Exercises You Should Be Doing: Goblet Squat

People often have a very difficult time learning proper squat form.  Their knees shoot forward, hips stay tucked in and their torsos lean forward.  None of these are things you want to have happen  whilst squatting.  Often people lack either the mobility or the stability, or both, to reach any kind of appreciable depth while maintaining proper from.

While verbal cues like, “push your hips back”, “keep your knees over your ankles”, and “chest up” can be helpful, but sometimes a client has a hard time grasping what those cues should feel like.

Enter the Goblet Squat.

I first heard of this movement from Dan John, and I have to say that aside from really liking the movement for myself, I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful in teaching people to squat properly as well as increasing their squat depth.


-Hold a dumbbell or Kettlebell with both hands at chest height, like a drinking goblet

-Imagine sitting back into a chair, pushing your hips back

-Keep your chest up

-From the bottom position, push your knees out and drive up through your heels

-Squeeze your butt tight at the top



Random Friday

Happy Friday everyone.  Here’s another installment of Random Friday:

-If you made New Years Resolutions, are you still sticking to them?  If so, you’re doing better than most people, considering 2-3 weeks is the big drop off point for keeping resolutions.  If you’re not sticking to them, get back at it, quit making excuses, find time for yourself and just do it.

-Tonight my wife and I are going out to celebrate a friends birthday.  The restaurant we are going to seriously has “chicken and waffles” on the menu.  Although I wont be ordering it, I have to say it’s a bit tempting just for the pure novelty of it.

(Yes that is a piece of fried chicken smack-dab on top of a waffle)

-I’m toying around with the idea of doing away with Random Fridays, at least as a regular post.  With my schedule being quite a bit busier, I’m not able to post nearly as often as before and I hate to waste one of my 2-3 weekly posts on my random brain droppings.  I’m thinking it might be better to use that for some good quality content.  If you have any thoughts on that, let me know.

-Girls ignoring the hype of “light weight, lots of reps” and truly getting stronger and leaner will never get old to me:

That was 170lbs folks…

-If you missed my post on Wednesday, “5 Reasons The Biggest Loser Is Bad For The Fitness Industry“, be sure and check it out.

Have a good weekend!


5 Reasons The Biggest Loser Is Bad For The Fitness Industry

Today’s post is a bit longer than usual, but I think it’s worth the read.

I’ll admit, I used to be a huge fan of The Biggest Loser.  I would watch it regularly, and I would even record it if couldn’t watch it when it aired.  Even in my first year or so of training, I would watch the show.  I found it entertaining and liked that people were losing weight and seemingly getting healthier.  However, the more I trained people, the more I read articles from those who are the top minds in the fitness industry and the more I thought logically about it, the less I liked the show.  Below are a few of my biggest issues with it.

1. It gives trainers a bad name

Screaming, yelling, swearing and being mean…these are the things that Bob and Jillian, the trainers on The Biggest Loser, are known for.  I’ve actually had people (who know me well) ask me if I scream at clients, or if I’ll yell and bully them if they train with me.  I’m not a yeller or screamer, in any arena of life really (well maybe at a Justin Bieber concert), but certainly never at a client.  I don’t care how Bob and Jillian treat their clients.  They can do whatever they want.  What I have a problem with is that these two people give all trainers a bad wrap.  The perception is that to be a good trainer you’ve got to do ridiculous things like belittle clients.  And new trainers, who don’t know any different, adopt the same philosophies. I would argue the opposite.  A good trainer knows that good coaching, teaching, and encouragement will go a lot further than screaming or yelling.

2. It creates unrealistic/unhealthy expectations

Unhealthy weight loss can be a dangerous thing.  It is widely accepted that  a couple pounds of weight loss a week is healthy, if someone is really overweight, maybe somewhere along the lines of 5 pounds or so a week initially, but any more than that can be dangerous.  On the show, contestants regularly lose between 10-20 pounds weekly.  This makes for great entertainment, but it’s really frustrating when I have clients coming to me with the expectation that they will lost 40-60 pounds in a month.  I quickly tell them that if that’s what they want, I’m the wrong guy to be training them.  I don’t want any part of the unhealthy behaviors that must be engaged in to meet that kind of weight loss (excessive training, very low calorie consumption, dehydration, etc.).

