Monthly Archives: April 2014

Pre-Prehab for the Shoulders



The Subscapularis/Supraspinatus muscles is the area of the body that I describe as “sort of pork chop looking” which may help cut down on any thoughts that I’m some sort of physical therapist.

My previous posts on shoulder fitness has proven to be a popular topic here on My Trainer Chris and I’ve had the pleasure of exchanging information with several other personal trainers on the subject.

Since prevention always trumps repair, I have decided to list a few of my favorite shoulder pre-prehab tips.


(Left to Right) A cross-dressing guy running while wearing a ladies outfit, two guys getting ready for a soccer/football game with the one in the yellow updating Facebook about him going into “Beast Mode” at the gym (I’m positive he’s not on My Trainer Chris)  and one guy kind enough to remove his KKK hood before working out.

Perform logical warm-ups.  Nearly very time I’m in a commercial gym I see people simply walk in, load up weights and start training. Furthermore I often see trainers have clients “warm up” for 5-10 minutes walking on a treadmill, bike or elliptical before lifting weights.

In my opinion neither option is good or logical.  The 5-10 minutes spent on the cardio equipment would be vastly better served going through some mobility work / active warm-ups and 1-2 sets of lighter weight warm-ups sets to get the blood flowing before lifting heavy things.

Ankle /Knee mobility, Hip Flexor Stretching, Thoracic Spine mobilization and extension and Shoulder movements should be done as part of a regular warm up.



30 minutes or less. Think you’re antsy for that pizza delivery guy to arrive? Try being a personal trainer with a stacked schedule!  30 minute schedules can create a conflict if the trainer is stuck with fixed session lengths.  In situations such as these I have my “minimum-minimum” warm-up.  All three are to be performed, at present I haven’t been able to whittle things down any further than this.


Unloaded Deep Squats or Kettlebell Goblet Squats



Hip Flexor 90-90 Stretch.  You’ll be tempted to brace yourself on the front leg.  I coach my clients not to do this unless it is to re-calibrate their balance.


Chest Stretch can be done with or without a foam roller.

 Balance the Big Lifts.  In my programming I place a minimum-minimum of 24 hours recovery between squatting and pressing movements.  I will however pair a Squat, Clean/Row and Overhead Press, or Squat, Deadlift and Bench Press into the same workout.  Pressing the day before or after you’ve back squatted is inviting problems.


I’ll be headed to a TRX seminar next month!

Less is sometimes more.  Bodyweight training allows free and natural movement and dumbbells are exceptional for pressing movements.  My inclusion of bodyweight, dumbbell and kettlebell techniques has helped keep peoples shoulders from getting over-used.

Pulling vs. Push.  Originally I balance my pulling-pushing ratio at nearly 1:1.  I am now of the opinion that the ratio should be 2:1.  I believe rowing variations and general strengthening of the entire posterior chain will aid in preventing shoulder problems.


I do loves me some Pork Chops.

Localized work.  Specific work on the rotator cuff/posterior deltoid and infraspinatus (aka the porkchop looking area of your body) is in my opinion best hit by using the reverse fly (aka deltoid fly) with a neutral grip, dumbbell flies with a modified grip (grab DB handle at the rear, not the middle and twist the pinkies up at the top of the lift.


1. Why? 2. Couldn’t a weight vest have done the same trick?

Rows or Chins should be done at a higher rep/lighter weight range. The words “balance in training” is often misunderstood.  In this case, a person with a heavy bench press or overhead press number may be of the belief that he/she must perform heavy rows/chin ups to balance out the training.  This is the opposite of the truth.  Heavy weight chin ups are possibly more dangerous to your shoulders than heavy bench presses.



I’ve met people that if left to their own devices would be perfectly content on only curling that weight….somehow 2 lbs is too heavy yet a bucket of fried chicken or mega-topped stuffed crust pizza is liftable.

Don’t let your ego dictate your curl weight.  OK so I’ll contradict my last photo caption….but I am 100% certain there is a weight between zero and too heavy.   Going heavy on bicep curls risks wrist and elbow problems but can also aggravate the biceps tendon and lead to shoulder problems.  Use a more moderate weight, controlled tempo and shorter rest periods to work the biceps.

Get a Lacrosse Ball.  Use the ball to massage your upper back and pectorals.  It’s going to hurt, but trust me when I say you want to break up the nasty stuff that builds up in those muscles.

Know your upper half from your lower half.  Get Ups, Ab Rollouts, Thrusters and Overhead Squats all have one thing in common.  They all involve both the upper and lower body to perform (and are all pretty tough exercises.)  If you pressed the day before your shoulders will eventually hate you.

Change things up.  Overuse injuries comes from doing the same things over and over. While I believe in keeping things simple and concentrating on the major movement patterns I don’t subscribe to the idea of doing the same exercise without variation.

