What Others Are Saying...

  • " Not only is Sean a great nutritionist, but he's an excellent strength coach. I've coached athletes with him on multiple occasions. The most impressive attributes I've seen in him is his integrity, work ethic, ability to work with athletes and desire to be the best coach possible...."

-Luke Richesson. Head NFL Strength & Conditioning Coach for Denver Broncos


Interview with the Expert: Ian King - Part I

Quick Hit Summary

In this installment of “Interview with the Expert” we have the privilege of talking shop" highly respected physical preparation coach Ian King, founder of King Sports International. In Part I of the interview we discuss his background, training myths and issues he has with today's training "experts."

About Ian King

Figure 1. Physical Preparation Coach & Educator Ian King.5

Ian King … if you don’t instantly recognize this name, I’d encourage you to take today, tomorrow and possibly the rest of the week off of work and simply read anything and everything you can find on this individual. Why do I say this? Simple —> he has been one of the leading minds in the physical preparation of athletes for the past 25+ years; training individuals in every summer and winter Olympic games since 1988, as well as every Commonwealth games since 19841. The list of adjectives one could use in describing him is quite lengthy… physical preparation coach, innovator, educator, challenger of ideas, writer, etc. However, the one that I feel is most important; by far trumping all other qualities is this: INTEGRITY.

My first exposure to Ian’s work was ~5-6 years ago, when I read his article, “Wave Loading Manifesto.”2. I found this training to be effective both personally as well as in the athletes I was working with. Sense then, I kept a very vigilant eye on anything he wrote. More than likely you’ve used many of the training principles that he introduced to the physical preparation industry as well.

Without any further wait, it is a great pleasure to introduce to you, one of the top minds in the physical performance industry, Mr. Ian King.


Personal/Coaching Background …

Ian, your accomplishments as both a coach and an educator speak for themselves. Curious, when did this passion first start for you? Were you heavily involved with sports while growing up?

Before jumping in to the answer, I just want to say thanks for the invitation to chat. As you may know, I do very few interviews, and it is because of your connection to Phil Stevens and the StrengthGuild.com that I have agreed to this one.

As for whether people know who I am, marketing is not my forte nor is it my focus. Just the fact that I am selective as to who I associate with and whose web site my name ends up on is an instant marketing killer, going against all ‘internet marketing guides’. I would rather say less in marketing, and then I can more effectively measure my impact on the world through my actions.

There is the added complication of exaggerations and lies in marketing claims. I can’t and won’t compete in that arena, so that’s another reason (that reared up during the last decade) as to why I don’t get involved in marketing in the way most do. After all, I could tell you I’m multi-lingual, have a photographic memory, got my black-belt at the age of 3, am 7 foot tall, blonde long hair, good-looking, bench 400kg – but it just ain’t so.

Where I grew up there were two major pastimes; Play sport and explore the mountains for war relics. I reckon we played some kind of sport on an average of four times a day. When there is no TV, no computers, no computer games, no TV games etc, etc – that’s what you do!

I have fond memories of playing in a curtain raiser to the finals in soccer when the South Pacific Games was held in my home town, Port Moresby.

And being very confused when someone tried to teach us all Australia Rules football, as we were a big soccer country.

And going on big scary trip to North Queensland representing my home country in rugby league. The big question for us was – did those North Queensland boys were boots? Because didn’t have any! Fortunately they didn’t!

At what point did you say to yourself “I’m going to be a physical preparation coach” and decide to pursue this profession full time?

Never. I didn’t have that plan. I went to uni {editor note- “uni” = university} for the opportunity to get answers to training that I felt I didn’t have. So my motive for picking the course I did was fairly self-centered. You have to remember also, in 1979 when I made that decision, there was no such thing as a physical preparation coach. There was no such thing as a personal trainer. (The NSCA of America, who at that very time was the National Strength Coaches Association – I learnt this when I got pre-1982 and post-1982 journals and said – what’s going on here? Then I taught this historic shift). In fact, when I enrolled in that course of study, the only career outcome I was aware of was Physical Education teaching and that didn’t appeal to me. During the early stages of my uni courses I learnt of the other exciting options – conducting laboratory fitness tests or becoming a ‘corporate fitness’ consultant! That was pretty much it. In fact, most who graduated from my course didn’t go into a related career. Most changed careers. I had a domestic house cleaning service provider once who remembered me because she was in my course!

