Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tools of The Trade

This post is about something near and dear to my heart. It's something that I use everyday and can have a really significant impact on the way my day is going. Today I will be talking about barbells.

This may not seem like such a big deal to you, but a good barbell can make all the difference in the world. What exactly makes a good barbell?

Did you watch the whole thing? I doubt it, and that's ok! There are a few things that really matter when we are talking about barbells. The first, and arguably the most important, is the knurling. The knurling is the grip on the bar; its roughed/imprinted metal and varies widely from bar to bar.

The next most important is the way the bar spins. You may not know this, but the ends of the bar have bearings or bushings in them that makes it spin. This allows you to grip the bar without having it rotate in your hands. You get a really clear idea of this the first time you try to do a clean with an old shitty bar that doesn't spin so well.

The last thing we care about is the flex of the bar. That is, how it bends/reacts when a load is placed upon it. You may have heard the saying "if the bar ain't bending, you're just pretending" before, and if you haven't then you're welcome. Any bar will bend when enough weight is loaded up, but a good bar will bounce right back and straighten out without a problem.

When it really comes down to it, there are 3 types of barbells that you will encounter at a gym. (Note: for the purpose of this discussion we won't be talking about specialty bars.) These are weightlifting bars, powerlifting bars and good ol' fashioned shitty commercial gym bars.

That's a picture of the 3 types of bars we have at the gym where I train. On the left we have a weightlifting bar, in the middle we have a powerlifting bar and on the right we have a run-of-the-mill, nondescript, civilian barbell. You can visibly see the difference between the three bars.

The weightlifting bar on the left has knurling that goes all the way out to the collars, this way someone performing a snatch can grip as wide as possible. See those rings on the bars? Those are to help designate grip width; the middle bar has powerlifting mars and the left has weightlifting marks. The guy on the right has powerlifting marks as well. The bar on the right, though, has a knurling that is smoother than a newborns ass. The bar in the middle, you could grate cheese on. The sleeves (the fat end part) on all three bars actually spins pretty well; but it's the bar on the far left that really spins well for weightlifting movements.

If you're going to be purchasing a bar for your own use at home do your research! Get your hands on a few different types of bars. They can all feel drastically different and can impact the way your lifts feel!

I know this was a totally random topic, but I hope that I was able to enlighten at least one person! Have a great day and go lift some heavy shit!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Foodery

I'm always interested in learning about new things, so recently when I got an email from a new local business I was pretty interested to learn more.

The Foodery is a home delivery meal service that brings you the best of everything. They use only top of the line products (organic, pesticide free, grass-fed, hormone free, etc) and each meal is designed by a chef and prepared with fresh ingredients. They have a really high set of standards that they hold their ingredients to and it's pretty impressive. They are even conscious of the oils they use to cook and what the appropriate temps to use them at are.

I met with John, one of the co-founders, this past Friday and had a chance to talk about his business a little bit. He and his business partner are former finance guys who decided to stop doing something they hated and get into a business that they were both passionate about (I can relate). Their came up with the idea for The Foodery based upon their previous interest in their own nutrition. There's really no other meal service like this in Boston; one that delivers fresh food with ingredients of this quality.

One thing that John said that really struck me was his interest in retaining customers. After 5 months of delivering food, they have a 70% customer retention rate. I personally pride myself that main body of my personal training clients has been the same for almost 3 years.

John contacted me because he wants to be in touch with personal trainers who share the same kind of ideals that he does; I want my clients eating real foods that come from great sources. Unfortunately, not everyone is a cook, has the time to cook or they are just too lazy to cook. (Clients, if you think I could be talking about you then I probably am.) I've told people several times that if I could come to their house and put food on the table for them, then I would. This is as close to doing that as I can get.

After talking to John for about an hour, he told me that he was going to send some meals to my house for me to try. The delivery window is 6-9 p.m. on Sunday night and John got to my house at 6 on the dot.

Your food comes nicely bundled in a brown bag that is actually pretty attractive (insofar as a paper bag goes, ya know?). It certainly looks better than a pizza box.

The meals all come pre-packed in really nicely sized containers. A lot of take-out restaurants use this same style of contained, but I've yet to see one this size. It is perfectly sized for the portion of food that is inside.

Each meal also comes with very explicit directions on the re-heating process. You can see in the photo above that it specifies 2 minutes and 45 seconds. One of the other meals specified 3 minutes and 5 seconds. You can bet your sweet ass that if someone is going to take the time to be that specific that I'll follow their instructions.

Tofu on top. Bison to the left, salmon on the right.
Now for the meals themselves. I'll go in no specific order.

Bison Veggie Loaf with Sweet Potato Puree (557 kcal, 40g protein, 64g carbs, 23g fat)
Honestly, this is the one that I was looking forward to the most. Bison meatloaf? Sign me up. However, I'm a tough critic of meatloaf and I didn't totally love this one (but I can't point out why). This is momma's fault, as she makes some BOMB meatloaf that I'm pretty partial to. That notwithstanding, this was really good meatloaf. The flavor was distinctly grass-fed bison (in a good way) with big chunks of veggies in it that gave it a nice crunch. This is the one that Kelsi liked the most. The sweet potatoes were RIDICULOUS! I don't know how they did it, but they were the whippiest (that's a new word, you're welcome) potatoes I've ever eaten. They were frigging amazing. This meal would be a great dinner for just about anyone, but for me it would be a little on the small side. However, I understand that I'm not exactly "normal" when it comes to volumes of food. All in all, this was a really good and filling meal.

Crusted Tofu, Veggies, Black Rice, Hoisin Garlic Sauce (546 kcal, 23g protein, 75g carbs, 17g fat) Tofu? Really, tofu? I haven't eaten it in quite some time. I've become as big an anti-soy proponent as anyone out there, with good reason. The Foodery, however, goes out of their way to dispel these concerns on the pamphlet you get with your meals.

With the threat of pendulous man boobs safely behind me, I went ahead and dug into this meal. Holy shitballs, Batman! This was really good. Like, really good. The veggies were crisp and delicious (I hate soggy veggies), the hoisin sauce was yummy and the tofu wasn't too tofu-y. A little light on protein for me (but, what vegetarian dish isn't?) but this was an extremely tasty meal that is made with super high-quality ingredients. One of the rare vegetarian dishes that I would eat again, which is saying a lot.

