5 Things To Look For In A Personal Trainer

Recently CNN posted an article entitled “5 Things To Look For In A Personal Trainer”.  The traits were Patience, Communication, Professionalism, Education, and Personality.  Overall it was a decent article but certainly some overlap in the qualities.  So here are my picks.

1.  Reputation of the training facility/business.  I think this is without a doubt the most important factor.  If the business itself is well known/reputable/well respected, not just the individual coach, there is a strong possibility that the entire team is a good choice to work with.


2. Personality, as stated in the CNN article, is certainly important.  Not everyone is a great match.  Some people are looking to specifically be coached, which is why I like that word.  Others are expecting to have Jillian Michaels yell at them until they cry and start to question why anyone would ever love them.  She’s much less a coach than a trainer.  Going back to the facility idea, depending on the size of the staff there is probably some diversity in personalities among the staff but the training philosophy remains the same, which has likely built the reputation.

Jill M

3.  Communication is important in any relationship.  I think we all know that.  The example given in the article sounds more to me like education.  For me communication means asking a lot of questions and then listening, especially in the beginning, but even on a daily basis.  Not everyday is going to be a winner but if coaches are consistently aware of the various stresses on the trainee it helps know when to back off or ramp it up.  The more communication the better, that way goals and expectations can be better met.

4.  Experience.  Odds are that if someone has been coaching and learning for a long period of time they will be more skilled in helping you.  Now, going right back to #1, if your coach is someone relatively new to the game as far as experience, but has been studying under some great coaches then I see no problem with less experience.  If this younger coach isn’t able to answer your question he’s got a team around him to help.  Which is a great segue into #5.

5.  Education.  Again, some gray area here.  I have met some college grads in exercise related fields and there’s a better chance they could train my dog than another human being.  At the same time I’ve met some people who may not have a college degree in a related field but have taken the time to educate themselves through various workshops, certifications, etc.  That being said, as a consumer it is difficult to understand what all of those letters and certifications mean.  Are they valuable?  Hard to say.  However, please again refer to #1, if you as the consumer, are not only working with one trainer, but essentially a team of reputable coaches your odds of kicking butt at life are far greater.

And finally, in a completely unrelated note, if you haven’t seen this, well, you should.  Set your DVR.

– Mike Baltren

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Why Strength?

1.  Other than maybe movement itself, strength is at the top of the hierarchy or the base of the pyramid, depending how you look at it.  That’s why its listed as #1.  As Coach Brett Jones likes to say, absolute strength is the glass.  Everything else is what you can put in the glass.  The bigger the glass, the more you are capable of.  A smaller glass (less strength) and you will ultimately be limited in what you can do.

Jen Comas

2.  Strength carries over in everyday life.  Not only will you have a greater ability to perform physical tasks but in addition, the confidence that you can.  See some examples of that HERE.  Some days it may you are more capable, others it might mean that you can perform a bunch of work and still feel great the next day.

3.  Most sports are strength based.  Hit the ball harder, hit the other person harder, run faster.  These are all centered around strength.  Produce more force efficiently and be a more efficient athlete.  Not only is producing force important but also absorbing it, whether it’s landing or another object/person.  You need strength to keep you from getting injured.


4.  What about endurance sports you say?  Taking #1 and #3 into consideration, to have strength endurance you must first have strength to endure.  How much, is debatable but you’ve got to have some sort of strength on which to build your endurance.  I’m not trying to take a shot at those who enjoy running, although it just so happens that I don’t, but I think that the ability to run a long distance has much less carryover to everyday life than the ability to do a solid deadlift, rock bottom squat, a few push ups and a pull up.  Those things require much more full body movement, coordination and strength.  If you enjoy endurance training, do both.  Here is just a random example: take someone who is relatively out of shape and can struggle from time to time climbing several flights of stairs. This person will better climb those stairs after running a couple times a week to “get in better shape” or spending half that time learning to goblet squat for several sets and move their lower body a little better?  I’ll take option # 2.  Depending on how you manipulate the weight, reps and sets you can work on strength, mobility and elevate the heart rate all in one.

