For those of you who have wondered why the blog content has dried up, in returning from my spring break on Monday, I got a nice post-break assault of assignments and midterms. I love how profs make it so that your break isn’t really a break from schoolwork…however I chose to be rebellious and didn’t do much work at all over last week, so I was playing some serious catch up.(It was also my birthday on Tuesday, I’m a ripe old 23 years young now. So all this work was at the expense of my birthday festivities which will have to be pushed back)

Since I haven’t blogged in about a week, this is going to be a bit of a throwback to my Random Thought Fridays. As they say in the blog reading world, “Bon Appetite” :P

1) Spring training games have started! Ah the optimism of Spring Training…for the players and teams, not necessarily so much the fans. In any event, I always enjoy watching the weekly game they show on tv up here (usually a Yankees game for some reason) since it sheds some hope on the fact that spring is actually on its way.

2)  This is a video I saw on Coach Jeremy Boone’s blog. Jeremy has worked with the Carolina Panthers as well as running his own performance training company, Athletes by Design (I figure by using some of his content, the least I can do is give a shoutout to his site). In the video Pete Carroll (head football coach) and Chris Carlisle (head strength & conditioning coach) at USC are discussing preparation for football. Pay particular attention to Coach Carlisle speaking about the purpose of strength training at 1:04 – 1:50. In school, my training class I’ve had all talk about periodization (a fancy term for the planned progression of training) and how in the off-season there is a general preparation phase and a specific preparation phase. What I dislike about this idea is that it is being taught as though “specific” actually means “identical” or “identical enough” (I’ve written about this before >> Anti-sport specificity <<)

3) I hope this post doesn’t turn into a rant on periodization :P In a standard (linear) periodization model we have hypertrophy (gain muscle size), strength, and power phases to name the big ones, but to make up a successful program thats going to allow an athlete to play better, these have to be trained for as part of the big picture. The big picture being the athlete performing better on the field, court, ice, etc. I think with strength and power this is pretty straightforward, but with hypertrophy I think this can become somewhat mis-directed. If I need to put some weight on an athlete, I need to put on weight that will allow them to be better on the field. This means I’m not having them use bodybuilding methods that will make them add size for size’s sake.

4) Continuing from point 3 (I wanted to give it its own point), this doesn’t mean that bodybuilding methods are necessarily bad; for training an athlete they can be used improperly but thats not the fault of the method. If we’re training athletes and they need a more advanced or aggressive hypertrophy protocol, the strength coach just needs to adapt the implementation of the method so that its adds muscle so that sport performance will be improved.

5) I wish I could work on some plyometric progressions here at school, however we have no hurdles or boxes, so I’d pretty much be relegated to a level 1 progression which wouldn’t mean much past the first 3 weeks. Gotta love the university gym — cuase people there don’t want to train for performance right?!

Hope you enjoyed this week’s return to blogging! I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these points whether you’re a coach, athlete, or general fitness enthusiast…the more persepctives the better!

Have a great weekend guys!

CB

After a day off from blogging, its back to business! The past couple of days have been awesome since I was able to go back to SST and talk program design as well get a lower body lift in — although that turned into a hang clean technique session :).

Anyways today’s post is not just about why I changed my blog’s name, but also why I realized I got into fitness in the first place. Sometimes I’d think about this because a couple of notable fitness experts, Alwyn Cosgrove and Craig Ballantyne, say that a) you can’t be really successful in this field until you realize you’re real innate passion and b) knowing this “raison d’etre” (reason for being) will determine the target market you should focus on if you have that drive to be an entrepreneur.

Since I started getting certified as a personal trainer 2 1/2 years ago, my own personal training goal up until recently has just been to gain muscle mass. As a result when I started to realize I had entrepreneurial aspirations, I just assumed that my niche should then be people looking to add muscle mass. (This is what I thought I would target my blog to when I first started it last May). This was more a feeling of “I think this is what drives me to train in the gym, so I guess I must focus on the identical niche if I start a business/marketing myself” — in other words, it wasn’t something that deep down I was sold on as my “reason”.

