Tag Archives: Personal Development

Get Up and Give Back (AKA Chris has revelations while lifting stuff)

“I do not think there is any danger of a crack up, and the reason is that he is a thoroughly well-organized individual with no energy leaks in his make-up.  He operates a well-regulated machine. He handles things with easy power and carries burdens without strain.  He never wastes an ounce of energy, but every effort is applied with maximum force.”                                                                                 Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking.   

I practice hardstyle kettlebell techniques near daily, and have increased the depth,load and volume over the past two months in preparation for my November StrongFirst certification. The other day I had a particularly demanding practice involving 100 Single Handed Swings followed by 10 Turkish Get Up using a 24kg (53lb) Kettlebell for timed practice.  It was the first time I have attempted this  and figured I would set a baseline as the time standards are not easy.  The 100 swings must be completed in 5 minutes or less, you are given a 1 minute break and then need to perform 10 perfect Turkish Get Ups in under 10 minutes.

I smashed both requirements on my first attempt.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     The Turkish Get Up holds a special place for me as it was the first kettlebell technique that I taught myself to a fair degree of competency, and I feel it is the technique that sings to me the most. This is not say my Get Up is perfect, far from it actually. Recently two small corrections were given to me by a StrongFirst Level 2 Coach in the Philippines that instantly improved things.

When I receive tips,corrections and suggestions they are immediately copied down and applied in the next practice session including the name of the issuing coach. I treat my training logs more as journals as I ask questions, draw pictures or jot down drills, questions and ideas that come up. This level of detail takes time, but I feel it is an investment both in myself as a coach and a valued part of my practice.

TGU Blog Pic

My practice journals are pretty detailed and chock full of questions,insights and corrections,drills and advice from coaches around the world.

I am currently training the single hand swings  and Turkish Get Up with a 28kg kettlebell. While two hand swinging the 28kg are not hard for me, the single hand swing is an entirely different animal. Since today’s practice was short I trained a version of the swing which requires re-setting the kettlebell between each swing, thereby requiring maximum power generation on each swing. This becomes quite taxing on the body and requiresfocus on each repetition since momentum has been taken out of the technique. It was not that long ago in the Turkish Get Up that I had problems stabilizing the weight overhead and making the transitions from point to point. Today I worked the first half the movement sequence and by the time I had completed my 10th repetition felt confident enough to perform the movements at a much slower pace. Moving slowly is challenging, but allows you to explore the technique and locate any leaks.

The process of perfection is arduous and never ending, and I am far from where I can ascend.  My journey is one that I hope to share with others.


Things Learned

A bonus in developing a private forum for fitness professionals is having the opportunity to learn something new every day.  Since the groups inception two weeks ago this has been the case  and I am always on the lookout daily for new people to bring aboard.  The sudden influx of ideas, opinions and experiences has caused me to re-examine a few of my thoughts to various degrees and I am thankful for this.  Some trainers confine themselves to a single way of doing or looking at things, I myself try to be more open minded about things.

My practice in training continually evolves based on (a) the needs of my clients (b) where I see potential or (c) purely out of self interest.  At one point things leaned towards medical based exercise and special populations training, now I find the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction and I am more inclined towards long-term athletic development. I believe both paths are worthy and in time the pendulum will swing again.


I view my continual education in terms of greatest value added.  I don’t consider what it will cost me, rather I consider what value will this bring and how can I apply it to the widest swath of humanity. Presently Kettlebell and mobility training, coupled with my other tools fits many bills quite well.  This is part of the reason why I am presently training for StrongFirst Kettlebell certification (SFG.)  I have seen far too many people simply guess their way through kettlebell movement and do not wish to add to their numbers.

Kettlebells as part of a mobility program has helped with the post-rehab conditioning of a CrossFit athlete.  Kettlebells, Mobility and Sandbags have helped an 55+ client that is intimidated by barbells and dumbbells perform resistance training and build muscle.  High Rep heavy swings are being used as part of a cardio strength training program to help a client drop another dress size.


Now that I am working more with athletic populations, certification under USA Weightlifting (USAW) is also something that I am considering and would add another set of coaching skills to my toolbox. This however is far more limited in practical application and requires that I work in a facility set up for Olympic weightlifting.

Beginners Mind



The idea of an official practice uniform in Japanese Martial Arts is a fairly recent innovation.  The belts were simply something to keep the top closed during practice and they were all white, or at least whiteish.  As a story goes, over time the sweat and blood of the martial artist would stain and therefore darken the belt.

The most dangerous guys in the training hall would be the guys with the darkest belts.

.After even more time, the material would start to wear away, revealing the whiter underside of the belt and renewing the process.

