After only about two weeks into 2013, my logbook was already 30 pages deep. Aside from logging my training each day, I make a point to record any training insights, frustrations, or interesting topics that I might want to research or discover over the course of the day. With it being a new year, I've had a lot of discussions with fellow fitness professionals on a wide variety of topics. I had some great conversations, but I also listened to a lot of diatribes on training that were overly complicated, impractical, or just flat out contrived. If something sounds too ridiculous to actually work, it probably is. And hopefully these recordings will give you some perspective on your own training.

Want upper body definition? Do Pushups.

Most recreational guys that get into weight training want chestarmsabs (one word). Want an exercise that can define your arms, grow your chest, and chisel your abs? It's called doing pushups and pushup variations. I don’t know when doing pushups fell out of favor, but they need to make a comeback. On the youtubez you can see various athletes that have great physiques that have been built entirely with bodyweight exercises. Enough has already been written regarding the upper body development of gymnasts. There is no one whose upper body has ever gotten smaller and less defined from doing pushups, pull-ups, or dips for that matter. Do your pushups!

"Big arms aren’t functional!" -said no one that was big and strong EVER.

Here’s a shocker for you: if you lift weights with your arms, your arm muscles will probably be bigger. Mind=blown. A few years ago, the functional fitness train started and it basically set out to run over isolation exercises as “nonfunctional.” Subsequently, we now have a generation of fitness enthusiasts (who shall not be named) doing hanging seizures/kipping pull-ups and boasting about how many times they can squat 155 pounds in 15 minutes before vomiting. Looking at them, you can’t tell that any of them actually lift weights...but whatever. Point is, muscular arms are a directly visible effect of lifting legitimately heavy things and doing something beneficial for your physique and health. And functionality wise, there is no sport I can think of where a competitor benefits from having weak arms. Women are attracted to them, they impress fellow bros, and there shouldn’t be any shame in training them.


I’m honestly hoping to popularize the term “purposeful training” in this decade to replace “functional training.” Functional relative to what? Function is only relative to what the training goal is, and in essence, it really becomes a case of the end/purpose deciding the training/means. If the means allow us to reach the goal, what we did was functional. If not, then our training just flat out sucked. It's honestly that simple.

Olympic lifts are too complicated—they take too long to properly coach, most coaches suck at coaching them (because they can't really do them themselves), most athletes aren’t built to really excel at them, and the Olympic “lifts” most coaches attest to using aren’t even the full lifts to begin with. Don’t even get me started about trying to teach them in a commercial gym/box setting (they shall not be named). If you are a competent coach, your teaching is effective, and you have a great group of athletes that can execute the lifts with proper technique while using effective loads, then use them to your heart's content. Otherwise, don’t be dogmatic and accept that there are other ways to develop power. And if any of you are having your athletes or clients do hang cleans to failure, please stop right now.

Your testosterone is lacking...

I’ve received about 155 emails in the past week regarding training, hormones, and a training plan that promises to destroy my estrogen, elevate my testosterone, and build 30 pounds of muscle in the next 60 days. RIGHT…So here’s my prescription for upping your testosterone and building muscle, and it won't even cost you a one-time payment of $147 dollars!

  1. Do the compound movements and lift lots of weight
  2. Eat lots of red meat
  3. Have lots of sex
  4. Get lots of sleep

That’s four things. I considered making it five by including "drink water," but seriously, do I really need to tell you to do something that literally keeps you from dying each day? If you are doing all four of the above, you should be feeling pretty healthy and your testosterone shouldn’t be an issue. If not, figure out which one you're lacking and start doing it.

On the subject of testosterone, can we all admit to ourselves that the pre-workout Deca-creatinase-noxi-pumpdrol we 20-something guys keep buying is not steroids? Neither is intra-workout aminovar XXL or the post-workout anabolic micro-ion nanotechno myostatic whey that promises to override our genetics and inject 150% more satellite cells into our muscles. I recently was at one of my bro’s apartments, and they had no less than a dozen different pre-workouts powders, fat burners, and proteins. Collectively, the cost was probably around $500 dollars. At that point, you might as well just say to hell with it and run a cycle of Test.

On the subject of supplements, I also don’t understand the logic behind purchasing ABCXYZ supplements and taking them religiously, but then continuing to eat like shit. Supplements are sexy and everyone likes to know what everyone else is taking, but no one seems to be interested in eating actual food. There is no point in downing your three periworkout shakes a day while snorting your pre-workout, and then driving through Wendy's (perhaps multiple times a day/week) to get your primary dose of solid food.

Periodization—stop believing it's complicated.

Periodization=having a plan. I was trying to explain the different methods of periodization to a colleague of mine. He had been a personal trainer for a number of years but had never studied any method of periodization (yeah, I know). Initially I confused the hell out of him, but then I realized that I needed to break it down even more. Luckily, I was able to draw upon my collection of Rooneyisms (to the credit of Martin Rooney). Periodization, at its most basic, is just a written PLAN FOR GETTING SOMETHING DONE. I then made him read every article in the “17 Articles Every Coach, Trainer, and Lifter should read.” Problem solved!

The training you do now will set the tone for the whole year. Simplicity equals effectiveness. Make your training effective and complication free and earn your gains for 2013.