Recap of The 2011 Perform Better Functional Training Summit

Wow.  I don’t even know where to begin.  The weekend was insanely awesome, and I learned a plethora of information that I can apply to my exercise and my clients exercise.  I’m not exactly a fan of brevity, so here comes a long, rambling review of the weekend in chronological order.  I’ll bold key tips and facts from each presentation, and try to get in as much information as my notes and memory allow.  You’re waiting for it, so let’s get down to the nitty gritty:

I left class early on Thursday night to get a jump start on traffic, and we left around 7:30.  Connecticut likes to shut down multiple lanes on I-95 at night, ruining my plan of getting to sleep early.  Thanks, Connecticut.  After finally checking into the hotel just after Midnight, we found our room and went straight to bed.  My girlfriend came with me for the weekend, and I got to eat lunch with her and spend the evenings relaxing so my mind didn’t explode, which worked out well.  I woke up early on Friday for a ‘neural wake up’, ate breakfast at the hotel, and walked to the Providence Convention Center.  After getting a free Perform Better backpack, and a T-shirt from Adidas, this is how the day went down:

Friday

Lee BurtonUnderstanding and Implementing Corrective Movement Strategies

After seeing Gray Cook last year, I knew that I wanted to see Lee this year, and he didn’t disappoint.  To open his presentation, Lee posed the question, “What is corrective exercise?”  After reflecting on a few thoughts, he explained that ‘corrective exercise’, like many other phrases in the fitness world, is a garbage term.  Any exercise can be corrective, depending on what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with.  Corrective movement strategies involve creating a logical approach ( screening, testing, and assessing clients), creating a movement basement (such as the FMS), and correctly identifying dysfunction.  Lee pointed out that the FMS isn’t about moving perfectly, but about not being a train wreck.  Movements don’t need to be perfect, but they need to be competent; objectively fix the biggest problem, then move on to the next one.  “Pain creates movement problems, and movement problems create pain.”  There is a clear “Chicken or the Egg” problem, but it’s less about which came first and more about eliminating the pain.  Lee presented us with a three tier priority model:

The most important exercises improve movement or reduce movement related risks.  Next, focus on exercises to improve physical capacity or performance.  Finally, focus on exercises to improve skill.  The corrective exercises employed should align with these priorities, and must have positive short term responses in order to obtain long term adaptations.  Checking and rechecking these short term responses provide feedback to the effectiveness of any program, and help ensure positive long term adaptations.

While proper education will help clients avoid lots of extra corrective exercises, reducing their negative habits can be more beneficial than any corrective exercise they can do.  As an example, let’s think about what you’re doing right now.  All of the rows, scapular retraction drills, and thoracic extension mobilizations you can possibly do at the gym won’t make up for your hunched over posture as you read this.  (::Cue for you to raise your chest and pull your shoulder blades down and back::)  Removing bad habits, such as slouching while you’re sitting, or constantly leaning to one side, can remove many of the issues that lead to the need for corrective exercise in the first place.  I don’t want to be the cause of your Upper Cross Syndrome, so sit up already!

Lee explained to us that mobility comes before stability, and should be trained as such.  You can consider this basic logic or high end motor development, but think about babies: Do they come out stiff, or are they soft and floppy?  As we develop, we gain stability, and most people end up having too much in the wrong places.  From an education standpoint, we need to educate people on where we need mobility and stability, to help prevent many of the issues that develop as we age.  During my elementary observations this spring, I saw a noticeable difference in the movement quality between the first graders and the 6th graders, and it’s pretty scary.  Along with the obesity epidemic, we also have a movement amnesia epidemic, and people all across the country require more and more corrective exercises.  Hearing Lee speak definitely gave me some good ideas and a little bit more knowledge about movement dysfunction, and I definitely plan on going to a FMS seminar as soon as I can.  People are spending increasingly more time inside, and while encouraging them to move more and exercise more can reduce the prevalence of movement dysfunction, there will always be a need for corrective exercise.

