ATHLETIC CONSULTING TRAINING REPORT -
INSIDE THIS ISSUE…
- “Is Your Fat Loss Program on Track for Success?”
- “Coach Profile: Sheldon Persad”
- “The Overhead Squat – Balance & Flexibility Required”
Getting Your Fat Loss Program on Track
Now that the first two months of 2003 have
came and went, its time to evaluate the results of all your
hard work. Have you made the progress you set out to achieve
this year? Are you on track to meet your New Year’s resolutions?
If you are stuck, then please, please, re- evaluate your
training and nutrition. Meet with a trainer or nutritionist
and get professional advice. Check out a CB ATHLETICS manual.
And in the meantime, read this article from the archives:
Hopefully it will steer you in the right direction on your
road to fat loss and better health.
Interview with Sheldon Persad of Personal
Sheldon Persad, BPE, CSCS, CPTN-CPT
Co-owner Personal Best Health & Performance Inc.
Strength and Conditioning Coach
CB: Sheldon, Thank you for the interview.
Why don't you start by telling us a little bit about your
current coaching commitments?
SP: The very first coaching job I was paid
for was over 18 years ago and since that day I knew that
I wanted to be a career coach and if lucky enough have coaching
as my primary vocation as well. I’ve worked with over 700
marathoners, triathletes, duathletes, and athletes from
several different team sports. I hope to still be coaching
20 + years from now.
CB: What is your educational background?
SP: I graduated from McMaster University,
I hold a CSCS designation and I am a certified personal
trainer. I am actually one of the co- founders of the Canadian
Personal Trainers’ Network and as such teach, assess and
certify personal trainers. I also teach the assessors of
personal trainers and I am on the National Certification
Committee. I am a course conductor for the National Coaching
Certification Program (NCCP), and through the NCCP I am
certified in several different sports. I teach in the fitness
leadership program at Seneca College, and the new Excelerate
Speed Agility Quickness certification courses.
CB: Sheldon, I attended the Level 1 of
the Excelerate program at your facility, and I have to say
that it was very educational. The instruction was top-notch.
It helped me re-design portions of my training sessions.
What is your competitive background?
SP: Many moons ago I was a provincial champion
in track and field and did compete in the US at the junior
national level. I still play rugby and have been doing so
for almost 20 years (high school, university, club and representative).
However, I also coach with the rugby club I am a member
of and realize that as a player there are far fewer games
ahead of me as there are behind me. I also try to play (a
form of) hockey once per week and really have not played
a sport I did not enjoy.
CB: Let’s move on to your coaching. What
is the range of your clientele?
SP: The full spectrum, male and female, national
team athlete to novice athlete, young and old.
CB: What are your personal achievements
as a coach?
SP: Being privileged enough to teach other
coaches, trainers, athletes and my clients is something
that I am very proud to do. Most recently, I have completed
writing a book with a colleague for personal trainers.
CB: Excellent. I look forward to seeing
your book. Please let the readers of cbathletics.com
know when it is available. Can you describe a typical day
of training and coaching that you will go through?
SP: For the most part I train clients one
on one in the mornings then coach teams and team members
in the afternoons. My day usually starts at 6:30 in the
morning and ends at 7:00ish at night, except the nights
that I teach at College which end a little later.
CB: Let’s talk about the team coaching
a little more. How do you monitor your athletes as they
push the upper limits of their performance?
SP: Completely individual, as you know Craig,
one responsibility that we have is continuously assessing
the needs of our athletes / clients. Nevertheless, I often
use resting heart rate as one indication of overtraining
CB: What are your tips for the female
athlete, and coaches and parents of female athletes for
improving performance? Is it any different than for men?
SP: As with the above question, it is completely
individual. I prefer NOT to assess an individual based only
on gender but upon individual needs. The concern that I
do have for females especially dealing with team athletes
(i.e. rugby) is that testing standards are usually male
dominated. When setting goals caution should be taken to
ensure that objectives are not based on men’s results.
CB: What are your other goals as a coach?
SP: To continue to teach, to continue trying
to discover methods of training, to write another book,
to continue to grow my company, and to have another radio
CB: Sheldon, you are doing an excellent
job so far. It’s great to hear what other professionals
are doing in the field and you are setting a great example
for other coaches and those just getting started in the
field of health and performance. What is your coaching philosophy?
SP: Directly from an NCCP course I did some
years ago, “My main objective is to teach healthy lifestyle
skills to every individual who I coach / train.”
It is my wish that all have the skills beyond
their sport(s) involvement to maintain healthy active lives
free of injuries due to overtraining, overuse and / or improper
Second, my goal is to ensure the success of
any team or program I am involved with through organized,
well structured, and at times FUN training sessions. If
the athletes enjoy themselves at training sessions, adherence
will be high and game play / performance will continue to
Third, I want to do my best to increase the
individual skill level of all athletes I deal with. Some
always need more attention then others, however I would
like to motivate each person to play / compete to their
CB: Can you compare your training philosophies
of then and now? Have they changed?
SP: The philosophies have not changed; nevertheless
what occurs over time is (hopefully) more improved ways
of accomplishing the goals. To this end I have tried to
learn from as many different people as possible. There are
dozens of people – university professors, chiropractors,
physiotherapists, and other coaches who I try to learn from.
CB: So what are some of the training techniques
that you have found to be most valuable to the athlete?
SP: I am constantly trying to improve my needs
analysis methods. At the moment I have an eight-step plan
that has been working fairly well. I detail the method in
articles on PT on the NET and also on our web site www.personalbest.ca
CB: During the Excelerate certification,
you described sport as “chaos”. Would you like to elaborate
on that description and its implications for athletes and
SP: A common mistake we all make as coaches
/ trainers is trying to take too much responsibility for
our athlete’s / client’s goals. There are so many variables
that we do not control, variables that no one can control.
