Category Archives: Healthy Body

5 Things to Consider before giving away Personal Training Sessions to Friends

This is an area of contention and debate for a lot of people, both clients and trainers alike.  My stance may change in the future, but currently I do not train friends for free.  Here is why.

The client has no vested interest in a free session or sessions, there’s nothing to lose. 

Sometimes it can help one’s motivation if there is something on the line.  Putting a financial wager on their fitness is often enough for people to work out. If they don’t do it they are out no money.  They can always do it later.

This also adds value to the session

I tried to look at it from a client’s perspective. After all even as a personal trainer I still see the benefit of having a trainer myself and I do on a very regular basis.  Do I train with people that only charge peanuts for their services? Absolutely not.  My trainer is $70 per hour.  Free sessions can then be viewed as being of lesser quality.  If I see $5 personal training sessions being advertised I immediately question that trainer’s qualifications.  I think to myself “something has to be up. Something is off with that offer.”

You Need to Optimize Your Time

Time is money.  Focusing on paying clients only makes business sense.  Pouring time into clients who are not ready and those who will not pay is unfortunately not a practical way to make a living.  Keep these people in the back of your mind, stay in touch but focus on those that are ready to invest completely including monetarily.

My advice if you are contemplating training friends for free –

  • Stay positive.  This is a hard industry.  Not seeing clients on a regular basis can wear on a person’s confidence. You got this. Keep your chin up.
  • Don’t give your services away.  Stay the course with your pricing.  You can give discounts now and then but do not give it away.  Remember, your time is valuable too.
  • Give your business enough time to grow.  A couple days, a couple weeks or even a couple of months is not enough.  I realized you need to plant a few seeds in the minds of people about who you are and what you do before your business will flourish.
  • Keep in touch with your contacts and friends; both who are interested now and those who may be later. Remember, these friends have friends of friends and they too might be looking for a healthy change.
  • Work on your elevator pitch to attract clients.  The elevator pitch is a 30 second sales speech you can give a prospect.  You want to be ready for clients or friends who may end up sometimes just falling in your lap, looking for a trainer.

Friends will understand that this is a business and will ultimately understand you need to help people but also make a living. Do not feel guilty about that.  Take pride in what you do, again do NOT give it away, focus on your passion and everything will work out.




Why I felt like giving up on powerlifting after using the conjugate system | powerlifting,conjugate method, overtraining

Always looking for something new in terms of increasing the effectiveness of my workouts, I decided to try the Conjugate Method.  For those of you who don’t know, the Conjugate is a training system is one of the most widely known and revered powerlifting programs out there.  It was developed by the legendary Louie Simmons who has trained some of the strongest men on the planet at his famous Westside Barbell gym.

Directly from Louie Simmons’  Westside Barbell website

“He has trained 36 men who have benched over 700 pounds, 10 over 800, and 2 over 900 pounds. In addition Louie has 19 athletes who have squatted over 1000 pounds, 6 over 1100 and 2 over 1200”.

Those are some serious numbers.

Now, Louie has forgotten more about weight training than I will ever know, but I wanted to put this piece together to give my perspective on what that type of conjugate system did for me; what I liked, what I did not like and the effect it had on my max lifts as well as overall well-being.

Being that I was and still am quite green when it comes to powerlifting, I knew nothing of this type of conjugate training prior to last April.  In April of 2015 I had joined a powerlifting gym and was really focused on just adding strength or at the very least maintaining my strength as I edge ever closer to 40.  Prior workouts consisted of basically a bodybuilding routine where I would lift 3-4 days per week, alternating either upper/lower body splits or pairing two to three bodyparts per day.

I will not go into tremendous detail about what this system involves, that can be found Here.  I will however give you a brief overview of what is involved in this type of training. Even a brief overview is kind of complicated as you will see.   I will give approximations on numbers of sets and percentages.

The goal here is  strength, pure and simple.

