7 Books All Strength Coaches Should Read

Movement by Gray Cook
Maybe my favorite book of the all, Gray Cook’s Movement has set the standard for assessment movement and recognizing movement dysfunction. As the write-up on Amazon says, “author Gray Cook crosses the lines between rehabilitation, conditioning and fitness, providing a clear model and a common language under which fitness and rehabilitation professionals can work together.” Top of the list for fitness professionals.

movement

Advances in Functional Training by Michael Boyle
Though functional training has received a bad rap over the years due to people not truly understanding what functional training is, Michael Boyle’s book was a game-changer for strength coaches. You are hard pressed to find a strength coach that has had a bigger hand at changing the industry for the better and this books let you get inside his head and see how he goes about training some of the best athletes in the world.

advances in functional training

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Written over 60’s years ago, How to Win Friends and Influence People should be a must read for anyone, not just strength coaches. Carnegie’s book focuses on becoming more successful through building relationships with everyone you encounter as well as improving your likeability just by changing some of the words you choose and the way you interact with other people.

how to win friends

Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes by Shirley Sahrmann
Simply put, Sahrmann changed the way physical therapist looked at physical therapy and the way that strength coaches look at strength training and injury prevention as well as the ability to diagnosis and understand potential movement dysfunction and muscles imbalances. Published in 2002, the book presents a “classification system of mechanical pain syndromes that is designed to direct the exercise prescription and correction of faulty movement patterns.” A true game changer for all health professionals.

shirley sahrmann

 

InsideOut Coaching by Joe Ehrmann
Joe Ehrmann hit a homerun with his book InsideOut Coaching. Ehrmann writes out the platform that coaches have and the ability to transform the athletes they coach, though most coaches fail to use this platform mentor and teach their athletes. Ehrmann calls this transformational coaching, when coaches go beyond the X’s and O’s and mentor athletes on the Y’s of life.

insideout coaching

Becoming a Supple Leopard By Kelly Starrett
If you have any interest in movement, correcting movement dysfunctions, and/or mobility, then Kelly’s Becoming a Supple Leopard is as good as it gets. The book goes into detail about how to prevent and rehabilitate common athletic injuries, identify and fix movement dysfunctions, increase recovery from session to session, and create mobility programs for yourself or athletes.

k-starr

Make Today Count by John C. Maxwell
In the area of personal development there is no better book than Make Today Count. The book goes in depth on the art of making good decisions every single day in order to create the successful and rewarding life. Maxwell goes through what he calls his twelve life-impacting decisions and how one can manage those decisions on a daily basis to become more successful one day at a time.

make today count

How to Spot a Legit Personal Trainer

A quality personal trainer can do wonders for you health and your physical appearance. They can help you move better and feel better that will help to improve your quality of life. It makes you wonder why everyone that can afford to hire a personal trainer doesn’t.

The problem is that finding a quality personal trainer is becoming harder and harder in these days. A less than stellar personal trainer will do nothing but empty your wallet and leave you with a sore back, giving all personal trainers a bad rap. That’s why people that can afford a personal trainer don’t always have a personal trainer.

So how do you go about finding a quality personal trainer that will make you feel and move better? Here are 5 things to consider when you look for a personal trainer.

Credentials

Unfortunately anybody these days can call themselves a personal trainer. Any old Joe can wake up, decide they want to be a personal trainer and find themselves a job. What separate the educated and uneducated personal trainer are credentials. Look for a trainer that is certified by the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) orAmericanCollegeof Sports Medicine (ACSM) – both of which require a college education in order to sit in on the exam.

Furthermore, don’t be afraid to ask a personal trainer about their credentials and educational background. Ask them if they regularly attend seminars and workshops or network with other personal trainers or strength coaches at local colleges and/or universities. Finding someone who is always trying to learn more is a good sign.

Does the Trainer Have Many Clients?

A sure fire way to figure out if a personal trainer is qualified or not is to find out how many clients the trainer has. Chances are, if a trainer has a ton of clients, he or she is doing something right. On the other hand, if a trainer doesn’t have many clients at all, chances are they aren’t doing much right. There are obviously exceptions to this rule, but it’s certainly a good starting point.

Personality

One thing that is overlooked when hiring a personal trainer is the trainers personality. If you are going to spend an hour a couple times a week with someone you probably want to have compatible personalities. Getting along with someone goes a long way. The trainer can have all the credentials in the world but if they think they are a drill sergeant and your one of his or her soldiers, chances are it you won’t be having a good time reaching your goals.

Where does the Trainer Work?

