Over the Summer I was very fortunate to attend Joe Dowdell and Dr. Mike Roussell’s Peak Performance and Diet Design Seminar and Joe’s facility Peak Performance NYC. The seminar was a blast. It was great to catch up with Dr. Perry Nickelston, Tony Gentilcore, and Joe and meet John Romaniello, Sean Hyson, Jim Smith, Mike Roussell, and a number of the other attendees.

You may recall that I discussed the “expert” panel Q&A that Joe asked me to be a part of here: Become a Great Coach!

Social gatherings aside, the seminar itself was packed with great information. It was the first time I saw either Joe or Dr. Mike speak, so to say it was an eye opener would be an understatement. I’ve referenced back through the binder that all of the attendees received several times since the course and thought it would be a good topic for today’s post. Without further ado, here are 5 things I picked up at the seminar.

5) Citrulline Malate
Dr. Roussell discussed his supplement recommendations, and divided them up into “core”, “performance enhancers”, and “case specific.” This in itself is an important concept as many people are quick to start taking supplements (or following training programs for that matter) based on what others are doing, which completely neglects the importance of individual training and body composition goals and stress tolerance. I was familiar with most of the supplements Dr. Mike spoke about, but one really caught my attention: citrulline malate.

According to Dr. Mike, citrulline malate can help fight fatigue and decrease muscle soreness by preventing lacate build-up and acidosis, as well as clearing ammonium.  CM also increases BCAA utilization during exercise, so it’s a great compliment to BCAA or protein supplementation. Some of these attributes have been described with arginine supplementation (such as one of the main active ingredients in all the garbage NO supplements), but Dr. Mike pointed out that arginine is shuttled to the liver shortly after absorption, making it a less effective option that citrulline malate. For hockey players, this means maintaining high performance through long shifts and physical games. For lifters, this means achieving more work in a training session and an expedited recovery. For everyone, this seems like good news.

4) Comprehensive Periodization
Joe is one of the most thorough planners I’ve ever spoken with. When a pro athlete comes to him, he lays out their schedule for the next several weeks or months (depending on what they know) and varies the stresses of the training based on their sport-specific training/practices, travel, and their competitions. This allows for both optimal progress and facilitate recovery, which in turn feeds optimal progress/performance. To an extent, every strength coach does this, but Joe really takes it to the next level. In the manual, Joe included a 4-phase (~5 months) training program that he used with National Fencing Champion Tim Morehouse and 4-phase energy system development program that he used with MMA fighter Marcos “Loro” Galvao. Looking through these programs spawn a lot of ideas regarding the importance of long-term planning and stress management, options for program periodization, and general options for resistance and energy systems training. You can infer a lot about the quality of a coach from analyzing his/her programs, and the attention to detail Joe builds into his programs explains why his gym is a top 3 gym in the nation.

3) Variety
I’ll be honest, I’m not usually impressed with random exercise variations. I think a lot of people put an excessive emphasis on variety at the expense of actually becoming proficient in the movements and their progress suffers accordingly. I also think that people prioritize effective behind “sexy” in selecting exercises (hence all the crazy BOSU and stability ball exercises that people fell in love with). That said, Joe put together a 23-page list with ~650 different exercise variations, describing the “dominant movement pattern or emphasis” for each and including additional classifications when appropriate. Beginners need to master the basics; that should be clear. But more advanced athletes with longer training backgrounds (5-10+ years depending on the consistency) will benefit both physically and psychologically from a varied stimulus. This is by far the most comprehensive list of categorized exercises I’ve ever come across. I’m impressed.

2) Training Residuals
In the interest of prioritizing different training qualities to help make maximum progress, it’s important to understand how long you can leave a quality alone before it starts to degrade. Joe did an outstanding job of discussing Dr. Issurin’s research in this area. Understand “motor ability” residuals as Dr. Issurin calls them, is extremely important in designing programs for elite level athletes. Joe also discussed the physiological changes that drive these residuals, but the list below will give you an idea of how long qualities last before they start to degrade.

  1. Aerobic Endurance: 30 +/- 5 days
  2. Maximum Strength: 30 +/- 5 days
  3. Anaerobic Glycolytic Endurance: 18 +/-4 days
  4. Strength Endurance: 15 +/- 5 days
  5. Maximum Speed (Alactic): 5 +/-3 days

1) Competing Demands
Related to the point above, it’s important to understand which physical qualities will interfere with the development of other qualities. In other words, you want to design your training so that the primary, secondary, and tertiary (if applicable) emphases of a given training phase compliment each other. Mixing contrasting qualities will limit the development of both. Again, Joe highlighted Dr. Issurin’s work in this area, which is briefly illustrated below:

  1. Aerobic Endurance: Alactic (Sprint) abilities, strength endurance-aerobic, maximum strength-hypertrophy (after)
  2. Anaerobic (Glycolytic) Endurance: Strength endurance-anaerobic, aerobic restorative exercises, aerobic-anaerobic (mixed) endurance
  3. Alactic (Sprint) Abilities: Aerobic endurance, explosive strength, maximum strength-hypertrophy (after), aerobic restoration exercises
  4. Maximum Strength-Hypertrophy: Maximum strength-innervation, flexibility, aerobic restoration
  5. Learning New Technical Elements: Any kind of training modality, but after the dominant tasks

A “Top 5” doesn’t really do the seminar justice. Joe described ALL of the adaptations to various resistance training and energy system development strategies and Dr. Mike gave the most comprehensive talk on nutrition and supplementation that I’ve ever seen. Simply, there wasn’t really any component of designing training programs or diets that they didn’t discuss, in detail (I think that was their intention!).

For those of you that missed the seminar, I know they recorded the entire thing and are in the final stages of putting together a huge package with all of the DVDs and the binder I alluded to earlier with all of the slides and extra bonuses from the presentation. Look out for more information on that in the near future, but in the meantime, Joe Dowdell put together a free webinar for you on the “Top 5 Keys for Success in the Fitness Industry.” If you’re coming from a hockey background, this may not interest you, but if you’re personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach, or fitness enthusiast, I highly recommend you check out the webinar!

Click here to watch >> Top 5 Keys for Success in the Fitness Industry

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