Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Drill vs. Skill

By far the most common question I get from prospective clients is - Do you do speed and agility?

The answer to that is obviously yes. But it is very important to understand what true speed and agility training is......and is not.

In the video link below, you can listen to me discuss this very important and misunderstood topic.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Thoughts on the Latest Fitness Trends

I thought about this topic as I was reading a Twitter link to the 100th Kettlebell Swing variation video that I have seen in the last month. Then I thought, "Man, I have seen at least 100 TRX videos in the last month as well." Then, the dreaded Mike and Mike P90X commercial came on the radio. GEEZ, you just can't get away from this stuff! So here are my thoughts on the latest crazes in the fitness world.


I love Kettlebells - for a few things. I think the KB squat swing when performed well is one of the best hip extension exercises for athletes and general fitness clients. They are easy to teach, and easy to perform once you learn how to hip hinge. They are also a great alternative to Olympic Lifts and jumps for a client that is having knee pain. Since you don't leave the ground, there is far less impact on the joints.

I also have my clients perform a variety of KB get ups and KB carries. They are great for core strength and shoulder stability. Grab a heavy KB and walk around while keeping your shoulder blades packed and trying not to lean to either side. Trust me, its a core exercise and shoulder exercise all in one.

With that being said, there are some things that I despise about KBs. For one, I never understood why anyone would want to do snatches and cleans with them. A KB person will tell you that the way the load is distributed is what makes them superior to DBs and bars. I will tell you that they beat up your wrists so I never have anyone do them. I would also never have someone do a complete workout only using a KB. To me, this is where my problem with them lies. KBs are a great fitness tool - just like plyo boxes, weight vests, DBs, swiss balls and cable machines. It does not mean that if you buy a KB at Dick's, all your fitness needs are taken care of. Mix them into your workouts, but don't marry them!


The TRX at SOAR gets tons of use on a daily basis. Actually, we were using TRX movements with suspended chains and handles before the TRX even existed. I love the TRX for horizontal pull up variations, push up variations and all sorts of core exercises. Its easily adjustable and can be fit into any bag or suitcase for those who travel.

My problem with the TRX is the same as my problem with KBs - it can't be your only form or strength training.


If you are already in great shape and looking to get extra ripped without hiring a solid trainer, then possibly P90X is a good option for you. Unfortunately, P90X has gotten into the hands of coaches who are too lazy to read a book about how to properly train athletes. Instead, they just pop in the plyometric portion of the video and have their athletes go nuts. What they don't realize is that the plyometric portion breaks every single principle of plyometric training. If you don't have an existing base of plyometric training, you are screwed! The duration of exercise goes way beyond what is recommended for improvements in explosiveness. The rest periods are not even close to allowing full recovery. I challenge any person who owns P90X to research all guidelines to plyometric training and then tell me if they think P90X plyos should be done in any circumstance.

If you are in great shape and enjoy P90X, then by all means you should continue to do it. If you are an athlete looking to improve performance, you should be in the corner with your eyes and ears covered if it is on television.


Crossfit has become the latest trend in the world of fitness and personal training. All you have to do is break down the word to realize what it is. "Cross" meaning many different forms of training. Remember when Cross Training became a popular term when Bo Jackson had his own shoe? Fit obviously means fitness. So Crossfit is doing lots of different things to get fit.

Crossfit is great if you have a knowledgeable trainer who understands your individual needs as a client. They might mix in kickboxing, Olympic Lifts, running and basic lifting. If they challenge you and teach you to do quality reps then you have a great Crossfit trainer. In fact, a great Crossfit trainer is just a great trainer using effective strength and conditioning methods.

Unfortunately in some Crossfit circles, the workouts are about quantity. If your trainer has all clients do the dreaded Workout of the Day (WOD) regardless of your individual needs, then I hope you know a good physical therapist. The WOD could look like this:

30 KB swings
20 Box Jumps
20 Chin ups
400 meter run

Repeat 3 times in as little time as possible. Sign me up for that!

To summarize, good Crossfit is simply good training or strength and conditioning. Bad Crossfit is a pot luck of high intensity exercises performed in high volume with insufficient amounts of recovery.

Phew! I tired from writing about it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Linear Training - Resisted/Unresisted Training

Our linear training this week focused getting an explosive first "PUSH" rather then a weak and small "STEP". Most of the kids I see do not even put themselves in position to push into the ground when they set up to sprint. In the video below, you can hear me telling the kids to angle the shin of their front foot towards the finish line. I also call this "loading the shin or foot". If you have a vertical shin at set up (90degrees to the floor), you will end of straight in the air with a weak first "STEP". If you are angle appropriately, you will be set up to PUSH off the front foot.

The drill I chose for the week is a complex of resisted sprints with a sled paired with a 5 yd sprint with no resistance. The sled weight varies from 10 lbs to 55lbs depending on the size and strength of the athlete. The goal is to put the athlete in position to overcome the weight of the sled with an explosive push. We then "trick" the athlete's Central Nervous System by immediately doing a short burst un-resisted sprint within 20 - 30 seconds of the sled sprint.

The first video clip will show a variety of young athletes performing the drill. Some do it better than others - remember their kids not pro - athletes!

The second clip is the same concept, except we are focusing on 40 yard dash technique for the 5 yard sprint without the sled. FYI there is definitely room for improvement with his start.

Monday, February 7, 2011

My Apologies

If you walk into Soar Fitness between 1 and 2 pm, there is a good chance you will catch me reading a book or watching a DVD. I am obsessed with finding the best ways to improve my athlete's strength and reducing their risk of injury. I am never satisfied that I am doing the best job possible because I know that I don't know everything. Five years ago, I was a good strength coach that didn't know half of what I know now. I will admit that over the years, I have made many, many mistakes in the training of athletes and general fitness clients. As a result, I feel I need to get a few apologies off my chest.

1. I apologize to any client that I ever had stand on a swiss ball. Yes it was fun and challenging, but also really stupid. Getting stronger in the squat rack will bring much greater results then circus act style training.

2. I apologize to the many athletes that I had strap on a pair of Jumpsoles and perform the "X - Treme Plyometric Workout". Yes, It was hard, and fairly productive. It also got you in great condition. But, it also ignored basic progressions and involved way too much volume. Had I have known then what I know now, we would never have done that stuff.

3. I apologize to the athletes that were put through tons of obstacle courses. Again, great conditioning, but more for show then actual speed and agility instruction. It looked cool, was definitely fun, but pretty much a waste of time on a week after week basis.

4. I apologize to any person who watched me do curls in a squat rack during my college years. Hey, I was young and stupid! If I could go back in time, I would make fun of myself.

I am sure I owe some more, but this is at least a start.

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