***A lot of you have been asking how Hafis has been doing. He had his first pro day yesterday and performed beyond expectations! He had 23 reps on the bench, ran a 5.21 40 yard dash and a sub five second 5-10-5. Scouts were talking to him after and telling him they liked what they saw. Way to go Hafis!
At Newell Strength, we are constantly trying to step up our coaching game. Our goal is to be the number one gym in the world and my own personal goal is to be the best strength coach in the world. With that, we are always examining different aspects of coaching and I thought some of you would like some insight into what a good coach does and doesn’t do.
The combine has just finished up and it always makes me shake my head, how some coaches will opt for testing over on the field performance, even when a player has proven himself over the course of a few years. The combine is cool in that we like to look at numbers, but the real test is on the field.
I have said this time and time again, but reports continue to come into me about ‘Napoleanite Strength Coaches’. In case you have never heard this term, don’t worry about it, I just coined it, but basically it means strength coaches that have become more important than the training of their athletes or clients. They make the mistake of becoming the thing rather than the programming and coaching.
These types of coaches are the ones that also put a ton of stock into testing. Once again, I will say it loud and clear, the real test is on the field or on the court and I will always put my guys up against anyone else’s on a Saturday afternoon and see who ‘passes the test’.
With that, here you go:
• A good coach uses to testing to get baselines and see where his or her program is falling short. It is a self-evaluation, not an evaluation as much for the athlete or client. If the athlete isn’t getting the results, its your fault, not theirs. Coaches that try to validate themselves through testing are often ego-driven, trying to prove themselves. Can someone please explain to me why so m any college and high school strength coaches are still in love with testing the hang clean? How does the hang clean make you a better athlete? If it were true, why would the NFL not just go to the nearest Olympic training center and take all the Olympic lifters and draft them? Think about it.
• A good coach will always evolve and innovate. A coach that has been running the same scheme for years on end isn’t learning, they are repeating and if you are staying the same, you are in reality getting worse. Its like the teachers that use the same lesson plans year in and year out, what’s the point? Are you just doing it for a paycheck? I look at the programs I wrote even one year ago and I am embarrassed by them because I have learned so much since that time. At the time, they were the best I had because that was all I knew. Good coaches keep a ‘growth mindset’.
• A good coach will never belittle a student or trainee. Good coaches realize that we are coaches on more than just the physical training realm. I was reminded of this recently when a member of Newell Strength came into the gym to give me a hug because his son just made his college baseball team, not because the training but more so because as he said, “This place is just different, the mindset, the atmosphere.” A good coach walks the walk in all phases of life.
• A good coach will be on an endless quest to become the best. I can’t for the life of me figure out why someone would do something not to be the best at it. This means learning from each other. I have a whole rolodex of coaches that are far better than me, that I can email or call on the drop of a dime. My constant mindset is that I am the student and when the teacher is talking, to shut up and listen.
• A good coach will have his or her own coach, often in many areas of life. I currently have 3 coaches, one for life, one for business and one for my physical body. I am not a know it all and again, a good coach realizes the importance of good coaching. If you want to see how good of a coach your coach is, ask them if they have a coach. If they reply know, find a new coach because they are a hypocrite and don’t really see the value in good quality coaching.
• A good coach is someone you actually admire and want to be around. A bad coach is someone you can’t wait to get away from. I realize that many of you that read this are just regular sports coaches and not strength coaches, so I am writing this for you as well. It is gut check time and if you read one of these things and realize that you violate it, you need to change or get out of the profession.
I find it funny when people tell me that the workout wasn’t hard enough or they need more. The simplest thing I can say is that exercise is like a prescription. You prescribe it in the lowest dose possible to get the desired effect.
If you had to take medicine, would you take 5X the recommended dose just because more is better, even though one pill would get the job done just fine? People come to Newell Strength in all different phases of their ‘training career’. Some have been training longer than others, some need to gain muscle, some need to lose fat and so on.
The goal will always dictate the training program. So what tools do I have at my disposal when designing programs? The different variables include sets, reps, rest periods, frequency of exposure, tempo and exercise selection. When I get out my pad to write down the ‘prescription’, there is interplay between all these variables.
