I think it's fair to say that Strongman is becoming more and more popular thanks to increased exposure at events like The Arnold Classic, The CrossFit Games and hell, even NetFlix docs and TV commercials!

But like with most things that gain popularity in a relatively short period of time, there will be those out there that jump on the bandwagon because some IG influencer picked up an atlas stone and made it look cool. This is fine and all, and we do want the strongman movement to grow and flourish, but it's important to note that Strongman has literally been around since the dawn of time.


If something heavy was in our way, we moved it the best possible way we could while limiting the possibility of injury. This is called self-preservation, BTW, and it's one of the many beautiful inherent characteristics of strongman movements. But I digress.

Look, the point is that just because it's becoming cool to do strongman doesn't mean that you should simply jump right in to it. It's true, learning this stuff, or rather, remembering it doesn't take much time at all. Becoming competent at properly loading an atlas stone is literally a matter of seconds. But, as is the case with all things - there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. And in the case of strongman, it really boils down to "right" being efficient and safe, and "wrong" being inefficient and high-risk.

At TCS we do implement strongman....A LOT! It's kind of our bread and butter and what sets us apart from the vast majority of gyms. And in our time utilizing strongman movements we've seen millions of reps performed and know what the most common faults are in each movement. In the video I have posted below, I'll share a couple common mistakes that you'll probably make or see someone make and how to easily address and correct those faults. Check it out. I hope it helps y'all move those big stones!  


Does the shiny equipment with names you can't pronounce make you stronger? Maybe. However, chances are that you probably don't even know how to sit in it properly, let alone effectively use the equipment. And let's rewind just a bit...there's a major problem -- YOU'RE SITTING DOWN!

Last time I checked, working out required some work to be done. The overwhelming number of pulleys and cables, ergonomic design, or comfortable padding don't make whatever thingamajig more effective at building strength. 

In fact, it's my contention that the more simplistic a piece of equipment is, the more valuable it can be when building a stronger, tougher, fitter human.

A perfect example is the sandbag. Yes, you read that correctly. Look, If you asked me what one piece of equipment you should get so that you could start training today....the sandbag would be the golden ticket.

Let's just look at the benefits of building and training with a sandbag:

  • Sand is cheap
  • Duffle bags are cheap
  • Trash bags and duct tape are cheap
  • You can drop sandbags on most surfaces.
  • If any part of the bag breaks, it's easy to fix....and you guessed's cheap.
  • You can create an appropriate weight based on your fitness level and/or exercise you're doing.
  •  It's easy (and cheap) to have several on hand for a multitude of uses. Think light, moderate and heavy.
  • I am confident that with a little imagination, you can find a way to use a sandbag to mimic any exercise you can think of.
  • Sandbags are odd objects....this is a good me.
  • Sandbags soak up your sweat and start to smell. This, too, is a good thing. It forces you to deal with something that's not convenient, sexy or easy....It develops toughness -- both physical and mental.
  • It closely replicates the tasks that life throws at you. When shit hits the fan, it doesn't come in nice, neat, easy to move packages that smell like roses. Remember that and train for it. 

I could easily keep rolling on this list, but I think this should do the trick. You get the idea by now, right?

Yes, the sandbag is incredibly simple. But in that simplicity you'll find an incredible training tool that offers unlimited versatility and, if used wisely, a potent training stimulus that will have you dropping your globo-gym membership like it's hot. 

On the Other Side

It's easy for us as humans to avoid the things that put us out of our comfort zone. In fact, you have to appreciate this safety mechanism that has allowed you to continue walking this earth for as long as you have.

Think about it. This hesitation to step out in to unchartered territory forces you to analyze, consider and make informed (not always smart or correct) decisions before just jumping right in. So, you see, being aware of your comfort zone is vital. BUT on the flipside....we all know that you've got to step outside of your bubble in order experience new and different things so as to expand your comfort zone...right?

This past weekend was definitely a practice in all of the above for me, and I'd like to share my experiences and thoughts with you. I think there will be some nuggets in here (hopefully) if you stick around. 

Saturday and Sunday found me on a private gun range in south Austin as an attendee and student of the STS (Survival & Tactical Systems) Tactical Handgun Course. Now, before we get too far into this thing...let it be known that I am a handgun "newbie". That is to say that I've not had a ton of experience handling, manipulating or firing handguns. Simply put, it's something that's relatively new to me, but my interest in becoming a competent and confident gun owner has pushed me to step out and seek coaching. And, like most things, if you want to acquire a skill - you MUST gain knowledge and experience from those that have already mastered that craft......Also known as "getting a coach".

The STS crew was comprised of 5 former special operations veterans who have become outstanding coaches through there many years of honing their skills and teaching others. In fact, during the 2-day course, I found myself drawing parallels between their coaching and mine in the strength and conditioning realm. It was a very interesting experience being on the other side of the coach - student relationship while learning a multitude of brand new skills and ideas.

