Archive for February, 2010

Should You Stick to the Recipe?

Posted in Uncategorized on February 16, 2010 by mboyle1959

The following article first appeared at

Anyone who knows me knows how much I like analogies. One area that continues to frustrate me is talking to trainers about programming. Often the conversation goes something like this, “I use a little of your stuff, a little of Mark Verstegen’s stuff and mix in a little of …”.  In trying to describe how this works or potentially doesn’t work I’ve decided that a food analogy may be the best route. Some people can really cook, others need cookbooks and recipes. Some people write cookbooks, others read cookbooks. Even in the restaurant world, there are cooks and there are chefs. Cooks follow the recipes, chefs create the recipes. Those who know anything about cooking understand that every ingredient in a recipe has a purpose. You wouldn’t bake and simply leave out flour would you?  The key is to figure out if  at this stage of your career are you are a cook or a chef. Here are some basic guidelines.

If you are writing your first program, you are probably a cook. You should find a recipe and follow it exactly.

Think about it this way. If you were making something for the first time would you take two recipes from two different cookbooks and combine them? Would you add ingredients from one of the recipes while subtracting ingredients from the other? If you did this, would you expect the end product to taste good? What if you took two pancake recipes and both called for pancake mix and eggs but, you decided to double up on the pancake mix and simply omit the eggs. The end result would probably be pretty lousy pancakes, correct? What if you said, “I don’t like water, I’ll just put the dry powder in the pan and see if it will cook?” All of this seems foolish doesn’t it.

Unfortunately, when it comes to program design, this is exactly what many coaches do. I  have athletes who have trained with me for years and then become coaches themselves. Instead of using the program that was so successful for them, they alter it. Then they email me the program and say “can you look this over?”.  Invariably the program is a little of mine and a little of theirs, with maybe a touch of third party. A combination of recipes if you will. Also invariably the program is poor. These are not experienced “chefs” yet they have chosen to alter the recipe to suit their taste. The better choice is to choose a recipe designed by a chef and then do a great job of making the meal. In other words, coach the heck out of the program you have successfully used.

If you have been writing programs for few years, perhaps you are a sous-chef.

The sous-chef is the second in command in the kitchen. Many third and fourth year coaches are sous-chefs. They have developed the ability to alter the recipe without spoiling the meal. They understand that ingredients can be altered but that there should be a plan and it should be followed. The sous chef also understands that the ratio of ingredients matters and that you don’t simply cook to your own taste.

After five years of successful program design, you might now qualify as a chef.

At this point you can contemplate bold changes to the recipe because you have extensive experience “cooking”. One famous coach used to say “it’s OK to break the rules, just make sure you understand the rules first”. After five years you should no longer be looking at a DVD and abandoning your whole program.  Chefs don’t abandon their chosen cooking style after watching an episode of Hell’s Kitchen, instead you are now making small changes to what should be a system.

Figure out if you are a cook or a chef. Don’t be afraid to copy if you are a beginner. In fact, I would encourage you to copy rather than to mix. I have said in previous writings that it is a mistake to copy programs. I guess what I should have said is it is a mistake to blindly copy programs.  It is a mistake to copy bad programs. However, it may be very beneficial to copy good programs. I would rather you copy my program than attempt to add bits of my recipe to the recipes of others. If you are not confident yet in your ability to create a program, feel free to copy. I guess cookbooks were created for a reason.

The idea is that eventually we all can become chefs but, we all start out as cooks.

This Week on

Posted in Uncategorized on February 15, 2010 by mboyle1959

This week I’m going to publish two of my own articles. My recent travels ( PB in LA and Columbus) have given me a few hours of solitude to write. As a result I started a whole bunch of articles and actually finished a few others. First up is Are You Too Busy to Get Better? This looks at the idea of attending conferences versus coaching. I think it might be preaching to the choir so maybe some of you can repost it on your blogs.

Next up is a look at nutrition called X-Files- Trust No One. I originally wrote this when I published Leigh Peale’s Foods People Will Eat article. However, I just finished it.

Last up is Seeing the World Through the Hole in a 45 lb Plate by Northeastern University Athletic Trainer/ Strength Coach Art Horne. This was actually a blog post that Art wrote and has allowed me to reprint.

I think this will be an excellent “thought week “ and should get some great talk on the forum.

Video of the Week

Video of the week is another pretty good example of a bar complex provided by Rob Hartmann at Wyoming.

As always don’t forget to check out the StrengthCoach Podcast at

Last but not least, make sure you keep up with

Site Notes

Just a reminder, 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 charge from, not Hope you enjoy the week.

Lone Survivor

Posted in Uncategorized on February 11, 2010 by mboyle1959

It’s been a long time since I have been consumed by a book. I usually have three or four going at once. Lone Survivor was a notable exception. I started on my way to LA on a Friday and was done on the following Thursday. I stayed up one night until after 11 reading which is very unlike me.

As the title indicates Lone Survivor is the story of Marcus Luttrell, the only survivor of Navy Seal team wiped out in Afghanistan. I can simply say buy the book. I have actually purchased three copies to give to friends. It is a powerful story of friendship and patriotism. If you can read it without at least one tear I will be surprised.

A Day in the Life

Posted in Uncategorized on February 9, 2010 by mboyle1959

The following was previously printed at and is also included in my new book Advances in Functional Training

I often get asked, “How do you get so much done with your business, coaching, writing, speaking etc”.

I usually try to give a humble answer and mumble something about hard work etc.

