This week on the show we welcome Greg Robins to talk about motor learning, creating, and small sided games. Greg also shares who some of his influences are in the field and what he’s learned from his mentors along the way, making for a great well rounded discussion.
Greg is currently the co-owner of The Strength House, located in Worcester Massachusetts, where he works with powerlifters, adult general population, and youth athletes primarily from ages 13-18 years old. He is a coach through and through, spending his time writing programs and on the floor. Greg started strength training as a highschool baseball player when a coach recommended that he train at Mike Boyle’s Strength and Conditioning in the offseason. Greg would go on to get recruited to play college baseball and took the opportunity to become even more serious about his training, which led to him trying to learn as much as he could through independent research and lots of trial and error.
One of the mistakes that Greg said he made early on was undereating, particularly carbohydrates. When he was a freshman in college, low carbohydrate diets were gaining popularity, but aren’t appropriate for hard training athletes. These days, Greg eats a relatively low fat diet while trying to consume as many carbohydrates as possible in the form of white rice, chocolate rice cakes, and japanese sweet potatoes. This change was sparked from him revisiting basic biology and exercise physiology principles and educating himself on how the human body operates. Additionally, he references Dr. Mike Israetel and Broderick Chavez on being influential on his nutrition philosophy (and reiterating the importance of carbs). Greg points out that he even uses this approach for his clients who are trying to lean out, as most people are overeating fat since it is so calorically dense per gram compared to carbs.
We then jump into how Greg got started competing in powerlifting. While starting off as a typical commercial gym personal trainer, he found himself looking for more and stumbled upon Total Performance Sports - a powerlifting and strongman gym located in Massachusetts. He would go to their “training days” once a month and began to expose himself to various strength sports. Along the way he ended up meeting Jamie Smith who owns The University of Strength in Kingsborough, Massachusetts and they both decided to partake in an internship at Total Performance Sports. This led to him eventually getting hired at TPS and then training for his first powerlifting meet.
Next we transition into who some of Greg’s influences are in regards to programming and training methodology. Although he is a powerlifter and competes, Greg trains a wide variety of clientele and highlights the importance of spending time in the trenches while also revisiting the fundamentals of physiology, biology, and biomechanics. He credits the likes of Eric Cressey and Frans Bosch for instilling the need to understand the demands of a particular sport and how to address them with your programming. Greg also mentions Nick Winkelman, who introduced him to motor skill learning, which has allowed him to help his athletes find new ways around movement problems.
This leads us into Greg’s current thought process on programming for athletes and some of the small sided games they are using. This starts with looking at the athlete, the position they play, what they need to be able to do, and then create these small sided games to enhance their ability in that specific context. This not only puts the athletes in game-like scenarios, but provides Greg with an assessment of whether the athlete made the right decision or not and how he can get them to work towards a possibly better solution. He’s found that the clear intent of these games allows his athletes to drive higher levels of output compared to standard strength and conditioning.
James goes on to ask Greg what he’s doing differently now compared to 3 to 5 years ago, and while sometimes he is known to be quick to make a change, Greg is not afraid to make adjustments on the fly. One thing that is definitely different from several years ago is he’s using far less strength training volume with his athletes. The focus is more on high quality and high force production while teaching athletes how to self organize over sheer volume in the weightroom. Greg emphasizes that the task is what calibrates movement, and that he wants to give his athletes the right amount of variability to achieve their desired outcome.
Enjoy and be sure to hit that subscribe button if you learned a thing or two!
3:07 - Greg’s background
12:13 - The importance of carbohydrates for strength athletes
18:30 - How Greg got started with powerlifting
25:50 - Greg’s influences on programming and training methodology
33:17 - How Greg is using small sided games to improve his athletes’ performance
47:10 - What Greg is doing differently now compared to 3-5 years ago