Each month we showcase a top practitioner in the industry to get an inside scoop on what they do and how they do it. We always aim to get you access to the best information and the people who own it!!
This week we are talking to Leon Williams.
Leon is a strength and conditioning coach on the scholarship programme at the University of East London.
Leon also works as the lead performance coach for StarBridge Football Academy who provide a full-time development pathway for football and academics. He completed his undergraduate degree Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Roehampton and a masters in Strength and Conditioning at the University of East London.
Leon is an accredited coach with the NSCA. Leon coaches a wide variety of athletes, from professional to recreational level. His professional work includes two seasons at AFC Wimbledon.
How long have you been coaching?
Around 5 years now.
How did you get you started?
I have a pretty unorthodox path to Strength & Conditioning (S&C). I was previously a chef and went back to university to do a sport nutrition degree and ended switching to sport and exercise science. During my 2nd year I went to America on a student exchange program and this is where I first saw S&C at the university level and knew it was something I wanted to be involved with.
What is your coaching philosophy?
I'm still in the infancy of my coaching career, so I feel like a lot of what I know regarding training constantly changes the more reading and coaching I do. However, I believe the foundation of everything I do should be based on developing a relationship with the athlete. Everyone is different and I feel like getting to know the athlete as a person will allow me effectively communicate with them, leading to better coaching rather than just preaching what I've read in the latest article at them.
What does a day in the life of Leon look like?
A typical day will start with me heading to the gym to do my own training before going into work. I'm lucky that working at the university allows for a relative later start compared to many other S&C or personal training jobs.
Once at work, I'll be on the gym floor coaching 4-5 high-performance sessions. These sessions will have between 8-12 scholarship/funded athletes from a number of different sports, such as Volleyball, Basketball, Football, and Tennis. Each of the athletes are screened and programmed for individually, and it's my job to ensure that they understand it and to coach them through any movements they don't.
Once these sessions are done, I'll then coach 3-4 sessions for the university teams. These sessions are open to the student that participate in the social teams and include Rowing, Netball, Rugby, Hockey, and Futsal. I really enjoy working with the teams as many of the students wouldn't have done any form of strength and conditioning before so it's a lot of fun watching them put it together and start to understand the training.
After the coaching is finished I'll normally take time to do some of the admin work or write up new programs for the athletes that need them. Days can be long, but I really enjoy coaching and every day has different challenges so I find it a lot of fun.
What are the most common training mistakes you see people make?
A common mistake people make is lacking patience. People will often overestimate what can be done in 6 weeks, and underestimate what can be done in 6 months.
What’s your favourite breakfast?
Breakfast for me is often on the go, so typically it's a coffee and a shake. However, when I do have time, you can't beat eggs and salmon on toast.
What your favourite workout for your own training?
I'm currently following and really enjoying the 5,3,1 program, which is basically a strength/powerlifting program. It mainly focuses on the four foundation lifts: squat, bench, deadlift and overhead press.
Any top tips for training motivation?
Have reasons and track your progress - people are very good at setting goals, but not so good at understanding the reasons they want something. Knowing your reasons will help keep you motivated in the times when the end goals seem distant.
Tracking, whether it logging weights / workout or taking pictures always help with motivation, as people will often forget how far they have come.
What 5 songs are on your workout playlist?
I get abused at work for listing to too much Drake, so my 5 non-Drake songs are:
P's&Q's – Kano
Man don't care – JME
Shutdown – Skepta
Long live A$AP- Asap Rocky
Dani California- Red Hot Chilli Peppers