Confessions of a middle aged weightlifter – #1

Note: Just a tad late on this one…I got way off track in the past 6 months but I recently saw a piece (can’t remember the writer at the moment) about consciously writing JUST 3 lines per day and letting the writing process go wherever it needs to from there. Since I’ve been focusing on just 3 lines a day, I’ve gotten much more done and RARELY contribute just 3 lines to any post I’m working on – usually it turns in the much more. This simple strategy has helped me get posts like this moving again.


Confession #1 – I got GREEDY as hell on my Front Squat 6 months ago

I fell into (stupidly mind you) a rookie mistake in December. After competing in the 2018 Tennessee Weightlifting Championship in November, I was REALLY excited about competing again and decided to aggressively push forward on front squats. In simple terms – I had powered all my lifts (i.e. no squat) and got them all rather easily. I figured it was time to hammer my front squat to progress towards full cleans (catching with/in a front squat).  Here are two videos from two of the strongest lifters in the world highlighting the difference.


So…yeah – they’re freaky strong, right?

Back to the problem with my approach – I hadn’t done full cleans in years OR a trained with enough volume on heavier front squats to handle the loads I dialed up.

Soooo…about 3 or 4 workouts into my new cycle, I tried to catch a heavier clean with too wide a stance and I strained my L adductor (groin) high into my hip. After dealing with this bugger for over 6 months, I’m pretty sure it resulted from the following:

  1. Not having the requisite flexibility/mobility in my leg muscles to properly handle a heavier dynamic movement like a squat clean.
  2. Insufficient technical work on catching cleans in front squat (i.e. stance too wide).
  3. A lack of sufficient leg strength and work capacity in front squat.

As I edited this post and re-read that short list, I’m like “Dude – WTF!”

That said, I was still able to compete two more times by powering (and PR’ing both times) but this rookie mistake of getting excited/greedy and not using proper progression definitely set my LONG TERM improvements back several months. UGH!

The lesson…a favorite quote from one of my mentors, Pat Rigsby…I was guilty of stepping over dollars to pick up pennies with the clean & jerk being the dollars (ultimate goal) and the improved front squat being pennies.

While the front squat is definitely needed for long term C&J progress (got to stand it up after all), it isn’t the COMPETITIVE lift. Chasing those pennies caused me to lose a ton of valuable technique work on one of my weak spots, the transition under the bar and footwork

Lesson learned!

Silver lining – after rehabbing this bugger and training around/through it – I learned quite a bit about the new rules of an aging weightlifter that I will share in coming posts. 


Enjoy this post? Think it sucked? Questions? Comment below.

The 29% challenge

I originally wrote this post last year but the message is timeless IMO! Enjoy!

The 29% Challenge!

As you all probably know by now, we are in the midst of a really energetic and inspiring transformation contest. We have close to 40 people committed to losing weight/bodyfat, building muscle, and feeling great and it has been REALLY fun to share their experience with them. BUT…

There is is always a “but” right?

At the end of the first week, I noticed that some people in the challenge were talking about the weekend and how they were likely going to cancel out all their hard work over the next few days. I wasn’t really surprised by this since this is typically the biggest challenge most people face.

However, these conversations got me thinking – how much progress do many of us likely lose on the weekend? The answer was shocking to me – 29% of week is a chock full of huge potential progress killers! Bad food choices, poor sleep habits, and excessive FUN (if you know what I mean) come to mind. For some people – all three probably apply! For our contestants – I put it another way. Out of the 42 days of the challenge, 12 FULL days of their challenge are either filled with opportunities to improve or filled with traps to fall into.

That’s almost two FULL weeks! I can assure you – that got quite a few of them thinking about their weekend choices when we talked about it. After all – they spent good money to join the contest. Would you throw away 29% of your money on any purchase? I know I try not to and I know they didn’t plan to either when they signed up.

So – why mention this at all? I want to challenge all you to start thinking of your weekends (or whatever days you have off) as full of potential opportunities to improve and lose the minefield mentality! I can assure that just this simple mindset shift will be powerful and liberating!

