We are very excited to put out our next D1 Lab Human Performance interview, this time with Ben Schumacher, a seasoned professional in the Strength and Conditioning world of collegiate athletics. From state-of-the-art technology to science-focused training techniques, Ben creatively incorporates multi-faceted approaches to becoming a stronger, healthier competitor in all arenas. In this interview, Ben explores how he got into S&C, the nuances of training high-performing athletes, and where his industry is taking training to the next level. This post is PACKED with awesome stuff for all competitors. Read up and check out Ben’s social media (@bschumacher18) for more great content.
Tell us about yourself and your background.
I grew up the son of a football coach who was always (and still is) very into lifting weights. I played lots of sports growing up. In high school I played football, baseball, and was a thrower on the track team. I went to a junior college to play football and then received a scholarship to play at a division 2 school. During my time as a player, it took time for me to develop and get better, and the weight-room was a big part of that. During my last year of college I began reaching out to strength coaches to figure out the path to become a strength and conditioning coach. That led me to go and get my masters degree, and I’ve been working in strength and conditioning since then.
What do you currently do?
I’ve been a strength and conditioning coach for 10 years, going from division 2 to Ivy league to now, where I’m a Big Ten strength and conditioning coach for a football program.
What does a typical training day look like for the athletes you work with?
It all depends on the time of year. but most days start pretty early to get the field and weight room prepped for the guys. We start each day with some sort of run. Whether that is speed, agility, or conditioning - we are on the field for that. We always start with a dynamic warm up and then do our field work. Again, depending on the time of year, we will spend anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes on the field. After the run, we transition to the weight-room, which depending on the day we will train upper, lower, or total body. Training involves some sort of explosive movement, anything from plyometrics to olympic lifting. We always pair exercises to get more done in less time. Usually those jumps or lifts are paired with some sort of corrective movement or upper body pulling movement. Typically we then go on to our main strength movement of the day. For lower body training it will be a squat variation and for upper body it will be a bench variation. Again all these movements would be paired to maximize our time. Once our main movement is done we move on to our accessory work. We like to go circuit style with most of our accessory work. Again maximizing time is huge when working with athletes. Usually we perform 1-2 circuits that involve 2-3 movements for anywhere from 2-5 minutes. So a lot of work in a small amount of time. We finish everyday with 2 things: 1. some sort of soft tissue work whether it’s dynamic, static stretching, or foam rolling. 2. Post workout nutrition. Our goal is to get high quality calories into our athletes as soon as they are done training. All our guys have weight goals and they refuel based on the goals.
How do you think training will change for these athletes going forward?
Technology is growing fast in the training of all people. Whether watching videos or looking at the bar path, technology is really changing the way some people train. Being able to access workouts from your phone and inputting your basic health information is really pushing the envelope on what people can and should be doing.
What risks do you see for athletes going forward?
Nutrition and nutritional supplements are really big in strength and conditioning but they are also the wild west. Making sure you are eating good nutritious food and getting clean supplements is key to seeing gains. The way both are marketed these days makes it hard to know what is good and bad. So do your homework and eat the way your body feels best and get good supplements that are third-party tested.
What advice do you have for (high school, college, professional) athletes?
Eat, sleep, train. Eat at least 3 meals per day but always shoot for 5 (that includes snacks) Sleep as much as you can. Turn off the electronics and get 9 good hours of sleep. And finally train hard but train smart. Have great form through a full range of motion and you’ll get results.
What have you learned that you want to pass on to anyone reading this interview?
The biggest issue I see not only in the strength and conditioning world but just in our world in general is the lack of consistency. Lots of people buy the clothes, the supplements, or get the monthly subscription. But what is missing most is the consistency to stay with something for a considerable amount of time. Most people don’t stick with training 3 days a week or won’t eat out during the week. Being consistent is the main ingredient to find success not only in your health but in your life. Whether you want to acquire a new skill or get better at an old one consistency will get you there. Consistently showing up to the gym, consistently eating clean, consistently getting your heart rate up will do wonders for you. What does not work is “once in a while”. ‘Once in a while I’ll lift’, ‘once in a while I’ll cook at home’, or ‘once in a while I’ll stay in tonight because I want to get up early tomorrow’. If you look at high performers in any line of work, look at how consistent they are to their craft. So if you are looking to make a change for better or for worse schedule your day to be consistent.