Maybe the biggest factor in picking a personal trainer would be based on where they work. There are a lot of great facilities across this country that have a great reputation. On the other hand, there are way more places across this country that I wouldn’t send my worst enemy to workout. Seek out the top notch facilities. Top facilities are top facilities for a reason – they seek out the best staff the continue to educate the staff to stay on top of current trends.

Past Work Experience/Mentors

If you really want to do your homework find out where and who the personal trainer has worked for is the past. Maybe the trainer doesn’t have a lot of clients or the facility isn’t booming at the moment. But what if the facility is new and the owner/trainer has moved on from a great facility working for a great mentor. The owner/trainer might have worked the last 5 years at a facility that worked specifically with professional athletes or was a strength coach at a major university working with the football team.

Simple Recovery Strategies

Anyone that trains hard and often will preach to you about how important recovery is from session to session. As fun as it is to beat yourself up each day in the weight room or on the field, you need to do something to turn the ship around for the next days workout, practice, or competition. Here are a few quick and simple ways to help promote recovery from day to day.

foam rolling

Foam Rolling
As simple and as obvious as it is, spending more time on a foam roller will do wonders in making you feel a little better and recover faster, yet many people don’t spend enough time foam rolling. Training hard creates trigger points and adhesions within your muscles, knotting your muscles up and making foam rolling a somewhat painful experience at times. Spending 5-10 minutes a day on a foam roller would be an absolute minimum in my eyes, and if your a college athlete, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have a foam roller in your dorm room/apartment.

Mobility/Flexibility
Thanks to Kelly Starrett of MobilityWOD, stretching and mobility can now be fun. Taking 15 minutes at night to go through some type of mobility or flexibility drills can not only help you recover from the days work, but can help you turn the ship around for the next days training session or competition. Anyone can find 15 minutes to make themselves better a day, so make it a priority. Here is one of my favorites from Kelly for opening up the hips.

Get More Sleep
It seems simple, but getting more sleep is crucial for an athlete or weekend warrior training hard. Aim for 7-8+ hours a sleep a night, and try to get to bed and wake up around the same times each day so that your body can get into some type of cycle.

sleeping

Post Workout Nutrition
An often overlooked aspect of recovery is proper nutrition after training, whether it be strength training, conditioning, or a practice/game. Getting some quality sources of carbohydrates and protein within an hour after your session will help to promote the healing and recovery process. Something as simple as a glass of chocolate milk or a protein shake mixed in fat free milk is a great, easy and effective post workout shake.

chocolate milk

Take Rest Days
We have become a culture of “more is better” which isn’t the case when it comes to strength training and conditioning. You need to take some days off and let your body rest. A rest day is a great time to spend extra time with your foam roller and working on some mobility, taking the dog for a walk, or jumping on the bike for an easy ride.

HRV Monitoring
If you really want to take your recovery to the next level, buy yourself the BioForce HRV app. Simply put, the BioForce HRV app allows you to track your recovery from day to day by taking your HRV each morning. The app will allow you to track your recovery over time and readiness every day. With the app you can take the guessing out of the equation and train when your body is ready to train and take rest days when your body needs a little break.

hrv bioforce

Incorporate one, two, three or more of these ideas into your daily schedule and watch your recovery improve and performance in the weight room or on the field increase. Take care of your body, you only have one.

Getting Into the Profession

The field of strength and conditioning is always evolving and the present time is no different. At one point in time athletes were all training on machines using H.I.T. principles to get stronger all while running long distances to improve their conditioning. There was a time when there was no such thing as a foam roller and tissue quality was a non-existent topic. Clearly, the field is constantly changing.

weight room

This happens for a couple reasons. For starters, strength and conditioning is a relatively young profession. 30 years ago most colleges and professional sports teams didn’t even have a single strength coach. Fast forward to today most all Division I colleges and professional sports teams have numerous strength coaches on staff.

As a result, there are tons of opportunities out there for strength and conditioning coaches. There are hundreds of colleges and professional sport teams in the United States, Canada, Europe, and other countries that are employing strength coaches at various levels. The military has started to employ strength coaches. The private sector is now booming, with facilities trying to mimic the success of facilities like Athletes Performance, Cressey Performance and Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning.

However, there is one major issue. Even with all these new opportunities and a booming industry, there are WAY too many applicants for not nearly enough jobs. I know of a strength coach at a major university that had over 400 applicants for an entry level assistant strength coach position – and the job was never posted, the applicants heard through word of mouth about the opening.

So what would be my advice for young strength coaches?

Start thinking outside the box.

outside the box

First, do some research on the some of the best strength coaches out there. Personally, I was lucky having Michael Boyle and his facility Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning nearby. Once you find those coaches, connect with them, intern/volunteer your time if you can and learn as much as possible.

