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By Consummate Athlete Member, Jacqueline:
I was asked to write an article for The Strength Shop. I have been an active participant in The Strength Shop and The Consummate Athlete since their conception but I have always been behind the scenes. I never felt like I was good enough to have anything useful to offer to the readers. This is because I am not a trainer, I am not an athlete, I am just your average 43 year old woman. I do not have a background in sports or nutrition. I started working out in college, and I really use that term loosely, as I never had any follow through. I would hire a trainer and show up for my sessions. We would do the basic body building stuff, curls, smith machine squats, and other various machines. I never got any results, and I never continued.
I again took a stab at the working out thing in my early 30's. Again I hired a trainer. I actually joined a one to one personal training gym, that were all the rage in early 2000. Let me tell you, my first workout, I did many (I don't recall the exact number) of chair squats. This means I sat down in a chair and stood up repeatedly. I don't remember what the rest of my workout entailed but I remember leaving the gym with my legs feeling wobbly and weak. I was not worried, I mean it wasn't like I was some overweight couch potato who had NEVER been in a gym. I was working at a horse farm and had been riding and showing horses since age five. Anyway, I left the gym with my wobbly legs, got in my car and drove home which was less then mile (ha, in hindsight that sounds funny that I didn't just walk). Never the less, I was feeling pretty good, until, the next day. I understand it is normal to be sore after a workout and there are different degrees of soreness. I am not a wimp mind you, but I was SORE. Then as the day progressed I was not just SORE, I was in PAIN. I mean a lot of pain. I felt silly. I remember crying I was in so much pain, but felt like I was being very wimpy. So I would mask my tears with fake laughter. As the night progressed, I was finding it more and more difficult to move, I could barely get into bed that was how sore my thighs were. I remember looking in the mirror thinking, "Is it normal for my thighs to be swollen?" I wasn't sure if I was just being a drama queen (I may have been called this once or twice) or something was not right. I went to bed.
Now, as luck would have it my father happens to be a physician, specifically a nephrologist (kidney doctor). In the morning, my dad asked me, "How are you doing?" I said, "Not great , it really really hurts, and I think my thighs are swollen." I am sure immediately he was thinking drama queen! Being my dad, he says, "Okay, why don't you come over and go in the hot tub." That actually sounded like music to my ears. Except for the part where I actually had to move, get dressed, and drive, but we do what we have to. So I got up, I used the bath room, and I noticed something looked a little different. I am not sure what the exact color of this text is, but does it look like a deep brown, almost like dark blood?" Well, that is what I want it to look like, because that is EXACTLY what the color of my urine was. Now at the time I didn't even think twice that this was related, how could it be? I got to my dad's and into the hot tub, I started to feel a tad better. Then I very nonchalantly asked my dad, "What would cause me to have blood in my urine?" My dad replied, "I have no idea what are you talking about?" I explained to him, "Well, when I went to the bath room this morning, my urine looked like really dark brown blood." So, I did what any good daughter would do I went and grabbed a dixie cup and peed in it. He took one look and pretty much blew a gasket. Yep, he became extremely upset.
Apparently, I was not being a drama queen at all, but I had so much muscle breakdown that it was spilling over into my kidneys causing toxicity. This apparently is called rhabdo or something, and can put you straight into kidney failure. As this is my dads specialty, you can imagine he was less then thrilled. Actually, he became very upset with me and the trainers at the training facility letting such a thing happen. In the end I was fine, I had to consume a ton of water, and I did heal right up. Anyway, the reason I am starting off with this story, is because I want to make it clear where I started on my journey to where I am now. I was NOT overweight, and I would NOT ever consider myself inactive (remember I was working at a horse farm) but I was NOT use to working out, and this happened to me without putting any weight on my back. I was doing repetitive chair squats (from what I recall). The moral, be educated, start slow, and do not be try to be superman or superwoman! So I continued to work out, for probably a year or two. I would do a lot of cardio and your typically body building machines ect. I never really worried about strength or function, for me, at this time, it was "the thinner the better." I would go to the gym in the morning and do cardio, then go back and train for half hour with coach ( I use this word loosely, as I am much more knowledgeable now). Eventually, I burned out, it was too much and started to consume my life, and I stopped working out all together. I didn't see the inside of the gym for approximately two years.
So what got me back to the gym? Here is what really did it; I was at a party, and my ex-boyfriend was there with his new HOT girlfriend who just happened to be a personal trainer, ARGGGHHHH. Can you say jealous? At this time, I was probably 35. Now again I was not overweight, I just knew I could be more fit. I went home that night and vowed, I am going to get my ass back to the gym and get in shape. At that moment it was all about my ex being with some new hot personal trainer chic. It had nothing to do with my health or anything like that. I am being honest, we have all done stupid things like this before, and sometimes even if our reasons are not the best reasons for doing something in the end it all works out. So the next day, I signed up for personal training at a local gym. I started doing the same old body building crap. I had a different, but equally crappy trainer, who knew nothing. My training sessions basically consisted of me doing a few sets of squats for 3 reps of 135 lbs. WHY? Honestly, my trainer thought it was cool that I could squat 135lbs. It had nothing to do with me, my health, or my performance. It was more about him showing off to whoever was standing next to him that his female client was squatting 135. (I was not in any sort of muscle gym obviously).
