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Some Of My Awesome Clients

22 Feb

Here is an old video of a few of my clients getting after it. I totally forgot I had filmed some of this stuff! I like this video because it shows the mix of athletes I may work with on any given day at MBSC.

A 14 year old chin-ups with 55 lbs, some AARP card holders fight off aging and some of my 6 adult group push their training to the limit before the work day begins. Enjoy !


Some Thoughts On Strength Training…

8 Feb

For me, training purely for raw strength is the most enjoyable pursuit in the world. The beauty of this endeavor lies in its simplicity. There is no secret ingredient or special sauce in the recipe.

Tasty but not effective for strength gains...

It all comes back to one common denominator: Your time spent under the bar.

Some are more genetically gifted than others, but what Pavel says is true: “Strength is a skill”

You have to learn to be strong and get good at lifting. Treat it like a sport and practice. You don’t always have to go hard but you’ve got to get in the gym and practice your skill. Practice pressing, practice squatting, practice dead lifting and practice whatever else you want to be strong at. The best lifters have practiced.

Don’t get fancy. Be “brilliant at the basics.” Learn Dan John’s essential movements: Squat, Hinge, Press, Row and Carry. Call me bias to Boyle, but I think you should get proficient at a single leg movement as well. All together that gives you 6 things to work on. 6 things. That’s not a lot to ask for. Practice the patterns DAILY and load them a few times a week. Do this for years and progress the pattern variation and intensity accordingly.

Slow, consistent progress is key. Don’t worry so much about Russian Periodization Models or the new Delt/Arm routine that Jimmy Gunz has in this months Muscle and Fitness.

Bill Starr’s 5×5, Jim Wendlers 5/3/1 or Dan John’s Mass Made Simple are all that 90% of people in this world need to reach their strength training goals.

I’ve been using Wendler’s 5/3/1 for my main lifts for years now and it hasn’t failed me yet. It goes like this. Find your max. Base your training numbers off 90% of that.

Week 1: 60% x 5/70%  x 5/80% x 5+ (last set as many as possible, 5-9 rep range)

Week 2: 65% x 3/75% x 3/85% x 3+ (last set as many as possible, 3-7 rep range)

Week 3: 70% x 5/80% x 3/90% x 1+ (last set as many as possible, 1-5 rep range)

Week 4: Deload

Don’t miss reps. Learn to accept starting with lighter weights on the bar.  Getting pinned because you wanted to impress the yoga pants on the elliptical is stupid and only impedes progress. Lift sub-maximally and set rep records weekly. If you did weight X for two more reps than you did last phase then you got stronger. At the end of each phase, if you are hitting your numbers then bump your max up 2.5 or 5 lbs. If you missed stay where you are. Adapt your numbers and repeat. Do this for years, consistently. I’m not kidding.

You need to stop over thinking accessory work. Ask yourself this: “What do I suck at?” Answer honestly and then go train that quality. Realize that Pareto’s Law applies here. You’ll get 80 percent of your results from 20% of what you do (i.e. your main lifts). The accessory work is exactly that, accessory. It’s there to supplement what you are already doing. Pick what needs work and train it. Wendler likes to prescribe 5 sets of 10 on assistance work. I do this and think it works great, but choose what works for you.

Here are my favorites…

Pulling: Chin-Up/Pull-Up Varitions, DB Row, TRX Row, Batwings, Sled Rope Pulling

Pressing: Close-Grip Bench, Floor Press, Board Press, OH KB Pressing, Push-Up Variations, Single Arm Pressing

Knee Dominant: Lunge Variations, Front Squat, Single Leg Squats, Heavy Sled Pushing/Dragging

Hip Dominant: SLDL, GHR, Hip Thrusts, RDL

Core: Anti-Rotations Press outs, Carrying Variations, Rollouts, Landmine, Cable Chops and Lifts.

A good choice for assistance work..

Your soft-tissue quality will certainly take a beating if you’re training hard, so take care of it. Think about a race car that never take a pit stop. Your body is no different. You can’t get stronger if your knees and shoulders go to shit.

