Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Gillian's pro debut this weekend and new site

Gillian will be in San Diego for her IFBB pro debut this weekend!  Her new site was also launched so please go check it out.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff

The other day I had to make a trip into Whore Foods, aka, Whole Foods.  Why is it that for some reason I still expect to walk in there and see a bunch of people who lift and are in shape, but instead it's always filled with fat hippies?

And how do these people afford all the shit in there?  I see grocery carts filled up and can only think "how the hell do you pay for that week in and week out?  And why do you care about organic and shit when it's very apparent that you have no care of what kind of shape you are in?"  This is mesmerizing to me.

While there, I found some organic protein powder.  By a brand called "Warrior."  On the label it had words like "hard-core" and "raw".  It also had "vegan" on there too.  All of those words don't go together.  I am absolutely positive that if the Vikings knew what Vegans were they would have invaded those areas without weapons and just beat them all to death with their hands for the pleasure of it.

I've been asked about a million times about what it was like to hang out with Dmitry.  I tried to address it the best I could.  He doesn't follow a special diet.  He ate what he felt like eating it appeared to me.  He has a HUGE noggin.  I mean, his head is twice the size of a normal dude's head.  And his hands are literally the biggest I've ever seen.  Just ungodly big.  He's super serious about 90% of the time.  Or at least he was around me.  He would loosen up at lunch a lot, and definitely when he was teaching.  But otherwise, he's pretty stoic.  I still liked him a lot.

Edit:  Charles told me last night that Dmitry has loosened up a lot as the tour has gone on.  So my guess is, he's one of those people that takes a while to get comfortable around people enough to be himself.

I am working on a video collage for my trip to Montreal.  Hang in there, it may take a few weeks because I still don't have all the video I need from the trip in order to get it done.  Once I do, I think it's going to be pretty awesome.

I am working on a potential seminar tour in Australia alongside another guy.  It's in the initial planning phases but it looks like barring some logistical issues, it will happen.  Most likely will happen in late March and early April.  From what I can tell it will be Sydney and Melbourne.

I often run into people who want to talk about lifting or remark about my appearance and say the strangest things.  Sometimes people say things like "I know when I was in the gym often I felt so good all the time.  I bet you feel good staying in shape like that."

This got me to thinking.  I don't know that after so many years, that you "feel great" all the time.  I do know that when I was doing more conditioning and cared less about weight on the bar that I did actually FEEL better.  When my bodyweight was in the high 230's and low 240's and I had a big gas tank, I felt pretty awesome.  But as I've gotten bigger and bigger over the years, I wouldn't say that's the same.  Not only that, but after more than 2 decades of this, I have a lot of cracks and pops on a daily basis.  My shoulder both pop, very loudly, first thing in the morning.  Almost as if they are out of socket.

On plane rides my hips hurt for days afterwards.  My IT bands get painful and my elbows are generally a wreck.

I think that there are types of training that can make you "feel good".  Lifting for the pump and doing some cardio to stay in shape (conditioning wise I mean) does indeed tend to make one feel better.  But pushing any types of limits in the weight room eventually beats the shit out of you.  And often times, the shit beating is a lasting thing.

I have two torn biceps, a badly torn adductor, tore the muscle belly in my quad, a permanently separated shoulder, and all sorts of other aches and pains that come and go.  I'm not REALLY complaining.  Honest.  I consider it an occupational hazard.  I'm just saying the physical manifestation of what many overly muscular people have, came at price.  When I was at the Mr. Olympia I watched Ronnie Coleman hobble out on the stage gingerly.  He had undergone surgery for a dual hip replacement.  My first thought was "that's what it does."  All the years of moving enormous weights, and training in a way that constantly asks the body to move forward past something it doesn't really want to do also means paying for it.

Interestingly enough, I had a talk with another guy at the Olympia who told me he had a conversation with an older powerlifter who said "if you think that's pain, then quit lifting and see what happens.  It's worse.  The pain becomes exponentially worse.  Now you're no longer moving like you did, and you're not taking the joints through those ranges of motion and it actually gets worse.  Pain wise."

Truth is, I never thought of that.  But probably because I can't ever see a time when I don't lift.  I know there will be a day come where I am just lifting because it's habit, and because I love training and won't give a shit about hitting 1 rep max PR's.  Certainly there will come a day when I won't give a shit about competing.  That day comes for almost everyone.  I have lots of other things I want to accomplish in life that I know will eventually be more important to me than what I can lift, or how I look.  I think that's the natural progression of life and all of the endeavours we undertake.  No different than how pro athletes wake up one day and go "ok, that's it.  I've had my fill."  And then they go on to other things that fill that void of competing or trying to get better at that particular craft.  That is, if they were smart.

I think it's important to be cultivating things in your life that will be there for you once that desire has waned.  Lots of people don't think about this when they are immersed in a particular passion.  Especially physical ones.  Never giving a single thought to the fact that one day, those gifts and abilities will be gone, and there will be this gaping hole where that competitive part of you used to be.  I have read several articles from former athletes who have indeed struggled to fill that void left by competing.  They are sitting around a big mansion with lots of money in the bank, but all the things that filled their life with happiness in regards to competing is gone.  And nothing is there to take the place of it.  When you empty yourself into a single thing like that, then it can be hard to find your place in this world once it's gone.  No different than a sport or a relationship or a job.  Virtually all of these things are temporal.  And this is why it's important to find other things to fill your life with, lest you live a life of wanting when all of that is removed.

People can get short sighted in the middle of living something that consumes them.  They can forget that it's very possible to wake up tomorrow and have all of that taken away very quickly.  What else is it that you're filling your life with outside of that one thing?  In a pie chart, if one thing is taking up too much of that space, then how are you going to fill it once it is empty?

That's really up to you.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bench assistance with PR

Bodyweight - 265

Press Behind the neck -

155 x 5
185 x 5
225 x 4
275 x 3
315 x 5 PR

Db Bench Press - 100's x 35, 25

Hammer Curls - 4x20
Rear Delt Machine - 4x20

Notes - Needed this real bad.  My arms have been killing me for a few weeks but I figured out that I had basically some overuse in the brachialis.  Been doing high rep hammer curls every day for the past 4 days and the pain has subsided tremendously.  Lots better.  I still had SOME pain during this session but it was manageable.  Goes to show you how limiting pain can be in your training.  Staying healthy and feeling good are really huge factors in being able to lift well.  Another Captain Obvious type statement.

Anyway, counting this as a "PR" because the last time I did this for 5 I was about 20 pounds heavier.  So this feels excellent.

Cookie cutter routines

Cookie cutter routines are often shit on on the net as being substandard because everyone thinks they are a special snowflake and need custom tailoring to their routine.

When I was a novice and intermediate, we didn't have personal trainers for the most part. We sure has shit didn't have online trainers. You bought books or magazines and went to work.

I used many of these cookie cutter routines with great success. Something you should remember is, it's not about the "routine" but about the principles the routine is built upon.

