Monthly Archives: July 2012

This Weeks Good Reads 07/20/12

Do you remember the first time you started exercise? Maybe you were sixteen years old, maybe it was two years ago, maybe you are just about to start. These are the times where no matter what you did made a difference in your strength or your physique. Only now you are doing the same things that worked then but now you look exactly the same, or even worse. This article explains why and how you can change all that. Use these five tips to blow past your plateau and reach grounds never before achieved.

Demolish Your Genetic Limits – Brad Schoenfeld

This is a very fun read. It is ten facts about the human body. Goes into how we get blisters and birthmarks, how heart attacks work and why stripes make many of us look fat. Check it out if you would like to learn some fun facts about the human body.

And no the why stripes make us look fat is not really on there.  I hope I didn’t get your hopes up.

10 Fascinating Facts About the Human Body Part 3

Trying to get strong, learn to master your body weight first.  If you can’t do pushups, pullups and some of these other moves, good luck trying to bench 300+ or any other feat of strength.

Top 20 Body-weight Exercise for Building Muscle Strength – Jason Ferruggia

Trying to get strong? Learn to master your body weight first. If you can’t do pushups, pull-ups and some of these other moves, good luck trying to bench 300+ or any other feat of strength.

30 Rules to Lift Like a Girl and Look Awesome – Nia Shanks

I always like to throw in good stuff for the ladies out there, so this way they don’t have to just hear about exercise from a guys’ point of view. But check out this post by Nia Shanks. I hate to say I told you so, but it is much of the same stuff I have been preaching all along, not just to the women reading, but the men as well. Check out these rules to help you get on track with your exercise program.

The Big Five: Deadlifts

I am going to play my first round of golf this summer on today, and am praying that I can keep the ball on my own fairway this time. Golf makes me feel as uncoordinated as Charles Barkley. But all that said, it will be a great time and am hoping to shoot under a hundred.

This next series will be rather long, I am going over the big five lifts that must be in everyone’s program. I don’t care what your goals are. If you are not doing dead-lifts, squats, pushups/bench press, pull-ups and one arm snatches, you are most likely not seeing results. And if you are still getting results without these five lifts, you are not maximizing your potential. They all help you with every goal imaginable from weight loss and becoming ridiculously shredded like Ryan Renolds to getting big and jacked up like the Hulk, all the way to those who just want to move better and have no pain. These are the lifts that should be the foundation of your exercise program.

The first exercise in the Big Five series is thedead-lift. This is probably my favoritelift and it has copious amounts of benefits for you.


  1. Develop pure strength– that would allow one to take over a small nation. This is every guys dream. On the other hand, ladies this exercise willhelp you not just become strong but help you gain muscle in every area that youalways dreamed of. And I swear you willnot get big and bulky, your endocrine system does not support it.
  2. Development of the glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and upperback- Now for the ladies this is the no brainer. Every woman wants a better backside, and dead-lifts will take you there faster than you could ever imagine. And in this age, with all the skinny jeans and fitted clothes, us guys better start addressing the no assatol disease that plagues the computer age (A little chemistry joke that was running in college).
  3. Improve Athletic Performance – It is common knowledge today that strength is a pivotal component in being successful in sports. After all if you are very strong you will run faster, jump higher, throw farther, swim faster and anything else you can think of. And by strong, I don’t mean you can bench press 300 pounds. That will not make you faster nor much of anything else above. I am talking about in the deadlift, where you will have strong glutes, hamstrings and lower back, all of extreme importance in every physical activity known to man. Not that having a big bench will not help you in sports; but everything works from the ground up, and that is where your dead-lifts start. Plus having a stronger more stable upper back from holding the bar, it will help increase your bench numbers as well. How is that for best bang for your buck?
  4. Injury Prevention – For those of you with low back and knee pain, or with regard any other pain. Whether or not you are rehabbing from a contact injury, or have nagging pains from over the years. Building strength throughout the glutes, hamstrings, low upper back will help keep you pain free. When these muscles are strong and activate properly they assist the lower back knee and elbows keeping you pain free and allowing you to do more.
  5. And the last reason you should do them is because it will make you more awesome. Why? Because dead-lifts bring out a recessive gene in all of us called C-5_totalawesomness. And only dead-lifts can bring that gene out of remission to make us truly awesome


When it comes to the dead-lift, it always starts from theground up. That being said, the first thing we focus on in the set up is:


Our foot is like a tripod. So we must use it as such. The foot has its three points of contact; the big toe, pinky toe and heel. When cueuing my clients, I have them put all their pressure on their big toe, and outside their heel. This drills the tripod stance into the person’s head, and keeps their foot from collapsing onto the inside of the foot.

