3 Things I’m Liking Right Now – Fat Gripz, Hip Thrusts, Basketball Season is Here

October 30, 2012 by danny · Leave a Comment 

These past two weeks have been pretty crazy for me as my phone has been ringing off the hook… basketball tryouts are next week (and for some schools, tryouts are this week). Players and parents are looking to get in those last couple lessons in, in order to either knock off the rust (for the football players that just finished their season), or to make sure their game is feeling “tight” going into b-ball season. Anyway, I bring this up because this is the reason that I haven’t made a blog post for a couple weeks. Well, I’m back today, so let’s get to it…

3 Things I’m Liking Right Now

Fat Gripz - Fat gripz are a great tool to include in your lifting program. They help develop hand and forearm strength. And here is another benefit of Fat Gripz (directly from their website…); “When you first use Fat Gripz, you may notice that there’s less pressure on joints like your wrists, elbows and shoulders. By using a wider grip on the bar, you’re actually spreading the weight more evenly across your joints.” I picked up my Fat Gripz directly from their website. Look down and to the right of your computer screen and click on the banner for more info…
As much as I love Fat Gripz, for some exercises, the grip can REALLY becomes the limiting factor when using them (i.e. you have to lighten the load too much). When this is the case, we have two options:
1) Just use the bar/dumbbell like usual.
2) Use Lynx Grips to get the bar/dumbbell a little more thick, without “overdoing” it. You can find them HERE.

Hip Thrusts - I don’t want to spend too much time on this one, as Bret Contreras is the “Glute Guy” and has done a great job of educating the masses. But briefly, man does this exercise work… when you REALLY learn how to use and activate the glutes. Last year was the year that I spent time “playing around” with the hip thrust. I was just getting used to it, and having some clients incorporating them into their programs. But no that I’ve gotten good at these, my glutes have have NEVER felt anything like it!

Hip Thrusts

When I finish a high(er) rep set of hip thrusts, I want to cry becomes my glutes are burning so much! If you still haven’t tried these yet, or are just getting used to them, make them a staple in your program. Be patient with your progressions, and stay with it. Eventually you will get your glutes firing on all cylinders, and start to REALLY reap the benefits of hip thrusts.
Bret contributed to an article I did awhile back and in it, he talks about the importance of learning how to activate the glutes. Check it out HERE.

Basketball Season Is Here - As I mentioned above, I’ve been very busy giving basketball lessons. And I’m happy with the progress of many of these players this off-season. I’ve seen great improvements in their dribbling and shooting skills. For example, check out Jacob at one of our recent lessons taking it to the rack with a nice move in the open court and finishing with his left-hand!
Last year at this time I had only been back in Illinois for a few months, so I was only working with a few players. But now, it’s a different story! I think I worked with about 30 youngsters this off-season, and I can’t wait to hit the road and watch as many of them in action as possible. It’s going to be fun!

Not bad for a 3rd Grader!

Everyone have a safe and healthy week.  I’ll talk to you soon…

Females Lifting And A Little Randomness

May 9, 2012 by danny · 2 Comments 

I got a couple of my female clients on video the other day during one of their lifting sessions (sisters, as a matter of fact).  I wanted to share this video with y’all for a couple reasons.  So let’s get to it…

This first video is of Paige.  I taped her doing RDLs for the first time.  The reason I think this video is so interesting, is because she keeps her neck neutral (in line with her spine) throughout the set.  I’ve been training people for over 10 years and I don’t think I’ve EVER had anyone “instinctively” do this right from the get-go. When doing hip-hinging patterns people usually hyperextend their neck, like this…

Notice how her head is up and NOT aligned with her spine.

Ideally, the individual will “pack” their neck in this situation.  Packing is a combo of cervical retrusion and capital flexion.  Check out the video that I provide at the bottom of this post.  In the video Bret Contreras will elaborate on packing the neck and tell us why we should care about it.

Now, Paige could probably improve that whole capital flexion thing a bit, but overall, her head is neutral throughout.

