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.


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.


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.

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: 

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!

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.