Sunday, February 7, 2016

Its Just Science, Yo

You might see a trend emerging here. Since transitioning into a more traditional career and becoming a father, I've become a bit enamored with time management.

I love finding ways to be more effective and efficient. Much of this inspiration has come from following Tim Ferriss' work. If its something that "tickles your fancy" as well, I would highly recommend reading The 4 hour Workweek, 4 Hour Chef, 4 Hour Body and his podcast.

Much of his content centers around experimentation across various disciplines to extrapolate the elements that make top performers so successful. I've been able to implement a lot of this in my training, career and day-to-day life.

Basically if you do something long enough, trends emerge. By analyzing these trends (ones that work and ones that don't) you can determine what particular behaviors and actions yield the best results.

One of my big takeaways has been embracing the necessity of experimentation. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so its hard for me to let go of trying to get it right the first time. Stop overthinking and just do it already! Just use a little common sense of course.

We learn the most from getting out there and screwing up a bunch of times first. If success was measured solely by the number of times one crashes and burns, I'd probably be sitting up there with Mark Zuckerberg and Joe Francis by now. Surprising I hadn't caught on to this a little earlier.

To be fair, I've embraced and had success with much of this when it comes to training and nutrition, but I did a lot of dumb stuff for a lot of years before I saw the success I wanted. Probably from age 14-25 if I'm being completely honest with myself. I'm just surprised I haven't applied more of it in other areas of life.

If I were to give one piece of advice on how to make this work for you, it would be this:


Like, a lot of shit. Your training log, nutrition, thoughts, feelings, behaviors, activity at work, whatever. There's no way you will know what works best until you have gathered a decent amount of data to draw conclusions from.

Now do I write everything down? Hell no. I'm not a lunatic. I don't have time for all that, but I am diligent about my training log and keeping a journal. This gives me a good amount of data to pull from. Plus its good to get it all on paper so it's not floating around upstairs.

Practical fitness example: Lets say you trained hard for 12 weeks and your squat went up 30 pounds. A smart person would have kept a fairly detailed training log the entire time. If you didn't, you have no data to determine how you accomplished this. So how will you replicate this to continue getting those "gainz"?

Same thing with nutrition. If you lost or gained 20lbs depending on your goal, how will you continue that if you didn't keep some kind of food and activity log?

This isn't anything revolutionary. Its just science, yo. So start writing some stuff down. Log your data, analyze it, and draw some conclusions.

Now for this week's training.

Training Log

Sunday - Full Body

1A. Handstand holds - 3x60sec
1B. Front Levers - 3x10sec

2A. KB Swing - 60# x4x20
2B. Suspension Push Ups - 4x15

3A. Suspension Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat (RFESS) - 3x20
3B. Chin Ups - 15, 10, 5

4A. Suspension Tricep Ext. - 3x10-15
4B. Toes to Bar - 3x10

Tuesday - Lower Body

1. Deficit Deadlift (3")
3x5 @ 355

2. Front Squat
3x10 @ 175
175 w/ 5 sec pause x 5,3,2

3A. Back Raise - 3x20
3B. RKC Plank

Friday - Upper Body

1. Slingshot Bench (*no slingshot)
315x3,2 (cluster)

2. DB Bench - 80x4x10

3A. Incline Chest Fly - 2x15
3B. Neutral Chins - 4x8

4. Wide T-bar row - 2x12

5A. Straight Leg Dead Bugs - 3x10 each
5B. Reverse Curl - 3x12

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Thoughts on "Early Fatherhood" and This Week's Training

Nothing really prepares you for being a dad. We're all (hopefully) taught through life that success is about good preparation. I feel especially strong about preparation due to my time in the fitness industry. To achieve optimal results, one should really have some type of plan/program to follow.  "Fail to plan and plan to fail". Otherwise you can expect mediocre results at best. You think Peyton Manning and Cam Newton are just going to "wing it" next Sunday?

Prepartaion, at least in early fatherhood, pretty much goes out the window. Babies are some of the most unpredictable beings that exist. I thought my wife was unpredictable. Then my son came along. "How are you hungry again?". "Are you ever going to sleep though the night?"

