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Part 2 Training Essentialism: 4 Tips to Improve Workout Consistency

In our last post we covered a few things. First, we covered the most important parts of your workout, the 80/20 if you will, that give you the most bang for your buck. Training for one goal while ensuring progressive overload in the major movements is key to long-term results. If you haven’t read part one What Every Workout Needs please do so now. 

Moving on– here’s how to workout consistency. Knowing what to do is great, but a plan is 100% useless unless you take actionable steps to get’er done.

The biggest problem affecting your training isn’t exercise selection, sets, reps, weights, or even your motivation. Those are all important, but the problem is more simple than that.

What do you think it is?




Workout consistency. I don’t mean consistency in the sense that you’re unwilling to put in the time; rather, you gnaw off a bigger chunk than you can chew. Your determination exceeds what your capable of each day. You have a job, school, family obligations,  a million projects and people vying for you attention and time. If it were possible, you’d run on 28-hour days to fit everything in.

Sound familiar?

Training four or five times per week with strength work, mobility, and conditioning is great, but sometimes it’s impossible to do everything. Instead of the perfect plan you need a plan that’s focused on your goal while accounting for the constraints of your life. Small wins accumulate big over time. That’s why the best coaches start grand goals on a small scale–the best path is taking small, progressive victories to get big results.

It’s like a drive in Football, unless you’re the Raiders: Four yards, two yards, five yards, first down. Another first down and then it hits—big play touchdown! Progress is the most effective form of human motivation—to get success need to set yourself up for success with the right play calls.

how to improve workout consistency

Improving Workout Consistency

With the following tips you’ll have everything you need to focus on your goals plus the motivation and attention to reach them. Information is only as good as how you use it. Grab a pen, piece of paper, and customize your goals to the following tips. You’ll set yourself up for huge gains in the gym and eliminate the guilt of missing workouts.

1. Know what you’re capable of Doing Consistently 

If you have kids at home, a job that requires 60 hours per-week, and long work trips planned then a five-day per week body-part split over the next two months isn’t practical. Instead, budget the time that you’ll be able to get to the gym under any circumstance. Move to a total body routine and hit the major muscles in each workout for 2-3 workouts per week. Add in 20 minutes of sprints one day and a walk a few more places. The program isn’t 100% perfect for your goal, but a program performed with focus and intensity consistently will beat the perfect program performed sporadically every time.

Know what you’re cable of doing and execute.

2. Forget about Tomorrow

Being overwhelmed with responsibilities make it difficult to get your training in. Today’s workout becomes, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” There’s always tomorrow and another day. Problem is, the “tomorrow” mindset becomes next week, and suddenly, you haven’t hit the gym in six days. Focus on the now and win the day.

3. Schedule Training like an Appointment

Treat exercise like an obligation as you would a meeting at work and stick to it. The biggest, baddest dudes in your gym make exercise a priority no-matter what. Once you add workouts to your calendar and block time off they become part of your routine. When others come up look at your schedule—are the mandatory?
If not, turn it down or move it to another time.

Your workout is time for you. Sprint, lift heavy steel, throw different implements, and have fun. Building your body is much more powerful than your one-rep max, it’s about the focus, workout consistency, and effort you put forward towards the big picture.

4. Focus During Your Workout

The less frequent your training sessions the more important intensity becomes.
Drink extra coffee.
Boost up your pre-workout.
Blast some Lil Jon and get out of your mind.

I don’t care, do whatever it takes to go balls to the wall when you hit the gym. Going through the motions is for losers—get in and get after it.


Wrap Up

You’re busy and determined—that’s a good thing. Don’t let training fall by the wayside; rather, optimize your training with what you’re capable and willing to do.

Know what you’re cable of Doing Consistently.

Stop putting it Off Until Tomorrow.

Schedule it like an Appointment.

Get in and get after it.

With this information you have everything you need to build a leaner, stronger, and more athletic body. Quit majoring in the minors, it’s time to get to maximize your training on your terms.

Recommended Reading:

Training Essentialism: What Every Workout Needs 



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10 Tips to An Explosive Deadlift

Deadlifts build epic strength.

Deadlifts get you jacked.

Deadlifts help you get athletic. Deadlifts require full body tension, strength, and sheer willpower to build strong bodies and stronger minds.

Deadlifts build a chiseled back, vice-grip forearms, and an athletic booty to grab the attention of both sexes. As such, the deadlift is the most cherished movements in training for helping you look better naked, be strong as an ox, and improve performance. 

Yep, few things get your testosterone pumping and your manhood on like deadlifts, except maybe this steak recipe and watching Predator re-runs. 

Perfect then..right? All you need to do is grip a barbell and rip it from the floor. .Well, no. For all the love deadlifts get most lifters either incorrectly program them or butcher them with such awful form they end up with porous strength numbers and debilitating back pain. 


While I love deadlifts I try not to put any exercise on a pedestal—all exercises are a tool for a physiological response to help you improve performance, look better naked, or feel better–not an end all be all to training.

