What to Look for in a Strength Coach/Personal Trainer?

If you are just getting into the spirit of using a strength coach or personal trainer and want to know what to look for, hopefully I can offer some advice. I have been in this field for over 14 years and have seen a lot. I’ve traded new information with colleagues, and used mentors and libraries of information to learn what I now know. But the learning never stops! I am always seeking what is best for my clients.

Many people have asked me what to look for when hiring a strength coach or a personal trainer; I think the answers are the same in either situation.

I used to think education was the most important credential and trust me I believe this lays down the foundation of the science of personal training which is very important but not the only thing to look for.  I have seen many good coaches who don’t have a post-secondary degree have success but I have seen many more trainers who have a degree and then take a 2 day course and now think they are EXPERT personal trainers after one weekend!

Here are some of the attributes I think a client should look for:

Passion

I have just returned from a speaking engagement and workshop in cloudy southern California (June Gloom!) where a couple of things really stood out.   On the first day I had the pleasure of teaching 50 personal trainers about Functional Applied Speed Training for Power Systems.

I was overwhelmed and surprised by the passion and love for training and knowledge these coaches exhibited.  Some had come from as far as Canada and New York all the way to California for a full day of learning.  Right away (8 am) the audience was engaging and very receptive to learning.   Never once did I have to beg for a volunteer, in fact I had to beat them away with a stick when we went into the practical sessions.  This is what I call passion!

The next day I was fortunate to pair up with a good friend and great strength coach, Scott Prohaska.  He had arranged for the training of 15 athletes, ranging from Olympic bobsledders to division one football players to rep baseball players.  Coming into this I knew all these high -level athletes would have passion, but the passion from Scott was amazing.  Not only was he encouraging, but he tried every drill I put each athlete through.  At the end of the session he told me that he has brought in many people in to speak with his athletes and was pleased to report that his athletes told him that they enjoyed the day mainly due to my passion and the fact that I was right there in the trenches with them. This is what I love to do!

Later that day Scott and I went for dinner and discussed how many hours we work per week?
70-80 hours was the answer.  I have asked many professionals, in other fields, the same question and they often admitted to working similar long hours. When I ask why they work so many hours each week,  the common answer was not just that they have so much work to do, but rather, that they love what they do. You can actually see the true passion in their manner.  People who are successful  put the time into their field of work, but the ones who are truly dedicated, do it for the love of it! Their passion shows, in fact it oozes out of them – because you can not fake passion!  As one of my clients, JoAnn, says “Love it!!”

See my recent video on this point: Video I – Passion CLICK HERE

Leave your Ego at the Door!

This is probably one of the most important ideals, and one of the most difficult for many coaches to acquire.  I see big egos every time I travel and watch other coaches teach.

Let’s use my friend Scott for example. His strength is his ability to help his clients get strong . . . he does a GREAT job at this, but he understands his limitations, in this case, speed training. What did he do but seek out someone to help him and his athletes.   He left his ego at the door!

I did the same thing for some of my female clients when I discussed nutrition and training with top physique coach, Francine from Montreal. Her insight was tremendously productive in helping my female clients achieve success.   I often bring in nutrition experts such and Caryn from Biotics Nutrition to teach the SST staff, enabling us to better help our clients.  Again I remind you, your trainer should be able to leave ego at the door!

Remember the bottom line is that strength coaches and personal trainers are here to help you.  Whatever it takes, coaches should try to ensure the best for their clients.

We, as coaches and trainers, all like to boast about our clients’ successes and sometimes market them (before and after stories),  but remember this (and I tell all my parents and athletes this):  You are the one who committed yourself to the project and you must be the first one to put forth a great effort .  Our trainers are ready to work hard for you, and you must be ready to work too.   I just wrote up a program to encourage you to reach your goals . . . you and your trainer’s best efforts!

 

Continuing Search for Educational Resources

Consider the strength coaches who attended this past seminar. They took time from their busy schedule to spend a whole day to better their techniques.   They are determined in their search of new educational information.  Next time you are looking for a trainer/coach ask how many seminars and what other types of education they take part in. At SST, the minimum goal is to attend one new seminar each month to better ourselves. Even if I only discover one new thing, both my client and I will be better for it.

These last few weeks, I have been reading books, articles, DVDs and anything I can get my hands on regarding cancer and nutrition.  Why?  One of my clients has been diagnosed with cancer and I feel an obligation to do the best I can to help him get better.  This is the kind of dedication I look for when hiring strength coaches.

Another good friend, one of the most learned nutritionists in the world, John Berardi spends countless hours researching and discovering new information about the human body.  He has PASSION which leads him to the never-ending search of new and important information; the ongoing search for education!  Why do you think he is the best?   Passion and education!

