Category Archives for "Functional Fitness"

Biomechanics and the Human Matrix with Zac Cupples – The Barbell Life 392

Listen to today’s episode of The Barbell Life Podcast as Coach Mash talks to Coach Zac Cupples, DPT and CSCS.

This episode promises to be informative regarding the Human Matrix and more:

  • Common sense approach to Biomechanics and Movement
  • The truth regarding the science behind the new age Breathing Movement
  • Physiological differences between Nose Breathing and Mouth Breathing
  • Why it’s important to increase one’s capacity to hold their breath
  • Relationship between breathing and sleep
  • Insight from 11-years of being a Physical Therapist and Strength Coach
  • Unique insight from working in the Hospital setting, Private, and even in the NBA.
  • Human Matrix Movement principles
  • How to improve dysfunctional movement back to physiological norms
  • Commonsense Approach to Assessment
  • Why you should check out Isleep.com and use code ‘HST10’
  • And more!

Website: ZacCupples.com

Instagram: @zaccupples

THE BARBELL LIFE IS SPONSORED BY:

American-made strength equipment manufacturer providing the best quality, best value, best support & best people so you can build a better athlete.

 

Flywheel Training is a Gamechanger

In the strength world, a new machine or new training protocol comes out almost weekly. As coaches we get so used to gimmicks that sometimes it’s hard to see when something is actually of value. I am going to start out by saying the Kratos Flywheel has been nothing short of amazing. I have documented increased vertical leaps, personal records in the squat, and direct correlations to personal records in the snatch and clean & jerk. These benefits are related to improvements in joint elasticity, strengthened tendons, and Type II muscle hypertrophy. I have no doubts that the Kratos Flywheel would improve sprint times, change of direction capability, road jumps, and of course vertical leaps. Petré, H., et al., 2018 showed statistically significant increases in the areas of hypertrophy, absolute strength, power production, horizontal movement, and vertical movement. For all you science nerds like me, the effect sizes were for hypertrophy, CSA 0.59; volume/mass 0.59; maximum strength 1.33; power 1.19; horizontal 1.01 and vertical movement 0.85.

 

What does this mean in layman’s terms? Simply put, you are going to get more jacked, stronger, more powerful, faster, and improve your hops. The best part is that it only takes 4–6-week bouts to get these improvements. Therefore, you can spend the last half of training preparing for individual sport. For my team, we can spend time focusing on snatch and clean & jerk. Lately, we have discovered or improved three elements of our program that have all yielded improved results: velocity-based training, athlete data collection, and the latest being our flywheel. I know most of you coaches aren’t going to apply this, and you are going to say that you don’t need this. It makes me sad for your athletes, but at the end of the day, I love winning. Therefore, by all means, keep doing what you’re doing, but you have been told. One thing that no one can ever say about me is that I try to keep our training a secret. I learned from one of my mentors and friends, Louie Simmons, that the only way to effect change is to pass on knowledge. That’s what I am trying to do. By the way, I have received zero compensation for this article. I am simply trying to help all of you.

 

 

We ordered our Kratos Flywheel from Kabuki at the middle of last year. I have been using it ever since with my top athletes and the data is undeniable in that it clearly works well. There are some exciting upgrades coming that include velocity and force readouts, and they will be available for existing units in case you want one now. In this article, I am going to briefly explain the concept, go over the benefits, and I will give you a quick way of implementation.

 

What is Flywheel Training?

 

Flywheel training started back in 1913 by some Swedish researchers, and then again in 1994 some Swedish exercise physiology scholars researched the idea of using flywheels, since they produce resistance independent of gravity, for Astronauts in space to prevent muscle atrophy. Flywheels produce a type of isoinertial resistance meaning a continuous resistance throughout the range of motion regardless of joint angle. This type of resistance causes an eccentric overload and increase in the velocity of the eccentric contraction, which is a beautiful thing for athletic performance that we will explain in just a bit.

 

In normal resistance training, the external load is created by gravity acting on the mass of the object being lifted. Therefore, the resistance experienced at each joint is dependent upon the horizontal distance perpendicular to gravity from the specific joint in question the line of action of the external load. That means the total load experienced at each joint changes throughout the range of motion because the horizontal distance to the line of action changes. For example, when you are at the parallel position of a back squat, the horizontal distance from the hip to the line of action perpendicular to gravity of the barbell is at a maximum distance. Therefore, the hip is experiencing a maximum resistance. However, when you stand up, that distance is shortened each inch/centimeter on the way up making the resistance less and less.

