TCS Athlete, Todd Burnside, getting real serious about that return trip. Photo by: Dave Re

TCS Athlete, Todd Burnside, getting real serious about that return trip. Photo by: Dave Re

At TCS, we’re super serious about pushing sleds and we do it often. Why? Sleds are quite possibly the most effective tool for getting people - at any fitness level, but especially beginners - to the next level. Here are just some of the many benefits that sleds offer:

  • They require 0.0 skill

  • Load it up for a strength stimulus

  • Keep it light and get a sprint stimulus

  • Tax the legs w/o loading the spine (think: pre/rehab)

  • With smart adjustments, everyone can play the same game & get the same desired stimulus

  • Push, pull, drag, row, arms-only push, etc. It’s all possible.

  • They SUCK! But they’re also kinda FUN!

So, the next time you see sleds programmed in the workout, get EXCITED! Who knows what you’ll be doing with them?!


If you are someone that trains out of your garage, you probably have a limited area for a ton of more traditional equipment. Not to mention, the cost of buying all of that stuff is enough to deter even the most hardcore worker-outers. But don't stress. The answer is very simple and very inexpensive: build a sandbag.

Sandbags have become more mainstream recently due to the growing popularity of strongman, but there are many of you out there that are still missing the boat. Implementing sandbags into your training program has a multitude of advantages, but two big ones are:

1. They are inexpensive and easy to make. Major ROI.

2. They more accurately represent the types of object manipulation we face day-to-day. Let's just simplify this by saying that sandbags provide a more real-life experience than a barbell. Evenly distributed weight on a convenient barbell doesn't really happen in nature....just a thought.

Now, contrary to the name, you don't want to literally fill a bag full of sand and go crush a workout. Trust me, that's a bad idea. You'll find that to be a major pain in the ass to use and clean up after. Just picture coming out of the ocean and rolling around on the beach - that pretty accurately depicts the outcome. 

Instead, watch the video below. Chapa and I walk you through the process of building a solid general purpose sandbag. The video is a long one at 6 minutes, but I think that if you are serious about your training and creating a well-rounded program, it will totally be worth it to you to watch. Then, after you build your bag, we will be sharing another blog covering the 3 sandbag exercises you NEED to be doing to get strong. These exercises provide major bang for your buck - especially when performed with the sandbag, so you'll want to stay tuned for that one. 

Until then, get that bag built!



LUMBERJACKED is a 4 week nutrition program for men designed to be a straightforward way to kick-start some big results through simple guided nutrition and additional workouts.

The New Year is when everyone gets super jazzed about all the changes they're going to make this year that screwed up their lives last year, but as most of us know, that usually doesn't yield the results we were hoping for. Why?

Poor Planning.
Lack of Accountability.

The beauty of the LUMBERJACKED program is that those obstacles are recognized and addressed in ways that make the process of change as simple as possible. That does NOT mean it's easy. It will require dedication, integrity and a willingness to work for what you want. IF you can get your mind wrapped around that, you can surely make some serious change occur!


Program Duration: 4 weeks
Start Date: 1/6/2017 @ 6pm
Finale Date: 2/3/2017 @ 6pm (Food to follow)

Program Details:

  • "Before/After" pictures and measurements
  • Food list of approved foods
  • Individualized guidelines
  • Weekly nutrition accountability
  • 4 FREE Friday night workouts with other LJ participants




I've been asked several times since the new year whether we (TCS) have seen a big spike in new members. Each time I explain that we don't see any extraordinary membership growth. I go on to explain that TCS is different in a couple ways:

1. We want our athletes to show up. Gyms that do in fact see spikes around this time of year don't give a shit about you or whether you actually show up. In fact, they've done the research to find that magic number that their "members" will pay and not feel bad about wasting each month when the membership is not used. They bank on you not coming in! Seems backwards, right?

Not here.

2. Our memberships are set at a higher price point and act as a filter for this kind of activity. Only people that see the value of the training they receive at TCS, as well as the sweat equity they put in to their time here are willing to invest in their monthly dues. To put this simply, you get what you pay for AND some!

