One of the best parts about helping the media team at elitefts was that I spent some of my days meeting, talking to, and learning from some of the world's best athletes, coaches, and meatheads. Most of these guests can be seen on social media and YouTube, showcasing their skills, knowledge, and acumen in their particular fields for the fans and supporters of elitefts to enjoy.
I was lucky enough to be able to interview guests on Dave Tate's Table Talk podcast. I was given an even greater amount of time diving deep into their experiences, stories, and what truly shaped and brought them to where they are either in their field, sport, or endeavor.
But the most powerful and life-changing experiences that I had during my time at elitefts came when the cameras and microphones were off. Somewhere I could truly connect with people over a drink, a meal, and a shared love for training and lifting.
One of those times was at the 2022 Arnold Classic.
When I Met Ed Coan for the First Time
I was supporting my girlfriend Sarah at her first Arnold as she competed in the XPC (which she kicked ass, by the way), and it was towards the end of the day. We were both exhausted.
As we were cleaning up, my phone buzzed, and I got a text message from Phil Stevens of the Strength Guild. It said, "Me, Wendler, and Ed are going to go eat some wings across the street if you want to come."
Umm…does a bear shit in the woods?
We grabbed our stuff and headed over.
As we were walking in, I found the table they were at, took a seat, ordered a Jameson and some wings, and sat down, thinking about how badly I was fanboying over this situation.
This was shortly after doing the 100th podcast episode and celebrating one million podcast downloads with Dave and Wendler on the Table Talk, so Jim and I have already spent some time bullshitting.
A few minutes go by, and Ed Coan walks over. He comes right up to me and says, "Sam, how the hell are you?" He told me that he had seen the videos I made, and he was a fan. Da Fuck? The Goat is a fan of mine? Am I being punked right now?
I was taken aback because I was unsure how "The Greatest Powerlifter of All Time" would be in person. I have heard positive things about him from other people, but the thought is always in the back of your mind that your idols are different in person.
The rest of the evening consisted of delicious food, strong drinks, and amazing conversation. The contents of that conversation are something that will not leave that table or my mind for as long as I live, and I'm thankful for the chance to be part of it.
In Between Sets
Flash forward several months; I have since left elitefts for other opportunities and wanted to continue having amazing conversations with people in a format that allowed other people to learn and share those experiences. I knew I needed to start with a bang, and I wanted my first guest on the In Between Sets podcast to be Ed "The Goat" Coan to be able to share his knowledge, experiences, and lessons that have helped him become the best in the world to help you become the best version of yourself as you can.
The Top 3 Lessons I Learned From Ed Coan
I wanted to share with you the top three lessons that I learned through my time with Ed, along with the podcast.
My goal with this show is to give the listeners a chance to sit alongside a real conversation like you would have between sets as training partners. It's where the best information is shared and the most enjoyable conversations reside.
Lesson 1: Keep it simple and consistent.
Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple. -Albert Einstein
Keep it simple and consistent is the mantra that I believe Ed has been able to embody as a powerlifter and coach. His ability to break down complex situations into simple means that are repeatable is at the heart of his success.
His training programs were linear in nature. He stuck with the same structure and exercises, and executed them consistently week in and week out for years. His attention to HOW he completed each training session led him to gain the information and direction he needed to continue to progress with his training for years and years. He became the best and remained at the top for a while.
One of the best parts of my conversation with Ed came from learning how he was consistent in the gym and eliminated extraneous variables outside the gym that would negatively impact his ability to train at the level necessary. It's not because he is some sort of control freak who needs all the details lined up to succeed. Instead, he loves the process and genuinely loves to train. Ed even mentions and shares my sentiment that he loves to train and get stronger more than he loves competing. Ed fell in love with the process and had fun training, eating a certain way, and avoiding the things that would get in the way.
Lesson 2: Find what works for you and build it up.
The second lesson I learned from Ed was that you need to take all the information, knowledge, and advice you hear and filter it to figure out what works for YOU. This lesson embodies the style of training, exercise selection, training volume, and execution of the movements used in the training session. Ed had mentioned a few times that he'd select exercises that felt good and could build up.
The whole idea around his training was that he keeps these simple movements in his training that work for him, milking them for all they're worth.
His goal was to get better at each and every exercise he chose because he knew they'd have a direct carryover to his competition lifts.
Just because you see what he did does not mean that it will work the same for you.
You need to find the movements that will positively impact your ability to compete in whatever you are competing in. Stick to what works until it stops working, then make the adjustments.
Too often, we see people progressing in all their lifts and then making an unnecessary shift in programming because they think they will get more from doing something completely different. Stick to what works, and if it's not broke, don't fix it.
Lesson 3: Always be willing to learn, drop your ego, and don't be an asshole.
As important as the first two lessons are, I have to say that this lesson is the most impactful for your continued success as a lifter, coach, and human being. Ed, to this day, is still willing to learn and grow every single day. He craves new information and perspective and is willing to sit there and absorb as much as anyone is willing to give.
This white belt mentality is not only important for learning and growing as an athlete or coach, but it is imperative to be a high-performing human being. Too often, people allow themselves to become victims of their ego, fear, and insecurities and cannot then grow and evolve. Ed even says that having a "fragile ego" is a limiting factor when it comes to becoming the best competitor you can be.
On top of always being a "beginner," Ed has always been able to help anyone looking for help. He will help critique form, help you with your training, and merely drop what he is doing to provide any support. Seemingly fewer and fewer people are adopting this approach.
If you're faced with an opportunity to help someone and choose not to, you truly are an asshole.
The concept of Live, Learn, and Pass on is not only a motto of elitefts but is the motto for some of the strongest athletes and impactful coaches in the world.
Drop the ego, learn something, and make sure you do what you can to support those around you. You may get better, stronger, and reach heights you never thought possible.
Sam Brown is developing the next generation of coaches and athletes as the owner of Practice Movement and Recovery LLC. He consults clients to get out of pain and boost performance—one of the few McGill Method Practitioners in the United States. He’s a strongman and competes in the 198- to 200-pound weight class.