Archive for March, 2010

A UK Expert Reviews Advances in Functional Training

Posted in Uncategorized on March 26, 2010 by mboyle1959

UK Strength and Conditioning Coach Nick Grantham was nice enough to provide a review of Advances in Functional Training that I wanted to share with you.

Now Michael Boyle is old but he wasn’t around in the days of Confucius, but if ever there was a statement that in my mind sums up Michael Boyle it’s the one below by Confusius, and I’m sure Confucius wouldn’t have any problems with me linking his wise words to a certain American strength and conditioning coach!

“Learn avidly. Question repeatedly what you have learned. Analyse it carefully. Then put what you have learned into practice intelligently.” – Confucius

Michael contacted me back at the start of the year to ask me if I would review his latest book, Advances in Functional Training: Training Techniques for Coaches, Personal Trainers and Athletes. This is his third book to hit the shelves of our local bookstores (not including his countless DVD’s and training manuals) and I was pleased to be oblige.

The first book I read from Michael was Designing Strength Training Programme and Facilities; I’ve also got a copy of his follow up book, Functional Training For Sports: Superior Conditioning For Today’s Athlete. Both are great books that I often refer back to. So why when I already have two of his books would I want a third? A question that you as the reader of this review may well be asking.

Well, the answer lies in the wise words of confucious, Michael’s training methodology is constantly evolving. He reads, observes, analyses and then implements. Some critics will argue that he is always changing his mind! In fact, he even points out in the introduction that “in the past 10 years I’ve ridden on a rollercoaster that probably makes me appear confused to the casual reader” I would suggest that Michael is simply someone whose training naturally evolves where necessary. I would add though, that this is not a book for the casual reader. You would do well to take the time to read his first two books as I think it helps you understand his perspective when writing Advances in Functional Training. You can’t really watch Return of The Jedi and fully appreciate the plotline, without first having watched Star Wars! Advances in Functional Training is very much like Return of The Jedi, whilst it stands up on its own, it becomes even more insightful when you understand the evolution of the book and Michaels rationale.

So, what can you expect from Advances in Functional Training? In the opening chapter, Michael explains his path to becoming a believer in functional training and sets out to explain what he feels “functional training” actually is? Having clearly established, what functional training actually means the book then moves into the ‘nuts and bolts’ of physical preparation. The first area to come under scrutiny is mobility and flexibility, an area that is often overlooked by many strength and conditioning coaches, but one that is crucial if you wish to develop athletes that are robust and ready for competition. In this section, readers will are walked through a joint by joint approach that underpins program design, the importance of establishing a comprehensive screening programme and the effective use of a variety of soft tissue therapies.

The second chapter tackles another poorly understood aspect of strength and conditioning, injuries. In this chapter, you will find out why much of what we currently do in terms of injury management is simply ‘papering over the cracks’. Michaels, physiotherapy background is clear to see in this chapter and is refreshing to see simple and logical injury reduction strategies for some of the common problems faced by many strength and conditioning coaches such as rotator cuff injuries, ACL injuries and sports hernia’s.

Another area of mass confusion in the world of fitness and strength and conditioning is core training! If you’re not sure whether you should be hollowing, drawing in or bracing then this chapter is a must read! If you do not read Michael’s earlier publications you may find parts of this chapter to be a little bit radical. For example, when it comes to anterior core training Michael has all but done away with traditional flexion exercises. I think we probably agree on more than we disagree when it comes to core training and whilst I understand the rationale behind his thinking (repeated flexion = disc damage) I do think there are some cases that warrant the use of exercises involving flexion. Grappling sports, for example will have elements of flexion and it may be pertinent to include that as part of your overall physical preparation programme. However the days of doing endless crunches are behind us! Areas that do receive attention in this chapter are anti-extension, anti-rotation and rotational training, and Michael offers some interesting arguments as to why these should be essential components in any physical preparation program.

I read with particular interest the chapter on cardiovascular training and the work capacity model put forward by Michael for training athletes. I’ve always favoured a non-conventional ‘reverse periodised’ approach to cardiovascular conditioning and had the opportunity to speak to Ian King and Istvan Bayli back in the late 90’s about this alternative method. I think it is a very effective model and have used it extensively with the athletes and teams that I’ve worked with. In addition to the work capacity model, Michael offers some useful tips on how to develop your interval training programme which has made me stop and think about my own programming of work to rest ratio’s.

