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An Interview with Brijesh Patel

Written on January 29, 2008 at 10:16 am, by Eric Cressey

By: Eric Cressey

It seems only fitting that I kick off the interviews with one of the guys who played a large role in getting me to where I am today.  When I arrived at the University of Connecticut, I was a little unsure about where my graduate school experience would take me, although I was leaning toward becoming a hardcore geek and doing loads of research.  Then, I met Brijesh and Pat Dixon and hit it off immediately with both of them.  These guys really took me under their wing in my first few weeks on campus.  Pat gave me the tour of campus, and Brijesh took the time to chat with me about anything related to training, nutrition, and life in general.  Perhaps most importantly, these two guys brought me into the UCONN varsity weight room to train, and it was there that my love of coaching really went to a whole new level.

The day I met Brijesh, he invited me to come to watch him coach the baseball guys the next morning at 6AM.  I showed up without thinking twice.  The passion “B” displayed for coaching and his complete control over an indoor track full of 25 college guys were really remarkable – especially since he did it in a very mild manner.  B isn’t one of those coaches who needs to scream and yell at you all the time to make you better, and I’ve really modeled myself from his example.  Perhaps most impressively was that every one of those players was wide awake at the crack of dawn; they were anxious to be coached by a guy whom they obviously respected tremendously as someone who could get them to where they needed to be.  That was a little over 30 months ago, and my coaching career has absolutely skyrocketed since then; I owe a lot of this success to B.

EC: Hey B, thanks for agreeing to do this.  Some of our readers might not have heard of you (and it’s their loss), so let’s try to bring them up to speed.  Fill them in a bit on your background, what you’ve got going on now, your pets, favorite color, whatever.

BP: Thanks Eric, I’m honored to be one of your first interviewees and would love to help out a fellow Husky and a Husky fellow.

EC: I was a husky kid long before I went to UCONN.  That’s what they used to call us fat kids when they didn’t want to hurt our feelings.

Mom: “You’re not fat; you’re just husky.  That’s why you need to wear elastic jeans and sweatpants all the time.”

Little Eric: “What does “husky” mean?”

Mom: “It just means that you play hard, honey.  Now wipe the cotton candy stains off your face and try on these Bugle Boys.”

I digress, but not totally.  You were a “husky” guy before UCONN, too, right?

BP: Yes!  This is kind of a long story, but I’ll try to keep it short so I don’t bore any of your readers.  I was always a “bigger” kid growing up, and had trouble participating in many sports because of my disadvantageous size.  I went out for football my freshman year in high school and vowed to lose enough weight so that I would have the opportunity to play more.  At my peak, I weighed 225 lbs (standing in at a whopping 5’4) with probably a body-fat of 30% (and that’s being generous).

I did a complete overhaul on my diet, began to exercise every day, and read anything I could get my hands on regarding training, and nutrition.  I ended up going a little over board and lost 90 lbs in six months.  I was then introduced to the weight-room and fell in love with it.  As a high school senior, I knew I wanted to be involved in athletics in some way and what better way than athletic preparation?

EC: Sounds all too familiar to me; how did you take the next step and get into coaching?

BP: I went to the University of Connecticut and volunteered in the varsity weight room in my second week of school.  I began by simply observing and asking questions and each year I gained more and more responsibility.  By my senior year, I was given two teams to train and coach on my own, which was an unbelievable opportunity in itself.  This worked itself into a graduate assistant position at UConn for another year a half.  Along the way I was fortunate enough to complete internships with Mike Boyle at his professional facility, and with Jeff Oliver at the College of the Holy Cross (where I presently coach).

EC: Mike and Jeff are both great mentors; who else inspired you?

BP: There have been a number of people that have inspired me in a number of ways.  I really admire all of the people that I have gotten to work with over the years, namely: Jerry Martin, Andrea Hudy, Shawn Windle, Teena Murray, Chris West, Moe Butler, Pat Dixon, Mike Boyle, Ed Lippie, Walter Norton Jr., Jeff Oliver, Liz Proctor, Charles Maka, and anybody else that I forgot.

