Home Posts tagged "Sam Leahey"

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 8/17/11

Here's a list of recommended strength and conditioning reads (and views) for the week: The Death of Personal Training - This is a great webinar by Alwyn Cosgrove that won't air until 8/22, but you can sign up now to get access.  Alwyn was a great mentor to me on the business side of things when I was starting out, so it promises to be a very insightful event. Plus, he's always hilarious when he presents! Simple Posture Correction - Jim "Smitty" Smith introduces an excellent drill you can use to work on excessive scapular anterior tilt and poor thoracic mobility. Evidence-Based Coaching - Sam Leahey clearly put a ton of work into compiling this post; the trainers and coaches out there will really benefit from reading this, even if it is a bit lengthy. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a deadlift technique tutorial!
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CP Internship Blog by Sam Leahey – It’s the Person that Matters, not the Program

Today's guest blog comes from current Cressey Performance intern, Sam Leahey. Many of the valuable lessons an up and coming Strength & Conditioning Coach learns do not fall under the guides of content knowledge (coaching, program design, etc.). On the contrary, many educational moments manifest in a social sense (interpersonal skills). During my Cressey Performance internship, this semester I've come to appreciate even more so how a coach's success in the private sector of the profession (training facilities) is largely contingent upon the one's ability to interact with people in a respectful yet confident and authoritative manner. More specifically, "no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."  To this I would add, "no one cares how much you know and what results your program can give them, until they know how much you care about satisfying their personal needs." In other words, through trial and error I've learned that a client or athlete really has more interest in-whether they know or admit it-how you make them feel as a person as opposed to how well-written and effective your program is. While this may be true in the collegiate setting, I find this truism has a larger bearing on a coach's success in the private sector. This principle is discussed in the book Peak, by Chip Conley. He describes "The Customer Pyramid," which is a derivative of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. He articulates how, in business, if you do not satisfy the base level needs of your clientele, they will never have the "peak experience" that you wish for them to have.


When we apply this concept to our field, S&C and personal training, there are a few implications worth noting, starting with the first level and moving upward. First, clients coming through our doors expect to feel valued as people. They expect to be important to you and your business. When you treat people appropriately, it fosters satisfaction from the clients towards your business. This should only be the beginning of a customer's experience at your training facility because if it ended here then your business would never reach its highest potential.  This area is where we need to spend the most time investing in the customers' experience. Most importantly, we need to realize this step forms the foundation of our customers' experience, or, the base level of the pyramid. If you noticed in the depiction above the "Meets Expectations" category is the largest of the three. The bigger the base of our customer pyramid then the bigger the subsequent categories will be. We need to then aim to meet our customers' desires as well. It's pretty intuitive that a personal training client or athlete who is paying for your services actually desires results. But what's not so obvious I think is that because of the lack of true results in our profession, mainly from the stain of commercial gyms, our potential clients have put actual program "results" in the desires category instead of keeping it in the expectations category. Believe it or not, an athlete may have signed up to train with you who previously trained elsewhere and left the experience with absolutely no, or barely any, improvements in strength, power, speed, body composition, etc., (aka results). Therefore, clients of today - be it a soccer mom just looking for fat loss or an athlete trying to make the varsity team at school - may have lowered their standards for what they consider "results." If you can (and you should be able to)  give results to your clients, then they will be committed to you and your business because they know their money is well spent  and they're actually getting the results they desired when they signed up for training.


Now comes the final level: the "peak experience" we all would like our clients and athletes to have. If you're a business owner, you'd like to be able to guarantee each and every person who walks through your doors reaches this level. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that we really can't guarantee it. All we can do is keep buffering the base and middle level of the customer pyramid and the "needs" will take care of themselves. So, what exactly is the "peak experience" and what unrecognized needs does it meet? Honestly, we can't define it. All we can do is describe it. It's almost a surreal experience, one they didn't realize they would have before they came to your facility.  It's one that leaves each client evangelizing others and bringing in more customers better than any marketing plan ever could. It's to the point that a person can't even begin to think about training elsewhere because they "just HAVE to train at (your place)." It's that unique feeling someone gets when they walk through the door of your facility because they know what's about to transpire, and it's the feeling they leave with afterward. Some young athletes can have such a euphoric experience that they can't even fathom using equipment brands other than what you house at your facility. While that's an extreme case, it's a reality in some places and all goes under the "peak experience" category the folks at CP have worked to cultivate. The peak experience is best described as the culmination of environment and atmosphere CP provides its customers. It includes the interaction of staff members, interns, other customers, facility equipments, sights, sounds, etc. All these variables added together can help us describe that peak experience.

