Greetings. My name is Josh Bullock and I have spent the last 19 years of my career in collegiate and Olympic sport athlete development and program management. In my career and coach, manager, writer, and speaker I have had the great fortune of working with some truly inspiring people on some really challenging, enjoyable, and innovative projects. I have worked alongside, and become friends with, many influential and creative individuals along the way. I believe in the power of collaboration to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. I live in Park City, UT with my amazing wife and have a beautiful daughter. Should you desire more information please don't hesitate to reach out; I am always looking to connect with the highly motivated.
For the last three years I have had the wonderful opportunity to serve as a Strength and Conditioning Coach for the U.S. Ski Team; specifically, the moguls team. In that time, the team has accumulated over 30 World Cup podiums. I have coached athletes to World Championships and to the Olympics. You could say, I have watched a few runs.
If you are reading this, chances are, you are interested in improving your fitness in hopes of becoming a better, more efficient, skier. You have come to the right place. During my tenure coaching skiers, I have learned a ton through reading, course work, observation, and original research. What follows are three of the most critical components to get your body ready for a healthy and enjoyable winter on the slopes.
1. You should squat.
Skiing is a quad dominant sport. Your quads are those ham-hocks on the front of your legs and they are essential to making the beautiful carved turns you see from the lift. The quads function in skiing to apply edge control, pressure, and absorb the terrain. In fact, according to the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) edge control and pressure are 2 of the 3 essential components of maintaining balance when skiing.
Getting those quads ready for a day on the slopes requires you to bend your knees. That means squatting. Specifically, you should be using the front squat. The front squat requires a more upright torso, forward hip position, and ankle range of motion than the back squat - the end result - you become a boot bender!
2. Core is key.
The core and core training theories are well publicized thanks to the functional training coaches and those looking to sell you the rock hard abs you see at the beach. In skiing, the core is a bit more complex. In addition to those rock hard abs, I recommend you view the core in a broader light consisting of the lumbar (low-back), the pelvic and hip complex, and the thoracic spine (mid-back).
The core applies directly to the third essential component of maintaining balance when skiing. That component, as recommended by PSIA, is rotation. Specifically, you should be concerned about the resistance of rotation. Being able to keep the trunk square to the fall line is again, critical to sparking arcs with those beautiful carved turns.
I recommend laying off the crunches and using an exercise known as pallof press. This exercise is great for training the ability to resist rotation. Perform the exercise in a standing position for the greatest transfer to the slopes. Most importantly, fight to stay square as the cable pulls you into rotation; just as you would as you descend the slopes with your hair on fire.
3. Aerobic capacity is king.
Surprisingly, skiing is dominated by the aerobic system. Your ability to rip run after run, day after day, is highly predicated on your ability to recover. Your aerobic capacity (in addition to your food and water intake) is key to that process. If you want to have a bit more energy for the après event then this section is for you!
I recommend spending a minimum of an hour a week committed to aerobic training. Get a heart rate monitor - I like the Polar H10 - and connect it to the Polar Beat App on your phone. Spend time training in zones 2 and 3 with some zone 1 work following your day on the slopes.
For even greater transfer consider using a spin bike for one of your sessions each week. The bike places a lot of stress on the quads, which, as you already learned, are a pretty key group of muscles. Set the bike up so your legs extend about 90% of the way and lift the handle bars so your torso is tall and in a comfortable position. Once in position, open up your spotify account and start cranking!In Short...
1. Put some weight on a bar and front squat! Take a few plates for a ride. You won't regret it.
2. Work some anti-rotation core training into your routine. A great exercise is the standing pallof press.
3. Bike 1-2 days a week with your heart rate in zones 2 and 3. Use zone 1 after your day on the slopes to augment your recovery.
Since the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak government oversight groups and businesses have restricted large gatherings or shut their doors all together. As of March 19th, most public events and many public places have been closed. If you are one of the lucky ones, whose town has yet to feel the effects of COVID-19, you are probably wondering if going to the gym is putting you at risk. You may want to know who is protecting you and how can you protect yourself as a gym goer?
