Stuff You Wanna Know – September 21, 2016

Today is a pretty glorious day in south Florida. It’s about 85 degrees and wonderfully sunny, not too humid and jut a bit breezy. I got some work done this morning, got my own training out of the way and came home to happily much on some nutritious lunch while prepping to write this week’s Stuff You Wanna Know post. Then this happened:


Ugh. Seriously, just WHY?!?! WHY IS THERE ALWAYS ONE DISGUSTINGLY SQUISHY, MANKIE PIECE OF SPINACH RIGHT IN THE CENTER OF EVERY F*&KING BAG??? I swear, this is why I have trust issues. I’m all for healthy eating, but damn… I feel like I should have just stopped for pizza on the way home from the gym. Yuck.

Anyway, enough about my dashed dietary dreams of the day and on to the good stuff.

This week’s SYWK has a bit of mobility advice from legendary strength and conditioning coach (and amateur movie reviewer) Tony Gentilcore, a psychology piece about why we don’t do the things we know we should do from personal trainer and endurance athlete Shawn Gerber and some daily quick-fix tips on keeping your body in better athletic shape by Bret Contreras. Oh, and I promise there are also no more pictures of half-rotten food, so read on…


Tony’s article “The ‘Real’ vs.the ‘BS’ Hip Flexor Stretch is basically a “you’re probably doing this wrong” type of post. The article original appeared on Tony’s own blog earlier this year and he made this awesome demo video to go along with it. You should read the article too, but I know we all love visual learning so here’s the video that he did describing how to do it the right way:

Raise your hand if you’ve done this one wrong in the past. (Guess what? My hand is in the air too.)

Sports Psychology

I’m going to tell you a dirty little secret. Even though I work in strength and conditioning and also in fitness, I don’t always do the right thing when it comes to diet and training. I sometimes eat crappy food, drink a bit too much, don’t sleep enough and even train half-assed. Since I’m a pro in my field I can’t really use the “lack of knowledge” excuse as to

I’m not really a donut person, but give me gummy bears and my life feels complete.

why this happens. So what gives? How come we often choose to do something even when we know what the better choices are?  Chris Gerber examines this phenomenon in his article “Why We Know, But Don’t Do” published on

Fixing What Ails You (or doesn’t… yet)

We all like simple quick-fix stuff that makes us feel better, right? Of course we do. Although it can often feel daunting to try and implement a bunch of changes at once when it comes to training, practice, skating skills, etc., there are few things that you can actually

I couldn’t find a pic that I liked to go with this story so here’s a meercat, cuz meercats = awesome.

do throughout the day that will help keep your body in good working order so you’re more prepared to do the hard part of being an athlete. Strength and conditioning coach Bret Contreras discusses just a few techniques that will quite literally only take minutes out of your day in the article “Increase Athleticism in 6 Minutes” which first appeared on the T-Nation website late last year.





OMG we’re just a few hours away from team selection for our free #upyourgame fitness challenge! What are you waiting for?? Get the details and sign up today!




Stuff You Wanna Know – September 14, 2016

The past few weeks have been a hub of frenetic activity here at FitLAB  as I finalize the details for the #upyourgame Roller Derby Fitness Challenge , write some new off-season training programs for a some local skaters and watch all of the fantastic footage from the WFTDA Playoffs (in addition to the 9000 other things that go on in my business outside of derby.)

If you haven’t had the time to check out the action live, the archives are up from this past weekend in Columbia and include all except the 3rd place game and the wftda-tv-playoffsfinal. If you aren’t taking advantage of the opportunity to watch as much of this year’s playoff and championship footage as possible, you should be.

The WFTDA archives are great not only because they watch you get the lowdown on potential opponents and can help you understand the strategies and skillsets required to play at the very top level of derby, but also because they are a fun way to travel through the modern derby timeline of how changes in rule sets have morphed the game. To see what I’m talking about go back to the 2011-2012 season and watch some of Denver’s “slow derby” games. If you’re a new skater you’ll be scratching your head.

In the realm of college athletics another school year has just gotten underway and so there have been a lot of great articles by coaches aimed not just at cissiktheir players but at other coaches as well. One of my faves of the week is this fantastic piece by John Cissik, MS, CSCS on the importance of keeping perspective on the things that are truly important when it seems that there are a lot of improvements that need to be made simultaneously.

It’s got some really good strategies for implementing strength and conditioning program design in such a way that you are maximizing both performance AND efficiency. My only hang up about the article is sentence at the very end, and only because I think some people may misinterpret what he means when he mentions the inability to achieve “sports specificity in the weight room.” What I assume he means is that there is no specific transference between an exercise performed in a controlled, static environment like the gym versus the environment in which an athlete must perform (in other words, having a stronger squat won’t automatically make you better at hitting a tennis ball). However, that does not mean that an athlete’s program should not be designed specifically for his sport.

There was also this gem from Crossfit and Endurance sport coach, Pete Hitzeman published on the site about the most important element of any consistencyathlete’s training. I’ll give you a hint… it isn’t fitness and it isn’t skills practice either. Seriously, I don’t know if this guy is married but I could kiss him for this article, cuz I’m sharing it with my fitness clients as well as my athletes. Yeah, it’s that good. 

The last bit of Stuff I wanted to share with you this week is a little bit of hip mobility work. Hip mobility is crucially important for athletes because if your hips are tight you risk developing pain and/or injury in your lower back, knees and even ankles. Derby peeps who have trained with me in person can tell you all about the “hip flow” warm up exercises I hip-mobilitymake them do and what a pain it is when you can’t remember the sequencing order and end up falling over because your feet get tangled.

Physical therapist Andrew Millet put together this stellar piece on Dr. John Rusin’s blog a few weeks back, complete with video demonstrations of the exercises.

