Coffee Talk Pt.2

Earlier on this week I posted an article talking about not only my love of coffee, but also how I enjoy it. I spoke of what coffee means to me, how the simple process can help make my whole day better, and with the input of some special people, tried to impart a bit of coffee culture into the lives of those around me. With that being said; one of the people I reached out to, a friend named David Dellanave, shared how he makes his coffee, and all I can say is WOW. David shared his insight with me, but on a completely different level. I used to think I enjoyed making a cup of coffee until I learned that when David makes his brew it is both science and art come together in a way that can only be described as delicious.

In the words of Jen Sinkler: “I love drinking David’s coffee… He could be a barista at a super fancy coffee shop, if he wanted to be.” From what I have learned of David’s coffee process I would say that he IS a fancy coffee shop. I have never felt like more of a simpleton compared to this process. A troglodyte smashing beans with a rock and boiling them in a homeless man’s boot. We are all plebeians in the wake of this caffeinated arabican hurricane. So below I shall present to you the scientist meets creator that is David’s coffee. Enjoy.

Funniest_Memes_how-does-moses-make-coffee_5273

I take my coffee game pretty seriously. So seriously, in fact, that most people are pretty upset when they ask me for an espresso machine recommendation and I tell them they’re looking at over two thousand dollars to get a decent machine and grinder. Espresso machines exist on a curve, and pretty much everything below a certain price is worthless. By the way, I’m only interested in espresso machines versus other ways to make coffee because it’s simply the best way to extract the magical flavors from that little bean.

Prepare to get learned.

Prepare to get learned.

Enter the Aeropress. A $25 plastic plunger device invented by a man who made his fortune selling flying discs that makes an incredible cup of coffee. You’ll also want to pick up a coffee grinder, as buying pre-ground coffee is for pikers. The Hario ceramic is a great choice. Check it here.

– First, measure and grind 18 grams (I use a jewelry scale, but you can use a scooper too) of fresh coffee beans – the ground coffee should be about as fine as table salt – giver or take.

– Place the plunger upside down inside the brewing tube with the black rubber part touching the bottom of the number 4 circle and the top of the plunger on the table. Place a paper filter in the filter cap and wet it.

– Add your coffee into the inverted AeroPress.

– Pour just enough hot water about (30 seconds off the boil or about 195 degrees F) into your brewer to cover the grounds.

  • Wait 30 seconds.
  • Fill the Aeropress up to about half an inch under the top.

– Wait 60 seconds.

– Use the AeroPress paddle to give a quick stir about 3 times.

– Screw the filter cap on top.

– Flip it upside down onto a mug and press it down.

– When it’s finished, top off your mug with water.

 

Now all you need is some good coffee. Pssst: http://www.paradiseroasters.com/

In the words of MC Hammer: Can't touch this.

In the words of MC Hammer: Can’t touch this.

Coffee Talk

I love coffee. I love everything about it. I don’t drink a gallon a day or anything crazy, usually just a cup-ish. So I’m pretty sure that I’m not addicted. (pretty sure) But recently John Roman (a guy whose name you should know) posited that he wished that he loved almost anything as much as some people love coffee. He has no real affinity for it, but notices that some people tend to have an almost “masturbatory” quality to how they talk about their love of coffee. After he put his thoughts out there I got to thinking about it too much and decided to jot down what coffee does for me. I also went on to reach out to a few of my peers for what they thought about coffee and what it might mean to them, how they make theirs, or why they love it.

Words to live by.

Words to live by.

There are a myriad of benefits to drinking coffee. The most obvious of which is the presence of caffeine. That beautiful beautiful chemical that gets your ass going in the morning or before a lifting session. Some people claim to love coffee but drink lattes, mochas, frappuccinos, and other shit. They don’t like coffee, they like sugar and milk. I don’t normally add anything to my coffee, maybe some heavy cream sometimes but never sugar. And I spoke with people who also enjoy a solid cup of joe the way I do to see what it is to them and I’ve come to a few conclusions.

The first of which being this.

The first of which being this.

