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It's not just science, it's #science.
Updated: 12 hours 8 min ago

Stuff to Check Out: End of March Edition

Thu, 03/28/2019 - 09:58

Are you still working towards a New Year’s resolution? Fallen off the wagon entirely? Cool. I want to help out. I put High Tensile Strength on a permanent price discount. You can get the gold package for just $77 for 6 full months of ready-made programming.

Click HERE for more info.


Even More Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint workshop

Tony Gentilcore and I have dates set coming up in the following cities for the “level 2” workshop:

  • Philadelphia PA, April 27-28  **EARLY BIRD RATE ENDS THIS WEEKEND!!!
  • Edmonton Alberta Canada, May 25-26
  • Sydney Australia July 13-14
  • Melbourne Australia July 20-21


“Psych Skills for Fitness Pros” with Dr. Lisa Lewis

What bogs or stresses most trainers/coaches out isn’t the art of program design, assessment, or breaking down exercise technique. Rather, it’s dealing with and working around our client’s “stuff.”

This pre-seminar, Friday July 19th from 12:30pm-3:30pm, with Dr. Lisa Lewis will cover:

– How to foster and build motivation with clients.

– Developing behavioral change techniques.


We offer financing options to split the payments up over 2 months, group discounts for groups of 3 or more, continuing education credits, the digital video version of our “level 1” workshop that this current material builds upon, and free pony rides.*

*You have to bring the pony

Click HERE for more info & to register


Scientific Mobility Training – Vienna Austria October 19 2019

This workshop will go through most up to date info on best practices for developing range of motion, plus practical applications on making every muscle sore and bendy all at once. Space is limited so if you happen to want to check out Austria and learn about mobility, this is the workshop for you!!

Click HERE for more info and to register


Social Media HiJinx

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If shoulder overhead mobility is a struggle, maybe changing the angle of your dangle can make a difference. Here, using a band for external resistance and hinging from the hips so that an overhead motion is horizontal against gravitational loading instead of vertically gives less axial force through the shoulders while requiring a lot more from the scapular muscles to direct the motion versus just the glenohumeral muscles

Eccentric Hamstring Loading for Strength, Hypertrophy, and Injury Prevention

Tue, 03/26/2019 - 10:27

It’s common to see a powerlifter get to the top of a deadlift and then just drop that mutha. The gentle set down doesn’t really exist. I mean, you complete the lift just by standing up, why waste all that energy setting it down under control, right? Olympic lifters drop it from overhead, so I guess using iron plates from thigh high is kind of the same thing?

Hey, I’ve been known to rapidly descend a loaded bar to the floor after crushing a top set or two as well so I’m not throwing shade at these crazy cats. That being said, I hope they involve some eccentric work to pair with all that concentric effort.

There’s a big difference between the concentric and eccentric phases of muscle contraction. Concentric produces the magic, whereas the suck tends to live in eccentrics. Lowering a weight relatively slowly makes you wish for death’s sweet embrace during the process, but can have some significant benefits to hypertrophy, strength development, and rehab, which will talk about today, plus I’ll show you some simple ways to work it into your workouts.

A major benefit to spending some time on eccentrics is the work done into lengthened positions tends to help reduce the likelihood of over-stretch injuries to the muscle tissue in that position. Pollard et al (2019) showed eccentric focused strength exercises like a nordic hamstring curl not only increased strength through the biceps femoris, but also had a positive effect on muscle fascicle length, but upon stopping the eccentrics the fascicle length change reverted back within 1 week of detraining.

Tyler et al (2017) showed in previous hamstring injured subjects, a 3-phase eccentric hamstring protocol had a 92% success rate at preventing future hamstring injuries for up to 2 years after the initial injury. The other 8%? All occurred in athletes who were non-compliant with the rehab protocol.

Siddle et al (2019) found that after completing eccentric training, performance variables improved across the board, but after a deconditioning period, change of direction and sprint performance stayed up while eccentric hamstring strength dropped off. This may indicate a need to put some eccentric work back in following detraining phases or off seasons, even if on-field performance looks awesome.

So how can you incorporate eccentric hamstring exercises into your leg training? There’s a few good options to think on.

  • If you’re training for speed and power on field, incorporate two or three sets of a challenging movement before you get into your full speed work.
  • If you’re working on heavy strength movements like squats or deadlifts, follow them up with a few sets of eccentrics.
  • If your goal is hypertrophy, hit up a few sets as a pre-fatigue modality before any compound work, or as accessory work following your compound stuff.

Keep the volume relatively low to start. Think 3 sets of 5 for most, as eccentrics can produce some serious DOMS, so if you don’t want to walk like a drunken cowboy for a few days, don’t overdo the volume.

For specific exercises, any that you currently use could work if you spend more time focused on the lowering of the weight under control versus just jamming up as much weight as possible and then calling it a day.

Paused eccentrics work really well too.

You can even do single leg eccentrics with a 2 leg concentric. Here’s an example using a front squat:

And also one using a single leg eccentric on a deadlift:


A more traditional focused eccentric exercises could be something like Nordic Hamstring Curls, or as they call them in Norway, “hamstring curls.”

These are really hard to do with full bodyweight though, and the taller you are the harder they become. A way to reduce the challenge is to wrap a band around your shoulders and chest to help with some stretch response at the bottom, as shown here by Teddy Willsey.

If the band isn’t your cup of tea, this ball rollout version from James Harris is a solid option too:

For something more advanced than this, you could opt for one of the coolest named exercises on the face of the earth, the Razor Curl as shown here by Ben Bruno

To up the ante on this bit of insanity, go off the floor with no pad to lean your thighs on and try to avoid breaking your nose, as shown by Sam Spinelli here:

And anytime you feel like you’re good at something like eccentric hamstring movements, check out this piece of awesomeness:


Give one or two of these a try in your next leg day, but keep the volume low to start so you don’t feel the need to write me angry tweets when you can’t get down to or off of the toilet for the next 6 days or so.

  • Start with a base volume of 3 total sets of 5 reps, either bilaterally or per leg.
  • Add 1 rep per set per workout per week for 3 weeks for a total of 8 reps per set
  • then start adding an extra set a week after that to a total of 6 sets.


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1 Year In: The Self-Employment Experiment

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 10:25

January 1, 2018: I had zero clients.

I had just walked away from a career in a health club after spending the previous 14 years there. It was a good experience overall but it was time to move on as a new opportunity presented itself. A new facility was opening up which gave trainers the ability to work out of their existing framework as independent contractors for a relatively low monthly lease price.

Since it’s been a little over a year since I made the jump, I wanted to give an update on how things are going, review my experience, and give some pointers to anyone else looking to do something similar.


I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man

After working as a personal trainer for a while, I had a good idea of systems, policies, procedures, invoicing, and all the other stuff that goes with running a business, but there’s a bit of a difference when you are in an existing system set up by accountants and HR professionals and when you do that all on your own.

And by “a bit of a difference” I mean a giant “what the hell do I do now” type of scenario where you have to make everything and put it in place on your own. This can be daunting at first, but setting up with some good software through Pike13 helped automate a lot of those processes, plus let me manage billing, scheduling, attendance, and automated reminder emails all from my phone, which helped save a ton of time and effort for a relatively low cost each month.

It took about 2 weeks of consistently working on the planning elements to get everything organized so that when the facility opened up I was able to train clients on day one without any specific hiccups or issues.

To go along with this, I had to actually start doing some form of accounting since I had an incorporated business and couldn’t just get by with recording income and expenses like before. So I met with an accountant and got an idea of what I had to do to make everything organized and had my wife do my book keeping to make sure I didn’t get in trouble with Canada Revenue at the end of the year. More on that to come.

Starting from Zero

My opening statement on this post was true, I had zero clients at the beginning of last year. I had walked away from an existing clientele, handed them off to other trainers who I felt could do a good job, and wished them well. I was essentially starting from scratch.

But an interesting thing happened. As soon as I announced that I was making a change, I had about 14 people reach out and say they wanted to start training with me. They had wanted to for a long time, but either didn’t want to come into the company I was working for, or didn’t want to drive downtown and pay the exorbitant parking fees of downtown parking.

By the end of January, I had 20 clients. By the end of February, I had 31.  It was off and running. In the year I managed to work with 113 different individuals and trained 1400 sessions on the year, in spite of taking 6 full weeks away from training clients. Not too shabby.

Some mild scheduling changes meant I was working 3 fewer hours each week, but was able to put enough of a priority on getting additional sleep and still being home in time for dinner with my wife each night (maybe a bit late on Tuesdays and Thursdays). Combining an average of an additional 75 minutes of sleep each night with a facility that has a ton of windows and a south facing exposure for a massive amount of sunlight after being in a gym with no windows for over a decade, and my energy and mood were considerably improved.

I Count Reps, Not Accounts Payable

I completely understand I have zero knowledge of accounting or book keeping. I made a mistake at the beginning of thinking I knew what I needed to do and not asking my accountant to specifically lay out everything involved in the process, which meant my wife doing my book keeping was not able to do the job she needed to do because she was working with improper information on my part.

My goal for 2019 is to get everything organized and recorded properly so that I can make accurate submissions, have payments made and give my books to my acocuntant at the end of the year and have him give a fist pump of excitement because everything’s done properly. He’s working with Lindsay and I to help us along the way, so hopefully that will be a stressor that gets removed.

New Gym, New Uniform

One constant from working in a commercial gym was the uniform. The same thing every day for years on end until they rolled out a new style every 5 or so years. Working independently meant I had the chance to wear whatever I wanted to, but after 14 years of uniforms, all that freedom made me……. wear a different uniform.

While I’m sure my random collection of wrestling t shirts and occasional polo would be fine to wear anywhere, the decisions on each day made me a bit stressed out, and once I managed to get some branded shirts with my logo on them, I just started wearing those every day.

I remember Dan John giving a talk about reducing decisions and mentioning he has something like 28 of the exact same shirt because that’s all they made in his size across North America. It meant that each day he didn’t have to make a choice on what he would wear, he’d just grab a clean shirt and be ready to devote decision making power to the stuff that mattered in his life.

