This month STT interviews Billy Wunderlich. Coach Wunderlich is a Parisi Performance Coach and Personal trainer at LifeBridge Health and Fitness in Baltimore, MD. Billy was a mult- sport athlete through high school, and played Ice Hockey in college. He accepted an internship and look at what has done with his opportunity.
STT would like to thank Coach Wunderlich for taking the time to answer a few questions. Billy does a great job at LifeBridge and you can read below to see his passion for working with a broad demographic of clients and athletes. Check out the Q&A between STT and Coach Wunderlich below!
STT: Please provide your educational background including undergrad, graduate experience and certifications.
Coach Wunderlich: I graduated from Towson University in 2006 with a BS in Sports Management. I was a Multi sport athlete through high school, and played Ice Hockey for Towson. I am a NSCA CSCS as well as a Parisi Performance Coach.
STT: How did you become involved in the industry?
Coach Wunderlich: During my senior year of college, I took an internship at LifeBridge and since then have been learning and evolving my training philosophy ever since.
STT: What is your specialization? Feel free to expand upon your job responsibilities, interests or current project you are working on.
Coach Wunderlich: Tough question. My specialization is working with athletes as well as clients seeking rapid fat loss. My interest? Where do I start, I want to find a group of people who have the same level of fire and emotion for training that I do. When I find them, I would like to find a facility that can stand the heat, and attract people who want to share our passion and get stronger. I tip my hat to guys like DeFranco, Evan-esh, cosgrove, Tate and Rooney who have harbored that passion and built upon it. I’m just biding my time.
STT: What aspect of the field do you enjoy the most? Feel free to elaborate and provide multiple examples.
Coach Wunderlich: I enjoy educating people. When a client or athlete comes to me and asks a question, my job is to convey the information in such a way that it sticks. When the light bulb goes off right above their head and they get giddy like a schoolgirl, that’s what I love most about my job. Second to educating, is sharing my passion for fitness. I love unloading my passion on people and watching it inspire them to get in the best shape of their lives. I believe Tony Robbins said it best-“energy is created through movement, so GET MOVING!”
STT: If I’m doing both aerobic exercise and weight training, which one should be done first?
Coach Wunderlich: I get this question all the time from people looking to lose weight. In my opinion, a general rule of thumb, whether the goal is to burn fat or put on mass while getting lean the answer is the same- warm up, hit the weights, scrape your self off the floor, and then do the mindless cardio that you feel the need to do. The science is plain an simple, weight training is a picky animal, aerobic cardio is a scavenger. What I mean by that is, in order to give 100% to weight training and pack on the valuable lean muscle you need glucose, aerobic cardio will take anything left. With my clientele, I will not start the session unless they are properly warmed up. After that we hit some activation exercises depending on what’s on the menu. Once we get done what we need to, we hit a few rounds of a full body complex, weighted stair sprints or sprint hills. Any way you look at it, you need to smash your metabolism when your fresh, you can hit the elliptical in your sleep.
STT: What’s a good weight lifting routine for a beginner?
Coach Wunderlich: A good weightlifting program for a beginner consists of body weight training, period. In this industry I see way too much emphasis on the “flashy” stuff. I absolutely cringe when I see a middle school kid pick up a pair of 90lb dumbbells and go to bench them, only to have a 3 inch range of motion. When I work beginners, we work on a proper technique: push-up, pull-up, trunk stability, overhead squat with a PVC pipe, and a walking lunge. In addition to those I will work on different animal walks like a bear crawl, inchworm, crab walk, spidermans and more. I’ve had a group of professional soccer players cry after 8-10 mins of animals, which just illustrates that athletes and the general population alike are very weak when it comes to linking their chains up and utilizing their entire body.
STT: Does age make a difference in a weight training program?
Coach Wunderlich: Age makes a difference in designing a training program. However, training age takes precedence, and by training age I consider time spent with proper technique in practice. For example my oldest client sought me out being a 40 year old avid Colorado skier, 5’11 190 lbs who wrestled his way through high school and into college. His experience in lifting had been body part splits, leg press, bench press, curl, and so on. I thought he was in shape by the way he looked and from the conversations we’d had. Little did I know, 12 minutes into our first dynamic warm-up and he was turning 2 shades of green and heavy cold sweats. It just goes to show, that no matter how old or how long they have been training, what really counts is whether or not the work they were putting in was quality.
STT: If I’m trying to lose weight, should I hop on the treadmill for 60 mins, or is it better to raise the intensity and shorten the duration?
Coach Wunderlich: I think Mr. Poliquin said it best, ” we, as a species were designed to throw the rock, not chase the rabbit.” We were designed for 50 seconds or less of MAXIMUM effort. Why the general population continuously attempts to fight evolution and natures design is beyond me. I see people come in day after day and do their 3 hours of cardio and they look exactly the same as when I saw them for the first time two years ago! Like my prior rant, if your health allows, give yourself 30 mins tops, run sprints, hills, weighted steps, or the prowler as hard as your heart allows, scrape yourself off the floor, and get sum quality food, rinse, rest and repeat. Unless you are training for a long duration race, there should be no reason to perform endless cardio. People feel the need to get on the gerbil wheel, plug in, watch their garbage reality TV, and hit Starbucks after for the coffee and crawler combo because they “deserve it.” Something that gets me heated is when people tell me they don’t have enough time to do this or that. The idea I try to convey, is time efficiency, and I see something wrong with doing something in 120 mins, which could take no more than 20 mins if done correctly.
STT: Has strength training changed? How is it evolving?
