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1. Hey Joel! Thank you very much for agreeing to conduct this interview. Please inform my readers of your background and list some of the fighters you’ve trained.

No problem Bret, thanks for having me on your site! My background in strength and conditioning first began back in the late 90’s when I started interning under a strength coach named Bill Gillespie at the University of Washington. My focus back in those days was really on the strength and power side of things as those were mostly the kind of athletes with whom I worked. I later spent some time working with the Seattle Seahawks and then opened my own training facility in 2003.

Not long after I opened my gym, I was approached by an MMA coach, Matt Hume of AMC Pankration, and he asked me to start putting together programs for his fighters. Little did I know it at the time, but Matt was one of the very best MMA coaches in the world and was the official trainer for PrideFC, so he had a steady stream of world class fighters coming through his gym.

This was back in early 2004 and Matt and I have been working together to train fighters ever since. I’ve worked with a wide range of fighters from the U.S. and all over the world really. I’ve trained guys like Rich Franklin, Chris Leben, Spencer Fisher, Jens Pulver, Hayato Sakurai, Matt Brown, Ben Rothwell, KJ Noons, Akira Shoji, Tatsuya Mizuno, Robbie Lawler, Josh Barnett, Maurice Smith, Jorge Gurgle, Niko Vitale, and quite a few more.

Working with all these guys, sometimes traveling all over the world with them and being in their corner for big fights, has been a great experience. When I first started working with MMA athletes, I never would have guessed just how big the sport would one day become.

2. Wow, that’s impressive. Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Should every fighter follow the same strength & conditioning program or should each program be individualized based on the athlete’s strengths and weaknesses?

I truly believe one of the biggest problems in strength and conditioning for MMA right now is that a lot of fighters tend to read about or watch a video of their favorite fighter training and believe they need to be doing the same things. Whether it’s doing endless circuit training, Tabata intervals, CrossFit, or some other such thing, fighters tend to follow one another or what “Fighter X” is supposedly doing, rather than learning how to put together an individualized program.

The reality is that this generic one size fits all approach will only get anyone so far. In order to keep progressing physically, i.e. becoming more explosive and better conditioned, a fighter needs to learn how to evaluate his or her individual strengths, weaknesses, and limitations and then create a program that will address these things.

It’s really the same thing as their MMA training. If they want to be a well rounded fighter, they need a good coach to evaluate their skill set and determine where they are good, whether it’s stand up, wrestling, submissions, etc. and where they are not so good. Then they can focus their training on improving their weak areas while continuing to improve their strengths. Guys who don’t do this end up being one dimensional and once someone figures out how to beat them, they are in big trouble, because everyone can see the holes in their game.

3. What are the functional qualities that you assess and seek to improve through your training?

Because MMA is such a dynamic sport that requires such a diverse set of skills, it’s important to have a very well rounded level of overall athletic ability. Any glaring weaknesses and you’re going to have holes that can be exploited by an opponent whose strengths happen to match up against your weaknesses.
Because of this, I evaluate a very wide range of abilities from explosive power to muscular endurance to joint mobility and everything in between. The single most important quality, really, is power-endurance. This means that a fighter not only must have good explosive power, he must have the endurance necessary to maintain this power throughout an entire fight, which might be as long as 25 minutes.

Anyone who has ever tried wrestling or boxing for even just a few minutes can appreciate how physically grueling trying to fight for this long can be. The real key is developing the right balance. There are plenty of fighters that are explosive and very strong, but they can’t maintain their strength and power into the later rounds and they tend to gas if they don’t finish the fight early. There are also those that can fight all day, but they lack the power to finish fights when they have the opportunity.

In my training, my primary goal is to make sure that not only do my fighters have the explosive power they need to capitalize on their opponents’ mistakes and finish the fight when they have the chance, but also the endurance necessary to be able to do this throughout the entire fight. This is the real challenge of strength and conditioning for the sport of MMA and any combat sport really.

4. Most people don’t realize how much strength plays a role in the other various qualities. I’ve heard plenty of MMA trainers and fighters say that strength isn’t important in MMA. Please tell us why strength IS important.

In the early days of the sport, you saw a lot of guys who were physically weak able to win against much bigger and stronger fighters simply because there was such a disparity in skill levels. Back then, ground guys had no clue how to fight standing up, strikers had no wrestling or takedown defense, wrestlers had no submissions, etc.

As the sport has evolved and skill sets have become more diverse and well rounded, no longer can guys afford to be lacking in any physical area, and this definitely includes strength. In the wrestling and grappling areas of the game, having a good level of maximum strength is necessary because you’re working against an opponent as the resistance, which can be a considerable amount of weight.

If your strength is poor, you will have a very hard time getting and/or defending takedowns and positions and your opponent can control you and dictate where the fight goes. This is obviously a big disadvantage because your opponent can take the fight to wherever he is best and exploit any weaknesses you have.

For the striking aspects of the sport, being very explosive and fast is absolutely essential and this requires a high level of explosive strength, or rate of force development. Without this type of strength, you will lack the ability to finish fights and you may be slower and easily beaten to the punch by a faster fighter with greater explosive strength. Fights can be decided by fractions of a second and inches and lacking explosive strength can not only cost you the fight, it can get you knocked out.

Finally, strength-endurance is obviously an integral physical ability to performance in the sport as well because as the fight wears on, the fighter who can maintain their strength the best is going to have the advantage. Plenty of fighters are strong in the first round, but many fights are decided in the later rounds and this is where the ability to maintain your strength can be the key to getting the win.

This all means that as a whole, strength – defined as the ability to produce force – is absolutely essential to a performance in MMA. To be successful, a fighter must possess a high level in all the different types of strength, from how much strength they can produce at once (max strength) to how fast they can produce their strength (explosive strength) to how long they can maintain it for (strength endurance).

A fighter that is seriously lacking in any of these areas is leaving themselves wide open against an opponent who may not be. Gone are the days where you could use your skills to get away with having poor max strength or being slow. To be successful in the sport now in and in the future requires a great deal of strength in all aspects of performance.

5. What are your ten favorite strength/power exercises for MMA?

Well, for maximum transfer into the skills of the sport, it’s very important to develop explosive power using exercises where the force produced by the same working muscles and in the same direction as they are in the skills of MMA. This generally means force needs to be developed horizontally rather than vertically and this occurs through hip extension and/or rotation.

I see a lot of guys using exercises like power cleans or Olympic lifts, which are good movements by themselves, but all the force in these types of exercises is produced vertically and doesn’t transfer as well. I prefer to use ballistic type exercises where the force is produced horizontally such as explosive throws, bounding, jumping forward squats, sled hip extensions, resisted band shots, etc. These do a much better job of improving explosiveness in a way that will transfer into the skills of the sport.

A lot of these exercises are difficult to describe, but they will all be covered in my upcoming DVD on explosive power for combat sports (www.combatsportspower.com). The most important thing is to select exercises that use the same muscles, through the same ranges of motion and produce force in the same direction as MMA.

For just general strength development, I will use the basic core lifts such as squats, rows, pull-ups, bench, deadlifts, etc. I tend to use more general strength exercises like these when trying to improve max strength and then shift into much more specific exercises when the goal is improving explosive power.

6. How do you look at the “conditioning” side of training and what specific types of conditioning do you do? (note: Joel will be expounding on cardiac adaptations to training in a guest blog in a few weeks)

It took writing an entire book for me to adequately answer this question, but let me try to give you the short answer. First, I don’t consider strength and conditioning to be separate qualities, but rather as two interconnected pieces of the puzzle that makes up energy production. My definition of conditioning, therefore, is the ability of an athlete to meet the energy production demands of their sport such that they are able to use their skills effectively throughout the competition.

Really, it all comes back to understanding that the human body was designed to be able to produce power at incredibly high levels for very brief periods of time, fairly moderate levels of power for very long periods of time, or alternating levels of high and lower levels of power for a moderate amount of time. If we look any given sport, the energy demands fall somewhere within this spectrum.

For example, we see massive power production for brief instants in sports such as in Weightlifting, sprinting, field events like shot put, discus, javelin, high jump, etc. On the other end of the spectrum, we see sports that require tremendous endurance at much lower levels of power such as the endurance sports of marathon running, triathlons cross country skiing, cycling, ironman events, etc.

Most team sports, as well as pretty much all combat sports, fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes and require alternating periods of high and lower power for varying durations. Because there is ultimately a trade off that occurs between maximum power and the ability to maintain it, the duration and work to rest periods of the event dictates where this balance between power and endurance falls.

For combat sports, the fights typically are spread over 3-5 minute rounds with 60 second breaks and there are generally 3-5 rounds in a given fight. This can vary of course, but this is generally the range most of the combat sports will fall under.

In my many years of testing and evaluating high level fighters, I can tell you that to successfully meet the energy demands of this type of event, an athlete must have the right balance between aerobic and anaerobic systems. This is the real key to conditioning, as well as performance in general, in my opinion.
When a fighter has too much development on one side or the other of this equation, they are asking for problems. A fighter with a great deal of anaerobic development and poor aerobic fitness, for example, will not be able to use his anaerobic power for very long because the aerobic side won’t be there to handle the fatigue inducing byproducts of anaerobic metabolism and the fighter will gas.

A fighter with great aerobic development but low levels of anaerobic development, on the other hand, may not fatigue to nearly the same level throughout a fight, but they will likely have poor explosiveness and strength and may get overpowered by a stronger opponent.

Because of all this, the way I approach a fighters conditioning, and their training in general, is to carefully assess how their body currently produces energy, both aerobically and anaerobically, in order to determine where their levels of aerobic and anaerobic fitness are compared to where they should be. I then choose the most appropriate methods to develop whichever systems need development in order to make sure they have the correct balance of energy production. The real key is accurately understanding the needs of a fighter and how all of the system’s of the body work together to create energy.

The result is that the type of specific conditioning I do is very individual to a given fighter. Each program is designed around the exact physiological needs of that fighter and these needs may vary dramatically from one fighter to the next. I get into detail on 20 methods that I use, exactly how I use them, and which systems they affect in my book, Ultimate MMA Conditioning, so anyone who would like more detail on how I put all this together would be best served by taking a look there.

7. One aspect of training that I’m most interested in is the final week of training preceding the fight. What gets ramped up, what stays the same, and what gets tapered to ensure the optimal summation of fitness and fatigue come competition-time?

MMA is a particularly challenging sport in the regard of peaking for a fight because the final week before a fight typically involves a lot of travel, making weight, media appearances, etc. In the big shows, there are a lot of demands placed on a fighter’s time and they are already under a great deal of stress.
When you add in the fact that often times they may have to travel to the other side of the country, or even other side of the world, and deal with jet lag and lack of sleep, everyone asking them for tickets and autographs, etc., it can make for a very hectic and stressful schedule to say the least!

In this final week, the goal is to keep the fighter as relaxed as possible while maintaining their fitness and minimizing their fatigue, all under the context of having to drop weight before Friday weigh-ins. There is a lot of thought that goes into this, but really the most important aspect is that their training program was managed properly leading up to this point.

If they come into this week overworked or overtrained, the added stress and weight cut is only going to make things worse. If they aren’t in shape by this point, well, there’s also not much you’re going to be able to do in this last week to change that.

Really, the only way to make sure the last week goes as smoothly as possible and the fighter peaks at the right time is to have everything in order and a well managed training camp going into it. As a team, Matt and I try to minimize the fighter’s distractions, ensure their weight cut goes the way that it should and they are eating the right foods, and maintain the right level of activity necessary to keep their fitness high while reducing fatigue.

To be honest, it’s a very large juggling act and it takes a lot of time and experience to learn how to do it properly. I am very fortunate in that I’ve been able to learn how Matt handles all this as he’s been training and preparing fighters at the highest levels for more than 20 years.

My main job as the strength and conditioning coach is to prepare the fighter correctly in the weeks leading up to that point so that in this final week everything comes together. If I did my job correctly, the fighter will not have to drop much to make weight, they will be very well conditioned and not overtrained, and they will have the mental confidence of knowing they are physically ready. This is the key to making sure the final week leading up to the fight goes smoothly and the fighter steps into the ring or cage knowing they are ready to go.

8. Wow! Great interview Joel. I appreciate you taking the time to do this. Where can my readers find out more information about you?

No problem, hopefully I provided some insight for your readers into what goes into training combat athletes and my approach to getting them ready for competition. It’s been 7 years of trial, error, and experience on my part to get it right, and I’m still learning.

I think there are very few sports out there that require such a diverse skill set along with tremendous physical abilities necessary to use them. You can have the greatest technical striking in the world, but if you don’t have the explosive power and endurance to use these skills, they won’t do you much good. Likewise, all the power and endurance you could ever want won’t do much for you if you have poor technique and/or strategy to begin with.

These challenging requirements, combined with the razor thin margin for error in the sport, where inches and fractions of a second can be the difference between having your hand raised in victory and getting knocked out, are why the sport is so exciting to watch and why it has exploded so fast in recent years.

The best way for your readers to find out more is to visit my own website www.8weeksout.com and register for free access to my articles, videos, and training tips. They can also check out my new site, www.combatsportspower.com where I’m getting ready to launch my new DVD on Explosive Power for Combat Sports very soon.

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Interview With Jurdan Mendigutxia

On yesterday’s blogpost, I provided a link to the best hamstring article I’ve ever read in any journal. The journal article was written by Jurdan Mendigutxia and Matt Brughelli. I was so impressed with the study that I tracked down Jurdan and asked him to conduct an interview. I had to translate a little bit for Jurdan as his English isn’t his strongpoint. Here’s the interview:

1. Hey Jurdan, please introduce yourself to the readers. Where were you born, where do you live, what are your educational and professional backgrounds, and what is your current occupation?

Hello readers! My name is Jurdan Mendigutxia. I’m a 32 year-old Sport Physical Therapist born in Pamplona (Spain), which is next door to where Ernest Hemingway wrote his famous book “Fiesta”. He spent good time here and all the readers are invited to visit us and run ahead the bulls around the streets to improve the quality of their S&C program! I was a soccer player and played a few times for the U18 and U19 Spanish National Team. After University I worked for the Research and Studies in Sports Medicine Center in my city where we give assistance to top level athletes for 6 years. In between I took time to visit in my opinion some of the best scientifically places in the world. PT is my passion and I want to see in action the best. I spent months in the Oslo Sport Trauma Research Center in Oslo, the only place in the world created for prevention issues in sport. Two years later I was with the ACL King, Tim Hewett and his “family “( Kevin Ford, Greg Myer, Jensen Brent) in Cincinnati, who have more than 200 papers published, just learning how a scientific guy has to work and learning all about ACL injury prediction, prevention and rehab. This could be the place that has made me most impact on me because of the scientific nature of their methods.

Just because it was so close I took the opportunity to visit “Spine King” Stuart McGill spent some time with him in Waterloo. Stu always has great ideas. Finally, I had very good luck in my life to meet Matt Brughelli. We have many professional things in common (our passion for the hamstrings!) and a very good relationship. We’ve done some research together and are always discussing new ideas. There are never bad times to discuss our views and many nights have been spent in front of the PC trying to explain mine new ideas or understand his new ideas. My main interest area is prevention of sports injuries . Actually, after being a consultant in terms of prevention and rehab to different professional soccer teams and head of rehab and prevention for Athletic Club Bilbao professional soccer team, I built my own facility called Zentrum. I rehab professional athletes and see difficult cases and still act as a consultant for different professional teams.

I’ll let you in on a secret Bret but don’t get jealous: Some people joking call me “The Ham Guy!” Haha! (Editor’s note: Now we just need an “Adductor Magnus Guy” and we’ll have the primary hip extensors covered!)

2. Jurdan, you know an awful lot about the hamstrings. Tell us some things we don’t know about the hamstring musculature.

