Thursday, June 16, 2011

I've Moved....

You can continue to check out my ramblings at

Thank you to all those who continue to read this site daily. I originally started it as a way to help out some friends in college and it's cool to see people from all over the globe tuning in.

I'll now be writing over on the blog at SAPT's website. This way, you'll be able to read fresh content every day. I know I've been a bit sporadic on this site, but now you'll be able to see something new each time you tune in (with the exceptions of weekends).

I'll be writing every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and you'll get to hear from Chris and Sarah (the two awesome coaches I work with) on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Again, head on over to to tune in. I'll see you over there!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

3 Training Myths Exposed, Vol. 2

(Note: the link at the bottom takes you to my most recent OneResult article)

In the first volume of this series we discussed three training mistakes happening at gyms across the country. I’d, however, be flat out lying to you if I said those are the only three I see on a daily basis.
Thus, in an effort to set the record straight here are three more myths that need to be exposed. We’re all, at one time or another, guilty of doing one or more of these, so please read on, help spread the word, and let’s set the record straight once and for all.

Mistake #4: Copious Volumes of Long Distance Running

It seems when an athlete (or even your general fitness enthusiast) seeks advice for conditioning, he or she usually hears something like:

“Let’s see, ummm….just go on a long run 2-3x/week….yeah, that should do it!”

Here are three things more productive than performing copious amounts of long distance running:

Continue Reading….

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hello Sensei, Please Improve my Running Technique

I've written in the past how roughly 60-70% of runners will suffer a serious injury in a given year. This is primarily due to two critical variables: poor general movement quality, and less-than-optimal running specific technique. The terrible movement quality that most runners possess is a byproduct of musculoskeletal weakness, mobility restrictions (in key areas), and lack of stability (in key locations). When you take all of those deficiencies and utilize them to perform roughly 1,500 plyometric repetitions per mile, it’s no surprise that most runners end up injured in one form or another.


When it comes down to running technique, most people don’t think twice about hiring a coach to help them. They just hop on the road and get after it. Let me ask you:
  • If you had never been shown how to swim, would you jump in the deep end for a casual dive?
  • If you had never been taught how to spar, would you enter a cage for a mixed martial arts fight?
  • If you had never been instructed on how to drive, would you just hop in the car and speed off on the highway? Well, maybe some of you would, but I digress.
Yet most of us, when we want to run, just go out and do it. Interesting, huh?

I’ve previously discussed how hiring a coach is extremely important if you’re serious about reaching a particular goal. This may be a business coach, a martial arts coach, or a strength coach (wink wink). It’s a no brainer that if we genuinely want to reach our goals as efficiently and effectively as possible, then we should hire an expert to guide us to a desired outcome.


Well, this past weekend was an opportunity for me to put my money where my mouth is. As I’m increasingly falling in love with obstacle course races, and would like to pursue this endeavor for quite a long time (and thus need to keep myself free of chronic injury), I decided to meet with a running instructor (and fellow strength colleague) John, to help me “fix my stuff.” In fact, Kelsey (my fiancĂ©e, and also a CSCS) joined in, too, so it created something fun/relaxing to do as a couple in the midst of wedding preparation.

It was an incredible learning experience for both Kelsey and I, and also a fantastic reminder for what it’s like to be on the other side of a coaching session. Given that both of us spend the majority of our week helping others with movement-related exercises/improvements, it was definitely cool to be the ones receiving the coaching cues for a change. It was also a great reminder to experience what it feels like to try something new, and go through the step-by-step process of learning a new skill.

Here is a video that John took of me running before any instruction. He just told me to run as if I was going on a nice Summer jaunt. I slowed down the video so you can see what’s actually happening.

You can see that I reach WAY out in front of me, landing on my heel and keeping my center of mass well behind my foot strike. There’s a host of other problems (that John pointed out to me), but I’ll keep it simple for now.

