High Octane Corrective Exercise and Performance Enhancement | www.RobertsonTrainingSystems.com

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Q&A - Program Design


I was reading a recent article of your "10 Reasons You're Still Jacked Up" and was wonder why you thought the Push-Pull-Leg split was so idiotic. How different is it from a functional split such as:

 Horizontal Push
 Horizontal Pull
 Vertical Push
 Vertical Pull
 Quad Dominate
 Hip Dominate

I agree with most of your ideas on training. For example I focus on compound lifts, I incorporate unilateral movements, and keep my workouts short and intense. I respect your opinion and have read a lot of your articles and books, but I have found that when I lift hard I need 4-7 days recovery and the push-pull-leg system allows that recovery because you avoid muscle overlap. Some times I use a two on one off, other times I use a one on one off. I guess I just don't agree with the assertion that only an idiot living in the 80s and sporting a mullet would use the split. If there are some studies that support your assertion, could you please refer them to me.

Thank you for your time and thank you for all the great articles you write to dispel the myths about strength training.

You bring up some valid points, and here are my thoughts on the topic.

First off, the trainer I was eluding too was stating that this split was optimal for everyone. We all know that NO PROGRAM is ideal for everyone. Along those same lines, no split is ideal FOREVER. I believe the saying goes something like this:

“Everything works – but nothing works forever.”

So that was my first issue.

The second issue is focused on recovery, and this part may get long-winded. In my experience, the only reason people can’t train a muscle group more than one time per week is because their GPP/recovery capacity is atrocious. If you have a legitimate recovery issue (increased age, testosterone levels equivalent to an 80 year old female, etc.), then those need to be addressed and/or understood.

Before going forward, please understand the difference between wanting and needing to train a specific body part multiple times per week. A 50 year old who does this for fun doesn’t need to train lower body multiple times per week. But, if that’s your goal, or you want to optimize your progress, then you need to examine why you can’t currently do that.

Here’s an example: You perform the same total sets, reps, etc. of your typical leg workout, but you split it up over two days instead of one. You should theoretically be able to recover from this, right?

Now what if you added one set, or even one repetition, per week. Would this cause you to overtrain, or exceed your body’s recovery capacity? It shouldn’t, right? So why couldn’t you use this approach (or one similar to it), to slowly but surely build work capacity? The key isn’t to thrash your body at each and every workout; even the really smart bodybuilders out there will tell you it’s about stimulating growth, not annihilating every possible motor unit in your body. If you can’t recover without 7-10 days of rest between workouts for a specific body part, I’d seriously examine what you’re doing in those workouts first and foremost. You must remember there’s a difference between what you can do and what’s optimal.

When we look at amazing work capacities, look no further than elite level powerlifters or Olympic lifters. These guys can incur a massive amount of fatigue at each and every workout. Yet, amazingly enough, powerlifters often train lower body at least twice a week. Even still, Olympic lifters train their legs 2, 3 and even up to 4 or 5 days per week! I have no clue about your current level of training, but I’d imagine you probably aren’t at a level as elite as these athletes. That’s not a knock on you, it’s just the truth. (I’m not at that level, either, for what it’s worth – I’m just making a point).

You have to keep in mind two things when discussing athletes at a high level:

1) Are they “supplementing”? If so, this will improve their recovery (Duh!)
2) It has taken them years to develop the work capacity necessary to train like this.

So quite simply, if you are incurring so much fatigue from one workout that you can’t recover for an extended period of time, I would examine what you’re doing within that workout and address it first and foremost. I’d much rather split that volume up over two workouts and improve the quality of said workouts than continue destroying every muscle fiber one time per week.

This may just be my opinion on the topic, but hopefully its food for thought. Good luck with your training.

Stay strong

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Developing your philosophy

Right now I’ve basically completed all the “content” for my Australian seminars. What I’ve done is create four PowerPoint’s that will serve as the course material. Here are the topics:

- Introduction and 21st Century Core Training
- Optimizing Upper Extremity Biomechanics
- Bulletproof Knees
- Program Design

My goal is to give all the attendees an idea of my training philosophy and the art/science behind it.

I would suggest that anyone who wants to become a better coach go through this at some point in time. As clear as I thought my philosophies were, it gives you a new level of clarity when you have to write everything out and explain it coherently to an audience. Why do you prefer certain exercises? Why do you include certain modalities? What are your core thoughts on training for the various parts of the body?

