If you missed the previous three articles in this series, check them out here:
Today’s article presents an interesting view on the evolution that most “functional training” specialists undergo as they develop as professionals in the field. It’s interesting how accurate this progression often is. Check out the article and post your comments below!
The Evolution of a Strength Coach by Mike Boyle
Functional Strength Coach 4
A few recent events have made me realize that all strength coaches will eventually evolve to the same place. Like many of us, I listen to and read a great deal from the internet. One trend that I have seen is that some of the previously “hard core” guys are gradually embracing the corrective exercise/ functional training side of the coin. This made me realize two things:
1. Why I think the way I do
2. Why others make fun of me
The reason I think the way I do and the reason lots of the “hardcore” guys make fun of me is because I am old. I am further along the evolutionary trail of the strength coach. You see, we all start at about the same place and we probably all end up at the same place. I just started my journey sooner. In fact I am in year 32 of my evolution. For me phase 1 of the Evolution of the Strength and Conditioning Coach, The Bodybuilder, was actually in the 1970’s. I saw Boyer Coe guest pose at a show in Connecticut and wanted to be the next Frank Zane. If you don’t know who those guys are, it’s OK. You are just too young.
The truth is almost all male strength coaches and personal trainers go through the evolutionary process listed below.
Stage 1- The Bodybuilder
Face it, we all started here. Maybe we wanted to get better at sports but what we really wanted in our teens was to look better for girls. To do this we picked up a muscle magazine, joined the local gym , copied the routines and began bodybuilding. The beauty of this stage is that we knew it all. We bombed and blitzed our way to success as Joe Weider looked on from the pages of Muscle and Fiction.
Stage 2- The Powerlifter
At the onset of stage two the bodybuilder realizes that the really strong guys in the gym don’t give him the time of day. In fact, the truly strong guys laugh at him in his tanktop as he admires his arms in the mirror. The young bodybuilder and future strength coach is determined to get some respect so he really works on his bench press to gain that respect. What he then realizes is that these strong guys don’t respect anyone with no legs and a big bench. The bodybuilder soon evolves to the powerlifter. As in stage one we still know it all but what we know is different. We realize that what we thought we knew in stage 1 was not quite as true as we thought. At this stage we never admit any mistakes though. Stage two last for 2-3 years or until the first major injury. In this time period you really fall in love with the weightroom. You become diligent about diet and not missing training days and you get stronger almost every week. Your training partners cheer you on. Your technique is not perfect but you are moving big weight. Usually in stage 2 you also decide to enter a meet. A meet is great reality therapy. Your 315 bench done in “all you” form with just a bit of an arch and bounce becomes a 275 pause bench. Your “parallel” squats suddenly expose your lack of knowledge of geometry. Usually you bomb in the squat in your first meet and resolve to return a much better lifter. In stage two you are at your most macho. You laugh at anyone doesn’t do back squats and deadlifts and you post frequently to internet forums. All posts mention how strong you are and usually some line that belittles those who don’t lift heavy iron.
Stage 3- The Injured Powerlifter
This stage begins with a bad back or a sore shoulder and usually lasts through one or two surgeries. Stage three is like denial in the substance abuse world. You realize that your days of lifting huge weights are coming to an end but you refuse to say it out loud. Your searches of the internet now focus on healing your wounds. You vow to make a comeback. Often, you have surgery and attempt to lift in a meet again. Like a guy repeatedly slamming his fingers in the car door, you can’t wait to get back under the bar.
You learn about ART, MAT and a bunch of other therapies that seem to have guys names. You also begin to sneak a few looks at books on injury prevention and heaven forbid, you begin to explore things like warm-up and mobility. At the end of the injured powerlifter stage you begin to apologize to those older and wiser that you made fun of and called names. You realize that much like your parents the guys you taunted on internet forums were just older and wiser.
Stage 4- The Functional Training Guy
Most of us end in stage four. Usually we have a few scars from our time in stage three putting off the inevitable. In stage four we realize that we can still train however, the days of trying to pick up the heaviest thing you can lift goes by. You become an innocent bystander watching car wrecks as you see the young guys move from stage 1 to stage 2. You try to warn them but they laugh at you and go into their chat rooms and make fun of you. All you can think of is “call me when you are fifty and we can talk”.
The truth is evolution and development are both inevitable. Young men will always want to impress young women. They will also, in a very primal way, want to impress other young men. We can only hope to speed the evolution and save people some pain. As you read this hopefully you will see yourself in one of these stages and intervene. Next time you get ready to “lay it on the line” ask yourself why.
– Mike Boyle
Functional Strength Coach 4
To your success,
P.S. – Mike Boyle is releasing his new program, Functional Strength Coach 4 on Tuesday, April 24th. Functional Strength Coach 4 is Coach Boyle’s most up to date system cultivated from over 30 years of coaching everyone from general fitness clients to athletes ranging from junior high to All Stars in almost every major sport, that will guide you to better results with your athletes and clients. Click here to be the first to know about the all new Functional Strength Coach 4!
P.S.2. As always, I appreciate you forwarding this along to anyone you think will benefit from the info! You can use the social media dropdown menu at the top right hand corner to share it via Twitter and Facebook!
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Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.