One thing that really pisses me off about our industry is some of the ridiculous “number” posts you see.
For example, a few months back I saw a post that was something along the lines of “The Top 50 Fitness Bloggers” or something alone those lines.
I won’t claim to be the all-knowing, but I hadn’t heard of at least half the people.
Several others hadn’t even started blogging until the last 2-3 months!
How can you be a “top fitness blogger” when you haven’t even had a site for more than a year?
All these posts are a ploy to drive traffic back to their site. You say, “Hey, I’m on this list! I’m going to link to that on my blog, Facebook, Twitter, whatever.”
And if you are new to the industry, how do you end up knowing who is legit?
Or who actually knows what the hell they’re talking about?
This actually came up recently as well with IFAST intern Sean “Seamus” Griffin. We were riding back from a video shoot and he asked me, point-blank, whom I choose to learn from.
This post is a compilation of 12 people that I look up to, admire and respect.
These guys actually work with real people and get results.
Furthermore, they’re people that I have a direct line of communication with. If I want to learn more from them or ask them a specific question about their methodologies, I can shoot them an e-mail and expect a response back.
Finally, it’s a well-rounded and fairly complete list. I’ve done my best to include everything from powerlifting, to speed and agility, to recovery, and everything in between.
While definitely not a comprehensive list of who has influenced me or who I enjoy learning from, I think you’re going to be hard pressed to poke holes in the resume of the guys I list below.
Last but not least, these are in no particular order, which is why I’ve chosen not to attach a number of even try to “rank” them.
Dan John has been a fantastic resource for me for years. This guy is not only an amazing coach, but a fantastic communicator as well.
I first started reading Dan John articles back in the day via T-Nation. But it wasn’t until I saw him lecture in Los Angeles several years ago that I really had an appreciation for what it is that makes Dan unique.
In my opinion, the most valuable aspect of Dan John’s writing and teaching is in his perspective. This is a guy that’s seen and done everything, and when it comes right down to it, he has a fantastic way of helping you see the big picture.
Superpower: Athletic Development
Joe Kenn is one of those guys that you don’t hear from all that much online, and with good reason:
This guy is one of the hardest working individuals I know!
Joe Kenn (much like Dan John) has great perspective from over 20+ years in the field. Not to mention the fact that he’s worked at numerous Division-1 universities, is currently working as the head strength coach for the Carolina Panthers, and knows practically everyone in the industry.
I only get to chat with Joe a couple of times a year, but I can you tell this much: every time I chat with him, he keeps my brain spinning for months on end.
The one thing that separates Joe from the rest of the pack when it comes to athletic development is that he’s not a slave to any one training style or methodology.
He will go to the best of the best in any given area, take what he can from them, and then use that within his own template or training system.
At least to me, that’s the ideal way to develop your own training model, and it’s just one reason that Joe has had such tremendous success over the years.
Superpowers: Shoulders and Athletic Performance
The original cyborg, I’m pretty sure if it’s not about training, Eric Cressey isn’t interested.
Eric and I are close in age, but this guy is an absolute machine when it comes to writing, speaking, training clients and training himself.
That’s what I thought, too. But then again, you’d have to know Eric to understand this.
Not only is this guy incredibly bright, but when you combine intelligence with work ethic, you get a cyborg.
While Eric may be a cyborg, I often refer to Bill Hartman as Neo from the Matrix.
You watch the whole movie waiting for Neo to realize he’s “The One,” and when he does, he starts seeing code instead of people, objects, etc.
That’s kind of like Bill when he’s evaluating, assessing or treating someone. It’s like he sees their dysfunction almost immediately and starts developing a treatment plan to get them moving and feeling better.
Quite simply, if it weren’t for Bill Hartman, I wouldn’t be half the coach I am today. I owe a great deal to him not only as a mentor, but as a friend and business partner as well.
Superpower: Olympic Lifting
Greg Everett is a guy I’ve just recently started learning from, and I can tell you this much: I love his thought process when it comes to the Olympic lifts.
For many years I’d searched for a guy who’d take a smart biomechanical model and apply it to the O-lifts. Many of the old-school coaches out there are still teaching the lifts in the same old fashion, using the same old methodologies.
In his books and DVD’s, Greg does a fantastic job of breaking down the lifts in an easy-to-understand fashion, while teaching them from what I consider to be a biomechanically correct and efficient perspective.
Greg is a super smart guy, and someone I hope to learn more from in the years going forward.
Much like Greg Everett is to Olympic lifting, Mike Tuscherer is to powerlifting.
Mike does an amazing job of taking his own research on the lifts and applying them to his lifters. With a mix of science and intuition, he is consistently taking seemingly “ordinary” lifters and helping them put hundreds of pounds on their totals.
Another thing I really like about Mike is how he uses his TRAC system to help modulate the training process. It would be easy if you could go balls-out every workout, but knowing when to press hard and when to hold back a bit is critical to long-term success.
Even in my brief experience working with Mike, I saw profound changes in both my technique and performance. If you want to get stupid strong in the powerlifts, he’s your go-to guy.
Superpowers: Recovery and Manual Therapy
Patrick Ward is a guy I’ve learned a ton from in recent years.
Moreover, the reason I really like Patrick is not only because he thinks in a unique fashion, but the fact that he places a consistent focus on recovery and regeneration in his training system.