Squatting 135 at that time for 3-5 reps was really actually very hard for me, and it was really hard for me to do every time I showed up for training. There was never a break from it. We never focused on any assistance exercises. We did not focus on anything except my trainer tooting his own horn to whoever would listen. Which is so strange because he had nothing to do with my ability. He taught me nothing. He was bragging while I was doing all the work. Anyway the rest of our exercises consisted of some machine work, and even some new exercises on machines that he "invented." YES!, you heard me, he INVENTED! There were many new uses for a leg press machine. He invented how when you sit backwards in it and try to push weight you basically can snap your ankle in two. That is when I went straight to the manager and said, "Your trainer is a nut job and is going to kill someone, meaning mainly ME." I explained to the manager, "My trainer has no clue what he is doing, he is making up some crazy ass exercises on the machines that are not intended to be used that way." So the manager says to me, "I will take care of it, we have a new trainer who just moved down from New Jersey, I think you will like him." I said, "Fine, nothing can be worse then what I am dealing with." This is how I found a whole new world of training. Something, that I look forward to doing, something that gives me purpose, something that empowers me. I think they call it training for function and purpose! :)
So my very first session with my new trainer Kevin, exposed me to doing things like standing on one leg, holding a dumbbell, attempting to do a dumbbell snatch, (and I say attempting because it literally took me 3 months before I even came close to getting it). It just progressed from there to: flipping tires, hitting tires with sledgehammers (one of my favs btw), working on balance, working on agility (I have none), and lifing weights for strength and power. It became about me working on performance and my whole body working as one unit. I fell in love. I FELL IN LOVE! Then I learned how to clean dumbbells, then progressed to cleaning and snatching a barbell. I was not brilliant at it, I am still not brilliant at it, but I love it, and I want to work at it. I literally would go to bed thinking and dreaming about it. I bought weightlifting shoes, then I bought my own equipment. I would literally carry my equipment; bars and bumpers to the gym or to a park. I did not care I just wanted to lift. It sounds like bringing sand to the beach when you walk in to a gym with your own bar and plates, but they didn't have appropriate equipment and I did what I needed to do. I could not wait to get my hands on the barbell. Then practicing squatting and dead lifting all had a purpose. I also was exposed to kettlbells and just so many different variations of some many different things, it was like being in a candy store. I am no muscle woman, I am 43 years old and 5'3". My point is anyone can do this, you don't have to be perfect you just have to enjoy the ride.
So this all happened about 6-7 years ago; when I was exposed to this whole new world of training (yes it was before almost anyone had even heard of Crossfit) and I have NOT taken a break for more than a week or stopped training since. I do not intend to! I will be 70 years old still lifting, I assure you. I may not be setting any ground breaking records but for me I am making progress. There have been peaks and valleys, and yes there are times my motivation is tested. But in the end, there is nothing more empowering, even at 43, then using and pushing my body to be useful and powerful. So with that being said, right now I am working on a super squat program. I started this 4 weeks ago. Supersquats basically is doing a set of squats for 20 reps. Seems easy enough right? There is a huge, HUGE, did I say HUGE difference in doing 3-5 reps vs 20 reps. 20 reps will bring tears to your eyes, lungs and legs :) When I was around 36 years old, I completed one set of 20 rep squats at 135lbs, and I thought I was going to die. DIE I TELL YOU, and I never attempted or did it again, until a few weeks ago. So lets start from the beginning. The first week of my super squat program I did 20 reps at 125lbs. It did not seem so bad during the set, but once I stopped, after that last rep… OMG I was hurting. I could barely finish the remainder of the workout. For the next three days I was sore, sore, sore, but on the third say I managed to jump up to 130 lbs and finish 20 reps. The next day I was sore, but not nearly as sore.
I was squatting on Mondays and Thursdays going up 5 lbs each time (for the first two weeks) So the next week on Monday, I did 135 x 20. It was hard, I was thinking how am I ever going to be able to do more weight; when I am now 43 and I could barely do it when I was 35. Thursday, came around, and I was suppose to do 140 x 20. I was stressing, literally for days before my workout. I was stressing out, because I knew how hard it is going to be. It was going to be approximately 2 minutes of agony. It is funny how your mind does that to you. It really is just two minutes of really hard work, but all day while I was at work my mind would come up with every and any excuse of, why I CAN'T do it today, why I CANT make it to the gym today. It is normal, you have to tell that voice to go fuck itself! That is all I can say, you just have to get to the gym and start. That is the hardest part. So I would tell my mind to shut the fuck up and I would get myself to the gym. I would tell myself just put the bar on your back and START. BOOM 140x20 SAY WHAT? Then, the next words out of my mouth would be, "I will never get 145, there is no way, I can't do, that was it, I am happy with 140." You must again tell that voice to put a muzzle on it. The following week I went to the gym on Monday, 145 x20 What? Are you kidding me? Okay so 145 is my limit, I am ecstatic. The voice starts in again, "you can't go any higher, you should be good with that. 145 isn't too shabby, yadda yadda yadda."
