This month STT interviews Adam Feit. Coach Feit is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, MI. Adam was at the University of Louisville before accepting the position at EMU. Coach Feit also heads the Young Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (YSCCa).

STT would like to thank Coach Feit for taking the time to answer a few questions. Adam has done a great job promoting and reaching out to the profession through the YSCCa. I’m sure you will be able to see what sets Coach Feit apart by reading the Q&A between STT and Coach Feit below!

STT: Please provide your educational background including undergrad, graduate experience and certifications.

Coach Feit: I graduated from Springfield College (MA) in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science – Applied Exercise Science. From there I pursued my Master of Science- Exercise Science and Health Promotion from California University (PA) graduating in 2009.  Currently, I hold the following certifications: NSCA-CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist), ISSA-SPN (Specialist in Performance Nutrition), NASM-PES (Performance Enhancement Specialist), CSCCa-SCCC  (Strength and Conditioning Coach certified), NASE (Specialist in Speed and Explosion for Sports Competition), Power Pilates Mat Training-I (Pilates Mat Routine certified), USAW-Level I (Weightlifting Coach certified), as well as being CPR/AED/1st aid certified.

STT: How did you become involved in the industry?

Coach Feit: I became heavily involved during my undergraduate years at Springfield College (MA). In order to receive a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, we had to complete a variety of practicums to get quality experience in the field. I was fortunate to be around great GA coaches at Springfield who put up with my questions and complaints while I was learning in the field. If it wasn’t for the program at Springfield, I think I would be where a lot of aspiring strength and conditioning coaches would be; without a job because they didn’t get enough “experience” and meet the right people.

STT: What is your specialization? Feel free to expand upon your job responsibilities, interests or current project you are working on.

Coach Feit: I wouldn’t say I have any specializations, but I thoroughly enjoy the nutrition aspects of sports performance. After holding weight to play offensive line at Springfield, I made it a personal mission to get healthy quick and “look the part” before I ventured into the field. Ever since then, I’ve studied, researched and applied techniques to keep my performance at the top level. Again. I’ve been fortunate to be around great coaches who have given me free-reign to develop nutritional programs for our athletes and speak on the national level on nutritional strategies for college athletes.

Besides getting settled into my first head coaching position and learning to manage my own staff and 21 Division 1 sports, I am  involved in raising the bar of an online network of young strength and conditioning coaches called the YSCCa. The YSCCa exists to serve all coaches so that we can all learn from one another through various discussions, e-mails and newsletters all year long, not just at national conferences.

STT: What aspect of the field do you enjoy the most? Feel free to elaborate and provide multiple examples.

Coach Feit: I love how we have to continue to stay on our “A” game and make ourselves better. There is always a constant push in the back telling us we have to continue to learn and develop. Most people go to a 9-5 job, sit in a cubicle and leave without adding any value to a person’s life. The field of sports performance requires that we absorb, modify and apply from clinics, coaches and educational materials so we can continue to provide the best strategies of performance enhancement.

Now don’t get me wrong. Getting up at 4:30am everyday grinds on you after a full winter and summer training season. But when your athletes bring everything together at that one precise moment during competition, that’s something you never forget. Taking athletes for what they are now and helping them develop over the course of your program is something truly special. When they finally “connect the dots” between strength and conditioning and athletic performance,  we have done our jobs as mentors and coaches.

STT: What things should I know before starting a training program?

Coach Feit: Know where you want to go and what you want to accomplish. Too many coaches and athletes want to train just to fill time and put in sweat equity. It takes more than squatting and sweating to build a better athlete. Have a goal, write it down,  and apply everything you can (within scientific and practical reasoning) to help you get there.

STT: Should I train a muscle if it’s sore?

Coach Feit: Absolutely. Soreness means the fight for balance has been disrupted and stress has been applied to the body. Many techniques have been proven to reduce the severity of soreness and assist with recovery (dynamic flexibility, stretching, soft tissue work, general cardiovascular training and even lifting itself). We cannot neglect the areas of our body because we are sore. Failure to remove waste products, re-establish range of motion and movement patterns will only leave us more sore, longer.