Conclusion Here I want to make myself vulnerable to the readers. Being young and eager to learn I've found it can be easy sometimes to get caught up in the scientific and technical side of things and effectively skip past the base level needs of some of the clients with whom I was working. Mistakenly, I wanted clients to have all their unrecognized needs met right away and right now! There were also times where I jumped right to coaching someone without taking the time to build a relationship with them first. While this might in some collegiate settings be acceptable, it does not yield a good outcome in the private sector. In fact, I would go as far as to say that as a college student this is the biggest mistake I've made in my learning process. There have been specific instances where an athlete simply did not like me because the very first day we met I was trying to coach him/her instead of trying to establish rapport first AND THEN coach him/her. Remember - "no one cares how much you know and what results your program can give them, until they know how much you care about satisfying their personal needs." Essentially I was skipping past this client's base level of needs to trying to cultivate higher lever needs first. I'm open and honest about my experiences for a couple reasons: 1.  I've always appreciated when those who have gone before me were candid about their mistakes so that young up-and-comers like me could learn from them. 2.  I think too many people subconsciously believe that just because someone is an internet author, they do everything right. You'd be surprised! Whether it's a big name in the profession or one of their interns everyone has made both big and small mistakes in their career. Some were easily recovered from while others might have even been so extreme that the outcomes were career ending. At any rate, we should all strive to learn from our own mistakes and that of others and be diligent to make a permanent change that will prevent us from screwing up again. Make sure we are investing most of our efforts satisfying base level needs of our clients before getting them up to higher levels. Sam Leahey CSCS, CPT can be reached at sam.leahey@gmail.com.

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CP Internship Blog: Can Circuit Training Develop Work Capacity? – Part 2

This guest blog comes from current Cressey Performance intern, Sam Leahey. Last time, we discussed circuit training and the validity of whether or not it develops "mental toughness" in our athletes.  We then questioned whether this "mental toughness" (however one defines that term) is actually translating into enhanced sports performance. This week's article focuses on the implications regarding circuit training and "work capacity". Simply type the term "work capacity" into YouTube and you'll end up with tons of videos implementing a wide variety of exercises in circuit training fashion, most which consist of modified strongman events, and every one of these claims the same thing: "it develops work capacity."  What does that even mean?

Now, enter "work capacity" into the search bar on a peer-reviewed research journal site (PubMed, etc.) and what are the findings? Nearly every study listed with the term "work capacity" in the title is in direct reference to something specific like "physical work capacity," "anaerobic work capacity," "aerobic work capacity," "wingate test work capacity," "upper body work capacity", "cardio-respiratory work capacity," or "functional work capacity." Compare and contrast these two discoveries and we are left with the simple conclusion that "work capacity" is specific and using it as a general term is scientifically unjustifiable.  In fact, it is pretty much theory altogether unless directly tied to something else. Yet, when looking across the landscape of private training facilities and collegiate Strength & Conditioning settings, we find that most coaches and trainers use the term "work capacity" in the aforementioned grossly-oversimplified way as opposed to a specific type of capacity that actually makes transferable sense. I often wonder why that is?


There are many common arguments in favor of the work capacity idea. Coaches and trainers are now more than ever espousing and raising "work capacity" awareness.  Let us look at some of the underlying principles and theories behind the "work capacity school of thought" and try to make sense of it and establish how coaches arrived at the solution of "in order to develop work capacity we need to do circuit training". This will lead into the conclusion of this article. Principle: Work capacity is developed when the human body tolerates and recovers from a workload. Once adapted to that stimulus they need to be able to work above that "work threshold" for continued success. I can't believe how much this gets parroted these days. When I think about this statement I am left wondering how this is any different from regular strength training or even a stinkin' bicep curl? It sounds to me like just another way to describe the Principle of Overload, not the "principle of work capacity"! Furthermore, I wonder how it's indicative of the conclusion so many people reach: "I have to do circuit training to develop work capacity?" Theory: If an athlete's general fitness or capacity is low, their specific fitness or capacity will not improve. So you're saying if I take a highly deconditioned athlete with no general fitness and make him play soccer for one week straight he won't be a better, more conditioned soccer player by day seven than he was on day one because his "general fitness/capacity" was low to begin with? Really?


