Friday, June 29, 2007

Squat stance and sports

When squatting I read you shouldn't have too wide of a stance if you are training for sports like football, basketball, etc.

I prefer the wide stance. Not too wide, maybe a little wider than shoulder width apart. Is this going to make that much of a difference?

Depends on who you ask, really.

Some will say that squatting with a wide stance is not 'sport-specific.' They may have a point to a certain extent. Most people opt to squat in a stance that closely resembles their athletic position. The athletic position is one in which the feet are about hip- to shoulder-width apart. Some coaches will say that squatting in that stance will strengthen your hips in that stance, allowing you to be stronger and more explosive in that position.

I don't disagree with that statement. However, I am more of the mind that what we do in the gym is "general" work. We are hoping that what we do in the gym can transfer over to what we do on the field or the court and ultimately make us a better athlete. The skill transfer is not that simple though. It isn't always as easy as saying "squat in your athletic stance and you will become more athletic." In reality, we get strong in the gym. We then go out on the field and practice our sport and develop our sport-specific skills with the newly aquired strength that we have gained from our training program.

I personally don't like a super-wide stance (like some powerlifters may use) because it trashes the heck out of my hips. It doesn't sound like your stance is that wide at all though. Slightly wider than shoulder width isn't too wide. Using a few different stances may also help to strengthen different stabilizers in the hip, as well as help to keep the squatting movement fresh and give you some variety in your training program.

I don't typically write wide-stance squats in my program. I usually let the athlete figure out where they are most comfortable and then we go from there (unless it is something that stands out to me as dangerous or potentially harmful). For most athletes though, I do find that they are most comfortable squatting in a stance that is closer to their athletic stance.

Hope that helps,


Thursday, June 28, 2007

What's with the Supersets?

Hi Patrick, I just wanted to say that I am really enjoying your blog. I have gotten some good info from it to apply to my athletes. I was wondering about some of the program examples you write. In them, you typically have a number follwed by a letter; like 1a) and then 1b) or 2a) and 2b). I was wondering if that meant that those exercises are a superset? If that is what it means, what is the point of having them in your program? Don't you want your athletes to get a full amount of rest inbetween each set?

Thanks again,


Hi Mark. Thanks for writing in. I appreciate the comments and feedback, and I'm glad that you are able to take something from my blog and use it in your every-day programs.

About your question....

Yes, the numbers denote which exercise we are on in the workout and the letters denote a superset or sometimes a tri-set (ex. 1a, 1b, 1c)

As far as why I have them in the program...

Short/cop-out answer: It depends.

Longer answer:

There are a couple of reasons why I use the supersets.

1) Saves time. If we can pair up an upper body movement and a lower body movement, we can save some time in the gym. Remember, we don't always have a lot of time to get everything in. So we have to focus on being efficient. Also, if I let the athletes (especially high school athletes) do an exercise and then rest as long as they want, it leaves a lot of time for them to sit there and chit chat, horse around and lose total focus. The super sets help to make the workout flow.

2) I am trying to raise work capacity. Lets face it, most of these kids are just downright out of shape! They have a terrible work capacity. That is something I am really trying to bring up. By pairing the exercises, I really get them moving and working at a higher work rate than if I let them do a set and then sit there.

3) These are not powerlifters or olympic lifters. If they were, I would do things a little differently. These athletes need to be strong, powerfull, fast, explosive and again, have a higher work capacity. I know, if you crack open any training book (the NSCA book or other personal training books), it will tell you that strength work needs to have a 3-5min. rest interval, etc...I agree, you do! But, how much max effort strength work are we doing? We really aren't working on limit strength (1-3 reps), as much as we are working on the ability to perform at a certain work rate and repeat our effort multiple times. So, even if we are doing say 5 sets of 3 reps on something like the squat, paired with the chin up, we might be working with a weight that is around a 5-6RM load, in order to maintain that work rate over all 5 sets. It isn't 5 sets of 3RMs. Always look at the context in which you are trying to do things. Also, if you have the athletes working in groups, they will be resting while they are spotting their training partner. I am not standing over them and hounding them either. I will give them time to re-group if they need to. And, if we are working particularly hard, with high intensity, I will place rest intervals in between the pairings. For example:

1a) Squat

rest 60sec

1b) pull up

rest 60sec

4) Now, I will say that I don't always do things like this. Training is phasic, and within those phases, you may be trying to enhance certain qualities. For example, in a general adaptation phase, we might have more exercise pairings to work on developing work capacity. In a strength phase, I may have a main lift on a day that we are trying to develop and then the other exercises may be performed as accesory work. That main lift is performed by itself with adequate rest to help develop the strength quality. The other lifts may be paired up (or sometimes, you may have them stand alone). Here is an example:

1) deadlift- 5 sets x 3 reps; Rest= full recovery

2a) DB bench press- 3x6-8

rest= 60sec

2b) seated cable row- 3x6-8

rest= 60sec

3a) walking lunges- 2-3x10 steps on each leg
3b) Db hammer curl- 2-3x10 reps

rest 30sec and repeat number 3

Like I said, the supersets or tri-sets are just one way to keep things moving in the weight room and help your program be as efficient as possible. You certainly don't need to do things like this. It is just one technique in an arsenal of many.



Sunday, June 24, 2007

Selfish Coaches: The Downfall of Youth Athletes

I try to keep this blog as positive as I can and just give out information to anyone interested. But I'm sorry, when I see crap like that, it really pisses me off!

This kind of nonsense goes on in high school weightrooms all over the country, and it needs to stop! It would not suprise me if this team's coach is bragging to other coaches about how he has a kid that hang cleans 305lbs. It also does not suprise me that if you read the comments to the video, the kid claims that the coach told him he has "good form." Obviously, that coach should be fired. It is preposterous that an athletic director actually put him in charge of youth athletes. and he runs a program this dangerously.

And that brings me to the topic of the day, selfish coaches. I see this way too often, and it is both dangerous and wrong. Selfish coaches want to be able to stand there and say "Look what I did! Look at the kid that I developed." They want to take all the credit, rush the kid through and try to develop him into a "stud" within the first 12 weeks of training. The funny thing is, for every "stud", they fail to recognize the 50 or 60 other kids who got injured or fell by the way-side using their half assed, shotgun approach.

One of the area high schools here in Phoenix has hired a strength coach to work exclusively with the football team. This coach seems to be very uneducated on topics such as program design, exercise prescription, teaching exercise technique, nutrition, and how youth athletes develop. The best part about it is that there is a coach on the team who also likes to do strength and conditioning with the football players, and takes a few of them to a local gym to train 4 times a week. He is equally as stupid as the first coach and equally as selfish. Both of these guys want to be "THE GUY." They don't care about developing athletes over a 4 year period. They only care about saying that the guys they are working with are stronger.

This leads to some terrible technique in practically every exercise. I have seen bench pressess bounced off the chest with reckless abandon, scary posture on squats, terrible hang clean form and some strange exercises that seem to be made up and don't look safe at all. The other crazy thing is that the kids are forced, by the head coach, to train at school with coach A. So, they train there, a very intense workout, and then the ones that want to, go to the gym with coach B and do another workout. Back to back! These kids are overtrained, overworked and not properly coached at all. All these guys care about is saying that they developed a powerhouse athlete. They don't care about the athlete. They care about themselves! Needless to say, I think both of them are pieces of shit.

Another great example of this is the olympic weightlifting coach who is always looking for his "junior national champion." He couldn't care less about the other kids who have gotten hurt or haven't progressed to their fullest potential (because of his lack of understanding in program design and development). All he cares about is finding one kid to put his name on. One kid to brag about to other coaches. One kid that he can stand there and say "Look what I did!" His "only the strong survive" type of training program is just destroying other kids in the process, but it doesn't matter! As long as one of those kids can endure it and come out on top, that is all HE cares about.