Yes, I have always wanted to gain muscle mass (in all honesty, probably some underlying body image issues there), but a couple of weeks ago it hit me that my thinking on all this was wrong. You see, I realized that I got into weight training when I was 16, because I wanted to get bigger so that I could be a better baseball player. I have never just wanted to get big for big’s sake…there’s always been an athletic reason for wanting to add size and get stronger, etc. Even now that I just play recreational baseball during the summer, I still want to improve each off-season via my training; that’s the reason that drives my own training and ends up being what I really enjoy reading/studying that is fitness-related for hours most days (this is also a avoidance strategy for studying for my university exams — I go study training…geeky I know ;)

So here’s a short paragraph summarizing my raison d’etre:

I got into the fitness industry to help athletes take their game to the next level. I want to provide my athletes with all the information they need to do that — because when I was playing for a scholarship, I have since realized that people who trained me didn’t tell me everything I needed to know to take full advantage of the training. The end goal being that I want to see the athletes I train accomplish whatever their athletic goals are.

I mentioned that strength coaches I had back in the day didn’t tell me everything. This isn’t to say they weren’t good, just that the field has progressed a ton since then — specifically that you can’t talk about strength & conditioning for improved athletic performance without addressing nutrition nowadays. There’s a reason I singled out nutrition advice in my raison d’etre statement above:

I was in the 115-130 pound range at 5’6″ my last three years of high school when I was playing baseball on a travel team. I would work hard in the gym, but always put on no more than 5 pounds (which I would lose during the season). Hindsight has taught me that I needed to know about nutrition; specifically that I needed to be told to eat more. As a teenager not immersed in learning about fitness this wasn’t obvious to me, and I was never told anything about nutrition. This was a BIG motivator for me wanting to get into the industry and help other athletes because I could use my experience to help other athletes not make the same mistakes I did!

So back to the blog — the old name “Chris Brown’s blog on strength training and nutrition” was generic; it wasn’t targeting information at anyone which is understandable since when I started this thing I wasn’t as aware of my real motivation as I am now. So the new name “Chris Brown’s blog on enhancing athletic performance in the gym” is more indicative that I want to focus on providing information on training athletes (obviously non-athlete who want to train like athletes will find benefit from the info too) since thats what I really enjoy!

Anyways here’s to the next chapter of this blog — I hope you guys will continue to come along for the ride!

CB

First things first, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may have noticed a change in the blog title. Before it was “Chris Brown’s blog on Strength Training and Nutrition”, now its “Chris Brown’s blog on Enhancing Athletic Performance in the Gym”. The reason for the change was simply my realization of why I really began to pursue a career in the fitness industry. I’ll share that story tomorrow most likely.

Second, seeing everyone at SST today was awesome!! The whole crew there has been nothing but supportive of me as I’ve developing as a trainer and coach, so its always great to see them!

Alright with that appetizers out of the way, its time to digest the main course!

Interestingly I was speaking this afternoon with one of the athletes I’ve coached at SST over the past 2 summers abd found out that early in the winter he had sustained a concussion. He then said that he was unable to compete for quite a while because of post-concussion symptoms. Then the kicker came: he stated that if he would’ve been told that he was unable to compete in competitions much longer, he would’ve just competed anyway.

This is exactly why I found Chris Nowinski’s presentation at the seminar last weekend so necessary for anyone involved in youth sports to hear! There has to be a change with the “act tough” culture in youth sports — especially with respect to head/brain injuries. It’s admirable that these young athletes are so dedicated to their sport, but at the same time, recovery from a concussion needs to look at the long-term benefit to the athlete not just whats going to be beneficial for the current competitive season.

This of course would be easier if athletes understood when a hard hit was more than that. A study Chris looked at at SLI (Sport Legacy Institute) stated that “less than 10% of concussions are being reported to athletic trainers”. To find the reasons for this, the researchers when straight to the athletes…here were the results:

Why concussions weren’t reported:

  • Did not think it was serious enough – 66%
  • Did not want to leave the game – 41%
  • Did not know it was a concussion – 36%
  • Did not want to let down teammates – 22%

66% of high school football players who didn’t report a concussion did so because they thought it wasn’t serious enough to be a concussion!

