Returning from Hiatus

It has been quite a while since I wrote on here (~3.5 years), and a lot of things have happened during that time to take my attention elsewhere. Moving across the country, getting engaged, losing a loved one, moving across the country AGAIN, buying a house, and getting married (to the woman who put up with the nearly 6,000 miles of relocating) were the big ones. I also wanted to take some time to reflect and refine my coaching philosophies and how they have changed over the years.

As you’ll notice, there are several changes to the site, and I hope to bring you new material on a (semi) regular basis.

All the best,

Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, FMS
Twitter: @DrewBHenley

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Conditioning vs. Cardio

Chris Shugart put up an entertaining article last week on T-Nation about conditioning vs. cardio. This got me thinking of some of my favorite conditioning exercises and how I implement them into my athletes’ training. Rather than calling it predator conditioning (though I could be persuaded with a kickass name like that), I generally stick to metabolic conditioning, METCON, or blitz workouts.

1. Ropes – Two hand slams, alternating slams, jumping jacks, mini waves, side to side, internal/external rotation, and wax on/wax off circles are some of my favorites to use with an anchored rope. Other drills I like are rope rows (with a sled or heavy kettlebell), fireman’s carry, rope chin ups, and tug of war, but these typically require a lot of space.

2. Sleds – Great for pushes, forward drags, and sprints. Sleds become an even greater conditioning tool when combined with a TRX – walking TRX rows, chest presses, rotations, and walking anti-rotation holds.

3. Sledgehammers – Overhead and rotational slams are great for developing upper body power while taxing the entire body.

4. Sandbags – A 50 pound sandbag always seems heavier than a 95 pound barbell. Front squats, offset (on one shoulder) squats, Zercher squats, lunges, or even just carrying the bags without handles are excellent ways to incorporate sandbags into conditioning.

5. Slideboards – Great for lateral shuffles, they can also be used for push up variations, ab rollouts, body saws, reverse lunges, and mountain climbers.

These are just some types of equipment I use with athletes, depending on their ability level, sport demands, and time of season. If you’re looking to build a strong conditioning plan, start with the basics (push, pull, squat, carry), try a variety of tools (any of the above, plus dumbbells, barbells, TRX, landmine, etc.), and make a circuit out of it. A simple solution is to pick a couple of exercises and go :20 on, :10 off for a few rounds. Other work:rest ratios I like to use are :15/:5/:15 with :30 between exercises (so two rounds of one, then switch) and :30/:10/:30/:60. One other way is to pair up and go for a specific number of reps, but when in doubt, I stick with the Tabata protocol.

Personal Favorite METCONs (with rounds before switching exercises and reps/rest or time on/time off/time on/transition):

Upper Body Blast (:20/:10/:20/:10)

  • Overhead Rope Slams
  • TRX Rows (or TRX Sled Pulls)
  • Slideboard Push Ups
  • Rotational Med Ball Wall Slams

Legs & Lungs (1 set of marked reps/distance, then next exercise, resting after each round. Can also be done with partner, 2 sets, switch exercises, then 2 minute rest after each round)

  • Heavy Sled/Prowler Pushes – 25 yards
  • Zercher Sandbag Walks – 20 yards & back
  • Stadium Farmer Walks – 3-5 flights (partner goes at same time, no second set)
  • Sprint – 50 yards, walk back
  • Total Body Shredding (best with partner – as many sets as possible in 5 minutes per exercise, 1:30 to switch)
  • Over the Shoulder Sledgehammer Slams – 5 each side
  • Zercher Hold Walking Lunges – 20 yards & back
  • TRX Sled Rows – 25 yards
  • Rope Jumping Jacks – 20

There are an infinite number of possibilities to play around with, which should help eliminate the boredom typically associated with conditioning. It’s important to remember to recover – if you’re training heavy & hard every day, and trying to add in these METCONs, it can result in overtraining or worse. Be smart in your training and allow your body to recover between training sessions.

All the best,

Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, FMS-1

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Perform Better Summit – Quick Recap of Day 1

As expected, day 1 provided an excellent group of speakers on numerous topics. Unfortunately, the internet in my hotel isn’t cooperating, so I’ll be brief in my recap as I’m writing it on my phone.

  • It was great seeing Mike Boyle again. Last year at spring training with the Red Sox, Mike was an excellent resource and mentor to have. As expected, his lecture on functional coaching didn’t disappoint.
  • Thomas Myers had several amazing insights, but his top moment was his explanation that “bones ‘float’ in a sea of soft tissue, not stacked upon one another as a single structure.”
  • Jon Torine shed some light on the “why” of programming in the FMS “Every ‘what’ needs a ‘why’ to flourish.” Hopefully I can explain that better next week with my full article on the conference.
  • Gray Cook broke down the three basic movements against resistance: locomotion – moving yourself, manipulation – moving an object, and combative – moving another person.
  • Finally, Dick Vermeil was an incredible finish to the night with some of the best lines I’ve heard. Excellent motivator and easy to see why he had the success he did as a coach. “There is no such thing as a coach without problems. However, a problem in the right hands is a wonderful asset because it leads to a solution.”

That’s all for day 1. On the docket for tomorrow – Charlie Weingroff, Duane Carlisle, Al Vermeil, Nick Winkleman, and Martin Rooney.

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Perform Better Summit Introduction

Just arrived in beautiful Providence and wandered around the convention center where the Perform Better Summit will be held the next three days. This will be my first PB Summit and I am looking forward to an amazing lineup of presenters.

Here’s a short list of presenters this weekend:

  • Michael Boyle
  • Alwyn Cosgrove
  • Thomas Myers
  • Lee Burton
  • Gray Cook
  • Mark Verstegen
  • Jon Torine
  • Charlie Weingroff
  • Al Vermeil
  • Robert Dos Remedios

And that’s not including the keynote speaker who was just revealed recently – former NFL Coach of the Year and Super Bowl Champion Dick Vermeil.

It’s shaping up to be quite a weekend. I look forward to sharing as much information as I can pick up from all these great minds.


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Important Resources

Here we go, time for the useful information to start. As I said in the last post, this blog will be composed of my own training thoughts and ideas, as well as pulling from a number of outside resources to provide a much more well-rounded experience.
As such, I’d like to provide you the following list of the sites/people I try to keep up with as they continually produce excellent work:
Alan Stein – blog.strongerteam.com
Eric Cressey – http://ericcressey.com/blog
Mike Robertson – http://robertsontrainingsystems.com/blog
T-Nation – http://www.t-nation.com/
Mike Boyle – http://strengthcoachblog.com
Drew Henley – http://henleysportsperformance.blogspot.com/
(shameless plug)
Now, I’m not saying I agree with everything all these guys write, or that this is anywhere close to a complete list of where to go for information, but these are who I check on daily because they put out excellent work. This isn’t including the countless books, journal articles, and twitter links I go through any given day, but if you’re lounging around and have your computer handy, these guys are definitely worth a look, I’m sure you’ll find something to incorporate into your training or practice time.
As I am sure I missed several great resources, PLEASE let me know who else out there I should all be checking regularly. None of us are ever too good/smart we can’t get better or learn more.
“There is no knowledge that is not power.” – unknown
Drew Henley
Twitter – @DrewBHenley
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