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Monday, June 30, 2008

Q&A: 5x5 Article

Hi Mike,

I liked your 5x5 article on elitefts.com. You reference moving to a more intensity based routine if you meet certain criteria. Are you referring to a program such as Westside?


Absolutely Rick - while I have no doubt that Westside can get you super strong, some people simply aren't ready to train in this intensive of a fashion.

In his book "Science and Practice of Strength Training," Zatsiorsky mentions that trainees should focus on repetition method work for 3 years before seriously employing the maximal effort method. Now, this doesn't mean you have to be doing 12's the entire time, but I wouldn't be doing heavy singles in the beginning, either.

You need this "base" for several reasons:

- Development of connective tissue strength
- Development of optimal technique
- Development of confidence

I think the guys who have probably seen the best success with Westside have exhausted their success using other methods. I think most lifters follow a path like this:

Beginner - High rep stuff (8's, 10's, etc. basically newbie gains)

Intermediate - Moderate volume with increased intensity (i.e. 5x5 or 3x3 methodologies)

Advanced - Sheiko, Westside, etc. - basically high intensity stuff. I could get into how Sheiko and Westside are different w/regards to how they go about intensifying the workouts, but that's a whole 'nother blog post ;)

I hope this long-winded answer helps you out!


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Q&A: Patellar Tendonitis

Hi Mike,

I've been reading your articles on T-Nation, purchased Magnificent Mobility/Inside-Out and am beginning to incorporate both into training and non-training periods.

I have recently been diagnosed with patellar tendonitis in the right knee and was wondering if you could give any recommendations as to how to treat this. Should I be looking into your "Bulletproof Knees" book, or should something like Magnificent Mobility be sufficient (over time)?

Thanks for your time.

Thanks for contacting me James. I'm glad you're finding the products useful, and hopefully this post will help you get that knee 100% again.

First of all, you should know that true tendonitis is pretty rare - and if it is what you have, then high-dose NSAID's for a couple of days should clear it right up. What you probably have it patellar tendinosis.

While I think Bulletproof Knees would help, it's more of a post-rehab protocol. If you do in fact have patellar tendinosis, current research seems to indicate that eccentric decline squats seem to help clear it up pretty well. I would meet with a qualified PT, or at the very least do a thorough search on Pubmed to help you figure out the best protocol.

As I recall (and it's been a while since I read through the research, so don't hold me to this!), two to three sets of 15 repetitions on at least a 15 degree decline worked quite well over the course of several weeks. You have to perform these twice a day, and it's probably going to be pretty uncomfortable in the beginning.

The bigger question is - why did this happen in the first place? In my humble opinion, people who develop patellar tendinosis tend to be in a greater degree of anterior pelvic tilt on that side when compared to the unaffected side. What does this mean from a training perspective?

- You need more rectus/external oblique work on that side.

- You probably lack glute activation/strength on that side.

- One or more of your hip flexors on that side are either short/stiff.

So once you've cleaned up the tendinosis, work to iron out the side-to-side imbalances that most likely created it initially. This is where Bulletproof Knees would be the most beneficial - to help you get back to 100% after you've dealt with the pathology.

Good luck!


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Metabolic Momentum

Before I begin this blog, I must give complete and total credit for the term Metabolic Momentum to Bill Hartman - if he's smart, he'll trademark it ASAP ;)

All I know is this - for the past 2-3 months I've trained pretty hard, consistently, and ate reasonably well. My diet hasn't been 100% perfect, but pretty good overall. However, the other day I had a light training session but my diet was pretty darn bad - I don't remember what all I ate, but I know it wasn't healthy and I finished the day off with a small Blizzard from Dairy Queen (conveniently located less than 1 minute from my house).

So I put on 3 pounds at least that day - right?

That's what I would've figured - but in fact the opposite was true. I actually LOST a pound that day, bringing me to a current low of 204 pounds.

Essentially, metabolic momentum occurs when you've trained your ass off and ate really well for an extended period of time. John Berardi refers to this (or something along these lines) as G-Flux.

In fact, it's not rocket science at all - the phrase "Eat Less, Move More" comes to mind immediately. There's nothing wrong with eating carbs, or having a dessert from time to time - the key is that these are considered "treats" and don't occur on a daily basis. Couple this with a regimented and reasonably hard training program and you're good to go.

