All posts for the month May, 2015

Weight Releasers anticipation calm before the storm

There is a time. A very small window of time around your workouts that doesn’t get enough attention.

This time doesn’t last very long, but can have a very lasting effect on your workout. You know the time because the workout takes on a very different feel before and after it.

The time just pre-competition when focus narrows into a tunnel and you are trying to wrap your head around what you are planning to do to yourself.

You are both nervous and excited because you know what’s coming. 

I have done some amazing learning during that important calm before the storm. You’ve already established how that first set is going to go before you even grab a hold of the bar. 

Be happy knowing that not many people are aware enough to enjoy it. Use it to decide what that workout means to you. 


First Sled 2015 Blog

It’s kinda funny how a full winter away from the sled aka ‘Fred The Black Rhino” can actually make you look forward to breaking it out on the first mildly nice Saturday morning of spring. 

You know you’ve trained hard over the winter. You know that you’re body and lungs are stronger and fitter. You know this because you’ve tested them over and over again. 

You look forward to it partly because it’s fun and different, partly because it gets you out of the gym, and partly because deep down some small part of you may actually think that it won’t be so bad because this year you’re prepared for sled work.


leg day

As you alternate between rolling around the grass and getting up to attempt a movement that more closely resembles a fully body cramp set to motion than it does walking, it dawns on you.

There is something to be said for the “Specificity of Sport“. 

Don’t get me wrong. Taking time away from sport to recover, rebalance and train different movement patterns is vital. Likewise getting stronger, and building yourself a more powerful engine is a very important aspect to improving performance.

Moving around with 2% more strength and power can really change the way you compete. At some point you have to spend the time performing the very specific sport actions with your new engine, so all those improvements incorporated. 

It’s definitely a simple concept that sometimes gets lost:

If you want to get better at something, you also need to spend some time doing that something.


(May 2015)


Most of the time for shoulder external rotation rotator cuff work people use exercises with their arm bent to 90 degrees at the elbow, like one of these:


Elbow On Knee External Rotations:

Elbow On Knee









Side Lying External Rotations:

Lying Rotator Cuff









or Standing Pulley Side External Rotations:

Pulley Rotator Cuff







All of these exercises work well. They just don’t provide all your external rotation needs.


The shoulder being a hugely mobile (or should be) and hopefully stable joint needs to be trained in many different angles. When I saw many different angles I mean many different angles at both the elbow and the shoulder.


Since the external rotators are also hugely important to in the stabilizing shoulder while the arm is straight, we can also benefit from working them with the arm straight.


Straight can mean:

– Straight out in front of you

– Straight out to your side

– Straight up overhead like at the top of a press

– Straight overhead with a wider grip like a snatch

– Handing Straight Down  

– Or any other angle you can think of


Here’s one different way to look at shoulder external rotations:


Mary Lee Ext 1Mary Lee Ext 2

Here you can see Maddog working on her external rotations.

All you need here is a piece of rope and a small weight attached to it. 

Things to pay attention to:

– The rope should end up coiling around the hand. If it slips around front you will be able to keep appropriate tension.

– You want to focus on rotation through the UPPER ARM, you should feel the shoulder blade engaged, and the movement from the wrist is only secondary here. (Pronation/Supination work for the wrists are also vitally important, just not the focus here)

– This is not an exercise to impress people with. Keep the weight low and manageable, work hard. Expect lots of burning.




(May 2015)

Is gluten really that bad for you?


Ok by now you to have heard in one way, shape, or form about gluten. You have probably seen a sign in a restaurant or on the menu that offers gluten free options. You can find gluten free options in almost every grocery store these days.


Perhaps you have been chastised by someone for not jumping on the gluten free band wagon. Perhaps you have even chastised someone else for choosing to go gluten free.


Before we go any further I do want to disclose that I do eat primarily gluten free. This for me is a choice.


Do I do it because gluten because it can wreak havoc on your gut??

Do I do it because grains these days are barely food and have very little in common to the ancient grains we used to eat?

