Saturday was great because there was no cardio to do. I was drained from the week, and it took about two hours to get going. I usually do light upper body and then a dynamic speed pull day, but since I couldn’t get it going, I did some reverse bands, thinking that would be easy. We used a green band with about a hundred off at the bottom, and completely off at the top.

I started with the 100’s on each side for five conventional pulls, then added 50 to 300x5, 425x5 and 515x2. I then decided to put on briefs that didn’t fit – or give me anything – and pulled 600x1. This was ugly, so I tapped the briefs out and went back to raw for 515x3 for four sets. For accessory work, I did:

  • Back raises and pull-ups (superset): 3 rounds of 8 reps per set
  • Reverse band floor press: 325x5x4, 375x3x3
  • Fat bar curls and tricep pushdowns (superset): 4 rounds of 8 reps per set
  •  Front, side and rear delt raises with purple bands: 3 rounds x 10 each

Done for the day.

Sunday Cardio Insanity

I had been telling everyone that I was going to try twenty laps with the sled, and Sunday was as good a day as any to try this. I started out with two plates, and the sled stuck to the pavement on a nice, muggy 7:45 start in South Carolina. Then the usual happened – two laps in, I started hallucinating, and that continued for the next three laps. The next five weren’t awful, but I couldn’t get a rhythm going, and by lap ten, I was hating life. Then a gym member and his wife came out and started pulling the sled. That charged me up, and I hammered off five more laps, but they disappeared after the first two laps before I realized they were gone. The last five laps were hell. I had to stop two times each lap and take off twenty pounds.

I finished at about 10:30 AM. I sat in my rocking chair at the gym and just dazed off for about twenty minutes. I really couldn’t move. I had a lot of things to do – and things to move in the gym – and Dale was ready to help me, but I just couldn’t move. I told him it would be at least an hour before I could do anything. Sure enough, at 11:30, after a little food and some more rocking chair, I was better. To top it all off, it was a zero-carb day, so my energy was already dying after the ridiculous cardio sled.

We loaded up a few pieces of equipment that I was taking out of the gym – because I still have way too much equipment in one place – and headed off to the storage unit. When we got there, we were given an upstairs unit, even though I’d requested a downstairs one. Now, my storage place is an old cotton warehouse. The bottom units are great, and stay seventy degrees all year long, but the temperature in the upstairs units is the same as whatever the outside temperature is for that day. That day, it was about ninety-five or so. I backed down the lower ramp leading to the bottom unit, thinking it was going to be an easy deal. I got out and started checking the locks on each door, but my key wouldn’t fit any of them.

At this point, I’m thinking it’s an upstairs unit, but I tried each door again, hoping I screwed up and jiggling each lock to try and open the magic door. I had no luck, so I went upstairs and started on the locks up there, and of course it was the last one. By this time, the no-carb day, the stupid cardio and the heat were getting to me, and I got pissed. I called the old lady and yelled at her because she’d gotten the unit, and I’d asked her several times to make sure we were given a lower unit. There was no point to this, but that’s the way it went.

I had to make a decision. Should I keep the unit and suck it up? These units are hard to get, and at $40 for an 8x20, it was a good deal. Usually, you pay $100 or so for a unit that big in most places. The only way to get stuff to the second floor is a ramp built to the second floor, so I went ahead and backed up the trailer. Now, you should never back up a ramp when you’re pissed. It took me a couple of minutes on the lower ramp, and like thirty on the upstairs ramp after I ran the trailer off the sides ten or fifteen times. I cussed at the top of my lungs each time it ran off or went in the wrong direction. Finally, I got it up there after much scraping, and nearly blowing my truck up in reverse.

The upstairs of this place is old wood that’s about four inches thick and a hundred years old, so it’s not a smooth path. I walked all the way to the end to get the cart to move the stuff with. On this path was an old sofa – right in the middle of where we had to go. I stopped to move the sofa because there was no way we could get the equipment past it. As I was pushing the sofa off to the side, the cart started moving toward the rail – but there was no rail where I’d stopped, so I zoned out and watched the cart go over the edge like a waterfall.

The cart hit the ground with a bang, but did no damage. I stared over the edge for a moment, then decided I’d had enough for the day. We packed it up and took the equipment back to the gym. Dale said it looked like I pushed it over and watched it go. He was nice enough to roll it back up the ramp while I waited in the truck, with the A/C on. All the venting and yelling was done by then, and we headed back to the gym.

I then went home and laid on the chair, ate, read, ate, watched TV, ate, and finally went off to bed at 8:20 PM. Not the best day ever, but sometimes you get that.

Monday AM Cardio

Only ten laps with the sled – and two plates. I alternated forward and backward laps. I haven’t gotten my iPod loaded yet, so I was still using Martha’s. My sled session was inspired by Fergie, Aerosmith, Pink, The Chemical Brothers and Rammstein.

Monday PM training was not glamorous and not moving. I did another hour on the stepmill before training started, just to get it out of the way. We started out with some raw work, and I faded in and out all night. I watched Brant make Spud, Inc. tee shirts and read some of Lyle McDonald’s Stubborn Fat Solution, because that’s where I’m at right now.

