With a relatively low key long weekend, I’ve been able to catch up on all my blog readin’  (even finding some new stuff to read!!) So here’s a recap on what I found really interesting and of a high quality (I know, I know, objectivity at iots best!!)

1) Mike Reinold (if you havent heard of him) is a physical therapist and athletic trainer. Part of his work includes working with the Boston Red Sox. Anyways earlier this week, Mike began a new blog series on patellofemoral pain. If you are not a trainer or of a similar field to Mike AND/OR do not get giddy about anatomy, then his stuff may not be for you…however if you DO enjoy learning some anatomy, you can’t go wrong with Mike’s blog. What the series has looked at so far is why PF pain is so misunderstood when it is so common, and where is the pain really radiating from (and why).

Click the link (…if you dare…??) >>PF Pain and more!!!

As a trainer, I believe reading things from folks with this sort of background is a great addition to my knowledge and skill set in that it let’s me know about issues so that I can know when I have to refer out to someone else. Also if someone is post-rehab and I’m training them, I shouldn’t just be guessing about how to (hopefully) keep them out of rehab/from going back to it.

2) Adam Ringler is a masters student at Michigan State specializing in strength and conditioning while interning with their strength and conditioning department. I’ve recently started to converse with him, so upon checking out his website, I found not only a clean looking site, but also several great blog posts on the front page! His writing is very clear, concise, and that all important skill of making things seem simple without giving a “dumbed-down feeling”.

Check out Adam’s site HERE

So thats it from this weekend. Let me know if you’ve found Mike’s and Adam’s sites useful or interesting — and of course if you guys have been reading some good stuff which I havent mentioned, throw that down in the comments section below!!

If you have tomorrow off, ENJOY!!


Can I make this work as rugged and manly???

Can I make this work as "rugged and manly"???

Yup, another step into full-time workin’ adulthood and farther from my goin-back-to-school-every-September schoolboy(man) years. I’ve always written any articles and blogposts from home quite simply because a) there isn’t the likelihood of a client walking in that I have to coach and b) its quieter without the my-mother-didnt-love-me music playing in the background. What I’ve never really done is organized my writing ideas so what would happen is I would get an idea, and then lose it by the time I tried remembering it usually no more than half a day later, so I finally took the plunge and got one of those dry-erase boards.

Quite frankly my desk is always messy enough that writing the ideas on paper would have meant I would have forgotten the idea AND lost the paper, so for me the whiteboard makes a lot of sense since I’ll have my reminders in front of my face and easily accessible.

Now if anyone comments and calls me old…yup, you dont want to know what would happen!!

And on that note, HAPPY WEDNESDAY!!!


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!


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!


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!


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!


Bear with me for a moment and you’ll see what I mean:

In several posts I’ve made about my development as I strength coach, I’ve mentioned my interpersonal skills as an area that I am constantly working on so that I can be a successful coach and accomplish all of my professional goals. Just being better at opening up to people and developing relationships, that sorta thing.

Anyways this morning I was getting a haircut, and fortunately I got the “good barber” at the place in the mall. He’s actually my favourite guy there, and its not just because he gives good haircuts. Its because he talks to his customer. I’m not saying that to sound like I’m a lonely guy (I’m not, seriously!! :P), but I do enjoy talking to other people and hearing their stories.

What I take away from talking to my barber is that he asks some questions to get to know his customer: for me this was “are you in school or working?”, “oh your in school, do you go to Brock?”, and “so what are you taking at Brock?”

Basically from these questions, we started talked about weight training, which lead to a discussion on steroid use so taht was pretty cool. The thing I always pick up on is that he makes the effort to get to know something about you, like he wants to hear one of your stories too, and it just makes it a much more enjoyable time than sitting in a chair watching someone attack your thick wavy golden locks (lol) with some scissors.

When I interact with a salesperson or a employee of some business, and they don’t do this, it really stands out to me. I don’t want to do business with people that aren’t interested in their customers! Funny thing is, I see this with several trainers at the Brock gym, and thats where it really bothers me because if you’re a trainer, you’re in the people business! You better look and act like you like people!

And something I’ve always lived by is that the customer doesn’t care if you’re tired, having a bad day, etc…they might be having a bad day too, they always expect you to be at your best. Sometimes I would have to remind myself of this before training a group of athletes or a personal training client (since I am human after all :P), but I would always notice (especially with the groups of athletes) that once I started training them, I would forget about whatever was bothering me. Good times…

So moral of the story, if you’re in St Catharines, Ontario and you just so happen to need a haircut, go to the Barbers Chair in the Pen Centre and ask for Rick to cut your hair.
(Ah, word of mouth marketing at its finest!)

Happy Monday guys!!