Another Linear Progression? Yay!!!

Lightweight baby! No seriously, it’s insultingly light… but right.

Lightweight baby! No seriously, it’s insultingly light… but right.

There’s alway a time to revisit the basics, and for your buddy GB, that time is now.

After 4 years of creating MissionFit, and 2 years as its leader, I found myself weaker and with less mass than when I started. In the beginning I had the luxury of being head coach, which left lots of space for training, and downtime to recover. As MissionFit grew, and my responsibilities began to build, my journey of strength, acquisition of muscle mass, and learning new skills fell to the wayside.

In hindsight , this taught me a lesson that I wasn’t capable of learning previously. Apparently when you pour your life’s energy into others, you don’t always leave enough energy for yourself.

Who knew? haha

(that’s my off the books apology to all the parents, teachers, and leaders I’ve trained. I tried to understand, but the lesson only came when I felt the struggle.)

So now, 4 years later and 18 pounds lighter, it’s time to return to the basics. I’m 39 years old, and relatively injury free compared to my peers who do as much as I do. An intelligent program is key to reaching my goals of strength, size, and ability, while honoring my goals of longevity. An adapted Novice Linear Progression is the way to achieve that.

The details are as follows…

  • 3 days a week Starting Strength linear progression for the Squat, Deadlift, & Power Clean. I’ll have an A workout and a B workout.

  • Bench and Barbell Press will be replaced with weighted Ring Dips and Handstand Push-ups. My yet to be unsolved Thoracic Outlet Syndrome made that substitution call for me. Whenever I push heavy my hands and fingers go numb.

  • Some “mover” type stuff will be added as a finisher, as well as some basic hypertrophy work, but not at the expense of the big compound lifts.

  • Daily Restorative Movement Practice.

Purists might be quick to point out that what I’m doing isn’t a true linear progression because I am not doing the exact Rippetoe programming, but my 10 years of coaching others, multiple readings of Starting Strength, attendance of the seminar, and detailed self analysis of training stimulus and the results gained, tell me that this is the direction to go for me.

It’s exciting to return back to the trusty progression that started my barbell journey. One might be phased by a perceived regression, but I think that even a month or two of missed training warrants an intelligent ramp-up.

Remember… Your Ego is not Your Amigo!

<3 GB

Inclusivity: we are in thIs together

As I dive deeper into making lifestyle programs, I’m discovering how challenging this clarity of thought has to be. It really forces you to cut out the fluff. 

The one thing I won’t ever cut out is my love, openness, attempted understanding, and listening to the humans that I meet along the way. 

I aim to open doors of health and empowerment with you, not have you conform to someone else’s ideals. I don’t want you to fit in my box, I want to share this world with you. 

A dear friend noted that in the years in the gym with them, they had never heard me say anything about the way someone looks, and now I’ve got a program called #flatgutsfatbutts. 

I can see how that seems off-brand, and I assure you, the name was created in a very tongue in cheek tone. It’s a joke, and it came after the result of all the participants having stronger and slightly larger glutes, and commonly an unexpected reduction in waist size. 

I love you. You’re worth it. I’m listening. All are welcome on this journey. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜🖤

2019 Update from Maui!

It’s past time for me to update. For the past 4 years I have been playing a major role in the sustainability and success of MissionFit, whilst simultaneously trying to stay afloat personally. Now it’s me time! I am currently living out the process of building a longtime personal dream… a career path not dependent on location.

For the past 3 months I have been upping my online content, starting with a 30 day posting challenge, issued by Craig Ballantyne, who I have been following since the Turbulence Training days. I am fully embracing my time here in Maui, being the wild creature in the sun that I’ve always dreamed of being. (whilst enjoying the creature comforts of Costco and Target being so close haha)

Stay tuned for….

  • the release of Flat Guts Fat Butts, (not a live link as of 1/19) my most successful body composition program to date. It was 30 days, and I’m adding value and sustainability by making it 90 days! Video starts next week.

  • a site dedicated to the sustainable fitness of the busy modern human! There will be intelligent daily programming for strength, endurance, mobility, and relaxation. This is in development now, and will launch well after FGFB has stretched its legs on the internet.

  • the World Peace Project. Yeah, I’m not playing small anymore. Creating a movement is something I am terrified to start, but it’s something I can’t shake. More to come!

