Powerlifting. It’s For EVERYONE.

*Note: There is a summary at the end of the article for those that want to skip ahead. Thank you.*


I know what you’re thinking-this is my subtle attempt to get everyone reading this article into Powerlifting.

Yes…yes, it is.

Don’t get me wrong, as Personal Trainers it’s not always in the best interest of our clients to be biased about a particular way to exercise. Our main goal-among keeping our clients safe during exercise-is to get results. It’s even better to get results that will last.

I’ve been a Powerlifter for 4 years now-won 2 National Championships, multiple state championships, appeared on powerliftingwatch.com among the world’s best Powerlifters,  and hold 5 state records. Trainer or not, it’s my duty to spread the word about the sport I love.

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Ok, so what is this Powerlifting? Well, it’s simple really. Powerlifting is a strength sport (like Olympic Lifting, and Strongman) that consists of three attempts at maximal weight on three lifts: squat, bench press, and the deadlift. It’s a sport for men women, and even children.


Yes. We wear singlets when we’re competing and awesome knee-highs with butterflies on them. Sometimes. Other than a singlet which is necessary; you can compete with different equipment.

RAW: a belt, knee sleeves (debatable), and wrist wraps.

Classic RAW: You can use everything in RAW, but knee wraps instead of knee sleeves.

Single Ply: Everything in Classic Raw, but with suits for deadlift and squat. The single ply refers to the amount of material for the suit.

Multiply: Much like Single Ply but more of a thicker material for the suits.

The more equipment you use to help your lift, the more you can lift. Each competition is based off of the equipment and the lifts you perform.

Like golf in a way, it’s one of the best sports to be competitive with you and with others.

It’s truly a way of life; what you do in the gym and out of the gym could make or break your performance on the platform.

Instead of talking about the latest fitness fad or workout you could do to get leaner; I’m offering PL as a means of getting stronger, looking better (naked) and gaining confidence about yourself. So I’d like to give you all 5 reasons why Powerlifting IS for Everyone.


Reason #1FOCUS

One of the most limiting factors about people, is the lack of focus.

ford focus

*Not that kind of focus.*

Fat loss, weight loss, strength, you name it-it has never became more apparent that having a “training focus” is crucial in attaining these goals. This will tie into some of the other points I’ll mention later, but focusing on performance based goals such as this makes you change your perspective on what kind of goals you set for yourself.

You begin to focus on the positive, than the negative.

“I want to workout because I want to get rid of this ‘inner tube’ around my waist.”

“Is there anything else I can do to help me work on my thighs?”

“I’d like to start out working out 6 days/week. I really need to get in shape. I’m so tired of looking this way.”

In PL, how you look is irrelevant. If you perform like crap- and eat like crap- of course you’re going to look like crap.

If you’re a numbers person, focusing on your training numbers- not the scale– is also a plus. Weight is too manipulative and there are way too many factors to try to control it. But you can most certainly control the weight that you put on the bar.

Having that kind of control is all a person needs to realize that having this kind of focus is much more valuable of your time and energy.

You’ll feel more accomplished YOU did what you said what you were going to do.


Reason #2: To Shed Fat and Lose Weight

You’re probably thinking to,

Dude, you totally contradicted yourself. You said to focus on your training numbers and not the scale. What gives?!?!

You’re right. I did.

However, it’s because of the focus on your training that you’re able to start reaping the benefits from your hard-work. How you look is an end result of what you do.

Need proof?

“In a 1994 study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” study participants undergoing resistance training increased their caloric demands over a 24-hour period by 15 percent. Resistance training such as powerlifting has long been shown to be effective for fat loss.

It’s guaranteed that when you burn more calories than you consume, you’re going to lose weight. What you do exercise-wise will help keep the “bad weight” off and shed body fat.

Karin here is a prime example of how Powerlifting can help make you look and feel better.


Karin has been working with me for nearly 2 years now. We pretty much started out squatting, benching and deadlifting right from the jump. But it wasn’t in a manner that was as intense as it could be. About a year later, we decided that she needed a focus. Something more positive than just coming in to try and “lose weight.”

Since this was something that I was familiar with as an athlete, I knew what it would take to prepare for a PL event.

Starting in January of this year, we knew that alcohol was going to be cut (back), her eating was going to have to be a lot better and start training with more intensity and focus.

7lbs (10 lbs between the two pictures above) and 2 dress sizes later, she was ready for the competition. She won her age group and left with a first place finish.

