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Because Heavy Things Won’t Lift Themselves
Updated: 18 hours 29 min ago

Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 9/20/19

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 09:01

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

 

BUT FIRST…CHECK OUT WHERE I’M GOING 1. Coaching Competency Workshop – New York, NY: Sunday, November 3, 2019

2. (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint – Athens, Greece: Saturday, Feb 29th & Sunday, March 1st, 2020

This will be the first leg of mine and Dean Somerset’s European extravaganza in early 2020. The second leg will take place in…

3. (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint – Maidenhead, U.K: March 7th & 8th, 2020

There’s an Early Bird rate for both of these events, so keep that in mind before you decide to hold off. Dean and I are really excited for this and hope to see you there!

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Twitter

You don’t have to squat, deadlift, bench press, carry, do any chin-ups, or otherwise lift heavy(ish) objects.

It’ll make you healthier, get you stronger, likely curtail depression (as with any exercise), & improve confidence.

Wait…maybe you should do those things…;o)

— Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore1) September 17, 2019

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This likely won’t blow anyone’s mind, but here’s a simple way to prevent the bar from slipping out of your hands when you don’t have access to chalk. . Take two (ankle) band thingamajiggies and wrap them around the bar as pictured. . Congrats. You just pulled a McGyver.

A post shared by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on Sep 13, 2019 at 5:43am PDT

STUFF TO READ WHILE YOU’RE PRETENDING TO WORK Is a Diastasis Recti Normal? – Dr. Sarah Duvall

If you’re a fitness professional you WILL see this and it’s important to recognize it and to have a handful of strategies in your back pocket to address it.

How to Build a Successful Career and Rewarding Career in Fitness – Nate Green

There’s no “easy” path or formula, but Nate provides an excellent blueprint in this article.

What If You Stopped Worrying About Employees Maintaining Personal Brands? – Pete Dupuis

Whenever I hear stories of gyms stifling their employees’ ability to develop personal brands I can’t help but shake my head.

It’s dumb.

Like, dumber than opening a protein shaker bottle you left in your car in 95 degree heat for a week.

The post Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 9/20/19 appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Subtle Tricks to Increase Motivation With Personal Training Clients

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 13:36

Being married to a psychologist has it’s disadvantages:

  • I have to talk about my feelings.
  • All
  • the
  • Time

There are far more perks, however. Most of what “drains” me as a coach isn’t so much the x’s and o’s of writing programs or the ability to ascertain what may be the root cause of someone’s shoulder pain. Those are pretty much second nature at this point in my career.

No, what drains me the most is figuring out people.

Specifically, what motivates one person to workout (and stick with it) as opposed to what makes the next person do the same?

It’s a quagmire to say the least, and often takes too much mental gymnastics for my liking.

Copyright: seventyfour74 / 123RF Stock Photo

Autonomy = The “It” Factor to Getting Results

This is where my wife, Dr. Lisa Lewis, comes in.

Before I met her anytime I worked with someone who seemingly lacked discipline or “hoodzpah” to get after it in the gym…I’d often resort to some tough love.

I’d assume (s)he didn’t want it enough and my default was to question their work ethic. I wouldn’t be a dick or anything, but I also didn’t go out of my way to demonstrate much compassion or empathy.

When my wife and I started dating I’d often bring up work with her and attempt to commiserate on how this client wouldn’t work hard during their session or how that client just seemed to not care about getting results or how it just really, really sucked that I had to wear pants.

I’d be all like “what the hell!?!” and then throw a chair through a window or something, and then she’d be all like…

“you know, maybe you just need to do a better job at learning about what actually motivates people?”

And this was when I was first introduced to the Self-Determination Theory.

There’s no need to go too far into the weeds. All you need to know about SDT is that it was popularized by psychologists Edward Deci & Richard Ryan and that it revolves around…

a macro theory of human motivation and personality that concerns people’s inherent growth tendencies and innate psychological needs. It is concerned with the motivation behind choices people make without external influence and interference. SDT focuses on the degree to which an individual’s behavior is self-motivated and self-determined.”

The three main components are:

  • Competence
  • Autonomy
  • Relatedness

For the sake of brevity I’m going to hone in on autonomy or the power of choice.

In short, people don’t like to be told what to do.

In the fitness industry this comes across as bit absurd given that’s exactly why most people hire us in the first place.

However, one of the biggest changes I’ve made in my coaching philosophy – in no small part due to my wife’s nudging through the years – is working on autonomy and offering clients more choice in their programming.

It’s not only made a profound difference in helping clients stay motivated to workout, but it’s also helped to expedite their results and progress.

Here’s a few suggestions and examples.

1. Allowing Them to Choose the Main Lift of the Day

I live in a bit of a strength & conditioning bubble. Most people who start to work with me already know what they’re getting themselves into.

They’re going to lift heavy things and they’re going to listen to some EDM while doing it.

via GIPHY

One “trick” I’ll use – especially with beginners – is to let them choose their main lift of the day. If performing some squats will fill their training love tank that day, that’s what we’ll do.

Likewise, if they want to deadlift, we’ll deadlift.

The only exercise I’ll say a hard no to is kipping pull-ups.

I’d rather them jump into a shark’s mouth.

But can you see the inherent advantage this approach provides?  If you have a client who’s having a hard time with motivation or just can’t seem to get “jazzed-up” for a particular session, maybe all you need to do is give them a bit more choice.

Assuming, of course, you’re taking into consideration their goals, injury history, and ability level.

2. Choosing the Variation of a Particular Exercise

It’s squat day.

[Cue the cacophony of moans]

Admittedly, not many people – outside of the truly masochistic – draw a sense of butterfly kisses and rainbows from squat day.

That being said, another trick to employ is to allow clients to choose what variation of a particular exercise they’re going to perform that day.

Squat
  • Box Squat
  • Back Squat
  • Front Squat
  • Goblet Squat
  • Landmine Squat
  • 2-KB Front Squat

 

There are many options; and we haven’t even discussed things like ladder sets, drop sets, rest/pause sets, or even tweaks that can be made with stance, tempo, or even speciality bars (SSB, Duffalo, Cambered, etc).

Giving clients some say on the variation they’re going to perform that day is a game changer in terms of creating more  “buy in” in that session.

3. Free Time

Another tactic I use often to help increase motivation is to give clients a 5-10 minute “window” at the end of their session to do whatever they want.

Most of my male clients choose to do some additional arms or “Gun Show” work.

Most of my female clients choose to do some additional glute or “badonkadonk” work.

 

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Here’s my client @therealalexandrashow performing one my favorite badonkadonk exercises to finish her workout tonight. . Hip Thrust Ladder. . 5 reps…5s hold at top. . 4 reps…4s hold at top. . 3 reps…3s hold at top. . 2 reps…2s hold at top. . 1 rep…1s hold at top. . It’s now Glute O’clock.

A post shared by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on Jan 21, 2019 at 5:53pm PST

And, not coincidentally, most of the wizards I work with prefer to use their time pecifying their pecs.

Science.

#dumbledoreisswole

All told, this approach serves as a nice compromise. So long as the client completes what’s on their program – and does what I want them to do – I am more than happy to give him or her some free time and choose their fate at the end of the session.

If they leave with a bicep or glute pump, and are happy, I am down with that.

The post Subtle Tricks to Increase Motivation With Personal Training Clients appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Appearance on the BarBend Podcast

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 08:58

Copyright: dr911 / 123RF Stock Photo

What’s Really Important in Strength

I made it back home to Boston and it was lovely to hug my wife and see Julian for the first time in two weeks. I mean, is there anything better than walking into your kid’s Pre-K classroom, him recognizing you, and seeing him sprint towards you, arms wide open, with a massive smile on his face? 1

I’m still playing a bit of email catch-up today in addition to being smacked around a little bit with some entrepreneurial shenanigans. In light of that I wanted to share my most recent podcast appearance, which took place with my friend, David Tao, of BarBend.com

You can give it a listen HERE (there’s also a full transcription of the conversation in case you’d rather NOT listen to my silky, sexy voice).

For the Apple snobs in the crowd you can listen on iTunes HERE (September 16th episode).

The post Appearance on the BarBend Podcast appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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6 Week MASS Building Routine: Your Quest for a Bigger, Stronger Physique Begins Here

Tue, 09/17/2019 - 03:51

I’m traveling back to Boston from London today. I’ve been away for two weeks presenting at three different workshops. I’ve had a lovely stay, but am looking forward to heading home and my wife handing Julian over to me as soon as I walk through the door.

Thanks to Boston based personal trainer, George Kalantzis, for contributing today’s guest post.

Copyright: shevtsovy / 123RF Stock Photo

6 Week MASS Building Routine: Start Here

Labor day has come and gone, the days are shorter, and the nights are colder.

That means it’s bulking season.

But you don’t come to Tony’s website for some cookie-cutter bullshit program. Over the next six weeks, you will craft a new physique using intense workouts, discipline, and commitment to add mass.

via GIPHY

Setting the Expectations For A Clean Bulk

Nothing gets me more fired up than people who are not willing to put in the work to get desired results.

When I competed in natural bodybuilding last year, I heard questions like “how do you gain muscle and shred down,” how can I look bigger without gaining fat?” What supplements did you take?

The list goes on.

I hate to burst your bubble, but the universe does not bend at the whims of your desire. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot have your cake and eat it too.

So how do you bulk without gaining excessive weight?

To achieve a clean bulk, you must learn how to gain 2-5 pounds per month with half of that weight being muscle, and half of that weight being fat. This will keep your composition in an ideal state for optimal performance.

So just eat more food, right?

Not quite, too much junk food during a bulk is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Nutrition does matter, and most people will either eat a surplus of shitty food or not eat enough. That is one of the toughest things about adding solid mass.


You can expect to gain some body fat during a bulk, but not an excessive amount.

