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.
"Muscles need to fire at a specific sequence and a specific time to produce the most force. All of our muscles wrap around the body, very few are in straight lines, and in this regard they need to be trained appropriately," says MacMillan. With knees bent and butt a couple inches from the floor, lean your back against an exercise ball. Hold 3-pound weights in each hand at chest level, palms facing upward. Extend your arms straight behind you and your legs at the same time, rolling backward over the ball. Arms should remain parallel with the floor. Reset to starting position, and then repeat.