Athlete Highlight: Patrick the Theatrical Athlete

Meet Patrick. He's an accomplished actor, singer (and continues to work on both), and avid Game of Thrones fan (which keeps the conversations lively on the coaching floor).

Oh, how I wish my past self had taken more pictures and videos! He was a totally different kid then. I'll do my best to describe him. Pat started with us at the end of July, 2013.

Pat, a rising sophomore in high school, was (and still is) in drama and also fenced (at the time). He readily admitted that he didn't have much experience with sports and had never weight trained before. During Pat's evaluation, he had a lot of trouble performing a body weight squat (his form was pretty iffy), shook while holding a plank, and struggled mightily with the hops and jumps we do for power assessments. (Especially one-legged hops; single leg anything was Pat's nemesis for the first 6 months at SAPT).

His first few training programs were fairly regressed compared to the typical athlete programs we write. We had him squatting to a bench (which is pretty high, to shorten the range of motion) and with only 15-20lbs. They were definitely not the smoothest squats we'd ever seen. Hip-hinging, aka, deadlifts with a kettlebell were also a tough movement pattern for him to master; he started those with a 20lb kettlebell and stayed between 20-35lbs for about 3-4 months.

He had a lot of low-level drills of just standing on one foot, and when he did start split squats (about 3-4 months in) he utilized the wall for balance. Planks were pretty tough for him, as were most core and upper body exercises too. We elevated his hands pretty high for his pushups (I think we elevated the barbell to around his waist height.)

An outsider looking in might have thought that this kid had way to far to go to actually improve or that he might never be as strong as "regular" athletes (that is the mainstream sports).

But Pat surprised us all.

Pat faithfully came 2x/week, and worked hard every session. Sure, there were some days where he wasn't feeling the best, or he tweaked something, or pulled something (this was a semi-common occurrence during the first few months), or banged into something... He never complained and he consistently did his best to train to the utmost of his ability each day.

Here's a video of Pat's pushups in February of this year:

Not too bad for a kid who started with his hands raised about 6 inches higher than they are in that video.

Pat remained consistent with his training and pretty soon, he was kicking butt and takin' names like the best of them.

Currently he sumo deadlifts around 145lbs, he's squatting with the GCB (giant camber bar) to a LOW box (lower than I squat actually) around the 100lb range. Remember how I said Pat had trouble with jumps? He had a hard time deccelerating and would often lose his balance and fall over. Now, he can knock out a perfect set of one-legged cone hops, forward and to the side. He's performing heidens (it's not Pat in the video, but I don't have one of him heiden-ing. Curses!), heidens with rebounds, and heidens with a medicine ball throw.

And check out his pushups now:

He could have done more, but I told him he only needed to do a few. He can easily hit 25-30 pushups in a session now (on the floor!)

He's lost 25lbs to boot too!

One of my favorite quirks of Pat is his note-taking on his programs. A few months back, I wrote in weighted baby crawls and I indicated that he could use knee pads if he wanted. This was the response:

"knee pads are for the weak and those with sensitive  skin."
"knee pads are for the weak and those with sensitive skin."

Clearly, I underestimated Pat. I try not to do so now.

I think it's one thing if the coaches notice these drastic improvements, I mean, that's our job. But, with Pat, OTHER athletes have noticed his work ethic and changes. Three of our D1 athletes have, separately and unprovoked, commented on how impressed they were with Pat's progress. Several other high schoolers have also mentioned or asked about Pat, as in, "Hey, who's that kid? Is he the same one from last year?" or something to that effect. His peers have noticed, rightfully so, his dedication and efforts of the past year-ish; that is pretty darn impressive if you ask me.

Speaking of, Pat has impressed me, and continues to do so, immensely over the past year. I can hardly get over how different he is from last July. He's confident, strong, and his movements patterns have improved by 1000%! Now, you might look at his numbers and think, "That's not so much weight." But you neglect to factor in where Pat started. He started with a 20lb deadlift and is now lifting 145... that's over a 700% increase. Not only that, but he's NEVER lifted before, nor did he have much experience with sports (so he didn't have a rich motor pattern map to begin with, we had to build it in here, which takes a while.)

All of it comes down to consistent training and consistently putting forth his best effort.

To be honest, Pat didn't have much external motivation to keep coming (like a D1 scholarship or something) but HE DID. There was no coach breathing down his neck to improve or the pressure of making a team to entice him to train hard, but HE DID. He doesn't have the freaky natural talent like many athletes (who, if I'm even more honest, often don't train nearly as consistently or as hard as they should because they're talented) but he's improved the MOST out of all my athletes. It's rare to see this dramatic of a change in one athlete in the course of a year, and I am so privileged to be witness to it. Dramatic change for a dramatic guy, I guess. :)

Patrick is why I love my job. I have the amazing blessing of an opportunity to work with kids like him. Kids who may not look that athletic or grand on their first introduction to iron, but through hard work, turn a complete 180 and dominate the weight room. In the strength world, it's an aspiration of many to be the coach of a pro team, or work with professional and highly skilled athletes (and be famous for it).

I'd take one Patrick over 100 pro athletes any day.