Like anything else, there’s a risk-reward for pushing your body to the limits. The deadlift is a great exercise, but you need intelligent planning to maximize your training without snapping your back in half like a toothpick.

The ten tips below from my eBook Eight Weeks to an Explosive Deadlift will help you boost your deadlift sky-rocket and reduce the chance of injury. 

1.Pull the Bar Tight:

When the bar drifts away from your body you open a pandora’s box of issues: A greater tendency to round the back, increased shear stress on the spine, and a difficult position to finish the lift.

Unless you want to miss lifts and incur flexion based back injuries then use the lats to pull the bar tight to your shins. The lats connect your spine to your shoulder with tons of connection to the fascia in the low back. Pulling the tight both ensures a vertical bar path and further engages the core to resist forward flexion and keep you safe. 

2.Hammer Glute Function:

Most clients come in with lousy glute function and sad anterior core stability. I’ll get to anterior core stability soon, but optimal glute function is essential for everyone, especially individuals with extension-based back pain that deadlift.

To quote Eric Cressey, “Extension-based back pain typically is worse with standing than with sitting. These folks will present with everything from spondylolysis (fractures) to spondylolisthesis (vertebral slippage), to diffuse lumbar erector “tightness.”

Typically, those who suffer from extension-based back pain will have short hip flexors, poor glute function, and a lack of anterior core stability. Effectively, hip flexor shortness and insufficient glute contribution leads athletes to substitute lumbar extension for full hip extension.”(Cressey)

This is a big no-no, especially for athletes. Having powerful hip extension is the name of the game for most athletic tasks like sprinting, jumping, and of course, deadlifting. If you substitute lumbar extension for full hip extension you’re limiting your training, missing lockouts, and opening the door for further pain and injury.

Consider adding the following exercises at the end of your dynamic warm-up for better glute activation and trunk stabilization before deadlifts. Basically, these will reduce injury risk and give you more strength. Good deal, right? 

Quadruped Hip Extension

Quadruped Fire Hydrant

45 Degree Back Extension

45 degree banded back extension


3. “Too much” Core Stability doesn’t exist:

A few weeks ago I received an email asking my thoughts on core training. The jist of it was, “all you need for a strong core is to squat and deadlift, right bro?”

In all honesty, there’s no such thing as too much anterior core stability to prevent power leaks in movement. While I’d like to agree and never suffer through monotonous planks again the answer isn’t cut and dry. Core stability is as vital for performance as it is injury prevention.

It’s best to integrate different aspects core training into each workout. Rather than repeated flexion via crunches (especially if you sit all day) it’s important to train the “anti” flexion and anti-rotation movements. 

4.Train with Lighter Loads:

For years I trained with frequent, near maximal intensity sessions.Whether it was my ego or lack of experience I thought “How could I get stronger without pushing intensity above 90% for most sets?”

After injuries, plateaus, and frustrating sessions I dropped my training maxes and hit a 500 lb deadlift at 165lbs when I was 23. Skip ahead a few years and the answer is obvious:

Tweet: Training isn’t about putting your body through hell; it’s about minimizing risk and maximizing results.

Back off your maxes 5-10%, optimize form, and avoid missing reps. You’ll stay fresh, groove the deadlift pattern, and have a longer training career.

5. Double Check your Deadlift Set-Up:

Your set-up should be consistent and rehearsed every time you prepare for your lift. Double-check your set-up with these tips:

  • Stand with the bar over the tops of your feet, not necessarily against your shins, although bloody shins means you’re hardcore, bro.
  • Hip hinge rather than squat to the bar. Pop your butt back into full twerk position and hinge back until your arms reach down outside the knees. Your butt doesn’t need to be down, it’s a deadlift not a squat.
  • Get your Chris Farley on and double tuck that chin. Keep your eyes looking straight forward to maintain spinal alignment.
  • Crush the bar with your grip. Stop and make a fist as hard as possible. Feel the tension all the way through your upper back, shoulder, and arms?

We call that irradiation, tension that packs the shoulders and increases muscle activation to produce more tension and stability. Crush the bar.

6. Slow then Go:

Most lifters try to rip the bar off the ground for every deadlift.

While you need to produce significant power, trying to rip the bar leads to the hips shooting up and a loss of position. Basically, this is a first class ticket to massive lumbar flexion under load.

If jacking up your back and walking like quasi-modo sounds fun, keep doing that, otherwise try the cue  
“slow then go” to teach athletes to drive hard while maintaining tension and then speed up the bar once you’re moving.

I’d rather miss a lift in good position than make a lift with tons of lumbar flexion. Remmeber, minimize risk and maxmize reward with your training. 

7.Stop Dropping Deadlifts:

The logic behind dropping deadlifts is this: If you’re competing, you only need to worry about the concentric (up) phase of the lift. Besides, lowering your deadlift creates excessive stress and muscle damage. While this may be true, what are your goals?

Are you competing? If so, some organizations require control all the way to the ground. Those who don’t? Fine, drop your deadlifts.