  • It’s about the process more than anything. Everyone I contacted makes his or her own coffee almost every single time. On top of that nearly all of them exclusively use a French press. This leads me to believe that although you can buy coffee nearly everywhere and get your fix, it’s about more than that. When we make our coffee it’s about the process. For some grinding the beans, boiling the water, pouring the water over and letting it steep just how you like it. It’s easy to hit a button and get coffee or have someone from Starbucks pull the coffee lever and fill your cup, but when we put the effort into this mini-journey it is just that much better.

 

  • It’s usually about “ME” time. On top of the fact that everyone has their particular way that they enjoy making their brew, I have found that it usually involves setting aside a small amount of time to oneself. Me included. The few minutes of prep, plus actually making the coffee, and subsequently enjoying it sometimes in a meditative state, can be relaxing and allow for reflection on your day. It’s time you give back to yourself before work, family, and life.

 

  • Brewing coffee in the morning is one of the simplest most rewarding things you may do all day. With all the potential pitfalls in day-to-day life and people you need to deal with and things you must accomplish, it becomes easy to see why something so simple can be so fulfilling. You brew it exactly how you like it, enjoy it exactly as you want, and no one can or will appreciate it the same way you do. Because of this you get a sense of reward or accomplishment.
If aren't already going to Amazon to buy a french press then idk what's wrong with you.

If aren’t already going to Amazon to buy a french press then idk what’s wrong with you.

These are just a few examples of what I love most about coffee and making my own. Below you’ll find some testimonials from several peers of mine about how they do it and what it means to them. For me personally I enjoy either blonde roasts or dark roasts, I’m not a middle of the pack medium roast person. Once again it has nothing to do with caffeine, even though blonde roasts have higher caffeine contents than dark roasts. I love doing a dark roast most mornings in my French press. My bean of choice comes from Death Wish coffee company who claims to have some of the strongest beans in the world. I believe them because it’s a bold claim, but either way their coffee’s flavor alone packs a punch. Nearly every morning I go through my ritualistic French pressing and then sit and spend several hours writing. This is my time and it is extremely valuable to me.

A few words from friends to drive the point home. I could not have said it better than what is below.

Neghar Fonooni

Soothing as fuck.

Soothing as fuck.

When I wake up in the morning, one of my first thoughts is in anticipation of coffee. I’m actually EXCITED about drinking it, and I wake up with that sense of enthusiasm.

I come downstairs, fill my kettle with water and flip the switch. While the water boils, I drink a warm cup of lemon and cayenne water, then I grind the beans. When the water is boiled, I empty the grinds into the French press with cinnamon, pour the water over, stir and brew. It’s a methodical dance that sets the stage for my day. At the center of all of it is the knowledge that the first sip is going to be heavenly.

I then spend the next hour on my patio with nothing but my books and my brew–no phone, laptop, or to-do lists, just me and a few of my favorite things. I truly believe that this part of my day is precious, in that it contributes positively to my sense of wellbeing, and sets the tone for the rest of my day.

Naveed Shan

OG Coffee

OG Coffee

I love coffee, like I fucking lovvve coffee. My days are pretty nonstop from 5am to 8pm but I’ll always set aside an hour a day for breakfast…and of course coffee. My favorites are Intelligentsia coffee beans, which I found in Chicago, and if I use a ground it’s Yaucono café puro from Puerto Rico. I’ve owned Keurig, Cuisinart, and Kitchen Aide coffee appliances and nothing can replace an old fashioned cup of French pressed coffee. I’ve come to love the process of making coffee as much as I enjoy the taste of that sweet sweet nectar. I’ll never drink coffee in a rush. I turn everything off and take my time in the process of grinding the beans for 20 seconds, boiling the water, waiting for the ground to settle to the bottom of the French press, and using the perfect amount of creamer.

Ryan Karas

At least once if your life you should consider how much horsepower your coffee maker has. Just sayin'

At least once if your life you should consider how much horsepower your coffee maker has. Just sayin’

As a self proclaimed coffee connoisseur I have experimented with many brands and style of coffee in my short adult life, from dunking loads of butter in my coffee to drinking it straight cowboy style. In this time I have finely honed my perfect cup of joe, it’s goes a little something like this, French pressed, dark roast (French preferably), with a shot of espresso, black, temperature is usually dependent on how hot it is outside. I love this cup anytime of the day but especially before a hard training session.

