Wednesday, May 30, 2007


You already know about my friend, Alwyn Cosgrove, who kicked cancer's ass twice. You can actually read his story in his "cancer diaries" as part of the project LiftStrong (remember all proceeds go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) which includes over 800 pages from the top minds in the fitness and strength and conditioning professions.

Well I've got another one for ya...

My friend Rob "fishrcutb8" Duffield dropped me a line today that made me smile.

He competed in a triathalon to celebrate my birthday on the 27th (okay, it wasn't to celebrate my birthday but this isn't YOUR blog now is it) AND he beat his goal time.

Now that's inspiring!

But get this...

It was his first race since being diagnosed with testicular cancer AND being hit by a truck while riding his bike.

These are both monster comebacks and I'm proud to call both guys friend.

Now what was it you were complaining about today? :)


Sunday, May 27, 2007

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's...well, me.

Today is my birthday.

Not a big deal really, but it's always fun to do something that you wouldn't typically do.

While the Indy 500 was in full swing, we headed downtown to the new Superhero Museum to check it out.

Quite the cool little place. Everything from the Superman serials, early George Reeves costumes, Christopher Reeve's wig (Superman wore a wig??), and Smallville.

The highlights was the Batmobile (Keaton era) and the Bat-boat (Adam West era).

Not a bad deal for $5.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Golf Fitness Assessment

Anthony Renna from recently started a new podcast specifically for golfers interested in taking their game to the next level by increasing their fitness.

Ant interviewed me on the topic of golf fitness assessment and we covered some great stuff.

You can listen to it on iTunes or follow this link:



Thursday, May 24, 2007

Healthy Chocolate Fix

By now you've probably read something about the health benefits of real chocolate.

The problem is finding some real dark with a high percentage of cocoa that doesn't taste like crapola.

Well it just so happens that there's a company here in Indianapolis that makes some killer chocolate that is 88% cocoa.

It's also easy to order...

Here's some info from their website...

The Health Benefits of Chocolate For the body...

Chocolate contains antioxidants known as flavonoids which help protect against free radicals that cause cell and tissue damage.
Chocolate contains beneficial vitamins and minerals, including copper, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Contrary to popular belief, chocolate contains minimal caffeine – a fraction of that in a cup of coffee.
70% cocoa or higher dark chocolate has a low glycemic index, meaning a smaller fluctuation in blood glucose and insulin levels than with other sweet foods. Be sure to read labels for other added sugars.
Endangered Species Chocolate is all-natural, meaning it contains no additives like chemical preservatives or artificial coloring and flavoring. Our organic-certified products are made using ingredients with no pesticides, growth hormones or other chemicals, maximizing the benefits of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.


Stearic acid found in cocoa butter has a neutral affect on cholesterol. A portion of chocolate’s fat also comes from oleic acid, a heart-healthy, monounsaturated fat. The antioxidants found in dark chocolate can inhibit plaque formation in the arteries and improve the flexibility of blood vessels.
The darker and purer the chocolate, the more powerful the antioxidants. 70% cocoa or higher dark chocolate contains more antioxidant power than green tea, red wine or blueberries. Endangered Species Chocolate has many dark chocolate selections with 70-88% cocoa content, some containing other heart-friendly foods like berries and nuts.

And soul...

Eating chocolate releases endorphins, the body’s natural “feel-good” chemical.
Chocolate is known as an antidepressant and an aphrodisiac. It contains a phenylethylamine, which can cause feelings similar to being “in love.”
Our own health can be connected to our compassion and generosity toward others. Feel good about indulging in Endangered Species Chocolate knowing that it helps support sustainable forest farming practices and gives back to conservation organizations.

Dairy can interfere with the absorption of antioxidants found in chocolate.
While chocolate has many health benefits, it should be consumed in moderation. Chocolate consumption that causes weight gain negates many of the health values.
This information is in no way intended to be medical advice. If you intend to medicate with chocolate, please consult a doctor first.