Do I do it because the pesticides they use to grow grains these days are the cause of gut irritation?

Do I do it because most grains will cause a huge insulin spike after eating?

Do I do it because many grains contain phytic acid that will bind to other nutrients in the food you have consumed and don’t allow for absorption?

Do I do it because…….


There are so many different theories out there about gluten. Some deny it’s is bad at all, some call it the devil.


I choose to go gluten free and mostly grain free because when I eat grains I get some gas and bloating, I generally feel worse, less lean, less healthy and less energetic. That’s why I choose not to eat grains. Simply because I’ve noticed that when I don’t I look, feel, and perform better.


I notice this yet I have been tested for gluten sensitivity and it doesn’t show up positive.


Many of us that do notice this about grains (gluten especially), also notice that it other gluten free/grain free foods can cause similar reactions.


Why is this so?




I want to be clear. This theory is just that. There is not a whole lot of data out there for or against this. It is however gaining ground and worth a look.


REMEMBER: Nutrition is an individual thing. What works for Janet may not work for Jane. This may work for you or it may not. The only way for you to figure out what works best for you is to give things an EDUCATED honest try and then decide for yourself whether to put it in the toolbox or throw it out with the other fads that come and go.


What does FODMAP stand for?


Taken directly from the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation website (Visit FODMAP page here) FODMAP stands for:


FFermentable: Fermentable carbohydrates are sugars that are broken down and digested by bacteria in our intestines, producing gas and other by-products.  


OOligosaccharides: are short chains of carbohydrate molecules linked together. • Fructans (a chain of fructose molecules) and galacto-oligosaccharides (a chain of galactose molecules) are oligosaccharides that humans cannot break down and properly absorb in the small intestine.


DDisaccharides: are two carbohydrate molecules linked together. • Lactose, the sugar found in milk and dairy products, is a disaccharide composed of glucose and galactose. Lactose must be broken down by the digestive enzyme lactase before it can be absorbed in the small intestine. In people with lactose intolerance, the level of lactase enzyme is insufficient to properly digest lactose and lactose travels to the colon where fermentation occurs.


M – Monosaccharides: are single carbohydrate molecules. • Fructose, the sugar found in many fruits and some vegetables, is a monosaccharide and does not require any digestion before it is absorbed. When foods containing equal amounts of fructose and glucose are eaten, glucose helps fructose to be completely absorbed. However, when fructose is present in greater quantities than glucose, fructose absorption depends upon the activity of sugar transporters located in the intestinal wall. The ability to absorb excess fructose varies from person to person. In people with fructose malabsorption, the capacity of sugar transporters is limited and excess fructose travels to the colon where fermentation occurs.


A – And (simple one to make the acronym sound better)


P – Polyols: Polyols, or sugar alcohols, are a type of carbohydrate that humans can only partially digest and absorb in the small intestine. • Polyols, such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol and isomalt, mimic the sweetness of sucrose (table sugar), however, because their absorption is much slower, only a small amount of what is eaten is actually absorbed. Polyols are often used as low-calorie sweeteners in sugar-free and diet products.


To me this theory makes some sense. For those people suffering from constant inflammation gluten alone just doesn’t seem to be the only culprit. If it is even the culprit at all. Perhaps it is the sugars found in these foods that cause a lot of our issues.


Now Is it the be all end all? Who knows, but it does better answer some questions that the gluten theory alone can’t.


In the end if you have an unhealthy gut you are going to have problems with some foods. The key here is to find what works and what doesn’t work for you as an individual.



High FODMAP Foods:





Low FODMAP Foods:



For more information and a more comprehensive list of high and low FODMAP foods check out Positive Health Wellness.


How do you know if you are eating something that doesn’t agree with your body?

Your body will tell you if you are paying attention, and once you clear things up and start getting a taste of what feeling great actually feels like you won’t want to settle for simply feeling “fine” anymore.


One thing is for sure, to quote Ian King – you are exactly where you want to be right now. Or in other words you are the direct result of your own actions, habits, and behaviors. You have to own that first. If you are not in the shape you want to be in, it is only because you are doing things that are keeping you from being there. You can’t blame anyone else for this. It’s yours to own.


