Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Let's talk PRODUCTS!

I don't want my blogs to start looking like massive advertisements for my favorite products but since it's MY BLOG I guess I'll plug a couple of things today.

The first is what I think is one of the best nutrition plans I have ever seen, The Naked Nutrition Guide developed by Mike Roussell who is pursuing his doctorate in nutrition at Penn State University. Mike has put together one of the simplest, easy to understand eating plans around. Whether you are trying to lose fat, get in shape, or get jacked, you will get there using his eating plans (and my training programs of course!) ; - ). Mike is one sharp guy who also wrote the nutrition chapter to my upcoming book Men's Health Power Training due out this summer. Anyway, check it out....if you're serious about making some physical changes, GET IT!

The second product is one that I guarantee you'll fall in love with. It is the Bonkbreaker energy bar created by one of my ex-athletes Jason Winn. Jason is an avid triathlete who's quest for the perfect energy bar has resulted in this MASTERPIECE! I think this is the best tasting energy bar ever created (and everyone who has tasted it agrees!). If you order a box now, you'll receive a free water bottle (see his site). Oh, and The Bonkbreaker Peanut Butter & Jelly Bar recently won the a 2006 "Best Of" award from Competitor Magazine (no small feat for a small independent company!). Yummy!!!

Am I taking Crazy Pills?!?!

Okay, I know that I mentioned in an earlier blog post that there is some pretty questionable stuff going on in conditioning programs across the U.S. I just had to post a few of the things that I had heard about in the past few days. Let's just call these "Things that made me go HUH?!"

  1. High Rep Olympic lifting - This came from a friend of mine who is an asst. at a high profile college program (no, I'm not going to say where...). The new head strength coach over there has the athletes doing "Hypertrophy sets" of Olympic lifts like cleans and snatches. First off, the purpose of the Olympic lifts IS NOT hypertrophy! Sure, you can get hypertrophy in certain bodyparts from training with them but, in general, the primary purpose is the development of explosive power . Doing 3 sets of 10-12 reps on power cleans are not only counter-productive to your power development, it is flat-out dangerous simply due to the fact that these are technical lifts.

  2. Telling your softball athletes to go run 3.5 miles - I saw this in the programming of a big-time school on the east coast. 2, 3, and 3.5 mile runs interspersed with 45 min. steady state jogs as part of their 'conditioning'. First off, softball is an explosive sport thus making its athletes EXPLOSIVE in nature. What do you get when you tell an explosive, short burst athlete to run 3.5 miles? Well, I like to call it 'the survival shuffle'....we've all seen it, the painful, nearly walking pace, survival inspired thing these athletes call 'jogging'. On top of this, it does nothing for their performance and/or their conditioning for the sport's demands. The first thing that came to mind when I imagined MY softball athletes 'running' 3.5 miles? GOOD ONE!

  3. Spending 2 hours in the weightroom - Saw this one at another pretty darn big and SUCCESSFUL volleyball program in the midwest. I have to say it again, if you are spending 2 hours in a weightroom one of the following things is happening: a) you are performing a ton of sets of useless, single-joint exercises or b) You are training only the essential 'important' lifts but are taking naps between your sets/exercises. This particular program I read fell into 'a'.....tons of sets of just about every single exercise you could think of (including two types of calf raises, ugh.). Get in and out of the weightroom folks... Quality-Quality-Quality!

  4. Training primarily linear speed with football players with little to no change of direction - Okay, this is the same program that I talk about in #1. It baffles me that a sport that is about 2% linear and 98% chaotic in nature gives so much attention to teaching and improving how these athletes run STRAIGHT. I will admit that I train linear speed more than 2% of the time with my kids....I would say it's closer to 5-10%. I estimate that we will go out and train linear speed once every 10-20 speed sessions. The next time I hear another football coach say "I'm gonna send Jimmy to the track coach so that he gets faster for next season" I may go postal.

Alright, I guess this was more of a rant than a blog...hmmm, I guess that's what blogs are for though right?!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dysfunctional Training

So I am sure that we are all completely sick of the term 'functional training' right? I know I am...we are talking about the most overused and abused term in conditioning today. I remember someone saying to me, "hmm, if I'm not actually doing this so-called functional training, does this mean that I am perhaps doing dysfunctional training?!". The bottom line is that if your training isn't leading you toward your goals whether it be fat loss or performance enhancement, your training is far from functional.

I think the thing that turns people off is the image of the guy doing squats on top of a Swiss Ball or doing 10lb. dumbbell shoulder presses while standing on one leg atop a dynadisc. This IS NOT functional training folks (well maybe if you're in the circus). I remember Mike Boyle telling me that he regrets using the cover photo on his book Functional Training for Sports as it forever associated his programs with unstable-style training. If you read the book, however, you'll see that Mike's programs are about as sound as you can get and includes very few unstable exercises. In fact, I will say that Mike's athletes push bigger weights than just about anybody's (especially his females!).The bottom line is that there is a place for many different things in a comprehensive training program. I often use unstable exercises...does that make me a 'functional training guy'? I guess I am....the main function of my job is to build better athletes so my training programs must be somewhat functional right?! Oh and we lift BIG weights folks....just not on top of Bosus like my man at the top of the post.

