Archive for August, 2009

Top Gyms in America

Posted in Uncategorized on August 14, 2009 by mboyle1959

Sorry, I can’t help but brag. Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning was named one of the Top Ten Gyms in America by Mens Health  I just want to thank all our staff and all our clients for making MBSC such a unique place to train. If you are in the Boston area and aren’t already a client please stop by. Our fall session starts in a few weeks and we are always taking new personal training clients.

MBSC Internship with Sam Leahey: “Don’t Count The Days, Make The Days Count!” – Making the Most of Your Experiences

Posted in Guest Authors, Random Thoughts, Training, Youth Training on August 13, 2009 by mboyle1959

     Have you ever looked back on a time in your life and said to yourself “Man, I really could have gotten more out of that,” or “I wish I didn’t take that experience for granted,”  “That time flew bye, I wish I would have. . .?” Well, coming into this internship I knew I’d only have 12 weeks to morph into the ultimate Mike Boyle disciple, so I planned ahead of time and sought out every opportunity available at MBSC. Furthermore, I wanted to do more than an average intern; I wanted to get my hands dirty in everything possible.

“Don’t Count The Days, Make The Days Count!” – Anthony Morondo

Anthony

Ant (aka Armadillo), the motivator at MBSC 

     That quote was so inspirational for me that I wanted to devote an entire blog to it. Below is an account of how I’m making this summer count instead of just counting how many more 62 hour work weeks are left. I decided to articulate my personal experience so future interns can be advised on how to make the most of their experience. Also, fellow Mike Boyle followers can gain insight into partial life of Mike Boyle The Great! I think my thoughts might benefit future up and coming coaches across the board as well as any coach out there who follows Mike Boylism.

Taking the Initiative in Your Coaching Career

     The normal routine of a strength & conditioning intern in any setting, be it collegiate or in the private sector, is usually to observe first and coach second. This process for some may take a week or nearly half the semester or summer term. For me, I didn’t want to sit there as a newbie intern and just wait for the head coach to say “Hey, kid, you wanna lead the group?” Call me impatient, but I think it’s better to learn from trial and error rather than observatory silence in most cases. So, I gave it one full day of just watching everyone coach, and first group the next morning I asked the head coach if I could lead the group. Taken back with such a request, he looked at me hesitantly at first and then must have decided I couldn’t screw things up too bad.

     Of course, the first training session I led went HORRIBLY! I sucked it up like a pro. I found myself over articulating everything to the athletes and spending five minutes talking about why ankle mobility is important. So much so that Coach Dan head to step back in and take control. That disaster was a humbling experience. Thing is though, the next day I mustered up the courage to ask if I could lead the same group again! The head coach looked at me with a smile and simply nodded. I guess he subscribed to the same trial and error philosophy I do. When the athletes saw me coming I’m sure they said to themselves, “Here comes this over ambitious intern again. He probably won’t last 15 minutes!” This time around, I cut down the volume of words I spoke and was much more succinct with my cues. Though still a rocky boat at times, the workout flowed much better than my first experience with the new strategy in place. Coach Dan only had to step in a few times to get things moving again. By day three, I was entirely on my own. The head coach liked my attitude towards coaching, and believe it or not, would give me control of the group AND THEN WALK AWAY AND WATCH FROM A DISTANCE! Afterward he’d come back and tell me how I could have been more efficient, when I talked too much, and what coaching cues would have worked better.

     Needless to say by the end of summer the head coach didn’t even bother to show up because he knew I could “hold it down” on my own. Getting thrown in the fire early is a good thing, especially when it comes to coaching. I progressed quicker in my coaching competency when I took the initiative and threw myself in the fire first instead of waiting for an invitation to get burned.

