Ambition PH Podcast

It was a pleasure to be a guest on a Filipino hosted podcast “Ambition PH Podcast” earlier this summer.

In this talk, Coach Luis, Coach Yey, and I chatted about my background, my career path, how I’ve come to learn about certain methodologies in my everyday training, along with how I managed finances early on in my career, among many other topics.

Hope you enjoy!

As always,
Keep it funky.

Q&A with S&C Coaches – Part 2

This is a two part series, with Part 1 found here.

With many gyms opening up in Massachusetts, I wanted to provide a little bit more value for strength and conditioning professionals who are just entering the field, especially entering during a time with much ambiguity for our field.

With this said, this is the second part of a question and answer where I ask a few colleagues and strength coaches some questions on a their sources that underpin their understanding and knowledge base for coaching.

David Otey

@DavidOteyFit

I first met David while we were both presenting for an NSCA course in New Jersey in 2018. Afterwards, I quickly realized we ran in similar circles with several like-minded strength and conditioning groups, and it is just surprising that 2018 was the first time we met. He is a master instructor for Dr. John Rusin’s “Pain Free Performance Specialist Certification,” and he also serves on the advisory board for Men’s Health.

1. What are your top 2-3 resources for getting stronger/more resilient?

  1.  Renegade Radio podcast with Jay Ferruggia
  2. Becoming a Supple Leopard – Dr. Kelly Starrett
  3. TheStrengthHouse.com

2. What are your top 2-3 resources for learning functional anatomy?

  1. Physiopedia.com
  2. Human Anatomy Atlas – App Store 

3. What are your top 2-3 resources for exercise programming?

  1. Pain Free Performance Specialist Certification
  2. MYTPI.com 

4. Do you have any advice for an up and coming strength and conditioning professional?

Volunteer as much as you can in the beginning. Volunteering is where I learned so much of the information I use on a day by day basis now. Not all places can take on interns that can provide credit. And people are certainly going to be jumping to pay someone new to learn a lot of new information on their dime. Everyone can take volunteers though.

I always tell college students or young people aspiring to be in any field, ask the person you are working under how you can EARN their recommendation. It is not a matter of just asking someone with influence to sign their name on the dotted line. How can you show that individual that you are so serious about this career path that you earn their nod of approval? If you approach every interaction that way moving forward, it will make this process a lot more fluid. How can I EARN your respect?

Matt Siniscalchi

@MattSiniscalchi

I first met Matt at a Postural Restoration Institute course at a facility he worked at in 2012, then I interned at that same facility in 2013, and then eventually becoming his co-worker from 2013-2014. We’ve kept in touch ever since, and I’ve probably asked him more questions than he has asked of me, regarding all things energy systems training, sprinting and speed questions, strength training, exercise programming, and everything in between. Needless to say, Matt is a very sharp individual who I hold at a high regard. Plus, he is also an Eagles fan.

1. What are your top 2-3 resources for getting stronger/more resilient?

2. What are your top 2-3 resources for learning functional anatomy?

  • Biomechanics and Kinesiology of Exercise – Yessis
  • FRC (Functional Range Conditioning) concepts – Andreo Spina

3. What are your top 2-3 resources for exercise programming?

  • Advances in Functional Training – Boyle
  • Revolutionary 1x20RM Strength Training Program – Yessis

4. What are your top 2-3 resources for learning exercise physiology?

  • Ultimate MMA Conditioning by Joel Jamieson

*although I wouldn’t implement these first with athlete’s at first, it gives a good general understanding of ideas.

5. If you work with a specific population, what are your top resources for learning more on how to serve that population, and why?

  • Bill Knowles (reconditioning, athletic development) 
  • Dr. Michael Yessis (sport skills, special strength, athletic development)
  • Vern Gambetta (all things athletic development)

6. Do you have any advice for an up and coming strength and conditioning professional?

     1. Always question the “WHY” : much to do about strength and conditioning nowadays seems to be that we follow advice blindly without searching deeper/throughly. 

      2. Always try to base things off results first. Did the athlete achieve the goals they are set out to get? Are they playing their sport better or are they better in accomplishing tasks of daily life, or their hobbies, etc.. (general population)? Did they achieve those goals and/or play better as efficiently as you think?  

