Strength and Conditioning – by Dr Catherine Coventry (Osteopath)

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the Level 1 Australian Strength and Conditioning Association (ASCA) course, which has been designed to provide a pathway to becoming an accredited ASCA Strength and Conditioning coach. You might be wondering ‘So what exactly is strength and conditioning all about? Can it help me?’ If you are an athlete at any level (even just a weekend warrior!) then the answer is yes!

What does a strength and conditioning coach do?

Like personal trainers and group exercise instructors, strength and conditioning coaches help others to improve their fitness. But strength and conditioning coaches differ in one very important way—the clients they work with are focused on improving their performance or skill in a sport.

Strength and Conditioning is about more than lifting weights – it encompasses the entire development of the athlete and what is needed to improve physical performance.

Strength and conditioning coaches have two main goals:

The first is to improve athletic performance, which usually means improving an athletes’ speed, strength and power.

S & C coaches develop systematic training programs for both teams and individual athletes, often working in close association with coaches. This usually includes teaching proper lifting techniques, supervising and motivating athletes as they work out, and assessing their performance before and after the program. The nature of the conditioning program will vary depending on whether the sport is in season or not.

The second primary goal is to reduce injuries.

With this in mind, S & C coaches often design programs to strengthen body parts that are prone to injury in a particular sport. For example, the hamstrings in soccer or AFL. Therefore, in order to prevent athletes from getting injured during training, S & C coaches must know the correct exercise and lifting techniques and be able to teach them to athletes. The S & C coach also monitors athletes’ general wellbeing, sometimes providing basic nutritional advice or referring athletes to a registered dietitian if they need more individualized nutritional counselling.

The biggest ‘take away’ points for me were:

 The concept of periodization

Periodization is the division of the training year into smaller and more manageable intervals. The goal of periodization is to bring an athlete to peak performance at the most important competition or manage performance across a long season for seasonal sports. During the off-season, conditioning programs can be quite rigorous in order to build the fitness and strength necessary to perform well in the athlete’s chosen sport. During the season, conditioning programs tend to focus more on maintaining athletes’ conditioning than on improving it.

There are various models of periodization that can be used to achieve the desired effect!

Key points for major lifts

Squats – keep a neutral spine and hinge from the hips, but also try to drop down between your legs to get more depth in your squat. This will help to build stronger gluteal muscles!

Also look at a point on the ground slightly ahead of you to assist in maintaining a neutral spine, rather than looking upwards.

Deadlifts – take it slow with the first part of the lift, until the bar gets to above your knees. This will help to pre-tension the back muscles (and means you are less likely to injure your back!)

Then ‘explode’ up, using your legs, glutes and core.

Click here to book an appointment with Catherine or call the clinic on 5255 5040 (OG) or 4202 0446 (L) to discuss how Catherine can help you achieve your health goals.


Australian Strength and Conditioning Association,

English Institute of Sport,


Bio: Catherine moved to the Bellarine in early 2018 to join the team at OGOSH. Catherine has 5 year’s experience working as an osteopath and over 17 years experience training in athletics, competing at  state and national level in the 400m, cross country, triple jump and long jump events. Catherine is currently training to become a Level 1 Strength and Conditioning Coach. As part of completing her qualification she needs to undertake practical coaching hours with individual athletes or sports clubs. If you would like Catherine to develop and implement a strength and conditioning program for yourself or your sports club, please contact Catherine at the clinic.