Power Surge 2017 Write-Up

This past weekend, I competed at the USPA Power Surge 2017 Powerlifting competition in Carol Stream, IL. It was at a Holiday Inn. In a conference room.

 

The Weigh-In and Post Weigh-In Meal

 

I’ve been keeping track every day the week of the meet to see how much I need to dial back on the sodium and carbs. The last few days leading up to the weigh-in are the hardest, especially when you have to do a cut. I’ve been walking around fluctuating between 215-225lbs when I train. Since I know I will weigh-in between 9am-noon, I’ve checked once or twice each day between those times to get a realistic idea of what I might need to do if I’m over the 220 limit.

Though after years of competing I know that I lose water weight fairly fast when I stop lifting (when prepping for the competition). I chose to weigh-in in the morning so I can have the rest of the day to eat.

I drove 2 hours North to weigh-in and headed back to my apartment so I can sleep in my own bed. To me it was worth it and far less expensive (hotel + meals + gas). Plus, it was a nice day out and I enjoy driving. It’s calming for me…once you get off the Dan Ryan and out of Chicago!

After weighing-in at 219 I planned to have a protein shake with Magnum protein powder, fruits, peanut butter, OJ, oats and some ice cubes. I also had Pedialyte I picked up from CVS and had my awesome clients make me a batch of protein balls to snack on.

Lunch was a sammich with chips totalling easily over 2000 k/cals and 2 dinners: 2 rolls of sushi and a sirloin steak with 2 sweet potatoes.

 

Competition Day

My dog hates it when I pack to go places. It makes her nervous and so she defecates, urinate and vomits all over the place and won’t use the bathroom outside. She’s smart like that. Waking up not knowing how it was going to go, I was under some stress. I was also burying my grandmother 2 days after the meet.

Fortunately, I had 2 hours of driving early enough to watch the sunrise. It was just what I needed. Got to the hotel. Checked-in. Set up camp. Rules meeting and then the lifting begins.

One thing I’ve been focused on getting better at was competition-nutrition. Making sure I had enough of the right foods to keep me from cramping and have enough energy to push 100% every lift. Foods high in sodium would keep me from cramping and simple sugars/carbs that are fast acting would keep my energy up when I need it. However, I’m notorious for vomiting before I lift, but I made sure that I wasn’t too full of food coming into the meet. 

I made myself another shake for breakfast, loaded with calories, but easily digestible. Especially over a 2hr car ride. I got nervous as I always do, but I didn’t get sick. Diaphragmatic breathing and focusing on being in a parasympathetic system when I’m not about to lift really kept things calm and the food down.  My body felt amazing thanks to my Wellness Team: Erica Hartman Massage, Mitchell Family Chiropractic and my Life Coach, Rick Longstreth.

Here’s a video of the full meet:

 

Squat

Squat has become my least favorite lift. With a history of back issues and lack of confidence to go with it, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. But. I had goals. Sure enough, I fought like hell to get that third lift and I was super excited. It was a 17lb PR.

Bench

Bench had become one of my favorite lifts. Mainly because it was my weakest. I had a lot of fun training to get better at it because I knew I would improve dramatically. The best lift in the gym I’ve had was 350 (with a slight pause) a couple years ago shortly before I got injured. I knew I had more in me, but I had goals and I wanted to stick to the plan. I know I’ll achieve another personal best in next years competition whenever that may be. Until then, I’m going to be throwing up some big(ger) weights in the gym [finally].

Deadlift

By far my most favorite lift. Not because it’s the heaviest or the last. But because it’s what the audience (and judges) love to see. Brute strength. Picking up dead weight off the ground! It was a bit emotional for me because the image of my grandmother popped in my head. I failed my first attempt but got the second. The second attempt felt good, though it was 13lbs away from my final lift, which was still under my ultimate goal of 625. Nevertheless, I had made my second lift so it was worth taking the chance.

 

Summation

The meet was very well ran. With a lot of mass and broad shoulders. I wasn’t sure where the warm-up space was going to be. If it was in another room or in the hallway outside of the conference room. No. It was 8-10 feet away from the platform (you can see it in the photos). It was interesting. But. It had a “gym feel” to it; close quarters, 2 warm-up areas. Lots of heavy ass lifting and interesting smells. It wasn’t bad!

It helped that I knew all of the judges and saw them 4 weeks earlier when the gym hosted the Illinois State Championships. That and some Powerlifting Legends showed up. It’s pretty incredible all these people live locally and could watch what was one of the best performances I’ve had yet.