Stuart McGillWhat Great Athletes Have Taught Me

I’ve wanted to see McGill present for a while, and his presentation didn’t disappoint, nor did his awesome mustache. The great spine researcher presented a lot of evidence supporting the training strategies that many of the best coaches and trainers have been talking about, which was nice.  I mean, who doesn’t like hearing that they’re doing the right thing?!  McGill is the monster behind the ‘don’t do crunches‘ machine, and if you love doing the P90X Ab Ripper workout, you probably wouldn’t like what he discussed.  You probably will also have a bad back, so you might want to start listening.  McGill spoke about a number of training and performance techniques he’s observed and studied in world class athletes, and I think that his information on developing a stable core is the most applicable to daily training.

If you’re still doing crunches stop; they’re bad for you.  Instead, train the core through stability exercises.  Planks, stir-the-pots, roll outs; they’re all tough core exercises that mitigate the dangers or repetitive spinal flexion.  Even more fun than timed planks are asymmetrical carries.  McGill explained the changes in stabilization that occurs when we’re on one foot, and how nothing else trains the obliques and hip stabilizers as well.  This picture of the lateral sub system shoes you the muscles that are used on one foot that don’t work as hard on two feet.

Training on two feet is important, and training on two feet is even more important, but the best thing might be to simply carry heavy stuff.  Instead of detailing exactly what McGill said, I’m going to refer you to Dan John’s The Secret of Loaded Carries.  In it, he explains a number of progressions for loaded carries and why they’re awesome.  If you care about your back health, and you want abs of steel, I’d suggest you find a movement that’s appropriate for you and start doing it.  Your spine and your abs will be very happy.

Gray CookThe Movement Code

I saw Gray present last year after reading Athletic Body in Balance, and I went to see him this year even though I didn’t read his new book, Movement.  For some of you, the most important thing Gray said is “The human body was never meant to be chopped up and trained in isolation.”.  If you still have an arms day, and a legs and shoulder day, and your ab specialization day, this applies to you.  In our body-building based exercise culture, people function on the textbook action of muscles.  The bicep flexes the elbow, the quads extend the knee.  Unfortunately, that’s not how we work in the real world, and this old-school mentality is causing some problems.  Creating a systematic movement profile can better enable trainers to give their clients what they need while also giving them what they want.  Gray used the same pyramid that Lee used, and in my head I’ve assigned ‘needs’ to the bottom Movement level, and ‘needs’ to the middle Performance level.  Someone may want to lose weight, or build muscle, or become faster, or a host of other goals, but if their movement quality is unacceptable, those issues need to be addressed first.  People need to demonstrate clean movement patterns, plane and simple.  Corrective exercise can be used to redevelop clean patterns, and self-limiting exercises can be used to create a training effect while developing those patterns.  Most importantly, you need to demonstrate competent movements before you develop physical capacity or performance.

Jason GlassExplosive Rotational Power

I’ve seen Jason’s videos on The Golf Channel and on Titleist’s MyTPI website, and I play golf myself; a good reason to see him, right?  Jason specializes in training rotational athletes, and this included golfers, javelin throwers, snowboarders, and baseball players.  Jason explained that sequencing is the key to developing rotational power, and this occurs from the ground up.  The core is responsible for transmitting force from the lower limbs to the upper body, and without proper sequencing of the bodies movement, the potentially powerful core just leaks energy, robbing you of power.  Reduced speed drills can be used to train proper sequencing, but slow practice can lead to slow execution.  To develop power, you need to move fast.  Jason likes training his athletes at the ‘absolute speed’ side of the continuum, and if you’re not used to high-speed training, it may prove very beneficial to you.  Jason has some great videos available on his website, Jason Glass Performance Lab.  Training rotary power isn’t very prevalent in main stream gyms, but it’s important to develop because almost every sport is a rotational sport, from sprinting to ice skating.  Check out the link to Jason’s website above, and figure out which of your daily activities would benefit from you improving your explosive rotational power.