So next time you are looking for a trainer/coach, don’t be afraid to ask them questions as if you’re conducting a job interview; which you, in fact, are.

See my recent video on this point: Video III – Continued Education CLICK HERE

Results

Yes, results are the bottom line. Why do you think the TV show, Biggest Loser is such a hit? People are getting results and that’s what everybody wants!  Most people want instant success. If a coach tells you that you can drop 20 pounds in two weeks, be very leery. Success takes a lot of work, as in anything worth while, and there are no short cuts. So don’t expect shortcuts in weight loss or training either.

Ask your coach or trainer what successes they have had, and be specific. If you are a female client ask about successes with female clients.  If you’re an athlete, ask about who the trainer has helped?

Do you see a theme here?  The best coaches all have passion; all exhibit a keen interest to learn more in an endless study of research; a good coach stashes his/her ego. All these combined will give the client excellent results.   Notice I did not mention certification?  The reason for this is that some trainer certifications are done on line or through a weekend course (some are actually pretty good) Now, this is better than nothing I guess, but imagine dealing with a doctor who received his accreditations at a weekend seminar.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to get certification but the trainer/coach must still continue their education throughout their lifetime.

So, when looking for a good coach/ trainer please ask these questions and remember you will only get the results you want from the effort you and your trainer put into it.  Some Coaches may only be working with you for two hours a week.  So get off the couch, get ready for summer, and find yourself a great coach!

See my recent video on this point: Video II – Results CLICK HERE

For more information and access to great articles and videos please visit www.sst.training

Larry Jusdanis

Owner, Sports Specific Training

www.sst.training

To Squat or to Power Clean, that is the question.

With Olympic lifting at an optimal high in training facilities, I ask the question – to squat or to power clean?

What’s better? I know any good strength coach like Charles Poliquin,  Dave Scott-McDowell and Scot Prohaska and will say it depends upon their program. I then ask, why do some coaches who I believe get their certificate over a weekend (more on this later, or see my article on What Makes A Good Strength Coach) preach power cleans for close to 100 reps when we know that this is a technical lift and high reps increase the breakdown of form?

Squats are a staple in many successful athletes’ programs, and for a reason: too MANY people are too weak for their speed. “Strength is an essential component of all human performance and its form development can no longer be neglected in the preparation of any athlete.”

As Mark Rippetoe states in Starting Strength, “Physical strength is the most important thing in life.”

What does that mean? People need to get under a bar and squat!

Squats are what I call a slower strength movement (obviously there are some speed variations, but for this purpose we will focus on back squats), or more at the maximal strength component of the strength speed continuum, aka force velocity curve.

As you can see in the diagram above, squats’ emphasis is on maximal strength and strength speed during dynamic training days. Some variations of squats that would emphasize different phases of the force velocity curve are:

Back / front / safety squats for maximal weight – maximal strength

Back / safety squats with bands – shifts more to strength speed

Back squats with bands – traditionally strength speed and depending upon load closer to speed- strength

Jump squats – dependent upon weight – at SST we emphasize speed during this exercise and have our athletes NEVER exceed 25% of bodyweight as their load for their day. If you are in doubt, ALWAYS aim for the lower weight and increase speed during this exercise

Cleans

The power clean and its variations… pound for pound, the power clean and cleans are great exercises when performed properly, and this is where the issue lies. Cleans are a component of Olympic lifting and a sport in itself, which many coaches and athletes neglect. It takes thousands of hours to become proficient. There are many qualified coaches who are able to coach this lift properly, but unfortunately there are way more that have no clue!

An example of this is a client of mine who won the North American Masters Javelin championship. After performing an assessment, I discovered many imbalances such as unable to fully squat, but what dumbfounded me more was that he told me his trainer had him proficient in power cleans. I said, “OK, go ahead and please show me with light weight.” he must have seen the sheer terror in my eyes after his rep and asked what was wrong. Quickly I said, “We have a few things to work on prior to cleaning again.”

The Clean is a tremendous exercise that falls in the strength-speed and speed-strength continuum dependent upon load. When coached properly, an athlete will see tremendous gains in athletic ability such as jumping and sprinting. Power cleans and variations of cleans are exercises that allow one to  “Jump with weight.” Sometimes as coaches and athletes we neglect this aspect, but the underlying premise is, it’s still a loaded jump.

