33 Years

I’ve spent half of my life now entrenched with this burning bent towards fitness, health, and self actualization.

Who would of thought I would make a living spreading the good word of strength, truth, and all around tenacious living.

I never want to say too much, nor feel like I have much to say.  But I would be remiss if I did not take the basic day of birth to reflect on some noble truths and throw them on digital paper…

If something is of great importance – obsession is the only thing that’ll make you great at it.  You become the best at something by plotting and losing sleep over it.  By hounding it, struggling and toiling it.  There is no coasting when you have a mission.   There is no getting around this if you want to be truly great at anything.
10,000 hours it takes to get “good” at something.  Much more to be great.

You can work for hobbies or your hobby can be your work.  Don’t get mixed up in the “If I’m not living my passion I’m failing”  there’s many ways to continue you to your passion, whether you’re paid for it or not, the important question is whether or not you’re passionate about anything at all.  How you get there can take many forms.

Work is blessing, it’s true whether you want to recognize it or not.  Effort gives life meaning.  Without it people go crazy when they retire – young or old, they get fat or the routine becomes redundant to the point of depression.   If material possessions bought happiness we would see happiness trending upward with the acquisition of material goods.  We don’t see this at all, stop thinking pleasure is in the next purchase.

The more you can tolerate the more power you’ll have in life.  A powerless person is one that blows in the wind of influence, opinions, and external forces.

I use to always want to be respected, but respect is approval and approval is for dogs.  Respect is nice when it’s earned, but it shouldn’t matter whether you have it or not.  It should never be a need.   Remember even ghetto thugs talk about respect right before they steal your shoes.

View products/information/data as a performance enhancer or a performance vacuum.  It’ll help cut out 50% of the wasted decisions we make that don’t add value to our life.

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Become more “Meta” as you get older.  When you start to put greater value upon yourself (via self-improvement and the gym) you also start to value yourself in the larger context of the world, which is your family and tribe/nation.  The value of yourself leads to the value you’ll show others – family, friends, beyond.  This mentality only stems from the belief of your own worth and not based on any sort of hatred for others.

Avoid things that train your mind to be a “observer” in life.  I rail against porn for many reasons, not because it is the worst thing in the world but because it is the largest consumer of mens mind/time/energy.   A behavior like this trains the brain to become the passive partaker of pleasure yet requires nothing from him.  You’re watching the activity you wish you yourself were doing.   This can be true of entertainment in general.   I’m much more a proponent of creating the future you want to have.   If you are a slave to whatever detrimental weakness you should renounce it.

JM

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Winter Season – Yearly Progress

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Winter for just about the average-everyone is known as off season.

Work and dedication is what will separate the have’s from the have nots.  It’s this year ’round dedication that makes it possible to live differently from the crowd and adopt a different lifestyle.

Since I’ve begin training, I’ve always had at least one client that would drive over a hour each way to meet, or for their kid to get the training they need.  The quote “off season” is THE KEY to success.

Why?

75% of others will quit during this time, or minimally be very laxed in their pursuits.

Those who quit or slow down will lose strength, lose muscle, lose speed, lose confidence and lose their ability to recovery from activity, practice, and competition.  I’ve seen it over and over again.

Those who STICK to year round training – even if it’s emphasizing a different training protocol, different focus, split, etc. will continue to make yearly progress.

Think about that:  you stop for a season and for a couple weeks you feel good.  Weeks 3-4 you begin to feel weaker and more flat, lower energy.  Then your psychology starts to be effected with a confidence hit and you avoid looking at yourself in the mirror and begin to distract your self with other work or with entertainment.

A couple months go by and massive progress that seemed like it took forever to gain is lost.

Weeks 5-6 you really start to lose lots of speed and strength.  You being to second guess if you really want to start up again.

Common sense and a warrior mentality need to go hand in hand here.

Your competitions – be it yourself or someone else – is not quitting.  The ones that have “it” aren’t.  Some are content with being part of the crowd, the ones just participating in the activity, and others want to be leading the charge.

Everyone has responsibilities, the yearly schedule of holidays, games, birthdays, etc. is a part of life.  It’s not a reason to sacrifice the important stuff.

1 night out of the week you stay up a extra hour to get that workout in, or you wake up at 4 am two times a week if need be to get it in.

I apply these same methods to my life and work.

It’s why I don’t truly believe in an off time, but I believe in seasonal shifts of focus.  I believe we are built for seasonal changes with the natural rhythms of our bodies and the primordial Truths of Natural Law.

Winter is about strength and size for me.  Spring is a birth of conditioning and agility.  Summer is about leanness and fat loss.  Fall is about serious muscle gain and outdoor activity.   None of this is set in stone, and no particular style of training stops completely just because another one takes priority.