 

There you have it… I’m not saying we know something you don’t, but if you haven’t tried it yet, you might just be living half as much as you thought.

A man needs rituals.

A man needs rituals.

 

 

25 Random Thoughts on food, fitness, and everything I think about everything.

 

  • Flag Nor Fail’s newest monogram “FXCK THE ECONOMY” is amazing. It even took ME a second to understand what comes with it. I love it.

 

  • You are the sum of the top five people you spend the most time with. If you aren’t where you want to be in life then please stop and take a look at who you surround yourself with.

 

  • Being unique is not the same as being helpful, useful, or innovative. Just because you’re different doesn’t mean you do anything. If it’s not beneficial to the world then it’s not valuable.

 

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  • Sleep is highly underrated by people nowadays. More so than ever before. Put down the phone, turn the TV off, and stop eating NERDS before bed. You’ll sleep and feel better.

 

  • People say technology is ruining the next generation. I disagree. Kids are so accustomed to these advances that they are almost bored with it. Human interaction will prevail.

 

  • Sometimes you can always squat/deadlift heavy all the time. Sometimes you take a week and exploit your weaknesses like hell. It grounding and builds character.

 

  • Never say no to a well-made bowl of bacon macaroni and cheese. Or either of these things individually for that matter.

 

  • People like to talk about the vastness of the universe as a way to quell what’s wrong in our lives by putting into perspective how insignificant we are. Want perspective? Donate your time to a homeless veterans shelter. You know… the people that fight for your country and are tossed away afterward.

 

  • QWERTY keyboards were originally designed for left-handed people to type more efficiently. Step your game up lefties.

 

  • Life is both long and short at the same time, but it is not so long that you should waste time with weak-ass coffee.

 

Seriously. Go buy it. It's amazing.

Seriously. Go buy it. It’s amazing.

 

  • Speaking of coffee. Support local independent coffee roasters. Expand what you know and stop drinking Starbucks milkshake you toddlers.

 

  • Speaking of local. Support local everything. Food, gyms, breweries, stores, venues, etc.

 

  • End HOAs.

 

  • The world would be a better place if more kids did gymnastics and weightlifting from an early age.

 

  • There are too many rules and not enough parents teaching their children.

 

  • Want to make a difference in the world? Start with your block.

 

  • Do more grip work in the gym. You’ll have a better handshake and your girlfriend will love you more.

 

NOT PICTURED:  A WEAK ASS HANDSHAKE

NOT PICTURED: A WEAK ASS HANDSHAKE

 

  • Grind up tortilla chips and scramble them in with you next set of eggs. Thank me later.

 

  • Pull up your pants dammit. Otherwise I’m just going to start pulling them down and running.

 

  • Speaking of which. You’re not a fucking gangster-homie. You grew up in La Costa/Encinitas/Carlsbad/Del Mar/La Jolla. Sorry bro.

 

STAHP

STAHP

 

  • “#SORRYNOTSORRY” needs to die.

 

  • I’m tired of people remembering “the good ol’ days.” Your parents did it, their parents did, and you are too. Break the cycle and adapt to a new world.

 

  • STOP KIPPING, BUTTERFLYING, AND CHEATING.

 

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  • No. I don’t NEED to watch “XYZ”-whatever-the-fuck new/old television series. Yes, I’m sure that I would LOVE IT.

 

  • Cardio is not the enemy. Maybe if you put even one iota of time or thought into it the way you did for weight training you’d recognize the benefits to not getting winded walking up the stairs.

 

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Balance

The last time I willingly took a serious deload weak was back around Christmas. I was nursing some pain I had developed from a movement dysfunction and giving it time to heal. Since then I really haven’t taken any time off. I may have missed 3 or 4 days in a row because I was busy, but I haven’t actively decided to take a week and do little to nothing. I think that breaks some sort of personal trainer fitness code or something. I don’t really know and don’t really care to be honest. I sit here pondering this because I’ve come to the realization that besides when I was experiencing some pain in my hip that I needed to work on to move forward I almost never take time off. Some people would say that’s foolish and I would say that they probably just don’t treat their bodies like I do. I’m not saying everything I do is perfect or that I don’t drink sometimes or eat crappy food. It’s because when it comes to my training I have one major component in order: BALANCE.

