Articles

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Dedicated to My Mom, Teri


Teri Arline Donaho

September 15, 1952-June 2, 2017
My Mom's High School Picture
Sometimes, we have to take a chance, rely on faith and allow yourself to be 
vulnerable to better ourselves, others and maybe, just maybe the world.  Well 
this is one of those times for me.  I learned the value of taking those chances 
and relying on faith from one of my heroes, my mom.  The following story is 
dedicated to her, Teri Arlene Donaho, and to let her know and remind her that 
she has made that difference in me, others and now in you. 



I can still remember at the age of 6 being awakened in the middle of the night 
to watch The Beatles movie, Yellow Submarine, with my mom.  It was a bizarre 
movie, which I speculate required some LSD to truly understand. Afterwards, 
she explained some of the meanings and innuendos contained in it.  Not the 
typical conversation most kids had with their parents at that age.  We had  
quite a unique relationship.  I grew up in Austin, what I considered at the time 
a “hippie” town and my mom very much fit into that category.  

Mom and Dad about the time they met, they got married a couple of weeks later 

After I lost my dad to suicide at a very young age, my mom took on the role of 
both parents.  I didn’t understand it at the time but years later, I grew to understand 
the fears and demons she battled trying to make sure my brother and I were ok.  
I know she feared that we would feel shame or resentment over the loss of my 
father, so for many years she would come to my bedroom and tell me a story 
about my dad.  Usually about one of his many athletic accomplishments, academic 
achievements, his determination and the pride and love he had for my brother and I.  
In a way she helped to allow me to create the perfect father in my head, one that I 
would not want to disappoint.  

Mom and Dad
As the years went on, she went through several relationships, some with some really 
good guys and some that were not so great.  I was pretty easy going and didn’t mind 
as long as they were good to my mom.  If they weren’t, they would have to deal with 
her protectors, my brother and I…we were hell on wheels, just ask my mom.  I watched
her work so hard, battle addiction and take on other people’s problems and she still had
the ability to show love to others without judgment and always put herself last.  I knew 
she was in pain and desperately wanted to save her.  When I was little, around 4 
years old, she would tell me stories and often begin to cry so I would tell her, “momma,
I am gonna build you a spaceship and take you away.” It was around that same age that
my mom got arrested for possession/manufacture of pot.  Not just a few plants mind you,
oh no, when she did something big, she went all in!  It was a professionally built, irrigated,
temperature controlled greenhouse that housed over 1,000 pot plants!!!! Not bad for 1977, huh?

Mom, big bro, and I...I am the little guy on the left 

The day she got busted in Lampasas, Tx they surrounded our house and kicked in 
our doors and raided the house.  Quite an experience for a 4 year old.  I watched as she
was taken away in handcuffs.  The court case dragged on for many years and as my
brother and I got older we realized our mom may get sent away for a long time and that
we might end up in an orphanage. We promised if that  happened, we would
escape and live on our own.  Fortunately it never came to that, the court decided
in her favor and the worst was behind us! Or so we thought.

The next few years were pretty stable and then through a series of events we 
found ourselves on our own again struggling and eventually homeless.  One thing I
learned from my mom was if ya want something in life, ya gotta work for it.  So I began
to hustle and started working at the age of 11.  Mowing lawns, cleaning lots for gas
stations, working at construction sites throwing out trash, helping build fences and any
other odd job I could find.  In the summer of 1984 I saved up $150 to buy a bad-ass bike,
a Laser 1000. That was a lot of money back then!  I’m still pissed it was stolen.  From
that age on, if I needed something, I bought it, that included my own clothes and food. 

Taking care of myself was easy, trying to take care of my mom was the tricky party.  
Soon we found ourselves living in campsites at Bull Creek in Austin.  Everyday was 
an adventure.  Finding food was pretty easy.  One day it might be snake, crawdaddys 
or duck and another it would be free food from a food bank.  There would be stretches 
where I wouldn’t see my mom for days at a time.  She would do what she had to get 
some money and place for us to stay for a while.  I can still remember the shock of 
sleeping in a house with air conditioner!  Ahhhhh, the little things!  

