Gallagher Performance Blog

On The Use of Deep Squats and Intense Conditioning with Athletes

Lately, we have faced a number of questions regarding two subjects:

1)   Why don’t we make our athletes perform full, deep squats?
To be very clear on the subject, it all comes back to the understanding of how different movements and work outputs affect your training goal.

Technique manipulation can have a tremendous impact on training outcomes. When it comes to the training of athletes, training outcomes must ensure high level of competitive performance in their primary sport(s). The considerations one makes when training for pure strength and power will be completely different from the individual training for maximal muscular hypertrophy. When training for strength and power, you want to set yourself in a position for the greatest mechanical advantage. An individual’s greatest mechanical advantage will also be influenced by their anthropometry. This becomes the context of making coaching decisions that will dictate technique and variations used in movements such as squats, deadlifts, presses, and Olympic lifts.

In sport, one can argue that there is some level of sport-specificity in utilizing ½ and ¾ squats as they may provide a greater transfer of training into the dynamics of certain sporting movements. Keep in mind that auxiliary or supplemental work in the training program must ensure muscular/connective tissue health and balance.

This is not to say we don’t utilize a full, deep squats. Some of our athletes are more than capable of performing them. For others, there is a greater risk to reward ratio and greater sporting outcomes can be realized with squat variations that impose less structural risk.

It really comes down to selecting the best tools for the job and removing the variables that don’t have a place in an athlete’s long-term goals.

2)   Why don’t we use intense conditioning work with our athletes?
Understand that the adaptations an athlete undergoes from both a neuromuscular and energy system (aerobic and anaerobic) viewpoint will always be influenced by the structure of training load and volume in a given program.

“Explosive, not tired.”
At GP, that is a concept we communicate to all our athletes, but still this is a concept many of them have a hard time understanding. Many come to us with the goals of being bigger, stronger, and faster. They want it all and convincing how the process really works, through intelligent conversation, is a challenge.

Flash forward several weeks into the program and these same athletes are bigger, stronger, and faster through intelligent program design and execution. All aspects of the training program align with their goals and their bioenergetic (energy system) demands relative to their sport. There is conditioning work, but it is structured best to according to their needs. Conditioning work doesn’t have to push you face first into a pile of your own sweat and vomit.

Nowadays, young athletes assume conditioning and speed are the same and that by improving their conditioning, they will get faster. For many athletes, suicides and gassers come to mind. Intense practices run by coaches for no other reason that to make their players work hard also comes to mind. Players are instructed to sprint with minimal rest, pushed to exhaustion. Many trainers and "programs" utilize high-intensity conditioning methods. Sure you want your athletes to last an entire game and not get out worked, but this will not get them faster. Actually, it is counter-productive if speed is the objective since it is physiologically impossible to perform at your maximal effort without adequate rest.  And it doesn’t ensure that they will be in the best condition either.

There is such thing as training parameters and workload capability. These concepts demand consideration when training athletes. Sadly, if you asked the majority of trainers and coaches what those two terms mean, you learn pretty quickly that you are talking to yourself. True speed is only developed at near maximal effort. Maximal effort depletes energy systems and strains the nervous system. All these need adequate time to recover between sprints. This must be monitored closely to ensure that a speed training session does not become a conditioning workout. Conversely, conditioning work must follow guidelines designed to help athlete’s maximize their conditioning without disrupting other aspects of performance.  If conditioning training is performed at too high of an intensity, the training not only inefficiently conditions the athlete but can also interfere with speed performance and development. It will also interfere with strength and power development as well.

Are you getting the picture?

The very same athletes who want speed, strength, and size must understand that intense, non-directed conditioning only serves to inefficiently condition you and interfere with the goals and needs required for sport success. This is not our opinion; this is fundamental sport and exercise science.

Conditioning is a primary component in our training programs, for any athlete. However, conditioning takes on different looks due to the various energy system demands for the individual athlete. Conditioning is tailored to their needs. Just because a coach crushes them in practice with endless gassers, it doesn’t mean they are suddenly out of shape.

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Does Practice Make Permanent? How Practice Rewires Your Nervous System

In our younger years, many of us likely heard the expression “Practice Makes Perfect.” This usually came from a parent, coach, or teacher. Some took the saying a step further, adding “Perfect Practice Makes Perfect.” Some even say, "Practice Makes Permanent". Regardless, still the message was clear – if you want to improve, you need to put in some time and focused effort. You need to practice.

But is all about simply practicing or do we need to have a different focus?

Research has provided a better understanding of how practice influences skill development, helping us understand how the nervous system is rewired during the process. While there are many components to consider during the process of motor learning and skill acquisition, in this article we will be discussing how a unique tissue to the nervous system called myelin plays a critical role in the acquisition and mastery of skills.

Practice Rewires the Nervous System
When we are exposed to a movement or sport skill that is new or unfamiliar, the result is typically feeling awkward and uncoordinated. To some degree, we may be apprehensive. This is normal and to be expected. But, as we practice, something happens. Things get smoother, we feel more comfortable, and the movement/skill becomes more natural.

What is happening?

What practice is actually doing is rewiring your nervous system to become more efficient during complex movement tasks through a process called myelination.

The Role of Myelin
Understanding all the intricacies of the nervous system is not the point of this article, but a little background will be helpful. Myelin is a tissue that covers our neurons, the cells that make up the nervous system. Myelin is mostly a fatty substance, with cholesterol being an essential component. It serves to insulate nerve cells and has a characteristic “white” appearance. This is why most people refer to myelin as “white matter” when discussing the nervous system. What science has helped us understand is that myelin improves the speed and strength of nerve signals, meaning that myelinated nerves transmit signals faster than non-myelinated nerves. Myelin helps our nervous system function at a higher level.

Ok, so how do we get myelin onto our nerves?

To begin with, the majority of myelination occurs during the early stages of development. These stages of development occur during the 2-3 years after birth and into early childhood. Children are myelin-generating machines. This can be seen not only in respect to movement, but also with language and comprehension skills as well. Where there is development, you will find myelin. This is why there are critical developmental stages that exist in long-term athletic developmental (LTAD) models. LTAD models help us understand that we cannot make up for lost time. Sure, as we get older we can continue to generate myelin, but it happens at a slower rate and requires more effort. This is why most young athletes who miss critical developmental stages tend to get passed up later in their athletic careers.

So what’s the big deal about critical developmental stages?

It provides children with graded exposure to skills through practice and repetition. The process of practice and repeated effort triggers a pattern of signals through our nervous system. With time and repetition, myelin is produced to increase the speed, strength, and coordination of these nerve signals. It’s a streamlining effect that your nervous system undergoes due to exposure to a repeated sensory stimulus and motor (movement) output.

Practice Makes Myelin, So Practice With Purpose
Understanding the role of myelination in skill acquisition has tremendous implications. Yes, volume and frequency of practice matters, but myelination makes a case for understanding why quality of practice matters. Practicing with an extreme focus on quality is equally, if not more important, than simply practicing a lot. Don’t just practice to practice. Corrections should be made as they are needed. You don’t want to spent the majority of your time practicing bad habits, as bad habits are hard to correct. Bad habits arguably are not permanent. However, the longer they exist, the harder they are to unlearn. Myelin is a big reason why.

In the context of training and sport skill development, if you lift/sprint/jump/practice with poor technique and no one corrects your mistakes, you will be myelinating those nerve pathways – which does you no good and only serves to lowering your athletic potential. Sure you may improve, but you will never reach your true potential. And the longer your bad habits remain, the harder it is to correct them.

The takeaway: practice of movement skills over time causes specific neural pathways to work better via myelination. To improve your performance, you not only need to practice FREQUENTLY, you also must practice CORRECTLY and receive plenty of feedback from a qualified coach so you are able to properly develop your movement and sport skills.
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Stay Strong and Heal Faster While Injured

Injuries are a part of sport and life. It is an unfortunate reality and a lesson some encounter with greater frequency than others. I have had my fair share of injuries as well. The reason why I am writing this post is because of my most recent injury.

Over the past 14 weeks, I have been prepping for a strongman competition in Iowa on May 16. The training cycle had been going smoothly and I was feeling good heading into the final days before my taper. Four days ago, I pulled my left bicep during tire flips. The tire flip is one event that is notorious for causing bicep injuries due to the large amount of mechanical stress it places on the biceps. Fortunately, I did not suffer a complete tear, no surgery needed. However, competing is out of the question. When you are self-employed and your job requires the uses of your hands, there is no need for any further set backs.

For some, injuries mean down time from training. They see injuries as an obstacle. Not in my mind. An obstacle is what you see when you take your eyes off the goal. There are still ways to train around injuries. Sure, I will not be able to do anything stressful with my left arm for 3-6 weeks, but I can still get a powerful training stimulus from a incorporating squat and single-leg variations for lower body strength, jumps/bounds/hops for more intensive CNS stimulus, and training my non-injured arm to help maintain strength and speed recovery of my injured arm.
Wait….what? Training your non-injured arm helps to keep your injured arm strong and heal faster?
There is truth to that statement. The phenomenon I am referring to is known as “cross-education”. It is well established that to minimize the effects of detraining, performing single-side training with the non-injured limb (upper or lower body) will allow you to maintain strength and accelerate healing in the injured limb.

