Archive for the ‘Training Philosophy’ Category

If you’re an intelligent strength coach, then chances are you can relate to this article. In training athletes over the past several years, I’ve been very surprised by some of the stupid things that coaches do with their athletes. I’m also constantly amazed at things that former strength coaches have done with some of the athletes I’ve trained. Here are ten stupid things that coaches and strength coaches do with their athletes:

1. Exercise as Punishment

Strength coaches and coaches are supposed to have their programs planned ahead of time. There are many effective ways to plan and periodize programs, and a good coach prescribes the optimal amount of volume and intensity to yield the specific training effect. If on any given day a coach decides to punish his or her athletes with copious amounts of push ups, up-downs, stadiums, or jogging, then that coach doesn’t know what in the hell he or she is doing. If the coach has these “punishments” strategically built into the session in advance, then that’s a little bit better than just “winging it,” but here are three reasons why this strategy is detrimental to the athlete: 

  1. You don’t want athletes fearing exercise. You want them to enjoy training. Punishing them in this manner is not helpful.
  2. Second, performing excessive volume on any particular movement pattern can invoke too much fatigue and initiate the overreaching/overtraining process, or lead to stagnation or injury. At the very least it will hamper the workouts planned on the following couple of days.
  3. Endurance work interferes with power (Hakkinen et al. 2002). There’s a fine line between optimal stamina/power endurance/work capacity and maximum power production.

I’ve heard of some coaches who say, “I will break my athletes.” Athletes aren’t horses. I prefer to build my athletes up so they don’t break! Plan out the appropriate amount of stimulus that will spark positive adaptation, and discipline athletes in ways that don’t involve bringing more fatigue to the plate.

2. Twice-a-Day Workouts to Kick-Off the Season

Over the summer or during off-seasons, many athletes get lazy and sit around playing video games. In fact, many athletes don’t train at all during this time. Their coordination degrades, their tissues decrease in strength, and their levels of power, strength, and endurance plummet. As long as you gradually build them back up, athletes will quickly adapt to previous levels of fitness and structural integrity. Think of it as rehabilitation – you gradually increase the stimuli over the course of a month or so and voila! Your athletes are all healthy, strong and fit.

Taking an athlete who hasn’t trained all summer long and starting them off with 2 (I’ve even heard of 3x/days) strenuous workouts per day is absolutely asinine! Doing this for a couple of weeks is a sure-fire way to initiate overreaching, promote soft-tissue injuries, and delay strength and power gains. Some coaches feel that soreness is a prerequisite for results, which is a load of bull. You can certainly have your athletes train two or three times per day, as long as you take a couple of weeks to build up to these levels. Think of Milo of Crotona and gradually progress.


I’ve heard coaches say, “I have to shock them into adaptation.” I’ve had very much success with athletes by never “shocking” their bodies too much at one setting, and rarely getting them sore.

When I introduce a new exercise, I’m very conservative and I don’t let them push it too hard. I see how their bodies react and adjust accordingly. This is especially important for exercises known to create a lot of soreness such as heavy lunges, Bulgarian squats, deadlifts, and ab wheel rollouts. My goal is to never get my athletes too sore so that every workout can be productive, and so they never get overly-tight and bound-up.

3. Strength Training in the Early Morning

During sleep, compressive loading on the intervertebral discs is reduced, which allows the discs to absorb more fluid and increase in volume (Urban and McMullin 1988). During the day, this extra water is expelled as normal daily spinal loading and movement ensues. In the early morning, intradiscal pressure is 240% higher than prior to going to bed (Wilke et al. 1999). Furthermore, bending stresses are increased at the discs by 300% and at the ligaments of the neural arch by 80% due to  hydration and absence of creep (Adams et al. 1987).

As the day goes on, discs bulge more, become stiffer in compression, become more flexible in bending, becomes more elastic, have a higher affinity for water, and the likelihood of prolapse becomes more difficult (Adams et al. 1990).