I'm not going to drone on and on about this, just understand that the further you are away from your goal, the more dialed in you have to be to accrue some Metabolic Momentum. Your metabolism is slow as molasses and you need to do everything in your power to get it rolling. Get strict about your diet and training to really crank things up.

As you get closer to your goal, you can (but don't need to) slow down and enjoy the process a little bit. I've essentially hit my goal of being in the low 200's, so unless I want to take it a notch further I'm okay with where I'm at. My metabolism is cranking pretty good, so I have a little bit more leeway in my diet now than I did over the past couple of months. In essence, it's my reward for being a good boy for a while now.

I hope this all makes sense - dial in your diet, train hard, and develop some Metabolic Momentum to help get (and stay!) in great shape!

Stay strong

Monday, June 23, 2008

Random thoughts from the weekend

Sorry, but there's not going to be any real rhyme or reason to this post. Just a bunch of stuff I've thought about over the weekend.

- Golf is hard, but I definitely get why people enjoy it. The feel you get from a good shot is definitely alluring. Luckily for me, I had more than one or two good ones - but not enough for me to play consistently. Yet.

- When you're 6'7", you can drive the ball REALLY far.

- Moving a cable crossover piece-by-piece into a gym isn't all that bad.

- Moving a cable crossover piece-by-piece out of a basement really sucks.

- You have a turn signal on your car for a reason. PLEASE use it.

- If you have to ask the service tech at your cell phone store how to make a call, you have no business bothering them with questions about texting, e-mail, or checking your account balance online.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Anyone need an Indianapolis Personal Trainer?

Well, the I-FAST site is really coming around! Mike Roussell has been hard at work over the past couple of weeks to bring it together, so be sure to check it out below. If you're interested in personal training, sports performance training, or simply an open gym membership, you owe it to yourself to check us out.

Stay strong

Indianapolis Personal Trainer

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A quick lesson in knee stability

Last night I had my blog for today planned - I was going to talk about the training and mental resolve it takes to be a champion. Unfortunately for KG and the Celtics, they're going to have to wait a day!

We saw mental toughness at its finest this week when Tiger Woods won his 14th major in the world of golf. Even though he was playing on a bum knee and needed an extra 19 holes to get the job done, he persevered and outlasted the underdog Rocco Mediate to win the US Open.

Unfortunately today, we found out the true scope of his knee injury. You can find the entire story here:

It turns out Tiger had torn his anterior crucicate ligament (ACL) llate ast year. In an effort to play this year, he opted against surgery - which lead to him tearing his meniscus and developing two stress fractures in his tibia.

The ACL is one of the major passive stabilizers of the knee - without an intact ACL, the knee is much more "loose." This is why people who don't have their ACL's repaired have an expedited onset of arthritic changes in the knee. You need that stability for optimal function in the knee, as well as throughout the kinetic chain.

Unfortunately for us, this means no more Tiger Woods on the golf course this year. However, just think about how much more amazing this makes his recent victory - even with a reduction in his knee stability AND a loss of proprioceptive ability due to the ACL tear, he still won a major golf tournament. I'm sure that like the rest of you, we're crossing our fingers that the real Tiger will be back next year and better than ever.

If you are having knee issues, or have torn your ACL in the past, I'd highly recommend picking up a copy of my Bulletproof Knees manual to help get you back to 100%.

Stay strong


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Guest Blog: Leigh Peele

Today we have a guest blogger on the board. As I was reading Leigh Peele's Fat Loss Troubleshoot last week (a great read, BTW), near the end she has this amazing story about one of her clients. Far too often we use excuses to explain why we can't achieve our goals. This guy had about a million and one excuses, but he still got the job done.


Stay strong


I am a big believer in things not being very black and white. I am one who believes in the ability of people to change, perhaps because I myself have changed so much. I seem to find often those who don’t believe in others ability to change are those who are afraid or do not attempt to do so themselves. I change, I change everyday. I constantly try to face things I fear, to stand up to the person I know I can be, and to self educate to become a more informed person in the future. I am human, I am flawed, but I try because I care.

That is the difference. That is where it becomes black and white. You either care or you don’t about something. There is no half way when it comes to caring about something. You don’t kind of care. By the very definition of the word it is a pretty extreme emotion, much like love. You love or you don’t.

