For today's post, I decided to do something different and create a graphic. The purpose of this graphic is to show the exercises that are good for anyone looking to be proficient with a barbell, dumbbell, and/or kettlebell. In my opinion, this is a great starting point for someone who is just starting to work with a certain type of equipment, and ideally, I think it is important to be comfortable using all three. One thing that is not included in this graphic is bodyweight exercises - those are just as important to be comfortable with. If you know how to perform all of these exercises, I think you'll find that your workouts have enough variety that you'll be excited to enter the gym and you should exit feeling exhausted from a great workout if you have a good mixture of compound lifts (squat, deadlift, or press for example) and isolation lifts (curl, row, or lateral side raise for example).
Here are some quality resources you can use to find out how to perform these lifts correctly:
Scott Herman Fitness - YouTube Channel
Mind Pump TV - YouTube Channel
Becoming a Supple Leopard by Dr. Kelly Starrett
Bigger Leaner Stronger by Mike Matthews
StrongerbyScience.com - Greg Nuckols' Definitive Guide for the Squat, Deadlift, and Bench Press
There are several other great resources, these are just a few that I like to reference.
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Book release planned for January 2021!!!
I just finished writing a book and just have to make the finishing touches (final edits, book cover design, formatting, etc.) and could use your help! The book will be a series of biographies on experts in the field of health and fitness, from strength & conditioning to nutrition to physical therapy. All of the experts, their backgrounds, and the research I've done can be seen on my About Twelve Paths Page. These biographies don't just go over their backgrounds and how they built their platform as experts in the field but also shares all of the tips that I found helpful after reading their books and articles as well as listening to hundreds of hours of podcast interviews done by each of them.
Let me know your thoughts for a book title you see most fit - that you would see in a book store and think it is worth reading. Please give me your honest opinion. Even if you select "None of the Above" I sincerely appreciate your input. If you like one but it could use some work, please let me know that in the comment box at the bottom!
While I am going through these final phases of the publishing process, I will likely have a post like this pinned to the top of my blog so I can get as much help from you guys as possible.
Note: To clarify, my plan is to have twelve experts total, hence the name "Twelve Paths." This book will only have six or seven experts so it will be Volume 1 of 2 since it took roughly 2 years and I don't want the information getting any more dated before publication.
From researching experts in strength and conditioning, it is interesting that they seem to have very similar go-to cues for the main lifts (the barbell bench press, squat, and deadlift), even though they have very different coaching styles. Some experts put a lot of care into perfecting form and others put more consideration into getting as high of numbers as possible. This is extremely controversial in the health and fitness community because there’s no direct evidence spelling out the “safest” forms and some argue that you can be more apt to get injured if you’re constantly worried about getting hurt and always concerned about perfect form.
Featured in this post are Kelly Starrett (physical therapist, coach at his gym (San Francisco Crossfit), and virtual coach through TheReadyState.com), Mike Matthews (author and virtual coach through LegionAthletics.com), and Greg Nuckols (researcher and coach through StrongerByScience.com). All of these individuals have coached thousands of individuals so I trust that these cues will be helpful for you to know.
Barbell Bench Press
“Once you’ve got your grip set, squeeze the ever loving shit out of the bar.” This is a quote from Greg Nuckols’, “How to Bench Press: The Definitive Guide” and he also mentioned it in his interview on the E3 Rehab Podcast. Mike Matthews suggests doing this in his books, Bigger Leaner Stronger and Thinner Leaner Stronger as well. It is not clear on why this works, whether it is activating certain muscles more or whatnot, but - they aren't just confident - they know that it does in fact work.
Barbell Back Squat
“Screw your feet into the floor.” Here is another quote from Greg Nuckols, from his article called, “How to Squat: The Definitive Guide”, which he advises using as you are dropping down in the squat. Make sure to screw your feet away from your body, not towards. This is also taught by Kelly Starrett in his wildly popular book, Becoming a Supple Leopard (p. 64-65). This cue works to help stabilize and create tension in your hips. It also prevents your knees from falling inward (or ‘valgus knees’) as you squat.
