The Sandisk Clip Sport Plus MP3 Player and Escaping from iTunes / Apple Music

I recently got rid of iTunes / Apple Music / iPod in favor of a Sandisk Clip Sport Plus MP3 player.

If you decide to do the same, and you are doing so from a Mac, let me tell you the steps as this took a lot of effort to figure out.

First, convert your iTunes / Apple Music library into MP3 files using the Tuneskit Audio Convertor — click here.

Second, using Tag Editor (click here), go through all of your MP3 files and remove special characters that were tolerated on your Mac but will not be liked by your Sandisk Clip Sport Plus MP3 player. I am not an expert in what is and what is not a special character and I probably went a bit too far but just to be safe I removed the following: !@#$%^&*()_+<>?,./:”;'{}[]\|

Third, go through your MP3 files and shorten them whenever you can. The Sandisk Clip Sport Plus does not like long file names.

Fourth, go through your MP3 files and change any that are all caps to all lower case. The Sandisk Clip Sport Plus does not like all caps.

Fifth, copy your MP3 files to the Music directory on your Sandisk Clip Sport Plus.

If you only use your MP3 player to shuffle songs, you’re done. If you need playlists, keep reading.

There are different ways to build playlists. I am going to share what worked for me. The Sandisk Clip Sport MP3 player is VERY sensitive to playlists and their content. It may seem at some point like there is a ghost in the machine. There isn’t. There are just many unwritten rules that the Sandisk manual fails to tell you.

Playlists are simply a list of MP3 files to be played in order.

Playlists end in .m3u

You will build your playlists using TextMate (click).

Playlists are case sensitive.

Playlists will be Saved As using Unicode – YTF-8 encoding and CRLF.

You will leave a blank line at the end of your playlist.

Playlists will be stored in the Music folder on your Sandisk Clip Sport Plus.

Here is an example playlist being viewed in TextMate — note the blank line at the end:


While the Sandisk Clip Sport Plus does not do a good job of displaying album artwork, now that you are free from iTunes / Apple Music, you can copy your MP3s to a thumb drive and plug it into your car if you have that capability and your car might like the album artwork. If you are missing album artwork, Bliss (click) can help.

While all of the above was truly painful to figure out, now that I have done so, I am free from iTunes / Apple Music and it feels pretty good.

Good luck!

Prioritizing the Minimums

Below are the minimums, in no particular order, of what works best for me in the context of having enough strength, endurance, and flexibility for every day life in a major metropolitan area.

  • Military Press (1x Per Week)
  • Push-Ups (1x Per Week – I like to do these elevated on Yoga Blocks)
  • Recon Ron Pull-Up Program (2x Per Week)
  • Squat (1x Per Week – Any variation will do but for some reason body weight Star Jumpers seem to improve my running more than any other squat)
  • Front Rolls (1x per week, 4x repetitions)
  • Deadlift-ish (1x Per Week – Any variation will do with Kettlebell Swings 5x sets of 20x repetitions with a 32kg being a good minimum for me)
  • Leg Lifts (1x Per Week and this is even better with ankle weights)
  • Run (2x Per Week – Any variation will do)
  • Shadow Boxing (5x rounds of 2 minutes each with a 60 second rest – this is even better with weighted hand wraps)
  • Farmer’s Walk (I walk a 400m or so lap around my neighborhood with a 24kg kettlebell in each hand setting them down when necessary.)
  • Yoga (Any variation will do but focus on stretching and not strength building)

If I were to prioritize these minimums, they would look like the following:

  1. Farmer’s Walk
  2. Front Rolls
  3. Shadow Boxing
  4. Leg Lifts
  5. Push-Ups
  6. Squat
  7. Military Press
  8. Yoga
  9. Deadlift
  10. Run
  11. Pull-Ups

Resistance Bands / D-I-Y / Keeping Busy etcetera

Two things that help maintain sanity during COVID19 are exercise and keeping busy. Based upon these, I recently built a platform and bar to use for resistance band workouts. Sure, I could have bought some pre-made thing, but that would not have checked the “keep busy” block of my plan.

I built what Buff Bandit did on YouTube ( but I used a larger cutting board and more hockey pucks. My cutting board is a Stanton Trading 18 by 24 by 1-Inch Cutting Board, White ( which necessitated the use of additional AceFox Ice Hockey Pucks for Practicing and Classic Training, Official Regulation, 6oz Diameter 3″ Thickness 1″ Black, Set of 12 hockey pucks ( to ensure the board sat correctly and that the bands did not slide underneath. I used #14 X 1-1/2” Stainless Flat Head Phillips Wood Screw, (25 pc), 18-8 (304) Stainless Steel Screw by Bolt Dropper ( to secure the hockey pucks to the cutting board. I had an extra piece of pink skateboard grip tape laying around and I put that on top. Note that since my design is a rectangle its long and short channels for the bands can be used as a way to adjust band tension.

Getting the bands to begin at the right tension is always a challenge when using them. Having half of your repetition consist of taking up slack is not desirable. Below I will share the ways I have figured out the correct tension using various gripping choices.

The above picture depicts a dead lift configuration. I am using multiple single bands running through the center channel of the board with the board at its maximum width. I will share more information on the bar at the end.

The above picture depicts a military press. As a six foot tall person, I ended up putting a Rogue Dip Belt ( with some Spud 1/2″ carabiners ( on each end and using one band on each side of the bar.

The above picture depicts curls. For this, I changed the orientation of the board, used a single band, and some grips that I made out of parts I’ve acquired over the years from Spud (

The above picture depicts a chest press / bench press. For this I end up laying down on the board. The band still has a bit too much slack in it so I twist it three times on each handle to address this. Here is a picture of the twisted bands.

And now to discuss the bar. The bar began its life as a 48″ wide pull-up bar. I took the bar, cut a few inches off it using a Dremel 409 Cutoff Wheel, and ran a 48″ / 120cm long GM CLIMBING 16mm Nylon Sling Runner 22kN / 4840lb CE UIAA Certified through the center ( On each end of the bar I put a cane tip with a hole punched in it to protect the nylon sling runner from being cut by the thin edge of the bar. At the end of each runner I put a Spud 1/2″ carabiner (

Is it perfect? No. Is it cost effective? No. Does it work for me? Yes. Did the project keep me busy and thus slightly more sane? Yes.

COVID19 Workout Schedule (FINALLY!)

Yes, for nine plus months, I have failed in developing a regular exercise program that fits into my work, family, generally unhealthily worrying about the future, and guarding against idioticly overdoing it lifestyle.

Well, that’s over, and I shall share my ideas here.

First, let’s talk about what I call the Swing Thing or “ST.”

ST is setting a timer for 21 minutes and, every minute, on the minute, doing 10-12 kettlebell swings. Think of this as a hinge exercise that also falls into the “junkyard cardio when it is cold and I am lazy” category. When it gets warmer, I will substitute some of the ST for running / walking cardio. Why 21 minutes for ST? Because this is my blog and it’s 21 minutes. You do you.

Next, we’ll talk about what I call Five Sets of Something or “5 SoS.”

After you do ST, take a break for a few minutes, and do five sets of something, whatever you choose. Scale it up. Scale it down. Whatever. Don’t kill yourself.

I speak to ST and 5 SoS as a framework so you can ignore what I am doing and build your own thing. Beyond ST and 5 SoS I am adding in some shadow boxing with weighted hand wraps, front rolls, farmer’s walks, and some yoga. That being said, here is what is working for me at present:

Day 1: ST; 5 SoS Strict Kettlebell Overhead Press

Day 2: ST; 5 SoS Weighted Leg Lifts. (Once it is warm, run for 30 minus instead of ST)

Day 3: 5×2 Minute Rounds Shadow Boxing w/1.5lb Weighted Wraps / One Minute Rest Between Rounds; 4x Front Rolls; 2x Farmer’s Walks

Day 4: ST; 5 SoS Kettlebell Squats (Once it is warm, walk with 60lb sandbag for 45 minutes instead of ST)

Day 5: ST; 5 SoS Push-Ups on Yoga Blocks

Day 6: 23 Minute Yoga Routine

Day 7: Rest

That’s it. Try it if you like. Delete this post if you don’t like. Scale it up. Scale it down. The only thing I see being added to this in the future is once I get my pull-up bar situation remedied I will add one to three pull-ups after each set of swings or something like that. I suspect my body will be my guide.

P.S. I prefer to do this first thing in the morning before I consume any calories.

