I want to refer you to an article on a topic that says it all. I used to write for a magazine called Hardgainer that Brooks Kubik was an author for. I have learned much through the years from Mr. Kubik’s knowledge. It is more about how he delivers it.

The World’s A Mighty Big Place by Brooks Kubik

The world’s a mighty big place.

There’s an awful lot of people living in the world.

In a place that big, with that many people, sometimes it seems like it doesn’t matter if you slack off a bit in your training. After all, there’s plenty of other days to train, and it won’t matter if you take it easy for once. Heck, it won’t matter if you even miss a day. You can always come in and do it tomorrow.

When you’re running sprints, you don’t always have to go full bore. You can slow down a step. The coach will never even know. And slowing down just a little tiny bit makes it hurt a whole lot less.

When you’re lifting weights, you don’t always have to go for that extra rep, or try to put more weight on the bar. Just make it look good. Throw in an extra grunt or two, and put on one of those big pain faces like the guys in the muscle mags when they do their photo shoots. The coach will never know.

You really don’t have to get up and go running before the sun is out. It’s okay to sleep in. No one will ever know.

You don’t have to do 200 pushups a day like you decided to do last week. You can do 50. Or you can skip ‘em today. No one will know.

You don’t have to watch your diet the way your Coach wants you to do. Going out with your buds for a double-dish pizza with everything on it is fine. Wash it down with a couple of cokes, and then go grab a burger and fries from Burger Heaven. You can always get back on your diet tomorrow. No one will ever be the wiser.

In fact, if you’ve got talent, skill and a little bit of speed, you can probably sleepwalk your way through 90 percent of the conditioning stuff that the Coach keeps talking about. Maybe it’s all for the second-stringers. The guys who don’t have God-given talent that you have. The guys who need to do grass drills because they have slow feet. The guys who need to do pushups because they aren’t very strong. The guys who need to watch what they eat because they don’t have a good metabolism.

You can think like that, and you can act like that, and no one will ever know. After all, the world’s a mighty big place. The Coach can’t be everywhere.

But if that’s how you approach things, think about this.

Somewhere, at another school, in another town, there’s a kid who’s your age and your size, and he plays the sport you do, and he’s got every bit of God-given talent that you have. In fact, we could put the two of you side by side right now, and you’d match up exactly equal.

But here’s something you need to know.

That very same kid is out there running full-bore sprints every single day. He runs them as hard as he can.

He never misses a weight lifting session, and when he lifts, he always goes for that extra rep. Some times he goes for two or even three extra reps. And he always tries to add weight to the bar.

He gets up every morning, rolls out of bed, throws on his sweats, and goes for a long run. He gets home about the time the sun is starting to climb over the horizon.

The Coach wanted him to do 200 pushups every day. He does 300.

He works as hard on his diet as he does on his training. He never eats anything unless it is going to give him energy to train, protein to grow, or vitamins and minerals to build his body. He doesn’t touch junk food or sweets. He can’t remember the last time he had pizza, French fries, a cookie or a candy bar.

Yes, the world’s a mighty big place.

But it becomes a mighty small place when there are two men running right at each other at top speed on an open field, one running for the winning touchdown and the other man the last defender blocking his path to the goal.

I’m older than you, and I’ve seen it happen over and over, and I know for a fact that this is going to happen.

It’s going to happen to you.

It’s all going to come down to you and him. Just the two of you. Right there in the middle of the field, in front of three thousand screaming fans.

You’re going to hit right there in the middle of the field, full force, one on one, with everything on the line. The whole season. It’s all gonna come down to this split second in time.

And that great big world out there shrinks right down to something small and tiny when two men hit try to occupy the same square foot of turf.

This will happen. I know it, your Coach knows it, and you know it.

So does the kid in the other school in the other town.

You will meet, you will hit, and one of you will knock the other one flat on his back right in front of the entire world.

Right now, I don’t know which of you is gonna end up making the play of the year, and which of you is gonna end up roiling in the dirt with tears in his eyes, crying like a baby because he missed the chance of a lifetime.

No one knows.

We don’t know, because we don’t know which of the two of you is gonna train harder.

It might be him. It might be you.

But it’s your decision…

-Brooks Kubik

Coach ed note: I am headed off to work out now. I figure I have probably had around 4000 leg workouts over the years. Probably squatted about every time. No cushy ineffective leg press or leg extensions. Guess what…………….at 54 I have absolutely no knee pain whatsoever. I train hard, I mean life or death hard, no matter who is watching. Off to the rack.

Thanks Bill Stanley for the throwback photo credit

Whenever I am faced with what I perceive as an uncomfortable or stressful situation I often think back to “real” situations that are stressful. One of those would be the sacrifices that our men and women of the armed forces have made, many with their brief lives, to preserve security and freedom.