 

 

A flywheel uses inertia to form the resistance. Newton’s first law is considered the law of inertia. Put simple, inertia is the property of an object to resist change. If an object is at rest, it will stay at rest until acted upon by an outside force. If an object is in motion, it will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. With a flywheel, we are actually talking about rotational inertia, and the resistance required to alter the direction of a spinning wheel aka angular momentum. Angular momentum is equal to angular velocity (how fast the object is spinning) multiplied by the moment of inertia. The moment of inertia will help understand how we alter the resistance of a flywheel. Let’s look!

 

Moment of Inertia = centre of mass x distance from the axis² or I = Σ miri2

 

Therefore, if you want to increase the resistance of the flywheel, you can add a heavier wheel or wheels, or you can add a wheel that has a greater circumference. There is one more key that most overlook, and that is producing a greater concentric contraction for as long as possible creating maximal angular velocity of the flywheel. This action will cause the greatest potential angular momentum that will have to be overcome during the end range of motion. This action will also create a greater amount of stored energy that will have to be overcome during the eccentric contraction.

 

Alright let’s put this simply!

 

We know that our muscles are capable of creating a greater force during the eccentric contraction. Our goal here is to overload the eccentric contraction. To do that, we can find creative ways to increase force during the concentric contraction. For example, on a squat we could use our arms to stand up at a greater velocity than we could have with just our legs. That will create a greater angular momentum during the eccentric contraction to be overcome. We won’t use our arms to resist the eccentric load, since our muscles are already able to hand eccentric forces more easily. So why is it important to create an eccentric overload? Let’s get into the benefits of the flywheel.

 

What are the benefits of Flywheel Training?

 

This is where it gets good. I looked at two meta-analysis that compiled 46 different studies that met their compliance standards. Here are some of the benefits that you can expect:

 

  • Strength
  • Hypertrophy particularly increases in Type II fibers (Douglas, J. 2017)
  • Muscle Activation
  • Tendon Stiffness
  • Power
  • Athletic Performance (increased vertical and horizontal jumps, faster sprint times, and improved change of direction)

 

Did I get your attention? I should have because now I can add the data from our athletes confirming increased jump heights, improved elasticity, and increased power production. Before I get into our results, let’s look a bit more at the findings of these studies.

 

Some of the benefits that triggered my desire to purchase one were Type II fiber Hypertrophy, tendon stiffness, power production, and improved athletic performance. These are all the qualities needed to become an elite weightlifter, and really these are the qualities required to become a great athlete. I can get my athletes stronger with conventional resistance training, but we found that elasticity actually defines the potential of a weightlifter. This is where I am going to focus the rest of this article, but I plan to do a series on the flywheel. I hope to dive deeper into each benefit, the ‘why’ behind the benefit, and most important to all of you is the ‘how’.

 

The quality that I believe is behind the majority of benefits is the eccentric overload which creates a stiffer tendon and improved elasticity. A stiffer tendon is a tendon with greater potential for producing energy. This is defined as strain energy.

 

SE=1/2KΔx²

 

where SE = strain energy, k = stiffness or spring constant of material, and Δx = change in length or deformation of the object from its undeformed position.

 

Dr. Keith Baar has taught all of us the importance of tendon strength. I found that the flywheel speeds up the process of creating that stiffness. Let me briefly explain the form and function of the tendon. The most important property of a tendon when it comes to performance or potential injury is that tendons are viscoelastic in makeup. That means, one side is fairly stiff and unyielding, which is the side that attaches to bone. However, the side of the tendon that attaches to muscle is a bit more forgiving. Otherwise, if a tendon is too stiff on the muscle side, the muscle becomes subject to a possible tear. This is where it’s important to understand the balance.

 

A stiffer tendon will have more potential to create strain energy, which translates into higher jumps and faster sprint times. For example, when an athlete with thick and tight tendons strikes the ground with his or her feet, that strain energy within their Achilles tendon, patellar tendons, and other related tendons is expressed against the ground propelling the athlete horizontally through space. So how do we develop thicker and stronger tendons?