I will tell you the latest findings that for me are interesting:

1. Recent research (in press) shows that during sprinting where injury mostly occurs, hams is a more powerful hip extensor (greater than knee flexor) during swing phase than in the stance phase, where the GM is more powerful. This agrees with its moment arms and confirms older biomechanics studies ( Novacheck TF 1998). This means that we might need more than one approach to attack the prevention and/or rehab and confirm that as Novacheck TF shows moments arm at the hip for the hams are double than at the knee. In other words, the hamstrings are twice as powerful as hip extensors than knee flexors during swing phase.

2. The semitendinosus muscle is the unique hamstring muscle that has architectural partitions (Kubota et al 2007). It has an intersectional tendon that divides the ST in proximal and distal portions and it’s been shown that exercise can activate more one or the other. The clinical meaning for me and an idea that I am focused on is that because proximal and distal hams injuries exist maybe we need to categorize and target our exercises for prevention and rehab as proximals and distals. We need to know not only which muscle we want to target but also the location within the muscle! Looking at this, ask yourself if it is enough to do a single exercise to prevent hams injuries? I think not.

3. More related to muscle physiology, the importance of the elastic series component giant protein TITIN during lengthening (binding with actin) contractions and its different adaptations to resistance training has been highlighted. This could be the future to understanding muscle mechanics and injury prevention. To introduce you in this concept here is some basic stuff about it (see Lindstedt S et al. 2001 - that is free).( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11719600)

3. How can we reduce the incidents of hamstring injuries in sports?

Good question! Even though many people think that they have the recipe, looking at the evidence is not easy. In the last decade we’ve seen an explosion of eccentric exercise. This was used for prevent muscle injuries and tendinopathies, but recently a systematic review by prestigious Cochrane database conducted by Goldman and Jones shows that there is no evidence to support that the notion that hams injuries are prevented through eccentric training and that popular hamstring strengthening protocols have contradictory findings with one small study showing benefits and decreasing injuries and 2 bigger studies showing the opposite. This interesting finding was compromised by poor methodology and the use of only one exercise, the Nordic Hamstring exercise, that works the knee flexors eccentrically but with a fixed hip. But, didn’t we say above that the hip extension moment arm was double than the moment arm at the knee? This could be a reason but undoubtedly better studies are needed.

Moreover, if you analyze in soccer the number of hams injuries 28 years ago, you’ll see that they are equal to current data in epidemiological studies. A very nice study conducted by Ekstrand J et al. 2010 analyzing hams injuries in the most prestigious Europe soccer teams (27) and with a follow up of 8 years doesn’t find any hams injury reduction. Well guys, don’t you think that is time for reflection? The hams injuries remains equal!! Looking to scientific evidence literature I find 2 major flaws: first is that almost no single study meets the criteria needed in a prospective study designed to find injury related risk factors. More than 200 subjects and 20 -50 injuries are needed to achieve statistical power. Second and more important is that currently research studies isolate risk factors. In my opinion isolating static variables can’t give you the real picture. You can’t reduce the part and retain the meaning of the whole!! Force, mobility and stability are all interconnected around the body! I think that this could be one of the reasons why hams injuries don’t decrease. We need to assess each individual and address the weaknesses. I promise you that in my career I tested isokinetically hundreds of pro players at the lab and there is no correlation with injuries. This is the reason why I hate general recipes. Each individual is an individual case and remember that hams injuries are multifactorial!

4. Tell us how the gluteus maximus and hamstring musculature can work together to increase pelvic stiffness and how this effects force and mobility.

Just looking for the literature you can observe that both gluteus and hams are connected to the pelvis via sacroutuberous ligaments and both have been shown to participate in SIJ force closure (preventing forward rotation of the sacrum) and therefore affect its stiffness and stability (see Pool Gouzdwaard et al. 1998, Vleeming 1989). So in addition to participating in hip extension and knee flexion the glutes and hams have to stabilize the SIJ. How much force is used for each action and how weakness of hams or gluteus can affect each other is unknown as of yet but it could be a nice research area. For example Cibulka MT et al. 1986 has shown an increase in hams force after SIJ mobilization in people with anterior pelvic tilt and speculated that this could increase hams length and compromise strength.

5. Last question, do you feel that the field of Physical Therapy could stand to be more evidence-based?

Of course! I would like to tell you one thing. When in University I started working in the research center and I was very surprised and frustrated during the first few weeks. There, the strength coaches control and measure many variables like power, RFD…etc, physiologist control the progression of the athletes objectively, the nurses measure everything…and I ask myself: “What are we the Physical Therapists supposed to measure and control objectively?” This is one of my headaches! I need to do things that are evidence based in the literature and know the “why” and need to measure my own processes. How can a professional athlete return to sport without measuring anything? We can’t learn anything if he get injured again. Of course we can observe that sometimes a measure is not valid but at least we know now that this measure could not be valid. If we record and measure systematically we can obtain feedback from our process and improve our system. For example, you can see my last article at Physical Therapist in sport that a hams algorithm rehab is scientifically fundamental. It was only one year ago that I made these changes but this makes my system much better!!

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Today’s post is an interview with Aaron Schwenzfeier. Aaron is a really smart guy who calls it how he sees it. I really like guys like Aaron because we need people like him to serve as “bullshit detectors” in the industry. Aaron has a ton of experience and knows what works and what doesn’t. Enjoy the interview.

1. Please introduce yourself to the readers. Include how you got started in the profession, education, credentials, experience, etc.

Thanks Bret for allowing me the opportunity to do this interview with the one and only. I first got interested way back when, as a young farm kid from a small town training for athletics (mostly football). Reading and hearing about guys like Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, Roger Craig, Eddie George, Cris Carter, Gregg Lloyd and the likes were my early motivations (I would by sport magazines and scour every article, just for that one tidbit of training information, sometimes just a sentence in a five page article); plus of course reading every bodybuilding magazine under the sun, but especially “Muscle and Fitness” (particularly the annual M&F Strength Team which I believe is still rolling), “Men’s Health”, Bill Phillips’ “Muscle Media” (after Muscle Media 2000), and “Muscular Development” when it was owned by Twinlab before it was sold and became hardcore bodybuilding magazine. I especially remember important article from Muscular Development in which motor unit recruitment was highlighted; this was hugely enlightening for someone like me as a young high school athlete (about 10th grade).

From Muscle Media, I really liked Charles Poliquin’s column in and an article featured in that magazine titled something like “The Running Man” highlighting highlighting Terrell Davis, and the Broncos when they were kicking ass. I also believe guys like Charles Staley, Pavel Tsautsoline, Mauro Di Pasquale did some writing for the magazine.

From there I had the opportunity to play college football and be a part of a very solid strength and conditioning program, learning through immersion. I also had a great opportunity in gaining a degree in physical education from some pretty good professors. After college my first real coaching experience was coordinating a high school strength and conditioning program and coaching football which lasted over 2 years (probably still one of my more cherished experiences). I was very raw (still am) but I had decent knowledge from my college experience and education, and my training obsession growing up that I figured a few things out. It was a great experience as the high school kids brought energy and enthusiasm, and we got strong and in shape.

From there, my wife got a new job and we moved. Hey, she was making more money (still is) and I would have been left out on the streets. So from there I used my undergraduate degree picking up some substitute teaching, refereeing some football (yeah I wore the stripes), and also began doing some personal training on the side. Slowly the personal training grew and was enough for me to quit the other part-time jobs and was able to start a small personal training business. Personal training was a great experience as it exposed me to a multitude of challenges and really brought to light some of the glaring issues we have with health and fitness in our society right now. Along with personal training I was also fortunate to meet a bright guy who has been one of my mentors in coaching, Greg Lanners. Greg’s an extremely smart guy, who has basically done it all with years of coaching experience in strength and conditioning and football, of 7 years at the Division I level to many more at the high school level, and with the general population. Greg got me involved in working with youth athletes in hockey and teaching at a technical college in a health and fitness program, during the time I was personal training.

After that, I had the opportunity to come back to my alma mater, the University of North Dakota, and work as an assistant strength and conditioning coach, where I’ve been since. Here I work with athletes in swimming and diving, track and field, soccer, and football. I also have been fortunate enough to have some teaching responsibilities within the physical education/exercise science department, a lecture class and strength training application class, both of which I enjoy thoroughly.

As far as certifications; CSCS, FMS, Z-Health Level I & II, and CSCCa (Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association).

2. Okay now let’s get down to the nitty gritty. I’m noticing a trend in the industry where some trainers and coaches seem to be acting a lot more like physical therapists these days. Is this a good thing? Are we getting bored and chasing dead ends? Are we starting to lose focus of “what works?” Are strength coaches mixing roles or overstepping their bounds?

I think we are noticing a trend of those with a media ‘presence’. I don’t think this is the case the world over, but here in the Western world, we like our media and our media (specifically the internet) does definitely seem to be going this direction.

My fear is that it has become a “can you top this?” as far as information goes. Who can rehash the best, most ‘scientific’ information immediately becomes the expert. Then when all a person reads is rehabilitation material, they become hypnotized to only see things through that type of lens; reading about dysfunction begins to make you see dysfunction. I wrote a blog post about this a while back.

Is it a good thing? Not sure. We could argue yes and no. I am not totally sure what it is, but I think there is getting to be a bit of a problem. I mean, heck, if there is such a need for coaches to become therapists, then maybe we should take a different approach. If people are really this messed up, that we need all these little rehab exercises that may work for the extremely sedentary, maybe we need to pin-point some causes and look for more sweeping solutions. And to speak of causes… that’s another thing; as we as coaches and trainers have liked to criticize out-dated doctors, trainers, and therapists for looking at the site of pain and not assessing what’s going on up or down the kinetic chain for the “cause”. Basically us ‘in the know’ don’t look at the symptom, but are looking for the cause. Well my concern is that looking at the hip or ankle with someone who has a knee issue is still looking at the symptom. Taken further, looking at the entire body, is still pretty much looking at a symptom. We need to keep ‘zooming out’ from our microscopes and start to look at the environment that surrounds the individual; their social situation, the culture, and the ecology. The state of our society’s current human is a product of the environment. Maybe our efforts at addressing causes might do better to work at changing our physical culture in the country as a whole or even within our small circles in which we work; finding solutions that might put the person in a better ‘position’ to not jack-up their knees, backs, bodies, minds to begin with… To me, all the rehab is like pissing into the wind if we aren’t assessing the entire situation people are living in, minute-to-minute, day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, and on.

My wife is an occupational therapist and she is big on the day-to-day stuff that effects the clients/patients she sees, so I get some insight from her as to how she approaches things in her work. I also enjoy studying the paleontology/anthropology/biology side of things; looking at origins and commonalities across life as we know it. This gives one some good insight into how things maybe came to be and possible, necessary solutions to many of our predicaments, whether they are really feasible or not.

Don’t get me wrong as I am all for the details of things, but holy cow, we have a major crisis on our hands in the U.S. with regards to health and I don’t think coaches playing as therapists is going to do a darn thing. We already have people trained as therapists, let’s educate and find more/better ways to just get people moving. Again, I am not saying understanding the therapists information is a bad thing, quite the contrary, but what’s the real pressing issue? I’ve blogged about this in the past, but if we as coaches, really care about developing great athletes, it’s got to start with educating parents and targeting youth and making a huge emphasis in this country and culture on quality physical education. This also goes as far as improving a wide range of qualities that are not just physical.

That’s just my little humanitarian rant… a little off on a tangent of the original question but…

3. As a collegiate strength coach, do you see any incongruence with how the players are moving on the field, what their needs seem to be, and how the strength training industry is going about training these players?

Everything can’t and shouldn’t be done in the weightroom, because the weightroom is such a small part of the process. For what we do, the weightroom is accessory work; cleans, squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, push-ups, lunging… but it’s the field/court where the real “core” of the work is done; sprinting and running come first which sadly seems to becoming a lost skill, plyometrics such as bounds forward/lateral, all the different skips, jumps (1, 2 feet), agility training with different cuts (speed/power/spin) working on deceleration and reacceleration, backpedalling, rolling, crawling, shuffling, all the basic stuff… moving athletically! Athletes complain about torso soreness after some of these days; should we be spending lots of time on direct torso work? Some cases may warrant it (no absolutes), but most not. The last problem we need is groin, hamstring, or quad pulls in pre-season because of lack of specific fitness in the athletic environment, my feeling is that most of the “corrective” exercise should come in the form of on field/court stuff; teaching running mechanics, posture, foot contacts and drill this stuff over and over. This way you can coordinate more natural, specific movement. Because a little activation, prehab, and isolated movements in the weightroom I don’t think necessarily carries-over to the field, ice, court, pool. My main concern is that I am teaching the athletes how to better ‘own’ their body; teaching movement, teaching necessary feel or lack there-of, through ambulation of all forms. Time spent moving fast, slow, low, high, forward, backward, sideways, rotating, all the things that we would wish young children to do on a consistent basis. We work on refining this athletic movement and just keep practicing; continuing to develop the coordination of great athletes. There gets to be so much concern of static positions, but how well one coordinates it is the real key. Take someone who presents a little knee valgus; sure we can do all the weightroom corrective stuff with the foot/hip/core, but I’ve seen female athletes that may present some things in static weightroom movements (structural mostly), but I have little concern over them because they can coordinate it well in sport movements. Maybe I should be more concerned, but if they’ve developed their abilities and have been consistent with their moving, then they probably ‘own’ there postures. It’s never black and white with regards to posture and movement, most of it is gray and it’s knowing the difference that’s important.

It’s just so important to train athletically to be athletic. It seems that many are into doing slow, static exercises in which they are supposedly trying to activate certain movement and breathing patterns, muscle ‘firing’; lying on the floor, or doing exercises like chops and lifts. What happens if we don’t do those exercises in training, but do everything else (O-lift, squat, deadlift, lunge, push and pull, sprint, change direction, jump) really well? Will there be a difference? Or can we not get athletes to do the basics well, without reverting them back to the crawling patterns that they did as babies? I keep asking myself, what’s the right answer here?

So much of what all the experts talk about is based around the weightroom or rehab/prehab exercises. I would love for some experts to come stand on the sidelines of a DI football game and see what we, as coaches and players see (or feel for that matter). Are the PNF patterns of some cable exercise really what’s necessary? I understand there are different demands for different sports but doesn’t getting really strong, powerful, fit, and fast work anymore?

In my case we are limited on time and there are competition dates looming. What really should we be focused on? Many will say you can plug these small exercises into the warm-up or post-workout. Sure, but does that even do anything, at that low of a volume? My understanding of biological adaptation is that it’s either high volume or high intensity, or a combination of both that causes serious changes. Would this ten minutes that it takes, be better spent on nutrition education? Or how about 10 minutes of reading a good sports psychology book? Or even better yet, 10 minutes more of dynamic movement on one’s feet.

Athletes simply need more time spent in their bodies, being challenged by difficult, high speed ground based tasks. The coordinated athlete is going to have the compliance to take the big hit or more importantly the athleticism to react and adjust to what’s occurring in the action of play. I am not talking in absolutes for sure, as there is a time and place for the remedial work, but it’s my same fear of all focus on minute details that came from, again, a therapy book, and nothing on the entire painting itself… And some athletes may not have the time to wait to “clear” a screen (maybe I’m just not that good with the “corrections”); the season’s fast approaching, we have battles to choose and fight, but we want to ‘win the war’. We must do our best, do what we can with the little things, but make sure we nail the big things. We can say health is the most important thing (and it usually is) but if these kids are competing in athletics… well… that’s not always a ‘healthy’ endeavor. Everything is on grades or levels, just as we may argue that eating Skittles is bad for our health in one domain, but may just be enough to keep a starving person alive in another.

