Be Intentional

Being intentional is having a purpose for everything you do, when you do it.

It’s giving your full attention to the task at hand.

It’s putting first things first.

Whether at the gym, at work, or at home, it’s important that your actions reflect your goals and add value. It’s so easy to get comfortable with daily life, mindlessly going through the motions. It’s like when you’re driving, and you arrive at your destination without any recollection of how you got there. Sometimes we all need to take a step back, look at how we’re spending our time, and re-evaluate.

How are you spending your time?

Do you have a schedule?

Any habits and routines that you can lean on, even when you’re at your busiest?

Are those habits moving you closer to, or further from, achieving your goals?

Is the way you’re spending your time reflective of your goals?

Do you even have goals?

Where do your priorities lie?

Are the things you’re doing every day indicative of those priorities?

These are tough questions.

I still struggle with them.

But rather than running from them, use them to audit yourself and make improvements.

And, “Wherever you are, be all there.”

Seek Adversity

Why do I wake up every day at 4 AM?

Why do I get to the gym before the sun rises?

Why do I train while others sleep?

Why do I push myself to failure?

Why, day after day, do I keep coming back?

Why do I lift weights in the first place?

Because it makes everything else easier.

“Fire is the test of gold;
adversity, of strong men.”

Be The Example

One of the biggest motivators I had to leave my previous job and pursue my passion was the conversation I knew I’d eventually have with my son.

How was I supposed to tell Gavin that he can be whatever he wants to be when he grows up, if I’m not what I want to be?

That phrase always sounded so woo-woo to me when I was a kid. That you could “be whatever you want to be”. To be honest, I never believed it. I don’t think most do.

Looking back, it was because I CHOSE not to believe it. I chose to stay in my little bubble of comfort and security and ease. I chose to trust only what I knew, and not even consider the greater possibilities.

When Gavin grows up, I want him to know he has a choice. That he truly can do whatever he wants. And I want him to look to me as the example.

Loaded Carries: The Missing Movement

The 6 Essential Movement Patterns are:

  • Squat
  • Hinge
  • Lunge
  • Push
  • Pull
  • CARRY

Most people get plenty of exposure to the first 5, but what about number 6?!

Loaded carries are the best exercise you’re not doing. They build a rock solid core, strong grip, stable shoulders, and a big upper back. They’re also one hell of a mental challenge.

Best of all? They’re as simple as they sound- just pick something up and walk.

Kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, med balls, sand bags, plates...they all work. You can carry them at your sides, in front of your body, overhead, or on your back. You can go long distance/time with light weight, or short distance/time with heavy weight.

Add these to your program at least once a week, and you’ll never take two trips to unload the groceries again.

3 Tips for Perfect Kettlebell Swings

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Kettlebell Swings are one of the best all-purpose exercises available to athletes. They can improve power and explosiveness, level-up conditioning, and build a rock-solid posterior chain. Here are 3 tips to help you get the most out of them:

1. Start with the Kettlebell In Front

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Starting the swing with the kettlebell directly between your legs or from standing often makes it tough to generate momentum and puts a ton of stress on the lower back. The proper starting position should be with the kettlebell on the ground, just in front of you. Setting up with the bell out in front allows you to sink into a strong neutral spine position, with your arms extended and hips back. From there, your first move is to pull the bell high between your legs, like you’re a center hiking it to a quarterback.

2. HINGE!!!

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The kettlebell swing is a hip hinge, NOT a squat. Keep soft knees (slightly bent), but don’t bend them further as you move through the exercise. Instead, break at the hips- pushing them back and forth as you go. Don’t let the kettlebell sink below your knees. Doing so will put a ton of pressure on your lower bacl. Instead, keep it close to your groin, using your hips and posterior chain to explosively propel the kettlebell forward.

3. Finish Tall

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The finished position for the kettlebell swing is a tall, vertical posture with glutes squeezed and core engaged. At the top end of the movement, the kettlebell should be “floating”- that is, you’re no longer forcing it upward with your arms and shoulders. The bell should only travel as high as your initial hip snap allows it to, not any further by using the upper body. Trying to force the weight up higher by hyperextending will only put unnecessary strain on your lower back.

3 Tips for Perfect Band Pull Aparts

Band Pull Aparts are an essential exercise for correcting posture, improving shoulder health, and building a strong upper back. Here are 3 tips to make sure you do them right:

1. Shoulders Down & Back

Shrugged shoulders while pulling puts too much focus on the (already overactive) upper traps. Actively focus on keeping your shoulder blades retracted to target the lower traps and rear delts.