Many strength coaches have their athletes training at 6:00 a.m, doing back squats, deadlifts, and sit ups. This is probably one hour after they athletes have risen from bed. The chances of sudden spinal disc or ligament injury or even subtle disc damage is greatly increased under this hyper-hydrated state. Either train later in the day, or create “low-back friendly routines” to decrease the risk of injury. If you can’t find a way to train at least 2-3 hours after the athletes have awakened, then here are some ways to decrease the likelihood of spinal injury during early-morning training:

  • prolonged warm-ups – spinal muscular contractions cause the majority of compressive loading, and the longer you can prolong heavy lifting while moving around, the more water will be pumped out of the discs so safer levels of hydration are reached
  •  front squats over back squats – although the compressive load is probably similar between the two lifts, as front squats involve higher anterior core contractions while back squats involve heavier loads and higher posterior core contractions, back squats involve greater forward trunk lean and encourage more forward bending which imposes higher shear and bending moments on the spine 
  • speed deadlifts or power cleans over deadlifts – although compressive loading may be similar in these movements due to similar core muscular contractions and higher speeds of execution, deadlifts encourage more forward bending which imposes higher shear and bending moments on the spine 
  • ditch the heavy bilateral lower body lifts – instead opt for Bulgarian split squats, reverse lunges, high step ups, and single leg RDL’s rather than heavy squats and deadlifts – you probably get 75% of the spinal loading due to less erector spinae contraction and lighter external loads
  • ditch the core training, or at least train the core at the end of the workout – compression, torsion, shear, and bending stresses are highly dangerous when the discs are hyper-hydrated, and even a presumably safe core exercise is not safe under these conditions

4. No Concern for Strength

I’ve heard many coaches say, “I don’t care about strength.” How many articles in support of the positive impact of strength in relation to power production need to be published before some of these idiotic coaches realize the importance of strength as it pertains to athletic performance? There is a huge relationship between strength, muscle cross-sectional area (CSA), myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoform composition, and rate of force development (RFD)(Tipton 2006).

If you are a coach and you don’t acknowledge the role of strength in improved athletic performance, then shame on you! Your athletes deserve much better.

5. Over-Focus on Strength

Many coaches are at the opposite end of the spectrum. Strength is all they care about, to the point where they stop doing “athletic things” in training and focus solely on heavy, slow lifts. If all you ever do is slow training your body will adapt by getting better at producing force over a prolonged interval. You want to be able to produce tremendous force over rapid or prolonged intervals, and there’s an optimal way to achieve this.

Strength training works best when trained concurrently along with sprints, plyometrics, ballistics, and agility work. Combined training is superior for the production of power in comparison to resistance training alone (Kostzamanidis et al. 2005).

6. No Auto-Regulation

Auto-regulatory training is vital to maximum performance. Recently it has been shown to be more effective than linear periodization (Mann et al. 2010). It can be used within any type of periodization system, and it simply involves paying attention to biofeedback, listening to what the body is saying, and adjusting accordingly. While I don’t like “cookie-cutter programs,” I am in support of flexible templates.

A good coach can create a great plan on paper, but the best coaches know how to stray from the plan when necessary. If the athlete is overly-sore, back off and train hard the following day. If the athlete didn’t sleep well or has a lot of stress in his or her life, take it easy. If the athlete is feeling great and is all jacked up, smoking the heaviest lift you planned for the day like it was cupcakes, then go heavier and try to set a new PR. Align the stimulus with their physiologic state and watch your athletes adapt more proficiently.

7. No Assessment/Screening/Evaluation

Many coaches have never learned how to assess joint range of motion or fundamental movement patterns. This is very sad, as many times all you have to do is improve flexibility in a particular direction in the hips, spine, ankles, or shoulders and it completely changes an athlete’s form on big lifts and cleans up poor movement patterns when running, jumping, throwing, and/or swinging.

Good form involves proper mobility, stability, and motor control. Any dysfunction in these three areas will reveal itself in movement. The quicker you can pinpoint this dysfunction and eliminate it, the faster your athletes will progress.

