Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Most of the readers of this blog are familiar with my assistant coaches, Tracy, Stephen and Cristi through their youtube videos and their articles. Big John, my other assistant, is on medical leave so he hasnt been on there lately.

Anyway, Cristi accepted a full time job at James Madison University the other day, so she is heading out. She was employed part-time here at Penn, that's the way this industry works; you groom your part- time people to move on to full time jobs. So I am happy for her. But I am not at all happy that she is leaving. Why? First off because she has become one of my best friends, and also because she is so damn strong and fun to train.  I mean this girl is STRONG, one of the strongest girls in the country, legit. She is bodybuilder thick and loves to train. I have been training her for 6 months and it has been a blast. I am not taking credit for her gains. I write her programs, but she implements them with intensity and a desire that has to be seen to be believed.

 Here are her gains in 6 months:

Deadlift- 430 to 505
Squat- 300 to 360
Bench Press -230 to 250

Crazy, right? When devising her training, I knew that in order for her deadlift to improve, her squat would have to go up. So we began by analyzing her form. She had a tendency to push off her heels when the reps got hard, and literally fall backwards at times. So we did a lot of volume for the first 5 months; 3 to 5 squat workouts a week with multiple sets of 2, some pause squats also where thrown in there along with simple coaching cues, reminding her to push from the middle of her foot, and to go with the lean instead of trying to drive her chest up. This worked wonders , she became more comfortable under the bar. I kept her in the 80% range on her squats, with sets ranging from 6-12.  For the last month, she has squatted  at least 285 and usually 315 for a single or double, 6 days a week. Doing this, her squat increased 5 pounds and her deadlift 5 pounds.

Her deadlift is her favorite lift. She does not respond or even want to train with light weights, she reponds to heavy singles and doubles. She deadlifts heavy for a single once a week and I have experimented with her pulling  2 more days during the week of around 70-80% for some fast doubles. In addition, after her heavy day, she performs 5 sets of 3 in the bent over row with no straps with 225 to 275 pounds. She throws chinups and curls in their whenever, but doesn't do lat pulls or cable rows or other assistance work.

Her bench was hampered by a nagging shoulder injury, and she actually went a few weeks without doing the exercise. She has moved her grip in and she goes by feel here; if  her shoulder feels good, she pushes it for heavy doubles, if not, she backs off. She also throws some presses in there, heavy doubles here also.

Her assistance work is minimal , maybe some dips, but no pushdowns or fancy stuff. Except she does do some type of cable exercise that she found on the internet that doesn't help her at all, but she thinks it does so I don't say anything. It's some type of standing cable bench press with a twist and is pretty funny to watch. She sorta hides when she does it so that I don't yell at her.

 Her conditioning? She pushes the Prowler or runs stadiums a few days a week, sometimes she does sprints also.

Her diet? Lots of meat and eggs and oatmeal. She loves vodka and coffee to drink.

Simple and basic but with tons of desire and motivation. Now she moves on to spread the "Rowdiness"gospel!  Here is a video of her 360 squat-

All About Being a Lifer

What's a Lifer? Someone who isn't in to something for just a day, a month, a's for life. Whether its training or your family or your doesn't matter. You work at it, you build on it, you see the big picture . You don't miss workouts because it means something to you. You are like a Shakespearean actor- no matter what is going on in your life, you block it out when it's time to train. You walk into the weight room and all else disappears. Worry about it later.