2. Hide Your Ribs

Credit to my friend Mitch on this cue. Maintain a neutral spine and avoid arching at the back- even when the movement gets tough.

3. Straight Elbows and Wrists

Bending at the elbows and wrists as you pull will burn out your arms long before your back. A slight bend in the elbow throughout is ok, but squeeze the band tight and keep your knuckles pointed forward.

#1 Fitness Tip for Beginners

The new year is fast approaching, which means that gyms will once again be full of people hoping to “get in better shape” in 2018. But where do you begin? With so much misinformation, counter-information, magic fat burning pills, detoxes, and crazy exercises dominating social media, it’s hard to know who to trust. Luckily for you, I’ve brought together 6 of the top coaches and trainers in the industry to share their #1 fitness tip for beginners.

Start Slow - Ben Boudro (@benboudro)

We've heard it way too often. You attempt to do it all at once. Food tracking, meal prepping, figuring out macro's...When do I workout? How often do I workout? Should I do fasting? When do I stop eating carbs? All of this can lead you to being super overwhelmed, then frustrated then before you know it, you are at that spot where you just say "screw it! I'm done!" 

That happens WAY too often in fitness and it doesn't have to be that way. 

My biggest suggestion is to choose ONE THING, yes, ONE THING to focus on each day. 

When choosing that ONE THING, make it something that by doing it, makes everything else easier or unnecessary. Basically, choose ONE THING that will actually make a difference in your fitness journey.

For the first 2 weeks, make sure that it's something very simple. An example can be: "Do a healthy habit for 5-minutes today." or "sweat today." or "walk the dogs today." It's important that you make it very painless and easy to do when first getting started. 

Oh yeah, and don't try to choose 2 or 3 things because it never works. Multi-Tasking is bullshit. Choose one thing and stick to it. Then after 2-weeks, choose something that's just slightly more challenging like: "eat a veggie at every meal" or "drink 1 gallon of water every day." 

The important thing here is that YOU choose the habits you want to learn and that YOU write them down every single day.... Oh, wait, your too busy to write this down every day?....Bullshit. 

Writing these down every day takes you less than 2-minutes to do and will make a huge impact on your fitness journey. 

Trust it. Start slow, choose your ONE THING and hold yourself accountable. 

You'll be amazed at what this will lead to over time. 

Chase It! 

Quality Over Quantity - Mitch Gill (@gilltrainingsystems)

Beginning a journey to a fitter, better you can be scary. What do I eat? What workouts do I do? So many questions.

But the first thing I tell people who are embarking on a fitter lifestyle, “Focus on quality over quantity.”

This can bleed into many areas of their lives but my primary focus is on the quality of movement and not the quantity (reps, weight, etc.). Focusing on quality of exercise will lead to less injury and much bigger gains in the long run. An injured body is an idle body and can set you further from your goals than before you started.

Set Process Goals - Cory Carpenter (@corcarpfit)

Process goals are a great way to build positive momentum and instill daily habits that will turn into a lifestyle with no end in sight.

So, what is a process goal?

A process goal is simply a goal that focuses on the process of reaching the ultimate product.

Example: My product goal is to lose 50 lbs. So, I will set numerous process goals to get me there. I will lift weights 3 days per week. I will walk or jog 3 days per week. I will eat at least 3 healthy meals each day. I will drink no less than 1 gallon of water each day. There is no limit to the amount of process goals you can set, but I recommend starting with just a few and then slowly adding more in as to not overwhelm yourself.

A product goal can take a long time; it can be discouraging and really test your patience. But, if you pick 3 things (exercise, eat, drink) and complete them each day, the ultimate goal of losing the weight will actually take care of itself. The daily small victories will continuously build positive momentum; and instill healthy habits (processes) that will stay with you long after you’ve lost all the weight.

Don’t Take On Too Much At Once - John Papp (@johnpappfitness)

My number one tip for anyone just starting out on their fitness journey is to not take on to many changes at one time.

Don't try to eat strict keto, workout five days a week, do 20 minutes of daily mobility, sleep 8 hours a day, and drink a gallon of water if you haven't been doing any of those things. I usually recommend to my clients to pick 1-3 habits, depending on the specifics and their circumstances, to focus on at one time.

