I have been busy in the last couple of weeks. I have my clients I am training, and the basketball team is well underway for the season soon we will be in conference play and then it will really get serious. I noticed that there has been a theme between the two. Right now I have a couple of clients working on Fat loss and I have basketball team that is busting their butts to get a win( 0-5 right now). I tell both that if they don’t get results right away then  they shouldn’t hang their heads down. Keep working hard and the results(Wins) will come.  The saying is that it is not how you start it is how you finish. My fat loss clients may not lose a pound one week then the next lose 4 lbs. It is all about staying the course. Same thing with basketball if you do what your suppose to do and take care of the details the wins will come.  My team is young so it may take a little while for them to grasp that concept because  they’re still looking at the big picture. I will say that if you are trying to make a change in your life either weight loss, muscle gain,  anything in life. It will not be instant. Weight loss is not as pretty as they media makes it out to be. It is a long grueling process that can take up to years to get to your final goal. Only the few who want those results will get to their final goal. Persistence is the Key to success  

Walking alone is not Enough

Walking alone is not Enough
Many Americans believe that 30mins of walking a week is enough exercise to keep them living long healthy lives. These are the same people that will most likely to have problems later on in life.  If you believe that 90 minutes of exercise a week will correct sitting on the couch/chair for 80 hours a week then you will have some serious problems.  The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise per week. Over the course of seven days those 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 5 days a week.  Surely running is more than enough to help me keep healthy. If you think that is true then you’re are greatly mistaken.  What about keeping Strength, power, and bone density up? What do you do then? You have to add in Strength Training.  World Class runners don’t just run every day they perform strength training to help prevent injuries from occurring. Resistance training has two main goals. The first goal is to help the athlete get stronger. The second goal is to help prevent injuries. Injuries occur through trauma or overuse.  To keep yourself resilient against gravity and the world around us it is very important to add resistance training to your exercise routine.

ACSM guidelines are 2-3 days a week of resistance exercise that is a minimum of 8 different exercises between 2-4 sets of 8-15 repetitions on each exercise.  So you will have to add another 30-40mins to your workout.  In total your workouts should last at minimum and 1hour (that and 1 hour of work time not leisure time).  Muscles have three functions in terms of movement. To cause movement (concentric contraction) such as bending your elbow, and to slowly resist movement (Eccentric Contraction) To slowly let your elbow bend while resisting the weight and To resist movement at all( Isometric) Holding a box and not allowing the move cause of weight.  Most people do not get hurt moving the body. Where most injuries occur is when people try to resist movement.  Resisting movement causes a greater force to be placed on our muscles and tendons due our mechanical disadvantage of our levels in our body.  Lifting weights and keeping Lean body mass will better your chance to resist those eccentric forces that occur on a daily basis.
To be honest in my opinion I believe that people should do more weight training than running. This is my reason for claim. Most people don’t run or bike to work. The typical day is get out bed walk to kitchen table sit and eat walk to car sit and drive.  Walk to your desk and sit and work. Then leave work go home and sit and watch tv, eat and go to bed. Now if you were to add running 30 minutes to your day you would make significant improvements to your cardiovascular system.  You may also build some lean mass in your legs from the running that you’re doing. Besides the recreation running you don’t do much running elsewhere unless it’s your occupation. On the other hand you perform yard work, lifting and moving furniture, and other various physical activities that may require bending, carrying, and climbing. Does running alone help you perform those activities? Not really because when you’re running you performing the same motion over and over. Which doesn’t correlate with bending or climbing weight training on the other hand forces people to move in positions that they may not be in on a regular basis? Not to mention will help improve muscular strength and endurance.  Parker et al study took a group of 60-77 year old women tested them on a submaximal walking test(2mph at 3.5% elevation) and weight carrying walking( carry a weight at 40% maximum elbow flexion strength) test. They recorded VO2, heart rate (HR) Systolic Blood Pressure (SBP), and Rate Pressure Product (RPP). Placed the group on a 16 week whole body strength training program.(3 days a week 1 hour per session) Then tested again. They say 57% increase in isotonic strength and 29% increase in isometric strength.  No change in VO2 max but significant decreases in HR, SBP and RPP while perform the walking test and Weight carry test.  Not only did the women improve their strength to prevent injury. Their ability to use oxygen became more efficient as well.  Not to mention as well when performing strength training people will work on full range of motion which is important for keep good flexibility and mobility of the joints.  So with older people especially it is very important that they perform strength training to keep muscle strong and bones dense.  As you age strength training becomes more and more important as you age.  Remember the goal of strength training is to help prevent injuries.  Younger people especially women have a fear of lifting weight s because they don’t want to get bulky.  Honestly that is like saying you don’t want to read because you are afraid of becoming a genius. It takes a lot of work to put on lean body mass most athletes work an entire year to put on 5- 10lbs of mass. So if your 3 workouts a week will not make your bulky unless it is in your genes. The fear of getting to big has long been debunk also most people are not willing to put in the amount of time to put on more muscle.