Twelve Day Cycle

Screen Shot 2020-05-11 at 6.50.23 PM

The following is what I am doing to stay fit at home during this COVID-19 foolishness.  Note I said “staying fit” and not “training for a thing” as those are different.  If I did this 12 day cycle for 30 cycles that would be 360 days which gives me five extra days to be nasty.  Hopefully the foolishness will not last that long.

First Six Days:

– Pull-Ups

– Trunk Twists (With ankle weights in my case)

– Kettlebell Swings (Two handed swings with one kettlebell in my case)

– Kettlebell Overhead Presses (Double kettlebells in my case)

– Kettlebell Rack Walk (Double kettlebells in my case)

– Rest

Second Six Days:

– Shadow Boxing (With Title Boxing weighted globes 1.5lbs each hand in my case)

– Kettlebell Squats (Double kettlebells in my case)

– Push-Ups (On yoga blocks for more depth in my case)

– Kettlebell Cleans (Double kettlebells in my case)

– Farmers Walks / Four Front Rolls / Four Yoga Tree Poses (One Left / One Right) for 30 Seconds Each

– Rest

Random Thoughts:

Ladders for pull-ups.  Five sets of whatever for most others.  Two walks for the walks.  Last sets to failure here and there is a good thing.  All of the above doesn’t include morning walks or any other steady-state cardio that you might want to do.

Always Returning to What Works


I find myself more and more returning to what I know works for my body.  As such, while the below has likely been posted before, I feel the need to re-post it.

Monday:  20 minute circuit of kettlebell strict overhead press, kettlebell squat, pull-ups, and trunk twists.  Following this circuit do some balance exercises and six front rolls.  Finish with some farmer’s walks.

Tuesday:  Run for 30 minutes then swim 500 meters.

Wednesday:  20 minute circuit of kettlebell strict overhead press, kettlebell swing, pull-ups, and ab-roller.  Following this circuit do some balance exercises and six front rolls.  Finish with some farmer’s walks.

Thursday:  Run for 30 minutes then swim 500 meters.

Friday / Saturday / Sunday:  Relax


Q:  Single or double kettlebell strict press?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Single or double kettlebell squat or goblet squat?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Pull-ups or chin-ups?

A:  I don’t care as long as you don’t kip.  Every time you do a kipping pull-up a deity kills a cute animal.

Q:  One handed or two handed kettlebell swing?

A:  Yes.

Q:  How fast do I run?

A:  Fast enough to challenge yourself but slow enough to not stop during 30 minutes of running.

Q:  What rep and set scheme should I use?

A:  Whatever doesn’t make you end the workout period feeling like a tired worthless person who is barely able to take care of themselves.

Does Tryptophan Regulate Mood & Enable Low Carb Diets?


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors treat depression by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain (1).  Tryptophan is the sole precursor of peripherally and centrally produced serotonin.  My family, myself included, traditionally eats A LOT of popcorn, especially when under stress.  My best friend described my family’s intake of popcorn not on the level of snack, but on the level of religious experience.  Popcorn has tryptophan in it (2).  My best friend further wondered if my family’s massive consumption popcorn when stressed is like some strange version of Pica or Geographia (3).

Doing some math I realized that my Tryptophan recommended daily allowance for me is 102.058 mg for a body weight of 225lbs. One cup of un-popped popcorn equals 32 cups of popped popcorn — this is what I eat when I am stressed.  Thirty-two cups of popcorn has 320 milligrams of Tryptophan.  So, in essence, I am consuming a ton of calories plus butter plus salt in pursuit of 3x my RDA of tryptophan.

Over the last six weeks I have added foods with tryptophan into my lunch (sunflower seeds) and dinner (boiled shrimp, edamame, and pumpkin seeds) and taken a a single 500mg L-Tryptophan pill after dinner at 6:30pm each night.

The results?

No snacking after dinner.

No emotional pull towards popcorn.

Better sleep.

A very even mood during the day and less aggressive behaviors.

I can refrain from eating until my stomach growls if I want to, and my mood is not effected.

I have lost 12 pounds.

Beyond my non-scientific sample of one, I think increasing tryptophan in a person’s diet through food and / or supplements will also help people who want to do low carbohydrate diets but hit a wall at most attempts.





Not Referenced in Blog Post but Worthy of Reading


Yes I am still here…

I was googling something today and I came across a thread discussing how my blog hosted the Bryce Lane Compendium.  The poster noted that I had not posted in awhile and encouraged people to download the PDF while they still could as they feared by blog would not be maintained.

Well, I am still here.  🙂

For now I will leave everyone with this — if my definition of physical fitness is a balance of strength, endurance, and flexibility, I have found that one day per week dedicated to each works quite well.  This is of course in the context that I am not deploying anymore or duty bound to be able to dominate my environment or others.  For being Guy, Normal, (1) Each, this works quite well.

Take care.


Balance / Minimum Effective Dose / Life Demands etc

As I get older and my work and family demand more of my time I find myself looking more and more for a way to ensure my body gets what it needs, vice what my ego wants.  Below is what I am experimenting with these days.  The Yoga routine was built using Yoga Studio which can be found HERE.  I built a nearly 30 minute routine that works for my body and I pause it every three minutes and do something.  Enjoy! 

Monday: Run 30 Minutes; Pull-Up Ladders; Loaded Carries


Yoga Circuit:

Kettlebell Swing 

3 Minutes Yoga

Trunk Twist

3 Minutes Yoga

Single Kettlebell Overhead Press

3 Minutes Yoga

Star Jumpers

3 Minutes Yoga


3 Minutes Yoga

Ab Wheel

3 Minutes Yoga

Wednesday: Same as Monday

Thursday: Same as Tuesday

Friday: Turkish Getup; Front Rolls

Recon Ron Revisited

In this post from 2013 I extolled the virtues of the Recon Ron Pull-Up Program as featured in the December, 1981 edition of Marine Corps Gazette.  Over time I have found the set and repetition scheme of the Recon Ron Pull-Up program to be useful for other things.  For example, I may do the Recon Ron set and repetition scheme with both pull-ups and a single kettlebell strict overhead press.  I may double the Recon Ron set and repetition scheme for use with kettlebell swings.  I may half the Recon Ron set and repetition scheme with very challenging weights or exercises.  Based upon my use of the Recon Ron set and repetition scheme I made this spreadsheet which illustrates Recon Ron, Double Ron, and Half Ron  I hope you find it useful.  (Yes I know you can’t really do half a repetition — I was using a spreadsheet program!  Give a guy a break!)  One more thing, it is often nice to change the order of the sets described below.  Instead of doing 1-2-3-4-5 as the order I like to start at the ends and work my way to the middle by doing 1-5-2-4-3 as this helps in fatigue management.Screen Shot 2018-09-23 at 9.44.58 AM.png

Lots of Updates


I have not written in a long time as life has gotten in the way.  In this post I will provide some updates on various things.  Please bear with me.


The DASH Diet works.  In 90 days I took my blood pressure from 145/90 to 122/60 simply through dietary manipulation.  While the DASH Diet has many factors to it as long as you get less than 1,500mg of sodium per day and 4,700mg or greater of potassium per day I suspect you will see results.  I get my potassium from light orange juice, avocados, potatoes, steak, bananas, and some forms of potato chips when I crave a snack.


I recently acquired a TEMPUR-Cloud Supreme Breeze which, while very expensive, has been a life-changing event.  You spend 1/3 of your life in bed, if you can afford it, buy the best mattress you can.  Lots of good research into mattresses is available at the website Mattress Underground.


Regarding my recurring right bicep tendon annoyances I took some advice from Blaidd Drwg on IrongarmX which amounted to “Don’t fuck with it.”  Of note is that I interpreted “Don’t fuck with it” as don’t try to train around the injury, literally, don’t do anything near the affected area.  As such from January until August of 2017 I did nothing but walk or light yoga for exercises and, drumroll please, the pain went away and has not returned.  “Don’t fuck with it” — simple as that.

In October I began bringing back some pull-ups and kettlebells into my life and below is what I am doing these days which, is a great balance for me of strength, flexibility, and endurance based upon my time available and how much I want my workouts to effect the rest of my life i.e. not being worn out when I am trying to spend quality time with my family.

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 8.38.35 AM

Ladders are Shaf’s Ladders — autoregulate your workout however you need to.