For example, if we are starting from the ground floor I want them to focus on working out during their scheduled sessions with me and picking one healthy food to add to their diet. Once they get that down we add another healthy food in place of something not so healthy and maybe we start to add in a short walk two days a week. We repeat this process until their lifestyle and nutrition are completely transformed.

Taking on too many things at once will be overwhelming and chances are you won't stick with it and reach your goals.

Earn, Learn, Achieve - Justin Ochoa (@justin_m_ochoa)

This piece of advice is the best general tip I can give anyone, in any industry. It’s not fitness specific, but it’s massively important to your success in this industry.

My biggest tip for a young professional is to realize these three things:

  1. You are owed absolutely NOTHING. Drop any sense of entitlement. Earn it.

  2. You know absolutely NOTHING. You may think you know it all, but a true professional is always learning. The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know much at all.

  3. There is absolutely NOTHING stopping you. If you want something, you can go get it. It doesn’t matter what obstacles you come across, and you will come across them. If you can breathe, you can win. Let nothing stop you.

Those are the three things that I am grateful to have instilled in me by my parents at a young age. These attitude checks will keep you on a straight path on your journey. Lock in, stay focused and go reach every goal you set.

Don’t Wait - Todd Sabol (@toddsportsmed)

My #1 tip for beginners is as straight-forward as it gets, however that does not mean it is easy.

Don’t wait.

When starting your fitness journey, or any journey for that matter, you need to realize first and foremost that everyone starts at different points. You need to be content with that. If you wait for the right moment, the right opportunity, you will never take that leap. You will eventually look back and regret not jumping into the fire and that is the scariest thing, but it is completely controllable.

I wish I would have had someone write this article for me back in 2008. But I sit here now in 2017 writing this article, and write it for someone that is waiting. Waiting to reach out to their mentor, waiting to take an internship to learn about fitness, waiting to study for their certification exam, waiting to become their best self. I urge you reading this to stop waiting.

As scary or as uncomfortable of the thought is that you are putting off, I guarantee the feeling of regret you will have in 10 years of not going all in on your passion will be worse. Take it from someone who has made many mistakes. Stop reading this now and send that email, make that phone call, visit that gym, learn from your mentor, do whatever it is that you said you weren’t ready for and prosper. I promise you will not regret it.

Big Rocks - Me

What, you didn't think I was going to get in on this too?!

My biggest piece of advice for anyone beginning their fitness journey is to lift the big rocks.

Focus on the things that really matter. The things that have stood the test of time and undeniably work.

Too often, people get tripped up on the little pebbles. "Should I try going keto? What about vegan? What's better, dumbbells or kettlebells? Morning or night workouts?"

It's questions like these that become overwhelming in a hurry, and ultimately lead to failure.

Instead, focus 99% of your attention on these 3 big rocks:

  1. Eat real food. Meat, eggs, veggies, fruit, nuts, and earth-grown starches.
  2. Move your body. Bodybuilding, Crossfit, running, swimming, hiking...it doesn't matter.
  3. Enjoy it. Eat food that you like. Do workouts that you like. It's the only way it will ever be sustainable.

Stoic

I have been pretty stoic since my mom passed a few months ago. I'm still not sure if that's just my personality, or if it's a "mask" that I'm wearing (as Lewis Howes would say).

I suppose time will tell.

I haven't been outwardly emotional about it, and most of the time I'm able to get through the day without it drastically effecting me. In certain instances, however, its rough. Visiting her resting place, holidays, and Aubrey sharing memories of finger-painting with grandma are just a few of the things that really get to me.

This letter is also one of those things.

This letter was written by someone I knew in high school. As he says, we were never particularly close, but we played sports together and hung out on occasion. A few years ago he made some mistakes, got into some trouble, and is now in prison.

His mom posts these letters on his Facebook page. I'm not sure how, or if, he knows I read them. But I have. Every single one. They're extremely thoughtful and real. In fact, he seems to have grown more over the past few years in there than most people I know out here.

I'm not sure why a few words about my mom from a person I haven't spoken to in 10 years weigh so heavily on me.

Maybe it's because he chose his only method of connecting with the outside world to send his condolences to me and share a beautiful memory about my mom.

Or maybe it's because I often overlook some of the seemingly small, but exceptional traits that my mom had, which he writes about here.

Either way, this is something I will hold on to forever.

