Getting Stable First


Being Stable

Before we do the tough stuff we have to get a handle on being stable.

It’s a no-brainer if we imagine seeing a person who hasn’t been lifting for long. Someone moving with purpose, or with speed and power, trying to life a heavy weight.

I can visualize the back rounding, the knees caving in, and their neck either rounded tight or sticking out at a sharp angle up.

There is a basic lack of understanding and body feel how to stabilize your body in order to lift something heavy, or apply force when moving. Think of the squat jump.


One of the key focuses we had in our gym, going around and helping our clients get the most of exercise, was to gain and keep stability.

Most of our coaching cues are about stacking the joints, bracing the core to anchor a move and where to look.

All of these things help keep your body in alignment so that when you are moving with force and speed, your body becomes a smooth moving machine.

Watching a professional Olympic lifter is like watching a dance. They keep the bar in one plane, going up and down and they move around the bar.

Considering the weight that they perform with, they have to stay stable and find stability quickly.

If they cave they get hurt.

Starting Out

When starting a new activity or sport, get familiar with the basic moves and try to find stability within them.

That is one reason why they say “slow is smooth, and smooth is fast”.

Going slow forces you to find stability in the movement.

This helps ingrain good movement patterns, which will help prevent injury. Once mastered, this will help movement become fast and efficient.

Maybe you tend to “go for it” when starting up? Have you ever jumped the gun with both feet first and tried to ”crush it” on your first attempt? Instead, maybe consider the long game and find stability first.

As you train today check in and look for stability. Cheers!!

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Endure For A While


Endure As Long As Needed

Being able to physically endure an activity, for an extended period of time, translates into how much you may enjoy it.

One of the things that I miss, and I am not looking forward to regaining when getting more active, is endurance.

The longer that I can do something, the more fun I find it to do.

If you can run 6 miles and feel reasonable afterwards, then 1-3 miles is a piece of cake.

The first mile feels less like self inflicted torture and more like the start of the run that it is.

Your lungs won’t be on fire, your thighs won’t be screaming.

Energy will just be building and you will feel more and more energized.

What A Feeling

When you have endurance you can also practice longer.

You will not fatigue as quickly, or to the same extent.

Your recovery will be a bit faster as well.

When you are looking to improve a part of being active, to increase enjoyment consider working on improving your endurance first.

Endurance is about how long you can, which applies to more than cardiovascular activities.

It can be how long you hold a plan.

How many times you can jump over the picknick table.

The number of push-ups you can do.

There is a mental game to it as well.

You need to battle the monotony and the inner goblins that may be working against you.

The ones telling you it is OK to stop, even though you feel perfectly fine, just a little uncomfortable.

Play the mental game and improve your endurance to find the fun in the things you do for training. Cheers!!

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Being the coach

Training when you're a coach can be a challenge!

Initially, I wanted to coach because I figured it was a good way to get people to train with.

Boy was I wrong!

The problem, of course, isn’t the actual people I’m training.

The biggest problem pretty much any coach or trainer has?

While the training session is happening, it’s your job to make sure they move in ways to make sure they won’t get hurt.

Can’t really do that if your nose is to the ground and you’ve got tunnel vision from exertion.

Of course, things are a bit more flexible if everybody who’s participating are knowledgeable about their own movement.

Also, they have to know what good movement means in a given situation.

So with more experienced participants, the coach is more likely to be able to “lead from the front”.

With less experienced participants, the opposite is true.

With great success comes great responsibility…

Anybody who coaches wants to be successful.

In training studios, that typically means a fair bit of “passing through” people.

People start, decide the training or trainer isn’t for them and move on.

Others start, decide this is the thing for them and stay.

New people come along and fill the gaps.

As more new people add themselves, the coach obviously has more to do to help them.


For a trainer, more success means less time to train for themselves.

This is, most of the time, why some coaches find their own trainers for themselves.

They get to train somewhere other than in their own studio (It’s nice to get out occasionally).