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Want to up your workout wear?? I gotchu covered with some brand spankin new shirts. The first order of men's shirts sold out really quickly so I ordered another run, PLUS ordered a set of these sweet women's tanks too. The tanks are a long light tech cotton material that fits a bit big and will likely add 3.71% to your deadlift alone. #science If you're interested in getting either, they're on sale now for only $40 Canadian plus shipping. If you're looking to get a combo pack of a men's and a women's, you can pick them up for only $70 plus shipping. DM me for info and to get yours today!!

A post shared by Dean somerset (@dsomerset1) on Jul 13, 2018 at 1:08pm PDT

Stuff That’s Worked Out Well So Far

Financially, it’s been a great move. My expenses for lease and software are pretty small, which means I keep about 95% of what I charge. In my new environment, I have the ability to charge whatever I like, and in some instances am actually charging clients less. Combine that with free parking, lower membership rates, drop in options for those looking to not get a membership, and a fantastic space, and the response has been universally positive from everyone coming in to work with me.

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6:30 am and packed gym.

A post shared by Dean somerset (@dsomerset1) on Apr 4, 2018 at 5:44am PDT

The limited overhead management and procedural “stuff” that tends to come with being an employee working in an existing structure was discarded entirely, and much of it automated to the point where I could run a fairly successful business with nothing more than my phone and the occasional check in on my laptop.

I also have the freedom to make my business what I want. I have an online coaching platform through and will eventually get set up to have it as a one-stop shop for my in-person and online coaching, which will give me the ability to write a program for a client, load it into the app, and have them log their workouts online so I can check, plus I can easily bring their workouts up in their sessions to log and adjust automatically. This will beat the old paper books I’ve been using.

I’ve also been able to purchase some measurement equipment to use with clients to get more data on their workouts, and since it’s a business expense I can claim it against my business income. Same goes for a portion of my home office, travel, meals out with my “shareholder” and a bunch of other stuff I wasn’t able to claim previously. I also have 100% of my income in my corporation now, which can make taxes actually a bit easier overall.

One of the biggest benefits in owning your own business is I can subcontract to other trainers to train clients if I’m away, which happens any time I’m teaching a workshop or want to take a vacation. Previously to do this would have been an accounting nightmare as there are different rates trainers work at and are paid at, and switching levels was something that was actively discouraged. Now, I just set a rate for each client session the other trainer is comfortable with, have them train the session, then pay the trainer. This allows me to take time away, have my clients taken care of, earn a small fraction of the session rate the client is paying for, and everyone is happy.

Stuff That Still Sucks

Compared to running your own business, being an employee is the considerably easier option hands down. I’m fortunate that I can hand off book keeping and accounting, but if not that would be an added expense every month as I would have no hope in hell of knowing how to do it or doing it right. Combine that with paying sales tax quarterly, corporate income tax, personal income tax, and probably some mystery existence tax that no one tells you about until you get a bill for it, and I’m paying taxes essentially all year instead of just once a year when my T4 forms would come in.

While I was still paying taxes as an employee, the main difference is that as an employee taxes were deducted automatically, whereas I get the money, then have to figure out how much to pay and for what/where/how. I’ve set up a savings account that I just put money into each week and accumulate what is needed to pay for taxes, and then just get payments deducted from that account, which makes life easier, but it still sucks getting a bill for many thousands of dollars every now and then. That being said, paying taxes means you’re still earning an income, so I’ll take it as a blessing I guess.

Advice to Anyone Going On Their Own

I don’t care how good of a trainer you are, if you have no idea of how to do basic accounting or have someone do it for you, you’ll have no idea whether your business is growing, failing, or whether you’ll be able to pay the bills. Start with your systems and make sure you know what’s going on.

Bootstrap your operations to be as inexpensive and automated as possible. The reason I lease time from an existing facility versus open my own is I have no financial obligations to the purchase of equipment, lease terms, insurance, utilities, upkeep, staffing, or the other stuff that comes with owning a physical facility. This keeps my expenses for in-person training to less than $1000 a month. Essentially, if you have no clients or existing business, DO NOT OPEN YOUR OWN FACILITY.

Set boundaries and stick to them. My schedule is set and non-negotiable. If you want to train on the weekend, I’ll find someone else for you as I won’t come in.I could easily fill 7 days a week, but then my wife would likely leave me and start a puppy rescue compound somewhere in the country.

Also, don’t fall behind in paying your taxes. That shit doesn’t go away.

Hopefully this helps shed some light on how things have been going from the bossman perspective and can give some help to anyone looking to jump out on their own as well. I can say without a doubt it’s been one of the best moves I’ve made, and I’m extremely happy with how everything has turned out so far.

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3 Band Shoulder Stability Drills You Probably Haven’t Tried, but Should

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 09:43

Shoulder stability drills tend to fall into a couple categories: training concentric action of the shoulder with stuff like external rotations for the rotator cuff, or dynamic stabilization drills like using the Shake Weight.


In the first example, the goal is to create strength through the muscles so that they’re better at resisting positional change. In the second the goal is to get neural firing rates more responsive to changes in force application to the tissues so that the muscles controlling glenohumeral and scapulothoracic positioning and motion can keep the place together while enduring some challenging stressors.


With this idea, we can put together some exercises that use bands to try to do some specific things:


  1. Try to pull the joint positions away from the stable starting points while trying to resist that change, and
  2. Trying to create motion against resistance trying to perturb that plane of action.


Bands work really well for this as they can have adjustable tension based on stretch and resistance, can be used at any angle, and at any speed you desire. With that said, here’s a few drills you can incorporate into your training to promote some shoulder stability, whether at the gym or on the road, or even on the field before a game.


  1. Band Stabilization Diagonal Pulls




This is a great stabilization drill for maintaining an overhead position, specifically while holding on to some scapular upward rotation. You can adjust the elevated arm and hand position to any height you can achieve, depending on shoulder mobility, and work on controlling your positioning against any band tension you can manage.


The key features to remember with this is that the hand overhead should be like it’s locked in stone, no movement should occur when the band tension pulls it forward. That’s a massive challenge to anyone who may be in need of more scapular stability in this position, but may not be able to manage traditional weight loading in that range of motion.


  1. Band 90 90 Shoulder Press Stabilization




This position is a little bit more challenging specifically for the rotator cuff versus scapular stabilizers, and due to the lever arm acting on the rotator cuff, may be harder to maintain positioning against the band tension compared to the diagonal pull, but it’s still a solid option for anyone looking to maintain some shoulder control.


Some big coaching considerations on this one are to consider where the rib positioning winds up when setting up and pressing the weight, trying to keep the ribs flat to prevent arching through secondary motion to get stabilization for the shoulder elsewhere, and also ensuring the hand doesn’t start drifting forward as the shoulder fatigues.


The press can be at any angle you choose, and you just have to have the band attached to something that’s not going to fall over during the press.



  1. Band horizontal overhead press




This video brings in 2 major components of resistance. First, the band resistance makes the shoulders work to continuously press out into it, and then using gravitational loading in a non-axial manner makes pressing the hands out away from the body harder as you go further into the movement. The overhead movement relies more on scapular motion in terms of true rotation with less of a potential anterior tilt, at least as long as you can manage to keep your hands from dropping during the movement. The hip hinged position also gives some stretched loading to the posterior chain, which is always a nice benefit during shoulder work.



These are simple, easy and effective drills to help improve shoulder stability, and can be done pretty much anywhere. Give them a try and see what you think. Use a light band and slower speed to start, and ramp it up as you are able to maintain positioning and not fatigue out.


If you’re interested in learning more drills for shoulder stability, I have a bunch of recommendations.

Tony Gentilcore does a sweet deep dive into overhead mobility, which has a massive drive off scapular stability, in The Complete Trainers Toolbox.

He and I also cover an entire day of shoulders in our video series The Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint.

We even have some live workshops with more advanced content in Even More Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint with events coming up in Philadelphia, Edmonton, and Australia.

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Categories: Feeds

Training vs. Working Out

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 11:07

I put up a post on Twitter and Instagram a few days ago that seemed to resonate with a lot of people.

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10,000 hours to mastery of a skill is somewhat misleading. Did you spend those hours uniformly obsessed with improving your aptitude and execution of that skill? Punching the clock will help you improve, but to be exceptional you have to focus on constant improvement.

A post shared by Dean somerset (@dsomerset1) on Mar 6, 2019 at 6:59am PST

I figured today I would break down a few salient thoughts on this concept so people can get some more insight into this concept.


  1. Training and working out both accomplish goals, just differently

I have a lot of clients who come into the gym only when they have a session with me, and that may be only once a week or once every two weeks. I give them homework, and it may get done or it might not, but it’s not a major priority in their lives.

That’s fine. They understand their role in the process of the results they’re getting, but also understand where their priorities lie in their life, and for them a fitness plan within a weightroom is fairly low, albeit still on the list. They’re not interested in competing in anything, seeing specific improvements, or setting personal records, but will gladly accept them if they come. They work out to enjoy life, stay relatively fit, and consistently show up to work hard and have fun while they’re there.

I remember a gym member who would do the same sets of quarter-rep bicep curls for sets of 50 every time he came in to the gym, because he’d done them that way every day for the past 20 years. Routines matter a lot to people, much more than specific progress.

Contrast that with some of my competitive athlete clients. Their priorities put training at number one on their list, ahead of social life, vacations, date nights, and in some cases even their occupations. Their workouts are much more data-centric, focusing on specific improvements over time, gaining an edge, and fine-tuning an approach to meet the demands of competition.

Both are happy with their results

It’s easy to lose sight of the people who aren’t in the all-or-nothing category of training, and who may get turned off by a rigid and strict approach to how training and nutrition should be, but we have to remember that getting something is of benefit to a very large segment of the population, even if it’s just a single step in the right direction. For those people, attending a Zumba class with their friends is exactly the doorway that will allow them entry into the fitness world. Not everything has to be tracked or measured, even if you get the best benefits from that approach. Sometimes a nudge in the right direction is the best way for the person in front of you given their priorities in life.


2. Working out can fill the time between specific goals

For a lot of competitive athletes, in the early phase of their off seasons the last thing they want to do is anything directly related to their sport, so they opt for workouts that can help maintain some level of fitness or just give them a mental break from the usual training regimen.

