Today’s post is by a former intern of mine who has been looking for jobs the past couple months.  She just had the privilege of speaking with Duane Carlisle at Purdue University and had some interesting perspective that I thought would be nice to share with young coaches who are looking to get their first job.




What I Learned From Duane Carlisle In The First Five Minutes Of Talking With Him.

I was unprepared!

Yes, I was unprepared and I knew it after his first two questions, shame on me. Yes, I learned a valuable lesson and will never make this mistake again. How could I go into a phone conversation with a potential networking connection or future boss unprepared? Well, I have no excuse and I’m not going to talk about why or how. Well, maybe a little. Or, maybe I’ll just show you how I learned from my mistake. What I did here is take every suggestion and point that Coach Carlisle made and put it into action!


But first, I wanted to tell you about Coach Carlisle, he inspired me to write this article and I never write, but I felt the need to get this off my chest. Second, I am going to prepare a check list that I think needs to be addressed before going into any phone conversation or interview. I always say to the athletes I work with, “set yourself up for success”, chin tucked… knees out… brace… Successful lift! I need to take my own advice.


So, here we go, a small background on Coach Carlisle. He was a multisport athlete in his youth who earned a track and field scholarship to Boston University. He eventually finished up his career at University of Maryland and earned his master’s degree from Edith Cowan University. He has coached at the middle school, high school, college and professional levels. Coach Carlisle began his career as a sprints coach at Penn State. He was a head strength coached at LaSalle University before eventually becoming the head strength and conditioning coach at Purdue University, where is currently resides. As a professional, Coach Carlisle was a speed coach for the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Rays. He was assistant strength coach of the San Francisco 49ers before eventually becoming the head strength and conditioning coach. He has worked with professional soccer and lacrosse teams. As a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association he was asked to be a presenter for 2013. Furthermore, in addition to his incredible career as a coach he has also owned and operated Lightening Fast Training Systems. Coach Carlisle is a role model and mentor to his staff and many of the athletes he coaches. He considers himself not only a teacher but a student as well. Here is what I learned from Coach Carlisle and other teachers along the way:

1)   Learn about your professional connection. Nothing impresses a coach more than if you know about his background and any other tidbits you may find. Now, you don’t have to know their shirt and pants size but better to be over prepared.


2)   Learn about where he/she works. Of course you need to know about his/her place of employment. Coaches usually have a breakdown of his/her philosophy on the strength & conditioning or sport performance website so it’s a good idea to take a look and familiarize yourself with it.


3)   Be able to talk about yourself-your evolution so to speak. Your will have to talk about yourself and your journey up till that point. I usually have a hard time with this. What is all this hard work worth if you cannot tell someone about it? Write it down in detail; learn it and be able to speak about it.


4)   Prepare a list of questions you want to ask.  There is nothing worse than thinking of questions on the fly. Write down the questions you have about the job. Most times they will answer the questions you have (i.e. salary, hours or expectations etc.)  and sometimes there is a question you may have they do not cover. Be prepared so you do not forget to ask.


5)   BE EXCITED! There is nothing more exciting than potential career advancement. Coaches like to hear that you are amped especially if it’s a phone conversation. Do not give off the wrong impression from the get go, you will lose the job just from the lack of enthusiasm.


6)   Listen and take notes. You want to remember what the coach says. Writing it down will help you with ideas to answer their questions. If a coach wants someone who is loyal and family oriented, write it down and give examples of how this is true to you. For example, I am extremely loyal not only my family but also to my friends. My closest friends are same crowd from high school. I have worked in my families business since I was 10 years old. Of course, being in a family business you understand the dynamic of family working together, this is what the coach wants. It is a simple way you can paint a picture of how you fit into their ideal without leaving any ideas out.          


