26 Training Lessons from 26 Years: Part 3

In case you missed them, here are parts one and two of my “26 Training Lessons from 26 Years” series.

13. Shut Up and Listen

I have been called a chatterbox, long-winded, and an annoying jackass who doesn’t shut up (among other things). It’s true – I enjoy talking and feel I can have a conversation with nearly anyone I share a language with, but at times it has been detrimental to my career as an athlete and now as a coach. When I was an athlete, I was certain I knew more than enough and could succeed on my own. It wasn’t until I learned to listen to my coaches that I began to truly succeed and my performance improved. As a coach, I have been fortunate to learn from some great mentors in the field. I never would have learned anything from them if I was doing all the talking – it’s not about showing off how much you know, it’s about taking in as much as you can.

14. You Don’t Know a Damn Thing

Going off of number 13 above, it’s unfathomable how much information is out there in strength and conditioning alone, never mind other related fields such as physical therapy, athletic training, etc. I have my methods and training preferences, but they are changing every year when new research comes out or I’ve added a few new wrinkles to my program. With that said, I trust my abilities as a coach to stay up to date with techniques and research, as well as rely on my support network of coaches, athletic trainers, and therapists to provide the best coaching I can for my athletes. Strength and conditioning is one of those professions everyone seems to think they can do, thanks to an occurrence called the Dunning-Kruger Effect. I like to relate it to an athlete telling an athletic trainer what their injury is and the form of treatment they need or a patient looking up their symptoms online and telling the doctor what medicine they need. If you are going to a professional, let them do their job – I wouldn’t be half the coach I am today if I stayed convinced I knew everything as an athlete.

15. Don’t Overlook Recovery Work

I touched on this with #5 – Plan Recovery into your Programs, but recovery work is not given enough attention. Training for an hour a day still leaves 23 hours remaining, this is when gains are made. Your training program is the spark of a match whereas the recovery is the wood and coal that actually burns. Individually, they aren’t useful at producing results, but when properly combined you can have a successful training career. Self-myofascial release, hot tubs, flexibility/mobility work, nutrition, sleep, and recovery aids like the EDGE Mobility Bands can help improve results by assisting with recovery from training.

16. Learn to Cook

I was fortunate enough to go to college away from my parents and began living on my own before assuming all of the responsibilities of adulthood. This gave me a few years of practice taking care of things around the house, paying bills, and most importantly, cooking. I am far from an elite chef, but after spending two years as a college student working in a restaurant and preparing my own meals for years, I can cook up my meals for the week without eliciting a gag reflex. For students, being able to cook for yourself will help you eat clean and healthy (aiding in recovery, as mentioned above) and save you money. Learn how to use a grill, oven, stove, and how to cook meat/vegetables properly – pink in a steak is fine, pink in a chicken breast is not – and you’ll be less likely to be stuffing your face with deep fried crap from a fast food restaurant when you’re hungry.

17. Make Every Rep Count

It’s easy to get distracted in the gym – cute girl on the treadmill, your teammate cracking jokes, the song playing on the stereo… – but it’s important to block all of that out when it’s time to do work. If you’re going to have a conversation, use your rest time. As soon as you approach the bar, lock yourself in on the task at hand and focus on getting the most from each rep. A wasted rep or set can never be gained back – have a reason for everything you do and be able to focus exclusively on that goal while training. Don’t let distractions ruin your training because you can’t block them out for thirty seconds.

All the best,

Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES

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Introducing Dr. E and The EDGE

As I have mentioned, there are a lot of exciting changes coming to Henley Sports Performance, and one of the biggest is the partnership with Dr. Erson Religioso III. Dr. E is an Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapist and the creator of The EDGE tool for assisted soft tissue manipulation. If you have been following the site, you’ve likely seen a few links to articles or videos Dr. E has posted on his website, Today, I would like to officially announce the partnership between Henley Sports Performance and The Manual Therapist. Dr. E has taken the time to answer a few questions for my readers about The EDGE and OMPT in general.

I need to be honest, I’ve been looking forward to this partnership ever since I received my EDGE in the mail. It’s an amazing tool that I use all the time on myself. Can you explain who should be using The EDGE and relate it to the other soft tissue manipulation tools on the market? 

Dr. E: Thanks Drew! This is an exciting opportunity! I designed the EDGE to be used by any health professional who is licensed to perform soft tissue manipulation on a client. The practices acts may vary from state to state, but that includes physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, athletic trainers, occupational therapists, and osteopaths. Some in the Sports Performance world have purchased it for self treatment, which is fine, but I always recommend being evaluated by a health professional, particularly one who specializes in manual therapy for anything more than self treatment of simple tightness or limitations in movement.

There are definitely a lot of tools on the market, including a direct copy of mine. I originally designed it to be a versatile system, an all in one that was easily pocketable, relatively light, but high quality stainless steel. I believe the price is not the only value you get with the EDGE. The main thing I can offer is a willing evolution and open source community. I am always looking for feedback and evolving the shape/design every 1-2 iterations of it. I can also offer something my competitors don’t, which is regular and updated instructions and videos, even by request on my blog, facebook, and twitter pages. I use it daily, on all types of patients, from head to toe. I also teach courses in it locally in Buffalo, NY, or in house if your facility prefers.

