Joining me on the show this week is the great and powerful Dr. Pat Davidson, the man who does it all; he’s an exercise physiologist, a strength and conditioning coach, an author, a consultant, and a traveling lecturer. Pat was also my very first guest on the podcast, so there’s definitely a lot for us to live up to on this episode. A large portion of our conversation centers around athletic development, high velocity activity and sprinting because that’s generally what people find themselves missing years after their “playing days end”.
If you were an athlete in high school, college or maybe even professionally, I guarantee sprinting played a major role in your everyday training. And, sadly, sprinting isn’t typically something easy to get back once you’ve lost it. Listen in to learn the importance of high velocity activities and how you can ramp up and build sprinting back into your training so you can become an athletic weapon
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- [02:45] Intro to Dr. Pat Davidson
- [08:54] Why you should be patient in the process of transitioning back into sprinting
- [21:00] The importance of sprint preparation
- [22:16] What a sprinting ramp up period actually looks like for Pat
- [24:53] A big factor to be considered when it comes to sprinting volume
- [27:49] The value of a rotational med ball throw for evaluation purposes
- [38:41] Understanding the appreciation for an athlete compared to a smaller athlete
- [41:29] Why athleticism at the highest levels almost always comes down to velocity
- [54:28] The importance of having numbers to chase
- [55:14] Why timing is so critical
- [01:03:52] Where to find Pat Davidson
James Cerbie: Alright, there we go. We are live with the great and powerful Dr. Pat Davidson, the man who kicked off the entire podcast. By the way, you are episode number one. And I don’t know episode number one now 100 something. So I’m pumped to have you back on the show, man.
Dr. Pat Davidson: Wow. I have to live up to myself. That’s tough.
James Cerbie: Yeah, that was a fun one. I was still in grad school at that time. Yeah, that was a very good conversation. I remember talking about the concept of phase change and I think that was something that you were super into at that time. But less of this, if somebody listening happens to have no idea who you are, which is probably pretty unlikely because I think we share a pretty big overlap of audience. But if someone listening has no idea who you are, can you give them just a quick elevator pitch and then we can just dump in and just talk training?
Intro to Dr. Pat Davidson
Dr. Pat Davidson: Yeah, it’s funny. Sometimes people ask me like, oh, so what do you do for a living? I’m like, I don’t really even know anymore. I sell fitness shit online, but I have a PhD in exercise physiology, Master’s degree in strength and conditioning. I’ve worked as a professor. I’ve worked and coached strength athletes. While I was at Springfield College. I was building a strength and conditioning program at Brooklyn College. When I was there, I ultimately kind of moved into the private sector in Manhattan personal training. I did that for seven years. During that time, I wrote three books, two of which are on Rebel performance, Mass and Mass two. The third one was The Coach’s Guide to Optimizing Movement, which was a three year project for me to write about. And it also overlaps with the Rethinking the Big Patterns Certification seminar series that I developed and started teaching this year in January, which is the overall training model that I utilize from a theoretical conceptual standpoint that builds a framework for understanding, trainable human movement, how to define it, organize it, and ultimately pull it apart from the perspective of specificity so that you can really begin to have a much better conceptual understanding of how to plug the right drills in for anyone that you’re working with from a needs analysis perspective.
So I’ve also just always tried to be a livid kind of a person. I’ve competed in sports as much as I can my whole life, baseball and football as a kid. After a short College baseball stint, I got into jiu jitsu and mixed martial arts. And eventually when I was a professor at Springfield College, I got into strongman and I competed with the guys and girls that I coached at Springfield College. And we have a pretty good track record of competitors that came out of that Springfield College team Iron Sports group, with the most prominent of which is Rob Kearney and the Hatch brothers are kind of right there as well with really like some elite international competitors in that sport. I would just say that I’m probably someone that is academic plus in the trenches and one of the early people in this probably newer, more evolved coach model where you kind of have a pretty good sense of all of the major training modalities that are classic in terms of typical weight room kinds of things, Olympic lifts, powerlifting kind of movements, bodybuilding stuff. But then also this biomechanics lens that probably got pulled more from the PRI world than any other certainly modified a great deal with guys like Hartman that I think just understands it better than anybody else and put a spin on it.
That’s different. But I would just say that there’s probably a camp of strength and conditioning coaches or trainers that I would say are the most well-rounded, in terms of being able to put it all together. And I would like to put myself in that short list of people that has a pretty damn good ability to say that I’m about as well rounded as anybody from the perspective of really getting it in terms of the holistic nature of the physics of biomechanics, the neurology of biomechanics superimposed, on top of very classical understanding of performance training.
James Cerbie: Yeah. I love that. That’s one of the things that we talk about a lot is and I think this is kind of what we find within our small circle or sphere of influence is you get people that actually understand the movement and the biomechanics and can blend and mesh that really nicely with the highest quality strength, conditioning and understanding of how to drive hypertrophy, and understanding of how to develop strength and understanding of how to develop power and understanding of how to develop endurance. And I think it’s very hard to find people that actually blend those things together well, right. I think you can go find someone who’s an expert at just powerlifting. They’re going to be very good at just getting you strong. You can find somebody who’s going to be an expert at getting you on stage and compete in bodybuilding. You can find someone that can help you run a marathon. It’s hard finding people that can pull the best from all these domains in the world and actually understand the science and the application. And I’ve lived it in the trenches. And that’s one of the things that I’ve always respected about you.
Why You Should be Patient in the Process of Transitioning Back into Sprinting
And then the team that we build a rebel is kind of just those are our qualifications and requirements. You’ve got to be able to do that because that’s what we want to deliver for our people. And I think that one place here I would love to start because I think this has been the biggest shift in your training since the last time we talked both in your training. And then I think in the coaching and the things that I’m seeing you doing heavily influenced by Derek Hans I’m imagining is this transition to way more the athletic weapon, sprint heavy, way more sprinting in your program. And I know we have a lot of people listening to myself in that bucket who played sports their entire life. There probably wasn’t a day that went by. I didn’t sprint until I was probably about, like 22 when I graduated College. I sprinted every day. You kind of had to for sport, right? And then your sports end, and it’s like, cool, I’m just going to lift now. And so you just start lifting and you’re in the weight room all the time. Then a couple of years go by, and then you realize, oh, shit, I can’t sprint anymore.
