Monday, December 31, 2007

Upcoming workshops with Brett Jones

Functional Movement Screen - Pittsburgh, Pa
January 26 and 27
details on

This 4 hours workshop will cover the Secrets of The Shoulder DVD set
and a special section on Grip Training for all populations.
A lecture AND hands-on workshop - participants will receive:
What Breath, Grip, Posture, &Positioning have to do with the shoulder
Clearance tests for the Neck and Shoulder
Screening tests for Mobility and Stability of the Shoulder
Exercise Progressions to address Mobility and Stability
How to safely progress to overhead work
Grip Training for All Populations
WHO: BRETT JONES holds a Bachelor of Science in Sportsmedicine and is a Senior
Instructor in the Russian Kettlebell Challenge program. Gray Cook and Brett Jones
developed the Secrets of... series to help integrate screening and corrective exercise
into every Personal Trainers tool box.
WHEN: FRIDAY, 10am - 2pm, FEB 1, 2008
WHERE:At The Sporting Club,, 8930 University Center Lane, San Diego, CA 92009
COST: $75 - Before Jan 25th
$85 - After Jan 25th
FOR MORE INFO &TO SIGN UP:E-mail Paul at or
call 858-202-7353

Intermediate Kettlebell workshop at Iron Core in San Diego
FEBRUARY 2, 2008
11:00 A.M.TO 3P.M.
With Brett JonesRKC Master Instructor
Brett Jones, is co-author
of “Kettlebell Basics for
Strength Coaches and
Personal Trainers.”
• MOVEMENT SKILL- This is the base of your training. Where is yours, and is this base large enough to support your training?
• RELAXATION DRILLS- Practicing tension means learning relaxation.Can you go from tense to relaxed for efficient movement?
• BREATHING DRILLS- Understanding Anatomical and Paradoxicalbreathing patterns...what to use when.
• KETTLEBELL DRILLS- Refine the basics and incorporate thesecombo drills and dynamic drills to elevate your training.
• Q&A- If you leave with a question unanswered, it is your fault!
To Register Call Us At
A great holiday week and first training in two weeks:

First I had a wonderful holiday week and was able to relax and enjoy the holiday. Hope everyone had a great week.

Hit the gym yesterday for my first day of training in two weeks:
Squat - 405 x 3, 3 455 x 2, 474 x 1, 405 x 3
Bench 225 x 3, 275 x 3, 315 x 1, 225 x 5
bent elbow flies 25# x 10,10

Not bad after not being in the gym for two weeks - Squats felt good and the new bent elbow flies were a new exercise from a friend at the gym (big guy that benches 515 raw). We will see how it turns out.

Also - started my I-phase Z training and I am very impressed. Just need to get in front of an I-phase trainer and check form ect... but things feel good.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

My foot is about 90% or a bit better and continues to improve so within a couple of days I should be back on top.
I am leaving soon for a trip to upstate New York for the week so I will blog from there as much as I can.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

From Rif's blog:
This is video of a young man setting some new IPF junior world records.
Unbelievable acceleration...

On a personal note - my foot is bit worse off than I had thought and is pretty tender this morning so I will be hitting a lot of Z and trying to keep it pain free during the day. Not an easy thing to do when you are supposed to be up demonstrating stuff. Oh well - keeps thing interesting.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Another spur of the moment workout...

Played 45 minutes of squash today - for those of you who don't know squash is considered the highest calorie burn raquet sport and is comprised of a lot of quick stop and start agressive movement. Great fun!

Couple of observations - my athleticism continues to grow due to Z Health and that the Nike 3.0 shoes are not ideal for squash.

I had a chance to get to almost every shot today and surprised my opponent on a few occasions by getting to shots he didn't think I would have a chance at getting. So my speed and quickness are there but my squash skill is low (obviously since I don't play). As I was saying today - "My body is willing but my skill is lacking"

My right foot is flaired up from playing in the Nike Free 3.0 but I will hit some Z through the day and be fine. My left elbow lacks some rotation and my left wrist is sticky in some ranges lacking some extension my right lower leg is kind of bound to flair up.

Fun stuff but it might mean I will wait to squat until tomorrow but I am not sure.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sneaking in some training:

All with 28kg KB
Get-ups x 2,2,2
Swings (2 arm, one arm, alternating, side stepping etc...)
5 sets x 20
Windmill x 5+5

A demo session turned into a training session - good stuff.
Found a great quote today:

This quote off of comes from Tom Brose of Crossfit DC:

"Strength is not an extravagance, or luxury. It is part of living an active healthy life. It is not something you have to be born with, and it is not just a young persons game. Strength comes from effort, knowledge and dedication. Strength is a fundamental right for everyone."

Movement skill could easily be added to or put in place of strength but it is the combination that creates the best possible outcome.

Strength will mean different things to different folks but we should all find that definition of strength and strive for it - and strive to have the best movement skill we can develop. Z-Health is my preferred method for regaining movement skill - check it out.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Training yesterday - 12/14/07

Squat 405 x 3,3,3
Bench 275 x 2,2,2,2,2
DL 515 x 1,1,1

Wasn't supposed to squat today but needed to clear some mental garbage and squats do that for me. Some people smoke, some people run - I squat.

Feeling pretty good and I am looking into next year to pick some meets. Should be fun.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Training today:

Bench 225 x 5, 5

DL 455 x 1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1

2/16kg Snatches x 10,10,10,10,10

Felt good dispite being sore from the squats and work from Monday.

We will see how the plan comes together.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Training today:

Squats w/ doubled over monster mini bands
365 x 2,2,2,2,2

Bench w/ 2.5 to 3" "board"
275 x 3, 315 x 2,2, 275 x 3

Dips +#90 x 5,5,5

KB Swings 40kg x 10, 10, 10, 10, 10

Not a bad day of training - I'll be laying out my plan over the next few days.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Eating to gain weight or Perception vs. Reality:

This is an "amusing" topic for me as Squat + Eating have provided me with almost 20 pounds of increased weight in the past several months without really wanting it to.

I hear people talk about not being able to gain weight or bemoaning the fact that they are "eating like a maniac". When it is broken down this is usually a matter of perception vs. reality.

For example: A banana is not a "weight gain tool" - unless that banana is consumed with half a jar of peanut butter in order to finish off your 6th meal of the day.

For example: Eating like a maniac does not include "fruit as snacks" - eating like maniac means 6 meals a day + protein shakes + waking up at 3 am to drink another protien shake. And the meals are of above average size - not weight watcher plates.

Squat heavy, Press heavy, Pull heavy - Rest - EAT A LOT - do these things in reality and you will grow - period.

Check your perception vs. reality in your plans to accomplish your goals before failing.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Training today:

Squats 455 x 2,2,2,2,2

Bench 315 x 2, 1 275 x 2 (long pause)

Another decent workout - deep and solid on the squats.
Bench still needs work - going to do a little PTP style cycle soon.

Not back to 100% yet - still coughing and not breathing well yet so still punching the clock on the workouts.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Training today:

Squats 405 x 5, 455 x 2, 405 x 5, 455 x 2, 405 x 5

Bench 275 x 2,2,2 225 x 5

One arm DB row - 120# x 6,6,6

With the medication (medral dose pack) and recovering from the allergy debacle I was a bit off today but managed a middle of the road workout.

Good visit with the folks and head home tomorrow morning.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Visiting my folks...

I'm on a little trip for the weekend down in Virginia visting my parents. So to celebrate they had me work at the family business today rearrainging and moving some stock stuff and actual physical labor. Great to be home and be able to help my parents out.

Hoping for a bit of training tomorrow.

Deep thoughts for the day:
Movement - Movement - Movement. We don't do enough of it.

As long as you don't lose movement skill and efficiency you cannot be too strong.

I-phase expands Z by a factor of 10 or more - really interesting stuff as I sift through my I-phase manual.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Sweet Science...

A boxing analogy to the dedication to the basics:
There are only 4 punches (Jab, Cross, Hook, Uppercut) but endless combinations of these punches and a lifetime of refinement in the technique of these punches. Add in footwork and the crafting of specific offense and defense to match to an opponent and you have the "Sweet Science".

Applied to the fitness world:
There are only a few basic movements (Vertical push/pull, Horizontal push/pull, Lower body push/pull) but a lifetime to learn and refine the technique, address weaknesses, and of course endless combinations of these basic movements. Add in different loads, leverages, speeds etc...and you have "training".

As the saying the RKC goes - "the elite are just better at the basics"

So - why are you looking for "advanced" exercises and training programs?

If you want to explore basic to advanced - explore your movement skill but remember that even the advanced is based off of the basic.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Missing movements...

Not something people typically ask themselves but the one question that can change someone's world - Are you missing movements?

Most people will answer NO - and most people are wrong!

Z focuses on this question in R-phase where you are re-learning the letters of movement. This is essential to your movement skill and health - the two are connected in case that seems like an odd pairing to you.

Imagine a watch with missing "teeth" on the gears - it may keep time but it will not be the correct time. Skipping pieces of the movment of the gears/joints results in lost time (for your joints that is...).

So - Are you missing movements?

And here is a post of mine from the DD forum today:
The question was which exercise would provide the most "bang for the buck" for a fighter - My answer:

The one that addresses your weaknesses will give you the most bang for your buck.

If the fighter is weak (but fast)- work on strength (bench press lockouts)
If the figher is slow (but strong) - work on speed (plyo push-ups, shot put, medball work)
If the fighter is soft in the core - work on Full contact twist.
If the fighter lacks movement skill - work through the FMS and Z Health.
If the figher needs conditioning - KBs.
If the fighter lacks technique - technique work (LOTS of technique work).

