Here is a review of Charlie Weingroff’s Training=Rehab, Rehab=Training DVD set by up and coming strength and conditioning coach, Cheri Pearce.  Cheri interned for me last spring, and then spent the past summer interning at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning.  She came back as a volunteer this fall and is heading off to intern at Cressey Performance in January.  She has been extremely busy but found time to review this DVD set that I can’t recommend enough.  If you haven’t picked up this set yet, you are missing out.  I’ll have a link after the review on where you can pick up a copy.


At first glance of Charlie Weingroff’s DVD set I thought it was going to be beyond my scope of knowledge.  Never judge a DVD by its cover.  The first 10-15 minutes are Charlie in a nutshell.  He is a WWE fan, Golf expert, fantasy sports participant and Green Lantern fanatic.  He is human ladies and gentlemen, not just some ridiculously smart Physical Therapist/Strength and Conditioning Coach.  He gives props to his influences such as, Gray Cook, Vladimir Janda, Shirley Sahrmann and Mike Boyle as the basis for his current philosophies on rehabilitation and training.

One point Weingroff makes clear, that no matter what field you presently reside, basic principles for the human body remain the same.  This is why he is actively trying to bridge the gap of between the doctor, physical therapist and strength coach.  He believes that each professional plays an integral part in the steps back to performance and encourages you to surround yourself with colleagues of similar conceptual belief systems.

Furthermore, Weingroff is not your typical boring classroom teacher.  He is animated, passionate and accessible. His personality draws you in and keeps you wanting more. I found myself looking up articles he was referencing because I want to know what he knows.  As I watched the lecture and practical based DVDs I was nodding in agreement with his ideas simply because they made sense.  He easily explains difficult concepts in a way any one can understand.  What I admire most about Charlie Weingroff, while his opinions are his own he will distinctly define what is fact and how he arrived at that conclusion because he has the knowledge to back it up.  He truly wants you to be a better trainer, coach or therapist and that comes through on the DVDs.


Pick up a copy here

It’s the middle of winter here in the northeast and it’s almost time to start thinking about seminar and conference season that is about to hit come the spring and summer months.

If you’re in the northeast there are usually plenty of opportunities to learn and make yourself a better professional.  Perform Better typically puts on a number of clinics in the Providence and Boston areas and you can always find something good in New York.

I want to tell you all about a fantastic seminar that is hosted by my good friends at Northeastern University, Art Horne and Dan Boothby.  They might put on the most well diversified seminar in the country.  They bring in top notch speakers and experts in a number of fields and bring them all to one location so you, the attendee can better yourself.

Their seminar has undergone an evolution as well.  Four years ago, the seminar started as a sports medicine lecture series that was targeted primarily towards athletic trainers, physical therapists and strength and conditioning coaches.

Then three years they decided to put the first ever Hockey Performance Summit on that turned out to be a hit.

Last year was their first attempt at a duel track seminar targeting both Hockey and Basketball strength and conditioning professionals…and that again was outstanding.

And this year they are having a three track seminar with keynote speakers.  There is a Hockey track, Basketball track and a Sports Medicine track.  This by far is one of the most well thought out and planned conference in some time.

I’m not even going into the speakers nor the depth of their knowledge base, but I feel quite honored to be apart of the group.  This seminar will be the highlight of my summer learning experience and I hope that all of you can somehow fit this into your schedule because you will not be disappointed.

Art and Dan are stand up guys with a lot of class and you will not be disappointed with the seminar that put on.

Check out more info here:

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Recently, I had the privilege of attending the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCa) conference in Orlando, Florida.  For those who are unfamiliar with the CSCCa, it is professional organization dedicated to the continuing development of the collegiate and professional strength coach.  This year happened to be the 10 year anniversary of the association.  What I love about the CSCCa when compared to the NSCA, is that its limited to only collegiate and professional strength coaches, as opposed to personal trainers, private fitness facility owners and employees, and all other assorted fitness “gurus” and “experts” who are really glorified businessmen.  Don’t get me wrong, I respect anyone in the fitness industry who provides a safe and effective product for helping people meet their fitness goals, it’s just that I have no desire to be a part of the business side of things.  With that being said, I want to let you all in on the inner workings of the conference, including the various happenings and presentations that you might not of had the pleasure of enjoying this past week.

