Archive for February, 2013

Start Your Day Happier

Posted in Uncategorized on February 27, 2013 by mboyle1959

If you watch this you will be well on your way to a great day today.

Psychology Trumps Physiology Every Time

Posted in Uncategorized on February 24, 2013 by mboyle1959

This is another re-post from 2009

My friend Alwyn Cosgrove has a way with words. He has the ability to succinctly sum things up. Last year I was describing some training results that did not seem physiologically correct. I had been doing circuit training with my athletes, primarily for teambuilding purposes. However the circuits we were doing were causing excellent strength gains. I was dumb founded. I was doing things that should not produce strength gains yet they were gaining strength.

Alwyn summed it up simply by saying “Psychology trumps physiology every time”. As usual, I grabbed my notebook and wrote Alwyn’s thought down. Sometimes as a coach we can’t see the forest because of the trees. I was trying to design the perfect program with the perfect balance of sets, and reps. What I wasn’t getting was the effect of peer pressure. Athletes pushing each other through a circuit was causing an increase in effort.

I think it is easy to get caught up in concepts. How CNS intensive is the training, how much rest between sets etc. etc.? However, what we often miss is the human element. When I think of many of the coaches I know who are having great success with strength increases one thing they all have in common is the emphasis on effort and environment. If you read Jason Ferrugia’s work or Joe DeFranco’s work or any of the WestSide info words like effort, intensity and environment always seem to come up.

This past summer I experimented with a combination of HIT and peer pressure. We did a “test” almost every day. Tests could be 1 RM, 5 RM, or 10 RM but, what they had in common was an attempt to get as many perfect reps as possible with all your teammates watching. It was both fun and productive.

I think it is way too easy to get caught up in the science and forget that young athletes will respond under pressure. Next time you think program design, remember Alwyn’s words “psychology trumps physiology every time”.


Why Aren’t You A Member?

Posted in Random Thoughts, Strength Coach Podcast, Updates, Training, Training Females, Uncategorized, Youth Training with tags , , on February 22, 2013 by mboyle1959

I confess, I’m part of owner of but that still won’t stop me from telling you to sign up. We have now added Strength and Conditioning Webinars to all the other content and, the fact is there is probably too much content to read and watch. ( that’s a really good problem)

For less than $15 a month you can get your questions answered by some of the industries best on our forums as well as read two articles, watch one video, and get continuing ed updates. Take a minute and check it out if you are not already a member. You won’t be sorry. In fact, you can do a trial for only $1 for 3 days. You have nothing to lose. If you try it and don’t like it ask me for the dollar next time you see me. I’ll be happy to give it back

Training is Like Farming

Posted in MBSC News, Random Thoughts, Training on February 17, 2013 by mboyle1959

I wrote this in 2005, I think and reposted it three years ago. Here we go again.

I think I remember Stephen Covey in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People making reference to what I believe he called “the law of the farm.” The reference was meant to show that most of the truly good things in life take time and can’t be forced or rushed. Covey described the process of farming and alluded to how it requires patience and diligence to grow crops properly. In addition, farming requires belief in the system. The farmer must believe that all the hard work and preparation will eventually yield a long-term result.

As a strength and conditioning coach, business owner and personal trainer, the concept has always stuck with me. The process of exercising is much like farming or like planting a lawn. There are no immediate results from exercise and there are no immediate results from farming.

First, the seeds must be planted. Then fertilizer (nutrition) and water must be applied consistently. Much like fertilizer in farming, too much food can be a detriment to the exerciser. Only the correct amounts cause proper growth. Overfeeding can cause problems, as can underfeeding. As I sit and wait for my lawn to sprout or crops to grow, I feel many of the same frustrations of the new exerciser. When will I see results? How come nothing is happening? All this work and — nothing.

The key is to not quit. Have faith in the process. Continue to add water and wait. Farming and exercising are eerily similar. Continue to exercise and eat well and suddenly a friend or co-worker will say, “Have you lost weight”? Your reaction might be, “It’s about time someone noticed.” Much like the first blades of grass poking through the ground, you begin to see success. You begin to experience positive feedback. Clothes begin to fit differently.

When my friends or clients talk to me about their frustration with their initial lack of progress in an exercise program, I always bring up the farm analogy. We live in a world obsessed with quick fixes and instant results. This is why the farm analogy can be both informative and comforting.

An exercise program must be approached over a period of weeks and months, not days. The reality is that there is no quick fix, no easy way, no magic weight loss plan, no secret cellulite formula. There is only the law of the farm. You will reap what you sow. In reality, you will reap what you sow and care for. If you are consistent and diligent with both diet and exercise, you will eventually see results. However, remember, much like fertilizer and water, diet and exercise go together. Try to grow crops or a lawn without water. No amount of effort will overcome the lack of vital nutrients.

The law of the farm.

Plant the seeds.

Feed and water properly.

Wait for results; they will happen, not in days, but in weeks and months.

The Curse of Knowledge

Posted in Random Thoughts, Strength Coach Podcast, Updates, Training on February 16, 2013 by mboyle1959

I wrote this in December for but figured I’d share it here also.

How could knowledge be a curse? Don’t we talk at length about the value of continuing education?

Unfortunately, knowledge can be both a blessing and a curse. In fact, too much knowledge can sometimes actually make you a bad teacher. How many times have you taken a class or heard a lecture by an expert in a field and left confused?

The speaker has The Curse of Knowledge.

In the book Made to Stick, the authors describe a very simple study done at Stanford in 1996 by Elizabeth Newton which serves as a perfect illustration for The Curse of Knowledge.