My Great Uncle Teddy Coudriet was 22 years old and was top turret gunner on a liberator bomber.  As described in an article that I read, the turret gunner had a great view but was typically a “sitting duck” from any front attack or ditching effort. Always exposed to gunfire and enemy attack in a clear globe that was fixed to the plane.

His plane was shot down over the North Sea and he and the crew were never found. He had been missing since Jan 4, 1944.

On January 20, 1944, 16 days after Teddy’s death, Teddy’s brother, my great Uncle Don enlisted. Courage and real stress. Enough said.

 

 

A lot of athletes try to follow the latest and greatest that they see online or on media. Problem is some of these authors are let’s say…. chemically enhanced and can recover with the best of them. Some athletes jump on their routine and make great gains. Others gain for a bit then plateau quickly since they can’t recover. Others get instant tendinitis or other problems because they are doing 5 times as much work as their genetics will tolerate. There really truly is no one right way to train for a specific goal. Some generalities exist with rep ranges and rest periods and such like sets of 15-25 will certainly get you more enduring but nor truly stronger.

Does speed and sprint work factor as one of your “leg days” ? If it doesn’t it should. Watch your gains increase.

The simplest most overlooked way to get stronger for most athletes is simple linear periodization. I know many athletes who spend 8 months in the weight room and then tell me they did not get any stronger. Start keeping records now. Work harder, not longer. Try overtraining every 3rd or 4th week of a 4-5 week strength cycle, then backing off the following week. Keep your total work volume low, intensity of effort high, eat well, sleep much and gain. You need to be concerned with when and how much weight you add to the bar, not how long you are in the weight room.

Most individuals need to be concerned with how and when to add weight and how much effort is to be put forth at each training session. An effective training cycle allows trainees to make continual progress in size and strength cycle after cycle. Sticking points can be avoided by focusing on how the body adapts to training stresses and rolling with your body’s unique recovery ability as opposed to fighting against it with no results forthcoming.
In addition, add small increments of weight for several reasons. First, it is manageable psychologically. The second reason is physiological. We do not want to exceed  ability to adapt to training stress. The first 6 to 8 weeks of a training cycle involves strength gains that are largely neural. The nervous system increases the efficiency of the available muscle fibers that you already have. Additional muscle is not developed until after this period. If weight is added too quickly before exiting the neurological learning period, a premature plateau is reached before experiencing muscle gain.
Another reason for micro loading is to ensure supercompensation. If you are pushing 100 pounds for 8 repetitions with maximum effort, your body rewards you with fiber and neural adaptations to handle maybe 102 pounds. This is a guess. The following week you choose 101 pounds. The reward gets you to 103 pounds. You have a strength cushion of about 2 pounds since you allowed your body time to adapt to the weight.
In contrast, let’s say you added 5 pounds the first week. You would not be able to handle this for 8 reps and the supercompensation effect as well as the mental aspect of training and gaining would be reduced. If this is continued for a long period, a plateau is a sure bet.
In closing, the success of any program is limited to the body’s recovery ability. This notion should be at the core of any strength and conditioning training program.

GOING VERTICAL

Posted: May 20, 2020 in Uncategorized
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If you know me you kind of know that I am a big fan of basketball. I watch it, I play it, I coach it. I have been intrigued for years to learn how to jump higher. If you think of many of the major sports, leaping can be a big aid in performance.
Let me take you through an empirical process by which my own vertical leap actually improved before my knowledge of plyometrics and modern training methods. As a sixth grader(1977!!), I rationalized that strong legs are legs that will let you jump higher. So with my cement filled plastic Ted Williams weights from Sears, I started squatting. I wedged my body under my bench press uprights for lifting off(I don’t recommend this!) and the strength building began.
I also rationalized that you needed to overcome your bodyweight to get airborne and thought that jumping out of trees, landing and jumping up again would help this. Pretty safe for a strong adult but a really bad idea for a sixth grader. Anyways we went up to frighteningly high heights and for safety’s sake I figured I better just land and stick when we got in the really high branches.
By seventh grade I was hitting the big loops of the basketball net, still squatting and still jumping out of tress like an idiot.
By 9th grade I had worked up to some pretty respectable poundages in the squat but was becoming pretty darn tight. I took up martial arts and with all of the flexibility work(dynamic and static) I was able to express more power(using strength in a hurry, more on this later). Kicking, flying and jumping is somewhat plyometric in nature and this helped as well. I was also developing some elasticity. Soon I was grabbing the rim.
Fast forward to college, with more squatting strength and some early knowledge of plyometrics that did not involve falling out of tees. One night at Grandview courts in Mount Washington, I went up and lo and behold, the ball went down for my first dunk.
If only I knew then what I know now! At the age of 36(we are up to 2002 now!), using an early version of our SFAS protocol my vertical leap peaked out at 36 inches. Let’s look at some key factors in developing some hops.
Power is the ability to exert strength in a given time frame. A good example is a vertical jump. It takes about .2 seconds for most athletes to go from flexion to extension at the knee before leaping. Why do some athletes that weigh the same amount and extend their knees in the same time frame jump higher than others? They can express more force via strength and motor recruitment in this time frame. Since strength is at the the root of power(CAN YOU SAY 2 AND 1 LEG SQUAT?), it is very important unless you are a very fast twitch dominant athlete with naturally dominant ability to recruit.
A program utilizing methods to minimize power loss through the torso should be used in conjunction with plyometrics. The key is stabilizing the pelvis, hip abductors, adductors, and external rotators. We also need to analyze your jump for proper knee tracking and to prevent what former Chicago Bulls strength coach Al Vermeil calls back jumping. The low back is comprised predominantly of slow twitch fibers and will not get you vertical fast enough. Glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps should be used to provide power for jumping.
Take advantage of what we have learned ! There is no time like now to become a better athlete! Get it done!

