Teaching Clients How to Row

What’s the single most difficult exercise to teach someone?

Fundamental movements: squat, bend, push, and pull.

Most problems in the gym can be stated simply. I don’t want your back to move around too much when you squat or bend. I want your shoulder blade to follow your arm when it moves.

“Fixing” a lower body “problem” can be difficult, but usually there’s a simple idea behind it. Get the hips in the right position and maintain balance.

Upper body pushing isn’t too bad; make sure you cue a full reach at the top.

Upper body pulling, however, is a bear. Lead with the shoulder blade, make sure the rib cage moves, don’t compensate with the spine (but still let it move a little), kill momentum, don’t shrug, pause at the top, don’t let the head flop around, where should the eyes look, bring your elbow away from your side (but not too far), count your reps, and try not to think about how many sweaty people have been on this bench since it was last cleaned.

Which brings us to this video.

This post is NOT for people looking to be told what to do. I want to give you a broad vision of rowing, how to coach it, and where it fits into a person’s entire training regimen. I don’t want you to rely on inaccurate, concrete progressions, but instead start to think through and problem solve for your clients (athletes and gen pop alike).

This post is NOT for people who are lost and don’t know what to do. This post is for people looking for a better way to do things.

The agenda:

  • A short talk on how muscles hypertrophy (so we know what we need to do to get gains) [see more below]
  • The variations I like to start with (and how to coach them)
  • The variations I think are easiest to teach (good programming makes you a successful coach in the gym)
  • The variations I think are most prone to error (make your clients earn their stripes before you give these to them)
  • How you can tweak little positioning details to totally change the exercise (and get what you want out of it)
  • Why I would have someone reach while they row (do you think I’d have everyone do it?)
  • Everything you need to understand to keep your clients’ joints healthy (I just want to help you think about scapular movement, glenoid position, rib cage orientation, joint forces, and muscular anatomy at play)
  • How to tell when the latissimus dorsi is taking over (and why that can be such an issue)
  • The two different types of rowing mindsets (one that helps you get jacked and another that helps you feel better)
  • How pull-ups fit into this equation (it’s the same only different)
  • Thoughts on chin-ups vs pull-ups (sometimes I care what grip they use, sometimes I don’t)

I’m an anatomy nerd so take this with a grain of salt: honestly, I’ve found that knowing the anatomy has helped me coach this more than anything else. That and practicing it in my own training. Once you know all the pieces, it’s much easier to focus on just one of them at a time while still keeping the bigger picture in your mind.

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Working on Your Sales Pitch – What do they care about?

Members can download the notes to get the short version.

The theme this month was:

  1. Work on your sales pitch
  2. Don’t expect perfection

And there were a ton of great questions:

  • How do you go about training someone like a punter? W2017-11-13 IFASTU Q&A with Mike Robertsonould you start with bilateral movements or unilateral stuff? [2:00]
  • How often do you mention PRI when training people? [8:35]
  • What’s your wrap up / sales pitch when trying to explain breathing patterns to your athletes? [12:08]
  • What makes some of these college basketball strength coaches some of the best? [14:50]
  • Do you like airborne lunges or skater squats? [21:51]
  • Do you use KB swings with your athletes? [26:15]
  • How do I test during different blocks? [33:38]
  • What warm up exercises do you like using for your Indy 11 soccer guys? [36:42]
  • How do you build in buy-in for the 90-90 breathing positions and quadruped breathing positions? [40:52]
  • If someone has pathology and they do a movement that looks pretty good, do you cue them out of it or just leave it alone? [45:02]
  • I have a golf client. What should I do with him? [49:00]
  • They are asymmetrical because they swing in one direction. How would you address them? [56:59]

There was a question this month on training golfers. If you want a more in-depth breakdown of the golf swing and working with golfers, check out this video from Ty Terrell:

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8 Weeks to Train a College Basketball Player

8 Weeks to Train a College Basketball Player

This summer I had a basketball kid in from Butler who is a pure stud: Prince Harry of Harlem.

He’s a tough dude, hard worker. Isn’t it great to have someone in who is so dedicated? Those are always my favorite athletes.

Anyways, I wanted to walk you guys through the program I wrote for him.

  • We had 8 weeks
  • How did I identify my priorities?
  • Why did I choose them? (so you can identify your own in the future)
  • What is Adaptive Currency and why is it so important?
  • His before and after results
  • His program

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Pelvic Angle and HRV: Exercises to alter autonomics

Pelvic Angle and HRV

Getting clients into the proper positions results in better mechanics and decreases the chance of injury. Whether treating a physical therapy patient or coaching in the gym, we pay close attention to the position of various body segments in relation to one another.