Fatherhood is an incredible, amazing experience. It's also pretty daunting.

Prior to Peyton's arrival, many told me parenthood was a "game changer" or "show stopper". Even those terms don't quite cut it. Your life truly isn't your own anymore. Simply leaving the house for a couple hours seems like a tall order. Don't even get me started on sleep. How did everything change so quickly? It's still early, but I'm learning you just roll with it and develop new routines and systems that work.

I find myself reflecting on my time as a trainer. Many of my clients were busy parents needing my sage advice.

I asked them to do what? "You really need to get 6 hours of exercise per week". "Track all your macros". Piece of cake right? Sure Matt.

I'm not saying its impossible, just a lot harder than I knew then. Now here I am in their shoes. Sleep deprived and irritable. Its even worse for Jodie. All the pumping and feedings have her pretty pooped. She is amazing.

Speaking of irritable I'm definitely not myself at times. Patience is at an all time low. My co-workers probably think I'm an asshole. Oh well. I think I get a pass on this one. Any  parent has gone through some degree of all this.

All this said, fatherhood is awesome. All the sacrifice and change is totally worth it. There is nothing like coming home to that little bundle of joy every day and seeing him smile.

I can't wait for what the future has in store.

Training Log

As previously mentioned, I take a very minimal approach to training as far as exercise selection in concerned. I have 1 hour max to train at the gym Tuesdays and Thursdays and train 1-2 days at home in my garage. I know what is going to yield maximum results for my time investment so I stick to that. If I spend 40 minutes in the squat rack I know that is time well spent rather than wasting time moving equipment around and changing stations. This is whats known as "training economically". I'm also get shit for sleep so my energy levels aren't exactly stellar.

Training in the garage has been fun because the minimal equipment has inspired me to try some new stuff like front levers, L-sits, handstand push ups and other gymnastic movements.

Sunday - Full Body

1A. Handstand holds - 3x60sec + 1 push up (I've found I really suck at handstand push ups. I can only do 2.)
1B. Front Levers - 3x10sec of shitty looking front levers. Definitely need some practice here.

2A. KB Swing - 60# x3x20
2B. Suspension Push Ups - 3x15

3A. Suspension Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat (RFESS) - 3x15-20
3B. Chin Ups - 15, 10, 5

4A. Suspension Tricep Ext. - 3x10-15
4B. Toes to Bar - 3x10

5, 1-1-2 Hammer Curls - 1x however many I could do.

Tuesday - Lower Body

1. High Bar Squat (beltless)
2x10 @ 45

2. Prone Ham Hurl - 4x10
3. Abs & Calves

Thursday - Upper Body

1. Close Grip Bench

2A. Seated DB OH Press
2B. Neutral Chins - 3x10

3. 1 Arm DB Row - 100x2x10

4. Triceps & Abs

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Its a Bird! Its a Plane! Its a...Post?

Yes, its a post. I'm still alive and well. I wasn't abducted by aliens....or was I?

It may come as no surprise that I've been extremely busy and focused on other matters over the last year or so. I've become a father, which is awesome, and the new career has been progressing well. With all the life changes I felt it best that I take a break from writing altogether.

Lately I've been doing some reflection and realized that I missed writing. I'm very introspective (aka I think a lot), so I find it therapeutic to put my thoughts to paper. The difference moving forward is this time, I want to focus more on writing about what I'm passionate about and less on being so informative. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy dropping the occasional knowledge bomb or two, but letting things flow more organically will be a good thing.

Obviously fitness is a huge part of who I am, but what else "floats my boat"? I'm a pretty simple guy, so the list is limited to family, good food, beer, sports and binge watching TV. So that's what I'll write about. More of a weekly journal/topic on my thoughts as a lifter, father, husband, and nerd included with my training journal. Then I'll go from there. Super simple.


With all the new responsibilities and changes, my training has become very minimalist. Not that this was a huge change anyway. I've always found less is more. I'm currently perform 2 heavy training sessions/week in the gym and do GPP style workouts at home in the garage. I think most busy folks can and should train this way. You have plenty of time to recover so you don't feel beat up. There is also no time for bullshit exercises. As long as you show up and work hard, progress will still be made.