Many people on the ‘net are more than willing to poke holes in your philosophy, while they don’t even have a philosophy themselves! It may sound easy at first, but when you really try to sort out each and every step of your training program, it gives you new found perspective. Quite often we make corrections and do things on the fly, without a lot of regard as to “why” they work.

In my estimation, being able to explain the “how’s” AND the “why’s” is an integral part of your learning curve. If you can’t communicate your thoughts to others (be they seminar attendees or clients/athletes), good luck getting them to buy into your methods.

Stay strong

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Lower Traps

The lower traps are one of the most neglected muscle groups in the body. This is a huge mistake, whether your goal is improved performance, healthy shoulders, or a combination of the two.

Generally, the lower traps are lengthened and weak due to the excessively kyphotic upper torso position. If you have any preconceived notions about getting strong in pressing movements (benching, overhead pressing, etc.), lower trap development is crucial.

The lower traps are integral in both moving and stabilizing the scapulae. When coupled with the upper traps and serratus, they form the upward rotation force couple. Upward rotation is kind of important if you want to put your hands over your head for any reason. As well, the lower traps are key stabilizers into scapular depression. Scapular depression is imperative if you want a stable base when bench pressing.

The key with the lower traps is a multi-faceted approach:

- Learn to recruit them (activation drills)
- Strengthen them (pull-up/pull-down variations)
- Integrate them with the serratus and upper traps to produce efficient upward rotation

This topic will be a large section in my upcoming Australian seminars. If you’re in the Melbourne or Sydney areas, you won’t want to miss out. Check out my schedule on the main page for information. Bill and I also cover quite a few lower trap based drills in our Inside-Out DVD and manual.

Stay strong

Monday, January 28, 2008

Powerlifting in a Commercial Gym?

Last week, I was meeting with a new client and going through the traditional assessment. The guy was like most that I see:

- Imbalanced stiffness between the lumbar spine and hips; this leads to a flawed and inefficient squat and deadlift
- Poor gluteal motor control, especially in single-leg stance
- Excessively tight in the anterior hips
- Fairly weak in the serratus, although not too bad

However, that’s not the point of this post. Imagine my dismay when I walked into a commercial gym the other day and saw a 60+ year old wearing a bench shirt and getting diesel!

The point is, I SAW PEOPLE POWERLIFTING IN A COMMERCIAL GYM! And not only that, but there were probably 8-10 people in and out of bench shirts, all over the age of 40! Needless to say, I was more than a little stoked to see that.

This just goes to show you that powerlifting is one sport that you can continue to excel at, even later in life. Many of the world’s best powerlifters are close to or over 40 years of age. Brad Gillingham is a lifter I’ve always looked up to and admired, and he continues to set PR’s well into his forties.

Well, this post didn’t have too much of a point, but I had to share it with someone. I’m just glad to see that there are some people out there in commercial gyms that are serious about their strength and physique development.

Stay strong

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

New Article Up!

I had a new article go up at T-Nation today; it's not as sciency as some, but hopefully it makes for a good read.

10 Reasons You're Still Jacked Up


Stay strong

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Random thoughts...

Pretty busy this week, but here are some random thoughts:

- My lovely wife Jess had foot surgery yesterday. Please keep her in your thoughts.

- I'm getting prepped for the Aussie seminars and things are going well. Two six hour days back-to-back is going to kick my ass though!

- Leaving Australia at noon on a Tuesday and getting back to Indianapolis at 6 pm on Tuesday is the closest thing I'll ever get to time travel.

- My upcoming newsletter interview with Michael Boyle is going to be excellent. If you aren't already signed up, go to my home page and do so now!

- Tony Gentilcore and Eric Cressey both had articles go up at T-Nation in the past week, and both are quite good. Check them out.

- It's fitting that Eric and Tony's article go up in the same week; the only thing more appropriate would be if they went up on the same day, since they do everything else together!

- Front squatting for months at a time makes for a great front squat. Not so great for the back squat, though.

- I'm tired of the cold.

That's all; have a great day!

Stay strong

Friday, January 18, 2008

Some motivation for the weekend...

Another one of my favorite USAPL lifters, Caleb Williams, hitting a world record squat:

And here's a second clip that shows all his lifts from that meet. It's awesome watching him toy with the weights, especially on the squat and bench.

Stay strong, train hard, and have a great weekend!