Common Sense.  When something is bothering you don’t do it.  Switch to something that doesn’t hurt.

Pain…now there’s a potential mega-blog worthy of my 50 Shades of Trainers or Trainers that Suck series…….


Shoulder Fitness: Mobility, Stability and Strength Training

A few days ago I enjoyed a brief conversation with a great friend of mine.  He expressed to me some recent shoulder pain issues he has been having and I told him I would post some information that hopefully could assist.

My friend and I share a few things in common;  We’re both lifelong Martial Artists, we are both 28 years old (again), and both regularly lift weights (he is a CrossFitter while I am a Strength and Performance guy.)

The fact we are guys, lift heavy things, engage in combat sports and are over 28 years old is enough to cause shoulder issues.  Actually any one of those is enough to get us into the club.

My experience working with athletes’ shoulders has proven quite enlightening and it is the joint that I have had the greatest success in delivering the goods for the athletes’ desired outcome.  To date, I have helped several men who initially could not lift an arm above head height, two combat athletes, a baseball pitcher, two crossfitters, a shot putter and numerous lifters regain their range of movement and increase their lifting strength.

My method towards achieving the desired outcomes is pretty simple:  (1) Screen (2) Refer if needed (3) Mobility/Flexibility Work (4) Passive Work (5) Isolation Work and (6) Integration Work.

Screening 101

The purpose of performing a screen is to detect areas of asymmetry and tightness.  The RED FLAG is of course pain.  If the client encounters pain you stop the screen and refer the client to their physician.

As a trainer this is neither the time nor place to think “Oh this guy is faking it” or “She’s just being a cry baby.”  Yes, I agree the client may very well be either of those two but it is not our place to make that determination.

Clients/Athletes: The only acceptable answers to the question “Are you in pain?”  “Does that hurt?”  is either YES or NO.   The amount of words I could write on this topic would make for a blog in and of itself.


 The Wall Shoulder Flexion Test:

How it’s done according to NASM: “The wall shoulder flexion test helps to assess if you have proper range of motion when raising your arms directly above your head.  The test is performed with you standing with your heels, buttocks, shoulders and head against a wall.  The lumbar should be held in a neutral position with its natural curve.  Arms should be hanging at your sides.   With the elbows extended and thumbs pointing up, extend your arms straight up toward the wall.  The goal is to touch your thumbs against the wall with no compensatory movements such as shrugging your shoulders or arching your back.  If any part of your body moves besides your arms, you may have some muscle tightness. “

Eric Cressey of Cressey Performance provides a video example.

Eric allows for a 6-8 inch distance from the wall to the heels.  If the NASM screen model proves difficult then try the Cressey modification.

“I’m tight in the flexion test, my arms won’t go that high.  What can I do?”

I have instructed clients to procure a sturdy stick and perform the shoulder flexion while holding it.  This can be done standing or while lying down.


A CrossFit Mobility WOD Technique with a Foam Roller.


Self-Myofascial Realease / Foam Rolling has become a part of gyms everywhere and many have enjoyed the benefits of its use.  What is seldom covered are the warning orders attached to this otherwise innocent looking exercise.

Foam rolling is not advise for clients with osteoporosis/osteopenia, obese/elderly individuals that cannot get off the floor easily, diabetics with reduced circulation in their lower body, the inside portion of pregnant clients thighs, directly over the joints or the spine.

Dr. Jennifer Reiner covers some outstanding thoracic and shoulder mobility/flexibility exercises using the foam roller and other props.


Don’t let me catch you wearing workout gloves or lifting straps during a pendulum exercise.


This is a passive exercise that has proven quite helpful for a number of my clients.  When assigning this exercise to clients I have always instructed that the weight be kept very light.  5 lbs is enough for my strong athletes and less than 1 lb is preferred for clients with recovery issues.  Progression is measured in the athletes rate of perceived exertion.  An athlete with adhesive capsilitus (aka Frozen Shoulder) will not be too tolerant of this exercise until the scar tissue starts to break up.

This exceptionally well spoke gentleman breaks it down for us and I feel smarter just listening to the chap.


Ladies:  Doing face pulls will not make your back look like a relief map.  I’ve been watching women train for a long time now and I’m really good at it.

Face Pulls

While it would appear that face pulls primarily target the rear deltoid, this exercise actually targets the lateral deltoids exceptionally well.  Face pulls can be done at either a cable station or with a band.

Coach Nick Tumminello demonstrates his version of the cable face pull exercise.

Coach Brett Contreras demonstrates the band “pull and pull apart” method”


The young lady is doing a great job with her landmine press.  I’m going to presuppose the colored dumbbells are for throwing practice and not actual lifting.