Remember nothing is forever and always. It doesn’t mean these foods are off limits for ever. They may just need to be taken out for a while to allow some healing so you can better handle them later on.


Top 10 Workout Inspirational Movies

(April 2015)



I’ve decided to lighten it up a bit and give you my top 10 gym inspirational movies. These movies at one point in my life have spurred me into action. Or at least they make me think I should get up and do something.


This is definitely not an exhaustive list. There are many more that could of made this list. If you have any good movie ideas please don’t hesitate to send them in.


Here we go in no particular order:

 1 – Rocky IV

Rocky 4

This is one of those movies where you might end up spontaneously working out while watching. You might not even realize you are doing it. Don’t be surprise if after the Hearts On Fire training montage you come to at the gym deadlifting. Really any of the rocky movies (and when I say that I mean the real Rocky movies 1-4 only) are pretty good at tugging you off the couch.


 2 – Seabiscuit


When I first saw the trailer for this movie my initial thought was not a chance am I seeing this movie. Then after a buddy of mine told me on 3 different occasions to check it out I decided it was worth a Sunday afternoon try. This is an amazing movie. It’s a complete underdog and true story. Highs and lows. A great inspirational movie.


SIDE NOTE: Secretariat the other newer horse racing movie, stole basically its whole plot from Seabiscuit, even some scenes almost word for word. Save yourself the trouble and just watch the better movie Seabiscuit.


 3 – Bloodsport



 It’s Bloodsport. Nuff Said.







4 – 300



Spray on abs aside, this movie is awesome. They picked actors that were in shape, then put them through some hellish training so they could actually walk the walk as a Spartan. Well that as well as THIS IS SPARTA!




5 – Fight Club

fight club


 I can’t actually talk about it.







6 – Man Of Steel


Again this movie makes the list more because of the actor and what they have been through then the movie itself. Henry Cavill was in one of my favorite movies that should have made this list called The Count of Monte Cristo. He reappeared in another mainstream movie called Immortals which he was in amazing shape for, then for Man of Steel. The story of a kid nicknamed Fat Cavill later becoming superman is pretty awesome. PLUS it’s SUPERMAN.


Warning: Be careful. After watching this movie you will be much more likely to jump of things. 


Link to Fat Cavill interview.


 7 – American History X

American History XA great movie. I won’t ruin it if you haven’t seen it. Definitely not a comedy. Anyone who has seen an Edward Norton movie knows him to be a great actor, and also kind of tall and skinny. I am pretty sure I didn’t recognize him until halfway through this movie. His real transformation as a person, the time and discipline it took for him to put on that much muscle is why this movie makes the list.


 8 – Con Air 

Con AirOkay for this one you have to sit down close your eyes and go back to a time when Nicholas Cage was making awesome movies. A movie about a man saving his wife, doing time, walking right through a bullet just to get home to see his wife and kid. Awesome.




9 – Green Street Hooligans 

Green street hooligansSome quotes: 

“You know the best part? It isn’t knowing that your friends have your back. It’s knowing that you have your friends back.”


“Once you’ve taken a few punches and realize you’re not made of glass, you don’t feel alive unless you’re pushing yourself as far as you can go.”


 10 – The Expendables

The_expendables_ost_coverWarning: You need to be aware that after watching this movie your testosterone levels for both males and females will be 200-300% higher. Don’t Panic. It will dissipate. Be careful. Set some new records in the gym and perhaps join the dollar shave club.



11 – BONUS: Three Stooges Meet Hercules 

Three Stooges MeetThis is a movie from my childhood. It has time travel, Hercules, a nerd who becomes a hero, and the three stooges. What more do you need?





And that’s my list. What’s yours? 


Coach’s Calculus

(March 2015)


Coach Calculus

Following up on the Tempos post, we are going explain another often misunderstood part of program writing.


