Monday, September 27, 2010

A Weekend with Dr.Leon Chaitow

Me with Dr.Chaitow

I yet again had the pleasure to be taught by Dr. Leon Chaitow at National Training Centre here in Dublin this past weekend. This weekends module covered the European version on neuromuscular therapy (NMT) for the upper extremity. I throughly enjoyed the entire weekend. Dr. Chaitow was in fine form and share a lot of his knowledge with us.

Saturday 9-5:
As stated above, the upper extremity was our covered topic for this weekends module. We started out with some breakout assessments of upward rotation, looking for an early firing of upper tapezius and levator scapula. We then went onto some more assessments of the pecs, lats, infraspinatus, supraspinatus, and subscapularis, just looking at muscle lenght.

Dr. Chaitow then discussed skin palpation as an assessment tool. He talked about using skin draging, Lewits skin stretch (which I find very good), Skin rolling, and also using c-bends, and s-bends. The great thing about these assessments is that they can immediately become the treatment. The skin can tell you an aweful lot with what is going on with a patient.

After lunch we went into our third breakout of the day and used Muscle Energy Thechniques (METs) on the muscles we had assessed earlier in the day.We then perfromed some Integrated Neuromuscular Inhibation Techniques (INIT) on one another on are posterior shoulder.

Sunday 9-5:
Sunday morning began with assessments of the sternoclavicular joint (SC), and acromioclavicular joint. After these assessments we then went into treatment for restricted SC and AC joints using METs.

Then we moved onto a quick discussion about the spencer shoulder sequence. This is a method use to increase mobility at the glenohumeral joint. This is a method I had previously tried from just reading Dr.Chaitows Positional Releases book. It was great to actually have him show and guide us through this technique in the breakout. I along with a few others found it to be very effective.

After lunch we then went into some skin asssessments of the forearm and upper arm, using the same skin palpation techniques we used previously the day before. Then from there we went into treatment of the forearm after are assessments using position release, MET, and INIT.

Near then end of the day Dr.Chaitow showed us a good test to rule out thoraic outlet syndrome (TOS). He also on request from me and some others showed us some of his MET techiques for restricted ribs, both elevated and depressed.

During the weekend Dr.Chaitow also talked about his views on High Velocity Thrusts (HVTs), as used by chiropractors. He though process is METs have been shown in a variety of cases to be just as effective as HVTs, with a lot smaller risk element. He still thinks that HVTs have a place in treatment, but would recommed exhausting others options first. This kinda sounds like Coach Boyles risk:benefit ration idea.

Another thing Dr.Chaitow spoke about was when using HVTs is that they may take more time to recover from, them METs. He stated that therapy is a stress just like anything else. This is very similar to what Dan Pfaff takes about with his sprinters. It is trying to find that balance of just doing enough to get a response, but not too much to cause to much stress to the system.

I love when you here many great people talk about the same ideas, and thought processes, even though they are involved in two different disciplines.

I throughly enjoyed the entire weekend with Dr.Chaitow and my classmates, who are all extremely sound people. The assessments, and techniques we were shown will definitely find they way into my toolbox!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

An Interview with Jamie Rodriguez

Me and Jamie

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

Thanks for having me Robbie. I have been a strength coach at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning for the past 7 years, as well as the head strength coach for the American Hockey league Worcester Sharks.

I became interested in strength training around thirteen years old. I wasn’t very tall but I was lucky enough to be pretty strong and athletic.. As far back as I can remember I was always one of the fastest, strongest, most explosive amongst my friends, but I what I lacked was sports specific skills. I was mediocre in every sport, my athletism could only take me so far. So I played sports for the social aspect. I basically lifted because it was a way for me to get out the house and stay away from doing drugs and drinking. Where I grew up if you did not exercise and play sports then drinking and drugs were the only other options. There was no internet and I did not buy body building magazines, I joined school sports so I could stay after school and hit the gym. I went in and used every nautilus machine in the room. The free weight room was not available to anybody but the football and wrestling team. Like any young male I hit the chest and back hard. Every night 100 push ups and 100 sit ups I had no clue what I was doing in terms of lifting. I know this obviously does not sound like the ideal story of a strength coach, but I am sure it is way more common than you think. I have never had a tragic injury but I had a number of male and female friends that had pretty bad injuries (ACL tears, broken ankles, blown disc, dislocated shoulders). This is when my interest for training grew. I thought to m self If I can’t play competitive sports I want to help athletes stay healthy in their sport. I saw what my friends had to go through in rehab and it was horrible. I asked myself what could have prevented this injury from happening. What made their scenario different from others? What’s to say it wouldn’t happen to me.