Landmine Press

Overhead Pressing is not advisable early in a recovery stage.  The athlete initially requires mobility and stability before progressing to strength training in either isolated or integrated methods.  The landmine is a means of getting the athlete prepped for overhead work, or as a stand-alone exercise that has more available movement patterns.  When I first introduce the landmine press I always begin with just the bar.

Aside from the landmines value in building the shoulders, it has proven especially useful for training combat athletes and throwers.

Coach Dean Somerset demonstrates a Landmine Press integrated with rotational movements and force transfer between the lower and upper halves of the body.


Never start with a Kettlebell bigger than the size of your head.

Bottoms Up Kettle bell Press

Starting with a lighter Kettlebell, the Bottoms Up Press is particularly good for developing shoulder stability and has a place in both rehabilitation as well as strength and performance training.  I do not believe that a dumbbell version of this exercise elicits the same response due to the balanced load of the weight.

Coach Tumminello demonstrates and gives his tips for a good bottom up press:

Dan John

(Right) Coach Dan John instructs the fine points of the Get Up.

 Kettlebell Get Up

In my opinion first two to three positions of this technique will work wonders in helping stabilize the shoulder.  The Get-Up in its entirety is a full body workout that reaps the rewards of mobility, strength and balance…do enough of them consecutively and you have a deceptive cardio exercise.

 Gray Cook and Brett Jones detail the perfect get up:

Losing Weight but not Size, Losing Size but not Weight, Losing my Mind, not Weight or Size.

My blogs “I’m losing inches (but not pounds)” and I’m losing weight (but not size) have been the two of the top four most viewed four here on My Trainer Chris.  

I fully expect that one will fall off the top four chart when I post a blog titled “Win a Date with Chris”, but I haven’t gotten around to jotting any blog notes on the topic as of yet.

The popularity of my weight loss/size loss blogs brings me to today’s post.  The love-hate relationship with the scale


I don’t see the scale as an inherently bad or good thing.  The good part is that I can see the scale when I step on it.  

I have a morning routine that I’ve been following for a little while and thus far things have been going exceptionally well.  This is especially surprising for me since I was not formerly the type of guy one would describe as a morning person.  Retiring with more than two decades of military service can apparently swing the pendulum either way, with some people continuing to rise early and others saying “I’m sleeping past 5 a.m because I can.”


Guys: Here’s yet another way to annoy your partner.

One thing that is not part of my morning routine, and frankly never has been, is checking my weight on the scale.  In my opinion this act has an amazing ability to set the tone for the rest of your day.   I don’t like giving up that much power to anything.

Where the scale is a great thing:

It’s portable and can be done in the privacy of your own home.

It can be bought at a reasonable price.

It can help provide a boost of motivation.

It gives a quick estimation of where you currently stand.

Where the scale is not such a great thing:

The scale provides a numeric reading, that like most other sources of information may not give the most accurate reflection if you losing fat or not.  I think of it as the MSNBC of fat loss.

The scale is not the alpha and omega and should not be thought of as such.

The scale can also provide demotivation if the number on the scale does not even meet your lowest levels of expectations.  I’ve seen that heartbreak firsthand more than a few times and it never get easier.  This fellow trainers is a price you pay for caring about your client.  


If your wardrobe closet looks like this please contact me immediately. 

For my weight loss/size gain clients, I initially advise they check their weight based on my highly un-scientific, yet always honest “favorite clothes test.”   It’s simple and quite straight forward.  

(1) Find the clothes you currently love wearing the most, it doesn’t matter what it is. 

A t-shirt and shorts counts just as much as a little black evening dress or polo shirt and khaki’s.  What’s important here is that YOU LOVE how you make those clothes look.

(2) Take a long hard honest look at yourself in the mirror and while not looking at the mirror.  Mirrors provide a visual reference, but looking away from the mirror means you have to rely on your body to tell you how it thinks the clothes fit.


“I love how I look in Orange, but my waist and hips look like a single unit.”

(3) Date and List the areas of the clothing that you like, dislike or feel could use improvement.  “Too tight in the butt, but good in the thighs.”  “Arm holes are perfect, waist is too tight all around.”  Be honest, fair and highly specific.

(4) Put your clothes away, exercise, eat smart, enjoy your day and re-test in two-weeks. 

 “But he said wear clothes that I make look great right now, I want to be smaller/bigger!   Yes I did, trust me on this one.  If you’ve read this far I imagine you’re willing to read a little further.

 “Wait….he didn’t say get on the scale and record my current weight!”  That’s right I didn’t.  Why? Because clothes will always tell the truth. Besides, I did my due diligence and already recorded your scale weight, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio and circumference measurements.

Hypothetically imagine that body weight was constant and there was zero variability.  This morning I weighed 170 lbs post-evacuation and my most dehydrated state.  My body fat reading said I was at 14% body fat.  Numerically this works out to 146.2 lbs (64 kg) lean muscle mass and 23.9 lbs (10.8 kg) fat mass.