At Endangered Species Chocolate we provide gourmet chocolate made with the finest all-natural ingredients. Cacao, the essence of chocolate, is actually a fruit that, when harvested naturally or organically, supports human health (see reverse) as well as the environment. Chocolate products made from natural and organic ingredients with minimal processing have the greatest health benefit, richest flavor and a positive impacton the earth.

Just as important, we see chocolate as a medium to help save species, conserve habitat and honor human life. Our 100% ethically traded cacao beans are shade grown on small, family-owned properties, ensuring the workers and farmers a fair wage and humane working conditions. Choosing Endangered Species Chocolate is one way to support sustainable forest farmland and the species that flourish there. We add to the impact of each bar by contributing 10% of our net profits to organizations whose mission is to help support species, habitat and humanity.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Yoga STILL Sucks

So much for the body-mind connection myths perpetuated by the yoga fanatics.

In a head to head comparison between an aerobically trained group of senior citizens and a progressive stretching group (all participants were previously untrained), the aerobically trained grandmas showed a 25% greater cognitive improvement than the stretchers.

Now before you yogi's get your panties in a bunch, I think that if you enjoy yoga, by all means, continue to do it...then do something productive.

Stanley J. Colcombe, Arthur F. Kramer, Kirk I. Erickson, Paige Scalf, Edward McAuley, Neal J. Cohen, Andrew Webb, Gerry J. Jerome, David X. Marquez, and Steriani Elavsky
Cardiovascular fitness, cortical plasticity, and aging, PNAS, Mar 2004; 101: 3316 - 3321.


Friday, May 18, 2007


One of the big challenges when monitoring your food intake, is avoiding overeating and dealing with poor food choices at all the cook-outs, summer pizza parties, and countless social events that go along with the improving weather.

Mike Roussell, author of Your Naked Nutrition Guide, sent me this little gem recently.

Consider Pre-Eating...

Pre-Eat when going out – Birthday parties, cocktail hour at your wife’s friend’s house, dinner at your parents all these occasions can wreak havoc on a well thought out meal plan. This is why proper Damage Control is important. So what can you do? Pre-Eat. Heading to a sugar laden social event on an empty stomach is a bad idea. And if you’re thinking “But I have great willpower” stop, why test yourself. Proper pre-eating will put a little food in your stomach, curb your hunger, and slow the digestion of whatever foods you do end up eating when you go out.

One of my favorite pre-eats is a medium sized apple and one ounce of low fat cheddar cheese. Apples have fiber, a low glycemic index, and have been shown to curb appetite. The cheese contains protein and fat both of which will increase your satiety (make you feel fuller) and slow the digestion of any other foods you eat.

So next time you find yourself headed to an unexpected social event run damage control and pre-eat.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Perform Better Chicago Day 3

Fully recovered from the previous evenings festivities (thanks again to Chris Poirier for his hospitality and John Hall for the ride back to the hotel), Day 3 started off strong with Gray Cook of the Functional Movement Screen fame.

His topic was safer strength with a focus on progressions to mastering the deadlift which he felt was one of the most important lower body/posterior chain/core exercises. I don't think too many people will disagree with that.

His driving home point, was to maintain your ability to perform a deep squat (a la FMS), but your loading should come primarily from deadlift variations. This would include single leg and double leg variations. He also included some self-testing for stability which is included on his video on the same topic. Oh, and don't forget to breath like a crocodile.

Todd Wright, head of strength and conditioning for University of Texas Basketball, was up next.

Apparently, UT was having quite a few injuries so Todd went to work to find out why. Seems they had a number of ankle mobility and foot issues especially in their best athletes. Todd showed some really great slow-mo video of his guys in action which really lets you appreciate what such gifted human beings can do that many of us can't. In one case, he showed Kevin Durant jump off of an ankle that inverted so severely that for most it would have resulted in a fractured ankle. The injury took Kevin out of the game for some retaping, and he returned to finish the game and missed one day of practice.

