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Super Meets Supple: Mark Bell x Kelly Starrett on Deadlifting

posted by coach Jay D

I often see questionable deadlifting on social media and even in person.
If it’s in person, I try my best to step in and assist without sounding like a jerk that’s overstepping my boundaries and crushing many-a-fragile ego.
If it’s on instagram or youtube or Facebook or anywhere…there’s only so much I can do.

Here’s a great video between Supertraining’s Mark Bell + Mobility WOD’s Kelly Starrett, as we get to listen on a deadlifting session with the two. Tons of info, in 45 mins, folks. Enjoy.

“It’s not just what’s about on the bar, here.” – Kelly Starrett

Please, Craft your Lifts.

Evolve or Die.

Odd Exercises for Physical Vigor From an Oldtime Strongman

posted by coach Jay D

Although the accessibility of new fitness, exercise and training rituals and programs are faster than they’ve ever been in history via the internet, there’s nothing quite like going back in time and reading about how the Strength Community of yesteryear sought and found their strength.

Thanks to Art of Manliness, here’s a great article showcasing a few odd exercises to increase ‘Physical Vigor’.

A perfect “To-Do” for anyone’s morning – somewhere before your morning run, yet after your ‘Sun Salutation’.
Enjoy the timelessness.

Odd Exercises for Physical Vigor: An Oldtime Strongman’s 15-Minute Routine

Have A Strong Day.

The “2 Minute” and “5 Minute” Rules of Defeating Procrastination

posted by coach Jay D

The 2 and 5 Minute Rules of getting stuff done has been around awhile, apparently.
Unfortunately, I only recently heard about them. I guess someone out there was procrastinating on getting this wisdom and word out to me.
Let me share this with you…

The 2 Minute Rule of Defeating Procrastination (Starting)
One variation of this rule is to simply start a task that you’ve been putting off. In other words, whatever you’ve been pushing to get started on “later”, MUST be started within the next 2 minutes.

This concept is brewed in Newton’s Law of Motion that, “An object in motion will stay in motion.”
You are the object. Now start that damn task and motion and don’t stop.

The 2 minute rule is great because it tackles our laziness by simply starting our dreaded task. That really is often the hardest part – STARTING. Whether it’s training, savings, work or relationship-related, start your task the moment you think of doing in within a 2 minute window.

You’ll be surprised that you’ll probably end up finishing in one shot.

The 5 Minute Rule of Defeating Procrastination (Consistency/Repetition)
The 5 minute rule is usually reserved for larger projects and longer term goals.
The 5 minute rule demands that you dedicate 5 minutes towards working on your task. Once 5 minutes is up, it’s up.
Really. Honestly. After 5 minutes, STOP! Whether finished or not, STOP!!

Thereafter, dedicate 5 minutes here, 5 minutes more there and 5 minutes more later on or even tomorrow.
The beauty of this that you’re being consistent and chipping away at your goal. You’re taking little steps and progressing.

This concept is brewed in Psychology’s Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Being consistent at a thing and working on it slowly in increments eventually leads to a larger picture; a larger goal and ultimately, success.

These 2 rules might seem like little things and overly-simplified, but that’s the beauty of it; It’s DOABLE and you’re already making strides further than you were doing nothing and procrastinating in the first place.

Get Started and Be Consistent.
These are the lessons of the “2 Minute Rule” and the “5 Minute Rule”.

Evolve or Die.

Men Are Babies (When Sick + In Many Other Instances): An Article About Training With A Runny Nose

posted by coach Jay D

I’m Sick. I’ve been sick over the last few days. I’m a big sick baby.
And for those of you who I’ve trained one on one with, I’m sorry if you’re sick because of me. Rather than get made, please appreciate my dedication to you and your journey of movement.
If you’ve joined my lunch classes, all of you MWF’ers, probably didn’t catch how nasal I’ve been since the beginning of the week (MWF’ers being Monday-Wednesday-Friday’ers, btw); the same can be said for my kettlebell classes both at Fuel Fitness and R3 Evolution on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, respectively.

So how do I cope? Do I still train?

Let’s look at the common cold or flu situation…
Your goal is to get rest and get back to optimal health. As discussed before, you don’t have to be healthy to be fit. Athletes are the prime example of this…many athletes put their personal health on the back burner in order to train. A lot of you training for personal pleasure, Movement Pursuits and Strength Seeking, are no exception to the rule, either. Fact is, a lot of you need Movement on a daily basis, sick or not.