Know where your mobility and stability weaknesses are and have a consistent soft-tissue maintenance routine. Use the roller and lacrosse ball daily. Stretch everything, do your mobility drills and movement prep work. Go get massage treatments periodically. This stuff is easy to do and not very strenuous so if you skip it you’re just being stubborn and lazy. 

Eat to support what you’re trying to achieve. You won’t get bigger and stronger if you’re eating like a little girl. Consistent protein, starchy carbs, a variety of fruits and vegetable and post-workout shakes everyday is the key. Don’t waste your money on the XXX Super Sizer Mass Gainer at GNC instead, learn to cook quality meats and vegetables and don’t be afraid of having seconds.

Finally, learn that there will be ups and downs. Realize, that strength gains won’t be linear.

Think about it like this:

Lifting is like baseball, you won’t hit home runs on every swing. Sometimes you’ll hit singles, sometimes you’ll walk and even strike out. Month to month, you will have a lot of workouts that are “pretty good”, some that were “awesome” and a few that “flat out sucked.” Realize it’s not about the grand slams, it’s about your on base percentage. Keep in mind, the best lifters, just like the best hitters don’t miss often. Great hitters consistently get on base, similarly the best lifters consistently put in their reps year round.  This assures long-term progress and a pretty good batting  lifting average.

Thanks for reading,


Daily Quote 1/24/12: Mark Rutherford via Conditioning Research

24 Jan

I found this great quote from Mark Rutherford on Conditioning Research. With my main clientele being the middle aged population this is something I preach to my clients everyday. Dan John stressed this to us in his talk about adults when he came to MBSC.

“Your best ally as you age is to take as much muscle mass into your latter years as possible. “

Bottom line: Fight the battle against muscle atrophy as hard as you can as you get older. The more muscle you can have in the back nine of life the better.

My Favorite Ankle Mob

13 Sep

Even with a busy week of coaching I want to get a quick post up about my new favorite self ankle mobilization technique. Thrilling I know, not exactly like Tom Brady torching Miami for 500 yards, but bare with me here. If you or your clients have stiff ankles try this out and thank me later.

Ugg's don't make for good dorsiflexion

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Concepts For Mobility

25 Aug

This past week in Boston was one filled with continuing education opportunities and knowledge bombs galore. From Thursday to Sunday in the Boston area you had an opportunity to check out the following….

With that being said, if you train people, Boston was the place to be this past weekend as far as continuing education goes. Since I did the FMS seminar last year and I knew that it wasn’t likely that I’d have an opportunity to see someone from the west coast out here again soon I went all in and saw as much of Kelly Starett’s presentations as possible.

I can hear the functional party ranting already…”Pshh a Crossfitter what can you learn from him besides how to injure someone??”

It turns out you can learn a lot…

Kelly Starett is a brilliant physical therapist and owner of San Fransisco Crossfit. He currently maintains a blog entitled where he posts one mobility video EVERY SINGLE DAY!! (Check this out for serious and practical knowledge bombs daily!) Say what you want about Crossfit, but Kelly and his team do it right out there.

My roommate and fellow MBSC coach Brendon Rearick extended an invitation to Kelly to give an in-service presentation here at MBSC while he was in Boston for two other seminars and he politely obliged . Some great education followed. In addition to giving us nearly 3 hours of an in-service at our gym Kelly extended a free invitation to attend his full day seminars being held in Boston on Saturday and Sunday. 8 hours of free education?!?! You’d better believe I was all over that. So over the weekend a handful of MBSC coaches and I crossed over to Crossfit and attended a kick ass seminar. Here is some of what I picked up.

– Mobilize for specific position not anatomy

  • When thinking about mobilizing a joint it is best to think about it in a position specific model rather than an anatomical one. Knowing your anatomy is necessary but it tends to get lost in translation in a practical sense.

Take this for example..

You’re mobilizing your hip externally rotated and flexed. You know that your lacking mobility in hip ER but what is limiting you your piriformis, glute min, med, gemelli, quadratus blah, blah, blah. The point is you don’t really know. So make it simple and mobilize in external rotation. Don’t over think it.