While looking for colleges I knew I wanted to do training, I also knew I wanted to get the hell out where I lived. I read about a athletic training major. I did not know much about it but I knew it had to do with working in an athletic setting, and it was far. I started with athletic training but soon realized (no offense to athletic trainers) that all I was doing was waiting around for athletes to get injured. I soon after switched majors to exercise science. It was more in my ball park, I make athletes stronger and reduce the chance of injury during competition. Immediately after I interned at Mike Boyle strength and conditioning and made sure I learned as much as I could in the short amount of time.

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

I have two problems with the fitness industry.

1. Everybody wants to tell you how much they know, but no body wants to shut up and listen to the older trainers who have experience in the field. I mean lets be serious most of training is not rocket science. I see young trainers all the time that think they created a new training method and there is no other way it should be done. I gaurantee there are a thousand trainers out there that have done that same workout 10 years ago and found out better ways to do it. I tell every young trainer and intern I meet “ God gave you two eyes, two ears, and one mouth. Use them accordingly”. I am 29 years old, still very young with so much more to learn and I gaurantee when I am 40 I will still follow the same rules. Listen and watch before you speak.

2. Another problem is most “So called “training experts have no hands on experience. I’m sure other coaches out there will agree with this notion. Who do you trust when it comes to training? There are so many internet guru’s out there that have the best program, but they have really only trained themselves and a few buddies that are from their men softball league. You can be an absolute genius when it comes to training and truthfully I wont care. My first question is who do you train? How many people have you trained? It does not neccesarily have to be just athletes either. I am a big believer in the 10,000 hour rule. If you put in over 10,000 hours into educating your self, applying your methods to real life, training people day in and day out. Then I will listen to what you have to say.

3. Describe to my readers what it is like to work at a facility like MBSC?

It is a place where training never gets dull. You are always learning. The athletes that come through the door bring the best out of the trainer and Vice Versa. The different personalities that work at the facility are what make it a great experience. Mike is always encouraging his staff to continue education and provides us with the tools to succeed. Training programs are always questioned and discussed openly. We are always looking for simplistic way to make who ever comes through the door faster and stronger. What is most important is that every athlete that walks out the door leaves with a sense of accomplishment. Always leave better then when when you came in. Mike Boyle has said in many occasions “ There is a science and art to training. Anybody can do the science, but it takes more to master the art of training.” I can easily say that all coaches at MBSC possess the art. Every athlete buys into the program and is successful.

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

There have been a lot of coaches that have influenced me. I try to take something from every coach in come in contact with. However if I had to name a few it would be trainers that I have spent a lot of time around. Each one of the trainers below have made me a better person professionally and personally at some point in my life.
• Michael Boyle
• Ed lippie
• Shayne Foley
• Mike Potenza
• Garnett Vamos
• Sean Skahan
• Al Vermeil

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

- Strength Training: I am going to jump on the band wagon and say “Advances to functional training.” I mean it is so simple to read its ridiculous. You wont find many books out there that explain theories, programs, and exercises as easy as this book. Also “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” good book to get the basics down.

- Physical Therapy & Rehab: Don’t read many physical therapy but I loved Mike Robertson “bullet proof knees” Along with this I always refer back to my anatomy book.

- Nutrition: John Berardi writes great stuff. I am usually online with my nutrition information.

- Personal Development: Mike Boyle gives us books all the time to read. So there are a lot. But truthfully there is nothing better than first hand experience with people. I think I am good with people but I still need to put my self out there more.

- Random: Women strength books and magazines. Find out what drives the opposite sex. If a man cant figure out what is going on in their head, we can atleast find out how their body responds to training. An audio book I recently listen to was “The Talent Code” It was good. I have gotten into audio books and pod cast. It makes life easier with time and education. Also I read little kids books and nursery rhymes. It is good to read with your kid. It makes me feel younger and it helps me escape from stresses of the world.

6. 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)?