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Q&A - Inside-Out

Mike -

I received the DVD of Inside-Out yesterday. Thank you very much. I've begun incorporating the warmups in my pre-workout mobility/warmup drills. I've got a shoulder impingement, so anything that will help reduce the odds of it flaring back up are worth doing! Thanks again for your help.

I do have one question - I've got a gym without a med ball or a foam roller. Are there any thoracic warmups that I can do that don't require either one? If not,
I'll have to go out and buy my coach a med ball!

Thanks for the kind words, and I'm glad you like the DVD!

Thoracic mobility is hugely important, and I understand not having the necessary equipment in your current facility. Another option would be to use the two tennis ball method that Michael Boyle uses in his Essential 8 Mobility Drills featured previously at T-Nation. It's a simple, low-cost alternative that you create and take with you to the gym.

Good luck and keep me posted on your progress!

Stay strong

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Corrective Exercise

I'm not a physical therapist.

I'm not a chiropractor.

I'm not a massage therapist.

And I'm definitely not an orthopedic surgeon.

What I am is a strength coach/personal trainer with an understanding of corrective exercise. Please note, I did not say rehab - rehab is for athletic trainers and physical therapists. They rehab acute injuries.

My role in this field is to help people who aren't seriously "injured" per se, but to improve their inefficiencies; in essence, to get them healthy and improve their performance.

Now, while I don't claim to be any of the above, I do claim to have at least a basic knowledge of all their jobs. This benefits me in two ways:

1 - I can better understand what it is they do, and how I can help improve the quality of their care as part of a holistic program.

2 - I have a better understanding of who (or when) to refer someone to them for their services.

I don't claim to know it all - in fact, as the cliche saying goes, "The more I learn, the more I realize there is to learn."

But I can always try ;)

Stay strong

PS If you're a trainer in this field and you'd like to learn more about corrective exercise, be sure to check out the Building the Efficient Athlete DVD Series that Eric and I have released. It's a great starting point for someone like you.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Body Part Split

If you're reading my blog, I hope the title alone sparks a little bit of rage.

I was talking with my good friend and trainer Alwyn Cosgrove today, and the topic of bodypart splits came up. I was reviewing the marketing materials of the "Best Trainer in Indianapolis" (self-proclaimed), and she mentioned her ideal way to get into great shape was a body part split! At least she gave legs their own day ;)

I guess I forget, sometimes, that people actually train this way. The bigger question is, how can we get the word out that this isn't the optimal way to train? It's hard enough to convince a new trainee that this isn't the way to train, so what chance do we have when other trainers are espousing this archaic way of training?

For every great site like T-nation, muscle rags are getting 10x the exposure by being in your face at the grocery, at the bookstore, and everywhere in between.

Quite simply, it's going to take a LONG time before people figure out that body part splits are far from ideal - especially for the casual gym goer who simply wants to lose body fat or add some muscle mass.

Stay strong

Monday, January 14, 2008

Testimonial: Magnificent Mobility

Some time ago I purchased Magnificent Mobility. At that time I was in the process of slef-rehabbing an SI joint injury that had occured due to imbalances generated by a previous right side QL strain.

I had seen a number of physiotherapists over a 2 year period to fix these imbalances and all I received was stretching exercises and advice to do nothing strenuous until
it healed. Unfortunately the body is a complex machine that will adapt to whatever is thrown at it. Their advice and incorrect programming resulted in six months of zero progress. I would wake every morning being unable to tie my shoelaces, I had difficulty getting out of bed, and everything was a struggle.

After doing some research of my own, I came across Magnificent Mobility. The production levels within the video are as good as any instructional I have seen, the instruction is clear and precise, without being clinical. Most importantly, the exercises contained within MM really helped with the healing process. After a month of practice, combined with some very easy bodyweight only squats on a regular basis, my range of motion returned to pre-injury levels. I no longer had problems getting out of bed in the morning and I could finally return to pre-injury life.

Since returning to training I have found that regular use of the exercises during warmups has helped me quickly move beyond my previous strength and conditioning levels. I was amazed at how quickly I responded what seemed to be very simple drills. The biggest kick out of this was not being able to train again, or return to the martial arts that I had missed for so long, it was the simple things - bringing the shopping in from the car, being able to pick my daughter up without massive back/hip pain and being able to easily get down on the floor to play.

It is impossible to place a value on mobility: MM is a genuine bargain. I cannot recommend this highly enough.

