Thursday, 4 October 2012

New Training Log: Day 3

Well it's official...

Very easy to think your fitness level is at a high level and then jump into a new scenario and feel completely out of shape. Taking a new approach to recovery which at this point has my body feeling more sore than ever but eventually it should respond well. Going to be a staple in my program about 2-3x a week for recovery.

10 x 25-50m Swim Sprints

5 Mins Active Recovery Tread

Foam Role (15 mins)

Tomorrow will be a good front squat day.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

New Training Log: Day 2

Pre-Midterm Early Morning Lift (6am)

Hip Mobility Drills (x 5 mins) 
Dynamic Warm Up (x 5 mins) 
1000m Active Recovery Row (Felt a little stiff from the day before) 
T-Spine Work (x 2 Mins) 
Box Jumps (6 x 1 @ 50 inch) 


1) Narrow Olympic Squats 3 x 5 @ 280 

Basically a form check for today-felt great & fast. Mobility work has been KEY! 

2) Trap Bar Deadlifts (Low Handles) 6 x 2 @ 440 

3) Goodmornings 3 x 8 

4) Single Leg Hip Trusts 3 x 8 

Little Bit of Structural Fun: 

Handstand Practice 4 x 15 seconds 

HSPU 4 x 10 

L-Sit x 3 max time 

(Foam Role & Lacrosse Ball Tissue Work) 

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

New Training Log

I received an email earlier today asking if I could start posting some of what my training looks like, so I will give it a shot and stay up to date with the online log. Since this is a new month and the body is completely healed, I thought it would be fitting to set some new goals. Performance wise and body comp wise. I will be trying to add on a lot of lean muscle before heading over to Utah so the training & the dieting will be quite heavy. I am following almost to a T a program Paul Oneid has made for me. Sometimes need to love it but also need to hate it. I have added in a couple things just to kick my own ass but basically Paul has done a great job at that and helping me to get to where I need to be. I have taken a before picture & will have an after picture once my training cycles turn over in December. Potentially video tape a couple of my movements a week to show some of the work-still not where I want it to be yet.


Shoulder Mobility Drills x 5 mins

T-Spine Extensions x 2 mins

Scapular Depression Push Ups 2 x 20

Lacrosse Ball Tissue Work (Scapula, Pec Minor, Ant/Post Delt)

Band Pull Aparts & Int/Ext Rotations

Coming off a minor shoulder injury so the warmup was quite extensive but nothing new-also loving a lot of the mobility work Kelly Starrett is throwing up on Mobility Wod-check it out. Workout wasn't too crazy today but good none the less


1) 5 x 2 Bench Press @ 255 (Pause on chest-narrower grip than normal)

2) 4 x 15 Pull Ups (Different Grips)

3) Dumbbell Floor Press 4 x 12 @ 85

4) JM Press 4 x 6 @ 140 & Dumbbell Rows 4 x 10 @ 100lbs

5) Barbell Complex: 5 rounds (10 strict OH Presses, 10 Dead stop Rows, 10 High Pulls) 1 min rest between
@ 135

50 band pull downs
50 band pull aparts
50 face pulls

Foam Role & Lacrosse Ball Recovery (12 mins)

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Overhead pressing & athletes

*Please take into account this does not account for powerlifters, olympic lifters, bodybuilders and overhead throwing athletes (javelin, shot put, discuss etc.)*

When programming for a certain sport or certain athlete, a strength coach must first analyze the primary mobilization techniques and directional techniques that the athlete uses in the sport.

  •  What type of running does the sport/position favour? (linear vs choppy with a lot of changes in direction. Sprint Duration & Type etc..)
  • Does the sport and/or position rely heavily on power, strength, aerobic endurance, absolute speed etc... 
  • Contact vs. No Contact 
  • Repetitive motions leading to injury prone athletes (ie. excessive and constant swings in volleyball and high forces hit into the arms while in an overhead position off blocks) 
  • The list can go on and on.... The point being that as a strength and conditioning coach you look at the plane and axis of action the athlete deals with most, the types of forces and stresses placed upon their body. Ultimately you implement exercises which help increase and maintain strength, allow the athlete to be functional and mobile in their sport, and most importantly-allow the athlete to be injury free.
        With all of this being said, if an athlete is injured, they cannot perform. Shoulder injuries are one of the most prevalent injuries in sport and are often easily re-irritated, career altering or career ending. 

       The problem arises due to tightness and lack of mobility in the shoulders, lack of mobility along the posterior chain and poor anatomical composition. Firstly, I would like to stress that the problem stems from pronated maximal overhead presses (80+% of 1RM). 

