Our guest today is the owner of SOAR fitness in Columbus Ohio, Mike Kozak. Mike previously appeared on podcast #184 and has written several articles for Just Fly Sports. Notably, Mike has mentored extensively under Adarian Barr, and frequently posts the exercise and training progressions based on Adarian’s work.
Speed is always en vogue in the world of athletics, but something important to understand is that running and moving right not only will make athletes faster, but also make them more resilient and robust, reducing injury rates. When we move as nature intended, and then amplify that in our training, we can make the most out of free-energy return systems. When we simply “produce more force” and muscle our movements, we may gain some speed in the short term, but we can do it at the cost of higher risks of injury and a lower total athletic ceiling.
Mike has experience, not only with Adarian Barr’s methods, but he also has worked closely with elite physical therapists who have extensive knowledge of advanced methods such as PRI and the work of Bill Hartman. On today’s podcast, we are looking at the nuts and bolts of Mike’s performance program “from the ground up” starting with how he addresses the feet and an athlete’s posture, and then designs drills and tasks from that standpoint. We also touch on elements further up the kinetic chain, and how this can impact how we look at the entire athletic system. This was a fantastic, practical episode that features many important elements that we need to be addressing in the training of our athletes to fully integrate the feet, hips, spine and posture.
Today’s episode is brought to you by SimpliFaster, supplier of high-end athletic development tools, such as the Freelap timing system, kBox, Sprint 1080, and more.
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Timestamps and Main Points
5:30 How adjusting to outdoor workouts with no weights due to COVID restrictions created a unique and effective training environment for Mike and his athletes
16:55 How Mike does not have a formal strength and conditioning background, and how his own experience as an athlete, as well as his physical education experience, formed the base of how he now trains athletes
22:20 Staples of Mike’s program that he learned from Adarian Barr, starting from the level of the foot, and how he works his way up the kinetic chain
27:15 How Mike works on dorsiflexion (or doesn’t) and how he emphasizes the action of the foot as a second class lever in athletes
40:35 How Mike teaches the foot working as a second class lever to improve the efficiency of the Achilles tendon, as well as the preservation of kinetic energy
53:00 Ideas on the transverse arch of the foot and how this applies to athletic performance
58:00 How the feet relate to what is happening upstream in the kinetic chain (hip internal rotation, expansion, compression, etc.)
“The start of our session used to be foam rolling, honestly just to take attendance (we don’t do that anymore). Let’s use the start of our session to do something these kids never do”
“To me, level 1 is, do you have any idea what your feet are doing, and most kids do not… if I can get kids to now understand the tripod, not be a toe gripper, and then can I effectively get them on the inside edge (unless you are over-pronated)”
“The main thing I try to get across to my kids is, “shin’s going down, heel’s coming up””
“If they (the athlete’s) do it already, I don’t have any reason to fill their minds with information they don’t need.. they are already there!”
“If the shin keeps moving forward, and the heel stays down, you are staying in first class, you are just stretching the Achilles. If you are someone who has a lot of dorsiflexion range, then your athletic posture has to dial you into a start stance that gets that heel to pull up faster”
“A person who has less dorsiflexion range may strike (in accel...