 

It is well established that strength training increases the blood flow and collagen synthesis, and long-term effects lead to tendon hypertrophy and greater potential for strain energy. At the cellular level, studies have shown that fibroblasts (tendon cells) respond with a more superior adaptation when a dynamic load is applied versus isometric. The result of mechanical tension in the form of strain (tissue deformation) led to increased collagen expression and increased matrix stiffness. Of course, this tendon stiffness has to be balanced with a strong muscle able to hold an isometric contraction, or otherwise an athlete will be at risk of muscular ruptures. The moral of the story is a balanced approach to one’s training regimen.

 

Elasticity Improved

 

I have written about post activation potentiation for a lot of years. I have used it on myself when I was an athlete with lots of success, and I have used it with a number of athletes with success. It most commonly defined as a phenomenon by which the force exerted by a muscle is increased due to its previous contraction. Post-activation potentiation is a theory that states that the contractile history of a muscle influences the subsequent mechanical performance of muscle contractions. In layman’s terms the theory states that a muscular contraction that is somewhat similar to the movement or movements performed after the particular contraction will positively affect the performance of those subsequent contractions.

 

Post-Activation Potentiation isn’t 100% understood, but there are two major theories and one other maybe. Here are the three:

 

  • Phosphorylation of myosin regulatory light chains, which makes actin and myosin more sensitive to Ca2+
  • An increase in α-motoneuron excitability as reflected by changes in the H-reflex
  • Change in pennation angle of muscle fibers

 

The phosphorylation of myosin regulatory light chains (MLC) making actin and myosin more sensitive to calcium seems to make a lot of sense from my experience, and I will explain why. Like most of the research will agree, PAP seems to work best with people that contain a high amount of fast twitch fibers. Myosin in general is the determining factor between fast twitch and slow twitch fibers. MLC determine the velocity of the contraction along with the biggest determining factor ATPase an enzyme that breaks down ATP and begins the cross-bridge cycle. Calcium sensitivity is key for the binding of myosin to actin during the cross-bridge cycle leading to the power stroke aka muscular contraction. The more efficient this process becomes leads to more efficient and powerful contractions. However, there are mixed reviews on this theory, which makes sense based on which individuals are taking part in the research.

 

Figure 2 Myosin Molecule

 

 

 

The second theory is that a conditioning exercise causes increased synaptic excitation within the spinal cord, which in turn results in increased post-synaptic potentials and subsequent increased force generating capacity of the involved muscle groups. More precisely an increase in α-motoneuron excitability as reflected by changes in the H-reflex. The H-reflex is an EMG measurement of the excitability of a muscle. We are talking about creating a higher excitability of the neuromuscular system within the particular muscles stimulated by the conditioning exercise. This increased excitability relates to improved muscle spindle output, or what most of us know as improved stretch reflex. Simply put for all of the coaches reading, this leads to faster and more forceful contraction.

 

The third theory is a change in pennation angle of the muscle fibers, which helps me understand a faster speed of contraction. However, it doesn’t explain an increase in force. A greater pennation angle is normally associated with slower contractions but greater force outputs. A lesser pennation angle allows more force to be distributed straight into the tendons and bones. However, there is little evidence to support this claim, and anatomically I can’t wrap my brain around it.

 

Overloading the eccentric contraction is a great idea for many reasons:

 

  1. Residual Force Enhancement
  2. Eccentric contraction requires less energy
  3. And yes PAP

 

Residual Force Enhancement (RFE) is an effect that has been noted for several years in the research community. RFE refers to the residual increase in force following active lengthening of a muscle, and it is directly proportionate to the magnitude of the stretch. This increase in force is a passive one, which means it’s a force that the athlete isn’t knowingly creating. Passive forces relate to the automatic neurological responses in the muscle created by structures like muscle spindles and titin proteins located in the sarcomeres. Titin is related to the structure of actin and myosin, and is also contributed to the elastic quality of muscle. The theory is that during the eccentric contraction titin increases in its inherent stiffness upon activation and stretch by binding calcium upon activation (versus during a passive stretch without calcium present), and could shorten its active spring length, thereby becoming stiffer, by binding proximally to actin. This is directly related to the magnitude of the stretch, so the amount being handled and the speed. The Kratos Flywheel becomes the perfect too to maximize the velocity during the eccentric contraction and for maximizing the load.

