Musings & Things That Make You Go, “Hmm…” – 1/21/17

For what it is worth, whenever I see the crowd do one thing, I will often opt to go and do the opposite. Barring running towards danger, this is often how I operate, just reverse engineering things.

  • Do you reflect on your thoughts? Because they become actions eventually.
  • Yes, there is no time like the present, and perfect is the enemy of great.
  • I understand that intellectually, but what happens when you need to refine your thought process in order to further improve your practice?
  • Phones off, spend time with loved ones, then aggressively work when doing whatever it is you need to do.


Thus my long time away from publishing anything of significance.

With that said, here are several points on several topics that keep on re-entering my head over and over again. Perhaps I will make these individual blog posts and more fleshed out if necessary.

Selling Your Thoughts

Pitching sales to parents over and over is one of the most interesting things that will probably continue to interest me for quite some time. I can always see their justification, and when I ask what is it they want from training for their son/daughter, they respond with an answer that they derived from another source. This source is of course never really their own thoughts, because well, it is impossible for them to identify these things unless they too are well versed in exercise physiology and anatomy.

The keys here are to identify how to best serve their son/daughter with what they truly need physiologically, along with meeting the demands of what the parents want.

The things you want for little Johnny will be a little different in practice than what you have seen on YouTube or even Instagram now.


This is good stuff on Instagram.

Assessing for Function and Performance

When performing an assessment with the context of identifying key biomechanical positions, it is imperative to understand how an individual arrived at said results of the assessment. Do they have any gaps or missing key performance indicators (KPIs)? If yes, is it due to of chronic activity? Overuse symptoms? Or was it from a contact sport or injury? If no, what is the road they need to take to improve fitness qualities as fast as possible?

One day I asked Mike Cantrell during a lunch break at a Postural Restoration Institute (PRI) course, “What is the origin of dysfunction? How can we tell what is really happening?” Considering the amount of time we’ve spent together talking about anatomy and being immersed somewhat in-depth on these topics, he gave me an answer in true Jedi like fashion, “That is the question we are all trying to answer.”

What I’m likening this question to is “What caused you (the individual, the movement) to present in such a fashion?”

  1. Was it contact with an external force?
  2. Were your connective tissues not strong enough to hold the forces and torques you put your body through internally?
  3. Was it degradation of tissue quality, and then eventually a scenario where the “straw that broke the camel’s back” occurred?
  4. What is your equipment selection like?
  5. What shoes are you constantly wearing when doing said activity?
  6. Do you sleep well?
  7. What is your psyche when performing said activity?
  8. Are you trying to copy someone or are you trying to find your own way? (I’ve gotten some interesting answers from this one, especially with respect to the several postural and gait methods available online.)
  9. Are you sick, or were you sick recently (general inflammation of joints can cause false positives in a movement screen)?
  10. Is there anything else not related to the main reason you are here (to develop fitness qualities, to transition from rehab to fitness, to improve aesthetics, etc.) that would stop you from exercising that you feel I should know about?
  11. Are you presenting the way you present because of a medical reason?

These are all variations of questions I’ve asked, or thoughts in my head, that have allowed me to see deeper into the results of just a black or white movement assessment.

After hopefully determining the root cause, you can begin to fill in the gaps.

Further, the results of the assessments are not all they’re cracked up to be.

After the assessment, you need to actually do something about it. Do you begin peeling back the layers of the onion? Do you just begin with their strengths and forget their weaknesses in the moment? Each question has their own set of pros and cons – it is up to you to decide, kind of like those old Goosebump novels.

Fitness Qualities in Youth Athletes

When looking to improve general fitness qualities of a youth athlete, barring joint issues or contact injuries, it is really quite simple from a movement perspective. I usually follow a Dan John-esque movement library of:

  1. Push
  2. Pull
  3. Squat
  4. Hinge
  5. Single Leg Stuff
  6. Core and Resisting Motion at the Core
  7. Locomotion


Locomoting at its finest

Anything outside the scope of these may translate into more of a special exercise, ie looking to hit benchmarks in ranges of motion, improving eccentric strength of the rotator cuff, and/or guiding the youth athlete along the continuum of safe specific adaptations to an imposed demand on not only fitness qualities, but also with respect to Wolff’s Law.

If your child is going to be a Chinese gymnast or Olympic weightlifter, don’t worry – you can still practice those special movements, while still getting brutally strong by following these simple movements with the appropriate weight selections.

