10 Lessons I’ve Learned over the last 10 years

If I ran down my complete list of lessons learned during my 10+ years of strength and conditioning, it would be inappropriate for a newsletter. It would also be more like an encyclopedia (do they still print those?)

1. Cool and Good are NOT the same  
There is a huge gray area between cool exercises and good exercises.  Just because a workout uses items commonly found at a construction site, is extremely hard, makes you puke, or makes you sore, does not render effectiveness… If I were to slam my thumb in a car door, it would make my thumb sore. Yet we have this absurd notion that in order for training to be effective you have to train to complete exhaustion.  Yes – conditioning is hard, very hard, and should be, but keep in mind conditioning (drop the term cardio please) is only 1 component of training. Work smarter not harder.  Thank you Mike Boyle.
2. Exercise and Training are NOT the same
Exercise only requires an increase in your heart rate for an extended period of time.  Training needs structure. Training produces a result.  There is no such thing as “randomization” – if a trainer doesn’t have a program for you, walk away. Keeping your body guessing will just keep you guessing why you’re not seeing results.  Have a plan and understand why.
3. Functional training is not an acrobatic act 
Ask a personal trainer to define functional training and 10 different trainers will probably give you 10 different answers.  For instance, sledgehammers are functional; if you swing sledgehammers for a living.  Flipping a tire is functional, if you have a blowout while driving your tractor – queue Kenny Chesney. Squatting while standing on a physio-ball is just not smart. Let me clarify – the definition of functional training is training with a purpose to support or enhance day-to-day functions. Mic drop, exit stage left.
4. Olympic style weight lifting should not be taught in gym class
Do you remember high school gym classes? 35 teenagers looking to socialize as much as possible. Pickle-ball anyone? The Olympic lifts, clean and snatch, when used correctly, are about as much bang for your buck as it gets for developing athleticism, power and speed. The problem is, they are also the hardest, most technical, most coaching-intensive lift you will ever learn.  Going back to your high school gym class, was anyone really in the mindset to learn such a complex skill? My advice, play more pickle-ball in gym.
5. Physics explains performance
Physics explains movement – especially athletic movements.  It explains how athletes and adults use the application and dispersion of forces to produce results.  For an athlete, this means speed, agility and vertical jump.  For an adult, this can be as simple as getting up and down off the couch.  
6.  Crossfit is an extreme sport 

The idea of some using Crossfit as a means to improve your health and fitness level is about the same as using a BMX track to learn how to ride a bike.  ‘nuff said. If you’re still not convinced, re-read #1.
7.  There are alternatives to back squats 
The squat pattern is important – very important – it’s a great display of mobility and stability working together to create a total body movement.  But it’s not a good idea to squat with a maximal compression load on the spine. Experiment with alternative approaches – your lower back will thank you in your 40’s.
8.   Kids should play as many sports as possible for as long as possible
Early specialization is a topic of growing debate.  How young should a child be when dedicate their entire life to a single sport? Contrary to popular belief, it is IMPOSSIBLE to determine how good of an athlete your child is before they hit puberty. My best advice, let them play every sport until they figure it out – you could have the next Pele.  Not onboard yet? Read these –
Article 1 on early specialization in youth sports
Article 2 on early specialization in youth sports
Article 3 on early specialization in youth sports 
9. If you want to be fast, you have to train fast

The worst sport for any athlete that plays a team sport? Cross Country. An endurance sport and team sports are on opposite ends of the Performance/Endurance continuum. You can be good at one, good at the other, or mediocre at both.
10. STOP JOGGING!!!! (see#9) 
Why? Injury, injury, injury. Runners get injured early and often, yet they still do it. This topic alone could be the subject of an entire blog post, but I’ll spare you.  What is that age old cliché definition of insanity?

Thank you for taking the time to listen to the things, I’ve learned – hopefully you can learn from them too. Although I am very passionate (stubborn) in certain areas, it is because I have seen and experienced the good, bad and ugly of the health and fitness industry.  My ultimate goal, even before results, is to make sure you don’t endure training injuries – once that is established, then we can start to make progress.

Until next time,
Coach Steve


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