Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: The Year of the Bee

Flashback a year to January, 2014. I'd been blogging for less than 6 months, and I wasn't sure if anything was really going to come of it. Sure, it was fun and all, but my readership was about the size of a chihuahua, and I was feeling pretty guilty writing when I should have been studying for my Master's.

Then, on the morning of January 17th, everything changed. I woke up to discover my first T-Nation article had been published. Suddenly, I had a flurry of new admirers. People were looking to me as an expert. It was on that day I realized I was no longer just another blogger. I was a fitness writer — a subtle but important distinction in my mind, and one that was further solidified with my second T-Nation article a few months later.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 Benefits of Static Stretching Stretched out of Proportion?

Do you still static stretch before you train/compete?

The research, although contradictory at times, begs you to reconsider, especially if maximal strength and power are important to you.

Follow the link below to read my latest article, titled Benefits of Static Stretching Stretched out of Proportion?, for Greg Nuckol’s newly launched site,

As a bonus, you'll also find Episode 2 of the Fitness Pollenator podcast on the same topic at the bottom of the article!

Greg Nuckols is a trainer, author, and world record holding powerlifter. Don't miss out on his new site and my new article!

Monday, December 29, 2014 Minus the Fanfare

CrossFit is cool and all, but I'm not a huge fan of everything about it. Same with bodybuilding and powerlifting. So why not take the good from each of these modalities and ditch the unremarkable?

In my guest post for James Cerbie and the awesome folks over at Rebel Performance, I explain how I go about doing just that. The post is titled Minus the Fanfare: Blend Methodologies for Well Rounded Performance. Here's the link:

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Podcast Ep. 3: Functional Training w/ Karl Safran

I met Karl Safran, owner and operator of No Bull Training in Huntingdon Valley, PA, for the first time two years ago when he came to lecture at NTPI Philadelphia. From the minute he started talking, he had the entire class hanging on his every word. The way in which he broke down human movement was like nothing we had ever heard before. So simple, so elegant, so exciting.

From that day forward, I knew I had to learn everything I could from Karl. Over the following three months while still in school, I went to No Bull Training once a week to shadow Karl. As soon as I got home from these visits, I would race to my computer to type up all the things I'd learned that day.

After I graduated from NPTI, I was fortunate enough to work for Karl for several months before going back to school for my Master's. The time I spent at No Bull was invaluable to my growth as both a trainer and a person. Karl taught me so much, not only about training, but also about life.

I got a chance to catch up with Karl for the third episode of the Fitness Pollenator Podcast. We chatted about what "functional training" means for him and his clients, who his biggest influences have been, and the importance of mindset when it comes to training.

You don't want to miss what he has to say.

To listen to just the audio, click here.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Podcast Ep. 1: CrossFit Misconceptions w/ Tom DeVietro

When it comes to CrossFit, everybody’s got an opinion — especially the naysayers who’ve never even set foot in a box. These folks in particular hold certain truths about CrossFit to be self-evident. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Every CrossFitter does the same WOD (workout of the day), regardless of training age, ability, and goals.
  2. CrossFit programming is completely random.
  3. CrossFit movements occur only in the sagittal plane.
  4. When doing CrossFit, breakdowns in form are allowed when racing against the clock.
For the inaugural episode of the Fitness Pollenator Podcast, I have with me Coach Tom DeVietro of CrossFit Advance and Max Effort Fitness (in Southeastern, PA) to clear up some of the misconceptions I allude to above.

Find out how Tom and his team are making a positive impact on hundreds of lives by perhaps doing things a little differently from the average box.

For more about Tom, check out this Coach's Spotlight.

To listen to just the audio of the podcast, click here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

5 Easy-to-learn, Big-bang-for-the-buck Moves

I’m a huge proponent of the basic barbell lifts: squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, and bent-over row. The trouble is, the barbell lifts are highly technical. As such, unless you’re planning on competing in a powerlifting meet in the near future, there’s really no reason to insist on their use. In fact, there are plenty of exercises out there that work the same movements and muscles without the steep learning curve.

