April 28th, 2013.
If you search the date mentioned above, you will not notice much going on in the world. Our president was Barack Obama, the FAA ended their furlough, the Spurs beat the Lakers, and like today, the weather was shaping up to be something special with highs in the 60's. But on this day, I received some news that would forever change my life.
Seven years ago I woke up on a Sunday and went to work. I had a few hours of appointments lined up and as the morning progressed, I saw I had a missed call from my mother. This was kind of unusual as it was still early and typically, I didn’t receive calls from her at this hour. I checked the voicemail and she asked that I call her back. As I listened to the message, I knew something was not right. My mind ran through all kinds of options of what could have gone wrong but I tried to refocus my thoughts and get back to work. I trained a few more people and as I was waiting for a childhood friend to arrive, I decided to give her a call back.
As my mother answered the phone, she began to weep. She said "he's gone Chris. Ryan is gone". My older brother was found dead at the age of 29. The cause of death: apparent drug overdose.
A few years prior to receiving this call, my brother had a lot of positive things going on. He received a teaching degree from Penn State University, was coaching wrestling at Saucon Valley, and also taught young kids at an early education center. He was great at working a room so he used these skills to help him excel as a coach and teacher. He made a lot of connections with people and built some great relationships over the years. Things were trending in the right direction for him but only on the surface. Behind closed doors, he was struggling
There are far too many people reading this who have seen loved ones suffer with addiction. If you are one of the few who haven’t, I will give you a small glimpse of what addiction looks like behind closed doors. There are manic swings in mood, falling asleep at random times, crashing vehicles, crying, doing unsavory things for money, checking couch cushions for change, multiple stints in and out of rehab, trips to the emergency room, withdrawal, and this is only a small glimpse. The suffering that the addict goes through is always present. It doesn't go away. The addicted person never imagines that this will be their destiny but for most, this is the reality.
Addiction is- more often than not- totally misunderstood. It is not a weakness in character or discipline that one can just "get over". I remember some guys asking me back when my brother was struggling if I whooped his ass to set him straight. I looked at them and was like "how the hell would that fix anything?" Addiction can stem from a lot of things. Sometimes it is the result of a chemical hook, other times it is the result of feeling like there is no way out. For some, it is the result of both and this is a scary place to be.
In our culture, there is judgment cast upon those who struggle with substance abuse. I ask of you, before casting judgment, imagine their despair. Imagine what it must feel like to believe there is no option. Oftentimes people sit back and say, I wish I would have known. I wish they would have said something. I wish they would have asked for help. But think about what they must be going through. Think about asking for help and how hard it is to do so when things are going well. Now imagine you are a drug addict who feels like they have no worth and are vulnerable and depressed. You think they are going to be willing to open up and ask for assistance?
There are few things sadder in this world than seeing someone you love suffer. There are few things sadder in this world than encountering a person who knows exactly what he or she should do, yet cannot muster enough energy to do so. There is nothing sadder in this world than seeing someone give up on life.
For those readers who may think that this topic will never touch their life- I ask you to think again. Nobody ever envisions that they will suffer from addiction. Nobody ever thinks that a chemical will gain control of them and that they will not be able to escape it. It truly can happen to any of us. But we need to keep one thing in mind: Every addict is a human being, a completely redeemable human being. If we cross paths with someone who is struggling, don’t view them with contempt. View them as someone who might need someone right now in this very moment. Because after all, moments on this earth are never guaranteed. We have to make the most of them when they present themselves before they no longer exist.
Through all our differences, Ryan was one person who was always proud of me. He was always supportive and I miss him. I wish he was around to see so many things that happened over the years but more importantly, to meet my daughter. We named her Emilia Ryan so there will always be a little bit of him in her. I just hope it is not his temper!
As the saying goes, "so long as they speak your name, you shall never die". Today, I will speak my brothers name and hope you will as well!
In early February, as the Coronavirus was slowly making its way to the United States, I was set to go to a clinic in Boston. I was excited for this as two of the speakers there were guys that really shaped my methodology regarding not only training, but also life. The clinic was scheduled for Saturday but early Friday morning, we ran into a little hiccup!
