For starters, I am a college strength and conditioning coach, working with Division I and III athletes including several national champions. I was first certified as a USA Weightlifting Coach in 2005 and am a certified Sports Performance Coach. I have more than 20 years of coaching experience. I have tried most training forms but focus primarily on sled work at this point.
I was an athlete through school – including a Division I varsity athlete at Harvard – though never as successful as I would have liked. I was blessed with good genetics, but I was also born with monocular vision, so I have no depth perception (if you are wondering what that is like, try to play ping-pong or shoot hoops with a patch over one eye). Surprisingly, I was a decent slalom skier, and raced Division I carnivals, but ended my career early. I turned to track cycling after realizing that I was a fast-twitch guy and have done that ever since with some success. But the gym and heavy resistance training have always been part of my program.
I began coaching the year after I graduated from high school and have continued that as well. My favorite part was the gym work. The gym is a place where hard work counts, where the process matters, and where you come out feeling better than when you went in. I used a lot of Olympic lifting and got certified in 2005 (before it was cool), even working out on a platform with a very young Mat Fraser.
In the last several years, I began to use sleds more and more. I was looking for something that was easy to teach athletes and was safe, but also something where they could really push themselves. Typically the college weightroom has a few different types of people in it. A few know what they are doing. Then there are a lot of people doing exercises poorly. Then, there are the athletes that are trying to keep up with their buddies and teammates and lifting weights beyond their real capability. And there are those that are not really getting anything out of it because they don’t feel comfortable and don’t know how much effort to put in.
But there are some issues. Weightlifting (and this includes all versions, like Olympic lifting, CrossFit, etc) is not easy to learn, and is potentially not safe (I know of WAY too many athletes getting hurt in the weightroom), needs lots of equipment (usually expensive), will make you sore, and takes at least 45 minutes to an hour.
HIIT, intervals, TRX, bodyweight work, even plyometrics can be great to get lean and gain some strength. And they can be done in 15-20 minutes usually (or even 7 if you follow the NY Times). These aren’t ideal, however, because they really aren’t going to make you particularly stronger, and will not be enough to give you the body you want. And for athletes – or those wanting to be athletic (which we all should) – these are clearly insufficient. It has been shown that heavy resistance training is one of the best things you can do, even if you are an endurance athlete.
So I still train athletes in the weightroom. And I still do quite a bit myself, especially Olympic lifts. But the vast majority of my own training is sleds, 6-12 minutes a day. And while technically past my prime, I am in the best shape of my life. I look better (aside from some wrinkles and a lot less hair) and am stronger than I have ever been. I take some very basic vitamin supplements, eat well, and that is it.
And that is saying something, given that 10 years ago I was struck down with a mysterious life-threatening illness that had me hospitalized five times in three years and had me bedridden for a time. I needed a walker to get around at one point and didn’t have the strength to lift a glass of water with one arm at another. So I have not always been strong and healthy (but more on that at another time).
I believe that resistance exercise really is the best medicine – the best thing you can do for your body and brain. And I believe that high quality training should be available to everyone, not just those that can afford a nice gym or expensive equipment. As stupid as it may sound, I believe that if everyone spend 6 minutes every morning doing a sled workout (ideally in groups), the world would be a significantly better place.
So, it is time to just take the next step. If you don’t want to take my word for it, here are some others…
6 Week Sled Training Programming – Basic
This package includes the basic training, video demonstration, nutritional guidelines, a guide to the best sleds, a way to build your own sleds (in 20 minutes with $20), our warm up series, and 6 weeks of training, including new exercises every week.