Cross-education occurs when you strength train a limb on one side of the body. The result is an increase in strength in the opposite limb on the other side of the body due to neural adaptations. Cross-education appears to be effective for all muscles and joints of the body, from shoulders and hips to ankles and wrists.

A study published in the Journal of Exercise Science and Fitness demonstrated that strength gains in the untrained limb are typically in the range of 5 – 25% depending on if that limb dominance. Strength gains average around 35 – 60% increase in the trained limb. Additionally, it appears that less range of motion will be lost in the injured limb due to the cross-education effect – another major benefit.

There are other studies on the subject of cross-education, but still cross-education is not completely understood. Strength gains in the injured limb are most likely due to neuromuscular adaptations and increased neural drive to the untrained muscle. A similar hypothesis is improved motor control because training the healthy limb results in recruitment of high-threshold motor units in both limbs. Keep in mind, there is no evidence of hypertrophy (muscle growth) or changes in muscle fiber types in the injured limb following single-side training.

Cross-education highlights the importance of single-limb exercises during training and rehabilitation from injury. Helping clients or athletes understand cross-education may encourage them to continue an exercise routine during time of injury, as it can help maintain strength and speed recovery. Cross-education is a perfect illustration of how one can turn a weakness into a strength through focused training efforts.

Lee, M., Carroll, T. Cross-Education: Possible Mechanisms for the Contralateral Effects of Unilateral Resistance Training. Sports Medicine. 2007. 37(1), 1-14.
Zhou, Shi. Cross-Education and Neuromuscular Adaptations During Early Stage of Strength Training. Journal of Exercise Science and Fitness. 2003. 1(1), 54-60.
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Gallagher Performance - Staff Bios

For many of our readers, you may not be aware of the specialized background that Gallagher Performance has in personal training, athletic development, chiropractic rehabilitation, manual therapies, and sports-injury care.

Whether you are pursuing professional services for personal/performance-based training or you’re thinking of seeing a health professional about a sports injury, Gallagher Performance has two board-certified specialists who are capable of addressing your goals and needs.

Meet the Staff

Ryan Gallagher LMT, NASM-CES: Head Performance Coach
Ryan Gallagher is the Head Performance Coach and a Licensed Massage Therapist at Gallagher Performance. Ryan has quickly established himself as a highly sought after coach for athletic development, helping athletes achieve new performance bests while implementing specialized strategies along with manual therapy to keep his athlete’s healthy during their competitive and off-seasons.

Ryan has been involved in the fitness and sports performance industry since 2007. During that time, he has worked extensively with youth, high school, collegiate, and professional athletes. He has also worked with competitive strength athletes in powerlifting and Strongman, as well as physique athletes (bodybuilding, figure, and bikini).

Ryan is certified as a Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES) through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and is also a Nationally Certified Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management with a concentration in Wellness and Fitness from California University of Pennsylvania.

To compliment his educational background, Ryan is an accomplished athlete in the sports of ice hockey, bodybuilding, powerlifting, and Strongman. HIs diverse athletic and educational background provide Ryan with an highly extensive and unique skill set that allows him to efficiently and effectively help his clients achieve their goals while staying healthy in the process.

Sean Gallagher DC, DACRB, NASM-PES: Director of Sports Therapy, Performance Coach
Dr. Sean Gallagher is the Director of Sports Therapy and also serves as a Performance Coach at Gallagher Performance. In 2009, Sean earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, IA. Prior to attending Palmer, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Exercise & Sports Science from Ohio University.

After graduating from Palmer, Sean entered a residency program in Palmer College of Chiropractic’s Sports Injury & Rehabilitation Department. The residency is the only one of its kind within a chiropractic college in the United States. Under the direction of former Olympian, Dave Juehring DC, DACRB, CSCS and Ranier Pavlicek DC, ATC, DACRB, CSCS, the residency provided Sean the opportunity to further the development of clinical skills in the realm of diagnosis, treatment and management of sport-related injuries. During this time, he received extensive training in manual therapies and developmental stabilization methods influenced by the German and Czech rehabilitation schools.

Sean graduated from his residency and completed his board certification in 2012, making him one of a select few chiropractors in the country that have successfully completed a rehabilitation and sports-injury residency. He is a board certified rehabilitation specialist through the American Chiropractic Rehabilitation Board (ACRB) that abides by the standards set out by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

To compliment his clinical training and experience, Sean also serves as a Performance Coach with years of experience working with athletes of all abilities and is a certified Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES) through NASM. He is an accomplished athlete in the sports of ice hockey and Strongman. During his time at Ohio University, he was part of the 2004 ACHA D1 National Championship team. In 2001, he was named to the NHL’s Central Scouting Service “Top 10” High School players in the US and was ranked among the top players in North America (US and Canada). As a competitive amateur Strongman, he has won or placed in several NAS sanctioned competitions since 2010 and was a National qualifier in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Our staff welcomes the opportunity to get you back to 100% and help you reach your fitness or performance-related goals. When you think of sports performance training and chiropractic rehabilitative care in the Pittsburgh area, remember the team of experts at Gallagher Performance.


Are You Promoting Independence?

As a chiropractor, I often treat people who have already exhausted all of their insurance money from seeing other chiropractors and/or physical therapists. They come to me out-of-pocket and immediately expect me to do significantly more in one or two visits than the previous professional(s) did after the 12-20 visits that drained their insurance benefits.

I’ve routinely accepted the challenge and many times I’ve closed their case in 2-4 visits by having them listen to advice, advice that addresses underlying issues previously missed or ignored by other providers. Yes, I am a chiropractor and I will adjust and perform manual therapy as needed. But the difference maker time and time again has been the time focused on education directed at independence. Promoting independence on the patient’s behalf is a game changer. This is why I feel so strongly that empowering a patient should be the focus behind therapy and prescribed home programs. As patients discover how they are able to better themselves, their compliance becomes a non-issue and outcomes drastically improve.

The opportunity to educate others is a responsibility that should never be taken lightly. As a provider, the methods utilized to accurately assess a patient’s condition and direct treatment must also serve to improve provider-patient education and accountability.

Gray Cook places this perspective into words very well:
“Our current medical and physical cultures are wasting a lot of time and not creating independence in our clients or our patients. Do we want them to be well and go tell others about their experience or do we want them to keep returning as continual consumers? At what point does wasting time conflict with an oath to do no harm?”
Are you wasting your patient’s time?
One of the fundamental challenges within healthcare is that the human body is a complex adaptive system composed of several interacting parts that are continually changing in response to the stimulus from the environment. This complexity makes understanding the human body a difficult task. Unfortunately, some healthcare providers find reality too complex and would rather repeat the same routine evaluations and treatment over and over again to fit their own skill set rather than truly diagnosing a patient’s condition before administering treatment. This is where providers should question their principles. Are you doing the same thing over and over? Are you so ritualized that your care lacks individualized attention? Are you wasting your patient’s time because you keep missing their problem?

The very essence of what we do is problem solving. Before you can solve a problem, you first must identify what is relevant. On most patients, you can find any number of problems, but it is the relevant problems that are the key. To find relevant problems, you must have a reliable method. The foundation for any method is knowledge and experience. Knowledge and experience that is rooted in understanding how basic science (anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, etc.), pathology, assessment (orthopedics, technique, imaging, etc.), and treatment all integrate.

I’m continually shocked and disappointed when speaking with a new patient who has been told by previous providers that their symptoms “Don’t make sense.” When it comes to musculoskeletal (MS) care, everything makes sense. It may be extremely complex, but it makes sense. If something doesn’t make sense to you, then you don’t understand it well enough. Make changes. Take a more detailed history. Change your perspective. Perform a more detailed assessment. Expand your knowledge base. Do something different.

Never dismiss a patient as not making sense.

As a physical medicine provider, it is your job to have a knowledge base that is large enough to encompass the overwhelming majority of MS problems and conservative interventions. If you don’t, chances are you will suffer along with your patients because your knowledge base is not sufficient enough to diagnose their problems.

Diagnosis must have accuracy and completeness. It must include a pain generator and the relevant problems or dysfunctions. These must be put into context for the patient so they can understand how they came to be the way they are. This is critical as it provides the framework for the education and advice you provide your patient.

Ultimately, that very same framework serves to empower your patients to become more independent. The process is about transitioning them from dependence on you as the provider to an independent patient who truly understands their problem, how to go about fixing it, and the steps needed to prevent recurrent issues in the future.

