Freedom within a Framework

As we've been in the process of launching Concentric Brain, we inevitably get this question: How did you come up with this idea? People naturally wonder how we made the seemingly vast jump from strength coaches to software developers. 

Well, it all has to do with setting up freedom within a framework (I'm borrowing this phrase from Jim Collins' book Good-to-Great). In 2007, I started my sports performance training company, Strength & Performance Training, Inc. From the get-go I realized several truths:

  1. I did not want the responsibility of programming for every athlete that ever walked through SAPT's doors.
  2. If I am hiring degreed, certified professional strength coaches - which I was - I should expect that they would crave the creative outlet of designing their own programs to implement. After all, I wanted to retain my coaches, so letting them do what they are qualified to do seemed like a good first step!
  3. I had a specific methodology I believed we must implement, no matter who the programming coach may be.

My solution to all this was The Template! Certainly, I did not come up with this idea myself, as anyone reading this realizes. Templates are simply a best practice amongst strength coaches and personal trainers alike. 

So, by utilizing this fairly simple concept, I was able to ensure the training methods I wanted adhered to, would be. But, the fantastic by-product created was a wonderful space for our coaches to play within. Working within the template, as an outline, the SAPT coaches had great freedom to experiment, create, and ultimately push our methods and approach forward via our own R&D efforts.

Now, I won't dive into the details that actually lead to the Concentric Brain development process... maybe another day. Rather, I'd like to really highlight the benefits of creating Freedom within a Framework for your business or department and your staff. It doesn't matter if it's just you (and no staff) or if you head up a large department with many coaches to whom you provide oversight. The benefits of templating are absolutely outstanding!

Freedom within a Framework for Generating Training Plans:

Oh, the beauty! Look at that 3x/week template - spreadsheets NEVER looked this good!

Oh, the beauty! Look at that 3x/week template - spreadsheets NEVER looked this good!

  • Consistency - there are certain types of training methods I never want to see implemented in a SAPT facility. Templates ensure I never do!
  • Creativity - hey, we're all professionals; we have invested greatly in our education and want to showcase our ability to help people through our methods! Templates allow us to thrive during the program design process without getting bogged down by "reinventing the wheel" with each new program. Templates also ensure we still get to engage in the fun part of planning: that last 10-20% of real customization you can provide because only you really know your clients and athletes! 
  • Efficiency - seriously, they make things SO much faster
  • Reduction in Errors - ever fall really deep into the wormhole of planning an advanced program? You know, you've been working on it for 45-min and think you're almost finished. But when you go to review, low-and-behold, you've repeated the same movement pattern on two days inadvertently. You wanted sagittal-plane unilateral lower body on day 1 and frontal-plane unilateral lower body on day 2... not two sagittal plane movements, silly! Well, with templates, you never have to worry about these types of errors.
  • Versatility - templates provide an easy way to set the overall goal for any given program, but can remain flexible enough to be adjusted for experience level. For example: if you set up a Baseball Wave 1 template, you can then "fill in" the actual exercises with experience-level appropriate exercises. So, in the template, A1 may be listed as a Squat - but in the actual workout planning, you can insert in a Front Squat for the experienced athlete and a Goblet Squat for the beginner. 
  • Analysis - Sticking with a template for a certain population for any given period of time will inevitably allow the coach or trainer to review actual out come more clearly when there are some unifying elements across all programs. This is how we get better as an industry, folks! By facing the (sometimes) hard facts and making adjustments to improve!


Sarah Walls

A little about me: I've worked in pretty much every corner of the fitness industry for about 10 years. I've had the great fortune of spending most of this time working with gifted athletes at every level. I've also had the great opportunity of designing and conducting research projects, writing occasionally for various publications and blogs, competing in powerlifting, and just generally having a killer time pursuing my passions wherever they may take me. Now I own two businesses: one is an athletic performance training company that I started in 2007 at age 26 and the other is a software company startup that was launched in 2014. Paramount to all the awesomeness of my professional career, is my family. My kids are a thrill and my husband continues to be my most critical and important supporter.