Thursday, April 21, 2016

Is Bad Form Stealing Your Gains? Here's How to Prevent it [Muscle & Strength]

If you were to pin me in a dark corner, threaten my life, and demand an answer to the question, "What is the biggest problem in fitness?", I'd have to say that it's exercise technique.

I'd venture to guess that upwards of 75% of exercisers use bad technique when they train. The reasons for sloppy form are many, but the results are always the same: a ceiling on muscle growth and strength gains -- or worse, injury.

To combat this issue, for the last couple of years I've been doing a weekly #FormCheckFriday series on Facebook, highlighting common (and sometimes very subtle) technique mistakes through side-by-side video comparisons.

Muscle & Strength was so impressed with my work on this important issue that they asked me to develop a complete article series on the subject. Here's the first installment, Is Bad Form Stealing Your Gains? Here's How to Prevent it:


Sunday, April 17, 2016

8 Coaching Techniques You Should Use to Help Your Clients Succeed [The PTDC]

Not all personal trainers are created equal. (That's just a nice way of saying some personal trainers stink!) To help separate the good from the bad, I created a list of 8 techniques that great trainers use to help their clients succeed, including
  • Simple things like adjusting on the fly and demonstrating proper form
  • Surprising things like underestimating clients' abilities, and
  • More nuanced things like involving clients in the decision-making process. 

Great trainers should use most, if not all, of the techniques.

Read the article on


If you're a personal trainer, how many of the 8 techniques do you use? If you're a trainee, how many of them does your personal trainer use?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Reverse Engineering Success: Two Tacky Adages That Are Completely True

They say that if you want to be successful, then you should copy successful people. They also say that you’re the average of the people you spend the most time with.

In general, I ignore tacky adages like the ones above. As a personal trainer, though, my mission is to help my clients reach their goals. So lately, in an effort to reverse engineer my own success (two Paralympic American swimming records, beating autoimmune disease, a master’s degree), I’ve been thinking hard about what makes me tick.

After careful reflection, I realized that much of my success could be boiled down to the above two themes. Today, I’d like to discuss three of the successful people* I've copied, the effect they’ve had (and continue to have) on me, and the characteristics I’ve sought to emulate in each of them.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Test Your Relative Strength in 20 Seconds [Testosterone Nation]

Everyone knows how important testing is. Airplane testing saves lives. Standardized testing lets kids know where they stand relative to their peers. Our spouses even test us on whether we remember trivial details about them or they can hold it against us to pick a fight.

In the gym, we also recognize the importance of testing. After all, we need to make sure we’re getting stronger and not spinning our wheels.

The most common test, of course, is the one-rep max (1RM). Make no bones about it: the 1RM is a useful metric for determining strength. But if we’re interested in our overall health and durability (in addition putting up big weights), it isn’t the only measure we need to consider....

In my new article for, Test Your Relative Strength in 20 seconds: 7 Bodyweight Challenges You Gotta Try, I spell out the importance of bodyweight relative strength -- and how to test yours.

Read the article here:

Friday, April 8, 2016

What a Marvel Antihero and I Have in Common

I recently finished watching the second season of Daredevil on Netflix. It’s a great show, and I highly recommend it. One of the major storylines this season (spoiler alert!) is that of “the Punisher,” or Frank Castle, a war hero on trial for a brutal killing spree to avenge the death of his family.

To lessen his sentence, Castle’s lawyers want to take a PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) angle. However, Castle insists that he is completely of his right mind. Moreover, he doesn’t want to diminish the suffering of individuals who do, in fact, have PTSD. Although I haven’t gone on any killing sprees lately myself (except maybe of PR’s in the weight room), I can actually relate to Castle on a certain level.

Watch this man shoot a lot of bad guys in the new season of Daredevil on Netflix.

About a year ago, in order to end a five-year battle with uncontrolled ulcerative colitis, I underwent a proctocolectomy, or the removal of my entire colon and rectum. After a long road to recovery, I can finally say today that I’m back to my old self. The aftermath of surgery, however, was nothing short of a nightmare. Memories of my 17-day, three-part stay in the hospital continue to haunt me like a bad dream almost a year after the fact.

Like Castle in Daredevil, at the risk of trivializing others’ suffering, I don't want to attempt to attach a label to what I’m experiencing. Nevertheless, each day I wrestle with trying to reconcile the memories that are burned into my psyche in a shroud of ugly fluorescent hospital lightMaybe writing them down will help. After all, they say that can be very therapeutic. Please know that I'm not looking for pity, just catharsis.