I like the Single Arm Kettlebell Clean for my Hinge Exercise as it feels as though it involves a bit more forearm and bicep strength usage during execution than the traditional Kettlebell Swing.

For Yoga I love the Yoga Studio App as it can be tailored to the needs of your body.

Naked Turkish Getups are an amazing exercise and I highly recommend them.  I can’t really describe how they make me feel other than energized.

I like the Single Arm Kettlebell Strict Overhead Press as while it uses less weight than the double kettlebell version it feels as though it requires more use of balance / stabilizer muscles which I like.

I like the Single Arm Kettlebell Rack Squat because I can get the same depth as the Goblet Squat but I also get a clean (hinge) to get the kettlebell to the rack position and I need to balance / stabilize more during the squat as compared to the Goblet Squat.

For the Take it Easy circuit — you need to take it easy.  Relax.  You should feel better after than before.  Let me explain the exercises a bit.


Ab Wheel


Stand on One Foot for 20 Seconds Right then Left


Trunk Twists – Right then Left is One Repetition


Bird Dogs for 20 Seconds Right then Left

Blood Pressure & Shoulders

Blood Pressure:

August 23:  163/95

September 28:  138/78

October 8:  138/72

Since August 23-ish:

No cardio.

3x a week lifting.

DASH diet six days per week. One day per week I go nuts and eat and drink whatever I want.

Cut back on caffeine from a single 28oz daily coffee to single 16oz.

8 oz of beet juice daily.

8 oz of hibiscus tea daily.

12mg of fish oil daily.

1 cup of oatmeal for breakfast daily.

Correlation? Causation? I have no clue. What I do know is that I did a combination of things and the numbers came down.


In August, 2016 my left bicep tendon started to dislike me.  I got a cortisone injection, did some rehab, and it is fixed.

In October, 2016 my right bicep tendon flared up again from this thing in 2014.  My body truly hates horizontal pressing of any kind as this flare-up came from push-ups, and very few of them at that.  I got a cortisone injection and rehab starts this week.  Note I never got a cortisone injection in the right bicep tendon in 2014 because it was never presented to me as an option.

Based upon what I learned from my previous bicep tendon rehab efforts and reading The 7 Minute Rotator Cuff Solution below is a jpg of my next plan — or as I call it Shoulder Thingy Two Point Oh.


Log Review and New (Old) Discoveries



Last night I reviewed all of my logs since the beginning and discovered the following:

My best progress on the military press was made when I was doing it three times per week with each session consisting of three ladders of 1-2-3 and micro loading.

My best progress with the deadlift and squat was made when I was doing it once per week with each session consisting of five ladders of 1-2-3.

It remains to be seen what doing barbell rows does for me. I suspect they are good for strength and health whether they transfer to the other lifts or not.

The sweet spot for me for weekly schedules-wise based upon the demands of the rest of my life seems to be three days per week.

During these thrice-per-week sessions I can best fit in two lifts with a maximum of 15 sets each (e.g. five ladders of 1-2-3 for two different lifts).

The sweet spot for me for volume seems to be a 4-5 week cycle.

The sweet spot for intensity for me seems to be a 1-2 week cycle.

I seemed to make my best progress during the intensity cycle ramping up to a one or three rep max at RPE 10 then dropping 10% and working the same rep scheme again until I once again hit RPE 10.

I think pursuing three rep maxes is likely best / safest as an intensity goal for a non-competitor.

I need to start doing deload weeks.


Daily Hypertension Cocktail


Some medical studies point to Beet Juice reducing blood pressure.

Some medical studies point to Hibiscus Tea reducing blood pressure.

In addition to pursuing the DASH diet each morning I am also drinking what I call my Hypertension Cocktail.  The ingredients are as follows:

8 ounces of Beet Juice

8 ounces of Wild Berry Hibiscus Tea

8 ounces of Water

I mix the above into a travel coffee cup before I go to bed and put it into the refrigerator overnight.  In the morning it is the first thing I consume upon waking.

The results?

I don’t know yet.  I will post more after a month or so.  I can say at this point that drinking my Hypertension Cocktail every morning makes me feel better than drinking coffee ever did.




Half Marathons & Hypertension

The site uses images to explain objects.

The night before the half marathon my right foot began hurting so much it took my breath away.  When I woke up the next morning the pain was still there so I skipped the race.  The Doctor declared a sprained tarsometatarsal.  While I didn’t get to run the race it turns out my last long run before the half marathon was 14 miles so mentally I checked the block for my goals this summer.

While at the Doctor’s office my blood pressure was extremely high, around 153/92.  I have taken it two more times this week and it is at this level or slightly lower.  In response I am pursuing the DASH diet.  As I scoured my blog and workout notebook I found this post that I had forgotten about.  In it I note a correlation between my weight lifting, specifically using barbells, and lowering of blood pressure.  Based upon all of the above it looks it’s time to get back under the bar.  See below for my next template.




Bicep Tendonitis and the Scapular Plane


I annoyed by bicep tendon again.  This time it is my left one.

I sugested to my Doctor and he agreed after an assessment that the cause was likely strict overhead pressing a 28kg kettlebell at an angle outside of the scapular plane.

What is the scapular plane?

Click on this article by Scott Iardella at Strong First to find out.

The article is also available here in PDF format:  The 3 Key Distinctions of the Kettlebell Press – StrongFirst

Bottom Line:  Staying within the scapular plane when pressing overhead is safer than not.

Question arising from this situation thus far are:

Is barbell strict overhead pressing safer than the same exercise with a kettlebell since a kettlebell can naturally drift out of the scapular plane easier than a barbell?

Is there a substantial difference in performance gains when utilizing equal resting weight and pressing weight as compared to light resting weight and heavier pressing resistance?


When I stand with a kettlebell in the racked position I feel weight.  When I strict press it overhead I feel weight.  When I stand with one or more Iron Woody Resistance Bands looped over my Ross Enamait do-it-yourself resistance band handles I feel little to no weight.  When I strict press overhead I feel resistance.

More to follow once I know more.  For now it is a cortisone shot and six to eight weeks of physical therapy.

Continuing With Carbohydrates & Minimum Effective Dose

I am a week or so into doing this and I want to share a few things…

1.  As I start to lose weight it happens from my extremities in.  So when I feel my wedding ring starting to get loose and my dress shirt collar doing the same I know I am making progress.  I suspect this is because we want fat around our core to keep us warm and alive so it probably goes away last. 

2.  Bananas are great.  They are good for me and make me feel full, which I like.

3.  The one cup of rice with dinner is perfect as it curbs my desire for the 8pm-ish snack and ensures I am not grump-tastic.

4.  On Saturdays and Sundays I need a small carb-related snack about 3pm.  I need this on the weekends because life is slow enough that I have time to realize that I need it.  During the week, life is hectic, so I never notice.

5.  This entire thing is a not a sprint, not a marathon, but a lifestyle refinement.  As such, as long I am winning “the battle of the knife and fork” five out of seven days a week, fifty out of fifty two weeks per year, I am good to go.

Also, regarding walking in the morning before breakfast I have developed these guidelines which balance health with not getting sick:

  Temperature less than 30 degrees — no morning walk.

  Temperature between 30 and 41 degrees — walk.

  Temperature 42 degrees or above — walk is okay and running is okay too.

Carbohydrates & Minimum Effective Dose


Last October I did an experiment based upon a modification of Dan John’s Meat, Leaves, and Berries eating plan.  You can read about it HERE.

While it worked quite well, it was not sustainable for me.


Because by the time dinner rolled around I was craving carbohydrates like a madman.  It took a lot of work to restrain my inner grump.


So my new experiment, as a scientific sample of one, revolves around trying to figure out what is the Minimum Effective Dose (MED) of carbohydrates that I need at dinner to ensure I am a happier version of me.

So…  For the next 30-ish days I am going to do the same thing I did last October, but I am going to add one cup of basmati rice to my dinner.

Stay tuned!







Time, Kettlebells, “Before Meal Workouts” and “Ends-to-the-Middle” Ladders


Time has gotten away from me as I attend a training program during my non-work hours.  This training program takes the majority of my attention when I am not with family or at work thus my workouts have lessened.  Due to the current scenario I began the below listed routine which has been working quite well for me for a little over a month.


– Before Breakfast:  Walk 45 minutes.

– Before Dinner:  Kettlebells with a focus on Hinge and Press.


– Before Breakfast:  Walk 45 minutes.

– Before Dinner:  Kettlebells with a focus on Squat, Pull, and Loaded Carry.