There are many ways to assess and screen athletes, but at the very least you should know what normal ranges of motion are in the ankles, hips, spine, shoulders, and neck. You should know what good form looks like in an overhead squat pattern, an active straight leg raise pattern, a push up, static lunge, glute bridge, standing knee raise, db overhead press, and bird dog.

Good coaches evaluate performance measures regularly. They know whether their athletes have gained or lost range of motion, coordination, strength, power, speed, and endurance. Testing can be worked its way into the program without interfering with the schedule. Evaluation is often what separates great coaches from good coaches.

Depending on the sport, you may want to test your athletes’: 

  • breathing patterns
  • posture
  • joint ROM’s
  • fundamental movement patterns
  • core stability endurance from all directions
  • vertical jump
  • broad jump
  • 10-meter sprint
  • 40-yard dash
  • backward medball toss
  • t-test
  • medball shotput
  • max bench
  • max squat
  • max deadlift, and
  • max chin up

One question I often ask trainers and coaches is, “How do you know your athletes are getting better?” Think about it. 

8. No Knowledge of Directional Load Vectors 

In sports we move in predictable directions. We jump, sprint, cut, backpedal, and rotate. These same directions need to be trained in the weightroom. Many times I’ll look at a coach’s program and all I’ll see is heavy sagittal plane lifts involving axial, anteroposterior, and posteroanterior vectors. 

The best coaches know how to get their athletes strong, powerful, and fast in all directions, which requires a good blend of strength, power, and reactive training from the various vectors. Axial, anteroposterior, posteroanterior, mediolateral, lateromedial, and torsional vectors should be trained in order to maximize athletic performance.


9. Poor Instincts About Form

There are three types of strength coaches: 

  1. Those who allow way too sloppy of form and expose their athletes to way too much risk at the expense of “going heavier”
  2. Those who are way too conservative and think that every repetition should look like a robot is performing the lift
  3. Those who know the perfect balance

The best strength coaches get their athletes very strong while using good form. I’d guess that 60% of coaches are too sloppy, 20% of coaches are too strict, and 20% have “the eye” for great form while simultaneously producing strong specimens. 

10. No Specialization and Individualization 

Your job as a coach is also to analyze the individual’s strengths and weaknesses in order to bring up their weak link, and to analyze their sport and position in order to create specific exercises and methods according to their needs. 

Routines shouldn’t be the same across the board. Every aspect of the routine should differ from one individual to the next. Each player should have their own warm-up consisting of individualized SMR, stretches, and mobility/activation drills. Each player should have their own power program consisting of sprints, plyos/ballistics, agility drills, and explosive lifts. Each player should have their own strength program consisting of heavy lifts from the various movement patterns and accessory movements for structural balance. 

No two athletes are the same in terms of anatomy, physiology, anthropometry, and psychology. Some players need extra mobility or stability work in a certain joint. Some players distribute stress evenly during lifting and can train heavy more frequently. Some just don’t recover fast and need more time between heavy or explosive bouts. 

Your role as a coach is to ask the athletes questions and learn about their responses to various acute training variables such as exercise selection, frequency, volume, and intensity. In time a good coach will adjust these variables depending on verbal and non-verbal feedback and performance indicators. 

If the coach is training a large volume of athletes and doesn’t have many assistants, then a general system can work well if considerable thought and detail is put into it, but it’s still not optimal. A general system may work best for the given situation, but a program could always be better if more individualization was developed and more assistance was provided from other specialists.    


I hope that coaches learned a thing or two from this article. While I’m proud of all the coaches, strength coaches, and personal trainers out there who care about and believe in their athletes enough to push them hard day in and day out, we should always strive to inject scientific principles into our programming and train in an optimal manner so our athletes achieve the best results possible.

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Today I wanted to write about a different kind of high volume training. After I finished grad school, I was looking to go in another direction (I used to teach high school math and science) and was seriously considering going to law school. I took the LSAT and began talking to other folks about becoming a lawyer. A lot of people advised me to take on a job as a public defender after I passed the bar so I could fast-forward my experience. They said, “Take on a job as a public defender and you’ll learn more in three years than you would in ten years of taking a job with a regular firm.” This is due to the fact that as a public defender you’d have so many cases thrown at you that it would expose you to incredible amounts of volume and variety.

