In an unassuming building on El Camino Real, Nick Weiss is part of a small group trying to change the way we view training. Nothing fancy, but for him, fitness isn’t about flash—it’s about function.
When Dogfish Head Coach Justin Safdie asked player Nick Weiss to work up some track workouts for the team, he might not have known what he was getting the guys into. Weiss studied kinesiology in college, worked as a physical therapy aide after he graduated, and is now co-manager of PerformanceGaines in Palo Alto.
He runs the gym with two other trainers who focus on improving their clients’ mobility before having them jump into strength training. This ensures an athlete’s joints are stable and strong, reducing the risk of injury. It’s an idea that’s just now coming to college football and the NFL.
“People should train with a purpose,” Weiss said. He ensures this with a structured review of each client. He studies film to evaluate movement, measures strength, discusses health history, determines goals and learns about their support network. Equally important is confirming they’re mentally ready to make a change. Weiss sets three-month landmarks with retesting, and requires all of his clients to compete in something, whether it’s an event or an effort to beat a previous milestone.
For his Dogfish teammates, Weiss ditched the traditional track workout idea. “Most teams are working on getting to top speed early in the season,” he said. “They should be focusing more on aerobic energy systems, mobility and injury prevention.” To that end, Weiss incorporates a lot of animal movements into the workouts he designs, targeting muscles not normally used. His plan is to build up a base for the team over the next couple of months, then focus on jumping and sprinting.
Weiss offered his fellow Dogfish the same screening he gives to clients. “About a quarter of them have taken me up on it,” he laughed. He’s prepared programs for those stalwart souls, and the team as a whole has an online workout log to track their activities. “It’s a great way to commiserate over a particularly tough workout, but it also helps motivate you when you can see what the other guys are doing,” Weiss said.
When he’s not on the field, at the gym, rock climbing or jogging, Weiss likes to spend time with family, friends and his skateboarding bulldog, Winston. He also likes to read (George Orwell’s 1984 was a recent choice). But staying active–and helping others do the same–is rarely far from his mind.
“You should be doing things you like and having fun with it,” he stressed. “Injuries usually come from poor training or overtraining.” Ultimate players are usually guilty of the latter, Weiss notes, but he believes everyone can benefit from training with intent and adopting a mellower attitude about it. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or have a steady fitness regimen, Weiss advised, “Work on your mobility. With better mobility you’ll be able to acquire more power, more speed and more strength.”
Want to try a pro-level workout?
Run 800m (sub 3:15)
Rest 2-3 min
50-yard back pedal
50-yard side shuffle left
50-yard side shuffle right
(when side shuffling, keep your hips perpendicular to the direction you are shuffling, never cross your feet)
Rest 90 sec
Repeat 6x total
Run 800m (sub 3:15)
50-yard bear crawl
25-yard broad jump / 25 walk
30-second plank hold
Rest 90 sec
Repeat 4x total
Run 800m (sub 3:30)