If sets go up, reps go down. There is an inverse relationship between the two. A rep is really a measure of time, how long is the muscle system under tension? A rep is work and power. Work is force times distance and power output it work divided by time.
Rest periods will be dictated by training level and if you are after maximal strength, muscle growth or fat loss. Rest periods seem to be the most overlooked aspect of most trainees as they will rest one minute here, two minutes the next time and 20 seconds on the final set. How are we supposed to track progress or manipulate that variable if its all over the board. We have now started giving all the athletes and trainees stop watches to keep during their workouts so they are more conscious of the rest periods we prescribe.
Another overlooked aspect is frequency of training. Are you training by body part split still? Are you only training a body part once a week? If so, you are robbing yourself. A muscle is ready to go within 48 hours and similar movements can be trained daily, just look at blue-collar workers, for example, lumber jacks. They don’t seem to over train the muscles they work day in and day out, do they?
Tempo is the rep speed. Are 8 reps performed in 8 seconds going the same effect as 8 reps performed in 24 seconds? Definitely not! But most people or trainers I should say never pay this any mind. If you are after fat loss, time under tension should be longer as we will get a greater boost in lactic acid, causing a rise in growth hormone. So in that case, more time under tension is also critical in gaining muscle mass. Rest periods and nutrition will dictate which effect you get.
And lastly, exercise selection. You would probably be shocked to learn that your body adapts to the actual exercise selection the last. You could stick with the same basic exercises all year and manipulate that other variables and get phenomenal results. Pareto’s principle states that we get 80% of our results from 20% of the things we do. Exercise selection definitely fits this principle. Hoepfully this clarifies some of the aspects of what goes into your program as you shouldn’t be just wining it. A workout is not the same as a program…prescribe and let the effects happen.
I remember when I first actually talked with Louie Simmons on the phone and he was dropping knowledge nuggets left and right. If you haven’t heard me talk about Louie before, he is the foremost mind in strength training in the world. When he talks, I listen. I remember being pleasantly surprised when he told me he trained the Big 10 100M track champion and took 3/10ths of a second off his hundred time without doing any sprint work.
The principals of speed and explosiveness have to do with force production and the rate of force production. One of the first things I always explain to the athletes parent’s at Newell Strength is that we can do all the sprint work and agility work that we want, but it won’t make a difference if the athlete can’t apply more force to the ground. Meaning they have to get stronger through various methods in the supporting musculature. In other words, you don’t get faster by only sprinting.
So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I have been getting more and more reports from my athletes that their various school programs are attempting to get their bench and squat numbers higher by just benching and squatting! Louie would be appalled! First, let me state that I am not a Coach that places huge emphasis training numbers unless it will benefit the athlete. The real test is always on the field, so be careful of any coaches that fall in love with testing, they are usually trying to validate the need for themselves.
Now, back to the point, you get stronger by working on speed strength and strength speed, meaning you must have lighter days in which you accelerate the bar and heavier days in which you go for max records. Remember, the equation for force is mass times acceleration (too many forget the acceleration aspect). However, you must constantly be working the supporting muscles and rotating the volume and exercise selection of those other muscles. For the bench, you would have to work the triceps, lats, upper back, delts and mid back.
Now the crossover for the athlete would be that they would become a superior version of their formal selves, bigger, stronger and more explosive. And, by the way, football coaches love to fall in love with the olympic lifts because someone a long time ago, probably Nebraska, had their football players clean and snatch. But, you can achieve the same bar speeds with dynamic bench, squat and dead lifts. The bottom line is, sometimes I forget what others do not know and you need to be on guard for the novices out there, especially if you are trying to earn an athletic scholarship. Give yourself every advantage that you can. And remember, you can’t get faster by simply trying to run faster nor can you get stronger simply by trying to lift more weight in the same exercise over and over.