Like, I literally cannot sprint. If I were to go sprint right now, I would pull a hamstring, I’d blow out a quad. It would be something. I don’t have the ability to open up at that high velocity. I know we have a lot of people that find themselves there and want to work back to being able to actually open up and really sprint. So I would love to hear from you. What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned kind of in that journey, both as a coach and as an athlete yourself, getting back to the point now to being able to really sprint and let it eat, because I think that transition can be a hard one to get back into because people have to be really patient throughout the process.
Dr. Pat Davidson: I had a brief stint where I didn’t have sprinting in my training, and it was probably only during a few years where I was in New York City because there’s nowhere to really sprint. Like, where do you open up here? I didn’t know about the East River Park track for a while, but prior to that, in high school, I played sprint heavy sports with football, baseball, College. I played baseball in mixed martial arts. My coach had us out on the track in the morning. We did a lot of running. We did a good amount of endurance running in terms of, like, the most common run that we would do would be running 2 miles around the track. But it was interesting. Each lap was going up and down, every part of the bleachers that had the bolts in it, which is much more than 2 miles of activity. But we did run sprints. You know what I mean? Like, he had us run hundreds. And when I started in strength and conditioning, I was still very sprint heavy. I’m more thinking along the lines of when I didn’t sprint, I didn’t sprint too much. As a grad student at Springfield College, I was just getting huge.
Most of my workouts were five sets of three with hang snatch and then three sets of ten with back squat. That was my staple for a workout, and it worked really well. I bench pressed, and that was the workout that was my program: five sets of three of snatch, three sets of ten bench press, and three sets of ten back squats. And I got really strong and moved a ton of barbell weight, and I put on a lot of body mass. Then, going from Springfield, I ended up at Brooklyn College first. And as soon as I was able to train down there, it was very similar to a Boyle esque program. I put my own spin on it, but we had a terrible field in the back of that facility. Like the worst turf field that anyone has ever seen in the world. Okay.
James Cerbie: Like that old Philadelphia, you’re pretty much just running on pavement.
Dr. Pat Davidson: Yes, it was a little softer than something like that, but it was, like, peeling away. I remember it was so hot back there. This was a time where a lot of people were wearing the five room, five finger shoes, and you couldn’t wear those because it was so hot it would actually Cook through the bottom of them. There was one kid’s shoes that were melting on this turf, but we ran. Then when I got back to Springfield, I was doing a lot of running. I always made iron sports run. We did a ton of sprint work. I was like, boys, you’re not just lifters, you are athletes. You are athletes first, and you are strongman second. If you want this to be sustained and long lasting, we’re going to train like athletes, and then you’re going to specialize in events. So when I got down to New York, we had some cool treadmills at peak, so I was able to do some elements of that. So I feel like for me, for most of the time that I’ve been since, let me think, this goes back to being 19 years old in 1999 up until now.
So that’s what, almost 23 years now, 23 years. There’s been, I would say, for 90% of that time, some high velocity running mixed in. So it never really got away. And to me, that is a big key, because I’ll tell you my biggest limiter as an athlete. Like, I wanted to be a professional baseball player. I could throw really well. I could hit really well. I understood the game at a very high level. My fastest 40 time was a 49, and I was an outfielder. So I just wasn’t fast enough to progress through the levels. But I’m obsessive and I’ll do anything I have to try to move and level up. So I was reading anything I could get my hands on as a high school kid in the mid 90s, there wasn’t a lot of information, but I was trying to learn and develop anything I could on sprinting. It’s always been something that I’ve considered as probably the most important variable in terms of the separator of athletes. And I think I watched football as a child, you know what I mean? Like, when I was with my grandfather. I didn’t watch cartoons.
You know what I mean? He was born in 1914 and had to work the docks in South Boston as a kid. He didn’t get cartoons. He wasn’t going to let me watch cartoons. We watched old NFL highlight videos together. When I got home after school, I can remember watching, like, the Purple People leaders and Fran Tarkinson with the NFL voice.
James Cerbie: Those are back in the days when there were no rules on hands to the face. The D is just they literally just wrapped, like, two inches of tape around their fists. They just came off the line throwing haymakers. Those old videos are brutal.
Dr. Pat Davidson: Yeah, man. It’d be like the Minister of defense, Deacon Jones, just absolutely ringing people’s bells and clothes lining dudes on tackles. On Saturdays, I didn’t watch cartoons as a nine year old or eight year old or seven year old. I was watching, like, College football and all you’d ever like, it’s funny. They don’t talk as much numbers wise anymore as the analysis did back in the day, where they would always be, like, highlighting the guy’s 40 time vertical jump, like every receiver, every back, and they’re talking about their professional prospects. And it was just like, this guy, his 40 time is a four six. It’s probably not going to cut it. So it was like, as a kid, I’m like, what are all these numbers and times and this? But I always loved speed. The neighborhood I grew up in, we were always racing each other. There was always some contest of some kind. Racing was often a big one, so I never wasn’t interested in it. I’ve always tried to keep it in play. I think I’ve had a pretty good awareness of just, like, the real legitimacy and importance of it as it pertains to who’s probably going to play at higher levels of sports.
The Importance of Sprint Preparation
So it’s not like it’s anything new. And it’s funny. Like, that’s something I’ve kind of been reflecting on with my own self is I never abandoned the training components in my own life. I feel like sometimes people will learn some new stuff and they’ll be like, well, I shouldn’t lift because I better only breathe or something like that. And it’s like even at the peak of me going down things like the PRI Rabid hole, I was still competing and strongman. And it’s like, well, I’m not going to, like, hip lift my way towards finishing this deadlift medley at the National Championships. That’s not going to cut it. There’s specificity. So I have this long history of actually training, and then I think, a good enough academic background of being skeptical and having a level of scrutiny and understanding specificity and all of those things. But it was a nice kind of return to focus on running. A couple of years ago at the beginning of the Pandemic, when Derek came out with his virtual summer speed program I always say it wrong, but it was something where there was a good group of us going down to the track and it was vicious for me.