For recreational athletes not currently training for a specific outcome – say, age group athletes, powerlifters in between contest prep phases, etc – that off season phase can be a time to work on other stuff, or get in some more random play elements that have not a lot to do with their specific sports, but can help keep them interested in training while getting a sweat on.

This can be the same for non-competitive clients who may be in between goals of their own. Dieting for weight loss all the time can be a big challenge for a lot of people, so working in some maintenance phases here and there, with more of an emphasis on just getting some regular activity like a power walk through the neighbourhood, or finding active  things to do while on vacation can be impactful to keep people “on the wagon” even if they’re not actively engaging in a strict weight loss regimen.

When the individual is ready to make a specific effort towards a targeted goal, that’s when we can ramp things up and get more focused on workout and nutrition specificity, track specific metrics over time, and gauge progress towards that goal, but it’s not mandatory in everyone at all times.


3. Some people have more of a mastery mindset than others

Imagine being given a Rubiks Cube.

You’re given a really appealing reason to figure out how to solve it. Maybe a cash prize, fame, it unlocks a specific ability you can use later, or whatever you like, but it’s REALLY appealing to you. Do you spend every waking moment trying to solve the thing, and stay at it until you do, or do you give up within a few minutes and move on, knowing you lose out on the opportunity to get that really appealing outcome?

Or, do you tackle the cube because it’s a puzzle to solve and the challenge in itself is the reason to make you obsessive about solving it? A final option, you play with it when you have the time but have no attachment to the outcome, you just enjoy it while you’re trying to figure it out but if something more important comes along you’d have no problem dropping it?

Each approach is fine, and depending on the person, can bring a lot of happiness or unending stress. A competitive athlete may step into the gym to get benefits for their sport,  a recreational hobbyist may just love the process of training and the improvements they’re seeing, and still a larger portion of people may do it because they enjoy it while they’re there and want to make a go of it, but it’s not their raison d’etre.


3. To truly excel at something, you have to give up a lot

I’ve done a number of talks to prospective personal trainers completing their education and getting ready to start training live human beings. Uniformly, they all ask what I had to do to be as successful as I am now (however you’d like to define success is up to you). My answers usually don’t inspire them:

  • Work 12-14 hours a day Monday through Friday, and then another 6-10 a day on the weekends.
  • Do the above for at least a decade
  • Market yourself a lot, trying to find as many ways to get people in front of you as possible. Along those lines, learn a lot about marketing, sales, and business
  • Continuing education is non-negotiable. Study everything you can as much as possible, and invest in attending live events and certifications as often as possible

Sounds like fun, right?

This isn’t the approach to use if you want a good work-life balance, however in order to excel at anything, you pretty much have to be willing to give up stuff like work-life balance, some relationships, sleep, self-care, and a lot of other stuff along the way. Work-life balance is a great approach for average people, but it doesn’t work for those determined to be exceptional. I know this doesn’t sound too uplifting, but have you ever heard of anyone who has accomplished amazing things say they didn’t have to devote everything they had to it and sacrifice massively along the way? probably not.

If you look at many other professions, like medicine, law or accounting, they all have a residency or articling phase where they’re pretty much only working and learning. That’s almost mandatory for them to get their accreditation. Have you ever heard of a physician saying they had a great work-life balance through their residency? Or an accountant who slept comfortably through their articling years during tax season?

This is why this isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. You can definitely have a great career as a trainer or strength coach while limiting your time involvement to just 15-20 hours a week, and have a great life full of other priorities. The same goes for your workouts. If you can’t devote 20-30 hours to training each week like a highly competitive athlete on the world stage, you can still get benefits from 2-3 hours a week. You may not win world championships but that may also not be what you want to do either, and that’s fine.


4. Not everyone cares about fitness

It’s easy to get a myopic tunnel vision about how important exercise is for everyone, and how we should all be doing some form of it or another, but the very vast majority of the population holds a workout routine so low in importance that it’s almost off the list entirely. For them, the more easily they can include some activity, the more likely they will do something, but it’s not a guarantee. They won’t care about scapular rhythm, undulating periodization, or macro tracking, but will care about everything else that’s important in their life.

Meeting people where they are can be more impactful to help create positive change than trying to create the same desire for fitness and health in them that we see in ourselves. Everyone has the chance to grow into a love of the gym, and many do, but that growth has to take time and come from their own decisions and positive experiences.


The great thing about working out or training is there’s a way for everyone to get involved. Whether it’s once a week or two-a-days, you can see progress on your own terms and within your specific priorities. Hard work breeds progress, so the rest is up to you, and that’s the beautiful part: you get to decide what’s important to you.

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Categories: Feeds

Stuff to Check Out: Polar Vortex Edition

Thu, 02/28/2019 - 10:58

It’s still winter. Edmonton saw it’s coldest February in over 40 years.

So let’s warm up with some snuggly gooey toasty goodness in todays episode of STUFF.


Workshop STUFF

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Philadelphia, Edmonton, and Sydney Australia! Dates for @tonygentilcore & I to teach “Even More Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint” are coming fast Philadelphia: April 27-28 Edmonton: May 25-26 Sydney: July 13-14 Space is still available for each and the early bird rates are still active, so click the link in my bio to learn more and to register.

A post shared by Dean somerset (@dsomerset1) on Feb 24, 2019 at 9:20am PST

Even More Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint is doing a mini-world tour, with stops coming to a city near you. If you have shoulders and hips, train clients or patients with shoulders and/or hips, and want to learn a ton of usable information on how to build and coach the best program possible for those shoulders and/or hips, this is the workshop for you.

We also include the digital video series level 1 of this workshop for free so you can be up to speed on all the background concepts before we dive into this level 2 workshop, plus some other incredibly valuable goodies that we give to attendees.

Upcoming dates:

Philadelphia – April 27-28

Edmonton – May 25-26

Sydney Australia – July 13-14

Singapore – July 20-21

CLICK HERE for Philadelphia, Edmonton and Sydney date info and to register

CLICK HERE for Singapore date info and to register


Social Media STUFF


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1-minute mobility flow If you hate spending time on slow isolation mobility drills, try using something like this flow sequence. It gets your hips moving through flexion, internal & external rotation, extension and even some abduction to boot, plus makes you work on balance, core control, and your ability to keep up with the beat. You’ll also look like a damn ninja when you bust this out, which is always good to see. #mobility #ninja #breakdancefighting #blessed

A post shared by Dean somerset (@dsomerset1) on Feb 1, 2019 at 9:09am PST


Curated STUFF

Why Trainers Hate Crunches – MyFitnessPal

I contributed to this article and showed why there are so many other beneficial exercises you could do for core training other than simple crunches. If you want to spice up your routine, give these a go.


3 Reasons to Introduce a Super Expensive Training Option in your Gym – Pete Dupuis

This isn’t about being expensive just to be expensive. Want to know some things people happily pay a lot of money for?

Business class seating
Waygu beef steaks
Purses (seriously, there are $10,000 bags out there)
Skin creams – I had a discussion with an organic chemist for Estelle Lauder who said the markup for some creams was in the neighbourhood of 30,000%

Can your training program offer a similar level of luxury experience? Much of this may come down to being an absolute customer service ninja, and part of it is creating the image of the best provider out there. Either be the cheapest in your market or the most expensive, because you’ll likely wither in the middle.


5 Exercises that Develop Eccentric Strength of the Hamstrings – Meghan Callaway

Eccentric hamstring control and strength are major indicators of risk of injury to the knees and hamstrings, so you’d better read this if you are a sprinter or COD type athlete.


Top 7 Pain-Free Hacks for a Safer, Stronger Deadlift – Lee Boyce via

You had me at deadlifts.


The Ultimate Shoulder Day – Andrew Coates via

It’s awesome to see good friends get a nod on T-Nation. Congrats on the first of what will likely be many articles featured on the site bud.

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What’s DOMS Got to Do, Got to Do With It?

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 10:18

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS, is the sensation of getting sore a day or two after a hard workout, and may take anywhere from 12-36 hours to start up. This means you bust ass on Monday, fist pump your excellence on Tuesday, and can’t sit on the toilet on Wednesday without using a hand rail.

While this feeling can psychologically be empowering to feel like you had a good workout (I can’t feel anything below my beard. I ROCK!!), and as a result it’s going to give you better results than if you could walk like you hadn’t just gotten off a horseback ride for 10 hours, DOMS doesn’t really indicate much.

Here’s a brief list of times in my life I’ve had DOMS from specific circumstances:

  • I worked with an exercise I hadn’t in a few months
  • I used a very different volume with the same exercise
  • I was jet lagged and used half the weight I would usually use
  • I walked around a new city on vacation
  • I studied for a long time in a weird position in university and my traps were jacked
  • I ran a 5k
  • I stretched longer than usual
  • A workout after a few weeks of not weight training
  • A workout after a few nights of bad sleep
  • Training camp
  • A basketball tournament
  • a pickup basketball game after not playing for a decade
  • a hike at elevation
  • a long drive in an uncomfortable car seat
  • back to back workouts with the same muscle groups

You can see some stuff that would indicate a “good workout” but also a lot of rather random stuff that shouldn’t be an indicator of “good” anything, but moreso just stress to tissues. This also doesn’t include the times I’ve been injured and had some serious DOMS going on.

Essentially, DOMS will happen when something changes. Either you’re changing up your workouts, doing a new exercise, a new volume or weight of an old favourite, or you’re not well recovered or ready to train effectively to manage the work. The resulting change and readiness can cause some very small rips and tears in muscle tissues, which when remodelled and repaired can be stronger than before. It’s also this remodelling that’s a primary driver of hypertrophy, but not the only one.

Because of the relationship with hypertrophy and bodybuilding, people who are in the gym tend to try to get this DOMS to happen on a regular basis, even if their specific goalsets don’t require hypertrophy, or if they aren’t actively training to grow muscles at all.