Final Words
I’m not trying to do anything in my work at Gallagher Performance that is unheard of, but it is still rather uncommon. For my conscience, I would rather create independence than be routine. I also feel that this conscience is growing among healthcare providers and that it is a mindset patients desire to see from their provider.

Promote independence. Your patients will thank you.

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GP Client Testimonial - Shaun Davis

I first started working with Sean, at Gallagher Performance, due to an injury to my back/SI Joint in 2014. The injury occurred December of 2013 and I went through almost a year of physical therapy and other doctor appointments before coming to Sean to fix the problem. Sean realized what the problem was and started giving me a combination of chiropractic adjustments and specific exercises to strengthen the area and eliminate the problem.

Over the time when I was injured, I was unable to do anything overly physical. The worst thing that can ever happen to a former athlete is to realize that they can no longer be athletic. I needed to do something more, so I came back to Sean immediately and had him write me up a plan and provide one on one guidance to help me achieve my fitness goals. Sean prescribed a rigorous training program that challenged me day in and day out. I noticed results very quickly and within 12 weeks, I felt better than I had felt in the past 10 years!

I am still going strong with Sean's plans and I look forward to seeing what the future brings using the PROVEN Gallagher Performance methods. Sean single handedly took me from a stale couch potato and he has given me back my manhood! Thanks to Sean I feel like an athlete again. I would recommend Gallagher Performance to ANYBODY looking to get in better shape! They are the best around, hands down!
-Shaun Davis

Random Thoughts on Sports Training

Had a couple quick thoughts on sports performance training that I wanted to share, so here it goes….

1. Advanced athletes don't always need Special Developmental Exercises (SDE)
One of the more popular trends in the fitness industry is “sport specific training”. While the training of advanced athletes must always consider the specifics of their sport, this does not always mean they need advanced exercises. For the young athlete and athletes with minimal training experience, there is no need for advanced exercises or the “Train like the Pros” mentality. This is generally well understood. However, when it comes to high-level athletes or athletes with several yeasrs of training experience, coaches/trainers may assume that they need highly innovative, cutting edge training. Parents can also fall into this trap as well due to marketing tactics. The truth is that they need the basics too. They need the basics just like everyone else. In some cases, they may need a lot of the basics. It can be surprising how poorly some high-level athletes move when they are removed from sport.

With that said, keep in mind that high-level athletes generally have the ability to adapt very quickly to repeated exposure to a given stimulus.  They have the ability to make dramatic improvements from week to week in terms of quality of movement, strength, and power development. This ability is a huge reason as to why they are such gifted athletes. The value of Special Developmental Exercises (SDE) in the preparation of high-level athletes for sport competition cannot be understated, but nothing can take the place of sound coaching that utilizes effective program variations and additions to meet the ever-changing complexities of the individual. When it comes to high-level athletes, programs may need to be updated at higher frequencies to promote continual development of the desired physical attributes the athlete needs. These updates should never be random, but applied with purpose and intent to promote continual development.

At the end of the day, some high-level athletes may be better served by training that focuses on the basics and laying a foundation for continual development through proper periodization rather than concentrating their training on fancy, innovative training methods.

2. Where you “feel " the exercise is just as important as how the exercise “looks”
We all know therapists, trainers, and gym gurus who preach “technique, technique, technique”. The importance of technique does not need repeated, but the idea of textbook technique may be more of a myth than fact. Technique, like exercise programming, should not be handled "one-size fits all" fashion. How an exercise "looks" is important, but what is too often forgotten in regards to exercise is where that individual "feels" the movement. For example, you observe an athlete performing a movement with what appears to be “perfect technique”, yet they do not “feel” the movement activating muscles in the right places. This example also highlights why feedback from an athlete can be extremely valuable. It is extremely valuable to know where your client/athlete “feels” the exercise. Don't just assume they are feeling proper muscle activation all because the exercise “looked good” from a technique viewpoint. Helping the client/athlete to "feel" the exercise while maintaining proper technique simply comes down to coaching, tweaking technique, and/or finding the right cues to promote the visual imagery necessary for them to connect their brain to the movement.
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Learning Through Misconceptions

After the recent posting of Two Years at Gallagher Performance, we received a generous amount of positive feedback. You all are too kind and please know that we truly appreciate it. Along with your feedback, we received a number of messages from people wanting to know, "What have you learned?"

That question really got my mind going. Honestly, another year in business teaches you a great deal. Certainly a simple sentence or two would not be sufficient to answer the question.

All things considered, this past year has provided several friendly reminders of why we do what we do at GP. Some of the biggest lessons learned came in the form of routinely dispelling common misconceptions when it comes to owning and operating your own business in the competitive health and fitness/training industry.

So, for your entertainment, we present to you our thoughts on a few misconceptions that we routinely encounter.

Misconception #1 – We work “Banker’s Hours”
One of the biggest misunderstandings we have come across is that professionals in the fields of health or fitness work Monday-Friday, 9-5 or that they work minimal hours a day to operate and fulfill the needs  of the business. In reality, owning your own small business is a 24/7, 365 days a year responsibility. When you are not handling daily business operations, you are either working countless hours answering emails and phone calls, programming for clients, filing necessary insurance paperwork, updating social media and blog content to creating an Internet presence, etc. When it’s all said and done, days can add up to 10-12 hours real quick. This becomes especially true during the peak seasons of spring/summer when our schedules fill up with high school and collegiate athletes.

People get into the health and fitness industry all the time because they claim how much they love it and that it’s their “passion”. Others get into to make a fast buck, never once realizing that it’s a job. It’s a fun job, but it’s still a job. You better love what you do because there are certainly easier ways to make more money while working less hours. With that said, we have learned over and over again that we love what we do.

Misconception #2 - Success Comes Quickly
Believing success comes quickly is another huge misconception, especially within the fitness industry. It seems as if no one wants to put in the real work. The honest, hard work earned through time. Earned through experience. Earned through the professional growth one gains by working with a number of clients of various backgrounds and developing a track record of success. The traditional approach to professional development appears to be old fashioned. Nowadays, newbies to the fitness industry would rather focus on growing their Facebook or Instagram following by creating the “appearance” of success rather than truly earning it. We have a small number of likes on our Facebook page and even fewer followers on Instagram, yet we continue to grow. We grow because of the track record of success we continue to develop, not because of some selfie posted online. If business success had anything to do with selfies and hashtags, we would have been finished long ago.

Similar to other successful businesses, our growth stems from putting in the work and building our business from the floor up. We did not build our business backwards by first creating a huge following while having little to no experience. Rather than focusing on creating a huge following, we prefer to focus on quality of service and building a track record of success, thankful that those who have worked with us are more than willing to tell others about our business. The process never goes as quickly as you'd wish, but there's more satisfaction in the climb than being at the top. We've learned that we love the process. We love the grind. We recognize that nothing meaningful ever came from quick and easy. Besides, the individuals hoping for "quick and easy" seem to be the ones who enter the industry and are out within a couple years. Likely because their "image" of success could not longer compensate for their mediocre results and what they lacked in knowledge and experience.

Misconception #3 – Knowledge Doesn’t Have Value
This misconception probably bothers us the most and it stems from the typical, “Let me pick your brain....” scenario. Keep in mind; we realize that being part of the health and fitness industry is about helping others by providing sound advice and guidance. Ryan and I both went into business realizing that we will be providing a lot of free advice, but there is a fine line that must be respected. The health and fitness industry is both knowledge and service based, so a genuine respect for one’s knowledge would be very much appreciated. I would argue that the industry is primarily knowledge-based, as services (program design, nutrition structure, etc.) are dependent upon knowledge. However, unlike services, It becomes difficult to attach value to knowledge.

When it comes to receiving advice, it’s as it people assume advice should be given away freely. After all, it’s just information, right? Wrong. We field so many questions on a regular basis from people who are ultimately looking for free information. They are looking for guidance from a knowledgeable individual, in hopes of better organizing their own training or nutrition for their self-betterment. Usually it goes a little like this, “Real quick, how would you structure my workouts or my eating/macros so I am able to achieve ABC goals” Quality, experienced coaches understand that there is no “quick” answer to this question. If you have respect for a coach/trainer, please have respect for their knowledge and appreciate the fact that it supports their livelihood. It’s how they earn a living; it’s what they get paid to do. Respect the fact that you are receiving knowledge from them and there is value attached to that. Don’t be a serial freeloader.

Wrap Up
Misconceptions can prove to be a great learning tool. We recognize that dealing with these common misconceptions and many others is a part of job. So let's hear from you. To our professional colleagues and friends in the health and fitness industry, what are some of the common misconceptions you encounter on a regular basis? We welcome your responsible replies and comments.

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Two Years at Gallagher Performance

April 2015 marks two years since Gallagher Performance opened and with the anniversary on the horizon, I thought it was time to start reflecting back on our second year in business.