It was really vicious because it started off with five days a week of running. And at the time I was 220 pound and I really hadn’t done that kind of volume of running specific to the kinds of running that we were doing. First of all, I went into it injured. I had partially torn my left adductor running on the true form treadmill, probably maybe like six, eight weeks before starting this program. And as soon as I went outside and tried to run, it was like I probably re-injured it and it was a big problem. I tried to do things that were just vertical movement. So a lot of like A runs and B runs as opposed to focusing on running forward. But I didn’t want to change any of the volume for yardage that anyone else was running. So I tried to do the same number of runs for the same number of yards, but I would just run it. And that led to, like probably 100 times more foot contacts than anybody else was getting. And within like eight to ten weeks, I had bilateral stress fractures in both tibia and it eventually shut me down.
About ten weeks in, I kept running through the stress fractures, but it started to get to the point where I would do a run, my legs would puff up to being like an inch hanging over the sock line and I wouldn’t be able to support my body weight and I would just fall over. I was swallowing like 25 Advil a day just to try to push myself through these runs. But at one point I went to try to push off and start on a sprint and I couldn’t and I just fell on my face and I just realized I’m done. I literally can’t do this. And I took it personal and I really set myself on this trajectory of like, you know what, I’m going to go back to the drawing board, I’m going to lose weight, I’m going to take some time and let my tibia heal. But once I’m healed, I’m going to really begin prep work. So that next summer I’m going to handle the same program and I’m going to get through it. And that’s really what I did. And I developed more aerobic capacity. I lost weight, I did a lot of low amplitude plyometrics to be able to develop the local endurance at the tissues of the feet and the Achilles and the Shin and just everything.
And I built the volume up a little bit more progressively, rather than starting at five days a week, starting at two days a week. And so it was a lot of lessons to learn and I think it really paid off. By this past fall of finishing up a 20 week running focus block. Derek came to the city, worked with a group of us for a day, and taught a seminar in Manhattan. And I remember I felt really good because he gave me the compliment of like, wow, you really know what you’re doing. He said, I would have no problem sending anyone to work with you and have you coached them on running? And I was like, this guy doesn’t blow smoke up anybody’s ass. And I think that it feels like I really did put time into really learning this, both from a theoretical perspective of, like, reading all the Charlie Francis information, studying as much as I could on biomechanics of locomotion, and applying it to my own training. And if this guy is saying that that’s meaningful.
James Cerbie: Yeah, I think a couple of just big Nuggets there I want to highlight for people that I think came out towards the end, which is when you kind of went back to the drawing board to figure out, okay, how can I actually get myself in a position to be ready to handle this? Because that’s I think the biggest mistake people make is they just think about themselves being 16 again. And they’re like, well, I was 16. I never warmed up. I would just roll right out of the car and like, all right, here we go, full speed. And there were no issues. But then you kind of take that stuff out. You’re not seeing it as often, and then you kind of go right back to that world. You’re kind of asking for trouble. And so a couple of things that you mentioned in that ramp up period to prepare yourself to then be able to sprint, I think it was really important. It’s the development of some aerobic capacity, those lower intensity plyometric drills so we can get the tissues ready. Obviously, kind of like losing a little weight coming down. It’s just going to decrease the amount of essentially force we’re dealing with at ground, at impact.
And then I think that ramp up a volume over time. Right. And so I’m wondering if you have some examples. Actually, I don’t want to go there because that’s going to be boring, but I think those four are really big with regards to how we’re going to get somebody ready. And I think, what would you say, like four weeks, eight weeks, twelve weeks. What did that ramp up period look like for you from a timing standpoint?
What a Sprinting Ramp up Period Actually Looks like for Pat
Dr. Pat Davidson: Sure. Look, I would say the biggest piece of it, too, was losing weight. Okay. Like, I’m 56. If I’m 220, I cannot handle much running volume. Like, something’s going to break down. It’s probably going to be my feet, but it could be shins, it could be my knee. I’m also 42 years old, so it just presents itself more quickly. Like, whatever the problem is, I’m more sensitive to it. I’m more whatever. So it’s very apparent to me whereas by the end, even last summer, I started somewhere around 220. I finished a hypertrophy block around April, and I know last April I was 220. By October, I was 194 kwh. And that kind of 26 pound weight loss I was able to handle running five days a week in October and with a tremendous amount of volume. It is all the other pieces too, don’t get me wrong, it’s all of the volume progressively added and the tolerance to it following a plan. But I really would say that if I was to bet on what the most important variable was for me, it was the body weight. Even on track, there’s a classic like the fat don’t fly statement.
If you’re carrying around body fat, it’s just extra weight. But even if you’re just heavily muscled, you’re going to take up absolute beating. I know Hunter Triangles, who has been a huge inspiration to me on this. I remember when he just decided, look, man, I’m going to, like, drop powerlifting and I’m going to let Derek coach me and I’m going to become a competitive sprinter. Like, I’m going to live this dream. And I think it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen anybody do because it was like 280 or something like that powerlifting. And he was just like, I’m going full bore into this sprint life thing. And I know he was having terrible tissue problems at certain points, like Achilles feet, ankle. And I think that’s just what happens if you’re a big boy. I don’t care. Like, he wasn’t excessively fat, I mean, he was a monster. You’re going to have to be very careful about the volume. Whereas, like, the lighter people I was running with, even if they weren’t in great shape, they didn’t have any problems. People who run around 150 pounds to 160 pounds, they had literally no problems with the volume.
A Big Factor to be Considered When it Comes to Sprinting Volume
They were like, this really isn’t that bad. What’s your deal, man? I’m like, Well, I weigh 60 pounds more than you. I weigh 70 pounds more than you. Every time I hit the ground, that’s coming down on 1ft. So I would say, I really think that it will highlight your body composition. And if the healthier the body composition is for you. And I really do mean that from a health perspective, probably the more likely you are to be able to handle a pretty good amount of running volume. I think before we started recording, we’re talking about Aaron Davis using it as a kind of a screening tool of sorts. And I think that I appreciate that when I think of the greatest screening tool ever made, it’s probably the blood pressure cuff. That’s a really good screen. And I would bet you that your ability to handle running volume at pretty good intensities would probably correlate very nicely with a blood pressure cuff. You know, if you can follow a real track program, your health markers are probably in a really good place.
