Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Interview with Cameron Gardner

This is an interview I did with Cameron Gardner. I have known Cam for a few years, going back to our rookie year with the bobsled team, when we were both rookies trying out for the US National team as push athletes. Cam is a firefighter out in New Jersey, but also one of the brightest strength coaches out there. To top it off, he is a class act, always willing to help out or answer a question.

Cam, tell the people who you are:

Hi, I'm Cameron Gardner CSCS
part owner of East Coast West Coast Strength, Speed and Conditioning.  I am a former 105kg Professional Strongman, USA bobsledder and sprinter.  I got interested in strength training when I began sprinting. As a competitive sprinter, I had a tough time finding a coach who knew how to weight train for speed development.  This forced me to learn as much as I could on my own. 

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your training strategy.  People, books..ect.
C-Initially, I have to say Charles Poliquin's early articles in Muscle Media 2000 opened my eyes to the world of sports specific training. Dr. Mel Siff taught me not to trust paradigms, Charlie Francis influenced my speed model, trial and error has been my biggest teacher though. 

I checked out your website  Very cool.  how did it come about.  
C-I've been involved with strength and speed development for over twelve years.  I mostly operated independently.  My training partner for most of those years was Scott Brengel another 105kg Professional Strongman and former football player. He and I studied a lot of the same material, worked with a lot of the top strength and speed coaches out there and tested and experimented with a lot of training methodologies together.
He moved out to the west coast years ago.  He trained some athletes privately out there.  About 6 years ago he trained a few football players who received scholarships from schools here on the east coast.  It would have been a shame to turn these athletes loose on their own.  Being here on the east coast it was only logical for them to continue there training under my guidance.  This was the beginning of the concept of ECWC.  We have recently decided to explore this business jointly by having an East coast operation based in North Jersey and a West coast operation based in Costa Mesa, California.  I focus mostly on football players, track athletes, and people looking to alter body composition.  Scott works with football players and Mixed Martial Artists,  however we can work with any athlete.  We share similar beliefs yet, we always get in to heated debates about training methods!  Anyone who works with us gets the best of both worlds.

What would be your training philosophy if you had to sum it up?

C-Specificity.  I think this principle if applied correctly is the most important factor in developing an athlete correctly.  Another favorite strategy of mine is you need only as much stimulus to elicit a training effect, no more.  Lastly, proper nutrition is the foundation for the rest.
Being a good coach is also an art.  The beauty of what we do is applying methods, means and exercises that are directly correlated to the athlete, energy system and sport.  This could be working weak links in the body, or developing an athlete with sports specific exercises.  I see so many coaches who throw in all kinds of fancy exercises that they see, but really there are only a handful of exercises you really need to adequately work an athlete for his or her sport.
I see football coaches who give all kinds of plyos, line hops, olympic lifts, power lifts, conditioning drills, sprints and exercises and wonder why all his players do not improve or are beat down all the time.  You must remember an athlete's primary goal is to get better at their respective sport not be the best in the weight room or in exercise performance.  Too many kids get caught up in gaining size.  Size may have a part in some sports, but it's not the end all be all.  Lastly, most of the time, the best athlete in a sport isn't also the strongest/fastest guy in the gym. 

I think RFD, is the key to improving most sports performance.  If you could only do things , what would they be for an athlete to do to develop better rate of force development.
C-Plyometrics, speed work, increasing strength will, by default, improve RFD up to a point.
Monitor body composition it has an effect on RFD.  Its about moving loads plyometrically, explosively, you can change the load and that will alter the rate.  You should look to move loads specific to your sport and at speeds related to your sport. 
For example, Having a sprinter drag a tire or sled out of the blocks will upset/alter his form and speed qualities too much to be of a benefit specifically, but if you have that same sprinter drag a 400lb sled, while not being specific,  he will still develop a general strength training effect without disrupting motor patterns related to sprinting. 

What do you do now, they you wouldn't have done a few years ago, and what do you don't do now that you used to do.  
C- I overtrained for years.  Not in the sense of being ill, but by not recovering fully to maximize my efforts. There is a concept in Supertraining, called transformation,  It's the time needed to realize complete recovery and gains associated with that.  It can be a few days to a few weeks.   During my sprinting days I never raced fully recovered and fresh.  Speed is the most temperamental quality, you have to be delicate with it.

Your able to travel back and tell the cameron of ten years ago something about training, what would it be?  
C- I would focus on doing the least amount or work needed to elicit a response.  I would also be smarter and think about longevity.  A joint is composed of materials that can degradate.  You are only going to get so much life out of them.  The less you can do while still improving the better.  If you are a sprinter who is doing 8-10 100m, what for?  You will never need that much repeatability in a real meet.  Perhaps, a heat, semi's and finals.  Why do some many repeats.  Focus on the quality of them.  The same holds true for weight training.  If you are a powerlifter looking to raise a max attempt.  Why do 20-30 sets of 1-5 reps?  The law of repeated efforts will not improve strength in that manner. 

How can readers learn more about your services and get in touch with you.

Thanks man!

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