I usually don’t cue people to pack their neck (or “tuck” their chin) the first time performing lifts such as RDLs.  Well, if it’s important, then why don’t you include it, Danny? Good question.  And here’s why; I’ve found that giving too many cues when performing “complicated” lifts like RDLs ends up causing more harm than good.  In other words, if the individual has too many things to think about when learning a new lift, it can end up turning into paralysis by analysis and they have a hard time even getting into the proper position.  I  think the most important things to learn at first when performing a lift like the RDL is…

-Learning the hip-hinge pattern

-Bracing the core

-Keeping the shoulder blades retracted/depressed and the spine neutral

That right there is PLENTY to think about right off the bat (for most people, but not for Paige apparently :) ).

So, good instincts Paige.  Nice work!

Lil’ Sis

Now, I can’t include a video of Paige without including a video of her younger sister, Paityn.  Here is Paityn performing 155 pounds on the rack pull for reps…

Later in this session, she hit an easy 165 pounds.  She could have done a lot more but I always like to be certain a newbie (her 2nd time performing rack pulls) is completely comfortable with the lift before REALLY loading it.  I used to train Coco in California.  She worked up to a 300 pound rack pull before I moved back to Illinois…

You better watch your back Coco, because Paityn is coming after you! ;)

Ut oh, I hear the twins starting to stir.  Time to go change some diapers, wipe some booggers, and other AWESOME stuff like that!

But before I go, here is Bret’s video talking about neck packing.  If you are a lifter, make sure to check out this helpful video…

Basketball, Training, Nutrition, Life…

February 7, 2012 by danny · 2 Comments 

How we go…

1) I’m playing in a basketball league on Monday nights (35 and older league – that feels weird to say!).  Last night was the first round of the playoffs (we have the #1 seed, just sayin’) and we were told the game started at 7:30.  Well, it actually started at 7:00.  So the refs said if you don’t start in 2 minutes you must forfeit.  We had 3 guys there and another one of our players just happened to come watch… he recently tore his achilles tendon and was in a boot.  The rules state that you must start the game with 4 players, so he walked out on the court in his street clothes for the tip and just stood there ’til the first dead ball, then walked back into the bleachers to watch.  So that put us at 3 vs 5 for the first 5 minutes of the game until our 4th and 5th players showed up.

Our strategy?  Dribble around and stall as much as possible until the other guys arrived.  And it worked great!  By the time they showed up, we were only down 6-3 (and that counts the 2 point technical foul we got right off the bat as our player with the achilles injury was not in “proper uniform”).  We ended up getting the W, but it was much closer than the rest of the games.

Championship game in two weeks – I’ll let you know the outcome…

2) In a blogpost that I made the other day, I mention that I performed Bret Contreras’s,”The Sexy Challenge.”  It went well and I actually wasn’t as sore as I thought I’d be… until day 2’s DOMS set in!  I mentioned that I like to perform a challenge like this from time to time, but if done too frequently it can lead to set-backs.  I performed the challenge last Thursday and my training program had me scheduled to do legs that Saturday (2 days after the challenge).  Yeah right!  My hammies were killing me so I flip-flopped a day in my program and did upper body on that Saturday instead.  Sunday came around and I was still very sore.  So, I FINALLY got that leg day in yesterday (Monday).  This is exactly why I’m not a fan of doing this kind of “test” or “challenge” more than 2-3 times per year… it ends up messing with your program design and throws everything off for awhile (and has you limping around for days).  I’m still glad I did it, but again, I won’t be doing anything like this for quite some time.

3) My wife just landed a very good as the General Manager at Mario Tricoci (hair salon for those of you that don’t keep up on these sort of things :) ).  I’ll still be able to train clients in the morning out of my basement, give basketball lessons on the weekends, continue my social media obligations, and write training programs for my on-line clients.  BUT, I’ll be putting in a larger amount of time as “Mr. Mom” until we get day care ‘n all that figured out.

Going to be fun hanging with the twins, but if my hair is completely grey the next time you see me, now you know why!

4) Football is over, so it’s time for basketball to take center-stage.  Let’s hope Deng can stay healthy, Rip can GET healthy, and D. Rose keeps on killlin’ it!  I can’t wait for that Chicago-Miami rematch!!!

5) I’ve got some GREAT nutrition information to share with you all next week.  A few times I’ve given you a sample day of what my eating looks like.  Well, I thought it would be cool and beneficial to see a couple other examples from other people.  My good friends Marci Nevin and Michelle Adams agreed to share a food log of what they eat for a day.  It will be great for females to see what a couple other VERY healthy and very fit chicks eat while attempting to reach their health and physique goals!