The authority figures when it comes to standards and guidelines for fitness facilities are the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). Both have published standards or position statements for cleanliness and sanitation of facilities that should be adhered to at all times but in particular during the growth of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
For the past 19 years I have served as a strength and conditioning coach at the collegiate and Olympic levels. I have managed collegiate fitness facilities in three states; including campus recreation centers and varsity weight rooms. Those facilities served over 5,000 members and needless to say, were cleaned to the highest of standards. I have spent countless hours behind a spray bottle and even closed facilities due to safety concerns, all in an effort to reduce the risk to facility users. That said, what we are dealing with here is an altogether different challenge.
So what would I be doing as a gym goer and what should I expect from my gym?
As of now, your local gym or studio, regardless of the type you have chosen, should have provided you with the measures they are taking to protect your health. They should also maintain a consistent line of communication on all matters relative to this outbreak. Topics should include: 1) how to keep yourself safe, 2) modes of transmission of COVID-19, 3) cleaning schedules, 4) applicable policies and procedures, 5) their plans to monitor the situation, and 6) if a case, or presumptive case, has entered the facility.Facility Recommendations
Before we dig in here, you should be able to ask the manager for a copy of their cleaning and maintenance log. Every reputable facility will have one on hand and they should be able to provide it in a moments notice. Now, what to look for.
Fitness facilities should be using an EPA-registered cleaning solution that is allowed to sit on the equipment for 2-3 minutes prior to drying. These solutions come in a variety of forms, from the more environmentally friendly citrus oils, to the more aggressive phenol-based and alcohol-based products. A common broad spectrum disinfectant used in fitness facilities is Virex.
The facility's staff should be disinfecting the following twice daily:Equipment (think of detailing your car - clean the whole thing!) Accessories (cable attachments, handles, etc.) Desk/Reception Areas (including phones, keyboards, etc.) Restroom/Locker Room Spot Cleaning of Walls
The facility's staff should perform the following at least once each day:Sweep and Mop Floors Disinfect Weights and Weight Trees Disinfect Storage/Cubby Areas
Each month the facility walls should be disinfected as should other more discreet areas. Additionally, the facility should be treated with a disinfecting fogger such as SafeSpace.
Every six months to a year the facility should clean its HVAC system, replacing all filters, and spray an inhibitor such as Bac-Shield on the equipment and hard surfaces.
Finally, the facility should provide sanitation wipes in convenient locations for users to spot clean between uses.Personal Recommendations
Foremost, everyone should understand how COVID-19 is transmitted. If you are unsure, you should view the most current information from the CDC. Of particular importance for gym goers is the fact that sweat does not transmit COVID-19! In other words, you cannot get COVID-19 from touching another persons sweat.
If you are dead set on going to the gym during the pandemic, you should be following the recommendations below to reduce the spread of the virus:Regular hand washing with soap (for at least 20 seconds) or alcohol-based solution (at least 60% alcohol), Covering coughing or sneezing with a tissue or elbow (not your hand), Avoiding touching of eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands, Limiting contact with people who are sick, and staying home if you are sick.
Her are a few tips you can proactively take:Clean your equipment PRIOR to use rather than just after. DO NOT wipe your face with your shirt or towel. Embrace the sweat! During your training time practice social distancing. Select exercises that don't require a spotter such as the leg press or other machines. If you are doing cardio select the unit that isn't neighboring another user. Consider stretching or rolling in a quiet place or back home. Shower and change your clothes immediately after your workout. Drop your dirty clothes in the washing machine as soon as you get home. Keep Exercising
It is very important to keep exercising. Moving a big part of general health. If you are fearful of going to the gym, no worries! You can do a body weight program at home, take a bike ride, or go for a jog.
If you need some help with a bodyweight program. I am happy to send a template I have used for my athletes over the years. It is free. Simply contact me through my webpage and I will reply.
In the meantime, stay safe and keep grinding!
As COVID-19 continues to close our performance sanctuaries many of us are in uncharted territory. How can we continue to push our athletes improve despite the inability to load using traditional means such as the barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell? Our machine based exercises have been stripped from us like the plates from a leg press and we have been hung out to dry.
For everyone in this situation, I have some great news!First, this guide should help you navigate those uncharted waters. Second, Rocky was able to beat Ivan Drago using odd implement training. Check out this montage for inspiration!