One of my biggest concerns, and this is with many lifts, is that athletes want to lift more and more weight independent of their form. I prefer to use cleans as a speed strength exercise to improve jumps and speed only. With squats I shift our focus to more of a maximal strength and strength speed exercise. As stated earlier, most athletes are too weak for their speed, thus the focus should be on maximal strength and the king of this is squats and other variations.

Another variable to consider when comparing cleans to squats is that the power clean teaches more timing and synchronization of motor units, whereas the squat is more of a BEAR DOWN and sweat, or what I call “Get under the bar and lift” type of exercise. I know there are some more technicalities regarding the squat such as position, application of force, etc., but the rate of force production and synchronization is greater in the clean.

So let’s get back to our original question: to squat or to clean? What is right? It all depends. If you find you are too weak for your speed, then squats should be the focus. In fact, one of my top strength coaches, Antoine Hamelin, has a rule: if a person cannot squat their own body weight, they squat 3–4 times per week!

If you are too slow for your strength, then cleans may be the better choice. I witness this with athletes who have powerlifted. But do remember this: Athlete A, who squats 500 lbs, will always be able to clean more than an athlete who only squats 200 lbs.

In my next article I will discuss the importance of full squats for sprinting.

 

Verkohoshansky and Siff; Supertraining; Sixth edition – expanded version.

Larry Jusdanis is the owner of Sports Specific Training (SST) the #1 rated speed program in Canada! 

For more information about Sports Specific Training’s SUMMER speed  programs please

CLICK HERE

 

 

Road to D1 – Week 2

Hello all,

I hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful summer weather that we are having! We are very excited about the Road to Division 1 Football update.

If you haven’t seen the start of this journey please click here.  In this blog post we are going to explain the first phase Kyle has been preforming in his preparation or camp in August

Our focus was twofold- increase Kyles rate of force development and lower his body fat.  His program was mixture of Cluster sets to focus on his overall strength, and with our 60% max workout to increase his speed and quickness. The speed aspect of Kyle’s game was the part that needed most improving.  Kyle has days that he is lifting heavy (cluster) (90-100%) of his max and days were he is working speed and quick twitch working only (55-65%) of his max lift. Kyle is getting in 9 grueling workouts per week.  He is training currently two times a day at 8am and 3pm Monday-Thursday and one work out on Friday. To see the last 4 weeks of Kyle’s program PLEASE CLICK HERE

With Kyle hitting this much volume, his diet is so incredibly important. We needed him to lose body fat which he has, but maintain his strength levels. Kyle is on a low carb/high fat diet that has produced some great results.  He has slimmed down from the 315 to 290 pounds and looks very impressive. THE BIG MAN ALMOST HAS ABS POPPING THROUGH!

One of his concerns was not to lose strength…In fact his strength went up but more importantly his overall speed has increased!

Here are some impressive numbers from his body fat calculations. These results came from 8 weeks of work, 4 weeks of general preparation and 4 weeks on the first phase of his program.

  1. Down 24 pounds in 6 weeks
  2. Down 31.3% in the Subscap area (Back)
  3. Down 26.6% in the Midaxillary area (Side)
  4. Down 27.2% in the Supra-illiac area (Love Handle)
  5. Down 11.8% in the Umbilicus area (Belly)

Below you will see Kyle’s full body fat numbers. In 8 weeks he went from 23.6% to 21.4% in total body fat which is awesome! Take this stat in the average body fat for an NFL offensive lineman is about 24.8% so Kyle is keeping pace with pro athletes and let me tell you he is just as strong! I will also attach Kyle’s program, look out for the next update!

We are excited about our upcoming High performance summer camp following the same principals Kyle has worked on in the last 8 weeks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GET STRONG

MORE POWER

AND SPEED SPEED SPEED!!

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR OUR 8 WEEK PROGRAM

Posole, Mexican Casserole

Posole

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil
  • 4 lbs Chopped pork meat
  • 1 Yellow bell pepper chopped into large dice
  • 1 Orange bell pepper chopped large dice
  • 1 Red bell pepper chopped into large dice
  • 1 Large onion chopped
  • 2 tbsp Minced garlic
  • 1 can Salsa ranchero ancho chili mixture
  • 1 cup Chopped cilantro
  • 1 can Yellow hominy
  • 1 can White hominy
  • 1 sml can Tomato sauce
  • 3 cups Chicken broth
  • 1 tsp Roasted cumin
  • 1 tbsp Tex mex seasoning

toppings

  • shredded iceberg lettuce
  • sliced radishes
  • grated chedder cheese
  • chopped green onions
  • diced avacado

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚

  2. In a large dutch oven sauté the pork meat in batches to brown, the reason is for the pan not to be over crowded and end up boiling the meat. Browning adds flavor to the dish…