After John filmed Kelsey and me running in our “natural” form, he took us inside for about 75-minutes of instruction and practice. We performed drills on a wall, partner-assisted exercises, and various progressions to help us learn proper running technique. It was pretty cool and John did an excellent job of teaching us to “crawl” before we run. It reminded me of how, at SAPT, we teach someone to goblet squat well before placing them under a barbell.

Now, look at my running form after John worked with us. Obviously it is still far from perfect (you can only perfect so much in 75-minutes), but I was still amazed at the improvement in such short a time span:

You can see that I now land on the ball of the foot, keeping my center of mass over my foot strike (thus significantly reducing the impact force on my body). Again, there were MANY other improvements that John helped us with (slightly leaning forward to take advantage of gravity’s assistance, “pulling” with the rear leg, maintaining a neutral pelvic tilt, landing softly, etc.), but I’ll spare the detail for now.

I still have a LOT to work on, and the greatest challenge for me will be to resist the urge on performing 800-meter repeats (or even 200 meters) with a different running form than I'm used to. Just like we SAPT coaches won't put someone under a barbell until they've proved they're ready for it, I need to "cook myself slow" in order to set myself up for success in long haul. Rome wasn't built in a day, ya know?

Anyway, I guess the point of this post was to:

A) Give a gentle reminder that, no matter who you are, you're never above receiving instruction from someone else. It would have done me no good to stubbornly insist that I don't need help with something exercise-related because I'm a performance coach. We can ALWAYS improve on something, even if it's within the same general sphere as our "expertise."

B) Bring home the point that we need to be PROactive in our modalities for treating dysfunction, not REactive. Most runners (and lifters) tend to treat their problems only after they arrive (surgery, ice, NSAIDs, etc.) instead of taking measures to prevent an issue before it even arrives. In this case, for me, it was learning how run more efficiently (reduce ground impact forces upon landing, expend as little energy as possible on each step, etc.), in hope that I can enjoy something I love for a longer period of time with minimal interruptions.

C) There is no C, but I wanted three points, so there we go.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Charlotte: Powerlifting, Golf, etc.

Over the weekend, SAPT staff traveled down to Charlotte, NC. It provided an awesome opportunity to talk shop outside the constant distractions of NOVA, get intense and "Do Work" at a USAPL powerlifting competition, and relax out on the golf course.

Sarah, Ryan, Sean, and John all competed at the powerlifting meet, and I couldn't have been more proud of them. Sarah isn't even a year out from giving birth to her first child, so it was impressive enough that she was getting under the bar and compete postpartum. Ryan, Sean, and John all hit personal records in each of their lifts. Needless to say, I was proud to be a "SAPTer" on Saturday.

Getting right to it, below are a few highlights from the meet.

Here's a picture of Sarah at the bottom of the Squat. (Being the brilliant person I am, I didn't think to walk around to the front of the platform to shoot video footage until after the first wave, so I failed capture Sarah or John's squat on video.)

Next is Sean nailing his squat in the 3rd flight. My favorite part about the squat videos is that you can distinctly hear Chris yell his favorite coaching cue as they come out of the hole (hint: it starts with "H", ends in "s", and has "e-e-l" somewhere in the middle):

Sean easily wins the "Most Improved Squat" award of the weekend, as he made ENORMOUS advancements over his 12-week competition prep phase. I was with him when he squatted twelve weeks ago - helping him determine the weight to base his percentages off for the subsequent training cycle. I felt as if I needed to physically shove him down in order get his hip crease parallel because his hips were so tight. It was awesome to see him diligently attack hip mobility throughout the past few months - and also give himself an honest assessment of where he was at - so that he could make the most of his training. It paid off, to say the least.

Here is Ryan hitting another PR in his Squat. Ryan's body (and mind) definitely took a beating as he was finishing out his semester of grad school, so it was cool to see him remain consistent in training and come out strong with PRs on all his lifts.

Next we have John Delgado hitting a solid bench press.

For those of you who may not be familiar with powerlifting: your bench can easily be 20-50lbs LESS (depending) than your typical bench press in the gym, as you have to demonstrate control on the way down, pause on the chest, and then come up. Not to mention: your shoulders/head, butt, and feet (heels included) need to remain in contact with the bench/floor.