One more time. . . Theory: If an athlete's general fitness or capacity is low their specific fitness or capacity will not improve. Though still a vague statement perhaps, now we're getting closer to something actually definable - "general fitness." Many coaches use the terms "general fitness" and "work capacity" synonymously. Perhaps this is where coaches arrive at the conclusion of "I should do circuit training to develop general fitness." More importantly, though, do I even want "general fitness" for my? Or, just specific fitness? It seems we need a definition or list of components of "general fitness" before we can answer that question. You might say that the progression should go from general to specific and my response there would be general WHAT and specific WHAT? What quality are we talking about - strength, power, flexibility, speed, or something else? I feel that to simply just say we should go from general to specific may be shortsighted; we need to clarify what quality we're covering. If you do an internet search or academic search to define "general fitness," you most often times end up at the same thing that is still taught in academic settings today - "General Fitness consists of the 5 Health Related Components of Fitness," which are:
  • Muscular Strength
  • Muscular Endurance
  • Cardiovascular Endurance
  • Flexibility
  • Body Composition
Once here, we can actually begin to clarify the argument.  Am I supposed to develop all these above qualities optimally to attain "general fitness"? Do I even need or want some of these above qualities to be maxed out in say, a sprinter? Nope. If we're talking about Muscular Strength then I totally accept the idea of general strength to specific strength.  However, if we're discussing cardiovascular endurance, then I think most of us would disagree with the general-to-specific thought process. Both Charlie Francis and Mike Boyle have obliterated this general-to-specific idea with regards to energy systems years ago. They speak against doing "general running" (aerobic jogging) and then moving into "specific running" (anaerobic sprinting). Francis has written about how kids need to do enough power related activity in their teen years to really reach optimal performance in sprinting when they get older. What is he saying by that? He's saying we should start specific and end even more specific.


Mike Boyle took Francis' thoughts and began doing tempo runs in early off-season with his athletes to develop a sprinting base, which is still inherently specific, and then progress them to higher intensity sprints. Basically, he started specific in as broad a way as he could and then got even more specific with the training. He did not attempt to develop an aerobic base first by running miles and then gradually move to sprinting; rather, he started the off-season with higher volumes of lower intensity "sprints" (tempo runs) and then moved to lower volumes of higher intensity "sprints" (shuttle runs). A different way Coach Boyle also approached this idea during his career of building proper sprinting work capacity (notice it's specific and not "general") is represented in this graphic:


Though a different order of intensity and volume, all I'm trying to get you to see is the point that it is not developing "general fitness," but instead specific fitness. So, hopefully now we can all see that the general to specific idea doesn't hold up too well until we clarify what quality we're referencing (strength, flexibility, energy systems, or something else). Theory: Work capacity enhances and coordinates the cardiovascular, metabolic, and nervous systems and it is composed of 2 components: 1) The ability to tolerate a high workload by recovering quickly from the stimulus so that another stimulus can be presented on a consistent basis. 2) Being able to resist fatigue no matter what the source. These two points taken alone, I struggle to see how people are lead to the conclusion that they need to be implementing circuit training to develop this so called "work capacity." However, taken all together with the initial mention of the physiological systems, we may have finally arrived at a specific qualitative point - the nervous, cardiovascular, and "metabolic" systems. Somehow coaches take this to mean that doing circuit training is the best option for coordinating and enhancing these systems. If I take time in my program to do circuit training, will it coordinate and enhance my nervous system optimally with all that fatigue going on during the circuit, especially compared to what I else could be doing instead to prepare my nervous system? I would say "no;" circuit training does not fit the bill optimally. If I take time out of my conditioning program to do circuit training, will it coordinate and enhance my cardiovascular system better than what I'm already doing? Again I would have to answer "no." Will circuit training enhance and coordinate my energy systems (metabolic system) better than my conditioning program? Nope. The point here is the traditional methods you're already using in your strength training, power training, and conditioning program are far superior in developing those physiological systems than doing circuit training. Here's another definition being thrown around the internet: "Work capacity refers to the general ability of the whole body as a machine to produce work of different intensity and duration using the appropriate energy systems of the body." This is probably the best attempt at defining "work capacity." Yet, the question still arises: do I need or want this "general ability" of my body to "produce work" of varying intensities and times? Instead, how about narrowing it down to what specific energy systems I'm going to need to compete in my sport or event and at what intensity or durations? Doesn't that make more sense that just saying to somebody, "Hey, I've got good work capacity because I can do a million sit-ups, a 1RM squat, a bunch of pull-ups, and then sprint 50 yards - all in under 5 minutes!" Does a competitive sprinter benefit from being able to run a marathon, do a ton of pushups, then do a ton of pull-ups, when he's competing in a 55 meter dash? Would a golfer optimally benefit from doing random "general fitness" activities at random intensities and durations as opposed to specific fitness activities?