Address the weakness with the right tool and you look like a smart person to your client.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Very annoying...

I am allergic to cats - very allergic. Not the watery eyes and sneeze a bit type of allergy but a wheezing, chest constricting, trouble breathing type of allergy that always leaves me suffering for a few days as my lungs end up feeling "burned" from the attack.

Why bring this up? Because on Thanksgiving I spent a few hours at the house of a friend who owns a couple of cats and I am now in that "burned" lungs suffering period and it is very annoying.

I am a very fortunate person and enjoy a high level of health and performance and this is one of the only things that gets in the way for me. GRRRRR......

So - no training for the moment until my lungs get back to normal.

Monday, November 26, 2007

What are you reading?

I am currently reading "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin De Becker and have Steven Pressfield's "The War of Art" on deck and James Patterson's Double Cross in the hole.

"The Gift of Fear" is a fascinating look at our primal survival signals - I call it my "spidey sense" and recently had an experience that drove this home.
I was headed to the restroom (location to remain unknown) alone and as I passed by the entrance 4 young males entered the building and my "spidey sense" immediately went on full alert. And as I walked by I noticed they were headed the same direction I was headed - so I detoured to "grab a cup of coffee" on the way to the restroom and then headed back to where I had started and avoided being in a room alone with 4 people that made my "spidey sense" flair up.
Now I concider myself a physically capable person (but I avoid confromtation at all costs) and more than likely everything would have been fine - but then why did my primal fear signal go off?

Too often we talk ourselves out of listening to our primal senses.

And - have you seen the Kindle device on
It is a portable "electronic book" device - looks very promising.
Check it out.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Couple of things missing...

Some of you noticed but thought I would bring it to the front, there are a couple of things I started recently that were short lived. Namely - the Korte cycle and the VO2 Max training - why were they short lived you ask?

Basically they had a short life because of the light loading.
"Sprinting" with a light KB didn't feel good and the light volume approach to my PL training didn't feel good either.

I'll expand - "sprinting" with a light KB is something I am not ready for right now because I do not have the foudation of KB work to support that type of dynamic loading. There is a tremendous load from the sprint with a KB - regardless of the weight. Rif has written quite a bit on this so if you search his blog you can find wonderful information on the virtual load.
Does this mean that "sprinting" with a KB is bad - absolutely not - it is just something you need to be prepared to handle. So I am going to step back and work on a "density" training approach that I learned from Ethan Reeve. (I'll post a link to the information in another post)

A light volume approach to PL training will work for some but it does not suit me at all. Getting sore as hell from light weights is just annoying to me and a misapplication of the tool from a general perspective. I can operate at a very high percentage of my 1 rep maximum with a pretty high frequency. (I could launch into a discussion of muscle fiber types and a litany of "science" but the simple fact is that I have trained myself to handle heavy wieghts frequently and my individual physiology supports this). So I will be squatting around 2 times a week and will be looking to hit a new personal best at 3 sets of 5 reps.

How is it a misapplication of the tool - for me - I feel very strongly that when I put a barbell in my hands it is for Maximum strength work - period. This does not mean that you cannot use the barbell for other purposes - it just means I think you had better have a damn good reason for it.
If I want to work a metabolic circuit I will pick up a Kettlebell - so I keep my conditioning work separate from my max strength work. Do you?

So I continue to work on my Z drills and am preparing to integrate the I-phase drills into my practice. The wrist and foot/ankle drills are turning out to be very important for me. Where will I-phase take me?
Here is the original "Density Training" post by Ethan Reeve from the forum:

For those of you who do not know of Ethan Reeve - he is one of the elite strength coaches in the country - period. He is has a unique gift for blending PL, OL, KB and many other approaches into an effective training program.

To all concerned,

This may be a little different training than many are accustomed to:
I have had many types of athletes have great success increase their strength
as well as strength or power endurance doing what I term "density training"
For instance, let's say your goal for the 2 pood kettlebell clean-n-press is to do
12 reps in a row. First, you want to use double the voume of your goal which is
24 reps. You will only do this workout twice per week. You will start out
doing 12 sets of 2 reps in 12 mins. Meaning you start a new set every 60 secs.
At first your rest periods will be about 50-55 secs. After this becomes easy to
you move to 8 sets of 3 reps in 8 mins. When this becomes easy move to 6 sets
of 4 reps in 6 mins. When this becomes easy move to 5 sets of 5 reps in
5 mins. You will notice by now your rest periods become shorter as your reps
increase. After this becomes easy move to 4 sets of 6 reps in 4 mins. When this
has become easy for you I can promise that you will be able to do the 12 reps
goal on the clean-n-press. Using this formula I have had many, many athletes
perform between 30-45 reps on chinups in a row. I had one wrestler do 600 chinups
in 63 mins., he was a 3-time state champion.While I have had many other
athletes do between 400-500 chinups in 90-120 mins. Our goal at UT Chatt.
was to have 90+% of our wrestlers do 10 sets of 10 reps on chinups in 10 mins.
We started with 20 sets of 5 in 20 mins. then working to sixes to 7's to 8's
to 9's until we reached 10 sets of 10 in 10 mins. This took a period of 3
months to reach.
However, we then did the 100 reps each day throughout the season along with
our rope climbs, and 3x's per week power cleans, front squats, rdls,
standing presses, bent rows,dips, etc.

Let's say your goal is to do 2 pood kettlebell snatches for 40+40. The total
volume will be 80+80. Do this only twice per week. First you might do 40
sets of 2+2 in 40 mins.
When this becomes easy move to 26 sets of 3+3. Then move to 20 sets of
4+4 in 20 mins. Notice that at first your workout might only be snatches.
However, as you spend less time on the snactches you will be able to put
more lifts into your program.Then move into 16 sets of 5+5. Then 13 sets of
6+6 in 13 mins. After this becomes easy do 11 sets of 7+7, resting one minute
after completion of each set. Then work on 10 sets of 8+8, resting one mins.
after completion of each set. Once you have reached the 10's decrease the
volume to the goal volume because now you are going for pure quality. So,
you will do 4 sets of 10+10 with one mins. break after completion of set.
Then move 4 sets of 11+11. Then to 3 sets of 12+12. Then to 3 sets of 13+13.
Once you have reached 2 sets of 20+20 WITH ONE MINS. BREAK AFTER COMPLETION OF SET
you will be very clos to the 40+40 goal. My caution to you is that you will want to do
this only twice per week. It can be very taxing. Density training is basically
squeezing alot of volume into a short period of time to make it more quality.

If you have any questions, please reply!
In Strength,
Ethan Reeve

I can verify that is approach works - well.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

This should be a time for remembering not only what we have to be thankful for but also whom we are thankful for having in our lives - and I am a blessed man in these regards.

I am thankful for my family - without whom I couldn't have become the person I am today and the people responsible for providing me so many opportunities in my life.

I am thankful for my "significant other" - a positive and loving light in my life.

I am thankful for my friends - steady friendship, support, and sharing from people that I am lucky to be able to call friend.

I am simply thankful - for life, love and the world we share.

Thank you to everyone in my life - you are more important to me that you know.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Training today - 11/21/07

Squats - 405 x 2, 455 x 2, 495 x 2, 1, 515 x 1, 405 x 5

Bench w/ doubled monster mini bands
(+4" of band tension in a different power rack)
225 x 1, 185 x 1 (got stuck under the pins),
135 x 5,5,5,5,5

Squats felt great but the rep at 515 was above parallel. The set of 5 at 405 at the end was like an empty bar. So I am at a transitional point in my squat where 405-455feels very easy but above that I do start to feel the weight. I think I am going to work up my 5x5 from 405 and up to see where I can take it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Surprise myself sometimes...

I was demonstrating some very basics agility/footwork drills today and was shocked at how well I am moving now. It feels quick and efficient - light on my feet and fluid. Not how it used to be.

The combination of squats, KBs, and Z are providing me with a new level of mobility and efficiency. Gotta love it!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Quick training today:

Squats w/ doubled monster mini bands
315 x 5, 365 x 3, 405 x 2, 425 x 1, 365 x 2

DB Bench 100# x 5, 5
DB one arm row 130# x 5, 5

Quick but effective - hitting 425 for a single with the doubled monster mini's is a PR and the DB work was just a spur of the moment decision and felt good.

There will be some more substanative posts coming - thanks for hanging in there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It has been a pretty exciting and busy week...

Had to travel to Minneapolis to teach an FMS workshop and the announcment of the step up to Master Instructor in the RKC community so I had a great weekend but missed a couple of workouts and my deep seated defect of not being able to stay away from the heavier weights so today:

405 x 3, 455 x 2, 475 x 1,
405 x 3, 455 x 2, 475 x 1
Bench -
315 x 1,1,1 275 x 3

Felt good to go under the bar and move a bit of weight again - (don't know if I am going to be able to stay with the Korte cycle).
Hello my name is Brett and I am a squat-aholic and a load-aholic...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Training Today - 11/07/07

Squat 315 x 8 sets of 5
Bench 205 x 8 sets of 5
DL 345 x 6 sets of 5

I was VERY sore going into today's workout but had to buck up and get under the bar. And ended up having a very good day.

This Korte cycle is starting out tough and I might have a modification up my sleeve.
(as usual)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Just couldn't do it...

