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Why You Need More Failures in Your Life…

The modern world is set up for you to fail.  Disappointment, rejection, and fear are everywhere.  Our lives are constantly being filled with distractions that keep us from doing what is truly necessary. How depressing is that?  Well, it’s only depressing if you let it win. By it, I mean failure.

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Training and Life Lessons From the Last 15 Years – Part 2

I’ve got a few more things I’d like to share with you about my time in fitness industry.  If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, I strongly suggest you do, there’s some good shit in there!

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Training and Life Lessons From the Last 15 Years – Part 1

Oh how time flies.  As I get older, I find myself saying that more and more.  But it’s true, it seems like the older I get, the more things seem to speed up.  Life can feel like one giant beep test sometimes where each year gets faster and faster until we hit our “limit.”

Do kids even do the beep the test anymore or has the school system become so diluted that it’s no longer socially acceptable to be competitive and push yourself physically or mentally?

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How to Become a Powerhouse in the Gym and in Everyday Life!

If you don’t know me or have never read any of my articles before then you should know that I’m about  2 things – getting fit and living a fulfilling life on your own terms.

One of the secrets to success in any aspect of your life is to simply condense the nonsense.  In the book Essentialism, Greg McKeown repeatedly makes reference to how we need to develop the ability to “decipher the trivial many from the essential few.”

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7 MORE Habits of Highly Fit People…

I don’t need to tell you that exercise is a good thing and everybody should do it in some way, shape or form.  I also don’t need to tell you that if you exercise, you’ll probably start to look and feel better.  What isn’t so obvious though, (or at least to 90% of people who don’t get the results they want) are the habits and character traits of those who achieve their goals.

In Part 1, I only scratched the surface with the 7 habits of highly fit people.  I’m going to dig a little deeper and give you some more insight into what separates the really fit from those who just “want to be really fit.” I’m a firm believer that both your attitude and performance in the gym are highly correlated to how you conduct yourself in everyday life.  Are you always late? Do you do things to the best of your ability or simply to get it over with? Do you look for ways to be more efficient or do you just cut corners? It doesn’t matter if I’m talking about training, work, or any other part of your life, these are questions you should always be asking yourself.

It has been said that with the proper mindset, anything can be achieved.  The problem is, most people are too preoccupied with irrelevant bullshit, put unrealistic expectations on themselves, and make working out more dramatic than a reality TV show! Waiting for the “perfect” time,  trying to find the “perfect” program, or expecting huge results before you’ve put in any real work are just a few surefire ways to be back on the couch with a beer in one hand and a bag of Doritos in the other.  It’s time to wake up and smell the organic, black, freshly brewed, no cream, no whip coffee.  If you want to be successful, you need to model yourself after successful people who are already where you want to be.  Here are 7  MORE habits that will help you get your shit together and get some real results:

1. Willing to make sacrifices – It’s funny how hard it is for people to just buckle down and make a commitment to something.  I’m not sure if it’s fear, laziness or a deadly combination of the two, but people can find any excuse not to face reality.  We can talk ourselves into or out of pretty much anything.  The people that are in the best shape have no problem taking action and making the necessary sacrifices until they have achieved their goal.  Work, school, kids, TV and partying on the weekends are all secondary to getting the results they want.  Unless you win the lottery, you’re probably going to be working for a little while so you might as well throw that excuse out the window.  At the end of the day, when you can accept that the only thing standing in your way of success is you, then you’ll do what is necessary to become a powerhouse.

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“My PVR is way too full to get to the gym today.”

2. Don’t compare themselves to others – “Man, that guy is huge!” “Did you see how much he was squatting?!” “I’m never gonna be that strong.”  These are some of the things we all say to ourselves when we see someone who is just killin’ it at the gym.  Even worse, social media has made it extremely easy to see what every Tom, Dick, and Harry is doing which, at times, can be motivating but also make you question every aspect of your training.  There’s always going to be someone bigger, stronger, and faster than you but that shouldn’t deter you from putting your head down giving your best effort.  Even the fittest people, despite being extremely fit, are simply trying to be the “best version of themselves” as Elliott Hulse would put it.  Knowing and accepting that 100% is all you can give and all you should expect will make training not only more enjoyable but also more sustainable.  Turn your phone off and get to work!

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there will always be someone bigger, stronger, and faster than you!

3. Focus on the process rather than the outcome – It is a well known fact in sports psychology that the best athletes are more process oriented than outcome oriented.  What this basically means is that the best athletes focus on the task at hand and let the results take care of themselves.  They focus on each workout, each exercise, each set, and each rep until eventually they’ve created a masterpiece.  They’re not checking their abs in the mirror after every set of ab wheel rollouts, they’re not weighing themselves 3 times a day, and they’re not testing their max deadlift every week.  To be great at anything you have to understand and have faith in the steps/process it takes to achieve greatness.  Worrying too much about the end result only creates stress which hinders your training altogether.  We all know Rome wasn’t built in a day and deep down inside YOU know that it’s going to take more than just a few workouts before you become a true physical specimen. So stop acting like a 6 year old kid on a road trip to Disneyland asking “Are we there yet?” and just enjoy the ride.

4. Work through and around injuries – I’ve talked about injuries before and how they can be an inevitable part of training – training hard that is.  It’s been said that the highest performing athletes train at such high volume and intensity that they are always on the cusp of injury.  Pushing the envelope day in and day out has its’ risks as well as its’ rewards.  Although inconvenient and frustrating, injuries don’t stop the highly fit from getting what they want.  Injuries are simply a bump in the road, not an excuse to give up altogether.  The highly fit take injuries as an opportunity to learn more about their bodies, address weaknesses and imbalances and recuperate stronger than they were before.  Learning new exercises, deloading, and soft tissue treatment are a few ways to stay in the game.  Click here to learn more about how to deal with injuries.