Looking to train for muscle gain? The eccentric component creates additional muscular damage, a vital piece for muscular hypertrophy. If excessive soreness impacts your training frequency then check your training loads, rest periods, nutrition, and training split.

Athletic Performance/Core control? If you’re lifting a deadlift and are unable to control the eccentric it’s to heavy. Eccentric strength and maintaining position is vital in all sports. Consider dropping the load and controlling the eccentric.

It’s a common perception that you need to drop deadlifts. You don’t. If you’re near max weight that’s find, but consider everything within the context of your goals. Look into performing controlled drops from knee-mid-thigh instead of a drop from lockouts. Persevering the nervous system near competition is great, but keep the value of eccentric strength in mind for maximize gains in size. 

8.Add jumps for an explosive deadlift:

If a big deadlift is your focus, then channeling your inner Vince Carter and add jumps is a great for improving power. Jumping matches the mechanical movement of deadlifts while training explosive power at lower training intensities.

This aids strength development as generating force faster with lighter-load movements increases neural activation and improves your rate of force development.

The deadlift is a starting strength movement, so box squats, vertical jumps, and box jumps are your best bet.

I’m a big fan of non-countermovement jumps until proper landing mechanics grooved. Once you’ve practiced landing with balance and control mix in both countermovement and non-countermovement jumps.


Multi-response jump squat:


Dumbbell Jump Squat: 

Broad Jump:


Box Jump:


9.Warm-Up with Speed Deadlifts:

Rather than jump headfirst into heavy work sets spend time warming up with submaximal loads. These sets aid the warm-up, and work as strength-speed and power movements for extra training volume.

Power= Work/Time

Use loads between 30% -85% for low-rep sets (Baechle& Earle, 2008) to train power with optimal technique. I prefer a 3×3 warm-up bebfore diving into heavy loaded sets. 

10. Use More Variety:

While deadlifting is a technique intensive skill it’s also important to include variety. Not only will variety keep you intrigued, you’ll also minimize weak-points and limit overuse injuries. Like anything else, form is vital. If you lose proper spinal position during your pull or have a history of back pain then be conservative with your choices.

Other deadlift variations:

Snatch Grip Deadlifts: If you hold proper position then the snatch grip deadlift is cruel, yet effective exercise. Yes, you’ll use much ligher weight, but the increased range of motion and full body tension makes up for that. Snatch grip deadlifts are a powerful muscle builder for the entire posterior chain. 

Sumo Deadlifts: The sumo deadlift is a great option for lifters with short arms and long torso’s. The wide stance allows for a more vertical spine and less shear stress on the lower back.

If you squat wide then the sumo deadlift will improve your squat, as long as volumes and intensities are kept in check in regards to hip health. 

Trap Bar: I love the trap bar. The learning curve is short, shear stress on the spine is reduced. I prefer the trap bar as a tool to train both the squat and deadlift with most of my athletes. If you suffer from back injuries or are looking to change your workouts give the trap bar a try.

explosive deadlift

 Deficit Deadlifts: Although snatch grip deficit deadlifts are a killer exercise for muscular development, I’m not a fan. With any exercise, performance gains versus injury risk come into play.

Most clients have the mobility of a monkey wrench, so loading the lumbopelvic region in a bad position has risks that outweigh the benefits. Jamming square pegs into round holes rarely achieves desired results, so unless you maintain neutral spine steer clear. 

10 Tips to an Explosive Deadlift Is a Wrap

If you’re looking to get stronger, shredded, or more athletic the deadlift will get you there faster. Take these 10 Tips to an Explosive Deadlift into consideration for your future programming to maximize your gains in strength, size, and athleticism.

One last Thing…

Eight Weeks to an Explosive Deadlift is my top secrets on improving your deadlift, including the step by step plan I used with client Raven Cepeda to boost his deadlift by nearly 100lbs in six months. 

Even better, improved strength in the deadlift will carry across more than the platform, it will build a foundation to build more muscle and athleticism from your training, all for less than the cost of Chipotle Burrito. Grab it today. 


Eight Weeks to an Explosive Deadlift_Kindle cover-2


========> Eight Weeks to an Explosive Deadlift




Baechle, Thomas R., and Roger W. Earle. “Resistance Training.” Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. 3rd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2008. 400-401. Print.

Cressey, Eric. “T NATION | More Lower Back Savers.” Testosterone Muscle Articles. Testosterone Nation, 5 May 2009. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.

Leyland, Tony. “Biomechanical Analysis of the Deadlift.” Sfu.ca. Simon Frasier University. Web. 4 Dec 2013. <http://www.sfu.ca/~leyland/Kin201 Files/Deadlift Mechanics.pdf>.


Seven Nutrition Muscle Building Mistakes

For most guys building muscle seems impossible. I understand. I’ve been there.

As a 103lb pipsqueak, I tried it all. Show 14-year old Eric a flashy label promising “big gainz” and I’d give it whirl. As it pertains to nutrition and supplementation it’s impossible to know what works and what’s bullshit.

Should you be bulking and cutting?

How about Paleo? Intermittent Fasting?