Working on Your Weaknesses

    Anyone who’s a strength & conditioning coach knows that you’re not always in charge of every athlete 24/7. Even if you’re the head strength coach at a college, the assistant coach is leading his teams and you’re actually assisting him. Well, at MBSC there’s something called “floating.” As an intern you have periods throughout the day where you are assigned to “float” around the facility and help out where needed. In Sam Leahey’s mind, “floating” actually meant “figure out what I suck at and go learn how to coach it better!” With this definition in mind I made a list of things I could tell right away needed work on and here it is:

  1. Coaching Olympic Lifts
  2. Coaching Movement Drills (crossovers, shuffles, ladder drills, stance & start work)
  3. Developing Coaching Cue Progressions for athletes based on their training age
  4. . . . and a few more that I can’t think of right now

So, during my first “floating” period I floated my way over to the platforms and spend a couple HOURS coaching nothing but Olympics lifts. After each group finished their lift, it was only a matter of moments before the next group behind them came in and starting doing their platform lifts. I coached group after group and paid attention to all the coaching cues every head coach was giving. So it should come as no surprise that by the end of my floating time my ability to coach a hang clean, snatch, etc. was night and day difference then when I first started. I made sure to hit up the platform area a couple more times throughout the summer also.

     As for #2 (movement drills) I walked over to the tennis court buildings we rent for our conditioning and movement drills and spent hours there as well. I found it really helpful to actually join in on some of the drills and let the other coaches coach me up! Furthermore, I would ask the head coach of the group if I could lead his/her athletes through the ladder drills for practice. Most coaches were fine with that and gave me some great constructive criticism afterwards. After this summer I definitely understand what Coach Boyle meant by just being a strength coach” and not knowing how to coach movement or conditioning. It’s very important to learn about all aspects of athleticism and be competent enough to teach them.

     Finally, I realized that teaching a first time 12-year old trainee how to bench press is different than teaching a college athlete with a training age of more than 2 years. Therefore, I thought it necessary to spend my next batch of floating hours near the benches, squat racks, and deadlift area. Here I found newbie lifters really needed to hammer away on the basics of lifting, whereas, the vet’s will benefit more from the smaller details of a particular lift. For example, things like “Wrist straight, pull the bar into your back!” on the squat is what I found myself telling the older athletes whereas the younger ones basically just needed to learn how to sit back during the descent. The same goes for other compound lifts like the bench press. My senior in college needed to worry about spreading the bar apart and pulling it down to his chest while keeping the elbows at 45 degrees. In contrast, the rookie lifter simply needed proficiency in keeping his/her feet on the floor and not wobbling all over the bench!

Getting Outside The Box . . . literally!

     As an MBSC intern the days can get long, the weeks even longer, and the months seem like an eternity for some. But as we already established, if you’re making the days count and not just counting the days, then you should have nothing to worry about. I realized this early on, and right away I thought of how I could branch out of my box at the Winchester MBSC facility. I heard Coach Boyle’s freshmen from the BU hockey team were arriving on campus for the summer, so I jumped on the opportunity to go there 3 times a week from 6-8AM and coach’em up. Immediately afterward I would drive straight to the MBSC facility and continue the rest of the workday there. This was such a great change of pace for me as a coach and really allowed me to see blatant comparisons between D1 athletes and the average high school athletes. I needed only say a few sentences before the national champ hockey players at BU did the exercise to perfection, in some cases even better than me! Then I’d drive over to MBSC and have to explain to an athlete 10 different ways the same idea before he finally understood and was able to perfect the technique.

     Next up, I asked if could do 1 or 2 days a week over at the North Andover MBSC facility (the main one is in Winchester MA). This was another great experience and a change of pace for me as a coach. The satellite facility in North Andover is only a quarter of the size of the main MBSC. Here, I learned how to work and be efficient in such a small area and how to keep control of a large group still. If any up and coming coach like myself is doing an internship, then I’d highly recommend you find out how many facilities a business has. See if you can spend time at a couple or a few that are very different. You’ll have a much better experience this way.

There’s More to it than Strength & Conditioning

     Lastly, I wanted to learn more than just strength and conditioning this summer. I yearned for more knowledge on the business side of things. I wanted to get inside the mind of Coach Boyle’s partner Bob Hanson, and look at MBSC through a different lens. In the private sector, the business perspective contrasts sharply with the training perspective. One day I might want to have my own training facility, so doing an interview with Bob seemed quite necessary. I asked him about what he thought was the best way to finance a strength & conditioning facility was to how separate should the business side of things be from the training side, as well as many more detailed questions. All in all, I walked away with a different opinion about opening my own training facility. It was a great long discussion. I’d encourage any young aspiring coach like myself who ponders the potential opening of his/her own training facility to first sit down with a business guy like Bob and take a long hard look at the other side of the coin. It’s not all about sets and reps and having the best training program!

