Archive for December, 2009

Dan John Reviews Advances in Functional Training

Posted in Uncategorized on December 18, 2009 by mboyle1959

I’m not good at asking people to buy my products. I don’t do a lot of promotion ( although many think I do). That’s why it’s so good when someone else writes a review I can post. If you are interested you can order at or at .

Below is Dan John’s review of Advances in Functional Training:

There is a line in Mike Boyle’s new book, Advances in Functional Training, that just made me laugh out loud: “On the other hand, some of our hardest working athletes look like they hardly train. As long as their performances reflects the time and effort they’ve put in, I’m happy.” The whole book is filled with these kinds of simple lines that anyone who has been in sport for the past few decades wants to applaud. The best athletes in the world don’t look like guys on the covers of magazines. The best athletes train to win, not to look the part.

Boyle’s book is a page by page illumination. Do I agree with everything written? That’s the million dollar question. I have found that I don’t “read” AFT, rather, I reread it. He doesn’t do Kettlebell snatches because of the learning curve to teach the right catch. That leads to bruising, so Boyle doesn’t do them. Madness! Then, I reread his reasoning, sadly shrugged my shoulders and admitted that he is right for his needs and clients. And on we go through the book as his REAL world experience drips off the pages. Agree or disagree with his conclusions, but at least take the time to think and reason along side of him!

Here is the problem that this new book is addressing: most of the people writing books about aiding performance are full of crap. For whatever reason, we have a generation of internet experts (like me, by the way) who use secret formulas, mysterious programs, Voodoo hexes and a variety of untried ideas to push training. Boyle’s book comes from the other side:Michael has a gym, he trains people, he fixes issues and then he lets us know what works. For whatever reason, this kind of honesty bothers people!

Boyle’s advice is honed from the gym and from discussions with the top names in the field. He demands “Olympic style” Front Squats for the same reasons I do and he also has no issues with insisting that leg presses are garbage. He has interesting insights on the importance of the O lifts, but he also recommends some variations (like the Clean Grip Snatch) that work better for athletes than the standard work. I applaud the thinking throughout the book. He discusses HIT with an open mind as well as the ups and downs of hypertrophy work.

After your first reading, you will find, like I did, that you will have picked up a lot of ideas, but the structure of the book isn’t like one of Pavel’s where you come away with “Do THIS!” Instead, you will have something more like an encyclopedia of fitness and training. It’s odd for me to read this book and make myself realize that I may have been wrong on many of my long held beliefs. I hate Trap Bars because of, well, I just don’t like anything that isn’t Old School. Boyle’s book convinced me to buy some for our facility. Since we are not a powerlifting gym, why not be smarter? Sadly, my brother, Gary, has been telling me this for years: get Trap Bars!

The insights on single leg training alone might be worth the cost, which is not very much. It is a 35 buck book that has 315 pages of information. I just spent $50 for a 19 page e-book for reference and got little out of it. Should you do all the hip movements described in the book and the dozens of bridges, planks and single leg moves? Well, yes. Will you? I also marveled at the simple templates at the back of the book where you can xerox theses and design your own programs. It might take weeks to lock down all the movements for a typical workout, but why not start today?

I can’t recommend the book highly enough. It made me think. I would pick it up at random times during the day and double check something that just kept bugging me. Any book that makes you think this much deserves further discussion. Seriously, along side Kono’s book, Pavel’s PTTP and ETK (and Return of thee Kettlebell now that I think about it), and a few others, this book had me shuffling pages back and forth, standing up and trying things, and plopping the book on the table and going into my gym to try things.

Note: I got an odd negative email after I noted that I was reading and enjoying the book. The writer also noted that I must believe that Boyle’s farts smell like roses, too. I have no idea what caused that response, but, for the record, I have never met Michael Boyle, nor smelled his farts. Thank you.

To order go to or to . By the way, you can also get Dan’s products at The new DVD series is excellent.

Painful Exercise?

Posted in Injuries, Low Back Pain, Random Thoughts, Training on December 17, 2009 by mboyle1959

I got a bunch of interesting responses to my Does It Hurt post. One reader said:

“What about situations where ‘no pain’ may not be indicative of ‘no problem’ or more precisely ‘a problem is brewing’?”

I think this is why I wrote articles like Should Women Run? and why I always recommend interval training on a bike. The truth is that Does It Hurt is really simple advice but, not all inclusive.

More interesting are the questions and responses that followed. Numerous PT’s who seem to specialize in pain management stated that painful exercise was OK. I strongly disagree in almost all cases. One PT actually went so far as to describe manual therapy as placebo. I have to tell you the dialogue is interesting. Make sure you go back and read not only the post but the responses.

