Archives for April 2018

My Thoughts Monday #28-Jay DeMayo, University of Richmond- We Need To Change With The Rules

“I’m saying that I think that based upon where we’re at and what we are looking at here with these new rule changes we’re going to need to be even more so a facilitator when it comes to adapting what we do in order to make sure these kids: A) continue to adapt and improve to the training we are providing, and B) are healthy and able to survive now which really is looking like mid May till the end of March where basketball is the priority.”

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In today’s My Thoughts Monday I discuss how I see the new hour changes for summer time training will change the landscape of what we are doing as strength and conditioning coaches in The NCAA and where our roles can change.

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Flashback Friday 2014-Rick Brunner: Explosive Athletic Ergogenics The Science and Practice of Nutritional Ergogenics

“The best nutritional ergogenics are only as good as the training plan.”

In 2014 Rick Brunner joined us to discuss his research and writing on nutritional support for improving performance in explosive athletes. Rick was able to take trips to the USSR in the 80s and Russia in the 90’s to get a behind the scenes look into what they were doing nutritionally. This has helped drive his research into what is most successful in improving athletic performance. After a brief intro Rick gets right into breaking down the 6 Nutrigenomic BAS Categories: Anabolic, Lipolytic, Energetic, Apoptogenic, Neurologic, and Dis-Adaptive Nutrients.

In each of these categories Rick breaks down the process that these nutrients go through and what nutrients effect this process and are listed under these categories. Rick not only gives the backing to what these nutrients are and where they fit into each of the process but he also gives anecdotal and practical usage and situations that he has found positives and negatives with athletes.

For more on this fantastic talk follow the link here:

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In-Season College Basketball Micro-Dosing, Part 1-A Guest Post by Sean Brown

SB 2In this 2 part series Rice Owls Basketball Strength Coach Sean Brown shares with us his program that he utilized through the 2017-18 season with his team. Part One is an overview of the program, while Part Two is the program in it entirety, the results achieved, and Coach Brown’s evaluation (both pro and con) of it.

I think at this point it’s safe to say we have discussed the challenges of in-season programming for college basketball pretty well. We certainly haven’t found the solution (if there is one), but I feel confident we can all start from a common place in terms of understanding college basketball in-season programming. What I aim to do here is provide an overview of the micro-dosing platform I followed this past season and a discussion of what I found along the way.

To begin with, I was looking to improve upon (albeit with a different team) the in-season protocol I used last year based on Dan John’s “Easy Strength” program. You can find a summary of that program here. It’s not mine, it belongs to Daniel Roose at The University of Texas. I simply contributed to it in my previous role and saw its benefits and drawbacks firsthand.

Like last year’s program, I wanted to begin the program in preseason (with some variation) to establish the specific culture of lifting in-season as well as accommodate the increased volume of on-court activity. I also wanted to continue utilizing a versatile program that allowed me to progress lower training-age athletes throughout the season, as well as individually tailor to fit for more experienced athletes. That’s the important thing to remember. This is not a program so much as it is a platform and a mindset. The perfect fit in this case came after hearing Cory Schlesinger talk about his program at Stanford in Episode 99 of the CVASPS Podcast. I highly recommend listening to it, but if you don’t, just know these things from it that I used as the basis for the in-season program:

  1. Lift every day before practice, essentially as an extended warmup
  2. Hit one major lift every day
  3. Talk to the athlete about how they feel when they walk in the door, base the intensity off of that

Condensing everything Coach Schlesinger said into those three points is utterly ridiculous and borderline insulting (maybe not really even borderline). However, for the sake of time that’s what I will focus on.

With these things in mind and after talking to a few much smarter friends about what they’re doing, I came up with what follows. Bob Alejo, whom I don’t know personally but follow nonetheless, has been fond of saying recently regarding his programming, “this is what I did, this is what happened”. I think that’s a very appropriate way to approach this. I am not claiming this to be the perfect solution, and I am certainly not claiming that I even came close to doing it as well as others have. I simply am laying out what I did and how it worked for me.


