Entrevue avec Kyle Bangen de l’Université Michigan Tech

Aujourd’hui, je vous présente un interview que j’ai réalisé avec mon collègue Kyle Bangen de l’Université Michigan Tech.  J’ai rencontré Kyle lors du séminaire Standing on the Shoulders of Giants organisé par le Boston Sport Medicine and Performance Group en juin dernier et nous avons continué d’échanger via Facebook depuis.  (À noter que l’interview a été réalisé en anglais)

XR: First, Kyle, I’d like to thank you for taking some of your time to do this interview. Before we move on, can you tell the readers a little bit about your background and what brought you to the field of strength and conditioning?

KB: I got into the field of Strength and Conditioning due to a lack of athletic ability. I realized in my early to mid teens that I wasn’t going to the NHL and I needed to find a way to stay involved in sports. I always had an interest in the academic side of things (though I may not have always applied myself) and I thought I could combine the two and go into sports medicine or athletic training. So I sporadically would job shadow some people involved with those fields during my high school years. Then during my senior year of high school my Dad had a great opportunity to become an Assistant Coach with the Vancouver Canucks and I met Peter Twist (the Canucks Strength and Conditioning Coach). What he was doing seemed so much more exciting. He was working to improve players where as athletic training and sports medicine was more about getting players just back to where they were before and with not perfect success rates. After spending some time with Peter I quickly switched my career goals.

For my undergraduate I went to the University of British Columbia to study exercise science. While there I was the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Men’s Hockey Team (I also had to be the equipment manager to be allowed to do this). During the summers I worked at private sports performance locations in Calgary (Acceleration Calgary) and Vancouver (Twist Conditioning). As soon as I wrote my last exam to finish my degree I moved to Wilcox, Saskatchewan to be the Head Strength Coach at Athol Murray College of Notre Dame, a private high school with a rich athletics tradition, for two years. Then made the international move to pursue a Master’s degree in exercise science and be a volunteer graduate assistant strength coach for the Men’s Hockey Team at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

After spending ten months scrambling to get enough credits for a Master’s degree I moved to Houghton, Michigan to be the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Division I Men’s Hockey Team and two years later was promoted to Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the whole athletics department. I have held this position for five years now and in addition to hockey, work with our Division II Football, Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Volleyball, Soccer and Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams.

XR: That’s a huge amount of experience that you’ve gained over the years! How did these working experiences forged your philosophy regarding strength and conditioning? Who are the people who have influenced you the most?

KB: Thank you, it’s been quite a journey so far and I feel like it’s just getting started. Working with the UBC hockey team taught me how to be creative and make changes on the fly. We didn’t have a facility to work out in so we did it in the dressing room with one weight bench, a bar (standard size, not Olympic), some plates, an adjustable dumbbell set, a 10 pound medicine ball and a balance board. As for programming, it was mostly based on Tudor Bompa’s thoughts on periodization. This type of programming continued at Notre Dame which was great experience for molding me into a better coach because of the volume of young athletes I would see everyday and the experience of teaching athletes who didn’t know much about training the basics every year.

At Miami, I learned how a multi-team, high performance strength program should run logistically and I learned a lot about the Olympic lifts and how to teach them. Looking back at my career so far I have spent a lot of time either working alone or as the person in charge so I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to learn directly from others but it has forced me to really develop my own philosophy and refine it on my own as I see fit.

As for people who have influenced me the most, my Dad would probably be the top of that list. As a coach himself, obviously I took a lot from him in terms of how to handle myself and my core values, but he has always been extremely supportive of my career. He used to be a member of the NSCA so I had every issue of the Strength and Conditioning Journal from the mid eighties and he has bought me countless books, DVDs and paid for seminars for me when I couldn’t afford them.

Professionally, the strength coaches that I did get a chance to work under: Peter Twist, James Gattinger at Acceleration Calgary and Dan Dalrymple at Miami (now with the New Orleans Saints) have all had a huge influence and taught me a lot about how to train athletes. Those I have learned a lot from their books, articles, DVDs, lectures include Mike Boyle, Gray Cook, Charlie Weingroff, Matt Nichol, Sean Skahan. I am fortunate enough to be « colleagues » and get to interact and learn from Cal Dietz (University of Minnesota), Jim Snider (University of Wisconsin), Anthony Donskov, and Kevin Neeld (and the other guys at Endeavor).

The new realms of strength and conditioning I’m trying to learn more about now are recovery and nutrition and so the knowledge that Dr. John Berardi and others at Precision Nutrition, Joel Jamieson, David Tenley and Patrick Ward put out into the world have really taught me a lot.

XR: I think it is reasonable to say that you’ve acquired a vast knowledge from these various situations. You’ve mentionned that in your early years at UBC, you’ve based your programming out of Bompa’s concepts. Many professionals in the field of strength and conditioning feel that these concepts are now outdated due to the longer competitive season and shorter preparation period in sports like hockey, soccer and basketball. How do you manage training variables such as volume and intensity in these sports in order to prevent overtraining?

