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Thursday, December 16, 2010

More from AC

You all know I love Alwyn Cosgrove (in a manly way ). Not a weird way. Anyhow, here is a great repost from him.

I'll be back to posting more of my own gems once we get the TPS move finished.

What is it that separates you from your goals? Or from being at the very top?

If you want to be a World Class fitness trainer or business owner - what is it that is keeping you from accomplishing that?

Is it education? If so - what books do you need to read? What DVD's do you need to watch? Who do you need to meet or consult with ? What audio CD's do you need to listen to? What seminars do you need to attend? What mentorships are you  going to?

Is it experience? If so - who can you study under to fast track that experience? How many clients would you need to train to get more experience? If you currently train 20 sessions per week, if you got up to 25, that would be an extra 250 sessions per year (or over ten extra weeks of experience by comparison).

What about a personal goal of fat loss or muscle gain? What if you want to lose 20lbs? What foods would you have to eat on a daily basis? What training would you have to do? How much cardiovascular work? How many sets, reps, exercises in your weight training program? Should you even have a weight training program?

Who is the best trainer in your area that you can hire? What sort of time commitment is needed?

Is that time commitment realistic for you?

Are you just lacking the information?

Are you lacking a plan?

Or do you know what to do and just aren't doing it?

Are you supposed to take a 6am spinning class and sleep in instead?

Are you just not taking action?

I bet most of you have never even figured out these factors. Most people prefer to stay the same, yet complain about where they are, and how hard it is, and how it's "different" for them or in their gym/town/city/state/country...

As we wind up 2010 - are you where you wanted to be 12 months ago? What about 12 months from now? What steps do you need to take?

If it's a lack of information - then get that information and then take action.
If it's a lack of action - then get off your butt and DO something.

If you can answer these questions make a list and start moving towards your goals.


PS - I've been getting a lot of emails as regards books to read about goal setting and the success mindset. The single best resource I've ever found on this topic is from UK super-trainer Dax Moy: you'll find all the details HERE

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The horrors of the leg extension

So anyone who know TPS knows we hate leg extensions machines.
The main reason is that they place an excessive amount of shear force on the knee. TPS will never, ever have one. Period.

Never use this, it might fall over on you and cripple you.

I have found a new reason to hate them. In today's Boston Herald there was an article about Cybex losing a $66 Million judgement in an injury suit regarding a leg extension.
It seems that some poor person had a leg extension FALL on her and it crippled her. Just one more reason to avoid the leg extension.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Progress at the new TPS at 68 Vine St is comng along very well. We'll be painting and cleaning all day Saturday and Sunday if anyone wants to help out.
Sorry I haven't been posting any training stuff here.
It'll be back soon.

Monday, December 6, 2010

No posts for a whle

So, as you might have noticed, this blog has been dead for a few days.
I have been flat out with the big new TPS project.

Oh wait , you haven't heard?

TPS is moving to 68 Vine St. in Everett (it's the old Gold's Gym on Revere Beach Parkway-next to the Harley dealer).

Here is a map.

As you can imagine, I've been a little busy.

I'll try to get you some fresh content here, but chances are I'll steal it form one of my buddies. Of course I'll give them the credit and not post it as something I wrote.

On that note, why do people do that?  I've never understood it when people present somoene else's material as their own. I had a guy take one of my seminar books, that I WROTE ALL BY MYSELF,  like a big boy-and he changed the name on the cover, added his name as the author and sold it at his own seminar.

What a loser.

On theat note, don't you HATE when people write "looser" instead of "loser"?

Holy Batshit Batman!

Drives me batshit.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Gettin Awesome with Steve and his lack of facial bones

TPS's Director of Strength and Conditioning, Steve DiLello FINALLY did it. After chasing 405 on the bench press for what seemed like an eternity , Steve hit a RAW 405 bench last week.

He credits this to a few things in no particular order:
A) not listening to Murph or Kevin
B) being a persistent bastard and NEVER giving up 
 C) being AWESOME in general.
Steve was too AWESOME to fail at his quest.
This just goes to show you that having a goal and working towards it with 100% commitment the only way to go. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More stolen stuff here

You all know Jason Ferrugia is my boy right?
He's the chief training advisor at Men's Fitness and a good friend of mine.
Cosgrove stole this from him, so I am in my usual fashion, stealing it form Cosgrove to put in my blog.
The reason, well for one, it's awesome, and two, I've been REALLY busy working on somethng big that I'll announce next week if ti goes through.
Not much time for creative thought or ranting latley. Anyway, read on for some great tips on training from Jason Ferruiga.

I don’t know about you but there are plenty of days where I could use a lot more than 24 hours to get everything done that I need to. Especially around this time of year. With the holiday season upon us extra time is going to be a precious commodity that’s hard to come by.

That’s why I don’t have time to agonize over what to do in the gym. I only have 30-45 minutes total, to get in and get out. And that usually includes warm up time. I can’t waste valuable minutes figuring out confusing, overly complicated set and rep schemes or mess around with 15 different exercises per session. I need something quick and easy that’s going to produce results; not stress.
So what do I do?

Easy- I take the Bruce Lee approach and cut out all of that which is not essential. I know what exercises work better than all the others and I know what loading parameters elicit the fastest gains in size and strength. I’ve been using them for 23 years on myself and for the last 16 with hundreds of clients.

These are the same principles that have been embraced by some of the biggest, strongest men in history, from George Hackenshmidt to Franco Columbu to Matt Kroczaleski.
At this busy time of year I can’t be futzing around experimenting with new stuff in the gym. Like you, I have family commitments and other important responsibilities to tend to. So my workouts must all be minimalistic in nature. It’s either that or I have to skip them.

And that’s not an option for me. I’m sure many of you can relate and feel the exact same way.
With that in mind I hit it hard and fast, never focusing on more than three exercises per workout. If you think a workout consisting of only three movements can’t produce impressive size and strength gains I have to question your exercise selection and training intensity.

There are very few people on the planet that couldn’t get fantastic results with squats, chin ups and military presses. Or maybe a combination of ring dips, pull ups and deadlifts? Either one will develop muscular bulk and strength quite efficiently.