Our daughter woke up after midnight with a terrible cough. Her crying didn’t help the matter and she was really struggling to get air in. We figured that she had croup but we were not totally sure. We tried to steam her in the bathroom to no avail. We then tried the cold air outside but that did not seem to help either. So we loaded up and made our way to the hospital! We spent a few hours there and she responded immediately to the treatment. After making sure there was no rebound effect, we made our way home sometime between 3:30 - 4:00 am. It was a rough night but we were glad that things were handled so well at the hospital and she was feeling much better.
During our time at the hospital I was able to nod off for 20-30 minutes. It felt like the deepest sleep that I have ever been in. It made me realize the value of deprivation. If you take something away from somebody and then allow that same thing back in, they value it so much more. Anyhow, after we made it home I only had time for about one hour of sleep before my alarm would go off for work. I was going to "suck it up" and go in and not cancel my morning. I only had a few appointments so I thought I could pull it off. Once my morning ended, it was time to go home to rest.
After the morning appointments I drove home I realized that everyone could still be sleeping, dogs included. If you ever been by our house you know our Jack Russell's can make quite a stir if you enter their territory. So, instead of going into the house and getting the dogs all fired up, and waking the house up, I opted for a car nap. I reclined the seat and closed my eyes. I nodded off for a few minutes but soon realized the car is just not as comfortable as one's own bed!
As I got inside I realized that my daughter is awake and after the night she had, I skipped going to sleep and decided to spend some time with her playing around and doing whatever else she wanted! After a few hours of hanging out, Emi was ready for her nap and I was ready to hit the road. It was already around noon and I didn't want to drive there at night. After getting about 2-3 hours of sleep the previous 24 hours, I hit the road to Boston. This was a bad idea. I did not know it at the time but what I decided to do that day was incredibly risky and something that I should never attempt again!
Last week I wrapped up reading a book titled Why We Sleep by Mathew Walker. In it, he discusses some very scary statistics on driving while tired. For starters, you don’t always know how sleep deprived you are when you are sleep deprived. In my case, I was well aware of the possibility but like everyone else who drives while sleepy, I thought I could “work through it” and make it there safely. I did and because of that, it could open the door for future errors in judgment. Arriving safely reinforced the idea that I can successfully drive while tired. The next time a situation like this arises, I could think to myself, “Well, I made it to Boston on a few hours of sleep, I should be good to go for this trip”. This type of thinking could lead to a fatal mistake!
If we start looking at the effect lack of sleep has on car accidents, we start with those of us who get 6-7 hours of sleep. If that is you, you have a 1.3 times increase in incidence of being in a car accident. If you sleep 5-6 hours, there is a 1.9 times increase. 4-5 hours has a 4.3 times increase and if you sleep less than 4 hours, which is what was the case with me, there is an 11.5 times increase in the incidence of being in a car accident! Continuing with frightful statistics from the book, according to Walker, if you were to have a wakefulness of 19 hours, you are as cognitively impaired in your ability to attend to the road and what is around you as a legally drunk driver. It is like the person who stumbles their way out of the bar noticeably drunk and says to their friends, “I am fine to drive, I do this all the time!”
There is more to this story than just driving while incredibly tired. After short weekend trip to Boston, I decided to get back home early on Sunday. The ride was uneventful and because of all the sitting I did the past three days, I thought I would get out for a long walk. Unfortunately, this walk felt terrible and it was a sign of things to come!
My legs were fatigued and I was finding myself short of breath. I didn't think much of it and was hoping a good nights rest would cure it all. As the days went by, things got worse and worse. The following day started out okay but as the day progressed, I began feeling worse and worse. My throat began to hurt and my voice became scratchy. That night, I woke up shivering with my teeth chattering and shaking uncontrollably. I checked my temperature the following day and it was over 101 degrees!
The illness I experienced really opened my eyes to how interconnected everything is. The stress of my daughter's visit to the hospital, the lack of sleep, the unwillingness to take time off, all of these things led me to have a compromised immune system. With the immune system not functioning to its full potential, it led me to be more susceptible to illness. Fast forward a few months and we are now in the midst of a pandemic. If we don't keep all of these things in mind and take everything into consideration when viewing our health, the mistake we make could be more severe than those mistakes I made in February.