Before diving into the reasons that the overhead press becomes a problem for athletes, we should dive into the anatomy of the shoulder joint in order to fully understand the implications. 

The glenohumeral (shoulder) joint: 

  • Classification: triaxial, ball and socket 
  • Movement: flexion and extension, abduction and adduction, medial and lateral rotation
  • Bone involvement: scapula and humerus 

  • The Glenoid Fossa is very shallow and provides a socket smaller than the head of the humerus. Therefore, the head of the humerus has very little contact with the scapula, making it a very weak but mobile joint (problematic). 
  • The joint capsule is the loosest of all joint capsules and most of the ligaments (except the coracohumeral ligament) are also very weak. 
  • The rotator cuff provides the strength to this joint!! 

Now to stop boring you with the anatomical terms. The reasons why the overhead press is so poorly executed and doing more harm than good for most athletes. 

The pronated max press (regular overhand gripping of the barbell) puts the shoulder in an internally rotated state. From a posture standpoint, the repetitive use of the shoulders while in an internally rotated state will lead you to look like the idiots you see walking around the gym with their shoulders flared forward, chests puffed, arms flexed to the side...not a good look. The shoulders are meant to be retracted! 

    From a sport specific standpoint, most on field sports have no component of overhead pressing. Yet somehow, the overhead military press or dumbbell press remains a mainstay in football programs. Most hits and blocks are made from the horizontal plane which is why the bench press is such a sought after and tested exercise for upper body strength in football.  This is the reason why many football coaches have begun to look at the bench press from a football and shoulder health standpoint. The width of the grip is brought in to mimic hand positioning of a block,  while the scapula are retracted, and elbows are tucked therefore keeping the stress on the shoulders very minimal. 

   The constant overhead pressing drives the humerus up into the acromion with a large amount of force. Concerning for a joint as unstable and weak as the glenohumeral joint? 

Overhead presses also cause impingement of the shoulder joint and the trapezius. The upper fibres of the trapezius insert onto the acromion and therefore the constant force provided by the head of the humerus reduces mobility here. The traps are also supposed to work together to retract the shoulders. This is effected when overhead pressing places stress upon their insertion point. This is problematic for the running stride and arm action, especially in football players and creates a boxy type arm exchange while sprinting. 

Finally, the overhead press also channels injury risk towards the neck and lower back. 
The semispinalus capitus and the splenius muscles are put at risk of injury when one forces the neck to reposition itself very quickly or has a large stress placed upon it. This is why you see so many athletes complain of a "strain" in the neck while overhead pressing and struggling to get that heavy rep or forcing one more rep. 

    This stress of maximal overhead pressing also leads to many break downs in form. The major and most indicative breakdown in posture occurs in the lower back-mainly the lumbar region of the spine. Max effort overhead presses compress the lumbar spine and usually lead to extreme cases of hyperextension through the hips when trying to muscle up the weight. Sometimes it is so bad that it almost looks like an extreme form of lordosis throughout the lumbar region (excessive curvature of the lower back).  Look at the videos below to see what I am talking about. 

For myself, my coaching is heavily based on football players. With the bench press being such a highly tested and admired feat in the football community, the overhead press provides quite a problem. Implementing this into programming would negate the possibility of achieving my desired 3-1 pull to press ratio and also place a lot of stress on the shoulders of the guys already added by practice, benching and games. 

If you feel you MUST overhead press, take the following into account: 
  • external rotation of the humerus takes stress off the rotator cuff. Therefore forearm supination allows the rotator cuff room to properly move. For this, a neutral grip essentially forces the forearm into supination. 
  • Neutral grip dumbbell presses, log presses with a neutral grip, football bar presses can be used for overhead movements (keep shoulder from being internally rotated). 
  • Mobility work would be needed heavily to ensure shoulder health. 
  • Overhead press at a sub maximal rate (you will never lift 350 lbs over your head in a game) 
  • Bring your head through your arms at the top range of the press
  • And finally use a split stance to avoid excessive backwards lean (alleviating the pressure in the lumbar spine) 

Key Shoulder Building and Shoulder Strengthening Exercises: 

  • Body Weight Exercises (Incline/Decline Push Ups, Supinated Pull Ups, Hand Stand Push Ups, Ring Rows, TRX Rows/Flys) 
  • Plate Series (Front Raises, Side Raises) 
  • Seated DB Power Cleans 
  • Incline Neutral Grip DB Presses (Single, Alternating, Double) 
  • Fat Grip Work 
  • Band Pull Aparts 
  • Cable Presses 
  • Eccentric Body Weight Exercises 
And finally if you must overhead press with a pronated grip: 

  • Push Press 
  • Split Jerk 
  • Power Jerk 


Saturday, 4 February 2012

Training Experiences

To this point in my life I have gone through about every phase of fitness that one could possibly do...
-Olympic Lifting
-And even Crossfit...