It was only as my course progressed that I began to gain momentum in a way no-one, not even myself really understood. As an undergraduate, I wrote the first strength training module for other students from all courses to do as a recreation program. I provided strength room orientations to undergraduate physiotherapists. I wrote strength programs for occupations as diverse as sheep shearers. I helped athletes around me, most of who were high level including Commonwealth and Olympic Games representatives, with their training.

Why? Because they all saw how I approached my training, both in action and in planning, and wanted some of it.

As a coach, what has been your most rewarding experience(s)?

Tough question. I have had many highlights. At a time I may have more highly valued the wins, and the opportunity to shape history in sport. Don’t get me wrong – these are important. These are our professional judge, our feedback. But over time I learnt the discrepancy between the public perception of athletes and their real character. Now that’s not bad per se, but I don’t want to add to this misinterpretation. Being able to put a leather object through the air better than someone else doesn’t make you a person who will make a long term contribution to society.

Figure 2. A view from Ian's trip to Innsbruck, Austria6

I have learnt to value different things. One of them is the natural environments I have been into… Solitude on a snowy mountain top with skiers; The beauty of a running on mountain trail in summer; Paddling on still waters with a kayaker; The warmth of the winter sun on the pier on a lake conducting a stretching class. I could go on.

The cultural experiences… Being in the Academy of Sport facilities in a South American country where between the beautiful Elieko bars and plates, you need to watch your step because of the holes in the floor. Being in the mountains of New Guinea where you’re students are running late because of the three hour walk to the class. Being in an Asian residential sport institution where the effluent runs in open drains. Learning to master the footprints in an open hole ‘bathroom’ facility in a Mexican town. Using equipment that the average westerner off-the-street would reject in an Asian strength training facility for elite athletes. I could go on.

The truly great people I have met… Those who have confidence in their ability to be the best in the world, yet the humility to understand their place in the bigger scheme; Those with the qualities and desire to stay in touch for decades after I have helped them be the best they could be. Those who really do possess the morality, values and integrity that most of society assumes all athletes have. Those coaches who seek to be the best they can, help and serve the athlete the most they can, rather than seek to create a perception of how great they are. I could go on.

And my kids… The opportunity to pass on what I have learnt to my kids, to give them the opportunity to fulfill their athletic potential if that is what they want. And just coming home to my family at the end of every day or every trip.

Which individuals have had the greatest impact on your training philosophy?

Gee, you like tough questions! I’ll give it a go, but have to say up front – if I have forgotten you, and you will know who you are, I apologize.

My great-grandfather, John James King, and his ancestors, who lead with their reputation of being the strong men of the district, with their farm related lifting feats.

My first sports coach, my father, who was the soccer coach and conducted formal long distance/cross county training. My first strength coach, a deaf, non-speaking indigineous man who probably didn’t get much if any formal schooling – took me under his wing was about 7 years of age (I write about this in my Get Buffed!™ book). My first rugby league, cricket and all the other sports coaches in primary school. Even the swim coach who used to throw me in the pool and stand on my fingers if I tried to escape from the pool.

All my high school coaches and PE teachers, in all sports. Especially my two First XV rugby union coaches. I followed one into the same institution of higher learning. The other whom I had the privilege of providing services to his rugby team before he passed prematurely with cancer. Great men. To my high school head master, who loved his visits to America for his post-graduate studies, and brought back the love of strength training. He was the first of many I have met in my time who lived and breathed the bench press!

All my university lecturers, in an era where only weirdo’s did strength training, and no-one studied it. They tolerated me well. And one even guided me to the NSCA, giving me my first copy of the journal in about 1981-82.