Clearly the coronavirus and its repercussions are beyond our control. So, as you challenge your athletes, I challenge you to control what you can control. Focus on the process and I am hopeful the words that follow will assist you in that process."Training is like moving a pile of dirt - some days you get a shovel, and other days you get a spoon but as long as you get to move a little dirt every day, you are moving towards your goal." -- John Welbourn
Training for Endurance
Training for endurance without the accessibility of a gym is much easier than training for strength and power. Accumulating the desired number of repetitions using bodyweight (or less than bodyweight) can be accomplished using a simple floor routine.
I advise you to consider exercises such as push-ups, squats, lunges, bridges, prone cobras and all their variations. These exercises make great endurance and strength-endurance workout routines; especially for those athlete who need to improve work capacity or improve body composition. They are also very low risk and require little coaching. Simply link these exercises together in a circuit, either timed or using repetitions, and athletes can start moving.
In terms of energy system development a number of options exist that your athletes may actually enjoy MORE than that "slog" (slow jog) or tempo run at 5am. I recommend your athletes throw on a heart rate monitor and go for a hike, jog, bike ride, or other activity that adheres to social distancing.
If you do want to use heart rate to monitor training, and you haven't already issued them to your athletes, I like the Polar H10. It connects easily to a smartphone and using Polar Coach, which is free, you can view athletes workout intensity and results from afar.Training for Hypertrophy
Muscle hypertrophy involves an increase in size of skeletal muscle through a growth in the size of its component cells. In order the efficiently accomplish this task we want to target the two factors that contribute to muscular hypertrophy:Myofibrillar Hypertrophy Sarcopasmic Hypertrophy
If you goal is to build a bit of mass on your athletes I recommend you teach your athletes to fuel optimally and train using a combination of strength-endurance and strength and power methodologies. This is also a great time to consider other means such as blood flow restriction (BFR) to pump up the workouts. More info on that below.Training for Strength and Power
Training for strength and power can be a bit more difficult due to the challenge with loading; specifically near maximal loads or loads heavy enough to induce enough stress to force an adaptation. To address this we need to look at the two ways we can train these particular traits:Maximal effort (heavy loads) Dynamic effort (light loads)
Both methods should be used when training and both should emphasize a maximal "intent" or attempt to move as fast as possible.
The easiest way to achieve a maximal load (maximal effort) using only bodyweight is to perform unilateral movements. In other words, take your squat and make it a single leg squat by standing on a chair or elevated surface. Take your push-up and make it a single arm pushup by placing one hand on the ground or an elevated surface to regress the exercise. This can be done with virtually any exercise. For a more compete list of how to progress and regress exercises click here.
On the other side of the coin, dynamic effort, or light load work is quite easy to implement at home. Consider the following three options.
Plyometrics, or jump training, fall into three main categories:Pliometric (concentric only - static jumps) Miometric (eccentric only - drops) Plyometric (rapid coupling of muscle actions - counter movement or depth jump).
Of course, these can be further broken down into subcategories such as active speed (single reps) and frequency speed (rapid repeated reps) and again further by movement type (hops, jumps, skips, prances, bounds, etc.). The ratios of these types of movements should be prescribed based upon your your desired outcome, but none the less are remarkably easy to program at home.
Change of Direction and Agility
Change of direction and agility can be touch more challenging depending upon the space your athletes have available. These activities typically require a field or large open surface when performed outside. If an athlete has a big back yard, they're in luck! If not, you may have to instruct them to go to a local park.
Change of direction drills won't require any assistance or random cue to initiate the change of direction, simply instruct the athlete to arrange some objects in the pattern of your choice on ground and begin to slalom and/or change locomotor patterns.
The easiest way to implement agility training using social distancing techniques is with an auditory stimulus. Run fast and when a training partner cues the athlete to change direction, they do so. Here are three ways, in increasing cognitive load, in which this can be accomplished:Using direct cues such as "now" whereby the athlete knows the movement ahead of time and executes the task on cue. Using instructional cues, such as "left" or "right" whereby the athlete must process the cue prior to executing the movement. Using coding, such as colors, to represent a specific change in direction or locomotor pattern.