A huge area of emphasis for me is athlete conditioning and basic general fitness. Being in great overall shape, but especially having powerful cardiovascular ability I think is hugely important. I think it’s a reflection of our society and culture, and the fact that many of our athletes come directly out of that society and culture. It is ignorant to not think that our standard of general fitness has dropped collectively. The recent research says that something like 50+ million Americans are now considered sedentary and something like 70% of Americans fall into the category of being overweight or obese. Sure this is probably based on the bad reference of Body Mass Index, but when I look around I can visually see the problem, and many of our other disease related statistics, ironically, correlate with the sedentary and obesity statistics. This alarms me drastically, because, of those folks that fall into the sedentary and obese categories, most of them think walking a flight of stairs is a high intensity workout. What does this do to our collective perception, as a country, of what it means to exercise or be active? If the entire team thinks doing 2 conditioning shuttles is extremely hard work and I personally do 1 more, does that make me exceptionally better? Compared to what? The de-conditioned team? This stuff again goes beyond the physical. Combined with the hyper-parenting culture, the media’s hype of danger, our aversion or lack of exposure to nature and physical frailty, we a quickly becoming a “Nation of Wimps” (stolen from the title of Hara Estroff Marano’s important book). You have no further to look than the law enforcement or military standards. These have continually dropped since World War II… but I suppose if everybody else sucks that much, then I guess we don’t need awesomely fit personnel protecting and serving; Chief Wiggum should be able to get the job done. But that is another tangent that I don’t have a sure solution for so I’ll quit there.

Conditioning isn’t real fun and most definitely isn’t one of the more ‘sexy’ topics, but it is vital. I am not necessarily just talking just sport-specific conditioning which is usually the anaerobic type, but also aerobic capacity. Again drawing from biology and paleoanthropology, most scientists in those fields will agree that humans evolved on covering some 10-12 miles per day in mostly an aerobic state; our physiology is built for aerobic activity and when you start to take away what’s natural to us, things start to not function quite right. Just maybe the old-school coaches who advocated building an aerobic base first, weren’t that far off. I am not advocating “slogging” miles upon miles, but a longer run/walk once or twice per week might do well for a lot of athletes. There are many benefits to this, which I am not going to discuss here, and there are many creative ways to attack this without just using running, but I do think it’s important for athletes to have some aerobic capacity, because we are in an environment that is extremely lacking in the necessity to get aerobic activity. A big challenge here is time because volume is important for this type of stress.

Plus, conditioning both generally and specifically is huge towards injury prevention. We can talk about quality movement (whatever exactly that is???) all we want, but if an athlete struggles to get through a warm-up, we have bigger issues on our hands. De-conditioning is a red flag, which makes the athlete a liability to themselves and their teammates. It’s my feeling that athletes should not be allowed to play/practice until a certain level of conditioning is met… ahem… Mr. Haynesworth. Whatever this standard might be should be determined by the training staff and coaches. I don’t see this followed by all coaches, but it’s something I am working on.

4. How do you screen/assess players, and how to you go about fixing any problems that pop up?

I am going to take this a different route, as screening/assessing never stops, and I have nothing novel to share in this area. How do I fix problems that pop up? I assess the situation, try some different solutions whether it be coaching cues or specific drills to enhance awareness, whatever it takes to remedy the situation or just completely outsource the problem to someone more qualified.

However to continue on that different route, the assessment of the player is also a player/coach dynamic in which as a coach I need to get to know the athletes on a more intimate level. What’s their personality type? How does it fit within the team dynamics? How does it mesh with the vision of the team? I hate to say it but in some situations we have to take the ‘sense of entitlement’ (maybe work them to into the ground early) out of the athlete real early, just so we can get the effort and focus for training down the road. It’s not simply a matter of that we get a body and it (in material sense) is ready for us to train. We are looking at multiple different personalities and life backgrounds which have dramatically shaped character. I know John Wooden was big on saying that sports can’t build character but they reveal it, and I know this to be very true and maybe even more revealed in training where athletes are daily asked to get out of their comfort zone… way out of their comfort zone. But at this time of revealed character, I think there is time for lessons that I think can help to reshape character that fits better to with what we are all trying to accomplish, if that makes any sense?

Many coaches are adamantly against the idea of developing “mental toughness” through working athletes to the bone, and most times fall in to this camp… but there are times when I feel there is opportunity in really ‘driving’ athletes to their breaking points. I think it needs to be skillfully and artistically managed through types of bodyweight drills that present extreme discomfort but are relatively safe. It’s at this point of doing team drills in states of extreme discomfort though, that I think the situation needs to be handled with care; the message of why we are doing what we are doing is continually ‘hammered’ and the vision of the team needs to be emphasized. It’s not a matter of the coach screaming negative words into the athletes’ ears of who are nearly drowning in their own sweat, but it’s the coach reinforcing a message of such clarity that the athletes gain an absolutely black and white view of the situation and what’s expected and their role within the team. Because I know we get many athletes who are very talented but really have just floated along in life and never really had direction and been pushed to levels they were not aware they had. Our job as coaches is to help athletes reveal to themselves what they really might be capable of. So in essence I am sometimes a fan of just doing things that suck, just because they suck… but only when necessary. This type of stuff only goes for certain sports though, particularly team sports. Trust me, I am not cussing and degrading athletes, but talking in a very direct tone without raising my voice too high. No meat-head one-liners or chest beating, but matter-of-factly presenting the information needed.

I know many will say negative things about Crossfit type training, but this concept of extremely grueling training is similar and I think that type of “hard” training does have a time and a place. I look at situations where I, and other coaches too, have utilized some very, very uncomfortable training circuits (more bodyweight) and I wouldn’t have done them any other way. I think some, probably many, would argue, “well that’s not ‘training’ athletes, that’s just trying to make them barf”… but I still stand by what we are doing or did. The athletes even comment on it as something that in hindsight they felt really pushed them to some realizations. Like I said it’s a matter of skillfully and artistically doing it in a way in which no harm is done and a very articulate message is taught.

Just to be certain, we don’t do “death” circuits all day, every day. I just wanted to touch on a topic that isn’t always clearly addressed and many say is bad to do. I know I’ve said lots about the society and culture in this interview, but I don’t think we’ve gotten ‘harder’ physically, quite the opposite and sometimes it takes action to reveal “toughness”, not a little lip service about how we need to apply more effort.

I do agree though with much of what Coach Vern Gambetta has said on the whole “mental toughness” debate and that it is much more of developing “mental discipline” by doing the necessary things right on a consistent basis; following through on the details of the day-to-day, month-to-month.
So this type of stuff is part of always assessing teams and athletes, along with the movement and performance type things. Other factors are; how do they listen when being coached? What kind of “sense of purpose” or “energy level” do they have when going through the warm-up? Are they always “goofing” with their teammates, or do they tend to keep to themselves? This will dictate how I might approach a certain athlete about certain things. Do they need a little bit of a “verbal lashing” or an “arm around the shoulder” talk? Because so much of it is, as Carl Valle and others have said, not what you know, but what you get your athletes to do?

So much is predicated on getting to know the athletes you work with and this is as big of an assessment as any physical stuff. Athlete’s personal stories reveal a lot more than can be visually seen and measured, and as Theodore Roosevelt said, “”People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.

5. What’s your take on foam rolling, static stretching, mobility drills, activation work, and breathing patterns? Do you have time in your training to incorporate them into your arsenal?

Foam rolling is an option for post-workout. We sometimes use static stretching post-workout as well, done as a group for specific times. I make a huge emphasis with static stretching used prior to bed; a series of stretches done to calm the nervous system and to try to get a relaxation effect (parasympathetic shift) prior to sleep.

Mobility drills, nearly everything we do incorporates range-of-motions throughout the joints of the body. Only in necessary situations will an athlete be given specific joint mobility drills to do, such as those with the ankle or the hip. Otherwise, one of the main goals every training session is to take all joints through full ranges throughout everything we do.

As for “activation” work, nothing like glute bridging, glute medius stuff, “inner/outer unit” stuff. Again, my big thing is get them moving athletically, doing it well and often. If we have enough variation in this area we tend to keep things nicely “activated”. For a specific example, lateral bounds are great for working on hip abductor function in a much more dynamic nature. The hips are working to concentrically to propel the athlete, while they are challenged eccentrically upon landing to slow and stabilize the movement. Lateral bounds are easy to use with no need for special equipment and the athletes are on their feet, actually being athletes. For progressions we simply use shorter bounds, progressed to longer bounds and do the same with progressing the speeds. Move them athletically often!

6. Do all of your players follow the same routine, or do you differentiate routines based on positions, needs, abilities, etc. ?

I plan according to phases of the year, pre-season, in-season, off-season, but nothing much specifically in advance of something like 2-3 weeks at a time. The athletes use similar routines, with minor tweaks and exercise variations or substitutions for different athletes. This is where really knowing your athletes helps, as a movement screen may or may not show something, but high volume or high intensity or a bit of both will for sure start to present some things as far as ‘problems’. A big emphasis in what I do is athlete education. I want the athletes to have a very clear and thorough understanding of what we are trying to accomplish, hence why I began having some “classroom” sessions last year. In these sessions we discussed everything from the science of what we were/are doing, to the psychology of training and athletics, to nutrition and recovery strategies. What I found was that this education led to some very open and clear dialogue between me and the athletes. The athletes felt they had a better grasp on things, and began to look at me as less of an expert and more of a team member, which allowed them to feel free to openly discuss things that they felt were not of benefit, things that were, and some possible recommendations for change. So what this allowed was an even clearer picture of who needed what based on the regular feedback they were giving me, leading to better exercise selection, volume and intensity for certain individuals. With that being said, there are certain things that everyone will do which is the same, with just minor tweaks as I see necessary.

7. Are there any things that piss you off about the strength training profession?

Nothing really pisses me off as I have a job and an opportunity to coach daily… other than lazy, “entitled” athletes; so life is pretty good. Things do definitely amuse me though, such as all the focus on “micro” techniques and concepts. I am just not buying it that some of this breathing stuff and different “neuromuscular” techniques makes much of any difference in young athletes. If there is research validating some of these things, it’s usually done on older, dysfunctional subjects.

The other amusing thing, actually more annoying, is the infomercial tone a lot of the marketing of products has taken. There are no secrets and no one has the right answer because the answer always changes with different contexts, different athletes, and different coaches. So for everything I’ve argued for or against in this interview and in past blog posts, I am totally wrong, or totally right, or usually somewhere between the two. There are some more correct solutions and some less correct solutions, but absolutes can rarely be correct… so really, there are no true experts, just marketing gurus.

8. Quick Responses:

Where were you born? Hallock, MN 56728.

Top 3 favorite exercises? That’s difficult as it changes for different sports and different individuals. Sprinting, jumping, lifting heavy objects (cleans, squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, push-ups)… wait that’s more than 3, sorry.

Top 3 favorite strength training books? I don’t really have a top 3 for this.

Top 3 favorite movies? Gladiator, Avatar, 300, Back to the Future series, and Dumb and Dumber. (Man, that’s 7. Sorry again)

Top 3 favorite things to eat? Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and anything off the grill.

Top 3 biggest influences in the profession? That’s difficult as so many people have and do influence me in so many different ways and at different times. Many folks who I am sure no one has ever heard of.

9. Thank you very much for the interview Aaron! What does the future have in store for you? Where can readers find out more about you?

For right now, all I can see is more coaching and teaching. I am really enjoying what I do and just hope to continue to help build a strong culture with the athletes who I am fortunate enough to work with.

For me personally, I just really enjoy physical culture, I am a fan and will continue to be an active participant in many different sports, and also have a secret obsession with physical challenges like street running/parkour, skateboarding, mountain biking, BMX racing, adventure racing, different forms of triathlons, extreme endurance events, different forms of dance (which I don’t do, I just appreciate those that can). Anything that takes the human spirit and will to its’ edges of suffering (in a voluntarily pleasant way, hahaha!!!) and/or involves lots of creativity. Basically any type of play works for me, as long as it involves more than just the head and hands. And best of all, being a father to two wonderful young children (Eva and Reggie) and good husband to my lovely wife, Margo. My family has taught me so many things, and will continue to, as our adventure moves on…

To find out more about me? I blog once in a while at www.aaronschwenzfeier.blogspot.com.

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Okay readers, I’m going to try to pack this interview with as much content as possible, so we’ll dive right into things! Matt Brughelli is a PhD researcher who studies biomechanics, strength training, and sport training. He’s a heck of a smart guy. He recently published a study that examined the effects of running velocity on running kinetics and kinematics. His findings have created quite a stir in the strength & conditioning and track & field worlds. Here we go!

1. Matt, what in the hell is going on? Did sprint researchers and track & field coaches have it all wrong? Your study shows that as running speed increases, vertical oscillation of center of mass decreases and horizontal forces increases at a faster rate than vertical forces. This indicates that horizontal force production is probably more important than vertical force production as speed increases. Doesn’t this fly in the face of the famous Weyand study? Did Weyand do something wrong? What gives?

First I would like to say that everything I’ve written in this interview is my opinion alone. I do not speak for my co-authors or anyone else involved in this study.

Hi Bret, lots of great questions here. I’d like to start with the relationship between vertical ground reaction forces (GRF’s) and maximum running velocity. Then I’ll give my take on Weyand et al. 2000, and will address the questions on horizontal force and “did they have it all wrong” in questions 5 and 7.

I think there is now overwhelming evidence that maximum running velocity is not limited by vertical GRF’s. With the addition of my recent study, there are now three studies that have directly investigated the effects of running velocity on vertical GRF’s over a range of velocities up to maximum (Brughelli et al. 2010; Kuitunen et al. 2002; Nummela et al. 2007). Each study used an athletic population and reported that vertical GRF’s (i.e. peak and average GRF’s) remained constant after reaching ~70% maximum velocity. This is direct evidence against the claim that maximum running velocity is limited by vertical GRF’s.

In addition, take a look at Table 1 in Chang and Kram, 2006. Vertical GRF’s were measured over different running curvatures (i.e. similar to a 200m sprint). Here, maximum running velocities were decreased due to the curvature. But vertical GRF’s did not significantly decrease until running velocities dropped below 60% maximum (i.e. inside leg only). This would also suggest that maximum running velocity is not limited with vertical GRF’s.

In regards to the famous Peter Weyand study (Weyand et al. 2000), I actually like this study very much. I have a lot of respect for Professor Weyand and consider him an expert on sprint mechanics. However, I think they (i.e. Weyand and colleagues) made very strong conclusions based on the quality of their methodology. They had a heterogeneous group of subjects (i.e. 24 men and 9 women; recreationally active; ages 18 to 36; no sprinting background) run at maximum velocities on a motorized treadmill that could measure vertical GRF’s. Then they performed linear regressions between maximum running velocities and ground support forces (i.e. average vertical force during the contact phase, relative to body mass). It should be noted that correlations and linear regressions do not imply “cause and effect”. As far as methodological quality, they rank relatively low.

I am in complete agreement with Karl Zelik (Buckley et al. 2010) that correlations and linear regressions should not be used as a surrogate for fundamental mechanical understanding of speed limitations. Instead of making such strong conclusions, I think Weyand and colleagues should have embraced the shortcomings and limitations of their study in order to motivate further research.

One more study I wanted to mention. Peter Weyand has published a new study in the Journal of Applied Physiology (Weyand et al. 2010) on the same topic. In this study, forward hopping and backward running were compared with maximum running velocity. Weyand and colleagues concluded that maximum running velocity is NOT limited by vertical ground support forces. Instead they propose that maximum running velocity is limited by the time required to produce ground support forces, which they argue is more due to muscle contractile kinetics.

One last point. Look at Figure 3 in Weyand et al. 2010. There are 6 subjects running over a range of velocities. With five of the six subjects (E was the exception, and the slowest runner), vertical ground support forces remain constant above ~7.0 m/s. This is very similar to the literature I have presented above.

Despite all of the above, Weyand et al. 2000 did find that faster runners produce significantly greater ground support forces in comparison with slower runners. So vertical GRF’s most likely do have some minor role in maximum running velocity. My only argument here is that maximum running velocity is not LIMITED by vertical GRF’s or ground support forces.