To my weightlifting/powerlifting coaches and training partners. To the athletes who trained with us – from all T&F disciplines and many other sports. To my martial arts teachers. To my coaches in all other sports I participated in.

To the athletes who allowed me to guide them, in doing so became my teachers. To the coaches who dropped their guard enough to allow me into their teams, I know I rewarded your decisions -keep in mind this was in an era before the acceptance of ‘strength & conditioning’. To the coaches and athletes who took their time to teach me the fundamental skills of their sport.

To all the Americans in the early days of the NSCA who welcomed me and treated me so well – Ken Kontor, and Boyd Epley in particular. To all the US coaches who opened their doors to me including Rob Boyd and his then coaching staff at Nebraska, Al Miller then at the Denver Cowboys, Al Vermeil then at the Chicago Bulls, Mike Woiick then at the Dallas Cowboys, Russell Ball then at the Phillies, Mike Clarke and Rob Rogers then at UCLA – I am sure I have missed many. Each and every one of you sat down with me and shared. I will always appreciate and value that.

Figure 3. Ian King & Charlie Francis at a joint education session.7

To Lyn Jones and Harry Wardle of then of the Australian Institute of Sport in the late 1980s. To Bruce Walsh, one of the truly great strength coaches in the era before strength training was recognized in Australia. To Charles Poliquin with whom I worked closely with between 1989 and 1992. To the late Charlie Francis and his wife Angela Coon, who were so welcoming to our family when we were in their home town. To Istvan Balyi, the Hungarian based in Canada, who I collaborated with for over a decade during the 1990s.

To lifters, coaches, authors and scientists such as Bill Starr, Fred Hatfield, Dragomir Circosolan, Mike Stone, John Garhammer, Yuri Verkoshanski. The list goes on.

I know you said which individuals had the greatest impact on my training philosophy – but they all did.

Fortunately, I did most of my learning in the era before marketing to achieve the public perception of greatness as measured by hits on your web site became more important than gaining experience, achieving success, and then sharing your lessons. Now I feel most learn from those with the best marketing skills, the poorest motives, and lacking in experience let alone a track record of success. The focus appears to be: Market to gain an audience, find stuff to teach, teach it, sell it, find more stuff to sell and teach. It was not always this way….

And these were just in physical preparation. Outside, the list is longer.

(I know I will have missed a few or more – hope you can forgive me!)

The Coaching Industry/Educating the Coach…

Are their any differences that you’ve seen between how athletes are physically prepared for sport in your native country of Australia vs. that here in the United States? How about exercise in general here in the USA vs. Australia?

There used to be more of a difference in the ‘average’ preparation of athletes in our respective countries. That has been reduced due to the power of the internet. As much as many cultures generally dislike Americans, there is as much desire to imitate them and have what they have; although if the decline in living standards and the US dollar continues, this may diminish.

First I will address the prior differences.

Americans have a strength bias, whilst the Australians have a endurance bias. I am clearer in my theories of the cultural influence on Australian sport. We are a remote country, who has through our short (200+yr white Australian) history, been called on militarily support far away countries. Generally speaking we have not been as mechanized as the US, and our population (currently about 22mill) has been relatively small compared to the US, so we have less infrastructure, less commercial choices. So we as a nation have had to endure a lot. We’ve had to be tough and stoic. This I believe has kept the value of endurance training high.

The US is an older nation (in white American terms 400+years), with a much bigger population (currently approx 250mill depending on whose counting), is highly mechanized and automated. Perhaps in the first 200 years of your white American history you didn’t have this strength bias. Obviously I will leave this to your sport historians. However I believe a major influence on your strength bias in the last 100 years is the size of your commerce – it is a big machine, and if it can find a machine that can be sold, this will happen. And to sell it, your commerce machine will fund the appropriate research, engage the appropriate strength and conditioning coaches, book the athletes to endorse it, and it happens.