Take these 3 workouts for example:


A – Back Squat 5 Sets x 5 @ 51X1 (3mins)


A – Back Squat 5, 5, 5, 5, 5 @ 51X1 (3mins)


A – Back Squat 5 Sets x 1, 1, 1, 1, 1 @ 51X1 (15s/3mins)


This is why programming gets confusing.


Here’s how they are similar:

  • All three mean do 5 Sets of 5 repetitions on the back squat


  • All three have 3 minutes rest between sets


  • All three have the same tempo for each repetition. (51X1 = Lower for 5 seconds, pause under tension at the bottom for 1 second, X means come back up with the intention of speed, pause under tension at the top for 1 second before starting the next repetition)


If they all mean do 5 Sets of 5 with the same rest between sets and all have the same tempo, then why the heck do we bother making the distinction?


To mess with clients?


Because we get bored and like to change it up?


I assure you there is a distinction and a reason for writing each variation.



Here’s what you need to know:


When it is written like so:


A – Back Squat 5 Sets of 5 @ 51X1 (3mins)

Quick Answer – This means that you will be doing your back squats all at around the same weight.


Optional Rant – You will warm up until you get to a weight that is challenging for 5 repetitions then use that weight or maybe a little more for all 5 sets. Basically you are training to get better and stronger at doing 5 tough repetitions. The weights don’t fluctuate much during the workout so you can spend enough time (training volume) under a heavy enough weight to force your body to have to adapt and get stronger. You would use weights generally in the 70-85% range of your 1 repetition maximum (1RM) for that lift.


Here’s a link to a simple 1RM calculator.


When it is written like so:


A – Back Squat 5, 5, 5, 5, 5 @ 51X1 (3mins)

Quick Answer – This means that you will be building to a pretty tough 5 or can even lead to a new maximum 5 repetition personal record on your last set for the day. Each set adds more weight and gets progressively harder.


Optional Rant – Here you will warm up with a couple of sets, then start the first set with a weight you can probably do for 8 reps. You will then add weight for the second set, and again for each subsequent set until you build to the last set. Only the last set should truly be very tough. This is a protocol we use as a good warm up for other lifts (IE potentiation for part B of the workout), we use this for testing to see how much stronger we may have become, we also use this on days where we may need to get some work done without taxing the nervous system as much as we would have with the 5 Sets of 5 protocol, like a back off or lower volume phase.


When it is written like so:


A – Back Squat 5 Sets x 1, 1, 1, 1, 1 @ 51X1 (15s/3mins)

Quick Answer – This is what is called a “Cluster” set. This means that you will actually take a 15s rest between each repetition of each set. You should usually be able to use more weight that you could do 5 normal reps with.


Optional Rant – Clusters are really good for getting stronger. Works best for intermediate to more advanced level athletes. With cluster’s you would pick a weight somewhere between 85-92% of your 1 repetition maximum. You would then unrack the weight do 1 back squat, rack it for 15s, then do another back squat, until you get to 5, then rest your 3mins. Repeat this for 5 total sets. It allows you to build more volume at a weight heavier than you would be able to do 5 normal sets of 5 with.


Clear as mud right?

Coaching Calculus 2



Hopefully this has helped to shed some light on the process reading and writing programs.

If you have anything you would like to see covered in an upcoming newsletter please don’t hesitate to send it in.



(Feb 2015)

Tempo 1

On one of our latest podcasts lately we started discussing tempo’s and even we got a little confused trying to explain them in an easy to understand way.


They definitely make up the most abundant questions I get on a regular basis.


Just like how the speed at which music is played really makes a difference to how it sounds, when you’re lifting tempo matters.



A Definition Of Terms:


Eccentric or Negative Stage of an exercise:

Eccentric or negative refer to the part of the exercise where you lengthen a muscle under tension. Where you control the weight but allow it to move you.


Concentric or Positive Stage of an exercise:

Concentric of positive refer to the part of the exercise where the muscle contracts and shortens. Where you exert energy to overcome the weight and make it move.


The 4 Stages of an Exercise:

To do 1 repetition of an exercise you have to go through 4 different stages.  