And finally, I’ll be posting a nutrition interview that I did with Brian St. Pierre (one of my favorite “nutrition guys”).

So make sure you don’t miss all this great content – be sure to pop in next week to check it out.

Until next time…

Bret Contreras Has Issued, “The Sexy Challenge”

February 2, 2012 by danny · Leave a Comment 

Bret Contreras made up “The Sexy Challenge” earlier this week and then filmed himself performing the challenge.  He posted it on his website and challenged his readers to give it a go to see how many reps they could achieve.  I’m all for a challenge, so I’m going to be doing this later tonight.  I know it’s going to be hard, and that I’m going to be sore for dayssss – which is why I’m not a fan of performing these types of challenges too often as they can end up messing with your regular training, thus leading to a set-back.  For example, last year I did sumo deadlifts for as many reps as possible and my adductors, glutes, and hamstrings were VERY sore for about 3 days.

But as long you pick your spots and only do these kind of challenges on the rare occasion, they can be a lot of fun without any negative consequences.  So what is the Sexy Challenge?  I’ll let Bret tell you …

-Bodyweight Front Squats X AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible)

-Bodyweight RDLs X AMRAP

-Bpdyweight Incline BB Press X AMRAP (females use 1/2 of your BW for this test)

-Bodyweight Hip Thrusts X AMRAP

-Chin-Ups X AMRAP

-Perform (and film – for proof!) as many reps as possible and they must be completed within 1 hour.

I’m looking forward to the challenge.  I’ll film later on this evening and post my results tomorrow.  I’ll post it below on this same page so be sure to check back to see what my number is.  I’m predicting over 100.   We shall see…


Alright, I’m back today with the results.  In case you missed it yesterday, above I explained what the sexy challenge is all about.  Yesterday evening I performed it, and here is what went down…


Front Squats – I was pretty happy with my number (16).  But quad/leg strength/endurance was definitely NOT the limiting factor. I rarely, if ever perform higher rep front squats. What stopped me from achieving more than 16 reps was the fact that it started to become very hard to keep my wrists in the extended position.  And it was tough to keep my elbow high for that long of a period, thus the bar started to fall forward a bit.

RDLs - I figured I wouldn’t need clips because of the fact that I’ve done these a million times and keeping the bar horizontal would pose no problem… so I thought!  I actually think that the plate starting sliding a bit when I unracked the bar off of the pins.  And then from there, it slid more and more until it was at the very edge of the barbell.  While 50 is still a pretty good number, I definitely had a bunch left in me.

Incline Press - Nothing of huge note here.  13 reps, not bad.

Hip Thrusts – I was happy with 28 reps. As I noted in the video, it was ALL booty and NO hamstring.  This a good thing as quite off people use too much hamstring and low back when trying to activate their gluteal muscles.

Chin-Ups - About a year ago I tested myself to see how many chins I could get, and I got 22.  That was in a fresh state, so I was pretty happy to get 20 reps after performing the other 4 exercises.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with 127 reps, but I really wish that RDL gaffe wouldn’t have happened.  Damn!  Oh well.  It was a good challenge by Mr. Contreras and in a weird way, it was fun!  I won’t be doing another challenge like this for a few months I’m sure (for the reason mentioned above), but whatever challenge I pick… bring it!!! :)

Have a great weekend everyone and enjoy the Superbowl!  I’m not sure which way to go, but will you all do me a favor and root for heads on the coin toss?  I’d appreciate the good vibes.  Of course, I’m rooting for heads because I bet on that every year… for entertainment purposes only! ;)

Connect on twitter – @DannyMcLarty

Nothing Beats In The Trenches Experience!

November 29, 2011 by danny · Leave a Comment 

In the fitness world, science can be very beneficial.  Science has helped advance the field and will continue to do so in the years to come.  However, it is not without its limitations.  The results obtained by researchers may give them X, Y, or Z results – in the setting that the research was conducted.  However, not every study ever performed was designed to meet your particular needs in your exact situation.

Another thing about research/science; there is still a ton to be tested.  We’ve all formed an opinion based on what we’ve observed with our training and nutrition (and/or while working with our clients).  And we didn’t have to wait for a study to be conducted to form this opinion.  This is where “in the trenches” experience sometimes trumps science.