      3. Look back at the history: exercises, pieces of equipment, research done –> why, how, when, was it utilized, created, and in what context was it done? Also whom (level of athlete) was it used on and their results? Why do you think it worked or didn’t work? These seem to help find answers as to if the very things we are implementing make sense, work, and why it could work.

      4. “And then what?” An incredible question I learned from a colleague, Jeff Moyer. We can get caught up into strength methods, certain exercises, breathing techniques, recovery modalities, burning fat at any cost, just doing daily workouts of the day etc…what is your starting point and where are you going? Are you getting there consistently? How do you know?

Nick Stodolski

@Stodolski_Strong

Nick and I have crossed paths in a few different ways – first when I went to observe at a facility he worked at from maybe 2016-2017ish, and then our circles began to become more similar when he began a master’s program with the folks at Merrimack College. Nick has taken a “outside of the box” approach to this industry, much like myself, and for that I appreciate his perspective and his experiences. Now, he is a strength coach working with EXOS.

1. What are your top 2-3 resources for getting stronger/more resilient?

2. What are your top 2-3 resources for learning functional anatomy?

 Currently: Human Anatomy Atlas 2021 (App on Ipad or Tablet)

Miguel this may be different and hopefully you agree. Contact your local physical therapy office or hang out with AT’s, shadow, and bring and form questions. This was one of the biggest ones for me. We can all learn cadaveric anatomy, but the functional aspect really hits home here.

3. If you work with a specific population, what are your top resources for learning more on how to serve that population, and why?

As I worked as an EXOS Tactical Performance Coach, EXOS Tactical Performance Cert along with the NSCA Tactical Certification were big in my development to learn that population.

Along with those certs, Cal Dietz has an exceptional “Tactical Performance Coach” book which does a great job explaining how to properly program concurrent (training all physical qualities) training principles which with the way the world is now with such short prep times I think could be brought to the world of athletics. With Gen Pop clients I think it can hit home to help you still program intelligently and keep them from potentially getting bored. I think it’s a great little layout if trying to set up some bootcamps.

Finally spending time with that population. Asking them questions about their jobs, their experience, and then watching some of the tasks they need to carry out during training. Not only does it help you understand what they need better but it forms relationships and trust between you and them and you do not come down as a dictator but a true leader that wants to help.

4. Do you have any advice for an up and coming strength and conditioning professional?

Don’t try to impress people by what you know. I made that mistake at an internship. I came in with the most experience and it was a big time internship so I wanted a job. Someone with MUCH less experience than me was given big training jobs while I was stuck doing busy work. When I finally approached our director I asked him why this was. He told me “I’m not liking your character. Although you are more experienced, I can teach that to the others, but I can’t teach character.” Be a good person before being a smart person.

Jay Mendoza

@MendozaJayC

I actually met Jay while in an undergrad at Temple University many years ago, but our paths would again cross when he moved to Massachusetts as the head strength and conditioning coach of Brandeis University. Our circles are probably very similar because of the Philadelphia to Boston connections, but our experiences differ from my private sector work to his collegiate experiences.

1. What are your top three resources for getting stronger/more resilient?

One of my favorite books on getting strong is “5/3/1” by Jim Wendler. While some would argue it may not be the flashiest way of getting stronger, or may not provide enough, the longevity of this method proves its validity. While you can alter it to fit your specific population, I think the 4 week percent-based program 5/3/1 provides is a solid way to introduce progression with clients. What 5/3/1 made me realize is that training, no matter the goal, is a marathon, not a sprint. So it is important to always keep the end goal in mind and just try to be incrementally better each day.

Another resource I like for getting stronger is “The APRE” by Dr. Bryan Mann. I think it is a fantastic protocol when working with beginner populations. It provides weight adjustments depending on completed number of reps. For some of my athletes, they never know how much weight to move up, and sometimes we are not at the point where we are working on percent-based or RPE-based workouts. The APRE is a simple way of continuously progressing.

When I hear resilient, I think of bulletproofing the body so it can withstand demands. And since I work with athletes, my mind for some reason shifts to jumping. I am always amazed by watching athletes perform single leg take-offs or doing depth jumps from a 36in box. The ability to absorb all that force driving into the ground and reapply it upward without getting hurt is resilience to me. So for me, one of my go-to books is “Vertical Foundations” by Joel Smith. This book breaks down vertical movement like no other. I was blind to how much goes into jumping before reading this book. I feel most books and programs do not go into enough on how to teach jumps, or how to progress them, but jumps are highly intergral for sport.

