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Monday, December 13, 2010

500 FMS screens in 10 hours :)

I recently screened roughly 500 youth soccer players, I got some great info. The ages were:

u-13 boys and girls
u-14 boys and girls
u-15 boys and girls
u-16 boys and girls
u-16 boys and girls
u-17 boys and girls

These were all high level players affiliated with the ODP program in MA.

We recorded previous injury history, as well as any type of growth related injuries, ie osgood, severs, etc..

Each group had 35-50 kids in it.

Some interesting findings off the top of my head, these are in no specific order:

-tons on concussions, every team had a minimum of 3 players

-a fair amount of separated shoulders and ac joint issues

-lots of anterior compartment syndromes and lumbar stress fractures which to me means OVERTRAINING

In every group there were at least 3 kids with osgood schlatters or severs disease.

In younger girls ( pre-pubescent ) the hurdle step showed lumbar hyper extension present during the step and poor hip stability on the opposing leg. The scores seemed to improve with older girls.

The DS scores were higher in pre- pubescent male players. Several players that were more mature scored poorly and we had many 0's given due to lower back pain in the DS, not good IMO

The HS showed similiar movement patterns in all soccer players, externally rotated femurs, poor ankle mobility. Better stability was present in older more mature athletes and younger athletes scored worse. Also, I think I had maybe 5 scores of 3/3 the whole day.

ASLR was very up and down as far as scoring went. It was weird, this seemed the most inconsistent as far as scoring goes. I couldn't see a pattern as well with this but once I dig deeper I may see patterns

RS- maybe 4 3/3's all day, lots of 2/2's. The ability to move opposing limbs while stabilizing the spine was poor in general

Same goes for Inline lunge, lots of 2/2's but not many 3/3. The scored were higher in pre-pubescent kids while lower in older athletes. Once these kids hit puberty, there movement goes to crap, plain and simple.

TSPU scores were obviously lower in younger athletes. A surprising number of mature male athletes cannot connect the core with the upper body...not good

SM was better in pre-pubescent kids overall, the males scored lower once matured and their wasn't much of a drop-off in females.

The highest score of the day was 19

Very interesting :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Foam rolling for the lower body

Here is a quick video I put together demonstrating some foam rolling techniques for the lower body.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

If it's important, do it every day.

I have a man crush on Dan John, yup I admit it. I have yet to find a strength coach who simplifies complex things so well. He always say " If it's important, do it every day." This holds true to so many things, here are some thoughts:


1. Drink plenty of water.

2. Eat more protein.

3. Learn something new about YOUR body.

4. Sleep.

5. Stretch-it feels good. I don't care about the studies on static stretching, it feels good so I do it.

6. Foam roll- again, some say it works and others don't. It works for me so I will roll with that.

7. Hip band work- yup, these prep drills look like something out of a Jane Fonda video. I don't care, my hips and back always feel better after.

8. Stretch my hip flexors- man I can't get enough of this. We sit all day in a flexed position. Do yourself a favor, stretch those puppies out.

9. Side- lying-Tspine rotations- aka rib pulls...these always feel great. Sometimes I get a few cracks too. Who needs a chiro?

10. Turkish get ups- do I have to explain


1. Tell your loved ones you love them.

2. Learn from someone younger and less experienced than you.

3. Open doors for people.

4. Teach at least once a day.

5. Give more than you get.

6. Buy a cup of coffee for someone in the military. They give it all so we don't have to. Spend a few bucks and say thanks

7. Say "Your welcome" and "Thank you"

8. Leave a good tip for a waiter/waitress during the holidays. If they do a good job, spread the cheer

9. Listen more, talk less.

10. Be patient.-Good things come to those who wait. If you don't get it when you want it, you weren't ready for it.

11. Breathe- never underestimate the power of breathing.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Hardest Workout EVER!!

I always here people say " Man, that was the toughest workout ever." Hard workouts are easy to formulate, and here is the secret.

Stupidity+Tons of Reps+ limited recovery+poor choice of weight+ highly technical lifts performed while fatigued = a dumb/hard workout

One more thing, a high powered stimulant always helps

So if you want a hard workout, here you go. Oh, and by the way these are very dumb workouts and if you try them you may be a bit soft upstairs.

10 dumb/hard workouts

1. 45 minutes of jumping jacks

2. 1 mile 200lb sled push

3. Deadlift your bodyweight in reps with no rest. Here is an example.
You weigh 175lbs, you must deadlift 175lbs for the 175 reps with no rest

4. 1/4 mile farmers walk with 125lb dumbells, if you drop the weight you must do 25 burpees as a penalty. Burpees are done every time the weight is put down.

5. Step into the ring with a pro MMA fighter, if you lose you must run a full marathon.

6. Unrack all the dumbells in your gym, load them into your car, Push the car for a 1/4 mile then load the dumbells back into the gym. Repeat twice

7. 20 weighted vest triple clap push-ups. If you fail you must perform an opposing limb bear crawl for 1/2 a mile. Remember, you have to use opposing limbs. I.E...only your right leg and left arm can touch the ground, or vice versa.

8. Perform the Tabata protocol with a 300 lb sled while hungover. If you are not hungover, drink a gallon of milk before the workout.

9. Perform 100 push-ups, then 99, 98, 97....all the way down to 0. Once finished do the same with pull-ups.

10. Swim a mile with your right arm only, but you can only swim the mile in a clockwise fashion.

This was fun, if you need more workouts please ask :)

DISCLAIMER- if you do any of these you are foolish.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Earning the deadlift

The deadlift or health lift has been around for a couple hundred years. Most strength professionals comprehend the benefits of this amazing lift but few know how to utilize it. Here are the most common mistakes with the deadlift.

