Landon Evans is the final speaker to be introduced for the 2012 Seminar. We are really excited to have Landon on board. His methods, knowledge and excitement to not just educate but to learn, are exactly what we are looking for here at www.cvasps.com. Landon will be speaking alongside longtime friend Joel Jamieson in what is sure to be an absolutely awe inspiring presentation that I personally cannot wait for.
JD: Landon, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. We’re excited to introduce you as one of the speakers of the 2012 Seminar. Could you please give our readers a bit of your background?
LE: I started my education in computer engineering. After 3 years and much reflecting, I jumped across campus into exercise physiology. From there I began interning with the Olympic strength & conditioning staff at Iowa State under the direction of Rohrk Cutchlow. During my own quest for knowledge, I began searching in the “strength” field of strength & conditioning. I felt that all athletes were weak, and it was my job to get them as strong as possible. With my blinders on, I read everything I could on strength development. As such, I began developing a bias towards this facet of physical preparation. However, as time went on, I began to see the downfalls of solely developing strength while I was working with the throwers at Iowa State. They were stronger, but there were power and speed elements that were simply lacking. This prompted further investigation. This is when I was introduced to Charlie Francis, Mel Siff, and Yuri Verkhoshansky. Once that introduction was established, it was a snowball effect. I felt I was re-learning everything over again. I’m extremely grateful that I went down that path, one filled with critical thought and science driven information.
After finishing my undergraduate work and internship with the Olympic S&C staff at Iowa State, I was fortunate to have been asked by Rohrk to become his full-time assistant at Illinois State University. While being at ISU for 3 ½ years, I acquired my masters in exercise physiology, and helped transform the strength & conditioning department to a successful, forward-thinking program. ISU has pumped out some quality individuals in this field. Most of the graduate assistants that went through the programs are either head coaches or assistants at the collegiate or high school level. They are all doing very well. I’m very proud of them all.
After some more reflection on the future, my wife and I believed we needed to experience the private sector in this field to possibly gain some flexibility with our family life. Unfortunately there weren’t many individuals that I trusted or knew of that would have offered me a position to continue to grow. Luckily I developed a relationship with my good friend Mark McLaughlin back in 2005 at the Verkhoshansky seminar in Chicago. After many conversations on the phone, 2 flights to Portland, and much discussion between Steph (my wife) and I, we made it happen. Working in collaboration with Mark McLaughlin at Performance Training Center as his director of athletic development allowed me to work with an extensive spectrum of athletes from middle school children, to a diverse group of professionals. Additionally, PTC was equipped with a technology called the OmegaWave. Since Omegawave is located in Portland, I was fortunate enough to have a number of exchanges with Val Nadeskin and others that were a part of the Omegawave team or individuals that were networked with Omegawave. Ultimately, I had alot of great experiences in Portland.
In 2010, I returned to ISU to continue coaching, and enrolled into the Didactic Program of Dietetics (DPD) program so I would be eligible to apply to dietetic internship programs. This is required to sit for your RD exam. Fast forward 1 ½ years to today. I’m currently full-time with my dietetic internship rotations, part-time at ISU, and continuing to consult online. I’m expected to finish with my rotations by the end of January.
JD: When people hear the name Landon Evans they immediately think of some “different” methods than those used by most coaches in the US. Who has influenced you the most in developing the methods you practice? Where can our readers find information from these people?
LE: First of all, I would hope people don’t think of me as the guy that utilizes different methods. The goal isn’t to use different methods for novelty sake, but to elicit the appropriate adaptations I desire. So, if that requires methodics that are thought to be “different”, then that is fine.
I’m a student of many. The way I operate and think is a collaboration of experiences that include individuals such as: business managers/department directors, physical education teachers, researchers from a variety of disciplines, high end sport coaches, and most importantly, the responses my athletes reveal to me.
As to where to find information? The Internet! I’m serious. I wouldn’t have found 90% of the information I’ve acquired without the Internet. Learn how to be an investigator and don’t stop until you find the answers to your questions. If you are a fan of non-english articles/texts, utilize Google translator. I’ve found many articles and books from this.
For those who are looking for authors/scientists/coaches/etc, here is a small list of people that have influenced me in one way or another: D Pfaff, C Francis, S Pavlov, V Seluyanov, V Nadeskin, A Viru, C Bosco, P Komi, A Vermeil, A Aragon, M Siff, J Daniels, M Cardindale, D Dasheva, T Zhelyazkov, V Issurin, C Valle, R Enoka, Y Verkhoshansky, G Dyson, B McEwen, J DeLuca, J Hartmann, S McGill, V Zatsiorsky, R Sapolsky, D Voet, L McDonald, R Wilk, M Reinold, A Bondarchuk, S Gropper, etc.
JD: From my conversations with you, you don’t think in terms of “strength” exercises, “power” exercises, etc. When you prescribe a movement such as oxidative squats, most coaches would think that is “different”. Can you please touch on your outlook on the role of special strength training in the preparation of athletes?