Ex 1 – The Deadlift

Tempo 2

Stage 1 – Lifting the bar from the floor (concentric or positive portion)


Stage 2 – The Pause or lack of at the top of the lift


Stage 3 – The controlled lowering back to the floor (eccentric or negative portion)


Stage 4 – The pause of lack of at the bottom before starting the next rep



Ex 2 – The Squat

 Tempo 3

Stage 1 – Lowering to the bottom position (eccentric or negative portion)


Stage 2 – The Pause or lack of at the bottom of the lift


Stage 3 – The controlled squatting back up to the top position (concentric or positive portion)


Stage 4 – The pause or lack of at the top before starting the next rep



So what are tempo’s?

Tempo’s are the speed at which you perform each individual repetition of a given set of an exercise.


More simply put, tempo’s are basically how fast or slow you move up or down. Tempo’s also refer to the pause or lack of pause at the before and after each repetition.


Tempo’s are usually written with 4 numbers. Like this:


Ex – 4010 is a tempo

Ex – 5050 is another tempo

Ex – 3131 and so on

Ex – 31X1 and so on


You get the picture. The first tempo example, the 4010, is read as four, zero, one, zero (not four thousand and ten).



Each number corresponds to time in seconds: If it says 4 it means that part takes 4 seconds. If it says X, it means that part is performed as fast as possible.



Each number also corresponds to one of the 4 stages of an exercise:


The 1st number always corresponds to the eccentric, negative, or muscle lengthening part of the motion. (Stage 1)



The 2nd number always corresponds to the pause or lack of pause after the muscle has been lengthened, after the eccentric of negative, before starting the concentric. (Stage 2)



The 3rd number always corresponds to the concentric, positive, or active overcoming of the weight. (Stage 3)



The 4th number always corresponds to the pause or lack of pause before restarting the eccentric. (Stage 4)



This is part is relatively straight forward. Where people often get into trouble is trying to figure out which part of the motion is the eccentric and which is the concentric.


Usually the eccentric or negative (the first number in the tempo) is the way down. For a bench press, squat, deadlift, chin up or bicep curl it is the way down, when you lower the weight.


The exception here is when you use a pulley system. When you use the pulley to do a lat pull down the eccentric or negative part of the motion is the way up, when you do a pulley tricep extension it is the way up.


Once you know which part of the exercise is the negative and you also know that it corresponds to the first number in the tempo then you’re good to go.


Examples – A squat and bench press are two examples where you would start the motion with the negative which makes it easy.


If you were to do a squat with a 5030 tempo, you would squat down for 5 seconds, take no pause at the bottom, squat up for 3s, then take no pause before starting your next squat.


If you were to bench press at a 3231 tempo you would un rack the weight, lower the weight for 3 seconds, hold UNDER TENSION for 2 seconds at the bottom position, take 3 seconds to bring the weight back up under control, then hold for 1 second at the top before doing your next repetition.


What about exercises that don’t start with a negative?


Here’s where the confusion comes in. If you were to a pulling motion, like deadlift, bicep curl, rows, or chin ups you start with the concentric part of the motion.


I know what you’re thinking. Oh shit.


Don’t worry. With these motions you don’t start with the negative, you start with the positive or concentric. So you start with the 3rd number.


ExampleDeadlift at a 31X2 tempo.

You would lift the weight off the ground as fast as possible with the intension of speed because of the “X”, pause for 2 seconds at the top, take 3 seconds to lower the weight under control, pause for 1 second at the bottom before starting your next repetition.


Example – Lat pull down at a 2013 tempo.

You would pull the weight down taking 1 second, hold for 3 seconds at the bottom, raise the weight back up taking 2 seconds, then right away without pause start the next repetition.



How are they used?

The most important thing about tempo’s is that they allow us to keep things consistent and measure ACTUAL progress. If you squat for a set of 10 at a 4010 tempo, then do more weight the second week that’s progress!


If you squat 3 sets of 10 at a 4010 tempo, then the next week squat 3 sets of 10 at a 2010 tempo with more weight, you haven’t gotten any stronger you have just manipulated the tempo to spend less time under tension and look stronger.