Check all the boxes. Get all the improvements.

Check all the boxes. Get all the improvements.

 

I lift heavy frequently. That’s my program. When I want to get better at a particular thing I practice it all the time until I get better, and from there I do my best to maintain. I believe personal fitness goals come in waves. You go up and down in strength, stay in one place for a while, but mostly you’re the best at what you do most often. I’ve heard that there’s no such thing as over training, only under-eating and under-sleeping. I actually kind of agree with this. Now let’s get one thing straight. If you have some sort of serious movement dysfunction that you hammer away at day after day without trying to correct what’s wrong then yes, you will hurt yourself, and no, I don’t feel bad.

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Back to the point. Balance. I go hard when I feel strong. I lay off when I don’t feel so well. Either way, I’m always doing something to drive myself forward. Too often I see people pushing themselves not just past their own limits, but also to an arguable edge of reason. Take form for example. You have two wild ends of the spectrum. Those who never go heavy and spend too much to fiddle-fucking with form instead of just getting strong. Then you have those that are willing to sacrifice their ability to move or function adeptly at all just to lift heavier weight. In my opinion both are ignorant for equal and opposite reasons. You have someone on one end who will never know their true potential because their nit picky and on the other end you have someone who might never see their true potential because they just had to complete their “required” squats for the days and prolapsed their colon onto the platform. Look, what I’m saying is that for me the best place is somewhere in the middle. Is you squat stuck at a certain weight? How’s your form? Could you be doing some sort of accessory work to improve a weakness? Is your deadlift not going up? Are you really pushing yourself? Or are you just afraid that your upper back might curve a little? Get over yourself.

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We need to be okay with an acceptable amount of nit picky technique bullshit and toughen up with an equally acceptable knowledge that lifting heavy is positive for you and hard on you all at once. When you make peace with either end of this then you hit the sweet spot.  Balance is understanding where you are and how far you can/should push yourself right now. You must pay heed to your body. Coming back the next day to tackle more of your goals is just part of the journey. My program is how I feel, what I want, and what my goals are. Because of that fact I am happy with where I am knowing that I will get where I want without sacrificing what’s critical to long term success along the way. IE: joint integrity, movement quality, drive, time, etc.

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I don’t take rest weeks or deload weeks because I don’t desire to. I go heavier when I can and pull back when it isn’t appropriate. I eat according to my goals and always ask myself how strong I need to be to be happy. (the answer is stronger) Yet that doesn’t stop me with being pleased with where I am. People always seem to be striving to be better as if they haven’t achieved any progress at all. Endeavoring to improve has nothing to do with hating how you are. To me this applies to how I look (awesome), who I am inside (nice guy), and how I lift (well). Similarly I point out to people constantly, there’s nothing noble about holding yourself back and you must be content with who you are and how things are before you can make real headway. Training starts on the inside. But you’re not going to get anywhere without balance.

Balance happens somewhere between these things.

Balance happens somewhere between these things.

Competition and Preparation

This past weekend I had the honor of competing once again in the San Diego Scottish Highland Games competition. It would mark my 4th year in a row of competing and a personal best games. I threw a number of PRs (personal records) and did better overall than any games previously. After the games I thought a bit on what it took to get to the place I had arrived at competitively and how far I still have to go. Out of this bit of reflection I gleaned a few ideas right out the gate that I have chosen to share. I’ve tried to place these qualities in order of importance and with that in mind they are as follows: technique, strength, and speed. I’ve joked that the Scottish Highland Games is one of the only games where you will see athletes taking a cigar break in between events. Although that’s just a joke (sort of), it does point out that the highland games is not an endurance event. Perhaps you could argue that it is a strength endurance event, but only in the sense that you are throwing heavy objects every 10-20minutes for 9ish hours. Which in and of itself takes a level of endurance over the long haul.

It promotes brotherhood is all I'm saying.

It promotes brotherhood is all I’m saying.