Got some great new products now listed on my's coming along!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Entering murky waters...

Ever get the feeling that you've just been thrown into a shark tank?! Well, My buddy Alwyn Cosgrove interviewed me for a t-nation article and it is now posted. If you aren't familiar, t-nation is a website that is full of fanatical bodybuilders and lifters etc. The site had grown a reputation of having some brutal visitor responses to many of the articles. The responses would normally get very heated when someone 'unfamiliar' wrote an article (gulp...). Anyway, since mine is an interview and not an article....and having Alwyn (who is a God over there) write it, the folks over there might be a bit kinder than normal. Here's keeping the fingers crossed!
Anyway folks, keep checking in on my website @ as I will continue to add articles and will be getting my personalized services and products page up and going along with our discussion board (already going!). Hope everyone had a fun and safe Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A day at the Health Club....

First off, NO that's not the health Club I'm talking about, that's my weightroom at my college. I know what you were thinking...."What type of health Club has PLATFORMS?!). Okay, so I have a great facility at my college where I train our athletes but I actually like to get away from that place once in a while and actually train in nice, plush, high-end health club. I just throw on my Ipod and go back to my little corner and use the squat rack (it's the thing most of the members think is a curling rack...) to perform my Olympic lifts etc. Anyway, during my workouts I get to observe members and trainers as they go about their workouts. I wrote an article on my website called "10 Things I see People doing WRONG in the gym". I won't post the entire thing here on my blog but I will share a couple of the things I see....

#4 – “Scared to use ‘athletic’ exercises during training’

There’s a reason athletes look the way they do folks…it’s their training. Effective, functional training will result in great results in less time. The Olympic lifts such as the snatch and the clean and jerk can be used to improve overall fitness, promote flexibility and balance, improve strength and power and much more. Don’t be scared of the technical aspects of these types of lifts as there are VERY simple variations such as clean pulls, jump shrugs, and push presses. Try some, you will not be disappointed!

How about this one....

#2 – “Isolation Exercises”

Okay, pet peeve #3, the overweight guy or gal who spends all their time doing bicep curls and calf raises. Guess what guys, there’s not a whole lot going on in your body when you do these types of exercises……even if you are standing on a balance board when performing your isolation bicep curls! Compound lifts such as squats, presses, rows, lunges etc. are the way to go as they are far superior for not only burning calories and increasing fitness, they are also better at getting you stronger! These type so of exercises are functional in nature….this simply means that they allow our bodies and muscles to get stronger in the exact same fashion that they will have to work in real, everyday life.

Head over to my website @ to read the entire article.....I'm sure some of the things I talk about will be quite familiar to many of you. BTW, This article is included in the Liftstrong project that my good friend Alwyn Cosgrove put together along with TONS of unbelievable articles by some of the best minds in strength and conditioning today. Visit and pick up your's for a tremendous cause folks.

Friday, May 25, 2007


It never ceases to amaze me sometimes when I talk to sport coaches about how they condition their athletes and hear they types running they do to 'get them in shape'. First of all, I understand that many sport coaches don't have the luxury of having a strength and conditioning coach on their staff to take care of this sort of thing (and many are VERY old school in their habits)....this is why it is so important to have resources such as my website to help guide them.

I speak regularly at the Amateur Athletic Foundation (AAF) volleyball clinics on specific conditioning topics for the sport. No matter what the topic is, whether it's medicine ball training, plyometrics etc. I ALWAYS make a point to bring up running conditioning. One of the more common comments that I hear when talking about running conditioning is the fact that the one-mile test is often used as a 'test' for the volleyball athletes. I don't want to get into a whole lesson on energy system training but I did post an article on soccer-specific energy system training on my website that gives more detailed info.

Anyway, when you think about the sport of volleyball, the average play lasts about 6 seconds and the average rest time between plays is approximately 14 seconds. Now this is all out effort for 6 sec. and a VERY short rest need to be training for this type of energy system demands. Jogging a mile won't do a thing for these athletes! By using high intensity intervals during training (things like 15-20 second line drills, 5-10 second agility drills, short less than 5sec.bursts etc.)
Moral of the story? Don't make JOGGERSout of your JUMPERS!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Getting Bigger, Stronger, and Faster...WITHOUT adequate nutrients or rest?!

Okay, so I have just completed our spring testing with all of our athletic teams and, as usual, we see huge improvements in just about every body's lifts, vertical jumps, speed, agility, body comps etc. Hell, these are 18-21 year-old kids.....they are in the prime of their lives..they SHOULD improve if they are training right?? Well, if you saw the sleep, eating, and partying habits of most of these student-athletes you might change this assumption. With all of the talk we hear of nutrient timing, supplementation, active recovery techniques for optimal results etc. you would think that my athletes are doomed regardless of training.

