Category Archives: Coaching

Westside for Skinny Bastards, Part III

Joe DeFranco of DeFranco’s Training is a leader in the no bullshit type strength and conditioning that has gained popularity over the past several years. Work hard, get results, end of story. Joe’s third and final installment of Westside for Skinny Bastards is awesome and you should check it out. The program is a super detailed, easy to follow plan all laid out for you, just follow along and get bigger and stronger.

From Joe DeFranco: WS4SB

After a year of answering questions about my original article and making modifications to it in the gym with my athletes, I decided to write Part 2. In that second installment, I discussed how to incorporate running workouts into the original training template. Another two years have passed now, and the avalanche of questions involving WS4SB continues to kill my inbox! This is what prompted me to sit down and provide more answers to the most common questions people have been asking. In this, my third and final chapter, I will clarify the following:

  • A new 4-day-a-week strength training template for the off-season
  • Explanation of warm-up sets
  • New ways to incorporate speed training and conditioning into the program
  • Sample in-season training templates
  • Bonus “Washed-up Meathead” template
  • The importance of including “indicator” exercises in your program

The Plan:

4-DAY STRENGTH TRAINING TEMPLATE

My original Skinny Bastard template consisted of three strength training days with an optional fourth day. Although a 3-day template is sufficient for building size and strength, I quickly realized that most people want to train more. WS4SB3 will now provide you with a 4-day strength training template. It’s been over three years since I wrote the original article, so it’s about time you skinny bastards graduated to a 4-day split that more closely resembles a “traditional” Westside split! First, I’ll reveal the new and improved template. After that, I’ll go over the specific details you’ll need to know.

MONDAYMax-Effort Upper Body
TUESDAYDynamic-Effort Lower Body
WEDNESDAY – Off
THURSDAYRepetition Upper Body
FRIDAYMax-Effort Lower Body
SATURDAY – Off
SUNDAYOff

You can also split up the training like this…

MONDAYMax-Effort Lower Body
TUESDAYOff
WEDNESDAYMax-Effort Upper Body
THURSDAYOff
FRIDAYDynamic-Effort Lower Body
SATURDAYOff
SUNDAYRepetition Upper Body

Now that the new template is in place, I’ll reveal the changes I’ve made since my original article…

Greyskull Barbell Linear Progression

Strength Villain and the Greyskull Barbell Linear Progression. This program seems to work for pretty much anyone and everyone I have talked to about it. Check it out for yourself and have fun. Below is just a quick overview of the program but you can find the details in the above link. Gotta pay to play.

Monday
Bench/ or Press (A/B) 2x 5, 1 x 5+
Curl 2x 10-15 (bench days)
Squat 2x 5, 1x 5+
Neck Harness

Wednesday
Bench/ or Press 2×5, 1x 5+
Weighted Chins 2 x 6-8 (press days, and only if you can do at least 6-8 BW chins)
Deadlift 1x 5+ (with or without power cleans as warmups)
Neck Harness

Friday
Bench/ or Press (A/B) 2x 5, 1 x 5+
Curl 2x 10-15 (bench days)
Squat 2x 5, 1x 5+
Neck Harness

Bodyweight Chins are done every day.
5 lb jumps on Squat and Deadlift
2.5lb jumps on pressing movements and curls (when rep ranges are satisfied)
When reps on last set fall below 5, take 10% off of bar and begin process over (on that lift only)

Online Coaches (The 4 Golden Rules)

 

Throwback Thursday article regarding the surge in online coaches; this was written by two well known people in the industry, Dave Tate (Elite FTS) and John Meadows. Enjoy!