Craig Dollin

Friday, January 11, 2008

The "Lack" Mentality

Last weekend, I listened to an interview with fitness entrepreneur Ryan Lee over at jpfitness.com. Love him or hate him, Ryan has done an excellent job of marketing himself and others, and making a fair amount of money along the way.

One of the topics he talked about in this podcast was the "lack" mentality. I've heard it called several other things along the way.

Alwyn Cosgrove refers to it as the "scarcity" mentality. If someone is making more money than you, they must be taking it FROM you in some form or fashion. The scarcity mentaliy would be contrasted by an abundance mentality. In this mindset, you don't think of taking from someone else's pie, but rather growing the pie so that everyone gets a piece.

In modern day slang, it's referred to as being a "hater." If someone has something that you want (money, prestige, knowledge, etc.), you "hate on them" for having what you desire.

Along those same lines, Chris Shugart once wrote an article titled "Beware the Saboteur." The saboteur is the worst kind of hater - not only do they not have what they want, but they don't want you to have it either! These people are generally close to you and will actually sabotage your efforts to improve yourself.

I must admit, I've never really understood the lack mentality. Why put so much time and focus into someone else, when you could easily be more productive by investing it in yourself? It just doesn't make sense to me.

Whether your goal is to become stronger or leaner, make more money, develop successful relationships or simply feel better about yourself, it's much easier to do so when you stop worrying about other people and focus on making yourself the best person you can be.

Stay strong

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Squatting 8 Bills to Blind Melon

Wade Hooper is one of my favorite powerlifters of all time. Not only is he freaky strong, but he's one of the nicest guys I've ever met. It's amazing how many top level lifters are great people to boot.

Here's a YouTube clip of Wade training for the Quest Invitational last year. Wade is a squat technician, so if nothing else watch the control and efficiency he displays when un-racking the bar and setting up. It's the basic three step approach I've outlined in several of my squatting articles.

Train hard and have a great day!

Stay strong

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Interview with Alwyn Cosgrove

The following is an interview I did with performance coach and gym owner Alwyn Cosgrove last year. As many of you know, AC is not just a friend but a mentor to a me, so it's with great pleasure that I'm reproducing this interview.

Stay strong

MR: Alwyn, let's cut to the chase. You've studied under what many would consider the top "Gurus" in our field. What have you learned from them, and what do you wish you could forget?

AC: This is what I was talking about in my second-to-last point in my T-nation article this week (with editing, it came out a little different). I wasn't talking to the reader, I was really talking about these guys.

The fact is, when you get right down to it, all a coach can do is write a program to get results. The program is nothing more than the "delivery system" of all your training knowledge. Despite being practically brainwashed by these guys, I slowly came to realize, that regardless of who they were or what they knew, head-to-head, program-to-program they really weren't all that. Now don't get me wrong - these are smart guys, geniuses in their areas. But when you get past the Yoda-worship, and start to have to get results -well it was like pulling back the Wizard of Oz curtain.

These guys all refuse to really acknowledge each other. I studied them all. And none of them studied me :) I know where their strengths are and where their weaknesses lie. So after a while, when you get right down to it and have to take a client from point A to point B - I'm comfortable that I could "hang" with any of these guys.

MR: Now, having lost 3 grandparents to cancer myself, I'm always interested in a "survivors perspective" on the topic. We always here about people like Lance Armstrong, but how has cancer changed Alwyn Cosgrove?

AC: Mike, it changes everything. You cannot even comprehend what it means to hear "you have cancer". Lance Armstrong once said that after cancer "there are only good days and great days". I completely understand that.

My one year anniversary of being in remission is this week. It's weird - you don't feel like celebrating - you're still kind of "holding your breath" about everything. I have to do a PET/CT scan this week (just as a check up). Even though I feel ok, all the old emotions and fears resurface. It's almost like you'd rather not know.

My goals as an athlete were just all about strength, speed , getting lean, getting big etc. Then I had cancer and lost all of that. Coming back has been a real struggle. Slow. Painful actually. And depressing. I still can't really complete a full workout. On Dave Tate's "scale of strength" maybe I'll never get out of the "shit" or "suck" category. But I can tell you, there are a whole bunch of people undergoing chemotherapy right now who are stronger than ANY powerlifter if you know what I mean.

But you know what? None of that matters. I honestly don't care enough anymore. I got a second shot at life. I was in Stage IV. Now I'm in remission. After being faced with cancer - trivial things are just of no interest to me. I'm too busy living. Taking a walk in the sun has a whole new meaning now.

