Strength and Performance

Getting bullshit strong and maximizing athletic performance.


free strength and conditioning workoutI don’t share my workouts often, but every once in a while I open the vault and put one out there. Today is one of those days.

As some of you know, I run my business out of a local (and very good) Crossfit facility. Once per week I take over all of their classes with an “Underground Strength Day” (so named because of my certification with Zach Even-esh). My objectives on this day are as follows:
Read more on FREE Strength and Conditioning Workout…


kettlebell turkish get-up variationHope your day is going well. It’s bright and sunny here, and after a long winter, let me assure you that this weather is a welcome thing!

I’ve heard a couple of people talking lately about how even though they’re seeing great results in the gym… they’re bored with just doing the basic exercises.

I have to be honest, I don’t know as though there’s anything boring about getting bigger, stronger, and more jacked. If the basics were getting me there I’d just hammer the hell out of them before I tried to get tricky, myself.

However, I do appreciate coming into the gym and playing around a little. So I was scrolling through my old raw video footage and found a good one: The Chaos-style Turkish Get-up.
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The other day I opened up my email (like I do far too often for wise time management) and was pleasantly surprised to see an email from one of my former South Carolina clients, Seth. Upon reading the email I was floored, and frankly, I was humbled. It’s sometimes hard as a writer to know if people are really reading your stuff, and even harder still to get the sense of what you’re trying to put across is getting through to them.

To put it bluntly, I don’t write this stuff for my health… I write it for yours.

Well, this letter let me know that at least one person is “getting me”. I won’t steal his thunder, but what I want to point out here is that Seth has internalized what’s truly important for success: Making things happen even when it’s not perfect.
Read more on Make It Happen Monday – Client Makes It Happen…


I have many lusts and flirtations in the gym, but I have one true love, and that is the Deadlift. Well, ok, sometimes I cheat on the Deadlift with the Good Morning, but being asked to choose between the two is like picking between Jessica Biel and… I don’t know, her equally-athletic redheaded sister (if she has one of those, be kind and don’t tell me.)? Either way, some decisions are just against nature.
Read more on Farm Strong Friday – Band-resisted Deadlifts…


One of the great and at the same time frustrating things about starting a site like this from scratch is that unless you’re already very well-known then you spend a fair amount of time writing to very little traffic (thanks for reading, Mom!). Eventually, assuming that you’re good and/or entertaining, your work will pick up steam and you’ll develop a solid readership base. That’s always gratifying and it’s why you started publishing in the first place, right? I mean, if I were writing all of this stuff just to get it off my chest or merely as a therapeutic expression of my inner self (I’m not nearly so pretentious) then I’d never publish.

However, that’s not the case. This is both my voice and a business for me, and so I put it out there. I’m pretty stoked that anyone reads it at all, honestly. The frustrating thing about blogging is that there’s a while where you’re writing what needs to be good content (to attract people) but nobody’s reading because you’re unknown. And since most people don’t have time to dig through tons and tons of blog posts (I sure don’t) your new readers tend to pick up where they land. This is all well and good, but it means that they’ve missed out on a lot of good stuff.

So in light of that, and because there’s been a lot of new readers ’round these parts lately combined with the fact that I just passed my 100th post, I’ve decided that it might be a good time to catch up on some classic articles that you guys might have missed.

So I cranked up the Way Back Machine (kudos to you if you get that reference) and pulled out a handful of articles that I thought deserved a second read. Cheers.
Read more on Buried Treasure – 5 Articles You Shouldn’t Have Missed…


We’re experiencing a mini-heat wave here in Maine this weekend into today. My handy app says that in Bangor it’s 56 degrees, bright, and sunny, which for the early middle of March up in this neck of the woods is pretty sweet. Given that it’s t-shirt and bikini weather (for Maine) we’ve got the doors open to the gym, the music is cranked, people are running sprints, and sleds are being pulled. It’s awesome.

The energy of the gym has been great, but it’s definitely on another level today. After a long winter people are taking the day to get outside, do some things they haven’t done in a while, and just get the Vitamin D factories going. There’s something special about being outdoors on a great day to train that just makes it better.
Read more on Make It Happen Monday – Change Your Scenery…


I had a client this week comment that the training we do doesn’t just get you gym strong; it gets you “farm strong”. By that he meant that we don’t just turn people into weight room warriors, but we make you real world strong and give you abilities that you can apply. Needless to say, I took it as a compliment.

As an example of the difference, the NFL Combine just took place. If you live under a rock and somehow enjoy this blog but not football (really?) the Combine is basically a showcase of athletes showing off gym athletic skills that scouts use in an attempt to evaluate college players towards their future pro carriers. There’s no real football involved, but lots of sprint, jump, lifting, and position-specific drill testing.
Read more on Farm Strong Friday – Build a Stronger Grip…


When it comes to training to build muscle, lose fat, gain strength, and improving your conditioning at the same time, I implement a lot of circuit training with my clients. Now, if you’re looking to promote any one quality of fitness (speed, overall strength, endurance, etc), it’s best to put a strong emphasis on that quality, obviously. For example, if you’re trying to develop maximal (limit) strength, then you’re best off training with very heavy loads in a relatively rested state. Performing a fast-paced, high repetition, light weight circuit is not going to be the fastest way to gain limit strength.

However, “assistance” movements, which are usually less systemically stressful and focused more on hypertrophy (muscle growth), can usually be accommodated into more of a circuit format. This allows us to speed up the overall workout and do some mild conditioning without getting in the way of strength gains.

What do I mean? Many people do their assistance something like this: They perform a set of ten pull-ups, waiting a minute, and repeating until they get four sets before moving on to do the same thing with dumbbell presses. Instead, they could do a set of pull-ups, rest thirty seconds, do a set of dumbbell presses, rest thirty seconds before going back to the pull-ups, and so on. This saves a ton of time and will create a conditioning effect (your body is doing more work in less time) without really compromising your strength on either the pull-ups or the presses. At first you might notice a little dip in strength (more from the discomfort of being a little out of breath), but after a week or two your conditioning will improve to where your strength is steady again.

All right, so teaming up your assistance stuff can be pretty cool, right?
Read more on Strength and Conditioning Circuits – The Smart Way…


So yesterday I was procrastinating by cruising around Facebook and up popped an announcement from Chris Beardsley and Bret Contreras that they’d teamed up to create a monthly research review on strength and conditioning. This immediately piqued my interest as I’d literally just been lamenting to one of my trainer buddies that there wasn’t a good “clearing house” of research in the S&C field. I’m a research nut but always struggle to find time to search out and pour through studies over a wide variety of journals. Given the limits on my time, no matter what I do I’m always a little behind. I know both Chris and Bret are very meticulous in their own study of the research, so I definitely was interested in what they would be putting out.

Given my excitement, I shared the announcement I’d seen on FB and it sparked a little discussion regarding the product, its perceived quality, and whatnot. From that thread Chris shot me a note offering me a month of the service if I’d review it. Needless to say, I jumped on that opportunity, and here’s what I think:
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In my last post I made a statement that it’s very possible and common to gain strength while losing fat, as opposed to most people who insist that you need to get weaker to get leaner.

One of the members at the gym very kindly read the post and asked me to go into a bit more detail. I was on my way out the door to go see a play (see, there is a little culture in my game!) so I gave him a pretty quick answer. It was a great question, though, so I thought I’d go into a bit more detail here. Paul, this one’s for you.
Read more on How To Gain Strength While Losing Fat…