UFC 168: Weidman v Silva 2

the best athletes are always on the verge of injury

5. Understand that failure is a part of the process – Much like being injured, from time to time you won’t always have the greatest workout.  Every now and then, for whatever reason, your energy might not be the best and you won’t be able to push yourself as hard.  You might only squeeze out 8 reps on the bench when you would normally do 10 or you have to run at a slower pace on the treadmill to get through your intervals.  It happens.  World records and PRs can’t be set everyday.  The fittest people know that training isn’t an exact linear progression where every workout will be better than the last.  If it was, I would have an 800lb squat and be able to run a 4 minute mile but that simply is not the case.  There will be ups and downs but as long as you keep moving forward and not dwell on missed lifts or some random cheat meal your chances of success will be much greater.

6. Work through plateaus – “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, then you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.”   If you’ve been training long enough, there always comes a point where it becomes harder and harder to make gains.  You feel like you’ve been lifting the same weight for the same number of reps for an eternity.  You’ve hit your ceiling.  This is as good as it’s going to get so you might as well hang your jersey in the rafters and retire, right?  Wrong.  Plateaus are an opportunity to reassess your training and mix things up a bit.  The fittest people know that sometimes the smallest little tweaks to their programming can make a world of difference.  If you’ve been doing the same routine for more than 6 weeks, then it’s probably time to switch things up a little.  Anything from changing your training split, the order of exercises or how many sets/reps you do can be enough to shock your body and break through.

7. Open-minded – We all have our favorite exercises that we like do on a regular basis, myself included.  That doesn’t mean that they are in our best interest or are moving us any closer to our goals.  The fittest people understand that to get the best results you have to be open to new methods and new ways of thinking.  Crossfit, as controversial as it is, incorporates some of the most effective training methods from powerlifting, olympic weightlifting, and track and field to get the best results possible.  If you asked to see the training programs of the top 10 Crossfit Games athletes, the top 10 bodybuilders, and the top 10 sprinters in the world, you would get 10 different Crossfit programs, 10 different bodybuilding programs, and 10 different sprinting programs.  Taking your blinders off and accepting that there is more than one way to do things will go a long way in your training.  Whether you want to build muscle, get stronger, or even run a marathon, there is something that can be learned from various training methods.  Don’t be a fitness Nazi.  Listen. Learn. Evolve. Apply. Repeat.

nazi

nobody likes a Nazi.

To summarize, make the necessary sacrifices to make training a part of your life, focus on yourself, have faith in the training process, don’t let injuries get you down, don’t be afraid to fail, find a way to work through plateaus, and remember there’s more than one way to get great results.

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Words of Wisdom: 41 Fitness Rules to Live By…

Here’s the deal.  If you’re looking for a quick fix, an easy out or some magic pill then this fitness game probably isn’t for you.  If you’re dedicated, open-minded, and enjoy pushing your physical and mental limits, then I’d say you have a fighting chance of not living your entire life as a snot-nosed weakling.

Like any other game, the fitness game has rules (or at least they should be rules, then you could dropkick any fool who tried to break them) that when followed your chances of success increase tenfold.  In other words, the goal is to train hard, get great results and not look like a complete douchebag in the process.

Not to sound like an old man, but with age and experience does come wisdom.  It would be an injustice for me not to pass on the few “pearls” I’ve learned over the years (I’m still learning by the way).

Here are 41 fitness rules to live by:

1. There are NO RULES! – The strongest, fittest and most bad-ass physical specimens walking the face of the earth didn’t get there by following some cookie cutter program in a textbook or magazine.  They got there through trial and error, hard work and discipline, and defying conventional wisdom.  Keeping an open mind and the ability to adapt will keep your training fun and rewarding.

bruce

2. Not all exercise is created equal – If it were, then long walks on the beach would be all we need.  We have to stress our bodies in specific ways to achieve a desired result.  For example, heavy deadlifts and sled pushes produce a drastically different result than a 10km jog.  If you want to be weak and look malnourished then jogging will meet your needs but if you want a body that’s worth a double take, then you’ve got to push weight – on a regular basis.

3. There is no ideal program – You can search high and low trying to find the “perfect” program but it simply doesn’t exist.  What does exist are effective programs that when properly applied produce fantastic results and ineffective programs with no substance that are a complete waste of time.  Anything that forces you to work hard and makes you better than you were yesterday is an ideal program.

4. Compound movement is and always will be king – It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to get bigger, stronger or lose fat, the answer is always to use compound exercise.  I’ve yet to see an effective program that didn’t contain a squat, deadlift, press or row, but I have seen a ton of shitty programs filled with curls extensions, and crunches.

5.  Universal machines are expensive but provide little value –   Pick up a dumbbell or a barbell and learn how to move weight through natural ranges of motion that aren’t predetermined by a machine.  No one’s ever asked you what your max “pec deck” is.

6. “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” – Advancements in technology has changed the way we communicate and live our lives.  In some ways better and in some ways worse.  The abundance of choice we have nowadays has distracted us with useless “wants” however the best results are still achieved when we fulfill our basic “needs.”  Needs such as our primal need for a healthy diet and regular exercise.  A stalk of broccoli was good for you 50 years ago and it still will be 50 years from now much like a chin-up or a lunge.  We’ll never outgrow the basics.

