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An Interview with Jay Floyd

Written on January 31, 2008 at 9:06 am, by Eric Cressey

By: Eric Cressey

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jay Floyd, I would highly recommend searching around for some of his stuff and familiarizing yourself with his name.  In addition to being one of the most accomplished lifters and knowledgeable and passionate coaches around, Jay is a rare breed in the strength and conditioning world: a genuinely good guy.  He understands that he’s developing people as much as he’s developing athletes, and he’ll always take the time to help out up-and-coming lifters.  I know because three years ago, I was one of those lifters.  I was on the fence about whether or not to get into powerlifting, and my discussions with Jay were a huge deciding factor in me making the jump into competitive lifting.  He made me realize that I couldn’t ever be the coach that I wanted to be unless I was doing my best to walk a mile in my athletes’ shoes, and to do so, I needed to get back the competitive mindset I had when I was involved in athletics as I grew up.  Simply stated, I owe him a lot.

EC: Hi Jay; thanks for taking the time to be with us today.  We’ve interacted a lot over the years, but I’m not a lot of our readers are familiar with you and your accomplishments.  By all means, bring them up to speed by taking a few paragraphs to brag about yourself!

JF: Well I played football, baseball, and threw the shot put in track in high school, and I have always loved lifting weights.  I started lifting in my room when I was 12 years old; I would crank up “Too Legit To Quit” and lift like crazy.  My dedication to lifting really paid off early for me, as I was able to start at tight end as a sophomore in the toughest classification in Georgia. I went on to be a three-year starter on the football team, was Team Captain, Best Offensive Lineman, Weight Champ, and all those things. I even got to play in the Georgia Dome my senior year.

After high school, I only had a couple of walk-on opportunities because of my height (6ft.), so I decided to just go to school and not play football.  While in school, I got a degree in Exercise Science and immersed myself in learning as much as I could about strength and conditioning.  During this time I also started powerlifting; now, my current best lifts are an 845 squat, 535 bench, 640 deadlift and 2000 total in the 275lb class.

EC: Great stuff, Jay; what are you up to now?

JF: I am now the Strength and Conditioning and Offensive Line Coach at Alexander High School in Douglasville, GA.

When I got here less than two years ago, we only had three 400-pound squatters, zero 300-pound bench pressers, and two over 250 pounds in the power clean. At our last high school powerlifting meet, we ended up with nine 400-pound squatters, three 500-pound squatters, six 300-pound benchers, one 400-pound bencher, and six over 250 in the power clean.  My best lifter did an APC meet last weekend and squatted 650, benched 451, and deadlifted 551 at age 18 at body weight of 260.  All these lifts were done in old single-ply gear; the squat suit he used was my four-year old Metal IPF squatter, which is actually loose on me at 285!

I have written articles for Bodybuilding.com, Athletes.com, and Elitefts.com.  I am also in the works with Landon Evans on something in football that should be interesting and I have developed some exercises with bands that should change the way I coach my offensive lineman in football.

EC: I can speak from experience that coaching entire teams isn’t an easy thing to do, so I’ve got a ton of respect for what you do with your high school kids.  What are the challenges you face on a daily basis in this setting, and how do you overcome them?

JF: Without a doubt, the biggest challenge is lack of support from the other coaches and administration.  Because the school day is so full, the only time you can work with athletes is during a weight training class.  Unfortunately, our administration is not committed to putting our athletes in those classes; this lack of support is actually one of the reasons that I will not be back at this school next year.

We also face problems with the coaches of other sports. Many are ignorant to conditioning and this makes my job very difficult.  They do not stress the importance of lifting and getting stronger to the kids and that makes it tough for me to sell the program to their kids.  For most football players, it isn’t a problem, but basketball and baseball are different stories, though.  The overspecialization is killing the athletes in this country, but no one wants to see it.  A lot of really bright coaches have beaten this horse to death, so I won’t go into it any further.

Another problem I have is more is my fault entirely.  Because I compete in powerlifting, some coaches believe that this is the way we I train my kids year-round.  Although we do have elements of a traditional Westside Barbell program, their training looks nothing like mine.  However, for people who do not know the difference, it looks the same.

EC: What does a typical day in the life of Jay Floyd look like?

JF: I wake up between 5:30 and 6AM, and eat right away.  I will go to the gym and train fellow coaches, football players, and powerlifters until 8AM.  At about 8:15AM, I will start the movements from your Magnificent Mobility DVD and start to lift around 8:45AM.  I am usually done by 10:00AM, but I may do accessories throughout the day when I find the time.  I am in classes from 10:20AM until 3:30PM. If it is football season, practice starts at 4PM and I am there until about 7-7:30PM.  If it’s not football season, I hang around for a bit and then go home.  I just got married, so now the afternoons are reserved for my wife.