As a little bonus, I will tell you a bit about myself. Goal number one: I am a strength and conditioning coach in pursuit of a collegiate strength and conditioning job. Goal number 2: I will stop at nothing to fulfill goal number one. I was born to do this and enjoy it tremendously. It’s not a job; it’s my happy place.  Enough about me, as I am not as important as the valuable lesson I have learned. Here it is: I will make mistakes when I put myself out there no matter in my life or career. I have to accept my mistakes, move on and do it right next time and I know I will be a better person and coach. It’s called growth! I am grateful there are such things as first impressions and more importantly second chances. I am truly appreciative of Coach Carlisle’s honesty, without it, I would not have been inspired to write this. I am also thankful for the amazing teachers I have had along the way; Mike Boyle, Eric Cressey, Tony Gentilecore and my mentor Brijesh Patel, without them I would not be in the position I am today. Thank you.

Cheri Pearce

We have a guest blog post from one of my current interns, Will Turner.  He’s been delving into the topic of conditioning and specifically aerobic training and wanted to write this post…enjoy!

“Why should I ever run a mile when I will never run that long in my sport?” “Every play is at full speed in my sport, I shouldn’t be running slow for conditioning.” “Running long distances is going to make me slower, weaker, and less powerful.”

Ever hear any of those quotes from a coach or even find yourself saying it?  Conditioning may be one of the most unappreciated and underdeveloped aspects of training when it comes to all sports – especially the intermittent power sports.  There are much more aspects to conditioning for intermittent sport than just working the alactic energy system.  In fact, working the aerobic system is the most important energy system when it comes to conditioning for any sport; sadly, it is also the most understood system.

Since graduating from Springfield College in May and interning at Quinnipiac University under Brijesh, my thinking of conditioning has been revolutionized.  Daily talks with B, while reading Ultimate MMA Conditioning Joel Jamieson have given me knowledge about conditioning that I never had before, stuff that I didn’t learn in the classroom.  Although Jamieson’s book is specifically written for MMA conditioning, there are principles that can be taken away from it for almost any sport.

One large principle that I learned over the past couple of months is that conditioning is just like anything else in the athletic world where everybody is different.  One single approach will not work for every single athlete; each athlete has different genetics and that will lead to different energy system developments over a lifetime.  Genetics play a huge role in conditioning just as they do in strength training; you can only go so far with the genes that you were given.  So, the first mistake that people make is taking the general approach and using a conditioning program that is not designed for their needs.

Another huge mistake that people make, myself included, is trying to squeeze all of their conditioning into the month or weeks before an event.  This approach will not be successful because great conditioning is a long process that needs qualities to be built on top of each other for optimal success.

Conditioning is a measure of how well you are able to meet energy productions for the demand of your sport; it is very sport specific.  A football player who can go 100% every play is just as well conditioned as a runner that can run a sub 5-minute mile.

The two components of conditioning include: energy production and energy utilization.  Energy production is the sum of rate of energy production (power), duration of energy (production), and total potential of energy production (biological power).  Energy utilization is the total of central governing power (power regulation), efficiency of energy expenditure (skill/technique), and neuromuscular contractility (mechanical).  Basically, energy production is the sum of how fast you can create energy and how long you can maintain that production for (power+capactity).  Energy utilization is how efficiently you can use that energy with technique, as well as how much your brain regulates muscle contractility (to fatigue).

Now, I’ll get into what is really important: the aerobic system.  The aerobic system is the only one that can break down fats as well as sugars for energy, which is an advantage for it, right off the bat.  The most important functions of the aerobic system are refueling the anaerobic system and clearing out the byproducts from the anaerobic systems and restock the mechanisms of the systems.  The former is the part that most athletes do not realize.  Even when you are primarily using the lactic and alactic systems, the aerobic system is the one that is doing the refueling.  An important thing to know for the aerobic system, especially for training, is the anaerobic threshold.  The anaerobic threshold, usually measured by heart rate, is the point at which the aerobic system cannot keep up with the energy demands placed upon it, so the anaerobic systems are the primary energy producers.