The closing chapters concentrate on how to develop gross athleticism through a comprehensive programme design structure. Sample workout programs for 4, 3 and 2 day a week programmes are provided, and Michael goes on to show you how to program on a shoestring and develop flexibility and mobility circuits.

In the final thoughts section Michael says “ it’s vital not to get caught in the trap of believing so intently in your training philosophy you’re unable to recognise the value of new thinking”. This for me is the key to unlocking the information contained within Advances in Functional Training. I’ve been working as a strength and conditioning coach in high-performance sport for more than a decade and my copy of Advances in Functional Training is littered with notes, sticky markers and highlighted text. The photos below give a clear indication of how useful I found this latest addition to my library. Once again, Michael delivers a thought-provoking, challenging and contemporary book on real-world functional training that is relevant for coaches, personal trainers and athletes. Great job.

So the bottom line is, do I think you should purchase this book? If it is the first book that you are thinking of reading to gain an insight into functional training then I would say no…. I think you need to put the time in and read Michael’s previous publications to the fully understand and appreciate the current text. I would say however, that once you have read his earlier work this is well worth purchasing and adding to your library.


Surprise-Suprise High Fructose Corn Syrup Causes More Weight Gain

Posted in Uncategorized on March 24, 2010 by mboyle1959

Don’t you hate those commercials for high fructose corn syrup. They remind me of a drug dealer giving a kid his first joint free. “Just take a little it won’t hurt you”. A pitiful attempt by the food companies to deceive you. A recent Princeton study reported in The Stone Hearth Newsletter again demonstrated that sugar and high fructose corn syrup are not the same. I don’t know why, but the proof keeps hitting us in the face. Look for high fructose corn syrup on the label. If it is ingredient one or two, skip the product. Amazingly it is the number two ingredient in ketchup. I now buy organic, HFCS free, ketchup.

Grass Fed Beef and The Best Tasting Protein Powder Ever

Posted in Uncategorized on March 23, 2010 by mboyle1959

Check out this excellent piece from the website . The more I read the more scared I get. Our collective ignorance about nutrition is scary. Until last year I was totally unaware of the benefits of grassfed beef. Now I buy my meat on-line. Grass fed beef has the same fatty acid profile as wild salmon. Do you think that the large companies that control our food supply want us to know that? Until last year I thought corn was a vegetable. Now I realize it is a grain and the number one source of calories in the American diet.

If you use whey protein try Mercola Miracle Whey. I was amazed that something so good for you could also taste so good. And, it’s from grass fed cows. I have never had a whey protein that I even thought tasted Ok, much lesss tasted good. You can check. There are no affiliate links. I just want to turn you on to great ideas and great products.

Please, tell all your friends. Reblog, retweet, etc.

This Week on

Posted in Uncategorized on March 22, 2010 by mboyle1959

First up this week is an older article I wrote in 2007. A recent forum post about quad dominance had me looking for this info. Knees Over Toes? looks at the old idea that the knee should not move forward in squatting. Next up is a really thorough article from BJ Gaddour of Workout Muse. If you seen FSC 3 you know I’m a Workout Muse fan. The Top 5 Ways to Make Any Exercise Harder or Easier is a great overview of loading and unloading ideas. Although BJ’s thing is Bootcamps, this article applies to anyone out there training athletes and clients.

Our third article this week is Part 2 of Eric Cressey’s Top Ten Mistakes Interns Make. I’ve already mentioned how much I like both of these.

Video of the Week

For video of the week we have some great stuff from Gray Cook. Anthony Renna was kind enough to film Gray talking about some different variations of total body stretches he was working on. Initially this clip was intended for me to remember our conversation but we decided to share it with you.

As always don’t forget to check out the StrengthCoach Podcast at  Also we just filmed a new webinar, Designing Strength Training Programs, for

Site Notes

Just a reminder, as always 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. Please let us know via the forum if there are things you want to see.

Finally a Legal Precedent- Crazy Parents Beware

Posted in Guest Authors, Media, Random Thoughts, Training, Youth Training with tags on March 18, 2010 by mboyle1959

One of my readers Laura McNally supplied this. Hopefully some father who has kids playing in tournaments every weekend in Canada will be next.