Tempo’s are also used differently depending on the goal. We use them to manage how much time an athlete spends working during a particular set. Something we in the business call TIME UNDER TENSION or TUT.


As a general example if we wanted to gain muscle we would need a time under tension for each set to be between 30-70 seconds.


So we could say do 10 repetitions at a 5010 tempo to get our 60s, or we could do 5 repetitions at a 5151 tempo to get the same time under tension.


Same time under tension, however both sets will feel completely different.


Slower tempo’s things like 5050, 5151, 4132 etc, are more generally used for learning a new movement, rehabbing muscle, re-teaching a muscle to fire properly, getting control over a weak motion or part of the motion. There is no hiding from a 5050 tempo.


Medium tempo’s things like 31X1, 41X1, 3201, 2122 are used more generally for both muscle and strength building.


Fast tempo’s things like 20X0, X0X0, 11X1, are used more generally for strength and power.


How often should you change them?

The body adapts to tempo’s faster than it adapts to other aspects of training. The first thing to think about changing in any program is tempo. You can make 3 Sets of 10 back squat feel like a foreign exercise with a new tempo.


My intention was to clarify and give you a little insight as to how important tempo’s are and how they are used. If you change one thing about your workouts this year find a squat rack and change up the tempo’s.

Tempo 4


Warm Ups

Warm Ups

(Jan 2015)


Warm Ups




Top 3 reasons people get hurt in the gym:


  • Incorrect technique. (Especially when tired or simply not paying attention)


  • Not knowing limits. (What’s the goal? lifting the weight or lifting the weight properly so you can adapt and get better?)


  • Not warming up properly. For a specific workout or in general.


The funny thing about tissues, muscle, tendon, ligament, and other connective tissues is that they will adapt and remodel themselves along lines of imposed stress.


When we’re talking warm up, it means you have to warm up using the specific motion you plan to do.



A real life example:

If your rotator cuff (shoulder) needs work and you spend 10mins warming up on the treadmill that’s time and energy you have wasted doing something less important.


If you are trying to set a new deadlift record wasting that kind of energy in the beginning can mean the difference between victory and failure.


Warming up with steady state cardio is not wrong. Just misplaced for certain workouts. That 10mins of cardio was wasted not getting you toward your goal for the day. That’s also 10mins of prime energy wasted that could have been used doing any number of more important things, like staring at your pythons in the mirror.


Now if getting better at the elliptical is your goal, then perfect, you’ve warmed up for your goal.


Warm ups, like workouts, follow a general structure. They start with general things that need work like a weak muscle, some mobility work for something tight, or some sprint or cardio work if that’s the priority for the day. Then they get more specific to the workout.


I like to look at the first 2-4 exercises and do 1-3 quick sets of each. This allows me to decide how strong I am feeling that day, what weights I should start with, and it also allows me to warm up the specific tissues I want to work, in the way I want to work them.


You choose the first couple of exercises because a well written workout will usually place the highest priority/most bang for your buck/attention and nervous system demanding exercises earlier in the workout. Things like the big lifts or things you are really weak on, Olympic lifting, squats, deadlifts, bench press, single leg work if you shake like a leaf while on 1 leg, or rotator cuff work.


The first couple of exercises will then generally warm you up for the last part of the workout where we generally find and the lesser neurologically demanding things, the extra’s. Things like isolation work, running, rowing, etc.


My own personal warm ups lately always start with squatting. No matter what I have planned for that day I always do 1-3 sets of some type of squat. That’s right on chest day I squat, on curls day I squat. I do this because getting better at squatting is propriety number one for me right now.


It takes little to no time but allows me to get enough exposure to that lift to get a little better. Then I typically do 10-12 chins, a number I can do without tiring myself out too much, and 20 push ups. Then I start to get a bit more specific.



Here’s an important distinction:

If you do not warm up, then the first couple of sets will be wasted warming you up. These are still called warm up sets, they do not count towards what is written in the program. What is written in the program is your working sets.