The major difference between what I did this year vs last is the frequency. Last year’s program was 2x per week, this year was 3-5x depending on the week. This year, in 42 days of preseason (30 of which we can use for practice), we lifted 23 times. During our 15 weeks of season, depending on player, we lifted between 40-50 times.

The structure of the lift also changed. Instead of performing the same lift 2x per week, we performed a different major lift every day, with different preparation for said lift. This way we are hitting our major lifts once each week, lifting almost every day, and minimizing volume and overall fatigue imposed on the player, keeping variation and intensity high. In short, every day we are looking to get the best “bang for our buck”.

I explained this lift to my players with the basic and uncomfortable (for both of us) premise that I am going to put them in the driver’s seat. Every day when they come in we are going to see how good we can be. Sometimes that will mean that our body is telling us we are beat up. That’s okay. Sometimes we are the same we were last week. No problem. But, it also might tell us that today we are feeling great and we might be able to get stronger. When that happens, we are going to ride the wave and see what we can get. No matter what, I’m not telling you what weight to lift. I can help guide, but I’m not prescribing it. I need you to know what 90% is supposed to feel like. I need you to know when something was too light.

There are so many angles to how this works it is impossible to cover them. Essentially, I viewed it as my job within this framework to educate my players on how to listen to their body, and then from there how to push it to get better while staying as safe as possible and not completely overloading themselves.

The Structure

  1. Warmup – 2-3x








  1. Prep: 2-3x (4-6 rep range)

BB/DB/KB Complex

Corrective/Prep Movement

Fill in the Gap

  1. Big Bang Lift: Autoregulated, variable volume




Weighted Chin-Up

Trap Bar Deadlift


I’d like to proclaim my extreme progressive thinking and ingenuity regarding our warm-up, but the reality is I stole it shamelessly. If you haven’t already, you can read the summary of it here. Throughout the entire season we followed what my players know as the “RCCRCTS” warmup (creative I know). The beauty of this warm-up protocol is I have a seemingly endless list of progressions and regressions for each primal movement that I can pick and choose from based on where our bodies are at that point in time. This might mean that we stick with the basics one week because coach is really hammering us on the court. It might mean that on game day I am just trying to fire up the CNS while minimizing joint stress. It also might mean that I have multiple groups and individuals following different warmup protocols because of what I see or hear from them and how their body is feeling.

The bottom line is every day I have the chance to customize a warm-up allowing me to address our needs. We will always find a way to run, crouch, crawl, roll, carry, and swing every day. I found that as the season went on, I could also sneak some more pulling into the warmup (especially in the absence of monkey bars), particularly for my younger players that needed a little more volume. Sometimes pull-ups or chin-ups, sometimes tire or sled pulls, again all based on how our bodies were at the time.

We would run the warmup 2-3x through, allowing for even more variation, and overall taking 5-10 minutes to not only get ready for the lift, but to address movement quality.


Following our warmup, we would flow immediately into our prep sets/circuits. This always consisted of some form of BB/DB/KB complex. Generally speaking I would be looking at this complex to both prepare us for our “big bang” lift as well as hit our fundamental movements (straight from Dan John). So, some of these might be:

Barbell Deadlift/RDL/Bent Row/Military Press

Dumbbell RDL/Bent Row/Shrug (2-DB or 1-DB)

Kettlebell Squat/Military/Front Lunge (2-KB or 1-KB)

Kettlebell Clean/Squat/Military Press (2-KB or 1-KB)

Sandbag Clean/Squat/Military Press

You can use your imagination here. I don’t claim to be a master of the most creative complexes. In time we got to some more interesting versions utilizing different tools like trap bars, landmines, etc. However, with the relatively young training age of my team the most basic of these complex variations were more than sufficient to progress us through the season maintaining the appropriate stimulus.

