Like I have every morning for the past month, I woke up this morning at 6am. However, I wasn’t showering to head to class or to the golf course to caddy. Today, I was preparing to attend the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s New York State Clinic. This was my 3rd NSCA conference, and my 5th overall. After attending the Delaware and Connecticut State Clinics, the NYSAPERD Nassau Zone conference, and Perform Better’s Functional Training Summit, I feel like an old pro. I’ve been to 5 conferences in 6 months…and I can’t wait to go to more! Any-who, as expected there was a good deal of knowledebombing that occurred. I seriously doubt it would be possible to not learn anything at a conference, as there is always something that can be taken away from each lecture. Today there were 6 different speakers, and I certainly learned from each of them.
Maximizing Training Time for the High School Athlete – Chad Waelchli, MS, CSCS –
An awesome presentation. Maybe I liked it because I love talking about efficiency and figuring out how to get the most bang for your buck. Chad did just that! He explained the importance of coordinating teams when sharing facilities, such as the specificity of training surface. If all your teams run 5-10-5 agility drills, the basketball players should be doing so on the gym floor, while the soccer players should be doing it in their cleats out on the field. Not rocket science, but I definitely had one of those ‘oh, duh’ moments. Chad also explained his purposeful exclusion of in-season conditioning work. If a team is going to workout with their performance coach for 60-90 minutes, followed by running around outside with the team under the direction of their sports head coach, why would you have them run sprint intervals or do serious conditioning work inside? As long as you’re maintaining off-season conditioning levels, there’s no need to run them into the ground. Another important point that Chad made was about the education that the athletes receive. Here are the CW Fitness Education Points:
- Exercise is fun and stress relief.
- How to lift/train
- Why the lifts/training will improve their training
- What each lift/movement training segment is focusing on
- Basic Sport Nutrition
- How to eat, What to eat, When to eat, Amounts to eat
The last point that Chad made was that 99.9% of athletes will go pro in something other than sports. People need to learn behaviors and habits that will help them perform in their JV Soccer championships but also help them run around with their grandkids 50 years from now. With this education based approach, we’re guaranteed to make a positive difference. The take away point is this: Your Body is the most important thing you own! Staying healthy comes down to Proper Nutrition, Recovery Time, and Training Components.
Skill Training: The Art of Program Execution – Ted Recitas, NSCA-CPT –
Before the spring semester I knew very little about public speaking, and after completing an informative speaking class I grasp speech-giving as a learned skill not a born talent. Ted was certainly the most powerful speaker of the day, and his presentation was intriguing. While we have multiple periodization models for exercise, and people fret on the finer points of linear, non-linear, undulating, summation, and the like, the real progressions should be made with exercises. Ted advocates periodizing exercises, specifically with asymmetrical loads. In this way, you increase your proficiency at a given skill, and continue to challenge yourself by performing it in new situations. An example that he gave was this: “How much do you deadlift?” Crowd Response: “300lbs!” Ted’s rhetorical question: “If you moved 50lbs to the other side of the bar, would you still be able to do that?” The obvious answer is no, but the point that Ted was making is this: We seldom run into a situation where we need to pick up a load that is on a safe, stable, comfortable surface, where said load is entirely symmetrical and can easily fit into one’s hand, and where there aren’t any outside factors at play. While you clearly increase performance by training this way, we must remember that very few things are as precise as they are in a weight room, and we should train accordingly to optimize performance.
Reconditioning Principles for Injured Clients – Peter Ronai, MS, CSCS,*D –
While Peter made some very good points, a good number of them were focused on rehabilitative exercise, something that is outside of a personal trainer’s scope of practice. Seeing as I would like to eventually go in to physical therapy, and that I don’t like trainers very much anyway, I paid lots of attention! The presentation discussed the trainer’s roll in the rehabilitation of an injury, how the trainer must work with a physical therapist and M.D., and what the boundaries to practice are. Essentially, a personal trainer must work to maintain cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and neuromuscular functioning while the injured area is going through the repair cycle. Depending on the tissue injured this can be anywhere from 3 months (bone) to never (cartilage). With multiple tissue forms involved in every injury, recovery becomes a complicated process. As the presentation continued, I happened to think of ways to go about training the body while eliminating an injured area, and I find the possibilities highly intriguing. While the ‘maintenance’ aspect of physical fitness doesn’t seem very exciting, it is certainly necessary. That being said, I found myself highly interested in the physical therapy techniques that help allow for injury recovery.
