Yosef Johnson is the owner and president of Ultimate Athlete Concepts, a company he founded in Muskegon, Michigan in 2001 with the goal of bringing together the best scientists from a variety of fields and incorporating their knowledge into a comprehensive line of products which were previously unavailable to North American athletics coaches. In conjunction with Dr. Michael Yessis, Yosef is also a coach and trainer who works with a select group of athletes.

AC: Okay, before we talk about anything else, I understand you’ll be conducting a seminar soon? Can you give us some information on that before we address any other topics?

YJ: Sure. It’s in Grand Rapids, Michigan from January 23rd to the 25th. That’s the weekend before the Super Bowl. I tried to take a multidisciplinary approach with this seminar because I wanted it to be very comprehensive. I want to come at things from all different angles. Take single-limb vibration training for example, which is something that’s going to be addressed in detail. That’s a concept that hasn’t been explored at all in the United States. Issurin has found increases in force production of upwards of 30% with high level people, and that’s something people need to know about.

Here’s the lineup we’ve got so far:

Dr. Michael Kalinski: Dr. Kalinski was at the Kiev University with Anatoly Bondarchuk, and he’s one of the best people in the world in the areas of ergogenics, supplements, herbals and macronutrition. He’ll be talking about steroids and ergogenic topics that aren’t well known in the United States. He’ll also talk about macronutrient effects on the strength athlete.

Dr. Semyon Slobounov: Dr. Slobounov has done brilliant work in injury prevention, recovery, concussions, and brain injuries, and he’s also developed a software with an algorithm that creates a virtual reality for an athlete’s sport. This mimics it so the athlete can perfect their skill. He also uses this to prevent injuries by understanding their psychological aspects, because he says there’s a psychological connection for athletes who are chronically injured. This is groundbreaking work.

Dr. Anatoly Bondarchuk: Dr. Bondarchuk will talk about how to develop maximal strength, and some experiments he’s done that haven’t been published anywhere.

Dr. Vladimir Issurin: Dr. Issurin will be talking about the block periodization model as a practical means, identifying the future potential of young athletes, and vibration training.

James Smith: Will be talking about the model he used in 2007-08 to train his athletes at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Michael Yessis will be present to answer questions and address whatever topics come up, as well.

AC: Introduce yourself to the EliteFTS readership. How did you get started with all this?

YJ: I went to school for business and finance but left school my senior year because I was fascinated with the whole concept of athletic development. I started reading a lot of different books on the subject. Secrets of Soviet Sports Training was very meaningful to me, and it sparked my interest in the field. This was 1994, and I made contact with Dr. Michael Yessis after I read it. I remembered seeing him on TV prior to that with Todd Marinovich, and I remembered the results he’d gotten with Marinovich, so I thought there must be something to this guy.

I went out to see him, and we hit it off. I started off being an understudy to him, and about three or four years after that, I wanted to see what we could do on the practical side of things, and that’s where the idea of publishing some of these materials came about.

AC: Tell us about your company, Ultimate Athlete Concepts.

YJ: The focus of Ultimate Athlete Concepts is collecting material that would never otherwise see the English language or lectures that would never be conducted in the United States, and bringing them into the English language. A lot of people who are involved in coaching value this kind of material, but what’s actually out there is limited. It doesn’t keep reproducing. What’s out there has been out there for a while, and it was my intention to fill that gap in the market with new products.

Prior to EFS and Louie Simmons, there was a real black hole when it came to this stuff. There was no market for it. After Louie and Dave, plus with the advent of the internet, this stuff all of the sudden became cool again. I started asking people what they’d like to see. If they wanted to see something, what would it be?

Verkhoshansky approached me about publishing one of his books in English. I put the query out on the Supertraining forum, and I got enough responses back to make it worth my while. I had no idea what I was doing, and I did it all by the seat of my pants. This was about four years ago. After that, I put together a seminar, which didn’t go as well as it could have because Verkhoshansky couldn’t attend (he did his presentation over the phone), but I decided to give it another shot and we put out a book by Bondarchuk that went over very well.

Vladimir Issurin approached me, and I didn’t even know who he was, but now block training is really starting to spread. These things are really starting to develop now. A lot of people didn’t even know this stuff existed. There’s a group of people out there that has no regard for it at all, but there’s another group who thinks that the typical NSCA-developed stuff just isn’t doing the trick. People are frustrated with the status quo in the United States, and thanks to Elite and Louie, this group is growing.

AC: If someone wants to look into developing a body of knowledge with regard to this material, what’s the best place to start?