Obviously, I never went to law school and instead decided to try my hand in the business world (after reading eMyth and Cashflow Quadrant) by opening up my own personal training studio, which I called Lifts. When I opened up, I could have chosen to train one-on-one and charged hefty fees since my facility was in Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale. However, I decided that what was best for my career would be to do group training, charge lower, affordable rates, and train several individuals at a time. Every client had their own routine and every night I’d stay up writing the following day’s workout. I never created “annual plans,” “monthly plans,” “weekly plans,” or used any type of periodization scheme. Every workout was written the night before based on what I saw in their previous workout. This is the essence of cybernetic periodization, auto-regulation, and biofeedback and is the ultimate way to train based on my experience. Although the goal was to keep doing variations of the big lifts, keep moving better, keep getting stronger, and keep getting more conditioned, we always left room to adapt and tinker with the workout based on client feedback as well.

Three months after opening up, I had 55 clients (which was actually our all-time highest). I hired two trainers to help out and together we’d train all the clients. Some times we’d only have one or two clients at Lifts, some hours we’d actually have no clients, and some hours we’d have many clients. Usually from the hours of noon to one, five to six, and six to seven o’clock we’d have anywhere between three and seven clients. I opened up on Saturday for two hours each week and one time we had twelve people show up during the same hour. I want to emphasize that this was not boot-camp style training. Everyone had their own workout. The trainers and I would stay for two hours writing workouts for the following day each night and took program design very seriously. I attribute much of my client’s success to this strategy. Here we are posing for a picture featured in Lifts’ first newsletter.

We would still manage to coach, motivate, and spot all the big lifts like squats, bench press, and deadlifts. We got all of our clients extremely fit and strong (I may be biased but I’ve never seen the type of results we got at Lifts duplicated here locally), and we didn’t have any “systematic training” where everyone did the same thing.

This was one of the best things I could ever have done for my career. In just a few years I believe that I trained around three to four hundred clients. I trained big clients, small clients, tall clients, short clients, athletic clients, unfit beginners, men, women, old, and young. I trained several 300-plus pound women (one of my favorite Lifts stories was when a 350 lb African-American female client, upon doing a set of ten bodyweight hip thrusts off the Skorcher, said, “Oh Lawdy, we goin’ into unchawted territory; we workin’ muscles ain’t neva been worked befo!”), some 120 pound men, several sub-10 yr old kids, plenty of 60-plus year olds, a couple of six-foot-six plus guys, several five foot tall women, people who were incredibly strong and gifted athletically, and people who couldn’t yet do a bodyweight high box squat and could barely step up onto a six inch step. You tend to figure out progression and regression schemes very quickly when exposed to this much variety.

Looking back, this was one of the best decisions I ever made. It fast-forwarded my learning and experience, it exposed me to a ton of variety, it gave me experience with one-on-one training, small group training, and even larger group training. It allowed me to learn how to improve fundamental movement patterns (without ever knowing or using the FMS). It allowed me to learn the differences of training people with unique anthropometries and physiologies. It allowed me to master program design skills. It led to innovation. And it greatly influenced me and helped me become the trainer I am today.

If you are an up-and-coming personal trainer, please consider going with the “high-volume approach” and doing group training. You’ll get much more experience and gain much more knowledge by going this route. This is one of the reasons why strength coaches get so good at coaching; high volume. However, strength coaches on average deal with much more athletic people and don’t have much experience dealing with the seriously unfit population (but they deal with rehab situations). At any rate, I hope this blogpost gives some of my younger readers something to consider.

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In the past year I’ve had the privilege of meeting many different strength coaches. When I meet strength coaches, I try to do a little investigating as to what their background is, what other subjects they specialize in, who their mentors are/were, what sports they played, and what population of clients and athletes they train.