No matter what the sport is, I treat everyone like an athlete. I think a lot of times coaches base their program design solely on the athletes sport. Every body is an athlete first. So everybodys program follows a similar outline. My job is to make an athlete more explosive, stronger, faster, agile. Now that you understand, my next step in programming is assessing the athlete. What is the athletes goals? You have to find out what the athletes goals are. It is not only about what you want as a trainer. Than I put my athlete through a screening. Majority of the time I use the Functional movement screen. I have to make sure an athlete is capable of squatting, Benching, jumping, and sprinting before I put them through a program. If I do not take the time to assess, I am doing my athlete an injustice and putting he or she at a higher risk of injury. Even though they may not get hurt in the gym, they are still at risk on the field.

Once I assess that my athlete is an absolute stud I design their program. This is how I break it down.

• Foam Roll/Stretch/activation/AWU
• Speed/ power

• Explosive movement (clean, DB snatch, Jump Squat, KB swing, Etc)
• Corrective movement pattern

Tri Set
• Knee dominant or hip Dominant (bilateral or unilateral)
• Push or Pull Exercise
• Corrective stretch or Core

Quad Set( Complimentary exercises/Corrective exercises/ Sport specific lifts
• Knee dominant or hip dominant (Unilateral)
• Push or pull
• Sport specific movement
• Rehabilitative or Anti rotary movement


Periodization all depends on how long I have an athlete. Majority of the time I will not have an athlete for longer than 4 months. In this scenario I follow standard periodization and hammer away on strength and power. If I do have an athlete for a longer period of time, I will choose different variations( eccentric phase, Endurance phase, High set low reps, Deloading phase, sometimes start from square one and use higher loads. Just keep hammering on the basics. (Keeping it simple can still get an athlete strong)

7. If you had to pick one exercise, and one exercise only, what would it be and why?

To be honest the pull up/chin up is my number 1 pick. I am sure most trainers out there will say a leg exercise. It is the hot topic now between single leg and billateral squats, or just because it has been down since beginning of time. I love a pull up though:
• it is one of few exercises that is hard with just your body weight.
• Every guy can bench but very little can do a pull up.
• You can typically do a chin up anywhere with out equipment.
• If you have a strong back you will have a strong bench (push)
• You can always tell a good athlete from behind not from up front
• Kids suck at pulling these days, majority of population can’t do them right

Chin Ups Baby

8. What are you long term ambitions in this field?

My long term ambition is to work with a professional hockey organization or have control of a competitive Division 1 school. My Long Long term is to not have work crazy hours at all and hang out with my family. In reality I know I have to put in the dedication and effort for years before I have earned my way down the road goal. I will achieve my first goal though.

9. What annoys you?

I feel like this is a maxim interview now Robbie!!!! Girls who don’t have a sense of humor and think they are a 10 when they are really a 5!!. Just kidding…. Truthfully I hate trainers who think they know it all and are just plain Dicks (excuse my language) If you are smart then spread the wealth. We are in a tough profession, at one point they were grinding it out. If a young trainer wants to learn give him the time of day.

10. Last question. What advice would you give to other young coaches, like myself getting into the field?

Young athletes have to do exactly what you did Robbie. Read, read and read some more. Educate your self, and put in the time to visit and meet people. Get an internship somewhere and take full advantage of it. Even if you find out the place you are interning sucks. Give it 100 % and take what you can from it. Read forums and strength sites like

• Obviously

There are so many great sites out there.
Also put your self out there, don’t be shy talk to people. Introduce your self to trainers from all over. They want to learn just as much as a young trainer. In the end we are all nerds for the field and look for any new edge and knowledge to make themselves a better coach. It’s a small Circle of friends, make sure you squeeze your way in that circle.

RB: Jaime, thank you so much for your time. Where can my readers find out more about you?

JR: You can find me at . Also I have a blog that I recently started a few months back. When I have time between work and my family I get on and write about sports, research, training, and work outs I feel will get the average guy as well as athlete stronger. The Blog is . Also I have a youtube Site

Thank you Robbie again and keep up the great work with your blog.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Training for the wheelchair race!!

Everytime I see guys in a gym it is like their they are training for a wheelchair race. All they do is one useless arm exercise after another. When will the day come when you walk into the gym and you see guys actually training their little brittle legs?? Imagine that!!

Training for a Wheelchair race?