2. What are your top 2-3 resources for exercise programming?

For exercise programming, I really enjoyed “Scientific Principles of Strength Training” by Dr. Mike Israetel, Dr. James Hoffman, and Chad Wesley Smith. I am a big fan of these 3 gentlemen as I feel they have a great ability to take complex material and package it in a way that is easy to understand, to enjoy, and to further apply. The book offers everything from specificity, fatigue management, and periodization. I think it is also important to note that as the book suggests, it is full of principles. If you are looking for a book to provide you with sample programs that you can regurgitate to your clientele, this isn’t it. But it will provide you with the tools needed to create well-thought, progressive, and result-oriented programs for people.

Another resource that I like for exercise programming is “The Black Book of Training Secrets” by Christian Thibaudeau. Thibaudeau uses his experience coaching powerlifters, olympic weightlifters, bodybuilders, and athletes and provides a great resource on how to train those populations. He goes over a lot of information and at the end provides lots of examples of workouts. I also think it provides a look into how training sessions and entire programs can be very different than just straight linear periodization, which was very helpful for me when I was just first starting out.

3. If you work with a specific population, what are your top resources for learning more on how to serve that population, and why?
Since I work with athletes, one of my top resources would be “High-Performance Training for Sports” by David Joyce. This is basically an anthology of sport training programs from some of the best strength & conditioning coaches around. It gives you insight into how elite coaches train elite athletes.

Another resource that I have used a lot lately, especially in this quarantine time, is the NSCA College Coaches Facebook group. It is raw information coming straight from the mouths of coaches who do what I do every day. Their insight is so valuable to me, because they are in my shoes. I find that so many of them are ready to help and provide information that it makes for a great community. Coaches helping coaches,

4. Do you have any advice for an up and coming strength and conditioning professional?

I think my advice would be to be a sponge and try to learn as much about everything, but then also practice it. I think it is easy to read about different training styles, but go out and actually apply it to yourself. I have done everything from powerlifting, to olympic weightlifting, to training the shotput (under the tutelage of one of my collegiate athletes I was working with) all for the purpose of learning how those programs and movements work. Do not pigeonhole yourself to one ideology or training style, there’s validity and applicability to them all.

Another piece of advice would be to go out and network. As I mentioned, there are tons of Facebook groups full of like-minded individuals who are willing to talk shop and lend some words of wisdom. Visit other coaches, watch a session, and connect with them. There is a lot to be learned.


Thanks for reading!

As always,
Keep it funky.

Q&A with S&C Coaches – Part 1

Over the past few months under quarantine and stay-at-home orders, it’s become apparent that communication is imperative towards progress in the context of education, along with maintaining professional relationships across the industry.

I’ve surprisingly made more new contacts that I would not have made if not for the pandemic, and reinforced past relationships all due to the coronavirus’ stay-at-home orders. With this said, I wanted to take some time to outline and highlight some individuals that I respect in the strength and conditioning industry.

An ALTIS Zoom call with many other S&C and rehab professionals

With the Internet being largely the only method for individuals to communicate with their clients and other professionals in the past several weeks/months, this can “muddy the waters” as entry-level strength and conditioning professionals may be pulled in many different directions. However, this also allows normally busy individuals in the midst of a season in many different sports to also contribute their expertise in a public format, or in private communication between other individuals, as well.

With this said, I wanted to see if I can help not only guide entry-level professionals on where to get reliable information, but also where to place their energies into continuing education. I’ve asked other experts in their respective fields to answer this Q&A for several different topics related to our industry.

This will be a two part series, and I will give my own input on this Q&A at the end of the series as well. I wanted to get a diverse group of professionals, so the range of sports these individuals work with involve basketball, hockey, collegiate strength and conditioning, alongside other professional and even youth athletes. There is a plethora of information to get from these simple questions, and I hope this will begin to highlight where these professionals’ principles lie as it relates to how they work.

Jeff Aldham

Burlington, ON
Instagram: @Aldham_AD

I met Jeff Aldham first in the summer of 2017 at the 2017 Physical Preparation Summit hosted by Mike Robertson. He was an attendee, and we kept in contact ever since. Jeff is based out of Burlington, Ontario, and I love the information that he puts out there regarding nutrition, youth athlete training, along with his general philosophy on training.

