Midweek Reading Materal

Here are a few good reads from the last week or so to help you get over the hump. Enjoy.

Do’s and Don’ts of Coaching by Mike Robertson

More on Why We Don’t Squat by Michael Boyle

Strength Starts Here: Breath, Control and Express Badassery by Tony Gentilcore

4 Strategies to Improve Athletes’ Innate Acceleration by Lee Taft via Eric Cressey

Musical Chairs and the Perils of Being a Pro Strength Coach by Derek M. Hansen

 

MBSC Winter Seminar

This past Saturday (1/16) I spent the day at Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning for their winter seminar. Like all seminars and conferences, it is a great time to both learn from other coaches, connect with coaches, and see some other coaches that you may not have seen in a little while.

The seminar featured four speakers; Kevin Carr, Marco Sanchez, Anna Hartmann and of course Michael Boyle. Here are a few quick thoughts and takeaways from each presentation.

Kevin Carr: Managing Mobility: Practical Principles for Movement Health

Kevin’s talk was one of the talks that I was most looking forward to, he always makes me think when he speaks. Furthermore, Kevin’s work (along with Brendon Rearick and Marco Sanchez) at Movement-as-Medicine is something that I closely follow and respect.

Kevin identified five principles as it applies to movement:

  1. Pattern Competence: What do you believe in? In the case of Kevin, Movement as Medicine and MBSC, its viewing movement through the lens of the FMS and SFMA and the ability to perform basic movement patterns (goblet squat, deadlift, split squat, single leg deadlift, push up, chin up, crawling).
  2. Respiration Training: Can they breathe? Adding 90/90 or supine breathing to the program, along with using breathing during mobility as well as improving parasympathetic tone.
  3. Make the Joints Work: Can they do what they need to do? For example, can someone disassociate between the scapula and cervical spine or femur and pelvis?
  4. Fitness: Are people actually fit? Do people have general strength, aerobic fitness and lower body power?
  5. Movement Variability: Adding variability to the program (brain candy as Kevin called it) through various loading techniques.

Probably my favorite talk of the day, Kevin’s presentations confirmed some of the thoughts I already had (breathing is extremely important, aerobic fitness is crucial) and made me ponder ways of making my existing program better (adding breathing to mobility/stretching, better testing protocols for aerobic conditioning). All in all, a great talk by Kevin.

Marco Sanchez: Developing a Successful Training Brand & Programming Assessments and Interventions in Adult Populations

Marco’s presentation was broken down into two parts. The first part, Developing a Successful Training Brand, Marco spoke a lot of time management and client relationships.

Two takeaways from the time management portion; plan your day, be “scripted not reactive”, and we all need to “own the morning”.

One major takeaway from the client relationship portion; don’t be a dickhead.

Additionally, here are a couple quotes I enjoyed from this first part of the presentation;

“Find the people who are having the most success, and do what they do.” Andrew Saul, PhD

“People will continue to pay you money if you make them feel better.” Michael Boyle

“No dickheads.” from the book Legacy

In the second portion of Marco’s presentation, Programming Assessments and Interventions in Adult Populations, Marco spoke about simple assessments when training adults in group populations. Marco recommended looking at a couple assessments that will give you a quick understanding of how an adult will move; the active straight leg raise, shoulder mobility, and the toe touch. Combined this might take all of 5 minutes and you’ll have a quick assessments of where and adult is the minute they walk in the door. Simple but brilliant.

A couple quotes from this portion of his presentation;

“Assessments are in place to avoid mistakes.”

Systems are in place for long term success.”

“Do your job.”

Anna Hartman: Creating a Resilient Athlete: Assessing and Restoring Biomechanical Tune

Anna Hartman is a name that has gained a lot of steam lately and as a result was someone that I was looking forward to hearing speak. For those that don’t know, Anna is a physical therapist who recently opened her own business in Arizona called Movement REV, but previous spent time working at EXOS (formerly Athletes Performance) as the Director of Physical Therapy. Not a bad gig!

