The trainer behind Georges St-Pierre, Miguel Cotto, Manny Pacquaio, Troy Polamalu, and hundreds of other professional athletes, has a bone to pick with almost everything propagated in high school and college weight rooms across the country. Sport Science Lab founder Gavin Macmillan argues that an over-emphasis on Olympic-style lifting perpetuates a culture of slow, non-functional athletes. Instead, he says we should be built from the ground up – with foot strength, balance training, rhythm, and elastic explosiveness.
Athletes from all over the world come to the Sport Science Lab in San Juan Capistrano, California to follow MacMillan's functionally-focused philosophy. "Humans never move in space in any sport with any load on them," he says. "Controlling your limbs at a high rate of speed is what leads to domination."
A typical MacMillan circuit follows a clear formula: An athlete will start with a ten-minute warm-up, usually on a bike or a strider, before transitioning into footwork and balance training. From there, he engages in a stretching-and-strengthening stage to increase mobility before entering an intensive core series. Sessions usually end with rigorous sprint work. It's a brutal and, according to MacMillan's growing roster of top athletes, effective circuit that doesn't break down the body like traditional strength training. Here is a sample circuit from MacMillan that you can try in the gym or at home.
Exercise Ball Leg Lifts
Lay on your back with the exercise ball between both feet. Squeeze the ball and lift it with your legs to roll back and touch it to the ground behind your head. "Fifteen times will kick your ass," says MacMillan. Alternatively you can roll the ball in a giant circle with your legs, passing it above your head, and then reversing the direction.