Do not let the toes come off the floor. That means that you are not stable enough at the bottom then you will have zero chance for any big numbers. Use all three points of contact, and you will one up the rest.


The big key to the dead-lift is that we must get our butts back. We do not want our knees to be pushed forward over our toes. We want to be able to sit back so we can load up those glutes and hamstrings. This is our starting position, and is the position you must get yourself to at the bottom of every rep.


Once the butt is back, we want to be able to get the chest out and keep the lower back flat. This will allow us to keep a neutral spine. This allows just about every muscle in your body to properly work together to keep your spine healthy. Rounding out may make you a bit stronger, but it places a lot more sheer force on your spine. Something many of us do not want. Unless you are doing a very rare one rep max attempt, you should always keep this cue in mind.


This is an important cue that helps keep your core locked up tight. A big problem when people try to attempt heavy loads, or even light loads is that they do not know how to create stiffness throughout the entire body. By being able to take a full breath into your stomach and brace it, this creates inter-abdominal pressure that will help protect your spine. This will also help create a rigidity throughout the entire body (similar to a plank), that will allow you to transfer force better throughout the body. Thus, allowing one to be stronger at both sub-maximal and maximal loads.

Stay tuned for the second part of the deadlift series, where I talk more about deadlift variations and why they are useful in your program. As well as what are some of the most common flaws in many peoples techniques are.

Hip Mobility

The hips are one of two major joints in the body; the other is the shoulder. I spoke briefly about mobility and how we can obtain more of it in our shoulders. You can check that out here.

The hip is the joint that is fully responsible for locomotion and allows us to support the weight of our bodies as we move.  And over our life span, we sit and run too much; we bang up our bodies causing our hips to lose their normal patterns. Many of us have overactive psoas muscles because of a weak core and the kabillions of sit-ups that we do; weak glutes from sitting down and not squatting or deadlifting; as well as adductors and IT bands that are as dense as wood because these stabilizer muscles are taking on loads way too big for them.

And as all the above happens we lose the ability to hip extend, and learn to live in flexion.

There are two ways our body compensates to meet these demands:

1.  Is an anterior pelvic tilt.

2.  Is a posterior pelvic tilt.

What the differences are between the two is topic for another blog, so I will leave it at that.

Here are six offers you can’t refuse to why you should have better hip mobility:

1.  You can deadlift, squat and bench big.

2.  By being able to do all the above you will have a nice ass.

3.  You will be badass.

4.  You will become faster, and therefore, have moreintense interval runs.

5.  You will be able to drop it like it’s hot on thedance floor.

6.  You will have less knee and back pain.

Kneeling Rock-Backs

  •  Begin in a quadrouped position (all fours).
  •  Spread your knees apart as far as you cancomfortably.
  •  The further you spread your feet apart, the more you will feel the stretch.
  • Make sure you keep a neutral spine throughout the entire range of motion.
  • Start with hips over the knees, and push the hips towards your heels.
  • Hold for one second, and return to starting position.

Half-Kneeling Adductor Lunge

  • The setup requires the kneeling leg to be under your hip.
  • The other leg is going to line up with the knee of the down leg and be perpendicular as well.
  • Squeeze your glutes as tight as possible.
  • Drive the knee of the bent leg as far forward,over the toes as possible.
  • You should feel the stretch on the kneeling leg predominately.  If not, make sure your glutes are truly locked.

Internal Rotation Stretch

This is the big bang drill for many of us.  A lot of people have internal rotation defecits, as we all like to stand and load ourselves in abduction.  This is the perfect cure.  This stretch does take some practice to get right, but once you do, you will reap the rewards of it.

  • Lie on your back, and spread your feet as wide as you can.
  • Squeeze your glutes together and pull your knees together and towards your toes.
  • While doing that, try to pull your feet in opposite directions (without actually moving your feet).
  • You should feel this stretch in the outside of your hips and not in your groin or knees.