EC: I’m sure that – like all of us – you’ve made some mistakes along the way.  What were a few of those mistakes, and how did you turn them into positive learning experiences that benefited your athletes and you as a lifter?

JF: The biggest mistake I have made is not paying attention to mobility.  I am stuck playing catch-up now and it is much more difficult to backtrack than it is to build it in the first place and then maintain it.  I stress this heavily with my athletes now; we do mobility work of some sort every single day.

In my own training, going overboard with bands really hurt my strength.  I neglected my straight weight and raw work for too long my squat and deadlift really suffered. In fact, I just wrote an article called “Starting Strength” for EliteFTS.com about this very subject.

EC: Along those same lines, who in the industry has helped to make you the lifter and coach that you are today?  To whom have you looked for inspiration?

JF: A guy in this field is a liar if he doesn’t say that Louie Simmons has been the one of his biggest influences; I would not be where I am today if not for Louie Simmons, Dave Tate, Jim Wendler, and the rest of the guys at Westside Barbell and Elite Fitness Systems.  I only know Jim personally, but they have all helped me and been more than generous with their time and money.  Also, guys like you, Landon Evans, Steve Coppola, Jared Bruff, Donnie Thompson, Marc Bartley, and the other guys at the Compound in South Carolina have helped me tremendously with my powerlifting technigue and gear. Your Mobility DVD has been unbelievable for me.  Landon Evans is always there with brilliant ideas, and Steve Coppola and Jesse Burdick are the same way.  Jared Bruff has been a great friend to me over the past four years, as we’ve done many meets together and he has been my handler at most of them; I would not have done as well as I have if not for him.  Joe DeFranco has probably influenced my program design the most; I have done variations of his programs with my kids with great results.  I also have tons of respect for James Smith, and Jason Ferruggia has been great to me as well.  Those are the kind of people that make this business so great.

And I would be a terrible person if I did not mention my training partners for the past two years.  Clay Livingston, Joey Strickland, and Rich Fendley have pulled more bars off of me than I can count.  I especially want to thank Clay; he has been my constant training partner for the last two years. Of course, I have to thank my wife, too; she has pushed me in powerlifting more than anybody.  It is great to have that kind of support and love at home for what you do.  The best hug I ever received was when she came to the back to hug me after I totaled Elite for the first time; I think she was happier than I was!

EC: How about “book smarts?”  We also all our interviewees what their top ten book and DVD choices are; if you had to pick ten, what would they be?

JF: I think reading and constantly learning is extremely important. If you learn one thing that can help you, then it has been worth it.  I read more articles than I do books.  Books tend to be out-of-date very quickly, while articles are more current.  I do think it is somewhat important to be knowledgeable about the human body and its functions; this knowledge enables you to see through many gimmicks right away.  For instance, I had one guy tell me that he heard squats were great because they release acids that are stored in your glutes; I am not kidding.  Now, this is an otherwise very smart guy, but this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.  Anybody with any fundamental appreciation of how the human body works knows that this is completely insane.  This basic knowledge also allows you to see through most supplements and save money.

My favorite books and videos?  That’s a tough one.  I read a ton of books that have nothing to do with strength and conditioning, so I might put a couple of those in there as well.

EC: No problem; we’re all about variety around here.  If it helped you, it’s sure to help someone else.  Shoot.

JF: In no particular order:

  1. The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel
  2. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
  3. The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel
  4. High/Low Sequences of Programming and Organizing of Training by James Smith
  5. The Westside Seminar DVDs
  6. Magnificent Mobility by Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson
  7. The Parisi DVDs
  8. The Elite Fitness Exercise Index DVDs
  9. The Fair Tax Book by Neil Boortz
  10. The Terrible Truth About Liberals by Neil Boortz

EC: Some interesting stuff in there, Jay.  Not many guys can please Billy Graham, Bob Doyle, and Dave Tate in the same breath, but I’d say that you passed the test with flying colors!  Thanks again for taking the time; where can our readers find out more about you?

JF: I’m not up-to-date enough to have a website or anything, but I will hopefully have more articles up on Elitefts.com, and Landon Evans has something in the works as well.  I can be reached at Goldberg_rjf@hotmail.com. Thanks for giving me this opportunity, Eric.

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