With that said, I contacted a handful of Coaches that have logged thousands of hours working with their own guinea pigs.  This in the trenches experience has left each of them with training and nutrition information that you just won’t find from the white coats.

Nate Miyaki:

Danny: Nate, when it comes to nutrition, what is the biggest mistake that you see from most trainees that are trying to add muscle?

Nate: “I think the biggest mistake is the low-carb trend.  Research has shown that for the obese, sedentary, and insulin resistant/type II diabetic populations, low-carb plans are the most effective approach.  These populations should follow a Paleo-style plan 100%.

The active, anaerobic athlete whose primary goal is physique enhancement should add back in a select few, low fructose, non-”anti-nutrient” containing carbohydrates to support their training and recovery demands.  Recommendations include potatoes, rice, and yams/sweet potatoes.

Sweet Potatoes Do The Body Good!

Still most modern foods like sugar, dairy, bread, juices, and whole grains (as are typical in many physique athletes’ plans) remain off-limits to avoid the host of metabolic, hormonal, and digestive diseases associated with modern eating.”

Bret Contreras:

Danny: Bret, what is THE biggest mistake individuals make when trying to improve their glutes?

Bret: “This one is easy! The biggest problem is that they’re not activating their glutes sufficiently. The gluteus maximus is a strange muscle. It’s always trying to find a reason to shut down and go to sleep. Any lower body injury or pain will shut it down, any activity that’s easy will not activate it sufficiently, and quite often people are performing great glute exercises but aren’t activating them properly throughout the movements. For example, you can squat and lunge while using mostly quad and erector, and you can deadlift and bridge by using mostly erector and hammy. When people learn to activate their glutes properly and master the feel of strong glute contractions, they’ll begin to heavily incorporate their glutes into all of their lower body movement patterns, including squats, deadlifts, good mornings, lunges, hip thrusts, back extensions, and even planks.

A Few of Bret's Clients

Many readers have seen all of my Youtube videos of strong girls and athletes moving heavy weight on their glute exercises, but they don’t start out that way. Most of my clients start out with bodyweight squatting and bridging and I have to work hard to get them to sit back, keep their knees tracking over their toes, utilize proper lumbopelvic mechanics, push through the feet properly, and symmetrically activate the glutes. Once all of these are happening, then I add load. After around six weeks clients almost always boast about how well their glutes work during their sessions.”

Tim Henriques:

Danny: Tim, what is THE biggest training mistake made by the “intermediate” lifter that is trying to add muscle?

Tim: “I would say the biggest mistake an intermediate lifter makes (excluding simply not training hard, because if you aren’t doing that it doesn’t matter what soviet bloc routine you are on) is that they get decent results with one method and they just stick with it too long.  They become HIT guys or Westside Guys or DC guys or Kettlebell guys or whatever.  To build muscle to you want to stimulate the muscle as much as possible in a variety of ways.  You want to do some serious strength training but don’t focus exclusively on that.  You should try some higher rep stuff but don’t focus exclusively on that.  And a good chunk of time should be spent on the intermediate modalities.  A simple guideline is train 25% of the time for strength (high weight, low reps), to train 25% of the time for endurance (lower weight, higher reps – as in 20 or so), and to train about 50% of the time in the traditional size building zone (moderate weight, moderate reps, high volume).  Personally I had good success following a HIT routine for 6 weeks (1 all out set on the exercises), a Westside routine for 8-10 weeks, and then a more classic traditional bodybuilding routine for 6-10 weeks and then just rotating through them again.  Do several rounds of that and you will be bigger and stronger no doubt about it.

I would also add that a close second mistake is that the intermediate level lifters should start to understand their bodies and start to figure out what works and what doesn’t.  Tricep pushdowns might give you big triceps or they might not.  Same with dips and close-grip bench press.  Don’t just perform an exercise forever because some expert said it would do something for you, give it a fair test (2-4 months) and see what happens.  If you don’t get any measurable results from that exercise, drop it and try something else.

The Power of a Good Training Environment!

Finally try to surround yourself with like-minded individuals that have similar goals and train their ass off.  Don’t underestimate the power of training in a productive environment with strong social support.  The “me against the world” mentality is nice for a while but it gets old real quick and you only have so much energy, better to use that energy to create a good environment then always fight a bad one.”