7. The “Big 3” will never go out of style – To further elaborate on #6, the big 3 (squat, bench, and deadlift) and its variations are the foundation of almost any good strength and conditioning program.  Become a master of these exercises and everything else is gravy.

8. Nothing great was ever achieved without intensity – Whether your goal is strength, hypertrophy, work capacity, or fat loss, training at high intensity is undeniably the way to go. Shorter rest periods, more time under tension, steeper inclines, and higher speeds are just a few ways to get to the promise land faster.

9.  No program will work unless you do – It’s not enough to just show up.  You have to put in work and lots of it.  The world’s greatest program is useless without effort.

10. Reserve low intensity cardio for active recovery – A light jog, a long walk or a bike ride are great ways to flush out toxins and keep your muscles loose until it’s time to hit it hard again.

11. Don’t neglect accessory work – Use unilateral exercises to address imbalances and weaknesses.  These exercises aren’t as glamorous as the big lifts but are necessary for proper activation, stability, and strength.  Exercises like single leg deadlifts and single leg glute bridges are an excellent choice.

12.  You don’t always have to go heavy to get stronger – Let me clarify.  You don’t need to always train in the 90% or above range to increase your strength.  Just the other day, I hit a 455lb back squat and I haven’t put more than 400lbs on my back in over 5 years! Don’t underestimate the strength that can be developed at higher rep ranges.  Good quality sets in the 5-15 rep range can produce some shocking results.  It will also be easier on your joints in the long run.

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13.  Don’t neglect your overhead strength – Lifting weight over your head is an often under trained movement pattern.  Like I mentioned earlier, it’s important to train through all major planes of motion to avoid muscular imbalances.  Strong, healthy shoulders will allow you to get more out exercises like benching and chin-ups.

14. Maintain healthy thoracic mobility – Overhead strength does not exist without sufficient thoracic mobility.  Many of you have been unlucky enough to have a job where you sit at a desk all day.  This absolutely destroys your posture and inhibits a lot of major movement patterns including overhead range of motion.  Work on your thoracic mobility to avoid neck and shoulder problems.

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thoracic mobility is critical for overhead movements

15. Lifting shoes can save you a lot of pain and frustration – If you have poor ankle mobility (i.e. you have trouble squatting to full depth and keeping your heels on the ground) then Olympic lifting shoes may be the answer to your problems.  Not to mention, they just look cool.

16.  Hang cleans and hang snatches are the way to go – Olympic lifts performed from the “hang” position are excellent for beginner to intermediate lifters. There’s less room for error (i.e. early arm bending and the bar coming away from the body) and promotes explosive triple extension (hips, knees, and ankles extend simultaneously).  These movements are simply too good to pass up.

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keeping the bar close to the body is essential in Olympic lifting

17.  Strength can solve most problems – Want to run faster? Jump higher? Want a bigger chest and shoulders? 9 times out of 10 the answer is to simply get stronger.  The more weight you can lift, the more force you can produce and the more you can stimulate your muscles to grow.

18.  Women who look best in yoga pants don’t do yoga – Random thought but the irony was too good not to mention it.

19.  Ladies, your ideal body is just a few squats and deadlifts away – Your fat loss efforts will be more successful under the bar than on an elliptical machine.

camille

20. For beginners, training is a sacrifice, for veterans it’s a way of life.

21. Bodybuilding is not for the general public – Bodybuilding works but the workouts are too long and boring for the average Joe to stay committed long enough to get any results.

22.  Less is more – Training doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective.  In fact, there are a relatively small amount of movements worth doing on a regular basis so don’t waste your time with all the “fluff.”

“It’s not daily increase but decrease – hack away the unessential!” – Bruce Lee

23.  The “ideal” body can be achieved with basic strength training, high intensity conditioning, a high protein diet and limited consumption of processed foods PERIOD.

24. Yoga’s greatest value is in active recovery – In the strength and conditioning world, flexibility and mobility are often overlooked and yoga is a great way to address this.

25. Exercise is the best preventative medicine on the planet – The only catch is that it’s hard work and you have to do it regularly.

26.  The secret is to gain momentum – Newton’s Law of Inertia can be applied to fitness as well.  It basically states that it takes less force to keep an object in motion than it does to put it in motion in the first place.  In other words, the hardest part about training is to simply get off of the couch and get started.  Once you’ve established the habit (which for most takes about 6 weeks) and gained some momentum, it’s far easier to stay committed.

27. Overtraining is like the moon – We know it exists, very few have experienced it and it’s so far away that it’s not something the average Joe needs to be concerned about.

28.  Lifting weights is the new prescription medication – Decreasing testosterone levels? High blood sugar? Low bone density? Lift.

29.  Lifting weights fast is the new cardio – Barbell and dumbbell complexes, and intervals using big lifts are the way to shed fat and build a strong set of lungs.

30. If it comes from European descent it’s a good thing – i.e. TURKISH get-ups, BULGARIAN split squats, ROMANIAN deadlifts, RUSSIAN kettlebell swings…

bulgarian

bulgarian split squats aren’t glamorous but they work!

31.  Develop your posterior chain – The best way to develop strength, power, and athleticism is to develop your hip extensors (glutes, hamstrings, and lower back).  Kettlebell swings, sled pushes, and deadlifts are a great start.  Well developed glutes and hamstrings make for an admirable physique that is more resistant to injury not to mention you’ll be as strong as an ox.

hammy

32.  Train your weaknesses – If you suck at an exercise do it at least once a week.  Either at low intensity or high intensity just do it.  Doing what you’re already good at might feel good but it doesn’t make you any better.