Think about when do you ever hear young lads say, "I was in the gym yesterday and I just slaughtered my legs out of it", or "I want to get bigger stronger Legs"!No lads just gravited toward the bench, bicep curls, and sit ups. Well sorry ladies, but unfortunlately we don't use our arms to run. But in fairness just doing the bench, bicep curls and sits ups are not that bad (huh)? Thats if your goal is shit posture, shoulder problems, back problems, and to stay weak!

When will guys figure out that to get strong and bulid size you need to do heavy compound lifts CONSISENTLY. Deadlifts, Squats, Split Squats, Lunges, Chins, Bench, Push Ups, Rows, Overhead presses. Notice there is no pink dumbbell isolation exercise mention there (ie, curls, tricep extensions). Most guys just have a SERVRE CASE OF WEAKNESS, and badly need to start incorporating these lifts into their programs in a progressive manner.

Another thing our little weaklings need to recogonise also, is that the squat rack is might to be used for..... what for it..... SQUATTING, and its variations. So please, stop curling in the rack!!

Down with this sort of thing!!

So the moral of the story is, if you want to get strong and put on some size also. you need to start training your WHOLE body. Really hammer you LOWER body, and upper back in the process, and you will be ahead of 99% of guys out there.

This is what REAL training should look like!!

Stay Strong,


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Arguing for argument's sake!

Lately I am seeing a lot of people in our industry writing rants on certain topics, like the FMS, foam rolling, mobility work, and breathing techniques.

Now I have nothing against people disagreeing, or questioning certain techniques and methods. Actually I am all for this, as this is how a lot of us continue to learn.

But what I do that issue with is 1). People slating techniques that they don't understand or 2). Slating coaches for using certain techniques and methods when they do know how a particularly individual is applying these techniques.

Lets take the FMS. People argue that it alone is not a comprehensive assessment. To this I agree. But 1). The FMS is NOT an assesssment, its a screen, and 2). Gray has stated on numerous occasions that the FMS is just ONE piece of the puzzle. I think we would all agree on this. So why are we arguing??

How about breathing techniques? Some coaches are getting piss off when other coaches start talking about breathing. Again lets get a little perspective here. Nobody has their athletes doing 1 hour sessions of diaphragmatic breathing. It is something that is being utilized for only a FEW MINUTES of a session. Now is it helping? Well if we think that it has benefit, and we know that it can't negatively affect our athltetes and it takes little time away from training, then what are we arguing about?

Lets take foam rolling. Some say its not a warm up. Thats right its not a warm up. No one ever say it was the warm up. It is part of an overall thought process. Now even if foam rolling isn't achieving what we initial thought it was, I refer back to my point in the previous paragraph. If we think it may have a benefit with no negative side effects, and its takes little time away from the overall training process then way not try it at least. Again what is the argument?

At the end of the day there are many whys to skin a cat. But lets stop arguing for arguments sake. Sure it can make for some interesting blog posts, and interviews, but when it comes down to it I think we nearly all agree with 95% of everything that we all do. Even the 5% that we do not, I would venture to say that if we were actually face to face and discussed our thought processes behind certain things, we would even come to an agreement.

Stay Strong,

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Squat or Deadlift?

To squat or to deadlift? If you could only choose one of them, which would you choose?

For me I would choose the deadlift, and here are my reasons.

1. A deadlift has no preceding eccentric contraction. Therefore its carryover to the initial few steps in acceleration is high.

2. You get more band for your buck with a deadlift, as you also get upper back work, shoulder work, and grip work.

3. Nearly all athletes need more posterior chain work

4. Deadlifts do not require a spotter

5. For in-season programs the fact the deadlifts do not have a big eccentric component is a good thing from a muscle soreness, and recovery standpoint.

6. Many athletes with bad shoulders cannot squat (with a straight bar anyway), but can nearly always deadlift as the arm is by the side.

7. Deadlifts are a great for rehabbing shoulders

8. Athletes with poor ankle mobility are poor squatters, but can they can still perfrom a deadlift with good form as ankle mobility isn't a hugh limiting factor. This is due to a more vertical tibia (or closer to vertical) position

There eight reasons why I would pick the deadlift over the squat. Now DO NOT get me wrong here, I love squats. My athltetes squat in the off-season. But if I had to choose between a squat or deadlift, I am picking the deadlift everytime.

Remember this is only my opinion. If you perfer to squat, and you are getting great results, who I am to argue. As long as you have a sound rationale for doing what you do, I have no problem with your program choices. Man I sound like Rob Panariello!!

So which one would you choose?

Stay Strong,