Stretch to Lose

Every now and again, I let our athletes pick their own warm-up prior to a training session.

And every now and again, a little piece of me dies.

Why?

Without fail, one of them decides to perform some type of a static stretch.

Kids Making Themselves Worse

You would think that the athlete would know better.

You would think they would be tired of hearing me preach about the negative effects of static stretching prior to activity.

Me Preaching About the Evils of the Static Stretch

Nope.


COACHES ARE WORSE

What makes the situation much worse, is that COACHES are even bigger culprits of this static stretching epidemic. (That's right, I am calling it an epidemic).

As a high school football coach, I always look over to the other side of the field to see how the other team is warming-up during pre-game.

99% of the time I see this.


Why would a coach still make his players do this, even if it puts his team at a disadvantage?

I honestly cannot think of a legitimate reason - especially with all of the sound information on this topic that is readily available.

Regardless, this is still some of the garbage I hear:

"I want more time to talk to my players before a game"

"Stretch time is my only time to collect my thoughts on the field"

"The parents expect us to static stretch. What if a kid gets hurt?"

"This is the way football teams have always done it."

Old-Timers Making Themselves Worse

Unfortunately, not one of these excuses will help your athletes better prepare for competition.
The only thing it will do is make them worse.

Why Did I Static Stretch Before the Game?

But Coach, didn't you write about this already in Your Coach Is Ruining Your Career?

Yes I did.

So why are you writing about it again?

1. Because people still don't get it.

2. Because I got fired up by an article I read this morning in the National Strength and Conditioning Journal that talked about this exact same topic.

To me, the best part of the article was where they made it very simple:

"The current recommendations for stretching practices indicate that STATIC STRETCHING BEFORE VIGOROUS ACTIVITY IS DETRIMENTAL and SHOULD BE REPLACED WITH A DYNAMIC STRETCH ROUNTINE."
- Bruce Craig, "Preactivity Stretching Research and Current Coaching Practices: Why the Disconnect?", National Strength and Conditioning Journal, Volume 34, Number 5, October 2012

Stay Tuned:

I am not stating that static stretching is always a bad thing.
I am simply stating that it should not be done prior to activity.

So when should it be done?

That will be covered in my next article.

Related Articles:

Your Coach Is Ruining Your Career

The 4 Minute Warm-Up

The 2.5 Minute Warm-Up

5 Things That Really Bother Me


I have not blogged in a while, so I decided to get a few things off of my chest.

If you think any of the points below are about YOU

.... THEY ARE!

If you are offended

... GOOD!

Take it to heart and make yourself better.

5 Things That Really Bother Me

1. Pretenders


A pretender is someone who TALKS a good game, but does not take any ACTION to back it up.


I want to train with you Coach...


Stop telling me you WANT to train and then never show up.
Stop telling me you WANT to play college ball and then choose to sleep rather than make your morning lift.

Just be honest with yourself and admit you want to be average.


Want to be Average ... Sleep In.

2. CrossFit




Every time someone says, "You should do CrossFit!", I immediately respond with "YOU should do Crossfit".

Why?

If someone is telling ME to do Crossfit, they clearly do not like me very much.
Either that, or they don't know me well enough to tell me what I should be doing.




I train athletes to make them better at their sport.

I don't care how many hang cleans they can do in 10 minute circuit.

In fact, the more you can do, the less I am impressed.


3. How Much You Used To Do ....

I don't care how much you used to squat.

I only care about what you can do right now.

Getting older does not mean you have to deteriorate into nothing.

Look at this guy...




4. My Friends

This one actually references #11 on "30 Things I Learned Since I Was 30"

I met up with my high school buddies at a local restaurant last night for a Christmas Party.

I will let you fill in the blanks as to what they called me when I ordered a Grilled Chicken Salad for dinner.



So much for surrounding yourself with people that will make you better.

5. Throwing Paint on the Mona Lisa




With as much as I have talked about this type of thing, you would think that the athletes I trained would actually listen to what I tell them.

Nope ...

Instead of just executing their prescribed training program (the one I spend hours developing and reviewing), they decide to go out on their own and do "extra" work.

Luckily, they are "smart" enough to do value added things like long distance running or extra sets of heavy bench press.

Have we learned nothing???

Less is more ...

Grab a foam roller and stop destroying your body.





Now You Can't Leave

"Now you's can't leave" is one of the greatest quotes from any movie ... ever ...


If you have not seen this, I feel bad for you.

(Side Note: I challenge any one of you to find either a YouTube video or even a good picture from this scene in "A Bronx Tale." The best I could do is the image below, which pretty much stinks.)