Now, the US marketing spin is infused into our culture (and every culture around the world) so fast due to the internet. It’s called leverage, and leverage works both ways – it amplifies the good, it amplifies the bad, if I can use those simplistic terms.

Generally speaking, Australia is a more active nation, but again, we as a culture are closing the gap with the US, as we buy more of your computer games and electronic tools like Bill Gate’s offerings. Our obesity and diabetic rate will be comparable to yours soon, and then this will allow any manipulation of the people, who are too immobile and sick to resist. Watch the movie Wall-E to see where this is going.

As to exercises, not sure if you’re going into this [with the question], but the explosion or 69 ways to do a single leg squat that has occurred thanks to US marketing gurus extending the plague to Australia. Ask the average PT why they are doing any of these exercises. If they are honest they will say one of the following:

  • I don’t know.
  • Because guru x recommended it.
  • Because….[break into a parroting of the BS rationale they have been sold.]

It will not be:

"I have personally used and evaluated this protocol with myself and a large sample of clients over a few years and have concluded that…"

That is not the way thinking is taught to be done anymore.

As mentioned in the introduction, you pioneered many training philosophies, exercises, etc that have been introduced to the physical preparation industry. However, many individuals have failed to give you proper credit for your work. The act of not giving credit to where credit is due needs to stop! Thus, could you please share with the readers some of these training philosophies, exercises?

Note to READERS: I encourage all of you to trace back the techniques you’re using to see who first introduced them. By learning how they were originally meant to be taught/implemented, I’m confident you will improve your training and/or that of your athletes.

Gee, it would be a long list. I value your youthful optimism and enthusiasm. I see this as more of a longer slower process, requiring the masses that have been hoodwinked time to absorb this, and to vote with their wallets. This situation is entrenched and supported by powerful forces – including but not limited to manufacturers, distributors, publishers, and all those who perceive their livelihoods are at jeopardy if the status quo changes. This doesn’t mean wave the white flag. What’s happening in Egypt is an indication that time in power, amount of power etc, does not always prevail against people.

This situation or ‘new rule’ in fitness industry publishing has further reaching issues. I ask – if they are willing to lie about the origin of the material, what else are they willing to lie about. Now Bill Clinton didn’t rush to say ‘Yes, I put my manhood into Monica’s mouth.’. Nor did Bernie Maddoff turn himself in. OJ didn’t cop to hurting his wife etc. This situation is another test of the people – how much lying are you willing to tolerate. If you cop this one, then we can try the next level.

For example, in the case of one of the more prolific publishers of my concepts in the decade that ensured, I have yet to find one credit or reference to my name. In the case of another highly prolific publisher of my concepts, in the decade ensuing 1999, sporadic reference and credit was given in a few cases – however in the majority of cases, it was not. And in this case, much of the copying was conducted verbatim or paraphrased. No permission was given to reproduce the material, and no wording regarding ‘permission to reproduce’ was displayed.

Only those well read and established in the industry by at the latest the mid-1990s seemed to pick up on this. This meant very few. Therefore the copiers appeared to have got away with this without public backlash, due to the relatively low level of expansive reading in the US-led fitness and sports industry. This copying extended beyond books and DVDS – many have been in seminars (especially training program design seminars) where a significant proportion of the entire content was taken from my publishing.

I appreciate that those who only got exposed to my work post say 2001, may well have been led to believe the originality of material lies elsewhere. That is unfortunate but the way it is, and a tough ask for these people to accept that have been led down the garden path.

The cycle of new information is typically resistance, attack and then acceptance. If I had been surprised by the viciousness of the resistance and attacks that I received when I released the conclusions of my first 20 years training athlete in the late 1990s, that still didn’t prepare me for ‘the way’ in which my conceptual releases were ‘embraced’.

