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Rules? There Are No Rules? Tonight's Rant...

Nutrition and weight-training are always on my mind. May I rant?

Why are people still counting calories? Train hard and heavy, get some metabolic work in, experiment and determine what makes you stronger, faster, fitter or feel better. Don’t be afraid to eat. Jam quality protein and carbs and fat into your body!

A friend and I were talking today about the effects on our strength, when going up or down in bodyweight. A diet plan designed to bring out visible abs almost always means basic strength plummets. Try a Smolov squat program when on a low-carb plan and tell me how you feel, and how heavy the bar becomes. It’ll suck, and so will your lifting.

Many people around me in the gym this month are in the final countdown to a local bodybuilding/physique show, and are melting down in ways common for those living without carbs but not smart enough to add fat. Daily I’m seeing all these depleted gym people suddenly working harder than I’ve ever seen before, with less nutrition in their bodies than any other time of the year. It makes no sense!

Too many people are afraid to gain a little bit of body fat, in the pursuit of strength and muscle. Resulting in despair and frustration, because in most cases they never will gain appreciable muscle. Oddly enough, those looking to lose body fat who don’t have a lot of lean tissue, will burn the body fat while pursuing the gaining of muscle. 

I’m overwhelmed by people focusing on isolation exercises, whether free weight or machine, when they’re significantly overweight. What’s the point of bicep curls, or side raises that will do little but widen your waist, when you’ve a pony keg attached to your gut? Squat, deadlift, row, press, clean (please learn how to clean, not those from-the-floor-reverse curls taught in high school football), sprint. Lunge. Bench press if you must. Repeat over and over, three days weekly. 

Don’t sit in chairs and exercise. Stand on the earth and fight gravity. Then eat some more! Take a walk. Ride a bike. Garden. Enjoy the outdoors.

Avoid soda and sugar like it’s the plague. That’s right, it is the plague! Your carbs should come in the form of vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. They grew, got dirty, were harvested. This is real food, people. Consume vegetables with each meal

Your protein should have had a face, once upon a time. Within reason, eat all you want. When you feel satisfied, stop eating. If you develop dramatic full feelings, you’ve eaten too much.

A banana by itself is not a snack. Neither is yogurt. Soup does not come in cans; you combine the ingredients on a stovetop from real food. Cheese will not kill you; neither is it a separate food group. Bacon, on the other hand, just may be it’s own magical food group!

Drink coffee, water, wine. Tea if you must. No soda of any type. Ever.

Stop eating sandwiches. You don’t need lunch meat anyways. Combine a bit of bacon, crumbled up, already cooked chicken or ground meat, and a few cups of already-prepared vegetables in a frying pan with some coconut oil. Tell me it’s not delicious. Or skip the leftover chicken and hamburger (that’s what I had tonight), and hit it with four or five scrambled eggs. Some spinach, feta cheese and kalamata olives... delicious!

OK, I’m done with tonight’s mild rant. Work out hard, supplement wisely, eat like you mean it!

#Progenex, @Progenex, @ArnoldSports, 


Schiek Elbow Sleeves

I’ve recently developed significant pain inside my right elbow, to the point pull-ups, dips and several other moves, like putting on a t-shirt, have become painful and problematic. There’s a certain irony to this happening after the CrossFit Open and not during, but I believe I’ve the solutions in hand.

First was going to see Dr. Alex Tapplin at Valley Spine & Sport. Alex keeps my body on the athletic road; Active Release therapy from him has been instrumental helping my torn rotator cuff heal and perform. He diagnosed my elbow with epicondylopathy. More or less, impingement of a nerve by tendon, ligament and/or muscle. Therapy on his table, exercises to perform on my own, and I’m seeing improvement day by day.

Second step was getting my hands on the Schiek Elbow Sleeves. Thanks to John Schiek I had a set in my hands within two days. I’ve never worn protection on my elbows, but knowing from experience how much of a difference knee sleeves make for me, I hoped these would be useful.

John sent me Model 1136ES; these are decently heavy duty, made with HyPUR-cel (meaning, they stretch and breathe without turning my skin into the surface of the Moon). I like them a great deal. Using the sizing chart on the Schiek website is necessary ( Open the package, slide the sleeves on with a minimum of tugging, no skin scraping, and I was ready to train.

Dr. Tapplin and I hoped that stabilizing my elbow would enable me to train most movements more easily with a minimum of pain. For a week or so, or until the pain goes away entirely, I’m avoiding those movements that send unmistakeable arrows of pain through my arm and shoulder. But with the Elbow Sleeves on I’m overhead pressing, deadlifting and cleaning with no problem. Today I’ll experiment with kettlebell work, and tomorrow in my Monday bro/meathead session, I’ll bench (just so you know, I’ll also squat tomorrow).

I’m wearing both sleeves, even though I’ve not experienced pain in my left elbow. My thinking is this will keep that situation from developing. Plus, I like looking like an extra from a Mad Max movie when I’m stomping around the gym with my lifting shoes, Rehband knee sleeves and Schiek Elbow Sleeves on. I feel a bit like Barry Bonds; remember how much protective gear and braces he had on when he went to bat?

For me, the Schiek Elbow Sleeves are essential to keeping me in the gym while my elbow undergoes treatment. I feel good with them on, I experience a significant lowering of nerve pain during many movements. Being able to continue to train at a high level, yet at the same time not feel I’m compromising my health, is important for me. 