- Progression

- Hard work

- Basic movements

- Training economy

- Frequency/Volume/Intensity management

Most cookie cutter routines that I found during those times took all of these things into factor in some way, shape, or form. That's because all of these principles have been around since the barbell was invented. As I've stated before in regards to all of these dudes doing studies trying to figure shit out....we already have. We've had decades and decades of clinical research going on right in the gym.

The reason a full body 3 x a week workout based around squats, presses, and various pulls is popular is because it works. It's a great way to begin training, or get out of a rut because it eliminates the bullshit in your program.

The reason most principles end up sticking around is because someone tries them, found they worked, then shared it with others and they too benefited and passed on their success with it.

Hell, even cookie cutter diets "work" so long as they are based around some simple principles like calories in vs calories out, or if you need to gain weight account for supporting your activities then a surplus for growth.

Lots of very advanced lifters put together cookie cutter routines based off of their own experience and/or the fact that they put many others through these same routines with great results.

So don't shit on a "cookie cutter" routine because of the fact that it's not some special snowflake. So long as a routine is based around a set of sound principles then that are in line with the goals you're trying to accomplish, then it's probably a solid option to use for your training plan.

Some "cookie cutter" routines I come back to fairly often are these - 

Day 1 - Legs
Day 2 - Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
Day 3 - Back, Biceps

Day 1 - Chest and Back
Day 2 - Legs
Day 3 - Shoulders and Arms

For powerlifting - 

Day 1 - Squat and deadlift
Day 2 - Bench
Day 3 - Squat and deadlift assistance work
Day 4 - Bench assistance

Day 1 - Squat and assistance
Day 2 - Bench and assistance
Day 3 - Deadlift and assistance 

For specializing a lift or bodypart - 

Day 1 - Specialization 
Day 2 - Maintenance work for everything else
Day 3 - Specialization 
Day 4 - Maintenance work for everything else

Of course these are the the skeleton parts of the routine.  From there, anyone can fill in all of the other pieces to massage it to address their own priorities.  

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Earn it - My article at

One of the biggest takeaways I got from the week I spent hanging out with Poliquin and Klokov came from a conversation I had with Dmitry at dinner the last night he was there.

He was talking about how when they were training a major competition, and that training would get planned for the entire year. There would be nothing left to chance. There was no “winging it” or “instinctual training”. The whole year was mapped out and every workout was accounted for.

In that time, there was nothing else going on in their lives. No partying, no social life, no back yard bar-b-q’s with your buddies. It was, in Dmitry’s words, “training…all training.”

Dmitry said during that year they would also slowly diet down into their weight classes. So their food intake, or lack of, had to be accounted for as well. Despite what you’ve read on the net or think you know, he was almost 270 pounds when he was training. He would diet down to the 105 kilo class over the course of training as part of prep for competition.

After much thought, I realized that for Dmitry, to do a 400 pound clean and press shortly after waking up with no breakfast, coffee, or water wasn’t doable just because he was a freak. Let’s be clear about that, he is. But it was also something he was capable of because he was a freak that was a product of his environment. I mean, when you’ve spent years and years living that kind of discipline then traveling around doing seminars, and working up to sub maximal weights on little sleep and no food probably isn’t a big deal for him. It looks like a big deal to us, but I imagine his training in preparation for the Olympics was infinitely harder.

The discipline those guys have when preparing for a competition appears to me, to be far greater than what we see from the typical American lifter. Many, not all of course but many, write out a routine but are more or less haphazard in their training, aren’t as consistent as they should be. Not only that, the other parts of their life reflect such inconsistency as well. Eating and sleeping aren’t made priorities. Guys eat a lot of poor quality food, and get a lot of poor quality sleep. That part of “training” isn’t really factored in as being quite as important as the training itself. Yet the people at the very top, even the genetically gifted, eventually realize that if they are going to grab that last 1% then everything that can contribute to them getting better, has to be accounted for. Nothing can be left out. No stone could be unturned.

Upon thinking about all of this, I realized that despite how disciplined we think we are, there is always room for improvement. There just has to be a change in mental approach.

Nothing given; everything earned.

That rest day? Earn it.

Those extra calories? Earn them (you probably don’t need 1000 grams of carbs after an arm workout)

Your goals? Earn them.

I was thinking about all of this yesterday as I sat on the couch with a cold, with every part of me saying “you don’t really want to go train legs again. You just did squats yesterday.”

I wasn’t able to get my squat assistance and deadlifts in afterwards because my arms have been killing me every workout, and the pain is very intense. However, I have a meet in a few weeks, and I realized what a little bitch I was being about it, then packed my shit up, went to the gym, and did 4 sets of 8 on hacks, and then pulled 635 for two sets of doubles from a deficit. The cycle had called for 675 x 2, however because of the factors mentioned before, I had to reduce intensity a bit, and increase volume a little instead. I think this worked well, and at least I got my work in and was able to leave knowing the work was done. If I do well enough at the meet, it will be because I earned it. If I had missed this training session, maybe I am left thinking that a part of my performance suffered because I didn’t “man up” enough to get the work done.

We often think we have earned things we have not. I mean how often have you heard someone say “I did cardio this morning, so I earned this piece of cake.”

What’s going on in this situation? If you did cardio then I assume that your goal is probably fat loss. So shouldn’t the mentality be that since you’re supposed to be in fat loss mode, that what is being earned is the loss of fat? Not the cake?

As strength athletes we tend to understand this a little better when it comes to weight on the bar. Bodybuilders tend to understand this a little better in terms of gaining muscle mass or a new degree of leanness. So there is context there but far more often than not, it only exists in a vacuum. It’s simplified.

“I need to train to get stronger, because I want to earn more weight on the bar.”

“I need to train to get bigger, because I want to mass on my (inert bodypart name here).”

For non-competitors I think it’s a little more difficult to get into this mode. Especially from an all encompassing standpoint because the body doesn’t want to change. So the bare minimum is done in most facets yet frustration sets in when change doesn’t happen fast enough. I think a large part of that is because the mentality is, they are focused on earning the wrong things. People spend all week being disciplined on a diet to “earn” a cheat meal. A more focused mentality would be to “earn” more pounds off the scale or earn a lower bodyfat percentage. With a simple change in ideology, the earning of the cheat meal gets pushed aside, and now that person could/should be more focused on being more disciplined in their diet and conditioning to earn something else.

This same backwards mentality creeps its way into training as well. People want to earn more pounds on the bar, but often get trapped in a cycle of testing, testing, testing, to see if the new poundage is there. Forgetting that training for it is the earning part. Put in the time training, rather than testing, and the new PR is earned more quickly.

Just so that we don’t lose context, Dmitry was in a rare class of people whose only job was to train. Most of us aren’t afforded this luxury. We don’t get to base our entire day around our time in the gym, plan naps, plan meals, etc so forth and so on. Most of us have normal jobs, have kids, and significant others that need or expect a certain amount of personal attention from us. So we have to strive for balance between all of those things, and also find a way to make training as efficient as possible.

