Monday, August 30, 2010

New Blog!

I've integrated my blog into my website.  So, I'll no longer be updating it here.  All updates will be posted to

There you will find my write up from this weekend's Midwest Peformance Seminar along with lots of other cool stuff.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Things Your Trainer Is Getting Wrong part 2

It's about the program, not the workout

Too many times trainers are so interested in keeping their clients entertained that they lose sight of the end goal.  They forget that it's about the program, not the workout.  They are so concerned with doing the latest gimmicky thing to impress their customers that they forget about what is important.  What's important is getting results, not being flashy. 

Don't get me wrong, keeping your clients interested is definitely important, but it is also important to have a program in place that is both scalable and produces results. 

Flashy Fitness

Not so Flashy Fitness

See if you can figure out which facility I own.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Here's where your trainer may be getting it wrong. Part I

So the other day, one of my new clients gave me the idea of writing a blog post on things your trainer may be doing wrong.  As I started getting into it, it started to become quite longer than what I prefer a blog post to be.  It became more of an article. So, I decided to break the post into three sections.  Here's the first part of what your trainer is probably getting wrong.

Proper Assesment

Every program should start off with a proper assessment. If you don't have a starting point, you'll never know when you've made progress.  At Nunn's Performance Training, we do a movement screen (overhead squat and single leg squat), bodyfat test (or circumference measurement), bodyweight measurement, and a nutritional and lifestyle analysis.  Most fitness centers will do a pretty good job of the bodyfat, bodyweight, and lifestyle analysis, but they neglect the movement screen part.  This is mainly do to ignorance on the trainers part.  They probably don't understand the process of the screen or what to do with what they find during the screen.  During the movement screen, the trainers responsibility is to identify movement dysfunction so they can put a proper plan in place to address this and minimize injury to the client.  When doing the screen, the trainer should be identifiing which movement patterns they will have to regress for the client.  It is important for the trainer to realize that our job is first and foremost to NOT INJURE PEOPLE!  If a client is injured, they cannot train.  If they cannot train, they cannot get results, and anyone in this business will tell you that getting results is where the money is.

Here's an example of what a trainer may find during the initial assessment:

Posterior Pelvic Tilt

Notice in this picture, the client presents a posterior pelvic tilt.  She may be asymptomatic at the time, but it doesn't mean that she won't be in the future.  When the hips tuck under like that, the ligaments in the lumbar spine are stretched and more likely to cause pain and injury (i.e. herniated disc and/or stenosis).  Initially, squatting would not be a good choice for someone who presents this. 

The posterior tilt is just one of the many things that can be found during the screen.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Where do you get your information?

So, the other day, my wife and I were discussing fitness (who knew?) and she says that she is surprised with all of the misinformation in fitness given the abundant resources of the internet.  My response was that with all of the correct info on the internet, there is also a substantial amount of false information out there.  Pretty much any Joe Schmoe can shell out a couple bucks and have a website to spew false information.  I mean, after all, the shake weight has a website.

Anyway, I figured with this post, I would give the readers a bit of insight as to where to I get my information.  At least online anyway.  It's also important to note that the best way to learn is to actually get in the gym and do it!

Blogs I Read

Strength Basics - This blog has lots of useful information that includes book, article, and equipment reviews.  It's also updated daily, which is a good thing.

Mike Robertson's Blog - Plenty of good info on corrective exercise and strength training here.

Diesel Crew - All around awesomeness.

Eric Cressey - Lots of good information on corrective exercise and strength training.  Especially things baseball and shoulder related.

Thomas Plummer - Mainly a fitness business blog.  The best thing about this one is that he doesn't censor himself, and he's not afraid to step on toes.

Elite Fitness Systems - Not really a blog, but a good resource none the less.  They update the site with new articles several times a week.  I may be a bit bias to this one myself.


Strength Coach - is a pay site, but the $9.95 per month I pay to belong to it is well worth it.  Not only to you get access to some of the top strength coaches in the country, but the weekly articles are also great. - There are some pretty knowledgeable people on this forum.  There's also a place to log your workouts for comments and suggestions.

Marunde Muscle - Some of the strongest men and women on the planet post here.  Who else would you rather have answer your questions? 

These are just a few of the places I get information.  It's also important to remember, like I said earlier, that the most important place to find information is in the gym.  Also, I should point out that I am not an affiliate of ANY of the websites.  I do not receive any compensation from you clicking the links.  My motivation for posting them here is to share information.

Friday, July 30, 2010

More Reasons Women Should Lift Weights

So, I was doing some reading, and came across Charles Poliquin's blog titled "Why Women Should Not Be Afraid of Gaining Muscle" and thought it would be a great follow up to my previous post with some additional information. 

The biggest take home points for me were these two things:

  • According to Tufts University, the greater your muscle mass the greater the longevity potential. It is, in fact, the number one biomarker of longevity. It is a far better predictor of longevity than total cholesterol or blood pressure.

  • The more muscle you have, the more strength you have. This, according to the same researchers at Tufts University, is the number two predictor of longevity. For women, strength is empowering.
Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Girls should lift weights?

I have to say that the fitness industry is probably one of the most sexist industries out there. Walk into any “fitness” facility and you’ll see what I’m talking about. The men have the entire free weight section, while the women are told not to lift weights, that the weight lifting will make them bulky, or, if they do decide to lift weights, they are told to stick with the circuit machines and only do one set of twenty per body part with minimal weight. Anything other than this would turn them into the female version of the incredible hulk.

Obviously, this isn't the case.  Most of my adult clients come to me for two reasons - they want to lose weight and move pain free.  Basically, they want to look better naked and be able to pick up their child without having a disc explode.  So, what's the difference between men who want to look better in the buff and women who want the same thing?  Should there really be that much of difference in their programming?  No...sort of.  The biggest difference in programming women versus men is women are more likely to tear/sprain an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or subluxate a patella (kneecap).  This is due to the Q - angle of the femur.  Basically, a typical females hips are a little wider and shorter than a males.  This causes a natural valgus of the knees.  Valgus knees are the primary cause of the ACL and kneecap injuries.

