Strength Performance Network

John Mikula's Blog (202)

3 Dynamics

I think there are 3 dynamics of athletic-based strength and conditioning that have to be accounted for regardless of the setting, "Physical Fitness, Healthiness, and Readiness." 

Physical fitness is somewhat of a transient term because it's always evolving (progressing/maintaining/regressing) during a training cycle.  Some qualify baseline fitness using maximum oxygen consumption while others use poundage or expressions of power as a means of…


Added by John Mikula on September 22, 2018 at 1:18pm — No Comments

Good-bye Dr. Ravizza

Last week, sports psychologist Dr. Ken Ravizza passed away unexpectedly.  I really admired Dr. Ravizza's teachings and tried to integrate them into my professional practice.  Over time, I came to realize the huge value in his simply teachings and the significant impact these had on my strength and conditioning practice in terms of producing outcomes.  

God bless, Dr. Ravizza, you will be sorely…


Added by John Mikula on July 15, 2018 at 6:41am — No Comments

Gauging Response

How do you gauge response from exercise?  It's an important topic for athletes and one that doesn't come-up too often.  Personally, I prefer to try and get feedback from athletes on a workout by workout basis regarding how they're feeling (healthy, ok, not healthy). 

At first, I think many athletes are reluctant to provide this information for fear of how they may be viewed, but over time and when trust is built I've…


Added by John Mikula on May 30, 2018 at 8:31pm — No Comments

Tactical Athletes?


Added by John Mikula on May 28, 2018 at 9:16am — No Comments

A Few Definitions

Here's a few definitions that have a lot of meaning in training:

Organism: a form of life made up of mutually interdependent parts that maintain vital processes.

Machine: an apparatus consisting of interrelated parts with separate functions used in the performance of work.

Interesting how these two words are similar, but vastly different.  Yet, in the training world the connotation is often to train the body like a machine.  In all…


Added by John Mikula on May 16, 2018 at 9:25pm — No Comments

Training Mechanisms

It doesn't matter what your training for, the reality is that all training is specific to how and in what manner you train.  That's pretty simple right?  I prudent review of comprehensive literature supports this notion.  In this context, using exercises like barbell squats to improve sprint speed almost makes zero sense.  Why, sure barbell squats can improve leg strength, but so can a lot of other exercises.  In a very, very minimal sense barbell squats don't…


Added by John Mikula on March 3, 2018 at 7:17am — No Comments

Notecards: Pre-Hab

I use the heck out of notecards for just about every aspect of strength and conditioning planning.  They are compact and easy to use; however, unformatted notecards can be uninviting to use.  So, I design and format my own cards and put them in my Coach's Companion planner.  

This card is formatted for a pre-hab circuit.  Pre-hab is a very important aspect of comprehensive strength and conditioning.  In some cases,…


Added by John Mikula on March 3, 2018 at 6:48am — No Comments

White Boards

I like to use whiteboards when facilitating physical training.  They serve as a constructive piece of communication and can be quite an effective teaching aid.  I format my whiteboards so that session information can be coordinated in the way I want it to be facilitated.  I also like to use magnets with my mobile boards so that I can hang them up and free my hands to teach and/or demonstrate.…


Added by John Mikula on March 3, 2018 at 6:34am — No Comments

Making Some Training Sense

I love to train.  I love to teach and coach, too.  I just have a keen interest in the whole process.  Having said this, I find myself examining some strength and conditioning practices and am having difficulty making sense of training.

I don't believe the process should be too complicated in helping prepare others to do battle, functional as a tactical operator, or compete on the athletic playing field.  An elemental…


Added by John Mikula on February 15, 2018 at 6:34pm — No Comments

Tug of War

I'm not a big fan of tug of war type activities.  Yeah, this is a popular team building and "toughness" type of event in strength and conditioning for athletes, but one not without potential for injury (I know it looks cool).  There are a lot of other modalities that can easily take the place of tug of war.  I'd like to ask what are the gains from this activity?  What are the risks?  Compared to other things coaches can do to engage in spirited team-building do…


Added by John Mikula on January 25, 2018 at 6:32pm — No Comments

The Runner's Body

One book that I keep re-reading and referring to others is The Runner's Body by Tucker, Dugas, and Fitzgerald.   The title is a little deceptive although running is the premise for the book, the information contained is somewhat global.  To me, this is a must read for any coach interested in a systems-based approach to…


Added by John Mikula on January 11, 2018 at 6:58pm — 1 Comment

Sports Fit?