When they get bored of these movements do these things, depending on the age:

  1. Challenge them. What child does not like to be gently encouraged to give a 1% more effort?
  2. Make it a game. I’ve played Red Light, Green Light with single leg hops and squats, all after performing these big movements over and over, and after performing med ball circuits. It isn’t that these kids are getting bored, it is you the coach that is boring.
  3. Entice them. There are certainly good kids and bad kids, and curbing bad behavior is difficult especially when there are 10+ kids in a group. But tell them you will attempt to do a dance move (insert the robot, the worm, or if you can really dance, then do so) if they pay attention and do a good job for the next 10-15 minutes. Then, follow through. Word is bond. Again, it isn’t that the kids are getting bored, you are boring.

Motor learning can occur in a much more emotionally driven environment, much more than some random trainer monotonously counting repetitions while your kid is struggling with the concept of a lunge or push-up. Just go and play a game while having certain constraints, and you will achieve both fitness qualities plus laughter.

Further, if these children are going to be in your program for (x) amount of years, begin grooming them on weight room etiquette, and begin to describe what it is like in the higher levels, so they can begin to form an idea in their brains on what they need to do to continue improving, or if they even want to be there in the first place.

Being Authentic

Copying what others do is not wrong. There isn’t really a right. But when you find out what makes you tick, and how you view the world, that is how you can genuinely walk and influence others more easily in a positive light. There is authenticity in your thoughts, words, and it reflects in actions that can’t be copied anywhere else.

But first you need to find out how you view the world and what makes you tick. After you do this, communicate this with those you are serving so that expectations are met.

Gaining Trust

Gaining trust is something that will always be challenged. If you lose someone’s trust, the hoops you have to jump through in order to re-gain their trust are several and sometimes, complex. See above paragraph on how to walk with authenticity, and perhaps, also with integrity.

Listen more.

This is my “mantra” or my theme for this year. 2 ears, 1 mouth and all. Or just be an active listener. Help people to be more detailed with their thoughts, so ask better questions.

Pieces to the Puzzle

I find it so so interesting that some body parts in this industry to be emphasized more than others, when in fact one body part should not be any more important than another.

One analogy I use to explain this very simply is, “ The knee bone connects to the – thigh bone. The thigh bone connects to the – hip bone.” This is a common nursery rhyme that hopefully many have been exposed to, but despite its excessive simplicity, I use it to drive a point home.

If your body cannot absorb force authentically from the ground up, what occurs at the great toe and pinky toe, to the lateral and medial arches, to the ankle joint, to the tib-fib joint, to the patella, to the femur, all the way to the acetabulum will be affected.

Sprinting - Cause of Lack of Ankle Dorsiflexion
Assuming these are the joint’s end range of motion

If you don’t think your hip explosiveness out of the bottom position of a 2 point sprint will be affected by your abilities to achieve great toe extension, go and kick a dumbbell on the ground as hard as you can with your great toe leading the way, and tell me how your hip is still not affected.

As such, all of these items must at the very least be considered when identifying “energy leaks” as I believe Dr. Stu McGill called it.

With this in mind, I find it more and more interesting how the thoracic diaphragm is taking up so much press, but the pelvic floor (which can be referred to also as the pelvic diaphragm) is not identified as an issue unless you are a woman.

Are we all not humans? Do we all not have pelvises (a left and a right one, at that)?

Hip Pelvis

Urinary incontinence, while certainly outside the scope of the fitness industry, does not have to affect only women – it can also affect men. And yes, there are things you can do to help improve or reduce these situations from becoming problematic.

I certainly remember peeing my pants in the 2nd grade, but I don’t recall anyone calmly coming over and telling me I need to improve my pelvic floor muscles in order to avoid embarrassment again. I was just shamed for a lack of control.

And while you’re at it – reducing pelvic floor issues can theoretically improve rate of force production. Say what? Yes – because if there are any energy leaks (and hopefully not literal leaks), then there will be a loss of kinetic energy and inability to absorb force as well (which is important for deceleration).

What Courses Should I Take?

When any young trainer/coach asks me what course should they take, I tell them I can’t answer that for you because I don’t know you.

Would I recommend taking a Calculus I course if you weren’t even introduced to basic Algebra?