In addition to being mindful of our well-being, there are things that we can do to promote good health for ourselves. For one, I would recommend getting a good nights sleep (sounds obvious after my debacle in February)! Try to keep your sleep and wake cycle consistent for every day of the week. In addition to that, you should aim to get between 7-9 hours of sleep. This means actual sleep, not time in bed on youtube, texting or watching shows like Tiger King on Netflix.
Remember, 7 hours is the minimum. In order to reach that, you should create a plan and here is the kicker, follow the plan! This is how I would sort out my sleep schedule: figure out what time you plan to wake the following day and count backwards 9 hours. A 6 am wake-up means that you should get in bed by 9 pm. Eliminate electronics including phone and television and implement things that may aid in getting your body ready for sleep. For me, I like to take a hot shower, drink some tea, take some supplements like Magnesium and CBD Oil, then read or listen to a book before bed. If you give yourself 9 hours in bed, the hope would be that even if you read for an hour, you will still get the recommended 8 hours of sleep. If it takes two hours to fall asleep, you would still get the minimum requirement.
The second thing I would recommend is partake in some type of physical activity each and every day. Ideally, this will take place in the morning. Not only will it help you sleep better at night but it can also improve your overall health which means a healthier you! I'm not saying that having a six-pack will ward off germs but I am saying that being as healthy and fit as possible is a good place to start!
When coronavirus first started to appear, those with pre-existing conditions were most at risk. We can help fight against such pre-existing conditions by exercising and keeping a regular fitness regiment. To name a few areas that exercise can help is improvements in your heart & respiratory function, reduce inflammation, mitigate stress and help fight against other potential harmful mental states that may occur during this pandemic. Our fitness training should support a healthy lifestyle. Train hard, don't compromise your immune system in anyway, consider the health of others, and keep fighting the good fight!
As I sat down to write this week's blog post, I had a few different ideas running through my head. Some of these topics include tips on sleep, preparing for an upcoming sports season with little to no pre-season training, and how to keep yourself “game ready” so when the time comes and you can compete, you will be steps ahead of your competition.
But then Tuesday happened…
Just to give you a little back story, my two year old daughter has a pretty unique life. On our property, we have horses, dogs, cats, baby chickens, and whatever else wildlife just so happens to fly or scurry by. She wakes up each morning with an animal snuggled in her bed and we hear her giggling and petting them upon waking. In this regard, she is very lucky.
Most mornings she “helps” her mother take care of the horses, and is becoming quite comfortable around them. As I write this at 7:32 am, I just heard her say “Emi walking horsies as she looked out the window at them”. Oftentimes we take a look to see what she is up to when we are outside and she is typically off rubbing a horse on the face or neck. Her favorite horse to pet and hang out with was Hershey. Or, as so many others including my daughter liked to call him, Old Man Hersh. Hershey's nickname was well-founded as he was 35 years young!
Now, Hershey, in and of itself, is quite a remarkable story. There are stories upon stories about this horse and the things he did over his lifetime. The parades, the horse shows, his love of snapple, his ability to smile, and of course, his ability to escape any “enclosed area”. He was like the Harry Houdini of the horse world and an incredible escape artist! But to me, the one thing I enjoyed most about him was how sweet he was to my daughter. This past Sunday, we decided to let Emilia ride Old Man Hersh. She was so happy! She smiled the entire time as we walked them around the property and would have stayed up there for hours if we would have let her. From that moment on, we heard “Emi ride Old Man Hersh” non-stop!
On Tuesday, as the day progressed and the weather was beautiful we thought that Emi could take Hersh out for a ride after she took her nap. As we got her ready to go, she looked at me and said, “Emi rides Old Man Hersh”. I thought it was the cutest thing ever and said to myself, I should have her say that again and I will record it. I decided it might sound inauthentic if I made her repeat herself and she was already two or three steps outside as she excitedly walked her way to the barn. I said to myself, "I'll record it another day" and out the door we went!