It was quite a roller coaster at times.  We went from living a very comfortable lifestyle
 to getting our food of dumpsters and waiting in lines to get handouts.  My mom 
would always tell me that everything happens for a reason and that God has a plan for each 
of us, we just gotta listen.  She also taught me that every person is special, worthy to 
be loved and that we mustn’t let our hardships define us but allow how we overcome 
those hardships to be our defining moments.  These were important lessons and ones 
that I would remind myself of on a regular basis.  I still remember how often folks 
would judge me, either at school or in public, and how that would make me feel.  
It was pretty obvious that we didn’t have the nicest clothes or material things. All that 
did was motivate me to work harder to prove everyone wrong, and occasionally get 
in a fight here or there.  One thing my mom cultivated in me is a sense of pride and 
dignity and to respect others, which helped me get through some trying times.   
When I think back to those times, I remember that I was always happy and believed
that if I worked hard enough, things would get better and they eventually did.

At 16, I was on my own working full time and going to high school.  I didn’t have 
a lot of friends in high school because it was difficult to relate.  While most kids were 
complaining about not getting the latest shoes, I was trying to pay bills and get 
groceries.  Growing up the way I did taught me a lot but it also left a few scars.  
I found myself always searching for the next challenge to overcome, adventure, never 
backing down and always trying to be the best at everything.  A little bit of an 
over-achiever, mixed with a dash of “everything is a competition” and a sprinkle of OCD.  
This might explain some of my decisions in life and why I was drawn to the military 
and a career in law enforcement.  

As a result, I drifted from some of the very important things my mom taught me.  
First of all, learn to appreciate the little things and have faith that God will always 
provide.  We don’t have to have best of everything and things don’t have to be perfect for
us to be happy.  We just have to learn how to appreciate.  Second, everyone is 
special and has a purpose.  We all have a story to tell and we can all learn something 
from one another.  Competition can be a good thing but it can also work to separate us.  
When this happens, the seeds of shame and isolation are planted breeding fear and
insecurity.  Learn to forgive and practice empathy, learn to see things
through the eyes of others and they will learn to see through yours.

It took me along time to really understand the value and impact of what my mom 
was always trying to teach me and that it was okay to let down my guard.  I now 
know what my purpose is and, through what can only be a miracle from God, have 
been given the opportunities and ability to do pursue it.  My purpose is simple; I am 
here to fight the good fight, share my story with others and to leave this world a 
better place then when I found it.  By taking the time to appreciate what is around us,
allowing ourselves to be a  little more vulnerable and ignore the fear of what others might
say or do, we are able to follow our hearts, be happy and connect with and inspire 
others so that they may do the same.  There will always be nay-sayers and 
critics…believe me, I have met might quite a few…but remember, they do what they 
do out of their own fears.

Now married with a family, a great career and the opportunity to connect with 
and inspire others I am living the dream.  When I think back on my past, it seems 
surreal but I wouldn’t change a thing.  My hope is that I set an example for my kids 
and that this story connects with just one of you who are reading this. I believe that
by opening up and sharing my story and some of the lessons I have learned, it will 
help others in some way and even inspire someone else to do the same.  And to 
my mom, know that you have made a difference in me and now in others. If you
were to talk to her she would likely say "bless your heart" or something crazy like
"hot diggity," "dadgummit" or "I'll be a monkey's uncle!" And, finally, to you, the
reader, like my mom used to say, you are special and have a purpose.  Just take a
chance, know its ok to be vulnerable and have the faith to follow your heart and
maybe, just maybe together we can make a better world.  :)


Mom, with some of the grandkids and I a few years ago


Thanks mom, I love you.  I didn't get to build ya that spaceship, but maybe 

someone reading this will!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

How to Make or Break a Habit





Happy new year everyone!!! Its been a while since i have made a post...actually I originally posted this article in Feb 2016.  Since it is about making habits, I figured it would be an ideal article for the new year.  2016 was a busy year for me.  I plan on making 2017 the year that i get back to writing and putting some new material on here.  I have a few ideas but if any of you have some suggestions on topics, please let me know.  