The fact of the matter is that beginners NEVER need more than three exercises per workout. Advanced lifters could do more than three exercises per workout if they so desired, but there’s not necessarily a need for it. Especially around this time of year when the clock is always ticking and there’s always somewhere to be and a deadline to meet.

The are two major differences between the training programs of beginners and the training programs of advanced lifters that’s worth noting, however.

Beginners always do best on full body workouts while advanced lifters seem to excel on upper/lower splits.

The other major difference is that beginners should always use the same weight for all of their work sets, using what’s known as a “sets across” approach. Advanced lifters should always “work up” to a top end set, increasing the weight each set.

An effective minimalist workout for a beginner would look something like this:

1) Trap Bar Deadlift- 5 x 5 with straight weight

Trap Bar

2) Standing Military Press- 5 x 5 with straight weight

An effective minimalist workout for an advanced lifter would look like this:

1) Trap Bar Deadlift- Work up to a top end set of 3, followed by one back off set at 90%
2a) Hanging Leg Raise- 3-4 x 8-10
2b) Glute Ham Raise- 3-4 x 8-10

These workouts will have you in and out of the gym in 30-45 minutes, tops. They will save you time, frustration and stress. Best of all they’ll allow you to still make incredible gains all throughout the holiday season without impeding on your social life or family commitments.
Sounds like a win, win if you ask me

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Vegas has everything, oh and Jane did great too

So me and Jane went to Vegas so she could rule the powerlifitng world.
Vegas is a place I would like to be let loose in.
The first thing I saw while driving down the strip was two hookers talking to a guy in a Star Wars Stormtrooper costume
 ( a dam good one too), standing about 20 feet away from a guy playing bagpipes.
My kind of town. You can't make this stuff up.

I met Rick and Corey from the tv show Pawn Stars which pissed Pudding Pop Ross off because he worships them. If you don't watch this tv show you should.

Corey and Rick from Pawn Stars with Murph

Oh yeah, Jane set a few new World records too, but how does that compare to seeing two hookers talking to a Stromtrooper next to a guy playing bagpipes?
She made me nervous walking around with an s-word.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Off to Vegas

Jane and I are off to Vegas tomorrow morning for the big WABDL meet she is lifting in.
I'll keep you posted on how she does when we return.
Let's see how much trouble I can get into in 3 days in Vegas.
He'll be pissed if I don't get arrested.

 Kevin doesn't want me to disappoint him.

Some ramblings

I don't want to politicize this blog but what the hell is going on in America?
There are things afoot that are weakening us as a nation. Since when did we decide to be a nation of weeping pussies? Of course I'm referring to this crap about the parents suing the state over their kids saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
Why is it wrong to say the Pledge of Allegiance?
The parents are whining about religious intolerance of saying "One nation under God" because of the separation of church and state. They and their attorneys are talking about how it says in the Constitution that there shall be a separation of church and state. Well apparently their attorney and the judge hearing the case have never read the Constitution.

It doesn't say that in it. It says that the government can't create  a national religion
(I'm paraphrasing).
The talk of separation of church and state comes from  letter written by Thomas Jefferson. I am not a Constitutional scholar nor did I go to law school and I know this.  It's a disgrace that they don't know this.

If you are going to make an argument make a good one.
Kids not saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school is part and parcel to weakening of the nation. If you don't want to swear allegiance to the US of A, LEAVE. Don't go to court and litigate how it is unfair because you are agnostic.

I'm agnostic and I don't take offense at it, nor do I take offense at
 someone saying Merry Christmas.
As a nation, if we as citizens don't love our country (not the current politics or policies) we do not deserve to be here.  Go someplace else and try to litigate your weepings in the court system and see how that goes for you.

 I know I'm a little all over the place here, but I'm sick and tired of people suing the state/federal government, school systems, their neighbors or someone who didn't make a special accommodation the them, or smile at them in the morning. Get a life, grow up. This is the greatest country in the world. It is that way because of the true American spirit, not the pussy spirit of crybabies looking for attention.
America, swear allegiance to her, love her, or leave her.
The rest of us will be here saying "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation, indivisibvle, with liberty and justice for all."

Friday, November 12, 2010

We love AC, we love Smitty

I love stealing from Cosgrove, it makes my day so much easier. This is a double steal, Cosgrove stole it from Smitty and I'm stealing it from them hahahahahaha!

Essential Hip Mobility Warm-up
Guest blog by Jim Smith, CSCS
You Are Going to Get Injured.
Yes, you will.
Sooner or later, the choices you make in the weight room will lead to injury. A severe injury or something minor is in your future, trust me on that!!
But you have a choice and if you act on it, you will see immediate results.
And you must make it immediately! You must take action right now without hesitation!
Change your workout. Change it NOW!
 Because I know what you’ve been doing.
You haven’t been warming up. You haven’t been doing full range of motion movements. You haven’t been raising your core temperature before touching ANY weights.
This stops now!
I am here to make your workouts better and make you feel better.
What does training do to your body?
The SAID Principle and The Principle of Progressive Overload is based upon the foundation of tension. The more tension, the more adaptation. Good or bad. You are constantly striving to create more tension and more time under tension (TUT).
Good adaptations include building muscle and strength (combination of increasing cross sectional area of the muscle fiber – sarcoplasmic hypertrophy AND an increase in the number of myosin/actin filaments (sarcomeres) inside the cell – myofibrillar hypertrophy ), improved neural efficiency, tendon / ligament density, greater work capacity, development of specific physiological qualities (dependent upon volume, load, speed, tempo, implement, application), and so on…
Bad adaptations include the consequences of the recovery from heavy and prolonged strength training. Shortening of soft-tissues, adhesions and inhibition in movement is increased dependent upon % of tension (vs. current capacity), restricted range of motion movements coupled with current mobility limitations.
What does this mean?
If you load up a ton of freaking weight, day in and day out, and only perform short range of motion movements, you’ll be walking like Frankenstein and get injured from tying your shoe and farting at the same time.
Solution? Comprehensive, systematic, consistent application of a thorough, complete and all-encompassing warm-up and mobility drills prior to and after your strength training sessions.
Think I’m lying? Think I don’t know what I’m talking about? Think you don’t have time?
I have been applying these techniques this year with not only myself, but all of my athletes. We’ve gotten stronger and my chronic injuries and limitations have gone away.
Now, if your goal is to lift heavy, lift often and lift hard for a few years, then screw it – who needs mobility work. But if you want to lift for a lifetime, then you better start doing these movements NOW.
Essential Hip Mobility Movements
I just posted a new video of some really good hip mobility movements. These will get your heart pumping, open up your hips, improve your flexibility and get you moving again quick.
But you have to do them on a consistent basis. I’m not just talking about before lower body day, I’m talking about all the time.
Remember the previous post I put up about hip mobility and knee rehab? It showed how to open up the hips and activate the glutes. How about the lower back rehab post? With each post we are learning more and more and building more comprehensive workouts.
Right now we are concentrating on hip mobility.
Hip Mobility Exercises
Glute Stretch into Cossack
Wall Squats
Hip Flexor Stretch (Back Leg Elevated)
Hip Flexor / Quad Stretch
Hip Flexor Stretch and Reach
Bulgarian Split Squats
Striders into Rotational Lunges
Striders into Seated Glute Stretch
Fire Hydrants
Downward Dog into Quad Squat
Cobra into Dynamic Plough
Dynamic Adductors – Level 1 (Narrow)
Dynamic Adductors – Level 2 (Wide)
Dynamic Adductors – Level 3 (Horizontal Squat)