3. Crappy training

I’ve heard both Bob and Jillian say that they are the best trainers in the world.  I’ll be honest with you, I wouldn’t let either one of them potty train my dog.  I know they’ve helped a lot of people lose tons of weight, and that is a great thing,  but in my humble opinion, they go about it the wrong way…completely.  An overweight person should not be running on a treadmill let alone running a marathon.  Most can’t perform a squat correctly, let alone do a jump squat.  Most overweight clients have incredibly poor stability, so why in the world would you put them on an even more unstable surface like a Bosu Ball to train them.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a contestant with the range of motion to perform a deadlift correctly, yet I see the contestants doing them over and over and over.  Seriously, if you’re the best trainers in the world, you would understand that there are appropriate progressions to everything and if a client can’t perform an exercise with flawless form, they should be regressed to a modified version of that exercise.

4. Extrinsic motivation

I’ve trained a lot of people, and hands down the ones that make lasting changes are the ones that really buy into their health for themselves.  They aren’t making changes for their spouse or for their kids, and certainly not for a big cash prize and 15 minutes of fame.  I really think that part of the reason that so many of the contestants on The Biggest Loser fail to keep their weight off is because, for the length of the show, they are completely extrinsically motivated.  If there were no cameras, no magazine interviews and the sole reward for winning was not feeling like crap anymore and being comfortable walking around in a swimsuit, there might be a much higher success rate after the show ends.

5. Puking and passing out.

One of the features of each episode of The Biggest Loser is the “last chance workout”.  This is the montage of trainees getting yelled at, getting bullied, puking, screaming, crying and almost passing out all in an effort to lose as much possible weight before they weigh-in.  While this makes for great drama on TV, the truth is that this perpetuates the notion that a training session needs to end with a client barely able to move.  I have to spend a great deal of time with some clients trying to convince them that it’s really OK to leave the gym feeling pretty good.  They will work hard and work up a good sweat, and may even want to quit at times, but I don’t want them to feel like they’re going to throw up or pass out.  Some trainers think that getting a client to puke is a good thing, almost a badge of honor.  I think it’s the result of bad programming, crappy training and an insecure trainer who doesn’t understand what a client really needs to be healthier.  I will say their are times when I will really run a client in to the ground, but never to the point that they want to vomit or pass out.  And these cases are rare and are more geared towards increasing mental toughness rather than getting those last few calories burned.

Sure it makes great entertainment, but please please please don’t think that the show speaks for everyone in the fitness industry.  Please don’t think that The Biggest Loser is an accurate picture of what you need to endure to become a healthier individual.  After all, the bottom line of the show is to entertain and make money, and when that’s the goal, quality is always compromised.

What makes a good client?

Happy Monday everyone!

Someone asked me the other day what traits, habits, etc make a good client.  Not being sure what exactly this person meant by “good client”, I asked them to explain a bit more.  What they were wanting to know was what makes a client not only successful, but also fun to work with.  I gave them a brief, off-the-cuff list somewhere along the lines of: someone who is hard working, dedicated and willing to push themselves.  But the more I’ve thought about this, the more in depth my list has become.

On a side note, I think the things that make a successful client are the same things that make a person successful who is training on their own.  Obviously, there are some different elements with the trainer/trainee relationship, but I think the basics are true whether someone is working with a trainer or not.

1. Dedication

I’ve mentioned before that consistency is key to any program.  No program is going to be effective if someone only sticks with it for a week or two.  The clients I have that are the most successful are the ones who show up consistently and don’t cancel for every single reason under the sun.

2. Hard Work

Even if people are consistent with training, they will only get so far if they give it 50% effort.  I ask my clients to give 100% every session.  I realize that some days people might not have as much as other days, which is completely OK.  If 70% of your normal is 100% for a certain day, then that’s what you give.  Maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s pretty easy to tell when someone is slaking.