Below is an excerpt from an article I wrote for called My Ah-Ha Moments. Lots of this info is contained in my new book Advances in Functional Training.

Ah-Ha#2-. Soft tissue work, whether for chronic muscle strains or for tendon issues, is like weight training. Treatment is actually a stimulus. In effect what the therapist is doing is irritating the tissue to produce a chemical response. The chemicals produced are what begin the healing process. This why soft tissue work is often painful and can leave you feeling similar to a workout the next day.

Ah-Ha#2B- Soft tissue work goes by many names. The names don’t matter, the treatment does. Physical therapists use the term soft tissue mobilization. Chiropractors usually use ART or Active Release Technique. Massage therapists just called it deep tissue work. Just remember, the magic is in the hands, not the names.

Ah-Ha#5 It May Be Ok to Do Painful Exercise

I have always said “if hurts don’t do it” and “does it hurt” is a yes/no question. I still believe this in almost every case. However, my studies with Dan Dyrek have again shown me the error of my ways. In rehabilitating or reconditioning ( boy do the PT’s get bent if they think I’m doing rehab) a client or an athlete with a tendonitis/ tedinosis condition  it may be necessary to endure some tendon pain to produce the proper remodeling effect. Just remember this is the isolated exception to the rule. The painful stress to the tendon acts much like soft tissue work to initiate a healing response.

The key is the type of pain. Acceptable pain is localized to the target tissue, and the tissue is painful to touch. There should be no swelling and no motion restrictions. The pain should follow a DOMS like pattern and be gone in 2-3 days.

My point is that Does It Hurt? in my mind applies in almost every situation, the exception being the two above. I have trouble believing that having a client or a patient do an exercise that causes them discomfort is benefitting them.

Does It Hurt?

Posted in Uncategorized on December 15, 2009 by mboyle1959

This is another of my previously published pieces reprinted for your reading pleasure:

I get asked rehab questions all the time. I have rehabilitated athletes in almost every major sport who were told they were “all done” by a doctor or a team trainer. Because people know my background, they often ask for advice.

Most of the time they ignore the advice because the advice does not contain the answer they want. They say “it only hurts when I run”, I say things like “don’t run”.

A famous coach I know once told me “people don’t call for advice, they call for agreement or consensus. If you don’t tell them what they want to hear, they simply call someone else”. His advice to me, don’t bother wasting your time with advice.

Here I go again wasting time.

If you have an injury and are wondering whether or not a certain exercise is appropriate, ask yourself a simple question. “Does it hurt”? The key here is that the question ‘does it hurt?” can only be answered yes or no. If you answer yes, then you are not ready for that exercise, no matter how much you like it. Simple, right? Not really. I tell everyone I speak with about rehab that any equivocation is a yes. Things like “after I warm-up it goes away” etc. are all yes answers. It is amazing to me how many times I have asked people this simple question only to have them dance around it. The reason they dance around the question is that they don’t like my answer. They want to know things like “what about the magic cure that no one has told me about?”. What about a secret exercise? I have another saying I like, “the secret is there is no secret”. Another wise man, Ben Franklin I think, said “Common sense is not so common”.

If you are injured and want to get better, use your common sense. Exercise should not cause pain. This seems simple but exercisers ignore pain all the time and rationalize it. Discomfort is common at the end of a set in a strength exercise or at the end of an intense cardiovascular workout. Additional discomfort, delayed onset muscle soreness, often occurs the two days following an intense session.  This is normal. This discomfort should only last two days and should be limited to the muscles not the joints or tendons. Pain at the onset of an exercise is neither normal nor healthy and is indicative of a problem. Progression in any strength exercise should be based on a full, pain-free range of motion that produces muscle soreness without joint soreness. If you need to change or reduce range of motion, this is a problem. Progression in cardiovascular exercise should also be pain free and should follow the ten percent rule. Do not increase time or distance more than ten percent from one session to the next. I have used these simple rules in all of my strength and conditioning programs and, have been able to keep literally thousands of athletes healthy. I’m sure the same concepts will help you.

This Week on

Posted in Uncategorized on December 14, 2009 by mboyle1959

First up this week is an article from Joe Kenn called It is Not a Race for Last. This is a great article about the mental side of training. I saw it in the SB Coaches College newsletter and Joe was kind enough to let me reprint it. For those of you not familiar with Joe, he has spent the last 19 years as a strength coach on the collegiate level working at Boise State, Utah, Arizona State, and Louisville.  Joe also owns and operates Big House Power Competitive Athletic Training LLC [], an educational member website for parents, coaches, and athletes

Next up is The Get Strong Program Part 2 from Todd Hamer of Robert Morris. This one comes with an apology. I actually lost this article and recently found it again. This is a great follow up to Todd’s excellent Part 1.

