When Jim Wendler released 5/3/1 it opened the floodgates. Suddenly it seemed as if everyone had to release a strength template, showcasing their ideas about how the general population should train. Some of these were excellent, well thought out and easy to adapt to individual needs. Others fit on a bookshelf.
But after ordinary people discovered raw powerlifting, many of them found that the cookie cutter templates didn’t work so well on a long-term basis at generating platform success. At the same time, it’s not like there are expert strength and conditioning coaches on every corner and if there were, the cost to hire an expert can be prohibitive. Enter the online coach. It seems like the perfect solution for people trying to juggle careers and their powerlifting hobby as an online coach doesn’t require you to drastically alter your lifestyle the way you would have to if you decided to pack up and move to Ohio to train with Louie Simmons. They also typically charge less because you’re taking up less of their time, enabling them to see more clients during a training day. But is this a good idea?
I think that online coaching is like a trip to Vegas. It can be a great experience or a great way to lose a ton of cash quickly. I worked with an online coach from August through December of 2015 I was pleased with the results even while recognizing the limitations.
What’s Good About It:
- How Ever Do You Want It, How Ever Do You Need It – Up until I hired my coach, the extent of the instruction I received on exercise technique came from certifications I took over ten years ago and seminars I attended. That’s okay but not ideal. On the other hand, my family time is important to me and with my already busy schedule, driving in Atlanta’s notoriously congested traffic to train is a no go. I also don’t want to have to wait around three to four days a week for somebody to get to the house. My coach and I communicated through Google Drive, Facebook Messenger and texting. He uploaded the week’s schedule every week and I sent him videos after every lifting session.
- Get Your Hands Out My Pocket! – Compared to the cost of moving to where your coach is, or driving to him/her every day and even the hourly rate that a reputable coach will charge for giving you exclusive access to them, the online option is relatively inexpensive. The experience level of the coach and the amount of training you need, will factor into how much they charge. Several coaches I checked out offered packages in increments of six and twelve weeks but there are other options. My coach offers a month to month training option but we built the training around the powerlifting meets I had coming up. I would strongly advise comparing rates between different coaches before hiring a coach but ultimately, what matters is the value that you put on the quality of the training.
- Straight No Chaser– When you don’t have a coach it can be easy to fool yourself into believing that your technique and work ethic are on track with your goals. If your squats are higher than Cypress Hill it won’t take long for a coach to see it and comment on it. I’m pretty flexible which tends to make my squat set up not as tight as it should be sometimes. I wouldn’t have known it if I hadn’t gotten an independent set of eyes to watch me. Additionally, if your exercise frequency doesn’t fit your goals; it won’t take many missed sessions for the coach to comment on that either.
- The World Is Yours – This is a no-brainer but hiring an online coach means the coach can be anywhere in the world. So long as there’s not a language barrier, you’re not limited geographically which really opens up your options. Basically you’re limited only by finances and your goals. If your dream is to be coached by world record squatter Zahir Khudayarov but you don’t want to move to Sweden? No problem! Shoot The Dragon an email, and if the money is right, you’ve got a coach!
Online coaching isn’t for everyone and in part 2, I’ll go over some of the limitations of online coaching. One final thing, I wouldn’t worry too much about certification. All a certification means is your coach checked enough right answers on the multiple choice test that weekend. It might also mean that he was able to repeat what the instructor had said about exercises during the practical application (the part when he used his fellow classmates as guinea pigs). I advise checking out the prospective coach’s track record as well as what other people in the industry say about him. If he’s got a website, Instagram and/or YouTube channel you should check them out just like any other employer checking up on a potential employee. Because at the end of the day, that’s what you are, an employer screening candidates to provide a service for you.
Good luck and I hope that helped!
John Greaves III writes for a variety of outlets including Power Magazine, StrengthAdvocate.com and Powerlifting Watch. He is the founder of Garage Gym Life and has authored two fiction books involving powerlifting both of which are available on Amazon.com. He is a record holding Masters powerlifter, a combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a former Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor and was a silver medalist at the 2001 International Kickboxing Federation National Championships. He is constantly seeking out interesting people who have rejected an average life in favor of building an extraordinary legacy. John’s been training for twenty-three years and from a garage gym for sixteen. You can contact him at email@example.com.