To me, its just amazing how we know so little about concussions. Needless to say there’s a need to educate athletes and their coaches and parents so that these injuries can be treated properly each time instead of once in a while when the symptoms appear severe/obvious enough.

For any of you that played contact sports (or still play), how would the number of concussions you’ve had change if you considered the ones that you thought weren’t serious enough?? I’d be interested to hear about that — a little impromtu poll — please share you estimate/story below!

CB

Hey guys, I’ve decided to push back the post on Chris Nowinski’s presentation to tomorrow since there was something I read while going through the blogs I normally read which Eric Cressey also mentioned in his presentation on baseball players.

Being in a proper strength & conditioning program keeps an athlete mobile as they gain size, strength, and power!

Being in a proper strength & conditioning program keeps an athlete mobile as they gain size, strength, and power!

What was it that changed my blogging plans??

The MYTH that strength training will “tighten an athlete up”!

Eric stated that this is one of the biggest battles a trainer will fight with a baseball player/coach, although this thinking isn’t obviously just limited to baseball players.

Now this doesn’t mean that strength training won’t tighten you up — if an athlete already has mobility deficits and lifting weights is the only intervention used, sure mobility/flexibility won’t be addressed. Especially if a uneducated beach muscle routine is used, the lack of flexibility and mobility will only be reinforced by the strength training program.

Here’s why its a myth that strength training will tighten an athlete (or anyone) up: A quality strength training program worth your money includes more than lifting weights! We work on mobility, flexibility, motor control/muscle activation, movement skills/agility/speed in addition to lifting weights! The result being that yes an athlete adds muscle mass and/or gets stronger and more powerful, but at the same time we make sure they can still move and play sports.

Often athletes who haven’t been to a gym like SST will have never done any sort of dedicated mobility work before, so they end up moving BETTER than when they came in on their first day.

If you now use mobility and flexibility drills in your training (athlete or not), did you notice a difference in how tight you felt after being on the program for a while vs. when you weren’t doing those things regularly?? — please leave your comments below

Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday!!

CB

So the weekend in Boston was GREAT!!!!!!!! Between the presentations, networking, and seeing how Coach Boyle’s gym functions, it was a very educational experience. As you might have guessed, it has given me a ton of blog content, and yesterday as I was busing back to Toronto from the Buffalo airport I had a lot of timeto think of what I would write about. Today all I’m going to do is a recap of the seminar presentations on Saturday and my impressions of the gym.

Presentation recap:

1. Brijesh Patel (Head S&C coach at Quinnipiac) – Strength & Conditioning for basketball

  • Basketball players are a different breed of athlete which presents unique challenges to creating an effective training program.
  • Mobility, stability, and work capacity are the initial priorities
  • Speed and agility – teach shin angles
  • At Quinnipiac, they don’t do cleans so that the players’ shoulders dont get beat up

2. John Pallof – femoracetabular impingement and sports hernia

  • John’s a physical therapist so his presentation was on the clinical side of assessing and training with FAI and sports hernia
  • FAI is a bony issue – training cant fix it
  • Sports hernia is a general term for high adductor/groin soft tissue issues
  • This was very educational in that I dont have much experience at all with the physical therapy side of things
  • This was good to see for me as a strength coach so that I know when to refer out to a PT, AT, chiro, etc

3. Chris Nowinski – Implications of concussions on the brain

  • Chris a former College football player and WWE wrestler discussed the impact of repeat concussions on brian/mental health.
  • This presentation was eye-opening!
  • The VAST majority of athletes don’t know the symptoms of concussions, therefore they are VASTLY under-estimated and under-reported.
  • This would be an invaluable talk for anyone coach, parent, or athlete to hear
  • I think it would be especially important for the young athlete and their parents

4. Mike Robertson – Rehabbing Back Pain

  • Mike is known as a corrective exercise guy, and for good reason — he has great systems in place to get someone from post-injury back to normal function
  • Core strength endurance is of primary importance for people immediately post-injury
  • Dont skip steps (this is something I’m at fault for)
  • More on the last point, I’ve had pieces from each of Mike’s 4 phases in the same phase of my program — not optimal!