Understanding balance -

The key to balance, I have found, is to understand you can’t have balance all the time. Balance should be seen as something attained over time, instead of something maintained at ALL times. At certain times, you will need to prioritize one thing while something else takes a bit of a backseat for a while. If you want to get in the best shape of your life, and have a time frame in which you desire to do this, then for that time frame you will need to make that undertaking a priority. When that goal is met, then you can move the things you neglected back to the forefront. It’s important to have a strong support system during these times that understand why you are doing what you are doing, and understand their role. People who aren’t on board with what you are trying to accomplish will often make reaching your goals much harder than it has to be. There has to be understanding and patience on their part in order to help you make these things a priority.

Understanding all the facets that will help you succeed -

Sleep, stress, diet, training, and supplementation will all play a role in helping you reach your goals as quickly as possible. When you only account for two things, like diet and training, then you’re shortchange the entire process by a significant amount. Now the process will take longer. It’s been proven through studies that less sleep equals less fat loss. I think anecdotally we all know that less sleep also means less recovery. Now training will be sub-optimal and the entire cycle of getting better is short circuited. Progress will be slower, and reaching the goal will take longer. If you want to get from point A to point E, then take B,C, and D into account.

Don’t deviate from your plan unless it’s absolutely required by setting HARD goals -

Everyone talks about goal setting, and I do as well. And it’s vitally important to not only set specific and realistic goals, but difficult goals as well. When is the last time you went 30 days without eating anything except what was on your diet? When is the last time you mapped out a training cycle and didn’t miss a workout for 60 days? When is the last time you mapped out a three month training cycle and didn’t miss a lift for those three months? When is the last time you were in bed every single night at the same time? Again, when you start factoring in all of these things then how you plan may look drastically different. Someone who is overzealous may sit down and say they are going to train 6 days a week, twice a day some of those days, then realize after a week that their battered body just isn’t going to hold up to this for months on end. Then the plan has to be scrapped. You should be able to sit down and write out two well planned 6 week training cycles, and not deviate from anything on that paper unless injury or “life” happens.

Conclusion –

If training has sucked, or if progress has been minimal for a while then maybe you need a self assessment in how disciplined you’ve been with all the facets that play a part in success. Maybe you’ve been setting goals trying to earn all the wrong things. Maybe your self discipline needs a swift kick in the ass. If that’s the case, refocus and find all the right things you need to be earning.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What to look for in a coach

So a while back I listed off the things that you as a client should do for your coach.

Here's the other side.  How to find a proper coach, since that topic has come up a few times.

- What has his or her clients accomplished?  

There's a big debate about a myriad of the facets a coach should be in possession of.  I read an article about how he or she should have this much education, this much personal experience in the task at hand, etc.

But what it really all boils down to is one thing...does that coach get results?  He or she should have a list of clients that can show tangible results.  It doesn't matter if they are elite level athletes or the soccer mom that wanted to get in the best shape of her life.  Results are all that matter.

It is true that experience and education do matter.  And in my personal opinion someone should have at least a modicum of personal success in the field they are teaching.  I mean, if you're going to teach people how to build huge biceps and no one can tell you've ever picked up a barbell, then that might be a hard sell.  On the flip side, if you've taken a bunch of skinny runts and put big biceps on them, you might know what you're talking about.

Either way, a coach with experience should be able to show you the athletes he's made better.

As I noted in the previous article related to this, once you hire a coach it isn't their job to earn your trust.  You are making the decision to trust in a coach when you hire them.  Ask for the accomplishments of said coach before you hire them so that you can do that.

- A coach's own personal achievements does not make them a great coach.

There is a lot of this going on at the online coaching level now.

There are people who are elite level strength athletes or fitness/physique/bikini/bodybuilder competitors that have clients based off of their success as a competitor.

This drives me insane.

Just because you have big lifts or just because you did two shows, doesn't make you an expert in teaching and educating others.  There's a lot of women out there right now that have done well in women's "show" that don't have a clue as how to train or diet.  They do well because they have great genetics and respond well to what some other coach did for them.  They then turn around and think that because they do well in competition, that they are now just as good at getting others ready for such things.

Likewise there are bodybuilders and powerlifters out there that are at the top of those sports that believe because of that, and that alone, that they would be or are, great coaches.  George Farah is one of the best diet coaches in all of bodybuilding.  I'm not sure how many Olympia competitors he did dieting for come Olympia time, but it was something like 7 of the top 10 guys.  As a competitor himself, George was merely average.

Often times, the guys that things come easiest for, are the last people you want to go to for help.  When I was working with Klokov last week, he admitted to me that he had never had an issue with mobility.  He was always mobile and flexible.  So when he was doing seminars earlier in the year and people asked him about how to get more mobile for certain movements, he was clueless.  Yet people often look at those best in their field, and think they are the most capable at teaching that skill.

One has nothing to do with the other.  You're better off finding someone that had to work their ass off to find success than someone who showed up and was gifted from day 1.  Now, this doesn't mean that certain guys at the top don't know shit.  There are plenty.  I'm just saying that a persons level of success at their sport isn't a clear indicator that they are knowledgeable at teaching.  Understand the difference.

Your coach should be professional - 

One of the things about personal training, especially in person, is the lack of proximity that comes with it.  What I mean by that is, you're literally going to be close to that person.  Physically.

I've heard from dozens of women who got rid of coaches because of their inability to keep from either flirting, or being somewhat inappropriate before, during, and after training.

So when I talk about comfort here, I'm not talking about level of effort during training.  I'm talking about how he or she acts with you on a personal level.  A coach should treat his or her job as a professional job.  I don't care if they are coaching out of their home, at the Y, or at a giant commercial gym.  If said coach gazing at your tits the whole training session then his (or her!) mind may not be where it needs to be.  That is, making sure you are working correctly in every facet.

Sure, some people hook up in the training world.  I go back and forth on this.  If you find a love connection with your coach, hey that's great.  But I hold the opinion that coach's shouldn't be inappropriate with their clients.  Oh and as a client, you may have a coach that doesn't appreciate you being inappropriate with them.  I was training a woman out of her house one time.....never mind.

- Conclusion 

I could write a book on what to look for in a coach, but these three things should cover it fairly well.

Make sure your coach has a history of producing results.

Remember that their own personal achievement in a sport isn't indicative of their ability as a coach.

Your coach should be professional in the way they work with you as a person.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Training today - 1 week of meet prep left

No belt no wrap squats -









Pause Squats - 500x2x5

All easy even though I feel like hammered shit. My arms are hurting so bad I couldn't pull after. Weight is also down to 260. Not sure why. Maybe Ebola?

Will deadlift tomorrow and do leg assistance work after that.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Montreal overview

I'm going to do this more or less in bullet fashion so that you all can have more or less a high level overview about the week.  Also, it's not in any particular fashion in regards to the week there.