In short, I watched a series of events and behaviors over the ensuing decade that, in my opinion, was aimed to cut the link between the origin of the material and the material. I suggest this occurred for a number of reasons:

  • It severed the link between the information provider and they way they conducted themselves unethically in their attacks in their initial response to the release of my concepts.
  • It provided them with an opportunity of personal (ego) gain as the bringer of this ‘new way’.
  • It provided them with the opportunity of commercial gain (money, profits) as this opened up a whole new industry for them to exploit.

How would it look if people knew how they responded to this ‘threat’ initially? Or the fact they were not doing the concepts I released at the time of the original conceptual release. It may completely undermine the perception so valuable now to their guru status and cash flow, as the ‘go-to’ people of these new ways.

To what extend will they go to cover up these facts? I suggest a long way. For example, I have a read an article by one where he takes a pre-1999 program and modifies it with my post-1999 concepts, skillfully inferring (yet not actually saying it) – that this is how the program looked. Most will believe this charade. I have seen repetitive attempts to show industry involvement as early in their lives as they can, with one example working out (but not exactly stated as such – leaving wiggle room) that they must have started their professional coaching career as a young teenager- simply, in my opinion, for the sake of putting out the perception of industry involvement prior to 1999.

Now I fully understand that what I have said will potentially make me as unpopular now as I was in the late 1990s when I rocked the US industry with my list of concepts – I have presented another threat – pulling the veil on what has transpired. However, just as I did in the late 1990s, I shared openly and honestly, and learnt a lot about people as a result.

I believe the lack of integrity in the US-led fitness/sport industry (especially in relation to publishing and its driver, equipment manufacturing and distribution) is due for its day of reckoning. Maybe what I share will bring this on. Perhaps it will simply add to the picture and mean more in the future. I have done what I believe is right, and leave the forces of the universe to follow through as it sees fit.

I will be publishing a book shortly listing some of my original innovations, supported by copyright and date of publishing. I suspect that many of you will have seen all or most of this in other sources and never knew the origin. Interesting isn’t it.

Just in case you think this me being all about me – if you think there is a border on when deceit and lies stop and start – think again. I just say – ask yourself – what else are they lying to you about?

The one thing I greatly respect about you is that you are always challenging ideas, looking to improve both your knowledge as well as that of others around you. What are the greatest myths you see perpetuated by the typical physical preparation coach?

Yes, I have fallen on my sword and been burnt on the stake a lot of times in the last 30 years. Not because I want to be right, but if I feel the dogma isn’t serving the athlete or the people, why go on with it?

Here’s a few examples. Note many have passed into the history books, in that they have been fought and won, some are still being fought. They all help show the pattern of my work to dispel myths and misguided dogma:

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In the late 1980s I became known in my state as they idiot who risked athletes lives by having them squat and do some jumping drills. Fortunately I had a good man entrenched in the orthopedic circles in my state and he gave me a chance to share some thoughts on this topic with his colleagues.

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Around about 1990 I drew the ire of the speed training coaches in my state for daring to suggest that speed training for team sports, playing on a 100 meter pitch, should not be done in the speed endurance manner it was being done. I nearly got sacked over that in one sport. Fortunately the coach gave me a chance to prove myself and we went on to success and the speed coach quit instead.

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I became unpopular in the start of the 1990s by publicly stating that there is no science to the aerobic base. That got me very quickly kicked off the editorial board at the state Australian Sports Medicine branch. Needless to say, my colleagues in the editorial board were avid fans of the aerobic base.

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In the lead up to the 1991 World Rugby Cup I failed to count the reps in the chin up and sit ups conducted by one of the senior southern-state based players. I had this weird notion that there is a repetition model including full range, a foreign concept to this group of players. That got very ugly. Needless to say, I missed the next road trip….

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The top level swim coaches in my state weren’t happy with me leading into the 1992 Olymipic Games, as I had one of the marquee swimmers on a strength program that attracted a lot of media attention. After all, I was told, strength training has no place in swimming. But on the other hand, they were concerned about the performance advantage those big Chinese swimmer had…..go figure….