At times, I found myself getting frustrated with my lack of performance in certain portions of the course, while during others I was pretty damn proud of myself for hanging in their with some very experienced shooters. It was eye-opening to say the least. I kept putting myself in the shoes of my athletes as they learn, say, the barbell clean. This is a very technical lift with many moving parts and pieces that often finds the athlete becoming frustrated that they aren't performing up to their preconceived standards. But, in both cases, the missing piece of the puzzle is not lack of effort. It's not a lack of ability. It simply boils down to a low number of quality repetitions.

Quite honestly, it was silly of me to be so frustrated that I wasn't hitting each and every target dead center. Why? I have not had a lot of quality repetitions to build and hone that particular skill. In fact, that frustration often times causes a snowball effect that only makes it harder to perform well. It's the very same for new athletes that walk in to TCS and expect to back squat 315lbs on day 2. It's not going to happen that way. There's a lot to the saying, "Repetition is the mother of skill." And I had to keep reminding myself of this fact throughout the weekend.

My frustration must've been more obvious than I thought because I noticed the STS crew (coaches) changed their approach, cues and strategies -- as any quality coach does when something is not having the desired outcome. Like I said, being on the other side of this particular dynamic was both extremely interesting and valuable. It provided me with more empathy for my athletes and their frustrations, and it brought to light some internal obstacles that , like obstacles do, get in the way of progress. 

In either case, the weekend course exceeded expectations and proved to be valuable above and beyond in both aspects; as a student and a coach. 

So to wrap this up - a quick final message:

Coaches: Be sure that you are stepping out of your comfort zone and trying to acquire new skills. It will provide you with a greater understanding of what your athletes may be experiencing while stepping out of their comfort zone. Possessing empathy, especially as a coach, is a valuable tool that often times gets pushed to the wayside.

Athletes/Students: Being highly motivated to learn new skills is a key to being coachable. But on the other hand, having compassion for yourself and understanding that skill "X" may take some time to hone is also a big factor. Remember that frustration and self-doubt are natural emotions that will pop up from time to time, but to live in that space will only create more of the same. Create strategies for yourself to implement when you start becoming frustrated so as to stop that downward spiral and salvage the time and the energy spent expanding that comfort zone. 

To the STS crew: Thank you for your outstanding coaching, effort and energy. You did an amazing job catering to each and every attendee - regardless of their experience level. And as a coach, it was refreshing to be reminded of what that position actually means and the power we have to help others develop themselves. Thank you!


3 Easy Hydration Tips

Here in Austin, our summer has been pretty mild until just recently. The temperature has seemingly bumped up a bit to make it feel just a little more like what we are accustomed to down here.....OR, maybe I am just ready for Fall and my mind is playing tricks on me.

In either case, staying properly hydrated has always given me some grief, especially when I moved to Austin approximately 5 years ago from Fort Collins, CO. The heat was definitely a major change and forced me to get smart about hydration.

I'll be honest, since then, I've gone through phases - as I imagine most people do - of being on top of my hydration and feeling great, and letting it slide only to feel like shit. That being the case, I wanted to share some of the simple things I do (when I'm on it) that keep me feeling on top of my game.

1. Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up.

This seems pretty straightforward, right? You've just spent the entire night without water and what do most people put in their bodies first thing??? COFFEE! I love coffee as much as anyone out there, but I won't pretend that that is a healthy practice.

I make it a rule that I can't have my coffee until the glass of water that I set next to my bed the night before is in my belly. Then, it's game time!

2. Set an hourly reminder.

Most of us are very busy people. In fact, sometimes we get so tied up in what we're doing, we forget to take care of ourselves in the most basic ways. An easy remedy for this is to set an alarm to snap us out of whatever work funk we may be in at the time and drink.....water, that is.

It's easy to set your smart phone up to alert you each and every hour as a reminder to refill that glass of water and then have it consumed by the next time your phone blasts out some annoying collection of beeps and buzzes.

In fact, you may soon discover that once you become used to drinking one glass of water an hour, you'll begin to challenge yourself to another in the same time domain. Sounds kinda like setting PRs for water consumption, right? Just be careful. There is such a thing as drinking too much water, albeit hard to do. 

3. Flavor your water.

Some people can not get their heads wrapped around the idea of drinking something that has no taste. In fact, I have found myself becoming bored with just drinking water all day. Sometimes you need to add a little "flava" to your hydration game by adding some flavor.
(See what I did there?)

An easy way to do this is to squeeze some lemon juice in to your water. It adds just enough flavor to the water to keep it interesting and actually allows the body to better absorb the water. 

You can take this idea and run with it. I've seen people bring a water bottle with pieces of pineapple floating around . Really, you could put any fruit in there that suits your taste....strawberries....blueberries...etc. I would just be sure to avoid bananas....that may not work the best.

There ya go! A couple easy ways to keep yourself hydrated and feeling good. Cheers!