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.





5 Things You Should Do Every Day

I don't care if it is your max effort day, your cardio day, your cheat day, your deload day, or your mother's birthday.

There are 5 Things That You Need To Do Every Day so you can stay healthy, jacked up, and mobile.

1. Perform Self Myofascial Release (SMR)

How do you expect to move big weight if you are always sore and stiff?

Perform SMR with a foam roller every night right before you go to bed.
Not only does it help your muscles the next morning, it will also help you sleep better that night.


The best $20 you will ever spend.

2. Perform Hip Hinges

Think about all of the powerful movements you perform that involve some form of hip hinge.

The hang clean, the snatch, the vertical jump, the squat ....

In each one of these movements, the #1 limiting factor is the athlete's ability to hinge his hips backward properly.

The best way to improve this limiting factor --- perform some form of hip hinge every day.

My personal favorite hip hinge movement is light load good mornings.

Hip Hinge with a Good Morning

3. Drink a Gallon of Water

It keeps you hydrated.

It keeps your organs healthy.

It helps you control body fat.

Enough said.
Don't Be Ashamed To Do This At Work

4. Actively Work On Your Posture



Make a concerted effort to walk with your chest out, your shoulders back and your head held high.
I would even go so far as to make the same effort while you are sitting down.

Why?

Good posture helps you breathe better, it reduces stress on your back, it helps improve self-confidence, and it reduces neck pain.

Most importantly, it helps strengthen your core and upper back.

In turn, this will help you look leaner, lift more, and not get mistaken for the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

"I Always Slouched As A Boy"
5. Dorsiflex Your Feet

Even me, the guy who advocates training with minimal footwear, must perform additional dorsiflexion throughout the day.
While I wear Vibram Five Fingers or Nike Minimus in the gym, I spend a good portion of the rest of my day walking around a chemical plant in construction boots.

To compensate for that, I will actively work on performing dorsiflexion while I am sitting at my desk or watching TV with my wife.

If your life is anything like mine, I recommend you do the same.



Challenge

While each of these things sound simple, I highly doubt that any of you are actively doing any of these things every single day.

For the next week, I challenge you to pick one and do it every day.

After the 7th day, post a comment and let me know how much different you feel and look.
(Make sure you change nothing else but this one thing.)

I guarantee you will see major results.

Now ... imagine what it will be like when you do all 5.

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





This Is Why I Coach

"I appreciate the patience you have had with me. I know I am not nearly as strong as these other guys, but believe me when I say it, I try to give it all I can at all times. I want to prove to myself I can push myself to my limits with these athletes and then beyond and you're helping me do just that. I want to kill it the rest of the way. I know you do everything you can to get the best out of us and I will do just that in return."

This is the email I received from James Uske.

He's 5' 5" and 150 lbs.

He does not play any competitive sport.

And he's tough as hell.



It's not easy for "normal" people to hang with our college athletes. These guys are super strong and partially insane.

James did not back down for a minute.

In 3 short months, he made HUGE gains:

  • Bench Press: 35lbs (195 to 230)
  • Deadlift: 15lbs (245 to 260)
  • Pull-Ups: 12 reps (12 to 24)
He also put on 5lbs while losing almost 2% body fat.

To me, this is what Advanced Training is all about.






It's about having the courage to train with guys who are way stronger than you.

It's about committing yourself to become better than what you already are.

It's about pushing yourself way beyond your "potential".

This is why I coach....



Now... I want you all to do 3 things.

1. Go back to the beginning of this post and read James' email again. I bet the parts I underlined will mean much more than they did the first time you read them.

2. Watch the video of James performing Gorilla-Ups below. They look easy but they are brutal.

3. Get yourself to a gym and see if you can do them with the same form for the same number of reps. (Good luck).





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 Events

As always, the Toughman Competition lived up to its name.




Only 7 of the 16 competitors finished in under 3 minutes and one tapped out.

What made this year different from the previous years is that there was no break between events.

Sled Drag and Pull

Each athlete had to start by dragging 170lb sled 20 yards.


After 20 yards, they would have to turn and backpedal another 20.



The intent of this event was to focus on both speed in dexterity.

For one, how fast could you run while dragging 170lbs behind you.

And secondly, how skilled are you to turn around, reset the chains, and pull it another 20 yards.

40 Yard Farmer's Walk

After finishing the first event, the athlete immediately moved to the 40 yard farmer's walk.

A traditional farmer's walk is performed with only one hand carrying the loaded device, but we gave the athlete the option to use two hands if they wanted to.  (It should be noted that any athlete who used two hands did not finish in the top ten. From my experience, using two hands does not allow you to move at optimal speed in this event.)




The focus of this event was on both hand strength and stabilization.

The hand strength portion is obvious. If don't have strong hands, you have no shot of carrying this thing across a field.

As for stabilization, this is really tested by only using one farmer's walk bar. By having only one side of your body loaded, you have to stabilize your entire core to keep from tipping over.

To make it worse, you have to maintain this stabilization while moving the farmer's walk from one side of the field to the other.

(If you ever had sore obliques after performing heavy farmer's walks, now you know why).


The Prowler Shuttle

Traditionally, "The Prowler" (aka "The Predator") has always been the most feared event during the Toughman.

In the past, we loaded The Prowler with 90lbs and performed a 100 yard shuttle in increments of 25 yards.

This year, we loaded it with 100lbs and performed an 80 yard shuttle.

Given that we had no breaks, I wanted to trim some yardage off the shuttle. (which is why we only went 80 yards)

Having said that, I added some extra weight to keep our guys honest. (which is why we made it 100lbs as opposed to 90)




As you can see from the picture above The Prowler has two sets of handles - the high handles and the low handles.

We went 20 yards with the high handles, returned 20 yards with the low handles, then went back another 40 with the high handles.

The high handles are traditionally much easier for the athlete to push.

It is the low handles that usually destroy the athlete.

If you don't get low enough, your body weight actually starts to press down on The Prowler.

Now you have to push the 100lbs, The Prowler, and whatever weight your body is forcing downward.
Clearly, this is where the fun stops.



40 Yard Reverse Sliders

Yes ... these are the things you use to move furniture.



In this event, the athlete places the sliders under his feet and uses his hands to push himself 40 yards across the field.



This event requires extreme upper body and core strength.

In addition, you have to maintain control or the sliders will slip out from under your feet.

The worst thing you can ever do in this event is stop.

Once you lose momentum, it is very, very hard to get started again.

If you asked our athletes, almost all of them would say this was the toughest part of the competition.
(So much for "The Predator")

Wrap-Up

In the next post, I will share the actual results of the competition.

Until then, enjoy the highlight video.



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?