve? How can it benefit you? And how much does it tend to cost? In this short article, we're going to tackle your biggest questions so that you can make solid decisions about your own training and coaching.
What Can Online Strength & Conditioning Coaching Do For You?
Sport, especially at the semi-professional and professional level, has never been more competitive...
The mean body mass of international Rugby players has increased from 84.8kg in 1995, to 105.4kg in 2015. That's a 25% increase. (Study)
And in 100m sprinting, anything under 10s would have made you a world champion up until 1982, but today, you need a 9.8s run to even get near the podium.
Put simply, athletes are getting bigger, faster and stronger, and if you want to be competitive, you need every edge that you can get.
Online strength and conditioning coaches can help you with this by providing...
Personalised strength training programmes
Personalised cardio and conditioning programmes
Nutrition and diet advice
Recovery and fatigue tracking
In short, they help you to become a better athlete.
What is the Difference Between a Personal Trainer and a Strength Coach?
I say this as someone who came up through the ranks as a personal trainer, so I mean no disrespect, but the difference in knowledge, ability and professionalism between the average personal trainer and the average strength and conditioning coach is staggering.
PT's today can train and qualify in less than 6 weeks, whereas S&C coaches are required to sit complex professional exams, have years of experience (often via unpaid internships) and even have undergrad and masters degrees to even get a look in the door.
Why Online Strength and Conditioning?
Good strength coaches are often attached to pro teams or universities, which means that they're often fixed in a single location, and typically don't have much free time to travel.
Speaking from my own experience having worked with two universities, two talent pathways and British Weightlifting, I know that my own in-person strength coaching is essentially limited to a very small handful of athletes in the Yorkshire region. With online strength coaching, however, I can use the free time that I do have to support athletes all over the world, without having to spend hours and hours travelling all over the place. For athletes like you, this kind of set-up means that you can get the benefits of intelligent training programmes, fatigue & recovery tracking and nutrition support, even if you're based somewhere that typically wouldn't have access to those things.
What Does Working with an Online Strength Coach Look Like?
Well, I can't speak for everyone, but based on my own services, and those of the respected providers that I trust, there are typically 4 phases to the coaching process.
1) Initial Consultation with Your Coach
This is the stage where you'll talk to your strength and conditioning coach about your sport, your goals and your training history. Personally, I like to also use this as a chance to chat about logistics such as time availability, what equipment you have access to, that sort of thing.
2) Initial Assessments
Next up, your strength coach will likely set you a few tests or assessments based on your sport and your goals. These tests will serve as the benchmark to improve upon. For example, if I was coaching a judo fighter, I might test things like grip strength, leg strength and rotational core strength.
3) Execution of the Training Plan
Once the initial assessments are done your strength coach will draw you up an individualised strength training programme, and, if relevant, a cardio/conditioning programme. It should be structured in a way the maximises results, whilst minimising interference with your primary sport.
4) Review and Adaptions
Once you've run your programme for a given amount of time, you'll go through a review with your strength coach to see what worked and how you felt everything went. Personally, I like to use a combination of smaller weekly reviews to adjust sets, reps, intensities based on athlete feedback, and then have a longer review at the end of each 4-week training block to make larger adjustments.
How Much Does a Strength Coach Cost?
It's going to vary a bit depending on the coach, but it's reasonable to expect to pay anything from £125-250 ($175-350) per month for online strength coaching.
At the end of the day, you're paying for the focused time and attention of someone with years of experience, professional qualifications and more than likely some kind of BSc or MSc in the topic.
With that said, if your budget can't stretch to that, some strength coaches do offer lower-priced 'hybrid' type services, that offer a sort of compromise between price and service delivery. For example, I personally offer a custom programme + monthly check-in option, you get less of my attention on a week to week basis, but the time that saves me comes off the cost of the coaching.
There's also the option of goal and sport-specific strength and conditioning programmes, where you get an 8-12 week training programme on its own, without interaction with a coach. Obviously, it won't be personalised, but it'll be an intelligent, targeted approach to training for your sport, which is still a million times better than following some random programme you found on muscle and fitness, bodybuilding or stack.com.
Are Online Coaches Worth It?
"I've always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come."
Look, as a strength and conditioning coach who offers online coaching himself, I clearly think that coaches are worth every single penny. If you're seriously pursuing national or international success in a sport, you're talking about a once in a lifetime opportunity, and that generally means giving it everything you've got.
And if strength and conditioning coaching is what makes the difference and scores you a professional contract in a sport like football, basketball, cricket, motorsports, baseball or American football, you're talking about yearly sports salaries ranging from 6 to 7 figures.
Even as a recreational athlete who plays for fun, the performance improvements and injury prevention strategies you'll learn are incredibly valuable reasons to hire an online strength and conditioning coach.
How to Find The Best Online Strength Coaching
I tend to advise people to look for 4 things when finding a strength and conditioning coach... 1) Qualifications
2) Experience delivering results for athletes
3) Experience training themselves
4) Good rapport and personality match
If you can get all 4, you're onto a real winner.
Alright, that's enough reading for today, time for action...
1) Put together a shortlist of coaches, and reach out to your favourite.
2) If you want strength & conditioning advice, workouts and programmes, feel free to join my mailing list.
3) And if you're looking for 1:1 strength and conditioning coaching to improve your sports performance, you can find more information about my services here.
'Til Next Time
Alex Parry, MSc, BA
Alex's experience includes 7+ years within strength & conditioning, including supporting 2 major universities, 2 national talent pathways and a selection of international level athletes.
He is also a tutor and educator for British Weightlifting