More importantly to her though, she was in the best shape of her life (even before having 2 kids) and felt so much better. This was what she was wanting since the beginning.

When it came to her training; she ate better to perform better, lifted more than ever to get stronger, and looked and felt better as a result.


Reason #3: You don’t have to be bulky to Powerlift.

powerlifters aren't pleasing

While I agree that it’s not everyone’s goal to not fit into their EXPRESS slacks anymore because your quads are too big or barely get your button down shirt on because of the back you built; you’re not going to grow a set of testicles and sprout hair on your chest when you touch the bar.

Heck, people look at me all the time and don’t think I am a “Powerlifter” or believe that I can move the weight I can without being bigger.

Conversely, you can Powerlift seriously and not be a massive human being. One of the best examples I’ve ever seen is also one of the greatest Powerlifters of all-time, Jennifer Thompson.

Jen Thompson

Yeah. Her.

The woman in the photo with relatively small arms and “normal” looking legs. At least by American Society standards.

NOTE: The photo doesn’t do her justice though. She’s strong as hell. 

If you guessed by looking at her she’s a mom of 2, married, and a 7th grade math teacher in her late 30’s…you’re really good at guessing.

Seriously, you could make some serious dough off of that. Or have your own television show because you know we need more of those.

All she wanted to do was to get stay in shape, but realized that once she started PL she was already breaking American Records.

She has a 302# bench press, 314# Squat, and 409# deadlift.

RAW! And those records aren’t up to date.

There are full grown men that are twice the size of this woman and she’s putting up the same numbers if not more. It’s truly amazing and some might say that she’s a genetic freak. Whether that’s true or not, you have to put in the time and hard work to get that strong.

Men and women put in the time- hours -before they head to work every day to put on makeup, pick out their clothes, get their hair did. The same goes for the gym. How you look is going to be a result of what you do.

That’s the best news that you could get if that’s a main concern of yours.


Reason #4: Community

In my humble opinion, The PL community has one of the kindest-supportive groups of people around. Sure everyone will say that their group of support is best for them. I couldn’t agree more.

Powerlifting has had a bad rap for the videos and photos people put up at meets and in the gym. Stories of lifters kicking people off platforms for “not lifting enough weight” or speaking badly of others doing something they enjoy doing that’s not Powerlifting.

You’re going to have a few bad apples anywhere you go, but trust me when I say that is rare and is not what PL is all about.

“The powerlifting community as a whole is one of the most generous, kind, and supportive groups of individuals in sport. While it’s obviously important to focus on the meet and set new personal records, don’t forget to enjoy the moment and laugh with the people around you. Introduce yourself to someone new, cheer for a complete stranger, and have the time of your life.” -Jordan Syatt,

Read more from Jordan here on T-Nation.

There are tons of forums out there that are willing and able to help those looking to start. I know so because that’s how I got started.

All egos aside, every lifter has gone though their first meet not knowing what the heck they’re doing to some degree.

I went to a seminar once, not 6 feet in front of me were 11 of the world’s best Powerlifters that held at least 14 world records in the sport. Among them was the G.O.A.T (Greatest of All Time), Ed Coan.

me and Ed Coan

It was Q and A time and I said something about how I don’t belong up there with those people.
Just about all of them had a problem with that-they didn’t believe that to be true one bit.

They weren’t going to sit there and let me degrade myself in their presence. It was truly amazing and something I had never experienced before.

I can’t help but to think they knew exactly what I was talking about though. It made me think about how awesome this sport was. To get that kind of response might have changed my life forever.



Whether or not you want to step into a singlet and onto the platform, you can never say you’re not strong enough or able.



We all know we take our health and abilities for granted. It’s a matter of the mind rather than the body when it comes to doing the things we want to do. We don’t look at other people for what they are; we tend to look at people for what we are or are not.

Constantly judging ourselves based on what the person next to us can do what we cannot.

But don’t you have to do all 3 lifts to be a Powerlifter?


There are some that would disagree, but who cares what they say. If you want to be the best deadlifter, or bencher, or squatter you can be. Then so be it.

Well…my leg is in a boot so I won’t be much of anything.

Oh really…

You wanna try again??

Like anything technical, you want to make sure you’re doing it right for health and safety reasons.

