What I Learned At SST – Part 2

Here is part two of the What I Learned At SST article – you can read part one here.

  1. GVT, GBC, and rest-pause. Taught well by Charles Poliquin, Larry passed along a few program pointers to me that made a world of difference in my body composition. German Volume Training, German Body Composition and rest-pause are a few of the methods that I was able to incorporate quickly. Basic GVT is 10 sets of 10 reps (or 10 sets of 8 or 6 reps with the same weight) super setted with antagonistic opposite movements. 10 sets of 10 is mentally draining because after 6 or 7 reps your mind is screaming “that’s about enough work for now”. GBC is lactate inducing workouts which are more metabolic and help to boost growth hormone – great for making you feel very sick. Rest pause is a 3 part set with 15 seconds of rest separating each of the 3 parts. The goal is to give your body enough recovery to allow for a few more reps. While not as mentally tough as 10 sets of 10, it is a fantastic method for boosting performance in the later sections of a climbing attack on the trail.
  2. How to dead-lift and squat. Probably the most important things I learned while at SST to be completely honest. My body grew once I started doing these movements consistently – not surprising given that they recruit more muscle than any other movements. There’s something special about driving from a deep squat to lock-out on rep 6 of what should have been a 5 rep set or pulling twice your body weight from the floor. These movements have given me a huge increase in strength for my standing attacks or climbing on the bike. Plus, it’s pretty sweet to actually know how to do them.
  3. Training should be cycled with the athlete increasing focus in one area of training while maintaining fitness in all other areas. Basically, if you train for strength from September to February spend some time maintaining your cardiovascular fitness and lactate tolerance.
  4. The enthusiasm of younger athletes is contagious. Most young people are not bitter and have not yet learned to be cynical towards the world. In fact, most of them haven’t realized that you can be anything but passionate towards the things you do. When you observe someone engage their work-out or their life with passion you cannot help yourself from adopting some of this passion. Any time my management role would start to get me down I would leave my desk and hit the floor to coach some of the athletes. Almost immediately my stress would be gone and I would be reminded why I took the job in the first place – because I want to see people achieve their potential. Without fail this would lift me up and allow me to focus on the important stuff.
  5. I am happier when I get evenings and the weekend off. I really do enjoy sleeping in, but it’s tough to get up and get your day going when you don’t have to start work until 11:30. I don’t sleep in until noon on weekend and seem to have accomplish more each day waking at 5:30 am vs. 10:30 am.
  6. Great people can make bad first impressions. Given that it was a great place to work, a lot of people applied to work there. I got to look at a lot of resumes and interview a number of different people. The best hire I made was Sean and, for one reason or another, his resume had spelling mistakes on it. I passed on it initially because it figured the spelling mistakes were an indication of how he would pay attention to detail. However, I ended up calling him, bringing him in for an interview and we hired him immediately. Sean turned out to be the best hire I made while I was there and he is a truly remarkable individual who pays special attention to needs of the athletes. How he is in real life is nothing like how I thought he would be, but given that his first impression was made with a resume with spelling mistakes I made the same call that most other people would. Looking back I’m really glad I didn’t hold onto this judgement too strongly.
  7. Hamstring and rotator cuff muscles are primarily fast twitch fibers and should be trained accordingly. For these muscles I rarely take the reps above 10 and usually keep the sets around 8 reps. My cycling pedal stroke changed when I learned that hamstrings are fast twitch. When I stand-up and ride, I try to use my quads, glutes and hip flexors to push and pull and I move between 60 and 80 RPMs. When I am sitting on the saddle the pedal rate is faster – around 75 – 100 –  and I focus on tightening my core to stabilize my hips. The end result is that I really feel the hamstrings working when the RPMs go above 80 and this takes some of the focus off of my quads. Since I didn’t train rotator cuff muscles before I started working at SST, learning that they are fast twitch didn’t have any practical impact on the way I trained them; I just started training them.

SST is a fantastic place to work and those who put in the time to learn while they are there DO learn a lot. It’s a tough job but the environment is conducive to self-improvement if you’re willing and able to invest in yourself. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to work with so many dedicated athletes and hard working strength coaches, and of course Larry, Laura, Jermane and Grant.