Another way to think about it – if you were presented with an investment that paid a 29% return, you would be silly not to make it right? However, so many of us don’t make that choice (myself included at times)! Just imagine if you took this challenge to heart for a month and came out the other side…

29% lighter? 29% leaner? 29% stronger? 29% more confident? You get the idea…wouldn’t that be AWESOME!?!?

What if you did it for 3 months? I am certain you would make more progress in those 3 months than most people make in a year!

It really comes down to a simple choice – do you want to start making a 29% return on yourself or not.

If you have the weekend “minefield” mindset and need some some help finding your 29%, please let me know. I would love to help you invest in yourself!

-Coach Green

Random fitness musings and common sensicals…

Here are a few random fitness musings and common sense stuff from the previous few weeks…

kenny rogers

Randomness #1 – “Knowing when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em” is a very valuable concept in the fitness setting. Here is an example from my deadlift session last week. I hadn’t slept well the night before this session and didn’t have high hopes for the planned, heavy single at the end of my workout. However, my first two work sets (a set of 5 and a set of 3) felt pretty good and that single seemed much more attainable as I got going…then Kenny Rogers reared his surgically “enhanced” face!

As I started to pull, the bar felt like it weighed a ton and I lost my core brace, causing me to ditch the lift. In years past, I might have played some angry music in an attempt to get fired up and try it again. However, something deep inside me told me that this wasn’t a good idea and I stripped the bar off to live another day.  Fast forward to this week – some simple goblet squats got my lower back fired up pretty good. I’m guessing that whatever the cause of this heat was lurking in there last week too so I’m glad I folded on that heavy single last week. Thanks Kenny.

Randomness #2 –  I have found that there is direct correlation between one’s level of clutter and one’s resultant level of productivity and success. An easy example…when my various work stations get overly cluttered, my productivity drops. If you find yourself constantly moving stuff around and/or digging through piles looking for stuff you need on your desk, do yourself a huge favor and commit to a regular clean out. Taking 30 minutes to regulate clutter at a work station is easily worth 3-5x that in saved time down the line.

Kasey’s B’s freezer – she had no idea what was in here!

A less obvious example…a unorganized refrigerator/freezer! When my fridge gets cluttered, it takes me longer to cook stuff, food waste increases (hidden leftovers), and my food cost goes way up. After several wasteful clean outs a few months back, I resolved to go more minimalist in the fridge and the pantry to keep stuff from accumulating. The result – we eat more of what we buy and waste far less food as a family. Grocery shopping is also easier too because I have a better idea of what we have and don’t have. Do we occasionally run out of stuff at inopportune times – definitely. However, the gain from the minimalist fridge/pantry approach far outweighs this occasional aggravation. Trust me – commit to a semi-regular clean out. You will thank me later!

Randomness #3 – Another valuable concept in fitness is remember not to “fix” things that aren’t broken. We had a client that came in for measurements and lost 4.5 inches and a full pound of body fat over the course of about 5 weeks using sensible eating and exercise strategies. These gains easily qualify as smashing successes! However, the first thing out of her mouth was “What should I do differently moving forward?”


After I recovered from a mild face palm, I told her that she should continue to do exactly what she is currently doing and “mine” it for everything she could. Once the gains slowed or stopped altogether, then I advised that we should mix up her approach. Another reason for my suggestion…when too many changes are made too often, it is much harder to identify what is working and what it isn’t!

Randomness #4 –  Never, ever underestimate the value of regular, small investments of time that genuinely make you happy or relieve stress. My example – I have had a subscription to the local Chattanooga newspaper almost continuously since I’ve lived here.

Is it a great paper? Not at all.

Do I even read all of it? Definitely not.

However, the 20 minutes or so it takes me to read the sports, business, comics, and any other random articles I find interesting has come to function as much needed “me” time. It relaxes me and gives me a brief escape from the nuttiness in my life. So much so that if I let my subscription lapse or miss a day, I GENUINELY miss it. On days when I don’t get to read it, I will occasionally get crabby as hell. I can honestly say that this “just OK” paper has become an indispensable piece of my happiness factor. If you don’t have something similar, I definitely recommend that you keep looking for it! Once you find it, protect it and savor it!