The belt in photograph above is mine. I have been a black belt since 1982.  I was a former national champion in my sport and taught instructor courses in the United States and abroad.  As a Strength and Performance coach I am often tapped by other professionals for help across all sorts of client issues.

Last week I decided it was time to become a white belt again.

I have hired my own kettlebell coach from the StrongFirst school of strength.  My kettlebell techniques according to my teacher are not bad, but can certainly be improved.  I know that through her I further develop as a person and coach.

There is great joy in allowing yourself to have a beginners mind.

Warrior 20 Food List

In yesterday’s blog post I gave the formula for losing weight, getting strong and feeling great. You can view the original blog here:


My fellow trainer and friend Liz from LizTrainerLife.wordpress.com requested I share the food list.

The Warrior 20 are foods that help make your diet simpler by limiting you to some of the most nutritious foods. It should serve as no surprise that potato chips and soda did not make the list.

Protein: Whole Eggs, Lean Meats, Poultry & Game, Fatty Fish, Fermented Soy

Legumes: Beans and Lentils.

Fruits & Vegetables: Tomatoes, Spinach, Cruciferous vegetables(broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts), Avocados, Citrus (grapefruit, oranges), Berries.

Starches: Sweet Potatoes/yams, Quinoa, Amaranth.

Good Fats: Nuts (& nut butters), Seeds (Flax, hemp, chia), olive oil.

Liquids: Water, Green Tea.

These foods combined with a sensible training plan will help you build muscle, get and reduce your risks of dietary related illness.

Lose Weight, Get Strong, Feel Great

I am presently taking the Training for Warriors Level 2 certification course and enjoying it greatly. I highly recommend trainers check out Martin Rooney and the Training for Warriors system.

One of the early lectures I sat through listed the TFW formula for success in helping people lose weight,get stronger and simply feel better. I’ve decided to share it with the masses since many of my readers do not have trainers/coaches or are trainers themselves and could bring this formula into their own training sessions.

The formula
4D x 4E
2 ST + 2 SP + 12TP
= Results

Formula Breakdown:
4D means training occurs 4 days per week

4E means forever. Weight loss is not an overnight process, it is a long term war and once the desired weight is achieved there is the matter of weight maintenance.

2ST means two days are reserved for strength training, 2 SP means two days are reserved for speed (metabolic) training.

12TP is the twelve guiding principles of effective training.

1. Education
2. Solid Foundation
3. Continuity
4. Periodization
5. Individualization
6. Progressive Overload
7. Specialization
8. Training Economy
9. Variety
10. Recovery
11. Nutrition
12. Safety

WU means warm up. A proper and targeted warm-up is the cornerstone of a successful workout. Metabolic workouts typically require a longer warm up due to their brief, action fueled nature while strength sessions require shorter warm ups.

PP/LC is the strength training split. Day 1 is Push-Pull exercises, Day 2 is Lower body and Core related exercises.

ADSR stands for Acceleration, Deceleration, Stopping and Reacceleration. These elements are particularly seen in speed training, Kettlebell/Olympic lifting and plyometrics.

W20 is the “Warrior 20” food list. A list of 20 high nutrient performance foods that make dieting and food shopping easier.

8hrs is the recommended amount of sleep you get each night.

Steal this Post!

I would love for you to copy, paste and use this blog.

Really, it’s cool.

It would bring a smile to my face if I knew you printed it out and read it everyday.  I wouldn’t be mad if you changed a few things to customize it for yourself, for someone you love or if you’re a fellow trainer and decided to give it to a client.

I’m totally cool with it.

I wouldn’t be mad if you thought “ahh this crap is crap on a crap cracker!”…I will simply out wait you.

Facts: (1) I can remain a happy person longer than you can stay pissed off at the world and (2) I am positive my strength, and the strength I draw from those around me is far greater than your weakness….and I have the comic books to prove it!

But that’s not the point.  The point is I want you to see how awesome you can be, how strong you really are and for you to believe that you are a person of value.  I will extend a very strong hand to help pull you up with all that I have.

physical therapy

Guess what? Mine is not the only hand reaching out for you.

To help you see yourself in that awesome light, I’ve put together a modified daily affirmation which I received from “The Miracle Morning” website.


I have the ability within me to create the life I desire and deserve.


Breathe, Focus, Push….now get there!

 I make the conscious decision that today, and every day is made to be the best day of my life.


Losing a part of their body doesn’t stop them, and nothing ever will.

I believe in my abilities and the limitless potential that lies within us.  I will commit to persistent, continuous action towards the attainment of my goals and dreams.


Crazy as this may sound, this is exactly how I pictured God’s Gym looking.

