Complexity is the Enemy of Execution
The VH Health and Performance Model is a model in which we strive to help an athlete, individual, or coach reach a new level of understanding that exceeds far beyond a training program. Our model looks far outside the narrow lens of one mean, method, or ideology.
The VH Health and Performance Model has 4 pillars. It is based on science, experience, empirical data and most importantly, results. We want you to be able to take our principles, systems, and ideologies and implement them into your business.
At Varsity House Gym, we strive for the Gold Standard. The gold standard is about creating a culture, a set of principles, and systems that will separate you in the industry.
As a coach, trainer, or business owner you should be able to justify your knowledge with the amount of experience and results you have to show for.
Most importantly, we understand the world of sports Performance can be extremely complicated. Our goal with this piece is to help you step by step, spark curiosity, create a culture, develop principles, and implement systems that will help you attract more clients, get results, and seperate yourself in the crowded sports performance industry.
TABLE OF CONTENT
THE BIGGER PICTURE
Everyone loves the X’s and O’s. I’m guilty myself. I want to deep dive AFIR (Acetabular Femoral Internal Rotation) as it pertains to one’s gait cycle. I just got done with a 6 month neurology course for sports performance.
However, as I’ve gained more experience, I’ve realized that the infrastructure and foundation of my learning is much more important than “gathering” more information for the sake of it.
We live in a very progressive and ground-breaking time in the field of sports performance. Everybody wants to be the best strength and conditioning coach, physical preparation specialist, technological guru, and what have you.
They want to show they are pioneers in the industry by manifesting brand-new training methodologies through research, innovative exercises, technological advancements, and advanced programming strategies. There’s one problem, though. They lack training principles and systems within their business.
When I consult other coaches in our VH Education Community Group, before we get into the principles of training, I always take this global approach. I force you to look at the infrastructure of your training principles, your systems, and most importantly, your culture.
New multifaceted information in our field is prodigious. Yet, the best coaches in the world take complicated matters and simplify them so that everybody can understand, use, and help more people.
As coaches, it is our responsibility to provide our clients, athletes, and colleagues the best information.
In our gym, I believe we have revolutionized the way we train individuals by implementing the latest research, promoting individuality within a team setting, managing many personalities, and creating a culture that fosters athletes who are hungry, humble, and committed to excellence.
As coaches, we wear many masks. It is our responsibility to prepare our clients, not only physically, but mentally as well. We are put in unique positions that allow us to demand respect, honesty, and above all, trust.
So I challenge you, in your opinion – what makes a great coach?
From our experiences, it’s the ability to lead—to make things happen, maximize resources, and inspire. It’s the extraordinary quality that solves problems and helps the client come to a new level of understanding what is possible. It’s the skill and talent to influence and guide our clients to make real breakthroughs and create lasting change.
Great coaches have vision. They understand where their clients and athletes are psychologically and physically.
Coaching extends well beyond directing activity. A team of 15 athletes is a team of 15 individuals, each with a different upbringing, temperament, and external influences, all brought together for one common goal.
It’s impossible to be a great coach with effective programming without taking into account one’s belief systems, principles, and influence on the individuals you work with.
In order to effectively acquire new information and apply it you must develop and fine tune your systems in a step by step process so that you can discern new information, apply what is useful, and do away with what is unneeded.
When, you’re ready, grab a notebook, a pen, and be ready to participate.
INFORMATION vs. OVER-ANALYZATION
Education should be at the forefront of every coach’s career. Unfortunately, I can assure you, it will not be the separating factor.
There are plenty of individuals who are extremely “intelligent” but struggle to find clients because they lack the interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence to maintain long-term relationships.
Contrarily, there are individuals who are great “people persons” but struggle to find clients because they cannot separate themselves from others who are more intelligent.
This notion is the ultimate conundrum we face as coaches and business owners.
We chase CEU’s, attend several seminars and conferences each year to hoard “knowledge.”
We have pioneer leaders such as Brett B. who have pursued the latter.
Where is the line?
We all hoard knowledge, but we have trouble deciphering between what is useful and what is not.