2. Matt, I’m going to be devil’s advocate here and attempt to cast serious doubt on your research. Please defend yourself. First, your study used a non-motorized Woodway treadmill which required sprinters to exert more horizontal force than regular overground sprinting since the belt slows down due to friction.

I don’t think friction is a problem with the Woodway treadmill. It’s possible. I don’t know of any studies comparing non-motorized treadmills for friction. According to the manufacturer, the Woodway uses a low friction bearing system that uses two bearing rails. Thus the decks do not need to be flipped like a conventional treadmill. I think if horizontal forces were increased (in comparison with overground sprinting) it would more likely be due to the tether as you mention in question 3.

I’d also like to point out that non-motorized treadmills have been shown to be valid in comparison with overground running for maximum running velocity. They have also been shown to have similar running kinetics or kinematics to overground running, and have excellent reliability. In a side note, Weyand et al. 2000 used a “motorized” force treadmill. Motorized force treadmills have been shown to alter running kinematics compared with overground running (McKenna et al. 2007)

You might wonder why researchers use treadmills at all. Why not use force plates mounted in the ground? Well its not easy to use force plates with subjects running at maximum velocity. And you only get a single step with a single force plate (if you are lucky) for each maximum running effort. With force treadmills you can get as many steps as you want. This is a HUGE advantage for researchers. Also, as Weyand et al. 2000 pointed out you do not need to deal with air resistance with treadmills. Faster runners would have greater air resistance in comparison with slower runners. There are always limitations, even when doing research with overground sprinting.

3. Second, you used a cable tether that exerted a rearward pull and therefore required more horizontal force production in comparison to regular overground sprinting.

As mentioned in question 2, it is possible that non-motorized treadmills create greater horizontal forces in comparison with overground running. However, if this was the case then you would expect two things to occur: 1) the studies on overground running would report less horizontal force in comparison with the studies using non-motorized treadmills; and, 2) the percentage of horizontal to vertical force production would be different between overground and non-motorized treadmill studies. This is clearly not the case. The studies using non-motorized treadmills have reported very similar, or lower, values for horizontal force in comparison with overground running (~400 N) at maximum velocity. And the percentage of horizontal to vertical forces is also very similar (~20%). Thus it is not likely that the tether is increasing horizontal force production during sprinting.

4. Third, net horizontal force at constant velocities are zero. I guess now you’re suggesting that Sir Isaac Newton was wrong?

Not at all. As I’ve mentioned in the previous questions, several researchers have used non-motorized force treadmills during running. My study is not novel in this sense, and none of us are breaking any of Newton’s laws.

It’s true that net horizontal forces are zero at constant velocities. This does not mean they are insignificant. Most studies only report peak propulsive forces and not braking forces. Most non-motorized force treadmills do not measure horizontal GRF’s. The horizontal forces are measured from a load cell that is attached to the tether. So braking forces are not measured. I was measuring vertical GRF’s from the force plate (i.e. four strain gauges) under the belt, and horizontal forces from the load cell attached to the tether. Again, this is nothing crazy or novel. Researchers have been using these machines since at least 1984 (Lakomy et al. 1984).

5. Forth, don’t you think you’re making some pretty ballsy claims for a single study!

Actually, I think my conclusions were very conservative. Most conclusions use terminology such as “these findings suggest that” or “we conclude that”. Lets take a look at my conclusion. First I said “it would seem”. This is not ballsy. Then I said “may be more dependent”. “Maybe” is not a term of great ballsiness. I did not say that horizontal forces limit maximum running velocity. In fact, I did not make any claim about any variable limiting maximum running velocity. I simply said that sprinting ability might be more dependent on horizontal forces in comparison with vertical forces. Again, “in comparison with vertical forces”. This is definably not a strong conclusion. It is not likely that vertical GRF’s have a major influence on maximum running velocity. So I feel these conclusions were conservative, but yet appropriate.

My conclusions were based on my own findings, and my understanding of the previous literature. They were not based on a single study. Both Nummela et al. 2007 and Kuitunen et al. 2002 also reported that horizontal forces significantly increase up to maximum running velocities. In addition, Nummela et al. 2007 and Brughelli et al. 2010 reported significant correlations between maximum running velocity and horizontal forces (r = 0.66 and r = 0.47), but not vertical. So my interpretation of these findings is that horizontal forces may be more important than vertical GRF’s for maximum running velocity.

For comparison take a look at the conclusions in Weyand et al. 2000, then look at the conclusions in Weyand et al. 2010. You tell me who makes ballsy claims.

I’d also like to say that I am not the first to make this conclusion about horizontal vs. vertical forces. Nummela et al. 2007 made a stronger conclusion that I did, as well as Randell et al. 2010. In addition, a few researchers have contacted me about my conclusion, and have mentioned that it supports their recent findings. So you will be seeing more papers in the next few years discussing horizontal vs. vertical force.

6. Moving along, based on your expertise, do we know what limits maximal speed production? What are some of the possibilities?

No one currently knows what limits maximum running velocity. I agree more with Weyand et al. 2010 that it could be due to the “time” side of the curve as opposed to the “force” side. Giovanni Cavagna has done some very interesting work in this area as well. I think that the time available to produce high forces is very important. In addition, I think horizontal force production is very important. So maybe some combination of the two.

I have a few ideas for more research on the limitations on maximum running velocity. However, after that I will probably never visit the topic again. I think constant velocity running is not very practical for most athletes. I think we are all missing the boat on this one. Why is there so much time and effort spend on this topic? How often does a soccer player, or rugby or basketball player run at a constant velocity? We need to go in other directions if we want to progress the field.

7. In light of this research, are you wondering if traditional methods of strength & conditioning might “leave something on the table” in terms of maximum acceleration and speed?

This is a very important question. I do think that traditional strength and conditioning (S&C) can improve speed and acceleration. However, I do NOT think the improvements are due to greater vertical GRF’s during running. I think Weyand et al. 2010 has made a very strong case for this point. In their new study they have reported that runners apply sub-maximal forces (i.e. vertical GRF’s and extensor muscle forces) during maximum velocity running. So I doubt if you improve an athletes squat, he/she will produce greater vertical or extensor muscle forces during running. I would like to see someone do a correlation between squat strength and vertical GRF’s during maximum velocity running. I doubt there would be any relationship.

Thus I feel that traditional S&C improves performance through other adaptations than vertical force production during maximum velocity running. I think these adaptations could include favorable changes in rate of force development, being able to maintain high force levels for longer periods, inter and/or intra-muscular coordination, etc.

I think coaches should be excited by the recent findings about vertical forces, and be open to implementing additional training methods for improving speed, acceleration and overall athletic performance. I think coaches should start implementing more horizontal strength and power exercises, hip extension/hyper-extension exercises, proper eccentric exercises, and continue to implement single-leg exercises.

Yuri Verkhoshansky introduced several examples of complex training in the famous Steven Fleck article (Fleck, 1986). Many of these examples complexed traditional vertical exercises with horizontal exercises. It’s an easy way to implement horizontal strength and power exercises into S&C programs. And now we have more exercises to choose from. Why not complex a squat with a horizontal weighted jump, or a squat jump with 30m sprints, or your hip thrust with 10m falling accelerations. The variations are endless. And this training is much more fun for the athletes. AND periodization becomes much more fun for the coach with complex training.

So in conclusion, I do not think traditional S&C exercises should be thrown out. I think they should be complexed with: horizontal strength and power exercises; hip extensor/hyper-extensor exercises; single-leg exercises, etc. I think eccentric exercise should also be considered for improving sprint and acceleration. Especially exercises that eccentrically contract the hamstrings during hip flexion, and eccentrically contract the hip flexors during hip extension/hyper-extension. But that’s another topic for another day.

8. What are some things that you’re excited about in strength & conditioning as well as biomechanics research? Where future research do you believe will positively impact athletic development?

There are a few areas in S&C and biomechanics that are wide open for research. And very practical areas as well. I think acceleration, deceleration and change of direction are very exciting areas. With these movements, the braking and propulsive forces are not equally balanced. Thus the muscle-tendons units act very differently during constant velocity “bouncing” gaits and acceleration/deceleration/COD. I also think a lot of great biomechanics research can be done on horizontal movements, and developing methods of improving horizontal force and power. Eccentric exercise is another very interesting area of research. Not just for muscle injury prevention but also for athletic performance. General injury prevention and analyzing leg asymmetries and deficits is also very interesting. Biomechanics of movement deficiencies (i.e. individual or sport/movement-related deficiencies) is another interesting area. So many different areas to still explore!

9. Matt, talk about the barbell hip thrust, how it differs from the squat, and how it might lead to increases in acceleration sprinting more so than maximal speed.

I love this exercise, and the other variations as well. With the hip thrust, the hip extensors are trained all the way through the end ranges of hip extension and hip hyper-extension. The moment arm of the glutes increases with hip extension/hyper-extension. Thus we need to find ways of training the glutes as the hip extends and hyper-extends. I think it is possible that the hip thrusts could improve hip strength throughout the end ranges of hip extension and into hip hyper-extension.

To me, this is the biggest difference with the squat. With the squat, the greatest benefits occur during the bottom position as the muscles are at longer lengths and switch from eccentric to concentric contractions. At the bottom position, the hips are behind the load increasing the moment arm from the vertical position. As you ascend from the bottom position and the hips extend, this moment arm decreases. Thus the hip extensors are not trained throughout the end ranges of hip extension and hyper-extension with the squat. Bands may help a little with this, but not much due to the position on the hips in relation to the load during the end ranges of hip extension.

Thus I think the hip thrusts would have a much greater effect on horizontal movements (i.e. in comparison with squats). I also think the hip thrusts would have a greater effect on acceleration than constant velocity sprinting. During acceleration, the braking forces are greatly reduced and propulsive forces are increased. The hip extensor muscles are required to produce power during acceleration. So it is important to find methods of improving muscle power of the hip extensors during athletic movements. I think the hip thrusts might be able to accomplish this, along with horizontal strength and power exercises.

10. Thank you very much for the interview! Last question. What does the future hold for Matt Brughelli?

Thanks for the opportunity Bret! The future is going to hold a whole lot more research. I will begin a post-doctorate research position in Belgium in a few months. I have several colleagues in Europe and am very excited about the coming years. There’s still so much to learn and I hope to be successful as a researcher in the future.

References

Brughelli et al. 2010. Effects of running velocity on running kinetics and kinematics. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, (Epub).

Buckley et al. 2010. Comments on Point: Counterpoint: Artificial limbs do/do not make artificially fast running speeds possible. J Appl Physiol 108: 1016-1018

Chang & Kram, 2007. Limitations to maximum running speed on flat curves. J Exp Biol 210: 971–982.

Fleck, 1986. Complex Training. NSCA Journal. 8(5): 66-68

Kuitunen et al. 2002. Knee and angle joint stiffness in sprint runners. Med Sci Sports Exerc 34: 166–173.

Lakomy, 1984. An ergometer for measuring the power generated during sprinting. J Physiol 33: 354.

McKenna et al. 2007. A comparison of sprinting kinematics on two types of treadmill and over-ground. Scand J Med Sci Sports 17: 649–655.

Nummela et al. 2007. Factors related to top running speed and economy. Int J Sports Med 28: 655–661

Weyand et al. 2000. Faster top running speeds are achieved with greater ground forces not more rapid leg movements. J Appl Physiol 89: 1991–1999

Weyand et al. 2010. The biological limits to running speed are imposed from the ground up. J Appl Physiol 108: 950 – 961.

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Okay blog readers!!! I finally convinced Matt Perryman to do an interview for my blog. If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of his work. There are a lot of different types of “experts” in the fitness field. The main reason why I like listening to Matt is because he trains for general strength (and hypertrophy to some extent)…not athleticism. As someone who trains the same way, I know first hand that this is an art unto itself. Training for strength as opposed to training for athleticism has it’s own rules, and there aren’t many people who understand those rules better than Matt Perryman.

Matt is a guy who has positively influenced me in several ways. First, he has helped me realize the value in reading research journals (something I’m now doing all day long it seems!). Second, he has helped me identify logical fallacies (errors in reasoning) when debating on internet forums (something I discovered the hard way after actually debating with him on a forum). Third, he has helped me realize that the human body is capable of more training frequency than most of us believe to be ideal (I’ve had much recent success adding in a fifth workout day to my routine). And fourth, he has helped me cement/reinforce my views on certain methods such as auto-regulation. I find myself “nodding in agreement” quite often when reading Matt’s work which is a rare occurrence when I read strength training blogs.

I believe that this is one of the better interviews that I’ve ever read in the strength training profession (it helps to have a good interviewer, not just a good interviewee :)). Rather than bore you with the traditional “introduce yourself” introductory question, I’ll sum it up. Matt’s a super-smart recreational lifter who likes to lift heavy weights, read journals, crucify people on forums, and write great blogs. Here’s a link to his blog. It is my belief that Matt is one of the smartest and most knowledgeable guys in the industry. You can learn all about him here.

Although I’ve been trying to create shorter blogs, an interview with Matt Perryman justifies an exception to the rule. I will definitely interview Matt again down the road if he’s still willing to share his thoughts. Here’s the interview:

1. BC: Alright Matt, first question: What’s the single best exercise in existence? Please justify your response.

MP: The short answer: There isn’t one.

The longer answer: This is a question everybody wants to ask because people like order. We naturally tend to rank things according to importance. The thing is, the nature of an exercise is to train a specific motor quality — a movement, a muscle group, an energy system, whatever. Exercises are done to move you towards specific goals, which means it’s impossible to define any one as “best” without knowing what those goals are — and sometimes people have more than one.

If you want to get a 180kg bench, then your best exercise may be different from the guy training for a fight, or the girl training for a figure show, or a kid after big arms. And it may even be different from the exercise that gets you to a body weight bench. It may not even be any single exercise.

The single best exercise is the exercise or group of exercises that brings you closer to your specific goal.

2. BC: Someone wants desperately to bring up their deadlift. How frequently should they deadlift and what assistance exercises should they do in the meantime?

MP: I wish there was an easy answer for this one, because the DL is the one lift that seems to have little rhyme or reason to it. Over the years I’ve tried just about everything you can name. I’ve deadlifted with high frequency, 3-5 times a week. I’ve deadlifted with low frequency, one hard session per month with other lifts subbed in on non-DL weeks. Honestly, I don’t think there is one right or wrong answer, but I will lay out some thoughts on what has worked and why (most of which is cribbed from guys much stronger than myself).

I think that in general some people are “volume” responders and others are “intensity” responders. This may be due to a lot of factors, but I think that build and limb-proportions, along with your CNS responsiveness (for lack of better terminology) would be the big two. If you’re built for a lift, you’re going to have a much easier time getting strong at it than a guy that’s disadvantaged. With my build, I’m a good puller, okay to good squatter, and horrible bencher. This means that on average, my pull tends to go up when I pull. You look at guys like Bob Peoples and Lamar Gant, guys that had knuckles dragging the ground, and they could get away with lots of pulling. Even Konstantinovs is tall and “lanky” as top-level powerlifters go, and he doesn’t do much besides pull heavy all the time. In my case, benching benefits from benching, but it also seems to need more work from other exercises to improve. Mechanical disadvantage means more benefit to assistance work, and vice versa.

CNS responsiveness is what we’d have once called “fast twitch” or “slow twitch” dominant. I think there is something to the classification, but I don’t think it has a lot to do with actual muscle fibers. It’s all in your head, so to speak — your brain’s ability to rapidly activate and/or keep activated muscles that are involved in an exercise. This is the difference between being “explosive” and a guy that strains to hit all his maxes, and I think people tend to naturally fall into one camp or the other. I’m more in the former camp. Any time I hit a near-max weight, I can go look at the video and it looks at least snappy, if not fast. If I get stuck on a lift, I have very little ability to strain and grind through it.