 

 

All of these benefits come with less energy being expended. The theory here is that an increase in the number of cross-bridge cycles per ATP hydrolyzed during the eccentric contraction versus 1 for 1 during concentric contractions. That’s right, you get the enhancement without a lot of energy being expended making this the best form of PAP that I can think of. If the extra force produced from PAP is decreased dependent upon the amount of fatigue, then eccentric contractions only seem to be the best way to produce maximal results from PAP.

 

 

Consistency with the Kratos Flywheel– Performing this overloaded eccentric contraction on a regular basis could lead to long term improvements in the physiology of the myosin light chains and long-term improvements in the neuromuscular junction possibly from improvements in titin (thickness, tightness, and elasticity), muscle spindles, and possible inhibitions in the golgi tendon organ. Therefore, I recommend sticking with the Kratos Flywheel activity for several weeks before halting to accumulate maximal results.

 

However, the difference in Flywheel Training is that studies have shown and my own velocity data shows higher velocities during the eccentric contraction leading to improved neuromuscular junctions in the form of higher muscle spindle outputs and inhibition of the golgi tendon organ. If you read the earlier portions of this article, you learned that muscle spindles create a passive form of concentric muscular contraction. The output of the muscle spindles is directly correlated to the speed and magnitude of the eccentric contraction. The golgi tendon organ (GTO) is located in the tendons, and it’s a part of the neurological system responsive for inhibiting muscular contraction. Its job is to shut off muscles to avoid tears or major injuries. When the GTO senses high forces like from a hard change of direction for example, it shuts off the muscle to prevent tears. The increased velocity induced by the bands also increases the strength and thickness of the tendons and over time desensitizes the GTO allowing for maximal motor unit recruitment. As we learned earlier, the higher magnitude of the eccentric contraction leads to higher levels of RFE as well. Lastly, muscle spindles not only activate agonist after sensing the stretch of the muscle, but they also inhibit the antagonist leading to a better synergistic relationship between agonist and antagonist. This synergistic relationship is crucial for athletes if you think about sprinting for example.

 

Reactive Strength Index

 

This is my final point, but probably the greatest discovery so far with my own athletes. I test the majority of my athletes daily on a 45cm depth jump. We record the height of the jump and the ground contact time. We divide the height by the ground contact time to give our athletes a Reactive Strength Index Score (RSI Score). We found that this score is directly proportional to the potential of our athletes. If you think about it, that makes total sense.

 

The ground contact time is going to show the athlete’s elasticity, which is a look at their tendons and joint make ups. This is their stored energy in the form of strain energy. This has to be high for qualities such as fast sprints, change of direction, and everything to weightlifters. For a weightlifter, it’s the ability to change direction during a dip and drive in the jerk, or to catch a bounce out of the bottom of a heavy clean.

 

The height of the jump shows the athlete’s ability to produce force in relationship to his or her own bodyweight. Obviously, for an athlete to produce power, this is an important quality. After we test our athletes, we are able to tell if they should focus on strength movements like squatting and pull due to a low jump height. We are also able to see if our athletes need elasticity training due to a long ground contact time. Here’s where the story gets awesome.

Ryan Grimsland at the Arnold Classic earning best lifter in the country, and establishing himself as an Olympic Hopeful.

 

We had been testing our athletes for months when we received our Kratos Flywheel. After only two weeks of performing a twice per week protocol of no more than 10-20 minutes per session, each athlete increased his or her jump height by an average of 3.5” and decreased his or her ground contact time by 0.08 seconds. Both improvements are massive especially the ground contact time when the mean ground contact time for our team is .47 seconds.

 

The most amazing story happened with Ryan Grimsland, my top athlete and one of two top runners for the 2024 Olympics. In two weeks, height increased 5” to over 40” from a 45cm depth jump. I have never seen anything like that. His ground contact time dropped by .05 seconds, which was already the shortest ground contact time. We now have two young men with over 40” vertical leaps with zero plyometric work. We only use the Kratos Flywheel, train with weightlifting movements, and use velocity measure by GymAware for our strength movements.

