I had the good fortune to attend the Elite Training Workshop seminar this past Sunday, April 21st, in Hudson, MA up at Cressey Performance. The presenters were Eric Cressey & Tony Gentilcore of Cressey Performance, Mike Robertson of I-FAST, Mike Reinold (Boston Red Sox team physical therapist), Dave Schmitz, Steve Long, and Jared Woolever. Each presentation was outstanding.

Here are five of my favorite ‘big picture’ observations, lessons, or tips from Elite Training Workshop – Boston.

1 – Everybody deserves (and wants) to train like an athlete.

Mike Robertson talked about this with regards to coaching style and client mentality. Training to improve athleticism encompasses all of our fitness goals: strength, power, mobility, flexibility, and even physique. People tend to separate athlete training from general fitness training, and that’s a mistake. Everything we do in a training session (strength training, power training, foam rolling, mobility work, conditioning) will make you a better athlete, whether you’re a football player or a busy mom.

He also set this up as a great way to segue into long term goals for people with physique goals. Often times, people feel ‘hollow’ or incomplete after reaching a physique goal. Athleticism can be the cure! I love this concept so much that I’m motivated to write a longer post on this, with local solutions for adult athletes.

Who doesn’t want to look, feel, and perform like an athlete? Who doesn’t want to regain how strong they felt playing sports in high school or college? A good training program should make you feel that way!

2 – Athletes train for power, and so should everybody (especially grandma).

Mike Robertson spoke about incorporating power training into all of his clients. I’ve heard Brad Schoenfeld and Alwyn & Rachel Cosgrove emphasize this as well. Power decreases annually as we age. Inactivity only causes a further decrease. The bad news is that power is critical for balance as it relates to injury prevention. The good news is that power improves through strength and specific power training.

Obviously, everybody will train for power differently. Stronger, more experienced clients and athletes may Olympic lift and perform athletic bounds and leaps. For a beginner, this could simply mean squat hops, medicine ball slams and tosses, and a “fast feet” drill. For a grandmother, this could be rapidly standing up from a chair repeatedly or tossing a light ball. As Dave Schmitz pointed out, band training provides several joint-friendly power training options.

3 – The continued importance of mobility and full ranges of motion

Gray Cook, FMS creator, teaches that mobility precedes stability. Similarly, the concept of ‘neutrality’ was mentioned by several presenters (Cressey, Robertson, Gentilcore, & Reinold). Basically, it’s important to return to a neutral position each workout. This is accomplished during the warm up, but strength training choices should support a return to a neutral posture. This varies by the individual. A desk worker with a hunching upper back and rounded shoulders will need a different approach than a baseball player with depressed shoulder blades. By creating programs to reinforce proper alignment, the risk of injury is decreased. Think of it as ensuring that your strength training improves your posture (and appearance), rather than feeds into the habits that make it worse.

4 – Pelvic posture may be more about stability than position.

This is a takeaway that I found especially interesting. Core stability was a major focus of the seminar, especially the anterior core and its relationship with the hip and shoulder. One comment was that with pelvic positioning, it’s difficult to maintain a neutral position as we’re constantly using the hips when walking or standing. This makes it much harder to ‘correct’ than shoulder posture. Especially since athletes tend to be in an extended posture by nature of activity. The scales are simply tilted the other way.

In that vein, it was mentioned that its important to develop stability and control through the pelvis. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to factor pelvic positioning into exercise selection, but it may be more important to stabilize the pelvis through core stability training than to aim for ‘perfect’ positioning. It’s also important to remember that pelvic neutral is a range of degrees, not an absolute position.

5 – The result is more important than the method.

This is something that I’ve come to appreciate lately as a strength coach. Namely, it’s important to keep the result/adaptation/goal in mind when selecting a method. Cressey & Robertson mentioned Posture Restoration Institute as a major method when designing mobility work for their clients, but they also mentioned other equally beneficial methods that their colleagues use. Reinold spoke often about the principles outweighing the exercises. He focused on addressing a need, and then providing multiple solutions. It became less about what an exercise can do, and more about what needs to be done.

When working with clients, I’ve come to appreciate this mindset. If the goal is slimmer arms and legs, there are several ways to achieve that. Rather than focusing on training styles – bodybuilder, kettlebell, CrossFit, powerlifting, functional – focus on a result, an adaptation, and select the best path to it. I borrow methods from everybody, as long as they support the client’s desired result.

I learned quite a bit this past Sunday and focused on ‘big picture’ items for this writeup. If you’re curious about the technical portions of the seminar, I’d recommend visiting their websites to get the full story!