We are aiming to build a stronger engine so that you can increase size, which means you’ll need to gain healthy amounts of body fat.

Don’t get discouraged if you see others gain size quickly or achieve different results, gaining mass is about putting in the work, and for some, adding quality size can take time.

Your Blueprint For Success

Life is motion.

The world continues to rotate on the axis, and every day is an opportunity to grow. Your body is the secret to many things. Yet more often, many of us cheat our way through training, going through motions and we never achieve the results we look for.

Today is the day we put an end to all of that.

Very specifically, this template is designed to form the basis of your training to put on size using bodybuilding methods. Because this is a hypertrophy program, it will help with putting on size, but if you are a powerlifter or strong man, this might not be the best program for you.

An additional benefit of this program is that it will help raise your work capacity and thus prepare you even better for the strength phase training you’ll do after.

What’s more, this program will help spare muscle loss when you decide to cut back down.

This will be your blueprint for a six-week mass building phase.

You’ll notice it is broken down into two three-week phases, each phase using a combination of compound exercises and machines to maximize your results. It is these movements where we will construct a blueprint for adding some serious size.

Phase I

Our first phase consists of flooding the muscles by using compound exercises performed in the optimal range to transform your energy into muscle mass.

During the first three weeks, you’ll be training five days a week in a split that is three days of training, with two days off.

You’ll repeat 3/2 for three weeks in the following format: legs, push, pull.

The great thing about a 3/2 cycle is you can alternate it according to your life.

As long as you train three out of every five days, you’ll provide enough stimulus for growth.

At first, you’ll notice that the program does not look lie much, but to prevent overtraining and generate the highest anabolic response, you’ll stick to three working sets, not including your warmup sets.

Phase II

Now that your muscles are primed for growth, this phase makes insane changes to your physique.

You’ll go from training five days to six days, and you’ll do different exercises and reps ranges. As with the first phase, adjust the days according to your lifestyle, but keep the days in order and make sure to train all six days.

Conclusion

It is human nature to fear the unknown, but it would be inhuman to not yearn for something greater. If you want to experience changes in your physique, you must pushup yourself past your comfort zone. This six-week bulk will give you the tools you need to pack on some serious size.

About the Author

George Kalantzis began his career as decorated Marine with over ten years of faithful service and deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s worked with everyone from professional athletes, celebrities, busy executives, and alongside some of the top strength coaches in the world.

Today he spends most of his time coaching at Equinox in Boston, and outside of work with his gorgeous little daughter. Please feel free to say hi over on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, as he loves meeting and connecting with new people.

The post 6 Week MASS Building Routine: Your Quest for a Bigger, Stronger Physique Begins Here appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 9/14/19

Sat, 09/14/2019 - 07:12

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

BUT FIRST…CHECK THIS STUFF OUT 1. (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint – Athens, Greece: Saturday, Feb 29th & Sunday, March 1st, 2020

This will be the first leg of mine and Dean Somerset’s European extravaganza in early 2020. The second leg will take place in…

2. (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint – Maidenhead, U.K: March 7th & 8th, 2020

There’s an Early Bird rate for both of these events, so keep that in mind before you decide to hold off. Dean and I are really excited for this and hope to see you there!

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Twitter

Dear high school athlete:

Please, please, please, please, PLEASE:

1. Stop using the excuse “you don’t have time in the morning to eat breakfast.” Get up 10 minutes earlier and get it done.

2. Start your off-season training IMMEDIATELY, not two weeks before the season starts.

— Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore1) September 11, 2019

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The Rack Pull-Up. . This is a variation I picked up from @liftrunbang and it’s grown to be one of my favorites. . It’s sorta a “hybrid” between an Inverted Row and a Pull-Up, which, not coincidentally, makes it one of my go to exercises when working with someone who’s goal it is to perform their first pull-up. . It’s not quite a pull-up, but it’s close. Sorta like Spam. It’s not quite meat but it’s close. . Anyway…this is also a fantastic accessory pulling/upper back exercise. What makes it really worthwhile is how we can accentuate the lat stretch in the bottom due to the increased ROM. . I like to aim for 6-15 reps per set with these. Pants optional. . Oh, also, props to @ampathletic who’s been allowing me to drop in everyday while in London (and for playing siiiiick EDM).

A post shared by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on Sep 12, 2019 at 6:13am PDT

STUFF TO READ WHILE YOU’RE PRETENDING TO WORK Build Strong Glutes – Meghan Callaway & Matthew Ibrahim

Gluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuutes.

The Dangers of Poor Sleep and How You Can Fix It – Andrew Coates

I’m an unabashed fan of going the fuck to bed.

This was an EXCELLENT post by Andrew on the pitfalls of lack of sleep and some strategies to help improve it.

Glute Lab – Bret Contreras

More glutes from the President of Glute O’Clock…Bret Contreras.

I actually pre-ordered my copy (but it’s NOW available to purchase). I can’t wait to  dive in.

The post Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 9/14/19 appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Safety Squat Yoke Bar: Training Application

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 09:43

This is a Tony Gentilcore & Matthew Ibrahim collaborative post.

Or, as I like to call it: A Gentilhim (or Ibracore?) production.

The Safety Squat Yoke Bar (also referred to as “SSB”) is a popular speciality bar that’s most often affiliated with collegiate strength & conditioning facilities, powerlifting gyms, or gyms that are a bit more “serious.”1

However, the Safety Squat bar has grown in popularity in recent years and it’s popping up in more commercial and boutique style gyms as well.

This is great because Matt and I both feel the Yoke Bar is a valuable piece of equipment, one that should be in every gym, with a variety of training applications.

Read on to see what they are.

Copyright: 60dudek / 123RF Stock Photo

Safety Squat Yoke Bar in Your Face, Son

Before I proceed it would make sense to show you a picture of the bar so you know what we’re talking about.

Advantages

1. The SSB is a more “shoulder friendly” way of squatting. Because you grab the bar by the handles which, when the bar is on your back, are located below your shoulders and a smidge in front of the body, it doesn’t require as aggressive of a set-up as a traditional back squat.

Traditional Back Squat (Straight Bar) = Shoulders maximally abducted and external rotated. Many lifters don’t have access to this range of motion and as a result their shoulders are like…

 

SSB/Yoke Squat = Not the above.

2. The SSB is more of a “hybrid” squat. As Matt notes:

Since the SSB has a longer bar camber from side to side (as opposed to a traditional barbell) plus a unique loading position for weight plates, it offers the lifter a fine balance between what they would expect from a barbell back squat and from a barbell front squat.

3. The SSB “fixes” your squat. Mirroring what Matt mentioned above, because of how the bar is designed, you have to fight like hell to stay upright (which, not coincidentally, makes it a great option to strengthen the upper back AND help work on thoracic extension; two things most people need more of).

As you get stronger with the SSB/Yoke Bar it’ll make things infinitely easier to stay upright if or when you revert back  to a straight bar.

4. The SSB = 110 Power Boost in World of Warcraft (but only with a +1 Shield and Infinity Cloak).

Nerd.

5. The SSB helps with depth. Because the bar is situated higher up on the back it promotes more of a “squat down” pattern rather that “squat back.”

This, in turn, will often help a lot of people squat deeper (if that’s something they’re interested in).

Here’s an SSB Squat in action.

 

The SSB Squat exercise is quite common and frequently used.

We wanted to delve a bit deeper to provide several other lower body training exercises you could perform with the SSB that you may not be using already in your overall strength and conditioning program.

1. SSB Hatfield RFE Split Squat (Matt)

Description: This exercise targets lower body strength and power, primarily in the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes.

The trunk stability challenge here is the real deal as well, since you’re holding on to each side of the squat rack with your hands while the SSB rests on your shoulders. Be sure to press the entire surface of the working foot down through the ground as you power up from the bottom position to the top during each rep.

I’m a monster fan of this exercise due to the strength and power development components.

 

2. SSB Reverse Lunge (Tony)

Description: This was a staple exercise we utilized when I was coaching at Cressey Sports Performance due to it’s shoulder friendliness in addition to the fact we could be more aggressive with loading compared to dumbbells (grip becomes  less of a limiting factor).

As with any single leg exercise there’s also a hefty balance and coordination component as well. I prefer a bit of a forward lean when executing this exercise as it places less stress on the lower back and also allows for more emphasis to be placed on the hips.

 

3. SSB 1-Leg RDL (Matt)

Description: This exercise targets lower body strength, primarily in the posterior chain muscle group (hamstrings and glutes). As the SSB rests on your shoulders, be sure to hold the handle grips tight with each hand to ensure trunk stability.

It’s important to also mention the relevance of keeping a neutral-ish spine as you descend down into the bottom position due to the orientation of the load on your shoulders. I like this exercise due to the single leg strength and stability demand it poses to the athlete.

 

4. SSB Front Squat (Tony)

Description: This is a variation I first witnessed my man Jim Smith – of Diesel Strength – recommend a few years. ago.  I won’t go into the weeds on the benefits of a front squat

– you can read more HERE – but what I will say is that this variation is a wonderful way to counterpoint any client/athlete who insists that barbell front squats are too uncomfortable for him or her to perform,

I get it.

They suck.

They’re uncomfortable.

I don’t care, do this instead.

 

5. SSB Good Morning (Matt)

Description: Talking about posterior chain development without mentioning the Good Morning exercise is like eating eggs without the bacon; you just don’t do it.

The Barbell Good Morning has been a staple training tool for years when attempting to develop the glutes and hamstrings of the posterior chain muscle group. The SSB offers a slightly anterior loaded position when compared to the traditional barbell loaded version, which forces you to hinge your hips back even more than usual. I enjoy using this exercise as a way to really “feel” the hamstrings under load.

 

6. SSB Pin Squat (Tony)

Description: I loooooooooove2 this variation as an accessory movement to the deadlift.