Martin RooneyGet Fast, Get Fit:  Speed Training for Every Client

I saw Martin’s presentation last year, and I follow his websites and YouTube page, so I had plenty of reasons to watch him present.  As luck would have it, it was one of the funniest presentations that I saw, with Martin wearing an alien mask and cape for a 20 minute stretch at the beginning of his presentation.  While everyone attending was in fits of laughter, his message was important.  Let’s see how concise I can make it:

Our country has willingly, knowingly created a health epidemic.  We eat like crap, we sleep like crap, and we continuously contribute to our own death with binge drinking and smoking.  We don’t exercise nearly enough, and when we do, we choose inefficient, marginally effective exercise modalities.  Sprinting is one of the healthiest, universally applicable techniques we can use to improve our health, from an all-star professional athlete to your father and grandma.  Regular sprints can help you burn fat, increase VO2 max, increase metabolism, and clear your mind.  Martin said that he sprints 3 times a week and has for many years, and it’s definitely something you can add to your workout to improve your health.

Thomas PlummerEvolve or Die: Five Trends That Will Define Your Career

Thomas was the keynote speaker last year, and he had the same honor this year.  I cared very little about this business side of things, and didn’t learn what I should have, but this year was different.  I’m becoming more interested in the business of fitness, but not for the purpose of making money, but for learning how to produce a better product.  I’m working on creating a member-education program at my gym, and I hope to revamp some of the programming protocols that other trainers use as well.  With this in mind, I learned from Thomas’s Five Trends, and thought about how to apply them to the changes I’m trying to make at work, and the recommendations I make to others.

Our current fitness industry is stuck in the business model that was considered ‘perfect’ in 1995.  Giant global gyms were packed with machine on top of machine, which fed into the body building style of isolation training, and the flawed idea that steady state cardio was the best way to burn fat.  Group training was for women, who never touched a weight that was pink or over 5 pounds.  This model was sold for $39 a month to a younger population, neglecting the baby boomers and focusing on the aesthetic benefits of exercise.

Now that this model of fitness is failing, people are realizing that it takes a different approach to gain and maintain results.  Smaller gyms, that provide a community atmosphere, are going to attract members, and they’re going to be loaded with functional (and fun) equipment.  People will want to train in groups that allow them to have more fun with their peers, and this makes sense for everyone involved.  The per-person cost of training is lower, the members of the group have more fun due to the social environment, and the trainers end up making more money.  That’s win-win for everybody!  The best gyms in the country have the most ‘functional’ toys, and this should and will occur in your gym as well.  TRXs, kettlebells, ropes, sleds, and free weights should make up the majority of the equipment used in a training program, and trainers should motivate members and clients to get the most out of the time they dedicate to exercise.  What I like about this more functional, effective model of training, is that it’s more fun.  Did you read my last post about having fun while you train?  It looks like everyone in those videos are having a blast, integrating movement throughout their entire body, and smiling during a great workout.

If you’re a trainer, you should already be moving towards more functional, integrated movements.  They’re the best thing you can do for your clients, and you’ll offer better and faster results.  If you’re working with a trainer, flee the people that put you on a Cybex circuit.  It’s ineffective, and they’re doing little more than counting reps.  Find someone who trains you hard, helps you reach your goals, and makes sure you leave the gym with a smile.  If you’re going to make an investment, get the most for your money.

WaterFire

After Thomas finished his presentation, Perform Better hosted a social with free drinks and appetizers, where presenters and attendees could mix, mingle, and network.  I opted out of attending, and instead headed back to the hotel to meet my girlfriend, and we then headed to Providence’s WaterFire production.  It was a mixture of music and a fire sculpture along the river, and it was a blast.  There were a ton of people taking in the sights and sounds, and there was plenty of food to be had.  We ended up having some awesome Indian food, and I’m going to have to learn how to make samosas because they were delicious.  We ate right in front of the Rhode Island School of Design, and you can check out the building and the view from across the river below:

After we ate, we walked up and down the river, observing the culture with me rambling about all the cool things I had learned during the day.  I even went as far as hypothesizing that spinning the flaming poi is probably somewhat similar to the skill of using Indian Clubs, but after a few moments of this I decided to relax and turn off my ‘fitness’ brain for the rest of the evening.  If you find yourself in Providence this summer, I’d  suggest checking out the production, as it provided a great experience and took advantage of the beautiful summer weather.  You might even see this guy, who rode around on a gondola spinning these things like a badass:

Saturday

Waking up at 6:30 on Saturday was awesome, especially because we were asleep by 11pm on Friday.  My ‘neural wake up’ consisted of band pull-aparts, mountain climbers, and a lunge matrix done in the shower.  Yes, in the shower.  Our hotel had a huge shower stall, and I multitasked like a champ while waking my body up.  After that, it was time for a quick breakfast of eggs, fruit, and oatmeal, and I made the quick half mile walk to the Providence Convention Center.