Below are my five favorite easy-to-learn, big-bang-for-the-buck moves.

1. Hex bar squat (in place of barbell squat)

Why: The barbell squat is, on average, probably the most poorly executed lift known to man. Due to the inherent shoulder mobility requirements, just assuming the bar-on-the-back position can be painfully challenging for many folks. Then there’s the issue of ego and depth, in which guys tend to load way too many plates on the bar and squat way too shallowly. The hex bar squat, on the other hand, allows for a more comfortable neutral grip (with the bar held at the sides of the body) and also standardizes depth. Best of all, with just a subtle change in execution, it can easily be made into a hip-dominant, deadift style lift (see #2 below).

Execution: Keeping the torso erect, squat to the bar, grab the handles, drive from the heels, and stand up.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How Top Fitness Pro's Coach Leg Position on Pull-ups

When it comes to leg position on pull-ups and chin-ups, we have a boatload of options, including knees bent, legs straight, and hips piked. With so many positions to choose from (if you know what I mean!), I've long pondered the merits of each.

Wait a second, you may be thinking. Aren’t pull-ups a back exercise? Why’s this guy wasting his time worrying about what the legs are doing? Is it because he’s missing one and that’s causing him to overcompensate?

Sunday, September 28, 2014 From the Pool to the Power Rack

When my friend and technologist Matt Canning asked me if I’d like to contribute a guest blog post to his website on what makes me successful in the pool and in the gym, I jumped at the idea.

What few maxims could I boil my productivity and inspiration down to?

To find out my top six fitness tips, simply click the link below:

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Coach’s Spotlight: Tom DeVietro

I walked into CrossFit Advance one Wednesday morning just as the 8:30 class was finishing up. As always, Coach Tom DeVietro gave me a hero’s welcome upon entering. Little does Tom know that he’s the real hero.

I met Tom two years ago at the National Personal Training Institute of Philadelphia. Tom, already CrossFit Level 1 certified, had decided to go back to school for another six months. As part of his practical education, Tom seized the first opportunity to train the toughest “client” around: me.

As a congenital above-knee amputee, I present unique challenges to a trainer. Tom unabashedly put me through the wringer that first day. Afterwards, he asked me to take off my prosthesis so he could take a closer look. He was fascinated.

As the 9:30 CrossFit Advance class got underway, one woman asked, “Is this the Mike Burgener method of teaching the hang clean?”

“Nope, it’s the Tom DeVietro method!” Tom replied, as he explained the intricacies of the movement.

Where many a coach might gloss over the details, Tom began with a thorough explanation of the role of the core and breathing in the clean. Nods of understanding swept the room as Tom continued by demonstrating each phase of the progression with incredible fluidity, crispness, and patience.

As he alluded to, Tom’s methods truly are all his own. He’s constantly expanding his horizons as both a coach and an athlete. His curiosity — which extends beyond metal legs — has recently led him to participate in his first triathlon, work one-on-one with an Olympic weightlifting coach, and even engage in strongman training.

Once we were finished with our cleans, we all convened to discuss the impending WOD  a 15-minute AMRAP of double unders, wall balls, and pull-ups. Tom stressed the importance of movement quality over total reps completed. He also encouraged everyone to go hard.

“This is your fifteen minutes!” Tom roared. “You don’t get them back, so make them count!”

During the WOD, Tom darted around motivating, adjusting, and even advising people to back off when necessary. Under Tom’s watchful eye, we all worked hard yet smart.

Afterwards, Tom advised us half-jokingly to “go home, eat a steak, go to sleep, and come back tomorrow ready to do it all over again.” The funny thing is, that was probably his plan exactly.

As most of the class trickled out, smiles across their faces, a few lingered in an effort to soak up Tom’s infectious presence for a few minutes longer.

“What are you guys still doing here?” Tom said. “It’s Friday. Get the hell out!”

