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Is Olympic-Style Weightlifting A Necessity For Athletes?

Over the years (and I’ve been working with athletes for nearly 15 years), I am asked when my son or daughter will start using the “Olympic Lifts” in his or her training. My answer is quite simple…. “perhaps never”.

This usually results in the “blank stare”……. as if my very statement was going to cast me straight to hell.

And for some uncanny reason… athletes, parents and coaches think everything needs complexity and that they are extremely advanced in their training maturation?

I’m curious as to what makes parents, athletes, coaches, lions and tigers….. sorry I was getting off track, believe or think that Olympic lifts are the “be all end all” for athletic development?

Go ahead… I’m waiting… #crickets!

Now I am an advocate of olympic style lifts and their variations for athletic training programs. But also keep in mind, under the appropriate timing and necessity. The pros must outweigh the cons in the scenario. The general population (parents / sport coaches), tend to perceive olympic lifting as the ultimate measuring stick of their son or daughter’s athletic ability.

barbell high-pull

Athlete Sean, performing a barbell, clean-grip, hang high-pull.

I have a lengthy resume of very successful athletes ranging from the NFL to student athletes that fenced at Duke. With some, I have employed olympic lifting variations and with others… they have never utilized a barbell.

As a “professional” coach you must evaluate the wants vs. needs.

So, what can be the positive transference of olympic lifting?
(And note – I mentioned “can be”)

• proper rate of force development
• some kinematic joint similarities to sports
• strength-speed
– just to list a few

So, what’s the problem? Why not just unleash the hounds?


Well, my largest observation is the improper execution of the lifts and their variations by the athletes. Parents typically don’t have the background knowledge to visually decipher what is right from wrong and coaches tend to negate on form / technique in favor of the weight on the bar.

So, what can be problematic?

poor power clean

Absolutely horrific technique and execution of a clean related movement.

• not sufficient strength levels ( and there is no calendar markers for this )
• lack of proper motor control
• inefficient technique ( if not perfected… you are NOT achieving the desired goals )
• biomechanical  restrictions ( what is interrupting the technique? )
– and you simply can not default to “practice makes perfect” in this situation, the math is not that simple

As an athlete… you are training for your sporting event(s)… you are NOT a powerlifter… you are NOT an Olympic lifter.

Saquon Barkley power clean. Poor landing position with feet too wide, too much external rotation at the hips, elbows low and squeezed inside with poor wrist position. NOT WORTH THE RISK!

There are greater alternatives to simulate the actions and training transfer. But the coach must explore the desired relationships that they are trying to achieve.

med ball backwards scoop

Here is an excellent alternative to a clean related movement of a med ball backwards scoop with a weighted vest, executed by the author.. wait that’s me!

The movement displayed directly above, involves the utilization of a 40lb. weighted vest and a 25lb medicine ball. I was capable of creating proper posture, driving my feet through the floor, executing triple extension from toes to finger tips to toss the medicine ball directly behind myself.

As a coach, and as an athlete, you must have a clear understanding of what the end goal is.

As a coach, how do I train my athletes and provide a safe performance environment?

As an athlete, I must make myself aware and recognize that I’m training for my sport. I’m not a powerlifter. I’m not an Olympic lifter. And the weight that is on the bar means nothing in the context of how well I play at my chosen sport.

Poor execution and application of a movement(s) like Olympic-style lifts simply leads to dysfunctional movement patterns that sooner or later are recognizable through injury.

Feel like a debate….?

Reach out… I’m good for a cup of coffee and a discussion.
– Coach Moody


Personal Paths To Recovery

Recently, I have received several emails and direct messages regarding what I do to help myself to recover from training sessions and maintain health. I know that I have made a few direct posts about recovery and a few modalities that I use on the GameSpeed Instagram page.

But, I felt the need to go into greater depth with some of the ways that I attempt to stay healthy. I don’t have a magic formula and my methods are nothing of monumental exploration. I make use of repetition and observation to determine what gives me the best results.

The primary focus is the control and proper reduction of inflammation in the body. These selections are in no particular order. I focus on my food choices and nutrition. I’m far from perfect, but probably adhere to an 85% to 15% ratio of good to poor food selections. I’m game for a kick ass piece of pizza and yummy peanut butter pie on occasion!


First, my recovery begins with a mindful application to my training. Making use of the ITT, and BLaK Reset developed by the IISM. Becoming methodical with the patterning and co-contraction assists me in helping to minimize my movement dysfunction.

Haute Sauna Studios

I frequent Haute Sauna Studio located in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. The localized heat from the infrared saunas provides a fantastic healing environment, and it makes me feel truly relaxed post session. There are many benefits to infrared therapy, and the positive impact on immune system function is unbelievable!

