Friday, January 22, 2016

Your Chance to Help Me...Free Candy

Happy Friday all, thanks for taking the time to check this post out. Alright first off, candidly I have no free candy to give out, sorry. The good news is today any of you that have taken a second or two to check out my blog in the past few years, you can be heard...sort of.

I've taken 10 of my top posts from my years writing here and put them in a poll. Some based on material and response, some based on simple number of views.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to just pick your favorite from the list. Real easy right? Hell yeah it's easy, so have a look at the choices and pick your favorite.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

New Year....New Program??

Happy belated NewYear to one and all. Well we are about half way through our firs month of 2016, for those of you that are looking to get more awesome this year I've got a little gift for you. Below is a link to a free program complete with pre-workout drills and conditioning.

Please note make sure you have clearance to exercise from a physician and are healthy enough for exercise before starting this. At any point and time, if there is PAIN, please stop and consult a medical professional.

I welcome any questions from anyone so please feel free to get ahold of me here at There's no bad questions and this is your chance to get expert advice so take advantage of it.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Woman Said it Hurt to Squat...So We Squatted

I credit the idea for this post to my good buddy and mentor Mike Anderson. This one is about the value of trust and just getting the basics right.

One of my Strength Campers, as I call them, has always had an issue with her knees, to the point where she didn't like squatting, no matter the benefits. She wears knee sleeves/braces almost every class to keep the issues and pain to a minimum with exercises such as. She's been coming to classes at the facility, mine especially, for a couple years. Various other trainers, most of which are friends and are probably better than me, have tried to help, none have quite found a way to be successful. For me, the only chance I've really gotten to help her is at class. Trying to help her in the middle of a group of 6+ people is more than a challenge, for many reasons that are obvious.

About a month ago my facility was doing a training promotion and she asked me if I had time for her. Without getting too excited I found a spot for her in my schedule. My first thought was, YES some time I can focus on her solely so I can help her knees stop hating her.

She came in the next week, we did a little Q and A to discuss things she wanted, other than the obvious knee pain to stop barking at her. Next thing I did was go through my usual movement screen. I saved the squat portion until the end because I knew I was going to beat that horse dead and start burying it. She was obviously hesitant when we got to that portion.

We progressed, or in this case regressed her, to as far back as I needed to go in my regressions to get her comfortable with the idea of squatting. Passively squatting was not an issue so at least we didn't have to start too far back. We landed on just a simple squat to a bench. We used really easy things to focus on, positioning, initial movement/patterning and weight distribution. After a little glute and core activation we were doing a goblet squat to the bench. Progress was made in that alone.

What was the end result of this session? 

After she did some drills I gave her over the next couple weeks. She came to class this past week and the first thing that caught my eye, no knee sleeves, sweet! Front squats were on the docket for the day so was anxious to see how she did. 

To end the was a million times better. Ok she didn't go to COMPLETE depth, she's still a little gun shy. If you've ever had a mental block like this you know baby steps are big steps to moving forward. That all said, I'll call what I saw a big leap forward.

There were 2 things that played into her getting over this hump, and really to a pro it's not a mystery. First and foremost is trust, no trust means anything you're spitting, goes in 1 ear and out the other. There's usually an initial level of trust with a client that walks into a session with you, building it and maintaining it is on the coach/trainer. I can be THE smartest coach on the planet, but if my clients don't trust me I will make less than 0 progress with them.

As I mentioned, this person has worked with many a trainer/coach before me and all of them were as good or better than me. Yeah trust was probably the big factor and maybe she wasn't actually ready to accept the help. Sometimes the 6 inches between your head is the issue, not a knee, or a shoulder or a foot. As I eluded to before, I'm willing to wager a big chunk of her pain with squatting, was in her head. It's not unusual for something like that to occur, trusting someone is a huge factor in this case.

The other thing that really made this session a success was we kept the exercise(s) very Vanilla, no not even French Vanilla, Vanilla! Vanilla isn't that bad, in terms of ice cream....mmmm ice cream (sorry)....and also in terms of exercising. Some people just need simple basics, especially when there is pain involved. Even those without pain need to get the basics right before you start going off and doing all these ridiculous looking exercises. Per example, if you can not get the basics to a trap bar deadlift right, I'd strongly advise against you jumping to deficit deadlifts, because that makes sense right?

The moral of this story here is, I didn't do anything super secret to help this nice lady. I gained her trust and made sure that she was getting the basics of squatting right. Outside of those things, soft tissue and activation work isn't brain surgery. Don't over do it when the simplest things will win the day for you folks.