I’ve written down my goals on a post-it note several months earlier after my meet in March. I can proudly say I reached 2 out of the 4 goals I’ve set for myself. Check it out.

What’s great is that I still achieved all lifetime PRs:

Previous All-Time Personal Bests:
Squat 512lbs @196.2lbs (2015)

Bench 319.7lbs @196.2lbs (2015)

Deadlift 600.8lbs @177.8lbs (2013)

Total 1416.5lbs @196.2lbs (2015)

Power Surge 2017 Results:
Squat 529.1lbs

Bench 330.7lbs

Deadlift 611.8lbs

Total 1471.6lbs

What’s Next?

I qualified for USPA Nationals in Vegas next summer. I’d like to do a push-pull meet sometime before [for fun]. My Squat is something that I really want to continue to work on as I feel it’s my most uncomfortable lift. This way I’ll have time to get my legs bigger and stronger (sorry jeans…It’s about to get real) so my total can be more competitive and get back into the rankings again. This is another reason why I joined the USPA. For the challenge to push myself to be better than ever.

It had been a couple of years since I’ve been able to compete at a high level, but this meet assured me that I’m on the right track. 

 

                                                Gallery

 

Game. Time. . @uspaillinois @uspapower @trainhylete @hardmagnum #rawpowerlifting #USPApower #powerlifting #squat #bench #deadlift #fitfam

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How To Make $10 Gyms Work

Yep. If you’re already a member of a $10 gym you’ve probably noticed the rapid influx of people who want to get “results”. You’ve probably also noticed already that the gym attendance is slowly slowing down.

Nah. Not yet. Wait about a month or so. Give or take.

If you’re wondering what a $10 gym is, it’s not really pertaining to one gym, but rather a kind of gym. As mentioned in this article about how gyms set you up for failure, these gyms typically have massive amounts of cardio machines at the forefront, with the weights section behind it. Nowadays some gyms will even have a pullup rig, sleds, kettlebells and other pieces of equipment way in the back of the building. This is to discourage you from doing the very things (like weight training) that get you sustainable results. Truth be told, some cardio is good, yet cardio with weight training has proven to be even better.

You may find a trainer good enough to hire, but those are one in a million in places like these. With how little they pay trainers, it’s no wonder why the quality of personal training is typically low. These places are also revolving doors for trainers. Usually good for getting started in their careers, getting some experience training real people. However, that also attracts a certain crowd of people.

Ever seen “Gym Fail” videos?? Most likely you’d see some of these moves at your local $10 gym. While they may seen entertaining watching them online, they’re pretty uncomfortable to witness in person. It’s almost like you seem to develop an actual concern for their safety. It’s like watching a scary movie knowing that the killer is in the other room, but the character doesn’t know the killer is in there. You’re left going “NO!!! NO DON’T DO IT!!!!”

Speaking of movies, some of these places have mini movie theaters for you to watch while you’re on your bike. Honestly though, if they play ROGUE ONE in there or Dark Knight Rises…I might be in there before the credits even start just to get the right spot (middle-back of the room is the best).

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Now that you know how I REALLY feel about these gyms, I’m one to recognize that it does have a place in this world. I know I know. Hear me out.

If you think about it- 10 bucks is a stupid ridiculously low price for a gym that most likely has some of the latest equipment and some of the top brands. For 10. Fucking. Dollars a month.

To me, that’s an insane opportunity to take advantage of the what you have: top of the line equipment, a fucking cardio theater, sleds, free wifi (it’s the little things), tanning booths, shakes, etc. Yet, for a lot of people, it’s a struggle to go there let alone be in there long enough before you want to take your eyes out with a rusty rake and pour molten lava all over your face.

Though. There is hope.

I’ve been a member at a local $10 gym for several months now. Mostly because the insurance we have has a wellness program that pays for it. Also, they just have stuff my gym doesn’t have and it’s nice to mix it up. When you’ve been coaching as long as I have, it’s like being a kid in a candy store. Of gainz.

“But D, how can you stand going there!? And isn’t that betraying your own gym!?”

I get it, but no. Not even the slightest. If anything, it helps promote my gym to have a 500+ squatter, 330+ bencher and 600+ deadlifter to workout in a place where form turning into baby shit when they pick up the bar is a regular occurrence.

So, I’m going to give you guys some tips on how to survive $10 gyms in your neighborhood. 