Blackened Salmon Cobb Salad w/ Lemon Vinaigrette (550 kcal, 50g protein, 20g carbs, 31g fat)  Turns out that this guy was sneaky my favorite dish, for a variety of reasons. Yeah, the salad was my favorite. Go figure? First off, it was just REALLY good. It had a great combo of veggies (romaine, spinach, watercress, peppers, beans, really colorful grape tomatoes) with enough protein and fat (wild salmon and eggs) to keep me full. I'm not generally a fan of vinaigrette dressings, but this one was killer. Secondly, I could totally see myself eating this for lunch. It's a high protein meal with a ton of veggies (something I generally lack) and pretty low carb which fits really well into my carb backloading style of eating. The portion was big enough that I could eat it for lunch without being hungry afterwards (I'd need more for dinner), which means that someone a little more normal than me could have it for dinner. The last reason I really liked it is because it is something I could 100% get my clients to eat for dinner or for lunch; people like to eat salads because they think they are super-healthy (they can be, but it's also easy to make one shitty). Kelsi even ate a lot of this one, and she doesn't even like fish!

The package also came with a little treat of tofu fudge. I'm not a huge fudge guy, but this was pretty good. Especially as a stand-in for a more traditional dessert on a week night for those of you who "just have to have dessert". Very good little morsel.

Note: We ate these meals on Wednesday night, after they were delivered by John on Sunday night. The "use by" was Thursday, which means that I (purposefully) ate them at the tail end of their shelf life. All of the produce was AWESOME. The veggies were crisp and fresh tasting and nothing was wilted, soggy or rotten. I was really impressed with the quality of the veggies, especially in the salad.

If you find yourself in a sub-optimal food situation; consider giving The Foodery a chance. If you are going to Whole Foods Paycheck every night and getting their prepared foods then you are short changing yourself. That is food that gives you the impression of being healthy, but is really sort of shitty. This is food that is really good for you from both a nutritional and a holistic standpoint. Order a few meals and tell them Mike sent you. You won't be disappointed.

Have a great day! Go lift something heavy and eat something healthy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The "New" Strength and Conditioning?

Strength and Conditioning, as a field, has always been about making people bigger, faster and stronger. If we can achieve those things we can improve on field/court performance. The "why" was always pretty easy, and the "how" was the tricky part. Every coach had different techniques that they'd use to get performance out of their athletes.

All these strength coaches had the same goals, but had different styles. One would use a ton of volume with moderate weights. Another might use a ton of plyometrics and not as much barbell training. Another could do everything at 90% and above. Another coach could combine everything into what would be the coolest training video anyone has ever seen. (The awesome part starts at 5:05)

As long as the athlete was healthy and getting better, everything was just dandy. But the strength and conditioning game has changed in the last few years. It's no longer just about improving performance and keeping your athletes healthy. If that's all you're doing at your gym, you're only doing half of the equation.

The new breed of strength coach encompasses pre/rehab modalities to make sure the athletes stay healthy. The new strength coach is able to walk the line between physical therapy and training in terms of assessing and correcting faulty movement patterns. The new strength coach is able to correct your asymmetries from the inside-out while fine-tuning your body through all of the smallest intrinsic muscles of your abdomen.

But I don't understand why.

Let me clarify my statement. I understand why all of these things are important to know and apply. I get why we need to focus on pre/rehab kinds of training to ensure the health of our athletes. I do these things; the warm-ups that I prescribe to athletes and gen-pop clients are all encompassing and will help to activate, lengthen and strengthen particular areas that will create a stronger, healthier body. But it seems like a lot of coaches are collecting letters after their names that don't necessarily apply to making someone a better athlete. ATC, PRI, NKT, DNS, SFMA and ART are all great letters to have after your name, but do they make you a better strength coach? Will your athletes/clients become better after you spend 2 grand and an entire weekend at one of these certs? Or would that time have been better spent in the gym with your athletes.

I was recently at a seminar and these certifications were being mentioned by everybody as something they were going to pursue. Everyone was talking about the certs they were going to be getting. I went home and checked them out, and some of them aren't even available to a person who isn't an AT/PT/MD. Seriously? Am I going to be edged out of my industry because I didn't get my ATC before I went into strength and conditioning?

What happened to scope of practice? I know that being familiar with the SFMA (and the related topics) is very important, but if I am not legally able to apply it to my athletes then what good is it for me? Is it really within my job description to correct someones breathing pattern? If I get an athlete for 60 minutes a few times per week, is it in my best interest to re-train their intercostals, or should I worry more about their hip mobility and their ability to produce force? As a strength coach, I feel like it's the latter. Like Wendler says, "Don't major in the minors".

Isn't this the reason I've been working on expanding my professional network? So that I can refer people out to AT's, PT's and manual therapists when it's time for them to get specific work done. I was talking to Tony Gentilcore about this topic recently and he reminded me that my job wasn't to diagnose anything. I had a similar talk with Vic Brown from BU (who's an ATC) and he said he keeps the ATC and CSCS separate by using his job description. His job is not to fix/rehab athletes, but to make them stronger and faster; there is an entire Athletic Training department for that job.

Here's another thing that I've been thinking about: why is this all suddenly such a huge concern? People have been strong and healthy for quite a long time without worrying about their breathing patterns. I know the same can be said for things like mobility and soft tissue work, but those things have a readily apparent change on the way someone feels and moves. Would Bo Jackson had been a better athlete if someone had focused on his left-smaller-diaphragm? Would Arnold have been more symmetrical and better proportioned if he'd be concerned about his Left Posterior Mediastinum Inhibition? I'm personally having trouble figuring out where all of these other things fall into the role of a strength and conditioning coach. If getting someones diaphragmatic rhythm in sync with their scapulothoracic rhythm will get them to a 40" vertical, a 10.2-second 100-yard dash or a 585 deadlift then I'll be all about it. For right now, however, my job is to get people stronger, faster and keep them healthy. I'll keep doing that.

This is a 90% single for him. Scary.
Anyone have any feedback? How much of a role should PRI/SFMA kind of stuff play in strength and conditioning? Is it the S&C coach's job or is it something that should be farmed out to the right people? Let me know what you think!

Have a great day, and go lift something heavy!

Monday, December 17, 2012

InnerCity Weightlifting

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to stop by and check out a program that I've been interested in for quite a while. InnerCity Weightlifting is a Boston-based non-profit organization that aims to reduce violence by getting kids off of the streets and out of gangs.

ICW provides students with a place to go where they can see positive changes on their life. I've written before about how I feel weight training can help a young person in many ways, and this organization personifies that.