5. Eric Cressey – Taking a baseball player from assessment to opening day

  • This was the talk I was waiting for!
  • Eric is insanely smart about the body let alone the shoulder…his level of knowledge is what I strive for.
  • Get a goniometer and use it to assess joint range of motion at the shoulders, knees, hips, and elbow and then compare the measurements from each side
  • With a baseball player, perfect symmetry isn’t possible

6. Mike Boyle – Training hockey players

  • This was both educational and entertaining as the first half hour, Mike was ranting on the state of youth training, the state of training for hockey in canada, the us, and europe, and how training doesn’t really change all that much for athletes in different sports
  • Not much to say about Mike’s presentation other than it seems like when he talks, I can magically learn by osmosis!
  • I learn as much about public speaking and presenting from Mike’s talks as I do about training.

So there’s my recap. I’m definitely going to go again next year, and hopefully be able to stop in and see some other facilities in the area (like Eric’s). I enjoyed meeting people there and beginning to do some face-to-face networking! Anyways thats all for today, over the course of the week, I’ll be blogging about my thoughts from each presentation in more depth.

Good to be back!

CB

Reading week is upon me

February 12, 2009

Tomorrow morning I leave for Boston for a strength & conditioning seminar held by Coach Mike Boyle at his facility. To say I’m excited is an understatement! This is the first seminar I’m attending so I can’t wait to meet other coaches and trainers that I’m read and heard about over the last 2 and a half years.

Also I know that when I get back I’ll have both a lot of good blog content plus some further motivation to take steps towards achieving my goals as a coach.

I’m also looking forward to the presentations being given as they will add something to the programs I make, and will make me a better trainer because of it.

Most of all though, I’m looking forward to the networking since its not everyday I’ll have the opportunity to talk shop with so many coaches, most of whom are doing fulltime what I’ve done for a couple of summers between school terms.

I’ll share my experience at the seminar/Boston next week. Until then, take it easy guys!!

CB

T-Nation is good for mroe than just quality nutritional information!

T-Nation is good for mroe than just quality nutritional information!

Today’s article on T-Nation (a website I regularly read for training info these days) was an installment of Dr. Johnny Bowden’s Question of Nutrition series. First of, I really enjoy his writing style since most of the time I can’t sit and read much nutrition stuff without dozing off.

(Link here for the full article: Johnny Bowden’s Question of Nutrition Vol. 6 )

Anyways in today’s article, he spent the first page addressing saturated fat and the facts and fallacies of the relationship between it and heart disease.

This was one of those “ah-ha” moments for me when I started reading T-Nation and began my internship with SST a couple of years ago: nutrition info from the “training community” compared to that which is spread through the media is like 2 separate nutritional worlds. This is why I’ve come to despise discussing nutrition with people who don’t train hard in the gym towards some goal (whether it be weight gain, improved sport performance, weight loss, etc).

Back to the saturated fat. Saturated fat is just generalized as a “bad fat”, the funny here is that no one really knows why that is though. Its kind of like the eggs are bad thing too (An earlier Bowden article looked at this). Naturally those that study this nutrition stuff for a living have their speculations, and since I’m commenting on Dr. Bowden’s article, I’ll let him speculate:

One reason that saturated fat has been demonized, in my opinion, is that much of the research on diet and disease has lumped saturated fat together with trans-fats. Trans-fats weren’t even a health issue until relatively recently, and for decades researchers didn’t distinguish between the two when doing studies of diet patterns.

Reason numero dos according to Dr. Bowden:

Another reason saturated fat has such a bad reputation is that much of the saturated fat people consume comes from really crummy sources. Fried foods are not a great way to get fat in your diet. Neither is processed deli meats nor hormone-treated beef. But the saturated fat from healthy animals — like grass-fed beef or lamb — or the saturated fat in organic butter or in egg yolks is a whole different story.

If you haven’t read Dr. Bowden’s article and you are curious about nutrition, giving his articles and those by Dr. John Berardi a read will be very educational. Both of these guys’ stuff can be found on T-Nation under “Authors” if you want to do a little more reading.