30 Things I Learned Since I Was 30 (Part I)

I feel like I have learned more in the last 3 years than I did in the first 30.

Since I turned 33 this week, I decided to provide you guys with a little something extra in honor of my birthday.

Having said that, I would like to share with you a list of 30 things that I have learned since I was 30.

30 Things I Leaned Since I Was 30

1. Less is more. The less time my athletes spend in the gym, the more they want to come back and destroy their next training session. If you are in the gym for over an hour, you are either wasting time talking or spending too much time looking at yourself in the mirror. If you are a coach who keeps his athletes on the field over 2 hours, you need to plan better.

2. Being sore is not a sign of a great training session.

3. High School seniors don't get it. Apparently things like driving a car, going to graduation parties, and going to the Senior Prom take way more priority than taking the time to train for the next level. I train over 20 athletes right now and only one of them is in high school. (He's only a junior, so lets see what happens next year.)

4. Getting a massage does not make you "soft."

5. If you only have $20 left in your wallet, use it to buy a foam roller.

6. Pre-workout nutrition is just as important as post workout nutrition.

7. You can increase your squat or deadlift max by up to 30% without getting any stronger, simply by improving your ankle and hip mobility.

8You don't need to keep all of your fingers on the barbell when you front squat. (I wish I knew this in college, when every rep of front squatting felt like someone was ripping my wrists off of my body.)

9.  If you want to bench more, you need to row more. (Big back = big bench)

10. You can never work enough on improving the ability to dorsiflex your ankles.

11.  Your friends will give you a harder time for eating grilled chicken at dinner than they would for eating 3 ice cream sundaes.

12. Performing agility drills over bags and ladders will not make you faster

13. Running sprints helps you get jacked-up.

14. People would rather watch a girl sing a song about the days of the week more than all of the videos that I have or ever will post on YouTube combined.

15. Everybody used to bench 365 in high school. At least that is what they tell me before I watch them get buried by their first rep of 265. There must be kryptonite in our gym.

(To Be Continued .....)

    The 2.5 Minute Warm-Up (a.k.a "The Band Warm-Up")

    The mere mention of "The Band Warm-Up" can make even the toughest of men want to cry.

    While it only lasts about 2 and 1/2 minutes, it is brutal.

    Unfortunately for our athletes, I believe it is one of the best warm-up routines you could ever perform prior to a training session.

    What is this "band warm-up", and what makes it so great / brutal?

    The Movements:
    • Front Raise x 10
    • Overhead Press x 10
    • Goodmorning x 10
    • Squat & Press x 10
    • Side Lunge & Press x 5 each leg
    • Reverse Lunge & Press x 5 each leg

    Why It Is Great:

    • It is only 2 and 1/2 minutes
    • It incorporates overhead movements (which improve core stability and shoulder retraction)
    • It incorporates single leg movements (which address muscular imbalances)
    • It utilizes accommodating resistance (via the MTS bands)
    • It is only 2 and 1/2 minutes (which is 1 and 1/2 minutes shorter than our 4 Minute Warm-Up)
    Why It Is Brutal:
    • There are no breaks
    • You are using MTS Bands 

    The Video:

    I have enclosed a sample video of me performing "The Band Warm-Up." 

    I have to admit that I did my best to avoid embarrassment on the internet by acting as if I was not completely fatigued by the end of the routine.

    For those of you that would question how hard this warm-up actually is, I invite you to try it.

    (Unless, of course, you are "that guy" who usually warms-up by taking a 5lb dumbbell and swinging it around for five minutes. If you are "that guy", I highly recommend that you consult your physician before trying this.)

    So Your Squat Depth is an Embarrassment?

    In Death to the Squat?, I talked about how I was removing the back squat from our Power Points system.

    My main reason is that all athletes do not have equal ability to reach the same depth on their squat.

    I am not saying that this is acceptable, but I am saying that this fact alone is enough to make me want to remove squatting from our test days.

    The last thing I want is an athlete hurting his lower back because he lost his arch while trying to get to a depth he currently is not physically capable of achieving.

    I put an emphasis on the word currently, because there are quite a few ways to improve mobility.

    Coincidentally, after I wrote Death to the Squat?,, someone posted the very good question:

    "How do you help your clients increase their squat mobility / flexibility?"

    After a mere six months, I decided to answer.

    One key way to help safely achieve optimal squat depth is to improve your ankle mobility.

    The more mobility you have in your ankle, the deeper you will be able to squat without losing the arch in your lower back.

    I have provided 3 videos below which demonstrate simple, effective ankle mobility drills.

    If you struggle with your squat depth (and even if you don't), I highly recommend incorporating these movements into your normal routine.

    Its Like Throwing Paint on the Mona Lisa

    Here is the exact dialogue I had with one of my athletes two weeks ago:

    Athlete: "Coach, I accidentally used the wrong weight on my first set of deadlifts. Does that make me a bad guy because I did not follow your program"

    Me: "No. You are not a bad guy.  But what you did was like throwing paint on the Mona Lisa."

    Athlete: "Are you saying your program is like a work of art?"

    Me: "Yes"

    Am I really so cocky that I think my programs are a work of art?

    Sort of.....