– Before Dinner:  Kettlebell complex lasting between 12 and 15 minutes.


– Before Breakfast:  Walk 45 minutes.

– Before Dinner:  Kettlebells with a focus on Hinge and Press.


– Before Breakfast:  Walk 45 minutes.

– Before Dinner:  Kettlebells with a focus on Squat, Pull, and Loaded Carry.

Other Notes:

On the kettlebell exercises I have begun doing what I call “Ends-to-the-Middle Ladders” which work well.  For example if your ladder is going to be 1-2-3-4-5 repetitions you execute as 1-5-2-4-3.  Make sense? 

With the kettlebell press and squat I begin with “Ends-to-the-Middle Ladders” at 1-2-3-4-5 and work up over time to 6-7-8-9-10.  Once I get 6-7-8-9-10 I move up in weight.

With the kettlebell swing progression I am still doing what I posted previously.  I use the Dan John idea of two-handed swings for 20 repetitions and one-handed swings for 10 repetitions.  I aim for 100 repetitions per workout.

Pull-ups are still done according to about half of the volume within the Recon Ron program which in my experience still ensures progression.

Loaded carries are waiter’s walks or farmer’s walks.  I really like both but find my shoulders love the waiter’s walks for 30 second repetitions.

Doing The Work

I enjoy reading and participating in a few internet forums related to fitness.  I learn, others learn, and we often move forward towards our fitness goals together.  However, there is a point where the discussion needs to end and work needs to begin.  So…  Repeat after me:

There is no perfect program.

As Joe or Jane Average, who doesn’t earn their living through physical prowess, if I neglect a movement for one month while trying a different program, the world will not end.

When looking at a program, when in doubt, try it out!

I cannot emphasize enough that while the experiences of others are valuable, the best way for you to learn if a program will work for you is to try it yourself and see what happens.  Learning from the experiences of others is good, learning from your own experiences is better.


After Action of Dan John’s Meat, Leaves, and Berries

Dan John

Dan John

In this article Dan John spoke of eating only meat, leaves, and berries.

The plan as written would not work for me.  I need my morning coffee with cream and sugar and also need my Friday night pizza and popcorn with my family.  Based upon this I executed as follows:

  • Eat as much meat and as many leaves and fruits and berries as I want to.
  • No eating after 7pm (Except on Friday).
  • Cream and sugar are allowed in my morning coffee.
  • On Fridays I eat pizza and popcorn with my family.
  • Walk for 45 minutes upon waking Monday through Friday prior to consuming anything with a caloric value.
  • Do 100 two-handed kettlebell swings with a 24kg kettlebell following the walk.  I did this by four sets of 25 repetitions.

Thirty days later I have:

  • Lost 14 pounds.
  • Feel more energized and less sluggish in almost everything I do.
  • Sleep much better.

All of the above has led to an improved quality of life.  Due to the quantity of food I consumed I never felt hungry but still burned fat.  I suggest you give this a try for 30 days and see where you end up.  Note that this was all I did for 30 days.  I think the key to this being sustainable was that I wasn’t doing a lot of activities that increased my appetite.

What is Old is New Again!


For a variety of reasons I am moving back to Kettlebells.  Based upon this decision, below is the totality of my new plan, which will begin on October 12, 2015.

Pat Flynn
Pat Flynn

In the introduction to the book “Racked and Loaded” Pat Flynn said:

If strength and fat loss is what you seek, the formula for success is very plain:

Metabolic Conditioning—low frequency & low duration

Strength Training—moderate frequency & moderate duration

Brisk Walking—high frequency & high duration

Dan John
Dan John

Dan John preaches the Fundamental Human Movements:

-Loaded Carries





Based upon this I am looking at:

-45 minutes of brisk walking prior to breakfast Mondays through Fridays.

-Monday Evening:  Kettlebell Strength Session hitting each of the Fundamental Human Movements.

-Wednesday Evening:  Kettlebell Metabolic Conditioning Session using one of Pat Flynn’s complexes.

-Friday:  Kettlebell Strength Session hitting each of the Fundamental Human Movements.

Whenever this gets stale I will throw in some Bryce Lane 50/20 action.

http _www.ironradio.org_images_IronRadio_speaker_logo1400x1400

Exercise is one thing but “the battle of the knife and fork” as Lonnie Lowery of Iron Radio says is another.

Something Like This
Something Like This

On top of this I will overlay Dan John’s Meat, Leaves, and Berries program.

I will eat as much meat and as many leaves and berries as I want.  The only “cheating” I allow is cream and sugar with my daily coffee and pizza and popcorn with my family on Friday evenings.

Stay tuned!

Long Time No Post

I haven’t posted in awhile because I don’t have much to say and I am busy doing other things.

However, I wanted to at least share the program I have been on for about six months now.  I am making gains slow and steady and I am injury free.

Note that for a pressing movement my shoulder still only likes vertical pressing.


20150129 - Three On One Off

No Pain No Gain or Pain No Gain



The piriformis syndrome is under control.  Based upon advice from friends I have modified my template significantly and I am making time for some stretching and foam rolling post workout.  I cannot emphasize how important it is for me to stretch my hamstrings, glutes, piriformis, and to foam roll my piriformis after a workout.  This is how I keep my lower body pain-free.  See below for the new template.




Bob Wanamaker — Pain Expert — He Who Shepherds Injured Weightlifters

Bob Wanamaker

Bob Wanamaker


Earlier this year as a newby lifter I had my first injury CLICK.  A swollen long head bicep tendon.  I had never been injured like this before.  I was scared.  I was scared because I had survived numerous events in the badlands and left that life to be with my family.  I was never wounded.  I walked away from that life physically intact.  After all that to have my quality of life impacted negatively by my hobby was not a good thing.

I had signed up for a training seminar in Brooklyn, New York CLICK.  My injury happened the weekend prior and friend and mentor Steve Shafley suggested I talk to Bob Wanamaker as he was both an expert in pain and rehabilitation and he would be at the seminar I had signed up for.

Bob took time out of his schedule and we spoke at length on the phone.  He counseled me that from here forward pain would be my guide.  Bob also suggested that I was in the best position I could be in as I was coming to a seminar with some of the most talented Powerlifters in the business and they could likely pinpoint my issue and show me how to prevent re-occurrence.  This is exactly what happened.  I learned it was improper bench pressing form that caused my injury.  Bob showed me what right looked like and six weeks later I was fixed.

Recently I experienced sciatica which turned out to be a symptom of piriformis syndrome.  Bob again took time and helped me out.  In short, I owe my sanity and perspective when it comes to strength training injuries to Bob Wanamaker.

In May of 2006 Bob was diagnosed with a disease called Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis (DISH).  DISH causes Bob’s connective tissue to turn to bone. There is no cure; the cause is unknown, and very little is known about the disease.

Bob and his wife have depleted all their savings so that Bob can achieve the mobility that he currently has.  Bob is asking for help funding his medical bills.  If you wish to donate, and I truly hope you do, please check out this link CLICK.

Bob helps people.  Bob helped me.  Now it is time for us to help Bob.

Taming the Demons


Dave Tate on Iron Radio episode 112 spoke to his one hour in the gym making him better for the other twenty three hours in a day.  Brandon Lilly on Iron Radio episode 263 spoke to discovering weight lifting as a stress release when he was young.  Since leaving the deployment lift style, which for me was an outlet, I have pursued multiple lines of effort to tame my demons.

Boxing resulted in multiple broken noses and sleep apnea.  Kettlebells worked quite well but I was curious to get stronger.  Barbell training resulted in a swollen long head bicep tendon and more recently some sciatica.  No-gi grappling severely aggravated my shoulder / swollen long head bicep tendon.

So here I sit, hours away from my first ever trip to a chiropractor, and I am scared.  Yes.  That is how I would describe it, scared.

I am once again injured, likely as a result of an optional activity, and it is negatively impacting the rest of my life.  My sleep is slightly disturbed and the pain and numbness in my left leg is just enough to be noticeable.  Additionally, I do not know if this is but a symptom of a larger problem.  My coworkers with chronic back pain, quite simply, seem to hate their life.

The question that I ask myself, and likely one that is for the ages in multiple subjects, revolves around “What is the minimum effective dose?”

In my case what is the minimum effective dose of an activity that will keep me healthy, challenged, relieve stress, allow me to struggle against something, and has a low chance of injury?