All in all Strength training is very vital for a healthy life I believe that everyone needs to incorporate some form of Strength training. It will help improve your quality of life and help prevent injuries from occurring as you age.  Walking or jogging is not enough keeping strength and lean body mass is very important for keeping you independent  and out of the retirement home


Goodbye Workouts

If you really love working out and you want to be successful in the business then maybe becoming a strength coach may not be the field for you to go into. As time goes on I notice that I keep getting more and more work.  As the work load continues to increase I find that there is less and less time free time for me to workout. When I first starting thinking I wanted to be trainer and fitness person I thought it will be a great profession. I get to train people help them get better and achieve their goals.  Since I will be in the gym also I don’t have to worry about getting in a workout . You will find that you will have less and less time to workout yourself.  Most of your workouts will be within an hour time mostly HIIT sets and Tabata protocol on elliptical and treadmills.  Some trainers have very good clients that you can workout with in order to help keep a good timing on rests. But if you have a client that is new to exercise then your attention is needed at all times to make sure that they don’t hurt themselves.  So now you’re at a cross roads I want to workout but I can’t workout because I have to watch my clients and make sure that they are getting in a safe and effective workout and that takes all my attention.  Now you start to realize that hey this is no longer about me. It is about the people who hire me to watch them and make sure that they are performing everything safe.  So now you have a decision to make either take fewer clients, or put aside time for your own workouts.  Taking fewer clients to make sure you’re in good physical shape may not be a bad option for those with a steady income. The other choice is to add in another client to your schedule make a little more cash and throw your workouts to wind( or any 30 min window you can get.)  That is why when I look at older Strength Coaches and trainers I now understand why some are out of shape( well out of shape is relative most  health and Fitness people are usually in better shape than the general population).  I think there needs to be a balance. If you are young and starting out then you need to look the part like you’re in shape.  Because you’re trying to build a reputation and clientele base so look the Part. If you been in the business a while then you should have a reputation and a pretty good clientele base. Most likely you are very busy with work and working out will be the last thing on your list to do.  So I know for certain if a trainer is busy working his health may decline just like everyone else who work in different fields.  So now I will have to block off time in schedule for my own workouts because I love working out. 


In my Gym Bag: Valslides

In my Gym Bag: Valslides
This week I want to write an article about things that I carry with me to the gym. One of the tools that I carry in my bag is a pair of Valslides. Valslides are plastic disk with a little bit of foam padding.  They slide on just about every surface (indoors) they work very well on turf and carpet.  The Valslides will make a stable surface unstable and therefore will force people to stabilize the limb throughout the movement. The Valslides are a pretty cheap tool roughly 30 dollars online. I honestly feel that I have gotten more than my 30 dollars’ worth of use out of them. It is a fantastic tool to have in your own personal gym or to use when training clients. I will go over some exercises that you can do with the Valslides but if you are creative you will be able to come up with some interesting exercises.

Upper Body Exercises.
Push up with Single arm Slide out. This is a push up variation. It will help increase the difficulty of the exercises and also help train people for the single arm push up. I also so see the arm slide out as a moving plank exercises as well.