I find that I’m more of a volume responder, probably because of that. I can train relatively heavy relatively often, and that’s what I benefit from–lots of practice. I do very well when most of my training is done with moderate intensities (70-85% of 1RM) and at least three weekly workouts for a given lift. Since I can go pretty heavy without straining through weights, I don’t see the hit to recovery unless I go nuts and train on nerve.

The deadlift is one exception to that. My max DL strength seems to respond to some kind of heavy pulling (high relative to 1RM), and that means I can’t train it frequently because that will blow me out just like anybody else. The things that have gotten my deadlift strongest with any consistency are making sure to pull hard once a week and then have some kind of lighter pulling session on another day. There’s only a handful of assistance lifts that have ever carried over to DL strength for me; the good news is that those are either DL or squat variants, so it’s not hard to keep them in. For my set of circumstances, the pull benefits from pulling hard at least once a week. That may not be the case for everybody, so keep that in mind.

Pull hard means singles, doubles, or triples up in the 75-85% range, mostly staying away from 90%+ reps and doing whatever I can to avoid missing reps in training. Missing reps in your deadlift workouts is suicidal from a training standpoint. You can do these as straight sets (pick a weight and do sets with it), you can wave-load (move the weight up and down by 5-10kg increments on each set), you can do this as density training (set aside 20 minutes and get as many reps as you can), whatever. This works best if you have some kind of short-term goal for a number of reps to hit, which triggers a small increase in the working weight.

Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 routine would have you doing fairly high reps on the deadlift when you start a cycle, and I think this is a solid way to go about it too. One Hard Set of 5-10 reps on the pull is a great way to train it (at least some of the time).

You could even do something like John Kuc’s deadlift program, where he split it in half. The first exercise was off the floor strength, so he’d pull from a deficit or pull to the knees (the halting deadlift). The second exercise was out of the rack. Rack pulls from the knee or higher are a show-off move. If you want them to carry over to your full-range pull, rack pulls should be done somewhere from mid-shin to just below the knee, with the plates 2-6″ off the floor. Coincidentally, pulling from a deficit and from a low-rack position are the two assistance lifts that actually have helped my deadlift in the past. Kuc also did what was basically a linear progression with triples, starting with 3-4 sets and then tapering up to a 3RM in short 4-6 week cycles, which is another option to look at.

So your heavy day comes down to three options:

1. Do lots of work in the 75-85% range
2. Do One Hard Set of 5-10 with some kind of progression cycle (either add weight linearly, or use mini-cycles like the 5/3/1)
3. Do some kind of simple linear cycle with triples, doubles, or singles, dropping sets and adding weight each week.

The lighter day can be a lot of things. Bill Starr suggested doing power cleans and high pulls. Westside has gotten everyone big on speed work, and I think this is a good idea. For my last meet, I did an old Westside deadlift cycle which is all singles. You start at 65% for 15 singles and work up to 85% for six singles. It worked about as well as anything could have. The take-home for me is that the light day should be in that light-moderate percentage zone, regardless of what you actually do.

Barring your freaks (like Bob Peoples, who deadlifted to a max single 5-7 days a week), most of the guys with good deadlifts are pulling hard once a week and then have a lighter, faster session on another day. I think that frequency is an unexplored dimension here, though, and you could potentially do a lot more pulling as long as you kept the daily efforts reasonable. The CNS strain of a big pull is too much to recover from done regularly, but the game changes if you keep the intensity reigned in.

As far as assistance, I already mentioned the deficits and low-rack pulls. Those are gold. Other things worth exploring are front squats, which are great for off-the-floor strength; good mornings, which can be hit or miss, but I’ve had some success with them as a lighter, high-rep/high-volume movement; and stiff-legs from the floor or from a deficit, done like GMs or even for heavy sets of 5-10.

You could also add in the usual glute/ham/low-back/abs stuff, but honestly these days I’m getting away from that. I’d rather spend the extra 20 minutes doing more work with the bar. Setting PRs on assistance lifts but never actually budging your main lifts isn’t helping you. This happens to more people than you might think. If you’re going to do it, do something like glute-ham raises or back hypers, and then a heavy ab exercise and call it a day. I like Dave Tate’s rule: 80% of your results come from 20% of your work. I’m big on pushing the 20% that generates the most value.

3. BC: Some one wants desperately to bring up their full squat. How frequently should they squat and what assistance exercises should they in addition to squatting?

MP: Squatting is a whole different beast. You can squat heavy week in, week out and it won’t kill you the way deadlifting will.

The strongest squats I ever hit were done using some variant of 5×5 planning. Years ago when that stuff first started getting popular online, I tried what’s now called the Texas method. You squat for high volume on Monday, do a light session on Wednesday, then work up to a peak set of five on Friday. It’s worth noting that this also got my deadlift about as strong as it’s ever been.

I spent quite a while doing that pattern in some form or another. It taught me a lesson, that a lot of what we think to be true may not be true. I think sometimes we forget how most guys train. To hang out in any commercial gym, if guys are training their legs at all it’s leg press, leg extension, leg curl. They might occasionally step up to some Smith-machine squats, or some jerk will load up 3-4 plates on the bar and move it 3″. Point being, people don’t squat. People that think they’re squatting aren’t. The first thing that gets skipped is “leg day”, cause leg day is hard, right?

If you want to squat big, you have to get past that mindset. If you want to squat big, raw, you have to think a little differently from the guys that are gearing up to train. Nothing against gear, but I think a lot of times people forget that competing powerlifters are squatting in suits and wraps. This changes the training, and you can’t just leave that out when deciding how to train. If you’re trying to copy a wide-stance, shins-vertical, “sit back” kind of squat without gear (and without the leverages for it), that’s probably not optimal. My best raw squatting is done with a narrow stance and reminiscent of how OLers squat, regardless of where the bar sits on my back. That’s also an individual leverage thing, in my experience, given my build. A bulkier guy with better levers might find that the wider stance is better. Horses for courses, sure; the point being, if you’re a lanky raw lifter or generally not a squat tank, you probably need to look at other options besides copying “sit back” geared box-squat form. A lot of people have gotten this idea in their heads that powerlifting means wide-stance, sit-back, never hit depth squats, when the truth is many of the old-school PLers never squatted that way and a good many of the current IPF guys don’t squat that way.

If strength is the main concern then squatting twice a week is an absolute minimum. You need at the very least a heavy day and a light day. Having three days would be better. If you think that’s too much squatting, then you need to get your head out of the bodybuilding mindset. This isn’t about training to failure or with puke-level “intensity”. It’s about practicing the movement with decently heavy weights.

I’ve recently gone through a training cycle where I squatted to a daily max, five days a week, for two months straight. I was beat up, sore a lot, but I kept making progress every single week. I used to doubt that the extremes could work for a raw, drug-free lifter — that kind of Bulgarian plan, Smolov and all those Russian squat cycles floating around the ‘net — but now I’m not so sure. Squatting more has translated to more gains. I’m not quite back up to all-time bests but I’m getting there fast. I’m about 20kg off my best-ever front squat and 25-30 off my best back squat (all unequipped “no no no” squats – no wraps, no belt, no spotters), weighing 10kg less I should add.

The general advice is the same as above — you want to squat big? Then squat. Squat as heavy as you can as often as you can. For most people, I think a reasonable starting point is the Bill Starr heavy/light/medium approach. Squat to a 5RM on Monday, 80% of that on Wednesday, and 90% on Friday. The Texas method is a good option, volume on Monday, light on Wednesday, peak set on Friday.

Of course, this isn’t to say you must have that kind of frequency. Obviously that won’t be practical or even necessary for everyone. Like I said before, somebody built for squatting may be able to get away with one good squat session each week. But I do think practice will benefit most people.

Squatting gives you a lot more flexibility as far as what works. You’ll see guys that go in and do a 10RM set once a week and improve. I did that last year for awhile. Or even that old 20-rep squat cycle. On average though I think sets of 5-6 reps are the money spot; that’s been confirmed by anecdote and research. It’s possible to come in and grind out sets each week without blowing yourself out. You’ll think you’re peaked but you come in, put the weight on, and it just moves. Most people just don’t want to put in the work to do it.

More often than not, that’s the secret to squatting. Just keep showing up and working a little harder than the last time. The specifics are secondary to that.

4. BC: Why are there different “rules” for the squat and deadlift?

MP: Look at the mechanics of the lifts.

Powerlifting gear notwithstanding, you’ll be able to pull more than you can squat. The deadlift is already the heaviest thing you’ll be able to do, unassisted, out of the three powerlifts. Not only that, but you glue it to the floor and then introduce grip as the weak link in the chain.

I’ve missed many pulls over the years due to “phantom grip strength”. That is to say, the bar will feel too heavy but I won’t automatically associate it with my grip. My hands feel fine. The bar just feels too heavy. There’s some kind of proprioceptive feedback going on there. The weight feels heavy in the hands so everything else shuts down.

That issue aside, there’s the fact that you have to overcome the weight from a dead stop (which is where the name comes from). From a neuromuscular standpoint, overcoming a dead weight is a hugely different thing from lowering and reversing a weight, which you do in the squat and bench press. Anecdotally, you get this with all exercises that start from the overcoming position. Think about a military press compared to a bench press.

As a rule, these overcoming lifts have a different strength/volume curve than the lower/reverse lifts. This goes for chinups, curls, deadlifts, rows, military presses, and anything I left out. They respond best to lots of low-rep sets at moderate percentages, or to One Big Set. They fatigue quickly and don’t respond well to a lot of volume.

The squat and bench get the advantage of a stretch reflex to help them along, which is why these lifts can respond better to higher volume and higher reps on average. Note that these aren’t hard rules, because you can train the squat and bench in the same way; just that you have more flexibility in programming them. They’re harder to screw up.

5. BC: Give us your thoughts on the good morning. There are lots of variations. Does it transfer better to the squat or deadlift?

MP: I have a love-hate relationship with this exercise. You hear a lot of guys that swear by it, but most of those are the guys that are competing in a lot of equipment. Bear in mind I train raw, and my idea of gearing up for a competition is a belt and a pair of knee wraps I bought in 2001. A lot of my perspective reflects that.

Years ago, I gave GMs a shot as a main exercise. I got reasonably strong on them, but never saw any carryover to the powerlifts. I really think that a raw or raw-ish lifter needs to spend most of his/her time doing the lifts, and anything like GMs should be an assistance move.

That’s where they shine, in my experience. Doing GMs after squats or (especially) deadlifts is a solid way to do it. As mentioned, I don’t find that the DL really responds to volume barring speed weights. This is a perfect spot to throw in GMs to get a little extra volume for the hip and low-back muscles. I like using them for modest weights but higher reps and more sets. In training for my last meet, I did sets of 6-8 reps with only around 100kg.

As far as the transfer, I really think that depends on the GM and how you squat. Wide-stance squatters will benefit from wider-stance GMs. If you look at a lot of those low-bar wider stance squats, as soon as the guy gets tired it basically becomes a GM anyway, so you might as well prepare for that. I’m a close-stance squatter so I’ve never really had that effect.

Narrow-stance GMs seem to be a little better for deadlifts. You’ll also see some Olympic lifters using these to help the pull. I’ve heard it suggested that narrow-stance GMs, suspended from chains or straps, would be a good assistance lift for the DL. It makes sense, though I haven’t tried it enough to comment.

6. BC: What about the front squat? Do you believe that it’s one of the best “deadlift-builders” due to the emphasis on upper back strengthening?

MP: The front squat is ridiculously underrated. To be fair, it’s not the easiest thing to learn and it’s not a comfortable lift even when you do pick it up–but the benefits just can’t be ignored.

Minus a few freaky OL exceptions, most people won’t ever be able to front squat as much as they back squat. Somehow, this doesn’t seem to matter. I tore an adductor muscle in my left leg at the end of 2008 and had to spend the next 7 months off back squats. I switched exclusively to front squats for that time. I rarely went over 100kg on them. When I brought back squats back in, it took me about a month to get back to squatting 140kg for 10 reps. That was an eye-opener.

This is something I’ve noted elsewhere, but there’s definitely a connection between narrow-stance squat strength and your deadlift strength right off the floor. Ever since getting my front squat strong, I don’t miss deadlifts off the floor anymore. The same held true in the past regarding my OL-style squat. It’s most likely a function of quad strength helping you break the bar off the floor, whereas lockout is all glutes and hams and grip endurance.

The upper-back development and, possibly, core-strength are probably factors as well. In short, this is a good lift to keep in the mix. If you can’t clean-grip it due to wrist flexibility or big arms, the cross grip is fine. Also John Broz has videos of some of his guys using straps to hang on to the bar, which I thought was pretty neat.

7. BC: Are you a fan of box squats? If so, do you believe in “touch and go” or “rocking” style?

MP: Yes and no. I like them as a teaching tool, and they were invaluable when I blew my quad out last year. I’ve found that a lot of new clients lack the body awareness to “just squat”, even with their own body weight. Put a box out there and they get it right away. Whether it’s a confidence thing or box squat magic, I don’t know. I don’t guess it particularly matters as long as the result is there.

As far as the style, it really depends on what you want from it. Using it to teach form and depth, it’s mainly there as a depth indicator. I don’t really get people to pause on it. The rocking pause-then-explode style is a great way to build explosion out of the bottom, since it basically turns a squat into a dead-stop kind of movement.

I don’t think most people need to make them a core lift if the goal is to improve the free back squat. Being consistent with what I’ve said already, I think the box squat needs to be looked at more as an assistance lift. It’s a great hip and hamstring builder. This is one thing I’ve had on my list to try in fact, to bring in high and parallel box squatting after my regular daily squatting. That’s straight from the old Culver City Westside guys, who used box squats as a partial or overload exercise.

I just don’t think box squats should entirely replace free back squats for most people. Guys using suits can get away with it, because the box mimics the suit’s support in the hole. A raw squatter won’t get that. Using it to build the hips and hamstrings is a solid idea, though.

8. BC: Do you ever mess around with Zercher squats or barbell hack squats? In theory they’re great lifts but I never seem to incorporate them into my training.

MP: Rarely to the point of never. As in, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve done them since I’ve been lifting weights. If I were to ever get into strongman in a more serious way, I’d take a hard look at incorporating more odd lifts like that. Right now, I don’t have much reason to mess with them.

9. BC: What’s your take on single leg exercises for bilateral strength gains? What’s your take on the step up, Bulgarian squat, reverse lunge, pistol, and single leg RDL?

MP: I like them for beginners, I like them for non-strength athletes, and I like them in down phases where I drop out the heavy stuff and focus on being not-beat-up.

I’ve used them extensively, sometimes exclusively, with endurance athletes. Those guys are more concerned with muscle balance and stability than with absolute strength, so single leg work can be thought of more as a preparatory and preventative kind of thing.

I’d also make it a point to use unilateral work for “general fitness” types, who are looking for more well-rounded development as opposed to any specific performance goals, and really anybody that has “stand up and move around” as part of their needs.

10. BC: Do you believe that glute ham raises transfer over much to squatting and deadlifting? I’ve personally never seen any tranfer whatsoever.

MP: If they do, it’s very small, or it requires more overload than I’ve ever used. The funny thing about GHRs is that you can put somebody on them the first day and that person will rarely be able to do even one. But without fail, if you keep them at it, they’ll be cranking out sets of 10 within a month or two at the most. After building them up, I’ve always found that I can maintain the hamstring strength as long as I’m squatting and pulling regularly. Even after taking a couple of months off I can come back and hit multiple sets of 10, so who knows.

In the case of somebody relatively untrained going from zero to lots, then yeah I think it does shore up a weak point. If you take a guy that already has relatively strong hips and hamstrings and get him good at them, it’s more of a skill-improvement thing and I’m not sure that carries over very much as far as actual strength.

I think they’re worth keeping in just for that level of “preparedness”, but I don’t think they directly help the squat or pull beyond that level.