I couldn't take only squatting once a week! (Hello my name is Brett and I am a squat-aholic...)
So I started on the Korte 3x3 program today - 3x3 is a very misleading name for the program because the first 4 weeks are some pretty serious volume! ( has the full Korte articles for those interested) The name 3x3 comes mainly from the fact that you will performing all 3 lifts 3 times a week.

Today - 11/5/07
Squat - 315 x 6 sets of 5
Bench - 205 x 6 sets of 6
DL - 345 x 8 sets of 5

If I can walk on Wednesday I go back in for something similar.

The percentages are low (58% of a projected 1 rm) this week but the volume more that makes up for it. We will see if I can handle the volume. Very different for me ;)

And now a "shout out" to my friend and fellow Sr. RKC - Rif
If you haven't been catching Rif's blog I highly suggest that you check it out - here is an individual with 35 years of experience as a competitor, coach and trainer sharing his insights - it is not to be missed.

One of the amazing things about Rif is that he ended a high level Gymnastics career because of a double knee dislocation and severe shoulder dislocation - yet he went on to compete in distance running, bodybuilding, and powerlifting. Not the best sports for a knee that has less than 80 degrees of movement and a scarred down shoulder but Rif competed and at a high level. Yet people still knock him for his injuries and "training people the same way that injured him" - Nothing could be further from the truth.
Rif's injuries have nothing to do with Kettlebells, Z or foam rolling - these are the tools that are allowing Rif to restore his lost function and what makes him such a great trainer and coach. He has "been there and done that" and is now expanding into new techniques (Z).
Haters hate and will take cheap shots where they can but I for one count myself lucky to have Rif as a friend and fellow Sr. RKC. The opportunity to learn from someone of his experience is not to be missed.
Thanks Rif.

Congrats to Geoff Neupert for a successful return to the platform!

And Congrats to Aaron for pressing the bulldog and Franz for getting his program (I am reading - just not enough time to post to everyone)
And Mike Nelson - a question on the breathing stuff from your blog - are the drills I showed at the RKC in the right direction?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Training today - 10/30/07...

Squats - 405 x 3, 455 x 2, 405 x 3, 455 x 2, 405 x 3
MP - 135 x 3, 155 x 3,3,3,3

Squats felt very good and went very deep for all the reps - MP - well - I just have to work on that.

Otherwise - sticking with the Z and having fun.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

KB today - 10/28/07...

Get-ups 32 kg x 5 singles each side
two arm swings 32 kg x 10
KJ VO2Max - 16kg (15 sec on/15 sec off) x 40 sets
Windmill x 5 r+L (16 kg)

Loads of fun and cardio! (the horror...the horror...the horror...)

I will be waving the VO2max sets - 30 next workout - 42 the next - 35 the next etc...this will allow for more time to adapt and "enjoy" the Dane of Pain's torture.

Friday, October 26, 2007

KB training today: 10-26-07

Well - it has begun...My Gymboss timer is now my most hated possession!

All with the 16kg KB today:
TGU x 5 r+L
Windmill x 5 r+L
KJ's 15/15 VO2 max protocol x 32 sets (12 sets at 8 reps per set then the last 20 at 7 reps per set)
Windmill x 5 r+L

The gymboss works as promised - no escape - no relief - it just beeps when the time period is up. It may have an "accident" one day! ;)

Side note - I was SORE from the squats on Tuesday - very sore. Figured the band tension was around 550-575 at the top on the 405+ bands sets - no wonder!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Training today...10/23/07

Squats with doubled monster mini bands- 315 x 3, 3, 405 x 2, 365 x 2,
315 x 3

Military Press 135 x 5,5,5,4

I was going to stay light today but decided to throw a little weight on the bar. Just couldn't help myself.
Otherwise a pretty good workout.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Off to the RKC tomorrow...

Off to the October RKC tomorrow - much pain to inflict and information to share! ;)

My gymboss timer arrived today so the 15:15 snatch intervals begin next week. It has felt really good to have an easy week and let my body recover from the heavy loading.

Next week - back at it!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Meet report:

AAU Worlds in Orlando, FL
The good, the bad and the learning process...
Weigh in Thursday @ 195.5 (so far so good)
Turns out the 198's are competitive and some very good lifters are there (including a name I recognize from the records)
Squats: 1st - 474 (three whites), 2nd - 518 (three reds - just ran out of steam on the way up), 3rd - 518 (two whites)
Bench: 1st - 297 (three whites), 2nd - 318 (three reds), 3rd - 318 (three reds)
DL: 1st - 530 (three whites), 2nd - 573 (three whites, 3rd - 584 (three reds)
(5 for 9)
So: 518 - 297 - 573 = 1388 total

Placed Second in the Submaster Raw Full Power meet and 1st in the Submaster Raw Deadlift only

The Good:
A PR total, PR Squat, and PR DL (all meet PRs - which are different from gym PRs)
Came back to get my 518 squat on my 3rd attempt

The Bad:
Bench (nuff said)

The Learning Process:
Have to figure out how to eat during the meet - I am doing a piss poor job of fueling my body during the day
Timing is everything - timing eating, warm-ups, etc...
Peaking - the last four weeks before the meet were not ideal for a peak so I still need to actually peak for a meet

84 pounds to go to get Raw Elite - This will come primarily from continuing to increase my squat, actually hitting the bench press numbers I am capable of and working my DL a little.

All in all the meet was EXCELLENT - the AAU and the meet directors ran a great meet and the Disney complex was superb for the meet. 80 lifters and awards and all were done before 5 pm (lifting started at 9:30 am).

Now a few weeks of Z and Kenneth Jay's VO2 protocol - once a week squatting and I'll pick a PL meet in late spring.

Thanks for everyones support

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Off to Orlando tomorrow...

I fly out tomorrow morning to go to Orlando and the AAU worlds meet. Will post if I can but it is going to be a quick trip and I might just call Rif with the results and have him post something.

Going to have fun on Friday!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Quick training today:

Squats with Doubled over Monster Mini bands 315 x 1, 365 x 1
Bench 275 x 1
DL 425 x 1, 1

Quick and easy to prime the body for friday - during the squat cycle I was used to having my heavy days as my second squatting days of the week so I need to feel the weight early in the week.

Now rest and relax - the work has been done and now the time draws near - the culmination of about 6 months of prep for this meet.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

As far as "free advice" goes - this is some pretty good stuff!

From Jack Reape on the forum:

"A Peak is Worth a Thousand Plans!"

But for those who just need a little advice, this advice should cover most of it.

You need more mobility and balance.
You need to hone your technique.
You are not as conditioned as you think you are.
You need to work harder but maybe or maybe not more.
You need to add some muscle.
You need to do complex movements and single limb work, over single muscle drills.
You need to have balance in your life, and your training, and your portfolio.
You need more work with your feet on the floor.
You need to learn to think and plan for yourself.
You need to train at least some of the time with folks better than you.
You need to enter something and compete, even if only against yourself. Losing sucks but sucking sucks worse.
You need to keep a log.
It hurts because something is wrong.
You are sore because you did more than you are used to doing.
If you can't do a dip, leg raise, bulgarian squat, or pullup, just get to work.
You need to do more things that involve moving your torso(and sometimes with added load) through space.
You need to reconsider speaking or writing any sentence that contain the words "core", "tranverse abdominus", or "rhabdomyolysis". I withdraw this sentence. See?
MMA is probably not a good idea for you.
Did i mention mobility?


And from me regarding advice on "working injured or painful areas":
(also from the dd forum)
Just wanted to throw this out there since this is a place where people come for advice and different perspectives etc...

When someone asks for an exercise for a painful area - as a couple of people have done recently for low back pain - and people just provide exercises for said painful area - you are giving the wrong advice!

The scenario is this - Person A comes to the internet and asks "Area X hurts - so what can I do to work/exercise the area??"
The response should be: "Why is area X hurting?"
NOT - "Hey here are five exercises that will directly target your pain." (this is the same as recommending a person with a headache bang their head against a wall until the headache goes away)

If something hurts there is a reason and addressing that reason is the right course of action/advice - NOT targeting the symptoms by working the painful area.

Remember that the advice you dispense here is going to be taken literally by some and they will follow it - and you cannot know HOW they will apply it.
Also remember that when you receive advice through the internet that the source of that advice does not know you or your entire history - apply this advice with caution.

Also - consider the Risk to Benefit ratio of what you are doing - safety and being pain free is always the #1 rule and consideration of a training program.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Training today - 10/2/2007:

Squat - 475 x 1, 525 x 0, 1, 495 x 1

Bench - 275 x 2, 325 x 1, 315 x 1 (paused), 1

Overall a very good day - went to the gym today with lots of mental stress and lots of body/sleep stress but hit some PRs and had a solid day.
Missed the first attempt at 525 because I got kicked forward and out of position - so strip it - rerack it and hit the second attempt solid. When I get too upright in my decent I get kicked forward but I was able to nail the second one and a final rep at 495.
Bench was once again very solid - not arching is allowing me to hit a very good groove and the weights feel light. Also hitting a PR after squats is perfect.

Quick side note - and this will sound pathetic - but some of the plates for the squats were heavy so I feel pretty confident that the actual weight was upwards of 10#s heavier. This was confirmed by some of the other gym rats at my gym so that just gives me even more confidence.

Another side note - today was not a day most people would train hard or set PRs but it allows me to clear some mental clutter and dig down and set PRs in less than ideal situations. This is where deep strength is built.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Headed home for the weekend....