So lets talk about habits and why some work and some don't and how to get rid of harmful ones.

 First, I want to emphasize that I am not a doctor and recommend before you make any changes in diet or exercise, always consult with your doctor.  Now that I got out of the way, let's get to it.  We have all been therewe get inspired, make a plan to start working out or eating better and we dive in head first and everything is great for about, ohhh two weeks, then it fizzles out.  Sound familiar?  How do those other folks stick to their plan or those diets…how do they look like that!!! What do they know that I don't!!!  Well the answer lies in how we make things a habit.

Habits are routines that we develop and, once created, perform with little or no thought.  We get up, brush our teeth, go to the kitchen start coffee and sit down to read or turn on the TVwithout even thinking about it.  Think about every habit…good or bad…that you currently have.  If we take a close look, we would find that each habit has a cue or trigger, followed by a routine and then a reward.  Habits often fail because we set a long term goal as the reward.  Here is the problem, if it is a longterm goal, then its gonna be a loooong time until we get the reward.  So how do we fix it?  Before we get there, let's take a closer look. 

First we have to recognize that once a habit is formed in our brain, it never goes away.  It can be modified if we practice, but two things remain: the cue and the reward.  The routine is the part we can change.  Take drinking alcohol for example.  Often folks begin drinking because they are around other people in a social setting.  So the cue is being in a social setting or wanting to feel connected to others.  Then they develop the routine of drinking when they get that cue and then experience the reward of feeling connected or relaxed.  So over time, every time they are in a social setting or want to feel connected they are cued to drink.  That is one part.  The next part comes later.  Over time, the reward of feeling connected or relaxed is achieved by the routine of drinking alcohol.  So when a person desires the reward of feeling connected or relaxed, they automatically go to the routine of drinking.  

The cues and rewards will always be there, but the routines can change.  With practice and some self awareness, when a person is cued to drink in a social setting, they can drink a cup of coffee or tea or chew gum…or whatever ya can think of.  Over time, the reward of feeling connected to others or relaxed is associated with a new routine.  What eventually happens when a person seeks that same reward is  they will find themselves craving to drink a cup of coffee or tea…or chew gum..and less likely drinking alcohol.  We can actually create and control our habits!



That is a very simple explanation of how habits work.  How do we apply that to exercise or nutrition?  Easy:

  • Pick a goal (lose ten pounds, drink less, eat better, build muscle, feel better, look better, bench more, run a 5k race…etc.)
  • Make a plan
  • Create a cue…here are a few
    • the alarm goes off 
    • ya listen to music on your way to the gym 
    • you open the fridge
    • ya meet up with friends
    • ya drink a cup of coffee 
  • Create a routine with the cue
    • the alarm goes off and ya go for a jog, or do push ups 
    • when the fridge is opened ya grab a veggie
    • begin training with others
    • begin a sport
    • ya do a workout after drinking coffee
    • go play at a park
  • Create a short term reward with the routine (some will happen automatically)
    • by going for a jog ya feel more energy, confidence and alert
    • improved mood, behavior and memory
    • having fun
    • the veggie take the edge of hunger 
    • by training with others ya feel connected or happier
    • get a smoothie or healthy snack after your workout
Before ya know it, in order to get the rewards, you will naturally seek the routines that provide the rewards.  When that happens, the cues and rewards will be a permanent part of the brain.  It will be a habit.  The trick is to create some cues, give them some routines and give yourself a short term reward for completing the routine.  That is the secret.  Long term goals are great, but it takes a long time to get the reward.  If we do not create some rewards with our cues and routines, the habit never forms and we are back to where we started.











