Pen Penny Foot Drill

Pen Penny Drill

Pen Penny Drill

You might have the best, most stable feet in the whole wide world... I don't. Half of the clients I've worked with have weak feet from those aforementioned high tech shoes, and it results in an unstable base, which then results in knee and hip issues. In these cases I'm not surprised if they also have knee and hip issues due to other modern lifestyle choices, but I always check the feet to see how strong their base is. 

I have a couple of tools in the ol' toolbox to fix the issues, but this one is a great eye opener for awareness to see if your foot is doing what you think it is doing. It teaches you what muscles you are or aren't activating and gives you a cue of how to activate your arch without tipping your entire foot. 

You simply put a penny under the joint of the big toe, and a pen under your arch. With both feet on the ground press down on the penny while pulling off of the pen. If that is easy shift more weight on the pen/penny foot or lift up your other foot entirely. 

This is the video I borrowed this drill from and I encourage you to watch it when you get the time. It's got other good tricks to make your feet more functional. 



The benefit to Yoga that no one is talking about!

Ok, "no one" is a stretch, but very few people I know I talking about your.... Feet. 

Yoga is one of the only popular health and fitness modalities that encourages barefoot practice. It is so refreshing and systemically beneficial to be able to stretch and strengthen one of the most important and complex parts of your body without overthinking it. The balancing poses for strength and stability. Poses that get your ankles to go into dorsiflexion and plantar flexion will open up your usable ranges of motion in a way that will transfer into athletics, weight training, and life in general. 

The fact that you don't need special equipment to perform yoga makes it accessible to everyone. There are donation based classes at most yoga centers that allow the broke guy/gal to do yoga next to the affluent business person. Sure you can buy a $108 Manuka Yoga Mat but you certainly don't need to. The industrial fitness complex loves selling you things, and workout specific shoes make up a large portion of the market. Your buddy GB only has one problem with that...           

"high tech shoes make low tech feet." *

Ponder on that quote when you lace up your Reebok Nano's or Hoka Odyssey 2's. **

Of course, you don't need to wait for yoga to free those feetsies, but it is about the only place in modern society that won't frown upon it. At any American gym you would hear "ew, omg, look at (insert gender identity specific pro-noun) feet!", or people will think that you're a dirty hippy. Try walking around in the comfort of your own home, spreading your toes often. It feels splendid!



*the author is jealous that Ido Portal so eloquently summed up the author's thoughts on the matter. The author usually just goes into long rants about shoe companies and how amazing nature's/god's design is. 

** the author doesn't really have a problem with the Reebok Nano, but holds the opinion that the Hoka shoe is the worse thing to happen to feet since Chinese foot binding. 

The 2 fitness buzzwords you'll be hearing this year...

"Movement" & "Gut Health" 

You won't be able to escape these words in 2016 and for very good reason. They started popping up sporadically as I searched through my favorite online health/performance/fitness sources. Then they invaded my beloved podcasts. I couldn't run, and neither could the tastemakers of the industry. We had fallen head over heels for the idea and pursuit of  better "movement" and "gut health".

"Movement" - One name comes to mind. Ido Portal.

It's not that other fitness professionals haven't taught us about the different qualities of movement. Greg Glassman and "his" (I heard he "borrowed" this list from the Dynamax ball guy) ten recognized fitness domains. Cardiovascular and Respiratory endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy. Dan John and his 5 basic human movements Push, Pull, Hinge, Squat, Loaded carries and the 6th movement is everything else, like crawling, tumbling, rolling. The difference between Ido and these other smart gents is that he is the personification of Movement. In practice, in his self professed cruel tutelage, on podcasts, and all over youtube, he is a Mover and he will let you know it. Last year I went to his MovementX workshop in NYC and it was like taking the red pill into the Matrix (pop culture reference) or falling down Alice's rabbit hole (classic reference). My world was flipped upside down, and I was presented with so much information that I didn't know where to start! I practiced and processed, and in my own right, as a 35 (now 36) year old man I have greatly improved as a Mover. If you are feeling a little discouraged watching his upper echelon elite movement, take comfort in the fact that his program is scalable enough for his 64 year old mother.


"Gut Health", Dr Rhonda Patrick personally taught me, and everyone else listening to the podcasts she's recently been on, about my gut microbiome and its effects on my overall health. 