I would also like to mention that people that have really shaped the industry and been willing to share their own knowledge: Everybody at T-Nation (Cressey, Robertson, TC, Waterbury, Shugart, Thibaudeau, Berardi, John, Cosgrove, Tate, Poliquin, King, and many others), Louie Simmons, Robb Rogers, Vern Gambetta, Mike Boyle, Paul Chek, Juan Carlos Santana, Mike Clark, Carl Valle, Mark Verstegen, Charlie Francis, and all the other great minds and coaches in the field today.

EC: What frustrates you the most about this industry?

BP: The number one problem in my opinion is the lack of “open-mindedness” of coaches, and self-proclaimed “gurus.”  This may be hard for some people to believe, but there is more than one way to get it done (create a strong, lean, mobile, and injury-resistant athlete).  I was asked a question recently about who I don’t really like in the industry, and I don’t think I could actually answer that question.  If you take the time to listen to what people say, you’ll find that everybody has something to offer.  We need to get over our egos and realize that you could learn something from somebody – even if it’s how NOT to do something.

EC: Describe a day in the life of Brijesh Patel – coaching, training yourself, you name it.

BP: I typically wake up by 5 am (I push it to 6 am on the weekends; I know, I’m a rebel!), have a couple cups of coffee and am out the door to work.  I like to train in the morning before it gets crazy in the weightroom, so I’ll usually train for about 90-120 minutes.  I’m not training for anything in particular, so I try the programs I write for my athletes.  This benefits me because I can see what is realistic and what works and what doesn’t before I try something out on my athletes.

The rest of my morning consists of catching up on emails, writing programs, speaking with coaches, helping out athletes who may come in to make up workouts, and reading up on articles.  Our afternoons are extremely busy with teams coming in every 30 minutes, and this lasts from about 2 pm to 6 pm.  If you want to check out weightroom efficiency, feel free to stop up to Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.  Then I’ll usually do some personal training or group training with high school kids (which I think is the best time to start training).

EC: The “knowledge is power” mentality is something I’m going to reiterate in each of my newsletters; it’s often been said that you should be reading at least one hour per day if you want to make it anywhere in life.  With that said, one question that everyone I interview will have to answer is “What are ten books that every aspiring coach should read or watch?”  We’re even going to make it easy on readers by providing them links to these books and DVDs.  You’re one of the most well-read guys I’ve ever met, B; what are your top ten?


1. Training for Speed, by Charlie Francis

2. The Egoscue Method of Health through Motion, by Pete Egoscue

3a. Designing Strength Training Programs and Facilities, by Mike Boyle

3b. Functional Training for Sports, by Mike Boyle

4. Science and Practice of Strength Training, by Vladimir Zatsiorsky

5. Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman

6. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff—and it’s all Small Stuff, by Richard Carlson

7. Science of Sports Training, by Thomas Kurz

8a. The Black Book of Training Secrets, by Christian Thibaudeau

8b. Theory and Application of Modern Strength and Power Methods, by Christian


9. Modern Trends in Strength Training, by Charles Poliquin

10. Who Moved My Cheese?, by Spencer Johnson and Kenneth Blanchard

I think these are a good mix of practical training that works, and personal development that will aid you in becoming a better coach.

EC:  If you had to pick five things our readers could do right now to become better lifters/athletes/coaches/trainers, what would they be?


1. Seek Knowledge – To become the best athlete/coach/trainer/person you have to go out and seek to learn from the best.  This knowledge can come from self-help books, business books, college classes, seminars, videos, the internet, you name it.  Just go out and learn.

2. Listen to People – This is a huge problem for all people.  We all judge people and shut them and their ideas out based on what we think we know about them.  When we actually take the time to listen to what somebody has to say, then and only then should we really judge.  If it works for somebody else and not for you find out why it works for them…don’t be quick to judge.