Sam Leahey CSCS, CPT

Sam.Leahey@gmail.com

This Week on StrengthCoach.com

Posted in Uncategorized on August 11, 2009 by mboyle1959

First off, let me apologize. As is often the case I get articles sent in that are somewhat time sensitive. When I do, I often move articles to the next week. This was the case last week. I received another great piece from Carson Boddicker called The Perform Better Long Beach Awards.  This means we moved up Strength Coaches and Personal Trainers Unite by Joe Bonyai to this week. In addition to Carson’s article I also got a great review of the Summitt from MBSC alum and current Stanford Assistant Devan McConnell. One of the things I love about this site is all the great unsolicited stuff that just shows up in my in-box. So this week we have Devan’s article and Joe’s. Last up is Considerations and Training for Mixed Martial Arts by Dewey Neilsen. This is Dewey’s second MMA article for the site. Again a timely piece based on the forum activity on MMA training. Dewey always has great training insight and this article is more of the same.

 

PS- Remember, this is the lineup for the week. I get emails every week saying “I can’t find…” . The articles go up every day or every other day.

Video of the Week

I also messed up the order for Video of the week. Nick Tuminello’s Y-T-W_l series ran last week. The Shoulder Elevated Hip Lift will run either this week or next. In addition we have a video clip of 45 year old MBSC client Kristin Ward performing a one leg squat on an Airex Pad. We are adding this clip to our Female Strength section. Kristin is a wonderful example of what proper training will do.

 

Don’t forget to check out the StrengthCoach Podcast  at www.strengthcoachpodcast.com.  The podcast this week features a continuation of the Lumbar Flexion debate that has been so popular on the forum. 

Also make sure you check out www.strengthandconditioningwebinars.com. Anthony has archived  a bunch of webinars on the site so you learn any time day or night without ever leaving your house.

Hope you enjoy the week.

 

Michael

Advice from Dan John

Posted in Uncategorized on August 8, 2009 by mboyle1959

I mentioned Dan John’s book here a few weeks ago and wanted to mention it again. Never Let Go is a great read. Here is some more great advice from Dan:

• “Most of the advice you’re going to get out of me is simple stuff, but nobody does it! For example, everyone knows they should save some money, but take a look at how many broke people there are!”

• “The number one rule to being successful is showing up.” 

• Dan’s simple nutritional rules for athletes, weekend warriors, regular guys, and everyone else:

1. Protein with every meal

2. Fiber with every meal

3. Take your fish oils

4. Water should be your base beverage

• “One of the keys to being great at what you do (training) is that you have to understand that this is a long term investment. I’ve been in the game a long time, and to stay in it I’ve had to adopt this way of thinking, planning, and executing according to my goals.”

• “Look at your behaviors. Now, look at your goals. Do your behaviors match your goals?”

• “If your goal is to lose fat, what the hell are you doing out at the club at 1AM drinking with your buddies? If you want to beat me in the discus, you better practice throwing the discus!”

• Disclosure is making an honest assessment of what you have (skills, support group, equipment, etc.). If you have serious gaps, like not knowing how to squat or deadlift, take care of that today. Do you have a training partner? Someone you can rely on? This is one of your most underrated assets! Most people will rally up around you when you tell them you need help with a problem.

• Feedback can come in many forms, but two of the most valuable are:

1. Competing — You learn much more about yourself when you’re out on the field.

2. Before and after photos — These are yours to keep and they serve as a no-bull way to see your progress (or lack thereof).

• Keep the bars loaded and make training a habit. “I’ve got a gym in my garage and in my backyard. I call it the Murray Institute for Life Long Fitness — The MILF.”

• “The best model to help walk people through life’s journey is coaching. You call it whatever you want, but my sense of coaching is ‘walking together.'”

• “Make sure to pick good role models — you may just end up meeting them one day!”

• Try to uncover your blind spots.