Cancer is the scariest, toughest opponent anyone could ever face. I would fight Mike Tyson, the entire UFC and a pack of rabid pit bull dogs with my hands tied behind my back rather than face cancer and chemotherapy again. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

MR: When you talk about stuff like that, I think it gives the rest of us a lot more perspective on our own lives as well. Being late to work, missing a deadline, or having a bad workout really aren't that bad in the grand scheme of things.

Now, let's switch topics a little bit to something that's near and dear to your heart: The Internet Troll. Your thoughts?

AC: See above. People like that are just insignificant to me. They take time out of their lives to "talk shit" to people while they hide behind anonymity on an internet forum. I'm just glad I'm that important to them that they feel the need to take the time to let their feelings known. Unfortunately they aren't that important to me! I get paid to write articles for magazines. If you read them - great. Whether you like them or hate them - the fact that you read them and even know who I am means I earned my paycheck. Because I don't read your replies. And I don't know who you are - sorry!

I read a "time management" book a while ago and it said to exchange the word "life" for "time". That really helps. Then you realize you don't have the "life" to waste concerning yourself with this type of stuff.

MR: I'm in total agreement, and I know how frustrating it can be to put a ton of time and effort into an article, only to have it bashed by the self-proclaimed "expert" sitting behind a computer screen.

So let's get off the internet thing and get to some real-world training applications. What kind of things are you experimenting with now? Anything new or exciting?

AC: I could see myself eliminating back squats with a lot of my clients. I've been playing with taking them out of programs for about a year now (from conversations with Mike Boyle). At a certain point I think the risks of back squats for a non-powerlifter start to outweigh the benefits. I don't see that with front squats/lunges etc. I can also see me drastically reducing all upper body barbell work with my athletes. As well, I think bodyweight-only training is still a largely untapped area.

Have you seen this: http://www.thehappybody.com/Video/PostureTest.wmv? If your joints don't have that type of mobility and stability - then why are we loading the joints?

No one is integrating mobility, stability, strength, power and endurance work real well yet. I have some thoughts on how to do that.

I've been experimenting with different fat loss protocols for the last two years. I've almost dialed it in I think. My mum died of a heart attack largely due to obesity when I was in college. With all my
supposed knowledge about cardiac health/fat loss etc (I was studying in college and competing in TKD at international level) and was still unable to help her with anything effective. What was "supposed" to work - just does not work in the real world.

So I've been playing with and researching how to get fat off people since then. The fitness industry has flat out got it wrong most of the time. We've modeled endurance athletes and tried to pass that down to the general public even though fat loss was never the goal of endurance athletes. We then modeled bodybuilders - and failed again. We can't consider bodybuilding without considering the influence of steroids. Once the steroids are out of the picture, bodybuilding methods for fat loss are less effective. The typical bodybuilder who has been training heavy, suddenly cuts his calories drastically, increases his cardio work by a huge amount and starts doing high rep supersets. The result? Losing muscle rapidly if you're not on some kind of drugs.

This has lead to every trainer out there recommending low rep, heavy weights for fat loss. I've seen the exact same sets and reps recommended for hypertrophy, relative strength and for fat loss. This isn't by any stretch of the imagination going to be the most effective method. The same program no matter what? No way.

The loss of muscle has confused people. It's not really an issue if you aren't following a completely retarded diet and training program. We're looking at a flawed model and trying to "upgrade" it. We need to start with a different model in the first place.

MR: I, for one, can't wait to hear what you've come up with. Finally, you've done a lot of talk about the "pendulum" of training, and how people are quick to over-react in the short-term and then tend to under-react in the long-term. What are your thoughts on all the different "mediums" that are currently being proposed?

AC: Bruce Lee was really the first martial artist to promote cross-training in different systems. It took nearly 25 years for the martial arts world to catch up - and now everyone knows what MMA means. The fitness world is still in the dark ages by comparison.

I've listened to Paul Chek, Ellington Darden, Pavel Tsatsouline and Dave Tate. Most people see these guys as completely incompatible. I just see everything they offer as tools in a trainers arsenal. I use swiss balls. I use kettlebells. I use low volume training. I use the Westside Barbell methodology. I can see the strengths and weaknesses of each system. Maximize the strengths and cover the weaknesses with strengths from another system.

The fitness industry is still arguing as to what "Style" is the best. Once we figure it out and start to develop a unified training system - maybe we'll get taken seriously as professionals.