Low carb…right? I heard carbs make you fat.

It becomes more difficult when you’re trying to build a lean, athletic physique without tons of body fat. Most guys try everything and remain in a constant “bulking cycle,” only to wind up fat, confused, and defeated. You don’t want to be a massive blob that can’t move off the platform.

I get it.

You want a body that projects confidence, athleticism, and health. That’s where I come in. Instead of reading (and trying) every new diet method you need to relax. Sit back. Now breath. There’s no perfect diet. Stop making it so damn complicated and make sure these nutritional mistakes aren’t preventing muscle growth.

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple”- Dr. Seuss

  1. You Don’t eat enough food

Every skinny dude in the history of skinny dudes says “ I eat a lot,” but still can’t gain muscle. I’ve done it too.

Here’s the hard truth: If you’re not building lean muscle then you aren’t eating enough. Obvious right? Well, it’s still the biggest problem for most dudes. It’s not easy, but without excess calories, you won’t gain muscle. muscle building mistakes

Start with these caloric calculations to gain lean muscle.

Bodyweight in pounds x 18-22

Ex.) 155 lbs x 18-22 =2790-3410 calories per day.

For 2790 calories:

Protein: 25%= 697 calories/ 4 cal/g= 175 g Protein

Fat: 25% = 697 calories/ 9 cal/g= 77.5 g Fat

carbohydrates: 50%= 1395 calories/4cal/g= 348 g Carbs

Tinker with these percentages slightly, but the bottom line remains the same: you need to eat a serious amount of food. Anything less than 2790 calories per day for this person won’t result in muscle gain. Hate counting calories? More on that later, but start consuming Super Shakes on top of your regular diet, they’re a game changer. Instead of struggling to eat more drink your calories with a high-quality protein, veggies, fruit, and healthy fats in a shake on top of your current diet.

  1. You don’t know how to cook

I often hear guys complain about the cost of eating healthy and building muscle on a budget. These are the same dudes who tell me they ate Quiznos four times this week. What gives? For the same cost of a sandwich or burrito at your favorite lunch spot you can buy two pounds of chicken at your local grocery store. If you don’t know how to cook you’ll never develop the body you want. You need to be able to cook. Learning  3-5 awesome meals should be a prerequisite to your adulthood.

Bottom Line: You need to be able to cook. You’ll make healthier choices, save cash, and impress your next date.

Check out these awesome resources:

  1. Paleo’s Keeping You Skinny

A high fat Paleo diet is great for general public and those looking to maximize fat loss. If everyone ate a cleaner Paleo diet we’d have a lot less obesity and sick people. Problem is, with the limited food selection and all around “cleaner” food options it’s harder to consume the calories needed for muscle growth. Always staying low-calorie and low-carb will keep you lean, but it’s a huge muscle-building mistake. If you’re eating Paleo and not seeing gains its time to let loose and expand your food repertoire to gain lean muscle.

  1. You’re fasting too long

Intermittent fasting has risen to the forefront of nutrition from guys like Martin Berkhan and books like Engineering The Alpha. I’m a big fan of fasting, it works great for people trying to lose weight. Problem is, for guys trying to build muscle it’s hard enough to get a caloric surplus in 24 hours, let alone eight. Taking 12-16 hours off from food and then attempting to horde 3000+ calories in 8 hours is too steep a task for scrawny guys. There are awesome benefits for fat loss and digestive health to fasting, but it’s not ideal for gaining lean muscle mass. If you prefer this style of eating shorten your fasting window to no longer than 10-12 hours or only fast on non-workout days.

  1. You Suffer from carb phobia

Low carb diets are great for the sedentary couch-dweller looking to lose fat. However, when you’re looking to build muscle staying “low-carb” sucks. Too few carbs is one of the biggest nutritional muscle building mistakes possible. muscle building mistakes

Here’s why: Muscle tissue glucose uptake is stimulated by insulin, which triggers the migration of glucose and amino acids to muscle cells. This promotes protein synthesis, which is kinda important. Muscle contractions increase the facilitated diffusion of glucose into muscle cells more, promoting greater insulin sensitivity. Simply, when glucose is present in the blood the blood the body uses it as energy over stored fuel – an ideal recipe for building muscle mass. Yes, your body synthesizes glucose from other substrates through gluconeogenesis, but this process takes time and potentially breaks down amino acids for fuel.

Since your muscle-building workouts have all-out bouts of activity like sprints, jumps, throws, and heavy lifting then you’ll need readily available carbs rather than breaking down muscle for energy. If you think you’re getting pudgy by eating a banana before your train look at rest of your diet, there’s something else wrong. Carbs fuel high-performance.

  1. You rely on Bodybuilding Supplements

Most Supplements are Flat out a waste of money. Sketchy “cutting” of supplements with fillers occurs to the detriment of your wallet and health. (Read Protein Pixie Dust by Bryan Krahn) That said, supplements that aid your health will also you help you build lean muscle.