The truth is there is a method to the madness and I’d like to share some of the things that have increased my productivity:

1-   Get up early. Successful people don’t hit the snooze button. I remember one great tip about waking up. “When the alarm goes off, get your feet on the ground” I have lived by this for at least twenty years and now rarely need an alarm. Years ago I also read somewhere that you should get out of bed when you wake up instead of rolling over. The concept is related to sleep quality and I have found it to be true. Fifteen minutes of “extra” sleep usually leaves you more tired. If I wake up within 30 minutes of when I am supposed to wake up I “get my feet on the ground”.

2-   Many people remark that they get emails from me at 4:45. That is because I get up, go to my computer, and check my email. I read another hint once that said “if you can respond in under a minute, do it now”. I have adopted that policy as best I can and it has really helped. I can interact with 100 people a day and do most of it before my family gets out of bed. The nice thing is that getting up early also allows me to help my wife by throwing in a load of laundry and allows me to spend time with my children in the morning when they get up.

3-   Write everything down. I have a notebook with me at all times for article ideas, program ideas, notes and To Do Lists. It’s much too easy to forget. Never trust your memory. I also have a Palm Treo phone for day-to-day stuff.

4-   Don’t try to do paperwork at work. I know this sounds silly but I get no paperwork done at work. I try to coach at work. I work at home in the morning. Work before the rest of the world rises and you will get more done.

5-   Don’t go out to eat lunch. What a waste of time. Lunch hour is for “normal” people who don’t like their job and need an hour away. Those that want to succeed will never waste even a half hour sitting and eating. Lunch takes all of 5 minutes. Dinner is a different story. Dinner is family time. I bank my “lunch time” so I can use it at dinner when I have my family. Another benefit of this is that it helps with weight control. I can’t seem to go into a sandwich shop and not walk out with a bag of chips. Often I have eaten them before I get my sandwich. Keep shakes on hand and eat every three hours while you work.

6-   Use commuting time. I often spend two hours a day in the car. Often, I will make all my phone calls for the day in the car and, record my podcast interviews with Anthony Renna ( from my car. The police may not like this but it is a great way to save time. Just promise me that you won’t text from the car. I also use the time to listen to my Ryan Lee Insider Audio CD’s and The Strength Coach Podcast or Fitcast

7-   Do brief workouts. Again, if you are busy you don’t have time to lift for two hours.  I try to do 4-5 High Intensity Cardiovascular Workouts a week. These are either 12-14 minute threshold rides ( usually a five mile AirDyne for time) or a series of distances for time. My favorites are timed miles or half miles with a heartrate recovery. These workouts take a maximum of 20 minutes. In addition, I love Craig Ballantynes Bodyweight 100. It currently takes me less than 4 minutes to get a full body lift. I try to lift twice a week but, probably average one workout every five days.

As I always say, the secret is there is no secret. Read about how to save time and to be more productive. Read The One Minute Manager. It’s a great start. Pick up little tricks. Success is really is about getting up and being organized. I personal train 10-15 hours a week, work as a college strength and conditioning coach, coach Pro athletes 8 hrs a week all the while keeping up with writing, emails, and  I love the idea of “ready-fire-aim” approach. I would rather have done one thing than thought about three. I read another great tip but, can’t remember where. The tip was to be a 90% person. If a success oriented person strives to do 100% they rarely complete anything. The advice was the last ten percent kills you and stalls you. I don’t worry any more if every article or DVD is perfect. I want to always deliver a quality product but, I don’t obsess over it any more.  Don’t over –plan or over-think, just strive to get a lot done. Make a list and start checking stuff off.

This Week on

Posted in Uncategorized on February 8, 2010 by mboyle1959

First up this week on is Don’t Neglect The Minor Sports from Bruce Kelly. Bruce is a frequent contributor and always has great stuff to offer. Next up is a reprint of a Nick Tuminello article from T-nation called Big Gains with Active Recovery. Nick describes the way we organize all our workouts at BU and MBSC in this piece. Last up we have Is Coach Boyle Wrong not Training Children Between Ages 6 and 9 from our good friend Anthony Renna. This is a great thought article that examines a fundamental business and psychology issue that Anthony and I explored on the StrengthCoach Podcast.

Video of the Week

Video of the week is a pretty good set of a metabolic dumbbell complex performed by former BU captain and current Worcester Shark John McCarthy.

Also make sure you keep up with

Site Notes

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

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

Mike Boyle on Using the MVP Shuttle

Posted in Uncategorized on February 7, 2010 by mboyle1959

I love the MVP Shuttle. It is always on my “must have” list of equipment. Even though it’s expensive I think it provides something that no other piece can for a wide range of clients and athletes.

Take a look

Bill Foran at MBSC

Posted in MBSC News, Random Thoughts, Seminars, Training, Uncategorized on February 5, 2010 by mboyle1959

Just wanted to publicly thank Miami Heat Strength and Conditioning Coach Bill Foran for spending two hours at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning.  This was just an amazing opportunity for my staff and I. They say their is no substitute for experience and Bill proves that. I was riveted for two hours listening to a guy who has trained top level athletes and worked with some of the world’s best coaches over his 22 years with the Heat. Bill’s presentation was a wonderful combination of wisdom and story telling that took him from high school footbal coach to NBA strength and conditioning coach. The best thing about Bill ( besides the fact that he is a reader) is that he has continued to grow while spending 22 years at the highest level of sport. My staff got a rare treat to hear one of the best guys in our industry in such a small setting.

My staff had a great week as they also got to hear four great presenatations at the MBSC Winter Seminar on Saturday. This was by far the best one as all the speakers ( Eric Cressey, John Pallof, Brijesh Patel) get better every year.

Last but, not least I want to say thanks to a great Mentorship Group. This was also our Winter Mentorship Week. The group was treated to a week of NFL Prep as well as Bill’s talk.

All in all, a pretty good week at MBSC.