One of his favorite students only referred to and often addressed him as the king. Who wouldn’t want a king that had no ambition for self promotion, self indulgence, or even wealth. He wanted everyone to do better, he, being a savant of his craft, truly knew better. Not until recently, people are starting to incorporate his basic techniques into their training habits. From what I have gathered, he is not only misunderstood, his techniques are equally as well. When his mother dropped him off at the University of Southern California, she asked, “How can I find you in such a large campus?” He replied, “Just ask for the king!”
Marv Marinovich is truly the king of strength and conditioning. I’ve had the blessing of being like an adopted son. The son that got his good side and none of the bad. Marv Marinovich, the king, has had much said about his his life and parenting, none hold true to my experiences. Especially as someone who has spent more one on one time with him being trained, outside his sons Todd and Mikhail. I’ve never had an uncomfortable conversation. For those who have ever known Marv, know that, this is something that is hard to avoid.
I avoided any negative interaction with Marv by keeping my mouth shut, showing up on time, doing everything asked of me, and never expressing my opinion, on anything. I only answered simple questions. This evolved as time progressed but not as quickly as most would assume. Marv to me is a savant. A “Beautiful Mind” of strength training and conditioning. Of course this type of genius has it’s setbacks.
To explain how fragile his patience was. Once when we were to train a UFC champion, I asked him, how was your trip? The champs reply was, “Long and tiring.” Strike one. When Marv asked me to train this champion in his “Ball Work” that many struggle to emulate, the champ asked that I closed the door because a draft created a chill, strike three. Marv left the gym and asked myself and his brother Gary to finish the workout. Marv has no patience. Especially for anyone who did not have perfect obedience or showed any type of mental weakness. He used to check the cooler of food my wife had packed to ensure that nothing outside of the food he prescribed was in it. Marv often said, “The most superior training, can be undermined by an inferior diet.” He would kick people out of his gym for simply bringing in a Gatorade.
The last straw Marv had broken to train anyone outside of those who truly valued his techniques was when he was kicked out of a high school facility because an athlete would intermix traditional strength training with his methodology. He had no patience for anyone, pro athlete to child. He would train and was capable of training 75 yr olds to 4 yr olds, pro athlete, or non athlete. He would treat each equally.
When I first met Marv, I was told by the athletes that had known him, shut up, do what I was told to the fullest, and that it would make sense in time. Today, as I have had many experiences with strength and conditioning coaches including Marv, they have to be some of the most stubbornest people I have ever met. They all believe they know best. However, many understand the shared philosophy, but nobody has been able to implement them and make philosophy living actions like Marv. He is not a philosopher, a purveyor of conjecture, but truly a practitioner of his craft.
The first thing I was told by Marv was to train sport specific. Cross training was big at this time but Marv would further detail, don’t train like a body builder or yoga athlete if you’re a football player. Train like footballer!. Train within the biomechanics and energy systems utilized in your specific sport. Body builders train to have big shortened muscles always under tension, adversely, yoga teaches full relaxation and maximal elongated flexibility. Both without dynamic stretch reflex or nervous system response required in all sports.
Marv constantly preached proprioception. The single poster he had hanging in his gym had written on it, “The key to life is balance.” His belief was that weaknesses compensated from the ground up. A Plantar fascia injury compensated towards the opposite calf injury, and towards the opposing hamstring etc. Weaknesses started from the ground up and in order to ensure there were no weaknesses, feet and ankles needed to be strong. Part of Marv’s genius and and humility showed when we met Tom Brady’s body coach. After accruing numerous lower body injuries myself with a torn achilles in 2010, and numerous calf injuries, we were introduced to Tom Brady’s guru, Alex Gurrero.
Alex Gurrero reached out to me to meet Marv to learn Marv’s methodology to incorporate into Tom’s training. He had explained to Marv the reason I was having these injuries were because of my barefoot training. The biomechanics from the weightroom were not translating into the field. In the gym, when barefoot, I would have full mobility through all movements, however, when on the field, with cleats or shoes, the slight variation in lack of movement would create a break in dependency between supporting muscle groups. This disturbance in chain movement required from professional athlete would soon enough break the weakest link, or the muscles/ tendons that were overloaded. Alex explained in Marv’s language that sport specific also means that even in biomechanics it’s important, a therapist’s perspective… The genius and humility of Marv was shown with an immediate change of philosophy for myself to train in cleats (or turfs) in the gym. Likewise, he would make sure that his MMA athletes trained barefoot because their sport required them to perform barefoot. True genius is that of evolution through humility.
Marv talked about three energy systems; pure speed, absolute strength endurance , and explosive speed strength. Pure speed being the maximal speed the given muscle group can move. This could be how fast athletes can move measured in MPH. Absolute strength endurance being measured in how long a muscle can resist a force absolutely, measured in force resisted. Lastly, explosive speed strength would be measured in the transition from resisted force to maximal speed, measured in time. The three energy systems can be measured in speed in mph, absolute strength endurance in force resisted, and explosive speed strength in time.
In order to play fast, you have to train fast or faster. Marv would often say with common sense, “How can you play faster if you train slower?” The ability to develop speed is in the ability to relax. He would admire the relaxing facial features in sprinters. He would explain, if an athlete like Usain Bolt has a ground contact time of .08 seconds and around 6x his body weight force into the ground, he would have to train at <.08 contact time, 6x> weight, and/or maintain same .08 contact and 6x ground force with longer stride length. In order to train this was not in traditional methods, but a skill set in the ability to relax the muscles and rely upon the nervous system. He would kick anyone out of his gym who would use traditional methods like squats, dead lifts or hamstring curls thinking it would make them faster. These methods he would explain teaches muscle tension and not relaxation, they suppressed nervous system’s ability and rely on muscles under tension.
Absolute strength endurance is quite the opposite. The ability to withstand a force within the all ranges of movement in perpetuity and consistency of repitition. This for the most part is what most all athletes train traditionally. Full muscle tensions of required muscles. Most athletes when training absolute strength endurance put the full body under tension, but for an athlete, Marv would say only the muscles required, all others must remain in a relax state, for mobility and energy preservation.
Explosive speed strength is the ability to go between all energy systems. Most agility sports require this, it’s the ability to relax and fire. A skill set based on practice and repetition through dynamic movement. This skill set cannot be learned in traditional weight training or cross fit. These take away from the bodies ability to move fluidly. He would mention how the great athletes moved not only fluidly, but effortlessly. He would often say, “I wonder how much better these athletes could be if they didn’t train to deaden what makes them so special.”
These energy systems most all strength coaches agree upon. However, Marv believed that in order to be an elite athlete, one must be able to perform in all areas and go between each systems when demanded. He would call this the ability to relax and fire. He would explain that the best athletes had this ability.
One day while Marv was training me for the NFL combine he was disgusted with himself. He let it slip out that when he was the strength and conditioning coach for the Oakland Raiders, Al Davis would send him to scout athletes. Marv developed drills to measure these athletes. These were the vertical test, 40 yard dash, broad jump, bench press, 5-10-5 etc. NFL scouts from around the country would find out where he was follow Marv around and watch the athletes go through his workouts. This is what eventually evolved into the NFL combine. He would say, this isn’t how you measure athletes. Athletes are measured by not only their willingness to work but also the ability to fluidity move between energy systems.
Marv ate what his athletes ate, drank what his athletes drank, and despite his age, still had the ability in his 60’s to show his techniques behind all his exercises. He would not ask anyone to eat or do anything he wasn’t capable of doing. When I tried to compensate him he would never accept. He would say, “I only want athletes to train better, that’s it.” Long live the king!