Rachel CosgroveCreating Breakthrough Results with your Female Clients

More than half the population is female, but it’s still uncommon to see women going hard in the weight room.  Rachel’s presentation wasn’t about training progressions and female friendly exercises, as much as it was about communicating with women and motivating them to reach their goals.  This was one of the most valuable presentations I saw all weekend, because what I learned will help me apply what I know to female clients, and help me connect with them so I can help them reach their goals.  One of the most important things that Rachel addressed was the negative mental dialogue that many women have.  Many find it difficult to buy in to the ‘lift and sprint’ style programs, and they end up spinning their wheels on a treadmill and see no progress.  To help cure this, communication is key.  Rachel talked about building trust with clients, letting them know why you care, and letting them see what you’re going to do to help them reach their goals.  Reflecting language is important, and as soon as she mentioned it I knew I’ve been wrong about this a lot.  Girls won’t pack on tons of muscle lifting heavy, we know this.  However, responding to that fear with ‘You won’t get big, don’t worry’ creates a me-versus-you mentality, and can push them away from training, and cause them to doubt you as a trainer.  Instead, when they ask to be ‘toned’, mirror their language.  Saying ‘Hey, I’ve got a great exercise that will help you tone that fill-in-the-blank body part!’ will do a lot more for developing a bond will do.  Using alternative exercises that aren’t intimidating can help you develop a training effect while building confidence, and as they begin to have more faith in you, you can progress to different variations of beneficial exercises.

One of Rachel’s recommendations to help empower women in the weight room was a women’s only section, and I love the idea.  However, it’s not going to be full of treadmills and rubber dumbbells.  Rachel recommendations include having a squat rack, barbells of various weights, weight plates, dumbbells, and a pulley system.  You can check it out in the Results Fitness episode of Strength Coach TV.  Even more, Rachel explained how they use various Challenges to help motivate their clients to reach their short term goals.  Transformation challenges, 5k teams, powerlifting teams, and Jeans Challenges are all used at Results Fitness to motivate their clients.  Between her communication with female clients, writing awesome programs, and providing incentives to motivate her clients, Rachel is an awesome role model for anyone who’s going to be training women.  Check out this video of her clients getting down:

Sue FalsoneHead and Shoulders:  We Are Not Talking About Dandruff!

After Rachel, Sue Falsone presented in the same room, and her topic was a great sequel to last years’ presentation about the Thoracic Spine.  This year, Sue discussed the complex cervicothoracic junction, and why it’s so important in training, rehabilitation, and daily life.  Unless you were at the lecture or you’ve taken anatomy, you’re still figuring out what she talked about, so I’ll show you a picture:

This area around the base of the neck is chock full of tiny muscles and nerves, but it greatly affects our body up and down the kinetic chain.  When pain is present, trainers must refer out to medical professionals who can address these issues with assessments and testing.  However, as trainers we can greatly effect to our clients function just by understanding the complex nature of this anatomical region.  Sue addressed the physiology of the T-Spine, then included a quote from Joseph Pilates, “Above all, learn how to breathe.”  Breath training is typically considered to be reserved for yogis and hippies, but it’s an important part of the way we function.  There are different kinematics that occur with the two styles of breathing, costal and diaphragmatic.  Neither one is right or wrong, but it’s important to practice a variety of techniques, especially if you use one variation more than others.  Our quality of breath greatly affects how we move and feel.