Remember exercise doesn't have to be "work."  Make it fun, get involved in sports, join a class with others, go play.  Then when we crave having fun, we resort to the routine of exercising by doing something we enjoy…and are more likely to make it a habit. 

Whether your goal is to build muscle, lose fat, improve energy or just be happier, know that it can be done and you can do it.  It is just a matter of picking the goal, creating a plan, making a cue to each routine and a reward (many of which happen without us knowing) for each routine.  Then you will have formed a habit and people will be asking how YOU do it!

These are some simple guidelines to help you make some new habits and get your New Year off to a healthy start!   Remember, you have control of your habits!

Take care, and until next time, go get some sprints in and pick up something heavy.


Wanna learn more about this topic?  Then I highly recommend two books: The Power of Habit and Brain Rules….listed below.


References:

Duhigg, Charles.  The Power of Habit. The Random House Trade Paperbacks. 2012.
Journal of Clinical Investigation, NF-kB: a key role in inflammatory diseasesPublished in Volume 107, Issue 1 (January 1, 2001), American Society for Clinical Investigation

Medina, John.  Brain Rules.  First Pear Press Publishing. 2009

Pubmed.com, 2006;8 Suppl 2:S3. Epub 2006 Jul 28.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

How to Make or Break a Habit





New Year's Resolution woes got ya down?  It worked for a couple of weeks and then fell in the crapper.  What happened? How do I make it a habit or break old ones?

 First, I want to emphasize that I am not a doctor and recommend before you make any changes in diet or exercise, always consult with your doctor.  Now that I got out of the way, let's get to it.  We have all been therewe get inspired, make a plan to start working out or eating better and we dive in head first and everything is great for about, ohhh two weeks, then it fizzles out.  Sound familiar?  How do those other folks stick to their plan or those diets…how do they look like that!!! What do they know that I don't!!!  Well the answer lies in how we make things a habit.

Habits are routines that we develop and, once created, perform with little or no thought.  We get up, brush our teeth, go to the kitchen start coffee and sit down to read or turn on the TVwithout even thinking about it.  Think about every habit…good or bad…that you currently have.  If we take a close look, we would find that each habit has a cue or trigger, followed by a routine and then a reward.  Habits often fail because we set a long term goal as the reward.  Here is the problem, if it is a longterm goal, then its gonna be a loooong time until we get the reward.  So how do we fix it?  Before we get there, let's take a closer look. 

First we have to recognize that once a habit is formed in our brain, it never goes away.  It can be modified if we practice, but two things remain: the cue and the reward.  The routine is the part we can change.  Take drinking alcohol for example.  Often folks begin drinking because they are around other people in a social setting.  So the cue is being in a social setting or wanting to feel connected to others.  Then they develop the routine of drinking when they get that cue and then experience the reward of feeling connected or relaxed.  So over time, every time they are in a social setting or want to feel connected they are cued to drink.  That is one part.  The next part comes later.  Over time, the reward of feeling connected or relaxed is achieved by the routine of drinking alcohol.  So when a person desires the reward of feeling connected or relaxed, they automatically go to the routine of drinking.  

The cues and rewards will always be there, but the routines can change.  With practice and some self awareness, when a person is cued to drink in a social setting, they can drink a cup of coffee or tea or chew gum…or whatever ya can think of.  Over time, the reward of feeling connected to others or relaxed is associated with a new routine.  What eventually happens when a person seeks that same reward is  they will find themselves craving to drink a cup of coffee or tea…or chew gum..and less likely drinking alcohol.  We can actually create and control our habits!