Thank you for being with me on this journey. I have overwhelming currents of gratitude and optimism pulsing inside me as I take on this hard, yet fulfilling work.

<3 GB

Our take on "The Iron" by Henry Rollins

This article surfaces frequently in my life, because of my choice to be a Mr Pepperman type character in the lives of the Baltimore City youth that I mentor. I send it to mentees, peers, and clients. The essay is sent in the hopes that the reader will understand the hard, but valuable, lessons “The Iron” is going to teach them over time. Mr Henry Rollins has given the world a gift with this piece of writing.

Kristian, age 24, and I had a great conversation about what we got out of the essay, and I was pleasantly surprised that he took away different point. Read below first, then watch the video. Did you take away similar lessons or different ones?

“I believe that the definition of definition is reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself.


When I was young I had no sense of myself. All I was, was a product of all the fear and humiliation I suffered. Fear of my parents. The humiliation of teachers calling me “garbage can” and telling me I’d be mowing lawns for a living. And the very real terror of my fellow students. I was threatened and beaten up for the color of my skin and my size. I was skinny and clumsy, and when others would tease me I didn’t run home crying, wondering why.

I knew all too well. I was there to be antagonized. In sports I was laughed at. A spaz. I was pretty good at boxing but only because the rage that filled my every waking moment made me wild and unpredictable. I fought with some strange fury. The other boys thought I was crazy.

I hated myself all the time.

As stupid at it seems now, I wanted to talk like them, dress like them, carry myself with the ease of knowing that I wasn’t going to get pounded in the hallway between classes. Years passed and I learned to keep it all inside. I only talked to a few boys in my grade. Other losers. Some of them are to this day the greatest people I have ever known. Hang out with a guy who has had his head flushed down a toilet a few times, treat him with respect, and you’ll find a faithful friend forever. But even with friends, school sucked. Teachers gave me hard time.

I didn’t think much of them either.

Then came Mr. Pepperman, my advisor. He was a powerfully built Vietnam veteran, and he was scary. No one ever talked out of turn in his class. Once one kid did and Mr. P. lifted him off the ground and pinned him to the black board. Mr. P. could see that I was in bad shape, and one Friday in October he asked me if I had ever worked out with weights. I told him no.

He told me that I was going to take some
of the money that I had saved and buy a hundred pound set of weights at Sears. As I left his office, I started to think of things I would say to him on Monday when he asked about the weights that I was not going to buy. Still, it made me feel special. My father never really got that close to caring. On Saturday I bought the weights, but I couldn’t even drag them to my mom’s car. An attendant laughed at me as he put them on a dolly.

Monday came and I was called into Mr. P.’s office after school. He said that he was going to show me how to work out. He was going to put me on a program and start hitting me in the solar plexus in the hallway when I wasn’t looking. When I could take the punch we would know that we were getting somewhere. At no time
was I to look at myself in the mirror or tell anyone at school what I was doing. In the gym he showed me ten basic exercises. I paid more attention than I ever did in any of my classes. I didn’t want to blow it. I went home that night and started right in.

Weeks passed, and every once in a while Mr. P. would give me a shot and drop me in the hallway, sending my books flying. The other students didn’t know what to think. More weeks passed, and I was steadily adding new weights to the bar. I could sense the power inside my body growing. I could feel it.

Right before Christmas break I was walking to class, and from out of nowhere Mr. Pepperman appeared and gave me a shot in the chest. I laughed and kept going. He said I could look at myself now. I got home and ran to the bathroom and pulled off my shirt. I saw a body, not just the shell that housed my stomach and my heart. My biceps bulged. My chest had definition. I felt strong. It was the first time I can remember having a sense of myself. I had done something and no one could ever take it away.

You couldn’t say s–t to me.

It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was wrong. When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the Iron talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to resemble.

That which you work against will always work against you.

It wasn’t until my late twenties that I learned that by working out I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can’t be as bad as that workout.

I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me: pain is not my enemy; it is my call to greatness. But when dealing with the Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn’t ready for and spent a few months not picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not prepared to and the Iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control.