Danny McLarty:

Next I contacted this really good-looking guy, Danny McLarty.  Since I’m used to talking to myself, the conversation went really smooth!

Danny: What do you find is the biggest mistake made by trainees trying to take their physique to the “next level?”

Danny: “In my mind, there is no doubt the biggest mistake that most people make, is that fact that they change their goals far too often.  We all want to have the strength of an NFL linebacker, while having 2.4 percent body fat, while training to knock out GSP, while having so much muscle that we make the average human being  look like Christian Bale in the Machinist.

But that just ain’t happenin’.  Pick a goal and STAY WITH IT long enough to see it come to fruition.  As the great Dan John says, ‘the goal is to keep the goal the goal.’

Don’t go try to get as HYOOGE as possible one week, only to decide it’s time to get shredded the next.  Pick one goal, focus all your efforts on this goal, and kick some ass while you are at it!”

Dr. Clay Hyght:

Danny: What is the biggest nutrition mistake made by the individual trying to lose fat?

Dr. Clay: “From what I’ve seen, by FAR what holds most well-intentioned dieters back is failing to adhere to a very specific plan.  People tend to do things like “eat well” or “eat less carbs” and so on.  But if you ask them “how many grams of carbs are you eating?” they don’t know exactly.

How Many Calories Did You REALLY Just Put In Your Body?

One must first have a specific plan.  For example, “have 150 grams of carbs on days I lift weights.”  Then to make sure that actually happens, write down EXACTLY how many carbs you consume.  After a couple weeks, you’ll know if that’s gonna work or not and you can tweak from there.  (Of course the same goes for protein and fat.)”

Science is great, and I know it has influenced each one of us involved in this Q and A.  But NOTHING is more helpful than experience training people in real live situations.  Many people say that knowledge is power.  I disagree – knowledge is information, applied knowledge is power.  In this article, you have information that you can APPLY right away.  Do so and go take your physique to the next level!

If you have any tips that you have found to be particular beneficial in your training/nutrition plans, let us hear them in the comments section below.

If you’re on twitter, you can find me @DannyMcLarty

50 Commandments, A Smarter Way, and a Great Looking Gym!

August 12, 2011 by danny · Leave a Comment 

Today, I’m just here to briefly share some good stuff with you…

The 50 Commandments of Commercial Gym Etiquette by Bret Contreras - This is a hilarious read.  But those of us that have spent any time in a commercial gym can relate to pretty much each and every commandment.  There should be a handout that each new gym member receives when starting their membership at a commercial gym! :)

Nick Tumminello is known for NOT settling.  Here, he takes a basic leg swing and makes it more effective (and making it safer by reducing torque on the lumbar spine).

Mike Robertson and Bill Hartman just moved their gym, IFAST, to a new location.  Here’s a picture of the finished product…

I think it looks great!  If I end up opening a gym in Illinois I’d want my place to have a similar look  - squat racks, dumbbells, barbells, and a few fun “extras” like chains, the prowler, a glute-ham raise, and some battling ropes, to a name a few.

Speaking of Illinois, I better stop the post right now as my wife is giving me the evil eye – and that means I better get back to packing…


Exercise of the Week: All About the Hamstrings!

June 26, 2011 by danny · Leave a Comment 

This one is all about the hammies.  It is called the Single Leg Straight Leg Elevated Hip Extension (man, that’s a mouthful).  It’s another great bodyweight exercise.  It’s amazing what we can get done with just our bodyweight as the “equipment!”

To perform, lie face up on the ground with your foot on a bench.  From there, rise your hips as high as possible, and squeeze the glutes at top.  Even know this is primarily a hamstring exercise, try your best to bring your glute into play at the top of the movement.  As soon as you feel like you have lost even a little bit of range of motion (you can’t get as high), stop the set.

Progressions and Regressions

-If you can’t fully extend your hip, start with two legs, and as you get stronger, progress to the one leg version

-If you can get one leg with good form, but can’t get many reps (6 or less), use this exercise early in your workout while you are fresh

-If these are fairly easy for you, perform high rep sets (15 + reps).  Even for the strongest people, these can also become very difficult if they are performed in a fatigue state.  In this case, perform these as the 3rd or 4th leg exercise in that workout.