After my triumph at 145, we then moved on to the next exercise which is 20 rep stiff legged deadlift. I decided I am going up 10 lbs from, the previous week to 135. I got a little stupid here. Let me back up and say, I rarely if ever get injured. The reason I don't get injured is because I focus on technique, sometimes a little too much, and I do progressions. I do not have any back pain nor have I ever had back pain. So, I started doing my set, I was using bumpers, I was tired, I was thinking I am bad ass because I just did 145 lbs squat for 20 reps. I wanted to blow through the stiff legged dead lifts. I wanted them over with! I forgot, or didn't care about the integrity of the movement, I started banging the bumpers off the ground. I started becoming less controlled (though I was moving swiftly) I hit rep 13. I felt it, my lumbar region started screaming. I am not a quitter (aka I am stupid) I have 7 reps left, I persist. I finished, but at what cost, I knew I did something bad, I knew I was in trouble. I could not finish the work out. We had to stop, I stretched, and I left the gym. I was feeling sore but not immobilized. I went to grocery store, I came home walked my dog, I cooked dinner, I sat down and ate dinner, and then I tried to get up. Did you read that correctly I TRIED TO GET UP. I could NOT move! I did NOT know how to get off the couch to get to the phone, to call my dad to come get me to take me to the ER. I was crying, one because I was in PAIN, two because I was scared, and three I was so mad at myself for letting pride get the better of me. In any event, I crawled to the phone called my dad screaming that I jacked my back up (side note: my dad has a really bad back and is post 3 back surgeries before having surgeries on your back was ever even advised, so back issues are taken seriously around here). Luckily, I did not jack my back up at all, I pulled/strained it pretty good. It was pissy at me for several days, the spasms would bring me to my knees, I would have to walk like I had a stick up my butt. So I ate right, hydrated, stretched, iced, rested, and I popped Aleve (lots of Aleve).
This happened on Monday, the following Monday, exactly ONE week later, I was back in the gym for my super squats and I banged out 20 reps at 150 lbs and my back didn't even twinge. I say this, because I believe that all my efforts in the gym, is why in a weeks time I could recover and be back at it, not just back at it but up 5 lbs. The other moral is don't ever bang/bounce your weights on stiff legged dead lifts and ALWAYS keep them controlled.
Okay so 150 for 20 reps is completed. It was hard, IT WAS HARD. Again that voice in my head immediately started telling me, "I am done that is my max, just be happy, you can't work any harder then that, ect." I am telling you on the Saturday before the next Monday workout, I was already coming up with the excuses and worrying about Monday's squat session. It really is a mental game as much as physical one, ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT. Monday arrived, I was stressing about squatting all day, I just kept telling myself, get the bar on your back and start, then you can see if you can do it or not. I got to the gym, put 155 on the bar and started, It took me over 3 minutes 30 secs (yes that is long) to complete, but I did not re-rack that bar, and I hit every single rep with integrity. Trust me, I wanted to rack the bar many times, my legs and lungs were screaming at me to rack the bar, but I had people rooting for me, I did one rep at a time, sometimes two :) sometimes I had to just catch my breath but I DID IT - 155 for 20 reps!
Lets recap I am 43 years old, 5'3", I weight around 120 lbs (not really sure I don't weight myself), I am not an athlete, I am not a trainer, I injured my back, but I persisted and made great progress. I started this article explaining how I almost put myself in kidney failure just by sitting down and standing up in a chair repetitively, but I recenlty just completed 155 lbs back squat for x 20 reps in 4 weeks. Now, I start 5x5 and am excited to see what it brings. I'm sure you get this, but the squats are simply an analogy for anything you want to achieve. Set your mind, drown out the negativity, push forward.
Thanks for listening,
12 of the best recovery methods to enhance athletic performance METHOD 1:
Massage (Performance Enhancement) BENEFITS / PURPOSE:
Increased athletic performance by lengthening the propulsive musculature, even out the texture of the tissue, and passively activate the nervous system. Focuses on stretching and warming up the tendons and ligaments by increasing blood supply; and also helps to put athletes in a parasympathetic (calm/relaxed) state. PRE / POST WKT:
Before every high intensity workout. Massage frequency is
increased when workout frequency is increased (i.e. training camps, traveling). DURATION:
15-20 Minutes. NOTES:
Should be done 15-20 minutes before a workout. Pre-workout massage
will be a very light, slapping type massage (not deep-tissue) so the athlete will
feel fresh and awake.Read the full article at The Consummate Athlete
I recently got back on the horn with my good friend Chris Dillon
to discuss some special training considerations for women. This is a three part series and any questions and comments are encouraged and appreciated. In the first part, Chris reveals his favorite hair care products and best places to buy day old bagels in the tri state area.
In this second part, Chris discusses the need for plyometrics for paraplegics.
If I was a woman and could only do one exercise, it would be deadlifts
, but if I was a guy and could only do one exercise, it would be deadlifts
. See the what I did there? This is a good series and, as always, it was great to connect with Chris.
