Most of my athletes know that my background in fitness and wellness started years ago as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer. Through the years my methodology and training philosophy has evolved much as my own fitness has. I enjoy meeting other coaches, trainers, and professionals who challenge my philosophy – but I really enjoy when I meet someone who has put so much thought into what he or she does that I am compelled to give it a go.
Tom Seryak, owner of Seryak Strength and Conditioning (Seryakstrength.com), reached out to me through a mutual friend to meet up and chat about what type of strength training I personally do for my training as well as what I prescribe for my athletes. I obliged because as I mentioned above, I am a fool for networking, and hey it couldn’t hurt right, and hey again – I may even LEARN something. Imagine that.
Seryak Strength and Conditioning is located in Dublin right off of Avery road. I met Tom outside and as we walked in I said “this is cute”. I’m not sure he has ever heard anyone call his facility cute before. What I meant as a trainer, was that it was a comfortable size, straightforward, and looked like a place that I’d WANT to work out. Nothing frilly. Nothing extra. On the walls were a variety of workouts dry-erased. We sat down and got to talking.
Tom spent about 20 minutes explaining why he does what he does and who he works with. The basic premise I’ll share with you is this: triathletes for example have sport specific work (i.e. swim, bike, run) and non-sport specific work (i.e. strength training, pilates, yoga, core work, and any other activity that isn’t SBR). Makes sense right? The non-sport specific work is useful only when it 1) improves our performance 2) prevents injuries or 3) reduce muscle imabalance . Makes logical sense again. Now, #2 and #3 aren’t necessarily going to make you faster in your sport and #2 is debatable as far as quantitiative proof that strength training prevents injuries. So let’s look at #1 – Improve Performance…how? Well economy of movement is one. Tom’s approach to training endurance athletes is counter to what many coaches and experts have prescribed for a while now. Instead of high reps, low weight, Tom focuses on low reps x explosiveness or heavier weight (80-98% 1 rep max* rarely uses max lifts unless goals need them).
After our rap session he led me through a short workout or example of what he would do with an endurance athlete in the early stages of training. We started with some jump rope to get the body warmed up followed up with some dymanic stretching (inch worms, lunge/twist, straight leg kicks, knee pulls, etc). Knowing the importance of dynamic flexibility in cooperation with strength and sport specific training, I was already impressed. Tom then led me through his basic squat progression. I was impressed with the progression Tom uses. I’ve seen a number of trainers and coaches teach squats in a variety of ways and think that Tom’s was one of the cleanest and easiest ways to understand the squat movement. We superset the squat with an assisted chin up. After the main lifts were done we did some core/back exercises to finish up our brief workout.
Reading the above paragraph you’re probably thinking, ‘so what’s your point? he had you squat and do some pull ups, big deal’. Yeah. That was basically it. But what I took away from the conversation and meeting is that with some solid structure and carefully selected exercises, range of motion/mobility, functional strength, and eventually MOVEMENT ECONOMY (what makes us faster!!!) will improve. Tom has the same ideas I do about rest and recovery which was also really refreshing to hear.
So what Lauren? You have me lift anyways as part of my training program already? Are you saying what you prescribe doesn’t work now? I’m so confused!!! Calm down dear reader – it’s not as crazy as this sounds. Most of my athletes don’t have a ton of experience in weight lifting so the Anatomical Adaptation ->Muscular Endurance->Power progression is appropriate. The power phase is the closest to what Tom focuses on year round. I just give my athletes more time to GET there. Hopefully that makes sense. Without the guidance of a trainer at your finger tips each week the progression I prescribe is very similar physiologically.
If you’re looking for something to take your off season strength training program and giving it more focus, or personalized attention I suggest meeting with Tom. Look for an open house coming soon (I’ll post on the Base Tri Fitness blog and facebook page).