Friday Distractions

Friday Musings: Butt Jump Roping, Pet Peeves, Star Wars A Cappella, Mentoring, etc.

1. The other day I had programmed some low volume jump roping for one of the girls, Paula, at SAPT. Upon watching her first session, it was quite evident that she was no foreigner to jump roping, so Coach Kelsey looks over at her in passing and and says, "You know, you're pretty good at those." To which Paula responds, "Well, I can also jump rope on my butt. So, using my feet isn't really that big a deal."

Obviously Kelsey and I had to see this stunt for ourselves, and asked her to perform a few reps. Needless to say, she knocked it out of the park, and it was the first time anyone in SAPT ever did anything like this:

2. Chris Romanow once told me, in a joking-but-not-really-joking tone, that the majority of people's goals (moving better, looking better, athletic performance, fat loss, remaining injury free, ruling the world, etc) could be solved by a healthy, regular dose of goblet squats and spidermans.

And the more I coach people and do these things myself, I'm right there with him. My personal contribution to the list would be loaded carries and kettlebell swings.


Do those four movements, multiple times a week and you're set.

3. These need to be posted at every youth sporting event. *Everywhere. I slow clap those that created and posted this sign:

4. A few of my pet peeves, in no particular order:

1. Morning People. More specifically, morning people who insist on talking to you within one hour of your morning awakening.

The morning should be used for three to four things: Enjoying a quality cup of coffee, spending some time on reflection (on what, that is up to you), reading, and perhaps pooping if that's what schedule you're on. Notice that talking is not on the list. Just because you are a morning person doesn't mean that the person that happens to be in the same bedroom/house as you likes to discuss the world's problems first thing in the A.M.

The only exceptions to this rule are A) If you're my wife (I love you, babe), and B) If I wake up past 10AM. People have every right to talk to me if I ever get out of bed that late.

2. When you're (manually) doing dishes and the cup/glass isn't large enough for your hand to reach all the way to the bottom, so you end up standing there, pinching your knuckles and skin into the glass, trying to stretch out your fingers with the sponge to barely reach the bottom.

3. When you're wearing socks and you step in something wet.

4a. People who don't turn right on red. More specifically, when you're driving down a two-lane road, and the person in front of you changes lanes into the right lane before the turn you need to make, but of course the light turns red so they end up blocking you for the next two minutes. Stay in the other lane and be considerate, dang it.

4b. Drivers who don't use their turn signal. I swear you could cut me off in traffic, but if you're using your signal, hey, you're good in my book.

4c. Those who won't get out of the left lane. I don't think I need to explain this any further, do I?

5. Extroverts. Why do you people always need to be around me and talking to me?!? Can't a man get some alone time around here? AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

6. People who squeeze the toothpaste tube in the wrong spot. You know who you are.

7. Overhead kettlebell swings. Wow....just, wow.....please stop.

8. Cracking knuckles. Makes me want to crawl into the fetal position each time I hear it. Never done it, don't plan on it any time soon.

9. When you're at a restaurant, and you finally achieved the perfect water temperate by getting the ice:water ratio just right, and the waiter comes along out of the blue, merrily filling up your glass without asking, completely screwing up everything you've worked so hard for.

10. Country music. 'Nuff said there.

5. I have no idea who this guy is, but can you say awesome? Here he does a a Star Wars themed, four-part a cappella musical tribute set to a few cinematic themes by composer John Williams.

Corey - If you live in the area, I'll give you a free assessment and coaching session for putting this together. Our address is 3831 Pickett Road, Fairfax, Va.

6. Read this article by Jim Wendler:

Mentoring Wendler

Here's a quick preview:

Towards the end of my senior year, I finally asked Darren why he never spoke to me during my first year in the weight room. And it was this lesson that I have taken with me in all areas of my life. His answer:

"Because you hadn't earned it. I've written hundreds of programs and helped so many kids and teachers with their training – and almost all of them quit after the first week. I had to see if you were going to stick with it. I had to see if you were serious. I'm not going to waste my time or my energy."

We all have someone like Darren in our lives. Unfortunately, few people are receptive to it or exhibit the will, heart, and resolve to show them that they deserve their attention.