STT: What is the best meal after weight lifting training?

Coach Feit: That is completely dependent on what your goal is. Body composition plays a huge role in managing post-workout meal planning. Whether you are trying to gain weight or lose weight, there should be some source of fast digesting protein and carbohydrate right after training. Fat should be limited as this delays the emptying of the nutrients from the stomach into the muscles for recovery. Athletes looking to gain lean muscle should obviously focus on nutrient and calorically dense foods to maintain a positive caloric surplus for growth. Athletes looking to lose body fat should focus on smaller portions and utilize carbohydrate timing throughout the day to tap into fat reserves.

STT: What is the risk of injury when doing weight lifting?

Coach Feit: The risk of injury weight lifting is the same as any other activity in which we were not taught to perform correctly. Using a keyboard, walking across the street, taking the groceries out of our trunk…all carry the same risk. John Wooden refers to the laws of learning when teaching skills. We need EXPLANATION, DEMONSTRATION, IMITATION, CORRECTION, and IMITATION to be successful.

STT: How does strength training change with the level of athlete?

Coach Feit: Novices and beginners need more repetition to groove motor patterns and become familiar with exercise technique. Advanced athletes need less repetition and more change so they continue to make gains throughout their development. I highly recommend everyone read up on Joe Kenn’s block system and tier system training for his unique categories of athlete development. It’s safe to say that a 2 star recruit off MUST be on a different program than your 5th year All-American defensive tackle. Failure to do so shows lack of knowledge, care and pursuit to make your athletes the best they can possibly be.

STT: How many sets, reps and what intensity should I use for different goals such as strength, power, endurance and hypertrophy?

Coach Feit: Everybody is different on this topic. I personally use AS Prilepin recommendations and relative intensity categories for explosive strength development. Endurance and hypertrophy are products of repetitive efforts and changes in overall muscle tension. Charles Poliquin says it’s about the repetition. HIT coaches will tell you it’s the effort or intensity. There is no one way of developing a stronger, more powerful, in-shape, and bigger athlete. We must look to all strength disciplines for our answers and get creative with our programming.

STT: Why is an elevated heart rate alone not always a valid indicator of an effective aerobic-training stimulus?

Coach Feit: Changes in heart rate can occur through a wide variety of mechanisms. Getting up to speak in front of 100 people, preparing for a ME back squat or running 300 yard shuttles on a 60 second goal time will all elevate our heart rate. Sometimes an athlete can forget to regulate his/her breathing and then all of a sudden they’re still in the “anaerobic-training zone” doing aerobic work. I personally do not have any experience with heart rate training with teams. However, I have seen with my own training that just because I have an elevated heart rate does not mean I am working hard and vice versa.

STT: How do you define agility?

Coach Feit: In its most basic form, agility is the ability to change direction quickly, efficiently and under control. I classify agility in two categories; programmed and reactive. Programmed agility drills are drills where the athlete knows the sequence beforehand. Reactive agility is more appropriate for sports because it forces the athlete to react to a visual, auditory or combination of both commands during a agility drill, as they will have to respond to a change in movement from their opponent in sport.

STT: What do you see as the next big thing in strength training?

Coach Feit: From looking at the publications, I think we will see a lot more work with team heart rate training and vibration training. Both definitely have their perks for athlete development, but are also very expensive. As more practical research is performed outside the laboratory and in real weight rooms, we will definitely see more programs utilizing these methods.

STT: What are your viewpoints on optimizing recovery and regenerations?

Coach Feit: I believe the biggest factors affecting recovery and regeneration are sleep and nutrition. It doesn’t matter what advanced periodization scheme we are using or auto-regulation machine we hook our athletes up to, if they are not eating or sleeping, we will continue to have our results compromised. We have to remember that gains are not made in the 1-2 hours they spend with us training per day, but rather during the other 22-23 hours away from us.

Keep in touch with STT for an interview with Rick Court. Coach Court is the Director of Football Strength and Conditioning at the University of Toledo.  For more information about upcoming interviews, and to keep in touch with STT, join our mailing list and follow us on Facebook by searching SMARTER Team Training.

I hope all is well.  Have a great day!