Here are some specific goals that may not need hypertrophy to happen, in order to still achieve the goal:

  • body fat loss
  • strength gain
  • endurance/cardio improvements
  • flexibility gains
  • sport performance

Even if someone’s training for these specific elements, there’s a common belief among many going to the gym that in order for a workout to be good or to “count” they have to be sore following that workout. While it may be true that a good workout could make you sore, it’s not necessary to be sore to have a good workout. It’s sort of like how all thumbs are fingers, but not all fingers are thumbs.

You can have a great workout and not be sore. You could have a great workout and be sore. You could have a mediocre workout and be sore, or not sore. You can get kicked in the shins or fall down the stairs and be sore. You could slip on the ice and do some marvel of breakdance ninja fighting and not actually fall over and be sore the next day.

I train some endurance athletes, specifically track cyclists, who put the majority of their training in on a bike and augment that with gym workouts. If I put them through a workout that makes biking harder due to being really sore, it wasn’t a good quality workout for them as it’s affecting their entire reason for training.

If I put someone who is looking to lose weight through a hard workout and they get so sore they aren’t willing to workout tomorrow or the next day, and are hesitant to come back the day after that, it’s not helping their goal of weight loss. An injury post-rehab client getting sore could set their progress back significantly or re-aggravate that injury. This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get sore or that we have to avoid it entirely, but that as a goal, it’s not really all that great to shoot for.

However, if getting sore is the only observation that satiates your requirements for a good workout, I gotchu covered. I’m offering kicks in the shins after every workout for an additional $20. Satisfaction of soreness guaranteed, or I’ll kick you in the other shin for free.

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Simple and Easy Ways to Progress Your Training Plans

Sat, 02/16/2019 - 10:43

When I write up a training program for a new client, it’s very much a loose template that will likely adjust over the course of the next few weeks. One feature that tends to get adjusted relatively easily is the amount of weight being lifted, but an often overlooked element of progression is the manipulation of volume from week to week.

Imagine if we had a workout that was squat focused and the main working sets were 5 sets of 3 reps at 80% of max, or 3 reps with 1 rep in reserve to borrow from Renaissance Periodization. That’s 15 total reps of volume at a working intensity (ie. not including the build up or warm up sets). Following this we include 12-15 sets of squat accessory work, hypertrophy specific stuff or conditioning to round out a solid outing at the gym.

There’s a few ways we could progress this kind of a workout to produce a progressive overload without smashing the individual into the ground. In the end, the aim of any workout is to eventually do more. Progressive overload does not mean max effort all the time, it means gradual increases in what’s required over time.

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Do you try to maximize your effort and strength outputs in every single workout? You’re probably not doing yourself any favors by doing this if you are. Most adaptations from training occur from gradually adding either more volume or doing the same volume with more weight, where you progressively overload the tissues ability to do work. If you always run at max effort, you don’t get the benefit of recovery phases, accumulation phases, or over reaching phases that can play a huge role in seeing greater strength, hypertrophic, and even body composition improvements. I lay out some simple, effective, and easy to implement systems to progressively add more volume or loading into your workouts to see realistic progressive overload in my presentation “Programming 101: Building an Effective Workout” in the Complete Trainers Toolbox, a new digital continuing education product, on sale for 33% off the regular price until Sunday February 17th at midnight. Click the link in my bio for more info and to get your copy today.

A post shared by Dean somerset (@dsomerset1) on Feb 15, 2019 at 1:54pm PST

So we have 5 sets of 3 for 15 reps of high threshold strength work with 12-15 sets of accessory work. Let’s go through some examples of how to progress volume and do more work.


Example 1: More sets

A simple method would be to just add in additional sets of work in the main strength series. In most realistic schemes, a 10% increase in volume from one week to the next could be a fairly doable, not entirely life-ending way of producing a volume increase.

So for that we could do 2 different options: increase the number of sets on the main strength work or increase the number of sets on the accessory work.

If we were working to increase the main strength work, it would be worthwhile to increase the total number of REPS by 10% versus add in a 6th set of 3. To do that, the 6th set would be for 1 or 2 reps versus 3, which if anyone has ever done challenging weight on their squats, a 6th set is rarely ever going to be a true 3. It’ll be a “2 and that’s probably good enough” kind of set.

That would then be 5 x 3, 1 x 2 for a total of 17 reps, or a 13.3% increase in volume on the main strength set from one week to the next. The following week it could easily be 6 sets of 3 if the person tolerated this workout well.

You could also increase the total number of sets on the accessory work, which could be a bump up from 12-15 sets up to 14-17 sets. Essentially, this would mean moving a couple of series from 3 sets each up to 4 sets each, which should be entirely reasonable for most.


Example 2: More reps

Here, we’re moving from a straight 5 sets of 3 to a bit of variation in reps based on whether the person feels they can squeak out another while still staying in that 1-2 reps in reserve.

Here’s a breakdown of how that could look

Set 1: 3 reps 1 RIR
Set 2: 3 reps 1-2 RIR
Set 3: 3 reps 1-2 RIR
Set 4: 4 reps 1 RIR
Set 5: 4 reps 0-1 RIR

Total work 17 reps, or a 13.3% increase in volume at the same weight.

Now we’re just accomplishing the same volume as the progression example 1 in 5 sets instead of 6, so there’s a bit less rest overall and a higher work density within the session.

For the accessory work, we could just add another 1-2 reps per set

Another way we could work through something like this is to train more for power endurance, using some form of a bar speed sensor such as a PUSH Strength band, Bar Sensei or Tendo unit.

To do this, you work up to something like a 5 rep max, checking bar speed and power output, then using something like 90% of that weight and trying to get as many reps as possible out while maintaining above a specific bar speed. If 2 consecutive reps drop below that bar speed, you end the set. The goal is to get as many reps as possible while maintaining a high bar velocity, using the drop off to indicate fatigue and an inability to consistently generate power.

A workout like this is great for speed development and also increasing work output over time, while also mitigating potential fatigue related technique faults that could potentially lead to injury. They do suck the life out of you once they’re done, so tread carefully.

Here’s an example of mean power outputs over 4 such squat workouts from one of my athletes.

The different coloured lines correspond with individual workouts, and workouts that have more points in them recorded more reps over the span of the workout while maintaining a high bar speed, as represented by the power output on the left side.

You can see the first workout of the year had a relatively low power output (trendline) and a smaller number of overall data points, whereas workouts in the past few weeks have shown a higher overall power output combined with a greater number of data points, meaning this athlete is producing a lot more power, and can sustain that power output over a greater duration of effort, 2 really good things to have for a cyclist.

The interesting thing about these measurements is there were a few missed reps here and there, which you can see by the low points on each line, but looking at the trendlines overall as well as the absolute values of the reps in the middle and top of each line can give an example of how the workouts are progressing, even with some odd data points.

Manipulating some training variables such as volume can help produce a scalable progressive overload, which is a massive impetus for all kinds of GAINZ, including strength, hypertrophy, and improved body composition. I discuss some more specific ways you can lay out programming variables as well as how to tweak them over time to get the specific benefits your after, and also collate the available research on best practices for these manipulations to show I’m not just making stuff up on the fly in “Programming 101: How To Design An Effective Workout” in The Complete Trainers Toolbox.


This is just one of 12 webinar-style presentations in The Complete Trainers Toolbox, which is on sale for $100 off until Sunday February 17th at midnight est. If you want to dig deeper into programming, plus all the other goodies we have in there (including continuing education credits), act quick to save some money.

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Some of the common questions I get all the time from trainers are things like:

Simple Solutions to a Better Squat

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 09:29

Today’s post comes from Dr. Sam Spinelli, a doctor of physical therapy who can also out-lift most everyone else in the gym. Sam is a contributor to the Complete Trainers Toolbox, so definitely check out his squat section when you purchase your copy.


Squatting is a fantastic movement for overall lower body development and makes you a stronger more challenging person to kill. With that said, squatting is one of those movements that you find people are either in love with it, or despise it. Those who love it are often able to drop it like it’s hot and appear to have no difficulty with the movement. In contrast, those who usually aren’t big fans tend to be the ones that also struggle with the movement feeling comfortable, aren’t able to get good depth, and generally skip it as much as possible.


For most people who struggle with squatting there are some easy ways to improve their squat quickly. Using these easy solutions we can take the person from avoiding it, to crushing it with aptitude, becoming a squat advocate. Below are three easy solutions you can add to your training or your client’s training instantly and see them go from squat struggles to squat sultan.


  1. Heel elevation

Image link –

See how happy she is from that heel elevation?


If you’ve ever watched olympic style weightlifting, you probably noticed the athletes wear shoes with a heel elevation. This done with purposefully intent to allow a more upright and deeper receiving position (overhead squat or front squat).


Having the heel elevated helps to bias the ankle and provide pseudo ankle dorsiflexion for the tibia to translate forward – AKA let’s the knee go more forward. As this happens it let’s individuals sit more straight down and stay more upright, something which we are often coaching people to try and do.

Image link –


A small heel lift in the form of a 2.5lbs plate under each heel, a workout wedge, or some lifting shoes will accomplish the task. The wedges and shoes are a better option than the plate for safety.


Some may argue that elevating the heels isn’t functional, but let’s just keep in mind that this is a means to an end for improved performance and enjoyment, which we can progress away from in time.


  1. Anterior load

Image link –


Elevating the heels may not be right for everyone, or it might not be enough for others. Another great option is transitioning your weight anteriorly – such as a goblet squat, front squat, or zercher squat. Each of these variations helps to move the load forward in front of the torso, allowing a greater degree of posterior weight shifting without losing your balance.


The easiest option for most people is a goblet squat to start learning and find instant success. However, for those who start to push themselves and get up in weight, a goblet squat can be very limiting and more of a challenge to the arms/upper body than the legs. That’s where the front squat and zercher squat come in. Assuming you learn how to hold the bar in the front squat, it can be loaded up quite heavy without much discomfort. For the zercher, a good bar pad is clutch and can accommodate some significant loading.


Goblet Squat –

Front Squat –

Zercher Squat –


  1. Tempo

The above options are great, but they require changing the movement and for some people that might not be desirable. That’s where this third tip comes in – adjusting tempo. Utilizing a different scheme for the descent, time in the bottom, ascent, and time at the top can be a phenomenal adjustment.