Sue explained three relationships: breathe facilitates movement, movement facilitates breath, and breath facilities stability.  As subtle as it is, the spine does move during each breathe that we take, and it adapts to ours habits.  Maintaining ideal alignment can contribute to proper breathing, and vice versa.  If you look at this cogwheel diagram you’ll see the man on the left demonstrates poor posture, and has flexed his lumbar spine, thoracic spine, pushed his head and shoulders forward, and hyperextending his neck.  This will lead to Janda’s Upper Cross Syndrome, and eventually his posture will become his structure.  Oh, and his quality of breath will suck.  On the other hand, our friend on the right is elongating his spine, and keeping his shoulders down and back.  This will allow him to use a diaphragmatic breath and relax his shoulders, and maintain function and live better.  The quote from Pilates may seem simple, but it’s much more important than you think.

Thomas Meyers Fascial Fitness

Thomas Meyers was a huge hit at last years Summit, and he expanded on his segment about fascial fitness with an entire lecture about it!  I’ll admit it may have not been the most applicable to some trainers, and most of his take-away information was covered in the some of the other presentations, but for the nerdy science lovers like me, it was awesome.  Meyers reviewed the fascial lines, or Anatomy Trains that weave across our anatomy.  Meyers explains just how wrong our flash-card kinesiology is, and if you’re obsessed with segmenting the body and focusing on the muscle actions of your textbook, you should check out more of his stuff.  To provide the quickest explanation of Fascial Fitness, think about the body as a massive connection of rubber bands.  In order to maximize the function of your body, you need to spin, twist, flex, and extend; move in all three planes, include explosive movements, and make sure your include an eccentric loading phase in your training.  A what?!  As Jason Glass said, ‘Load and Explode’.  Meyers included some fantastic pictures of dissection and the human anatomy, and here’s one of the fascial lines that they removed from a cadaver.  Check out how cool this picture is; the longest lines extend from your foot to your skull.  It should make you think a little bit more about using complex, full body movements in your training.

Fraser QuelchMovements, Not Muscles:  A Multi-Planar Training Approach to Training

As much as I love using my TRX, I’m skeptical about TRX only training programs; come on, you need some weights, right?  Because of this, I skipped on seeing Fraser last year, and I wanted to catch up on his philosphies this year. Since I’ve been exploring more multi-planar movements and experimenting with the TRX, I knew that Fraser would have a great presentation.  As it turns out, he didn’t promote the TRX Suspension Trainer or Rip Trainer once!  Instead, he presented a model of training that categorizes movement in all three planes.  Fraser kept repeating the following line: “The body knows only movement, not muscle.”  It’s true, but very little of our movement capabilities is covered by traditional exercises.  He presented us with a better model of movement classification, focusing on the three specific joints of the body; the hip, thoracic spine, and shoulder.  If we strive to include exercises that represent those joints and the three planes of the body, it’s easy to develop functional, integrated workouts.

Almost all of our training is focused on the sagittal plane; we pick things up and we pick them down.  This neglects the 3D capabilities of our body, and relates to what Thomas Meyers said about moving in all three planes.  (You’ll see this becoming a theme here!)  I’ll admit that most of my programming is sagittal plane dominant, and I’ve been working to include more lateral and rotational movements.  Fraser presented us with a sample workout that included some of these non-traditional movements, and I’ve already been including some of them in my workouts.  Be on the look out for some of those exercises and movements in future posts!

Alwyn CosgroveThe Complete Action Guide to Fat Loss Programming & Coaching

Alwyn Cosgrove over delivered.  Alwyn Cosgrove over delivered.  Alwyn Cosgrove over delivered.  He told us about 3 times to write that on our review sheets, but it’s absolutely true.  Not only was he engaging and hilarious, he gave presented one of the most information-dense presentations of the weekend.  Between his product and his personality, it’s not question to me that he runs the most profitable gym in the country.  I spent almost every minute of this presentation either laughing or furiously writing notes in my notebook, and learned a lot.  Cosgrove’s first fact for us was that direct and indirect cost of obesity in the USA is as high as $147 billion annually.  That number was released in 2009, but based on figures collected in 2006.  Doesn’t it make sense that the number one reason for hiring a trainer is still weight loss?  Despite our nations massive obesity epidemic, only 1.9% of the certification information from ACE, NASM, the NSCA, and the ISSA explain weight loss, and it’s mostly related to nutrition.  No wonder our nation is so fat, huh?  Alwyn presented us with his ‘Hierarchy of Fat Loss’, which was:

  1. Correct Nutrition
  2. See Number 1
  3. Activities that burn calories, maintain/promote muscle mass and elevate metabolism
  4. Activities that burn calories and elevate metabolism
  5. Activities that burn calories but don’t necessarily maintain muscle or elevate metabolism.