You have heard of the saying I am sure, “I fell off the wagon”. Usually associated with drinking, it is basically rooted in trying to achieve a goal of abstaining something that isn’t good for us and failing to do so. The origin of the saying varies but it is largely believed to have come from the days of prohibition where those who denied alcohol were said to be “on the water wagon”. A water wagon carried water that sprayed the roads to calm the dust of travel. As if to say “I would rather drink the muck of the passing wagon than liquor”. To fall of the water wagon was not ideal. To say the alcohol is all good or bad is a bit extreme for my liking but I like the phrase.

The reason I like the phrase is because to fall off the wagon is to imply that you have a) been on the wagon at some point and b) can get back on it. In one classic saying you can combine a world of hope for yourself. You can take stock of the negative effects of failure and the positive of getting back on to ride a less mucky journey. I will try to resist being too poetic and spare you my drivel. I want to move to the rude awakening which is…

You either care or you don’t.

You either do what you have to do to achieve something or you don’t.

Does this mean that if you aren’t perfect that you don’t care? No, not at all. I can assure you that you can mess up left and right and still care. This whole thing is about trying to help you understand if you do care and the accountability that comes with doing so.

Excuses, Excuses.

I had a case client that was by all accounts a tragedy but he made Rocky’s ambition look wimpy. He had no money, no real family, worked two jobs, in massive debt from bad past financial decisions, divorced, recovering from a bad knee injury, no workout equipment, extremely out of shape, and about 75 pounds overweight. His one job was in a factory plant where he got a 30 min break in 10 hours. His other job was a graveyard shift job he worked 3 days a week. Some days he got 4 hours of sleep. A challenge for me to say the least as I had to work around time, money, no training equipment, injuries, and more. He could only contact me twice a week because his internet access was at the library only as he lived 6 states away from me.

Doesn’t matter though because you do what you have to do, so we got at it.

Training? Bodyweight, poles at work, on the way to work, park near his apartment.

Diet? Condiments and Splenda taken from his cafeteria at work. Bulk chicken breast and tuna buys at market. Dented cans of food, discounted meats, and veggies. I had 40 bucks a week to work with, that is it. Cheats were sample days at supermarkets, and bang for your buck calories came from smarter fast food decisions.

Supplements? Weren’t any, he couldn’t afford them.

Rest? He didn’t get a lot, but we did what we could.

Eating times? He packed lunches, he mashed foods together to make bars, he ate stuff cold, but he ate as often as he could.

Aerobic training? He acquired a used bike and started riding it to work. He started doing some drills outside, and when his knee got better he found one hill and went up and down it.

End result? I would like to tell you he lost all that 75 pounds, but he didn’t. Instead he lost 54 pounds, gained a some muscle and is about 11% body fat. In the best shape of his life and just got hired to be a personal training after saving 400 bucks to get the certification. He just wants to train people, just wants to make a few bucks doing something he now loves.

Now to be truthful this didn’t have a thing to do with me. I barely talked to him or inspired him. I didn’t get to see his form, all I could really do was point him in the right direction, provide a program and cross my fingers. I tried to help him get creative to make his life easier, but that is about it. It was how much he cared about achieving that did it. I was just an education source.

Have you picked up anything yet? I have a few questions for you now.

What are your excuses?

What are you whining about?

What is so bad that is keeping you from achieving your goal?

More so, what are you telling yourself to make yourself feel better about not sticking to your program?

Hold on, don’t get upset. This isn’t about beating you down so let me explain further.

Do you think I am that perfect? That I never screw up or have my weak moments? Of course I do. I will admit it isn’t often and when I have a goal I really try to do my best at it because I am a perfectionist, but still I am a emotional creature. I have my physical limits and certainly my mental ones. The difference is, if I don’t do what I need to do, I know it is because I choose to.

That is it. That is the lesson to be learned here.

If I am running late for a meeting it is because I chose to sit 5 mins longer than I should have. I chose the night before to lay down early instead of laying out my meals for the next day and that put me behind. My weakness isn’t so much in training and food by the way, but man can I make organizing mistakes. I am working on it. I DO CARE. I progress because I am real with myself about what I don’t do, about what I haven’t done.