PS - for more great warm-up methods check out AMPED

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Shameless plug

Saturday Nov. 13th at 12:00 noon TPS is having another Training Day.

It's Big Bench day at TPS.

Come on down and learn to bench press properly, bring your shirt and learn to use it right and hit a pr.

This is a great oppurtunity to lift with a large group of excellent lifters that are willing to HELP you get


Friday, November 5, 2010

Can't believe this one

So me and Steve, our Director of Awesome
went to a commercial gym today. Why? We wanted to see what the competition is doing, check out the equipment, scope out the staff and see if they are any good, and see what is hot on the Group X schedule.
Gotta know what the other guys are doing.


Before I go on my rant, let me say the place was spotless, very nice, and the staff was very professional and friendly. They knew who we were and let us walk around anyway. That is why I'm not saying who it was. We even spoke with the Fitness Director who was awesome and friendly. She appears to be an asset to the club.
So with the disclaimer out of the way:  as we walk in there is a wall with photos of the training staff. Pretty standard right?
It was a bunch of fairly overfat looking people that apparently never exercised a day in their lives. Some of them were "skinny fat". This is coming from a fat guy. At least I look like I lift weights although I'll never be confused with a fitness guy.
I know you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but this book looked pretty BAD.
As we were looking around we saw one of the "skinny fat" trainers talking to one of the gym members. The gym member pointed to the leg extension and asked about using it.

Never use one of these, EVER!

The "trainer" asked her if her knee still hurt form the surgery. The member said yes.
What does the "trainer" say when she was asked if this machine was OKto use considering the knee was in pain?
I shit you not, she said "Load it up" and walked away. Steve and I almost puked. I wanted to scream at her.
I didn't.

We then walked around and looked like two mongoloids using a few of the machines. I had no idea how to use them. People were looking at us like we were morons.
At one point I said to Steve "I was voted one of the 20 best trainers in the country and I have no idea how to use this stuff".
We made a quick exit after thanking them for letting us in.
What is the moral of the story?
Beware of "trainers" in a lot of gyms. There are a lot of good ones out there. There are also a lot of really bad ones that make the rest of us look bad.

 The other moral of the story is that Steve and I could never work at a Globo Gym because we have no idea how the machines work.

 I guess that is good right?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Get a great workout at home.

Train at home. 

 Are you someone who trains at home, or maybe don’t have time to get to the gym, yet still want to get in a quick workout? 
What if I told you that you can get a full body workout in your driveway or basement with a piece of equipment that costs about $12? 
Sand bag training. 
 Take an old gym bag, or an army duffle bag, and fill it with 100-250 pounds of sand. 
 Putting the sand in a few trash bags inside the duffle bad and taping them up will keep the sand from turning your basement into Miami Beach. 
 Start a little lighter, it’s easy to add sand if it’s too light.  You can get sand at most home centers for $3-5 per bag. 
Now to the workout. 
Wrestle the sand bag from the floor to your chest, and press it overhead.  Do this for 1-2 minutes and rest.  Then do another set. 
Next, hoist the bag up to one shoulder and then do a squat.  Drop the bag and lift it to the other shoulder.  Again, don’t count reps, go for 1-2 minutes. 
Last, lift the bag to the chest, bear-hug it, and run, walk, or job around for 1-3 minutes, rest 1-2 minutes, and go again. 
 Add a set of each in once a week.  You’ll feel this in muscles you didn’t know you had!

The sandbag’s odd shape and instability make it perfect for a full body workout, and to stress muscles that won’t normally get a workout. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2 birds with one stone.

  People are always looking for ways to make exercises more productive or quicker.  This  crunch variation will hit two areas that are frequently neglected, or not worked hard enough, abs and grip.  We all know why working abs are important, but grip is a mystery to many.  Having a strong grip helps in many sports from golf to football to rock climbing, and everything in between.  We are going to attack these two areas at the same time. 
To do this we will do what is called a gripper crunch.  Two pieces of equipment are needed, a Swiss ball, and a hand gripper.  The gripper should be a captains of crush variety ( 

COC’s come in 5 levels of difficulty, trainer, 1, 2, 3, and 4.  we suggest you start with a trainer.  The sporting goods store grippers will not be nearly as effective as COC’s, but if it’s all you have, use them.
To do the exercise, lie on a Swiss ball as if you were going to do a traditional ball crunch.  Take your gripper and squeeze it closed, now keep it squeezed as hard as you can and begin performing crunches.  Switch hands with the gripper after a few reps and go again.  Do the same amount on both sides.  We suggest 3 sets of 20 to start, performing 5 reps of crunches with one hand, switching grippers, do another 5, switch hands, and repeat.  Most people won’t be able to keep the gripper squeezed for too long, so we advise switching hands.