This vessel must be built between bridges. The bridge between new information and with your currently held knowledge and beliefs in a specified context, is when that information truly becomes useful.
A bridge can’t be constructed unless there are two sides. On one side, you have new information coming in, waiting to be organized, and used. On the other side, you need to structure your current knowledge and experience into simple systems.
Actionable TAKEAWAY: What Are 3 Systems of Training that You Currently Have in Place?
Systems provide a foundational structure to be able to add or subtract from, when new information is presented. There is a vast world of fitness information, training modalities, and variables to consider when coaching. The complexity can be overwhelming and anxiety-provoking.
Some methods may hold more value in the eyes of others. However, the “right” training method is in the eye of the client.
Oftentimes we have too much training knowledge, imagine that.
We get blinded by the ability to deliver our message in a clear, conscious manner which lands appropriately on the ears of potential clients and individuals you’re going to work with.
Systems are models, principles, and processes that are a collection of what you deem to be important, believe are the best practices, and an organization method to direct your actions.
So, how can we filter what we want, need, and what is applicable?
A filtering framework will help you deepen your understanding, create consistency, build confidence and extract useful avenues of information while simultaneously avoiding the overwhelming realm of limitlessness information.
If you have basic structure within simple systems, you will be able to acquire various sources of content but consolidate the information into your specific context. The structure will remain to provide predictability value, but it allows you to attain new tools that will be necessary at different times.
The usefulness of a filtering framework comes from the ability to think of new information within your own context, systems, and problems when you are listening to a speaker or reading a book. New information can be extracted to improve your systems, solve your problems, or fill gaps in your understanding.
“Learning is a process of exploration, and learning is at the foundation of any transformation.”
– Todd Bumgardner
YOUR PRECONCEIVED BELIEF SYSTEMS
You’re sitting down to write out the new phase of your client, athlete, or team’s training program…
When you are determining what your athletes and their sport require, you are tapping into your belief system about what training is.
Everything that you put in your program is based on underlying training principles that you believe in.
A belief system is a set of principles or tenets which together form the basis of a religion, philosophy, or moral code.
In the context of this article, your strength and conditioning coaching belief system is formulated by your principles of sport training and exercise. These interconnected set of principles organize and create inherent qualities of mind and character in relation to behavior (as a coach).
Another definition for a belief system is a cognitive framework that helps to predict potential outcomes, thus assisting to better regulate our emotional disposition to an anomaly.
Therefore, your training belief system includes what you interpret as important in the weight room, the interventions you create for a desired outcome in training, and your emotional and behavioral response to training/a trainer that may be different from your own style.
What you view as important in the weight room are your underlying principles as a coach. You use these principles for your program analysis, design, and coaching.
How you feel towards something that deviates from what is normal, standard, or expected and how you respond to it, taps into your system of beliefs and underlying personality structure.
Any time you get into thoughts about, is this good or bad and how you respond to what is good or bad, you are tapping into your belief systems.
How do we transition between phases of training?
Is this good or bad program design?
Is this good or bad exercise selection?
Is this good or bad exercise technique?
FILTERING AND ACQUIRING NEW
Constructing and navigating is the process of directing action steps from where you currently are to where you want to be. The components of a successful trainer or mentor is often what you will use to judge where you want to be.
Discerning qualities from others, exploring different resources, and seeking answers, in a specific direction, will allow you to be the best version of yourself.
The key? Don’t embed yourself into one system and use jargon to create miscommunication.
After you have created your own framework based on the understanding of where you currently are, your recognition of your knowledge, beliefs, and experiences – you can now begin to dive deep into the nitty gritty details.
WHERE TO START
Take some time to reflect in the following:
- What do the overarching principles of my program look like?
- Where do these principles originate from?
- What does an annual, macro, micro training session look like?
- When you are preparing a session, what is your current thought process?
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
What physical qualities do you prioritize and why?
What does a 4, 6, or even 8 week block look like, why?
How do you account for injuries?
How do you account for non physical stress in individuals?
What does your current training template look like?
Why do you sequence exercises the way you do?
If you answered, “I’ve seen it this way or I’ve always done it like this” – there’s a gap in your ability to understand your belief systems and principles.