Single and Double arm Chest Fly. This is a very good variation of Chest fly. If you do not have access to dumbbells and lord forbid Chest fly machine (can’t believe I typed that). This is a great variation to that exercise.  On the single arm while performing a push up the arm on the Valslide will perform a chest fly. This is a great exercise for isolating the chest muscles. Once your mastered single arm Chest Fly you can move to the Double arm Chest Fly. The double Chest Fly will work on Shoulder stability through the motion.

Lower Body Exercises 

Reverse Lunge on Valslide. This is probably my favorite posterior chain on the Valslide. If you goal is to get quicker and faster I highly recommend.  Remember running and sprinting is a pulling exercise not a pushing exercise. This reverse lunge works the hamstrings and Glutes in the same fashion as running. It is a fantastic exercise.

Valslides Lateral Lunge.  If you don’t have access to a slide board the valslide is the next best thing.  Place your foot on a valslide. Now slide your foot outward sideways as far as you can. Now return to standing. This is a great exercise to work the adductors of the legs. I know believe that athletes don’t work their adductors enough.


Body Saw
The body saw is like a moving plank. You want to start in the plank position with your feet on the Val slides. Now with your arms push your body back and pull forward continue until reps are completed. It is a variation to Abs rollout.

Mountain climbers on Valslides
Assume the mountain climber position on the ground on hands and feet. Take the Valslide pucks and place them under your feet. Now keep your back straight and butt down perform mountain climbers without bouncing up and down. You don’t have to worry about lifting your foot off the ground.   Mountain climbers are very good for the Hip flexors.

Hopefully with the information provided you are willing to give Valslides a try or look to include them into training bag.

Life is a Bell curve

As I am about to come up on my first full year without school I began to notice a lot in the world. The biggest thing I have notice is that the bell curve still applies to just about everything. The one topic in particular is the abilities of trainers. I have had the chance to visit and talk to many trainers from different walks of life. Each bring something unique to the table. But i still notice that even in the same facility trainers will still stay true to the bell curve. I find that trainers that share the same certifications will have completely different skill levels when dealing with clients. I see one trainer who walks his clients from machine to machine and basically becomes a human rep counter. The other will take a similar client and teach them how to use free weights. I can’t say which is wrong or right because sometimes you won’t be able to do a lot of exercises due to limitations(personally lean towards teaching clients how to move properly). How can a professional who have the same certifications perform exercises that are detrimental to their client. I guess I haven’t been in the business long enough to understand why those trainer decide that it’s important to take their clients money like that. I guess it shocks me because I expect better from professionals in this field but I guess people will always fall under the bell curve.

When its gone

I read a quote the other day that got me thinking ” People don’t start worrying about their Health until they lose it” Those words for some reason speak volumes to me.  It goes along those same quote you don’t realize how important something is until its gone.  I can say that I have been just like everyone else in this world. All my friends see me as the health nut. I eat healthy I work out everyday I try to do things that will help make me healthier, or keep my body going smoothly. Before I was known as the health nut that I am today I was just like everyone else. Granted I played basketball and kept myself very active with a lot of sports and activities but I never was into the whole health kick until Things begin to change. 