I know because I see it around me daily. I see kids and lifters that ask questions and think they want to be great and strong, but always fall short of the small amount of commitment it takes to prove themselves. Everyone wants a handout rather than earn it. - Jim Wendler

Such awesome words of truth spoken by Jim Wendler here. I'm not sure if it's just me but it seems that the most recent generation seems to feel, for some odd reason, that they're the center of the universe, and that nothing can ever be their fault. If they didn't accomplish something or if they messed something up, there's an obvious excuse, right?

On top of that, I seem to experience more and more conversations with individuals who do wayyy too much talking, and too little listening.Well spoken, Jim.

7. This article is very cool, and definitely worth scrolling through all the pictures.

21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity

I first learned about "The Bystander Effect" in a sociology course in college, and Tony Gentilcore actually wrote a great, quick piece about it HERE. Learning about such incidents always make my heart drop a bit, and question the general tendency that humans learn toward at times.

Scrolling through the pictures in the linked article definitely helped temper the "cynicism" of humanity that occasionally shrouds my thought processes. Ah, there is hope in the world!

That's all for now, have a great weekend everyone.

*Except for the sporting events of my future kids. **They're obviously the exception and need to open up a big can of you-know-what on their opponents.

**That's a joke***.


Friday Distractions 4/20/12: Instant Strength via Bracing, To Foam Roll or Not to Foam Roll, etc.

1. First, I'd like to thank all those that emailed me (per my call for aid last Friday) to give me some suggestions for blog material. Given that I've been experiencing plenty of writer's block lately, it was much needed, and I thank you for taking the time to write with your suggestions! (you can thank the "suggestion box" for my post on Wednesday re: what you should eat/drink after your workouts.) For those of you who didn't write me with suggestions of material you want to see here on SAPTstrength....there will be pain....oh, there will be pain.....

2. Here is a fantastic video by Bill Hartman on the "right" way to breathe before a heavy set of squats or deadlifts to effectively brace your midsection and provide plenty of stability for your precious lumbar spine. Although he gives the demo with respect to wearing a belt, you can certainly use this technique even if you don't use a belt.

Although Bill doesn't necessarily showcase it in the video above, he is one smart dude. He's forgotten more things than I have learned, and he's one of those guys that I really wish would put more content out on the internet for us mere mortals/peons to learn from. I've seen a few of his presentations, which basically knocked my socks off.

In fact, I'd argue that one of the toughest (yet vitally important) things, for me personally, is to coach people on bracing correctly during a heavy lift. It's just very difficult to teach someone to do it properly and to get them to do it every time. Bracing properly basically ranks just below ingesting water and food within the hierarchy of needs of human survival. Maybe a slight exaggeration, but I often find that once someone learns to adequately brace, all of a sudden they find that their back stops hurting during squats and deadlifts, and they're able to move heavier and heavier weight in an effective and safe manner.

Hint: If your chest and shoulders are elevating as you brace, you have some work to do.

3. Over the past month or so a blog post (actually written a few years ago) titled "Get off the Foam Roller" began to spread through the fitness industry like wildfire. Mike Boyle then wrote a rebuttal to the article on (a paid subscription website), but then released it for free on his blog.

Anywho, while you will still find me on the foam roller for the time being, here are two sides of the debate in case you're interested (the first two links are "against" the foam roller and the last link is the argument "for" the foam roller:

Get Off the Foam Roller - Mike T Nelson Stop Foam Rolling Your IT Band - Greg Lehman Is Foam Rolling Bad for You? - Michael Boyle

5. THIS was kinda funny. I'm sure a lot of you can relate to at least a few of the images representing moments in your life where it's an "Ahhh crap" moment. #16 and #18 were probably the funniest for me. (The link takes you to "The 21 Absolute Worst Things in the World" picture-based article.)

That's it for now....hope everyone has an awesome weekend.