When a kid who hasn't had much support or structure in their life starts weight training, they are finally able to see the positive results of structure, dedication and hard work. When you participate in weightlifting (Olympic lifting) in a "team" setting, you are able to see the positive results of a group. When someone hits a big lift/PR, the whole team celebrates; it's a win for everybody. Athletes push each other and help make each other better. In a situation like this one, success breeds success.

Beyond the positive results on the self-confidence of a student, ICW helps their most dedicated students pursue careers in personal training. These students go on to study the ACSM manual and eventually take the exam to become a certified personal trainer. They provide them with a place to train clients and earn their own income.

Not only that, but ICW does a great job of backing their students during legal issues. While I was there, I heard a student talking to John (co-founder) about when he would be coming in next. John asked if he'd be in on Monday, and the student replied that he had a court date to attend. John told this student to provide him with an email address and he'd send him a letter of support to take with him and that he would get to the court to personally support him as well.

While we (Kelsi and I) were there, we were offered the opportunity to have some of the students take us through a workout. I love working out in new gyms, so we thought it was a great idea. To be honest,  I had a thought in my head about what the workout was going to be like. I figured the student would take us through a warmup, hit some easy Oly lifts, do some strength work and call it a day.

I ran to the bathroom and when I came back, Kels was finishing up a set of overhead squats with a PVC pipe. I jumped in and did a set of 5, with a few corrections from some of the guys standing around. Next was a set of 5 with the empty bar, along with more corrections. In my defense, I hadn't done any foam rolling or anything so my OHS weren't flawless like usual. At this point, we split up to work with different students. J pointed me towards a bar loaded to 95# and instructed me to do a set of 5 power cleans so he could see my form. I hit 5, he hit 5 and then he said "let's go up". Sure, let's do it. "What do you want on there?" I asked. His answer was to throw another 10kg (25 pounds) on either side. That's a 50 pound jump. Ok, sure. We hit sets of 5 there and then he told me to put another 10kg on my side. Sure, no big deal. I always make 50 pound jumps. (No I don't.) We dropped to triples and kept making 50 pound jumps until we got to 205. At this point, people were hanging around us watching and motivating us. We made another jump to 215 and hit some triples. I could tell then that this would be a Man Challenge/Alpha Male sort of day. Fucking A.

When we were done with cleans, I was beat. J suggested I power clean it one more time and then walk it over to the squat rack. Oh, sure, cool. We then started hitting sets of 3 back squats. Again, we were making 50 pound jumps. We worked up to a single at 295 that I hit and J had to dump in the hole. We then dropped down and hit some doubles at 275. I was even more beat at this point; I'd worked up to some very heavy sets for me very quickly without really warming up. Then he suggested we crush some front squats. We worked up to 195 pretty quickly for a bunch of sets of triples. In between sets he would stroll over to a pull-up bar and hit some very strict close-grip muscle ups. I did not.

I'll be honest; I was fucking smoked. My body was drained. That's when J decided it was time to bench. We opened up at 135x8 (p.s. I haven't benched seriously in maybe 10 months), then 185x5, 205x5 and 225x5. Oh wait, that's what he did. I hit 205 for 3 and couldn't even lock out 225 for a single. At one point during the bench portion of the workout, I sat down on a window sill. I was punished by one of the students with 10 pushups for sitting down before I was done. To finish out the workout, that same student/coach put Kelsi and I through a pretty miserable bodyweight squat finisher that was 12 to parallel, 12 from bottom to parallel, then 10 full depth squats. Gah. To say I was done would be the under-statement of the century. Walking down the stairs was an issue. I had to do the side shuffle to keep from falling down on my way out.

All in all, it was a blast. I loved it. We were invited to come back and work out with the guys another time, and I fully intend to take them up on the offer. This organization does an amazing job and I hope to be able to help them in the future. Keep an eye out!

Have a great day and go do something amazing!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Who Wants To Be Skinny??

We all know the deal; everybody is worried about how fat they are so they all want to be skinny. No one will eat anything with fat, carbs will kill you and a calorie restricted diet is the way to go.

Everywhere we look "skinny" is being pushed upon us. The Victorias Secret fashion show is filled with skinny women. Every magazine in the checkout line at the grocery store is filled with conversations about who is skinny and who is fat. All of the mass-produced "health" foods being pushed upon the masses claim to make you skinny.

But who the fuck wants to be skinny?!?

For centuries being skinny meant that you were sick, frail and probably going to die. If anyone that got on the Nina, Pinta or Santa Maria was too skinny then they weren't going to survive the voyage. If one of the children of Sparta were too skinny, they were going to be cast off of the mountain so that they wouldn't be a burden on society. There are millions of skinny people walking around our third world countries who won't make it past their twenties. 

Why has something that has historically meant that you would die an early death become our symbol of sexiness? Why has the body that continually changed the world not had as much of an impact?

Warriors and laborers are responsible for nearly all of the change up until the industrial revolution. You could still make the case that our warriors (soldiers) still play one of the most vital roles in shaping our society today. Yet, no one wants to look like these people. Why? It takes work. It's much easier to simply starve yourself then it is to go to the gym and work your ass off.

If you're reading this, you probably don't care that much about being "skinny". (God, I hope so at least.) You're probably more concerned with being big, strong and lean. I implore you all to spread the good word about living a Girthy lifestyle to your civilian friends. Thin shall never win, but Girth shall rule the earth!

Have a great day! Go lift some heavy shit!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pet Peeves

Just like everybody else, there are some things that I see in my industry on a consistent basis that kinda really bug the hell out of me.

These are often little things that may or may not have any significant consequences to the clients or athletes, but as a trainer/coach it (for some reason) means the world to me. Some of these are legit concerns and some are to be taken in jest.

Box jumps performed the wrong way: I love the box jump; it's a great power exercise and has a ton of carryover to most sports. However, the number of times that I see this exercise performed the wrong way is astounding. People just want to use the highest box possible, with no concern for form. FYI: using a higher box doesn't mean you're actually jumping higher; nor does it mean your vertical jump is equal to that box. This bugs me so much that I'm going to be writing an article about it pretty soon that I hope to get posted elsewhere!

Putting an Olympic weightlifting bar into the rack. This one may seem silly, but it's half serious. Oly bars are special (expensive) bars. They spin beautifully and have knurling that is just sharp enough to hold your grip, but just smooth enough to not shred your hands. They are made for cleans and snatches and should be used for such. Sure, you can deadlift with them and stuff, but I believe that they really don't ever have to sit in a rack. That's what Texas Power Bars are for. I hate going to use an Oly bar and finding that the spot I'm going to grip for a snatch is covered in black plastic because it's been racked so many times. Barbells are the tools of our trade; treat them with the respect they deserve!