All our services from chiropractic to massage to personal training to sports performance training continue to experience steady, consistent success. Sure we do not operate at the volume of more established businesses, but our business model places a greater focus on individualized instruction over pure numbers. To us, business success is not simply measured in terms of client volume or monetary gain. For us, success is also measured by identifying how others have been positively impacted by their experience at GP. This could be in the form of clients experiencing improved self-image and confidence that extends beyond the weight room, improved markers of health, improved ability to perform activities without pain or limitation, avoided surgeries, or learning how you inspired a young athlete to pursue a career in chiropractic or fitness. This is exciting to us and it is humbling to learn how you are making a difference.

In regards to our services, it has been another great year. GP’s chiropractic and rehab therapy has been recognized as one of the best in the Pittsburgh area. Our personal and performance training services continue to generate tremendous results for our clients and athletes. The results keep our clients loyal and the referrals coming in. We have truly cared about delivering quality in all services since we opened. It’s a great feeling to see how much our clients appreciate the attention, know-how, and confidence they receive while working with us. When you focus on quality of service and improving the consumer experience, only good things can happen.

Of all our services, this is most easily observed with our sports performance training. In only two years, we have seen our sports performance training services utilized by a variety of athletes from a growing list of amateur/club organizations, high schools, and colleges. In addition, GP continues to direct the Strength & Conditioning program for the Franklin Regional Hockey Organization.

Here is a glimpse into what types of athletes we have worked with and where they are coming from:

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Cross Country
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Physique (Bodybuilding, Bikini, Figure)
  • Powerlifting
  • Soccer
  • Strongman
  • Track and Field (sprint event focus)
High Schools
  • Franklin Regional
  • Greensburg Central Catholic
  • Hempfield
  • Penn Hills
  • Plum
  • Seneca Valley
 College Athletes
  • Andrew Brncic, Alderson Broaddus University (NCAA DII) - Football
  • Colin Jonov, Bucknell University (NCAA DI) - Football
  • Colin Childs, California University of Pennsylvania (NCAA DII) - Football
  • Jake Roberge, Northwestern University (NCAA DI) - Soccer
  • Ben Dipko, Slippery Rock University (NCAA DII) - Football
  • Christian Wilson, Mount St. Mary’s (ACHA DIII) - Hockey
  • Ryan Grieco, Lake Erie College (NCAA DII) - Baseball
  • Evan James, Penn State University Greater Allegheny (NCAA III) - Baseball
  • Dante Luther, Washington & Jefferson University (NCAA DII) - Football
  • Charan Singh, University of Massachusetts (NCAA DI) – Football
We could continue on about each of these athletes, but suffice it to say that we are very proud of each of them, their work ethic, their character, and what they’ve accomplished.

Another Year in the Books
In wrapping up, we acknowledge that GP would not be what it is without the consistent support we receive. A sincere thank you goes out to all you – clients/athletes, parents, family, friends, social media followers, and professional colleagues – for your continual support over the past two years. Special thanks to our marketing firm, 4C Technologies, for their continual support and expertise. We also want to extend a huge thank you to Diamond Athletic Club for being second to none and providing us the venue to operate as a business. Without you all, GP would not be what is today, and we look forward to many more years to come.

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Gallagher Performance Receives 2015 Best of Pittsburgh Award

Pittsburgh Award Program Honors the Achievement
Gallagher Performance has been selected for the 2015 Best of Pittsburgh Award in the Chiropractors category by the Pittsburgh Award Program.

Each year, the Pittsburgh Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Pittsburgh area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2015 Pittsburgh Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Pittsburgh Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Pittsburgh Award Program
The Pittsburgh Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Pittsburgh area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Pittsburgh Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community's contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Pittsburgh Award Program

Periodization: Keep Athletes on Track for Success

Your nervous system has a nasty of habit of adapting.

Adaptation is the ultimate goal of training. Physical training is intended to create the stimulus needed for adaptation. Adaptation takes on a number looks, be it increased muscle mass, increased strength, improved speed and power outputs, or increased cardiovascular efficiency. The desired adaptations will always depend upon the needs of the athlete and how periodization influences each training phase or block.

Training phase? Training block? Periodization?

If these terms are unfamiliar to you, let us emphasize why they need to be important to you: Your nervous system gets bored of everything.
Our bodies are wired in such a way that unless we change some variable (volume, intensity, frequency, etc.) of the training stimulus, we will ultimately fail to continually adapt.

Periodization and the pursuit of adaptation is the foundation of scientific progression in physical training and athletic development. Great coaches will put you on a program long enough for you to adapting to it, then they introduce change.

Periodization is simply organization of training. One must have an expertise of how organization of training and exercise selection expertise impacts development. This is a prerequisite to training anyone, but unfortunately there are many under-qualified trainers and coaches out there that do not understand these concepts. Entire teams or groups of individuals should not all be performing the same training. This would assume the entire team or everyone in your group training class has the same deficiencies. Approaching training in this fashion is just ridiculous and deserves to be criticized. Periodization and training is an individualized process. The fitness industry and fad-based training has convinced the public that periodization and planning is not needed. Well, at least until training fails to produce meaningful results.

Understand there is no perfect program or system, just phases of training. Training is an ongoing process. Periodization and the planning of training is an ongoing process. This is why your trainer or coach must be putting some thought into your training, otherwise your success is always in jeopardy.

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Learn How to Spot the Fitness Frauds

Health and fitness is a service-based industry and, like all service-based industries, the Internet has dramatically changed how people are reached with marketing and sales strategies. Among many factors, a huge player is the rise in popularity of social media and the entertainment it provides. From Facebook to Twitter to YouTube to Instagram, one has the opportunity to reach people with greater ease than ever before.

Certainly, there are many positives that can result from this; however, there is the other side. The side where the opportunists, the con-artists, and the shameless self-promoters thrive. They have more interest in deception than education. Sure they can entertain and fascinate, but are they providing something of substance? Social media has opened the door to anyone who wants to push health and fitness information before anyone can scrutinize the quality, making sure it holds up to the science of human and exercise physiology.

So how do you identify the frauds? The con-artists? The over-night sensations who compete in one event (show, competition, race) and are now parading themselves online as some go-to fitness expert before anyone has realized they are only serving one giant cup of nonsense, likely peddling other's work and intellectual property as their own?

My brother and I ponder this subject quiet often. We discuss it with close friends and colleagues in the health and fitness industry. So here is a short list of items that should make you question both what you are reading and the person associated with it.

1) Lack of qualifications for what they claim to do.
Honest members of the industry will come straight out and tell you what they’re trained to do and more importantly, what they are not trained to do. In the fitness industry, some jobs don’t require much of a formal education, while other jobs require quite the opposite. A run-of-the-mill personal trainer only requires a basic certification before gaining hands-on experience. Those who work in high-performance settings, with specialized clients, or integrate therapeutic or corrective measures into their programs will require considerably more education as they are held to higher standards of competency. Naturally, the higher you climb, the greater your earning potential. The problem arises when trainers mislead and misrepresent themselves, acting as if they are qualified in areas they are not, all in the name of earning the almighty buck. They are usually the ones who are also trying to convince you that education is not importance and "only experience matters". This is just wrong. Stop it. This is a classic con-man scheme.

2) They Suffer from Selfie-Hashtag-Buzzword Syndrome.
Social media has created a monster known as the selfie. Those trying their best to break into the fitness industry want to make as much noise as possible. What better avenue than selfies, right? They use their endless stream of selfies as if they are pushing a business card in your face. As if somehow we should buy into what they are doing and come along for the ride. Then to top it all off, they bombard us with hashtags, buzzwords, and trendy phrases intended to connect, motivate, and inspire. Ultimately, they want you to buy into them. They want your attention and your business. Most in the fitness industry are guilty of this, and I must admit we play the game as well. But if you sift through all the selfies and hashtags and find only more selfies and hashtags with nothing of real substance, red flags should go up. There is a point at which those that you follow online must stop existing in the virtual world and provide a physical form of interaction. Who have they worked with? What results have they produced? If their body of work is mostly selfies and hashtags, they're a fraud.

3) What they say doesn’t line up with how they look.
This builds off my earlier point. Sure there are plenty of trainers and coaches and fitness experts who look great and seem to have the body of your desires (attention ladies). The are usually the one posting selfies, using their body as their business card. They want you to know how great they look on a constant basis. There are thousands in the health and fitness industry that look great. So what?  Does that necessarily mean they know what they are doing or that they possess the knowledge on how to help you reach your goals. I agree that people in the health and fitness industry should “look the part”. They should exemplify health and fitness because it's their passion, not because they are trying to sell you on themselves or their products. Looking the part is important, but if you are going to base who you decide to work with solely on how they look, you could be in for a rude surprise. Talk to them. Ask them questions. They should be knowledgeable. They should be educated on the subjects of anatomy, physiology, nutrition, human movement, and how these topics relate to your goals.  People get into these industries all the time because it looks easy on paper. It’s not easy.  If they are clueless, they are in the wrong business.