 

Implementation

 

We have found that two days per week is manageable with the training, school work, and lifestyle for our university athletes. We normally add the flywheel to days that are followed by a day off to allow for recovery. Remember, this is eccentric training, which comes along with muscle damage. That’s ok just be smart. I recommend a very simple approach at first. Here what I recommend:

 

Weeks 1-3– 3-5 sets of 8-10 repetitions. For the first week or two, I recommend simply accelerating through the concentric contraction (the ascent) as fast as possible. That will cause a fairly dramatic eccentric contraction (the descent). After you or your athlete is familiar with the machine, then I recommend overloading the eccentric by emphasizing the concentric. For the squat portion, we use handles to pull ourselves up as quickly as possible making sure to attempt accelerating all the way through the ascent. That will cause an equal reaction of the Kratos flywheel to pull you down with that same amount of force. This is how you overload the eccentric contraction. Remember, your body is capable of producing more force eccentrically. Another example is to perform a bilateral RDL with the handles that Kabuki sells, and then immediately switch to a unilateral RDL during the eccentric contraction aka the downward motion.

 

Weeks 4-6– 4-6 sets of 4-6 repetitions. Once again, you will want to produce more and more of a forceful concentric contraction to guarantee a higher eccentric contraction. So far, we have only used the overload techniques that I outlined above. I am currently playing around with some other ideas, but I don’t want to fill your head with something that might be dangerous. I will try these out first, and then I will get back to you.

 

After the six weeks, we simply continue training without the flywheel putting the majority of focus on the technical aspects of our sport. However, the benefits of the flywheel don’t disappear like those gained from illegal drugs. Those type II fibers will still be there along with the strengthened titin protein filaments and improved tendons. Please let me know your results if you take the plunge. Also, if you have any questions, feel free to email me at support@mashelite.com. I would love to help because I am so passionate about the flywheel. You can check out the Kratos Flywheel at:

 

Chris Duffin’s Kratos Flywheel

 

I love this thing so much that I will give you anyone of my EBooks with the purchase of this amazing product. Simply email support@gmail.com with proof of purchase, and let us know which EBook that you would like.

 

Also, here is the Kratos Flywheel coaching protocol directly from the team at Kabuki Coaching:

 

==> Kratos Foundations

 

 

I will end with these couple more facts. I didn’t recruit either of these 40” vertical leap young men. They have both been with me since they were in middle school, and now have followed me to the University. Both had standing vertical leaps of 34-35” before starting the Flywheel protocols. There’s my story. I have been meaning to write this article for quite some time. I am glad that it’s finally out there. I hope that all of you are able to begin training with a Kratos Flywheel. It has been a major advantage for us, and I hope that you have that same luxury.

 

Coach Travis Mash

 

 

References:

 

  1. Douglas J Pearson S Ross A. Chronic Adaptations to Eccentric Training: A Systematic Review. Sports Med.2017;47(5):917-941.
  2. Petré, H., Wernstål, F. & Mattsson, C. Effects of Flywheel Training on Strength-Related Variables: a Meta-analysis. Sports Med – Open4, 55 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40798-018-0169-5
  3. Hody S, Croisier JL, Bury T, Rogister B, Leprince P. Eccentric Muscle Contractions: Risks and Benefits. Front Physiol. 2019;10:536. Published 2019 May 3. doi:10.3389/fphys.2019.00536
  4. Sanz-López F, Berzosa C, Hita-Contreras F, Martínez-Amat A. Effects of eccentric overload training on patellar tendon and vastus lateralis in three days of consecutive running. Knee. 2017 Jun;24(3):570-579. doi: 10.1016/j.knee.2017.03.002. Epub 2017 Mar 22. PMID: 28342723.
  5. Christian Couppé, René B. Svensson, Karin Grävare Silbernagel, Henning Langberg, and S. Peter Magnusson. Eccentric or Concentric Exercises for the Treatment of Tendinopathies?. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy2015 45:11, 853-863
  6. Baar K. Minimizing Injury and Maximizing Return to Play: Lessons from Engineered Ligaments. Sports Med. 2017 Mar;47(Suppl 1):5-11. doi: 10.1007/s40279-017-0719-x. PMID: 28332110; PMCID: PMC5371618.

Strength Training and Endurance for Youth: Facts and Fiction

In our latest video, we discuss all the Facts and Fiction associated with Youth Strength Training and Endurance Running for Ages 7-17!

