Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An Interview with Nick Tumminello

Nick Tumminello is a Baltimore Personal Trainer, Strength Coach and National Educator who works with a select group of Physique Competitors, Elite Athletes and Exercise Enthusiasts. Nick also serves as the Strength Coach for Team Ground Control MMA. Check out Coach Nick's Products, Seminar Schedule and Blog HERE

1. Nick thank for your time. Could you give my readers your background, and how you came to be a strength and conditioning coach?

A- I grew up with a mother who was a competitive bobybuider in the 80’s. She looked more like what we would now call a Figure Competitor because womens bodybuilding back them was more about looking like a fit bikini model. As a young kid, I would go to the gym with her and do every exercise she did with whatever weight I could manage. I was like 6yrs old so it wasn’t much weight. But, at that age, I was banging out Squats, dealifts and chin ups like a stud. :-)

As I got older, all I did was play sports after school. I started wrestling in junior league and still do to this day at the age of 30. Although wrestling for me is a part of my now part of myy BJJ and Im also an advid rock climber doing mostly bouldering.

On the training side of things, I stated training people professionaly at the age of 18. I opend my own gym at the age of 21. I have always had a passion for training athletes but welcome all clients levels and fitness goals. As long as you are motivated and disiplined –youre in!
I probably have most verasitile group of clients each day than most strength coaches. I train clinets 5x per week and I will go from training a Pro MMA fighter to a training a Figure Girl to training a pro Horse Jockey to a weekend warrior to training a Grandma with two hip replacments and a frozen shoulder. When you train so many different clients like that, you quickly realize what really works and what doesn't! Because if something works just as well for both an NFL player and his kid sister and his mom and his grandma – it’s a damn good technique that it will certainly work for everyone else!

2. What, in your opinion, is the biggest problem you see within the fitness industry today?

A- It depends on what industry you are talking about? Our industry is really divided into two sections – Fitness Training (Personal Trainers and Group Instructors,etc:) and Performance (Strength Coaches, Speed Coaches,etc;).

In the world of Fitness training, trainers seem to be more concerned with whats cool over learning whats most effctive. I know this because I’m blessed to have the oppurtuity to regularly present at some of te biggest fitness confernces in the US like events from IDEA, ECA and AFPA. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to know the latest exercises and techniques – I personally love learning new exercises. But, if you don’t know how and when to (and when not to) apply these techniqes, they won’t do much good. I think the biggest weakness in the Fitness Training industry is a lack of Program design.

In the world of Sports Performance training, we’ve gone completely opposite of the Fitness industry and gotten so caught up with the science side of things we have forgotten that training should be fun and interesting for our clients! Yes, performance comes first. But, who says you can’t improve performance and have fun while doing it?

A good strength coach thinks technically but acts simply and speaks in a way EVRYONE can understand. Remember this - You can be the smartest coach in the world, bif if you can’t communicate or folks don’t like being around you, you stink as a coach!

My favorire line from the Movie Patch Adams is when Patch asked an intern – “DO you know the differnce between a Docotor and a Scientist?. Patch then says “the differnce is we (Doctors) work with live people”. I think Strength Coaches can all learn from this line and start seeing beyond just the sets, reps, rests, tempos, assessements,etc:

I can go on about this but last thing I’ll say about this subject is that no one in the entire Exercise/Rehab industry wants to admit the we really don’t “know” shit!

For instance:

- Some folks with a hernaited disc have pain, others do not. So, does having a herniated disc cause low back pian? We don’t really know?

- Steady state cardio will make you fat. But, 1000’s of folks loose weight jogging every year. Others don’t change a bit.

- Spinal Fexion is bad for your spine. So, why isnt every wrestler and MMA fighter lying in a hospital bed? Other folks bend over one time and herniate a disc.

- Bench press is bad for your shoulders? Some folks bench for years wi/o issue while others get injured.

- Squats are better than BSS. Or, the other way around. There are strong arguments on both sides. Whoes actually right? Who knows?

- Bodybuilding (isolation) protocols are not good for sports athletes. But many athletes over the years have used Bodybulding priciples and imprpoved their performance on the field.

- Yoga is bad for your back. Tell that to the 1000s of folks who do it regularly and say that they’ve never felt better since starting yoga.

