Monthly Archives: March 2014

What to Look for in a Strength Coach

athlete16_200x300If you are just getting into the spirit of using a strength coach or personal trainer and want to know what to look for, hopefully I can offer some advice. I have been in this field for over 14 years and have seen a lot. I’ve traded new information with colleagues, and used mentors and libraries of information to learn what I now know. But the learning never stops! I am always seeking what is best for my clients.

Many people have asked me what to look for when hiring a strength coach or a personal trainer; I think the answers are the same in either situation.

I used to think education was the most important credential and trust me I believe this lays down the foundation of the science of personal training which is very important but not the only thing to look for.  I have seen many good coaches who don’t have a post-secondary degree have success but I have seen many more trainers who have a degree and then take a 2 day course and now think they are EXPERT personal trainers after one weekend!

Here are some of the attributes I think a client should look for:

Passion

I have just returned from a speaking engagement and workshop in cloudy southern California (June Gloom!) where a couple of things really stood out.   On the first day I had the pleasure of teaching 50 personal trainers about Functional Applied Speed Training for Power Systems.

I was overwhelmed and surprised by the passion and love for training and knowledge these coaches exhibited.  Some had come from as far as Canada and New York all the way to California for a full day of learning.  Right away (8 am) the audience was engaging and very receptive to learning.   Never once did I have to beg for a volunteer, in fact I had to beat them away with a stick when we went into the practical sessions.  This is what I call passion!

The next day I was fortunate to pair up with a good friend and great strength coach, Scott Prohaska.  He had arranged for the training of 15 athletes, ranging from Olympic bobsledders to division one football players to rep baseball players.  Coming into this I knew all these high -level athletes would have passion, but the passion from Scott was amazing.  Not only was he encouraging, but he tried every drill I put each athlete through.  At the end of the session he told me that he has brought in many people in to speak with his athletes and was pleased to report that his athletes told him that they enjoyed the day mainly due to my passion and the fact that I was right there in the trenches with them. This is what I love to do!

Later that day Scott and I went for dinner and discussed how many hours we work per week?
70-80 hours was the answer.  I have asked many professionals, in other fields, the same question and they often admitted to working similar long hours. When I ask why they work so many hours each week,  the common answer was not just that they have so much work to do, but rather, that they love what they do. You can actually see the true passion in their manner.  People who are successful put the time into their field of work, but the ones who are truly dedicated, do it for the love of it! Their passion shows, in fact it oozes out of them – because you can not fake passion!  As one of my clients, JoAnn, says “Love it!!”

Leave your Ego at the Door!

This is probably one of the most important ideals, and one of the most difficult for many coaches to acquire.  I see big egos every time I travel and watch other coaches teach.

Let’s use my friend Scott for example. His strength is his ability to help his clients get strong . . . he does a GREAT job at this, but he understands his limitations, in this case, speed training. What did he do but seek out someone to help him and his athletes.   He left his ego at the door!

I did the same thing for some of my female clients when I discussed nutrition and training with top physique coach, Francine from Montreal. Her insight was tremendously productive in helping my female clients achieve success.   I often bring in nutrition experts such and Caryn from Biotics Nutrition to teach the SST staff, enabling us to better help our clients.  Again I remind you, your trainer should be able to leave ego at the door!

Remember the bottom line is that strength coaches and personal trainers are here to help you.  Whatever it takes, coaches should try to ensure the best for their clients.

We, as coaches and trainers, all like to boast about our clients’ successes and sometimes market them (before and after stories),  but remember this (and I tell all my parents and athletes this):  You are the one who committed yourself to the project and you must be the first one to put forth a great effort .  Our trainers are ready to work hard for you, and you must be ready to work too.   I just wrote up a program to encourage you to reach your goals . . . you and your trainer’s best efforts!

Continuing Search for Educational Resources

Consider the strength coaches who attended this past seminar. They took time from their busy schedule to spend a whole day to better their techniques.   They are determined in their search of new educational information.  Next time you are looking for a trainer/coach ask how many seminars and what other types of education they take part in. At SST, the minimum goal is to attend one new seminar each month to better ourselves. Even if I only discover one new thing, both my client and I will be better for it.