3. Clear Goals.

Not only is it important for clients to have clear goals in mind, but to keep them in mind as they train.  I realize that in part, there is responsibility on my part to keep these goals in their minds, but when clients keep their goals in mind during sessions, as well as through out their day to day lives, they are much more successful and happy with their progress.

4. Do whatever it takes attitude.

This is huge.  Often people will want to train hard but eat whatever they want.  Or they tell me it’s too hard to keep a food journal or drink enough water.  The bottom line with this is that if you want something bad enough, you will do what you need to to achieve it.  No excuses.

5. Enjoying what you’re doing.

Having fun while you train is incredibly important.  After all, how consistent is someone going to be if they’re showing up for what feels like an hour of misery.  This isn’t to say that every clients is having fun during every exercise (I’m never having fun doing Bulgarian Split Squats) but if the overall experience is something they enjoy and look forward to, they are going to get much more out of each and every session.

Whether you’re working with a trainer or not, making these attitudes and attributes a part of your overall outlook can make you much more successful in the gym.

Random Friday

This is my witty intro to this weeks installment of Random Friday.

A quick reminder that today is the last day of my Holiday/New Year special.  To take advantage of this offer, read here.

Also, feel free to subscribe to this blog by clicking the “Sign me up!” button on the right.  This will put my blog directly into your e-mail inbox.

I woke up this morning, got ready, got in my car and turned on the radio.  As soon as I turned it on, Immigrant Song by Led Zepplin came on.  That was a nice way to start a Friday.

-Some people are a lot like frogs.  That’s all I’ll say for now, but I’ll explain more next week.  (Can you say teaser?)

-Eric Cressey put out two great posts on push-up variations.  Many of which I use with my clients, but also some good ones I’ve never used before.  You can read them here and here.

Have a good weekend!

A Day of Awesome-ness

I don’t know what’s been up with this week, but it’s been pretty awesome.  Maybe it was the fact that on Monday we FINALLY got some sun here after what has felt like weeks without it.  Maybe it was the three day weekend, but whatever it’s been, people have been coming to the gym ready to do some damage.

I have had several clients add very appreciable weight to the bar.  Just about everyone has been crushing their previous weeks weights/reps.  Amongst all of this I had a client set a new PR for her deadlift (165lbs), and another client bust out 5 solid squats at 135 lbs.  (This was a 50 lb jump up from her weight from three weeks ago.)

All of this was very timely for me.  I’ve mentioned that the New Year has brought a ton of new business.  And while the growth has had me very excited, it’s also had me feeling a bit overwhelmed.  The last week or so had felt like a blur.  The last two days have been a good reminder for me as to why I started training in the first place.  Having clients getting stronger, leaner and healthier is what makes this all worth while.  To sum it up, yesterday broke me free of the “overwhelmed” feeling and served as a realignment for me.

I have to say though, that out of all the awesomeness that happened yesterday, one thing in particular stood out.

1 girl.

7 Pull Ups.

The 8th pull up doesn’t count due to the kicking of her legs, but it should be noted that at her CrossFit class the previous day, she had deadlifted heavy singles which really taxes the lats.  My guess is, when rested, she’s got at least another 2 pull ups in her!

So here’s a huge thank you to my clients for reminding me of why I love my job!

The dangers of regular soda consumption

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

I’m letting a picture speak for me today.  Sorry it’s a little blurry.  I did my best to make it clear, but it’s still definitely worth reading.  In case you are unable to read it here is a multiple choice question to lead you in the right direction.


a) eats away at your tooth enamel

b) can cause asthma and eczema

c) has been linked with obesity and heart disease

d) has been linked with kidney issues and diabeties

e) all of the above

HINT: It’s not a,b ,c or d.

I’ll admit that I have a soda once in a while, but it’s a couple a month-tops.  However, the truth of the matter is that a huge percentage of people drink soda on a regular basis.  With every lunch or dinner…or both.  I know people who have several a day.  I also know that teenagers drink soda more than any other beverage.  I hope you take the time to read the above picture.  And I hope you take the information seriously and begin to cut soda out of your regular diet.

Have a good Monday!