Taking into account the qualities necessary to do well in the games (technique, strength, and speed), I’m here to focus on one. Strength. I’m not an expert on technique, my throws look okay. I’m not #1, but my ever improving form coupled with my aggressive strength training I am working on constantly bolsters my ability to step onto the field confidently and make improvements every time the games are held. With that in mind I’m here to share just a little bit about my training in particular. Below are five of the biggest movements you’ll find me doing consistently in the gym to get stronger and elevate my scores. Keep in mind these are just a few of the lifts I do to help myself. There are many other accessory exercises and variations I throw into the mix to keep it fun and interesting for myself.

56lb weight for height Check out dat extension

56lb weight for height
Check out dat extension

1. Back Squats The classic. The single best way to actively strengthen your legs (and body) while improving yourself as a human being. When it comes to competing in the games, having strong legs, core, and power is critical. If you can’t drive weight with your legs you’re going to go nowhere. Literally. Being able to control weight and movement in a loaded position is something you will be doing in nearly every event of the games.

Squat it out.

Squat it out.

2. Deadlifts Another classic. Following on the tail of squats, (intended), deadlifts are a cornerstone of developing a powerful set of hips and legs to compliment the benefits gleaned from all the squatting you’ve been doing. Deadlifts help increase hip strength and drive in extension. Being able to pull a heavy weight from the floor and handle it properly while all the while maintaining a strong grip will take you far. With that in mind I’d like to point out that I LOVE doing deadlifts on a fat bar. Because I’ve said forever if you have a strong grip, everything else is easier. When you cannot only rip a weight off he floor with confidence that your grip will hold, you can eliminate the need for gloves in competition. Which to me is just a bonus. Do your deadlifts. They will make you a better athlete and fiercer competitor by improving your armor. You could say that deadlifts have got your back.

When having a good grip is absolutely necessary

When having a good grip is absolutely necessary

3. Overhead Press/Push Press

If you don’t already do overhead presses, then I’m not sure what to tell you, because you might as well chop off your feet and then try to run a marathon for how much good you’re currently doing yourself. The highland games don’t just require powerful legs and hips. They take powerful shoulders. Having an even remotely decent chance at doing well takes a strong set of shoulders. The ability to stabilize weight overhead is critical. As an athlete in these competitions you need to not only be able to pull weights out of the hole, but drive them away from your body. Being able to strict press well overhead makes you strong. Being able to take all the strength you’ve gained from doing your squats and deadlifts, (because you have been doing them right?), and now use your legs to HELP drive weight away from you is even better. Enter the push press. The push press combines the awesome power you now have from squats and deads and uses it to help get more weight overhead. In games you will be throwing stones, think shot put), and leg drive will compliment that shoulder strength to make you unstoppable.

seriously cannot stress how important pressing is

seriously cannot stress how important pressing is

4. Double Kettlebell Cleans This one is a bit of a curveball for some people. But I maintain that being able to do double kettlebell cleans heavy and well will give you a leg up on the competition. Mastering this movement is an amazing way to improve hip strength and power as well as speed. Incorporating all of the aforementioned moves into your program will make you a force to be reckoned with, but without developing some speed you may never get the weight moving very well. This is definitely a technical movement and I’ve heard some people argue it’s hard to become truly strong doing them, but it’s been my experience that these people either A.) don’t practice them enough or B.) Have terrible form holding them back. The fact of the matter is that heavy dual kettlebell cleans mimic a lot of the movements involved in the games. I don’t know about you, but I believe being technically efficient in training in a way that transfers to the games is a win win. To cap off everything else I’ve pointed out. If you’re still not convinced, try finding a certified kettlebell instructor (such as an RKC from Ambition Athletics) and have them teach you and see if you don’t come out the other side a better athlete. 5. Vertical Medicine Ball Tosses This exercise is another one some people don’t expect. But I’ll stick by this one forever. You have to be able to drive off the ground in the games, pulling weight the entire time. This exercise closely mimics the movement in the caber toss. In the caber toss you’ll find yourself with an 18’+ pole in your hands that you need to launch into the air. Your ability to jump, drive with your hips, and throw this caber into the air all comes together. Similarly this exercise is extremely close. By taking a heavy medicine ball 15, 20, 25, 30lbs, and up, you practice jumping and launching it as high as possible. The drive and pull here is critical to the caber toss. I recommend finding a place with a certain height ceiling, (our ceiling is 20’), and practicing trying to hit the roof. Once you can confidently hit the roof with a given weight it’s time to move up. This exercise will improve that speed off the floor and pull overhead and back that you’ll need.