  3. Remove the meat and add the vegetables, reserving the garlic for the last few minutes to the pot to a light brown colour

  4. Please add in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil…place pot in oven and cook for 40 minutes

  5. Garnish with warm tortillas and lime wedges

Spanish Chicken and Rice

Spanish Chicken and Rice

Ingredients

Spanish sauce

  • 1 Can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 Jar of roasted red bell peppers
  • 1 tbsp Sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp Dried oregano
  • 1 tsp Roasted Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt & Pepper

Chicken and Rice

  • 8 Large Chicken thighs bone in
  • 2 cups Converted rice
  • 1 cup Spanish sauce for the rice remaining sauce to coast chicken before placing in oven
  • 3 cups Chicken broth
  • 1 Large onion roughly chopped
  • ½ cup Chopped green onions
  • ¼ cup Chopped flat leaf parsle

Instructions

Spanish sauce

  1. Blend tomatoes, peppers and garlic in a blender or food processor. You are aiming for a smooth sauce. Once blended add in the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
  2. Reserve sauce for adding to the rice and topping the chicken

Chicken and Rice

  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚

  2. -lightly grease a large baking dish that will hold all your items. ( Eg 9”x13” Pyrex dish)
  3. Season the chicken breasts with paprika and oregano, salt & pepper

  4. In a saute pan over medium high heat brown the Chicken thighs. Just brown and not to cook through.
  5. Remove chicken from pan, to be used later. Discard any excess fat from the saute pan, keeping 2 tbsps for cooking the onion

  6. With the reserved fat, saute the onions to light golden brown

  7. Add the rice into the saute pan with the onions and mix well. Lightly toasting the rice and scraping up any chicken bits in the pan, season with salt & pepper

  8. Add in the 1 cup of Spanish sauce and the chicken broth and bring to a simmer

  9. Add in the chopped green onion and parsley and stir into the rice

  10. Pour rice mixture into prepared dish, place the reserved chicken thighs on top of the meat. Carefully spoon the remaining Spanish sauce over each of the chicken thighs to coat evenly.

  11. Place dish into the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375˚ and cook for 30mins

  12. Remove dish from oven. Scatter some of the green onions on the top for appearance and if desired lightly drizzle over a little bit of olive oil

  13. Enjoy!!

Beef Short Ribs Ragu, with Kale

Beef Short Ribs Ragu, with Kale

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs Beef short ribs. Bone in
  • Salt & pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup of each
  • Mirepoix (equal parts, Onion, Carrots and Celery)
  • 1 tbsp Minced garlic
  • 1 cup Red Wine
  • **Optional: 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 3 cups Beef or Chicken stock
  • 2 Lg Cans Quality plum tomatoes crushed
  • 1 Sm Can Quality tomato paste
  • 2 cups Chopped kale (remove stem first before chopping leafy greens)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 (or 2) Packages ofFettuccini
  • Shaved Parmesan for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚

  2. Over medium high heat, in a large dutch oven place olive oil

  3. Season meat generously with salt and pepper and place into dutch oven to brown. Caramelizing the meat adds a ton of flavor so please don’t skip this step.

  4. Do not over crowd the pan, please do the browning in stages to maintain the heat
  5. Reserve browned meat separately and add the mirepoix to the dutch oven to sauté. Ideally, we are looking for a light caramelization. Near the end of this stage add in the minced garlic being careful not to overcook.

  6. Add crushed tomatoes to the dutch oven with the vegetables

  7. Add in the tomato paste and allow to cook for a few minutes to marry the ingredients together

  8. At this point add in the red wine, the stock and return the meat to the pot to cook. Bring everything to a simmer (light boil)

  9. Place into the preheated oven to cook for 3hours.

  10. Each hour remove from oven and stir so any meat on the top will not burn

  11. Once cooked. Allow to cool slightly so the rib bones can be removed. Please take the time to shred the meat

  12. Strain out the vegetables and add to the reserved shredded meat. At this point I would recommend removing as much grease from the remaining sauce. As it will detract from the taste, use a fat separator or spoon. I realize this seems like one step too many but the final product makes it worthwhile

  13. Add all ingredients together to complete the RAGU

  14. Please cook the chopped kale over medium high heat to wilt. Season with salt and pepper

  15. Cook pasta as package dictates

  16. Combine ingredients to finish your dish and top with shaved parmesan

Almond Crusted Roasted Cauliflower

Almond Crusted Roasted Cauliflower

Course Side Dish
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Almond meal
  • 1-3 teaspoons Garlic powder
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Medium head cauliflower
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Wash the cauliflower and remove the stem.
  2. Break the head into small florets.
  3. Break your eggs into a medium sized bowl and whisk with a fork until well beaten.
  4. Pour the almond meal into another medium sized bowl and stir in the garlic powder.
  5. Set up an assembly line.
  6. Dip the florets into the egg, being sure to coat them well.
  7. Then roll in the almond meal and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet for baking.
  8. Bake at 350 F for about 1 hour.
  9. Allow to cool for a bit before serving.