I try to treat all people with respect. Always have.

Now I know where I get it from.

Lead By Example

I love having my little guy in the gym with me.


A really interesting statistic I learned from Ben Greenfield from his recent appearance on the Onnit Podcast with Kyle Kingsbury is that the *NUMBER ONE* indicator of a child's performance on a Bleep Test (the test we all took in PE where you run from one side to the other- which generally indicates a kid's fitness level) is how physically fit the child perceives their parents to be.


Isn't that crazy?!


It's not even about how fit the parents actually are, but rather how fit the child THINKS they are.


So what does that mean for parents?

  • Bring your kids to the gym.
  • Involve them in your workouts.
  • Do fun, physical activities with them.
  • Educate them on a healthy lifestyle.

As any parent will tell you, kids pick up things faster than you could imagine. They're always watching, listening, learning.


Do your child a favor and lead by example.

The Case To Compete

“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” - Socrates
 

Recently, I’ve read a lot of articles from fitness pros urging people to steer clear of bodybuilding competitions. They argue that it’s an ugly sport- full of drugs, big egos, unhealthy practices, and emotionally damaging behavior. To their credit, they’re not totally wrong.

But it’s not all bad. In fact, I would argue that competing has some very distinct advantages. Advantages that extend well beyond the gym. Take a look behind the curtain, and you’ll find that stepping on stage could be exactly what you need.

Yes, YOU.

No, I’m not talking to those of you who are just beginning your fitness journey. Nor you “weekend warriors” who sprinkle a bit of exercise into your schedule to stay healthy (which there’s absolutely nothing wrong with).

I’m talking to you, the guy or girl who has spent 5-6 days a week in the gym consistently for years. You, who has tried every workout program and nutrition plan under the sun. You, my fellow fitness professional. You, who has reached a level of commitment and dedication unmatched by 99% of your peers.

If you’re one of those people, congratulations! You’ve probably already built a body that you should be very proud of. But like the great poet Meek Mill once said, “There’s levels to this shit.” I believe, that at least once in your life, you should take your physique to the highest level, get as ripped as possible, and compete in a show.

Here’s why.

Put a Date on the Calendar

It’s definitely possible to reach a high level of fitness without competing. You can get pretty shredded and pretty strong, especially by “normal” standards. But without a date on the calendar, there’s no way you’ll reach your peak potential.

A date on the calendar creates a sense of urgency.

It gives you a deadline.

It provides a purpose for all of the hard work.

If you’ve been hitting the gym consistently for a long time with no date on the calendar, I’m willing to bet you’ve hit a plateau. Unfortunately, it’s very possible that you look exactly the same as you did 6 months ago, a year ago, or even more.

I was stuck in that trap for years- going to the gym almost daily and eating *pretty* good year-round, but my physique never really changed. It was only when I decided to sign up for a competition that I was able to take things to the next level. The very scary, very real thought of standing up on stage being judged is the kick-in-the-ass that can take you from 95% committed to 100%.

Establish a New Level of Discipline

As I mentioned earlier, working out regularly and eating healthy isn’t easy. It takes a great deal of discipline. But the discipline it takes to compete (and win) is on a totally different level.

Prior to competing, I ate right probably 90% of the time. I prepped all of my meals and filled my grocery cart with tons of lean protein and veggies, but I also indulged in treats pretty often.

Anytime someone brought donuts and kolaches to work, I was all over it.

Going out to eat? You can bet I’m knocking down a full basket of tortilla chips and drinking a margarita or two.

But when it’s competition season, those things just won’t cut it.

When you compete, you establish a new level of discipline. Not just in your training and nutrition, but in all aspects of life. You realize how far you can push your mind and body. That dedication truly spills over into every facet of life, if you’re open to it.

Learn More About Your Body

When you’re getting ready to step on stage, your body becomes a science experiment. Every little addition or subtraction has an effect on your appearance. You take your training and nutrition to such an extreme level that you begin to notice which exercises and foods truly work for you. The diet and workout advice handed out by the masses may be great in theory, but as any good trainer will tell you- everybody is different.

As a beginner, the big rocks are really the only thing that matter.

Eat real food.

Train hard.

Be consistent.

But as you get to a more advanced level, you have to focus on the small pebbles, too. For example, chicken breasts are “healthy”, but not every single person reacts well to chicken. Some could feel and look better on beef. Some people’s bodies react extremely well to early morning training. Others may be better on afternoons or evenings.

