I turned 30 yesterday and wanted to share what I have learned (so far) in my career training and coaching. As I began to write this I thought “I wish I was turning 100 because there is so much to say!”
If you missed Part 1 it is here. (The First 15)
16. If I had to choose 5 tools to use with my athletes it would be a barbell, kettlebells, suspension trainers, resistance bands and medicine balls.
- This is kind of easy…Making this choice is about choosing what is important to you. With this I am able to train power (in both the sagital plane, and transverse plane) and with multiple tools. I am able to train upper body and lower body “push/pull” patterns, and train the core for all of its anti-rotation, and anti-extension properties. Easy question lets make these things harder!!!
17. If I had to choose 2 tools to use with my athletes it would be a barbell, and medicine balls
- Down to 2 things… I must really decide what is important to me. As I see it, its all about producing more explosive power. I would choose barbells so that I can complete the Olympic lifts and traditional power lifts, and medicine balls so that I can train power through rotation.
18. The potential for nutrition to improve performance is endless.
- So maybe there is an end to the improvements you can make through nutrition, but not many people are even close. FULL DISCLOSURE ALERT!!! In college my preparation for a big meet in the weightroom and on the track was flawless, great training all around. Unfortunately for me my diet was horrendous, in fact I can recall eating something like 1 dozen donuts in the couple days before a meet. My performance at the meet sucked. Surprise!!! For me the improvements I could make in my diet were at that point endless, I don’t do that anymore, but I still think there is no limit to how much better my diet can get.
19. There is no substitute for play and movement at a young age.
- Recently, a really good friend of mine, Rufus Blackbone, a.ka. Grant Gardis shared this story about the training of an elite weightlifter at an early age. When asked about early training the elite weightlifter said that he learned by having weight put on a bar, completing a lift and then going outside in his yard to play for 10-15 minutes, he would come back in and complete another lift and do this for several hours each day. Talk about the coolest training model ever! Think about the positive emotions that will then be associated with training for the rest of your life.
20. The 10,000 hour rule is true.
- The popularity of books like Outliers and Talent is Overrated brought the idea of 10,000 hours of deliberate practice before reaching elite status to the forefront of conversation of experts. Some though have rejected it and said “what if you are just really smart?” In my experience there is no substitute for deliberate practice whether practicing as a coach or an athlete. For those that haven’t reached that level, or aren’t “in the trenches” everyday, I take their advice with a grain of salt.
21. Training with a goal, purpose, or competition in mind makes coming to the gym easier.
- Boy have I learned this the hard way. For years and years, I was always training for the next meet, or the next season, but when my competitive career ended in 2008 I really struggled to find the purpose to my training. I have had to create artificial goals, like the next vacation, or celebrating my 30th birthday with a 300lb clean to get through tough training sessions. That being said when you are able to train, just because training is great, there is a very cool realization to be had.
22. If you start a fitness business, make sure that someone wants to be the person that focuses on the business.
- I am not going to do a lot on this site about business because quite frankly I have a business partner that knocks most all of that stuff out of the park. That is what makes my fitness business work well. We share the same vision, but have different priorities within the business. I will say this, as what I believe to be the last business post on this blog, I think a successful business puts relationships highest on the list of priorities.
23. Sharpen yourself through a network of great coaches.
- We are in a golden age of coaching right now, it is so easy to reach out to, connect with, and learn from great coaches. Twenty years ago, I don’t even know how you would do it, write a letter? (GASP!!!) I really try to ask the experts when I encounter a situation that I cannot handle myself. Not only do I try to reach out to these coaches, but I also make an effort to surround myself in my business with the best coaches possible.
24. You can never stop learning.
- If I go a month without reading a new book, or attending a continuing education event, I truly feel like I am falling behind. Innovation, and new information are all around us all the time. Go seek it out.