1. Pulling in lumbar flexion- Unless you are competing in Powerlifting, their is no reason to pull in flexion. To be honest, it's really dumb

2. Lack of tension- In order to execute the deadlift, tension must be created. I see way too many people jerking the bar of the ground. The deadlift is a grind and not a ballistic movement.

3. It looks like a squat/deadlift/weird way of picking up weight thing- I see this alot, it's not a squat, it's not deadlift, it's a mix of these but both are done poorly. It looks as if someone is picking up a giant load of crap. Yup, let's call this the CRAPLIFT. Google deadlift on youtube, you may even see the infamous craplift.

4. Disconnecting the shoulders- most people don't understand how to connect the arms via lats. If you see rounded shoulders and a flailing torso, I am pretty sure the shoulders aren't connected. If you find a strength coach and they haven't mentioned the shoulders connecting at all, run the other way. While running the other way,throw in a tabata, its great fitness :)

Ok, back to the article. The deadlift must be earned. Several things must happen before one earns the deadlift. Here are a few recomendations before you starting deadlifting.

1. Get screened- get an FMS from a certified screener. He/she will let you know about any imbalances that may create problems for you and your training regimen. Fix the issues then progress

2. Find a strength coach that teaches and practices deadlifts a lot- Find a coach that can teach a deadlift to anyone. Their are many types of deadlifts, a good coach may teach you a different variation depending on your body type, injury history, training age etc. I also prefer strength coaches that practice what they preach. To me, this goes a long way.

3. Master the hip hinge- A symmetrical hip hinge it vital to a good deadlift. Master the hip hinge before you pull from the floor. This will ensure low back health and well as proper posterior chain development. The Active Straight Leg Raise or ASLR from the FMS is a great screen for the deadlift. If your hips are off, so is your deadlift.

4. Bring the floor to you- If you do not have the mobility to pull the bar of the floor with a neutral spine and good hip hinge then elevate the weight. Place the weight on a bumper plate, small box, or something stable. The will allow you to load the deadlift without compromising your low back. Remember safety first

5. Get your reps in- Practice the deadlift. It sound simple, but practice your technique as much as possible. You can practice every day, just make sure that you vary your loads and not fry your CNS. I love practicing 4x8 and 5x10 with newbie deadlifters. With proper weight and tempo, this will develop work capacity as well a create a healthy neurological pattern for the deadlift. Most athletes aren't ready for a true 5x5 deadlift routine day unless they have earned the pattern with thousands of good reps. Remember, Skill is a Strength :)

The deadlift is awesome, it's actually better than you

Here is some motivation :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

A message to new RKC's

The RKC weekend is a life changer. The people are passionate, High Fives are flying around like moths on street light. People are pressing giant kettlebells, networking, flexing their abs and are all fired up. You leave the RKC and you say to yourself " I can't wait for RKC 2, and the CK-FMS. I am gonna sign up asap.

Here is my advice....don't. I am not saying that you shouldn't take the courses, I am saying that you should wait. Wait and take the time to apply what you have learned. It's great if you can accomplish the basic lifts but teaching it is a whole different story. Once you have taught 50 different clients how to do the basics well, you will have a deeper understanding of the basic lifts. Then after the 50 clients, you will still have much to learn.

I am amazed at newly minted RKC's that create DVD's a week after the certification. Props to them that they have taken the initiative but IMO, its a bit premature. Just because you can regurgitate verbatim what you learned at the RKC doesn't mean it's time to create your own DVD.

I am not ripping on you, I am just saying that you should take your time and learn how to be a great coach. A great RKC is a great coach, this means that you can teach anyone how to perform the lifts.

Take your time and enjoy the ride, strive to be better, teach for free, learn, screw up, learn again and repeat for life.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

ARC trainer from Hell

I hate cardio equipment, for the most part I think it's useless. But, if you must hop on a piece of equipment, try the Cybex ARC trainer. It has a few programs that aren't too bad. Here is a true butt-kicking workout on the ARC trainer.

Caution, this will drive your HR pretty high, please exercise with caution!!

Hit the Strength button
Enter your weight
Select Level 10

Keep your strides per minutes over 135 for 10 minutes. Regardless of what the program does, always keep your strides over 135.

Enjoy and report back

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The 20 minute kettlebell workout

Here is my new favorite kettlebell routine. It takes 20 minutes, thats it ;) It's very simple but not easy. Here are the basic rules:

Pick 1 size kettlebell, I use the 24k for this. Choose wisely, your goal is to not change bells.

You will stay moving for 20 minutes, do not stop.

:30 of 2 handed swings
:30 of Goblet squats
:30 of pushups
200 meter run.

Repeat this for 20 minutes without rest. This is not an "all out" crossfit type routine. Quality reps is key. If you do not know how to manage fatigue yet then this workout is not for you. Keep track of how many "rounds" you finish and try this twice a week for 4 weeks.

If you are gassed, use the 200 meter run as a active recovery, if you can fly on the 200 meter runs, go for it.

The average male KB'er should start with a 20k or 24k while most women (not all) should use a 12k, 14k or 16k bell

Pace yourself, it's a long 20 minutes

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Todays training 10/5/10

5x2 weighted pull-ups

45 x2
55 x2
65 x2
75 x2
85 x2

RKC snatch test with a 20k

4 min flat

Gettin back into it again :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Freestyle Kettlebells

Here is a quick clip of some of the exercises and movement patterns that you can do with a kettlebell. Enjoy!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Veggies and get-ups

I don't like doing Turkish get-ups and I don't like eating my vegetables. Yes, I am pretty much an 8 year old trapped in a 25 year olds body with a 50 year olds hairline. But, its ok with me, I think farts are funny, still look reasonably fit and I choose to shave my head because it makes me faster.

