I hope everyonehas a great weekend! Here’s is part 4 of my updates which I started posting about last week.

4. Manly title eh?! (That’s why I get paid the big bucks btw) In talking with a couple of my new clients, they’ve mentioned that they are pleasantly surprised that they get a challenging workout in without much equipment or fancy exercises. To me this is music to my ears. Plain and simple I don’t think many people need to worry about advanced set/rep schemes, exercises, or excessive volume. Taking that a step further, I think people EARN the more advanced stuff. If you’ve been training for some time, and have made considerable progress feel free to play around with some more advanced methods, but don’t apply for graduation when you’re in first year.

The basics have worked for a long time, and though they aren’t all better than more recent innovations, many are. I for one love simplicity. In terms of exercise: push, pull, and do something for legs and core. Simple. (Coach Boyle credits Mrs. Patrick Ward with saying that, and though I’ve never met her, smart smart lady). Even though its a very simple take on program design, some good effort will yield excellent results.  I believe Dan John, a noted high school strength coach in the States, said that the oldest form of fitness is picking something off the ground and lifting it up overhead. Simple and basic…and effective. The basics may be considered “old-fashioned”, but if they work, they work.

That’s the end of my updates series, so you all can breathe a sigh of relief HA!


Since I’ve been AWOL on this blog lately, I’ll keep it to a “random thoughts” type of post since quite a few things have been going on. Hopefully this will also kick my ass a little so that I keep up a little more regular presence here.

1. Regarding the new job, I’m in my 3rd week of duty, and so far so good. Hmmm what have I learned??? I’ve learned that personal training has been enjoyable, in fact the way I see it, each session I have the ability to work on my coaching the same way I would if I was working with athletes. Sure some training goals and focuses might be different, but its still an interpersonal service at the end of the day.

More about my new job?? I’ve realized I need to develop a system of training. I knew this already, but now that I have to create my own to get results, it is something I need to do. Now I don’t mean that I’m going to develop my system of training over the next month or so and never touch it again; what I mean is that I hate playing “exercise selection roulette” when  designing programs. How will you know something works/doesn’t work if you never program things the same way twice? A sample size of one doesn’t allow for much confidence in the results. This past Saturday I took my first step and starting typing things out on my computer. What I found was something that is a lot more difficult than it seems, and that as a result it could take more time than anticipated.

Still want more?? One thing I’ve found is that my clients don’t want to just rest for x amount of time because they aren’t that fatigued. Keep in mind my clients haven’t worked out for varying lengths of time, so I’m starting with the basics. That said, I think intensity (referring to weight lifted) has a lot to do with fatigue. Anyways, this has meant my problem is that I want my clients to rest and not rush through a program, while my clients don’t feel the need to rest and not rush through the program. Hmmm, a toughie!! Fillers to the rescue!! My solution was to make use of rest time so that I get the clients to actually give their muscle groups some rest between tri-sets. This was accomplished by attacking either mobility or flexibility for 30-60 seconds then continuing along. So far, the clients feel like they are doing something during the rest and therefore enjoying that they are not paying me to standing around for a percentage of the hour. Win-win in my opinion.

Until the next rainy day,


Something I’ve learned from Pat at our gym is to always try new things, because just reading or thinking something does proove whether it’ll work or not with a specific group of clients. It isn’t that I’m scared of trying new things or scared of change, its just that Pat pushes these boundaries considerably more than I do which is something I admire and learn from.

Of course there is one main criterion for the exercises moving from the planning phase to the testing phase which is: does it impose an inherent danger to our clients? (Obviously the answer needs to be “no”)

From there we move to testing it out on ouselves which I find fun because I’m learning a new exercise but also about how the body works…weird, I know…

Anyways, the unfortunate thing about testing involving us two is that its a very small sample size as well as testing it once doesn’t give us the ability to really assess the exercise’s effectiveness since we aren’t considering possible progression in terms of the exercise performance. So pretty much I end up saying that if the exercise isn’t dangerous, let’s try it out with our clients. This is where the real fun begins as we can find out what technique cues need to be stressed with athletes of different skill levels/training age, where do athetes feel the movement (is it different from where we felt it, does this mean the exercise is too advanced, etc), how difficult/time consuming is it to teach, do our athletes see the purpose of the exercise (after explanation if they choose to ask of course), does it work better than other exercises we’ve used for the same purpose, etc.