5.  Lastly, for some of us, the former is all well and good but the top priority is really just looking better (especially naked, at the beach, favorite dress, whatever).  People want that toned, lean look and to feel better about themselves.  The best way to transform your body is through strength training.  The words strength training can be somewhat vague but let’s just say it doesn’t involve pink dumbbells, dancing or hundreds of reps per workout.  It means progressive resistance with a moderate to heavy weight done for a few reps.

– Mike Baltren

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Day 1

I often write/talk about both fundamentals and progressions and how important they are in training.  I didn’t write this particular post to pick on anyone or how they approach a first training session but more so to make people aware.  The road to reaching training goals whether you are the coach or the client is not conquered in one day of hard work.  It’s a process and both sides need to understand that.

Many coaches, at least I hope, have some sort of evaluation process, assessment or screen that they use when first taking on a new member or client.  I think there a lot of ways it can be done between having an experienced and keen eye for movement, using a specific protocol and/or simply asking a lot of questions to get more information on someone’s background, injury history and goals.  For me, again giving credit as I often have, this concept really started to click when I learned what Athletes’ Performance did with people on their first couple of days.  It didn’t matter whether you were a 50 year old executive or an NFL rookie.  Everyone basically started with the same questions and basic fundamentals/progressions.  Some just progressed quicker than others and adjustments were made based on goals.  The important point being that no assumptions were made or just taking someone’s word for it when they said they “could” do X, Y or Z or something along the lines of, “I’ll be fine, I workout all the time”.  Sure you do* (note sarcasm).  I think prior to my AP experience I had a relatively conservative approach, as I still do now, but less of an idea of what I should be looking for and what to do about it.  Currently at Ambition Athletics we want all prospective members to do an introductory session, either in a small group or in a 1 on 1 setting, where we can sit, ask questions, go through a brief screening process and then teach some fundamental movement patterns regardless of the person’s current training level.  In other words, it’s a safe, easy, and productive Day 1.


There have been two different Ambition Athletics members (that have admitted to it) within the past year or so that have been curious enough to venture out to try something different.  I can’t say I blame them.  I’ve tried many different things over the years myself.  Where they went is not relevant, only how that first (and subsequently last) day went.  The following are a few words taken from the accounts of these individuals.

“I could feel my hamstrings and quads start to tighten up and get that near cramping feeling.  I can’t imagine how the housewives and other first timers were feeling after their first round at their station.  After pushing myself through the workout my legs were shaking and I couldn’t lift my arms to use my phone. “

“When I woke up in the morning, I was in a world of hurt.  I couldn’t straighten my arms.  I spent the next six nights tossing and turning while I slept, trying to avoid any position with straight arms and going to work where I had to lift heavy rolls of material or the fire station where we have to move equipment and get on and off the apparatus with added weight.  I was in pain for seven full days and I missed the workouts that I truly wanted to do.”

“I walked into the gym and after talking with the “lead” instructor I was offered a free intro class and started right then.”

“It was emphasized to move as fast as possible.  I refused and went slowly as I am 245lbs and have already has 1 knee surgery and I am not about to jack up my knees.”

“I was told it would help me keep track of how many reps I’ve done incase I become disoriented while working out.  Excuse me?  Disoriented while working out?  Shouldn’t I just stop?”

“Her parting words were to pay close attention to how we were feeling and to take note of the color of our urine. To be sure that if we experience any irregular coloring similar to coca cola in our urine and any intense soreness, to be sure to contact our primary care physician because we may have Rhabdomyolysis, which may lead to kidney failure.”


So if it weren’t obvious enough, these descriptions are not how I would draw up someone’s first experience in the gym, as there is really nothing positive other than the old hopefully you don’t die when you leave here. Riiiiight.  Great coaching.  I stated earlier, one day of hard training isn’t going to make you, but it can damn near break you.  If you’re a coach, it’s your job to help people get better, not crush them.  Training should more often be about moving better and getting stronger than testing the absolute limits of physical ability and mental toughness, especially on Day 1.  You don’t have to prove to anyone on that first day how tough you are.  And, if the perspective client demands this sort of insanity (pun intended) then, at least in our case at Ambition, it’s probably not going to be a good fit anyway.