4) They always have something to say, always trying to sell.
If someone is really good – meaning they know what they’re talking about and consistently get quality results – you never hear from them. Rather you hear about them – from their clients, colleagues, and their competition. But, you never hear from them directly.

What about the imitators? They are all about making noise. All about getting as much attention as possible. They will not only hustle to get your attention. No, hustling is not enough. They are going to overwhelm you, wave after wave after wave of their propaganda.

Trust your gut the next time some health or fitness “expert” pops up on your social media and your reaction is, “Not them again.” Your gut instinct is usually an honest one.

Final Words
There are plenty of honest individuals and organizations in the health and fitness industry that operate themselves with integrity. Seek them out. They desire to properly educate and help others achieve their goals, doing so with tremendous success. These are the trainers and coaches you need to find and receive guidance from when you are unsure of how to pursue your goals. But with all the noise and distractions, they can be hard to find because they aren't out there shamelessly promoting themselves. Unfortunately, there are far too many frauds and con-artists who end up getting more business than they should because of the noise they generate. Noise does not equal results. Hopefully this article allows you to best identify who you should be trusting with your health and fitness pursuits. And hopefully it helps you to ignore the noise.

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Why We Aren't Popular

Ryan and I have been fortunate to be influenced and mentored by some great coaches and athletes when it comes to the understanding of athletic development. There is no doubt that they have had a substantial impact on our abilities and coaching methodologies. Even with all the great mentors and book smarts, the lessons learned from being competitive athletes ourselves has had a significant impact on our coaching methodologies as well. From the point of view of an athlete, all that matters is wins and losses. At the end of the day, being an athlete is about developing your body’s potential for higher levels of performance. There are many coaches and many systems that currently exist which will have you believe their system is the only system. And they can be very good at it. With the amount of information that exists today in regards to developing strength, speed, power, etc., it’s not surprising why many trainers and coaches are doing their best to make the most “noise”. Noise may get you attention, but ensuring meaningful results is another story.

I find complete arrogance to exist when trainers or coaches speak in terms of absolute laws when it comes to specific systems or movements and their necessity for enhancing sport performance. For example, when one takes on the stance of broadly advocating movements such as Olympic lifts or powerlifting-based programs with a primary emphasis on the squat, bench press, and deadlift to develop strength-speed attributes of athletes, it must be examined very closely. There are many popular programs that exist today that can promise increased performance on a number of levels. It's all about selling a product. However, what escapes most is the fact that no element of an athletic development program should be carelessly added into the mix. You can't just randomly select a program based on it's popularity or how your buddy responded to it. You should not just add in something because someone told you to do so or you read it online.

What a lot of trainers, coaches, and athletes do not understand well enough is the impact movement has on the CNS. Movements such as the Olympic lifts, squat, bench press, and deadlift can all impose a significant amount of stress upon the central nervous system (CNS). The high CNS demand is generated from the necessity to execute these movements against maximal weights or submaximal weights at maximal velocity. The intent is to develop varying degrees of strength-speed qualities. It should be emphasized at this point that the typical athlete can adapt to only 2-3 CNS stressors at one time. Keep in mind, CNS stressors are not limited to physical training such as weightlifting, sprinting, jumping, etc. CNS stressors will also include practice, games, competitive events, and time devoted to sport-skill acquisition. These all come with a cost to the athlete’s CNS reserves. Understand that the athletes will take a significant beating from practice and competition. So any strength and conditioning work that is integrated into sport work will also draw heavily on the CNS. Trainers and coaches must accept the fact that they end up losing something in the weight room. But whether it is due to ego or fear of losing specific performance markers, there are many cases in which trainers or coaches may overly stress their athletes in the weight room, eventually leading to negative performance outcomes.

The importance is this: introducing movements, such as the Olympic lifts or variations of the powerlifts, while an athlete is focusing on more important tasks, such as developing sport skill, can come with negative consequences.

Now don't get me wrong. The utilization of the Olympic lifts, squat, bench, and deadlift have been used by elite athletes around the world. They more than serve their purpose in developing qualities that power-speed athletes desire. However, they should not be applied without first understanding the context. Sure an athlete may become stronger in the squat, bench, or clean, but are they performing at new levels on the field? Is their new strength level transferring into improved acceleration, speed, or power outputs in competition? Has the process of achieving increased strength interfered with their sport performance all because it was poorly planned?

This is exactly why educating athletes on what they need to focus on at the appropriate times during the competitive calendar is such a huge part of the process at Gallagher Performance. Young athletes want to work hard, but they need direction. The same can be said for any of our training clients, regardless of their training goals. They are all willing to put in the work provided it pushes them towards their goals. We have no “system” to sell our athletes and clients on. We address their needs while providing them the understanding of the sensitivity of the process. This, in turn, creates a more educated, more independent individual who understands how to achieve their goals despite all the noise and nonsense that exists in the fitness industry.

Sure many of our posts and articles may not be the most "popular" or most "liked". We don't give away a lot of information like other popular sites. We don't have a popular ebook. We don't give out sample training programs that are easy to follow or apply because the context will vary for everyone. One person may apply it and see tremendous results, while another may see no significant improvements. Rather, we write with the goal to educate. When it comes to fitness-related writing, it is definitely more popular to give people "fish" rather than "teaching them how to fish". This could be considered a bad business model when you look at what is deemed as successful in the fitness industry. So if teaching people how to be more sustainable on their own is not popular, we can live with that.

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Unlock Your Potential With This Powerful Tip

“Everyone has way more strength and power than they know how to use.“ 
          - Larry Mather, Canadian Weighlifting Coach

Let's be clear about something: Movement is a skill. This means that exercise form is a skill. Strength is a skill. Speed is a skill. For those that have participated or are currently participating in athletics, you can appreciate the importance of practice in developing skill. Who will progress more rapidly at their sport, the individual who practices 2 hours per week or the one who is practicing 10 hours per week? Assuming all things are equal, the individual with the greater training volume will progress and achieve mastery the quickest. Understand that training volume accounts for a number of factors including training frequency, duration, load, intensity, velocity of movement, etc.

Why am I bringing this up?

Frankly, there seems to be a lot of misinformation being perpetuated about building strength, speed, or mastery in regards to highly technical movements such as sprinting, squatting, and the Olympic lifts (snatch, clean and jerk). What cannot be forgotten is that these movements are a total body approach that requires every joint to contribute in order for quality work to be performed. They require a high degree of skill and neurological coordination in the execution of the movement. Regardless of whether you want to debate where stability or mobility is needed at specific regions of the body during specific joint actions, the concept of adequate neuromuscular integrity in all directions must be present.

From a motor learning perspective, strength and power development is neuroplasticity. Clients and athletes are basically undergoing computer programming during training. The greater training volume one experiences, the quicker neural pathways will adapt to become more efficient and coordinated. When you focus on the how (technique), the how much (load or amount of weight lifted) will take care of itself. A more skilled lifter is typically stronger. They can display greater strength potential due to skill in technique and skill in their ability to generate and apply more force.

If you’ve ever coached an athlete or client through technical movements, you will most certainly understand that technique is of utmost importance. Coaching  technique as it applies to sprinting, squatting, weightlifting requires that one understands biodynamics and physics. Meaning, doing it the right way is the easiest way. This also means that if the client or athlete is displaying poor technique, often times there is central motor coordination issue that must be addressed accordingly. This is what is know as, "Training the Brain." Yes, muscular imbalances and poor joint dynamics may exist, but it is very common that perceived lack of mobility is simply a result of faulty motor patterning. Rather than focusing on mobility drills and stretches to improve movement quality, appropriate cuing and biofeedback may be all that is necessary. Just watch an experienced coach in action and you’ll understand what I mean.

A coach that understands how to help their client or athlete "Train The Brain", will unlock strength and athletic potential they never knew they could achieve.

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Interview with Andrew Stimmel, Yale Lacrosse Director of Player Development/Assistant Coach

GP: Do all of our readers out there a favor and tell us a little about yourself, your athletic background, and your coaching experience?
AS: Hey guys! My name is Andrew Stimmel & I’m a 2006 graduate of Franklin Regional. I played college lacrosse at Ohio State University where If was a Defensive MVP, captain and Major League Lacrosse draft pick. Currently, I’m an assistant coach and the Director of Player Development at Yale University where I work with our midfielders, defensive personnel and goalies.

GP: What drew you to coaching after your collegiate career came to an end?
AS: I think I always enjoyed coaching; I just don’t know if I realized I wanted to make it my profession until my 5th year at OSU where I was able to act in a GA role for Ohio State. That year made me realize what I was truly passionate about; mentoring and teaching. Coaching at this level is a fully integrated approach not just limited to on the field strategy but dedicated to the total person development. We see these kids every day for 3-4 hours (sometimes more) so we have a tremendous opportunity to impact their future as leaders of the workplace, community and their families.