  • Raw 2-board: 315x6 to chest, 365x5, 405x5, 455x3. I had nothing left, so I cashed out, did some incline dumbbells for reps, and helped the rest of the crew out…65x20, 85x20, 100x15
  • Green band pushdowns: 3 sets mixed with single-arm hammer curls while screaming “Mr. Olympia!” at the top of my lungs for fun.
  • Side/front/rear laterals: 8 reps each x 3 rounds
  • Went home and (maybe) got about three hours of sleep.

Tuesday, 3:15 AM

I dragged the sled with two plates for an hour, took a break for an hour, then did an hour on the Stairmaster. I continued to read Stubborn Fat Solution, because I just like to know things and this one was recommended to me. It was written to target that last little bit of fat – for guys under 10% and girls under 15%, I believe – that won’t seem to budge no matter how much cardio you do, low-carb days you schedule and chicken you eat. I had reached the end where I can’t add any more cardio no matter how many ways I change it to make it tolerable.

For most of the day, I was shitty and not fun to be around, as the boiling point continued to crescendo. The day dragged on forever, before it finally ended. As usual, the old lady called, and I did my best not to explode. I had a ton of other chores to do at the house, and I hammered away at those. All I wanted to do was to sit in the chair, relax for a minute, and eat my salads.

Eventually, that was what I got. Usually, I sit there content just to zone out, but the desire to understand this fat loss thing kept at me until I grabbed the book and read for an hour and got my fill. When I finished, I was much calmer, and relaxed like a fever had just broken. For the past months, I had been hammering and hammering away, hating the cardio, ready to eat thirty or forty thousand calories at one time. Now I realized the job ahead, and everything was okay. I think I finally have it, and the uncertainty of the whole thing just went away.

Wednesday AM Cardio

I slept great and woke up at 4:30 AM ready to go and do my cardio – not for the hour and a half plus the hour I’d been doing for two weeks, but only for an hour. I started with a warm-up lap, then five interval sprints of fifteen seconds, followed by fifty seconds rest, and then the five or six more laps of medium intensity work. I sweated just as much, only there was no stress about doing a zillion laps. I’m planning on following the same format on the stepmill or the Stairmaster.


I'm having a tough time keeping my upper back tight with bigger weights when squatting. Do you have any exercise suggestions that might help remedy this issue?

Make sure you have your thumbs around the bar, and pull them in some if you can. If they’re lying on top, you can’t lock in the upper back as tightly. This will squeeze your shoulder blades tighter, and give you more to hold together.

On the big weights, you have to pick the bar up with the hips. If you trap it out, you never get the upper back set to begin with, and when you pick it up, there isn’t much you can do to tighten up or pull your shoulder blades tighter.

As you descend with the bar, arch even more so the bar stays in perfect sync with the hips. The more it stays with the hip, and the harder you arch, the more tension you generate, and the more power you’ll get out of your squat.

When I box squat below parallel, I can keep the arch in my lower back. I feel that this is because my lower back is weak. Should I focus on strengthening it? Should I lighten the weight and just work on my arch as I progressively work lower from parallel on a box? Or is this a technique issue, and would altering my stance help keep me in an arched position?

This sounds more like both flexibility and the inability to hold your arch below parallel. Check out this clip from last year’s Boston Seminar on arching and holding the back:

I always arch harder and harder as I get to parallel and below. This keeps the bar closer to the hip and makes the squat easier.

On the second part, if you duck your feet out too much on your stance, this will make arching harder. The straighter you are, the more you can usually arch.

I’m in the tenth week of a twelve week fat loss cycle. I’m looking to really step up the cardio in the next three weeks as a final push. What do you do to maintain strength and muscle in doing as much cardio as you do?

Here is my current supplement regimen. Take a look and see if it’s similar to what you’re doing:
Supplement recommendations:
-25g BCAA per day- 5g at breakfast, 5g pre workout, 15g post workout
-5g creatine monohydrate/day with post-workout/post-cardio meal
-2 to 3g beta alanine per day (usually split pre and post-workout)
-400mg ALA with post-workout meal. On high days, have 200mg with meal 1 and every other meal thereafter, making sure to also have 400mg post-workout.

If you have any further questions or details, shoot Shelby Starnes an email at:

When I miss a squat, it’s always at parallel that I bottom out. If I can stop the weight and get it moving, I’ll always smoke the lift. What should I work on to fix this?

It sounds like you’re relaxing too much at parallel or thereabouts. My guess is that you relax too much on box squats, then carry this over to the full squat, or that you fight with the weight too much at parallel and burn yourself out. If you’re relaxing too much on the box, you can work on staying tighter when you hit the box. Always land hamstrings-first, then glutes, with only the very bottom of the glutes touching the box.

If you’re fighting too much with the weight on the descent, it’s just as bad as relaxing too much. The pace on the way down should be the same – either really fast, or slower like I do, depending on your style and gear usage. I always visualize the descent of the squat as if I was spotting myself and seeing the perfect squat – if one exists.