  • If there is one thing I've harped on for a while, it's that people who are naturally gifted aren't the ones to go to for information.  This might seem contradictory to the fact that I tell people to go to these seminars because you will get information from two of the best guys in their field but allow me to explain.  
    • Dmitry made a comment to me that one of the biggest problems he seems with people is their inability to keep their rear heel on the ground when the front foot is very far forwards.  Not only that, but when in the bottom position of anything squat related a lot people have trouble with this.  Dmitry had no idea how to fix it even though he was asked all the time.  It's because Dmitry was naturally very flexible.  So it wasn't something he ever had to work on.  
    • I bring this up because so often on the net, people copy the routines of guys that have great lifts, bypassing the fact that many of those guys were BUILT for that lift, and are great at it naturally.  Those really aren't the people you want to go to in order to get great at that lift.  It's the people that have good or great particular lifts that had to work their ass off to get there in order to achieve those results.  
    • Charles had a great number of mobility exercises that were not only practical, but worked fairly quickly.  The mobility drills that Charles implemented were essentially ways to mimic what the lifter was trying to accomplish in that manner.  So if a guy couldn't get his heel on the ground, he had a great calf stretch (great meaning painful) that mimicked the motion the lifter was trying to get mobility in.  Not a bunch of weird bullshit I often see on the net.  
  • Dmitry was big on slow eccentric and concentric training for making the muscles stronger.  This is something that is often scoffed at by most, but Dmitry was a HUGE believer in it.  People have made fun of TUT and things like "superslow reps" for a long time, but I knew from experience that it had great merit.  Dmitry liked to do a lot of his squats and deadlifts slow in both the concentric and eccentric portions.  So he would do snatch grip deficit deadlifts with a very slow concentric, making the glutes work as hard as possible the whole time, keeping tension on them.  This clearly worked, as I watched the body of the participants shake after a few sets.  One of the girls there remarked to me "I'm so tired after just a few sets."  
    • To add to this, Dmitry was BIG on getting the muscles stronger in order to build the lifts.  This had me nodding in agreement a lot.  It's something I don't see a lot of powerlifters doing in their offseason when not training for a competition.  That is, they are still in "build the lift" mode and not in "make the muscle bigger and stronger mode".  The latter will carryover directly into the former.  What's funny is, the old timers knew this but it seems to be lost on a large portion of the guys lifting today.  I see guys not training for a meet still trying to hit 1 rep maxes in the gym the whole offseason.  I honestly believe this is due to youtube, and I'm not even kidding.  
    • Spend your offseason trying to get bigger, and get the muscles involved with the lift stronger via reps.  Not "testing".  I've harped on this so many times, but it was great to hear that Dmitry had the exact same philosophy.  
  • Despite his weight class, Dmitry was generally 265+ pounds when training for the Olympics.  He would diet down to make the 105 kilo class.  
  • Charles knows all sorts of witchcraft to make you mobile, like....instantly.  Had I not been there to see all of this shit I would have told someone they were a liar.  It's the strangest stuff I've ever seen in 25 years of lifting.  One day he made everyone more mobile in the shoulders by doing the craziest shit I've ever seen, and then on another day he made someone Jean Claude Van Damme leg split flexible in seconds by doing something totally unrelated to their lower body.  He said "I don't have time to stretch out big guys so I do this instead."  If you want to know what it was, go attend one of these seminars.  Watching this shit is worth the price alone.  
  • Dmitry doesn't like foam rollers.  He likes to use the barbell for that.  He has a bunch of ways to use the bar like most people use the foam roller.  And he does this a lot.  He puts the bar in the rack at waist height and then puts his low back on it, and goes up and down.  Then sits on it and does hamstrings.  He will lay sideways on a bench, and run the bar up and down his body.  Basically, he used the barbell for all the ways most people use foam rolling.  He thought foam rolling was silly when all this time you had a barbell to be doing this shit on.  
  • Charles has forgotten more shit about strength, speed, and power than I currently know.  And I know two or four things.  But he had a way to test for every predictor in terms of athletic success.  And this isn't conjecture.  It's from years and years of actually application in the field.  It's another reason why I don't care for these fucking science lab rats who put out studies yet have zero application of their "studies" outside of control groups.  But Charles could tell you, based on just about any athletic function, where a guy needed to get stronger, and how much stronger, in order to improve a certain part of his athletic performance.  This is the kind of stuff that people should be paying attention to.  Not some PubMed bullshit performed on a dozen people for 6 weeks.  
    • For example, Charles talked about increasing sprinting ability.  You can increase sprinting from a strength standpoint, by getting the optimal strength balance between the vastus medialis and the hamstring.  Of course, Charles had ways of testing this, and correcting it as well.  And these are the kinds of things he knows that puts him ahead of so many other people in the strength and speed world.  
  • On day 1 of Dmitry being there, after he was done with his Olympic stuff and the class cleared out for lecture he asked him to go train with him.  Well how am I going to say no to that?  So I asked him what we would do.  He wanted to bench press, oddly enough.  All he did was 5 sets of 12-15 at 225.  Very smoothly and controlled.  While we were benching, he looked around at the massive gym we were in and goes..."I don't understand all of these machines?"  "You mean, you don't know how to use them or don't like them?" I said.  He hesitated for a moment then said "Both."  I laughed and then he said, "Everything you want to do, can be done with barbell.  Just barbell.  In Russia just barball only.  And everything can be done.  If injured, then yes, I can see using them some that, but otherwise, barbell only."  
  • If you plan on attending one of these seminars, don't fuck around in Charles class.  He will yell at you and tell you get your shit straight.  I applauded this because there's nothing I hate worse than being in a group trying to learn something, while people are laughing and talking and make it difficult to hear the speaker.  You've been warned.  
  • Charles has an assistant named Juan Carlos, who knows the Poliquin stuff very well.  But also, he is a great dude, and because he's from the Dominican Republic, talks just like Al Pacino in Scarface.  So all week I was talking to him in a very exaggerated Scarface accent.  Juan is not only a smart guy, but incredibly thoughtful and courteous.  The time I got to hang around with him was entertaining to say the least, and I am looking forward to hanging with him again very soon.  
  • Charles made a great point about picking athletes based on strength vs speed.  Strength has the potential to increase by more than 300%.  While speed only has the ability to increase by 10-20%.  So if you have the choice of two athletes, this is pretty simple.  You pick the fast guy and make him stronger.  The stronger guy has less potential for getting fast.  I know this seems like an obvious quote, but you'd be surprised how many people don't get this.  Strength has a lot higher ceiling to be attained.  Where speed does not.  This is all genetic based of course, so if you're talking athletes, the guy that is fast right out of the gate is always going to be fast.  Where the slow, but strong guy, probably isn't going to get a lot faster than he currently is.  
  • Charles favorite lift for developing the posterior chain is the snatch grip deadlift.  I have known this for a long time but hate this lift.  LOL.  One thing I have noticed the last few years are people doing this lift off a box.  In other words, the plates sitting on boxes, reducing the range of motion for the lift.  This made ZERO sense to me.  The entire purpose of doing a snatch grip pull was the EXTEND the range of motion, so that the glutes and hamstrings became more involved.  When you reduce the range of motion, you lose that effect.  So why would you do this?  I really have no clue.  It's like people don't know how to leave well enough alone and get the benefits from something just as it is.  
  • I really don't know how Dmitry does it.  The guy has done almost 100 seminars in the last year plus.  He still shows up each day full of energy and enthusiasm and does inhuman lifting.  Sometimes twice a day.
  • As per the above point, Dmitry talked about how in Russian, they planned their training cycles out for a year at a time.  "12 months out, you do this.  10 months out you do this.  8 months out you do this.  During competition training, it's all competition.  Nothing else.  Nothing outside of that.  You train hard, twice a day, most days."  This really resonated with me and made me really think about how serious they take their training, where in America we constantly think of training as a hobby, or just something we do that we enjoy.  I'm not saying they don't enjoy their training, but their mental approach to training is completely different.  Training is a SERIOUS thing.  And they take a long time to prepare for competition.  "Training only."  He repeated this phrase several times to me.  
For some misc shit - 

