Omit, Add, Modify – Program Design (The Countdown Method)

October 10, 2013 by danny · Leave a Comment 

When it comes to the program you design (or the program someone else designs for you), I have a few BIG pet-peeves…

Complete Overhauls

This is when people completely change their training philosophy/methods.  Examples of this would be; “I’m a TRX person, no wait, I only do kettlebells, never mind, bodyweight exercises are where it’s at.  Ah no, forget all that, I only do single leg exercises, but now include all of the above (kettlebells, TRX, Dumbbells, Barbells, etc.)

This is stupid.  Don’t be this person.

Jumping From System to System

This is when a person goes from one system to the next.  For example, they do Crossfit one month, then completely change and go with Powerlifting, then it becomes Olympic Lifting, and before you know it they’ve moved onto P90X.  Talk about going nowhere fast!

Just as stupid.  Don’t be this person.

There are definitely a number of other things that get under my skin when it comes to program design.  We could talk periodization, exercise selection, the appropriate use of regressions/progressions, etc. etc.  But I’ll stick with the above two pet-peeves for now.

I do want to use myself as an example of the appropriate use of ADDING (not completely overhauling) when it comes to program design.  I’ve been working out and training people for many years now, and I’ve never used the countdown method. A couple weeks ago I came across an article written by Ben Bruno. I was still a couple weeks away from switching to my next training block, and I decided I would INCORPORATE the countdown method into my next block. The first day of my new program was yesterday, I used it for my “finisher” for weighted push-ups and neutral grip pull-ups.

The countdown method was included because it goes with my goals, my strength level, and I didn’t have to change EVERYTHING else around in order to make it work.  I just did one set for my chest and back to finish off my workout.  I’m not going to be, “doing nothing but the countdown method” for the next month before moving onto “nothing but max effort sets” the following month.

Add – Add an exercise/method into your training system/philosophy. i.e. I added the countdown method for this program but the rest of my program did NOT completely change.

OMIT – Take something out if doesn’t fit with your body type, goals, injury status, etc. i.e. your elbows have been really cranky for the past few weeks, so give chin-ups a break for time being.  Do not stop doing upper bod pulling exercises for the rest of your life.

Modify – Deadlifts have been bothering your lower back because you don’t have adequate mobility to pull from the floor.  Instead, try elevated deadlifts/rack pulls.  Do NOT go around making blanket statements about deadlifts. i.e. “Deadlifts will destroy your back.  Whoever performs them will die a slow, and painful death.”

I personally steal from many different “types” to create programs that fit my goals, and the goals/needs of my clients.  That means I use a little bit from the bodybuilders, powerlifters, athletes, Crossfitters, etc. etc., and incorporate them how I believe best fits the overall program design.

I hope you found this useful.  If you’re a program-hopper or system-hopper, I hope you give this some thought. If you have friends that fit into one or both of those categories, forward this onto them.  Friends don’t let friends program/system hop! :)

In last week’s post I mentioned that I’d be sharing a surprise with your this week.  Well, I lied.  The surprise will be coming next week.  I promise!  Stay tuned…

Random Thoughts/Good Stuff/Training/Life

September 26, 2013 by danny · Leave a Comment 

I’ve got a bunch of quick-hitters here for you.  Rapid fire thoughts from the top of my head…

-I love the Apple Orchard on a nice fall day.  It’s especially great when your little kids are running around with you.

Daxton finishing up his doughnut

Capri and her long hair

-It’s great when Da Bears are 2 games up on the Packers.  We’ll see if it lasts…

-The other day one of my high school athletes said, “if I go up in weight, I’m not only gonna add the 2.5s.  That’s pointless, give me the bigger plates or I won’t bother going up at all.”  Don’t take this mindset y’all!  As long as you’re progressing in the right direction, don’t worry about how much of a jump it is.  Last week I added (from week 1 to week 2) 2.5 pounds on my last set of bench press…

An Extra 1.25 pounds to each side of the bar.

And I went from 60 pounds last week  to 61.25 pounds this week  on my chin-ups…

61.25 pounds... 1.25 pounds heavier than last week.

Small increases, but STILL increases!

-Earlier in the week one of the girl’s basketball teams that I work with had a girl miss a weight lifting session because she was on a recruiting trip (a rare good reason to miss a lifting session).  The following Monday when she returned, she got a call from the college’s coach right in the middle of the lifting session with me and her teammates (a RARE good excuse to answer your phone during a lifting session).  She hung up the phone and announced to us that she just got offered a scholarship and is going to take it from this school.  Awesome… always great to be around this kind of thing!