"fat bastard", 18'10", and 120lbs of awful

“fat bastard”, 18’10”, and 120lbs of awful

There you have it, five of my favorite movements in preparation for the highland games. Like I stated earlier, I’m not guru on throwing technique, mine is always improving. What I do know about is getting strong, and in a competition where the strong survive, you’ll be glad you did your squats. Technique will help you, but strength will pull you through. See you on the field. 10450759_10152205351203671_2825982640193404067_n

Don’t “Fit In”

I usually get tired of listening to people give some sort of inspirational bullshit talk about standing out, except this time I’m that person. Recently I was let go from a job. This job accounted for roughly 70% of my monthly income. I loved that job. Not for the money (although it was nice), but because in less than a year there I heard from more people “you’ve helped me change my life” than any other time as a coach. And hearing that changed my life. It reminded me why I became a trainer and what it’s all about in my job. But when I was let go I heard something else before leaving. A few things actually. “You don’t fit in.” “Not the right fit.” “You don’t fit the mold.” I’m tough guy, but that was hard to hear and this is why.

I can't help being this awesome.

I can’t help being this awesome.

 

My whole life I’ve never fit in. I was always too loud, too rambunctious, too opinionated, stubborn, impulsive, and willful. I was too much for people to handle, and most people had no issue letting me know it. Years went by and I learned to wrangle in how I acted (somewhat), but sooner or later it came out. “You’re too loud.” “You’re too aggressive.” “People don’t want that.” Every time I found myself fighting to save face in the end and pretending I could fit in, but it was always too little too late. I would try to contain whom I really am inside, but eventually it would come out.

There's no hiding this shit.

There’s no hiding this shit.

 

Too many stupid inspirational posts have talked about never tying to hide who you really are inside and I am at the point where although I’ve always agreed, it’s finally time to do things my way. Losing this job has been hard, but what’s harder is going through the motions as someone other than you. I am an enormous proponent of people being whom they truly are inside. (Unless who you are hurts other people or is somehow detracting to the progression of society. In that case fuck you) It’s time for me to coach people my way, train people my way, and enjoy what I do again without being dictated by someone else’s mold.

Because selfie.

Because selfie.

 

The fact of the matter is that if you spend your time to trying to blend in no one is going to notice you. To be successful you have to be seen. It has become more and more apparent to me as time has gone by that I am not meant to fit in. I’m okay with that. I’m meant to be an outsider. I may not have my plans laid out yet, but I can guarantee two things: 1. They are going to be my way. 2. There’s going to be no need to “fit in.”

How I choose to seize the day.

How I choose to seize the day.

Nike got it right. Just do it.

Just do it.

Possibly one of the cheesiest phrases since “No pain No gain.” Yet Nike has founded an entire marketing campaign around these few simple words. I believe simpler is definitely better more often than not and the more I think about it the more I believe Nike hit the nail on the head here. We can only talk so much. We can only plan, study, imagine, and say we just aren’t ready for so long. There comes a time eventually where we must take a deep breath and just do it. It might be difficult, it might be hard, and you might even fail. This is the most important part though, because you never know if you shall succeed or not. Each time we step up to the plate in life and do something new. All of the planning and talking and wishing can’t fully prepare you for the time the test comes if you’re not ready. Life is a test and we’re making up the answers as we go.

Nike-Just-Do-It-63.jpg

     You can’t always know what the result of something are going to be. But one of my favorite phrases is “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I love this because I believe it fits right in with “Just do it”. Plan, discuss, organize, prepare, and at the end of these things it is time for the call to action. Taking that last potentially nervous/uncomfortable breath and going for the plunge. This can apply to literally anything in life. Work, school, lifting, love. Literally anything. It’s in any of these things we find ourselves. When we try something new, when we bust our ass at/for something/someone we love, when we compete physically, or trying a new business venture. Nothing in this life is guaranteed, you must work, and strive, and hustle for what you desire. Those who do not care will sit back and watch or complain or tear you down or make excuses.