That is a very simple explanation of how habits work.  How do we apply that to exercise or nutrition?  Easy:

  • Pick a goal (lose ten pounds, drink less, eat better, build muscle, feel better, look better, bench more, run a 5k race…etc.)
  • Make a plan
  • Create a cue…here are a few
    • the alarm goes off 
    • ya listen to music on your way to the gym 
    • you open the fridge
    • ya meet up with friends
    • ya drink a cup of coffee 
  • Create a routine with the cue
    • the alarm goes off and ya go for a jog, or do push ups 
    • when the fridge is opened ya grab a veggie
    • begin training with others
    • begin a sport
    • ya do a workout after drinking coffee
    • go play at a park
  • Create a short term reward with the routine (some will happen automatically)
    • by going for a jog ya feel more energy, confidence and alert
    • improved mood, behavior and memory
    • having fun
    • the veggie take the edge of hunger 
    • by training with others ya feel connected or happier
    • get a smoothie or healthy snack after your workout
Before ya know it, in order to get the rewards, you will naturally seek the routines that provide the rewards.  When that happens, the cues and rewards will be a permanent part of the brain.  It will be a habit.  The trick is to create some cues, give them some routines and give yourself a short term reward for completing the routine.  That is the secret.  Long term goals are great, but it takes a long time to get the reward.  If we do not create some rewards with our cues and routines, the habit never forms and we are back to where we started.


Remember exercise doesn't have to be "work."  Make it fun, get involved in sports, join a class with others, go play.  Then when we crave having fun, we resort to the routine of exercising by doing something we enjoy…and are more likely to make it a habit. 

Whether your goal is to build muscle, lose fat, improve energy or just be happier, know that it can be done and you can do it.  It is just a matter of picking the goal, creating a plan, making a cue to each routine and a reward (many of which happen without us knowing) for each routine.  Then you will have formed a habit and people will be asking how YOU do it!

These are some simple guidelines to help you make some new habits and get your New Year off to a healthy start!   Remember, you have control of your habits!

Take care, and until next time, go get some sprints in and pick up something heavy.


Wanna learn more about this topic?  Then I highly recommend two books: The Power of Habit and Brain Rules….listed below.


References:

Duhigg, Charles.  The Power of Habit. The Random House Trade Paperbacks. 2012.

Journal of Clinical Investigation, NF-kB: a key role in inflammatory diseasesPublished in Volume 107, Issue 1 (January 1, 2001), American Society for Clinical Investigation

Medina, John.  Brain Rules.  First Pear Press Publishing. 2009

Pubmed.com, 2006;8 Suppl 2:S3. Epub 2006 Jul 28.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Making a Strength Training Program
















Winter is right around the corner and so are the holidays.  That means a lot of food, shorter days, cooler temperatures and vacations.  It is for these very reasons that I often put a block of strength training at the end of the year...that way I can enjoy all the food and have a legitimate excuse!  Remember, if you want to build muscle, you need calories!  I am not going to re-invent the wheel here since I already wrote an article that lays everything out on how to make a strength training program.  So since it is that time of year again, I felt the "Making a Strength Training Program" article would be appropriate and have the link below...enjoy and happy holidays!




 This is a topic I have talked about before and some of the info below is from previous posts, but I think it is important enough to keep sending the message: Keep Strength Training in Your Life!

Strength training builds muscle (which burns fat), increases bone density, improves hormone balance, and prevents injuries..it keeps us young.


For those who follow this blog, quite a bit of the info below will sound familiar but I will be adding a few more bits of knowledge in this article. The focus is strength training which is a little different then body building.  They are similar in that they both build muscle/structure, they both require a calorie surplus but differ in a few other ways. Strength training develops neuromuscular pathways to a greater degree thus allowing for a greater ability to generate power.  Bodybuilding allows for more sarcoplasmic growth allowing the muscles to store more glucose thus more fluid and size.  Strength training utilizes much heavier weight, less sets and lower reps.  Bodybuilding utilizes greater volume with moderate weight, more sets and higher reps.  The programs in this article are strength programs. Now lets get started…get some coffee and get comfortable.


