Let’s skype

A few of you have asked whether I do phone consultations.

You know, answering your training questions over the phone.

I've never offered that service before.

Until now.

So, if you've got a question about lifting, speed training, nutrition, plyos, let's do a Skype call.

How does it work?

Reply to this email with your name and a maximum of two SPECIFIC training questions you want me to answer.

(Or you can send an email directly to yunus@next-level-athletics.com)

Example of a BAD question: "Which is better for hypertrophy, high reps or low reps?"

Example of a GOOD question: "I'm out with a shoulder injury for six weeks. How would you recommend I train to get back in game shape ASAP?"

Another example of a GOOD question: "Here's my current training program. What would you change to make it better?"

I also won't be able to comment on something that falls outside of my area of expertise - such as:

"I have severe arthritis in my knee. Can you design a quad workout I could do without putting any strain on my knee?"

If I believe I can answer your questions, I'll get back to you and we'll work out the details, including date and time, for the call.

Yunus Barisik

P.S. Yes, the phone consultation comes with a fee. But nothing that will break the bank.

P.P.S. I only have 3 open spots remaining as I'm typing this, so act quick if you want in.

Men’s Health Journalist Grills Yours Truly

A journalist writing for several fitness publications - including Men's Health - contacted me some time ago for a piece she was working on.

The topic?

Biggest training mistakes gym-goers make and how to avoid them in the first place.

This journalist wanted to hear my take on what keeps people from getting the gainz they want.

In case you haven't seen the final article yet, I've copy/pasted my answers that appear in it below:


"Mistake #1: You stick to a routine

The rapid gains you enjoy at the beginning of a training program will eventually taper if you keep doing the same workouts month after month (or year after year).

"The body adapts to new stresses quickly," says Yunus Barisik, C.S.C.S., author of the blog Next Level Athletics.

Your job - and the goal of any good exercise plan - is to make sure that adaptation (also known as muscle growth) never stops.

"And the way to do that is by regularly varying what you do," says Barisik.

The fix: If you’re a beginner, mix things up every two to three months. If you’re a veteran, you’ll need to do so even sooner.

"Those changes don’t have to be major," says Barisik. Occasionally swapping new exercises into your workouts (or trying a completely new workout program) is a smart idea.

"But even minor tweaks - changing your grip, lifting pace, foot position, or rest periods - can lead to big gains by not only working muscles you normally miss, but also working the muscles you normally target in new ways," says Barisik.

Mistake #2: You forget about your back 

In their pursuit of head turning muscle, many people focus only on those they can see in the mirror - pecs, shoulders, arms, and abs.

"And that’s a problem," says Barisik. "Overemphasizing the front side of your body can lead to muscular imbalances, a hunched posture, and an increased risk of injury."

Since most people are already "anterior dominant" - meaning they more frequently use the muscles on the front of their bodies - such one-sided training often worsens existing postural and performance issues.

The fix: Stop using a mirror to gauge your progress - it’s the muscles you can’t see that you should focus on.

To balance your upper body, perform two pulling exercises (chinup, row) for every pushing exercise, such as the overhead press or bench press, says Barisik.

To balance your lower body, perform two sets of hamstring-dominant exercises, like the deadlift or kettlebell swing, for every set of a quad-dominant exercise, like the squat or lunge. After a few months (read: once your posture and musculature balance out), you can switch to one-to-one ratios, says Barisik."


Speaking of common training mistakes, it would take me hours to list all of them.

However, I do delve deeper into this topic in my Next Level Hockey Training System.

I explain how to avoid spinning your wheels forever.

And, how to keep 'em gainz a-comin'.

Check it out here:


Yunus Barisik

1 in the Tank

Knowing when to terminate your set is an invaluable skill that you can only​ learn through experience.

Many gym-goers never do.

That's why you see lots of trainees coasting through their sets like they could bang out another four or five reps, easy.

Most beginners fall in this category.

As do many females.

And men who spend way too much time on the elliptical for their own well-being.

Then you've got guys who take set after set to failure, coming dangerously close to meeting their maker until a training partner or fellow lifter rescues them from being crushed by the weight.

When these doods get under the bar, it's like a cookie, they all crumble.

So how close to failure should you lift?

I'm glad you asked.

Raw beginners should never train to failure.

They don't know how to remain tight under heavy weight or muscular fatigue.