Well, folks I beg to differ as I have seen this year after year after year. I will be the first to say that at the highest levels of competition (professional, Olympic etc.) little tweaks in nutrition, the addition of massage therapy, active rest techniques etc. can probably result in some change in performance. With my kids, however, I think the training trumps everything. Sure, they might be able to see MORE improvements if they eat adequate calories, get more sleep or spend more time on the foam rollers but in general, they get strong, fast, and JACKED on top ramen, mac and cheese, kool aid (with lots of sugar) and x-box till 4am only to have to get up for an 8 o'clock class. How and why do they still get stronger, faster, and gain lean body mass? (especially with all the 'experts' telling us they SHOULDN'T).

Well, I have always said the the human body is extremely resilient and can take a lot more than most people give it credit. We train HARD and we stress building WORK CAPACITY. We will push the envelop but will also pull-back our intensity when it is warranted....and it WORKS. If you want to read more about work capacity or get Personalized Training Programs, visit .

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Those Damn Hungarians....Scots....Vegans!

Okay, so just about everyone has heard of the vegan parents who were responsible for the death of their 6 week old infant. The baby was a mere 3 1/2lbs. at the time of death and died of starvation. The parents were found guilty of malice murder, felony muder, and first degree child cruelty. These (the charges) are a no-brainer folks but the focus of the trial became the fact that the parents were raising their child as a vegan. The parents fed the child only soy milk and apple juice, and apparantly not enough of either. Uhh, am I taking crazy pills here folks? The reason for this child's death was had nothing to do with the fact that the child was a vegan. Had the parents decided to breastfeed (which is common practice with vegans since the animal from which the milk comes from is MOTHER) or at least use soy formula (which is used by hundreds of thousands of parents across the U.S. due to milk allergies), the kid would have had a standing chance. Come on on folks....regular soy milk (which clearly states on the side of each and every box "not to be used as infant formula") and apple juice?!? The reality is that they didn't feed the kid, period.

I emailed the writer of the news story to tell her that it was a ridiculous angle on this case and to get her take on it. She replied that the prosecuters chose to attack the parents vegan lifestyle to make a point that this is an unnatural parenting technique. The reality is that the parents were KILLERS, plain and simple. The headline should have read "stupid parents kill infant", hell, it could have read anything! How about " _______ parents kill infant"? Just place any title in there like Hindu, Muslim, Scottish, Obese etc. All of these are about as relavant as "vegan".

I got sent an editorial by famed carb-hater Dr. Michael Eades called "Veganed to death"....Uh, very dramatic Doc but I would think that common sense would prevail here. Instead, the low-carb champion decided to use this as his chance to attack all things vegan and to blame veganism for a variety of ailments and diseases. Nice try Doc. We live in a society that is dealing with an epidemic of EXCESS....we are not seeing too many people dying of Rickets, Scurvy and Beri-beri these days.

A vegan who eats adequate calories and has half a brain will 'survive' just fine.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What are these coaches thinking?!?!

So I'm talking with my ex-assistant coach Matt Durant who is presently the Head Strength coach at the University of Laverne and also heads the conditioning for a major volleyball club here in Southern California. With his club girls, much like with my athletes @ COC, many get scholarships to four-year schools and we then get to see their conditioning programs when they get sent to the athletes.

Well, let's just say that we have seen our share of ridiculous programs....from programs that highlight single-joint exercises to those that belive that the Olympic lifts are dangerous and now to a program right here in So.Cal that has their volleyball athletes perform 17 exercises per resistance training workout. Yes folks, that's right....17 sets and 3 sets of 10 reps per set. Do the math everyone! That's 51 sets per session. Okay, aside from the fact that most of the exercises are things like seated calf raises, tricep push-downs and leg extensions, you are talking about a whopping 40-50 min. of rest ALONE in this workout. Add in the time to perform the actual sets and you are looking at about 60-70 min. of 'work'.

Folks, this is just not realistic. NO college student-athlete has this sort of time and even if they did, they would be spinning their wheels doing this sort of training. Take a look at some of the things we are doing at COC....our average weightroom sessions run from 15-20 sets of work per session, TOTAL. This includes our football team. It's all about QUALITY and INTENSITY folks!

Be sure to stop by my brand new webpage @ to see sample training sessions, and to get personalized workout plans for the competitive athlete or the average Jane or Joe!


Okay, so it seems that I am the last person on the planet to finally get his own blog! To be honest, I still really don't understand blogs.....I mean, who the hell wants to hear what I'm thinking???

Anyway, I have seen my share of fitness and conditioning blogs run by computer programmers, mechanics, and even stay at home moms. Rather than take their lead and start my own "Cancer Research" or "Differential Equations" blogs, I'll stick to what I'm best at and post my observations in my own field of work!

Get ready for some occasional politically incorrect posts by yours truly.....