Depending on whether the exercise is tested in the warm-up or during the main strength training portion of the training session, we can see some patterns in these areas after a certain time period and then evaluate the usefulness of the exercise for inclusion in the program. A sort of graduation for the exercise if you will.

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!


This week has been light for blogging, but here’s a post for today!!

A lot of things can go on outside of the gym to compromise results!

A lot of things can go on outside of the gym to compromise results!

Once you go home from the gym for the day, life can get in the way of results. Specifically geared towards training athletes, we can see two distinct issues, although the first one can be generalizable to any population.

1. The 23-to-1 Rule.
The norm is that we get athletes in the gym for between 1-2 hours a day 4 days a week, which brings up an interesting issue: they have a ton of time to compromise the efforts in the gym! To say it a little differently, we can have them work on core stability, moving at their hips instead of the lower backs, teach them proper running mechanics, etc, then with all the time they are out of the gym there are many opportunities to take steps backwards.

This is basically called the 23-to-1 Rule. The gist of the rule is that we can help an athlete out 1 hour per day, but they have 23 hours of the day to practice bad habits (eg. sitting for long periods of time).

Needless to say its fairly evident how reforming habits becomes a sort of uphill battle, which means that it can have an impact on how quickly or how well an athlete sees the adaptations that we are trying to get.

2. Another big issue is fatigue.
When the body gets fatigued, movement gets sloppy. This isn’t a huge concern in the gym unless someones doing 50 rep squats or the like, but on the sports field/court/ice this is a concern. This is part of the objective behind conditioning. An example here is that once an athlete can perform fundamental agility skills properly (deceleration, acceleration, change of direction) we need to train the athlete to be able to perform these skills properly when they are tired (ie. in the fourth quarter). Failure to do so results in the increased risk of injury, which when combined with other factors (such as being a female athlete) doesn’t paint a very rosy picture.

Type foruth quarter injuries into a google search...not pretty!!

Type "fourth quarter injuries" into a google search...not pretty!!

The thing to be aware of is that we can fix a lot of things in the gym, but there’s still many opportunities to jeopardize all that effort once you leave.

As a strength coach, I have to plan for these things to make an effective program, so that progress is continually made and that injury risk is actually reduced.

Good to be back!!


A couple days ago strength coach Mike Boyle posted an article on his website (www.strengthcoach.com) basically summarizing his approach to program design. Out of everything in the article, one factor he wrote about really caught my attention as between the articles on strengthcoach.com and from any of the guys at Cressey Performance I’ve seen it quite a bit lately. The factor: work density.

The reason this is an important factor is because as strength coaches/trainers, we have quite a list of things we need to get done with a client or athlete to maximize results, and unfortunately, a very limited amount of time per week to address everything. The solution becomes we simply need to make better use of our time; instead of standing around between sets, put in a core or mobility exercise, for example.

Now this post isn’t simply about me regurgitating what I have read/learned. Why this factor stuck out to me was not because of the actual content (although I did learn from it). It stuck out to me because I know I could do better in this aspect — a lot better. In the summer at SST, my workouts consumed about 50 minutes from warmup to cool down. Since I’ve been back at the school gym here, my workouts have gone to about an hour and a half minimum. Being a commercial type gym, it makes it difficult to superset exercises if I need equipment, especially if its across the room, but even still, this article made me realize that even with supersetting, there was more I could do with my time. Which in the end would mean that I could get more done per given length of time. Win-Win.

So needless to say, I will be thinking about my program design as it is now, and see how I can use my time in the gym as productively as I can, while not impairing the effectiveness of the session.

Since this has made me re-think my time management as it relates to program design, I pose the same question to you: If you don’t have much time to train, are you still getting in everything you need to get great results??

Happy Wednesday!!