 

Tip 1: Hire you a damn good trainer (Somewhere else)

As I’ve mentioned before- trainers who don’t get paid very well, don’t tend to be all that great. Especially when you pay to go to a gym that costs about the same as the manager special at the Asian Market at HYVEE for 2 entrees-2 appetizers-1 side. You’re likely to get better results from that meal after doing a Les Mills class for 15 hours.

The average trainer costs $1/minute. Emphasis on the “average” part. I believe you get what you pay for. I’m by no means the most expensive trainer, but you definitely want one that has the utmost confidence in their ability to help you. Some trainers don’t charge as much as they should and it’s a shame. I don’t particularly enjoy asking folks to hand over hundreds of dollars a month. So you better be damn sure I’m going to give them the most bang for their buck.

Hiring a good trainer to teach you the basics is invaluable. In a place like my gym, you don’t have as many “toys” much as a commercial gym. Which is perfect because you’re getting results with using less. After several months or years of training under your belt from a master pro, like meself ;),  you’ll be able to walk into any gym and would train better than everyone in the building.

As a bonus- you can actually begin to see what others are doing and feel what we feel as coaches. Like I said before it can be tough to watch, but it gives you a sense of pride and confidence knowing the difference between right and wrong. Hiring a trainer my seem expensive at first, but when you put it in this context, your dollar will go a long long ways for years to come.

 

Tip 2: Go in with a plan

You’ve most likely hit this part with your coach you’ve hired already. Going into a gym that gives you anxiety not from just the people, but the amount of equipment they have can overload the senses. If you have a well thought out plan, you can avoid some obstacles. Get your workout in and get out.

For instance, don’t plan on doing bench on Mondays. Why? Because Monday is “National Bench Day”. I wish I was joking. For the most part, gym members and meatheads everywhere have adopted this idea. This means that there will likely not be a bench available in sight. So, that’s why you’re going to squat on Monday. Boom. Problem solved.

And if you find a bro in the squat rack doing bicep curls with your squat bar. You call the police.

As the years go by, slowly people are getting off the cardio machines and getting more into the weight room. So it’s a plus, I’ll admit that. However, we’re still in the early stages of this evolution and the fuckery that I see people using free weights is downright inhumane. Most people won’t be doing the basics: pull-ups/chin-ups, pushups, row variations; corrective movements like pallof presses and breathing exercises. The space and equipment needed for those are likely going to be open for you at just about anytime. Take advantage. Make it simple. Keep it simple.

 

Tip 3: Go at the least busiest times

I know scheduling can be tough. Several years ago, I said I wouldn’t get up before 6am. Now I’m getting up before 4 some days because we don’t have a doggy door or a fenced in yard. We have wooden floors and their nails make for an interesting alarm clock. Some days, they don’t wanna get up either.

 

 

For me, I have the flexibility to go late morning/early afternoon as most people are at work. That is probably the most peaceful time. And honestly, people get after it. It’s going to take some trial and error, but once you find that time make sure you stick with it.

 

Tip 4: Bring your headphones I hate people watching. It’s weird for me. Yet some people like it. Though what are you gonna do when they make eye contact with you. See you. Walk over and try to talk to you. And you don’t have your headphones in. Now you’re going to have to not only focus on your workout, but figure out a way to get out of this situation. For me, music works like a pre-workout.

One day I was done lifting and turned off the music and some slow jams was playing. Followed by “I’m A Barbie Girl”. Great song. For getting ready to go out Friday night. You find that one track or playlist and you’re off. This past week, I’ve been listening to Daft Punk Live Tour “Alive 2007” album. For some reason, it went from my warm-up playlist to getting me through all the way to my cardio workout.

Also, switching to wireless headphones makes a huge difference. I love wireless headphones during training. It makes life a little easier and you don’t feel as restricted.   That being said the headphones provides protection against conversation vultures in the middle of your set and the music gives you a boost.

  Other than that, having a gym bag so you’re not holding everything in your hands and carrying it around the gym with you is a must. You can put your towel in there (in case they don’t have a towel service), your headphone case, keys, pre/post workout shaker, excess layers of clothing, etc.   You don’t have to go to a wickedly awesome-bad ass of a gym like The Bloomington Normal Athlete Factory to get the best workout of your life….

Baahahahahaha of course you do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In all seriousness, the world can be your gym. You just need to have a plan and the right equipment to execute that plan. Keep your focus. Enjoy your training and the life around you! Let’s get after it!!  

