So here’s a quick glimpse into my training right now. With my schedule filling up between the 2 (now 3 jobs), its doesn’t leave much time to train, nor much mental energy after a full day of training (when I wasn’t as busy I was training anywhere around 9-11 at night).


Foam roll, stretch, activation, dynamic warmup, (core training is fitting its way in here for the sole reason that after the complex at the end, I don’t feel like doing sh*t!)


Med Ball throw variation (done solo with no other pairing)

Strength superset: lower than upper (lower tends to be unilateral b/c of my history of back pain, and the upper body right now is 2 days of dumbbell bench and one day low rep chinups)


Metabolic complex: 2-3 times through (Day 1: BB complex, Day 2: Bilateral DB Complex, Day 3: Unilateral DB Complex)

5-6 exercises same weight, no rest:

explosive (hang clean, snatch, or swing)

upper push

lower (bilateral or unilateral depending on day)


upper pull/arms

lower (unilateral)

My total training time is around 45 mins-1 hr per session — basically a “hit em hard, go home” style.

This was one of the newer aspects of programming in Coach Boyle’s Functional Strength Coach 3, and I liked the substance for sure, but the logistics of circuits with personal training clients didn’t sit well with me. Being that I’ve been doing mostly in-home personal training for the past 10 or 11 months, the time required for set up, explanations/demonstrations of each of 10 stations, as well as correcting form on the fly with more than one client usually – this just seemed to be one of those great ideas, but not for my situation.

But I am re-visiting the idea. Here’s why:

Since I picked up the job training at one of the Y’s in the city, I have access to an actual gym, which means space. I don’t have to worry about taking up half a condo gym just for a circuit in this case.

One of my clients also mentioned that they wanted less time warming up so that I could stretch her out at the end (…another post…). The key is I had to find a way to shorten the warm-up while not negatively effecting the quality of it. This is a biggie. As a slight tangent, I know sometimes I do not think enough about redundancy in the warm-up so this was another reminder for me about spending some time re-visiting these.

Here’s another big thing that experience seems to remind me about: I don’t have to follow Coach Boyle’s circuit method only “as is”. Speaking respectfully, he is using something that works for him. He doesn’t know about my situation, so it’s my job as a professional and customer to take the big picture of what he’s saying and make it applicable to my situation. The modification I’ve been thinking and tinkering with have been shorter circuits.

Now I have to just figure out how to do isometric holds the way I would like them do within a given time constraint.

A couple more things I may need to look at:

  • A Gymboss or Workout Muse-type time management system – I hate that I always lose track of time because I’m too busy being a coach to my clients. Its surely my fault for not getting one of these systems sooner.
  • I should really look at getting a flipcam.  I’d enjoy making video posts more while also being able to show what I do versus just writing about it. Bret Contreras’s blog post today reminded me of this.

Lately more and more people have been chiming on training breathing — which is great! As a young trainer, I really enjoy and value all the differing perspectives on this topic as it helps me sift through the information and get an idea of what the experts are doing with it. That said, it is an area I want to read more about myself to better understand why it is becoming an area of focus for trainers.

My favourite point I’ve heard so far is Charlie Weingroff’s stance on training reflexive stability of the core. Though it wasn’t specifically about breathing, he made a wonderful distinction between corrective exercise for the core and conditioning the core.

This painted a very clear picture for me — along with the all-to-common “its so common sense, how didn’t I think of that?!”

Let me state that prior to hearing this, I was very skeptical about the practical application of the proper breathing information. I was not keen on using 5 minutes of my time to have a client lay on their back and breathe…just breathe. I also just felt that something like that is out of my scope — I thought that breaking it down this much was for a rehab professional.

But Charlie’s thoughts were perfectly succinct. I realized I had been training core stability with a high threshold strategy — which excludes the element of timing which is so central to spinal stability. I realized this wasn’t necessarily right nor wrong, just that depending on the client’s level of “fitness” and the exercise, I had to train more than just a single stabilizing strategy. Then the realization that training breathing while training a simple core demand hit me. So simple.

This includes things like planks, side planks, anti-rotation presses, chops, lifts, etc. When we get to the big stuff like bench pressing, split squats or any other “conditioning” exercise, that is where the high threshold strategy stuff has gone — basically the whole bracing approach. I’ll admit though that even this is very grey (gray?) to me as over-bracing isn’t optimal either.

A couple things I want to pass on today:

I’ve been reading Eric’s stuff ever since I caught the “personal training”/”info junkie” bug about half way through my personal training course at the YMCA in 2006. Because of his knowledge and having achieved so much at a young age, I’ve always viewed him as a mentor in that respect.

Anyways last week, Eric let the cat of the bag on his new product (Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better) which will be released on September 21st. Yesterday he released the first video clip from his product. Its 7 minutes of info most everyone could use prior to a squatting session. There are also some variations I haven’t seen of the drills, so it got my mind working too – my clients always enjoy me talking like this….

Without further ado, check it out HERE!!