In a typical week my weight fluctuates between a high of 175 lbs to a low of 167 lbs.  In a dieting stage I might drop down to the 160 without even seeming to try.  The reality of the situation is that scale weight is subject to some variation.  My actual weight is probably right around 165 lbs.  The asymmetry of my -3 lb or =5 lb weight swing may be more common that I originally thought, but -3/5 will not be common to everyone.


I’m pretty good with plate and kettlebell weight, this stuff will take a little while to figure out.

“Scale weight” can be expressed in the following formula:

Scale Weight = True Weight + Weight Variance

True Weight: The weight that you would be in the hypothetical situation I presented above.

What is weight variance: In a nutshell weight variance is the little things that add or subtract from your weight.  

Glycogen stores. This relates to carbohydrates you consume. For every gram of carbohydrate that your body stores via glycogen, it also stores three grams of water. If you are carbohydrate-depleted (such as in the Atkins Diet), you will be at the lower end of your variance. Conversely, if you feast on carbohydrates, you will be at the upper end of your variance.

Water retention and depletion. If you consume more sodium than usual, you will probably retain water. If you drastically cut sodium, you will release water.  Your body adjusts its levels accordingly through hormone response.  This is not something you can do forever and it good. Combat athletes in MMA and Wrestling have to cut weight for the weight class and bodybuilders and physique competitors cut water to improve their appearance on stage.  Both of these situations are meant to be temporary.

Menstrual bloat. Women retain water during their cycle. In some cases quite a bit more than they retain off-cycle. This is where monthly weight checks come in hand.


“My scale needle moves like a epileptic stripper.”  

Your scale can swing erratically when dieting often due to the fact that glycogen is a much more volatile than fat. Fat loss occurs slowly, while glycogen levels can swing wildly. Let’s see what happens at both ends of glycogen storage.

The Full Tank ( You’re bloated from binge eating)
Binge eating typically means more glycogen will be retained afterwards and you’ll see an increase in the scale. This is only water weight. This is often the case when clients return from holidays or party weekends and complain that they’ve gained all the weight back.  I could be honest and give the client the biological facts that  If they find themselves gaining a ton of weight after a bad day of dieting, that is it only temporary and that their true weight didn’t move much, it’s simply subject to the laws of thermodynamics. Conversely, I could look them squarely in the eyes and say “yep, we needs to gets to some sprinting and lifting of heavy things, you ate it….you’re paying it.”


Weight Loss in 3 E-Z Steps!

(1) Download photo of handsome and charming trainer. 

(2) Post photo just over your eyebrow level on your refrigerator.

(3) Consider what sort of things this handsome and charming trainer will do to you when he finds out you ate 5 doughnuts.

That ought to do it.

Water bloat does seem make you look fatter than actual fat.  A person with a true weight of 200 lbs and bloats to 205  lbs  look fatter than if his/her true weight were 205 lbs.  If you find yourself gaining a ton of weight after a bad day of dieting, remember, this is only temporary. Your true weight hasn’t moved much; it’s still subject to the laws of thermodynamics.

While dieting, take weekly pictures of yourself when you adhere to your nutrition plan. I advise taking these photos in two-piece bikinis or shorter shorts for men.  Covering yourself up with a big one-piece swimsuit or near pant length board shorts will not do.  After you’ve lost some weight, take pictures again after eating wildly for a day. In the Las Vegas area we have numerous buffets willing to take your facilitate this test.  Find the two pictures that match up with the same weight. You’ll notice that you will look fatter in your latter pictures, even if your true weight ls lower.

The Tank is on E: Carb Depletion
Paleo or ketogenic style diets usually cite the rapid loss of weight at the very start, as well as the rapid influx of weight when they cease their low-carb diet. This isn’t due to some magical powers from copying the diet of pre-historic man. Rather, this is due to the rapid purging and subsequent replenishment of glycogen.  

Clients will also often gain lean mass and/or increased glycogen capacity during a diet, especially with a mild deficit. For that reason, scale weight may remain the same even if fat loss is occurring.

It’s a story…

The scale provides a “word”, in this case the word happens to be a number.  A single word never tells the whole story. Words need to be strung together to form sentences, which in turn form paragraphs.  Put enough paragraphs together and you have your story.

Waist circumference.   Waist measurements are far more useful at determining overall direction of fat loss. The most comprehensive method is to take measurements at the navel, two inches above, and two inches below.  Compare with last measurements to see if circumference decreases, stays the same, or increases respectively. Add the sum of the three measurements to determine overall direction that fat loss/gain is occurring.  Short course goal is to get female clients to a waistline below 35 inches (below 32 if Asian) and males below 40 inches (38 if Asian.)

