Category Archives: Training

NaNoWriMo Chapter 11: Push

Today we move north, from lower body to upper body exercises. When I say you need to push something, you’re probably thinking of a push-up or a chest press. Good, those are right! But let’s expand our options a little.

I’m reading a good book called Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe that makes the case that the shoulder press (with a barbell) is often superior to the bench press for strength training. That discussion is beyond the scope of this post, but the point I want to make is that there are many great ways to push. Think of your everyday activities. What are the things you do at work, around the house, in the yard, for friends and neighbors that requires pushing?

Some examples for you to experiment:

  • bench press (flat, incline, decline, barbell, dumbbell)
  • TRX chest press
  • Triceps push downs
  • kettlebell shoulder press
  • Landmine shoulder press
  • TRX atomic push-ups

As we establish the categories of movements, pushing exercises are essential. Often it’s helpful to do them in conjunction with their opposites… pulling! That’s what we’ll cover tomorrow.

Happy training!

NaNoWriMo Chapter 9: Lunge

Walking is an activity of daily living and in the gym, one of the best ways to train that movement for the long term and the immediate strength is lunges. Today I’m introducing reverse lunges. Stand tall in front of a mirror and take a shallow step backwards – that’s our start for 6-8 reps. Now we’ll work towards full range of motion. First I’ll say you never touch that back knee on the ground, but inches short is our goal. Work up to that depth, meaning you may start with a half-lunge. When you do this movement you’ll notice balance becoming an issue. This is great work for your knees, ankles, and hips to stabilize. Between your balance and your depth of the reverse lunge, there’s a lot of progressions to work on here. I put you in front of a mirror so you can always ensure a tall spine: keep eye contact with yourself in the mirror.

Your first set should be a warm-up: tell your body what you want it to do. Then do three sets of 6-10 of each side.

NaNoWriMo Chapter 8: Squats

The most fundamental exercise that prepares us for life is the squat. It’s requires our biggest muscles so it’s not only efficient but strategic. We stand and sit all day. The squat also requires a straight torso so it trains a healthy spine. Every training plan should incorporate the squat as the first strength movement. Now which version of the squat should we introduce?

I’m going to call this the dumbbell squat. Holding One light dumbbells in Each hand, look straight forward with your shoulders back and your chest out, keep your heels flat on the ground and lower your backside as low as you can to 90 degrees at the knees and stand back up. The DBs shouldn’t track forward or backwards, you should always be able to keep eye contact with yourself in the mirror, and your heels need to stay flat. If you’re tight in the hamstrings you may not be able to get to 90 degrees and thighs parallel to the ground – work up to this.

Perform 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions of these DB squats on three non-consecutive days each week. There are many other variations of squats for another chapter. For today, happy squatting!

NaNoWritMo Chapter 7: Specificity Principle

Sometimes clients suggest a proficiency in one sport or exercise should correlate to another, and I have to tell them about the specificity principle. An example: I will be competing in triathlon next summer and my weakest leg is the swim. This off-season I’ll be getting in the pool to work on my technique, endurance, and confidence. And the only way to get better at swimming is… swimming! Sure, if I run and bike and lift weights the swim will go better. My cardiovascular and muscular systems will be stronger, but don’t forget about the principle of specificity: only swimming will make swimming better.

With exercise training, the Specificity Principle says a particular muscle or movement is only improved by working that same muscle or movement. So you may be asking what ‘specifics’ should we be working?

That’s what the next six chapters will be about: specifics. See you tomorrow.

NaNoWriMo Chapter 6: Lifestyle

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, I want to remind you that health and fitness is a lifestyle decision, a long-term play as opposed to a group of exercises. Training is something we do with purpose and a game plan. We can execute the game plan because we know it leads to our intended goal. And the process to reach that goal is best suited to a lifestyle rather than a task list.

I have learned as a trainer to fully educate potential clients on the lifestyle requirement of health. I often use playing a musical instrument as an example. You cannot expect to get better at the instrument if you practice one or two times per week. Proficiency requires a lifestyle. You don’t get better at push-ups read or talking about push-ups: you need to put in the work.

Before you push-back on the lifestyle of fitness, know that I’m not suggesting people become gym rats or start a home gym. What I’m proposing is realistic expectations of what it takes to build the human body into a healthier version of its current state. Anything less than a dedicated and strategic lifestyle is setting yourself up for failure.

NaNoWriMo Chapter 5: Exercise Less

I believe we should be exercising less and training more. Exercise sounds like a chore, a task, something you ‘should’ do, an obligation.

Training has purpose. Training is strategic. Training is for people trying to be their best.