Sport as chaos suggests the unpredictability of occurrences.
At times we simply must accept what happens. The implications
for training are trying, as difficult as it may seem, to
plan for the unexpected. For example, teaching a triathlete
how to change a flat tire. Also, for example, teaching an
athlete to value process goals as opposed to only outcome
CB: Excellent advice. Let’s turn to your
specialty – endurance sports. Could you list the 3 top tips
you could give to a beginner runner?
Do not set goals (races, times, etc) based on what training
partners or friends are doing.
At times, train at the speed you want to race.
Listen to your body – often the best training is rest!
CB: Can you elaborate on the use of strength
training for a runner? You had mentioned to me the importance
of upper body strength in hill climbs.
SP: Runners should not underestimate the value
of having a strong upper body. Your legs will do whatever
your arms dictate. This means that the best strength program
for a runner is one that incorporates upper and lower body
exercises. Powerful arm drive will aid powerful leg turn
over especially when climbing hills.
CB: And how do you prevent running injuries?
SP: CROSS TRAINING – utilizing as many different
modes of activity as possible (that the athlete enjoys)
to train the central system. Water running is an excellent
alternative (with a belt or jacket) for the healthy runner.
Too often water running is prescribed as a method of rehab
for the injured runner. Why not implement water-running
sessions on a regular basis?
CB: And finally, how do you coach a runner
on re-fueling and nutrition?
SP: This depends upon volume of training,
mileage and intensity. A common mistake here for the novice
runner is trying a new fluid replacement drink for the first
time during a race. If you plan on using a drink during
a race, train using it. If you are uncertain of the contents
of a drink supplied during a race, stay away from it and
bring your own. Best advise here (because I am not nor profess
to be an expert on nutrition) is to seek advice from a specialist.
CB: What do you recommend for someone
who is interested in doing a mini- triathlon?
SP: Try and find group training sessions in
your area. Having a coach correct your form (especially
in the water) is invaluable.
CB: Thanks Sheldon. Do you want to leave
a contact email or phone number?
Introducing the Overhead Squat
This is a great exercise for athletes. The
overhead squat will help your balance and flexibility. It
is not an exercise to be used to improve your max squat
or bench press.
According to one author, “The overhead squat
requires total concentration, total lockout and perfect
positions. There is no cheating; one can’t squirm, roll
the knees or hips, or let other body parts help kick in.
It builds ‘Dad Strength’.” – but please don’t use your child
as the resistance in this exercise.
In preparation for overhead squats, you will
need to adequately warm-up the shoulder area. Holding a
broomstick in this position will be a relatively novel task
for the majority of lifters and you may find it uncomfortable.
However, you must be strong and flexible with this hold
position because according to one lifter, “As a beginner
starts to squat down, the bar tends to float forward.” Don’t
let the broomstick move forward because this will completely
ruin your balance.
Dr. Mel Siff recommends using a broomstick
to begin learning the overhead squat – just like our model
Emily is doing here.
Using a broomstick will allow you to practice
and to increase the depth of your squat while maintaining
an extended elbow position. If you can only do a half-squat,
then do that and hold yourself in the bottom position for
a couple of seconds while maintaining perfect position and
balance. Make a gradual progression at each training session.
The overhead squat is a nice exercise to include in your
warm-up on a regular basis. You will make great strides
in flexibility and balance.
When you begin, it is unlikely that you will
be able to squat deeply while holding the proper “extended
arm” position. This is due to a lack of flexibility in joints
of the lower limbs and the shoulders. Dr. Siff warns that
it is very important “to choose a hand spacing which suits
you, because too narrow a spacing will be very stressful
on the shoulders and will severely limit the depth to which
you will be able to squat.”
Renegade Coach John Davies recommends using
a “snatch grip” – the distance between your elbows when
your arms are parallel to the floor.
Furthermore, according to Dr. Siff, “It is
essential that you NEVER bend or relax the arms while overhead
squatting. This means always using light resistance. If
you never advance beyond a broomstick, don’t worry. It will
still help you with overall balance and flexibility. Dr.
Siff also recommends against doing overhead squats with
Some final tips:
- Warm-up your shoulder joint with light dumbbell lateral
raises and light shoulder presses before your first set
of overhead squats.
- To start, practice overhead squatting with a broomstick.
- Have a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
(CSCS) analyze your form.
- Don’t advance to a barbell unless a Strength Coach agrees
you are using perfect form.
- Determine your optimal posture in this exercise.
- Use multiple sets of only 2-3 repetitions to practice.
- Dr. Mel Siff recommends against using more than 5 reps
per set because he feels this is unnecessarily stressful
for the joints of the upper limbs.
- If you cannot move into a very low squat position, then
go as far as you can, but whatever you do, never allow
the elbows to unlock.
- Your shoulder flexibility and balance will be challenged.
If you have flexibility or balance problems, be patient,
practice, and it will come in time.
- Stand with your feet shoulder width-apart.
- Hold the broomstick with a snatch grip over your head.
- Snatch grip – the distance between your elbows when
your arms are parallel to the floor. Your body will form
a “Y” position – see our photos.
- Lock your elbows. You may need to push your hands out
even further to do this – and bring your shoulder blades
- Push outward and back on the bar. Concentrate on pushing
the bar to a position slightly behind the head, not in
front of the head – see our photos.
- Once you've found this lockout position, find a visual
focal point on the wall slightly overhead and squat down.
- Keep a tight abdominal core throughout the entire movement.
- With your back arched, chest out, and arms raised,
squat down slowly by pushing your hips back.
- To practice, go only as far as a half- or quarter-squat.
- Pause for a 3-count while holding your balance and posture.
- Reverse the movement and stand up.
CB ATHLETIC CONSULTING