Hip Flexor Stretch on Wall with Posterior Lateral Reach

This is a great stretch for just about everyone. With us all living in flexion all day, this is stretching what we shorten all day.  Just keep in mind that you can stretch this muscle for years and it could still be tight. The reason is due to a weak core.  If the core is weak, that psoas will lock up because it is doing too much work to compensate.

  • Set up in a lunge position facing away from a wall or bench.
  • Place the kneeling foot on a wall.
  • Squeeze both glutes as tight as possible, so that your hips are pushed into neutral position.
  • You should feel a stretch in your quads.
  • Hold this for 10 – 15 seconds.
  • Then do a posterior lateral reach.
  • Take a deep breath into your stomach, raise your arm up and reach back and towards the leg that is bent.
  • You should now feel the stretch move up into your abdominal area.

Lateral Hamstring Stretch

For this stretch to be effective, you must have the setup perfect.  This means when we set up you must find an object that is the perfect height that will just barely give your hamstrings a stretch before you start the drill.  If the hamstrings get overstretched it will cause compensations in the start up and will make this drill useless.

  • Place the leg being stretched onto an object of the appropriate height (this will be different for everybody).
  • Make sure the leg on the floor the foot is turned slightly inward and is standing tall with the glutes and quads locked.
  • Turn from the hips, not the shoulders, into the leg that is resting on the object.
  • You should feel a stretch throughout the entire outside portion of the hamstrings.

Calf Rock-Back Mobs

  • Setup in a push-up position.
  • Walk your feet towards your hands (the closer to your hands, the greater the stretch).
  • Place one leg on top of the other.
  • Drive the heel of the foot that is still in contact with the ground.
  • Hold for one seconds and repeat for 10 reps.

Wall Ankle Mobs

  • This mobility drill is best done with your sneakers off.
  • Set up about four inches away from the wall (you may have to move forward or back more depending on your ankle mobility).
  • Drive your heel into the ground (make sure the heel stays on the floor the whole range of motion), and bring your knee towards the wall.
  • Repeat for 10 reps.

We also want to follow this up by sticking the movement just like we did with the shoulders.  Here we can do some sort of squat or deadlift pattern in order to stick the movement after we have completed the mobility drills above.

Was this post helpful, enlightening, the purest, greatest thing you ever read? Do you do mobility training? If so, what do you do? Let me know; leave a comment below!

This Weeks Good Reads

This is a really good piece by Dean Somerset.  These are twenty kind of out there advice, but not really, from Dean to his clients over the years.  Talks about how ladies should sit to reduce low back pain and varicose veins all the way to how you should be breathing to making sure you stay hydrated.  Check out these tips and you will learn a couple of things you never knew.

20 Things I’ve Told Clients That Made Me Seem Crazy – Dean Somerset

Want to learn twenty three simple secrets that some of the top fitness professionals use today.  My favorites are: 2, 7, 8, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, and 23.

23 Secrets From the Worlds Best

If you are deadlifting and not using your lats, you are missing a huge portion of the technicality of the lift.  And it is probably why you suck at them.  This post covers how to use the lats in your deadlifts and will be sure to help add poundage to that bar. 

How to Use the Lats to Improve Your Deadlift – Jesse Burdick

These leg curls are not your wussy leg curl machine.  These exercises are hard and will fill out your jeans like J-Lo. 

Leg Curls 2.0 – Ben Bruno

This one is mainly for the ladies, but really anyone who has body image issues.  It is a reminder to train with a positive light and that will help keep you more motivated then being negative.  It has 10 perspectives from 10 different women of the girls got strong group. 

Learning to Love Your Body – Molly Galbraith

Dr. Joh Berardi is a great coach, and has helped a lot of people achieve amazing results.  Here is an interview with him at  He talks about how exercise alone will not cause substantial body transformations.  And even if you follow scientific literature, you must follow it for at least one year to make a sustainable body transformation.  He also goes into some key concepts into consuming less calories, why diets tend to fail, and gives some great fitness advice.  Check it out, and take this great advice. 

The Worlds Largest Body Transformation Program an Interview with Dr. John

Shoulder Mobility

Now that this blog has been up for a while, I know there has to be some questions out there. Feel free to leave a comment at the end of any post; this one or a previous one with any questions you may have about the material that has been posted up on the blog already or anything that you may be questioning about fitness.

