Archive for November, 2011

Know the Enemy

Posted in Uncategorized on November 30, 2011 by mboyle1959

I started to write a post on my website explaining my response to a thread about Tabata intervals.  I probably was a little short with my answer because I thought the question was phrased poorly and loaded with assumptions. The writer took offense and responded “I’m just trying to learn”.

I went on to explain to him that the intelligent people in our industry are fighting a war of sorts.  Because we are constantly battling misinformation, half-truths, lies and out right stupidity we can often come across as impatient. The enemy has many names, Crossfit, P90X, Insanity, Bar Method, Tracey Anderson and so many others. A new enemy constantly appears on the horizon and they all have the same theme. The enemies simply ignore science and empirical evidence and replace it with marketing. They ignore common sense and replace it with marketing. They prey on the uniformed.

Our job as fitness professionals, personal trainers or strength and conditioning coaches is to continually try to keep the pendulum in the center and use our common sense. One of my favorite quotes comes from Benjamin Franklin is:

“common sense is not very common”

This can be combined with another great quote:

” a little knowledge is dangerous”

We exist in a fitness world overpopulated by people with a little knowledge and too little common sense. The resultant combination of a little knowledge and a lack of common sense is the foolish programming that we are forced to battle against. What the smart people do in this industry is make the client feel and look better while at the same time keeping the client healthy and safe. Is that too much to ask?

The only thing that makes me feel better is that we are succeeding. Our business at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning has nearly doubled in 4 years. This is due to a great program and a great staff that delivers consistent, reproducible results. Microgyms ( think opposite of the Big Box, lots of equipment, no instruction) are thriving all over America. Keep it up, don’t sell out. Don’t throw up a Crossfit sign or any other sign for its marketing value. Continue to deliver great programming and great results.


Do You Know Someone Struggling to Gain Weight? Supplement with Iron!

Posted in Nutrition, Random Thoughts, Updates, Training, Youth Training with tags , on November 25, 2011 by mboyle1959

High school football season just ended so strangely, this might be the biggest time of the year not for weight loss clients but, weight gain clients. I get questions like the one below all the time:

“Mike,  my 16 yr old son is a junior and plays both baseball and football. Football just ended and he is looking for  a weight gain/  strength gain supplement to gain weight and muscle mass.”

Here is my answer:

Is your son in the weight room religiously twice a week? Is he training his lower body hard during both of those days? If the answer is no than the best supplement he needs is iron. I’m being sarcastic but honest. Kids who are trying to gain weight but not lifting are really just trying to get fat.

If he is lifting properly and progressively twice a week than add this simple change from my man Dan John. Eat 5 Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole grain bread per day. These must be eaten in addition to his normal meals. He must make them the night before and all five must be eaten before the next night. It works like a charm.

It is amazing how many kids are looking for the magic bullet. Here it is. Iron in the form of good lifting program. A good program consists of more than just a few days of bench press and curls. In fact, I could really care if the program includes bench press or curls. However, if I wrote programs for kids without these two I would go out of business. In my mind the Big2 these days are Trap Bar Deadlifts and Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats . Add in some chin-ups and the five peanut buttter and jellies and you have a real good weight gain program. To top it off, wash each sandwich down with some good old fashioned whole milk and watch the weight pile on.

Check out Dan John’s Mass Made Simple for some great stuff on weight gain.

Thanksgiving- a Time to Give Thanks

Posted in MBSC News, Random Thoughts on November 23, 2011 by mboyle1959

Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks. I could make a list that would take hours:

1- I’m thankful for a loving wife and two great kids

2- I’m thankful that I have  great business partners who make my life very easy

3-I’m thankful to have great co-workers who make me proud every day of what we have created

4- I’m thankful to have great friends in both my personal and professional life

5- I’m thankful that I’ve been able to do something I love for thirty years and never felt like I was going to work.

6- I’m thankful to have great clients who appreciate what we all do for a living.

I hope you all take the time to say thanks to the people who make your life enjoyable and I hope you take some time today or tomorrow to supply some anonymous help to those you will never meet.