25. Power Clean vs. Hang Clean, I choose both.
- For my athletes, most of whom are not competing in Olympic lifting I choose to do hang cleans. There are a variety of reasons, but I will touch on a few
– Hang cleans allow for better success sooner.
– Most problems that athletes encounter happen in the 1st pull off of the floor
– The hang clean start position is so similar to other activities that it seems to have much more carry over to the field.
– There are rarely mobility restrictions that make the hang clean impossible, the power clean is another story.
Power cleans are something of a staple in programs though, and I find it entirely necessary to teach them to my athletes. Once I have taught them, they are a great way to increase the work done by athletes in a given session. If you really pressed me on it though, I would likely choose cleans from a block. Same goes for the snatch.
26. For athletes that need pressing strength, you have to have to overhead press.
- Pressing overhead gets a bad rap, there are lists online that let you know of all the people that shouldn’t do presses. While I do agree that not everyone is ready to press overhead, if an athlete is ready they should press overhead. Particularly if an athlete needs strength in other movements that require pressing, they must overhead press. You have to be strong from head to toe to press overhead. Put something heavy overhead and the weak link in the kinetic chain will show itself.
27. If you want to learn about training talk to some old school track coaches.
- Track coaches are the original performance coaches. Everything about the sport is about creating someone that can perform at their peak at a given time. In essence we do the same thing, track coaches have been doing it for 30 years. Check out this lecture series from amazing coach Dan Pfaff if you don’t believe me.
28. Your own experience training is not everything, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have done it.
- When I say “done it” I think about even having done the movements, or trained at some level. I have coached and helped develop some really good basketball players and the extent of my basketball playing ended in my sophomore year of high school. (When I told the varsity coach I wasn’t playing my sophomore year, he said “you played last year??”). Proficiency in movements you are coaching will make your understanding even deeper. Struggling to succeed at a particular movement will make you better able to communicate to your athletes.
29. Speed comes down to 2 things: power and technique.
- I figured out quickly that I was missing something when it came to speed. My first big improvements came from learning to Olympic lift, I increased my power and was able to run faster. My next big improvement came when I learned HOW to sprint. I improved my technique and was able run even faster. I am not sure which should come first, so I break up speed training with my athletes into technique and power focused sessions.
30. It can sound cliché, but there is no substitute for hard work.
- If I think about the most talented athletes I have coached I would say that 50% of them were actually motivated to work hard. Of the remaining 50% that weren’t motivated, or didn’t work hard, there came a point in which they were forced to work hard to continue improving (Some in high school, some in college, some even after college). Those that rejected that choice and continued to not embrace hard work faded away. This is NATURAL SELECTION FOR ATHLETES.
31. Technique for Olympic lifts is individualized.
- This is an interesting point that I have always noticed but only recently have I been able to verbalize it in the right way. Watching elite weightlifters you see so much variance in the way they complete the lift, how does this apply to the athletes you train? I actually don’t think that it does apply. I think the same coaching cues and similar technique will work for 95% of all athletes that you encounter in the Olympic lifts. They will each put their own variation on it, and as long as it is not hindering the safety or efficiency of their technique, you can let it go. In the case that the athlete is reaching a pinnacle of strength, or performance the variation will likely be a reason that they succeed. The book Bones of Iron by Matt Foreman does an excellent job of expanding on this point.
32. Don’t ever design your own program.
- At age 30, I think that this is the thing that I have learned most recently, or at least has been hammered into me in the last several years. I find it nearly impossible to design my own programs, I make them too hard or too easy. Maybe it is just the idea that the only person I will be letting down is myself. I have had to ask Ryan or other coaches to design it for me. There is something to be said for not knowing everything about the person for whom you are designing a program. If I continue to design my own programs I would most likely choose hang cleans, hang snatches and squats for the rest of my life and I might need more variation.
I am blessed to have had the chance to train so many great athletes, work with such great coaches, and have such great family and friends. Here’s to hoping the next 30 years are as good as the first 30 years.