Along with our complex we would aim to hit a corrective or preparation movement corresponding to the day’s big bang lift. Usually these fell into the categories of hip, ankle, or t-spine mobility, but ultimately were driven by my particular players and their needs. In our case, we found ourselves doing things like tactical frog progressions, dowel t-spine extensions, wall slides, side-lying windmills, band pull-throughs, kettlebell suitcase deadlifts, kettlebell/band TKEs, etc.

For some players, particularly my older or heavy minute guys, the “prep” portion of the lift ended here. Not always, but usually they were ready to hit their big lift and move on to practice. For other players with low training ages or minutes, I usually added a third movement here to fill in some of the gaps of what they need. It might have been core or anti-rotation work, dumbbell pressing, another pull, or RDLs (we do A LOT of RDLs). Whatever we felt like needed working on is what we would do. Particularly earlier in the season, I could also use this time to work on Olympic variations with those that were ready.

NOTE: The warmup changed every day, and the big bang lifts weren’t going to change. In the prep portion I stuck with a complex for 3 or 4 weeks before it got stale and we moved on to a new one for variety and added complexity.


At this point we will have been working between 10-20 minutes. We are plenty warm, have hit primal/fundamental movements, addressed movement quality, and are ready to get stronger at one thing for the day.

Just as with the entire program, volume and intensity varied on these lifts based on the time of year and how each player was feeling. However, these lifts still followed a fairly predictable progression. Our first week of preseason, coming off of high volume work in preparation for practice, we began picking our intensity up and dropping the volume. Throughout the entire program we never lifted more than 5 reps in a set for the big lift, and the highest total (prescribed) rep count would never get above 15. Below is the volume and intensity we ended up with for each week of our season. This pertains to each of the major lifts for that week.

Who is Sean Brown?

12716084Sean Brown is in his first year as Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Rice Men’s Basketball team. He comes to Rice from The University of Texas at Austin, where he spent the last two years working directly with Men’s Basketball.

In his current role, Brown is responsible for all year-round strength & conditioning aspects of the Men’s Basketball and Men’s Golf programs at Rice.

Prior to Rice, in 2016-17 he served as an Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach at The University of Texas at Austin, working directly with Men’s Basketball under the guidance of Director of Basketball Performance, Daniel Roose. Brown was hired into that role after serving as a Men’s Basketball Strength & Conditioning Intern during the 2015-16 season.

He also has held volunteer/internship positions with Southwestern University where he worked with football, volleyball, basketball, swim & dive and soccer, as well as University of Texas Athletic Performance.

Brown is a Strength & Conditioning Coach Certified through the Collegiate Strength & Conditioning Coaches Association, as well as a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength & Conditioning Association. He earned his B.A. in English from The University of Mary Washington in 2009, and an M.Ed. in Kinesiology – Sport Sciences & Nutrition from The University of Texas at Austin in 2016.

A native of Fairfax, VA, Brown lives in Houston with his wife, Kate.


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Power Development, a guest post by Max Schmarzo

SBS LogoPower development is one of the most sought after training adaptations. In order to understand how to develop power, one has to first understand the physics behind power and how power expression is quite contextual.

Power = Force x Velocity

Power is the ability to express force at a given velocity. The interesting thing about human movement is that velocity is always changing. Think about a jump starting from a static position. The athlete starts at a velocity of zero and then finishes with a velocity of say 3.8m/s. This means the individual had to continue to produce force as they gained velocity through the different portions of the movement. Because of this, one can quickly see how power development over a spectrum of velocities is needed. The whole idea of power is kind of a funny forward loop, more force expressed equals higher acceleration (highest acceleration is during the initial stages of the movement), which means greater changes in velocity and then the need to express force against an even higher velocity than before! So as we gain momentum throughout a movement, power output becomes greatly influenced by the increasing velocities.

So why does this all matter?

Well, only training force expression against heavy loads and slow velocities will only go so far. Yes, it is true that the expression of large forces at slow velocities is what will be responsible for the greatest amounts of acceleration, but that isn’t the whole story.

Training the ability to continually express force throughout the full range of motion and at regions that are responsible for high velocity (high knee angles) is critical for power development (more force at a given velocity = more power).