You can honestly tell me that you had to eat at a restaurant and at that restaurant you had to eat an oil smothered roll? Crap. You didn’t have to do anything, you choose to do it. You could have…

-Eaten before you got there
-Asked for a healthier selection
-Taken a meal replacement bar with you in your pocket
-Not eaten there at all

Tons of choices. You chose to take the direction you went. There are no excuses, only choices.
People hire me and dislike me because I take away their excuses. Whatever you can come up with, I have it in spades for what you could have done better. Am I faulting you for lack of imagination? Yes I am. There are billions of dollars in books, software, magazines, information, whatever that can provide you methods of making better choices. Even if you make the wrong choice, at least you thought you were making the right choice.

No Food? Pack it.

No Time? Find it.

Too Tired? Sleep more.

No Equipment? Find Some.

No Support? Support yourself.

Here are some of my favorite excuses.

#1-”It was in the house so I had to eat it.”

No you didn’t have to eat it. Also the number one rule to trying to cut the fat is to make your home a safe ground. If it isn’t in the house you can’t eat it. However, to that you will turn and say…

#2-”Why should I punish my family? I can’t control what they bring in.”

Not having unhealthy food in the house is hardly punishment and you need to rethink how you look at food. Give your kid an apple not a ding dong. You making a statement like that is like saying “I care about my body and how I look, let them worry about theirs”. What happens when your spouse starts to feel the effects (mentally or physically) of that lifestyle? Worse, what about your kids becoming obese and setting a tough course for their life to follow? Newer surveys from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about one-third of U.S. children are overweight.

Lastly, does your family really have that little respect for you that they can’t make some sacrifices for you? If you really can’t get the husband or wife to stop bringing home bad foods then you need to look at what that really means and how much you are being supported and respected.

#3-”I need some time for me and I just can’t spend my whole day packing, shopping, and cooking.”

Well you don’t have to. A tiny bit of planning and organizing and it can be done easily.

You can eat out as well if you take the time to do it the right way. Do you have a favorite tv show of late? If you can talk to your friends about the new Lost episode or who is winning on American Idol, then you have time to pack your meals for the next day. You find the time to do the things you want to do.

Let me repeat.

If you care, you make the time.

If you care, you will deal with a fight.

If you care, you will demand respect.

If THEY care, they will help you.

If you care you will commit right now to do the most important thing you can do for yourself in this life. STOP MAKING EXCUSES.

If you ate the cookie it happens yes, it doesn’t mean you don’t care. It does mean you CHOOSE to do it. It was your choice. It was your failure or success. When you do well it just doesn’t happen, you earned it, and you chose your path. Well as with success the same comes with failure. If you fail to comply it was your choice to do so. It isn’t because life is unfair, your didn’t want to look like a stick in the mud, your husband brought home a pizza, your kid wanted the ice cream, you didn’t have time to pack for work, etc.

All excuses. All failures that you are trying to soften and make something they are not. Don’t. You can’t now anyway because I have called you out on it. You can try to convince yourself all you want but now I have nagged you and my words will haunt you in that weak moment. Remember still that it is okay and normal to have weak moments, just accept them for what they are. That is all I am trying to teach you.

In the end it boils down to this. You are either a Wagon Rider or Pedestrian.

A Wagon Rider can fall off, they may let it pass by them on the street, they may get scared of the ride and the journey over and over again, but they care. They spend more time on the wagon than walking. They will get to their destination faster.

The Pedestrian just keeps walking and aren’t ready to make any changes. They don’t care and it doesn’t matter to them right now. This may have been you, it may be your now. It can be a lonely and a selfish life being the pedestrian but the choice, as always…

is yours.

Leigh Peele

Monday, June 16, 2008

Reader response to "Operator Error"

After my blog post titled "Operator Error," I got this amazing e-mail from reader Todd Stark. Todd (like myself) obviously has an interest in the psychology of training, and he's allowed me to reproduce his e-mail below. Enjoy!
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Hi Mike,

Just to stay psychological for a moment, I agree completely with you about locus of control and its importance. There’s also this thing called “cognitive dissonance” that is a huge and pervasive effect on how we explain our own behavior. It has various consequences, but I think one of the big ones for training is that the more we legitimately invest in something, the more we see it as useful -- in order to prevent the uncomfortable inconsistency that failure would represent to our self-image of intelligence, etc..