What does it mean to be physically fit for your sport?  If you think you know, what are your references based off of?  Personal experience, got it from a book, learned from someone else, comes from a computer program?  Have you matched up the sources above with actual outcomes?

Shouldn't we, as coaches, be asking ourselves the simple question of "sports-fitness" over and over again and compare that to what we…


Added by John Mikula on January 11, 2018 at 6:51pm — No Comments

Training Curves and The Growth Mindset

Training (human development) is like plotting points on a curve, right?  So, where are you on the curve?  Where is your process and the athletes you work with?  Are you more on the side of the curve plotted with "fixed" training and beliefs, i.e., there's only one way to train?  Or, are you more on the side of the curve plotted towards "continual growth" i.e., a growth mindset?

One individual that I really enjoy…


Added by John Mikula on December 16, 2017 at 1:00pm — No Comments

Understand Systems, then Understand Athletes

The harnessing of the human body into a specific pathway for athletic or tactical production is a complex process.  Personally, I think one that starts with examining human systems, first, then understanding the needs of the athlete.  Ultimately, we should try and make sense of the performance continuum (prep, practice, performance) and how the related stress affects individual human systems. …


Added by John Mikula on December 16, 2017 at 12:44pm — No Comments

Generating New Ideas

I kind of think training is all about generating ideas and following up on them to see if they're usable in the context of each situation.  Ideas take time to develop and usually involve not just thought and reflection, but something or someone to bounce those thoughts off of. 

For me, I try and work my training thoughts out within the context of those I train with during my own workouts long before I commit to using them with…


Added by John Mikula on November 4, 2017 at 10:00am — No Comments

Preparation is the Key

The human body is very complex.  Training it for sports, battle, and life requires some considerable thought, effort, and reflection.  I like the research method approach whereas I prescribe training elements, evaluate their effectiveness and outcomes, and make judgements as far as how to adapt.…


Added by John Mikula on October 1, 2017 at 7:30am — No Comments

Considering Function

It would be foolish to not consider function during training, but the dynamic understanding and intent of function-ability can easily be misunderstood.  Case in point, we have functional training, but often these modalities are just physical therapy exercises or Yoga poses that pertain to these settings.  We have functional movement screens, great, but again the value outside of clinical applications of highlighting injury or potential for injury is not clearly…


Added by John Mikula on September 17, 2017 at 11:50am — No Comments

Compared to What?

I think it's invaluable to be able to compare training progress and process especially with similar entities. There's are a lot of dynamics at play which contribute to why something works in one situation and not in another.  "Works" meaning the training makes a measurable difference in relation to the intended outcome.  For example, if the intended outcome of a training program is to help produce hardy, more dynamic athletes how would I know if training contributed…


Added by John Mikula on September 13, 2017 at 7:37pm — No Comments

What to Reward

Reward drives human behavior.  Undoubtedly, fitness is a behavior.   Ultimately, we'd like athletes' behavior to be driven more by intrinsic or internal rewards than by external sources, but this type of thinking takes time to develop.  

So, what can we extrinsically reward in terms of fitness behavior?  Here's a place where the prudent coach really has to put some effort into thinking about the big picture.  The trap…


Added by John Mikula on September 11, 2017 at 8:52pm — No Comments

Adapt and Survive defines the word adapt as the ability to adjust oneself to different conditions, environment, ect.  Charles Darwin suggested that adaptation is more of a causal factor for survival than strength or intelligence.  I've come to believe he was right.  The ability…


Added by John Mikula on September 2, 2017 at 9:00pm — No Comments

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