I will tell you about my new love affair! If there’s one awesome thing about the weather turning colder, its that it’s the time of year to cook up some delicious roasts. If done in an oven, this can be tough as you have to set aside time to ensure that your house doesn’t get engulfed by flames. This doesn’t work for most people – myself included – especially mid-week! Sooooooooooooo………..

Enter the slow-cooker!!

A cure for your meal prep woes

This thing has been awesome! In the last week I’ve made both an Angus beef roast and a pork shoulder roast (pulled pork anyone?) I usually throw in the basics: celery, carrots, and onion. Add some spice to the meat, and then throw in a carb – be it potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc. (Nothing fancy for now, the experimentation will come later.) Set for around 8 hours, come home from work, and viola! lunch/dinner for the next 2-3 days.

Just be forewarned, carrying around a huge Tupperware gets comments (and not always the “you’re a bad-ass” comments), but get solace from the fact that you have your meal prep covered while others reach for powerbars or other less satisfying and nutritious fare.

Last note, clean-up can be even easier with these bad-boys:

That’s right, throw all your grub into the liner and after it’s all cooked, remove said grub to the Tupperware. Step 3: Just throw the liner in the trash with some authority! A quick wipe of the slow-cooker if you’re channeling your inner Mr. Clean, and clean up is done – ‘cuz no one wants to scrub at 10 at night nor 6 the next morning. Just callin’ it like it is.


Being that one of my jobs is in a commercial gym, I often see things that make me shake my head. For example, once I witnessed the assisted chinup machine with about half the weight stack loaded up, being used by a member wearing a weight vest….true. story.

Oh yeah, classic Dubya!

Anyways, there are also a number of positive things which fortunately give me more hope in humanity.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve gotten introduced to and had some brief discussions with a couple of regular members. Here’s the inspirational part: one is 87 and one is 95. The 95 came up to me and we started talking about how they have to update the target heart rate zone charts* to include his age.

Are their workouts perfect? No, but that doesn’t make it any less inspirational to see these guys in the gym regularly at their age. I can only hope I’m still that fit at 95!

Happy Friday everyone! Chris out.

*Don’t get me started




So here’s a quick glimpse into my training right now. With my schedule filling up between the 2 (now 3 jobs), its doesn’t leave much time to train, nor much mental energy after a full day of training (when I wasn’t as busy I was training anywhere around 9-11 at night).


Foam roll, stretch, activation, dynamic warmup, (core training is fitting its way in here for the sole reason that after the complex at the end, I don’t feel like doing sh*t!)


Med Ball throw variation (done solo with no other pairing)

Strength superset: lower than upper (lower tends to be unilateral b/c of my history of back pain, and the upper body right now is 2 days of dumbbell bench and one day low rep chinups)


Metabolic complex: 2-3 times through (Day 1: BB complex, Day 2: Bilateral DB Complex, Day 3: Unilateral DB Complex)

5-6 exercises same weight, no rest:

explosive (hang clean, snatch, or swing)

upper push

lower (bilateral or unilateral depending on day)


upper pull/arms

lower (unilateral)

My total training time is around 45 mins-1 hr per session — basically a “hit em hard, go home” style.

This was one of the newer aspects of programming in Coach Boyle’s Functional Strength Coach 3, and I liked the substance for sure, but the logistics of circuits with personal training clients didn’t sit well with me. Being that I’ve been doing mostly in-home personal training for the past 10 or 11 months, the time required for set up, explanations/demonstrations of each of 10 stations, as well as correcting form on the fly with more than one client usually – this just seemed to be one of those great ideas, but not for my situation.

But I am re-visiting the idea. Here’s why:

Since I picked up the job training at one of the Y’s in the city, I have access to an actual gym, which means space. I don’t have to worry about taking up half a condo gym just for a circuit in this case.

One of my clients also mentioned that they wanted less time warming up so that I could stretch her out at the end (…another post…). The key is I had to find a way to shorten the warm-up while not negatively effecting the quality of it. This is a biggie. As a slight tangent, I know sometimes I do not think enough about redundancy in the warm-up so this was another reminder for me about spending some time re-visiting these.

Here’s another big thing that experience seems to remind me about: I don’t have to follow Coach Boyle’s circuit method only “as is”. Speaking respectfully, he is using something that works for him. He doesn’t know about my situation, so it’s my job as a professional and customer to take the big picture of what he’s saying and make it applicable to my situation. The modification I’ve been thinking and tinkering with have been shorter circuits.

Now I have to just figure out how to do isometric holds the way I would like them do within a given time constraint.

A couple more things I may need to look at:

  • A Gymboss or Workout Muse-type time management system – I hate that I always lose track of time because I’m too busy being a coach to my clients. Its surely my fault for not getting one of these systems sooner.
  • I should really look at getting a flipcam.  I’d enjoy making video posts more while also being able to show what I do versus just writing about it. Bret Contreras’s blog post today reminded me of this.