James Cerbie: Yes, I totally agree. It’s interesting because sprinting obviously has a large performance component to it. But I think as an assessment or a screen or as a diagnostic, I think it’s becoming a more and more interesting tool for me when I look at people, because it’s like, if I have someone who can come on board that can open up and flat out sprint and can do a sprint workout, can manage not even crazy volumes, but decent volumes. That tells me a lot about your resilience and the biomechanics and the anatomy and the physiology of that organism. They just tend to be in a much better place from a longevity standpoint Than people that cannot do those things. I’m not saying that you need to be able to go and run like a four or five or be a competitive sprinter. It’s really just can you actually open up and sprint? Okay, great. You can sprint in a straight line. What happens if I have you try to take a curve or do, like, a little bit of, like, a slalom run? I don’t know if there’s a better diagnostic assessment tool Than having people go through those and saying, okay, cool.
You handle these things pretty well. Like, sweet. Let’s just go have some fun. There’s not that much we really have to worry about here.
The Value of a Rotational Med Ball Throw for Evaluation Purposes
Dr. Pat Davidson: Cornering is a very interesting challenge. I would say, overall, there’s a couple of things that I feel like are very good snapshot representations of where someone is at. Overall, I think a rotational Med ball throw is one of the best tools you could ever use for evaluation purposes with, like, how coachable is this person? Like, what’s their ceiling? You know, if someone absolutely just gets into their hip and blasts a Med ball into a wall, I mean, that’s somebody that you’re like, OK, I can do something with this person. Most people don’t do that. It’s like, you get these funky kinds of, like, hips don’t move, like, weird top heavy kinds of two by four.
James Cerbie: This is like, I’m just watching a two by four, and it’s all trying to, like, rotate at the same time. There’s no separation.
Dr. Pat Davidson: It’s just like, I’m like, oh, God, what is this? You’ve never done anything athletic in your life, and it’s just something. Anyways, I do think that’s a great diagnostic. Like, hey, just hammer the ball into the wall for five reps. Let me see what you got. And, yeah, if somebody is capable of getting up and running at a pretty good speed, you’re kind of like, okay, I see you. All right, we got something here. Whereas if they can’t do that, it’s like, what do we get now? I will say the best strength athlete I’ve ever coached was a terrible runner. I mean, just, like, abysmal where you’re like, oh, my God, what is this? Duck footed? Kind of, like, Waddle. And he’s special from a lifting standpoint, so I always do look at these things as like a couple of I can think of a few of them that have gone pretty far, and you watch them run and you’re like, oh, God, you’re the worst athlete I’ve ever seen in my entire life. What is this? But I think that when it comes to competitive lifting, there’s some other variables that come into play, mostly your mind and just your willingness day after day after day, just like punching your ticket and having an obsessive tendency towards like, I will move more weight no matter what.
I do think that. But if we’re not talking about just purely lifting at a high level competitively, it probably is a great indicator of someone’s overall presentation of how athletic they are or versatile they are or how many shoots can I send you down that you’re going to be pretty good at if we decide to specify your training in that direction?
James Cerbie: Yeah. In total agreement. I think that distinction is really important for people to understand. If your goal is to just go be one of the best powerlifters on the planet and you’re trying to just max out three lifts, then yeah. I don’t think a sprinting diagnostic tool probably makes the most sense for you because you’re going to have to create adaptations and changes that are probably inherently anti sprinting in order to get to the point to be able to match the type of ways that you want to match. Similar thing for bodybuilding. Right. Like, if you want to take bodybuilding seriously and step on a stage, sprinting is not a great diagnostic tool because again, the things that you’re going to have to do day in and day out and just kind of, as you mentioned, almost show up and just Slam your face against a brick wall repeatedly for a pretty long period of time and to just accept that suck, the changes you’re going to have to go through from a physiological standpoint aren’t going to really lend themselves to going out and sprinting. Right. But I think for people that want to be athletic and in my mind that’s like, you want to be strong, you want to be jacked, you want to be powerful, you want to be well conditioned, you want to move well, sprinting is a phenomenal tool just to kind of get a quick and easy gauge of like, where in the world are you at?
Right. And I think it’s kind of funny in this realm with sprinting because you mentioned this earlier, where I feel like the normal trajectory of things for people, especially athletes and baseball players, I’m going to call baseball players in specific because every baseball player I know deep, deep down is really just a massive meathead. And pretty much all of them go through this process of having to do athletic training things throughout high school, College or professionally. And then the minute they’re done playing baseball, they’re like, give me a high perturb program. I just want to get swollen. I just want to get so jacked that I can’t fit through doorways. And then they usually do that for like a little while and then they come back like, okay, so this is cool. But like, can you give me a little bit of that athletic stuff that I used to have because I feel like a massive refrigerator right now.
Dr. Pat Davidson: I get it. I’ve oscillated with that for 30 years and I’m still doing it right now. I’m in the whole week, 20 of a 22 week hypertrophy block, and I can’t wait to be done eating my face off. And just like, bro, I did 60 sets of legs yesterday. It took 3 hours and 40 minutes. 60 sets of legs. It’s crazy. I’m so glad I’m sitting down for this interview. I don’t want to get up. I’m in trouble when I have to get off this couch. So I’m really looking forward to not lifting and to get outside and to run. And like, I’m already excited about programming in these slalom runs that you were just talking about. I was like, oh, that sounds amazing. Like a nice little curvature track. Right now I’m running one day a week and it’s like just trying to maintain the quality while I focus on trying to build as much muscle mass as I can. And that to me is really critical. It hasn’t gone away and I ran outside all winter in New York City.
