In January 2015, I gave a talk and workshop on "Strength Training for Grappling Athletes" at the Hawaii Strength Clinic, a conference at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. At the same conference Ed Coan gave a talk on "Mastering the Art & Science of Powerlifting".
Over the 4 days of the conference I spent quite a bit of time with Ed, ate some meals and had some very interesting conversations about strength training. Ed is one of the friendliest, most accommodating, and outspoken people I have ever met in this industry. Anyone who has the chance to meet him in person and hear his views on strength training should take heed.
Furthermore, one of the luminaries and pioneers of powerlifting. He is a 12-time world champion, has set over 70 world records and has squatted more than 1000lbs/454kg more times than any other powerlifter in history.
In addition to many smaller and larger things that I picked up from him, here are 8 pearls:
1. There are many ways to squat. Some are bad. None is the best.
There are primarily two squat techniques. The power squat and the Olympic squat. The big difference is that the former is initiated by pushing the hips back and the other by pushing the knees forward instead. Both have their advantages. A detailed description of both variants and their execution can also be found in my book " The Perfect Squat ".
Ed prefers the power squat during the 12 week prep because it allows him to lift significantly heavier weights, which is critical in his sport - powerlifting/powerlifting.
Outside of this 12-week preparation, the Olympic squat is preferred because it requires more mobility and muscular balance, which translates better and more sustainably to athletic performance. As well as because, as he says, it was always his "weaker" squat. Of course, for sets of 12 reps over 700lbs, "weak" is relative.
2. Knowledge that is not applied is worthless.
As simple as that: If you spend 20 hours a week reading books about training, but don't go to the gym to apply what you've learned, that's 20 wasted hours. The same applies to seminars. Learn something and then apply it in the real world.
Results in the real world is all that matters. You want to learn more about strength training, spend more time in the gym.
3. Get strong/stronger.
Strength is the mother of all qualities. you think you are strong Ed Coan does 400lbs seated press, 500lbs bent-over LH rows, and wide pronated pull-ups as the third exercise in his 240lbs back workout, plus 200lbs of extra weight for 5 reps.
you think you are strong It's not you. get stronger
4. "Don't drink the Kool-Aid."
The internet is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to strength training. The best because at no point in history has anyone in the world had access to so much information to become stronger. And at the same time, there has never been a point in history as watered down as now from guys who can write, speak and publish their assumptions online and still have followers who believe all of their assumptions and are trying in vain to get stronger become.
In most cases they don't. Why? Because 18-year-old driving instructors lack experience, knowledge and results. If you want to get stronger then listen to people who consistently produce results. Constant. Not just twice. .
Ed is the most decorated powerlifter of all time. With competition bests of 1019lbs/464kg in the squat, 901lbs/409kg in the deadlift and 584lbs/265kg in the bench press. And he helped thousands improve their lifts.
Do you want to get better? Ask yourself who you listen to. And listen to those who consistently prove they can produce results.
5. Choose exercises based on what you are weak at.
Everyone likes to do exercises they are good at. But these exercises are not your weak points, it is not the exercises that make you better. Your incline press or neck press will lag behind. Choose these instead of flat bench presses to strengthen these exercises and, in turn, your flat bench press.
Ed, like many other successful strength training coaches, believes that "strengthening the weakest link makes the whole chain stronger".
6. If you can do LH neck presses, you have healthy shoulders.
Few coaches like the neck press because of its potential dangers. Ed is a big fan of the neck press because it offers far more benefits than dangers. If you can't at least press the empty barbell overhead starting from the traps, you don't have healthy shoulders. Optimize your mobility. And start with the empty dumbbell. work your way up All your upper body exercises will increase with it.
7. Be constant. Be persistent.
Ed started powerlifting in 1980. He competed in his first competition that same year and posted a PR of 484lbs/220kg. In 1999 he squatted 1000lbs/454kg for the first time. It took him 19 years to increase his squat by 500 pounds.
That's persistence. And consistency.
8. No one gets strong by eating chicken and salad all the time.
The point is simple: don't overdo it with "clean eating." Eat as many carbs as you deserve. If your carbohydrate consumption doesn't meet your needs, you won't make any progress. At certain times it is crucial to eat sugar. Yes, sugar is not Paleo. 450 lbs bench press isn't Paleo either. Adjust your food to your status and goals. If you do choose carbs, choose the likes of sweet potato fries, gluten-free pasta, mashed potatoes, buckwheat pancakes with real maple syrup, high-quality chocolate, and good ice cream.
Good luck with the implementation of these pearls!
Image: Wolfgang with Ed having breakfast on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii in January 2015.