Tuesday - Lower Body

1. Deficit Deadlift (3") - 3x3 @ 375
2. Conventional Deadlift (touch & go) - 375x10
3. Front Squat - 4x10 @ 165

4A. Back Raise - 3x20
4B. Stir The Pot - 3x10 each way
5. Misc Calves

Thursday - Upper Body Focus

1. Slingshot Bench - 280x9, 280x(5, 3, cluster set)
2. DB Bench - 75x4x10

3A. Incline Chest Fly - 2x15
3B. Chins (various grips) - 3x10
4. Wide T-bar row - 2x12

5A. Hanging Straight Leg Raise - 3x15
5B. Reverse Curl - 2x15

Monday, March 2, 2015

Just Stick to the Plan!

I'm sure we've all heard the old saying; "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail". One could argue this is the single biggest culprit for people's lack of progress.

Regardless of one's goals, I'm a firm believer in planning. Whether it has to go with work, personal finances, or fitness you really should have some sort of plan in place to get from point A to point B. It doesn't have to be exceedingly complex or expensive either.

Any plan is better than no plan at all. Don't overthink it. Just find something that seems to line up with your goals and follow it to the letter.

I've written before that I have a tendency to overthink things. When I began my fitness career I made this mistake when writing programs. I would spend hours crafting the most elaborate programs that would seemingly shape the next Channing Tatum, but they didn't always work. Why? It wasn't a program the individual would follow diligently. At the end of the day. the best program is one the person will actually follow.

I recently read THIS post by Bryan Krahn about a similar topic. You just need something that you will stick with from inception to completion.

I think this is one reason why Crossfit is so popular. Sure much of the programming is myopic, but that's what the general fitness crowd wants. Most people have training ADD. They want "entertrainment". Constantly varied workouts keep these people engaged and coming back for more. Its not necessarily the method that produces results, just that these individuals keep showing up.

So where to begin? Below I'll list a few programs I would recommend by fitness level. You can find all of these online for free or relatively cheap.

There are no "foo foo" programs listed below. You have to be willing to put in hard work to get results after all. I haven't provided links to any of them either. The information is out there. Go get it and learn something!

Beginner Programs

The thing you need to remember about a beginners is they have a HUGE window of adaptation. Basically everything works. Honestly as a beginner, you can pick from any number of free programs found online and see progress. The mistake most make is having ADD and jumping ship before completion. Pick something and see it through. Below are some programs I would recommend to get the most out of this very important beginner stage.

1. Starting Strength - Mark Rippetoe
Rippetoe's Starting Strength is probably the best beginner program there is. Using this program, a solid foundation of strength can be built to accomplish nearly any goal. One caveat is this is not the best program for older individuals with a history of injury or poor movement foundation.

2. Bulletproof Athlete - Mike Robertson
Robertson's bulletproof athlete program isn't just for beginners. Lifters of all skill levels can benefit from taking a step back to re-build a solid foundation. I would recommend this for just about anyone.

3. T-nation
T-nation is one of the best free resources for strength training on the web. Over the years they have published hundreds of programs you have access to for free. Whatever your goal, you can probably find a program to follow and make progress with.

Intermediate Programs

After one has a year or more of training under the belt, intermediate level programming is necessary to keep making progress. Most dedicated fitness enthusiasts are intermediates and will spend most of their training "careers" in this stage. As such, there are a TON of these out there. My favorites are below.

1. 5/3/1 - Jim Wendler
Excellent program to improve strength and build your training around for years to come. Easy to follow and modify to fit your lifestyle.

2. The Texas Method - Mark Rippetoe
The next logical step to Starting Strength when progress begins to stall. Slightly more complex than 5/3/1, but just as effective.

3. The Cube Method - Brandon Lilly
Very similar to the Texas Method listed above. My biggest reservation about this one is the lack of "autoregulation" present. Still a solid program overall.

4. Show and Go - Eric Cressey
Very effective program that is completely done for you. Includes variations you can choose based on your lifestyle. Although I haven't tried it yet, I'm sure his newest program The High Performance Handbook is excellent as well.