Coach Wunderlich: I do not think strength training has changed. I think evolution has occurred and will continue to take place. This industry has coaches like Poliquin, Thibaudeau and Waterbury pushing the envelope every day on the science and protocols of strength training. Some methods seem against the grain and outlandish at best, yet the old adage still stands, any program will work, but it wont work forever. I think certain areas of science involved in strength training have evolved to a greater extent than others, such as the understanding of nutrient timing and the importance of pre-workout nutrition. One thing that I enjoy about the evolution of strength training is that many different ideologies are joining arms these days. By that I mean, a decade or so ago, power lifters and bodybuilders kept to their own. These days you see hybrid creations who look like Schwarzenegger, run like Johnson, and can pull like Bolton, its nothing less than amazing, and it all comes from having an open mind to any style of training and a training intensity worth beholding.
STT: What do you think about pre- and post- workout nutrition?
Coach Wunderlich: Absolutely crucial. Ask any of my clients what the first thing from my mouth when i see them, “what did you eat today?” The myriad of questions should be more like: how were the feedings yesterday, did you sleep at least 7-8 hours last night, what did you eat for breakfast, how was work/school today. I try to ask these same questions before every session so that I reinforce the importance of nutrition, sleep and stress management. Not only do I inquire about pre/post- workout nutrition, I also try to educate my clientele on what the proper choices of fuel. The funny part about being a strength coach is when you get to know an client, you know before they do if they are getting sick, you know if they went out the night before or if they missed a meal. In my experience people do not realize on a grand scale how important nutrition is. It isn’t until they’ve cleaned up their diet for a month or so, after that period of time, they will know as soon as they hit a bad cheat meal. When you eat clean, and nutrition is on point, when you fuel the body with garbage, its like a bad hangover, or as I like to illustrate: you wouldn’t fill a Formula-1 car up with crude oil and expect it to run the same would you? Another part of nutrition I think is one of the most underrated and underutilized protocols is peri-workout nutrition, or the nutrients we take in during our workout, but we’ll save that novel for another day.
STT: What is the best form of cardiovascular exercise if someone is trying to get the most “bang for my buck”?
Coach Wunderlich: The best form of cardio in my opinion is (sand)dune sprints or pushing the prowler. Once again, I prefer time efficiency, and the only thing that long distance cardio gets me boredom and beat up joints. If cardio is what you are looking for, then you need to stoke the anaerobic fire, because one when you perform short, high intensity intervals you train both anaerobic and aerobic capacities, while low intensity cardio only trains the aerobic. I think one of the most overlooked forms of cardio is swimming, I cannot express how therapeutic it is for the body with low resistance and NO impact, perfect for nagging joints namely shoulders.
STT: Does an aerobic workout cause an individuals’s resting metabolic rate to stay elevated for a long time after a workout (the so-called “after burn” effect)?
Coach Wunderlich: The answer to that question all depends on what is meant by long. Long lasting, not in my opinion. If you want to stoke the metabolism and have it burn hotter and longer throughout the day, then you need to hit maximum intensity. Science shows that short bouts of high intensity cause greater, and longer lasting effects on the metabolism post-exercise.
STT: What is functional strength training and are there any issues you see in how the general public functionally strength trains?
Coach Wunderlich: I think the fitness industry went way overboard on the functional training hype. There is nothing functional about standing on one leg, curling a dumbbell while pressing another. This is the garbage that I’m confronted with day after day, and when I inquire on purpose, I receive an attitude with the answer of “it’s functional.” Tell me the last time you saw someone performing that maneuver in their normal everyday tasks. The definition of functional strength training is performing exercises that strengthen motor patterns used in everyday tasks. Deadlifts are performed daily when something is lifted from the floor, squatting is performed every time you get up from a chair, and yes the bicep curl IS functional, think about every time a small child is lifted into the arms of a parent or guardian. On a side note about functional training, I believe the explosion of kettlebell training was another blow to the fitness industry. For example, true story, as i was walking through my fitness center, I was stopped by a young man showing his girlfriend his new kettlebell tricks. “Am I doing this right?” he asked. I kindly questioned, “what exactly are you trying to accomplish?” The best way I can illustrate what he was doing was a bent over, single arm rear delt kettlebell swing. Pointing to his rear delt area cruising his pointer finger in the general area saying “I’m trying to work the back of my shoulder(5-7 second pause), right?” The point I am trying to make, is the majority of the general population has no idea of what they are doing, but more important, WHY they are doing it. Don’t get me wrong, kettlebells have their place in my programs, however you wont catch me prescribing it just to keep a client thinking he’s doing something “new.”
STT: How much emphasis do you place on analyzing athletes’ weaknesses?
Coach Wunderlich: In my opinion, analyzing the issues in an athletes structure, is as if not more important that a general physicians referral. I’ll sum it up in three words, functional movement screening. Here at our facility we use Gray Cook’s FMS system with each and every athlete we see. If you know what to look for in the hips, ankles and shoulders through movement, you don’t necessarily need to put an athlete through an entire movement screening in order to asses their weaknesses, you can do it as you watch them perform lightweight and body exercises. I cannot express the importance of being aware of an athlete’s physical issues, if they aren’t addressed properly, the athlete is bound for a hospital bed or a series of visits to the physical therapist. In my experience, we have an abundance of programs in the industry which do not take the time to assess weaknesses, and essentially put the athletes through a meat grinder.
Keep in touch with STT for an interview with Adam Feit the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Eastern Michigan University. Coach Feit is also the head of the YSCCa. 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!