All of that being said, is there a time when any of this is acceptable?  In my opinion, no.  Consider this: What if you had a long drive ahead of you the next day?  Tell me that won’t be the worst drive ever.  What if you are an athlete and had to go to practice tomorrow?  Or perhaps you were a firefighter or somehow responsible for helping others but, in reality your ability to perform may be compromised because your body is so beat up.  Some soreness is ok but let’s be realistic, at some point there are diminishing returns.  Vomiting in any other situation in life is clearly a sign that something is wrong.  That doesn’t change in an exercise setting, period.  You might ask, well what about athletics?  In situations like the typical football first day of training camp often the athletes are going to know what’s coming and it’s their responsibility to be ready or suffer.  And, to be honest a season will no more rest on that first day than any other.  Regardless of sport, it’s still a process and a relatively long season.  Day 1 isn’t going to make your team but if athletes are being beaten into the ground the opportunity for breaking your team is far greater.

I'm Tired

Back to the gym.  Finally, if you’re a coach you should be asking a lot of questions, listening and offering a better understanding of your training philosophy.  Help him or her to reach their goals but don’t try and do it all in one day.  If need be, explain why.  If you are a prospective client/member, ask a lot of questions.  Make sure whoever is helping you is doing the same.  Unless the person is a jerk it’s probably better to judge them on more than just one hour of training.  I don’t think a lack of intensity on day 1 is a bad thing.  I do think too much intensity is just dangerous and irresponsible.

– Mike Baltren

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Strong Is Beautiful: My Highland Games Journey

From Coach Holly Mersy:

Yesterday I participated in my first Scottish Highland Games!  I competed in 9 events that involved throwing heavy weights as far or as high as possible, each requiring technical skill in addition to strength.  Why would I be interested in doing such a thing?

Game day girls watching

First of all, I want to show women that STRONG IS BEAUTIFUL. There are too many terribly wrong ideas about women and strength out there and I want to be part of the movement to change those.  Being strong does not mean you must look like a bodybuilder or manly or any other negative association I have heard far too many times.  Being strong means taking care of yourself physically and mentally – there is no exact shape, size, or look we should all measure against, because we are all different. Someone who is skinny is not necessarily more healthy than someone who is overweight. Everyone has a different story and a different background.  Let’s stop being so hard on ourselves and each other!

With strength comes confidence. For myself and many others I have observed, this is where the beauty is discovered. We have always been beautiful, but it took developing the strength and the confidence to realize and embrace it. It is my mission to share this with as many women as I possibly can.

I function best when I set goals. If I want to accomplish something, I set my mind to it and get to work!  The fact that my size is far from a typical Highland Games athlete wasn’t going to stop me. I started with the basics. Thankfully, the men of Ambition Athletics were generous with their time and patiently shared their knowledge. I had no previous experience and more questions than you can imagine. We practiced twice a week starting a few months before game day. We made our own equipment (which broke often) and worked on technique step by step.  The bonding time with Team Ambition was priceless.

Game day WOB 3

I love to surprise people with my strength – I’d rather be stronger than I look and experience pure joy from exceeding people’s expectations! Despite our short kilts and painted nails, the ladies of Team Ambition showed up to compete. I placed 3rd in my class and I’m so proud of my performance!  The highlight of my day was weight over bar – I threw a 28lb weight over a bar set at 10 feet (something I could not do during practice)!!

Overall, I loved competing in the Highland Games.  I am extremely inspired by the strength and dedication of all the athletes. I intend to do it again and I will be better, stronger, and more confident the next time!

Game day Team Ambition silly after shot

Thank you to everyone who taught, coached, and supported me throughout the process!

– Holly Mersy

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Stuff To Read (Coaches Edition)

This series of recommended reading doesn’t have much to do with the “hows” of training, more so the “whys”.  There aren’t any sets, reps or secrets to becoming super ripped here but if you are a coach then I highly recommend you check these out if you haven’t already.

Spirituality and the Athlete – Dan John

Ever the insightful and wise Dan John.  I’m not a Star Wars fan really (gasp) but I think Dan John is like the Yoda of coaching.  I think this a great article for coaches and athletes alike but certainly applies to those of us competing in the Highland Games this weekend.  Here’s a quote, “Train hard, but enjoy competition. Compete hard, but enjoy your training. One key final point must be kept in mind at all times…  NEVER judge a workout or competition as “good” or “bad” solely on that single day. I often tell my new throwers: “Sorry, you just are not good enough to be disappointed.” Judging one’s worth as an athlete over the results of single day is just idiocy… and will lead to long term failure.”