33.  A weight vest is a great investment – Another random thought but it’s such a great training tool.

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sky’s the limit with a weight vest!

34. Variety is key but don’t stray too far from the basics – Switching up grips, loading (front vs back), and tempos are easy ways to keep the body guessing.  However, don’t get so creative that the objective of the exercise is completely lost.

35.  Don’t neglect your conditioning – 5-10 minutes of a high intensity finisher at the end your workouts is enough to maintain a good level of conditioning.  It’s far easier to stay lean year round than it is to try and lose 20lbs every summer.

36.  The “listen to your body” conundrum – Veterans need to listen to their bodies more and learn how to take their foot off the gas sometimes and rookies need to learn how to push through discomfort and understand that pain is only temporary.

37.  Compliment your barbell work with high rep bodyweight exercises – Absolute and relative strength are the foundation of a well rounded fitness program.  For every bench press there’s a pull-up, for every deadlift there’s a push up.  You get the picture.

38. Dan John put it nicely – “Put weight overhead. Pick it up off the ground. Carry weight for time or distance. The body is one piece.”  If you’re doing all of these things on a regular basis it’s pretty hard to lose.

39. Crossfit is hard not dangerous – It’s tough, it’s really tough but that’s what makes it so appealing.  If we never pushed the boundaries, no one would’ve ever climbed Mt. Everest and we never would’ve put a man on the moon.  Not all of us are cut out to test the limits of the human body but that doesn’t mean those limits shouldn’t be tested.

40. Veterans are intrinsically motivated and don’t need a reason to push themselves. Rookies are extrinsically motivated and need to book a tropical vacation before they start to take things seriously.

41.  Can’t we all just get along – Bodybuilders, powerlifters, Crossfitters, and anyone that just enjoys being in great shape all share a passion for training.  It makes no sense to judge and ridicule someone else’s training methods if they are achieving their goals and having a good time in the process.  Let’s be honest, everyone steals ideas from everyone so it’s hypocritical to condemn another “system” of training. Bodybuilders use powerlifting methods, Strongmen use bodybuilding methods, and Crossfitters use everything in between so I don’t see what all the fuss is about.  The people that complain about how unhealthy they are but are too lazy to do anything about it are the ones that should be worried.  The rest of us that put in work day in and day out should be open to new ideas and know that there is more than one way to workout.

I hope you enjoyed these few pearls of wisdom, I’m sure I’ll have more for you as time goes on.  Until then, train hard and train with a purpose.

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The Fitness Bucket List: 16 Must-Reach Milestones for the Die Hard Gym Rat!

If you’re competitive and have spent a fair amount of time under the bar then you’ve probably made some notable accomplishments.  Maybe you’ve dropped a waist size, maybe you can finally do a chin-up, or maybe you’ve managed to get to the gym consistently for 3 months straight.

These are all things to be proud of and definitely deserve a pat on the back.  However, I want to take it one step further and look at some SERIOUS feats that only the truly committed could ever achieve. Lifetime accomplishments if you will.

This is for the die hard gym rat, the intermediate to advanced lifter, or someone that simply lives and breathes fitness.  This is for the top 10% that eat clean, train hard, and can bend a barbell just by looking at it!

Now, you’re certainly not going to win any powerlifting competitions or the Crossfit Games with any of these feats but you can certainly consider yourself an accomplished and fit individual. You’ll definitely be on another level compared to most of the people at your gym.

We are going to look at 4 major performance categories: barbell strength, bodyweight strength, conditioning, and body composition.

This is for that 10% that eat clean and can bend a barbell just by looking at it! Click To Tweet

Barbell Strength – Will measure how strong you are in some of the major barbell lifts in absolute terms and relative to your bodyweight.

Bodyweight strength – Also known as relative strength, will measure your strength in the major bodyweight exercises.

Conditioning – Will measure both your aerobic and anaerobic conditioning with various training modalities.

Body composition – Measured as body fat percentage. Looking good takes hard work and discipline too!

The objective is to reach all of these milestones before you retire your jersey and hang it in the rafters.  Ideally, you will have the ability to hit all of these benchmarks at any given time.  See how you size up.

Here are 16 fitness milestones for the die hard gym rat:

Barbell Milestones:

1. Bench press – 315lbs or 1.5x body weight for men/ 135lbs 0r body weight for women

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2. Back squat – 365lbs or 2x body weight for men/ 205lbs or 1.5x body weight for women

365Back-Squat

3. Deadlift – 455lbs or 2.5x body weight for men/275lbs or 2x body weight for women

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gotta love that “deadlift face”

4. Overhead squat – 185lbs or body weight for men/120lbs or .75x body weight for women

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5. Clean – 275lbs or 1.5x body weight/ 165lbs or body weight for women

6. Standing Shoulder Press – 165lbs or .75-.8x body weight for men/85lbs or .65-.7x body weight for women

A 315lb bench press is probably the gold standard as far as bench press is concerned.   If you’re really scrawny (i.e. less than 180lbs) then 315 probably isn’t in the cards for you.  However, 1.5x bodyweight is fantastic nonetheless.  When it comes to the deadlift, once you cross over that 400lb mark that shit is just straight up heavy!  Kudos to you if you can pull 455.

The overhead squat will possibly pose the most problems for most if you have any shoulder mobility/stability issues whatsoever.  It’s arguably the least trained barbell exercise as well.  The clean is also a movement that takes some time to master making 275lbs quite an accomplishment.  Like the saying goes “If it was easy, we’d all be doing it and we’d all look great with our shirts off.”