But let’s not downplay Health. Let’s not downplay rest. Let’s not downplay proper nutrition, too.

To get healthy from illness, You need to:
Make sure you schedule when you’re gonna put your mobile device down, walk away from the desktop or laptop and just ‘X’ out of Facebook and Twitter. You people on Instagram, this means, you, too. Stop shooting your snotty kleenex.
Log at least 6hrs and 8-10 for optimal rest. Your body needs this ‘sleep’ time to combat those pathogens and foreign invaders, so don’t be stingy with your pillow time.

I usually emphasize plants in my daily diet, but of course, there’s proteins and healthy fats both from animal and plant sources, just the same. You might not realize it, but your body is using a ton of energy to combat your cold or flu. Your body heat is up, therefore you ought to be eating just a few more calories to fuel this process, on top of staying super hydrated with water. I personally, drink a lot of tea, ginger, lemon and honey concoctions and combinations. Chilli peppers and spicy foods are also a nice secret weapon to increase your vitamin C, antioxidants and induce sweating and sinus-clearing/vasodilation. Give me a big bowl of Thai Tom Yum and I’m on my way to 100%. You should be, too. Just not too much juice, k? Reach for the real whole fruit, instead.

As for Training…
Yes, you need to rest, but not necessarily halt Movement and training, all together.
In order to get better and stay on top of your training while sick:

Famous Strength Coach Dan John said, “If it’s important, do it every day”. I believe it. You don’t need to be Squatting or Deadlifting or Snatching your 1 rep max PRs daily, but rather at least “groove” the motion, or as Dragondoor/Pavel heads would tell you – “Grease the Groove”; keep it moving; use it or lose it.
For instance, my current Strength Program is in its 3rd week of 6. It’s very basic and involves: A Back Squat, A Sumo Deadlift, A Bench Press, An Overhead/Military Press and Weighted Pullup all for near max loading for no more than 5 reps/each. Would I then pick up in all my lifts right where I left off on Monday afternoon (considering I train MWFs)?. Hell no, today, at what I hope is the climax of this cold at its worst, I loaded 60% of my max. I was super conservative with my loading and let myself simply “Groove” the motion. Take the time to de-load a bit when sick and groove the motion. There will be future battles, but you can’t be at optimal lifting mode if your health isn’t all there. Be patient, grasshopper.

All the things that you dedicate a mere obligatory 5 minutes towards before you train, should be granted more time. We all know this. Use your sick day as an opportunity to dedicate a bit more time to foam rolling/myofascial release/massage, fancy mobility moves and static/dynamic stretching. Think of this time as training to get back into training once you’re back at 100%. Think of this as accessory and support work. Prehab and Rehab!

You know how you fail to time your rest periods between sets? you know how you go for a walk, grab a drink of water, try and pick up that girl/guy in the gym before attempting your 2nd set a good 10 minutes later?…Well, now’s the time where it’s actually justified. Rather than not train, all together, turn it back a dial on your intensity. Take a longer rest, do your set, then approach again.

I’ve learned, especially over the last two nights, that Moving is pretty damn therapeutic. Moving during illness, whether on my own, doing my own program or coaching a class makes me feel pretty damn good and better.
Now I might not have the exact science to back this up, but here’s my anecdote. Movement is Health. Movement is Strength.

Evolve or Die.

The “Knees Out” Cue (A Crossfit Debate)

posted by coach Jay D

Friend and Athlete Shawn B. put me up on this debate from the Crossfit Channel.
I know I know…and yes, you know…you know…don’t get me started on Crossfit.


Once checked out, however, I realized that two JD Approved + respectable people in the training world – Kelly Starrett of Mobility WOD and “Becoming A Supple Leopard“, along with Lon Kilgore, Co-Author of “Starting Strength“, were on the panel discussing the PRO side of “Knees Out” as a cue for squatting.

It’s a great 30 minute piece for coaches/trainers and especially the layman/laywoman trying to understand all of this madness.

What’s my take, you ask?
I, myself, teach and coach the Squat; bodyweight or Skeleton-loaded (with a bar/sandbag), using cues such as: “knees out” and “Spread the Floor” and “fall between your knees” and “A-B-Duct (Abduct)” cues where necessary.

All panelists bring great points to the table. But ultimately, I feel that “Knees Out” is a great cue for most of the population that tends to lose hip stability and buckle their knees inward during the bottom position of the squat. The problem, obviously with any cue when used as a guideline or gospel in a book, is that there is no coach there with you.