So if we don’t get the results we expect, we tend to either blame someone else for “tricking” us or blame the program for “not working” in some way that we could not have predicted. It is much harder to reason that we didn’t follow instructions or that we didn’t adapt the program suitably or that we picked the wrong program or wrong level of intensity to use, because these things are more likely to signify that “*I*” made a mistake. It is easy to admit mistakes so long as they aren’t our own, then it becomes very, very difficult to admit them. The more something seems like a mistake on my own part, the less likely I can actually attribute the failure to my own actions, especially if I see myself as intelligent and relatively free of error, as most of us do.

Recognizing and compensating for this is (I suspect) a big part of shifting our locus of control.

If you are interested in this psychological stuff, one of the original researchers into cognitive dissonance and another very good psychologist wrote a recent book about it that’s pretty good, with provocative current examples. Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson, “Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)”. It probably won’t teach you anything completely new, since you seem to have some background in psych, but it is a great read.

Kind regards,


Stay strong


Friday, June 13, 2008

Q&A: Core Training

This was recently sent to me by a client and fitness enthusiast regarding core training; his friend was trying the following exercise and wanted to know if it was dangerous or not. First, here's the link:


Now, before all the Crossfit people out there go nuts on me for saying this, understand that I'm only going to critique the EXERCISE, not Crossfit as a whole. In fact, I used to subscribe to this kind of core training myself, so I'm definitely not beyond reproach.

The fact of the matter is that repeated flexion and extension of the lumbar spine probably is not a good idea. Sure, there are people out there who have done exercises like this for years and never been injured. However, there are also people out there that always pull deadlifts with a round back and never had a back injury. Keep in mind, these people are quite often exceptions to the rule - just because they haven't been injured doesn't mean they're right.

Here's a little quote from one of Eric Cressey's recent blog posts from a similar vein:

“Repetitive flexion-extension motions with low magnitude compressive forces have been shown to be an effective mechanism for causing disc herniations.”

(Note: You can check out Eric's entire blog post here: Herniating a Disc 101).

Unfortunately, we're still very caught up in the idea of moving our lumbar spine during core training movements. Whether it's excessive flexion, rotation, extension or even side-bending, the muscular make-up of the core region, coupled with the lack of rotary capacity at the lumbar spine, leads me to believe that work to stabilize or spare the spine should be our primary goal. And keep in mind, too, this is only focusing on the region we're working, while the body works as a functional, integrated unit. Excessive shortening of the rectus abdominus can also wreak havoc on the rib cage, pulling us into an excessively kyphotic posture and beating the hell out of our shoulders.

Since my first article on core training, I've written two more that reflect my current stance on core training; you can find them here:

Core Training for Smart Folks

High Performance Core Training

The exercises outlined here not only train the core in appropriate postures (i.e. the ones we're in every day), but teach the surrounding muscles to resist movement rather than promote it.

I hope this helps answer your question.

Stay strong

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Operator Error

I must admit, I'm constantly intrigued at how people interpret things.

For instance, I was reading a while back about someone who was re-living their fat loss experience. They claimed that "X" program didn't work. They only lost Y amount of lbs., and therefore the program was a bust.

However, if you read the whole post, they discussed how they missed some workouts, didn't stick to the diet 100%, and otherwise had a few lapses in judgement that could have affected the results.

Excuse me - huh?

If I can get all psychological on you here for a second, there's this little thing called your locus of control. Some people have an internal locus - basically, they understand that what they do has a direct influence on the results they receive.

In contrast, others have an external locus of control - while they understand their actions to some degree influence their results, they are very quick to blame outside factors for the good or bad that comes of them.

There's an old quote that goes something like this: "You're exactly where you deserve to be in life." In other words if you have the body you want, a great job, family life, etc., it's because you've worked hard to achieve it. If your overweight, out of shape, have a crummy job or crummy relationships, well, you've done something to achieve that result as well.

This is a key concept: You have to understand that YOU have gotten yourself to your current state. YOU have direct control over the future. Your relationships, your body, your career - the key constituent in all these things is YOU. Sure, outside influences play a role, but the second you stop blaming outside influences the better off you'll be.

With regards to your body, blaming anything on a program or diet is weak. Sure, there are some programs and diets out there that are better than other, but step back and look at the big picture. You control how hard you train, your recovery, and what you put in your mouth. The sooner you realize that you control what goes on with your body, the sooner you're going to make some wholesale changes and truly enjoy the body that you have.