I missed one Monday because I sprint on Mondays and it was eight inches of snow on the ground that day. But other than that, one day I’ve been at the track every other Monday and whether it was 25 deg and it’s on the damn East River too. So it’s windy, so there’s been some shit days out there. But otherwise it’s been interesting because I’ve gained 22 pounds in 20 weeks and run once a week with basically a 1 pounds gain of weight per week. It’s a different feeling as I’ve been doing it was interesting. I had a weird weekend where I was stuck in airports and planes for 36 straight hours this past weekend, so I wasn’t able to eat the way I normally do. So I lost like two and a half pounds over the weekend. Even with eating like restaurant food and blah, blah, blah where most people would gain weight, I lost two and a half damn pounds. It felt so easy to run this on Monday. It was kind of like, Whoa. Before that. I would go out and do the runs and I would literally get the worst pump out of anything all week.
I would get this horrendous quad pump and glue pump that would go into my lower back and I’d just be like.
James Cerbie: Oh yeah, that post sprint. Waddle is so real, dude. I have vivid memories of that and it still creeps in from time to time.
Understanding the Appreciation for an Athlete Compared to a Smaller Athlete
Dr. Pat Davidson: I was bouncing off the pump a couple of these weeks and Tyler, who I go out and run with, is saying the same thing because he’s had a pretty good block for himself too. I think he’s gained like twelve or 15 pounds or something like that. And there was one day when we were both out there and it was like, do you feel like you’re hydroplaning off of your pump? And it was like, yeah, it’s the weirdest feeling in the world. I would say, like the body weight, it is just so incredible because it’s not like I’m doing enough training where my aerobic system is pretty good and if I ride a bike for tempos, it’s not a problem. Like my aerobics are good, but if I have to move my own damn body through space right now, it’s just like, oh shit, this is crazy. And I’ve continued with it. It’s not like I’ve just let it die. But trying to keep up with body composition changes, I really have a different appreciation of how impactful that is on run and track training. I would have to highlight that is probably the most important variable of what will cause different sorts of responses.
James Cerbie: I think the body weight thing is really interesting. It just makes it so impressive when you think about the size of some of the guys in the NFL and the velocities they move at. I don’t know if people actually have an appreciation for how absurd it is. When I take someone who is 250 pounds and runs a 45, you take like an athletic middle linebacker that’s walking around probably 245 to 50 who can go side by side and really sprint. It’s astounding like the force and just like the force capacity of these people and the power is mind blowing because they’re not track athletes. Right? Like you’re mentioning where you can afford to essentially get as lean or as low weight as you can so that you’re ready to fly. Guys in the NFL are in a contact sport or even like rugby is another good example. You’ve got to have that mask because you need the body armor, but then you watch them open up and it’s like, oh my God, you are so fast.
Dr. Pat Davidson: Incredible. I was watching Sports Center yesterday and they had all the pre draft coverage and they had Cam Jordan on their who’s a DN for the New Orleans Saints, and they were highlighting it because of the previous year’s combine. One of the guys that was a DN didn’t have his shoes, so Camp gave him his own sneakers that he was wearing and was doing the interview with no shoes on. So they’re kind of showing that. But they also showed a clip of him beating Tyreek Hill to the edge and making a shoestring tackle on them. So I mean, he’s a DN, he probably weighs 270 and his maneuverability was incredible. What do you think about Tyreek Hill? I mean, that’s just like such a different athletic specimen. But this dude covered solid 1520 yards, got to the edge, clipped his shoelace, and it was just like, oh my God, that is astounding because I think that there’s like an appreciation of when you get somebody that’s little like a tiny athlete, it’s different. Like when you have someone that large that’s moving themselves through space like that, that is professional athletics. You know what I mean?
When any sport seems to mature, that’s how, you know, it’s kind of matured. There’s one Jose Altuvee in Major League Baseball, and it’s funny when you see him standing on second base next to other guys and he looks like you’re a judge out there in second base. Yeah. Hey, buddy, did he take him out of his backpack and put them down? Is that his toy? What is going on here? But most of the major sports, hockey, baseball, football, obviously basketball are different verticals. But when you look at these athletes that are projecting things through space at high velocities and projecting themselves through space at high velocities, and ultimately the larger athletes are the ones that dominate in those things eventually, as the sport just reaches these peak levels of selection from enough of the population. So it does seem to be the difference maker when you really get down to it, like, are you a huge person that can handle projecting themselves through space at a high velocity or projecting another object through space at a high velocity? But the ability to handle the competition volume and the training volume is what it probably will come down to from an injury prevention standpoint.
And again, I think so many people over blow the biomechanics side of it. It’s a factor. Don’t get me wrong, you have to move good enough for your sport with which most athletes probably can do. But then it really will come down to training load and trying to progress athletes up to the point where they’re able to handle it. But again, it’s kind of like an appreciation for how large the athletes are, for the impact that comes from every foot contact. It’s just exponentially greater compared to a smaller athlete.
James Cerbie: Yeah, without question. I’ve said this multiple times on the podcast, and I think that we can pretty, I think simply sum up athleticism as your area under the force velocity curve. The athlete with the greatest area under the force velocity curve 99 times out of 100 will probably be the better athlete. Right? Like, if we wanted a very simple, just like, graphic illustration of that in our mind, I’m like the farther out we push that curve, the greater the area under that curve, the better the athlete is going to be. Because at the end of the day, athleticism at the highest levels almost always comes down to velocity. Velocity becomes the biggest differentiator at every single level as you move up. Right. You can look at it in terms of actual speed on the ground and baseball. We can look at velocity. We can look at bat speed. Velocity is like the differentiator between athletes. And one of the things that we want to do, one of the things that you’re doing with an athletic weapon. One of the things we’re trying to do, a rebel, is we want to help these people that have been athletes their entire life, not just totally let go of that.