For example, a lot of people will lower down over a course of half a second to 1 second, hit a challenging spot, then reverse up. If instead we transition that to a tempo of 3:1:3:1 where we lower over the course of three seconds, pause at the bottom, come up slowly over the course of three seconds, and pause momentarily at the top, that person will likely be able to achieve better depth and have more control over the movement.


Generally slowing down the descent, having a pause in the bottom, and having a controlled ascent is a great way to work on the control of the movement and clean up a lot of things quickly. You will need to lower the amount of weight you use, but you’ll get more control on the movement to allow you to lift more weight in the future.

If you want to learn more easy solutions and long term solutions for squat form and so much more on squatting, check out my presentation All Things Squats, Knees, and Hips as a part of the complete trainer’s toolbox. It’s on launch sale pricing for $100 off the regular price until Sunday February 17th at midnight, so act now to get the entire package and save some money.



Click HERE for more info and to get your copy


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Mental Skills for Big Lifts (And small ones too!)

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 06:50

Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Lisa Lewis, EdD, CADC-II, Licensed Psychologist, and co-contributor for The Complete Trainer’s Toolbox, which she’s loaded chock full of awesome Jedi Mind Tricks to help take your mental strength to the same level as your deadlift.



Not that long ago, my husband was preparing to attempt a 600lb deadlift. He had been working toward this goal for some time, and as the big day approached, I noticed him expressing mostly anticipation, but also some doubt. Physically, he was prepared. But mentally, there were thoughts and feelings that were getting in the way of his well-earned confidence and excitement.


As a licensed psychologist and performance consultant, I offered my assistance. Although weight training, and exercise overall, is physical, psychological skills and habits strongly influence motivation, persistence, effort, and performance. Whether you are a trainer, coach, or a fitness enthusiast, you know that your thoughts, feelings, and expectations strongly influence how things go in the gym.


The psychological, or mental skillsthat I reviewed with my husband were brief, and focused on the goal of picking 600 pounds up from the ground. These very same techniques can be useful to you, and/or your clients, when doubt, worry, or even anxiety are getting in the way of specific achievements, or fitness progress in general.


Here is a quick summary of three easy approaches to decreasing performance anxiety and practicing mental preparation for big (or even small) lifts:


  1. Review the data:

What have you done to prepare for this goal? Have you completed your sets? Reps? Have you progressed your weight? Performed variations of the deadlift? Gotten in the requisite volume?

(To all of these questions, my husband answered, “Yeah!” He recognized that he had done everything he needed to, in order to pull 600lbs off the ground.)


  1. See the moment:

What will it be like when you pick up 600lbs? What will you do just before? Where will you be? Will anyone be there? Will you film it? What will you be feeling? What will you be wearing? What will be your routine, your process for going to the bar, and picking it up? Walk me through the execution of the lift… What will it feel like after you put the bar back down?

(This narration of the day, it’s circumstances, and the routine helped to visualize success, and work out some of the details, so that perfect execution seemed likely.)


  1. Imagine the worst:

What’s the worst that could happen? And if that happened, what would that mean about you? How would you feel? What would you do after that?

(In the face of anxiety, imagining the worst possible outcome can often remind us that failure isn’t really that terrible, and can often be the next step in the process of success. Walking through the worst-case-scenario with my husband removed the anxiety – and put into perspective the long game – which is to get strong, and stay that way.)


As you’ve probably already guessed, my husband did indeed deadlift 600 lbs. The physical preparation got him there, but the mental preparation relaxed, focused, and energized him, so that he could accomplish what he was ready for. These easy-to-use mental strategies can be useful to all coaches and clients, at all levels of fitness!

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600 lb club, son. It's been a long time coming, but I finally hit my 600 lb DL. I was soooo nervous all morning thinking about today's training session knowing the attempt was on the docket. All told it felt (and looked) pretty darn good. I want to thank @strengthhousegreg for his coaching throughout the process, my wife for the Jedi-like mindset strategies she gave me last night and this morning, and my 12th grade English teacher, Ms. Davie, just because.

A post shared by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on Oct 13, 2017 at 11:08am PDT


Add Psychological Skills to your fitness Toolbox

Your training and physical preparation is central to your goals in the gym, but mental preparation and mental skills enhance your performance, and remove psychological barriers from getting in the way of your achievements.


In the Complete Trainer’s Toolbox, I add mental skills training to the variety of exercises, assessments, and physical skills provided by strength coaches, trainers, and physical therapists. In the Complete Trainer’s Toolbox, I offer a one hour lecture on motivation, covering it’s nature, varieties, and techniques for enhancing and sustaining motivation within yourself and your clients. In a second one hour lecture, I address negative thinking, it’s impact on training and on you, as a fitness professional, and then provide strategies for minimizing, reframing, and changing negative thinking, all in the name of progress in the gym.

Check out the Complete Trainer’s Toolbox to see the variety of other fitness professionals and topics included. You will find a comprehensive source of education that includes applicable, actionable strategies to use in the gym. Thank you, and good luck with your big (and small) lifts!


The Complete Trainers Toolbox is available for a launch sale pricing for $100 off the regular price until Sunday February 17th at midnight. Get Lisa’s presentations, as well as an additional 15+ hours of digital video content, continuing education credits, and a crisp internet high five from yours truly.

Click HERE to for more info and to purchase.


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The Complete Trainers Toolbox is Available Now!

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 20:47

I’m really excited to release a new product today, The Complete Trainers Toolbox, a collaborative project between myself as well as Tony Gentilcore, Dr. Lisa Lewis, Luke Worthington, Dr. Sam Spinelli, Kellie Davis, Dr. Sarah Ellis Duvall, Meghan Callaway, and Alex Kraszewski.


The basis for why we wanted to produce a product like this is pretty simple: most trainers have awesome skill-sets and knowledge, but may need some advice or help when it comes to specific situations.

Some of the common questions I get all the time from trainers are things like:

  • How do I program for that exercise, or for this specific situation?
  • What do I do if a deadlift bothers my clients back?
  • My client can’t squat without knee pain, what do I do?
  • How can I help my clients get their first pullup and then their 5th?
  • My post-natal client has some core and pelvic floor issues, how do I progress them into lifting?
  • How can I get better at assessments?
  • I have clients that always complain and never seem to be motivated to workout, how can I help them?
  • how can I get better at marketing my services to clients and finding better quality leads?
  • I want to get published in different magazines, so how can I get better at writing?

This series covers all of these bases, and more, in convenient home-study webinars. Think of it like a conference you can attend without having to take time off work, pay travel expenses, or make awkward small talk with people at social gatherings.

With 17 hours of digital video content, 9 presenters from 3 countries, including strength coaches, physical therapists, and a psychologist, we cover a ton of bases with expert insights to help give specific actionable information to help you make better choices for your clients and produce better results immediately.

The product is also approved for continuing education credits through the NSCA, which can also be used to petition for credit through other organizations you may be certified through.

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Coming February 2019

A post shared by Dean somerset (@dsomerset1) on Jan 12, 2019 at 6:02pm PST


From now until Sunday, February 17th 2019 at midnight, we’re launching the entire series for $100 off the regular price. You can get the entire series – all 17 hours of content, continuing education credits, and decades of accumulated knowledge – all for only $197 US.


Click HERE for more info and to get your copy today


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Stuff to Check Out: Post Groundhog Day Edition

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 11:01

I still can’t believe we look to small domestic rodents to predict the weather. In Edmonton even if he sees his shadow, it’s a guarantee we have at least another 6 weeks of winter.

So let’s go through some stuff to help keep you warm



The Complete Trainers Toolbox is a collaborative product featuring Tony Gentilcore, Dr. Lisa Lewis, Dr. Sarah Duvall, Luke Worthington, Dr. Sam Spinelli, Alex Kraszewski, Meghan Callaway, Kellie Davis, and yours truly. We’re launching it on Tuesday February 12th, so get ready to have your minds blown.

The product isn’t live yet, so just be patient and we’ll make sure it’s worth the wait.


Workshop Stuff

Even More Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint is coming to the following locations in 2019:

Philadelphia, PA April 27-28
Edmonton, Alberta Canada Ma7 25-26
Sydney Australia July 13-14
Singapore, Republic of Singapore July 20-21

Click HERE for more information and to register. Early bird pricing is still available for each location, so register now to save some money.



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1-minute mobility flow If you hate spending time on slow isolation mobility drills, try using something like this flow sequence. It gets your hips moving through flexion, internal & external rotation, extension and even some abduction to boot, plus makes you work on balance, core control, and your ability to keep up with the beat. You’ll also look like a damn ninja when you bust this out, which is always good to see. #mobility #ninja #breakdancefighting #blessed

A post shared by Dean somerset (@dsomerset1) on Feb 1, 2019 at 9:09am PST

I had a client train with me after working through many other trainers. She said she'd work with me forever because of 3 simple things: "You show up, you're on time & you have a plan ready. None of the others were ever able to do all 3 at once." It's a low bar. Hit it every time.

— Dean Somerset (@deansomerset) December 7, 2018



I had the opportunity to appear on a bunch of really great podcasts in the past few weeks:

3 Things Podcast with Casey LeeiTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and Soundcloud

FitnessProfessional Online Podcast with Eric Malzone – Click HERE to listen

The Lifestyle Chase with Chris Liddle – Click HERE for iTunes, and search “Lifestyle Chase” for other podcast hosting sites



For those old-school folks who like to read words written with letters, here’s a few articles to satiate your desires.


What 3 Hybrid Physical Therapist/Strength Coaches Want You To Know About Pain, Exercise and

This was an awesome article with solid overviews of pain science, movement competency, and approaches very knowledgeable and practically skilled professionals use when describing pain or movement issues to their clients and patients.


6 Random Thoughts On Programming for and Coaching Young AthletesMike Robertson

One thing I love about reading Mike’s work is seeing where we agree and where he sheds light on potential blind spots I have in my own approaches. I picked out a lot of blind spots on this piece.


The Big Toe and the SquatTony Gentilcore

One of the first places I look when coaching someone’s squat is at their feet to see what’s happening during their eccentric phase. Tony writes a great outline of why feet on the squat matter, but specifically where that cheeky big toe may wind up in some less than perfect examples of squatting success.


