Johnny Parker, Al Miller & Rob Panariello

The System, Periodization for the Strength Coach


Johnny Parker, Al Miller & Rob Panariello, with Jeremy Hall

the-system periodization book

As more coaches enter the world of strength and conditioning and face the task of developing programs for young athletes, there is no shortage of training programs to follow. The internet provides about as many exotic exercises and programs as there are gurus and coaches. Each is selling systems or methods to achieve gains in size, strength, power, or speed. It is challenging to determine which will be the best system when there is such a tremendous volume of information.

Many entering the field of strength and conditioning will choose a program they find online or one provided by a coach they respect because they trust it will help their athletes and provide a base from which to evolve. In some cases, this will generate good results; however, in other cases, it will end up as time lost to ineffective training.

Unfortunately, what is generally lacking in most coaches’ repertoires is an understanding of along with an inability to implement fundamental principles to build their own long-term, sustainable training programs. It can be a daunting task for the novice coach and just as much of a challenge for the seasoned coach to objectively evaluate the content and outcomes of their established methods of training. We have been there and had we not put our egos aside to critically evaluate our programming and outcomes, we would not have met with the successes we did.

In this book, we lay the foundation for a scientifically based, field-tested, and tremendously effective system of training. This is not a cookie-cutter program you can install without another thought; it is a system to reinforce the fundamentals and principles with which you can design and implement programming that will make your athletes stronger, faster, and more powerful over a sustained period.

We have collectively been utilizing and refining this system for 28 years—it has propelled countless athletes from high school to the professional level, to the Olympic Games and five NFL teams to a combined eight Super Bowls. It will require organization, some basic calculations, and a discerning “eye of the coach,” and then it will provide results unlike any other method we have tried or evaluated.

Our driving goal has always been to constantly improve our athletes and ourselves. With our competitive days behind us, we now want to educate the strength and conditioning community, just as we were educated almost 30 years ago.

In this book, we introduce you to the programming we call “The System.”

Of those who have learned and implemented The System, it is the rare few who go back to their former methods. To master it will take time and effort. It will take a drive for excellence with a hard analysis of your previous biases and deficits in constructing training programs.

And it will all be worth it.

We have already logged the hours, the miles, and the frustration to refine our combined 80-plus years of coaching and learning into this blueprint for success. Now that we are nearing the end of our careers and the threat of young upstart coaches taking our jobs is gone, we want to pass on the methods and plans that led to our successes. Although you might think that a training system that is 28 years old is already past its prime, we promise you that its time has really just arrived.

First, a disclaimer: This is not an exhaustive review and application of our programming system. To do justice to what we were taught and learned through the years would take more than a book to capture. Our hope is that providing a foundation of the concepts and creating a few starting points will provide even the least-experienced strength coach an opportunity to implement a more effective and systematic approach of training for sports performance.

There are endless opportunities to manipulate the training variables within our framework to account for the challenges that will inevitably arise when training athletes. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to programming, and even the three of us had difficulty agreeing on some of the specifics we present in the book.

As you gain years in the field, you will continue to learn, reflect, and grow. We hope this book will provide either a new perspective or an opportunity to adapt your current training so you can achieve even greater success.

Johnny Parker. Al Miller, Rob Panariello

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NFL strength coach Al Miller

Al Miller

Al Miller is one of the most decorated strength and conditioning coaches in NFL history with a career that spanned more than four decades and left a lasting impact at every level of the profession. His contributions and vision advanced the field of strength and conditioning and positively impacted the development of thousands of young athletes.

After a 15-year stretch at the collegiate level, he made the jump to the NFL coaching ranks under Head Coach Dan Reeves with the Denver Broncos. For the next 19 years, the two men worked side by side in Denver, New York and Atlanta developing athletes such as John Elway, Phil Simms and Michael Vick and would ultimately appear in five Conference Championships and four Super Bowls.

In addition to his multiple championship appearances over a 25-year NFL career, he also coached two Pro Bowl teams and received numerous awards, including the NFL President’s Award, the NFL Strength Coaches Emrich-Riecke-Jones Award, the NFL Strength Coach of the Year Award and the NFL Strength Coaches Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jeremy Hall

Jeremy Hall, DPT, CSCS, USAW, is a physiotherapist, strength and conditioning coach, writer, and founder of Total Performance Science and Mind of the Coach.

He has worked as a strength and conditioning coach in the Philadelphia Phillies’ minor league system and with countless amateur and professional athletes in private practice for both rehabil¬itation and performance enhancement. He has also taught at the graduate level at Nova South¬eastern University, lecturing on the integration of performance training techniques into physical rehabilitation.

NFL strength coach Johnny Parker

Johnny Parker

At the forefront of modern strength coaching for athletes, Johnny Parker began his coaching career in 1969 at Indianola Academy in Mississippi. Well before weight training was common in sports, he spent 10 years coaching at the collegiate level, where at Indiana University he became the first strength and conditioning coach in the Big 10.

From 1984 until his retirement in 2008, he spent 21 years as an NFL strength coach, beginning with nine years in the New York Giants organization. Under Coach Bill Parcells, he helped them win Super Bowls in 1986 and 1990. Playing against the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV, the Giants set an all-time Super Bowl record for ball-control possession at 40 minutes and 33 seconds. Parker’s role as a strength and conditioning coach certainly contributed to the Giants’ tradition of excellence.

He then went on to spend seven seasons with the New England Patriots, followed by helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win the first Super Bowl in team history in 2003. In 2005, Johnny went to the San Francisco 49ers before retiring in 2008. All told, his coaching practices, many of which are outlined in this book, helped to establish winning records with nine teams, including four Super Bowl appearances.

In addition to his Super Bowl triumphs, he received the President’s Award from the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Coaches Society, presented annually to the NFL’s top strength and conditioning coach and was named to the USA Strength and Conditioning Hall of Fame’s inaugural class, along with his co-authors Al Miller and Rob Panariello and mentors Alvin Roy, Clyde Emrich, and Lou Riecke.

physical therapist Rob Panariello

Rob Panariello

Robert Panariello MS, PT, ATC, CSCS, is a Founding Partner and Co-Chief Executive Officer at Professional Physical Therapy, presently with 180 facilities in five states, as well as the 20,000 square foot state-of-the-art Professional Athletic Performance Center located in Garden City, New York. He has more than 60 peer-reviewed orthopedic and sports medicine research, sports physical therapy research, and strength and conditioning journal, book chapter, and book publications.

He has 38 years of experience in the related fields of sports physical therapy, athletic training, and the performance enhancement training of athletes. His experience includes the study of the science and art of coaching with National team weightlifters and various National sport team athletes in Bulgaria, the former Soviet Union, and the former East Germany.

He received the 2016 National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Sports Medicine/Rehabilitation Specialist of the Year Award, the 2015 American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Sports Physical Therapy Section Lynn Wallace Clinical Educator Award, was elected as one of the initial inductees to the 2003 USA Strength and Conditioning Coaches Hall of Fame, and re¬ceived the prestigious National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Presidents Award in 1998.


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