I attended Sorinex Summer Strong for the fourth time this year. I have to say that it is an amazing event, with the most passionate people in the strength and conditioning, performance and tactical communities coming together to learn, lift and have a good time. At each event, I come away with not only new knowledge, but a desire to better myself.
9 Thoughts/ Lessons from Sorinex Summer Strong 9
- Cross-discipline education:
I was a minority at the event, as the majority of the attendees are either strength coaches, or in some way involved with athletics. I found great crossover into the rehabilitation world, from many of the presenters. In many cases, a strength coach will continue to work with an athlete who has pain or faulty movement patterns. I often see practitioners argue over scope of practice, and who should be working with a patient/ athlete. For example, if a patient has an injury, who should work with the athlete? (PT, athletic trainer, strength coach, chiropractor, massage therapist, etc). I find that when I listen to experts in other fields, it helps me to see things from a different perspective. This year, I saw several different views of human movement and the improvement of human movement. I would recommend any PT to step outside of your comfort zone and seek education in an area outside of the PT world.
- “Get in the Ring”:
I wish I could say that I dominated the field in the Summer Strong Combine. Needless to say, I did not win. Part of the enjoyment of Summer Strong, for me, was in the physical preparation for the combine. I looked at each event from the previous year, and attempted to create a program that would improve those areas. For example, I increased the amount of jumping, sprinting, and carrying in my program. For the repeat events, I was able to improve the deadlift by 20 pounds and improve the Versaclimber by 50 feet. The bench press event (measured using a Tendo unit) went down from the previous year. This gave me some insight into where I want to direct my training for next year’s combine. This thought was reiterated by Tex McQuilkin, of Power Athlete HQ, who I was able to talk with a short while at the event. I was reminded to ask myself, “what are you training for?”
I was also encouraged by the Teddy Roosevelt quote below:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt
- Be a lifelong Learner
The first speaker is someone that I have heard speak multiple times, and his material never gets old. Coach Mike Srock epitomizes the concept of a lifelong learner. He has coached for 30+ years, and his athletes’ success speaks volumes about his program and mindset. There is no doubt that he is one of the best high school strength coaches in the nation. The point I wanted to highlight is that I observed him writing in his notebook during every presenter over the weekend. He has created an amazing program at Byrnes High School, but he continues to learn, ask questions, and stay hungry for new ideas and applications.
- Most limits are self-imposed
“If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” Bruce Lee
From a physical therapist’s perspective, Team Some Assembly Required showed me that sometimes I don’t push people hard enough, and sometimes I don’t expect enough out of people. I am not happy with this mindset, and will be working on this over the next year.
- Assess and Correct
Cal Dietz provided such amazing insight from his experiences working with athletes. His understanding of training is beyond what I can comprehend. One parallel that I saw between his talk, and the physical therapy world, is that experts begin to recognize common syndromes (a group of symptoms that consistently occur together or a condition characterized by a set of associated symptoms). This further reiterates point number one: learning across disciplines can provide a fresh viewpoint, and new insight into movement. One area he discussed that was very insightful to me, was motor control concepts, as it relates to firing sequences of the glutes, hamstrings and quadratus lumborum. I often see patients who have facilitated quads and hip flexors, with relatively lower activity of the glutes. He showed a simple way to palpate the posterior chain muscles, to detect the muscle contraction sequence during a leg lift in a prone position. I took this back to the clinic and found it to be a useful “quick test.”
- Quality Movement Over Quantity of Movement
Chris Frankel discussed concepts related to correct form during exercise. He discussed the concept of “masses and spaces”, and the importance of keeping the relationship between these areas during movement. I see parallels to other systems, including Power Athlete’s focus on posture and position, and Gray Cook/ Mike Boyle concepts regarding the mobility/ stability continuum. I think a lot of very intelligent people are saying the same things. As Jeff Nichols discussed (paraphrased), we have replaced move better, with move more weight. A big focus of many of the talks was to create a training environment based on specific goals, with progression only occurring if movement standards are met.
- Just Breathe
Dana Santas was a very interesting speaker. As she stated, she was not the normal selection at this event. She shared a very personal story, and how she ended up as the “mobility maker” of professional sports. It was cool to not only hear her story, but also to see her hybrid approach to yoga. She did two breathing/ visualization exercises at the end of her talk. I was reminded that carving out time for breathing, meditation, and yoga can reap big dividends for health, and performance.
- Enjoy the Journey
Adam Nelson was the definition of passion. He discussed his journey to becoming an Olympic Gold Medalist, with an intensity that kept all on the edge of their seats. The main point I took from him is this: we can only control the process, never the outcome. By this, he means we can train hard and smart each day, but a victory is not necessarily guaranteed.
- Success is meaningless without your health and friends/family
For a hard-charging, goal crushing group, balance in life is often not a consideration. Ed Cosner is a legend in the strength world. His short talk showed the importance of honesty about health, and to not ignore the warning signs of a health problem. After his surgery, he had a new lease on life. He is now crushing strength goals again, with a focus on staying healthy.
Brandon Lillly once again spoke from the heart. He talked about a time in his life when chasing an elite total in powerlifting became the most important thing in his life. When he fell during a squat attempt, his goal was quickly taken away. As the realization dawned, he realized that he had alienated many of his closest family and friends with his singular focus on powerlifting. He is now helping people get strong, while repairing the relationships in his life.
Rudy Reyes and Christmas Abbott both spoke about overcoming addition in their lives. Alcohol and drugs can become a way to cope with problems from the past, and to escape reality. Both Rudy and Christmas overcame their addictions, and now coach and help people to become the best they can be.
It is difficult to describe or put into words the atmosphere and energy of Summer Strong. I was able to take lessons away from each speaker, and compete with great athletes. I was able to be in the presence of great men who have served our great country, legends in the strength game, an Olympic gold medalist, and master coaches. I want to thank Pops and Bert Sorin, and the whole crew from Sorinex, for putting together such an amazing event. I hope to continue to grow stronger.