Proteins are the building blocks for muscle and muscle repair. Besides their muscle-building properties, proteins manufacture hormones, enzymes, cellular messengers, nucleic acids, and immune-system components. Bottom line: Protein is essential for numerous bodily functions besides muscle growth.

  • Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine is the most researched dietary supplement in exercise science. Creatine is proven to increase strength, power, muscle, and endurance with high-intensity exercise. Although creatine is in the diet from red meat, supplementation increases saturation to increase force production of the muscles. It’s important to stick with creatine monohydrate. Leave the fancy marketing aside, creatine monohydrate is the most researched and effective variation of creatine available.

To learn more about Creatine click here: Creatine: Cutting to the Chase

  • Greens Supplement

Most guys struggle to get enough fruits and veggies in their body. With a high protein diet, it’s important to have a balance between acids and bases. Get your greens. Bonus: Some Greens supplements also contain vitamins and minerals to replace a multi-vitamin. Check mineral levels to avoid over consumption.

On day’s I’m not eating fatty fish like salmon I’ll take an Omega-3 supplement. Research on Omega 3 supplementation has shown improved nervous system function, cardiovascular function, immune function, and insulin sensitivity. As a starting point take 2-3 grams daily to notice the benefits of fish oil, split up between meals throughout the day.

Bonus:When shopping for a fish oil supplement look for each gram 1 soft gel in pill form) to contain 500 mg out of 1000 mg of DHA and EPA. I recommend 500 as the number to look for, but these products are more expensive. When the levels are below 500 mg they’re pumping the product full of fillers.

7a.You haven’t tried Carb cycling

If you’re looking shred fat, build muscle, and improve your health then carb cycling is your answer. Problem is, most make it so inconvenient that they only last a few days.  I’m a realist: I know you’re too busy to track down every damn detail. Here’s my simple chart:

Workout? Difficulty Starchy Carbs
No X Avoid em’
Yes I almost died As many as possible
Yes Solid Workout 1-2 meals with starchy carbs
Yes I took it easy 1 meal post-workout with carbs

Carb cycling doesn’t need to be complicated. Focus on healthy food options, base your carb intake off of your activity level, and reap the rewards of nutrient timing.

7b. You don’t track calories, ever.

Tracking calories sucks. I hate it. Labels are often wrong, it’s time-consuming, and a pain in the ass. I like to keep things simple with my clients rather than have them worry about every detail.

Still, without any tracking you’re limiting your lean muscle gains. Rather than track everything take a few days per month to see where you’re at. Guys who build muscle eat the same foods and meals pretty consistently, so you’ll be able to re-use the calories.  If you track periodically it will keep you on-point with portion sizes and give a realistic view of what you need to eat.

Nutrition Muscle Building Mistakes Wrap Up

Rather than crying yourself into a corner about you need to take action. The solution is often more simple than your question: eat more. Pick any strategy below and follow it for the next two weeks. From that point, move on and adopt another habit. Soon, you’ll be avoiding these muscle building mistakes and build new, swolltastic habits.

  • Eat. More. Food.
  • Drink a supershake daily.
  • If you fast, shorten it to 8-12 hours
  • Occasionally track your food.
  • Learn to cook.
  • Dirty up your Paleo.
  • Supplements are only a small part of the picture, focus on food and health first.
  • Maximize insulin sensitivity with carb cycling.


Want to simplify muscle building with done for you workouts and muscle building meal plans?
Head here.



Berardi, J. , and Ryan Andrews. “The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition.” 2nd. Toronto : Precision Nutrition Inc., 2012. 115. Print.

Berardi, J. , and Ryan Andrews. “The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition.” 2nd. Toronto : Precision Nutrition Inc., 2012. 358-361. Print.

Amino acid catabolism” by Mikael HäggströmOwn work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.

How to do Pull-ups: A Surefire Progression to Pull-up Proficiency Part 2

I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of the pull-up progression on Monday. Click the link before continuing, or this will happen.

He'll visit you if you skip ahead.
He’ll visit you if you skip ahead. Photo credit:frabz.com

Seriously. Okay I’m kidding that was excessive, but skipping ahead of baseline movements is bad news.  Go read part 1 of your sure-fire pull-up progression here.

This post will be my last for the week and into next week since I’m currently Florida, attending a masquerade party–which also triggered. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m assuming that wearing a speedo, cowboy boots, and a mask won’t work. That said I get free drinks and food for a few days while working on my sunburn. Nevertheless, it’s time for business.

You’ve practiced your inverted row variations and blasted a few with your feet elevated –good job! Now, things get tricky. Pull-ups require a vertical pull, much more difficult than horizontal. The strength built up rowing your bodyweight will help, but further planning is needed before pull-ups.

Negative Band-Assisted Pull-Up: Using a band will lessen the load on the most difficult portion of the pull-up—the bottom. Use a high tension band, stepping into it from a box. With your chin above the bar lower your body, brace the core, squeeze the glutes, and lower until the arms are fully extended. Step  back to the box and repeat for two or three reps. The body is stronger during the eccentric portion exercises, so this engrains the range of motion and strength development in the pull-up.