Why do we need mobility?

Mobility is the ability for a person to move a joint through its full range of motion (ROM).  Every joint in the body has a job to do, and if it’s mobility is compromised it will cause problems throughout the rest of the body.  And due to our technology driven society, we sit down way too much and we all are developing overuse patterns that is causing our mobility to dwindle away.

The joint by joint approach of the body stacks joints that need mobility on top of those that need stability.  Here is how this model looks:

Joint – Function

Foot – Stability
Ankle — Mobility
Knee — Stability
Hip — Mobility
Lumbar Spine — Stability
Thoracic Spine — Mobility
Scapula — Stability
Gleno-Humeral Joint — Mobility
Elbow — Stability

The areas above that you see with mobility are the areas in which we need it the most, and once mobility is lost in that area it causes a decrease in stability in its neighboring joints.  Meaning if the ankles lose mobility, the knee and foot will lose stability in order to make up for the lacking range of motion at the ankle.  This, in turn, will cause mobility problems in the hip and affect the joints going up similar to a ripple effect.

If we are sitting down all day, and our hip flexors get overly tight, causing our glutes to turn off, as well as us to be hunched forward causing us to lose stability through the rotator cuff and loss of upward rotation of the scapulae pain will surely follow.

This is the major reason why mobility training becomes important.  It will help keep us pain free, more functional to attack the tasks of everyday life and better posture makes us all look and feel better.

So why aren’t you doing your mobility training?

Here is an example of what I do for mobility, and it will be a vast improvement towards every person’s training. It may not be quite specific to each individual who tries it but I am sure it will help make a difference in your mobility and posture.  And that will have a direct carry over to your exercises.  Every person should be able to achieve full range of motion in every joint, during every movement PAIN FREE.

Want an even better reason to do upper body mobility training?

It will help improve your strength.  As your mobility gets better watch your deadlift, bench, squat and any other lift imaginable become easier which will make you stronger.  This is what all of us want and need and this should be including all you ladies.  Gather the proper mobility and you can be squatting and deadlifting like kings and queens.

Pec Stretch

  1. Pec Major
  • Place both arms in a doorway at ninety degree angles.
  • Squeeze your scapulae back as hard as you can and lean as far forward as your scapulae lets you.
  • Feel your chest stretch

2.  Pec Minor

  • Place both arms on the wall, hands down by the hips.
  • Squeeze your scapulae together as hard as you can and lean as far forward as you can.
  • As a note, you will not feel this stretch a lot, but it is working for you.  So keep doing it!

Lat Stretch

  • Grab hold of a sturdy object with one arm.
  • Step back with the same leg that is holding the object.
  • Lean back into the back leg, pulling on the object in order to feel the entire lat stretch from armpit to hip.

Wall Slides

  • First off, we must make sure we set up correctly.  Keep your feet about six inches away from the wall.
  • Flatten your lower back into the wall by doing a posterior pelvic tilt.
  • Arms ninety degrees, back of arm, hand and fingers should all be touching the wall.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together, and down towards the back pockets.
  • Lift your arms overhead while keeping the lower back on the wall, and all points of contact with the arms and hands.
  • And don’t forget to keep the shoulders away from the ears as you drive up, and make a stupid face as you see above.

This is not an exercise to cheat in to get higher.  Just go up as high as your mobility allows.  Cheating will not get you better mobility.  So stay as strict as possible and feel that stretch in the middle of your back.  This is T-Spine activation after all.

Foam Roller T-Spine Extensions

Here is another great T-Spine mobility drill.  This is great to help get that extension necessary to squat and deadlift big.

  • Lay on your back with the foam roller right under the shoulder blades.
  • Wrap your fingers around your head, and pull your elbows together.  This will keep you from cheating by leaning your head backwards.
  • Make sure your butt stays on the floor at all times.
  • Pull your ribs towards the floor, and lean as far back as you can. You may get your back to crack here and should feel a nice stretch in the middle of your back.

Shoulder Complex

This is a great stretch; it will help open up all your internal and external rotators.  You will get the lats, the pecs and almost everything else in between.

