CHP Coaches Answer YOUR Questions! (Part One)

You asked? We answered! In part one of three, Alex Viada, Kelly Bruno, Mike Fecik, and Taylor Weglicki respond to your burning questions!

ALEX VIADA

What would programming for the gen-pop that wants to be strong, muscular and fit look like?

“It could be literally anything. The wonderful thing about learning multiple training modalities is how many doors it opens for people to work with. The whole “hybrid training” philosophy is about making training stressors enhance each other whenever possible, which gives us the freedom to program for tremendously disparate goals. The translation to genpop is clear. Here we can incorporate nearly any forms of exercise or training we want. Most of our genpop program has a smattering of strongman (moving with weighted objects and anaerobic conditioning), some basic multi-joint barbell movements (squats, presses), easy LISS-style conditioning (of any sort- running, cycling, rowing, or swimming), and basic bodyweight/gymnastics movements. If this sounds like powerlifting meets strongman meets crossfit meets triathlon, you’re probably right. The point is, within our framework we can focus on time domains and types of movement, and not feel wed to any particular “style” of training. We treat genpop like multi-sport athletes, in a way, and it works.”

 

After working with numerous athletes, what’s the most surprising finding/experience?

“There are so many more similarities than differences. Whether athletes are powerlifters, ultra-runners, weightlifters, triathletes, CrossFit competitors…the same things move all of us. They all have the same doubts, the same fears, and the same ways of motivating themselves. I think working with such a variety of athletes has driven home how much we can learn from one another.  A world class cyclist could sit down with the world’s strongest man and I can guarantee you they could speak for hours and hours about the simplest training related struggles and find an absurd amount of common ground. This is the fun part – being at the nexus of these conversations and realizing that we should all be talking, that strength coaches and strength athletes should attend events targeted at endurance athletes and vice versa, because there is so much to learn from each other.”

 

With all the information available today freely on the Internet, do you find that getting a degree or formal education in this field is necessary prior to coaching?

“Necessary, no, but highly encouraged. A systematic approach to inquiry is critically important to develop, but what my education in particular taught me is what I do NOT know. Just an appreciation for the complexity of the simplest seeming things is so important for prospective coaches. This doesn’t have to be a university degree either. Any apprenticeship or education in a trade or skill carries similar teachings. Whether you’ve been training to be a mechanic, an EMT, an electrician, a doctor, a biologist, a teacher- the process of learning a skill or trade is about learning the fundamentals. Understanding that mastery of the simplest mechanisms and principles are mandatory before embarking upon the more complex. This is something EVERY coach needs to know and appreciate. No amount of information teaches someone how to coach, or how to stay humble in your knowledge.”

 

BONUS: What is the biggest business related failure?

“Not planning for success, not putting scalable processes in place, and having to scale our billing, our client management, and other mission-critical pieces when things were already expanding. Don’t build a framework for the business you have, build a framework for the business you WANT to have. This has cost us opportunities and broken our momentum more times than I can count.”

Learn more about Alex Viada.

 

KELLY BRUNO

Do you have any chronic/nagging injuries that impair your running (mechanically or program wise)?

“As an athlete engaged in a sport that involves repetitive movement, namely running for me, I’ve certainly had my fair share of chronic and nagging injuries. The most frustrating and nagging have included shin splints, a calf strain from sprint repeats that took almost a year to recover from, and an iliopsoas strain that caused significant hip and back pain and resulted in nearly 6 months of recovery time. Although I’ve been lucky that my general asymmetry from running with a prosthetic leg hasn’t caused much of a problem, I wouldn’t be surprised if the increased demand on my good leg contributed to these chronic injuries. Luckily, all have resolved with time and I’m currently injury-free. Knock-on-wood now.”

 

What system (internal or otherwise) do you use to both identify, treat, and evaluate chronic injuries?

“You’ve posed a question here that could take an entire book to answer, literally, and we may be working on something like that. But in short, I believe the process of evaluating and treating a chronic injury has to be put into context beginning with the individual’s training and injury history. Obviously the athlete’s primary sport is of critical important. The general approach I take regardless of sport, is to first classify an acute versus a chronic injury. If the nature of the injury is indeed suggestive of a chronic process then, again, I like to begin with an in depth review of the pain itself. Description of pain and specific location, how long it’s been going on, what makes it worse or better, does it feel better with rest, what’s been tried to treat it, etc. From there, the physical evaluation would be injury dependent. I think for most injuries, the history and physical exam can give a pretty good picture of what’s going on. Of course, if there is any question at all, then I would definitely refer to a local MD who could obtain imaging if appropriate (but this is probably the exception not the rule).

 As with evaluation, treatment is also so injury dependent. It would be tough to provide a specific system for treatment except to say that for most chronic injuries treatment would likely involve limiting movements that cause pain, substituting in other movements and/or conditioning that provide sufficient adaptation in leu of the substituted exercise (for example; biking instead of running to allow recovery from shin splints, leg press instead of squatting for movement-specific hip or back pain) and finally emphasizing corrective movements, stretching or strengthening of the affected body part in order to prevent recurrence once (if ever) healed.”