  • 4 training sessions per week
  • 2 sessions are max-effort bench press or max effort squat/deadlift. I performed 8-10 sets, the last 3 sets being somewhere around 90-95% 1RM singles
  • 2 sessions are dynamic sessions where 60-80% of or a 1RM is used, often assisted with bands or chains for 25% of that total weight. These percentages will change based on exercise and based on where you are in your cycle.  Again, look Here for a detailed overview.  I did 8-10 sets of explosive 3 reps, very short rest time of 30 seconds to 1 minute between sets.
  • Each session also contains accessory movements where supporting muscles of the session are also worked. IE you might perform some tricep work on your bench day or some hamstring mobility work on you squat day, etc.  I had been choosing 2-3 sets of 2-3 exercises.
  • At Least 48 hours rest between max-effort upper and dynamic-effort upper.  Same can be said for max-effort lower and dynamic-effort lower body days.
  • I had alternated squat weeks with deadlift weeks on my lower body days.
  • Regarding accessory work I did my best not to repeat exercises for more than 3 weeks.  Regarding max-effort/dynamic-effort days, the variations will vary weekly.  IE on max-effort bench press week 1 I might do board press and week 2 I might do incline press.
  • A copy of my workout log can be found  here – My conjugate program


So how did I fare?

What I liked

High motivation early on.   I really enjoyed working in the 90% or greater range of my one-rep maximum.  It made sense to me that by using weights in the 90% or more of your 1RM you would condition your system to get very used to that load and you would grow stronger.

I also liked the break in workload by doing dynamic days.  This was lighter weight, explosion is the focus.

Variety was this plan’s greatest attribute.  Everything was constantly changing and that seemed to keep me interested and my motivation high.


What I did not like

Sounds like I basically loved all of it, right?  Not so much.There is one glaring problem I had with this program and it overshadowed all the fun I initially had on this program; overtraining was extremely easy to do.

Max-effort days began to wear me down by week 10.  I just had hit a wall and could not generate the motivation to train.  I stopped wanting to go to the gym.  I started having problems sleeping, concentration was limited and I started to get headaches and of course libido was way down.  Heart seemed to race for no reason, I was beyond fatigued.  These are all the classic signs of overtraining.  I not only wanted to quit this program by week 10 but I wanted to quit training altogether.

Being stubborn I did not quit at week 10.  I kept pushing on.  I thought I had to suck it up and push forward.  Regardless, I still made nice progress for the first 3 months.

  • Bench press Max:  280-305
  • Squat Max: I battled an injury and switched from high-bar to low bar so my max did not change. 315.
  • Deadlift Max:  365-385

At week 13 I decided to take a week off. I came back and still did not want to train.  I spent that first week back doing light work, nothing remotely close to failure and my interest and motivation grew.  I took a second week of moderate training and I really started to feel it again.  From that point on I decided that the conjugate program just was not for me.  Perhaps I am not tough enough, don’t have the recovery ability, I don’t know.

So I did get some results. It turned out that this is not a program that I can follow indefinitely, but I did learn a lot about powerlifting, my own limitations and I was able to break several plateaus.  It was worth the effort.




Being sick and water weight | over reacting to waterweight gain during sickness

Everybody will get sick eventually.  No matter how hard you work to take care of yourself it is inevitable that a cold or the flu will sneak through. The body can become extremely efficient and fight off most of it, but you’re not perfect.  So, you get sick, your body adapts, fights it off and regains its strength or even comes back stronger.

My first thought when I get sick isn’t about what I’ll do about missed appointments at work or meetings I won’t be available for.  One of my current jobs (that shall remain nameless) isn’t really one I care that much for so a few days off is pretty sweet.   I welcome the break from work. My apprehension comes when it comes to what it will do to my body. I think, “Oh my god. I’m going to miss my gym time!”

Being very active and regularly exercising, I enjoy the benefit of rarely getting sick.  Unfortunately when I do get sick its usually quite significant.  This past winter I had come into contact with what I thought was for sure some version of the bubonic plague.  It was terrible.  Rundown, congested, a cough that would not stop and lasted over 2 weeks, and constant fluid in my lungs causing me to wheeze day and night.  I had previously had a couple bouts of pneumonia so that also crossed my mind.

Is this going to be another bout of pneumonia? Not even kidding but people die from stuff like this, don’t they?

The wheezing would annoy me so much that the mere sound of it would prevent me from sleeping.

What in the hell is that noise?..Oh, wait..its coming from me.

While getting my body healthy, drinking plenty of water and missing several workouts for 2 weeks and then some, I noticed that what I had lost in strength seemed to be replaced by water weight.


I thought my diet remained the same.  If anything I had been eating less, but my weight grew 6 lbs in a very short time.


Part of this was just how I react to sickness.  Some people lose weight, others like me seem to want to retain water.  Some doctors told me it was a result of inflammation, others said it was just the excess water I was taking in.  When I looked at things closely I think it was mostly diet.