These last few weeks, I have been reading books, articles, DVDs and anything I can get my hands on regarding cancer and nutrition.  Why?  One of my clients has been diagnosed with cancer and I feel an obligation to do the best I can to help him get better.  This is the kind of dedication I look for when hiring strength coaches.

Another good friend, one of the most learned nutritionists in the world, John Berardi spends countless hours researching and discovering new information about the human body.  He has PASSION which leads him to the never-ending search of new and important information; the ongoing search for education!  Why do you think he is the best?   Passion and education!

So next time you are looking for a trainer/coach, don’t be afraid to ask them questions as if you’re conducting a job interview; which you, in fact, are.

Results

Yes, results are the bottom line. Why do you think the TV show, Biggest Loser is such a hit? People are getting results and that’s what everybody wants!  Most people want instant success. If a coach tells you that you can drop 20 pounds in two weeks, be very leery. Success takes a lot of work, as in anything worth while, and there are no short cuts. So don’t expect shortcuts in weight loss or training either.

Ask your coach or trainer what successes they have had, and be specific. If you are a female client ask about successes with female clients.  If you’re an athlete, ask about who the trainer has helped?

Do you see a theme here?  The best coaches all have passion; all exhibit a keen interest to learn more in an endless study of research; a good coach stashes his/her ego. All these combined will give the client excellent results.   Notice I did not mention certification?  The reason for this is that some trainer certifications are done on line or through a weekend course (some are actually pretty good) Now, this is better than nothing I guess, but imagine dealing with a doctor who received his accreditations at a weekend seminar.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to get certification but the trainer/coach must still continue their education throughout their lifetime.

So, when looking for a good coach/ trainer please ask these questions and remember you will only get the results you want from the effort you and your trainer put into it.  Some Coaches may only be working with you for two hours a week.  So get off the couch, get ready for summer, and find yourself a great coach!

———

Larry Jusdanis

Larry Jusdanis

Larry is an accomplished Strength and Conditioning Coach with more than 20 years of strength coaching and is a disciplined leader who demonstrates exceptional creativity in developing athletes and executing programs that consistently exceed expectations.

To get more information about SST please visit www.sstcanada.com

To check out how these programs can be done in complete safety, visit us at www.xperformm.com

 

 

Developing an Off-Season Plan for Football

When doing a needs analysis for a football team, it is easy to see how different each position really is.  In the past, football teams would have an off season program where every athlete was following the same routine.  I believe that football has the most varied needs of any team sport, so when designing the program, I have to take many things into consideration.

FootballPhysical Evaluation – Looking for strength imbalances, flexibility issues, what their current strength levels are in the major lifts, lower body power (vertical jump – dynamic & static), movement skills (agility drills), and 40 yard breakdown (10, 20 & 40yd results)

Positional Needs – Each position has varied strength, power and movement needs.  Would I have a receiver backpedal and cut?

Injuries – The early off-season is a time for recovering from injuries and also beginning a pre-hab protocol.  That includes all of the small stabilizing muscles in the shoulder, hip and ankles.

Age/Training Experience – Young players 13-15yrs compared to those 16-18 are going to be different.  Younger athletes will spend more time on single leg exercises such as split squats, step ups, single leg squats etc.  Also more time will be given to teach movement skills such as running drills etc.  After a few years in the program advanced methods such as resisted/overspeed training and complex training with prowler push and sprints  can be implemented.

