Sunday, December 31, 2006

Want vs. Need

Mean what you say and say what you mean...

I am not a - define what "is" means- kind of guy - We all know what is means and we all know what "alone" means! So I certainly feel that we as a people have a common language that we can agree upon and use effectively. When people want to argue over meanings and interpretations it usually means 1) you didn't really understand what was being said, 2) you said or did something that you got caught on and you are looking for a way out, 3) it is a compensation strategy.

Numbers 1 and 2 are pretty easy to understand - #3 can be a bit interesting. A compensations strategy - what do I mean by that. What I mean is when you are not willing to agree upon definitions and meanings you are afraid of committing to an idea and are afraid of being wrong.

Being afraid of committing to an idea or definition will lead you into the trap of not standing for anything because everyone is right in some certain way so how could we possibly have absolute answers. Well - because we do. My absolutes for personal issues that relate to my individual experiences and perspective are not what I am really focusing on here - although you must be willing to make decisions and absolutes for yourself or you are rudderless and easily lost or lead astray. At the same time you must also be willing to admit that your absolutes relate to you and may not transfer to others. And you must be willing to be wrong and admit being so when confronted by the appropriate evidence.

So if we are agreeing upon ideas and definitions (think flat vs. round) we must be willing to take a stance and be willing to be wrong and admit such when confronted with the evidence. Is means Is.

What does this have to do with Want vs. Need in a fitness perspective- Want means want and Need means need.
A want is something you desire - deadlift_______, Bench_______, perform x number of pull-ups, etc...
A need is something you should do for yourself that may not exactly be a want. These are the things we should do but find reasons not to because it isn't - "fun or exciting or something that you are good at doing."

Equivocating over meanings to avoid central issues is how people avoid addressing negative patterns of behavior. We as human beings can rationalize ourselves into anything.

So - Know your wants and your needs and then create the "need" for them to be fulfilled.

And here is where things can get confusing - Did you all see the alternate definition to "need" ? Need has more that one meaning - need as a concept/desire - and need as something you need - like air.

But since we all knew that - we can agree upon both meanings and life goes on!

And on a lighter note - HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Another side of Need...

What do you need to "work on"? Most every trainee will work on what they want - not what they need. And what most people need is to address their weaknesses.

So I will list some common needs that most people igonore.

Need #1 - Some sort of reliable screening process to assess asymmetries and restrictions.
Mechanics have "screening" procedures they use to "assess" your vehicle, Eye doctors, Dentists, Othopedics, etc... all have screening procedures they use to assess you. Why not approach your training the same way. Your body will be very good at hiding certain restrictions and asymmetries so you need a screening process to find these and a strategy to address them.
My two recommendations - The Functional Movement Screen and Athletic Body in Balance by Gray Cook and Z-health by Dr. Cobb.

Need #2 - Some sort of mobility/flexibility strategy. Face it - you don't stretch enough and you can't move with freedom and ease. The goal of training should be to be a more efficient animal. And that means being able to move well.
My recommendations - Yoga!, Super Joints by Pavel, Relax Into Stretch by Pavel, Strength Stretching by Pavel, Steve Maxwell's Joint Mobility DVD, and again Z-health by Dr. Cobb.

Need #3 - Breath work. Unless you are currently working on your breathing you need to be working on it. Pranayama is the yoga term for breath work and it should be an integral part of your routine.
My recommendation - Yoga that focuses on breathing, Tai Chi, Qiqong are top of the list.

Need #4 - Strength work that is focused on addressing your weaknesses. Based off of your screening you should be able to indentify your areas of weakness - work on them! It may not be cool to do a single leg deadlift with a reactive neuromuscular valgus stress but it will strengthen your glute medius. Achieving thoracic mobility could be the answer to many shoulder problems. There are many examples of "rehabish" type of exercises that you probably "need" to be doing.
My recommendation - Go to and look at the Corrective exercise DVDs by Gray Cook, also the Secrets of the Shoulder DVD by Gray Cook and Brett Jones.

"A chain is only as strong as it's weakest link" - or " the weakest link rules the chain" - What you need to be working on is your weakest link.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Need - What is it and how does it effect our goals?

According to - need is defined as:
1. a requirement, necessary duty, or obligation
2. a lack of something wanted or deemed necessary
3. urgent want
4. necessity arising from the circumstances of a situation or case
5. a situation or time of difficulty
6. a condition marked by the lack of something requisite
7. destitution; extreme poverty
8. to have need of; require
9. to be under an obligation
10. to be in need or want
11. to be necessary

Take a moment and see if any of your goals could fulfill one of these definitions.

There is also Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - a very important psychological/behavorial perspective on the concept of needs:
Listed from most basic to highest level:
1) Physical survival needs - water, food, sleep, exercise...
2) Need for Safety and Security - physical, economic, comfort, peace
3) Social Needs - belonging, acceptance
4) Need for Self Esteem - recognition of strength, intelligence etc...
5) Need for Self Actualization - challenging projects

Maslow lists exercise as one of the basic needs - basic meaning until that level of need is fulfilled the other needs are of lesser importance or even that they are unable to be meet because of lack at the basic level.

So - if exercise is one of the basic needs as defined by Maslow and you were unable to find your goals a "home" under the definitions listed - do not wonder why your goal has been elusive.

So how do we create need? How do we shift from a want to a need?

The goal has to reach a level of personal significance that only you can know and/or change. Smokers will sometimes only quit when confronted with death from their habit. Others will quit because it has effected them socially (see Maslow's heirarchy), and still others will not quit regardeless of the consequences. So how a need like exercise fits into the equation can be a tricky area of investigation.

I can lay out for you the physical benefits and the psychological benefits (walking around strong) and even go beyond into more Eastern philosophy (movment of breath and energy) and it may trigger a "need response" or it may fall on the proverbial "deaf ears". Only you will know.

Where does motivation fall when needs are not being met or addressed? It isn't even on the heirarchy of needs if that helps put it in perspective. So if you are lacking in some basic needs how can you expect to be "motivated". (Sorry for the quick aside here but I figured someone would be wonder where this falls in the equation)

So - until your Needs are being met - your need for your goals will probably be lacking. Once your Needs are being met - your goals need to be come a need.
And all of that is inside you - I (and other exercsie professionals) can guide and assist - but we cannot generate need within you - only you can do that.

As we close out the year and begin a new one - take some time and introspection and try to define your hierarchy of needs and find a "home" for your goals as a definable need and see where it takes you in the new year.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

One holiday down - One to go...

New Years is around the corner and you know what that means - New Years Resolutions and a much more crowded gym! (For about 4-6 weeks that is...)

Have you made a "New Years Resolution" ever - or at least in the past few years?
I know I haven't - my goals are set and in motion long before and long after New Years.

Now - If New Years is the trigger for change - so be it - embrace it and run with it!
But if the gym is any indication of New Years as a "trigger for change" - the change is short lived. Why is this?

Why are the gyms crowded for a few weeks and then you are back to the same crowd of regulars? (Maybe a couple of new additions but a net of zero more than likely)

Why? Undefined goals and a lack of need

Undefined goals - Getting in shape is not a goal - It is an idea.
An idea is a starting point not a goal. Getting in shape - what does that mean?
Round is a shape - as the joke goes so it fits with the "goal" of getting in shape.
In shape for what? For sitting watching TV - well I would argue that most people are already well "trained" for that.
So if we are going to be serious about "getting in shape" - we will need to be far more specific.
Imagine running a business where you goal was to "make money". Great idea but a bit short from goals you can actually work with.

A lack of need - There has to a personal level of signifcance reached before change can occur. Want to - is a reason for visiting a store or a restraunt or buying a pair of shoes. Most people never make it past want to. Need to is a whole other level of significance. Need to is the difference between success and failure.
I will be expanding on this tomorrow but lets just close with the idea that need can be created and used.

So as we approach this new year - do you have any goals you are looking to make into "New Years Resolutions"? If so - Is the goal definable beyond an idea and is there a Need for this goal to come to fruition?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Another Holiday Season...

Yet another Holiday Season is upon us and people will be celebrating in their own ways as we bring an end to this year and begin another. I wish everyone a very Happy Holiday Season!

A year in review next week but for now just a bit of stuff from my holiday soaked mind...

Training through the holidays - You simply have to do it. And you have to respect the holiday and time with your family.
Don't expect perfection this time of the year - but do expect consistency.

Diet during this time of the year - Realistic is the word of the season. Your grandmother (insert any family tradition) bakes her famous pie and you are probably going to end up having a piece (or two). Have them - Enjoy them - and tomorrow hop right back on the consistency train and don't worry about it. We are a result of our habits - one meal doesn't make a habit unless you let it.

Eat well - Laugh Often - and Enjoy the Season.

No blog tomorrow as I plan on enjoying celebrating Christmas Day. I wish you all a great day!

Friday, December 22, 2006

What is strong?

Yesterdays blog referenced the idea of "walking around strong." Which begs the question - What is strong?

Is it the strongman competitor, the powerlifter, the olympic lifter, the dancer (ballet or modern), the climber, the kettlebell trainee, the martial artist? Yes and more...far too many to list.

Strong is more than physical and can be displayed in many ways.

The parent(s) - single or married - that works two jobs and sacrifices everyday for their children displays strength everyday. Sacrificing and succeeding are just other forms of "walking around strong."