Enjoy the rest of the week and stay warm, fam!

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Do Leg Length Discrepancies Actually Matter?

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 09:25

Over the years I’ve had a lot of clients with various ailments say they have been diagnosed by different medical practitioners as having a leg length discrepancy, where one leg is longer than the other, and that this difference is a causative or contributing factor to their problems.

Image credit:–conditions/limb-length-discrepancy/

In many cases, the leg length isn’t notably different like the pic above. They’re more minor, usually within 10-15 mm, which seems like a pretty small difference to be causing so many issues.

Usually the recommendation to correct this is to use various shoe inserts, from heel pads to insoles, and even custom-made shoes to help relieve some of the difference between the legs.
In today’s post, I wanted to delve into this topic with some specific questions:

  • How accurate are the assessments for leg length?
  • Is there evidence in the research to show this difference actually causes or contributes to mechanical dysfunction?
  • Do shoe inserts actually provide any benefit to treating this condition?

But first, let’s talk about what leg length discrepancies actually are.

True Leg Length Discrepancy: This is where the bones are longer on one side than the other. Some studies have found that up to 90% of the population has a measurable difference in leg length,  with 20% showing a difference in length larger than 9mm, or almost half an inch.

Functional Leg Length Discrepancy: This is when the joint on one side don’t line up in the same way as the other, like with a flat foot, valgus collapse on one knee, torsioned pelvis, etc, which causes the impression of a short leg.

Kamis. J Orthop. 2017 Jun; 14(2): 276–280.


How Accurate are Assessments?

Common approaches to measuring leg length differences are to use wooden blocks to achieve a “neutral” pelvic position, as shown above, as well as tape measurements to measure the length of femurs and tibias on both sides of the body. While these are cost-effective and easy to administer, the accuracy and reliability may be considerably low.

Hanada et al (2001) showed that while tape measurements could be easily reproduced with a high degree of agreement, but only moderate validity compared to radiographic measurements, and only in normal pelvii without gross asymmetry. As I’ve shown previously, you can have a significant difference between left and right hips, within what would be classified as “normal” ranges.

Frieberg et al (Int Disabit Stud. 1988;10(2):49–53) found the error of tape measures was plus/minus 8.4 mm compared to radiologic measurements. They also found the indirect method of using wood blocks to level the pelvis lead to a 53% erroneous measurement rate when leg length differences were greater than 5 mm.

To compound the measurement issues, Gurney showed that clinicians have trouble determining what constitutes a discrepancy requiring intervention, with some citing differences of 5mm or less, and others not worrying until the difference is greater than 20-30mm. With common clinical measurements listed above having relative error rates of 5-10mm, and no specific agreement as to a cut-off point as to when to intervene, it’s tough to say what quantified measured difference is important, especially at lower differences.

Interestingly, few studies compare leg length differences as a factor relative to the individuals’ height, which is strange as a 5 mm difference would be a larger relative difference to someone who is only 5 foot tall compared to someone who is 6’6″.

So to recap:

  • Error in clinical measurements can be anywhere from 5-10 mm plus or minus
  • no established cut off as to what would be significant enough to warrant intervention
  • most measures don’t take into account the individuals height,


Evidence It Contributes To Dysfunction?

The existing body of research has done a rough job at determining if leg length differences are a challenge, how much of a difference is required to affect the individual, what interventions would be most appropriate, and what those interventions success rates actually are.

A metanalysis from Azizan et al showed that while kinematic differences did exist in both gait and balance considerations with increasing leg length differences, there were no discernable differences in those who had symptoms associated with their leg length differences and asymptomatic test subjects, when matched for discrepancy size. The biggest differences came in those with leg length discrepancies following knee and hip replacement surgeries.

Interestingly, the type of approach used for a total hip replacement could affect the size of the post-operative discrepancy, but not very often. Debi et al showed that direct anterior approaches could have a range of discrepancy of -6 to +5mm, lateral approaches had a range of -22 to +14 mm, however the occurrence of a discrepancy greater than 10 mm was only 2.1%

Further in total hip replacement categories, many studies have found that complete reduction of discrepancy realistically can’t happen, even through precise surgical measurements. Some studies have shown there is no correlation to post-operative outcomes and any leg length discrepancies. Others showed that with relatively large differences, patients who were made aware of a leg length difference were less satisfied and required more mobility assistance following their surgery.

in lumbar disc herniation patients (L4-5 and L5S1 predominantly), ten Brinke et al showed pain affecting the short side leg (measured as greater than 1mm. Wait what??) was essentially a coin flip, with 43.8% of men having symptoms into their shorter leg, and 55.9% of women having their shorter leg affected.

Betsch et al simulated difference with various height wood blocks and observed some mild pelvic torsion and repositioning as simulated discrepancies increased, but did not observe any more than minor spinal positional changes with these increasing differences.

So in people going through a total hip replacement, there’s no consensus as to whether a leg length difference is a factor in mobility issues, pain, or other functions, and there’s no clearly defined cut-off as to a difference that would be considered clinically significant.

Even more interesting, comparing trans-femoral amputees with back pain and without back pain, Morgenroth et al found there was no statistical association with limb length and back pain prevalence. Esposito & Russell compared amputees with and without back pain to able-bodied controls, and found pelvic and trunk coordination in amputees with back pain and able-bodied controls with back pain were similar, and the only notable difference between gait patterns of asymptomatic amputees and back pain amputees was in the transverse plane.

So to recap:

  • No specific discrepancy shown to affect symptoms, gait mechanics, etc
  • no agreement following total hip replacement as to whether leg length discrepancy is impactful on quality of life, or even what the size of that discrepancy would be that could affect quality of life
  • no specific difference in back pain prevalence among amputees with various differences in measured and prosthetic-aided leg length discrepancies, and only small differences in gait mechanics in continuous relative phase measurements between asymptomatic amputees and non-pained able-bodied controls


Do Insoles Actually Provide Any Benefit?

The main purpose to using an insole or insert is to minimize the leg length difference, so if it’s an effective treatment for this condition, the research should show that fairly consistently, or at least give some success rates of this application.

There are a number of studies that show use of inserts are very beneficial, however it should be noted these studies showed the greatest outcomes at differences of 10 mm or less, and as mentioned earlier, most clinical assessments have an error rate of 5-10 mm, and many researchers caution against providing treatments for differences of under 10 mm, or less than 1/2 inch.

In distance runners, Gross et al showed inserts were beneficial for reducing or greatly improving symptoms associated with running, of which leg length discrepancy was a factor in the subjects self-reported responses of injuries (13.5% of conditions reported).

A systematic review of all literature by Campbell et al showed there was low quality evidence, but evidence nonetheless, that orthotics could positively affect low back pain. However the author noted that many of the studies with a very broad effect size through studies.

So to recap:

  • inserts used for less than 10 mm discrepancies seem beneficial, but errors in measurement may reduce this benefit to simple placebo.
  • Runners with a higher impact and mileage, who are symptomatic for various lower leg issues, can benefit from inserts, but much of the data for other participants needs to be carried out with higher quality studies.
  • There’s no agreement as to whether inserts relieve symptoms based on the breadth of the available research



In general, there doesn’t seem to be much of a consensus on the role of a leg length issue in injuries, tissue tolerances, stressors through the knees, hips or low back. There’s also significant measurement issues, especially for any diagnosis of discrepancies of less than 10 mm.

Amputees, who could be said to have the most extreme case of leg length discrepancies, don’t show consistency when it comes to symptoms relative to the length and fit of prosthesis, and when compared to able-bodied controls, symptomatic and asymptomatic amputees don’t seem to present differently relative to their impacted leg length discrepancy.

Inserts don’t seem to have definitive success rate when it comes to relieving symptoms believed to be related to leg length discrepancies, other than a possible placebo effect.



So what do you do if you have a leg length discrepancy that you feel is causing you issues? There’s a few options you could go through for conservative treatments and training.

  1. Physio or manual therapy to help with any overworked tissues, retrain joint alignment as much as possible, and improve balance. These seem have big effects on managing symptoms with as much success as anything.
  2. Try inserts if you have a medical plan that will pay for them. If not, they can be a few hundred bucks, so weigh the pro with the cons on that one. Just note that semi-solid or soft inserts will wear out within a couple years, so you’ll have to buy new ones down the road if you do notice a benefit. If you don’t feel a significant benefit within a few weeks, it’s probably not benefitting you much at all. Before you shell out though, go to a drug store and get a cheap set of Dr. Scholls inserts and see if they make any tangible difference. They go for only a couple of dollars.
  3. Do more unilateral leg training to avoid getting stuck in a bilateral stance, especially under loading. Alternatively, if you want to do bilateral stuff like squats or deadlifts, play with your stance to see if an asymmetric stance makes you feel more stable and strong.split squats, single leg deadlifts, and lunges are all awesome variations that should be in your program already.
  4. Walk on varied surfaces as much as possible. We have a huge variability in our bodies and we can adapt to a lot of stuff, so putting your body in a position where it doesn’t have to conform to a constantly flat and level footing can go a long way to avoiding potential movement pattern overload, which may contribute to symptoms associated with leg length issues.
  5. Train in a variety of movements, directions, and loading scenarios. Variety helps break up monotony, and bodies seem to enjoy a little spice on occasion.

One thing that’s also worth noting is that it’s really difficult to connect the dots between a potential biomechanical feature and pain. Pain is a multifactorial concept, and often biomechanics are simply a small part of that. The body is great at compensating to find the least energetically expensive and least painful way of doing things, so if that means the longer leg winds up with a flatter arch, a rotated knee, or slightly asymmetrical stance, it will find a way. This isn’t to say that there isn’t a connection with biomechanics, but that only chasing a treatment of reducing the potential discrepancy likely won’t fix all of the problems that may be contributing to pain, symptoms, or side effects of treatment.


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Snapping Hips on Dead Bugs

Tue, 01/29/2019 - 10:31

I love giving out dead bugs to clients. It’s one of the best core exercises to teach bracing, rib positioning, breathing under tension, and doing it all in a way that doesn’t smash out the spine with a ton of shear force or compression.

