Training For the Sake of Fatigue: Blair Wagner

American’s have always had a tendency to think that more is better.  We, as football coaches, often fall into the same trap with our training programs.  Football player

If a little bit of running is good, more running must be better.

If a little bit of strength training is good, more must be better.

Logically, we know it’s not true, but it’s really easy to fall into the “fatigue addiction.”

The fatigue addiction is that feeling that every workout has to be a near-death experience.  The feeling that the “best” workout is always the hardest.  It’s the feeling that, unless someone is puking or passing out, you aren’t working hard enough.

Trust me, I rode that wave for years as a college strength coach.  I beat the brakes off my athletes on a regular basis and felt like I had to push them to the point of exhaustion at every opportunity.  I understand.

I also understand that things like the CrossFit games and workout highlight videos glamorize the fatigue addiction and make us feel like we’re soft if we don’t stare death in the eye at the end of every training session.

Don’t get me wrong, working hard and creating fatigue are a very important part of training for football.  Guys are going to puke sometimes.  People will be sore.  Some athletes will quit.  That’s all part of the process.

But, we also have to remember that the point of a football training program is to help athletes practice longer and perform better on the field.  Sometimes that means we have to induce incredible amounts of fatigue.  Other times, we need to concentrate more on strength development, improving speed, or executing skills.

Blair Wagner, strength & conditioning coach at Eastern Michigan University, knows a thing or two about training to fatigue.  With experiences coaching at three different colleges, Coach Wagner has put plenty of athletes through brutal training protocols.  He has also learned that pulling back at the right time doesn’t make him a soft coach.  It makes him a smart coach.

We sat down to Blair to talk about some of the differences between working hard and working smart.  The lines are often blurred, but his advice will give you food for thought when creating your own training plans.


BlairWagnerHS_042310Blair Wagner – Blair Wagner is entering his third year at Eastern Michigan University, and the second as the head sports performance coach. An assistant strength and conditioning coach at The Citadel from 2007-10, the 28-year-old Wagner worked directly with the basketball and wrestling programs, while assisting with the Bulldogs football and baseball teams. He was first appointed in December 2007 after spending the fall with the College of Charleston in a similar position.

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