The simple fact is, there is a STRONG argument on both sides of the fence on just about everything. The other fact is that just about every well known trainer/coach has dffering opions, has a different training style and uses different techniques. But we ALL are still gettng great results. So, who’s way is better. Who cares? – were are all getting the job done!

We all need to admit to ourselves that all we really “know” is what works for us in our setting, with our clients using our training style. Everything else is nothing but personal opinion.

I would also check out this Blog post we did a short while back called Don’t be the Kind of Strength Coach Who… -

3. Could you give my readers some insight into your typical day?

A- Into work around 9am and leave around 5-6pm. I workout at 11am Mon,Tues, Thurs and Fri. I workout with my GF Alli Mckee and Mark Simon. Alli is as fit as fit can be so she pushes Mark and both. Mark is a big dude (ex-powerlifter) so he pushes me to lift heavier. It’s a nice dynamic we have!

Wed , I only train clients until noon. The rest of the day and work on articles and products.
My typical day consists of in the –trenches training sessions with anywhere from 1-4 clients ranging from Pro athetes to Granny’s.

During down time, I ask our in-house PT Morgan Johnson more questions then he can stand. J and I do talk shop just about everyday.

4. Who has had the biggest influence on you as a coach?

A- SO many folks to name- My Mom, my very good friend JC Santana, Paul Chek, Mike Boyle, Gary Gray, Vern Gambetta, Martin Rooney, Mike Clarke, All of my Wrestling Coaches, My high scholol Philosophy Teacher, Bruce Lee, Mark Comerford…

5. Sometimes there seems to be a huge gap between some physical therapists and strength and conditioning coaches. How in your opinion can this gap be bridged?

A- we can bridge this gap by 1. Knowing each others role – 2. Respecting each others role and 3. Loosing our ego’s.

6. What are you all-time favourite books in the following areas:

- Strength Training: The Essence of Program Design by JC Santana

- Physical Therapy Rehabilitation: Medical Management of Acute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Pain Research and Clinical Management Series, Volume 13 – By Nikolai Bogduk and Clinical

Neurodynamics: A New System of Neuromusculoskeletal Treatment By Micheal Shacklock

- Nutrition: Nutrient Timining

- Business: A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose By Eckhart Tollle

- Random: The Warrior Within By Bruse Lee

7. What do you do to for your continuing education (Seminars attended etc)?

- I attend the PB Summits attend IDEA Confernces while speaking at them and go to many PT based workshops from NE Seminars

8. What resources that are out there, would you recommend to young up and coming coaches (Podcasts, Websites, Blogs, Products)?

A- Read Blogs from Myself, Eric Cressey, Mike Robertson, Alwyn Cosgrove, Mike Boyle and read the Blogs of the others who’s links are on the previous Blogs. Plus, read,,

9. If you could pick one exercise, and one exercise only, what would it be and why?
A- Wrestling or MMA training. Why? Because it covers every aspect of human movement and athletism.

But, in the traditional gym setting, I would go with what my GF Alli Mckee says – Sprint, Sprint , Sprint! Why?- because it’s fun, intense and gets you in sick shape! Plus, you can do it anytime and anwhere!

10. Could you give my readers a basic summary of what your methodology on training is (eg. how do you assess, and design, and periodize programs)?

This would get way, way too in-depth so I will just say this. I combine what I feel they need with what the goals they want to achieve.

I will say that I use a hybrid linear periodization style with a conjugate feel. I like to use tr-sets and Quad-sets. For instance, I put one heavy, tradtional strength raining exercise at the beginning of each set. Then as active recovery we use less intense mobility, activation, balance, body awareness, sports specific movements depending on what I think will best benefit that specific client. The active recovery is performed in a manner that will not interfer with the primary strength exercise.

I wrote an article about this whch van be found here –

11. Last question, what advice would you give to young coaches, like myself getting into the field?

Read as much as you can, watch as many videos as you can, intern with as many coaches as you can and attend as many confernces as you can. But, don’t try to copy anyone elses stuff. Be yourself and don’t stop doing something that has worked for you just because some supposed expert says it’s no good. Question everything you learn.

I live by this little saying when it comes to learning – “if it doesn’t make common sense and it doesn’t make scientific sense, its nonsense.”

Also, don’t spend too much time on the forums and remember that opinions are likes asses, nothing special because everybody’s got one.

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