It's just so sad. Sad that these guys only care about themselves and sad that so many other athletes may never be able to realize their true potential because their coaches were morons.

Tip of the day: HEY GUYS! IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU!

It is about the athletes. It is about being a good coach and developing athletes over extended periods of time. Stop trying to create Hercules in 10 weeks and start thinking about a long-term plan.

I wish coaches like this would wake up.

Aggravated on a Sunday,


Thursday, June 21, 2007

In season training

When it gets to the in season, I always struggle to figure out where and how to fit everything in, since we have only so much time in the weight room due to practice and competition. How am I supposed to fit in speed, agility, plyos, strength work, core work and conditioning in the small amount of time that we have?

This is a great question! A lot of high school strength and conditioning coaches have trouble programming when the competitive season roles around.

There are a couple of things you need to consider when looking at your program as you prepare to enter the season:

1) What are the athletes doing in practice?

Chances are they are already doing conditioning, speed and agility during practice. If they are in a jumping sport, such as basketball or volleyball, they are already doing lots of jumping (plyometrics) in practice as well. So, you can back off of those components in your training program because they are already taken care of. You don't want to overload the athletes.

2) How much time do you have to devote to the weight room?

Practice and competition takes precedent over everything else when you are in season. I typically don't advocate lifting more than three times a week during the season, and in most cases twice is fine (note, this is for every day players. The guys who are back ups and not starters may have a more aggressive training program). You want to be efficient, get in and get out.

The main goal of the in season is to keep our athletes healthly (prevent injury) and keep them progressing (never maintain; always move forward). For the inseason, I prefer to use a concurrent training program over a linear program. The reason being is because a linear program has great benefit if you are trying to peak for one single event. However, athletes in most sports have to be on top of their game for an entire season (many events) and they need to develop several qualities (strength, power, and muscluar endurance). The concurrent training program that we use in season, focuses on these three qualities (also know as max effort, dynamic effort and repetitive effort) all in one day. Keep the workouts brief and make sure the athletes are recovering. I would arrange it like this:

1) Dynamic effort exercise (power)
2) max effort exercise (strength)
3) repetitive exercise (muscular endurance)
4) remedial work
5) core

Here is an example:

Day 1
Warm up
1) Power Clean and Jerk- 6x2, 4x4, 5x3, any of those variations
2) Bench press- 3x3, 3x5, work up to a 3RM, work up to a 5RM, etc. any of those choices
3a) 1-leg/2-arm DB RDL- 2-3x8-10
3b) one arm db row- 3x8-10
4) remedial shoulder work (YWA's, exteral rotations, etc.)
5) core work

Day 2
warm up
1) medicine ball chest pass- 3 sets x 8-12sec max reps
2) back squat- 3x3, 3x5, work up to a 3RM, work up to a 5RM, etc...any of those choices
3a) Db alternating incline press- 2-3x8-10
3b) seated cable row- 2-3x8-10
4) remedial shoulder work
5) core work

Day 3
warm up
1) DB snatch- 6x2, 4x4, 5x3, any of those variations
2) pull up variation- 3x3, 3x5, work up to a 3RM, work up to a 5RM, etc...any of those choices
3a) Lunges- 2-3x8-10
3b) push up variation (blas straps, push up w/rotation, alligator push ups)- 2-3 x whatever you can do
4) remedial shoulder work
5) core work

Hope that gives you some ideas to play with. Let me know how it works.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Push/Pull and the overhead athlete...

Okay, so I have had some questions regarding pushing and pulling movements in the upper body and, how they potentially effect the overhead athlete. So, lets investigate.

People always say that if you push more than you pull, you may end up with shoulder problems. Does this work the same way if I pull more than I push? Can I still be potentially creating a movement impairment? I am a baseball player and I was wondering about this since the shoulder is a big area of concern when it comes to injury.