The key is to try to approximate the pin height to one’s hips height so that it “matches” their deadlift setup. In other words: the starting position of the Pin Squat should mirror their deadlift setup.

Factor in the increased demand to maintain an upright torso (t-spine extension) and your entire posterior chain is going to be challenged with this exercise.

The post Safety Squat Yoke Bar: Training Application appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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30 Days of Shoulders: Days 21-30

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 07:26

Copyright: pjphotography / 123RF Stock Photo

30 Days of Shoulders: Days 21-30

The third and final installment of my “30 Days of Shoulders” series went live today over at T-Nation.com. All three parts cover everything from shoulder assessment and tips on shoulder friendly pressing t0 how to improve shoulder health and performance.

Collectively it’ll make all your hopes and dreams come true.

Check it out —-> HERE

The post 30 Days of Shoulders: Days 21-30 appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Does Stretching Improve Performance?

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 12:08

I’m still overseas in the U.K.1

I’ve got some of my own content lined up for later this week, but today TG.com regular, Travis Hansen, was kind enough to pinch write for me today.

It’s on static stretching and whether or not there’s any efficacy towards it helping to improve athletic performance.

Enjoy.

Copyright: ammentorp / 123RF Stock Photo

Does Stretching Improve Performance?

Does the science on traditional stretching actually benefit measures of athlete performance? I’m not sure that the notion has ever been questioned and we have all, including myself, just accepted the fact that by stretching our muscles we were actually taking positive steps towards running faster, jumping higher, and becoming an overall better athlete.

Before we dive into a lot of the research lets first look at some theories for and against stretching. We will start with the pros of stretching.

Pros of Stretching

First, it’s a common belief that stretching can effectively alter the tissue length resulting in more potential energy to be stored and an effective reset to the muscle allowing it to stay healthy and perform better. The effects of stretching on injury prevention is another article topic in itself, so we will just focus on the benefits of performance for now.

Unfortunately, it’s by no means fair to sit here and say that stretching will help you perform better although it sounds great on paper.

However, stretching does affect the viscous properties of muscle fibers and creates less resistance temporarily allowing for more potential ROM; although it doesn’t seem to be a permanent adaptation. Stretching can also improve fascicle length which may have implications on muscle recruitment rates, so there is another plus for stretching.

Moving on, stretching also deals with the aftermath of training.

Stretching has been shown to improve Parasympathetic Nervous System Activation.

This is the rest and digest part of our nervous system that you probably already know about and stretching can impact this branch of the nervous system, hasten recovery, and increase the potential to train harder in subsequent sessions if the stretching is timed right.

Lastly, stretching can make sure that there are no limitations in movement.

There is a bevy of research showing that its biggest influence is through creating more range of motion and degrees of movement freedom.

There are several scenarios you could think of which would require more ROM as an athlete (i.e. deep squat prior to vertical jump takeoff, loading phase of throwing or swinging, etc.) and you wouldn’t want a limitation in flexibility to prevent any success in your skill execution.

But what if stretching doesn’t really work as well as we thought and had hoped for…………?

Maybe Stretching Isn’t the Magic Pill (Important, but Not a Panacea) 1.  Angle of Peak Torque

I read about this theory awhile back when Chris Beardsley brought the idea to light in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Basically, there are specific angles and ranges of motions where we will be most successful with different styles of training.

For example, with low velocity movements like bench press, squatting, and deadlifting the larger the range of motion and joint angle…the greater amount of force can be generated.

Conversely, with high velocity movements the ranges of motion and angles need to be much smaller in order to be successful.

All else being equal, stretching isn’t really going to offer a whole lot if you’re an athlete who relies upon high velocity performance on a regular basis.

Another thing to consider is that if you analyze the nature of most power and speed based activities, often times, athletes and clients already possess the capacity to load sufficiently and unload and propel their bodies in the intended direction.

So why then would they need to stretch more if muscles are naturally elastic and they’re already capable of the desired response?

via GIPHY

Kelly Baggett referred to this idea of movement specificity as limits of flexibility.

Most movement in sport doesn’t even come close to what a person is already capable (stretching wise) and the tasks don’t require a tremendous amount of stretching in order to perform well.

Lastly, is the old Length-Tension Relationship.

A muscle has a sweet spot in terms of optimal contraction that we should all aim for.

If there is too little or too much stretch then there will be resultant decreases in force production and performance.

Stretching then becomes questionable with this in mind since it aims to drive more motion into the tissue and surrounding joints which could cause our efforts to dissipate when the time comes.

Note From TG: I wanted to take a quick time-out to expound a bit on this topic. Please don’t take this post as an all-out attack on static stretching. My thoughts (and I think Travis’s are as well) mirror that of Mike Boyle, where, years ago there was a study that showed stretching before a vertical jump affected performance.

The knee-jerk reaction by the fitness industry was to avoid stretching with a ten-foot pole. However, if I recall, the study had it’s participants do a metric shit-ton of stretching (like 10-15 minutes worth, give or take? maybe more?), which of course isn’t ideal for performance. There’s a stark different between that and having an athlete engage in a few quick stretches.

Basically, it’s likely best not to take a yoga class right before a timed 60. Outside of that, a smidge of static stretching prior to competition isn’t going to alter the space-time continuum.

Okay, I’ll shut-up now.

This All Sounds Nice on Paper But What Does the Research Actually Say Stretching Does for Performance?

“To determine whether SS produced similar performance changes in different performance activities, the findings of the studies were separated into power–speed- or strength-based tasks. Fifty-two studies reported 82 power–speed-based measures (i.e., jumping, sprint running, throwing), with 56 nonsignificant changes, 21 significant reductions, and 5 significant improvements; collectively, there was a small 1.3% reduction in performance. Seventy-six studies reported 188 strength-based measures (i.e., 1-RM, MVC), with 79 nonsignificant changes, 108 significant reductions, and only 1 significant improvement. There was a moderate reduction in performance (–4.8%), which indicates a more substantial effect of SS on strength based activities. The stretch durations imposed between activity types were considerably longer for strength-based activities (5.1 ± 4.6 min) than for power–speed-based activities (1.5 ± 1.6 min), which may explain the greater mean performance reductions after SS.” (1)

And here is some more…

“Twenty-six studies incorporating 38 power–speed-based measures used <60 s of SS, with 29 nonsignificant changes, 4 significant reductions, and 5 significant improvements in performance; collectively, there was a trivial change in performance (–0.15%) (Supplementary Table S41). It is interesting to note that although most of the findings were not statistically significant after short-duration stretching, a greater number of significant improvements than reductions were found in jumping (Murphy et al. 2010b), sprint running (Little and Williams 2006), and cycling (O’Connor et al. 2006) performances. Thus, there is no clear effect of short-duration SS on power–speed-based activities, although changes may be observed on a study-by-study (and hence, subject-by-subject) basis. Nonetheless, when 28 power–speed-based studies (44 measures) using ≥60 s of stretching were examined, 27 nonsignificant changes and 17 significant reductions were found, with no study reporting a significant performance improvement. Compared with shorter-duration stretching, the mean reductions were marginally greater (–2.6%) (Supplementary Table S41).” (1)

Zero Non-Sense Stretching

If you’d like to hear a little more on what Travis has to say on the topic check out his resource Zero Nonsense Stretching HERE. (<– affiliate free link).

The post Does Stretching Improve Performance? appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 9/7/19

Sat, 09/07/2019 - 04:34

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

BUT FIRST…CHECK THIS STUFF OUT 1. Coaching Competency – Dublin, Ireland

This is happening Sunday, September 8, 2019 (TOMORROW).

Register HERE

If you happen to live in or near Dublin, there are spots still available.

2. Strategic Strength Workshop – London, England

This is happening the weekend of September 14-15th, 2019.

Register HERE

Luke Worthington and I have presented this workshop twice. Once in London last year and again this past June in Boston.

We’re bringing it back to London this Fall, my most favorite place in the world.

This two-day workshop is designed to arm fitness professionals with all the tools they’ll need to hone their assessment skills and to make their clients/athletes a bunch of bonafide, resilient, strength training Terminators.

Combined Luke and I have ~40 years of coaching experience (or one Dan John) and bring different perspectives and skill-sets to the table; Luke peels back the onion on PRI (Postural Restoration Institute) concepts and assessment, while I go into detail breaking down movement and how to better “match” the exercises we prescribe to our clients.

For more information – including itinerary and how to register – you can go HERE.

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Twitter

Tuesday nights at CORE is “ladies’ night.” I have a group of 4-5 women who come in and get after it.

One of my male clients just so happened to pop in, and about 30 minutes into the session he noticed most of the plates were in use.

“You guys don’t mess around.”

Damn right.

— Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore1) September 4, 2019

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Just dropping this here. . My client @jessmschour making 320 lbs look like a walk in the park. . And the name of the park is Dieseltown.

A post shared by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on Aug 29, 2019 at 1:40pm PDT

STUFF TO READ WHILE YOU’RE PRETENDING TO WORK Personal Trainer Salary Survey (2019): Who Earns the Most? – thePTDC.com

This was a nifty look inside the industry. Not surprisingly, those who tend to make the most are the one with the biggest biceps most experience.

How Fast Can I Lose Weight? – Jim Laird

 

Man, this was spot on from Jim.

It’s only five minutes long….give it a watch.

Not Yet – Spurling Fitness

Fitness can be fickle. We’re programmed to believe that if we can’t do something – a push-up, deadlift 2x bodyweight, put a grizzly bear in a headlock – that we’ve failed.

F = Failure.

I really enjoyed this re-frame from the crew at Spurling Fitness in  Kennebunk, ME.

The post Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 9/7/19 appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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4 Coaching and Program Design Digressions

Fri, 09/06/2019 - 12:57

Today is the last day you can purchase Mike Robertson’s latest resource, Complete Coach Certification, at a hefty discount.