We don't do half-assed, wishy-washy here. Our athletes see the value and understand there is a real-world benefit to their time at TCS. If prospective athletes are more concerned with paying the lowest price they can find, that's just fine with us. Rest assured, will never dilute our community just to get bodies in the door.


We've had a lot of people ask for a coed team FNSwod, so here it is! We are really excited about this one. It's going to present some unique challenges for us as we program the workouts y'all will take on. One thing we can guarantee is that they, like all the previous FNSwods, will be fast'n'nasty!

Before I give y'all the registration link, understand that only ONE member from your team will need to register. After that's done, your job is to prepare as best as possible for whatever we throw at you. Stay tuned for more information about the event as it becomes available.



We are excited to announce that the Travis County Strength Kids and Teens Classes are back in session starting Wednesday, September 2nd!

Both the Kid's and Teen's programs will be lead by Coach Jaime Shauger who has done an amazing job of developing an environment for kids and teens to build strength, coordination, conditioning and self-confidence. And just like the other programs TCS has to offer, the workouts are based around working hard, having fun and staying safe.


TCS Kids:
Ages 6-10
M/W 445-530pm
Register Here

TCS Teens:
Ages 11-14
M/W 530-615pm
Register Here

Pricing Options:
$75/month for 4 sessions
$125/month for 8 sessions


For more information about class content, contact

For ZenPlanner/Scheduling/Registration questions, please contact



In my previous post, I ended with a quote I saw recently that really stuck. So, naturally, I felt like it may be worth writing about.

"Being fit isn't about being better than someone else. It's about being better than you used to be."  -  Gym Jones

Often, competition with others gets all the attention. We are a society driven by competition and being the best. This isn't all bad. This drive to be the best gets people to work hard and strive for more. The problems start when this "King of the Hill" mentality becomes the sole purpose behind your efforts. 

One thing everyone needs to realize is that there is always someone better than you...unless you are THE ONE - in which case we all probably know who you are by now. Seeing as how that's probably not your story, if your only goal is to be the best or the've already lost.

The reason I love this quote is because it's simple yet profound and puts shit into perspective for the vast majority of people. Perspective is a beautiful thing if you can pick your head up and take in the big picture. For some, that's a big if.

I encourage you to take a second and really ask yourself what your goals are and whether or not you're going about it the right way.

If so, great! Keep truckin'. 

If not, gain some perspective and see if this simple little thought might help direct you.



Katrina joined LIFT months ago from a figure background, looking for something different. Jen knew she would be a perfect fit for TCS and LIFT when she jumped up to the pull up bar and knocked out six strict pull ups and then said " I don't know how to kip." Jen love having her in class and the energy she brings. She is always upbeat, ready to roll and works hard.

While I grew up playing soccer, it wasn’t until I graduated from college that I committed myself to fitness. At first, my biggest motivation was literally “to look hot”. I wanted to look like the girls in Oxygen magazine and eventually compete in physique competitions. I joined Gold’s Gym, hired a trainer, and began the bodybuilder lifestyle. I was able to put on enough muscle that I could then diet down for my first bikini show.

My prep started 16 weeks out from the competition. I had 1 hour of lifting and 2 hours of walking/stairclimbing nearly every day, while eating less than 1200cals and 60 grams of carbs. And while the physical aspect sounds tough, it was the mental beating that was far more torturous. There were other girls at my gym training for the same show, and I couldn’t help but size them up and mentally tear them down. However, the person I tore down the most was myself. Every day my flaws were pointed out to me “so that I could win”. Do you know how many rear delt flies I’ve done in my life??? Every day I felt like I was ready to crack, and I finally reached my breaking point 4 weeks out from the competition.

Once the dieting was officially over, I went on the Holy Grail of Binges. WichWich, Coal Vines, Moonshine buffet, How Do You Roll, Magnolia’s Cafe, JuiceLand and Alamo Drafthouse- all in the first 24 hours. I gained 8lbs in the first week, and stopped weighing myself once I hit 15. I continued this way for 2 months before promising to start over. And then I tore my ACL.