These were the words I got in a text a few weeks back from my good friend, Smitty, from Diesel Strength & Conditioning
. We were having a short conversation and he dropped a bomb on me about a pretty big opportunity that he thought would be a perfect fit for me. You hear these types of things often from people in your life, they make big promises but rarely deliver. I've known Smitty personally for a few years now and we even held a small seminar together at my place a while ago, as well as attended quite a few functions together over the years. Smitty is one of the few guys in my network that I truly listen to when he talks.
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He is sincere and is definitely a man of his word. While others are talking to get attention, Smitty is talking to help you out, give you information, and point you in the right direction. I've met so many people, especially in this on-line world, that always seem to have some sort of hidden agenda. In addition to being one of the most innovative and knowledgeable coaches in the strength & conditioning industry, Smitty is one of those dudes that isn't playing a game or plotting his next move when he talks to you. He is in the moment, he is passionate about what he does, and he knows that a man's word is to be respected. For that, I highly respect him and will always be grateful for his friendship and mentorship.
Let's back up a little bit. A few years ago I moved away from my friends and family to Virginia Beach, in search of more opportunity. I moved in with a friend and took a few odd jobs to get by. I had big aspirations to be successful, I had a college degree, I had drive, and I had personality. But, I also had a knack for finding passion at the bottom of a bottle. I was 24, I lived a block from the ocean, I loved to train and I loved to party, there was always something to do, but little money to do it with. I sold cars, I sold time shares, I cleaned carpets, I waited tables, and eventually started personal training at a local fitness club. Like many personal trainers out there, I woke up early to train a few clients in the morning, a few more in the afternoon, then would cut out to get to the restaurant to wait tables at night because my training job wasn't cutting it. After a long night of slinging steaks and drinks in a busy oceanfront restaurant,
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what's a guy to do but chase some tail around for a few hours and blow all his money buying a few rounds for some people that don't even know his name? Besides, nothing screams professional like bloodshot eyes, wrinkled clothes, and beer breath. I'm still not sure why I wasn't more successful as a trainer back then. These rich chicks didn't even have a clue that I was an All-American running back at a Division 3 college. Hell, I even scored 5 touchdowns in a single game. I was awesome, and someone needed to pay.
Lets back it up a little bit. I started training and lifting weights to get better at sports when I was in eighth grade. Back then I only cared about ONE thing - Football! And wrestling, I loved wrestling, and and a few other sports, and budding boobies, and... My mom would pick my brother and me up after school and drive us to the local high school where we would attend the following year. The football coach at the time let us train there even though we didn't go to that school because my brother was a senior and he played for the team. Coach knew we were going to play for him next year so he allowed us to get a jump on our strength and train with the guys. I was clueless at the time, but I followed the other guys and copied what they did. I still remember our basic training plan. It was simple and those that followed it all got stronger. We did upper body twice a week and lower body twice a week, and we always trained our arms!
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For 2 weeks we would perform sets of 10-12 reps, then 2 weeks of 6-8 reps, then 2 weeks of 3-5 reps, always trying to use as much weight as possible to get the required reps. The next 6 weeks we would simply try to beat our numbers from the previous cycle. It was too simple, it couldn't possibly work.
Form wasn't perfect, and coach let us do what we wanted for the most part, but they gave us some basic exercises to follow. Unless some serious dicking off was going on, he would just sit at his desk and read his newspaper. We had to maintain our training charts and turn them in weekly. Obviously some of them were botched by the kids that wanted to appear stronger, but those that wanted to be strong, were honest and accurate about their numbers. The results showed on the field as the truth always comes out eventually. I loved seeing the kids whose journals indicated a bench press of 225x12 getting crushed by 185 on testing day. You can imagine the clever excuses they would conjure up when their performance sucked balls compared to their journal numbers. My numbers were never great, but they were always honest and they were always a little bit better every month.
Moving forward. Living in Virginia Beach in my mid twenties I was a resourceful character. Much like a cockroach, I lived and slept in many different places, ate cheap leftovers, and entertained (annoyed) many people with my unpredictability. I realized I was spinning my wheels and unless I got serious I was never going to move forward in my new personal training career. I had taken the college courses, I got a few certifications to expand my credentials, but those books never opened themselves up and spoke to me, they never told me what to do to be successful, and they were all loaded with the same basic stuff regurgitated from another resource. Why didn't everybody in my town want to give me cash to show them how to get strong and awesome?
Didn't they know I was Dope as Fuck? Time kept moving and nothing was changing. I started researching new material and reading books to learn new training methods and taking courses to advance myself. In 2005 I found CrossFit and I was enamored with the crazy intense workouts I came across. I immediately jacked up the intensity of all my workouts as well as my clients. I started doing everything as fast as possible. I was a fanatic, I needed pukie t shirts, and I had to be a certified fast exerciser.
