There are so many people in this industry that have something to teach. Every single one of them with unique background and experience that makes them very knowledgeable.
In my opinion the ones with the most valuable knowledge to share are the ones that have been successful for many years in this business training athletes. I always get pretty pissed off when I hear or read some “internet experts” talk shit on those that have far more real world experience than them, and that have been successful at what they do for such a long time. Charlie Weingroff once said something like “you can make research say whatever you want”. Meaning there will always be a study somewhere to support your opinion. So I hate to break it to you, but research is not the end all, be all of performance training. Yes it’s important, and yes it helps understand the science behind what we do, but don’t trust every single research paper ever written.
That being said, here are some of the guys, in my opinion, who have been the most successful in the fitness business for a long time. When these guys talk, I listen.
Mike has been coaching athletes for almost 30 years. That’s about as many years as I’ve been alive! For that reason alone, when coach Boyle talks, I listen. It’s funny how it works in the fitness business, as it seems like you’re either a “Boyle guy” or you’re not. By that I mean that there is a lot of people out there that believe what Mike does is the best way to do things and follow all of his ideas. On the other hand there are a lot of coaches out there who disagree with everything Boyle says. Regardless, Mike has been coaching high level athletes for a very long time, and has been sending more players to the NHL than anybody I know. Most of the guys that Boyle trains have very few incidences of injury, and usually have pretty long careers. So whether you agree that 1-leg squats are better than back squats, or foam rolling serves a purpose or not, you have to respect what he’s done. The other thing I really like about coach Boyle is that he is not afraid to change his mind and admit when he has been wrong. That proves his open-mindedness and his will to still get better. Even after 30 years in the business, he doesn’t sit on it thinking he’s the best.
It’s a shame that Mark doesn’t have a bigger internet presence to share more of his knowledge because he has so much to share. I’ve seen Mark present once at the Perform Better seminar last year, and before that I knew very little about him even though he’s been in the business for close to 20 years. His facility Athletes’ Performance, is one of the most successful companies in the business, and highly sought after by many professional athletes. That in itself tells me a lot. Building a successful company is just as important as being good at training your athletes, and Mark has proven himself successful in both. If you have a chance to see him in a seminar, jump on it! He is a very energetic guy that shares stuff that always makes a lot of sense to me.
The least I can say is that there is a lot of controversy around Charles Poliquin. People take shots at him constantly, he disagrees with a lot of other successful coaches, he seems to have his own ways, and he has a very select group of followers. Charles has done a lot of great things for the strength and conditioning world, and a lot of his principles and training methods are widely spread across the world. He has been around for more than 2 decades as well. He was a little guy from Canada who grew into becoming one of the most sought after strength and conditioning coach in the world. He has trained a ridiculous number of athletes who succeeded at the highest level (Stanley Cup champions, Super Bowl champions, Olympic gold medalist, etc), and he owns many facilities across the country. He has his own supplement line, his own certification program, and spreads his disciples everywhere in the country, and they all train people according to the ‘Poliquin principles’; it almost looks like a cult in the fitness industry! I can’t say I agree with every single thing he says, but with all the knowledge and experience coach Poliquin has, along with the success he’s had developing his business and products, I have a lot of respect for him and I always look to learn from him.
Joe has successfully trained athletes and Hollywood stars for many years now. He owns the most successful gym in New York City, and has built a solid reputation in the fitness business. On top of that, I met Joe a couple years ago and he is one of the nicest guys I have ever met. He’s very down to earth and he is not afraid to share his knowledge. Joe has been training a lot of clients who have body composition goals, and have had tremendous results doing so. I worked with personal training clients who wanted to lose fat in the past, and it is never easy because there is such a huge psychological component to it, especially when it comes to sticking to a diet. Because of that I can appreciate the work Joe does with his clients, and I am very impressed at how ripped his clients get!