I dug into all the research to find out for all you Parents and Coaches:

  • What Age is safe?
  • How much is safe at each stage of growth?
  • Benefits
  • Risks
  • Red Flags to be aware of
  • Olympic weightlifting, Running, Strength Training, and all the rest.

I combed through all the research I referenced, and more importantly, I believe I have made it simple to understand.

Parents listen to make sure you’re on the right path with your young ones.

Coaches listen to ensure you’re providing a safe and yet effective service.

To learn more, take a look at this article: Is Weight Training Safe for Youth?

If you want to get started, check out our Youth Development Programs:
Youth Development
Youth Development and Coaching

And don’t forget to check out my new Weightlifting Certification from Stronger Experts (on sale until February 1st): Stronger Experts Weightlifting Certification

Speed First with Justin Ochoa – The Barbell Life 379

I just recently found out about Coach Justin Ochoa.

He’s a young guy but he is doing some amazing things with speed.

And he’s gone from being a “strength fixes everything” guy to a “speed first” guy – so we had a lot to talk about.

THE BARBELL LIFE IS SPONSORED BY:

American-made strength equipment manufacturer providing the best quality, best value, best support & best people so you can build a better athlete.

LISTEN IN TO TODAY’S PODCAST AS WE TALK ABOUT:

  • Why he’s “speed first” instead of “strength fixes everything”
  • A REALLY creative way to get a great internship with a high profile coach
  • Training to avoid injury when you have strong tendons?
  • Assessing movement and speed
  • RSI Scores and his brilliant “quadrant” system
  • and more…

Tactical Athletes and Bridge with Coach Ryan Carroll – The Barbell Life 378

Today we talk with my good friend Ryan Carroll about training tactical athletes.

Talk about a challenge! They’ve got to be strong and fast – and have an engine to keep going when it’s needed.

Along the way, Coach Carroll has also really benefited from DATA.

So of course we talk about data, how to track it and actually use it, and how BRIDGE is helping athletes do just that.

THE BARBELL LIFE IS SPONSORED BY:

American-made strength equipment manufacturer providing the best quality, best value, best support & best people so you can build a better athlete.

LISTEN IN TO TODAY’S PODCAST AS WE TALK ABOUT:

Hanging with Coach Gillespie

This past Thursday I had the honor of hanging out with the Godfather of Strength, Coach Bill Gillespie.

He works with Sorinex Exercise Equipment as their strength coach. I will explain more about that after I give you a quick background on Coach Gillespie.

Coach Gillespie has worked in the world of strength and conditioning since before I graduated from Appalachian State University. In the early 90’s, I would read all of his articles in “Powerlifting USA” as he was already considered one of the strongest men on the planet and a top rated strength coach.

He was benching in the 800s back in the late 90s and early 2000s, and now at 62-years-old he has the all-time world record in the bench press at 1052lb in the drug tested category. The best part is that he’s lifetime drug free. I can’t even wrap my head around these words I am typing.

To date he has broken 92 world records in the bench press. He’s also one of the most decorated strength coaches in the country having worked in Division I Football and the NFL. Most of you know him as the Head Strength Coach at Liberty University where he coached fifteen years before transitioning to his current role at Sorinex. Now he gets to travel all around the country hanging out with strength coaches like me to collaborate on new ideas, further improve the world of strength, and to build relationships with likeminded coaches.

I have to give Sorinex a thumbs up for creating a position like this because it shows the world where their hearts truly are. They are building their business on relationships, and they are investing back into the education of new and established coaches in America. They aren’t sitting around complaining about the culture of strength and conditioning. They aren’t gossiping about the level of competence with the strength coaches of America. Instead they are dropping their money on producing a culture of collaboration amongst coaches to ensure that American Strength Coaches as a whole are growing in knowledge, and they are using funds to nurture a culture of growth, collaboration, and community. This isn’t an article about Sorinex, but I had to mention the company that paid for me to hang out with this legend.

This article is to pass along some of the knowledge that I learned while hanging out this walking text book of strength. I want to start by encouraging all of the strength coaches reading this to take a page out of Coach Gillespie’s playbook. Yes, he reads and studies the current literature on strength and conditioning, but more importantly he gets in his car and visits the people who are successful. When I was coming up, that was the main way to grow. Now everyone reads articles they find on the web, and they watch the latest YouTube Video. I am not knocking any of that, but it shouldn’t be your go to source.

