Photo circa Spring 2007

These 4 were taken from my training logs between July and August of 2013. Hope you could uses these in your situation.


As a strength & conditioning coach, one of your responsibilities is to motivate your athletes to perform at the high possible level day in and day out. Motivating an 18 year old to put forth their best effort on every set and every rep, regardless of the endless young adult drama that follows them everywhere.

There are two major obstacles that face strength & conditioning coaches. Limited time and immersing in all of your team's cultures. This is why DI coaches have a distinct advantage over DII, DIII, high school, and Private sector coaches. The 8 hour rule and the limited number of sports (coach to team ratio) helps with this.

It is important as a strength coach to understand the culture of every team you are working with. The differences in the sport coach demeanor, the nature of the sport, and the director of senior leadership can cause major disparities between teams.

In order to motivate teams I had limited time with, I tried to narrow down to 4 distinct fables: The Rock, The Ax, The Rats, & The Wheelbarrow

When visiting Chris Doyle at the University of Iowa back in the summer of 2002, two things stood out about the Hawkeyes' weight room. First the doors to the weight room were as high as the ceiling. Two big huge double doors separated the outside world from where the Iowa football team trained. The staff was top notch with Jame Dobson and one of the smartest coaches I know, Brian Dermody assisting Doyle. Training during my stay were several future NFL players like Bob Sanders, Dallas Clark, Robert Gallery, Ed Hinkel, Chad Greenway, Abdul Hodges, and a bunch others.

The second most impressive thing was a large rock with a Hawkeye engraved right outside of Coach Doyle's Office. That's when I first heard the story of "Break the Rock". I will paraphrase.

A long time ago, a man found himself trying to remover a large boulder from the middle of the road after a rock slide made it impassible. The large rock was much too heavy to move even with a rope and horses.

The only way the man thought to move the rock was to break it apart into smaller pieces with a large sledgehammer. Swing after swing, the man would strike the huge rock over and over again. Swinging with all of his might, the man struck the rock hundreds of times.... without a even a chunk falling off the boulder.

Frustrated and exhausted, the man set his hammer down and leaned against the rock. A man on horse back in the distance caught the man's eye as the stranger, dressed in black, rode toward him and the menacing boulder he leaned on.

The man's predicament was obvious to the stranger and he offered his assistance by empathetically taking the hammer from the defeated gentleman that had enough. The stranger got down from his horse, rolled up his sleeved while holding the hammer in under his elbow. He adjusted his hat, took the hammer and with one giant swing, cracked the giant boulder right down the middle and breaking it in half.

The stunned man looking in astonishment asked the stranger how he could have possibly broke the rock with one swing.

The stranger handed the hammer back, looked directly into his eyes and said.
"It wasn't the last swing that broke the rock, it was the hundreds of swings before it."

My Take
Everyday your athlete have a hammer in their hands. It is up to them how many swings they take each day. That extra rep, the extra hour of film, skipping that after-party, it all counts. No one knows how many swings it will take to get that PR, or win the conference, or earn a starting spot. There is no set number of swings you have to take to break through. You may not have a choice of what hammer you have of the size of the rock you need to break. The only thing you can control is how many times you swing that f**king hammer.
Part II of my Fables for Athlete motivation I used as a Coach. This one I get from Martin Rooney back in 2006 at the CSCCa Conference in Salt Lake City, UT. Again, I will paraphrase.

There was a lumberjack competition in the Northwest and competitors from all over the world came to complete. One of the competitions was an endurance test to see how many logs each competitors can split in a 12 hour period. Each competitors got one axe, a huge stack of wood and

As the competitors got ready to start, eagerly waiting to have a go at the enormous stack.

When the competition started, all of the lumberjacks were feverishly splitting logs. One man in particular held a blistering pace and maintained a comfortable lead.

About 50 minutes into the competition, the man with the strong lead stopped, grabbed his axe and walked into the woodshed wish served as a makeshift locker room.

The other competitors were a little surprised that he needed a break, but they continued to strike away and reduce that lead. Some even caught up to him.

Ten minutes later, the man returned and started splitting logs again, using the same pace and extending his lead once again.

Like clockwork, at 50 minutes pas the hour, he took his axe and returned to the woodshed. The other competitors were too concerned with catching up that they never even bothered to wonder why he went into the woodshed for 10 minutes of every hour.

The fascinating thing about this individual was not just the pace he kept but the fact that how much power he used and the ease that each log was splitting.

At the end of the competition, the man had won by a considerable margin. The one question that was on everyone's mind was:

What were you doing in the woodshed during that time?