Anna spoke on Dr. Phillip Beach’s research on “recovery positions” and their implications for the athletic populations. Dr. Beach calls these recovery positions “archetypal postures of repose” which allow the body to rest and recover. The 12 positions are:

  1. Supine
  2. Prone
  3. Side Lying
  4. Neanderthal
  5. Cross-legged
  6. Half Lotus
  7. Side Sitting
  8. Long Sit
  9. Japanese Sitting
  10. Toe Sitting
  11. Drinking
  12. Full Squat

By your ability to sit in any or all of these positions comfortably, you can assess your bodies “biomechanical tune”. It is some interesting stuff that is hard to wrap your head around. My advice would be to do a little research and try some of the positions on yourself. I have been doing some at night after a long day and I seem to be recovering better from day to day. Coincidence? Placebo effect? Maybe on both accounts, but it can’t hurt to give them a try.

Michael Boyle: 25 Mistakes in 25 Years

It is always a pleasure to hear Mike speak — I always learn something that I can literally put into action the next day. Mike also makes complicated things seem simple, which certainly helps me understand concepts that I don’t know if I would have understood otherwise.

Mike spoke about mistakes that he has made over the course of his career in hopes that others will learn from his mistakes. Here are a few of the mistakes that hit home with me.

  • Thinking I Knew It All: Sometimes as coaches we think we have all the answers, but usually we don’t. Be willing to steal good ideas from other coaches. Smart people change their minds, talk less but say more, stay teachable, and always ask questions.
  • Square Pegs, Round Holes: As much as we can try to design the perfect program, there is no perfect program that is going to work for everyone. We as coaches need to be willing to lateralize off of our original program to put each athlete into the best position possible to be successful. This means we may have to ditch some of our favorite exercises with certain athletes.
  • Confusing Disagree with Dislike: I personally think this is a huge problem in our industry. If we disagree with another coach, we seem to automatically dislike them. Just because someone has a different opinion on training it doesn’t mean they are a bad person…and who knows, they may actually be correct!
  • Neglecting My Own Health: This one hit home for me as many of my goals for the new year revolve around taking better care of myself. More sleep. Less coffee. Consistent strength training. Consistent conditioning. Consistent dietary habits. Get out of the weight room when you don’t have groups/teams. It’s a marathon not a sprint.

7 Things I Plan to do Better in 2016

I’m not a huge New Year resolution guy, nor am I a huge fan of New Years eve, its kind of like amateur hour if you ask me. That being said, like most people I will look back at the past year as well as forward to the upcoming year to find some things that I did well, didn’t do well, and plan to do better. That being said, here are a few things, seven to be exact, that I plan of doing better in 2016.

Goals

Sleep More

In the past year one thing that I have done a terrible job of doing is getting ample sleep. Getting up early is the norm in our profession, it isn’t going to change, so I need to change. In the past year I probably averaged 5-6 hours a sleep a night. My goal is to get an average of 8 hours a sleep a night to simply take better care of myself. I am assuming it won’t take long before I feel better and have much more energy throughout the day, without the help of a constant caffeine drip, which I’ll touch on in just a second…

Drink Less Coffee

I love coffee as much as the next person…I could drink it all day and think nothing of it. I probably drink 3 large coffees a day. If anyone wants to go grab a coffee I am the first person to be willing to go with them.

coffee

On the other end of the spectrum, if I am busy and don’t have my typical amount of caffeine throughout the day I will get a headache by noon…it’s like clockwork. Clearly not healthy, clearly a caffeine addiction. A coffee or two a day isn’t a big deal, but being less dependent is a must.

Move & Feel Better

The older I get the more I realize how important moving well is…yet I don’t do nearly as much mobility type training as I should. I know my shoulder mobility is poor and my hip mobility is adequate at best…but I do close to nothing to make it better. Dedicating 10-15 minutes a day to moving better isn’t a huge time investment, but should make a huge difference over the course of the year.