-I’ve been doing quite a bit of grip/forearm work lately.  Right after one of my torture sets, my hand literally doesn’t function when it comes time to record my numbers on my sheet.  I seriously write with as much control as my 2-year olds.

-These days I’ve been incorporating more quad-finishers, as opposed to heavy, low rep sets for my quads (more joint friendly and less chance for injury).  Now, I still go hard and heavy from time to time, but the risk:reward just isn’t there to do so on a consistent basis anymore.  And I think my quads have been responding just fine with this set-up.  This program’s current quad finisher…

I perform reverse lunges for 8 reps per leg, then go right into 8 jump squats (deep squat before transitioning into the jump portion). I then rack the barbell and perform 8 goblet squats (only going up 3/4 of the way to keep constant tension on the quads).  I then rest 45 seconds and repeat.  Only this time I do 6 reps per leg on the lunges, 6 jump squats (1/4 depth this time), and 6 reps of goblet squats (again, only going up 3/4 of the way).

I then pick up the heavy jump rope and perform as many non-stop reps as possible (no double-hops).  On week one I got 30 reps, week two 35 reps, and then on week 3 (earlier today), I got up to 38 reps (hopefully I’ll be able to get 39 + reps on the 4th and final week of the program).

Finally, I fall into the fetal possession, suck my thumb and call for my mommy!  Quads.  On.  Fire!

-I have a BIG announcement coming next week.  For those that don’t already know what I’m talking about, I’m looking forward to sharing it with you! …

Be back soon.  Have a great rest of your week!

Still Stuck On 3 Sets Of 10?

September 10, 2013 by danny · Leave a Comment 

I wanted to share a quick article/video with you all.  I still use 3 sets of 10 reps… occasionally.  If you’re like many people, that’s about the only set/rep scheme that you use.  Time for a change!  For more info on the topic, check out this video that I made for FitStudio …

Are You Still Doing 3 Sets Of 10 Reps?

My Quad Finisher

August 26, 2013 by danny · Leave a Comment 

I’m a couple weeks into my current  block and thought I’d share what my quad finisher looks like.  For this training block I’m using a full body program, lifting 3-4 times per week.  At the end of day 2, I finish with the below “finisher” …

10 Barbell Jump Squats

10 Barbell Reverse Lunges

10 Barbell Squats

I do that with the same weight on my back, and then rest 45 seconds and repeat.  Only this time, after my last rep of squats, I pick up a dumbbell and perform a dumbbell squat iso-hold for as long as possible. To see what it looks like in action, here you go…

Bring The Pain!

Not. Easy!  Especially if you try to beat your time from the previous week.  And as you can see in the video, I added 5 seconds to my squat hold.  My quads were on absolute fire.  Trying to beat 35 seconds on the hold next week should be real “fun!”

Anyway, give it a try.  I dare you! ;)

How I feel after this quad finisher!

3 Ways To Create Space Off The Dribble

August 22, 2013 by danny · Leave a Comment 

I just had an article published on  It’s a very important topic for those looking to get their own shot.  A lot of people can stand and shoot.  A number of people can finish with a monstrous dunk on the break.  But not enough people work on getting separation from their defender.  Add this tool and it will definitely take your game to the next level.

Read article here… 3 Ways To Create Space Off The Dribble

Steph creating space off the dribble.

I Have The “Answers” To Everything In Life, Plus Impressive Hip Thrusts Inside…

July 19, 2013 by danny · Leave a Comment 

In the health and fitness industry, we often see all kinds of crazy claims.

  • I deadlift 8 days a week because they are the best back-builders known to man.  Vs… Deadlifts will destroy your lower back and nobody should deadlift.  Ever!
  • Vitamin D is crucial for optimal health, therefore I lay out  in the sun 3 hours a day every day of the week.  Vs… The sun causes skin cancer, therefore I put on SPF 300,000 when I walk to the mailbox ever morning.
  • The bench press makes my pecs HYOOGEMONGOUS, which is why I bench every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Vs… The bench press is a shoulder killer, don’t ever bench if you want to keep your shoulders healthy.
  • Fish oil cures any and all problems in life. Vs… Don’t even say the word fish oil out loud.  If you do, you’ll develop prostate cancer within 2 weeks.

Ok, so there might be some exaggerations in my examples, but you get the point.  If I look at all the information that I’ve heard over the years in this industry, NOTHING has stood the test of time, as far as “magic.”  Pretty much all answers in health and fitness (as well as in life), lie somewhere in the middle.  So don’t get too emotionally involved to one extreme or the other.  Because there is a study right around the corner that is going to make you modify your views one way or the other.  This new information/study might be coming in a week, or you might come across it five years down the road.