5 Things I’ve Learned This Month: September

Adding more content to my website, I’m looking to make these posts monthly as I find reflecting to be very important in personal growth. So, without further ado here are 5 things I’ve taken away from this month from personal, professional, social, and all things random. Let’s have fun with this.

Whatever you feed will grow

When you feed certain things –your time, energy and focus– understand those things are going to be the priority in your life even if you didn’t intend it to be. Whether it be in conversations, training, at work or personal time, you will find yourself not as present in the moment. That or someone will call you out on it. It’s not a bad thing, but it is important to be aware of that. When you intend to get a lift in that day but your mind wanders to what you have to do afterwards or thinking about what transpired before, it’s hard to get shit done. My work schedule has taken a nose dive over the past couple weeks and I can honestly say I haven’t really been giving it my all when I’m there. As a result, clients have been cancelling or rescheduling sessions. Some are taking a “break”. For me this was a big wake-up call for me to take a step back and look at the bigger picture in my life and see what areas are getting too much attention and areas that aren’t getting enough. Once I’ve been able to recognize the issue, I create an action plan to fix it. Balance is key, whatever that looks like for you it’s important to work on that. Now, I’ve gotten some clients back that haven’t been around for various reasons. I’m reaching out to those I haven’t heard from in a while and doing more reading and writing with the extra free time that I have. And working on communicating more/better with those that are important pieces in my life in making it work functioning better.

Recognize the different components in your life and make sure they’re all fed “property” to make your life better. I promise, you’ll have better relationships with others (and yourself), better training sessions, more productive at work (and enjoying it), and a happier life(style).

Sushi is LOADED with sodium

I’ve only been eating sushi for a few years and I’m glad I took the leap (the thought of raw fish for years wasn’t appealing. I decided to become an adult and try it. Even drink coffee!). However, it became apparent that sushi was high in sodium when I went to get a massage last week. I had sushi with the wife for lunch and went right to get a massage afterwards. Once I was done, Erica goes “did you have sushi earlier?? Your skin soaked up 2x more lotion than it normally does!” My jaw dropped. I had no idea it would make that big of a difference that fast. After looking it up, the sushi (rice) alone is 500mg of sodium…in a half cup which is the normal amount used in making 1 roll.

I had to have probably about 1 1/2 rolls =). Muahahahaha!!!!!

Why am I talking about this? Well for one I knew NFL Combine athletes would eat a ton of sushi before the combine so they could drink enough water and soak it into their muscles to keep them hydrated and therefore increase their work capacity. The opposite can be done when you don’t drink enough and can cramp up. In my profession, this was an important finding because I work with people that want to lose weight and look better naked. Well, they all know how important hydration is for not only athletic performance, but in how your body looks and how much water you’re going to hold when you consume a lot of it. Now I don’t know how many of you eat sushi that much on a regular basis, but the point is when it comes to body weight, sodium is a huge contributing factor in weight retention. HOWEVER…do not mistake sodium as a bad thing. Remember what I said earlier about how sodium helps keeps and draw in water into the muscle? Well, if you’re wanting to improve body composition, have better athletic performance/training sessions, you have to train harder and sometimes for longer periods of time to elicit muscle mass and strength gains. How much is too much? Well that’s different for everyone. What’s a lot for you might not be enough for me, etc.

Fat loss is about persistence and consistency

Since I’ve been training all summer to get my competition strength back I’ve changed my focus to gaining more muscle AND reducing body fat. You see, gaining muscle and losing fat aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. With that being said putting on muscle is not easy and neither is fat loss (espeically when with the more experience you have) which means both are going to take some time and and consistency to achieve this goal. Because there are so many factors in achieving fat loss (nutrition, exercise, sleeping habits, water intake, and stress management to name a few) the persistence of achieving lower body fat levels is the utmost important element.