As Emi and I walked across the driveway towards the barn, I saw Hershey lying on the ground in an area he typically wouldn’t lie in. Because of his age, he had free reign over the property. He had an open stall door policy that allowed him to come and go as he pleased and if he wanted to be out doing his thing, he could do that. So for him to be lying in this area I thought something was up. I said, “Marisa, can you go look at Hersh?” She asked if he was okay and I said “I am not sure, just please look”. I started to walk Emi towards the barn and peaked around the corner and Marisa said, “It’s not good”.
I took Emi to one of our stalls and gave her a few peppermints to hold. I told her to stand right there and to hold on to the peppermints and when we got Hershey to his feet, we could give him those treats. I then went outside to help Marisa as we waited for the vet to arrive. We tried to do everything we could to help him with no luck. The vet came and looked him over but couldn’t quite figure out what was going on. We could not find a way to get him to his belly and eventually to his feet. We continued to try and help but Hershey was fighting us. He did not want to go to his belly. Upon further examination, the vet found a break in Hershey’s leg/shoulder. It was pretty severe. That bone is extremely dense in a horse and for it to break, something significant must have happened. The bone would not be repairable. Marisa spoke with the vet and they made the tough decision.
I have to say something about our little two year old and her understanding of the situation. So as we entered the barn, I gave her a few peppermints and said, “Emi, stand here. Mommy and Daddy have to work. Hershey is stuck and needs help”. She was 15 feet away from us but behind one of those barn doors where the top and bottom are detached (I believe they are known as Dutch doors). We had the top open but kept the bottom closed so she couldn’t see. I would periodically check on her and she didn’t budge. She stood in the exact same spot I asked her to stand in with her peppermints in hand. That, in and of itself, impressed the hell out of me and made me a little emotional. She knew something was going on and did exactly what I asked of her. Eventually, when the decision was made, we allowed her to come out and give Hershey a few rubs, a few kisses, to say goodbye and of course those peppermints she had been holding.
After the vet left, we had to navigate this situation with our two year old daughter. She had her helmet and saddle ready and her heart was set on riding Old Man Hersh. We had to explain to her that that would not be happening today. We had to explain to her that Hershey was not going to be with us anymore. She looked at us and said, “Ahh” which is the way she says yes when she is taking news in or may be a little confused. We went inside, made some food, took the dogs for a walk, but it didn’t stop her from wondering about Hersh. That night, Marisa was out in the barn and I told her that Mom was working and she said, “Mom-mom working, Old Man Hersh stuck”. I said no baby, Hershey is not stuck anymore and she gave me her “ahh” response.
As I was putting the finishing touches on this article I was trying to think of some great lesson learned that I can share with the reader but soon realized I have none. I have no advice on how to cope with losing a beloved animal or explaining to a child that their animal will no longer be with us. I am having a hard time navigating this just like everyone else would. But in the end, this article is about the bond my daughter created with a pretty remarkable horse who meant a lot to so many people.
Rest in peace Hersh, thanks for being so kind to Emi and everyone else you touched!
Flash back a few months and I never would have guessed we would be in the situation we are in today. No school, no work, no public gatherings. My business has really taken a hit by all this but on the flip side, it has given me time and time is something I always wish I had more of!
During this period of isolation, I have been able to spend countless hours with my daughter, go for walks with the family, watch television series like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and The Dark Side of Wrestling, and more recently just started watching some crazy show about a guy who calls himself Joe Exotic and has 200+ big cats on his property. And here I thought I was a cat guy!
Anyhow, I also been reading a lot. One book that I recently dove into was Jurassic Park. Typically, I am not one to read fiction but needed a break from some of the heavy reading material that I have been getting myself into. This book was incredible and had me hooked from the start! There are three things from this book that really grabbed my attention that I will discuss below.
In this book, there is a character that goes by the name of Ian Malcolm (In the movie, he is portrayed by the actor Jeff Goldblum). Malcolm is a mathematician who, from the initial planning stages, doubted the possibility of something like Jurassic Park ever being able to work. The owner/mastermind of the park invited him to tour the facility prior to opening and prove him, along with his Chaos Theory, to be completely wrong. Not to spoil the fun for everyone but as it turns out, that is not how things played out!