Interval Training and a New StrengthCoach Podcast

Posted in Fat Loss, Updates, Training, Uncategorized with tags , , on November 22, 2011 by mboyle1959

Just FYI, this was last Fridays workout

7x.5 Big Fan Airdyne

1:25×1 ( warm-up)

1:20 x6

Rest :40 sec- 1:40sec

Highest HR 168

Looking for some great info on interval training? Check out Joel Jamieson on the Strength Coach Podcast.

Robb Wolf Critiques Crossfit

Posted in Injuries, Low Back Pain, Media, Nutrition, Random Thoughts, Training, Training Females with tags , , on November 20, 2011 by mboyle1959

Robb Wolf ( a former Crossfit Coach) does a nice critique of Crossfit. If you don’t like f-bombs, be careful. Good stuff.

Robb is the author of  The Paleo Solution

The Truth About Speed

Posted in Media, Random Thoughts, Updates, Training, Youth Training with tags , , on November 18, 2011 by mboyle1959

With the high school and college football seasons drawing to a close it’s time for my annual rerun of

The Truth About Speed

I wrote the article below for a website in 2006 and recently re-published it at as part of our Combine Week. Speed is the stuff of urban legend. Deion Sanders supposedly showed up at the NFL Combine, ran a 4.2 and went home. We routinely hear of high school kids who purportedly run 4.3’s and 4.4’s. The stories of  “reported” speed have gotten out of control. This would not be a problem in and of itself. Most of us could look at it and say  “so what” people lie or people embellish. The real problem is that the lies seem to be setting the standard. One of the reasons that I no longer train athletes for the NFL Combine is the unrealistic expectations of athletes and agents based on these  “urban legends” or the occasional freakish performance like Vernon Davis .  Davis measured out at 6’3″ and 263 lbs., ran a 4.38 forty and vertical jumped 40 inches. Those are insane stats. We won’t see that again for a long time in my mind. Every year it seems like there is some freakish performance by an athlete that raises the bar of expectation. I would have less of a problem if these expectations were not trickling down to high school kids. My intention is to set the record straight with facts. In order to prove this I poured over the NFL Combine results for the six years that I had on file. The following statistics are taken directly from the Combine results. It should be noted that although the Combine times are considered “electronic”, they are closer to handheld than electronic.

There are three potential timing options:

1- Electronic start- electronic finish. This should be the standard but, unfortunately is not. The start is done with a touch pad and the finish with a photocell. This is the most accurate and as a result yields the slowest times. An electronic start/ electronic finish time has been shown to be .22 seconds slower than a hand held 40 yard dash. ( Brown, 2004)

2- Hand Start- electronic finish. This is a system used uniquely at the NFL Combine. A hand start-electronic finish will be approximately .1 seconds slower than a hand held 40 yard dash. In the combine the use of hand start will be particularly evident in the faster ten yard dash times. Athletes will run 10 yard times much closer to a hand held but, times at each following split will be closer to the electronic time.

3- Hand Start- hand finish- this is the fastest and least accurate. Handheld times tend to be faster but are clearly more prone to human error. Many of the legendary times I believe were hand-held timing combined with human error or human expectation.