That's all I got today guys. Once again I hope I helped even one person, I'll call it a win if so. Go out there and get after it!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Consistency: A Big Key in Achieving Results

Many have gone through that phase in their training or anything else really, that takes work. You know the phase I'm talking about too; you are so excited and are going to be all about reaching this goal. You buy a gym membership, lock it in for a year, or better yet hire a trainer/coach, to help you get to that next size down in your wardrobe. You go to the grocery store and get all the right foods. When you get home you set out your schedule and plan to go 5-7 days a week for the remainder of eternity.

This is more or less what Dan John refers to as the Bus Bench mentality where you are expecting goals by a certain time. This is a great mentality to have...probably twice a year, when everyone else has them. It's perfectly fine to do it, I did it for a month doing a low carb diet approach to cut my body fat down before rugby season. Even when everyone else is doing it you don't have to try to be too cool for school and not take this approach. The problem is if you're gun ho for longer than 3-4 weeks, you WILL burn out and lose the drive. It's just facts and no I don't have any research off hand to prove this to you beyond just telling you. The only evidence I have is that I've seen it and experienced it.

My most recent experience with this is via a client that's been training with me since May. In reality this isn't too long, but 5-6 months is long enough that some changes should be noticed. Some have occurred (135x3 for a back squat's not bad for a novice trainee), but she feels that maybe there should be just a bit more changing. This is where most good coaches and trainers should start to dig into the problem, slowly and methodically.

I started my digging, at first she put up a decent wall and either avoided the questions or gave a nothing answer. I decided to let it be because she didn't show many signs of changing her answers or desire to cooperate, and I didn't want to upset her.  Five or ten minutes later I asked her a general how are you feeling questions and the epiphany came to her, which she promptly told me. She told me in not so many words that she had been inconsistent with everything outside our sessions. She made it clear that there were times she was on top of things and very on point, other times very much not so. To make the jump to be more consistent we established one new habit for her to start with that will improve her consistency, especially with her diet.

This is the part where I get to the lesson I wanted to convey. There are very few people that can sustain the 100% record of being on point, never wavering from sessions and keeping their diet clean, cold turkey. You have to build one little thing on top of the other, start with little things, like the habit my client and I talked about, and once those have become easy to maintain start working the next little thing. The level of retention with an approach like this will be a gazillion times better than going, pardon my french, balls out for 4 weeks. Probably a solid, unscientific, 90% of the time going with the blitzkrieg method ends up sending you back to the old ways for another 4 weeks or more because it just simply isn't sustainable for a normal human.

This constant back and forth or up and down that can occur will cause what some have termed, the rebound effect. Most have heard of a weight lost show with SHE who shall not be named. I encourage you to do some digging on this show, specifically the participants. You'll find out that a super high amount of the participants in this balls out boot camp they're put through have put the weight they lost back on, some even MORE. To the ones that manage to keep it off after that, I applaud you and will say that you are the rare, lucky few that managed it. The case and point here is even shows that have the best professionals (term used very loosely here) can't keep their participants healthy for a long extended period of time with this gun ho approach.

Sorry Bears fans....I know the truth hurts

For those that don't have the type of will and luck to stave off the rebound, but still want the help, it is possible and there is hope. First off find a knowledgable trainer or coach, preferably not someone with an internet/weekend certification (reference one of my posts here about smelling the BS or several articles written by the likes of Mike Robertson and Tony Gentilcore about figuring who the good ones are). Once you've found your new best friend for the near future, maybe you're lucky enough and you're new friend has a certification like Precision Nutrition, JACKPOT. No panic needed if that's not the case, most guys and gals worth their salt with have someone that they can recommend so you can up your nutrition game. Once you have put all the right ingredients in place, in the words of master Yoda, patience you must have my young padawan, things will not happen in an instant. After 4 weeks if you don't feel different, at the very least, something's off and you need to communicate this with your experts.

So let's recap everything that we just hit on here:
  • "Bus Bench" approaches are ok, everyone so often (6 months give or take)
  • Consistency will win the day
  • Changes will not occur over night
  • The Chicago Bears are pretty terrible
That's all I got today guys, go out there and get after it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My Evolution of Boot Camp to Strength Camp

It's a class most people are attracted to because it's usually intense and tough and it leaves you sweaty and beat. This makes those that aren't in the know think that it's THE best class out there for them. My thought is, and I know I'm not alone, that just because something makes you tired and sweaty doesn't mean it's going to be the best thing for you. The class is usually called Boot Camp, there's also been many other names you've probably seen, Muscle Blast, Muscle Shred, High Intensity Eliminator, Juiced Up Roid Rage Muscle Building and so on.