This is a great question. I do agree that if we push more than we pull, we can be potentially setting ouselves up for some shoulder and postural issues (IE, the guy who bench presses all the time, has his shoulders rounded forward and his knuckles dragging on the ground like cro-magnon man). Also, we lead extremely anterior lives. We sit a lot all day (well most of us) and we type on a computer. All of these positions of daily living place us in a difficult position when it comes to postural patterns. Remember, our posture (spine) has lots of plasticity. It will mold itself to the posture that we maintain daily. If this posture happens to be sitting at a desk and hunched over a computer, then you may be in trouble.

Now, to answer your question about pulling more than pushing. No, I don't think there is going to be as much of (if any) issue with doing a higher ratio of pulling movements to pushing movements in your weekly training program. I am basing my belief on two principles:

a) As stated above we live in a very anterior world, so the extra pulling will help to balance out what we do all day.


b) Extra pulling leads to extra strength in the muscles that support the scapula. This helps build scapular stability, which in turn helps to stabilize the humerus within the joint during functional movement.

Now, how does this apply to you as a baseball player (or any overhead athlete really)?

First things first, in order to get your hands overhead properly (and safely) a lot of things have to happen (recall my blog entry entitled "getting there is not important has how you got there" referring to joint mobility and exercise range of motion). If you DO have a potural problem, lets say excessively rounded upper back (kyphosis), getting your hands up overhead in a safe manner is going to be difficult, as the scapula will not be moving properly (and wont be efficiently stabilized) in order to complete the task. This allows the hummerus to migrate anteriorly and superiorly (pressing up into the subacromial space) because we lack the control needed to properly stabilize it (exert a downward pull). This can lead to what is termed "impingement syndrome."

This lack of humoral control and the impingement which follows will lead typical gym go'ers to just throw in some extrenal rotation exercises. They then keep on going with their same old training routine. While some external rotation exercises are great, the problem is that things like 'weak external rotators' or 'shoulder impingement' are not isolated events. There is a reason why this has happened. Part of it may be poor postural control (IE kyphosis, aneterior tilt to the scapula, winging of the scapula, etc) and some of it is related to having weak scapular stabilizers (lower/mid trapezius muscles, rhomboids, serratus). So, instead of just throwing in some external rotation work (which is helpful, don't get me wrong), you need to look further than that and get to the bottom of the issue.

Working on scapular stabilizer strength, thoracic spine mobility and shoulder flexbility can be very beneficial to the overhead athlete as it helps the strengthen supporting structures of the shoulder joint, which in overhead sports is open to a variety of injuries.

SO, long story short...No, I do not think that extra pulling (or scapular stabilizer work...which I call remedial shoulder work in my programs) is a bad thing for you to do (especailly as an overhead athlete).


Sharkey NA, Marder RA, The rotator cuff opposes superior translation of the humeral head., Am J Sports Med. 1995 May-Jun;23(3):270-5.

Neumann, Donald A., Kineseology of the Musculoskeletal System: Foundations for Physical Rehabilitation, Mosby, 2002.

Hope that helps,


Monday, June 11, 2007

If you are going to do it......


People kill me. I was reading the forum of a pretty well known, and sometimes 'controversial', nutrition guru. A woman was on his site asking why his program was not working for her. The only problem was that this person was not at the proper level of fitness to be following this program. The author clearly made the statement in the beginning of the book that "this type of diet should be done for those with "x" amount of bodyfat." The women posting the question was saying how she was higher than "x" amount of bodyfat but felt that she could do the diet anyway. She then proceeded to go through the things that she changed with the diet and training.

Here is a little tip...If you change something, you are no longer doing the intended program and you are not allowed to complain when you don't get the results you seek.

I get this all the time. I will help someone with their diet. They will come back to me 5 days later and say "well, I changed this, this and that around a little bit." Okay, well that isn't what I told you to do! So why do you think it isn't working?

Training is no different. I give someone a program. They go to carry it out, but they decide to change the training around a little bit. Well, that is not the program I wrote anymore. So it is not going to work the same way.

