Tell us about your methods of training Darren?
I focus on physically and mentally challenging the individual or entity
in front of me. Whether we're working on agility, balance, coordination,
endurance, flexibility, power, speed, or strength one needs to push
FRB: What is your training and background in
It's a continuous work-in-progress. Nevertheless, I began wrestling
at age 3, started a systematic weight training program at 8 (thanks
dad), won several national wrestling titles, and earned a silver medal
in world competition by 14. I wrestled at the University of Michigan
for just over a year, retired in 1992 and started focusing on exercise
physiology. I earned a BS in Kinesiology from Michigan in 1995 working
with professor Victor Katch and had the opportunity to work as an assistant
strength and conditioning coach for the athletic department. I retained
a position for about 5 years, learning from living legend Mike Gittleson.
I came to Colorado in 1999 to study neural control of human movement
with Roger Enoka and earned a MS in 2000 from CU.
FRB: How did you get into climbing Darren?
Darren: I've only been bouldering
for about 7 weeks. I watched people at the Spot and after a short time
decided to lace on some shoes. I'm hooked, since then I get in a minimum
of 2 days/week.
FRB: What brings you to the Spot?
Darren: The opportunity to get
in front of individuals who value health and understand the benefit
attained from the work I do.
FRB: What are some the unique challenges
Darren: Training is very personal
and relative to one's capacity, thus I try to systematically design
intervals of hard-work. For one individual it may be hanging from a
bar with a couple hundred pounds hanging from your waist, whereas another
may be using their fingers to walk up a sledge hammer.
FRB: How do you train for balance and strength?
Darren: I use a variety of unstable
surfaces such as soft mats and disks, BOSU balls, fit-balls, wobble-boards,
etc. and have people perform resistance exercises and plyometric exercises
FRB: What training programs do you offer?
Darren: I work with all types
of people. I do private sessions, group training, team training, senior
fitness and development, as well as corporate and hotel fitness programs.
My clients range in age from 15-75 years and range in background from
elite athletes, to wives and grandparents, to business executives. The
only caveat is that you've got to want to work hard.
FRB: How about nutrition. What do you suggest?
Darren: I suggest individuals consume a balanced diet
rife with proteins, fats, and carbohydrates and consume plenty of water.
It is important to consume enough calories to have energy to work hard
and perform optimally. Too often individuals restrict their caloric
intake levels, hindering performance and actually slow their resting
FRB: Resting and recovery are often overlooked.
Can you shed
some light on the subject?
Darren: Life is a Stress-Game.
Since humans are living organisms, time must be allowed for our systems
to adapt to particular stresses (a hard day climbing, training, etc.).
Otherwise one runs the risk of exhaustion or more commonly injury. For
a more detailed account of the stress response, refer to Hans Seyle's,
The Stress of Life, or give me call.
FRB: What do you suggest for people who want to
train at home?
Darren: Talk to a professional
in order to establish a solid foundation and understanding of what is
essential to achieve your goals and GO FOR IT!
FRB: What other sports are beneficial to the climber?
Darren: If you're competing
at an elite level, one should train sport specific year-round and complement
the routine with a balanced fitness regimen to prevent injury and increase
performance. Concerning more recreational climbers, try any sport that
interests you, but realize activities that enhance grip strength and
core muscles will probably be most beneficial.
FRB: Sports drinks, gels and nutrition bars.
Which do you
Darren: Eating properly and
consuming enough water are paramount! The majority of folks I train
use a water bottle as their primary supplement in order to replace fluid
lost during exercise. Athletes that will benefit most from drinks, gels,
and bars are endurance athletes who train for continuous intervals greater
than 1 hour at a time. In these cases a deeper understanding of the
glycemic value of foods is beneficial to keep blood sugar (insulin/glucose)
at optimal levels for performance. However, this topic merits a lengthy
FRB: How is your training philosophy different than
Darren: I believe in creating
functionally challenging environments to develop people in the real
world. I'm not really concerned if you can perform 3 sets of 12 pull-ups
assisted on the Gravitron if you can't pull-up your own bodyweight,
it's ludicrous. Commonly, exercises performed on fancy machinery provide
a false sense of strength.
FRB: What do you mean by functionally challenging?
Darren: I create situations
that demand the body to recruit as much of the neuromuscular system
as possible during any given movement. My rationale is based on the
fact that most movements encountered in our daily lives require the
brain to control various muscle groups in a coordinated manner throughout
the day, and we only get better at what we practice.
FRB: What types of athletes do you train?
Darren: I'm honored to work
with any athlete. True athleticism is a combination of genetics, determination,
and various physical abilities including; agility, balance, coordination,
endurance, flexibility, power, speed, strength, etc. and I strive to
elicit elements from all of the above in every session.
FRB: Why do you train people?
Darren: I enjoy educating and
challenging people, watching them develop and become stronger individuals
in many ways.
FRB: Your company is called Animal Strength.
Darren: We're all animals, right?
Perhaps at times we need to tap our innate abilities in order to push
ourselves beyond our currently accepted limits.
FRB: Describe an optimal resistance program?
Darren: I believe 2-3 days of
hard work/week is all that's necessary in order to yield positive muscular
adaptations. It's very important to allow time for rest and eat well
in order to improve. However, other modes of training can be cycled
into the program, appropriate to the individual's competitive schedule.
I still always have at least one complete rest day a week (I wish.)
FRB: Fast or Slow movements?
Darren: You should always vary
things because you adapt to specific stresses. Nevertheless, if one
wishes to optimize stress when strength training, a slower concentric
movement will place a greater demand on the working muscles. I use slow
eccentric movements primarily in negative only movements to prevent
injury, but there's no major benefit otherwise while lowering a constant
FRB: I've heard that you make people work extremely hard and sometimes
one may even feel sick?
Darren: That is never the desired
outcome, but I keep a bucket around just in case. Honestly, our bodies
are wired to tell us to give-up much before true physiological limits.
I just show people how to perform at safe levels beyond what they are
accustomed to, and over time we adapt.
FRB: Thanks for the interview Darren?
Darren: Thank you.
Contact Darren at: email@example.com