Additionally, what is the minimum effective dose for strength training for normal human life?  (e.g. Do I really need to back squat 315 or is doing a double kettlebell front squat with 2x32s enough?)

I don’t know the answers to the above questions but I will find out.

At the minimum I am envisioning a month off of strength training while I figure out this back issue.  When I come back I don’t know what I will do…  Back to barbells?  Change rep and set scheme?  Back to kettlebells?  Hmm…  Right now I have more questions than answers.


Weight Gain and Perceptions of Health


Abs and Drop Two Sizes — Yay!


Abs and Gain Muscle / Lose Pounds — Yay!


Society tells us running a lot and being skinny and having six-pack abs indicates health.

Doctors tell us that an appropriate mix of resting heart rate, blood pressure, and body composition indicates health.

I am six feet tall.

One year ago today I weighed 175lbs, nearly had four pack abs, looked good at the pool, did just enough cardio to negatively impact my kettlebell work, and my blood pressure was in the pre-hypertension range of with a systolic pressure from 120 to 139 mm Hg or a diastolic pressure from 80 to 89 mm Hg, and my resting heart rate was 62.

Today I weight 202lbs.  I have two pack abs, more love handle than I would like, my back and shoulders are the only parts of me that look good at the pool, do virtually no cardio, my blood pressure is 110 over 72, and my resting heart rate is 57.

What does this mean?

For me, as a scientific sample of one, a structured strength template has made me less healthy according to society, more healthy according to Doctors, stronger than I have ever been in my life, and greatly improved my overall quality of life.


Heart OHP

The only thing that would make this picture better was if the heart was doing a military press.



Fitness Brevity


I wrote the following to a friend last week in an e-mail.  I figured it might be of value to some of the readership so here it goes.

I think the sweet spot is to spend 75% of your workout time on strength training and 25% on aerobic training.

Within those percentages I find it best to spend 80% of your time at 80% effort, 10% of your time at 100% effort, and 10% of your time at 60% effort.

Toxicity, Duty, and Switching from 1 to 3a

This is true but still a tough decision to make.

This is true but still a tough decision to make and even tougher to live with.


I really wanted to write this post in an uplifting and objective manner and possibly provide hope to others but I do not have that capability at present.  After a 36 hour period of multiple telephonic arguments and a couple of nights not sleeping too well I am going to simply vent.

My parents (mostly my mother) dislike my wife.  I love my wife.  My wife showed me what joy is as I did not know it before I met her.  My wife gave us our amazing daughter.  When my parents and my wife are in a room together the environment is toxic.  Let’s take a look at how Merriam-Webster defines toxic CLICK:

extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful

My wife and I have tried a myriad of approaches and compromises to remedy this situation.  All have resulted in failure.  My parents are who they are and are unable (unwilling) to extend an olive branch CLICK.

Olive Branch or Arrows?

Olive Branch or Arrows?


As most know having a child changes everything.  For the first few years of my daughter’s life we made do.  My wife and I became more accepting of my parents behavior under the pretext of just because we don’t get along doesn’t mean they cannot be a positive influence in our daughter’s life.  Additionally, both my wife and I have very positive memories of our grandparents.  Nearly one year ago even this arrangement came to an end when an argument erupted in front of my daughter.

I want my daughter to have a relationship with her grandparents.  I want her to have cool memories of her grandparents like my wife and I do of our grandparents.  However, if the price of cool memories is remembering how grandma and grandpa argued with mommy or other toxic events than that price is too high.


I take the word duty, and the above quote, very seriously.  My sense of duty is a driving factor in my daily actions.  The above quote is framed on my desk at work and brings clarity of thought and action when self-doubt sets in.  As I sit here and type I know the decision I made to tightly control the interaction between my wife and child and my parents is the correct one.  However, it does not mean that I made that decision easily.  For all of their flaws I love my parents (I love my dad immensely)  and the success I have achieved in life was a result of their upbringing.  For that I am endlessly thankful.  However, my duty now shifts from 1 to 3a CLICK and that is just the way it is.

1:  conduct due to parents and superiors : respect

3a :  a moral or legal obligation


Time heals all wounds?  We shall see.  Now if you will excuse me I am off to play puppets with my three-year old and find my smile again.

Realizations and Barbell 3.0

Due to childcare commitments a few weeks back I ended up getting one rest day between lift days.  My performance increased. This is a good thing.

Due to my shoulder injury I had to drop a lot of weight and range of motion on my bent over rows and eliminate bench pressing.  My bent over row weight is now so light that I doubt it is giving me much bang for the buck.  I am dropping this lift in favor of an alternating second main lift day.  Yes I know an alternating second lift day sounds imprecise so I shall let Paul Carter explain it better in a post on Power and Bulk from 2011 CLICK:

I personally think the template of squatting and pulling twice one week and then once the week next is about perfect. You get the same on pressing. Twice one week and once the next. Once a week for pressing can work, but it’s not always the best choice. If my elbow allowed it, I would press heavy twice a week, but I can barely press heavy once every other week (although that seems to be improving with the new bed). 

So my personal fave is… 

m – squat dead – squat priority 

w – bench 

f – squat dead – dead priority 

m – press (overhead or incline) 

w – squat dead – squat priority 

f – bench 


Thus over two weeks, you squat and pull 3 times and press heavy 3 times. 

I personally found this to be money and will get back to it once the injuries clear up.

Blaidd Drwg from IrongarmX had good things to say about main lifts versus accessory work from 2011 CLICK:

FYI…most assistance movements are ghey. GM’s and Rows are some of the least ghey. Before doing an assistance movement other than a variations of the main lift (RDLS, board presses, pause squats) ask yourself why the fuck am i doing this? here are some sample questions:

“Am I so crippled that i can’t lift right?” 

“Am i too tired to take weight off the bar and drill it correctly?”

“Am i so special such that I can’t learn the lift by just practicing the god damn lift?” 

“Am i rehabbing an injury?”

“Will this give me a huge neck or big guns?” 

“do i or my lifting partners have a track record of using this movement to add pounds to the core lifts?”

if the answer is no…don’t do it, just squat more.

Shaf’s Ladders work extremely well for me CLICK.

I like using Mike Tuchscherer’s RPEs to ensure I am achieving the effect I desire during each session CLICK.

MeatPlow from IrongarmX schooled me on micro loading and I like it a lot CLICK.

Bob Wanamaker “The Thinking Strongman” taught me to value adding a rehab week to my schedule CLICK.

Based upon my current physical limitations, and all of the learning that has occurred recently I present to you Barbell 3.0 aka the CarterBlaiddDrwgShafTuchschererMeatPlowWanamaker Plan!  Nine weeks — six weeks volume, two weeks intensity, one week rehab / deload.

20140515 CarterBlaiddDrwgShafTuchschererMeatPlowWanamaker




Thank You


My blog recently reached 10,000 hits and I wanted to say thank you to my readership for making this possible.

When I started this blog last year I never thought I would get that many hits, nor was it a goal of mine to do so.

I hoped to create a blog where I could document what works for me, share my experiences with others, and hopefully some my thoughts and actions could inform others in a positive way.  I think I have succeeded.

Thank you again to my readership!  If you have any questions or comments or suggestions feel free to email me at: 

Learning to Strain

After eight weeks of volume work within the 8-8.5 range on the Rates of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale to both increase my base and rehab my injured shoulder I undertook a two-week intensity cycle.  For those of you who don’t know about Mike Tuchscherer or his RPE scale I suggest you check it out CLICK.

My previous intensity cycles consisted of a fixed weight, lifted for five sets of three repetitions, at an RPE of 9.  This time around I borrowed a page from Mike Tuchscherer’s Reactive Training Systems (RTS) Manual CLICK and started at a low weight, worked up to a set of three repetitions at an RPE of 10, then dropped 8% of the weight, and performed sets of three repetitions until I again reached an RPE of 10.  Below is an example of yesterday’s deadlift session (weight in pounds).  There are endless opinions about sets across the top versus ramping.  If curious to view those opinions Google is your friend CLICK.


How I Executed Top Set and Fatigue Percent per RTS Manual

135×3 @ RPE of 5

225×3 @ RPE of 6

315×3 @RPE of 8

375×3 @ RPE of 10

Drop 8% to a weight of 345

345×3 @ RPE of 9

345×3 @ RPE of 10


All of the above lead to a lot of self-discovery during this two-week intensity cycle.  Here are my take-aways:

1.  Eight weeks are too long for a volume cycle.  My body forgot how to strain.  The first week of the intensity was a wake-up call both physically and mentally.  I think that five to six weeks, for me, is the best length for a volume cycle.