Todd also showed some cool before and after gait video showing how improving ankle mobility improved the gait pattern and relieved pain elsewhere such as the back. Todd obviously does a great job with his team, and while I wouldn't agree on everything he presented, overall is was definitely worth listening.

The Evolution of an Athlete was the presented by Eric Cressey. While I'd communicated with Eric via email in the past. We didn't get to meet until this weekend. He's your typical muscle-head powerlifter with a big gut and even bigger anterior pelvic tilt (this isn't really's an inside joke). Eric's one of the up-n-comers in the strength conditioning field who's way to smart for his age.

His talk outlined how an athlete's training should progress based on his knowledge base, self-awareness, and his training age. A word to the wise. Most of you are training at least one level too high for your optimal progress.

I also stole an exercise from Eric called the Paloff press (which I believe he borrowed...don't worry, I'm sure it'll end up in one of Eric's t-nation articles).

Like I said it was great to talk with Eric a bit, and we were able to have a couple of really solid discussions that were as interesting as some of the formal presentations.

I'm not sure, but he may have a future in the strength/conditioning/fitenss field. :)

The champion enters the ring last. That must be why Alwyn Cosgrove spoke last on the last day of the Summit (the champ entering the ring thing was Alwyn's line).

Not only has the guy made cancer his bitch on two occasions, but he gives a top-notch presentation.

Case in point. I was privleged to see this presentation before anyone in the general public had ever seen. I've seen him present it before. And I'd watch it again if presented the opportunity.

Mike Robertson was sitting one row behind me. He's seen it before. Get the picture?

A quick synopsis of the Real World Fat Loss presentation...

Everything you've been told in the popular media about how to lose fat is WRONG.

It's not even supported in the peer-reviewed research.

The father of aerobics, Kenneth Cooper, said it was wrong.

Alwyn has real-world research from over 16 years of running 200-300 clients through their training on a weekly basis.

He's got the before and after photos to prove that it works.

BTW his method is available in the form of his product called Afterburn.

We then said our good-byes and headed our separate ways.

I got some directions from the hotel as to how to get to the interstate only to find that all the on-ramps were closed for construction. You'd think since the on-ramp was only a couple blocks away that the concierge would have had a clue. Had it not been for my inherited, uncanny sense of direction, I'd still be driving around Chicago looking for I-90.

Anyway, congrats to Chris Poirier and the Perform Better staff for an outstanding Summit.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Perform Better Chicago Day 2

I started day 2 with the Gray Institute presentation.

I already had a good idea what to expect being familiar with Gary Gray's approach. The word functional is used heavily throughout. They also use terms such as tranformational zones which if you know what the stretch-shortening cycle is (eccentric to isometric to concentric) then you have an understanding of what they mean.

They also promote the use of drivers which is their term for using movements of distal body parts or movements performed away from the targeted body part to elicit activation of certain muscle groups.

Example: if you want to fire the right glutes, step forward with the right foot, shift your pelvis to the right, and reach up and over to the left with your right arm.

The ultimate goal is to activate without isolating the hip much like during functional activities. Makes sense but unless you plan to devote a long period of study into their methods, I think there's easier ways to approach it. (someone call Gray Cook)

One point I respectfully disagree with is that we must train at the extreme joint angles such as those that bring the ACL under maximum tension (closed-chain pronation, knee valgus, and hip internal rotation). Their theory is that if you can train the body at these joint angle then the athlete, having already been exposed to the angle, will be able to recover from it and actually prevent the ACL injury in the first place.

Well, it's virtually impossible to expose an athlete to all possible angles, postures, and body positions they'd be exposed to during competition. Better to actually practice their sport. Doing exercises as slow speeds and light loads, even if the joint angles are the same as the sport, is not the same as doing them at high speeds and high loads.

Still, if you want to see how the entire body "functions" during movement, Gary Gray's stuff is worth a look.

