Interviews / Personal Trainers

Balancing the Grind With Dr. John Rusin, Performance Physical Therapist

Dr. John Rusin is one of the fitness and sports performance industry’s leading experts in the pain-free performance training model.

His training model blends the world of strength and conditioning with clinical movement based diagnostic medicine to provide the ultimate results based methods, programming and practice for an impressively diverse demographic of elite athletes and general fitness clients.

Balance the Grind had the pleasure of talking with Dr. John Rusin to discuss his Functional Hypertrophy Training program, injury prevention & rehabilitation, biggest training takeaways and plenty more!

1) What was it about the health & fitness industry that attracted you in the first place?

I was brought up in a household that valued health and physicality. My father was an athletic director and my mother a university professor in the health sciences, so you can say that my chosen career path split both of those down the middle and synergized the two.

I was an athlete growing up, and even took baseball to a Division-1 level.  At that point I knew I loved to train, and I had a mind for it so I continued coaching, developing my education and aspiring to create client and athlete experiences centered on results from my unique offerings.

2) Your training program, Functional Hypertrophy Training, combines elements of bodybuilding, powerlifting, athletic performance and conditioning. What inspired you to create this program?

My FHT program was designed to represent the exact system of how I’ve trained, treated and managed my athletes and clients with a huge amount of success over the last decade.

I wanted to showcase all of the methods, the movements, the programming and the detail of what we’ve done for so long at a high level in a results based 12-week program that people could use to produce world-class results without getting hurt of burning out.

My methods are eclectic in nature, as I’m a big believer in a resilient athlete being well-rounded in many physical endeavors.

3) What was the program creation process like for Functional Hypertrophy Training? Was there a lot of tweaking as more information came in?

The initial FHT program was not released to the public, but rather beta-tested repeatedly with 10-15 athletes at a time. After the training blocks were done, we got feedback, find tuned and tweaked each and every detail to ensure that it was the best it could possibly be.

This is a process that is so important for any program, and one that often time gets overlooked.

Using the power of crunching data to objectively “guarantee” results as best as possible is what we did with FHT, and the results of the now thousands using this program and revolutionizing the way they train pain-free speaks for itself and the process we went through developing this type of training program.

4) As someone who specialises in injury prevention and rehabilitation, what are the most common mistakes you see people make that result in injuries?

Most injuries are totally preventable, especially in the gym. But many times people simply don’t execute exercises or movements in an ideal way to stay healthy and actually see great results. This lack of understanding the details of movement execution really holds people back.

That’s why I wrote 50,000+ words in the coaching notes and content of FHT to ensure that every single person who uses my program has the tools to review proper technique, form and execution to enhance the feel and function of the exercises.

Lets just say that a bench press isn’t just a bench press as written in some non-detail oriented program.

There is so much more that goes into programming an exercise including proper execution, the focus on what the intention is with the set, and the type of training response you should expect.

Results depend on aspiring to master movements and execute them the way they were designed to be done.

5) What does your current training program look like? What are your current fitness goals?

I practice what I peach, and have been using this FHT style of training for 5+ years. My goals are to look and feel my best, plain and simple.

But the “holy grail” of results is achieved through a well rounded approach that incorporates intelligent dynamic warm ups that clean up movement patterns and keep you mobile.

Smart strength and hypertrophy work that gets you stronger over time, but also enhanced muscle mass.

And of course, conditioning and cardio methods that enhance both fat-loss and recovery abilities. I expect to get the most out of my training in terms of results personally, and that’s why I continue to use FHT religiously.

6) In between all your work, how do you ensure that you find balance in your life?

It’s easy when you have two amazing kids. My wife and I work very hard with our athletes and clients, but we also know the power of being full time parents.

The thought that you can’t do it all is a myth, and we really strive to be world-class at everything we do, especially being role models for our kids and living a life that represents our values.

7) After all these years of training professional athletes all over the world, including Olympians, IronMan triathletes, NFL All-Pros and MLB All-Stars, what have been your biggest training takeaways and lessons?

The #1 goal for training athletes of any sport, or clients with any fitness goal is to keep them healthy so they can continue to make huge amounts of progress and drive results for a lifetime.

The name of the game is staying resilient against injuries and train smarter so you can train harder. Once you bulletproof your body, changes in your strength, your muscle, fat-loss or performance become that much easier.

8) If you had to choose one exercise to do for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Compound movements will always be king in my mind. It would be between the squat and the deadlift for me, training the squat and hip hinge patterns that are so important for fortifying a strong body.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.