Strength.  A baseline series of tests must be conducted in order to assess strength.  The tests need not be complicated nor should the exercise programming revolve around the exact techniques in the test.  If strength is measurably increasing, then you are likely increasing your weight from lean body mass as well.  My favorite tests: Air Squats, Push-Ups, Pull-Ups/Chin-Ups and an Abdominal Exercise.  As many repetitions the athlete can perform in 2 minutes each with standardized break period in between tests.

If I were to program 100% around those exact exercises then there is the distinct possibility that the athlete would biologically adapt to getting better at taking the test and only get as strong as they would need to be.

Bloat.  Bloat means variance is going to happen with your measurements. This will vary from person to person, but it will be areas that seem to swell up after a binge. 

As the trainer, or at home you want to read “true” weight? as much as possible.   You should not interpret measurements when bloat is high. Wait for it to subside (especially if it’s caused by a menstrual cycle) and eat clean for a few days (if you hit up a couple of your favorite buffets.)

or do it,be mad at the scale, see me and we’ll talk about some sprinting and barbell love.

My Mentors and Influences

I’ve spent the last few days considering all the people that have helped shaped who I am, and how I perform as a coach.  From several individuals I drew technical skills, from others communication skills and others formed the basis of my leadership. Today I would like to pay tribute and share my major mentors and influences.


(Right) Mark Devine providing group training at the SEALFIT Academy. I can guess with a fair degree of accuracy the attendees are either going to lift something heavy overhead as a team or get cold and wet as a team.  Even if I’m wrong, they will work as a team to accomplish their tasks and challenges.

Mark Devine, CDR USN (Ret) Founder & CEO of SEALFIT and, Creator of Unbeatable Mind

Mark Divine is from upstate New York with a degree in economics from Colgate University and an MBA in Finance from New York University Stern School of Business. Mark’s first career was with Coopers & Lybrand (now PriceWaterhouse Coopers) as a Certified Public Accountant.

Four years after joining Coopers, Mark left behind the corporate world to pursue his vision to become an elite Navy SEAL officer. At 26 he graduated as honor-man of his SEAL BUD/s class 170 and served nine years on active duty and eleven as a reserve SEAL, retiring as Commander in 2011.

In 2006 he launched US Tactical, a government contracting business set up for a nationwide mentoring program for SEAL trainees.  This program was credited with increasing the quality of Navy SEAL candidates and reducing the attrition rate at BUD/s by up to 5% and was the inspiration for SEALFIT.

Mark was an adjunct professor of leadership at the University of San Diego, where he left a PHd program due to the Iraq war Reserve call up. In Baghdad with the SEALs again in 2004, he conducted a special study for the Department of Defense on the role of the USMC in the Special Operations Community. Upon return home he decided to focus fully on his business and family.

Mark is an accomplished martial artist with multiple black belts and is teacher trained in Ashtanga Yoga. He created the innovative Unbeatable Warrior Yoga program taught to his students.

After working with thousands of special ops candidates and professionals developing mental toughness, Mark self-published his first book “Unbeatable Mind” in 2011 and launched the at-home study program He is also the author of The Way of the SEAL published by Readers Digest and 8 Weeks to SEALFIT published by St. Martins Press.

SEALFIT is uniquely effective at developing elite level physical fitness and mental toughness. The program has helped thousands to operate at an entirely new level in their personal and professional lives, and is used by military, first responders and sheepdog-like professionals of all stripes worldwide.

Mark is a highly sought after speaker for corporations where his Unbeatable Mind program is helping to forge mental toughness among business leaders. He lives in Encinitas, CA., several blocks from the SEALFIT Training Center, the 20,000 square foot facility where he enjoys training with his family and team.

Mark Devine and the SEALFIT program instill the warrior spirit and a unique mindset to training,performance and life.  The SEALFIT program is unique among all others in the fact that although the training is ideally suited for Special Operations candidates and adventure athletes anyone can apply.  It is through Marks’s teachings where I adopted my belief that we are all capable of twenty-times what we think we area capable of.  The truth of this is proven to me with every progression in my athletes.


(Right) Mark RIppetoe, one of the two most quotable strong people I know of discusses the mechanics of the barbell squat.

 Mark Rippetoe- Owner of Witchita Falls Athletic Club and published author.

Mark Rippetoe is the author of Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, Practical Programming for Strength Training, Strong Enough?, Mean Ol’ Mr. Gravity, and numerous journal, magazine and internet articles. He has worked in the fitness industry since 1978, and has been the owner of the Wichita Falls Athletic Club since 1984.

He graduated from Midwestern State University in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science in geology and a minor in anthropology. He was in the first group certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association as a CSCS in 1985, and the first to formally relinquish that credential in 2009.