Day 1

The conference started on Wednesday, May 7th, with a roundtable forum moderated by Jim Lathrop and Ron Thomson of Purdue University.  This was actually my favorite idea of the entire conference, as it allowed us the opportunity to connect intimately with a small group of strength coaches in a relaxed environment.  Basically, the room was divided into tables of 8 to 10 coaches, and we were given a topic to discuss amongst the group.  My table included coaches such as Pat Ivey, Assistant Athletic Director for Athletic Performance at the University of Missouri, Nathan Moe, Head Strength Coach from South Dakota State University, Scott Sinclair, Assistant Strength Coach from University of Central Florida, and Elisa Angeles, Assistant Strength Coach from University of Norte Dame.  The topics we discussed ranged from our backgrounds and training philosophies, what we look for when hiring coaches, the qualities of a good employee, and how we see the field changing over the next decade.  The qualities that Coach Ivey talked about when looking for a coach for his program were what he referred to as “soft skills.”  These basically consisted of a candidate’s body language, self confidence, coaching motor, and how they conducted themselves in front of athletes and the fellow training staff.  Coach Ivey also commented that the profession of strength and conditioning as a whole needs to be more proactive and accountable when it comes to making things better for our athletes, rather than complaining about ”the cards we’re dealt”.  Coach Moe said that loyalty was one of the most important qualities he looked for when hiring an assistant, which makes sense because you need to stand behind you and show confidence in what you do, so the athletes will buy in to the program.  Again, I thought this was the best part of the conference because it allowed us to connect and really speak in an unabashed manner.  I just wish it could have been longer, and that we could have rotated tables to meet more coaches.

Day 2

Thursday May 8th started with a workout with the TRX reps, including the one and only Robert Dos Remedios.  Dos took us through a circuit consisting of a TRX core exercise, a TRX upper body exercise, a TRX lower body plyo, kettlebell swings, and battling ropes.  It was awesome, and I want to thank Coach Dos, Aaron Woods, and the rest of the TRX Suspension Training team for starting the day off right.

Thursday was the first official day of presentations.  The day started with the “Dueling Strength Coaches” presentation, which included Kevin Yoxall of Auburn University and Tim Socha of Boise State University, who are both Head Strength Coaches at their respected universities, working primarily with football.  Both coaches covered their in season training philosophies.  For the most part, both had similar philosophies, in that they believe that training groups should be separated into a veteran group and redshirts group, which may even include first and second year guys, or players who need extra work.  Veterans needed to be trained with the idea that they needed to “maintain their juice for practice and games,” in the words of Coach Socha.  Veterans trained three times a week with both coaches, while the redshirt group trained between 4 and 5 days a week depending on the system.  The biggest theme between the coaches was that the in season training time was intended to maintain or even improve the strength of the veterans in order to build their confidence, while it was an opportunity for the redshirts and younger players to compete in the weight room and during conditioning in lieu of participating in games.  Both coaches used this time to not only increase strength and power, but to instill a sense of accountability and work ethic with their younger players, showing them what it’s going to take to make it as a collegiate football player.  Both coaches implanted these values through early morning workouts, multiple workouts per week, and competitions.  The main competitions took place on the same day as the football team’s game.  Coach Socha even talked about how he gives the entire redshirt class an identity by giving them a name, with this year’s class being “The Blacksmiths,” and that at the end of the year he gives out awards based on how they performed over the course of the season.

Some of the insights Coach Yoxall provided were how he adjusted training percentages based off the energy level of the players at practice rather than having training intensities set in stone.  Also, Coach Yoxall talked about how the veterans get wrapped up in what the redshirts are doing during their competitions, even asking Coach Yoxall how hard the redshirts are training during their “game days.”  Finally, Coach Yoxall talked about his desire for injured players to be in the weight room working even harder than the healthy players on what they can do, without aggravating their existing injuries, in order to maintain their connection to the team.