There are three ways to increase the production of the aerobic system: 1) increase O2 supply to working muscles, 2) increase how much oxygen the muscles themselves can you, 3) increase the supply raw materials your body uses to produce energy aerobically.  The following methods will all help to build the aerobic system in one or more of those ways:

  1. Cardiac output Method- This method is a pretty standard method that most people know about and use.  It is pretty simple in that all you need to do is keep your heart rate between 130-150 for at least 30 minutes.  This method is going to increase eccentric cardiac hypertrophy, which will allow the left ventricle to hold more blood and in turn, increase the amount of cardiac output to the peripheral systems.
  2. Cardiac Power Intervals- This method is designed to improve oxygen supply at higher intensities and improve the power-endurance of the cardiac fibers.  In order to do this, you need to go as hard as you can for 60-120 seconds; you want max heart rate on each rep.  For rest intervals, you want to look for you HR to get back around 120 or 2-5 minutes between reps.  Physiologically, this method increases mitochondrial density, while increasing the contractile strength of the cardiac fibers.
  3. Tempo Method- This is a method that I have been using a lot since at Quinnipiac, and I have found it very successful for muscular endurance.  This method utilizes long tempos for exercises, lasting 4-5 seconds per rep for 8-10 reps.  The tempo method stimulates larger slow twitch muscle fiber hypertrophy and also increasing mitochondrial density.
  4. High Intensity Continuous Training- this method is something that I have never heard of before but intrigued me very much when I first heard of it.  This method is designed for high intensity for very high volume.  This method increases the aerobic capacity of your fast twitch muscle fibers.
  5. Threshold Training- This is the last of the aerobic methods that I am going to go over.  This method is designed to further push back your anaerobic threshold.  This is also designed to raise your power output at your anaerobic threshold, which in turn, delays the point at which anaerobic energy processes take prominence.

As with any type of training, it is important to build your conditioning on top of the blocks that came before it.  When starting a conditioning program, it is very important that you correlate your conditioning along with your strength and sport training.  So, just like strength training periodization, conditioning needs to start with a general approach and then move to a specific approach.  When far away from the season, it is important to build your potential for energy production (general conditioning).  To do this, you want to increase your cardiac output and do minimal lactate work.  As you get closer to your competitive season, you add more and more specific conditioning.  Meaning that you need to develop your body’s ability to use its energy in the most effective way for you sport.

It is always important to remember, you must have a great aerobic base for great conditioning.  Do not just work the anaerobic lactate systems that you think are being utilized most in competition.


Will Turner – Born and raises in Milford, CT.  Graduated from Springfield College in May 2012 with a Bachelors of Science in Exercise Science with a Sport Performance concentration.  Played four years of varsity football at Springfield.  Has completed two summer internships at Competitive Edge Sports Performance in Milford, CT as well as an internship with the Springfield Falcons Hockey Club of the AHL.  Currently interning with Brijesh Patel at Quinnipiac University working with men’s and women’s hockey and basketball.  He is going to intern with the New York Jets during the 2012 training camp in Cortland, NY.  Future plans are to eventually at a graduate assistant strength and conditioning position while working towards a Master’s degree. 

This article isn’t going to drastically change the way you train your athletes.  What it will do though is give you an intern’s perspective from the weight room; and it will get you to talk.  Whether you start up a conversation with your colleagues, an intern, your athletes, your grandparents, or even your pet guinea pig that your sister somehow managed to persuade your parents into buying (not that I’d know anything about that), it doesn’t matter- someone’s going to get better.

Connecting the dots- looking at Northeastern University’s AT and S&C departments

I want to preface this section by saying that I clearly haven’t ventured around to every collegiate training center and taken a look at the interactions between the athletic trainers and the strength and conditioning coaches.  However, from what I’ve read and seen in few different settings, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that the two sides aren’t just lacking in knowledge about each other, but also an appreciation.  As a strength coach, you definitely don’t have to know the various tests, modalities, and rehab techniques that athletic trainers practice on a daily basis.  And as an athletic trainer, you don’t have to know Eastern European block periodization concepts as well as you know how to use those funny looking electrode thingies with the sticky patches that make my biceps twitch.  Yet having at least an appreciation for what your colleagues do can only benefit your athletes, and the program, in the long run.

I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I’m just saying this about Northeastern because Coach Art Horne gave me copious amounts of protein powder this summer (I’m back in Wisconsin now so unless he plans on shipping those tubs, I’m out of luck).  However, the direction that Northeastern is going will allow both groups to better cater to their athletes.

