Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Training at Home

I am now accepting clients for home training remotely via internet conference apps. Email me at for more information.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Online Training & the Age of COVID-19

The onslaught of COVID-19 has meant so many negative things for society, and for the lives of people affected directly and indirectly.

The need to keep people separate for their health and safety has also meant the closure of gyms and the inability of people to get to the place where they keep up their health.

I've switched my training clients to exclusively online training for the duration of this medical emergency. I'll extend it further for client for whom it makes the most sense to continue online, due to distance or circumstance.

Training remotely has its own challenges, but its own rewards, too.

The rewards are continued health and fitness in the comfort of your own home. No commute to the gym, nobody hogging the equipment you need to use, and no concerns about pet sitters, child care, and how to fit in the extra time to get to and from the session.

The challenges are the need for your own equipment in your own home. It's minimal equipment, of course, and I'm happy to say that for well under $100 you can equip yourself with everything you need to stay fit at home. You need reasonably good internet access and a phone, tablet, or phone with a good camera.

You also need a trainer for the best results. I say that as a trainer, but also as a trainee - I have my own coach, someone I've worked with for years so I can have his expert eye and objective viewpoint guide me to success. I've been leveraging my own experience teaching online classes and my 11+ years of experience as a trainer to get my clients results without their needing to get physically in the same gym as me.

If you're training at home, I urge you to at least try out an online coach and see how it works out. I offer full-service Skype-based training sessions where I program for you, coach you through the movements, and provide my expert eye to see what best suits your needs and goals. I also offer programming customized to you, for you to execute on your own time without the need for an appointment with me.

Email me at with any questions about programs and rates! I'm ready to help you get started today.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Exercise vs. Old Age

The BBC put up two articles - one very short, one moderate length, about the effects of exercise on what we used to consider normal aging.

The shorter one concerns nerve impulses and muscles as we age:

Muscle loss in old age linked to fewer nerve signals

The basic idea there is that as we age, we weaken. As our muscles weaken, we lose the ability to send nerve signals to those weakened muscles.

But continued physical activity and training blunts that effect - keep the muscles, keep the nerve signals, and stay in a virtuous circle of fitness.

Exercise is required. We often think that it isn't, because unlike drinking water, eating, sleeping, going to work, etc. we don't feel an immediate negative consequence for not doing it. But it's insidious, and over time our capabilities go down. It's never too late to start, but like saving for retirement, the earlier you get going the better and longer you reap the rewards.

The second article concerns the immune system of older endurance athletes:

How exercise in old age prevents the immune system from declining

The basic idea here is that exercise reduces the decline in the immune system that usually follows age.

"A separate paper in Aging Cell found that the cyclists did not lose muscle mass or strength, and did not see an increase in body fat - which are usually associated with ageing."

"Associated" with aging is key, here. We think you get a weaker immune system and lose muscle mass and strength, and gain body fat, as you get older because you get older. It's not necessarily the case, and studies are showing that people who continue to exercise as they get older do not show that same effect. In other words, we think aging makes you weak and frail, but it's more like aging without exercise makes you weak and frail.

So keep training, and suffer less of the "age-related" declines in fitness and immune health.

Key takeaways here?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Sparing the Spine through Hip Hinging

Folks familiar with Dr. Stuart McGill won't find anything really new here, but this is a good article on hip hinging to spare the spine:

Lost Art Of Bending Over: How Other Cultures Spare Their Spines

Good stuff.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Fueling up with Chankonabe

While looking at the latest sumo news for the January Grand Sumo Basho, I found this much older article about how sumo wrestlers fuel up:

FUEL: The 10,000-Calorie Sumo Wrestler Diet

It's light on the recipe, but you can see how the meal is prepared and a bit of sumo training outside of Japan.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Precision Nutrition Level 1, Version 3 certified

In the past two days I completed upgrading my Precision Nutrition level 1 certification.