So, if you are going to do it....DO IT RIGHT!

Maybe I will talk more about training programs tomorrow and less about general stuff...or maybe not.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Hypertrophy training........

would you mind posting some more for those seeking more of a BBing type of regime?

I have always found that for hypertrophy training, bodybuilders tend to rely to much on, and sometimes only, higher rep range work (10-12). That falls in line with what would be termed "hypertrophy rep range", about 8-12 reps.

I think that those seeking hypertrophy need to have a plan, just like an athlete would, focusing on phases or hypetrophy work (structural changes) and strength work (neurological changes). The strength work will help the individual lift more weight (get stronger) and in turn be able to handle great loads when they are in their hypetrophy phase. As well, what is the point of having all that muscle if you don't have the nerological connection to use it?

A program lay out may look something like this:

weeks 1-4: hypertrophy training (extensive training, or higher volume)
weeks 5-6(7): strength training (intensive training. or high intensity/low volume)
weeks 7-8(9): combination of strength and hypertrophy training

For weeks 1-4, in order to get the proper amount of volume, I would use a split along the lines of:




In the strength phase, back off the volume and work at higher intensities. For this, I may use something like:

upper horizontal
upper vertical


total body workouts 3x's a week with low volume and high intensity work.

Then, the last phase, you combine both the strength and hypertrophy work. This could be done again with a total body workout, upper/lower workouts as above or even something like:

upper (strength)
Lower (strength)
total body (hypertrophy)
total body (hypertrophy

From there, all you need to do is plug in exercises and the desired rep ranges of the qualities you are trying to seek. In the hypertrophy phase, I also like to use things like slower negatives and sometmies isometric holds on each rep to help increase TUT and build strength in connective tissue, before moving into more intensive training.

Hope that helps. Good luck with your physique goals.


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Response to last nights post on training variables

Good blog post P. Lately I have been moving toward doing stuff in the same workout. I have done stuff other ways too, but I definitely enjoy this method so you can focus your strength work on a couple of movements and really try to get those numbers up.

This was a great reply. The funny thing is that I was going to talk about this anyway, so the reply came at a good time. Also, the fact that the reply came from a guy who is a really smart trainer means that we were thinking on the same page.....which is always nice (although it is also good to have disagreements as well).

I too have found that doing everying in one rep range for an entire workout can be really brutal. For example, if it were a 4x4 day, I always just felt really drained by the end of the workout and to top it off, aside from my first two exercises in the workout, it was really tough to keep that intensity up for everything. Neurologically, I was just beat to hell after that first exercises.

Right now, I lean more towards having one (sometimes two) movements as 'priority' movements for that day, leaving the other stuff as 'accessory' work (rep range work) and then prioritizing it on a different day.

Here would be an example of what I am talking about:

Day 1
Bench press- 4x4
chin up- 3x8
Squat- 3x10

Day 2
row- 4x4
lunge- 3x8
Db incline press- 3x10

Day 3
deadlift- 4x4
BB overhead press- 3x8
pull up- 3x10

Of course there are a ton of ways you could do this. That is just one example.


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Balancing the variables when trying to drop body fat

The question always arises....."If I want to lose weight, should I do high reps and light weight?"

When looking at the resistance training portion of your program, in the dieting phase, it is important to balance both the strength work and the metabolic work. The strength work helps you maintain strength, obviously, and hopefully even gain it. Aside from that, the strength work will hopefully help you maintain some muscle mass while in a caloric deficit. We have our muscles on a "use them or lose them" basis. If we don't do something to stimulate them, then they aren't going to hang around. The metabolic work helps to get the metabolism cooking. We achieve this through shorter rest intervals and higher rep ranges (I like 10-15). This type of training will help to build up high amounts of lactic acid, which has been shown to be an indicator of increased GH release. This is basically your "bodybuilder" type training.

