Category Archives: Performance

It’s Called /’trānING/

Training (/’trānING/) – the acquisition of knowledge, skills and competencies as a result of teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies.  Training has specific goals of improving one’s capability, capacity and performance.

Physical Training – concentrates on mechanistic goals:  training programs in this area develop specific skills or muscle, often with a view of peaking at a particular time.  Some physical training programs focus on raising over all physical fitness.

It’s the summer.  I would much rather be drinking a beer, barbecuing and simply being outside.  But in the career I chose as a coach this is the busiest time of the year for most physiologist and coaches of winter sport.  Our athletes are in the off season and are preparing for the upcoming year.

So as a coach, your time diminishes.  With that your time to train shrinks.  I know some people think, “just train with your athletes.”  They don’t pay me to train with them, they train me to coach.  Cannot do both, its that simple.  So, we as coaches are relegated to having a small window to train ourselves.  Some days you are lucky to get an hour to do some type of physical activity.  So workouts tend to be short, bordering on Cossfit-ish.  Look, I am now in my 30’s and have really nothing to train for anymore other than to look good naked.  I am starting to get over the thoughts of having to have the biggest Squat and Deadlift.  I still want impressive numbers and hit a few PB’s every once in a while.  I like to challenge my limits; I want to be strong and have aerobic capacity.  I need to have a point to training.  Although I have nothing to train for I want to see outcome results.   I have to do some work… Just get work done!

“The difference between exercising and training is having a point. Exercises done to waste energy burn calories or blow off steam, access mental and physical energy and tension. Training is done in order to improve something strength endurance neuromuscular control etc. exercise is a singular event with an immediate goal”

“The success of the training can only be judged by changes over time and performance. Exercise just doesn’t have a point beyond the immediate session if you leave the gym sweaty mess it was a good exercise session or workout. If you show up every day and breathe hard and get tired and sweaty you may consider yourself to be successful at exercise. By contrast training can only be judged as a success if it works – that is if after an appropriate amount of time you can clearly show improved capacity for physical work. You may show up every day and push and pull and grunt and sweat and even limp to your car – but be terribly unsuccessful at training, overtime if you are not getting any stronger faster leaner more agile better at your chosen sport etc.”

Yes, I have very limited time to train but after an appropriate amount of time I personally need to see improved capacity for physical work.  That is just the coach in me.  I cannot do exercise for the sake of exercise.  So in my search for some short workouts, ones that I do not have to write, I turned to a couple of resources, which I will share with you.  Yes, they are Crossfit groups, but of the ones that I have looked through these are the ones that get “training”.   I think some of them use the name Crossfit to get others through the door.  They have a progression, appear to be periodized and for what I do, train to train, suit my purpose.  They focus on the power lifting, and the Olympic lifting so that appeals to me and doing some general work.





Gym Rules to Live By…

  1. Use Chalk
  2. Loud Music Only
  3. Work Hard or Go Home
  4. Do Not Lower Deadlift Quietly
  5. Grunting Allowed
  6. Put Weights Away When Done
  7. Break Your Last PR
  8. TRAIN, Do Not Work Out
  9. Respect The Equipment and Staff


There is a buzz right now in the pool here for Water Polo Canada.  Recent World League Champions Serbia is in Calgary for joint training with the national team.  There is a sense of awe surrounding the Serbian team.  The way the guys talked about the Serbs, I figured when the jumped in the pool they would either walk on the water or part the waters upon entrance.  They show up with 18 players… and when basically the only sport in your country is Water Polo, then you have the pick of the best.  They are LARGE men.  When you are a player born in ‘94 and you are hovering on 6’5” 100 – 105 kg, that’s a mountain in the pool.  They are impressive, but what impresses me is not the Serbian’s,  it the amount of work that was accomplished by our Canadian team this year.  Hell, we beat USA for the first time in 40 year, not once, but twice to qualify for World Championships.  I would challenge any country to have put as much work in as our Canadian team.