Another analogy I use is what occurred in college and swimming classes for me.

In college, I took an Introduction to Swimming class. It was easy, and the instructor made learning the different swimming strokes very fun. So much so, that I decided to take a Swimming II class the very next semester, completely bypassing Swimming I. Probably the worst move to make, because we barely covered the requisite endurance that is necessary found in Swimming I, along with having a whole winter break to not practice this newly acquired skillset that I had. All of these items made Swimming II extremely difficult for me – walking into a class with all former swimmers just looking to take an easy class for the A to boost their GPA, I was the only non-swimmer to take Swimming II. We covered a full 1.5miles first day into class, and more mileage as each class continued.

I got an A, but still, it was taxing physically, and to use a contemporary phrase, the cost of doing business was my exhaustion in the beginning of that semester.

So with all that said, what courses you take should be dictated by your own weaknesses, strengths, and personal desires as well. It’s your money, you can do whatever you want with it (barring hurting people, and you don’t get to say that because Miguel said to do whatever you want, that you did hurt someone).

Knowledge Gains? Or Just Being Old?

On that note, there are tons of different entry points into knowledge. Knowledge just has the notion of being this “thing” that is there. It does not poke out like a bright shiny piece of metal on the ground, nor is it like fireworks that are representative of what people in the industry call the “A-Ha! Moments” or “knowledge gains” that everyone is a fan of saying and using. What is useful to some is merely in one ear and out the other for others – there needs to be an appropriate setting, messenger, and obviously tailored message itself in order to properly learn whatever it is you are trying to learn.

To quote my friend Joe Gonzalez, who he also quoted I believe from a martial arts instructor,

“Knowledge is like dust – you stick around long enough and it simply accumulates.”

In reality, my interpretation of acquiring knowledge is you not only have to stick around, which implies the constant endurance necessary for said accumulation of knowledge, but you also have to have the mindset ready for acquisition of knowledge.

If you go to a course wanting to impress anyone and everyone with your knowledge, chances are you won’t be able to absorb any useful information because you are too busy excreting what is in your brain, that you can’t absorb anything. To paraphrase the story of the Zen master to his future pupil, you have to empty your cup before you can fill it back up.

Even more interestingly, after emptying your cup is the actual act of seeing small messages within what is often nonchalantly said, and seemingly not important information. Within these weekend courses, many instructors often have to provide a standard set forth by their respective organization, but are asked questions outside of the scope of the itinerary of the day. This is when they may interject their own clinical opinions, or in the trenches information. This is where the gold lies, as this is a combination of their own experiences plus how they view the very system they are teaching you. Personalized stories allow others to connect more easily, and as such, will create better stickiness for these pieces of knowledge to be kept and understood.

So, to answer your question on, “What do I think of that course?” My answer is, “Yes.”

Now go do it.

Things the Hyper-Neurotic (Like Me) Can Do for 30 min for a Better Life (Instead of Making Excuses or Complaining)

I tend to hyperanalyze things. Hyper, in the sense that I have the tendency to extrapolate things out – not out of proportion, merely draw all the steps out in any given situation. This has its benefits – I can begin to tell you a few reasons why I don’t gamble in poker or blackjack, for example. It also has its negatives – as with any type of “overthinking”, there is the downward spiral of thinking that involves angst related worrying.


With this in mind, I tend to take the stance of taking action instead of going down that road of anxiety.

What if I miss my macros by 20g of protein? I missed my fasted cardio this morning because I overslept by 20 minutes. I can’t make up for it because I’m traveling and then I’ll be too tired from driving all day this week.

So, instead of worrying, I’d rather gather my losses, plan ahead to not make that same mistake, and move on.

With this in mind, I’m not a fan of excuses, complaining or general talk about “I coulda, shoulda, woulda…” I’ve always appreciated that to get results that matter, you need to put in some work. I’ve also always appreciated that in order to get great results you need to fall in love with the process of achieving greatness.

One thing I can understand is that not everyone is of the same mindset, and some of us do in fact use that “coulda/shoulda/woulda” talk. And I respect that, because everyone goes through different mental bouts or struggles.

However, once you go through whatever method of therapy you choose to go through, the question then remains – what is your next move? Sitting on a psychological problem and hemming and hawing won’t achieve any visceral results. Go see a therapist already. That is what they are there for – to talk with and figure things out. Or resolve your issue in person, whatever the issue is.