Randomness #5–  If my sleep suffers in quality or amount (or both), my ability to resist carbs (sweets in particular) crumbles like a cookie (feel free to eye roll). The worst part – I KNOW THIS ALREADY. My point – if you are doing something that you know causes you to do dumb shit, either stop doing it or resolve the underlying issue. No complaining – it’s on you.

Thanks Netflix and Mind of a Chef I was horrible about getting to sleep this past week and I was nicking carbs all week as a result. Last night, I took some of my own medicine from above and put the IPad away and was out by 10:30pm.  I slept great until 5am and the result of my actions was a clear head and no carb cravings today…

Lesson – if you find yourself crushing carbs when you shouldn’t, look at your sleep habits…there might be some answers there.

Hope you enjoyed this one – please comment below with any questions.

The pitfalls of trying to be “undefeated”

I think some of my clients are way too hard on themselves when judging their success (or lack of success) in their fitness or performance programs. It’s almost as if they try to go “undefeated” and win every day, thinking that it is the only possible way to be successful.

However, is this mindset really reasonable or even possible?

I would emphatically say “NOT REALLY!”

Let’s be honest – life is full of situations that will force you to divert your attention and actions away from your workouts and/or your meal plan.

The car breaks down, the kids get sick, your boss throws a late deadline at you…you get the idea.

In those types of situations, your workout and meal plan for the day are likely to become a second priority and that’s really OK.


If you can simply accept that sometimes you are going to lose a day here or there, it then becomes easier to avoid the pitfalls of trying to be “undefeated” all the time.

The pitfalls of trying to be “undefeated” – more stress, frustration, and anxiety…the exact stuff that slows you down even more! See the irony in that?

As a matter of fact, if you have fallen into that type of trap before (I have), you probably have a higher “win” percentage than you think.

Here is what I mean by this using some simple math.

Say you have 365 days to achieve a fitness goal.

Right out of the gates – let’s be honest and throw out Saturdays because they are full of fun, distracting stuff to to do despite your best intentions.

If you “won” every other day in that year, you would have won 313 days for an astounding “win” percentage of 85%.

Who wouldn’t want those odds in Vegas?

Let’s take out another day each week to account for any vacations and you just wanting to take a planned “off” day.

You’re still winning at a respectable 71% of the time with 261 victories.  If you were in the major leagues and hit at that clip, you would be making a ton of money!

To wrap up this analogy, let’s take out another day to account for the kids getting sick, or your car breaking down, or having to finish up that work project. Because you know that crap WILL happen! And it WILL be annoying!

In this scenario, you’ve had 209 wins and won 57% of time. While that isn’t as quite as good (obviously), that is still a lot of progress made over the course of year.

My point with all of this – if you are one to beat yourself up over a bad day, try to give yourself a break.  Not only are you probably winning more than your realize, but you will get some added benefit by losing the associated stress as well.

Focus on your wins.

Minimize the inevitable losses.

Shoot for increasing your “win” percentage whenever possible.

Make steady progress towards your goals.

See yourself as a success regardless.





What if the “goal” isn’t the goal?!?!

I had an interesting conversation with a client the other day concerning goals that I’d like to share with you today. We all know that having goals in a fitness or performance setting is important, right? They help motivate us and drive the “action” so to speak. Some might even say that without goals one is just “working out” and not actually “training”.

But – what if the “goal” isn’t really the goal?

“Huh?!?!” you might be saying…

Let me explain what I mean using the client I referenced above. My client is currently @152lbs and works out 3-4 per week as well as doing some hiking and cardio on her own. She has cleaned up her diet quite a bit since we first starting training her but has her junky moments (don’t we all?). She has 145lbs. as her “goal” weight, which she feels she can easily maintain while feeling and looking great. Using the SMART analogy for goal setting, it’s Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. Sounds like an awesome target, right?

However, we discovered during the course of our conversation that this might not be her ultimate goal after all.

Here is some context for you that roughly tracks the thought progression from our conversation…please take the time to read it because it will really you give a sense of how focusing on the wrong goal can mask the TRUE goal worth achieving.

When this client first started with us, she was about 165 pounds and had some “wonky” eating habits, poor sleep patterns, and was stressed to the gills. She had been working out 4-5 days per week in your typical bootcamp-style facility (cardio-themed circuits w/ minimal strength work) and her body simply wasn’t having it. She was working really hard but getting nowhere.