These are the guys that can't leave.

So what does this quote have to do with Advanced Training?

Until a month ago, I would have said, "Absolutely nothing."
It wasn't until I received a letter from an athlete that I hadn't trained in two years that I made the connection.

While I always preached about how great our training environment was inside the gym, I never really paid attention to the impact it made on our athletes after they left.

To make a long story very short, what we do at Advanced Training is more than "working out."

It's actually a way of life.

It's why we never have a bad training session.

It's why athletes come back to train after they have graduated from college.



It's why those who don't "believe" quit.

It's why those who "get-it" never really leave.

Even if they want to... THEY CAN'T.





Without further adieu, enclosed is the letter from the athlete mentioned above, Steve Armato.
I trained Steve from 2006 until 2010.

He put his training to good use - by winning an NEC championship in his senior year of College.

Steve is the one pointing at a guy doing curls in a squat rack

Because of his dedication to the program, he was the first person I ever put on YouTube back in 2009.






To keep the spirit of the letter, I left it in it's original format.
(I did have to make some minor modifications to keep this blog PG13.)


"Once You’re In Advanced Training, You Never Really Leave"


Coach, I know you haven’t heard from me in a while and I apologize for that but this is something I’ve wanted to write for a very long time. Although I don’t participate in Advanced Training anymore, I still follow the same workouts as if I was in Advanced Training.

Why? Because whenever I feel like quitting, dogging it, or just going through the motions I always hear you screaming at me in the back of my head.

Telling me how you’re going to kick me out of the program if I don’t get this rep because I was up late the night before my max day. 

Screaming at me at the top of your lungs in an empty gym at 5am with only us there asking me how bad I want it. 

Stuff like that will always be with me. 

What will also always be with me? Rule number one.

For those that don’t remember what rule number one is, it was said to us on day one in the boxing room upstairs at Atlas. Coach Mahoney looked at all of us and said, “Rule number one, everybody’s an @-ho!e.” This couldn’t be more true.

“What’s with that overhead stuff it doesn’t really do anything for you.” Yeah, because your awful form when you bench and don’t go all the way down is really working out for you bro. 

Or my personal favorite of when it’s time to do chaos overhead anything, “You know you don’t have weight on the other side of that.” I had no idea man, thanks for reminding me. Apparently, I’m not only stupid but I’m also blind.

These are the things you overlook when you’re at Advanced Training because Coach Mahoney is always in your ear, and everyone there knows what they’re doing. 

There are no meathead curl sessions in the corner and there are no guys looking in the mirror and talking on their cell phones as they do a forearm workout.

There is nothing better than getting crazy looks from people who just don’t understand what training is all about. Advanced Training will always be with me no matter where I go. Because once you’re in, you never really leave.

Steve Armato





The Proof is in the Pudding

Every trainer will tell you how great his program is, how many athletes he's trained, and how many different types of training tools he has like ropes, chains, tires, and kettlebells.

Unfortunately, most trainers are not very good and they never really help their athletes get results.

Having said that, how can I prove to YOU how effective our training program is?
How could I make YOU believe you would be wasting your time going somewhere or doing anything else.

I guess the "Proof is in the Pudding."





Below are examples of the gains our athletes made over our 3 month summer training session.
Please note, almost every person is a seasoned athlete with a minimum of five years training experience.

For those of you that don't know, it is much harder to get improvements from seasoned athletes than it is from young teenagers, whose strength gains double simply because they are alive.

Anything with a "*" indicates that it set a new Advanced Training Record.


BENCH PRESS: 4 Biggest Gains




  • Morano:   385 to 435* (50lb gain)
  • Grande:    240 to 275   (35lb gain)
  • Uske:        195 to 230   (35lb gain)
  • Amerosi:   265 to 290   (25lb gain)


DEADLIFT: 4 Biggest Gains


  • Mulligan:    505 to 545*  (40lb gain)
  • E.Heedles:  395 to 435    (40lb gain)
  • Grande:      355 to 395    (40lb gain)
  • Morano:     405 to 435    (30lb gain)

Pull-Ups: 4 Biggest Gains


  • Kuyan:       19 to 35        (16 rep gain)
  • E.Heedles:  27 to 42*   (15 rep gain)
  • Morano:      22 to 34    (12 rep gain)
  • Uske:          12 to 24     (12 rep gain)

Broad Jump: 4 Biggest Gains




  • Kuyan:          106" to 116"        (10" gain)
  • Morano:        94" to 100.5"    (6.5" gain)
  • E. Heedles:   106" to 111.5"   (5.5" gain)
  • Mulligan:       114" to 118"     (4.0" gain)

Toughman 2012: The Results


In the spirit of the 2012 Olympics, I am going to give the results of the 2012 Advanced Training Toughman in the fashion of bronze, silver and gold medalists.