Here are some needs for each position:

Quarterback
  • Shoulder Strength/Mobility – Flexibility, Rotator Cuff, Rhomboids
  • Back Rotators
  • Lats – Chin Up Variations, Pullovers
  • Leg Strength – lots of single leg work – Squats, Split Squats, Lunges
Running Back
  • Lean mass to absorb collisions
  • Lower Body Explosive Power – Cleans, Prowler Sprints
  • Cutting and Acceleration
Receivers
  • Speed Strength – Snatch Variations
  • Complexes – Squats + Box Jumps
  • Slot Backs need more strength for blocking DL/LB
  • Cutting and Accelerating
  • Deceleration
Offensive Line
  • Body Mass
  • Explosive Power – Hang Cleans
  • Starting Strength – Deadlifts, Rack Squats
  • Hand/Forearm Strength – Thick Bar Holds
  • Starting Speed – 0-10yds focus
  • Agility – Lateral Reaction Drills
Defensive Line
  • Explosive Power – Clean Variations
  • Upper Body Strength – Incline Bench w/ chains
  • Pulling Strength – Chin Ups/Rows
  • Reaction Starts
  • Angle runs – turning the corner
Linebackers
  • Lean Mass to absorb collisions
  • Explosive Power – Clean Variations
  • Upper Body Strength to take on blocks – Bench press/Chin Ups
  • Lateral  Movement
  • Backpedal/Crossover to sprint
Defensive Backs
  • Speed Strength – Snatch Variations
  • Complexes – Squats + Hurdle Jumps
  • Hip Rotation Drills
  • Reaction Drills
  • Backpedal/Crossover to sprint
Kickers
  • Lower body power
  • Hip/Hamstring Flexibility
  • more time on technical work

 

SST’s off–season program is based on a player that plays rep and high school football.  If their season is finished in November and they start up the rep season in May, this will be a progression used to recover from the previous year and then prepare for the next.

November

Active recovery

  • Two seasons back to back take a toll on your body.  It is important to take some time to recover after and take care of the bumps and bruises.  Usually 2-3 weeks is a good time frame. Some players may have played well over 20 games with Rep and High School

 

December

  • Each player should Start with a Fitness Assessment to determine your strengths & weaknesses.
  • Have your  body fat and lean mass calculated and set a goal for the upcoming season.
  • Have someone design nutrition program planned to help meet your goals. 80% of your goals will be achieved with proper Nutrition
  • 3-4 workouts per week
  • Workouts – focus on smaller muscles such as the VMO, Rhomboids, Hip Rotators, Rotator Cuffs. SST calls this phase the prehab month
  • Higher reps – to strengthen your tendons and ligaments and prepare you for the heavier lifting later.
  • Weights 50-70% 1RM – this is the time to build the foundation

January

  •  Start in increasing the weights and lowering the reps
  • Begin adding lower intensity plyometrics (except Linemen)
  • Reps are now in the 4-8 range
  • Weights 70-85% of 1RM
  • Focus on core lifts – accessory ones are individualized based on weaknesses

February

  • Implement Speed & Agility work – 2 sessions per week
  • Medium Intensity Plyometrics- make sure you document the amount of total jumps per week to avoid overtraining
  • Advanced lifters can be working in the 3-5 rep range for their main lifts
  • Intermediate 5-10
  • Beginners 6-12
  • One day – functional training – using tires, sleds, farmer’s walks, sandbags, sledgehammers

March

  • Speed Training
  • Add in 1-2 days of positional drills (or some teams will start indoor practices)
  • More explosive training – Higher intensity plyos and Olympic Lifts (advanced)
  • Med Intensity plyos & med ball training (beginner/intermediate)
  • One day include heavier Core lifts (example squats)

April

  • Focus on positional energy system training 2 x per week – conditioning for the season
  • Positional Drills 2 x per week
  • Weight room – now there are only 3 lift days
  • Lower Body – Explosive & Strength focus
  • Upper Body – Explosive & Strength focus
  • Full Body – Functional Day
  • This phase should maintain your lean mass, continue to improve strength & power while getting your legs conditioned for the season.

 

Steve Bodanis

Steve Bodanis

Steve Bodanis is the Owner of SST Hamilton and has trained NFL, NCAA, CFL and CIS players. In addition Steve has produced the 2nd fastest time recorded at the NFL Combine in 2013!

To get more information about SST please visit www.sstcanada.com

To check out how these programs can be done in complete safety, visit us at www.xperformm.com

 

So … you wanna get big ???

