October 3rd, 2017

“We are being held momentarily by the train’s dispatcher”

Eyes droop,

Lips purse,

Feet begin to tap with discontent. 

Impatience sets in,

As if eagerly awaiting a loved ones return. 

But they groan and they mumble,

For what will only take a minute. 

What is really so important,

That they must anger over such a small delay?

Their safety, health, well being – intact. 

Yet somehow tempers break like shattered glass.

“Thank you for your patience”

An unexpected jolt of inertia. 

Eyes brighten,

Lips part in conversation,
Feet now tap to the beat of the tune.

Suddenly they are relieved. 

Training Like Olympians

The Olympics have been over for about a week, but they’re definitely not out of mind. After spending hours watching different athletes in different sports compete at the highest level, I started to think a little bit about how I could accelerate my progress and how I could advance my level of skill, specifically in powerlifting. And what I learned most was something I think we can all learn from and use to help us all progress and become stronger, healthier, and happier.

There’s a reason why Olympic athletes become Olympic athletes. And while genetic predisposition plays a large part in this, what also makes them Olympians is the amount of time that each competitor spends perfecting their craft and skill.

And while we may not have 3 hours a day to dedicate to lifting weights, running, or any physical activity, what we must make time to craft our skill, to perfect our movements so that we don’t become injured and therefor incapable of performing them in the first place. And a huge part of achieving this this is by the proper use of warmups and stretches.

On and off camera before an Olympic event, athletes are taking their time warming up, stretching, and getting themselves physically and mentally prepared to compete. This may last for an hour leading up to their event. But these routines allow them to run faster and lift more weight than anyone in the world.

Now we all aren’t going to be breaking any world records (or maybe we will), but we can train like Olympians. In order to stay healthy and compete at the highest level, Olympic athletes understand the importance of warming up and cooling down. When we only have maybe an hour a day to exercise, we often skip this step and jump right into exercise to save time and get straight to work.

But why would we do this if we know that the most elite athletes all around the world would never skip their warm up routine because it is so crucial to injury prevention and exercise preparedness?

If this step is crucial to any Olympic athlete who has been able to achieve amazing athletic feats, that must mean that it is even more important to the every day gym goer, since we are far less skilled and practiced as these athletes are. 

Olympians train nearly every day in some capacity. And every day they warm up and take care of their bodies so they don’t become injured. For those of us who don’t train every day of our lives, we are even more susceptible to injury because we don’t have the time to perfect our form and to practice tirelessly to perfection. Which is why the warm up is even more important to us regular athletes.

Most of us will never be the fastest runner in the world, or the heaviest lifter, but no matter how fast we can run or how much we can lift, taking the time to warm up and stretch like an Olympian will allow you to continue training and keep yourself injury free so that you will continue to grow stronger, instead of rushing into things, trying to go too hard, and then injuring yourself every 6 months and setting back your progress because you didn’t take your warm up seriously and with the mindset of a world class athlete.

Warm up like an Olympian, because they know the important role it has in keeping them healthy. And if you only have an hour to exercise, prioritize warming up and stretching before you touch a single weight because in the long term, a healthy and more mobile body will get you much farther (literally and metaphorically) than an injured and broken one. This will allow you to live a strong, healthy, and happy life for the longest you possibly can.

My New Training Program

Just to give some insight into what I’m up to at the gym, below is the program I am following for the next 2 months. I typically change my workout parameters in intervals of 6-8 weeks and I currently just came off of a higher-volume routine during the summer. Now I’m focusing on adding more weight instead of adding more reps. I’m cutting down the volume and focusing on primarily core compound lifts with as much weight as I can while maintaining good form. The goal? To get my body used to lower rep counts again and increase my pound for pound strength and nervous response as much as possible with low volume and heavy weight.