As a trainer, it’s a relief to not have to think about what we’re supposed to do for the workout (though as I’ve mentioned before, it can be difficult to shut up for us coaches…)

It’s also a regular appointment you have to get to (otherwise you’re wasting money).

That is probably the single biggest reason I can think of to hire somebody to help me train.

Others have other reasons.

Whatever it is, it’s probably a good one!

Something to ponder if you’re a trainer and find your own training has been lacking?

Or, if you’re not a trainer, and VPT is your jam, maybe it doesn’t matter at all.

Either way, have a great time training today!

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Walk Awake


Walk Yourself Awake

Need to wake up? Go for a walk!

Going for a short walk first thing in the morning gets the brain fired up.

This morning, I went for a 30 minute walk and felt pretty awake most of the day.

I am going to give it a try tomorrow as well.

Get a good nights sleep, take a shower, eat some food and walk.

It also helps me pretend I am walking to work. Instead of rolling out of bed and starting to work.

I have been getting up, showering and having breakfast, but not walking.

It will be interesting to see how well it continues to work.

Maybe I will sleep better, which would be amazing!

Morning Active

Do you like to do activities in the morning that get you going?

Maybe your day already ingrates it in, like walking to work.

Or, being in front of a group of people (kids) and moving around while giving instructions.

Office workers and drivers have it tough.

There is a lot of sitting, unless you decide to be different and set a reminder to move every once in awhile.

Bringing your lunch to work can be a good thing, but it can also lead to eating at your desk.

That is not such a good thing.

Of course, every now and then, it might need to be done…

Most of the time, taking at least 20 minutes to eat your lunch is great break during the day.

Middle of the Day Walk

When I was between semesters of school and working a full time temp job, lunch was my walking time.

I wasn’t really there, at the temp job, to make friends. Plus, the job was mindless.

To stay a wake in the afternoon, I needed to get my circulation pumping.

Granted, at the time my nutrition was awful.

A diet coke does not a meal make!

I was in my early twenties, so give me a break.

Now that I know more it is still a challenge to consistently choose wisely as to what my next meal will be.

As fatigue and tiredness hits, less thinking and more feeling is involved.

Try a walk to wake up, any time of day and see what happens for you.

Train a little, walk a little, and stay awake. Cheers!!

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Warning, It’s Winter


Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall

Today we had a winter blizzard in Denver.

I won’t fault you for thinking a blizzard at winter in Denver should be expected.

Those of us who live here know how unusual it actually is.

This specific winter blizzard seems like a fairly mild thing, here in the city.

I’ve lived in New Hampshire and Norway, so snow accumulation measured in inches and not feet seems fairly “not all that blizzard like”.

But on the plains, without trees or cover, I can imagine how snow blowing sideways could be a bit scary.

You would not care all that much about accumulation when you can’t drive because the wind it too strong and you can barely see.


Lucky for us a storm comes and goes, just like each season.

It is a great reminder that nothing is constant.

Change is the norm, not repetition.

I wonder if it’s possible to find repetition in the adaptation to change.

The thought that change becomes the comfort of being alive.

Not settling into a routine which, when it gets up-ended, sends your life in S

I like small routines, like a good morning ritual.

But some things cause more stress. That is, unless they are “handled”.

We have a vacation coming up that needs a little planning.

I do not want to be the one to set the plans because then I want to stick to that plan.

I find it frustrating to spend time getting things organized, only to have spontaneity make light of your plans.

Going with the flow seems easier.

Letting someone else take the lead. (Ed: Message received!)

What do you like?

To take the lead and make a plan, or just follow along?

Is adapting to change its own form of comfort?

If you feel that way, why?

Enjoy the season you are in while training, it will be gone soon. Cheers!

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J E T L A GGGG, A State of Tiredness


State of Tiredness

After I have been in Denmark for a week and now back, jetlag has put me in a state of tiredness.

Today, for instance, I can already tell that when the sun goes down, I will be useless.

True, I have been in bed by 8:15 the past two nights and asleep in about 5-10 minutes…

In Denmark that same time is the 4:00 am golden hours. The last two hours of sleep before I had to get up.

