Tag Archives: fitness

Secrets of Strength Volume 1: Tips to a Bigger Deadlift

heavy-deadliftWhen it comes to dead lifting there are a few common mistakes that many people make.  By fixing these mistakes, you can instantly add weight to the bar and continue to get stronger while maintaining healthy joints.

1) Breathing – When it comes to life, breathing is essential.  When it comes to deadlifting… breathing is essential.  The ability to take a deep breath that fills your stomach and not your chest is vital to protecting your lower back in the deadlift.  If you need more information on breathing refer to this blog post here.

This breath causes an increase in intra-abdominal pressure, which in turn builds tension (tip 3) and keeps the spine from moving during the lift.  You can imagine that this pressure built is similar to the effects of a weight belt; it helps to support your lower back.  Why not just wear a weight belt? Because it does the work for your body and the core will never get stronger.  If you are going super heavy, 2x your body weight or more, you can add a weight belt, but you still need to have proper breathing.  If you are lifting anything less than that, you should not use a weight belt, let your core learn to protect your spine, it’s not like you can wear a weight belt every day can you?
Diaphragmatic Breathing2) Lats – The lats are the biggest players in the deadlift.  It is what connects your lower body and your upper body during the movement and keeps your back from folding like a cheap tent.  If you learn how to keep your lats tight, you will be able to increase your tension (tip #3) and lift more weight safely.  This adds to your core strength and again protects the spine.  The ability for your core to fire better, and for you to build tension is key for the success at deadlifts.

3) Tension – Here is where everyone goes wrong.  Someone can learn to breath perfect, set his or her lats tight, but when the start the deadlift, all that tension is lost.  Most commonly you see people do “the dip”.  This is where the person sets up, and brings their body closer to the floor before trying to ascend with the weight.  THIS IS AN INSTANT FAIL.  You will never be able to pull big weights that way. The second you drop all your tension is lost and you instantly become weaker.

The fix? Once you build your tension, maintain it and continue to push your feet through the floor.  Newton’s laws will take over from there.  “For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.” Meaning if you push hard through the floor with your feet, you will eventually go up with that weight if you can produce enough force.

Want to learn more about the secrets of strength? Check out ironlionperformance.com.  Browse around, leave some comments, and sign up for their newsletter.  Upon doing so you will receive a great video on planks called the Secrets of Strength.

Questions, comments or concerns? I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below!

Best Articles From Last Week

I know it has been a long time since I have posted a best articles of the week post, but this series is back!  Down below are my summaries of a few articles that I found interesting and useful throughout the week (with there links below it) that I think will make for some good reading.


In today’s society, there is a great change happening in the fitness media.  The trend is not to be “model thin” anymore, but has become strong is sexy.  Along with this change, every woman wants a nicely toned derriere that would be worthy of Sir Mix A Lot “Booty Got Back” theme song. And fellas, don’t forget that woman don’t like men who have what my co-worker calls a “guillotine ass,” which is in reference to a guy with glutes so flat it looks like a guillotine had chopped it off (chopping hand gesture inserted here).   So how does one achieve this derriere especially when we live in a society that spends most of its time sitting on it?

At last, a solution! Glute Guy, Bret Contreras, has found the solution in this article. Bret uses EMG to test the differences between the squat and hip thrust to see how one could hypertrophy the glutes, so they too could land on the cover of paper magazine.

Squats vs Hip Thrusts – Bret Contreras

Running to First Base

In the strength and conditioning community running has gathered a bad rep.  If an athlete were to run, they would end up becoming small and weak, therefore, not to live happily ever after.  And in many ways this is true if that strength coach or personal trainer does not know what they are doing.  The bottom line becomes, any athlete and active person can benefit from aerobic training regardless of the goal.  The amount and intensity is all dependent on that person’s sport/lifestyle.  Read further to see why Mike Robertson, a renowned personal trainer and strength coach, recommends that aerobic training become better understood by fitness professionals as well as better utilized to help your client achieve the best results possible.

Real Talk About Aerobic Training for Athletes – Mike Roberston


I really like this article, and it does not just apply to active women.  Every person could benefit by understanding and knowing these three nutrition myths and how that can be holding you back from reaching your goals.  I especially think number three is important.  We hear that one a lot, and live and die by it, but we don’t always understand the implications of how this affects the physiology of the body.  Also, if you do cut calories, it should be cycled in and out, just as one would do in the exercise programs.  Meaning that if you were to cut calories to lose weight, it should be done in 2-4 week intervals, and then you should go back to consuming more calories.  This will serve to keep you from slowing your metabolism, losing lean muscle mass, and disrupting your hormonal balances.