Ok, back to veggies and get-ups...

Here are five reasons why I don't like vegetables.

1. They don't taste good to me unless I pile them with lots of cheese.

2. I am never full when I eat them.

3. You generally have to wash and cut them, which takes waaaay to long.

4. Ketchup does not count as a vegetable.

5. There's no protein in veggies.

Five Reasons I hate turkish get-ups:

1. I am not sure if they originated from Turkey.

2. They take too long.

3. I am not good at them...yet :).

4. It's like a golf swing, there is always something to fix.

5. There's no protein in get-ups ;)

I am a fitness professional so I pretty much know the reasons why I need to eat my veggies and do my get-ups regardless of the fact that I don't like either. Here are the reasons why you should do both.

Five reasons to eat your veggies:

1. Cancer Prevention- Vegetables are rich in antioxidants, substances shown to provide protection against free-radicals (reactive substances that damage cells and initiate cancer) and other phytochemicals that help to detoxify cancer-causing substances.

2. Keep Trim- Many vegetables contain 50 calories or fewer for a whole cup, while only five potato chips or one small cookie has the same number of calories. If you satisfy your appetite with hearty servings of vegetables and fruits, hunger won’t be a problem and you will eat smaller portions of higher-calorie meats and desserts.

3. Prevent Heart Disease- Eating more vegetables and fruits while cutting back on meat and dairy can help you limit heart-damaging saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet. The antioxidants and certain other phytochemicals in these foods also help prevent fatty deposits from forming in vessels. They also provide fiber, which helps lower blood cholesterol. The B vitamins are also present that help lower blood levels of homocysteine, high levels of which are a risk factor for heart disease.

4. Visual Health- Eating more vegetables and fruits may lower your risk for two of the most common causes of adult blindness: cataracts and macular degeneration. Scientists link this protection for the eyes with antioxidants like vitamin C and certain carotenoids.

5. Avoid Diabetes- Fruits and vegetables help avoid diabetes. Fruit and vegetables seem to raise blood sugar less than other foods that contain carbohydrates, and their fiber content slows the absorption of sugar into the blood.

Five Reasons to do Turkish Get-ups (TGU's):

1. Shoulder Stability-The TGU takes the shoulder through various planes of motion. Simply put, the more positions you train your shoulder in, the stronger and more stable it will be.

2. Total body Lift- The TGU is probably the best bang for your buck lift known to man, even animals. There is so much happening in the TGU that I won't even get into it. If you don't believe me, grab a kettlebell and do 20 minutes straight of get-ups. Call me later once you stop shaking.

3. Posture- Most athletes are anterior dominant, have anterior cervical spine and poor shoulder mobility. Get ups will help them all when done correctly and progressed appropriately.

4. Proprioception- The TGU will help create a more clear neurological map. Since you are familiarizing your body to various planes in a loaded fashion, your brain will get a blast of information and start to recognize the movement. Remember, you can't turn your nervous system off so practice with perfection.

5. Screening tool- The TGU is a great screen tool, helping to tell you where you are are restricted pretty quickly. It reveals weaknesses quicker than a caffeinated puppy. Always attack the weakness, not the strength.

Eat your veggies, do your get-ups!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stop with the excuses!

Don't tell me that you don't have time to get off your butt and start moving.

There will always be a reason to not get a workout in.

Honestly, suck it up and start taking care of yourself.

Macy McMillin isn't making excuses, so why are you?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This quote sums it all up!!

"And in those simple beautiful movements I remembered what was really important in training; that consistency trumps intensity; all the time. That intensity is born from consistency. That one cannot force it, one has to lay in wait for it, patiently, instinctively, calmly and be ready to grab it when Grace lays it down in front of you."

This is from Master RKC Mark Reifkind's blog. Read this, think about it then read it again and remember it when you train.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Skill of Strength is an LLC!

It's official! We are Skill of Strength, LLC.

We're working on taking our business to the next level. Stay tuned for some other exciting news, including pictures of the Skill of Strength vehicle we're getting and more details about what we are currently offering. If you're in the Greater Boston/Southern New Hampshire region and you or anyone you know is looking for Kettlebell Training or for personal training in your home or locally, please feel free to contact us.

A big huge thank you to all of our friends, family, clients and readers for all of your support to date!
We look forward to continuing to provide you with information, news and videos on strength training, conditioning and nutrition.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Can you write up a program for me?

When I meet people and they know what I do for a living, this is what happens.

New Person- You are a strength coach, can you write me a program? I have been stuck lately and I am not sure what to do. Can you help?

Me- Yes, I can help. I need some background information. First, we should set up a time for an evaluation.

New Person- Well, can't you just write me some exercises to do and maybe some cardio.

Me- No I can't, I have no idea on your medical history, injury history, medications, bad habits, lingering injuries, your current workout routine, your sleeping habits, your diet, your alcohol consumption, whether you smoke or not and how much time you have to dedicate to the gym. We also need to do a functional movement screen to address weak links, imbalances etc.

New Person- Wow, that's a lot, I am not sure I have the time.

Me- That's ok with me, you can go buys Mens Health or search Google for 'Best routine to get jacked '.

This is reality folks, people want the quick fix, the short cut. There are not too many people that actually want to do the necessary things to move better, feel better and look better. It's too much for them. They are lazy, maybe not lazy with their job or family, but lazy when it comes to working out. This is why people always ask trainers if they can write a routine for them.