The Manta Ray. This is a piece of equipment that actually holds the bar in place on your back while you perform squats or lunges. It's not a sissy-pad that softens it, but it actually rests on your traps and holds the bar. It's stupid and I hate it. It takes all the feel out of the exercise. Learning how to hold a bar on your back to squat is one of the basic tenets of strength and conditioning. If it's uncomfortable, then you need to build bigger traps or wear a hoodie while you squat. Sack up and friggin' squat.
Note: This piece of equipment can, occasionally, be useful for someone with an injury. 

Trainers who complain about not having clients. There is no shortage of clients out there, and we all (more or less) have equal access to them. If your schedule isn't as full as you want, go out and do something about it. Take an honest look at what you're doing, and figure out whats wrong. Is your approach to selling off? Do you not have enough knowledge? Do you not try hard enough? Figure it out or talk to one of the more successful trainers at your gym. We've all been through it, so hopefully they can give you some advice. Sitting down and complaining about it won't do you any good, though.

That's it for today. I hope you all go do something awesome and lift some heavy shit today! Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Great Healthy Eating Trick!

I'm coming back  to you great folks with a healthy eating tip that I picked up, of all places, from my sister. She took a tip that I've given quite a few people and made it even more user-friendly!

I will often tell people to go to the market and buy one of those rotisserie chickens that everybody sells nowadays. They are delicious, cheap and easy. One of those suckers goes for about 8 bucks and lasts for 2 meals. Well, it lasts me for 2 meals. Some of my clients can use one of those for 8 meals (absurd).

My sister took it a step further and made it much easier to take that chicken with you or to use it within different meals. While the chicken is still warm from the grocery store, she simply shreds ALL of the meat off of the carcass and puts it into a big tupperware container. I did that this week and it took me about 10 minutes until I had a big pile of delicious chicken.

Once I had the meat all shredded, I could do whatever I wanted with it. One day I simply ate it out of the container with some salt. Another day I took a handful and added some salsa and spicy gaucamole to it. Just before I wrote this, I chopped up a few handfuls of the chicken and threw on a dollop of mayo and ate a bowl of chicken salad. It's a good way to always have some lean protein on hand without having to do too much work. Anytime we can take an excuse away from eating the right foods is a win!

Please give it a shot and let me know what you think! Have a great day, and go lift some heavy shit!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Sorry for the extended break that Thanksgiving has caused for me. Life has gotten in the way of my creative side for a brief moment in time, and I've strung together a few bad days. I'm getting my shit straight and I'll be coming back with some good content very very soon. 

In the meantime, take a look at how I spent my Thanksgiving morning. I went and lifted with some guys out at CrossFit Resilience and managed to set a PR on the Yoke Walk. For the first time I got 635 pounds up and walked 5 yards with it. The last time I tried it, I stood up with it but couldn't manage any steps. 

Here's another PR on the Yoke, this is 545 for 25 yards.

Have a great day, and go lift some heavy shit!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

In light of the impending day of feasting, I'm going to keep it short and sweet today. I'd prefer to start thinking about things I'm thankful for, rather than write a long post about blabbity blabbity. I'll personally be starting off my Thanksgiving with a good lift with some friends at CrossFit Resilience.

Things I'm thankful for...
- My nephew Drew and my whole family
Eleiko Bars that spin like a dream
- Grassfed beef, nitrite free bacon and avocado
- A great crew to train with

Now, on to my actual post!

I wanted to leave you guys with some blogs to check out over the nice long weekend that you guys have probably never seen or heard of before.

Ross Eamit is a guy that a lot of us have been reading for a long time, and with good reason. The guy is innovative as hell and he is a complete savage; all done from the comfort of his own home gym. He is absurdly strong and has a ridiculous amount of control over his own body. Check out his YouTube channel for video evidence.

Todd Bumgardner is a coach that I met several months ago at the Supreme Strength Seminar on Long Guyland, hosted by himself and John Gaglione. Todd is a great coach who trains in a very dungeon-esque facility and has some great insight on the training of athletes. He is also hilarious and is the least frightening red-head that I know. I need to make it a point to go visit him some time.

Nia Shanks is a strength coach down in Connecticut whom I need to meet in person sometime. She is one of the Girls Gone Strong and wrote a book called Beautiful Badass which are both aimed at helping get women into the weight room and off of the ellipticals. She is a great resource in terms of training women, and I visit her site regularly.

Please check out these great blogs while you're recovering from the impending insulin coma that everyone should be having! Have a great holiday!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Build Your Brand

The fitness industry is unique in that you are everything to your business: marketing, production, research and development and boss. In short, you are your own brand. Very few people will be able to have a significant influence on  your brand. Your results in this business will largely correlate to the effort that you put into it. Guys like Eric Cressey, Mike Boyle and Jim Smith (Smitty) have spent many years and countless hours working to build their brand into what they are today.

This is a niche industry; there's not a ton of available positions. For personal trainers, a commercial gym may only have space for 5-10 personal trainers. If you're in strength and conditioning, there's even fewer. A typical performance facility or collegiate facility may only have 3-5 available positions. As such, the way you sell yourself is very important.

When I say "sell yourself", I mean the way in which you present all of your best attributes and qualities. Employers and clients alike need to understand what really sets you apart from everyone else. I'm not talking about how you've been an athlete your whole life and look forward to sharing your enthusiasm for fitness with your clients, either. Here are some tips that will help you build your brand.

1) If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything: You need to have a philosophy; something tangible that you can explain to someone. Simply saying "squats are better than biceps curls" doesn't cut it. If you believe that barbell movements are better than machines, you need to be able to explain why. If you think that single joint exercises are the best way to injury proof an athlete, you should be able to explain why. Whatever your philosophy regarding training is, be able to explain why.

I personally believe that movement quality is of the utmost importance; if your body is able to move the way it's supposed to (pain free, too) then you will have a much easier time achieving your goals. Beyond that, I believe that strength is the key that will unlock all of the other doors to fitness (speed, body comp, durability, etc). I also believe that everyone should be mimicking athletic movements; there are enough progressions/regressions regarding jumping, sprinting and throwing that anyone is able to do them.