These are much harder than they sound.  You will feel a very strong abdominal contraction because of what is called radiational tension. Radiational tension is caused by squeezing your hands as hard as you can, which allows you to contract other muscles harder. Give it a try, you’ll see.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More bench press tips

Bench improvement. How do I increase my bench? If I had a dollar for every time…nevermind. Here’s a great way to increase your bench, or any lift for that matter. Speed is power, we all know that. We need to move weights quickly, with perfect form, in order to move more weight. This is proven by the ‘all or none’ law in science. The ‘all or none’ law states that a muscle fiber contracts 100% or not at all. This means that only the minimum amount of muscle fibers will fire to move a given amount of weight. So what you say? So, in order to move a given weight more efficiently, or lift more weight, you need to stimulate more muscle fibers to fire. This is done by moving the weight faster. If you move “x” amount of weight at 5 mph, you activate “y” amount of fibers. To move the same amount of weight, you need to move it faster to activate more muscle fibers. This holds true when trying to lift more weight. You need to apply more power against the weight, which means you need to apply more speed. Remember to apply the speed with perfect form. Never sacrifice technique for weight or speed.

Vincent DiZenzo benching an assload of weight at TPS.
How does this relate to a bigger bench? Simple, apply maximum force against the weight, and you will move more weight.
Set up for your bench, lower the weight quickly, but under control (don’t bounce it off of your chest) and drive it back up as fast as you can. This will recruit a maximum amount of tension in the muscles and a maximum amount of muscle fibers to move the weight. This translates into a bigger bench!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Another post form

More great fitness stuff form

The big question I’ve been getting is, “Are you miserable?”
When people hear that you’re doing “the low-carb thing”, they freak. They think it’s a death sentence--a punishing course of dry, bland foods lacking any sweetness or flavor. And I guess I’d have that impression too if I were doing a traditional low-carb diet. But that’s the beauty of carb cycling. Just when I’m about to cave in to the boredom and step over my own mother for a pizza, I get to carb up again.
Mentally, it’s been an easy rotation to adjust to. On the very-low carb days, I eat one or two pieces of fruit in the morning, and/or some oatmeal, or drink a shake. I like the Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer. The rest of the day it’s protein, veggies, and healthy fats. On the moderate carb days, I’ll do the same for breakfast and typically have another piece of fruit or a sweet potato for lunch. The sweet potato/yam has been a friend to bodybuilders forever. It’s a starchy carb, but for reasons no one seems to fully understand, it doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes and fat gain. Some guys will eat seven or eight of these things a day as their only carb source, and they stay ripped year round.
VegaOn my high-carb Saturdays, I’m eating oatmeal, fruit, and sweet potatoes until I hit 300 grams. So really, it’s not that bad. I can’t say I’ve felt deprived or light-headed or hungry at any point so far. If I had to give the average person (presuming he/she does some resistance training) advice on how to eat to control body fat and build muscle, it would be to follow this basic strategy.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, protein is important for muscle maintenance and growth. Old-school muscleheads say you need 1 to 2 grams of protein per pound of your body weight a day, especially when dieting. The ADA recommends something like 0.6 to 0.8 grams. Most trainers and nutritionists I know split the difference and say to eat 1 gram per pound. That’s what I’ve been doing. The physique pictures I’ve shot along the way, and my post-shower posedowns in the mirror, indicate that I haven’t lost much if any muscle size. Plus, my lifts keep increasing, so I don’t see any reason to change my dosage.
As for my protein sources, there are no surprises here: skinless chicken breasts, tuna, eggs, salmon, whey protein powder, Vega, and nuts.
If you’re cutting out carbs and have to eat a certain amount of protein, it makes sense that you should be able to go to town on your fat consumption, assuming it doesn’t jack your total calories for the day up over your limit. Quite honestly, life on this kind of diet would be unbearable if you couldn’t, so thank God for that. Consider then, what this means.
You can eat peanut butter, mayonnaise (lighter versions preferably), nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocados. I’ve been on a guacamole kick lately, mashing up two avocados with a fork and adding some lime juice and sea salt. You can embellish with other ingredients from there but that’s a great, quick side dish to go with some grilled chicken or fish. I also can’t say enough about almond butter. I’ve come to look forward to measuring out a couple tablespoons every night. It’s my “dessert”, and it’s pretty damn satisfying.
I’ve replaced a lot of my carbs with fat, and I feel it works fine as an energy food. I’ve been eating nuts, adding olive oil to salads, and preparing tuna fish with Vegenaise, a fantastic mayo substitute that uses grapeseed oil, a healthy polyunsaturated fat. Could I eat regular mayo? As I mentioned above, yes. In small amounts. But I feel like when you’ve only got 12 weeks to get in shape, you shouldn’t leave anything to chance and just keep the menu as “clean” as possible.
This might be a good time to mention what’s on my censored list.
Red meat
[[NOTE: I’ve since changed my tune on saturated fats and red meat. Still, I think if you want the best results in the shortest time, you may want to minimize these foods wen dieting. If nothing else, they do pack a lot of calories, and calories add up quickly when you’re dieting.]]
Fat is ok. Unsaturated fat. I’ve gotten as many as 170 grams on a low-carb day with no apparent ill effects. But saturated fat is risky business on a diet. For one thing, we all know that too much is bad for the heart and circulatory system. But there is a powerful amount of anecdotal evidence that it leads to more body fat, especially in the presence of starchy carbs. I’ve even heard reports that it interferes with the brain’s ability to register fullness--and that’s a problem you really can’t deal with when on a diet. One notable exception to my avoidance of saturated fat is coconut oil. The fat here is indeed saturated, but it’s made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), and these have been shown to digest easily and are burned for energy. Brendan Brazier, author of The Thrive Diet, and the man behind the Vega supplement line, is a big believer in coconut oil, and he doesn’t carry an ounce of body fat.
Buster Simcus, the world’s fattest man
It should go without saying that I’m not eating any junk food. Sure, we’ve done stories in the magazine about how pizza and beer can have health benefits, but no one not named Gomer or Cletus could really believe these are acceptable diet foods. Could I get away with a burger once a week or a shot of Patron on a Saturday night? Probably. But I decided when I started this thing that I was only going to eat foods that brought me closer to my goal, not ones that could hold me back from it. I’m in the zone and I haven’t cheated once, and I don’t really feel the need to.
If someone put a platter of nachos in front of me and convinced me I could eat them without consequences, I’d enjoy them like a condemned man does his last cigarette before the firing squad. I’d eat the plate and the table underneath it (and, in fact, this is my plan to break the fast when the program ends next month). But for now, it’s not really on my mind.
For the record, I lost three to five pounds per week for the first six weeks (eating 3,000 calories). The weight loss stopped last week, so I reduced the calories to 2,500, and that’s yielded another five-pound loss. I’ve taken my waistline down three inches as well (I’m down to 37 inches now).
Total weight loss: 25 pounds.