With his shaved head and Army Ranger background, Tom might appear intimidating on first impression. Once he begins to speak, however, he reveals a soft voice that immediately puts you at ease. The priority he gives to proper progression and intelligent programming for the individual athlete further reinforces this sentiment.

With Tom at the helm, safety and results are pretty much guaranteed. If that’s not hero material, what is?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

T-Nation: 6 Ways to Bring the Pain

For lots of folks, exercises like bodyweight squats, glute bridges, and push-ups don’t pack the punch necessary to stimulate adaptation. However, when you precede an isometric hold at the most difficult position of each of them with a heavy hitting dynamic movement working the same muscles, you have yourself one deadly combination.

And so I came up with my so-called "Deadly dynamic-static compound sets." Simply put, these are couplets of exercises targeting the same muscle groups performed in rapid succession as follows:
A. Dynamic exercise: 8-12 reps
B. Static hold: to failure

The sets can be performed by just about anybody and for just about any muscle group. In my latest T-Nation article, I describe 6 of my favorite such 'Ways to Bring the Pain:'

Thursday, September 4, 2014 “If Only:” 7 Lessons from a Record-Setting Paralympic Medalist

Sure, all newbie lifters make mistakes. But just maybe, with the proper information, many of these mistakes could be avoided. At least, that was my goal for this guest post I did for world-renowned strength coach (and all-around cool guy!) Eric Cressey.

Read about the seven biggest mistakes I made in the weight room during my Paralympic swimming career here:

...But don't take my word for it! This post was also featured in the Personal Trainer Development Center's Top Fitness Articles of the Week (August 31, 2014, edition):

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 Lower Body Training for the Amputee and Able-bodied Athlete Alike

My resistance training journey began one fateful evening, a decade ago, in a crowded high school weight room. My teammates and I, still dripping wet from swim practice, gathered around the athletic trainer as he attempted to explain the intricacies of the barbell high pull.

Fancying myself no different from my peers -- despite having been born an above-knee amputee as a result of a congenital birth defect -- I approached the bar and got to work on my first set. It didn’t feel quite right, but nobody said anything, so I figured I was doing okay. I did a couple more sets in a similar fashion and then headed home.

Lo and behold, my efforts to mainstream myself had some nasty repercussions. I woke up the next morning with excruciating low back pain and was relegated to the plate-loaded deadlift machine for the rest of the season. It wouldn’t be until eight years later that I would gather the courage to attempt another barbell lift.

What went wrong that first day? Likely a bad case of lumbar flexion, in addition to a gross compensatory pattern favoring my intact side. Could it have been avoided? With careful exercise selection and implementation, yes.

The trouble is, there's a serious lack of strength training info out there for us amputee athletes. As such, I've taken it upon myself to develop a catalog of lower body exercises geared towards the amputee -- as well as anyone looking to develop strength and symmetry in their hamstrings and glutes. And come on, who doesn't want a better backside?!

This resource is now complete and available to the masses. It even includes over a dozen short and sweet videos of me performing all the exercises.

Here's the link:

Monday, August 18, 2014 Back to the Basics

Hopefully, you've already received your copy of my free e-book, The Big Six Made Simple: A Guide to the Basic Barbell Lifts. (If not, just sign up for my mailing list at the top of this page!). You might still have some questions, though, about exactly how to structure your workouts around The Big Six.

Fear not. In this guest post for my friend Greg Ohnoez, I've created a simple, straightforward program designed to get you great results with a barbell alone. Try it today, and let me know what you think!

Monday, August 11, 2014 Which Glute Bridge is Best? An Amputee Case Study

I'm tremendously excited to share the link to my first guest blog post for The Glute Guy, Bret Contreras! Not only is Bret a wicked smart leader in the fitness industry, but he's also a terrifically nice guy.