However, it’s not all sunshine and puppy snuggles. Occasionally people may experience some anterior hip pain with these, or a sensation of something popping in the front of the hip as they lower a leg. There’s a few potential reasons for this, from the psoas tendon sliding back and forth over a portion of the femoral head, to the tensor fascia latae doing something similar, all the way to an anterior labral tear.

In each case, the movement of the hip through eccentric action puts stress on something in the front of the hip, and makes for an uncomfortable sensation.

In most instances, this is more of an annoyance than a specific injury or a problem. If it doesn’t hurt during the movement, it’s likely a pretty minor thing, but that doesn’t mean you want to continue hating the process while getting your dead bug on.

There are a few things you could do to reduce the possibility of this happening. First, it may come down to changing how you brace your abs, with more of an emphasis on pulling the ribs down and getting more work from the obliques to help provide some stabilization that can take some of the loading off the psoas and reduce the tension in that muscle during the eccentric movement.

Another option could be to reduce the lever arm length and instead of lowering a leg flat to the floor, you lower it with a bent knee and not right to the ground.

This also has the added bonus of not stretching the psoas as far, or creating as much of a stretch to anterior hip structures that may also contribute to the snapping hip sensation. It’s a good regression that seems to help a lot of people still focus on the benefits of the movement without the discomfort.

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Cleaning Up Thoracic Rotation

Wed, 01/16/2019 - 11:08

One of the trickiest movements to get people to go through properly is thoracic rotation. There’s a lot of places that want to take the reins on this movement, like the neck, shoulder blades, low back, hips, big toe, probably left eyeball, who knows.

Part of the challenge is that thoracic vertebrae have relatively small movements from each joint, are somewhat locked down by ribs attaching to the sternum, and the underlying belief that in terms of fitness, more is always better.

So if it’s so tricky to hit up, what are some of the benefits to getting it moving? Well, as the ribs are all anchored to the T-spine (as the kids call it these days), it plays a major role in breathing mechanics. Limited T-spine motion will limit rib motion, which can affect how easy it is to breathe, and also how big of a breath you can take in.

Thoracic extension is also kind of a big deal when it comes to scapular motion too. You need a degree of extension to retract and the scapula, and also to allow for overhead motion, and rotation comes in to play with any kind of gait or throwing motion, so a limit in this areas ability to move can have a ripple effect to a lot of other stuff you may want to do.

So how can you get more movement here without compensating and driving through the other regions mentioned above? There’s a few strategies I’ve found to be effective and will outline here today.


Block the Movement

If you notice that you’re getting a lot of lateral hip sway on a 3 point rotation, you could do something like set up with your hips against a wall to help prevent that movement from happening.

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Block the movement you don’t want.

How to Eat Right and Exercise When You Absolutely Hate to Eat Right and Exercise

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 09:33
I totally get it.

I have days and even weeks where eating vegetables and limiting sweets is more of a challenge than they should be. I have periods of the year where working out is the last thing I want to do, and often gets pushed to the side in favour of other pursuits, such as work, changing lightbulbs, steam cleaning my carpet, or standing in line for a back alley dental appointment.

I have a lot of clients who feel the same way. Some actively avoid eating vegetables in favour of literally eating anything else. Some feel their workouts are a low point of their week in spite of the sparkling conversationalist and witty raconteur they spend an hour or two with each week in yours truly.


Sometimes it can simply be a matter of framing. Instead of saying “I hate vegetables,” enthusiastically screaming inside your own head that “I FUCKING LOVE VEGETABLES!!” can make a massive difference in how you approach them. Maybe look at cooking them differently or having them prepared somewhere new. My wife and I love watching Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain because the focus is on people, cultures, communities and cuisine. It’s amazing how many different ways there are to cook something like a potato, and how much variation rice can have from one region of the world to another. So instead of only steaming broccolli, throw in some eggplant, bake some butternut squash, slap together a Greek salad, or get wild with asparagus.

Did that work for you? Cool.

Oh, it didn’t? You actually still hate vegetables? Well, I feel your pain. If given the choice between a pack of cookies or a salad, I’m going to crush those golden discs of deliciousness 9 times out of 10 over a bowl of my foods food.

That being said, there are a lot of other things that I hate but will still do:

  • paying taxes
  • shovelling snow
  • emptying the dishwasher
  • picking up my dogs’ poop when they go for a walk
  • wearing pants

These things are all terrible and uncomfortable at the best of times, but they still get done. In Ray Dalio’s book Principles, he talks about cause and effect relationships, but specifically first, second and third order effects from our decisions and actions.

The first order effect of paying taxes is I have less money at the moment. The second order effects are I don’t get charged additional interest on missed payments, and the third order is I don’t get collection letters or an affected credit score as a result of missing for a long time.

If I don’t empty the dishwasher, I have fewer clean dishes to make and eat food from later, which will likely make my wife mad, and no one likes when their spouse is angry.

And pants just suck, but being cold sucks a lot more.

So for exercise, I totally get why someone may not enjoy it. You sometimes hurt or have some discomfort from the work, you sweat and likely smell kinda bad during the activity, and then you get DOMS following the workout for a few days. Those are some strong first order effects that makes Netflix and Chill sound way more appealing.

However on the second order benefits, they’re a bit less immediately tangible, such as improved health variables, better body composition, and energy to do other things you may enjoy, such as Netflix and Chill, but with more energy and fitness.

It’s like saving for your retirement when you’re 20, versus wishing you’d saved for your retirement when you’re 60. Sure, a 401k or RRSP sound boring as hell compared to bottle service at the club or a vacation overseas for a month, but like Jay Z said”You know what’s more important than throwin money away at the strip club? Credit.”

There’s a highly scientific term that describes long term planning for benefit down the road versus chasing instant gratification.

dan John had a great concept in a presentation I saw him give in Norway a few years ago where he implored his athletes and clients to “eat like an adult,” by which he meant to prepare food and eat foods that would give second and third order benefits versus just chasing the first order taste satiating benefits.

Now the great thing about eating is that we have multiple chances each day to do it. You could choose to eat more vegetables in one meal, spread them out throughout the day, or whatever you like. You’re not required to eat any specific way or on any specific schedule, but it may help to simply plan things out for a couple of days ahead of time so you’re not scrambling to find something at lunch on Wednesday and only having some form of street meat or pizza available within a 5 block radius. Being hangry tends to lead to poor choices when it comes to food intake.

As for exercise, while you may not quite feel like you’re in the mix of Eric Prydz music video “Call on Me” (Google that for a blast from the past), the idea of better health and function 30-40 years from now may be too obtuse of a concept to justify, especially if you hate every first order benefit.

For this, I try to get clients to think of a performance goal they’d like to train towards, a goal activity they’d like to accomplish, or even just include the odd game or challenge within the mix that doesn’t feel like an “exercise,” but may feel more like playing or just having fun. this can work really well with people who aren’t super analytical and need a specific linear justification for every exercise, and can accept that sometimes things should be done because they’re fun, and the pursuit of fun is reason enough to do it.

Or, when in doubt, exercise like an adult.

Make it a part of your work week, scheduled out like your meeting with Gladys from HR or like how you’re (supposed to) brush your teeth every day. Do you ever get excited to brush? Probably not, unless you’re some extreme weirdo, but who am I to judge with my non-pants lovin ass?

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Stuff to Check Out: New Years 2019 Edition

Thu, 01/03/2019 - 09:51

If you were anything like me, you spent New Years Eve at home and were in bed by 10. The life of a party animal, am I right?

Cool. Let’s dive right into the stuff.


Workshop Stuff

Even More Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint

Tony Gentilcore and I are continuing our new content series with dates in Philadelphia PA (April 27-28), Edmonton AB Canada (May 25-26), Sydney Australia (July 13-14), and even better, all events are available for early bird rates and continuing education credits.

Click HERE for more info


Social Media Stuff

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Squatting with your knees past your toes won't make your knees explode.a weak VMO doesn't cause patellar tracking…

Posted by Dean Somerset on Wednesday, December 12, 2018

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I still don’t understand the level of gritting needed to convince people to put oil or butter in their coffee as a means to lose weight. But here we are.

A post shared by Dean somerset (@dsomerset1) on Nov 2, 2018 at 5:53am PDT


Other Stuff

Muscle & Strength Pyramids

This is a really cool resource with a TON of scientific research, real-world applications, and actionable steps any reader can use to get more from their training and nutrition, immediately. Authored by Dr. Eric Helms, Andy Morgan, and Andrea Valdez, this resource should be a must-have on any trainer, nutritionist, or exercise fanatic’s digital bookshelves. You can also select either the training pyramid, the nutrition pyramid, or both.

Click HERE for more info


Pain Free Performance podcast – Landon Poburan

I had the chance to sit down and discuss training, injuries, and life in the frozen tundra of Edmonton with a fellow Edmontonian, Landon Poburan.

Click HERE to listen to more


Evolve Strength Will Kill Your Boring Gym – Xenia Kavoun

This was a pretty interesting read, as it was about the gym I train at, and from the point of view of the consumer, not simply marketing drivel from someone who thinks they know what a consumer would want.

Click HERE to read more


Your Hips Don’t Go Out Of Place – Barbell Rehab

This was an awesome piece that goes into some of the anatomical elements that may or may not contribute to a hip “going out.” It’s sort of like a slipped disc, which is somewhat non-specific, and likely to not ever happen in reality.

Click HERE to read more


Alright you bunch of hooligans, stop curling in the squat rack, spitting in the garbage, and unlace the construction boots you’re wearing into the gym, and give these stuffs a look. Enjoy!

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Possible Trends for 2019

Tue, 01/01/2019 - 11:44

It’s a new year, which means people are making plans to do big things and lead better lives. In the fitness industry, that means ramping up marketing of every possible workout plan, diet, coaching sale, and whatever else people could do to help capitalize on that fresh motivation to get fit and have fun in the gym.

Just like last year. And the year before that. And the year before that.

Today’s post isn’t going to talk about any of that, but stuff that I think will likely happen across the industry, more so from just observing trends and where things seem to be going versus any bold crystal ball type predictions.