I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect. I think a lot of inwardly and outwardly directed contempt passes itself off as self-respect: the idea of raising yourself by stepping on someone’s shoulders instead of doing it yourself. When I see guys working out for cosmetic reasons, I see vanity exposing them in the worst way, as cartoon characters, billboards for imbalance and insecurity. Strength reveals itself through character. It is the difference between bouncers who get off strong-arming people and Mr. Pepperman.

Muscle mass does not always equal strength. Strength is kindness and sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both physical and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind. And the heart.

Yukio Mishima said that he could not entertain the idea of romance if he was not strong. Romance is such a strong and overwhelming passion, a weakened body cannot sustain it for long. I have some of my most romantic thoughts when I am with the Iron. Once I was in love with a woman. I thought about her the most when the pain from a workout was racing through my body.

Everything in me wanted her. So much so that sex was only a fraction of my total desire. It was the single most intense love I have ever felt, but she lived far away and I didn’t see her very often. Working out was a healthy way of dealing with the loneliness. To this day, when I work out I usually listen to ballads.

I prefer to work out alone.

It enables me to concentrate on the lessons that the Iron has for me. Learning about what you’re made of is always time well spent, and I have found no better teacher. The Iron had taught me
how to live. Life is capable of driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes down these days, it’s some kind of miracle if you’re not insane. People have become separated from their bodies. They are no longer whole.

I see them move from their offices to their cars and on to their suburban homes. They stress out constantly, they lose sleep, they eat badly. And they behave badly. Their egos run wild; they become motivated by that which will eventually give them a massive stroke. They need the Iron Mind.

Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and the Iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the Iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind.

The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it’s impossible to turn back.

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.”

This article originally appeared in Details Magazine

Strength is never a weakness: BJJ

Truer words have never been spoken.   

Truer words have never been spoken.


“You’ve got great hip awareness, and you’re really strong!”

These are the consoling words I generally hear as I get politely and respectfully submitted 20 years and 3 weeks into my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training. As the only 20 year white belt I know, I take this comment, and I process it.

The 20 years part is only partially true. I found BJJ in 1997 when my friends dad, who ran a martial arts school that mainly trained Jeet Kune Do. UFC was still on VHS tapes in these days. Had I only stayed with it! Alas, I didn’t, and being a touring musician was more of a priority at the time.

3 years ago, I had another exposure when I tried bringing BJJ to my nonprofit gym (strength training for Baltimore city youth ages 11-24). It ran a month or two, and I learned as much as I could while we were piloting the program. I was sad to see it go, but it didn’t get the traction with our youth that we wanted it to.

3 weeks ago I joined a BJJ school called Zenyo Jiu Jitsu. It has been nothing but fun, and a really healthy training environment. I get tapped often, and it is always with control and respect. After each roll, the higher belts will impart a piece of knowledge that will help me avoid with they just tapped me with. That’s when they mention that my strength and hip awareness made me harder to deal with.

At first, I consider the strength bit a compliment, after all, I do teach humans how to be stronger for a living. Then I realize that my use of strength means I’m likely not being efficient. Congrats GB, you’ve been trying to get strong for the past 10 years, and now that you’re there you’re just another guy trying to use muscle where technique would be more optimal. When I was weak I had to do it right haha

Takeaway: Work smarter, not harder. Conversely, strength is never a weakness, you just have to know how, when, and where to apply it.

The hip awareness I can partially credit to my two tiny training phases in BJJ, and the lions share is my training for movement quality in my strength training. Deadlifts, Animal Flows, squats, and posterior pelvic tilt planks can’t be done well without hip awareness, mobility, and strength.

Takeaway: Having more bodily awareness translates into athletic endeavors. Training with the intention of quality in compound movements and controlled locomotions has worked for me.

Cutting away distractions

One step closer to being a monk 😆

GB Shaved head.jpg

For me, cutting off my hair is a way of cutting away distractions 🤔I'm the type of guy that needs to cut down on distractions, and I have been as long as I can remember.

For any of you that knew me as a younger kid, you know Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder was an understated description. Distractions were everything, and everywhere. Today, I still have just as much, if not more scattered energy, but now I have the tools to harness and steer it. 

My tools for the job?

They are: my “why”, mindfulness, physical exertion, and the realization that I’m going to die. 