Acceleration and Speed
Like change of direction and agility, acceleration and speed training can require some substantial space, notably and adequate runway. Should you categorize curvilinear running as a speed development technique that will, of course, require even more lateral space. This type of training can be done in an open field, a local park, or even down the sidewalk if needed. Here are some ways in which you can vary your speed and acceleration work to keep things interesting for your athletes:Vary the gradient Vary the distance Vary the path Vary the start position (or flying start) Vary the pace (between reps or within reps) Vary the load (push an object) Issues with Loading
The idea and practice of training with odd implements has been around for a long time. Often, it is derived from necessity, then perhaps, turned into training or sport. Consider events such as the caber toss.
Also, made for TV sports such as World’s Strongest Man and American Ninja Warrior have captured our homes with their feats of strength and use of odd implements to display athleticism. This only goes to show us that we are limited by our creativity.
Philosophically, it will be up to you regarding whether or not you loan out equipment or recommend your athletes purchase equipment for their home use. With that said, there are a number of pieces of equipment I recommend for this type of situation.
So, what’s in my gym bag?
To circumvent the issues with loading there are a number of options available and worthy of discussing. As I have noted in Part I of this series, I travel extensively with my athletes, and often times end up in a very small gym, a hotel gym, or simply and open room. Here is a list of essentials:Val Slides (furniture sliders or a towel on a hard surface) A dip belt (any loop strong enough to hold weight – use a towel for padding!) 41-inch bands (any bands, tubing or loops) A suspension trainer (TRX, off-brand, or DIY)
In addition to the simple tools above you can also instruct athletes purchase or manufacture these reasonably inexpensive items for use at home.
First, the most versatile item on this list, is the Gorilla Bow. The Gorilla Bow is $179.95; I have traveled with two of them over the last year and they are great! The ability to adjust load really sets this piece of equipment apart especially when compared to other items on this list. My favorite exercises on the Gorilla Bow are Zurcher variations (squats, lunges, RDL’s, etc.) and the ability to pull both horizontally and vertically; fleeting movements when it comes to bodyweight training.
A second great option for at home training is the use of bags or pipes. Bags are cloth or cloth like containers while pipes are pieces of plastic or metal with end-caps. Bag and pipes can be purchased or made and can be filled with sand, rice, water, or any other material you feel fits your need. You can purchase water bags from Dimok at a rate of $65 to $85 each and sandbags from a number of retailers for as little as $50 each.
Should you prefer to make your own bags or tubes it is quite easy to accomplish. Here are great instructional links for bags and pipes.
A third great option, which is especially beneficial for those interested in training for hypertrophy and strength and power, is the use of blood flow restriction (BFR) or occlusion. There are a number of products on the market that, depending upon budget, may be a great fit for your athletes as they drive toward their goals. My two favorite options, due their price point, practicality for use, and calibration ability, are the BStrong bands and Smart Cuffs. A less expensive option, due to the fact it is less calibrated, is the use of BFR bands. For a more complete guide to training using BFR here is a nice article from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
A final option that could benefit any user is the use of electromyostimulation (EMS). EMS, in contrast to the typical voluntary muscle contraction that is stimulated by the central nervous system, involves involuntary contraction that are stimulated by an electrical current applied to the muscle. In my humble opinion, by far the best available option for training using EMS, is the Compex unit. Units range from $100 to $400 depending upon the features you find essential to your training.Building your Workout
Integrating any of these tools or bodyweight exercises into the athletes daily practice isn’t a matter adding every option available but rather selecting the tools and practices that meet the desired goals. I am hopeful this article opens many doors (and maybe a few more windows) that you can explore when programming your athletes home training practice.
Should you still be lucky enough to be training in a gym, your gym has reopened, or maybe have a home gym, I recommend you read my article A Guide for Gym Goers Amid COVID-19.
As always, stay safe and keep grinding!
As COVID-19 continues to close our fitness sanctuaries many of us are in uncharted territory. How can we continue to improve without access to traditional means such as the barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell? Our machine based exercises have been stripped from us like the plates on a leg press and it is as if our treadmill belts have suddenly gripped the ground and sped off!