Dan John has been in the business forever. He has an incredible amount of experience under his belt and he has coached more athletes than I ever will. He has a TON of knowledge, yet his advice are always simple and to the point. I’ve interacted with Dan a little bit via the internet and he is very nice and available, which are very important quality to me for people you look up to. Dan John is a really good writer too as he always shares experiences, and anecdotes while sharing his knowledge. The simplicity of his methods are always good for people who over-complicate things too much to hear. And more than anything else, for me, is that he is the exact opposite of every internet expert with no real world experience; he doesn’t use any big words, he’s easy to understand, he’s very down to earth and his training advice are always very practical.
I think it would be fair to say that 5 years ago, no one knew about Joel Jamieson. Fast forward a couple years, he released a book that creates a lot of discussions, released a heart rate variability product, and he is surrounded by controversy for his beliefs about aerobic training. The bottom line is that Joel brings some fresh air to the “just get everybody as strong as possible” mindset that has been very present in the strength and conditioning world. He has a lot of knowledge in some aspects of strength and conditioning that most coaches don’t have. He has been successfully training top level MMA fighters, as well as athletes from other sports for more than a decade. His opinions on many topics are different than the ones of other well known strength coaches, but Joel’s experience shows you that he has been successful using a completely different system, which we can all learn from.
Unfortunately not enough people know Sean, as he is not too big into marketing himself over the internet. But Sean his one of the best strength coaches out there. He has been working for an NHL team, and every single season his team finishes in the top 5 teams of least men-games lost to injury. In a sport that is becoming increasingly fast, and where the epidemic of injuries is growing every year, Sean manages to keep the injuries to a minimum with his team, the Anaheim Ducks. When working for a professional team, this is probably the biggest impact you can have as a strength coach. Let’s face it: you’re not going to improve performance that much during the season with pro athletes playing 82 games in 5 months or so. And during the off-season if you’re lucky to have 20% of your team still in town, a lot of them need to nurse injuries and reverse the damage from the previous season. Sean probably understands that more than anyone, which explains his success at the professional level. There is always something I can learn from Sean.
I didn’t really know Dave until recently, but he is one of the most knowledgeable guys in strength and conditioning. His understanding of the energy system development is simply fascinating. And Dave doesn’t just speak with big words, he has been coaching athletes for quite some time. He also has a unique perspective working with soccer players. Dave was involved in some forum discussions following an article I wrote for StrengthCoach.com recently, and I have to say that I learned a lot just by reading his posts on the forum. He is definitely someone I will refer to a lot in the future when it comes down to energy system development.
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That’s the first thing that came to mind when I wrote the title of this post. Hopefully you can appreciate.
Aaaaand just so you know I didn’t write this title just to plug a wrestling reference! I promise.
In fact, I was at the BSMPG summer seminar this past weekend and I had a blast. I got to spend some time with the smartest minds in the business including Patrick Ward, Sean Skahan, Cal Dietz (University of Minnesota), Joel Jamieson, and Jim Snider (University of Wisconsin) just to name a few.
The recurring subject that came back with a lot of these guys during conversations is that…well…you have to know your role! What I mean is that as a strength coach you need to recognize your area of expertise, and more importantly you need to know where that area of expertise stops.
It’s really cool to learn about the SFMA, DNS, ART, Graston, Mulligans, all the rehab protocols, but we need to recognize that a lot of these things are not our job to do. There is nothing wrong with learning from different fields, but not with the mindset of doing everything yourself! As Patrick Ward was telling me himself: “we need to know just enough about everything to know where to refer our clients to and when”. I couldn’t agree more with this statement. Joel Jamieson was also telling me that coaches get too caught up sometimes trying to fix people, and their sessions turn out into an hour of corrective exercises.
Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s extremely important to be able to bridge the cap as a strength coach because there always will be some grey area, and we can’t send every one with a mild discomfort to physical therapy. Which is why we need to understand how the body works, what is good movement, how to identify dysfunctions or imbalances, and how to use corrective strategies efficiently. But our job is still to TRAIN ATHLETES!