So, I humbly ask: why are we doing circuit training to develop general work capacity? How did we ever arrive at the conclusion that a general work capacity was needed as opposed to a specific work capacity like linear sprinting or multiple changes of direction or vertical jumping or asymmetrical rotation (golfer/pitcher)? Instead, can I suggest we seek to develop specific work capacities instead of general ones? How about we develop the ability of a basketball player to reproduce jumping and hopping performance throughout the course of a game. Also, how about we build a golfer's capacity (through corrective exercise) to take all the swings he/she requires without getting hurt instead of running him/her through a modified strongman circuit to build "general fitness" or "work capacity?" Eric Cressey has good work capacity by powerlifting standards; he can take a lot of singles over 90% of 1RM in a single training session and bounce back reasonably quickly.

Does that mean, though, that Eric can just walk outside and play soccer and be good at it because his "work capacity" is up? I don't believe so, because work capacity is specific, not general. Instead, develop the specific capacity to play soccer! There's no need to develop tons of different, and in many cases competing qualities just for the sake of saying we have a general capacity to tolerate a bunch of random events. All in all, it may be best to simply stick with the traditional methods of training and develop the specific capacities needed for a specific event or sport as opposed to taking hours during the training week for circuit training. Just think of what higher-yield activities you could be doing instead while you taking hours of time out each week to do circuit training... Sam Leahey CSCS, CPT can be reached at sam.leahey@gmail.com.
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CP Internship Blog: Can Circuit Training Develop Mental Toughness? – Part 1

This guest blog comes from current Cressey Performance intern, Sam Leahey. Preface A qualification needs to be made first. This debate often times confuses people because they don't take the time to qualify what exactly they're discussing. The overriding issue here is on the use of exercise or conditioning circuits in training to develop "mental toughness" and/or "work capacity." Both capacities are actually pretty different scientifically and practically, but too often get thrown into the same conversation. When we talk about using exercise or conditioning "circuits" in the weight room, most coaches rationale for using them is rooted in one of three things: 1)    To build "mental toughness" in the athletes 2)    To build "work capacity" in the athletes 3)    To build both. I want to be clear here that this article will focus solely on thoughts regarding the first rationale and not the others. This if for clarity's sake, brevity, and quality of analysis. In future blogs, I hope to delve into the other two reasons why coaches/trainers program conditioning circuits and whether or not it has value and/or a desired training effect.

Before you continue reading, I'd pose the title of this article to you again and ask that you take a moment to think about your answer - can YOU develop mental toughness of YOUR athletes using circuit training in your programs? What is "Mental Toughness"? The first thing we need to establish is what "mental toughness" really is.  Defining the term alone could be another endless debate, so let's keep things neutral and use good ol' dictionary.com as our trusted resource: Type in the term "mental toughness" and the search comes up empty. Hmm, this has implications. It seems that the term "mental toughness" as a whole is abstract and inherently debatable because there is no established definition in the dictionary. Disagree with me? If so, then I'd point you to the example of the term "Mc Job", which is a term referring to a service industry job that is unstimulating, pays low wages, and offers few benefits. At one point "Mc Job" was an abstract concept just like the term "mental toughness" currently is. It wasn't until enough people settled on its terms that it went from being abstract to a concrete reality which is definable and published in the dictionary itself, see: Mc Job - 2 dictionary results Mc - Job [muh k-job] -noun an unstimulating, low-wage job with few benefits, esp. in a service industry. So, in the same sense, I think the term "mental toughness" will take much longer (if ever) to reach a state of clear and accepted definition. Continuing on, though, what we can establish here is that the words "mental" and "toughness" are separately definable: Men·tal m?n tl/ Show Spelled[men-tl] -adjective 1. of or pertaining to the mind: mental powers; mental suffering. 2. of, pertaining to, or affected by a disorder of the mind: a mental patient; mental illness. 3. providing care for persons with disordered minds, emotions, etc.: a mental hospital. 4. performed by or existing in the mind: mental arithmetic; a mental note. 5. pertaining to intellectuals or intellectual activity. 6. Informal. slightly daft; out of one's mind; crazy: He's mental. -noun 7. Informal. a person with a psychological disorder: a fascist group made up largely of mentals. Tough Spelled [tuhf],adjective,-er, -est, adverb, noun, verb -adjective 1. strong and durable; not easily broken or cut. 2. not brittle or tender. 3. difficult to masticate, as food: a tough steak. 4. of viscous consistency, as liquid or semiliquid matter: tough molasses. 5. capable of great endurance; sturdy; hardy: tough troops. 6. not easily influenced, as a person; unyielding; stubborn: a tough man to work for. 7. hardened; incorrigible: a tough criminal. 8. difficult to perform, accomplish, or deal with; hard, trying, or troublesome: a tough problem. 9. hard to bear or endure (often used ironically): tough luck. 10. vigorous; severe; violent: a tough struggle. 11. vicious; rough; rowdyish: a tough character; a tough neighborhood. 12. practical, realistic, and lacking in sentimentality; tough-minded. 13. Slang. remarkably excellent; first-rate; great. -adverb 14. in a tough manner. -noun 15. a ruffian; rowdy. Combining the first two definitions we could say that "mental toughness" via dictionary.com is a strong, durable, non-tender mind capacity or functioning. So now we have a theoretical foundation from which we can work - and we again arrive at the initial debate: can this "mental toughness" be developed by strength and conditioning coaches using forms of circuit training with their athletes? Acute vs. Chronic Here are some classic examples that coaches and trainers (both good and bad) who subscribe to the theory "you can develop mental toughness through circuit training" use in practice. . . (Each exercise done for 1 minute each, circuit done 2-3 times)(*AMRAP - as many reps as possible) "Death Circuit Saturdays" -          Overhead MedBall Slam (AMRAP) -          Tire Flips (20 yards) -          Overhead Sledgehammer Tire Hits (AMRAP) -          Pushups (AMRAP) -          Farmer's Walk (25yards down and back) -          Rotational MedBall Throws (AMRAP) -          Vertical Jump (AMRAP) "Meat-Head Monday" -          Barbell Bench Press (225lbs x AMRAP) -          Barbell Back Squat (315lbs x AMRAP) -          Pull-Up (BW x AMRAP) -          Conventional Deadlift (315 x AMRAP) -          Chest Supported T-Bar Row (70lbs x AMRAP)