Other competitors and spectators assumed he was taking some kind of PED, using some concentration techniques, getting a massage, something....

When asked what he did during that time, the lumberjack answered very calmly:

I was sharpening my axe.

Regardless of what sport you are coaching or what your athletes are doing, you have to keep your skills, sharp.

As a coach, you have to continue to learn and improve your craft and communication skills. Learning things outside of your comfort zone and teaching the basic skills correctly is imperative.

As an athlete, you must continually and consistently do the fundamental skills of your sport over and over again. The 10,000 hour rule is a guideline. That means if you practice a specific skill fro 3 hours a day for 10 years, you will get to the point where that skill becomes habit.

If you are in a sport that requires multiple skills for success, you now understand how much work it will take.

No matter how strong, how fast, how tough you are; the number 1 factor that determines success in your sport is the ability to play that sport.

If it is important to you, you will do it everyday.


I got this story from an article by Craig Weller called Combat Psychology and Sports Performance. Weller references "Stress Inoculation" from Dave Grossman's book, On Combat.

Basically, Stress Inoculation refers to prior success in a stressful situation ensures success in future situations.

The article refers to a study done with rats who were split into 3 groups.

The first group were taken out of their cages and placed in a pool of water. They swam for 60 hours before they drown.

The second group was taken out of their cage and held upside down over the water putting them under stress. Once they stopped kicking and "freaking out", they were placed in the water. They only lasted 20 minutes before they drown.

The third group was also taken out of their cages and held upside down over water. Once they stopped kicking and squirming, they were placed back in their cages. This process was repeated until the rats did not show any signs of stress, they were placed in the water. The rats swam for 60 hours before drowning. The same as the first group.

The lesson here is the rats who were acclimated to stress reacted the same as rats who had no stress at all.

How does this apply to coaching?
Putting your athletes in stressful situation in the weight room can help them adapt to stressful situations on the field or court.

Putting pressure on your athletes by forcing them to perform in unfamiliar, challenging, or competitive situations.

Max attempts, team competitions, record boards, and individual match-ups in the weight room can inoculate the athlete to deal with stress and the pressure of competitive athletics.

Make your athletes prove they are willing to put themselves in uncomfortable or pressure filled situations in front of their teammates. It will go a long way in a game.

If anyone ever needs some ideas to "hold your athletes upside over the water"; contact me. I have a ton of ideas that may help with team competitions in the weight room.

This was the 4th and final "story that I would give to certain teams. This worked especially at the end of a training cycle and right before they started pre-season training or their first game.

This is another story I got from Elitefts Alum Martin Rooney from his book Train to Win. I won't be able to articulate it as well as he did and you may have heard this before.

A famous tightrope walker was going to attempt to walk across Niagra Falls. He had done feats like this many times before between buildings, but never a distance this great. He had a reputation of greatness and dedicated his life to his craft.

The tightrope walker using a pole crossed the width of the falls effortlessly. When he reached the other side, a huge crowd awaited him. Emphatic about his accomplishments the crowd gave praise to the expert skywalker. He didn't disappoint by attempting to return to the other side suing the same wire....only this time carrying a large wheelbarrow with about 175 pounds of bricks.

Playing to the crowd, he asked them all, "Do you think I can make across pushing this wheelbarrow?"

Without hesitation, the crowd enthusiastically said yes. Then approached a man who was as supportive as any and asked him, "You sir, do you believe I can make it across with this wheelbarrow?"

The man was taken back, but responded "Ah yeah, sure I think you can make it."

"I didn't ask you if you think I can make it across." retorted the highwire artist. "I asked if you believe I can make it across?"

Surprised with the clarification, the man said "Well, yes. I believe you can make it across."

The Tightrope Walker asked the man. "How much do you weigh?"

"Ah... About a buck-eighty. Why?"

With that, the tightrope walker grabbed the Wheelbarrow, dumped out all of the bricks, looked into the man's eyes and said...

Get In the Wheelbarrow!"

There is a big difference in thinking you can do something and believing you can do something. True belief is something that great athletes, great teams, and great coaches have. Believing in goals means committing to doing the necessary things it takes to get there. Confidence + Commitment.



Log Clean & Press

  • 210 x 3
  • 210 x 2
  • 210x1


SS Yoke Bar Squat

  • 330x2
  • 330x2

Fat Bar Bench Press

  • 305x2
  • 305x2
  • 305x2

* I am going Ape Shit with 25lb bumpers to feed my ego. #bumpergainz


Hybrid Grip High Pull

4 sets of 3 w/ 145

Fat Bar Overhead Press

  • 175x8
  • 175x6