School papers and presentations aren’t  that out of the ordinary for oh, since the last week of February, but training-wise, its been an interesting one!

First of all, my training has been more sporadic as of late due to the normal reasons at this time of the school year: fatigue from school, many late nights and early mornings working on assignmnets, and in line with that my sleep has been sh*t since turning the clocks ahead one hour! (Finally yesterday I woke up refreshed, so since yesterday I’ve felt so much better).

Anyways, this has meant that at most, I’ve been getting in 3 sessions a week at the gym, even though I have a 4-day per week program — I’ve just basically adapted it to a 4 sessions per 8-9 days during this time.

Monday was lower body day 1 and hang cleans. I attempted 140 for sets of 3 since the last time I did the workout, I smoked 135 for all 4 sets of 3. Long story short, 140 felt like a ton of bricks! So after 2 sets of struggling to get 3 reps, I dropped the weight down to 135, smoked that first set at 135, but struggled with the last one. I follow the cleans up with deadlifts and went up in weight for these, but keeping form definitely was more difficult this week.

On to yesterday, when I did my first upper body lift — which meant DB pressing — and I smoked 90lbs for 4 sets of 5 (plus one warmup set). Anyways this was a 10 lb increase from last week (b/c of 5 lb DB increases) and it felt really good and strong. It was just odd that my power was really affected by fatigue this week, and yet my strength was able to go up — even in the deads on Monday.

So thats been my training so far this week — how has yours been??


Also, just a quick note, I had one of my soccer training articles put up on the SST website today >> check it out HERE!


I like these tips of the week since I write more to give practical info than just ramble about some abstract thing that I’ve learned which I believe will make me a better coach and trainer!

So today’s tip…what the heck could I be implying?? Am I recommending doing your homework or reading while you warm-up?? You be happy to know, No!

My exceptionally bad humour aside, the title actually presents a legit point.

Think about when you’re done warming up and getting into your strength and power exercises, like most athletes (especially males) you want to lift as much weight as you can (at least using more weight over the previous week)! The thing is when we’re coaching a new lift or movement pattern that the athlete might not be skilled at yet, we run into a battle between the athlete wanting to lift more weight and the coach wanting the athlete to focus less on weight and more on technique. Here comes the learning in the warm-up idea, which is an idea I picked up from Coach Mike Boyle.

In a warm-up, no one cares about lifting a lot of weight, so let’s take advantage of that! If you’re just learning how to properly squat, deadlift, O-lift, any very technical lift really…try working on it in the warm-up so that you really can focus on technique without worrying about looking like a sissy since you won’t be in the squat rack!

Then once you have the basic technique down, we can move the lift into the actual strength or power portion of the training session and then worry about adding weight to the bar each week without worrying about compromising technique and safety.

This is also for all you non-athletes who get a case of The Ego in the gym when you’re just learning an exercise!

Have a great weekend everyone!


Today I’m going to try something new in terms of a themed blog post — if you guys like the idea, comment below and I’ll make it a weekly staple.

Remember, training for stability is only one component of the program — and only if an athlete needs it!

Today’s Tip of the Week: Use unstable surface training to improve stability

This sounds pretty common sense, however unstable surface training has kind of transformed to mean “functional training”. The emphasis switching from improving or rehabbing stability to the idea that performing exercises on these unstable objects will mean better transfer to daily activities and/or sport activities.

The truth is that when using thse objects (eg. a bosu ball), the stabilizer muscles work harder, but at the cost of less work by the main working muscles. An example is doing standing shoulder presses on normal ground vs. on a bosu ball. This means that the main muscles aren’t working as hard which means less strength gain compained to stable surface training.

That being said, there is a good use for unstable surfaces in training for improved athletic performance. However this is more of a post-rehab injury prevention context. Basically if someone has poor ankle stability, performing some lower body exercises on the unstable implement will be beneficial in improving stabilizer function — not general leg strength though!

You know, just in case the sport will be start to be played on the surface of a basketball!!

You know, just in case the sport will be start to be played on the surface of a basketball!!

Bottom line: don’t fall into the trap of thinking that using unstable surfaces will lead to better training benefits than training on stable ground. Like any other training method or tool, there is a time and place for them in the program, however they should not be the backbone of the program.

Anyways thats all for today’s 2nd post! Let me know if you like this tip of the week idea. I’m hoping to make it more of a practical tip since I often write about ideas without giving much practical information that you can use.

Have a good weekend everyone!


Hey guys, here’s the first of 2 posts for today (first time for 2-a-day posting on my blog I think)

Anyways there have been some exciting things going on at SST lately (the gym I worked at the last 2 summers)!!

A few weeks ago they were named one of the top 15 speed training facilities in North America!!

Also they have opened up registration to their first-ever FAST Certification program!! If you or anyone you know are/would be interested in this opportunity please click the link below which takes you to the SST website, where there is a page with all the details for this program!

>>FAST Certification Info <<

In case you’re wondering, FAST is short for Functional Applied Speed Training, so in essence in the certification, participants will be taught the SST system for creating fast athletes!

I’m also coping the promo email for you below:










Again here’s the link to the website:

>> FAST Certification Info <<

If you know of other trainers who might be interested in this opportunity, please feel free to pass this information on to them!