When she started with us, we cut the cardio “busy-work” down and focused her workouts on resistance training and proper movement habits. We also talked extensively about stress management, improved sleep habits, and sweet tooth control. Three months in –  10lbs. of pure body fat disappeared and she was stoked!

Unfortunately, not long after this huge win, life got in the way and helped her to get off track. The quality of her sleep degraded,  her stress levels went up, and her ability to control her sweet tooth diminished. Around this time, she also lost some motivation to  get to the gym. You know where I’m going with this – she walked into a perfect storm of circumstances that led to some of those pounds reappearing.

Predictably, she was mad/sad/frustrated at this negative change but she was determined to fight back and get herself back on track.

Around this time, we ran a 21 day detox challenge at the facility. This program called for only lean proteins and fruits/veggies for 21 days and is designed to eliminate a person’s exposure to toxins and potential food allergies in order to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is bad (duh) and losing weight/body fat is one of the predicted outcomes for people unknowingly dealing with inflammation from those problems. Well, she dove into this program HARD! The result – she got all the way down to 135lbs.


She wasn’t particularly happy at that weight. Her performance in her workouts suffered and there was little room for any kind of “fun” in her diet at all. While she gave it a good go for awhile, maintaining that weight had it’s own set of problems and it started to feel like a chore to her. Also, right after another big win (although a bittersweet one), her life through her different curveball when her job got unexpectedly stressful/miserable.

Cue to the regressing sleep habits, poor dietary decisions, skipped workouts, and the slow reversal of weight/body fat she had worked so hard to lose. While she was frustrated before, the level of frustration I saw in her this time was 10x greater. She had found several interventions that had worked and worked dramatically but she didn’t know how to piece them all together for long term success.

And this is where we discovered that she was probably focusing on the wrong goal all along. If you think about the progression I described above, weight loss was always the ultimate measuring stick of her progress. As we talked more, it became pretty clear that focusing on weight alone wasn’t doing much for her and probably wasn’t the right goal for her.

The real culprit – she had been struggling to weather the inevitable ups and downs of life. She would make huge progress followed by a big regression – a dreaded life-stress yo-yo.

Why should we avoid yo-yoing in our lives?

Simple – the body loves balance and lots of small changes over a long time. While this can be annoying as hell from a fitness perspective, this is the easiest path to LONG TERM success. When you force a big, rapid change on the body (particularly when stress is at the root of the problem), it WILL fight you right back.

And this was exactly what my client was dealing with. She would get stressed to max and wildly swing from being totally awesome with everything to frustratingly sucky with everything. The ultimate result of this pendulum-like pattern – she became a prisoner of her weight loss goal. Basically, her goal and her life weren’t on the same page.

After our chat, we set a new goal for her – maintaining “life” balance.

What is “life” balance? For her, it means shooting for small, positive actions every day and striving to minimize the effects of any negative situations that arise. In effect – her goal is to cut the yo-yo string. We both agreed that if she focused on this new goal, the other goal of 145lbs. that had been holding her prisoner would surely happen over time ANYWAY. As a bonus, we also agreed that it will be probably much easier for her to maintain that weight in a positive, balance-based approach.

The cool part? She was already doing it but didn’t realize it! As an example, some junk food appeared in the office and she moved it into another room so she wouldn’t have to see it and think about eating it all day. A small win that day but a HUGE win if she continues to do that repeatedly over time.

All she had to do was realize the power of these small actions!

To sum up – when you have one of those frustrating goals that just seems to stay out of reach, sometimes it pays big dividends to re-evaluate the situation. Good questions to ask yourself might be:

What actions on my part are causing me not to reach this goal?

Have I picked the right interventions to help me reach the goal?

Is my daily environment and lifestyle making my goal realistic?

Am I even focusing on the “right” goal at all? 

The next time you get stuck on your fitness or performance goals, try to ask yourself these questions. Even if you determine that your goal is the one you want/need after all, you will surely learn a ton from the process.

Need help figuring out if you have the right goals in mind? Don’t hesitate to contact me or leave a note below.

Thanks for reading!