Friday Musings 4/13/12: Powerlifting Meet, Baseball, Sheep Shipping, and Something You Can Help Me With

1. I'm really excited to head down to Richmond tomorrow morning to support Coach Ryan, as well as student-athlete Carson, in their powerlifting meet tomorrow as they throw some heavy things around. Ryan wrote a brief write-up on his meet prep, along with including a video of his opening attempts, HERE if you're interested. We're also really pumped to support Carson, who, as a HIGH SCHOOLER no less, has been training his butt off and will boldly be stepping out on to the platform for his first powerlifting meet ever. Carson trains more intensely than just about anyone I know, and I have no doubt he's going to do well.

There are also two other things that make me excited about my trip to Richmond. The first is that I'll have a chance to hang out with my older brother and his fiancee, to catch up and all that good stuff. With regards to the second reason I'm excited about my trip to Richmond....well, something that not many of you may know is that I have a little side business in the sheep shipping market. It will be interesting to see if I can gather any new customers (needing sheep for pets, bodyguards for the house, or training for the sheep fight club) during my stay outside my usual sheep-shipping  grounds of Northern Va.

2. This past Tuesday, Kelsey and I had the privilege of getting to watch a lot of our high school athletes battle it out in a baseball game (Yorktown vs. Washington-Lee). The one frustrating component of working as a strength coach is the fact that you have to work evenings, which is the very same time that most of the (high school) games take place, so it's always tough to find a game one of our athletes are playing in that we can actually attend.

Last night, we were able to see a ton of SAPT athletes get after it:

  • Red Dowdell (home run)
  • CJ Herold (home run)
  • David Palmer
  • Bennett Nagurka
  • Daniel Whitaker (3 for 3 and a two-run triple)
  • Graeme Fineman (pitching as a freshman on Varsity)
  • Lucas Dolan
  • Andrew Long (pitching as a sophomore on Varsity)
  • Justin Snow (two hits and four RBI)
  • Seth Whitmore (doubled)
  • Luke Fichter (two hits)

Needless to say, it was awesome to see the guys "in their element" outside the walls of the weight room, getting after it on the field. We look forward to similar/related opportunities in the future!

3. We recently started a newsletter for all our "in-network" SAPT people, and we're working on making it so that any of you reading can sign up for it on the website (I know I know, we're behind the ball a bit), so stay tuned! With this we're hoping to provide training tips, news updates, and content that we don't post on the blog.

4. Lastly, I've been experiencing a bit more "writer's block" than usual lately.

Normally, even though I definitely don't consider myself a "writer" per se, when I open my laptop to write, ideas flow to me fairly seamlessly (at least that's what I like to tell myself). Lately though, I've been in a rut where I just can't seem to get my thoughts together and/or choose a topic that I'm satisfied with.

As such, if any of you would like to see any particular topics covered here on the blog, please let me know!

Feel free to drop something in the comments section, or email me ( with, really, anything.....that may interest you to see discussed on here.

Steve & Kelsey Compete in a Wife Carrying Contest

I just returned from a trip to Pennsylvania and was trying to think of a very brief yet entertaining blog to post before heading into SAPT for the day. What immediately came to mind was to share a snippet of something AWESOME that Kelsey and I got to participate in last weekend: A wife carrying contest. What are these weird and wild things I speak of, you ask?

Well, some good friends of ours are getting married, and, instead of holding a women-only bridal shower (which is typically done....I think...) as part of the pre-wedding festivities, the couple wanted to have a large group, co-ed get together. Since their goal is to move to Finland after they get married, they desired to host a Wife Carrying Contest in honor of the national game of Finland.

Needless to say, the event was hilarious, fun, and challenging all at the same time (more than one couple took a spill upon the man tripping and falling headfirst).

Annnnddd......Kelsey and I took the gold medal, so you can rest assured your SAPT coaches did you proud! (Kelsey wrote a post on training for a wife carrying contest HERE, if you're interested)

Fortunately, someone grabbed an action shot of us, so I have proof that I'm not making this entire contest up:


"Why are you carrying Kelsey upside down like that" is probably the question you are asking me. Well, there are typically four ways to carry the woman (piggyback, over-shoulder, fireman carry, and upside down), and since the upside down method is the one typically used by the national champions in Europe, I figured I'd be foolish not to carry Kelsey like that. Naturally.