No. I was eating less, but I was consuming a lot more carbohydrates and specifically a lot more breads and a ton more sweets.  When I looked back at my actual diet log I saw that there was a daily sugar fix, sometimes less sometimes more but it was a weight gremlin plotting, adding pounds to my diet.  I simply craved simple sugars.  I took in these simple sugars, spiked my insulin, craved more sugars, took in more sugars and the cycle continues.

Was all of this a fat gain?

Every 1 gram of carbs holds roughly 3 grams of water.  1 gram of water weighs 0.00220462. lbs, seems like a very small number right?  You can easily have a favorite ice cream treat that is in the 100-150 grams of carb range.  Lets say you eat clean all day but indulge at night and have this treat.  Now lets say you go over on carbs about 150 grams for 5 days in a row.  All of a sudden you are at 750 grams.

Each of those grams (750) holds 3 grams of water.

3 * 750 = 2250 water grams

2250 *0.00220462 (lbs per gram of water) = 4.96 lbs.

You could easily show a 5 lb gain on the scale in one week.  Some days I ate less, some days I ate more, but most of those days I ended up eating something super rich in simple sugars.  Of course I would eat it quickly, further aiding my insulin spike.

My sickness did eventually stop.  I got better and I got stronger.  I took my time, did not panic and resumed my workouts.  Slowly but surely the weight came off.  I think it was about 3 weeks and I was back to normal weight.  I could have probably done it in half that, but I had no urge to rush it.

So if you find yourself in a similar situation, you are not alone.  Take a deep breath, step back and look at the entire picture.

  • Are you truly staying on your diet?
  • How has your sleep been?
  • What is your water intake?

All of the above can drastically change when you’re not feeling well.  Don’t let temporary weight gain stop you from your long-term weight goals.


Sounds like Bubble-Wrap, Feels Like the Back Going Out (Part 2 of 2)

If you read part 1 of this you know that I ended up hurting my back or should I say, I ended up doing something to my back that sounded like bubble-wrap.

After I finished my session I did some glute activation bridges with a dumbell across my lap and this made my back pain go away some, but I was still in discomfort. It wasn’t until 2 days later that my wife asked how my back felt and asked if she could take a look.

I took off my shirt and tried to pretend that I wasn’t flexing or sucking in my gut when she looked at my back and said “There is seriously something wrong there.  It looks like an alien trying to come out the side of your back. You NEED to get that looked at!”

I agreed and scheduled a consultation with my chiropractor.  What did he find?

  • The sound I heard was more than likely torn ligaments.
  • Partially torn erector/multifidi
  • Left hip is slightly higher than the right, contributing to the uneven pressure and awkward pulling of my back muscles.
  • Left knee pain which I had previously experienced was getting progressively worse after my back injury.  Very overactive left hamstring and underactive right and left quadracpets.
  • Underactive glute medius, greater on the left, contributing to my knee issues
  • Underactive abdominal muscles, causing my back muscles to overwork and be exposed as they are not supported.
  • My over/under grip on the bar was never alternated.  Right hand always on top and left hand always underhand.  This lead to an awkward and uneven pull on my oblique muscles which also contributed to an uneven back musculature.

What was my regimine?  What did I do to help correct my imbalances and even improve on the strength I had prior to injury?

  • 2-3 days per week for 6 weeks of physical therapy.  Physical therapy consisted of accupuncture treatments in my lower back as well as e-stem electrical stimulation, manual therapy (massage), core and abdominal strengthening as well as lower back hypertrophy.
  • Glute activation exercises – These were a huge part to my rehab.  I started doing them at the clinic during my rehab and then added these exercises 3-4 days per week and performed them at home.  Sometimes I would just clinch my back end as I sat in a chair but most of the time this work was either a weighted glute bridge or a glute activation stance:  Legs slightly wider than shoulder width, knees bent. Slightly swaying left to right and then right to left As I move to each side I would move far enough so that my opposite foot rose slightly off the ground.  This one looked very bizarre, but if you can do it for 3 minutes or more and keep that stance you will feel a tremendous burn in your glute medius.
  • Abdominal exercises – I performed these two to three days per week.  Each session usually consisted of 2 to 3 exercises, 2 to 3 sets each.  Exercises included regular planks, side planks, captains chair, multiple variations of swiss ball crunches and movements as well as several variations of floor crunches and cable crunches.  Reps were fairly high, 10 or more.
  • Massage therapy – Every two week to a month I would get a deep tissue massage with focus on working my low back and glute area. Looking back I think I would have done this every week if I went through this injury again.
  • I completely rethought my deadlift setup, corrected what was wrong and focussed on finding a new, solid form.