Children’s ‘Exhausting’ Schedule Leads to Loss of Father’s Custody Rights
Vesselin Mitev

New York Law Journal
March 17, 2010

The father of two Long Island junior tennis prospects has been stripped of custody by a New York state judge who found their rigorous training schedule to be “overly burdensome, exhausting and completely unacceptable.”

The Cavallero brothers — Giancarlo, 10, and Jordy, 5 — were required to leave school early to spend six hours a day at tennis practice and play tournaments on the weekends. Giancarlo, with five junior tournament wins before turning 10, was likened to a young Andre Agassi in a 2007Daily News article.

But in a ruling last week, Acting Supreme Court Justice Norman St. George of Nassau County found the “grueling” training regimen had left the children “constantly tired, regularly late to school … and their tennis appears to be negatively impacted.”

After a four-day custody trial, the judge awarded sole custody to the children’s mother, Maria Pena, and ordered the father, George Cavallero, to undergo anger management counseling.

The case is Cavallaro v. Pena (pdf), V-00390-09.

Hockey Strength and Conditioning .com

Posted in Uncategorized on March 17, 2010 by mboyle1959

Just wanted to let everyone know that we just launched an incredible new site that you absolutely need to be a part of if you train hockey players.  It’s called

I have partnered with Sean Skahan (Anaheim Ducks), Mike Potenza (San Jose Sharks) Kevin Neeld (Endeavor Hockey)  and Anthony Renna ( StrengthCoach Podcast, Five Iron Fitness) and assembled what we are calling “The Greatest Collection of Hockey Strength and Conditioning Coaches on the Planet!”

Our advisory board is a Who’s Who of Hockey Strength and Conditioning including Chris Pietrzak-Wegner (Minnesota Wild), Chuck Lobe (Tampa Bay Lightning), Jim Reeves (Mind to Muscle), Brijesh Patel (Quinnipiac), Cal Dietz (Univ. of Minnesota), Chris Boyko (UMass), Maria Mountain (Revolution Sport Conditioning), Tim Yuhas (Yuhas Performance), Matt Nichol (former Toronto Maple Leafs) and Kim McCullough (Total Female Hockey).

There are a ton of articles on the site already with topics ranging from Strength and Conditioning, Programming, Youth Training, Injuries, Female Training and Coaching.   There are webinars, audio interviews and videos up as well, all about hockey!

Each week, we will be adding videos, articles and programs to the library and with this group, you know the Coaches Forum will be active.  Each month, there will also be webinars and audio interviews added as well.

Right now until March 31, we have an incredible offer: Only 1 dollar for 30 days, then $9.95 a month after that.  I don’t know how long the $9.95 a month is going to last, so you should jump on this opportunity.   It’s only a buck, and you have until March 31.

The Truth About Target Heart Rates

Posted in Uncategorized on March 16, 2010 by mboyle1959

I know. You’re probably saying “here he goes again” and you are correct. You’re thinking “Come on, don’t attack the target heartrate zone idea too”. Sorry. Here we go again. Every time I have this conversation with a group I always get the question “ If this stuff isn’t true, why is it plastered on the front of every treadmill”. I can’t really answer except to say that it probably came out of the legal department.

The truth is that target heartrate zone training is a highly flawed concept that could result in us drastically overtraining or undertraining  ourselves or a client.  Why is it a flawed concept? Because the physiologists know that only a small percentage of the population actually fits the formula. Did you know that seventy percent of the population is plus or minus ten to twelve beats from the theoretical 220- age formula. Yes seven out of ten people don’t fit the mold. Even worse, thirty percent of the population deviates nearly twice that much.

In mathematical terms for seventy percent of the population maximal heartrate actually equals:

220 – age plus or minus 10-12 beats per minute

For thirty percent of the population maximal heartrate actually equals:

220- age plus or minus 20-24  beats per minute

Why is this such a big deal? To realize why, we need to first state that those whose heartrates are on the high end are at little to no risk. All that happens with those folks is that we don’t push them hard enough. The problem is with the folks who have an unusually low maximum heartrate. If we were to push a person in the thirty percent group that is minus twenty-four beats per minute to eighty percent of their theoretical maximal heartrate, we would actually be pushing them to ninety percent. This would be a major error that could have significant ramifications.

The lesson here is that, as with so many of the so-called truths of fitness, there is actually significant variability in what we seem to think is an accurate and time-honored formula. Be careful with yourself and with you clients. Buy a heartrate monitor and learn how both you and your clients really respond to exercise.

