Lat Pulldown: Split Stance

Lat Pulldown: Split Stance

The ability to pull–and specifically to pull down–is commonly undertrained and therefore a weak movement for most athletes (and fitness enthusiasts). Gaining strength in through the posterior deltoid/shoulder as well as through the latissumus dorsi and mid/lower traps and rhomboids is a necessary component of a well-rounded training regimen. As a matter of fact, since it’s often undertrained, it is one of the most important areas in a strength training program. Along with general pulling strength is gaining control over the scapula and refining the coordination between the upper arm shoulder blade movements (glenohumeral rhythm rotator cuff injury prevention) . Lastly, the ability to apply force from various standing positions is, and should be, the goal of all on-ground athletes as well as fitness enthusiasts. If you can’t push, pull, or squat in standing positions then there is a good chance your ability to apply force in real world settings may be limited.

Coaching points:
1. Posture tall, abs braced (flexed) and hips square.
2. Assume a 1/2 lunge position. Weight on lead leg; train leg relatively straight and glute contracted.
3. Maintain a 4 part movement: Pinch scapulae back and slightly down, drive elbows directly into the side of the body, slow return the arms to starting position, slightly release scapulae.
4. No other posture adjustments should occur throughout.
5. Make sure to work 1/2 of the set with one foot forward and half with the other.

Fruit Punch Parfait

Fruit Punch Parfait

1- 0.3 oz sugar-free Mixed Fruit gelatin
2 cups water
1- 0.8 oz packet Fruit Punch Muscle Fuel
1- 0.53 oz packet Fruit Punch Rehydrate
1- 0.53 oz Fruit Punch SPARK Energy Drink
Prepare gelatin according to directions using 2 cups water. Stir in rest of the ingredients until dissolved. Pour into serving dishes. Chill until set. Makes 4 servings.

Making the Industry Better…or Worse?

I am not a fan of sharing negative comments or thoughts via blogs, but unfortunately this is going to be one of those articles. Over the last few weeks I’ve had some great interactions with some Strength Coaches and Personal Trainers that are colleagues of mine. In and through those conversations I have been reminded of a few things in my industry that are truly frustrating:

1. I don’t run into enough Strength Coaches and Trainers who want to learn. I wish that wasn’t the case, but I’m finding it is. Rare has been the environment or person I run into in the industry who has a passion for learning, gaining knowledge and getting into the research and applied science literature with the intention of improving training methods.

2. What happened to sharing ideas? I am starting to hear with some regularity of the coaches and trainers who are actually having their clients sign confidentiality forms regarding training methodology (meaning clients are legally bound to keep training methods a secret). To me, this is discouraging. I find that it feeds into a type of “secret potion” or “magical method” thinking on the end of the athlete or client. In my opinion, this does not positively impact the industry as a whole.

Sure, have your niche.

Define your training philosophy.

Be unique.

But asking your clients to sign a document that withholds them from talking about your training sessions? Does not make sense. Help the industry by sharing and growing with your colleagues.

3. Coaches and trainers are still trying to kill their clients and make the gold standard workout one in which the athlete or client throws up. I absolutely cannot understand or jive with this. Haven’t we grown in our knowledge of physiology and exercise physiology enough to know that only in a highly acidic and disturbed environment will a person’s body respond this way? This is NOT good progression. Stop giving in to client or sport coach’s demands. You are supposed to be the expert…the professional. Is there a time and place? Sure. But not as the general rule.

On a positive note, I must again say that I was reminded of these frustrations through some GOOD interactions as of late. Colleagues I connect with and have an opportunity to share ideas and knowledge with on a regular basis are an encouragement to me: John White (formerly of USF and VSP Dublin, CA), Jose Aguayo (VSP Memphis, TN), Steve Plisk (Excelsior Sports), Joshua Patlak, Jez Bettle, the trainers at SB Training, Glenn Town, Gregg Afman. So here’s a public thank you to colleagues that encourage me and help me grow.

4 MORE Reasons You’re Not Losing Fat

Just came across this article and thought it would be a great follow up to the the Q&A: Bodyfat Loss article I posted a few days back. I have a good deal of respect for Dr. John Berardi and his perspectives and approaches to solid, healthy nutrition practices (see his Precision Nutrition website).

Over the years as a Strength Coach and trainer I have found empirically that most people struggle with consistent good nutrition and exercise practices…nothing fancy…just the basics not being done often enough. As such, gaining the consistency in those areas is the simple (but not so simple) fix. However, there is another minority group of people that struggle to either achieve weight loss, weight gain, or health and energy goals despite their ability to apply consistent good practices. They do it…but still no results. And that is the group that this article addresses.

Give it a read.

Four Reasons You’re not losing Fat (click here to read)
by Dr. Brian Walsh

IT Band SMR Foam Roll

Self Myofascial Release has shown strong research and emperical evidence over the past 5 years to be a key ingredient for pre and post exercise routine benefit. Often described as “the poor man’s massage,” SMR shows 3 primary benefits to increased muscle performance and decreased recovery time: decreased neural inhibition allowing stronger force/muscle contraction, decreased myofascial adhesions, decreased trigger point pain (passive and/or active).

Key coaching points for all SMR work:

1. Perform 2-5 sets of 20-60 seconds per muscle.

2. Find the worst points of tenderness/pain in the given muscle (check the entire muscle).

3. Put as much pressure as possible on the given area while still keeping muscle relaxed.

4. Either roll over or hold pressure on the point of tenderness and gradually work deeper as muscle relaxes.

Ideally perform before your dynamic warm up/movement prep, during rest intervals between strength lifts, and immediately post workouts prior to stretching. However, if you’re only going to do it once, put it prior to movement prep and static stretching before workout sessions.