More McGill and superstiffness. This was an expansion of how the superstiffness is applied in sport and training. He showed the Bruce Lee one inch punch as an example of how force is created centrally in the trunk muscles and then displayed with a low amplitude, high force movement. Dr. McGill asked the audience if anyone was applying this concept in other ways. How 'bout oscillatory isometrics, drop training??

Went to see Sue Falsone from Athlete's Performance. I want to see how the integrated all their therapy and training. Quite the set up from what I could tell. The audience pulled her off track a bit with questions about insurance coverage, but it was still good to see how they integrated the different aspects of their business.

Caught a few minutes of Mike Boyle's Advance Program Design talk. You should have his DVD set on the same topic. Wha??? You don't? Get it.

Al Vermeil was next. Here's the only strength coach with world championship in 2 major professional sports. One (actually several) with the San Francisco 49'ers (He's up there talking about working with Bill and then you realize he's talking about Bill Walsh) and the other with the Chicago Bulls. I'd have paid to hear him just talk about working with Micheal Jordan for an hour.

He didn't, but instead reviewed Mark Comerfords' approach to spinal stability. This approach is the polar opposite to Dr. McGill's. Where Dr. McGill would tell you that which muscle is more important will depend on the activity, the approach that Coach Vermeil presented falls into the inner unit (TVA, multifidus, diaphragm, pelvic floor) vs. the outer unit (abs, erectors, etc.).

He's personal friends with Comerford and Hodges and he used this approach to help his wife with a long-term back problem. Makes sense that he should feel strongly about this approach.

Ryan Lee wrapped up the day. There is no one that has done more to improve the business lives of personal trainers and strength coaches. He presented on how to create unlimited passive income streams. I've seen it before but it was great to hear it again. He was also kind enough to plug my (and Mike Robertson's) DVD (available at The thing about what Ryan has to offer is that it's not BS theory. There are too many real-world examples of trainers that he has helped become more successful.

Post Summit activities...

Beers with Mike Boyle, Alwyn Cosgrove, Chris Poirier, Eric Cressey, Mike Robertson, Annette Lang, Nancy from Noblesville (right down the street from my house), and a host of others. Then off to dinner and drinks.

Side note: Spent a good portion of the evening talking to Rob Pilger of I dont' think there's anyone who knows more about boxing than Rob. He knows boxing and he knows how to train. He mentioned that he's got a series of training DVD's coming soon. I'm buyin'.

One more day to go!


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Perform Better Chicago

I attended the Perform Better Functional Training Summit in Chicago last weekend. To say that Chris Poirier and his staff at Perform Better pulled off a great event is an understatement. I predict that this tour will become the standard in the fitness and sports training industry.

Here's a quickie rundown (keep in mind that I couldn't see all the speakers as they ran 2 lectures and 2 hands-on sessions simultaneously and I'm doing this from memory)...

I arrived Thursday night and while checking out the venue I ran into (almost literally) my good buddy Jean-Paul Francoeur from JP Fitness. With "Kaiser" from the JP Fitness forum as our guide we toured the city and saw the sites (including the giant bean at Millenium Park...freaky) and dined on Chicago-style deep dish pizza (Note to Mike had spinach in it so it was safe to eat, right?).

On to the PB Summit...

Thomas Plummer may have been the perfect choice to start things off.

He's an energetic, pulls-no-punches type of speaker. If it's on his mind, he'll say it. In a very short time, he laid out the basic foundation for building your fitness business. This guy has literally been in every gym in the country and knows what makes your fitness business successful or what will cause it to fail.

A note to personal trainers everywhere...

Lose the earrings, cover your tattoo, wear a collared shirt and nice shorts or pants. It's time to step it up and be a professional. Clients are not interested in being bodybuilders...they want to have fun and will pay big money for it.

Stuart McGill was first up after lunch. I was really looking forward to hearing him and he didn't disappoint. Dr. McGill has tested them all from the highest level of athlete to Joe and Jane Schmoe. Where others theorize, he has direct laboratory results to support his recommendations. The underlying theme is to create what he calls "superstiffness" by effectively utilizing co-contraction of all the abdominals.