But what are these positions? And why do they work?

In this video, I’ll give you some exercises you can try right away. These work really well for certain clients (like those super stressed out ones) as long as you cue them correctly.

Then I’ll walk you through some of the research and neuroscience behind how position might impact the autonomic nervous system. If you understand the science, you can make up your own exercises.

How does position affect autonomics?

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Comprehensive Squatting: More squatting biomechanics than you could ever want to know (until you see the results)

Comprehensive Squatting

Everyone in this industry talks about building your foundation.

Go back to basics.

Do the easy things well.

Keep it simple, stupid.

Pelvic position is paramount in developing a client’s foundation and your own fundamental skillset as a coach.

Again for emphasis: this topic is essential for coaches.

I broke this talk into two components: lecture and practical. For those of you who want my advice, here’s how you should approach this topic…

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Help Any Client Achieve Their Goals

Note from Lance: Our special guest today is Zac Cupples, DPT, CSCS. I’ve been able to call Zac a friend since he did his clinical rotation with Bill Hartman in Indianapolis. I managed to pin him down for a half hour and teach us about his system for creating change, specifically through a movement lens. What is limiting YOU?


I’m in the business of creating change, but — as you know — that stuff is HARD TO DO.

How do you simplify the process?

I like to outline things. When thoughts have a directional flow, it’s easier to keep everything straight. So I have to ask myself questions about each and every situation.

What kind of person is in front of me? And what am I going to do with him or her?

In this post, I’ll outline my process of helping people achieve their health and performance goals. We’ll discuss:

    • The 4 areas where we can start creating change
    • My main area of focus: physical activity
    • The 4 steps physical activity
    • Each step from my physical therapy view
    • Each step from my performance coach view
    • My progression for mobility
    • The 3 active mobility tests I use
    • Testing for arm motion with lower body tests
    • Runners who get pain after they run 5 miles
    • Patients who get back pain after they sit for 4 hours
    • Athletes who can’t play the whole game without pain
    • …and a bunch of other short examples to relate this system to your own clients

Please take this. It’s worked well for me. If you have suggestions, though, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

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What Should You Test? Evolution of the Assessment Process

Some great discussion this month. Great to see some new faces.

Members can download the notes to get the short version.

Here are the questions from this month’s Q&A:

  • Could you speak on hockey players? Specifically in terms of anterior hip impingement? [1:21]
  • What’s your initial thought process on treating someone who walk into the clinic with thoracic kyphosis who can’t touch their toes or reach overhead? [6:32]
  • What is the assessment process you use? What should you test? [15:38]
  • Why might giving a heel lift to people help them squatting? [28:20]
  • What’s your perspective on pronation and supination? Why might an athlete have a high arch instead of a flat foot even if they’re playing the same sport? [32:27]
  • If you have an athlete who is good at what they do, but their biomechanics don’t seem ideal, do you adjust them? [43:44]
  • If it’s a draft year for a high school senior, do you make the change? [52:30]
  • Can I duplicate the stresses an athlete has to face in a game without having them play their sport? [58:36]

The Biggest Flaws of Collegiate Athletes and Training for Soccer, Baseball, or Basketball

Get the notes from this Q&A session at the bottom of this post.

Boy this was a fun one. Here’s everything you’ll get in this action-packed hour of Q&A:

  • What is my assessment process when working with a client for the first time? [0:49]
  • What’s the biggest flaw of collegiate athletes? [4:13]
  • How am I assessing squat patterns? [7:09]
  • Am I using arms overhead in squat assessment? [8:17]
  • Is Bill doing all of my initial assessments, regardless of pain? [8:54]
  • If someone gets pain in season, do I try to fix it or do I send them to see Bill right away? [10:25]
  • If I get someone who’s been moving poorly, then fix them, how long will their change stay once they leave? How do I make this transfer over? [12:02]
  • What are my assessments? [15:19]
  • What are some of the biggest challenges in working in a large group setting (like with a team)? [16:29]
  • For movement prep (readiness), I like to use neurodevelopmental positions. How do I select those exercises? [22:21]
  • Do I progress warm ups throughout the block? [27:06]
  • What’s my approach to conditioning for soccer players? In-season? Out of season? [28:10]
  • How do I pair the conditioning and strength work together? [34:31]
  • Does recovery change based on what you train? [40:12]
  • How does the in-season programming work for my soccer team guys? [43:10]
  • What impact do you REALLY have with guys? [47:00]
  • What are my go-to exercises for posterior tilt of scap and recruitment of low trap for someone who presents with anteriorly tilted scapulae? [51:15]
  • How could I tweak an exercise for a left-handed pitcher? Will you only do exercises on one side? [54:03] Featuring a guest answer from the one and only Ty Terrell
  • Would you manipulate breathing to manipulate the flow of air? [1:01:40]
  • Some parting words [1:03:15]
Off-season Programming for a Pitcher

Off-Season Programming For Pitchers

It’s a terrific time of year to talk about programming for pitchers!