If it was easy, we'd all be doing it and we'd all look great with our shirts off. Click To Tweet

Bodyweight Milestones:

7. Strict Pull-ups/Chin-ups – 15 for men/8 for women

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8. Push-ups – 50 unbroken for men/30 unbroken for women

9. Dips – 30 unbroken for men/20 unbroken for women

10.  Strict Handstand Pushups – 15 unbroken for men/8 unbroken for women

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11.  Muscle-ups – 5 unbroken for men/3 unbroken for women

Keeping a good balance of absolute and relative strength is the key to being functionally fit.  This is also one of the main objectives in the Pure Payne Method.  Fellas, I hope all those years under the bar didn’t make you too big and heavy cause it would have shown in this section.   This is also an area where the ladies may struggle more due to less strength and muscle mass in the upper body.  It’s not often you see a woman do dips or handstand pushups but when it happens it’s a work of art!  As for muscle ups, one could argue that getting a single muscle up is already enough to start poppin’ bottles! The good news is though, once you’ve got one under your belt, it’s far easier to start getting multiples.

Conditioning Milestones:

It’s time to dust off the lungs and get ready to breathe hard – REALLY HARD!  Despite not being a huge fan of long slow cardio, the distances tested in this section are long enough to test the appropriate energy systems but not so long that you’ll burn 20lbs of muscle trying to complete them. The aerobic system (primary system for activities lasting longer than 2 minutes) is usually trained at low intensity for the purpose of burning fat (although some muscle is burned too).  The anaerobic system (primary system for activities lasting less than 2 mins) is an often undertrained and underestimated one.

12. Run 1 mile – 7 minutes for men/8 minutes for women

13. Row 2000m – 7:20 for men/8:20 for women

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14. Burpees – 100 in 8 minutes for men and women

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15. 100 Meter Sprint – 13 seconds for men/14 seconds for women

The tests that stand out to me are the 2000m row which should not be underestimated as anyone who has ever done this test knows it’s a crippler!  As for burpees, we all know the story with those, you’re just going to have to dig deep into your mental recesses to get through that one. The 100m sprint should also be interesting.  If the last time you sprinted was at your high school track meet or 10th grade basketball tryouts then you might be in for a little treat when you try to turn on the afterburners.  Explosive power is often the most overlooked aspect of any fitness program.

Body Composition Milestone:

16. Body fat percentage – 12% or less for men/ 18% or less for women (can be measured with calipers, hydrostatic weighing, or DEXA scan as long as you use the same measure each time). This is the range where you’ll have some vascularity and you’re abs will show. This is also a range that isn’t too extreme and sustainable with a little bit of work.

Although I’ve never been an advocate of training purely for aesthetics, I would be naive to ignore the hard work and discipline it takes to achieve a lean physique.  For some of you, this might be the most challenging test because it will require you to change your eating habits beyond what you are comfortable with.

If you scored well in one category but poorly in another, don’t sweat it.  You’re probably guilty of training your strengths and avoiding your weaknesses like the plague.  Take it on the chin and use this as motivation to rethink your training and develop a more diverse approach to your workouts.

One last thing, check out this video of Rich Froning overhead squatting 255lbs for 15 reps! Unbelievable!

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97 Ways to Stop Being Average and Become an Alpha Dog!!

Are you an average Joe? Are you someone that just goes through the motions just to get shit over with? Do you think you have more to offer but don’t know how to get out of your funk? Not to worry, you’re not alone.  Only a very small percentage of people wake up in the morning excited to start their day.  It’s time to be one of those people.

You can break out of your shell and live life by your own means by changing your habits and the way you think.  It’s time for you to become a leader, someone who exudes confidence, someone who never gives up until they achieve success.  To quote Eric Thomas “it’s time to be allergic to average!”

Here are 97 ways to step your game up and become an alpha dog.

1. Pay your bills ON TIME and IN FULL – Life is way less stressful without debt.

2. Do something that scares you – Facing your fears builds character.

3. Stop hitting the snooze button – It screws up more than your sleep cycle.

4. Eat more vegetables – Even if they’re not organic it’s a step in the right direction.

5. Sweat – Do this regularly, it’s what your body was meant to do.

6. Cut back on sugarFresh fruit is cool but anything you can buy at 7/11 has gotta go.  Besides the taste, the stuff is basically poison.

7.  Stop buying stupid shit – “Too many people are buying things they can’t afford, with money that they don’t have… to impress people that they don’t like!” – Will Smith

8. Lift weights – Muscle breeds confidence.

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9.  Run uphill – Do you want to be strong and powerful or weak and slow?

10. Set goals – It’s OK to have ambition.

11. Set smaller goals – Small victories lead to HUGE victories.

12. Believe in yourself – Believing is seeing. You can only be successful once you allow yourself to be successful.

13.  Learn how to cook – It’s healthier, cheaper and the ladies will love you!

14. “Eat meat, veggies, nuts seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar” – Greg Glassman

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15. Be on time – Punctuality shows you’re organized and that you care.

16. Be the first one to arrive and the last one to leave – Dedication and hard work always beat natural talent in the long run.

17.  Don’t be a hater – Criticizing other people’s goals and achievements is a waste of energy and makes you look like a fool.

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18. Dress to impress – You can never look too good for the occasion. Look professional. Feel professional. Be professional.

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19. Study successful people – The easiest way to be successful is to model the habits and character traits of those more successful than you.

