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I recently came across a video of a coach romping around a massive high school stadium. His head was forward, neck veins popping, arms flailing, demanding the best effort from his athletes. Later, I saw a peppy personal trainer dressed in much tighter clothing than I’ve ever worn, bounce around a state-of-the-art gym while blabbing motivation and no-pain-no-gain.

These gave me a slight sinking feeling. Then I remembered How It Actually Is.

I chose to spend a significant portion of my life at FullReps Training Center and in my basement and backyard helping a hand full of like-minded athletes, young and old. I drive a 2004 Mid Size SUV, do what I love for a living, and get to spend a reasonable amount of time with my family.

So many choices…

Over the past several weeks, many if not most of the athletes who regularly train with or around me have broken through barriers.

They have achieved new heights of throwing velocity on the radar gun, pushing into the 80- and 90-mph range. Throwing in the 80's is a big deal when you’re an adolescent. Hitting the 90’s even more so, at any age, when you’ve sat in the mid 80’s for years. Any improvement that can be attributed to the “natural adolescent growth spurt” has long dried up.

My athletes have become stronger than ever. The baseball guys know what it really means to do 20-reps squats. I have a handful of 14-year old female soccer players that easily press 80 lbs overhead and can bring nearly twice their bodyweight off the ground.

Most of the crew has lowered their 40-yard dash by 2- to 3/10ths of a second. They explode out of the gate, run with powerful pushes and improved stride frequency, and lay on the effort without their form falling apart.

Most of them work with me only twice per week; three times per week at most. Sure, they also practice, play and train on other days within their sport. But all of them were away playing in games or on vacationing for some period over the summer.

How did all of these athletes transform their bodies and performance -despite- these interruptions to their training time?

And where was the yelling and arm waving? Where were the “ass whoopings,” the nasty attitude in their face, pushing high intensity all-out 120% all out effort? Sure, we push hard at times. I’ve been told that I have a skewed sense how much weight a human can push and pull and lift. But we pick our battles. Where were the daily epic workouts that leave them rolling on the floor fearful and nauseous?

Any half-rate inexperienced trainer can come up with a “workout” that leaves you in a heap on the floor. But we’re primarily after PROGRESS. Progress in training is often challenging and sometimes boring, but not often crushing.

How in the world did they show up for the workout without the peppy and/or high-strung trainer and strength coach to motivate them?

I know how. I know -exactly- how.

And it wasn’t just the killer playlist! : )

All these gains…despite only working with me a few times per week, having typical summer interruptions, and not having a high-strung or over-the-top fitness caricature to guide them.

EXPECTATIONS: The athletes -knew- from the beginning, that it was on them. It was never my job to motivate them. Sure, I speak up and get excited when it’s called for. But I never play televangelist or cheerleader or army sergeant. Boot camp is now the industry standard. Why did those in the sports performance and health/fitness industry ever think it was appropriate to treat -everyone- like they are dealing in the literal life-or-death situations of the military? Gaining velocity or running speed or strength and winning games and losing fat is most definitely not “Do it correctly as a unit or you and your comrades actually die.”


I always thought that it would be a shame to just provide “workouts.” Trainers and physical therapists who truly want to help usually go out of their way to educate rather than just provide exercises.

“This is challenging yet reasonable progress in weight on the bar.”

“This is the rhythm of work and rest and recovery.”

“This is what your squat form should look like, and you can use these cues and corrective exercises to eventually make it easier.”

“Progress is not linear…nonlinearity. Sometimes you push aggressively. But other times you get the moderate or low intensity work in because it’s essential to setting up the next push.”

"You accept that you are human and sometimes life deals you a tough run, sometimes you just feel flat or over- or- under-worked.

"You listen to those who have gone before you. But also to your own body.”

INSPIRATION COMES FIRST: Sure, I help them improve by identifying the root of the problem behind weak and painful areas. I provide some basic gear, training protocols, and culture to train in and with. But more than any of that, they are inspired to own it, keep at it over the long haul, and create margin – time to get the work in. The discomfort is tuff but reasonable and worth it. I love to see someone who I have not worked with in weeks or months come back and crush their personal records. We learn something together, including what they have been up to. Personal records don’t just happen.

I know they were inspired to move and improve because many of them straight-up told me. And I’m truly grateful.

So…how was your summer?

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