Also, take a look at this blog post from Tony Gentilcore who coincidentally enough, is one of the other big dogs at Cressey Performance. He discussed the difference in swing technique – a “hip snap” swing vs. a “squat” swing.

In all honesty, this was a mistake I was making with it until I returned from Providence, and since then I’ve had to re-visit the pattern with my clients to clean it up. It has also lead to some adjustment in my progressions and how I train a proper hip hinge pattern, which to me is a big positive. Also, one of my clients mentioned this last night, so I think it bears repeating – For the guys out there, do NOT be afraid of hitting your “special area” with the dumbbell! Think more of the wrist being drawn down to that area.

That’s it for today! Check out those links and Tony’s special blend of information and entertainment on his blog!

Closed chain leg curls have been largely seen as an advancement from the machine based open chain version (lying, seating, standing). The reason being that in activities of daily living and/or athletic performance, the hamstrings concurrently perform both knee flexion and hip extension. The machines on the other hand only train the knee flexion component (although an argument could be made for the standing version, but I don’t think it’s a superior option in any sense).

So equipment pieces like stability balls and Valslides have become popular to train this movement.

I think Valslides and slideboards are the gold standard for the performance of this exercise based on the demand they place on the involved tissues, but not everyone has access to them.

Stability balls just by keeping the body higher in the air are often easier yet also more practical for the majority of gym goers – especially in commercial type settings. But even with a simple stability ball, modifications often have to be made to those just getting into functional training (and away from the bodybuilding-inspired approaches).

We can do eccentrics just like with the Valslides and slideboard. Just get the hips up, and slowly roll the ball out for 5 seconds, then drop the hips to the floor and bring the ball back to the butt. If this is too tough try 3 seconds…or just do hip extensions on the ball. Better yet in this case, master hip extensions off the ball first.

Doing the whole movement with the hips low is essentially demonstrates a lack of hip extension strength, and thus the effectiveness of the exercise is lost. Often these regressions just aren’t common sense and/or they are assumed to be “too easy/sissy”, but your body will always tell you where your current level of functional fitness is, and its our job to pay attention to it rather than dismiss it in denial.

Anyways, I write this because there was a young woman at the gym performing these who needed to begin with a modified variation of the stability ball version. It was extremely refreshing to see someone utilize smart training methods in that setting, and she had a great attitude when I offered up the tip. Maybe there is some hope after all.

Here’s a visual representation of the “start” position:

Not like this.

Like this.

Today I had my second stretching session as per the Stretch to Win protocol created by Ann & Chris Frederick.

First, I will say it is very effective for increasing range of motion. Posture and movement both felt better afterwards. Before getting through all 5 lower body modules, my low back was no longer rounding at parallel during a squat, and I was able to perform a much better hip hinge while testing out a 1-leg straight-leg deadlift pattern. I also felt my trigger points along both iliac crests scream like crazy!!

This is definitely an area I’m interested to see where the new knowledge will take us. With an hour of time with my clients, I need to do something to address tissue length, and I am interested to see how effective can we get in a very limited time. What I like about the Stretch to Win system is how it specifies that it is about stretching fascia as opposed to muscles. Many of their other S2W sentiments also echo the suggestions Thom Myers made at the seminar in Providence this past June.

My reservations are with a shotgun approach. How is a shotgun approach considered progressive? I have no doubt that some of it can help , but I would always like to see an assessment before attempting to affect mobility. How else do you know what actually needs stretching?

One particular “screen” during one of the modules is to take the lower back into a flexed position. What reason does this serve in a personal training situation? With everyone’s knowledge of sit-ups, hanging leg raises, etc and their lack of knowledge of core stability, I’m not convinced it NEEDS to be checked. Does going after core stability ever present a concern? I’m doubtful again.

Overall it seems like an effective, but time-consuming protocol. I think the next step will be to take from it what needs to be used to garner the desired result (increased range of motion and therefore, better movement/reduced injury risk), while cutting away any excess which is not helping to achieve the desired result.

Just to finish off, I also dislike the fact that you need another person to administer the stretches; do we need better self-stretches? Can PNF be modified for self-stretching? There also seems to be a lack of thought given to the short vs stiff classification…. (Although perhaps its just covered as a separate workshop/certification…hmmm)

Lots of food for thought, and for the most part it’s tasty.

Same blog, new direction

September 9, 2010

I’ve been mulling this over for the past little while:

Do I start this blog up again, do I get a new one, does it only need a new name, new look, different url, do I need to think more about branding, do I have enough unique information to blog again…

And in thinking up how I was going to start this new direction, I ended up reaming off a reflection type piece similar to what was done before. Ironic no?

Now I may have aspects of the above things as I turn the leaf over on this bad boy, but the main difference is simply providing more thought on how I’m piecing together the training information I’m learning and how things I’m learning are leading to results for my clients.

Maybe this isn’t a huge redirection from some of my past posts, but I’m thinking of it as a new beginning just based on the fact that I’ve let this thing slide for the past year or so. So here’s to an honest effort and a fresh start!