Mike’s one of the best coaches I know, and if you’re at all affiliated with the fitness industry it would behoove you to consider investing in this awesome product. There’s so much more to being a coach than the x’s and o’s of program design, breaking down deadlift technique or, I don’t know, being able to draw the Kreb’s Cycle blindfolded.1

Those are all important of course, but what I appreciate about Mike’s approach the most is that he also covers more of the soft skills of coaching – being professional, saying people’s names, meeting clients where they’re at in terms of exercise selection, learning how to simplify your cues, wearing pants…you know, the usual.

In the spirit of that I thought I’d take some time to pontificate on a few components of coaching and program design that aren’t often discussed, are a bit off the beaten track, and are under-appreciated by the masses; digressions if you will.

HINT: Not on the list: kipping pull-ups.

Copyright: spotpoint74 / 123RF Stock Photo

Coaching & Program Design Digressions 1. Fillers Instead of Warming Up?

You know it, I know it, your mom’s second cousin’s Little League baseball coach’s sister knows it, everyone knows it…

…people always skip their warm-up prior to training.

Hell, [industry secret revealed] I skip my warm-up more than 50% of the time.2

Now, to back track a bit, I am not anti-warming up and I do advocate my clients and athletes do follow one.

I do write them in.

However, what I am not a fan of is the laundry list approach to warming-up.

You know what I mean: the warm-up that consists of a never-ending list – 10, 15, sometimes 20 exercises deep – of positional breathing, t-spine mobility, glute activation, and stretching drills.

I take a gander at something like that and am like…

via GIPHY

I can only imagine what some of my clients in the past were like…

via GIPHY

This is not an attempt to discount or demerit the importance of doing any of those drills mentioned above. I just know humans, and I know the vast majority of them would rather jump in front of a mack truck than do their warm-up.

Which is where the idea of “fillers” comes in.

These are nothing more than low-grade, low-intensity mobility or activation drills that are performed DURING the workout, typically during rest periods.

In short: It’s a sneaky way to put the shit that people need to work on in the program in a way that they’ll actually do it.

I’ve written about fillers in the past and how to best incorporate them depending on the main lift of the day:

2. Underwhelm Them Early

This is a phrase I stole from Mike, but it mirrors much of what I do with all of my new clients. In the beginning all I am really concerned with is letting my clients marinate in the basics.

I want them to hinge, squat, push, pull, carry, and perform some single leg work.

Now what variation of all those things will depend on a multitude of factors: health & injury history, goals, ability level, not to mention their anatomy (anthropometry and leverages).

When all is said and done, though, from a programming standpoint, my clients should be underwhelmed. I want their programs to be mind-numbingly boring.

People need reps out of the gate, a lot of reps…of the same thing(s). That is the only way they’re going to learn and begin to “own” their movement.

What they don’t need is a bunch of novelty and a coach who’s only goal is to entertain them.

I can appreciate (and understand) that training should be fun and stimulating and fill everyone’s love tank to the ‘enth degree.

However, in my eyes, that needs to be earned via lots and lots and lots of repetition of the same shit.

No one ever got strong or mastered any exercise by constantly changing things up.

Wow your clients with customer service; underwhelm them with exercise selection.

3. Easy Training is Good Training

Keeping in tune with the whole “underwhelming them early” vibe, I’m a firm believer in the anecdote – astutely stolen from Dan John – that “easy training is good training.”

Put into other words: I’m less of a “holy shit I can’t feel the left side of my face, that workout was awesome” kinda guy and more of a “huh, I could totally do more, but [insert anything from going to see a movie and hanging out with your spouse to reading a book and drowning in kitty cuddles]” kinda guy.

See, I’d rather my clients/athletes leave a session feeling as if they could do more, maybe even wanting to do more, but don’t.

This is not to say “easy” training doesn’t involve some amount of effort or uncomfortableness; far from it. It is to say that pounding your clients into the ground every…single…session isn’t necessarily making them better or more resilient or whatever other cute adjective you want to toss in here.

There’s a common saying I’ve seen many other coaches use and it bears repeating:

“Your progress in the weight-room is directly correlated with how well you’re able to RECOVER from said workouts.”

This entails training with sub-maximal loads (65-80% of 1RM) more often in addition to other things such as encouraging more GGP/Zone 2 work (think: heart rate hovers in the 120 BPM range), sleep, calories to support one’s goals, and hydration to name a few.

4. Is It Necessary to De-Load Often?

It’s common practice for many gyms and trainers to use every fourth week as a rudimentary “deload week” (or a structured tempering of training volume, load, or both) for their clients and athletes.

It makes sense…especially when you consider billing cycles.

For example, to a large degree I still use this approach because every month my clients “re-up” their packages and I get to ding their credit cards in exchange for a freshly curated program.

But even then I have to take into consideration a few things.

  • Training Frequency: someone who only trains 2x per week won’t necessarily do enough work to warrant a de-load as compared to someone who trains 4x per week.
    .
  • Training Experience/Goals: someone who is working out for basic health or is a complete newbie will have a stark difference in approach to de-loading compared to someone training for a powerlifting meet or has more experience and is just stronger as a general observation. The former may go weeks without the need for any type of deload while the latter may be best suited for one every 3-4 weeks.
    .
  • Life: Work, vacations, the beach, your slow-pitch softball schedule, your kid’s explosive diarrhea…all have a tendency of tossing us organic de-loads as it is. Oftentimes there’s no need to go out of my way to plan de-loads for some clients because “life” takes care of that anyway.

All of this doesn’t even get into the weeds on all the different types or ways to implement a de-load. I already touched on the idea of lowering one’s overall training volume or even intensity (personally I’m a fan of lowering volume but keeping intensity on the high(er) side of the spectrum, if not the same), but there are a bevy of other options too:

  • Omitting compound movements in lieu of more isolation type movements (I.e., less axial loading).
  • Going into full-on body-part-split-per day bodybuilder mode for a week or longer (<— this is fun).
  • Reducing training frequency (instead of 5x per week, go with two).
  • Get out of the gym entirely and partake in more outdoor activities.

For the Record: I’m very much a fan of people taking a full-week off from training – particularly if they’re consistent – 1x per year just to give themselves a break.

That said, I will sometimes push the boundaries with some of my clients and won’t implement an actual de-load until 1) I see a drastic decrease in their progress or performance on the gym floor 2) they’re eyes start bleeding or, you know, 3) they simply ask.

Often, especially if a client shows up to a session and they look like death, I’ll implement a de-load session, affectionately referred to as a Bloop, Bloop, Bloop workout.

HERE the idea is to listen to them, understand that, yes, life gets in the way sometimes, but to also not let them off the hook so easily.

They’re still going to workout and move – it just won’t involve working up to a heavy triple on their front squat.

Want More Pearls of Wisdom?

I’m a mere simulacrum compared to what Mike Robertson covers in his Complete Coach Certification.

I am not exaggerating when I say Mike covers everything as it relates to setting you up for as much success as possible as it relates to being a better, more well-rounded coach.

The only he doesn’t cover is making your meals for you.

TODAY (9/6) is the last day to take advantage of the discounted rate.

Get it here —> http://bit.ly/2lWGhpJ

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30 Days of Shoulders: Days 11-20

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 03:35

I’m writing this from my most favorite place in the world…

…a room full of cute and cuddly kittens.

Just kidding, I’m in London.

I’m here because I have a few speaking engagements lined up –  a half-day Shoulder workshop for a crew of Equinox trainers in Kensington on Saturday, my Coaching Competency Workshop in Dublin on Sunday, and then mine and Luke Worthington’s Strategic Strength Workshop back here in London next week.

Spots are still available for both the Dublin and London events (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).1

I just checked into my hotel after an overnight flight from Boston and I feel like a zombie.

Needless to say I am not in the writing mood, but I do\ have a little sumthin, sumthin to share today.

Copyright: luislouro / 123RF Stock Photo

30 Days of Shoulders: Days 11-20

This is Part II of my latest series over at T-Nation.com dealing with anything and everything shoulders: How to make them bigger, how to make them feel less like a bag of dicks, you know, the usual.

You can check it out —> HERE (also includes link to Part I in case you missed it).

Enjoy and keep your eyes peeled for Part III coming next week!

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90s Hip Hop, Complete Coach, and Mike Robertson

Wed, 09/04/2019 - 08:43

My good friend, Mike Robertson, released is latest resource this week…the Complete Coach Certification.

Check it out here —> http://bit.ly/2lWGhpJ

It’s on sale this week only (until Friday,  9/6) at a hefty discount.

If you’re a strength coach, personal trainer, you work with athletes, non-athletes, Doug from accounting, or ninjas, this resource will make you a more well-rounded health/fitness professional.

I had some questions for Mike about the product, but more specifically about his coaching philosophy and what he feels we (as an industry) need to do better.

Copyright: jtrillol / 123RF Stock Photo

Mike and Tony Talk Shop

TG: Mike, first things first: When I came onto your podcast a few weeks ago I introduced you to muy new favorite obsession: the Take It Personal Radio Podcast. How much do you love me it? Which has been your favorite episode (I know it’s hard to choose)?

I have only two words:

Life changing.

Seriously, I love that show so much. I mean, it’s all of the artists I grew up listening to, chopped and mixed to perfection.

My favorite so far is the Wu-Tang episode, but anyone that really knows me knows that I’m a pretty massive fan of the WU!

Note from TG: It’s hard to pick my favorite, but if I had to choose I’d go with the DJ Premier Tribute. Eight freakin hours or Premier beats. My head just about exploded when I listened to it for the first time. And then there’s the Native Tongues (Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, Money Love, etc) tribute that’s something like 12-13 hours long.

I can’t handle it.

TG: Okay, let’s get on track: What was your vision/goal in creating the Complete Coach Certification?

MR: Simple: To push our industry forward, and over time, positively influence 10,000 trainers and coaches across the globe.