2.  I realized that when I was previously using sets across the top my goal was to finish the workout more than achieve a level of intensity.

3.  I realized that prior to this cycle I had never been at an RPE of 10.  For me, performing a lift at an RPE of 10 means my body does something that I cannot control like yell loudly during an overhead press, or collapse into a heap with an uncontrollable deep chest cough after a squat.  The difference between RPE 9 and RPE 10 is gigantic.

4.  All of my previous lifting, whether volume or intensity or ladders or sets across the top all put money in the bank so to speak and the two-week intensity cycle working up to an RPE of 10 withdrew that money.  Strange analogy but it’s the best I can think of.



For the newby lifter, like me, in search of maximum strength, I would suggest the following order of operations so to speak, which I executed and continue to benefit from:

A.  Perform a lift at an RPE of 7 but no more than 8, using Shaf’s Ladders CLICK  for a total of five ladders of 1-2-3 (30 repetitions total).  The goal here is to learn technical proficiency to safely execute the lift under moderate load and low to moderate intensity.  Do this for 3-5 weeks.

B.  Perform a lift at an RPE of 8 but no more than 9 using a fixed weight  for five sets of three repetitions (15 repetitions total).  The goal here is to learn safely execute the lift with an increased load while straining under higher intensity.  Note that straining is not something that is learned overnight.  There are multiple levels of strain and this is the beginning.    Do this for 2-3 weeks.

C.  Do a one week rehab / deload routine doing the same lifts but at a lower volume and an RPE of 4-6.

D.  After you have done 3-4 cycles of A-B-C-D continue to E below.

E.  Perform a lift at an RPE of 8 but no more than 9, using Shaf’s Ladders CLICK  for a total of five ladders of 1-2-3 (30 repetitions total).  The goal here is to learn technical proficiency to safely execute the lift under an increased load with moderate intensity.  Do this for 3-5 weeks.

F.  Start at a low weight, perform sets of  three repetitions, increasing the weight with each set, until you perform a top set of three repetitions at an RPE of 10.  Drop the weight a certain percentage that you determine, and perform sets of three repetitions until you again reach an RPE of 10.  The goal here is to safely execute the lift under maximum load, strain, and intensity.

All of the above, for me, was a safe and gradual journey which ended with me learning how to safely execute lifts at an RPE of 10.  The sets across the top were valuable and extremely necessary as they let me learn to strain as I moved towards maximum effort work at an RPE of 10.

Personal Photo of Me at an RPE of 10.  :-)

Personal Photo of Me at an RPE of 10. 🙂

Barbell Plan Update

I searched Google for images related to "plan" and this is what came up.  Yes I know it has nothing to do with this blog post.

I searched Google for images related to “plan” and this is what came up. Yes I know it has nothing to do with this blog post.


I posted my original barbell plan in November, 2013 CLICK.

Based upon my shoulder injury, more research, and attending the RTS seminar CLICK I updated my template and it is listed below for those who are interested.

New weekly template for Volume Cycles will be:

Day 1:

Press, Yates Row

Day 2:

Squat, DL

Day 3:

Run for 30 to 90 minutes.

Day 4:

Press, Yates Row 

Volume Cycle for three to six weeks will be five ladders of 1-2-3 between an RPE of 7.5-8.5 microloading from week to week with an additional 1.5lbs for upper body and 2.5lbs for lower body exercises. Each ladder set of 1-2-3 will be immediately supersetted with a pull-up ladder of 1-2-3.  Pull-ups will be until my Adam’s Apple is above the bar. 

New weekly template for Intensity Cycles will be:

Day 1:


Day 2:


Day 3:

Run for 30 minutes

Day 4:


Intensity Cycle for two weeks will be sets of three working up to a top set of three at an RPE of 9-10 then dropping the weight by 8% and doing sets of three until I reach the same RPE. 

Transition / Rehab Cycle Weekly Template

Day 1: Press

Day 2: Deadlift

Day 3: Squat

Transition / Rehab Cycle for one week where I will execute five sets of five repetitions with a fixed weight at an RPE of 7.

Overall focus will be on quality of execution first and adding weight second.

More detailed information regarding my progress can be found in my log at IrongarmX CLICK.

Joking with Shaf

As I make my journey through the world of strength training I consider myself fortunate to have Steve Shafley as a mentor.

Today, because I am a dork at heart, I made a PowerPoint slide depicting the various factors that I, as a drug-free non-competing hobbyist weight lifter must balance in order to gain strength / muscle mass etc.

My Reality

My Reality

I sent the slide to Shaf as I want to bounce the content off him to ensure I am not totally out of my mind.  Shaf, who has a keen grasp of what works, concurs with my slide content and then sends back his own slide which depicts what people want and what the fitness industry markets.

Fitness Industry Reality

What People Want / What the Fitness Industry Markets

I found my back and forth with Shaf to be so funny I decided to share it with my blog-goers.  Enjoy!

Planning, Seatbelts, and Iron

I would submit to you that many of us who enjoy strength training have an aggressive nature.  It takes some level of aggression to voluntarily take time out of your schedule to pick heavy things up and put then down.  Aggression is a double-edged sword.  While an aggressive nature can get you places, if not sufficiently restrained it can occasionally get us into trouble.


My shoulder injury caused me to take stock of my mindset and planing.  Based upon an assessment of my own aggression and how I have applied it in a strength training context I have incorporated two overlapping concepts that will help me keep my aggressive nature in check.  These concepts serve as a seat belt so to speak to make sure that while I am driving fast towards my goal I don’t accidentally launch myself through the windshield.


The first concept is the use of fractional plates.  A fractional plate is a plate that weighs a fraction of the plates that you normally find in your gym.  I purchased two sets of the “Olympic 2 Inch Fractional Plates (Seconds)” from Iron Woody Fitness CLICK and they are outstanding.  I can now add as little as a half pound to the bar if I need to.  As someone who is still experiencing neophyte gains this slow progression during my volume phases ensures that my nervous system (nearly instantaneous adaptation), muscular (3-4 day adaptation), and connective tissue (30-40 day adaptation) all occur as close to each other as possible.  When one adaptation gets ahead of another that is when the risk of injury increases.  For now I am adding 1.5 pounds to upper body exercises and 2.5 pounds to lower body exercises each week during volume phases.  Slow and steady wins the race.  (Thanks to MeatPlow at IrongarmX for educating me on these CLICK.)


The second concept is the use of Rates of Perceived Exertion or RPEs as authored by Mike Tuchscherer and Reactive Training Systems (RTS) CLICK.


10- Maximal. No reps left in the tank.

9- Last rep is tough, but still 1 rep left in the tank.

8- Weight is too heavy to maintain fast bar speed, but is not a struggle. 2-4 reps left.

7- Weight moves quickly when maximal force is applied to the weight. “Speed weight”

6- Light speed work. Moves quickly with moderate force.

5- Most warm-up weights

4- Recovery. Usually 20+ rep sets. Not hard, but intended to flush the muscle.

RPEs below 4 are not important.

In reviewing previous volume phases I determined I was at an RPE of 9 or higher when I should have been at an 8.  The range of eight is quite large so I asked Mike Tuchscherer for more guidance and he provided the below chart which refines things a bit.


The RPE system is excellent because I can utilize it during both volume and intensity phases to ensure I am working hard enough, while not working too hard and thus possibly risking injury.

A one-liner that I feel is applicable to my line of thinking is when the actor John C. McGinley, who, while playing Con McCarty in the film “Get Carter” advised Sylvester Stallone’s character of Carter that “If you don’t take care of business, the business will take care of you.”  So true — especially in strength training.  Fractional plates and RPEs are how I take care of business.

"If you don't take care of business, the business will take care of you."

“If you don’t take care of business, the business will take care of you.”

The fun / interesting part of strength training is figuring out, based upon your body’s capabilities and limitations and time available, how to work hard enough to gain but not injure yourself and at the same time rest enough to ensure recovery but not rest too much and get rusty skill-wise or lose strength.  At the end of the day balance is the key.



AAR — First Strength Training Injury

If you recall I injured my shoulder, specifically a swollen long-head bicep tendon, via improper bench press form due to lack of scapular retraction and bringing the bar down significantly above my nipple line.  I spoke of it here CLICK.