Here are a few wife carrying contest rules:

  • The course has two dry obstacles and one water obstacle (typically a meter deep).
  • The minimum weight of the wife to be carried must be 108lbs. If the wife does not weigh this much, then she must wear a backpack/rucksack on her to make her weigh at least 108lbs.
  • The contestants only run the race two at a time (so you only have two couples running at once). The best time is then taken to determine the winner.
  • The winner receives the wife's weight in beer.
  • And, perhaps my favorite: The wife to be carried may be your own, the neighbor's, or "you may have found her farther afield", but she must be at least 17 years of age.

I'm heavily considering traveling to Maine (the North American wife carrying contest is held up there) to do this because, well, I don't think I really need to explain why this would be so epic.

Anyway, I'm done for now, hope you all have a great weekend.

Stuff to Read 3/29/12

21 Exercises For Injury Free Mass - by Bret Contreras

Here Bret makes a solid case for the fact that not all lifters are created equal, and that their exercise selection should reflect this. Yes, squatting is good for many of us, but what if you're beat up? What could you use in place of it to receive a similar strength, size, and hormonal response?

Don't get me wrong, I'm near dogmatic about the fact that a host of human issues - world hunger being one of them - could be solved with a healthy dose of squatting and deadlifting, but this article really resonated with me as sometimes we tend to "shove square pegs into round holes" in our training, instead of swallowing our pride and training SMART when the time/circumstance calls for it.

It's All About the HIPS: Kettlebell Swings! - by Kelsey Reed

Here Kelsey gives an awesome write-up on one of the most excellent booty-scultpin' exercises out there. She covers everything from learning the swing to how to implement it into your training.

Definitely a must read, as I can't tell you how many people have told me they've hurt their backs as a result of poor kettlebell swinging. Get those HIPS involved yo!!

A Strength and Conditioning Coach’s Take on Social Media - by Ryan Wood

Ryan Wood delivers a guest post on regarding the importance of social media for strength coaches and personal trainers. As Alwyn Cosgrove once told me at one of his small business coaching seminars that I attended, "You coaches and trainers may be great at training people, but suckwhen it comes to the marketing and business side of the equation."

Not to mention, for you strength coaches and trainers in the crowd looking for some advice on how to use social media, to your advantage and to its fullest potential, I HIGHLY recommend you keep up with what Lisa is doing with her new business over at Agility Social Cues. She REALLY knows her stuff when it comes to marketing, and is tossing out tons of free knowledge bombs over at her website on a weekly basis.

Not to mention, she walks the walk of picking up heavy things. Need I say more? Do yourself a favor and head over there.

.....That's it. Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Random Friday 12/9/11

Here are some various links and videos you can use to entertain yourself until you break free of the office this afternoon... 1. First, in case you missed them, here the posts from earlier this week:

Chinup PRs and Newton's 2nd Law --> Here I discuss why focusing on the acceleration of the movement might just be the piece missing in your quest for strength. Also, you get to see my wife hit a +45lb chinup personal best, along with why F=ma helped her get there.

Elbow Pain? I've Got Your Fix --> Sarah does a great job discussing some causes-->solutions of the oh-so-pervasive elbow pain in our society of office workers and athletes alike.

Is Exercise Selection Really the Most Important Programming Variable? --> An understanding (or lack thereof) of this concept is definitely something that separates the men from the boys (or women from the girls, so to speak) when it comes to writing effective strength and conditioning programs.

My Attempt at Poetry --> If you're looking for some light Dr. Seuss-ish reading material, coach Romo wrote a fairly lengthy poem on an athlete achieving her first bodyweight pullup.

2. The Contreras Files, Volume 1

Some great stuff in here. Bret Contreras does a fantastic job taking research re: glute activation, hip hinging, bench pressing, you name it...and translating it in a way that makes it easy to understand for coaches and lifters alike. Check it out HERE.

3. Here is my awesome cat, Oops. As you can see, she is part polar bear, part tiger. The perfect crossbreed.

4. Wow. And I thought I was decent at pullups....

6. The more I use them, the more clear it becomes that people need to be doing Bulgarian Goat Belly Swings before they progress to anything else in the weight room. More on this later though.

Have a great weekend everyone.