    What my athletes get is a new program every fourth week they walk into the gym.

    What they don't see is the hours and hours I spent developing it.

    They don't understand that I start with the end in mind.

    They don't know that every rep of every set is geared toward getting them ready for their upcoming season.

    They don't know the questions I continually ask myself....

    • Is this weight heavy enough to challenge the athlete, but light enough not to burn them out?
    • Is the athlete skilled enough to perform this lift?
    • Is there enough balance in all of our lifts? Do we have 2x more push than we have pull?  Do we include too much quads and not enough glutes?
    • Is the volume on this set going to effect the load we can move on the next set?
    These are the things that literally keep me awake at night when its time to develop a new program.

    My wife normally tells me to "get over myself".

    But the truth is, I know how much these things matter.

    I know how much it means to your overall progress when you miss a rep, do too many reps, or progress too much too fast.

    So yes, I do believe that writing an effective program is an art.

    The next time you decide to bump up your weight or change the order of the exercises on your program, understand that you are "throwing paint on the Mona Lisa."

    How Not to Spend 5 Hours in the Gym

    At Advanced Training, we have gotten our lifting sessions down to under an hour.

    This includes the warm-up, the cool-down, the stretching, etc.

    One of the ways we are able to do this is through "combo" exercises.

    A "combo" exercise is one in which multiple movements are performed at the same time in an effort to work multiple body parts.

    While these movements should never replace your "big" lifts (like bench, deadlifts, or squats), they do work very well as "assistance" exercises.

    Below is a video of one of our athletes performing bicep curls + shoulder presses on a decline bench.

    Not only is he working his biceps and shoulders, he is also working his core via the stabilization required to hold himself in that position.

    If you have no interest in spending five hours in the gym, try incorporating these types of lifts into your training program.

    Humbled At The Jersey Shore

    For any athlete who trains like an animal, it has to be frustrating to go to a place like the Jersey Shore during the summer and see guys who are completely and totally jacked up.

    Here are some things I heard from my athletes this week after they spent the weekend at "The Shore"

    • "How do these guys get this big?"
    • "Not only are they huge, but they are also completely shredded."
    • "I don't understand why they are so much bigger than us. There is no way they train as hard as we do."

    And my personal favorite....

    • "I was humbled at the Jersey Shore this weekend."

    I completely understand their frustration.

    We train hard, we move huge weight, we sprint, we jump rope, we eat right, we do things the average person could never even think of doing without ending up seriously injured.

    Why are we not as big as those guys?

    Why do we feel like a giant mess when we stand next to them at a beach?

    Fortunately, there is an answer.

    When it comes to muscle size, there are four major things to be considered.
    1. Genetics
    2. Nutrition
    3. Training Style
    4. Recovery
    I will focus on training style today, as that is where I believe I have the most influence over the athletes I work with.

    (I am sure many of you would like me to focus on something like supplementation, specifically illegal supplementation, as the means to why these guys are so much bigger.

    I really don't want to do that, as I can't say for sure that every jacked up guy at the Jersey Shore is on "juice." In addition, even if you do take steroids, you still have to work hard in order to pack on big muscles.)

    Effect of Training Style on Muscle Growth (Hypertrophy):
    Hypertrophy can simply be defined as increasing muscle size.

    Depending on how you train, there are actually two types of hypertrophy.

    • Myofibrillar Hypertrophy
    • Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy

    Myofibrillar Hypertrophy:

    Myofibrillar Hypertrophy provides muscle growth via the increase in the number of contractile proteins in the myofibrils.

    This type of hypertrophy is obtained by LIFTING HEAVY WEIGHTS, normally in the range above 80% of your one repetition max.

    Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy:

    Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy provides muscle growth by increasing the volume of the non-contractile muscle cell fluid in the muscle called sarcoplasm.

    This type of hypertrophy is obtained by LIFTING MODERATE WEIGHTS IN HIGH VOLUMES, normally in the range above 12 repetitions.

    What Does This Mean in English?

    To keep this as simple as possible....

    If you train with lighter loads at higher reps (sarcoplasmic), you will get bigger than if you trained with higher loads at less reps (myofibrillar).

    Unfortunately, you will not get as strong using these lighter loads.

    What does this have to do with the guys at the Jersey Shore being Bigger than Advanced Training Athletes?

    At Advanced Training, our programs are designed around performance enhancement.

    While we do incorporate some light load / high volume movements, we center our training sessions around power (heavy loads at low reps), explosion (light loads performed explosively at low reps), and injury prevention (mobility / stabilization drills).

    The Sad Truth

    Training the way we do, we will never be as jacked as the guys at Tiki Bar or D'Jais.

    On the flip side, there is a really good chance we will outperform them on any field, court, or rink.
    In addition, we have a fighting chance of staying healthy in the process.

    (How many jacked up guys at Seaside have had or will need surgery on their shoulders or knees?)

    We have had a handful of these "Jersey Shore" guys come train with us.

    None of them have lasted more than two months.

    I don't blame them.

    What would you rather do, barbell curls or chaos reverse overhead lunges?

    If you are the type of guy who prefers barbell curls, I prefer that you don't train with us anyway.

    We need the space in the squat rack.