  • The Canadian people are really friggin nice, and polite.  I mean overly so.  
  • But they can't drive.  Every cabbie I had made me feel like life was about to end in seconds.  
  • Also, you Montreal people have no idea what a stop sign is.  You really don't.  I almost got ran over a dozen times because you just speed right through them with no regards for pedestrians.  
  • Due to peer pressure I ended up drinking part of a pumpkin spice latte.  It was delicious.  Fine, I'm a basic bitch.  
  • I have too many Dmitry jokes to list.  So for some of them.....
    • I told Dmitry a joke..."what's red and bad for your teeth?  A brick."  He didn't laugh.  The next day at lunch he looks at me and goes "I think about  It's very funny.  I like it."  
    • Dmitry made me sit "bitch" at lunch one day.  So he made me sit on the inside of the seating at lunch.  I told him "I will get you back."  So that afternoon I arranged it so that he was forced to sit in the back with me on the ride home.  When he got in I said "look who is sitting bitch now."  He didn't laugh at that either.  I told Ed Coan this and Ed said "I woulda put my arm around him at that point."  I wasn't comfortable enough to do that yet.  
    • In one of the group photos Dmitry was actually touching my butt.  I asked him why, and he laughed.  So I touched his butt back.  Be jealous ladies.  
    • The last night there, Dmitry ordered dinner.  For both of us.  I mean I didn't even get a say.  He ate a grilled chicken ceasar salad and drank white wine.  "No vodka?" I said.  "No, I never drink vodka."  So there you go.  
    • His preferred training music is hip hop.  NOT RAP.  He was very adamant there was a difference in rap and hip hop.  
  • I made fun of the various people's accents over the course of the week.  By the end, I had times where I almost forgot how to speak normally.  I'm not even joking.  The last night of dinner with Dmitry I was literally speaking in this bullshit Russian accent and I had to catch myself.  When I talked to Juan, Scarface would appear.  My Australian accent needs work I think.
  • I did get to set Dmitry straight on one thing about lifting.  He told me "powerlifters no need for speed or explosiveness."  I told him I did not agree.  That speed was often the reason someone made or missed a lift.  He said "when he does deadlift, and bar slows, he can still make the lift.  Because why?"  I said "right, he can grind it out."  He nodded, as if he had won.  I then told him "but if he doesn't have enough speed at the start of the lift, then he will fail at the transition point.  So if you don't have enough power from the bottom, then you don't make the lift.  So you do need speed and explosiveness."  He contemplated this for a while and goes "yes, I see.  Very good."  

No matter what, when I write these I always feel like I'm forgetting to mention something. 

I want to give a HUGE thank you to Charles Poliquin for inviting me out.  I have so much respect and admiration for Charles.  Mainly, I am grateful for our friendship and his ability to call me and tell me I'm a "fat cunt".  Love you, buddy.  

In all seriousness, I feel honored to have the ability to ring Charles up just to talk about training and life, and learn from a guy who has talked the talk and walked the walk for so long.  

I want to say thank you to Juan for keeping me entertained all week, for being a man with tremendous courtesy and thoughtfulness.  Juan comes across as super intense when you first meet him, but it's all just on the surface.  Underneath, he's an incredibly gracious dude and I look forward to spending more time with him.  

Thanks to Daine for the blind date.  LOL.  I suppose that's another story all together, and one I will write about after we kick things off for next year.  

Thanks to Dmitry, for being very Russian (inside joke), and for letting me annoy the fuck out of him without stabbing me.  

Thanks to Vince of ATP who gave me a very good sleeping supplement that I used with great success while I was there.  

Also a big thanks to so many people that made the trip worth remembering.  I had a time for the ages and it was easily the best trip I've taken in a long time.  Though I was pretty exhausted by the end of each day, I came away from the trip with enough awesome memories and experiences to last until I go to the Dominican Republic next month.  HAH!

Some links to check out below..........

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Montreal - Day 4

I met Daine for breakfast this morning sans Dmitry.  I kind of figured that he'd be absent since he only had a few hours of sleep from the night before, trained, then taught all day.  

We went back to the hotel and I waited in the lobby for a while, as Daine had to grab some stuff from back in the room.  Dmitry came down and told me that sure enough, he got back to the room and passed out shortly after.  

We had to move to a new location for the seminar and Dmitry got right into his training for the morning.  

From the time we picked him up, to the time he cleaned 400 pounds and push pressed it with ease, it was 45 minutes tops.  So you're talking about a guy that can roll out of bed, no meal, no coffee, no water, and push press 400 pounds.  As I wrote on my Facebook, the next time someone is acting like king shit, or you're letting your own ego get out of control, just remember that there is some guy out there that can roll out of bed and easily move weights you can never dream about.  And he can do it without ego, without being a braggart, and think very little of it.  

Dmitry went over cleans and supplemental work for them after this.  As I noted before, I came away very impressed with his passion and work that he gives each individual person.  It's really incredible to watch someone of his stature to give that kind of effort.  

I also can't say enough about Charles as well. 

I'm going to say this right now.  I watched the most incredible thing I've ever seen in 25 years of lifting today.  I don't mean that exaggerating, and I'm not embellishing.  

Charles was working on people with tight hamstrings.  So one of the subjects got on the table to be examined for hamstring (lack of?) flexibility.  To say she was tight would be like calling the Grand Canyon a ditch.  Her hamstring mobility was exceptionally poor.  

Charles performed this series of witchcraft, no different than for the shoulder flexibility, and then had the other guy measure her hamstring mobility.  Instantly she had the flexibility of a fucking ballerina or gymnast.  Again, I'm not even embellishing.  Dmitry was across from me and we both looked at each other like "holy fucking shit!"  Again, in 25 years, I've never seen anything like it, and I'm telling you that if someone told me this, I would flat out call bullshit.  Had I not seen it with my own eyes, as did the other 30 or so people there, I wouldn't believe it.  

I am telling you, if you have a chance to get to one of Charles' seminars, book it and pay however much it costs to be there.  It will be well worth your time and money.  

At lunch is where the hilarity ensued.  

So if you read the excerpt from yesterday, I said that I told Dmitry the joke about the brick.  

"What's red and bad for your teeth?.........a brick."

We are sitting there at lunch and Dmitry looks at me and goes.....

"So I was thinking about your joke.  The brick one.  And, I get it.  It's very funny."  

The entire table exploded into laughter.  I could only think of Dmitry sitting in his room thinking about this joke for hours and hours and hours until it finally hit him.  And then he laughs.  

Shortly after this, the waitress comes to take our order and Dmitry is trying to order a "coke".  Because of his accent she can't quite make out what he is saying.  So she starts trying to mouth the word......cock.  Daine, at this point goes, "not cock!"  