Greg Nuckols states to focus on “ripping the floor in half,” at least until the bar is above your knees in his article "How to Deadlift: the Definitive Guide." This is a similar cue to the squat but an important one. Kelly Starrett also emphasizes this in Becoming a Supple Leopard, stating, “screw your feet into the ground and hands into the bar [away from your body] (p. 198-199).”
Another common cue worth mentioning that could be applied to all of these lifts is to tense up your core during your set up. These are emphasized by all three experts mentioned in this post.
I decided to post on this topic because it seems to be a popular question among the fitness community. I've seen it asked multiple times in Facebook Groups I am in and it is a common topic in books and podcasts as well. If you have worked with a personal trainer before, you likely know all of these cues already but if you are a beginner, these cues should help you as they did me. If you plan on starting to train with a barbell on your own, I highly advise educating yourself beforehand or getting yourself a personal trainer until you are comfortable with each lift. All of the articles and books referenced in this post are great resources for this purpose. If you would like a suggestion on which resource is best for you, you can either comment below or email me at email@example.com and I would be happy to make a suggestion based on your experience and your goals.
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Media (Books, Podcasts, etc.)
If you start wondering, "wait this is health/fitness blog, why are we learning about motivation," know that you're wrong. This is a blog to assist you on your self-improvement journey. A large focus on what I currently research is health and fitness related but this presentation made such a large impact on me that I felt it was important to share with you.
If you need a kickstart to get inspired or if you just want to get some golden nuggets on how to be successful, you need to check out this presentation given by Sabrina Lloyd, CEO of Lloyd Agencies and hosted by Eric Thomas. Eric Thomas is a motivational speaker who has an incredible amount of inspirational content and I think this presentation left the biggest mark on me out of all of it.
Sabrina brings the same energy as ET and provides extremely powerful tips on what to do to be successful. I first heard this when I was pretty close to graduating college and the audience she is presenting to is college students at Michigan State University. That being said, this information is helpful for anyone who feels they are willing to put in the work to be successful but have yet to make the right moves.
Ever since I listened to this 2-3 years ago, I remember quotes from this presentation and, at times, they push me to continue working hard. In case you don’t want to listen to the hour-long presentation, here is a breakdown of the material…
Before Sabrina comes out, ET is preparing them for her. Something powerful that he says is, “degrees don’t necessarily make you successful. Its knowledge and skills and the application of those skills.” This is a great point – in order to do well outside of college and to stay employed, you need to prove that you’re worth the company’s investment of time and money. A common quote from ET is reiterated in this portion of the track as well - stating, “speed kills,” and suggesting that being 15 minutes early really means you are on time.
To begin, Sabrina states, “anything that you want it is absolutely possible if you follow the blue print to get there,” and that she is about to share that blueprint with you. By successful, she means that:
1. You control money. You don’t let money control you/your decisions.
2. You are able to buy nice things, morally and ethically. When you see a red Ferrari pull up next to you, you shouldn’t assume that person was handed it or that they are greedy or that they are a drug dealer. That individual likely worked hard for what they have and you should want to learn from those people.
Then, she goes on to share a ton of solid tips, including:
1. Quit getting offended when someone says something to you. “When you get offended… you will get smacked around the rest of your life.” Instead, get inspired.
2. We are not all equal. The only time we are all equal is in the beginning. “We unequalize ourselves every day by the decisions that we make. If I make harder decisions than you, if I make tougher decisions than you, how can you say that I am equal to you... We are not the same anymore!” Start looking at how you can step up your game.
3. Pay back your school/country by wearing it on your back. People are what brings value to a country. Make yourself a resource.
4. “Everyone wants to be successful until they see what it actually takes.” You may have to put your relationships on hold, even family members, if you want to be successful.
5. Not until everything is stripped away do you know what you really want. For example:
6. Wealth is a state of mind. Get in different environments to get out of the “lack”/poverty mindset and into the wealth mindset. You attract money by being mentally wealthy.
7. “Always do more than you are currently paid to do. That’s how to make an investment in your future.” Work to make impact and raise the standard.