Going home to Virginia for the weekend - a family crisis has arisen and I need to be with my family this weekend.
Not sure if I will be able to post this weekend or not but hope everyone has a good weekend.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Training today - 9/26/07

An odd day - got off to a hell of a start when my car battery died this morning. This resulted in a 5 am car pushing workout on a gravel driveway - Not fun but had to get the car back far enough to get another car around to the battery so I could jump it.
Late for work and the battery died again once I got to the garage so I had to get another jump in the garage and then go get a battery. Fun stuff but hey...that's the way it goes.

Training - Deadlift - 425 x 1, 515 x 1, 565 x 1, 515 x 1

565 x 1 is a 5# PR and I will take it smiling all the way...Another Z - long spine, bone rhythm success I believe.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Training today 9/24/2007:

Fresh off the R phase cert and a PR to show for it...

Squat 455 x 1, 495 x 1, 1
Bench 315 x 2, 2

Hitting the squats felt good especially with a week and half to two weeks since I squatted last. And hitting 315 for two doubles is a big PR. Maybe those bone rhythms and R-phase drills are doing me some good ;)

I will write up an expanded version of my R-phase experience in the coming days.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Last day of Z Health R-phase...

Getting precise with the drills and the instruction makes all the difference in the world. Anyone can begin to use R-phase but to get all the benefit you need to learn the precise targets and forms. This appeals to me because I am always a detail oriented person.

All I can say is that I will be implementing Z with myself and my clients on a large scale.

Fun stuff and effective stuff.

Today we lift and apply the techniques doing some KB work and DL - will report later or tomorrow.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Quick update from Z-Health R-phase...

It has been a tremendous three days of training, education and information so far. A lot of things have fallen into place.
Can't really say much more right now as there are three more days of training to go and lots of work left to be done.

What I can say is that there have been many misperceptions about Z by myself and others. Really hard to describe right at this moment.

Three more days...

Friday, September 14, 2007

And this is why I am listening to my body...

Marc Bartley in his own words on his injury: (sorry for the cut and paste but couldn't figure out how to make it a link)

Basically he went into the meet with a few "injuries" but as he says he was setting PRs and making progress so he figured he had one more in him. Turns out he didn't. I have met Marc and can tell you his a great guy and one hell of a powerlifter. And I wish him all the success in the world during his recovery and training.

As for me this is validation of the fact that I should listen to my body and respect my Hamstring insertion pain.

I have made great gains in my squat this year and am very pleased with my progress but it also meant that I got strong enough to hurt myself. Perspective becomes skewed when you are used to operating at a certain level. So while 445 x 5 x 5 in the DL is not heavy for me conventional it is radically different Sumo style and during the end of a very heavy squat cycle.
Information overload also came into play as I tried to lay out a good peaking cycle for the meet. I am a low rep and low volume guy and need to stick with what works for me.

Off to the Z Health R-phase certification on Sunday so I will post when I can with observations etc..

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The scientific process goes boink...

A great line from Calvin and Hobbes (maybe - feel free to correct me if not) but it pretty much describes the current issue.

My hamstring attachment is fired back up from yesterday's deadlifts. Which means my designed peaking plan must be changed and modified to fit this new development.

This does not make me happy - having a recurrent problem is not what I want but I do have to deal with it. So it will be ice, massage, and taking it easy over the next few days and then off to Z R-phase to see what we can learn and find out there.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Training today - 9/12/07...

DL - 445 x 3, 475 x 2, 495 x 2,2,2

That was it. Short and sweet and felt pretty good.

Other than that I have just been trying to recover from the RKC weekend - naps and food.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Back from the RKC and Todays training - 9/10/07

Oh - and training from Thursday 9/06/07
Bench 255 x 5,5,5,5,5
DL 405 x 2,2,2,2,2

Squat 425 x 2,2,2,2,2
Bench 265 x 4,4,4,4

Felt great today dispite a VERY long weekend and 4 hours of sleep - squats were deep and easy.

RKC - Another great weekend!
Always a great pleasure to teach with Rif, Andrea, and Pavel - also the team leaders Jason, Pamela, and Jon - Dr. Mark Cheng and all of the other assistants- what a tremendous group of teachers and friends.
The students were great - very willing to learn and worked incredibly hard over the weekend.
The RKC system continues to grow and develop.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Off to the RKC tomorrow...

Work in the morning and then run to the airport and teach for three solid days so I might not get to post anything over the weekend.

Train well and have fun.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Training today - 9/4/07

Squats w/ doubled over monster mini bands
315 x 3, 365 x 2, 315 x 3, 365 x 2, 315 x 3

Bench 245 x 5,5,5,5,5

Felt pretty good today - felt the hamstring attachment a couple of times but no residuals to speak of so I think things are on the mend.
Squats felt solid and deep and felt good to go heavier with the 365 sets.
Bench was easy and solid - finding a much better groove for my benching which I couldn't find before because i kept trying to work at too high of a percentage of my max. Should work out well as I go along.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Improving and quick training from Saturday:

Bench 235 x 5,5,5,5,5
Pull-ups x 10,10,10
VERY light trap bar deads (just found it loaded light and did some sets to pump some blood into the hip/hamstring)

The hamstring attachment is improving - lateral ankle tilts, and elbow circles do help - although I suspect my form is not good enough to actually take care of the issue. I feel myself having too much tension and "rough" portions of the movements.
Z R-phase should be a great learning experience.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I am not immune...

I am not immune from the advice and consequences of not following my own advice (as much as I would like to be).

As a result of starting Sumo DLs at the end of my squat cycle I have irritated my right ischial tuberosity (or SITS bone) where the hamstrings attach. This started as a very minor irritation and grew until after Monday's workout it was pretty painful. Nothing torn or bad - just irritated and painful.

Z, foam roller, ice etc... and no squats or DL until next week.

Lessons learned - Sumo DLs and me just don't get along! Anytime I work these at all they bite me back and I end up with a less than desirable result.
This is a big one...
LISTEN to your body and DO NOT push into PAIN.

Not that I was having "pain" - but as Boyle says - any answer other than NO is a yes. I couldn't say no - so something was off and I should have stopped sumo DLs after the first session.

So I will be going back to conventional pulls and squats next week and listening very carefully to my body.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Training today - 8/27/07

Squats - 475 x 4 (belt only), 485 x 4 (belt and wraps)
Bench - 225 x 5,5,5,5,5
Sumo DL - 445 x 4,4,4,4

End of the 15 week Ryabinnikov squat routine - I will be writing up an article or extended blog on how this routine went, how I modified it etc...but suffice to say I am very pleased with the results and I am looking forward to NOT squatting for a week and then begin a short peaking cycle to the AAU meet.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Training today - 8/23/2007

Squats - 515 x 2 - belt only, 525 x x 2 (belt and wraps)
Bench - 215 x 8,8,8,8

A PR day! Very happy to be 20# above my previous max for a double.
Now I rest!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Training today - 8/20/07

Squats - doubled over monster mini bands +315 x 3,3,3,3
Bench - 205 x 8,8,8,8
Sumo DL 425 x 5,5,5,5 Conventional DL 425 x 5

Very pleased with the Squats - the band squats over the past couple of sessions have felt heavy (especially since I am hooking them under a pair of 130# DBs instead of the lowest pin of the squat rack - makes them about 4" off the ground) and these felt very good and overall had a really "strong" feeling day.

The Dls are touch and go right now which is new to me but giving me some nice grip work (which I didn't know had gotten so weak!)

Overall - a strong day and now I rest up and get ready for heavy squats on either Thurs or Friday - just depends on how I feel.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Mobility and Stability expanded...

Mike Nelson has a great blog today on the concept of Joint Mobility vs. Stability and I wanted to try to add my two cents worth in here because I have used the terms Mobility and Stability to describe a linking or alternating pattern through the joints in the body. And I think this has at times caused issues due to semantics.

When I reference the mobility and stability trail I am referring to the concept that from the ground up the Foot should be stabile, the Ankle should be mobile, the Knee should be stabile, the hip should be mobile, the low back stabile, the thoracic spine mobile, the scapula stabile and the gleno-humeral joint mobile.

Now the problem here is that the terms mobile and stabile carry different and multiple meanings depending on context and background.

When I say a "the foot should be stabile" - I am not saying that the joints and structures within the foot should not have their full range of motion - I am saying that the primary characteristic of the foot is that it maintains its arch under load and that it is stabile under load - NOT that it is locked down and lacks it's normal range of motion.

And when I say "the ankle should be mobile" - I am saying that it's primary characteristic is it's ability to move through its normal range of motion under load - NOT that it is sloppy and moves beyond it's normal range of motion and has no stability.

And the Mobility/Stability trail was meant as a guide to a joints "Primary" characteristic and what happens when one of these joints loses it's primary characteristic. For example if the foot/arch becomes sloppy (meaning it loses it's ability to hold the arch and moves beyond it's normal range of motion) then the ankle which now does not have the support of a normal arch and begins to move beyond it's normal range of motion - begins to stiffen up losing mobility.

So using the terms mobility and stability in the context of the primary characteristics of a joint under load leads to some misunderstandings when it is not viewed in that context. All joints should be stabile within their full and natural range of motion.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Squats - 505 x 3 - belt and wraps

Training Today - 8/17/07

Squats - 495 x 3 (belt only), 505 x 3 ( belt and wraps)
Bench - 195 x 8,8,8,8

Felt pretty good today - a bit of revenge on 505 which stopped me at one rep the last time I had it on my back.
Bench looks weak because I am starting a bench cycle at 60%.