Rip was a competitive powerlifter for ten years, and has coached many lifters and athletes, and many thousands of people interested in improving their strength and performance. He conducts seminars on this method of barbell training around the country. and

Mark’s coaching and communication skills in instructing the basic barbell lifts have served as the basis on mine for some time now and the simplicity of the Starting Strength program has yielded exceptional results across the board.  I still read his books and watch his videos to get little nuggets of information that I somehow missed before.  The man is an outstanding balance of education and entertainment and I highly recommend any of this books.


Martin Rooney, the other most quotable strong person I know and my current mentor.

Martin Rooney, MHS,PT,CSCS – Founder and CEO of Training for Warriors

Martin Rooney is an internationally recognized business leadership expert, fitness and martial arts author, and dynamic presenter. Martin has his Master of Health Science and Bachelor of Physical Therapy degrees from the Medical University of South Carolina and also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Exercise Science from Furman University.

Martin’s inspiring and educational messages have allowed him to deliver highly acclaimed presentations to Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams like the New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, and New York Giants; and numerous universities.  Martin has also lectured for the American College of Sports Medicine, the College Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the UK Strength and Conditioning Association, and the Finnish Coaches Association.  He has traveled worldwide to train, compete, and conduct seminars and help world-class athletes prepare for competition.

Martin’s training system has been used with numerous UFC fighters, Jiu Jitsu World Champions, US National Judo Champions, and Collegiate Wrestling All-Americans in addition the speed and conditioning consultant to athletes from the NFL, MLB, NBA, WNBA, and numerous top Division I colleges across the country, numerous Olympians, including one gold medalist, four silver medalists, and one US Olympic Trials champion.

Once a champion Division I track and field athlete and member of the United States Bobsled team, Martin is currently a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has a black belt in Kodokan Judo.

Martin’s work and books have been featured on ESPN, ESPN2, Spike TV, Sports New York, Fox Sports Net, Fox Fight Game, the NFL Network, HDnet,,, and in the New York TimesMen’s HealthMen’s FitnessMen’s JournalThe Sporting NewsStackFight Sport,Fighters OnlyGrappling, and Sports Illustrated for Kids. He has been commissioned by Nike to run speed testing camps at a number of major universities.

Martin was a practicing Physical Therapist who decided to drop a lucrative career and pursue his dreams. His efforts and belief in himself led to his numerous successes in life and his coaching methods truly speak to me.  The philosophy and methods of the Training for Warriors coaching program go to great lengths to produce exceptional coaches and citizens of life.


Dan John has a love of loaded carries and always seems able to make the seemingly complex simple, and the simple even simpler.

Dan John, Master SFG and author.

Dan John has been teaching and coaching for well over thirty years. He has taught theology, history, economics and weight training in the classroom and has coached track and field and football. He continues as a full-time on-line religious studies instructor for Columbia College of Missouri and contributing writer to Men’s Health, t-nation and Hardstyle Magazines. Originally from South San Francisco, Dan came to Utah to throw the discus for Utah State University and recently returned “home” after 35 years away. He currently lives in Burlingame, California.

Dan has Masters degrees in history and in religious education, as well as intensive work at the American University in Cairo, University of Haifa, and Cornell. Dan has written articles for Catechetical Update and Utah Historical Quarterly, as well as being a columnist for the Intermountain Catholic. Dan was also a Fulbright Scholar in 1985.

At home, he is humbled by his lovely wife, Tiffini, whose middle name is not “long suffering” no matter how often it is repeated, and his two daughters, Kelly and Lindsay.

In his athletic career, among many other championships and records, Dan has won the Master Pleasanton Highland Games twice, American Masters Discus Championships several times, the National Masters Weightlifitng Championship once and holds the American Record in the Weight Pentathlon.

Dan is quite possibly the most diverse coach on this page.  His wide-range of academics, knowledge and expertise astounds me and his interviews and articles always prove insightful.  The greatest benefit to me is his coaching philosophy, ability to simplify physical tasks and his breakdowns of movement patterns.  I don’t drink, and I don’t know if he does either, but he strikes me as the type of guy I would like to grab a beer with.


Pavel re-introduced kettlebell training to America.

Pavel Tsataouline – Master of Sports, StrongFirst

Pavel Tsatsouline is a former Soviet Special Forces physical training instructor who has been called “the modern king of kettlebells” for starting the Russian kettlebell revolution in the West.

In 1998 Pavel introduced the ancient Russian strength and conditioning tool to the American public in his subversive article, Vodka, Pickle Juice, Kettlebell Lifting, and Other Russian Pastimes. The article was published by MILO, a magazine for tough hombres who bend steel and lift rocks. When Pavel started getting mail from guys with busted noses, cauliflower ears, scars, or at least Hell’s Angels tattoos his publisher took notice.