After you figure it out, you can now begin the process of achieving real results

One question I ask myself almost daily is, “What is limiting you?”

For Howard Stark, his limitations in technology within his current time limited him from creating a new element – in which his son, Tony Starks, portrayed by Robert Downey Jr., later discovered with the help of his father’s work.


Superhero movie talk aside, there is something fascinating to me about making due with what your current resources currently have. Obviously optimal is the ideal mindset, but what will you do if you don’t have the resources for every little detail planned to the “T”?

Here is an off-the-cuff, no excuses list of things you can do for 30 minutes for the fitness-stressed individual.

What I included were a few logical rationale if anyone has any barriers towards these actions, along with the specific timeframes that these items would take me to perform. For others, it may take longer of course.

One of the missing points when comparing apples to apples is that sometimes the process for a result is misunderstood, or simply not hashed out. It is when a plan can be reverse engineered that a goal can be achieved.

 I have a dream fantasy of appearing in a kung fu action flick. However, this would take years of practicing tricking, perhaps some type of martial arts (what a thought!), along with developing the network that would allow me to do so. I am on a different path, perhaps adjacent to, but not directly in line with me performing in a specific situation such as this.

However, fitness and health, for whatever reason, are thrown upon some pedestal with which it may be impossible to “achieve” such fitness. It does not have to be, and I outlined several bulletpoints that have rationale along with the process towards achieving success in “fitness”.

Physical List of Things to Do 

1. Perform foam rolling, purposeful breathing exercises, and a dynamic warm-up. (Time = 15 minutes)

  • Foam rolling has several benefits towards improving range of motion, increasing ischemic blood flow to hypoxic tissue, and decreasing neurological tension in some muscle groups.
  • Positional breathing drills have several important implications, largely aiming to reduce sympathetic tone, and improving neurological positioning of muscles.

  • A dynamic warm-up can improve blood flow to specific muscle groups, improve neurological movement patterns, along with improving movement quality of mobility-deprived joints.

2. Perform KB Swings and Push-Ups in a ladder or circuit-like fashion. (Time = 10-20 minutes)

  • For a circuit: Perform 10 KB Swings, and then 10 push-ups. Rest for 60 seconds. Perform for 8 to 10 sets.
  • For a ladder: Perform 1 KB Swing, and 1 push-up. Rest for 60 seconds. After, perform 2 KB swings, and 2 push-ups. Rest for 60 seconds. Repeat to 10 KB Swings, 10 push-ups. When you reach 10/10, go back down the “ladder”.

3. Perform positional breathing drills, jump rope, and then deadlift. (Time = 30 minutes)

  • Breathing Drills = 5 Minutes (to get into a better position)
  • Jump Rope = 3-5 Minutes (to work up a sweat)
  • Deadlift (or insert large compound movement) = 20 minutes
  • Work up to a heavy set, or do multiple sets at a lower percentage of 1RM.

Psychological/Mental List of Things to Do 

1. Examine your triggers and learn why you may be destroying your fitness oriented efforts. (Time = 1-30+ minutes)

  • Reflecting introspectively why you behave the way you do can be a bit foreign to those not used to thinking like this, so let me walk you through the process.
  • First, identify negative habit. (My habit is over-eating carbs at night.)
  • Next, identify why habit may exist. (Perhaps I am bored, need to appease my oral fixation while watching TV, reading too much and want a mental break, or am simply hungry.)
  • Provide solutions to curb negative habit. (Get rid of carbs from surroundings, put a timeline on reading to prevent staying up later than necessary, or find a more satiety-oriented food that will help curb appetite – such as increasing protein sources.)

2. Go for a walk around your neighborhood. (Time = 5-30+minutes)

  • Instead of looking at your phone/laptop as soon as you wake up, put your phone on airplane mode when you wake up, and take a walk.
  • The arbitrary act of walking is not the end goal, rather it is the means with which to increase blood flow throughout the circulatory system globally.
  • Also, nature is beautiful. Look around once in a while, hear the birds sing, and smell some fresh air.

Zen Nature

3. Delete numbers, defriend/delete Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/etc. (Time = 5-30 minutes, depending on amount of contacts; or 10 seconds to delete your social media apps)

  • Reduce your digital footprint in order to declutter your necessity to cling to “things”, your “identity”, and decrease your need for social media triggers.
  • If you don’t have Facebook/Twitter/Instagram on your phone, you won’t use it, check it, and won’t have anything to worry about. It’ll be like pre-2005 all over again.