Video of the 505 x 3 belt and wraps is coming after this post.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Training today - 8/14/07

Sumo DL 405 x 5,5,5,5,5

No belt - all reps felt good - actually these past two Sumo sessions are the best sumos have felt.

Now time to rest up and get ready for squats on Friday.

Check out Rick Walker's blog on the links below - a strong guy with a different spin on training than my own.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Training today - 8/13/07...

And the plan leading up to AAU in Orlando...

Squats - 455 x 5 (belt only), 465 x 5 (belt and wraps), 455 x 5 (belt and wraps)
Bench 185 x 8,8,8,8

Sets of 5 stink - in a painful long time under load way (my respect for those that have survived 20 reps with 405 has increased a great deal).
Bench is light and happy - part of the plan leading up to the AAU meet.

This is the first workout of the last three week cycle of the squat program and it just gets worse from here on out - the last four workouts are heavy and tough. Keep checking in and you will see.

The plan...
Surovetsky deadlift routine (modified of course and pulling sumo style for the touch and go days)
Butenko bench routine (modified of course - lower volume and more progressive loading plan)
Squats Monday and Thursday - Sumo Tuesdays - Bench Monday and Thursday - after the squat cycle ends I will pull some conventional DL on Saturdays.

Bench for the next two weeks will be 4 sets of 8. Next two weeks 5x5. Next two weeks 4x4. and then one week 3x3 and the final week 3x2. If all goes as planned then I should hit my current max (325) for sets of two during the last workout.

DL - sumo for now on the Surovetsky plan (progressing through 5x5, 4x4, 3x3 etc...) once per week - then add conventional pulls on Saturday working heavy.

Squats - finish the Ryabinnikov - take a week off and then work out a four week peaking routine and then a week off before the meet.

This will be the plan for the next 8 weeks - (one week off before the meet).

So tomorrow will be Sumo DLs - which should be fun after todays squats. And it might cause me to hold on the next squat workout until Friday.

BTW - if the above routines don't sound familiar you don't have PTTPM newsletter do you?? ;)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Training today - 8/9/07

Sumo DL - 405 x 5,5,5,5,5
Bench - 315 x 1+, 1

Sumo DL actually felt very good and I will post tomorrow or Saturday on my plan for the last 9 weeks leading into the AAU Worlds meet in Orlando.

Answers to Rick' questions on not "warming up":

Rick had some great questions that I felt we could pull out into a post for everyone and to continue the discussion.

Rick laid out his warm up or build up for his squats - which is 13 sets into it before his working weights. Now I know Rick a bit and know that he is coming back into PL after some injuries and time off and he is strong as hell - hitting 700+ in the squat and 600+ in the DL. Rick knows what he is doing for himself.

"do 1000 pound squatters perform more of a build up" -
Well here is Ed Coan's build up for his squat workout with a working weight of 850+ (From COAN - The Man, The Myth, The Method by Marty Gallagher)
135 x 10
255 x 8
455 x 5
550 x 3
655 x 3
745 x 1
805 x 1
top set of 850 x 5

So we see some pretty big jumps - average of over 100# jumps between weights. No mention of what gear Ed was using but he progressed in his gear over his 12-16 week cycles so it may be similar to Rick's progression.

In the end it is all in what you have trained yourself to do - I have trained myself to take some pretty big jumps in weight on my way up to my work sets - But everyone has to do what is right for them. But less time under stress (even very low %1rm) is less stress on the joints and system.

"isn't there just more wear and tear - pain - stiffness - from more years in PL - does handling these kinds of weights wear you down over time" (I am paraphrasing so if I am incorrect let me know)

Pushing to the limits in any activity is not usually considered a good "health plan" - As Rif says - If you push for your limits - you will find them!
So yes - over the years and constantly grinding out maximal lift after maximal lift will take a toll on the body. Endurance cycling and running is well known for causing all sorts of injuries and medical problems as well.

However - I think a good program of Joint Mobility (Z-health), Foam roller and other Soft tissue techniques (massage, NMT, ART, etc...), recovery techniques (yoga, legs up wall pose and inversions especially, breathing, contrast bath/showers and proper nutrition) AND the biggest one - Not Pushing through and into PAIN - taking a step back instead of pushing through is the better course.

That last one may get me kicked "out of the PL club house" - but there it is! Training through injury pain is not wise but almost everyone does it.
I have been injured (back surgery anyone) and don't want it again - so I respect my limits and my body.

These health and recovery techniques will add years to a training career and help to prevent or mitigate the "inevitable" issues of being a competitive athlete.

At least this is where I stand on the subject now as a 36 year old lifter and someone who wants to accomplish my goals in powerlifting and then move on to other pursuits.

Video of 315 x 1+ Bench press today -

1+ because I had a bit of help on the 2nd rep and only get credit for the 1st one.
Bench was raw - no shirt.

First rep felt very solid and easy.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Build up sets...or How to not "warm up" for lifting...

I do not "warm up" for my lifting - after a couple of bodyweight mobility squats I perform a build up to my work sets.

No I am not crazy (much) and I do this for a good reason...I am not after a "workout" I am after results...too much of a "warm up" becomes a whole other workout in my opinion.

And keep in mind that I am performing some sort of Z-health drills, foam roller, stretch/mobility work everyday (Yes - this is quickly becoming Z alone but you have to work with what you have) - so I am loose already (so to speak).

So this is how a typical squat day will go...
The build up for yesterday's workout - first work set @ 445
Bodyweight mobility squats x 1 or 2
Empty bar x 3-5
135 x 3-5
225 x 3-5
315 x 3-4
405 x 2 (add belt)
First work set

For last Thursday's training with a first work set of 495...
BW mobility squats x 1
empty bar x 3-5
135 x 3-5
225 x 3-5
315 x 3-5
405 x 1 (add belt)
455 x 1
First work set - 495 x 2

The build up sets are simply to get my groove and prepare my neurological system for the load - true my muscles, joints, etc... are "working" to handle the load but I look at the build up sets as a neuro prep.
(And I rest a LOT between sets.)

If you are 1/2 an hour into your training before you are "loose" enough to get under the bar or you have doubled my volume in your "warm up" - you might want to ask yourself why you need a workout to get ready for your workout.

Powerlifters especially mistake stiffness for stability and accept loosing range of motion and freedom of motion as inevitable results of the training - and the "tighter" they are the better they can handle the load. And everyday trainees begin to accept loss of function and mobility are the result of aging etc...
I strongly disagree!

If you cannot move freely or efficiently you have a problem with your program - period!
And taking 1/2 your training time just to "oil" the joints enough to train is an indicator that you need to step back and re-evaluate what you doing.

So there you have bit of a long winded explanation of how I build up to my work sets.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Training today - 8/06/07...

Squats 445 x 4 (belt only), 455 x 4, 4 (belt and wraps)

And that was all I had time for - the squat program called for 435 today so you can see I continue to modify the program and bump where I can and performing the first sets belt only (the program calls for wraps on all sets after the second cycle).
The last three week cycle will be interesting - looking at some of the numbers coming up I will be challenged to keep performing the first set with the belt only - but that is what makes all of this so much fun!

Geoff has had some great posts recently on Z Health so check out his blog (link on the right)

Rif continues to pump out great stuff - with his recent "clients are not some other species of human with a different physiology" talk - remember if you are bored with your routine it isn't heavy enough. Check his blog on the right...

Aaron Friday had a good post a few days ago on some money related issues - very timely in this volatile market and times - link on Rif's blog....

I will be on a phone interview with Zach Even-Esh tomorrow so that will be interesting - I am really looking forward to speaking with Zach.

As I begin to study and practice Z in preparation for Sept I am finding some interesting stuff - movements that I feel should be smooth that are not and just standing in neutral stance with out my quads contracting takes some effort. This is very interesting stuff.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Training today - 8/2/2007

Squats - 495 x 2 (belt only), 505 x 1, 1 (belt and wraps)

KB MP 40 kg x 2, 2

Pull-ups +45# x 5, 5

Swings 40 kg x 5 sets of 10 reps (two arm, Alternating, Left, Right, side stepping)

Very nice to take my previous max and double it!

Feeling good - And - a big decision today...

I am registered for the R-phase Z-health certification in Durham, NC - Sept 17-22 - 6 days of 9am-6pm training in R-phase.

Guess I was thirsty and wanted some kool-aide!! ;)

Video of 495 x 2 - belt only squats

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Core - continued...

Gentlemen - i hope you don't mind me bringing this out to another blog post but I think this is certainly important enough to continue here...

Franz - Thank you for the info and the article reference...

And Thank you Keats for dropping by and adding to the discussion...
Keats Snideman CSCS, LMT, NMT said...
Hey Franz, thanks for the plug for the article I wrote!

I think most coaches in the know are probably saying the same thing; the primary torque/strenth producers are the hips/thighs. The lower back and trunk should only serve as a conduit for transfering force through to the extremities.

Some mobility and light strengthening exercise should be performed for maintaining adequate lumbar rotation however. Since rotation is very important to specific life and sporting situations, it is better to focus on teaching people to twist through the thoracic spine, as this is where rotation occurs much more easily.

Geoff Neupert said...
Brett--I think I need to clarify even further: since load can be velocity dominant or force dominant, the context in which I was speaking was force dominant. Of course the spine--all of it, must be able to move under the load of velocity and still protect the spinal cord. Failing to train the body to handle these movements is setting up for an injury.

That being said, mobility work should be trained first then loaded either through velocity or load second.