There’s nobody to correct or give you the thumbs up.
Therefore, cues and guidelines are often left open for interpretation by the reader. I mean look at the Bible – people have been debating its messaging and even dying over it since the beginning of time.
What’s right? What’s wrong?

Where does this leave the elite level athlete?
Where does this leave the beginner?

2 very different starting and end points, unfortunately, and that’s the problem with relying on a book or video to teach you.

Will I use, “Knees Out” when necessary and coaching my athletes. YES.
Will it be misinterpreted if read in a book, watched on YouTube, read in a blog post. CERTAINLY.

Should anyone ever rely on a book to teach them Movement?
Sure, but not entirely.
And, Sure, but only after double-checking with a trained eye and coach.
‘Matter of fact, you can contact me and I’ll be free to assess your squat position – FREE OF CHARGE.

I just want you to…
Evolve or Die.

Have a Strong Day.

JD Movement Lab: Coach Wall + Coach Stick

posted by coach Jay D

You don’t need me.
I mean you do need me sometimes, but really, you don’t need me all the time.

I hate needy people.
They’re just not funl.

I like self-sufficiency. I really admire and respect it, actually.

I’d like to UN-complicate training as much as I can and whenever possible.
Sure, there are a lot of Gurus of Movement out there who’d like to overcomplicate certain movements, but I beg to differ in a lot of respects. If we over-think and over-complicate an exercise, ESPECIALLY as trainers, we’re not only missing out on some really important execution and performance, we’re flooding our clients’ minds and our own with too much information.

Ever hear me say, “Paralysis through Analysis”?!
That’s the end result of over-complication + too many details and corrective cues.
You can’t learn that way. Nobody can.

As Coaches, let’s distill the info, and get the good word of Strength out there.
Leave the joint angles, anatomy and force production to ourselves, not our clients.

*Cue Coach Wall and Coach Stick***

2 Movements related, but not really, yet often mixed up, and ultimately performed terribly, are the Squat and the Deadlift.

Yes, both look similar but really aren’t all that similar at all; One’s a Push, the other is a Pull.
Yes, both are “lower body” exercises using both Hip and Knee Joints, but are again, completely different, mechanically.

In my opinion, the common denominator that the two Movements/Lifts share not only with each other, but in every damn movement you do during training, is your “core (spine) stability”, (abdominal) “tightness”/”tension” maintained.

I’ve commissioned the help of 2 coaches that we both know to help us learn our “set up” and feel. Yes, feelings are involved and should be involved during training.


Coach Wall’s Wall Squat
In order to learn how to ‘sit back’, posture up and improve and strengthen our T-Spine/Middle Back when Squatting, while not letting our knees track past our toes and our heels to lift, we have to get up close and personal to a wall. Coach Wall.

(1) Start by stepping 1/2ft away from a straight, flat wall. Curved walls are terrible for this drill.
(2) With toes slightly turned out, assume a wall-facing, head-on stance just wider than your hips
(3) Hands hanging between knee caps, palms facing forward
(4) Squat. Make sure you don’t turn or tilt your beautiful face away from the wall as you keep the weight on your heels.
(5) Stand to Start and Repeat.

You’ll notice that the middle back had to engage;
the butt had to move back;
the knees had no place to move forward and you probably felt your squat in a few more places beyond just your Quads!
Yes, you’re entire body was involved in the fantastic ordeal.

Start there with your Squat and we’ll talk Barbell, Pistol/Single Leg Versions and Variations in the future.
Beginner or Seasoned Vet, you can and should always, always always go back and re-visit Coach Wall and The Wall Squat. You can always refine.

Coach Stick and the Hip Hinge (Deadlift)
The Deadlift is a different animal. Yes, related to the Squat; that is, in the “lower body” and “Hip-Knee” Family, but don’t go calling them the same thing, nor perform them the same way.
You wouldn’t call a Lion a Tiger, nor group a domesticated kitten with the heading would you?

The Hinge is a bit different, because, regardless of our training background, history, strength and mobility, we’re forcing our body to maintain and work through a body position that feels, weak, unnatural and foreign.

Ever lift something off of the ground with a rounded back, simply because rounding a back over felt more energy-econmical than bending at the knees over the object? Ever just throw out all forms of being “ergonomically correct” out the window?
Were all the biomechanics, kinesiology, occupational therapy and chiropractic textbooks wrong?!!

No way.