Stay strong

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Black and White

In the 80's, high carb diets were all the rage. Now, it's low carb all the way baby!

For strength building, you have to use 5x5.

Unless you use Westside.

Or Sheiko, that might work too. The Russians are kind of strong, after all.

What am I getting at here? The longer I do this, the more I realize how assinine black and white statements are. They might garner headlines or attract attention to yourself, but very rarely are they correct over the long haul.

Instead, we all know that real truth lies somewhere in the middle - it's not just low carb diets, or low fat diets that work, but generally something in between.

More importantly, it's ALWAYS individual. If you want to get all Devil's Advocate on someone, take the opposite stance and figure out ways in which it might be applicable and argue like your life dependend on it.

This is really prevalent in all the fat loss materials out there nowadays. You can get products like Warp Speed where everything is done for you - diet, training, the works. Now some people bash the product because "You're not teaching the person to fish." But what if they don't give a damn about fishing? Maybe they'd rather spend time at work to make more money. Or spend more time with their familiy. After all, who are you to tell someone else what's better? If you want to learn more about the topic, buy Leigh Peele's Fat Loss Troubleshoot instead.

The same goes for strength training - a specific program might work great for you, but not work as well for someone else. Does the program no longer hold value? Is it suddenly a worse program for you? These are just some points I keep coming back to.

Most importantly, I think it's critical to find out about what works for you. Do you want to know the inner workings of a program or fat loss method? Then you better buy the appropriate product. Maybe 5x5 works best for you for getting big and strong - great! But don't assume it will work the same for your buddy.

In contrast, there's nothing wrong with being on the other side of the fence. I spend a ridiculous amount of time learning about training, nutrition, and a host of other topics because it's my job. I don't care how the stock markets work - I can pay someone manage my IRA's. As well, I'd much rather pay an accountant to deal with my mess than me take the time out of my life to deal with it. Don't be ashamed to have a professional do the work for you.

Figure out what works, for you, and then apply it consistently. If you're a trainer, do you best to educate yourself on all the various methodologies respective to your field. The second you become entrenched in dogma and one-way thinking, you're behind the curve. As the saying goes, "there's more than one way to skin a cat."

One final note: I really feel that the reason many programs work is because people believe in them. For myself, a modified 5x5 approach consistently produced gains in my squat, and I believed in the program. The same could be said for those successfully applying Sheiko or Westside methodologies. If you believe that a program will net you results, you're much more likely to train hard enough to elicit those changes.

Find something that is consistent with your beliefts, work your ass off, and the results will come. But don't be surprised if the answer isn't black and white.

Stay strong

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I-FAST #2 - Personal/Group Training

Let's be honest - personal training and performance coaching isn't cheap. Most people out there simply can't afford to pay $80/hour (or more) multiple times per week to work with you.

So what's an alternative that works as a win-win for everyone involved? Small group training. In fact, we'll be offering almost all our training sessions in a small group format versus a one-on-one setting.

Small group training is superior in several regards:

- As mentioned above, not everyone can pay $80/session multiple times per week. However, a lot more people can pay $30-$40/session (Duh!). Quite simply, you open yourself up to a much larger market because you're more affordable than the competition.

- A small group setting gives trainees a chance to work out with other clients who have similar goals. Whether you want to lose body fat, get stronger, or become more athletic, there's nothing better than being surrounded by other motivated people.

- As a facility or trainer, it makes more sense because you can have more trainees working out at any given time. The one-on-one method leads to a lot of down time; chatting about last night's TV shows or the latest gossip. Sure, as a trainer you're going to work harder in a group model, but you're much more efficient with your time in the gym. After all, who wants to work with a trainer at 7 pm when he's been in the gym since 6 am?

The goal is to cater to two primary demographics: the everday Joe/Jane that's interested in losing bodyfat or getting into better shape, and athletes who want to take their performance to the next level. When you think about it, the rules of training don't change all that much between the two groups:

1 - Use compound, big bang exercises
2 - Eat a wholesome, nutritious diet
3 - Recover properly

Sure the programming will be different in certain aresa, but most people need to train more "athletically" to get to their goals anyway!

The group training model is a defining difference between I-FAST and the competition. Remember our primary goal: To help YOU achieve your goals.