For a full review of each of the 4 events in the Toughman, CLICK HERE.

Bronze Metal





The Bronze Metal is awarded to Arthur Kuyan, who finished all 4 events in 2 minutes and 26 seconds.




This 3rd place finish is a HUGE improvement for Kuyan, as he finished 12th overall in the 2011 Toughman.

To put things in perspective, in 2011 he finished dead last (18th out of 18) in Sliders and 14th in the Prowler Shuttle.

He took longer to finish both of those events in 2011, then he did to complete all 4 events in 2012.

He even went so far as to buy his own pair of sliders to train for this year's Toughman.

Silver Metal




The Silver Medal is awarded to Rob Mulligan, who finished all 4 events in 2 minutes and 13 seconds.



To say this was a HUGE improvement for Rob would be an understatement.

In 2011, Rob actually tapped out of the competition.

Despite finishing 5th overall on The Prowler Shuttle, he was so drained he could not move on to the next event.

Rob was so humiliated by his 2011 performance, he actually went out and bought a prowler of his own.



I am not sure how true this is, but there are rumors floating around that he made his girlfriend train with him on The Prowler the day before the event. To make it worse, they were actually on vacation at the Jersey Shore.


This is not the way to a girl's heart

(This is not actually Rob's girlfriend. Nevertheless, it still bothers me that she is pushing almost the same weight we were.)

Gold Metal



The Gold Medal is awarded to Eric Heedles, who finished with the fastest time of 2 minutes and 12 seconds for all 4 events.


2012 Toughman Champ

Heedles' victory in 2012 should not come as a surprise to too many people.

He finished 5th overall in 2011, and was projected to finish 1st in 2012 during a formalized poll taken by the athletes in Advanced Training.

In addition, he consistently displayed his ability to compete by going 8-0 in the 2012 Challenge.

Unfortunately, I do not have any crazy stories of Eric forcing his grandmother to do farmer's walks or of him performing Sled Drags on Ocean Ave in Belmar.

Simply put, he just worked real hard.

As he puts it,  "It took me 21 years to get this body."

Coach's Note:
If you are any good at math, you will see that Heedles and Mulligan were separated by less than 2 seconds.

Had Heedles paused to take one more breath, we would all be forcing our girlfriends to push The Prowler with us at the Jersey Shore.

Honorable Mention

  • Ryne Reyes - Ryne finished 4th overall, falling less than 2 seconds short of the 3rd place finisher - Arthur Kuyan. The first day I ever met Ryne, we had an intense Prowler session. He performed so poorly, I honestly thought I would never, ever see him again. Coincidentally, when he came back to train with us again this year (after more than a year away from the program), the first thing we did was another Prowler session.  I guess all of those sessions paid off.




  • Ralph Zerilli - Ralph finished 1 second behind Ryne, putting him in 5th place overall. If I had to describe Ralph with one word, that word would be "BEAST". With some more formalized training, I believe he can move into a top 3 spot in next year's competition.





Purple Heart

My Sled
The ring which holds the chains on my sled broke during the competition.

Fortunately, the sled is also a fierce competitor and refused to give up without a fight.

We "taped it up" and had it back on the field in a matter of minutes.


All the Stats

16 men were tough enough to compete in the 2012 Advanced Training Toughman.
It goes without saying that this is not for everybody.

To see each of their overall times, CLICK HERE.







Toughman 2012: The Preview

For the first time ever, I am revealing the Toughman Format before the actual Event.

There are 4 Events:

  • 1 Arm Farmer's Walk
  • Sled Drag and Pull
  • Prowler Shuttle 
  • Reverse Sliders
There are NO breaks between events.


The person with the lowest time wins.

It's that simple.

Or is it ....



Actual 2012 Toughman Event



Here are how the guys ranked each other.

Who Will Win?



The Old Bull and The Young Bull


I am sure many of you have heard the story of the Old Bull vs the Young Bull. 
Due to our audience, I am slightly changing both the characters and the plot.

Either way, the moral of the story is still the same.


High on top of a mountain sat an old lion and his young cub.




As the cub looked down the mountain, he spotted a bunch of zebras.



The cub said to his father, "Hey dad, let's run down the mountain and eat one of those zebras."



The lion calmly responded to his son, "Why don't we walk down there and eat them all?"




WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH STRENGTH TRAINING?

The Cub

In the gym setting, the young cub is the athlete who constantly rushes to add more weight.




He overlooks technique, sacrifices range of motion, and tries to "max out" every time he steps into the gym.

This young cub either gets injured or burns out very quickly.


The Lion

The lion is the athlete who gradually adds weight over time.



He understands that while learning a new lift, it is not "soft" to use a lighter weight.

He understands that you can still generate a great deal of force simply by moving light weight faster.

He incorporates regular de-load weeks into his training program.

The lion seldom gets injured and always feels "fresh".


Cubs at Advanced Training

Advanced Training certainly has its fair share of cubs.



While the main goal of most trainers is to motivate their athletes to push themselves harder and harder, you cannot take that approach with a cub.

In all honestly, I feel like my role with the cub is to make sure he doesn't seriously hurt himself.

One minute he is using the weights you prescribed, the next he is trying to double his PR (personal record).

If I am not vigilant, things could get ugly.


Wrap-Up

Strength Training is a marathon, not a sprint.


Gradual progress is a much better option than quick gains followed by a long term injury.

For those of you in Advanced Training who are cubs, stop trying to throw paint on the Mona Lisa.




The Best Time of Day to Train

If you train in the morning, you burn 10x more calories ...



If you train in the afternoon, you have a 50% less chance of getting hurt ...



If you train at night, you will get 2x as strong ...



We heard all the rumors, but what are the facts?

What really is the best time of day to train???




The Data

The results of multiple studies have shown that the optimal time to train is in the early evening (approximately 6PM). It is at this time where muscle gain, fat loss, testosterone to cortisol ratios, and power production are the highest.

If you are interested in reading more about the studies, click on any of the links below.




The Data vs "Life"

Unfortunately for most of us, the data does not match real life.

What if your job / school does not allow you to train at 6PM?

What if your gym is packed at 6PM?



What if your job requires manual labor and by 6PM you are shot?

  


What if you are an early morning person?

What if you are a person who performs best late at night?





The Verdict

So what really is the best time of the day to train?

The real answer is the best time of the day that works for you - physically, emotionally, and socially.

Morning

Personally, I prefer to train first thing in the morning.

Not only am I more pumped up in the morning, but I also believe it provides the following benefits:

  • The gym is less crowded
    • Crowded gyms double workout length
  • It is cooler 
    • This is huge when training outside in the summer
  • It helps remove any stress or anxiety before going to work
    • If I knock out 30+ pull-ups, I could care less if someone cuts me off on Route 1.
  • It minimizes the chances of "life" getting in the way 
    • The only excuse for missing a morning workout is not getting up on time.

If you can't get out of bed and life allows you to train later in the day, don't even think about training in the morning.


Early Evening (6PM to 8:30PM)

When I was in college, I used to train in the early evening.

All my friends were there and it was a great time to socialize.

Unfortunately, all my friends were there and it was a great time to socialize.

I would be in the gym for over 2 hours and not get anything done.

Not to mention, I would get really frustrated trying to get into a squat rack while some guy was doing curls or having someone "steal" my weights while I was in the middle of a circuit.

Late Evening (After 8:30PM)

In my world, this is the second best time to train (if you cannot make it first thing in the morning).

Not only has the early evening crowd left, but you have had time to decompress after a stressful day of work / school.

(Being pumped up for a lift is good. Being stressed is bad. You don't want to be thinking about how annoying your boss is while you are performing a PR for deadlift.)

There are only a few risks to training very late at night.

  • "Life" happens and gets in your way of getting to the gym
  • You are so pumped from your training session that you can't get to sleep
    • This happens to me now, even when I am not training. I come home from coaching my athletes in the evening group and I end up sitting in bed all night thinking about how they killed the lift. 

Wrap-Up

If you take anything from this post, make it these two things:

  1. Find a time of day that works best for you
  2. Train consistently at that time

Special Note

If you do decide to train early in the morning, refrain from squatting heavy at the very beginning of your workout.

As the great Eric Cressey says:

"Because we’ve decompressed overnight, our spines are “superhydrated” when we first wake up in the morning; this places more stress on the ligaments and discs and less on the supporting musculature. As a little frame of reference, full flexion reduces buttressing strength against shear by 23-43% depending on the time of day – meaning that your spine might be 20% safer later in the day even if exercise selection is held constant. Give the spine a bit of time to “dehydrate” and you’ll be much better off."

At Advanced Training, we will not perform heavy squats early in the morning, unless we perform some stabilization / core activation work first.