Navigating the Workout Card

I was up the other night thinking about a better way to introduce and explain our Excel based workout card within the limitations of this blog format.  Typically, the first day we introduce the workout card to our student-athletes (or coaches) we use a projector with a laptop.  The session involves walking through both visually and verbally how to read and manage their personalized workout card.  I have found that trying to explain the card via this blog, by just typing out an explanation can get pretty wordy, and the diagrams, just being pieces of the entire card, are not as clear as what I would like.

To solve this problem, I figured out how to make a screen recording, with audio (I will have a post about this later – it is a pretty slick trick, especially when making recordings of your Hudl telestrated video) showing the various parts of the workout card.  This will be the first of three video tutorials supplementing my previous posts regarding the workout card.

  • Navigating the Workout Card
  • Managing the 4 Day a Week Workout Card
  • Managing the 3 Day a Week Workout Card

Below is the first of these video tutorials, Navigating the Workout Card

Here are my previous posts regarding our Excel based workout program and the workout card

I hope this helps explaining the various parts of the workout card.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, just leave a comment or shoot me an email.  I will reply!

Jeff Floyd –

How Do You “Skin the Cat” ?

  • “There is more than one way to skin a cat”
  • “There are only so many hours in a day”

Those two concepts are often diametrically opposed when coaching, and in particular when implementing a strength and conditioning program.

powers“There is more than one way to skin a cat” – or get a good workout! There are literally thousands of workout programs out there, and information about them all easily accessed.  Free weights, machine weights, dumbbell, kettlebell,  crossfit, sets, reps, cycles, plyometric,  Insanity, dynamic, Olympic, Core, P90X, this list of options go on and on.   And they are all good, all have benefits, you can get good results from them all.   If you had an endless amount of time (or at least 6-8 hours!) to teach and workout during the day, you could really explore and utilize many of these concepts and equipment.


“There are only so many hours in a day”.  At least with my athletes that is the case.  The are all in school, many are 2 or 3 sport athletes, some have jobs, they have hobbies,  they are in AP classes, they have to study, they have to sleep, they are involved in clubs and other school activities, they attend church and are involved in our community, and they have their families and social life.

So with those two opposing concepts, the trick becomes deciding what type of program to implement.   Here are the reasons we have implemented this training program (A Weekly (not weakly!) Workout Program) at our school.

  • I believe in it – our athletes believe in it
  • Lineage – The roots of this program, sets, reps, percentages, can be traced back to the work Hall of Fame Strength Coach Boyd Epley has pioneered
  • Individualized – Every athletes workout card is tailored to and based on their strength level
  • Efficient – Using the Workout Card (The Workout Card – Motivation and Efficiency) the athlete does not have to constantly consult a percentage chart.  The amount that they should lift is already calculated and printed on the card for every set/ rep.  They can finish the entire Core Lift part of the workout in 45-60 minutes.
  • Whole Body Workout – Most of the major muscle groups are worked daily
  • Combination of Power (Bench, Squat) and Explosive (Clean, Push) Lifts
  • All sports benefit from the workout.  It is not strictly a “football workout”. (In The Spotlight – Roy Bay)
  • Both Men and Women athletes benefit from the workout. (Training Women Athletes)
  • Flexible – 3 or 4 day a week lifting program (Problem Solving)
  • Flexible Cycles – Each card has a 3 x 8, and 5 x 5, and a 3 x 3 cycle printed on it. (Sets, Reps, and Cycles)
  • Flexible  By changing the supplemental lifts (Supplemental Lifts) you can keep the workout fresh, and tailor it to specific sport or athletes needs.
  • Motivation – Athletes see clearly from the workout card (The Workout Card – Motivation and Efficiency) where they started, and what their current results are.  Each day they enter the weight room with a goal of “breaking” (Breaking, it’s a good thing) on one of their Core lifts.
  • Easy for a Coach (me) to manage – We have over 300 athletes come through the weight room a day.  As coaches, there are only so many hours in the day for us as well.

All of our situations are different.  What works for me, may not work for you.  But it is important to know WHY you are doing what your are doing regarding your strength and conditioning program.  Doing something just because the University of Alabama does it is not reason enough.

Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you… Don’t Believe It!

Thanks for your questions and comments!

Jeff Floyd –

Don’t Take the “Light” Day Lightly

hartI have written quite a bit so far about the “Heavy” day in our weekly workout (A Weekly (not weakly) Workout Program!) and the concept of breaking (Breaking – It’s a Good Thing) on your heavy day lift.  Probably equally important, though, is our philosophy and how we approach our “Light” day lift.

A quick review/ reminder of what a week’s workout looks like in our program.  We have 4 Core lifts, Bench, Squat, Push Press, and Hang Clean.  We lift four times a week, each day doing one lift at a Heavy intensity, one lift at a Medium intensity, one lift at a Light intensity, and omitting one lift each day.  The way we have our week structured is this:

  • Monday – Heavy Bench – Medium Squat – Light Push (no Clean)
  • Tuesday – Heavy Squat – Medium Push – Light Clean (no Bench)
  • Wednesday – Heavy Push – Medium Clean – Light Bench (no Squat)
  • Thursday – OFF
  • Friday – Heavy Clean – Medium Bench – Light Squat (no Push)

The challenge with many of our athletes, because of their competitive nature, is making sure that they stick to the set/ rep percentages that are on their card for their Light day.  The percentages on the Light day start at 60% (of their 1RM) on the first set, and increase to only 80% on their last set.  Inevitably they will try to do more, or come to me and say “Coach, I know I can do more than what my card is saying for my light day!”.  They will be tempted to add weight and do more.  And they are right, they could do more weight than is on their card, but that is not what we want on the Light day.

We try to educate our athletes to the importance of sticking to the workout and the philosophy behind having a Light day.  The way the program is set up, the lift intensities cycle between Heavy – Off – Light – Medium.  After a Heavy day, we take day off from that lift to give that muscle group time to recover.  When the lift comes back into the rotation, it is only at a Light intensity.

The Light day is a great day to really concentrate on form and technique.  If they are having any technique issues on any of the lifts, their light day is the day to work on those problems.  It may be going through the full range of motion (past parallel) on squat, working on their “dip” when they Push Press, really working a controlled descent on their Bench Press, or improving the “Drop/Catch” phase of their Hang Clean.

If we are going to change things up (as was discussed in a previous post Throwing a Changeup”), the Light day is typically the day we will do it.  Here are some examples of what we might sub in place of a Light day lift:

  • Light Squat – substitute front Squats.
  • Light Hang Clean – substitute Power Clean from the floor.
  • Light Push Press – substitute Hang Snatch.
  • Light Bench Press – substitute Incline Bench.

Staying with the percentages on the workout card, and using the Light day to recover and work form and technique is an important concept in our strength and conditioning program.

Any questions?  Just comment or email… I always respond!

Jeff Floyd –

The Breaking Slope

sample weekly workout

sample weekly workout

A quick refresher on how we have our student-athletes manage their workout cards, especially in regards to monitoring and increasing the workout load.  Whenever an athlete completes their heavy day lift they “break”.  Recall that in our weekly workout, each day we do one of our four “core lifts” heavy intensity, one medium, one light, and omit one lift.  “Breaking” means they are stronger than the estimated 1 rep max that is on their card.  They know they need to mark their card and I in turn change (increase) their workout load for that lift.  This is all detailed in a previous post, Breaking, it’s a Good Thing.

When a student-athlete firsts begins a workout regimen, these breaks come pretty consistently, often weekly for each of their four core lifts.  This is because they are learning and mastering the technique for the various lifts, which along with normal strength gains lends itself to these frequent breaks.

At some point in their training, these breaks typically slow down.  When this happens, especially with our more competitive athletes, frustration sometimes sets it.  At this time, and periodically during their training cycles I will explain to them that this is a normal part of their training, and does not mean they aren’t  working hard, making progress, or getting stronger.  I use this example:

I ask the class,  “If an athlete were to break, lets say on the bench press, every week for a year, how much would his bench press increase?”  The answer of course is ridiculous – Their bench would increase 520 pounds! (52 weeks in a year x 10 pounds for each break)  I explain, and they realize, that this type of increase, this type of breaking slope, is not sustainable.  For experienced athletes, when they reach a good strength level, and have developed good technique, it may take 2, 3 or 4 weeks to break.