fat, diet, and pounds

Squat better and bigger right now

Squat safer.
Many people say squats are bad for the knees, but when done properly, nothing could be further from the truth. When squatting, knees should remain in line with the feet, and should not pass over your toes.
A lot of people have trouble with their knees turning inward while squatting, this is dangerous because it can lead to MCL strain and improper patella tracking. Keeping the knees in line with the feet is an easy fix, we need to activate the abductors (muscles out the thighs on the side) to stabilize the knee.
But how?
Spread the floor!
Get into your squat stance, and imagine there is a small rug or towel under your feet.
You want to spread the rug apart with your feet during the whole rep. Spreading the floor activates the abductors, and also allows the hip flexors (psoas) to contract harder.
By doing this, you are ensuring knee stability and health, and increasing muscle activation (psoas, abductors).

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bench Tip

Is your bench stuck? There are many ways to increase it, but here’s a quick tip. Learn to bench with your legs. Yes, you heard that right. Lie on the flat bench and get set to press, make sure your feet are firmly planted on the floor. As you lower the bar to your chest, keep your abs tight, and when the weight touches your chest, drive your heels into the floor, and push with your legs as you press the bar to lockout. (Make sure your butt stays on the bench). This will take some time to learn, so practice with an empty bar, and progress slowly in weight until you have mastered it. Leg drive is a “secret” of top powerlifters. If it works for them, it will work for you. This will not allow you to “isolate” your chest, that is no the goal. It will allow you to move more weight, and that will stimulate more growth.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

More on ART

Another great Dr. Brady article:

Overcoming Scar Tissue Based Injuries: Getting Better, Faster with ART
By: Dr. William F. Brady, D.C.
It can be downright ugly. Walk into any gym that specializes in strength and conditioning, powerlifting, strongman, or even martial arts, and you’ll run across a number of the athletes who have an injury that is making their training difficult and painful, often putting the freeze on their hard earned progress. Most of us have experienced hamstring pulls that return when we train hard or shoulder pulls that prevent us from doing certain lifts, but all too often these injuries become chronic, nagging training partners that repeatedly remind us of our weak spots.
Conventional wisdom tells us to stretch, ice, and rest for a while and things will be fine. That’s great advice, but what do you do when that doesn’t really solve the problem?
Enter Dr. Michael Leahy, a military test pilot turned chiropractor. He has developed Active Release Techniques (ART), a system of locating and treating areas of scar tissue. Since many injuries entail some form of scar tissue, this procedure is revolutionizing the way doctors look at and treat athletic injuries.
‘Muscle pull’, ‘strain’ and ‘tear’ are all terms used to describe damaged muscle or tendon. When a tear occurs, there is a gap between the torn ends. The body creates scar tissue to fill this gap and “glue” the torn parts together. This is why rest and ice are critical first aid in the beginning. Rest allows the scar tissue to form properly with out re-tearing, and ice reduces the inflammation and swelling so the torn parts are in close proximity and heal faster. Problems arise when this advice is not followed or when an injury is so severe and too much scar tissue has built up.
Think of scar tissue as glue; it will not only limit the ability of the affected muscle to fully lengthen but it will also prevent complete muscular contraction, which ultimately limits strength and flexibility. Not a good place for any athlete to be.

Besides damaged tendons, scar tissue can also “glue” muscles together. Muscles lie in layers throughout the body and must be able to slide across each other for efficient, pain free motion. If scar tissue has bound the muscles together, the necessary gliding motion is prevented. This too will limit strength, cause an abrupt limit of motion, and over time, damage joints. Nerves can also get glued to muscles by scar tissue, as well. Trapped nerves cause symptoms of numbness, tingling and burning, and can occur virtually anywhere in the body.

How do you know if you may be suffering from scar tissue damage and how can you treat it? You probably have scar tissue if: (1). You have strained a muscle or had a tear in the past, especially if the area continues to cause you symptoms. (2). You have tightness or pain early in the workout that improves with warm up. Scar tissue will behave kind of like taffy; when it is cold it is not flexible but after a warm-up it is able to stretch. (3). You have a limited range of motion that does not consistently improve with stretching.

Active Release Techniques is the treatment of choice for scar tissue. It utilizes over 300 different procedures to treat the majority of the different muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves in the body.
ART is a type of manual, soft tissue work that is deep and very specific. It works like this. First, the doctor identifies the scarred area by palpating or feeling it. Then, the muscle, tendon, or ligament is shortened by moving the affected body part. The doctor places a contact (thumb or fingers) on the scar, creating tension and the patient moves the body part back to its original position to lengthen the structure. This generates tension that breaks down scar tissue and restores normal movement, texture, tension, and function to the tissues, which reduces pain and improves performance.

ART treatment is unique for two reasons. First, it utilizes the patient motion to generate tension; this is the only way to produce enough force to really break down the scar tissue, and second, the treatment is very specific. It is essential to treat not only the right tissue, but the exact area within the tissue! After all, if you are not on the scar tissue you can’t break it down.

If you have a nagging injury and are interested in ART treatment and live in the Boston area, please feel free to contact me at the Soft Tissue Diagnostic & Treatment Center, 617-367-3110 or visit us at

For those of you outside Metro-Boston, you can find a provider in your area by going to

Dr. William F. Brady, D.C.

Active Release Treatment-FYI

Here is an old post form the TPS newsletter on ART. It's good!

