Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Creating A Shared Reality

Olympic lifting is the best way to develop power. (Stated as a fact)

vs. these options:

I think Olympic lifting is the best way to develop power.

I think Olympic lifting is one of the best ways to develop power.

Olympic lifting is one possibility for developing power.


We are more powerful because of our use of the Olympic lifts. (Stated as knowing causation)

vs. these options:

We've become more powerful in the lower body from the Olympic lifts.

We've become more powerful in the lower body from the Olympic lifts, as our measurements by vertical jump indicate.

Olympic lifts are part of our program, which as a whole, has been successful in enhancing our vertical jump ability, indicating some changes in lower body power.

Some people might think the above sentences are just semantics, but I believe, very strongly, that the language we use is one of the major problems in the field of athletic development. I feel that we could have much more civil discourse, if we simply acknowledged that most of what we say is opinion (this includes the "experts"). There are very few, if any, eternal facts or absolute truths. Not one coach or scientists holds the "holy grail" of making people faster, stronger, bigger, leaner, and better.
This is one area I am trying to get better at with my writing - to use more clear language as it relates to my direct experience. It will doubtfully allow me to sell anything, as it is hard to market anything saying "This might work for you", but the honest truth is that everything is relative, and the answers are almost always, "it depends". What it does allow though, is a shared reality from which to begin a conversation or debate.

Even if some method might have made a positive impact, or a program was associated with someone winning a championship or medal, this does not imply that it will work for everyone or anyone else... nor does it deem that the method or program was the only possible history that could have led to similar outcomes. Along with many possible causal variants, there are just as many outcome variations, that can be considered a success. Life, in general, is a dynamical system, and chaos is something we all must deal with.

For some, this might take the fun out of trying to be 'right', and it certainly has made my quest to become a guru much more challenging.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thrive or Die

What happened to training like this in professional sports? I am not asking specifically on the Olympic lifts, but aggressive methods (sprints, jumps, agility, throwing, demanding conditioning, intense strength training) that maintain and enhance an athlete's athletic capabilities, structure, and internal chemistry.

Million dollar bodies? Don't push them?

They are just athletic bodies, yet mortal like the rest of us. For most human beings, after the age of 25 the body begins it's slow decline in function towards death. Ironically, the general population is being told that vigorous exercise is the key to maintaining and improving health and vitality against aging, yet I hear of many professional athletes not training as hard because of the 'wear and tear' of pro sport. I get it, but also, could this mindset be a liability?

I understand training must change and evolve as an athlete ages, but moving vigorously is still the name of the game for many sports, and the principle of reversibility still applies (especially with the slippery slope of aging). The body is not a machine and ultimately break down with use. The right use should build the body up, especially to meet the demands of the game... so goes the principle of specificity.

If any athlete is not prepared or willing to train aggressively, then they must accept it that they will likely be sidelined by injury, or be overcome by an up and coming young hot shot. The way I see it, career success and longevity is just as much about being careful as it is being aggressive.

How about some of the previous generation athletes? Are there still athletes like Jerry Rice, in pro sports? Anybody pushing the envelope? Or just pussyfooting?

Rice Works for Hours And Defies the Years

"It is 7 o'clock and the early-morning clouds have produced a hard, steady rain. Still, the thought of canceling the first half of the daily morning workout doesn't even enter the mind of Jerry Rice.

On this day, five people have chosen to work out with him, to get a taste of one of the most legendary and rigorous workout routines in professional sports, one that normally lasts from four to five hours...

... After running through the rain, Rice makes the five-minute drive in his Mercedes to Fitness 101, a health club about 20 minutes from Candlestick Park. It is Jane Fonda's dream, with just about every piece of exercise equipment imaginable. Rice doesn't waste time and attacks the weights.

And that's what he does -- attack. For about two and one-half hours, Rice works out just about every muscle group there is on the body. He goes through about 15 different exercises, everything from the bench to shoulder shrugs. There are few breaks. The only time he slows down is to laugh at the writer trying to keep up with him.

It is about 11 A.M., and four hours after the workout began, he is done. Well, almost. To end the day, he does the StairMaster for 45 minutes.

The workouts are the key to Rice's longevity and endurance. They are brutal because they are so long. And there is no question that they pay off. When he sprinted up the middle and outran the San Diego secondary for his first touchdown in Super Bowl XXIX, he felt the accelerators kick in. When he separated his shoulder only to return to the game and then actually run over a Chargers player, that's when the weight training came in.

"I never have an easy day," he said, "because there is never an easy day when the playoffs begin."

It is what Rice says now -- sitting on a bench with ice draped around his shoulder -- that may symbolize the man more than anything. "I have to fight for everything," said the man who came out of Mississippi Valley State, a Division II school. "I always have. I have to prepare myself every year. There is always some young guy who thinks he can take me. And then when the day is done, he realizes he can't."

I also highly recommend checking out this video too (the entire video!). It was not by off-seasons of therapy and rehab alone that made Jerry Rice who he was...

Or Walter Payton: "I try to kill myself."
As Al Vermeil has said:
Aggressive and explosive training (with intelligence) is preventative and therapeutic (and anabolic). So is sleep and eating right.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013


I was cleaning (no pun) out my old video files... so I thought I would post some of a few soccer and volleyball athletes performing cleans.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Multi-Sport Foundations

This is the story I was told from a great conversation I had with Chris Stoks, an athlete who I've had the pleasure to work with as member of the track team at UND. Chris was a three-sport athlete in high school, playing hockey, football, and track. I asked him to write up a summary of the story and send to me to share (I didn't trust myself to paraphrase the conversation):

Chris: "This was told to me my junior year of high school hockey in the locker room when deciding whether to skip football my senior year to concentrate on hockey…

My high school hockey coach played hockey and football at the University of Minnesota-Duluth during the late 70's.  With 1980 right around the corner, he knew he would have a chance to make the Olympic roster for the 1980 Olympic hockey team.  Because of the Olympics being only a year away, he decided to concentrate on hockey and making the (1980 USA) team.  So he didn't end up going out for football in the fall to put more focus towards hockey.  Well, when the time for the tryouts rolled around, Herb (Brooks) and he had talked about a chance to try-out for the team.  Herb had known my coach from recruiting when coaching at the University of Minnesota and knew he was a two-sport athlete.  Soon after the conversation started, Herb had asked my coach if he went out for football this past fall.  My coach replied that he didn't… Herb stopped and told him to not even try out for the team because he would not select him - because he didn't go out for football in the fall.  Herb didn't only look for great hockey players, he looked for overall great athletes."

The story of the 1980 USA hockey team is a fabulous one... but not a miracle, as it's often referred to. Herb Brooks's assembly and preparation of that team was very calculated, and his great coaching mind was obviously not short on insight into the potency of the multi-sport athlete.