Moving forward you can deepen your understanding by adding and subtracting from your currently held rationale. Awareness of this gap in rationale will help you extract information from resources.
Knowing the ‘how’ is extremely important but through writing down ‘where you are,’ your continuing education will be more effective in expanding your reasoning for the ‘how’.
This will improve your ability to identify what you’re looking for, how to make changes, and communicate why it is important to you.
This will also allow you to have a model to add and subtract from as you learn new information. How you teach your principles may stay the same but your rationale may deepen.
Use information in new situations
Apply these systems deliberately. Most likely, you are already doing these things, however, I want you to draw and write them out, then test them.
For example, read your process for programming before you write a new clients program.
- Were your systems effective and efficient?
- Did your systems create confidence in your actions?
- What questions do you have from applying your process?
- Did you have any problems?
- What gaps in your process need to be filled?
Now you have questions. Now you have problems. Now you can seek answers. Now you can seek solutions. This will direct your learning and direction when filtering resources.
This is where the magic happens. You begin to draw connections between different sequences of learning. You begin to experience more ah-ha moments!
Your model is a system that is used as an example to follow or imitate. It should also include your processes for decision making (assessment-intervention-outcome), organizing, reflecting, critiquing, and adapting.Now you can support, critique, and produce new work moving forward
You now have a supporting structure to formulate questions, seek answers, acquire new information, consolidate the information into something useful, and lead you in a desired direction. Now, you can welcome new information by listening to speakers, attending seminars, and reading books to evolve and transform.
CREATING YOUR TRAINING PRINCIPLES AND
If you don’t know by now, our business is predicated on a multilayered VTO for each component of the business. What’s VTO? Your VTO is your Vision Traction Organizer.
The VTO is your personal GPS and compass. It will help you remove yourself from your personal preconceived biases and allow you to appropriately serve your ideal client(s).
Ultimately, your end goal should not be centered around becoming the smartest person in the room. Your end goal should be to use your knowledge to help as many people as possible and earn a living by serving others.
This VTO will help you decipher your knowledge, code your message, and create optimal delivery for your clients. We will get into the nitty gritty later.
Here’s how it works.
There are 4 Sections to the VTO for your training model.
Section 1: Core Values & Belief Systems
This will be the foundation from which everything will stem from as we discussed above. How can you build a sturdy house on a pile of sand? A very short lived approach. If your training ideology starts with “ We believe in the biomechanical model…” You’ve already lost.
What are YOUR beliefs? Think deep. What are characteristics that you possess or do you deem as important in individuals you associate yourself with.
List 3 belief systems that you will double down.
Belief System 1: _____________________
Belief System 2: _____________________
Belief System 3: _____________________
How do you facilitate and implement your belief systems into those who you work with?
You may believe your training principles will lead to the desired outcome, but now you need to create a belief system for your clients so they believe the same thing. You will need to consider how to make your beliefs about training, their beliefs.
This not only applies to their current training program, but also their overarching lens for how they perceive the culture that you create. Perception can be a powerful mediator in the success of your training program and business.
You must have things that are important to you and know that they will become important to your clients.
- What do you want them to value?
- How are you going to make your training beliefs resonate with your clients?
- What do you want them to say about you and your business?
- How do you want them to behave inside your four walls?
- How do you want them to use these principles when you are not with them or in their future exercise habits?
The overall goal is to provide them with a mode of being/ how you want them to behave when they experience an anomaly. This can be both when they are training without you or after they graduate. You want the athlete to have an understanding of what was important to you and make it important to them. How do I want athletes to think about training? The belief system you provide them will be how they think about exercise for the rest of their lives.
- Do they only associate exercise with sport?
- Did you teach them anything that they can maintain?
- Did they LEARN how to train and take care of themselves?
- Did they learn how to appreciate the process and the virtues of character that come with exercise?
- Can they apply what they learned to establishing responsibility for their own health and fitness?
Section 2: Core Focus & Training Principles
Consider this section the “pillars of your training model.” For example, saying you believe in first step acceleration is NOT a training principle. It’s a component of a training program. Your training principle instead would be speed development.
