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.