I will be the first to recognize that there is a lot of incompetent health practitioners on this planet, but it doesn’t mean that you should try to fix everyone yourself.
Our job is to make athletes and clients feel better, improve their performance and lower their risk of injury. If they’re in pain, that is not our job to take care of them and fix them. And that’s the bottom line.
Another wrestling reference. Sorry.
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When dealing with high level athletes, you need to make sure they get the right amount of training stimulus. Too little will end up not producing any significant training effect, and too much will overtrain your athletes.
When you’re dealing with high school athletes or athletes with very little lifting experience, you can get away with pretty much anything and overtraining them is virtually impossible.
It’s a whole different story for college, junior and pro athletes who have a significant training background. This is where periodization, volume and load management, and recovery strategies come into play. When planning a training year, an off-season or an in-season plan, it’s always very difficult to know exactly how much volume your athletes need.
The truth is that there is simply too many variables that come into play:
individual recovery capacity
stress (physical and psychological)
Writing down a periodization, planning for deload weeks and trying to stay on top of how athletes feel have been the best ways to make sure the training stimulus we’re giving them is in that fine zone between undertraining and overtraining.
I blogged about heart rate variability (HRV)a couple months ago. I believe that the use of HRV and the devices available to track that will drastically change our industry in the next few years.
For the last decades, the only tool available to measure HRV was the OmegaWave, which is a 35,000$ machine, which basically means that it wasn’t accessible to most people.
But in the last couple of years, we’ve seen some smaller, more affordable devices make their appearance on the market. If you’re interested in using HRV with your athletes (which you should) to manage training stress I would strongly encourage you to consider of those devices. Here’s an overview of some of the devices used to measure HRV:
Like I just mentioned earlier, this is the original heart rate variability system. I had the chance to try it once and it gives you tremendous information about your recovery, your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, your anaerobic threshold and a lot more. The only problem? Well, the cost! So unless you’re in a pro sports organization, I doubt that you can justify (or even afford) such an expense.
This is Joel Jamieson’s product that he created after over 10 years of training MMA athletes and making experiments with the OmegaWave system. All you need is a Polar heart rate monitor and an I-Phone or an Android because it comes in the form of an app on these 2 smart phones. I’ve tried it a couple times and it’s very simple and easy to use. The price is extremely cheap compared to the OmegaWave; you can get it for $200.
Polar Heart Rate Monitor RS800CX
Polar makes a bunch of different heart rate monitors with different functions. The RS800CX offers a HRV measuring system with the watch. Although I have never tried it myself I heard that’s it’s not the most user friendly HRV system. It’s still pretty affordable compared to the OmegaWave; you can get it for just a little over $400.
Similar to the Bioforce HRV, it’s an app you can get on your smart phone. Although I’ve never used this one either I have heard mixed feedback on it. I’ve heard that’s it’s not the most accurate, but the price is extremely cheap. You can get it for a little over 50$.
This is really just the beginning as I think HRV monitoring devices are literally the future of strength and conditioning for high level athletes. Most of the smaller, more affordable devices are still in an early developmental stage and they will only become better as time goes by, and we will use a lot more companies come out with their own HRV device.
I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few years HRV monitors become a staple in any training program. The information it provides is invaluable and couldn’t be obtained any other way.
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It is time for another….you guessed it….Random thoughts post! Hopefully you enjoy these as much as I do! Let’s get started:
1. My friend and colleague Kevin Neeld posted on his YouTube channel 3 presentations of about 10 minutes each about hockey training; one on program design, one on speed training and one on conditioning. These were the 3 videos that he used to promote his book, which you needed to sign up for to get access to the videos. Now, you don’t even need to sign up for anything to watch these 3 awesome videos, as they are just one click away for you to see. Here’s the program design video, which I think is pretty cool:
2. Speaking of Kevin and his book, if you haven’t checked it out yet, you absolutely have to! For some reason, he hasn’t bumped the introduction price up yet. Let me remind you that this book highlights Kevin’s complete training system to building powerful and bulletproof hockey players. In fact, the principles in this book could very well apply to any athlete in any sports as well! Any book of that quality would usually price at over 80$, but Kevin is giving you Ultimate Hockey Training for less than 30$! Click HERE if you want to pick up a copy!
