February 11, 2008

In This Issue:

– Robertson Training Systems Updates
– Training Tip
– Nutrition Tip
– Exclusive Interview: Brian Grasso
– Upcoming Interviews
– New Articles
– Schedule

Robertson Training Systems Updates:

Help contribute to a great cause

Please excuse me for the cut/paste from Eric’s blog, but this is a great cause and something I’m really happy to help out with.

If your life, or that of someone you love, has been affected by cancer, please take this opporunity to help out. Thank you!

I used to think that I had the coolest job in the world – until I met Sarah Neukom and learned about what she gets to do every day.

Don’t get me wrong; helping athletes get leaner, stronger, and faster is a lot of fun. I’m thrilled that we get to instill positive diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits in people that will sustain them for life. I love the fact that my writing, speaking, and coaching has CHANGED some lives.

To be honest, though, my responsibilities don’t hold a candle to Sarah’s; she gets to SAVE lives.

You see, Sarah is a Development Office for Jimmy Fund Special Events. For those who aren’t familiar with it, the Jimmy Fund supports cancer research and care at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and it’s become synonymous with the word “charity” in the city of Boston.

The events Sarah organizes – from autograph signings with the Red Sox to ice cream festivals – directly fund the services that save thousands of lives each year. And, to take it a step further, Sarah’s enthusiasm for her job and passion for helping others is contagious. In fact, the first time I heard her talk about how much she loves her job, all I could think about was what I could do to help.

Fortunately, I now have that opportunity. You see, like many other athletes who run the Boston Marathon for various charities, Sarah is hitting the pavement to raise funds for Dana Farber. Normally, runners with charity associations are required to raise $3,000 to run, but given Sarah’s job, the bar has been set even higher: $8,000!

Now, I might be able to lift heavy stuff and jump high, but you can be sure that I’m no endurance athlete. As such, I’ll stick to fund-raising support and leave the support running to others…

So with that in mind, here’s the low-down on what you can all do to help me help Sarah and, in turn, save a lot of lives. This week, Mike Robertson and I are going to give you 25% off on ANY of our products if you make a tax-deductible donation of $25 at the following page:


Once you’ve done so, forward your donation confirmation email to me at [email protected] and tell me which product you’d like for your discount. We’ll get you a discount code for your purchase. The products included are:

The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual
Magnificent Mobility DVD and/or Manual
Inside-Out DVD/Manual
Monster Mobility Pack (MM + I-O)
Building the Efficient Athlete DVD set ($25 donation saves you $50!)
Bulletproof Knees Manual

You might be wondering: why don’t Mike and Eric just donate a portion of the proceeds from all sales for the week? The answer is simple: if you buy from us, it’s not tax deductible. We’ll eat the difference instead of making you eat it; we want to encourage you in your philanthropic efforts.

Of course, if you already have all our products, or just aren’t interested – but want to make a donation anyway – forward your confirmation email on anyway and I’ll get something good sent out to you to make it worth your while.

For more information on Sarah’s efforts, you can check out www.SarahSaidSheWould.com.

And, by all means, please pass this along to others.

All the Best,


A Huge Announcement in the next newsletter?

I’ve been working day and night to finalize the details, and I think I’m going to pull this off!

Be sure to check in to the next RTS newsletter for a major seminar announcement – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

Don’t forget – you can ask questions too!

I want the RTS newsletter to be reader focused, and that’s why I give all the readers the opportunity to pose questions to our interviewees.

If you have a question you’ve been dying to ask Dave Tate, Bill Hartman, Alwyn Cosgrove, or any of our other distinguished guests, just follow the directions below and we’ll do our best to help you get those questions answered!

If you would like to submit a question for one of our upcoming interviewees:

1) Please send an e-mail to [email protected]
2) In the subject heading, please list the person your question is directed towards (i.e. Mike Boyle)
3) In the body of the text, list one or two questions you’d like to have answered.

We can’t promise that our interviewees can answer all questions, but we’ll do our best to get a nice mix of questions. Thanks for your support!

Training Tip:

Get your core stability up to par

I’ve written about it numerous time, and I’ll be speaking about it at the upcoming Aussie Seminars, but core stability is hugely important.

The foundation of your core stability is core endurance. Quite simply, can you hold a front pillar, side pillar, or back extension for an extended period of time? And if so, can you do it while maintaining optimal alignment? Sure, there are more tests than that, but it’s a great start.

Once you’ve mastered the more isolative drills, it’s time to start focusing on optimal pelvic alignment. I covered this in-depth in my Core Training for Smart Folks article. Again, however, this is still mostly ground-based drills and will only have a rudimentary carry-over to more “functional” activities.

After endurance and alignment are up to snuff (or extremely close), it’s time to start integrating that new found stability and alignment into dynamic movements. Start slow and focus on alignment/technique over weight used. That alignment won’t stay optimal unless you make it! It’s very easy to fall back into previously flawed stabilization patterns if you don’t watch it.