20. Read books – Not magazines or the newspaper. Books.

21.  Go to bed early – 10-11pm at the latest. You’ll feel better and be more productive.

22. Take naps – One of the best ways to maximize recovery and get more out of your day.

23.  Save money – You never know when that “rainy day” will come but when it does you better have an umbrella!

24.  Everything in moderation – Live life and have fun, just know your limits.

25. Learn an Olympic lift – A power clean at the very least. It will work wonders for your fitness.

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26. Sprint – Anyone can jog, sprinting takes real effort.

27. Keep a clean home – It’s true, cleanliness is next to godliness.

28. Don’t believe the hype – Take everything with a grain of salt. Mass media prides itself in telling you what you want to hear.

29. Challenge the status quo – “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm” or going with the flow.

30. Uplift others – Make it your mission to better yourself as well as make others better and the world will be your oyster.

31.  Pursue your passion – Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.

32. Build a legacy – Do you want to be remembered for something? We all have talents worth sharing.

33. Learn how to communicate -Life is about building valuable relationships.

34. Be realistic not delusional – It’s OK to dream but don’t get your head stuck in the clouds.

35. Think outside the box – Traditional thinking is what keeps you stuck in your same old routine.

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36. Take responsibility for your current station in life – Take credit when credit is due but have the balls to take the blame when things don’t go your way.

37. Wake up early – No one ever got shit done waking up at 11am.

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38. Be competitive – Find something you care enough about that you want to fight for it.

39. Be a student of the game – The learning never stops. Become a master of your craft. Eat, sleep, and breathe what you do best.

40. Eliminate unnecessary stress – Separate yourself from negative people that will only bring you down.

41. Don’t let other people’s opinions influence you – People will always tell you can’t do something. Mostly because they’re too scared to try themselves or because they just don’t want to see you succeed.

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42. Squat regularly – There isn’t a sport or activity that squatting can’t help.

43. Deadlift regularly – Lifting heavy shit is gratifying.

44. Stay lean all year round – There is something to be said for having a six pack in the dead of winter.

45. Interval train – It hurts way more but it’s totally worth it.

46. Take supplements – Only if you’re not eating like shit then they might have some value.

47. Speak your mind – Get your point across and don’t always be so worried about offending people.

48. Stop and smell the roses – You can’t hustle 24/7.  Every now and then you have to stop and appreciate everything you have.

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49. Work for happiness not money – Money, benefits and “security” sometimes aren’t worth it if it’s sapping your energy and making you miserable.

50. Trying puts you ahead of 90% of people.

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51. Do shit that matters – You’re too busy playing video games, watching TV, or dickin’ around on social media. Find a way to improve your life and the life of someone else.

52. Be confident  – Know your strengths and know your weaknesses. Leverage your strengths and outsource your weaknesses.

53. Be humble – Be grateful for everything you achieve and never forget the struggle to get there.

54. Be content not complacent – Don’t be greedy but don’t be lazy either.

55.  Have an opinion – But don’t be opinionated.  There is more than one way to get shit done.

56. There is no off-season – The hustle is year round.  Training, nutrition, business, life. It’s a lifetime commitment.

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57. You can’t please everyone so don’t bother trying.

58. Take risks – They’re opportunities dressed up in disguise.

59. Get rid of useless junk – Declutter your mind and your surroundings.

60. Learn how to dance or play an instrument – Tap into your artistic side, the ladies also love this.

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61. Focus on what’s important – Start each day with your most productive tasks first.

62. Visualize – Every success starts with an idea.

63. Don’t gossip – “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

64.  Don’t hold grudges – Living well is the best revenge.

65. Live within your means but slightly outside of your comfort zone – Be conservative with your spending but liberal with your ambitions.

66. Become an expert listener.

67. Don’t be too proud to get your hands dirty – Everyone’s got to start somewhere and for most of us that’s the bottom.

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68. Take action – Most people love talking about what they “hope” to achieve. It’s the few that actually do something that are remembered.

69.  Laugh – Man, I definitely love a good laugh.  It’s one of life’s greatest medicines.  Find the humor in things especially yourself.

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70. Have only one fear – The fear of being average.

71. Be loyal to your family and friends – Without them you have nothing.

72. Invest in yourself – You are your greatest asset, make it as valuable as possible.

73. Play a sport – Be athletic, build comradery, and learn how to trash talk!

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74. Walk the walk – Take your own advice, nobody likes a hypocrite.

75. Start a business – Even if it’s small and doesn’t make a lot of money it will empower you.

76. Reduce your dairy intake – Like an 80″ TV, it’s not a necessity.

77. Cut the grains – Unless you like feeling bloated all the time.

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79. Be in touch with pop culture – Don’t let it consume your life though.  Kim and Kanye’s life isn’t that amazing.

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80. Learn how to create value – Having the ability to solve people’s problems and improving their lives is the name of the game.

81. Travel – See the world and all it has to offer so you can realize how lucky you really are.

82. Stand up for what you believe in – Have principles and don’t be afraid to stick to them.  There’s already too many yes men in the world.

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83. Don’t discuss religion in public – Controversial.

84. Don’t discuss politics in public – Highly controversial.

85. Don’t discuss Crossfit in public – You’re better off discussing religion or politics…

86. Eat breakfast – Give yourself a fighting chance to have a productive day.

87. Listen to your body – Train hard when you feel good and take your foot off the gas when you’re feeling beat up. You can’t PR everyday.

88.  Eat less snacks – You’re not that hungry, you’re just bored.

89.  Find a good soft tissue specialist(s) – The fitter you get, the more important maintenance becomes. Even a Ferrari needs regular oil changes.