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I then pissed off the Brisbane physiotherapy and sports medical doctors by creating a support team for one of our highest profile national league teams – I sacked the existing service providers and I selected the sports panel. They said ‘Ian, we are going to black ban you!’ It took days to stop shaking from the fear….

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I continued my love-hate relationship with physical therapists when they found out my mission – to prevent all injuries, essentially putting them out of work. I was considered physiotherapy enemy number one in my home town!

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In the mid-90s when working with the national baseball squad I wrote reports of the coach where I, in obvious error, mentioned the word psychology (in relation to psychological traits I had seen in an athlete). The physiotherapist, who like most physios in Australia up to that time, liked to believe he controlled the physical training and preferred softly spoken weak-spined physical preparation coaches who he could stick his hands up their you-know-what and pull the strings – complained to the head coach. I was just the physical coach. I had no formal training in psychology. I had to go. I didn’t survive that one!

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I worked with a national league team for nearly a decade before taking a break for a few years of. I always used some form of static stretching before training and games. In the time I was away from the team, in the late 1990s, the ‘pre-training static stretching makes you weak and slow’ bullsh*t gained momentum. In my absence the team went from being consistently the top team in the international completion to being the 3rd worst. We implemented my old methods, and in one year returned to 5th place. Only those players who sought to cause disharmony harped on this new ‘concept’. They weren’t complaining about it when they were the best team in this category in the world, and their performances at this level resulted in their national selection, higher contracts, longer contracts etc.

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This was a really strong dogma until I spoke out against it. Up until this, the late 1990s, everyone complied. Since then, I note some of those who published programs with the compliant ‘abs last’ claim that they ‘always believed abs should have been done first’…..

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When I taught this in seminar in NYC in 1999, I should have left the country quickly. The sky rained anger and payback. You see, the programs of the most influential person in NYC didn’t have much if any horizontal rowing. I really paid for undermining the belief of this guru’s followers. People were warned not to attend my seminars, seminar hosts were warned they would be arrested, that I had been arrested/was going to be arrested etc. Wow! I think that really stirred up a hornets nest!

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Now in a 1999 seminar in Boston, I’m not really sure what pissed this person off. He gathered his followers in the first half of the day, held a conference in the middle of the meeting room so everyone could see, and then stormed out with no further communication. In the next 24 hours, the seminar host/organizer received communication from this person saying how bad a presenter I was, how bad my content was, and if the host dared bring me back to the area, x, y and z was going to happen to them. Let me think – here is what the seminar taught:

A. Injury prevention is more important than performance enhancement..

B. Loading is over-rated, and a person should not be exposed to external loading until it has been confirmed that they are technically sound and capable using their own bodyweight.

C. Exercises can be categorized into planes of movement including:

  • Quad dominant
  • Hip dominant
  • Horizontal pressing movements – bench press & variations
  • Vertical pressing movement – shoulder presses & variations
  • Horizontal pulling movements – rowing & variations
  • Vertical pulling movements – chin ups & variations
  • Abdominal

D. The concept of a family tree of exercises, which you can use to create progressions, as well as further divide all movements into single, double and multi-joint, unilateral and bilateral movements

E. Speed of movement (tempo) can be communicated via a three digit timing system I created.

F. Most programs lack balance and cause more damage than good.

G. Generally speaking for every pulling movement there needs to be a pushing movement, for every quad dominant movement there needs to be a hip dominant movement.
H. Absence of horizontal pulling is one of the greatest upper-body training flaws, combined with the dominance of benching and other horizontal pushing movements in sequence, volume and loading.

I. Chin ups (vertical pulling) are not the opposing movement to bench press (horizontal pushing), and horizontal pulling is needed to balance this out.

J. The same fate is suffered by the hip dominant muscles due to over-emphasis in program design of quad dominant movements.

K. Single joint exercises like the leg curl of the stiff legged deadlift do not balance out multi-joint high load potential exercises like the squat.

