Sharing My Experience at the 1st Annual TPEA Conference 2013

Last weekend I attended the first ever conference done by The Performance Education Association at the Sheraton airport hotel in Cleveland.  It was a two day event including speakers from all over the nation, national vendors, and some local vendors as well.  On Friday (Jan 25th) I was at the conference from about 1-9 pm, and on Saturday (Jan 26th) I was there from 8 am to 6 pm.  I can confidently say that I enjoyed every minute of the experience and got to hear some phenomenal presentations.

Here is a summary of the speakers at the conference and some information about what they presented.

Michael Torres was the first presentation I saw, and you can see his background information here:

Michael’s talk was titled “Regressions the New Progessions” where he primarily spoke about the importance of regressing in certain movements in order to actually progress.  In other words, sometimes it is necessary to take a step back and look for the underlying issue of an improper movement pattern.  By working backwards and fixing a small detail that may affect the bigger picture, you can then progress faster because you have learned to move more efficiently.  He also stressed knowing the difference between mobilizing and increasing mobility.  Mobilizing refers to making yourself mobile or capable of movement before a training session.  Increasing mobility means to raise your ability to move freely and easily.  The difference is subtle, but they are very different concepts.

I was also introduced to a new product call Redcord, which you can check out here:

There are a ton of cool little exercises you can do with this thing to help strengthen and stabilize small areas of the body that are commonly prone to injury or tightness.


The next presentation I went to was called “Warrior Cardio – Secrets of Metabolic Training” by Martin Rooney.  You can visit the Training for Warriors website here:

TFW also has a YouTube channel that frequently posts new challenges for anyone to try.  It’s some really good stuff!

Martin Rooney is one of the most motivational people I’ve witnessed as a speaker.  He is truly passionate about what he does and always displays a high energy positive attitude.

Martin spoke about the true key to cardio and metabolic conditioning, which is to create a disturbance.  The three real purposes of this type of training are to lose body fat, increase muscle mass, and improve cardiac capacity.  He encourage us to have a “training compass” available at all times, which I though was a cool way of thinking about it.  Your compass simply determines the direction you take with your training.  You must have a direction and you must be consistent.

Here are the seven rules to TFW (Training For Warriors) fitness:

  1. Don’t do something for nothing
  2. Don’t sacrifice technique for intensity
  3. Don’t confuse fatigue and soreness for productivity
  4. Choose appropriate exercises in which clients can be proficient and apply the right dosage
  5. Provide ample recovery in and out of the session
  6. Monitor something and at least follow a progression of some kind
  7. Just because you’ve put a lot of exercises in a circuit doesn’t mean it’s okay to use horrible form

These are great tips that I think we can all learn from, even if we’ve heard them before!

Moving on, the next presentation I’d like to summarize was called “Training, Coaching, and What’s Working at Michigan State” by Tim Wakeham, who is the S&C coach at MSU.  This is Tim’s bio:

One quote I enjoyed from Tim was “what gets measured gets done.”  I think it’s just about impossible to argue with that statement.  Measuring is essential to making optimal progress in your level of fitness.  Whether you’re a high-level athlete or just training to stay lean for the summer, measuring what you accomplish in the gym gives you baseline data to work off of so you actually know if you are making improvements!

One method Tim uses with his athletes to help manage fatigue are 80% days and 50% days.  It’s pretty self-explanatory.  On 80% days you use approximately 20% less load on specific movements to really focus on perfect form and to reinforce proper movement patterns.  50% days are used every fourth week on the “big money lifts,” such as the squat, deadlift, upper body pressing, etc.  This allows athletes to improve their Rate of Force Development (RFD), which is nothing more than the measure at which force is development.  Training specifically to increase your RFD with help you become more explosive and powerful.

“Metabolic and Interval Training” by Paul Robbins was the next presentation I attended.  You can see a short bio on Paul here:

Paul is an expert on the subject of metabolic conditioning.  He shared some great advice on the topic of cardio related fitness.  First, he talked about focusing on watts and power with your training rather than basing everything off of heart rate, which is the most common way people track progress.  Heart rate is a great guide, but by no means does it give you enough information to develop training progressions.  Instead, movement is more significant than heart rate because it doesn’t really matter how high your heart rate is getting during a workout.  What’s really important is how much movement you achieved during the workout because movement directly correlates to workload.

