Mike Kay on Training with Intent and Windows of Adaptation

Many young, aspiring coaches think that the path to becoming trainers is as smooth as just graduating from school then landing their dream job.

Sometimes, there are lots of stops and hiccups along the way. Sometimes, there’s a lot of detours involved.

Take Michael Kay, a Doctor of Physical Therapy based in Phoenix, Arizona. He never thought about becoming a physical therapist or trainer – in fact, he once majored in English and wanted to go to law school.

After realizing it wasn’t right for him, Mike ended up studying physical therapy. Still, he wasn’t quite the person who helps people improve their performance that he is today.

Mike later got connected with a private gym, training people in the morning, then saw his outpatients the rest of the day.

When two training clients turned to three, then four, Mike found himself merging the worlds of training and physical therapy, evolving it into the practice where he finds his fulfillment today.

Mike joins me today to share his big rocks and philosophy in training and therapy.

He discusses the importance of having the principles of expansion and compression in mind.

Mike explains how different people need tailored approaches when it comes to training and reveals how an individual can improve their health.

And also underscores the value of developing observational skills and shares his advice for finding success in rotational sports.


Things aren’t black and white in the structure of the human body. Look through the perspective of whether a person can expand or compress and, contextually, what they need to do in sport and life. – Mike Kay


This week on the Physical Preparation Podcast:

  • Mike’s background and how he got into the world of physical preparation
  • Mike’s big rocks in therapy and training philosophy and the importance of assessing compression and expansion
  • How Mike applies his training principles to high-end athletes in rotational sports
  • Evaluating injured athletes and how to get them moving optimally again
  • The value of looking at the body as a system and the importance of self-experimentation
  • What makes a great rotational athlete and how a variety of physical activity can improve health
  • How to get a client stronger without blowing them up in the process
  • The biggest mistakes rotational sports athletes and coaches make in designing a program
  • The pitfalls of over-reliance on bilateral strength and motions
  • How underappreciating what you do in the gym can impact your movement
  • The importance of developing observational skills
  • Sturgeon’s law and the saturation of the fitness industry


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