Royce Gracie

Beginner To Black Belt – Alwyn Cosgrove

I’ve heard many an expert say this, and as I get older it only rings more true and that’s the more I learn, the less I know.  Alywn Cosgrove is not only a coach with a tremendous amount of experience but also a black belt.  If you’re a coach this is a short but meaningful article.

InSideOut Coaching – Joe Ehrmann

I have mentioned before that this is a great book for coaches.  I just started reading it again and it’s just as good as the first time.  Now either my reading comprehension is poor or it’s really that good.  Either way, if you are a coach, you should read this book, (at least once).  I haven’t had too many jobs other than coaching in my lifetime, at least of a significant amount of time, other than the time I worked at McDonald’s, but I think it’s especially easy in the fitness industry to get weighed down with tons of information, research, sets, reps and other fancy fads.  Certainly the customer service side of things is important too if you are in the private sector but what certainly isn’t in the NSCA text book or more than likely isn’t taught at your favorite training certification are lessons that Joe Ehrmann puts forth in the quest to be a better coach.  Lessons like “Life is about relationships.  It’s about the capacity to to love and be loved………  The questions that will matter most on your deathbed are the questions related to your relationships…..  Life, I’ve learned, is a team sport and ultimately is unsatisfying if it is lived solely for self.”  And questions you need to ask yourself like, Why do I coach?,  Why do I coach the way I do?, and What does it feel like to be coached by me?   Joe also recommends the book below.


Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor Frankl

Apparently this is a classic.  I hadn’t heard of it until maybe 9 months ago when all of the sudden I heard people talking about it 100 hundred different times.  Funny how that works.  Again, nothing to do with training but very valuable.

– Mike Baltren

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Just a Hop, Skip and a Jump?

Hopping, skipping and jumping.  All pretty simple right?  These are all natural human movements but when it comes to training simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy and what’s the difference between the 3?  I have to credit Athletes’ Performance with teaching me the terminology and realizing the difference between the three.  Jumping involves using two legs to leave the ground.  Hopping involves using a single leg to both leave the ground and land again, on that same leg.  Bounding by definition means moving from one leg to the other.  Which begs the question, isn’t that what skipping is?  Sort of.   Although I don’t recall learning this anywhere, I think skipping and bounding differ in that skipping involves a double contact with the ground before transferring to the other leg and bounding doesn’t.

The majority of the time I treat hopping, jumping, bounding and even skipping as plyometric or simply power exercises.  Plyometric can be a loaded term but the bottom line is that these movements are great for producing speed and power, two things that are great for both athletes and the average person alike.  Once applied in the proper scenario I think the easiest way to do these movements incorrectly is to not land properly.  Yes, the speed, power, height components are much more fun and cool looking but the bottom line is, if you can’t control the landing when hopping, jumping, etc then what’s the point?  Practicing the landing is as important as the jump.  What does a proper landing look like?  Soft and under control, ready to be repeated but not necessarily done.  Heavy landing means not controlled, poor force absorption and potentially not in position to make another move.  Land soft.  I’m not a sport scientist but I’m guessing that more people are injured when trying to land than simply trying to jump.  That includes an athlete during the cutting motion.  Often times they do a small but aggressive “jump cut” prior to another jump or actual take-off/.  Again, I’m only speculating but I would guess that the transfer of energy during the landing of the jump cut is where the injury may occur not just the jumping motion.  Practice good landing mechanics and the carryover during a game speed situation will likely be better.  Only after the previous qualifiers are met should one work toward continuous and more rapid jumps, hops, etc.

falling anvil

Doing a lot of hopping and jumping can definitely make a person really tired which would lead one to believe is great for cardio.  I tend to disagree.  One of the jokes we like to make at Ambition when someone has an affinity for soreness or fatigue from training is to suggest that they jump up and touch a certain point on the wall as many times as they can in 10 minutes (trust me we’ve never actually had anyone do this).  I think most would agree that it would certainly make just about anyone very tired and very sore.  However, I hope most would agree that it is also a complete waste of time as far as being productive.  That being said, if you are using a jumping (or hopping) drill as a cardiovascular exercise I think the opportunity for error and potential injury is much higher as discussed earlier.  Jumping for maximum height as opposed to repetitions are essentially two different things.  The former, calculated and technique driven while the latter usually not so much.  Surprise, surprise but the rule of quality over quantity reigns supreme here yet again.