3. My own training for the last 6 weeks have been geared towards muscular endurance and aerobic training (probably not the type that you think) based on Joel Jamieson’s general endurance block from his book Ultimate MMA Conditioning. To say it is a nice change of pace would be an understatement. For the past 6 years, my whole training has basically been max strength and very low volumes of conditioning (always in the form of anaerobic intervals) and nothing else. My joints were kinda hating me recently and I was getting a little bored with my training, so I decided to give that general endurance thing a shot, you know, to mix things up and give my body a break. The lifting volume have been pretty low (but not necessarily easy)- hey, could have thought that doing DB chest press with 45′s could be so hard? Not me! And the conditioning volume has been pretty high for what I’m used to, but since I’m working my aerobic system I don’t feel like the intensity is killing me. The main difference I’ve noticed so far is my recovery improved drastically! I used to dread every training day because I always felt crushed from the previous one, but with this phase, even if I get pretty sore from some of that stuff, I pretty much always feel ready to go when I’m training. I also play hockey twice a week, and I noted a major recovery difference between my shifts; I pretty much feel like I can go just as hard every single shift, and it’s like that the whole game! I used to gas out after 3o minutes. I know I’m gonna need to go back to lifting heavy stuff soon, so I don’t loose too much strength, but I’m definitely going to use 8 weeks endurance blocks more often in the future.
4. As a big music fan, and having written entire blog posts about music to train to (if you missed it you can check ‘em out HERE and HERE), I feel like haven’t posted anything music related in a while. Here’s a little something to enjoy… As you may already know I’m growing more and more into a die-hard Foo Fighters fan, which is funny because I used to dislike this band a couple years ago. But the fact that they stuck with their original roots for almost 20 years, never became a foo-foo fake pop-rock band through the years like many rock bands do (huh humm…Nickelback), and because they totally kick ass in concert for almost 3 hours, I’ve become a huge fan. Here ‘s Bridges Burning, from their new album, which gets you want to smash someone in the head with a steel chair, a la Stone Cold Steve Austin:
And this next one, even though is not as high-energy, for some reason really gets me going! The band is called Chickenfoot, which is a band formed by Sammy Hagar, another guy from Van Halen and the drummer from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It has kind of an 80′s sound to it, which Coach Jorts can appreciate, but it definitely pumps me up:
5. Last but not least, I just got 2 spots that opened up on my online training clients schedule. So if you’re interested, read my ‘Services’ page to make sure you qualify and that it’s what you’re looking for, and drop me an email at the link at the bottom of the page! You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference a structured program can make, and how much faster you can reach your goals. I’ve worked with clients from all walks of life from pro athlete to completely out-of-shape 60 year-old women, so don’t be afraid and think it’s not for you! We’ll have to talk first, but chances are I can do something for you no matter what your training goal is.
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I wrote a new program for the Endeavor staff a couple weeks ago. After reading Joel Jamieson’s Ultimate MMA Conditioning book, I realized a lot about energy system training and I wanted to experiment with some of stuff in the book. With that in mind, I wrote a general endurance block. I figured since none of us had good muscular endurance or conditioning levels right now that would be a good idea to work on some of that stuff for a couple of training cycles. Combined to the fact that I did almost exclusively max strength stuff for the past 5-6 years and my joints were starting to hate me recently, purposely lifting light weights for a little bit sounded pretty appealing.
Not THAT light, though!
That being said, we’re starting week 2 of this general endurance program and I will admit that I’m really enjoying the change of pace. I’m feeling really sore from squatting 95 pounds, which is completely crazy! But when your time under tension is 40 seconds per set, you have no pause between reps and your rest between sets is 30 seconds, the weights you’re using are ridiculously light! Other than that I feel really good!