Other gems:
If you think you can contract the transversus abdominis and multifidus in isolation...dream on. Don't waste your time.

The hip airplane is one of the best ways to get the glutes to fire.

Groove the motor pattern (this was in reference to retraining the squat)

Great athletes have the ability to turn-on and turn-off muscles quickly which make for efficient and effective performance. This is trainable by the way.

Bill Parisi of Parisi Speed Schools ROCKED THE HOUSE!!

By far the most energetic of all the speakers, Bill talked about how to effectively network and build your sphere of influence. His just happens to include a guy named Phil Simms, Super Bowl quarterback and now TV commentator.

I also related to Bill because he, like me, was a javelin thrower and a linebacker in college although after a brief discussion I found he was a much better thrower than I was.

There's no way I can express the impact Bill has as a speaker in this blog.

Let's put it this way...he talked 30+ minutes over his time. No one wanted him to stop and no one left early.

His passion and enthusiasm for what he does with kids and his athletes is obvious.

Oh, and one attendee walked off with $100 of Bill's money for increasing his vertical jump by about a foot in about 30 seconds (it wasn't me). :)

I didn't get a chance to see Robb Rogers (who I found out happens to live in the same area as I do) talk about Muscle Activation Techniques, but I have seen his video on the topic which is quite good. Regardless, I was able to socialize with him a bit. Robb's "been there and done that" for a couple of decades in the strength and conditioning field and is not only a tremedous resource of training info, but a class act to boot.

I missed Diane Vives' talk too, but I sat next to her at dinner Saturday night. She's a very cool gal who also works her ass off. She's also trains some hardcore bodybuilders in a hardcore training facility that most women would be afraid to even walk by. The girl knows her stuff.

Lee Taft was there as well showing off his low box training which if you haven't seen, you'd think Lee was in his 20's. The guy hasn't lost a step and his explosiveness is unbelievable. Lee's been a friend of mine for a few years and his Lee Taft Speed Academy is growing like a weed in upstate New York mainly because the guy is one of the best in the business. He never stops working. At Friday night's social, you could see Lee answering questions and doing demos all night.

Speaking of the social Friday night...


Aside from that, Chris Poirier's hospitality and generosity are endless and he deserves many thanks for bringing so many folks in the industry together.

I had a chance to catch up with Ryan Lee (you still owe me a consult for fixing your neck at the first Ryan Lee Bootcamp;)). Ryan has a million projects going at once as usual and has a new baby on the way (that makes 3). He's living in Jupiter, Florida these days as his new nutrition and supplement company for trainers (Prograde Nutrition) explodes onto the scene.

Also hung with Mike Robertson, Mike Dodd, and assorted others.

Special mention: Never say you don't have time.

Angela from Crown Point, IN told her story over drinks. She's a Mom of 4 who home schools her kids AND runs a thriving fitness business geared toward women training for weight loss. Ladies and now have no excuses.

Special Mention #2: Graham Dean from came all the way to Chicago from South Africa. He's a very sharp guy, and I have no doubt that he will quickly become the go-to guy in all of South Africa not to mention that my network has now gotten a lot bigger.

A good start for Day 1.

Day 2 is coming...


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Get Naked Nutrition Now!

Today is an exciting day because I get to tell you about something that I've been keeping under wraps for quite a while.

Back in April, I had the chance to spend some time and talk nutrition with Mike Roussell. He also gave me a copy of his book Naked Nutrition. Let me tell you, no one should be that young and be that intelligent.

Naked Nutrition strips away all the fluff in regards to creating a healthy AND effective fat loss or muscle gaining nutrition program. Mike's taken a very confusing topic like proper nutrition and created an easy-to-follow guide that everyone can use regardless of your caloric needs or type of diet you prefer.

Since low-carb dieting is once again the rage, I did a mini-Q & A with Mike.