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A year or so later I finally bucked up and paid the grand to be a certified CrossFit Trainer. It was a great course that I remember being extremely impressed by at the time. It was motivating and the people were awesome. The best part about it was the community and all the people there were singing the same song, meaning we all had similar points of view and were looking for the same thing. The presenters were engaging and the atmosphere was intense, so much different from any other classroom based course I had previously taken. THere were quite a few people at that particular course that are running hugely popular gyms today. Too many to name really, mostly CrossFit affiliates, but even others that are running a different brand and still very successful. One of the guys I met there was Zach Even-Esh
and we have connected on several occasions since. About a year after that CrossFit cert I won a scholarship to Zach's own Underground Strength Coach Certification
. He occasionally holds inspirational contests to invite the most motivated young trainers to his certs because he remembers what his life was like when he was struggling early on in his career. Of all the courses, seminars, workshops and certifications I've attended over the years, I can say that the USC cert was hands down the single best course I've taken for my training career. Zach told me from the beginning, "I see your videos, they're nuts, I love what you do, it's like we share that same iron gene. You're going to be very familiar with the training that we do, but how is your business going?" That is where I faltered, that's where I needed help. Zach was different from the other guys in that he continued to help me and the other attendees with personal on going education and master mind groups, private information websites, etc. You can't possibly learn everything in a weekend, but when you invest in his course, you become a part of the family and you're treated as such. Over the following months and years I had continued to grow and learn more from Zach than anyone else I know. For that, I highly respect him and will always be grateful for his friendship and mentorship.
Now being part of the Underground family, I have met many people in Zach's network, which has become part of my network, and they are some of the most knowledgeable, friendly, passionate and helpful people you'll ever meet in your life. From Pauly, Uncle Mike, Smitty, Elliott, DC, Mandler, Isaac, Riess, Travis, Reed, Joe, House, The Renegade Jason Ferruggia
, and the list goes on and on, these guys have shared so much information with me and helped me grow as a coach and business owner, that I would never be in the situation that I am now had it not been for their friendship, experience and business acumen. My point is, surround yourself with like-minded, motivated people if you want to be successful. Oh yeah, grow up, stop acting like a kid, be professional with your business but never lose your child mind. Always strive to learn and grow better and stronger. Never be a know-it-all. Acknowledge your weak areas, know who to ask for help, make a plan and take action. Or better yet, fuck the plan, just go, fix it later.
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Back to the original point of this story. "I'm about to change your life forever," read the text from Smitty. He notified me that Joe DeFranco, one of the most sought after strength coaches on the planet, was helping the WWE in their search for a new strength coach to train their athletes. Upon his recommendation I entered my resume in to what seemed like an impossibly large hat at the local Bingo night in Jersey. Would you believe a few weeks later Joe emailed me and said that I was one of the finalists for the position. There were approximately 144 resumes submitted and 5 coaches were selected and flown to the armpit of America, I mean Dirty Jersey, to train with Joe and his athletes as a "hands-on" practical interview, and then the following day to meet with some representatives from the HR department of the WWE for a more formal interview.
I put on my thinking cap and I met those corporate cats in the lobby at the hotel. We went in to a conference room and chatted about the life and times of Matty Wichlinski for over an hour. It was one of those times that you do your best to prepare for and present yourself in the best possible way without coming across as a giant inflatable douchebag. I pretty much blacked out at this point and don't remember a damn thing
. All I know is that when I finally came back to, I got up to leave the interview room and I noticed my shirt was unbuttoned and my nipples were purple, there was a midget on a pony wearing a Batman mask in the corner, my hands were duct taped together behind my back, and there was sticky shit everywhere. I mumbled a few words as I was about to leave the room, then I shook their hands and thanked them as they informed me they would be contacting me in the near future.
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You see, I've trained and practiced and trained and practiced some more. This interview wasn't my first rodeo, every day I put myself under fire one way or another. I don't train for stress, I train to kick stress right in the jimmy. When you get put in stressful situations, your training and instinct takes over. How you prepare is how you will perform. I must have humped that midget AND that donkey right in their tiny little donkey butts. I kicked ass and took names. Five touchdowns in a single game, Muthafuckas.
Right after the interview I was off to the airport to head back home, contemplating the whole time if I said the right things, made enough eye contact, smiled enough, presented myself with honor and integrity... I made sure I sent my Thank You messages the following day and within a few days I got the call notifying me that I would proceed to the "Final Final" interview with Triple H. He is a big time wrestler, former World Champion, and is now a top dog in the WWE organization. He has been training with Joe DeFranco for a while now and put his trust in Joe to bring him the best candidates for the job. Last Thursday I drove to Orlando to meet Triple H and his partners for the interview and everything went well. They invited me to hang around for the evening while they taped a few shows for their overseas brand the NXT. It was tons of fun and every single one of the athletes and crew that walked by me said hello with a smile and shook my hand. Not one of them knew who I was or could potentially be to them, they were just fun and pleasant people, not to mention big, strong and sexy. And the Divas were nice too.