There are a lot of right answers in this industry, and only a few wrong ones. People like to say that "everything works, but only for a while". If you're going to pick a particular philosophy, then stick to it and be consistent. If you believe that rate of force development (RFD) is best achieved for an athlete with a medicine ball, then that is great. But don't be the coach making your athletes throw medicine balls if you only do cleans to improve your own RFD.

2) Expand your network: This is a small industry and everybody knows everybody. It's not entirely necessary, but it's nice to have a good professional network. If you are able to develop professional relationships with known coaches/trainers, it will only benefit you when it comes time to be hired by an employer or client. If you're able to express that you have a strong professional circle that you can lean on for advice, support or references it will benefit everybody involved. Having a fellow professional who can vouch for you is worth its weight in gold.

I've personally been working on this for a while now. My network still has plenty of room to grow, but I've done a pretty good job meeting coaches/trainers from all over: Boston, Boulder, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Having a place to reach a broader audience has allowed me to make connections as far away as England!

NOTE: Don't be a chuckledick and name-drop; people know when you're doing it and nobody likes it. 

3) Continue your education: I always talk about reading blogs and all the free information that's available out there, which is all well and good. However, this time I'm referring to actual courses that will provide you with resume fodder. Don't just go out and try to accrue as many letters after your name as possible, though. Seek out and attain certifications and memberships that will benefit your own industry. If you're going to be a strength coach in a collegiate setting, then maybe things like Graston and Nutrition don't matter as much since you won't be able to utilize them. If you're going to be a personal trainer in a commercial gym, spending the massive amount of money on your RKC also won't be that necessary since nobody there will even know what it is. Too, understand which certifications are nationally recognized and which aren't. If you show up at most gyms with your CrossFit level 1 and your PICP, they won't know what to do with them (despite these being two of only a few certs that require you to spend time in a gym with your hands on a bar.)

I'm not suggesting that having a particular certification makes you a better trainer than someone else; I still don't have my CSCS, but I don't think that everyone who has it is automatically better than I am. However, having more than one certification will show potential clients and employers that you have dedicated both time and money into improving your craft. Just make sure that your certs are worthwhile and in-line with your particular demographic.

4) Practice what you preach: Not every fitness professional needs to be 6% bodyfat and own a 600 pound deadlift; it's just not feasible. However, every fitness professional should try and live the life they are selling. If you are preaching that vegetarianism is the path to fitness Valhalla, but eat an Atkins diet; why would anyone listen to you? If you tell clients that they will get the best results by following a regimented program full of squats and deadlifts, but you yourself follow a random bodybuilder split, then aren't you just lying to people?

Live the life that you are selling to your clients. That way people will be able to tell that you truly believe in what you are telling them. You'll come off less salesy and much more genuine.

5) Don't bullshit anyone: If it looks like shit and smells like shit, it's probably shit. If someone, anyone, asks you a question regarding your profession and you're unsure of the answer do not make one up. If you make up an answer and it's wrong, people will remember that you are a bullshitter. If you can make an educated guess, that's one thing. But it's quite another if you're pulling answers out of your ass. Your name is your reputation, and you don't want to sully it with something as simple as this.

If you don't have the answer, tell the person! Go find the answer and get back to them; they'll appreciate the honesty and your willingness to go the extra mile to get the answer for them. Plus, you'll learn something new in the process.

This is an industry that rewards hard work and dedication. Half-work gets half-results, don't be the trainer/coach standing there wondering why they don't have any clients; go bust your ass and earn them. Thanks for reading; I hope you all enjoyed the post. Have a great day, and go lift some heavy shit!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Misconception

There is a huge misconception in todays world about what a personal trainer is and does. This reputation is well-deserved since there were/are a ton of asshat personal trainers running around out there.

There are, however, more and more trainers in todays industry that are legit. We read, learn and practice the same things that strength coaches do. We follow the same principles and theories that strength coaches are using and try and get the same results.

A lot of people think that personal trainers are the meatheads from high school that spent all of their time in the gym. They just go sit in a gym all day and count reps for people with little knowledge behind their practices.

This misconception is going to take a long time to leave our industry because it is both true and false. There are lots of trainers out there who fell into the industry for various reasons, attended a personal training academy and started working. It's often these people that provide us with a bad reputation. Not only do they not get any results with their clients, but they even run the risk of hurting them.

The flip side are the personal trainers who get their BS in exercise science or kinesiology and do their internships at strength and conditioning facilities. We read about what others are doing in the field and keep up with continuing education. We train ourselves and our clients like athletes with compound lifts, heavy weights and low reps. We sprint and jump and get results.

When you're in the market for a new trainer, take your time. Talk to the trainers at your gym; you don't have to accept whomever they throw at you. It's your money and your health, take it seriously. If the best trainer at your gym doesn't have 5 p.m. on Tuesday available, suck it up and take whatever you can get. It'll be worth it.

Have a great day and go lift something heavy!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Every Day And In Every Way...

...I strive to get better and better. I recently wrote a post for Tony Gentilcore about how you can make yourself a better trainer or coach. I'm in no way suggesting that I'm as good as I can be, but I like to think I've done a really good job of utilizing the tips outlined there. This is my list of things that I need to do to continue becoming a better trainer and coach.

Nutrition Certification: As a personal trainer, I need to be very conscious of scope of practice laws; that is, I'm only allowed to do things that are outlined as legal for a trainer to do in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or as outlined by my certification. This often regards things like providing a client with soft-tissue work, prescribing them a rehab protocol for an injury or, the one that irks me the most, talking about nutrition. I understand why it's a bad idea for me to lay a client down and do soft-tissue massage or for me to prescribe a rehab protocol for a hip injury; but I really feel comfortable and confident in my ability to help someone with their nutrition. Unfortunately, I'm limited in my capacity to do that. Obtaining a nutrition certification will allow me to talk with any and all of my clients about what they are eating.

Attend More Seminars: I need to make a conscious effort to start attending more seminars. Charlie Weingroff was recently at Mike Ranfone's place in Connecticut. The Perform Better summit is getting better and better every year, and there's always a location near Boston. I should even be travelling further than that in order to hear people speak. Why is this important? That's how you learn; listen to people who are smarter than you talk about something you're not that good at. Boom, you just got smarter.

Improve my knowledge of functional anatomy: This is not something that will instantly make me a better coach, but it will help in the long run. Improving my knowledge of functional anatomy will make it much easier for me to assess clients. When I notice that their right foot externally rotates but their left doesn't, it will be easier for me to know what is weak, short or inhibited. I'll then be able to provide a more specialized program for that client.

