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Category: Teaching (page 1 of 4)

Remembering a Mentor

RIP Frank Engel (Nov 2, 1961 – Jan 7, 2020)

You wouldn’t be reading this were it not for Frank Engel.

Back in 2004… it would have had to be around fall… my hockey coach, Rocky Trottier, told us that we were old enough to start lifting weights. So many of us did.

I had spent countless hours of my youth hurling hockey pucks at garages, nets, brick walls. I had a piece of plastic fake ice. I liked playing with a longer stick because I could really confuse attackers when they came through. I liked taking slap shots because I wasn’t good at wrist shots. I practiced stick handling fast, but never learned how to do it without looking down at the puck. And I spent my other free time playing hockey video games.

I wanted to be a professional hockey player, and I knew that I would need to practice — to get better — if I were going to get there.

So when Rocky recommended we start lifting weights, I was on board. That’s something that athletes do, so I should do that.

I remember walking in the first day. There’s lots of commotion. I’m not a loud guy, but I at least knew a few of the people around. I had no idea how to do any of the lifts I was about to do.

So I walk up to this hulking, scruffy dude who tells me the workout is on the whiteboard. I think he even gave me a notebook to track my workout. He gave me all the weights, told me to walk around to the different pieces and just do the workout. The last one was a trap bar deadlift: 150lbs for 10 reps. “That one’s gonna kick your ass,” he told me.

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You’re a Trip, Man

Have you ever gone on a cross-country road trip? Just you, a bag of clothes, and a car?

Have you ever spent extended time alone? On purpose?

A few years ago, I got in my car and started driving west. I’m a creature of comfort. My family is easy to be around. My friends and I have great discussion. I was coaching in a gym that meant so much to me and was a HUGE piece of my development… both as a human, and a coach.

But I needed to break the cycle. I needed to get more UNcomfortable. If I didn’t, I would never grow… at least as much as I expected from myself.

I drove out to Denver, CO from Indy in two days. I stayed at a sketchy hotel on the way out there (there was a sign that said, “Best Western is not responsible if your things are stolen”). I met some Airbnb people and finally saw what mountains look like (this just in: they’re gorgeous). I even went HIKING.

Now that trip… THAT was an experience.

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Training Tip: When to Use Offset Loading

Here’s a recent¬†question from one of my distance clients:

Do you use offsets frequently? Always contralateral or do you use ipsilateral?

I¬†love this question because I think it’s one of the best illustrations of the art of coaching. Not often are things black and white.

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Why the Romanian Deadlift?

Here’s a recent question from a distance client of mine.

Why RDL? Do you use it for almost everyone?

The RDL is the purest form of a hinging pattern and the easiest way to teach someone how to use their hips, glutes, and hamstrings independent of their spine. I would say that’s a pretty objective opinion of mine seeing as you’re minimizing complexity of the movement by all but eliminating the contribution at the knee. In terms of complex movements, it’s a pretty simple one.

I will start most people with an RDL, even if they already have lifting experience. Well, maybe especially if they have lifting experience because, often times, I need to re-teach their hip hinge.

Now, once you know this, I’m generally going to throw on more complexity. For example, when you can demonstrate a consistently (or semi-consistently) clean RDL pattern, I’m going to then have you RDL the weight to the knee, then squat the weight down to the floor.

Ta da! Then we have a deadlift pattern.

The RDL is a fundamental movement that I need all of my clients to know, and it’s arguably the easiest way to teach hip extension while keeping the acetabulum over the femoral head.

 

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