11. BC: What’s your take on partial lifts such as quarter squats, rack pulls, and floor press?

MP: Useful in the right context and in moderation. It should go without saying by now, but I think that the problems arise when people drop the full lifts in favor of the partials, instead of seeing them as assistance work. Or as in the case of most gym-squatters, they think the partial is the full lift.

I do have a confession though. When I was babying my right shoulder, I relied exclusively on 2-board presses and floor presses for my bench training. So there’s another case when partials can be useful: training around an injury.

Same could be said for quarter squats and rack pulls. The advantage is that you get to handle heavier weights. The problem is that only goes so far. It’s pretty much universal; if you find a guy that’s done a lot of short-ROM lifts for awhile, he’ll inevitably tell you that he went back to the main lifts either no stronger or sometimes weaker than he was. If they’re training a legit weak-point or using them for overload along with the lifts, sure. Otherwise, I can take them or leave them.

12. BC: Have you ever tried barbell glute bridges, barbell hip thrusts, and/or single leg hip thrusts? If so what’s your take? How about the pull-through and kettlebell swing?

MP: Well hell, who couldn’t give them a shot after your book and articles? ;-)

I’ve used them as part of my general warmups. I have to say it never occurred to me to use them as a “strength” movement, but on consideration it makes sense. I think that if the glutes and hip extensors in general are a weak link, then it would make sense to bring them up the same as any other muscle.

The KB swing and pull-through are movements that I enjoy. As part of a well-rounded training regimen, I think they’re much like back hypers or GHRs–good as a high-rep/high-volume kind of assistance move for those muscles. These aren’t exercises that I’d swear by or anything, but I think they’re good standbys. I like doing pull-throughs on sled medleys as well, along with pressing and rowing/pulling movements.

13. BC: I’m of the opinion that the erector spinae are usually the limiting factor in squat and deadlift strength. In other words, I believe that the legs could almost always do more. Do you agree with this statement?

MP: Pretty much. The low back is a touchy area, in that I think we get a little overprotective of it as far as our training suggestions. It’s a muscle group that needs development, but is often ignored or babied because nobody wants to risk injuring it. For most people it is the weak link, but I don’t think it should be, if that makes sense.

I think this is where you’ll find the greatest benefit to GMs, GHRs, back raises, and the KB swings and pull-throughs. Strengthening the lower back with a lot of higher-rep volume seems to be a sure-fire way to strengthen it without risking injury.

And I know this is controversial as hell, so take this with a grain of salt, but I also credit the bulletproofness of my lower back with years of training it rounded. Obviously you have to build up to this and you need the matching ab strength to support the core, but hell we’ve all seen my deadlift videos. I also do GMs and back raises that way as well. The rationale is that the body adapts, and if you strengthen it in a weak position, then it’s no longer a weak position.

This doesn’t excuse legitimately poor form that comes from ignorance. It means that you can do “dangerous” things in a controlled way, with intent, as a kind of weak-point development. Given that the low back is such a potentially weak link in the chain, I don’t see any reason not to train it to handle “potentially catastrophic conditions” that can occur in training. Even McGill backed that up in that recent paper looking at the practices of competitive strongmen. Being conservative is good, but you can’t ignore the realities of strength sports, and I’d rather be prepared. It’s worth noting that of all the numerous injuries I’ve racked up over the years, I’ve never once hurt my lumbar spine or any muscles of my lower back.

14. BC: Briefly describe the major mistakes that most newbies make in trying to pack on mass and gain strength.

MP: Training the wrong way and not eating enough.

I say “the wrong way” because it’s not easy to say “they do too much” or “they don’t train hard”. I think most people should be in the gym at least 3-4 days a week to gain, so they aren’t doing too much in that sense. You can’t say most skinny noobs don’t work hard, either. I’ve seen these guys spend hours busting ass under half-ROM benches and heaving cheat curls.

Newbies are often willing to put in the time and work. They just want to apply that work ethic to the wrong things. If you want to grow, you will find few things you can do in the gym that help this process better than frequent squatting (and other compound lifts). If you want to grow, you need to focus on heavy sets and getting stronger.

All these kids come in trying to do body-part routines, cause that’s what the magazine said and that’s what the big meathead down at the gym told them to do. That isn’t necessarily bad, mind you, as a body-part split is not the worst thing in the world if it’s done right. It’s rarely done right. Instead of focusing on big lifts and bringing those lifts up, they want to muck around with 5 different bicep curls and 20 different chest exercises. And then leg day is extensions and curls.

In short, they’re focusing on the assistance work and not on the important things. If I could go back and do it all over again, I’d do something like Rippetoe’s Starting Strength program, or at least pay more attention to that Ed Coan powerlifting workout that I started doing. My biggest mistakes were getting away from the lifts and trying to make assistance work more important than it is.

Diet-wise, there’s not a lot to say. If you “eat all the time” but never add a pound, you aren’t eating as much as you think. If you’re skinny and want more muscle bulk, then you need to eat and stop sweating the details. Once you’ve added some size, then you can talk macros and meal timing and worry about how much fat you get in a day.

Years ago I got sick of being stuck at 165 pounds. I started swilling a few 1500 calorie shakes per day, eating half a loaf of bread and one of those one-pound trays of beef among other things. I don’t recall exactly how much I was eating, but it was 6000+ calories at one point. Two months later, I weighed 195 lbs. Yeah, I got pretty fat. So what? I also added a good bit of LBM and achieved the goal I wanted.

The moral of the story: if you want to grow, being pudgy is the sacrifice you must make. Lean bulking does not work well for ectomorphic guys. Eat now, worry about dieting it off later.

There’s also something to be said for the kids that come in and lift Monday through Thursday, come pump the guns and shoulders before they hit the club on Friday, and then spend the weekend partying. Hey, I was there once. It’s fun. But it’s also not the best environment to grow either. If you’re coming in with a hangover til Tuesday and eating like crap 3-4 days out of seven, big shock but you’re not setting yourself up for progress. I’m not a teetotaler by any means, but there is a balance point and a lot of these guys are on the wrong side of the line.

15. BC: What are the best three assistance exercises for bringing up one’s bench press?

MP: Dumbbell bench for high reps, tricep work for high volume, and some kind of overhead work.

16. BC: Do you believe that most people could considerably raise their bench press by focusing on rowing strength for a month or two?

MP: If the upper back is a limiting factor, it certainly won’t hurt. Given that your average bench jockey does little to no scapula-stabilizing back work and limits back work to pulldowns and machine rows, it’s certainly possible.

17. BC: Do you believe that the power clean can be used effectively as a deadlift builder?

MP: Yes, as per above: if you use it as a light or speed kind of training, I think it can work very well.

18. BC: What are your favorite ab/core exercises? Do you believe that core strength limits many people in squat and deadlift strength?

MP: Weighted decline or GHR situps and heavy side bends, without question. If you’re talking about a guy that’s got to stand up and move, throw in something to train rotation like Russian twists, woodchops, or full-contact twists, and something with bodyweight like planks, leg raises, dragon-flags, and rollouts with the wheel.

Core strength probably does limit a lot of people in the big lifts. The old wisdom is that these lifts tend to build core strength as you train them, and I do find that this is true to a point. But I’ve also found that I can benefit from at least a few sets of weighted situps and/or side-bends, too. I don’t keep them in all the time but they are useful if I start to find myself getting soft in the midsection.

19. BC: What’s your take on back extensions and reverse hypers? Are they low back destroyers? Can you do them safely? Do they help build a strong deadlift?

MP: I love back extensions (or hypers as I’ve called them in earlier responses). A lot of the old-time lifters were big on these, and Bill Starr in particular suggested to make them a mainstay if you want a strong lower back. I like them for both high-rep sets and weighted. I’m not sure if they carry over directly to the deadlift, but they do help with lower back strength and stamina, which can’t hurt.

Reverse hypers I’m on the fence about. If my gym had one, I’d use it. I like the way it feels when done for high reps. I couldn’t see ever using it as a strength move, though. I doubt I’d ever buy one; it’s a big specialized piece of equipment that costs a lot of money for little benefit in return. If you want to do the move, you can do it well enough on other equipment at the gym, maybe using bands for resistance.

20. BC: If someone’s goal is solely to raise their powerlifting total, do they need to perform overhead presses and chins?

MP: They don’t absolutely need to, no. That said, it would be rare for me to drop these exercises because I feel they both offer benefits that are hard to duplicate.

Overhead presses obviously work the triceps and shoulders. Surprisingly, I’ve found that the contraction of the traps that you get at the top of the lift has made my shoulders feel a whole lot better (which isn’t surprising, since most of my shoulder problems can be traced to dysfunctional scapular positioning).

Chins, same thing. You don’t need them in the strictest sense, but there’s something to be said for having the lat and mid-back strength necessary to move your bodyweight around (or even weight on top of that). You can never have too much back strength to support the bench, in my opinion. Chins also work the hell out of the grip, which is useful.

21. BC: What are the major things that annoy you about the fitness industry?

MP: If I had to summarize it, it’s the general lack of respect for knowledge and lack of critical thinking among most would-be professionals. That leads to most everything that I could complain about. The whole field is built on regurgitating quasi-truthful factoids that often have little or no basis in reality.

The mainstream fitness industry is about worship of superficiality to the exclusion of substance, and the fact that knowledge is judged by appearance. Half the industry is dominated by fitness models that look amazing, but can’t tell you anything about training or diet that doesn’t require a big dose of AAS.

The other half is book-educated guys that don’t have the context of actually training themselves, or anyone else, but want to tell you how you’re doing things wrong. Whether we like it or not, exercise science academia has a vast gulf between it and solid training practices. A degree should be the very beginning of a coach or trainer’s education, not the end of it.

Everybody wants to be an expert, but few are willing to put in the real time and effort to truly learn and think. You wind up with a lot of people that may mean well, but often know a lot less than they think and do more harm than good with dogmatic thinking. Somewhere in the middle there’s this tiny subset of guys that know what they’re talking about and mostly stay under the radar.

I’ve done my share of yelling and stomping my feet about deceptive marketing and garbage claims made by the industry, and that’s not substantially different. It’s the flip side of the coin, painting authority when there is no authority and abusing what should be a position of trust held by a professional. I’m not as hostile about this as I once was, but it is still irritating if I think about it too much. I don’t like the fact that success and credibility are a function of marketing more than competence. But it is what it is, and sitting around yelling about it won’t do anything to change that.

If there’s one thing that has been consistent as I train myself and others year-in and year-out, it’s that I’m constantly reminded how little I really know. As I get older and more experienced with different goals and different solutions, I’ve come to realize that a lot of what we argue over is just trivial. It doesn’t matter that some guy wants to go train with a body-part split instead of three full body workouts. It doesn’t matter that some girl wants to go do Crossfit instead of my preferred mode of exercise. It doesn’t matter that you prefer Program A and I prefer Program B. All of that stuff is just not important.

I think that the field, collectively, needs to realize that we don’t know everything, we can’t know everything, and that there aren’t always right or wrong answers. If you’re happy doing what you’re doing and you’re getting results, great. Keep your damn fool mouth shut and let others do the same. That goes for me, too.

22. BC: Who are your “go-to” guys for strength training knowledge? What about nutritional knowledge? Name your top five favorite strength training books?

MP: To talk strength training, we’ve got a great group of guys down here in Kiwi-land that are strong, well-read, and always trying to pick up more to improve, so those guys are great to bounce ideas off. I’ve cut out almost all of my internet foruming in the last six months, but I do still hang around a few sites that have some big brute guys that talk shop, which is informative from time to time. I’m interested in what lifters are actually doing, and you’ll never learn more than from lifting with other strong guys. I know that’s clichéd to say, but it’s true. Research and book-knowledge give you some unique insight, a way to put things in context, but it’s never a replacement for getting out there and doing it yourself or seeing what other guys are doing.

Besides that, I love reading about old-school lifters. There have been some very impressive strength athletes and bodybuilders in the last 100 years, and I think it’s a shame that most people don’t bother paying attention to that knowledge. The practical side of strength training is an area that isn’t that ripe for any kind of revolution or innovation. Any new knowledge is more explanatory than anything else, a matter of figuring out why things are working rather than saying what should or should not be done in the gym. What we don’t do is come up with anything truly new. Looking back to guys that were getting strong back in the early 1900s and on into the 1970s can teach you all you’d ever need to know; even raw and raw-ish lifters don’t train much differently from those old-timers. Which is why it’s just about impossible to name all my influences, because we’d be here all day.

When it comes to strength & exercise books, I’m a notoriously picky buyer. I’ve got Supertraining and Zatsiorsky’s Science and Practice. When it comes to understanding strength in detail, you simply won’t find anything better. It’s not an interview unless you mention those two books. Other than that, it really depends on what you’re after. As far as science-related stuff, there’s really not a lot out there that isn’t very niche info (like the Russian manuals or some stuff on periodization) or a mainstream info-product which I tend to ignore.

Practical books, I can list a few more than five here. Pavel’s books “Power to the People” and “Beyond Bodybuilding” are full of gold, as is Steve Justa’s “Rock, Iron, Steel”. Mike Tuchscherer’s “Reactive Training Manual” is virtually a must-read to learn about his system of autoregulation. Jim Wendler’s recent 5/3/1 manual is something that should be required reading for just about everybody. I like Bill Starr’s book “The Strongest Shall Survive”, and also the successor “Practical Programming” by Rippetoe and Kilgore.

Reading and digesting those will teach you just about anything you’d care to know about lifting. Easier said than done, mind you.

23. BC: What are your favorite lifting programs and periodization schemes? There aren’t many people in this world who know more than you about this topic.

MP: The trend with periodization, like my thoughts on everything else, has been toward simplicity. It’s tempting to look at the multi-year plans of advanced athletes and think we should copy that, but it’s just not the case. I don’t think the average person, even a strong person, has much need to plan more than a month or so ahead unless he or she is peaking for a contest.

Complex periodization cycles exist because a lot of athletes have to juggle lots of training goals. Strength training is just one part of the overall workout scheme, and many times not even an important one. When you have that to deal with, the equation can get pretty hairy. Lifters don’t have that problem, and would do better to ignore most of the complex plans. Getting stronger is just a matter of tinkering with progressive overload so you get occasional peaks and valleys.

All you need is some kind of simple, fool-proof system that builds those peaks and valleys (training cycles) into it. The simpler this system is, the better off you’ll be; less opportunity to screw up means less screwing up. This process of working up to a peak and then backing off is the essence of periodization. All the rest is details.

The best, most productive systems I’ve ever used have been these four things:

1. Straight linear cycles over 6-8 weeks.

2. Mini “wave” cycles over a month.

3. Heavy/light/medium training like the 5×5 Texas method or Starr’s original system.

4. Some kind of daily autoregulated training cycles.

The first one is pretty obvious. Start at 65 or 70%, add weight each week until you peak. Take a new max and start over. There’s a lot of ways to go about this. Traditionally, linear programs had you doing sets of 8-12 reps at the early stages and then dropping reps, but I don’t like that for stronger people. I think you can stick to fives for squat and bench (maybe threes or even singles for the DL) and just do multiple (4-6) sets. As the weight increases, drop the number of sets back, and once you reach a 5RM, start dropping the reps back until you peak. Bashing linear is en vogue, but it works and a lot of guys have gotten very strong using it.

Wave-like mini-cyling is basically what Wendler’s 5/3/1 workout does. You have four weeks in a month, so you go easy, hard, hardest. The fourth week is an optional deload or easy week if you need it; if not, you start over. You get one peak each month, then you back off and repeat. Here again there are lots of ways to do it. You might go for a 5-8RM, then a 3-5RM, then a 1-3RM. The 5/3/1 uses planned percentages, and you go all-out on the top set of the day. I’ve done something similar using Prilepin’s table to give me a starting percentage and rep-range for the day. Boris Sheiko’s powerlifting workouts would fall under this as they use mini-waves as well. Again specifics don’t really matter, as long as you’ve got something halfway intelligent and consistent to spit out numbers. The idea is that each mini-cycle is a little heavier than the last, so that’s how you measure progress.