PowerliftING is something that you can incorporate into your training right away. If you’re interested, find a training partner or a coach/trainer is something to invest in to help you keep you doing what you love to do. Who knows, to the unsuspecting…you’re probably already doing it.

To sum up the 5 reasons why Powerlifting IS for Everyone:

1. Focusing on performance rather than what you don’t like about yourself, sets you up for success. With focus, you’re able to have sustainable results. When you get sustainable results, you’re likely to stick to what works.

2. You’re never going to out train a bad diet. Hands down, eating well to perform well is going to be the biggest factor in your weight loss and fat loss goals. Train with purpose and you’ll be on the right path to success.

3. The perception that in order to Powerlift, you have to be big and bulky. Some of the bigger numbers I’ve been come from some of the smallest people I’ve seen. Your body isn’t going to magically transform into something unrecognizable when you touch the bar. You have to put in the time and work. How you look all depends on what you do.

4. Having social support is undoubtedly a huge factor in your success. Your journey is yours and yours alone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have help along the way. The Powerlifting community has one of the best social support groups around. Starting out can be rough. Everyone in the PL community has been there and struggled. We’re here to help.

5. If you can lift a bar, you can PL. You don’t have to be a competitor to Powerlift. You don’t need all parts functioning. To limit yourself is not a physical issue, it’s a mental issue. Angry, happy, or sad, PL is a great way to let your stress out in a productive manner. Do it right, and you’ll receive all kinds of benefits from practicing the sport we call Powerlifting.

Book Review: Poke The Box

*Disclaimer: I don’t read books often that aren’t about exercise, so it’s kind of a big deal. It may not be a conventional book review…I’m just writing about how much I like it*

Of course with experience and being surrounded by knowledgeable people, I started reading more and more about nutrition. It’s still pretty “basic”, but it’s enough to help coach my clients into the right direction. Now, my schedule is over flowing because of the referrals I get from people. It’s probably because I have learned to understand my clients better as I became more experienced. In fact, I’m more of a psychiatrist than trainer. I’m sure my fellow trainers/coaches out there could agree.

I’ve always been confident in my abilities as a trainer, but when it came to being on my own as a business man just over a year ago, there was more fear than confidence.

I was afraid to step out of the my comfort zone having come from a commercial gym that basically took care of everything for me. I admit, I was neglectful in educating myself on the business of fitness as it never occurred to me to do so.

Having your own business/identity takes a lot of courage, knowledge and skill. I only wish I had read this book years ago.

It’s an awesome book written by Seth Godin, a multiple best-selling author, called “Poke the Box”


10-1080R1 PoketheBoxMech


The book greatly talks about  initiation, innovation, and STARTING.

According to an article on cnbc.com, U.S. Entrepreneurship is it an all-time high. One of the astounding statistics reads,

early-stage entrepreneurial rate increased to nearly 13 percent, an all-time high since the survey began tracking such activity in 1999. Such high entrepreneurial activity suggests business owners are opening up smaller shops—and chasing larger opportunities such as restaurant chains.”

I was immediately sucked in to the book right from the first page. It talks of a woman who stood up and told her boss she had an idea.

“I’ve got an idea, and I’m going to start working on it tomorrow. It won’t take a lot of time and it won’t cost a lot of money, and I think it’s going to work.”

“You’re probably wondering what her idea was. You might even be curious about how she pulled it off.

That’s the wrong question.

The change was in her posture. The Change was that for the first time in this job, Annie wasn’t waiting for instructions, working through a to-do list. Or reacting to incoming tasks. She wasn’t handed initiative. She took it.

Immediately connected with the book and knew where it was going. As a business owner or employee, the message of this book is to take a chance and start something.

You’re likely going to fail when you start things, but you’ll never succeed if you don’t try. It could be the message to encourage an employee to work harder or come forth with an idea that may change the face of a company. It could even double your income.

It’s nearly doubled mine.
seth godin

I highly recommend this book. Buy it for yourself. For your friends. For your employees. Maybe even for your boss.  It’s also available on hardcover on Amazon.com for less than $8. It’s a  relatively short read-and that’s saying a lot-and well worth the time!! GO!!!!!!!

It’s All About Da Booty!!

Every now and then a new client comes a long looking to improve something-from having nice arms, a flat stomach, “toned and defined” legs, become stronger, a flat butt…


It immediately came to my attention that this was a problem. Of course there are tons of people out there who still have this goal.