I have worked with hundreds of athletes, weekend warriors, and average Joes.  Some needed to drop a few pounds while others would be considered “hardgainers” – those guys that say “no matter what I do I can’t gain weight.”  Thankfully, I had the remedy and was able to change their ways.

  1. athlete01Sleep – If you want to pack on muscle, your hormones need to be optimal.  When you sleep, your body releases growth hormone.  If you are only getting 4-5 hours a night, or waking up every hour, that needs to change.  You will need to block at least 8 hours per night, preferably at the same time every night.  If you find that you are waking up fairly often, then supplements such as zinc, magnesium, cordyceps, ashwaghanda, and 5-HTP may help you out.
  2. Eat 6-8 times per day – If you want to get big you cannot skip meals.  If you skip a meal you’ll never get it back!  Hardgainers generally have higher metabolisms and need to eat more calories.
  3. Get enough protein – You will need to get 1.5 – 2 times your bodyweight in grams of protein daily.  If you weigh 160lbs that would be 240g-320g daily.  Break that up into 6-8 meals and you should be in the range of 30-40g per meal.  On workout days I like to be taking in a little more than on my off days.
  4. Train at the same time – Studies show that if you are on a routine of getting to sleep, waking up, and training at the same time every day, then your results will be improved.  Schedule your workouts like they are appointments that you will not miss.
  5. During the workout – We recommend taking BCAAs during your workout.  We use Poliquin brand BCAAs because they have the optimal ratio of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine.  You need to take 15-20g during the workout, or don’t bother.  This will help keep you in an anabolic state and give you the building blocks to repair your muscles after a grueling workout
  6. Post workout shake – We like to use a combination of Carbohydrates, Protein, and Glutamine.  The amount works out to approximately 1g of Carbs per lb of bodyweight, 0.25g of protein per lb, and 0.10g of Glutamine per lb.  Timing is important, so try to have it as soon as you finish your last set.  Do not mix protein with liquids until right before you are going to ingest it.
  7. Time under tension – If you want to put on muscle, you need to make sure that you are keeping your muscles working, or under tension, for 40 -70 seconds.  We use tempo in our exercise prescriptions. Say you are performing a bench press at a tempo of 4010, 4 seconds down and 1 second up; that means every rep takes 5 seconds to complete.  If you are doing 10 reps that’s 50 seconds that your muscle is under tension.  That’s a huge difference from 10 reps at 1010.  If you want your body to change, you need to push it to make it do so.
  8. Choose Compound movements as your base – Squats, Deadlifts, Dips, Military Press, Chin Ups, Bench Press, Bent Rows. You can do some isolation exercises, but these compound movements need to be your major lifts.  Do not be afraid to lift heavy weights, either.  When you are done your workout, you should be dragging yourself out of the gym.
  9. Working out is not a social event – On your program you need to have specific rest periods.  When you are done a set, start your stopwatch.  When it reaches the specific time you’d better be lifting!  Do not be hanging around talking to everyone that walks by…..maintain your focus! You can pick up girls on the weekend!
  10. Train Hard …Then go Home – Your workouts should not keep you in the gym.  After your general warm up (approximately 10 min) your workout should be 45 minutes to 1 hour.  After that your testosterone levels start decreasing.  You should be able to determine how long it takes by multiplying tempo x reps x sets and adding in the rest periods.  We like to use antagonist muscle pairings to get more work done in less time.  For example, Chest/Back.  You perform a set of chest, rest, and then move on to the back.  If you take 60s rest between sets it will be 2½ to 3 min between chest sets.  You should be fully recovered and be able to handle more weight.

Here is a sample program for hardgainers – Extended Giant Sets.