“With the recent surge in online coaches, I thought I would share a little something Dave Tate and I put together (mostly Dave) to help you assess if someone is worthy of your hard earned dough.
Here are the 4 Golden Rules:
1. What is their education? … Do they have a degree? In a related field? BS, Masters, PHD? Certifications? Continuing Education? Internships? Work History? Mentors? Self Thought? It’s very important that they understand how to translate education, studies, etc into actual client scenarios too. This is critical. On a scale of 1-5 where do they rank? 5 would be advanced degree, internship and 2-3 very good mentors. Work back from there. If they are only self thought they get a 1 or 2. 2.
2. What have they done? Do they lift? Did they play sports? What level? How long? How long to get to the top level? How long did they stay at top level? What adversity did they face? If they are so good at coaching, they should have at least been able to get results with themself.
A 5 would be the person who busted ass for years to get into the top 10%. They faced adversity and had to earn every pound and sacrificed and paid a price for it. A 1 would be the person who did nothing. A 2 would be the genetic freak/anomoly who hit the top fast and never really faced adversity.
3. Who have they trained? Who are their clients? Do they have any? Did they ever have any? What hands on experience do they have? Have they created people better than they were? Have they worked with beginners? Intermediate? Advanced?
A 5 would have worked with every skill level and has made people better than they were (are). They have years of experience doing so and have many tools in the box. A 1 lies about who they have trained. I also wouldn’t give a 5 to those who only work with advanced or pro athletes. A real coaches knows not just how to work with pros but also how to create them.
4. Who coached them and who have they trained with? Do they know how to listen? Follow directions? Were they coached by the best or by nobody at all? Have they trained with champions (it rubs off). Do they know when to drive and push hard and when to back down? Do they know how a squat should look, feel and sound? Do they know basic gym manners.
A 5 has been coached by the best and has learned respect for it. A one has never been coached by anyone who pushed them hard, disagreed with and learned to respect. Typically these are know it alls. Avoid at all costs. If you find a perfect 20 its REALLY rare. The goal would be to find a 16 or better. They won’t be cheap but they will get you where you need to go and the extra money you do spend will be nothing compared to the medical expense and downtime working with a 12 or below. Hope this helps.”

Diesel SC – How to Bench Press

I wanted to revisit an older post from Jim Smith of Diesel Strength and Conditioning.  This article  is quite thorough and could be the most impressive blog post on the Bench Press I have ever seen. The article includes exercise progressions, descriptions, advice, vids, pics, different bench exercises, and more! Much respect to the fellas over at Diesel SC for taking the time to put together such an informative post for everyone to see. Enjoy.

Rack Chat: Partial Squats vs. Full Squats

A little over a year ago there was a video going viral around the strength and conditioning community; essentially it was a video of a “strength coach” telling some Olympians that partial squats are the way to go nowadays instead of those dangerous full squats. Anyways, I am not going to beat a dead horse and pick the video apart…mostly because the dudes over at 70’s Big have already done just that. Enjoy.

The Video:

The 70’s Big Response:

I’m really good at pointing out things that are wrong, so let’s get started.

1. Nobody in this video can string a sentence together confidently. At one point Maurice Greene says that the coach is going “to facilitate us on the weightroom”. Huh??? Then he says, “Here we have Montel Douglas who is the British national record holder…for Great Britain…and shit.” I added the last part because they undoubtedly had to edit that part out. Then the coach makes up his sentence as he goes along as if he’s never had to think about it before. Then he says the squat is “important for a track athlete to simply create force into the ground”. To clarify, we don’t summon force out of thin air like a demon, we apply force into the ground so that Newton’s third law occurs (equal and opposite reaction) to move. I’m not expecting this explanation, but I am expecting correct terminology when you’re a supposed expert.

I could keep going. “We go a hip-width distance” — of what? “We feel that halfway to a quarter is deep enough,” — sharing your feelings is not a way to prove why to do something.

Sure, even I have bad days with communicating, but this was terrible. What is Montel the world record holder of? Why should track athletes lift weights? What is this squat movement accomplishing? Why is this “new” movement beneficial?

2. “What better exercise to load the lower body than the barbell squat,” and then he hardly loads the body by doing a partial rep. And wasn’t this the reason that Maurice stated that they didn’t want to go deeper?

3. ”Puts a lot of stress on yo body, creates injuries…and shit”. If you perform the squat like Maurice Greene, who is labeling himself as the expert, then yes, they can be injurious. In fact, decent squats can be injurious if regular mobility work isn’t performed. This is why a proper squat is done with the hip going below the knee so that it trains the lower body joints and musculature through a full range of motion. This is also why proper foot attire is worn to increase the efficiency and subsequently the safety. Remember that lifting shoes have the slight heel increase, the non-compressible sole, the meta-tarsal straps, and the wider sole base to help solidify the articulation of the athlete to the ground so that they can properly apply force. Furthermore, lifting shoes help utilize the body’s mechanics more efficiently to distribute force evenly across the thighs and hips regardless of anthropometry. A belt will only increase all of this efficiency by increasing the intra-abdominal and thoracic pressure, increasing the stability of the trunk which will not only improve the transmission of force (AKA performance), but help protect the spine by improving the pneumatic “brace” against the anterior portion of the spine.