I spoke with a coach last week that was irate at my position about Olympic lifting. Apparently he has put hours and hours in to becoming certified in the Olympic lifts, which right there tells me there is a problem. Olympic lifting is a tool, not an end all be all. Kind of like getting certified in kettle bells if you get my drift.
While I was pedaling on the bike Sunday morning rehabbing my knee, watching a DVD of one of my main mentor’s, he said: “Lifts in which you actually hold the bar in the hands is much more draining on the CNS (central nervous system for you newbies). That is why we only deadliest once every month or so and why the Olympic lifts are not a priority.” This coming from the master himself.
Testing kids in the Olympic lifts is stupid, flat out. The real test is on the field of play. If you can’t perform a clean correctly or with a lot of weight but you can run the ball, what do you think the coach is going to care more about? My job as a strength coach is to get my athletes ready to kick ass on the field, which means finding what works most effectively, not falling in love with one ideology and one alone. Its called coaching maturity….
On an branch-off, what happens when you jump up and land a scale? Temporarily it registers you at a higher weight. This is what happens with plyometrics and why we use dynamic days at our gym. You want to increase the virtual load or kinetic energy, leading to more strength potential loaded in the muscle bellies and tendons. Using a heavier weight doesn’t do this, but lowering a lighter weight faster does this, speed must be trained in the weight room, not on a ‘speed and agility’ program at some foo-foo ‘speed center’. You need to get the idea out of your head that heavy must be constant and you can only train heavy all the time.
Time for some coaches out there to get educated, I don’t even like being associated with some of the knuckleheads that are coaching athletes in absolutely asinine ways. And get it straight, making someone tired and puke is something a trained monkey can do to anyone by blowing a whistle, its not coaching. The key is getting people to work as hard as they need to work to get results. Peace!
I can say with certainty that every athlete that comes to me wants to be great. Why else would they invest the time, money, sacrifice, hours and commitment? I also know that many people want to know the surest fire path getting what they want, so I thought it’d be cool to write about what makes a great athlete so great.
- Fearlessness-Great athletes don’t fear things such as injury, loss, failure or a shooting slump. I have never been as scared as I was the couple of days following my knee injury, but I then started thinking about this very question that I posed in this article and I realized that there can be no more fear of injury. It all starts in the mind, if you get hurt, go to the appropriate measures to make sure it doesn’t happen again if it is even preventable and then forget it. I spoke with Louie Simmons yesterday and he said, “Kyle, its all in the mind. Believe that you will come back and you will. There is no fear, that’s hogwash.” Great athletes also don’t fear losing because they know from their time and sacrifice that they’ve done everything they can to prepare and although no one wins every time, they have greatly increased their odds. Great athletes need an almost cocky swagger, much like Arnold Schwarzenegger had. Know that you are great, that you can win in the big spot, that you can hit the game winning shot and you will. It’s all about mind set. Fear nothing.
- Commitment- I remember taking a page out of Larry Bird’s book when I was in high school and I would take 500 jump shots per day. I did this for 2 years. The results were phenomenal and then I fell in love with weight lifting. Great athletes are committed to being great at their craft above all else. They are no different than someone like Steve Jobs that was obsessed with his craft. If you want to be great, you will lose balance much of the time, this is the price to pay. You can’t be half way pregnant. I am often in awe of how much great athletes need to sacrifice but at the same time I understand it because they are chasing a dream. Larry Bird used to show up 6 hours before game time to start shooting. Think about it.
- Coaching and Education- When you are coming up against a beast you don’t know, you need to arm yourself with education. In sport, this can be done through meticulous record keeping and a great coach or coaches. No great athlete ever got to be great without the help of a great coach. Great coaches have been there with other athletes before, they know what it takes. Learn and absorb as much as you can from great coaches. Become a sponge around them and become a sponge around athletes that have already done what you want to do. Don’t fall into the trap of the 99%ers, the people that have the chance to be around greatness but instead of learning, they just talk the whole time about what it is that they do great. Those athletes and people will never be great.