Day 1 – Chest/Back

Order

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Tempo

Rest

A1 Supinated Chin Ups

4

4-6

4010

15s

A2 Pronated Chin Ups

4

3-5

3010

15s

A3 Horizontal Rows – feet elevated

4

8-10

2012

3m

A4 45 Incline DB Bench Press – N to P

4

4-6

4010

15s

A5 DB Bench Press – Neutral Grip

4

6-8

3010

15s

A6 Decline DB Bench Press

4

8-10

3010

3m

B1 Bent Lateral Raise

3

8-10

2011

10s

B2 DB Flies

3

8-10

2110

60s

 

Day 2 – Legs

Order

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Tempo

Rest

A1 Back Squats

4

4-6

4010

15s

A2 Low Pulley Split Squats

4

8-10

3110

15s

A3 Backwards Sled Drag

4

 40 yds

XXX

3m

A4 Lying Hamstring Curls

4

4-6

4010

15s

A5 Romanian Deadlifts

4

6-8

3010

15s

A6 Back Extensions

4

8-10

2011

3m

B1 Standing Calf Raises

3

8

1011

10s

B2 Seated Calf Raises

3

25

1011

60s

 

Day 3 – Shoulders/Arms

Order

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Tempo

Rest

A1 Dips

4

4-6

4010

15s

A2 Close Grip Bench Press

4

3-5

3010

15s

A3 Lying Tri Extensions –EZ Bar to head

4

8-10

2012

3m

A4 Thick Barbell Curls

4

4-6

4010

15s

A5 Reverse Preacher Curls – EZ Bar

4

6-8

3010

15s

A6 Incline Hammer Curls

4

8-10

3010

3m

B1 3 Way DB Lateral Raise

3

   5ea

2011

10s

B2 Cobra External Rotations

3

8-10

2110

60s

 

Larry Jusdanis

Larry Jusdanis

Larry is an accomplished Strength and Conditioning Coach with more than 20 years of strength coaching and is a disciplined leader who demonstrates exceptional creativity in developing athletes and executing programs that consistently exceed expectations.

To get more information about SST please visit www.sstcanada.com

To check out how these programs can be done in complete safety, visit us at www.xperformm.com

 

 

The Brains in Your Training Program

Cormax Intelligence

If you compare the Cormax training equipment to the human body, you would have to say the patented safety cylinder is the heart. The precision hydraulics control the lifting arms and through a selectable rate of fall dial prevent the weights from crashing down on the athlete.  And if you extend that analogy further, you’d point to the Cormax Intelligence system as the brains.

Cormax Intelligence

This unique electronics system provides instant feedback to the athlete and coach. Readouts of power exerted and the speed of reaction are visible on the screen in both numeric and graphical formats. The unit will display information in real-time for each rep or in summary for each rep in a set.

The screens are also conveniently placed – in front of the athlete for the Olympic Lift and the Jump Station, and overhead on the Bench Press – for ease of use and maximum visibility.

Integrate Into Your Program

The Intelligence system is designed not only to provide feedback, but also to influence an athlete’s training. For example, instead of simply providing a readout after a routine, a coach can set the unit to give audible and visual signals telling the athlete to ‘go’. Now, reaction times are measured from an external signal just like the referee’s whistle or the quarterback’s call on the line of scrimmage. Now you’re training just like it will happen during the game.

Coaches

Now your evaluation of an athlete’s performance can be based on power exerted and the speed of reaction, and not only on how much weight is on the bar. You’ll also be amazed by how simply seeing this information promotes competition between your athletes and a drive to improve.

Why should you care?

It’s a proven fact that measuring results is an integral part of improvement. After all, you can’t get better if you don’t know where you started from.

Check out this video to see the Cormax Intelligence system in action on the Jump Squat. View now.

For more information about the entire Cormax system, please contact us at info@xperformm.com or by calling 416.300.9194.

Max Size and Max Strength Bench Workout

Why is it …

Why is it that whenever I’m in a gym, I see people benching the same weight at each workout?

It usually goes like this:

A person performs a few reps at 185 pounds then at 205, and maybe 225 and then they get stuck.   At this point the individual moves to another exercise, most likely the incline bench, and does the same kind of thing.   You would think that after a year the weight they can bench would be through the roof, but unfortunately they haven’t seen continued improvement because most people don’t know how to maximize their strength training capacity.   They don’t know how to initiate progression.  The potential for increasing muscle size just isn’t being met.