Why Athleticism at the Highest Levels Almost Always Comes Down to Velocity
Keep training like an athlete. Keep making sure that you can bring velocity to the table, because that’s going to pay itself dividends long term. Hopefully at some point in time we can give these people an athletic outlet per se so that we can reward them for still being able to sprint and move fast, because normal day to day life doesn’t really give them that anymore. It’s like you can go power lift or body builder Olympic lift or CrossFit. And it’s like, well, you’re not really being rewarded for the time spent on the track or sprinting or doing those things. So hopefully we can bring something to the world that’s going to actually get people a competitive outlet in this realm so they can get back to enjoying it. Exactly. I’ve thought about that. I’ve thought about that. Just basically I’m going to say this now on the podcast and someone’s going to totally steal this idea and it’s going to infuriate me. But one of the things I really want to do is to create a sport that gives strength conditioning training, like good strength and conditioning. It’s pretty much like the sport of strength conditioning. Let’s give strength and conditioning a competitive outlet for people.
You can call it the combine, whatever you want. But yeah, we’re going to mash some weights. You’re going to need to be strong. You’re going to need to have hypertrophy. You’re going to need to be able to sprint and throw stuff. You’re going to need to have some endurance, like a true test of athleticism for people that want to continue to train like an athlete throughout life.
Dr. Pat Davidson: Yeah, I’ve had the same thought for a long time as well. Like all of the relevant tasks. So it’s not like CrossFit is too. It’s the same thing over and over again.
James Cerbie: It’s just the Olympic lifting, gymnastics, metabolic, right.
Dr. Pat Davidson: Yeah.
James Cerbie: You got to do really high rep Olympic lifts and you got to do really high rep gymnastics. It’s not to say it’s not impressive. Someone’s going to listen to this and be like, oh, you asshole. Don’t get me wrong. The people that compete across the Games are absolute savages. I just don’t have any interest in it.
Dr. Pat Davidson: Having no interests are like non desirable movements from the perspective of your orthopedic health. You know what I mean? If you really want surgery, by all means just go down that road. But it also isn’t the truest test of expression of your physiology. There’s too much of a skill component and anthropometry component. If you really want to be good at Olympic lifts, you kind of have, like, you have to have a certain anthropometry like everything does. I get it. You know what I mean? If you want to be good at rowing, you better be built like Kyle Dobs. I’m not going to ever compete with him on a rower. But if there’s enough of it I just think what is the purest expression of a type of fitness? Olympic lifts aren’t really the purest expression of any kind of fitness, necessarily. They’re a measure of how good you are at Olympic lifts, and you probably have to be pretty strong in order to do that with some snap and some power to you. But sprinting is a much better indicator regarding your overall levels of high rate of force development, elasticity. Okay. Stretch, shortening cycle activity, high velocity running would need to be in this thing, like jumping.
Jumping is probably a better indicator of whatever the fitness quality is than Olympic lifting because there’s less of a skill element to it and a technical technique and skill and all just raw performance.
James Cerbie: That’s really what I want to see. I want to see people that have to lift singles, triples, maybe five rep maxes. Hypertrophy gets a little bit trickier. It’s a harder one to test. But I think on the average, if we start putting people into higher rep ranges or give them time sets, I think that the person that has better hypertrophy, we take, like, a Ryan the cure, for example. On average, he’s going to win higher rep or time sets more often than not.
Dr. Pat Davidson: Right.
James Cerbie: I bet that you’re going to have a correlation there. Power. Keep it fucking simple. I want to see you sprint. I want to see you jump, and I want to see you throw stuff. Just pure output. And then, like, endurance, same thing. Let’s put you on a salt bike for ten minutes and see what you can crank out. The best that we’ve seen to date. Still on a ten minute Echo bike, all out is 5 miles and ten minutes, which was. Oh, it’s stupid. It’s bananas. If anybody wants to give it a go, go for it. But yeah, 5 miles is the best number I’ve had someone put down. And I’m just like you look at what he’s averaging. Is that averaging? It’s sickening.
Dr. Pat Davidson: It’s sickening because I did 4 miles on the assault bike in ten minutes, and it hit 4.0 as the timer went 959. Clicking. It was exactly. And it took me weeks to hit the 4 miles on that thing. Vinny got four. Four. I think Lacura was right in that same zone, but that’s just bringing back nightmares. As soon as I hit that 400, I never did it again.
James Cerbie: But there’s something grossly beautiful about that.
Dr. Pat Davidson: I had to hold it over 400 watts for the whole ten minutes. It’s crazy.
James Cerbie: And it’s on the Echo bike, which I personally think is harder than the older assault bike.
Dr. Pat Davidson: It spits a little bit higher wattage or it ticks over distance a little faster, which is weird with all those bikes. They’re all a little bit their own thing.
James Cerbie: They have their quirks.
Dr. Pat Davidson: Yeah.
The Importance of Having Numbers to Chase
James Cerbie: That’s one of the things that I want to see. I would love to see a competition where I don’t want to remove all skills because there’s always going to be a skill. There’s all the skill components to it. But I kind of just want to see the rawest expression of just strength and hypertrophy and power and endurance and be like, just show it to me. I’m not going to handcuff you with something super highly technical like an Olympic lift. I’m not going to have you swinging on pull up bars. Let’s just let it eat and see what we got. Because I think that it would be really impressive if you gave people that as a destination to train for.
Dr. Pat Davidson: That was one of the things I really wanted to do with the strength score stuff. I had the one competition, and it was cool, you know, like, it really just measured what is your actual work output, you know? And so I do think that having something in that vein is really important because I do think that when you look at the weight room oftentimes what you’ll see is that the people that are most dominant in the weight room probably will sit on the bench in your field sports. Because I think you and I, we just come from athletic backgrounds playing like actual sports, and you’re always trying to figure out in those instances, why is this person so dominant? You know what I mean? What is it that separates them? Is there this physical quality that is the great separator? And it’s hard to figure out sometimes. I can’t remember, like, a local kid from my area that was like the best soccer player kid just scored a million goals. But he didn’t do anything particularly well if you were to measure him. He wasn’t that fast, but he had some weird 6th sense of weird to be and how to just put the ball in the net.
And it was like, I don’t get it. This is a guy like this dude. And then you watch him play and he scores three goals and you’re like, how the hell did he do it again? He just always does it. So there’s some things where you’re like, It doesn’t make any sense. And then other times we see Calvin Johnson out there and that’s the stuff where you’re like, now that’s an athlete.