Stay strong

Monday, June 9, 2008

I-FAST #1 - Open Gym Memberships

Over the course of the following days, I'm going to blog about the new gym that Bill Hartman and I are opening. I think it's fair to say that opening a gym is a dream that both of us have had for quite some time, so in these blog posts I'm going to do my best to describe what will make Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training (I-FAST) unique when compared to other fitness facilities.

In this blog we'll discuss open gym memberships at the facility.

When you join your "typical" commerical facility, a few things will probably happen:

- You'll sign some sort of contract
- You might get a brief tour of the facility
- You might get someone to "show you how to use the machines"
- If you're really lucky, they may do some sort of fitness testing on you

Whether you think of it this way or not, you're basically renting machines from your current gym. You will get little or no guidance. To boot, you'll probably get little or not support.

You're a cog in the wheel.

At I-FAST, our #1 goal is to ensure that our clients see results. After all, each and every person who trains at your gym is a walking billboard, whether you want to believe it or not. Our open gym membership will be vastly different from others in several regards.

First, EVERY PERSON who trains at our gym will be assessed to help determine their starting points and issues that need to be addressed. This could include body composition, joint specific mobility/stability testing, gross motor movements, etc. Obviously, it's going to be very dependent upon your current level of training, your goals, etc. but everyone will be assessed.

Next, EVERY PERSON who trains at our gym will be on an individualized program to help them achieve their goals. You won't see someone doing 30 sets of curls, bench presses, or front raises. After all, how many people in your current gym work hard enough to have success, but have terrible programming? Or programming that doesn't fit their current goals? If you combine hard work with quality programming, good things happen.

Another common issue with most commercial facilities is a lack of the big bang equipment such as racks, platforms, plates, etc. Just to start out we're going to have four platforms and three racks so you don't have to deal with this madness. Beyond that, we'll have tons of the other stuff you know you need - dumbbells, strongman equipment, etc.

Finally, our goal is to create a community within our members so that you'll actually enjoy the people around you when you work out. A positive and supportive environment can taken even the most average trainee to amazing levels of strength and fitness, so we'll include all kinds of events and outings to make sure that you "know thy neighbor."

In the end, even our open gym memberships aren't so much members as they are clients - people we've assessed, programmed for, and set on a path to success.

In Part II, we'll discuss the various training programs that I-FAST has to offer.

Stay strong


Friday, June 6, 2008

Rebuilding the squat

My first squat workout consisted of 8 repetitions at 185 pounds. I can still remember it to this day, as one of the football players made some wise-ass comment and called me "Squatasaurus."


In my first official powerlifting meet, I squatted a whopping 336 at a bodyweight around 176. Needless to say, I didn't know squat.

Over the years, I tried tons of different programs - clusters, wave-loads, bands, chains, 5x5, Russian squat cycles, the works. I also tried tons of different squatting styles; I started out narrow, then moved ultra wide (ala Westside), and then settled on something in between. All I knew was the squat was the most difficult lift for me, but I wanted it to be my best.

Over the years, I slowly built my squat. I think the numbers went something like this:

Meet #1 - 336
Meet #2 - 380
Meet #3 - 407
Meet #4 - 385 (yeah, this one sucked - that's another story!)
Meet #5 - 385 (this REALLY sucked - welcome to a National meet!)
Meet #6 - 424?
Meet #7 - 446
Meet #8 - 473
Meet #9 - 490 (couldn't eke out the big 5 bills)
Meet #10 - 515
Meet #11 - 530 (I think I could've gone 545-550 this day, but a miscue on the opener wrecked that notion)

I'm not 100% on all the numbers, but that looks pretty darn close. First meet was in December of 2000, last meet in May of '05. I did approximately two meets per year, except for '01-'02 where I did at least three.

Let's be honest: I was never a pretty squatter. I have a short torso and long limbs, so it's more of a squat/good morning hybrid. While I'm nowhere near their level, my squat looked a lot like a Brad Gillingham or Nick Tylutki. Being an athlete growing up, I inherently knew the best way for me to squat big was to squat fast. The slow, controlled thing just didn't work for me.

I think the thing that consistently drove my numbers up were hard work, a laser-like focus on my goals and always refining technique. I had a video clip up here last year where I was squatting again and the "stroke" has never felt quite the same after the surgery. The knee feels fine, but training has been inconsistent at best and without coaching getting dialed in is very hard to do.