Some of Coach Socha’s insights included giving his players more variety in training on Sunday, allowing the veterans choices for the different exercise categories depending on how they felt.  He also starts to vary the workouts later in the season depending on whether the athlete is a lineman or a skill position player, allowing the skill players to do more pause squats with light weight to spare their legs, while the linemen may perform cluster sets to maintain intensity and volume.  Coach Socha also stated that he uses the first three weeks of in season training to teach the redshirts the fundamentals of the lifts rather than loading them too early.  Overall, this presentation was excellent, and it was great to see how two successful football strength coaches run their respective programs.

The next presentation was by the Sports Dietician Jackie Berning, which covered pre, during, and post exercise nutrition for sports performance.  While the information was not ground breaking, the presentation was extremely informative and really provided some insight into the nutritional habits of today’s athletes.  Some of the numbers Jackie shared with us were staggering: 30% of athletes skip breakfast, 25% skip lunch, 86% eat fast food each week, and 82% of male track, basketball and football players surveyed couldn’t identify the fuel their body used for a workout.  The information on fluid was also extremely helpful, because it put exact numbers on what is necessary to stay hydrated.  In order to be sufficiently hydrated, athletes should consume 5-7 ml / kg of body weight (12-20 ounces) 4 hours before their competition, and again 2 to 3 hours prior.  If consuming a sports drink, Jackie recommended that the carbohydrate should be between 6 and 8% of the total volume, and the sodium should be between 460-900 mg / L, which ended up being about 15 g of carbs and 110-165 mg of sodium per 8 ounce serving.  Jackie emphasized that these types of sports drinks are integral for athletes who skip their pre exercise meal, have low carbohydrate diets, are involved in tournament play, or have 2 to 3 consecutive practices.  Also, athletes need to consume three cups of fluid for every pound they lose.  She also mentioned a nutritional study (I would site it, but no PowerPoint was provided) in which there were two groups: one was fed intermittently throughout the day (experimental), and the other consumed what can be referred to as the typical collegiate athlete diet, in which the calories are back loaded in the evening rather than spread throughout the day (control).  The study found that those who consumed more calories at the end of the day had a higher percentage of body fat without gaining weight than the group who consumed their calories intermittently over the day over a 12 week period.  This was due to the fact that the control group spent more of their day in a negative energy balance and was unable to metabolize the calories they took in at night, therefore effectively storing them as fat.  Again, most of this information was common sense if you had somewhat of a nutrition background, but it was good to reiterate to our athletes the importance of staying hydrated, eating breakfast, and spreading calories throughout the day.

The next presentation in the afternoon was by world renowned speed coach Tom Shaw, which covered linear speed development.  Shaw has worked with numerous NFL first round picks, the last 8 number one draft picks, and the last 9 Super Bowl MVP’s, so his resume is impressive to say the least.    Coach Shaw spoke about how speed comes down to two simple things: stride length and stride frequency.  Two players that Shaw coached, Calvin Johnson and Chris Johnson, completed their 40 yards dashes in 17 and 19 steps and ran a 4.36 and a 4.24, respectively.  Stride length is extremely difficult to teach according to Shaw, but if you can increase stride length by only two inches each step, it would lead to about a .2 decrease in the time of a 40 yard dash.  However, over striding in order to increase stride length taxes the weakest muscle in the upper thigh, the hamstring, and can lead to chronic strains and tears.  Coach Shaw believes that adding resistance and assistance runs are the most effective ways to increase stride length.

In terms of upper body mechanics, Coach Shaw didn’t care about hand position as long as the hand stayed relaxed.  The arm swing does not cross the imaginary center line of the body, and the hand must swing from behind the hip to over the shoulder.  One misconception that Shaw talked about was the importance of the start when running the 40 yard dash.  He felt that people over valued the start, and didn’t spend enough time on the 20 to 40 yard phase.  He also talked about counting the steps during the first 20 yards of a 40 yard dash.  He counts the strides of one leg over 20 yards, and he said that if you were not past 20 yards by the 6th step (12th total step), then you are basically running in place.  You can really see that he is a knowledgeable guy, and that he has a passion for helping his athletes get better.