8. Be a warrior. Warriors have options, they create favorable conditions, and they exist to service others. Work hard and never surrender.
I understand that this is a ton of information thrown in a short post so I encourage you to listen to the track so that a stronger impression is made on you. At the end of the day, ambition comes from you but I can tell you that Sabrina’s words have really pushed me to do the best job I can to make an impact in and out of the workplace.
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Food/Nutrition, Motivation, Workout/Exercise
I see this question all the time and it’s really the main purposes of this blog site: to help you find resources for nutrition and fitness, whether you are a beginner or looking to learn more on top of what you already know. If you’ve asked this question that means you’ve already started. Something sparked the thought that you want to find a plan that works for you - for nutrition, exercise, or both. Maybe this was a motivational speaker you heard or your weight hit a number that you never want to see again or you had your first kid and realize you want to be around for as long as possible. No matter the reason, you need to find the resources to get you headed in the right direction.
I suggest taking the following 4 steps...
1. Figure Out Your Goals
First off, what are you trying to achieve? Nutrition and fitness are far too complex to try and understand everything at once. Are you trying to build muscle? Do you want to work on your form during certain lifts? Find new exercises?
Are you trying to lose weight? This is a bit more complicated because of how many diets there are out there. My advice is to research which diet sounds most practical for you. Personally, I find Paleo to be a great introduction to avoiding sugary and starchy junk foods. By simply avoiding processed foods, you’ll find that your daily carbohydrate and sugar count will go down and it will be easier not to overeat. If diet isn’t your issue, find an exercise plan that sounds most practical depending on what you enjoy doing and what you realistically have time for.
If you aren’t sure and would like to do a further assessment to figure out your goals, check out a popular post of mine - Setting Goals (Warren Buffet, Jordan Pederson).
2. Find an Expert
If you look at my Recommended Books Page or my About Page, you will find a number of experts with all different backgrounds and areas of expertise. Whether you want to build muscle, lose weight, or work on improving specific aspects of your current programming, there should be someone you can respect and would like to learn more from more. Check out their website, books they've written, interviews they've done, etc. to find out if you want to learn more of what they have to say.
Personally, the only form of media I trust for full nutrition or fitness plans are books. Most programs are simply too complex to explain in an article and you want to make sure it is a plan that you trust will work, especially if you are a beginner. Also, don’t just pick up one book. I find that self-help, fitness, nutrition, and cookbooks all go together. At a minimum, pick up or download 2-3 books from a mixture of those categories. For example, if you want to work on your diet, pick up 1 book from the expert you chose to learn from and then pick up 1 or 2 cookbooks related to the diet you would like to try. Many nutrition books introduce their own meal plans and provide recipes but I can tell you that cookbooks will give you a much better idea of all the options and should make you realize the diet won’t be too difficult to follow.
Take this step seriously. Keep a highlighter with you and really get to know the diet/training program they’re prescribing. When looking at cookbooks, cut out or mark the pages of recipes you want to try.
In the end, it is all on you. You can read all the self-help, fitness, and diet books you want, but if you don’t act on it, nothing will change and you will just waste your time and money. All while researching and reading, you should be doing something to get started. Pick up dumbbells or a kettlebell, or find a gym or a club that you like, or make an effort to limit sugars/carbohydrates. Find what you like best – you make tweaks to their program or combine aspects of different programs. Whatever you enjoy doing and can see yourself doing consistently for a long time is the program for you.
I hope this helps you. This is the method that I took once I had the motivation to get started. I had been working out consistently but wasn’t seeing any improvements so I decided to take it seriously and attempted to improve my nutrition and find a workout plan that works for me – and I did. There are experts out there who want nothing more than to assist you in reaching your goals who have huge followings raving about how well their programs work.
If you want advice on which expert to follow, comment below with what you are looking to accomplish and I’ll do my best to help. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lastly, if you enjoyed this post please share it on (simply copy the link into your social media feed) and subscribe to the blog on my Contact Page. I will not spam your email but only notify you of new blog posts or important news related to the blog. Thank you for reading!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.