Basically, your gut is doing sooooooo much more than we previously thought. From nervous system regulation, anxiety control, obesity, brain function, and the obvious digestion, the bacteria that are in your digestive track are finally getting credit where credit is due. Dr.Patrick introduced me to VSL#3, the probiotic that helped me cure my dry itchy skin on my face and scalp (self diagnosed seborrheic dermatitus) in one month. At nearly $90 a month it was totally worth it, but I stopped taking it after it worked. My dry skin has since come back and I've just started my next dose with the intention of taking it for at least 6 months. My health is worth any amount of worldly money and so is yours! Consider looking into quality Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Fermented Foods. It may be the health game changer you were looking for. 


Are you questioning what I'm saying? Good! Always question everything you read/hear and run it through your personal B.S. filter. Do your own research and see where it takes you. Thank you for letting me share my thoughts with you!




Better Breathing for Better Lifting

Heavy weights are just like big tough Russian guys... they will push you around if you let them! 

I've figured out a great way to teach bracing tightly so that you can more efficiently/safely* move heavy weights. I don't actually have any problem with big Russian guys, I just have one tough Russian who is a great friend and he was kind enough to squeeze me for this instructive video.

  My best breathing tip for lifting heavy

*sidenote: effiency and safety run parallel to each other. There are few times where you can sacrifice good lifting form for better performance.  

Sharing "the iron"

Good morning friends! This is one of my favorite pieces of writing that I come back to at least once a year. I am posting this after much hesitation. I suffer from a terrible affliction called "chronic overthinking". I was thinking that maybe I shouldn't post this because maybe my readers have already seen this and it's old news. But then, after telling that inner voice to politely shut up, I realized that even if you've read this once, it's so good that you'll want to read it again, year after year, just like me. 

Please enjoy "the iron" by Mr Henry Rollins. 


Did I just accidentally hit all of my goals I set? A guest post by Rob Sugama

It's January 2015, and I just stepped out of a goal setting seminar.
(side note: Geoff was the one speaking, and set off the whole year for me)
The picture displayed is all of the gym goals I wanted to hit for the year.
I listed all of my weak movements, and goals for the year.

  • 400# Deadlift
  • 225# Bench press
  • 200# Clean + Jerk
  • 135# Snatch
  • 300# Back squat
  • 180# Strict (Military/Shoulder) press
  • 30 Double unders in a row.

I started with the snatch and overhead squats, on my own following a linear progression.
Originally I planned on working on 2 movements for 3-4 months. Sounds doable right?
Turns out real life happens. It threw a wrench in consistent training.

  • A Crossfit competition in late January,
  • A 10k in February
  • Crossfit Open in March
  • Warrior dash in April
  • A 10k in May
  • A 5K fun run in June
  • Spartan Race in July

From January to July I hit exactly 0 goals.  Throughout I was discouraged, and wandering.

In mid July Geoff posted a Powerlifting competition on facebook that was happening in October.
I thought to myself, hmmm....this is a good way to hit some of these goals, and not have my year be a complete wash.

Early on in the training, Geoff suggested I sacrifice some training days to just lift and focus on a program. I implemented a new mobility drill for warmup and each session made slight adjustments to my lifts and it created a snowball effect. All the numbers went through the roof!
After 3 months:

  • Back squat 265# ---> (300# goal) ---> 405# (+140)  
  • Strict Press 170# ---> (180# goal) ---> 195# (+25)    
  • Deadlift      325# ---> (400# goal) ---> 370# (+45)    

I am more than happy with all goals + gains (bro) I achieved and I'm ok with the ones I didn't achieve this year.

The lessons learned:
1. Find help when trying to achieve your goals. (a coach)
2. Find a group of peers who will go through the grind with you (whether in person in workout sessions, or online, sharing progress). It can push you further than you would by yourself. Its another avenue for help.
3. I should have set only 1 or 2 goals, get on a program and set a date. (going into a competition really helps set a deadline) In retrospect, it was too many goals for me at one time. 
4. Really focus! Previously I did each lift once a week, but progress came when I hit lifts 2-3 times per week! 
5. Mobility 10-15 min a day helped in recovery + gains (bro) believe it or not.

It's now January 2016, and after my strength program:
My front squat (5 rep max) went up from 155# to 230# (+75), and just cleaned 205# when I haven't done a heavy clean since March.

I have no doubt I actually could hit ALL of the goals I set one year ago, right now.
Did I just accidentally hit all of my goals I set? Hmmm....
What a weird side effect to strength training. Who knew it was transferable?