L. Some unique single leg bodyweight and low load movements were taught, many my own creations.

M. Volume in training typically used is excessive and this has been influenced by the use of anabolic steroids. For those who do not take these drugs, lower volume programs are needed.

N. An excellent mixed strength adaptations method is the Hatfield method of sets of 6/12/20 reps in the same exercise.

O. Recovery is as important as training. The training effect only occurs as a result of both the training stimulus and the recovery from the stimulus.

P. The aerobic base is a myth and challenges the intermediate fibers to operate more slow twitch than fast twitch.

Q. Injuries such as hamstring strains are more often than not the result of impinged nerves that supply the hamstring, not a hamstring strain in the first instance.

R. The concept of paradigms

So I can’t say exactly which part of that pissed this bloke off. I think it’s safe to say everything I said was different to what he would have been doing at that time. And ironically – in the ensuing decade – everything I taught that day in seminar, my original conclusions from the prior 20 years of coaching – were published by this person – and I have yet to find a mention of my name in any of it!

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I spent the 1990s fighting against specificity. The catch cry then was ‘But that’s not specific’. Or ‘This is specific’. The challenge with specificity is that it assumed transfer. You can’t do that. You can’t guarantee transfer. And some stuff that does transfer to performance is not specific in nature.

The term functional is just a new way of saying specific. The same assumption exists – do this and it will be ‘functional’. Apart from the term functional being undefined, you can’t guarantee training outcomes! To add to that, function is an adjective, an outcome – it is not an exercise or training method. It’s simply used to give credibility to anything you want to put the word ‘functional’ before!

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Those seeking to be seen to be the gatekeepers of information teach crap like this because they fear the wave of change may steamroll them. It’s hard to be the top dog if the world is doing stuff you didn’t lead them to. It’s great some tissue alteration work is now being proclaimed (although I question if the manufacture and distribution of a commercial device was the trigger for the permission to encourage this) – but stop misleading people. You don’t make adequate soft tissue changes to the body in 5 or even 20 minutes. Just like stretching – when it’s in a program, it’s there as a token – not with adequate exposure to the stimulus to make a difference. If equipment distributors could figure out how to send disposable masseurs in the mail to you at a reasonable price point, you would suddenly see a slew of articles on the 8 steps to a workout, with having the masseur massage you being the 8th.

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Give me a break! You don’t have to copy this bullsh*t to be successful. Sure it might take time, and (god forbid) you might even need to get experience – but you can make a real difference and share your genuine success – without resorting to the bullsh*t that appears to have become the gold standard of the period 2000-2010!

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What about today’s strength & conditioning climate excites you most?

Firstly Sean, as I laid out in my ‘So you want to become a physical preparation coach’ book (1999), I don’t use this term, and don’t endorse it:

"Is ‘strength and conditioning coach’ the best term? There are challenges presented with this title by virtue of the word ‘strength’ appearing first and as separate word from conditioning. It can be argued that it presents an image of strength being separate and more important. I recall a meeting with a high-ranking government sports official in the early 1990’s who asked me “Does the association teach things other than strength?”

No. I don’t believe ‘strength and conditioning’ is the ‘best word’. I suggest it is more of an historical accident. But it does seem to be entrenched, at least in America. The term has not received full endorsement in Australia. I believe there are a number of reasons for this, which I will expand on shortly…..

My familiarity with the history of the NSCA is due in large part to me receiving journals pre- and post-1982, the year the name changed and the acronym stayed the same. (Should come as no surprise, but the above paragraph from my 1999 book and my discussion about the name change in the same book have been paraphrased in other publications without reference or credit to the source).

But I’m happy to use the term if it helps us communicate. As the saying goes, when in Rome, do as the Romans do!

So what excites me about today’s strength & conditioning climate. Very little.