Last week I had my final two sessions at physical therapy and a follow-up with my doctor.  I have no more pain.  I have the full range of motion.  I am relived.  The biggest thing I learned on this journey is to work smarter not harder and avoid injury.


What Shoulder Pain Looks Like To You

In addition to working smarter not harder is that everyone should accept and respect the level of complication involved with shoulder injuries.  Throughout my physical therapy I did exercises that I assessed as random, not well thought out, and even stupid.  In reality these exercises were doing just what my Physical Therapist wanted and they worked.  In my representative sample of one shoulder rehabilitation isn’t A+B=C but is more like A+9=V (V for Victory!  Hooray! 🙂 ).

The shoulder and the Z-Cube are similar in that the number of solutions are roughly 19.5 duoquinquagintillion on the short scale.

Shoulder Pain Reality — The shoulder and the Z-Cube are similar in that the number of solutions are roughly 19.5 duoquinquagintillion on the short scale.

Based upon discussions with my Physical Therapist, knowledgeable friends, Dr. Quinn Henoch of Darkside Strength CLICK, reviews of shoulder literature and noting what worked best for me in physical therapy I designed a program to sustain my shoulder.  This program is not specifically  focused on the long-head bicep tendon but involves overall shoulder health and flexibility.

Shoulder health and programs to sustain said health are highly individualized and what works for me may not work for you.  I am providing this Frankenstein-style PDF full of random internet images to show you what works best for me.  Please be careful. If you use my program you do so at your own risk.

Disclaimer horse beaten!

Disclaimer horse beaten!


Download Here Shoulder Rehab Thingy (CLICK)


Quitting (A Parenting Story)

My daughter is nearly four and has been doing gymnastics once per week for a little over two years.  It was my idea.  I like gymnastics as it teaches my daughter coordination, increases her strength, and develops physical confidence.  I am under no illusions.  My daughter will likely never be a world champion.  However, gymnastics is an activity that develops physical and mental traits that I value thus why I encourage her to participate.

Two weeks ago after the warm-up portion of the class my daughter approached me in a calm manner, looked me in the eye, and confidently said “Daddy, I don’t want to do gymnastics anymore.”  Not wanting to have the discussion there and distract the rest of the class I said “Okay,” and we left.

On the drive home my mind was racing.  Of course my first panicked thought was that by allowing her to quit I was setting the conditions for future repeats.  I could see her now dropping out of school and living in a van down by the river telling others “It would have all been different if my dad hadn’t let me quit gymnastics.”



Then of course my mind retreated to what made me who I am — the United States Marine Corps.  I wondered if I should go Gunnery Sergeant Hartman on my daughter…

Are you quitting on me?  Well, are you? Then quit you slimy fucking walrus-looking piece of shit!  Get the fuck off my obstacle! Get the fuck down off of my obstacle!  Now!

“Are you quitting on me? Well, are you? Then quit you slimy fucking walrus-looking piece of shit! Get the fuck off my obstacle! Get the fuck down off of my obstacle! Now!”

Checking my unjustified panic I spoke to a friend who both knows me well and is an experienced parent.  After about 20 minutes on the phone I came to the following conclusions.

1.  My daughter approached me in a calm, rational, non-tantrum manner and told me her preference to not continue gymnastics.  As far as communication with a three-year old goes this is a big victory.

2.  My daughter knows that I love that she does gymnastics and she had no issue communicating a dissenting opinion.  This is another communication victory.

3.  Through me accepting my daughter’s desire to quit I was able to show her that I have her back.  I need to establish this now and reinforce it whenever possible so she knows I have her back when really important issues arise.

4.  Reality check — SHE IS A THREE YEAR OLD!  At this stage extracurricular activities are like a salad bar.  She is going to try a little bit of this, a little bit of that, maybe eat a lot of this, maybe spitting out a lot of that.

I would like one scoop of Gymnastics, two scoops of Soccer, and a tiny spoonful of Ballet.

I would like one scoop of Gymnastics, two scoops of Soccer, and a tiny spoonful of Ballet.

Overall, though the internet is filled with endless memes about never quitting, and having a never-say-die attitude will likely lead to success in certain endeavors in life, as with most things context is key.


RTS Seminar


You may recall I posted CLICK my intent to attend the Reactive Training Systems (RTS) CLICK seminar at the South Brooklyn Weightlifting Club CLICK on 14-15 February 2014 in Brooklyn, NY.  

Throughout my life I have found that the best way to progress in any endeavor is to surround yourself with people better than you.  This is why I attended the RTS seminar though I am a non-Powerlifter and non-competitor.

The seminar consisted of lecture and guided discussions from 9am to 12pm, a lunch break, two hours of practical application, and another lecture and guided discussion period.  This worked well as it gave the seminar attendees both theory and practical application.

The RTS Team of Matt Gary and Suzanne Hartwig-Gary of Supreme Sports Performance and Training CLICK, Bob Wanamaker “The Thinking Strongman” CLICK, and Ben Esgro of De Novo Nutrition CLICK, presented an all-encompassing curriculum that dealt with much more than just lifting.  Together with Mike Tuchscherer the lecture and guided discussion covered autoregulation theories, mental preparation and positive mindset, pain management, lift attempt selection, and nutrition.


Matt Gary and Suzanne Hartwig-Gary



Bob Wanamaker


Ben Esgro

During the practical application we focused on deadlift, squat, bench, and overhead press.  At the time I had been diagnosed with a possible partially torn anterior rotator cuff.  Under the expert supervision of the RTS Team I was able to safely perform the lifts with proper form and based upon this a tear was ruled out in favor of a swollen long head bicep tendon the following week.


Paul Steinman

The South Brooklyn Weightlifting Club is run by Paul Steinman.  Not only is the equipment amazing but the lifters who go there demonstrate a high level of motivation and esprit de corps that I found to be infectious.  I am envious of the lifters who are able to hang with Paul on a regular basis.

I specifically walked away from the seminar having fixed my bench press form, deciding to utilize heeled powerlifting shoes during squats which help a lot, pulling sumo vice conventional deadlift which Mike Tuchscherer recommended based upon the length of my thigh bones, and in-depth knowledge of macros and nutrition.

Bottom Line:  Whatever your goals if you are serious about the iron I suggest you check out an RTS seminar whenever possible.

First Strength Training Injury

In February, about a week prior to attending the Reactive Training Systems (RTS) CLICK seminar in Brooklyn, NY my right shoulder began to bother me.  It felt extremely tight and painful in strange positions such as reaching behind my back to pull my belt through belt loops and pulling up the blankets at night before I went to bed.  As strange as this sounds I had never experienced a sports-related injury before so I was completely in the dark.  I spoke to some friends, scheduled an appointment with a Sports Medicine Doctor and tried to do some self-diagnosis.


Yes I know. The picture shows a left shoulder and I am talking about my right. Don’t be a hater.

My shoulder did not bother me doing deadlift, overhead press, squat, pull-ups, or barbell row.  My shoulder did bother me on bench press.  Having never received any formal instruction on the bench press I searched YouTube and quickly realized that I had been flaring my elbows, bringing the bar down above my nipple line, and not retracting my scapula properly.  That night I went home and did an experiment with push-ups.  I performed a push-up the way I traditionally performed a bench press and it hurt.  I then performed a push-up the way I should perform a bench press and it did not hurt.

The next day I saw the doctor who diagnosed me with a partially torn anterior rotator cuff.  He told me I could attend the RTS seminar with pain being my guide.  If it hurts, don’t do it.  He recommended four weeks physical therapy which was due to begin the following week.  At the RTS seminar under the expert supervision of the RTS team I performed deadlift, overhead press, squat, and bench press with the proper form and had zero pain.  The following week I worked up to a triple on the bench press at 195lbs with zero pain.  Based upon this my Physical Therapist (PT) diagnosed me with a swollen long head bicep tendon vice a partially torn anterior rotator cuff.


During four weeks of physical therapy I made great strides.  The pain is nearly-gone.  The lack of pain is important but more important is learning what stretches and shoulder strengthening exercises work well for me as well as assessing and deciding which lifts to retain and which to drop.

Regarding stretch and shoulder strengthening exercise selection this is highly personal and something each person must figure out on their own.  The shoulder is a complicated piece of gear and what works for one person may not work for another.

