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Industry Interview: Nick Tumminello

by Meaghan posted February 14, 2011

One of my goals this year was to get more interviews up on this blog. A couple weeks ago we had a great one from Chris McGrath (whose FMS workshop this past weekend was FANTASTIC), and today we have another from leading trainer and strength coach Nick Tumminello – so I guess I’m right on track!

Nick is the owner of Performance University in Baltimore, Maryland. He has written for several fitness magazines – including Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Muscle & Fitness and Oxygen – and has a number of instructional DVDs available, including his latest, Joint Friendly Strength Training.

Nick has also made quite a name for himself as an international educator in the fitness field. He will be presenting at the IDEA Personal Trainer Institute in Virginia this coming weekend, in Iceland the following week and again at the Arnold Classic the first week in March. If you can attend any of Nick’s events, I highly suggest you do. Here’s what he’ll be covering at his Vancouver workshop in November:

Now, on to the interview!

Nick, you are GREAT at coming up with innovative moves. What’s your thought process when developing new exercises or tweaking old ones?

I get this question often. The way I come up with exercises is simple: I see a need to train a certain movement pattern, so I find a way to train it. If there’s no exercise that already exists to train the movement, I design one. We put it into practice, test it and refine it until we have something safe, functional and effective.

The old standby moves will always rule; they’ll always be the foundation of my strength programs. But there’s no reason we can’t blend the new with the old to get better results. That’s what I feel we do best here at Performance U – take the best from both worlds to create comprehensive programs.

I really like your use of MAPS. Can you briefly explain this technique and how you implement it in your programs?

MAPS stands for Mobility Activation Paired Sets, and it was developed to increase the effectiveness of our mobility and muscle activation drills. Traditionally, coaches place mobility and muscle activation in two separate sections of their programs; but hundreds of clients and thousands of hours of practical experience have taught me that mobility and activation drills are both more effective when paired together as supersets.

Here’s why: After performing a mobility drill, you will have gained new range of motion (DUH!) The problem is that you still haven’t taught your body how to control that new range; your central nervous system (CNS) hasn’t developed the motor control needed to keep that mobility and safely use it during functional movement. This is where the activation drill comes in: Performing muscle activation within the newly acquired range of motion allows you to build that necessary motor control and keep that new range, and your CNS can then “functionalize” your new-found mobility into active movement patterns.

What are your goals for 2011? Any new projects we can look forward to?

This is already turning out to be a monster year for Performance U and it’s only February!

Mostly, I want to bring strength and conditioning back to the fitness industry. It seems these days everyone is talking about postural dysfunctions and correcting stuff, and not enough intense exercise is getting done. I want to help fitness professionals and strength coaches find their identities, and understand that they don’t have to treat every client like a rehab patient. I’m doing everything I can to help people understand how to get bigger, stronger, leaner and faster, all the while working around their limitations and focusing on what can be done successfully.

What trends do you expect to see this year?

The main trend I expect to see this year is the same one that occurs every year: Folks will continue to argue about who has the “best” method of doing things, even though lots of methods can produce good results. Everyone thinks their stuff is the best. But we forget that our way is just that: OUR way. It’s not the ONLY way. If there was only one way to do something, we’d all be doing it already.

What was the biggest mistake you made when starting out in this field?

Not having my own identity. Fitness pros are now learning almost exclusively from physical therapists, manual therapists, chiropractors and scientists. Trainers try to emulate what these folks are doing because it’s what the people teaching them do. Unfortunately, it’s not what we fitness professionals do. We are the experts on exercise – at least we should be. But we’ve made the mistake of trying to be mediocre rehab technicians instead of master fitness professionals. Instead of trying to copy PTs – who will always be better at assessments and corrective exercise – we should focus on doing what we do better than these guys; and that’s exercise design, prescription and implementation.

What’s your best tip for trainers and trainees?

Keep it simple, stick with the basics and don’t forget about the stuff that has worked for you in the past. Some expert may say it stinks, but if it works for you and you enjoy it, it doesn’t stink!

You heard him: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

That’s great advice, especially today. When in doubt, KISS!

It is Valentine’s Day, after all.

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