Whether your goal is a six-pack, to run really fast, or to lift massive weights, the principles of core training don’t change all that much. If nothing else, develop your base levels of endurance first and foremost before moving forward.

Nutrition Tip:

Eat Your Breakfast!
by Mike Roussell

So DID you eat breakfast today?

I did.

Here’s what I had.

Now my calories (especially carbs) are much lower than normal so don’t put too much stock in only the 1/2 cup of blueberries. Instead look at the make-up of this meal.

Walnuts – A blend of fatty acids including monounsaturated, omega-6, and short chain omega-3s.

Fish Oil – EPA/DHA (long chain omega-3s) for heart health, brain function, joint health, and fat loss

Emerald Balance – A greens supplement (it has a nice hint of cinnamon) to boost the antioxidant, and alkaline status of my diet.

Metabolic Drive – A great tasting blend of milk proteins

Blueberries – Low impact carbs and life extending antioxidants

Not a bad way to start your day huh?

If you like this tip and want to learn more about Mike and his products, check out his Naked Nutrition website.

Exclusive Interview: Brian Grasso

MR: Brian, thanks for being with us here today. For those who readers who may not know who you are, please introduce yourself.

BG: Hey Mike, thanks for having me. I work primarily in youth sports development and fitness. I am the Founder and CEO of the International Youth Conditioning Association (www.IYCA.org) which is the industry’s first and only educational entity dedicated to accrediting professional Trainers as ‘Specialists’ in the emerging field of pediatric exercise science and development. I also have my own personal website at www.DevelopingAthletics.com where I discuss the differences between contemporary sports performance and sports development – an area that I think more professionals ned to understand better.

MR: What originally got you into the field?

BG: When I graduated college, I knew that I wanted nothing to do with the general fitness industry. It’s just not for me. So, I started working with elite, professional and Olympic athletes at the High Performance Specialists in Toronto, Canada. Around 1997, we started getting an influx of younger and younger athletes into our facility and frankly, didn’t know what to do with them. That’s when I began my research and practical exposure into the world of pediatric development. It’s been a very fun ride thus far and one that I am no where near finished with. I think that’s one of my problems with the industry at large, very few professionals are willing to admit they have more to learn – that will never be me. The day I think I ‘know it all’ is the day I will call it a career because I will have lost my perspective.

MR: Where are you working at currently? And with what level of athletes?

BG: The IYCA is an international outfit so I don’t have a head training quarters right now. I consult with facilities and athletes throughout the world and still maintain a daily coaching schedule at satellite facilities throughout the Chicago area. We are working at developing our head quarters within the northwest suburban Chicago community. I work with developing athletes ages 6 – 17 primarily, but still train college athletes in the summers.

MR: Brian, you’re obviously passionate about working with the youth athlete. What got you interested in this demographic?

BG: It’s two fold. As I mentioned, no one seemed to understand what to do with this demographic – me included. That got me curious. But aside from that, my own athletic career was halted back when I was 18 due to a major back injury I experienced. It occurred due to years of improper lifting techniques and heightened volumes. I don’t think I realized it back then, but at 18, sitting in the doctor’s office and hearing the words that my “football career was over”, I think I decided to change the way we trained and guided kids. Coaches and Trainers need to understand that even though the young athlete shows great promise, they are still a developing organism and the physical, mental and emotional considerations that go along with that must be factored in to a training system.

MR: Along those same lines, you’ve developed the IYCA to improve the performance and development of young athletes. Could you please tell the readers a little bit more about the IYCA?

BG: You know, it really wasn’t conceived as a ‘performance organization’. Certainly we believe that our system will lead to dramatically improved performance, but that word, ‘performance’, generally carries a stigma inferring some kind of high level training or unique exercise set. The IYCA stands for the basics. Period. There is nothing overly cool or intriguing about our exercise platform or guidelines. What is different about us is our system. We breakdown young athletes into the following age categories: 6 – 9, 10 – 13 and 14+, and show Trainers and Coaches how to work optimally within a training and coaching model that ascends through those years. I could go on and on, Mike, but to be brief, the highlighted features of each system are:

6 – 9:

– Coordination development (balance, rhythm, kinesthetic differentiation, spatial awareness etc).

– Guided discovery (which means we don’t over coach – we design a drill or exercise, provide boundaries and allow kids to explore movements through a ‘Goal’ oriented approach. What that means is we want the kids to finish the drill and aren’t concerned with the ‘Outcome’ of what it looked like).

– Movement/Strength in the form of crawling, climbing, running, jumping, throwing and skipping. This is critical and done so in multi-directional and multi-planar platforms.