The third program is in my experience one of the better programs a person could do. It will end up looking somewhat like the linear cycle if you do it right, with regular peaks followed by back-offs to reset the weights. The big difference here is that you stick to a fixed set/rep pattern, instead of dropping the sets and reps as the weight increases. The variation between volume and intensity-type workouts makes it easier to keep progress going. You may have also heard this called “daily undulating periodization”.

The fourth option I’m listing only for completeness, because 1. it can apply to a lot of different systems and 2. I don’t know if it will benefit most people. It works for my circumstances, but I’ve also got over 10 years of experience in knowing how I respond to things. Your mileage may vary. This system is pretty simple: you show up, bust ass with the basic lifts, and go home. Some days are harder than others, as determined by your performance. Rest days are also determined by how you feel. I’ve got my own set of guidelines that determines how things go on the day, which meet the “hard to screw up” requirement. The rule-set is what governs how heavy you go and how much work you do, and it requires that you be aware of what’s happening and willing to act on it. Not everybody can or will do that.

You can adjust this into cycles by making the training more volume-heavy for 6-8 weeks, then spending 3-4 weeks doing fewer sessions and pushing to a peak. I also try to build in a light week for every 3-4 weeks of hard training, and a week off out of every eight weeks or so.

This is how I prefer to train now, with the whole thing autoregulated. I like this system because it’s flexible and one of the more effective things I’ve tried. Just be warned that flexibility is not always a benefit to beginners and intermediates; you have to be able to make judgment calls that either require experience or an experienced coach. Sometimes structure is a good thing, and the first three options I listed are always solid choices that will never stop working.

24. BC: Discuss what you’d do differently if you were training solely for mass vs. solely for strength? There’s certainly tremendous overlap but would you alter the frequency, exercise selection, number of sets, rep ranges, rest time between sets, etc.?

MP: That’s easy. Higher reps on average, higher volume on average, and probably a slightly lower frequency most of the time. I think I would focus on doing two kinds of workouts: one that was high volume or density-type training with sets of 5-6 reps (maybe triples), and another that was more traditional bodybuilder pump-volume.

The heavy density stuff would stick to squats, benches, rows, military press, chins, and maybe something like a GM or Romanian DL. Pavel had a great scheme for this, called the Bear: you work up to a daily 5RM, take 90% for a set of 5, then 80% for fives until you fatigued. You could do this with triples just as easily. The other option is to set aside a block of say 15-25 minutes and just do sets of 5-6 at 70-75%, or triples at 80% until you get fatigued or until time runs out.

Pump-volume went out of style for awhile but it’s starting to make a comeback now. I think this is more important for the show muscles of the upper body than it is for legs, but for whatever reason doing higher-rep assistance work with dumbbells or even machines seems to do nice things for the overall size and development of the upper body. Where I’d differ from the Flex type suggestions is to keep the exercise selection sane. If it’s an upper-body pushing day, then do a DB bench, a shoulder side raise, and a tricep exercise. If it’s back/pulling, do a chinup or row, DB shrugs, and then one good curl exercise. Pick solid, effective exercises and then just do say 3-5 sets of 10-12 reps. The goal isn’t to train with “high intensity” or train towards a point of failure, but to complete all the reps.

Another thing that may be worth exploring is the vascular occlusion approach. As I’ve written before, I don’t see this as a reason to start tying off your arms and legs with a tourniquet. Instead, I think this is validation of older bodybuilding methods like drop-sets and moderate-tempo, constant-tension training — all that stuff bodybuilders like to do that pushes the working muscle into fatigue. The idea is to keep the muscle contracted as long as possible, even with light weights (or progressively lighter weights as you get tired). This could even mean doing isometrics or very small ROM movements. This is something I’d probably throw in at the end of a session, after the main work is done, as a kind of finisher.

How you set this up is largely an exercise left to the reader, but I would say that I would lean towards being in the gym at least four and probably five days a week, trying to hit each muscle group at least twice if not three times. Layne Norton has an excellent template that has you doing two “strength” days and two or three “pump” days, with suggestions that aren’t terribly off what I laid out here. You could also rig up some kind of undulating program with A/B/C workouts that rotate across the four or five training days each week. You could do the old classic which is built around the big lifts on an upper/lower schedule, with the big lifts done heavy and then body-part work done for pump-volume. There are a lot of options, and I’m not of the opinion that the split itself is that important in the scheme of things.

I suggest this so that you’re getting tension-time overload from both the heavy weights and from the strength-endurance angle, and because it’s important to train a muscle more directly if you want it to grow. I know that’s counter to a lot of what we hear about exercise minimalism, some of which I agree with, but if you’re talking a non-beginner that’s after muscle, that’s what it takes. You need to focus on the big lifts as a framework, but this doesn’t mean you should ignore the detail work if you’re trying to maximize LBM gains.

I’ve had some discussion lately about training each muscle group very frequently, 3-6 times a week, for say 3-6 weeks, then backing off to a more sane schedule for 2-3 weeks to allow adaptation. That might be worth exploring for big guys that are really near the genetic asymptote. The more advanced you become, the more your body will respond to large variations in stimulus like that.

25. BC: I could ask you questions all day but I’ll cut it off at 25 just so you don’t hate me. Last question: How in the hell did you end up in New Zealand and do you ever see yourself moving back to the United States? Thank you very much for taking the time to conduct this interview Matt! It is much appreciated.

MP: Long story short, I met and got married to a nice Kiwi girl a few years ago. We spent a few years in Australia, and then decided to move here (home for her). I really enjoy it here (here including NZ and Australia both), and barring something major I don’t see myself moving back to the States. It’s a more relaxed pace of life which not everyone will enjoy, but it fits me just fine.

No problem Bret, I always like the chance to sit down and run my mouth.

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Interview With Jeff Cubos

1. For those of you who haven’t yet heard of Jeff Cubos, he’s an extremely intelligent and knowledgeable guy! I follow him on Twitter and read his blog. Jeff, please introduce yourself to the readers! Include qualifications, certifications, education, etc.

Thanks for the interview Bret. I’m truly honored to be able to share some thoughts and ideas with you and your readers and since I know your site is an educational one, hope I can provide some information that people can take away with them. To cut to the chase, I am a sport chiropractor but if you want the whole shebang, I am a Bachelor of Physical Education & Health, a Master of Science in Kinesiology & Health Science, a Doctor of Chiropractic, and a Fellow of the Royal College of Chiropractic Sports Sciences. Now for those that really care, I also hold my ICSSD and my CSCS. I have a number of other certifications and qualifications but these are mostly “tools” in my toolbox and I am of the belief that no matter how sharp your tools are, they mean very little if you use them when they are not indicated.

2. Many strength coaches are somewhat skeptical about chiropractors. How do you feel about this topic and what do you think that chiropractors should be doing to “raise the bar” for the profession?

To be honest with you, I can’t blame them. I can honestly say that I have encountered a lot of red tape simply for the fact that I am a chiropractor and for this I have to thank my ancestors. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of who I AM, just not always proud of the letters that lie in between “E” and “B”. Having said that, I think every profession contains a few bad apples and there are two primary reasons for this: 1) a lack of integrity and 2) a lack of knowledge.

The latter, I cannot lay full blame. They simply do not know what they do not know. As a result, dogma overrules and the treatment approach is very philosophical and emotional. The former, on the other hand, is simply as a result of $$$. Some individuals basically utilize their privileges as a means to achieve financial prosperity.

Now I will change gears and state that the chiropractic profession IS changing. Thanks to a select group of pioneers, we are now making headway and working hard to right the wrong. We can thank several institutions for this. CMCC (my alma mater) in particular, is leading the way with an evidence-based approach that hopefully will allow me to one day state without any reservation that chiropractic is the profession of choice for manual therapy.

So to answer your question about what we, as a profession, should be doing to raise the bar I would have to have to say that we need to make a commitment to stay in a continual pursuit of knowledge. If we do so then I think we’ll be ok.

3. What do you like to do for continuing education and how do you go about learning new stuff? In other words, what are your favorite conferences/seminars, journals, websites, blogs, authors, coaches, etc.?

In my opinion, the most important aspect of one’s continuing education is the development of a system. What I mean by that is it is very easy to read this, intern here, mentor there, attend that, and so on. Patrick Ward recently wrote a piece called Lost in Translation and I think he hit it bang on. We need to learn with intent. Let me say that again,

WE NEED TO LEARN WITH INTENT!

For those still in school, you need to shadow. Shadow a variety of people in your profession and just be a french toast fly on the wall. Soak it all up.

For the new grads, read your texts. Get the big picture. Put yourself in a position to understand the recently published article that you think you need to read. Let me give you an example for us in the medical professions: That orthopaedic special test for the glenohumeral labrum that has 100% specificity and sensitivity means squat if you don’t know the basic biomechanics of the shoulder.

For those that are starting to climb the ladder, brush up on your stats. Learn how to read the research. Just because an article was published doesn’t mean it is valid. If you need help with this, just ask Mark Young. And if you’re one who just reads abstracts and conclusions, please (and respectfully) do us all a favor consider another profession. Thank you!

For those of you who are riding the waves, develop your own system. So to answer your question, here’s my system:

• I surround myself with like-minded and more intelligent individuals to learn off of and bounce ideas with.
• I read books to conceptualize and get an overall picture.
• I attend lectures, seminars, workshops, and conferences – but only when I have pre-read the literature put forth by that particular speaker. Otherwise, the information would just go over my head.
• I read blogs and forums to stay in the know. One of the biggest limitations of many individuals is not knowing what they don’t know. Being familiar with the internet puts you in a position to at least KNOW what you don’t know.

Now for specifics. At random, my favorites (both new and old) are: sportsrehabexpert.com, hockeystrengthandconditioning.com, strengthcoach.com, researchreviewservice.com, SWIS symposiums, mikereinold.com, ericcressey.com, charlieweingroff.com, Pubmed (sorry, too many journals to name so I’m taking the easy way out), clinical rehabilitation specialists, Chaitow’s chat, RobertsonTraining Systems, PT Think Tank, Warren Hammer, Joe’s Training Room, Mark Young Training Systems, Dr. Yessis, Sweat Science, Optimumsportsperformance.com, boddickerperformance.com, Movement Science, KevinNeeld.com, and obviously your site. I frequent many others as well but Big Brother is on and I can’t stay on the computer all night.

4. In general, what are some things that you feel strength coaches today are doing well?

Expanding their knowledge and pushing the boundaries.

I have to commend strength coaches both young and old for rising to the occasion and becoming prominent figures in sport. It wasn’t too long ago when we had the coach, the doctor/trainer, and the equipment guy. While this industry still has a long way to go, the artistic application of the sciences has not only provided us with athletes that are more powerful, but also at less risk of injury. Further, when you have strength coaches education medical professionals on how to prevent injury…that’s a phenomenal thing!

5. In general, what are some things that you feel that strength coaches today are not doing well?

Expanding their knowledge and stepping over the boundaries.

Unfortunately, we also have a small issue of “trying to do too much”. As someone who works full time in a clinical setting, most strength coaches would not want me to take an athlete post-rehabilitation and start training them for athletic performance. Conversely, if an athlete has an injury, I would expect them to referred to a physical therapist, chiro, athletic trainer or doc for proper care. That is why we have the different professions in the first place. From a SCFE to an avulsion fracture to a deep vein thrombosis, it only take one mis-managed athlete to screw up. And remember, insurance only covers one for what is in their scope of practice.

6. Rapid Response Time:

Place of Birth: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Current City of Residence: Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada

Favorite Type of Music: Treating patients – classical. Warming up – hip hop. Training – metal. Driving – culture reggae. Hanging with the wife – new country.

Favorite 3 Movies: The Rock, Point Break & American Pie

Favorite 3 Exercises: Front squat, hang clean, hip thrust (not because of you but because of all the looks I get in the gym from BOTH genders).

Favorite Type of Food: Mom’s cooking (Filipino food)

Favorite Type of Training: Cycling (for triathlons)

Favorite Sport to Play: Lacrosse

Favorite Sport to Watch: Hockey

Biggest 3 Influences: Ed Ratz, Jess Cubos, Myself (that is not a lie, I can honestly say that my drive, determination, and desire comes from within – hope you all don’t take that the wrong way).

Favorite 3 Books:

Athletic Injuries & Rehabiliation – Zachazewski
Einstein: His life and universe – Isaacson
Rich Dad Poor Dad – Kiyosaki

7. Thank you very much for the interview Jeffrey!!! Before you go, do you have any projects in the near future, and where can readers find out more about you?

Thanks for the opportunity, Bret. My first project is to expand on questions 4 & 5 and I intend to do so via question and answer in your comments section. I have a ton of opinions on these topics but believe an interactive discussion is necessary to fully explain myself. As for “real” projects, I am really contemplating further study. I have a ton of questions that I want answered and would love the opportunity to address these via a PhD in rehab sciences. I’m not sure if and when this will happen but it is a strong consideration. In particular, I really want to examine the true predictive ability for risk identification of several screening and testing tools that are out on the market but with relatively little supportive evidence. As for more information about myself, I enjoy spending time jotting down thoughts on jeffcubos.com.

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For those of you who aren’t familiar with Dr. Perry Nickelston, he’s a rising star in the fitness field who loves to learn, loves to help others, and loves fitness. This is a very heartfelt and inspiring interview, I hope you enjoy it. -Bret

1. So Dr. Perry, you are a chiropractor yet you seem to be very skilled in the arts of physical therapy and strength & conditioning. How did you get so damn smart?

Haha…well thank you for the compliment my friend. My mottos is; ‘Never stop learning!’ Learning is a passion for me. I am an avid reader and researcher. I make it a point to learn as much as I can to help my patient’s. I read 2-3 books a week. I listen to podcasts, read blogs (like your awesome blog), listen to CD’s in my car, watch videos, attend conferences, and make it a point to absorb myself in the profession I love. You can learn something new from anyone. You must be open to new things and be willing to share with others. I like to call my type of treatment Integrative Medicine. It is the perfect name for combining and using any and all types of therapies to help change a person’s life. There is never just ONE perfect technique or training program.

Fitness and working out have been a passion of mine since I was 14 years old. I started out lifting the old cement covered weights from Joe Weider in my basement. Yes I am that old. My workouts were based in traditional bodybuilding trying to pack on muscle to look like Arnold Shwarzenneger. After reading Arnold Schwarzenneger’s autobiography I had a new vision of what the body can be. It changed my life and how I viewed myself. I was a very fat and obese kid growing up and I changed how I looked based on Arnold’s teachings. Bodybuilding was the catalyst for my entire life evolving into a new sense of confidence and empowerment. I understand the pain of not liking how you look and not liking how you feel about yourself. Because I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of being overweight, I dedicate myself to helping others who may feel this way.

Because of my love for fitness, all of my Pain Laser Movement Centers are located inside health clubs. So I get to work inside my ultimate playground all day. Talk about fun! The gym equipment is my rehab room. Plus, my patients see me walking my talk. Everything that I teach others to do, they see me doing. I am a living testament to the success of my programs. Once a client is done with my treatments, I transition them to a personal trainer that can take them to the next level of body awareness and development.

2. Obviously you’re a huge advocate of the FMS. Describe how the functional movement screen drives your methodology.

Looking at movement has changed everything that I do as a clinician. About 6-years ago I read Gray Cook’s book ‘Athletic Body in Balance’ and it blew me away. I started looking at the body in a totally different way. It was a paradigm shift for me in regards to how I trained and also how I evaluated/treated patients. I began implementing the strategies in that book and the results were amazing. I never learned this stuff in chiropractic school. They do not teach this form of evaluation in medicine. I began using his techniques and combined them in a unique way with my deep tissue laser, soft tissue therapies (ART, MFR, TP, etc.), manipulation and corrective exercise.