At the NFL Combine in 1996, 97, 98, 2001 and 2003 and 2006 no one ran a 4.2. No one. Not one person. In 2001 Ladainian Tomlinson ran one  40 in 4.36, five in the 4.4’s and vertical jumped 40.5. 2003 was a fast year, yet still produced no 4.2’s. Ten athletes ran 4.3’s in 2003. The heaviest was a 223 pound running back. The Combine track is always said to be slow but the truth is it is simply accurate. All of these supposed fast times seem to be run at times when no independent verification is available. Seems a bit curious doesn’t it. Here’s another angle on the whole  “speed” thing. Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis ran split times of 4.67 for 40 meters ( Bryan, Rose-Hulman) The split times are below. 1.84 10 yd  2.86 20 (1.02 split) 3.8 30 (.94 split) 4.67 40 (.87 split) 40 meters is 43.74 yards. This would make the distance approximately ten percent further. This means we could reduce the time by approximately .36 seconds to account for the additional 3.7 yards. This would mean that in constant acceleration mode the best sprinters in the history of the world, using blocks, ran 4.31 for 40 yards. Does it seem plausible that high school football players can run faster times without blocks. The table below shows some of the athletes who ran below 4.4 at the NFL Combine. Obviously the athletes are getting faster but, we still don’t see the dreaded 4.2’s we hear so much about. In 2005 I believe one athlete actually ran a 4.2 although I did not have those stats available. One athlete in a decade.     In 2006 of nineteen running backs listed in the internet report (unofficial) Maurice Jones-Drew of UCLA was the only 4.3 and he ran a 4.39. In other words one running back ran under 4.4 and, he did it by one one-hundreth. Four wide receivers out of thirty-one ran under 4.4. In fact five ran over 4.6. This means more wide receivers ran over 4.6 than under 4.4. 2006 was an exceptional year for defensive backs with nine sub 4.4’s. The key, again in 2006 was that there were no 4.2’s in the results I saw. As coaches, we need to stop perpetuating the myths. We need to tell our athletes what the average at the NFL Combine was and not what the best  “freak” times were. We need to further explain to them that it is unrealistic to expect to even meet the NFL averages. As with everything in our society, we have raised the bar unrealistically high. Let’s be honest with ourselves and with our athletes.


Modeling World Class Sprinters in 100 Meter Dash  Kurt Bryan, Department of Mathematics, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute IN 47803 USA. Brian J. Winkel, Department of Mathematics,  Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute IN 47803 USA.

Assessment of Linear Sprinting Performance: A Theoretical Paradigm Todd Brown, Jason Vescovi, Jaci VanHeest Journal of Science and SportsMedicine (2004) 3, 203-210

NFL Combine Results- compiled from various sources.

Recently on

Posted in Uncategorized on November 17, 2011 by mboyle1959

The fall session is winding down at MBSC as Thanksgiving and high school hockey season approach. After this week, we’ll be taking next week to enjoy Thanksgiving and prepare for the winter session, which begins the following week. This is a really exciting time of year for us.

While the fall session may in fact be winding down, things on the forum have been really picking up. The content just keeps flooding in, and the forum discussions have gone up a notch too.

TJ Allan kicked things off with a business article called Know Your Numbers. It’s great to have more business-oriented content coming in, and if you’re a gym owner or are considering making the plunge, this is something you’ll really want to read.

Next up, David Lasnier talked about Taking Core Training to the Next Level with Perturbation. This is an interesting concept to progress a lot of the core exercises you are already probably doing.

Joseph Lightfoot changed the pace a little bit with his piece called What I Learned From Training Someone With a Disability where he discusses training a client with cerebral palsy. You begin to realize just how lucky we are to be a site with members that have such a broad range of skill sets and experiences. Joseph does a great job with this one and if you train any special population clients you will find this very useful.

Matt Delany followed up with an article called Cleaning Up the Olympic Lifts. We’ve had some recent articles and forum discussions about teaching the clean, but this piece talks more about general cues that can work well for all the Olympic lifts.

BJ Gaddour then came in with an extensive pdf file called 7 Deadly Workout Sins. This is extremely comprehensive and detailed and pertains to just about anyone that either trains people or just trains themselves (i.e. every member on the site), so definitely take the time to read this. BJ was extremely generous giving this to us, and again it makes you realize how lucky we are on the site.

Last but certainly not least, Alwyn Cosgrove wrote Training Schizophrenia, which serves as a great reminder to all of us. We’re actually planning on adding this to the “Strength Coach Classics” list, which shows you how much we like it.

On the video front, we showed a Valslide Hip Flexion drill that works as a great corrective exercise for the Hurdle Step. Jon Rimmer then showed a great progression where he adds in a rotary stability component along with a pushup. Check these out and give them a try.

Forum discussions have also been picking up, and it’s great to be able to share thoughts with some of the brightest minds in the fields. Just as an example, Dave Tenney, Joel Jamieson, and Patrick Ward have been having a great discussion about Recovery Strategies that you may want to check out.

Be sure to log on and catch up on anything you’ve missed, and don’t hesitate to ask questions.

The next check-in won’t be until after Thanksgiving, so take care and enjoy the holiday!