1. What are your top 2-3 resources for getting stronger/more resilient? 

The simplicity of Mike Boyle and the Certified Functional Strength Coach’s program for novice athletes as well as adult population.

For more experienced athletes that I am able to measure readiness (Omegawave, HRV), and I also use Westside and/or Triphasic Training from a training perspective. I have used Triphasic’s general physical preparedness phases with a number of my high school and college/pro athletes.

Triphasic Training by Cal Dietz

Another system I use is the Functional Range Conditioning as of late as it pertains to joint specific “strength training” as well as “tissue resiliency.”

2. What are your top 2-3 resources for learning functional anatomy?

Whatever outdated texts I had to read in college, Anatomy Trains, even Precision Nutrition, as it revisits physiology and nutrition on a cellular level. FRC’s lectures on “Bioflow” has been very interesting to compare to “Biomechanics.” 

3. What are your top 2-3 resources for exercise programming? 

  1. Functional Range Conditioning
    • Functional Range Assessment
  2. Certified Functional Strength Coach
    • Functional Movement Screen

4. What are your top 2-3 resources for learning exercise physiology?

  • Same answers as above (question 2- 3).

5. If you work with a specific population, what are your top resources for learning more on how to serve that population, and why?

(Note: Jeff works with several youth and high school, collegiate athletes.)

Charlie Weingroff’s (Canada Basketball) message saying “Training = Rehab, Rehab = Training” as it pertains how to train an athlete that you’re able to measure readiness with and train consistently.

Boyle and CFSC for both adults and novice athletes as well as Functional Range Conditioning/Kinstretch as they are easy systems to follow that involve what most humans both want and need. 

6. Do you have any advice for an up and coming strength and conditioning professional?

“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” aka just be a good human and show compassion, humility, and empowerment. 

Artie Hairston

Springfield, FL
Instagram: @RT_Hairston

I believe I met Artie first at a Postural Restoration Institute foundations course (can’t recall which specific one), and our circles of contacts have intertwined ever since. I also did an in-service when he worked at a private sports performance facility in Massachusetts, but now Artie is working as a strength and conditioning coach in the Florida Panther’s AHL team, the Springfield Thunderbirds.

1. What are your top 2-3 resources for getting stronger/more resilient?

Triphasic Training” by Cal Dietz, and “Science and Practice of Strength Training” by Zatsiorsky and Kraemer. Both provide a solid general framework to build upon particularly for a young coach/trainer.

2. What are your top 2-3 resources for learning functional anatomy?

Dr. Pat Davidson’s “Rethinking the Big Patterns” 1+2 Seminars and his extensive library of work related to those seminars. He presents a system that considers complex functional anatomy/biomechanical concepts in a way that is easily implemented and useful to a coach of any level. The Complete Anatomy App is also super useful and easily accessible when trying to get a better understanding of anatomy/movement. 

3. What are your top 2-3 resources for exercise programming?

  1. Ultimate MMA Conditioning” by Joel Jamieson provides a useful framework for the implementation of training and conditioning protocols.
  2. New Functional Training for Sports” by Mike Boyle, provides a system of progression and regression that can easily be implemented and adapted by a beginner coach.
  3. Applied Sprint Training” by James Smith is a great book for the application/implementation of speed work for both track and field as well as team sport athletes.
This is an image of the book "Applied Sprint Training" by James Smith
Applied Sprint Training by James Smith

4. What are your top 2-3 resources for learning exercise physiology?

Basic Exercise Physiology textbooks would be my best beginner resource particularly those aimed at undergrads. “Science and Practice of Strength Training” which I mentioned for strength as well has a solid general outline of exercise physiology, which can also serve as a good starting point.

5. If you work with a specific population, what are your top resources for learning more on how to serve that population, and why?

I work with hockey, and three top resources I look to in the hockey community are Kevin Neeld, Devan McConnell and Anthony Donskov. All 3 have extensive experience with hockey at all levels and are extremely transparent with their information as well as have valuable products.

… are all strong recommendations.