90. Work on your mobility – It’s not glamorous but it needs to be done if you want to train hard and pain free.

91. Try a Crossfit workout – Even if it’s only once, it’s something every fitness enthusiast should experience.

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92. Listen to old school hip hop – It’s just great, feel-good music.

93. Wear Air Jordan’s – They’re timeless and they’re comfy.

94. Never give up – Failure is almost inevitable but that’s what makes the journey so rewarding.

95. Don’t try to “keep up with the Joneses “ – Stay in your lane and run your own race.  Your achievements happen on your schedule not someone else’s.

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96. Read this blog regularly.

97.  Share this with your family and friends.

That’s my rant for today.  I hope these few tidbits help you rise up and get more out of life.

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The One Piece of Equipment You REALLY Need to Get in Shape! Hint: It Ain’t a Barbell..

I’ve been doing this a long time.  Working out and training people that is.  For over 13 years, I’ve been putting myself and others through rigorous workouts and finding great success with many and little to no progress with others.  That’s right, not every person who’s crossed my path has transformed their body into a picture of chiseled granite. Not everyone will.  That’s the hard truth that me and every other passionate trainer out there are going to have to swallow. Having said that, there are definitely some common characteristics I’ve observed with those who have achieved their goals and gotten into great shape.

Obviously, great programming followed consistently will pay huge dividends. For now let’s put aside sets, reps, intensity and all the other “fitness ideologies” that are so heavily debated these days and take a look at the more intangible side of becoming a physical specimen.  Let’s take a look at what REALLY separates the STRONG, LEAN, and CONDITIONED from those that are too scared and/or lazy to even break a sweat.  I’m talking about the most powerful tissue in your body and it sits right between your ears….

A BULLETPROOF MIND

It seems the proper mindset is the driving force behind reaching any type of fitness goal.  I’m not talking about some fleeting motivation that comes around every January and evaporates like morning dew in mid February.  I’m talking about a mindset that is built to last, fortified with an indomitable foundation, and impervious to futile distractions.  This is the cloth that champions are cut from. These are the doers, the people you read about, the alpha dogs if you will..

A bulletproof mindset is comprised of many things including but not limited to the following:

1. ENTHUSIASM – Ralph Waldo Emerson once said ” Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”  When was the last time you saw someone that was in great shape that dreaded going to the gym?  How often do you see that shredded guy lollygagging his way through a workout just to get it over with?  The hard truth is if you don’t wake up excited to hit your next workout you might as well refill your bowl of Doritos, loosen the drawstring in your pants and just bask in your mediocrity.

2. BELIEVING IS SEEING – That’s right, I didn’t write it backwards.  It sounds sounds simple enough but this may be one of the biggest roadblocks to people’s success.  The hard truth is most of you wish you were in better shape but very few of you BELIEVE you can really take your fitness to the next level.  Stop and ask yourself “Do you really think you can get a six pack?” “Do you really think you can do 10 unassisted chinups?” If you don’t think you can succeed why even bother starting an exercise program?  Your wishful thinking has to be turned into concrete confidence. Your determination and will has to be greater than any other external force.  Middle class thinking won’t get you a first class body.

3. THREAD IT INTO YOUR DNA – The strongest, fittest, and leanest don’t get that way by casually working out here and there.  They get there because its a part of who they are; their character, well-being, and happiness are directly intertwined with how well they take care of their bodies.  Make looking and feeling the best you can a purpose in your life.  When a day you haven’t trained feels like a day you haven’t lived, then you have armed yourself with the weapons you need to build a better you.

4. THE JOURNEY IS THE REWARD – Most of us train to achieve some desired goal or result (i.e. get a six pack, lose 10lbs, deadlift twice your bodyweight, etc.) and this is a great way to stay motivated and consistent with your training.  However, the reality is good habits implemented on a daily basis are what separate the good from the great.  Waking up on time, staying hydrated, and treating every rep like it’s your last are just a few of the little things that lead to huge success.  I wake up every morning excited about the PROCESS of becoming better.  The hard truth is there is no destination!  ” The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.”  If you think you’ve arrived, you’ve only made a pit stop.  Every squat, every pullup, every burpee is your reward for not taking the easy way out.  ENJOY THE RIDE!!

5.  GO THE EXTRA MILE – This can be taken both figuratively and literally.  For some of you, getting to the gym and running an extra mile may be exactly what you need to do to step your game up.  The hard truth is you need to go above and beyond the call of duty.  This could mean getting to the gym early, working on your mobility, a few extra sets of cleans, whatever the case may be it’s not enough to just “show up” or “punch your time card.” Hold yourself to a higher standard.  Ask yourself “Am I doing everything I can to be the best I can?”  Nobody ever got to the top just by doing the bare minimum.  I challenge you to push yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of and see where it takes you.

Remember, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste” so rise above the average Joe and do what others are unwilling to do. Then, and only will you stand a chance.

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5 Ways to Have a Great Workout When You’re Feeling Tired…

I don’t know about you, but I find it tough to go balls out in every single workout.  Some days it doesn’t matter what I do, everything just feels heavy and I feel gassed just lifting my gym bag out of the trunk of my car.  I still try to give it the old college try but some days there’s just less gas in the tank for various reasons. Not enough sleep, sore from a previous workout or poor nutrition are just few things that leave me feeling weak and sluggish.  Not to worry, just because you’re not feeling 100% doesn’t mean your workout has to be a complete write off.  A few small adjustments can make the world of difference.  Here are 5 ways that I’ve found help to not only salvage a mediocre workout but also make it worthwhile and productive.