I've been certified in PN level 1 for several years, and took the exam every couple of years to stay certified. Recently, though, they upgraded the course and manual.

Nicely, they didn't make the prior levels obsolete. I could keep my certification. As a matter of fact, I'm current dual certified in level 1, v1 and level 1, v3. (I'm not sure what I missed in v2)

They made the upgraded course materials available at a reasonable price for currently-certified trainers like myself. I jumped on the upgrade, because I knew that if they'd taken the time to re-write the manual I'd benefit from the new material.

If I benefit, then my clients benefit. And that's what it is all about.

The upgrade took time, as instead of one course exam it was 18 chapter-length exams. This meant a lot of reading, then research and listening to lectures and answering workbook questions, then taking an exam. While this made is more digestible - lots of little chunks - it meant I ended up breaking up the upgrade over months instead of doing it in a matter of weeks.

The tests were open book, which is "easy" in the way any other open-book test is - if you know the material, and have the books in front of you, you can answer the questions easily. If you don't know the material, and you don't keep your references ready to hand, you're in trouble. I like to say, if you keep your references to hand, life is an open book test.

All of this is a long way to say, I've upgraded my nutrition knowledge (a bit) and my coaching skills (a lot) thanks to Precision Nutrition.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Pick One Goal, One Habit, and Go

So it's January 1st, and many New Year's resolutions (NYRs) were made.

In my experience, people don't last on NYRs.

It's because so many of them, perhaps almost all of them, are aspirations and wishes, not plans of action. They aren't habits, they aren't process goals, and they aren't simple.

This isn't because people are bad, or weak, or stupid.

It's because we don't really learn how to make change.

We don't teach it in school. We don't teach it at work. We get down to specifics ("Do X to get Y") that we don't spend time teaching people how to determine what a good goal is, or how to build a habit to get there.

This post is really just more of that. But hopefully it will also teach you how to determine what a good X is, and how it'll help you get to Y.

If you made some NYRs last night, my advice is:

Pick One

Just one. No matter how many you made, pick one. Either pick something that will make the most impact, or is the easiest to do. If you want to take a shot at big changes, pick the first one - quit smoking, exercise every day, lose some body fat. But if you want to make certain you make small, progressive gains, pick the second - the easiest one to do.

You might think you could get better results by doing everything at once, and going for the biggest impact items. But that's like trying to pass a math test by working on problems 1-100 all at once. One at a time is the strategy we learned for exams - use it for life, too. Start with the easy stuff, solve each problem in turn, and then move on to the next one.

Decide on a Habit

You get to your goals based on what you do. Pick something that will get you there - exercises if health is the goal, eating extra veggies instead of starches and breads and pastas if losing weight is your goal, etc. Pick something easy to do - so easy it seems like you could do it 10 times out of 10. 100 times out of 100. Something where, even if you do occasionally fail, you can get right to it and do it. Make it a positive action - something you do, not something you don't do. This way if you forget, you can jump up right now and do it. If it is a "don't," if you do it, you've failed and need to restart. Don't put failures in your path and try to avoid them, put potential successes in your path and try to achieve them.

Get to the gym once a week, by Friday at the latest. Go for a walk X times a week. Drink an 8-oz glass of water before every meal and after every non-water drink. Mix a greens drink the night before and drink it upon waking every morning. Brush your teeth right after you eat (both for tooth health and to discourage picking and snacking).

Make it so easy that failure is harder than success. Just work on this one thing until it's a habit - something you do automatically.

And remember, it's easier to add than subtract - "I will go for a walk this week" is solvable by going for a walk today. "I won't eat any more junk food" is undone by even a single potato chip, ever. Potential success with positive actions, not potential failure with negative prohibitions.


And go. Start there.

You can repeat this process as each habit becomes ingrained. Keep that list of NYRs around - you can pull the next one down as you achieve the first one. Good habits come from small changes ingrained over time. So pick one goal, one habit that will start you on the path, and go.

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