10 Tips to Make the Weight Room Player-Friendly

By Drew Champlin, FNF Coaches Contributor

Fayetteville High (Ark.) offensive coordinator Benji Mahan is part of a staff that manages 100 varsity players over the summer. Here are methods they use to make the weight room player-friendly over the summer.

Fayetteville has 20 workouts on set dates throughout the summer. If you make all 20, you earn a steak dinner at the head coach’s house.
“What’s really nice is you can add value to some guys who may not be able to play athletically, but they’re there and they are on the team,” Mahan said.

If you can’t make one of those set dates, makeup days are allowed on Wednesday and Friday. Coaches would rather not hold those, but also want their players to get all 20 workouts in.


Fayetteville coaches set the dates on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. That gives players time to spend the weekend how they choose.


Coaches make sure the players can get motivated by listening to music throughout the workouts.
“It could be rap,” Mahan said. “It could be rock. Just nothing with foul language. We’ve got to censor it before we play it, for sure.”


Workouts start at 7:30 a.m. It’s not too early, and kids are home on the couch by 9:30 a.m. and can do whatever they want for the rest of the day.
“It’s not so stinking hot where you can’t get anything done outside,” Mahan said.

Mahan and the Fayetteville staff work the weight room at game speed. Usually, the team is in the weight room for 45 minutes and doing conditioning outside for 45 minutes.
“We try to get them in there and go fast, work out fast, trade the weights on and off as fast as we can and pick the tempo up,” Mahan said. “That’s how we play on Friday nights, so we try to incorporate it all.”


Mahan and the staff do what they can to make sure the players feel welcomed in the weight room through positivity and teaching.
“It needs to be one that the kids find refuge in and not one that they resist,” he said.


Athletes also come into the weight room knowing exactly what part of the body they’ll be focusing on that day.

“They know as far as what day is leg day, what day is upper body day, what day is clean day,” Mahan said. “They know on Tuesday, it’s going to be squat day, so get your mind right. We try to coach them up the day before saying what tomorrow is and let’s come in ready to attack it.”

Mahan said that they focus and teach like they would if it was a game situation.
“We’re going to tell you the reps, we’re going to tell you the percentage,” Mahan said. “We’re going to tell you once.”


Mahan and the staff try to keep the equipment room set up with fresh weights. When an athlete walks into the room, there are 24 stations and the weights are all racked right. It doesn’t look like a tornado has come through there.

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