Step 1: You need the basics

First, you all need the basics just so you can discern between the solid information and the ridiculous. Unfortunately, you can’t really master bar path if you don’t understand the basics of biomechanics. If you don’t understand the basics of physiology, then you can get fooled by any random nutrition article. However, once you have the basics, now you can really grow as a coach. I recommend at least the following:

• Anatomy and Physiology
• Exercise Physiology
• Biomechanics
• Athlete Monitoring and Basic Statistics
• Sports Nutrition

You don’t have to pursue a PhD, but you need these courses. I am biased, but the Exercise Science Program at Lenoir-Rhyne University is the most underrated program in America. I have grown 10-fold as a coach over the last two years, and I had already produced 27 Team USA Athletes for USA Weightlifting, coached hundreds of Division I, II, and III athletes, and several Pro Athletes (NFL, NBA, MMA, and MLB). I highly recommend the Exercise Science Department at LRU for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. The professors love strength and conditioning, and they understand how to apply it in the real world. The Athlete Monitoring Class is perfect for the new age strength coach because you will learn about GPS Tracking and all of the current ways to track and more importantly to discern athlete data and trends. Hopefully soon, I will be one of those professors, and I will be about the most real-world professor ever.

ACADEMIC CONCEPTS MEET REAL-WORLD APPLICATION.

Learn the High-Level Muscle Science, Physics, and Biomechanics Principles to Give Your Athletes the Fastest and Safest Progress Possible

All profits go to benefit the Lenoir-Rhyne Weightlifting Team during this unusual and challenging time. Thank you for your support!

Step 2: Visit with the Coaches who are producing

This leads me to address a trend that I am seeing amongst strength and conditioning coaches and Olympic weightlifting coaches. Due to social media, too many coaches are more worried about his or her status as a coach than they are worried about actually being a solid coach.

I see it all the time. A coach will start producing amazing results in speed like my guy Coach William Bradley or start producing Olympians like my friend Coach Spencer Arnold – and instead of reaching out to these fine coaches and asking them what they are doing or what changes they might have made, they will make excuses for those results. They will say Coach Bradley’s athletes were already fast. Other people have commented that Coach Arnold was given his athletes by USA Weightlifting. Both of these allegations are ridiculous.

When I heard about Coach Bradley, I drove my butt to his gym and paid him to coach me in sprinting. You know what? I got faster even as a washed-up ex-powerlifter in my mid-thirties. I learned more about speed training in those sessions than from any YouTube video or article. Instead of creating fabricated rumors, I learned from the man himself – and now we are friends to this very day. He’s still my go-to speed guy, and I know some of the best. Coach Kav’s the man too!

As far as Coach Spencer Arnold, USA Weightlifting didn’t ‘give him’ anybody. Those girls chose him due to the amazing culture he created in his Atlanta-based gym. People train where they are happy and having fun. I have taken a lot of notes regarding culture from him as of late, and it has paid off immensely.

If someone is winning or producing, get your butt in the car and go visit that person. It’s that easy. Well, call ahead first, but you get the point. If I were a brand new coach starting all over again, I would save the money to visit a different coach every month or every two weeks for a year. I can’t imagine how that would accelerate a young coach’s knowledge base.

STRENGTH UNIVERSITY VIDEO CURRICULUM

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It's finally here... Learn about technique, programming, assessment, and coaching from a master. For strength coaches and for athletes, these 53 videos (7 hours and 56 minutes of footage) will prepare you to understand the main lifts for maximum performance and safety. Get ready to learn...

I did that very thing without even planning it out. I have always followed my gut, and that has really helped me in becoming a better coach. Early on when I was in Colorado Springs, I would visit Champion Health almost every day because Coach Charles Poliquin, Dr. Mike Lehey (A.R.T. Founder), and the crew from T Nation (Tim Patterson, TC Luoma, and all the boys) were there. I am sure that I drove them crazy, but I had so many questions. They were making a good living in the world of strength and fitness, so they had the answers and held the keys to unlocking the doors to my dreams.

I could have sat around, made up some rumors about them, and grown bitter towards the world – but instead I got to know them. I helped them in as many ways as I could. I actually brokered T Nation’s first affiliate deal, gaining them access to the World Gyms in Colorado Springs to sell their Biotest products (which were new then). That landed me a six-week internship with arguably the greatest strength and conditioning coach of all-time: Charles Poliquin.