Unfortunately what I’m seeing nowadays is a dearth of trainers/coaches who have gone the traditional route – school and a certification – and then struggle to be of any value whatsoever on the gym floor.

They can’t interact with other humans.

They can’t progress or regress clients.

And forgot about asking them to write a program! Their brains are so scattered and influenced by random Instagram trainers you can’t get a cohesive, streamlined program out of them to save their lives.

And while I may sound a little harsh, the fact of the matter is, it’s not really their fault.

This is the culture we’ve created for training and coaching.

So my goal is to fix that.

To show trainers and coaches how systems and procedures can make their lives easier, and help them get better results.

To show them it’s not about knowing 1,879 exercise variations, but knowing 10-15 really good exercises, being able to progress/regress as necessary, and then coach the hell out of them.

And to show them that if you act like a professional and get really good at what you do, this can be an amazing career.

One where you can make real money and have a life outside of the gym as well.

At the risk of sounding bold or narcissistic, here’s where I’m at:

I’m only 41 but I don’t think it’s too soon to start thinking about my legacy.

  • What did I bring to the table?
  • Did I really make an impact?
  • Or did I live a life where I could’ve done more, and instead settled to play small ball?

If I go out tomorrow, I want people to be like “That Mike Robertson wasn’t perfect, but damn he did his part and made a massive push to  drive this industry forward.”

TG: I, uh, taught my toddler to go pee-pee in the potty last week. That’s my legacy…haha. I know this is about as lame of a question as I can ask (but I’m going to ask it anyway). What are some common mistakes you find coaches make with regards to program design?

MR: I don’t think it’s a lame question – it’s actually one we need to be asking more often.

Here’s a brain dump:
  • Having no clear goal.
  • Having too many goals and “program jumping.”
  • Not knowing the basics of program design (sets/reps/time under tension, how they all work together, etc.)
  • Poor (if not awful) exercise selection.
  • A lack of cohesiveness across all elements of the program (resistance training, conditioning, etc.)
  • Failing to meet a client/athlete where they’re at.
  • Failing to give a client/athlete some of what THEY WANT in the program.
  • Letting their beliefs/training focus influence that of their clients/athletes.
  • Being too boring with their programming.
  • Being too random with their programming.

I mean I could go on and on here, but hopefully you catch my drift.

As an industry, we have a looooooooong way to go to get our program design skills up to snuff.

TG: What do you feel has been the biggest change or maturation in your own programming since you first started coaching? As an example, for me, it was the under-appreciation of sub-maximal training; I’m a firm believer (now) that easy training is good training.

MR: Man this is a really tough one, so I’m going to give you two:

1 – I do a better job of planning and programming all elements of a program nowadays. For instance in the past, I was a powerlifter so I skewed everyone towards a strength focus.

Because if it was good enough for me, it was good enough for them. Right???

It’s taken me a long time to break that habit, but now I can write a really smooth and well-rounded program for virtually any client or athlete.

TG: Oh man, good one!

2 – The second piece is I’m better at streamlining and transitioning clients between two programs.

Let me explain that in a bit more depth…

Imagine taking a client who is doing an accumulation phase and they’re using like 60-70% of their 1 rep max.

Then the next week, you decide they need to move to max strength and so you start crushing them with 90% loads.

Can you imagine how jarring that is to the body?

So it’s been a big goal of mine to smooth out all of the elements I have to program for my athletes – from speed/power, to strength, to conditioning – and trying to make those transitions from block to block smoother and easier on the athlete.

It’s never perfect, but I’m light years of where I was even a few years back.

TG: Complete off-topic, but is Bill (Hartman) a cyborg?

He is, but here’s the strangest part – he’s not alone.

There are actually a few hiding in plain sight in our industry.

I’m sure there are others, but these three I can confirm from first-hand experience.

TG: I lived with Eric for two years and was a business partner for eight, I can confirm he’s not a T-1000 (but close).

One of my biggest pet peeves in this industry (other than kipping pull-ups) is how some coaches take this bravado approach and more or less “bully” people into thinking that THEIR way is the only way to coach “x” exercise.

I feel this is a narrow-minded take and fails to appreciate (much less consider) each person’s individual anatomy and how that will dictate set-up and which variation of certain lifts will be best suited for them.

Your take? Agree? Disagree? 

MR: Couldn’t agree more.

TG: Okay, whew, good. Cause if you didn’t shit was gonna get awkward.

MR – and that’s where I think progressions/regressions come into play.

I have a model for what I want a squat/deadlift/push-up/whatever to look like, but I also realize that everyone is going to move different.

  • They have different lever lengths.
  • Their body (thorax, pelvis, hips, etc.) are positioned differently.
  • They have different joint structures on top of that.

So while I might have my model, I also have to realize that every/client athlete is going to find the strategy that works most effectively for them, based on their goals.

Part of the evolution of coaching is realizing that how you think/feel/move is great, but it shouldn’t necessarily impact how you train other people.

Once you get there, training and coaching become a lot more fun.

TG: One missing component of program design, I feel, is centered around the soft skills of coaching. It’s one thing to write a solid program, but then how it’s executed and coached is whole different matter.

I know you touch on this in the certification, but can you maybe elaborate on this here?

MR: Look man, I got by for my first 3-5 years on the floor because of soft skills, so I’d like to think I’m better to speak on this than most!

A big part of my success early-on was due to my ability to relate to people, to empathize, and to build rapport – NOT due to my coaching or program design skills.

I know John Kiely has talked about this in the past, but there’s actual research out there that shows if a client likes you and has positive emotions about you, that they could potentially get better results than someone who might have a “superior” program!

TG: The fuck outta here Mike Robertson! What’s next? Telling me bacon isn’t delicious? That Bachelor in Paradise isn’t where one find true love?

Isn’t that crazy?

When they like you, they have the right biochemical make-up when they enter the gym, and they end up getting better results.

But this is why I’m such a stickler for finding that blend between the hard and soft skills.

Relationships, rapport, and trust are critical – if you don’t have them, you won’t have success in this industry.

Period.

But the results are fast tracked when you have streamlined programming and coaching on top of that.

I’m sure you would agree, it’s not an either-or proposition – but finding the balance that works best for you as a trainer or coach.

Complete Coach Certification

I know I say this all…the…time, but it needs repeating:

Those who invest in themselves will last longer in this industry, are less likely to burn out, and, frankly, will often make more money and be more successful.

There aren’t many coaches whom I direct other coaches to more than Mike.

I’ve learned a ton from him throughout the years, I still do, and he’s really outdone himself with the Complete Coach Certification.

It’s on sale this week only and includes the option to pay with installments rather than one-lump sum. Everything from basic anatomy, breathing mechanics (<– SO important), keys to coaching, program design, and Mike’s “R7” protocol is covered.

There’s also a bevy of additional bonuses, including training templates, exercise regression/progression charts, and access to Mike’s fitness business webinar.

Check it out —> http://bit.ly/2lWGhpJ

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Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 8/30/19

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 08:17

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

BUT FIRST…CHECK THIS STUFF OUT 1. Coaching Competency – Dublin, Ireland

This is happening Sunday, September 8, 2019 (NEXT WEEKEND).

Register HERE

So what happens when a room full of Irish(w0)men find out I’m not much of a drinker?…;o)

Whether you get paid to tell people to lift heavy things or you just like to lift heavy things yourself, in this 1-day workshop you’ll get the opportunity to listen to me talk about my how I approach assessment and gain a better understanding of how I “match” the exercises I prescribe to better fit the needs, ability level, and more importantly, the anatomy of each individual I work work.

In short, this workshop looks at the “umbrella theme” of my coaching philosophy.

For more information – including itinerary and how to register – go HERE.

2. Strategic Strength Workshop – London, England

This is happening the weekend of September 14-15th, 2019.

Register HERE

Luke Worthington and I have presented this workshop twice. Once in London last year and again this past June in Boston.

We’re bringing it back to London this Fall, my most favorite place in the world.

This two-day workshop is designed to arm fitness professionals with all the tools they’ll need to hone their assessment skills and to make their clients/athletes a bunch of bonafide, resilient, strength training Terminators.

Combined Luke and I have ~40 years of coaching experience (or one Dan John) and bring different perspectives and skill-sets to the table; Luke peels back the onion on PRI (Postural Restoration Institute) concepts and assessment, while I go into detail breaking down movement and how to better “match” the exercises we prescribe to our clients.

For more information – including itinerary and how to register – you can go HERE.

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Twitter

It’s official: just signed a new lease for a larger gym space.

Cue sphincter clenching now.

Coming soon: CORE Collective.

— Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore1) August 23, 2019

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Anyone who knows me knows I’m quite the movie buff. . It was such a treat to have the opportunity to work with Rosamund Pike (@mspike …give her a follow, she JUST started IG) while she was in Boston filming her next movie, “I Care A lot” recently. . Yes, I grilled her about Gone Girl and many of her other roles (A Private War, An Education, Jack Reacher, I promise I didn’t annoy her). . For seven weeks Rosamund showed up after long days (or night shoots) and got AFTER it: deadlifts, Goblet Squats, push-ups, chin-ups, badonkadonk stuff, “what was it like to work with David Fincher, did Tom Cruise really do his own stunts?” , and copious amounts of farmer carries. . She’s gone now (HA, pun), but it was refreshing to witness her work ethic, willingness to try new things, and overall inquisitiveness; just a lovely person in general. . I’m serious, I didn’t annoy her….

Dangers of the Discount Trainer

Wed, 08/28/2019 - 14:06

There’s no shortage of topics to debate in today’s world.

  • Keto vs. CICO?1
  • How to best tackle the issue of healthcare?
  • Is Pluto a planet?

I don’t have a horse in the race on any of the above, except:

  • Keto zealots are the worst.
  • We need to be more PROACTIVE than REACTIVE with regards to healthcare.2
  • You’re goddamn right it’s a planet.

