What I Learned at The Seminar Part II-Matt Thome

As a follow up to Jay’s article, I thought I’d add some of the key points that I personally learned at this year’s Seminar. I know this seems redundant, however, the wealth of information covered in April has left us with a lot to talk about (to say the least). So let’s get right to it.

Mike Robertson:
Being an avid reader of his blog and having seen Mike Robertson present before, I have to say, leading up to the seminar I was very excited to see what else there was to learn from this guy. Mike’s presentation encompassed his view of what corrective exercise actually is and also gave various examples of people who it would benefit most. If we can identify limitations and make simple adjustments to target those limitations, we will be able to greatly impact performance. Of course we all know that our programming should be based on our client or athlete’s weaknesses, but do we actually do this, or just lead ourselves to believe we are? And while we’re working to elevate the level of these limitations, what’s happening with everything else? In other words, are we providing the right amount of focus on these weak areas while still improving performance, or has the rest of the program come to a halt altogether?
Lesson: There are many facets to athletic performance. Make sure to provide the proper amount of focus to each area based on individual needs.

Cal Dietz:
It seems recently I have heard a lot of people mention how “there’s more than one correct way to train an athlete.” And while I agree, we also have to remember that there are many incorrect ways too. This is the first time I’ve seen Cal present and I have to say, my first impression is that he is truly an innovator in strength & conditioning. He definitely has a different approach, but his approach is backed by all the right principles. Since Jay already stressed what I felt was the largest point of Cal’s presentation, I just want to say that I think it’s pretty cool that Cal has replaced the programming of a set number of reps with a specific duration. (Reps have become seconds). Just something interesting to think about.
Lesson: Once you know the key principles, be creative, try new things, and see what works best. The weight room is your laboratory.

Joel Jamison:
A big part of monitoring is learning how to utilize the technology we have available to its full potential. However, the biggest take-away I feel I got from Joel’s presentation was how to organize and simplify this data so it’s usable and “track-able.” We can collect all the data we want and even if we understand every aspect of it, after a certain period of time it’s going to be very difficult and time consuming if we don’t have a system in place to analyze it.
Lesson: Track the details without losing sight of the big picture.

Landon Evans:
Landon’s presentation showed us what his “big picture” looks like. There are many factors that affect the athletes we work with. We can’t just stay in our weight room (or basement in our case) and ignore every other aspect. On that note, Landon made a great point, even if he just briefly touched upon it. He said that strength coaches always feel the need to “get to” the weight room (as if that’s where all of our “real” training will take place). For example, maybe you’re doing some specific movement work prior to your “weight room work,” we’ll say. There seems to always be a need to rush and make sure you get to the weight room on time. As (I think) Landon put it, the weight room is “just a place with some means.”
Lesson: Why do you add resistance to certain movements? Why do you do any of the things you do? Have you ever really thought about it?

Val Nasedkin:
Just as I was speaking about “knowing the principles” in Cal’s write-up, Val gave us a short lesson on what these principles actually are. In short, a primary aspect of the training process needs to be directed towards the body’s ability to return to homeostasis after a certain amount of stress is imposed upon it. We need to be looking at all the functional systems of the body and well, we all need to be studying a lot more.
Lesson: My Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology may actually be of some benefit as a Strength & Conditioning Coach!

Natalia Verkhoshansky:
Shock Method
With so many great presentations and the wealth of knowledge dropped at this seminar, it’s difficult to choose a favorite. I really feel though, that Natalia’s presentation on the Shock Method was probably the best I’ve ever seen at any seminar or conference. The all-inclusive history, science and practicality was simply amazing. Undoubtedly Natalia must be considered the current world expert on the subject and if you train athletes, you really need to see this presentation.
Lesson: Jump training is more complex than most of us have ever thought. There are many different jumps but also various ways to execute these jumps in order to emphasize certain physical qualities.

General Adaptation Syndrome
Without the proper testing devices or physiology lab on hand, the concepts Natalia speaks about in this presentation would be very hard to implement immediately. However, understanding general adaptation syndrome is really the essence of what we know as “the art” of physical preparation. Now, I know what you’re thinking, especially if you were at the Seminar and yes, this was a very science-dense presentation. Really though, the main idea, what my friend/mentor Yosef Johnson has told me numerous times, is that it’s all about applying the right dose at the right time. Of course, it gets a little more complicated than that. Just watch the presentation. Learn it and know your craft.
Lesson: We need to learn the science behind what we do and then we need to apply it. We need to gain an “eye” for training, a feel for the art. This only comes from knowing and applying the right principles over and over and over again. Learning what Natalia says in this presentation is a good start.

I apologize if there’s a lot of “big picture this, big picture that” cliché type thoughts here. Really though, that’s the way it was and that’s why this seminar was so great. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, thinking outside the box is great, but first we have to know what the box is.

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