Hey, I wonder if Wall Balls will be easier with these sleeves on?

@vspinesport, @SchiekSportsInc


NuGo Stronger Protein Bar

Protein bars are a nutritional minefield. We all eat them on occasion; I certainly enjoy them, notably with coffee, but most days of the week, I consider my nutrition to be a victory if all my meals are real food.

That being said, occasions crop up when a decent protein bar is a good solution. Going to a movie; shopping; weirdly early mornings; long drives through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan - you get the picture. Sometimes a protein bar is the best option, and most of the time it’s far superior to not eating.

I’m constantly banging on my personal training clients to quit eating the damn protein bars; sometimes I’ll see as many bars in a food log as real-food protein sources. And we know they’re not the same; not at all.

There isn’t likely to be a legit protein bar I’ve not encountered; at the Arnold Sports Festival Expo alone a couple dozen brands may be available. Over the years I’ve had all of them, and enjoyed some of em. That long drive I referenced earlier can go bad quickly if you get a couple of low-quality bars in your gut. Watch out side-of-the-road!

All these warnings aside, I’ve been enjoying NuGo Stronger Protein Bars.

A combination of whey, casein and rice protein brings 25 grams of usable protein to your gut in each bar. They taste damn good without any sickly sweetness on the tongue, or richness that hangs out in your stomach. I enjoy the texture of the NuGo bars; they hold together nicely yet are easy to eat. Not soft like a Lara Bar, for example, yet not thick, sticky and tough to chew like many other protein bar products. 

Yes, there’s sugar in the bar. Nine grams. The same number of grams of dietary fiber are in each one; for some reason I’m calmed by this ratio. There’s a hell of a lot of ingredients in these bars, and I’m not excited by all of them (tapioca syrup, glycerine), but I realize they’re part of the process of building a protein bar.

Face it, folks; no protein bar in the world ranks with good cuts of meat, vegetables, fruit and nuts. But when a bar is what you need, or life dictates you occasionally have to toss one down, I’d suggest strongly you give NuGo Stronger Protein Bars a try. I like them.

Want to feel better about your protein bar choice? These are rBGH dairy free, with no artificial growth hormone in the cows used. Sugar levels are lower than most bars of this size, as the company uses chicory root instead of Maltitol, a sugar alcohol. These bars are also gluten free.

Try the NuGo Stronger Protein Bar. They pack a pretty decent nutritional punch as a bar. The protein is real; their flavor is very good without overwhelming or flooding the taste buds with weird artificial crap. 

For those occasions when only a protein bar will do, I’m on board with NuGo.



I Love My New King Kong Gym Bag

Just What’s in my King Kong Gym Bag?

I adore my new King Kong bag. After two years of basic black, this grey is appealing and handsome. Of far more importance (I’m pretty hard on my gym bags), the new model is tougher, seems to be constructed of slightly thicker material, with stronger zippers. I like the overall feel of the King Kong bag. Even empty it seemed to sit up straighter.  And these sturdier zippers; this is a big deal for me, as I can easily try to jam more into a pocket than is intended. As far as my right shoulder is concerned, padding on the shoulder strap has been improved, too.

My only quibble with the set-up are the two pockets designed for sweaty clothes, knee sleeves, etc. I don’t utilize them in this way (I wear my sweaty clothes out the door, or toss them into the car), so the interior of the bag has extra material from those pockets getting in the way of my three pair of shoes! A little thing to me; I’m confident many people use those pockets in the manner they were intended.


Everything I could possible need for an expedition to CrossFit fits into my King Kong bag. Believe it or not, mine contains all this:


Reebok Nano shoes, Reebok Power shoes, Nike Romaleos Oly shoes, Rehband knee sleeves, Schiek lifting belt, NutriForce Creatine, NutriForce Carnosyn Beta-Alanine, NutriForce Glutamine, NutriForce BCAA, Shootnshake Scoop, half dozen packets BioFreeze, “Bacon” knee socks, Rogue knee socks, compression knee socks from Hylete, Stronger RX gloves, Strength wrist wraps, Infidel wrist wraps, BlenderBottle, Progenex Recovery, Vitargo, Lara, Rx and Quest Bars, FringeSports One-Fit Wonder Gloves, Elite Fitness elbow sleeves, SmartShake shaker, Schiek heavy-dute wrist wraps, two Rumble Roller Beastie balls, cloth athletic tape, random packets of BCAA powder.

Am I missing anything?


@Reebok, @MarkSmellyBell, @RehbandUSA, @SchiekSportsInc, @NFSports_, @ShootNShake, @RogueFitness, @byKingKong, @trainHYLETE, @StrongerRX, @strengthwraps, @BlenderBottle, @Progenex, @Genr8strength, @VitargoS2, @larabar, @Rxbar, @QuestNutrition, @fringesport, @UnderTheBar, @SmartShake, @rumbleroller, 


My King Kong Gym Bag Took a Hit

My beloved King King gym bag suffered a blowout!

Two years of daily gym use, one Arnold Classic, several CrossFit competitions..... Material holding the shoulder strap gave way. I've carried a big load, lots of shoes, straps, supps. King Kong did a great job.

Here's the high regard I hold for the brand: I'm going to get another one!

@byKingKong, @SchiekSportsInc