"Functional Friday" -          Single-Leg Box Squats (AMRAP) -          1 Arm TRX Inverted Row (AMRAP) -          Front Plank -          Standing 1 Arm Cable Press (AMRAP) -          Side Plank -          Walking Lunges with Overhead DB Press (AMRAP) -          1 Arm Chin-Up (AMRAP) "Strong-Man Monday" -          Farmers Walk (30yards down and back) -          Seated Rope Pull (20yard rope connected to weighted sled - pull to you once) -          Prowler Sled Pushes (30yards down and back) -          Giant Log Lift (AMRAP in 2 minutes) With this list of random circuits in mind, now let's talk about how and when strength and conditioning coaches implement these circuits into their program(s). If you've been around collegiate strength and conditioning for any amount of time, you'll know these circuits usually get placed at the end or beginning of a training week and sometimes at the end of a training cycle. In the private sector of the strength and conditioning profession (training facilities), there isn't that much separation from that either. You'll find these circuits being sprinkled in to the clients (athletes) programs. The biggest point to consider here is that whenever circuit training is used it's almost never done continually, 100% of the time; it's always used sparingly while the bulk of the training is more traditional. Conclusion - The Carryover Imagine if you yourself or an athlete you know did one of the above circuits. How would you feel? It'd be pretty tough wouldn't it? If I told you that you were going to do it again next week, you would be mentally prepared for it, wouldn't you? After doing it every Friday for two months, would you have mentally adapted to the stimulus and find it less of a mental struggle each time? Of course! However, what happens every other day of the week when you don't have that stimulus present? Are you still as "mentally tough" throughout the week as you are on Friday when you are near puking your brains out and have a coach scream at you and blowing whistles? Even more relevant is the perspective of adding up those single exposure circuit days and compare them to all the days in the off-season and in-season you're not doing a circuit. Which of the two sums has the most potential for developing ANYTHING for that matter? In other words, being "mentally tough" is a LIFESTYLE - NOT A SINGLE EXPOSURE TO SOME DEATH CIRCUIT ONCE A WEEK OR ONCE A MONTH! Are we forgetting the fact that many collegiate teams implement these circuits to only end up with losing seasons? Meanwhile, on the other hand, you have teams doing the same death circuits and getting to the championship. Did one team not do enough "death circuits" and needed more exposures so they can reach post season play? Or, did the team who reached the championship lead a mentally tough lifestyle off the field/court/ice and not just get "psyched up" for a death circuit once a week or month? True athletic team success is the result of all the little things added up throughout the week that culminate on game day, not just a mental victory once and while over some weight room circuit. It's performing every exercise in the weight room with perfect technique that fosters CHRONIC mental toughness in athletes. It's not accepting lousy technique for the sake of putting more weight on the bar that makes the athlete mentally tough. It's showing up to train on time, every time, over the course of the entire macrocycle that gives us sustainable and reproducible mental toughness that carries over into team chemistry and cohesiveness. It's going through the full warm-up without skipping steps just so you can get on to lifting heavy weights quicker. It's only doing the prescribed number of reps and sets that's your given and not letting an athlete do his/her own thing. It's not missing workouts or having athlete find excuses not to come in and train because it's a "light day" or "regeneration day". It's a culture, not a single event! Living a mentally tough lifestyle is what produces long term athletic success. If you want your athletes to reach their full mental potential and, in turn, athletic potential, then find ways to change their LIFESTYLE instead of getting them "psyched up" for your weightroom circuit you worked so hard to design. Furthermore, the mental toughness lifestyle you cultivate in your weight room can carry over into the rest of their lives as well whereas some weekly circuit cannot.


