JD: Danny, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I guess the first thing we would need is for you to introduce yourself and tell us a bit about how you got into the profession.
DR: Thanks for having me J. It’s a bit funny actually: I never really knew this profession “existed” until about 3 years ago. I was an English major at Richmond at the time, and decided to study abroad in Scotland. I remember reading an article about Joe Mazza benching some ridiculous amount of weight in a Men’s Health article. The article describes how he used these “bands” sold by some company called Elitefts. So I decided to check them out and see what these guys were all about. From there I started reading T-Nation and Westside’s articles, and I thought I knew everything about getting strong. So, long story short, I came back from Scotland, and happened by chance one day to be walking back by the Richmond weight room. I also, if you remember, had been wearing an Elitefts beanie, which you recognized. I started off volunteering as many hours as I possibly could; after graduating, I stayed for one more season with the teams. Then in December, I was accepted in to graduate school here at the University of Minnesota. I’ll be finished with my Masters in December.
JD: Going from and English major to a coach of physical preparation seems to be a huge swing in study. Talk to us about this change and how you view the information you find. Also, what you’ve done to acquire this information, i.e. what have you found to be the most relevant ways of finding relevant information to improving athletic performance.
DR: It’s been really interesting actually to come to the field late in the game. I was fortunate to start off by reading authors who were guys that were out training real athletes and getting real results. I was also lucky to be turned on to new literature by yourself. I remember the first book I read was your copy of Zatsiorsky’s Science and Practice. It’s interesting because one of my graduate level classes used that text as the basis for the course; whereas most students were lagging behind in reading it, I had an edge. When it comes to reading, I honestly look to who is the best, read everything I can by them, and then read what they read. I’ve started reading more research nowadays as most of my classes require me to look it up. One piece of advice that has stuck with me was Charles Poliquin, who said to pick a topic that interests you, then research everything you can on that topic till it bores you. Then move on.
JD: Just this past year you put together the Verkhoshanky Forum E-Book. What brought about the idea of putting that together? What did you take away from that process?
DR: I was looking at Verkhoshansky’s forum online one day and thought about how much applicable information was on that site. I figured I’d gather the responses together, and put them in a document for our (Richmond) staff to go through. As I started doing this, I figured it might be a good book for other people to read as well. So, I contacted Yosef Johnson of Ultimate Athlete Concepts. I had met Yosef at the CVASPS seminar the previous April. He went to Natalia, got the go ahead, and the Forum was born. If the process taught me one thing, it’s probably how much work it takes to actually edit people’s work. Trying to maintain their style, voice, etc… while also thinking about audience, makes it very tough. It was a great experience though, and definitely an area that’s fun to work in.
JD: I know you’re still young in the field but please briefly talk about the coaches you’ve studied under, what you’ve taken from them and how you’ve blended these different coaches idea’s together.
DR: I’ve been very fortunate to have worked some of the best coaches. I could honestly write pages on each of these guys that still wouldn’t do them justice:
Chris Stewart: taught me so much about coaching, learning how to handle athletes, and ways to motivate people that aren’t at a school to lift weights.
J: Probably wouldn’t be where I am if you hadn’t taken a chance on me. Not only that, but the fact that you’ve done everything you can to get me to the next level.
Jeff Appel: Trains and coaches with an intensity I had never understood before. Also taught me the value in networking, meeting people, and learning from different coaches instead of just one philosophy.
Beacher Porter: Taught me a ton about talking to athletes and simply being able to listen. As a staff, what all these guys at Richmond did was also challenge me, especially Beacher. We’d hear ideas out there and think, “How can we use this information?”
Cal Dietz: Incredibly smart, and, as he told me before I went to grad school, I’ve learned much more from him than any of my classes.
Kevin Kocos: Just like Cal, incredibly smart. Honestly, one of the great things about Minnesota, like Richmond, are the roundtable discussions we’ll have randomly throughout the day. Someone will think of an idea, we gather people for a discussion, and just talk it out.
Jason Elkin: Taught me about life in the private sector, which came in very helpful when I got out here and did some work at a private facility.
Tommy Miller and Andy Zalaiskalns: These guys together made me believe more in myself and my own training than I ever thought I would. Case in point: I had been struggling with sandbag carries one day after deadlifting. I thought I’d call it quits midway through my second “lap.” Andy informed me that he would lock the door and keep me in the weight room until I carried it all the way. So I did.
JD: What next for Danny Raimondi the “editor”? The “coach”?
DR: I’ll be finishing up graduate school in December. After that, we’ll see where I can get a job! I love editing, so that’s something I’ll keep doing. I’m still in touch with Yosef, he keeps me posted on issues regarding publishing. As a coach, I’d love to be in a collegiate position. I’ve been doing a high school program this summer, and while it’s been amazing, I definitely want to get some more experience in college.
JD: Looking at the latest research is something I know you stay to almost as an addiction. Where do you see our field going? What’s the next “big thing” for sport performance coaches when it comes to providing the best for our athletes?
DR: It’s tough for me to say because I’m still very new to this field. One thing I honestly think, or maybe it’s just wishful thinking, is that there will be more cooperation between sport coaches and physical preparation coaches. As for research, I’d love to just see more work done on higher level athletes. One thing that frustrates me often is seeing the population being used, and it almost always being untrained subjects between 18 and 25 years of age. It’s understandable though, as many high level athletes don’t want to give up 6-8 weeks of training to run some “experiment.”
JD: As a coach who’s always reading and researching, in your opinion, what are the 10 books and/or video’s out there that you would recommend and why?
Zatsiorsky, Science and Practice. Simple and basic, such a classic text.
Siff, Supertraining. Another one that’s important for understanding athletic development.
Rippetoe and Kiglore, Starting Strength. Not only is it great for learning lifts, but there’s also great, simple programming that works very effectively.
Yessis, Build a Better Athlete. No one breaks down technique like Doc.
Carnegie, How to win friends and influence people. Best book on building relationships.
Sapolsky, Why zebras don’t get ulcers. Great book on stress and adaptation.
Jamieson, Ultimate MMA Conditioning. His presentation and book still blow my mind.
Verkhoshansky, Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches. Very applicable and well written.
Any video or article that came from Dan John. Great teacher, and really understands simplifying concepts in a way that is easily assimilated.
Pollan, In Defense of Food. While I don’t think it’s the end all be all of nutrition, it comes pretty close.
Extra: Just thought of this, and it’s a life changing read. Elizabeth Gilbert, Last American Man. Really fascinating book on Eustace Conway, who went to the woods at 17 and lived on his own.
JD: Thank for you time, Danny. It’s been a pleasure
DR: Thank you J, it’s an honor to be a part of all of this!
For more from Danny, check out his site, https://raimondistrength.com/
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2 thoughts on “Interview with Danny Raimondi”
Thanks for the reading list, always looking for more lit.
Glad you enjoyed it. In a week or so we’ll have a podcast with Danny where I’m sure he and I will discuss what we’re reading now, and what’s on our future reading list as well. Thanks for checking out the site, we hope you enjoy it.