Nevertheless, when it comes to choosing your team – or side of the fence – with any topic I always say the real right answer is…

it depends.

It’s rare for something to be so clear-cut and definitive; there’s always a degree of nuance and extenuating factors to consider.

Seriously, Pluto’s a planet.3

Copyright: 5second / 123RF Stock Photo

Dangers of the Discount Trainer

I’m going to just come right out and say it: I’m not a fan of trainers offering discounts for their services. Now, I say this with a grain of salt because I completely understand (and respect) that it’s a delicate matter and that there’s a number of factors to consider.

For example, I think it makes a lot of sense for larger, commercial gyms to offer discounts.

In Boston, like any major city, there are several notable, big chain commercial gyms vying for people’s attention (and wallets):

  • Equinox
  • Boston Sports Club
  • HealthWorks
  • LifeTime Fitness
  • 24 Hour Fitness
  • Golds
  • Planet Fitness
  • Beacon Hill Athletic Club

In addition there’s dozens of mid-level commercial gyms (not chains, but pretty big) peppered throughout the city, not to mention a CrossFit box in every major neighborhood. That’s a lot of competition and it makes sense that many of them would offer a free consultation or discounted introductory rates on training to entice more people to join.

Moreover, and as Cressey Sports Performance business director, Pete Dupuis, has noted in the past: Roughly 30% of people who are offered free consultations actually end up taking advantage of them.

“This may be a solid conversion rate from the perspective of the commercial gym owner, but not for the independent contractor who doesn’t see a single penny of the monthly membership dues these potential leads are paying.  A 30% conversion rate tells me that 7 out of 10 people decided that something for nothing was actually worth nothing.”

As a small business – and more to the point, as a gym that only offers personal and semi-private training (no open gym or classes) – I don’t have the luxury of hundreds (if not thousands) of people paying a membership fee just to walk through the doors.

Why would I offer my services and time at a free or discounted rate when I have bills to pay?4

I can hear the cacophony of pitchforks now.

“But Tony, if you offer free/discounted stuff it’s less intimidating and allows people to see whether or not you’re a good fit.

Stop being such an uppity a-hole!”

To that Point

1. Try walking into a hair salon, attorney’s office, or, I don’t know, Gringotts Bank and ask someone for 30-60 minutes of their time in order to sample the goods and to see if “you’re a good fit.”

HAHAHAHAHAHA – no, seriously, do it.

2. This is my livelihood, not a garage sale.

Sorry not sorry.

To that end, I don’t want to sit here, come across as some crotchedy old bastard (GET OFF MY LAWN!), and rag on the notion that you should never discount your rates as a trainer.

I mean, only Sith’s deal in absolutes, right?

Some Pros or When to Offer Discounts 1. You’re New

If you’re a new trainer or coach in the industry, need experience and more eyes on you – particularly in a crowded commercial gym scenario where there’s a few dozen trainers vying for the same thing – then it makes sense to offer some discounted training to build your client roster.

It’s not beneath you to do so.

I did it.

When I was a commercial gym trainer I’d often offer free 15-30 minute “Deep Dives” for on my own time for members:

  • Deep Dive: REAL Core Training
  • Deep Dive: Learn How to Deadlift
  • Deep Dive: Shoulder Friendly Strength Training
  • Deep Dive: How Hot is Jennifer Garner in Alias?

Hey, it was 2005.5

As a result I got more eyes on me and would often have members reach out to begin training.

For the more mathematical minded in the crowd, you can also think of it this way courtesy of  Finnish coach, Joni Jaakola of Optimal Performance:

“Offer 45 minute free training sessions + 15 minute consultation => client can experience what they are about to sign into => convert 50% of them => fully booked weekly calendar in two months or so.”

2. One-Time Special Offers

My friends over at Mark Fisher Fitness in NYC are huge proponents of offering special one-time only offers of 20-25% off packages when people attend a special class or charity event.

I like this idea.

If you’re already making the time to be at a certain place at a certain time, go for it.

Offer free shit – training, tickle fights, whatever.

People attend a class, you get their names, you offer the offer, and then you follow-up with a PHONE CALL (or text) – people just delete email – for a few weeks to remind them of when the offer expires.

3. It’s August

In the fitness industry, August (in the Northern hemisphere anyway) is…the…worst.

It’s a dead-zone.

Gym floors often resemble the barren, desolate wastelands of Mordor.

BTW: I’m fucking killing it with the pop culture references in this post today.

Except in this case it’s because people are on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard (and not so much because of the whole Sauron thing).

So, I get it.

Sometimes you have to discount your rates to attract people’s attention and to get bodies on the gym floor.

Totally legit reason.

However, my buddy and I were headed to get some pizza after a killer squat session last week when we walked past this sign located at the main entrance of a gym chain here in Boston:

Now, admittedly, I have zero insights into this business’s numbers or the inner workings of their operation, maybe they’re crushing it, but to me this is what’s wrong with offering discounts…

…especially ones this, shall we say, aggressive.

My Take (the Cons)

Again, offering discounts is not wrong or altogether a waste of time.

There IS a time and place and a way to implement them that can and will behoove your business as well as the (potential) client.

That said, it’s important to remain aware of the concept of anchoring.

If you’re a fan of behavioral economics – such as myself – and read a lot of books on the topic as it relates to decision making and marketing this should be a familiar term.

Via Wikipedia:

The anchoring effect is a cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered. … During decision making, anchoring occurs when individuals use an initial piece of information to make subsequent judgments.”

Photo Credit: https://www.terrynwilliams.wordpress.com

In the case of the above offer ($15 for 70 minutes of training), the more the discount gets away from your full price, the more problems and reticence you’re going to have – from the consumer – when you reveal said full price.

 

1. Creates Price Sensitivity & Unsustainable Expectations

This is the double-edged sword of anchoring.

“Anchor” your price too far removed from your actual rates and you run the risk of creating a bevy of price sensitive clients who are going to jump ship to the next trainer or gym who offers an even better discount.

Canadian nutritionist, Steph Hnatiuk, agrees:

“I think huge discounts can attract clients who are only willing/able to pay bottom-end rates, and you’re unlikely to wow those people into full-price paying clients if their budget just doesn’t allow it. I think you wind up giving too much of yourself away in the process.”

2. Creates Discounted Effort

Pigging back on the above, in my experience I have found that discounted prices sometimes (not always) creates a culture of discounted effort.

Humans are very loss adverse.

This refers to people’s tendency to prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains: it is better to not lose $5 than it is to find $5.

If a client pays my normal rate they have invested in themselves. There’s a degree of “buy in” from the individual to the tune of if they don’t show up – and I enforce my cancelation policy – there’s an inherent loss there.

And people hate loss.

Even more than the Patriots…;o)

Investment = people (usually) go out of their way to put forth some effort and consistency.

They show up.

$15 sessions = “meh, charge me, I gotta catch up on Ballers.

3. Creates Awkwardness

The less mental gymnastics I have to do as a business owner, the better.

  • Who’s coming in today?
  • Who needs a new program?
  • How many sessions does so and so have left in their package?
  • Why am I not wearing pants?

I prefer to keep things simple:

– I use Google Calendar to book my sessions.

– I use Excel to write my programs.

– I have an assistant who tracks all client sessions (and to let me know who needs what when).

– I almost always wear pants.

Too, when it comes to training packages, I also prefer simplicity and go out of my way to not offer a robust array of  options because, frankly, I don’t want to have to deal with that dumpster fire.

If I charge Client A “x” (a discount) and then Client B who is charged “y” (no discount) finds out about it, and is like “dafuq, Tony?”, it makes for some awkwardness I’d rather avoid.

Me touching my wife’s butt in public = awkwardness I can handle.

Me not shaving my head for two weeks = awkwardness I can still kinda-sorta handle.

Me explaining why two clients are charged two different rates = no thank you.

4. You Get What You Pay For

Image Inspired by thePTDC.com (^^I did that all by myself ^^)

This is 90% meant to be more than tongue-n- cheek than anything.

But, yeah, you get what you pay for.

The post Dangers of the Discount Trainer appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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30 Days of Shoulders: Days 1-10

Tue, 08/27/2019 - 12:42

I’m willing to bet that if you’re reading this if you have two shoulders.1

I’m also willing to bet that, given the two shoulder scenario, and given this is a blog dedicated towards strength & conditioning, you’re interested in:

  • Keeping your shoulders healthy.
  • Making your shoulders stronger.
  • Building shoulders that resemble boulders.
  • Argon. You know just because it’s a cool element.2

Copyright: restyler / 123RF Stock Photo

30 Days of Shoulders: Days 1-10

My latest article (which is a three-part series) just went live T-Nation.com today, and it covers anything & everything as it relates to shoulders.

Check it out…HERE.

The post 30 Days of Shoulders: Days 1-10 appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 8/23/19

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 07:40

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

BUT FIRST…CHECK THIS STUFF OUT 1. Coaching Competency – Dublin, Ireland

This is happening Sunday, September 8, 2019 (Early Bird rate ends THIS WEEKEND)

Save $100

Register HERE

So what happens when a room full of Irish(w0)men find out I’m not much of a drinker?…;o)

Whether you get paid to tell people to lift heavy things or you just like to lift heavy things yourself, in this 1-day workshop you’ll get the opportunity to listen to me talk about my how I approach assessment and gain a better understanding of how I “match” the exercises I prescribe to better fit the needs, ability level, and more importantly, the anatomy of each individual I work work.

In short, this workshop looks at the “umbrella theme” of my coaching philosophy.

For more information – including itinerary and how to register – go HERE.

3. Strategic Strength Workshop – London, England

This is happening the weekend of September 14-15th, 2019.

Register HERE

Luke Worthington and I have presented this workshop twice. Once in London last year and again this past June in Boston.