As much as I believe in the importance of max strength in a training program, I’m also starting to think that there is a time and place for it; and the answer is not ‘all the time’! Working to improve your muscle endurance, power endurance, and other qualities can have their place in a yearly training program. You don’t have to put a focus on max strength in every training program. There are other adaptations that are gonna be beneficial that you won’t be able to get through max strength training (e.g. oxidative capacities of your muscle fibers, hypertrophy of slow twitch fibers, endurance of slow twitch fibers, etc, etc).
Right now, my body enjoys the break from the heavy weights. My joints are feeling better, it is not even close to being as CNS intensive as max strength training, and most of all, I feel completely out of my comfort zone, which is not easy, but it’s good. The aerobic conditioning part of the program is probably what pushes me out of my comfort the most because I probably never ran for more than 5 minutes in a row before! I get sore pretty easily with this program, but my body doesn’t feel crushed, if that makes any sense. Every training day, I’m ready to attack whatever is on the program that day, I don’t feel smoked form the previous session with no motivation to lift, like I’ve been feeling for the last 2-3 months. There’s something to be said about being able to kick your own ass, but there’s also something to be said about listening to your body when you keep feeling that way day in and day out.
This is how I was feeling recently…before I started foam rolling!
Get out of your comfort zone once in a while when you train, if you don’t already. It’s not easy and you might find it very hard compared to whatever you’re doing, but it’ll be good for you, it’ll change the stress on your body (which is necessary once in a while) and you’ll end up feeling good!
I’m just finishing up Joel Jamieson‘s book Ultimate MMA Conditioning, and as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, it’s definitely an eye opener for me. There are many things about conditioning that I thought I understood well, and now I’m just starting to rethink everything. And to be honest, it goes far beyond just the conditioning part of training. I’m starting to rethink some of the strength stuff as well.
Ever since I read the Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual from Eric Cressey and after I interned at Robert Morris University a few years ago, I was seeing max strength as the answer to pretty much everything; if athletes just got stronger, everything else would just fall into place. I still think that max strength is a very important part of an athlete’s training program, and has profound effects on speed, power and agility. But I’m starting to realize that it’s not all…
With that focus on max strength, the emphasis is mostly on improving the efficiency of the nervous system, increasing the activation of the fast-twitch muscle fibers and recruiting more motor units. All of these effects are very important for any athlete if they want to improve their performance. And this is mostly how we usually see strength training; it’s all about the nervous system, the muscle fibers and everything in between.
What we, myself included, too often fail to consider is the energy systems part of the equation. And I’m not talking about how we condition our athletes. I’m talking about the implication of the energy systems in strength training. There is indeed a big neural and muscle fiber effect that comes from strength training, but there is also a energy system effect. Even if it’s not conditioning in it’s traditional form, your body still need to produce the energy necessary to lift the weights. When we lift weights and train for max strength, the anaerobic alactic system is going to be the one that is used primarily, which also means that we don’t have to worry too much about oxygen utilization, the number of mitochondrias in the muscle and that kind of stuff…..but that’s for one set of one exercise.
What happens when we run out of stored ATP after one set in the anaerobic alactic system? Your body needs to recover and regenerate that source of energy while you rest. And how does that happen? Because you’re resting and the demands on your body are fairly low until you start your following set, this recovery process will happen through the aerobic system. Now can you see where I’m going with this?
This is just one example to show you that your energy systems, and especially your aerobic system are involved in strength training even if you don’t think about it. Not because we’re using weights means no energy system work is happening. There is not a clear line between strength work and conditioning. There is some overlap, just like there is some overlap between each energy system when you condition AND when you strength train.
