Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Blayne Steffen: Man of Many Suits

    We have a great interview for you today with an old friend of our Blayne Steffen.  Blayne interned with us at the University of Minnesota back in the day and we struck up a good friendship.  What's great about the Blayne Train is his diverse background.

    He's truly a man of many suits with all of his experiences.  He's been an athlete at elite levels, competed in Powerlifting, and is now competing in Body Building.  All of these areas emphasize different physical demands and needed knowledge, and because of these experiences Blayne knows a lot of shiznit!  Not to mention he's got his CSCS, CPT, USAW,  Master's Degree, and is pursuing his CISSN!

      Plus he's just plain jacked!
Suns Out, Guns Out!


1.     Hey Blayne, can you give a little background of yourself?

I am from a small town in Wisconsin called Ladysmith. I was a three sport athlete (Football, Basketball, and Track). Played division 2 football before transitioning to division 3 football my senior year at the university of Minnesota-Morris. I later tried out for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans in the NFL and later tried out for the Arizona Rattlers of the AFL. None of the opportunities panned out but they lead me into coaching college football which eventually led me into strength and conditioning. 

I have been a strength coach at the high school, all 3 college levels, while also working with some professional and Olympic athletes. I also have done personal training and nutrition consultation for all populations. 

I currently am a full time wellness coordinator for a residential company where I create nutrition and wellness programs for individuals with disabilities. I also have my own business where I consult with individuals who desire to reach their performance, fitness, and nutrition goals. I still have the dream to open my own performance/Fitness Facility. I personally am a competitive NATURAL bodybuilder and am strongly pursing my Pro Card.

2.     You have a great background with the fact that you’ve been a multiple sport athlete, powerlifted, and now body build.  This is a loaded question, but tell us a little bit about the differences and similarities between the three.

 Wow, all so very different yet I have carried the same mind set and work ethic into each realm. In terms of training things  vary when looking at variables but one thing that is the same is that the main goal of training is always to have optimal transfer of what I am doing to the sport. Transfer is everything. 

When I played football is was about high velocity training, change of direction, reaction, acceleration and deceleration and so forth. Also really studying the game is what made me a good player. You can look like tarzan, train like rocky, but if you cant transfer those things onto the field, then it doesn’t matter, so watching film and getting with teammates getting reps mentally and physically was key in improving and excelling in football. Having teammates and athlete’s to train with was crucial since it’s a team game. 

Now PL and BB are different because they are individual sports so its always about being dialed into my programming and nutrition. Training also is different bc for PL the goal isn’t to be necessarily explosive but its to move a maximal load one time. This consists of  training at very high intensities daily with lower volume for the most part. 

BB on the other hand is all about physique development and is the hardest sport IMO of all 3 because of the mental toughness one must have. Training, Conditioning, Posing, and meal prep are very very very time consuming and not a detail can be missed. Many people look at this sport as a vain, meat head type hobby but in reality it is a lifestyle and maybe the most physiologically intune sport of the three. 

BB’s really need to understand nutritional science and physiology to really know how to reach their full potential. Its not about just building the body but its really about building the metabolism. I could go on and on here as there are many details I could touch on with training and nutrition. The key here is Football training focus was to be explosive and perform movements that would only transfer to the field. PL is about training for power and maximal strength. BB is about training for hypertrophy/strength. All three need to use periodization and DUP methods IMO. Compound movements are a must in all 3. Nutrition is key to optimizing performance in all 3 sports too. 

3.     What does your current training and nutrition look like?

I am a firm believer in flexible dieting or IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros). This allows one to have balance in their life while also reaching their goals. Basically I calculate Macro Nutrients (Fat, Carboydrate, and Protein). I also makes sure to hit micro nutrients too such as Fiber, Vitamins, and Minerals. 