Another important thing to remember when working with females is that, in many cases, if they've had children, their abdominal and pelvic floor musculature may be weak.  You may have to take the core progressions a bit slower with them.

So, keeping these two things in mind, there is no reason why women shouldn't use resistance training to achieve their goals.  That is losing fat, maintaining or increasing muscle mass, and increasing bone density.  Girls lift weights too, check it out:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Firefighter Strength and Why Crossfit Sucks!


The Firefighter Strength and Conditioning program’s primary purpose is to develop operational fitness for Firefighter and Rescue personnel. When developing a comprehensive strength and conditioning program, firefighters must consider the physical demands of operational related activities in order to optimize physical performance. Physical training for operational performance is not a new concept. In fact, throughout history warriors and soldiers physically trained by performing various strength and conditioning exercises that later evolved into athletic events, such as boxing, wrestling and many track and field events. However, unlike the modern day athlete, these soldiers were not training for specific sports. They were training to be stronger, and more powerful and agile than their enemies on the battlefield. Their superior athletic prowess was developed for the primary purpose of becoming physically prepared for battle. Ironically, the traits that we generally consider to be components of athleticism were requisite based on the demands of war. Thus, many of the first competitive athletes were actually soldiers.

The firefighter not only needs to devote time to improving operational skill but also must focus on improving operational strength, conditioning and/or nutrition. As with any professional athlete, a professional in the EMS community is obligated to maintain a certain level of “Operational Fitness”. By implementing the latest cutting edge training methods and fundamental scientific principles, the Firefighter Strength and Conditioning program focuses on enhancing athleticism for today’s Firefighters.

Click here to see the beginning of our progression for training firefighters.


Ok, before all the cultists start jumping all over me, Crossfit isn't THAT bad.  It just many flaws.  Too many for me to recommend anyone doing it.  Here's why I wouldn't recommend it:

No Progression - And sadly, no regression.  Crossfit doesn't have a progression or regression protocol for it's "coaches" to follow.  They just expect everyone to be proficient at the olympic lifts from day one. 

Doing Technically Challenging Lifts While in a State of Exhaustion - Many times the workout of the day (WOD) will have an olympic lift preceded by some long run.  It may be like:  run 200 meters then clean and press 135 pounds as many times as you can in 60 seconds.  My opinion, pre-exhausting yourself before doing a technically challenging lift is a recipe for disaster. 

Unqualified Coaches Teaching These Lifts - To be a Crossfit "coach", you must pay $500 for a one day workshop.  In this workshop, you spend the day learning to teach the methods and lifts in the Crossfit program (I use the term Crossfit program loosely, but more on that later).  Granted, they do have some of the best in the business at these workshops (Mark Rippetoe and Louis Simmons), but you can't learn enough in one eight hour workshop to be proficient at teaching these lifts. 

No Program - The slogan of Crossfit is "Increased work capacity over a broad domain."  To me, that sounds like be mediocre at everything and good at nothing.  It seems as though the WOD's are just made up on the spot with no thought given to periodization.  I think the people who write the WOD's focus on the workout and not the program.  The workouts just focus on being hard.  It's important for people to realize that just because something is hard, it doesn't means it's effective. 

Like I said earlier, Crossfit isn't that bad.  I am all for anything that gets people off the couch and moving.  I just fear that, with Crossfit, the risk far outweighs the reward.  The reason I made this a double post was that Crossfit really targets the Police/Fire/Military crowd and I felt as thought the two were pretty closely related.

  By the way, this is Crossfit's mascot, Pukie the Clown.  Sounds like something I want to be a part of. /Sarcasm

Friday, July 9, 2010

Jason, why don't we ever do situps or crunches?

This is kind of a follow up to my Core Training Progressions post.  For whatever reason, I've been asked several times this week by clients and others why we never do crunches, situps, or any other type of flexion exercise.  I've mentioned the fact that I threw these movements out of my training a couple years ago many times in this blog, but I guess I never really said why.  I've got a couple reasons for not doing these exercises.

My first reason goes back to the time when a guy named David Marmon hired me to be his graduate assistant.  I remember my first day on the job; I wanted to get my workout in.  Like a typical meathead, I went out and did some crunches, bench press, and bicep curls.  After my "gettin' swole" workout, I sat back down in the office expecting some praise and admiration for my superior workout skills, he greets me with "Why do you train that way?"  I was dumbfounded.  I thought I had all the answers when it came to things like getting stronger, fitter, leaner, and all around being more awesome.  He followed that with, "We train movements, not muscles."  I guess the idea of training movements, not muscles kind of stuck with me (even though we still did situps in our programming at the time).  Train movements not muscles.

So, taking the train movement not muscles approach, is bringing your sternum closer to your pelvis a movement you want to get better at?  Think about it.  When you squat, what are the coaching cues your hear?  Chest out.  Back flat.  Hips back.  Right?  Same thing with deadlifts and many other exercises.  Chest out.  Back flat.  The spine evolved to handle weight in the chest out, hips back position.  That's why we coach it that way.  Why would we want to get better in producing force in any other way?

We don't coach people to get better at being in the rounded back position.  So, why do they need to get better at it?

Secondly, the risk for injury when you flex the spine is high.  Dr. Stuart McGill has become famous for saying, "Wanna see a disc explode?  Keep flexing at the spine."  The torso musculature (rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, internal/external obliques, multifidus, diaphram, and pelvic floor muscles) was meant to transmit force, not produce it. 

So, we train the limb muscles (ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists) to produce force.  we train the torso musculature to act as a conduit and transmit force, not produce it.  Therefore, the stronger and more rigid we can make the conduit, the more force the body as a whole will be able to produce.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Do you olympic lift with your athletes?

The olympic lifts are the snatch and the clean and jerk.  They have many variations that include but aren't limited to the hang snatch, hang clean, power snatch, power clean, dumbbell cleans, dumbbell snatches, and many more.  They are all very explosive yet technically challenging total body lifts that are designed - in the sports performance world - to increase the athletes power production.  More specifically, to increase power production in triple extension (ankle, knee, and hip extension). 