The sad thing is, we’re all a little biased by our background. For example, before I became a strength coach I read a ton of information on bodybuilding and powerlifting. I also taught high school math and science for six years. While I’m very proud of my background as it helps shape who I am as a trainer and coach, it leaves me with biases. I’ll be completely honest. I’ve always been biased toward strength. I have videos of powerlifters and bodybuilders lifting really heavy weights. Right after college all of my friends got together for a bachelor party and had a big softball game. We put all the “Stoners” on one team (guys who smoked weed) and the “All-Americans” on the other team (guys who didn’t smoke weed). I hadn’t swung a bat in years, but what I had done in the past several years was lift weights and gain a ton of strength. Although many of my friends were on the baseball team in high school, none of them hit a homerun that day. The only guy who hit any homeruns was me…and I actually went 5-for-5 with 5 out of the park homeruns (with one of them clearing the fence by around a hundred feet). Prior to that day, I didn’t realize how important strength was in certain sports. On a side note, the Stoners kicked our ass (the All-Americans) by a score of around 18-11. So much for just saying no!

So when I started learning more about sport-specific and functional training and I see guys wobbling around on inflatable discs and bouncy balls, I thought it was completely idiotic. I said to myself, “You keep wobbling around and I’ll keep deadlifting and when we go head to head I’ll put your head through the wall!” I read Dave Tate and Louie Simmons articles and watched their videos over and over ad nauseum. I learned how to get people really, really strong. I watched Ronnie Coleman yelling “Yeah Buddy,” “Ain’t Nuttin’ but a Peanut,” “Light Weight,” and my favorite, “Everybody Wannabe a Bodybuilder, but Nobody Wanna Lift No Heavy Ass Weight” over and over and over. I bought an Olympic Weightlifting VHS tape by Jim Schmitz and reviewed it monthly. Strength and power were all you needed in my world.

Fast-forward to present-day. I still have to remind myself that there’s more to athleticism than just strength. When I see someone tossing around a kettlebell, I’m naturally inclined to think, “Why not use a barbell and move heavier loads?” I have many friends and colleagues in the profession who I speak to regularly and I listen to their advice. If they advocate something, then I trust them enough to at least give it a fair shot. Single leg RDL’s, pistols, kettlebell swings, and Turkish get ups would have been something I wouldn’t have tried in the past because I was so focused on bilateral strength, heavy loads, and maximum stability. Luckily I have great friends who entice me to get out of my comfort zone and learn new things.

Moving along, the topic often comes up in strength training circles….”how strong is strong enough?” It depends on the sport!!! A football player pretty much can’t be too strong, whereas a golfer doesn’t need as much strength. Finesse sports require less strength than strength and power sports.

I often hear Olympic coaches talking about how “there’s no such thing as overtraining.” Well, there is such thing as overtraining syndrome, and it’s a terrible thing. It’s just that the nature of Olympic lifting allows more training frequency and volume due to:

1. anthropometry of typical lifters which allows for balanced joint stress throughout the body rather than concentrated stress on a particular joint

2. typical trunk angles being more upright in the full squat, front squat, and clean which equates to less back stress

3. lower rep ranges with a focus on ramping up

4. longer rest periods and less metabolic fatigue

5. speed strength, RFD, and reactive strength emphasis and avoidance of “grinding reps”

6. concentric emphasis over eccentric

7. auto-regulation/biofeedback and daily “training maxes” not “competition maxes”

8. good warm-up and restoration protocols

9. a preference of clean and snatch variations over max effort deadlifting and good morning variations

10. proper form and good mobility which equals good joint centration and less concentrated stress in a particular area

11. not much specific upper body work, and sometimes not much core work

12. usually it’s just lifting; plyos and sprints are rare, agility work and energy system work are even more rare

So the average Olympic lifter can lift with much more frequency and volume than the typical powerlifter. There are some Oly lifters who find much success lifting 7 days per week. Some bodybuilders are known to lift two weeks in a row without a day off if they’re taking in a lot of calories and feeling good. Should a football player attempt to pull this off? What about a sprinter? Should a powerlifter try to deadlift seven days per week? Hell no! When you engage in “combined training” or even “heavy grinders,” it complicates matters.