As an athlete, think about having someone like this on your team.
You go in for a session, and a specific muscle is tight or adhered. Instead of simply foam rolling it, you have someone that can work on you with his or her hands to address the issue, and then you go out and kill your workout. (By the way, I think this is a big part of our success here at IFAST, as Bill is a top-notch manual therapist.)
The combination of training, hands-on or manual techniques, and recovery is absolutely beast mode. This is a big part of the reason I will go back to school in the ensuing years to become a licensed massage therapist.
It was always a goal, but learning from Patrick and how he applies this in his training system pushed me over the edge.
Much like Patrick, Joel Jamieson is a guy I’ve only recently started learning from.
When I first read his Ultimate MMA Conditioning book, though, I was sold from that day forward.
Rarely has a book so heavily influenced by science had that level of practical application. You can read books that have plenty of “science” that give you nothing with regard to applying said principles in the gym.
That one book alone has changed how I program energy system training for my clients and athletes.
I’ve also seen some of Joel’s new materials, most specifically his Heart Rate Variability (HRV) book and his DVD set that’s coming out with Patrick Ward and Charlie Weingroff.
Much like the conditioning book changed my thinking on EST, the HRV book is going to shape how I manage the training process with my clients and athletes in the future.
I can’t say this strongly enough: If you aren’t learning from Joel, you’re doing yourself (and your clients/athletes) a disservice.
Superpower: The Complete Training Spectrum
Charlie Weingroff is a guy I’ve known for years now, and it’s been cool to watch him grow and evolve as a therapist, trainer and lecturer.
Charlie is a lot like what I envisioned for myself when I started out. There were plenty of strong people out there, and there were plenty of people who were good at the corrective/regression side of the equation.
But there was no one who was blending the two. No one was discussing how the training process was just one big continuum.
Unfortunately for me, Charlie is stronger (the guy has squatted 800 pounds), and as a physical therapist he can do all the cool magic tricks like dry needling, Active Release Technique, and joint mobilizations.
If your goal is to learn the entire spectrum of training, start diving in to Charlie’s materials. You won’t be disappointed.
From 2002-2005, I spent my days primarily working in a chiropractic rehabilitation environment.
Sure, I got a few personal training or sports performance clients along the way, but by and large I was doing rehab on low backs.
Luckily for me, this guy named Stu McGill was putting out books to get people like me on board with his research and training!
Between Dr. McGill’s two books, you have an amazing foundation on what causes back pain, how to evaluate people with low back issues, how to develop a treatment program, and how to coach/cue them for success.
I would argue that even if you never do a day of rehab in your life, if you work in this industry you should read those two books. Virtually every client you work with has suffered (or will suffer) from low back pain, and these books will give you a leg up on the competition.
Superpowers: Speed and Agility
Just like training is a continuum that flows from rehab to training, I think too often we forget about all the aspects of athletic development.
Too often, we fall into the trap of “I’m a powerlifter, so I’m going to get my athletes strong!!!”
And trust me, there’s nothing wrong with that – I still think strength is a key component to long-term athletic success.
But I would also argue that we need to have a broad coaching background, and if you work with athletes, you need a go-to speed and agility resource.
In my case, Lee Taft is my guy.
Lee not only sees the big picture, but he also realizes that most people overdo it when it comes to speed and agility sessions.
Do you really need 45 minutes to an hour to train this stuff?
In a personal conversation I had with Lee years ago, he said the speed and agility component of his training sessions lasts only 8-10 minutes!
Lee has learned from everyone and has great perspective, but most importantly his methods are tried and true.
Superpower: Movement and Kettlebells
Last but not least, we have Pavel Tsatsouline.
Pavel is another one of those people who has influenced me on multiple levels in my career.
Whether it was his work with flexibility, mobility, strength or core training, I’ve read almost everything Pavel has put out there.
It wasn’t until I attended a Russian Kettlebell Certification (RKC), however, until I could fully appreciate Pavel’s knowledge and understanding of the human body.
In fact, pigeon-holing him as a “kettlebell” guy is a great disservice. I would argue that he’s actually a “movement” guy, and kettlebells are the vehicle he uses to teach quality movement.
The RKC cert not only made me appreciate movement that much more, but made me take better stock of where I was as an athlete, and what I needed to improve upon to move and feel better.
So there you have it, my Top 12 resources in the field of performance enhancement.
I feel bad because there are numerous people that have influenced me along the way that I haven’t gotten to mention here, but if you read or listen to the interviews I’ve done over the years that should help fill in the gaps.
Have a great day and start learning from a few of these guys ASAP!
All the best,
P.S. – The 2012 Midwest Performance Enhancement Seminar will allow you to learn directly from Lee, Joel, Bill and Dan. If you’re interested in attending, sign up today before the price goes up!
P.P.S. – In case you weren’t aware, I’ve interviewed a ton of these guys before on my Podcast. Be sure to check these episodes out if you haven’t already!
- Dan John
- Joe Kenn
- Eric Cressey (and Mike Reinold)
- Greg Everett
- Mike Tuscherer
- Patrick Ward
- Joel Jamieson
- Charlie Weingroff
- Lee Taft
- Pavel Tsatsouline