The strength and conditioning association in America (NSCA) was founded by coaches, taken over by academics, and now is more of a personal trainer’s organization. I understand it. There are more personal trainers than S&C coaches, so go with the profit opportunities. Personal trainers don’t typically work with athletes, although it seems that if a personal trainer puts the word ‘coach’ before his name, they instantly receive the credibility of a coach. Now I am not knocking personal trainers or their clients. The world is made up of a lot of different people. But I am critical of personal trainers, who want to write articles about ‘keys to athletic success’. Just because it’s become so easy to be to be anything you want whilst hiding behind a keyboard, doesn’t mean it serves the best and highest good of anyone.

I’m seeing too much self-serving behavior. I am concerned for the direction of the industry. Not only does this fail to excite me, I am repulsed by it.

Now if you were to ask me – what excites me about the athlete preparation climate today? I might say – I get excited every time I see an athlete learn or do something that helps them go to the next level in their sport, that truly serves them long term.

Figure 4. A post training photo with Ian and an Austrian Rugby Team8

No matter how much the ‘McDonalds-how much profit can I make – how fast – how low skill levels can I employ – how can I template this’ mentality dominates the current market place – I maintain that this serves only the interests those providing the service. It doesn’t serve the end user. Would I want my kids to receive this as their only opportunity to fulfill their athletic potential? No! Would I want this as my only opportunity to fulfill my training potential? No! Would you be happy with this as your only opportunity to fulfill your potential?

I am also excited to find strength proponents’ and coaches like Phil and his colleagues at StrengthGuild.com – great to know the dominant behavior of the last decade has not killed all of those with intentions to serve and add value to others through training. You know, this used to be a dominant value of the US S&C fraternity in the 1980s and 1990s.


And with that, Part I of this interview comes to an end. Stay tuned for Part II of this interview where Ian discusses recovery techniques, how age affects training and provides advice to those truly interested in training athletes.

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1 King Sports International. Accessed January 29, 2011 from: http://www.kingsports.net/aboutksi.htm

2 King, Ian. Wave Loading Manifesto. Accessed January 29, 2011 from: http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/the_wave_loading_manifesto

3 King, Ian. The times they may be a-changing! Accessed January 29, 2011 from: http://www.strengthguild.com/forum/showthread.php?125-The-times-they-may-be-a-changing!

4 King, Ian. Get Buffed ™. 1999.

5 Photo obtained and re-posted with permission from Ian King. Accessed March 2, 2011 from:http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=352487024035&set=a.498030839035.281831.352442794035&theater

6 Photo obtained and re-posted with permission from Ian King. Accessed March 2, 2011 from:http://www.facebook.com/album.php?fbid=389869599035&id=352442794035&aid=168367#!/photo.php?fbid=392588009035&set=a.389869599035.168367.352442794035&theater

7 Photo obtained and re-posted with permission from Ian King. Accessed March 2, 2011 from:http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=426303054035&set=a.426302034035.204772.352442794035&theater

8 Photo obtained and re-posted with permission from Ian King. Accessed March 2, 2011 from: http://www.facebook.com/photos.php?id=352442794035#!/photo.php?fbid=392144524035&set=a.389869599035.168367.352442794035&theater

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Written on March 02, 2011 by Sean Casey
Last Updated: February 22, 2014

This information is not intended to take the place of medical advice.Please check with your health care providers prior to starting any new dietary or exercise program. CasePerformance is not responsible for the outcome of any decision made based off the information presented in this article.

About the Author: Sean Casey is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in both Nutritional Science-Dietetics and Kinesiology-Exercise Physiology. Sean graduated academically as one of the top students in both the Nutritional Science and Kinesiology departments.
Field Experience: During college, Sean was active with the UW-Badgers Strength and Conditioning Department. He has also spent time as an intern physical preparation coach at the International Performance Institute in Bradenton, FL. He also spent time as an intern and later worked at Athletes Performance in Tempe, AZ. While at these locations he had the opportunity to train football, soccer, baseball, golf and tennis athletes. Sean is also active in the field of sports nutrition where he has consulted with a wide variety of organizations including both elite (NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars) and amateur athletic teams. His nutrition consultation services are avalable by clicking on the Nutrition Consultation tab.