This morning I got my first taste into the world of powerlifting and was again humbled by the fact that no matter how athletic you are, each domain has its own set of characteristics and techniques that totally defeat your body physically and mentally. I got the opportunity to train with long time friend and assistant strength coach at Robert Morris University, Paul Oneid. Paul is an avid powerlifter and beyond knowledgable strength coach. Today I was the trainee and Paul played trainer. This really set me back and made me think of a few things.

For those interested in strength & conditioning as a career, no matter how many books you read and no matter how much theory and terminology you can memorize, you will NEVER be useful to your athletes  if you do not have hands on experience in the weight room. Your athletes will never respect you if you have never been under a heavy bar before, if they never see you in the weight room grinding it out and if  they see you training in a way that contradicts everything you've ever told them. This is why a practical setting is perfect for learning and bettering yourself as a strength coach. You can throw facts and stats at your athletes but they do not give a shit-nor do they want to relive your physiology and anatomy classes. SHOW THEM. Demonstrate, and work with them.

This morning was a great time to learn new movements, new techniques and apply them practically to my own training and to bettering my athletes-so I thank Paul for that.

Secondly, after finishing our workout we began discussing the time commitments and focus we both put into strength and conditioning as well as school. Paul has numerous 16+ hour days on campus starting at 5:45am every morning on top of dual masters degrees, one of which he is currently finishing. In my case, juggling 25+ hours of class a week, the University football program and currently assisting in CFL combine preparation leading to days ranging from 6:45am-8pm. Along with the TWM company that takes an enormous amount of time and precedent in my life. This then started a debate with some football players who argued that we should be compensated for this with Paul quoting that until you have something to offer someone, you are not worth a thing. He had interned for two and a half years before being compensated.  It was then brought up that the second you think you know so much you don't need to learn, you're not of value to anyone. This point is extremely valid and humbling to hear from someone with as many certifications, experience and two masters degrees in the area. "I still don't know shit!"-the truth is you are constantly learning and striving to be the best you can for your athletes because the truth is I do not care what anyone else does with their guys, but mine will never suffer the misfortune of being led astray due to laziness and lack of knowledge, passion and wanting to see them succeed.

To check out Paul's training blog visit -Insane numbers

Great day of training-looking forward to working with some of my athletes back home prepping them for an upcoming combine event and also seeing our Queen's University CFL combine athletes kill it in a month.

Big things coming-visit the website.


Sunday, 29 January 2012

Treat Your Athletes Like Family

Attention:  Refer to the video above and we will probably not have an issue. This post is mainly for my athletes and the people that doubt them and I apologize in advance for any informal comments and those taken out of context.

Treat your athletes like family

These "clients" invest a lot of time and money, work their asses off day in and day out, and place a huge amount of trust in me with the expectation that not only am I educated and experienced enough to help them to succeed but that I am constantly pushing the envelop through research, experimentation, studying, attending seminars and lectures-whatever it takes to set them apart from other athletes.

After my immediate family, these guys are the next closest thing. On average I spend upwards of 3-4 hours a day being away at school discussing programs & training online with my guys-adapting, changing and producing the best programs I can to get these guys to the next level in personal performance. While home for the summer I spend upwards of 6-10 hours a day surrounded by them. These are the people who understand what is it to train like an athlete, these are the guys who don't quit when things are a little rough, and these are the guys that trusted me enough to be where I'm at today. This is the exact reason why each of them is like a brother to me and the reason that I'd do anything to help these guys out-athletically & even academically at times. All sentimental remarks aside, it really upsets me when people talk down to them or talk negatively about them.

You don't know as much as you think... 

Not only does most of the criticism come through some form of social networking portal, it also comes from those individuals who are A) Not a strength and conditioning coach. B) Never played at a high level in any athletic domain ever C) Read lots of Mens Health, Muscle Magazines and other forms of "academic research" that makes you seem even more pathetic than your comments towards my athletes and D) Terribly out of shape but somehow still the loudest, and obnoxious person in the gym who drinks out of supplement containers, preforms 3-5 lifts routinely because anything athletic would be a chore, and finally would preform at the bottom of the class in any high school fitness test involving running, push ups and pull ups.