Triple Extension

Obviously, this movement is the same movement an athlete goes through when they jump and sprint (a sprint is basically jumping from one leg to another).  These movements (especially the snatch) have been shown time and again to produce more power than any other movement you can perform in the weight room. 

*Newton, H.; Explosive Lifting for Sports; Human Kinetics; Champagne, IL; 2001; 17.

Given this, the olympic lifts are also very hard to teach and many coaches will say the potential for injury is high.  I'm not one of those coaches.  For me, it's more like, do I have time to teach them?  Some of the kids that come in to see me are maybe just a couple weeks out from their season.  For these kids, I'll usually implement a combination of plyometrics, med ball work, and weighted jumps simply because of the fact that I don't have the time to teach them the lifts.  On the other hand, if I get an athlete who is in their off season, and we have several months to work on them, of course we will have them olympic lift. 

So, do your athletes olympic lift?

It depends...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Core Training Progressions

So, I was reading through some of my older posts and realized that I speak quite often about my core training but actually do very little to let the readers know what this actually involves.  Like any other lift we do, there is a progression.  Most of my newbie clients cannot do an ab wheel rollout on day one - at least not correctly.  We must progress them into it.  The purpose of this post is to give a little insight how this progression works.

First, I'll give you a little background information.  The core is composed of the lumbar spine, the quadratus lumborum, the muscles of the abdominal wall (rectus abdominus and obliques), the back extensors, and multi joint muscles like the latissimus dorsi and the psoas.  You could also include the glutes in this group as well, since they are the main power producers and a synergist to the core muscles. 

The main function of these muscles is to cocontract.  Basically, they contract against one another to stiffen and support the lumbar spine.  I call this bracing.  This contrary to the popular belief that people must suck in the stomach to better support the spine (Not long ago, I believed this as well).  Sucking in actually decreases the stability of the lumbar spine! (Potvin, et al.) 

Now that we know the important functions of these muscles, we have to put together a program that trains them correctly.  The first thing I'm going to say is throw out crunches and sit ups.  Bringing the rib cage closer to the pelvis will only make back problems get worse.

Here at Nunn's Performace Training, we break our core training into three sections.  They are anti - flexion, anti - rotation, and anti - lateral flexion.  The progressions look like this:

Easy ---> Hard

Anti - Flexion
Quadruped Single Arm/Single Leg Raise ---> Quadruped Opposite Arm/Leg Raise ---> Prone Plank ---> Prone Plank + weight ---> Stability Ball Rollout ---> Ab Wheel Rollout ---> TRX Fallout

Anti - Rotation
Quadruped Single Arm/Single Leg Raise ---> Quadruped Opposite Arm/Leg Raise ---> Pallof Series (Half Kneeling/High Cable, Standing/Medium Cable, Standing/Low Cable)

Anti - Lateral Flexion
Quadruped Single Arm/Single Leg Raise ---> Quadruped Opposite Arm/Leg Raise ---> Side Plank ---> Side Plank + Weight ---> Pallof With Overhead Press

*We will probably be implementing suitcase deadlifts in the Anti - Lateral Flexion are in the near future.

Here's the video demonstration:


Potvin JR and Brown SHM.  An equation to calculate individual muscle contributions to joint stability.  J Biomech 38: 973 - 980, 2005

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Day In The Life...

I love my job - if you want to call it that.  So, don't take this post the wrong way.  I'm not trying to complain or get pity.  I chose this job, it certainly did not choose me.  I'm writing this post for two reasons.  First, I thought it would be interesting for people to see what a day is like for a person who trains people, writes a weekly blog, writes monthly training articles, and runs the business.  Secondly, I thought it would give anyone who was considering getting into the business a real understanding of what it takes to make it in the fitness game.  YOU HAVE TO WANT IT!!  So, here goes:

4:30am - My alarm goes off on my Blackjack and I stumble out of bed, quick shower and breakfast, and begin getting ready for the day.

It usually looks something like this.

5:00am - Arrive at my facility and begin getting my programs ready for the day.  I typically train between six and ten groups everyday.  I try to get most of the programs written for the day at this time.

5:30am - 10:00am - Groups begin to arrive.  The first group of the morning is a semi private group of three women with fat loss goals.  From 6:30am to 10am, I see a variety of people from soccer moms wanting to lose weight to fire fighters wanting to get better at their jobs.

10am - 2pm - This is usually my down time.  I use this time to grab lunch, workout, do boring business stuff (profit/loss sheets, marketing, attend business coaching classes), follow up with sales leads, and do continuing education.

I gotta keep this thing current.

2pm - 6pm - This is when most of my adult fitness clients begin to make their way over.  Again, most of these are in groups of 2 - 5, but I do have a few one - on - one clients at this time.

6pm - 8pm - This is the prime time for training athletes.  I have two AAU basketball teams and a few groups of mixed athletes (mainly football and soccer). 

8:30 - 9:30 -  I arrive home and eat a late dinner with the wife.  We usually end up discussing what went on in her day (she enjoys that).  Then, we'll usually head to bed about 9:30 or 10 and get ready to do it again tomorrow!

So, that's it!  Like I said this job has a lot of long days, but when I see the look on a client's face when they've lost 50lbs or shaved .5 off their 40 - time, it makes it well worth it!  They important thing is, you have to want it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A few things

1. Most people who suffer from low back pain lack hip and thoracic spine mobility. Typically when a joint causes pain.  The problem isn't in the joint itself, but the joints above and below.  For example, the lumbar spine isn't meant to be very mobile (only about 15deg of rotation and very little flexion/extension).  When a person lacks mobility in the hip and t - spine, the body will compensate by increasing mobility in the lumbar spine.  This is causes undo stress to the joint and it becomes inflamed. 

2. People need more anti rotation and anti extension work.  This is also a major cause of low back and knee pain.  Without a strong "core", the spine will have to bare most of the stress on the body.  This isn't good.  Do more planks, bridges, rollouts, and pallofs.