Increasing initial acceleration of a movement through high-load weight training:

Continued force production throughout the full range of motion can be done with accommodating resistance and high load jumps:


Maximal intent/maximal velocity at high knee angles can be done with rapid tension isometrics, band assisted movements and low/bw load jumps



Training for power is not just about chasing a number. Power is contextual to the velocity at which the force is being produced. Thus, training ranges of motion and movements that are responsible for specific velocities can help optimize the full power producing abilities of an athlete. For more, and programs similar to the principles listed above check out what Max offers here:

IMG_7861Who is Max Schmarzo?

Max Schmarzo is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (CSCS) and NATA Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC). He received his MS in Kinesiology from Iowa State University, where he led investigative research on relationship between the force-velocity profile of the squat and vertical jump height.

Prior to entering graduate school, Max played four years of NCAA Division III basketball. As an undergrad, he doubled majored in athletic training and strength and conditioning.

Throughout his undergraduate and graduate schooling, he was able to complete several internships, including working under Chris Doyle at the University of Iowa, Josh Beauregard at Iowa State University and Donald Chu at Athercare in Dublin, California.

Max also writes professionally for his website and social media (Instagram), Strong By Science and @Strong_by_Science, respectively. (bio found at:


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Episode 130-Joe Kenn, Carolina Panthers-His Path and Where We, as Coaches, Are Going.

“We talk about all these, don’t start to early in sport specific training, be multi dimensional in your training for sports before you specialize. Really, it’s not different in strength and conditioning. I don’t think any of us, when we first started, necessarily were looking at it from the stand point of being a one sport strength coach. I think we all went into it going int thinking we were going to be the strength coach for a university or a high school or whatever setting. The evolution of what’s occurred is kind of interesting and it’s really changed the dynamics of our field moving forward.”

Today we are joined by the Carolina Panthers Strength Coach Joe Kenn. This is an episode I’ve been hoping to get recorded for a long time because of the huge impact Joe has had on my career.  Joe talks us though where his love of the weight room originated, his time at Wake Forest as a player, working in Ft. Lauderdale at Pine Crest prep school, back to Wake as a part time strength coach, 8 and a half years at Boise State, Utah (where The Tier System was validated to him), ASU, Louisville, and The Panthers. 

After we finish that Coach Kenn shares with us the three things he feels coaches getting into the game need to consider. 

This talk is so full of gems for younger coaches to understand what many of the coaches that they look at as icons went through to get to where they’re hoping to get in this profession. 

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My Thoughts Monday #27-Jay DeMayo, University of Richmond- What’s Your Escape?

“Ya know, there were a lot of us who were the dumb guys who did that and thought we were untouchable and unbreakable and that we could grind 5 days like that. Ya know, and pull those legitimate 80-90 hour weeks without stopping. We’ve all done it, it’s cool, especially when you’re young and there’s that pride factor in it. But when you start to get old and frail and a little fat like some of us have having that escape and knowing that there needs to be a time and a place to get away and recharge is going to save you in the long run.”

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In this time of year, as we start to come to the “non countable” hours in college athletics, the topics of recharging and getting away come up quite often. In today’s My Thoughts Monday I talk about the necessity of that being something that we all need to focus more on, that mental escape to allow us to recharge. Share with us and others what you’re doing to “escape” to help spark ideas for other coaches to help improve our mental health of the profession.  

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Flashback Friday, 2014-Dr. Viktor Seluyanov- Latest Theoretical Advancements in the Development of Athletes

“Desire to create resistance to lactate in training is a dead end in training”

In 2014 we had the pleasure of welcoming Dr. Viktor Seluyanov to The Seminar. Dr. Seluyanov had been a man that many of the top coaches in the country had been referencing due to the development of his theoretical training principles. This talk is translated by Omegawave’s Val Nasedkin, so there are some lags in communication, but none of the information is lost.