How many times have you seen departments provide in-services for each other on topics that both groups can relate to?  Without putting down the staff here at Wisconsin, I can say not very often.  The most recent topic at Northeastern was “Treating and Training the Ice Hockey Athlete,” in which Coach Dan Boothby discussed programming and exercise selection, while AT Steve Clark spoke about FAI, surgical outcomes, and rehab.  Creating a common language between the two departments also helps athletes from wondering why they’ve performed a “bird-dog” in the athletic training room, a “kneeling superman” in the weight room, and an “opposite-arm-opposite-leg-reach-with-anti-rotational-core-stability” during physical therapy.   A common language doesn’t have to stop with exercises though, co-writing a nutrition manual helps fill a much-needed gap in the market.

Lots of kettlebells, two coaches, two athletes, one awful (awesome?) circuit.

While I’m clearly not in a position to pass judgment, as I haven’t been there myself, I can say that as an intern, being in an environment where I was able to pester athletic trainers and strength coaches with questions on a day-to-day basis was a privilege.

So what have you done to make not just your department, but also the system, operate more efficiently?

A future PT getting it done in the weight room.

There’s more than one approach to assessing your athletes

I’m not just talking about the various movement screens and clinical evaluations that people have come up with throughout the years.  While many of those are great tools, finding out what type of athletes you’re dealing with can have a profound effect on how you go about programming.

This past summer I had the privilege of interning under Professor Larry Cahalin- a cardiopulmonary physical therapist at Northeastern who presented at the Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group Symposium.   Despite the fact that his mind functions on a completely different level than mine, I was able to learn a lot from him- both from our talks, and the secondary data analysis we performed on his inspiratory muscle training (IMT) study with the Northeastern men’s hockey team.  While the vast majority of studies and practical applications with IMT have focused on people with various diseases, a few individuals within this field have begun to look at the effects an organized training regime can have on healthy athletes.

Here’s a past study that Professor Cahalin was involved in: IMT Research Paper.

IMT- not that easy… check out the 10th video down:

What Professor Cahalin, and many of his colleagues believe, is that the power curve generated from the test of incremental respiratory endurance (TIRE) can not only provide important information directly related to the test (which in the long run will allow norms to be developed for a variety of sports), but is also a good indicator of fatigue curves and by association, muscle fiber breakup within the body.  For instance, power athletes with an abundance of fast twitch muscle fibers (sprinters, throwers, track cyclists, running backs, etc.) will demonstrate a quick peak in power, while endurance athletes show a much flatter curve.  While examining the initial data, one athlete’s numbers on the Northeastern men’s hockey team leaned heavily towards the power athlete (high type II fiber percentage) make-up.  While skill alone may help a high-school hockey player make it to the college scene, a healthy dose of favorable genetics is useful in taking collegiate athletes to the next level.  After making a quick guess that this individual’s TIRE results also meant a successful career thus far, I decided to double check.  Score one for Mike- his collegiate hockey career had been more than successful and he was most likely headed for the NHL.  On the other hand, after testing the cross-country team, it was interesting to see how many demonstrated fatigue curves similar to that of a power athlete.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to quit running and join an Olympic lifting club, just that their coach may be interested in checking out their 400m times.

The Wingate test- a common measurement of an athlete’s anaerobic power, has also shown similar results, and the research is there to prove it (Bar-Or 1980;.  The next step is making the statistical correlation between the two tests and having coaches buy into it.

Turn your athletes into coaches

When coaching a large group of athletes, you either need to hammer technique from day one, or ensure that they aren’t just responding to cues- your athletes are taking what you say into the next set and even next week’s training.  Or do both.

While having two assistant strength coaches, a GA, and three undergraduate interns is always nice, most coaches don’t have this privilege.  So how do you find another set of eyes?  Look a few lines up.  When athletes know what they’re doing, know why they’re doing it, and it makes sense to them, they can start coaching each other.  At this point they’ve reached the third level of understanding- consciously competent.  This is preceded by unconsciously incompetent and consciously incompetent, and followed by unconsciously competent.  Not only are athletes spotting each other, but it makes your life less stressful as you’re not watching fifteen different athletes box squat their 3RM.