I currently teach a class at the facility on Friday at 6 AM for an hour that was named as a Boot Camp, and I love teaching it, but it has underwent a ton of changes since I got my hands on it and here is what it was and what it has turned into.

I inherited this particular class from a friend and colleague when she left here to pursue her next adventure. My first time with this class was a bit of an adventure, I made the mistake of not really putting together any sort of schedule or list of exercises I wanted to do that day, BIG mistake, not my last either. My first couple months working with this class mainly consisted of a dynamic warm-up, then varying amounts of stations that I would do for varying times, really turned into a more cardio based thing than anything. None of this is so bad because at the very least I wasn't hurting anyone, but I also wasn't give the attendees really anything that was worth them getting up for 6 AM. I thought to myself, I hate this circuit high intensity crap, why am I making anyone else do it for almost 60 minutes? I knew I was way smarter than this and I was really good at getting people strong. There had to be a better format.

I began to take notice that the free weight area of the gym was fairly empty at 6 AM on Friday's (shocking right?), so I started to figure out some better things to do with the workout, and I also started a crawl series once I learned the value of them (tired and sweaty anyone?). I would bring the class over to the free weight area and show them 3 exercises to go through and then let them go and coach them. We'd do a 2nd set of 3 exercises and if we had time do some cardio/conditioning at the end. I soon discovered the next set of problems. I found people couldn't remember the exercises I gave them verbally, I didn't feel like the grouping of the exercise was well balanced and the end of the workout was pretty much the same thing all the time, some variation of sled work.

Finally in the last 6 months to a year I feel like I've reached the point where it's balanced, effective, fun and I feel like those that show up get everything they deserve for getting their butts here for 6 AM, especially when it is the dead of winter (I know sorry for the painful reminder). I've invested in a pack of dry erase markers to write on the mirrors so no one is asking what the exercise is, assuming they don't need me to coach them on it, which I'm glad to do when the opportunity rises. I bought myself a notebook so I can plan out in advance at least 3-4 weeks of the class so I can make sure I'm not training the same movement more than needs to be.

Interested in what the class format looks like? Well I'm glad you've stuck around this long because I'd rather share and hope it helps someone not make the same mistakes I did.

Part 1 (Usually takes about 15 minutes)
  • Dynamic Warm-Up
  • Crawl Series-Usually consist of about 6 or so crawls
  • Band Walks-Either "Monster Walk" or "Shuffle"
Part 2 (Lift Prep)
  • Breathing-1 set of whatever breathing exercise I deem appropriate that day
  • CNS Activation -Either a jump variation or a MB toss/slam variation
  • Any additional mobility/warm-up I may see fit for the workout that day
Part 3 (A Block)
  • Big money multi-join lift-grab a bar and lift some heavy stuff
  • Either glute or scapular activation-whichever is more related to the lift that day
  • Core work-most every lift we perform requires a little extra attention with this
Part 4 (B Block)
  • Accessory work-usually single arm or single leg work is the first one of this group
  • Either another core exercise or maybe an upper body exercise if the A Block exercise was a lower exercise and vise versa
  • Sometimes there will be only 2, but if there is a 3rd you bet your mortgage it will be a carry variation. If there's no carry here then it will make a showing in the final part.

Part 5 (Finisher)
  • Probably the area I've made the most progress in, I'll mix this up every week. I've done density work here, I've done some circuit work, tabatas, bike sprints, carries and so on. It's also something I put in my notebook so I don't repeat the same 3 things over and over.
All in all I'd say the class has been effective, the cherry on the icing is that we changed the name last year to, you guessed it, Strength Camp. Seriously now, who wouldn't want to get their butt up before 6 AM to come hang out with this guy at a Strength Camp? Seriously it's a great class so if you're in the area shoot me a message and I'll arrange it so you can come in and give it a shot, provided you're game for a 6 AM gym session.

That's it for today everyone, until next time, go out there and get after it!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

I Done Gone Messed Up

It's amazing how a few years can change you. No one thinks about how long that actually is when you're in your 20's and how much change can occur in that period compared to say when you're in your 60's. Yeah I know I'm still a pup, or so I've been told. I've still gone to a new level of understanding that I'm not sure some people reach in this field, maybe ever. The unfortunate part of this is, I already thought I was at this high level a couple of years ago and I was quite wrong...quite. It's taken me that couple of years to understand, I mean REALLY understand that I need to push myself to be a high level, which I'm not yet, not to mention you have to stay hungry and keep that fire lit. Once you think you get it, you get yourself slapped across the face with a couple of heavy doses of reality that feel like a frying pan swung by Big Papi.