The next presentation was by Johnny Parker, who is a legend in the field of Strength and Conditioning.  He has worked with numerous teams, including the New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, and New England Patriots.  The title of his presentation was “Lessons Learned,” and he definitely had a great deal to share.  Some of the highlights:

One of his biggest mentors, Bill Parcels, taught him that he needed to go home every day and think about what he did, how he could do it better, and think about the team and how to build them up or get on them.

Coach Bobby Knight, when he worked at Indiana University, taught him that if there’s a way to win, you have to find it, and there isn’t such a thing as try, there’s just do.

Some great quotes:

“You can lift light weights and beat the bad teams wrong, but when you lift heavy and play the good teams, you gotta do it right, all the time.”

“Don’t tell me you tried hard because that’s what you’re supposed to do.  You either do it, or you don’t.”

“It doesn’t matter what you did or what you know, there’s always someone younger and hungrier.”

“Greatness is in all of us.”

Coach Parker was a tremendous human being with a huge heart and it definitely came out in his presentation.

The last presentation I attended Thursday was by Dr. Mike Stone, which talked about periodization and programming for strength and power sports.  Dr. Stone has authored numerous journal articles, chapters in several texts, and two books in the field of Strength and Conditioning.  While there were numerous points that Dr. Stone touched on during his presentation, I will only touch on a few of them.  One great point that Dr. Stone made was to make sure we have a plan in place to determine whether athletes are adapting as expected based on our program design, in order to have proof that what you are doing is working.  I think this is often times an overlooked aspect of training.  As coaches, we must understand the goals we are trying to reach and make sure our athletes are taking steps towards accomplishing these goals or standards, or our training will be random and ineffective.  Dr. Stone spoke on how freshmen or newcomers to lifting must be taught how to make a max effort, and just as Coach Parker talked about, there is a huge difference between trying and doing.  Dr. Stone did not encourage us to teach our athletes to shy away from intensity and effort; he in fact encouraged it being instilled in the athletes as early as possible, because small increases in effort lead to big increases in performance.  Another point of his lecture was that rapid gains in performance are not always in the best interest of our athletes because our performance gains might not be as substantial or long lasting than if the time period of exposure to training and intensity level occurred over a longer period of time.  And these rapid gains could lead to accumulated fatigue, which not only would mask performance gains, but could lead to microtrauma and overuse injuries.  This is an excellent point for coaches who want to make huge gains over the course of a quarter or semester before athletes leave for summer training on their own.  We could actually be doing more harm than good, and be taking away their ability to make continued progress over the course of their break.

Dr. Stone also spoke about the misconception of “linear periodization”, and that periodization is more than changing sets and reps, but that it is a conceptual process in which we look to minimize fatigue and maximize training adaptations while elevating the performance of the athlete at an appropriate time.  Stone then went into the evolution of periodization into concepts such as the Conjugated Successive System, Phase Potentiation, and Block Periodization, explaining how Phase Potentiation (a concept developed by Stone and colleagues in the 1980’s) can help the athlete experience superior results by emphasizing the development of specific physiological characteristics (strength-endurance, strength, speed, etc.) through a series of concentrated loads rather than training multiple performance variables simultaneously.  This concept would need an entire article in order to truly do it justice.  I was truly amazed by the amount of knowledge Dr. Stone possessed.  He is one of those “I’ve forgotten more than you know” individuals, and listening to him is like reading Supertraining: you need to hear him probably a dozen more times just to pick up all the information you missed the first 11 sessions.