This also sets up a system of accountability.  Athletes know when someone is not pulling (or pushing) their own weight.  Having athletes coach each other also provides a system that your freshman can walk right into.  Not only do they come into a training atmosphere in which their upperclassmen teammates are focused and gettin’ at it, but time is spent with them in a smaller group setting and the fundamentals can be worked on.

The human body doesn’t operate in extremes

One of the most basic, yet difficult concepts for me to wrap my head around has been the idea that the body is rarely in an all or nothing state.  Yes there is the all or nothing principal when it comes to motor unit activation, but when we’re looking at biomechanics, it’s difficult to find extremes.  Coach Horne likes using Boston and LA as a metaphor.  We’re not on either coast, but maybe somewhere around Chicago.  For those that are geographically challenged (I’m right there with you- I had no idea what the capital of South Dakota was for the longest time), let’s get some real world examples going.

This summer I ignorantly blurted out that I thought, with all my infinite wisdom, that all crew athletes were destined for herniated disks due to constant flexion and extension of the lumbar spine.  A little extreme? Maybe, but I like to live life on the edge.  Anyway, one of the Northeastern basketball players, who used to row for his high school team, explained that he was actually taught the hip hinge from day one and that most of the movement came from his hips and his thoracic spine.  The hip hinge? In a non-weight room setting?  Blasphemy.  After talking to Eric Gahan, an athletic trainer at BU, I realized that this type of technique was actually becoming much more popular with coaches as AT’s, PT’s, S&C coaches, and physicians stepped in with their input.

So what’s my point? We already know that repeated and/or prolonged lumbar flexion and lumbar hyperextension aren’t the greatest things for your back.  It’s almost cliché at this point to cite the work that McGill’s has done in this field.  However, despite the fact that crew athletes might be moving into flexion, do they ever truly reach it?  What is a neutral spinal alignment?  Is it the athlete’s “natural” posture?  There are environmental and genetic factors that need to be considered as well.  A neutral lumbar spine means you’re not in Boston or LA, just somewhere in-between.

Let’s look at one more example.

This past summer, Charlie Weingroff spoke at the BSMPG Symposium about lower extremity performance.  One of the many points I took away from his talk was what happens to the patella tendon in a box squat when the tibia is kept vertical (namely the difference between “roll” and “glide” of the femur).  This summer, Coach Horne took the vertical tibia concept and applied it to the vast majority of men’s basketball single legged training.  While this probably took a lot of stress off their knees, I immediately went with my “all or nothing” principle and took this idea back to Wisconsin and was shocked when Coach Jim Snider (men’s and women’s hockey strength coach) didn’t agree that athletes needed to maintain a vertical tibia in single legged movements.  Yes, that was probably the first time two coaches have ever disagreed…

After talking the idea over for a good hour and half, we came to the conclusion that we had neglected the fact that Coach Horne and Coach Snider train two different populations.  Basketball athletes are notorious for poor ankle mobility and knee pain.  Hockey athletes on the other hand demonstrate a fair amount of anterior translation of the tibiofemoral joint within the skating stride.  On top of that, very few of Coach Snider’s athletes actually have knee pain.  While the concept of keeping a vertical tibia is extremely useful, trying to apply it to every situation doesn’t make sense.

Maybe the most important concept that I learned this summer was that in order to get work done, it’s imperative that at least three cups of coffee are downed before noon (at least according to Art).  On that note, thank you to all the coaches and researchers that have helped me get better over the years.


Bar-Or, Dotan, Inbar, Rothstein, Karlsson, and Tesch. “Anaerobic Capacity and Muscle Fiber Type Distribution in Man.” International Journal of Sports Medicine (1980): 82-85. Web. <>.

Mike Boykin is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he is pursuing a degree in Kinesiology with a focus in Exercise and Movement Science.  With an unending drive to further his education, Mike has interned under physical therapists, athletic trainers, and strength and conditioning coaches.  Feel free to contact him at