[Use a band rather than a standing, assisted pull-up machine when possible. If you’ve reached this point you’re strong enough to control your body with a band-assist.]


women band assisted pull-up
Photo Credit: Band Assisted Pull-Up

Band-Assisted Pull-Ups: After gaining eccentric strength and control it’s time to perform the eccentric and concentric portions of the pull-up. Stand on the band with core braced and glutes squeezed, driving the elbows down until the chin passes the bar. Lower yourself under control and repeat for reps. Re-set between reps if needed, working with 3-8 reps per set.

Negative Pull-Ups: I program negative pull-ups with band assisted pull-ups for rapid improvements. Negative pull-ups through the entire ROM without use of any band-assistance is a great strength building exercise. Jump up to the bar OR step from a box with your chin above the bar. Keep reps slow as the arms extend, aiming for 4-5 seconds per rep for 3-5 reps per set. 

Pull-Up grip progression: Congrats! You’re ready to tackle Pull-ups, but it’s not that simple. Certain grips and hand positions are easier than others. First, use a shoulder width neutral grip (thumbs pointing back). You’ll be stronger in both a neutral and supinated (palms facing you) grip before moving to a true pull-up. Begin with these variations before a pronated (overhand grip) pull-up.

 Pull-Up Progression Programming

Pull-ups are no easy task—when 0-3 reps are your max then every chin-up is near maximal effort. This is extremely taxing on the central nervous system. Spread your practice throughout the week so theres plenty of time for recovery and avoid failure.

Each training session should include a variation of this progression, building strength and muscle to improve your chin-ups.
Since pull-ups are your primary goal start your sessions with a challenging variation; remember, pull-ups are a near maximal exercise, use plenty of rest between sets.

  • Pull-ups are the priority, plan them first in your training session.
  • Train between one and six reps per set, picking a total rep goal of 15-25 total reps in the workout. However you break up your sets is up to you.
  • Use rest pauses if you approach technical failure. Rest 10-15 seconds between reps to complete your sets.
  • Rest 60-120 seconds between sets. Remember, if you can’t do a chin-up nearly every rep is maximum effort.
  • Avoid failure. Avoid failure. Avoid failure.
  • Have a well-rounded exercise program focused on building total-body strength. Deadlifts, squats, presses, and lunges will strengthen your entire body.

Sample Program

Weeks 1-2: Focus on part 1 variations, 45 degree rows, inverted rows, and feet elevated inverted rows. Pick one variation each day and work up to 4-6×6-10 reps.

Week 3: Begin training negative band-assisted pull-ups for sets up to six reps per set. Pick the most difficult horizontal row you can perform and aim for 20-25 reps in your workout.

Week 4-5: Your eccentric strength and control has improved, so it’s time to pick things u with band assisted pull-ups.  Aim for sets up to six using a large band. Break sets up as needed until you hit your total rep goal. Pick the most difficult horizontal row you can perform and aim for 20-25 reps in your workout.

Week 6-8: Ditch the band, it’s time for un-assisted negative pull-ups. Control reps and take between 4-5 seconds on each rep. Use rest-pause technique as needed, aiming for 15-20 total negatives. Pick the most difficult horizontal row you can perform and aim for 20-25 reps in your workout.

Week 7-10: Get your mind right, it’s pull-up time! The time it takes you to master your first pull-up is specific. Different limb-lever lengths, body fat % and distribution, training experience, and gender will all play a factor. Use neutral grip or chin-up grip variations first before progressing to pull-ups.

How To Do Pull-Ups

This program is by no-means a cure-all. Schedule and training experience are highly variable, so do what fits your schedule. Its best to progress slowly if needed and be consistently successful. However, should you be feeling strong after a few negatives then jump ahead and give pull-ups a shot. Pull-ups are no easy task, doing them successfully shows great strength, determination, discipline. Armed with these suggestions you’ll be well on your way to pull-up prowess.

It’s Time to Build the Body You Want With the Time You Have

It’s not time for another cookie cutter magazine workout.
It’s time for a customized approach to maximize your results and improve your life, not consume it. Fitness will become a lifestyle. You’ll take control of your life and build your best body. But my words only go so far.

The bottom line is…

My Clients Get Great Results.

Will you join them? Learn more here. 



How to Do Pull-Ups: A Sure-Fire Progression for Pull-up Proficiency Part 1

Pull-ups are my favorite upper-body exercises. I’ve been bumpin’ out pull-ups since I wore Nike wind pants and Pokémon cards were cool. I’m no longer slingin’ Pokémon cards on the playground but pull-ups and wind pants remain–they’re just too comfy.

Nothing builds relative upper body strength and carves your back, biceps, and forearms like pull-ups. Plus, they’re great for developing stable shoulders and are a fantastic indicator of overall fitness—If you’re able to knock out 8-12 pull-ups you’re clearly in damn good shape.

