Michael Boyle Strength & Conditioning Winter Seminar 2010 – Michael Boyle

     When Michael Boyle took to the stage, his message was simple: want to reduce ACL injuries? All you need to do is commit yourself to a sound training program because in the end, that’s all ACL reduction is – good training. All presenters touched on the fact that training in itself is great from a corrective exercise standpoint, and Mike’s talk just hammered the point home even further. To take the words from his mouth, ACL injury “prevention” programs often consist more of packaging than new concepts, and is a way into the head of the AT, PT or female coach.

     While its true that females are at a greater risk of injuring their ACL, it is by no means a gender specific injury. Out of 100,000+ ACL tears every year, 30,000 of them are experienced by high school age females. Since changing an athletes gender isn’t going to do diddly hoo ha in terms in injury prevention, the only sensible thing to do is focus on the one thing that is in your control – good training strategies to reduce the likelihood of injury.

 ACL Injury Reduction Strategies

  • Active Warm-Up

  • Power & Stability/Eccentric Strength (Landing Skills)

  • Strength Development – 1 Leg

  • Change of Direction Concepts

  • Change of Direction Conditioning

  • Nutrition

      Mike made a point to mention that you can’t just pick one of these strategies and hope to reap the benefits – you must incorporate them all. Since he does a better job than I ever could of explaining his logic behind these steps, be sure to check out some of his products here.


An example of single leg strength.

Michael Boyle Strength & Conditioning Winter Seminar 2010 – Eric Cressey

     Having been privileged enough to work with Eric and the rest of the Cressey Performance crew as an intern for 3 months last year, a lot of his presentation was a welcome refresher to what goes on at their facility on a daily basis. With that said, I was also able take away a host of new coaching cues as well as a better understand of the sweet science behind medicine ball programming.

            Eric kicked off his presentation by highlighting which populations could benefit from including medicine balls into their overall training program, which included rotational sport athletes, unicorns, The Hulk, and wacky wavy inflatable men. While the inclusion of this type of training can be extremely beneficial for the aforementioned rotational athletes, the point that I’m trying to make here is that almost everyone has something to gain from tossing a heavy rubber ball around, especially the general fitness population.

            As a trainer, keeping things interesting for your clients while at the same time keeping them healthy and moving towards their goals is essential, and the medicine ball helps accomplish all of these goals. Looking for a low impact alternative to include in your fat loss training? Give a medicine ball medley at the end of your session a try. Could I interest you in a fun and exciting way to improve your mobility while simultaneously releasing the ever-growing rage that has been festering in your soul? Find a non jagged wall (preferably not in your home), a ball and go nuts. Eric highlighted many of the areas that can be improved upon by implementing a soundly designed medicine ball session into your day, including ankle, hip and thoracic spine mobility as well as scapular, glenohumeral, and core stability – all of which everyone should be concerned with.

In dire need of core stability!

In dire need of core stability!

            Now, for rotational sport athletes such baseball pitchers, the when and how often to incorporate medicine ball works depends on several variables, one of which is the time of year (I.E. – early off-season, mid off-season, late off-season, and in-season). For instance, Eric conveyed that during the early off-season, the total volume of throws is kept between 120 and 160 spread over 2 or 3 sessions, but during the mid off-season when it’s time to get down to business that number increases anywhere from 240 to 360 throws before tapering off again in the late off-season.

            The most interesting “bwahahaha” moment that I took away from his presentation was the concept of using medicine ball work as a means to bridge the gap between absolute speed and absolute strength. Eric used himself as an example – his sport is power lifting in which he has spent his time on mainly on the maximal strength side of the spectrum, but if he wanted to try and transition to being a professional pitcher, he knows that he would have to start moving towards the speed side of things. Well, that and throwing a lot of balls. For pitchers, who usually spend all their time on the absolute speed end, Eric did a fantastic job of showing how incorporating medicine ball training into their program can serve as an efficient bridge in terms of reaping the benefits of not only being fast, but fast and strong.

            Eric’s presentation was very video heavy, so sadly this is one of those “you would’ve had to have been there” sort of things. For those of you who missed out, be sure to check out his website (especially this article) as well as his Youtube page for medicine ball videos. I didn’t dub him the Magnificent Massachusetts Medicine Ball Magician for nothing!

Michael Boyle Strength & Conditioning Winter Seminar 2010 – Brijesh Patel

Greetings and salutations, my faithful readers! On Saturday, thanks to the graciousness of Kevin Larrabee of The Fitcast fame, I was able to attend Michael Boyle’s 4th annual winter seminar. Having attended last years, I can honestly say that this was a major step up in terms of both presentation, location, and general atmosphere. Every day this week I will share with you what I took away from one of the presenters at this years seminar.

Brijesh Patel – It’s Not All About The Sets and Reps

In the fitness industry people tend to be head over heels obsessed with manipulating program variables; drop sets, pyramid sets, Chinese triad triplification macrocycles. You name it, there is someone out there who swears by it. However, Brijesh’s argued in his presentation that in order for an athlete to maximize his or her potential, they must not only develop their body, but the mindset that plays a critical role in creating it as well. Think about it this way: would you rather have a client who is determined to be the best that can be despite having the worst training program known to man, or one who has access to the best training program and facility in the world but who gives you half-donkey effort at all times? Simply put, it is not enough to have one or the other – both must be trained in conjunction in order to take advantage of the synergistic relationship of mind and body.

As head strength and conditioning coach at Quinnipiac University, Brijesh constantly strives to get the best out of his athletes, and he was kind enough to share with us the tools that he uses to accomplish this task:

  • Goal setting is imperative, whether it is individual, team oriented, or a combination of both.
  • Clearly defined rules and expectations must spearhead the development of the mind.
  • Mental toughness must be developed by taking your athletes and clients outside of their comfort zones (Brijesh shared a story about forcing his men’s basketball team to practice with country music blaring over the speakers as one example).
  • Accountability for themselves as individual athletes and for the action of the team as a whole – I.E. infractions against one athlete are taken out on the entire team. For instance, every infraction equals 5 burpees for the entire team.
  • Hold everyone to a higher standard – “Give a dog a good name and watch what happens!”

He also showed video clips of how he had his athletes compete against one another using a variety of circuits, with one example being a sled push circuit with the seniors being pitted against the freshmen, with another being a simple push up competition. Outside of different training modalities that can be used to develop mental toughness, my biggest “ah ha” moment was that mental toughness, like any other skill, can be developed with enough time and effort dedicated towards its pursuit. To highlight this point even further, Brijesh highlighted the fact that the military uses these same strategies to transform a group of diverse individuals into one cohesive, mentally fortified unit, and while the different protocols used in the military can’t be used in a coaching or training setting, the same principles can be applied successfully.