Get the mind right first

Posted: May 18, 2020 in Uncategorized
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The weights never lie and the steepness of the hill remains unchanged. They will be constant and you can count on them to stay true. The hill isn’t steeper and weights are not heavier on a given day. Your mind and neural drive control these things. Be true to yourself and allow your body to be at it’s best by staying positive and believing. This cannot be faked. The least stressed aspect in training is the mind and it is exponentially more important than diet, rep scheme and loading protocols, and the latest training craze. Fitness crazes and training methodologies are transient and temporary, but the power of the mind is timeless.

Far too many people that work out are interested in getting t the bottom of the page regardless of the amount of effort put forth.

Have some clear cut goals that are part of a bigger overall picture(that is another story) that you will review and visualize before starting your workout. Keep in mind that if it is movement training then repetitive cone, ladder and agility drills are quite useless without a means to overload are quite useless.

Get your mind right first. The great workout will follow.

Five and Dime Training

Posted: May 15, 2020 in Uncategorized

A lot of athletes that I talk to ask me what is the best rep range to gain size or strength. The answer is that it depends. It depends on your genetic make up, fiber type distribution, etc.

There are guys that I have trained that could bench 235×3 but could bench 300 pounds. These guys are fast twitch beasts.There are guys that I have trained that could bench 250×8 but could not get 300 pounds. Not necessarily fast twitch beasts.

Anyhow, one notion that I use is to combine the potentiating effect a heavy set has on recruitment and applying it to a “lighter” 8-10 rep set.

The “lighter feel” of your 8-10 rep set enables you to do a rep or 2 extra at times when you may have not been able to without the potentiation.

Example:

Week1:

Let’s say you can Squat 275×5.

Try this warm up, 135×5 185×5 225×5 275×3(still a warm up) 90 second rests

Five and dime sets after warm up, these would be approximations 2 minute rests

round 1 285×3(not to failure set), 2 minute rest, 225×8-10, 3 minute rest before round 2

round 2 290-295×3, 2 minute rest 230-235×8-10. Round 2 is close to failure.

Week 2: Schedule the same scheme but aim to add 2 to not more than 5 pounds to each set

Week 3: Same but aim to add 1-2 pounds to each set

Week 4: If you have been training to failure each week you will be peaking soon and may be stuck already. If you have been microloading you will be good to go for another 8-10 weeks. Continue 1-2 pounds additions for the next 8-10 weeks.

Simple linear periodization is best for most beginning intermediate and sometimes advanced athletes.

This can be applied to many big compound moves.

 

 

 

2020-04-23 15.19.29One of the most common shared traits among successful people through the years that I have read about is a morning routine or ritual. It clears the brain and prepares the thought process for optimal functioning. Here is my routine that has evolved over the last several years.

Hopefully wake up.

Coffee has been brewing on a timer and is ready for me. I fill it up, heat it some more and feel the heat of the mug. I take a sip and relish the taste and smell. I feel fortunate to be so spoiled with coffee waiting for me.

Min 0-5. I journal. I write down 3 things I am thankful for. Some mornings the mood is not so great but I go ahead and do it anyways. Next I write down 3 things that would make the day great. Next I write down my mission statement for the day or mantra. My favorite is “strong like water mind like a lion”. Water can flow around effortlessly to accomplish or move and lift anything to accomplish. A lion’s mind is focused like a laser and random thoughts do not occupy his attention. Singularly, effortlessly focused.

Min 5-15. I meditate. Not chanting mantras with incense and levitation but just focusing on the breath. There really should not be a goal but when one realizes that stress and perception are not out there but come from within it feels like mission accomplished. Mind goes clear and optimal.

Min 15-60 or 90. I learn. Usually random but it ranges from learning new languages on Duolingo to Ted talks to Khan academy to learning geography on google earth to relativity on minute physics to name just a few.

This has really improved my concentration and ability to focus. If left unchecked I end up with so many ideas and thoughts I become very busy but not effective.

Just a mindful thought.