For everyone in this situation, I have some great news!First, this guide should help you navigate those uncharted waters. Second, Rocky was able to beat Ivan Drago using odd implement training. Check out this montage for inspiration! Third, there are real life athletes, performers, and fitness enthusiasts of all sizes who rarely set foot in a gym and have gone on to achieve their goals. The Foundation
When it comes to getting lean, cutting body fat, building muscle, getting strong, or improving your mile time the following three things are absolutely imperative:Sleep Nutrition Stress Management
If you are having trouble reaching your goals and you are already training hard, likely it is due to one or more of these components. Think of these three items like the foundation of a house - they support your training in much the same way the foundation of your home supports supports the walls and roof. Without these fundamentals in place your progress will be as fleeting as the toilet paper on supermarket shelves during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The best part about these factors - they are easily remedied AT HOME!
First, lets dig into your sleep. The easiest and most inexpensive way to work on your sleep is to practice good sleep hygiene. Here is what I tell my athletes:Set a consistent bedtime and wake-up time. Put you phone in "Do not Disturb" mode two hours before bed to avoid blue light exposure; then, store your phone on the other side of the room at night. Reduce your fluid intake before bed so your sleep won't be interrupted by a bathroom break. Prepare your space. Your room should be dark, quiet, clean, and cool. Make getting ready for bed an event. Shower and get comfortable. Get cozy and if you are having trouble falling asleep consider mediation.
Second, you will need to pay attention to how you fuel your body. People love to make this complicated but the technology in your phone can make this extremely easy if you are willing to do some planning. Planning and charting your meals will help you learn what you put in your body and I highly recommend everyone do this for at least a month. You will learn a ton!
There are a number of apps out there like MyFitnessPal but my personal favorite is Renaissance Periodization. It is worth its weight in gold. If you do decide to use this app be ready to measure your food and weigh-in twice a week. Believe me, this is a small price to pay for the results.
Lastly, for the women reading this article, I recommend you purchase and read the book ROAR, by Dr. Stacy Sims. It addresses a number of physiological differences women face as they look to achieve their fitness goals. The book works well in conjunction with the app FitrWoman.
Last but not least, how can you reduce your stress in the midst of global pandemic? Clearly, it is a stressful time for a number of reasons but here are two ideas you can implement in your daily practice.
First, prioritize your daily activity. In other words, act on your values and those items that specifically push you toward your goals and ditch the rest. Let me elaborate. My core values consist of three simple words - Positive, Presence, and Pod. Each day I have a goal to be positive despite any circumstances, present in the moments events, and "pod" is what we call our family unit, and that will always take precedent ahead of any other obligation.
Second, understand the difference between your emotions and feelings. This is an idea and practice I stole this from Brendan Burchard, author of High Performance Habits. Fundamentally, feelings are experienced consciously, while emotions manifest unconsciously. What that means for us is that we have control over our feelings through conscious effort. In sports, athletes call this "fake it 'til you make it" and in the military they call it "embrace the suck" - either way we are reframing our thoughts.The Walls
Now to the training! If you like apps, I recommend Nike Training Club, Yoga Studio, and Map My Run. These apps all have great at home features and fit a variety of users.
If you desire more personalized instruction, I recommend you visit LIFT Strength and Conditioning. They do an exceptional job with online program design and coaching and have been doing so for over 10 years.
If you like to do things yourself, below is a three step process that is rather easy to follow.
Step #1: Identify your goals. As we forge ahead it will be beneficial to identify your goals as either performance related or health and wellness related. To assist you, performance goals typically involve training for sport or an event - i.e. complete a marathon. Those with health and wellness goals might aim to build muscle, lose body fat, or lower blood pressure.
The primary principle you will need to consider is the transfer of the exercise to the goal. When training for performance, for example, if your goal is to run a marathon, then hopping on a bike everyday may not be the best way get there. Why? A marathon requires you to run.
Step #2: Select your exercises. The graphic below is a template for how to build any workout! All you need to do in insert the bodyweight exercise of your choice from this list and remember to consider your goals!