I don't have a problem writing a routine for them once I evaluate them and teach them the proper way to execute the exercises on their own. Then, for a fee, I will write them a routine. I am a professional and it takes time and knowledge to write a program. If you don't want to pay for it, you want to take the easy way out and don't really want to move better, feel better and look better then, like I said, buy a magazine or go on the internet.

I want you to try this out. Set up an appointment with a brand new Doctor and say this verbatim.

"Doc, I know we just met but I am gonna need some vicodin, oxycontin, flomax, viagra, celebrex, lomotil, accutane and some GHB."

My guess is that he is gonna think you are two sandwiches short of a picnic. He should not prescribe you anything until he gets your medical history and performs a physical. If he does prescribe you the drugs mentioned above, he may not be a legit doctor or he likes breaking the law.

This happens with trainers as well. A good trainer should not just write up a program for you. He/she should evaluate you, look at your goals, perform some type of movement screen and then decide what the best path is for you.

If a trainer/strength coach does not do any of this and the first exercise they do with you is the nautilus leg adduction or rear deltoid machine, please run for the hills!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Ultimate warm-up- The Skill of Strength 20/20 Movement Prep

This warm-up is simple. 20 exercises, 20 reps and it takes roughly 20 minutes.

This prep was designed to improve mobility, flexibility, increase work capacity and improve muscular endurance. It was based off of 100's of FMS screens and the goal is to address weak links and imbalances commonly found in athletes. This is a great prep for anyone that wants to move better and feel better.

Enjoy and please comment!

Note: The video is in 3 parts since its 20 minutes long.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Monday, July 19, 2010

Why you suck at pull-ups :)

Pull-ups are IMO one of the best body weight strength training exercises out there. I've witnessed tens of thousands of pull-ups in my day, some good and some bad...mostly bad. Why do people suck at pull-ups? Because they practice sucking at pull-ups. Do they suck on purpose? Is their primary goal to suck at pull-ups? Probably not, but they have never been taught how to do pull-ups and they haven't practiced pull-ups correctly. The apostle Dan John has a quote he uses a frequently "if it is important, do it every day." This is a great quote for many reasons but the angle I am going to take is related to motor learning and the nervous system.

Here are some quick facts about the CNS and skill development.

1. The nervous system does not have an on/off switch, it remembers everything you do, good and bad.

2. It is the fastest system in the body; Signals can travel over 300 mph.

3. Skill is developed by practicing drills and exercises perfectly. If you perform a drill wrong, you have just taught your body how to perform the drill wrong. Every time you accrue a bad rep, you are telling your body that its's ok to perform the repetition incorrectly.

Now, lets take a quick look at the 3 stages of motor learning and see how this applies to learning an exercise.

Cognitive (1-100 reps)

This is when a person is introduced to a task. The athlete is concerned with what to do and not so much how to do it. This is when we learn something new, like a pull-up. :)

Associative (1,000 to 10,000 reps)

The athlete starts to perform and refine the skills learned. They understand the task and begin to make changes to achieve the goal. Again, in this case, the pull-up.

Autonomous (100,000 to 300,000 reps)

The task becomes automatic, no thought is required. The athlete simply performs the drill and does not even think about it.

These are general numbers, some can master the task more quickly than others, but it all comes down to how much you practice and HOW you practice. As I mentioned before, if you practice the drill poorly, you will continue to perform the drill poorly.


Now, how do we practice getting better at pull-up? We do them every day. Does this mean we do weighted pull-ups every day? Do we do neutral grip pull-ups every day? Do we do reverse grip pull-ups, or how about band pull-ups?

Keep it simple stupid. If you want to get better at overhand grip pull-ups, practice them with an overhand grip.

The Experiment

Try this and see how you do. Do 1 or 2 pull-ups every 10 minutes at the gym. Or, you can do them when you get water or when you finish a different exercise. The key is to practice one or two with perfect form and with no fatigue. If you train for 1 hour you can accrue any where from 6-12 pull-ups a day with no fatigue. If you do this every day of the week you can accrue 42-84 pull-ups a week. This can equate from anywhere to 168 to 336 perfect pull-ups a month. That's a heaping pile of perfect pull-ups. Try this and I can guarantee you will get better at pull ups.

Also, consider this. When was the last time you practiced any exercise over 300 times in one month? And, if you did practice that many reps are you proficient at that specific exercise?

"If it is important, do it it every day "

If you want to get better at pull-ups, do pull ups. :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Intermittent fasting and todays workout

I just started intermittent fasting as my eating regimen. Here is my basic plan, I eat my normal food intake but from 12 noon to 8pm. I basically eat for 8 hours and fast for 16 hours. During my morning fast I sip some amino acids and take fish oil to control my blood sugar levels. After 2 days I feel great, my energy is up in the afternoons and feel good thus far. I will keep this updated along with pics to see my progress. For more info go to www.leangains.com

Todays Workout

I started deadlifting again and felt pretty good, I also added in weighted pull -ups :)

Deadlift 5x5- I was pretty happy considering my achy back


Weighted pull-ups 4x2

70lb weighted
75lb weighted
80lb weighted
85lb weighted

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Man vs. Mountain...Mountain wins

I went mountain biking with my wife last weekend at Ahern State Park in Laconia, NH. Here was my attempt at a knarly hill. I lost this battle but I will win the war.

This is pretty entertaining ;)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Another solid day

Still feeling pretty good

20k arm bar 5x5

5x5 Bodyweight pistols

5x5 DB chest press

prep is the key :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Feeling better :)

Feeling better today, still a bit achy but slow and steady wins the race

Z mobility drills w/focus on high payoffs ;)

Deadlift 5x5
135, 185, 195, 205, 225

These felt light with no lower back problems

Weighted Pullups 5x5
all done w/a 24k kettlebell

I am hoping to get some swings in later today

Friday, June 25, 2010

A few thoughts on training young athletes

I am lucky to have the opportunity to train young athletes. I especially enjoy training high school athletes. I have been asked by several trainers/parents and coaches how to introduce strength training to their kids. If you are in the business of training/coaching young athletes here are five things that I suggest you nail down first.