James Cerbie: He out jumped the vertigo on his pro day at Georgia Tech. They maxed it out. His first jump, he hit everything, and they were just like, I think it was like 40 and they put a plus for his vertical because we don’t know what it goes to. So just a little plus on the end.
Dr. Pat Davidson: I heard all the crazy legendary stuff about him. His 300 yard shuttles were just like the most absurd thing he just did like 50 and 50 with a two minute rest in between them.
James Cerbie: Could you imagine if he ever had a good quarterback and he didn’t have to waste his career? Detroit, I was like, can I just give him one year for the love of God, just put him in New England for one year with Tom Brady and we’ll break every single record in the books.
Dr. Pat Davidson: Yes, Prime Megatron in that because it wasn’t Prime Randy Moss, which is crazy. Yes. We don’t really know how good Megatron would have been because you’re literally putting him on the worst franchise in North American sports history.
James Cerbie: Oh my God, that’s so true.
Dr. Pat Davidson: It’s a franchise in the history of North American sports. In the Detroit Lions.
James Cerbie: That’d be a tough one.
Dr. Pat Davidson: The Jaguars haven’t been around long enough to take that round. They’re on a good trajectory.
James Cerbie: But yeah, I mean the Cubs have redeemed themselves over the last decade. Maybe if you go back to the early 2000s when the Cubs had gone so long without ever actually winning anything, it’s like you had people that were born a Cubs fan and died a Cubs fan and never saw them win. Yeah, maybe the Cubs at some point in time. Maybe the Browns can make a run for that at some point. But they’re competitive again now.
Dr. Pat Davidson: They’re back and the Browns were good when I was a kid, man, I remember Elway playoff games against Cleveland like Bernie Kosar, like just a great head of hair.
James Cerbie: That’s a good point. I don’t know if I can ever think of a time in my life that I was like, the Detroit lines are a legitimate competitor.
Dr. Pat Davidson: No, they had the greatest running back in the history of the sport and they couldn’t get out of the first round of the playoffs. I mean they just stink. I can remember my grandfather talking about the Lions when he was a kid and I think they were good for a minute, but they haven’t been good since like the 1910s or something like that.
James Cerbie: Yeah.
Dr. Pat Davidson: When there are five teams in the NFL and I still don’t think they won any Championships cause they probably still would have lost to like the Giants or somebody like that. They’re the worst.
James Cerbie: This is one of the things that drives me insane. They do this every year in College football and it blows my mind. They always put like the ten greatest College football teams of all time and then the top five without fail. They always have a couple of teams from Notre Dame or some school like that from the 1920s or the 1930s. I’m like that. Team would not win a game today. Like, it would be laughable. Every team Alabama put on the field for the past decade is orders of magnitude better than that team. Like, they had no assets.
Dr. Pat Davidson: Van Brockland is going to get his job broken. In the first play of the game.
James Cerbie: The average weight of the line was probably like 225 pounds. They probably ran five, two s. Yeah.
Dr. Pat Davidson: This wing T is going to just absolutely get teed up.
James Cerbie: I love it. But on the athlete front because we’re at like 53 minutes here. So we’ll wrap this up. One thing that we’re working on and I may send this your way for a little bit of feedback. We’re trying in high school or in College weight rooms, a lot of times you’ll see you have this like, level game for people. Like, we are the Chargers in high school. And so in our weight room we had a charger, iron, charger, supercharger. And I was like, yeah, they’ll be able to squat this bench, this, power clean, this, 40, this shuttle, this. And if you did those metrics and you were basically like a crowned charger, iron, charger or supercharger, and it kind of leveled your way up as you went. One of the things we’re working on right now is trying to create a similar classification system for our people and basically have humans. These are the bare necessities of what we think a human needs to be able to do across strength, hypertrophy, power, endurance, human plus life proof, total package, and then just apex just to give people some numbers and things to actually shoot for.
James Cerbie: Because I think that’s one of the hardest parts of people that want to keep training, to be an athlete that wants more of a strength conditioning feel is what are they doing it for? Like, they don’t have objective numbers. Like you would be competing for power lifting. So I think it’s one of the things I really want to try to bring to people.
Dr. Pat Davidson: I love that. Yeah, that sounds great. I’m all charged up now. No pun intended. Yeah. I mean, I like to throw down some numbers, I want to smash them, give me something to chase here. Because, I mean, it’s funny. Like even with the hypertrophy training, I set a goal for myself. It was like 22 pounds in 22 weeks. Okay. And it’s like I did that and it’s like, all right, cool, whatever. But anything that I can make objective and chase, I love that. If you can give me a number and I can try to strategize a game plan and go get that number, I’m going to love that. And I’m thinking to myself, while you’re telling the story, I’m like, man, I wish they had stuff like that when I was in high school. That would have been amazing. We didn’t even have a weight room in my high school. A lot of things are timing in life, timing is so critical for me at the time that I came up, there was nothing like I mean, all the coaches I had in high school were just like, do not lift. That’s how you make yourself muscle bound.
And if you’re muscle bound, you’d be a terrible athlete. Okay. Yeah, that was it. It was just this certainty of becoming muscle bound.
James Cerbie: Didn’t lift, never lifted a weight. I’ve heard that one thrown around before.
Dr. Pat Davidson: His back was a weight. The guy swung a 56 ounce bat.
James Cerbie: Yeah, that’s because that’s how I very clearly know that anybody in professional baseball at that time didn’t throw harder than 80 miles an hour because there’s no chance. I’m just like they’re essentially like they’re pitching like a high school, like a below average high school pitcher nowadays.
Dr. Pat Davidson: Now, that being said, have you seen the documentary Fastball?
James Cerbie: I have watched that. And that was fascinating. You have some outliers like that that were very impressive back in the day.
Dr. Pat Davidson: Yeah. Because they sort of like we’re saying that Walter Johnson, he was probably throwing at least in the upper 90s. He had some equivalent guys at that time, too, like a Saiyang and other people. And it’s a different ball. You know what I mean? They’re probably throwing a damn ball of yarn at you out there. It is interesting, though, because I do follow baseball accounts on social media. Those are some of my favorites because how much technology they use now and how different they coach compared to when I was a kid, like, I was in this era of like A to C through B was the only thing that they gave you from a coaching perspective on how to swing, there were no launch angles. It was down through the ball, creating backspin. Now that’s laughable. It’s kind of like, well, how much bad head can we keep in the zone for as long as possible to create a launch angle on the ball. And I know that the primary swings they use from a teaching perspective, Barry Bonds swing is like perfect. But the only other swing that looks like Barry Bonds swing in the history of the sport is Bay roof in terms of the way that those two athletes turned.
