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.
"When completing these exercises you notice that you clearly have done work, so there is a burn that you get. But we do that without beating the body up," says MacMillan. This exercise quickly produces that clean burn. Lay face down with your knees on the exercise ball. Your arms should be extended so that your hands touch the floor, shoulder-width apart. Begin movement by pushing into the ball with the tops of your feet, pulling your lower half forward, elevating your hips and drawing your straight arms in toward the ball. Form a V with your torso nearly vertical above your head. Return to the starting position. Repeat for ten reps.