This Week on

Posted in Guest Authors, Updates, Training on March 15, 2010 by mboyle1959

First up this week is an instant StrengthCoach classic. Teaching the Power Clean and Hang Power Clean was written by Jeff Johnson in 1982. Yes 28 years ago. I have kept certain articles all these years but recently could not find my old copy. This is the best and most complete article I have ever had the pleasure to read on teaching Olympic lifts and I have referred to it often. The beauty of the internet is that I could type in “Jeff Johnson Olympic Weightlifting” and within 12 hours be in contact with Jeff ( now a realtor in Northern Virginia). Jeff was even kind enough to scan his only copy so we could bring this to you. Special thanks to Coach Tim Swords. It was he and his Team Houston Weightlifting site that led me to Jeff.

Next up is Top 10 Mistakes that Interns Make Part 1 from Eric Cressey. As always Eric is dead on. Not only a great coach but, a great writer. I’m sure you will enjoy this series whether you are a facility owner or a potential intern.

Last up is an AirDyne Tabata workout. As many of you know I personally think this is the only way to do Tabata’s. This gives you an actual example of the progression, and workloads we use.

Videos of the Week

For video of the week I am actually going to pull out some early stuff from our video library. So Video of the Week is the Knee Dominant Exercise Jukebox. This actually includes two hip dominant exercises and a great 1 leg squat demo by New Jersey Devil Jay Pandolfo. I’m not even sure if all our members have ever visited the video library.

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

Site Notes

Just a reminder, as always 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. Please let us know via the forum if there are things you want to see.

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

The Lunch Trap

Posted in Uncategorized on March 13, 2010 by mboyle1959

I have always advocated eating on the fly at lunch. Maybe a sandwich from home but, more likely a shake or a bar. I think this really helps my productivity. I also think it helps me keep my weight down. One thing I have come to realize is that I am powerless against visual food. If I go to a sandwich shop I succumb to my urge to get a bag of potato chips or, to eat a cookie. I find myself getting coffee in the morning saying “you don’t need a donut”. Not to get all religious on you but, I think there is something to “the lead us not into temptation thing”.

One of the best ways to lose weight or, to maintain your current weight is to avoid tempting situations. Restaurants and sandwich shops are set up to help make us fat. If you want to succeed, avoid the lunch trap. Either bring a sandwich and a piece of fruit from home or, have a bar or a shake ready. Better yet, don’t plan time to eat so you will only have a minute. If someone wants to meet for lunch politely decline. Tests of will power are ones we often lose. Set yourself up to win, not lose.

Summer Training for Nine Year Olds?

Posted in Random Thoughts, Training, Training Females, Youth Training on March 10, 2010 by mboyle1959

Last week I received the question below

Q- I need to put together a summer plan for my 9 yr old hockey team. Obviously I don’t want to look like a crazy person, but it would be something that I think could be good for my own kids as well. Is it too young?

My first reaction was to say “are you crazy”? Instead, slightly  tongue-in-cheek I developed the plan below.

Step 1- play another sport. Lacrosse is highly recommended as it has similar skills to hockey although baseball is fine. This does not mean another sport in addition to hockey. Summer is the off season.

Step 2- Cancel all hockey camp registrations except 1 week. Pick your favorite that has the largest number of your friends attending and go to that one. Ideally look for a camp that only has you on the ice once a day. No need to get blisters. You won’t get better in a week anyway.

Step 3- Cancel any summer hockey leagues you are scheduled for. The best players in the world never play summer hockey and, they never have. The only conceivable exception would be a weekly skill session lasting one hour. Another exception would be “play”. If ice is available and the kids can play, let them. Please remember play means NO COACHES or COACHING.

Step 4- Reread steps 1-3. Acknowledge that the key problem in youth sports is applying adult values to children’s activities.

Step 5- Go to the nearest bike shop. Get nice bikes for everyone in the family

Step 6- Ride the bikes, not in a race. For fun. Maybe put a few hockey cards in the spokes to make noise.

Step 7- Head to Walmart and buy fishing rods.

Step 8- Take the fishing rods to the nearest lake and fish.

Now That is an off-season plan for any nine year old.

Step 9- repeat steps 5-8 while continually rereading steps 1-3