If you develop a culture of mentally tough athletes in your weight room via the little things, their ability to reproduce that (which is the whole point, anyway) can certainly be carried over into the way they approach the sport skills practice and whatnot. If they're showing up to the weight room on time, every time, how much more likely will they be to show up for practice on time, every time? If they're habitually not cutting corners in the weight room and choosing to not take the easy way out, will they make the same decisions on the field/court/ice where they know it has more direct carry over to game day? You can see that the evolution of leading a mentally tough lifestyle eventually can translate into habitual changes in personal character and discipline. I struggle to see how a weekly circuit or once a month event can have even a remotely similar effect. It is the responsibility of the coach to instill this aforementioned mentally tough lifestyle through cultivated weight room culture. So the argument is essentially a fundamental disagreement, but I think the answer is quite clear. Even though the term "mental toughness" lacks a true definition, can we as coaches instill what most would agree on as "mental toughness" in our athletes via the weight room? The answer is "yes," but it's not through doing "death circuits." Doing things habitually RIGHT breeds a lifestyle that makes you mentally tough. This chronic mental toughness cannot be accomplished with a sparingly used weight room circuit of exercises. The Exception I wrote this article/blog knowing full well that someone out there would come up with the question: "What if I have my athletes do circuit training EVERY time we train then, for an entire off-season. This way we're getting the "mental toughness" stimulus constantly. Would that work?" In response, I would say there is only one man I know of on the entire planet who was inherently ingenious enough to implement circuit training EVERY SINGLE WORKOUT and still not have his athletes overtraining. This way, they were constantly pushing the mental envelope and eventually they went from being a good team to the winning the national championship of college hockey. The strength coach's name is Michael Boyle. Unless you have the ingenious capability of.... -          engineering circuit training day in and day out for an ENTIRE off-season, -          having no one get injured doing so, -           have most everyone on the team get stronger, -          and most importantly find a way to have these mentally tough workouts carry over into the players habitual lifestyles, ....then I suggest you don't even both trying. If you've read the book Outliers you'll understand there's only one Mike Boyle for a reason and you're NOT him.


For the rest of us, I think it's best to stick to the above rationale if we want develop true mental toughness in our athletes that will last a lifetime of athletic competition. Sam Leahey, CSCS can be contacted at sam.leahey@gmail.com.
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CP Internship Blog by Sam Leahey – Taking Your Turn Serving Others

Disclaimer: This blog/article is not about being humble or putting your time in getting coaching experience, though those are good and necessary things. It's specifically about something else that I feel is one of many variables in the equation of success. And that very specific thing is Serving/Benefiting Others. It goes without saying that we don't just wake up strength and conditioning experts one morning. A necessary process must play itself out first. We've all read the book Outliers, where bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell articulates the 10,000 hour rule to becoming an expert in anything.


However I'd like to discuss the particulars of those 10,000 hours. Eric Cressey would be the first to tell you that those hours have to come from several different avenues - not just "live" coaching. Personally, I think you need 10,000 hours of: 1. Training/Coaching Others 2. Training/Coaching Yourself 3. Educating Others 4. Educating Yourself Notice what I did NOT mention. There is no mention in the list above of any kind of selfless acts of service. There also isn't any mention of doing things entirely to benefit someone else beside oneself. Yet, any strength and conditioning expert we all look up to can point to times in their lives when they either worked for someone else or occupied a role that required them to serve someone, something, or someplace higher up the priority list. This is because doing acts of service to benefit someone else is a VERY necessary process. This can come in the form of a collegiate coaching staff where the hierarchy goes from intern to graduate assistant to assistant to the head coach. Even still, the head strength and conditioning coach is accountable to the athletic director who is further accountable to the institution. The same thing goes for a private training facility. The flow of benefitting others goes from intern to staff to owner. In some capacity, everyone in our field will perform a task at some point to serve or benefit others. It's inevitable! The important question is do you do it willingly with joy or grudgingly with hate? In reality we may be somewhere in between, but I'd urge you to daily commit to falling on the positive side of fence. If you're an intern, do you smile and gladly move to action when asked to mop the floor? Do you willingly clean up the weightroom after hours? Do you take the initiative and change the facility trash or do you wait until it's overflowing so you can be told to do it? Do you vacuum or fill the water bottle fridge up without any grief? I'm sure many of the young people reading this have similar experiences as me. As an intern, I personally have mopped and vacuumed the entire Cressey Performance facility.