"COCA COLA!" Dmitry says, enthusiastically.  And she finally gets it.

She turns to me and asks what I will have to drink and tell her "yes, I'll have a diet cock."  

Easily the most I've seen Klokov laugh since he arrived.  

Dmitry then explains to me about jokes in Russia.  That people don't joke, unless they undoubtedly preface it with the fact that IT IS just a joke.  That fucking around can get you stabbed, and then he proceeds to fake stab me in the ribs....not gently.  

We returned to the seminar and Dmitry went over other portions of the clean, and Charles did more insanely good lecture.  

As we were leaving Dmitry told me "let's squat tomorrow."  I agreed.  Then he said "and competition."  

"Of what?"  

"Deficit handstand push ups.  As many as you can."

"Ok.  What's your best?"


I've never done them before.  No fucks given.  If I get buried by one of the best in the world, I won't be hanging my head in shame.  Just being here has been an unbelievable privilege and probably the highlights of the 25 years I've been lifting.

I STRONGLY suggest anyone in the area of any of these seminars to make it out, and learn from both Charles and Dmitry.  There is a wealth of information being given that is beyond measure.  I also highly recommend looking into Charles' Kinetic Chain Modulation course as well, or any of his courses.  

If you want to sign up for any of these, check out the clean health website.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Montreal - Day 3

Woke up this morning and had coffee with Daine McDonald.  Daine runs and is actually the guy responsible for the Poliquin/Klokov seminars.  Lucky for me, Charles essentially set Daine and I up on a blind date last night for dinner.

Klokov joined us this morning for coffee and a short time after we all met at Kitchen 73 for breakfast (where we have been doing every morning since I got here).  

The best part of breakfast was Dmitry telling everyone in his thick Russian accent, "I don't eat breakfast.  I never eat breakfast.  I train....then I eat later."  

Then he proceeds to order a stack of pancakes covered in powdered sugar, an omelette, four slices of toast, and fruit.  

When we arrived in Atlantis, Dmitry went through his snatch workout then everyone headed upstairs to listen to Charles do lecture.  Klokov asked me if I wanted to train, so of course I went to train with him.  He looked around at the gym for a while and said to me "I don't understand all the machines."

"You mean you don't know how to use them or you don't like them?" I said.

"............both."  he said.  

Then we proceeded to do some bench.  Nothing heavy.  Dmitry did a bunch of sets with 225 and I worked up to 365 for a few sets.  My elbows have been killing me since I landed and travel usually makes my joints feel pretty irritated for a while.  So I haven't been able to get in any real good sessions since I've been here.  But that's par for course and I knew that would happen.  

After we were done we went upstairs for the lecture, and I have to say, it's amazing how much shit Charles knows about strength, speed, power, and how many ways he measures it and can test it.  The best thing about learning more, is that you realize you don't really know a whole lot.  In all the seminars I've been to and all the people I've listened to, Charles easily has impressed me the most.  The amount of data he knows and has collected over the last three decades is amazing.  His knowledge about training is unsurpassed by anyone I know or have ever known.   

After lecture we all grabbed some lunch, then headed back where Dmitry went over several positions of the snatch for everyone.  Dmitry is a very hands on guy, and the thing I was most impressed with, as I told Daine, was that he gave each individual so much personal attention.  Sometimes when you attend these seminars you see guys get treated with a bit of the "eh, you're a nobody syndrome".  That's the antithesis of how Dmitry worked with people.  The amount of passion and energy he gave each person would have made you think they were all preparing for the Olympics.  It was really impressive to watch.  

After he was done, Charles went over shoulder flexibility for everyone.  He tested some people for poor shoulder flexibility and then, I swear to god, did this witchcraft trick that improved shoulder flexibility for everyone he did it on.  And no, don't ask me what it was.  If you want to know, attend his seminar.  He did it on me and Dmitry as well.  Let's just say it's a painful procedure and while neither of us winced at all, afterwards we both sort of looked at each other like "fuck that guy!"  

After we loaded up all of the bumper plates we headed back "home".  On the ride in I tried to tell Dmitry some American jokes, none of which resonated with him at all.

"What's red and bad for your teeth?"  


"A brick."


He finally told me, "In Russia, we tell more like dark jokes or really dirty jokes."  

Then I remembered that a good friend of mine who was from Russia told me a great joke, so I hit him up with it.

"An old man with a knife was dragging a little boy into the woods as it neared dark.  The little boy screamed, "please mister don't!  I'm so afraid!"  The old man looked at the boy and said, "You're afraid?  I gotta walk back alone.""  

This made him laugh.  

Looking forward to day 2 tomorrow.

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Montreal - Day 2

As my life would have it, I woke up at 5 and was unable to go back to sleep.  I didn't want to be awake, and I knew I had a long day ahead of me and my eyes were heavy, but it wasn't happening.

I had to meet Charles and Juan downstairs at 7:15 to eat and go train, so I just sort of vegged out in the bed.  Travel is hard on me for some reason.  I don't mean that in a bitch kinda way.  Generally it takes about two days before my hips and joints stop hurting.  Airplane seats seem to really fuck my hips and low back up a lot.  Not only that, but when I woke my elbows were screaming at me as if someone had taken a blow torch to them while I slept.  

Fortunately for me, I had to do presses that morning.  There's a deep amount of sarcasm in that in case you didn't pick up on it.  

After breakfast we headed over to Atlantis gym where we've been training, and went to work.  I knew a few sets in I wasn't going to have a very good morning but I tried to make the best of it.  

I wasn't going to barbell bench in the state my elbows were in, but for some reason db bench press doesn't bother them as much.  

Db Bench - 
30's x 40
40's x 30
50's x 20
100's x 10
150's x 5
100's x 20

Incline Press -
135 x 5
225 x 5
315 x 4

Pushdowns - 2 sets of 20

This was probably the worst session I've had in weeks and weeks.  Because of the travel and lack of sleep, I didn't sweat it too much.  Still, I'm a month out from a meet and it's not fun to have such lackluster sessions.

After training we headed over to the hotel for the seminar.  I told Juan "in about two hours we're both going to be fighting to stay awake."  Not because of the seminar obviously, but because neither of us like training that early and generally don't do so.  So I knew in about two hours we'd both get hit by that post workout fatigue.  

Sure enough, around 10:45 I started looking at the floor thinking how comfy that shitty carpet looked.  Juan turned to me and had what I call "doughnut eyes".  You know when someone is super sleepy and their eyes are just glazed the fuck over?  Yeah, like that.  

At lunch I got to meet the CEO of ATP supplements, Vincent Comtois.  We had a great talk about the supplement industry and the fact that supplements made in Canada are regulated more strictly.  Which is a good thing because it means whatever you see on the label, well, that's what is actually in that supplement.  So if you want to look into a name brand that actually contains what is in the bottle, check ATP out.  

I told Vince of my sleeping issues and he told me he had a supplement to help promote healthy sleep.  He kindly gave me a free bottle to test out (as I am writing this I can tell you that it worked REALLY well) for that evening.  