For example; Leg exercise one = sumo deadlifts; Leg exercise two = bulgarian split squats; And finally, leg exercise three = Single Leg Straight Leg Elevated Hip Extension.  In this case, 10-12 reps will be hard for most.

-You can also perform the version that I learned from Bret Contreras.

Here, you hold onto a barbell and elevate your entire body.  This increases the range of motion making the exercise more difficult.

So, if you want to jump higher, run faster, or just have nicer looking hammies, give these a try!

My Current Training Block…

February 9, 2011 by danny · Leave a Comment 

It has been awhile since I posted my training routine.  I’ve had a few people in person and on facebook recently ask me what my training looks like right now.  So I thought it was a good time to share.  Those that are familiar with my methods, know that I believe that there are many ways to skin a cat in regards to the best training split to use.  Throughout the course of the year, I’ll use a number of different splits… upper/lower split, body part split, full body training, “hybrid” split (i.e. Monday – Full Body, Wednesday – Upper, Thursday – Lower, Saturday – hit a body part or two that I’m trying to bring up).  Each split has its potential pros and cons.  I don’t seem to respond best to any particular split (as I mentioned in this blogpost with Bret Contreras), so I’ll rotate them in where I see fit (what kind of time I have available due to work/family/coaching obligations; what split fires me up the most to train; what split I haven’t done in awhile, etc).  If you have found one that gives you the best results, I suggest you use that split for the majority of the training year.

For the first time in months, I’m using a full body routine.  The great thing about full body training, is that it allows you to hit a muscle/movement pattern often throughout the week.  As I mentioned above, you could also pick apart a few things about full body training, as you could with any split.  But let’s not go there today.  The increased frequency in which I am stimulating each muscle group with this program will (hopefully) lead to a sexier me! ;)

Day 1

A1) Hip Thrust  3 X 10-12

A2) Incline Chest Press – DB  3 X 8

B1) Front Squats 3 X 6-8

B2) Mixed Grip Pull-ups  3 X AMRAP (set 1 = a tempo of 211, the rest of the sets = a tempo of 201)

C1) Low Rope Hammer Curls   3 X 15

C2) Band Close-Grip Push-ups   2 X AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible)

D) Seated Lateral Raise   1 Set – do 15-20 reps, take a 10 second and do AMRAP, take another 10 second break and do AMRAP

Day 2

A1) Standing Shoulder Press  3 X 10

A2) 1L (one leg) RDL   3 X 8L (per leg)

B1) TRX Row with ER (external rotation)   4 X 6 (tempo = 2011)

B2) Bulgarian Split Squat, Back Squat   2 X 7L, 1 X 15 (that is, 2 sets of bulgarians and 1 set of back squats)

C1) Hammer Curls   3 X 12

C2) Overhead Tricep Extension   3 X 12

D) Slight Incline Chest Press   1 Set - do 20-25, rest 10 seconds, perform AMRAP, rest 10 seconds and perform AMRAP

Day 3

A1) Barbell Elevated Deadlifts   2 X 3, 1 X 10

A2) Fillers

B1) Seated Cable Chest Press, Seated Cable Chest Fly 2,1 X 10,15 (2 sets of 10 presses followed by 1 set of 15 flyes)

B2) FF, RR Walking Lunges (Forward-Forward, Reverse-Reverse Walking Lunges)   3 X 5/Movement

C1) NG (neutral grip) Seated Cable Rows, Chins   2,1 X 8, AMRAP (2 sets of 8 rows and 1 set of AMRAP chins)

C2) Tricep Pushdowns   1,2 X 20,12 (1 set of 20 and 2 sets of 12)

D1) Ab Wheel Rollouts, Split-Stance Cable Lift  1,1 X 10 (1 set of each for 10 reps)

D2) Reverse Grip EZ Bar Curls   2,1 X 8,12 (sets of 8, 1 set of 12)

Program Notes

-The sets and reps you see are in accordance with week 1.  I keep the volume a little lower in week 1 to try to reduce soreness.  In the weeks to come I use a bit of cybernetic approach (going by feel) where I up the amount of sets if I am “feeling it.”

-I’ve been toying with hip thrusts for awhile, but haven’t really gone heavy yet because I just purchased my Hampton Thick Bar Pad.  This thing makes the lift much more comfortable, as the bar does NOT hurt while digging into your pelvis.  As I’m getting a better feel for this exercise, I’ll be going heavier and working in the lower rep ranges soon.