Ask Dr. Brady
We premiered the ‘Ask Dr. Brady' column in February and many of you have commented on your own battles with scar tissue and the relief ART (Active Release Therapy) has brought you.
This month, Dr. Bill Brady and his colleague, Dr. T. Grace Steinley, of the Soft Tissue & Diagnostic Treatment Center here in Boston , ( . ) have been kind enough to help us out with some information on tendonitis.
If you'd like to consult with Dr. Brady, he does come here to TPS on Wednesday afternoons in addition to his normal office hours at his Downtown Boston location. For an appointment at either location, please call his office at 617-367-3110.
Q: My shoulder's been hurting for months. I've been diagnosed with tendinitis, but the pain isn't going away. What's the deal?
A: To lead you in the proper treatment direction, we need to determine if tendinitis is what's actually going on. If the problem is has been present for several months, the chances you are suffering from tendinitis is low. Tendin osis is likely the culprit for your aching shoulder. Semantics aside, this distinction is important for finding effective treatment.
Tendons, structures that connect muscle to bone, become inflamed and painful when injured. The body responds to injury with inflammation. Various cells are sent to an area to destroy injured tissue and set the stage for healing. Standard treatments include rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication to combat excess inflammation. The catch – inflammation is rarely present in cases of chronic tendon pain. In fact, tendinitis is a relatively rare condition.
Tendinosis, on the other hand, is common. In 1979, surgeons Robert P. Nirschl and Frank A. Pettrone removed sections of injured elbow tendons from patients and examined them under a microscope. Remarkably, they found no inflammation. Instead, they found that the tendons were degenerated, swollen, grayish rather than white, and soft. Tendinosis is the correct name for this condition, which has for years been mislabeled as tendinitis.
What causes these tendons to degenerate, you might ask? Repeated or sustained muscular contraction associated with activities such as lifting weights, playing tennis, and keyboarding causes a decrease in blood flow to the working muscles and tendons. This lack of blood flow then causes an accumulation of waste products. These waste products are very similar to those produced when a muscle is torn. The waste products in turn attract the cells that produce scar tissue. This is helpful if indeed you have torn a muscle, but in the case of overuse injuries, the body is signaled to repair muscles that are not really damaged. The body is thus fooled into thinking there has been an injury and tries to repair it. The result is an accumulation of scar tissue in otherwise healthy muscles and tendons. The scar tissue increases stress on the tendons and they begin to degenerate.
Visualize pouring glue on a healthy tendon; this is the effect that scar tissue creates. It prevents normal stretching and limits muscle contraction. This can cause a decreased range of motion, pain with use, decreased strength, and early fatigue. In fact, pain is often the last symptom to show up. Overuse injuries usually start with one muscle or tendon developing scar tissue. The involved muscle is then weakened, requiring neighboring muscles to become overworked. With continued use and the passage of time, the neighboring muscles begin to develop scar tissue. This cycle of increasing stress, buildup of scar tissue, and degeneration continues until the body can no longer compensate. At this point, the system has broken down and chronic pain sets in.
Creating scar tissue is the only mechanism that muscles have for healing. The development of scar tissue, therefore, is the body's fairly universal response to stress and injury. If you are experiencing pain from overuse, there is a high probability that scar tissue and degeneration are occurring. Scar tissue does not go away by itself. If you take time off and feel better but find that pain returns to the affected area once you resume activity, it is likely that scar tissue is present. In contrast, an inflammatory problem resolves with rest and does not return.
With the understanding that overuse injuries are most often degenerative-scar-tissue problems rather than inflammatory problems, treatment strategies must change accordingly. Over- prescribed rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medication, and electrical stimulation are no longer the treatments of choice. Active Release Techniques (ART) is the best treatment for the reduction of scar tissue and reversing degeneration. The procedure is as revolutionary as the realization that overuse injuries are not the result of inflammation. As an article in the June 1999 issue of the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation reported: "Results [with ART] demonstrated a 71 percent success rate, which, when compared to similar studies in the literature, was superior." Doctors trained in ART are able to locate scar tissue by touch. The characteristics they look for include increased tension, abnormal texture, and restricted movement. The treatment involves soft-tissue manipulation done exclusively with a doctor's hands.
Although tendinitis and tendinosis sound similar, they are two very different problems with two very different treatment strategies. The first step to finding effective treatment is finding an accurate diagnosis.
Dr. Bill Brady

Another great post form Alwyn Cosgrove

Here's a study that might be of interest to you...
Supervised exercise versus non-supervised exercise for reducing weight in obese adults.
Nicolaï SP et al
J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2009 Mar;49(1):85-90.
This research study looked at the effects of training with supervision/instruction (ie a qualified trainer) versus "advice"
Two groups - Group one met a trainer twice a week for 4 months (as a group).
Group two received basic advice to increase physical activity and access to a fully equipped gym (any exercise they did was unsupervised).
The group with supervision lost on average 362% more fat over a 4-month period. (Total fat loss of 13.4lbs in the coached group - and only 3.7lbs in the advice only group)
Interesting side note -they made these improvements without ANY dietary advice given.
This is not a new finding, nor is it that surprising as a good coach or training partner/team can really help with your results. The fact that the group exercised together only served to improve those results further (as social support is one of the key variables in fat loss success) so I'm not sure that the supervision and instruction alone was entirely responsible for the enhanced results - or the social support was part of it. However, it's clear that together it's an unbeatable combination. And perhaps that's one of the reasons why semi-private training seems to get better results than one-on-one training.
You'd also have to assume that there was more instruction in the supervised group as there was more contact with instructors.
Another study came out a few years ago showing that a participant would exercise 30% harder or more (can't remember the exact number) with someone just watching them (i.e. not offering any instruction or encouragement). You can imagine how that could translate into much greater results, when added with a good program, great coaching, great social support and great instruction.
If you are serious about changing your body - hire a coach, or get a great training partner or team to help you. If you're serious about increasing your client's results if you are a trainer or coach - consider running some small group or semi-private options.
PS - To pick up our newest DVD - a recorded seminar on "Designing Successful Semi-Private Training Programs" - click here

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Newhall, CA

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just a short rant relating to intensity and being a quitter

So today I was deadlifitng with some chains and on a warmup set at 315 with 80 pounds of chain, something BAD happened. After I completed the rep I almost blacked out and felt a pain in my lower back that was UNBEARABLE.
What did I do? Quit.
Nope, I set about rolling, doing trigger point work, a bunch of Reverse Hypers, Back Attack with a band, more rolling, and a long time in band traction.  Then some ab work and lots of ice and stretching.
As I was getting changed a member came up to me and told me we need to call 911 because someone was really hurt bad in the gym.
We went out to the gym and saw a guy laying on the floor writhing in AGONY. He was being attended to by Johnnie on the Spot (Chuck).
I asked what happened , he told me that there was a BAD laceration to the guys leg.
I looked at it and saw what could only be described as a boo. It wasn't even a boo-boo.
I tried talking to the guy, but he was really hamming it up saying how bad it was. I am terrible in these situations.
Heartless when it comes to someone who has no tolerance for even the least amount of pain (and I am a baby most of the time). Sometimes you just have to man up and do another set.
I advised the guy to let us clean it and cover it and offered to call 911.
Obviously he said no. We cleaned it anyway as he whined about flushing it with saline. SALINE!