It is easy to lured into feeling that if you achieve __________ (fill in the blank - 400# bench etc...) then you have become strong. And while it is true that through the physical we can achieve and demonstrate a great amount - it is not the end all be all. Choosing to build and develop strength in the weight room can be an avenue to greater confidence and success but it does not mean everything. I love physical strength but I have much greater strength within me (my mind, my heart, etc...).

It is the struggle that reveals - it is the struggle that defines - it is the struggle - not the numbers. Physical struggle allows us to learn a great deal about ourselves. The early Greeks were believers in "know thyself" and the physical was one of the avenues they pursed in that struggle to "know theyself".

A quick aside - were you aware that Socrates was a warrior? He fought in my battles as a philosopher/warrior. He had the scars to prove it and the physical strength from the battles. He fought in the Peloponnesian War both along side and against Alcibiades. Just in case you thought all philosophers sat in coffee shops sipping lates'.

I feel that physical strength should be a way towards greater confidence - Hence the "walking around strong" lable for reaching a point of physical strength that aides in mental confidence. But this is not dependent upon reaching a level of gym strength - while this is one way to reach strength - it is not the only way.

So - I ask again - do you walk around strong?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Squat cycle Day 2 and "Walking around strong"...

Day 2 of the squat cycle - 5 sets of 5 reps at 315# and despite being quite sore from tuesday I hit all the sets easily and feel better after the fact. I am wearing a loose belt for my sets and trying to hit below PL depth for all the reps. This is the base building phase of the cycle and things will start to get tougher as the weeks go by. Good thing is the cycle is only 5 weeks long so the pain is brief.

"Walking around Strong..." This is a phrase we have used from time to time to describe how it feels to possess a confidence building level of strength. I was recently talking to a friend who has made some great progress over the last 6 months (more that in the previous years of training- thanks to KBs and PTP) and he was saying how much more confident he feels now that he is stronger. Cardio does not build this confidence - Strength builds this type of confidence.

This does not mean a cocky or flashy demeanor - This does not mean bragging or "using" your strength to intimidate - This should not have any negative meanings - although some will take it this way.

"Walking around strong" is an inner strength and confidence in your body and your self that allows you to be more relaxed and more confident. In our cores we know we want and need to be strong. It wasn't that long ago that we truly needed, respected and worked for this type of strength - physical labor used to develop it, hunting and gathering used to develop it but now we are reduced to a level of ease (for some not all) that allows us to be weak.

And weakness breeds insecurity.
Dogs on leashes are a perfect example - once on a leash a dog will be aggressive and mean because it realizes that it's ability to defend itself and it's owner is limited by the restraint of the leash. Once off the leash the dog is relaxed and more likely to be friendly because it knows all its strength is available to it off the leash.

We are not so different. We realize that if we are weak we must put on a front of aggressiveness and hope that no one calls the bluff. This is not true strength - it is weakness in action.

Walking around strong is to walk around with a quite confidence that allows you to help others. I have had the honor of meeting, training with and talking to some of the strongest people in the world and they are some of the nicest, calmest, and best people you would want to meet.

Unfortunately - there have been those that have been perceived as strong that have used their "strength" for "bad" reasons - intimidation, bullying, "power", etc... and now strong can have a negative meaning for people. But true strength is a well of calm and an ability to conquer challenges - not with bragging but with quite purposefulness.

And strength comes in many different forms - and that will be tomorrow's blog.

For now - Can you say that you "Walk around Strong"?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Card tearing and the start of a squat cycle...

Surprisingly my card tearing is improving slightly - I can now quarter a deck - even some very hard decks that Kevin Perrone had sent me from North Carolina. Not sure what to attribute this to since I haven't worked on it and haven't hit the grip too much in recent months. Could be just a bump from my heavy training and squatting. Whatever it is - I'll take it.

Started the pre-RSR cycle for my squat today - this can be found in the articles section of my website under the Programming for the Deadlift article. Today was 5 sets of 3 reps at 70% - I am working off of a 450 projected max so it was 315# today.
And I am going to be sore!

Feels good to have the AAU meet out of the way and to be able to put some time into my squat.

Not much else to report at the moment - the fun continues and Christmas is approaching!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Coming back from an injury...

If you suffered through reading the other posts on injuries then it is time to bring it together with discussion of how to return to activity after an injury has occurred.

First and foremost - Re-read the the other posts - Recognize that an injury has occurred and do what you need to to deal with it. This section of this line of thought assumes that you stopped as soon as you recognized a problem or injury occurred. You applied the appropriate first treatment steps (Ice, Rest, etc...) and that you followed up with your health care professional (Dr., Chiro, PT, etc...). And most importantly assumes that you followed the advice/directions given by said health care professional.

So returning to activity assumes all of these things and that you are "finished" with any pain and/or rehab. Don't become one of those people complaining of a "bad" shoulder that they injured 5 years ago and just thought it would get better and don't fall victim to the recurring injury or the "it's just going to hurt" mindset - all of these are the path to joint replacements and loss of function.

So you are pain free and have clearance from your health care professional - What now?

Do NOT jump back in to your previous program!! If you sustained a non-contact injury then you have an underlying restriction or asymmetry to address. Hopefully you were screened for this and had this addressed during your rehab/recovery time. If not you will need to get screened and address the restriction or asymmetry.

After that - What to do?

If it was a lower body injury - you should be able to deep squat, toe touch, single leg stance and single leg hop for reps as a minimum to returning to activity.

If it was an upper body injury - you should have full overhead movement of the arm, be able to perform planks (on elbows and straight arms), be able to perform a push-up, renegade row, and finally a clapping push-up.

If any of these produce pain or symptoms - you are not ready to go back to your previous routine and you need to re-evaluate your injury and begin again.

Once you can pass the above recommendations:

Start slowly and lowly - Reduce weight, sets, reps and everything to a nice low starting level. After my back surgery my recovery looked something like this - First 4 weeks - walking, Second 4 weeks - bodyweight exercises (push-ups, pull-ups etc...), Third 4 weeks - light Kettlebell swings and other KB drills, followed by a nice gradual progression back to my previous workloads.

Any of the above information is not intended to replace any medical advice or treatment - Always consult your physician regarding an exercise program or changes to your exercise program.

Train hard, Train Safe

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Back from the AAU meet in Las Vegas...

A pretty good weekend - This was the AAU World Push/Pull and single lift meet - (bench press and deadlift).
So straight to the results:
I competed deadlift only in the Sub-master Raw and Open Raw - pulling 540 for my second and missing 552 for a third - I believe I received 1st place in both those categories.

There was some fine lifting on Saturday and it was a good meet. 198's and up lifted today so someone else will have to report on how that went.

My training was very inconsistent leading up to the meet and I am very pleased with a 5 pound PR and a win. Marty Gallagher also gave my form a thumbs up so I am very pleased about that - it was great to get to spend some time with Marty. He is a wealth of knowledge and has some great stories.

Funny moment of the weekend was me having to do an hour and a half of cardio because the 1st scale I stepped on had me 1.5 pounds heavy - then after an hour and a half of recumbent bike and treadmill I was over 4 pounds under on a different scale.
Oh the horror, the horror, the horror of the cardio!!!!! ;)

I will pick a full meet for around end of March or April - and find out where I am in relation to my goal of raw elite.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Off to Las Vegas to compete in the AAU meet...

I leave tomorrow for Las Vegas and compete on Saturday so I will not be posting a blog until Sunday when I report the results etc...

Have fun till then...
If you do end up injured...

Due to competition or an unpredicted situation you end up injured - What to do?

The ideal is to not create a situation where this will happen as noted in yesterdays blog - but since I know some of you will end up in a contact situation where getting injured is not "preventable" and others of you will not stop pushing to the limit - so here is my advice.

Stop before things get bad!
In kettlebell training for example you can tear your hands during extended sets of snatches. And having a callous tear can put your KB training on hold for a while. But if you feel your hand starting to tingle or feel that blister coming on you have the opportunity to stop and prevent the injury. Don't waste it and wish later that you had - if this means not hitting the "goal" for the day - so be it. You will at least live to train another day.

If it happens during competition or training - stop what you are doing. As an athletic trainer I spent a great deal of time evaluating and rehabbing injuries and a good percentage of the time it was something that started small and then "pop" ended up serious. Whether the athlete or individual felt it coming on gradually over a few days or whether is came on gradually over the course of a workout - there were warning signs that were ignored (see above). Then when the injury occurs you must stop and take yourself out of training or competition.

Get evaluated by an Athletic Trainer, Sports Physical Therapist, Doctor, or Chiropractor - basically - get checked out by your Dr. or another allied health care professional. This is like making sure you get your car looked at by a mechanic. You want the right person for the job.

Some form of Ice, Compression and elevation should be applied - other things like gentle stretching and "keeping the area moving" are to be used with professional advice - but if it hurts - don't do it in the initial stages of an injury.

Let's say that again - in the initial stages of an injury - if it hurts don't do it.

Once you know what the injury is and have been evaluated and followed the professional advice - and applied your treatment (ice etc...) - How do you know how and when to come back into training and competition?

That is next weeks blog...

But the huge take home message here is to prevent when possible, listen to your body and Stop when you can to prevent or lessen an injury, Get a professional evaluation and apply the appropriate treatment.

People make the biggest mistakes by not stopping, not getting evaluated and not treating the area injured - so don't be like that. Do what you need to to get taken care of - it will speed your recovery time and get you back in action.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A word on injuries...

They shouldn't happen in training!
Mike Boyle of - who is one of the premier presenters for Perform Better and a great strength coach - got himself a huge number of negative responses when he made this statement in an article on


What about that statement could produce such ire and negativity? Do people really expect to get injured through training?

