In 2006, Dave traveled to New York to give a presentation at the Syracuse Strength Seminar at Syracuse University. Now 11 years later, we're revisiting the seminar for today's Blast from the Past. In his presentation, Dave discusses the four components that he says comprise the atmosphere of a weight room: coaching, equipment, training, and athletes. He then breaks down the biggest mistakes that he sees made in each of these four areas.


  1. It's about the athlete, not about the coach, the trainer, or anyone else involved in the program. You aren't supposed to stand in the spotlight. The best trainers in the world are the ones you hear nothing about because they do their work behind the scenes so that the athlete can be seen and succeed.
  2. What is your training philosophy? Do you have one? If you don't have a core philosophy on training, your program doesn't have a foundation. Your beliefs, background, and experience should create your philosophy.
  3. Know your indicators for success. How do you know if your athletes are getting better?
  4. The best coaches in the world train. Get experience under the bar and you'll not only learn more about the program but also gain the respect of your athletes.


  1. Your equipment must fit your philosophy. If you believe in kettlebells, you'd better have kettlebells. If you believe in the reverse hyper, you'd better have a reverse hyper. Otherwise, you need to change your training philosophy to fit what's available to you.
  2. All racks aren't the same. If you have taller athletes, you need a rack to accommodate their setup. You also need to be aware of the J Hooks and how deep they are.
  3. Are you using space optimally? If you are limited on space, have you chosen your equipment carefully or are their large pieces taking up unnecessary space?


  1. Athletes all need to have the repetition, dynamic, and max effort methods in their training. These will be waved differently than the three-week blocks that most lifters use. You can't wave the training as a whole; you have to wave the methods.
  2. Athletes will lean toward either more strength or more speed. Dynamic training will either build their weakness or improve their strength, but you need to know which tools to use. Chains and bands are simply tools to use.
  3. Training isn't supposed to be easy. If your athletes aren't training hard and their minds aren't right, they aren't going to get better. You aren't their friend; you're their coach.


  1. Athletes don't always know how to communicate and it's your job to find a way to help them. You use a very small percentage of your total knowledge when training athletes; it is often communication that holds back progress, not knowledge.
  2. Nothing matters for your athletes if you don't believe in your program. You can't be uncertain about what you're doing and neither can the athletes. You need them to buy-in.

Dave finishes the seminar by talking about his journey into strength training and discussing the people who have had the largest impact on his life.

By the minute:

  • (0:30) The components that make up the atmosphere of the gym
  • (1:25) The athlete is who matters, not the coach
  • (4:05) What is your training philosophy?
  • (7:55) What are your indicators of success?
  • (14:53) The best coaches also train themselves
  • (20:10) Your equipment must fit your philosophy
  • (22:00) Not all racks are created equal
  • (25:00) Are you making the most of your training space?
  • (27:00) Repetition, dynamic, and max effort training for athletes
  • (34:10) Strong athletes versus fast athletes
  • (38:04) Training isn't meant to be easy
  • (42:00) Everything is a communication problem
  • (50:12) Nothing matters if you don't believe in the program
  • (56:30) Don't forget the people who have changed your life
  • (1:01:05) Discovering strength training in the library
  • (1:06:55) Dave's closing remarks

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