1. Perfect hip hinge with a neutral spine- this is a must. This will teach the athlete how to extend their hips properly and safely. The hip hinge lays the foundation for RDL's, Bent rows, Deadlifts, KB swings and several other essential movement patterns. Teach this early and often, if will make your life easier as well

2. Body Weight squat- IMO, kids have no business putting a bar on their backs if they cannot perform at least 100 body weight squats in one session. Teach them to squat with proper depth and pay attention to their joint alignment as well as their lumbar spine. If you cannot teach a proper squat you might want to reconsider being a strength coach.

3. Anterior/Posterior pelvic tilt- teach the athlete about neutral spine and how to execute it by pelvic tilting. When paired up with the hip hinge will lay the foundation for proper movement patterns. This will also help the athlete during planks, and push-ups.

4. Push ups-Ahhh the push-up. Great when executed properly, terrible when taught wrong. Half push-ups don't count. Their is no need for a anterior cervical glide in a push-up. There is no need for a hyper-extended lumbar curve in a push-up. There is no-need for a butt in the air push-up. Teach the kids to connect their core with their upper body, do the push-ups right. End of story. There are way too many kids that cannot do a push-up, its embarrassing.

5. Lunge patterns- Too many kids cannot lunge these days. Here are my cues on teaching the lunge. Tall spine, vertical shin angle, weight in the front heel, no valgus or varus forces in the knee. These are simple cues but they work.

Here is my rant :)

High school athletes look bigger and stronger than ever but they are weaker than ever. Most kids train to look good not to perform good. I see way too may kids that can bench 225 but cannot perform 20 perfect pushups. The same kids can't even do 1 perfect pull-up. Their planks are terrible, they cannot deadlift due to poor mobility. They can't squat or even lunge.

Stop training your athletes like bodybuilders, train them to move better. Strength training is a skill and is slowly getting lost when it comes to our young athletes. It makes me sick

Monday, June 21, 2010

Coach vs Critic, which one are you?

I train athletes of all ages. I love to teach and mentor my athletes. When someone leaves me they should have learned something, if they didn't then I feel as if I didn't teach them properly. Some athletes are easier than others but my goal is to educate. There are many Strength Coaches out there but too many of them are Strength Critics. Here is how I distinguish the two.

Strength Coach

-provides an assessment for the athletes
-teaches the athletes his/her prep/corrective work and gives them the reasons why they are doing it.
-teach the athlete how to perform a lift and master it so the athlete can perform it on their own SAFELY
-provides feedback after every set/rep, praise for good reps and constructive gentle criticism for poor reps
-watches every move the athlete makes
-motivates the athlete
-CARES about the athlete
-learns something new every day
-the athletes leaves feeling good and cannot wait to come back

Strength Critic

- drills the warm-ups, never teaches proper movement patterns
- tells the athletes he/she is doing wrong but doesn't show them how to fix it
- cares more about their own workouts, not the athletes
- beats them into the ground with too much volume
- the athlete leaves learning nothing but they got their "butt kicked"
- puts down every other strength coach yet fails to learn something new everyday
- the athlete leaves beat to death and cannot walk for 3 days

Anyone can tell athletes to do a drill, not everyone can teach an athlete to master a drill. There is a HUGE difference. Make an impact on how your athlete moves, feels and carries themselves. Be the type of Strength Coach they tell their kids about 20 years from now.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Easy rehab day

Foam Roll/soft tissue work
Z health mobility drills
40 strict pull ups
40 split squats ( bodyweight )

Back is feeling a bit better, slow and steady wins the race

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Great weekend bad ending

I had a great weekend at Perform Better. I promise to re-cap the weekend in another blog soon. The combination of lack of sleep, hours of sitting/driving, and poor nutrition got to me. I guess my previously herniated discs didn't like my weekend. I am not the type of person to take my shirt off and post it but here is a great example of how spending 4 days not taking care of your body looks.

When this happens I resemble a question mark. It's very painful and the spasms suck but I will live :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Todays workout 5/24

100 strict tactical pull-ups :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Gospel according to John

Dan John I mean. I just picked up "Never let go" and started it last night. WOW! I am very late in the game picking this up but what a great read. I am two chapters in and I already have started to rethink the way I teach/train. If you like getting strong, love to learn and have a sense of humor, grab this book. http://www.davedraper.com/fitness_products/product/BDJN.html

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Random thoughts on training

Master the push-up before you bench press.

Master the body weight squat before you even think about throwing a bar on your back.

Do pull-ups correctly and strict. This means elbows locked out at the bottom and throat to the bar at the top.

Before you attempt a barbell hang clean make sure you have mastered a proper hip hinge and proper barbell front squat. If you can't do both you cannot hang clean.

Master the overhead squat and hip hinge before you barbell snatch.

Planks are about full body tension, if your glutes are not tight you are doing it wrong.

Prepare your body with a purpose. Butt kicks, A-skips, knee to chest and and a light jog will not help you squat better.

If you teach as a profession then someone must learn. If someone hasn't learned from you, learn how to teach better.

Swing before you snatch.

Swing before you clean.

Practice every day, you will become a better teacher by practicing.

Take care of your body, you only have one.

The deadlift was once called the healthlift for a reason. When executed correctly its an amazing exercise. When done wrong your dead.