– “Look at the shoulders and hips as analogs of one another.”
  • Thinking of the hips and shoulders in this fashion really helped me. I once heard Gray Cook say that the Eastern Cultures referred to the shoulders and hips as “The 4 Knots.” When you think of these joints and how they function best in movement you start to see the patterns appear.
  • The shoulder needs external rotation in flexion…think OH pressing/pulling/throwing

  • The shoulder needs internal rotation in extension…think Throwing/Swimming.

  • The hip needs external rotation in flexion….think squatting
  • The hip needs internal rotation in extension…think running/swinging/throwing/the back leg during an SLDL

Thinking of the hip and shoulder in this fashion allows for easy reference when it comes to picking positions for mobilizations. Ask yourself….What positions do you find your joints in during training and competing? Where are you restricted?
-Have a stabilization strategy and enter “the tunnel” in a good position

KStarr had a great metaphor for the proper set-up for exercise. I know this one really stuck with me and the other coaches from MBSC as it has been repeated multiple times since then. He made the analogy of setting up for an exercise as “Entering The Tunnel.”  Simply put, if you intend to exit the tunnel (or execute and finish the exercise) in the proper position you must enter the tunnel (or exercise) in the proper position well. This sounds like common sense but how often do we waste our breath cueing an athlete who is in a bad position while under load??

Picture this…You have an athlete who is doing a heavy front squats with his knees caved and back rounded and you cue him to “get his chest up and get his knees out!!” Do you actually think the athlete is going to be like “Sorry bro” and fix himself half way up with 400lbs with the rack position?!? Of course not. There was something wrong to begin with and they couldn’t handle the load. If we are out of position and we are under load it’s not going to change. Lack of stability in the center won’t allow proper positioning in the periphery.

All of this goes back to something I heard from Charlie Weingroff and was reminded by Kelly this past weekend. “Proximal stability before distal mobility” which means we must have stability in our mid-line structures (proximal stability) before we can maximize our extremity function (distal mobility).

Without having the proper stabilization plan first we won’t be able to get into our necessary positions to enter or exit the tunnel properly.

Check out this video where Kelly probably does better job describing “The Tunnel” than me..

– Follow the system

  • Kelly presented a great system that can be followed to improve mobility at any joint. The system mirrors much what has been presented by Boyle, Cook and Weingroff in the past but served as a great reminder.

The formula for improving your mobility goes like this.

1). Test Your Range

    • We have to know where we are now if we’re going to figure out where we’re going. Find out where you need mobility. Test based on the positions you’re looking to improve. You can use things like table testing, FMS or simply have them squat or reach their arms overhead. Start with what is worst and go from there. 

2). Improve Tissue Quality 

    • Perform some sort of release on the tissue to break down the nasty tacked down mess of myofascial net that is preventing you from burying that squat, causing you knee pain etc. Your tool: lacrosse ball, foam roller, softball whatever works really. Just start digging for that restriction in the position you want to improve.  Bottom line is we have to improve the quality of the tissue and it probably isn’t going to feel great.

3). Mobilize 

    • After applying some pressure to the tissues via some sort of release tool you’ve got to get that joint moving in the range you desire to improve. It’s more than static stretching, the joints have to move hence the word MOBILITY. Mobilize in the position of restriction. (You see the pattern here)

4). Re-Test 

    • After we mobilize it’s important to re-test. How will we know if we improved ROM if we don’t re-test?  Repeat step one and look for improvement. If it doesn’t look better than it’s not. You either need  different mobilization or it’s not a simple mobility problem. This is a simple step that a lot of people miss and it only takes a second so DO IT! Don’t miss this step!

5). Use it before you lose it!

    • If you have got new range of motion USE IT!! We’ve heard Gray Cook say this before. “Use it before you lose it ” is true when it comes to mobility. New range of motion at any joint is useless if you don’t strengthen it. Lack of stability in your new found joint freedom will cause you to lose it all over again. Work the new range to hold onto it.

I like systems, they make things simpler. Follow this system and the power will be in your hands to improve your mobility as well as your clients. Credit goes to guys like Boyle, Cook, Weingroff and Starett for dropping this knowledge on me, I’m just relaying the information. I’m truly standing on the shoulders of giants with this one. Now go to and start mobilizing.