• Coaches Corner with Allen Hedrick
    Allen Hedrick is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Colorado State University-Pueblo. Previously, Hedrick coached at the United States Air Force Academy, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the United States Olympic Training Center, and Fresno State University. Hedrick is frequently published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal, has authored a book and chapters in three textbooks, and has spoken at numerous conferences both nationally and internationally.
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  • CoachesCornerBannerCoaches Corner | Bo Sandoval
    Allen Hedrick, MA, CSCS, RSCC, FNCA
    Allen Hedrick is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Colorado State University-Pueblo. Previously, Hedrick coached at the United States Air Force Academy (12 years) the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) (two years) the United States Olympic Training Center (three years), and Fresno State University (three years). Hedrick was named the NSCA’s Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year in 2003. Hedrick is frequently published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal, has authored a book and chapters in three textbooks, and has spoken at numerous conferences both nationally and internationally.

    1. How long have you been working in the field of strength and conditioning?
    24 years.

    2. What is your training style/methods regarding training?
    Undulating periodization, emphasizing performance of the Olympic style exercises with both barbells and dumbbells. An emphasis is placed on standing, free weight, multiple joint exercises as much as possible training the movements (not the muscles) involved in the sport.

    3. How has this training style/methods evolved over the years?
    For a long time, I followed a traditional periodization scheme. I felt like training for multiple physiological adaptations simultaneously would reduce the rate of adaptation. I then gradually realized that most sports require a range of physiological capabilities and that training for more than one physiological adaptation at a time was an acceptable approach.

    4. Who has influenced you the most throughout your career and why?
    Johnny Parker, former National Football League (NFL) strength and conditioning coach, probably had the biggest influence on me as a coach. I place a big emphasis on dumbbell training, and Coach Parker, in a round-about way, got me started in that direction. When I worked as a graduate assistant at Fresno State University, the strength coach there at the time (Roberto Parker, no relation to Johnny) mentioned to me one day that the New York Giants had trained at Fresno State prior to playing in the Super Bowl one year, and that the Giants strength coach (Johnny Parker) had his athletes performing dumbbell cleans. That got me thinking about the benefits and possible advantages of training with dumbbells. A few years later, Coach Parker read an article I published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal about the dumbbell training I was having my football athletes at the Air Force Academy perform and asked if he could come observe our athletes training because I had expanded on what he was doing. It was a humbling experience for me to get to share with him the ideas that had developed as a result of what he was doing with the New York Giants.

    5. How do you adapt your programming to fit the needs of each athlete you work with?
    I have to be honest and say this is a difficult thing to do in my current position because there are two strength coaches working with approximately 450 athletes; but I do adjust workouts based on physical limitations and physical development. For example, the one exercise I emphasize the most is the clean. I just think it is a great all-around lift for most athletes. However, there are a few athletes who simply cannot clean correctly, either as a result of a previous injury (e.g., broken wrist) or simply an inability to perform the movement correctly. For those athletes, I will adapt their training based on what they can do. With our advanced football athletes, I adjust the length of their training cycles to emphasize what will most benefit performance. Most athletes who have been in our program for a few years are big enough and strong enough to play at a high level. It makes sense to advance them through some of the preliminary cycles at a faster rate so that we can emphasize further improvements in power. My feeling is they may be strong enough, but there is no such thing as powerful as enough, I always want them to be more powerful.

    6. What do you think is the most overlooked concept in the field of strength and conditioning?
    Well this may sound funny, but it seems to me, with the emphasis on movement screening, mobility, balance, and so on that some strength coaches forget about getting their athletes stronger. You simply have to lift heavy objects, especially at a high rate of speed, to improve strength and power. I am not saying those other things are not important—because they are—but there has to be a balance within your training plan, and to me it seems that some strength coaches are missing that balance.

    7. What resources do you use the most when it comes to getting continuing education as it pertains to the field?
    NSCA conferences and journals. As a coach, you can always get better. If you feel your program is the best it can be and no further improvements are needed or warranted, to me it means that is the time to retire from the field. You can always improve the product you deliver to your athletes. The longer you are in the field, the smaller those changes year-to-year will typically be, but you can always make it better.

    8. What is your take on “specificity” of training and how (if so) do you apply it to your programming?
    To me it simply means watching the movements that make up the sport and then selecting exercises that best match those movements, designed in a program in such a way that the movements are performed while using the correct energy systems. For the most part, this means selecting standing, free weight, or multiple joint exercises.

    9. What is your favorite tool in your tool box?
    Lifting heavy things fast. Almost every exercise we perform, we will emphasize lifting explosively.

    10. What are your five favorite exercises?
    Cleans – both barbells and dumbbells
    Jerks – both barbells and dumbbells
    Snatches – both barbells and dumbbells
    Squats – both barbells and dumbbells
    Front squats – both barbells and dumbbells

    11. What advice do you have for young coaches who are beginning their careers and hoping to “follow in your footsteps?”
    Get your Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. Get as much volunteer/internship time as possible while earning your degrees. There is no substitute for practical, on-the-job experience to enhance the classroom aspect of your preparation. Read the journals, attend the conferences, talk to coaches, and never think you know it all, or know as much as you need to, because you do not.
  • Disclaimer: The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) encourages the exchange of diverse opinions. The ideas, comments, and materials presented herein do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion, or otherwise. 
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