KB: True, they are a little outdated and not as effective as some other methods for more advanced athletes. However, linear periodization still has some use in training beginning athletes. In terms of managing variables to prevent overtraining, the NCAA limits the number of hours that student athletes can participate in team activities, so that is a simple prevention tool. Outside of the school year, however, there is no limit in hours so a little more planning needs to take place to prevent overtraining. My philosophy is to train optimally, not maximally (most of the time, sometimes a little overstimulation is ok), and that adaptation is 50% stimulus and 50% recovery. I think if the training isn’t going as planned or the athletes’ performance has decreased at all the first inclination should be to remove things from a program, not add.

I think Joel Jamieson’s new heart rate variability product is going to be very influential in being able to monitor athlete readiness and their state of homeostasis. However, there are some other methods to get at least a glimpse into this through vertical jump, grip strength or resting heart rate.

XR: Let’s stay with that concept of monitoring training loads. I need to do more reading about heart rate variability (HRV) but I feel that it is an interesting concept. Lately, my research has been focusing on Borg’s Rate of Perceived Effort (RPE) and how you can apply it in training. I know the University of Connecticut has been using a similar system. At Michigan Tech, what are the tools that you use to monitor training and recovery with your athletes, especially during competitive season?

KB: I wouldn’t say I know everything about HRV but everything I read and hear about it indicates that it is a very clear window into the parasympathetic/sympathetic state that one is in and allows for adjustments in training. As you said, there are other ways to look at the « state » of athletes. I haven’t used much RPE, but what I like about it is the « perceived » part of it. It’s not always about the actual workload but how the athlete feels and reacts to the workload. Again, I don’t use the actual Borg scale, but simply asking some questions about how the athletes feel and their perception of practice and training can give you some good insight. Also simply looking at the schedule will give you a good idea of the amount and type of training that they can handle, we tend to more of a recovery style workout after road trips versus a home weekend. The one thing that I do use to quantify my athlete’s recovery is a vertical jump using a jump mat as it is quick and simple.

XR:  In terms of training design, what strategies do you use when you feel that the athletes under your supervision would need to back off training, like after road trips for instance?  Do you reduce volume significantly or vary the exercises and use some that are less demanding?

KB:There are definitely multiple strategies to take. Like you said, just decreasing the volume is one idea, like decreasing the number of exercises or the number of sets per exercises. You can change the exercises to incorporate less central nervous system intensive exercises like the Olympic lifts or squats. You can have just a « recovery » day with self myofascial release, mobility and activation exercises with recovery modality use such as hydrotherapy after the workout.

However, these are just methods of decreasing the amount or level of stress put on the body. Although this is obviously better than adding stress to an already under-recovered athlete, the questions I’ve been asking lately, can we add stress that would actually aid in recovery? For example, for metabolic recovery, the use of tempo runs or, and this is what I have been experimenting with lately after learning of these techniques from Joel Jamieson, can I manipulate the hormonal system to go from a catabolic (protein degradation) state to an anabolic (protein synthesis) state by using training methods that promote anabolic hormone (i.e. testosterone and growth hormone) release. The training methods to accomplish this is to use multi-joint, large muscle group exercises (i.e. squat, deadlift, etc) with large volume sets (8-10 reps), moderate intensity (70-80% 1RM) and shorter rest periods (30-90 seconds).

XR: And I am sure we will be able to find the results of these experiments on your blog soon! I want to thank you for taking some time to do this interview. In the end, can you give us of glimpse of what’s to come for you at Michigan Tech and with Bangen Athletic Development in 2012?

KB: It was my pleasure Xavier. Hopefully 2012 will bring more wins for the Michigan Tech Huskies! Hockey is about a third of the way through the season and we are much improved over last year so our goal is to fight for a home playoff birth. Our basketball teams have just got underway with our women’s team going for their fifth straight league championship and fourth straight trip to the NCAA Elite Eight and our men’s team was picked to win their division so I hope that they can live up to that. In the spring our men’s tennis team will compete, and with this being the first year they have worked with me hopefully I can help bring them some success. For our off-season athletes, we’ll keep working hard to get better everyday and I look forward to using the knowledge from the Precision Nutrition certification to improve their eating habits.

As for Bangen Athletic Development, I hope to find some more time to devote to the website (probably won’t happen), but it could use some sprucing up with some pictures, etc. I’m looking forward to some conferences such as the Boston Sports Medicine Group’s Summer Seminar May 19th and 20th, the Perform Better Functional Training Summit in Chicago June 29th-July 1st and I hope to go to my first Central Virginia Sports Performance Seminar in late April. Hopefully these will lead to some good blog posts. I also am working on a new progression centered program for our incoming freshmen and I would like to offer that through my website as well.

Thanks for the great questions and keep up the excellent content on XR Performance!

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