1. Longer warm-ups – Sometimes the body can be like an old car when the engine just needs time to warm up before you pull out of the driveway.  An extra 5-10mins of light cardio, stretching, and foam rolling can help to get the blood flowing and wake up that old nervous system.  Getting a good sweat going will also loosen up the joints and mentally and physically prepare you for the work ahead.

2.  Go lighter – Sounds simple enough but sometimes it’s hard to leave your ego at the door and just do what your body will allow on that given day.  You can’t set PR’s every time you step into the gym – at least I can’t.  That doesn’t mean that you still can’t have a productive workout.  Taking your lifts down 5-10% can be just enough to allow you to get through a tough workout instead of quitting halfway and feeling like a complete waste of space.

3. Do more accessory work – When you’re energy is low, this is a perfect opportunity to work on the less glamorous  things.  Lunges, single leg deadlifts, dumbell rows, and pushups are examples of great exercises that attack your weaknesses but are far less demanding than the big lifts. This will give both your nervous system and muscular system a break and a chance to regenerate.

4. Focus on your strengths – This may sound like a slight contradiction to #3 but sometimes when you’re not feeling the greatest the best way to get your mojo going is to pick 2 or 3 of your favorite exercises and have at it!  What better way to lift my mood and redeem my workout than by doing what I’m good at?  Just because my energy is rock bottom doesn’t mean my self esteem has to be too!

5. Suck it up princess – If I only worked out when my body wasn’t sore and tired, I’d probably train once MAYBE twice per week.  At some point, you have to accept that life will always be busy and you have to make health and fitness a priority.  Greatness is never achieved without a certain degree of sacrifice and fortitude.  The Pure Payne Method is a free workout program but there is still one cost – EFFORT! At some point you have to ask yourself how bad do you want it and make a decision.

Next time your feeling 50/50 about training keep these few tips in mind and see how if you can get a better workout.

Do you have a hard time staying consistent with your workouts? What is your biggest obstacle? Drop a comment below!

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Drop this Bad Habit to Increase Your Productivity and Take Control of Your Life

I’m a true believer that doing the little things extremely well over and over again is what leads to huge success.  A great quote by Jacob Riis sums up what it takes to be successful “Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it.  Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”  Never underestimate the power of consistent, intentional effort.

I’m always looking for ways to do things better inside and outside of the gym.  Studying the habits and personality traits of highly successful people is one of my favorite hobbies.  I’ve learned a lot about what makes successful people tick and there is always one trait that continues to stand out in my mind – waking up early and starting your day with productive tasks.  That means, getting up and focusing on tasks that will improve your life and move you closer towards your goals.   I’m talking about things as simple as getting up early enough so you have enough time to make a healthy breakfast or get in a quick workout.  This can be challenging for a lot of people since we have so many distractions in our lives like social media, television, and just day to day chores that tire us out. However, I’m a firm believer that there are two paths in life – one that is filled with excuses and one that paves the way to results and kicking ass in life! I, for one,  am all about results and getting shit done so I’m game for anything that points me in that direction.

If you want to increase your productivity and take control of your life there are many things you can do but if you want to get the ball rolling you can start by dropping this one bad habit:

STOP HITTING THE SNOOZE BUTTON!!

If you thought you were doing yourself a favor by trying to catch a few extra z’s, you’re dead wrong.  Literally, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee!

There are 2 key reasons why the snooze button is killing your mojo and zest to get shit done.  The first reason is physiological and the second is psychological.  Let’s take a look at the physiological first.

Physiologial reasons not to hit the snooze button: When you’re sleeping, your body alternates between light sleep and deep (REM) sleep during the sleep cycle.  As your body is preparing to wake up it enters a light cycle which is usually interrupted by your alarm clock.  It’s this interruption that can lead to grogginess, grumpiness, or a completely bitchy attitude that some of you wake up with.  Hitting snooze to get a few more minutes sleep won’t actually help you feel better because the extra sleep is taking place during your light sleep cycle which is less restful than REM sleep.  In a nutshell, you will feel equally if not more tired if you hit snooze due to the low quality sleep that occurs during that time.

Psychological reason why we hit the snooze button:  Now I’m going to be speaking from personal experiences and observations I’ve made over the years that explain why people are so quick to snooze.

Procrastination – many of us live lives that are unhappy and unfulfilling for  various reasons. Maybe you hate your job, you never get to see your family, or you simply never get a chance to go out and have any fun. Whatever the case may be, you hit snooze to delay starting your dreaded day ahead.

If you find yourself procrastinating you need to start asking yourself some hard questions and find out what YOU can do to make your life better.  That’s right, it’s up to you get in the driver’s seat and go where you want.

  • Do I like my career?
  • Where do I see myself in 5 years? 10 years?
  • I am happy with my state of health/fitness?
  • 20 years from now when I look back at my life, will I be satisfied with everything I achieved or will I have regrets?

These are just a few questions you should ask yourself and BE HONEST! You’re not doing anyone any favors by lying to yourself.  Once you’ve answered these questions, you need to set some goals and make an action plan to start taking steps toward living the life that you want.

After you’ve set your goals and made your action plan you need to make sure you get a good night’s sleep.  You can either go to bed a little earlier or set your alarm to go off a little later so you can increase the quantity and QUALITY of your sleep.  Either way, no more snoozing.  Consider this the first strike against the stone.  Every successful day that follows will eventually lead to splitting that stone in half.  Remember, you’re in the driver’s seat, it’s up to you where you want to go.

Do you hit the snooze button and if so, what do you think is the source of your procrastination? Drop a comment below!