My “why” dictates what I am going to do on this earth. 
Mindfulness helps me declutter the overwhelming amount of thoughts and ideas of what I could be doing. It helps me see what is distraction and what is meaningful. 
Physical exertion brings me a mental/emotional calmness that can’t be replicated with any other modality. 
Knowing that I’m going to die, and that I don’t know when, creates the urgency. 

Action items: Think about why you do the things you do daily. Do they make sense? If after reflection, you notice that some of the things you do daily are counter to what you truly want most in life, then it’s time to make a change. 

If you want to start this process, email me at

"Just because something is traditional is no reason to do it, of course"

*That quote comes courtesy of Lemony Snicket

Appeal to Tradition.jpg

You know who doesn’t fall to the Appeal to Tradition otherwise known as argumentum ad antiquitatem?  Young humans.

You very rarely hear them saying “But that’s the way it’s always been done”.

In just the way that we all should do more often, they are easily capable of questioning why something is the way it is, and even more open to suggesting we change it. There’s no attachment because everything is new to them.

What thoughts or beliefs are you clinging to that might be harmful to you, your community, our world?

Best Possible Self exercise

What do you think of when you think of writing? 

I used to think of my bad grammar skills and poor punctuation. I immediately get images of being forced to sit at a desk to write about subjects I don't care about. It is pretty hard to write about things you can't connect with or aren't engaged by. 

What if we wrote about something fun and exciting on a subject you are a world renowned expert on? What if there were no judgements on perfect punctuation or typos? That would be way cooler, right?!

Good news... you can start today! More good news... when you're done, you will most likely be more of an expert on a specific subject than you were when you started. Last good news... that subject is YOU and your future!

Ready to try? There is no barrier to starting this exercise as long as you have 10 minutes, pen & paper or laptop/tablet, and an open mind. (I actually think you could start this exercise with a pretty closed mind, and be pleasantly surprised with how much more open it was by the end)

The Best Possible Self exercise is simply jotting down what your imaginary future looks like if everything goes right. It can be sentences or shorthand. Punctuation doesn't matter. Length doesn't matter. Maybe it is detailed, maybe it's brief. It doesn't need to make sense to anyone except for you. Your 10 minute timer is set, right?

3,2,1, GO!

Welcome back. How was your experience? When you read over the list, are you filled with excitement and optimism? Are you surprised with what your future self values? If so, what are the reasons for valuing those things? Are you living a life today that will get you to your optimal future self? 

This can be done once a week or month with surprising results. After all, how are you going to know yourself if you don't think about yourself. How are you going to get what you want out of life if you never stop to think about what you want out of life?

Bonus: At the end of this exercise, think of 3 pieces of advice that your future self would give you. Then take that advice! Your future self is one smart cookie ;) 

GB, why do you use the term "Humans" so often?

Good Question! I use the descriptive term Humans for everyone because thats how I try to see everyone. No matter what your race, gender identity, religion/non-religion, birthplace, skin color, sexual orientation, height, weight, hair style, nationality, I will do my best to be open and kind to you. 

It's my small way of being the change that I want to see in the world. I believe that these identities, while useful for self identity and creating a tribe, can also be the focus of differentiating ourselves from one another to a level of exclusion and misunderstanding of one another. 

We are all in this world together. This world is getting smaller every day because of the exponential growth curve of technology of transport and communication. Focusing on our differences does nothing to move us ahead as a species. 

From one human to another, I hope you're enjoying this flight on a rock hurtling through outer space, and I encourage you to see anyone in your daily life as a fellow human, before anything else.

<3 GB

Beats by GB (metronome beats, that is)

A Metronome App on my iPhone. Gamechanger.


Standards. Do you have them?

With so many qualitative and quantitative metrics available to modern coaches, we have to know which ones to use, with which clients, at the right times. Speaking of time, lets talk about perfect time.


This is a gamechanger for quality because of the control and grace aspect. It also helps track quantity as well because we can accurately measure time under tension. As a tension teaching tool it can't be beat! A personal example of the effectiveness of the metronome is my muscle-up. Now I'm not one to brag (get ready to hear a brag), but I pull like a savage. My concentric is violent and explosive, but there is one little problem with that. We don't only pull up... we also have to lower down. I could pull on top of the rings with the greatest of ease, but I couldn't lower down without flailing or falling. That single sided strength was likely hindering my progress getting reps, and it was most certainly a recipe for a shoulder/elbow injury down the road.