YJ: I’d start with Secrets of Russian Sports Training, to get a background of why you should be interested in this stuff in the first place. It’s a great tool, and it’s the best place to start. From there, it’s a good idea to check out some of the lecture material on DVD, and maybe to even attend a seminar.

AC: Do you deal with the authors on a regular basis? What do you think of them?

YJ: The material we’re putting out is the best. If you want to sit down and have a debate on whether Anatoly Bondarchuk is a great coach, you’re a moron. He’s the best. He’s unprecedented in his accomplishments. When you sit down and meet the guy in person, you realize that he’s genius. He’s brilliant. He’s a brilliant, brilliant guy who has a lot to teach people. This guy is a scientist. He’s a PhD and really thinks about what he’s doing.

The one guy in North America who’s smartest about all this stuff is Dr. Yessis. He started doing this back in the fifties, and he’s been over there a million times and he can translate everything. His parents are immigrants from Belarus. Dr. Yessis told me the one thing that’s so unique about the Russians is the way they develop their coaches. With the system that’s in place you have to be smart and you have to have a formal education, even if you want to coach kids, so every one of these guys is a scientist as well as a high level coach.

These are not best selling books. These are for guys who’ve read Supertraining and others and said, “These are great. Where can I find more of this sort of thing?” Coaches read these books and they want to know how they can apply what they’ve read. That’s the key, and that’s more along the lines of what I’m trying to put out. Some books say, “Here’s the science,” and others say, “Here’s what you actually do.” The stuff I’m trying to get out there answers these questions from a coaching perspective.

Block periodization is a newer concept to Americans. What they want to know is how to sequence it now. These are the questions that we need to answer. I try to stay as close to the coach’s mind as I can when I try to pick out material that I want to bring to light.

AC: You’ve trained athletes for a while. How has working with these coaches influenced the way you do things? How have your results been?

YJ: We do our training of athletes in conjunction with Dr. Yessis. How it started was I worked with a basketball player from Bradley University who wanted to play on the CBA level and got cut. He came to us, and I suggested to Dr. Yessis that we try out some of the ideas we’d been discussing on his training. So we did. He worked with us for six months, went back to the same CBA camp, and blew away all their tests. He’d gotten cut because he was too slow and not athletic enough, and when he went back, he made the team because he was the most athletic person there. He was faster than everyone on the comparative analysis. The beat writer for the team called me and said he’d never seen anything like it in his life, and he wanted to know what we did. We felt like we were onto something at that point.

We started working with high school kids and getting similar results. With a lot of my younger kids, they’re just weak. They don’t have any strength, and they don’t have any specific strength toward what they do, so I can spend a decent amount of time working on their technique in their sport. We work on the technique of performing the actions, and then we start developing exercises that mimic those motor patterns and pathways in combination with your general stuff like squats and bench pressing. We incorporate exercises that have high transference to their activity. That’s where Dr. Yessis comes in, because he’s a biomechanics guy. He’ll start looking at what they have to do in the sport, and we’ll develop exercises that mimic that as closely as we can.

I have a football kid at Grand Valley State who was unrecruited. He went out there and walked on, and they put him on the team. When I got him, a little over a year and a half ago, he was 149 pounds, a defensive back, and he ran a little over a 5.1 in the 40 – totally electronically timed, so it wasn’t like your combine 40 time. This is electronic from front to back. He also had like a 24” or a 25” vertical. Now he’s run a 4.76 40, with a 34” vertical, and he’s gained about thirty-five pounds. He bench pressed 185 one time when I got him, and now he can do 225 ten times at a bodyweight of 185 pounds.

That’s a good result in a year and a half, and it’s something I’m pleased with because we didn’t push him that hard. And we have loads of improvement that we’re going to be able to make over the course of the next two years. I had a Division I coach tell me they’d put him on their team right now based upon what he’s been doing. They tested him at the college squatting 315, and he did it 25 times, so pound for pound, he’s the strongest guy on their scout team. He’s a freshman, and he’s accelerated a lot faster than we thought he would. That’s all Dr. Yessis’ supervision, and we’ve had similar results with our high school kids.

I like the idea of taking a guy who’s 15 or 16 years old and building him into a high level guy by the time he’s in his early twenties. That’s kind of been my focus.

The Angry Coachis the head strength coach, and also a positional coach, for a successful high school football program. Nearly four dozen of his players have gone on to play college football, including several at the Division I and I-AA levels and two who’ve played professionally in the NFL. The Angry Coach has also worked with athletes at the college and professional levels in a variety of disciplines, including football, basketball, lacrosse and mixed martial arts (MMA). For professional reasons, the Angry Coach will not be using his real identity.