  • Lay on your side, bottom leg straight and top leg bent ninety degrees on a medicine ball or foam roller.
  • Drive your knee hard into the ball and rotate your upper shoulders towards the floor.  This will give you the appearance of lying on your back.  This is not a low back stretch.  You should not get any movement here from your lower back.  This is why that knee drive is important.
  • Point both arms to the ceiling and pack the scaps.
  • The working side is the same side you have placed on the ball.
  • While keeping the scap packed we will move our arm in three directions.  East to west, diagonal from knee to outside (south east to north west and vice versa) shoulder width, and north to south.

Over Head Squat

  • Place your feet wider then shoulder width.
  • Arms above your head, behind or lined up with your ears.
  • Squat down, not allowing the knees to buckle or pass the tips of the toes.


These many of you will not be able to do right away.  It takes a lot of thoracic mobility.  Practice without weight first until you are sure that your technique is perfect.  Then you can load, without having to worry about breaking your lower back.

  • Set up your feet hip width apart.
  • Turn your feet forty five degrees away from the arm that is pointing to the ceiling.
  • Hip hinge back, keeping 75% of your weight on the back leg.
  • Keep the scap packed the whole time, from beginning to end.
  • Feel the back hip stretch and the weight sit in the shoulders and lats.

Putting it Together

When it comes to doing mobility, we need to do four things in a specific order:

1.     Foam roll.  If you are not sure how to refer back to here.

2.     Stretch.  Just gently.  Refer to pec and lat stretch.

3.     Mobility drills.  Gets the nervous system fired up and allows us to get the body into its full range of motion.  Almost like waking up the joints.

4.     Sticking the movement.  This is where we load ourselves lightly in the patterns we were trying to mobilize.  This allows the body to take its newer range of motion and apply it into a movement that uses this same range of motion.  By doing this the body understands better what the goal of stretching and mobility drills really are.  And this is how we actually get better ROM and keep it that way day in and day out.

Was this post helpful, enlightening, the purest, greatest thing you ever read?  Do you do mobility training? If so, what do you do?  Let me know; leave a comment below!

This Weeks Good Reads 07/06/12

Happy fourth of July everybody, hope you all enjoyed yourselves.  Let’s get this holiday weekend going with some great reads from the week.  ENJOY!

Oh and by the way Happy Birthday AMURIKA!

A lot of the rules in this article are not just for men, they work for women as well.  Since women and men do have the same anatomical body parts and muscles, they should train similarly.  Joe covers everything from lifting heavy to getting help if you need it to making sure you eat the right foods.  Follow these 30 rules and you will be not just lifting like a man, but also actually reaching your goals.

ImageRules to Lift Like a Man– Joe Meglio

This study compare low-carb diets to low-fat diets and a low-glycemic index diet.  The way they figured this out was to take obese subjects and put them on a diet that would cause them to lose 15% of their body weight (roughly 30 pounds); and once they reached the goal weight, these subjects were then placed into one of the above groups.  Each person was placed on the same calorie diet, to see if each of any of these three options would help prevent weight gain after weight loss has been achieved.

Low-Carb Regimen Tops Low-Fat Diet – Nanci Hellimich

In this article Dean reminds himself and everyone else that mobility is not just important in the gym.  He talks about how mobility is important outside the gym and how you can achieve this mobility, too.  Even though it may not be very often, you may find yourself doing some odd job and needing that little extra mobility to get the job done easier.  What happens if you don’t have that mobility?  Your life will be much harder than it has to be.

How Much Mobility do You Really Need – Dean Somerset

Everyone loves to have a couple of drinks, especially when they are out on the town with their best buds.  Who knew alcohol could have such awesome benefits? It is as awesome as this mustache tattoo.


What is there not to love about alcohol now? It has cholesterol fighting powers and fat fighting capabilities.  Just make sure its in moderation.  This isn’t an all access pass to sloppy Saturdays.

Five Hidden Health Benefits of Alcohol –

This is a great reminder for all of you: the differences between losing weight and losing fat.  Weight loss on the scale does not mean you have progressed.  Keep the true focus in mind, BODY FAT.  That is the true indicator of success in body image.