So today, Canada and Serbia start their joint training.   We take out usual spot in the weight room and Serbia takes up some realestate at the other end of the building.  As I make my way over to return some equipment to the other side of the building I watch a little of what the Serbians are doing.  Now I cannot make an opinion on their program and periodization based on a 5 minute viewing (however there a a tonne of “experts” on the internet that can watch a YouTube clip of training a think they have a sniff of what’s going on), they were not doing anything revolutionary.  And I can make an educated guess that they are following RULE #8.  They train!


There is no magic to training.  Do some F##king Work.   That is it.  Sure when it come to a team and competitions then there is calculated F##king Work.  But it is not something revolutionary, or entertaining.  If I were here to entertain athletes I would wear a clown nose and balance on a ball.  I can guarantee that that they are not doing Cleans and then burpees over the bar or what ever else is used to “just make someone sweat”.  They are picking things that are heavy up and putting them down… and repeat.   They are swimming hard and fast and swimming long and slow.  They are doing WORK in an organized fashion.  It is that simple.  But RULE #8 will require RULES #3, 4, 5 and 7… and sometimes 1 and 2 to be used at all times.  And then I told the guys that, my concluding comment was, “ and that is what we did all year.”  The Water Polo team completed a lot of calculated work.  And now with World League Champs in town, we will see how that work paid off!




From Hungary With Love Pt 1.

As many of you will know I recently accepted a contract at the Canadian Sports Centre in Calgary.  As part of that contact I became the strength coach/ physiologist for Water Polo Canada.  There is limited availability to play games in Canada.  Tough to play the US as they are a rival and training with them helps them to get better and vice versa.  The college system with their rules limits the games they can play outside NCAA and from what I have been told, we would dismantle them.  So with no games since the Olympic Qualifiers in July 2012 the team organized a training camp in Hungary.  And, well… that meant I am talking a trip to Hungary with the team.

I write this as I watch ZF Eger play on the TV.  ZF Eger is the local professional team where one of our national members plays full time.  The city has billboards of the players, the matches etc.  There is no doubt that Water Polo is the national sport of this beautiful country.  The country emerges itself in pool culture.   Where in Canada we build ice rinks the Hungarians build Pools.   However the pools are works of art.  The pool in Eger for example is one of the most impressive structures I have seen as the roof is meant to represent the body of an overturned wooden war ship and the entire building is adorned in wood.

The pool is perpetually busy with the likes of young and old frequenting the pool for daily laps.  We see this in Canada but the feel around the pool is less of that of training for competition, it is about the culture.  It is something that if I did not experience it, I would not believe it.  I guess the easiest way to explain it is the culture around Water Polo is that to Hungarians as Hockey is to Canada.

My role on the trip is to monitor training, recovery and to research/experience Water Polo.  It was evident on my first day why this country is so dominant in the sport.  One, the system of talent identification is present, as the shear number of kids playing Water Polo is mirror to that of kids playing hockey back home.  Secondly, the Eastern European culture produces massively imposing men.  Hanging around the pool for 6 hours a day I have come to realize that Hungarian men are what I would call “Thick”.  Big barrel chested men.  The average height of the local pro team is 6’4”, weight 235 lbs and age 28 yrs.

And after 5 days of eating here I can see why everyone can be built like brick shit houses.  For the past 5 days we have not had anything less than a three-course meal… at any meal.  The food I have been told is 80 – 90% locally grown with 80 – 90% of that being organically grown.  I think one would be hard pressed to find a vegetarian here, as meat appears to be the staple at any meal.  And the flavors are just amazing.  And Erős Pista (“EH-ROOSH PISH-TA”), which means “Strong Stevie,” is a popular brand of csípős (spicy) paprika paste produced by the Univer company. It is salty, and somewhere in the middle on the global “spiciness” scale, and often found on restaurant tables in Hungary.  That little lady from Franks has nothing on this stuff.  They really do put that s**t on everything.  I am off to the market this afternoon to pick up 5 jars.

To be continued…


Train Appropriately

I am going to keep this brief.  This is a quote from a book called “Easy Strength” by Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline.  The quote comes from a strength coach by the name of Brian Petty.  For me it was thought provoking, as this is something I tried to relay n my presentations to the Western Hockey League athletes, in a much nicer way.  But more than anything I wanted to see what others though of this view.