Each day I felt like I could sleep until real late.

But, I love my morning routine when I am there, so it gets me up and going.

It makes my day pretty good.

Routine To Fight the Jet Lag

What gets me up in the morning while in Denmark is the amazing breakfast at the hotel and the nice walk to work, though a couple of parks.

One of the parks is a favorite of the local dogs, so there is always dog watching on my way to and from work.

A dog can easily put a smile on your face, even if it is cold and rainy.

Back here in Denver, my routine does not have the same perks.

I do not get fresh hearty bread, three different ones to choose from.

I’m not getting really good coffee, coffee that does not seem to get me all hyped up.

And of course, the walk with dogs and the amazing buildings to look at.

At home, I mosy on from bed to the shower and then find myself something to eat.

Next I am on-line and working.

I keep hoping to get in a morning and afternoon walk.

With daylight savings time, my mornings are once again back in the dark.

I am not very comfortable heading out for a walk around 7:30am.


I do think it would be fun to pretend that I’m walking to the office and then walk home from the office.

That way I would get in two half hour walks, each day.

My body would thank me for that and so would my mind!

How are your morning routines going? Did you consider how those help set up your day?

Train a little and get off to a great start! Cheers!

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The best kind of training

A conversation this morning got me thinking about what I consider the best kind of training.

If you’d asked me 15 years ago, I’d have said “none”.

Then something happened and some 5 years later the answer would have been very different.

At the time, my answer was whatever workout where I was so exhausted, I barely managed to drag myself to bed, shaking, before I fell asleep.

It was a dumb answer.

It’s an answer based on ignorance and thinking “harder” equals “better”.

Turns out, that isn’t completely true.

As with all things the human body is capable of achieving, the answer to “what is the best kind of training” (intensity) is…

It depends.

If your goal is to improve your cardiovascular capacity – your breathing and recovery during exercise – and you’re NOT an elite level athlete, training at between 40-80% of your VO2max is more effective than higher intensities.

If you’re untrained, keep to between 40-60% of your VO2max to give yourself the most effective/quick adaptation.

The more trained you are, the higher the intensity needs to be to get the same degree of adaptation.

If you’ve trained for a while, feel in decent cardiovascular shape and want to get better, you have to kick the intensity up to between 70-80% of your VO2max.

What is your “VO2max“.

Since your VO2max is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during intense exercise, it can be measured objectively.

To get an accurate read it just takes a bit of equipment and serious effort. The effort will be all yours.

However, you there are several methods you can use to estimate your own VO2max with a bit of math and knowing your actual min/max heart rates.

This isn’t as precise, but if you use the same method it will help you identify relative improvements.

It is, speaking frankly, all most of us need.

To know what the best kind of training (intensity) is going to be for you, start by figuring out what your VO2max might be.

Then figure out where you fit in the typical ranges for your age bracket/sex.

Know that and “Bob’s yer uncle!” when it comes to training intensity.

Occasionally, you should go above or below your “optimal range”, but most of the time try to stay right in the middle.

If you do, you’ll see some interesting changes to how quickly your heart rate recovers during exercise.

And that – how fast your heart rate returns to normal/recovers – is the best sign of how fit you actually are.

Now, get out there and do the best kind of training (for you) today. Cheers!

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The mental game

Is your Mental Game on point?

I was talking with a friend today about why I started watching the Patriots Football team. For me, it’s been all about the mental game.

We moved to the US and New England in 2000, the same time as Tom Brady arrived as a 6th round draft pick (number 199).

I had no clue who Tom Brady was at the time, obviously (being foreign and all).

Nor did I know much about the Patriots or American Football.

I’d watched a few Denver Broncos games on TV while going to school in Colorado.

Then some of the 1997 and 1998 Super Bowl appearances where the Broncos won. We watched those two games in Norway.

They were rough games to watch, starting after midnight.

We arrived in New England a few months after Tom Brady was drafted.

Tom Brady’s Mental Game

I believe I had my eyes opened to the phenom that is Mr. Brady during the Patriot’s 5th game in the 2001 season where they played the San Diego Chargers.