As promised, I will be shooting a ton of video of this journey to share with you. Here is the morning right after the injury happened, probably 10 hours after it actually took place:
So the surgery was a success today. The surgery was much longer than expected, going on for 2 and a half hours. When Doctor Gecha came out to see Devon after the surgery, he said most people only tear the patella horizontally, I tore it both horizontally and vertically. To put it in his words: “It was completely shredded”. In addition to that, they found that ligaments on both the medial and lateral part of the knee were torn to shreds.
I am not sure of the exact ones, I will know tomorrow when I see Dr. Gecha in the morning. He did suture in a silver dollar size pad of my own platelet matrix to assist in the healing. This was something he and I had talked about, even though it is not standard in this surgery, but you know me, I’m a guinea pig:)
He told Devon he basically had to totally re-construct my knee. But to be honest, I am already quite grateful for this experience. I hope to God it never happens again, but I am grateful for the learning and teaching I will gain from it. I am no longer scared, I am excited. I know there will be ups and downs, but I also know that tomorrow is day one on the road back to being a champion. I will compete one day again, obviously this summer isn’t gonna happen, but I will do it!
So, what have we learned from this ordeal so far? As I always say, a stronger organism is harder to kill. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have the high level of strength in my right leg and upper body as far as functioning with this injury. Train the whole body, always! Don’t work on isolating your beach muscles.
Single leg work is superior for developing and activating your gluteus. This is only further confirmed for me by how much time I have spent on my right leg. I can palpate and feel my glute (medius) in particular firing away while I stand on the right side while shaving or washing myself while standing.
I have re-learned the value of visualization. Whether that be before a rep, a foul shot, a rehearsal or whatever. The nervous system and body don’t know the difference between picturing something in your head and actually doing it. This has been confirmed via studies with Olympic Down Hill Skiers. I used to lay there at night when I was competing routinely and picture myself as a champion. I would see it until it would become real, which it did. I used to picture a number of my jump shots (500 per day) before I would shoot them. It got to the point where I could literally make a jump shot from anywhere on the court even if I didn’t have a clear view of the basket. Tonight before I go to sleep, I will watch some of my YouTube videos of me squatting or some other lower body exercise. I will put my headphones on with my meditation music after that and fall asleep picturing my first step this summer, I will picture my knee healing at a super human rate, and it will. I have no doubts.
I will continue to write about what I learn from this ordeal so hopefully you can learn too. We all have our own challenges, lets be champion’s in our approach to how we find the opportunity in those challenges and in how we conquer them.
I recently had a local high school strength and conditioning coach telling some of the athletes that I didn’t know what I was doing, despite his not knowing me, ever talking to me or ever coming to my gym. I can only speculate that it was jealously and ignorance on his part. But today, I will pick apart the ‘golden egg’ of his program, Olympic lifting for athletes:
As I was performing one of my three early conditioning sessions at 4:45 AM last Wednesday, I had a clear mind and 30 minutes to let the thoughts run free. I am currently motivated by goal to get into the best health of my life and every time I am aiming for something, all other areas of my life come into hyper-foucs as well. This means that I have been reflecting on my methods at Newell Strength, and how I can help turn everyone there into a champion. Now, not all members are current athletes, so my definition of ‘champion’ simply means making each person their own best version. I deal mostly with the physical….
For the atheltes, we are constantly trying to get stronger. Strength is the foundation of all other athletic skills, including: agility, power, speed and endurance. We use a conjugate system to keep the exercises, body and mind fresh and every other week we are going for a PR in some variation of a move. I am a big fan of contrast training methods, meaning we pair our power or strength exercise. Even as I strip the fat off my body and try to gain a little more muscle, I will always keep an element of strength in my own workouts.
For the man that want to dominate their bodies and workouts, we use a lot of the same exercises. However, we switch up the order and the pace is much faster. I find that the men are much better at keeping pace in the workouts. The younger atheltes and high school athletes are used to what they see at the regular globo gyms and taking 5 minutes between sets. This is not good for body composition or performance. For body comp, the faster we can go and still maintain performance, the more body fat we will lose. For performance, I am not too sure of many sports that get 2-5 minutes rest between exertions.