 

For athletes that have attempted the traditional MD/PT route of “fixing” injuries, what other resources or professionals would you have them consider?

“It would depend, in part, on what type of MD or PT the athlete was seen by for initial evaluation. Not all MDs or PTs are created equally. That’s not to say that some are better than others (although this is probably true as well), but just to point out that there are a subset of medically trained professionals who have experience working with athletes and it’s this experience that lends itself to evaluating and treating an injury adequately. Given the sheer breadth of medicine these days, most doctors receive very little, if any, training in athletic-related injuries (after 8 years of medical training I can say this as a fact). The additional training for sports medicine is only one year and many of these physicians still see mostly routine patients. The same goes for PTs.

 Now, if the athlete has seen a medical professional with sufficient experience working with athletes and is still struggling, then other specialists I would consider would be, depending on the injury of course, an experienced acupuncturist, a pain medicine specialist (my specialty), a massage therapist or a chiropractor (if working within their scope). I am also a huge proponent of yoga for managing chronic pain.”

Learn more about Kelly Bruno.

 

MIKE FECIK

Does it matter whether you do cardio before lifting (or vice versa)? How does individual context change the situation? 

“Rule of thumb—strength work before cardio sessions with the least amount of rest between the sessions. It is of course dependent on the overall goal as well. For endurance based event goals, a strength session performed before a cardio session will “pre-fatigue” your muscles. Going into the cardio session you might not feel very fresh. This pre-fatigued state simulates what happens as you get tired during an event and will allow you to understand where you “breakdown.” Having this knowledge can than make you a more educated racer and allow you to fix these problematic areas. This is a best-case scenario. If sessions need to be broken up, try for strength first then cardio later in the day and if this just is not possible to be done, consistency is key so just get the sessions in. You might also try strength in the evening with the related cardio the next morning, which will still allow for some potential fatigue.”

 

If you could go back in time and give your younger self some advice, what would it be?

“Reach for goals, train constantly and keep focus. Don’t let outside factors pull you away from your goals. The only way to get where you want to be is hard work and investing time.”

 

If focus is on improving cycling, how much and when would you incorporate strength training?

“Shoot for 2-3 sessions a week with most focus being on squats, deadlifts, unilateral movements, and good core and posture. Upper body stabilization is also important and can be quickly incorporated to these sessions. Think volume over max effort weight on most sessions. Ideally this would start in the off-season and then transition to shorter sessions as the season gets underway. Accessory work should support the movements of cycling as well as muscles that might tend to be overlooked and cause chronic issues.”

Learn more about Mike Fecik.

 

TAYLOR WEGLICKI

 

If you could go back in time and give your younger self some advice, what would it be?

“Trust no one with dogmatic blanket statements regarding rehab, training, or the human body in general. The human form is so intricately complex, that to make a flat statement that there is only one way to do anything is patently false and likely to lead to failure (and much frustration as a clinician/coach).”

 

What system (internal or otherwise) do you use to both identify, treat, and evaluate chronic injuries?

“As a physical therapist, I have a combination of tools in the toolbox that I use to address chronic injuries. The most important, in my opinion, is having a framework for data collection. No one evaluation is going to be perfect (nor will it cover all the necessary information), so adapting each evaluation to the patient and helping them figure out what might be the cause of the injury is very important for overall success. My first framework was based on McKenzie evaluations, but currently I utilize a combination of SFMA, myotomal testing, movement quality assessment, and directed questioning to try and discover a cause of injury.

 Along with pain education, these points of reference allow me to collect the necessary data to develop a plan of attack to address anything the injured client might be struggling to correct. Of particular importance is also having a network to ask questions in the event I am unable to identify the issue. No clinician is perfect, and to think so is dangerous. The ability to know your system isn’t up to the task and adjust (or ask other clinicians for help) is important.”

 

For athletes that have attempted the traditional MD/PT route of “fixing” injuries, what other resources or professionals would you have them consider?

“An important note here: not all PT’s and MD’s are the same. We all receive the same basic doctoral level education, but depending on work environment and personal drive, some clinicians continue to learn and excel at their craft. I hate that you have not had success with a rehabilitation team, as it’s my personal opinion that if you participated well and did all you were asked, the clinician has a duty to ensure you are referred if they cannot solve the issue. In addition, I have a wonderful massage therapist, acupuncturist, and chiropractor within my network of friends that I utilize locally when needed, but I also have the clinical knowledge to know when something needs to be treated by techniques I do not possess in my toolbox.

I do not recommend simply walking into another professional’s office without vetting them first. I tell my patients that if they seek outside help without my recommendation, go by feel in the office. If the professional tells you something, does not explain, and simply expects you to return for multiple visits and just pay up, then that’s probably a good sign to leave.”

Learn more about Taylor Weglicki.

 

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Part 2 coming soon!