I have dedicated a large part of my training career to keep this from happening. I was sure to not let this happen to this unsuspecting woman for she was unaware of the “power of the booty.”

As soon as I came up with the idea to write about this subject-for those of you who know me-I was über excited.

*Uhh creepo…what’s that supposed to mean?*

Yes, I’m an ass-man. Asside (see what I did there) from my personal preferences-I’m talking from an aesthetic and performance point of view that should be a  means to work towards in your training. So what’s the big deal? Let me holla at ya for a moment.


Note: I’m not the biggest nerd on the planet-thus explaining the biomechanics to you at best will be in what others might consider  “laymen’s terms.” Simply because, well, people don’t really care. They just want a nice functioning (and looking) bottom.


Gluteus Maximus– The larger-outer part of the buttocks. It helps you rotate your leg outwards, lift the thigh frontward and raise the thigh to the side. So when this bad boy is tight or really sore, this is the muscle screaming at you while you go up a flight of stairs or get up from the toilet. 😉

Gluteus Medius-It’s essentially the middle part of the glutes. It’s what we call an internal and external rotator for the hips (bringing your leg inwards and outwards) and is a major factor in hip stabilization. Remember when grandma broke her hip because she fell on the slippery floor? Heck, remember when you slipped on the floor???

Yep, this is one of the reasons why that you weren’t able to catch yourself. So we’re talking about lateral movement and stability here. Think of ice skaters, basketball players, football players; just about any athlete that is required to play a sport utilizing these kinds of movements. The glute med needs to be “awake” and ready for activity to keep you up right and stable.

Gluteus Minimus– This little guy runs deep in booty. It rests below the glute max and glute med. It works to stabilize your hip and thigh and also helps to lift the leg to the side and rotate the leg inward-so it partners up with the glute med to keep things all balanced out.

People who don’t even want a bigger-better butt *lord help them*, all the things that you want to do just to keep fit-yoga, pilates, dancing, running, walking up the stairs sideways, ice skating, etc .-you’re gonna have a bad time.

you're gonna have a bad time squats meme

But let’s put all that business aside for a second and think about the implications of not having a “strong enough” butt for daily living.

80%+ of my clients pretty much sit on their bottoms for a living. In fact a lot of jobs in the US are sedentary and with poor posture. Which pretty much means sore backs, and weak butts.

Anytime you sit down, you’re basically training your muscles to shut off. In this case-we’re referring to the core muscles. Your core is basically made up of the muscles in the abdomen, lower back, glutes, and hip muscles. When those are inactive, the spine and internal organs are subjected to harm if the muscles aren’t strong enough.

There’s a reason why most bodyguards and bouncers have a pretty good amount of muscle….for protection from of others. 

There are tons of runners and triathlete groups in the town of Bloomington-Normal. You’d be hard press to not find a single one of them that sit down for a living.

Training the behind in this case especially needs to be a priority. Nope, not your chest or your arms or even your calves, it’s all about Da Butt!!

Leon Phelps Da Butt
There are tons of different ways to train your legs as a whole, but which ones work best?! Check it.

As displayed by the man himself, Bret “The Glute Guy” Contreras, the “American Hip Thrust” is a fantastic way to build up your glutes. Why is he called the glute guy? Check out his website and see for yourself.

I use this movement quite regularly in my training to improve power in my squat and deadlift…and to look good in my Lulu-bottoms of course.


Speaking of deadlifts….it’s my favorite exercise. There are many ways to do it; going conventional, sumo, semi-sumo, even using a trap-bar or kettlebell will do. Here’s Ben Bruno performing Trap Bar deadlifts (for lots of reps).


Here’s another good one by my guy, Tony Gentilcore. Shown here is a single leg movement that works very well. Notice this move is training lateral movement.  We like to use a movement like this for our athletes, particularly for hockey players. Still, anything to train the backside properly is a good exercise.


Lastly, here is one of my favorite exercises to train the glutes explosively and also as a conditioning tool-the Kettlebell Swing. Here, Marianne exquisitely demonstrates the movement with not one…but two kettlebells totaling  88lbs!!. How bad ass is that!?

Training your backside is only one piece of the puzzle, but it’s a big piece.

No matter what your goals are-as eluded above-having strong glutes is essential in everyday life. Working on mobility, stabilization, strength and flexibility is going to make everything so much better. Keeping it simple like the exercises above. can make all the difference.