3. It's all in your head.  I just read this article on Tnation, and it really goes along with the things my training partners talk about all the time.  Mind games.  Many people will quit mentally before they quit physically.  For example, when doing a heavy yoke walk or walking a heavy squat out of a rack, it literally feels like the weight is CRUSHING you.  The trick is, to have that feeling of THAT weight on your back and not care.

4. Bad programs, not bad exercises.  I didn't come up with this term.  I can't member who did.  But, it can be applied to anyone who asks questions like:  Is squatting going to hurt me?  Benching?  Crunches?  Here's how I answer:  If you have poor hip mobility, don't squat.  If you have extremely long legs in relation to your torso (basketball players) don't squat.  If you find your self in the seated position for most of the day, don't bother with bench or crunches.  Simple enough?

There you have it.  Sorry, I know 4 is a weird number.  I'm out of time.  Gotta go make some kids faster!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Iron and the Soul

One of my favorite articles on lifting by Henry Rollins. 

Iron and the Soul

By Henry Rollins

I believe that the definition of definition is reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself. Completely.

When I was young I had no sense of myself. All I was, was a product of all the fear and humiliation I suffered. Fear of my parents. The humiliation of teachers calling me “garbage can” and telling me I’d be mowing lawns for a living. And the very real terror of my fellow students. I was threatened and beaten up for the color of my skin and my size. I was skinny and clumsy, and when others would tease me I didn’t run home crying, wondering why. I knew all too well. I was there to be antagonized. In sports I was laughed at. A spaz. I was pretty good at boxing but only because the rage that filled my every waking moment made me wild and unpredictable. I fought with some strange fury. The other boys thought I was crazy.

I hated myself all the time. As stupid at it seems now, I wanted to talk like them, dress like them, carry myself with the ease of knowing that I wasn’t going to get pounded in the hallway between classes.

Years passed and I learned to keep it all inside. I only talked to a few boys in my grade. Other losers. Some of them are to this day the greatest people I have ever known. Hang out with a guy who has had his head flushed down a toilet a few times, treat him with respect, and you’ll find a faithful friend forever. But even with friends, school sucked. Teachers gave me hard time. I didn’t think much of them either.

Then came Mr. Pepperman, my adviser. He was a powerfully built Vietnam veteran, and he was scary. No one ever talked out of turn in his class. Once one kid did and Mr. P. lifted him off the ground and pinned him to the blackboard.

Mr. P. could see that I was in bad shape, and one Friday in October he asked me if I had ever worked out with weights. I told him no. He told me that I was going to take some of the money that I had saved and buy a hundred-pound set of weights at Sears. As I left his office, I started to think of things I would say to him on Monday when he asked about the weights that I was not going to buy. Still, it made me feel special. My father never really got that close to caring. On Saturday I bought the weights, but I couldn’t even drag them to my mom’s car. An attendant laughed at me as he put them on a dolly.

Monday came and I was called into Mr. P.’s office after school. He said that he was going to show me how to work out. He was going to put me on a program and start hitting me in the solar plexus in the hallway when I wasn’t looking. When I could take the punch we would know that we were getting somewhere. At no time was I to look at myself in the mirror or tell anyone at school what I was doing.

In the gym he showed me ten basic exercises. I paid more attention than I ever did in any of my classes. I didn’t want to blow it. I went home that night and started right in. Weeks passed, and every once in a while Mr. P. would give me a shot and drop me in the hallway, sending my books flying. The other students didn’t know what to think. More weeks passed, and I was steadily adding new weights to the bar. I could sense the power inside my body growing. I could feel it.

Right before Christmas break I was walking to class, and from out of nowhere Mr. Pepperman appeared and gave me a shot in the chest. I laughed and kept going. He said I could look at myself now. I got home and ran to the bathroom and pulled off my shirt. I saw a body, not just the shell that housed my stomach and my heart. My biceps bulged. My chest had definition. I felt strong. It was the first time I can remember having a sense of myself. I had done something and no one could ever take it away. You couldn’t say **** to me.

It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was wrong. When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the Iron talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to resemble. That which you work against will always work against you.

It wasn’t until my late twenties that I learned that by working out I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can’t be as bad as that workout.

I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me: pain is not my enemy; it is my call to greatness. But when dealing with the Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn’t ready for and spent a few months not picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not prepared to and the Iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control.

I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect. I think a lot of inwardly and outwardly directed contempt passes itself off as self-respect: the idea of raising yourself by stepping on someone’s shoulders instead of doing it yourself. When I see guys working out for cosmetic reasons, I see vanity exposing them in the worst way, as cartoon characters, billboards for imbalance and insecurity. Strength reveals itself through character. It is the difference between bouncers who get off strong-arming people and Mr. Pepperman.

Muscle mass does not always equal strength. Strength is kindness and sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both physical and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind. And the heart.

Yukio Mishima said that he could not entertain the idea of romance if he was not strong. Romance is such a strong and overwhelming passion, a weakened body cannot sustain it for long. I have some of my most romantic thoughts when I am with the Iron. Once I was in love with a woman. I thought about her the most when the pain from a workout was racing through my body. Everything in me wanted her. So much so that sex was only a fraction of my total desire. It was the single most intense love I have ever felt, but she lived far away and I didn’t see her very often. Working out was a healthy way of dealing with the loneliness. To this day, when I work out I usually listen to ballads.

I prefer to work out alone. It enables me to concentrate on the lessons that the Iron has for me. Learning about what you’re made of is always time well spent, and I have found no better teacher. The Iron had taught me how to live.

Life is capable of driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes down these days, it’s some kind of miracle if you’re not insane. People have become separated from their bodies. They are no longer whole. I see them move from their offices to their cars and on to their suburban homes. They stress out constantly, they lose sleep, they eat badly. And they behave badly. Their egos run wild; they become motivated by that which will eventually give them a massive stroke. They need the Iron mind.

Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and the Iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the Iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind. The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it’s impossible to turn back.

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. 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.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Does "hard" equal effective?

