Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Where I learned about training: A list of men smarter than I am

Last week an athlete I was working with in the gym asked me where I learned so much about training. [1] I started to respond by telling him that I went to school and received my degree etc. However, I realized that a huge portion of what I use in my programming and my coaching was learned after I graduated or through independent study and research. That is not meant to discount my degree. I think the University of Miami did a great job preparing me for this field but there is simply too much information out there to cover it all in a one year graduate program.

Additionally, a large portion of what I write about on this site is not original. I am not developing any new theories on how the body functions or the best way to train it. My style is simply a combination of bits and pieces of coaches who I have learned from over the years. So today I want to write a post to give thanks to the coaches who have inspired me most. Most of them have never even met me but I feel that given how much of an impact they have on my writing and coaching they deserve at least one post recognizing their work.

Dr. Brian Biagoli -Brian has been my coach and teacher since I was 16 and no one has had a bigger influence on my training than him. I have read work by dozens of coaches but spent more time with Brian than any other coach and for that reason he has shaped my coaching style and how I interact with athletes a lot. He will probably never read this but some of his current students might and they should know they are lucky to have a teacher of his caliber.

Eric Cressey – I discovered coach Cressey years ago while doing a google search for the best strength training loading protocols. I found an article explaining pro’s and con’s of all sorts of variables in training. I proceeded to read every article in his archives. I even had the pleasure of meeting him this summer at the PERFORM BETTER summit in Chicago. Coach Cressey specializes in baseball players but his general training philosophy was a huge part of pushing me away from more bodybuilding style approaches to the more strength and movement based approach that I use today. 

Dean Somerset – This is an author I didn't discover until more recently. He has had a major influence on my views on stretching/mobility training and core stability training [2]. His work also taught me how to train hard through injury. He writes a fantastic, and usually very funny, blog that everyone in the industry should check out. 

Pavel Tsatsouline and Dan John – These two have plenty of differences in their coaching style and specialties but I group them together because I heard of them together, they have collaborated on some works, and because they both teach the same principles. I once thought the kettlebell was little more than a circus trick to amuse bored personal training clients [3] However, I learned the benefits of kettlebell training from reading work by Pavel and Dan John and their principles have shaped my training immensely.

Jim Wendler – Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program is an extremely simple yet effective program for building strength. I have used it for multiple 12 month cycles and it helped me gain the strength required to take on challenging Olympic weightlifting programs. It is a fantastic routine for any beginner to intermediate weightlifter, although I would adjust some of the accessory work a little bit. [4]

Charlie Weingroff -  By far the smartest coach I have ever seen speak. If I am on the fence about attending a seminar and I see his name on the docket I pull out the credit card and sign up. His hands on seminars always have me walking away full of new ideas and questioning the way I had done things up to that point. Not as active online as some of these other names but when he does write it’s fantastic stuff. 

Kelly Starrett- KStar has become a household name in the crossfit community and his work has influenced athletes and coaches in other sports as well. His unique approach to gaining and maintaining mobility has had a huge influence on how I warm up and cool down as well as how I spend my off days. I highly recommend his book, becoming a supple leapord. Check out his site here:

Greg Everett – One of the top Olympic Weightlifting coaches in the US. His work along with that of Glenn Pendlay changed the way I approach my Olympic Lifts. Their work is more for the sport of Olympic weightlifting than general athleticism but as a coach that works with a lot of crossfit athletes being able to increase someone’s clean or snatch is crucial and coach Everett has helped me to do that. If you are interested in learning more about the Olympic lifts I would highly recommend his work

Mike Boyle - I don't read Mike Boyle's writing often, but his ideas are influential not only in my training but in the field of strength and conditioning at large. He is the driving force behind the "joint by joint" theory and one of the biggest proponents of heavy unilateral training. These ideas as well as some of his other philosophy's have been absolute game changers for me and my athletes.

Joel Jamieson – I heard a lot about Joel and his book “Ultimate MMA conditioning” before eventually caving in and buying it. I usually don’t think much of books with shirtless men on the cover. However, marketing shtick aside, this is the best resource I currently have for gaining a comprehensive understanding of energy systems and how they function together. My one complaint with the book would be that it does not provide enough samples for how to apply the principles to sports outside of MMA but that shouldn’t take away from the rest of the information provided. Joel is a step ahead of the rest of the field with regards to conditioning and anyone dealing with a conditioning based sport (all of them except lifting and throwing) would be wise to read his blog and his book.

Gray Cook – I personally didn’t find his book Movement all that helpful, lot of words for relatively simple concepts, but his FMS system is a fantastic way to perform assessments on both weekend warriors and high level athletes

Stuart McGill – when I am pleading with people to stop doing crunches this is the research that I cite most often. It usually shuts people up or leaves them grasping at straws. His work on the spine and proper “core” strengthening has influenced an entire generation of coaches and therapists

This list is a just a sampling of the coaches that have shaped my views on training. Hopefully you find the time to follow some of the links and learn more from these industry leaders[5]. Enjoy

[1] I don't actually know that much, but hopefully I will one day
[2] The two are intimately related and I'm hoping to cover that topic sometime soon
[3] Sadly, this is how most personal trainers are still using this tool
[4] Wendler's simplicity is great but a little too sagittal plane and bilateral dominant for my taste
[5] I just realized there are no women on this list. The lack of women in the training community is disappointing but I would love to feature some good female coaches on this blog as well, so feel free to drop a comment if you feel there's someone good I don't know about

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