The team trailed the Chargers by 10 points in the 4th quarter and Brady led the 10 point pick-up which led to the field goal win in overtime.

If the team had lost at that point, it wouldn’t have been a big deal.

To watch a relatively fresh quarterback complete drive after drive at that point in his career tipped me off that something was different about this guy.

I’ve always been interested in the mental strength some athletes show when everything appears to go sideways.

The ability to bring focus and determination when it matters.

To lock out all distractions…

And simply deliver.

It may not sound like much, but if you look, you’ll find a few interesting examples of superstars who can’t do this.

For me, Payton Manning was an example of someone who didn’t quite have the same mental strength.

Not that he didn’t perform. His record speaks for itself.

But, when it really, really mattered, Manning seemed to crumble. Time after time. Just look at the Colt’s losses in the 2006 and 2009 Super Bowls.

Brady on the other hand seems to shift into some secret mental 6th gear and take off.

Of course, there are cases where that doesn’t happen.

The 2019 Super Bowl overtime drive was a great example of this behavior.

Before that final drive, you couldn’t be faulted for thinking Brady had lost a step or two.

At overtime, they win the ball. Brady is handed the ball and ends the game.

It was first time all game where he’d been able to execute a “traditional” Brady drive.

And it happened the one time it really mattered for his team.

Now, I’m not going to pretend the successes and failures are due to the Quarterback alone.

That’d be dumb.

But there is something about having a leader who doesn’t quit.

Someone who doesn’t seem to quit, and actually seems to play ever better when things are going badly, will inspire the whole team to reach that bit further.

There are plenty of examples where you see the mental strength of the athlete being the difference between winning and losing.

It’s more difficult to discover in team sports because the whole team contributes.

An easier place to find examples are in individual sports like running, golf or tennis.

Just look for athletes or players who seem to be having a rough period, yet somehow manage to pull themselves back up again and win when it really matters.

The ones to look for win consistently, in spite of the difficulties they’re facing.

Therese Jordhaug

Another off-the-top of my head athlete would be the Norwegian cross-country skier Therese Jordhaug.

In 2016 she tested positive for steroid use. She had received a cream to treat acute sunburn on her lips from her doctor.

The doctor bought the cream at a local pharmacy during training in Italy. Jordhaug had trusted her doctor, so she didn’t check the ingredient list.

It contained a banned substance.

Her doctor stated he’d failed to notice this fact and submitted his resignation.

The amount she had taken indicated she had indeed been exposed by applying something to her lips. Also, the detected levels were too small to have had a performance enhancing effect.

The normal suspension for a first-time doping offense is four years.

However, due to the “non-significant fault by the athlete”, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) set her penalty to 18 months.

This was long enough to cause her to miss the 2018 Olympics.

Jordhaug was prevented from training with her national team during her ban.

Being a 28 year old at the time, there are quite a few athletes who’d have retired.

In spite of this, Therese Jordhaug continued to train, mostly on her own, and returned to the Cross-Country Skiing arena after her ban in 2018.

Her season so far, after 2.5 years off?

She’s been crushing her competition.

Taking eight individual gold medals in eight World Cup starts between November and January making her the current World Cup leader.

Plus she captured 3 gold medals and a silver during the 2019 World Championships.

Some of her victories are nothing short of impressive exhibits of physical (and mental) strength, considering the distances and the quality of the competition.

Working on your own mental strength

Before you hit the gym today, what could you come up with to improve your own mental game?

How can you become more resilient and able to elevate your performance when it really matters?

Can you learn something about reaching your peak performance, in spite of everything stacking up against you?

Something to think about while you train today?

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Overtraining, what is”too much”?

Overtraining, how much is too much? - Image: Dennis Kwaria [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

When it comes to training, what is too much?

Has anybody told you to be careful about overtraining?

Overtraining / “Too much training” …

[…] occurs when a person exceeds their body’s ability to recover from strenuous exercise

Wikipedia – Overtraining

Seems simple enough, but what is actually your ability to recover from strenuous exercise?

