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!