And now we have reached the lowest of low. Overweight, one-legged, and overall depressed- I had no idea how I was going to pull myself up out of this hole. As luck would have it, I became friends with a fellow Gold’s go-er who had witnessed my roller coaster. Instead of pointing out my flaws, he focused on my milestones, showed me what a 30-minute circuit can do versus a 90-minute lift session, and held me accountable for all the extra scoops of chocolate peanut butter I had been eating. Not only did he help me at a crucial time, he is the one who introduced me to LIFT for women.

To compare my experience at LIFT to everything prior would just be unfair. But I am going to anyways :) Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could work out with females and NOT side-eye them. But when you start working out with the LIFT women, the support and motivation is truly overwhelming (not gonna lie, Calland and Tina intimated the shit out of me on Day 1). I have come to terms that I will not be as strong or fast or dynamic as some of the others, but I’ll always be sure to try as hard as them. And that is what LIFT is about. Not lift weighting - lifting each other up. What started out as a mission to look good in a bikini, I ended up finding true strength inside and out thanks to the TCS community.

Complex Of the Week #3

It's been kind of a crazy week of "road blocks" popping up randomly and preventing me from planting my ass in front of the computer to knock out some posts. However, you can rest assured that your weekly delivery of COW (Complex Of the Week) is hot'n'ready!

This week's complex has a completely different look and feel to it. Nevertheless, it's a complex that is to be done without setting the bar down or re-racking it. In other words, this must be done UNBROKEN!


  • Complete 20 Unbroken Back Squats @ approximately 65% of 1RM
    • A mandatory 3 breaths must be taken between each of the 20 reps.

Now, before you jump up out of your chair to knock this one out, here are a couple things to think about:

If you haven't been squatting consistently - or If you can't accurately perform a high-quality squat(technically sound + full ROM) - this COW may demand that you perform your 20 at a lower percentage. That's fine. The overarching purpose of this stuff is to make you stronger - one workout at a time. It is NOT provided to you so that you can go overboard and fuck yourself up. Be smart. Work Hard. Go!

Guest Blog #2 - Crystal Bold

As promised, we are continuing our weekly "Guest Blog" - especially after seeing how so many of y'all enjoyed Coach Nyki Helmcamp's post last week.

This week we are giving the floor to Coach Crystal Bold. Not only does Crystal possess a wealth of knowledge in the coaching realm, but she also has a vast understanding of nutrition and overall health and holistic well-being.

To be truly honest, TCS and the surrounding local gyms that host her nutrition lectures are incredibly lucky to have such expertise so easily accessible to us and our communities.

With all of that being said, I asked Crystal to write a quick blog focused on what she will be covering in this Friday night's Nutritional Basics w/ Crystal Bold, NTP.

I think that there are a lot of misconceptions of what is actually covered and discussed during these nutrition seminars, so this is meant to clear up any preconceived ideas that we will be forcing you to follow some starvation diet, or count calories, or jam supplements down your throat. That's not really our style...

It's very, very simple:

This is an introduction to holistic health and how to start making informed decisions so as to live your life at the highest quality. But enough from me. Here's Crystal's post:

Killing yourself in the gym and not getting the results you want? We like to think that if we just work HARDER we will get the results we want with little regard to what we are fueling our body with and how much rest and sleep we get. Ironically, it doesn't matter how hard you work but how SMART you are with your dietary, lifestyle and training choices. What most people want is to be happy, feel good with no aches and pains, move well, sleep well, love the skin they're in, perform well in the gym, and enjoy life.

For the past 6 years, I have taught nutrition to thousands of people in several locations in the United States, Europe and the U.K. Over this time I have come full circle on what my thoughts are on how to guide others to be healthier and happier individuals through simple yet effective dietary and lifestyle changes. This Friday at 6pm at Travis County Strength, I want to share with you how to make those changes starting as soon as you walk out the door.