And so it is kind of like that’s it you got those two guys that swing the bat differently than everyone who has ever played the game. And you have Ted Williams and Ken Griffy. It seems to be all these lefties, for whatever reason, that have this very long time of bad head spent in the contact zone. But it’s something about the way that those athletes turned and sequenced their turn for being able to create that they try to teach now at a very high level. But the other thing is just that it doesn’t seem like this has been a lot on Velocity, which I really like, because again, I just feel like it’s underappreciated and fitness. And I’ve been in New York City and it’s not a sports performance place. New York City is not a sports performance. It just isn’t like you just have people training for aesthetics and you get clown stuff in New York City. But when you really get down to sports development, it’s velocity stuff. It really will always come back to that. But the velocity at which people can do things like baseball movements, hasn’t really changed that much over time.
At least that documentary really pointed it out to me. And I feel like that was something that I think probably new anyways. But Bob Feller throws harder than anyone playing current major League baseball. Nolan Ryan threw harder than anyone playing current major League baseball. Highly likely, Walter Johnson might have been throwing harder than anyone playing in current major League baseball. Based on the analysis of even radar gun information, Bob Feller had got to throw like two pitches with a radar gun and one of them beat a motorcycle and they clocked it 90ft away from his release point. And it was still going 91 miles an hour. And if they measured him at hand release, it would have been going at 107 miles an hour. They measured every current major League baseball pitcher at hand release. Nolan Ryan would have been hitting 108, 109 based on picking it up as it was crossing home plate with the radar guns in the 80s. And he was still pumping 98, 99. And if you watch his highlights, you literally see smoke coming out of that tree.
James Cerbie: It’s violent. It is violent.
Dr. Pat Davidson: It’s insane. And you look at the right fielders of the Seventies and the cannons from the outfield. It’s like, different. There’s like maybe Mike Trout throwing the way that those guys did, but it’s different, man. Like, the arms back then were incredible. Absolute cannons. You look at Andre Dawson from shortstop throwing absolute Scud missiles from deep in the hole across the diamond, popping the first baseman’s Mitt like you literally see like, dirt and the frigging, the net of the glove just almost busting out the back end. I mean, the Hawk had to have been throwing 100 miles an hour from shortstop the cannons across the history of the sport. Nobody’s throwing harder today, despite all the training and the technology and all that kind of stuff. So I’m fascinated by that kind of stuff. People will say that Jesse Owens was faster than anybody currently. It’s just that his surface was different and his shoes were different.
James Cerbie: Yes, it’s interesting because what it really feels like because we actually went up and watched the ball game at the University of Tennessee here a couple of weeks ago and they’re on fire right now, the number one College baseball team in the country. I think they actually just lost last night, which brings them to like 32. And two, it’s like the very top end capacity of what humans can do hasn’t really changed, it’s just the percentage of people that are now getting up into that threshold that’s changed. Like, here’s an example. We went to Washington, University of Tennessee. They’re a starter who is like an 18 year old kid sitting 97, the first kid they bring out of the bullpen 102.
Dr. Pat Davidson: Yeah.
James Cerbie: And it’s like that’s where you have to be now to be competitive at high level College baseball.
Dr. Pat Davidson: Right.
James Cerbie: I was playing D one ball ten years ago, and once a year, a couple of times a year, you’d come across like a horse that was 95 plus. Now you’re not competitive unless you got three weekend starters that are 95 plus, and you got guys coming out of the bullpen at 98 plus. It’s just like we’ve kind of cracked the code on how to generate this velocity. And it’s like the top end hasn’t changed much, but we have way more people now operating towards that top end.
Dr. Pat Davidson: That’s fascinating. I love what you just said there. That makes a ton of sense to me. And I think you see it if you look at the way that you have these private facilities that are training baseball athletes, they have all these tools that they use now. Have you seen that thing where the front foot on a pitcher, they have this thing, the slide, and they literally just have it slide down this little metal ramp, and it just puts you in exactly the right position at the end of that step to get into the caulking phase of throwing. It’s fascinating. But I feel like you’re right. It’s almost like we’ve decoded the positions and the mechanics that the highest end people ever used. And now we understand how to put other people into those places to give them the opportunity to really utilize the ability to hit those things. And then you measure immediate biofeedback. And like, I love the analysis that you just kind of rock my brain there. I appreciate that.
James Cerbie: Beautiful. Let’s end there. I’ll always want to end on a high note, so I’ll end on a rock and get the brain sensation. Patman, this has been fantastic. Always enjoy getting to catch up with you. I feel like we could just sit here and shoot the shit and just talk about sports and training, and we didn’t even talk about food or anything else this whole time. But thanks so much for coming on, man. Where can people go to find you to find out more about what you got going on?
Where to find Dr. Pat Davidson
Dr. Pat Davidson: I think everything’s on Instagram for the most part, for me, I don’t even operate my own Instagram anymore. I try to be totally hands off with that stuff. I think that there’s a website that’s pretty close to being built out. I don’t think that’s done yet. I just try to focus on the content and I try not to pay attention to anything that’s on social media or the internet or anything at this point. If I do it’s literally like baseball or golf coach sites and stuff like that, which I just like. I like learning from skill coaches. I think skill coaches are better to learn from than fitness coaches most of the time. If you’re already a pretty good fitness coach, watch skill coaches for sports. They’re great coaches and it’ll pull you enough outside of your realm to be able to get you to think differently. But I think that everything that I have from a product standpoint can be found in the link tree on my Instagram page. So that’s probably where people should go for me.
James Cerbie: All right. Beautiful. Easy. Well, thanks for tuning in. Everybody hope you guys have an amazing week and yeah, back next week. Talk soon.
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