Today you’ve been given a challenge: leave exercise behind and start training.

NaNoWriMo Chapter 4: Training Daily

Training daily doesn’t mean you workout every day. Training daily means every day contributes to your training plan. Depending on how you’ve started to implement this Fitness Novel I’m writing in November, you are probably due for a rest.

So take it.

But when you rest it’s important to understand why (and how) you’re resting. You’re resting because you’ve trained hard. You’ve stressed the body in an appropriate way such that the stimulus (training) will produce an advantageous adaptation: you’ll get more fit. You’ll improve your health. You’re bettering yourself. But just like a sponge can only hold so much water before it’s maxed out, your body can only work so hard before it needs a rest. In my experience five days of workouts per week are the max for most people. If you’re at 3-4, you’re in a good place. One goal I try to make for myself and my clients is never take two days off in a row.

To rest doesn’t mean to fully let loose. You still need to eat healthy. You still need to get 7-8 hours of sleep. You still need to keep your stress under control. Remember, you’re training daily. But on days when there’s no workout scheduled, stay in tune with your body. Is it capable of living an active day? Is it fueled and rested? Is it getting ready to work hard tomorrow?

NaNoWriMo Chapter 3: Game Plan

One question I get a lot when I start people on an exercise program is “what should my weekly training look like?” I love this question! Let’s put together a game plan: cardio is king and the number one thing you’re not doing is strength training. Now I suppose that kind of sounds like I’m saying both are of primary importance: “Hans, which One should I do first?”


Cardio is king. Look up the statistics on heart disease or just take my word for it: it’s wrecking havoc on our country. Train your heart and lungs to improve your vitals. It’s my number one recommendation.

More strength will do wonders for you. Metabolism, body composition, confidence. Imagine tight biceps, strong shoulders, powerful legs. Lift weights for two weeks and you’ll take that imagination to your first results of this new training. And if we play our cards right, you’ll never go back.

This is your game plan: cardio plus strength. Simple, right?

NaNoWriMo Chapter 2: KISS

Yesterday I started NaNoWriMo with a simple challenge: show up. Be consistent, have a routine, even if it means focusing on quantity rather than quality. As they say, 90% of life is (just) showing up. And so if you took the challenge to heart and put it into practice, you’re at it again for this second day. The next logical question: what should I be doing? KISS: keep it simple stupid. Or if that offends you… “keep it stupid simple.” My simple workout are four body weight exercises I call the Faithful Four. Faithful in that they’ll never leave you, they’re always with you, they can be relied on for effective results. Push-ups, sit-ups, squats and lunges. Simple, right? Depending on your fitness, these four exercise can be a supplement, they can be a full workout, and with the right push they could be your toughest workout of the week.

NaNoWriMo2019 Chapter 1: In Pursuit

Here we are again, the wonderful month of November. Usually this means full-force autumn but here in Wisconsin we’re already covered in snow. But the 5th is still Katie and my wedding anniversary (14 years), many men will stop shaving, Thanksgiving will be just around the corner, and between now and then some of your writer and creative friends will be participating in National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo. Although I have zero ambition to write a novel, I have a lot of ambition to continue to tell the story of my pursuit of a healthy and disciplined lifestyle. So every day in November 2019 I’ll be posting on my blog something that will document, educate and hopefully inspire you in your pursuit.

Today’s topic is an appropriate challenge: show up

So much of what I do as an exercise specialist is help clients show up every day. Valuing your health is at first a cognitive task but that doesn’t improve our fitness. We need to show up to the gym, we need to put on those running shoes and head outside, or we need to get to the basement or garage and lift those dumbbells, jump some rope, and utilize our home gym. Once that workout is over, it’s time to plan for the next one. People sometimes ask me “how much” they need to do to get in shape, to get where they want to go. My answer comes in two parts: first you need to begin with something you can repeat for three weeks, then you need to build to five days per week. That is a principle, not a rule, but it’s pretty accurate.

In the words of Todd Durkin, “get your mind right!” and value your health. Then hear the challenge of Stephen Covey: “put the big rocks (in your schedule) first” – prioritize that workout. And since you don’t know either of those men personally, the last words are from yours truly: “I’m here for whatever coaching you need. Fitness, nutrition, rest and recovery, life balance, goal-setting… you name it, in this space I’ll coach it. The pursuit is worth the effort. And I believe in you.”

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Here’s the rest of my NaNoWriMo 2019 posts:

Chapter 2: KISS

Chapter 3: Game Plan

Chapter 4: Training Daily

Chapter 5: Exercise Less

Chapter 6: Lifestyle

Chapter 7: Specificity Principle