If you have 3 Sets of 10 reps to do, those 3 sets are your working sets. They do not include any set you do to determine the weight you are going to start with.


That first working set should be at a weight that is challenging for 10, that you could not get 12 with.


If you’re sets look like this:


#1 = 100×10,


#2 = 130×10,


#3 = 160×10


then your only working set is #3. The others are at much too low of a percentage to count as a working set. Sets 1 and 2 in this case would be warm up sets.



General Rules for a warm up:


  • What’s the goal? Ask yourself why I am in the gym today and warm up accordingly.


  • Go into the gym with a loose game plan. Know what you are going to do before you even get in there.


  • Take detailed notes. Good notes come in really handy here. You can look back and see where you were the last time you did that exercise.


  • Start with general things you need work on mobility, weaknesses.


  • Then move to warm up the specific exercises that you will be doing in that workout.


  • Do 1-3 sets per exercise.


  • Do less reps than you will be using. If you are doing to do 4 Sets of 8, you could do a sets of 5, 3, 1, then go.


  • If your goal is fat loss then doing some sprints before you start a workout can really help you along.


  • Use Potentiation: Without getting to complicated this simply means using a heavier weight than you will be using during your working sets to “wake up” more muscle fibers so when you start it will seem easier. For a heavier weight your nervous system (brain/spinalcord/nerves) have to tell more muscle fibers to fire to lift a heavier weight. These fibers will still be ready to respond 4-5mins later. Therefore if you lift a heavier weight for 1 rep, wait 3-5mins, then start your working sets of 10 you will be able to use more fibers than if you had tried it cold.


  • Be out of the gym in 60mins. Warm Up Included. Warm ups do not take more than 10-15mins of that 60.



Your workout is your warm up.


Muscle Priming

(Dec 2014)

Muscle Priming

What is muscle priming?

Using specific focused exercises to get a weak/tight/inhibited muscle to fire before you incorporate it into other movements. It can be as simple as priming the glutes before you stand up out of a chair or more complex like doing a focused set of king deadlifts before each set of squat to help reconnect with the glutes.


Not having to use muscle priming at all by learning how to do a movement properly from the beginning is always best.


For those of us who have spent lots of time under the barbell learning bad habits, and actively teaching certain muscles not to work properly, we use muscle priming.


After all trying to identify with a muscle can be a very hard process during a large complex movement like a squat (sitting or standing) or a deadlift (bending over). It’s a lot to focus on.


Enter muscle priming to help relearn how to do movements properly. We use small, easy to focus on movements to help people feel the muscle, then use it during bigger movements. If you can’t feel a muscle working while you train it, it is not going to grow and adapt.


Muscle priming = reconnecting


At best we spend maybe 3-8 hours in the gym every week. We have to use muscle priming to re-learn how to move better in everyday life. Although it’s a great start and better than nothing, you can’t expect to turn around 20 years of bad habits in a couple of hours a week in the gym.



What we know about a weak/tight/inhibited muscles:


  • They fatigue fast. They can’t handle too much work at once without spasming or worse. So hit them for short periods. Goal is to get it firing not completely exhaust it.


  • They have been actively taught not to be used. So we have to make it fire often, multiple times each day.


  • They are probably going to be tight so getting someone to release them or learning how to self-release them will be important. *Releasing tight muscles is extremely important but is another article for another day.


  • You have to use very slow, controlled, focused tempo’s. Every millimetre of the motion should be under your direct control. No going fast to get past the hard parts. You want to live in the hard parts.


  • Once it builds up enough strength and stamina train it like a regular muscle and go back into maintenance like activity. Generally work it out 1-3x’s a week during your normal workouts.



Top Offenders:


The Hips and the Pecs

*these 2 spots give people a lot trouble. There are many muscles and structures all over the body that affect these areas. This is going to be a very general way couple of muscles primers to get you started.


The Hips:

          Sitting Hip SHifts

Notes: Keep core tight, spine straight. Take your time while standing and sitting to feel the motion. Use both to sit down and to stand up.