I find myself working very basic core activation and timing drills with my clients and cueing Long Spine and that is where most of my perspective is coming from as far as basic "core" issues.
Ensuring optimal mobility and optimal stability is the ultimate goal and must be determined by the goal activities and stresses that the individual will be facing. So once the basics (mobility and bracing) are dialed in - then attack the movements and demands specific to the goals (force and/or velocity).

And Keats' points about thoracic spine rotation are key as most see the t-spine as an immobile area. As Geoff said - the spine - all of it - must be able to move under both stresses. And it must produce the segmental stability to protect.

BTW - Sounds like you had a great time at the Z health seminar.

I break it down between - Core Activation, Core Timing, and then get to Core "training" (overhead work anyone??, planks, roll-outs etc...). Comments....

Monday, July 30, 2007

Training today - 7-30...

Squats w/ doubled monster mini bands - 315 x 2,2,2,2,2
(secured these around some Dumbbell handles and added several inches of band tension vs. my regular squat rack pin set up)

Bench - all reps Paused - 275 x 3,3,3

DL 475 x 2,2,2

Squats felt good and that added band tension is loads of fun.
Bench - felt good - came out of all pauses with speed.
DL - found my groove again - need to pull every now and then - been too long from the DL.

Thursday will be heavy squats and I am already starting to look forward to it!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Training today -

Squats - 465 x 3 (belt only), 475 x 3, 3 (belt and wraps)
Bench with Doubled Monster Mini bands (each rep paused) 185 x 3,3,3,3,3
DL - 445 x 2, 495 x 1, 1, 445 x 1

I am amazed at the impact of Monday's workout. Very sore yesterday and today - which made today's squats VERY fun! Squatting on "not quite recovered yet legs" is a treat.
Bench felt good and pausing on each rep was fun - thanks Rick.
DL was a bit rough after not having pulled in a while and some "heavy" squats on "not quite recovered legs" - but still pretty good.

Thats it - I will have some more tomorrow as I have several thoughts floating around in my head.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Function of the Core....

Geoff Neupert proposed this for the function of the core: 1. Produce non-compressible cyclinder to protect the spine against external load; 2. TRANSMIT force via rotation, etc.

I countered with the idea that I feel the job of the core is to prevent rotation/movement not produce movement.

Then Geoff and I spent some time on the phone and discovered that we were a lot closer on things than these two statements would appear.

When you get into a debate of semantics and internet one dimensional statements a lot can get lost in the process.

Geoff pointed out that the lumbar spine can and should rotate as it is designed to do and should do as a part of normal movement. And I agree (except under load - which we both agreed to) But it should not move beyond those norms and should be a part of the power, movement, and transition of energy from the hips. Very rarely are we in a situation where the spine should "create" movement independent from the hips.

Maintaining "long spine" (it really isn't any more complicated than it sounds - pretend there is a string through your spine out the top of your head and someone is trying to pick you up by the string) is a key we both felt was very important to core activation and function.

So we ended up being far closer and agreeing on this but if you look at the internet conversation it appears different.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Continuing the discussion...

Rick and Geoff (I will hit Geoff's comments tomorrow) have had some great comments and questions and I wanted to continue the discussions...

Rick had asked about individual variances in program design and the fact that some people can handle much greater workloads than others. And all I can say is yes.
Individual variation is a huge factor but instead of wondering where that variation lies I would recommend beginning a program at the low volume I recommended and building slowly from there until you find "the sweet spot". This can result in a little bit of a porridge discussion (too hot, too cold, just right for those of you not getting the analogy).
You will more than likely build the volume to a "too hot" level (too much work - decrease in performance) - then back off to a too cold level (not enough work - no real progress) and then find the "just right" level - (right amount of work and continued progress).

Expanding on this - I recommend a base of low volume strength training - but I implement "volume" routines a couple of times a year such as the squat cycle I am on now and the RSR (russian squat routine for my deadlift in the past) - the issue comes when you never step down from the "peaking" or volume routine. That is when you are looking for trouble.

Most people I talk to are amazed that I squat 2 x a week - so there we get into a discussion of where your max and your training level are for you. If your max is 1000 in the squat then I would expect you to be able to knock reps with 500 any day of the week and twice on Sunday. If your max is 1000 and you try to keep pushing 900 around you are headed for a fall.

So planned periods of higher volume based off of and returning to a lower volume base is the way to look at it. And people do train themselves to handle sick workloads but I prefer to find out how little I can do and still make progress.

And -

We also get into individual diet, sleep and recovery habits - Proper nutrition and 8+ hours of sleep a night are said to help with recovery (not that I would know anything about that!). So stress from commuting, work, family, money, etc....all zap recovery ability and have to be taken into account. It is the rare individual that can commit their life to the demands of optimal recovery and survive some of the training protocols out there.

So - Combine life, recovery and training and see where things balance out and you can never remove the x-factor of the genetic marvel who comes along and can just do things others cannot.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Squats Good - Bench Bad...

Squats - 425 x 5 (belt only), 445 x 5, 5, 5 (belt and wraps)

Bench - 315 x 1

Squats Good - Groove was good and deep - bar felt light. The program called for 415 x 4 sets of 5 reps today but decided to modify it in my way (which I have been doing all along).

Bench Bad - Just wasn't feeling it groove on my bench and probably still feeling the bands from last monday and I had to take an Imodium today due to some stomach issues. Some days are like that...

I had pulled my right quad last Monday after attempting a sprint with some high school kids I am working with and took it very easy on it last week with lots of ice sessions - didn't feel it at all during the squats. Dodged a bullet I think.

Overall - all is well.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A follow up to the Michael Boyle article...

After reading through the article a few more time and reading the discussion that followed on T-Nation I have a few points to add to the discussion.

Volume - Boyle alludes to the fact that most routines include too much volume and I agree. Some people went nuts but as I am more convinced that reading comprehension is at a very low level for some people it seems people are not getting the point.
The point is that for basic STRENGTH training needs a low volume is all that is required. Note that I emphasize strength training because people are trying to use strength training for conditioning - and they need to stop it!

One of my favorite sayings is "I am after results - not a workout." Strength training is about getting stronger - Period. And I prefer to find a "minimal" level of time and work to accomplish this. "To eliminate the excess" as Bruce Lee said - So I Squat, I Bench, and I Deadlift.
My only variety is in adding jumpstretch bands and manipulating intensity and total # of reps. And I rest a LOT more than I used to - as the weight gets heavy you need to rest more.

So people get confused because they want to leave the gym having had a "workout" - get over it if Strength is your goal. 2x5, 3x3, 6x1 can and should form the base of a strength training program. 5x5 is as high as I would go on volume.

Later in the article Boyle points to the fact that work capacity is where "conditioning" should be focused. And I agree. Kettlebell, sprints, intervals, jumprope, burpee (and other bodyweight drills), and sport skill drills can be mixed as needed to address conditioning and the need to have experienced a "work out". Also of note here is that "Sport Specific" conditioning can and should refer to "work capacity" training made specific to the work:rest ratio of the goal activity. Period.
The weight room is not for "conditioning".

The exception to this rant - Kettlebell, barbell and bodyweight combos for fat loss - you can create combos with "lighter" weight and little rest that are very effective for weight loss (see Cosgrove, Ballentine etc... for details) - BUT these are not strength training - they are weight loss combos - BIG difference.

My solution - focus on the big 3 (squat, bench, deadlift) for strength and then focus on KB swings, snatches, high pulls for conditioning. That's it.

Abdominal issues:
McGill is continuing to gain popularity - This is a good thing!
Boyle now likes the Full Contact Twist (or variations there of) and didn't even know it. See Pavel's Bullet Proof Abs for details.
Planks, roll-outs (performed correctly) and Full contact twist - look no further when combined with your squatting and deadlifting.
And further confirmation that the roll of the "Core" is to prevent rotation and movement - NOT produce it.

And just as Gray Cook voiced frustration with the "functional training" crowd - Coach Boyle does the same and for pretty much exactly the same reasons - 1) light weights waved around in anything but "functional" patterns and 2) a lack of actual strength training.
Somewhere along the way we forgot that strength is a good thing - As long as movement skill is maintained and/or enhanced.

Great stuff...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Great Michael Boyle article over at T-nation...

One of the things I admire about Boyle is his willingness to re-evaluate and progress his position on training and his beliefs based on his current information and experience. Others have their opinion and do not want to be confused with the facts.

Do I agree 100% with Boyle - no - but I don't have to and the fact that I don't always agree with him but still read everything I can that he writes should demonstrate the level of respect I have for him. Disagreement is good. Coach Boyle is very smart and has logged some serious hours training athletes and individuals of all levels. There is much to be learned from him.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Training today....

Squats 425 x 4 (belt only), 445 x 4, 4 (belt and wraps)
Bench with Doubled Monster Mini Bands
225 x1, 245 x 2, 235 x 2, 225 x 2, 185 x 2,2 (paused)

Felt good today - I am hitting the first set as called for in the squat program with belt only and then adding some weight and hitting the remainder of the sets with the wraps - seems to be working out well.
And by the end of each three week cycle I am ready for the extra days off.
Bench felt good - heaviest I've gone on band benches and with the heavier bands.

Otherwise - still trying to simplify my life.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A new email address:

In an effort to simplify my life and increase my effectiveness and productivity I will be eliminating my multiple email accounts and reducing them to one account that I will check once per day.

The new email address is:

Please make any necessary changes to your address books etc... and Thank you for assisting me in this effort to simplify my life.

Video of 475 x 2 Squats with belt only - felt very good.