Don't complicate your exercise regimen. If you can squat, deadlift push and pull there is no reason not to be fit.

If you sit at a desk all day in a flexed position there is absolutely no reason to perform "crunches." You are making your poor posture worse.

Stop reading a magazine on the cardio equipment. It's worthless. If you want to waste 45 minutes take a nap.

If you have dealt with a lumbar spine injury in the past and you are on the road to rehabilitation, quit while you are ahead. Leave your practice session feeling good not bad.

Throw away your wrist wraps and improve your grip strength. Don't let grip be your weak link.

Drink more water.

Find a healthy way to compete.

Z-health R phase practice day

Today I am going to run through all of the Z-health R phase mobility drills. I will be attending the certification in Boston on June 11-13.

Perfect practice makes perfect

Visit www.zhealth.net for more info

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Great Resource

For all of you Strength Coaches looking for a great and free read. Please check out Dan John's ebook on Training and Olympic lifts. This is a guy who gets it and is one of the best teachers out there. I highly recommend this!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Having some fun!!

We were filming some videos for work and I decided to have a little fun :)

Triple Clap Push-up


95lb single arm barbell snatch



Monday, May 10, 2010

Today's workout 5/10

50 2 handed swings with 24k bell
1/4 mile run

8 rounds of this totaling 400 swings and 2 miles of running

1/4 mile runs were all between 1:45 and 1:55

Length of workout was 29 min and 42 seconds

My polar HR monitor said I burned roughly 411 calories in that time

Friday, May 7, 2010

Memories of my RKC certification, April 09

I just found some pics my from RKC weekend. It's hard to believe it's been one year since that life changing weekend. Here are a few memories that pop into my head from the weekend.

- meet and greet at the holiday, man the room was tough to find.
- Adam Glass at the meet and greet, he was tearing decks of cards like tissue paper
- the Kia rental car was the slowest car in the world, I can run faster than a Kia
- whats up with the stop lights on the exit ramps when entering the highway?
- Buffalo wild wings- beer and wings....the perfect ending to a hard days work
- a terrible sunburn on the backs of my legs, it was almost 80 degrees every day in MN in April, who would have thought!!
- swings, swings, swings, swings, swings, burpees, swings, swings
- Pavel kicking me in the stomach during my plank
- torn up hands, tape and chalk
- my victim was a sweet women who was the oldest "victim" there, she must have been 80. Man was I nervous, I knew I was gonna get her as my victim :)
- hamstrings and glutes were smoked, I couldn't walk right for 5 days
- meeting Mike Robertson, he's a smart man
- the graduation work out
- Brett handing me my certification, there is a man who cares about the RKC family

For those of you who are thinking about the RKC, just do it. You will cherish the memories and be part of something bigger than you.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A couple tips on head/neck position while swinging kettlebells

A couple tips on head/neck position while swinging

One of my new clients has just dove into Kettlebell training, but she has very little experience with KB's so there is a lot to learn. She had done some "swings" at her other gym with her boot camp trainer. She said that her neck was very sore after swings. I took a quick look and this is what I found.

1. She was shrugging at the top of each swing (bell at shoulder height).

2. Her shoulders were disconnected at the top of the swing.

3. Her C-spine was in full extension at the bottom of the swing and her C-spine was in full flexion at the top of the swing. There was way too much movement in the neck while swinging.

Geez, I wonder why her neck hurt.

Here are a few things to consider - they are some of the finer points of the swing that need to be addressed.

If you shrug, your chances of connecting the shoulders via lats is highly unlikely. If your goal is giant traps do shrugs, not crappy swings. The lats basically shut off when you shrug - sure you can still activate them, but it's not very efficient. Spend some time connecting your shoulders properly and reap the benefits. You may even get stronger at your pull-ups.

Ok, try this ( honestly don't really). Slam your chin to your chest, now look up at the ceiling really fast. Now, do this for 40 minutes....(please don't!!)

I have seen this ROM replicated in some people's swings, pay attention to your neck position during all KB lifts. Video yourself from the side and look at your neck position.

If your neck sore when training with KB's, try to use these tips.

Hope this helps!

Sundays workout 5/2/10 Man Maker-esque

Man maker-esque

My wife and I completed the following yesterday

50 swings
1/4 mile run

repeat 8 times through with no rest

400 swings and 2 miles total

She used a 16k and I used a 24k

Friday, April 30, 2010

Kettlebell Training for Soccer Players

I have trained roughly 20 professional soccer players in my career as a Strength and Conditioning Coach. Within the last 2 years I have incorporated Kettlebell swings into their off-season training. What have I seen?

Increased vertical leap
Stronger core, especially when going shoulder to shoulder
No more hamstring pulls
Stronger grip (for shirt pulling) :)
The ability to manage fatigue when tired

Now, these are only a few results that I have noticed in these athletes, but as far as I am concerned, these are HUGE benefits of kettlebell training. Let's dig a bit deeper and see how kettlebell swings helped to produce each of these results.

Increased Vertical Leap

Simply put, we found their glutes! A proper hardstyle kettlebell swing teaches proper hip hinge. Think of the start position on a vertical jump…looks similar to a swing, huh? Kettlebell swings teach athletes to load their hips properly as well as to drive their hips forward and through (think of a soccer player going up for a head ball). The swing mimics the same stretch/reflex principles of plyometrics, but with the added benefit of an external load.