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After a few matches I cut out of there and drove home. The following day, last Friday, at 4:55 pm I got a phone call from one of the girls I met at the hotel two weeks prior. She notified me that everybody was impressed with me and that I represented myself well. I sat and waited the the big "BUT..." But, it never came, instead, the WWE offered me the position as the Strength & Conditioning Coach for their Talent Development Center in Orlando, Florida for One MILLION doll hairs a year! Just kidding, not about the job, I got that shit, but I won't be making a million doll hairs. Not yet, anyway. Needless to say, I am super excited to start this new journey and I expect it to be just as awesome as I can imagine. I really don't have much else to say about anything except I'll be moving to Orlando soon and working for the WWE. Pretty awesome. I am not writing this to brag or anything, I just wanted to share what was going on with me and the new direction of TSS. TSS will never die, we are just turning a corner... a sharp corner, on the edge of a mountain, in a Ferrari.
Wrapping this little story up, I know I missed a lot of key points but it was already getting way too long, I just want to make a few things clear. I've been training myself and other athletes for several years now. There's many other coaches that have read more books than I've read, taken more courses than I have, pulled bigger weights than I have, and know more about muscle spindle fibers and sarcoplasm than I do. But I truly believe that nobody is more passionate or better suited for this particular opportunity. Nobody is better suited to show these athletes how to run faster, jump higher, lift bigger and get more jacked than me. This is my calling, this is my dream job, I finally found it. I would not have been in this position if it wasn't for a few things. If I didn't study and train everyday, my game wouldn't be on point and I would have never been recommended for the position. If I didn't surround myself with an amazing family, my network and support system would have been weak. I'm forever indebted to Zach Even-Esh and the Underground Strength Coach family
, and to Smitty
for putting his word on the line and recommending me for the position. If it wasn't for Smitty, this would not be happening right now, I know that. I'll never forget that text, "I'm about to change your life forever." Thank you, brother. I know you don't expect anything in return, but I got you, man, I'm gonna make you proud. Thanks again, from the bottom of my heart.
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Thank you all for your support and listening to my story and I hope to chat with you all in the comments here or over on my Facebook page
. When we get to 50 comments right here on the blog I'm gonna start giving away some free strength and conditioning and nutrition programs
, because you guys are freakin awesome. Thank you.
When developing strength & athleticism, there are certain muscle groups that deserve more attention than others. Sure, we want to be strong top to bottom with no weak links, but not all muscles are created equal. The two groupings that usually need the most attention are the abs and the ass, guts and butts. The glutes are the largest single muscles in the body and, as the primary hip extensors, are the driving force behind nearly all athletic movements. Stronger glutes help you run faster, jump higher, hit harder, and on a side note, can improve your sexual performance. The glutes however, cannot function optimally if the pelvis isn't correctly positioned and stabilized, which is predominately controlled by the abs. Weak abs usually allow a prominent anterior pelvic tilt, while adequate ab strength and control will ensure that forces around the hip and lower spine are properly controlled and will allow for the glutes to do their job. Improper strength and control of the trunk muscles can also lead to back and knee pain or injuries. Similarly, weak and poor functioning glutes have been linked to low back pain.
Thus, getting these muscle groups working properly is of prime importance for health, fitness, sexual and athletic performance enhancement. Improving yourself physically isn't just about making time to get to the gym. It's about making it a part of your lifestyle. There are tons of things you can do at home, during quick breaks at work or in any time crunch that can improve your situation. If you're serious you'll make time, not excuses. Below is quick video of my favorite things to do anywhere, anytime, with no equipment, to strengthen, stabilize and mobilize your gut and glutes, which improves the functionality of your hips, which will make you more awesome.
Performing these exercises is a good idea, but don't forget the main point here is to strengthen and improve mobility and stability in the muscles around your hips. There are many ways to achieve this, this video is just the tip of the iceberg. Bodyweight Training is awesome
and can be performed almost anywhere with minimal equipment, but my biggest passion still lies in the iron. Feel free to share your favorite hip and ab strengthening and mobility drills below. Many others are sure to benefit from your knowledge. Also, NEW Consummate Athlete T-Shirts are available now. Click on any pic below to get yours today!
The man without self-reliance and an iron will is the plaything of chance, the puppet of his environment, the
slave of circumstances. Are not doubts the greatest of enemies? If you would succeed up to the limit of your
possibilities, must you not constantly hold to the belief that you are success-organized, and that you will be
successful, no matter what opposes? You are never to allow a shadow of doubt to enter your mind that the
Creator intended you to win in life's battle. Regard every suggestion that your life may be a failure, that you are
not made like those who succeed, and that success is not for you, as a traitor, and expel it from your mind as
you would a thief from your house.
Orison Sweat Marden
There is something sublime in the youth who possesses the spirit of boldness and fearlessness, who has proper confidence in his ability to do and dare. The world takes us at our own valuation. It believes in the man who believes in himself, but it has little use for the timid man, the one who is never certain of himself; who cannot rely on his own judgment, who craves advice from others, and is afraid to go ahead on his own account.
It is the man with a positive nature, the man who believes that he is equal to the emergency, who believes he can do the thing he attempts, who wins the confidence of his fellow-man. He is beloved because he is brave and self-sufficient.
Those who have accomplished great things in the world have been, as a rule, bold, aggressive, and self-confident.
They dared to step out from the crowd, and act in an original way. They were not afraid to be generals.
There is little room in this crowding, competing age for the timid, vacillating youth. He who would succeed today must not only be brave, but must also dare to take chances. He who waits for certainty never wins."The law of the soul is eternal endeavor, That bears the man onward and upward forever."
