Good Reads of the Month: February 2014

boratNo cutesy introductions needed for this post.

From now on, I will be combining a few solid training related articles (and other assorted articles related to topics I deem worthy of a holler) I’ve come across on the interwebz into a short list at the end of every month.

Here are three that made the cut for the month of February.


• The Truth by Jim Steel

67 Tips on Happiness, Fulfillment & Life by Jason Ferruggia

Weight Training Programs: 5 Reasons You Aren’t Getting Stronger by Eric Cressey

7 Simple (But Valuable) Shoulder Saving Tips

ava_cowanAnyone who trains hard with a barbell in search of continuous progress will get injured at some point.

It’s not a question of “if”, but “when”.

One of the most common ways barbell training can inflict damage on your body is in the form of shoulder injuries.

A bum shoulder can make life virtually miserable. Almost all upper body pressing goes immediately out of the window. Setting up and gripping the bar hard for a set of squats doesn’t exactly ease the discomfort you’re feeling. Not to mention even flipping through TV channels with a remote controller becomes a pain in the ass once the pain in your shoulder gets severe enough (talk about a First World Problem!) 

However, the worst part is that once the damage has been done, the healing process usually takes quite a while. Some days your shoulder will feel almost 100%, the next day it will get irritated during a light warm-up set, and you’re back to square one.

I say all this because I’ve been there and know how much having an irritated shoulder sucks. Walking around with a shoulder injury severely limits what you can do in the weight room. Consistency is the biggest factor in making sustained progress, and you can’t be consistent if you are always injured.

Here are 7 practical ways to rehab an existing shoulder injury or prevent it from happening in the first place…

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The 5 Key Elements of an Effective Strength Program

pisarenko_squatA common misperception among the general fitness crowd is that all weight training systems are created equal.

Just as playing table tennis with a buddy in your garage is very different from playing Wimbledon tennis, not all exercises, training programs, methods or practices, and set/rep schemes constitute useful strength training when the objective is pushing your numbers up in the gym.

The magic word here being STRENGTH training.

Never before have going to the gym and making healthy lifestyle choices been as trendy as they are nowadays.

General fitness and exercise recommendations are receiving more and more face time in mainstream media each passing day through various articles and news reports.

Consequently, everything from Bosu balls to 100 air squats gets lumped together as “strength training”, when this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Call it “working out”, “getting toned” or “breaking a sweat”. But don’t call it something it’s not.

It ain’t strength training unless you’re getting stronger.

These five pointers will serve as your guide to creating a strength training program that actually produces results: Continue Reading

How to Get Your First Real Chin-Up

chinsFor as long as I can recall, I’ve been doing chin-ups of all sorts.

I did them at school.

I did them at soccer practice.

I did them in the army.

Now I do them in the gym or in the park, usually with rings.

What I’ve noticed, however, is that rarely can women do chin-ups. But not because it’s physiologically impossible for females to pull their bodyweight over a bar. It’s because, unfortunately, too many women fall for the general claptrap that chicks can’t chin.

I’ve never been one to conform to public opinion or what the majority of people think. So all I will do at this point is quote the great American philosopher, Ice Cube, and leave the matter at that:

“Do ya thang, man, fuck what they lookin’ at!”

Show me a woman who can do 10 chin-ups and I’ll show you a woman who is lean and strong.

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Top 10 Hip Hop Songs to Train to

Hip hop is dead.

That’s what Nas said back in 2006, referring to the music industry and the state of hip hop music at the time.

As Nas implied, what people call “rap music” these days is not up to par with the 90’s when Ice Cube, DMX, Dr. Dre, 2Pac, Jay-Z, and the likes took over the scene.

I’m a hard rock/metal kinda guy at heart. Nothing gets me more fired up for a training session than blasting out some In Flames or Iron Maiden on the loudspeakers. But playing that stuff over and over again gets tiresome really fast.

A good hip hop training mix is my go-to choice of music in situations where you still want to listen to a track bringing some anger, aggression, and intensity without blowing your eardrums to pieces, for instance when practicing on the gymnastics rings or jumping rope.

Below are some of the most kick ass hip hop songs on my playlist.

#10 Jay-Z ft. Rihanna & E.S. Posthumus – Run This Town

ES Posthumus spinned Jay-Z’s original version, which lacked the punch in my opinion, into one of the best pump up songs I’ve heard in recent years.

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Research Corner February 2014 – Body Fat Measurements of Elite Athletes

ade_akinbiyiDuring the past few weeks, I’ve found myself gravitating more and more towards literature on human body composition and body fat percentages at the highest realms of athletic competition.

What sparked the idea for me to delve into the body composition figures of elite (and not-so-elite) athletes was seeing the 2013 NHL Draft Combine fitness results.

If you don’t know what the NHL Draft Combine is, allow me to explain.

Every year around 100 top draft eligible prospects around the world are called by the NHL to partake in an assessment involving interviews, medical screenings and fitness tests over a four-day period. These fitness tests – including the bench press, vertical jump and VO2max, among others – are arranged so that the teams can better evaluate the prospects’ physical attributes prior to the actual draft night.

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67 Ways To Build Strength, Lose Fat and Be Fucking Awesome

tom_hardy_warriorWith another year in the books, it’s a common tendency to look back at what did and didn’t happen in 2013, wondering what shoulda, coulda, woulda been…

Did you have a solid plan for getting stronger, building muscle and shedding fat, knowing exactly what to do every time you set foot inside a weight room?

Or were you simply going through the motions of working out, without clear direction, focus and progression?

How were you dealing with inner resistance on days that you didn’t particularly look forward to making the trip all the way down to the gym?

Were you able to overpower the sorry excuses your mind was coming up with? Or did you give in like a gutless wimp, rationalizing to yourself it was okay to skip training this time and you’d start again next Monday? We all know how that ended…

Did you prepare healthy, unprocessed, nutritious meals from fresh ingredients? Or was the sweet siren song of delicious pizza, pastries and candy too much to handle once you parked your lazy ass on the couch after a long, exhausting day at work and flipped on the telly?

Were you sound asleep by 23.00 on most nights, like you know you should have been? Or was watching stupid infomercials and late night talk shows more important than quality sleep and regeneration?

Which course of action did you choose at social gatherings? Staying up late and getting hammered at parties week after week with deadbeats or waking up refreshed and completing an early morning training session while everybody else was nursing a terrible hangover?

Maybe you did some stupid stuff and got injured? You wouldn’t be the first one.

Or perhaps you simply got lost listening to too many people, chasing contradictory goals, ending up spinning your wheels with no progress to show for your efforts.

Whatever choices you’ve made in the past, now is the perfect opportunity to wipe the slate clean and make sure 2014 is gonna be your best year yet.

I know it’ll be for me. I expect continual progress, consistent strength development, injury-free training, new personal records and shitloads of hustlin’ in and out of the gym.

Here’s how to make it happen… Continue Reading

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