The answer - sadly - is yes. "If you push hard enough you are going to get injured" - goes the response. "Being afraid of getting injured will keep you weak and not progressing because you won't push hard enough" - goes another. So trainees push and struggle and when injuries happen - it is just a part of what they are trying to do. Not so - or at least it shouldn't be.

Now I will be the first to say that - yes, I have injured myself training - but that was when I was younger and not so wise. ;)
Seriously - it happened and I learned from it.

There are very few instances where you are getting paid to lift - and only the sports that are actually contested with a barbell can even accept the fact that they may get injured due to training (because it is all they do) - But athletes and people trying to get and/or stay fit have no reason to get injured doing something that is supposed to be improving their lives.

Athletes get paid to be on their field of competition - not be on the sideline because of a training injury - an injury should only come from competition for an athlete.

General fitness trainees - no injuries should be the goal - and if that means a lower 1rm or a couple fewer reps - so be it.

This is also where a balanced training approach comes into play - mobility, flexibility and screening for asymmetries should be a part of your routine.

So no injuries - allow yourself that much.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

When life hands you lemons...

Learn to make Lemonade.

Challenges come in all shapes and forms - could be an injury, travel, family "issues", work, and on down the negative scale. But let's take injury as an example.

When I was driving out to San Diego just over 2 years ago I injured my knee while flipping a tire -my foot slipped a bit on some grass and my knee hyperextended (i think) - end result - a knee like a grapefruit and I couldn't deep squat for the better part of 6 months. So what's a guy to do?

Hit the Grip!

During this time my grip training took center stage and I benefited greatly. I reached the point of being able to close the #3 gripper (with a set), hub lift 45# plates and my block weight lifting was going well (42.5# or 45# block was my best). So I could have lamented the fact that I couldn't do much else or I could get to work - I got to work.

Funny thing is when I did go back to training I was strong and snappy with my Kettlebell lifts due to all the high tension techniques used in the grip work. And I had stronger hands and stronger hands mean a stronger body!

Another example - When I had back surgery (L5-S1 laminectomy) back in 2003 and was restricted from doing just about anything but walking I came out of 4 weeks of restricted activity leaner than when I started. Because I recognized the challenge and focused on my diet. I basically used the Warrior Diet (available through - click the link on my products page) and felt great and got leaner rather than heavier. Lemons can equal lemonade!

Obstacles and challenges are opportunities if you are open to them.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Yoga weekend and a day of training...

Completed a weekend of yoga training this past weekend and really enjoyed it. I will certainly be developing my personal practice and can feel my hips are much improved and I am feeling great after the training.

Finally hit the gym today - DL felt good - I did hit a single at 505 just a confidence booster going into the contest this weekend. Which means I will be traveling this Friday - Weigh in Friday night and lift on Saturday. Then the Red Eye back to Pittsburgh (arriving Sunday morning!).

I will post a blog of actual significance tomorrow! My apologies for falling behind and having some self indulgent posts but life happens.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A little bit of yoga today...

As a tune up for what will be a long weekend of yoga I was able to slip into a class today. I find yoga to be an excellent part of my fitness routine. Today in class I felt very good with my breath and was holding poses better than the last time I was in a class.

Focusing on the breath and being able to "relax" into the poses makes it a very different part of my routine - which is usually very heavy and stressful. Might just find some balance if I'm not careful.

One caveat here is that you will need an experienced teacher and someone that is willing to modify the poses to fit the individual. I have an issue with some of the cross-legged poses due to some knee issues but with the right modification it works out quite well.

So find an experienced teacher who can individualize your practice and strike a pose.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Doing better...

Better diet but training has been low

Due to the travel as noted and feeling burned from lack of sleep and "work" and I had ended up feeling off my game. But I have turned the diet around with very low sugar and good veggies and protein. I do feel better and should be on target for the 181 weight class next week.

Dietary tip for those with a sweet tooth - Dark Chocolate mini's from Hershey's - or any mini dark chocolate - this allows me to have a bite of something sweet to "end" a meal but doesn't overload the system. And they are packed with antioxidants. ;)

Training - Travel and fatigue has put the brakes on my training but I am feeling pretty good. I will post another time on some experiementation with orthotics I have been doing on myself but an orthotic switch seems to have taken some stress off of my right hip and I am feeling "looser".

Otherwise - I am headed for a yogafit workshop this weekend and am looking forward to the looks on the instructors faces when the "stiff muscle bound guy" comes into class.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Did some bending and discovered a new grip tool...

IMTUG - Iron Mind Tune Up Grippers are mini grippers meant to be used with either individual fingers, Index + Middle or Ring + Pinky - and you can work your thumb with some pinch gripping.

I had seen the IMTUGs before and not thought much of them but had the chance to play around with one this weekend and I like it. Turned out to feel great working fingers in the variety of ways you can hit them with these little grippers. So much so that I ordered a couple for myself today - I know Christmas is coming but I couldn't help myself!

Also over the weekend I hit a couple of bends - just for giggles - 2 x 60d nails and a Red nail - even though I haven't bent with any consistency in quite some time and hadn't bent any since the October RKC it still felt good to bend a bit. One thing that does get a bit worse is the pressure and pain in the hands - with practice you become "numb" to the pain and pressure but only bending every so often it is brand new pain every time! Fun!

So - What are you doing for your grip?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Another travel story...

Lost luggage, delays and a crazy trip...

I started this current round of travel on Friday - my 3:30pm flight was cancelled and I was bumped to an 8:40pm flight - made the mistake of checking my bag early in the day and it ended up getting lost (more on that later). When I got to the airport for the 8:40 flight I come to find out it is now 10pm (which ended up being 10:45pm). And instead of flying into Newark, NJ I had to fly into New York LaGuardia (sp?) airport. After landing I find out that my luggage never left Pittsburgh and I am faced with a $120 cab ride to Newark and finally get into the hotel around 2:30AM.

4 hours of sleep and Saturday was a full day of assisting at a Perform-Better seminar in Newark, NJ. Literally run from the seminar to the car and race to make our flight to Orlando, FL. At this time I am still trying to get my luggage and making phone calls to the airline while racing through security etc... Well - that flight from Newark to Orlando (by way of Miami) was delayed and it ends up being another 2AM+ night before we get to the hotel.

Another 4-5 hours of sleep and up again on Sunday to assist at a presentation for the MLB Strength Coaches - after that I finally get my luggage after 4pm.

So no internet and nothing but racing from city to city to seminar to seminar! My apologies for not being able to blog and make other communication with the outside world but just surviving the last couple of days has occupied most of my time.

On a bright note Gray Cook and I have released our Secrets of the Shoulder 2-DVD set (perform better will be carrying it) and it went over VERY well at the Perform Better seminar. And Gray and I are outlining 2-3 more projects!

Travel is crazy - and to be honest with as much as I travel this has been really my first "challenging" trip. Knock on wood!

Back to the "Burgh on Tuesday and some form of a normal schedule.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Bench press observations from yesterday...

A current necessary evil/guilty pleasure in my routine at the moment is the bench press. It is a necessary evil because of my powerlifting. And it is a guilty pleasure because I do like to bench although it can be a pointless ego lift overused and abused in the general training world.

In my training yesterday it was a light bench day so I decided to take my grip out to having my index finger on the ring - I normally bench with the pinkie finger on the ring. Couple of things I discovered during my sets: 1. I had a straight drive to the top with a shorter stroke. 2. I was able to lock in my scapulae and stay stable. 3. It is going to take some work to make this my benching groove.

Bench press technique has evolved and it is anything but laying down and pushing. Foot position and being able to drive from the feet and involve the legs is vital. The arch in the back with scapulae pinched and close to the butt provides a solid base to press from. Pulling the bar down low on the chest and trying to bring the chest to the bar at the same time provides a great load and pre-tensing to the pressing muscles. The pause is a powerlifting necessity but also builds the ability to hold tension and transfer strength. A solid drive to the top and a successful press will be the reward for bringing these aspects of the bench together.

Shoulders and the bench - Bench pressing can and has on many occassions ruined shoulders. Poor technique and high volume are the main culprits in my opinion. If the elbows flair and/or the scapulae move during the bench you need to stop and reset. Continuing to bench when the scapulae have moved up and forward will damage your shoulders. This is one of the reasons to not go over 5 reps and even stay to 3 and under. This ties into volume. Even if technique is optimal you are still producing and supporting large loads in the shoulders and there is a limit to what you can take in these areas.

If you don't know or haven't seen solid powerlifting bench press technique - do yourself a favor and spend some time investigating it if you are going to bench.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Something significant to say...

Sit down and make sure you are safe when you read this...

I have not been practicing what I preach!

I'll give you a moment to collect yourself and decide whether or not you want to continue reading.

If you have visited the Applied Strength home page and seen the logo and read about what it means - then you will understand that I believe in a balanced approach to fitness that includes: Power, Endurance, Flexibility, Movement/mobility and a center of Strength. Now I have been doing a great job on the strength end of things (a look at my training log on will show this). However, I have not been doing a good job on the other aspects of the method. And to add to that I have let the transition to a new home and new "routine" take far longer than it ever should have.

There is a thought out there in the world that trainers are somehow different from everyone else. I cannot count the number of times I have had people say things like: "You can eat anything you want." Or many other of the "this doesn't apply to you" comments. Au Contraire!

If anything trainers (speaking for myself) are able to identify what their clients should be doing because we/I have made the mistake(s) MANY times myself. For those of you new to the blog I wrote previously about having a 40' waist. (check the archives if interested) And if I continue on my current path I could have one again!