GP: Now that you’re in the collegiate setting as a coach, what are some things you see athletes struggling with in regards to physical preparation?
AS: Physical preparation is our number one goal in the offseason and also one of the biggest things we preach to our incoming freshman. If our guys are out of shape and lacking the necessary conditioning/strength to play at full speed, they don’t participate. The risks for injury are too high and it’s simply unproductive for their individual development. The lack of physical preparation with our incoming guys is usually pretty obvious; inflexible athletes who are fundamentally unprepared for the speed and physicality of the college game.

GP: We often need to have the conversation with prospective clients about the whole idea of “not playing sports to get fit, but rather being fit in order to play sports”. How often do you see this play out in your experience? How much attention do you give to general physical preparation prior to the onset of the competitive season?
AS: I can understand at a younger age parents wanting their kids to participate in sports to get fit and stay active; it’s a great way to achieve those things as well as foster the concepts of teamwork and work ethic. However, as kids get bigger, stronger and faster, that type of player is being put at a huge disadvantage that can easily lead to injury. It is imperative to have some type of intentionality to physical preparation prior to your competitive season not only to perform at a high level, but prevent injury.

GP: Taking those questions and thoughts and expanding on them, what training tactics, systems, or methods do you see most coaches and trainers utilizing that are hurting their athletes more than helping them?
AS: With the exponential growth of the sport of Lacrosse over the last 15-20 years, there is a large group of people trying to capitalize in the industry. A few of the tactics, systems and methods I’ve seen that I don’t really believe have any positive impact and may actually hurt athletes are:

1)    Any weighted “lacrosse specific” exercise. Probably one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever seen. Why are we going to strap a 20lb weight vest to a 10 year old who can’t properly execute the skill or physical mechanics as is? The best way to shoot harder as a young player is to learn the proper mechanics and execute it properly during your practice time.

2)    Any banded/weighted/resistance exercise specific to running technique or footwork. I’m not completely against resistance methodology that add bands to weights or certain exercises for top level athletes; college athletes or professional athletes who are physically prepared to execute fundamental movements properly with the added load. However, when you see younger kids working predominately with bands when, again, they can’t execute a proper body weight squat, proper running technique or transfer weight properly during change of direction, it’s hurting them more than helping them.

GP: Several of our readers are parents of young athletes. From your perspective as an accomplished athlete and collegiate coach, if you were a parent of a young athlete what specifically would you be looking for in a trainer/strength coach/physical preparation coach? 
As a parent of a young athlete I would be looking for someone who is going to be honest about what my kid needs to be doing right now. If he’s a young athlete, don’t sell me on training him like a professional athlete; train him like a teenager. Get him basics first; proper movement techniques, foundational strength, correct deficiencies that could lead to injuries and maybe more serious things in the future. As a parent, it’s easy to get attracted to weight room numbers. However, what does it mean if those numbers don’t produce a better athlete on the field? Bodybuilders care how much you bench; college coaches care how you perform on the field. That’s what I’m looking for as a parent!

Thank you Andrew for taking the time to share your thoughts and insights from the experience you have gained not only as athlete, but now as a coach and the role you take on in player development. We hope our readers find this as informative as we do!

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A Few Words on Athletic Development

We get asked quite often about our training philosophy when it comes to athletes. Many parents want to know if the training their child will receive at GP is going to be sport-specific. While specificity in training matters, many of our athletes and their parents are surprised to learn how general or fundamental their training must be in the early phases. What needs to be clarified is understanding how much training experience the athlete has and the physical traits that must be developed. The vast majority of athletes we work with are involved in the sports of football, hockey, baseball, and basketball. Success in these sports are highly dependent upon power-speed qualities. We must train these athletes to develop the abilities that allow them to jump, sprint, cut, and dominate their opponents with brute strength. It's our job to make them bigger, faster, stronger, and more durable. It's our job to physical prepare them for the demands of their sport.

Aspiring young athletes are in need of building a broad foundation rooted in movements that will develop strength, speed, flexibility, and body awareness. For the evidence-based fans out there, we use movements and exercises that all have been proven through research to work. But more importantly, the exercises used have stood the test of time and have served as the backbone to athletic development programs for decades. Sprints, jumps, throws, compound strength exercises, Olympic weightlifting movements when appropriate, and general calisthenics have all play a role in the training of some of the greatest athletes in the world.

But the exercises are not simply enough. Almost every single one of our athletes must be exposed to a high volume of training without a high degree of variation. It's important to respect the neural adaptations young athletes or novice trainees undergo during the training process. High volumes of training will help ensure motor learning and skill acquisition while developing the connective tissue strength needed for more intensive training down the road.

This template serves to lay the foundation for the neuromuscular qualities required to meet the increasing needs for speed and power development. It's simple math really. If an athlete improves relative strength, that athlete will be faster and more explosive. Keep in mind that that other factors can be at play too. For instance, that same athlete must also maintain or improve movement quality to improve speed and explosiveness.

However, these are only portions of what goes into a quality athletic development program. It's much more than simple "strength and speed". This is why we feel the value of a qualified strength and conditioning coach or athletic development coach is severely under appreciated. Unfortunately, far too many people have been misinformed by either poorly educated trainers or by the internet. They haven't experienced the difference guided athletic development can make in their performance. Having a coach to guide young athletes not only in their development, but also in areas such as nutrition and cultivating the mind set needed to achieve their goals can give them a huge advantage over their competition.

That's why we love what we do at GP. Not only do we get to work with clients and athletes that have big dreams and big goals, but we also help them develop habits that create a healthier lifestyle. When we have them giving us their best, they deserve nothing less than our best!

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The Greatest Lesson of Competition

"I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
- Michael Jordan

Sport and competition have a way of teaching lessons that are not only valuable in athletics, but often times crossover into life as well. Those that compete do so with simple objectives: to improve and to succeed. Who doesn’t love trophies, awards, and acknowledgements? The pursuit and achievement of a goal is a tremendous feeling. However, while success has its perks, there is something truly special that can come from failure.

But there is an interesting dynamic that is occurring nowadays when it comes to failure. Somewhere along the way, failure developed negative connotations. Many seem to want to shelter themselves or their children from failure, as if failure should be avoid. Failure cannot be associated with one’s name, right?

One can only speculate as to where this mindset has grown from, but it is pervasive in our culture. I came across an interesting discussion on this very topic while listening to the Dan Patrick Radio Show last week. The discussion centered on Kobe Bryant setting the NBA record for most missed field goals and the notion that somehow this record is a blemish on his career. You could see the point, I mean who wants a record like that? However, as Dan Patrick pointed out, you have to be a pretty great player to miss that many shots. To make his point, he went on to list the names of quarterbacks who have thrown the most interceptions in NFL history. The list included some of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, including names like Farve, Tarkenton, Elway, Manning, Unitas, Namath, and Bradshaw. Despite the amount of interceptions, these are championship caliber players, many of them current or future Hall of Famers.

The message was clear, even the great athletes endure their fair share of failure.

But what makes them so great despite how often they seemed to ‘fail’? What allows them to rebound from failure, daring to take the same risks?

There are some that respond to failure by going into a shell. They can’t cope with failure and allow it to get the best of them, while others embrace failure. They understand why they failed; they accept responsibility, take action and work toward improving. They don’t cower in the face of failure; rather they use it as a driving force to fuel improvement. They learn from their mistakes and work on their weaknesses. They continually take risks, not afraid of failure.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has a terrific speech on the “6 Rules of Success”. In this speech, he identifies his third rule as “Don’t be Afraid to Fail”. Here are his words:
“Anything I’ve attempted in life, I was always willing to fail. You can’t always win, but don’t be afraid of making decisions. You can’t be paralyzed by fear of failure or you will never push yourself. You keep pushing because you believe in yourself and in your vision and you know it is the right thing to do and success will come. So don’t be afraid to fail.”
This is well stated and everybody could benefit from reading these words. Like many who have participated in competition, I learned this lesson over and over again. However, nothing more clearly demonstrated the concept of pushing yourself and not being afraid of failure than when I was playing college hockey. My sophomore year at Ohio University, we were the hosts of the ACHA DI National Championship Tournament. Playing in front of our home crowd, our fans, we lost the National Championship game to Penn State 5-0. Penn State dominated us in every aspect of the game. It was the most disappointing sporting failure I had every experienced.

However, something came from the failure that was unlike anything else we had experienced before as a team and as individuals. By the time my junior year rolled around, the group of guys who returned had a drive and a determination to get back what we failed to accomplish the previous year. There was a hunger and a desire born that could only come from that type of failure. We acknowledged our weaknesses and short comings, determined to make them strengths. This mindset fueled our work ethic all the way from training camp through the regular season and into tournament play as we went unbeaten in our final 24 games, setting the stage for a rematch against Penn State in the National Championship game. Again, we fell behind early in that game. We could have cowered, fearful we would experience another lose to arguably a more talented Penn State team. But, that was not the case. Despite the early deficit, we battled back to win 5-4. That moment was the greatest sporting memory I have. Nothing felt better than realizing you were National Champions, thanks in large part to the taste of failure and the lessons learned from defeat.