10 – 13:

– Technical proficiency is initiated through a teaching model. We don’t ask kids to ‘perform’ plyometrics, jumping or strength training activities, we design skill sets and begin teaching the elements of force production, absorption and movement economics. I can’t tell you how many high school athletes I have trained that could ‘squat’ 500 pounds… until I re-taught them the proper sequence of motion and force – the weight comes WAY down then! This stage, because nervous system plasticity is still so high, is where we teach correct habits and can then bank them for life.

– Speed and Movement economy. Too many Coaches and Trainers feel as though speed and agility is just a matter of cone and ladder drills – it’s not. Young athletes need to be taught HOW to move efficiently. We break down deceleration and acceleration into a teaching process called the Principles of Movement. These Principles take a young athlete through a 6-step process that extends from Static Repeats to Individualization. Injury reduction is a primary concern for us as well.

– the Principles help organize the nervous system to understand forces and be able to ‘handle’ them during times of randomization (which is sport).


– Now we train. I don’t mean that we go ‘balls out’ or that the previous cycles weren’t training. I think that’s one of the primary problems with our industry as it relates to young athletes – we over train them. It’s not what they are doing with you that matters, it’s what they’re doing when they aren’t with you. Lack of sleep, nutritional deficiencies, emotional and psychological stress – these are all real factors in teenage life and must be considered when designing training programs that are developmentally sound. Our programs last between 45 – 60 minutes max and are prioritized for what young athletes need:

o Mobility/Active Flexibility/Tissue Quality/Torso
o Movement Prep
o Movement Skill/Power
o Strength (typically a Hybrid Lift with a tertiary as well)
o Static Flexibility

We have seen injury rates come drastically down with this programmatic structure and for us, that is critical. In terms of performance, our programs last one year in length. The ‘6-weeks to a 6 inch vertical’ crap bugs me to no end. With the average teenager, training them for 6-weeks IS GOING TO LEAD TO PERFORMANCE GAINS NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO. At this age, non-directed or specialized training can and will have a significant impact on biomotor gain – that is not true for elite athletes and one of the reasons we should never confuse high school kids with elite athletes. Our programs last one year in length, broken down into 4 quarters. Within a quarter, the typical overview looks like this:

o Month 1 – low volume, high technique
o Month 2 – moderate volume, moderate technique
o Month 3 – high volume, overreach
o Month 4 – low volume (allow for the overreach period to elicit a physiological response)

We don’t care where our athletes are now… we care where they are going.

MR: That’s really good stuff Brian! Following up on the previous question, how would someone who’s interested in training young athletes become IYCA certified?

BG: We are not like other certification organizations where you drop $600 and write an exam. We have a definitive educational system that is comprehensive and adds to our member’s knowledge over time. Pediatric exercise science and sport development are bastardized concepts in the West and we take great pride in educating our members over time – not just with one textbook and exam.

MR: You’ve been doing this for a while, and I love to throw this question out there at the end. We’ve all made mistakes as coaches, athletes, etc. – what was a mistake you made in your past, and how have you since corrected it?

BG: I have made THOUSANDS of mistakes!!! The most glaring one for me is the question of volume and intensity. I understand now the differences between directed and non-directed loading or training stimulus. In the past, I wanted to make my young athletes bigger, stronger and faster immediately. But developing a solid athlete is not unlike developing a solid student. You can’t pass grade 2 in 6-weeks and you can’t take a Master’s Degree in Math without funneling through the basics of elementary, middle and high school. Education is comprehensive and it takes time and although you may have a tendency to be ‘math minded’, you still MUST go through basic English and grammar in order to excel in math later in life.

Training an athlete is no different. It must be comprehensive, we must not be in a hurry and we cannot be too specific with our loading. ‘Athletic Intelligence’ is something not a lot of kids today have and that’s in part because we are so concerned with making them great athletes in the short-term without considering the long-term relationship of what we are doing now. That’s why our system is predicated on skill and knowledge enhancing – not just cognitively but physically as well.

MR: Brian, thanks a ton for being here with us today. Where can my readers find out more about you and the IYCA?

BG: www.IYCA.org my friend!

Upcoming Interviews

February 18th – Zach Even Esh, Strength Coach (www.UndergroundStrengthCoach.com)

February 25th – Dave Tate, Powerlifter and owner of Elite Fitness Systems (www.elitefts.com)

March 3rd – Jimmy Smith, Performance and Fitness Coach (www.jimmysmithtraining.com)

March 10th – Geoff Neupert, Coach and owner of Rapid Results Fitness (rapidresultsfitness.net)

If you would like to submit a question for one of our upcoming interviewees:

1) Please send an e-mail to [email protected]
2) In the subject heading, please list the person your question is directed towards (i.e. Mike Boyle)
3) In the body of the text, list one or two questions you’d like to have answered.

We can’t promise that our interviewees can answer all questions, but we’ll do our best to get a nice mix of questions. Thanks for your support!


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