Chiropractic Family Health

I have been getting chiropractic care from my friend Shawn Richey for nearly 15 years. I can not say enough great things about the benefits of the chiropractic applications. I’m obviously a big believer in postural care and joint congruency, Shawn takes his time and there are many visits where he’ll make manipulations from head to toe.

I also utilize the power plate within the practice. The power plate is a great vibration therapy that accelerates healing in the body and stimulates the lymphatic system. Schedule permitting, I consistently make office visits 1 to 2 times a week.

Cranberry Cryotherapy

Now the complete contrast to infrared heat, I have made multiple visits to Cranberry Cryotherapy, located in Cranberry Twp. Throughout my athletic years, the use of cold therapy played a large roll in the reduction of inflammation post practice sessions and during the rehabilitation of injury. The cryo-chamber offers me a compressed time-frame to the exposure of the cold. I personally have not performed any research or examined the comparison of the cryo-chamber versus the ice tub submersion, but the my body feels extremely rejuvenated and “ready” when I complete the session.

Sangha Center

I enjoy the practice of yoga. There are many forms and I always advise someone new to the practice to explore different styles and methods to see what benefits them the best. For me personally, I love the vinyasa flow and yin yoga. I appreciate the patterning and blend of the sequencing. I have practiced yoga at many different studios. Recently my visits take me to, Sangha Center with Andrea Kirkham. If you are in the area, please stop in and attend a class.

binaural meditation

A majority of my friends and family would never suspect this next one! But, I get geeked about the research and findings in the relationship of frequencies and the various healing properties. It’s fascinating to investigate the neural connections of frequencies, beats and their health related properties. Even something as simple as a cat’s purr has benefits to the human body.
This has been my go to site to explore various frequencies. Music is therapy… remember that.

tens unit

And finally, I’ll try to put closure to the long-ass post! But, massage, manual therapies and the stim unit greatly assist me with recovery. Again there are many modalities available, so I would suggest determining what works best for you. The stim unit makes for great company while watching the news with a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning!

I utilize the following whole food supplements along with my diet to control inflammation. I’m not going to push or suggest any specific brands… they aren’t paying me to endorse them. But I highly recommend looking deep into the ingredients and origin of the supplements. Avoid synthetic bullshit!

• Curcumin
• Bromelain
• Vitamin C
• Magnesium lotion ( topical absorbs into the body at a much greater rate )
• Aged Garlic

So, there you have it. The many paths to recovery!

– Coach Shawn

IISM Origins an interview with Marc Hordon

Marc Hordon V3 of the HFD series

Marc Hordon performing V3 of the HFD series in the perfect scenic view!

In this post I interview Marc Hordon a friend of mine and founder of IISM and Boston Sports Institutes. Marc has opened Elite Baseball and Football Training Centers in the Greater Metro Area. His athletes are performing at extraordinary levels all through the region at both the high school and collegiate levels, but more importantly, Marc’s clients are hard working, good citizens and neighbors.

Now, as one of the up and coming national sport performance coaches, Marc’s efforts have led to great strides in injury prevention and maximizing athleticism for athletes and exercisers of all backgrounds. Marc’s passion for training, educating, and community service has proven to make the world a better place, one client, one team at a time.

*  originally posted 6 years ago

1.) Marc can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I was a pro-prospect baseball player and recruited by just about every top 25 baseball and football program in the country as a catcher/pitcher and QB. 94mph fastball, 70 yard football, and 4.7 40- speed at 6’3″ 225. I chose Harvard and immediately got injured. The strength and conditioning program made me worse and dropped my mph, and abuse from my coach my freshmen year (pitch 140 pitches on the regular as a starter (which I loved) but then started me at third the day after. Tore my labrum in my left shoulder diving for a ground ball on lax turf in 30-degree weather. The following spring I tore my right labrum stealing, sliding head first into third, after pithing 140 pitches in the first game. After FOUR years of American Harvard and local high level “rehabilitation” I tore my biceps tendon throwing, producing a third surgery, I began searching for other forms of training and re-hab. which consequently turned me towards Renegade.

2.) You have several projects going on right now with your various Boston Institutes. Can you highlight on them for the readers.

IISM is a lifestyle company that employs Renegade Training as its main form of sport performance and personal training. Our other offering of pain massage, lifestyle coaching, and corporate programs have been established by a number of extremely intense apprenticeships under internationally known and renowned, The Burdenko Method, The Egoscue Method, and multiple Eastern Modalities. The Boston Sports Institutes (Football, Baseball, Jump, Snow, and Cycling (to be released in Oct. 2011)) are comprised of Sport Performance Training and highly refined skill work in each of the sports. We have produced some tremendous high school and collegiate athletes, maintaining consistent performance and free from injuries. We are very excited about the success that we have had in our infancy of these programs.