“The difference between exercising and training is having a point. Exercises done to waste energy burn calories or blow off steam, access mental and physical energy and tension. Training is done in order to improve something strength endurance neuromuscular control etc. exercise is a singular event with an immediate goal


The success of the training can only be judged by changes over time and performance. Exercise just doesn’t have a point beyond the immediate session if you leave the gym sweaty mess it was a good exercise session or workout. If you show up every day and breathe hard and get tired and sweaty you may consider yourself to be successful at exercise. By contrast training can only be judged as a success if it works – that is if after an appropriate amount of time you can clearly show improved capacity for physical work. You may show up every day and push and pull and grunt and sweat and even limp to your car – but be terribly unsuccessful at training, overtime if you are not getting any stronger faster leaner more agile better at your chosen sport etc.

Swinging a weight around with the express goal of becoming extremely fatigued is what I would do if I had a lobotomy.  With a full frontal lobotomy destroying my ability to plan over the long-term, I would believe that the goal of exercise was achieving a certain specific response – I would search for it the immediate effect of exercise. I would forget that as biological organisms we not only respond in the short term to a stimulus but also adapt in the long term to the sum total of stimuli we are presented with – so long as we are able to recover. The idea that anything that made me horrendously fatigued to the point of nausea vomiting dehydration hypothermia and even rhabdomyolosis would constitute as effective – or killer – workout would appeal to my zombielike short-term thinking mind. I would strive in my workerouts for failure or forcing my body to stop working. Fascinated by the immediate effects of exercise and unable to plan I work at top voluntary intensity every time I exercised always attempting to maximally disrupt my body functions. I would also be unable to follow a program so I would change exercises constantly attempting to confuse my body and prevented from getting used to my exercise sessions.  I would change aimlessly, regardless of whether the exercises were useful or dangerous, choosing them solely based on how bad they made me feel…

If you want pain, learn Muay Thai.  If you want to learn failure, play golf.  If you want to vomit, drink syrup of ipecac.  If you want to become stronger and more fit, train appropriately.”


Yours in Health and Performance

Jeff Osadec, MKin, CEP, CSCS

I Have a Face for Radio…

And with a speech impediment that I am occasionally reminded and self conscious about, I guess I don’t even have a voice for radio either.  I have always maintained that I wanted to be the guy in the background.  A leader, yes, but in the sense that Robin Sharma (if you do not read any of his work yet… you need to) describes it; a leader without title.  Like I posted a month or so back, I choose to be a Ghost in the profession.  I got to talk yesterday with one of the best “ghosts” in the business and someone I consider a privilege to work with, Matt Jordan (if you do not read any of his work yet… you need to).  Every conversation with him inspires me.  Actually a conversation with any of the group from the Sports Centre inspires me.


Some of you may not know, but I was asked to break trend of hiding in the shadows, and did a photo workout article for Impact Magazine.  It was a rather simple, 4 exercise article in their annual workout guide.  I was asked to give them my four favourite exercises, to which I easily replied, “Cleans, Romanian Deadlift, Push Press and Front Squat.”  Boring yes, but four effective exercises.   I tend to shy away from things like that, those types of articles.  When I read the popular magazines, where they ask the professionals for their go to exercises is usually turns into a contest to see who can come up with the most ridiculous exercise, something so obscure that it proves to the readers that this person is in such fine shape that they would have to train with them.  I was extremely please to see that in this Impact Issue, that was not the case.  Many of the groups demonstrated the basics.  Chris from 2110 had a great shoot; Shawn Hope Ross from National Sport Development did a great shoulder program.  The guy from Westside went into a mobility circuit.  With the exception of one group this showed me some hope, that the trend to come up with gimmicks may be on the down slope.


The trends for personal training really was, “throw everything you can at your client in the first four sessions.  Wow them.  Repeat for four more sessions and then scramble to create gimmicks for them if they continue with you.”  The trainer then stands there with this disengaged look on their face, checking their test messages while the client does some ridiculous exercise.  I assure you if I see that at any place I work, someone is getting called on it.  Have I been guilty, yes from time to time, checking a text that is?  Ridiculous exercises, yes… years ago.