What does this mean for you?  If you’re goal is to lose weight, get your diet in check.  Seriously, get your diet in check.  Stop with the McDonalds, and the Cheerios for breakfast, and the 12 pack of beer while you play your X-Box.  After you stop eating like crap, you can choose your exercise modalities based on Alwyn’s priorities from above.  If you only have 3-4 hours to exercise per week, you should spend that time strength training and using metabolic acceleration resistance training.  Read that: Pick up heavy shit.  It’s going to do the most to increase your metabolism and help your body burn fat around the clock, providing that your diet is in order.  If you have 4-6 hours per week, you should be strength training and performing anaerobic intervals.  What does this mean?  You pick up heavy shit, and then you sprint.  Or push a sled.  Or swing a kettlebell.  Get the point?  Now, if you’ve got 6-8 hours, you can begin to add in high intensity aerobic intervals, and with even more time then you can add in low intensity aerobic training.  Makes sense, right?  Unfortunately, this information will read and ignored by millions of Americans who are trying to lose weight.  They might modify their diet, and they’ll waste hours and hours walking on the treadmill.  Strength training should come first people!  If you have more time, then you can perform anaerobic intervals.  After that you can start adding in the steady state work, but it’s on the bottom of your priority list.  Ladies at Zumba, I’m sorry to burst your bubble.

After Alwyn quoted numerous studies that basically explained why lifting is the answer and aerobic training sucks, he moved on to explaining the training model that they use at Results Fitness.  Each week, his clients perform two metabolic acceleration training sessions per week which include explosive work, and two strength training sessions.  During these sessions, there is a strong bias towards self-limiting exercises.  In an old blog post from Alwyn, he details his introduction to the term of ‘self limiting exercises’ from Gray Cook.  Gray’s definition of a self-limiting exercise is an exercise that “requires mindfulness and an awareness of movement, alignment, balance and control. Self-limiting exercise requires engagement”  Alwyn added that “a self-limiting exercise provides an automatic yet natural obstacle that prevents you from doing it wrong, or doing an excessive volume.”  The best examples of self limiting exercises are Turkish Get Ups, inverted rows, push-ups, and bottoms up kettlebell pressing.  The technical demands of the lift means that your form will break down before you get hurt, so you can get a great workout with a minimal amount of rest; perfect for creating maximum metabolic disturbance.

Alwyn included some great tips for programming that can increase the effectiveness of any training program.  He noted the importance of explosive lifting, but independant of speed:  It’s the intent to move weight as fast as possible that develops power, not just moving quickly.  None of your workouts should involve straight sets of only one exercise followed by rest.  When you consider the metabolic demands, straight sets are the ‘easiest’ for your body.  Reciprocal supersets increase metabolism more, and an example would be a row followed by a pushup.  An upper/power superset, such as a push-up and a squat, provides an even greater metabolic demand, but switching sides of the body works even better.  An example of this would be pairing a push-up and a deadlift, or a row and a squat.  Maximum results are obtained by utilizing explosive exercises as well.  Substitute a kettlebell swing for the deadlift, and pair it with a push-up.  Pair a jump squat with a body weight row.  You’ll get a great workout, your metabolism will be on roaring like a fire, and you’ll burn fat quicker than you ever have.  There’s a lot of information to be considering right there, so I’ll include the same video I used in my last post.  Check out Alwyn’s clients getting it done at his gym, and think about how your weight loss training relates to this.

