Building High-Performance Muscle™

The Misunderstood Strength Coach
An Interview with Mike Boyle


The strength and conditioning field is like no other. Coaches have bitter enemies and die-hard devotees — and sometimes a person will qualify as both depending on the day of the week. There are insane egos and there are humble, incredibly bright coaches who go unnoticed. Finally, there are a lot of coaches who people really don't get.

On one hand, you have genuinely bad strength and conditioning professionals who couldn't coach their way out of a wet paper bag. On the other hand, you have extremely knowledgeable coaches who people really don't seem to understand — either because they don't try to understand them or because they're working off of false pretenses. Mike Boyle tends to fall into the latter category. In fact, he might be the world's most misunderstood strength coach.

Until last year, I really didn't "get" Mike Boyle either. However, I've had the chance to meet up with him twice recently, and we've exchanged a few dozen emails about training methodologies. We still don't agree on everything, but I can definitely say this is one smart, experienced coach who has a lot to offer the world of performance enhancement.

You don't have to like him or take everything he says to heart, but you're missing out if you're not at least listening with an open mind. So, without further ado, Mike Boyle.

T-Nation: Let's get right to the good stuff. You and I have joked about how you're the most misunderstood coach in the world of strength and conditioning today. You've spoken all over the place, have some pretty impressive credentials to your name, and have probably worked with more professional athletes than any strength coach in history. With all that in mind, why the heck don't many people "get" you?

Mike Boyle:

T-Nation: I think the problem is the concept of functional training has been so bastardized in today's media that nobody really knows what it is anymore. It started out in rehabilitation, as therapists sought to utilize the exercises that best simulated their patients' daily activities to progress back to "normalcy." Now, thousands of fitness professionals (a term I use loosely) have come to the conclusion that functional training needs to be multi-planar and, for the most part, performed on unstable surfaces.

You shouldn't throw people into the fire with frontal and transverse plane-specific exercises until they've mastered the sagittal plane (an imaginary line which divides the body into left and right halves). While the unstable surface stuff has its place, it's being grossly overused. So, how do we fix the problem? Where do we draw the line?

T-Nation: Good points. Why else are people so anxious to throw you under the bus?

MB:

T-Nation: I can't help but laugh when you vaguely mention the athletes you've worked with. I know all too well that you could've been blowing sunshine up your own butt for the past twenty years.

T-Nation: The T-Nation audience is full of aspiring performance enhancement coaches. I'm sure they'd be interested to hear any advice you have on making it in the biz. Whatcha' got?

MB:

T-Nation: I hear you. It's only June and I've already spent over $5,000 this year — and I still have student loans. You really have to see the forest through the trees and prioritize what's really important.

MB:

T-Nation: Okay, good stuff. Now, we all make mistakes, it's just that we don't all learn from them. I think it's safe to say that you're a guy who never makes the same mistake twice. What were some of the mistakes you made along the way to strength and conditioning notoriety, and how did they impact where you are today?

MB:

T-Nation: Okay, here's a chance to wow our readers. Randomly throw some idea out that will really make T-Nation readers say, "Oh, crap, that really makes sense! Why didn't I think of that?"

MB:

T-Nation: Awesome points, especially the last one. Okay, let's look to the future. Where do you see the industry going in the decades to come, and how would Mike Boyle like to be remembered down the road?

MB:

T-Nation: Great stuff as always, Mike. Thanks for taking the time to throw some wisdom and personal experience our way! Where can readers find out more about you?


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