First let’s talk about types of adaptations.  This may be a refresher for some and new to others.  The types of adaptations that I am talking about are physical changes that can be measured.  Thinks like strength, speed, muscle mass or improved performance in timed or scored events.  Some changes or improvements, once attained, stay with us longer than others.  This is important because it helps us prioritize how we program our training. The following list shows how adaptations are gained starting with the ones that take the most time to gain to the least time to gain:

1.      Muscle growth

2.      Strength

3.      Muscular Endurance/Lactic acid threshold

4.      Power-speed related movements that improve neuro-muscular relationships

5.      Technique or skill based movements

6.      Cardio-respiratory endurance

Likewise, the following shows the reverse of this…adaptations that are lost the quickest to the slowest:

1.      Cardio

2.      Technique

3.      Power

4.      Muscular Endurance/Lactic acid threshold

5.      Strength

6.      Muscle growth

This means many things.  First gain muscle and strength because that stays with us for a long time before diminishing and as an event approaches begin adding conditioning and skill work then cardio.  It also means that as far as cardio and technique or skill based movements go, we gain them pretty quick and lose them pretty quick.


When I hear folks talk about wanting to get “ripped” or “shredded” and then jump into some high intensity training program or do tons of cardio, I really want to choke them…for just few seconds.  What most people fail to realize is that folks who are “ripped” or “shredded” got strong and had a lot of muscle first.  Gain the muscle and then lean out.  And yes, when a person focuses on gaining muscle mass, they will gain some fat…don’t panic, it’s easy to lose and when its gone, that’s when the “ripped” look appears.

Some may argue that due to health or medical reasons that strength and building muscle shouldn’t be a priority.  I would agree.  If someone has some type of metabolic derangement, severe obesity issues, mobility limitations or cardio vascular risk factors then focusing on diet and simply improving activity level and mobility would be the priority.


A good guideline is get strong and gain muscle which stays with us longer and makes us more durable and injury resistant…and harder to kill as Mark Rippetoe would say.   Then incorporate metabolic conditioning (metcon) or interval or Cross Fit style training.  Then throw in some occasional cardio.  And finally, since skill deteriorates relatively quickly, incorporate your specific skill set, i.e. firearms, control tactics, entry, ground control and keep it in your program.  Once you have attained a good level of GPP (general physical preparedness) that you are happy with, then you are in your maintenance phase.  Once there, strength/power training can be done less frequently (1-2 times per week), metcon training (1-2 times per week), and technique/cardio (1-2 times per week).  This can be adjusted based on any new goals you have or areas you want to improve but you get the idea.


Ok, that was a fast, quick overview of programming and prioritization.   We didn’t even talk about the level of the athlete…novice, intermediate, advanced and elite….which would change training and recovery periods.  A novice will experience gains and progress quicker with less recovery time. An intermediate will not progress as quickly, and will have to allow more recovery time or program in some lighter intensity workouts. An advanced or Elite athlete requires even greater periods of high intensity followed by equally or longer periods of recovery…and so on and so on.


One of the biggest enemies of progress in athletes is overtraining, a.k.a adrenal fatigue. To understand this we must first understand the three basic things we need in order to make adaptation or improved performance, whatever the goal may be (it’s actually the same thing):

1.      Training/Stimulus

2.      Nutrition

3.      Rest/Recovery

 If one of these is out of balance, progress will halt and, quite often, reverse or deteriorate. Can a person train for a couple of hours a day 6 or 7 days a week and improve? Sure, as long as the nutrition and recovery are in balance…they may have to sleep 12 hours a day and triple their caloric intake…but it could be done.
Our bodies respond to stress by making adaptations. They need adequate rest and building material (food) to do this. The trick is stressing it just long enough and with enough intensity to signal a hormonal response and then give it the rest and nutrition it needs to support the change.