Q&A

The last presentation on Saturday was a Question and Answer round table with the presenters, and almost all of them where there.  Questions were posed to either individual presenters or to the panel as a whole, and it provided some valuable insight to how they think.  I discussed my biggest take away from the evening in THIS post, referring to Jason Brown’s philosophy that exercise should improve the quality of his life, and Fraser Quelch’s idea that exercise should like play.  Let me reflect on a few additional topics:

When the panel was asked about nutrition and supplementation, it seemed that the general consensus was that real food comes first, and then a multivitamin, fish oil, protein supplement, and assorted basic vitamins.  A few of the presenters threw in a greens supplement which I think is great as well.  You should note, that these are all health supplements, and not performance supplements.  That’s a little different than the supplement pushers behind the counter at your local GNC, for sure!

One attendee asked a great question about working with athletes with challenges or disabilities, and it made me think of the Adapted Physical Education class I took this past spring.  The basic response from the presenters was to not treat them differently than anyone else who walks into your facility.  It’s really applicable to all clients, but we should have an open dialogue with the people that we train, discuss with them what their capabilities are, and program so they can maximize their potential.  There isn’t a difference in the way they should be treated, or trained, and it’s important to push them just as you would anyone that walks into your facility.

In my last post, I provided some insight into how these great minds train, and attendees were equally as inquisitive into their diet.  When asked about diet and supplementation, the general consensus was to eat real food first, and then supplement once your diet is in order.  The popular items included multivitamins, fish oil, vitamin D, protein supplements, and greens supplements.  I find it interesting that although there is so much marketing about performance enhancing supplements promising to make you look like the Hulk, the best of the best rely on smart training for that.  These supplements are all health supplements in my opinion, and helps show that a healthy lifestyle should be more important than aesthetics or performance.

After the Q&A wrapped up, I headed to the Providence Place Mall with Maria to grab dinner and do some sneaker shopping.  She was looking for one of the new female-only models of the Nike Frees, and i was looking for the New Balance Minimus, but neither of us could find what we wanted.  We ended up grabbing dinner at Johnny Rocket’s in the food court, and I had my first burger in months.  When I ‘cheat’ on my diet I like to go hard, so instead of having a boring ol’ burger I had their Smoke House double, complete with onion rings, applewood smoked bacon, and a special barbeque-ranch sauce.  It was absolutely delicious, but absolutely terrible for me.

Sunday

Robb RogersPattern-Progression-Periodization: Creating a Training Effect One Session at a Time

Thanks to Mike Boyle’s Handicapping the Perform Better Summit,  I decided to check out Robb’s presentation, and it was a great recommendation from Coach Boyle.  Robb’s explanation of program design and exercise selection was so simple that it just clicked; it was so easy a caveman could do it!  Robb’s basic movement patterns included the squat, lunge, step, push, pull, and bending over.  He also included chops, lifts, twists, scoops, and slams as basic movement patterns for the core.  After explaining each movement with video, he explained progression and regression opportunities based on volume, load, implement, speed of movement, time under tension, and stability/instability.  My slides from Robb’s presentation are absolutely covered in notes, and I’m looking forward to using his logical explanations of complex exercises to simplify my own explanations of things.  Robb has simplified his cues to two or three words, and it makes some of the exercises he recommends seem extremely simple and basic, even when it may be something like a crossover step up, lateral lunge with overhead press.  Before the conference, Robb’s name was new to me, but I’ll definitely be checking out more of his writing.

Todd Wright Dominate Your Space – A Spherical Model of Training (x2)