Post seminar I came back to the room, vegged for about an hour, then ate, caught up on e-mails and passed out.  I know some of the folks that helped get me here wanted to go out and do a little partying but I was really just too spent to do such.  I also told Charles I was going to take the morning off from training to rest up a bit.  I'm sure that made him want to call me a pussy and hit me in the nuts with a nail filled baseball bat.  

I will say that I feel like learning another language is something I really want to do now.  I hate everyone around me speaking French and not understanding a god damn word they are saying.  It's especially awesome when the women at the gym are talking to Charles about me and I have no fucking idea what they are gabbing about.  Apparently he told them I don't speak French and I color outside the lines as well.  

Overall, I'm tired as fuck but having a great time.  More updates soon.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Montreal day 1

So today was my first full day in Montreal.  Charles and Juan picked me up this morning at the hotel for breakfast, then afterwards we headed out for day 1 of the Bio Print seminar.

Charles went over a myriad of topics and the 14 points of bodyfat testing that gives an idea of hormone and/or mineral and vitamin deficiencies.  Charles also has great delivery and despite a topic that might seem boring, he has a way of presenting these things that definitely keep you from falling asleep.  Can't say the same for other seminars I've been to where listening to the speaker was about as fun as putting together one of those shitty entertainment centers from Target.

At lunch we went to a famous chicken place in Montreal that served an absolutely ridiculous roasted half chicken.  Charles and Juan eat slower than a crippled grandmother crossing the road, but I've used to pretty much everyone else eating slower than I do.

I also got to eat horsemeat for the first time.  A lady at the seminar had horsemeat jerky, and it was god damn delicious.

The seminar closed shop around 6, or a bit after, then the three of us went to train.  The gym itself was unbelievable.  The owner makes all of his own equipment it's very top notch.

Juan and I did back and bicep work and Charles did calves (for an hour).  I gave him a few pointers on what I did when I needed to bring my calves up and he put that work.  Let's say he had trouble getting down the steps after we were done.

I will do my best to give updates each day and fill in some pieces here and there.  I'm fucking beat right now so it's shower and relaxation time.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Hardest Worker

Trials, Tribulations and Victories of the “Hardest Worker" – How I got to be the athlete that I am today

The “Hardest Worker” – that would be me, well, at least according to the inscriptions on the trophies I collected at the end of each year at gymnastics awards ceremonies throughout my childhood.   At the time, I was not too happy about this but knew it to be the truth.  I wanted to be the MVP. That is not to say that I did not do well, my mother has a closet full of ribbons and medals that say otherwise, but most the awards from that time were not the gold ones, unless Kim, my best friend and teammate, was absent from competition.  In these cases my first place finish was meaningless to me because the best girl was not present to challenge me.  

This pattern started shorty after kindergarten and continued until I was 14.  I wasn't the prettiest girl on the team (Sarah), or the most flexible (Christy), or the most graceful (Nicole), or the most technically proficient (Kim).  Nor was I the most fearless competitor (also Kim).  I was the hardest worker and so I became the strongest.  When I was seven years old, the senior girls coach, Ralph, gave my first nickname was "mighty mouse".  I loved the name and answered to it with pride.  In the early years, I was a mess – toes never pointed, posture never correct, runny nose from the chalk, unruly hair, and often walked around sporting a wedgy from my leotard.  

As a result of not being perfect, I was punished with endless conditioning and calisthenics.  In one particular training session I was deemed unworthy of practicing routines with the girls because I yawned during warm-ups (Kim will laugh about this when she reads this).  My coach was not very nice.  I often did push-ups, leg raises, pull-ups, standing back tucks, and squats jumps in solitude while watching the other girls practice the dance sequences of their floor routines.  I recall sitting out a gym pizza party because I was forced to practice my glide kip on the uneven bars.  I never really minded though – I loved the feel of the hard work.  Sometimes I was scolded for puking from over exertion.  If I puked, I was not allowed to have a friend sleep over that night – bummer!  As a result, I learned to hold my cookies!  On occasion, I would be sent home for “chickening out,” and this particularly bothered me.  Failing to fully attempt a skill due to fear, or “chickening out” is about the worst thing you can do in gymnastics – you endanger your own safety and that of the coach.  It implies a lack of trust in the coach and/or personal fear.  Both are big obstacles to conquer, and extremely difficult for an athlete to overcome.

This may sound crazy, but I started my own conditioning regimen at home with my friend, Kim.  We would run, jump, do calisthenics, play on the high bar and balance beam in my backyard, and play fight.  Yes, fight.  Somehow we figured out that beating each other up by throwing punches and wrestling was the best exercise.  Our parents were not very happy and the other kids that witnessed this kept their distance.

This work ethic came from my father Russell and my grandmother (his mom) Shirley.  My father has always lived by the notion that nothing brings more satisfaction than a hard day’s work.  Physical labor and building things with his hands have always been both his therapy and livelihood.  He does not understand the training that I do because I "pick things up and put them down" versus getting real work accomplished like raking leaves, shoveling, digging ditches, and roofing.  Most of my life when I told him I was off to the gym he would offer to give me work in the yard instead.  This might sound a bit odd because I grew up in New York City - Queens to be specific.  For those that are unfamiliar, there are parts of Queens that may seem similar to wilderness in comparison to Manhattan.  My grandmother was tough on me – she accepted nothing less than my best.  She taught me that the only way to get ahead was to work hard and set yourself apart from the others.

I was an anomaly. As a child, I sported a Mary Lou Retton haircut and I wanted to be just like Superman and Tarzan.  Some thought I had gender identity issues – I didn't.   I simply thought that Superman and Tarzan were way cooler than the female action heroes of that time.  I spent many hours daydreaming about swinging through the jungle, or running so fast that I could take off and fly.  It didn't help that I (too frequently) wore a T-shirt my mom gave me emblazoned with the phrase "Anything Boys can do Girls can do Better".  I was not the first of my friends to have a boyfriend.  Somehow I could never accept that there were activities that were gender specific, which leads me to the following…

In 1989, I entered Junior High School at the age of 12.  My school offered two morning activities before school – weight training for the boys and aerobic dance for the girls.  I wanted to participate in weight-training, and begged the PE teacher Mr. Hammer to allow me participate in spite of my gender.  He was hesitant (at first), but conceded when I demonstrated my ability to do pull-ups.  There were few weights - the club equipment was stored in an old closet.  We had a bench, some dumbbells, a dip bar, a pull-up bar, and some mats.  The club maintained a “Wall of Fame” in the gym that boasted various physical records.   The Wall of Fame consisted of three columns ( 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students respectively), and two entries – one for the boys and one for the girls.   As a 7th grade student I looked at the column of 9th grade boy’s records and told Mr. Hammer that I would break every one of those records - that day.  He chuckled – but stopped when I showed him!  Enough said.