The question then becomes “how do you know if you are making progress?”  The students need to focus and keep track of what they are doing on their last set of their heavy day lift.  The week after they break and their max (and workout) increases, they may only get 1 rep on their final set before failing.  The next week maybe 2 or 3, then possibly the next week they will get all 5 reps (or 8 or 3 depending on the cycle) on their last set and break.  By keeping track each week of how many reps they are getting before failure on their last set of their heavy day workout they can keep track of their progress, even if they are not breaking.

When the higher level athletes see that even breaking just once a month on a lift, they will be increasing their max 120 pounds over the course of a year, their frustration level goes down and they are more easily motivated.

Tomorrow we will break down the fourth and final Core Lift – The Hang Clean.

Any Questions?  Just comment or email!

Jeff Floyd –

Throwing a “Changeup”

clean to squatEvery couple of weeks we take a training day and change things up a bit, departing from our normal strength and conditioning routine or cycle.  Our normal program, as I have mentioned and shared in a previous post, has four core lifts, Bench, Squat, Hang Clean and Push Press.  We lift four days a week, completing three of the lifts every day (at varying intensities) while omitting one.

We throw these  “changeups” at our athletes for several reasons.  Often we just want to add some variety or “test” them in some capacity to see how they handle it.  We also add some of these lifts to focus on, or improve on, a segment of a core lift.  Some “changeups” that we have done, or are getting ready to do:

  1. Hang Clean to Front Squat on our “Heavy” Squat day (Tuesday) using our normal Tuesday (“Light”) Clean weights (percentages). On these days we eliminate our “Heavy” Squat since we are getting a Squat workout in addition to our Clean Workout.  We actually had our athletes complete this workout last Tuesday and you can see a brief video of this by clicking on this link: Hang Clean to Front Squat. or clicking on the above picture.
  2. Front Squat instead of back Squat on our “Heavy” Squat day (Tuesday) using our “Light” (Friday) weights (percentages).  This helps our athletes work on proper depth (since they are not concerned about breaking on their “Heavy” day) and also helps them keep their shoulders back in correct Squat position.
  3. Power Clean (from the floor) instead of Hang Clean. We do this on “Heavy” Clean day (Friday) using our “Light” (Tuesday) weights (percentages).  We have found that this helps stress using the legs (instead of back) and correct form when we transition back to Hang Clean.
  4. Hang Snatch instead of Clean on our “Light” Clean day (Tuesday).  This Olympic lift is a great change up using light weights initially.
  5. Inclined Bench instead of regular (flat) Bench on our “Heavy” Bench day (Monday) using our “Light” (Wednesday) Bench weights (percentages).  This gives us a way to implement one of our key supplemental lifts into our core lift rotation.

On these days when we are substituting in a lift, replacing what is normally a “Heavy” day lift, our athletes will not “Break” (see this post regarding breaking) by increasing their one rep maxes.  This takes some pressure off of them, allowing them to completely focus on the technique of the lift we are throwing at them.

These “changeups” have been a good way for us to keep our workout fresh and allow our athletes to gain experience (and strength) with different lifts.

Tomorrow another recruiting post, discussing the first of the “Purple Cow” qualities that will help make You a remarkable, recruitable student-athlete!

Any questions, just comment or email… I WILL answer!

Jeff Floyd –

Power Quotient and Pound for Pound

sampleIt is a new semester at our school, which means some new students in strength and conditioning class.  All together I have nearly 230 students spread across 2 sections of Advanced Strength Training and Conditioning for Athletes, 2 sections of Advanced  Strength Training and Conditioning , and 2 sections of Beginning Strength Training and Conditioning.  Everyone in all the advanced classes has had the class at least one time.  Many in the beginning class have had the class as well, but because of schedule conflicts, were not able to get into an advanced class.  We use the workout card and template that I have shared, with every student that comes though this class.  The good thing is, I save the workout cards (electronic version) for everyone that has had the class before, which means this semester, out of the 230 students, I only had to introduce the program and make new cards for about 30 beginning students!