With off-season starting and fall ball being wrapped up around the end of October, it’s time to get after it. But what do you with these players?

In this video, we’ll discuss:

  • Why I love the baseball off-season
  • How to prioritize shoulder care
  • Your training model! What does your player need?
  • Then I’ll list out my model and ask some questions to get you thinking about what qualities you should train. Does your pitcher have enough force production? What about rate of force development?
  • What about conditioning and, more generally, energy systems development?
  • What about sagittal plane movement control? Frontal plane competency? Can your pitcher PUSH off? Or do they just FALL off the mound?

Basically, this post gives you specific examples on how to program for your pitchers. Feel free to steal all of this and use it right away.

Do you have a pitcher coming in today? I’d love to chat about this. Leave a comment below!

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Conditioning for Crossfit: Fight Fatigue with Physiology

Conditioning for Crossfit

Love it or hate it, Crossfit athletes’ work capacity and ability to meet the demands of various physical challenges is impressive.

With maximal intensity workouts and events lasting from 1 minute to 45 minutes, the proper conditioning is a must to train these athletes for success. If you can nail down the proper conditioning for the diverse challenges of Crossfit, you can dominate conditioning for every other client.

We first have to identify a Crossfit athlete’s potential mechanisms of fatigue. To do this, we are going to get DEEP into some exercise physiology. Once we’ve outlined the physiology of fatigue, we will go through how to take your clients’ endurance and resilience to the next level.

Put your seat belt on.

Be sure to check out these videos before diving into the physiology in this one!

Basic Bioenergetics: How does your body find the energy to exercise?

Muscle Structure and Function

The Cardiovascular System: An introduction for strength and conditioning coaches

Assessing Breathing During a Team Warm Up

This video is an excerpt from the September 2017 Q&A with Bill Hartman.

When you’re put in a team setting, one-on-one work becomes impossible.

How, then, do you get into the nitty gritty?

We use Patrick’s question to walk through anatomy and its relationship with movement and breathing.

THIS IS WHY WE LEARN ANATOMY.

And why I think anatomy is taught the wrong way.

If you think through scenarios, especially ones which you can remember in your head, it makes the anatomy tangible. You can picture it. You can work through it. You can mold it in your mind.

So when you go through my respiration videos, try to relate these things to exercises you’ve done or people you’ve worked with.

We don’t believe in anatomy for anatomy’s sake. It is a means to being a creative coach.

After you watch the video, read “Make It Stick” by Peter Brown. It’s the best training book I’ve ever read.

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Skills, Tasks, and Levels of Competence

This video is an excerpt from the September 2017 Q&A with Bill Hartman.

How do we skip levels of competence when working with a client or patient?

I would argue that during this “treatment”, you didn’t objectively improve anything. You simply taught them to spit out and output that you like better.

If you want to change a squat, put a kettlebell in front of them.

If you want to change it again, give them a heavier kettlebell.

See ~11:00 of Brandon’s video for more on this.

There’s a difference between a skill and a task.

  • Tasks have context.
  • Skills require a level of competence.
  • Task = shooting a free throw
  • Skill = repeatedly shooting free throws well

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What Would You Do With This Baseball Player?

This video is an excerpt from the September 2017 Q&A with Bill Hartman.

This patient of mine was particularly interesting.

He’s a baseball player I’ve been seeing for a while now.

He came in the other day with mobile hips (a.k.a. “full lower body variability”). He was able to bring air into different parts of his rib cage as I demanded it from him.

But he still couldn’t rotate his shoulders well.

We tried traditional protraction-based exercsises. Those didn’t work.

Then I gave him manual work on his thorax. That didn’t work.

Then I noticed something.

Watch the video to hear about what I saw and what I did to get his shoulder rotation back.

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The Different Types of Anterior Pelvic Tilt (And What They Mean to Your Squat)

This video is an excerpt from the September 2017 Q&A with Bill Hartman.

Some anterior pelvic tilts occur ABOVE the pelvis.

Some anterior pelvic tilts occur WITHIN the pelvis.

These two are different. The affect hip IR differently and you should treat them differently.

In this video, we had a good question about squatting depth and hip shape. I grabbed my trusty pelvis model (never leave home without it) to give you a visual.

We worked through the different types of pelvic tilt, how they affect the hip joint, and acetabular ante/retroversion.

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