Moving on to the Deadlift, we have (in order): Sarah, John, Sean, and Ryan all killing it. I can confidently say we had some of the cleanest looking deadlifts of the competition (some of the pulls I saw made me want to crawl into a corner and curl up in the fetal position).

Sarah pulling a solid conventional dead (in the past she went Sumo):

Delgado hitting a big PR (and he sets the bar down as if he's holding a newborn. Love it.):

Sean "Sandbag" Healy breaking the big 400 barrier! "Easy" goes the moderator. He blasted through this one. And you'll have to ask Delgado about the nickname (which fit perfectly).

Ryan hitting a PR and then spinning around to watch all three white lights shining. Awesome.

And, just so we can prove we DO enjoy other things besides the weight room, here is the SAPT staff (me, Ryan, Chris, Sarah) getting some sun out on the UNC Charlotte golf course.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Be back soon...

I'm down in Charlotte, NC for a USAPL powerlifting competition Thursday-Sunday. Chris and I are going headed off to support the rest of the SAPT staff (Sarah, Ryan, John, and Sean) as they pick up some heavy things.

Be back next week!

Chris hoisting 675lbs at a previous competition. I work with stronger people than you do...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

2 Outside-the-Box Exercises (to do with as you may...)

Getting right to it, I thought I'd share two exercises you probably haven't tried before. The first is something I had toyed around with (and liked it) in the Summer of 2009, and the second is a tool we'll use with some of our wrestlers and combat athletes.

1. The 1-Minute Chinup

I forgot how brutal this really was until I went to try it again. As the name implies, it's a chinup that takes you one minute to complete. That's one rep, performed for 60 seconds. Take 30 seconds to pull yourself up, and then immediately transition into a 30-second eccentric. I wouldn't try this unless you're already fairly proficient at chinups (able to execute 12-15 bodyweight reps with perfect form). See the video below for a demonstration (fortunately, you can't see my face...):

I would say this exercise is good for 3 reasons:
  1. A variation to improve your chinups (crazy, huh?!). My guess, however, is that this variation will help improve your chinup endurance as opposed to maximum chinup strength. Thirty seconds is a loonnng time to be moving through the concentric portion of the lift, and an equally long time to be controlling the eccentric portion of the chinup. It's also pretty widely accepted that isometric training will help to improve strength and neural control for the given joint angle involved in the contraction, and with the 1-minute chinup you essentially receive a "mini-isometric" throughout the entire range or motion (and thus, each joint angle) of the chinup.
  2. To the gents in the crowd seeking to Sculpt 'da Gunz: you can't go wrong with some time-under-tension to elicit some growth in the biceps. I honestly don't think there is one particular exercise that is superior for increasing arm size. However, rotating exercises will almost always elicit a favorable response from the body as you have to adapt to that new stimulus. Given that very few people I know have tried this, it will probably be a solid catalyst for growth for you Broz out there. 
  3. To make you hate life. Don't think I need to explain this one. 
Again, to reiterate: don't try this unless you already possess pretty solid chinup proficiency. Also, I would suggest keeping the frequency of the 1-minute chinup to one day a week in training.

2. Scramble to Tire Flip

I realize many of you reading probably won't be able to do this due to equipment limitations (although you can always pick up a tire FOR FREE at your local tire supplier....just sayin'). However, it's just plain fun, which is enough reason for me to share it. Below is SAPT athlete, Greg (state runner-up and seven-time all-American wrestler), demonstrating the movement as he prepares for his college wrestling career:

Given that wrestlers - and fighters - frequently need to quickly reset their spatial orientation/focus (from rolling around, or being flipped over) and push back on an opponent, we'll often add these "scramble to tire flip" variations in their training program.  You can perform a number of drills before flipping the tire: rolls (as Greg displays), side crawls, up-downs, etc. You're limited by your own imagination.

If you're not a competitive wrestler or fighter, you can always give these a shot to make you feel good about yourself, or if you're simply feeling pumped up after watching a testosterone-infused movie like gladiator.