Step #3: Select the set and rep scheme you want. I recommend progressing from lighter to heavier loads and less to more work over a period of time.Endurance: 1-3 sets, 12-20 repetitions Strength: 5-8 sets, 1-6 repetitions Muscle Building: 3-5 sets, 8-12 repetitions The Ceiling
After a few months training with just bodyweight, you may begin to get bored. To address that issue here is some inexpensive home equipment that can be easily stored. These are the essentials I take with me when I train my team on the road.
So, what’s in my gym bag?Val Slides. For a less expensive option use furniture sliders or a towel on a hard surface. A dip belt. Or any loop strong enough to hold weight – use a towel for padding! 41-inch bands. Or any bands, tubing or loops. A suspension trainer. Consider the TRX, an off-brand, or DIY. The Gorilla Bow. The Gorilla Bow is $179.95 and replaces a full barbell set using interchangeable bands. Sand Bags. Bags can be purchased or made and can be filled with sand, rice, water, or any other material you feel fits your need.
I am hopeful this article opens many doors (and maybe a few windows) that you can explore in your home training practice. Should you still be lucky enough to be in a gym, your gym has reopened, or maybe have a home gym, I recommend you read my article A Guide for Gym Goers Amid COVID-19.
As always, stay safe and keep grinding!
Imagine you are in your first meeting as a strength and conditioning coaching intern. You and five others encircle a table. At the front of room is an ominous whiteboard just waiting to be filled. You can't help but wonder what you will learn and even more, what the first lesson might be.
The head coach is present, but he sits at the rear of the room. It strikes you as odd. The meeting begins as each person introduces themselves with palpable anxiety. The head coach requests, "tell me what we coach in this strength and conditioning program, write it on the board." It's a slam dunk, you know the answers! You have studied your entire college career, maybe prior internships, or other paid positions for this opportunity.
Those around the table list every possible item that is coached or taught to produce an optimal athletic performance. The head coach doesn't speak he simply allows the group to work. The list fills five, then six columns with 100 or more items. Some of them include: strength, power, speed, agility, mental readiness, toughness, and leadership; the list goes on.
Everyone is patting themselves on the back. What a list! Look how much knowledge we have and all we are responsible for! The head coach quietly walks to the front of the room; says nothing. Slowly, he grasps the eraser and in just a few swipes the list is lost. Still, without saying a word, he grasps a dry erase marker and begins to scribe one word that fills the white board.The word: PEOPLE. The head coach finally speaks, "never forget this, we coach, people."
The training of managers and leaders can be broken down into hard skills and soft skills. Here are the differences:Hard Skills
Hard skills are your core courses of a business undergraduate degree. Your knowledge on these topics is likely deepened and broadened once you acquire your MBA. You know the list. Courses such as:Operations Accounting and Finance Human Resources Economics Information Systems Marketing
There is little doubt this is essential knowledge to do the job. In analogous fashion, these are some of the items the interns listed on the board.Soft Skills
Soft skills may also be part of your undergraduate degree, if your lucky. If you decide upon an arts degree in management these topics are delved into further. They are also the topics made famous by many authors and educators such as Simon Sinek, Daniel Goleman, Peter Senge, and Peter Drucker. Some of them include:Emotional Intelligence Leadership Verbal and Written Communication Active Listening Teamwork Negotiation
Perhaps others have had different experiences but I have worked for seven different employers in my career; with no fewer than 10 direct supervisors and countless tertiary ones. Despite my desire to feel a part of something far bigger than myself and to feel like a valuable member of an elite team, just one manager worked with me in the way a great coach would manage a player or his or her team. He was a former coach and a successful one to boot. So, why is that the case?
I would ague that coaching is about people and successful coaches understand this fundamental, yet essential point. However, managers and leaders are brought up through their education to think about managerial skills, organizational leadership, and theory. Maybe its time we put our business leaders on the sideline and teach them like professional coaches.Former NFL quarterback, and Hall of Fame inductee, Peyton Manning once stated,"The most valuable player is the one who makes the most players valuable."
Managers, leaders, if you want push toward the organizational vision in the most productive and efficient way possible, you need to care; care more about your employees successes than your own, care more about developing your employees than your deadlines, and care more about your employees as PEOPLE than about advancing your career or turning a profit for your shareholders.