I was in my junior year in  college and I was doing OK school wasn’t really a stellar student just did enough to get by with my classes I would study the material and do the minimum to pass the test. My main concentration was on basketball. That summer I had played on the Panama National Team and had played in some games and contributed a little bit to the team. When I got back to school I thought I was top dog and that I was going to have a breakout season. I was in the best shape of my college career and everything was looking good. Then 2 game into the season I strained my groin during warms ups. That ended up putting me out of action for a couple of games. Then I came back and played a game against Richmond did sub par  probably because I was out of shape.  Then the week after I landed on a teammates foot and messed up my knee. Of course being the hard-headed knuckle head that I am I did not tell anyone. So I continued to play on a hurt knee. By the time game comes around My knee is swollen and the pain is unbearable.  Come to find out I had torn my meniscus. The training staff asked me to stay off it for about two to three weeks which I did. On the reassessment it had not gotten any better.  So I had surgery scheduled to help remove the damaged cartilage.  Just like that my season was over. My dream breakout season gone.  So started back at square one with rehab and getting back so that I could play without pain.  I will fast forward a bit and say that was the most depressing time of my life.  You go from being top dog to bottom rung in a couple of months.  Anyway well Senior year comes and I thought that it would be my redemption year. The last senior push well long story short I ended up  dislocating my shoulder and hairline fracture in my foot. I had already used my red shirt year with the meniscus tear so basically it was another wasted year. For someone who never had problems before in their life(other than asthma) I was wondering why I was constantly getting hurt. Well I graduated from William and Mary and decided to transfer to Augusta State University. I had one more year of eligibility and decided to play my final year there and get started on my Graduate studies.

Now I was in a new environment with new coaches, new teammates. I was enjoying myself my coach when I first got there looked at me and was like I need you to lose at least twenty pounds. Of course I looked at him crazy he said that I was too heavy to play ball and that I needed to lose weight. He sent me to Dr. Wish the head of the Kinesiology department and Registered Dietitian. She gave me a meal plan that I needed to follow and that I needed to start taking care of my body more.  At first I was bummed out but, these were the rules that were set in at this place. I ended up losing the weight and a little more(2lbs more) I felt great nothing hurt no knees, ankles, shoulders, or hips. I started eating a lot more fruits and vegetables I started to become a lot more health conscious.  I had the best season of my college career. I was voted First team all conference. My team did very well broke school records for most wins in a single season. My life had turned around dramatically.  When I started to eat and take care of my body I felt better, I performed better. It was one less stress that I had to worry about. For two years I was so worried about whether my body was going to hold that day or not. Now it was gone. Now I have finished my masters and I have chosen to help people regain their health.  I had to suffer for more than two years to realize that if you take care of yourself good things will happen. If you wait until something traumatic happens then it is already too late.   People don’t develop diabetes or hypertension over night. It is a process that has been building up for a long time then eventually it reaches a breaking point.

If you can make changes in your life to will make you healthier why hesitate.  There is a lot of information on the internet about proper nutrition( and bad nutrition) and if

Tough Mudder 2012
ToughMudder 2012

you can’t distinguish between the good and bad go see someone who knows. Talk ask questions. Get some exercise regularly. Make smart choices in life you only have one body and you it should be in your best interest to keep it running properly.  A lot of people take their health for granted and end up biting the bullet later in life.

Short Article by Pat Britton

Strong For a Girl

Pat Britton

I’m sure this will offend some of the well-meaning, well-respected college strength & conditioning coaches on this site – rest assured this isn’t directed at any of you! Actually, I guess this is less of an article than it is actually a voicing (typing) of frustrations. So even if it never shows up on the site at least one person had to read it and share even if only momentarily in my frustrations!

We’ve all heard it said at some point in our lives, most of you have probably even uttered the profanity in the title of this article. While I think that fewer and fewer people actually verbalize “strong for a girl” anymore (the phrase sends chills down my spine), it seems at times the phrase is still being embodied in the programming and expectations for female athletes.

For the better part of the last 11 years I have worked mostly with female athletes. Everything from basketball to squash, field hockey to softball. But for the last 7 years, my “niche” and passion has been women’s lacrosse. My athletes’ successes have in large part been due to the incredible resources and access to the minds of the great people on this site – or as I tell my athletes and their parents If I have been able to see further than others, it is only because I have stood on the shoulders of giants. So thank you for being my “giants”! To say I love my job is an understatement. My main professional goal is to be thought of as the “Mike Boyle of Women’s Lacrosse”! Now as much fun as my job is, once my girls hit the collegiate ranks… the fun pretty much ends. Girls that in the summer can:

– RFESS 175 for 8

– Single leg squat BW plus 60lbs

– Hang clean 125 for 3

– Perform 5 chins with 25 lbs

– Perform 8 inverted rows with a 40lb vest

– Run sub 55 second 300 yd shuttles

And they do this all while having no joint issues and feeling great. Unfortunately time and time again they come back to us in shambles. They go back to school and…

– No more single leg training (backsquats and barbell deadlifts instead, as well as calve raises & seated leg curls – apparently those exercises still exist in a college weightroom)

– No horizontal pulling (no seriously, in some programs I’ve seen I mean NONE!)