Using a Weighted Sled to Improve Speed

Posted in Random Thoughts, Updates, Training, Training Females, Uncategorized, Youth Training with tags , on November 16, 2011 by mboyle1959

I wrote this a few years ago for but, the topic keeps coming up.

Before even beginning, lets clear up one point.

Sport is about acceleration, not speed.

We have a problem in sports. Coaches consistently use the wrong term when discussing the quantity they covet most. Tests like the ten, twenty and forty yard dash are actually tests of acceleration not speed. You only need to look at world-class sprinters to realize that top speed is not even achieved until approximately 60 meters. As coaches our interest is not in top speed but, rather in acceleration, the zero to sixty of the auto world. How rapidly an athlete accelerates will determine success in team sports, not what the athletes absolute speed is.

Why does this matter? Because a great deal of the research on speed development focuses on speed in a track and field context and not in a sport context. In track the shortest event is the 55 meters, in sport the long event is a forty yard dash (although baseball will go 60). The track influence may in fact have limited application to sport due to sports frequent use of acceleration mechanics versus speed mechanics. In training for track, coaches frequently make reference to the pulling action in running and work on drills to develop a pawing action against the ground. In sport the action is primarily pushing with the center of gravity slightly ahead of the feet, kind of a reverse Michael Johnson. This may mean that much of what we currently view as speed development may have limited application to team sport athletes.

Numerous studies have discredited the weighted sled as a tool for speed development citing the sleds limited effect on top speed. In truth, the evidence that weighted sleds may not improve top speed running, does not apply to acceleration and may have led us to undervalue a potentially valuable piece of equipment. In fact many authors who have stated that the weighted sled did not improve speed, do indicate that it will improve acceleration. Our problem has been that we misinterpreted the results of the research. Most coaches spend time working on form running and technique to improve speed. These same coaches also include lower body strength workouts to improve strength. Although these are both obviously important there may be a missing link. The development of specific strength. How often do we see athletes who run “pretty” but not fast? In my opinion many coaches attempting to develop speed spend far too much time on technique drills and far too little time on developing the specific power and specific strength necessary run faster. In fact in 2000 The Journal of Applied Physiology published an article called Mechanical Basis of Human Running Speed. The article synopsis begins with the line “faster top running speeds are achieved with greater ground forces, not more rapid leg movements”. This has become known as the Weyand study after lead researcher Peter Weyand. Weighted sled drills target the specific muscles used in sprinting and help to bridge the gap between form running drills and weight room exercises like squats and Olympic lifts.

Many athletes can squat large amounts of weight. Far fewer athletes seem to be able to run fast. Any student of speed will tell you that many of the strength exercises commonly recommended for speed development work hip extension but, not hip hyperextension. In running fast, all of the force production is from hip hyperextension. The ability to apply force to the ground and create forward movement can only occur when the foot is placed under the center of mass and pushed back Although squats etc. will train the muscles involved, the training is not specific to the act of sprinting. This may be one reason we see a higher correlation to vertical jump improvement than to speed improvement through strength training. A weighted sled teaches strong athletes how to produce the type of force that moves them forward. The sports scientists like to break this down into special strength and specific strength. Although I believe the difference is minimal. It is important to understand the difference between the two quantities.

Special Strength – movements with resistance that incorporate the joint dynamics of the skill. Sled marching would fall into the special strength category. I believe that sled marching may in fact be the best tool available for speed development. An athlete’s inability to produce force in the action of sprinting becomes glaringly obvious in sled marching.

Specific Strength – movements with resistance that are imitative of the joint action. I would place sled running in the specific strength category

In the past coaches have recommended that resisted speed development work must not slow the athlete down more than 10% or must not involve more than 10% of the athletes bodyweight. These recommendations seem to be based on motor learning research that indicated that excessive loads would alter the motor patterns of activities like sprinting or throwing. I have always felt that there was a missing link to speed development but, until a few years ago this so called “10% rule” kept me from aggressively pursuing my gut feeling. Presently, my feeling is that loads up to and exceeding the athletes’ bodyweight can be used for special strength work as long as the athlete exhibits a similar motor pattern. Think of sled marching as a special type of leg press. Athletes incorporate the joint dynamics of sprinting through hip hyperextension against resistance. This can be an extremely heavy movement as long as we get a technically sound march action ( perfect posture)