3.) You have strong ties to baseball because of your collegiate playing days at Harvard. How did you migrate towards the diamond?

Unfortunately, I was drawn to baseball because I was good at it. Turns out, as I went through a tremendous transformation in understanding myself through an intense life-coaching program, I do not like baseball. In fact, I just retired this past summer from the sport despite being a perennial MVP candidate and winning in 2008. I deprived myself of coming to this understanding as the pressure mounted as a youngster with tremendous success. My father was instrumental in my development as a multi tooled athlete in baseball. I simply regret not playing football as I watch my QB replacement at Harvard, Ryan Fitzpatrick, tear up defenses on Sundays. That being said the path I am on now feels more natural than any athletic experience that I have ever had. I have recently picked up boarding (all types) and have resurrected my most successful sport at every level that I played, hockey. Skates are laced and my board is strapped in for the next 20 years of my life. who knows what else I will pick up along the way!

Marc Hordon performing a headstand in the wilderness

4.) What are your current thoughts on the Strength & Conditioning “arena” today? Any notable mistakes being made repeatedly or anything you just shake your head at?

Ha, strength and conditioning. Hilarious venue. Seriously though, I have to give credit to naming the practice “strength and conditioning” avoiding words like “sport” and “performance” and “training” and “athlete.” This industry makes our athletes “stronger” and “conditioned” but the results are arbitrary. We do not make our athletes better athletes… we, you and I do, but we are Sports Performance Coaches, totally different field.

This industry consistently makes us the worst athletes in the world despite the fact that our resources FAR outweigh those of all other countries. This “industry” in America is larger than any other country with a budget that can only draw the comparison to the New York Yankees budget vs. that of the Kansas City Royals. We do not dominate a single sport in the entire world and have lost over the last 20 years, our edge in sports invented in the US like baseball and basketball. I’m embarrassed by it as an American. We love wallowing in mediocrity.

My answer: Everything is wrong with the research and practice, and furthermore the industry has NO CONNECTION whatsoever with being a better human being, improving quality of life, injury prevention, education, or anything of a dynamic nature.

It is simply exactly what it claims it is in the name. Strength & Conditioning (in a cardio-sense and attempted work threshold-sense, not a muscle memory or movement pattern sense). No more, no less. It’s grossly underperforming.

5.) Who are your professional influences?

John Davies obviously is my biggest. We have weekly and often bi-weekly Skype meetings about career and the future of HH and Renegade International. Others are Lauren Meckler, and internationally acclaimed and best-selling life coach, a neuro-muscular guru who’s name I am not allowed to name by contract, Igor Burdenko, a Russian muscular genius responsible for the Burdenko Method, who’s pool-based rehabilitation process is revolutionary for the 50 plus age group and a REPLACEMENT for surgeries that our baby-boomers are having in record numbers. Description: )

6.) Any personal influences you would like to mention?

As presenter and clinician I have my father to thank. He is the most dedicated and energized speaker and clinician that I have ever seen work. I was very lucky to have him as a daily mentor as a child in this aspect, and because of him I have over 20 years experience as a clinician only being 30 years old. I literally started working as a clinician at the age of 9.

7.) Reading any good books right now or studying something that would surprise the readers?

My recent development and study has come from the world of massage and international pain treatments. This method is a hybrid neuromuscular massage and movement patterning is called, NodroH Massage. This country is overwhelmingly obsessed with surgery and it is horrible, and leads to other injuries and other surgeries as the health community is not connected and only follows the money. You don’t have to look any further than the most recent health care bill, which I have read cover to cover. It is the worst piece of legislation I have seen in years other than No Child Left Behind and obviously the Patriot Act.

This country has a serious problem with treating symptoms and NOT problems and the Healthcare is leading the way.

To be honest I do not read too much, maybe 5,000 words a week, but that is a philosophical choice. I view myself as a Creator of info not a regurgitator. If you take in more info that you create your become a speaking piece for someone else’s opinions. We are leaders at Renegade, not followers. We set the standards; we do not try to meet standards of others.

8.) Any closing thoughts or words?

I appreciate the opportunity to share my experiences and processes with you and your followers. It is seldom that anyone comes across a dynamic program that demands excellence in a state of mediocrity. It is hard to find athletes dedicated to quality of life and education. The constant continuance of these focuses will keep this country afloat, but it will never be recognized. I recognize your great work Shawn and the work of all of our partners at Renegade.

I would personally like to thank Marc for taking the time to hook up the readers with some great knowledge and energy towards making people better everyday!
Thanks Marc!

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