My post chronicles a case study I did using EMG to determine which bodyweight glute bridging variation is best. It's a little heavy on the science side of things, but I know you'll enjoy it!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Men's Health: Man Performs Feat of Strength That Will Amaze You

Check out this article by Adam Campbell for Men's Health all about me and my "amazing feat of strength," the hanging dragon flag. Who would've thought?!

Friday, July 18, 2014

6 Exercises You've Been Doing Wrong All Along


Isolation, or single-joint, exercises like curls, lateral raises, and flys have gotten a bad rap of late. Functional training purists are quick to deem them non-functional, relegating them to bodybuilding protocols only.

While the focus of training should always be on big multi-joint movements, isolation training is often the best strategy for strengthening synergists, regressing multi-joint exercises, and activating “sleepy” muscles.

For this reason, most everyone’s training will benefit from the inclusion of a few select isolation movements. In analogy to food, after you’ve eaten your meat and potatoes (compound lifts), you should feel free to indulge in a bit of dessert (isolation lifts).

Of course, if you’re going to eat dessert, you want to make sure it’s worth it. Like adding chocolate syrup to vanilla ice cream, a slight tweak to the way in which an exercise is traditionally performed can confer a drastically greater benefit. Below are six such tweaks.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Cressey Performance: Performance Enhancement Done Right

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to stop off in Hudson, Massachusetts, for an afternoon on my way to Boston. What’s in Hudson, you ask? Not a whole heck of a lot — besides, of course, the Mecca of sports performance facilities: Cressey Performance. Being in such close proximity, I just had to complete the pilgrimage to see what CP was all about.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Overtraining, Undertraining, and the Sweet Spot

"Overtraining, fatigue, and burnout are a state of mind. Certainly, we all get tired after putting in miles of laps, but the notion of burnout is really a psychological one."

-Three-time Olympian Janet Evans

During my swimming career, I took the above sentiment to heart. More was always better -- more pool sessions per week, more laps, more dryland training. I even went so far as to perform 1000 "abs" per day for a while, as per Evans' recommendation.

As it turns out, I'm not Janet Evans, and neither are you, probably. (Unless you are, in which case, thanks for reading, Janet!) Looking back, I was always in my best shape at the very beginning of the college season, after having trained more moderately during the summer. By mid-season, I was exhibiting numerous signs of overtraining, like constant lethargy, decreased performance in competition, and low motivation to train.

A week or two of strategic overreaching (an abrupt and generous increase in training volume) and subsequent supercompensation through a deload (an abrupt reduction in training volume) or complete rest is one thing. But training past exhaustion day after day, week after week, is simply counterproductive and a recipe for overtraining.

The knock here isn't on Evans, of course. Her training methods obviously worked for her. Some genetically-gifted individuals will be able to train twice a day, every day, no problem. Most mere mortals, however, will not. The key is to find your unique sweet spot in terms of training frequency.

Monday, June 2, 2014 Live Long, Lift Long

The Terminator and the Fitness Pollenator recently joined forces. Back from the future, we have a few pieces of advice for you on resistance training for years to come, including a sample three-day training program!

Follow the link below to read all about it in my article titled 'Live Long, Lift Long:'

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

8 Simple Rules (For a Highly Effective Workout)

There are a million and one ways to exercise the human body, and different strokes certainly work for different folks. That said, when it comes to resistance training, there are a few tried-and-true strategies for making the most of your time. So without further ado, here are 8 Simple Rules that are guaranteed (or your membership money back!) to improve your very next workout, as well as many more thereafter.

Monday, May 26, 2014

These CrossFitters Sure Know How to Put on a Show: Observations from the 2014 Mid Atlantic Regionals

I’m not a CrossFitter, per se, but I suppose you could say that CrossFit is my guilty pleasure. As a biomechanist, I know all about the potential risks of kipping pull-ups and high-rep Olympic lifts. But that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the occasional WOD. The “Benchmark Girls” — Fran, Cindy, and Angie, in particular — are some of my absolute favorite workouts.

