• Coaches Corner with Cal Dietz
    Cal Dietz is the Head Olympic Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Minnesota since 2000. He has developed the strength and conditioning programs for hockey, basketball, golf, swimming, track and field, and baseball.
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  • CoachesCornerBannerCoaches Corner | Cal DietzCal Dietz, MS, CSCS

    Cal Dietz has been the Head Olympic Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Minnesota since 2000. He has developed the strength and conditioning programs for hockey, basketball, golf, swimming, track and field, and baseball. During his tenure, Dietz has trained athletes who have achieved 500 All-American honors, 30 Big Ten/WCHA Championship teams, and 10 NCAA Team Champions.

    Dietz has consulted with Olympic and world champions in various sports. Also, during his time at the university, he helped found and currently chairs the Sport Biomechanics Interest Group. Dietz has given numerous lectures around the country, published several scientific articles on training, and co-authored the top selling book, Triphasic Training: A Systematic Approach to Elite Speed and Explosive Strength Performance. Dietz earned his Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from the University of Findlay in 1996 and his Master’s degree from the University of Minnesota in Kinesiology in 2000.

    1. How long have you been working in the field of strength and conditioning?
    I have been at various levels of strength coaching for the last 17 years; these levels include being a student strength coach, a graduate assistant, a volunteer strength coach, and finally a full-time coach at various college levels.

    2. What is your training style/methods regarding training?
    The highlight of my method is my own personal development, triphasic training. I have received thousands of emails from coaches expressing their appreciation for my methods as well as thanking me for this book. I feel it truly is a method because it is not a specific program, but rather a simple sequencing of particular exercises, or types of exercises, that can be placed into any program that any coach is currently using. I have had coaches from the high school to elite level thank me personally for the results they are seeing due to this training method. I have also received many emails from track and field coaches stating their gratitude for finally putting these exercises in the correct order to attain the greatest results. Many athletes in track and field have reached personal records under the triphasic training method.

    3. How has this training style/method evolved over the years?
    The evolution of my style is simply based on research and findings. I, as a coach, have looked into personal and team development. These past few years a lot of material is coming out from Special Forces training as well as team development in the military. The methods have truly evolved from science and research and its application in the future will be entirely dependent on the evolution of molecular biology and biochemistry in this field. Systemically I believe I have a firm understanding of what is going on with the majority of the methods, but down to the cellular level we will need to investigate much more deeply. These investigations will need to come from the molecular biology and biochemistry aspect of science. Unfortunately, I do not believe I am smart enough to completely understand, let alone lead any of these investigations, so I will leave that responsibility to a much brighter individual to bridge the gap between science and application. As coaches we know what works, but I am hoping someone will be able to tell coaches exactly why certain methods have always worked. It will be up to science to continually confirm the methods we have found success in.

    4. Who has influenced you the most throughout your career and why?
    The person who has influenced me the most as a coach was a track coach, Phil Lundin, who was at the University of Minnesota when I joined the staff as an eager to learn 26-year old. He was able to lead me in the right direction of learning with the purpose of true development. We were able to use various methods and attempt various training experiments. He opened up a whole new world to me and I would be foolish not to admit my development was a perfect example of being in the right place at the right time, as well as having a coach willing to take the time to truly teach me to think outside the box.

    5. How do you adapt your programming to fit the needs of each athlete you work with?
    One of the key adaptations I perform is biometrics. This method is one that basically diverted from cybernetic periodization, which was a conference in the Soviet Union in 1950. It is not like it is new by any means, but many people think it is state-of-the-art. The short answer for the biometrics concept in training is that you will use the state of the organism, in this case the athlete’s body, to regulate how much training should be completed for that day. This means if an athlete is not feeling well, then the system will down-regulate and limit how much work is to be done. If the athlete is well trained, this system will allow the athlete to do the maximum amount of repetitions each day. As an example, an elite athlete may be able to do about 70 maximal effort attempts in a single training session, but then next week, due to self-induced damage to their body, only be able to hit 32 repetitions of maximal effort attempts.

    6. What do you think is the most overlooked concept in the field of strength and conditioning?
    I would say the most overlooked concept in the field of strength and conditioning has been a shift in the last few years to a lack of stress placed on athletes. I understand functional training and its value, and I truly believe it is valuable at the beginning of your training model, but it has very little effect after three to five weeks. I use this example, if you have an extremely trained track and field athlete that consistently attained elite results under a very specific training program, and then placed him into a functional training program, his results would decline and he would likely never achieve those elite results again. Why? It is due to functional training being general and non-specific. I truly believe functional training can be used to build a solid fundamental base, but there is nothing specific in regards to functional training.

    7. What resources do you use the most when it comes to getting continuing education as it pertains to the field?
    I review as many different types of strength journals that I can, including the publications of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), as well as various books that emerge in the field. I feel it is absolutely necessary to keep up with as much new research as possible.

    8. What is your take on “specificity” of training and how (if so) do you apply it to your programming?
    I believe in the method of dynamic correspondence, which I first read about in Anatoliy Bondarchuk’s work. However, to make the concept of dynamic correspondence a reality, you must first have a fundamental foundation of strengths and/or reactivity. For the majority of incoming athletes at the collegiate level it is necessary to make the athlete strong, and then begin to focus more on speed work such as 30 to 50% load parameters necessary for proper peaking. I have found that loading parameters will increase as the correlation of the movement becomes more similar to the movement patterns of that sport. It must be noted that the majority of sport-specific training should be avoided until the athlete reaches a highly competitive level to truly see the benefits.

    9. What is your favorite tool in your toolbox?
    It would have to be the assessment tools I am able to use to make better decisions on how the athletes are responding to the current phase of training they are completing. These tools range from heart rate monitors, to jump mats, and even include a TENDO device. In regards to serious assessment tools, I think the future is very bright in this field so I am never too thrilled to spend an excessive amount of money on these objects, as they may become obsolete in a matter of a few months. However, I am very excited to see where engineers can take us in the near future in the technology field of strength and conditioning.

    10. What are your five favorite exercises?
    In no particular order, my five favorite exercises include:

    • Plyometrics
    • Back squats
    • Bench presses
    • Pull-ups
    • RDLs

  • 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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