World’s Strongest Teacher
On my journey as an athlete and strength coach, I’ve always made a point to spend time around inspirational people. Some folks are impressive for their athletic accomplishments. Others inspire me with their character or lifestyle. Only a few can do both. One local Phys. Ed. Teacher/athlete/coach does it all.
Dani Schwalbe is a world class strength athlete. She was a two sport athlete at Boise State University before moving onto the sport of Strongman, where she was able to earn her pro card by capturing her division’s 2015 title of Strongest Woman in The World. Schwalbe is also a pretty great coach. With a degree in physical education, she teaches high school PE, and has experience coaching at the high school and collegiate levels. I feel lucky to say that we’ve been good friends since 2011, and I’ve seen how passionate she is about her pupils. Dani is an even better person than she is a coach or athlete.
I wish I had Ms. Schwalbe for high school gym, too. Her classroom is filled with cool toys. She’s got axle bars, yokes, sleds, atlas stones, and more. She’s even got a DIY contraption outside that’s reminiscent of Conan the Barbarian churning his mill. She lets her students push and pull her truck for fun. It’s a pretty wild, fun atmosphere, and the kids respond. At this alternative school for kids with behavior and learning problems, Ms. Schwalbe is reaching even the kids others have given up on. She preaches that with hard work and self love everything is possible. Schwalbe is “that one teacher” who really makes a difference for a lot of kids.
The most important thing I learned from Dani is the power of conviction. Believing in whatever you’re doing, and having the right motivations, is a powerful tool in accomplishing any goal. In the never ending quest to find and perfect a recipe for winning, I have learned to only pursue the goals I believe in most.
I’ve always admired our country’s public servants. My father was a police officer, along with 7 total members of our family working Police, Fire, or EMS jobs. So, I grew up with some understanding of the sacrifices these men and women make. For the last few years, though, I got to experience that service on a different level with Middleton Fire Department. There, I served as a POC Reserve Firefighter/EMT, and for one summer I was even paid full-time. It was all an incredible experience, and I’m grateful for my time there, but eventually I had to rededicate my full time and effort to training and athletics.
I thought I could keep up with a fireman’s schedule and still be a world class strength coach. I was wrong. The life of a public servant is demanding, and I appreciate more than ever what these folks do for us. So, I’ll leave the life saving to those heroes and go back to what I do best. Though I’ve continued training in the gym, I’ve left this site dormant for almost 4 years while pursuing firefighting opportunities. I’m excited to get back to sharing to this blog again. So, here we go:
During my time in Middleton, I was able to help Engineer/Fitness Officer Seth Bergman with his department’s killer fitness program. We talked a lot about the importance of fitness conditioning in emergency situations, and a lot about proper lifting technique on scene. Many first responders have their careers cut short due to back injuries sustained while lifting improperly. Hopefully I was able to share some valuable knowledge with Seth, because I know I learned a lot from him. He took training seriously, and attended workshops on fitness for firefighting (in addition to the countless other training days all Firefighters log). I still use some of the stretches he taught us after one specific clinic.
Right now I’m developing a complete training program for first responders. It will include the most important exercises to keep firefighters, police, and paramedics from getting injured on the job. You’ll also get tons of exercises to push your performance to the next level when it matters most.
– Correct pelvic tilts to improve safe lifting technique
– Build core strength for heavier SAFE lifting abilities
– Reinforce healthy movement patterns
– Build endurance and conditioning
– Perform your best
– Get home safe.
Here’s one exercise specifically for firefighters. These Sled pulls will help you advance charged hose lines with more speed, power, and confidence!
I got to spend this weekend in Colorado with 6 of the world’s best strength coaches, specializing in training for combat sports. The knowledge and experience in that room was incredible!! These guys have written dozens of successful books and articles, plus coached champions in the UFC, Olympians, and some of the most famous fighters in the world. We got to talk about training and sports psychology, plus learn some new skills in hands-on training.