Can You Come Out and Play

4. Turn your phone off, and ask your significant other how they are doing. (Time = 5 seconds to turn phone off, 5 seconds to ask your family/friend/significant other how they are doing)

  • Care about those who surround you immediately. Often the “now” is lost for fear of missing out, fear of loss, anxiety, etc.
  • If you don’t have a phone to check on others, what will you identify with?
  • See Fight Club anachronism,

“You are not your phone/job/car/physique.”

5. Text or call your family/friend/significant other and tell them “I love you.” (Time = 5 seconds to text, 5 seconds to 30+ minutes to wait for response; although that isn’t the point.)

  • See above.

6. Read a book/download podcasts that will mentally stimulate and/or challenge your current thought process. (Time = 5 to 30+minutes, depending on length of podcast/book, and you can pick up where you left off relatively easy.)

  • Your thoughts shape how you act.
  • If you don’t have any thoughts, how will you act?

Nutritional List of Things to Do

1. Learn how to cook. (Time = 5-30+minutes, although for minimum effective doseage, it is fairly simple to pick up this skill. For further enhancement of “cooking” for flavor, style, and other items, it is a lifelong skill.)

  • Foster an attitude of independence, and take responsibility for what is entering your body nutritionally.
  • Food is energy.
  • If you can’t cook, do you know the source of your energy?

2. Cook chicken/beef/[insert protein source]. Throw some veggies in a pan and boil for a few minutes. (Time =  Approximately 30 Minutes)

  • Chicken takes 5 minutes to prep, 20-25 minutes to bake, and 5 minutes to chop up and put in a Tupperware for later.
  • Boiling veggies simultaneously while you bake your chicken will allow you to save time.

Bake Chicken

3. Identify what foods are negative triggers (that you have in your immediate surrounding or that you enjoy) towards binging, and make a physical note of them (or gather them). (Time = 5-30 minutes)

4. Raid your fridge, pantry, and under your bed for everything that is a negative trigger that will cause you to go down a downward spiral from a healthy eating point of view. (Time = 30+ minutes)

  • Getting rid of triggers is a crucial habit that many do not identify with regards to improving habits.
  • Recovering alcoholics generally do not bode well being surrounded by alcohol.
  • Should you surround yourself with negative triggers if you are attempting to curb a habit of overeating?

5. Make smoothies consisting of fruits, protein powder, and/or greens. (Time = 10-20 minutes)

  • Instead of wholly getting rid of negative habits, only to have other habits rear their head in its place, replace the negative habit with a positive habit.
  • Identify a well intentioned protein source, greens supplement, and locally grown fruit/veggies.

Recovery List of Things to Use/Buy

1. Buy a sleep mask to block out light. (Time = < 5 minutes)

  • By blocking out light, you are reducing your visual input that is interpreted via your brain, which in essence should reduce your sympathetic tone.
  • Less input = more parasympathetic =better sleep.
  • has a lot of options. And you don’t need to leave your seat/phone to do it.

2. Buy ZMA, melatonin, and/or magnesium – all natural supplements – to aid with sleep and calming your nervous system down. (Time = < 5 minutes)

3. Buy a red light to aid with sleep. (Time = < 5 minutes)

  • “Red or amber light doesn’t appear to wreck melatonin and sleep as much as blue or white light.” ~Anthony Mychal

Hopefully these are some helpful tips to get you going towards a healthier lifestyle.

Notice that there is no motivational video here to get you started in the morning. To me, those may serve as mental masturbation videos that do nothing but to get you fired up – but do nothing to give you an actionable plan towards achieving real results.

Also notice that there is no running listed as a form of “exercise”.

Personally, I don’t like running.

As always,

Keep it funky.


Morning Musings #10: 25 Lessons the Strength and Conditioning Industry Has Taught Me

Today I turn 25, and as I sit here drinking a greens and BCAA concoction, thinking back about 3 to 4 years ago at this same time when I was drinking a red bull vodka concoction, I would like to believe I’ve learned a thing or two about health, “fitness”, and what the strength and conditioning community has taught me professionally and personally.

Continue reading “Morning Musings #10: 25 Lessons the Strength and Conditioning Industry Has Taught Me”