Lately more and more people have been chiming on training breathing — which is great! As a young trainer, I really enjoy and value all the differing perspectives on this topic as it helps me sift through the information and get an idea of what the experts are doing with it. That said, it is an area I want to read more about myself to better understand why it is becoming an area of focus for trainers.

My favourite point I’ve heard so far is Charlie Weingroff’s stance on training reflexive stability of the core. Though it wasn’t specifically about breathing, he made a wonderful distinction between corrective exercise for the core and conditioning the core.

This painted a very clear picture for me — along with the all-to-common “its so common sense, how didn’t I think of that?!”

Let me state that prior to hearing this, I was very skeptical about the practical application of the proper breathing information. I was not keen on using 5 minutes of my time to have a client lay on their back and breathe…just breathe. I also just felt that something like that is out of my scope — I thought that breaking it down this much was for a rehab professional.

But Charlie’s thoughts were perfectly succinct. I realized I had been training core stability with a high threshold strategy — which excludes the element of timing which is so central to spinal stability. I realized this wasn’t necessarily right nor wrong, just that depending on the client’s level of “fitness” and the exercise, I had to train more than just a single stabilizing strategy. Then the realization that training breathing while training a simple core demand hit me. So simple.

This includes things like planks, side planks, anti-rotation presses, chops, lifts, etc. When we get to the big stuff like bench pressing, split squats or any other “conditioning” exercise, that is where the high threshold strategy stuff has gone — basically the whole bracing approach. I’ll admit though that even this is very grey (gray?) to me as over-bracing isn’t optimal either.

A couple things I want to pass on today:

I’ve been reading Eric’s stuff ever since I caught the “personal training”/”info junkie” bug about half way through my personal training course at the YMCA in 2006. Because of his knowledge and having achieved so much at a young age, I’ve always viewed him as a mentor in that respect.

Anyways last week, Eric let the cat of the bag on his new product (Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better) which will be released on September 21st. Yesterday he released the first video clip from his product. Its 7 minutes of info most everyone could use prior to a squatting session. There are also some variations I haven’t seen of the drills, so it got my mind working too – my clients always enjoy me talking like this….

Without further ado, check it out HERE!!

Also, take a look at this blog post from Tony Gentilcore who coincidentally enough, is one of the other big dogs at Cressey Performance. He discussed the difference in swing technique – a “hip snap” swing vs. a “squat” swing.

In all honesty, this was a mistake I was making with it until I returned from Providence, and since then I’ve had to re-visit the pattern with my clients to clean it up. It has also lead to some adjustment in my progressions and how I train a proper hip hinge pattern, which to me is a big positive. Also, one of my clients mentioned this last night, so I think it bears repeating – For the guys out there, do NOT be afraid of hitting your “special area” with the dumbbell! Think more of the wrist being drawn down to that area.

That’s it for today! Check out those links and Tony’s special blend of information and entertainment on his blog!

Closed chain leg curls have been largely seen as an advancement from the machine based open chain version (lying, seating, standing). The reason being that in activities of daily living and/or athletic performance, the hamstrings concurrently perform both knee flexion and hip extension. The machines on the other hand only train the knee flexion component (although an argument could be made for the standing version, but I don’t think it’s a superior option in any sense).

So equipment pieces like stability balls and Valslides have become popular to train this movement.

I think Valslides and slideboards are the gold standard for the performance of this exercise based on the demand they place on the involved tissues, but not everyone has access to them.

Stability balls just by keeping the body higher in the air are often easier yet also more practical for the majority of gym goers – especially in commercial type settings. But even with a simple stability ball, modifications often have to be made to those just getting into functional training (and away from the bodybuilding-inspired approaches).

We can do eccentrics just like with the Valslides and slideboard. Just get the hips up, and slowly roll the ball out for 5 seconds, then drop the hips to the floor and bring the ball back to the butt. If this is too tough try 3 seconds…or just do hip extensions on the ball. Better yet in this case, master hip extensions off the ball first.

Doing the whole movement with the hips low is essentially demonstrates a lack of hip extension strength, and thus the effectiveness of the exercise is lost. Often these regressions just aren’t common sense and/or they are assumed to be “too easy/sissy”, but your body will always tell you where your current level of functional fitness is, and its our job to pay attention to it rather than dismiss it in denial.

Anyways, I write this because there was a young woman at the gym performing these who needed to begin with a modified variation of the stability ball version. It was extremely refreshing to see someone utilize smart training methods in that setting, and she had a great attitude when I offered up the tip. Maybe there is some hope after all.

Here’s a visual representation of the “start” position:

Not like this.

Like this.