The key to getting the body you want, lies in this quote that you’ll see in the “Meet Danny” section of my website: “Those that are consistent, disciplined, and give everything they have, can bring their health, physique, and performance to a new level.” No magic.  Show up to the gym and work hard – consistently.  In the kitchen, eat plenty of protein and healthy fat, pound the veggies, eat some fruit, and adjust your carb intake according to your goals/results.  Simple in theory, hard in practice.  But the point is to not get too tied up with ONE system or the newest gadget/supplement/food that promises you that, “by taking 3 capsules of XYZ a day, you’ll look exactly like Jamie Eason in two weeks or less.”

Jamie's physique... built with consistency and effort, not some miracle pill.

Impressive Hip Thrusts

Last week Paityn and her mom, Joie, combined to hip thrust 510 pounds!  Studettes!  I thought you may be interested in seeing it in action, so here you go…

They were out of town this week, so I’m looking forward to Paityn going for 300 + when she returns next week!

Have a great weekend, and remember, the “answers” always lie someone in the middle…

More Personal Records… Bench Press and Hip Thrusts

June 27, 2013 by danny · Leave a Comment 

I just got done giving basketball lessons to one of the teams that I’m working with this summer, and I’m about to head up to MVP Training for a couple training sessions.  But I have a few minutes of spare time, so I thought I’d share a couple bad ass videos with you…

This first one is of Paityn hip thrusting some serious weight…

Want nice glutes?  Do you want to improve your performance on the field/court?  Wanna decrease your chances of knee/back injuries?  If you answered yes to any of the above, then get good at performing hip thrusts!

Paityn’s goal on that set was 5 reps.  She ended up getting 6.  Looks like she’ll be going heavier next week! :)

Video numero dos…

Last week I mentioned HERE, that Liz had a bench press PR (personal record) of 105 before leaving college for the summer.  Well, when she re-tested her bench with me a few weeks back, she set a new PR of 115.  And just last week re-broke it with a 120 pound max.

So, props to Paityn and Liz for their hard work!  Great work, ladies!!!

Well, this is the last weekend before 4th of July, and if you’re like most people, it may get a little ugly… pizza, beer, cake, snacks, etc.  If that is you, make sure you make this weekend a good one in prep for the 4th.

I’ll try to get on here next week for a blogpost, but if I just get too busy, everyone have a fun and safe 4th!

Bench Press PR and My Thoughts On The Bench Press…

June 11, 2013 by danny · Leave a Comment 

Liz, who plays basketball at Lehigh, set a bench press PR (Personal Record) of 105 pounds with her team when she tested before school ended back in May.  Well, it was time to retest last week.  And here’s how it went down…

New PR!  Nice job, Liz!  Her goals this summer include getting stronger/quicker/more explosive, as well as improving her ball handling and her ability to create space off the dribble.  Her hard work at both our strength training sessions and our skill work on the basketball court (as well as all the time she gets to the gym on her own working on her game) has her heading in the right direction!

My Thoughts On The Bench Press

I did a video on my thoughts on the bench press as it pertains to most dudes.

Squat rack? What's a squat rack?

Check it out HERE.  Now, get to squatting, deadlifting, and hip thrusting!

Alrighty then, until next time…


June 4, 2013 by danny · 2 Comments 

Sorry that it has been so long since my last blog post.  I’ve been spending a TON of time giving basketball lessons, training people, and changing poopy diapers.  I promise to be back on here again soon though!  As for today’s post…

Many people claim to be doing HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) as a part of their cardio program.  But in reality, few actually reach an intensity that I would TRULY consider HIGH intensity.  If you honestly go ALL OUT like you are sprinting away from a hungry bear, then after about 12-20 seconds you would need over a minute to recover (maybe considerably more than a minute).  If you do something like 20 seconds “on” followed by 20 seconds “off,” then you are not going as hard as possible during that 20 seconds… and/or not choosing an activity that makes you tired enough after 12-20 seconds (i.e. jumping jacks would be much easier than sprinting up a steep hill).

Quick Note: When I say “intensity” in this article, I’m talking about how fast you are going in regards to your max speed.  In other words, if you do 20 seconds on, and 20 seconds off, you may truly be going as fast as you can, but due to the fact that you’ll be under-recovered going into the next set, you won’t be able to maintain your max speed from set-to-set.

Now, I have no problem with interval training where you do something like 20 on/20 off or 30 on/60 off, but don’t confuse that with TRUE HIIT.  I’ll invent a new acronym right now (at least I’ve never heard it), M/HIIT… Medium/High Intensity Interval Training.  This is much higher intensity than steady state cardio (like jogging 5 miles or doing a 15 mile bike ride), but nowhere near MAX effort followed by a full (or near full) recovery.