Bill: When fat loss is the goal, it seems that many are now fearful of
eating carbs. How will carbs fit effectively into a fat loss training

Mike Roussell: There are really two approaches you can take with carbohydrates regarding fat loss; one is more extreme than the other. Let's look at the more extreme option first. With this option you completely remove all starchy carbohydrates with the exception of your workout nutrition (keep the carbohydrates there at all costs). This approach is easy because it requires little thinking - the only carbohydrates you eat are fruits and vegetables.

But for some people that can be a radical change to their nutritional plan and thus is not initially recommended. Instead limit your starchy carbohydrate consumption to breakfast (commonly oatmeal) and in the first 1-2 meals following your workout. When I mention starchy carbohydrates, I'm talking about whole grain carbs not candy bars and cookies. If you are losing fat with carbs at these times then why cut them out? I find that very often what you said is true. People are "fearful of eating carbs" and thus automatically adopt the mantra "carbs make me fat" and cut them out of their diet without really knowing how their body responds to starchy higher glycemic index carbohydrates.

Continuing with the scenario…If fat loss is stalling then you can remove your morning starches and/or the starches following your workouts so that you are moving towards more of a zero starch diet (like I described previously).

The key message here is don't jump to carb conclusions without testing it on your body first. If you can eat oatmeal in the morning and still lose fat wouldn't you want to do that? The research shows that well timed starchy (and sometimes sugary) carbohydrates won't hinder fat loss and can actually be of extreme benefit. It is also important to note that in either diet scenario I outline neither one was a low carbohydrate diet. They were low starch diets. It is like Alwyn Cosgrove says "I don't recommend very low carbohydrate diet because I would never tell someone they can't eat vegetables."

Naked Nutrition is now available!


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Losing the Last 10

Here's the link to my latest fat loss article in Men's Health. It includes the complete 9-week program template that didn't fit in the original article.

Losing the Last 10


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Left/Right Imbalances


My right leg is significantly stronger than my left and I have a reoccurring injury that I finally realize is most likely due to this strength imbalance. The imbalance is because I had reconstructive knee surgery back in high school. I’m going to start doing exclusive single leg work. Should I add extra sets to the weak leg or use the same amount of weight for both legs based on what the weak (left) leg can handle?

Since the body tends to function best when there is minimal discrepency between the left and right sides of the body, this can be a pretty significant issue not only in performance but your orthopedic health as well.

Rarely is it as simple as just doing more sets on the weaker side. If that were the case then in most cases of general weakness doing more would be better, and in this day and age I think we all know that more is not always better.

Since, in your estimation, this is related to a previous injury and is a recurring problem, it's pretty obvious that something is feeding the imbalance. In most cases, the issue is not where you're feeling the pain or are experiencing the weakness.

There is most likely an imbalance elsewhere that developed over time due to altering your typical movement pattern to avoid pain or compensate for the dysfunction.

Without assessing you directly, specific corrective programming isn't possible but the first thing I'd compare is your hip and shoulder range of motion and your thoracic spine (upper back) rotation (from a tall sitting position turn from side to side). Look for any significant differences between sides and focus on correcting them first.

You can get a pretty clear picture by videotaping yourself doing an overhead squat, split squat, standing unilateral hip and knee flexion (stand on one leg and raise the opposite bent knee upward), and a single leg squat.

A lack of mobility/motion will show up as asymmetries in motion and/or posture or a loss of balance. Work to correct these asymmetries first as they will assure that appropriate movement patterns are being used and further imbalances will be avoided.

Once normal patterns have been restored it's just a matter of balancing strength.

To do so, focus primarily on unilateral exercises with a normal volume of training on the "weaker" side and a reduced volume of training on the "strong" side (matching the reps per set performed on the weaker side) to avoid detraining.

For instance, if you perform 3 x 8 of lunges, perform the first set starting with the weaker side and alternate sides until you've performed 3 sets on the weaker side (the strong side gets 2 sets to maintain fitness).


P.S. Don't forget to work on your thoracic spine and shoulder mobility as well.