• "WannaGetFast.com: An Interview with Dan Fichter, CSCS"
  • "McMaster University Summer Strength & Conditioning Program"
  • "Fat Loss Q'n'A"

Elite Speed Coach Interview: Dan Fichter, CSCS

CB: Dan Fichter, CSCS, is a strength and conditioning coach in Rochester, NY. Dan owns www.wannagetfast.com and works with a lot of athletes and…well, let's just have Dan explain…

DF: Wannagetfast (WGF) is a company designed to help athletes reach their full potential. My job is to marry science to the art of coaching.

I work with a variety of different athletes from elite high shoolers to professional level athletes. Male or female, it makes no difference to me as long as you want to bust your butt to get better! If you want to be the best in your craft and are willing to work hard to get there, you're a perfect candidate for WGF. Right now the majority of professional athletes that I work with are hockey players. We are seeing great changes in on ice performance.

I have been spoiled rotten when it comes to mentors. Guys like John Davies, Peter Weyand, Ken Jakwolski, and Dr Mel Siff all have influenced my work in so many different ways. Again, these men are scientists and coaches. The absolute best in their fields! What a tremendous amount of knowledge! If I had to say what my area of expertise was when it comes to training, I guess if push came to shove I would say speed training. The most superior weapon in sport today!

CB: So how did you get started?

DF: I guess you could say I got started in the sport by my own curiosity. I wanted to learn how to run faster. I was a 4.6 guy (forty yard dash) coming out of high school. By the time I tested at a professional combine, I was a 4.2 guy on the grass. I know what works. I have been through it all. I was lucky enough to have played a few seasons in the Arena Football League and also had a short stint in Canada.

I have seen many methods and fads, and have completely cut that from my own training programs. If you truly believe in your methodics as a trainer, you will have great success in the business! The programs at WGF work, plain and simple. Each year more and more athletes are realizing this.

CB: Tell us about your summer programs that you are setting up.

DF: My summer is a very exciting time! I actually cannot wait until it gets here! I run a few speed camps in Rochester, NY in late June. I chose to work at about 3-5 select sports camps. One camp I chose to work at is Tony Lipani's Inspire Football Camp in Spencerport, NY. Tony is one of the great young minds in H.S. Football. He turns out some pretty great athletes and knows how to motivate kids. I love working with his teams.

I also work with a select group of athletes on a personal basis. The assembly is very select, and it is mostly professional level athletes seeking to heighten their performance. This year we have a great group of guys. I am very wound up about this! When I watch these guys play on TV, it is the biggest buzz for me to see one of my guys having success. God knows with all the hard work they put in. They deserve it. Training for them in the summer becomes a life style. They have to be devoted!

I am also looking into the idea of joining forces with another company who specializes in youth development. What I am finding is when an athlete gets to WGF they have not developed the proper work threshold, movement skills, or coordination. Lots of what I have to do is remedial work. If we could have a program that prepared kids I think they would be so much more successful!

CB: In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of training an athlete?

DF: Hmmm…that is a tough one to answer because most athletes lack a few different things depending on their sport or athletic background. My main goal is to maximize performance and address the complete development of the athlete. There can be no weaknesses.

    My programs focus on:
  • Flexibility
  • Agility
  • Linear speed
  • Work Threshold
  • Speed Strength
  • Sports Specific needs of the sport

All these components John Davies calls the Wheel of Development. I don't care what you call it. If your program does not address all these components, you will not develop fully in my opinion. Add periodization and restorative means, and you are on your way to developing a solid Plan of Attack!

Most H.S. students lack the fundamental knowledge of what performance training really is. They think they should be chasing some silly number in the weight room or the track (i.e. Forty Yard dash, bench press or squat). Far too many strength professionals and their clients waste time chasing these ridiculous numbers that do not equate to better on field performances.

We are far better off perfecting technique and rate of force development to enhance our ability to make decisions and react. This is the essence of sports. Optimal strength not maximal strength. Don't hide yourself in the weight room for the entire off-season. If you lack the plan, plan on lacking when it counts.

One thing young kids have to learn…great athletes can manipulate their body weight very well. Can you? I didn't say great athletes can bench 400 pounds. Although many fitness publications would lead many kids to believe that the bigger their muscles are, the better they will play. Reaction timing and strength can make up for lack of size.