So incorporate some of these into your programming and let me know what you think!!! Happy Training!

Why (Excessive) Drinking Can Eff-Up Your Training Progress

It’s the middle of the week and you’re on vacation heading to STL. Why? Because it’s cheap, you bought Groupons and you need to get the heck outta dodge!! You’re away from the stress at work, or the Bloominton-Normal traffic after 4 pm, or the noisy neighbors the poodle you want to punt across the street  for not letting you nap in the afternoon(*note: I love dogs. I have one. She’s a chocolate-Labrador and her name is Fanny Mae. Mae for short.*). You get there and you enjoy the city and all it’s awesomeness: massage, booze, food, walks around town, booze, the City Museum, booze outside of the restaurant….you get the idea.

Monday comes and you know you’ve got to hit it hard in the gym…

Yeah, right.

I’m pretty sure reading all this you’re probably guessing I know this all too well. Yeah, I sure do. And it happened this week.

alcohol and exercise family guy


What can I say, it was vacation-which rarely happens-and I enjoyed myself. Apparently a bit too much. Went to go and squat this past Monday, and boy was it rough. Even the warm-up sucked.  After my last set of 5 x 8, I pretty much passed out from the heat-but definitely from having too much fun. After a few days of not having a drink, downing water like it’s the last thing on earth, and eating-better-I feel totally different and stronger.

I realize I’m the trainer and this could probably ruin my credibility a bit, but I’m not ashamed to fully admit to living a little…OK a little more than just a little. Sheesh.

However, it is my personal experience that prompted me write this article. To many of us fitness-enthusiast out there, this is common sense. On the other-hand, some that are new to this workout-thing are missing the boat on some of the reasons why their gain’s aren’t….gaining.

While there are plenty of stories and studies out there to tell you why booze and exercise don’t mix, written in this article, a study explains,

“Alcohol can’t be stored as energy in the muscles (since it’s not a nutrient), so it’s stored as fat instead.” 

This makes total sense. I am known for telling my clients that the body works extra hard to get alcohol out of it’s system. So having that-on top of too much of it- and with all the other amazing thing’s the body is trying to do to make it better, it’s going to push back the timing of your results. However, I’m here to tell you that cutting ALL of it out, might not be necessary.

A new study found that “red wine can boost testosterone.” As written about  in this article,

” An enzyme called UGT2B17 attaches specific molecules to testosterone, enabling your body to get rid of it. But researchers at Kingston University in London found that quercetin—a compound in red wine—blocks UGT2B17 in lab studies. That means potentially elevated T levels in your bloodstream, and less in your urine.

What whaaaaaat!!!! Sweet! I’m gonna get jacked drinking wine! Hopefully I’ll look like Arnie.

"muscle-building-alcohol" that's what the caption said on Google. Not kidding.
“muscle-building-alcohol.” That’s what the caption said on Google. Not kidding.

However, the study isn’t conclusive. It goes on to say,

“This is a classic example of a study done in a test tube that potentially might have implications for humans, but there are many steps that need to be taken to see if these findings can be translated to humans,”- Michael Joyner, M.D., an exercise researcher at the Mayo Clinic

The study may carry some potential, it’s better to be safe and keep wine-in this case- to a minimum of 1-2 drinks a day for males. Typically 1 for the ladies (ideally).


Pretty much felt like this guy...
Sometimes, working hard doesn’t mean you get to party harder. If you’re serious about your goals, alcohol consumption should be limited and not necessarily canceled out. At the same time it’s imperative to know how your body feels during your training. Maybe it’s beer. Maybe it’s vodka-or wine that makes you feel like crap no matter how much of it. For me it’s beer and I try to stay away from it when I train seriously for a meet. In fact, I try to stay away from it all. But there is a means to an end.

Everyone has stress and has a way to go about reducing it. For some it’s going to the gym to get a good sweat or go out for a run-or maybe have a drink or two. Moral of the story is there is such a thing as having TOO MUCH of anything. Food, alcohol, exercise, even sex*just kidding*. We all need moderation-but even moderation needs moderation. Just be smart about what you do when you intend to have fun.

For me, I know next time that I need to limit myself because my goals are that important to me. It’s about sacrifice. I realize when I don’t drink I feel the best. I do, however, have a social life and sometimes having one or two can make the best of times. It’s all about what’s important to you? Is it worth not binge drinking for a weekend? Is it worth not drinking at all for X-amount of time? That’s entirely up to you. No matter what, you’re responsible for your actions.