The message:  There is more to it than just moving around to break a sweat.  Consider the reasons and way you program jumping, hopping type movements.  How do these fit into the training session and why?  Ask yourself, am I trying to build power and/or the ability to jump and land or jumping endurance.  Jumping endurance I don’t think anyone really needs.  Jump/hop/skip/bound for power, condition by another means.

– Mike Baltren

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Life, Squats and Progression

Strength In The Real World

Within the last 5 days or so several members have at random shared with me situations where their strength was called upon in the real world and well, they………. nailed it!  One such situation occurred at work in the restraint of another human being (I won’t elaborate further).  It just so happens she was one of the ladies in the video from the last post demonstrating that strength.  Another was someone who ended up carrying their stubborn dog several miles because it decided it didn’t want to walk on the beach.  Lastly one female was challenged to carry a roughly 200 lb. male on her back a predetermined distance in a $100 bet.  Needless to say, Winner!  These recent stories reminded me of some others that members have shared with me over the years including moving couches, kegs and large bags of dog food.  I’m always excited to hear stories like this knowing that people are building and improving confidence in not only how they look but also in performance.  Just a few more reasons not to be a weak human being.  Pardon the profanity but……..

training for life


I love ‘em.  They are good for you.  Let me tell you why.  Squatting through a full range of motion is a basic human movement.  It takes a fair amount of mobility, something that people tend to lose as time goes on.  Fight it!  That being said there are many different kinds of squats, some which may or may not better suit you.  This is what most people think of when they see a squat, and if you can do it WELL, then awesome.  More power to you.

Casey squat

If that’s not appropriate for you then no need to try and fit square pegs in round holes.  This more likely suits most people.

Goblet Reed

But, that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone.  Sometimes this is most appropriate and that’s ok.  (TRX Squat)

TRX Squat

The point is you are squatting.  Going through the proper range of motion and not regressing so far that one day you are unable to stand up out of a chair or off the toilet without some sort of assistance.  You don’t have to put the bar on your back, you just have to be able to squat.  Or, if you are like Max Shank, you don’t roll out of bed in the morning, you squat up out of bed as he doesn’t believe in using a bed frame so as to maintain the ability to squat for a lifetime.  Hey, to each their own.  If his physical prowess is any indication, get rid of your bed frame.  Just sayin’.



A movement or development toward a destination or a more advanced state, esp. gradually or in stages.

A succession; a series.


progress – advance – advancement – series

It’s summer time.  School is finishing up.  Maybe you are headed to the beach or you’re an athlete with a little bit of time off.  Are you looking to hire a coach or what some call a “personal trainer”?  I was thinking about PROGRESSION yesterday after a conversation with another coach.  I think it’s one of the more important things in training.  If you’re looking for a coach, try and find out if this person has a set list of progressions that they use on a regular basis.  Your first day in the gym should not be a rough day!  If you are vomiting, and yes this happens, your coach did not take care of you.  No one needs to start at level 10 on day one.  If you’re a coach you should have a plan.  What comes next?  It could be today, next week, or in 2 months, etc.  It doesn’t have to be set in stone as different situations will dictate different needs but part of the same plan really.

Any dummy can make another individual sore or make something so difficult that he or she can barely perform the movement.  However, that doesn’t make you better and there’s no progression there.  It’s like learning a sport.  If you had a private lesson with legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson tomorrow, would you listen when he taught you how to properly dribble, posture up on defense and pass the ball?  Or would you say, “Listen, Phil.  Although I’ve hardly played organized ball in my lifetime, I’ve been shooting hoops in my driveway since I was 5.  Let’s practice draining some 3’s and running the triangle offense.  This other stuff is B-O-R-I-N-G.”?  I would venture to say no.  Training isn’t that much different.  You get a new coach, you start with day 1.  Maybe you progress quickly, maybe not, but the first few days should be relatively for everyone as you PROGRESS.  Like the above definition, it’s development toward a destination.