MR: Alwyn, thanks a lot for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions. If you'd like to find out more about Alwyn, check him out at his website at www.alwyncosgrove.com.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A new product from Alan Aragon.

Alan Aragon is a wicked smart guy. And better yet, he's no BS - what you see is what you get.

Alan recently contacted me to let me know about his new product, Alan Aragon's Research Review. Rather than trying to explain to you what it is, Alan's given me the liberty to link you directly to the first issue. Here it is:

January Edition

And here's a link to the home page:

Research Review Home Page

Quite simply, if you're a coach in this field, or even just someone with a distinct interest in nutrition, I feel it's a great resource to have around. Many of us don't have the time (or energy!) to read science all day. With this product, Alan takes care of that for you! Separating the wheat from the chaff isn't always easy, but I think Alan does an excellent job in his inaugural issue.

Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think.

Stay strong

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Training Lifestyle

I hate the term diet.

I know, I know - "hate" is a strong word. But I seriously hate the word diet.

Why? Because it insinuates that eating healthy is something you're only going to do for a specific period of time. In other words, you'll stay on said "diet" until you lose X amount of pounds, Y amount of body fat, or generally feel the way you want to about yourself.

And after that? You fall right back into your lousy nutritional habits, effectively ending up right back where you started!

One of my pet peeves in this industry are people who condone this. It's one thing if you're a competitive bodybuilder, fitness or figure competitor - you really are dieting to get down to a ridiculously low body fat, to compete on a given day. The general population, or people who just want to be healthy, don't need to "diet." In fact, they'd be better off if they banished the word diet from their vocabulary all together!

If you want to stay healthy and be in shape for many years to come, you need to develop a nutritionally sound lifestyle; this will allow you to be successful over the long haul. If you go over to T-Nation.com, they are literally hundreds of articles on how to eat properly. If you want something a little bit more complete, check out John Berardi's Precision Nutrition or Mike Roussell's Naked Nutrition Guide - either will get you on the way to long-term success.

Regardless of what path you choose, understand that a "diet" is a short-term band aid. Instead, choose a path that will give you the greatest possibilty of long-term success.

Stay strong

Friday, January 4, 2008

Anything that can espouse this kind of response from Tony Dungy...

...will be shown on my blog.

Chris Henry - you got JACKED UP!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Interview with Jim "Smitty" Smith of the Diesel Crew

Today, we're going to re-publish an interview I did with Jim "Smitty" Smith of the Diesel Crew last year. If you missed out, you need to sign-up for the newsletter ASAP!


Over the past year, I've had the pleasure of becoming friends with not just an amazing strength coach, but an amazing person as well. Jim "Smitty" Smith not only knows his stuff when it comes to the iron-work, but he's also one of the most genuine and good people I've met in a long time.

Smitty, gives us a little background on yourself.Mike, first off, thanks for the interview!

Well, many moons ago I was a scholastic wrestler and tennis player. But, it was during college where I started taking my training seriously. Like everyone else I followed the popular magazines and did tons of reps, sets and volume. The typical bodybuilding routine and this continued all through college. After I graduated, I wanted to continue to learn more about strength and how to develop athletes. In 2001, I become NSCA CSCS certified and that is when the journey began.

The Diesel Crew was founded shortly after by Jedd Johnson and myself.

Since then I have had the privilege to work with many great athletes, meet some of the most brilliant minds in the industry, create tons of articles, manuals and videos dedicated to the pursuit of strength through non-conventional protocols.

Who the hell is the Diesel Crew?

Much like you and Eric have been branded as the “Mobility guys”, Jedd Johnson and I have been dubbed the Grip guys – but this is only a small part of what we do.

The Diesel Crew was founded on developing strength utilizing old school training techniques. We did tons of research on Sandow, Arco, Inch, Cyr, Saxon and all of the other strongmen of old. Both of us coming from a bodybuilding background, we always were searching for something new. Something to refresh our strategies for our training programs.

We started with exercises like the bent press, 2 hands anyhow, the Steinborn lift, swings and zercher lifts and moved to powerlifting, weightlifting, kegs, sandbags, thick ropes, stones, kettlebells and then onto Grip.

The Grip tag has been hard earned. Over the last 4 years, we’ve studied Grip athletics in all its complexities. Our efforts led us to participating in many Grip competitions and putting on the largest Grip competition in the United States. It has been considered the US Grip Championships.