I added in the qualitative measurement of 3 second eccentrics and miraculously my reps record went from 3 sloppy reps to 5 perfect slow reps.

Now for an example we an all imagine. Have you seen (or been) that squatter that slams to the bottom of the squat only to wriggle/shift/worm/seizure their way up? That person needs some metronome in their life! Making a regression in weight and starting with 5 second eccentric squats until the bar/body path was consistent would do wonders for their performance and longevity. 

  • Does this take concentration? Yup.
  • Does this take discipline? Yup.
  • Does it challenge your ego doing down in weight or reps? Mos def. 
  • Is your short term and long term health and performance goals worth the temporary step back?Hell yup!!!

I hope you try these for a phase of your training, and see what the beat can do for you. 

<3 GB

*to balance out the aforementioned brag, its worth noting that I press like a toddler.

**Pro-tip for powerlifters: this technique will straighten out your bar path in the squat and bench in no time. You'll feel how much harder it is to have an inefficient bar path. 

You and your gym need this cheap fix! (Only if you're looking to make progress)

I have an "Intentional Gym Community Member", hereinafter referred to as IGCM, who trains with me once a week, and trains by themselves twice a week. We train compound lifts like squats and deadlifts, and we train gymnastic strength for upper body. Occasionally, this athlete comes to me and says...

IGCM: I don't feel like I'm getting stronger.

Me: How long do you rest between your work sets?

IGCM then says "I dunno" or "like, maybe a minute". Thats when IGCM gets a present. 

The Gamechanger  

The Gamechanger  

Ye olde egge timer... That's it. An egg timer is what its gonna take to get ICGM, and possibly you, stronger and better at the skills they are trying to learn. The vein on my forehead is already starting to bulge out a little, only because encouraging rest (read: forcing rest) is one of those things that I have suggested until I'm purple in the face, only to have my clients come back like "jeez, coach GB, you were right". Resting between sets is not lazy, it's smart. It is how high level athletes train, and if you'd like to get awesome results it would be wise to align your training methodology with someone that is paid to get results. 

As with all things, there are a few exceptions, like EMOM's or limiting rest in attempt to increase work capacity, but for most of us, including me, just need to rest. One of the things I liked most about the Ido Portal Online Coaching was that my rest periods were all written out, leaving very little to question. 

My findings are that timer works better than the large timer on the wall or a cell phone. I believe it's because the egg timer won't distract you like your snapchat riddled cellie, and it's better than the wall timer because it beeps at you and can't be ignored. At least not with my Intentional Community Members around, who will ruthlessly hound you if you leave your timer going off unattended. 

Are you looking for skills or strength but having a hard time finding them?

Egg timer. Gamechanger!!!

 <3 GB

Coaches Corner: Optimal Meet Preparation

Coach Shawn and GB discuss ways to have an optimal meet. No matter what the result, you want to be able to say that you did all you could to be ready. 

Our main points are as follows...


1: Visualize everything.  Imagine yourself smoking your opener, and imagine yourself missing your opener.  Think about the people that will be staring at you (judges and audience).  You won't miss an opener if you've taken your opener 50 times because you imagined every variable dozens of times.

2: Sport specificity is not an excuse to avoid weaknesses.  If baseball players only every rotated in the direction of their bat swing/throwing arm, they would have spinal injuries and hip injuries from imbalanced core development.  If you make the case that this concept doesn't carry over to weightlifting and powerlifting, I am convinced you are lying to yourself and use sport specificity as a convenient argument to hide your pride.

3: There is a difference between "wrong" positions and bad positions.  It may be wrong to lean forward excessively in a squat, but that does not mean that a hinge is a bad position.  Athletes must train movement in every direction under a variety of loads and using different tools to truly eliminate weaknesses.  This training approach builds a more versatile athlete capable of recovering from imperfect movement.  Additionally, training load tolerance in different positions will reduce the likelihood of injury should someone find themselves in a "wrong" position.


1 - Mimic competition in practice. Team GB and Team MissionFit have always taken a half of a training session to hit perfect singles to a competition standard, with a competition set-up, with  people watching for extra pressure. No music, just focus. 

2 - Do positional work. This has benefitted me personally in my gymnastic strength training, and it is being done by some very forward thinking weightlifting/powerlifting coaches as well. Be rock solid and intentional in every inch of that lift and how you position your body. 