The rest of the response can be found in the link below…

http://70sbig.com/blog/2012/08/a-part-of-me-died/

Strength: An Endangered Species – Joe Amberlock (Orlandi)

elite-fts-gym

Another gem of an article from the boys at Elite FTS. There is a serious takeaway from these words below, read closely, take notes, and get strong.

“DEFINITION: A species whose numbers are so small that the species is at risk of extinction.

There was once a time when strength ran supreme. It was the quality by which a person could be measured and judged. It was idolized and worshiped by those who coined sayings of its prominence, “Only the strong shall survive.” Without this trait there was no progress, no honor, no life. The physically strong were admired and looked to for guidance, protection, and inspiration. Civilizations were built by the strong and then torn down and burned to ashes by the stronger.

However, this time has long passed us by and physical strength is endangered. This regression did not happen overnight, rather it was a slow and gradual disease taking hold over centuries. For a long time, this trait and its followers were oblivious of the gradual decay that was taking place. They were unaware that they were slowly being hunted.

Centuries ago, we could not survive without strength. Our great ancestors knew this and placed the highest value on its development. Today, strength is treated as an outcast—unvalued and left to die. The pursuit of it is now looked upon as trite or moronic, a waste of time and energy. How easily people have forgotten what this trait has done for us. It was what kept us alive during the hunt, what protected us against enemies, what gave us confidence during turmoil. It was the primary catalyst in our progress, and we have forgotten and neglected it as if it were a stranger.

The days of hunting for our next meal and protecting our families against deadly wildlife are in the past; however, the value of physical strength remains the same. A quality so important to humanity that it cannot just vanish and be forgotten…although, there are some who wish it were that way. With every infomercial that sells the next fitness gadget, and with every workout video that claims to have reinvented the wheel, we stray further from it. The quest for strength was once pure, but now it is littered with “experts” who care nothing for its development or preservation, who only desire to piggyback off of it to make a profit. Poachers claim that the pursuit of this quality can harm us. They claim that what once kept us safe and healthy is now un-safe and detrimental.

The path to strength is more than physical, it as an all-encompassing quality. Strength is the skeleton key, opening doors that were previously locked. It teaches the values of courage, patience, and perseverance. There are still many who genuinely respect the quality of strength and all that it has done for us; however, I fear that number is dwindling.

So for those of you reading this, I ask that every time you train, you respect this trait and its qualities. When you speak of it, let your words be true and in favor of its prosper. When you see injustice towards it, speak up and defend it.

However, most of all, enjoy the journey towards this trait. Although the road forward can be treacherous, it has been built this way for a reason. Without the hardships, failures, and frustrations this path bears, the unworthy would walk along it freely. Do not stray from this road when forward progress stalls, for strength has always been an elusive trait—broad as day one moment then vanished the next. It is as if strength has developed a defense mechanism, always moving and hiding, cautious and suspicious of the intents of those who walk its road. Do not let this ever defer you from it, for many have walked it genuinely—to arrive with open arms.”

http://articles.elitefts.com/training-articles/strength-an-endangered-species/

The Bulgarian Method of Training

Below is information I pilfered from the internet for The Bulgarian Method of Training. High Volume, heavy loads, enjoy!