I then created my own system of this combination called RRTT™. A few years ago, a friend of mine suggested I reach out to Gray Cook and tell him how much I loved his work and the success I was having by combining it with laser therapy. So I said, why not. I sent an e-mail to Gray, and the following day he called me! I mean, I almost fell to the floor in disbelief. I never expected he would contact me. We hit it off immediately and talked for hours. He is a good old boy from the South like me. I was born and raised 30-minutes from his headquarters in Danville, VA. We both have the same southern accent. Lol Turns out he was actually looking to learn more about laser therapy and the timing was perfect. I was flabbergasted when he invited me down to his clinic in Virginia to show him the laser. Of course I booked a flight that day and went down to spend about 3-days with him, and man did I soak up that knowledge. Gray ended up getting the same laser I use and I trained him on the techniques. So in his Danville, VA clinic he also uses the LiteCure LCT-1000 deep tissue laser like me.

I have since gotten certified in the FMS and the SFMA (Selective Functional Movement Assessment) which is the medical version of the FMS. This can only be taken by a healthcare provider. It is a much more in depth evaluation of someone who is in pain that needs to have a clinical diagnosis/assessment. I believe in the principles of FMS/SFMA and it is the core foundation of my treatment system. From the moment I left Gray Cook’s clinic, I knew that this is what I would be destined to teach others. I think the secret to success in fitness, training, medicine, healthcare, and everything in life comes down to having a core ‘System’ to follow. So many people are looking for the next big fad and new way to do something. They end up all over the place with no clear system in place to work with their clients. I recommend finding or creating a system that works for what your goals are.

Don’t get me wrong, I encourage people to always learn new and innovative ways to make themselves better at their chosen profession. I simply stress to them that when learning something new, they begin thinking of how this information can be integrated into their current system. Don’t scrap the entire system and start from scratch every time you see something cool. The FMS and SFMA are my foundational systems. Every patient starts from the FMS/SFMA and then I branch out to other things in my arsenal when necessary.

3. Who are your top influences in regards to your beliefs and practice as a fitness and health professional?

As I mentioned previously Arnold Schwarzenneger was the biggest early influence for me in fitness. I still follow his principles today. They are base foundational strategies that are timeless and when applied correctly they work. I grew up in the old school era of fitness. The industry today is so different than when I first started. Some other people that influenced me early on were Lou Ferrigno, Frank Zane, Dave Draper, Lee Labrada and Franco Columbo. Today there is an entirely new perspective on working out, fitness and health. I am constantly learning new things from fitness professionals.

In all honesty, I truly believe that most fitness professionals know more than the average doctor about exercise, fitness, health, and nutrition. Fitness professionals on are the front lines with people who are experiencing aches and pains with movement dysfunctions. I have met some truly brilliant trainers that have taught me a lot. Some of my influences today include Gray Cook (he is my mentor and opened my eyes to a new paradigm shift in clinical thinking). Whatever Gray says, I do! Pretty simple strategy actually. He is in my opinion the foremost expert on movement, and the most brilliant diagnostician and clinician I have ever met. I follow the work of Alwyn Cosgrove, Coach Robert Dos Remedios, Todd Durkin, Mark Verstegen, Joe Dowdell, Lee Burton, Dr. Mark Cheng, YOU (Bret Contreras), Carson Boddicker, Eric Cressey, Mike Reinold, Joe Heiler, Anthony Renna, Charlie Weingroff and many others. I could literally fill up an entire page of people that I have learned from, but you get the idea.

Mark Verstegen’s Core Performance book changed it all for me on what training really means. I personally completed his Core Performance program about 5 years ago and it gave me a totally new perspective on training. My body moved and felt better than ever before. I knew this was the wave of the future in training. There are so many passionate and innovate fitness professional that share information and that is one of the primary reasons I love this industry. Everyone in the fitness industry does it because they love it. You can sense the passion and the energy when you around them. In the world of traditional medicine you get nothing like that at all.

4. What do you like to do for continuing education?

I do it all. I never stop learning and I don’t take a course or a class just so I can get the obligatory CEU credits. I take it because I want to be the best at what I do. The internet has really opened up the options for continuing education via webinars, online courses, podcasts and videos. A part of your yearly income should be set aside for education and professional improvement. I can tell you one thing for sure, if you are not taking the time to learn and make yourself better, I guarantee your competition is and they are going to steamroll right over you. I highly recommend taking education courses that focus on business success and communication skills.

This is the biggest mistake that I see new doctors and new trainers making every year. I know you may love what you do and you may even be the best in the world at it, however if you cannot run a business or build relationships with people you WILL struggle. You are ultimately in the people business. And that is built on a foundation of building relationships. Attending conferences and workshops is my opportunity to network and build relationships with people that I admire and share my passion.

One of the biggest keys to success is reading. There’s a reason successful people read more books. Build a library and study. I don’t simply read; I study. I highlight passages and refer back to them over and over. Buy DVD’s and CD’s to watch and listen whenever you can find a free moment. Stop watching television and invest in yourself. One of my favorite inspirational people is professional success coach Zig Ziglar. Zig talks about what he calls ‘Automotive University’. It is the school inside your car. Instead of listening to mindless radio on your drive time, stick in an audio resource to teach you something new. It can be on finance, fitness, self improvement, nutrition, cooking, or anything else you want to learn. Do that for an entire year, and you can make yourself an expert on just about anything. Soak up the knowledge every moment you can find.

5. You are known as “The Laser Doctor.” How did you become known as that?

Well, I just sort of started calling myself that name. I liked the way it sounded. Haha. I started using laser therapy many years ago when the United States Food and Drug Administration approved its use in the US. Cold laser Class 3 therapy was approved in 2001 and high power Class 4 laser was approved in 2004. I use the most powerful Deep Tissue Class 4 laser in the country and have dedicated myself to teaching other physicians how to apply it successfully in their practice. I use laser therapy for every condition in my office and it is a primary part of my movement rehabilitation program.

I have never found a condition that did not benefit in some way from deep tissue laser therapy. I work with the fascial system a lot in my treatments and the laser light is able to reach fascial areas that cannot be treated by hand. So the deeper fascia can now be helped with this form of therapy and the results are literally astounding. Due to the cellular healing effects of laser I can make a drastic impact on recovery, regeneration, durability and reduce the risk of future injury because it strengthens the collagen matrix of tissue.

6. I see that you also know a thing or two in regards to nutrition in relation to hormonal health and optimization. Tell the readers a couple of things that they should know about hormonal health and what they can do in order to be proactive in this regard.

Five years ago I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. It was a malignant tumor which spread to my lymphatic system and I had the entire gland removed with most of the lymph nodes in my neck. Looking back, I had suffered from signs of low thyroid (inability to lose weight, depression, lethargy, fatigue, tiredness and many other symptoms) for many years. Yet even being in the healthcare field I was not observant enough to check my hormones until I woke up with a baseball size goiter on my anterior neck. I knew immediately it was a thyroid problem.

I had the surgery and went on Synthroid meds since I had no thyroid gland anymore. I started to feel better and the symptoms began to fade, until I started experiencing very bad hot flashes and dizzy spells. I would just be standing and talking to someone and fall right to the ground passing out. They checked me for everything (brain tumors, heart problems, circulation, and more). Yet everything came out negative but I was still having the symptoms. And they just told me I had to live with it! Say what? Not an acceptable answer.

So I began to research hormones (I love learning remember) and learned everything I could about how the endocrine system works on the body. The intricate relationship between one hormone to another is fascinating. Wow! What an education. I realized everything comes down to hormones. I discovered my underlying problem was adrenal gland fatigue. It is a syndrome that affects most everyone, but the medical profession does not look at it until it is at a life threatening stage. The adrenal gland hormones are primary biological mediators and control the way other hormones are synthesized by the body. Once I started healing the adrenals with nutrition, certain exercise programs, supplementation and stress reduction activities my symptoms disappeared! Imagine that?

I realized how many people were also suffering from this condition and then I began treating people for it with great success. My website www.stopchasingpain.com has an entire section about the adrenals on the page about hormone balance. I teach that food and exercise act like a drug, in that they effect body chemistry and hormone balance. Every time you eat something hormones react, either positively or negatively depending on several factors (nutrient timing, food combinations, amount, and how often you eat). The type of exercise you choose should be conducive to your fitness goals, and your nutrition guidelines will ultimately change based on that goal.

For example, a tri-athlete will eat and train totally different than someone who is looking to lose weight and gain lean muscle tone. What I recommend for every person is to take a hormone symptom survey to see the basic landscape of your hormone system…how are they interacting together? People are too quick to blame just one or two hormones for everything, such as insulin and Cortisol, without looking at the relationship these two hormones have on many others.

There is a fantastic book called Ultimate You written by Joe Dowdell and Brooke Kalanick, ND that talks about this hormone relationship. It is a cutting edge book that I highly recommend. I also encourage people to get a saliva test to evaluate your adrenal system. Saliva is the best way to test for free hormones in your body and the only way to accurately test the adrenal system. You can click here to visit the page on my website for the Hormone Symptom Survey. It’s really simple, the more checkmarks you have, the worse your hormone system is and then you have an indication of what needs to be addressed.

7. I’m pleased to see that you’re a fellow glute-afficionado. What do you do to get your client’s glutes working to their full-effect?

Well I have to give you mad props here Bret. I purchased your e-book on glutes and was blown away by how much great information was in there. Wow! Lots of pages in that book my friend. I learned many new things from you and I highly recommend everyone purchase that book. To me, the hip and glute complex is everything. It is the most critical and overlooked component of your core. Everyone who enters my office with a pain problem, movement dysfunction or disability has a hip complex glute problem. EVERYONE!

A basic foundation of my program is mandated that they all learn how to restore proper movement and function to the hip and glutes. Most of the time it is a locked down hip joint that has lost adequate mobility in all planes/vectors of motion and it is causing movement compensations in other areas of the body. Due to the proper lack of joint motion, the glute soft tissue and muscle complex becomes inhibited and altered firing patters occur, resulting in movement dysfunction. I always find massive amounts of trigger points (muscle knots) and soft tissue adhesions (scar tissue) in the hip complex. These must be released prior to joint mobility work, stability training or muscle activation drills in order for your body to neurologically remember how to hold movement.

There is a step by step ‘system’, (there goes that word again), for restoring mobility and stability to movement. In chiropractic I was taught that the spine is the primary center for restoring function, but I have since changed my paradigm to believe that the hip complex is the primary center of function. When I say function I mean movement function, not neurological. Why the hip? I have seen many people come to see me for chronic lower back pain and they have had everything in the world done to address that pain, including lots of manipulation.

Everybody has been treating the ‘site’ of ‘pain’ and not looking for the ‘source’ of pain. Big difference! Hence, the name of my business and the mantra for my treatment technique…Stop Chasing Pain. I always evaluate the hip and glutes because I know 99% of the time nobody has looked at it because it did not hurt. I free up the hip complex and the back pain resolves. It is a classic case of the body using a compensation pattern for movement. The hips were locked down, so the body increased movement in the lumbar spine to compensate and it was simply getting tired and worn out from overuse.

So all you gotta do is restore movement in the non-painful dysfunctional area (in this case the hips) and the body will do the rest. I have created a ‘system’ for body movement restoration called the RRTT™ System. It teaches the step by step principles I just briefly described here. The system shows you to take any athlete, evaluate 4 core areas of joint movement and soft tissue fascia for proper function and implement correctives to make a huge impact on body performance. It will be available soon via my website for anyone who wants to learn more and I will also be giving workshops and seminars on the techniques. I am hopefully presenting at the IDEA Summit next year and the Perform Better Summit on the system.

8. I loved all of your videos. You’ve done instructional videos, demonstrational videos, and even videos from your car! You like to use a variety of equipment and exercises to really hit all the “angles” or as I like to say, the “vectors.” Tell us why vector variation is important and how you train the various vectors.

Well I do love to shoot video. I am what you call a video junkie. It’s lots of fun and the feedback from fans has been awesome. My training, exercise, and rehabilitation programs are all based in vector and planes of motion movements. In fact it was your work on vector training that really caught my eye. Very few people understand the power and significance of training with vector movements. As a society most people do daily activities and exercise programs in the sagittal plane of movement (front to back). They sit all day at work, they sit in their car to and from work, and they go to the gym and then sit on equipment to exercise or get on aerobic equipment that is sagittal in motion.

So they set themselves up for movement dysfunction. Very rarely do they rotate, move side to side or up and down. If they did these vector movements in a workout, there would be a lot less people getting hurt and needing to see people like me. Not to mention that their physiques would look so much better and actually function properly too. The more muscles you use in a given movement, the more calories you burn and the more body fat you lose. So it makes sense to move in all vectors.

That’s why I love Ginastica Natural as a workout. In 10 minutes I go through every vector known to mankind and my body moves so much better. I also use the TRX suspension training system to work on vectors and can be used for varying degrees of difficulty. This way I can teach quality over quantity and have people ‘own’ the movement before they progress. All of my patients learn AIS Active Isolated Rope Stretching for joint vector movement. It is my favorite method of stretching because it can bring a joint through all planes of movement and really get good blood flow into the area. I use a PurMotion Functional Training station to work vectors. I have made several videos posted on my YouTube channel about the PurMotion.

9. Rapid Response Time:

Place of Birth: I am a Southern boy born in Martinsville, VA.

Current City of Residence: Turned into a Yankee living in New Jersey circa 1981

Favorite Type of Music: haha…child of the 80’s so I love the ‘Hair Metal’ bands. My all time favorite is ‘KISS’. My friends call me ‘Dr. Disco’ because I love disco music. All of my videos and podcasts start with the opening to the disco song’ Stomp’. It’s sort of my brand I guess.

Favorite 3 Movies: The Blade Series, Caddyshack, Pumping Iron

Favorite 3 Exercises: Anything with the TRX Suspension Trainer, the Turkish Get-Up, ropes

Favorite Type of Food: Italian. Pizza is my weakness…but I also love sushi. So they cross each other out on the nutrition scale right? lol

Favorite Type of Training: Metabolic Training and Circuit Training

Favorite Sport to Play: Love martial arts. I take Krav Maga every week.

Favorite Sport to Watch: Baseball…a diehard NY Yankee fan.

10. Thank you very much for the interview Dr. P! You are becoming popular very fast for great reasons; you seem extremely passionate and caring, you go the extra mile in terms of providing free quality information, and you know your stuff! What’s next in store for the Laser Doc and where can readers find out more about you?

Well, thank you so much my friend. I am honored. I love what I do and will always keep turning out information to help others. I live by the premise of giving. If you give of yourself with character, integrity, honor and passion, people will feed off that genuine energy. I learned a long time ago that people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. I live by that every day. Everything I do for my clients and patient’s I have experienced firsthand. I know it works and I believe in what I do with every fiber of my being.

All of the information I post on my blog, podcast, facebook, website, articles, videos, twitter is what I believe in and want to share with the world. I have several new projects in the works right now. I am working on a new fitness product with my very close friend Joe Dowdell of Peak Performance Gym in NYC. This is a recovery and regeneration based product that I believe will transform the industry.

I am also working on teaching the chiropractic profession about the FMS. I will be working directly with Gray Cook and Lee Burton in teaching chiropractors how to implement this system into their care programs. I am working on an e-book and a published book about my Stop Chasing Pain self treatment program.

If people want to learn more about me they can visit my website at www.stopchasingpain.com and on the homepage is a link to all of my social media sites. Or you can simply Google search my name and find all of the articles I have written for various nationwide magazines and journals. So if you want to find me, it’s really easy. Lol

Thank you Bret for the opportunity to share a little piece of my world with your readers. It is truly an honor to work with you, but more importantly to call you my friend. Next up is where I interview you for my podcast…haha.

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