Of course there are many more mistakes to be made and learned from than just this simple assumption when you are first training. I think it is worth noting the places I screwed up and the things I've gotten wrong, both in my thoughts I've posted here and things I've said in person. Who wants to have some fun and poke at Jarrod for a second? Ok let's go

  • My first 2 posts here and here. I'm not really sure why the guy couldn't put his elbows together, but I'm pretty sure my logic was off a bit and I'm still not 1000% sold on specified corrective exercises as opposed to good movement in basic exercises.
  • This one I'm not even sure any of those video clips are good examples except for maybe the last one. My shoe game was pretty atrocious at this point too.
    • First post that had a video in the new place, umm yeah, what the hell Jarrod?
    • So people don't think I'm just going after my obvious old self, I'll nitpick this one here. The bell should probably be at chest height at it's HIGHEST, but only IF your lats are tight enough. Are the ALL CAPS points getting to you yet?
    • Finally I'll call myself out on this, I posted the last couple times about not trying to make the seminar you're attending the last one you'll ever have to. I use to do that with books and videos when I was in school and started learning about it. I use to think whatever book or video I just read/watched was how it should be done to the letter. Boy was I wrong about that, but the good news is I wised up.

    Now that you've all heard me say, I was wrong, you can have a laugh and give me a little shit when you see or talk to me next. Possibly even you think there's other things you want to be so kind to point out that I screwed up on...awesome let's talk! That's the end of it today folks hopefully I've given you something to do while you're cooped up at work on this nice Thursday. Go out there and get after it!

    Thursday, July 23, 2015

    Providence Take II

    Second time around isn't always AS good as the first, usually it's a little better or a little worse. In regards to the Perform Better Summit held in Providence (also 2 other locations) for me it was better than the first. This past weekend I got a great chance to see some of the best in the business speak and mingle with them a bit. Those of you that haven't been to one yet and are in this business then get your butt to one, they have a solid lineup every year for all 3 locations (others are Chicago and Long Beach). It's 3 days of the best there is out there, I'm even considering making the trek to one of the others next year.

    A couple things I did this year as opposed to last. I did some switching up with some of the sessions I attended. Last year I went to everything I wanted to go to, whether it was a topic or one of the presenters. This year I made myself go to some sessions I needed to go to. I know I have holes in my game and there's even some stuff I'm skeptical of so I try address those this year when I went. Luckily I had a partner in crime this year, my colleague Steve, so if I felt like I missed something in the session I wanted to go to, I knew it's one he was probably going to attend so I could trade notes with him.

    I managed to make myself go to the final day Sunday this year even, maybe next year I'll make it to the Thursday sessions and get the full experience. Sunday is reserved for the "rookies" as Charlie Weingroff called them, I would certainly say you can peel the rookie label right off the 3 people I saw. I'm proud to say that one of them I enjoyed the great sport of rugby with once upon a time. Topics included Postural Restoration, teaching women how to love the iron and the value of getting off the elliptical, and the ins and outs of the Paleo diet. PRI is something that's way over my head that could have a little value in learning a thing or two about. Much of my clientele is women and half the battle is teaching them that a weight heavier than the pink dumbbell won't make you look like Arnold, plenty to bed learned about that. Finally diet and nutrition alone are some things I feel a ton of people struggle with, that said something like the Paleo diet makes for an interesting topic as a general discussion, so when someone as smart as Brian St. Pierre from Precision Nutrition is presenting, I was excited to pull up a seat and listen to old Sainty on this one.

    Finally a word to the wise, when you attending one of these summits, don't throw out the baby with the bath water. I have seen it with every one of these types of things that I attend, people want to just completely throw out their system and do everything exactly like one of the coaches at these. Now if your system or programming is that bad that you want to make that large of an overhaul to it, my first reaction is what the heck were you using it for in the first place? 2nd thought, more importantly, is good for you for recognizing it's not working. For those that have a system that works don't just completely overhaul everything you're doing, just make some tweaks. Paraphrasing from Ron Hruska via Mike Boyle, take the system you love and believe in and simply make it better.

    That is all I have today guys, go out there and get after it.