Above all, I’m an admirer of fine movement. As such, I simply can’t get enough of the CrossFit Games. Call me crazy, but the crispness and grace with which Games athletes perform highly technical movements, especially in the presence of fatigue, really gets me going. So when I found out that Mid Atlantic Regionals were being held a mere two hours southwest, I just had to go see for myself what it was all about.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Evidence-based or Shmevidence-based

The fitness industry is currently at war. It’s the evidence-based guys versus the bro scientists, and both sides will stop at nothing to shove their methodology down your throat.

evidence vs bro

The war is over how best to consolidate science and practice. The evidence-based camp evaluates the entire body of knowledge in order to form an opinion on an issue. In hierarchical order by level of evidence, this includes all meta-analyses, review papers, randomized clinical trials, and case studies on the topic. After all these options have been exhausted, expert opinion and anecdotal evidence are considered.

Meanwhile, bro scientists don’t feel the need to wait around for the lab coats to tell them what they already know. In order to form their opinions, they generally pick from the bottom rungs of the evidence ladder (anecdotes and expert opinion), often shunning real science in favor of guruism. They feel that their own experience, based on decades of work with thousands of real people, is superior to any laboratory study. 

The evidence-based approach excels in its acknowledgement and avoidance of biases in search of deeper truths, like the mechanisms behind why particular practices works. The bro scientists, on the other hand, are typically content with an ‘if it works, it works’ mentality, even as new research flies in the face of their age-old, tried-and-true practices.

The scientific method is not without its shortcomings, however, and anyone who calls themselves “evidence-based” had better recognize its limitations. Statistics lie. Authors of reviewer papers are not without bias. External validity, or the degree to which the findings of a study can be generalized, can be suspect. That is, just because something worked in the lab setting with a specific target population does not guarantee it can be applied equally well out on the gym floor to another group of people.

Furthermore, say, for instance, a study compares two different types of training and shows no difference between the two. What this really means is that, on average for a group of people, the two types of training do not differ significantly. What this doesn’t mean, though, is that one type of training wouldn’t necessarily be better for a particular individual. This individual variation is exactly what makes training an art in addition to a science.

Both sides of this battle clearly have their strengths and their weaknesses. Likewise, they each tend to get carried away with their own approach -- the evidence-based practitioners demanding that every claim be backed by a peer-reviewed journal article (or three) and the bro scientists selectively ignoring high-quality research if it contradicts their own strongly held views.

While both the evidence-based and bro science approaches have their imperfections, neither extreme should be foolhardily rejected nor embraced. The more sensible approach is to take the middle ground -- to merge the science and the art. The good news? Industry leaders like Alan Aragon, Bret Contreras, Brad Schoenfeld, and Nick Tumminello are doing just that – fusing their knowledge and keen understanding of the science with their own decades of experience in order to inform on practicable gym floor applications.

alan bret brad nick

Here are a few ways we can take cues from these scholarly individuals:
  1. Considering all the levels of evidence, not just the highest or the lowest.
  2. Being simultaneously open-minded yet skeptical. We must consider viewpoints besides our own, while also taking everything with a grain of salt, no matter how smart or credentialed the informant.
  3. Reading the scientific papers (entire papers, not just abstracts!), assessing the merits and limitations of the studies, and coming to our own conclusions. We can’t simply take someone else’s word for it.
  4. Gathering information from a variety of sources, not just one or two of our favorite fitness professionals. Expert opinion is just that: opinion. Plus, even the experts disagree, so it’s vital to expose ourselves to multiple perspectives, not just the ones we always seem to agree with.
  5. Trying everything out -- first on ourselves, and then on our clients -- before pronouncing anything bunk. Only after embracing something completely can we be certain as to whether or not it really works.
By following these steps, we may one day end this ugly war and seamlessly intertwine the science and art of training.


Friday, April 4, 2014

6 Best Ways to Engage in Continuing Education

You're fresh off your personal trainer certification test. You've memorized the origin and insertion of every major muscle in the human body. You know the perfect way to design a workout. Theoretically, you even know the corrections for all ten of the most common mistakes in the squat.