Meet more coaches: Every coach has their own style and their own cues. If I only ever hear myself coach, then I'll never pick up anything new. The more I can be around different trainers and coaches, the more tips and tricks I can pick up. Todd Bumgardner may have a cue to get someone to retract their scaps during a pullup than I do, and Ben Bruno may have an easier way to teach someone a Bulgarian split squat. I don't need to adopt anyone else's style, just learn a tip or trick here or there.

This is by no means a comprehensive or definitive list of what I need to do; that list is going to grow every time I learn something else. This is just what I think I could do now to become better. 

Have a great day, and go lift something heavy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Body Image Role Models

Body image is something that follows us around like a shadow, especially within this industry. We all say that we want to be strong, fast and savage; but we also don't want girls to run away when we take off our shirts.

There seems to be this large dichotomy between the ideal body image that men have for women and vice versa. While no one should be training specifically so that the opposite gender/gender of choice will find them attractive, we'd all be lying if we said that this wasn't important. This topic came to mind yesterday when I was talking to a friend that I've also been training and helping with marathon prep.

She's an athletic female in her early/mid-twenties who has always been active (running and volleyball). She has started weight training and taking her diet seriously in the last several months after some influencing conversations from yours truly. She had a goal to run the NYC Marathon, prepared successfully and then got washed out by Hurricane Sandy.

While talking about a recent workout, my friend mentioned how she was scared of getting bulky and how she wanted to look like Sarah Jessica Parker not Jessica Biel.

Da Fuuuuuuuuuuck?!?!?

This is where that dichotomy happens. A lot of females would rather look like Sarah Jessica Parker...

...than look like Jessica Biel. Aka the lady who snagged Timberlake.

Now, don't get me wrong. Sarah Jessica Parker looks just fine...for a skinnyfat woman with zero muscle mass on her body. Very Madonna-esque. But it just baffles me that someone would rather look like her than Biel, because Biel is too bulky.

The ideal body-type that has permeated our culture is one of a sedentary lifestyle devoid of calories and physical exertion. You want to look like SJP? Eat only kale and take your training advice from this chuckledick. Make sure you lift nothing over 3 pounds ever so that you can get osteopenia as early as possible.

Why don't we celebrate a female body that can perform? Why do we look at male athletes and think "perfect body" and look at female athletes and think "she looks like a man"? In a society where we strive for gender-equality, why does this double standard slip continue to slip through the cracks?

Our media, too, has done a great job with making women think that lifting anything remotely heavy will cause their muscles to blow up like balloons into a caricature of a bodybuilder. Truth is, gaining muscle size (hypertrophy) is just about the hardest thing to do with your body. Strength gains and weight loss are fairly simple to achieve, but getting bigger muscles is pretty difficult. The majority of women who are going to the gym to achieve a particular body type don't lift often enough, heavy enough or eat enough food to be able to sustain any growth.

Consider this rant closed...for the time being. Consider your lifestyle and your goals when you decide the ideal body-image for yourself. Have a great day, and go lift something heavy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Things You Thought You Knew That You Really Didn't Know

The fitness industry is filled dogma, facts, trends and fads. For a layman to sort through all of the information out there is quite a process, especially since you can always count on people to take the easiest route. Here are some tips to help you wade through the knee-deep bullshit.

You thought that...saturated fat and cholesterol was bad for you. But, in reality, it's not. There is a ton of research out there showing that saturated fat and cholesterol really isn't the Devil. The addition of these things to the diet isn't whats bad, it's the oxidation of these substances that causes the problems. How can you prevent oxidation? Eat foods that are high in anti-oxidants (dark berries, green tea, artichokes and prunes). You can also prevent oxidation by eating an anti-inflammatory diet that is low in refined carbs and high in fat and protein.

You thought that...lifting big would make you hyoooge. We've all heard it before "every time I lift heavy weights I just get huge!"

Yes, there's a spelling error. It's not my fault.
No, no you don't. You don't have enough testosterone, you don't eat enough and you don't lift enough. I actively try to gain muscle size, and it's the hardest thing to do. Especially if you're eating cleanly and staying in the 3-5 rep range. You know what will make you bigger? Inhaling double-soy-mocha-lattes and bagels and then going to a BodyPump class where you do a shit-ton of reps with light weights. That's the recipe for hypertrophy. Lift heavy and eat clean and you'll be just fine.

You thought was a great fat loss solution. Yoga is a lot of things, but it's not a good way to lose fat. Why? Pretty simple: you're basically sitting still. Sure, you're moving around and stuff, but it's within a pretty limited space. Does that sound to you like a way to lose weight? The things you need to lose weight is a way to increase external resistance (to build muscle), a way to increase your heart rate and a way to burn calories. The limited space within a yoga class doesn't allow for any of these. Yoga is a great way to increase flexibility but not to lose weight. Cut the shit; do something that's hard. The harder you work, the greater your results.

You thought that...I hated steady state cardio. Yes and no. Personally, I dislike steady state cardio. I suck at it, and it has little benefit to my goals. However, there are people who are good at it and who love it; they should keep doing it! The situation where I hate steady state cardio is for people who are using it for fat loss. It is simply not an effective means of fat loss. Your results will be far quicker and more significant if you start your fat loss journey with compound lifts and interval training.

You thought had to be sore for it to have been a good workout.

Erroneous! When you work out, you create micro-damage to your muscles; your muscles remodel and growth occurs. When you're sore, it just means that the damage is more significant than other workouts. This usually happens when you start a new workout routine or try something you haven't done before. The only difference between this and not feeling sore is that this will probably prevent you from working out again for a few days. I'd much rather have you be able to work out 4 times in a week rather than once and then be sore for 5 days. One option allows you to work out more often and see better results, and the other option let's you tell your friends at the bar how sore your trainer made you.

I hope you all liked todays post! Anything you thought you knew that it turned out you didn't? Let me know in the comments section! Have a great day and go lift some heavy shit!

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Love Affair

For the last several months I've been involved in a torrid love affair with a bitch of a mistress. No matter how often I tell myself that I'm going to leave her and get on with my life, I keep going back to her. To quote Tony Gentilcore "If I could, I'd run away with her to a small cabin in the New England backwoods and raise our two young children, Ivanko and Elieiko."

No big deal, just 233kg. That's 512 pounds.
For about 10 months, I've been in love with weightlifting (not weight lifting, weightlifting). Why? It's just fucking savage, that's all. How can you not appreciate and respect someone who is taking a weight that most guys are proud to deadlift and throwing it up over their head. I can't even deadlift 500 pounds and Illya Illin is cleaning and jerking it. I used to think weightlifting was something that I didn't need and had no relevance to me; I was wrong.