Paul broke down metabolic training into many details but the simplest advice that I found could apply to the largest majority of people was the method of using low, medium, and high intensity days with cardio.  A good sample week would be to have your highest intensity day on Monday to start the week, followed by a low intensity day on Wednesday (for recovery purposes), and ending with a medium intensity day on Friday to both maintain conditioning AND prepare your body for the next high intensity session.  This regimen is easy to follow, safe, effective, and applicable to a variety of fitness levels.

Paul also answered the question of why so many people we commonly see in the gym are “stuck in a rut” with their metabolic training.  They come in, get on the same machine, apply the same resistance, and do it for the same amount of time.  Most of the time they are stuck at a medium intensity, but it’s also very easy to work at a high intensity for too long and end up burning out.  So why does this happen?  Well, since these people never increase the intensity of their sessions, they never overload.  Without overload, progress isn’t made.  Well then why don’t they overload?  Because they never recover enough to reach that point!  It’s a very easy system to understand, it’s just about applying certain intensities at the right time in order to optimize your cardiovascular fitness.

I’d like to talk about the presentation I saw by Robb Rogers called “Patterns & Progressions – Essential Tools for Program Success.”  Visit his website here:

I found one of Robb’s quotes to stand out more than the rest, which was “the more things you can control in a workout, the more can better the athlete.”  This can be applied to EVERYBODY.  Take it beyond controlling the reps, sets, and type of resistance.  Be as detail-oriented as you can, because some of the smallest details can make the biggest difference.  Challenge yourself from different angles and in different planes of motion.  Be creative with the equipment you have available to you, even if it’s nothing more than an olympic barbell and a few plates.

The last speaker I’d like to talk about is Nick Winkleman.  His presentation was titled “The Science of Coaching – Applying Theory in Practice.”  Here is a short bio on Nick:

I thought Nick was an outstanding speaker.  Here are some of the tips I gained from him:

  • You can remember 7 +/- 2 things at one time.  (For most average people)
  • The Fitts and Posner 3-Stage Model is a great way to outline coaching.  At the cognitive stage, you are simply trying to create context in an athlete.  In the associative stage, the athlete gains enough information to self-correct errors.  And in the autonomous stage, the athlete is able to operate in an environment without guidance or supervision.
  • Context is how you move or feel within the conditions of a given environment.
  • If something is stealing your attention, acute performance always suffers.
  • Flooding the brain with irrelevant details causes it to see relevant things in a less positive manner.
  • Analogies and metaphors maximize visual cortex activity, which is why they prove to be so effective.
  • External cues (“drive your heels through the floor”) are superior to internal cues, which are cues dealing with anatomy (“squeeze your glutes at the top”).
  • Internal cues require excess attention; simply more things to think about when learning an exercise.

The reason this was my favorite presentation from the whole conference is because I think these tips can be applied to any type of coaching, not just exercise training.  

Here is a list of the rest of the speakers at the conference and a link that might be helpful in learning a little bit about them.  These are some very smart people with years of experience, so I think they can all be valuable resources for information.

Doug Lentz –

Shawn Myszka –

Andre Agate –

Jason McPherson –

Patrick McHenry –

Duane Carlisle –

John Hofman –

Tyler Christiansen –

Dennis Keiser –

Loren Landow –

Diane Vives –

John Dettman –

Scott Moody –

Tristan Tillette –

Kent Johnston –


Overall, the co-founders Mark Roozen and Joel Raether did an outstanding job with this event.  Everything was well organized and each presenter offered something unique and valuable.  The Performance Enhancement Association is definitely heading in the right direction.  Visit them at  The one thing I can truly say about this conference was that everyone I talked to or saw at the presentations was completely engaged and interested in what was going on, and I think that speaks volumes.

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