5. Lift Weights Faster - Jen Sinkler
Not a ton of structure here, but an excellent resource with a ton of variety. Literally hundreds of workouts organized by length (ranging from 10-30 minute workouts) and equipment available.

Advanced Programs

Advanced programming is reserved for those who have chosen to specialize in a particular sport. Programming is highly specific and less of a variety of exercises are used. Volume is generally very high as well. As it pertains to strength training, most advanced programs are used by strength athletes (powerlifters, olympic lifters, strongman etc.). Other athletes spend time actually playing their sport to get better and follow intermediate strength programming. I'm going to take a wild guess and say most of you reading this aren't at this stage, so I won't spend much time elaborating on these.

1. Smolov

2. Smolov Jr.

3. Sheiko

4. Bulgarian Method

Closing Thoughts

If you are unfamiliar, do a quick search on the above programs and decide which is the best for you. Be honest with yourself and where you are with your training! If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment below.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Random Meathead Thoughts and Stuff You Should Read - 2/22/15

Its funny how life changes can alter ones perspective. Since making a career change I haven't had much time or mental energy for writing. I think its been about 6 months since my last post (eek!). This move has definitely been one of the more challenging and humbling things I have endured in my life. 

On top of the obvious physical transition of working in an office, I've gone from the "expert" to the complete novice. People used to come to me for all the answers, now the tables have turned. There have been several times where I've thought "I suck at this" or "What the hell am I doing?". I'm sure many of my personal training clients have had these thoughts while going through their own changes. Regardless of the task, we can't continue to grow as individuals unless we step outside our comfort zone. 

There are many things about training full time that I miss, but others I don't. Currently, I train about 3-4 hours/week in person and work with a handful of clients online. Not surprisingly, I enjoy these few hours I spend each week more than I did the 45-50 hours/week I used to spend working in the fitness biz full time. My mind is fresh and I stress about it much less because its not my main source of income. 

The fitness business is very volatile. Your livelihood largely depends on the schedule, physical state and emotional state of others.  It is much more stressful when a client gets sick, travels, or flakes out when your livelihood depends on their attendance. The rewards of coaching others to be better versions of themselves are great, but it comes at a cost. 

All this said, one thing hasn't changed. I'm still a meathead.

I still think about training all the time and am trying to learn more. Using this knowledge to improve my own training keeps me grounded. I feel it is my duty to share this knowledge. "Pay it forward" if you will. Learning and teaching are a big part of who I am. 

There's an overwhelming amount of information out there. It's very easy for the average gym-goer to get confused and overwhelmed. This is where a good fitness professional has value. Obtaining the information is no longer an issue, finding the right information is. The days of the rep-counting trainer are long gone. The ability to serve as a coach and mentor are paramount. I recently read something by Jon Goodman, a well respected pro in the industry, stating a trainer’s role has changed from information provider to information make-senser. I couldn't agree more.

So that's my mission. I'll be keeping it very simple from here on out. If you're looking for someone to cut through a the bullshit and point you in the right direction in a practical way, look no further. Check out some of my favorite articles from the past week or so below. 

Throw Out Your Expectations - Sheena Leedham

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Training Log 8/3/14

Ever have one of those weeks where every day you need a spatula to peel yourself out of bed? Yeah that was me this past week. Every day I had to resist the urge to hit that snooze button for the 4th or 5th time.

Make no mistake though, training in the early morning is the absolute best. The atmosphere is much more conducive to success. Everyone in the gym at 5 or 6 am is there to do work. No obnoxious teenagers. No housewives chatting it up between sets of pink dumbbell curls. No guys doing roundhouse kick-provoking stuff like this:

I've also had a chance to make some new friends with like-minded individuals. All-in-all, this change is stacking up to be a good one.

This Week's Training:

Aside from struggling to get out of bed, this week's training was pretty solid. One thing I probably need to work on more is shoulder pre-hab. I've noticed my shoulders feeling a little more stiff, which could be a new consequence of having a desk job. So, I'll be sure to address this moving forward.