We’re bringing it back to London this Fall, my most favorite place in the world.

This two-day workshop is designed to arm fitness professionals with all the tools they’ll need to hone their assessment skills and to make their clients/athletes a bunch of bonafide, resilient, strength training Terminators.

Combined Luke and I have ~40 years of coaching experience (or one Dan John) and bring different perspectives and skill-sets to the table; Luke peels back the onion on PRI (Postural Restoration Institute) concepts and assessment, while I go into detail breaking down movement and how to better “match” the exercises we prescribe to our clients.

For more information – including itinerary and how to register – you can go HERE.

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Twitter

I repeat it time and time again to personal trainers, but it needs repeating.

Generating leads is important. Marketing is important.

However, the key (I believe) to long-term success (and consistent income) is focusing more on how to KEEP your CURRENT clients.

— Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore1) August 20, 2019

Instagram

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Yesterday was a good day. . Because my client @lollercoaster24 hit her first 200 lb deadlift. . I think Cristy – sitting in the background and clapping – was most excited of all. . Speaks to the power of training amongst your “tribe” and surrounding yourself around supportive people who will push and encourage you. . SIDE NOTE: This wasn’t even a planned PR attempt. Maura crushed last week’s numbers, she was feeling good yesterday, so I was like “screw it, let’s go for 200.” .

Program Design Tip: Simple Before Sexy

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 12:22

I often joke that when other coaches and fitness professionals come shadow or observe me for a day that they leave underwhelmed by what they see.

“Huh, Tony’s not really doing anything innovative or exciting with his athletes and clients. I mean, sure, it’s interesting he refuses to wear pants, but all in all…he’s pretty lame.”

Now, I don’t necessarily feel what’s written above is precise representation of their inner dialogue, but I will admit…

…I’m lame AF when it comes to the exercises I prescribe and the programs I write.

Also, the no pants comment is a joke.1

Copyright: kucherav / 123RF Stock Photo

Simple Before Sexy

Let’s discuss the box jump.

Peruse social media and you’ll see a bevy of videos from coaches showcasing their athlete’s jumping prowess. Some are “vanilla” and “quiet” in nature, simply highlighting an athlete jumping onto a box with little to no fanfare.

My favorite.

Others, however, will go out of their way to “one-up” everyone else and seemingly highlight a video that’s more concerned with garnering likes and increasing “viralability” than offering anything useful or of substance.

Don’t get me wrong: There’s a time and place to have fun and to not take things so seriously.

I get it.

That said, with regards to youth athletes (and, to be honest, even with high level or professional athletes 98.2% of the time) I don’t feel this sentiment applies or is warranted.

Videos of athletes/clients jumping to boxes at 40, 50, or even 60+ inches in height (with poor form) and/or that involve circus like acts – such as jumping onto a stack of foam rollers while juggling a pair of chainsaws – don’t impress me much.

I don’t have enough eye rolls to give.

via GIPHY

I want my athletes to do the simple things, and do them well.

Here’s one of my high school basketball players – Theo, 15 – performing a Box Jump to a 1-Legged Landing.

 

Could we have used a higher box?

Maybe.

Could I have had him look straight into the camera after sticking each rep, rip his shirt off, and yell “THIS….IS….SPARTA“?

Next time.

Neither is the point of the drill, though.

The point is to:

1⃣ Learn to create force (putting force into the ground to propel him up), but to also ABSORB it and learn to decelerate.

Athletes need to know when (and how) to turn on their brakes. It’s serves no advantage to ALWAYS focus on the throttle, or acceleration.

I often tell my athletes to “land like a ninja.”

If I hear a loud THWAP when (s)he lands, especially if I’m across the room, and even more especially if it’s over a sick Tiesto beat in the background, then I know they’re not landing correctly.

Too, if the landing is noisy, the height of the box may be too aggressive. Train force development (the jump) AND force absorption (the landing) and NOT the ego.

I’m more concerned with the fact Theo had no idea who A Tribe Called Quest was before he started training with me then I am about the height of the box he’s jumping onto.

2⃣ OWN the landing.

I shouldn’t see any “excessive” caving-in of the knee or foot as he lands. Nor should I see his posture collapse as he lands on the box.

If that is the case the height of the box is likely too aggressive.

Lower it.

Moreover, there’s nothing wrong with performing Single-Leg Hops on the ground. It isn’t sexy, it won’t win you any “innovative coach of the year awards,” but by gosh will it ever transfer more eloquently to the daily needs of your athletes/clients.

On a Side Note: I told Theo to hold his landing position for a 1-2s count so we could reinforce it. Slowing athletes down is often advantageous so they learn what appropriate positions look and feel like.

3⃣I also feel appropriate technique requires stepping off the box rather than jumping off it back to the ground…

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Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 8/16/19

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 10:01

I’m writing this from the beautiful city of Chicago.

I got here yesterday because I’m presenting at an Equinox today to a group of their trainers, talking shoulders and stuff.

Lisa and Julian are en route from Boston as I tap away on my keyboard, and it’s her first time flying solo with him.

Remember that scene from Taken when Liam Neeson’s character is talking to the dude who kidnapped his daughter on the telephone and after his epic “I will find you, and I will kill you” monologue, all the kidnapper says is “good luck” and then hangs up.

Remember that?

Well, “good luck” babe…;o)

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

BUT FIRST…CHECK THIS STUFF OUT 1. Coaching Competency – Dublin, Ireland

This is happening Sunday, September 8, 2019 (save $100 using Early Bird rate)

Register HERE

So what happens when a room full of Irish(w0)men find out I’m not much of a drinker?…;o)

Whether you get paid to tell people to lift heavy things or you just like to lift heavy things yourself, in this 1-day workshop you’ll get the opportunity to listen to me talk about my how I approach assessment and gain a better understanding of how I “match” the exercises I prescribe to better fit the needs, ability level, and more importantly, the anatomy of each individual I work work.

In short, this workshop looks at the “umbrella theme” of my coaching philosophy.

For more information – including itinerary and how to register – go HERE.

3. Strategic Strength Workshop – London, England

This is happening the weekend of September 14-15th, 2019 (save £50, Early Bird rate ends THIS WEEKEND).

Register HERE

Luke Worthington and I have presented this workshop twice. Once in London last year and again this past June in Boston.

We’re bringing it back to London this Fall, my most favorite place in the world.

This two-day workshop is designed to arm fitness professionals with all the tools they’ll need to hone their assessment skills and to make their clients/athletes a bunch of bonafide, resilient, strength training Terminators.

Combined Luke and I have ~40 years of coaching experience (or one Dan John) and bring different perspectives and skill-sets to the table; Luke peels back the onion on PRI (Postural Restoration Institute) concepts and assessment, while I go into detail breaking down movement and how to better “match” the exercises we prescribe to our clients.

For more information – including itinerary and how to register – you can go HERE.

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Twitter

Woke up to this morning to this message in my inbox:

“F*** you bro, deadlifts are way overrated keep f****** up, your spine I’ll enjoy life at 60 while your in a wheelchair and bedridden you rat.”

I wonder how he really feels?

— Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore1) August 15, 2019

Instagram

 

View this post on Instagram

 

#popupjulian has been absent of late.The @sowaboston market was a perfect opportunity to make a cameo.

A post shared by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on Aug 11, 2019 at 1:24pm PDT

STUFF TO READ WHILE YOU’RE PRETENDING TO WORK 6 Exercises or Techniques to Help With Grip Strength – Jarrod Dyke

Grip (or lack of it) can often be a limiting factor when it comes to making progress in the weight room. Strength and conditioning coach, Jarrod Dyke, offers some simple and effective tips to help with that.

The Thin Line Between Loyalty & Defection – Pete Dupuis

Being a business owner (and running a business) is always a delicate balance between setting rules and drawing a line in the sand and knowing when to pick your battles when someone “breaks” those rules.

Excellent reflection from Pete in this piece.

How to Train Beginners With Online Personal Training – Eric Bach

Personally, whenever I have someone who’s a beginner (“newbie”) reach out asking me to write their programs online I’ll encourage them to seek out a personal trainer IN-PERSON to work with.

There are just too many other variables and nuances involved when working with beginners.

That said, if you ARE going to do it read this article.

The post Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 8/16/19 appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Here’s a Quick Fix For Cranky Knees

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 09:19

As I write this I am sitting in Logan Airport (Boston) waiting for my flight to Chicago. I’ll be putting on a staff “in-service” for a group of Equinox trainers on Friday and then my wife (Dr. Lisa Lewis) and I are putting on  our Strong Body-Strong Mind Workshop on Sunday.

Our little guy, Julian, is tagging along on this trip so I suspect a #popupjulian cameo this weekend.

Or two.1

Anyway, I got to the airport a bit early this morning and figured, “hey, I have some time to write something.”

I’ll just leave this here…

Copyright: ocusfocus / 123RF Stock Photo

Quick-n-Dirty Knee “Fix”

I am not a wizard.

Surprise!

But this “trick” I’m about to show you has worked wonders – as in instant relief – for various clients of mine who have complained of cranky knees.

A few brief notes:

1. I receive no affiliate income or kick-back (other than unlimited hugs) from ACUMobility for recommending their product(s).

2. It’s unfortunate many health/fitness professionals fail to look BELOW the knee with regards to knee health and function. The knee joint is pretty stupid and it often at the mercy of either the hip or ankle. By all means I’d be remiss not to encourage practitioners (which isn’t my role as a lowly strength coach) to assess the knee to see if there’s any nefarious nonsense happening there.

However, in my own experience, when trying to dig a bit deeper as to WHY someone’s knee may be bothering them (outside of the actual knee itself), the lower leg gets the shaft.