As I have also written - The only day you have to make a change is today! So I am establishing a new "routine" today!

Issues to address:
Water intake: Horrible at the moment- I am going to buy a nalgene bottle for work and correct this now. I think this explains a good deal of ending up over trained - that along with the next issue.

Nutrition/Dietary habits: Horrible at the moment - In the process of moving and working at multiple things at once I have fallen down on my eating plan. Too much sugar, caffine and crappy convenience meals - No more - I am buying a blender for protien shakes and going to the store for veggies and meat. Your habits will determine you outcomes and your lifestyle and habits are choices. I can get away with crappy eating for a time - but then it catches up with you like a wave and crashes on you - Well - I got caught and crashed upon.

Flexibility/Mobility: While in California I had been teaching between 2-5 classes a day and doing joint mobility and flexibility with all of them. That came to a screeching halt when I moved - and it actually felt good to back down from that volume of mobility work but that time has passed and it is time to return to a good level of it. I am actually going to a YogaFit workshop in a couple of weeks and will be incorporating Yoga into the mix.

Endurance and Power - I have not been training with my KBs! There I said it! So 15 minutes or so a day will be dedicated to Get-ups and Swings.

Strength - I was doing great here - just need to balance the rest of it and this will continue along just fine.

So there - Now it is out in a public (very public) way and I have admitted my human flaws it is up to me to address them and continue.

Oh and I have a "bet" with a friend that I have not forgotten about - Terrance Thomas - you know what I am talking about!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Internet connection, sleep, nutrition and being on the road...

A very quick trip out to San Diego - left Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon and returned around 9pm on Tuesday night - the details of what I was doing on this trip will be revealed in a future blog but will be of great interest to golfers. ;)

So I got in late Sunday and had an appointment early so there was no time to get on the internet. Then when I did have time it was a pay for surfing place and I couldn't get it to accept my payment so no surfing the net. Amazing that I was unable to get on the net! So no blogs over the next few days. Sorry!

Sleep, Nutrition and being on the road...

5 hours sleep on Sunday night - 6 on Monday - 6 on Tuesday - Not the numbers I am looking for! This has a big effect on the body and mind overall and is why I am not coming up with anything spectacular for the blog today - I can literally feel myself getting a bit dumber as I lack sleep. Do as I say not as I am doing!

Nutrition - I didn't eat poorly during my trip - Asian fusion style cooking and seafood that is great to get in Southern California - but I ate differently than I had been. This always throws my system for a loop and makes life difficult for a few days afterward. Our bodies like routine and life has not been recently.

Travel - At this point a necessary evil that I enjoy because of the work and opportunities it brings - and I don't enjoy because of the sleep, nutrition and "routine" issues it brings up. Such is life! Well enough whining and sleep deprived ramblings!
More actual information tomorrow.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Getting Psyched!!!

Do you try to get yourself worked up and psyched up for a lift during training?
If this is for anything other than a new Personal Best in the gym or on the platform for competition - you are confusing training with competing!
Why are you getting psyched up for your work sets?

I have had some great conversations with Mark Rifkeind ( a Senior Russian Kettlebell Instructor and someone very knowledgeable about Westside Barbell training methods - Mark has told me many times that the "max" effort days in the Westside method are to be done with out any psychological arousal (no psyching). This is an important part of the method for a couple of reasons.

First - when you create a high level of psychological arousal you dump adrenaline into the system and try to take advantage of the fight or flight response to increase your strength. This cascade of adrenaline and the physiological responses that follow might provide a temporary boost but have a downside as well. Your adrenals are under a pretty constant load just from the stress of life, and nutrition (sugar, alcohol and caffine overload your adrenals) and now you want that system to provide you with a strength boost just because you want to really hit a big set. This can overload the system and reduce the impact of "psyching" when you really do need it.

Second - if you can approach your training with a worker's attitude and treat your sets as just another set - but you are producing new personal bests - What do you think you will be able to do when you do get a boost from your psyching?
You might actually get that PR on the platform.

Training is training. Competition is competition. Try not to psych up for your training sets. You can have a consistent pre-set routine but for anything short of a personal best or competition lift - don't try to psych up.

Friday, November 24, 2006

How far to push and what is a comfortable stop??

What does this mean? How hard should I push on my conditioning? And a "comfortable stop" - Pavel uses this as a recommendation for the conditioning portion of the programs in Enter the Kettlebell and has been the source of some confusion. So what is a comfortable stop and how far should I be going for my conditioning?

First - What are your goals? and What is your training age? and What is your medical and injury history?
Until you answer these questions - do not pass go - do not collect $200.
So in determining how hard to push you must first address where you are starting from and where you want to end up.
If you are a general trainee you will have a different set up from a hard core military trainee who needs to know how far his body will go before it breaks or he loses effectiveness. Individuals will fall across a broad spectrum of goals and needs - far too many for a blog to cover (well - maybe in time). So be sure you address this and then make sure your training reflects these needs.

Second - What is a comfortable stop? In strength training we can find that "failure" point and know that a comfortable stop would have been a 2-3 reps prior to that. In conditioning this can be a harder thing to define. But I take a comfortable stop to mean that you have reached a steady state of effort that you could maintain but you choose to save it for the next set or next day. If you reach a point of questioning whether you are going to complete the next KB snatch or interval around the track - you went too far. Pavel has a quote in Power to the People -"After your training you should feel ready to battle for the kingdom!" And while meant more for the strength workout (although strength training was the form of conditioning of the day that this quote comes from) I think it applies well to the general trainee.

After your training you should recover well and feel ready to do battle! If you find your training leaving you destroyed and weak and beat for hours afterward or even into the next day - it is too much. Not that it isn't useful to find your limits every now and then. And for the hard core MMA, Ultimate fighter, wrestler, military trainee it can be essential that these people find the raged edge and then recover from it.
A firefighter that is in the habit of finding his maximum level of effort may find him/herself too exhausted to perform the duties necessary to save lives - Not good.

Rotate your effort and intensity and accept that you are supposed to have easy days. Maxing out and finding your limits has its place but not frequently.
Getting basic with some great information...

Thomas Furman of Physical Strategies has been coming out with some great blogs recently on very basic but very effective strength training programs - check out his blog...

An article about Hugh Cassidy really peaked my interest - Hugh has a very simple template for improving the Squat, Bench and deadlift - Squat and bench 5 sets of 3 reps working to a peak or PR followed by 3 sets of 5 at a lighter weight - an even more abbreviated routine for the deadlift two sets of 8 reps then one set of 5 reps and one set of 3 reps. Wrap it up with some hyperextensions for 3 sets of 20 reps. Check out for the complete article.

This was an article from 1974 and he advocates a simplified routine twice per week making sure to make long term progress and not progressing too fast. And if you start to get a bit stale you throw in a variety sets and reps for a couple of weeks and then back to the basic template. Hugh himself hit lifts of 800 Squat, 570 Bench, and 790 Dead-lift and was mentor to Marty Gallahger so the results speak for themselves.

Great stuff from Tom and a great look at old school strength routines.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

A day to be thankful and enjoy friends, family and some good food.

Gathering together with friends and family is always a special occasion (or can/should be) - and on this holiday when we are to reflect on what we are thankful for in our lives it is even more so.

I am thankful this year for a successful transition to Pittsburgh and many other things I don't "blog" about. What are you thankful for?

Today - enjoy the day - eat well and laugh often.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A great article to check out:

Lats: Not just for pulldowns by Eric Cressey

A great look at the many functions and importance of the lats. I would have like to have seen more on Eric's thoughts on the importance of the lats in the overhead press but he hits the bench well.

Your back (posterior chain) is what performs well - Your front is what looks good in a mirror!
Grunting and noise in the gym...

See the NY Times story below on a Wappingers Falls, N.Y. man who had his Planet Fitness membership revoked for grunting during his workout:

It says during the story that he was using about 500 pounds "across his back" (I will take that to mean he was squatting!) And while lifting an employee informed him that he was breaking one of their rules - grunting - when he told her he was just breathing heavy he was told to come up front - his membership was being revoked. The story goes on to describe how they have a siren and flashing light that goes off when this rule is broken (they gave it a cute name but it was lost on me).

It seems the "gym" is trying to establish a more friendly and non-intimidating atmosphere - but what this is a symptom of is a continuing trend away from effective strength training.

If you actually expend effort and energy and strive to produce full body tension and lift weights heavy enough to actually build strength - then you may from time to time grunt or exhale loudly and during a successful maximal lift you might just let out a bit of hoop and holler to celebrate! This is not something to be discouraged - it is something to embrace!

Now I am not coming out in support of the yelling, screaming, slapping, stomping and psyching up displays that occur in some instances. Outside of the platform (competition platform that is) or maybe a maximal attempt in the gym - your training should be approached with as little excitation (psyching) as possible - (more on this in a future blog). So stomping, spitting, yelling and the like don't really have a place - other than as source of some amusement - my apologies in advance if you are proud of your psyching displays.

I breath heavy and on occasion (that means every time) I set my deadlift down rather quickly - I do not make a lot of noise but you do know I am in the gym. Guess I won't be joining a Planet Weakness gym anytime soon.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Evidence - It's all around...