Now on to chaos theory. In the book, Malcolm uses chaos theory to explain why the park will not work. He states that complex systems can’t be controlled and nature can’t be imitated. Applied to his situation, we cannot put animals in a park and control their every move. We can’t control how they breed. We can’t control nature. We can try and do our best, but in the end, nature is going to win out. As Ian Malcolm states, “this planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale”.
Applied to our current situation, the laws of nature are currently at play. There is a virus spreading in our community, in our country, and throughout the world. We can only control so much. We can wash our hands, put on a mask, stay at home, follow social distancing guidelines, sanitize and clean everything, and the list goes on, but yet, the virus is still spreading. Nature is going to continue to do its thing. That being said, it doesn't mean we should not do whatever we can to discourage the spread of this virus. Afterall, we, as humans, are a part of nature and need to impact our environment in the most positive way possible!
On to the next point...
“Linearity is an artificial way of viewing the world. Real life isn’t a series of interconnected events occurring one after another like beads strung on a necklace. Life is actually a series of encounters in which one event may change those that follow in a wholly unpredictable, even devastating way” -- Ian Malcolm
There are those that believe that if something goes one way the first time, it should and will go that way every time. Think about a drop of water hitting your hand. After the water hits your hand, that water will roll off to one side and hit the floor. If you were to repeat that water drop hundreds of times from the exact same spot, I can almost guarantee that the water will not roll off onto the floor in the same exact way as that first drop. The water amount, the drop height of the drop, the conditions of the hand, seem to be constant but they are not. It is the butterfly effect: one small change in one system can have a large effect on the greater system.
Applied to life under quarantine, we can look at ourselves as one of those drops of water. For some of us, we may be able to go to work, be out in public, not follow any of the guidelines and never get sick. For others, we may follow all the rules and still end up catching something. I think back to a few months ago when I came down with flu-like symptoms. After a late night hospital visit for my daughter that resulted in 2 hours of sleep for me, I drove 5+ hours to Boston the following day. I was drained and fell asleep almost immediately upon arriving. The next day I sat in a conference room for 8 hours and the next day, I drove home. I was feeling rundown and knew I needed some rest. The stress from my daughter being sick, the lack of sleep, the commute, all left me ripe for an illness. The following night I woke up freezing with my teeth chattering and wondering what in the world did I come down with.
The circumstances that occur each day matter. You can’t assume that something that worked for you before will work again. You can’t assume that what worked for others (in this country or others) will work for you. If I would have gotten a full night's rest and hadn’t traveled to Boston, maybe my immune system would have been a bit stronger and not fell victim to that illness. But that is not what happened. I was tired, stressed, and worn out. The result was a fever for a few days and it took weeks to finally feel like I had my strength back.
Learn from me on this one. Now is not a great time to get sick and in need of medical care. Do everything you can to get adequate rest, mitigate stress to the best of your ability, read a book, get some exercise in, and take every precaution necessary to avoid being exposed to illness.
“A day is like a whole life. You start out doing one thing, but end up doing something else, plan to run an errand, but never get there… And at the end of your life, your whole existence has that same haphazard quality, too. Your whole life has the same shape as a single day” -- Ian Malcolm
Working from home during this time has been an eye-opening experience. For one, it is hard to find some time to get work done when you have a two year old. The time passes and before you realize it, you got absolutely nothing done for that day. It reminds me of the movie Groundhog Day. That pattern can continue over the days, weeks, months, and years. Before you know it, you are in your thirties, forties, or fifties and wondering what the heck happened to your life? So, take the time that you have right now at home to do what is important. Spend time with your family. Be optimistic and when this thing passes, be ready to take on the world!
