Drum roll please…..Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for the myth, the man, the legend – Dave Tate!  I am going to give you readers an overview of the phenomenal presentation put on this past weekend by Dave at Total Performance Sports in Boston, MA.  For those of you who missed out, you desperately need to get your ass to one of his seminars – they’re worth every penny.  I am not going to beat a dead horse and write about the same stuff you can read about on EliteFTS.com like the “template”, etc.  Rather, I am going to outline the seminar from my perspective and talk about key points that YOU missed out on….

I wanted to hear Dave Tate speak so badly, I coughed up the money and flew to Boston all the way from Texas.  This was my opportunity to actually meet and hear present, the man whose website I pollute with questions and flood my internet browser with.  To me, all of the authors on elite are innovators and the education they provide is priceless.  Being a young strength and conditioning coach in my first job, attending Tate’s seminar would give me the opportunity to further my education and ask the gazillion questions I had stored up…

I’m not going to lie to you, I was a little nervous attending this presentation.  My initial thoughts were that this place was going to be flooded with massive power lifters with a squat that equals all three of my lifts.  I was going to be the little guy that didn’t know “shit” and people were going to make me feel stupid for asking questions – it was the exact opposite.  I walked in to CJ Murphy’s Total Performance Sports gym shaking.  Within 5minutes of seeing the people attending, I settled down.  There was a great mix of power lifters, trainers, strength coaches, and just ordinary people with a genuine interest.  Male, female, young, old, white, yellow, etc…CJ’s gym is the place I always dreamed about training in – dark, uncommercial, with an atmosphere that screams hardcore.  After everyone settled in, I noticed this large figure standing in the corner – bald head, goatee, and decked out in some legit Team Elitefts gear – Dave Tate himself.  Let the games begin….

The presentation started with some hardcore rock playing and the first slide showed a bunch of bricks with the title “Tearing Down the Wall” – the Breakthrough factor.  I got the chills.  The first thing Tate did was hold up a tiny 5lb plate.  He held it high and asked the audience, “What do you see?”  People shouted out answers but no one was close.  “Its not about plates, it’s about what it represents.  It represents a sacrifice, a sacrifice for 5lbs.  Torn pecs, hours in the gym, excuses to girlfriends, and discipline” Tate said.  And he was absolutely right – how far would YOU go just for five pounds?

With Ozzy’s Twisted Lies playing in the background now and a picture of Yoda himself on the slide, Dave began talking about gurus.  This was a very important concept that we should all consider.  Gurus, in Tate’s words, are full of shit.  These are the guys who write article upon article, research after research, and come up with some stupid new “term” or exercise.  Standing on a physioball while doing dumbbell snatches will greatly increase your core strength and at the same time increase your rate of force production – bullshit.  These gurus are the guys trying to make a quick buck selling the new “craze” in strength training.  The “yodas” are the guys who can lift weight with their mind.  They don’t actually train but they are the first person to tell you how to get stronger, faster, and more powerful by doing things they themselves haven’t even done.  The whole point of this topic was for the listener to learn to “weed” out information, don’t believe everything you read or hear, and do the exercises yourself – don’t prescribe something to someone if you have never even done it before!!

Tate spent a good amount of time discussing the aim, objective, and indicators for athletes and coaches.  After a very informative lecture, he then asked “so, have we talked about training yet?”  Many people in attendance answered “no”.  But in truth, we had.  These three things, aim, objective, and indicators, are the biggest mistake novice athletes and coaches make.  They are quick to design a workout but overlook things like the history of the athlete, lifestyle, purpose and program guidelines like necessity, appropriateness, and effectiveness.  A key point that was presented at this time was called the “Golden Rule”.  This rule stated that 20% of your training will yield 80% of the results.  Basically, find your weaknesses, expose them, train the hell out of them, and they will produce the most significant result.

From there, Dave went into talking about conjugate sequencing, different types of waves, and maximal, dynamic, and repetition methods.  I am not going to go into specifics about this; rather I’ll discuss some key points.

Do max effort work off of feel

Use periodization as a guideline.  “Shit to suck to good to great”.  Everyone should use some standard for achievement.  If you squat 300lbs, you’re shit.  You increase your max to 400lbs, you suck.  You get the point.

Technique, technique, technique

This is the most important variable.  If your technique sucks, then you are going to be very limited in the progress you can make.  Dave talked about a client that he had that could only squat 365lbs.  After working with him exclusively on his technique, the guy squatted nearly 500lbs in 6weeks.  Technique is key!  The best way to teach any person how to squat is on the box.

Programs suck

If you chart out your workouts weeks in advance, you’re limiting yourself.  What happens if you follow your program and it says you have to deadlift but you feel like shit?  Don’t do it!  What if you feel great on a certain day, ready to break a PR, but your program says to do 5sets of 5 reps?  You just missed a great opportunity because you don’t know when your body is going to feel as good as it did that day!

Audible Ready – the Breakthrough Factor

Just use a template, a guideline.  If you are audible ready, you are not going to know what exercises you are going to do that day until you actually get to the gym.  Listen to your body.  Dave told a story about how at Westside, they would actually sit around for a half hour and debate with each other on what exercises they would do that day.  Go by how you feel – not something etched in stone!

Believe in yourself.  There is no trying.  You either can or you can’t.  Tate asked an audience member to get up and “try” to pick up the chair.  The guy picked it up.  Dave said “no, I said try to pick it up”.  The kid picked it up again.  Dave, getting a little frustrated, said “try to pick it up!”  The point was you can’t try to do anything – you either can or you can’t.

Take pride in your workouts, don’t half ass it

If you lift like crap, you are going to be crap.

Lose yourself

An athlete must have different personalities.  You have one personality that’s strictly for the gym.  This is the crazy beast that must be locked up and confined for workouts.  You can’t let this personality out of the cage (real world) because you most definitely will end up in a cage…jail!  Some people just have two personalities, gym and life; I have six now that I stopped taking my medication.

The second day of the seminar was a hands on experience.  Tate taught us all how, not only do exercises, but how to teach them also.  This in itself was worth the price of admission.  What made it even better was he told you exactly the things that you needed to work on to improve your squat, bench, etc.  He finds your weaknesses, technique flaws, and shows you how to correct them.  This was another invaluable resource!  Dave Tate was actually showing you how to better your lifts!

The best part of this seminar was at the end of the last day when Dave began talking about “heroes”.  He discussed his life and the hardships he endured growing up.  Everyone has a different definition of a hero but Tates’ was something that opened my eyes.  He said “heroes are persons who step-up and help you out and shape your path”.  One of the major things that are wrong with our industry today is that people are selfish – no one wants to help the next person out.  They take their training secrets and information and hold it close to their chest.  While the industry suffers from misinformed coaches and trainers, these people just close their eyes and laugh.  Take for example the whole elitefts.com website.  This is a FREE resource dedicated to helping YOU out.  Some people utilize this resource, take it for granted, and then refuse to give back to the community.  Before this seminar, I was definitely guilty of this.  After listening to

Dave’s presentation on “heroes” I am reluctant to be this way now.  It really opened my eyes and I thank him for this.  He stated “contributions are everything.  The more you throw out, the more you get in return”.  This couldn’t be truer.  Tate made my attending this seminar possible through his generosity.  He truly wants to build a better “community” and keep trainers, coaches, and athletes more informed.  To Dave, I would like to say thank you.  Thank you for the website, your knowledge, your continued dedication to the sport, and of course, your generosity.

Jerold Gaitan

Strength & Conditioning Coach

Texas State University