That became a powerful illustration of what one can accomplish from failure. To me, this is why the greatest lesson one can earn from competing is experiencing failure and defeat. Failure not only builds character, it reveals character. Failure develops a quality of mental toughness and resilience that success will not. I forces you to be honest with yourself about your efforts and about the many areas in need of improvement. I feel these traits are tremendously valuable in sport and life. As a coach of young athletes, you realize that developing these qualities is a valuable part of the coaching process. We want our athletes and clients to embrace failure when it occurs. We want to educate them on why they may have fallen short of their goal, involve them in the corrective process, and allow this to bring about the drive needed to pursue and accomplish their goals.

There is nothing better than seeing one who takes ownership of their outcomes, who isn’t afraid to take risks or fail, and endures despite previous defeat.

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Q&A with Head Performance Coach Ryan Gallagher LMT, CES

GP: Please introduce yourself and give our readers some information on your professional, educational, and athletic background and achievements.
To all the readers out there, my name is Ryan Gallagher and I’m the Head Performance Coach at Gallagher Performance. Along with that I’m a licensed massage therapist, corrective exercise specialist, and nutritional consultant. My undergrad education was in Sports Management with a concentration in Wellness and Fitness and was completed at California University of Pennsylvania. I attended Hocking College in Ohio for massage.

Most of my childhood was spent participating in almost every sport imaginable. Around my mid-teen years, I decided to fully commit to ice-hockey. I was fortunate enough to play at the junior level, but through high school and after, I had a number of different injuries that derailed my playing career. Once I was done with hockey, I committed myself to strength athletics and I have since been competitive in powerlifting, strongman and bodybuilding. While I have competed with success, my eyes are on bigger goals that I have set for myself. My plans are to continue to compete for as long as I can. As far as competing goes, I have some plans but will keep that quiet for now.

GP: When and how did you become interested in sports performance, fitness, and nutrition? What have you found to be the most rewarding?
It all started with the influence of my parents and older brothers. Growing up, hockey was an expensive sport to play. My parents were willing to sacrifice a lot of their time and money in order to let me play a sport I deeply loved (and still do). I can clearly recall hearing both of them say, “If you want to play normal, club hockey you can. You can just have fun and take it easy. But, if you want to play juniors, if you want to travel and get exposure, then you need to meet us half way. You will need to work for it.” Essentially what I was committing myself to was a part-time job of training for hockey. Three-a-day training sessions in the summer were the norm and hitting the gym throughout the season was standard. My parents were willing to support me, so I wanted to push myself to say thank you. Once the training and sports performance aspect began, training became more than just a “thank you”. For me, it became an immediate love. Having brothers that came before me and were highly successful didn’t hurt at all either. They provided a great influence and had years of know-how under their belts to help direct me from the get-go.

The most rewarding part of it all is the process. Everyone wants the outcomes, and they want them immediately. But, the process of working towards your specific goal will tell you more about yourself than anything. Those who can grind and stick with something for an extended period of time will often realize far more significant results than others. Notice I said significant, not necessarily successful. There is a major difference.

GP: As a trainer and performance coach, you have had the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients. You have worked extensively with youth athletes, as well as high school, collegiate, and professional athletes. You have worked with competitive strength athletes in powerlifting and Strongman, and physique athletes (bodybuilding, figure, and bikini). And you have done so with tremendous success. It’s uncommon to meet a trainer who is competent in handling such a diverse client base while providing them with the guidance needed for successful outcomes. What allows you to handle such a diverse client base with success?
This answer could be long winded and boring, so I will try to keep it short and sweet (kind of like me!). The obvious component is the understanding and education on how to properly address each individual and their specific needs. Despite all the accolades, degrees, or certifications one may have, it is my opinion that an incredibly invaluable skill set is the ability to read your client. To know when to push them, when to back off and how various external and internal stressors may be at play. These are lessons that no textbook can teach you. You either have that x-factor or you don’t.

GP: With the extensive amount of information available today, nutrition and nutritional advice can become extremely frustrating and confusing. What is your philosophy when it comes to nutrition? 
Perhaps it’s because I’m only familiar with the fitness industry, but there is a strong correlation with confusion and the fitness industry. I don’t think there’s an industry out there that is more confusing and frustrating. People love to create confusion because confusion creates dependency. So he or she that yells the loudest will more than likely make the most money. Especially if it goes against the grain of what is traditionally applied.

When it comes to nutrition and my “philosophy”, I guess you could say I don’t really have one. My end goal with clients is to establish a plan that is sustainable for them. If any one client can’t stick with a plan that is set forth, the success rate of that plan is drastically reduced. The approach is similar to the quote, “The person who goes 90% for years will go much further than the person who goes 110%, burns out, and quits.” That essentially sums up the approach I take with my clients.

Most clients just need direction. Whether that is a set plan to give them absolute direction or whether it is step-by-step process of educating them on healthy habits for long-term success. At the end of the day it comes back to knowing your client and how you need to tailor their program(s) to their needs at any given moment.

GP: As a massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist, you have integrated recovery and corrective strategies for your clients and athletes. What are your thoughts on the importance of movement quality and recovery strategies in client progress?
Pushing the limits of the human body and sport performance doesn’t necessarily come without paying a price. Our goal is to keep our athletes and general clients healthy through the process, but aches and pains inevitably settle in. Some people may be baffled by that, but take your squat from 500 lbs to 600 lbs or your 40-yard dash time from 4.50 down to 4.40 and, trust me, your body is going to be feeling it. Wanting to minimize the effects of hard training, most of our athletes partake in an in-season care plan that is set forth to include weekly treatments to injured areas or general recovery work to help them stay fresh. These guys and girls are getting the snot kicked out of them sometimes during their athletic events. Once they feel the difference in how taking care of their body helps their performance and overall well-being, they’re hooked. Some of them come in anticipating an hour massage on their low back because their low back is sore, but we may do an hour of extensive hip and abdominal exercises instead. That is a judgement call. That client will end up leaving with no low back pain and in a much better place both physically and mentally. Some will need more focused soft tissue work, others there may be other factors at play. Again, it comes back to knowing what your client needs and what will truly benefit them.

Establishing proper movement is critical and the foundational element in determining long-term development of the client you’re working with. If they don’t move well for them, then really, it’s all for not. I emphasize moving well for them because it’s different for everyone based on individual physical traits and characteristics. There is not a textbook way of performing any movement. Yes, there are obvious technicalities to each movement, but how it’s applied to everyone is different, and often not textbook.

I could go on about how the whole fitness industry can be it’s own worst enemy, but that would be more of a rant than anything. People need to get off their high horses and realize that because a movement isn’t done to their personal specifics, it is not necessarily wrong for that individual and the goals that they have.

So proper movement for the individual has to be established first. Once that is established you would be surprised at how many issues are removed. Especially once that client becomes stronger. Strength never hurt anybody.

GP: You have become sought after by both athletes and coaches for your ability to develop speed. If anyone would doubt it, your results speak for themselves. You have had the ability to further develop athletes who have either plateaued or failed to achieve results in other training programs. What do you attribute this ability to?
You won’t get anywhere without a substantial amount of knowledge and experience backing up your intentions. I was fortunate enough to start training and working with athletes at a very young age. So even at my age, I’ve been able to put in close to 10 years of professional experience working with clients from various demographics with an array of end-goals. The good trainers eventually make it to the top while, unfortunately, some really poor trainers are there too. The education, and arguably experience, only take you so far. It goes back to my earlier answers. Understanding your client, knowing them almost better than they know themselves, and being aware of how to direct them will set the framework for continual development.

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Guidelines for Selecting a Strength Coach or Personal Trainer

Today, athletes are without a doubt becoming stronger, faster, bigger, and displaying more proficient levels of sport-specific fitness than in years past. Not only do you still have young athletes participating in multiple sports during the calendar year, but many of them are also participating in ‘strength and conditioning’ programs as early as 13-14. Athletics have always promoted competition and developing a competitive advantage. Both parents and young athletes are investing in private/semi-private training services with greater frequency. I can remember back to my days as a young athlete in the 1990s and the concept of strength and conditioning coaches for youth athletes was almost non-existent.

Flash forward 15-20 years and the sports performance business has expanded greatly, arguably to the point of saturation in some areas around the country. Most cities offer several facilities to chose from when it comes to selecting a location for your son or daughter to train. With that in mind, it’s important to keep in mind some guidelines to help parents and athletes in the decision making process.

When looking for the best, it also helps to get advice from the best. So today, I want to feature some guidelines from Sean Skahan, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Anaheim Ducks  of the NHL. Sean’s guidelines certainly apply to not only youth hockey players, but all youth athletes. Sean has a tremendous reputation in the NHL for being one of the top strength and conditioning coaches and his advice is valuable.