Is there research to back that up? There are questions that trigger my gag reflex and - the research question is one of them.
(I won't bore you with the rest of the list)

Should things be researched? Yes
Should I wait for that research before acting? No - Now use your judgement here - because there isn't any research proving that a parachute prevents you from meeting the ground at an extreme rate of speed but that doesn't mean you shouldn't use one! So I think I will use the parachute and wait for research to catch up with the "real world" experience. But there are things I will wait for research on - like some of the experimental drugs coming down the pipes from the pharmaceutical companies.

Physics can prove that a bumblebee cannot fly. It is impossible according to the physics "numbers" - but (having been stung by one) I can tell you that they do in fact - fly. Science actually has a few more of these paradoxes - Lumbard's paradox for the functioning of agonist and antagonist muscles that cross two joints and have opposing actions at those two joints during a movement- (correct me if I have the paradox wrong - I got a bit sleepy and dazed reading about it). But like the bumblebee - I have stood up from a seated position and can in fact tell you that my muscles performed opposing joint actions. A fabulous thing the human body!

Maybe it is a leap of faith - maybe it is the knowledge that good research is VERY hard to come by - maybe it is the fact that research lags WAY behind what is actually being applied in the world of exercise - but I continue to experiment on myself and let real world results speak to me - instead of waiting for the "proof" to be handed to me from a study.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Crocodile Breath - Retrain your breathing

Crocodile breath is a yoga exercise or technique for teaching and training diaphragmatic breathing. It is perhaps the easiest means of doing this that I have come across.

To begin you lie on the floor (prone or face down) with your forehead on the back of your hands - neck is in alignment with the rest of your spine - this is a relaxed position. Then you will breath in through your nose and deep into your "belly" - when you do this correctly you will feel your stomach push out into the ground and your obliques will push out to the sides as well - your lower back may even rise and fall with your inhale and exhale. Once you have a comfortable inhale you simply exhale and begin again.

Do not be in a rush. Let your breathing come at a natural pace and be sure to feel the stomach push out into the floor.

Build up to being able to perform the "crocodile" breath for 5 minutes and you will have gone a long way towards retraining your breathing and having a great feel for what it means to breath with your diaphragm. Another benefit of this style of breathing is that you will mobilize your thoracic spine and when your thoracic spine can move well - your shoulder will move and function better. The diaphragm and intercostal muscles are integral to the proper functioning of your body - shoulder included.

Enjoy this "exercise" and the benefits it can bring.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tip on the Single Leg Deadlift

This tip on the single leg deadlift comes from Gray Cook and the Functional Movement Screen people - and it really helps people learn the proper form for the SLDL.

Take a broomstick and place it behind your back. If your Right foot is staying on the ground (the working side)- your left hand will be holding the stick (palm towards you) in the curve of your neck. Your right hand will be holding the stick (palm away) in the curve of your lower back. The stick will be touching the back of your head, your thoracic spine, and your tail bone. Now bend the knee to about 20 degrees and keep it there and perform the single leg deadlift and keep the stick in contact with all three points of the body.

The pre-set of the knee to 20 degrees and keeping the stick in contact with the body will help you in hinging from the hip, maintaining the arch in your lower back and the proper form for the exercise. Make sure the knee does not "bow or cave" in but stays in alignment.

The SLDL will help teach the hip hinge, strengthen the ankle, improve "balance" (a blog for another day but balance is poorly understood and even more poorly applied), and hits the glutes and hamstrings very effectively.

Weighted SLDL can be performed holding a weight in the contra-lateral hand (Right foot on ground - weight in left hand), weight in both hands, and suitcase style in the same hand as working leg (right foot - right hand).
But once you add weight do not lose the form you learned using the broomstick!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Success - just meant to happen or made to happen?

This has come up recently with certain discussions and questions - If someone is good at something - were they meant to do it or did they work to make it happen?

It is easy when we see someone perform an athletic feat to want to emulate that feat - heavy deadlift, Tour DeFrance, a Marathon, etc... - and when we go to try that feat and find that we fall far short of where we think we should be or we endeavor to be successful and still find ourselves short of the mark we set for ourselves we tend to offer the explanation of -
"Well he/she was just built for or meant for that feat - I just don't have it."

True or False? Or Both???? (gotcha there)

There are certainly the examples of individuals who were meant to excel at various athletic feats - Jesse Owens, Lance Armstrong, Michael Jordan, etc... - individuals who had the "natural" talent that placed them on the fast track for success but the "Talent fast-track" is littered with people who fall off of the track due to not working to access their talent.

There are individuals who should never succeed at a given sport because they are the opposite of what the expected success is in that arena - too short, too tall, too fat, too small, too stiff, too whatever... - but yet they succeed. Many people fall off this "Long road" to success - and they fall off sometimes right before they would succeed.

So it can be True - some are "meant" for success at a certain endeavor - and it can be False - some work their way to success and then there are those who do both - they have the talent and they have the work - and whether they are the superstar or in the top group of a particular endeavor - they succeed.

If you have chosen something to achieve but find yourself falling short of the mark you have set for yourself - don't blame or give yourself an easy out (well- guess I just wasn't meant for it?!) - step back - re-evaluate and try another approach. Enlist the aide of an experienced coach in the area you would like to succeed in but don't just stop with an easy out.

Success is sometimes right around the next corner - a better map, or guide might be what you need to find you were "meant" to succeed!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Hitting the end of a training cycle

Gotta know when to say when...

It has been a pretty good couple of weeks of training - my squat has really come on strong (hitting my previous 2rm for multiple sets) and I had some great DL sessions (hitting my previous gym PR). And while I knew this and should not have tried to train yesterday - I did anyway and found the end of my training cycle the hard way.

After some floor press and weighted pull-ups I went into my deadlift for the day - which after Saturday's deadlift session should have been a clear "Do not pass go - do not collect $200" but after looking at the weeks left to the AAU meet in Dec. I decided to anyway. Mistake - and after the first rep I knew it - felt my lower thoracic musculature tighten up and after the next rep it turned into a spasm - so just to be sure I did one more rep and then called it a day.

Now this is progress actually - at one point in my life I would have continued to push and survived the session but been out of commission for a while. No longer - knowing when to say when and having a long term perspective have become more important then proving anything. So I called it a day and went to the store to get a bag of frozen peas to use as an ice bag. Then went home - iced for 20 minutes and then put my legs up the wall for 10 minutes. After that a little childs pose stretch and the spasms were much better. (I was also fortunate enough to get a bit of massage later that really put the spasms to rest.) This immediate action was key to a quick resolution to the issue.

What lead me to make a mistake like this - thinking too much! I started looking at the calendar and trying to plan out the next couple of weeks and let that override the fact that I needed another day to two days off from deadlifting. There is the plan and then there is reality. Reality wins most times.

The benefits of having someone design your programs for you and guide you is that an observer has the distance to make good objective decisions. This is what I provide in my program design services - clear, objective design and decisions on progression.
When training myself I usually do quite well - until I start to "plan" and force my training into a time schedule and feel that I "have" to do ________ - whatever that may be.

No one has a gun to my head and we should all feel able to adjust the plan to reality.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Volume kills!

Like any tool - Volume- must be applied correctly.

I was speaking with a trainer at the gym where I lift and he was saying that after 10 years in personal training that his joints were not doing well and after telling him that I have been in and around the fitness industry for 17+ years - he was sure that I would be a hurting unit. Well - to his surprise I had to relate to him that not was I doing quite well joint wise even after back surgery and other injuries -but that I was competing in powerlifting and feeling great.

Volume is a tool like any other and it can be applied well or applied poorly. I have used the Russian Squat Routine for my deadllift (twice) - this is a volume routine designed for the squat and most people don't do well on it for the deadlift - I put 100 pounds on my deadlift performing near back to back RSR cycles. Other powerlifting routines use volume - Shieko, Smolov, and others use enough volume to nearly kill most people that attempt them.

So - Volume works - right? Yes - but there is a price to be paid.

A previous blog evaluates the long term impact of exercises - volume is a piece of the puzzle. It is a form of chronic stress on the body. When you look at the fact that form can deteriorate during high rep/high volume work it should come as no surprise that any stress - no matter how good it is supposed to be for you - can have a negative impact.

Volume can be used periodically as an overload but is should be used sparingly - maybe one or two cycles a year at the most.
Otherwise- training should be low rep and low volume.

My deadlift routine today - Three work reps - 515 x 1, 535 x 1, 515 x 1 - finished with an easy set of three and that was it for the deadlift. I will usually accumulate between 3 - 10 work reps on a given exercise and I usually only perform three exercises per workout - sometimes 4 or 5.

Proper cycling of intensity, volume and exercise selection will take care of progression and health. I tend to lift heavy but low in volume - balancing the volume and intensity.

How is your volume?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Chronic Stress from Chronic Positions...

Have you viewed sitting as a position of Chronic Stress?

If not - you should - Why? Well - think of how many hours a day you spend sitting.

It is probably more than you think - Especially if you work a desk job or spend time watching TV, movies or playing Video games. The time spent sitting can go into the hours of time during a day. Individuals who work at a desk and/or computer can spend 4-8 hours a day seated and then go home and sit more.

If we break it down - we hopefully spend 8 hours sleeping - and if we spend 8 hours at work seated - that only leaves 8 hours to fiddle with - and how do we spend that? I will be generous and say that one hour of that 8 is spent exercising - 7 left.
TV - 2+ hours on average - 5 left. Driving - lets just say 1 hour (although commuting can extend this greatly - plug in your own number) - 4 left. Meals - three meals - lets say 3 hours total (your time may vary) - 1 hour left. We will chalk that one hour up to various walking and moving around.

Total time seated and inactive = 22 hours. Total time moving and exercising = 2 hours!