Regarding the decision of which lifts to retain and which to drop I have identified my main problem as lack of scapular retraction.  Until I am totally fixed and can begin working on this again in a 101-style manner I am dropping the bench press.  I am also switching out barbell row for the cable row or Yates row.  While the cable row and Yates row are inferior exercises due to lack of loading ability or shortened range of motion I can perform both of these with full scapular retraction thus for me they are safer.  Safety first and ability to load / range of motion second.  This works well in my context of a non-competitive hobbyist lifter who doesn’t make his living based upon strength and is not duty bound to maintain a certain level of physical fitness.

I would like to publicly thank Bob Wanamaker, “The Thinking Strongman” CLICK for all of his advice and mentor-ship through my ordeal.  If you have not been reading and watching Bob you are missing out.  Here is his YouTube channel CLICK.  As this was my first sports-related injury I was scared.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  Through a series of unfortunate events Bob has become an expert in the realities of pain and mindset.  Bob took time from his schedule and helped me with the mental game.  As a father of a small child I was concerned that my hobby had suddenly injured me for the long-term and the idea of “Sorry honey I can’t play with you as my hobby limits my range of motion” sounded like absolute idiocy.  Bob showed me that in pain there is opportunity.  Under Bob’s mentorship I feel as though I seized that opportunity, learned what works for me, and will be better in the long run for it.  Thank you Bob!


Obviously we should avoid injury if we can.  I would recommend you divorce yourself from ego and the desire to impress others at the gym and select only the lifts that you can perform safely.  If you cannot perform the lifts safely either learn how to do so or drop it in favor of another lift.  For the majority of the non-competitive hobbyist lifters I doubt we will ever notice a difference if we drop barbell row in favor of cable row or barbell bench press in favor of dumbbell bench press.  

The Journey is the Reward

It is February 1st, 2014 and I have been on a barbell training program since November 11th, 2013.  If curious one can view my log on IrongarmX  CLICK.

The results have been extremely positive.  I am stronger, I sleep better at night, my blood pressure is lower, and cosmetically I have thickened up a bit with only about a five-pound weight gain.  Though results are important it is the knowledge attained through the journey that is the real reward.

Thus far on my journey I have experienced soreness but no injuries.  Some soreness was in places new to me or at an intensity level I had never previously experienced.  This has scared me once or twice and forced me to come up with a solution.  I have struggled, allowed self-doubt to occur, been in a total state of denial as to a day’s planned workout, but slowly and surely prevailed through giving the barbell my complete effort.

My barbell journey has enabled character traits that may have been dormant to re-emerge.  Traits such as being able to control fear and anxiety, being able to solve problems under stress, and conducting detailed research and planning to solve longer term issues.  My barbell journey has also opened my eyes to what is possible and exposed me to some amazing people whom I appreciate every single day.

As you journey towards your destination keep the end in sight but remember that along the way you will be rewarded with self-knowledge that can be applied to a future journey as well.

Yes.  I did steal the title of this blog post from a Taoist saying.  #unoriginalblogger

Yes. I did steal the title of this blog post from a Taoist saying. #unoriginalblogger

Strength Training for the Expectant Father


The content of this post is me joking around, but not really, but kind of.

My daughter is growing up and getting heavy.  Occasionally she asks to be carried around.  I indulge her because I am weak.  All of this got me thinking about strength training for the expectant father.  As silly as this sounds below are three exercises that I think would possibly prepare an expectant father for his upcoming duties.  Note that I have never done these myself.  🙂

The first exercise, focused on preparing an expectant father to carry around his child is the One Arm Zercher Dumbbell Farmer’s Walk. 

The second exercise, focused on preparing an expectant father to carry around his child while picking something up off the ground is the One Arm Zercher Dumbbell Ass-to-Grass Squat

The final exercise, focused on preparing an expectant father to hold his child while performing another task is the One Arm Zercher Dumbbell Static Hold While Making Breakfast.

Laugh, roll your eyes, but I cannot think of any exercises that would better prepare a father.

Maybe I have found my niche.  Maybe I should write a book on this subject.  I could specialize in one arm Zercher dumbbell variations and develop a cult-like following of sleep deprived new fathers.  I could possibly make tens of dollars!  Watch out world here I come!


Rudolph, Forgiveness, Inspiration, and Rorschach

Most of us know the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  The original story is here CLICK.


The television special version that I grew up with is here CLICK.


In the version of the story that I grew up with Santa Claus was aware of the other reindeer harassing Rudolph due to his red nose and did nothing to stop it.  Santa Claus even scolded Rudolph’s father, Donner, for trying to hide his son’s condition.  At the end of the story Santa Claus asks for Rudolph’s assistance in guiding his sleigh through bad weather so that he can deliver toys to children throughout the world.  Rudolph says yes, saves the day, and is then respected by those who harassed him.

I am always inspired by the television special version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  Why am I, an adult male, inspired by a children’s television show?  Because based upon the way Rudolph was harassed by his fellow reindeer over a physical condition he had no control over, and Santa Claus’ non-intervention, when asked to help he could have looked Santa Claus in the eye and said “No.”

Imagine what would have happened if Rudolph said no.  Children all over the world would not receive their toys.  Santa Claus’ reputation is ruined.  The entire system falls apart.  Despite any desire for revenge on those who wronged him Rudolph took the high road.  He put aside the past and helped Santa Claus.  Not only did the children receive their toys but the legend of Rudolph exists to inspire future generations of reindeer.  For some reason I imagine a reindeer version of Marine Corps running cadences except instead of singing about Chesty Puller they are singing about Rudolph.


What decision would you have made if you were Rudolph?

What decision did you make when asked for help by someone who wronged you?

I admit as a flawed human I side more with the Rorschach character in the film “Watchmen” who said “… [they] will look up and shout “Save us!”… and I’ll look down and whisper “No.”  I admit I need an attitude adjustment and I am working on it.


So this holiday season I encourage you to watch the television special version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  Let Rudolph’s actions inspire you to be better.


Investing in Knowledge vice Things


Two nights ago on Twitter I saw that Mike Tuchscherer of Reactive Training Systems CLICK along with Suzanne Hartwig-Gary and Matt Gary of Supreme Sports Performance and Training CLICK,  Ben Esgro of Denovo Nutrition CLICK, and Bob Wanamaker, “The Thinking Strongman”, CLICK  will be holding a seminar at the South Brooklyn Weight Lifting Club CLICK in February, 2014 CLICK.

I was absolutely shocked by the low price of this seminar.  I was so shocked that I assumed the listed price was an error.  I looked at my computer’s keypad hypothesizing that someone meant to hit the “6” vice the “3” when they entered the price on the website.  I then e-mailed a friend and he said that the price listed sounded right.

I was shocked because I can visit virtually any fitness-related website on the internet and see people agonizing over which “thing” to buy.  They agonize over this fitness product and that fitness product spending money hand over fist on “things” vice spending their money on training and education.  This trend is similar in the tactical world where someone will spend thousands of dollars on firearms but not a cent on how to learn the best way to utilize said firearm.

As an experiment I looked at a U.S. map and the farthest major city I found from New York, New York, where the seminar will be held, is San Diego, CA.  Let’s do some math — as of today:

Seminar:  $300

Round Trip Ticket from San Diego, CA to New York, New York:  $379.80 (Lowest Price, Let’s Assume $500)

Hotel:  $280 (Pre-Paid Rate)

Thus for around $1,100, not counting cost of movement from airport to hotel or meals, one can travel from the opposite end of the U.S. to New York, New York and learn from some of the best in the business.  Think about how much money you spend on fitness products which may or may not be utilized as your interests change.  Compare this with the opportunity to acquire knowledge that cannot be taken from you.

Things or knowledge — the investment is your choice.

For the record I will be attending this seminar, I will likely be the skinniest and weakest person in attendance, but the best way to learn is to always surround yourself with people better than you.  Thank you in advance to all the people named above for this seminar.  I am sure I will learn a lot.

Strength Solves Most


During a recent internet discussion I had occasion to look up the dictionary definitions of the words strength and strong.  Below are links to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary for both words.

Strength (CLICK)

Strong (CLICK)

As you read through both definitions it is clear that having strength and being strong has to do with much more than muscles.  Both definitions discuss the ability to resist force or an attack; having moral or intellectual power; not mild or weak etc.

As you think about your life and what causes you stress I would hypothesize that the majority of the stressors could be dealt with by simply getting stronger.  Strength of mind, strength of body, when well-balanced, can address most of life’s problems.  I encourage you to think critically about your life, get strong, and move forward toward becoming the person that you have always wanted to be.