Combining these two can be done in a number of different ways:

1) Do both types of training in one workout. Lets use our upper body as an example. We will chose to work our horizontal movements with heavier strength work and our vertical movements and arms with higher rep, metabolic work. Our training day may looks something like this:

1) bench press- 4 sets x 4 reps; RI= 2min
2) seated cable row- 4 sets x 4 reps; RI= 2min.
3a) DB shoulder press- 3 x 10-12; RI=30sec
3b) chin up- 3x10-12; RI= 30sec
4a) BB curl- 2x15; RI= 30sec
4b) skull crushers- 2x15; RI= 30sec

2) Use a varied rep scheme for one of our exercises. If we were going to go in and squat today, using this method, our rep scheme may looks like this:

set 1-2= 4 reps
set 3= 8 reps
set 4= 12 reps

3) Work different variables on different days. Using this method, we may chose to create 3 different rep schemes for each of our training days (3 days a week) and have two different workouts. An example would be this:

Day A
1a) Squat
1b) pull up
2a) Db incline press
2b) step up
3a) Db hammer curl
3b) reverse crunches

Day B
1a) BB RDL
1b) bench press
2a) walking lunge
2b) 1-arm DB row
3a) triceps pressdown
3b) cable wood chops

Rep schemes:

mon- 3x5; RI= 2min.
wed- 3x8; RI= 75sec
fri- 2x12; RI= 45sec

These are just a few techniques that I have found to be helpful when trying to get lean. Hopefully you can use some of them to your advantage when planning your next phase of training.


Monday, June 4, 2007

Spliting hairs and other rants for the day.......

People split hairs over the smallest things.....

"should I only eat organic?"

"should i do 5x5 or 10x3 or 3x10 or 4x6?"

"should i get the new and improved BCAAs?"

Are you one of these people?

If you are.....STOP! Chances are you are wasting more time and energy worrying about these small things and you are missing the overal picture.

Set up a sound training program. Eat a healthy diet. Be consistent. I am pretty sure if you do those 3 things and those 3 things only, you will get what you want out of your program. Don't waste time spliting hairs. Use the basics and get it done!



I watched a show yesterday on the learning channel about obesity. It was about the Brookhaven Obesity Clinic in Brooklyn NY.

I was amazed to see how some of these people had let themselves go so much. I mean, what is going on in your head when you get to 300lbs? If it were me, I would be thinking "wow, i really did it this time. i need to lose weight." I guess in these peoples minds they are saying "hmm, i wonder if i can get to 400lbs this year? Maybe even 500lbs if I try hard enough!"

What pissed me off the most was this guy who was +700lbs. The ambulance drivers came to take him to the clinic and he was so heavy that they had a dificult time carrying him down the steps of his brookly brownstone (the steps were icey and it was winter) in his oversized wheel chair. After 30min. they had gotten him down and into the van. They took him to the clinic and they struggled to get him from the stretcher to his new bed. They rolled him and he screamed "OUCH! I have herniated discs! What the hell is wrong with you guys." They just stood there. Had I been there I would have probably yelled "We all now have herniated discs because of your fat ass, so shut the hell up!"

Another thing that was annoying was that some of these people could not move or get out of bed. How did they manage to keep getting fat? Why were their family members buying them crappy food? I would have just fed them healthy food and put them on a diet. If they want to have junk food, they can get up and get it themselves (which they can't do).



The internet can be very annoying. You work so hard in your carrer to study, learn, get advanced degrees, advanced certifications, etc. You can sit there on some websites and work so hard trying to pass along information (free information at that!) and some people will do nothing but argue with you. Even though they have never worked with a person in their lives. Even though they have no clue about what they are talking about. The problem with this is that on the internet, anyone can pose as a "professional" or a "guru". It really sucks. I think I am going to post less information on public forums because of this. I hate taking time out of my day to help people out, only to have some idiot come in and spew their assinine "non-professional" opinion. So, if you want to hear more from me.....check here on my blog page (that is until I start my own forum dumbasses allowed).