3 - Control your variables. This means no new equipment before your meet. Belts, wraps, shoes, singlets, and tape should all be tried and true. If you get something new, use it next meet!

4 - Know the rules! This one bit me in the butt once, and only once. Know exactly what is expected beforehand. A good meet organizer will provide you with these details, but don't be afraid to ask if they don't.

Letter to a Cynical Friend: The Strength of Optimism

Are humans the most adaptable and capable hardware ever created? We have some built in operating system glitches, and those can all be rewritten with a little bit of time and work. Am I so off on this one? Why wouldn’t someone have undying optimism in the human race? 

Historically, people have gotten things wrong with how to deal with other people. I don’t believe this needs to be an endless cycle. Go ahead, think “But that’s how things have always been.” Then also realize that the appeal to tradition or argumentum ad antiquitatem, can’t be a valid answer.

It may seem like it could take forever to get to the point of collective enlightenment, but please consider that we are closer to exponential growth in technology and shared consciousness than we have ever been before. Imagine the world that your great great grandparents lived in. The world now is unrecognizable to someone 2-3 generations away.

Remember that every almost every advance in humanity comes from optimism. Innovation generates from a person thinking something can happen even when most other people think it can’t. Yes, that was an appeal to tradition, but I think you will find it is one that will get you much further in life. 


Note: the author is a flawed human being, who is suffering from a brutal case of the Socratic Paradox, “I know that I know nothing"

Happy Hollowing!

Do you, or a client, have a hard time understanding why hollow holds are so valuable? My experiences suggests that maybe, just maybe, you're doing them wrong. If they aren't challenging, it is because you are making them too easy! In the second half of this article I will talk about two ways to approach progression in the hollow hold, and for those impatient souls, I will get right to the point. 

Hollow Harder! Do you guys know about the RKC plank? The idea is that your average, run of the mill plank doesn't engage much, and that you get more bracing tension when surrounding muscle groups tighten up as well. Chip Conrad taught me to do a plank like someone could stand on me.... so I did!

Phew, my lady walks all over me!

Apply those same principles of tension to the hollow and now you're on a road to Tremble City and a foundation of "core" strength worth building other, more complicated movements off of.

Some people just get how to engage harder, or they can easily be cued with something like "bring your shoulders higher off the ground" or "pretend like I'm about to Godzilla stomp your tum-tum". Others will need the band. 

In the band set-up I have my client lie down on their back, bring then knees directly above their hips, then hold the band in a hammer grip above their chest. From there I tell them to crunch up and don't let their shoulders touch the ground or don't let me pull the band back. I slowly walk back with the band until I see some little abdominal twitches or they say I'm at the right place. It doesn't take much, so communicate well and go slowly at first. 

Make yourself, The Lever, shorter for beginners, and then extend your body out into a longer position to make it more challenging. Be able to own each position for a minimum of 30 seconds before progressing to the next. My 4 basic shapes for the Hollow are as follows.

  1. Laying on your back, tuck your knees up until they are directly above your hips. You will start with your straight arms to your sides, then reach up like you're trying to touch your toes. If you executed this properly your shoulders and upper back have now lifted off the ground, and your back is pressed firmly to the ground. 
  2. Get into position #1, lock it down tight, and slowly raise your arms to be directly beside your head. This is a good time to check your neck tension. It should be cranked forward or falling back, just neutral like it would be if you were standing. The most common fault I see is the shoulders dropping to the ground, so be mindful of your position as your arms are going back. but your abs staying tight enough to keep your shoulders raised. 
  3. This next version can also start from position #1. Start there, find tension with your low back pressed into the ground, then extend your legs. When your legs lock straight (think squeezed quads. Tension!) then you can lower them as long as you hold that hollow scooped out position. 
  4. In the last version we transition from position #3 into #4 by bringing your arms directly beside your head.  Your low back stays pressed to the ground. You are now creating the longest lever, so this is the progression to work to after practicing the other ones with quality!

Happy Hollowing!

4 quick tips that I wish someone had told me sooner about training.

Strength Coaches don't always need to get super cerebral, geekin' out on the deets. These tips are easily digestible and easy to implement immediately.