– Mike Baltren

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Girls Just Wanna Be Strong

Looking back on the last 10 days of group classes at Ambition Athletics 61% of those attending were women.  I’m personally proud of that.  It’s no secret that I enjoy coaching women.  To steal an analogy from a Jiu-Jitsu instructor I once spoke with, generally women are like a blank slate.  They don’t have any bad training habits.  I find that the women I’ve worked with are mostly willing to learn and often fond of getting stronger once they get the hang of it.  Getting strong and seeing progress is fun and girls just wanna be strong! We talk a lot about the benefits and reasons women should train with weights.  I’ve written some in the past HERE and HERE, but before you check out the video below of some ladies at Ambition being awesome, consider this thought from coach Mark Rippetoe, “….. women get the best results when they train for performance……  there is no difference in the quality of the exercise needed to produce the stress that causes adaptation.  In other words, silly bullshit in the gym is silly bullshit, for both sexes.”  So, don’t be silly.  Keep it simple, make it look good and get stronger.

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7-Minute Body Weight Workout

Desk Jockey

Recently an article entitled “The Scientific 7-Minute Workout” was published in the New York Times Magazine. It was based on an article in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal called “High-Intensity Circuit Training Using Body Weight: Maximum Results With Minimal Investment”.  As far as the authors’ suggestion that a relatively complete training session with only bodyweight can be completed in a very short amount of time, I completely agree. As well as with their statement that “…..when facing seemingly infinite demands, one’s ability to manage and expand physical energy can be severely compromised. This can result in persistent fatigue (physical, but also emotional and mental) and a growing level of disengagement with one’s career, family, friends, and personal well-being, which can ultimately lead to performance failure.” Understandably there are days that just won’t allow a person to train because work or the kids, or whatever is just kicking his or her ass. We’ve all been there. But I know from experience, just a quick routine that gets you moving can first, give you a great energy boost making you feel a lot better and second, keep you on track toward your goals which is much more in line with the article.  7 minutes may not be ideal but it is far superior to sitting and eating. Plus, maybe you actually have 15 minutes or perhaps 10 minutes this morning and 20 later tonight. That is plenty of time to keep you moving well and in the very least maintaining a basic level of strength and fitness.

Now, I’m not totally in love with the 12 exercises that the authors chose for their circuit as some were rather redundant and others just poor choices in my opinion.  After all, who does crunches anymore?  And I’m pretty sure wall sits have been banned from all training facilities that aren’t associated with the screaming “trainers” and teary eyed victims, a.k.a the “The Biggest Loser”.  So in light of that I designed two of my own.  Both circuits contain only 9 exercises as opposed to 12 but I believe these movements cover more overall and thus 12 is not entirely necessary. Although I’m sure the authors wanted to be specific in a protocol of sets and reps or in this case time, I don’t think 30 seconds is all that important nor appropriate for some people. I think that for the typical person I see just walking down the street, which very well may be the same person interested in a quick effective workout because they lead a busy life and/or are intimidated by the gym, is not capable of 30 seconds worth of quality push ups. There are ways to modify push ups such as a high table or countertop to put your hands on. The same would probably go for the bench dip although I think that’s a poor choice anyway and therefore eliminated it from my suggestions. Keeping the effort level at around 80% of maximum or even less would allow for good form and multiple sets of each exercise. Finally, workout #2 has slightly more difficult exercise selection and the use of furniture sliders. I figure that sliders are cheaper than a chair anyway and as far as training goes, even more versatile. We have found that these sliders are your best bet.