Be smart. Have fun. Train hard. And especially don’t drink and drive.

2 Ways To Get Your Teenage Daughter in The Weight Room: A Trainers Experience

I was originally going to write this post solely based on the premise of two point’s that I’m going to speak about later in this article. Now, I don’t watch tennis very much only when highlights come on ESPN or something-but this is too disturbing to ignore.  This past weekend, a new women’s Wimbledon winner was crowned…but she was also crowned with a bunch of nasty names to go along with it. It was brought to my attention through an article. In case you’re too busy to click on the link, the article was written about the horrible Twitter responses around the world about the 28-year old winner, Marion Bartoli of France.

2013 Wimbledon Winner, Marion Bartoli
2013 Wimbledon Winner, Marion Bartoli

Now, anyone and everyone who has watched tennis are very aware of the “type” of women that have played the sport and won. Each are scrutinized in some form or fashion, but this one really (*pardon my french*) lit a fire under my ass. I have spent the last 6 years training and empowering women to become stronger, more confident and secure in their bodies. If the barrage of these negative comments from people about a woman’s looks in her pursuit of this amazing accomplishment aren’t enough, then what hope do little girls of today have of being great or reaching their goals?

Having said that: GIRLS NEED TO BE IN THE WEIGHT ROOM. It’s hard enough as a trainer to be able to train women without the concern of “being too manly…” or ” too bulky like those bodybuilder women.”  These are legitimate concerns though. For years I would dis-spell these concerns and push them off as “non sense”, but if a client believes it to be true, it’s a problem. This ideology starts early too. I can’t tell you how many times my female clients tell me ” I wish I had this stuff back when I was younger.” The neglect to educate and support women in the weight room isn’t as bad as it was, but it’s nowhere near where it should be. Fortunately, trainers have the help of women who know their stuff, like the “Girls Gone Strong” group and countless women around the world. However, I have seen there are more and more ways teenage girls are beginning to make their way into the weight room.


Besides the weight room, sports are a fantastic way to open a kids mind to just about anything. They become more creative, learn to work well with others, and have a fun and active lifestyle. I have a client who’s 4 year old daughter wants to play baseball like her older brothers after watching them play. She’s a super-athletic kid and it’s always a pleasure when she comes in wanting to push the sled or stand on it while her mom pushes it (*did I mention I like this kid?*). But she doesn’t want to play T-Ball, she wants to play “REAL BASEBALL!!” I love it. Now, at 4 years old they don’t NEED to be in the weight room. In fact, they need to be outside playing (all kids should be, really). As they get older, of course, strength is going to become a more important role in enhancing performance and basic maintenance on the body. This should be done as soon as they can to put on muscle mass (not like a bodybuilder) for athletic performance reasons as well as self-esteem. With the help of sports, they’ll want to become better and work harder. Strength training will be a major component in that pursuit. I have been fortunate to have worked with three girls to help them prepare in their sports (gymnastics and volleyball). The agility, speed, quickness and strength have been apparent after consistent and hard training. Nothing fancy, just doing ol’ fashion weight training in the off-season. We have seen this in all kids here at AF, but as more girls come in, they’re coming in playing a sport OR aspiring to play one.

                                                               Social Support

A great way to spend mother-daughter time (I know...they need to bring their butts down...it was mid-take I promise)
A great way to spend mother-daughter time (I know…they need to bring their butts down…it was mid-take I promise)

For men, women, or children, social support is essential in any aspect of life. No one really wants to do anything alone. Life is just way harder. With the awfulness that you hopefully are now aware of about Marion Bartoli, that’s not the kind of social support I’m talking about. For kids, parents being there at your biggest game of your life or getting you practice on time is essential. But parents being there for their training helps, too. Sure, you can’t be involved in their sports training (unless you’re volunteering) but being a teen, that may not always go well. My dad raced around the bases one day at the end of baseball practice against another dad; the man sprinted around first, and ate dirt rounding second. Scarred for life (that’s not the kind of social support they need either :P).

