I was lucky enough to attend Summer Strong for the fourth year in a row, this year. Each year, I am blown away by the atmosphere, speakers, and caliber of people that I get to interact with. And…each year it somehow gets better. This year was no different. It was really cool to be able to have the whole event at the new Sorinex facility. The amount of work that the Sorinex crew put in to make this event so special was evident in all the details, from the set up in the show room, to the large grills and stone eating area that they built, to the Sorinex welding crew cooking all of the meat and veggies for the weekend! Thanks for making this such a great event!
I took so much away from the event, from speakers, to the combine, to conversations with different coaches. I will try to pare down some takeaways to just 10 things, below, in no particular order.
- I rolled up on Friday morning for open gym. I ran into Scott Puckett, a friend who works in law enforcement. After catching up, he showed me several drills using maces and kettlebells. We discussed the importance of training all planes of motion, and the use of all kinds of lifts/drills/patterns, including maces and paddleboarding. This idea was further solidified when I heard Pat McNamara describe his training philosophy. He described skill/ strength in the transverse plane would “save your life, save someone else’s life, or kick someone’s ass.” They really gave me some ideas to make training fun again, with less focus on sets/reps and perfect programs, and more focus on graceful and powerful movement.
- Cal Dietz provided some great insight into daily training blocks to emphasize specific hormonal output. For example, if you are a power athlete (short bursts, CPK system, <10 seconds), you should utilize that time frame for all training parameters. This might look like the following: Alactic/ Anaerobic Day: 6 reps per set for resistance training exercises; 10 second Bike sprints with ~45 seconds rest; agility training: 12-15 sets of 5-10 second drills. Each day’s training should focus on a specific energy system, to optimize gains. Each pathway can be worked during the week, depending on the needs of the athlete.
- I had the privilege of hearing Alex Oliver speak this year. He was a SEAL for 21 years, and exemplified the ideals of leadership that he discussed. Thank you for your service, and for sharing your thoughts on leadership. Alex’s business partner at Virginia High Performance, Jeff Nichols, also spoke, and reminded coaches that training like Navy SEALs does not build teams, but is used to weed out people from a program. They are doing great things for combat veterans at VHP.
- I look forward to the Ultimate Athlete Combine every year. From my past experiences, I know I will probably finish in the bottom of the pack, but it is a great challenge. Many of the events are repeated each year, but I can be pretty sure that there will be tests of strength, power, change of direction, and strength-endurance. This helps me to plan a yearly cycle of training, to attempt to improve these areas. The areas I am going to focus on this year are jumping and throwing.
- I have been a big fan of Power Athlete HQ for several years. I started out in 2009 really enjoying Crossfit, and getting some results, as many people do. I then saw many people in the gym get injured, and realized I was spending a great deal of time trying to improve things I really didn’t care about (ring muscle ups, long met-cons, high rep weightlifting). I attended the Crossfit Football (now Crossfit Sports Specific Application) seminar at Muscle Driver USA, and the philosophy of training just made sense for what I enjoy. I enjoyed hanging out with Tex and Luke during the weekend, and getting to hear/ meet John Welbourn.
- To say that Crispy is a hero is an understatement. He proudly served his country, and sustained severe burns, which has required more than 100 surgeries, and the amputation of one of his legs. I thank him for his service to our great country. I had the opportunity to sit with him at lunch one day, and he talked about his goals and trips he is going to pursue. I think this also makes him a hero- he is living his life to the fullest- whether deadlifting 600 pounds, hunting all over the world, or sharing his story, he does it with such passion, sincerity and gratitude.
- One of the most unique moments was when Dave Spitz, of Cal Strength, was making his presentation. He is a great ambassador for the sport of weightlifting in the United States, and had one of his athletes, Wes Kitts, snatching during his presentation. Dave’s presentation made it clear that he wants an American atop the podium in weightlifting as soon as possible, and this passion was exemplified through Wes’s 380 pound (172kg) snatch, to the chant of U—S—A !
- Bret Contreras, aka “The Glute Guy” shared great insight on all of the most recent research regarding the glutes. Whether strength/ power related, aesthetics, or hypertrophy, he is the leading expert in exercise selection and training methods for the glutes. There was one point he made that really helped me to see glute exercises in a different light, for rehab and training purposes. He found that exercises in the frontal plane had more EMG activity at the upper gluteals. Exercises axial plane produced more EMG activity in the lower gluteals. Exercises in the Sagittal plane produced about equal EMG activity in the upper/ lower gluteals. He recommended that we train each plane of motion at the hip, with different rep ranges, to get the best results.
- Adam Nelson and Brandon Lilly both spoke from the heart. They are both high achievers in sport. They demonstrated work and passion over long time periods, to attain their goals. Brandon spoke on “guts.” He said that having guts is a choice, and the world can often beat the guts out of us, by convincing us there is a better way for us to live. He said that each person must make the decision to be great, not just participate. Adam Nelson described most people as staying in their lane, inside the guardrails. He discussed greatness as standing up on the guardrails, to get out of the regular flow of traffic, which does have an element of danger.
- Jud Logan shared his experiences as a legendary track and field coach, through his description of the General Physical Preparedness (GPP) program he took his athletes through. His ideas can be utilized for any athlete, as a fun and effective off-season program. He described the goals of GPP to be: 1. Increased the ability to do work 2. Strengthen the tendons/ligaments at lower intensities 3. Decrease body fat and increase lean body mass 4. Build teamwork and belief.
It is hard to put into words the atmosphere at Summer Strong. I feel like just being in the presence of all of the great athletes, coaches, and patriots, made me a better person, and helped me to believe I can be better, do more, and impact the world in a more positive manner. The quest for strength of body, mind and spirit is what the “Bosco Brotherhood” is all about (in my opinion).