 Hip Shift Bending Holds


Notes: Keep core tight, spine straight. Take your time while bending and coming back up to feel the motion. Wait at the bottom until you feel things start to fire, then change directions slowly.


 Lying Hip Rotations                       

Notes: Use other hand to stabilize on floor. Try to stay in the same position with hips. Don’t let them open or lean backward or forward as you move. The only movement happens through the raised leg and hip.



The Pecs


Wall Slides                

Notes: Hardest part is keeping back flat to the wall, but that’s the key, do not arch your back to get the motion. Lock things in and work through whatever range you have. If your arms come off the wall, let them, just keep applying light pressure backward with both wrists and elbows.


 Trap 3 Raise

Notes: One of the hardest parts is keeping the neck and traps relaxed. This is super important. Try to pull from the mid back and shoulder blade. Most people will feel weak at the top range, most will also not be able to get to the top position with perfect form for the first little while.


 Seated Power Positions


Notes: Key here is to keep head back. Once you pull your elbows back there will be a tendency to push your head forward. Resist this. Push head back into hands while you hold.


In the end there are many different strategies for many different types of people and training ages. You have to figure out what works best for you. Again these strategies will have to be used multiple times each day.


You can use them:

  • During the warm up before you start work workout
  • Before you start each set of an exercise
  • At the beginning and end of each workout
  • After every 2nd set of an exercise
  • ETC, be creative.


NOTE: It takes a long time to get muscle working properly again. Long enough that you will experience highs and lows, spasms, you’ll think you are finally getting somewhere one minute, you’ll want to quit the next. There is no magic pill. It’s not going to be fixed in a week. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. Prepare yourself for the process.





Once you get it functioning well again you have to check back in every now and again because it will, at some point or another likely to shut itself off again.


Final Rant:


For weak/tight/inhibited muscles remember:

  • Release it.
  • Get if firing.
  • Change how you move.

Top 10 Workout Tweaks That You Can Implement Right Now

(Nov 2014)


Top 10 workout tweaks


  1. Don’t spend more than 10mins warming up. Before you walk in there you should know what you are going to do. Use that first 10mins to get you ready for your first working set.


  1. Warm Ups should be specific to the workout you plan to do. Don’t sit on an elliptical for 10mins to warm up for bicep curls. Do 1-3 sets of bicep curls to get the motion warmed up.


  1. Time your rest periods. Consistent rest times are important for progress. You can’t compare Sets of 10 with a 30s rest to sets of 10 with a 3mins one.


  1. Leave the gym 60mins after you have entered. If you can’t get it done in 60mins I don’t know what you are doing but you aren’t training.


  1. If you are weak at a specific movement do 1-2 sets of it at the beginning of every workout. The weaker a specific movement pattern is for you, the more often you need to train it until it is brought to balance.


  1. Make sure you are recovering just as hard as you are training. Most people will agree that sleeping and eating well are really important. Are you making recovery as much of a priority as training hard? Beating yourself into the ground during a workout is only a good thing if you can recover from it.


  1. Record everything. Weights, sets, rests, range of motion, perceived exertion etc. The more you write down easier it is to measure REAL progress from one workout to another.


  1. Do a full range of motion on every exercise. If you are not doing full range of motion on an exercise lower the weight until you can do the full range pain free. If you can’t do full range pain free perhaps you have something else that needs more attention?


  1. A wise man once said: “a person with 1 ass cannot sit on 2 horses”. Don’t try to do it all in 1 workout. Have a goal and a priority for each workout. This doesn’t mean you can’t hit different things in a workout, it just means you “live” where your goal is for that workout and “visit” other places that need a bit of work.


  1. Learn and follow tempo’s. Tempo’s are one of the most overlooked and important aspects of working out. If you do a set of 10 back squat @ a tempo of 3010 one week, then the next week you add 10lbs and do a sets of 10 @ a tempo of 10X1, you have not gotten any stronger you have just changed and made the tempo easier to make it look like you have gotten stronger. It’s like comparing oranges and tractor trailers.