Strength Performance Network

John Mikula's Blog (188)

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…


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

Learning Context

The context in which we learn is highly important, but sometimes it impairs our development as a coach and how we help shape the future of athletes.  Learning context refers to the environment and/or situation in which knowledge and behavior is developed.  This association can be very strong and motivating in regards to future learning and perceptions.  It can open doors to learning, but close them, too.

Contextual learning…


Added by John Mikula on August 20, 2017 at 11:30am — No Comments

Training Smarter

Who the heck doesn't want to train smarter?  We all do, don't we?  At least we should, but on further review I don't know if many entities out there really want to train smarter.  I guess some do as long as it doesn't involve changing anything currently being done.  A more correct statement would be, "Who the heck doesn't want to look cooler when training?"  That's probably more correct.

There's a ton wrong with that train of…


Added by John Mikula on August 13, 2017 at 7:46pm — No Comments

Adapt and Survive

I don't think I can emphasize enough that the purpose of an athletic or tactical strength and conditioning program is to facilitate adaptation on some level.  The term adaptation means that an alteration has occurred in the structure or function of an organism to increase the chance of survival.  Now, we see this on-going all around us everyday in plants and animals, but with humans the change is sometimes less…


Added by John Mikula on July 23, 2017 at 4:00pm — No Comments

Prediction Models

What are training variable models that we can work towards tying to predict?  It's not easy to do; yet, its a highly valuable commodity.  Don't think so, just go ask about every team in the NFL who has been riddled with injuries during the past few seasons.  How did lack of training prediction models affect athletes' injury rates, performance, outcomes, team revenue, and coach's job security?

The easier route is just to take…


Added by John Mikula on July 9, 2017 at 7:30pm — No Comments

Training Grid


Added by John Mikula on July 3, 2017 at 10:00pm — No Comments

Purpose and Function

What's the purpose for your training?  What's the reason for why you train the way you do?

A. It's the way everyone else does

B. I read it in a book

C. I saw it on the internet

D. To meet the specific strength and conditioning needs of athletes 

What's the…


Added by John Mikula on July 1, 2017 at 10:18am — No Comments

A Few Observations

Here are a few observations from the past few years working with athletes and coaches:

1.  At the high school level, a football mentality seems to pervade as the training model for many athletes.

2.  Outside of the notion of Olympic weightlifting, there is a huge lack of diversely experienced and knowledgeable strength and conditioning coaches at all levels.

3.  Strength and conditioning coaches should be more proactive about preventing injuries through training rather…


Added by John Mikula on June 5, 2017 at 8:05am — No Comments

The Limitations of Specificity

Specificity really has its roots in the area of motor learning.  The Theory of Specificity of Motor Learning suggests that for motor skills to carry over outside of the practice environment, learning and development of the skills must resemble the environment that the motor skills are to be used in outside of the practice environment.  In the exercise realm, this theory has been broadened to include the same concept in…


Added by John Mikula on May 27, 2017 at 10:30pm — No Comments

Creating Counter Measures

NASA goes to great lengths to develop the physical-fitness of astronauts. As part of this program, astronauts go through exercise counter-measures training to help deal with the effects of being in space, specifically dealing with micro-gravity. Exercise is used in this capacity prior to a space-mission and for a lengthy period after to help the astronaut recovery from space-stress.

So, why don't we have a similar mindset to developing athletes? For sure, we're full onboard with the… Continue

Added by John Mikula on May 19, 2017 at 8:07am — No Comments

Base Camp

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I think for most competitive athletes and certainly most tactical warriors base fitness is a necessity. Yet, base fitness and programs that emphasize this aspect of strength and conditioning get little air-play. Just talking about base-fitness doesn't sound glamorous, does it?

However, a base level of physical strength and endurance should underlie just about every strength and conditioning program. It's what we should build on and return to, no different… Continue

Added by John Mikula on May 17, 2017 at 7:51am — No Comments

Right Effort, Wrong Direction

Think about this, I could put in my blood, sweat, and tears in my training as an athlete, but if the effort is headed in the wrong direction, it is somewhat of a futile effort.  I think it's too easy as a strength and conditioning coach to focus on variables rather than the endgame of the athlete (right direction). 

What is the training endgame of the athlete?  To potentially better produce during competition, right.  Now, I'm…


Added by John Mikula on May 1, 2017 at 8:00pm — No Comments

Physical Fitness

Wikipedia defines physical fitness as a measure of the human body's ability to function efficiently and effectively in work and leisure activities, to be healthy, to resist hypokinetic diseases, and to meet emergency situations.

I like this definition of physical fitness.  It describes what we're trying to achieve in many situations by employing strength training and conditioning activities.  I'll say…


Added by John Mikula on April 24, 2017 at 7:00pm — No Comments

Athletes and Injury Counseling

Well, last week marked another week with a trend that I'd care not to see.  Another week talking with athletes, former athletes, and others who are getting injured while training.  It really perplexes me to the point that I just don't get it.  I mean if an athlete is getting hurt while training, then why shift the blame to the athlete?  At some point, a prudent coach has to take a look at her or himself and query maybe its something I'm doing?…


Added by John Mikula on April 23, 2017 at 8:30pm — No Comments

Working Backwards

Steve Jobs had a saying something to the effect that before you develop the technology, you need to understand the customer experience and work backward from there.

Strength and conditioning coaches could learn from this. Instead of just developing pathways to develop… Continue

Added by John Mikula on April 17, 2017 at 7:48am — No Comments

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