Stronger Core

Controlling the bell on a hardstyle swing requires great core strength and coordination. When teaching the swing, I tell my athletes "your glutes are the gas pedal and your stomach/core is the brakes." Exploding through the hips is great but if you can't control the bell then you are asking for trouble.
I am sure you have seen athletes who have explosive hips that end up chasing the bell because they cannot stabilize it.There are many other reasons why this happens, but a weak core can be one of them. At the top of the swing, the glutes are flexed, the distance from the pelvis to ribcage is shortened/tightened and the shoulders stay connected. A proper eccentric pull of the swing calls for great core strength as well. When performed correctly with the biomechanical breathing match, it compresses the diaphragm and creates great tension through the midsection. Keeping tight is vital when players are competing for a 50/50 ball.

No More Hamstring pulls

Does the term synergistic dominance mean anything to you? Hamstring pulls happen way too much in pro soccer and I'll let you in on something…it's not from weak hamstrings! If you were to perform isolated hamstring tests on healthy professional soccer players, they would pass with flying colors. The problem is that when hamstrings are overworked, they act as hip extensors when the glute should be doing it. The glutes shut down and the hamstrings do double the work, resulting in pulled or torn hamstring muscles.
Most soccer players have tight hip flexors which prevents them from extending their hips properly. When the hip flexors are too tight, the hamstring works too much and the glutes are not utilized. Then comes the hamstring pull.
The kettlebell swing will help soccer players find their glutes. Plenty of kettlebell swings, paired up with some great hip flexor stretches, will help keep your athletes going all season.

Better Endurance

Sprints aren't the only way to get soccer players fit. These athletes spend all day running yet what do most strength coaches prescribe for fitness? More running. Don't even get me started on why this is wrong.
Imagine if there was an exercise that drives heart rate, works the glutes/posterior chain, increases body awareness, increases core strength and does not pound on the joints. Oh wait, that's the hardstyle swing. Enough said.

Stronger Grip

Ok, I know shirt pulling is cheap, but it's a reality in the professional soccer world. Just the other day I was playing with a few of the pros I train and I had to resort to the shirt pull. What happened? It was a foul and he ended up on the ground, but he did not score. Mission accomplished. If you are gonna pull someone's shirt, why not have great grip strength, never let go and pull them to the ground? This way you are sure they won't score a goal. One thing to note... try not to do this in the penalty box.

The ability to manage fatigue

As soccer players, we run sprints our whole lives. As we get older we learn how to condition ourselves and manage fatigue. We lengthen our strides, have better body control in the corners, control breathing and learn how to pace ourselves.
Try to perform anywhere from 300-500 swings as quickly as possible. You will notice a few things. Your swing may clean up and you'll stay more compact so you do not have to chase the bell with unwanted movement. You'll stay tight when needed and stay loose when needed - this is the essence of hardstyle training. Utilize proper breathing patterns to stabilize the bell in every position of the swing.
I am fairly certain that there have not been a lot of studies about kettlebells and soccer players. All i know is that the proof is in the pudding. This is what I have seen and experienced. I don't play nearly as much soccer as I would like to, but I train with kettlebells almost every day. Fitness and strength are never an issue when I play with the 'big-boys'… technical ability and foot skills, well thats another thing.

Kettlebells, Training and Injuries

Lately, I have seen a ton of posts relating to lower back discomfort when using KB's. Here are some things to think about if you honestly want to learn what we teach and practice as RKC's.

1. Get cleared by a Doctor, they normally know best.

2. Get screened by a PT, SFMA or FMS certified individual. I am not saying that the FMS is the only way to screen, but it's very consistent and will give your trainer/PT a nice roadmap on what you need to work on. Oh and it works!

3. Spend the money and visit an RKC. I thought I knew how to swing a bell before I was an RKC, but I didn't. My point is that you can read all the books the Pavel has written and may do very well, but nothing beats working with an RKC who has invested thousands of hours and dollars to hone his/her craft.

4. Learn a proper hip hinge. This is must, period. A hip hinge practiced correctly should not create pain. If you are swinging a bell and it hurts, did you get cleared by a Doctor? Did you get screened? Did you visit a RKC?

If you did all of those and it still hurts, seek out a Doctor and start fresh.

5. Master the basics. At the RKC we spend 3 full days on 6 exercises. I can guarantee you that almost all RKC's still practice the basic 6 and are still perfecting their technique.

Don't rush into exercises because they look sexy. I would rather see a perfect swing than a viking push-press went wrong.

6. If it hurts, stop. Do I have to explain?

Most RKC's are pretty cool people. Most are willing to help. If you need a hand, reach out. We are all passionate about Kettlebell training. We took the RKC because we truly love and believe in Kettlebell Training and the RKC.

Just my 2 cents...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Todays workout 4/28

70 BW pistols, 35L and 35R

Did 5 sets of each leg then switched, no rest

Monday, April 26, 2010

Todays workout

foam roll/tennis ball soft tissue work

Kb press
20k X10
24k X6
32k x5 2 sets

S-leg RDL
20k 4x4
24k 1x4

Weighted pull-ups
32k 3x3
cranks 2x4

BW pistols 4x4

Back is feeling better so I will increase volume on the pistols. Trying to quit when I still feel good ;)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Airborne Lunge ( how to video)

Here is a quick video on the airborne lunge. It's not as sexy as the pistol but IMO it's the precursor to the pistol. Enjoy!

View Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ63WK_bCOk

Monday, April 19, 2010

Todays workout

Z mobility
ASLR prep
T spine
Dowel press from different squat depths

Akro wheel progression

Swing ladders, 20 each, 20, 24, 32 x5

Press ladders 2,3,4,5 w/32k x4

Ring work

Friday, April 2, 2010

Something to Consider

When approaching the KB, make sure you focus on the task at hand. YOU and only YOU determine how the bell will move. Be aggressive focused and relaxed, you own the bell, it does not own you. You react, the bell moves. Do not approach it half-heartedly, if you aren't dead set on achieving your task you will not complete it. Every goal is attainable, but only you determine the road map to reaching it.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Beast tamer challenge 1 out of 3 DONE!!