This is of course a gross generalization that is meant to emphasize the point of how much sitting we do during a "typical" day it doesn't reflect everyone's actual time seated - but chart out your day and run the numbers - it may just surprise you.

How is all this time seated bad for you?
High levels of pressure within the discs to begin with - sitting removes the shock absorbers of the legs and muscles that help us deal with gravity - we sit directly on our pelvis (ishial tuberosities to be specific) and the weight and gravity is sent directly into the spine.
And this is if ideal alignment is maintained - forces increase greatly if you round the back or slouch while you sit.
Tightens the hip flexors and hamstrings - sitting places both in a shortened position - not good.
If the upper back rounds we cannot breath with our diaphragm - and we end up with shallow chest breathing - lower oxygen levels and poor thoracic mobility.
Plus we are inactive - no movement = poor lymphatic drainage, increased heart stress as it pumps without the aide of muscular contraction to move blood better, reduced caloric burn etc...

Getting the idea?

What to do about it? For every 30 minutes seated - Stand and move for 5 minutes.
Perform standing extensions, squats, easy shadow boxing/shaking drills, and walk for 5 minutes.
Joint mobility drills fit in well here. As does Pavel's Grease the Groove program - click through my website product page for the Naked Warrior for details.

Don't be a chronic sitter - Get up and move!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Long Term Effects...

Of Dead-lifting and other activities...

A recent post on the DD forum got me thinking a bit - the question arose as to what the long term effects of dead-lifting might be and if they were negative. This is a very difficult question to answer because there are so many variables to take into account.

Such as:
Form - how is the individual's form on the exercise? There is a reason serious powerlifters and olympic lifters spend lifetimes trying to perfect their form on an exercise. (3 lifts in powerlifting and 2 lifts in OL)

Volume - What is the level of accumulated stress? Too much of anything can be a bad thing. When it comes to dead-lifting and other lifts (like the bench)- less can be more. The activity might not be the problem - how much might be.

Recovery - Ties into volume but needed an extra section of it's own. Is the rotation of volume and intensity (to be discussed below) adequate for recovery? Too much coupled with too often is an even worse situation.

Intensity - Chronic training to failure or high volume coupled with high intensity can be great ways of hitting the bottom of what an exercise has to offer. BTW - intensity is a percentage of your 1 rep maximum - going to failure may or may not be intense.

Outside factors - What else does the person participate in? Strongman, Highland Games, Skiing, Running, Motocross, or any number of "hobbies" can be the proverbial straw that breaks the camels back.

Habits - How we sit and sleep can be more powerful than the activities we participate in - Chronic stress in the body from positions we hold for hours at a time can ruin you more than any lifting activity.

Nutrition - Ties into recovery but needed it's own section - How well does the person fuel the body that they are demanding performance from? If the fuel isn't there the body will simply take from "non-essential" (hint there aren't any non-essential areas) areas of the body and create deficiencies that lead to breakdowns.

And that is just off of the top of my head - medical history, injury history and family history can also play a role in the long term effects of any activity.

In general - with proper form, and cycling of intensity and volume a person can dead-lift for a very long time without detrimental effects. I myself have come back from back surgery to dead-lift 535 (and climbing) and my squat is climbing - and this is three years post surgery. Not exactly long term - but stronger is better and intelligent training is a big piece of the puzzle.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Squats, Allergies and Breathing...

Another day of squatting today 425 x 2,2,2,2,1,1 - the last time I was under 425 it was a maximum double and an ugly one at that - so there has been great progress made in my squatting.

Allergies - I have felt the old allergy bug the past two days (including today) and it has my breathing a bit off and as a result - even though I had a good day of training - I felt "weaker" than I felt I should have. That whole breathing thing as it turns out is VERY important and if you don't include some form of breath work into your overall routine you are missing out on an essential piece of the health puzzle.

The old time strongmen and physical culture people included deep breathing exercises into their routines because it had a profound impact on health and strength. Yoga includes the practice of pranyama (sp?) which is breath work. Martial arts, Tai Chi, Qui Quong all include breath as an integral part of the system they teach. And you are not including it in yours?

The classic Super Squats book by Randall Strossen (available at includes a section where he talks about a variation of the routine where "lighter' weights were used for the 20 rep squats but the focus was on three huge deep breaths between each rep. The results were just as good as on the program where heavier weights were pushed but the breathing was not emphasized. Breath matters!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Jumping Rope

If you don't - you are missing out.

I recently added this back into my routine so on the program listed below I jump rope for 5-7 minutes prior to my weights. My goal in doing this is to strengthen my feet and increase some conditioning.

Lifeline sells some really good jump ropes - you can click though on the products page of my website (go to the bottom of that page).

A great conditioning drill that also hits the feet and some "foot skill" by jumping in different patterns.

Jump rope is a winner - just start with small doses and build into it. And if you are one of those people out there who is saying "But I can't jump rope - I tried and it was just too difficult" - that is exactly why you should be jumping rope. Look into trainers or coaches that can help you learn. It will be worth the effort.

As with any recommendation - see your physician before beginning any new exercise routine and stop if you have pain of any sort and get evaluated. (Disclaimers everywhere!)

Monday, November 06, 2006

More simplicity...

Think I've found a little bit of routine for the next month+ until the AAU meet in Dec.

Day 1
Floor press
DL with 35# plates

Day 2
Dumbbell bench
Pull-ups + a set or so of DB row

Day 3
Floor press or Dips
DL - working to a heavy double

Simple and to the point - intensity will be rotated and I kind of go by the feel of the day when I get in the gym but it comes from my gut once I get in there. Then I look back at my log and find I've been rotating intensity pretty well.

DL today off of the 35# plates for 405 for three sets of three reps felt great. Pull-ups will be weighted and the floor press, dips, DB bench rotation is to deal with the fact that I don't have a consistent spotter for the bench - gotta make due and bring up some weak areas while I do.
Keeping the squats in the rotation will keep those progressing but allow me to keep the focus on the DL.

As the old saying goes - "I love it when a plan comes together."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Making up some ground...

I was traveling and filming DVDs this weekend so I wasn't able to hit the blog on Friday and Saturday but it will be worth the wait for the DVDs.

Gray Cook and I shot two DVDs - one will be a two DVD set on the shoulder and one will be a DVD on the deadlift. I will keep you posted as they become available.

Something from this weekend - even though Gray is considered a "functional" training guru he knows that strength is an important foundation for athletes and the general public. During filming we were discussing how someone will throw their luggage around (which may weight between 25-40 pounds and more) but will balk at the idea of picking up heavier than a 10# dumbbell.

My favorite example is parents who will lift, carry, bend and twist in every possible combination with their child (children are a form of progressive resistance training - starting around 8 pounds and getting up to 40+ pounds before they don't want to be picked up any more) but will again balk at the idea of "lifting" weights! Pick up a 35# child but resist the idea that 35# Kettlebell is ok to lift. Perspective is everything!

Heavy is a relative thing. Not everyone will have a goal in powerlifting or have a desire to hit a maximal weight but this does not preclude that individual from lifting "heavy" for themselves. Fact of the matter is - in order to get toned, and strong you need to progressively get stronger.

This is a recurring theme for me but a necessary one and one that bares repeating.
The 1000 pound Deadlift has fallen...

or rather - been lifted!!

Andy Bolton recently broke the world record deadlift by hitting 1003# in a powerlifting meet.

That is not a typo - 1003 pounds - held in human hands and lifted from the ground to lockout in front of judges and a crowd!
An incredible feat!! And more proof that barriers and records are there to lift us up and propel us to our greatest potential.

Think about this the next time you feel that something is not possible - "That's too heavy" is a mindset not a reality.

This will be a short blog - but profound - I am a deadlift junky and this is an amazing lift!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Why are you turning the squat rack around?

Little questions like this tend to pop up in health clubs when I train as I travel. The rack was of course set up so that the person squatting would be able to look in the mirror as they curled - I mean squat. So I understood the nature of the question and after explaining that it was difficult enough the stare at my face long enough to shave mush less when straining during squatting I gave her the real reasons.

#1 - Always relying upon a mirror can ruin your own kinestetic (sp?) sense of where you are in space when you don't have the mirrors feedback. Most people cannot "feel" where there arm is positioned or much less where a foot is turned or hand is turned unless they have the visual input from the mirror. A bad habit when they have yet to mirror the world so you can check your form every step of every day.
A mirror can be helpful for a spot check - but once you see what you want to check - get away from the mirror and re-create it by feel.

#2 - Since my goal is to compete in powerlifting it is important to train the way I will compete. There are no mirrors at the meets - only judges. I want to know my depth and feel of my squat perfectly without visual feedback.

I thnk she actually believed the initial reason of not being able to stand more "face" time in the mirror (this is a joke BTW). But seemed to accept the other reasons as well.

So - are you relying on the mirror? Or can you feel where you are in space?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

It's called STRENGTH training for a reason!

That is a little something that has been lost in the bodybuilding/unstable training based philosophies out there. We have gone from training to "working out" - from strength training to "sculpting" and it has ruined people's strength.

If you have visited the website and seen the logo on the home page you will see the Japanese symbol for strength inside a compass - this symbolizes the "cardinal points" of fitness with a center of strength. Strength is the most under-trained aspect of fitness in the traditional gym.

Doing sets of 15 with the same weight every time you go in the gym is not strength training. It is better than nothing but it is not strength training. When was the last time you progressed in your weights?