The older members train more for body composition, so they don’t necessarily have to be in ‘game shape’, however this does not mean they can escape some good old fashioned Newell Strength conditioning, such as a barbell finisher complex comprised of squats, curls, lunges, overhead walks and hi-pulls. Even had the guys perform a fast one mile the other day to give them a runners high and let the joints ‘get out and go’. For the athletes, we do almost ZERO agility work unless they are really young, in which case it is really coordination work. Remember, agility is a function of strength, just like speed.
For their conditioning (the athletes), I make sure to work anaerobically and aerobically, usually a blend of the two as most of the sports atheltes we get use a combination of the energy systems. This might mean Tabata running one day, which has been shown to increase VO2 max much faster and more so than distance running. For the longer runs, lets say 1/4 miles, I will continually increase the reps from week to week while cutting down on their rest time. During the initial off-season, we don’t do much conditioning at all as it normally only takes 6 weeks to get the athletes into top shape. So it is not like I am increasing conditioning for weeks on end, its only 6 at the max.
I also address nutrition a ton with the members as this along with lifestyle will effect recovery and performance much more than anything else. I am adamant about eating food sources that are ‘wild caught’ as it will improve body composition and performance much more than the regular toxin-laden foods. I encourage hard work, obviously, but smart work. If someone is slacking at Newell Strength, they don’t last too long.
I am currently doing very well under John Meadows coaching and he is teaching me a great deal. I am eating much more than I ever allowed myself while trying to lean up and I feel better than ever and the fat is melting off. I am documenting everything and reading up on fat loss like a mad-man. I will be sharing all of this at the seminar this April. Keep working hard and put this stuff to use!
As I write this at the end of the Michigan State drumming of Michigan (In case you didn’t know I am a huge Spartans fan!) and shortly before the Super Bowl, I was reflecting on greatness. You will see it in today’s Superbowl i.e.-Tom Brady, a man that wasn’t supposed to get drafted let alone become a superstar. But nobody told Brady…
I get emails and questions all the time about how to ‘do your own’ thing and open a successful gym like I have when I was told it couldn’t be done or how I am ‘lucky’. The thing is, you have to realize that nearly everyone you meet or know wants to be great, but just like the 1% rule in all things, 99% will never move past the start line.
I have some athletes that bust their ass every single time they are in the gym. I have Alpha Males that destroy their workouts and bring a ferocity to the workout that you won’t see in ‘globe gym’. Not surprisingly, they also bring this same focus to their nutrition, business, family and school work.
I have ‘competitor’ gyms opening up all around me, some of them ‘globo’ style and some of them ‘copycats’. They aren’t competitors at all. I could give them my exact blueprints for business and workouts and I still wouldn’t be worried. Because….I know that they all want to be great, but they won’t put the work in that I do or have the drive that I do.
If you want to achieve great things, you need to put your heart and soul into ‘it’ every single day. I constantly invest and spend on my education and mentoring when others tell me its a waste. Keep telling me that, I’ll keep advancing. People that want to be great in one thing usually have that alpha mentality where they want to be great in all things.
Look how many things Schwarzenegger became great at. ‘Dumb jock’ didn’t hold him back at all. Maybe this mindset goes back to my serious bodybuilding days, maybe its inborn. Maybe I am trying to make up for never making it in ‘basketball’, maybe not. Come to think of it, I spent hour upon hour during hot summer days shooting 500 jumpers per day, paying my neighbor to rebound for me.
How badly do you want to be great? Is it just lip service? Do you really want to be great at whatever it is you do? I won’t rest until I am great which will never fully be realized. This week I challenge you to dare to be great!
Update on the State of My Health Journey
I will take the night off and ‘enjoy’ and join everyone else in this Super Bowl Holiday tonight. I am down to an even 234, body fat is down another percent and I feel great! Tomorrow starts the regime with my own Coach, John Meadows. I am psyched to get started with him and pack on some more muscle while stripping some serious body fat.
Also, if you are interested, I will be holding a ‘closed door’ seminar this April all about fat-loss. Much of this cannot be found in any text-book or from any other expert. I am down to 12 spots left…