I told hm if it was me, I'd try another set, get right back on the horse (after determining he wasn't really hurt).
He was having none of it. Turns out he was a Doctor. You think he'd know it wasn't that bad.
I know that you can never guage how much pain someone else is really in, but this guy was miking it good.
He laid on the floor while his two training
partners finished their workout. It really couldn't have been that bad for all the histrionincs he was exhibiting.
What is the moral of the story?
I don't really know. Maybe it's that  I'm an idiot and should have laid on the floor and cried after my injury, which btw was diagnosed as a partial tear by the MD I was training right after I was done.
Maybe it's the fact that I should have some sympathy for people.
Maybe it's the fact that some people are just not cut out for hard training and giving 100%.
Comments anyone?

Bring the intensity back!

Are your workouts getting stale?

How about some friendly competition with your training partner or even yourself? Most people will never enter a bodybuilding contest or a powerlifting contest, but contest training is a great motivator.

Pick a date, 8-12 weeks away and set a goal. It could be squat “x” amount of weight, most fat lost/most muscle gained, it doesn’t matter. The date you picked is the deadline for the contest.

What’s the prize? If you have a training partner, each of you will put $1 a day into a fund for the ‘contest’ prize.

If there are two of you that can be almost $200 after twelve weeks. At the end of your selected time, have your contest. Whoever wins gets the prize.

If you train alone, do the same thing, but if you don’t succeed, the money stays put in the ‘fund’ until the next contest with yourself.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Max muscle, minimum time

Sets, reps, what is the best?

 There is no best, but here is one way to stimulate more muscle fiber, add intensity to your training, and get stronger.
 Let’s use the incline dumbbell press for example. Select a medium to heavy weight, something you can do 10-12 reps with for a standard set.
You’ll need a stop watch or clock for this. Give yourself 60 seconds, and do as many reps as you can in that time. The reps should be dome explosively, but with perfect form. It’s okay to take a second or two rest between reps as time clicks away, but remember, you’re going against the clock, so do as many as you can. Try a wager with your training partner.

This guy knows how to build muscle.

Whoever does the most reps in 60 seconds gets a free protein shake after your training. Doing max reps for time with heavier weights stimulates different types of muscle fiber too!
Your type 2 fibers are required to move the heavy weight, but as they fatigue, your type 1 fibers will kick in to keep you going.
Maximum muscle, minimum time.

Quick Grip Strength Tip

Grip Strength is often forgotten when training, but who couldn’t use stronger hands?

Here’s an easy way to improve one aspect of your grip, and requires no special equipment, it’s called a plate pinch. One of the old-time test of strength was to put 2-45 pound plats, smooth side out, and lift them by pinching the plates between your thumb and four fingers. Not too many men can do this.

To begin, take two 5 pound or 10 pound plates, place them together, smooth side out, take the grip described above, and lift the plates with your arms straight. Hold the weights for up to 30 seconds.

Jedd Johnson of the Diesel Crew with a World Class Pich.

When you can hold them for 30 seconds, add weight, go to 3, or 4 ten pound plates stacked smooth side out, and continue working up to 30 seconds.
Doing this with a pair of 25’s is impressive, 35’s is quite an accomplishment, and pinch gripping a pair of 45’s is world class.

Watch your toes.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Build a big V.

 Everyone loves a V-taper, adding size to your lats makes your waist appear smaller too!
Try adding the “scapular depression” to your next set of pulldowns. To do this, take a slightly wider than shoulder width grip on the Pulldown bar, and set the weight to something you can do 8-10 reps of pulldowns with.

Instead of doing a Pulldown, lock your elbows, and pull your shoulder blades down by squeezing your lats hard. (This is a short range movement, only a few inches, and can be difficult to master, so don’t get discouraged) When the lats are fully contracted, and the shoulder blades are down as far as you can, hold the contraction for a second, and then raise the weight to the starting position. Do 10-12 reps, and then continue with a set of pulldowns using the same technique to start the movement. Do not go to failure. Stop 1 rep before you think you will hit failure. This is very taxing on your lats, but will product great results.

The scapular depression can be used as part of your back training as a stand alone exercise too. If you choose to do this, use as heavy a weight as possible, without swinging your body. The lats are very strong once you learn to use them, and can handle tremendous weight on this exercise.
Add this in, and watch the lats grow.

Get a bigger squat right now.

 Want to squat more, and do it safer?
Use your belt! Most people use a weight belt as a fashion accessory, but it is a powerful tool to aid your lifts.

 When squatting, don’t use the belt until you get to your heavier weights. When you get up to your heavier weights, put your belt on. (A 3 “powerlifting belt is best)
Put the belt on a little higher than you think you should. Right around your belly, over the bellybutton is usually the best spot.
Before you unrack the bar, inhale as much air as you can get into your stomach (not the chest) and force your abs and sides into the belt. This will increase intra-abdominal pressure, allowing you to transmit power more effectively.
As you squat back, hold your breath throughout the entire rep, forcing your abs into the belt the whole time. At the completion of each rep, exhale, and then reset the abs again for the next rep.
 Try this and watch your squat increase.
An OLD article for Zach Evan-Esch .

Get Out Of The Box – Nontraditional Training For MMA/Combat Sports
By CJ Murpy, MFS Total Performance Sports©

I can’t tell you how many times I have had the same conversation with athletes and coaches regarding weight training for MMA. It usually goes something like this:
Coach: Hey, won’t weight training bulk my fighters up and slow them down?

