Change The Way You Think, Get Bear Chested – My Weekend w/Todd Bumgardener
Continuing education is absolutely critical in the field of health and fitness, strength and performance, or whatever else you’d like to call it. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on continuing my education. I’ve also been to a ton of seminars over the length of my career.
I know a great seminar when I see one. I feel it should change the way you think – make you question the way you’re doing things – your approach and perhaps even the reasons as to why you do what you do. And most certainly it should light a fire under your ass.
This weekend I attended a seminar taught by Todd Bumgardener and it was just that. It was absolutely worth my weekend and then some.
I signed up for Todd’s seminar on a whim. Some friends and colleagues of mine spoke highly of Todd. I’ve been trying to save money since my wife and I moved to Chicago but considering this was local I thought, “OK sure, why not?”
Beyond The Barbell is the title of Todd’s presentation. So naturally I expected the following:
- Better my knowledge and technique on the big 3
- Deadlift – Squat – and Bench Press
- Learn a thing or two unrelated to the topic of barbells
- I always go into seminars with an open mind and often come away with an “ah-ha” moment totally unrelated to the main topic.
- Meet some more local Chicago fitness professionals/network
However, what I got from it was just what I need at this point in my career.
Understand that prior to Todd’s seminar I had followed plenty a powerlifting program and coached a lot of my clients using the barbell. The last 2 years of my stay in LA I got very into PRI. 3-4 months before I moved I was introduced to FRC. Then I packed up, hit the road, and was left on my own to piece together all my scattered – yet very useful – pieces of information.
I came away from this weekend with a very, very clear picture of how to extrapolate from my current knowledge, while at the same time changing the way I think about everything in the process.
I’m not going to cover everything Todd shared this weekend as A. it would take far too long and B. that wouldn’t be fair to Todd. Instead I highly recommend you penny up and go to his seminar when you can.
The weekend covered literally every aspect of coaching – well “beyond the barbell” as Todd shares. In fact he’s quick to state, and prove, that for most clients you’ll never need a barbell. A statement I’d strongly agree with. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s a ton of fun to train with one!
Everything from programming sets, reps, and various loading strategies – these are the ones specifically covered:
Including how he prefers to load for power, strength, and accessory work.
This may get over-looked for a lot of the attendees only because this was the first subject Todd covered before thoroughly entertaining us with FRC, barbell lifts, and how to use both to become an overall badass – more on that in a minute.
Managing client personalities is something I feel I do really well. I think a good trainer needs to have that ability. Todd had a great point on how one might change the way he/she coaches clients – ask a ton of questions.
Not just “what’s your goal?” or “do you have any injuries?” but instead asking them what they liked about the set they just did, or what they didn’t like about it.
I’m a huge fan of creating an environment that allows the client to coach him/herself – without them even knowing it. Strategically pairing exercises that help one another is one way I currently do this. For example using positional breathing to create more apical expansion between sets of overhead movements. The client just does it and feels better – more often than not. Posing this sort of a question gives the client some autonomy and more competence over the lift. Which also means they’ll own the movement quicker – plus you won’t come off as a jackhole.
As expected you’ll get a ton of great coaching cues. Todd has mantras for every lift. For example TRD for deadlift stands for Tall/Tight, Reach, Drive – as the sequence one should think about prior to and during the lift.
He also gives you progressions and lateralizations for each of the big 3 – more proof that you really don’t need the barbell to get your clients super strong.
I’ve mentioned before my growing love affair with FRC, I grew even fonder of it this weekend. I was beyond stoked that Todd is FRCms (certified in Function Range Conditioning). I had enough knowledge prior to this weekend to really just play around – I did some great things sometimes and others I completely swung and missed.
However the way Todd shares his take on mobility and how to incorporate it into your training environment completely brought everything together for me. It’s a paradigm shift, which is a bold statement to make but one that I whole-heartedly stand behind.
“Change the way you think, extrapolate from what you’ve learned”
This was a quote I stole from Todd over the weekend that has been ringing in my ears since.
His seminar will change the way you think, FRC will change the way you think, and you’ll have enough information from the weekend to extrapolate from and it will completely alter the way you coach moving forward – or it won’t.
I’m a firm believer that timing is everything – had I attended this seminar a couple years ago (I’m not even sure Todd was doing it then) perhaps it wouldn’t have resonated with me as much as it did. But the cool thing about Todd is he’s an extremely good educator. Much like he preaches – he connects with varying personalities easily, which makes learning from him even easier. Many attendees had never heard of FRC however I’m confident they left with enough knowledge to at least play around, incorporate it into their training program, and make an immediate impact with their clients.
It was what I thought it was
In a nutshell you’ll learn how to use CARs (controlled articular rotations) to find limitations or weakness within a joint motion – then how to intervene with PALs (progressive angular loading)/RALs (regressive angular loading) and PAILs (progressive angular isometric loading)/RAILs (regressive angular isometric laoding).
This itself, in my opinion makes it worth attending, however you really should just buck up and go to an FRC seminar – something I still need to do. I promise soon, very soon!
Competitive vs. non-competitive energy systems
While it’s cool to learn something new that will at the same time change the way you think, what’s the point if you don’t know how to implement it?
Competitive Energy System – think training deadlifts while performing hip CARs in between.
Non-Competitive Energy Systems – think training deadlifts while performing shoulder CARs in between.
For the record controlled articular rotations are tough – you’re not just making circles with your hips or shoulders. If you’re familiar with RKC or StrongFirst think of holding a hard-style plank while actively resisting your own movement as you rotate through a specific joint motion.
What’s the point?
The body needs joints to work as joints independently from one another in order for patterns to function optimally. Unlike traditional stretching – which just feels good and does nothing to change your tissue or effect the nervous system – CARs help to dissociate joints from other joints, thus helping improve mobility, give you more control, and create greater potential for strength development! Some examples of CARs would be:
- Segmented Cat/Camel
- Hips – Standing/Quadruped
How I immediately implemented it into my programming and you can too
After reading the above information you might be inclined to think, why would you ever want to exhaust the same energy system in between sets for fear of decreasing performance?
In certain circumstances I completely agree. If you or your client is proficient in a lift then I would be more inclined to go the non-competitive route and do something like this:
- Bench Press/Push-up – Ankles CARs
- Military Press – Hip CARs
- Deadlift – Shoulder CARs
- Squat – Scapular CARs
But if you’re working with a client that needs to gain competency of a movement then competing energy systems can and most certainly will help said client gain control and ownership of a movement.
- Deadlift – Hip CARs
- Military Press- Shoulder CARs
- Squat – Ankle CARs
- Bench Press/Push-up – Scapular CARs
Again, more awareness, more control, more tension, more strength.
What’s the goal?
Ok so I’ve talked enough about how great my weekend was, so perhaps I finish with this question to you:
Beyond strength, what’s the end goal?
We all have a goal to make our clients/athletes stronger, more powerful, more explosive, etc. So if that’s a given what’s the end goal?
In my opinion it’s this…
- Subconscious dysfunction to…
- Conscious dysfunction to…
- Conscious function to…
- Subconscious function
For some that may take years, maybe even a lifetime to achieve – if ever. Todd’s system comes as close to any that I’ve used before at achieving the above sequence very easily.
I was BEYOND excited that I was able to connect so many dots through the help of Todd this weekend and feel you’ll likely do the same if you chose to attend one of his seminars. The man’s smart, strong as f*** – at least he certainly looks like it, and is a super nice guy.
To wrap it up…
- Change the way you think
- Extrapolate from what you’ve learned
- And be STRONG – oh yeah, and get bear chested too!