“The potential for increasing muscle size just isn’t being met.”

Though we at SST have different bench routines for each of our athletes, the one I want to outline here is a favorite because it helps the athlete gain not only strength, but also size.

Basically the workout consists of 6 sets of 6 reps but with drop sets.  Of course, after finishing this workout, many of our athletes feel like their body has been to hell and back!

Here’s how the program works from a physiological standpoint.  An important factor to consider when working to increase strength and muscle size is to maximize motor unit activation.  To better understand this, think of your body as containing a pool of motor units. By performing the Max strength Max size bench workout, which consists of lifting at, or near, maximum capacity, you would activate almost all of those motor units.  The type of motor units we are aiming to recruit are the “fast twitch” or the type IIb muscle fibers.  Fast twitch fibers are associated with high threshold motor units and are evidenced by power, speed and explosiveness.   SST encourages their athletes to recruit the fast twitch fibers because this optimizes the most potential for building both strength and size.  And who doesn’t want to be bigger and stronger?

The Max Strength Max Size workout is also an effective tool when used to build up the legs, but for now let’s look at increasing bench performance.

Exercise order

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Tempo

Rest in between reps

Rest after set

A1

14” Bench press

2

2,1,1,1,1

401

15

100

A2

Wide grip pull- ups

2

6

301

0

100

B1

Bench press

2

2,1,1,1,1

301

15

100

B2

Narrow grip pull ups

2

6

301

0

100

C1

Wide grip Bench press

2

2,1,1,1,1

301

15

100

C2

Chin ups

2

6

211

0

100

D1

Decline lying db triceps extension

3

8-12

311

0

90

D2

External rotation on knee with db

3

15

301

0

90

About Tempo

Tempo refers to speed of   movement.  The first number represents the speed, in seconds, when lowering the weight or letting it down with gravity.  The second number refers to the pause between lowering and raising.  The third number refers to the speed of raising the weight.

For an example, look at the chin-up tempo.  The tempo is 211; therefore, the athlete would lift himself up over the bar in one second, pause for one second and then lower himself for 2 seconds.

For the most efficient workout, SST pairs exercises together.  For instance, you would do A1 immediately followed by A2 as the first pairing, and then repeat until all sets have been completed.  At this point move on to B1 and B2 and follow the same pattern.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

Three different grips are used for bench work

Differing the grip and varying the load, increases muscle tension and motor unit activation.  By varying the grip you maximize muscle recruitment thus increasing the potential to build muscle mass.

How the rep scheme is broken down

SST recommends starting with a weight that is near your maximum ability for one rep.  Lift this weight for 2 reps.  Wait 15 seconds then use a weight that is 5 to 10% less and perform a single rep at maximum tension.  Repeat with this weight until you have completed 6 reps in total.

Alternate bench work with chin-ups/pull-ups

Research has shown that by working opposite muscle groups overall strength is improved in the most beneficial manner.  Perform all 6 reps of chins and pull-ups at the same time with no rest in between reps.  When you are able to perform all 6 reps with ease add more weight.

It is important to rest between sets

There is a 15 second rest between reps when doing bench lifts which allows the body to recover and to recruit maximum motor units for every lift.  By lifting in this manner, the athlete is able to tap into the higher threshold motor units.  By using the maximum tension in every lift, you can expect to make tremendous gains in strength and start to build up size.

This workout is demanding but the results are well worth the effort.  Perform your workout once every 4 – 5 days for a month and let me know what you think.

Larry Jusdanis, owner of Sports Specific Training

Larry Jusdanis, Sports Specific Training

Larry Jusdanis is the owner of Sports Specific Training Inc. and has trained thousands of athletes from a variety of sports ranging from your Weekend Warrior to the Professional.

To get more information about SST please visit www.sstcanada.com

To see how the Max Strength Bench Workout can be done in complete safely at or even above your normal maximum capacity, visit us at www.xperformm.com  Watch the Bench Press videos.

Learn more about the Cormax Bench Press station.