Did You Reach Your Goals?


In January, I wrote a post talking about goal setting in which I shared my goals with you. So now its 2015, time to reflect back and see how we did!
I’ve had some pretty good success in 2014 with my fitness goals, and I hope all of you have too.  I feel most of my success came from putting myself out there and making myself accountable.  I have constantly challenged myself in front of my family, friends, peers and the internet. This put added pressure on me to keep pushing forward and to get as much out of both my nutrition and exercise as possible
Exercise January ’14 Numbers January 2014 Goals Current Numbers December 2015 Goals
Body Weight 163 lbs 175 lbs 184 lbs 185 lbs
Front Squat 195 lbs 225 lbs 205 lbs 245 lbs
Deadlift 275 lbs 315 lbs 350 lbs 400 lbs
Military Press 115 lbs 135 lbs 135 lbs 155 lbs
Turkish Get-up 88 lbs 100 lbs 96 lbs 100 lbs
Bench Press 205 lbs 225 lbs 225 lbs 250 lbs
My big 2015 goal is to have a 1,000 pounds total – meaning that if you add up all my weights lifted between my squat, deadlift and bench they would total 1,000 lbs.  Currently I am a little over 800 pounds: my squat is 245 pounds, deadlift is 350 and my bench 225.  Let’s see how close I can get by December.
Did any of you reach your goals in 2014? What are your goals for 2015?  Comment below and let me know!

Staying True to Your New Years Resolutions

Happy Holidays everybody, and Happy New Year.  It is an exciting time because a New Year is beginning, new opportunities are on the horizon, and well, there is a new blog post here!

That time of year is here when the gyms are getting busy again because everyone is done feeling guilty about what they have eaten during the holiday season.  And they are ready to start off the New Year the right way with a better, healthier them.  But as February and March roll around, those once exciting goals of losing weight, getting shredded and looking like a sexified Ryan Grosling are in the past.  Well let’s hope this year, this IS NOT you!  And one way to do that, is reading this here post as it will give you a guide to staying on track for the long term.


RULE #1: Keep Goals

The only way to achieve success, not just in the gym but in life, is to set goals.  I already spoke of this in a past post, and I think it is very important.  Your goals must be specific and obtainable.  If not, failure is often the case.  Goals give you a direction, and when you obtain them they are much more gratifying.

Here is a list of my weight lifting goals for 2014:

Weight = 175 lbs- Currently 163 lbs

Front Squat = 225 lbs – Currently 195 lbs

Deadlift = 315 lbs – Currently 275 lbs

Military Press = 135 lbs – Currently 115 lbs

Turkish Get-up = 100 lbs – Currently 88 lbs

I have toned down how high I set my goals this year. With school it gets very hard to continually progress without overtaxing myself.  I believe I will have no problems reaching these goals, or surpassing all of them by 2015.

RULE #2: Get a Friend 

FUnny workout ecard

Make sure that person’s goals fit with yours.  

Otherwise they could potentially be very bad influences.

Having somebody with similar goals as you will make your journey easier.  Recruit a friend or family member to join you in reaching your goals.  Maybe it is to lose 20 pounds, or walk 10,000 steps a day, or bike 50 miles a week.  Whatever the goal is having somebody at your side makes reaching your goals less daunting.  This also makes you accountable to someone else, which means you are making a commitment.  If you had to meet your best friend at the gym at 8am every morning, you can’t just skip on them.  Well you can, but that would be pretty douchey of you.

RULE #3: Tell People

By telling everybody around you what your goals are and how you’re going to achieve them this year will put more pressure on you and make you commit to your goals more.  Tell people on a consistent basis.  This does two things, one it does what I said before; it puts pressure on you, because who wants to fail in front of their friends and family?  And two, by constantly talking about your goals and how you will achieve them will help you believe that you will accomplish your goals in your own mind.  Once you feel like you can accomplish your goals, your chances of doing so are greatly improved.

RULE #4: Check Your Progress

Pick a regular interval that you will test your progress. So if you want a 315 bench and you currently are benching 250, you must test your bench every month or so to see if you are moving closer to your goals.  If you are not moving towards your goals, you must sit down and think why.  Is it my nutrition, lack of sleep, have I been inconsistent, etc… Once you figure this out, it will help you break through those frustrating plateaus that we all hit from time to time.

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!