No seriously - when was the last time you followed a progressive cycling that resulted in an increase in your strength? If you can't remember or never have it is time to return to the roots of what weight training is all about- getting STRONGER!

This does not mean that everyone needs a power-lifting goal or needs to set a series of Maximal efforts - it does mean that your training should result in a progressive increase in your strength. Don't know how? Visit the Services section of my website and I will show you how (shameless self-promotion!).

So - Are you strength training or are you just working out?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

For some reason this came back to me today:

"It's not the stumbles in life that matter - it is the recovery that matters."

Lots of sayings and cliches in this vein - "Fall down 7 - get up 8" is an old chinese proverb if I am not mistaken.

But what I like about the reference to stumbles is that we all falter but not necessarily fall and we let it have the same effect. A bad meal, a missed workout, etc... and we write off our plan and set some other date to start again.

Well - if it is the recovery that matters and you have let a stumble become a fall - you need to work on your recovery!

The only moment we have to make a change is right now. Once a stumble has happened it is gone and you are in that critical recovery phase - will the stumble become a fall or will the recovery place you back on the path?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Squat - Squat - Squat

Great exercise - funny looking word...

Just realized as I wrote squat 3 times that it is a funny looking little word - and a great exercise.

Now in my mind the Deadlift is the "king" of barbell lifts but the squat is a damn close second and an exercise that I really like. When you hit the form right and you have the bar wedged in your upper back and you are ready to descend into the hole it is a great moment. Feeling the weight across your back is a very different feeling from wedging the weight off the ground in the deadlift. Hitting the hole (and I mean Powerlifting below parallel) and knowing that you have to stand back up with the weight on your back is another great moment.

Couple of recent epiphanies regarding the squat:
I lift raw (belt only) for my squats and the raw squat groove is a bit different from the geared squat form. With the way gear has evolved you see a more upright body position and a wide stance. In the raw form you see a more hips back almost good morning style. These are generalities but seem to hold pretty true. I had let the geared form influence my raw squat form by trying to be more upright with a higher bar position and a wider stance.
While driving cross country I had the opportunity to lift with my friend Jeff O'Connor - and he immediately busted me on my form mistakes. Since moving the bar lower on my back and wedging my upper body between the bar and sitting my hips back my squat has felt great.
Today I hit 5 sets of 2 reps at 405 and felt like I could have been quite a bit heavier for my sets.

So a lower bar position, sitting the hips back and moderate stance have allowed me to find my groove on the squat and will assist me greatly in getting to a 500+ squat for my raw elite goals.

For clients and non-powerlifters the choice to back squat is a personal one. Good back squats are very form intensive and require you to dedicate yourself to squatting. Most people will get the squat benefits without the risk by front squatting. Kettlebell front squats being my favorite variation since it is very easy on the wrists and also works your breathing muscles in the process.

So, back squat, front squat, single leg squat or whatever variation you choose - get to Squatting.
But learn how and learn well.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Paralysis by Analysis

Decisive action is best.

There is a saying -"It is better to act now and ask forgiveness later then do nothing." Or words to that effect.

Now don't go crazy here and start doing insane things and say but "Brett said it was better to ask forgiveness than do nothing" - you are responsible for your own actions! And this is a fitness blog so quit scheming for tonight.

And my point is....

Waiting for the perfect program or perfect exercise to hit "this" body-part or the perfect diet etc... to begin working towards a goal is paralysis by analysis. Your routine and your life do not have to be perfect to begin - they just have to be.

Your program has to have structure but needs to be open to change. You can begin on your own but find you need the advice or program design services of a professional (such as those on my website). But begin or if you want to begin a professional program - don't wait - get in touch with someone and get started. Good intentions and such...the road to not accomplishing your goals is paved with them.

Instead of wondering which assistance exercise will get you squat or bench or _________ moving - how about working on your squat or bench or ________ form. Work the exercise then once you find a weak section of the exercise you will have a better idea of how to pick an assistance exercise. Place your attention on what you want to improve in and keep it there.

Act with confidence and be decisive - learn and research to aide you in this don't act blindly but act.

I made the decisive decision to move across country and establish a new internet business. I did not wait for things to be perfect - I acted. And I'll let you know how it turns out.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Three and out...

Exercises that is - not downs...

Going off of my Occam's Razor article for Pavel's newsletter yesterday I would like to share my training from yesterday.
Keeping it simple:
Jump Rope x 5 minutes
Floor press alternated with Pull-ups
Floor press 205 x 6, 225 x 6, 245 x 5,5, 265 x 5
P-U 80# x 3,3,3 , 70# x 3,3
Deadlift with 35# plates extending the pull
375 x 5,5,5

That was it - upper body push, upper body pull and a full body pull. The jump rope at the beginning is a warm-up/foot strengthening drill.

My main goal coming up is the AAU meet in December in Las Vegas where I will be lifting in the deadlift only competition. And after having a peak at Pavel's upcoming newsletter (snail mail version) - I realized that I had left out my deadlifts using the 35# plates. This is just enough of an extended range for me. When I go back to the 45# plates it really does feel like a shortened pull and I am able to wedge super tight at the beginning of the lift.

What I see people do with the extended range DL is go too deep and lose the groove of their DL. You can go too deep in trying to do extended range pulls. This is a case where just a bit will do. If you go beyond your DL groove and round your back or change the lift - you will lose the carryover to your goal activity.

So for now I will be hitting the 35# plates DL (a light day like yesterday and a heavier day) and hitting the floor press to work on my tricep and lockout strength for the bench. After Dec. it will be time to hit the big three again and get ready for a full meet and my ultimate goal of hitting Raw elite.

Simple is as simple does.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Core activation trick...

I don't exactly like to use the C word but everyone knows exactly what I am talking about so it has it's moments.

The trick - instead of drawing in or other cues - try this - on a padded surface where you knees will not suffer assume a kneeling position (both knees on the ground) and have a friend place their hand on your head - then have the friend move the hand a 1/2 an inch above your head. Now you must lengthen your spine and reach your friends hand without looking up or cheating. Notice what happens - what did you feel?

If you are quad dominant and have tight hip flexors you will have trouble feeling like you can extend your body. And you should feel your abs get tall - yet solid.

Better posture, better "core" activation and less quad dominant movement should be the results.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Combine this with the diaphragm advice from yesterdays blog and you will be on to something and try your Kettlebell military press from this position.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What is the deal with the Transverse Abdominus??

First - if you don't know what the transverse abdominus (TVA) is - consider yourself fortunate - sometimes ignorance is bliss! ;)

The much talked about and emphasized TVA is one of your abdominal muscles and according to research is the first muscle in your body to fire to stabilize you for movement or even for lifting your arm from a chair. It is thought to be the prime muscle in the body for spinal stability.

The TVA is designed like a corset - the fibers run in a straight line around the body connecting to the fascia in the back - since it has this design the popular explanation of it's function is that it draws in to produce stability.

I have a different take on this.

The TVA is like a retaining wall for intra-abdominal pressure (IAP). That is right a retaining wall designed to hold in the pressure necessary to stabilize the spine. Proper IAP is the combination of the pelvic floor muscles (more on this on another blog), the back, the abdominals (including the TVA) and the _____________??? Do you know? and the diaphragm. That's right the parachute shaped muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity and helps you breath. It forms the top of the box and when you inhale properly and the diaphragm expands and pushes down into the abdomen - the TVA must perform it's retaining wall function and contain the pressure with the pelvic floor and the rest of the "box".

If the TVA doesn't do it's job and the pressure cannot be contained - low IAP and low spinal stability. Drawing in will actually decrease the effectiveness of the "box" and prevent the diaphragm from expanding and allowing the TVA to perform it's retaining wall function.

Pull-up the pelvic floor (become familiar with squatting and kegel exercises if you don't know how to do this) and make the abs flat and solid - not pulled in - and use the diaphragm to expand down against the retaining wall - as the TVA tightens to hold in the pressure it will pull on the thoracolumbar fascia and viola - IAP and the opportunity for a stable spine.

Start thinking of the TVA and IAP in this manner and reap the benefits of a stable spine and proper abdominal activation.
And tune in tomorrow for a simple "core" activation "trick".

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Doesn't that hurt your back???

If I had a nickle for every time I was asked this question while swinging a KB, Deadlifting, or lifting Atlas Stones I would be a bit more comfortable in my life.

Here is where I think the question comes from - We are so disconnected from what true movement and performance looks like that people cannot conceive of something like deadlifting or KB swinging being good for you. The current machine based training (more on this in a moment) and unstable surface training crowd have disconnected us from ourselves.

A seated Chest press or seated row produces the highest forces on the low back - more than almost any other activity. Surprised? Don't be - think about it for a moment - does it make sense that when you try not to use a section of body while producing force within the body that the force will travel right to the weak link (the section trying to be inactive and unable to stabilize itself). When you actually produce force within the body the way it was meant to be produced - with the whole chain activated - you are safer.

So while the trend in exercise has been towards "safer" exercises - like machines and wobble boards - we continue to have high incidents of low back pain and shoulder injuries. Doesn't sound like the right direction to me.

Being able to pick something up off of the ground and being able to produce power from the hips are essential athletic and just plain human movements. Does this mean a Powerlifting style deadlift - not necessarily - there are many ways to deadlift and reconnect with this basic human skill. (Hint - there will be a video covering this soon)

So the next time someone asks the question - Isn't that bad for your back? What will you be thinking?

Monday, October 23, 2006

December is approaching...

This December I will be competing at an AAU powerlifting meet in Las Vegas. It will be a deadlift only meet for me so it is time to begin focusing on it.