Newton divided the study participants into two groups: tappers and listeners. The tappers were given a song to “tap out” on the top of the desk. These were simple songs like Happy Birthday and The Star Spangled Banner. The listener’s job was to try to recognize the song. The tapper tapped out the song on the desk top while the listeners listened. Pretty simple, except for the fact that the tappers had The Curse of Knowledge. They knew the song and could hear it in their heads. The listeners had no such knowledge. The interesting thing about the study was that tappers thought that listeners would get the song right fifty percent of the time, but in actuality, listeners only got the title of the song two percent of the time. The tappers (think teachers) were frustrated because they knew the answer to the “test”. They also couldn’t understand how the listener (student) could not “get it”.

Now just substitute teacher for tapper and student for listener, or coach and player, or boss and employee. Look at the numbers. Fifty percent expected but two percent results. These stats make how we run practice , how we teach or, how we run our staff training seem really important. This study explained so much to me. It explained why I say KISS so much. Keep It Simple S _ _ _ _ _. What I really am saying is remember the listeners. Don’t strive to show how smart you are, instead, strive to show what a great teacher you are. I now believe the key to KISS is to strive to MISS ( Make It Simple S _ _ _ _ _). We need to keep it simple for our staff, students, or team by making it simple. We need to make sure that the Curse of Knowledge does not frustrate us and our students, players, or employees.

I always tell my coaches that if it appears that the group is not grasping a concept, back up and say “let me explain that again. I must have done a bad job explaining it the first time”. This puts the onus on the teacher, coach or boss. Sven Nater, one of John Wooden’s prize pupils, wrote a book entitled You Haven’t Taught Me Until I’ve Learned. It is an excellent title. We must realize that we have not taught until someone has learned and that our knowledge can often be a detriment not a benefit. Understanding The Curse of Knowledge is the key to great instruction in any field.

To All The Internet Critics

Posted in Media, Random Thoughts, Strength Coach Podcast, Updates, Training, Uncategorized on February 14, 2013 by mboyle1959


This is a reprint from three years ago but, things have gotten worse, not better

It is amazing that coaches who have accomplished so little can find the time to criticize those who actually work for a living. I guess the beauty of being underemployed is that there is plenty of time to keep up with the writings and workings of your enemies.  However, the beauty is that the criticism reminds me of the great quote below and continues to strengthen my resolve to improve my program and my athletes.



The Man in the Arena


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”


 Theodore Roosevelt


This wonderful quote from Theodore Roosevelt goes out to all the internet experts who never write articles but, consistently post criticism of what other have written. They are never “The Man in the Arena”, instead they are the fan in the stands shouting at those who play.


Great minds like Columbus and Galileo were ridiculed by small minds. Sports has the term Monday Morning Quarterback. Strength and conditioning has internet experts.


It is amazing how many experts there are who know all the answers after all the questions have been answered by someone else. You know what I want to know? Have they ever even heard Paul Hodges or Stuart McGill speak in person? Have they ever conversed with these people?


Paul Hodges has done one person deep needle EMG studies on himself because he could not find subjects. Stuart McGill travels around the world and has spent thousands of hours researching the spine.


The average internet critic has spent hours trying to find the hole in the argument, to celebrate briefly the “I gotcha moment” alone in a room. The highest compliment one can achieve is to be the subject of mindless criticism. It indicates that you have truly made it.

When to Specialize?

Posted in Hockey, Random Thoughts, Training, Training Females, Uncategorized, Youth Training on February 5, 2013 by mboyle1959

I just read an article in which Kim McCullough ( a former MBSC intern by the way) talked about the difficulty of balancing the concept of early specialization with the concept of 10,000 hours needed for expert status. If we really need to accumulate 10,000 hours to become an expert in any discipline then it would appear we need to start very young? However on the flip side, all the expert experience seems to point away from early specialization in one sport? Who’s right?

Kim quoted a Scandinavian study that showed that elite performers cranked up the hours between ages 15 and 18? How and why is this significant? I think potentially in three ways:

1- Non specialized hours count early. All movement counts toward the 10,000 hours from ages 5-15. If  mastery of a particular sport is the goal it is not about hours of that particular sport but hours of a broad range of sports that lay the foundation for elite performance later. Kids need to kick, hit, jump, and throw in as many venues as possible to develop the wide range of athletic skills that will eventually result in elite performance in one area.  
Specialization early is probably more detrimental not beneficial. In other words, soccer hours count towards hockey as a young child learns to connect the brain to the feet and develops sprint abilities and energy systems. In the same way, gymnastics, martial arts and baseball are all part of the early composition of the 10,000 hours. What does not count is TV and NHL Play Station. I even think watching high quality games counts at this point as kids develop passion and game concepts.

2- Games count but they count less than you think. You might want to view a game based on minutes of play or better yet minutes of ball or puck contact. A typical youth hockey game might count for 15 minutes ( actual play time) or one minute ( actual puck contact). Don’t get caught up in the “more games” thing.

3- Deep practice or deliberate practice becomes more likely and more tolerable after a certain age. After age 12 kids seem to be able to accept that fact that practice might not always be fun. In the same books that tout 10,000 hours we also find the concept of deep practice or deliberate practice. Both concepts focus on repetition of skills slightly out of reach and begin to focus on quality reps done with feedback.  I dont think that deep practice is normal for young kids although it is a basic tenent of elite weight class sports like gymnastics and figure skating. After 12 years of age things like strength training, conditioning, puck shooting and stickhandling begin to count for the young hockey player.

The key to developing an elite performer in any sport is to balance the concepts and to realize that a broad base is actually the foundation of a 10,000 hour pyramid that leads to elite performance.

You Just Need to Read This

Posted in Low Back Pain, Media, Random Thoughts, Training, Training Females with tags on February 1, 2013 by mboyle1959

I can’t begin to find words to describe this article ( PS- none of them would be good). I know I’ll get a few hate posts but here goes. Read this:

It’s Crossfit and It’s Going to Hurt.