 

Today at the end of a relatively light #okaybenchday sessh at the hub. After flirting with 300 on the bar last week, the body wanted a break. Went the bodybuilding route for the workout routine and felt really good. No more than 5 movements and a minimum of 6 reps for each set. #### Not going off of a strict program has really allowed me to feel my best and ultimately look my best. At 213 now (up 5 from the previous weeks) it’s been at least 3 years since I’ve been this shredded. No strict crazy diet. In fact, I was up north visiting my buddy Cabbage Patch Kevin in Naperthrill enjoying some drinks til 1:30 in the am after a hefty Italian dinner I enjoyed with his family. Part of getting great results is simply enjoying life and having some fun once in a while. I’m bout ready to get back on the platform though…in due time. #shredded #success #fitspo #consistency #livelife #havingfun #trainhard #trainsmart #eatwellmostofthetime #powerlifting #power #powerbuilding #bodybuilding #powerlifter #thick #gym #afathlete #selfconfidence #appreciatethejourney #dowork #hylete #hyletenation #trainhylete

A photo posted by Donovan’s Personal Training (@train_with_donovan) on

 

 

Conversely, it takes no time to increase your body fat levels when you neglect just about any of the previously mentioned factors OR if the method you chose is contraindicated or not helpful. Take running for instance. I love running for what it does for people: Improved athletic performance, general performance enhancement and heart health benefits, stress relief (endorphins/”runner’s high”), and a genuine love of running and competing. However, long-duration cardio such as running doesn’t build muscle. Building muscle is what raises your resting metabolism (how much energy you burn at rest) which is key for fat loss. So, while cardio isn’t a bad thing in general, it isn’t ideal for fat loss goals. It goes to show there IS a specific approach to fat loss and while you may need little tweaks here and there to individualize that approach, it’s paramount to be persistent in training to get stronger and building muscle. To make the best of your training, get outside and enjoy life Earlier this month I visited the St. Louis Children’s (City) Museum with my family. It’s always a great time there because it really makes me feel like a little kid crawling and climbing around that place. I also have a profound respect for the creativity and architecture. Check it in out this video!

 

It was pretty empty when we got there since they opened up an hour early and we were probably one of 5 cars in the lot. Once I got there and did some crawling around and running up and down the stairs, I had to pause for a moment and appreciate all the things I can do because of my persistence and consistency (there are those words again) to my training and mobility work. Some of the places at the museum are clearly made for kids. Not going to lie there are some situations where I thought I wasn’t going to make it.

I am not claustrophobic I am not claustrophobic I am not claustrophobic….#someonepleasecall911 secall911

A photo posted by Donovan’s Personal Training (@train_with_donovan) on

 

 

At times like this it helps me to understand what all my hard work and focus in the gym can do besides help me make cool videos to put on instagram. For the past several years I’ve had clients tell me stories about all the times they’ve done something in the real world that can attribute their success to their training. Take my client Adriane for example. For years, she couldn’t ride her road bike without serious back pain. Goal number 1 was to get her able and functioning. This is an important step because when you have more function, you can do more things. Case in point, any fat loss or weight loss goals you have to be able to perform physically to achieve those goals. Bike riding is great for weight loss and since she enjoys it- it makes sense to get her healthy enough to make that happen and accomplish both getting back on the bike and improve body composition.

 

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“Kim Kardashian doesn’t provide much value and asks for a lot of money, why can’t I when I provide more value to people?”

I heard this knowledge bomb on the “Barbell Business” podcast this week and it totally caught my attention. It’s not easy asking folks for money knowing how hard times are for most people. Early in my career it was painful asking people to pay me for the service I provide. It still is at times. But then your bills don’t get paid and when you do charge people it ends up being overdue and therefore pressuring people in a way you didn’t want them to be in the first place. Reading that out loud it doesn’t make sense, right? I’m sure some of you out there feel the same way. It’s an honest and genuine feeling. I know if I won the lottery, I’d still use my skill and talents to help people become a better version of themselves. Perhaps it’s natural to think this way when you truly love what you do.

Though this quote really woke my ass up. I mean really…why should I feel guilty for placing a monetary value on a service I provide that could help thousands (maybe millions one day) of people in my lifetime when there are folks asking to be paid for being themselves on television? It’s crazy.

For me, the takeaway is this: get really fucking good at what you do and provide a service people will want. If they’re not interested in paying then perhaps they’re not ready and that’s okay. Problem is I want to help as many people as I can. But this year, my most successful year ever, those that are willing to invest in themselves are the best clients and get the best results and stick around the longest. Especially because they pay a premium price for training. Keeping that in mind forces me to continue to elevate my game for these people.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Look for next month’s edition!

Testimonial No.11: Gemma Billings

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I was never an athlete.  I still don’t call myself one.  But I do train for a better life, and that’s what I got from training with Donovan.