There are some things that will always be apart of my routine, however in certain seasons they will take a different priority level.  I’ll still squat during the fat loss summer season, however it’s different and I’ll be sure to get in more cardio frequency those months, over hitting new PR squat numbers.   The reverse will be true in the winter.

Our food taste changes as well – listen to that.  You may want heavier foods in the winter, warm soups, more dairy, meats, and healthy grains.  However in spring and summer your body may want juices, fruits, dates, and very light vegetable meals.

The Eskimos in Alaska carry buckets up to 50 pounds with their jaws, they eat a 90% fat diet, while the African tribesman will consist of fruits, nuts, and small amounts of animal meat.  The thing these two opposing diets have in common is their locality to their natural climates and the fact neither gets tooth decay or sees a doctor.

Listen to the seasons and don’t stop your training.

I’ll leave you with a strength quote:

“But when you think you’re safe is precisely when you’re most vulnerable.”

Til next time,

JM

Strength and Conditioning Coach

Nutrition Certified

WBFF Physique Athlete

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Your “Why” Can Improve Everything

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Where there is no vision, the people perish…”  –Proverbs

 

When you have a strong why, you can do anything.   When your why is not strong – you will always fade away.

Do you know why you train?

I didn’t know for years.  I thought I trained because I wanted big arms.  I thought I trained to be strong, to look like the superheroes I read about in comic books, to not be picked on in school.

I think at the time, I trained for all those things.

After over a decade of non-stop grinding with the iron.. when I really examined myself deeper, I realized why I train.

I train to be new.

I train because life is hard.  I train because I never want to settle.  I train because there’s always a higher level to achieve.

In this self-exalting culture of laziness and pleasure seeking, I train to be something abnormal.

An aberration.

Over fifteen years ago I picked up a Batman comic and I sat in the car next to my dad – a soft spoken wise man with a calm strength that never came out unless necessary.  I asked him in my kiddish voice, “Why hasn’t anyone chose to ever live the life of a superhero?  A vigilante?  Why does everyone live so..normal and boring?”

I don’t remember his response and I don’t think he even had one at the time.

I surrounded myself with things that were a cut above in ambition and masculinity that you did not see in the real world.  I played with superheros, G.I.Joes, athletes, muscle men, Bruce lee,  and watched Charles Branson and James Bond put the smack down on people.  Watched the iconic Dirty Harry take no crap from no one.

The real world sucked and the suburban life was not inspiring.

Where were all the powerful figures of my imagination?

As a male surrounded by three sisters I took this as motivation to forge myself greater – the iron, my books and movies, and anything that built me up would be my tools.

I was a 160 pound soccer player of a kid that was always on the football B-team.  B-team was where no one was proud to be.

That was fine.  I knew I may not control my genetics, my bone mass or frame, but I could use all the outside tools I had to bring out my best self.

That’s what it’s really all about isn’t it?  Becoming your best self.

Through all the dull of the day, the school work, the relationship problems, the typing away at your 9-5, the friendships that are more like relationships of circumstance, taxes, bills,  the iron stands the test of time.

“The Iron is the great reference point.  It never freaks out on you or runs away.  It delivers the cold truth.  It demands you to be greater or you will fail in lifting it. “
— Henry Rollins

This caused me to love the iron so much I abandoned my very first love for full pursuit of mastering the iron – martial arts.   I still love martial arts to this day and it is always second in my mind.

In my earlier years there was no science or form, there was only being strong.  That meant moving heavy weight – then heavier weight.  When you got stuck lifting the same weight day in and day out you were constantly restless.  You wanted to achieve that higher level and every 2 and a half pound plate per side matter.

I don’t always train in that manner now, but at the time there was a beauty to the simplicity of what it was.

Just being strong.  It felt right.

When you arrive to train, you can step out of the virtual reality world and into something real.

We have all had those workouts where we are just ON.  Laser focused on every set and rep, we “feel” everything.  We even prolong our workout because everything is akin and we don’t want it to end.  We will stay in the gym for over 2 hours on those days and still feel like it isn’t enough.

Those are the workouts that make the average ones worth it.

I’m certainly not always motivated, but even if I plan on just going in and doing some abs and treadmill the workout will always turn into something intense.  I just can’t help myself as I get going.

Some people wait for the stars to align.  They won’t start until their schedule is perfect.  Or until there eating habits are cleaned up or until they have the perfect gym equipment and the right time or day to train.  Some are just waiting to “feel” the energy to go train.

Yeah…good luck waiting.

Guess what?  You’re waiting is actually you looking for windows to escape through.

It is you watching out of the peripheral vision for an excuse you can latch onto.

Leave that crap behind.  Get fired up about the challenge or what you’re about to take on.

A wise man once said:

“Train around injuries and work schedules. Train living on Top Ramen if you need to… whatever it is… the guys who get strong and stay strong over the years fucking train.

No matter what,  train.”