To provide another example, coaches like to talk about the role of certain muscles and “what they were designed for.” For example, you often hear that the rectus abdominis was designed for transmitting hoop stress or transferring power rather than creating power. Doesn’t it depend on the sport? In gymnastics, what does the rectus abdominis do when hanging from a bar? In MMA, what does the rectus abdominis do when on your back on the ground?

I’ve come to conclusion that the Track & Field coaches are biased toward max speed development (but they’re experts in periodization, very skilled in program design, and quite knowledgeable about biomechanics and transfer of training). The football coaches are biased toward limit strength and ground-based lifting (but they know how to get athletes strong!). The golf coaches don’t give a damn about strength, but know a ton about corrective exercise as it pertains to hip, t-spine, and ankle mobility. The dual strength coach/physical therapist types (not all but some of them) err too much on the side of caution to the point where they can’t get their athletes strong because they’re actually too strict and too cautious. I’m sure that many people think I’m biased about the glutes (but they don’t see my overall program in order to make an accurate judgement regarding my methods).

When all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.

When “talking shop” with fellow strength coaches, it’s important to understand these biases so you can better understand their frame of reference and make better decisions as to whether you’ll “take-home” what they advise. It’s also very important to have discussions from time to time with those who disagree with you or oppose your position on a various topic, and to speak from time to time to experts in other sports, fields, or subjects. Often this is the key to innovation! Most important, as a strength coach it’s critical that you possess an arsenal filled with all kinds of tools.

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Fact vs. Opinion

I get asked this question a lot:

“What’s the biggest problem in our industry right now?”

A while back I was reading an interview with Rob Panariello and he gave a good answer to this question. One of the points he made was that many trainers/coaches these days make decisions based on opinion rather than fact. The more I think about this, the more I realize that he’s correct. I’ve been reading journals night in, night out for the past couple of months and searching to find material on all sorts of topics. My verdict is that much of the popular methodology espoused in the industry today is based on opinion. While science indeed doesn’t “prove” anything (it just provides for “the best present theory”), it’s still mandatory that we utilize journal research, scientific principles, and anecdotes to formulate our beliefs – not emotion, loyalty to a certain guru, or “tooth fairy science.”

When reflecting upon your current methodology, beliefs, and systems, please ask yourself, “Is there any journal evidence to support my belief, does the science make sense, and does it seem to go hand-in-hand with what’s happening in the “real-world?”

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As I was driving to my friend’s personal training studio today to purchase a used Elitefts giant cambered bar for $80, some thoughts came to mind. Many years ago when I was a school teacher I saved up nearly $30,000 to buy all the strength training equipment I wanted. I saved by being frugal and living within my means. I developed the most badass garage gym in town. Prior to constructing my garage gym (when I was doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu and boxing) I built a “fight club” garage gym where the entire floor was lined with a giant wrestling mat and the garage was littered with heavy bags, speed bags, mitts, pads, gloves, and wraps. I had around 6 guys coming over twice per week to train and spar (though we’d travel to Tempe a few days per week to train with our instructor too).

Over the years I’ve never driven nice cars, I’ve never worn expensive clothing, and I’ve never lived a fancy lifestyle. I don’t get to travel nearly as much as I’d like and I don’t eat at nice restaurants very often. My friends always ask me to go do stuff with them at night and I often turn them down for two reasons. First, I’m usually busy working on a blog, an article, or researching a new topic. And second, I’m usually trying to save money for something fitness-related. Every time I get some extra money it goes right back into the fitness industry in some form or another.

I purchase equipment and products and attend conferences and seminars. I’m currently looking to apply to various Biomechanics PhD programs. If someone suddenly gave me $20,000 for no reason, I’d try to save some of it, but I’d probably spend a good portion of it on new equipment and conferences/seminars.