Day 1: Legs & Core

  1. Deep Squats: 2×4 straight into 4×2
    • These two first sets are mainly warm ups for activating my muscles and stabilizers. These first two sets are slow, with a pause at the bottom of the movement. Short rests.
    • Then, I am performing doubles for 4 sets. My rests are about ~2.5 minutes, however for the last set it’s usually lift when ready (LWR)
  2. Dumbbell Step Ups: 4×6 (each leg)
    • Classic DB Step Ups. As heavy as I can go while maintaining good form. Rests ~1.5 – 2 min.
  3. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts: 3×5
    • I use dumbbells here because I tend to get a better extension in my hamstrings. Just a personal preference. Rests ~1.5 – 2 min.
  4. Dumbbell Lunges: 3×5 (each leg)
    • Rests ~1.5 – 2 min.
  5. Leg Raises: 3x As many as possible (AMAP)
    • Short Rests ~45 sec.
  6. Oblique Raises: 2×30 (each side)
    • Short Rests ~45 sec.

Day 2: Chest & Triceps

  1. Bench Press: 2×4 straight into 4×2
    • Same notes as Deep Squats
  2. Dumbbell Decline Fly: 10, 8, 6, 15
    • Follows a 4 set pattern with rep counts above. Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min.
  3. Dumbbell Incline Press: 10, 8, 6, 15
    • Follows a 4 set pattern with rep counts above. Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min.
  4. Heavy Weighted Dips: 3xAMAP
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  5. Dumbbell Scull Crushers: 3×6
    • I use dumbbells just as personal preference. As heavy as I can with good form. Rests ~1.5 – 2 min
  6. Tricep Rope Extension: 3×8
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min

Day 3: Back & Biceps

  1. Deadlift: 2×4 straight into 4×2
    • Same notes as Deep Squats
  2. Barbell Heavy Ground Rows: 4×6
    • Row from the ground and pull the bar up to your nipple line for proper upper back contraction
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  3. Dumbbell 1 Arm Rows: 4×6
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  4. Weighted Pull-Ups: 3xAMAP
    • As heavy as I can while performing a minimum of 6 reps
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  5. Weighted Chin-Ups: 3xAMAP
    • Same notes as above
  6. Barbell Curls: 3×5
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min

Day 4: Shoulders & Core

  1. Barbell Shoulder Press: 2×4 straight into 4×2
    • Same notes as Deep Squats
  2. Dumbbell Arnold Press: 4×6
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  3. Dumbbell Lateral Raises: 3×5
    • Good form is a MUST here
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  4. Barbell Shrugs: 3×8
    • Rest intervals ~1.5 – 2 min
  5. Cable Crunch: 3×8
    • Rest intervals ~1 min
  6. Side Cable Pulls (3 Angles): 3×8
    • Rest intervals ~1 min
  7. Medicine Ball V-Ups: 3×15
    • Rest intervals ~1 min
  8. Leg Raises: 3xAMAP
    • Rest intervals ~1 min

Day 5: Cardio

My cardio day will rotate weekly between:

  1. Row/Sprint Medley
  2. 30 minute run @ 70%

Leg day needs to be everyone’s favorite day

You heard me. It’s time to break down the barriers and have everyone who lifts or is thinking about lifting appreciate the wonders of leg day. Here are 4 reasons why everyone needs to train legs at LEAST once a week.

1.Legs are the Foundation of Strength

Your legs are like the trunk of a tree. It’s the foundation, the base, and the reason why certain trees are huge, grow tall and people go to admire, and it’s also the reason why certain trees are skinny, easily sway in the wind and uproot. Don’t be a tree with a skinny trunk. Your body works from the ground up – everything your body does begins with the contact your feet make with the ground, and energy is translated from the ground up through your body. Having a solid and strong base makes your overall strength improve and makes you a more balanced person. Everything you do starts with your legs, and that’s the mentality you need in the gym as well.

2. Muscular Imbalances Create Injury

Neglecting your legs will only lead to injury and muscular imbalances. If you don’t work out your legs, you’ll be as unstable as a house of cards. It also creates a lot of imbalance throughout your entire body which can lead to injury in your hips and knees, as well as diminish your growth and strength potential for the rest of your body. Squatting and training legs will improve your deadlift numbers, and even your bench. Ignoring any muscle is bad for your body, and since the legs are your biggest muscle group, this is a huge mistake and can have long term repercussions.