 

In mid-2013 I had constant, debilitating back pain.  Trips were cut short, housework got ignored.  Most doctors said “Exercise.  Take ibuprofen.  Stretch.”  Okay.  But the light bulb went up when my friend Marisa mentioned that she had a personal trainer and the three magic words: “No back pain.”  Well, sign me up.

 

I have skipped some days.  I have whined plenty, especially on days that were hot.  I have whined that I was too weak to lift a kettle bell.  But I still went and lifted.  Donovan Muldrow does not belittle you or yell at you.  He learns how you move and how you learn, he writes your workout programs, and most importantly, he teaches you what your body is capable of and how to do it right.  And despite my protests before (okay, and some during), I never, ever leave a workout feeling bad.  I am elated, and sweaty, and accomplished, and that is the mark of a most excellent trainer.

 

The back pain is gone.  Granted, it got replaced with a little soreness after leg day, but that reminds you that you worked on something and that something is developing.  I have biceps and quads now.  I move better.  I feel more comfortable in my own skin.  What you get out of training with Donovan is a new sense of self-respect, better understanding of the wonders that your mind and body are capable of, a strong desire to test and push beyond your boundaries, and you get the friendship of one of the best men you will ever meet.

 

As a side note, I noticed while writing this that I had a lot of difficulty finding a “before” picture, because I hated having my picture taken.  There’s a lot more recent ones now to use as “afters.”  That should tell you something.

Testimonial No. 9: Tami Hill Dean

When did you start training with Donovan?

 

I first met with Donovan to talk about training and do a trial session at the end of September 2015.

 

 

What led you to “Train With Donovan” and why?

 

I had not been happy with my fitness level for awhile when I came to first meet with Donovan. I felt like the person in the mirror wasn’t the person I had known most of my life. I had tried other diets and exercise choices in the past and due to “life” I had to quit what I was doing. It had been some months since I had done any regular exercise. I missed the feeling I got from working out and feeling good. It was something I did for myself and I missed it. When I started on this journey, I had not ever tried a personal trainer before, but I thought that it was worth a shot to see what I could get out of it. I sought out Donovan because some other people I know were always writing positive things about him and their workouts on my Facebook feed. After our initial meeting where Donovan listened to me talk about what my goals were, my thoughts about my body and exercise etc., I felt like this was the next step in my exercise journey. I left feeling like this was about my whole self and not just a weight or exercise routine.

 

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What were some of the things you’ve sacrificed to make your training a priority? Why is your training important to you?

 

Sacrifice seems like a negative word to me. I would rather say that I have purposefully chosen what is important to me. I firmly believe people find or make the time or money for people, things and/or experiences that are important to them. This is true in all aspects of life. I have chosen to make myself a priority; I have made financial decisions/choices to make training a priority. I could look at less shopping or eating out, etc. as a sacrifice, I suppose, but I have chosen to attempt to be as positive as I can in all areas of my life. Training is important to me because of how it makes me feel about me. I feel strong and happy. It has helped me come back to my true self in my life journey. I had honestly lost me for awhile, but now that I’m back I don’t see training leaving my life as a priority. I recently had someone ask me about my training and the cost. I answered, it is so important to me I am willing to forgo other luxuries in my life to make it happen. I can’t imagine training not being a part of my life.

 

 

Have you worked with a trainer before? If so, how does your current experience with Donovan differ from past experiences? If not, what are some of the positive experiences you’ve had so far?

 

I had not worked directly with a trainer before Donovan, so I don’t have anything to compare my current experiences. However, I will say that Donovan pays attention to me and has gotten to know me as a person. He can tell when I’m tired. He seems to know just when to push and add some weight. He will have you do things you didn’t even think were possible. Sometimes life sucks; when I need to use my workout to lose some steam, he accommodates that. I would say that I miss my sessions if I have cant come to one. I try not to miss at all; that is how positive my time with Donovan has been. Another important positive experience from this is that my kids get to see how important this is to me and I can model healthy body image and care.

 

 

How do you feel now compared to when you first started training with Donovan?

 

I feel amazing! I can see and notice the changes in my body and abilities. I can tell that I am more fit. I always think the most interesting thing to me is when I notice something that used to be difficult at the beginning, I now can do with ease. Overall, I am sleeping and eating better. I am a happier person. All of these things connect back to getting in my training sessions. I can say when I first started I was probably weighing myself more than I should. And while I was always wanting to be strong, the scale would still come to try to tell me a different story. As I’ve been on this journey I now focus on how my clothes fit and how I feel now rather than the number on the scale. I actually put my scale away. I haven’t weighed myself for 6 weeks. I have no desire to anymore. I have had a lot of people comment on “how much weight I’ve lost”. I’ve honestly lost around 2lbs. It isn’t about the weight. I don’t even have a weight goal anymore. It is about the leanness of my body and how I feel. I’ve dropped a pant size and am close to the next size. At the end of the day, I feel great about what I’m doing and myself. And, I’m totally in love with my new shoulders. 🙂

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Would you recommend training with Donovan to others, and why?