Training today:
Squats 475 x 2 (belt only), 495 x 2,2 (belt and wraps)

Build up: Bar x 5, 135 x 4, 225 x 3, 315 x 3, 405 x 2, 445 x 1 - work sets...

And called it a day - Fun to hit some doubles with my previous max!

And here is a link to the other vid of 495 x 2 with belt and wraps...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Just a bit to think about:

Life is not a zero sum game.

Meaning - some people view life and success as one pie (a finite amount of resources and opportunity to go around) - and this means that if some one has a bigger slice than I have to have a smaller slice.

I choose to view life as a world with many pies (opportunities for success and resources) of many sizes.

Do not fear competition and someone having a "bigger slice of the pie" - we can all create our own success and have lots of pie.

Goofy but it gets the point across.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Here is a quick picture of Kentuck Knob - another Frank Lloyd Wright house here in PA - I have to say I am amazed by his designs and creations. You have to see them to believe them. The terrace and the hexagonal designs on the house are amazing.

Quick training today:

Squats with doubled over Monster Mini bands
315 x 2,2,2,2

Bench with doubled over Monster Mini bands
225 x 2,2,2

Had to get it done today but all felt good - the set up was bit different as I was in a different gym from my usual place. So the bands were about 8-10" further down and added a LOT more tension on the squat - but it felt good.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Squats and 3 hours sleep...

Due to some neighbors partying until Midnight I got about 3 hours of sleep last night - just perfect for a heavy squat workout!

Squats - 455 x 3 (belt only), 3 (belt and knee wraps), 465 x 3 (belt and knee wraps
335 x 3 paused no belt or wraps

And that was it - Quick and fun!

Wraps were a little better today - as I figure them out I suspect they will provide a pretty big bump but right now I am keeping them moderate to loose.

Overall - with 3 hours sleep and a fairly busy day - I will take it.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy Independence Day!!

Enjoy the 4th of July - Have a fun and safe holiday!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Training Yesterday and Today and something new...

Today - July 2
Squats 405 x 5, add knee wraps x 5
425 x 5,5 with knee wraps
315 x 5 paused

Bench 315 x 1+, 1+, 1+

First session with the knee wraps - very odd.
Bench was singles at 315 with a forced rep after each single.

Yesterday - July 01
Sunday - Mow lawn for warm up
40kg KB for all drills except the pistols
Windmill x 3 r+L
MP 3 sets of 2 reps r+L
One arm row 3 x 5 r+L
SLDL 3 x 5 r+L
Pistols 8kg KB x 3 x 3 r+L
Snatches 4 sets of 3 reps each arm

Basically ran out of time but did enjoy the KB work - really need to keep this up for balance in the routine.

The knee wraps were very odd - not sure how they are going to affect my form but did feel good enough to go 20# heavier on my sets of 5. I am going to try to continue to do the first set of each workout without wraps to maintain the feel.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Getting started into the FMS...

Start with Athletic Body in Balance by Gray Cook -this book will lay the philosophical basis for screening and introduce you to the self screen.
Then the Advanced Functional Movement Screening DVD set will run you through the seven tests, how to score them and how to implement Corrective drills.
The testing kit makes it easy to perform the tests on clients or groups so it would be a good investment.
The poster set is meant as a handy reference guide to testing, stick work and corrective drills for the seven tests. (Lots of information here)

Hopefully that will answer some questions re: which materials to look into for the FMS.
Please let me know if you need any additional information.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

FMS information...

After my presentation at the RKC Level 2 this weekend there was a great deal of interest in the full day and a half FMS workshop so here is some information on the coming trainings...
Indianapolis, IN July 20-21
Boston, MA August 24-25
Phone registration - 800-556-7464

RKC Level 2 - Wrap-up...
What a great weekend! Pavel lead the show off on Friday with a detailed teaching of the 5 Level 2 drills and continues to amaze me with the depth of knowledge and techniques he has available.
I had the first half of the day on Saturday and presented a 2 hour lecture on the Functional Movement Screen and some neurological based strength training information. This was followed by a 2 hour practical section where the attendees were able to learn some immediately applicable screening and corrective strategies.
Kenneth Jay presented a great talk on cardiovascular adaptations to KB exercise and how to maximize the cardiovascular effects of KB training. Then the attendees had a practical demonstration of the theory. ;)
Sunday got off to a start with a wonderful presentation by Andrea DuCane on working with deconditioned populations. Great tips and techniques for starting off in a very basic manner and progressing to more advanced moves.
Rif followed with a talk on length/tension relationships - what they mean and how to find them and how to address them (foam roller and other techniques). Staying "neutral" and plumb is so key.

All in all there was a huge mountain of information provided the attendees and I was very happy to be a part of it. The attnedees themselves were great - Wonderful to see familiar faces again and spend time with old and new friends.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Held hostage by NWA and the end of the second - three week squat cycle...

NWA was kind enough to cancel my flight home last night and leave me stranded in Minneapolis over night costing me another vacation day and missed appointments - I have a hard time believing that there wasn't any way to get me home last night but they were unable to find an option. "Schedule change" - they said - Well my schedule didn't change! Travel really sucks at times!

But they finally did get me home this afternoon and I was able to fit in some training:

Squats 405 x 4,4,4,4,4

Bench with doubled over Monster Mini bands - 225 x 2,2,2,2,2

This was the end of the second- three week squat cycle and now the knee wraps go on and the weights get a bit heavier - should be fun!

I will be returning emails and phone calls tomorrow - time to eat and sleep.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Training today:

Squats 455 x 2,2,2,2

And that was it! Really feeling the lack of sleep, a very busy schedule and a really bad telephone book tear today.

A friend of mine wanted to see a telephone book tear so I grabbed one from home and decided to have a go at it - well it turned out to be a toughie and I had a fight on my hands. Took a good bit out of me and I was already feeling the band squats from Monday and such... so it made the squats today all that much more interesting.

But it went pretty well - as soon as the video is uploaded to youtube I will post it here (one set of 2 at 455).

Off to the RKC Level 2 tomorrow - will post if I can but probably going to be a very busy time.

Have a great weekend
Video of 455 x 2 squats - belt only:

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pics of my Band squat set up and today's training:

Squats 365 + doubled over mini bands x 2,2,2,2,2
Bench 325 x 1, 315 x 1+(negative and assisted concentric)

Pressed for time and that is all I could fit in - 325 wasn't pretty (drifted back a bit far but was an OK rep) - the first rep at 315 felt very good.
Squats - on the squat cycle I am on it called for 365 x 4 sets of 6 reps but I changed it to a band squat day and will be keeping the bands in on this day of the three week cycles.
Recovery and Sleep and Bands...

I finally logged some serious sleep time on Saturday night into Sunday and then gave it all back last night while trying to finish some DVD editing and preparations for the week ahead. My inability to say no and ending up taking on every project that comes across my table doesn't mix well with trying to have a "life" and spend time with loved ones and friends. Which means I will be turning down projects and opportunities in the future and seeking a better balance for my professional and personal lives.

Bands - I have been asked - "what is the point of training with bands?" What do they do for you? Well in the most simple terms they are a form of compensatory acceleration training but also much more. The band (when set to add resistance) is trying to pull you into the ground on the eccentric portion of the lift and then you have to turn around and "beat" the band to the top of the movement on the concentric portion of the lift.
It is a method of increasing the tension, speed and difficulty of a lift without increasing the bar weight. But working against the band certainly ends up increasing poundage on the lift.
For me it has dialed in and improved my squat form and speed from un-racking the weight to completion of the lift and the same for the bench (overloading lock-out and keeping me driving into the bar).
There are probably more scientific explanations about force vectors and variable resistance over ranges of the movement but I simply like to think of the band trying to crush me on the way down and having to "beat" the band back to lockout. It places you under increased tension while having to produce more bar speed - two very good things!

Basically - get some bands and use them. If things go well I will post some pics of my band squat set up later today.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Training today:

Squats - 425 x 3,3,3,3,3

DL with doubled mini bands - 315 x 2,2,2,2,2

And called it a day - still feeling the 5x5 on Monday and a lack of sleep is making this weeks training a little tougher than it should be. DL with the bands was interesting - I doubled them around a 100# plate and then took the two strands of the band over the bar outside of the weights (I'll try to get a pic next time) - felt pretty good - just gotta play around with it.

Otherwise - I'm doing well. Just need some sleep.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Squat breath vs. Deadlift breath...

During my deadlifts last week I realized that I had confused my breathing set up from my squat to my deadlift - not a great idea. But these are the things that happen when you don't practice a lift consistently enough.

For squats - since the bar is held across the back above the center of gravity - setting the upper back and wedging the chest underneath the bar is so important and there is a different breathing set up for this. The breath is initially deep into the belt but then up into the chest. This is part of the wedge and upper back setting and bar position (low bar). This setting of the breath and upper body assist in taking the load of the bar properly along the spine and provides a stable platform from which you use the legs and hips.

For the Deadlift - since the bar is held in the arms below the center of gravity you want to set the breath low into the diaphragm and belt and "pre-compress" the chest and abdomen to take the load of the bar. This means that when you begin to drive from the legs and hips the already compressed abdomen and chest will "link" up and support the weight that is hanging from the arms and being lifted through the body.

So I had confused my set up breaths and I rushed my set up at the bar by gripping and "dipping - gripping - and ripping" without being fully wedged and prepared for the lift.

