My First Year as a Strength Coach

Well just under a year

So in just under a year since graduating I’ve worked at two different gyms, for one university team, and I started my own business. Pretty solid year. What have I learned from all that experience? I’m not totally sure where to start because it’s all muddled up in my head, but I will try and make sense of it.

The first and obvious thing is that I am now acutely aware of how unprepared I was coming out of university and how little I knew. If it hadn’t been for my own training, internships, and rugby coaching I would be far worse off than I am now. A kin degree is a great foundation, but without any opportunity to apply that knowledge most of what I learned in my undergrad is gone. Now that’s also my own fault because I am still trying to have a career as an athlete, which inherently makes being a coach difficult. I was aware of the basics, such as rep ranges and things of that nature, but I hadn’t created a periodization plan for an athlete for an entire year. Therefore I had to look up what macro and micro cycles are and I still get them confused. So yeah in terms of basic athlete planning and care, I have learned a huge amount. So my best advice is that if you’re going to school with the ultimate goal of becoming a strength coach,
supplement your learning with articles and blogs written by people that are on the front line in the industry.
The next thing I learned is that there is no set standard for what is actually right and wrong, or at least whether what is being presented is right or wrong. I know that there are some strength coaches that a far better than others and you can try to focus mainly on them, but even then you read or listen to something from them and at the end of the day isn’t it really just their opinion on how things should be done? What I’m trying to say is that different from becoming a lawyer where everyone learns and studies the same things to acquire the same standard of knowledge to eventually pass the bar, in S&C there are endless certifications and standards from many different organizations. There is no single exam/certification that says this person has at least this base of knowledge that all strength coaches have. What that means is every coach is taking what knowledge and experience they have and forming their training “philosophy” which is unique to them. In an industry like this you have to do your research and stick to what you know works through experience and not allow yourself to be blown around like a leaf in the wind by all the information you see out there. Be open to knowledge, but think critically!
As part of that, the internet and social media can be a fantastic gateway to knowledge and to observe what the top coaches are doing, but just be aware of all the other bad information and gimmicks that are also out there. If you stumble across something that is interesting, ask yourself, does it actually enhance performance, or does it just look cool? Is it a gimmick, or based on science? And finally, does it feel like they are trying too hard to reinvent the wheel? Because S&C doesn’t need to be reinvented; it can be improved upon like everything else, but the foundation will always remain the same. (In case you were wondering some of my favourite coaches are Zach Evenesh, Keir Whenham-Flatt, Ryan Horn, and Graeme Morris)
I have also learned that I am useless at social media and I hate the fact that I need to have a social media presence to be a successful coach. If I can put a picture up of me holding a cat and get almost triple the activity of a post I made about how I’m utilizing velocity based training, clearly I am highly disconnected from my audience because I think VBT is way cooler than a cat. Maybe not cuter than the cat, but cooler for sure.
What else is there, Oh I’ve learned that I (or anyone for that matter) will get a far better answer and learn much more by going to a more experienced coach for their answer rather than going to a textbook. Chances are if that coach has more experience than you, they probably read what you were about to read and can discuss their thoughts on the topic, as well as their own thoughts on how it may have changed when it was applied to training an athlete. So a 30 min convo will teach you way more than reading a textbook will. However, continuing education and reading is still vital to your growth and success as a coach.
Finally, I learned that programming for yourself is hard! After years of having a coach plan my training and to now have to do that for myself is exciting, but also really hard. Having people look at the programs and ask questions about them will really enhance what you program for yourself. I know in my first attempts I got stuck in the trap of over programming legs because I wanted to get stronger and recover from my surgery. It’s much easier to prescribe exercise for one of your athlete’s because you know what they need and you aren’t concerned if they don’t like those exercises, but when you do that for yourself it’s hard to separate that bias of not liking certain things. So it all comes back to asking for help and utilizing the knowledge and to not be afraid of what they will think. If they are a good coach they will be supportive and constructive and if they decide to rip you and your program apart, they might be a bit of an asshole and you probably should find some other coaches to surround yourself with.

Thanks for reading and if you have had some similar experiences as a coach or want to share something I didn’t touch upon, leave a comment on Facebook or send me an email. I’m always open to connecting and collaborating with other coaches.
Be Battle Ready

Sebastian Pearson

2017-04-12T16:54:57-04:00April 12th, 2017|

Sweat it out !! – Training while Sick

Training while Sick

Should you do it? What should you do? Is sweating it out a real thing?
So I’ve been on death’s door the last few days with a serious case of the sickness that shall not be named (whispers: Man Flu!) Now I believe that this is a culmination of a number of things, one being actually sick for a week or so but being in denial and working and training through it, and two all the personal stress that has be mounting in my life lately which included some massive changes like me having to move and find a new place to live. Now I am a firm believer that the condition of our bodies is a direct reflection of the events and stresses that are happening at that exact time. This latest bout of illness I believe was my bodies way of telling me that I needed to shut it down, rest and regather. These messages from our body manifest themselves in different ways and sometimes we listen and sometimes we don’t because let’s face it just because the body wants something doesn’t mean life will allow it. I kept saying to myself that I had to work, I had to train its only a few more weeks until my comeback I can’t afford any days off, and then on Saturday my body put its metaphorical foot down and dropped what felt like a literal tonne of bricks on my head and chest. So needless to say I’ve taken time off completely and I finally feel like I’m coming out of the fog. It does however raise an interesting question of should we be training at all if we feel sick? Are we just further depleting our bodies or does getting out there and getting some adrenaline and endorphins pumping actually help speed recovery?
According to the British Journal of Sport Medicine, physically fit and active people recover more quickly and have less severe symptoms than their sedentary counterparts, so if you’re exercising regularly you’re ahead of the curve already. Men’s Fitness online, wrote an article about training when sick and the medical professional they interviewed suggest that we follow the neck up rule when considering training while sick. The neck up rule is simple, if your symptoms only occur from the neck up you are probably ok to train but within a reduced capacity. Meaning if you’re already fatigued due to your illness there is no point in going out there and trying to do 100% of your work out. I personally concur with this idea, there are many times when I have just had a sore throat and mild congestion and I was able to train no problem in fact I feel/felt that training created relief from some of this symptoms. Conversely if you have symptoms like chest congestion or muscles aches and things “below the neck” then training is currently not for you my friend

Check out the article:
Another really good article which gets more into the science behind how our immunities work and how exercises and stress actually impact our immunities is here on Precision Nutrition.  In summary the article refers to training and risk of infection in J-shape Curve, meaning that at the beginning of the curve with minimal activity and moderate risk of infection, in the middle is moderate activity which results in little to no risk of infection and finally is high intensity active such a running a marathon which can affect your immune system for up to 72 hours!! So if we apply this to training while we are already sick being a couch potato, while not the greatest is actually far better than going to the gym and crushing and extended cardio or resistance training work out which will negatively affect immune function. However going to the gym and doing a short light jog or a shortened resistance program can actually help boost the function of the immune system, so the adage of sweat it out does have some validity, if its a moderate sweat that is.

Hopefully this helped answer some of your questions about training if you’re sick but at the end of the day the ultimate answer is do you feel like you can train? Ignore whatever your ego or agenda might be telling you to do and listen to your body because overdoing it can set you back even further so listen to your body. We are all individuals and if you feel like training when you’re sick then I say train but if you feel tired and crappy get in bed read a book and chill the eff out.
Seb Pearson

Be Battle Ready

2017-03-28T14:13:11-04:00March 28th, 2017|