the-best-way

Despite all that sometimes you have NO time to prepare. Life throws you a curveball and you must deal with it as best you can. Because of my job as a trainer I use the saying “Just do it” constantly. Just do it. Who cares if you fail? What does it even matter? You tried, if you succeed then fuck yeah, if you didn’t then let’s go back and fix it. People are so afraid of trying something that they hold themselves back from ever becoming more than they were. At our gym we have the 80% rule. Do the best you can, and make it look easy. Lift heavy and well. Stop when your body says, and come back for more. I love this rule because it improves recovery time, helps people progress steadily and consistently, and reduces the risk of injury dramatically. Yet despite this rule I personally enjoy pushing myself further than I am sure I can go. I do this deliberately. Because in my mind I love progression, but I also love testing my limits. Going a 105% and seeing where I end up. It’s uncomfortable, and often times I don’t know what the result will be. Yet without this mentality I do not believe I would be as strong as I am or where I am in life without it.

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Mondays

Recently I heard somebody say: “You don’t hate Mondays, you hate your job.” And I was immediately struck by how true this is that so many people have become so disenfranchised by what they do for a living. They no longer celebrate their position. They are not enthralled by it, they have no passion. They have a job. Often times I thank my lucky stars that I am not of this group. I don’t think I’m better than these people, many suffer extenuating circumstances, yet for the most part many are just scared. They are afraid to live the life they truly desire by pursuing their passion.

Tell yourself you're a king.

Tell yourself you’re a king.

We must not allow ourselves to become bound by the worthless opinions of many that surround us. Deep down we all know what we are destined to do and it is whether or not we are willing to suffer the pain of discipline to get there, or if we choose to ultimately live with the pain of regret for not having stayed strong. Living the life you feel emboldened by is the right of all, the passion of few, and the dreams of the rest. Time and time again we are told it is better to live a few hard years the way most people won’t so that we may end up living the way most people cannot. This is to me how we find our calling.

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I found myself in fitness. I suffer no “Mondays.” I deal in being the voice of empowerment and self motivation. Teaching people not to merely lift weights, but themselves. Strength is more than physical, this is obvious, but for many not readily available and for them I seek to encourage resolve. I have no “job.” There is only passion for those I teach, celebrating their successes, and reflecting on our failures.

What success looks like.

What success looks like.

My goal is to be more than a handsome trainer with sweet calves. My goal is to teach others to elevate their lives and become more than they are both in AND out of the gym. This brings me back to my original point. Most people don’t hate Mondays, they hate their job. When you have a passion you don’t go to work, you go to LIVE. My calling has woken me up to living my dreams.

Subsequently my dreams involve teaching ladies how to build a better booty. Which is just a perk if you ask me.

Living the dream

Living the dream

Top Five Lifting Songs – Metal Edition

I feel like the number one common thread between any and all people who hit the gym is music. I could name on a few fingers the people I’ve met who say they actually PREFER silence while lifting. Today we’re going to stay away from those weirdos and I’m going to shed a little light onto just a few songs that I love to have blasting while hittin’ the weights.

NOTE: These aren’t even some of my favorite songs. These are just a few that for some reason when they come on, it’s game time. Couldn’t even explain why, but here they are. Five songs that take me to the zone.

1. Flaw – Payback

This one gets me pumped. Something about how it’s pretty mellow for the most part yet breaks down hard for the chorus strikes a chord with me. Sort of like how we lift. There’s the calm getting ready for a big lift and when the moment comes you let loose and get shit done. This one just so happens to exemplify that breakdown I have mentally when I open the floodgates on a barbell.

 

2. System of a Down – Prison Song

An oldie but a goodie. At least for me. For whatever reason when this one comes on it gets me motivated. Maybe it’s the social message being put forth mixed with some lovely melodies about the drugs, prisons, and government that just gets me pumped. With every rep it’s like I’m stickin’ it to the man. Side Note: This was the best SOAD album in my opinion.

 

3. Rammstein – Du Hast

I have loved this song from the moment I heard it. A solid beat throughout mixed with the synthesizers and guitar make this a great one. Plus it’s in German or something. So that’s cool. But seriously though, Rammstein is a killer band and this is one of their more well known songs for a reason. It’s awesome.