  • chalk on your hands helps you pick heavy things up off the floor. If you don't chalk up you aren't really trying to pick up heavy things. 
  • most of us can't do a long distance run on Sunday and expect to PR our squat on Monday.
  • you probably need to have eaten something at least 3-4 hours before a heavy or hard session. The fall out, or bonk, is real. 
  • you need to rest in between sets if you want to get stronger, or if you want to maintain a high level of control and quality of movement. 



The one person necessary for grassroots success is...


When you’re excited about the work we do, Strengthening Baltimore’s Youth at MissionFit, you’re bound to ask what you can do to help. I'll simply ask you to tell one person who will also be excited about what we do. At a minimum you will contribute to our word of mouth grassroots marketing, and if you tell the right person maybe they will positively influence some youth to walk through our doors with the intentions of self improvement. Either way it’s a win!

Same thing with Personal Training clients. Tell one person about your progress since you started training with me. If it feels too much like bragging about how many inches you’ve lost or how much your deadlift is, you can humbly give me all of the credit even though we both know that you did all the hard work 😉 

The genius of this technique is that people very rarely tell one person, they tell bunches of people! It works because they will have a very low commitment level to buy in, I mean, everyone can tell just one person. If I asked you to scream it off the mountaintops to everyone you know, that sounds more daunting, and a little bit like work. Telling one person is as easy as can be!


Action items

  • Tell one person about MissionFit if you think it’s valuable
  • Tell one person about your experience training with me if you think it’s valuable
  • *If you are a professional or Non-profit organization and you’re doing great work, try using this strategy for yourself. I think you’ll be pleased. 

Less Fat & More Muscle Starts Here

You are what you eat. Its true and trite as possible. There are times to nitpick the Nth degree of details and there are times for action. Assuming we all know the basics like... 

  • Less processed is better than highly processed
  • Eat your veggies
  • Don't eat until you're busting at the seams

.... then you might need to hear something honest like this excerpt from Dan John's Mass Made Simple...

"Honestly, seriously, you don’t know what to do about food? Here is an idea: Eat like an adult. Stop eating fast food, stop eating kid’s cereal, knock it off with all the sweets and comfort foods whenever your favorite show is not on when you want it on, ease up on the snacking and— don’t act like you don’t know this— eat vegetables and fruits more. Really, how difficult is this? Stop with the whining. Stop with the excuses. Act like an adult and stop eating like a television commercial. Grow up."

...and now, let us focus on how to easily get quality nutrients into your fridge and then into your belly!


Tip #1: Make food shopping fun! My two suggestions are to either go with someone who makes it more fun, or go somewhere that is fun. I have two grocery store buddies, and one farmers market buddy. They make a trip to the grocery store or market way more fun. The farmers market is my fun location because you get to stare into the eyes of the human that raised your butternut squash with care. That, my friends, is priceless. 


chicky chicky boom boom.jpg

Tip #2: Make meal prep easy. This may take a few small financial investments to get the most efficient tools for the job.  I'd start with a crock pot and set of pyrex storage bowls.  The crock pot is for easy cooking and easy clean-up. The pyrex are for easy storage and transport when you need them. We have just taken off some common mental handcuffs when eliminating the "I can't cook" excuse. It is much easier to continue a great habit if you make that habit easy, accessible, and excuse free. 

For accountabilities sake, I'll let you know two of my action items. The first was to get sweet potatoes to put in the crockpot overnight. I did that last night, and this morning I got to eat a delicious small sweet potato! The second is getting a carnitas recipe from my friend Gina. I will be sharing the recipe after I make it, which gives you about a week to buy (or dust off) you crockpot and pyrex!




Anyone can thrive from strength training!

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. - Proverb from a very frustrated horse owner 

I'm not suggesting that you are a horse, but.....

I'm not suggesting that you are a horse, but.....

I'd like to lead you to water. In other words, I'd like to explain the importance of doing strength training with a coach. I'd also like you to drink. In other words, I'd like you to join a class or tell someone about MissionFit when you get to that water. 

The strength, mobility and conditioning work we do at MissionFit is a key piece of everyone's ability to thrive. It just plays a different role depending on where you are in your life. Examples are...