Whether you are a person that is knowledgeable in nutrition or have no idea what the difference between a carbohydrate or protein, I guarantee you will walk away with at least one new piece of information that is going to make a difference in your health. We will be covering everything from the importance of digestion, blood sugar handling, what food to eat, symptoms to look out for and what those mean, how I make this work for my lifestyle, stories of how my clients live, and much, much more!

The goal of this nutrition seminar is to bring helpful information to everyone at a price that is affordable (only $15 online/$25 at the door; ages 18 and under are FREE!). This is completely open to the public so bring a friend or family member. I hope to see you there!


Friday Night SWOD - The Workouts

I'm sure the competitors have been eagerly awaiting this post, so I won't waste any unnecessary time getting to the details of tonight's event. However, I do need to remind y'all of the evening's timeline that can be found HERE. Please be sure to plan on shittier-than-normal traffic due to ACL.

Keep in mind that the information we have released covers the basics. You will need to be here on time to get the full briefing of all 3 workouts and their details. Don't miss this!

Lastly, if after seeing these 3 workouts you absolutely know which division (Rx'd or Scaled) you will compete in, contact Jen as soon as possible with this information.


WORKOUT 1 - "Draggin' Ass" (6min Cap)

3x AFAP: 

  • Weighted Tire Drag
  • Bear Crawl (Forward)
  • 2R/2L Stone Shoulders
  • Bear Crawl (Reverse)
  • Rx'd Male: 
    • Tire Drag -- Rd. 1 @ 90 | Rd. 2 @ 100 | Rd. 3 @ 110
    • Stone @ 115 
  • Scaled Male: 
    • Tire Drag -- Rd. 1 @ 70 | Rd. 2 @ 80 | Rd. 3 @ 90
    • Stone @ 95
  • Rx'd Female: 
    • Tire Drag -- Rd. 1 @ 70 | Rd. 2 @ 80 | Rd. 3 @ 90
    • Stone @ 75
  • Scaled Female:
    • Tire Drag -- Rd. 1 @ 45 | Rd. 2 @ 55 | Rd. 3 @ 65
    • Stone @ 45

WORKOUT 2 - "Load'n'Go" (7.5min Cap)

  • 6min to Find: 
    • 2-Rep Max Front Squat


  • 90sec AMRAP:
    • Sandbag Shoulder-to-StepUp
  • Rx'd Male:
    • Sandbag @ 90
    • Box @ 20"
  • Scaled Male:
    • Sandbag @ 60
    • Box @ 20"
  • Rx'd Female:
    • Sandbag @ 60
    • Box @ 16"
  • Scaled Female:
    • Sandbag @ 50
    • Box @ 16"

WORKOUT 3 - "The To-Do List"       (6min Cap)


  • 30 Single-Arm Dumbbell Shoulder-to-Overhead (15R/15L)
  • 20 Burpees
  • 10 Sandbag Getups (5R/5L)
  • Rx'd Male:
    • Sandbag @ 90
    • DB @ 75
  • Scaled Male:
    • Sandbag @ 60
    • DB @ 55
  • Rx'd Female:
    • Sandbag @ 60
    • DB @ 45
  • Scaled Female:
    • Sandbag @ 50
    • DB @ 30

Everything is a Skill - by Nyki H

If you didn't already know, Travis County Strength - and specifically LIFT - has a relatively new face leading classes. Coach Nyki Helmcamp, has been an awesome addition to an already stellar team here at TCS, and we thought that it would be cool to have "Guest Blogs" from other coaches so that you get the chance to hear their voice and get a vibe on their styles.

In this first of many "Guest Blogs", Coach Nyki shares her belief that, "Everything is a Skill". 

This post has a ton of great information ideal for anyone looking to boost their performance in any realm of their life. It would definitely be beneficial to take the time to read this one, think about it, and finally, apply it to an area of your life. Cool?

Ready?! GO!

EVERYTHING IS A SKILL - by Nyki Helmcamp

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!