Pavel is a subject matter expert to the US Marine Corps, the US Secret Service, and the US Navy SEALs. A kettlebell in his fist, he was voted the ‘Hot Trainer’ by Rolling Stone and appeared in media ranging from Pravdato Fox News. Dr. Randall Strossen, one of the most respected names in the strength world, stated, “In our eyes, Pavel Tsatsouline will always reign as the modern king of kettlebells since it was he who popularized them to the point where you could almost found a country filled with his converts…”

Pavel’s approach to training and philosophy on strength match my own and one of his weapons of choice is the kettlebell.  Lesser known are his skills in barbell, flexibility and mobility work.  One of my goals is to certify as Kettlebell Coach under his banner.


Hirokazu Kanazawa, Martial Arts Legend and one of my former instructors. A truly exceptional man that has perhaps the coolest signature EVER.


He blends his signature with a drawing of Mt. Fuji…it’s THAT cool.

 Hirokazu Kanazawa-Headmaster, Shotokan Karate-Do International Federation 10th Dan.

Kanazawa Soke (10th Degre Black Belt) is one of the world most renowned and respected traditional karate masters of all time.  He is the first karateka to have won the notorious All Japan karate Championship. He was the 1957 fighting champion while nursing a broken wrist and the 1958 fighting and forms champion.

Although trained in Judo in his early years, Kanazawa Soke took up karate whilst at University under the late headmaster of the Japan Karate Association Shotokan, Sensei Matsatoshi Nakayama. Kanazawa Soke is also one of the few remaining Karate-ka privileged to have studied under Master Gichin Funakoshi, the famous Okinawan schoolteacher who brought karate to mainland Japan from Okinawa and founded the Shotokan style.

In 1978, Kanazawa Soke set up SKIF (Shotokan Karate-Do International Federation). SKIF is now the worlds largest Shotokan Karate Association under one chief instructor, having several million members in over 130 countries.

At age 5, my father walked me into my first Karate dojo.  Three years later I had heard of Master Kanazawa who was already a legend martial artist and had established his own organization. I can clearly recall first seeing him in action when I was 12 years old.  Over twenty years later I had the fortune of training directly under him while living in Japan and even serving as an instructor in his Dojo, as well as training under his first generation of American students while living in Hawaii.Carrying on my families tradition of Martial Arts trainining, my son Christian also trained under Master Kanazawa. Despite being in his 80’s, Master Kanazawa moves with great precision and power and his influence on Karate will be carried on for many generations to come. His ability to connect with people from around the world and serve as an ambassador of Karate truly benefited me in life.


A photo of Master Powell from the early 1970’s, around the time when I first saw action footage of him.

Dr. Moses Powell (RIP), Martial Arts pioneer and legend, Founder and Headmaster of Sanuces Ryu Jiu Jitsu

Dr. Moses Powell was a Martial Arts  legend with more than 47 years of consummate study in the fighting arts. His experience and achievements are countless and his name is world-renowned.

In 1965, Dr. Powell was the featured martial arts demonstrator at the New York World’s Fair. The following year in 1966, he was the first martial artist to receive The African Benign Arts Award. Between 1967 and 1968, Dr. Powell pioneered his craft by traveling overseas to the Caribbean. There, he introduced Sanuces Ryu Jiu Jitsu to the island of Jamaica and Trinidad and to Bermuda in the early 1970’s. Dr. Powell was inducted into the International African Arts Festival’s “Living Legend” Award, and was the first African-American to teach the fighting arts to law enforcement agencies around the world.

In January of 2003, Dr. Powell said, “I have been called the Pioneer, the Missionary, and the Lumberjack of Martial Arts. When I think about it, I’d like to be remembered as the man I am…Moses Powell. It’s not about making yourself anything; but it is about earning your rewards as you go along. Remember, there is no such think as a book master, you have to fight in the trenches or on the mat…I want young people to realize that there is a history to look up to, and a path of greatness to follow and further pave.”


Dr.Powell in his later years.  I believe you can see the wisdom and kindness in his face.

(I’m not just saying that because I too am bald and sometimes where glasses.)

Dr. Moses Powell was born on January 13, 1941 in Norfolk, Virginia to Athenia and Moses Powell, and passed away on January 22, 2005 due to respiratory failure.

“To list all of his accomplishments, honors and awards would be impossible. To say he made a difference would be an understatement. He was a man chosen to be great. What he made of that greatness is what truly separated him from other men. He gave over 50 years of his life to Martial Arts. It was his love and his life and most of all it was what he believed in and trusted. He was a natural teacher. A “let me show you” kind of man. And when he showed you, you knew you had experienced something powerful enough to change lives.”

The first footage I ever saw of Dr. Powell:

Dr Powell in his later years:

Master Powell is unique among most of the men on this page as I never studied under him.  His influence on me originally occurred in the mid-late 1970’s after I saw footage of this very large, well spoken man fly through the air gracefully and move at a speed usually seen in much smaller people.  As he aged, Master Powell was still fluid in his motion, yet evolved his techniques to a more economical use of effort where it didn’t seem that he used his substantial size to his advantage, but instead his to control the space around him.