To say that the youth sport culture has changed would be the understatement of all understatements. Now, I don’t want to come across as one of those guys that uses the “back in my day” storytelling style, but let me tell you something, back in my day, things were different. Kids played pickup games with friends. We played street hockey, basketball, football, had homerun derby’s, and tons of other things I can’t even think of. There were no rules made by adults. We made the rules and did whatever we felt like doing that day. And when we were done, we probably ate some pizza, drank soda, and washed that down with a pack of skittles and then called it a day. I am 32 years old, so, in my mind “back in my day” wasn’t that long ago, or maybe it was…
The benefits of youth sports are well known. Kids learn leadership, have fun with friends, can build self-esteem, promotes physical activity, and they get to socialize with peers. These things would benefit any kid. We need to keep them participating in athletics. It is crucial. But we have entered a new era for youth athletics. Unstructured play time is not as common as it once was. Take a look at some of the parks or basketball courts that were popular for you as a kid. Are kids still playing there? Is the park even there anymore? Now, we have clubs, travel teams, structured practice every day, and coaches/adults involved in everything. We also have kids participating in one activity 365 days out of the year with little to no variation. Because of this, it is no wonder why statistics like this exist: 70% of youth athletes discontinue playing a sport by age 13.
So what should we do as adults, coaches, and parents? It appears the recipe for long term success is as follows: Early Sport Diversification + Delayed Sport Specialization = A greater likelihood of lifelong sports involvement, a lifetime of physical fitness, and possible elite participation. The key word there is possible. If we look at the numbers, depending on the sport, only 3-11% of high school athletes play collegiate sports. 1% may actually get a scholarship and 0.3-0.5% might even reach the pros. Now, if you take a look at those numbers, you need to truly be an outlier in order to specialize. For the rest of us, the focus should be placed not on scholarship, but on varied sport participation and encouraging lifelong training habits. Once high school ends, if we are not playing a collegiate sport, we need to have training habits established that we can do at any age. So lets take a look at the best way to develop athletes starting from day one.
Six Stages of Long Term Athletic Development:
Each year, as the summer approaches, I get fired up. School is out and my mind starts playing tricks on me. I begin to think about my summer schedule and start thinking that this might be the year I will have some time to enjoy the sun and warm weather. But then reality hits and the schedule is swamped. Before you know it, the summer is over, football season has begun, and I am back on the sidelines coaching.
During all of this, something was amiss. I realized that I have been getting a little lazy regarding my fitness and my workout routine was taking a huge hit. It was tough to muster energy and motivation some days after working long hours. I would go home for a nap and tell myself I would workout in the evening. The evening would come and go and there would be no training going on. I was slacking big time. I totally lacked the discipline to get in a good workout at the end of the day. Fortunately, a moment of enlightenment arrived, and I was reminded of a quote from one of my favorite podcasters Jocko Willinck: Discipline = Freedom. My mindset and plan needed a change. Turns out, it was going to be a drastic one: I began to get up at 4:30 am to get after it in the gym.
When i made my mind up, I started to do some reading. I came to the conclusion that a high percentage of high performers have disciplined morning routines. They wake up and they begin preparations for the upcoming day. The more strict you are with your daily schedule and procedures, the greater the likelihood to operate efficiently throughout the day. The routine that YOU create is to ensure that no minute is wasted. This efficiency in your day to day activities will free up time for you to do the things you enjoy like hanging with loved ones, reading, or working on a hobby. When you are not disciplined to follow your routine and procedures, you will lose valuable time. Efficiency will go down. Time will be lost. A lack of discipline will lead to a lack of time. A lack of time leaves you with little to no freedom.
You may be asking, "why wake-up so early?" For those of you who like a challenge, every morning when that alarm clock sounds, you get one. Each day you have two choices: wake up or go back to sleep. If you have the discipline to get up, you win. If a moment of weakness begins to show its head, and you hit that snooze button, you lose. Who wouldn't want to start each day with a win? Especially when all you have to do is get out of bed for the win! Another great thing about getting up early is that at this time, the world is a quiet and dark place. You don't have to worry about getting emails or notifications on your phone. The time in the morning is yours and yours alone. There are no distractions, scheduling conflicts, traffic, none of it. If you put off your workout to later in the day, these distractions are inevitable. They will show up at the worst possible time and wreak havoc on your schedule. Thus, it is important to understand that you have the power to control your schedule in such a way to not let these distractions effect you and your fitness.
In a time when the words, "I am too busy" seem to come up on a daily basis, I challenge you to make more time. The best way to do that is to wake up earlier. One extra hour in bed each day equals 7 hours a week, which equals 28 hours a month, which equals 15 days per year! Wouldn't we all love to have an extra 15 days? We can, if you GET UP when that alarm goes off. Keep that in mind next time you are mindlessly on your phone or binge watching Netflix late into the evening. Your days may be a little less hectic if you can get yourself some sleep and up a little earlier!
