Harvard University Gives New Credence to Training Smarter
Posted on Jan 30, 2017 2:12:00 PM
Harvard University Gives New Credence to Training Smarter

Beth Zeitlin is Assistant / Strength and Conditioning Coach for 5 varsity sports teams at Harvard University, the largest collegiate athletic department in the world. She works with 130 athletes in men and women's Squash, men and women's Swimming & Diving and Men's Soccer.  She also acts as advisory Strength and Conditioning Coach to the men's Ultimate Frisbee team (club sport).

Beth makes TRX Training modality her specialty when training these elite student athletes over the past 7 seasons. With the full support of the team head coaches, Beth has an 8 multi-mount TRX set-up, working up to 25 athletes on the straps simultaneously.

In planning her training programs, Beth’s priority is injury prevention.  In keeping Harvard athletes healthy and strong to optimize their sport performance. With a background in dance, Beth is an advocate of incorporating flexibility and movement-based exercises into training. And TRX is her training tool of choice, accounting for up to 90% of her Harvard athletics workout programs.

We asked Beth about her strength & conditioning regimen, her goals in training Harvard’s student-athletes, and her passion for the TRX Training Modality.

What are your favorite TRX movements when training Harvard athletes?

“Really tough question, kind of like asking who's your favorite child! I would have to say:

  1. Kneeling roll-outs with my new favorite progression into a tricep extension
  2. TRX burpees because they make my female athletes feel badass!
  3. TRX Rows - At the moment my athletes are loving wall rows and pull ups using the straps
  4. All the plank positions and progressions are unmatched for the level of connectivity you can achieve. 

What is the key benefit for Harvard athletes in TRX training?

“The biggest benefit I see is connectivity:  Taking all the strong components of the athletes and putting them together so they ‘cooperate’.  I call it ‘shrink-wrapping’.  It keeps them durable and resilient and this makes them confident.”

Have there been any particular athletes that have transformed using TRX in their time at Harvard?

“I have lots of champs on my squads, but my favorite stories are about the guys that limp into the gym and then eventually run out.  I say often: ‘We start on the straps and we end on the straps!’ My current favorite is a former Harvard Business School Professor who is 77 years old.  18 months ago he was supposed to have shoulder surgery for a partial tear, but instead worked out and rehabbed his injury using the TRX straps. This past fall he and his 80 year-old rowing partner rowed in the Head of the Charles and now he's back on the tennis and squash courts and is getting ready for a ski trip to Vale next month.”

What would you tell people who are skeptical about the straps?

“I was a skeptic myself.  I don't use any bells or whistles in my gym and I initially thought TRX was gimmicky UNTIL I took my first class.  I was instantly hooked because I realized there was a way to integrate all the aspects of training I loved with movement.  I truly believe there is no better modality than the TRX modality to build the strength you need to get from the straps to a bar.”


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