Think about it this way, let’s say you were being timed in a 100 meter sprint three times, and here were the 2 scenarios…

#1) Sprint 100 meters, rest 30 seconds, sprint another 100 meters, rest 30 seconds, and finally sprint one more 100 meters vs…

#2) Sprint 100 meters, rest 120 seconds, sprint another 100 meters, rest 120 seconds, and finally sprint one more 100 meters.

Obviously your times would be much faster with the longer rest intervals.  This longer rest allows you to more fully recover, which allows you to run at an intensity closer to your max speed (like when running from that hungry bear).

Dr. Layne Norton and Dr. Jake Wilson talk about all the benefits of this truly HIIT in THIS PODCAST.

In short, HIIT (with the LOOOONG rest intervals) is a great way to hold onto muscle mass and strength/power gains while still getting your cardio in.

Just remember, you don’t rest a long(er) time just for the hell of it.  You do so because you need to in order to repeat that HIGH intensity for the next set.  Here’s an example of me doing plank-ups yesterday.  I did this for 20 seconds, and in actuality I slow down a little bit towards the end and probably should have only done sets of ~ 15 seconds if I wanted to prevent my intensity from dropping towards the end of the set.

So, my advice for the individual that is looking to maximize muscle mass/strength/power but doesn’t want to get “too out of shape,” perform true HIIT for the majority of your cardio sessions (and if this is your goal, you shouldn’t be performing much cardio in the first place… maybe once per week).

If you are a “general fitness enthusiast” just looking to “be in good shape” and lose a few pounds, go ahead and perform a mix of true HIIT AND “M/HIIT.”  And if you’re like me and can’t stand the long, slow stuff, never do it!  If you enjoy that, go ahead and mix a little of that in there as well.  You weirdo, you!  Just kiddin’… kind of.

The best activities for true HIIT include (but are not limited to)…

  • sprints
  • hill sprints
  • sled/prowler pushes or car pushes
  • battling ropes
  • plank-ups
  • hitting the heavy bag
  • heavy jump rope
  • bike sprints (up a hill or on a stationary bike with the resistance turned up pretty high)

Now of course, some of these may not be appropriate for you depending you strength level (and injury history, etc).

Just remember if you are performing HIIT you will NEED a good amount of rest between sets, otherwise it is NOT truly HIIT.  Both M/HIIT and HIIT can be incorporated into your plan if that fits your goals.  Just make sure that you know the difference.

Now go get lean for the summer! :)

And if you know someone that says, “I’m heading to the gym for a HIIT session,” make sure you forward this article to them so that they too know the difference.

Have you ever performed true HIIT training?  If so, you know that it ain’t for the faint of heart!

Video Of My Leg And Core Session From 04/28/13…

April 29, 2013 by danny · Leave a Comment 

It has been awhile since my last blog post, but I’m back.  From time-to-time I like to share what I have going on for my own personal workouts, as well as video of what my clients are doing.  Today, I’ll go over what my leg and core workout looked like yesterday.

First, what I did, and then I’ll provide some videos below..

A1) Safety Bar Squats – 4 x 3

A2) Fillers – soft tissue work (foam rolling/theracane/lacrosse ball) and extra mobility work

B1) 1-Leg RDLs – 3 x 8/leg

B2) Walking Lunges – 2 x 10/leg

C1) Suspension Trainer Fallouts – 2 x 10; Floor Crunches – 1 x 10-12 (slow and controlled)

C2) Hip Thrusts – 1 x AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) with 150 pounds


First, let’s go over the safety bar squats.  I absolutely love this bar!  If is way more comfortable than performing traditional front squats and my clients are loving it too.  I’m just getting used to it as I’ve only had the bar for about a week now.

As you can see, my dog, Scooby, is very loyal but not a good spotter.  I need more focus out of him.  Too much eye-wandering!  What if I would have gotten stuck in the bottom!?!  Time to have a good talk with him about this!

Next, 1-Leg RDLs…

I didn’t get the rest of the session on tape.  But I wanted to mention, this was my 3rd time doing this workout, and here are my numbers on my hip thrusts… week 1 = 27 reps, week 2 = 28 reps, and then yesterday, 30 reps. And my ass is soooo sore today! Ouch!

Back to the safety squat bar, here is young girl that I’m working with (8th grader) using them for safety bar box squats.

Talk about some multi-tasking!  One person performing squats, another side-lying clam raises, and the 3rd getting ready to start her cardio “finisher” with the battling ropes.  Good times!

I hope your training is going well and you’re setting yourself up nicely going into “beach season!” :)