It is this in-depth study that has allowed us to provide others with the knowledge on how they too can incorporate Grip strength training into their programs.

Over the years, we hope that we’ve opened other trainers eyes to the fact that there are many ways strength, speed and power can be developed.

You're my go-to guy when it comes to grip training; what common errors do you see in people who want to get a stronger grip?

Too much volume and not enough structure. When coaches start implementing grip into their athlete’s routines, they go WAY overboard. The musculature of the lower arm is just like any other musculature of the body. If there is a stimulus, there is a subsequent restoration and adaptation. If there is too much stimuli, then full restoration cannot occur.

Remember the hands are a direct indicator of the CNS and subsequently can provide you with direct feedback of overtraining. Have you ever gone into the gym for a workout and the weights felt “cold” or you’re hands “hurt” when lifting the weights? This is an immediate red flag that you are overtrained.

The second point was being too random with their grip training. Isolation AND integration are the keys to a thorough grip specific training approach.

Isolation for each individual sport and athlete would be very different.

For example, a General Specific (GS) exercises for :
Football player = Grippers (crush strength for grabbing a jersey to tackle)
Hockey player = Pinch (support strength endurance for maintaining stick control through all 3 periods with a thick glove)

Integration would be the same for all sports. For example, switching an axle for an Olympic bar for military press, or towel pull-ups instead of bar pull-ups.

That's great info right there! Now, you're a pretty educated guy, as you're always going to seminars and learning more new stuff. Give me a quick synopsis of the five most important things you've learned or changed in the past year.

1. Mobility and warmup are very important to priming the CNS – you mean static stretching isn’t what I should be doing with my athletes to get them ready for a workout?

2. Knee rehab protocols – endless sets of leg extensions are not going to make it! Some Key Points

i. Read Mike Robertson’s Bulletproof Knees article
ii. Restore ROM
iii. Create Stability – EQI, Static Lunges, sled dragging, quad flexes
iv. Learn to Absorb Forces Again – bounding, jump rope, deceleration trainingv. Fire the Glutes – single leg RDL’s, supine bridges
vi. Foam Rolling, The Stick, tennis balls, golf balls – maintaining soft-tissue quality

3. Serape effect – your body is a kinetic chain – who knew? The thoracolumbar fascia allows the transverse co-contraction of the back musculature to provide stability, prevent rotation. We are talking about the a shoulder, the opposite hip and ankle. Musculature function, mobility/stability are all coordinated across this diagonal line. For example, if your right shoulder is hurting, check the mobility of the left hip and ankle. The location of the pain is not necessarily where the dysfunction is located.

4. Functional Anatomy – if you don’t know it, learn it. I am still a student – still trying to build my knowledge around this area. I will continue to learn. It is very important to know the actions and origins of muscles and muscle groups to see how they interact.

5. The Business Side – I love the networking, but not the marketing.

6. Training Yourself – Buddy Morris once said, “If you train athletes, and you don’t train yourself – get out!” How can you expect to prepare an athlete for their sport with exercises that you, yourself have never done.

Well that's actually six things, but good stuff nonetheless. Much like the mad scientist in his lab, you've been slaving a way at this secret project called "Chaos Training;" can you give the RTS readers a little bit of insight into this? What's it all about?

The concept is, “Overcoming Instability Forces Stability.” Chaos Training will really open up the eyes of all strength professionals in the field of what “functional” really means. If you are thinking swiss balls, bosu balls or wobble boards – than you are WAY off.

Chaos training is not a training system onto itself, it is a component you will add to your current protocols. A key piece, and omething I believe has been missing. We all know about sandbag squats, kettlebell swings and keg lifting – they are all great. But what I’m trying to do is take these exercises to a new level. The goal is to try and better prepare your athletes for the demands of their sport – i.e., increase the potential carryover from their training sessions to the field, court, ice or whatever.

How can the RTS readers learn more about you and the Diesel Crew?

Contact us at our websites:


Thanks a ton Smitty - we appreciate your time!

Thanks Mike for this opportunity!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

Just wanted to wish a belated Happy New Year to all my blog readers!

If for some reason you aren't already signed up for my newsletter, you should really check out the most recent edition. We've got an exclusive interview with nutrition expert Chris Mohr, and a fat/weight loss program by Washington DC based personal trainer Josef Brandenburg.

Check the newsletter out here:

January 1st Newsletter

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