Day 3

Friday May 9th began for me at Coach Ethan Reeve and Tom Cross’ presentation on Olympic lifting.  I really enjoyed the athletic philosophy of Coach Reeve.  It was basically three things: if you can’t move, you can’t help us; great athletes make things look easy; and take athletes through a variety of movements until they make them look easy.  He is big on coaching, and didn’t feel that the Olympic lifts should be discarded from a program because they are difficult to teach and take time.  He felt the benefits of the lifts outweighed the effort and time it takes to teach them.  Coach Cross then talked about some of the intricacies of the Olympic lifts.  He called the Olympic lifts a process rather than an event because of the many steps involved in perfecting them.  He also pointed out something that I have been guilty of preaching, which is that the extension phase of the lifts are less about raising up on the toes, and more about driving through the heels and popping the hips.  He said that the action of ankle extension was less about a calf raise and more about going from the heels to the balls of the feet “without the rest of the foot knowing.” A couple great cues he used were taking an “attitude grip” when gripping the bar for a lift, and to “flipping the shirt” to give tactile feedback as to where the bar should be as it elevates.  He used a drill where he placed a dowel rod on the outside of the bar when it was on the floor, and had the athletes keep the bar from touching the dowel rod as they lifted it off the floor, making them focus on keeping the bar closer to their axis of rotation and forcing them to extend their knees through the first pull.  I thought it was a simple training tool that will yield big results in my coaching of the Olympic lifts.  He also isn’t a fan of going from a power position to a strength position in the catch, because he believed that the feet under the hips position is more athletic and that jumping the feet out can lead to pressure on the knees.  He then proceeded to ask me, “son, how long do you want your knees healthy for?”  To which I answered, “forever,” which, apparently was right.  Coach Cross is also a huge fan of using the kettlebell swing to reinforce the hip action needed for the Olympic lifts.  Again, just like the rest of the conference, here were two great speakers letting you in on some little things that they do to make what you do better.

Luckily it ended a little early and I was able to catch the entire presentation by David Deets of the University of Missouri titled “The Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball.”   This was great because my main sports are Men and Women’s basketball at Eastern Washington.  Coach Deets works with the Men’s basketball team, and as seen by their recent successes, is doing a phenomenal job.  Coach Deets made some great points about what our job is as Strength and Conditioning professionals.  We have to create a safe and enthusiastic environment for our athletes, be great teachers and educators, sell our program and make the athletes think that what they’re doing is the best there is, and constantly find ways to improve what we are doing.  His keys to building a better basketball athlete were all based off dedication to sound training principles, which included a thorough screening process, correctional exercises, and injury preventative training, as well as improving the qualities mental toughness and confidence, which I think is under stressed in Strength and Conditioning training.  He also spoke on how you must have an understanding of your team’s style of play, the needs of your individual athletes and the team as a whole, as well as the philosophy and goals of the coaches in order to design an effective training program.

Coach Deets uses a great evaluation tool called the Performance Grade Achievement (PGA) Paradigm, which is a four point scale to assign a score to the athlete based on their performance in 14 different areas, including basics like bench and squat, but also some specific power, speed, and agility tests specifically from the NBA combine.  The scores are displayed in the weight room to allow the other players to see their progress and where they need to improve individually and as a team.  One thing that Coach Deets did that I really liked was team competitions.  Within the competitions, they had a daily champion and a weekly champion based off their performances.  One competition that they did consisted of three basic exercises; curls, dips, and pull-ups, and who can get the most total reps in a specific time.  He had a championship belt that the winner would get that they would get to carry in to the weight room on the day of the competition, and they would get their name announced as they entered the room.  I think little things like this add variety and competitiveness to monotonous training and can keep our athletes interested in the boring things (corrective exercises) that they have to do every day.  Coach Deets also employs an “overtime” element to some of his training sessions, which occurs at the end of several training sessions per week (depending on the stage of training), which basically is another chance for the athletes to compete.  He described using the Vertimax to perform jumps, pushups, and core work continuously throughout the overtime period.  Again, a great concept to keep training fresh and your athletes motivated to compete.

Some things Coach Deets talked about that I truly agree with: conditioning should be more specific on developing speed, agility, reactivity, and quality athletic movement rather than grinding an athlete with multiple track runs and gassers.  Coach Deets did not employ any long distance track running with his basketball kids, and I definitely respect that decision.  He also begins every exercise session with specific correctional exercises that are determined based off his own movement screen prior to training.  It was pretty obvious to see why Coach Deets has been so successful up to this point, and I expect big things from the Missouri Tigers in the upcoming season.

It was truly an amazing opportunity to attend the CSCCa conference.  From the coaches I met and connected with, to the informative presentations I had the pleasure of hearing, the conference was a tremendous success.  I can’t wait to attend next year’s event in Kansas City and highly encourage anyone who has not attended a conference to try and make it next year.