Ridiculous exercises put our clients at risk for injury or the development of imbalances.  Do I need to have a client do push-ups on two upright dumbbells to get “depth” when they cannot perform a push up normally, with solid core contraction?  Are squats on an unstable surface necessary when the client exhibits poor glute firing allowing their knees to buckle in when they do a regular body weight squat? See my point?  Trainers get caught up with what is on “The Biggest Loser” and other shows of that caliber.  They want that wow factor, but usually that “wow” factor leads to a lack of substance in programming.  Attention to the details is key in developing a program.  And you really cannot screw up the basics; mobility, pushes, pulls, lunge, squat, bend and twist. And guaranteed your clients will see better results with less frustration.


It is time that I go to go back to my cave, hide in the shadows and write a few more boring but effective programs, relieved that those reading the current issue of Impact are receiving some decent workout ideas for this month.


Yours in Health and Performance,


Jeff Osadec, Mikn, CEP, CSCS

Pros vs Joes

Many of you will not know the name Dan Pfaff.  Dan Pfaff is arguable the world’s best track coach; he’s coached 29 NCAA Champions and 33 Olympians.  He is now the heading coach for Britain’s Track and Field program and has identified injury prevention as the single biggest issue facing UK Athletics.  This guy gets it, and by “gets it” I mean understanding what is important and what is necessary to see adaptation and performance.

What I find interesting about listening and reading Pfaff’s material is here is a guy, who works with some of the best athletes on the planet.   He works with a very, for a lack of a better description, homogeneous group of people.   These are athletes in the 90th percentile of the population yet he does not treat them the same.  He treats them as a heterogeneous group, understanding that each is an individual, with different needs, imbalances and capabilities.

Yet here we are at a time in the New Year that everyone is at the gym, tending to their New Years Resolutions and they are doing programs and training on programs and plans for the masses.  They are attempting to conform to the homogenous group, regardless of individual differences.  If you are new to the gym seek out the gym staff that are knowledgeable to help you assess your “individuality.”  Have a quality trainer develop a program for you, if you are not a person who needs their hand held through training.  Understand that one program does not fit all.  To the approach that one program can be beneficial to many is a plan destined to fail.  Some individuality to programs is a necessity.  If you are going to hire a trainer, make sure they watch these three videos.  Hopefully they get just a little bit if “it”.

Yours in Health and Performance,

Jeff Osadec, Mkin, CEP, CSCS

Sometimes We Do Not Learn from Our Mistakes…

I had mentioned that I was going to write this post on common mistakes I witness around the gym, but there were others topics that came along and pushed this to the back of the list.  However the extra time just lead to me discovering that there was much more to cover than I first thought.   I have been working in gyms in capacity since 1998.  In the 11 years I have seen so many funny stories, touching (not criminal touching) moments, and numerous acts of stupidity, but have never documented them.  In those 11 years there have been many frustrations and little annoyances and I wanted to share a few.