MBSC

Second, read everything you can get your hands on. Continuing education is huge. Go to seminars and conferences and learn everything you can. But don’t stop there. Introduce yourself to every strength coach that you can. Make the seminar a learning experience and a chance to network.

Third, starting creating jobs in the situation that you are currently in. I can almost guarantee there are opportunities in your area if you are willing to seek them out.

The first places to look are at the high school/Division III level. It is becoming more and more common to see high schools/D-3 schools that have weight rooms yet no formal strength coach. Set up an interview with the Athletic Director and see if there are any opportunities to train some of the schools teams. Take it a step further and set up meetings with the sport coaches and see if you can start training some their teams. Chances are this type of job isn’t going to make you a millionaire but you’ll be in a weight room, on the floor, actually coaching athletes. Time on the floor actually coaching is always valuable experience no matter how much financial gain there is. Plus, having a lot of time off in the summer would afford you the opportunity to get out there and meet some more college strength coaches and increase your network and knowledge.

coaching

Additionally, there are jobs posted at a Division III school looking for staff in the school fitness center. Again, start thinking outside the box. Take the job and then offer to start training some of the teams on campus. Yes, you’ll probably only be making $8-10 an hour, but you are out there coaching. And the best thing about these two different opportunities is that you are the head strength coach, you design the program, and you get to learn every single day by being in the ‘trenches’.

Finally, create a niche for yourself in your current opportunity, even if you are only an intern/volunteer. Can you be the ‘return to play’ or rehab guy? Sports nutrition? GPS? HRV? FMS specialist? Massage therapy/recovery/regeneration? If you bring something to the table, something that no one else can do on staff, all of a sudden you add something that may help to create a position on staff or even someone else’s staff. Any of these niches make your application stand out in a long line of applicants.

Moral of the story is this; no matter how much complaining you here about the lack of openings compared to the amount of applicants, there are opportunities out there for young strength coaches if they are willing to be creative and create their own jobs. The high school and Division III level is still largely untapped. Get in front of groups, start coaching and do a great job – when your great at what you do people will find a way to keep you around.

RG III and Knee-Knocking

Below are a couple photos of NFL Quarterback Robert Griffin III performing a vertical jump in a Subway commercial as well as performing another vertical jump during the NFL Combine. In both of these cases, there is a clear and obvious movement dysfunction, valgus knee (knee-knocking).

RGII Subway

RGIII Combine

As most know, this valgus knee collapse is extremely important to correct due to the potential injuries that can come from this position. This valgus knee position can lead to patella-femoral (knee) pain, a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), as well as iliotibial band syndrome to name a few. Simply put, not correcting this movement dysfunction can be a potential disaster waiting to happen.

Again, look no further than RG III. As we have seen he has an ongoing movement dysfunction. Unfortunately for him and all Redskin fans, he tore his right ACL late in the 2012 season. Additionally, take a look at the photo below, where RG III clearly shows the same exact movement dysfunction that was seen in his Subway commercial and during the NFL Combine. The red flags were there before he became injured.

RGIII ACL Tear

As a coach, I am constantly cueing athletes to perform most all lower body movements with their knees out, but sometimes this verbal coaching won’t fix the issue. We will try re-setting the pattern through reactive neuromuscular training (RNT) while performing the squat pattern and other movements. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. We try to clear up any mobility restriction through soft tissue work and stretching. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. No matter the case, I am constantly on the lookout for the dysfunction and then going through progressions to fix the issue.

Gray Cook

The point of this is not to bash RG III, far from it actually, he is just a good example that most people can relate with. The point is, correcting this valgus knee collapse (or any movement dysfunction for that matter) is critical for both athletic performance and injury prevention. As a strength and conditioning coach or anyone working with athletes, it’s our responsibility to be on the lookout for any movement dysfunction that could lead to potential injuries. Sometimes we forget that our number one job is to keep athletes healthy so that they can compete.

Furthermore, it’s our responsibility to continually educate ourselves so that we can do our best to correct the potential dysfunctions. Spend the time following the work of physical therapists and strength coaches like Kelly Starrett, Gray Cook, Charlie Weingroff, Michael Boyle, Eric Cressey and many others who have done an incredible job of educating the masses. Young strength coaches and friends Brendon Rearick and Kevin Carr are doing great things with their business Movement as Medicine. There are a ton of people out there to learn from.

The bottom line is this; it’s our responsibility to keep our athletes healthy, so it’s our responsibility to search out all the information available to do so. Be on the lookout for movement dysfunctions and fix them before they become bigger issues. And most importantly, if you are stumped and can’t fix the issue, don’t be afraid to tap out and ask for help – I know I have before and will again in the future.