3. Improve Overall Strength

Partially explained above, training your legs helps grow your entire body and make you stronger everywhere else. Almost every exercise involves making contact with your feet and the ground. This means your legs are used, to some extent, in every single exercise in the gym. On top of this, squatting and compound exercises for the legs use other muscle groups as well including your back, shoulders, and core. So you’re missing out on extra training for the muscles you love by skipping leg day.

4. Athleticism

It’s not hard to convince and athlete to train legs, because almost every athlete understands the importance of leg strength. But even if you aren’t an athlete, you should train like one. Gaining power and strength in the legs helps daily life – it makes moving furniture easier, walking up the stairs becomes no problem, and almost any other daily activity is benefited from training your legs. Gaining explosiveness and power in your legs makes you athletic and more functional, and a functional and useful body is always an attractive body, an attractive body is not always a functional and useful one.


Just because we can’t see our legs as often as the rest of our body does not mean it should be ignored at all. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Those upper body muscles that we all love to train are often times the less useful and functional ones. Great, your biceps help elbow flexion (hint, elbow flexion is one of the least functional uses of the body. Sarcasm intended) and look sexy, but training them twice a week instead of using that second day to train legs needs to stop.  You’re not doing yourself any favors.

Here’s a little program to follow and to be performed once a week. It’s great if you currently don’t train legs, or if you want to take some of these moves and drop them in your normal routine.

These moves are to be performed in this order, with rest intervals of about 1 to 2 minutes in between each set. (Each of the exercises below are linked to YouTube videos to demonstrate and instruct on each of the moves.)

1. Squat – 5×5

2. Dumbbell Step Ups – 3×8 (that’s 8 for each leg)

3. Leg Press – 3×8

4. Single Leg Split Squat – 3×8 (8 each leg)

5. Neutral Calf Raises – 3×15

Explosive Athletic Leg and Back Routine

Here’s a workout I do every other week instead of a cardio day. The routine focuses on explosive athletic strength in the legs and back, two very important muscle groups for athletes. It’ll also kill your shoulders, too. So here it is:

Start with a dynamic warm-up with sprints, dynamic stretching, and some body weight squats.

The Workout

1. Deep Explosive Squats: 2 sets of 4 reps (medium weight with medium rest intervals) right into 4 sets of 2 reps (as heavy as you can go with long rest intervals focusing on a deep squat with good form)

2. Hang Cleans: 5 x 5 (medium high weight with medium rest intervals)

3. Box Jumps: (Medium High) 8 jumps back to back for 5 sets (medium to long rest intervals)

4. Single Dumbbell Clean: 4 x 6 (high weight with long rest intervals)

5. Rope Slam Medley: 30 slams each – alternating wave, crossover waves, double rope power slam (short to medium rest intervals)