P.S. To reward those who have decided to make a change and will begin a morning workout regiment, Brickhouse Strength is offering an Early Bird Training Special! We have morning sessions starting at 5:45 am, 6:45 am, and 8:30 am. For more information on this special, click below. I look forward to hearing from you!
A few weeks ago I was having a talk with a few fellow coaches and parents and came to this realization: young female athletes do not get the same training opportunities as their male counterparts. This may not sound surprising to most of you reading this but when considering the dangers for female athletes, it should be very concerning.
In order to correct this, these young athletes need opportunities to learn and train how to move their bodies in a safe and efficient manner. I believe that most lower body injuries can be prevented. We cannot eliminate them completely but we can try like heck to reduce the rate of injury!
In less than three weeks, Brickhouse Strength Performance Camps will be offering a speed camp designed specifically for the female athlete aged 7-14. This camp will take place at Saucon Valley High School and will begin on July 17th and end on July 20th. Each session will begin at 9 am and end at 11 am. Over the course of these four days, athletes will be coached on a variety of skills with a focus being placed on: leg & core strength; neuromuscular training; and landing mechanics. They will also be instructed on speed technique, agility training, and conditioning to get them prepared for the upcoming season.
Registration has been open for a few weeks now and we have received incredible support and feedback for those that reached out. If you are one of those who have registered, thank you!
If you have not registered but feel this would be a great camp for your daughter, the clock is ticking and time is running out!
To register, click the button below!
Over the past few months I have had what feels like dozens of conversations with many parents, peers, athletic trainers and coaches about the increased incidence of injury in female athletes, especially to the knee joint. Now, each person I spoke with developed their own theory on why this occurs, but one thing we all agreed on was this: There is a lack of training opportunities for the female athlete. PERIOD!
One of the biggest mysteries to me is why aren't these opportunities there for these girls? Especially when you consider the facts:
In order to correct this, these young athletes need opportunities. I have met and worked with dozens of girls who are going to college for athletics but have never stepped foot into a weightroom or have been coached on the fundamentals of speed & agility development. This is concerning. I believe that most lower body injuries can be prevented. Unfortunately we cannot make these injuries go away for good but we are able to reduce the incidence rate.
Here is how we do it:
Which brings me on to something that I am really excited about. This summer Brickhouse Strength Performance Camps will be offering a speed camp designed specifically for the female athlete aged 7-14 (high school training opportunities will be held separate). This camp will take place at Saucon Valley High School and will begin on July 17th and end on July 20th. Each session will begin at 9 am and end at 11 am. Over the course of these four days, athletes will be coached on a variety of skills with a focus being placed on the three aforementioned areas: leg & core strength; neuromuscular training; and landing mechanics. They will also be instructed on speed technique, agility training, and conditioning to get them prepared for the upcoming season.
If you have any questions, contact Chris at email@example.com.
If you would like to register, click the button below:
I hope to see you all in July!
The month of April brought on an incredible opportunity to work with a group of individuals who are at the top of their profession. This all went down in Indianapolis last week for the FDIC Firefighter Conference. To put this event in a nutshell, as many as 30,000 of the worlds greatest firefighters gather in Indy to learn more about their craft. My team and I were fortunate to be part of the 197 Hands On Training Instructors for this conference. This was my first year there so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I have to thank my buddy Matt who works with the New York City Fire Department for inviting me to be a part of this all.
The topic that we discussed with our group of 60 men and women from all over the world involved the physical aspect of their job, how to train the body and mind to appropriately deal with the stressors their job brings, and how to "unwind" when the shift ends and life outside the fire house begins. Their job requires them to be ready when the bell rings. There is no way around that. They do not have 8-12 minutes to get in a dynamic warmup. When that bell rings, it is go time!
To replicate this during training is no easy task. Our goal was to present them with ideas and information that they can take back to their fire house for implementation. The main priority is to keep these individuals healthy and on the job. That being said, injury prevention is non-negotiable. It must be the focus of training.