Several years ago I put down $60,000 for a deposit and purchase upgrades for a new condo in downtown Phoenix. The builders never completed the units and ended up filing for bankruptcy. Every buyer got screwed out of all of their money. This was a very frustrating experience but it taught me a good lesson. People can screw you over, things can get stolen or ruined, and bad things can happen to good people. But no one can ever take away your experiences and education.

I live in Scottsdale, home of some of the world’s biggest douchebags. We call them thirty-thousand dollar millionairres. Guys trying to act like they’re rich when they’re not. They drive nice cars, wear fancy clothes, and sport nice tans and fancy haircuts. When girls get to know these guys they quickly flee because the guys have no substance. What do they stand for? What are they passionate about? What’s there to admire in them?

I’m very proud that I have a reason to study my ass off and keep learning. I’m fortunate to be excited about something academic in nature. I’m happy that I have motivation to be the best I can be. It thrills me that many consider me to be the world’s “expert” on glute training. It may not be as glamorous as being the world’s best actor or football player, but at least it’s something.

A few years ago I spent a lot of time, money, and energy on my Skorcher invention which I feel is an unbelievable fitness product and the most valuable piece of equipment for building great butts. But it flopped due to shady investors and a bad economy. Even if I tried to start something up again with Skorcher it probably wouldn’t sell well because most trainers and coaches still don’t see the value in the hip thrust and horizontal loading. However, what makes me so happy in life is that I own a Skorcher and can use it in my own training and in my client’s training. All the time and money I spent on Skorcher is worth it simply because I own a Skorcher and it’s sitting in my own garage.

It feels good to get to a point where the most important thing to you isn’t money; it’s harmony. Are you doing what you love? Are you excited about your job? Do you have “the fitness bug?” You can’t put a price-tag on these things. If you get riled up to learn, then you’re in the minority and should be very proud of that.

I suppose I could spend my time learning marketing techniques and business-skills. But this just isn’t sexy to me. I’d rather learn more about biomechanics. I’ve been “doing it my way” and am paying the bills and gaining readers – even though I break most of the rules. If more money comes; great! Whether it does or not I’ll still be busy learning more about fitness.

I may not have a ton of money, but I’m wealthy beyond measure. And when I’m on my death-bed, at least I can say “I did it my way.”

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I was talking to a fellow strength coach the other day who relayed a good story to me. Years back he emailed one of his mentors requesting a letter of recommendation. His mentor replied with the following:

I’m sorry but I’m unable to write you a letter of recommendation because I’ve never seen you train or coach.” I commend this mentor for having tremendous integrity.

In the “Internet Age” people can reach “expert-status” in the eyes of the public by simply writing articles and blogs. I’m very reluctant to completely trust any strength coach who doesn’t have a Youtube account or allow his or her fans to watch videos of him or her (or their clients) training. Shouldn’t that be the bare minimum that we expect?

Here are some questions/thoughts that come to mind when thinking about most “experts” who have no videos to view:

1. I see that you use modern technology (blogs, websites) to make yourself popular, which is fine.
2. Why use some web technology (blogs, websites) but not use other web technology (Youtube, Vimeo, etc.)? You’ve demonstrated the ability to learn how to use the internet so I know it’s not because you’re unfamiliar with Youtube.
3. Is it because you have something to hide?
4. Are you really coaching/training clients and athletes or are you just pretending?
5. Are you afraid that other experts will pick your client/athletes’ form apart?
6. Are you afraid that you’ll be exposed for being “not all that?”
7. Do you have a crappy rapport with your clients/athletes and are therefore afraid to ask them if you can film them?
8. Do you not know how to coach the big lifts?
9. Cool! You just showed me a video of you performing a 135 lb squat (or a 135 lb deadlift)! How does your form look when you go heavy? Are you afraid to film your technique when the weight gets heavy?
10. Are you the coach who has his athletes dance around doing warm-ups all day or do you get your athletes strong?
11. Show me the money!

It’s easy to sit around and discuss popular and trendy topics but if you can’t get yourself or your clients/athletes strong then I’m sorry, but you don’t know what in the hell you’re doing.