If you like learning cool new stuff like this for derby training, then you definitely don’t want to miss our free #upyourgame fitness challenge. There’s only a few days left to get in on it though, so make sure to get the details and sign up today!




Training Tip Tuesday

Barbell Kneeling Squat

Since I started up the rollerderbystrengthcoach blog, I’ve gotten a lot of emails about what sort of exercises skaters should be doing. It’s a great question, but one with a vast array of answers. What you SHOULD be doing depends on what your goals are, what your current physical condition is like, what your current performance metrics look like, where you are in your season, whether you have any injury or biomechanical/kinesthetic restrictions, etc… in other words, it’s a really difficult question to answer in a vacuum.

There are, however, some movements that can be incorporated into pretty much any players’ arsenal of off-skates exercises. One of my faves is the barbell kneeling squat.

I know it looks a bit silly, and if you’ve ever been in a gym where you’ve seen this done you probably associate it with bikini competitors rather than contact sport athletes, but trust me, this is a good one.

Hip extension is, by and large, the most important movement in any sport that requires an athlete to move their entire body or generate power. There are 4 primary muscles involved in hip extension but the largest and most powerful is the gluteus maximus (aka, the glutes). Yep, your butt muscles are the ones we’re targeting here.

Kneeling squats work great for skating refs, too. 

You may be thinking, “but don’t regular squats and lunges work your butt?” If you are then you’re partially right, but the truth is regular squats and lunges produce far less activity in the muscle fibers that make up the glutes than this exercise does, regardless of the type or depth of the squat or lunge. In fact, the only category of exercise that elicits MORE peak butt-muscle-fiber activity are those that allow for hip hyperextension, like hip thrusts and glute bridges.

Now you’re probably thinking, “why don’t we just do hip thrusts and glute bridges then?” Well, we do. Lots of them. We do squats of all different varieties as well. But here’s the snazzy thing about kneeling squats that makes them worthwhile… the position in a kneeling squat severely disadvantages your hamstrings and prevents them from taking over for your glutes, a problem that lots of people, particularly beginners, have when doing hyperextension-type exercises like hip thrusts. Plus, because you have to stabilize the bar by keeping your core tight and your thoracic spine stiff throughout the movement, you’re getting a hell of a lot of workout with just this one simple exercise.

It looks weird, but a few cheeky stares in the gym are worth the results, I promise. (See what I did there?) Anyway, it’s time to get your butt to the gym and give it a try.

  • special thanks to Kitten Not Submitten’ from Gold Coast Derby Grrls for being my demo victim… 🙂

If you like learning cool new exercises like this for derby training, then you definitely don’t want to miss our free #upyourgame fitness challenge. There’s only a few days left to get in on it though, so make sure to get the details and sign up today!





6 Week Roller Derby Fitness Challenge

You’ve dedicated hours of blood, sweat and tears to the game you love… now it’s time to PROVE your commitment and #upyourgame.

dreamstime_l_67127902Beginning September 26, 2016 20 pairs of skaters will have the chance to show they have the dedication it takes to get to the top.

Join the #upyourgame challenge and we’ll give you the tools to be a become a faster, stronger, better athlete, no matter what your current skill or experience level.

Challenge partners get:

  • a complete 6 week roller derby performance training program,

  • sports nutrition and recovery information,

  • access to our athletes-only online portal, and

  • roller derby specific workouts complete with video examples delivered right to your phone.

On top of all of that, all #upyourgame challenge partners are eligible to wincup-1010918_1280 a bunch of nifty prizes, including a grand prize of derby goodies worth
more than $250!

All for FREE. Yes… F R E E. As in, this costs you NO FUNDS.

It’s a sweet deal, but there are a few rules. First, since it’s always more fun to derby with a friend this challenge is only open to pairs of skaters. It doesn’t matter who your partner is, just that they have the same level of dedication to derby as you do.

Second, we only have enough spots for 20 pairs and we’re looking for people who are truly COMMITTED to becoming better athletes. That means you’ve gotta show us you really want to be the best.

Here’s what we’re looking for:

  1. Tell us about yourself… how long have you been skating, what position do you play and what’s the craziest or toughest thing you’ve ever done in the name of roller derby?

  2. Tell us about your challenge partner… is she your derby wife? Teammate? How long have you been playing together?

  3. Finally, tell us WHY the two of you will kick everyone else’s butt and win the grand prize.

Grab your partner and don’t wait! Challenge entries are dreamstime_l_62126256due by Wednesday, September 21st at 9pm and selected teams will be notified on Friday, September 23rd.

Prove your roller derby love. Answer the questions below and show us that you really want to #upyourgame!

Stuff You Want To Know – September 7, 2016

I get an absolutely OUTLANDISH amount of content from around the web deposited into my email inbox every week. I’m not complaining… after all, I’m a coach and it’s my job to stay on top of things throughout the strength and conditioning, fitness and sports psychology worlds. That being said, a whole bunch of it is crap that I can’t delete fast enough.

Occasionally, however, some real gems filter through the bullshit, and since I’m having to read it all anyway I’ve decided to save YOU some time and put some of those gems in one place each week. And so behold: the Stuff You Want To Know list is born…

This week’s Stuff includes:

  • a fucking brilliantly written article from The Apex about the WFTDA Montreal Playoffs,

  • an interesting editorial on coaching women by the coach of the USA Weightlifting National Championship Catalyst Athletics team, Greg Everett,

  • some thoughts on the basics of sport performance training by Crossfit coach, Justin Lind,

  • an instructional video on the RIGHT way to stretch your hip flexors (most people get this one wrong) by Dr. John Rusin,

  • and some cool roller derby app downloads for NSO’s.

Great Stuff, right?

Read on…


Got some Stuff that you think I should include in the list? Give me some info and I’ll peruse your Stuff asap.