  • Strength training increases bone density to combat osteoporosis and frail bones in your golden years.
  • Mobility and postural strength in your late twenties and early thirties will extend your hard earned athleticism from your youth. 
  • The neural adaptions of youth who participate in gymnastics are unrivaled when it comes to developing full body awareness, coordination, and strength. 
  • The confidence built by doing more difficult progressions in an exercise or lifting progressively heavier weights is invaluable for your self-esteem and confidence in your abilities no matter your age or your goals. 

Now this is where a qualified coach comes in. You can certainly do physical training by yourself, but I haven't seen many scenarios where a good coach couldn't help you reach your goals faster and with fewer roadblocks. 

In order to take proper action I'm going to break you into 2 categories. 

  • 14 years old to 100 years old: come to our community classes to get 100% scalable and individualized training for wherever you're at. The Strength Clubs are donation based so there can't be any objection about cost ;)
  • 14 years old to 24 years old: we have classes just for you! You are the primary reason we are open!

So, show up! Or email me for more details. 



If Donnie Thompson and Max Shank had a baby....

It might look like me....


In all seriousness, my knowledge base as a coach is a product of many different disciplines, and I devour knowledge from any source I deem reputable. This warm-up I recorded for prepping and improving your hamstring mobility borrows from Donnie Thompson, (He is the first human to ever total 3000lbs! 8-all time World Records in Professional Powerlifting) and  Max Shank (he has written 3 books and taught over a hundred courses in countries around the world). How is that for reputable?

The warm-up protocol is 3 sets of 15-20ft QL walks, 5 second toe hold, 5 reps compression pike pulse. If you were doing the Ultimate Athleticism program you might do this routine in between work sets in the interest of efficiently spending your precious gym time. 

Come to think of it, I think I also heard Coach Sommer talking to Tim Ferriss about these as well. If I have come across so many great minds suggesting these movements don't you think its about time to try them?! 



Update from Ido Portal Online Coaching and other Useful tips.

How I feel lately.... a crumpled little ballerina ( Swan Despair by Caroline Martin)

How I feel lately.... a crumpled little ballerina (Swan Despair by Caroline Martin)

Phew, how do I start describing the exhaustion, the cliche blood/sweat/tears/blah/etc and occasional bumpy road that comes with trying to execute something much better than you're capable to doing right now? 

Exhaustion: Yup, I'm a little tired lately. I'm getting 8-10 hours of sleep per night, and then taking naps as needed to make up for a short night here and there. I think it is more mental exhaustion of training 6 days a week for extended amounts of time doing the same things, but at the same time I find this repetition and routine so refreshing! I don't think I'll have any black or white opinions about this style of training for at least another month because the body is amazing at adapting to stimulus you provide it. 

Blood: yeah, I had a bit of that, but not much. The super slow eccentric of a ring muscle-up occasionally takes a piece of skin in transition. No worries, a little Mueller's Athletic Tape and I was good to go!

Tears: In hindsight this is such a teenie tiny non-existent issue, but at the time when I couldn't keep my right elbow from bending in the initial phase of the ring Skin the Cat I wanted to scream, cry, and kick my feet. I figured it out in my next session, Squeezed the life out of the rings, flexed my triceps like I never ever wanted them to bend ever again, and it worked :)

Conclusion: As I round the end of week 2 and into week 3 I feel optimistic about the skills and body awareness I'm gaining. On days where motivation is low I've been inviting friends to join me, and that distracts me a little from the hard work thats about to follow. It works, you should try it if you're lacking any motivation or feeling the grind. To end on a light note, I'm really enjoying this. Just because my will power is being challenged doesn't mean this isn't amazing fun!

Tips: learn your shoulders natural range of motion, then practice moving in those available ranges.

  • Elevation
  • Depression
  • Retraction 
  • Protraction

It is not the end of your shoulder education, but it is a fantastic start. 

Homework for the knowledge hungry: The Secrets of Gymnastic Strength Training , sooooo many gems! Tim Ferriss and Coach Sommers drop some serious knowledge bombs. Most informative part for me was the discussion about how connective tissue takes so much longer to repair fully. Lesson learned? Be patient and spend lots of time doing the basics right. 

Your daily laugh: I got a super funny (to me) punishment for doing my 140 mile charity bike ride. Johnny commended the good cause and then had me do 140 Eagle Arms in both directions for repentance haha I must be sick because I enjoyed it. Watch and laugh at my expense haha