With these beginners, we have finished teaching the lifts, muscle groups, safety considerations, and spotting techniques.  We concluded testing on multi-rep maxes for each of the four core lifts.  I finished converting these multi-rep maxes to estimated 1 rep maxes using the conversion chart I shared earlier this week.  Last night I entered these individual testing results on their cards, printed the cards, and spent class today going over how to read and understand the workout cards.

In doing so, I realized, too that although I have shared how to read the different cycles on the card here in this forum, there is also a great deal more information on the card at your disposal.

nameFirst, directly under the Name is the Weight cell.  We weigh our athletes, but leave weighing and entering this in our school classes as an individual choice.  We do use this number in two other calculations on the chart, Power Q (Power Quotient) and LB/LB (Pound for Pound).

Next, under the name there are two cells for positions, Pos O (Offensive Position) and Pos D (Defensive Position).  I started using this card for our football players, and recorded the positions played in these cells.  You can change this for another sport, delete them, or just choose not to use them.  The good thing about using them, in football training, or training for another sport, is that you can create lists based on these positions.  For instance, I can run a list of the top 10 bench press (or any other lift) athletes by Position, say RB (Running Back) or OL (Offensive Line).

Another cell that we use in a similar way is the Grade (in school 9-12) cell.  Again you could change this, say for age, delete it, or just choose not to use it altogether.   By using it, you do get some additional data and lists that are good regarding motivation.

core liftsI have already discussed the cells for the estimated 1 rep max, the Start, Now, and Break columns, which are just to the right of the Name and Grade.

test resultsThe date the card is changed is automatically put in the cell beside the Date:  This is handy in checking the progress of an athlete, or trainee.  If you notice an athlete using a card that has a date from several weeks to a month on it, you know it has been that long since they have “broken” (increased their 1-rep max on a lift).

Below the date are cells to enter test results that we do, the 40 yard dash, Vert (Vertical Leap) and Pro Agile (NFL 5-10-5 yard agility drill).

There are 3 other cells that give you numbers based on calculations, using data you have entered on the sheet.  The Total cell is the total amount of the 4 core lifts added together.  It is a good way for you to see overall how an athlete (or you) are doing.  We use this in motivating our athletes.  We have “Clubs” for different total levels.  For the women athletes, the Clubs are 400 pound, 500 pound, 600 pound, and 700 pound levels.  For the men the corresponding clubs are 900 pound, 1000 pound, 1100 pound, and 1200 pound levels.  We began giving shirts to each athletes as they reached a new level, but that became a little cost prohibitive!  This semester, we are going to give each athlete a silicone bracelet, in a different color for each level.  I will post pictures of them when they arrive.

The LB/LB cell uses the Total cell amount in a calculation that divides the Total (amount they lift on the 4 core lifts) by their Weight.  This give a rough (very rough) measure of lean muscle mass.  It serves as motivation for some of the smaller athletes, that see their LB/LB rival or exceed than that of some of the larger, strong athletes in our program.

The last calculated cell in the Power Q (Power Quotient).  The Power Quotient is the square root of their Vert (vertical leap) times the square root of their Weight.  It is a rough measure of lower body explosion.  I use as an example 2 people who both can vertical jump 20 inches.  If one weighs 100 pounds, and the other weighs 200 pounds, the 200 pound athlete is generating more lower body power.

There is much good information on the card, and much of it can be changed or tailored to your uses.  If you have a question on how you might do this, just comment or send me an email.

Tomorrow I will discuss the last part of the workout card, the bottom section dealing with supplemental lifts.

Jeff Floyd –

How is this workout program different?

Over the weekend I spent some time surfing the interwebs looking at what strength and conditioning programs are out there and available for coaches, teachers, athletes, trainers, and trainees to use.   There are many great programs available, some for free and others for a fee.  And really, there are many ways to skin a cat.  If you believe in a fitness program, and are consistent, and intense when you train, you will probably see results.

I hope you take the time to download and try what I have shared via this blog, because I really do see some pretty pronounced differences.  Here is what I see as the main differences between what I am sharing, and what is already out there.

