Archive for February, 2011

An Apology Letter to Personal Trainers

Posted in Random Thoughts on February 28, 2011 by mboyle1959

One thing I have realized over the past few months is that Facebook, Twitter and this blog allow me to share my writings with lots of people all over the world. As a result, I’ve been reprinting pieces I wrote in the past few years that might not have been widely read. Here’s one I wrote about three years ago that still applies to day.

” An Apology Letter to Personal Trainers

I need to take a moment to apologize to all the personal trainers who have ever attended a seminar I spoke at or read either of my two books. Why do I feel the need to apologize? Because up until two years ago I had never done personal training. My entire career until two years ago had been spent training groups of athletes. Unfortunately my lack of experience in the field didn’t stop me from telling personal trainers all over the country how to do their jobs. Why shouldn’t I, I’ve trained some of the worlds greatest athletes haven’t I?

We have all heard the old saying “walk a mile in my shoes”. Well in the last two years I have walked a few miles in the shoes of the personal trainer and have come to a few conclusions. The shoes weren’t nearly as comfortable as I thought they would be. In fact for the first few months, they didn’t seem to fit at all.

What I quickly realized is that strength and conditioning coaches, performance enhancement specialists and physical therapists should be careful when telling personal trainers how to do their jobs. Why? Because they have no idea how difficult the job is. Strength coaches and performance enhancement specialists have huge advantages over personal trainers but the advantages are not in skills or education.

The biggest advantage is time. One thing you take for granted when working in the world of sports is time. Young athletes have lots of time. Professional athletes in the off-season really have lots of time. The average personal training client does not have lots of time. For the client time and money are always issues.

Trying to make an impact on a person who works a desk job all week is far more challenging than trying to train an athlete. The average personal training client will get two to three one hour workouts a week. The average athletic client probably works out at least 6-8 hours a week. This means that the strength and conditioning coach gets on average one hundred percent more time than the personal trainer. Think about it, twice as much time.

Now combine twice as much time with the really efficient nervous system of the athlete and you have a prescription for success. On the flip side, think about having half as much time with a client who has limited athletic ability. Maybe not a prescription for failure but, a much tougher job.

I think those of us in the performance enhancement world have an inflated view of ourselves. This applies particularly to those of us who have the privilege of working with professional athletes. Sometimes we think of ourselves as geniuses. In fact our clients talent makes our job very easy. They have time, and they learn fast. Often all you have to do is show an athlete the technique and they will immediately do the exercise better than you demonstrated. The reality in my mind is that a good personal trainer is harder to find than a good strength and conditioning coach and the job of the personal trainer is far more difficult than I ever thought. Hope you accept my apology.”

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An UnSolicited Testimonial for StrengthCoach.com

Posted in Random Thoughts, StrengthCoach.com Updates with tags , on February 26, 2011 by mboyle1959

I have to admit that I was excited this morning when I woke up and read this quote from one of our members in the StrengthCoach.com forum:

“Just a quick thought as I was planning for what continuing ed I will be paying for this year…

I’ve been a StrengthCoach.com member for 2 years now, meaning that I’ve spent less than $240 on my membership since I first joined. It’s easily the best educational investment I’ve made in my career, thus far. Between the articles, forum discussions, and networking, nothing can compete.

Thank you Mike, the MBSC staff, and all the contributors to the site for creating such value for all of us. IMO you’ve done more for our industry, right here, than any other resource out there.”

Please note that the writer said it was the best investment in his career. If you read this blog either here or through a Facebook page, take a few minutes and join StrengthCoach.com. You won’t regret it.

Last Week on StrengthCoach.com

Posted in Core training, Guest Authors, Injuries, Low Back Pain, Random Thoughts, StrengthCoach.com Updates, Training on February 24, 2011 by mboyle1959

Hope everyone is having a great week! As usual we posted three articles and a video.

First up last week was: Will the FMS Cure Most Communicable Diseases? This was my response to what I see as an over-reaction to the FMS. As the article states,, I’m a huge FMS fan but it seems now that we have many coaches and trainers training for the FMS. Remember, Gray says that if you have symmetrical twos you are good to go.

Next up was Michigan State Strength and Conditioning Clinic Review This was a good review by Adam Feit. I think you need to take it with a grain of salt as most of the presenters are HIT coaches. Either way, some great stuff.

Also Up was:The FMS Advanced Workshop: Pearls from Brett Jones-Part 1
 Brett is a great presenter, make sure you also check out his recent StrengthCoach Podcast. Brett does a great job of explaining the intricacies of the FMS in simple, easy to understand , terms.

Video of the Week – Band Hip Flexion 
 This is a great idea that feeds into the idea that hip flexors need to be stronger at the top. I saw this on a Youtube clip of a training session and the idea jumped out at me. Absolutely a case where the band takes advantage of the strength curve.

Make sure to log on and read.

Tone? Is That a Scientific Term?

Posted in Fat Loss, Nutrition, Random Thoughts, Training, Training Females, Youth Training on February 22, 2011 by mboyle1959

Today’s subject is tone. How often do we hear someone say, “I don’t want to get too big, I just want to tone up”?

When I hear this, I want to laugh hysterically. It would be the nutritional equivalent of hearing someone say, “I don’t like apples so I’m going to just turn this apple into an orange”.

Just for starters, tone is not a scientific word. It is a sales gimmick. In my mind, any time a fitness professional uses the word tone, I can only hope that they are saying it to market to an uninformed consumer. If fitness professionals or consumers believe they can “tone up”, they are sadly mistaken.