CB: Dan, that is a wonderful philosophy, and it is great to hear that you working so hard to get the message across to so many young people. One popular question is what equipment should athletic preparation coaches buy? Do you use any tools of the trade?

DF: I am not a big tool guy. I believe in hard work, and as John Davies (one of the greatest strength minds out there) says, "A back to the Basics Approach!"

A big fad on the fitness scene right now is the word over training. I hate that word. In many cases the athlete lacks work threshold development and they call it over training. My athletes go into camp in shape. Overtraining happens with an improperly designed program. They should call it "program failure" not over training. Sorry for the rant!

CB: No apologies necessary. Dan, take us through your in-season training philosophy.

DF: In season training is a touchy subject, depending on the professional you ask. I think that we can make modest gains in season. I look at in season training like the 100-meter dash. After 60-70 meters of the race, everyone is slowing down. The one who wins slows down the slowest. Do you get that?

I like a 3-day split with very few exercises. I like to add complexes to the training too. For instance, we will bench press heavy followed by maximal medicine ball passes. Or, we will squat, followed by vertical jumps.

I designed a program for the college football team that I coach, and the best part about the program is that it is a perfect conduit for the off-season program. You just roll right into it. If you are sprint training, do it 2 times a week with 3 days of tempo runs. Remember training is only good if you can recover from it.

CB: That leads perfectly into the next question. What tools do you have in your advanced recovery methods?

DF: Do I use advanced recovery methods? Well if these ten things are advanced then so be it. I use the following in any given training session or block of training.

  • Vibro-massage/regular massage
  • Ice massage
  • Contrast Baths
  • GPP (General Physical Preparation)
  • Tempo runs
  • Active rest/ Cross training
  • EMS
  • Static stretching
  • Nutritional strategies
  • Periodization

These can be used between sets or between blocks of training etc.

For the H.S. athlete, I feel nutritional strategies need to be implemented first. Kids think supplements are the key. Wrong! The definition of a supplement is adding to something that is lacking. Again, the lack is a proper plan. We need to get kids to eat right and train right.

I would also use ice baths, GPP, and loads of static stretching to help jumpstart the recovery process at the end of a workout! Well I think that just about covers it.

CB: Awesome. I'm sure the athletes, elite and weekend warriors, reading this article are a lot better off now. We really appreciate your input. Do you want to leave some contact information?

DF: Hey thanks for the interview it was really fun. I am always here to answer or assist. Here is my contact information: Dan Fichter Wannagetfast Power/Speed Training-NY www.wannagetfast.com

McMaster University Summer Strength & Conditioning Program

Attention all athletes in the Hamilton, Ontario area. McMaster University Athletics is offering a Summer Strength and Conditioning program for athletes (high school and older) looking to improve their speed, agility, and performance for next season. For more information check out the McMaster Athletics Web-Site at www.athrec.mcmaster.ca/strength or email mcmasterstrength@hotmail.com.

Fat Loss Q'n'A

Q: I want to lose the last of my body fat before summer. I'm about 5'8 and weigh 135, but I still have a layer of fat over my abdominals.


In this situation, it sounds as though you don't have enough muscle on your frame to benefit from low body fat. You can only achieve a certain level of definition if you are already "skinny". If you don't have a lot of muscle mass, even small amounts of fat will prevent you from achieving superior muscle definition.

Your physique will benefit more from gaining muscle than it will from losing more fat. At this point, you should gain muscle quite quickly by increasing your calorie intake and using a solid resistance training program. Don't be scared to put on some muscle mass to help your muscle definition.

Someone once said, "Bodybuilding is all about creating an illusion". With more muscle, yet the same amount of fat, a lot of guys would be far happier with their physiques. The same principles apply to anyone over 6 feet tall that weigh less than 160 pounds.

The Get Lean manual combines resistance training and interval training to help you build a lean and muscular physique. Visit this link for more details: www.cbathletics.com/programs_getlean.htm.

Q: My mom is looking for a program to help her gain strength and lose fat. Where can I find some information?


You can find a great program for mature women at www.workoutmanuals.com. Look for the manual entitled "Prime Woman's Health". There is a progressive exercise program that will take your mother through a step-by-step introduction to fitness.

Another great resource is this two-part article from Prevention magazine. The links are:
Part I - http://www.prevention.com/cda/feature2002/0,4780,4917,00.html
Part II - http://www.prevention.com/cda/feature2002/0,4780,4920,00.html

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