 

I have and will continue to recommend Donovan to anyone because he is fantastic at what he does. He builds you up and you don’t even know it. There is always a method to his “madness”! At the end of the day, when you come to training and are consistent, you will see improvement.

 

 

What do you look forward to in the future with your training?

 

I look forward to continuing to build my strength and push myself in ways I hadn’t even thought of doing before. I’ve only been on this journey for 6 months. I can’t wait to see where I am another 6 months from now.

 

Testimonial No.8: David Frahm

When did you start training with Donovan?

March 17, 2015

What led you to “Train With Donovan” and why?

I have a few friends who had been doing group training with him for a number of months, and just watching their transitions over the course of those months made me think “I should do this. I owe it to myself.” I was never in it to lose weight. I knew that probably wouldn’t be the best goal for me. Instead I simply wanted to get in better shape, and be more fit and in tune with my body. I knew that as I did that, I’d burn the fat, even if the weight didn’t disappear. Over time, I haven’t actually lost a lot of weight in pounds but, my pants waist has shrunk somewhere between two and four inches and my shirts feel significantly more loose, especially around the belly. I’ve definitely lost fat and put on muscle.

 

What were some of the things you’ve sacrificed to make your training a priority? Why is your training important to you?

The biggest sacrifice is time. I’m pretty busy, between being an active member in one community, a leader in another, and maintaining my relationships with friends and loved ones. I used to go to karaoke once a week; on one of the days that I train now; and I rarely have the energy to make it out after our workouts. Still, I wouldn’t trade my training back for it. It’s important to me because of how it makes me feel. I’ve wrestled with a lot of body negativity issues. I’m a big guy. I will never not be. But I can choose whether it’s just me being the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, or if I can actually build some strength and muscle. Training with Donovan leaves me feeling empowered, even if a bit sore. It’s also amazing at fighting off my depression, and the stresses of the day. Nothing feels quite as cathartic as the physical exertion on days where work is just a little too stressful.

 

Have you worked with a trainer before? If so, how does your current experience with Donovan differ from past experiences? If not, what are some of the positive experiences you’ve had so far?

Donovan was my first trainer, and he’s been phenomenal to work with. He’s always encouraging, which is great on the good days, and even better on the bad. He encourages not just lifting the weights, but also building a positive attitude, and treating your body right. Whenever it’s a “bad day” in the gym, he always asks “How’d you sleep? What have you been eating?” and encourages you to be more mindful in your choices. This, plus seeing the gains from week to week and month to month have always left me feeling more empowered. I feel like whenever he sees me doing things a little to easy, he encourages moving up the weight, and when he sees that I’m struggling on a day, taking some off. It’s not always about hitting the number, it’s about building a strong and consistent habit of doing the work, so that when you need to take a breather, you’ll come back in just as good.

 

How do you feel now compared to when you first started training with Donovan?

I feel significantly stronger, more flexible, and empowered physically and mentally. One of my more amusing litmus tests from when I started training was being able to lift my girlfriend. When I first started with Donovan, I couldn’t really pick her up without struggling. I could do it, and hold her for a bit, but she always felt insecure with it. Now I can just pick her up and walk away with her, and it usually leaves both of us laughing. When I talk about being empowered, one of the metrics of success that I have with Donovan is to make my bad days today be where my good days were yesterday. It’s incredible to actually see it and have the numbers. Just a couple of weeks ago, I had a day where I was feeling about 80%, tops. I slept like crap, ate like crap, and struggling with depression were all leading to me having a bad day. Still I was pounding out some floor presses, and I was working with a weight that was below where I had done it last time. Donovan saw how I was working, and actually encouraged me to do better than my last time. I listened to his advice, and was still able to push myself through it at the higher weight. He saw that, even on a bad day, I could do more than I thought I could, and encouraged me to push myself I still remember, less than a year ago, when I first deadlifted over 100 lbs. I felt so strong and so proud, because I wasn’t sure I could do it. Now, that weight is less than where I start my warm-ups, and I’m less than a year in. I’m still feeling strong and proud, I just work with bigger numbers now.

workout-before-after (1)

 

Would you recommend training with Donovan to others, and why?