I was recently talking with a perspective client, and they were telling me about how hard the workouts were that their previous trainer put them through.  This person felt that the workouts were effective because they were difficult.  Don't get me wrong, I love hard work.  Let me repeat that - I LOVE hard work.  But, only if it serves a purpose.  For instance, let's take two athletes.  I will spend an hour with athlete one working one his/her sprint technique.  Athlete two will spend the entire hour doing jumping jacks.  By the end of the hour, which one do you think got better?

Sometimes it's best to work smarter, not harder.

^^Trust me it's hard, but not very effective^^

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

You Can't See the Forest for the Trees

I recently read an article by Dave Tate on about how simple the rules are for weight loss.  He basically states that people need to EAT LESS AND MOVE MORE.  He basically states that people get so caught up in the minutia of dieting, that they miss the big picture.  Essentially, they cannot see the forest because the trees are in the way.  They get so caught up in low fat, no fat, no carbs, don't eat after 6:03PM, ect.  that they miss the big picture.  Which is STOP EATING SO MUCH.

Reading this article made me think about the fact that people do the same thing with exercise.   They make things way too complicated.  Here's a sample dialogue I recently had:

Lifter:  Should I be looking straight or up when I deadlift?

Me:  Squat down to the bar, pull it in to your shins, arch your back, and stand the weight up.  Just do what feels natural.

L:  But, looking several feet in front of me at the floor feels natural and (insert guru's name here) said I shouldn't do that.

Me:  (Inserts face into palm) Like I said, do what feels natural.

I was trying to be polite with this guy.  What I really wanted to say was, "Just shut up and pick up the stupid bar!"  My point is, don't get so caught up in the little things that you miss the big picture.  I can't remember who said it, but one of my favorite quotes on the matter is "Stop majoring in the minor things"

Funny video from the article:

Monday, April 26, 2010

Program Design

Ok, here's is a basic version of the program design that we here at Nunn's Performance Training do with our clients.  Obviously, we will individualize each program as much as possible, but here is a basic overview of what we do. 

Our programs are basically divided up into four phases.  They are:  General Physical Preparedness (GPP), Hypertrophy, Strength, and Power.  Let's start with a brief describtion of each.

GPP - GPP is basically what it sounds like.  We are getting you physically ready to DO WORK!  With most beginners, this will consist of a bodyweight circuit like this:

Do as many rounds as you can in 30 minutes:
Bodyweight Squats x 20
Pushups x 20
Pullups x 20
Split Squats x 20

From there, we would progress to a plate circuit like this one.

After that, we would go to a blast circuit like this one.

The length of time an individual would stay in this phase is dependant upon his or her fitness level.  If the individual has a very high fitness level, they may only stay in it for one week.  More deconditioned people may stay longer.

Hypertrophy - Hypertrophy means an increase in cell size.  Basically, we are trying to increase the individuals muscle mass.  Each workout will typically have anywhere from 6 to 8 exercises while doing 40 - 60 reps of each one.  (4 sets of 12, 5 x 10, 6 x 8, ect.)  The exercises are all multi - joint or compound movements like pushups, overhead press, pullups, squats, deadlifts, ect. as we are generally limited to an hour with each client.  We must get the most "bang for our buck"....Sorry, this means that we rarely do bicep curls.

Strength - Strength is exactly what it sounds like.  We are trying to get the person to move more weight.  The benifits of being stronger are tremendous.  Not only when will being stronger help you at your daily activities, it will allow you to use more weight while doing GPP work and therefore burn more calories.  The exercises during the strength phase will be similiar to those in the hypertrophy phase, but the main difference will be that the sets and rep schemes will be significantly lower.  (5 sets of 5 to 5 sets of 1)

Power  - Some people call this reactive training, some call it plyometrics.  Whatever you call it, the main idea is that we want you to produce as much power at you can as quickly as possible.  We will typically use some sort of bodyweight squat jump or medicine ball toss during this phase.  The weight used will be between bodyweight and 20% of bodyweight.

So, a beginner will go through this program by spending anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks in each phase.  It'll look similiar to this:

Once a client has been through the program once, we change it up a little.  They will begin to do their combine the the Power, Strength, and Hypertrophy phases with the GPP phase.  This will allow them to burn more calories, speed up their metabolism, and allow for less rest time between exercises which equals MORE WORK BEING DONE!  This is done by incoperating a Tabata or Blast circuit at the end of the session.  So, it looks more like this:


So, there you have the very basic short version of program design at Nunn's Performance Training.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Today's America

Sorry, I know this is the second time in three posts that I am ranting, but I really must get this off my chest.  This will probably be the least pollitcally correct post you will ever read on this blog.  If you have sensitive ears, I recommend you stop reading now!

America as a whole has gotten freakin' soft!  In my high school American History class, we learned about men who threw tea into rivers and got ripshit pissed about taxation without representation.  These men lived off the fruits and vegetables that were grown in their gardens and killed cows and chickens for their meats.  The leading cause of death at this time was influenza, not cancer, not heart disease, and not obesity.  The average female in the 18th century ate 5,000 calories per day and was not overweight!  What's the difference?  We have moved from a indutstrial and manual labor based workforce to a technology based one.  Basically, we have developed the techology to make things very easy and cheap.  Ever wonder why most sweet food is made with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and not sucrose?  Since 1957, HFCS has been a man made sweetening compound that is much cheaper to produce than any other natually occuring sugar.  You would think that this would throw up some red flags to some people at the time.  Fortunatly, it did.  Unfortunaly, noone listened.  Check this out:

Jack Lalanne was way ahead of his time.

More evidence of the softening of America.  Here's the actor who was choosen to play Conan in the new Conan the Barbarian movie:

WTF?! This the war machine that is Conan?!

Funny, because this is the way I remember Conan:

HUGE DIFFERENCE.  One is believable, one is not.

Oh, it doesn't stop there, look at the twilight series.  It promotes a culture of "Emo" softness.   Here is how I wish the movies would have ended:

^Sorry soft Emo's, Blade is coming!^

My advise,  trust in the truth.  Do not listen to heresay or any other fallicy.  Know where your fruits, vegetables, and meat come from and plan to live 120 years.  I will!