New week, new blog post

March 9, 2009

picture courtesy of Canadian Press

picture courtesy of Canadian Press

Since we have such a creative title for today’s post, here’s another random list of whats been going through my head over the weekend:

1. The World Baseball Classic started again over the weekend (I love baseball, I just don’t get the point of this thing or the timing of it). Canada and the US faced off in what is becoming a very good rivalry. In the end, the US squeaked out a 6-5 win, however as anyone who saw the game will tell you, it was a very exciting game with a playoff atmosphere. Since I love playing baseball, watching it can bore me pretty easily, however this game really was THAT exciting…we don’t get many Jays games that are that exciting anymore :(

Another cool thing was Canada’s big hitter that game was Joey Votto of the Reds, a guy I played against in my early high school years (he was a few years older than me). Even back then I remember everyone — my coaches and my older teammates talking about how well he could hit! Its nice to see an Etobicoke boy makin his mark!

2. The Pallof Press. If you haven’t tried it, try it! I was skeptical about how much I would feel it working my core, but I gave in on Thursday and now I’m kicking myself since I haven’t tried it sooner. It appears to be a great exercise to bridge the gap between more advanced side planks and plank variations. More on this after I’ve used it for long enough to notice an effect.

These videos were made by Kevin Larrabee, host of the Fitcast, and the guys at CP. If you want/need more great exercise demos check them out on the Fitcast Youtube channel (free promotions for ya Kevin! If only I had 50,000 readers maybe I’d have some bargaining power to get something out of it :P) In all seriousness they have great video quality and Kevin has gone through and added the coaching cues so you know what to be aware of

3. Started plyos in my program last week. I’m not sure if I mentioned that in a post last week, but it adds another dimension of this performance-based training that I’ve been trying out since December. Starting to really use and learn how to program things like plyos, med ball throws, and the olympic lifts has lead to a lot of trial-and-error, so come next off-season I feel that I’ll be much better off with a lot of the basic experimentation out of the way.

4. Yesterday night I was reviewing and giving feedback on a training program for a figure skater (practicing some program design for SST), and after about an hour I had over 2 singles spaced pages typed up…why can’t writing my school assignments flow that easily?

5. Got an upper body session today. This is something I’m strongly considering changing since I would rather a young athlete lift lower body before upper body every week…gotta walk the talk!

Alright guys thats it for today!


A couple days ago I wrote about a conversation which lead to me re-thinking my training philosophy as it applied to lower body training — specifically the use of lunges. This has actually been happening quite a bit since I’ve come back from Mike Boyle’s Winter Seminar. Its not so much that I’m thinking that a lot of my beliefs about training are wrong, its more of a case of whats my real reason for using something.

I spend quite a bit of time reading training articles each day (aside from things I need to read for school), and as such, if some coach who had experience and results to show suggested something I was willing to try it. What I’ve come to realize mroe lately is that when people ask me about a certain part of my programming, I don’t say “well because Coach A suggested it”, but my explanations still were a little incomplete. In trying to justify my philosophy, I realized that I had to justify it better…which has meant that I’ve gone back to really find otu why do I beleive something works.

One of these things was the use of the olympic lifts in training athletes. I didn’t use them before my Christmas break, but since then I’ve become pretty enamoured with them. They couldn’t do any wrong! However in writing a couple papers right this month on the topic, I’ve been forced to really take an objective look at their use, which has made me start to realize how this whole training for power should fit together.

Re-examining the role of olympic lifting in my training philosophy, I’ve realized that since December, I’ve viewed the lfits as an end to themselves: “they are the best way to build power, so getting good at them is a high priority”. The last week or so, I’ve started realizing that like any other exercise, they are a means to an end (better athletic performance) and that they are just a piece of the process in developing power. With med balls and plyometrics, I’ve started to view all these as ingredients in the same recipe vs. eahc one being their own one-ingredient recipe.

Now I understand this post is fairly abstract especially if you don’t coach/train people, however it is simply something I’ve started to realize lately — which ironically was inspired by a conversation I had with a professor here at Brock. I say that since often times, I may write about how I can’t believe university profs still teach us outdated methods. This conversation has ended up probably being of one of the most beneficial I’ve had here in the last 4 years. It really made me think about questioning things on a deeper level. 

Enough abractness for today, talk to you guys tomorrow!


Punishment by running

March 4, 2009

Here’s something that piqued my interest while I was reading a newsletter from youth training expert Brain Grasso. It was an interview with another training expert, Juan Carlos Santana done a few years ago. Brian essentially asked how him how he focuses his training to develop different variables (agility, flexibility, etc). JC answered:

Develop a love for movement and training (new born-middle school). NEVER PUNISH WITH EXERCISE!!!! Movement and training is a privilege. How can an athlete learn this if you use training (e.g. running) as a punishment? If you need to discipline, don’t let them participate.

I couldn’t agree more!

This punishment = running trick is old news in competitive sports, however its also prevalent in my training facilities. The coach gets frustrated why the athletes aren’t performing the drill or exercise the right way at the proper speed, so it appears the athlete is not making an effort. Or a coach is in the middle of a long-winded explanation and the athletes yawn or tune out and the coach gets mad. In both these cases, the form of punishment is usually running (“until I say stop”).

Yup, sounds like a great way to have the athlete just begging their mom and dad to bring them back to the gym so they can train!

Does this mean that I don’t believe we should discipline our athletes when they deserve it? Of course not, just that I don’t want to build an association of exercise = punishment (bad) in that young athletes brain. To add one last thing, the less “naturally athletic” the athlete, I think this line becomes a lot easier to cross.

I’d love to hear your stories about any experiences similar to this and whether it impacted how you viewed exercise/training!

Enjoy the rest of the day!