  1. You see no results from your training and in most cases I can boil this down to a few common reasons.
    1. You are a program jumper.  You spend each week doing a different style of work out, from total body one week to high intensity the next week, with no consistency in any one program you take on.  Consistency is a key component of a program that is commonly taken for granted.
    2. OR… You have been on the same program for a number of years.  The human body is an amazingly adaptable organism and is it commonly understood among the professionals that a program should be changed or tweaked every 4 to 6 weeks.
    3. You have no clear plan when you come to the gym.  Many, and I am going to categorize here, guys’ come to the gym and lift.   They know they are working (insert muscle groups here) but there is no plan of attack.
    4. Pair with the above comment, there is a lack of documentation of the progression.  Buy a $2.00 notebook and watch the progress.  By that I mean very few individuals will track the weight they have lifted from session to session.  I will say from anecdotal evidence, that I have used the most random of programs, but consistently tracked the weight I used from session to session, insuring that I was lifting more weight each time I performed the program, and you know what?  I made gains.  This is not a difficult concept.
    5. Yes, I know you see a trainer three times a week, an hour at a time.  This does not ensure success.  Now take it that the trainer should be giving you the tools to succeed when they are not there, but many do not take the responsibility on away from the gym.  You see a trainer for 3 hours a week, what are you doing for the other 165 hours away from the gym?
    6. Training is not an activity in itself.  There are those who you ask, what do you do for activity (i.e. Road cycling, snowboarding, climbing… whatever) and they answer, “I go to the gym.”  I have a different view of this.  I go to the gym because I do other things (i.e. Road cycling, snowboarding, climbing… whatever).  The gym and your training are to supplement the “other things you do.  They are to make those other things more enjoyable because you are not sore, fatigued, whatever it may be, after you have completed those activities.
    7. Nutrition will factor in something like 70% of how you look or progress though a program, yet many will never see a nutritionist or even adapt their diet to their training.   But I am going to go one step further.  It is lifestyle that will factor something like 70 – 80 % of how you look and progress through a program.  Yes, there is eating, but what about your sleep pattern, your stress level.  The guy in the gym is built like a brick house, or the girl on the treadmill has a likeness to a Greek Goddess, yet they are sleep deprived, binge drink on weekends, or are going through a terrible break up for example; are they healthy?  They are akin to my idea of steroids; steroids may make someone look good on the outside, but slowly they are breaking down from the inside out (if you have questions about this comment, please ask and I can elaborate more). These people are not well on the inside and are more fragile than you think.


I could be here for quite some time but I want to keep the post brief and not to inundate everyone with a great amount of material.  Little changes at a time, right.

Next post is drafted, and being edited as I tackle the egos in the profession.


But until next time,

Yours in Health and Performance


Jeff Osadec, MKin, CEP, CSCS

Surround Yourself With Intelligent People

I’ve always been one to try and surround myself with like minded and intelligent people.  If I am the smartest man in a room, it is time to leave that room (we all know I rarely leave a room then because I am never the smartest man in a room).  But as I have mentioned in previous posts, one of the guys I look up to as a mentor (and glad to be able to call a friend) is Andrew at Natural High Crossfit in Okotoks (  Andrew is among some of the smartest guys I know in the profession.

I understand that from a few of the posts that I have had, I can come across as an “anti-crossfitter” as I have attempted to shed some reality on the principles and ideas surrounding Crossfit.  My last post was and article from Men’s Health Magazine that did not put such a positive spin on it.  However, it is not that I am against any method of training.  I am against those that use any method incorrectly, in the wrong sequence of training, or just plainly do not know what the hell they are doing.  I have said to many time and time again, if you want to do Crossfit, do it, but do it with someone who knows how to do things correctly.  Andrew and his team of trainers in Okotoks know exactly what they are doing.  That is one place in the area that is actually doing Crossfit more justice that I think the founder, Greg Glassman, is doing for it.  They are an educated bunch, who understand the process, the progression and understand training in general.   Andrew had written an article that he was gracious to share regarding “met-con” training.  I will say it is not a biased look at Crossfit but a clear and beautifully written article that clears states the correct way to use “met-con” training.  And as we know Crossfit is one of the most popular forms of “met-con” training at the present time.

Fitness Informer – met con

Have a read, it is a fantastic educational piece.   As well, if you are looking to challenge yourself and you are looking to do a couple of “WOD’s” see the guys in Okotoks.  Great facility and great people.


Once again,

Yours in Health and Performance

Jeff Osadec, MKin CEP CSCS

Someone Actually Called Crossfit a Cult… Ha!

I want to be clear that I am not here to pick sides, but share an interesting article.  I was about to post an write up on some common gym mistakes in training but this article really intrigued me.


I would like to share a link to the Men’s Health web site.  I have been reading this publication for a long time and they are usually pretty quick to pick up on a trend, fad or new fitness craze, but it took some time for them to focus an article on Crossfit.


I realize that the article is average at best and it is a “popular” magazine, but what interested me more than the article (the bias is clearly evident) was the comments at the end of the Internet site.  It is clear that the followers of Crossfit have taken offence.  Once again, I am not here to offend but share interesting information.  I would like this to open discussing and see the comments this article creates.