– No chopping/lifting movements and no anti-rotation/anti-extension work (400-800 crunches a week is the preferred tool often times)

– Hang cleans for “reps” and never more than 55lbs

– No chin ups or pull-ups – but they are encouraged to use the chin assist machine for 15 reps.

– In fact everything seems to be rather high reps!

Apparently, they don’t want to “bulk up”. Even if you’re not a fan of single leg training, how do YOU feel after 5 months without doing a pull-up, inverted row, chop, lift, Pallof Press, roll-out, etc.??? Well I can tell you how my girls feel: their backs hurt, their knees hurt, they have hamstring strains, and they lose unbelievable amounts of strength. They figuratively, and literally, limp to the end of the season. Sounds like fun right? I wish I could say that this was an isolated incident, but I assure you I train girls from several of the top 20 teams in the country (including a couple in the top 5) and there is little difference between their programming.

Now I (and all of you I’m certain) am no fan of this type of program in its design, its movement choices, etc. But the biggest issue I have: the expectations. I won’t speculate as to the “philosophy” behind this type of program, but I believe it’s safe to say that they don’t have very high expectations for their athletes. As Coach Boyle had said in an ACL reduction seminar a couple years ago in Winchester, MA: the expectations for strength and power for female athletes is appaulingly low. I couldn’t agree more. I have an 8 year-old daughter and one of the best things about what I get to do is show her that girls can be incredibly strong, phenomonally explosive, insanely athletic, and dominate on the field. She knows I don’t baby them, she knows that I and they believe the things they can do are limitless, and in turn she will start to realize that she can do the same. I don’t know, maybe it’s different for coaches that don’t have daughters. Fortunately, I have an 8 year-old daughter – and several teenagers and 20 year-olds that I think of like daughters. So coaches, next time you prescribe a chin assist to an athlete (who just happens to be a girl) maybe instead ask them “How many chin ups can you do?” Or even”how much extra weight do you need?”. Drop the assist, raise the bar, and raise your expectations. You see it’s not just our job to get them strong, it’s our job to help them realize how much stronger they can be.

Forward Lunge vs Reverse Lunge

Now this is a little issue that has been on my mind for about the last week or so. The forward lunge vs the Reverse lunge. Two exercises that look very similar on the surface but target different muscles in the legs. Now if you were to tell someone  they will look at you like you’re crazy. IT is the same motion just one stepping forward the other stepping backwards.  But lets look at in-depth

Forward Lunge
 The Forward lunge from a standing position you want to step forward which will cause center of gravity to go forward as well when your front foot hits the ground your glutes, Hamstring, and quadriceps will contract eccentrically to slow your momentum hip stabilizers will fire to keep the knee in line.  As you descend down you will get more glutes and hamstring activation especially if you are pushing through your arch to heel on your front foot. Towards the bottom end of the movement you will get more glutes  and hamstring activation. On the concentric portion of the movement most of the work is through quadriceps. The last bit of the movement is knee extension. Think about when you’re doing dynamic lunges(alternating lunges) you have to kick a little with your front leg to get you back to the standing position. What major muscles are responsible for knee extension? The answer is quadriceps.  Many people usually don’t go the full range of motion in the Lunge and that is why they really feel the burn in the quads because they stay in the range were quad activation in greater. Even in the picture I believe the woman can go even further down and have her back knee touch the ground.  Front Lunges will target your quads better than Reverse lunges.