  1. I have several different workout programs available… for FREE!  A 4 day a week Mac Excel template, a 4-day a week Windows Excel template, and a 3-day a week Mac Template.  I have also shared a Word document explaining how to use these templates for your workouts, or in training others.  If you would like to see any other workouts,  just drop me a line – that is how and why I came up with the 3 day a week program.
  2. Each workout card has a 3×8 (3 set x 8 rep) cycle, a 5×5 cycle and a 3×3 cycle on it.  No need to print a different card for each workout cycle                    3x8                5x5                 3x3
  3. Most workouts available online are in the format that just says do X Lift 70% (or any other given percent) of your 1RM  (1 rep max) – X number of reps. Then it is up to you to take the time out of your workout, walk over to a percentage chart, and look up what 70% of your 1RM is… then do it again for your next set(s).  It is not a very efficient way to spend your time training!  The templates I have shared (Mac and Windows) have formulas that will calculate and print the amount of weight to lift each set based on percentages of your 1RM.  It will also automatically round the weight to the nearest 5 lbs – the smallest increment you can add to an Olympic barbell (2.5 each side).  All the user had to do is enter their 1RM in the worksheet for each of the lifts..
  4. As I have mentioned, we always test on a multi-rep max for each lift and convert it to an estimated 1RM and enter that number of the workout card.  Here is a pdf of the conversion chart we use, or there are many sites on the Internet that will convert a multi rep max to an estimated 1RM.

Thanks for reading!  Tomorrow I will share and discuss one of my favorite football specific conditioning drills!

Any questions?  Just comment or email…. I will respond.

Jeff Floyd –

Sets Reps and Cycles

When you perform an exercise you typically repeat a specific action a certain number of times or reps. Reps is short for repetitions. Repetitions (Reps) are grouped into Sets. The number of repetitions you performed before you stop is a set. Sets and repetitions are fundamental weight training concepts to know thoroughly. They are important because typically everything you do during a weight workout is organized into sets and repetitions.

I normally begin the students (athletes) that are in my program on the 3×8 (3 sets of 8 reps – total 24 reps per lift) cycle.  We really stress correct technique and form during this phase.  Actually, we stress form and technique during ALL our cycles, but you would probably hear us vocalizing and teaching technique more during this phase then any other cycles.

You can see the 3 x 8 cycle and weight amounts here on the workout card I have shared

3x8In this example of a bench press workout, the athlete would lift 125 lbs. on their first set, 155 lbs. on their second set, and 170 lbs on their third and final bench press set.  The rest time between sets would be roughly 1-2 minutes.  We have our lifters work in groups of three, with each lifter rotating through on each set.

After 6-12 weeks on the 3 x 8 cycle, we progress our athletes to a 5 x 5 (5 sets of 5 reps – total 25 reps per lift) cycle.  This is probably the most difficult and strenuous of the three cycles.

You can see the 5 x 5 cycle and weight amounts here on the workout card I have shared


In this example of a bench press workout, the athlete would lift 125 lbs. on their first set, 155 lbs. on their second set, and 170 lbs on their third, 180 lbs on their fourth, and finish with their fifth set of 190 lbs. On both the 3 x 8 workout, and 5 x 5 workout , the first set is a warm up set… only 62% of their one rep max.


As a change up, normally about 4 times a year, we will progress our more advanced lifters to a 3 x 3 cycle ( 3 sets of 3 reps – total 9 reps per lift) cycle for 2-3 weeks.

You can find the 3 x 3 cycle and weight amounts here on the workout card I have shared


In this example of a bench press workout, the athlete would lift 170 lbs. on their first set, 185 lbs. on their second set, and 195 lbs on their third and final bench press set.  You can see that in the 3 x 3 cycle, the first set is NOT a warm up set.  Because of this, we have our athletes complete a warm up set (about 50% of their 1 rep max for 6-8 reps) prior to hopping into their 3 x 3 workout.

Again, all three cycles are printed on each workout card in the Excel workbook that I have shared.  By using these cards, you do not need to print new cards for everyone when you change cycles.  You will only print new cards for your students (athletes) that “break” – increase their max … but more on that later this week!

Have fun – work hard! Any questions, ask!

Jeff Floyd –