What principles of training hold true throughout all aspects of your programming?
Here’s a list that I came up with in thirty seconds:
- Muscular Strength
- Muscular Endurance
- Gait Mechanics
- Exercise Physiology
- Stress Management
- Massage Therapy
- Injury Prevention
- Explosive Strength
- Energy Systems
- Weight Room Design
- Building Relationships
- Team Building
This is not about block periodization, phase potentiation, or program design. This is bigger, much bigger.
Below, Consolidate your ideologies into three sentences.
For example, instead of saying “we believe in neurology and how the brain elicits optimal performance.”
You would say, “we believe in neuroperformance.”
That statement is indirectly direct. If a potential client or consumer wants to know more than you can elaborate. Remember, when you are selling your training services, your client could care less about the X’s and O’s. Speak their language.
Principle 1: ____________________
Principle 2: ____________________
Principle 3: ____________________
This is much harder than it appears. This activity will force you to do away with the unessential.
Section 4: Create Your Training Systems
In a profession where we crave knowledge, means and methods are in an over-abundance. Westside barbell, speed training, triphasic training, verkhoshansky, and others just to name a few are systems in their own right.
As we covered extensively earlier, you don’t have to fall into one singular thought of training. In fact, this would be of detriment to not only yourself but those you service.
When I think about creating a training system, I’m thinking about combining my beliefs, principles, and empirical experience I have gathered along the way.
All roads lead to Rome.
This begs the palpable question, how do you clearly articulate your thoughts into a well executed program?
In order to string a series of principles within a program you need to create a training model.
A model that ebbs and flows.
A model that has the long-term plan in mind.
We use a quote around Varsity House Gym, “Plan, Freestyle, Record.”
No two training days will ever be the same.
Your model is a system that is used as an example to follow or imitate. It should also include your processes for decision making (assessment-intervention-outcome), organizing, reflecting, critiquing, and adapting.
Now you can support, critique, and produce new work moving forward.
You now have a supporting structure to formulate questions, seek answers, acquire new information, consolidate the information into something useful, and lead you in a desired direction.
Now, you can welcome new information by listening to speakers, attending seminars, and reading books to evolve and transform.
This is uniquely personal. It is time intensive. If you try and fail, well, that is important for success.
Section 5: Simplifying and Selling Your Training Systems
Creating Your Training Statement
It always ceases to amaze me when coaches cannot present their training beliefs in 3 sentences or less. Those who know too much and too little are one in the same if they can’t appropriately articulate their thoughts in an easily digestible way for all to understand.
When push comes to shove, you must sell your “knowledge.” Who you are selling your knowledge to will be far less interested in the nomenclature of your services than they will be in what your services can do for them.
Below, I want you to use the two sections above to form what I call your training statement.
This training statement can be a paragraph consisting of 3-4 sentences as best.
Under these pretences, “You’re explaining to a father of a 16 year old child or explaining to a young sports performance coach what you do”
Write Your Training Statement Here:____________________
Now, review your training statement 1-2x more times.
What can you get rid of, what can you clean up, and does it apply to your ideal client?
Pitch a Client in 30 seconds:
Now, let’s narrow down this focus even more. You step into an elevator, you have 20-30 seconds. How can you help me?____________________
What is The VH Health and Performance
At Varsity House Gym, there are a lot of moving parts. From the outside looking in, at any given time throughout the day, you might see an NBA player preparing for the NBA draft, a 16 year old female training, or the CEO of a fortune 500 company working out.
All different walks of life, with different needs, and different goals. If you only abided by one singular method, mean, or ideology – you wouldn’t survive inside our four walls, that’s not an assumption, it’s a fact. You see, the beauty of being a world class performance coach is in your ability to apply your beliefs, principles, and systems to all walks of life. It’s your ability to instill your values and views on training to every single individual you work with.
No matter the individual, we are all people. People are humans first, athlete’s second. All humans have the single greatest training variable in the world, the brain.
What we’ve found at Varsity House Gym, “If You Want to Make a Change, It Starts with the Brain.” If you can unlock the brain, you give the body permission to achieve the impossible.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where we don’t understand the negative ramifications of neglecting the brain’s role in human development.