So the risk of injury becomes way too high.

Then, after a few months of training, I instruct my athletes to go heavy but leave one rep in the tank on squats, deads and other max effort lifts.

That means you know you could lift another rep with good form, but choose not to.

Doing so ensures good technical execution on every repetition. Which is crucial for a lifter's confidence and him achieving technical proficiency in the long-term.

With someone I've been coaching for a year or longer, I trust them to stay tight during a true 3RM or 5RM effort without snapping their spine in half. So we can push things all the way to the point where they wouldn't be able to complete another rep on their own.

(a.k.a. "technical failure")

That said, for most athletes, leaving a rep in the tank when lifting heavy is a great guideline.

For continuous progress and staying healthy, you can't go wrong following it.

If breaking PR's without breaking your body sounds right up your alley, I have the perfect program for ya here:


Yunus Barisik

Super Simple 2-Minute Trick to Fall Asleep Faster

On an average night, 30 to 40 million Americans have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or wake earlier than they would like and cannot get back to sleep.

Being no stranger to nights of subpar sleep, I've coached my athletes through the morning's first session with only a few hours of shuteye countless times.

With zero adverse effects on my ability to get my coaching points across.

Training is a different matter, though.

No way I'm getting in a great session at the gym running on fumes.

That's why I use earplugs, melatonin pills, curtains that block light, the whole shebang to guarantee top performance next day.

And here's something I've started doing lately that has worked very well for falling asleep fast and sleeping tight through the night...

First, complete your sleep routine as usual.

Brush teeth, get busy with your chica, read some fiction, write in your journal, whatever.


Block out all distractions.

Stop the music.

Turn off your phone.

Kill the lights.

Lie down on the floor with your feet propped up either on your bed or against a wall.

(Your legs will form a "V" in this position)

Close your eyes.

Breathe in through your nose.

Push the air all the way down into your belly.

Not just front to back, but side to side as well.

(Called diaphragm breathing)

Exhale through mouth.

That's one rep.

Bang out 20 of these while focusing on nothing but your breathing.

Do this right and you'll feel sleepy in no time.

I'm usually yawning by breath #7.

And ready to hit the sheets after 20 inhale/exhales.

Try this tonight before bed.

It's only gonna take 2 minutes.

Then get back to me on how it worked.

Sleep tight.

Yunus Barisik

P.S. For a super simple solution to get jacked in the weight room, visit:


Fake Doc Gets Prison for Deadly Butt Injections

Check this out:

According to CBS Miami, a woman dubbed the "Toxic Tush" doctor was sentenced to 10 years behind bars.

Her crime?

Using Super Glue and Fix-a-Flat tire sealant to enlarge women’s butts and causing one patient to die.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like some bizarre shit to me.

Of course, turns out the "Toxic Tush" wasn’t a licensed doctor.

Yet, her "patients" were regularly paying her up to $2000 dollars for these butt-boosting "treatments".

Sheesh. The lengths some peeps are willing to go for a bigger, rounder ass…

Why do I bring this up?

I’m not a doctor (nor do I like to play one on the Internet!)… but this fake "Toxic Tush" doc tried to enter my territory.

You see, I’ve been turning guys’ pancake backsides into real hockey butts in the gym for years.

But, instead of shooting up a toxic mixture containing medical-grade silicone, mineral oil, Fix-a-Flat tire sealant, cement and Super Glue up my athletes’ badonkadonks, I use proven strength training methods to shape their gluteus assimus.

The result?

Bigger, stronger butts that look the part and perform well on the ice.

No deathly practices applied.

No bogus $2000 injections needed.

And, certainly, no prison time for anyone involved.

More info at:


Yunus Barisik

Bench Press?

A question lands in my inbox:


"Hey Coach,

my shoulders hurt when I bench press. Any advice?



This question hits home since, as many of you know, I've been plagued by some issues in my right shoulder for years.

Plus, due to frequent heavy contacts on the ice resulting in broken collarbones and AC joint sprains in hockey players, I have to come up with safe yet effective upper body training methods for guys with shoulder problems on a weekly basis.

First things first, we​ want to use exercises ​that you can perform pain-free.

Knowing that stress to the shoulder is at its greatest where the bar meets your chest, you want to either find ways to unload resistance at the bottom or stay clear of there altogether.