With the rise and media attention Crossfit games pull-ups have become commonplace in training programs, with everyone from young athletes to your 55-year-old aunt looking to master their first pull-up. Swinging your way up to the bar for a “kipping pull-up” is a skill, but it’s not a pull-up. I’m here to guide your journey to the strict, chest to the bar pull-ups. In the last few weeks Bach Performance online training clients and readers have been asking for help in mastering pull-ups. Whether you’re new to lifting, losing weight, or just want to finally master the pull-up then this is for you.

[This isn’t a Crossfit slam article, quite the contrary. I’m happy they have people touching barbells and looking to do “pull-up like exercises”]
Progress your way to Pull-ups

Make no mistake—Pull-ups are difficult. Seeing it on TV and wishing won’t make it happen. Mastering pull-ups takes dedication, patience, higher training frequency, and a well-designed progression. I’ve got the progression, but doing the work is on you.

45-degree inverted row: A suspension trainer like the TRX works best, but a barbell secured in a power rack works too. Position your body at 45 degrees—halfway between standing tall and being parallel with the ground. Keep the core braced, and glutes squeezed. Pull through the elbows, keep the head neutral, and control the negative (eccentric) of the lift.

Parallel inverted row: Parallel inverted rows utilize more bodyweight because the body is parallel to the ground. A good starting point is setting the barbell at hip height with enough room to fully extend the arms without lying on the ground. Brace the core and squeeze the glutes. Pull through the elbows, keep the head neutral, and control the negative of the lift.

Feet elevated inverted row: Elevating the feet further increases the difficulty of the lift. Use a stable surface like a bench or chair, never an unstable surface like a stability ball. Although feet elevated rows are a horizontal pull they will build tons of strength in the forearms, biceps, and back, preparing the body for vertical pulling. These are a fantastic alternative to bent-over rows and dumbbell rows

Wrap Up

Besides improving you awesomeness 10,000% these variations get the ball rolling and prepare you for pulling bodyweight pull-ups. For some of you these may be too easy, but sit tight and stay tuned for Friday. I’ll be dropping a program to guide your path to the pull-up promise land (say that 5 times fast, seriously).


P.S. Grab part two of the progression here.

How to do Pull-ups: A Surefire Progression to Pull-up Proficiency Part 2


P.S.S. Are you part of our Free Facebook Community? Join today for free workout tips, coaching tips, and an awesome network of like minded people.

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Surviving Cheat Day

It was Saturday. Gorgeous, about 70 degrees and radiant sunshine. I spent the morning at the gym, training clients and blitzing a short workout. On the way home I ran some important errands and made it home by noon– Not bad for a Saturday! Everything I needed to do for the day was completed and the day was only half-way through.

photo from Buy-Beer.com http://www.buy-beer.com/bbq-beer-chicken/beer-butt-buddies2/
photo from Buy-Beer.com

Even better, I had most of the day to eat and drink whatever I wanted….Cheat day had arrived.

There is nothing wrong with a cheat day, mentally they provide a break from a strict diet and let you relax and unwind. Physically cheat days can provide a much needed refueling for the body and boost various hormones such as T-3 and T-4 that can be down regulated if you are constantly dieting.

Cheat days kick ass. In disciplined dieters they improve compliance and provide a mental and physical break from dieting– As long as they’re kept within reason. Unfortunately, reason wasn’t present yesterday. Two pizzas, chicken wings, plenty of beer, a trip to a vodka bar, and hefty forth meal left me in a greasy stupor.

I drank like a fish and ate like it was going out of style.

Where do all of those calories go?

Eventually carbohydrate storage reaches capacity, leaving excess sugars to saturate the blood stream and  join the party around your love handles. If alcohol is involved that will halt all fat burning even further, promoting further fat storage. Eeeek. That’s the perfect storm to blow up quicker than a Kardasian wedding.

The Solution

There is a way to minimize the damage on these gluttonous days as I learned from Tim Ferriss’ book The 4 Hour Body. The goal isn’t to burn massive amounts of calories on cheat cheat; instead, prepare your body to receive and utilize the excess sugars you’re consuming.

Ideally, you will take more of these excess sugars and calories and have them pushed into your muscles rather than your waistline.


Glute-4 Activation.

What is Glute-4?

Glute 4 is a protein responsible for insulin related glucose transport into cells. Muscular contractions stimulate muscle cells to translocate to the surface of the muscle, making them more receptive to insulin and stocking the muscles full of glycogen from those carbs you just ate.

Cool, so what do I do?

As close to your delicious meal, whether it be pizza, doughnuts, or whatever else you are craving you must force major skeletal muscles to contract to stimulate glute-4 translocation. And it doesn’t take nearly as much activity as you think.

Here are a few good options:

1.Bodyweight squats 20 reps. Quarter squats are fine, full are better
2.Push Ups (or wall push ups, you can do these in a bathroom stall, oh boy!) 20 reps
3.Band Pull aparts 20 reps
4.Isometric Quadriceps extension: lock your leg and flex as hard as you can for 20-30 seconds. This one can work (or use other muscles) while you are seated if you are out to eat. This way people won’t think you are as weird as me.