Think about the implication this can have on your max strength and ensuing effect it’s gonna have in the practice of your sport. Training for max strength is going to improve the efficiency of your nervous system and increase the percentage of fast twitch muscle fibers activation. But if you don’t realize the importance of the aerobic system in the recovery process after short bouts of intense activity (a.k.a the use of the anaerobic alactic system), chances are you’ll be performing your first shift (or your first play, your first punch, first set, etc) at a very high intensity and you’ll have an edge over your opponents…..and then it’s gonna go downhill from there until the end of your game, match, etc. because your body will not have been trained to recover quickly. If your body can’t recover as fast as possible every time, your performance will only get worse and worse as your game goes on. Nobody wants that!
This is why understanding the importance and the implication of ALL the energy systems is crucial for your performance or the one of your athletes. And that includes being aware of the implications of the energy systems on strength training and how to maximize the performance and recovery of each one of them.
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I’m in the middle of Joel Jamieson’s book Ultimate MMA Conditioning, and I have to say that (even being only 1/4 of the way through it) this book is about to be one that’s a COMPLETE game changer for me. Even though the title says ‘MMA Conditioning’, the book is not so much about specific MMA conditioning as it is about developing the different energy systems the right way. It’s making me rethink all of the conditioning I program for my athletes. And I’ll have more on the subject very soon.
While reading it though, I’ve come to a couple realizations about my job as a strength and conditioning coach that go beyond just conditioning stuff. As a professional who’s concerned about constantly thriving to get better and always do what’s best for his athletes, it’s quite important to reach out to new resources that will help you get better at what you do, especially in an ever-evolving industry like ours. In our quest to learn new information and get better, the internet has been more than helpful. It’s giving us free information everywhere in the form of blogs, articles, videos, webinars, podcasts, you name it. Of course there will always be information that’s of low quality and it makes it very easy for anyone to put information out there without any guarantees that it’s any good. But with a minimum of educational background and critical judgment, one can pretty easily judge of the quality of information he’s reading.
What we see happening with the age of the internet though, is some trends spreading virally, which can end up changing our perspective on things. One such trend has been pre-hab and corrective training. There is a LOT of great information out there on injury prevention, corrective exercises, and the like. It seems to be the cool thing to write about these days, and I am guilty as charged, like a lot of people. And don’t get me wrong, I do not think there is anything wrong with using injury prevention strategies or trying to learn more about how the body moves. But is this overwhelming amount of information about injury prevention been shifting the pendulum too far? Having all of this information available to you, and being aware of the importance of limiting injuries can make you obsessed with it…when in reality it’s only one part of the puzzle. Continuing education is not just about learning more about functional anatomy and new corrective exercise strategies. It’s about getting better at what you do. And I say this because I’m starting to realize that it’s one big mistake I’ve been making in the last couple of years. Functional anatomy is a very complex thing and it’s easy to get caught in just wanting to learn more and more about that only.
But there are a lot more components to our job that we need to consider and get better at. Conditioning is one of those areas. One of my bosses at a former job once said in a meeting: “the problem with you, personal trainers, is that you’re too good with the lifting part of the programs you write. Programing for cardio is by far your weakest link.” And if you’re wondering, yes, he did indeed used the word ‘cardio’. But when he said that, I didn’t listen for a couple of reason:
He started by critiquing us, which is never a good way to open the lines of communication
I was obsessed with strength at that point in my career, and thought nothing else really mattered
Conditioning was a very simple concept in my head, and if you wanted to improve it you just had to do intervals
He wasn’t really good at his job anyway
He was shaped like a pear and his training consisted of squats on a wobble board, Russian twists and machine chest press
“You should listen to me ’cause I know how to train right!”
Thinking back about what he said, he probably was right. But it’s unfortunate that he was such a close-minded indiviual because I probably could’ve learned a thing or two from him, but I was completely shut off because of his attitude in general.
What I’m trying to say here is that I’m not saying that injury prevention strategies (or any other component of a training program) are not important, but we need to take a step back and realize what our job is. We need to get better at what we do in a more general sense. We want to get better at preventing injuries, but we also need to get better at maximizing hypertrophy, developing speed, improving range of motion, and of course improving conditioning, which I think is too often overlooked in a training program.