Currently I am in the tail end of my offseason. I eat 365 g carbs, 235 g Protein, & 85 g Fat per day. This is spread out into about 5-6 meals per day. The goal is always to add small amounts of food at a time allowing the metabolism to adapt so minimal body fat is stored. At the end of my last cut phase I was down to 175 carbs and over the period of 4 months we have got them back up to almost 400. There is more to it but this is a basic explanation of where I am and how I got there. I will begin competition prep March 22. First competition will be September 13 and the last one will be November 22, unless I can EARN that pro status before then!

Training right now is currently done by the strength guys. Check them out at www.thestrengthguys.com.  Everything is periodized in a daily undulated fashion. Currently I am beginning a POWER block of training. I am trying to crack some PR’s before prep starts in about 4 weeks. I did my own programming until about last October. I wanted to think outside the box, try something new, while also being able to focus more on my client’s programming and not my own. So far so good!! Have picked up a few things I am now using with my clients. Hit up Jason Trembley or Jacob Trout sometime, very intelligent guys and as I like to call them “PRODIGIES” in the field. Currently I am standing at the leanest and strongest I have ever been at 192 and am doing ZERO cardio.

4.     There is so much garbage info out their about supplements and all these supplement companies putting out subpar products.  What do you feel are “must” supplements or supplements that actually hold up to the scrutiny of research?

Very true. First off I believe that you get what you pay for. Buying shit from the big popular companies is a waste of money and products are low quality in my opinion. Buying from smaller companies like Devovo Nutrition, Beyond Driven, and Core Nutritionals is the way to go because they are small companies ran by natural pro bodybuilders, power lifters, RD’s, and people who hold advanced degrees in Biochemistry, nutritional science, exercise physiology, etc. Their products are based on research and are not loaded with fillers.

As far as actual things to use I would recommend a preworkout containing Creatine, beta Alanine, and caffeine or you can buy these separate and mix in coffee minus the caffeine OBV and make your own, also I would recommend BCAA’s (Leucine, Iso-Leucine, Valine, L-Glutamine), Whey Protein isolate that is 80% or above protein with the first thing reading on the label saying “whey protein isolate” NOT “whey protein concenterate” J

Also a good way to know if your product is quality is to divide the total serving (grams in wt) by the grams of protein per serving. This will give you the Protein %. If its below 80% you have been hosed. I also recommend mult-vitamin and fishoil. Joint support if needed, Vitamin D if needed, ZMA and HMB are not a bad products out there that have recent research to support their functions.
However I will tell you what I tell all my clients and that is a supplement is just that a SUPPLEMENT. It is not the end to a means, it simply MAY aid and support one reach their performance with goals assuming they also are using optimal training strategies, eat a well sport performance based balanced diet, sleeping as much as possible, and not using bad lifestyle habits.

5.     Who are some of your biggest influences in this industry?

Mel Siff, Vlatimir Zatsiorsky, Grey Cook, Cal Dietz, Mike Boyle, Dan John, Mike T Nelson, Layne Norton, Cliff Wilson, Tyler Mayer, Brian Ahlstom, Brad Schonenfield, John Gorman, Alan Aragon, Mike Reinold, Jeff Cubos, Jason trembley, Jacob Trout, Alberto Nunez, Sara Wiley, Greg Lanners, so so so so so many more

6.     What are some trends you’re starting to see in your learning and where do you think it may lead?

As I get older, more mature, educated, yada, yada, the biggest thing I notice are not necessarily the mistakes I made in the past but I notice things I could have done better. The more I learn, the more I realize I could have done better but that is part of the process with everyone.

As far as trend in the field that has always been there but I think has been taken for granted is sports nutrition effect on performance. I foresee the sport nutritionists having a larger role in NCAA and professional ranks of athletics. They really should have just as important or equal a role as strength/conditioning coaches IMO. 

7.     When working with clients what are some of the most common dysfunctions (whether it be mobility, stability, strength, posture, asymmetry, et) you see and what steps do you take to correct them?