I see gainz in your future.


#1: A Social Media ReBoot

This past year saw a big microscope put on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter in terms of how they protect personal information, privacy, and what kind of content they’ll tolerate versus ban. Additionally, there were some algorithm changes on public and business pages on Facebook that throttled content view unless posts were boosted, making it a less effective method of sharing content than others. Instagram included stories and IGTV in an attempt to suffocate other sites like Snapchat and Youtube, the results of which may be mixed.

The big effect from this is that people are changing how they interact on social media. It’s no longer enough to just share a post or web link on Facebook and expect it to reach a broad audience. People will be changing their social preferences, the sites will change their algorithms, and everyone will be left trying to figure out how to reach their audiences.

Instagram seems to be the preferred medium for a lot of people at the moment, which is great, but if they ever change the algorithm or how they promote or share your content over others, it’s going to have a big effect again, and then it’s on to the next site.

A downside to this is that a lot of the amazing content being shared on social media sites isn’t indexed for search functions, meaning if someone goes on to Google and types in a search, they likely won’t find the specific info a trainer is putting out as they index social posts quite low.

This brings me to point number 2.


#2: A Return To Blogging

Blogs and personal/business websites give a couple of very specific and highly valuable benefits over a social media account:

  1. Ability to develop an email list – If someone follows you on social media, the odds of them seeing a post you put up is around 3-5%. If someone signs up for your newsletter, the odds of them seeing your email is close to if not 100%.
  2. You can embed links much easier, and direct traffic away from the posts to other sites with considerably less pushback than from a social network. This makes it easier to produce digital sales, show options for secondary services, and promote similar services to the content you’re producing.
  3. Indexed content – you can do a Google search on my name and any training topic, and if I’ve written about it, you’ll find a result from it. in fact, if you do an image search for “women’s adductor machine,” yours truly is still ranked in the #4 position 5 years later.

I bet you’re proud of your boy, right mom?

I don’t mean that social sites like Instagram will die away, but I just see more people coming back to a proven platform with a higher rate of engagement from their audiences, plus easier marketability and monetization. It would be very beneficial for any person on a social site dedicated to producing great content, infographics, or video content to also put that content on a blog so it can reap the benefits listed above. It may take an additional 5-10 minutes of work to cross-post, but the payoff would be worth the effort.


#3: A Return to In-Person Coaching

In the past 10 years, there’s been a massive rise in a portion of the fitness industry that didn’t even exist a generation ago: online coaching. This is a great option to give trainers access to a global market versus just relying on a local geography, removes them from potential local economic factors, and makes their “office” fairly borderless.

I’ve used online coaching to work with a broad spectrum of people all over the world, and it definitely gives some economic benefits and freedoms, but also comes with a bit of an undiscussed price.

One of the big benefits of coaching people in person is actually socializing and meeting with people, you know, in person. Not through a computer screen, keyboard, or mouse click. There’s no replacement that you could find in online coaching for a heartfelt high five or hands on real-time coaching, so while online coaching provides some very specific benefits, in person coaching provides others.

I’ve seen a trend where people who had very successful online businesses have started either opening their own gyms, returned to working with real life people more regularly, or are in some way doing more face to face training with clients than previously, and I think that’s something we’ll see more commonly in the coming year.

The development of a hybrid training business is likely to be taking a bigger shift than an either/or concept of in person or online exclusively. More trainers will use in-person with online making up a portion of their revenue. The size of that portion depends on them and their business model, but I see it becoming more prevalent.

This can give some really great benefits as the use of online platforms can benefit in-person clients through access to apps, online resources, etc, and give clients who may not be able to work with someone in-person any more (finances, moving, logistics of work, etc) a chance to continue working with their favourite trainer.


#4: More Celebrity BS, Detoxes, and Unsupported Advice. But With More Scrutiny

Wraps, detoxes, cleanses, and unsupported opinions and sales pitches will continue, because snake oil still sells. The good news is there are way more highly educated people pushing back with a combination of facts and charisma to help make a claim against such things. Fighting the war against pseudoscience takes a blend of Albert Einstein and P.T. Barnum, and there are more of these kinds of people out there than at any other time I can remember, which means the pushback against the charlatans of the world is getting louder, more precise, and with a larger population behind them than at any time before. We’ll see more myths busted, learn more about what works, and push back harder against fear and junk science.


#5: More Technology

This could go with online training, but I’ve also seen a big advance in wearable and performance technology in the past few years. As one example, Velocity Based Training used to be exclusively the domain of high end Tendo units, but more options like PUSH bands and Bar Sensei sensors have made the technology easier to afford, and updated apps have made it considerably easier to include in a trainers programming, even in the average fitness enthusiasts own gym bags.

We’ll see a continued expansion on meaningful devices to measure a bunch of metrics that could be valuable to a training program, which will give a lot more depth to the benefits we see and ways we can manipulate the training variables to help produce a specific result, which is awesome.

I could see the next iteration being involving some form of AI to help guide future programming based on the convergence of these data points. A really heavy workout with some great bar speeds and a solid HRV with sleep score could use AI to help populate the next workout. Changes in body composition could automatically adjust a clients dietary outline, order their meals, and set up delivery. Combining this information with digital optical measurements of blood values to ensure the persons weight loss was as easy as possible, while also being as specifically monitored as possible.

These are just thoughts on possibilities, but hey, if you want to start putting these kinds of things into action, I’ll just take a finders fee of only 3% of gross revenues on any sales these ideas may lead to.


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Surviving The Gym During January

Sun, 12/30/2018 - 11:20

We know it’s coming. It’s almost inevitable, you’re probably hearing rumblings of it now, and it’s only going to intensify.

People will complain about the gym being busier than usual in January.

I’ve never understood why people would complain about more people being in a gym. The main goal of the health and fitness industry is to get people to exercise, so if there are more people in the gym, that’s kind of a good thing, right? I mean, more people working out means less people subject to sedentary health issues, more money for gyms and personal trainers, which can help lead to expansions and more space, or more high quality equipment to get your swole on, and a generally better experience at the end of the day, right?

Some of these new members may even be long term members who become your best friends, or just the random person you give a chin nod to when you’re walking in opposite directions by the change room.

So yes, the gym will be a bit busier than usual, and hopefully the influx of people starting up or coming back sticks around for more people, or for a longer time for the people who are there, but in the mean time, you can adjust your workouts slightly to still get jacked and smash PRs, while also being a functioning member of society in general. And because I’m a giver, I’m going to show a few simple ways you can get the most from your workouts during this dark and grey month.


Option #1: Ditch Supersets and Circuits in Favour of Straight Sets

When the gym is busy, equipment is at a bit of a premium, and it can be tough to get a barbell to yourself, let alone a bar, bench, rings, plyo box, band, bosu, monolift, and 3 treamills to replicate the greatest treadmill dance music video ever made, AMRAP.


So instead of getting your conditioning with 15 exercises linked together, try doing some straight sets of a single exercise or using a single piece of equipment, then move on to another one once you’re finished with the first. If you want conditioning, you can easily swing a kettlebell, rock out Rocky style with a jump rope, hit up a spin bike, or just double the volume of the work you’re doing on each set and see if you can smell colours.


Option #2: Find Out When The Peak Hours At Your Gym Are And Avoid Them

If your gym is in a city centre, it’s likely the peak hours will revolve around a 9-5 work schedule, meaning it will be busy between 6-8am, and after 4pm until likely around 7, with the possibility of a busy lunch hour or two. This means if you can avoid those hours, you’ll likely have the place all to your self. If you’re in a suburban region, the hours may be a bit different, and if you work in a specialty facility, it may also be different, but these seem to be the most common peak hours.

If your schedule allows some flexibility to avoid these hours, try to do that. If you clock in and out at regular human hours and have to pick your poison of before or after work, there’s 2 big things to consider.

First, if you’re working out before work, the change room will actually be busier than the gym as people are getting ready to head in to work. This means changing into dress clothes, doing their hair/makeup/shaving/other, and essentially creating a premium for bench and sink space.

In the after-work crowd, fewer people are getting dolled up after their workouts, meaning the change room will be less crowded towards crunch time when everyone has to get out to get to work. What this means is if you have to get ready to head to work, show up a bit early and cut the workout a bit short to have a better chance of not being elbowed out of the change room space.

Option #3: Do More Body Weight or Non-machine based training

It’s tough to get in some squats when everyone’s lining up for curls, so maybe it could be worthwhile to sub out barbell squats for a couple weeks for some higher volume Goblet squats.


Maybe instead of endless sets of bench press, you sub in some band loaded pushups.


Do some single leg work, like split squats, lunges, or single leg deadlifts. You know you need to anyway, so now’s as good a time as any to get them in.


Option #4: Have a Plan A, and Also a Plan B

Having a plan is right up there with having shoes and doing a pre-game in terms of important stuff to consider when getting to the gym. The challenge comes down to looking at your workout, then looking at the gym and seeing everything you had schedule is currently being done by everyone else in the place, making you look like casual-confused guy strolling around and taking stock.

The good thing to consider is that if you have a plan B of your workout, you might be able to still salvage something. Everyone’s benching on a Monday? Cool. Maybe some benches are free over by the dumbbells and you can do a dumbbell press for a few sets until a bench press frees up. You want to push the sled but everyone’s on board the carry wagon, or just doing endless lunges? No prob, maybe hit up some step ups on a bench for a vertical sled push action. All the equipment is being used? Maybe just do calf raises, by which I mean do nothing at all like you usually do for calf training.

Maybe you walked in thinking it was squat day, but instead since every squat rack was full, bench is what’s for dinner. You’re in control, so having back up options can make a massive difference in getting the best quality workout available.

This is a good idea for beginners just showing up to the gym too. Make sure you have a plan of something to do that will help you reach your goals, and that you have a back up in case what you’re trying to do is somehow not easily available.


Option #5: Just Breathe

Come Valentine’s day, you’ll be back to your regularly scheduled grind-fest, so take a breath or two, relax, enjoy the time before the Christmas credit card statement comes in, and know that you’ll survive this very mild inconvenience to your very existence.

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