By DJ Stieber PT, DPT, CSCS

As a newly certified NSCA strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), I recently attended the Clinical Athlete (CA) Clinical Weightlifting Coach (CWC) seminar hosted by CA founder and physical therapist Dr. Quinn Henoch. Being a novice in the strength and conditioning/Olympic-lifting realm, I sought out this course to personally hone my own technique with Olympic lifting as well as learn how I could apply the techniques to my everyday clients. It did not disappoint!

The two-day course was held in Brooklyn, NY at Brooklyn Athletic Club, a small gym located in the Williamsburg section of the city. (I totally had to look that up because I am 100% not a NYC person. Philly kid for life! Sorry Dan and Ken!) There were about 20 participants across multiple disciplines ranging from PTs/PT students, personal trainers, strength coaches, and even some athletes who just wanted to learn from Coach Henoch. The first day was largely lecture based, providing insight into the movements themselves (snatch, split-jerk, clean and jerk), common faults, etc. but also featured multiple interactive breakout sessions which delivered some pretty killer regressions, warm-up and mobility drills, and screening tools. (Even if you have no idea what any of these lifts are please keep reading, I’ll try to limit my jargon and avoid simply explaining what each lift is. There’s plenty of awesome websites, YouTube channels, and Instagram videos out there on the “interwebs” that can show you if you’re interested). With only about a year of PT practice under my belt, this was largely the reason I attended the seminar and Dr. Quinn delivered in this area, providing interventions I’ve been utilizing on a daily basis with my clients with some pretty awesome results. Take the supine overhead wall press for example. An awesome core exercise with carryover into the front rack position required for many Olympic lifts yet also with implications for individuals with difficulty “feeling” proper core engagement. Hold this positioning for a couple of breaths and tell me your abs don’t feel like they want to rip open (in a totally good way)! I’ve never experienced an abdominal cramp but I imagine the feeling you get with this exercise is pretty close.

Supine Braced Overhead Press

In a PT/fitness world driven by fancy mobility tools, mashing techniques and over-exaggerated warm-ups (maybe ditch aimlessly rolling over that foam log for 45 minutes as your warm-up, I’m talking to you reader), it was refreshing to hear Dr. Quinn’s simplistic, yet effective approach with an emphasis on evidence-based techniques and little to no equipment save for some barbells, plates, and kettlebells. Basically just get out and move people, your body is capable of some pretty cool stuff, healing included!

I forgot to give a little background on Dr. Quinn. He’s a former collegiate football player and current physical therapist himself who’s in the business of rehabbing/training athletes out in SoCal. Pretty rough I  know. He’s also the founder of Clinical Athlete, “a community designed to help pair athletes with the type of clinician that understands them. Healthcare providers that not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk, bridging the gap between performance and rehab.” His approach stems from his experiences as an athlete and current competitive weightlifter. He is up there as a role model for me with guys like Eric Cressey, Mike Boyle, and Charlie Weingroff (I’ll also try to limit my Dr. Quinn fanboy-ing). I could spend a whole blog post telling you about his credentialing, achievements, etc. but I’ll let you do that yourself. Let’s get back to the seminar.

Dr. Quinn demonstrating the standing braced bottom-up KB press

Day 2 was about 7 hours of drilling movements, learning and coaching regressions and more drilling. I learned a lot about my own stance, mobility and overall positional requirements for the Olympic movements. I’d say I definitely conquered some of my own fears about overhead lifting as well, the unicorn of the weight-training world.

Attempting to get comfortable in the overhead squat position

Dr. Quinn put a great deal of emphasis on learning how to coach the movements, not simply being able to master them as athletes. In times where the gym sounded a bit quiet, Dr. Quinn made sure to hold us accountable for picking out our partner’s flaws and correcting during the movement itself, even in a split stance with a loaded barbell overhead. By the end of the afternoon, we had all become pretty comfortable analyzing and correcting the movements, but we were all a long way off from being on Dr. Quinn’s level. He definitely delivered on his promise of providing us with tools to immediately implement into our practice, the “golden nuggets” of the weekend. I left the seminar hungry to continue training, coaching, and learning about the sport of Olympic weightlifting. I also left Brooklyn with some pretty sweet souvenirs as well: a new Clinical Weightlifting Coach certification, picture with Coach/Dr. Henoch, and most rewarding, the 48 hours of delayed onset muscle soreness that followed in the days after the course! No pain, no gain, right?

Being a relatively new PT, I found that out of the courses I have taken over the last year of clinical practice, this has been the most rewarding and applicable to my daily practice. In a field focused on optimizing human movement/performance, I feel like more often than not the gimmicky or trendy interventions are the ones most commonly used, even if there isn’t much efficacy or evidence behind them. Many of the courses teach passive modalities and have gotten away from simply examining movement. I’m guilty of using them myself, but what I’m finding as I grow is that rehab doesn’t require the latest gadget (although I admit they have their place and I continue to use them) and sometimes simply desensitizing a problematic movement pattern or loading a tissue is all that is really required. One of my big takeaways from the seminar was that many of the times, the sensation of pain can be manipulated simply by coaching better movement and getting our client’s to do just that. It doesn’t have to be “sexy” it just has to be effective and I’m really starting to understand that. I am trying not to over-complicate cases or “chase ghosts” as Dr. Quinn would say. So often I find myself creating problems and emphasizing minutia during assessments when I should simply be analyzing movement and determining whether or not it is functional and if there is pain associated. It’s going to take some time to kick old habits, but I’m excited to continue exploring and learning while collaborating with my fellow colleagues as a potential Clinical Athlete Provider.

Thomas Jefferson alumni posing with Dr. Quinn

Hopefully you’ve gotten some pearl of information or insight from this post. If there are any questions or comments, I’d be happy to hear some feedback. Just be nice, I’m a first timer. If you have an interest in learning more about Dr. Quinn, Clinical Athlete (CA), or any of their courses, check out their social media platforms or website. If you are a CrossFit athlete, Olympic lifter, field athlete or weekend warrior and are experiencing pain or simply want to learn how to move better, please reach out to us here at SJPT, we would love to get you back to doing what you all do best. We all have developed a special interest in working with athletes regardless of sport, so get the type of care you deserve with clinicians who   understand what you as an athlete need.

Group shot with Dr. Quinn’s trademark thumbs up

Last thing, I just want to thank Dr. Quinn for inspiring me to better, for changing my way of thinking, fixing my technique, taking some time out of the seminar to talk about the current state of affairs in the PT world and also brainstorming some clinical scenarios. It was totally awesome nerding out with you for a bit (last fanboy moment I promise)! Please follow SJPT on all of our social media platforms; maybe we can start a petition to get Dr. Quinn to come to the Philadelphia/South Jersey area. Also, look out for SJPT at any upcoming seminars we may be attending or possibly hosting. Thanks for reading and happy training!