This is the concept of Strength as a Skill in action - without practicing a lift or movement you will "lose" parts of that skill. So it is back to the deadlift bar for me! (at least once a week)

Monday, June 11, 2007

A highlight reel from the Danish RKC May 2007 -
Some Kettlebell, Juggling KBs, Bending, Tearing, etc...Loads of fun - Enjoy!

Training today:

First day of the second - three week cycle of the squat routine:

Squat 385 x 5,5,5,5,5

Bench w/ doubled mini bands 225 x 2,2,2,2,2

Squats felt good - and the bands on the bench felt very good. More on the blog soon re: breath set up for the DL vs. the Squat and bands.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Off to the RKC...

Leaving shortly for the June RKC - I will post if I can but back on the grid on Monday for sure.

Enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

My first DL in a few weeks - quick at the lockout but hey...

Bench and DL today:

Bench with Doubled over Mini bands
205 x 3,3,3,3,3,3

DL worked up to: 495 x 1, 545 x 1, 565 x 0, 495 x 1

Bench felt good - couldn't have done this a few weeks ago - I remember my first band bench day and 205 with the bands felt pretty darn hard for a double - so I am pleased with todays bench. Me thinks the bands are good!
Need to put the DL back in the rotation - felt really good on 545 (which is over 95% of my max) but when I went for a 5# PR after not having deadlifted in quite some time I realized that my set up was bit off (mainly my breath) so I need to groove my DL a bit and be able to ride my squat increases into my DL.

I will post a couple of pics of my band bench set up.

Monday, June 04, 2007

End of the first three week cycle of the Squat Routine...

Squats 385 x 4,4,4,4,4

And called it a day - this is what being lazy over the weekend and lack of sleep will get you!
And I looked back at the squat cycle and realized that I had performed an extra set of squat my last workout - but more is better - right?

Overall feeling very good - just low on energy due to lack of sleep and need to hit the roller and stretching over the weekends and not be such a lazy ass.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A look back through the training log...

A question on the forum got me thinking about my training log so I decided to take a quick look back through it since I started squatting.

March 29, 2006 - my first squat workout (3 sets of 3 reps @ 315) - What is of note here is that I had not been under the bar to squat since injuring my back during a bad squat attempt in March or April of 2003 which resulted in L5-S1 laminectomy in Sept. of 2003. So stepping back under the bar was a big deal for me.

It is now June 2007 and I am in the midst of a 15 week squat cycle to begin prepping for the AAU World's in October in Orlando, FL. My gym max is 495 (which I am confident is actually a good bit higher at this point) and I am aiming for 525 or so in Orlando.

So in the 14 months since I started squatting (1 to 3 times a week)- I have maybe taken 4 weeks off from the squat. And the only "special" exercise I have implemented for it has been the addition of Jumpstretch Bands (mini bands). Consistency is the key - hard work, cycling of volume and intensity and squatting. My only "gear" has been a PL belt. I have focused on grooving my form and squatting to legal depth on every squat.

I am much stronger as a result of my time under the bar. Thicker and a bit heavier (volume + heavy = weight gain) which may have me looking at competing in the 198's. (But we shall see) My deadlift has climbed without focus on it (we will see where it is this coming Wed or Thursday). And I have discovered that I really love to squat!

If you are not keeping a training journal - you are making a HUGE mistake. Whether on line or in notebooks you must have a record of your efforts.

Another Gem from the DD forum today - SSGlass posted about how an abbreviated program of Clean and Press and Swings was all you needed for your "fitness" routine. And I would mirror this in the PL world - Squat if you want to improve your squat, Bench to improve your bench, and DL to improve your DL - Consistency is the key!

Simple doesn't mean easy!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Training today:

Squats 435 x 2,2,2,2,2

MP 40kg x 2,2,2

Pull-ups 45# x 5, 90# x 2, 70# x 3

I heard the voice of Jack Reape in my head today as I was preparing for my workout - the plan called for 430 - which meant pulling out the 2.5# plates (which Jack has painted pink to discourage their use) - and I thought "I can't do it - what would Jack say?" and decided to run with 435 for today! Thanks Jack - i think ;)

Squats are feeling very solid - today was a bit of a push to hit the heavier session so soon after the band squats on Tuesday but I felt I could do it and needed to get back on schedule.

Recovery this weekend and then squats Monday.

Here is a pic of Falling Water - it simply does not do it justice but you can get an idea.
Brilliant design and a beautiful setting.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Training today...

Squats w/ doubled mini bands 315 x 6,6,6,6
Bench 275 x 1, 315 x 1,1 (hit the pins but completed the rep),1,1
The squat program called for 345 x 4 sets of 6 reps but I decided to change the program a bit to include the band squats since I feel that they are helping my squats.
Bench was good - four singles at 315 is a PR I think- I hit the pins on one rep - I seem to be having a tendency to drift back with my right arm but was able to correct this a bit on the last rep.
A very nice weekend...

Two highlights from this weekend - a visit to Falling Water (the Frank Lloyd Wright designed house) and a visit to the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pa.

Falling Water is fantastic. Truly spectacular - I will try to post a picture later. In addition to two Picasso originals, two Vega originals, and few very famous Japanese prints - the house itself is a true work of art. Really has to be seen to be appreciated and I will be going back for more in depth tours.

The Flight 93 Memorial (it is a temporary memorial for now with a completed memorial slated for 2011) was far more powerful than I had expected. The site is very basic right now but filled with memorials, mementos, and emotion. The staff did a great presentation of the events of that tragic day and the 40 lives lost. Wreckage was recovered up to 65 feet in the ground at the impact sight and you can still see the scorched trees. The flight recorder showed that the auto pilot had been reset for Washington DC - How different that already tragic day could have been.

So - some good food, beautiful driving, and powerful sights - a very nice Memorial Day weekend.
I hope yours was great as well.

Back to the squat rack later today for an easy day of squatting.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend...

I will be out of town for some R&R starting later today and will be back on the grid on Monday or Tuesday.

I feel it is important at this time to remember that Memorial Day is a chance to remember those that have paid the ultimate price for our country. A fact which humbles me and makes me very thankful to be an American and to thrive in the opportunities provided me by those individuals.

Enjoy the weekend and have some fun!
"So what experiences prepare someone to be an effective trainer?"

This was the question (an excellent one BTW) from C.Sheridan in response to my "Base of Knowledge" post below. What experiences/qualifications prepare someone to be an effective trainer? Let's dive into that for a bit...

For me - I feel that my Bachelors degree in Sportsmedicine from High Point University in North Carolina and my years as an Athletic Trainer were primarily responsible for my base of knowledge. It gave me a strong foundation in anatomy, physiology, evaluation and rehabilitation of athletic injuries, and teaching and "coaching" experience. Not a bad way to start out.
Next on the education list is a Master's of Science in Rehabilitative Science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania while I was working as a graduate assistant Athletic Trainer. Now I will let you all know that the Rehabilitative Science degree is in Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation - not physical rehabilitation. What does a drug and alcohol rehab degree have to do with being a personal trainer? Glad you asked - It provided me with a depth of knowledge in human behavior patterns and modification of those patterns. And accomplishing one's goals and actually implementing changes in behavior are intimately connected.

That is the academic stuff - but what is not listed is all of my "non-academic" research study and experimentation. I started reading and experimenting with training myself in junior high and has taken many forms...I have been fat (40" waist), fit, strong, weak (deconditioned), a runner, a bodyweight exercise guy, a weightlifter, a kettlebell guy, a HIT Jedi, a functional training guy, and I have been injured (surgeries etc...) and I have rehabbed myself...

During these years of personal experimentation I have read and studied voraciously - seeking to understand any and all of the techniques I was using on myself and others - a complete list would be too long and boring to go into but needless to say it includes, Pavel, Siff, Verkoshansky, Zatsiorsky, Mentzer, Cosgrove, Cressey, Santana, Cook, McGill and many, many more....

What an academic listing does not cover as well is experience - and I have had a good bit of that.
Beginning as an athletic trainer working with a wide variety of athletes and continuing into my first "fitness" position of running a hospital wellness program. While running this hospital wellness program I worked with people of all conditions - stroke, PParkinson's, joint replacements, elderly, athlete, regular Joe and Jane, heart conditions, cardiac rehab, orthopedic issues of all types, and a few things I am forgetting but you get the idea...

What an academic listing also does not cover is who you have surrounded yourself with and who you can learn from...which is an area where I am very fortunate. Over the years I have had the fortune of meeting, learning from and developing friendships with some of the best in the business. I will not list names and name drop but I have been very fortunate in this area and it is a VERY important area. Your "circle of influence" is a huge part of your personal development due to the honest and professional feedback you can receive that your other friends and family cannot provide you.

So what experiences prepare you to be an effective trainer?
A combination of academic learning, personal experimentation, personal development/research (continuous learning), professional research and experience, and networking/"circle of influence" are all "required".
And this doesn't touch on the "x" factors of personality and intuition.

Does it have to be academic - No - I know people without an ounce of "book smarts" that I would trust to train my family. And I know people with reams of book time that I would not trust to train my dog (if I had one). This is where the ability to apply your knowledge makes all the difference and the x-factors of personality and intuition come into play.

Does it have to be a "certification"? NO - certifications are an indicator - not a guarantee. A certification is the minimum level of knowledge necessary to hold the cert. So it depends on where that minimum level has been set - for the RKC it is set high - for some multiple choice study at home certs - it is set low - it just depends on the group providing the cert.

So the take home advice - Study, read, research, experiment and network - rinse and repeat....

And that is a VERY long winded explanation of what experiences and qualifications prepare someone to be an effective trainer.

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