So how do you do that? To me, it comes down to three things:
Now, if you are able to make improvements in these three areas, you will be ready to move and react in much more efficient manner when that bell rings. There will be no limping while climbing stairs. No issues hauling equipment, and overall, you will be a much more healthy individual. These events are stressful. If you can get your body to be ready for anything, it's one less thing you have to focus on or worry about on the job. You know it will not be your fitness that holds you back.
If you have any questions regarding this topic, or may work in a firehouse who may be interested in discussing the details of our presentation, please get in touch. We would gladly come to your station to talk shop!
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About 1 year ago I came across a podcast that had a guest on by the name of Cal Dietz. This man has coached collegiate athletes for over 20 years and many of these athletes have gone on to careers in professional sports. Over and over he and the podcast host would refer to his book titled Triphasic Training and the interesting concepts that came from it. After hearing their discussion, I decided I needed to pick this book up and get after it.
If you decide to by this, let me warn you, this book reads like a textbook. After reading this book, I realized that this is stuff that I could apply to the athletes I coach at the school where I work and also with my business. I put some of these principles into practice and have gotten some incredible results. Strength numbers have gone through the roof in all categories. There have been kids seeing a 20 pound improvement in the bench press in one month and a 40 pound improvement in the front squat over the same time. But what really caught me by surprise was the speed, agility and jump test results. Keep in mind, we have not really trained to improve in any of these areas specifically. All we have been doing is lifting weights and working in some mobility/flexibility work. The results were incredible. In the vertical jump, forty yard dash, and pro agility (5-10-5), all kids have seen improvement. Some kids jump result saw as much as a 4 inch improvement in the vertical, 0.21 seconds in the forty, and 0.5 second improvement in the pro agility. This all occurred over the winter sport season, or roughly 10 weeks. Remember, we did little to no technique work on these drills. The transfer from weight room to drills was incredible.
Improving overall strength will improve these test results. That, my friends, has been proven. But what I felt helped the most is the addition of the Triphasic principles. Triphasic training involves three different types of muscle contractions: eccentric phase, isometric phase, and concentric phase. To explain this simply, for an exercise like the bench press, the eccentric phase occurs while you lower the bar to your chest, the isometric phase occurs when you hold the bar at a fixed position above your chest (basically you pause with the bar an inch or two above your chest), and the concentric phase occurs when you press the bar. In years past, we focused primarily on concentric training. We would want the kids to move the bar as fast as possible. We still want them to do that, but now we added in a few wrinkles.
How we train the eccentric phase...
Some days, for an exercise like the squat or bench, we would take 6 seconds to lower the bar. During this time, our body is working hard to fight gravity. We are training our bodies to decelerate a load. Building strength in this area is important in regards to decelerating our body when we land from a jump. Everybody wants to train acceleration (we love it to) but often deceleration gets neglected. We can only improve our acceleration time by so much. The next thing we can do is improve our deceleration time. The faster we decelerate, the sooner we can accelerate. Think about it this way, if me and you can accelerate our bodies evenly, but I am more efficient decelerating my body, I will beat you. Having the ability to decelerate quickly, then accelerate is crucial in every sport.
How we train the isometric phase...
Lets look at the front squat. We load the bar to the required weight, we lower the bar quickly and then put the breaks on and hold the bottom position of the squat for 3 seconds before lifting it explosively. We want to descend with the bar fast and come to a controlled stop in the bottom position. From there, we will fight gravity and hold. We are building strength at the bottom of this lift. Lowering the bar fast and slamming on the breaks puts our body through a training stimulus that we would not see in years past.
How we train the concentric phase...
Lift heavy weights, preferably 90+% of your one rep max, or heavier, for a few reps. So, if your max is 200 pounds, you will train at or above 180 pounds for a few sets of 1-3 reps. No rocket science here. Lift heavy, lift fast, rest, and repeat. The kids love these workouts.
I feel building strength in all three phases has been a game changer. Believe me, this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you really want to dive into this stuff more, check out the book Triphasic Training by Cal Dietz. Or, if you don't feel like reading a text and want to bounce a few questions off me, you know where to find me!