What would be the top five pointers for someone who is starting in the strength and conditioning business?
My top five pointers are…
I would say number one is try to find a coach that you identify with. Their style, whatever it may be that attracts you to them. That’s number one. And then you read as much as you can about that coach, their methodology, analyze, read who’ve they’ve learned from, the researchers, and so on and so forth. Then once you have enough information or when the time is right, when you feel then reach out to that coach and go learn from that coach for nothing, not for a penny, just offer your help.
I feel internship is one of the most important aspects for the development of growth in any field, and I specifically feel this field of strength and conditioning. That’s what helped me develop in my career, I went to the coaches that I respected, admired, studied, and analyzed, and I learned from them. And I just shut up and I listened, took notes, copious notes, and a lot of those notes, I actually go back to and refer to this date.
So the top five pointers, I would say those are the main two. Have an open mind, I guess would be three. Swallow your pride and pay attention and observe.
One thing I hate when I see interns come into this gym when they’re not paying attention, if they’re on their phones, if they’re having a lot of conversation while they see athletes training and working out. So what that tells me, that sends a signal to me immediately that you’re not paying attention. You’re not actually respecting what’s going on in the gym because you don’t understand. And I also hate, I do not like when I see interns show up to the gym and they don’t know anything about us, because I feel that you should have done your research, you should have done your due diligence in terms of studying, analyzing, reading articles, whatever you need to know about that coach.
And for me, when I showed up to coaches, that was a term of, they knew I was serious because I knew so much about them, what they have done, which athletes they have trained, their methodology. I trained utilizing their programs, apply it on myself. So when I showed up I was prepared and I didn’t talk much, I wrote down my questions to be further expanded or some things I didn’t understand.
But one of the biggest things I did was observed, and I would pick up weights, loaded, make shakes, sweep, clean the washrooms, clean the toilets. I did everything I could do because I knew the value that I was getting. And it’s paying off today with my own business and the athletes I’ve developed. So I would say those that are the main pointers I would give you.
In this field, being humble, being open-minded, the theory and application is the trick because you have tons of theory, things that you learned in the book, but how the really mesh that and apply that on the gym floor with your athletes, with different personalities—strong personalities, weak personalities, unmotivated athletes, motivated athletes—that’s the trick, that is the formula. And those are the things that you have to learn.
So the biggest eye-opener for me, just to give you a story, I remember utilizing what we’d say the taper method on some athletes. I was training for the combine. And when we started to do the old traditional taper—14 days taper, dropping the volume, dropping the intensity—I noticed that my athletes, they weren’t performing as well within the taper, say for the last week of the taper. Actually, when I went to their combine, they were shit, they’d bench like 20, 30 reps.
I remember specifically this wide receiver, the kid did like 25 reps with who was a high school or college kid with 185. And then when it came to the combine, he did like 11 or something like that. What happened was I said, Okay, something was wrong. So that’s when I kind of understand that you can have all the theory you want, but you have to learn how to apply that theory.
I specifically remember reading the book, it was Tudor O. Bompa, in terms of periodization. It was Tudor O. Bompa, Periodization. I was studying and analyzing back then some over 20 years ago, and I was applying those old, say Russian periodization model to some athletes that were training for a combine and the specific wide receiver, this kid was strong as an ox.
I think his kid’s name was Josh Bishop, very strong kid, and his performance level dropped for the combine. I was embarrassed and that stuck out on me. From then on, I started to kind of really do my due diligence and dig and try to figure that puzzle out.
So the biggest thing, and the hardest thing is to try to take that theory and apply that theory in the real world, in application. So those are my pointers for you in terms of getting into the strength and conditioning.