I’m still returning back to earth after the news of how our athletes did over the last basketball season and how they were rewarded at the SBL awards evening. Personally, I couldn’t be more proud of what they achieved. The season they’ve all had (that were and weren’t awarded) has been amazing. And since then, I’ve had a number of people ask me about what I’ve done with these athletes and the answer isn’t just a straight forward one. It requires a little more context and explanation. Here it goes…
They Lifted Heavy Weight. Often!
There seems to be this lingering notion that lifting heavy weight, weights training and lifting sub maximal loads some how makes your slower. I know for a fact that in some boxing circles this is still the case. If you’re lifting a heavy weight, like 90-95% and greater, you’re going to be lifting it relatively slow. This is often the case simply because is fucking heavy! However the visual of that slow (yet very intense) movement often draws the conclusion that you’re training heavy then the outcome is NOT speed or power. I hate to say that this idea has long since been proven wrong.
The fact remains that lifting heavier weights and learning how to apply force to not only move the weight but also to the ground (ie: ground force reaction) will allow the athlete to move faster and jump higher.
The invested the time, money and effort to increase their performance
Gone are the days you can just survive on your god-given ability to play a sport. Before there was access to the exercise science and coaches we have now, there was nothing. Strength training just wasn’t as readily available as it is now.
Lifting 3x your body weight doesn’t mean shit if you’re always getting injured. Strength is great but your health is ultimately more important.
With the amount of research and methods we have of increasing human performance, there’s almost a zero percent chance that you can’t get better in some implementation of strength training. Even if you’re an athlete and you go to a horrific coach, if they get you lifting safely (regardless of how stupid the program is) there’s a good chance that you’ll see an increase in strength which can transfer to the sport. Essentially, even if you did a little of something, it’s better than a little of nothing.
Their investment of time and effort has allowed these athletes to stay healthy which in my opinion is a marker that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Don’t think that health is just a simple buzz word that the fitness industry uses in talking about diets and nutrition. Health (and wellness) is the corner stone of ALL things we do in the gym. Lifting 3x your body weight doesn’t mean shit if you’re always getting injured. Strength is great but your health is ultimately more important. I aim to increase all athletic attributes for these men and women but the health and wellness markers are monitored all along the way to make sure we’re staying on the straight and narrow.
If you have to post and talk about hustle, you're not really hustling!
If I'm 100% honest, when I was working in a really awful commercial gym, to seperate myself from the other trainers I would work twice as hard as everyone and grind away to build my business. The problem was I spent most of my time trying to tell everyone about how I hustled. Kind of defeated the purpose of working so hard because I really didn't get much done.
But since separating myself from there and really focussing on what it is that I do best, training athletes, I've been so busy that I haven't had time to tell anyone about what it is that I'm doing. The results are doing all the talking!
If I was ever able to offer business advice it would be this - just go out and get results with the people you're working with. Do it well enough for long enough and you'll have more than enough people wanting to work with you.
Aside from me trying to go all Gary Vaynerchuck, at the end of the day these athlete just....did....the....work.
They came in each day, worked out, ticked the boxes and went home to eat. A simplistic way of looking at it but if it's easy to follow, it's easy to implament. Fewer emotions and fewer variables mean that we can get to the job of lifting and training. I think we did that pretty well.
FALSE: If a little is good, a lot must be better...
If you do a 3 training sessions a week and lose 1kg then doing 6 training sessions DOES NOT mean you'll lose 2kg. This is where teaching the athletes about pumping the brakes is important.
With every single US athlete I've worked with, the training mentality is very different than those that didn't go through the US college system. I've seen and heard first hand that many gyms just bury you into the ground and if you're not hyperventilating or bleeding from the ears then you're not working hard enough. They've engrained this into the athletic mindset that you have to be broken down to experience what a good session is.
Let's just make this clear, your training the athlete for what they need, not what you as the strength coach wants. Sure, I've got different ways of doing things but I'm not going to train someone for 14 sessions a week and destroy them each session because they'll end up injured, overtrained and most likely in a worse position then when I found them.
My job is far from done because too many athletes come in thinking that they're going to get smashed (and clients of personal trainers often think the same too!). You come in to get better. Period.
These athletes put in HOURS of work, not just a couple of training sessions.
(I know the title of this point in a little contradictory to the previous point but run with me on this...)
When I first started training general population clients long before I was lucky enough to train athletes, those clients would talk to me about doing 2-4 sessions a week because that's all they could muster. With these athletes below (as well as ev-er-y-one of the others) they put the time in that's needed, not what they want, but exactly what's needed. If they're needing to get their vertical up a few inches, they put the hard yards in the gym and on the court. They decided that they needed help, we opened our doors (huge shout out to F45 Hillarys for literally opening their arms, hearts and gym to me and my team) and they did the work.
If you have a goal to achieve then you've got to put in the work to achieve that goal. It's a simple approach BUT if you do 4 sessions a week and get the exact same result as you would in 20 sessions, then you take the former.
The best thing about these legends was that they asked questions and quizzed everything I did. They had a genuine interest in how things carried over to the sport. Buy in and trust are vital to a successful program so if the athlete can see the vision and understand the principles, you're in for a winner.
Train your athletes well and the trade off of them getting stronger and faster is that they'll get better opportunities (money on their contracts, travel the world playing ball, increase in team status and game time etc...)
These Athletes All Had LOTS of Talent Before They Met Me!
Here's where I'm going to be brutally honest. These basketballer's had a MASSIVE amount of talent before they met me. Ali was already the league MVP the year before and Rob (William Brandenberg) was already playing for a Division 1 college in the USA and had played professionally across the globe. The beautiful thing that happened when they all connected with me is that I was able to put the pieces together in following this framework...
- Structural balancing testing
- Length tension testing
- Speed, strength, power, agility, reaction and quickness testing
- Body compositional testing
- And many more...
By collecting all these data points and seeing where they were at, I could easily put a program and strategy in place. The rest they say is history.
So how did the Atlas Performance Family finish up?
Oh yeah, and another couple of SBL Champions!!
You'll see ALL of these studies have been authored in some way by a very very very dear friend and colleague of mine, Dr. Tania Spiteri. She's not only a weapon, a genius but a down right legend. Oh, she knows a thing or two about basketball too!