I love learning. Every December, when I’m writing my goals for the upcoming year, I always include another certification or training. I also always include a couple conferences/events that I must attend. The Perform Better ‘Functional Training Summit’ makes that list year in and year out. It’s a well run event (kudos to Chris Poirier and the Perform Better crew) and always includes speakers who I consider to be the best of the best. Many of them are coaches, trainers, and therapists who I have followed for years. I follow them on their social media channels, read their newsletters, have purchased many of their products, and feel they have helped me to become a better trainer and coach for my clients and athletes.
I’ve always said that, “Knowledge is power“. I’ve stood by that statement for years, always believing that the more information you gather the more powerful you can be. In Martin Rooney’s presentation, he made the statement that, “ACTION is power“. After giving it some thought, I believe Martin is 100% right on the mark. You can have all the knowledge in the world, however, if you don’t apply it or do anything with it or take ACTION then it’s not very powerful at all is it? I still feel that knowledge is the foundation…so I’ve revised that popular saying to now read, “Knowledge is POTENTIAL power“. You still need the knowledge and then you can take action with it. I suppose this is a bit random…but the statement stuck with me and I wanted to share my thoughts with you.
Back to the conference and my collection of knowledge aka “potential power”. Here are some highlights of the sessions I attended over the 3 days I was there.
Lee Burton – “Tackling Soft Tissue, Mobility, & Flexibility Problems”
I strongly believe in incorporating some form of “testing” or “screening” on a new client or athlete. Dr. Burton was one of the creators of the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) and it’s the screen that I’ve been using for years. This presentation is very applicable to many of my clients and it covered some movements and methods that I can utilize right away. A couple gems from the talk include:
- If ankle is locked, the glute won’t fire
- Discussed stick and foam rolling protocols to enhance mobility
- If you add mobility you must add stability
- Re-confirmed the importance of the FMS
Dan John – “A Proactive Approach to Programming”
Always one of my favorite speakers…the gist of his talk this year was that…everything works…well, for about 6 weeks. Then what?! Takeaways include:
- His “lights” system…plan out your green, yellow, and red training for 12 months
- If you can only learn one thing - Increase your strength
- Absolute strength is the glass and everything else is the liquid
- Food logs are great. Sit down with your clients and fill them out if necessary. Circle their ‘cheat meals’ and then don’t scold them…simply suggest they decrease the number by 1 or 2 for the following week
- Great quote, “Success leaves tracks“
Gray Cook – “Mobility, Motor Control, Movement”
The other mastermind behind the Functional Movement Screen. Gray is always a must-see presenter for me every year. He always has a few comments or questions in his presentations that always give me a “light bulb” or “ah-ha” moment…a moment where he makes something click and make perfect sense.
- Doctors and pilots are snipers…are fitness professional snipers or machine guns? What do you think is best?
- As americans have become more incompetent, the military hasn’t maintained their protocols, they simply lowered their standards
- Flexibility is only aspect of fitness that isn’t age dependent
- We sit more than stand
- We eat for convenience, not for health
- Stability involves timing & coordination. It’s about holding a pattern and moving to another. It’s not strength training
- Movement is a pattern. Don’t train it in parts!
Mark Verstegen - “Performance Training”
I only caught about 20 minutes of Mark’s presentation…here are some of my favorite nuggets:
- Feet matter! Keep a massage ball in the bathroom and use it when you brush your teeth
- The ‘Tiger Tail‘ “grabs” tissue so use ‘raking’ technique when rolling. It grips better than the massage stick
- Invest in toe separaters…done.
Chris Mohr – “Sorting Through the Confusing World of Nutrition”
I’ve followed Chris for a while now and really enjoy his website. It’s loaded with quality content on current topics in the world of nutrition. Some highlights of the 30 minutes I caught of his lecture include:
- Should you go organic vs conventional?? go LOCAL if possible! It’s environmentally better…although not necessarily with milk because quality milk is typically being shipped in from somewhere else
- 2 nutrients that are only found in carbohydrates are 1. Fiber and 2. Vitamin C
- 3 “take-aways”
- 1. Eat more fruits and veggies
- 2. Reduce your sugar intake
- 3. No liquid calories
- Great quote, “Learn to cook, the better you’ll look”
Jason Brown - “The Next Generation of Partner Training”
I popped in late to this hands-on workshop so I just watched from a distance…he put some nice twists and tweaks on to a number of partner movements I currently use. I really like the practical content and will definitely incorporate it in to some of my programming. Here’s a quick clip of Dr. Jenn Reiner and TRX guru Fraser Quelch having a little battle:
Friday night finished up with Tim Wilkins and his “Laugh Your Abs Off” presentation. Super funny guy with a great Obama impersonation.