Never forget that your clients are looking for a training effect. Let me say that again: your clients are looking for a training effect. Working AROUND limitation is as much our job (if not more) than working ON limitations. Your clients are not looking to do miniband exercises for an hour and half let you tell them how bad they move. They want to reach their fitness goal. They don’t want you to tell them what their goal is.
Not sure this is what your clients are expecting
Think about how you would feel if you were to go in store restaurant, order a pizza and 15 minutes later your waitress would bring you a salad telling you that it’s better for you to eat a salad! This might be a stupid example, but it’s just to make you realize that what we do is still in big part customer service (unless you’re working in a college or a pro team setting). Clients and athletes come to us to get results, whether it’s improved performance, fat loss, muscle gain or whatever else; they expect to get results because they’re giving you their hard-earned money! I think it’s important to always ask your clients what THEY expect out of your services. It doesn’t mean we can’t help them move and feel better along the way, but I think it’s important to always keep the client’s expectations in mind and do what you need to meet them.
Getting better at what we do is not only preventing injuries better. It’s making them lose fat faster, getting them bigger and stronger, maximizing their conditioning, and more than anything else listening to their needs and meeting (or should I say exceeding) their expectations.
Believe it or not, Christmas is already less than 2 week away! Crazy isn’t it?! But that doesn’t mean I’m not happy about it; au contraire! Christmas is by far my favorite time of year because I usually get some time off from work and that allows me to spend some time with my family and friends. The only problem with Christmas is that I always end up being late on Christmas shopping and finding presents for my loved ones. That being said, if you have a fitness or strength and conditioning enthusiast in your life, here’s a couple of gift ideas that are well worth it if you ask me!
Hearte Rate Monitor
With what the research tells us about heart rate variability (HRV) and the feedback our heart rate can give us about our training, intensity, recovery, etc. it only makes sense to keep track of your heart rate. Most monitors are very convenient to use and not very expensive (you can get a really good one for less than 100$!). I recommend the Polar RS-100. If you’re looking for the best quality/price ratio, you can’t get much better than that one. Also, with Joel Jamieson’s new HRV product coming out soon, it will be 100% compatible with the RS-100, so you’re killing 2 birds with one stone! Ultimate Hockey Training
Kevin Neeld’s new book is a great gift idea for any hockey player, parent or coach. It highlights every component of a hockey player development from the youth level to the professional level as well as going into details on the training program itself and all that should be included (foam rolling, warm up, strength and power work, conditioning, etc). It really is the most complete hockey development resource out there, and very up-to-date as well (compared to other hockey training resources I’ve read before). I’ve been spreading the word about Kevin’s book for the last 2 months for a reason. And for less than 30$, it makes for a very cheap gift idea! You can get Ultimate Hockey Training HERE.
Metabolic Cooking Cookbook
It’s no big news that nutrition is a HUGE part of the results you get from your training. Who says nutrition also says planning. If you don’t plan your meals ahead you’re setting yourself up for failure. Period. Metabolic Cooking is a great, healthy cookbook with over 250 delicious recipes that will help you achieve your health and performance goals. You’ll be taking a huge step toward planning your meals better with this resource, as there is also different sections for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snacks! For less than 50$, it was way worth it to me, and I’m sure it’ll be for you as well!
Show and Go
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that I’m a big fan of Show and Go, as I tried it myself and gained almost 15 pounds of muscle while boosting my Deadlift and my Bench Press by 20-30 pounds; all of this in less than 4 months! It’s the best system out there of any non-athlete gym enthusiast who wants to pack on muscle, gain strength and lose bodyfat. You get a 16-week program based on your goals and the number of times per week you hit the gym. And on top of that you have full video support for all the exercises that are included in the program and Eric throws a bunch of cool bonuses with it. It takes the guess work out of writing your own program and quite frankly, the results speak for themselves. It’s the perfect gift for the fitness enthusiast in your life!