Make More Time for my Own Training

This one is short and sweet. The last year or so I have not done a great job of taking the time to take care of myself. My training has been extremely sporadic. Four strength training sessions a week, 3 conditioning sessions a week is what I am shooting for. More specifically, focus in on Trap Bar Deadlift, Chin Ups, Split Squats and Bench Press from a strength standpoint and focus on aerobic power and aerobic capacity from a conditioning standpoint…consistent and brilliant at the basics.

Invest More In Myself Professionally

Continuing education is something that I am passionate about, whether it be from a personal or professional. I spend a great deal of time reading and listening to podcasts like Mike Boyle’s Strength Coach Podcast, Mike Robertson’s Physical Preparation Podcast, Pacey Performance Podcast, and Ron McKeefery’s Iron Game Chalk Talk.

On the other hand I have done a poor job at attending seminars/conferences and live courses. Last year I made it to the CSCCa National Conference in Nashville, but that was it. No other seminars/conferences and zero live courses.

This year my goal is to make it 4-5 conferences at a minimum. The plan is to go to the MBSC Winter Seminar (went last weekend), the CSCCa National Conference in Dallas, the NSCA Maine State Clinic, the Perform Better Summit in Providence and the BSMPG Summer Seminar…at the very least. On top of that I am hoping to attend a couple PRI courses as well as Dr. Andreo Spina’s Functional Range Conditioning course.

Enjoy the Process

Piggybacking off the previous point, not trying to learn everything at once and sitting back and trying to enjoy the process is something I could do better at. We live in a society that wants everything in the moment, the instant gratification. We can’t learn it all and we can’t spend all our waking time trying to learn it all, we need balance.

enjoy the process

The same goes professionally. We all want to do more, make more, and have more responsibility…and we want it now. The reality of the situation is that it takes time to reach the top of the mountain and have all the teams and responsibilities that you may want. Instead of worrying about these types things, sitting back, enjoying the process, adding value everyday and trying to get better everyday will eventually get you to where you want to go. Gotta enjoy the process.

Build Better Relationships with Athletes

Last but maybe the most important point on the list. Building better relationships, through simply conversations is a must. The old saying “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” rings true as a strength and conditioning coach. In order to help people achieve their goals, they have to trust that you will always have their best interests in mind, and the only way for them to put their trust in you, you need put the time into building relationships.

Interesting Thoughts From Charlie Weingroff’s ‘Making a Monster’ Talk

Over the winter break I have a little more time to sit back and catch up on some continuing education, which can sometimes be tough to keep up with during the school year. One presentation that I was looking forward to listening to again was Charlie Weingroff’s “How to Make a Monster” presentation. I’ve watched it before and found it to be a wealth of knowledge, much of which I wasn’t in a place to understand it all at the time.

Charlie Weingroff

As I was sitting listening to Charlie talk, I realized he had so many little tidbits of information that I thought was compelling that would be great to share with everyone. Additionally, if you ever get a chance to listen to Charlie present this, I highly recommend it.

  1. Breathing and segmental rolling tell the brain that everything is cool and to allow for change.
  2. The muscles and joints do totally different things when on all fours compared to standing.
  3. Joint centration is the balance of mobilizers and stabilizers acting on a joint.
  4. The vertical jump is a great indicator of sport performance.
  5. I want to do as little corrective exercise as possible.
  6. You can’t go hard all the time, sometimes you can get less with more.
  7. We have our training template in place when working with an athlete/team. All the FMS does is tell us what we shouldn’t be doing so I don’t hurt you.
  8. People can say whatever they want, but you can’t cheat your ways through the little four of the FMS.
  9. Every muscle has a stabilization and mobilization function.
  10. If someone can eat their knees on their back, they have the mobility to squat. Look elsewhere to fix the squat pattern.
  11. I could give two shits what they can lift in the weight room or their ‘Fran’ time. I only care what they do in sport.
  12. You must have a synergy between tonic and phasic muscles in order to function properly.
  13. Lactic capacity is the monster.
  14. It always goes back to the autonomic nervous system, its the ultimate governor for the body.
  15. Pain is simply the perception of threat.
  16. You aren’t getting strong standing on an unstable surface, that’s crap.
  17. I’m not that smart, I just study more.
  18. There is no way we should all be receiving the same input, the same training.
  19. You should not be training a spectrum of strength if you already have enough it.
  20. If someone does not have the needed/requisite HRV they will not be in a state to learn and get better.