Here are his guidelines for finding quality strength and conditioning services:
  1. Make sure that the trainer(s) has a degree from a four-year college or university. A master’s degree would be a plus. Preferably, their degree is in Exercise Science, Kinesiology, Biomechanics, or another major related to Exercise and or Sports Medicine.
  2. Make sure that the trainer is certified by a reputable certification agency. For Strength and Conditioning Coaches or Personal Trainers who work with hockey players, the Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (C.S.C.S) certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is probably the most reputable certification. Another good certification is any certification provided by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (N.A.S.M.).
  3. Ask for testimonials and/or references from athletes that they have coached. They should be able to provide current or past testimonials from people who have trained with them. If they can’t provide you with any testimonials, ask for references. If they can’t give you any references, find another trainer. Also, make sure that the trainer actually trained and worked with an athlete whom they say they have.
  4. Don’t get caught up in the “bells and whistles” about the facility. Most of the good strength and conditioning coaches and personal trainers out there can get results without the high-tech equipment that might be considered “hockey-specific”. Also, they might not need a large facility the size of a Wal-Mart.
Sean goes on to add this as well:
In today’s world, it is easy for anyone to get a personal training certification from a non-reputable source and then partner up with someone with a lot of money and start up a sports training business. I always prefer an individual or company that started out with close to nothing and then grew their business by getting positive results from their athletes and clients. As a parent who is paying for the child to participate in a strength and conditioning program, you must do your homework when trying to choose one.
Hopefully these guidelines and recommendations will help you make the right decision when pursuing where your son or daughter should train. Investing in training services for your child is not a decision that should be taken lightly and it will only be a benefit to gather as much information as possible. Otherwise, your lack of results and progress may start to tell you something. Should you have any questions or wish to learn more about the training services available at Gallagher Performance, contact us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Interview with Ben Gallagher DPT, FMSC

GP recently interviewed Ben Gallagher DPT, FMSC. If you happened to figure out that Dr. Ben is related to us, you are correct. Ben is a physical therapist at Somerset (PA) Hospital Rehabilitation and Wellness Center. As brothers, we share some very similar concepts in the treatment of patients. But, we also share contrasting viewpoints, which makes it fun to learn from each other and gain a better understanding of the professional roles we serve in providing improved quality of patient care.

Now, let's get to the questions.

GP: Please introduce yourself and give our readers some information on your professional, educational, and athletic background (as well as what you have had to overcome since birth in order to participate in athletics).
BG: My name is Ben Gallagher, brother to Sean and Ryan. I live in Somerset, PA with my wife and daughter. I am a physical therapist and have been working at Somerset Hospital Rehabilitation and Wellness Center for over two years. I graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) with a degree in Exercise Science in 2008. Then went on to Saint Francis (PA) University to get my Doctorate in Physical Therapy, graduating in 2012. Since graduating I have become FMS (Functional Movement Screen) certified, focusing my continuing education on movement analysis and manual therapies thus far.

Athletically, I grew up playing most sports, mainly focusing on basketball until the 8th grade when I got into ice-hockey as a goaltender, then that became my passion. I played through high school and into college at IUP. As for what I had to "overcome," that would be referencing my heart condition. I was born with Tetrology of Fallot, a congenital disorder that required surgery as a young child and again in 2008, and another in about 15-20 years. The condition restricted me from some sports and it is not advised I lift max weights, placing a limitation of how I could physically train for sport. However, prior to my 2008 surgery, in which my heart was over 3x normal size, I had no issues or symptoms. The doctors attributed my training to why I could function so well with such a crappy heart. Training was a mainstay, and still is.

GP: The thought process in your evaluation and management of patients is not widely instructed in physical therapy programs. What were the biggest influences in your professional development in not only the care that you provide, but also why you sought out additional resources beyond what you learned in school?
BG: The purpose of physical therapy school is to: 1) make sure you pass the licensure exam, and 2) make sure you don't seriously hurt anyone. As for producing quality clinicians? No. School just teaches you the basics, and most practicing therapists provide you just that, the basics, which is what you could find on a Google search. So, as for what helped my professional development, honestly the biggest thing was I just thought differently. I saw things differently and I attribute that to my athletic background and training history. For example, as a PT student I would tell my class-mates, "I'm gonna have my grandmas deadlifting." My classmates would gasp, as if that was the most absurd thing they ever heard. But my thinking was, "If someone needs to build strength, why am I gonna have them lie down and lift their leg? When I want to build strength, I train the squat and deadlift, so how couldn't the same application benefit my patients?" Now let me clarify, not all movements are appropriate for all people, at all times. That's why programs need to be individualized, not cookie-cutter.

So for me, I thought, why do I want to further inundate myself with PT knowledge that is elementary and narrow-minded. I sought out other means to fill that thirst for a fuller, better understanding of how the body functions. FMS, which is for any health or fitness professional, is just one of many means to that end that I am pursuing.

Plus, I have to add this: In reference to the grandmas deadlifting story, there was a research article published shortly after in regards to the most effective exercises to strengthen the hips. The study basically ridiculed all traditional PT exercises and found the most effective was a single-leg deadlift. How 'bout them apples?

GP: You are extremely involved with your patient’s care, preferring to perform a lot of manual therapy and oversee the exercise process. This is not common of the majority of physical therapists. Can you speak to why you find this so valuable in the outcomes your patients are able to achieve?
BG: I don't even know where to begin with this issue. I get fired up about the lack of quality care there is in this field.  Most therapists treat with a shot-gun approach, meaning they're not sure what is really going on or how to treat so they will throw a ton of stuff at you hoping something sticks and works. But the best in rehab are like snipers. They isolate what the exact issue is and address it appropriately. And how can you do that if you are not present and in the mix with your patient's rehab process?

GP: As a physical therapist, you see tremendous value in what chiropractic care has to offer. Could you please give your thoughts on what makes chiropractic and physical therapy so complementary?
BG: Following off the above question, when you are involved with your patient's care, you may find that some issue(s) may be out of your scope and there may be better, more skilled hands that are able to provide effective care. How can one means of healthcare be the most effective? What is most effective is what the patient needs. How can chiropractic care be so bad, which is the view of many therapists, when chiropractors help so many? And how can therapists think we are the kings of rehab and exercise when many therapists stick you on a machine and walk away? I have referred patients to chiropractors and massage therapists. But, I do so instructing them on what they need to share with those professionals, because just going blindly to another professional does not always mean you will get quality care. Chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist, strength coach….I don't care what your title is; if you're good, you're good.

GP: Posture, stability, and mobility are intensely debated topics at conferences and continuing education seminars. Could you expand on your philosophy when it comes to the dynamic role between posture, stability, and mobility, what athletes and coaches should understand about these topics, and what should be left to physical medicine providers such as physical therapists and chiropractors?
BG: The first thing that athletes and coaches should understand about posture, stability and mobility is that you likely don't fully understand these concepts. Most lay people honestly don't understand how posture impacts how their body feels and the role it has in movement. Someone with good posture likely can't explain why they have good posture or how they achieved it. But, that is why we, as professionals, are here.

The stability-mobility debate is like a left-wing versus right-wing debate. My philosophy is it's a spectrum. No one physical issue is 100% in either direction, but I do believe stability is the issue the majority of the time. And if mobility is an issue, and is addressed, such as stretching or mobilizing, it should complimented by stabilization training to ensure you have control of the new motion you have just obtained.

GP: You have developed a reputation in your area as a “go-to-therapist” for athletes being referred from orthopedic surgeons because of your eye for assessing movement and your ability to successfully return athletes to competition. Besides the FMS, what other assessments do you find valuable in dealing with athletes and their competition needs?
BG: For those who don't know, the FMS is a tool used to assess a person's quality of movement using seven standardized movements. If you move poorly, you are then going to compensate, compensation leads to altered or poor biomechanics, which leads to injury. So the whole purpose of the FMS is to make sure you move well. The job of the clinician is to not only identify poor movement, but to also figure out why you are not moving well. Therefore, what other assessments do I find valuable for athletes? I want to see them go through their athletic movements: swing a golf club or hockey stick, throw a ball, jump, land, cut, sprint, run, etc.

To be able to do this effectively you must first be able to analyze the movement correctly. Is the movement efficient? If it is not, then you must be able to figure out why it is not and be able to address the problem effectively. All this said, what is really needed is knowledge of athletic movement, a good clinical eye, and the knowledge of how to fix whatever issues are present.

That’s a Wrap
Ben, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Your knowledge and insight is truly appreciated. We hope this was informative for our readers as well. For those in the Somerset, PA area, be sure to check out Ben at the Somerset Hospital Rehabilitation and Wellness Center for tremendous results when it comes to returning from injury or understanding how to move better for your exercise or sport-related goals.

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