For years we’ve probably lifted smaller, lighter, objects off of the ground with little to no regard in how tight our core maintained its position.
Books, small children, golf balls, pennies, nickels, dimes – they really never demanded us to be more vigilant. It’s only when we’re trying to be the Strongest versions of ourselves and hammer through our Max Efforts, that this whole “core” and “tightness” thing really makes a whole lot of sense.

This skill however takes time. And what better place to dedicate this time, other than in your fundamentals.
That, my friends, is where your Hip Hinge comes into play.

Here’s how to hinge and maintain that stability:
(1) Obtain, PVC Pipe, broomstick (loot and rob, if necessary)
(2) Hold bar in contact of 3 points: butt, mid-back and skull
(3) DO NOT tilt the skull at any point
(4) Assume Stance Hip-Width; toes-slightly outward pointed with knees soft and slight-bent
(5) Maintain FULL-TIME contact between bar + 3 points while hinging + sitting your butt back
(6) Slowly ascend back up to starting position and repeat

There you have it. The 2 Big Lifts made simple; but simple is not “easy”.
Keep practicing both the Wall Squat and Bar-Hinge mentioned above as part of your warm up before lifting.
Remember, regardless of training history and strength, you can always go back to the basics and refine.

Ego aside, and Refine.

It’s Your Craft.
Evolve or Die.

The Importance of a Warm Up

posted by coach Jay D

The title of this entry might sound almost too elementary, but considering how cold it is this winter, here in Canada and much of North America, I felt it’d be fitting to explain the actual “Importance of a Warm Up” in the context of training…just in case you forgot.

The Warm Up part of your training is, in my opinion, equally, if not MORE important than the actual training, itself.

A Warm Up is and should be performed in order to…well….WARM UP.
But there’s a bit more to it than simply going through a bunch of obligatory movements before training.

As stated above, a warm up, especially if you’re coming in to train from the workplace at lunch, after work or to start your day (minutes out of bed), is to elevate your body’s temperature.

To train or compete cold, places your body and its individual organ systems in a really bad place. Muscles aren’t as pliable as they should be; pains and soreness haven’t been managed through foam rolling release and mobility; the skin and bones, alike, simply aren’t as effective in their operations and functions as they could be when brittle or cold; the heart and nervous system hasn’t gradually built up their contraction rates and firing capacities.

Warm Ups set you up to throw down. No matter what bullshit you’ve been dealt with prior to your training session/competition – whether that be a bad day, bills, traffic, personal matters, relationships or zombie outbreaks, you can’t and shouldn’t simply jump into your lifting or sport. You’re not mentally there; you’re somewhere else.

Moving, and literally grooving into your activity gradually, will set you into the right frame of mind, whether Rage Against The Machine is playing over the background speakers or not. Moving kickstarts and reinforces your mind to be ready; “Readiness”.

Both of these reasons are the byproducts of the Temperature and Mental Elevations briefly mentioned above.
If you want to hit your PR (Personal Record) on a lift or Score the best you can in your sport, then you better be in the best optimal state that you could be via setting the tone, both mentally and physically.

Competition aside, What about Health?
Don’t wanna break your back on a lift, dislocate a few important joints, have a seizure, asthma or heart attack?
Move slowly and gradually build up your tempo.

At the end of the day, as a Strength Coach, for myself and my athletes, I ultimately use the Warm Up to “Activate”; to elevate you and have you ‘here’ in the moment; in a given point and time.
Yes, it prevents injuries, yes, I need you to perform better than last, but really, I need you to leave all of your troubles behind and be INTO the training – mind and body right now. Here.

You do that, and you WILL perform at your best in the gym and outside in the real world.

It’s a pretty heavy concept that I’ll challenge all of you to explore in your own training for decades to come and I’ll be reflecting on the Warm Up more and more in future posts.

In the meantime, here are a few Movement Snacks/Movement Meditations/Movement Expressions/Warm Ups that I think you should go to as your “Go-To”.

Evolve or Die.

JD BOOKS: “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and The Brain”

posted by coach Jay D

What does a Spark, the brain and Hindu Squats all have in common?…
John J. Ratey. Great M.D., and author of “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain“.

Back in 2012, I personally had a goal of reading 2 books per month. That’s 24 books in a year, that I completed.
Between the training, studying (for my NSCA Strength and Conditioning Coach exam) and planning, plus meetings, and assessments, I MADE time to read.
You can, too.
But that’s not to say that I remember each and everything within the pages of those 24 books.