Hopefully some of these quotes from Charlie spark some thought in you, I know it did for me each and every time I have listened to this presentation.

 

4 Takeaways from 2015

Its that time of the year where we have the opportunity to reflect back on the past year. If you are anything like me you’ve read some books, listen to some podcasts, and been to a couple seminars/conferences. As a result some of the thoughts I had on strength and conditioning have changed over the course of the year.

“Great teachers are first and foremost learners, who improve their skills with each passing year. “

 With all that said, here are 4 takeaways from the past year.

Do More Get Ups

There are a lot of reasons as to why I feel everyone should do more get ups, going as far as saying you should do get ups every single day. I took some advise from others and added get ups to my warm up every single day. Some days I did them loaded, some days I practiced bodyweight get ups. In both cases, I made sure to emphasize the movement and not worry about the weight. Result? I move better, much, much better, and feel better.

get up

Coaching Yourself and Coaching Someone Else Are Two Different Things

This may sound hypocritical, but I by no means would recommend everything I do in training to either athletes or the adult population I work with. As coaches, we have to always remember that people come to us for our professional advice and expertise to help them reach their specific goals.

Let’s look at me as an example. For the last year I have had left shoulder pain on and off. Sometimes it bothers me a lot, sometimes it doesn’t bother me much at all. Did that stop me from bench pressing even though it would cause pain and aggravate my shoulder every single time I benched? Nope. For about half the year I just kept on benching and walking around with a achy shoulder. By the time it would start feeling a little better it would be time to bench again. In retrospect, pretty stupid.

On the other side of the things, if an athlete or an adult client told me that bench pressing was hurting their shoulder, they wouldn’t get close to a bench press (for the record I wouldn’t bench press adults even if it was pain free but we can essentially insert any exercise we want into this example).

If you personally choose to perform an exercise that causes pain, that’s fine, but if an exercise hurts a client, they are done with that exercise for the foreseeable future. If we choose to make stupid decisions about our own training that’s one thing, but we have to make appropriate choices for the people that look to us for advice and expertise.

Do More Push Ups

I’ll keep this one short, sweet, and to the point. I think push ups have become my favorite upper body pushing exercise for all populations. I think it trumps the bench press as well as any dumbbell pressing exercise you may perform. Push ups allow for a free moving scapula and more serratus anterior development. They have a core component that can’t be duplicated with traditional bench pressing. And this doesn’t necessarily make push ups better then other pressing movements, but it is amazing how many people, both males and females, can’t perform a proper bodyweight push up.

push up

For more take a look at Eric Cressey’s website, he’s been banging this drum for a long time.

An Aerobic Base is More Important then we Realized

Joel Jamieson has been banging the aerobic drums loudly for the last few years. On the other hand, the fitness industry has been banging the anaerobic drums for as long as I can remember — and Joel has been correct in a lot of ways.

An aerobic base will improve an athlete (or anyone for that matter) in a lot of ways. An aerobic base will increase the size of the left ventricle which leads to an increase in stroke volume, increased cardiac output, decrease resting heart rate, decrease sub-maximal heart rates at a given absolute intensity, and reduce the heart rate recovery period. Additionally, aerobic exercise increases parasympathetic activity, leading to better recovery.

Long story short, an aerobic base will allow the heart to work more efficiently and effective at all intensities and allow you to be more efficient in times of high intensity conditioning and/or competition. All athletes will benefit from an increase in their aerobic base. Fatigue changes everything. We know when athletes aren’t conditioned well they are at a higher risk of injury in the later portions of their competition. A fit athlete is able to perform greater amounts of high quality work when compared to a less fit athlete. Build an aerobic base.