**You can do these things in private if that makes you feel more comfortable, but you probably shouldn’t care so much what others think, especially as it pertains to your health and lookin good neeeked 

These exercises take all of a minute or so to perform as close to your cheat meal as you can, as well as 60-90 minutes post-meal. This way you are activating the biggest muscles in your body to be more receptive to the surplus of calories floating around in your blood stream to lead to bigger muscles, rather than a bigger waistline.

Wrap Up

So there you have it. It’s not necessarily a good thing to go as crazy as I did and eat/drink 10,000 calories . Just know there are strategies to minimize the damage while maximizing the fun, even while trying to look your best


Ferriss, Timothy. The 4-Hour Body. New York: Crown Archetype, 2010. 100-120. Print.


5 Essential Nutrition Habits

Below are 5 essential habits via the Precision Nutrition System. These wicked-awesome 5 habits are pretty Kick-Ass! Why?!

Food for Life distributes food on an internati...
Food for Life distributes food on an international basis produced solely from vegan and lacto-vegetarian ingredients. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, they are easy to follow, especially if you looking to lose body fat ( NOT GAIN lotza MUSCLE) and optimize body composition without the work of calorie counting and spending countless hours logging and tracking your food choices (which is still a good idea).

Enough with my blabbing, here is the list.

1.)Eat Slowly and Stop at 80% Full. It takes 20 minutes for brain signals to kick in, take your time and enjoy your meal.2.)Eat Protein dense foods with each meal.

Women- 1 Palm (20-30g)

Men- 2 palms (40-60g)

–This will support positive nitrogen balance, leading to better muscle development, body composition, and metabolism.

3.)Eat Vegetables with each meal. ½ cup raw= 1 serving, aim for 10 servings between fruits and vegetables per day. 2 palms per meal!

–These are filled will all kinds of good shiznit, such as phytochemicals, fiber, and anti-oxidants. Fight cancer, fill up on good stuff, and be healthy!

4.)For Fat Loss, eat most carbs after exercise. Keeping carbs low until aftr exercise will promote burning stored fat before/during exercise.

–Keep carb choices slower digesting, such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, oats, quinoa, and whole wheat if you tolerate them.

5.)Eat healthy Fats Daily. Get roughly 30% of kcals and include healthy fats during each meal.

Get 1/3 from each type of fat, saturated, mono-unsaturated, and poly-unsaturated by varying your sources between lean meats, fish, nuts, and healthy oils.

For more information regarding Precision Nutrition check out my review of their level 1 certification below:



Berardi, Dr. John, and Ryan Andrews. The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. second. Precision Nutrition. INC, 2012. 345-351. Print.

Stronger, Bigger, Defined Legs in Under 30 Minutes

My last two blog posts have brought you quick but demanding workouts that can be performed in under 30 minutes. When working out in a time crunch having a plan of attack is critical to making the most out of your time in the gym.

In order to give the legs their best workout in the least amount of time the focus of exercise selection must be on multi-joint compound movements, no leg extensions here! The backbone of any program with strength and hypertrophy as the goal should contain major hip dominant, and knee dominant lifts, such as the squat and deadlift.

In this workout the contrast method will be used. The contrast method uses a combination of Heavy load lower repetition exercise with lightly weighted or un-weighted exercise. This method will nail all of your muscle fibers through PAP (post-activation potentiation.)  PAP will allow you to gain strength in your heavy exercise following each set of your longer, un-weighted set due to better motor unit recruitment.

Without further adieu here is the workout!

Circuit 1

Perform 1 set of 5 repetitions on the front squat and immediately after the set (using a box or bench) perform a bodyweight squat to a box, immediately upon touching the box or bench explode into a vertical jump. Reset and continue for 45 seconds. Rest for 45 seconds and repeat 3 times. Following the third set rest 60 seconds and move to circuit 2.

1a. Barbell Front Squat 3×5

1b. Box Squat Jumps x45 seconds

Circuit 2

With the same weight as the front squats perform all out set of back squats with the same weight, coming within 1-2 reps of failure. Realistically this should be 10-15+ reps in most cases. Following this set immediately perform 60 seconds of bodyweight jump squats. Rest 60 seconds and move to circuit 3.

2a. Back Squats 1×10-15+

2b. BW Jump Squats x60 seconds

Circuit 3

Perform 3 sets of Dumbbell Romainian Deadlifts, immediately after each set perform 20 dumbbell calf raises followed by 20 alternating jump lunges. Rest 45 seconds after each set and repeat 3 rounds.

3a. DB RDL 3×8-10

3b. DB Calf Raises3x20

3c. Alternating Jump Lunges 3×20

There you have it, a brutal yet effective workout to blast your lower body in under 30 minutes. As always make sure your form is up-to-par, as the intensity of this workout will likely require using submaximal, albeit heavy workloads to get the best effect. Share your comments below!

Numminello, Nick. “Contrast Training for Strength, Size, and Power.” T NATION.com. Testosterone, LLC, 11 May 2009. Web. 20 May 2012. <http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/contrast_training_for_strength_size_and_power>.

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