Firefighter Testimonial

Friday, April 9, 2010

Looking Cool

I was recently reading a blog post by Mike Robertson, and in his post he commented about how the fitness industry is getting it all wrong. They focus on things that “Look Cool” rather than getting results.

Here’s his post:

I feel like the fitness industry focuses way too much energy on the coolness factor and not on getting results. I know that standing on a Bosu Ball and doing rows looks cool, but it’s not going to do diddly poo for your fitness program.

^Looking cool, but not doing diddly poo^

Here at Nunn's Performance Training, we are the epitome of coolness. Check it out:

^Lots of coolness going on^

Hope you are catching the sarcasm.

Stay cool brah!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Are all sugars created equal?

A new study just released out of Princeton University states that high fructose corn syrup causes rats to gain significantly more weight than sucrose or any other type of sugar. Check it out. High fructose corn syrup is very cheap to manufacture, (notice I said “Manufacture”!) and is found in many processed foods like soft drinks, yogurt, industrial bread (not sure I want to know what “industrial” bread is), and certain types of dressings and soups. Interestingly enough, it is found in Gatorade’s G2 brand, but not the original. High fructose corn syrup has been shown to greatly increase risk for:

• Metabolic Syndrome
• Type II Diabetes
• High Triglycerides
• Increased Body Fat
• Cardiovascular Disease

Need more evidence, here it is:

Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes: Epidemiologic evidence.

Metabolic effects of fructose and the worldwide increase in obesity.

Soft drink consumption and obesity: it is all about fructose.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Quick Fixes

We've all seen these things:

How ridiculous

The truth is, there is no such thing as a quick fix. If you attempt to use one of these training systems, one of two things will happen:

A. The program is extreme enough to elicit these results, but it's not sustainable. So, as soon as you stop, the weight comes right back.

B. You won't get the results you were looking for and about half way through, you'll quit.

Either way, you lose. Also, have you ever noticed the disclaimer at the bottom of the advertisement? It always reads, "Results not typical"?!?! I prefer my method of training where results ARE typical. Check it out

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The 4 Stages of Mental Mastery

So, I was at a networking meeting earlier this week and heard a speaker mention the field of Neurolingistics Programing (NLP) and it reminded me of an old tnation article. It makes for a very interesting read. Check it out:

The 4 Stages of Mental Mastery
by Chris Shugart

4 People, 4 Stages


Seventeen year-old Jason bench presses four days per week. He does three sets of everything to "hit all the chest muscles" including flat, incline, decline, flyes, dips, and push-ups. His chest workout takes two hours to complete. Meanwhile, his entire back workout consists of three sets of pulldowns.

Jason is in stage one: Unconscious Incompetence.


Martin needs to lose 40 pounds. His love handles spill over his jeans and he's beginning to look eight months pregnant. Not a good look for a 35-year-old male. Martin hasn't seen a woman naked for a while.

But Martin is no idiot, and he's not lazy in the gym. He reads articles about diet and nutrition; he knows all about calories, macronutrients, TEF, satiety mechanisms, and the insulin index...

...but he eats tacos, french fries, and ice cream anyway.

Martin is in stage two: Conscious Incompetence.


Larry is in Hell. And Hell, for Larry, is his local Olive Garden, sitting with his wife and family.

In front of him is a basket of steaming hot, butter-glazed breadsticks. Unlimited breadsticks. All-you-can-eat. And Larry has been known to eat a lot of freakin' breadsticks.

To his left is the dessert menu, a laminated fantasy list of culinary porn. Across from him is his wife... who will no doubt order from that dessert menu after she deep-throats a whole basket of those glorious, garlicy breadsticks.

Larry lifts weights and eats right to support his goals. He's lost 20 pounds of lard and he plans to keep it off. But shit, those breadsticks are speaking to him! And what is that on the dessert menu? Black-tie cheesecake with a crust made of chocolate chips? Are you fucking kidding?!

But Larry will resist the fat-soaked flour and sugar-bomb dessert... barely. He's in stage three: Conscious Competence.


John is on vacation. Five days in Ochos Rios at an all-inclusive resort. Sweet.

After check-in, John heads to the gym to check it out. He'll need to train three times while on vacation to keep up with his schedule. This doesn't bother him. In fact, he's looking forward to it. What would bother him is missing a workout.

Next, he and his lovely companion for the week hit the buffet. John loads up on chicken breasts and vegetables and skips the mountain of "all included" desserts. This doesn't bother him either. He's anxious to see how the Jamaicans grill up his chicken. And after that long plane ride, he's salivating for something green and perfectly steamed.

John is in stage four: Unconscious Competence.

The 4 Stages Defined

Sometimes called the "Learning Ladder," the four stages illustrated above are borrowed from the field of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP). This concept has been applied to everything from success in business to success with bedding supermodels. Here's a breakdown:

Stage #1: Unconscious Incompetence – You're doing something wrong and you don't even know it. Blissful ignorance.

Stage #2: Conscious Incompetence – You're doing something wrong, you know it, but you either can't or won't change.

Stage #3: Conscious Competence – You're doing something right or productive, but it's a struggle. You make the right choices and do the things that will lead you to your goal, but it's a daily mental battle.

Stage #4: Unconscious Competence – You're doing everything right without really having to think about it. The right actions and decisions are now second nature.

Explication and Application for Physique Transformation

What can we learn from each stage? How can we progress to the last, most desirable stage? Let's find out.

Stage #1: Unconscious Incompetence

You're screwing up and you don't even know you're screwing up. Well, ignorance may be bliss, but it's also limiting and even destructive.

In the context of bodybuilding and physique transformation, this is often a newbie error. In the example above, 17-year-old Jason is just ignorant: He trains his chest and "mirror muscles" a lot more than he trains his back. He just doesn't know any better.

It's a common mistake, and most newbies learn pretty quickly to correct it. But there are exceptions...

The "Newbie-Vet"

Here's a guy who's been training for over a decade... and is still doing things incorrectly or suboptimally. In some cases this is caused from ingrained habits or the fear of stepping outside the comfort zone.