With sled running, the approach moves toward specific strength. In sled running the loads will obviously be lighter but, I still do not follow the 10% rule. The main variable in sled training is not the weight on the sled but, the motor pattern. If an athlete can hold an acceleration position and run without altering mechanics than this is a specific strength exercise for sprinting. Why should we be limited by arbitrary guidelines like a 10% load or a 10% decrease in speed. Over twenty yards, ten percent is 2 one-hundreths of a second. The key should be to look at the athletes posture and motor pattern. If the athlete has to alter the mechanics to produce the desired action than the load is too heavy. The so-called 10% rule does not allow us to apply progressive resistance concepts to this form of training.

Another obvious but overlooked variable that alters the so-called 10% rule is the surface being run on. Loads placed on the sled will be lighter on grass and heavier on AstroTurf. This simply relates to coefficient of friction. Less weight produces a large amount of friction as the sled moves through grass. On Astroturf or a similar surface, the same weight would be too light. Another variable is a flat sled versus a double runner sled. A flat sled will again produce greater friction and as a result will necessitate a lighter load on the sled to get a similar effect. I have gone so far as to surf on towels indoors behind our athletes in a well-waxed hallway.

The reality is that we may have misinterpreted the message when it comes to resistance training for sprints. Although research shows that sled training may not improve the athletes ability to run at top speed, it will help the athlete to get faster. Remember, sport is about acceleration, not top speed. Very few team sport athletes ever get to the what track coaches like to call absolute speed mechanics. The weighted sled may be the most underrated tool for speed development due to our misinterpretation and misunderstanding of the research and terminology surrounding speed development.

ACL Injury Prevention is Just Good Training

Posted in Injuries, Updates, Training, Training Females, Youth Training with tags , on November 14, 2011 by mboyle1959

I wrote this a few years ago for

Is ACL injury prevention just good training? I think so. The program we use for ACL injury prevention is actually the same program we use with everyone! The truth is ACL injury prevention programs often consist more of packaging than new concepts. Calling a program an ACL prevention program may be nothing more than a way into the head of the athletic trainer, physical therapist or coach. But, if that’s what it takes, I’m all for it. However, as coaches we have to realize that we should be practicing great injury prevention concepts with all our athletes and our weekend warriors.

Because female athletes are much more likely to be injured, those who coach female athletes tend to be more interested in the concept of ACL injury prevention. However, obviously both genders can be injured. In fact, estimates run to over 100,000 ACL tears per year, with 30,000 of them high school age females. In any case, coaches should still practice these injury reduction concepts with both male and female athletes. Then again, ACL injury prevention may be the thought that gets your women’s basketball coach to buy into the program.

to read the entire article, click here

This Christmas Help an American Business

Posted in Random Thoughts, Uncategorized on November 11, 2011 by mboyle1959

I found this on the internet and edited it . Sorry that I can’t give the author proper credit.

Christmas  2011 — Birth of a New Tradition

As the holidays approach, the giant  overseas factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with  monstrous piles of goods — merchandise that has been  produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This  year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans.  There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found  that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

It’s time to think  outside the box, people. Everyone — yes ( almost) EVERYONE gets  their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local hair  salon or barber?

Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who  are thinking about some health improvement. (Editors Note MBSC Gift Certs are available)

Who wouldn’t appreciate  getting their car detailed? Small, locally owned detail shops and car  washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift  certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think  nothing of plonking down the Benjamines on a flat-screen?  Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn  mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local  golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all  offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery  sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint.  Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains — this is about  supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line  to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn’t use an oil change  for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by a working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE  the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could  use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get  his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for  something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit  them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden  boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants  and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or  ballet at your hometown theatre.
Musicians need love too, so find a venue  showcasing local bands.

Honestly,  people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand lights for  the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents  stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the  mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging  American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And,  when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the  benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine.

THIS  is the new American Christmas tradition.

Forward  this to everyone on your mailing list — post it to discussion groups —  throw up a post on Craigslist in the Rants and Raves section in your city —  send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations, and TV news  departments. This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn’t that  what Christmas is about?