Last up is What it Takes – A Fitness Business Journey by Justin Levine. This is another an excellent series of real world facility articles that I asked some guys to write about their experiences opening facilities.

Video of the Week

Video for the week is another in a series of what really are Athletes’ Performance lateral movement drills. This is a crossover drill referred to as Cross to Base in AP terms. At MBSC we simply call it Crossover and Stick. The key to viewing this is focus on the action of the leg pushing under, not the leg crossing over.

Don’t forget to check out the StrengthCoach Podcast  at Last but not least, make sure you keep up with

Site Notes

The articles and videos go up over the course of the week. Generally one each day.  Only one article mentioned on this email will go up on the day you receive this email.

Also, your credit card statement will show a change from, not Hope you enjoy the week.

Christmas Spirit

Posted in Uncategorized on December 13, 2009 by mboyle1959

There are two weeks left until Christmas. Do yourself a favor and go out and shop for those who really need. The Boston Herald has a list of 10 agencies actively seeking toys. My wife is wonderful enough to have us participate in an Adopt a Family program in our hometown of Reading, Ma. We actually adopt one family and have our daughters hockey team adopt another so we get to shop for two families. What literally brings me to tears are the lists. We live in an upper middle class community but,  what the kids ask for makes me realize  how lucky we are and how little appreciation we have.

Here are some list items. Warm blankets, gloves, socks, t-shirts, underwear. I think you get it. These kids don’t ask for presents, they ask for life’s necessities. They ask for things my kids take for granted. Whether or not you have kids, take the time to buy at least one present. I tell people that I do this for me. It is my best feeling of the holiday knowing that a family somewhere will open presents due to our generousity. So please, do something totally selfish. Make yourself feel good. Adopt a Family , buy a Toy for a Tot. Just do something for someone else.

Only One Body

Posted in Uncategorized on December 11, 2009 by mboyle1959

( the following is reprinted. I’m not sure where I printed it or, if I ever did)

Imagine you are sixteen years old and your parents give you your first car. They also give you simple instructions. There is one small hitch, you only get one car, you can never get another. Never. No trade-ins, no trade-ups. Nothing

Ask your self how would you maintain that car? My guess is you would be meticulous. Frequent oil changes, proper fuel, etc. Now imagine if your parents also told you that none of the replacement parts for this car would ever work as well as the original parts. Not only that, the replacement parts would be expensive to install and cause you to have decreased use of your car for the rest of the cars useful life? In other words, the car would continue to run but, not at the same speed and with the efficiency you were used to.

Wow, now would we ever put a lot of time and effort into maintenance if that were the case.

After reading the above example ask yourself another question. Why is the human body different? Why do we act as if we don’t care about the one body we were given. Same deal. You only get one body. No returns or trade-ins. Sure, we can replace parts but boy it’s a lot of work and it hurts. Besides, the stuff they put in never works as well as the original “factory” parts. The replacement knee or hip doesn’t give you the same feel and performance as the original part.

Think about it. One body. You determine the mileage? You set the maintenance plan?

No refunds, no warranties, no do-overs?

How about this perspective? One of my clients is a very successful businessman. He often is asked to speak to various groups. One thing he tells every group is that you are going to spend time and money on your health. The truth is the process can be a proactive one or a reactive one. Money spent on your health can take the form of a personal trainer, massage therapist and a gym membership or, it can be money spent on cardiologists, anesthesiologists, and plastic surgeons. Either way, you will spend money.

Same goes for time. You can go to the gym or, to the doctors office. It’s up to you. Either way, you will spend time. Some people say things like “I hate to work out”. Try sitting in the emergency room for a few hours and then get back to me. Working out may not seem so bad. Much like a car, a little preventative maintenance can go a long way. However, in so many ways the body is better than a car. With some good hard work you can turn back the odometer on the body. I wrote an article a while back ( Strength Training- The Fountain of Youth) that discussed a study done by McMaster University which showed that muscle tissue of older subjects actually changed at the cellular level and looked more like the younger control subjects after strength training.

Do me a favor, spend some time on preventative maintenance, it beats the heck out of the alternative. Just remember, you will spend both time and money.

Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning Video Tour

Posted in Uncategorized on December 10, 2009 by mboyle1959

My friends at Stack Magazine take you on a video tour of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning. Take a few minutes and check it out to see how we organize our facility and our workouts.

MBSC Video Tour