For example, the newbie-vet may always start his chest/back workout with the bench press and always use a narrower grip because he's a triceps bencher. It would be best if he sometimes began his workout with back training and switched up his grip. But he does it the way he's always done it. It's a habit he doesn't even realize he has, and it could be holding him back or causing imbalances.

This behavior is reinforced because he can bench a lot more with his grip choice. He's comfortable and emotionally safe; his ego is gratified... but his chest development may be suffering since the close grip isn't optimal for pecs. All of this, however, is below his level of conscious awareness. He's stuck in stage one, even though he's been training for years.

The Cure

The cure for unconscious incompetence is often a combination of several things. Education can cure some of it. If you're going to lift weights your whole life, crack a frickin' book occasionally and read this site.

There are 40-somethings out there training the same way their coach showed them in the 8th grade. Unless your coach's name was Vince Gironda, there just might be better ways to train for your current physique goals.

Next, seek an outside push. Get a coach and do what he says. Or adopt a program that's very different than how you've been training: different exercises, different sets and reps, etc.

Force yourself out of your comfort zone. You can't grow and progress without challenge and pressure. A diamond without pressure is a piece of fucking coal.

Even the best coaches, trainers, and nutrition experts in the world seek the teachings of others. Funny how Charles Poliquin and Dave Tate are open to the info and coaching of others in the field, while some shipping clerk on a forum thinks he's a training expert with nothing else to learn. And by "funny" I mean pathetic and sad.

For physique transformation and aesthetic bodybuilding, the cure for unconscious incompetence may involve a photo or video. How many times have "big" guys seen a photo of themselves and suddenly realized that half of their bigness is really just fatness? It's a harsh wake-up call, a cruel but beneficial slap in the face.

Stand up now and take an unflexed, non-sucked-in pic of yourself.

Hint: If you are, at this very moment, thinking of a dozen excuses why you're not going to do this, then what is that telling you?

The lesson here is to force the awakening. Step out of the comfort zone, learn something new, and apply it. There's no excuse for unconscious incompetence.

Stage #2: Conscious Incompetence

You know you're screwing up, but you screw up anyway. In the example in the intro, Martin knew what his problem was and he knew what he had to do to fix it... he just didn't do it.

This is perhaps the most common stage. For example, fat people generally know why they're fat. No one really thinks that fast food and junk food is good for them. Ignorance isn't the issue. Most fatties are conscious of their problem and the things that cause their problem, but they're incompetentbecause they choose not to do anything about it.

This isn't just a fault of the typical, electric scooter riding, Wal-Mart land whale. It can affect the avid gym-junkie as well. He may know that a deep squat is the best exercise for his particular goals, but he doesn't do it often. It's hard, and he's embarrassed at the load he has to use compared to the half-squat in the Smith machine. He's consciously being incompetent.

He may also know that a properly formulated post-workout drink would greatly accelerate his progress, but he chooses to spend his money on video games and $4 Starbucks coffees instead.

Conscious incompetence is often justified by the individual who's choosing to screw up. He can't squat because he has a bad knee. After all, he tweaked it once playing freeze tag in the first grade. And he can't buy a post-workout drink because it's too expensive. Apparently, $4.25 is fine for a morning coffee, but $2.06 is way too much for a workout drink that would accelerate his gains.

This is known in the field of psychology as rationalization: the process of creating false but plausible excuses to justify negative behavior. I prefer my definition: self-bullshitting.

The Cure

So how do we fix conscious incompetence? I think this is the biggest issue in the fields of health, fitness, and bodybuilding. How do we help people do the things they already knowthey should be doing? It's like a Zen koan or something.

The solution is probably book-length, but a good first step is to understand the concept of rationalization since this is the most common roadblock. Once you see yourself rationalizing – making excuses to help yourself feel better – it's hard to un-see them. Learning to recognize this ego-defense mechanism was the single most important factor in helping me win the battle against obesity back in college.

The second part of the solution for many people is anger – self-directed anger. Those who fail to achieve their goals are often too soft on themselves. They console themselves, make thin excuses, and reward themselves at every opportunity when they don't really deserve it.

Boo fucking hoo. Get over yourself and get pissed. Recognize rationalization, accept that you're consciously making bad training or dietary decisions, and get mad. Only then can you make it to stages three and four.

Stage #3: Conscious Competence

You know what to do, and by golly you're doing it. But man, it's difficult. Every friggin' day is a struggle. You have to really concentrate and work at it.

In our example, we talked about Larry, the poor schmuck stuck at The Olive Garden and trying to order the salmon and veggies while breadsticks and dessert carts are being rolled out in front of him. Larry resists, but it's not easy. He secretly hates those people who "just don't like sweet desserts." He likes desserts, a lot, but he chooses to reach his fat loss goals instead.

Larry is competent. He's making the right decisions, but he has to be conscious of it; he has to work at it. Hard.

The Cure

Most experienced Testosterone readers probably find themselves stuck in the stage of conscious competence. And that's not a bad thing really. They aren't failures at all, but the daily grind and struggle make it easy to slip back to stage two.

Time is often the cure. Avoid shitty foods long enough and you won't want them anymore. Sometimes this can be done in as little as 21 days: a time period most behavior experts agree it takes to kick a habit.

With diet goals, that means that cold turkey is best. Let's take that 21-day example literally (although there can obviously be differences among individuals and individual habits). Okay, so if you avoid fried food for at least 21 days, you'll begin to lose your taste for it. But what if you have a cheat meal of fried food once per week, you know, 'cause you "deserve it" and it "replenishes glycogen or somethin'"?

Well then, you never reach 21 days of cold turkey, do you? In fact, you reinforce the negative behavior by making it special – a reward for being good all week.

Don't worry, he's just restarting his metabolism and filling his glycogen stores.

The alcoholic doesn't kick booze by rewarding himself with a 12-pack every Saturday. Food addictions work the same way, which is why I now disagree with the idea of all-out cheat meals.
Compliance to a training regimen can work the same way. Not many people enjoy leg training right away... or even a few years later. But you do it long enough and suddenly you don't want to miss a leg day. This is often related to the second progression method: reward.

