Education resources - perpetual students
Part of my role at PerformancePro London is as Director of Education. A grand title I think you'll agree. What it really means is that I love learning, love sharing what I learn and am now responsible for a team of coaches and their professional development. We hold weekly meetings where a topic is dissected and discussed and I try to offer my experiences with said subject in a relatable way. It has to be useful. It has to be relevant to our field of health, fitness, performance and rehabilitation. Learning for learnings sake is wasted time.
I've a degree in strength and conditioning and a decades experience in personal training but I still need inspiration now and again to help stay relevant. Here are my favourite resources and the places I get much of my ideas from...
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR)
I'm a member of the NSCA (the kind of regulatory body of strength and conditioning in the USA). I hold their certification (Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist - CSCS) which I did in order to have options and be recognised online. No one abroad seems to have heard of the UKSCA... *tongue firmly in cheek*
The monthly subscription to the journal keeps me in touch with trends in research as well as gives me frequent new material to read and pass on. However, reading only one journal does lead to a fairly narrow view - peer review research in only objective as far as the peers who review the research are objective... I find it useful to check 3-4 journals per month if I'm really interested in a new area. It is also pretty time consuming to filter through on your own so I have been pretty selective in how many of the articles I read. That then steers me towards google scholar if I feel I need more background.
Luckily for you, there are a few ways to digest more than just the papers in the JSCR.
Have a look at the Research Review: (Bret Contreras and Chris Beardsley)
at strengthandconditioningresearch.com both will give you a more rounded look at what's topical and current.
Eric Cressey (and partners)
It still amazes me that when I first read Eric Cresseys posts on things like T-nation he was a similar age to myself. He has done decades of work in what seems like the blink of an eye. I have tremendous respect for him and his accomplishments so far. He went from training 'regular joes' and high school athletes to having an enormous stable of pro baseball players and being recognised as a leading authority on the health of a throwers arm/shoulder. He is surely the busiest man around as he still finds time to put out solid content on both powerlifting, rehabilitation and general strength and conditioning.
Even if not aware of Cressey Performance, you will surely have heard of some of his buddies. Tony Gentilcore, Mike Robertson, Mike Reinold to name a few. They all contribute to or lead great online content and/or educational products. Give them a google.
This is still a weirdly controversial recommendation as it tends to be a little marmite. Love him or hate him. I personally cannot understand that people get their arse in their hand about Charles. I've met him around 6 times on courses and seminars. He doesn't try to please everyone and he makes some pretty big claims but he knows his shit. I'm talking about a guy who learned other languages to expand how much research he could digest. How many people can say that? Or that they've worked in multiple olympic and elite level sports for over 3 decades?
No I'm not a disciple, and yes, I take some of what is put online with a pinch of cynicism. His mindless followers have been labelled "Poliquinites" and discussing his material in an academic group gets jeered at.
I'm a little more open minded than some. I still use much of what I learned much from CP. The importance of programming variables such as tempo, de-loading, eccentric overload, undulating periodisation models, set and rep loading schemes, 'German volume training' and 'German body composition' training. Some expectations have been brought into line with other research and recommendations but his principles all hold true. He stressed the importance of structural balance and agonist/antagonist strength ratios, most of which seem unattainable but are not intrinsically wrong. I've rehabbed and made people stronger following his principles - which are 'his' in only that he taught me them, not that he claims to have invented any new way necessarily.
This is someone I came across throughout university and a person of interest. I kept seeing his name pop up in research articles but had also heard that he still worked in the field and with big teams in Aussie footy. This put him on my radar immediately as I've never been as enamoured by purely academics whose theories work perfectly in the lab but don't appear to have an immediate practical use.
For research on power training, strength training, velocity based training (VBT) and applied practical programming, Dan Baker is the first stop. Last year I got to meet him at his seminar series on VBT and he is as passionate about training athletes as I expected. He walks the walk too and still trains (using his own methods like wearing the Push velocity measuring band) and puts up some decent strength numbers. He's a normal and down to earth guy who'll even let you be his FB friend, decent.
The brain behind Complementary training. He's a strength coach who has the mind of a rain-man-esque economics genius. His material is great, although I only claim to understand around half of it. A bit more geared towards the team sport elite environment but nonetheless interesting and some relevance for me. I signed up for his website content and am only just starting to make the most of it. Watch this space, I'll share my take on the most relevant stuff further down the line.
You may know him as the "Rugby strength coach". It's certainly easier to pronounce. His site is a forward thinking step for a very hard working and entrepreneurial strength coach. He has produced and systemised a lot of practical knowledge and collates what is a wealth of S&C knowledge into a package for other coaches. Although I don't work in rugby I've found a lot of his ideas transferable to other power sports when you understand a little mechanics and physiology. Very good place to start if you train yourself for sport too.
He seems like a lad, someone you could have a beer with or train with. His social media is also pretty accessible and doesn't try to be overly serious or technical. Even so, you can tell from his content that he has a decent brain and is open minded to find the best and most practical ways to achieve a performance enhancement.
This is a true overnight success story that I imagine took about 10 years. He seemed to just pop up out of nowhere and is now the poster boy for lifters who think. Maybe it was the success train of Juggernaut (JTS) that propelled him into the limelight but whatever the reason, I'm glad to see rehabilitation professionals actually cater to and understand performance. Oh and he's a 6ft something doctor of physical therapy who can lift a decent amount. Women's (and some mens) legs trembling...
I'm currently reading his book "Weightlifting: Movement Assessment and Optimisation" which is already better than I had hoped for. It's nice to combine the two disciplines in a way that has the athletes aims at the heart.
His social media is great and he fronts the Clinical Athlete - a group for practitioners who are also involved in training and competing. Strength sports aside it is fantastic that the medical and rehab roles are branching into endurance and team performance and people who walk the walk are taking the lead.
One thing I was told a long time ago is that "Nobody is useless. Even someone doing something wrong has value as a bad example." CP told me that one.
You see some shocking crap on the internet. Really weird or just unnecessary exercises. Some random warm up drills for 45 mins that will "grow your booty". The trick isn't to disregard all the nonsense, but to understand why it isn't useful. If you look at something and just right it off without first knowing why, you aren't open minded and you aren't critically thinking. Clients ask me all the time about stuff they've seen or read and often its ludicrous. Dismissing it without explanation is like swatting a fly without knowing you've got jam on your face. Another will come back because you dealt with the problem dismissively instead of teaching/exploring the question. Your client is flattering you and displaying trust in your knowledge over what they've seen so you could at least take the question seriously and then take the time to educate your client. I like to think that if I have any kind of legacy it is passing on more knowledge that I began with. This industry needs more education, more excited acolytes of strength and power, more coaches willing to try new ideas.
The guys above are all thought leaders in some way, usually early adopters and trend setters too. Learn from them and you can't go far wrong.