"A man can be too confiding in others, but never too confident in himself."
Never admit defeat or poverty. Stoutly assert your divine right to hold your head up and look the world in the
face; step bravely to the front whatever opposes, and the world will make way for you. No one will insist upon
your rights while you yourself doubt that you have any. Believe you were made for the place you fill. Put forth
your whole energies. Be awake, electrify yourself; go forth to the task.
A young man once said to his employer,
"Don't give me an easy job. I want to handle heavy boxes, shoulder great loads.
I would like to lift a big mountain and throw it into the sea,"-- and he stretched out two brawny arms, while his honest eyes danced and his whole being glowed with conscious strength. The world in its heart admires the stern, determined doer.
"The world turns aside to let any man pass who knows whither he is going."
"It is wonderful how even the apparent casualties of life seem to bow to a spirit that will not bow to them, and yield to assist a design, after having in vain attempted to frustrate it."
"The man who succeeds," says Prentice Mulford, "must always in mind or imagination live, move, think, and act as if he gained that success, or he never will gain it."
"We go forth," said Emerson, "austere, dedicated, believing in the iron links of Destiny, and will not turn on our
heels to save our lives. A book, a bust, or only the sound of a name shoots a spark through the nerves, and we
suddenly believe in will. We cannot hear of personal vigor of any kind, great power of performance
Some of my greatest inspiration comes from the wisdom of those powerful men of the past that had to endure more hardships on any given day than most of us living today deal with in a lifetime. Learn to live a stronger life, avoid the easy way out, choose to lift the bigger stone and walk the higher road. The Russian Lion
has many lessons I continue to learn from on a regular basis. Check out The Consummate Athlete for new training programs, insightful articles and tutorials to make you more awesome.
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I've been asked recently about accessory lifts and how to incorporate them in to your training. So, I took this question to the streets! And by the streets, I mean I texted my buddies and asked what they thought. Basically for me, I'll have to explain my basic training template first. Pretraining always consists of a general warm up, then some light stretching and mobility followed by a specific warm up. This takes about 15 minutes, at which point the athlete should be prepared for the primary work for the day which probably includes powerlifting, olympic lifting, strongman, kettlebell training or gymnastics
. After the main lift for the day, which is usually just one or two main movements like squats, cleans and deadlifts, or planches and levers
, the athlete then performs 2-4 accessory exercises that build their weakness. You must assess whether the weakness is a technical issue or a strength issue. If its a technical issue, the athlete will be well served by performing lot of volume with high frequency of the lift that is giving them problems, with submaximal weights. They simply will not get better without practice. Just make sure to keep the intensity a little lower to not blast them to death, train the technique. If it is a strength issue, a good idea is to use partial range of movement exercises like pin pulls for deads or board presses for bench. Brandon Lilly, one of the strongest lifters in the world and creator of the Cube Method, says its a good idea to train your main lifts like a powerlifter and your accessory lifts like a bodybuilder. You want to play the part AND look the part.
Mike Rojas, owner of Strong 101 Gym
in California, likes to alternate between bilateral and unilateral movements. He uses a lot of push up variations
to support his benching and a shit ton of rows. Clear it is, my friend.
Isaac Wilkins, Beyond the Barbell,
is pretty geeky about stuff, which is good because his training is not random. He is a fellow Underground Strength Coach and plans things well and knows how to make adjustments based on how many athletes are training and what available equipment they have, including other variables as well. What may be the perfect plan for one athlete in a fully equipped gym may not be possible for a group of athletes in a warehouse gym, especially if you lack equipment and space. In this case, bodyweight training
is ALWAYS a great option. Brian Doberdruk, from The Strength Lab in Wilmington, Ohio
, trains young athletes and focuses on injury prevention and unilateral movements while taking a bodybuilding style approach to his accessory lifts. Wise man. Mike House, owner of House Strength Camp in Houston, is a Kettlebell Champion and a strong dude, his response was in regard to kettlebell training in specific. Movements like the kettlebell snatch, long cycle, or biathlon re
quire a bit of skill and technique. After training those high skill movements it is a good idea to lower the skill level and train just heavy swings to improve the grip strength and condition the body. Heavy doubles are fantastic as well. I will add that one of the best KB accessory drills is training with a big glove, like an oven mitt, or soft cotton gloves that make it harder to grip the bell. After just a few minutes your grip will be on fire, trust me. Get Kettlebells HERE
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Pro bodybuilder, Jordan Renee
, pictured above, says to "train the fuck out of it" if she has a weak link. No geeky science or overly complicated bullshit, just a real response from someone who is getting insane results from her training. It was the best answer I've ever gotten on any question ever in life. I love her style and I would kill to be her thigh master. Just take a minute and let it all sink in, I'll wait. If you want a leaner body, the best accessory exercise you can do is exercise proper nutrition
James Smith, Diesel Strength & Conditioning
, keeps it simple and adds volume with heavy weights. I dig it. If the main exercise of the day was pressing, he says its a great idea to do lots of pulling for your accessory lifts to create balance of the musculature. No argument here. A little gun show and bodybuilding with bodyweight training
to feed the ego is great for anyone who doesn't want spaghetti hanging out of their sleeves, and also some games to build camaraderie is super swell. Tyson Bradley, owner of Altitude Athletics in Bozeman Montana, has a brilliant approach with his FIRE Method. He runs an athletic facility that utilizes a lot of Olympic Lifting. He uses a lot of light weights for accessory lifts to promote health and compliment the heavy weightlifting. Travis Stoetzel is a stallion of an athlete, a friend and coach in the Heart of America. He uses a classic WestSide approach and his conditioning and physique resembles Rocky at his finest when he busted up Ivan Drago in that paradise of Russia.