Weightlifting is all about force production. How fast can you be strong? I still love lifting heavy shit (squats and deadlifts), don't get me wrong. But, more often when I hear about someones exploits in the gym, I'm more impressed by a guy who can snatch 300 than a guy who can deadlift 500. Chances are good that the guy who can snatch 300 can also pull 500. 

I keep telling myself that I'm going to leave weightlifting on the backburner and just focus on getting strong; but I can't. The best analogy I can make to weightlifting is golfing. You go out on the course all day and wait for the one perfect swing. You pure your driver on the 16th tee and crush it 300 down the middle of the fairway. Even though you shot 36 over par,  you talk about that one perfect swing for the rest of the week. That's how weightlifting is. I'll go lift with my buddies on a Saturday and snatch for 2 hours. You get your one perfect pull and won't shut up about it. 

Olympic weightlifting is a sport; make no doubt about that. Powerlifting relies heavily on technique, but also on brute strength. Olympic lifting is very much a skill, and if you don't practice it you won't be good at it. It doesn't matter how strong you are if your technique sucks. I get as frustrated as anyone else does, but it feels so good when you finally just smoke one. At my skill level, my PR's come simply because I un-fucked something technique-wise. My old snatch PR was 155 pounds and I'd hit it several times, yesterday I hit 165 only as a result of me changing something about my technique. At this stage in my ability, PRs should be coming on a nearly weekly basis, because I'm so far below my actual ability as limited by strength. 

It's tough to argue with the physiques of a lot of the elite level weightlifters. Especially as compared to the elite level powerlifters. 

Lu XiaoJun
Ivan Stoitsav
And, of course, the most Savage Alpha of them all...

Dmitry Klokov
The other great thing that I found about weightlifting is pretty similar to what Tony just wrote about: high volume squatting. When you're doing the full versions of the Olympic lifts, you're squatting every single time. A full clean results in a front squat, and a full snatch results in an overhead squat. These end up being a sub-max effort when compared to what you could lift out of a rack. So, you end up doing a ton of full-range squats with a sub max intensity, and then follow it up with some squats for strength. Suddenly, your knees feel better than they have ever felt before. Sweet!

Strong is strong, regardless of the type of lifting you do. But it's hard to deny the awesomeness of weightlifting. Go be strong today, and lift something heavy!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Yet Another Post About Shoes?

This is a topic I've written about a few times, and one that people who know me will laugh about a little. See, I'm somewhat of a "shoe whore". I've currently got 14 pairs of shoes (not counting my weightlifting shoes or basketball sneakers) that I rotate through on a nearly daily basis. Yup, you heard me correctly.

Let me start off by saying that I would prefer to be barefoot 100% of the time. I'm very comfortable that way and my body feels better when I don't have to wear shoes. However, that's not feasible for me. The gym I work at won't let us do any barefoot training (they say it's dangerous and unsanitary, even though women walk around barefoot all the time heading to yoga or Pilates class) and walking around the city barefoot certainly doesn't appeal to me. We have to wear shoes, so why not wear great shoes?

Because of this, I've found it necessary to find shoes that I feel good in. I spend the majority of my time in a gym on my feet and moving around; if my feet are uncomfortable then I'm going to be grumpy. And you wouldn't like me when I'm grumpy.

The reason I have so many shoes is because I think it's gross to work out in a pair of shoes, take a shower and then put them back on. I also think that since I am able to rotate through sneakers so consistently that each pair of sneakers will last quite a bit longer than they would if I were to just wear one pair all of the time.

So, let's take a look at my collection and see if I can't help you make some decisions about sneakers.

There it is, in all it's glory. Starting in the top left we have: Inov-8 Bare-X Lite 150, New Balance Minimus Life, New Balance Minimus Trail, New Balance Minimus Cross Trainer (in two colors). The left side of the second row is the Nike Free 3.0v2, Nike Free Run+ (in two colors), the Nike Free TR, and the Reebok CrossFit Nano. The last row, on the left, we have 3 pairs of Converse Chuck Taylors and then the original Saucony Kinvara.

Let's start to break these suckers down.

These are my most minimalist shoes.

These Inov-8's are my most minimal sneaker; they are zero drop with a 3mm thick sole. With the insole taken out, you can feel absolutely everything (which I deem is a plus). They are super comfy and I choose to wear them sans socks; as a result, I haven't worked out in them. I wear them to work all the time and love them. The roomy toe-box gives me plenty of room to wiggle, and my feet never get tired.  The Inov-8 brand has been very popular with CrossFit athletes for quite a while now.

The New Balance Minimus Life, in the middle, are super comfy shoes. The sole is much thicker at 11-15mm with a 4mm heel-to-toe drop but is very light still at about 6oz. Again, I've never worked out in these shoes because I wear them sock-less, but I have a client that wears them constantly (wore a hole into a pair!) and loves to train in them. They are a bit more casual and actually look really good with a pair of jeans. The comfort level of these is astounding.

The red shoes are my New Balance Minimus Trails; the shoe that was sort of the industry shoe d'jour for the past year or so. This wasn't without good reason, though: this shoe is awesomazing. With a sole that is 10-14mm thick with a 4mm heel-to-toe drop, this shoe is pretty low profile. The only way you'll notice that the sole is thick is if you spend all of your time barefoot or in Jesus sandals. I wear these shoes for everything; hiking, lifting, walking...I've even run 2.8 miles in them. Not that I was counting or anything. They are marketed as having an odor resistant footbed, and it's mostly true. I wear them without socks all the time and they don't smell bad at all. These are worn by hikers, runners, CrossFitters and powerlifters. It's a great shoe.

This next section of shoes are actually my favorite.

In the middle and the right are New Balance Minimus Cross-Trainers. I would be so bold as to say that these are my favorite all-around sneakers. I've done everything in them (the dark blue ones): hill sprints, sled pushes, squats, deadlifts, met-cons, jumping, volleyball. You name it, I've done it in them. They have a pretty thick sole, but keep the 4mm heel-to-toe drop from the other Minimus shoes. Barefoot traditionalists do not like this shoe much because of the thick heel; that's why I like it, however. When I'm training hard, I really don't want to worry about anything. The sole is thick enough to protect me, while still flexible and flat enough to let me feet do most of the work. I would certainly classify this as a transitional shoe, and suggest it to many clients on that exact basis. It gets people into flat flexible shoes without making them think too much.