“Spark”, is one of the books that I’m now taking the time to re-visit and thoroughly read once again.
John investigates and illustrates how exercise in various forms, helps the brain grow and evolve.
It goes way beyond a mere mind and body concept. Exercise actually improves cognition, and socialization to name a few benefits – beyond simply “feeling good”, mentally (although not an aspect to be downplayed at all).

It’s a great book that I encourage all of you to read, whether you have a background in Kinesiology, Medicine, Psychology and Fitness OR not.
The language is easily understandable, and all of the scientific jargon that you’d expect from such a book is minimal, at most.

Anyone can and should read it. Forget that; everyone MUST read it.

Here’s a video of John, himself at a TED talk:

Evolve or Die.

“Warm Marble” The Lethal Physique of Bruce Lee

posted by coach Jay D

In Memory of Bruce Lee’s Birthday Today, I’d like to share a great article by John Little with an Intro by Mike Mentzer, entitled, “Warm Marble”.

Bruce was always concerned with efficiency and effectiveness in the martial arts, strength training and movement, in general. Aside from being well-read into his books regarding philosophy, martial arts and nutrition, Bruce read tons into Kinesiology/Physical Education and Physiology.
The man believed in simplicity. He Simplified. But remember…Simple is not Easy.
He Refined.

Here’s a small slice of Bruce’s training that would be a great template for all Strength Seekers involved in the martial arts, Strength Sports and Bodybuilding and general fitness.

“Warm Marble: The Lethal Physique of Bruce Lee” by John Little; Intro by Mike Mentzer

“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”
- Bruce Lee

Walking: The Lost Movement

posted by coach Jay D

On any given day, you can probably catch me walking or hiking, between the hours of 5-630a. Mainly, it’s to start my day off with Movement; to energize; to awaken and really to clear my head and plan.

That particular hour, when the streets are silent, the sun is still down and my mobile, email and social media aren’t shouting my name, I find my own personal space to plan and organize my thoughts, training objectives and entire day, really.

But what about walking as actual “training”; exercise and physical activity?

Sure most of the crowd is either running or marathoning , but then there’s the other school of “cardio” and “conditioning” that entails daily Intervals or work capacity.

However, the misconception and haphazard thought is that if it isn’t nearly making you puke, it’s really not worth doing.

I love and stand behind Interval work a lot, especially for fat loss and body re-composition goals, but whatever your goals – always ask yourself the ‘why’ behind doing your Hill Sprints, Tabata Barbell Thrusters or Burpees. It’s probably because it’s more effiicient for fat loss, it taxes your anerobic energy system and trains and primes your lactate capacities. These are GREAT THINGS TO ACHIEVE and carryover onto the field or real life! Nonetheless, all fancy physiology and textbook jargon aside, this high intensity stuff is really your greatest bang for your buck and actually spares muscle tissue (True Story, Bro).

On the other hand, if you do all of this high intensity stuff merely because you like pushing yourself to sickness or near/actual unconsciousness as your goal, then you’re something else.

Walking, on the other hand, is slow.
It’s actually slower than jogging or running.
It’s actually REALLY slow. A lot slower.
Mall Walkers walk…Seniors…they walk…babies, if beyond crawling…yes, they walk, too!

But does this movement have any value for us Strength Seekers?

Of course it does! It complements all of the high intensity training and rigors that we put our body through on a near daily basis. Don’t forget, friends, these “high intensity” Tabatas, Hill Sprints, Band Runs and WODs beat the crap out of our nervous system. Tons of damaging and stressful, chemicals/hormones are released during these activities, too – some with short term effects, some with long term effects that don’t show up until decades later (Again, True Story, Bro).

Should we stop, then?

We Manage; we complement.
We find the Ying to our Yang. We Balance.

I, therefore suggest to do like I do…walk.
Go slow. Go early. 5am, even, like me.

I strongly encourage Walking…a lot more actually, than its cousins — The Jog or The Run or the Marathon as your Fitness Pursuit. It’ll be the perfect Movement to complement your High Intensity Work; it’s low intensity. REAL low intensity. No fooling.

For further reading on walking, visit:
- “Get Ripped. Get Walking.
by Tim Henriques

- “Why We Don’t Walk Anymore (Plus a Primal Health Challenge)
by Mark Sisson

Now Get outside….Move Fast…Move Slow…Run or Walk…Lift or Crawl. Whatever you do, just Move.
Evolve or Die.