I can say I’m very pleased and impressed with mine. So other than The EDGE, what methods do you use with your patients to facilitate recovery?

Dr. E: I have several certifications which lead to my specialization. I am credentialed in Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy, by the McKenzie Institute USA, and also a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists. Much of my caseload is spinal, headaches, followed by general orthopaedic conditions. I try to combine the best of what the literature reports as effective and valid, like MDT for the spine, spinal manipulation, and stabilization with what actually works clinically, like soft tissue manipulation. I use both functional or movement based release, and instrument assisted release for “issues in the tissues.”

Other than hands-on work with clients, you work with several universities and students, correct?

Dr. E: Yes, I teach for 3 doctor of physical therapy programs, D’Youville College (my first alma mater before doctorate), Daemen College, and State University of New York at Buffalo. I also teach and mentor post-graduate physical therapists for the Orthopaedic Manual Therapy Fellowship programs at Daemen College, the McKenzie Institute USA, and Evidence in Motion. In addition, I am working on starting up a certificate in Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy at D’Youville College, and also teach continuing education courses in Neurodynamics, Spinal Manipulation, Comprehensive Soft Tissue Manipulation, and Temporomandibular and Craniofacial Pain.

You also run your site and maintain an incredible YouTube channel (which can be found here, it is an amazing resource for anyone who works on the human body and improving movement). Is there anything I am missing?

Dr. E: Well, I have a consultation practice within Rose Physical Therapy, owned by my good friend and former mentee Dr. Terry Rose, DPT, MS, FMS, FAAOMPT. We work very synergistically and have a blast daily! Both of us decided to go out on our own after working in management positions for 10+ years just about 1 year ago. The businesses are both doing well!

It seems as though much of your work is improving tissue quality to correct imbalances, deficits, etc. What can individuals do to maintain healthy tissue quality? 

Dr. E: It is! Although “issues in the tissues” are just one part of the problem. We look for dysfunction in the entire neuromusculoskeletal system. That being said, movement is key. The average person bends forward thousands of times a day. They also spent much more time sitting than standing. Get up and move! Try not to sit for more than 30-45 minutes. Get up and backward bend at your waist 10 times/hour. Sit upright, like everyone says their mother told them too (only she slouched too!) If everyone sat upright and moved more often, there would be a lot less general headache, neck, and lower back pain.

For the athletes, train globally and functionally. Seinfeld actually said it best “Lifting weights only makes you better at lifting weights.” Rest appropriately. Static stretching has pretty much been disproven to decrease injury, and some studies show may possibly decrease performance. However, early evidence shows dynamic stretching may be effective. Get screened by an FMS expert for injury risk assessment. Go to a manual therapist for evaluation at any signs of pain that can’t be helped with movement or form correction. Hydrate often!

More importantly, how do you think manual therapy and sports performance/strength & conditioning work together to reduce overuse injuries and maintain physiological balance? Athletes and people in general perform better when we are free of pain and in a state of homeostasis, what do you notice is lacking from individuals and their exercise programs?

Dr. E: I would say the average consumer or patient ends up on the wrong end or even the top of the bell curve. There is a bell curve in all professions.  What is lacking in both avenues, rehab and performance training is a “no pain no problem” attitude. Dysfunction and poor movement does not always equate to pain until it’s too late. In an ideal world, a physical therapist would screen at least annually, similar to a primary care physician. If we had “well visits” most likely a lot of overuse and postural based muscle imbalances could be prevented.

What is lacking in both professions are really science based programs and 1:1 personal sessions that base the patient’s or athlete’s program on them as individuals. It requires commitment on both ends. Training, and rehab, which are really just aspects of the same thing, but on different ends of the spectrum, require both parties to participate. Goals take work and there are no magic cures.

My colleague said at the FMS course that your average physical therapist doesn’t take the patient far enough. Referrals work both ways and once we get our patient pain free, it is certainly appropriate to send them on for further strength and/or performance training with a qualified trainer if you as a therapist do not have the facility, time, or training to do so. Both professions can learn a lot from one another!
I couldn’t agree more. It’s important for therapists and strength & conditioning professionals to have connections that allow the transfer of patients. I have been fortunate to work with excellent physical therapists and athletic trainers with whom I was able to transfer care with ease.  When an athlete I trained gets injured, I send them directly to the medical staff and once they are able to return, the PT/ATC trust me to correct the underlying problem. Without effective communication and transference of patients, there would be a lot more recurring injuries.
Thank you again for taking the time to inform my readers on your side of the industry. Keep the great information coming Dr. E!

Please be sure to visit Dr. E’s website at and all the resources he provides. You can also see his most recent posts here, in the sidebar to the right. 

In addition to this new partnership, I am proud to announce I have successfully completed my NASM-CES certification and will provide details on the credential and my thoughts of it in the future. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or requests, please feel free to contact me at any time.
All the best,
Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES
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