I did the same when I wanted to meet Louie Simmons. I drove to Columbus, Ohio – and I visited Westside Barbell. I did the same thing with Martin Rooney, Coach Joe Kenn, Wes Barnett, and so many others. When MuscleDriver USA came to town, I put my wife in the car, drove down, and visited. That ended up landing me a professional Olympic weightlifting coach job along with two years of learning from Coach Glenn Pendlay and five years with Coach Don McCauley. I think that I have made my point.

Coaches, hear me when I say this: if someone is killing it in your little section of strength, shut your mouth, humble yourself, and learn from that person. Then and only then will we further the cause as strength coaches.

You owe it to your athletes to gain every bit of knowledge that you can. Who cares about your ego? Odds are if you consider yourself the smartest strength coach in America, you probably aren’t even close. The ones producing are too busy trying to get better to have the time to convince others of their status.

You guys probably don’t even know Coach Kevin Simons or Coach Jonas Sahratian. You know why? It’s because they are too busy learning and winning instead of proclaiming their status of greatness on the Internet. The same goes for Coach Gillespie. He’s 62 years old, and he’s driving to hang out with me in hopes he might learn a little more.

Step 3 Anecdotal Evidence Really is the Best Evidence

Now it’s time for you guys to learn a little bit of awesomeness. While we were at Outback Steakhouse, we started talking about Coach Gillespie’s own training and his coaching. FYI, he was one of the first adopters of velocity based training even before my man, Coach Bryan Mann.

He was telling me that “it was his theory” that the last reps of the last set was actually the training effect. He went on to say that he didn’t want to get anywhere near failure most of the time because he didn’t want to teach his athletes (or himself) to be slow.

I laughed and told him that in 2017 (Pareja-Blanco, et al., 2017) his theory was confirmed. They found that velocity losses of 20% or less produced greater hypertrophy in fast twitch fibers versus the traditional 40-60% that bodybuilders might experience.

My point is that guys like Coach Gillespie have data on thousands of amazing D1 and Professional athletes to confirm their “theories.” Coach Gillespie was very good at referencing the correlations between changes in his program and athletic measures like 40-yd dash times and noncontact injuries.

When he was at the University of Washington, his teams were notorious for winning with fourth quarter comebacks. Before some of you say that it was the head coach or the great recruits, the coaches were made aware of his direct effects when they let him go and those wins disappeared in the same season. They were so aware that Coach Gillespie won Pac 10 Strength Coach of the Year, and he was asked to come back to the team.

However, it was too late. The Seattle Seahawks saw the effect he had, and they hired him. Look, strength coaches can have major impacts on teams if they are good at their job. I hear a lot of you downplaying that, and it makes me wonder if you are actually good at your job. If you can make athletes stronger, faster, and more resilient, then you can impact a team in a major way.

He told me so many other nuggets that I am already applying, but here’s my main point to all of you: You really should focus on monitoring your athletes in as thorough a way as possible so that you too can learn to draw those correlations. You will need to learn the difference in correlation and causation, so pay attention in stats class, guys.

Or don’t do any of that, and guys like Coach Gillespie will just keep winning.

I want to close by saying thank you to Coach Gillespie for coming to see me. I cherish two relationships in this strength and conditioning world. The first is obviously Coach Joe Kenn, and now Coach Bill Gillespie has earned that loyalty as well. It was an honor that you valued me enough to drive and hang out with me, and to hear you say those kind words about me in front of my athletes and colleagues was the greatest honor of my career. Thank you also to Sorinex for creating this position that I believe to be so crucial for improving the quality of coaches in America as well as improving the and nurturing a culture of community and growth. That shows all of us coaches that your values are right where they should be.

STRENGTH UNIVERSITY VIDEO CURRICULUM

THE PERFECT WAY TO GROW IN KNOWLEDGE DURING THIS TIME OF SOCIAL DISTANCING

It's finally here... Learn about technique, programming, assessment, and coaching from a master. For strength coaches and for athletes, these 53 videos (7 hours and 56 minutes of footage) will prepare you to understand the main lifts for maximum performance and safety. Get ready to learn...

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