You can’t ever directly apply any other person’s methods and expect them to work the same for you. Instead, you must learn through trial and error. Experiment!

When you compete, you’ll learn a ton about your body that you can apply for the rest of your life. You may find that you should cycle on and off certain foods. Or what body parts respond to training volume faster than others. Or whether you perform better fasted or with 2-3 meals in your body prior to training. At this advanced level, it’s all about the details.

Get As Shredded As Possible

Just once, don’t you want to see what your body looks like at it’s fullest potential? To see how far you can push your physique? The “on stage” look isn’t sustainable year-round. You’ll only have it for a few days, or maybe even a few hours.

But it’s worth it.

It’s worth it to know what you look and feel like at your absolute peak. It’s worth it to push yourself to the limit for a few months. Not to prove anyone wrong or to show others that you have what it takes, but to experience the gratification that comes with hard work, sacrifice, and dedication.

Competing isn’t for everybody.

In fact, it’s not for most people.

But if you’re one of those who I described in the intro- someone who has been itching to take their already “good” physique to the highest possible level- face your fears and get on stage.

Feet in the Dirt, Head in the Clouds

The dirt.

Waking up at 4 AM.

Commuting 2+ hours a day.

Training alone in an empty gym.

Working in a cubicle.

Reading, watching, and listening to content.

Creating content. 

Prepping meals.

Working in a cubicle. 

Calling, texting, and emailing clients. 

Waking up in the middle of the night to feed Gavin.

Skipping happy hours, celebrations, and weekend trips.

Working in a cubicle. 

 

The clouds.

Making an impact.

Helping people live happier and healthier.

Proving to my friends that a 9-to-5 isn't the only option. 

Giving my wife the life that she deserves.

Showing my son and daughter that it is possible to do whatever you want when you grow up.

Making my mom proud.

Making my dad proud.

Living life on my terms.

Hitting the snooze button. 

The Best of Last Week: 10/02 - 10/08

 

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ET's incredibly powerful response to the incident in Vegas last week. "Greatness is remembering in the dark what God told you in the light." *Chills*

 

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The MFCEO Project: How to Beat Burnout, with Andy Frisella - MFCEO178

Sometimes a piece of content comes your way just when you need it most. I've been feeling pretty burned out for the past month, and this podcast gave me great perspective on the emotions I've been feeling and provided some tips to get back on track.

 

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My man Justin, fresh off of a major back surgery, lists 10 ways to injure yourself in the gym. Unfortunately, I found myself guilty of nearly all of these at one point or another.

 

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Charles Staley sheds light on 5 of the most common mishaps among struggling lifters, and gives advice on how to fix them. I see these issues all the time, even in advanced trainees.

 

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Jeff Cavaliere of ATHLEAN-X thoroughly explains what leads to rounded shoulders and gives four stretches/exercises to fix them. This one is EXTREMELY helpful.

 

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Luka Hocevar provides 4 extremely helpful motivational "secrets" in this quote-worthy episode, littered with tons of great takeaways.

 

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What the Brain Reveals About Gratitude by Glenn Fox

New research sheds light on the physiology of gratitude, bringing us closer to being able to understand and harness the health benefits of this powerful emotion.

 

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Evan Carmichael: Best Entrepreneur Videos of the Month - #EntRoundup

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The Best of Last Week: 09/04 - 09/10

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The Secret to Living Longer May Be Your Social Life | Susan Pinker

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Road to the Show: 2 Weeks Out

Date: 07/16/2017

Weeks to Show: 2

Weight: 173.6 lbs.

Training

  • AM: Conditioning/Cardio (1 hour)
  • PM: Multiple Body Parts Every Workout
    • Additional Post-Workout Conditioning/Cardio (30 minutes)
    • Training twice per week with my coach
  • Posing/abs daily

Nutrition

  • 1 day low carb, 1 day high carb
  • 4 moderately-sized meals per day
    • Protein, carb, and fat sources vary meal-to-meal and day-to-day
  • 1-2 additional protein shakes per day
  • No scheduled cheat meal

Supplements

  • 2,000 mg L-Carnitine (500 mg 4x daily)
  • 1,500 mg L-Arginine (500 mg 3x daily)
  • 200 mg Caffeine
  • Species Nutrition Lipolyze
  • Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard
  • Max Effort Muscle Test Booster