Finally, you can ditch the textbook and get on to training clients! Or can you? In fact, your textbook certification will prepare you for only a fraction of the issues you'll face on the gym floor. The attachment points of muscles are just the beginning of an in-depth understanding of functional anatomy. The squat corrections presented in the book will not work for every client. And there are actually an infinite number of ways to design a workout. You'll come to find that no single one of them is perfect, nor does any one work with every client.

For every short chapter of that certification textbook, volumes upon volumes have been written. Moreover, new research comes out every month debunking old myths and shedding light on new best practices. To stay up on the latest information, you must realize that the real learning begins the moment you step foot out of the testing center. There are countless ways to engage in continuing education. Here are the six best.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cardio That Doesn’t Suck

As its name obviously implies, strength and conditioning is comprised of two components: (1) strength and (2) conditioning. Despite the many years I spent training in the pool, I’ve always been more of a fan of the strength part, with the conditioning coming as a byproduct. This meme explains it best:

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Despite my bias towards resistance training methods for both strength AND conditioning, I do — on occasion — subscribe to more traditional forms of conditioning. I’m even perfectly happy with individuals choosing whichever piece of equipment they find most enjoyable (treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, stair master, etc.). No one of them is really that much better than another.

But what I’m NOT talking about is slogging away on the damn thing for an hour. Although there may be a time and place for long, slow, steady state cardio, now probably isn’t itInstead, the focus should be on interval training, whereby we alternate periods of easier and harder effort. In fact, each of the workouts I describe below takes just 20 minutes, of which only 10 minutes are actually strenuous, since each session begins and ends with 5 minutes easy.

Saturday, March 29, 2014 Workouts for Facebook Fit Chicks

Gaining muscle and losing fat is all about training full-body, compound movements and maximizing the amount of time spent working compared to resting.

As such, I created three mini-circuit full-body workouts that hit all of the major muscle groups. Whether you're a beginner or an advanced trainee, every workout can either be done at home (requires a resistance band) or in the gym.

Check out all the workouts over at

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lower Body Power for All Ages and Stages

What do Michael Jordon skying for a slam dunk, Wayne Gretsky blasting a slap shot, and Randy Johnson hurling a fastball all have in common? Each feat occurs in a fraction of a second.

In order to thrive at sport -- and in life -- there is no doubt we have to be strong. But strength alone isn't enough. We also have to be powerful. That is, we have to be able to generate force rapidly.

It turns out that it's also power, not strength, that has the biggest influence on function as we grow older. Being able to produce force quickly enables us to do things like stand up from the sofa and avoid falling if we trip.

Power is clearly essential on the playing field as well as off. But how do we train for it in the gym? The clean and the snatch come to mind, but not everyone is cut out for those lifts, at least not right away.

Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to develop power that are less risky than the Olympic lifts and still highly effective. In this post, I provide descriptions and videos for 7 of the very best lower body power exercises that young and old alike can enjoy.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Men's Health Next Top Trainer

Hey, faithful readers! Please vote me Men's Health Next Top Trainer:

It takes only a few seconds, and you can vote every day through 4/3. Thank you for your vote!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Brand-spanking New to Resistance Training

Beginning a resistance training program can be a daunting task, especially for folks who've never stepped foot in a gym before. Just last week, I received an e-mail from an old friend in this very pickle who wanted some tips. Below is the exchange (more or less!):

Dear Fitness Pollenator,

Hi! As you know, I'm brand-spanking new to resistance training. I've been reading your blog for a while now, but I'm still a little lost. I want to start a two- or three-day a week training program (30 to 45 minute sessions), and I have access to most standard equipment. What kind of routine should I follow?

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Monday, March 3, 2014

FitPro Client Recipes: Abs of Steel That Aren't Just For Show

Anti-movement core exercises are all the rage these days, and for good reason. Athletes and old folks alike benefit from these exercises that improve the ability to resist motion.