Circuit #1

1.  Jumping Jacks

2. Glute Bridge

3.  Plank w/ Knee Tuck

4.  Split Squat

5.  Wall Slide

6.  Single Leg Deadlift Pattern w/ Shoulder Retraction

7.  Push Up

8.  Squat

9.  Side Plank to Thoracic Bridge

Circuit #2

1.  1-Leg Bridge

2.  Push Up

3.  Sliding Leg Curl

4.  Squat

5.  Side Plank to Thoracic Bridge

6.  Sliding Reverse Lunge

7.  Body Saw

8.  Wall Slide

9.  Squat Thrust

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A Collection of Various Thoughts to Think About

Dumb and Dumber

I’m A Butt Guy

It used to be, and probably still is, that a man’s biceps and women’s arms or perhaps her legs define their fitness.  At least those are what stand out and look cool to most people.  If it’s shirts off then abs are the go to.  And, that makes sense for the most part.  However, I’m a butt guy.  Recently I came to the realization that I’m always checking out butts.  And by that I mean girl’s butts, guy’s butts, it doesn’t even matter.  Yea, I said it.  When I went to Vegas a few weekends ago I couldn’t stop judging people in their various tight and/or little outfits and this wasn’t only because I spent 6 extra hours prior in the airport reading “Strong Curves: A Women’s Guide to Building a Better Butt and Body”.

I shouldn’t say judging as much as assessing really.  And I don’t think it makes me a better person just because I have “two basketballs” sticking off my backside as some nice young ladies once so eloquently put it.  It just means that the odds are in my favor that I’m stronger, faster and more athletic.  I’ve come to the realization that if anything, it’s your butt that defines your overall strength and fitness level.  Without it, it’s likely that your strength, speed or fitness is lacking.  And that may not mean much to some, and that’s ok too, however it’s pretty much a tell-all if it’s missing.  Big biceps or flat stomach, eh?  Not sure how much they really matter.  A moderately fit looking individual with a big ‘ol booty?  You have yourself a winner.  Of course that’s just my opinion but your glutes are the strongest muscle in the body.  Don’t sell them short by not training them.  If you are on any kind of reasonable training program your glutes should be working regularly and getting stronger.  If that’s not the case then your program is useless.

Eating For Speed?

I’ve never been one to put a lot of time into food prep at least on more than one day a week.  Sundays I try to cook up a lot of chicken and/or turkey for the week ahead.  It helps save time during the week and well, I eat pretty plain.  Sometimes I eat for speed, not for savory goodness.  Recently I had a great Sunday afternoon brunch at my buddy Dan’s house.  It was delicious but it took about an hour to make it all and I was done eating and napping within about 12 minutes.  I’m not trying to discourage anyone that enjoys the process of creating a wonderful meal but for me personally I feel like I’m wasting time that I would rather spend doing something else (or napping in this particular case).  And, that is partly due to the fact that my taste buds (or just me) are completely and totally satisfied with some pretty plain foods that I’ve been eating for years.  No need to get fancy. I know what it’s going to taste like and if I didn’t like it I’d find another way to do it.

Eggs n Bacon

Does It Matter?

Recently I’ve had considered penning something about training versus exercise and the question of does it really matter?  To me it does.  I can’t around it.  Too often I see the “older” person in the aerobics class kinda sorta going through the motions to the best of their ability or the guy at the park doing some half squats and push up lookin’ things.  Now, both of these are admirable.  I’m not discounting either person’s work ethic or the motivation to lead a healthier lifestyle.  In fact, I applaud them.  The question I’ve been asking myself is, does it matter what they are doing?  The answer to me is yes.  I can’t get over both the lack of coaching or range of motion in either of the above scenarios.  Both individuals, and I’m sure I could think of several more, could do themselves so much better for time invested.  Just the other day I saw THIS article by Alwyn Cosgrove (read it, it’s very short) and it forced me to finally put these thoughts on paper.  In reference to what Alwyn says, I think that physical activity, exercise and working out are all healthy, “good” things to do.  However, training, as Cosgrove states, is a system of workouts designed to achieve specific biological adaptations.  I feel that more often than not people confuse the former three things with a desired result of a specific adaptation.   In other words possibly wasting some time.  Maybe not entirely, but some for sure.  Certainly one could make an argument for the SAID principle here.

If you are in fact training, make sure it doesn’t look too much like a workout or exercise, i.e. just doing stuff to do stuff, sweat, etc.  If you are at a place where you aren’t seeking specific adaptation, that’s a great place to be.  Just make sure that your workouts are still held to some level of quality as especially in relation to quantity.  No need to waste your time or reinforce poor movement/habits.

– Mike Baltren

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