Over the next week or two, I’ll be sharing some of what I learned on my blog, so check it out!
Today, I want to touch on the theme of the weekend: LESS IS MORE. Whether we’re talking about fighting, or any other sport, strength and conditioning is just one piece of the puzzle. The main focus for any athlete has to be skills/sports specific practice. S&C work should complement those practices, not hinder them. If you’re so sore from lifting weights that you can’t perform in practice, you’re doing something wrong.
Modern, intelligent training should be carefully planned and organized to allow time for recovery. Then, during training sessions, injury prevention and rehab/prehab needs to be priority number one. If you’re not healthy, you can’t get any better!
In combat sports, that means lifting only about twice per week! A fighter expends tons of energy training to fight, so trying to squeeze in additional hours of S&C becomes counterproductive. Start listening to your body and learn when to back off. You’ll be better for it.
Remember as well that you shouldn’t feel exhausted after every training session! Some workouts are designed to train your nervous system, or to affect your body in some way that will not lead to that “smoked” feeling. Trust the process.
Today, I got a serious lesson in speed. I got to spend the day at Savannah State University with Abderaman Brahim; a 3 time track and field Olympian in the 100 meters and long jump. Brahim first came to America from the African nation of Chad at age 16 to pursue an international Olympic scholarship. He’s been burning up the track ever since, and after his competitive career was over he became one of the top track coaches in his area. He’s USATF certified and a member of the IFTA of America.
I asked Brahim to give me his best crash course on sprinting. We covered specific dynamic warm-ups, sprint mechanics, specialty training equipment, and talked a lot about his philosophies for speed development. The drills we went over will make you faster and more effective in any sport, and I’ll be featuring some demo. videos to go over specific techniques you can use to gain that extra step later this week. In the meantime, here are coach Brahim’s four pillars of speed development: Read More
So, I’ve finally decided that it’s time to be more consistent with my training journals. Up to this point, I’ve updated my training journal on the site when I get to train with a new coach, a new elite gym, or when I’m preparing for/competing in an event… but what happens for the rest of the year? Read More
Professional athlete and hunter Zach Owens has been our guest as we cover strength and conditioning for hunting. Today we hit the gym to film one of Zach’s unique conditioning circuits for hunting season prep. Read More
Hunting has been around for as long as life itself. Over the centuries, though, we’ve gained simpler and simpler access to food, without stalking our own wild game. With grocery stores and quickie marts lining our streets, some do still hunt for food; but the majority of hunters view the pastime as a sport or hobby. Read More
This week we’re in Boise Idaho, highlighting another elite gym. Hardcore Fitness Training Center is a fully equipped functional fitness facility. The team here is big on group training for functional strength and conditioning with a special focus on core strength. They also provide personal training for any goal, and Olympic Weightlifting classes; but the roots of this Hardcore gym are firmly planted in the world of MMA. Owner Brandon Shuey says that’s what sets his facility apart from the rest. “Even though we’re a true sports performance gym, you won’t find a bunch of arrogant meat heads here. We promote a traditional martial arts atmosphere of respect and humility. So everyone is welcome. It doesn’t matter if you want to be a professional mixed martial artist (we do have a full team of active fighters), train for a high school sport, or just drop some extra pounds before your high school reunion. We’re here to help.”
Contrary to popular belief, there’s a boxer in every one of us. Want to be a professional boxer? Keep reading. Want to use basic boxing drills for exercise, but you never want to set foot in the ring? Even if you never plan to fight, there’s something in this article that can add fun and variety to your current training program. Keep reading.
Some of you might remember an article that I posted this spring on Bryce Saddoris. Bryce was a two time All-American wrestler at the US Naval Academy, and won a Division One national championship there. He currently wrestles for the US Marine Corps and has been bumped up to #1 on the US Olympic ladder. This week, Saddoris is representing the US in the Greco-Roman World Championships in Uzbekistan.