Last summer I did the same at Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning and before that College of the Holy Cross. . . and on and on and on.  You get my point, though.



If you are already an assistant coach in a collegiate setting do you try and usurp authority of the head coach by pushing your own training philosophies? Do you get upset when you are the one who gets asked to come in and supervise the 6AM football lift, which is supposed to be the head coach's team? Do you just do your job and go home without having a personal commitment to the institution for which you work? If you are on staff at a private training facility do you cringe when you're asked to take on some additional forms of responsibility, like intern education or facility scheduling? Do you try and avoid interactions with the facility owner for fear of him/her asking you to do something else? Do you just do your job and go home without having any kind of personal investment in the business for which your work? The wise person will accept this message. You don't always have to be the beneficiary of your actions. It's necessary and unavoidable to help others. It is part of the process to pursuing strength and conditioning greatness! Learn to enjoy the process! Sam Leahey can be reached at sam.leahey@gmail.com.
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Cressey Performance Internship Blog by Sam Leahey – Simplicity

Simplistic Programming Let's face it. There are so many aspects to Strength & Conditioning that it's easy to be left wondering, "How am I going to fit everything in?"  For a young coach, program design can be somewhat of a frustrating process. But, over time, as experience rolls in and confidence flourishes, the program design conundrum dies down. You find that there's more than one way to skin a cat and the concept of simplicity always seems to come to the forefront. Take a look at the following list of potential program components: Strength Training Power Training Movements Skills Flexibility Speed Development Mobility Anaerobic/Aerobic Conditioning Warm Up Stability Soft Tissue Work Etc. . . Etc. . . Admittedly, I am one of those overwhelmed ones at times, asking myself how I'm going to "fit it all in."


However, as I noted, the K.I.S.S. principle seems to always be the end result of my analysis - KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID! Yet, this simple approach doesn't seem to mesh well with having multiple training goals for one training cycle. This brings me to my main point. You don't HAVE to have a zillion training goals for every day/week/etc. of a training period. It's OK to focus primarily on one or two things only and hammer them home. Maybe for Athlete A, he doesn't need all this "fancy stuff" and instead just needs to not be as weak as his little sister. Or Athlete B for that matter, who's "strong enough" and would greatly enhance his/her athleticism by focusing on his/her rate of force development. Here at Cressey Performance, things like plyometric work are condensed into one or two training sessions. Speed development and movement skills are also allocated to particular training days. As the days go by, I'm seeing more and more value of consolidating program components into particular time periods instead of trying to cover all my athletic bases in the same session, month, etc.  Another point being that it's OK to let other things slide a bit while you hone in on a higher yield area. Some people may need more corrective exercise at a particular time and less strength work at the moment. Conversely, even though it would behoove us to simplify our programming approach we must at the same time remember what Albert Einstein said - "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." This is where the Art of coaching comes in, as we find a simultaneous balance between simplifying our programs and having them still be very effective in yielding great results. Simplistic Coaching During my last internship, with Coach Michael Boyle, I had a coaching epiphany that helped me to realize how my explanation of exercises to large groups needed to be simple if it was going to be effective. I needed to make all my coaching cues much simpler as well. If you haven't read that brief post before you can find it here.

At CP, I find myself in a one-on-one situation a lot more and guess what I found? The concept of simplistic explanations and coaching cues is STILL true! Who would'a thunk it?!?! I realized that just because I can spend more time with an individual doesn't mean I need to talk his/her ear off with long lists of directions. The one client standing there in front of you still responds to the same simple explanations and demonstrations that a group of people do. The biggest difference I can find in this regard is that I might increase my initial number of coaching points to three things when explaining an exercise.