Pull-up ladders paid off, I did a 48kg (106lb) pull-up today. I am pretty happy. Still practicing on the pistol and press but I am pretty happy! Slow and steady wins the race


Monday, March 29, 2010

Great Practice Day

Z mobility drills
aslr work
rib pulls
dowel squat press from different depths (WOW)
16kg get-ups 5 L/R
100 24kg swings
3x4 16kg pistols L/R
4x3 s-arm press 32kg x3 and 36kg x3 (felt light today about time) :)
40 strict pull-ups
40 strict dips

Added tons of mobility work into each set, lots of ASLR work, S-leg deads before pistols and modified Bretzels.

I think i am learning how to practice better these days, I feel good after my lift not worse!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What I learned today 3/25/10

When stretching the hamstring, dorsiflexion of the ankle is not necessary. You may "feel" it more but what you may feel is neural tension and not necessarily true lengthening of the hamstring. Thanks Al!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

1st ever RKC GTG in New England

I can't wait!!! New England RKC's have to represent, soooooo here is the scoop on the RKC New England GTG:

When: Saturday April 17th

Time: 10:30am to whenever we are done

Where: Athletic Evolution, 78B Olympia ave, Woburn, MA 01801

Please forward this to all RKC's you know and see if they are interested. I have some bells but the more the merrier. I also have an FMS test kit if we choose to use it. I have plenty of chalk as well.

Please email me to confirm at mpbass5@gmail.com.

Bring a snack and get ready to have some fun! Anyone own a beast?


Friday, March 19, 2010

Kettlebells make you invincible

Here is a quote from a good friend of mine, I introduced him to hardstyle KB training a few months back.

"Dude, kettlebells are scary. They make you feel invincible. Like I did tough workout today and I was pretty certain I could kill a man with my bare hands."

Hardstyle Kettlebell Training- if your goal is to kill someone with your bare hands, please contact your nearest RKC.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Assisting at a RKC

I inquired yesterday about assisting at an RKC in the future. I was pleased to find out that my team leader had reccomended me as an assistant. It doesn't seem like a big deal but it made my day. Power to the RKC!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Conditioning for soccer players

Soccer is a passion of mine, I have played since I was 6 years old. I have been very fortunate to train several pro soccer player over the years and have developed a pretty straight forward way to get fit fast. The protocol is designed for a pretty fit high school player all the way up to the pros. All of these intervals are based on 1 minute of work, so a 45/15 interval would be 45 seconds of a brisk jog and 15 seconds of a sprint. I use 50 yds as a distance, this way you can open up your stride length.You will be running back and forth for the duration of your workout. These workouts will be done twice a week, and at the end of a training session. This will take 9 weeks and if you are honest and if you train hard, you will reap the benefits. This training regimen will replace long distance running.

Weeks 1-3

#1 45/15 for 5 min
#2 45/15 for 6 min
#3 45/15 for 7 min
#4 45/15 for 8 min
#5 45/15 for 9 min
#6 45/15 for 10 min

Weeks 4-6

#1 40/20 for 5 min
#2 40/20 for 6 min
#3 40/20 for 7 min
#4 40/20 for 8 min
#5 40/20 for 9 min
#6 40/20 for 10 min

Weeks 7-9

#1 35/25 for 5 min
#2 35/25 for 6 min
#3 35/25 for 7 min
#4 35/25 for 8 min
#5 35/25 for 9 min
#6 35/25 for 9 min

A few thoughts....

Conditioning is all in your head, keep your head down and train hard every step you take.

Be honest when you sprint, when it's time to sprint, you better be moving!

Make sure you turn in both directions at the end of each 50yd marker, you do not want to create imbalances by only turning one way.

Never act tired, act as if you have been there before and you are comfortable. Never let your opponent see you fatigued, be mentally tough. Make sure they quit before you do.

I have done this, it works. I would never prescribe a routine that I haven't done myself. Practice what you preach.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

a few things

Just got back from the Bahamas, Atlantis was fun, we may have to re-mortgage the house after paying for the food there. If you ever go, bring some cash or get a 2nd job 6-8 months prior to the trip.

Atlantis didn't have kettlebells, booooo...

I just signed up for the Z-health R and I phase certs in Boston - can't wait.

My website www.skillofstrength.com is getting built by my amazing wife, it should be ready to go within the next 30 days or so. Honey you are the best!!

Back is feeling better, its amazing....when I stick to my mobility drills and not over train I feel better. I guess a need a strength coach.

Just got my "I just pood" bumper stickers - yes I am 30 and think it's funny.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why are you a trainer?

Why are you a trainer or a strength coach?

Is your goal to truly help your clients?

Do you take care of yourself? Do you practice what you teach/preach?

Are you in it for self recognition, money or fame?

Have you ever trained anyone for free because they needed it?

Have you mentored a younger strength coach?

Do you learn every day?

Have you taken extra time with a client that isn't one of your favorites?

Have you ever had a client/athlete who at first you didn't want to work and and 1 year later you can call them a true "friend"

How many clients have you impacted in a positive way?

Is success measured by the amount of money in the bank or the amount of people you have helped?

Answer these honetly and then think about your answers. How do you feel about your
"honest" answers? Do you feel confident about the truth or as if you may be missing something?

Why are you a trainer?

It's not about you and how great you are, it's about your clients and how you share your gift as a trainer with them.

God gave us two ears, two eyes and one mouth for a reason. I am pretty sure it's so we can listen more, see more and talk less.