3. Train – There is nothing more frustrating to see than coaches who don’t do the programs that they write.  How do you know if it works?  How do you know what it feels like?  How do you know if it’s too heavy, too light, too much or not enough?

The only way to find out is to do it.  The program may look great on paper, but if it’s too much and you can’t recover from it, what’s the point?

4. Balance – Balance is a general word that refers to how we should do everything in life.  If we do too much of any one thing, something else is going to suffer.  For example, if we spend too much time at work our family and social life are going to suffer.  If we train our internal rotators too much with excessive volume our external rotators are going to suffer and leave us more susceptible to shoulder injuries.  If we eat too many carbohydrates, our insulin sensitivity is going to decrease and increase our chances of having type 2 diabetes.  We need to have balance in everything we do in our lives: work, family, social life, training, and nutrition.

5. Coach People, not Athletes – The more experienced I get in this field, the more I realize that I not only coach athletes, but coach people.  As coaches and trainers, we can have a profound influence on the people with whom we work.  We need to realize that we are not only helping an athlete achieve their goals, but also helping them to become better people.  We are teaching them what they can do mentally and physically, how to focus their mind, how to stay positive, how to make changes in their lifestyle, how to reduce stress, and how to lead a healthier lifestyle.  We run a summer program for high school kids and the biggest changes we see in them are their confidence levels.  Parents always remark on how our coaches have been a positive influence on their children.

“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

-Veronica Jutras (former HC women’s basketball player and Be Athletic Camp Counselor)

EC: Great advice, B.  On a semi-related note, what’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your training and professional careers?  Looking back, what would you do differently?

BP: Boy, where do I begin?  My first mistake could have been all of the long distance training I did to lose weight when I was in high school.  I’m positive that that training killed my chances to make it to the NBA (other than the fact that my genetics weren’t the greatest to begin with).  Side note: I haven’t grown much since high school, either.

As I mentioned earlier, being close-minded and not seeking enough knowledge were the biggest mistakes I made.  I thought I knew enough and didn’t believe in what other coaches did.  Because it didn’t make sense to me, I closed them out and thought they were bad coaches.  I didn’t seek to understand their perspectives or what they were looking to accomplish.  I also stopped seeking out new information for a while and became content and comfortable.  I soon realized that this was not a quick ticket to become a better coach or a better person.  I know now that to become better, I have to try and learn from everybody that I meet.  The only way to do that is to ask questions and seek to understand their perspective.

EC: Where do you see yourself in a few years, and how would you like to be remembered way down the road?

BP: In a couple years, I imagine myself as a head strength and conditioning coach at a university.  I would like to run an excellent program that is respected by my peers, and produces quality professionals.  I ultimately want to be known as a good educator and teacher.  I really relish the opportunity to work with interns who are eager to learn and become good professionals.  Another thing that I hope for is to have a lasting impact upon all the athletes with whom I work.  There is nothing more satisfying than to know that you have helped somebody become a better person.

EC: I think it’s safe to say that you’ve already accomplished more in your 20s than most coaches accomplish in your lifetime, and there’s no doubt that you’ll continue to be a force on the performance enhancement scene for decades to come.  That said, feel free to use the space below to shamelessly plug all of your products and services.

BP: Robb Rogers, Shawn Windle, and I make up S B Coaches College (www.sbcoachescollege.com), an internet education business committed to bringing you the latest information about the methods used by top-level strength coaches to prepare their athletes for competition.  Whether you are a sport coach, strength coach, or athlete, we will provide you with products and information that will help you and your athletes achieve new levels of performance.  You will find hundreds of inspirational and motivational quotes in our coach’s corner, thought-provoking tip of the months, information-packed newsletters, easy-to-understand articles, PowerPoint presentations that we have utilized, and high quality CD-ROMs and manuals for sale.

Readers can contact me at bnpuconn@hotmail.com

EC: Thanks for the time, B!

BP: Thanks Eric, I really appreciated and enjoyed this opportunity.

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