I can remember my football coach saying to me that the average human mind can only remember seven things at once. They're already counting how many reps they're doing as #1, and if I give 3 pointers to remember, that's a total of four synapses. But, let's be honest, we've all worked with clients who seem to "not be present in the moment;" it's like their minds are somewhere else when you're talking to them. So, for this reason, I'll leave the other three synapses open for "whatever." However, I'm very open to hearing what your suggestions are for filling in the rest of the synapses; feel free to post a comment below. Having said all this, I've found there are two types of clients (as time goes on, maybe I'll discover more): the visual learner and the verbal learner. After you've taken a new client through a warm-up, foam rolling, stretching, etc. you get a feel of their kinesthetic maturity. You can already tell how well they respond to being shown an exercise or being told how to do an exercise. This way, by the time you get over to the resistance training component, you have an idea of where to start - whether it's more demonstration and less verbage or vice versa. Has the following scenario every happened to you? A kid or adult you're coaching is standing there watching and listening to everything you say and do. You give full disclosure in your explanations and demonstrations. It's now his turn to attempt the movement and he does EVERYTHING wrong! It's like he wasn't even listening to what you just said and for some reason your demonstrations went right through his eyes and out the apparent hole in the back of his head!

(I apologize, but you'll have to turn your volume up because the audio quality is not that good)

So, I hope you the reader can appreciate my thoughts on the issue. For some, like my mentors Eric Cressey and Mike Boyle, this concept came into fruition many years ago. I'm glad I was able to realize the same thing while under their tutelage and not out on my own. An intern's time here Cressey Performance is very fulfilling and the whole staff has so much to offer that there's never a dull moment in the day.

Sam Leahey can be reached at sam.leahey@gmail.com.
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CP Internship Blog by Sam Leahey – Appreciating Differences

Preface 1 If you're like me, you foster a great appreciation for the work Eric Cressey does both in cyberspace and in person through mediums like seminars, conferences, etc. However often times Eric's readers do not benefit from what goes on behind the scenes at Cressey Performance. In fact, I would venture to say that at most top notch Strength & Conditioning facilities around the country this privilege often falls upon interns, as they are learning day in and day out from the entire staff. So, my fellow Cressey disciples, never fear because there is a solution! Eric has asked me to write regular blog posts regarding my internship here at Cressey Performance. This will include many training epiphanies and revelations, "ah-ha" moments, coaching insights, and just flat-out Eric Cressey madness! Being able to get inside the mind of Eric Cressey and his staff is a tremendous honor and I would love to share all that comes out it. Hope you enjoy!


Appreciating Differences We had a splendid seminar recently at Cressey Performance with Neil Rampe as the speaker. Beyond the actual shop talk I noticed a similar thread in his speech. He often would finish up a slide summary with the question "Can you appreciate that?" He'd present his knowledge and then ask the audience, "Can you appreciate that?" Notice what he did not say. Neil didn't present his rationale, science, and/or theory and ask attendees "Do you see how I'm right and so and so is wrong?" In fact, I don't recall him ever even using the words "right" or "wrong."  It was always "Can you appreciate this or that?"  In one such example he taught to appreciate asymmetries in the body. More specific to this discussion though, Neil discussed the appreciation of different schools of thought from Janda, Sahrmann, Kolar, Myers, PRI, and others.


This concept of appreciating different perspectives, instead of trying to prove right or wrong, I find more and more useful the longer I coach. More practically, I find this coming into fruition over simple things in the Strength & Conditioning field. Take a simple exercise like the One-Arm Cable Row for example. Should you retract both shoulder blades when your row or just the side that is doing the rowing? Is one way right and the other is wrong? Really? A more noble argument I've found is which one is more optimal for what you're trying to accomplish. In reality neither one is wrong; they're just different! What about if you place certain components of your program in different spots than others. Is it "wrong" to put static stretching at the beginning or end of a workout? Is either way "right?" I don't think so. They both can be applied appropriately at either end of the session. What about a quadruped t-spine mobility drill. Should the arms and femurs be completely perpendicular to the ground or should you be sitting back slightly on your calves?

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Again, is either version wrong? Nope, just another example of different ways to skin a cat. Oftentimes, it's young up-and-coming coaches like myself that fall victim to training arguments. Alwyn Cosgrove talked about this once when he said something to the effect of: "If you put all the greatest coaches in a room they will agree on most things and disagree on few things. If you put all their students in one room they'll be arguing all day long over the differences." I hope I quoted Alwyn correctly, but either way, you get the point. In most cases, one perspective or difference may be more optimal than the other in terms of the goals it's trying to accomplish. Only in a few cases is either side wrong or right. So, the next time you're listening to someone give advice - be it for programming or just in general terms - appreciate where they're coming from. Understand WHY he is suggesting something. Is the person a powerlifter? Is he a physical therapist? Is the person a Strength & Condtioning coach, athletic trainer, doctor, chiropractor, or a professor? Does he work in group training settings, semi-private, or a one-on-one situation? Understanding all these different perspectives can allow you to APPRECIATE what the other person is saying without getting all indignant because you think he's "wrong." Thanks, Eric, for helping me realize this valuable lesson! You can contact Sam Leahey at sam.leahey@gmail.com.
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