Absolutely, and I have. He’s good at paying attention to you, your needs, and your body. If something isn’t working right, he’ll find a way to change it. If you’re incapable of doing something, he’ll find a way to work around it. One of the people in my group can’t really lift weights over her head, so he has her do something else to work those muscles. Another can’t handle rapid up and down motions, things like jump squats, and so Donovan gives him an alternate thing. He finds what works for you, and always has tips on how to make it better.

 

What do you look forward to in the future with your training?

Making my bad days tomorrow be where my good days are today, and to make my good days tomorrow above and beyond that.

 

-David Frahm 3/1/16

D-Money’s Exercise of The Month: X-Band Walks

Happy New Years, everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog post on this website. Not going to lie, at one point I did give up. Writing just isn’t in my wheelhouse and I get bored quickly. However, I’ve had a shift in perspective and goals. I used to think I’d have to write out this 500-1000 word article for it to be worth peoples time to read. That kind of ideology is what ultimately let me to think that writing was a bit too much. As articulate and long-winded as I am in person, I’m not quite the same in writing. So then I realized I could just get straight to the point. Create content that the busiest of people could spare 2-5 minutes to read and maybe learn something.

Doesn’t it feel good when you come up with ways to make your life easier? I hope you can find this post useful to help make your life easier, too.

Today’s post is the beginning of a series  I’d like to call “D-Money’s Exercise of the Month.” Some of these exercises aren’t new or very exotic, but they’re pretty damn powerful if you use them correctly. More often than not these drills/movements can be used in your warmp-up, at the end or during your strength routine.

So without further adieu, introducing: X-Band Walks

Targets: Glute Medius, Hip Abductors

What does it do? The X-Band Walks (a.k.a. cross band walks, a.k.a. lateral resistance walks, a.k.a. ass burners) is a fantastic drill to strengthen and stabilize your hips and stabilize the knee. That’s good news for people who live in weather where it can become very icy, or if you’re used to sitting on your tush all day it can “wake” that ass up. Having that stability in the knee and hip joints will give you a better chance from taking a nose dive slipping on ice. This is also a great drill to use pre/post knee or hip surgery if squatting and lunging still hurts.

When should you use it? The X-Band walks can be used just about anywhere in your programming. Whether it be in the warm-up as a stabilization drill for a lower body day, before you participate in a sporting event, or in between strength sets as a filler on upper body day.

How should you use it? You want there to be a level of fatigue in the glutes before you train them. Programming 15-20 reps going each direction is a good start depending on the strength of the band. You can also use them for time, anywhere from 20-30 seconds at the end of the workout for a finisher. Boom! Try it out and let me know what you think!

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Testimonial No.7- Ted Reynolds

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When I first came to Donovan I had already been lifting for a few years and had worked with other trainers before so I thought I knew quite a bit about lifting. Came into my first session and immediately he changed the game. He’s got every step broken down to a science and the man knows what he’s talking about. Through my sessions with him I learned new and more effective ways to lift to not only get stronger, but put on size at the same time. The energy he brings to every session was everything anyone could want out of trainer. Working with Donovan didn’t just benefit me when I worked with him but he taught me so many things that I still utilize today with my lifts. Without doubt I am a better lifter today because of him.

-Ted Reynolds

9/3/15

USPA Training: Week 4

Squats (*Reps)

Bar x 10

135 x 8

225 x 3

315 x 1

350 x 8

*I believe I messed up on my programming for this week. At some point I was supposed to work on “explosion” but did reps instead. This was pretty brutal.*

 

Bench (Heavy)

Bar x 10

135 x 5

185 x 3

215 x 1

235 x 1

5 x 2 @ 250

Dropset x 20- 135

 

DB Bench

80 x 8

95 x 8

 

Deads (reps)

165 x 10

225 x 3

345 x 2

**1 x 8 @ 420

Rack Pulls

365 x 6 x 2

385 x 8

Pullups

3 x 8

GHR

Red Band 2 x 10

Seated Lat Pulldown

2 x 15-20

**Today was a great day. Bar moved fast. Probably a combination of a long warm-up, stress-less work morning, and a good meal the night before. Whatever the case, I’m starting to feel like my old self again.