6. Dumbbell Farmers Carry: 3 – 30 yard walks (heavy weight with medium rest intervals)

The importance of getting angry at the gym

I see this all the time at any gym I am in: people going through the motions and looking like they are bored and not challenging themselves during their workout. If this sounds like you, I ask that you read this post with an open mind and just hear me out. If you tend to work out pretty routinely, but don’t like it, are always tired, or for any other reason and you don’t feel like you are getting results, a simple fix may be to just get angry. This can work for those who are sluggish in the gym, or who just want to see better results. The easy question one may ask is, well, “why?” And, “what do you mean by angry?” Let me tell you: Getting angry at the gym means before your set, before you step on the treadmill, just get mad. Think about something that fires you up. This may be your boss earlier in the day, or anything that you are currently dealing with. Even get angry at the fact that you aren’t lifting as much as you want to or running as fast as you want to. Tap into that anger and/or stress, and take it out in your workout. Anger in the gym is a great motivator and energy booster. It will intensify your workouts and it will also make your workouts more therapeutic. (See my post Why Everyone, I Mean Everyone Should Go To The Gym to learn more about the benefits and reasons to go to the gym and lift). If you spend a lot of time at the gym with a calm mind, more often than not you will just end up going through the motions in your workout and not make the best of your time at the gym. Getting angry and mad makes you want to work. Put your headphones in, blast some music, and get down to business. There’s a reason why you are taking time out of your day to go to the gym and you should not let that go to waste. This anger should not last during your entire workout, however. In between rests or sets you should calm yourself as much as possible, breathe deep, then channel your energy and get mad again when it’s time to work. This may seem weird, and may cause you to grunt and make all kinds of weird faces at the gym, but embrace it. Plenty of people in the gym do it. You may think it’s annoying or embarrassing, but pay attention to who those people are next time you are there. More often than not they are in pretty good shape. The gym is an open environment to get down and dirty. It’s a primitive environment, you are lifting heavy things or running as fast as you can. It’s where everyone goes to improve themselves. So turn the treadmill up a couple notches, add a little more weight, turn up your music, and work hard no matter how it makes you look, sound, or act. Getting angry isn’t always the solution. But it may be the one you need to increase the effectiveness of your workouts and to start or end your day with a nice little therapy session.

Beginner’s Guide to Lifting

So you’re starting to lift. Or thinking about lifting. Well look no further because here’s a great program to get you started. Guy or girl, this program is great for getting total body core strength. I will include YouTube links below that are pretty good, and short, videos explaining each of the moves. If this will be the first time performing these moves, watch the videos carefully before using weight. It’s also best to go with someone who knows how to perform these moves so they can instruct you and spot you correctly.

How it Works:

This program follows an A/B format that is meant to be done twice a week for a total of 4 lifting days a week. Start on Monday with A, Tuesday with B, rest Wednesday, then repeat A and B Thursday and Friday, respectively. This makes for a great weekend of active rest and cardio training to round out your week. When weight training, rest intervals should be about 45 seconds to 1 minute max between each set. Both routines cover the whole body with compound and some isolation exercises, with A focusing more on Legs and Chest, and B focusing more on Back and Shoulders.

The Program:

A.

1. Barbell Back Squats – 5 sets of 5 reps (5×5)

2. Barbell Bench Press – 5 x 5

3. Single Leg Split Squat – 3 sets of 8-10 reps (each leg)

4. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 3 sets of 8-10 reps

5. Wide Grip Pull Ups – 3 sets of as many reps as possible (AMRAP)

6. Dips – 3 sets of AMRAP

B.

1. Deadlift – 5 x 5

2. Dumbbell Overhead Press – 5 x 5

3. Narrow Grip Pull Ups – 3 sets of AMRAP

4. Dumbbell Side Lateral Raises – 3 sets of 8-10

5. Dumbbell Step-Ups – 3 sets of 8-10 reps (each leg)

6. Dumbbell Flat Bench Press – 3 sets of 8-10

Tips:

  • Pick a weight that will be hard enough so you barely complete the last repetition of each set
  • Really try to focus on activating the muscles you are meant to be using during each exercise
  • BREATHE. Breathe out when exerting positive force and when you are contracting your muscles, and breathe in when completing the negative portion of the move
  • Drink lots of water. Take a good sip every other set to keep yourself hydrated during your workout
  • Enjoy it! It will be difficult, but it’s supposed to be that way. If it is too easy, pick a different weight, too difficult, go lighter. After performing the workouts a few times you’ll get much better at the moves and it will get more fun as time goes on

The Moves:

1. Barbell Back Squat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFAscG0XUNY

2. Barbell Bench Press: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRVjAtPip0Y

3. Single Leg Split Squat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiTzgL2wPn8

4. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iPEnn-ltC8

5. Wide Grip Pull Up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqEaeXtGu9M

6. Dips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjUmnZH528Y

7. Deadlift: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyJbvWAh6ec

8. Dumbbell Overhead Press: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEwKCR5JCog

9. Dumbbell Step Ups: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wcgEGQN5_U

10. Dumbbell Flat Bench Press: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmB1G1K7v94

11. Dumbbell Side Lateral Raises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VcKaXpzqRo