Q&A: Body Fat Loss


Hi Chris,

I came across your sites on the website. I’m definitely not a teenager, just an ordinary middle-aged woman. I have a quick question. Can you please tell me at least one exercise for the following 3 areas. I just can’t seem to do what I need to evidently to get the flab off. The triceps, the tummy area (mostly below the belly button) and the inner thighs. I am 5′ 5″ and weigh 127 lbs., but am surprised at the flab on my body. I had my ratio checked once (can’t remember what you call it) and they were surprised I think too. I was too high on the body fat ratio. I’ve never been overweight. Any information you can send would be appreciated.

Thank you.


Sounds like you’re doing most of the right stuff already. When people give me this type of info and yet are still seeing no results, there’s usually one of a couple reasons:

1. You’re eating more than you think you are (not a dishonesty issue, just an awareness issue). This doesn’t sound like it’s your dilemma.
2. You’re not working consistently enough for long enough on your exercise program. This is usually a biggie. If you’re not able to stick with something for longer than 3 months…tough to see results. Often I find this is when many people are just beginning to see things happen.
3. You’re not working hard enough. If bodyfat loss is the goal (i.e. to see muscle definition), you’ve got to be in caloric deficit a little bit every day. Thus, you’ve got to expend more calories than you consume. That’s either got to happen through slightly less calorie consumption, more energy expenditure through activity, or even better yet the combination of the two. But, on the exercise end…it just takes consistent hard work.
4. You have a metabolic issue. This is the last thing I default to. Essentially, if you are doing “all the right stuff” and still aren’t getting results, it may simply be that you have a slower metabolism, or, in other words some possible hormonal balance issues. That is something you can get checked with your physician if you have not yet done so.

There are other things you should probably be doing like eating every 2-3 hours (instead of just 3 meals) so you keep your metabolism primed and making sure to drink 1/2 your bodyweight in ounces/day…but that is the gist of it.

One of the things I’ve found with my clients over the years is that if the exercise program is not one you enjoy or will put out good effort/work doing…it simply won’t work (no matter how great the program is). You may try to get into some group training style classes or exercise with friends to see if that helps with accountability and fun.

Lastly take a look at a couple of my nutrition and exercise blogs:
8 Weeks, 8 Habits, 8% Bodyfat
8 Week, 8 Habits, 8% Bodyfat Part 2
8 Week, 8 Habits, 8% Bodyfat Part 3
8 Week, 8 Habits, 8% Bodyfat Part 4
…stay tuned for Parts 5-8

Exercise/Program Design
It’s Simple, Stop resting, Work harder
Program Design
10 Minute Workouts
Mini Circuits for Bodyfat Loss
Example Programs (see for examples of how to perform exercises)


Thanks for the inquiry. Hope this helps. I know this is a common area of concern and battle for so many. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

Client Spotlight: Ed Drayton, Senior Baseball Player

Ed Drayton on Rehydrate, Muscle Fuel and Post Workout Recovery Shake after a 3 day Tournament:

Rehydrate & Muscle Fuel worked like a charm. The Fuel was a big surprise. Very smooth and consistent. Post Recovery did its thing. The team won our first three games plus one playoff game, so 4 in a row. I wanted to give the 8 remaining Muscle Fuel to the teams most in need. It was our 5th game and were all feeling it, but had to win two more. Turns out we had nothing left after using our starters too often the games before. Good tourney for me personally. And most of all the products from Advocare were my secret weapon. They allowed me to do what I can without over doing it.”

“I have the fuel and that is working out great! Can’t say enough about the products. But if I did I would say that I use to put out 100% and then have to push which took a lot of energy. Now I have more energy and staying power at 100%, so when I push I don’t feel like I’ll break or hurt myself. So way more confidence.”

-Ed Drayton, Ventura NABA player

Q&A: Machines and Variable Resistance

I’ve been working out at my home club and they got some new machines from Hoist Fitness with “ROX” technology, which basically means your seat moves as you curl or row or whatever. It feels neat and according to the weight stacks, the change in resistance per plate is nonlinear and differs depending on the user’s weight.

From a kinesiological point of view, are there any benefits to this, either in results or just reducing stress on joints or something? The description from their website is here:

Hoist Fitness Roc-It Technology

I had not heard of it. It is certainly an interesting design. My assumption is that the nonlinear change it weight is consistently an increased load toward end range of motion. There are certainly some pros to equipment of this nature, but in the end the benefits tend to be joint, muscle, user specific. One con…an person who is overweight may not have a matching strength to body-weight ratios and may find this equipment difficult to use or set up appropriately.

Nautilus was the first on the market with stuff like this (variable resistance) with their cam systems a few decades ago. Claimed it was the miracle machine as load was supposed to perfectly mimic the human muscle strength curve (weaker to stronger to weaker). Problem is that everyone has different limb lengths, tendon attachment points (therefore varying leverages), as well as different muscle and movements do not always follow the weak-strong-weak strength curve (i.e. squatting tends to be a weak to strong movement if measuring from the bottom of the movement up to the standing finish). I can’t tell from the website if this equipment expands/modifies these problems without using it. However, worst case scenario is that it is a nice biomechanical variation for your muscles.

In the end, I have tended to be more and more of a fan of “free-weight” types of movement. Reason being is that I think it is important for everyone to gain control over their bodies moving through space since that is still primarily how we interact with our environment (though more technology and machinery could change that in the years to come). Balance, stability, proprioception, etc. are things that are simply not developed at all–or as well–on machines. There are benefits to machines. But I always encourage machine use to be more of a beginner mode or a mode that is used in the minority with advanced exercisers.

Movement is good…quality movement in free space is better.

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