You see, you understand it from an external viewpoint. You most likely spend a disproportionate amount of time focusing on the external aspects of the brain’s role in training.
For example, the nervous system as it pertains to output, strength, speed, power, and performance. You understand how the brain affects performance and recovery.
However, when we peel back the layers more, we must understand the HOW and the WHY as to achieving the desired adaptations you’re looking for in regards to training and health.
If you don’t understand this principle, nothing you do will create a long-term change.
The magic of the model lies in its simplicity. Unbeknownst to you, you utilize the method.
“IT IS NOT THAT SOMETHING DIFFERENT IS SEEN, BUT THAT ONE SEES DIFFERENTLY.” – CARL JUNG
If you truly want to understand this principle, your journey starts and ends with STRESS.
I’m not talking about stress in the form of training. We are talking about how stress impacts human behavior, health, and performance.
At Varsity House Gym, we truly believe we have mastered the art of managing stress, creating a culture, building empathy, and most importantly, creating long term change.
Stress is the catalyst for human performance. Whether you’re an athlete or a high performing CEO, stress is the greatest power we possess as humans.
The most effective coaches are those that have the ability to connect with others, understand the importance of psychology, and value knowledge about human behavior. You cannot have physiology without psychology.
These can be important considerations for training and coaching, however humans are extremely complex and there is always a deeper level. When you interact with others, that deeper level may include understanding how stress can manifest itself in the body.
Our current behavior and our response to stress is created by past experiences. Our behavior is based upon prediction, in which we will revert back to the behavior from past emotional or physical stressors. As coaches, we need to acknowledge feelings, create body awareness, appreciate the impact of our clients’ past experiences related to their current behaviors (this includes creating a referral network), and changing our own behaviors to best interact with that client.
At Varsity House Gym, I’m biased of course, but I believe we have created one of the greatest cultures, support systems, learning environments, and most importantly communities in the world. We demand empathy, interpersonal relationships, and remove ALL stress for every single individual who walks in our doors.
If you want to attract clients, get the most out of the individuals you are working with, and create sustained effort over time – you need to look through a different lens.
As I alluded to before, it’s extremely hard to quantify your efforts towards improving an individual’s psychological performance.
How at Varsity House Gym do we quantify and identify our efforts? In the realm of private sector sports performance training there are only two ways.
Quantifiable Effort 1: Psychological
Sure your clients may be happy and like you, but the only way you can quantify this is by having the numbers to show for it.
- The average client lifecycle at VHG is a minimum ~ 3 years.
- Over 1,000 athletes train for more than 5+ years.
- The average client value is about $2,000 per year (NOT including private training).
- Our yearly attrition rate is less than 14%.
Quantifiable Effort 2: Physiological
We spend a disproportionate amount of time hanging our hats on the results of our performance numbers. Nonetheless, it still accounts for 50% of your efforts.
- EVERY athlete that steps foot in our doors improves by 8.4% in their speed, vertical jump, strength, and conditioning in 8 weeks NO MATTER THE LEVEL
- Over 11,000 numbers tested in 3 categories (strength, performance, energy system development have been tested.
- We’ve helped over 500 adults lose an average of 640 lbs of body fat every year.
- We’ve created a standard board for our adults that has over 20 different categories of quantifiable metrics.
The proof of our model lies in our numbers.
The Four Pillars of the VH Health and Performance Model
The VH Health and Performance Model consists of four pillars. These pillars are our principles. They are fluid and can be applied to any training method. Below is how we apply our training method to our clients.
Breaking Down Our Programming
Now that you’ve seen the pillars, it’s time to break down our programming. It’s important to note, these are basic outlines. The information presented below are simply guidelines.
Part 1 Needs Analysis
Any program or need starts with discovery. You must have a series of assessments to search, discover, and problem solve the route cause of the issue. We can have an individual perform all the three letter acronyms we want, but I believe it’s important to take a global approach in searching for the answers you’re looking for.
We mentioned before, performance training and health are mutually exclusive. Health may lead to increased performance, but not vice versa. With this notion, you can divide your assessment into two separate parts.