Let’s get right to the truth. No one, I repeat no one, should ever worry about getting too big. The reality is that the hardest thing to do as a personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach is to get someone to gain muscle mass. Strength is easy, muscle mass is much more difficult. If we acknowledge that the fear of “getting too big” is irrational and probably impossible, it is much easier to move on with the real process of training.

Getting too big should be put to rest with other foolish statements. For example, imagine a client telling you:

“I’m not going to concentrate on nutrition. I’m concerned I’ll get too lean.”

“I’m not going to exercise regularly, I’m afraid that I’ll develop too much consistency.”

“I’m not going to do any cardiovascular work; I don’t really want to live past 50 anyway.”

All of these statements are as foolish and inane as “I don’t want to lift heavy weights, I don’t want to get too big”. We need to stop perpetuating this fraud of “too big”. The “too big’ thing is a result of steroid-loaded athletes pictured on magazine covers. It has nothing to do with real life.

The best part of the joke is that the person who usually doesn’t want to get too big is a housewife or stay-at-home mom who has never picked up more than a ten-pound dumbbell. This takes the thought process from inane to absurd.

Do me a favor. Start telling your clients the truth. The key to improving a bad physique is simple. Hard work. Push yourself. Lose the “light weights and take a walk” thing. The reason we look like crap is that people try to convince us that gardening is exercise.

Gardening is something you do as a hobby. The only people who should just walk and lift light weights are those that can’t do anything else. Yes, something is better than nothing. But, something hard is far superior to something easy.

I read a great quote yesterday in a book called Raising a Team Player.

“When all is said and done, a lot more is said than done.”

Last Week on StrengthCoach.com

Posted in Uncategorized on February 18, 2011 by mboyle1959

Hope everyone is having a great week! Off to Texas in a few hours for the Perform Better 1 Day in Austin.
Last week we posted new articles.

First up was:25 Suggestions to Learn from Mike’s 25 Mistakes
Casey Wheel gives some great advice on how not repeat my mistakes.

Next up was yet another from Anthony Donskov :Expenses: Good for Business
. Here Anthony looks at some expenses that might actually qualify as investments.

Last up we had another Donskov article entitled Strength Coach Rule #1- Do No Harm . This is a point I make over and over that so many coaches forget.

So, what are you waiting for? Click some links and read.

New From StrengthCoach Podcast and StrengthCoach TV

Posted in Media, Random Thoughts, StrengthCoach.com Updates, Training on February 17, 2011 by mboyle1959
Check out the latest from Anthony Renna and the StrengthCoach Podcast

Episode 74 Highlights

Click here to listen

  • Interview with me about When Employees Move On, Front Squat vs. Back Squat and my article “Will the FMS Cure Most Communicable Diseases?”
  • Alwyn Cosgrove on “Professional Development and The Gap”
  • Perform Better Sale and a few new items

Click here to listen

Strength Coach TV

SCTV Header

Another episode of Strength Coach TV.  In Episode 4, Anthony heads up to Worcester, MA to visit with Frank Nash of Frank Nash Training Systems.

Check out past episodes:

In Episode 1,  Anthony visits Tim Yuhas at Yuhas Performance in Old Lyme, CT.

In Episode 2, he visits Eric Cressey at Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA.

In addition to visiting facilities, Anthony also interviews industry leaders to talk about training concepts.  In Episode 3, he visits Gray Cook and gets us a demo on Indian Clubs.

You can subscribe in iTunes or YouTube

Is Doing Abs a Waste of Time?

Posted in Core training, Fat Loss, Injuries, Low Back Pain, Nutrition, Random Thoughts, Training, Training Females on February 15, 2011 by mboyle1959

I can’t even tell you how often I hear someone at the end of the workout say something like “I need to do more abs, I want to get a six-pack.” The truth is that passing on a six-pack is a better way to get a six-pack than six hundred sit-ups. The key to abdominal definition is the visibility of the abdominal musculature, not the strength of the muscles. You can do one million sit-ups, crunches or whatever exercise you want and it will have no effect on abdominal definition. When people ask me the best exercise for abs I tell them table push-aways. It usually takes a few minutes for them to get it. It’s not a joke, it’s the truth. If you want better abs, eat less and train more but, don’t just train your abs.

The idea of working abs to get abs is one of the oldest misconceptions in training. This goes back to the old idea of spot reduction. Spot reduction has never and will never work. The research has been done over and over and the answer is always the same. You can’t decrease the fat layer on a particular area by working that area. That means that the guys doing sit-ups to lose abdominal fat and the lady sitting on the adductor ( inner thigh) machine are both wasting their time. Good total body work is, was, and always will be the key to fat loss.

Want better abdominal definition? Finish every workout with some hard interval training instead of extra sit-ups or crunches. Interval training or what is currently called High Intensity Interval Training (abbreviated HIIT) is the real key to fat loss and the resulting definition. Interval training burns more calories than steady state aerobic training and because it is s sprint program you get a sprinters body.

Abdominal training may potentially reduce the diameter of the waistline but, will do very little to reduce bodyfat. The truth is there are lots of good reasons to do abdominal work or core training as we now like to call it. A strong core ( strong abs) is one of the keys in the prevention of  back pain. A strong core will help you look better and improve performance in a host of sports but, sit-ups or any other abdominal exercise will not reduce bodyfat.  The fact of the matter is that crunches will lead to back pain long before they lead to visual abs.

Another good tip. Don’t do crunches. A good abdominal or core program is a lot more than crunches. Most of your core work should be isometric exercises like front planks and side planks or carries like Suitcase carries. . One of the major functions of the core musculature is the prevention of motion. What does that mean? It means that the abdominals are great stabilizers. Work on the stability function, not on flexion and extension.