After a brief introduction from both Val and Viktor including Dr. Seluyanov’s background and how his research began and where it was progressing. The importance of which is the what’s and why’s to the development of training based on the biological processes of the organism. This leads him into describing the models of the major systems of the organism. These include:

1) The “Ideal” cell
2) Endocrine System
3) Skeletal Muscle
4) Motor Control and the Biochemical Processes in Muscle Fibers
5) The Cardiac System
6) Immune System

Next, Dr. Seluyanov discusses the methods that were driven by the biological principles he discussed prior. This begins with what Viktor believes needs to be evaluated with athlete’s. These methods include:

1) Methods for hyperplasia of glycolytic muscle fibers (Type IIB)
a. Hyperplasia of myofibers
b. Hyperplasia of mitochondria
2) Methods for hyperplasia of the oxidative muscle fibers
a. Hyperplasia of myofibers
b. Hyperplasia of mitochondria
3) Methods for hyperplasia of mitochondria
a. Oxidative myofibrils
b. Glycolytic myofibrils

He closes out discussing the planning of the training process. This is all based on the classic approaches form the USSR, but dives into Dr. Seluyanov methods of stimulative and developmental workouts.
For more on this fantastic 2 hour and 21-minute lecture follow the link here:

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Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness

drew-review“Stress demands rest, and rest supports stress.”

– Stulberg and Magness

Peak Performance was one of the easiest books I have ever read. While there are plenty of research and literature references Stulberg and Magness fall back on, this book reads like a memoir. This aspect is what I liked most about this book; the real-life examples the authors draw upon to convey their points and then use science to further support their points. All the topics and examples are presented in ways that the reader can easily comprehend and apply to their own life. A lot of books are geared toward improving performance; this book is no different in that endeavor, but what this book offers is a chance to help people, or yourself, get better without all the typical fluff or constant repetition. After reading this book you will find yourself reviewing how you have done things in the past and discover new ways to optimize your performance.
5a0b080b-dc08-49b9-8dce-d594ad8f03e0A little over 200 pages; this book is either a quick read or a few hours of listening. There are 9 chapters in all with 3 different sections labeled, “The Growth Equation,” “Priming,” and “Purpose.” These sections help you the coach or athlete, understand stress, prepare for success, and find your reason to perform. Also, throughout each chapter there are “Performance Practices,” which help the reader act on the information they are digesting. This book should be on your shelf because a. it’s simple to read so there is no excuse, and b. Peak Performance is true to it’s title… will help you and your athletes succeed.


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Using Systems & Understanding Situations to Determine Individualization, A Guest Post From Chris Hays

“Everything we do is completely individualized.”

Most strength & conditioning coaches, myself included, have probably spoken some variation of this line at some point in their career in an attempt to better sell and increase the value of their program. Over my few years in the field, I’ve struggled to determine what “individualizing” a program really means or needs to be. Before we go any further, let’s reference Merriam-Webster for a generic, unbiased definition –

Individualize: to adapt to the needs or special circumstances of an individual

There’s two ways to take this into the context of training. On one hand, science would say that 99.9% of all human DNA is identical, and therefore we all need, and can very likely benefit from, some combination and variation of squatting, hinging, lunging, pushing, pulling, etc. (insert any other fundamental or primal movement). On the other hand, virtually every athlete presents with their own special circumstances, ranging from SES background to training age to skill set and injury history. Considering these two sides, when and how should a program be individualized? Recently, an engaging conversation led to a bit of a light bulb moment potentially providing, at least for myself, a bigger outlying picture that will help to determine a clearer order of operations.

1) System → 2) Situation → 3) Individual

When considering all of the variables of program design, from periodization style to exercise selection to frequency, there are truly infinite possibilities. Here’s how I think defining the three items above can help clarify this process.