After three months I was able to pull 300 lbs.  My confidence started to grow.

By four months I had set a new deadlift PR of 375 and a new bench press PR of 300.

It has been a ton of work but more than worth it.  This entire experience has made me a stronger lifter and has increased my mental toughness as well.  I plan to use what I have learned to take my lifts to even higher levels and most importantly, help others do the same.



Sounds like Bubble-Wrap, Feels Like the Back Going Out (Part 1 of 2)

This summer in the span of  one month I had made a nice jump in deadlift from 335 to 350.  However after hitting 350 my progress stalled.  I tried all sorts of different routines and nothing seemed to make a difference.  I tried low reps, high reps, rack pulls at different heights.  None of it seemed to matter.  I decided to seek the help of a fellow powerlifter, someone who had a wickedly powerful deadlift and who had been around the industry much longer than myself.  I had given him the nickname “Dr. Deadlift.”

To protect the innocent I will refer to them as Mark.  I say this because this injury that was about to take place was entirely my own doing.  I do these lifts with the known risk that something could happen, that I could get severely injured.  That is the chance you take when you try and push yourself.

Now, I had taken sessions with this person before.  With Mark’s guidance I had gone from 335 to 350.  I felt confident that they could get me past this plateau.  I felt like it was mostly a mental block but that there was something physical that I was not seeing.  Maybe I was sitting too high, maybe my shoulders were rounded.  I was sure Mark would spot it, correct it and we could move on.

We began to warm-up as normal. Shoes off. I made my way to the platform.  To lift in socks is something I had recently picked up.  That slight quarter inch your shoe height adds can make more of a difference than you think.  Unlike bodybuilding where you are looking for the greatest range motion, with powerlifting you are looking for the shortest bar path, the shortest range of motion. Taking the shoes off reduced the distance of the bar and I was looking for every possible advantage.

I make my way to the platform.  No anxiety here as I know the warmups will not show much until I make my way into the 300 lb range and get closer to my maximum.  At this time the most I had pulled was 370.

First, the bar for 10 reps.

Then 135 for 8.

225 for 5

275 for 1

315 for a single.

Mark explained, “Everything looks good. The only thing I would recommend is you’re sitting back a lot, almost like a squat.  We want to use our low back and hip drive more. Obviously we do not want to arch the back and put yourself into a weak position, but pulling more upright and squeezing your glutes at the top to drive the hips should bring more power.”

I made the adjustment and also pulled with the bar slightly in front of me.  The weight went up fairly quickly.

“That feels really awkward. Felt like it moved super slow.”

“Not at all! Good bar speed. Lets move it up some and try 350” Mark recommended.

We move onto 350.  I chalk up, grasp the bar and pull.  It gets to my knees and does not move an inch higher.

Mark looks at me with disbelief.  “There should be no reason that should not have gone up. From the floor to your knee was super fast. Lets try again.”

Again I pull and again it goes to my knee and stops abruptly.

“Shoulders, low back and head are all in good position. Sorry, Dan this is just baffling.  Lets do some pause deadlifts later tonight, some Romanian deadlifts and really try and work on that top portion of the lift.  Alright. Ready to try one more time?”

I nodded.

Again I got over the bar.  I did not feel at all confident but I decided to try again.  I really wanted to get this so I gave a good jerk to gain some momentum before I pulled. I felt the dramatic stop at the top again but held tight, straining to finish the lift, lock it out. And then I heard what I can only describe as the sound of bubble-wrap and it was coming from my lower back. I dropped the bar and walked away. My first thought was “Did I just hear that? Did anyone else hear that?”

I could stand up and I could walk with no problem but I had the feeling that something was out of place.  I thought it was just a slight muscle pull, I had felt something in that lower right side a couple weeks back when I was doing rack pulls.

“I did something to my lower back with that last attempt. I don’t think I have another one in me,” I said with the sound of defeat and frustration in my voice.

I then tried pause deadlifts with 135.  The pain in my lower back was intense. I reached around and touched the spot that was hurting and I felt a noticeable lump in my lumbar spine.

“Nope. I can’t do those either.”

Mark looked at my back and pressed his thumb into the fleshy protrusion.  “Yup. You definitely pulled something. Take a week or two off and rest. Get it checked out if it continues to bother you or gets worse.  Get healthy and we’ll try again.”

Part II will be out shortly.  In part II I go into more detail regarding the injury and rehab