With that in mind, a few solutions:

* Board press.

Have a training partner place a 2-, 3-, or 4-board on your chest. Bring the bar down to the board, then press back up as usual.

You can lift big weights and blast your triceps into oblivion in a safer range of motion.

For those who lift alone, Bench Blockz work great here.

For a DIY solution, attach a Hampton thick pad - which we normally use on hip thrusts - to the bar. Same effect.

* Floor press.

Another way to cut range of motion. You only bring the bar down to the point where your triceps touch the floor.

* Use a Sling Shot.

Designed by powerlifter Mark Bell, the Sling Shot forces you to keep your elbows tucked in while giving just enough assistance at the bottom of the lift to overcome the death zone pain-free.

Mark has benched 578 pounds (262 kg) raw in competition, so you can bet your sweet ass this product was invented by someone who knows what's up.

If any of these variations don't feel comfortable, then you really have no other option but to ditch the barbell bench press altogether.

While that may qualify as heresy to the average gym bro, you can build a strong chest and upper body without ever barbell benching.

Here's what you do:

* Push-ups and dips on gymnastic rings.

You're going to struggle with these at first. Because your smaller stabilizer muscles are weak, you'll be shaking all over the place.

Once you get to a point where you can bang out ring flyes, weighted dips and feet elevated band-resisted ring push-ups with relative ease, you won't look back.

The chest pumps you get from those are out of this world. Barbell benching doesn't even come close.

* Dumbbell bench press

Dumbbells allow you to bench in a safer, more comfortable way because unlike with a barbell, you're not fixed into position.

Make sure to tuck the elbows in at ca. 45 degrees for shoulder-friendly pressing.

You'll also want to floor press and incline bench at different angles with DB's to vary your training stimulus.

To learn more muscle-building training tips - with and without the bench press - go to:


Yunus Barisik

“Thanks to the Lame-Ass Security, I’m Going Home”

The year, 1991.

The scene, Riverport Amphitheatre near St. Louis, Missouri.

15 songs into their set, lead singer Axl Rose jumped into the audience and tackled a fan who was taking still pictures at a Guns N' Roses concert.

After taking the camera, striking members of the audience and the security team, and being pulled out of the audience by crew members, Rose grabbed his microphone and uttered the following nine infamous words:

“Well, thanks to the lame-ass security, I’m going home!”

​Then he slammed his microphone on the stage and stormed off.

This infuriated the audience, igniting a three-hour riot which resulted in 60 injuries and $200,000 in damage to Riverport Amphitheatre.

Over the years, Axl would get into tussles and verbal spars with his fans on the reg.

(Several of those incidents can be found on YouTube for those interested)

And he became notorious for showing up late to his own gigs, sometimes postponing the start by hours.

So I didn't really know what to expect when they announced their Not in This Lifetime comeback tour expanding all the way to Finland. For a long time, I teetered between going and not going until just days before the show when a colleague hooked me up with a ticket.

I'm glad he did.

Their three-hour, 29-song performance lasted well past midnight, complete with all the big hits, including Welcome to the Jungle and my personal favorite, Sweet Child O'Mine.

Usually not one for public emotional outbursts, I found myself jumping up and down like Tom Cruise on Oprah while singing the chorus to You Could Be Mine.

The night ended with a bang, literally, when fireworks lit up the clear night sky during Paradise City.

​When the smoke finally cleared and people started to head for the exits, I was beyond elated:

"Wow. Was I lucky to be here tonight or what?!"

One helluva gig. Easily up there in the TOP 3 I've seen live. Perhaps even as good as that Rolling Stones concert I attended years ago.

Metallica and Iron Maiden have always placed a notch or two above Guns N' Roses for me. But after this performance, I found myself checking out the full extent of their recordings on YouTube I could play at the gym.

Just last week, I had a great training session lifting to a GNR playlist consisting of:

* Welcome to the Jungle

* Nightrain

* Sweet Child O' Mine

* Yesterdays

* Welcome to the Jungle

* Out Ta Get Me

* You Could Be Mine

* Mr. Brownstone

* Civil War

* Estranged

* Chinese Democracy

* Rocket Queen

* Live and Let Die

If your workouts need additional oomph, give these tracks a go.

P.S. Frustrated with lame-ass training programs that fail to make you stronger and faster?

There's a better solution. Check out:


Yunus Barisik