Everyone starts somewhere, and I am a firm believer that whatever it is you are passionate about-stick to it. If you want to be a personal trainer who focuses on improving general health and physical fitness-do it. If you want to be a powerlifting coach-do it. If you want to be a strength and conditioning coach for serious athletes-do it. Etc...Etc.... Each domain has its differences and each is unique. But when you don't fit into any of those categories, do not talk poorly about my athletes or fill their heads with BS, and frankly, stop misleading your own "clients". If anything, my athletes are educated enough through constantly asking questions, researching themselves and buying into the program so much that they ask for scholarly resources weekly, that they could probably train you.

As a young athlete I bought into so many stupid training routines and concepts because I trusted the person who I heard it from. At a young age you buy into any program that guarantees that you'll get bigger & stronger. The truth is, when you take this advice from some idiot who cannot even make it through basic bodyweight movements and control his own body freely through various ranges of motion, and who's soul claim to fame is a 315lbs bench press and 405've been sadly misinformed on so many levels and are only setting yourself back further and further. The type of training these individuals are prescribing will lead to postural problems, serious loss in range of motion and mobility, overtraining and burnout and muscular imbalances leading to improper running and jumping techniques.

You gain your clients respect once they see results
You gain their trust through going through gruelling workouts with them to show them that you care
You wake up early and go to bed late so that they have the best programs possible
You yourself train athletically, showing that you believe in your programs enough to do them.
And so on and so on....

And for those of you who have been talking about my can gain my respect once you have multiple clients, starters in the CIS, a couple national championships in the group, many high school championships, numerous MVP awards, East West Bowl Attendees, CFL & NHL hopefuls and actually stop setting back athletes who believe you know something more than you actually do.


Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Myth: Women Who Strength Train Will Get Big

Question: I am a 17 year old gymnast who is beginning to look at the possibility of NCAA offers and progressing my training far beyond what I have done up until this point. I have been following a lot of bodyweight routines and feel as if strength training would help me but I am afraid of the bulky look. Do you have any tips of how to not gain that size? 

Anna-Texas USA. 

TWM Response:

It is great to see that you are trying to take your training seriously and it is a very common question that I get asked by many females. I would like to address a few things on this subject so I hope this helps out.

Myths behind women who strength train

More commonly for women, the amount of weight you choose does not correlate to muscle bulk and will not effect you the same way it does for men. Repetitions are the cause of this and transfer to the training effect you will see. Lifting heavy has many transferable athletic attributes and also improves stress management, quality of life and overall athleticism.

Hypertrophy (training to build muscle at a high rep range to promote growth) in women is dependant on a few things:

1.Heredity (the percentage of fast twitch vs. slow twitch muscle fibres that you are genetically predisposed to and have developed throughout training). The more fast twitch muscle fibres you are predisposed to the greater the likelihood of hypertrophic potential. This is generally and easily noticeable in world class sprinters who have the right build to preform at such a high level-we will address this below.

2.Body Type- Their are three types of body types. Mesomorphic, Endomorphic and Ectomorphic.
Mesomorphs have a greater potential to build muscle due to genetic makeup of the frame and muscle fibre type. See image below to refer to your body type.

3. Type of Diet- During hypertrophy training (for males AND females) a high protein intake in necessary for muscle growth. The average athlete does not take in quality protein in solid form and therefore over trains the body and does not supply it with a good enough fuel source to see any benefits yet alone achieve an anabolic state of growth. 

4. Level of Adrenal Secretion (Testosterone)- This one is simple. Women who naturally produce more testosterone will be able to build muscle at a greater rate than those who do not. This is very genetically based and therefore does not effect most females the way it does for some elite athletes who have been "gifted" with this ability to produce the hormone necessary for adequate muscular growth. 

5. Birth Control Use- Birth control increases natural testosterone. Studies have shown this MAY provide a training/recovery advantage due to the increase in T-Levels being secreted. 

Repetitions, intensity, time and rest between sets and the energy system targeted for your specific sport are generally the indicators of whether you will be training in a hypertrophic state. 

So to get away from the scientific basis-women who train will not only see athletic benefits-but do not need to worry about gaining "bulk" or being too muscular. Train to be an athlete, train smart and see the health benefits that come along with it. 

Whether you are an athlete or just want to be in shape-strength training for females has countless benefits and is generally misinterpreted by most. Eat properly, train properly and let the work get you that scholarship Anna. If you/anyone else needs more information just send another email and I will send a couple research papers and sources that will thoroughly prove what I stated.