There is no “one size fits all”. It requires some experience, planning and common sense (which is usually the ingredient that is missing most often ) or simply knowing someone or a coach who is smarter than you and getting them to help. If the stress is not intense enough, we are just spinning our wheels. If it is too much, progress stalls or reverses, injuries occur and we feel like crap.


The human body has adapted very well to dealing with acute stress (short-term) but is not good at dealing with chronic stress. Acute stress can be things like training and emergency or life threatening situations. This is the primary type of stress that we, as humans, have been exposed to for most of our existence. Chronic stress is relatively new to humans, maybe within the last 150 years, not enough time for our physiology to adapt. This type of stress comes from busy lifestyles, anxiety, not enough sleep, too many stimulants or over training.


Unfortunately, most of us are exposed to chronic stress quite regularly. It is important to recognize and understand this so we can identify sources of chronic stress and work to reduce them.
So what is the problem with chronic stress??? In a word…cortisol. Cortisol is a glucocorticoid produced by our adrenal gland. Simply put, it’s a hormone released in response to stress that is responsible for the release of stored glucose. The problem is when we have too much cortisol too frequently, we “burn out” our adrenal gland, burn muscle, impair cognitive function and impair our immune system. Cortisol also inhibits sleep and not enough sleep increases cortisol production. Ugly cycle huh? That is why it is so important to get cortisol under control…because if you don’t, you will not get enough rest.

Far too often, I see folks with good intentions, that already have chronic stress issues, take too many “energy” supplements or drinks, which also release cortisol, and decide they are going to start working out to make some improvements and then wonder why it doesn’t work and wonder why they feel like crap. Usually, they fix it by training more, eating less and taking more energy boosters. See a problem here?
Folks, its not the training that will make you better, it’s the recovery that will. If you fall into this category, exercise should not be the priority, managing sources of chronic stress should be. Now some may argue that exercise can be a way to manage or control stress. In general, I would agree if the intensity is low enough…like a slow walk or jog. But if we are talking about exercise that elicits a physiological change, then that exercise is going to require a high degree of intensity and will not be successful at reducing stress.
I tell the folks I teach and train to remember two simple questions to ask themselves to help determine if they are overtraining:

  1. How is your performance? 
  2.  How do you feel?

If your performance is stalling or on reversing, then you are overtraining and need to take a break. Maybe for a couple of days or maybe for a couple of weeks. If you feel like crap, yep you guessed it, you are overtraining. The cure for overtraining is really that simple: rest and good nutrition. Any good training program will have recovery or “off” periods programmed in.
The message here guys is to first identify sources of chronic stress and try to get them under control before embarking on a performance based training program. These sources may be:

  • Not enough sleep….big one in law enforcement
  • Too many stimulants…especially the energy drinks
  • Anxiety…worrying about things you can’t change is a biggie
  • Poor diet…too many high glycemic index carbs keep insulin up which, in turn, elevate cortisol
  • Too much exercise

Know the signs of overtraining, recognize sources of chronic stress, be responsible enough to make fixing them a priority, train just enough to send the right signals to the body, provide the appropriate nutrition and give your body the time and rest it needs to make the changes. Yes, this requires planning, preparation and a little practice…and sometimes taking a vacation!





Ok back to strength training, now we should understand every athlete is different and to gain muscle we need intensity, a lot of food and a lot of rest.  As far as food goes, in regards to Paleo nutrition, an athlete can make great gains eating Paleo...it just might take a little longer though.  When gaining weight, our need for carbs will increase.  I have seen some suggestions like drinking a gallon of milk a day or eating 2-3 sweet potatoes a day…whatever works for you, just understand that this is short term in order to gain the muscle.  Whatever you decide to do, I would strongly encourage avoiding grains, processed foods and sugary foods.