Reverse Lunges
 Lets take a look at the Reverse Lunge it start the same way as the Front long instead of stepping forward you take a step backwards.  First thing you notice is that you body starts to move in reverse. Second thing you notice is that it is a slightly slower movement. Let think about it for a second with the forward lunge you are shifting the weight from the back leg to the front. In the reverse lunge the weight doesn’t shift in the beginning instead the support leg( the leg that did not step back) has to control your body weight and lower you through the motion. As you lower yourself though the motion your glutes and hamstrings are engage immediately  to help lower yourself down.  You lower until your knee touches the ground then you stand back up. The up motion is completely different from the front lunge  The front lunge ended up being a pushing motion. The reverse lunge on the way back up is a pulling motion through the hip.  You are pulling yourself forward, it basically the same motion when your running and walk.  Hip extension is controlled by the glutes and Hamstrings.  Some people will argue that you push-off the back the back leg to get forward. Yes there is some help with a push to help get your momentum forward but I will argue that your hips are more involved in a reverse lunge than the front lunge. Why do you think women who want to tone they hips and buttocks do reverse lunges over front lunges.  IF you still don’t believe me grab some dumbbells and do a couple of sets of reverse lunges and tell me what hurts 2 days later. I bet it will be your glutes.


If you’re trying to make a decision between forward and reverse lunges it will depend on what muscles(movements) you’re trying to target.  If you’re going for a knee dominate  quadriceps movement go with the Forward lunge. If you are looking more Posterior chain movement then I suggest the Reverse lunge  it will hit your hamstring and glutes more.

My impressions of Wendler’s 5/3/1 program

In the last couple of weeks I have been very busy with my job and research that I am doing to help improve myself.  I also have switched gears from a long distance endurance athlete to power and strength. I have currently been doing Wendler’s 5/3/1 lifting program. I have been on the program for about three weeks. and It’s just like Wendler says it is the simplest and most effective program for strength gain. This is my thought on the program so far. I think it is a great program but you must have some experience in the weight room first before you begin the program. The reason why I say that is that there is little to know program for assistance work. For example I am doing the 5/3/1 for the Big lifts(Bench Press, Squat, Dead lift, Military Press). Each day is a lift in which the program followed by assistance work depending on what your goals. I chose to stay as athletic as possible. So the assistance work for the program would say on Bench day 75 x BW( Body weight) chin ups & 75 x BW push ups.  There is no specific set rep scheme for the chin ups or  push-ups. People who don’t have any idea on how to program will be able to develop a plan to to make sure they are achieving the assistance work. Other than that the main lifts will take a lot of effort and give you plenty of room to push yourself on open sets. Once you get done with the main lift you feel very accomplish. Now the program runs in 4 week cycles and you will have to max out at the end of each cycle( 1 week is a deload week which will allow you to recover.) If you are an advance lifter and you are looking for strength gains I completely recommend the Wendler’s 5/3/1 for strength gains. If your not sure in how to program assistance exercises in the program then you can find someone to help youImage

Chill out Man

As you go through your workouts day after day you start to lose some motivation. Now there can be a number of reasons why this happens it could be your diet,  boredom( or tired of doing the same exercises) or it could be that things are happening in your life. Eventually you find your yourself constantly trying to amp yourself up before a work. Constantly trying to get your juices going before your work out. Now this constant amping yourself has made you good at preparing yourself for the workout but what about after the workout? Can you also teach yourself how to relax?  Teaching your self how to relax is a very underrated skill. The constant abuse that we put our body through on a daily basis can cause the body to break down. Muscle tissue, ligaments, tendons, nervous system, bones, and the rest of your body is put under stress from all the physical activity. There are times in which we have to give our selves time to recover, heal, and rebuild. If you constantly in a hyped ready to tackle the day mood. You’re putting your body under stress. Chronic stress will do a lot of damage to your body with time. That is why I tell my clients that they need to practice how to relax. Some of my friends who are great basketball players and athletes can tell their mind and body to relax at the drop of a hat.  It is a skill that has kept their bodies healthy. Being able to turn you body off will help decrease Cortisol levels and allow the body to go into repair mode. It is very important to schedule time for relaxation and rest. It is just as important as working out and without rest how do you expect your body to rebuild to make improvements.