My advice:

Be leery of a coach who offers advice but has no videos to view of him or her (or their clients) lifting heavy. It’s easy to use robotic form when going light, but going heavy is a completely different story.

In this industry, we often speak highly of other trainers and coaches and it’s usually well-deserved. Are there individuals who you praise who could be “posers?” How do you know? Have you seen them train? Have you seen their videos? Isn’t that a problem? What if your favorite guru is this guy?

Personally I like filming videos because they provide opportunities for feedback. I’ve improved upon certain technical aspects of my coaching based upon feedback I received from other coaches regarding my videos. So now I’m a better trainer and coach simply because I’m not afraid to put myself out there.

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There are a lot of people who I admire in the fitness profession for various reasons. While most of us gravitate toward like-minded individuals or those who train in a similar manner (or share a similar philosophy), I can still appreciate people for their differences. Here are some people I admire and the reasons why I admire them:

1. Tony Gentilcore – Tony consistently writes humorous, entertaining, and informative blogs. He gives credit where credit is due and he doesn’t try to act mysterious or pretend he’s somebody he’s not. Too many trainers are so worried about their image or are trying to portray themselves as overly-important. Tony’s as real as it gets. He’s not afraid to talk about his personal life or film Youtube videos of him lifting heavy weights.

2. Carl Valle – Carl is notorious for calling people out and speaking his mind. This takes guts and I commend him for it. Carl has turned over a new leaf and is trying to be more tactful which I have definitely noticed. I’ve been speaking to Carl on the phone lately and although we disagree about a lot of things, we can always find common ground talking about biomechanics. We both love to analyze exercises, programs, sports, and systems. One of the “litmus tests” I use to determine if a coach is for real or not is whether they talk about exercises. No one knows it all and there’s a ton of truths that are yet to be determined. If you’re a coach and you think you’ve got it all figured out then count your days because they’re limited. You need to have a general philosophy but you need to be open-minded to evolution. It’s very easy to hang out in your “comfort zone” and only surround yourself with people who feel identical to you. But I’ve found that I can learn a lot from people who have different thoughts on strength training and unique perspectives.

3. Charlie Weingroff – Charlie is a rapidly rising star in this profession for good reason…the guy is legit! He has tremendous goals and aspirations and he works his ass off to continue his education. Although Charlie has his DPT and was formerly the strength coach for the Philadelphia 76ers, you can still find Charlie traveling all over the place to receive new certifications, attend seminars, visit coaches, and advance his knowledge. He started up a blog, speaks his mind, posts his workouts, and lifts heavy weights. I mean really heavy! You have to admire a guy like this!

4. Matt Perryman – Matt is another very outspoken guy who loves to call it how he sees it. Matt’s primary interest seems to be general strength training which is an art unto itself. The reason why I admire Matt is because he’s not afraid to try new systems and write about his results. He recently embarked on a high-frequency training expedition and shared his views and results on his blog and various forums. Most people stay within the confines of their little safety nest, Matt’s not afraid to step away from the nest and try something new.

5. Joe Sansalone – Joe is one of the brightest guys in the fitness field yet many people have never heard of him. I’m trying to encourage him to get a blog going as I bet if he started writing more often he’d quickly become one of the more popular writers and speakers in the profession. Joe doesn’t seem to care about this as he’s perfectly happy training clients all day long. This is another quality that I admire. However, I told Joe that this is fine but if he “influences the trainers” he will positively impact a much higher volume of individuals. Hopefully he’ll listen to me. Joe walks the walk and trains very hard. Notice a common theme – I tend to admire and listen to the coaches who train hard. It gives them much more credibility!

These are just five of the many individuals in the fitness profession who I greatly admire. Just one year ago, I didn’t know any coaches or trainers as I too was so busy training people that I never had time to network or meet any people in the field. In the past year I’ve made a lot of friends and it’s definitely improved the quality of my life. In fact, I feel like the bumble bee girl in the 1992 No Rain video by Blind Melon when she finally discovered her “world.”

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