Onto types of strength training programs…here are some good general guidelines for gaining mass:

  • Keep squats, deadlifts, press, cleans, bench as the “meat and potatoes”
  • Train 3-4 times per week…strength training only
  • Train heavy (this may vary from athlete to athlete)
  • Eat…a lot
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • For gaining mass, usually higher volume work (more sets at 8-12 reps) is better…usually
  • For power/strength, usually lower volume higher weight (less sets 3-5 reps at high intensity) is better…usually
    Not too complicated.  Here are few strength training programs to choose from:

  • Jim Wendlers 5/3/1 Method for intermediate to advanced lifters
  • Prilipen Method…this is more for intermediate to advanced lifters and is based on the principle that some folks respond better to different intensities and rep ranges
  • Either way, you should pick a template based on your experience level and what you feel will work for you and stick with it for atleast 4-6 months to allow the adaptations to take place and stick.
    Here is one that I came up with based on what works for me, which is more geared for the experienced/advanced athlete:

Workout Combos
Workout A
Workout B
Workout C
Squat
Squat
Deadlift
Bench
Clean
Press
Secondary lift
Secondary lift
Secondary lift
Workout D
Workout E
Workout F
Deadlift
Press
O-Lifts
Bench
Clean
heavy doubles 
Secondary lift
Secondary lift
or triples
Workout G
Speed/Interval/MC

The Pattern

First  Cycle
Next Cycle
Week
Weekly Cycle
Advanced 
Intermdiate
Advanced
Intermediate
1
A,C,B
65% @ 8-10 REPS
65% AND 70%
ADD 2-3%
ADD 3-5%
2
C,B,D
70% @ 8-10 REPS
70% AND 75%
ADD 2-3%
ADD 3-5%
3
A,E,D
75% @ 8-10 REPS
75% AND 80%
ADD 2-3%
ADD 3-5%
4
F,G
MAX EFFORTS
MAX EFFORTS
ADD 2-3%
ADD 3-5%
5
A,C,B
80% @ 4-5 REPS
80% AND 85%
ADD 2-3%
ADD 3-5%
6
C,B,D
85% @-4-5 REPS
85% AND 90% 
ADD 2-3%
ADD 3-5%
7
A,E,D
90% @ 3-5 REPS
90% AND 95%
ADD 2-3%
ADD 3-5%
8
F,G
MAX EFFORTS
MAX EFFORTS
ADD 2-3%
ADD 3-5%
9
Can be used as recovery week or beginning of next cycle

The Workouts

Primary lifts
O-Lifts
Secondary Lifts
Squat
Clean and Jerk
Front squat
Deadlift
Snatch
Overhead squat
Power Clean
Push ups
Press
(these lifts may not apply
Pull ups
Bench
to intermediate athletes)
Kettlebells
Turkish get ups
Ring work
Handstand push ups
Single Joint
Cable work
Interval/Speed/MetCon
Sprints (200m or less)
Tabata Drills
Box Jumps
Clapping push ups, Handspeed Drills
10 min or less MetCon


If this confuses you, then you shouldn’t follow it.  This is a very specialized program that works well for me and took me years to refine.  It follows a similar style often that Mark Rippetoe uses for his advanced athletes of “Two Steps Forward One Step Back” where there is a ramp up week, high intensity week, and recovery week.  Is it obvious I am a Rippetoe fan?


I will be giving some lectures and seminars soon on exercise physiology and programming so keep following the posts for future announcements.  The first one should is planned for sometime in September. 


I know this was a lengthy article but to sum everything up remember:

  • To gain muscle: train heavy, eat, sleep…not much else

    • Do more sets and higher reps for gaining mass
    • Do less sets, lower reps and high intensity for power/strength

  • Gain muscle/strength first then lean out or condition unless there are health issues
  • Every athlete is different
  • There is no “one size fits all” program out there
  • Take the time to educate yourself or hire someone smarter than you to teach you
  • Ovoid overtraining
That’s a lot to chew on.  Remember, keep it simple, understand general principles, use the major lifts and have some sort of plan before ya start.  Until next time, pick up something heavy and get some sprints in.