• “I’ve come to some wonderful conclusions about myself after starting the Velocity Diet. I was blind to the fact that it was so easy to snack at random times of the day or drink too much alcohol. These blind spots of mine would have never come out into the light if it wasn’t for the V-Diet.”

• “After starting the V-Diet, I began to have erotic thoughts about hamburgers and lettuce!”

• “When you get to where you want to be, make sure to sit back and analyze the process. Focus on what you did right first, and what you could improve on next. Use your brain to be proactive and you’ll see how successful you can be.”

• “Most importantly, you need to have some fun. Enjoy yourself and reap what you sow.”

Buy Never Let Go, you’ll like it.

Never Stop Learning

Posted in Uncategorized on August 7, 2009 by mboyle1959

The following guest post was provided by my friend Pat Rigsby. You can get more info at www.patnick and jim.com

 

Last weekend at Perform Better I was once again
reminded of what separates the Elite from the
average.

Not only are guys like Mike Boyle, Alwyn Cosgrove,
Robert Dos Remedios, Jason Brown, Eric Cressey
and others speakers...

...they're also students. 

Same goes for industry superstars like Rachel Cosgrove,
Valerie Waters and a host of others.

They sit in on other's talks, taking notes - continuing to
learn.

They're passionate about what they do, they work hard
and they're always trying to get better.

So you need to ask yourself - are you doing what they're
doing? 

Are you studying, reading, testing and constantly
trying to get better at what you do - or are you
comfortable doing the same old stuff?

Are you going to events like Perform Better,
mentorships like the one the Cosgrove's host or
coming to Bootcamp Bootcamp?

If you're not you should be.

And while I know none of these are fr.ee - books,
DVDs, Seminars and Mentorships - the question isn't
really 'What does it cost me to attend?'

The question is 'What does it cost me if I don't?'

There's never been a book I've bought for $15 that
didn't at least make me $16 and no seminar that
didn't pay me back more than the cost to attend. 

But I'm pretty sure that not reading a few of the books
I've read or missing a few of the conferences we've
attended would have cost our businesses hundreds
of thousands...maybe more.

Start thinking about your business this way - the way
some of the highest achievers in the industry do - and
you can achieve the same type of results they do.

Dedicated to your success - 

Pat

P.S. - You have one more day to save $100 on
attending Bootcamp Bootcamp and based on what
some the success some of our bootcamp 'students'
are enjoying - the trip might be worth tens of
thousands to you;)  Enroll here: 

http://www.BootcampBootcamp.com

Perform Better Announces 2009-10 Seminar Dates

Posted in Uncategorized on August 5, 2009 by mboyle1959

Mark Your Calendars! The best in education is ready to go again next year. Keep an eye here for speakers and topics but, we are coming to a city near you. 


Dates and locations have been set for the 2010 Learn-By-Doing Seminars. Topics and online registration will be available in the coming months.

 

Dec. 5, 2009 – Fair Lawn, NJ

Jan. 9, 2010 – San Francisco, CA

Jan. 23, 2010 – Los Angeles, CA

Feb. 13, 2010 – Columbus, OH

March 20, 2010 – Boston, MA

April 17, 2010 – Phoenix, AZ

MBSC with Sam Leahey: The Best Coaches Don’t Live in “Internet Land”

Posted in Uncategorized on August 4, 2009 by mboyle1959

     Last week’s blog  was lighthearted, but this week a more serious matter comes to mind. I’ve gone through plenty of coaching experiences this summer and one epiphany that comes screaming out into the open and obliterates my little world is simply this: the best strength & conditioning coaches do NOT predominately reside on the internet. They’re actually spending most of their days training people! Though it sounds simplistic, the implications here are pretty profound. This idea stemmed out of a conversation I had with MBSC staff member Kyle Holland.

Kyle
Kyle Holland, a pretty big “big timer” at MBSC 

      Preceding this summer internship, one of my ideas in defining a “big time” coach was an individual whose reputation and influence was clearly seen in cyberspace through various mediums such as forums, e-products, articles, etc. I can honestly say now that I couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, I currently believe the opposite. My feeling is that the more one is known in cyberspace the more justified I am in being skeptical of their actual coaching competency. Now, before you turn into keyboard commando and start sending me hate mail, let me explain a little more.