Instances like this were the theme of my life for the rest of my teenage years.  My freshman year of high school I pleaded with my parents to buy me a Universal Station weight machine that was sale at Consumer Distributors.  My bedroom became a gym with a pull-up bar, incline sit-up board, multi-station weight machine, mini-trampoline, sand filled dumbells, and a stair climber.  I hung anatomy charts on the walls and inspiring pictures of athletes.  Admittedly, to an outsider, this was peak adolescent weirdness.  Three cassettes - the soundtracks from Rocky IV, Flashdance, and Footloose – were played on my mini boombox while working out every evening for two hours after gymnastics or track practice.  My younger sister was so embarrassed of me that she did everything in her power to keep her friends out of my stinky room.  At the time, I didn't know much about training and did every exercise that I knew - every single day.  I believe that everyone hoped my obsession would wear off, but it never did.

It was during theses years, 1991-1995 that being the Hardest Worker started to morph into being the MVP.  My passion for physical fitness became infectious at my high school and we started a physical fitness team that competed in the United Stated Marine Corps Physical Fitness Championships at a national level.  Gymnastics started to take a back seat after an injury and I focused more effort on track and field and physical fitness competition outside of gymnastics.  At the time I had exceptional leadership and coaching (thank you Mr. Featherston) and it gave me an opportunity to focus my efforts on specific goals.  I faced significant adversity during this time.  People were not sure what to make of me - especially the boys.  I was often made fun of and groped in the halls.  During my senior year, my pre-calculus teacher once drew a depiction of me on the chalkboard as a cartoon figure with huge muscles and lots of hair with a caption about me beating up my boyfriend.  My boyfriend was in the class at the time.  I arrived three minutes late to see the picture, hear a room full of laughter, and find my boyfriend somewhere between tears and rage.

I never gave up.  No amount of teasing, prodding, or labeling as a freak prevented me from being the hardest worker and reaching my goals.  A local newspaper once ran an article about me titled, "Is she human?" after I won the Marine Corps National Physical Fitness Championship (1995).  I had a strong psyche and a supportive group of friends and family, and this allowed me to press on.  I lived by two personal mottos.  The first, “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me”.  I can still hear my grandmother repeating it to me over and over again. The second, “if you quit once, you will quit again”.  I don’t know who said that to me - but it stuck.

I attended a large high school with more than 4,000 students, and I was somewhat of a legend after a school wide push-up competition in the auditorium during my senior year.   The competition was held onstage and a full audience counting reps.   Reps were performed together, with competitors dropping out when no longer capable of performing another rep.  Each rep was chest to the ground with a full lock out at the top. The final two competitors were the best male on the fitness team and me.   Brad did phenomenal – he did somewhere around 160 reps. Long after he finished I was still going.  I stopped at 500 – I am not sure why, perhaps boredom, maybe my wrists were starting to hurt.  I probably should have documented my experience at the time.  Brad was a true friend - he congratulated me, it didn't matter that I did more push-ups than him.  In case you have any doubt I am not a naturally gifted genetic freak – I spent countless hours doing push-ups on a daily basis to train for this. Anyone that knew me at the time can attest to my wacky ways of spending my free time.

Like junior high, my high school boasted its own wall of records, not in the main gym like my junior high, but in the weight room.  I was told that 17 years after I graduated that my records still hang on the wall (push-ups, pull-ups, dips, bodyweight bench press for number of reps).  My mile run time and standing broad jump distance have been broken time and time again, they were far from outstanding.  I ran into the new coach of the fitness team (when I was in high school he was doing his student teaching there are part of his undergrad degree in Phys. Ed.).  He told me that each year his students ask, "Who is Mounsey?" and they want to know whether those numbers are for real or some kind of twisted prank.

This makes me feel special.  I will not always be the best at everything in life but I will always be the Hardest Worker.   My advice - more people should spend less time complaining and comparing themselves to others and more time working!  My satisfaction is far more related to the effort that I put forth versus the end result.  The end result is often out of my control, my effort on a daily basis is not.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Hoodies and long sleeve "death is winning..." for dudes

PRE-ORDER for hoodies and long sleeves start this week.  End on Friday.

Grab one!

Friday, October 3, 2014

10 tips to clean eating on a budget - Gillian Ward

10 tips to Clean Eating on a Budget 

1. Budget and meal plan - First step, set a budget for a week of groceries. Then, examine your current stock in the fridge and pantry. Make your own meal plan (or utilize one of the dozens of online sources) that includes items that you already have in the house. Be sure to incorporate perishables that are nearing their expiration. Now make a shopping list of what you will need to complete the meals. Have a snack or small meal before you shop to ensure that you don’t make unnecessary purchases motivated by your hunger. 

2. Cut down on packaged and pre-made – We buy these items for convenience and to save time but most of them are awful for us in addition to being pricey. Set aside 2 blocks of time per week to do food prep. I personally like Sunday’s and Wednesdays. These times are written into my schedule just like any other appointment that I can’t break. Invest in storage containers that can be frozen, microwaved and dishwasher safe. After a few weeks, you will become efficient and it will take half the time than it did the first week. 

3. Eat leftovers – After you finish a meal, don’t discard the scraps. Last nights dinner makes a great breakfast or lunch the next day. This is especially helpful is you are one of the people that misses breakfast due to lack of time. Pack the leftovers as an actual meal as opposed to just throwing them in the fridge. If you have to fuss with them you will be less likely to grab them. 

4. Buy cheaper cuts of meat - Experiment with cuts that are unfamiliar to you such as chicken thighs if you are always buying chicken breast

5. It’s not all or nothing when it comes to organic – We can’t all afford to stock our kitchen with nothing but organic products. The simple guide to the “dirty dozen “ and the “clean fifteen” will help tremendously with making educated decisions about produce. Check out the Environmental Working Group's lists to determine your priorities for organic purchases. There is even an iPhone app.

*Quality animal products including eggs, meat and dairy, and wild-caught seafood are worth investing more money in when it comes to your health and clean eating

6. Make your own dressings and sauces - The average bottled dressing costs $3.00 a bottle, and is loaded with preservatives, sugar and sodium. If you want an “organic” bottle of salad dressing, you’re likely to spend $5.00. You can make dressings at home for pennies with olive oil, assorted vinegars or lemon juice and spices. Here is a typical ingredient list from a very popular packaged dressing


Need I say more on this topic. Why would you coat your healthy greens with corn starch and MSG?

7. Source online – Many ingredients on your shopping last can be purchased online for cheaper than the grocery store. Make a list of your most frequently used products and price online. 

8. Buy in-season produce and frozen veggies – The cost of a pound of apples can vary by as much as $2.00 per lb depending on the season. Stick with seasonal fruits and veggies. Many fruits freeze well - stock up when they are on sale. Blueberries are great example. Frozen options (without seasonings and sauces) are a great option too. The other benefit to frozen is that you don’t have to worry about tossing molded or wilted fruits and veggies every week. Most large markets always have at least one brand of frozen vegetables on sale each week. 

9. Buy in bulk – Grains, nuts and seeds, and expensive flours can be bought in bulk either online or at natural food stores. Buying from bulk containers allows you to only buy what you need and without the fancy packaging your costs are even further reduced. This is true of supplements too. If you don’t already know about this- check out 

10. Stock up on the essentials during sales – set aside room on your pantry for stock. This seems obvious but is often neglected. I like to tell my clients to spend $15 each week of their budget on stock.

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