Alright, so just because I’m from Strong Island doesn’t mean I go to the city all the time. In fact, I seldom visit the city, so when I do I tend to behave more like a tourist instead of a local. Now, how did I act like a tourist this time? Grand Central Terminal was about 2 blocks away from the Equinox the conference was held at, so I headed over there, made my way downstairs, and found a nice little pizzeria. $8 and 2 slices later (WHAT?!) I found myself a seat and pulled out the latest copy of The Journal Of Strength and Conditioning Research to read “Shoulder Injuries Attributed to Resistance Training: A Brief Review”. Yea, I’m nerdy about this stuff, but when I know everything there is possibly to know in the world… Anyways, it was nice to walk back through Grand Central staring at the ceiling, and back to Equinox for the second half.
It Takes a Team: Blending the Mindy/Body in Psychotherapy, A Case Study – Barbara Pfeffer, PsyD –
A very interesting presentation, because I don’t know how many psychologist present at strength and conditioning seminars. Dr. Pfeffer works with the mentally ill who are overweight, and is doing work using exercise as a psychotherapy modality. There is a ton of anecdotal information supporting exercise for enhancing mental health. However, there is far less for using exercise to repair mental health. Dr. Pfeffer explained the potential mechanisms that are in play, her first individual case that integrated exercise, and a pilot group of 7 mentally ill/overweight patients that are participating in a walk-and-talk therapy group. The ideas that were presented were highly applicable for a holistic health care approach.
Achieve the Mental Edge – Corey Crane, MA, CSCS –
There was a whole lot of information that Corey presented, but it can really be summed up in two words: “Think Positive.” Corey discussed an inverted U shaped curve of emotional arousal: With under-arousal and over-arousal, we’re bound to under perform, and we need to find our arousal set-point where we’ll perform the best. After this explanation, Corey went on to explain both relaxation and energizing/ psych up techniques. Seeing both techniques explained, and hearing the explanation of the proper utilization of techniques, allows you to use your mind as a performance enhancer instead of a mental enhancer. As Corey discussed under and over arousal, I thought of instances where I would require these mental techniques to achieve optimal arousal. The two that I thought of were 1RM testing at the gym, where I would have to psych myself up, and then the horrendous idea of skydiving which I plan on doing before the summer is over, which I will most certainly have to calm myself down for at least 3 days prior to the jump. Corey’s presentation, like Dr. Pfeffer’s, was almost immediately applicable to daily life.
Eating for Health and Performance – Heather Mangieri, MS, RD, LDN –
Mangieri’s presentation responded to common nutrition deficiencies that carry higher significance in the athletic population. The essential message of her presentation was that nutrition should be planned for overall health first, then tailored, if need be, to athletic performance. Just as John Berardi demonstrated in Rhode Island, nutrition must be prophylactic. If we eat for long term health and longevity, then we will also reach our performance demands. The best food for life is the best food for performance. If it’s a message in multiple presentations, it’s probably pretty important!
Now, without a doubt, I learned a great deal at the conference today. I always love going into the city, and I’ll be returning to the city as well as conferences as soon as possible. While it was a good day overall, I do need to make some comments on the day as a whole. Now, these complaints are solely using the Delaware and Connecticut state conferences as a reference point, but there were 3 things that I did not like about this conference. Firstly, we weren’t given any materials at check-in. I don’t mean free samples that were given out in the past, but I meant educational materials. An e-mail was sent out 3 days before the seminar, with pdf files of the power point slides, but is anyone really going to print out 100+ pages? It would have been much easier to take notes on pages with 4-6 slides printed per page, as the furious note taking/ referencing the slides on my laptop would have been a little less stressful. The second comment is about food. Lunch was on our own, and there weren’t any snacks or beverages provided. The world isn’t ending, but both Delaware and Connecticut state conferences had good, and the Connecticut meeting had a pretty amazing lunch buffet. My third and final complaint is about location; we were at a massive Equinox just off of 5th Avenue. It seemed brand new, and was a beautiful facility. However, with the concepts, ideas, and philosophies that are taught by the NSCA, I found it a little ironic that we were learning about movement training in gym that had well over 60 pieces of cardio equipment, only 2 power racks in 2 floors, 1 trap bar tucked under a staircase, dumbbells topping out at 110lbs, and a plethora of hi-tech isolation machines. It looked really nice, but as you mentally put together workouts in your head, you realize that it’s a bunch of useless gizmos. Does the location negate from what I learned today? No. Does the lack of a hand-out or food mean that the conference was bad? Not at all. But, with a registration fee double both Connecticut’s and Delawares, one fewer presentation (6 instead of 7), no hand-out, and no food, I’m not very content with what I found in the greatest city on earth. So while it was an educationally sound day, these problems do take away a bit from my overall satisfaction.