My goal right now is to get the technical aspects back, and then to start driving the poundages back up. If you want to grow your squat, I think I've written some decent articles on the topic - be sure to check these out:

10 Tips for Flawless Squattin'

6 Tricks for a Sexy Squat

The Modified 5x5 Program (this is the routine I used to go from 420ish to 530)

Olympic vs. Powerlifting Squats

While it's not a quick and easy process, take the time and dedicate yourself to growing your squat. Whether your goal is jakt legs, aesthetics or just a big squat, your hard work will be rewarded over time.

Stay strong

PS I'll do my best to find a video clip of a competition squat; I know I have one somewhere!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

So you want to look like him, eh?

While "fat loss training" has always been part of my job description, when opening a commercial gym it quickly becomes a priority.
So what does this have to do with Rich Franklin?

With MMA being all the rage now, everyone wants to "look like a fighter." After all, 10 years ago everyone wanted to look like a boxer or gymnast, so it's only fitting to have a new aesthetic goal to shoot for.
But the question is this: Are you being realistic?
Now granted, almost everyone reading this would LOVE to have a physique like Rich's. But while watching a show regarding his life a few days ago, he talked about how hectic his life was, and how he often TRAINED 40 HOURS PER WEEK!
Think about that - most people hate working 40 hours a week; could you imagine training 40 hours a week? I don't care how much you enjoy it, that would wear on just about anyone. Rich described it as "the grind of training 40 hours per week." Granted, this includes skill/techincal work, strength work, conditioning, etc., but that's more training than most people get in a month, let alone a week!
When defining your physique, strength and/or body fat goals, make sure that you're being realistic. I'm not in any way, shape or form asking you to lower your expectations or strive for less than your own personal best, but sometimes a dose of reality goes a long way.
Stay strong

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Fat Loss Troubleshoot and my own fat/weight loss

Last week I finished up Dave Barr's "Anabolic Index", so I figured it's time to read something about getting lean - thus the move to Leigh Peele's Fat Loss Troubleshoot. I'm going to write up something thorough for the newsletter when I'm all done, but I thought I'd give a few intial impressions here in the blog.

First of all, I really like Leigh's writing style; she's got a witty, easy way of saying things. It makes for pleasurable reading overall. So far, she's given an overview of all the chapters, discussed calories, carbs, proteins, fats, etc. Basically, she's laying the groundwork for later chapters that get into the nitty-gritty details behind shedding body fat once and for all.

As many of you know, I just finished up my final 12 days on the Warp Speed diet. Overall, I lost approximately 15 pounds and in general I feel much better overall. My conditioning is up and everything just feels easier. While the Fat Loss Troubleshoot is there to give you the ins and outs and will most likely "teach you how to fish", Warp Speed gives basically tells you "do this and you'll get leaner."

In my opinion one isn't necessarily better than the other - it's more dependent on what YOU want to get out of each.

Do you want to learn it all and be able to write programs/diets for yourself or clients? If so, the troubleshoot may be preferable.

Do you want to be told exactly how to train/diet for the next four weeks for maximal body fat loss? Then Warp Speed may be better for you.

This is turning into a rant more than anything, so I'll do my best to summarize. EVERYTHING is individual. Some people want to learn as much as possible, and that's great. Others don't have the time/inclination, and that's fine too. After all, I pay an accountant, financial planner, and a host of other people to "do" stuff for me that I don't have the desire to learn about myself.

The bottom line here is this: If your goal is to lose body fat, pick the product that works best for you and get the job done. At this point in time, it's rarely an issue of not knowing enough - the key is in applying it properly and consistently.

Stay strong

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sweet gear

Jason Thompson is a friend of a friend whom I met at the Indianapolis Performance Enhancement seminar. I knew he was into the kettlebell thing, and my buddy Justin had mentioned he was developing a ton of sweet gear that revolved around kettlebells.

Always in need of new training gear, I swapped Jason some of my stuff for some of his gear - specifically a hat and several t-shirts. I threw this one on at the gym today:

When I read the back, I damn near spit out the water I was drinkin' - I thought it was pretty funny! Well, at least until I got to the gym and someone was actually doing it :(

If you want to check out more of Jason's stuff, you can find it here:

Girya Nation

Stay strong