Check out my guest post on Karen Ruffle's Fit Pro Client Recipes site, titled 'Abs of Steel That Aren't Just For Show,' where I go into detail about how to set up and coach eight of the best anti-movement core exercises:

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Athlete Spotlight: Q&A w/ Figure Girl Betsy Lane

24-year-old Betsy Lane is, self-admittedly, not your typical bodybuilder. You won’t find most of her competitors doing heavy strength work or hill sprints. Nor will you find them in the classroom, studying to earn their Doctor of Physical Therapy. Yet with top-three finishes in both of her recent national level shows, Betsy’s dedication and somewhat unconventional methods are undoubtedly paying off. But Betsy didn’t always have a healthy relationship with food, exercise, and her body. Read on to learn about Betsy’s early struggles and recent big successes.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Athlete Spotlight: Q&A With Personal Trainer/Powerlifter Nicole London

Last week, I had the chance to catch up with Philadelphia native and nationally-ranked raw powerlifter Nicole London for a Q&A session. In just a year and a half of training at VIP Training and Strength Sport (Yardley, PA), Nicole has catapulted herself to a top 15 ranking in the 148-pound weight class. Find out how Nicole trains, what it's like to be a female powerlifter, what she's doing to gear up for her upcoming competition, and much more.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

8 Ways to Spice Up Your Training

Tired of the same old 3 sets of 10 reps with a 2/0/2 tempo, resting a minute between sets? Spice up your gym experience with a change in sets/reps, tempo, range of motion, exercise order, or exercise selection. You'll be glad you did.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Movement Competency Checklist for Young Athletes

Kids don't move nearly as much as they used to. These days, time spent couch surfing far exceeds time spent running, jumping, climbing, and monkeying around the playground. As a result, kids nowadays don't move nearly as well as they used to, either. The good news is that with great coaching, the damage can be undone. The bad news? The real-world outcomes are all too often quite the opposite.


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Friday, January 17, 2014 Weird Workouts That Really Work

As my faithful readers know (and new readers will come to find), I'm a big proponent of keeping it simple in the weight room. Push, pull, legs, and core. But sometimes you just have to shake things up.

Check out my article on T-Nation, titled 'Weird Workouts That Really Work,' which details six of my favorite ways to do just that:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Structuring Workouts for Maximum Gains: Concurrent Periodization

Unless you’re strictly a powerlifter, bodybuilder, or endurance athlete, you likely want to make gains in all of the following domains: strength, body composition, and stamina. 

You could spend a few weeks doing specialized training for each quality individually. But if possible, wouldn’t you rather develop all three at once? This is the essence of "concurrent periodization," in which a block of time is allotted every training session for every adaptation.

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

3 Programming Principles You Must Not Neglect

Resistance training may seem incredibly complex to the uninitiated, but it’s actually pretty simple. It can all be boiled down to five fundamental elements: push, pull, knee, hip, and core. As long as you have a good assortment of each of these elements in your weekly routine, you're probably doing all right.

To do even better, though, there are three additional variables that we often forget about but that demand our careful consideration. They are (1) planes of motion, (2) "jointedness," and (3) "sidedness." In this post, I describe how best to manipulate these variables to create a complete and well-rounded program. Included is a sample week of training.


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Sunday, January 5, 2014

7 Squat Faults and Quick Fixes

Let's face it: most average gym-goers don't know how to squat. It could be that they're simply unaware of what the proper depth should be. Or maybe they lack the mind-muscle connection to keep their knees from caving in and their pelvis from tucking under. Perhaps they just let their egos get in the way, causing them to put more weight on the bar than they can handle.

The thing is, everyone is born with a perfect squat. Just watch young children at play. Somewhere along the line, though, many of us lose the mobility, stability, and coordination necessary to perform a proper squat. You're safe if you plan to sit on the couch for the rest of your life, but if you lack the aforementioned qualities and routinely load up sets of heavy squats, poor form will almost inevitably lead to injury.

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