2014 Midwest Performance Enhancement Seminar Recap

IMG_2509 copyThe 2014 Midwest Performance Enhancement Seminar is in the books, and it always feels kind of like a wedding:

You spend months (or years!) planning, and then the actual event goes by in a flash.

Regardless, it was an awesome weekend and I wanted to do a quick write-up on the entire event.

Here we go!


One of the best parts of these courses is having the IFAST family reunited.

Often, we get a dozen or more interns back for any course we put on, and this event was no different.

Unfortunately for our interns, we had ulterior motives: We were set to get new flooring installed over the weekend, so our goal was to get everything out of the “lifting” side of IFAST and moved to the “turf” side.

But here’s where things get cool – I got the kiddos into bed, and showed up at 8:20 (a few minutes after close).

And when I showed up? Damn near everything had already been moved!

Between Ty and our evening clients at IFAST, they had moved almost of the equipment to the other side, except for the big platforms and cable column machines.

I mean, how cool is that?

This is why I’m so appreciative and thankful for the people I’m surrounded with. Not only do we have a great crew of coaches here at IFAST, but our clients are second to none as well.

From there, it was time to go home and rest up for the weekend ahead!

Moved everything in our gym in lieu of new flooring

Friday – Rapid-Fire Speaking

Day 1 of the Midwest Performance Enhancement seminar is a round-robin event, where I bring in six or seven speakers to speak in a rapid-fire format.

When you only have 45-50 minutes to talk, you have to get to the good stuff, quickly.

I’ll briefly discuss each speaker below, as well as give a few thoughts on their topic and presentation.

Mike Robertson
Managing the In-Season Athlete

I led off on Day 1, and not because I have some massive ego or sense of entitlement.

The main reason I go first is so I can:

  1. MC the rest of the day, run the raffle, and do any of the other behind-the-scenes stuff that needs to get done, and
  2. Enjoy myself a bit and learn from the great speaker we have in!

My topic was on in-season training, and I did my best to cover our goals with the Indy 11 soccer team this past year.

Needless to say, it was quite a learning experience for me, and I have a much greater respect and perspective for what these athletes go through during the season.

I’ll save the details for now, as I plan on fleshing this out even more and using it as one of my presentations for the EADS 2.0 seminar here in March. Stay tuned….

Lee Taft
How to Build 3 Primary Speed Movements into Your Program

Every year we’ve had the MPES, I’ve brought in Lee Taft.

And I don’t just do it because he’s a local guy – I do it because he’s brilliant at what he does.

Lee did a great job of breaking down speed and agility movements, and then going even deeper and showing the progressions and regressions he uses with his athletes.

The thing that I love about Lee is that, as a coach, I can always see where he’s going with his thinking and thought process.

And the thing I hate? I always realize I need to spend more time learning from Lee Taft!

One of my goals after the seminar was to get down and spend some time watching Lee coach, and I fully intend to make that happen in the coming months.

Lastly, I think Lee does a wonderful job of helping athletes realize their true potential when it comes to speed and agility work. I think it’s easy to overcoach this stuff, but he does a great job of making it reactive and athlete-centered.

Bill Hartman
Understanding and Optimizing Movement in Performance

Like Lee, every year I’ve had the MPES, Bill Hartman has spoken.

In fact, the first year we ran this (2008), Bill and I just alternated the entire day. It was a lot of work, and the attendees got a ton out of it, but I like our new format better.

Regardless, Bill stepped up and crushed something along the lines of 78 slides in 50 or 60 minutes. And if you know how Bill speaks, this isn’t surprising in the least!

Looking back at his slides, I’m not sure I can even do Bill’s presentation justice in a few paragraphs. He really dug in and attempt to explain some key concepts in training, such as variability, predictability, specificity, and the role of the environment on the athlete.

I’ve heard rumblings that Bill is going to be doing something more expansive in the future, and I definitely hope that’s the case.

Chase Karnes
Secrets of the Super Strong

After lunch, Chase Karnes gave his talk on “Secrets of the Super Strong.”

The after lunch spot is always tough, as you have people who just ate themselves into a food coma, and energy is naturally a little bit on the low side.

Chase, however, had some really good points to make during his talk. One of the things that always resonates with me is that you have to stick to a program or a goal for an extended period of time.

Quite simply, you can’t bounce around from program-to-program and hope to get strong.

Another cool thing about Chase’s presentation is how he broke down a handful of popular programs and showed how they

Chase was a little nervous up front, but he’s a very knowledgable guy and really knows his stuff. I hope he continues to speak and grow as a lecturer, because his knowledge and in-the-trenches experience naturally give him a ton of credibility.

Wil Fleming
Athletic Power: Unlocking Explosive Performance for Athletes

After Chase, Wil  Fleming took the stage to talk about power work and power development.

Wil has really grown as a speaker over the years, and I love getting his insight into the world of power development.

I think the most poignant point of Wil’s talk was how they strive to work the spectrum of power development with their athletes.

It’s easy to get caught up in one area or focus (i.e. strength-speed, speed-strength, elastic strength, etc.) but especially with young and developing athletes it’s beneficial to cover all the various aspects of power development.