LE: This is a loaded question, but I’ll try to answer this with as minimal words as possible.
First and foremost, training is much more than exercise selection. The primary goal of training is to increase biological power. By biological power, I mean increasing the outputs of all the governing biological systems. This includes systems such as the metabolic systems (aerobic, glycolytic, alactic), neurohormonal, central nervous system, autonomic system, immune system, etc. Specific movement patterns are slaves to these systems. If you move your mind away from exercise selection and typical weekly formats, and view your program through a lens that is cognizant of these biological systems, your planning and organizing of training will be much more clear and much more directed to specific adaptations vs. utilizing the kitchen sink approach to planning and organizing the training. Plus, you’ll stop “sprinkling” exercises onto your program. Unfortunately, this happens all the time. Coaches see a new YouTube video from their favorite Internet coach, and they just throw it in to their program.
People have discussed that most kids these days are over-worked with huge volumes. Well, outside of the idea that more is better, I think a lot of coaches are afraid of removing exercises or drills from their programs with the fear they will lose some sort of magical benefit the exercise or drill provided. Instead of removing or changing their programs, these coaches continue adding more without removing anything. Special strength training is simply a way to direct your exercises appropriately. When done correctly, it changes a multitude of characteristics of the athlete, and allows them to perform at a much higher level.
For example, not all squats are the same. How you perform the exercise will direct its adaptation. Oxidative squats will elicit a higher aerobic stimulus to the working musculature, whereas traditional squats utilizing heavier loads will elicit a higher neuromuscular stimulus. Both can be useful, but it will always depend on the context in which it is used. The primary point I want to ensure people understand is that they should understand exactly what their exercises are doing, and stop prescribing exercises just for the sake of it. Go deeper in your search for answers. Leave the superficial stuff to the Internet coaches.
JD: To continue with your methods, if there is a way to finish this statement please do. “The biggest correction that coaches in the US need to make in their programming is…”
LE: I don’t want to generalize that US coaches need to make corrections. All coaches need to make corrections, regardless of their geographic location. One thing coaches need is to do is stop believing that the grass is greener on the other side. Overseas material is great, but you need to go through it with a critical eye and a solid filter. All information is useful, but to what degree depends on your personal experiences and current knowledge of the training process. Just because the author has a wild last name doesn’t imply his/her information is gold.
For all coaches, a couple things that I believe are meaningful are: allow yourself to evolve in all aspects in your profession, shift your focus to the sciences vs. the barbell, look at the past to appreciate where some of this information came from, and gather clues others may have missed.
Evolution is required for the survival of any species. To operate in the same mindset you did 1 year ago, 5 years ago, 10+ years ago is a disservice to your athletes. We are exposed to new research and technology on a daily basis now. It is criminal to dismiss this.
Take a step back from the exercises and the set/rep/load parameters for a minute. Strip this down to the core. Study more of the biological orchestra that is allowing your kids to jump higher, run faster, lift more weight, etc. Be a student of the sciences, not the weight room. Not only will this make you a better coach, it will remove many biases you have created that may have kept you within your narrow frame of mind. The past isn’t sexy. Unfortunately, we are relying on others to interpret the past and pass it on. What if they interpreted it wrong? Take the time to look into older training books and articles and make your own connections and conclusions.
JD: Part of you presentation is going to be centered on the nutritional effects on bioenergetics and training. You mentioned that you recently went back to school to get a secondary degree in nutrition. What were your motives behind this and how has it changed you as a coach?
LE: I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to go back to school and enter into a DPD program. I am not receiving another degree from this. Since I already carry the prerequisite degrees, the completion of a DPD program was required before I could apply to a dietetic internship (DI) program. Upon completion of the DI, I will be eligible to sit for the registered dietitian (RD) exam.
The motives were simple. I share the same passion for training as I do with nutrition. Plus, I work in an institution that is heavily governed by many organizations and a rule-set that is a mile long. Being legal is important to my workplace. Providing nutrition information in this setting can be tricky in certain contexts without being an RD.During my rotations so far, I’ve personally grown. It has been great to get a fresh, unbiased opinion on how I professionally operate. I think all too often, most professionals (in any field) become complacent and are settled into their routines. Additionally, it’s easier to surround yourself with individuals that share the same beliefs and values. Unfortunately, these people will rarely criticize your actions. That has not been the case so far. My preceptors are simply telling me how it is. This has already changed my outlook on a number of things, which I believe will positively translate to my coaching.
JD: Thanks for taking the time to be interviewed, Landon. To close out could you give our readers something they should be looking forward to from the presentation you and Joel Jamieson will put together for the 2012 Seminar?
LE: Expect a long, engaging, and practical presentation. Joel and I don’t have the details worked out yet, but our primary focus is to allow people to leave with ideas that can be set into motion. I love to present, but more importantly, I love to inspire and teach someone. I want the attendees to take what Joel and I present on, and make use of the information to uncover something that I didn’t know. I just hope that the attendees shares that information with me!