But a perfect example is of a pair of ladies, a mother and her teenage daughter Cathy and Kayla (in the photo above). Cathy (the mom) wants to get in shape and Kayla (the daughter) is trying out for her high school volleyball team. To me, there’s no reason why they can’t achieve their goals together. Plus, being in the same place, in the weight room, getting their “swole” on (slang for lifting weights with purpose….not bulking) is great for the both of them. It helps to be in a training environment like ours that has all kinds of people just getting after it in the gym. This kind of support isn’t necessary, but it certainly helps. As coaches, we support these kids, too, by holding them accountable for their schooling as well. If they’re not making the grades, if they’re not on the team; if they’re not on the team, they don’t need/deserve their parents forking over hundreds of dollars for their training.

Mind you, these aren’t THE best ways to getting your daughter to weight train, but they’re ways that I have experienced. At the end of the day, regardless of sports or any external factors for weight training; being healthier, having more confidence, and feeling awesome on a daily basis is always a great “excuse” for getting in the weight room. In response to the negative tweets about Marion Bartoli, she says:

“It doesn’t matter, honestly. I am not blonde, yes. That is a fact. Have I dreamt about having a model contract? No. I’m sorry. But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely, yes.”-Marion Bartoli,  Wimbledon Champion

That’s what it’s all about. Ignoring the naysayers, dreaming big, and hardwork. It all pays off in the end.

The best training program for you, is the one you’re not on


There are too many workout programs out there to count. Understandably, quite a few people are confused when the latest and hottest thing comes out with people flailing around, making loud breathing noises, flipping babies upside down (and catching them of course), chasing after chickens, or working out in the snow in your undapants. To the average gym member, this could be daunting.

When I was a youngling, I wanted to get bigger. Being 150ish pounds soak and wet my freshman year in high school, I knew I needed to put on size if I wanted to play football. “You gotta lift some heavy weights kid”, said one of my high school coaches. So, that’s what I did. I followed my schools “Weight Training” Program all four years. By my freshman year in college, I put on about 10#’s, but I wanted more. Was I bigger? Sure, but only by a little. And I still couldn’t bench 225, even for a half of a rep. So I ate and ate, trained 5 days a week, and by my Sophomore year I was around 180 lbs! I became friends with my buddy Dave, who was on the Illinois State football team at one point, and my buddy Mike (“The Hulk”) all lifted together in our dorm-gym at “South Side”. It was epic. These dudes were hyooge to me at the time. We didn’t follow any program in particular. We just lifted. And it worked.

Fast forward to my career as a Personal Trainer at a local gym, where I had 20+ clients, each and everyone of them were different. Some similar in goals and abilities. Programming for these folks at the time was hard because I was more familiar with what I had done for myself to get strong and lean.  A member one day came up to me and asked, “So my girlfriend is doing P90x. She’s done it for 2 months and I could tell a difference in her already. I’ve been doing Spin and some of the other classes for a while and haven’t seen much. Should I do that??” Given my experience with results and training some of my clients, I replied  “I don’t think so. They don’t use any real weights. If you want to get results, you need to lift heavier weights.” Since then, my view point has changed.

A couple years ago, I attended the Perform Better Seminar in Chicago. I was heading to a class, only to run into one of the best Strength Coaches in the world, Coach Dos Remedios (if you don’t know who that is, check him out here). I took the opportunity to ask him

“Coach, how do you feel about Zumba?”

As he always does, he dropped a knowledge bomb on me saying, “I love it…”
“What?!? Why??”

“Ya know…..because it gets my mother off of the couch.”

I thought about that conversation for a long time. From that point on, anytime and every time I saw a new workout program or DVD that came out, I kept thinking to myself “that may be what someone needs to get them to reach their goals.” Something new. Something different. That is the key to constant progression and success.

Whether it’s changing up your rep count, adding in new exercises, going to a different gym, getting a trainer, or even doing Zumba.

                                          “The best program is the one you’re not.” 

Now, don’t go jumping ship and on to the next one. It’s important to note, that if what you are doing is working, stick with it. The downside to all the programs that are out there, is people are suffering from “paralysis by analysis” and are quick to do the thing that their closest friend is doing that got them to lose 20 lbs in 2 months. Programs tend to have an end. Follow through and make sure to give it your all. Full programs aren’t meant to be used “half-assed”. To expect 100% of the results when the same amount of effort isn’t there is foolish.

If you’re not having fun with your “4 easy payments of $59.99” DVD you purchased-yet busting your butt and not even meeting your short term goals, it would be wise to consider switching gears. When that time comes, consult with a fitness pro or shop around for a trainer to build you a program that fit’s YOUR needs. It just may be the best thing you haven’t done…yet.