It's simple: We're likely to repeat those behaviors that reward us. Once a woman grabs your ass and gives you a subtle compliment like, "I want to leave scratch marks on here, stud-boy," well, suddenly squats, deads, and lunges aren't that bad anymore. You've been rewarded, and you aren't about to atrophy those glutes by skipping leg training day.

The more we do things right, the more rewards we receive, and the longer we keep doing things right. Time and reward: the keys to making it past stage three.

Stage #4: Unconscious Competence

Now you're a "natural." You do the right things almost instinctively.

Our example guy, John, has no problem training and eating right, even on vacation. He prefers it. Bad foods not only hinder his progress, they make him feel awful. He'd rather feel good (reward). And he'd rather not miss a workout; he loves working out! Missing a workout would be punishment.

But John isn't thinking about any of this. He's unconsciously competent. He's making the best decisions because hard training and good dietary habits are who he is now.

To outsiders, he's a natural; maybe they even think he was "blessed with good genetics." But the truth is that John worked his butt off to reach level four. His behaviors, his patterned responses (sometimes called "engrams") are now part of his identity, his personality. He doesn't struggle to make the right choices, he just does... easily.

The Wrap

Hopefully this article was a "thinker" for you. It didn't say to train a certain way or adopt a certain diet, but it gives you some things to think about and apply to your own goals.

You may be consciously incompetent in some areas of your life and unconsciously competent in others. Recognize that and seek to progress from the lower stages where applicable.

The four stages of the learning ladder can be applied to any aspect of your life. It takes work to reach level four, and mental work can be harder than physical work. But it's also the missing element in most people's game.

Stage 4 is waiting.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Random Thoughts

1. In the book Clinical Application of Neuromuscular Techniques: Volume 1, the authors state that individuals with congenital hypermobility are more likely to suffer from panic attacks and anxiety. This reaffirms my belief that yoga instructors are complete whack jobs.

2. People still don't get it. I just signed up a new client who pronates her feet, and her knees valgus when she squats. Her chiro's remedy for this was to assign some band resisted plantar flexion exercises. I'm pretty sure my jaw hit the floor. I referred her here. The biggest problem with most people is they try to compartmentalize everything to fix it. The body was meant to work in a synergistic fashion. Our bodies do not function in isolation and our approach to training should reflect that.

3. People don't like change. If you tell a serious lifter (or anyone for that matter) that everything they are doing is wrong, you'll turn them off faster than a light switch. Subtlety is the key here. Encourage people to make small changes, not big ones.

4. People in the fitness industry are pretty weird. Having spent all of my adult life in the industry, I'd have to say that the fitness has some pretty weird folks. Don't believe me? Do a google image search for personal trainer and see what pops up. It isn't pretty. Makes me wonder what kind of people get into this profession of mine!


5. It takes a lot of guts to start your own business. Seriously, if you are just starting a business then it most likely will not have any "business credit". This means that you will sign a personal guarantee on everything. It's usually a pretty intimidating proposition.

6. Not only does it take guts to open a business, most of the people will try to talk you out of it. This kind of goes along with #5. Everyone and their brother will try to talk you out of it or tell you the horror stories. I heard everything from "You're a good trainer, but are you sure you have the business skills?" to "You'll never make any money in this economy." I say screw them! If you have a solid business plan, have done good research, and hired an accountant, you should be good to go. Go get 'em!

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” - Mark Twain

7. On February 27th, 2003, Mr. Rodgers died. It was a sad, sad day in the neighborhood.

8. Being overweight causes more than just cardiovascular problems. In a study done here. The researchers found that being overweight causes people to have a greater risk of rotator cuff tendonitis. Also, in a study found here, researchers found that they could reduce the occurence of knee problems by having their subject lose weight.

9. In 1938, Adolf Hitler won Time Magazine's man of the year award. Seriously?! Check it here. I bet they wish they could take that one back!

10. High intensity resistance training paired with weight loss will improve glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes. Well duh!

Thank you for reading my random thoughts!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Get Started Today!

"I'm going to start going to the gym, but I would really like to lose some weight first."

This is actually a line I've heard several times! People are always in search of the "perfect" time to start a fitness program. It's always "I'll start when my kids are back in school." Or "I'll start when work slows down." The bottom line is there is never a perfect time to start your fitness program. There will always be obsticals. The kids will always get in the way. Work will always be busy. There may even be a little snow on the ground (insert sarcastic gasp here). Whether your goal is fat loss, getting stronger, increasing muscle mass, or just looking better naked; the perfect time to start your program is, and will always be, RIGHT NOW!

"The most important key in achieving great success is to decide upon your goal and launch, get started, take action, move." - John Wooden

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chocolate Milk as a Post Workout Supplement?

The benefits of post workout drinks have been known for many years. The ingestion of a carbohydrate/protein mixture within thirty minutes of working out has been shown time and again to increase the body’s ability to recover from exercise. The problem is that supplement companies have taken this knowledge ran with it. They have pretty much flooded the market with their version of recovery nutrition. So, a very common question I get, as a personal trainer, is “What kind of recovery supplement should I take?” People are usually shocked when I tell them to save their money and go get some chocolate milk! Think about it, what’s present in most post workout shakes? I’ll tell you: High glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates and fast absorbing protein. Hmmmm kind of sounds like chocolate milk to me! The only difference being the milk protein (casein) is a slower absorbing protein, but that has not been proven to be significant. The most important thing you get from the drink is the carbs anyway.

To further prove my point, I would like to show you this. The study was performed on cyclists and compared chocolate milk to a carb replacement drink (I’m assuming it’s something like Gatorade or Powerade) and a fluid replacement drink (pedialyte?). Here’s another article in which the author compared chocolate milk to Biotest’s Surge Recovery Drink. For recovery and price, chocolate milk won on both occasions. The only area where Surge was superior was convenience. Most people don’t like carrying milk around in their gym bag.

Here’s another way to look at it: These two didn’t have Biotest or Waxy Maize and they seemed to do just fine!