The Bulgarian Method of Training article by Jim Moser

Bulgarian Training Methodology

bulgarian

Session 1
(Mon, Wed, Fri) Time Exercise
9:00-9:30 Front Squat
9:30-10:00 Break
10:00-11:00 Snatch
11:00-11:30 Break
11:30-12:30 Clean and Jerk
12:30-13:00 Front Squat
Session 2
(Mon, Wed, Fri) 16:30-17:30 Clean and Jerk
17:30-18:00 Break
18:00-19:00 Snatch
19:00-19:30 Front Squat
19:30-20:00 Pulls
Session 2
(Tue, Thu, Sat) 9:00-9:30 Squat
9:30-10:00 Break
10:00-10:45 Power Snatch
10:45-11:15 Break
11:15-12:00 Power Clean
12:00-12:30 Front Squat
12:30-13:00 Pulls

http://www.owresource.com/training/bulgarian.php

Video: Amazing Bulgarians

Rack Chat: Sumo vs. Conventional Deadlift

In this installment of Rack Chat, I will decipher the difference between the sumo and conventional deadlift, and why this actually matters. The two deadlifts are fairly similar, pick the bar up off floor and place it back down, that is the deadlift in a nutshell. The major difference in the two is the set-up, biomechanics in the execution, and the dominant muscles involved. In my opinion, one is not better than the other, rather, either lift could be beneficial to different types of lifters (i.e. short, tall, long legs, long arms, stronger hips, stronger hams, etc.). I perform both lifts because I think each serves an important purpose in my programming. I am as “strong” on both, but I enjoy working the sumo more because of the fact that my low back feels better when performing. I went ahead and bullet pointed the the more interesting differences below for each lift, enjoy!!

Conventional Deadlift:

20131230_11470620131230_114711

  • Hips farther from bar
  • Torso is more horizontal (more load on low back)
  • Hips might start in a higher position (depends on flexibility)
  • More hamstring dominant (requires more hip mobility)
  • More load on lower back (lumbar and sacrum)
  • Grip outside of legs
  • More shearing forces on lumbar spine

Sumo Deadlift:

20131230_11481920131230_114824

  • Hips are closer to bar
  • Torso position is more vertical (less load on low back)
  • Hips start in lower position (may get lower depending on width of stance)
  • More load on hips and adductors (requires more groin flexibility)
  • Less load on low back (might be better for those with low back issues)
  • Grip inside of legs
  • Less shearing forces on lumbar spine

“Training” vs. “Coaching”

Training and coaching by definition are fairly similar. But, when applied to teaching goal orientated fitness modalities these two become very different animals. Vern Gambetta had a blog post years ago that I really enjoyed reading so I wanted to revisit and share with you all. Vern did a quick breakdown of “Training” vs. “Coaching”, defining what it means to do one versus the other. If you have ever worked in the fitness industry you will completely understand the angle from which this was written. It really defines the difference between a good/not so good trainer and a great trainer. The good trainers can get the results for their clients, but it is the mode in which they do it that separates them from the great trainers. Does the trainer accept bad form, or do they work with the client till it is 100% correct. It is not just the end result, rather, it is also the means by which you get the people there.  Enjoy.

https://i2.wp.com/media.utsandiego.com/img/photos/2012/02/17/UTI1631818_r620x349.jpg

1) Training – Focused on the result. Just get it done.

Coaching – Focused on the process, how it is done, making sure it is repeatable.

2) Training – Self centered, all about the trainer, the athlete can’t do it without the trainer.

Coaching – All about empowering and teaching the athlete. Creating self-sufficiency rather than dependence.

3) Training – Has all the answers.

Coaching – Always gathering data from the training, fine-tuning and learning.

4) Training – Lots of screaming and yelling, ”motivating.”

Coaching – Purposeful, meaningful feedback and cue’s, communicating and teaching.

5) Training – Focused on equipment, needs machines and apparatus to train.

Coaching- Focused on the athlete and the sport they are preparing for and coach accordingly. Use what is needed and         necessary, not bells and whistles.

6) Training – Scattered, all over the place.

Coaching – Focused on the task at hand. No cell phone!

7) Training – Follows the latest fads, listens to gurus.

Coaching – Knows best practice and follows it. Stands on the shoulders of giants. Has a mentor.

How CrossFit Changed My Life

CrossFit North County Marathon Rowing Competition

CrossFit, most of you in the fitness industry have probably heard of it by now and if you haven’t you are probably living under a rock. CrossFit gets mixed reviews by professionals as well as fitness enthusiasts; either they love it or hate it, with very little grey area. Now, some of you may be thinking, but you don’t really do CrossFit anymore?!? This is true, now, but when I caught the fever back in 2006 it was a whole different story.