Grant “Rufus” Gardis
Long Term Athletic Development

Next up, we had my good friend and strength/Olympic lifting coach Grant “Rufus” Gardis.

Now Rufus is one of those guys you’ve just got to love. The guy seems to know everyone in the performance enhancement world, and I could listen to him tell stories for days on end.

Regardless, Rufus was the perfect guy to have in this time slot, as he really lightened the mood. He’s a naturally funny, old-school guy and made everyone laugh quite a bit.

Rufus’ talk covered the concept of long-term athletic development, and showed why it’s so important for our kids to be exposed to numerous skills, activities and sports growing up.

It pains me when I hear about kids who are “specializing” in a sport at age 6 or 7, but unfortunately, that’s becoming more and more prevalent over the years.

Rufus did an awesome job, and he’s definitely someone I’ll be bringing back in the future.

Joel Jamieson
Advanced Recovery and Regeneration Strategies

Last but not least, we had my good friend Joel Jamieson.

It’s always awesome to bring Joel out, not only because he’s wicked smart but because he always puts together a great talk as well.

Joel’s topic this year covered recovery and regeneration, something I feel we don’t spend nearly enough time addressing.

Too often, we spend hours upon hours talking about training, yet we don’t focus on recovery – which is one of the underlying factors as to how well we can train!

In this presentation, Joel covered everything from hydrotherapy, to massage, to supplementation. And the best part is, Joel is quick to say that while recovery is important, you have to have a reason for everything you do.

Much like training, you don’t throw the kitchen sink at your program. Instead, you choose something in particular and use it until it loses its effectiveness, and then you move on.

Over the course of the day, we got a bit behind so we didn’t wrap up until 6 pm. I had planned a social with free booze (AWESOME), but everyone was also starving (not awesome).

It worked out well, though, as everyone had a drink or two before we wrapped up for the day.

And yes, everyone got to eat after that!

Saturday – Mark McLaughlin

Saturday was reserved for one man only: Mark McLaughlin.

I do this because there are certain people where you really want to dive in and learn about their training philosophy, and you know one hour just isn’t going to be enough.

For instance, two years ago we brought in Dan John. Dan is someone I’d always wanted to learn from, so we brought him in to speak for an entire day.

Mark is much the same. I saw him speak a year and a half ago at the Sounders Sports Science seminar, and knew I needed to learn more from him.

Mark’s presentation was called Learning to Train ONE. Quite simply, we must learn to train one person really well before we attempt to leverage our times and resources by moving into semi-private and large group coaching.

Much like Bill, it’s hard to describe Mark’s presentation in a few lines, as he really covered his entire training process from assessment, to programming, to monitoring.

Here are a few random bullet points that may interest you:

  • Mark’s presentation had less lifting volume that I would’ve expected. However, the “volume” often came from alactic work, HICT, etc.
  • Like most performance coaches, Mark made a focus that training isn’t about the weight room, but rather about creating a complete athlete.
  • I think I need an OmegaWave. Quite simply it’s readings will tell you what quality(ies) are available to be trained on any given day, which takes the guesswork out of the training process.
  • While I’m still a huge proponent of the BioForce HRV software, the Pro Omegawave version for the end-user looks pretty cool as well.
  • Skill work must be done when optimally prepared. If you’re overly fatigued or not prepared for skill work, this will likely lead to a decrement in performance.
  • Last but not least, Mark talked about the role of sleep hygiene, and how they discuss this with all of their clients/athletes.

Mark did an awesome job, and I really feel like I have a better understanding of his training philosophy and system after his talk.

After the seminar, we went back to IFAST and started moving everything back into IFAST. It was crazy, because between IFAST staff, former interns, and random people from the course, we had 35 people helping and we moved an entire gym in around an hour.

So yes, our IFAST clients are awesome, but so are the course attendees as well. Many thanks to anyone and everyone who helped.

We concluded the course with a VIP Dinner. My goal was to get all of the presenters together, and if you were an attendee and wanted to hang out, you could pay $50 to attend.

And if you’re wondering, that cash didn’t just go in my pocket. We took the proceeds and I matched every donation so that we ended up donating $2,000 to the Humane Society of Hamilton County, which is kind of a big deal for me.

Growing up on a farm, I have a huge affinity for animals, and this group does some great work. They euthanize less than 4% of the animals they shelter, so it’s an awesome cause and I was excited we could donate so much money.

And with that being said, the seminar was wrapped! It was an awesome course, and I’m already planning our next two. If you’re interested, here are the dates:

  • Elite Athletic Development Seminar 2.0, March 27th and 28th
  • Midwest Performance Enhancement Seminar, November 6th and 7th

I will be getting the registration up for EADS 2.0 in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for that announcement.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!




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  1. Sounds like an outstanding event. Too bad I live in Germany.
    Mike, Can you please suggest a few books on anatomy, biomechanics and exercise
    technique for strength athletes? I would be very grateful for any and
    all suggestions. Thank you very much!

  2. Hey Mike, I wasn’t able to attend I am InSeason with my team right now, is there a way to get the slides or video for purchase?

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