      As an up-and-coming performance enhancement specialist (strength & conditioning coach if you’re older than 30) I LIVE on the internet. Every day I check the strengthcoach.com forums, the t-nation.com forums, and a few others, as well. I attempt to keep up with 20 blogs. These are just my online continuing education outlets. The more I read online, the more I post in forums, the more answers I get back, the more articles I dissect, the more I feel I “know” stuff. The truth is, I don’t know crap! I know that I don’t know crap because all the head knowledge I had went right out the window when I was put in charge of a large coed group of 15 year old hockey players. My understanding of the macrocycle and rationale for using Olympic lifts doesn’t mean jack if I can’t teach little out of shape Timmy to perform a hang clean. At first, I’ll be lucky if it looks half way decent given the amount of time it takes to perfect Olympic lifting technique. Furthermore, I can eloquently articulate the nuances of self-myofascial releases on some internet forum, but if I can’t get 14 year old little Susan into proper position to roll out her latissimus dorsi, then my internet dissertation means NOTHING!

      I love the experience I get from the strengthcoach.com forums. The sense of camaraderie on that site is above reproach. Constantly, there are knowledge bombs being dropped, and for young bucks like me it’s priceless. The whirlwind of knowledge that’s being tossed around continuously from great coach to great coach is fascinating.  It’s a privilege to be on the sidelines and observe how forum debates unfold. I love to post questions on the internet and learn from the guys who have been there, done that, and are still doing it. Bottom line: for me, continuing education through the internet is HUGE!

      Here’s the problem though and I’m hoping my readers can see it as well. Technically, I could post my opinions and answers on the internet all day and be “right.” I could make valid points and say justifiable things. But if I’m neither training anyone myself nor assisting in the coaching of athletes, then my entire cyberspace blabbering is near worthless and utter crap! I could post myself into a frenzy, but it means nothing without REAL experience. I wouldn’t have agreed with myself a few months ago, but after working 62-hour work weeks doing nothing but coaching, I clearly see that the ability to coach in many cases may be superior to my knowledge base. My athletes don’t care what I know; they need me to help them get stronger and more athletic. They’re depending on me to steer them in the right path and equip them with the tools necessary for a successful athletic season. Anyone who’s been around the iron game for a while knows that process takes time, and time is essentially the whole point of this blog post. If I spend all my time COACHING, then I won’t have much time for internet fantasy land. If I spend all my time posting on forums then I’m obviously not spending that much time COACHING!

      Again, I used to believe that it was possible to do both in full capacity. I would point to examples like Mike Boyle, Eric Cressey, and others saying, “Look, they’re all over the internet, and they all coach, too.” The truth of the matter though is that Coach Boyle spends the majority of time coaching and NOT in internet land. This summer I’ve worked with Coach Boyle in the mornings at Boston University helping with the BU hockey team.  From there I’ve worked with him at MBSC in the afternoons. I can tell you firsthand that he spends time coaching college and professional athletes as well as kids. The same is true for Eric Cressey. Neither one of them sits there on a computer all day long. They’re out on the floor coaching! So how do they still get their internet rounds in? Coach Boyle gets up at 4:30am everyday and begins doing computer work right away.  He also does internet work well into the night sometimes. Eric gets up early as well to do the same things.

      Having training philosophies, ideas, and systems is great but it must be PUT INTO PRACTICE. Otherwise, you’re just another internet guru who writes about training and debates it over the internet but has no experience in the real world. Again, this summer internship has taught me much, but when it comes down to knowledge and coaching ability the latter may be more important in most cases. You can gain knowledge through effort and determination, but your ability to influence groups of people and make them do what you desire is not easy. Many times this skill comes from the individual rather than be taught how to do it.

      I’m not sure why I chose this topic for the week. Maybe it’s an existential cry as the end of my internship approaches. Whatever the reason, this semi-new concept for me resonates so deeply. From now on I’ll be sure to do a little background check on “famous” internet coaches before I take their advice and see if they’re actually training people and with what success. In case you’re wondering though, training high school athletes in your garage doesn’t count!

 

 Sam Leahey CSCS, CPT

Sam.Leahey@gmail.com

 

 P.S. I encourage all comments below. . .