It all depends on how well trained you are when you start.

So, by definition, “how much is too much” will depend on how much sensible training you’ve done.

A personal trainer friend once said that he believed it unlikely for amateur athletes to suffer from overtraining.

I tend to agree with that sentiment.

It takes a lot of continuous and intense training to suffer from overtraining/too much training.

Just think about

There are some notable exceptions.

The exceptions tend to circle around inexperienced coaches who value high volume, high intensity training above all.

To suffer from overtraining, you’ll have to train for more than a one hour session per day.

Of course, if the training volume is ramped up sensibly, it probably won’t be a problem.

By “sensibly”, I mean over time.

Avoiding “too much”, aka overtraining

At first, low volume/low intensity sessions taking up most of the total training volume.

Next build up the intensity in some of the sessions, over several weeks.

Then start increasing the volume of higher intensity sessions.

All while making sure you have pull-back weeks and rest days sprinkled strategically throughout.

Following this plan will let you adapt to the volume and intensity.

You can probably maintain it for durations of 4-5 weeks at a time without getting anywhere near the “too much” stage.

When it comes to training, you and I probably have very different definitions of intensity!

What if..?

The clinical version overtraining probably isn’t in your future.

You can still set yourself up for overuse injuries if you’re not mindful of your training patterns.

Training the same muscle groups multiple days in a row, never letting them recover won’t make you stronger.

It will make those muscles weaker.

Minimally 48 hours of recovery for that muscle group after training is a great rule of thumb.

A normal adult between 18 – 50 years old will see gains if they train strength/resistance at least twice per week.

You can also train resistance a little more, without it being detrimental to your development.

3 times per week ensures the recommended recovery and has a slightly elevated adaptation benefit.

Adaptation benefit = more strength and endurance.

So to get the most out of your strength training, do it 2-3 times per week.

The other days you should either focus on completely different body parts[1], or – much better(!) – focus on active recovery.

A great active recovery activity is to go for a brisk walk.

It will help recovery by pumping oxygen & nutrient rich blood to your trained muscles.

The oxygen and nutrients help repair the muscles and your body grows them stronger/bigger.

This repair process is how the body adapts to the workload you just put it through.

Something to think about as you put in your best effort during training today?

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PS: It’s mildly ironic that the article on Wikipedia about Overtraining contained a warning when I wrote this.

[1] = I’m not a fan of training body parts. It’s not very useful in real life!

Slow Down, Speed Up

speed-Wallpoper [Public domain]

Add Speed By Slowing Down

Have you ever done something so fast that you made mistakes?

Mistakes that made you have to redo what you just did, or set you back more than when you started.

Speed seems like a good idea, until you get in your own way.

You start cutting corners without really thinking about it.

It becomes easy to look too far ahead and miss what needs to happen next.

Being motivated by what you want to achieve is a good thing, but realizing it is the process of getting to make it happen, that makes it happen.


I was the math student who always wrote down the answer, but did not write down how I got to the answer.

Whenever the teacher would ask, I only wondered why it was important.

Wasn’t the answer being right or wrong all that mattered?

As I got older I learned with time that it was the steps to get you to the answer that were the most important.

They reveal whether you truly understood the process to get to the answer.

Of course, it was a surefire way to know that you were probably not cheating.

Having the process broken down made it easier for the teacher to provide feedback as well.

If something did not add up, they could point to the part that caused things to go sideways.

Movement Application

Not only does going slow build strength and control, it also lets you ingrain a movement pattern.

Going slow is less impact on your joints as well, which will help you to stay active for longer.

It is a great complement to other sports.

A quick and simple exercise is to take the basic movements of your favorite activity, then slow it down.

Pretend you are pushing through molasses.

Imagining resistance to your movements, creating tension in your muscles.

After you have this down, start to speed up while trying to keep the fluidity, agility, and mobility of your movements.

My guess is, after awhile you will be moving faster, even faster than if you would have gone for speed from the start.

Add a little slow-mo to your training today. Cheers!!

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