Powerlifing is a new venture for me - I lifted in two meets in California and have set some personal goals for myself. In powerlifing most lifters will try to achieve what is known as an Elite total. This is a total of the three lifts which represents a high level accomplishment. Well - they have released Elite totals for the Raw lifter (lifting Raw is using a belt only). And that is my goal - Raw elite.

Raw elite for the 181 weight class is a 1396 pound total for the Squat, Bench press and Deadlift. This will breakdown into a
500+ pound Squat, a 350 pound Bench, and a 550+ pound Deadlift.

Why - you ask?

Well -reason #1 - to have a goal.
Something to focus my training and provide definable markers for achievement. Humans perform better when there is an expectation or goal in front of them. Once we leave competitive athletics these goals become harder to find and we tend to drift in our physical lives. This tends to be when people either do not workout or there only goal is to "workout".

I am not after a workout - I am after results.

Where to focus my efforts and what result to focus on- are the only questions. Once determined - the path begins to lay itself. My job as a trainer is to assist in defining the goal and then guide the person along the path to their goal.

Right now I must focus on the deadlift and begin to prepare for the December meet. Next goal after that will be to find a "full" meet (meaning all three lifts) and once I know my total - I know what I need to do to get to the ultimate goal of Raw Elite.

So - What is your goal? Do you have one?

If not and you find yourself drifting - maybe you need one!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A weekend away teaching...

I was away this weekend assisting my friend Gray Cook at a presentation in Northern VA. For those of you who don't know Gray created something called the Functional Movement Screen (click on the products link on my website - go to the bottom and through the link you can purchase the book Athletic Body in Balance). The movement screen is a way to assess essential movement patterns and find restrictions and asymmetries (Gray is referring to asymmetries when he refers to balance not wobbling on a disc). Once the restrictions and asymmetries are found they can be dealt with and the difference is amazing.
Gray also has a Clinical level evaluation that he teaches to Physical Therapists (consider yourself lucky if someone with this is in your area).

While I was there to assist - I learned far more. An appreciation for what movement screening and evaluation can mean was hammered home this weekend. Look for upcoming blogs and information on both Gray's book and the Movement Screen.

Also brought home to me this weekend was the fact that the RKC principles and techniques put you ahead of the game as a trainer. Breathing, strength and the instructors eye for assessing movement come in handy anywhere.

I had the opportunity to put on a little grip and KB demo which went over very well.

A "gem" from the weekend - what makes an exercise functional or not depends on whether it improves the goal activity.

Think about that for a moment...(go ahead - I'll wait...)

What do you want to improve? Did the exercise improve it? If yes - it is functional to the goal - If no - well then no... ;)

Standing on a wobble board and doing curls is only a "functional" exercise if it improves the goal activity. It is not a "functional" exercise because it involves a wobble board and some "expert" said it was.

Having a baseline and re-assessing will be the only way you can determine the functionality of an exercise.

A squat is a basic strength training exercise - combine this with the skill work specific to the goal and it can be a sport specific exercise. Once you re-assess you will know if things improved. Saying something is functional or sport specific does not make it so.

More tomorrow... Sorry for the missed blog - travel happens!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Variation and the concern over hypertrophy...

Two issues that have come up in recent days that I would like to expound upon are the "need" for variation and the concern over hypertrophy. Since we have been inundated with bodybuilding information the general public now believes that they need to change their routine every 4 weeks because at the end of 4 weeks their body has "adapted" to the exercise and they need a new one.

Golfers would be very dissappointed is this were true - under this mind set they would need to switch to a new swing in order to keep improving their game. Olympic lifters would have a constantly rotating competition based on which lift they had "adapted" to and needed to switch to.... Come on - the exercise is not the problem.

The way you are using the exercise is the problem. The same sets, for the same reps, with the same weight will cause you to adapt and lose benefit from the exercise. But not the exercise - just as a golfer blames his clubs for swing mistakes - the trainee will blame the execise for not producing the results. Tools are just tools - it is how you apply them that makes the difference.

Variation within a theme is acceptable - using the military press (MP) as an example - you could rotate through One Arm MP,
Two Kettlebell MP, See Saw press, Alternating press, Bottoms up press, Two Kettlebells in one hand MP, Sotts press and even seated (on the floor) press. All of these presses will enhance the goal activity of the regular military press and will help shore up weaknesses at different points of the press. If you want to improve your overhead pressing - you need to practice it. Blaming the tool will not help.

The concern over hypertrophy...."I want to lift weights and get toned but I don't want to get big."
Ask yourself one question - have you had a problem with hypertrophy before?
No really - did you find yourself busting out of your clothes after your first weight training experience?
I doubt it.
Now there are a few rare individuals who grow just looking at a squat rack - but that isn't you. And it isn't me.
If it is you - congrats (but you probably hate it) - for everyone else - getting big is difficult. It takes an extreme dedication to diet and exercise that few people will have the will to stick to. (Like waking up at 3 am to get in an extra protein shake.)

Here is an idea - train like you were not afraid of "getting bigger" - train hard and don't worry about it. You might just accomplish your goals.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The great thing about trying to write a daily blog is that it forces you to write everyday.
The bad thing about trying to write a daily blog is that it forces you to write everyday!

This brilliant (and somewhat contradictory) statement on the second day of my blog may seem pretty weird but follow along with me...

On the good side - daily writing is the best way to "learn" to write and improve your skills.
On the bad side - daily writing means having to create something meaningful to post and being unmotivated to write is not an option. (yes this "negative" is a positive - keep reading...)

The mental "Greasing the Groove" (from Pavel - see Naked Warrior for more details - clink the link on my products page) of daily writing is just as effective as the physical daily practice of a skill you want to improve. Dan John quotes Dan Gable who used to say "if something is important it is important enough to do everyday".

And when "motivation" isn't an option - great things start to happen. Thomas Edison provided us with the "99 percent perspiration - 1 percent inspiration" formula for genius. Well - physical genius is no different but we let "motivation" form a roadblock. What if that roadblock wasn't an option? What would you accomplish?

The logical question you are asking - "Well Mr. Second day of his blog having to write about motivation" - how do we remove the roadblock? Glad you asked...

First realization - Only you can remove the roadblock - you placed it there and you have to remove it.
Yes life happens and plans always need to be open to adapt to what the universe decides you need to deal with on a given day but motivation is yours - not someone else's.

Second realization - We are our habits and habits create our lifestyle (there is a great t-nation article on this sorry I cannot remember the author but I want to say it is that Dan John guy). If your habits and lifestyle do not support and create a situation where you can achieve your goals - you will not achieve them.

Third realization - Get busy being motivated or your not getting any....of your goals that is....
We can sit and bemoan our lot in life and find lots of blame to go around but until you take hold of these three realizations - your not getting any! (goals that is) How do you do this? - Keep reading....

For myself -
My self imposed roadblocks were being "too busy" to get all of the other things done I wanted to get done.
My habits and lifestyle (which I created) left me distracted and focusing my energy into other endeavors.
So what did I do about it...
I got busy being motivated!

I moved across country and have created a situation where I have to be motivated - or I'm not going to make it!

We use this method for correcting and teaching certain exercises - we place you in a situation where the movement teaches you and everything else flows off of that. Just as creating a situation where your habits and lifestyle focus your energies towards your goals will "motivate" you towards success.

Your physical goals will work with this formula - create a situation where your choice is to get busy being motivated or your not going to achieve your goals!

Thanks for reading and for help with creating a situation that leads to accomplishing your goals - check out my program design services on

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

And so it begins....

Welcome to the live Applied Strength blog and website! It took a bit longer than expected to be up and running due to some technical issues but we are live and ready to roll.

Through this blog I will be sharing information with you on various aspects of fitness and strength. When you go to the site and look at my bio you will have the dates and events that give you a picture of my background and work experience - however - philosophy and personal experience cannot be communicated by dates and specifics.

For example - What lead me here to the creation of You can look at my bio and see a Bachelor's of Science in Sportsmedicine and a Master of Science in Rehabilitative Science but those are only pieces of the puzzle. These pieces lay down a great base of knowledge but knowledge is not power! Knowledge that you apply is power. (hint - this belief is where the applied strength name comes from)

Would it surprise you to know that in early 1998 I had a 40" waist??!! That's right a 40" waist. I had a great mass of knowledge regarding anatomy, physisology, nutrition etc... and ended up fat and out of shape. There was not one scrap of that base of knowledge that I was applying to my own life.

And it wasn't until I took out a tape measure and put it around my own waist that I realized where I had arrived. It was a true epiphany. Confronted with the facts - I took action and made immediate and dramatic changes. High Intensity Interval Training three times a week combined with bodyweight exercise (pull-ups and pushups mainly) formed the physical side of the assault on my waist. A complete dietary reconstruction was the other part of the equation. Sugars and refined carbs were eliminated and protein, healthy carbs and water were my dietary world.
The results: In less than three months I was down from 185+ pounds to 160 pounds and my previously 40" waist was now 32".

So I am not one of those "always been fit and thin" types - I have earned what I have achieved.

It was a harsh reality check and immediate action (application of knowledge) that lead to great changes in my life. So now you have a small bit of insight as to my passion of fitness and why "applied" strength has great meaning!

Future blogs will continue to expand on the Applied Strength philosophy and examine current fitness information. You can be a part of this by commenting and asking questions - otherwise I am left to ramble and guess at what you would like to read. I look forward to this sharing of and application of information.

Brett Jones

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