Before I found CrossFit I was dabbling in quite a few different types of strength/hypertrophy building exercise routines. In the early 2000’s I was all hypertrophy; meaning I would do one or two body parts a day and exercise for way over an hour. During my later college years I was introduced to a strength and conditioning class, this is where I picked up the deadlift, squat, and clean and jerk exercises to add to that already boring and lengthy workout. I very much hated legs and honestly, rarely did squats or deadlifts. I was big, I was strong, but my strength was not distributed equally and I was very much a top-heavy lifter.

In 2006 I graduated from school and returned home and rejoined the gym I had been a member of before I left for school, the one where all my bodybuilding went down. By this time the gym had started renting out space in one of the racquet ball courts to a business called CrossFit Encinitas. Being the inquisitive person I am I checked out their gym, equipment, took a business card and reached out to the owner of the gym. He told me the cost of the gym membership and I was unable to afford so I took it upon myself to find the source of this “CrossFit” exercise routine. I went online and searched CrossFit in my Yahoo search engine (yes I used to use Yahoo for searching) and found the CrossFit main page. I checked out the workouts and like most other people, was floored by what they were asking of me to do in one single workout…for time. It actually took me about six months to start working out with workouts from the CrossFit mainpage, I was mostly scared and had no idea what to expect from such intense workouts. In mid-2007 I did my first CrossFit workout, Barbara, loved it and was hooked.

By 2008 I was well into my love for CrossFit and really started to preach the gospel to people I met. I finally had a program that MADE me do legs and did all the programming for me so I no longer had to roam around the gym aimless looking for other exercises to waste time on. By late 2008, early 2009 I met up with a man who would later become my business partner with our affiliate CrossFit North County. I met Marc while he was rowing at the local YMCA gym I was working at. I started chatting with him about how awesome the rower was and how I used it a lot in CrossFit. He of course wanted to know what CrossFit was so I told him, a few months later he joined a local affiliate, started paleo, and lost close to 50lbs.

By late 2009 Marc was deep into the CrossFit mayhem and ended up going to a local certification and got the CrossFit level 1 cert. Once he got this cert we started talking about how cool it would be to start our own affiliate, but we were both working so much, had no equipment, so on and so forth. Well, Marc started purchasing equipment slowly but surely and by early 2010 we had just enough to start our own gym. I found a space, we affiliated and set up shop in a local sports performance facility. All was good, the gym started to grow however I had started to lose my passion for CrossFit. Not sure how and why it came about but for whatever reason I was no longer doing WOD’s and started moving my training to primarily doing powerlifting type exercises. From there I ended up taking a job up north in Los Angeles and had to abandon my business all together which at this point, I was fine with.

I moved away to Los Angeles and started to train in a very powerbuilding training method. I also found a training partner, Paleo Devan, who had similar goals as me with regards to strength and size gains. Devan inspired me to be passionate with my training and programming and we both really benefitted from this training awakening. So, here I am today, strong, happy with my program, gaining size, and when I look back I really have CrossFit to thank.

So how did CrossFit actually change my life?

  • CrossFit inspired me to be passionate about training myself again.
  • CrossFit made me do legs, which is why I am actually proportionate now.
  • CrossFit made me push my body to a level I had never worked at before.
  • CrossFit taught me how to program workouts to be more efficient.
  • CrossFit introduced me to powerlifting, which is a major part of my routine now.
  • Preaching CrossFit to others helped me to help others with their health.
  • CrossFit made me enjoy fitness again, plain and simple.
  • CrossFit inspires a passion for fitness like nothing else I have ever seen.
  • CrossFit introduced me to Paleo. The paleo diet has been a life changing “diet” for me and many others I have helped along the way and I 100% owe CrossFit and Robb Wolf for introducing me to this way of eating.

Thank you all so much for reading through this really long and drawn out blog post. I had not written much about my background with CrossFit, or fitness in general so it was nice to get that off my chest. Do I agree with everything CrossFit does, no. But I do think CrossFit has one of the best platforms for people looking to learn and adapt new training and nutritional philosophies into their own way of exercising and living. I have seen plenty of people start CrossFit and then segue into olympic weightlifitng, powerlifitng, rowing, running, or just add these elements into their old way of working out (like me). CrossFit’s ability to do just that is why I really do think it changed my life for the better as well as the others who I have helped over the years, so thank you CrossFit.