Craig Liebenson – “The Stability-Power Continuum”
This was my first time seeing Dr. Liebenson speak and I learned a ton in the 75 minute presentation. Why do some athletes “build up” on a program and others “break down”? Accurate assessments of faulty movement patterns and proper progressions are a must in order to build strength, power, and skill. A couple highlights include:
- I love how he calls the side bridge a “squat on your side”…his focus was on moving the hips forward as if on a ramp.
- Every exercise is a “test”
- Great new exercise –> “Wall Bug” exercise from Kolar
Robert Dos Remedios - “Programming Non-Traditional Tool Into Your Programs”
I’ve seen Coach Dos speak for a couple years now and I always enjoy his combination of knowledge and sense of humor. We also use a very similar approach when creating our programs and that’s comforting to know. This workshop focused more on the “toys” and we honestly use 95% of the same ones…here are a couple gems:
- He referenced a new book at add to the wish list, “The new toughness training for sports“
- New move – Scandanavian Get Up – I’ll try to find video…basically you rotate as you get up so you end up facing the opposite direction at the top of the movement. I need to play around with this one…
- New med ball slam variation – Go right into a vertical jump after the slam…I like it!
- Slider Spiderman Pushup variations – with sliders at the hands OR at the feet
Martin Rooney – “Warrior Cardio”
Martin’s presentation alone is worth the price of admission in my book. If you are ever feeling burnt out or losing your passion for this industry; just attend a Martin Rooney presentation and you’ll be re-inspired. He, along with Gray Cook, are two of my “must sees” every year at this conference. Martin did not disappoint:
- You must explain the ‘why’ to clients and athletes
- 7 Rooney Rules
- 1. don’t do something for nothing
- 2. don’t sacrifice technique for intensity
- 3. don’t confuse fatigue & soreness for productivity
- 4. choose appropriate exercises & apply the right DOSAGE
- 5. recovery
- 6. monitor & progress
- 7. form above all else
- 8. fun
- We have a dosage problem in our industry
- Great quote, “Measure things so you can manage them“
- GO ALL OUT! – Thanks to Gordon for helping us “feel” and really understand this message
Chris Frankel – “Functional Conditioning”
I’ve known Chris for a number of years now due to my work with TRX. He’s a good dude and super smart. The beginning of his presentation took me back to my college years…which was both good and bad. Overall, I loved the concept of Chris’s presentation as it was something that I’ll admit to never even considering…why do we train movements not muscles in strength training (most of us anyway), yet still try to “separate” out our conditioning sessions? There were some great slides in this presentation that helped explain things and show that we need to break this old paradigm. Some cool points included:
- It’s ALL metabolic
- It’s chemistry before physics
- Wingate Test – You still get 18% from aerobic system
- The faster I make gains, the shorter my “peak time” will be
- “Fast Grind” (Pavel) – great term for TGU and heavy carry type movements
- The reason for school? It was to learn how to learn….cool concept
Charlie Weingroff - “Understanding Joint Centration”
I finished off the weekend with two sessions with Charlie Weingroff. I’ve read his content and seen a number of his videos, however, I’ve never seen him present before. Intense and passionate to say the least. This was the presentation that gave me the most “information overload”. It was a good thing that I didn’t have any workshops to attend after this one because I was at mental capacity. I took more notes in this workshop than any other. I definitely plan to learn more from this man in the coming months and years. Just a few of the countless nuggets:
- Biomechanics & EMG don’t lie, they just don’t tell the whole story
- Posture isn’t conscious so you can’t force change in posture
- Can’t only use hardstyle all the time. You need a balance btwn “hard” & “soft”
- “Structure drives function” – a quote he used from Cook
- Gold medalists are born & we just don’t screw them up
- Muscle drives motions, motions drive joints, joint position drive CNS
- A TGU a great dance between mobility and stability
- Success leaves clues
- Loss of joint centration in one leads to issues in all
- Bony landmarks are antennas
- When squatting, do not ‘rip the floor’ rather ‘dial out the floor’ with your feet
- Breathing matters; pack the neck and look at belly button path
- The “packed position” is a direction not a position
- Great interaction – “I touched you and you feel better. Good. Let’s lift heavy things”
Aside from the great speakers and topics, it’s also a great event to network at. It’s inspiring to be surrounded by so many like-minded professionals. I connected with a lot of colleagues who I hadn’t seen in a while and met some new people as well. I even met a handful of people who introduced themselves and told me they enjoyed a YouTube clip I posted or they purchased my DVD (shameless plug) and really enjoyed it. Aside from the tremendous speakers, it’s these interactions that will keep me coming back from years to come. I’m already fired up for the next one!
If you are a trainer, coach, therapist, or even a fitness enthusiast; attend a Perform Better event. You will not be disappointed.