About 5 minutes into Todd’s lecture, I decided that I was going to his hands on session as well.  The very first session I saw last year was Todd’s lecture about locomotion and ground reaction forces, and I was blown away.  He expanded on that presentation this year, and I was ‘on’ throughout both of his sessions as he unloaded pretty scientific but logically simple information.  In short, it just makes sense.  Todd’s spherical model of training is applicable from everyone to the NBA all-star like Kevin Durant (who Todd has trained) to the 6 year old who is learning how to move (a number of Todd’s videos were of his son.)  Movement proficiency is important to all age and skill levels, and I think this model can be used for everything from teaching athletes how to dominate their space on the court, to teaching young children how to move better and explore their personal space.  As a future physical education teacher this is important, because the motor learning that occurs at a young age contributes to human function over the course of an entire lifetime.  After explaining his vertical core model, Todd showed some awesome videos that used a variety of lunge matrices, with and without reaches, to demonstrate expanding the sphere through movement.  Todd combined this with a Venn Diagram detailing flexibility & mobility, stability & balance, and strength & power.  Out of this, he used the term ‘Functional Density’, or what is the functional quality of your workout.  He included a number of videos demonstrating different exercises that trained movements that athletes experience while competing in their sports.  It’s possible that some may think that Todd’s athletes and clients never touch ‘real’ weights and only focus on movement training, but he still uses the traditional lifts.  He poitned out that these multi-planar exercises are just a piece of the training puzzle.  His goal isn’t for his athletes to lift the most or test the best; he wants them to continuously meet task demands and sustain their performance over multiple contests and competitions.  Check out this video from Todd’s gym, Train for the Game:

During Todd’s hands on session, he took us through a basic lower-body warm up that he uses at Train for the Game.  I’ll admit that I love mobility drills, and these were awesome.  Todd showed us a split squat sequence with rocking motions in the frontal, sagittal, and transverse planes, which help to open up this hips more so than traditional single plane movements.  Mission accomplished, and I felt great.  After that we continued on to a multi-planar lunge matrix.  I can’t even say tri-planar, because Todd included about 7 lunge variations, and was a warm up for those of us there may be an entire workout for the deconditioned.  We began sweating a little bit, and then Todd broke out some of his locomotion drills.  After the mobility drills and lunges, the movement patterns were incredible.  Forwards running and skipping is easy, but sideways and rotating patterns more difficult.  We also used a ton of hybrid patterns that I recognized from Todd’s presentation last year, that required some intense concentration to pull off.  I immediately put these to use in a workout on Monday, and will be sprinkling them into programs and recommendations for people to use.  Train 4 the Game offers a few mentorship weekends each year that you can check out on their website.  If I ever get a chance I’m definitely going to invest in a trip to Texas to learn more about Todd’s system.  I know that Charlie Weingroff reviewed a 4-day seminar in a post you can find HERE.

Traveling to Providence for the 2011 Perform Better Summit was an absolute blast.  I learned a great deal of useful information, plan on incorporating key points of what I learned into my training and programing, and had an awesome time with my girlfriend outside of the conference.  As it turns out, sometimes you can mix business and pleasure!  Even better than just going with her, we also got each other gifts!  On the trip up there, I gave her a new bracelet from Tiffany’s that she noticed when the catalogue came to my house.  I know, I’m romantic, but she one-upped me.  Before we left the convention center, she placed an order for the 50 foot, 1.5 inch economy battling rope, so I can get my interval training on.  Perform Better takes care of their customers, and the ropes shipped out on Monday night and were at my house by Tuesday.  Maria’s awesome for buying them for me, even though she knows she’ll be using them too.

I still decades of education ahead of me before I think I’ll really know anything, but attending conferences like the Perform Better Summit really helps me learn from the best.  There isn’t a trainer in the world that could leave the conference without learning anything, and while it was their highest-attended Summit ever, I’m sure they’ll have even more people next year.  I’d like to encourage some of my coworkers to go, and strive to continue their education, but no matter what, I’ll be in Providence next year.

(This is easily my longest blog post ever, and I’m thankful for those of you that have read through the entire thing.  It actually took more work than you see her, because my WordPress account malfunctioned twice and I lost a good deal of two drafts before finally finishing this one.  I’m proud of the ability to put this all together, but I’m sure I left out information.  If you’d like to know more, I tried to load the post with links, but feel free to comment or email me with any questions.  Again, thanks for reading, and I hope that you’ve learned something through my own learning, and can make a difference in your life and the lives of others.)

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16 Replies to “Recap of The 2011 Perform Better Functional Training Summit”

    1. Thanks, Steve! I would’ve attended every session if it was possible, and written about those as well. I’m sure plenty of reviews/recaps will come out in the next week, and after the Chicago and Long Beach summits as well, so we’ll have to check those out as well. Learning as much as possible and passing it on to readers helps us all become a little bit better, right?

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