 

4. Slipknot – Pulse of the Maggots

I could seriously do an entire list devoted to Slipknot, but if I had to choose one song it’d be this. If I don’t feel like lifting then this one is on. Fast and hard this one epitomizes some of the things I think of about lifting and life in a general way. Many people find themselves held down by life or other people and need to break free. The fact that we are here only a short time and I’ll be damned if I wont work my ass off. The sound off at the end is the best.

 

5. Bullet for My Valentine – Hearts Burst Into Fire

This one actually surprises me. Although not generally a fan here, I really like this song. For whatever reason when I hear this song I immediately find myself in the mood to kick some ass. Fast guitars and some pretty good breakdowns make this one that when I can’t get myself going gets the job done.

 

These are just a few of the many songs that get me through my workouts. I guess the biggest difference is that these songs are the ones that get me fired up if I find myself fizzling out while training. Some of the ones that reinvigorate me. Don’t worry, I plan on putting together a few more lists of my favorite warmup songs, rap, etc. for when I’m gettin’ it done in the gym. Until then, enjoy these suggestions!

How awesome is deadlifting? Seriously.

Deadlifting is awesome. I mean, we all know we can agree on that. But just how awesome is deadlifting? Crazy awesome, or craze amaze if you’re hip and with it. If ever there was an exercise that produced some of the greatest positive change in the body in terms of strength building, fat burning, muscle driving, confidence boosting, awesome-sauce increasing greatness then it has got to be deadlifting. Still not convinced? Let’s break it down and talk about why if you’re not deadlifting you’re wrong.

So awesome.

So awesome.

1. Deadlifting makes you stronger.
This first one is obvious. Simply picking something up off the floor repeatedly will make you stronger. The body’s ability to exert force in such a simple applicable manner again and again help to build enormous levels of practical strength. The deadlift will torch everything from your grip to your glutes. Giving you a solid core, neck, arms, glutes and legs. When I have clients that need to get stronger quickly, we deadlift.  Studies have shown resistance training get you stronger; at the heart of every good training program should be deadlifts. Pick it up. Put it back down. Repeat and grow stronger.

Check yourself guys.

Check yourself guys.

2. Kick fat in the ass.
We all know that the key to losing fat MOST efficiently is to build muscle. That’s fine, but the problem comes in when clients aren’t sure how to maximize their time in the gym in terms of building muscle. Yet another reason I rely on the deadlift. Shaping lean muscle mass will help burn more calories strictly by existing than by cardio or some other such nonsense alone. By deadlifting, clients utilize nearly every filament in the body to fulfill a task. The sheer level of work required, combined with the fantastic amount of overall muscle activation increases both mass and density. These factors in turn will help to drive fat out the door and fill out those jeans you love.

3. Traps on Traps on Traps
Want to form some serious muscle? Pick that shit up then. Seriously. One of the most critical parts to building muscle is dancing the right way with your central nervous system. Eating, sleeping, lifting, etc. correctly to get where you need to be. Generating the right kind of stimulus for muscle growth is simple. You must spur the CNS into action with the appropriate kind of disruption. Deadlifting can help cause the greatest positive upset to the CNS in order to increase growth hormone, spike the metabolism, and ultimately burn fat while increasing muscle mass.

They don't call it a trap bar for nothing... Damn.

They don’t call it a trap bar for nothing… Damn.

4. Confidence
I have not had a single client who put time into learning to deadlift who didn’t see a marked swelling in self-confidence do to the benefits of the aforementioned effects of this exercise. There is not a doubt in my mind that learning to focus, breath deeply, and muster the fortitude to battle yourself again and again in the deadlift will not create someone who is stronger and more confident than they were before. Regardless of age, gender, etc.

Lastly, deadlifting to me is meditative. Anyone who knows me knows I have too much energy and nowhere to put it most of the time. Often times this fact can make life burdensome. Learning how to deadlift properly taught me miles of concentration that I have taken and applied to other aspects of my life including, but not limited to, school, work, relationships, and so on. Training to take a deep breath and put every ounce of your being into something takes practice. Although this can be said for anything. I again turn to this critical exercise as something anyone and everyone can and should take with them to improve their own life.

Meditation.

273kg meditation