Intent by Devan McConnell

Other resources that have been extremely useful to me is collaborating and learning from hockey sport coaches and skill coaches. I have taken the time to talk with, learn from and be instructed (on ice) by some of these coaches and have had leaps in my understanding of the game and how to best serve that particular population by trying to experience it first hand myself. I also take the time to sit in on team meetings, film review, practices as much as I can throughout the season. This information allows me to better understand the coaches perspective, better utilize language/analogy in the gym that is more relevant to the players, and show the players that I am invested in their development as an athlete.

6. Do you have any advice for an up and coming strength and conditioning professional?

For the upcoming fitness professional I recommend working with a wide variety of clients. Some of the best learning experiences and growth I’ve had was while working with youth or adult clients.

The second piece of advice especially when starting to program for your clients is to try things out for yourself. Some of the best training insights I have gained is by putting myself through a program I was going to put a client through. By experiencing the program first hand you can easily identify any pitfalls that you might have otherwise overlooked. 

Kyle Davey

Salem, OR
Instagram: @KyleDavey1

Kyle is an individual I’ve grown to respect over the past few months, not only because our paths crossed continuously whenever there were any Zoom video conferences, but also because he has asked intelligent questions during these calls, which prompted me to reach out and talk shop briefly with him. From these interactions, I know that he walks the walk when it comes to coaching individuals of all ages and populations, and I hope his input helps those who are just beginning their journey into the S&C field.

1. What are your top 2-3 resources for getting stronger/more resilient?

  1. Chris Beardsley for strength training science, his medium page is awesome.
  2. Angela Duckworth for resilience and her work on grit.
  3. I guess the NSCA CSCS for a beginner. The NSCA isn’t without shortcomings, but in the CSCS book and exam you do learn a lot of the basic science that gives you a platform to understand arguments and form your own about training. 
Grit by Angela Duckworth

2. What are your top 2-3 resources for learning functional anatomy?

Pat Davidson and the RTBP concepts are pretty sweet. I have Postural Restoration Institute influences as well. The book “Trail Guide to the Body” was helpful to me when I was in school.

3. What are your top 2-3 resources for exercise programming?

Chris Beardlsey has influenced my programming ideas, alongside Anatoliy Bondarchuk’s “Transfer of Training” and ALTIS’ information and resources as well. And to reinforce this further, the basic physiology stuff that is taught in the textbooks, including the CSCS textbook good resources, too.

Transfer of Training Vol. 3 by Anatoliy Bondarchuk

Stuff we take for granted but is not common knowledge for the layperson and probably the beginner coach: cardio isn’t ideal before strength training as it decreases force expression, plyometric work before strength work, allowing adequate rest between sets for optimal recovery and performance gains, etc.

4. What are your top 2-3 resources for learning exercise physiology?

My top resources are Joel Jamieson, and maybe the ACSM Exercise Physiology Certification. I haven’t done it, but if you want to go the clinical route I think that’s the gold standard in that world. This was my Exercise Physiology textbook in college, and there is lots of good knowledge there.

5. If you work with a specific population, what are your top resources for learning more on how to serve that population, and why?

For training athletes, ALTIS has been a big resource. From learning how to coach speed mechanics, to teaching weight room concepts, they do a good job in their Foundation course. Again, Chris Beardsley has solid work on the underpinning mechanisms of athletic development.

6. Do you have any advice for an up and coming strength and conditioning professional?

Find a quality mentor, hands down my #1 piece of advice. Tough to qualify a quality mentor when you’re brand new, but do your best. Learn as much as possible so you can stand on his or her shoulders.

Secondarily, spend as much time reading and learning the right things and talking to the right people as possible. You will have to pay for many of these experiences–travel, course costs, books, etc. It’s worth it…as long as you’re not venturing into the wrong rabbit holes. Otherwise you’re wasting time, money, and energy. Do as much as possible before other commitments, like marriage and children, supersede your financial and time priorities.

Third, don’t be an internship whore. Do one (with your mentor), and then enter the workforce. Lastly, try and find people who are at the same level as you so you develop a peer group. Internships help with this. This way you can grow together and have open and honest conversations with each other about your (relatively young) training ideas that you may not feel comfortable openly discussing in front of “experts” you look up to.

Answering these questions was surprisingly difficult, other than the last one. I feel like you pick up things here and there along the way, hard to identify single go to sources. Not sure how good my answers are, but they’re here. 


That is all for Part 1, more to come in the Q&A – Part 2!

As always,
Keep it funky.