Weight Loss vs Fat Loss – Tony Gentilcore

Understanding Sets and Reps

This morning I was getting my massage on, feeling all lovely and relaxed, until Devin pointed out some very disturbing things to me.  Geez, get your head out of the gutter people!  I am not John Travolta here.  He pointed out some postural related issues, that all made sense to me and threw me for a whirl.  I noticed it all before, but kind of pushed it to the back of my mind.  But now that I have the pictures to see it, it is no longer the time to keep pushing it back.  I too, the great Joe, have some imbalances I need to address; imbalances that are probably to blame for my shitty SI problems.

The amount of sets and reps as well as how much volume and intensity that a person will do in a given workout will ultimately depend on that person’s goals.  It depends if you are in a hypertrophy phase, strength phase, power phase, endurance phase, etc.  Once you can figure out what phase of your program you are in, then you can determine how many sets or reps your workouts will require.  And once you know this, you will be able to plan out your volume and intensity and it doesn’t have to be a comical quiz like the Big Bang Theory.

NOTE: No matter what your overall goal is, you will have to cycle phases in order to prevent fatigue of the neurological system.

If you are on a strength program, you will need to go through phases of hypertrophy and power.  The increased reps in hypertrophy will allow you to take your new strength to another level, where as the power phase, will help you with bar speed as you return to your strength phases.

SETS – Are a group of repetitions done consecutively.

REPS – Are the number of times an exercise is performed.

Both of these exercise variables go hand and hand with each other and the choices of reps and sets will directly influence your intensity and volume.

INTENSITY – This is the energy used during a given training session.

VOLUME – The cumulative amount of training within a session.  If it were weights, the total amount of weight lifted, if it were running, the total distance ran etc…

Now that we understand the terms we can put them all together in a vast plan in order to take over the world… okay maybe not.  But it should help you take over your exercise program.

It appears to me that the 3 sets of 10 reps is the gold standard of reps in the gym.  As I look around, it is all I see.  People doing 3 sets of 10 reps with light weight, as if they were the great Richard Simmons. I don’t know what guru all these people learned from, but I apparently did not get the memo.

Rather then fall into the trap of 3 x 10, lets take a look at how many reps and sets we should do based on our goals.

Hypertrophy 2-4 6-10
Strength 3-6 1-5
Power 2-5 1-5
Endurance 1-3 >10

*The difference between power and strength is the speed at which the bar travels.

Examples of power include the Olympic lifts.

All that is left really, is to figure out where in your training program you are and how to use the proper intensity and volume.

In strength programs, you rarely ever need to lift at max to get strong.  Stick to 75-90% of your 1 Rm and you will get strong as you progress.  Leave your egos at the door, make sure you are not lifting too heavy where your technique breaks down. Make sure you give yourself 3 to 5 minutes of rest between sets.  You want to be as recovered as possible so you can be lifting heavy.

With hypertrophy, this is a mix of lifting heavy, but for a lot of reps.  You should be going to failure within the six to ten rep range.  If you have a lot left in the tank after each set, chances are you will never be as bad ass as Chuck Norris.

For power, it is a very CNS dominant.  These exercises will wear your nervous system out quickly.  Trust me I know from experience on how much of a toll it can be.  Keep the reps low and the rest high, roughly five minutes between sets.  That is about how long it will take for your energy systems to be at full go for the next set.

Endurance, I rarely find any use for those rep schemes.  They will not make you any more cut up then you already aren’t.  But if you are looking for some more oxidative qualities of your muscle tissues, by all means go for it.  I only plug this in here so you learn all your options.  But this is a rep range that should rarely be used.  Unless you are doing some kettlebell work or some exercise for time in a metabolic workout.

Just keep in mind that the heavier the weights, the more intense the workouts become, the less volume you can do.  So that means more rest.  It is not bad that after a very heavy session you can go home and feel like you did not do much.  But as your strength numbers rise, you will see, you are getting work in.

And it works the other way.  The more reps we do, the higher the volume, we must drop the intensity (weight) being done.  These are the workouts that give us that pump feeling.

We must use all phases in order to be successful.  You can not stay in one phase forever.  Let this be the end all to the 3×10 scheme, and the beginning to a true exercise schematic that will make even the pansiest of people into strong, healthy animals.

Was this post helpful, enlightening, the purest, greatest thing you ever read? Do you use phases in your programming?  What do you do when you train?  Let me know; leave a comment below!