Doing soft-tissue work is now widely accepted as part of a complete training program. I’ve raved about the benefits of foam rolling and other similar tools to promote tissue quality. A foam roller doesn’t work quite as well on the upper body as it does on the lower body, though. The theracane massager is probably the best “upper body” tool I’ve come across for soft-tissue work. I own one and I have to say that it works wonders on areas like the pecs, upper traps, rhomboids as well as the posterior neck muscles. It’s the next best thing to getting a massage! Training = Rehab, Rehab = Training
This last gift idea might be more for people who are serious about strength and conditioning and are looking for a great continuing education resource. Charlie Weingroff has a way of explaining things and giving people a different perspective on things that will make every penny you spend on this DVD set worth it. I’m not going to lie though, it’s not for everyone. The material on the DVDs is pretty advanced stuff, and I’ll even admit that I was scratching my head a couple of times while watching Charlie speaks. But it makes for a great Christmas present for any up-and-comer strength and conditioning coach; and trust me, they will appreciate it (it was my Christmas present last year, and I certainly did!). You ca get Training = Rehab, Rehab = Training on Charlie’s website HERE.
Buuuuuut, the best Christmas present of them all remains a subscription to DavidLasnier.com’s newsletter! And the best part is that it’s totally FREE!!! All you have to do is enter the contact info below, and you’ll even get 3 FREE reports on sports performance training!
Recently I’ve been introduced to the concept of heart rate variability (HRV). For those who don’t know anything about HRV, it’s basically a measure of the variation in beat-to-beat interval of your heart rate. Methods to measure HRV include ECG, blood pressure and specific devices (which I’ll talk about a little later). HRV has been shown to be a pretty accurate predictor of heart diseases. But more specifically to training and performance, HRV can give you information about the CNS, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems activity, and overall fatigue and recovery.
What that means is that HRV measurement could be an invaluable tool to monitor fatigue and recovery in athletes. Think about the implications of this. We all periodize our athletes’ training programs and adjust the training loads in order to give them the biggest benefits from training and we try to follow some sort of supercompensation model, in the hopes of getting the desired results.
But how do you know if you’re training loads and recovery times are perfectly adjusted so your athletes reach optimal supercompensation? There is no way to know without measuring it! It doesn’t matter how much experience you have in training high level athletes and writing training programs; the fact is that you can’t know EXACTLY how much training load and recovery is optimal for every individual athlete. Because let’s face it, every athlete is different; they all handle stress (physical and psychological) differently, they eat and sleep differently and their bodies have different recovery abilities.
This is where HRV measures come very handy. By getting those measures you can write programs and adjust training loads accordingly. HRV measures give you all you need to plan your training, recovery and supercompensation optimally. HRV is probably the future for most high level athletes and their training regimen. But with the finding of HRV comes a bad news, and a good news…
Bad news first: there aren’t that many good devices out there that are user friendly to use HRV with yourself and your clients. And most of them are worth thousands of dollars; OmegaWave, which is probably the most popular one is worth well over 10,000$! And in terms of practicality it’s not better as you can run only one person at a time (takes around 5-7 minutes to run someone through); that’s pretty inconvenient from a team’s or small group perspective.
But here’s the good news: Joel Jamieson is about to launch is own HRV product called BioForce HRV and it’s going to be available for less than 200$! From what I heard, Joel has been working to develop this product for the past 10 years, and it’s been tested on hundreds of athletes. It should be similar to the OmegaWave, but much more available to anyone who wants to use HRV.
If you have any interest in that type of product, I recommend you check out Joel Jamieson’s website as we’re getting really close to the launch date of his product, from what I heard. Check it out HERE.
I’ve only been introduced to the HRV concept a couple weeks ago, and all I’ve been thinking about ever since is: with all the implications of this tool, it could very well change the future of periodization training for sports -and the one of every high level athlete, for that matter. If you realize how much managing training loads and volumes matter with high level athletes (especially in-season to manage fatigue), you’ll probably think like me that this tool could revolutionize our industry forever.
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