Me: No, not if done properly.

Coach: I don’t want my guys lifting weights.

Me: Nothing said in reply and usually I walk away in disgust!

Let’s explore this for a moment. Martial arts have a strong history of tradition. That’s great – I’m all for tradition but what if tradition isn’t always best? Historically, martial artists have stayed away from weight training, boxing is included in this, but thankfully the tide is slowly changing for the better.

Many coaches fear weight training will lead to useless bulk, becoming slower and less flexible. This is not entirely untrue. If your athlete follows a muscle magazine, bodybuilding style routine of isolation movements, feeling the ‘pump & burn’, there might be some validity to this!

No one here is saying to train athletes in this fashion. I want you to think on your own, think outside the box. Think about what attributes MMA athletes need.

MMA athletes need a high anaerobic threshold, the ability to deliver multiple bursts of power, anaerobic strength endurance, dynamic flexibility and more. So with this in mind, will traditional bodybuilding exercises accomplish this? I don’t think so, although some form of weight training is better than none. It’s like pizza: bad pizza is better than no pizza.

What you need is to implement a training program that addresses the needs of your athlete.

Another factor to consider is: Does your athlete fight in 1, 2, 3, or 5 minute rounds or longer? If they fight in rounds we need to condition them to get their heart rate back to normal in the allotted rest period. If your fighter has a 3 minute round and a 1 minute rest period, their heart rate needs to return to normal within that time so they can start the next round fresh. Many coaches often overlook this.

The best way to accomplish this is with a mixture of nontraditional strength and conditioning methods, paired with some traditional methods. Implementation of strongman style training, odd-object lifting, circuit and interval training, sprinting, agility, and bodyweight training will accomplish this.

In this article we will look at strongman/odd-object lifting for MMA.

Strongman events use the whole body dynamically, focusing on torso, grip, and posterior chain strength for the most part. They can be loaded/implemented in countless ways to ensure success for your athlete.

As far as strongman goes, a few events stand out as best for MMA. They are: Tire Flipping, Atlas Stones, Farmer’s Walk, Sled Sprinting, Log Clean and Press and Sandbag (odd-object lifting). These events can be paired with traditional lifts like squats, pulls, rows, dips, overhead pressing, and more, to come up with a well rounded plan.

I’ll list a sample 3-day per week program for MMA that is geared towards increasing strength, speed, and anaerobic threshold.

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Log Clean & Press
Atlas Stones
Dips with weight
Barbell Rows & Shrugs
Walking Lunges
Tire Flip
Farmer’s Walk
Suspended Push-ups
Sandbag Clean
Sled Sprints

No Ab Training
Sit-ups w/ Weight
Hanging Leg Raises

Side Bends
Twisting Medicine Ball Throws

A 5-10 minute warm-up, Agility Ladder work or dynamic style warm-up, should be done before beginning the working out.
Note: No sets or reps are listed because it will vary depending on the strength/skill level and proximity to a competition. In later articles, I’ll give you templates that are more specific.

The most important thing is to work hard! These sessions should take 40-50 minutes. It’ll also help to set up the strongman equipment before the workout begins so you don’t waste time during the session. Breaking the equipment down and putting it all away is a great cool-down when paired with stretching.

If you need the best Strongman equipment made in the USA, check out my website.
Train Hard!
C.J. Murphy, MFS
Total Performance Sports©

Saturday, October 23, 2010

How many reps should I do?

We get lot's of questions on what is Prilepin's Chart?
Here it is. Use these as a guideline as to how many lifts you should od at a certain amount of weight for optimal results.

Prilepin’s chart gives set percentages of one’s max to be used in training. Here’s what it looks like:
Prilepin’s Chart
Percent Reps/sets Optimal Total range
55–65 3–6 24 18–30
70–80 3–6 18 12–24
80–90 2–4 15 10–20
90+ 1–2 4 10

Another great Re-post form an article I wrote.

Top 5 Max Effort Lifts for Strongman – Upper Body
By CJ Murphy, MFS for

This is the second installment in the Top 5 series.  This article is on upper body max effort exercises.  As with the lower body article, you need to decide whether you do high, low, or timed reps. 

Here they are in no particular order:

Axle or Fat Bar or Log Clean & Press
Lifting a weight from the ground to overhead is a staple in Strongman contests.  It is also a true strength builder.  It doesn’t really matter if you use a log or a bar, just clean it and throw it overhead.

Banded Log Press
The Banded Log Press is one of our favorite dynamic exercises for Strongman and for several reasons.  It builds and teaches speed in the overhead press and it helps to teach you to “get under the weight”.

Svend Karlsen cleaning a 3" bar with a ton of weight on it at the original TPS.

Getting under the weight is what allows you to press much more than you could do strictly.  Olympic lifters call it a ‘double knee bend’, you can call it a tuna sandwich – just learn to do it.

Power Clean/Power Snatch
This might sound like a repeat of #1, but it is not.  Power Clean/Power Snatches are a little different in that they are more “fluid” athletic movement.  This is because you will use a bar that has revolving sleeves (an Olympic bar).  Cleaning a non-revolving bar, such as an axle or log, is more of a brute strength type of movement.  Using an Olympic bar allows you to do it in a much more dynamic way.  Do yourself a favor and get a good Olympic lifting bar for these. Get strong on gym lifts, they will help your strongman events.

Incline Bench Press
The Incline Press is a great choice for athletes because it is much less technical than a Powerlifting styled flat bench and we feel that it builds strength that has a better carryover to Strongman.

Bosu Ball 1-Arm Lateral Raise
Just kidding on this one.  I only wanted to see if you were paying attention.  What I really meant was….

Dumbbell Overhead Presses
You can do these standing or seated.  We prefer standing because Strongman events are not done seated.  Mix it up: do some standing, do some seated – just go heavy. Try mixing in alternating presses too.

There you have it, our Top 5 Max Effort Lifts for Upper Body movements.  I am sure you have your own favorites just find what works for you and get strong.  I’d like to hear what some of you readers use and have success with, so click the “Artcle Discussion” button or shoot me an email.

Don’t curl in the power rack or I’ll kill you,