I believe in the power of visualization and realize that the dominating thoughts of my mind will eventually manifest themselves into my actions, habits and behaviors and gradually transform themselves into physical reality.   I will consciously focus my thoughts daily upon thinking of the person I intend to become, thereby creating in my mind a clear picture of my best self, living my best life.

Ball Walk

I know that strength rules all, and that STRENGTH takes on different forms and meanings.


I will summon from inside the strength needed for one more rep, one more step, one more round and one more “I love you.”   I will not be afraid of weighted plates, dumbbells, sprinting, moving my body through space or expressing myself.

I will not be afraid of discomfort nor will I let discomfort be limiting factor.

I know one of the great truths in life is that my outer world is a reflection of my inner world.  Through the power of daily affirmations and continuing personal development I am programming my mind, body and spirit for success.

That which I persistently hold in my mind will eventually seek expression through some practical means of manifestation.   Therefore I will invest 10 minutes daily to reading, feeling and believing in my affirmations.


One day closer to walking on his own.  I can safely wager this gentleman has played that image in his head many times over.

I have written down, clearly defined and take ownership of my major dreams and goals in life which I will create progress toward on a daily basis and never let go of because I know that I am developing sufficient self-confidence for their attainment by taking positive steps each day.

I fully realize that I can sustain no success without the strong foundation of truth and integrity. I will succeed by attracting to myself the forces I wish to use and the cooperation of other people.  I will inspire, and ask others to help me because of my willingness to help other people.   I will eliminate hatred, envy, jealousy, selfishness and cynicism by developing love for all humanity.

I know that a negative attitude towards others can never bring me success.  I know that life is work, and that work requires effort.


I know that I can have results or excuses, but not both.

My determination towards change is strong.   I will gladly copy and paste this blog to a blank document, print, sign and date it.  I will read it aloud twice daily and use the affirmations to gradually influence my thoughts and actions.


I will become the strong, self-reliant, successful and happy person that I know I can be.


_______________________________                                                             __________________________

Signature                                                                                            Date
Yours in Strength, Chris.

Personal Challenges

With all the free time I’ve had on my hands lately I’ve decided to take on a few personal challenges.


LT. Michael P.Murphy, USN, Medal of Honor Recipient.

1. Complete the Murph WOD Rx’d and non-Rx’d.  I’ve already started the training and working out the partitions that will work best for me. When I get my time under 43 minutes non-Rx’d I’ll be happy.

From CrossFit.com: “Murph  For time: 1 mile Run, 100 Pull-ups, 200 Push-ups, 300 Squats,1 mile Run

Named in memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005. This workout was one of Mike’s favorites and he’d named it “Body Armour”  From here on it will be referred to as “Murph” in honor of the focused warrior and great American who wanted nothing more in life than to serve this great country and the beautiful people who make it what it is.  Partition the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as needed. Start and finish with a mile run. If you’ve got a twenty pound vest or body armor, wear it.


53 lbs of cast iron love about to be swung overhead 100 times in under 5 minutes.

2. Pass either the RKC or StrongFirst Russian Kettlebell credential.  I haven’t decided on which one as of yet.  Both organizations require an initial show of calisthenic strength (push-ups for the RKC,  pull-Ups/chin Ups for StrongFirst) and are highly demanding courses with 25-30% failure rates. Both require 100 kettlebell snatches to be performed in 5 minutes with a kettlebell weighing between 44-53lbs based on my body weight.  There is also the HKC certification, which is an entry level course for trainers and serves as an introduction to the Hardstyle kettlebell lifts.


“Hey!!! Look at the old guy with the fat skateboard and skateboarding cane!”

“Shut up ya’ whipper-snappers!”

3. Teach myself Land Paddling.   I miss surfing and this seems like a reasonable substitute since the Bellagio fountain won’t cut it.


I only took up two spots that time…totally nailed it.

4. Stop parking my car like a total d-bag.  I was actually really good with my old large SUV and am still good with my new mid-sized SUV…but I cannot not park Big Ben like a D-bag to save my life.


Everyone else in Yoga class….


Me in Yoga class..except not as calm looking, bald and in a sweaty and shirtless state. The trainer may have a Yoga background, but those arms were built by iron.

5. Stop getting my a$$ kicked in a Yoga class.  Honestly this is more about the instructor than myself, but I swear I must be doing something to bring this on.   Perhaps it’s trainers karma biting me in the butt during “Happy Baby” posture.


I guess you could say Amazon and I are getting pretty serious.

6. Read a new book every two weeks and improve the variety of books I read.  So far I’ve been doing pretty good on this one and I’ve gone an entire week without reading an article on barbell strength training.   I’ve have however listened to a podcast on the subject.