The hot yellow shoes on the left are the Reebok RealFlex CrossFit Nano's. These are the newest addition to my collection, and very easily one of my favorites. They are super comfy, but again, not traditionally minimalist. They were purpose built by Reebok for CrossFit athletes. They have a very flat sole and a very wide toe-box; both of which are super comfy. Because they are so new, I still haven't worked out in them. But the legions of CrossFitters who train in these every day can attest to how good they feel (or maybe just what a good job Reebok did of marketing them).

Ah, how the mighty have fallen from grace. Two years ago I was telling everybody and their mother to buy Nike Free's; today I sell everyone on the New Balance shoes. The Nike's are just not very minimal in any way; but they are a big step up from the cinder blocks that people used to wear.

The middle two shoes are Nike Free Run+, which is now a discontinued model. Nike uses a 0-10 scale for its minimalist shoes with 0 being barefoot and 10 being a conventional sneaker; these are about a 5. They are very light and very comfortable, but still have quite the heel lift in the back. They are also not very comfortable to wear without the insoles in them. They are great for walking around, but don't take abuse quite as well as the NB Trails or Cross-Trainers.

On the right we have the Nike Free 3.0v2. This shoe is, for all intents and purposes, the same as the Free Run+, with the exception that the sole is a little flatter (not much) and a little more flexible (doesn't matter). I've seen people train in both versions of this shoe, and the big problem I've found is the ability to roll over the outside of the sole. That is, if you go to squat in these and "spread the floor", you're going to be pushing over the edge of the sole, which is not a good thing. I like these shoes, just not for anything serious.

The last shoes, on the left, are the Nike Free TR (trainers). I actually liked this shoe a lot when I first got them. It's flexible and feels very stable. I trained a lot in these and always felt great; I even played volleyball in them for a while. The only problem, as with the other Nike's, is that it feels like a lot of sneaker. They feel great, just not very minimal.

Oh, Chucks. What's not to love about Chuck's? They are OG minimalist shoes. The flat rubber sole is zero drop (but, honestly, is pretty thick). Once you break them in they are super flexible, and there is zero support of any fashion. They were actually used as basketball shoes, and as such have become popular amongst the CrossFit crowd. For years, though, they've been popular with powerlifters as squat and deadlift shoes. The provide a great base from which to "spread the floor" while squatting, and the flat sole allows you a great position to pull from even if your gym won't allow you to lift in socks. On top of all that, they come in dozens of colors, can be high-top or low-top and usually cost about $40. Sold!

Last but not least, the red-headed step-child of my shoe collection: The Saucony Kinvara. When this shoe was first being sold, it was being heralded as the second coming of Christ. I had to have it.

I finally got them, only to find out that it was a regular fucking running shoe. It's not flexible, it's not light, it's not low to the ground. It's a regular fucking shoe. I haven't worn them in a long time, and don't plan on it. Maybe if it's raining and I'm going to walk the dog. They have since made new Kinvara's and have fixed some of the problems (read: everything) from the original shoe, but I doubt I'd every take a foray into the Saucony minimalist world again.

Lastly, I recently bought a pair of VivoBarefoot Evo II's from the website The Clymb. This shoe was sick: 3mm thick sole, zero drop, uber lightweight. I loved it....for 10 minutes. I wore them around the house and then outside to take out the trash. When I came back in I noticed that on the tip of the toe on one shoe the upper was coming apart from the sole. I had to return them, and I'm waiting on my next chance to buy another pair. It was a great shoe.

For more info and reviews on minimalist footwear, check out these great sites!
Birthday Shoes
Minimalist Running Shoes

Thank you for sitting through this long-ass post; if anyone has any questions please feel free to ask away! Have a great day, and go lift something heavy!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Self-Limiting Exercises

I don't see most of my clients enough; if it were up to me, everyone would train with me 3 days per week and have a fourth day of exercise that was programmed by me. I don't think this way because I'd make more money this way; I think this way because it would get the best results for my clients.

just because
Programming extra days for clients is always a little tricky. If I see someone once per week, and try to program 3 days of exercise on their own, you're damned tootin' that most of it won't get done. Same for clients I see twice a week, if I plan on them doing two lifts on their own I would expect most of it to not get done, or to get done improperly.

This is not to say that my clients are dumb (they certainly are not) or that I'm a bad trainer (I'm the Man), it's simply suggesting that clients will often forget the right way to do things, or something else will come up. Most people get a trainer so that they can be held accountable for their workouts; if they're suddenly expected to do something on their own, many will fail to do it. Simple human nature. 

Armed with this knowledge, I like to give clients exercises to do on their own that will provide them with an appropriate training stimulus with very little room for error. The exercises that I choose for the are often self-limiting exercises; that is, exercises that they will simply be unable to do if they do them improperly. 

Why do I do this? So I can help ensure that they will be getting a good training effect without me watching them, while decreasing their risk of hurting themselves! Here are some suggestions.

Front Squat: One of the "safer" squat variations; the front squat won't allow the client to squat anymore than they can while maintaining a very erect torso. If the client leans too far forward while front squatting, they'll simply dump the bar. No big deal!

Overhead Squat: To be honest, not an exercise I do with very many clients. Most simply don't have the mobility to make me comfortable prescribing this lift. However, it is very much a self-limiting exercise. Once you get to your "breaking point" with this lift, it's a wrap. There's very little room to grind out any reps with the overhead squat.

Kettlebell Bottoms-Up Press: This great overhead press variation does double duty as a grip strength exercise as well as a vertical push. Because of the grip requirement, the intensity (weight) of this exercise will be significantly lower than a conventional overhead press; which is a good thing. An exercise that uses a lower weight with the same level of difficulty decreases a clients ability to hurt themselves. Boom goes the dynamite!

Loaded Carries: I love prescribing loaded carries for clients to do on their own for several reasons. The first is the endless variations I can prescribe; they never get old. The second is the metabolic challenge that a good set of carries provides. Third is their efficacy; it's just a good fucking lift. Lastly is that the ability to hurt yourself doing loaded carries is really low. This is an exercise that is fully grip-dependent; once your grip goes, you're dunzo.

If you can't get your clients to train with you 3-4 days a week, but still need to get the a training effect when they work out on their own, try one some of these exercises. They'll get in a good session and will have to be really creative about ways to hurt themselves.

Have a great day and go lift something heavy!