Travis uses a lot of variations to get strong & shredded
. Check out THIS ARTICLE for 20 of the BEST
bodyweight exercises that will boost your strength and physique.
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coach at The Underground Strength Gym in Edison, NJ, eliminates weak points and improves athletes movement patterns. John Gaglione
, a monster young coach and powerlifter in NY, has a background in strength and his philosophy shows. Board presses for benching, deficit deads for starting position pulling from the floor, and lots of reps fro the low back and triceps. Sounds delicious. For more training information, post questions and comments and check out The Consummate Athlete.
This has been a fun week of training as I'm getting deeper in to the Dirty 35 Project. I am currently in Cycle 2 of Phase 3. What the hell does that mean? Well, basically, Phase 1 was very simple, I did 2 very basic full body workouts, and alternated between them every training session and added about 4% weight every week and ran a linear progression until I hit a brick wall. That lasted about 5 weeks through a single cycle.
Then came Phase 2 where I broke up the training a bit to allow for more recovery between training sessions. Instead of a linear progression with the loads, I did a step loading process where I stay at the same weight a little longer before progressing to the next level. I also broke up the training with an upper/lower split. This Phase lasts about 8-10 weeks and is broken up into 2 cycles.
Finally, enter Phase 3. This Phase will last much longer and have many cycles. This is basically a "Conjugate System for Athletes" if you will. There is more need for recovery, the weights are getting heavier, there is much more dynamic work involved, and there is an equal balance of speed and strength with barbell and bodyweight elements. Each Phase is building off of the previous Phase. Too often I see the same lame bodyweight exercises being performed with no logical progression to increased complexity. It often comes down to doing more reps, faster. But the need for increased complexity is evident and thats what I am trying to do. This is not really a conditioning program, but you WILL get very conditioned with the amount of practice. This is a strength and skill program that focuses on gaining mastery of the basics and eventually moving closer and closer to refinement of advanced skills.
I may never master these skills, but I am being diligent and putting in the work every day. With the use of bodyweight training I can train more frequently without pain
, without having the burden of getting to the gym or needing more recovery. I am not trying to be an olympic gymnast or weightlifter, or join the circus, but I am enjoying the process of my training. I am not rushing things and I feel better than I have in years. The combination of strength, stability and power, using a mix of barbell, kettlebell and bodyweight training in an organized manner has had a profound effect on my training and body composition, with the help of a solid nutritional plan, of course.
I don't even pay any attention to my nutrition anymore, it is just second nature and things are falling into place and I always feel refreshed, loaded, and ready to train, with the added bonus of decreased bodyfat and showcase GunZ that make the ladies drool, Yo.
The Dirty 35 Project, and many other programs, are available at The Consummate Athlete.
My preferred nutrition plan for optimal strength, performance, recovery and body composition is Carb Back-Loading
because it is simple and effective. I do not have time to weigh and measure food, nor do I care to, and following these simple rules allow me to live my life without being a slave to my diet, like many body builders, and still gain the strength and physique goals I am looking for. It's really about minimal sacrifice and maximal gains. I'm not saying you can eat whatever you want anytime you want, but if you train hard and follow the rules, you can have more fun and get better results.
If you have any questions or comments, please post up, I'd love to chat with you and simply answer your questions. Check out the weeks training highlights below.
One last thing, if you are interested in attending a cool workshop and you can be around Birmingham, Alabama at the end of January, I am involved with a group of awesome guys who are putting on great weekend of strength and philosophy education. Check out Mental Meatheads
and see what we are all about. We have Elliott Hulse, Jason C Brown and Chip Conrad in the house along with myself, with this group of talent, it's gonna be one heck of a fun weekend.
is not a new concept, nor am I trying to tell you that you need to do them. But, if you haven't done it before or not for a while, maybe you could give it a shot and see if your condition improves. Here's the basic concept:Every 2 minutes you perform a cluster of exercises based on the goals of the day, being strength, speed, etc. The cluster could be 1 rep, 3 reps, 5 reps, etc with a short rest
between each cluster, repeat a few times, then rest longer before the next cluster. Pretty simple. Instead of doing a straight set of 12, for example, you would do 4 clusters of 3 reps as one set. Its still 12 reps, but you can use much heavier weight. Some people like it, some don't, but you'll never know how you feel about it without trying it out. The following video describes one particular way to use clusters with squats, but the options are endless. You can play with the sets, reps, and rest periods to get yourself stronger and better conditioned.