Recipe Notes

Depending on the size of your cauliflower, you may need a little more or a little less of the eggs and almonds. Play it by ear, this recipe is pretty versatile. Also note that while this recipe is a bit high in fat, it’s all from good sources of fat. Simply adjust your eating plan accordingly for the day.

Thanks to thegraciouspantry.com for this deliciousness!

Sheet Pan Salmon Dinner

Sheet Pan Salmon Dinner

Welcome SHEET PAN DINNERS! One pan with everything on it, one cook time, set it and forget it cooking, and clean-up like a breeze! These dinners are a miracle! One of my favourite one pan dinners is lemon, garlic salmon and veggies!
Course Dinner
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of wild-caught salmon cut into fillets
  • 1 bushel of asparagus
  • ½ tsp. dried dill 1tbsp of fresh dill
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 2-3 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ lemon thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven t 425F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper

  2. Wash and cut your veggies of choice, asparagus.
  3. Ensure if you are using a root vegetable, such as sweet potatoes, that you slice them very thin so they cook the same time as everything else on the pan.
  4. On one side of the sheet pan, spread all your veggies, drizzle with olive oil and seasonings
  5. I used garlic, salt and pepper
  6. On the second side of the sheet pan, place your salmon fillets, drizzle with olive oil and spices
  7. I used garlic, salt, pepper and dill
  8. Take lemon slices and place 1-2 on each salmon fillet
  9. If you do not have fresh lemon slices, sprinkle salmon fillets with some lemon juice instead.
  10. Place entire pan in the oven and forget it for 20 minutes!
  11. After 20 minutes, check the salmon for doneness. If it flakes easily with a fork and is no longer opaque, it is finished. At this point the veggies should be done as well. If you are using root veggies and they are not yet tender, you can return them to the oven for an extra 5-10 minutes until fork tender.

Recipe Notes

If you like this recipe it can be used with SO many different varieties of proteins, veggies and spices! Try it with chicken, steak or trout. Bell peppers, asparagus, carrots, broccoli. Maple Garlic, teriyaki, lime chili.
The possibilities are endless, delicious and easy!

Baked Omelette Breakfast

Baked Omelette Breakfast

This breakfast prep recipe not only packs a protein PUNCH but is also full of veggies, and makes mornings SO much easier. Once finished, this recipe can be divided, wrapped in parchment paper and frozen, so they are ready for a quick reheat on your busy weekday mornings. You can have the omelette heated up by itself or can make breakfast sandwiches by adding them to an English muffin; great for the kids to carry while running off to school!!
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 10

Ingredients

  • 1-2 tbsp of Organic Grass-fed Butter
  • ½ Onion chopped
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper chopped
  • 1 medium head of Broccoli chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of Garlic minced
  • 1 – 1 ½ cup of cooked Chicken cubed
  • ½ cup of shreddedCheddar Cheese
  • ½ cup of Milk or Milk Substitute
  • 12 Free-range Organic Eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a 10-inch baking dish with parchment paper
  2. Add butter to a large skillet over medium heat; cook garlic, onion, bell peppers, and broccoli until softened, about 5 minutes
  3. In a large bowl, beat all eggs and milk together. Can use whisk or hand mixer
  4. Stir in cheese, vegetable mixture and cubed chicken; season with salt and pepper to taste
  5. Pour mixture into prepared dish
  6. Bake until eggs are golden brown and puffy and solid in the middle; about 35-40 minutes.
  7. Time will vary depending on oven, I have had this recipe take as long as an hour to bake through

Recipe Notes

Serve on its own with chopped chives and avocado or on an English muffin for breakfast that moves with you! Serve fresh out of the oven to a crowd or freeze for easy breakfasts on the go. Good to freeze for 2-3 months. Wrap sectioned omelette in a damp paper towel, parchment paper and put into large Ziplock bag. To reheat, remove parchment paper, place in microwave with the paper towel on; reheat for about 60-90 seconds or until heated through. You can personalize the recipe with veggies and protein your family love. Some great substitutes are mushrooms, carrots, eggplant, spinach, green onion, asparagus, leeks, bacon, turkey, sausage, feta cheese, ham.