Be the best in their sport
Play the longest
Earn Collegiate scholarship
Within the context of an athlete’s focus, there will always be two separate components:
Availability is the best ability. Remove stress. Build empathy. Communicate. Provide comfort and sense of control. Create a support system. Aim to build as much resilience as possible.
Sacrifice long-term health for short term gain. Lift as much weight as possible. Play through injuries.
Part 2 Athlete/Human Characteristics
Part of your discovery process should be to collect information that not only pertains to preferences in the weight room but out of the weight room as well. You need to design your client’s world for success. How can you create success for your clients?
Part 3 Training Objectives & Action Plan
Based on the information you have collected, it’s time to create a plan. Below is a collected list of questions we ask ourselves when creating a plan of action.
– What should be done
– Compatibility of objectives
– How should we measure, assess, and evaluate?
– What can be controlled and what cannot?
– Identify your beliefs & training principles
– Utilize S.A.I.D based on desired outcomes
Part 4 The VH Health and Performance Model (Your principles & beliefs)
The model respects how the body was designed. It is no law. Below, is a checklist of principles we ensure with every individual we work with. We must:
– Respect the brain/remove stress
– Create optimal training environment
– Address imbalances
– Provide corrective feedback
– Account for gait & triplane competency
– Establish speed exposure/force output
– Improve work capacity bioenergetic/positional TUT)
– Add variability in training
– HAVE FUN!
Part 5: Understanding Annual, Macro, and Micro Training Cycles
This section pertains more to our athletes than it does our adult population. We operate as suggested:
A) Annual Cycle:
- Four – 13 Week Blocks (52 weeks in the year
- Pre-season, in-season, post-season, off-season
B) Macro Cycle:
- Weeks 1-2: Assess, Acclimate & On Board
- Week 3: Testing
- Week 4-6: Acceleration | Developmental
- Weeks 7-9: Upright Running| Intensification
- Weeks 10-11: Max Velocity | Realization
- Week 12 Testing
- Week 13 Pivot Week (Deload/Fun Training)
Phases of Training
Below are points of emphasis within each phase of training.
Weeks 4-6: Acceleration Accumulation
- Longer Ground Contact Time
- More Strength Based
- More Variation
- Less Specific
- Greater ROM
- More Unilateral Work
- More Overall ROM
- Weighted Jump Variations
- More unilateral Based Jumps
- Closed Chained Agility
- More Aerobic Capacity Work
Weeks 7-9: Power Intensification
- Shorter Ground Contact Time
- More output (speed based)
- Less Variation
- More Specific Exercise Selection
- Less ROM for lower body
- More Bilateral Work
- Less Unilateral Work
Weeks 10-11: Absolute Speed Realization
- Shortest Ground Contact Time
- More Speed, Higher Velocity Based
- Less Variations, Most Specific
- All Bi-Lateral Based Movements
- Least Amount of Volume
- Shortest ROM with Lower Body Movements
- Singles, Speed (Full ROM) for Upper Body
Part 6: Process for Exercise Selection, Creation, and Session Templates
Choosing exercises should serve a purpose. We category exercise selections into 3 categories. Although not new information, it’s important to understand context.
A. Exercise Taxonomy
– (12) patterns of movement
– Positions of the body – proximal stability – distal mobility
– Stance of exercise (bilateral, unilateral, ipsilateral)
– Planes of movement (sagittal, frontal, transverse)
B. Fitness Qualities
– Resistance load, velocity, tempo’s
– Accommodating resistance
– Times sets, durations, volume, reps, etc.
– Additional components of progress
– Proprioception, stability, and balance
– Manipulating training environment
– Changing reference points
Part 7 Training Templates
Lastly, a daily training template. You can plug in play with all the aforementioned variables based on the phase of training you’re in.
Block 1: Warm up (posture, pattern, power)
Block 2: Speed exposure (Phases of speed, layering gct)
Block 3: Supplemental power (in line with phases of speed)
Block 4: Strength (Main output = neural/Sensory/hypertrophy = supplemental)
Block 5: Work capacity (general, specific, and team competitions)