Mike Volkmar has a passion for all things fitness.
As Peddie’s strength and conditioning coach for the last nine years, he’s developed performance training programs for more than 1,200 student-athletes. Some have gone on to remarkable athletic careers at the collegiate and professional level.
But it’s not just the seasoned athletes who are a source of pride for Volkmar. Equally impactful are the students who have overcome personal insecurities and developed a positive work ethic under his leadership.
“I remember the shy ninth grader who used to look at the fitness center as a big cavern of insecurity,” said Volkmar. “By the end of the year, she had confidence in her workout routine and started recruiting her peers to join.”
He also recalled, “There was a junior on the boys’ soccer team who saw a freshman struggling with an exercise, stopped what he was doing, and walked over to help. I remember those students just as vividly as the All-American performers.”
“By the end of the year, she had confidence in her workout routine and started recruiting her peers to join.”
Frequently, Coach Volkmar’s former students report that Peddie’s strength and conditioning program rivals or exceeds their college program. “I look forward to each fall when recent graduates visit Peddie over break and tell me how they crushed their fitness test or advanced to the returning athlete lift group because they know the lingo and are proficient in all movements.”
Jason Baseden, Peddie’s director of athletics, said that the school is fortunate to have a strength and conditioning coach with such extensive knowledge and experience, and called Volkmar “one of the pillars of Peddie Athletics.”
“Mike’s ability to train everyone from the non-athlete to the professional athlete is one of his greatest strengths,” said Baseden. “He also designs programs for faculty and staff to help them achieve their fitness goals. Mike’s focus on proper technique and safety help build confidence and a life-long love of fitness.”
Coach, author, amateur powerlifter
Volkmar has coached high school and college students, as well as professional athletes. He worked for three years as the strength and conditioning coach at The George Washington University (GWU), where he trained affiliate teams for the Milwaukee Brewers and the Washington Nationals. He was a performance coach at IMG Academies in Florida and the director of strength and conditioning at the APEX Academies.
Along with a master’s degree in exercise science from GWU, Volkmar earned advanced specialty certifications in strength and conditioning, post-rehab exercise, athletic development and sports medicine. An amateur powerlifter, he is also co-author of the “Mobility Workout Handbook” (2016) and the “Garage Gym Bible” (2017), and author of the “Dumbbell Workout Handbook” (2017) and the just-released “Tabata Workout Handbook” (2018).
Volkmar’s coaching philosophy is one that embraces hard work and consistency over talent. “I tell my students, ‘you must earn the barbell.’ Meaning, they have to pass bodyweight and dumbbell tests before they earn the privilege of using the barbell. It’s a back-to-basics approach.
“I teach them to control what they can control, and that includes their work ethic. I want everyone to strive every day for positive, consistent effort.”
It’s essential to Volkmar that Peddie students remain disciplined in their athletic pursuits. But he motivates each athlete differently. “Some students may simply need the confidence to be in the weight room, while others want to increase speed and strength to make the varsity team. I have to build a relationship with each athlete and push them past their previous physical and mental limits.”
Commitment = big results
Girls’ basketball standout Natalie Stralkus ’18, who recently eclipsed 1,000 career points, said that Volkmar taught her the value of patience. “Coach Volkmar has helped me grow as an athlete and as a person. I came to Peddie unable to do one real push-up. I will be attending the United States Military Academy for basketball next year, and in the Army, push-ups are a must! I’ve learned from Coach Volkmar that by consistently putting in work, you will get big results.”
When you commit to his program, you’ll make major progress. Adam Conyer ’18
Peddie football linebacker Adam Conyer ’18, who has been recruited to play next year for the University of Pennsylvania, credits Coach Volkmar in part for his successful athletic career. “He is a very dedicated coach,” said Conyer. “When I arrived at Peddie, I had very little knowledge of weight training. Coach Volkmar taught me the fundamentals and improved my technique. When you commit to his program, you’ll make major progress.”
That’s music to Volkmar’s ears: “My favorite part of my job is seeing the unbridled joy and accomplishment of an athlete in the weight room after a big lift.”
Coach Volkmar on his new book, “Tabata Workout Handbook.”
My latest book expands on the popular fat loss protocol, Tabata Intervals. Tabata Training is in the High-Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T) family but calls for more work than rest making them super intense and effective for body fat loss. The book includes an 8-week progression program and exercise descriptions for the athlete getting familiar with Tabata style training.
After a complete Mobility warm-up (detailed in the book) perform eight intervals of the following protocol:
- 20 seconds of maximum WORK (with proper technique)
- 10 seconds of REST trying to control your breathing
- Repeat those 8 intervals of the same exercise = 4 minutes total work
- This book programs 4 exercises per workout = 16 minutes of work
Mobility Warm Ups
Perform the following Mobility warm up series before the workouts. Do 2 sets of 15 reps for each exercise.
- Overhead squat
- Active kneeling hip / quad stretch
- Downward dog push-ups
- Barbell shoulder press
- Dumbbell walking lunge
- Barbell shoulder press*
- Dumbbell walking lunge*
*Use 10–15 pounds less weight than the previous round for more speed.
Get more information on Amazon.com.