                   Neither Charles or Steve were authors or industry movers in the worlds of strength training, but both were men that moved others on to great things and served their country with honor and distinction.  Those who knew these two American Heroes are better for having known them.

Senior Chief Petty Officers Charles “C.C” Hubbard and Steve Carlson (USN-RIP)

Both Charles and Steve were highly influential mentors in the early years of my military career and planted the seeds of leadership and management in me that continue to grow.  I, like many others before me am indebted to these two men who served their country with great honor and who’s lives were taken from us far too soon.

I know you guys up there watching out for me, and you are both greatly missed.


Fire that Trainer!


Las Vegas isn’t quite the big city it is made out to be but is home to high number of gyms relative its size.  Between my home and gym there are at least 12 gyms that I am aware of, including 3 nationally franchised gyms.  (Note: Yoga/Pilates studios were not counted, if they were the number would easily double.)


“Chris…word on the street say’s Globo-gym is getting a shipment of 2015 Hip Abductor machines…the turbo editions!”

 One of the advantages (and sometimes a disadvantage) this proximity gives is the ability to network with other trainers.  Aside from the social aspect it provides insights into the gyms culture, the clientele base and the trainer hiring criteria.

It’s like having spies everywhere.


…Unfortunately, having eyes everywhere usually seems to only highlight the negatives.  Usually this involves either the wages paid or the quality of the trainers hired by the gym.  When the two factors are put together it becomes quite evident when a gym values sales skills over anything else and when the gym looks to recruit and retain higher quality  talent instead of cheap easily replaced laborers.


I highly recommend this book for Personal Training development.

 As a condition of my hiring as an in-house trainer (I.E. not receiving any money or clients from the gym) by my gym I had to provide my resume’, a cover letter, copies of all certifications and credentials in good standing, proof of liability insurance and current CPR/AED certification.  It helped that the gym owner recognized me from my days as a commercial gym trainer and that another in-house trainer on staff could personally vouch for me.

My gym owners are quite serious about owning a top-quality gym and staffing it with some of the most in demand trainers in the Las Vegas area.

Despite my role as an independent trainer, I consider my service and professionalism as a reflection of my employer.  The owners take their job quite seriously as do I.  I believe this line of thinking is lost on some trainers, especially in such an entitlement minded society. I further believe the concept is totally lost on the greedy and lazy.

Fire that Trainer!…The Movie

In the case of both commercial and independent trainers, I have, on far too many occasions witnessed trainers that wouldn’t remain hired by a gym with performance standards. Somehow these individuals are making their way through life as a trainer with only a minimal effort…at their clients’ financial expense and risk of getting hurt.  It’s purely my opinion, but these trainers will never evolve unless they decide to make a change and reach their higher potential.

In numerous past blogs I have provided some of the warning signs when determining if your trainer sucks, well, now I’m providing visuals.


The trainer is the guy in the red shirt.

What is not posted is the video of the trainer working in extension bench sets with the client.  The trainer is getting in his own workout DURING the clients’ paid for time.  (1) The trainer is on his mobile phone while supposedly training/neglecting with client.  (2) At no time does the trainer appear to be paying attention to, or correcting the clients form.  (3) This trainer sucks and needs to be fired.   Personally, I would fire the person that hired him in the first place and then fire the trainer.

If the trainer is certified, which has a 50% chance at best, then his credential should be revoked simply due to being a jacka$$..

The video and photos were taken  by a member of the gym, not a trainer.  This tells me a few things…

1.  This sorry excuse for a trainer blatantly pulled this stunt in full view of the entire gym without concern.  He probably never considered the fact that others might see this, or did and plainly doesn’t care.

2.  The trainers’ behavior was obvious enough to cause a person to halt their workout and record it, which in turn means this either happened previously, or went on long enough to create attention. Neither situation is a good thing.

3.  If one person saw it, others saw it. In any gym, people watch people and people talk to each other.

4.  Since this is a staff trainer, his actions reflect poorly on his employer and the rest of the gym trainers.

5. I believe the trainer doesn’t give a crap and views the client as an ATM with legs

6.  The gym will hire substandard trainers since they are a cheaper source of easily replaced labor; allow substandard/unsafe training to occur and probably charge a premium for personal training services.

7.  Management is not keeping their eyes on the trainers.

I could further speculate…

8.  The trainer possibly doesn’t know this isn’t professionally acceptable behavior.

9.  The trainer may claim he cares about his clients, but his actions clearly do not support this.  The trainer may claim he is working in to “motivate the client” but to that I call BS.

10.  Deep down the client knows this isn’t right.  Until he speaks up this will continue.