Monday - Lower Body Focus

1. Low Bar Squat - 6x2 @ 285
2. Oly Squat - 2x5 @ 305, 1x8 @ 285

3A. Ab Wheel Rollouts - 3x12
3B. GHR - 3x8
3C. St. Leg Raise - 3x10-12
3D. Farmer's Walk - 2x30sec @ 105 each, 1x max distance

Wednesday - Upper Body Focus

1. Bench - 1x6 @ 255
2. Close Grip Bench - 275x3, 275x4, 225x6

3A. Pendlay Row - 4x8
3B. Db Bench Mechanical Drop Sets - 2x max @ ~45, 20 & 0 degree incline

4A. Chin ups (various grips) - 3x max reps
4B. Pallof press - 2x3x10s holds
4C. Chest supported rear laterals - 2x12
4D. Triceps - Tate press + rolling triceps - 2x max reps each

Friday - Lower Body Focus

1. Deadlift - 3x2 @ 445, 1x1 @ 475
2. Snatch Grip RDL w/ straps - 1x10 @ 225, 3x8 @ 275

3A. Ham Curl - 3x10
3B. 3 month KB Pullover w/ pause - 3x10
3C. Meadows Row - 3x10

4. Turkish Get Ups - 5 mins continuous alternating arms

Sunday - GPP

1A. Kb Swings - 10, 10, 15, 15, 20, 20
1B. Suspension Curls - 5x10

2A. SL Offset Kb RDL - 3x8
2B. Suspension Tricep Extensions - 3x15

3. Hill Sprints - 3x100 yds

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Training Log 7/20/14 - 7/26/14

My writing has been pretty slow as of late. Admittedly, I've been trying to focus on learning the ropes with the new job, so creative juices have been in shorter supply these last several weeks. I'll still be writing about various topics that inspire me albeit slightly less frequently.

That being said, I thought keeping a log of my training could be a useful addition to the blog. I won't be posting these to social media very often, because I don't want to be THAT guy. You know the guy that is 250lbs, 5 percent body fat, squats 1000 and posts every "workout" to his Twitter page in between fist pumps.

I don't train to broadcast what I do to the world. I train because it keeps me sane and I love it. If some of you draw inspiration from what I do and learn something from how I do it, then mission accomplished. Also feel free to reach out with any questions in the comments section.

I currently am using a slightly bastardized version of Brandon Lily's Cube Method. I was skeptical at first for a few reasons.
  • I didn't think the intensity of this program was high enough to elicit the strength gains I am looking for. With cube training, you only train "heavy" once per week with the other days being either dynamic or repetition-based. It's always been my belief that you need to train at or above 80% of IRM most weeks for strength. 
  • Second, frequency is low. You only train each lift once per week. For the average trainee this is fine, but for powerlifting I feel that performing the big lifts multiple times per week is more optimal. 
After some careful thought, I said screw it and vowed to give it a go. For more information on the Cube Method check out THIS article.

I'm currently 4 weeks into the training cycle and I can honestly say it has been great. The rotation of modalities has been a welcome change and allows me to recover much better from week to week. I'm excited to see where this takes me.

This Week's Training:

Monday - Lower Body Focus

1. Low Bar Squat - 3x2 @ 345
2. Oly Squat - 2x2 @ 365

3A. Ab Wheel Rollouts - 3x10 @ 25
3B. GHR - 3x6
3C. St. Leg Raise - 3x10-12
3D. Farmer's Walk - 3x30sec @ 105 each

Wednesday - Upper Body Focus

1. Bench - 6x2 @ 225
2. Close Grip Bench - 2x5 @ 245

3A. Pendlay Row - 4x6
3B. Db Bench - 2x10 + Rest Pause

4A. Chin ups (various grips) - 2x max reps
4B. Dead Bug - 2x8 each
4C. Chest supported rear laterals - 2x12
4D. Pallof press - 2x3x10s holds

Friday - Lower Body Focus

1. Deadlift - 1x6 @ 425, 3x1 @ 425
2. Snatch Grip RDL w/ straps - 3x10 @ 265
* DLs felt great today. Light and explovive. Took a little extra time to warm up abs.

3A. Ham Curl - 3x10
3B. 3 month KB Pullover w/ pause - 3x10
3C. Meadows Row - 3x10

4. Walking Lunges - 1x40 steps

Saturday - GPP

Random assortment of KB swings, snatches and direct arm work.