This could be interchangeable with “philosophy,” although a former colleague of mine would argue to the death that all S&C coaches share the same philosophy (maximize performance, minimize injury), and that what actually differentiates us are the means we choose to accomplish those goals. Before even considering the sport, level, training age and unique circumstances, though, we have to know what we believe in. While I very much refuse to label myself, it’s likely that we will always gravitate towards our roots. If you grew up in Columbus, you’re probably largely influenced by Westside. If you spent a lot of time training youth athletes early on, linear periodization may be your preferred approach, or maybe periodization style is less important to you than emphasis of movement quality. Regardless, if you ask any director or coordinator, they’ll undoubtedly be able to give you the “this is how we do things” presentation. With the wealth of information available today, it can be hard to decide where we stand and what we believe in most. This is still very much a work in progress for myself, and the reason that I can be an extremely inefficient programmer.


Before considering the individual, we must consider the situation that we’re in. As mentioned, this can be as simple as the sport(s) that we’re training, training age of our population, and perhaps most importantly, the facility, equipment and technology that we have access to. Westside won’t work without bands and chains for accommodating resistance. Predominantly barbell training won’t cut it if you have a low rack-to-athlete ratio, and/or high density of athletes with limited time. Design and approach will probably vary significantly depending on sector and population. All of these variables must be taken into consideration before even considering the individualization of an athlete’s training. However, it should not change what you believe in & your innate approach to training (your “system”) – just how you choose to implement it.


Only once we know our system, and have the context of the situation we’re in, can we then begin to consider proper individualization, and if it’s truly necessary. Within the system, our testing & assessment protocols can be a huge factor in determining if and what individual accommodations are needed. For an incoming class of freshmen, or incoming draft picks & rookies, they could all very likely benefit from 1-2 phases of sound, basic, fundamental training before getting too sexy or specific – aside from considering the obvious such as injury history and opposing positional demands, etc. From there, we can use our assessment & testing data, coach’s eye, and understanding of each athlete’s strengths & weaknesses to further consider individualizing his/her program.

We can always individualize more. The question is, do we need to? While in graduate school, I remember designing corrective exercise programs for our baseball team, and literally agonizing over picking different exercises for each guy, even if they had the same dysfunction or limitation. Instead of just “plugging & chugging” based off of standard FMS exercises, for example, I recall thinking “he really likes this one, and he really likes that one, and I think this one will work for him better.” Was it appreciated? Maybe. Was it necessary spending extra hours on trivial details that could have been better spent on more important items? Probably not. Lesson learned.

When we talking about individualizing our training, remember that we can train 100 athletes differently without assigning 100 entirely unique programs. After all, the human body is about 99.9% identical — although that .01% could very well be the difference between winning and losing.


MugShotChris believes in building robust athletes & people through holistic means that is built upon the strength of the Coach-Athlete relationship. He received his undergraduate degree in Exercise Science from Slippery Rock University, and his graduate degree from George Washington University, while serving as a Graduate Assistant in the S&C Department under Matthew Johnson. This past year, Chris served as a Performance Fellow at the University of Louisville under Teena Murray in Olympic S&C. Currently, he is preparing to begin a new role in Glendale, Arizona with the Los Angeles Dodgers in their minor league system. Chris can be reached by email at


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Episode 129-Tom Farrow, Arete Performance- Understanding Your Monitoring To Make an Impact

“It all comes back to stimulus adaptation, and it’s just finding that point with who ever you’re working with where you can make a difference. What’s the level that they’re competing at, understanding that as deeply as you can, andn then just knowing what tools you have to make that a little bit harder a little bit easier, and just moving from there”

Today we are joined by Tom Farrow to discuss training on multiple levels. Tom starts out breaking down the idea of “cultivating heroes” and how that fits into what they’re doing at Arete Performance. We then discuss some of the differences in training at the multiple levels he works with, and how the demands of competition (7’s vs Richmond) determines how he handles his athletes. Tom then breaks down the difference between the two games (15’s vs 7’s) and what they look at when developing and monitoring each type of athlete.  This includes how they set up what they monitor and evaluate with their athlete’s and how they break down each team by individual vs position vs team. Tom then shares with us how he sets up their yearly training plans on each level. This leads straight into Tom breaking down the three factors he believes leads to injury and how he manages those three. We finish off talking about the education work that they’re doing at Arete and how that’s helped them drive education in England. 

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