“I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds”

Henry Rollins

 

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My Deadlift strength is blowing up…here’s why!

I’ve never been awesome at the deadlift.  I have a skinny ectomorph frame, and to be honest, it took over a decade and many specialized powerlifting programs to get my bench press max to an impressive 380, squat to 475, and my deadlift has been stuck at 465-485 from the floor for years.

I’ve done high frequency deadlifting plans that locked my body up and put me in pain.
Whenever I started a new deadlifting plan, it wasn’t long in the weight progressions before my lower back irritation would amplify and I simply couldn’t keep up with the progressions.  A tweak in my back would put me out long enough to ruin the program.

I should add that I am pretty flexible for my size and all my flexbility training coul not relieve my lower back pain for the deadlift.. I was so frustrated and thought I was just not built to do this lift that I loved so much.

Deadlifting has been a lift that I’ve always kept in every two to three weeks in some form, whether from the floor or rack, or the stiff legged variety.
I’ve actually fallen in love with the MANY other forms of deadlifting – suitcase, straddle, sumo kettlebell, rdl, etc. but that’s a blog for another day.

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Now to how I actually got my body comfortable enough for send my deadlift numbers up to 500 and break the plateau I was stuck at for years…

I found a partner in my gym who is smaller than I, but has incredible deadlifting strength,  much stronger than 1 with half the mass.  As we trained together that day, he watched my form and said something that hit dead on…

“Josh, you’re strong enough to pull this weight, but the beginning of your movement looks like your body is in pain, more from the movement itself rather than your ability to lift the weight.”
That was totally true.  I knew I could lift the numbers, but my body felt locked up and in pain when I did it..

2 Things:

A Staggered conventional stance.   Yes, it’s weird but true.  I first hear of this from an old time powerlifter in the book, “The Purposeful Primitive”.  I can’t remember the athletes name, but he had a record breaking deadlift and he always lifting with one of his feet a inch back behind the other.  Creating a slightly staggered stance.
Something about this imperfect alignment allowed my hips to comfortable lift in a way that took pressure off my lumbar spine.  I was able to crouch to the bar without a rounded lower back and the transition was amazing.

The weight would shift from primarily in one leg during the first half of the lift, through the other on the lockout, this kept me pain free.

This is my new Conventional deadlifting stance from now on.   I squeeze my glutes as I walk up to the bar, both shins touching the bar at hips width apart.
Then I step my left foot back by 1 inch (this varies but 1-2 inches is the sweat spot).

See how this feels for you if you have constant lower back tightness.

Sumo Deadlifting in the same workout as Conventional deadlifting

For whatever reason, this balance of a WAVE progression has helped kick my numbers up.

A WAVE is where you pyramid your weight and lower your reps, then go back down, to come up again… here is an example of my wave:

Staggered conventional stance- 405×5 reps, 445 x 3 reps, 475×2 reps

Sumo Stance Deadlift: 415×5 reps, 455×3 reps, 480×2 reps.

6 working sets of deads.

There you go, more deadlift volume, and finding a stance that was comfortable enough for my lower back.

I’ve been doing this for only 2 months and my deadlift has jumped 25 pounds.  I’ll report back in a couple months to see where it’s at then!

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Lower Body Kickboxing Workout

Leg conditioning workout for martial arts
first I perform a 5 minute warm up on the bike.  The order of this workout is prioritizing strength first, then hypertrophy, followed by skills training and conditioning.  You never want one energy system to be taxed so that it interferes with another.  For example, exhausting yourself with a metabolic conditioning exercise (like jump squats for instance) would be counter productive to do before deadlifting or doing heavy squats.

Onward to today’s workout:


Barbell Back Squats:  3-4 warm set sets, then 5 sets of 5 with a weight that’s 75-80% of your max.

Step Back barbell lunges 3 x8 superset with side kicks x 12 each leg (if you have a heavy bag you can hit it, if not just throwing the kicks in the air is perfectly fine)

Forward walking barbell lunges superset with front snap kicks x 12 each leg.

Weighted barbell hip thrust x 15 superset with roundhouse kicks x 8 each leg.

Metabolic tri-set:
Plyo jumping lunges x 8, tornado kicks x 4 each leg, Squat and front kick alternate x 10 each leg (20 squats total).

Static Hip Strengthening kicks:  You will perform side kicks with your leg out, NEVER putting your knee down, just snap the foot out and bring it back, nice and slow.
3 sets of 15 kicks each leg.
Go Back and forth between legs without resting for this.  It’ll burn.

Standing Weighted Calve Raises superset with db jump squats 20/10.  3 sets then done.

Finisher – Rapid fire bag work – 30 kicks as fast as you can each leg on the heavy bag.

Stretch for 10 minutes.  Hamstrings, glutes, hips, quads and calves.  Hold each stretch for 30 seconds.

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