With athletes its always usually form. Usually teaching hip hinge, foot width/placement during compound movements, tempo, body control/awareness, proper depth, ect. These clients are so moldable though in that they adapt quickly and respond very well to coaching cues.

General population it usually is always tight hips, bad back, lack of overall mobility. I notice generally just getting them moving helps progress mobility. Also since moving and resistance training leads to weight loss, this also aids with increased mobility. A big part of my mobility program is dynamic stretching. Sometimes this is all my clients do at first then we progress to BW movements, dowel, then we load. Its all relative to the individual.

8.     Walk us through how you approach an athletes training in terms of program design, number of training sessions, exercise order, upper/lower body splits, core work, mobility work, and recovery (I know, another loaded question!)

Its always individual to the athlete or client. No one person has the same strength, weaknesses, or body.

I first see what their level of experience training is, what equipment they have to their exposal if online client, I ask for physical limitations, PARQ, what their availability is as far as what the MOST they can train per week. From there depending upon the goal, athlete, where we are in the season/offseason I begin program design.

Program design for me is periodized for everyone, WHY? Because periodization is a plan and in every program there needs to be a plan if the outcome is geared toward success. Just like anything in life if you don’t have a plan then the only thing you do is plan to fail IMO.

Sorry I can’t get more detailed with training variables but it really all depends on the person, sport, and goal.

9.     In your opinion, what are the best online sources for aspiring coaches to check out frequently?

Any CEU coarses OBV, scientific journals such as JSCR, SCJ, JISSN, not all but some great artciles are available on TNATION.com and ELITEFTS.com, also reading articles from guys like Layne Norton, Cliff Wilson, Alberto Nunez, Alan, Aragon, Jason trembley, Andrew Vigotsky, Mike Boyle, Dan John, among others. Always refer back to old text books, notes, and presentation slides.

10. In your opinion, what’s the biggest obstacle for someone in this industry, whether it be in the private sector or as a University S&C?

Well as you know in the NCAA its very hard to overcome politics. Many of us get “used and abused” at that level. Others may say its “paying your dues”, but that is a bunch of BS. 

If you’re the best coach there at that program then you need to be promoted, PERIOD!!! However just like nice guys finish last, well so do smart coaches sometimes. The hours at that level are hard to deal with too. 5am-7pm, 6 sometimes 7 days per week, travel with team, man sounds great but doesn’t allow balance. Not for 30,000 a year either. Do the math…1-2 dollars an hour?!?! 

I also found it very biased at times. You either had to train like this or train like that or you weren’t worthy, just a bunch of BS let me tell ya. It also was hard being a “puppet” at programs where a director would do all programing and then have us assistants only there to implement what they designed. How in the hell does a coach develop their own philosophy if they cant use trial and error and program for their own athletes?!?! It's not what you know, its all about who you know. These are all reasons why I moved out of the NCAA and moved into a balanced career within the field where I can continue to do what I love on the side while watching it grow.

Speed Round!

Squats or Deadlifts? 

Gotta love them BOTH!!
I would program them both but would add more volume with squats then with deadlifts in most programs.

Olympic Lifts or Other Means of Power Development?

Once again both have their place in periodization of a program. What I love about Olympic lifts are that there are so many pre-requisite movements and steps until a full Clean, Snatch, or Jerk is complete. So these things can always be implemented in one way or another.

 Coffee, Energy Drinks, or Soda?

Coffee…..YUCK!!! sugar free monster all day long, diet Mtn Dew here and there. Lets face it we need our stimulants in this field!!!

Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lawrence, Jennifer Love-Hewitt, or Jennifer Hudson?

Jennifer Love-Hewitt….YES PLEASE!!!! Loved her growing up, loved her in college, love her now, probably still love her when I am old and wrinkly.

Thanks Blayne!

No Problem Brutha!!! Was my pleasure!!! Although our time at the U of M was short, it def was sweet and I will never forget it!!! Love seeing what your doing man!!! Keep working hard man and keep me posted in your endeavors if not including me in them!

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