3. One component is looking to see if the individual can actually rotate their tibia (lower leg bone) in relation to the femur. Many patellar tracking issues, for example, can be attributed to a lack of tibial rotation…

…AND NOT A WEAK VMO, for the love of god.2

In terms of a list of what affects patellar tracking  the most it would likely look like this:

1. Lack of ability to rotate tibia.

2. ITB/adductor “tightness.

.

.

5. Lower leg (calf) griminess (see below).

18. Brexit.

19, Kitty cuddles.

.

.

.

412. Weak VMO

The tibial rotation thing is something I do want to address and is something I may write about soon. In the meantime, if you just can’t wait that long, Dean Somerset and I cover it in the (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint.

However, with regards to some “general” knee pain I’ll typically start with a technique audit on exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and lunges, and then make some modifications in terms of volume/load and which variation of those exercises someone performs.

After that I’ll try to address tissue quality…particularly in the calves; an often neglected area.

The gastronemius (or gastroc for those of us who are lazy) is a bi-articular muscle that crosses both the ankle AND knee joint.

It’s a nasty area that, for lack of a better term can “get nasty as fuck.”

I often find if I have someone work on their tissue quality in that area that they’ll find immediate relief in their knee(s).

It’s not fun, but it works:

The post Here’s a Quick Fix For Cranky Knees appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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What Makes an Athlete Fast?

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 11:51

Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Syracuse, NY based strength and conditioning coach Ricky Kompf. Ricky’s a good friend, works with a ton of youth athletes, and he knows his stuff.

What I like about his message is that he always stresses the basics first.

No fluff, no smoke and mirrors, no speed camps, and no agility ladders…;o)

Enjoy!

Copyright: serrnovik / 123RF Stock Photo

What Makes an Athlete Fast?

Speed is one of the most misunderstood aspects of training.

We get sold on fancy ladder drills, flashy sprint exercises and products that don’t work or are used incorrectly. After working with hundreds of athletes of all levels and skills I’m here to show you exactly what will make an athlete fast and what will actually allow you to hit those impressive numbers the elite level athletes hit.

It also goes without saying that, it takes work.

This will not happen overnight, you achieve this level of physical prowess from years of developing your body and consistently putting work in towards this every day.

Whenever an athlete comes to me, chances are they want to become faster and jump higher.

Speed is king, and rightfully so.

Speed is what sets you apart from the competition.

Speed is what gets you looked at for high level college programs.

There’s not much difference in skill between D3, D2 and D1 programs as there is a difference is speed and strength.

So, what makes an athlete fast?

1. Relative Strength

Relative strength is how strong you are relative to how much you weigh.

Without relative strength there is no speed.

Relative strength is what every quality of speed is built off of.

I hate to speak in absolutes but If you are not strong relative to how much you weigh you will not be fast. Strength is your horse power.

I promise I’m (mostly) not a Sith

Trying to sprint as fast as possible with low relative strength is like trying to go from 0-60mph in a Prius: You just won’t be able to get to top end speed quickly and your top end speed will be much slower than a sports car.

When you’re sprinting the only resistance you have on you is your body weight.

You have to propel your body forward in a fast-explosive manner and if you don’t have the relative strength to do so, all the sprints and speed & agility drills in the world won’t make you much faster.

FANCY SPEED EXERCISES AND AGILITY DRILLS WON’T ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING WITHOUT RELATIVE STRENGTH.  

To put this into perspective, If you have two athletes who can deadlift 300lbs and one athlete is 150lbs while the other one is 250lbs, 10 times out of 10 the athlete who is 150lbs is faster.

Here are some indicators that I use to determine if the athlete is relatively strong.

Male Athletes:
  1. 15 or more chin ups
  2. 30 or more push ups
  3. Can trap bar deadlift over 2x their body weight for 3 or more reps
  4. Can back squat to box or safety bar squat to box 1.5x their body weight for 3 or more reps
  5. Can sled push 4x their body weight or more for 10 yards
Female Athletes:
  1. Can perform 5 chin ups or more
  2. Can perform 15 or more full range of motion push ups
  3. Can trap bar deadlift 1.5X their body weight for 3 reps or more
  4. Can back squat or safety bar squat to a box with 1.25x their body weight or more for 3 reps or more
  5. Can sled push 3.5x their body weight or more for 10 yards

This is all a general rule of thumb I use for my athlete to determine if they will respond well to an increase in speed work volume.

2. Mobility

Have you ever seen the athlete on the field who moves their legs super-fast but is one of the slower athletes or middle of the road?

It’s like they’re going nowhere fast.

Here’s why this is happening.

The athlete who takes the least number of strides to cover a certain amount of distance will always get to Point B first.

If your athlete is tight in the hips they won’t be able to cover max distance with every stride. This usually becomes an issue when an athlete’s hips are tight, restricted and weak.

Mobility also doesn’t mean just stretching, this is where flexibility and mobility get confused. Flexibility is the range of motion you can put your joins passively like reaching down to touch your toes. Mobility is the range of motion you can go actively, like driving your knee up as high as you can without moving your spine or going into a deep squat while keeping a neutral spine.

Flexibility is a component of mobility that you need in order to be mobile. Optimal stride length requires more mobility than flexibility.

Perform these mobility drills regularly to keep your hips in check while you become stronger and faster. These are all great examples where together they work on flexibility as well as mobility. This will help you become overall more mobile in the hips and moving better.

Speedy 7 Mobility Drills

Hip Series: Active Recovery

90/90 PAILs & RAILs

Standing Hip CARs

3. Core Strength

The role of the core while sprinting is to keep the midline stable while the arms and legs are in motion.

If your athlete does not possess the appropriate core strength it will result in energy leaks throughout their sprints and change of direction.

The core is used as a foundation in which force can be translated from the lower body to the upper body while sprinting. If the core and spine are not ridged while sprinting there won’t be as much force being put into the ground.

Even worse you’re at a much higher risk of injury.

If you ever watch an elite level track athlete sprint with their shirt off, their arms and legs are moving violently while the torso is perfectly still.

Without good core stability relative strength is low and mobility/movement quality is poor, which, if you’re paying attention are the first two qualities I spoke of.

Addressing all three should be a priority is every athletes program.

Check out these exercises that are great for core development:

Core Engaged Deadbugs

Plank on Knees While Breathing

Level I Plank March

4. A Faster Amortization Phase

The Amortization phase is the transition from an eccentric muscle contraction to a concentric muscle contraction.

This phase is a very fast isometric contraction that helps to transition the muscle to shorten while contracting.

This is commonly known as the stretch shortening cycle.

This is when a muscle rapidly lengthens then shortens. When the amortization phase is optimized and there is a very fast transition, the amortization phase is very short. When this happens there are more motor units recruited and more force is produced.

The shorter the transition from eccentric to concentric the more force is produced.

This happens on every stride once you’ve gotten into your cycle sprint (while you’re upright sprinting at your max speed).

Another common way to see this is when an athlete performs a vertical jump, as the athlete descends quickly and transitions from down to the upward phase of the vertical jump this is where the amortization phase comes in. The less time it takes to make that transition the more potential force is produced.

Ways to train this would be plyometrics, max effort sprints, longer distance sprints (20-40yd) and jumps where there is a focus on the transition from eccentric to concentric.

A few of my favorite ways to train this is by performing some of these following exercises:

1. 10-yd Push Up to Sprint/Mountain Climber Sprints

 

2. Hurdle Hop Variations to Push

 

3. Max Effort Vertical Jumps

 

4. 20 yd Sprints Flat Ground or Up Hill

 

5. Partner Sprint Chases

 

6. 30 yd Sprints

 

7. Double Broad Jumps

 

5. Strength in Specific Joint Angles and Technical Form

To develop strength in specific angles that the athlete will be in during a game I will often use contrast training, game speed exercises drills, and lifting exercises that are similar to positions an athlete will be in.

When it comes to speed, there’s nothing better than a heavy sled push or a sled drag.

Other good ones I like to use with a contrast are trap bar deadlifts and safety bar squats. All of these are great with mimicking the sprint and jump movements. Below is a video example of some contrast sets and specific joint angle exercises for speed.

Example #1

A1. Trap Bar Deadlift – 5×2

Rest 10-20 seconds

A2. Vertical Jump – 5×1

Rest 2-3 minutes before the next set.

 

Example #2

A1. Heavy Sled Push – 5×10 yards

Rest 10-20 seconds

A2. Push Up to Sprint – 5×10 yards

Rest 2-3 minutes before the next set

 

Example #3

A1. Safety Bar Squat to Box – 5×2

Rest 10-20 seconds

A2. Box Jump – 5×2

Rest 2-3 minutes before the next set

Example #4

A1. Chain Loaded or Banded Trap Bar Deadlift – 5×2

Rest 10-20 seconds

A2. Double Broad Jump – 5x(max distance)

Rest 2-3 minutes before next set

Strength Training Exercises in Specific Joint Angles Heavy Sled Pushes

 

Heavy Sled Drags

 

Resisted Sprints

 

Trap Bar Deadlifts

 

These type of exercises and contrast sets should be performed during preseason after a full foundation has been developed during the offseason.

Note that these types of circuits are reserved for athlete who are older and more advanced with a good foundation of general strength and all the other qualities we went over already. Contrast training is not as effective without 3-6 months of general strength training. The sled pushes, sled drags, and deadlifts are exercises that should be staples every month in your athletes program.

Another way to work on this is to perform sprints and jumps to refine technique, having a coach’s eye to teach you how to sprint the correct way and jump the right way is the final piece to put all these qualities together. Sprinting, change of direction and jumping is a skill that will always require fine tuning and technique work.

About the Author

Ricky Kompf is the head coach/owner of Kompf Training Systems where we work primarily with team sport athletes like baseball, football, lacrosse and basketball.

He’s also a Head Trainer for a corporation for Bankers Heath Care.

You can give him a follow on Instagram HERE.

You can check him out on Twitter HERE.

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