-My main goal is hypertrophy right now.

-I also train my wussy calves, but I usually do them on “off” days.  Since my job is in a gym, I usually find a 10-15 minute gap between clients somewhere in the day to hit them 2-3 times per week.

Alright, there’s your sneak peak of my current training block.  I definitely put thought into making sure I am balancing things out to keep myself healthy and strong.  But even more important then what the “paper” tells you about a program, is the effort that goes into each session.  And I always give it my all!

My Visit With Bret Contreras

January 13, 2011 by danny · Leave a Comment 

My friends Marci Nevin, Jason Curtis, Anthony Truck, and I headed down to Arizona a couple days ago for a couple reasons;

1) To watch Marci’s favorite team play in the National Championship Game (Anthony is a former Duck football player himself, so he loves Oregon as well).  We went to an “Oregon bar” in Scottsdale to root on the Ducks.  Well, they cheered on the Ducks but I quietly (I cheered in my head) cheered on Auburn, as a Tiger victory would win me some money in an office pool.  I never thought I’d say this, War Eagle!  And the more important reason for the trip to Arizona…

2) To get a visit in with Bret Contreras before he makes the move to New Zealand.  For those of you who don’t know the “Glute Guy,” let me introduce him;

Bret is a trainer that has taken the industry by storm over the past year.  He has a very popular blog and probably knows more about the glutes than any other person in the world.  But, he is definitely more than just a Glute Guy.  His knowledge is deep and he gets his clients results, plain and simple.  Here is a picture of Bret’s clients, Karli, Katie, and Kellie…

Marci and I had the chance to talk shop with Bret and have him coach us through a few new(er) exercises for a few hours.  But when you have so much to talk about, that 3 hours goes by way too fast.  With that said, we still got a lot out of our visit, and it was definitely worth the trip!  Below is a summary of the “highlights” (at least in my eyes) of our time with Bret in his garage gym (aka, BCSC).  I’ll paraphrase (in red) what he had to say to Marci and myself.  And at times, I’ll add my 2 cents …

-Which is the best way to train?  Is it full body, an upper/lower split, or a body part split?  None of these necessarily.  Each person responds differently to training.  You have to experiment to find out which is best for you.  For example, if I don’t hit a muscle group/movement often (i.e. with full body training), I get weaker.  But my training partner is just the opposite.  He definitely gets his best results while hitting each body part one time per week (i.e. body part split). 

Danny’s note: I feel that with all the different splits I’ve tried over the years, that no particular split has gotten me considerably better results than the other.  For this reason, over the course of a training year, I incorporate all three “types” (full body, upper/lower, and body part split).

-When it comes to females however, I prefer full body training for the majority.  They recover quicker and most likely detrain quicker.  Therefore hitting a muscle/movement frequently is probably best for the majority of females (to read Bret’s thoughts on training females in more detail, check out this blog post - http://bretcontreras.com/2010/10/training-women/).

-Simply getting people stronger (in a smart, progressive manner) is not only great for athletic performance and physique enhancement, it can be very powerful in preventing injury.  Awhile back, my buddy told me that he was scheduled to have back surgery in two weeks.  So I asked him, ‘why haven’t you come in to see me!?!’  He decided to give it a shot and not only were we able to avoid him having this surgery, he now has ZERO back pain!

Danny’s Note: While there are a million examples of how strengthening the entire body can help prevent injury, here are a couple common that I see: Running one mile is essentially 1500 repetitions (in the same repetitive fashion) at two to five times your body weight (depending on your speed).  Do you think strengthening the muscles around the hips, knees, and ankles will provide those joints some extra support to help with all of this pounding?  I sure do!  Another example: people that have weak glutes will call on the syngerists to perform a task (i.e. sprinting).  If the glutes are not doing their job, the hamstrings will have to work overtime which could lead to a hamstring injury (this is called synergistic dominance).  Getting the glutes stronger will often spare the back, which I suspect is one reason that Bret’s friend no longer has any back pain.  Ahh, the power of the glutes!

-People seem to be forgetting about muscles.  I know the nervous system is important, but lets not devalue the importance of our muscles.

-Band Hip Rotations…

Danny’s note: Bret went over this exercise with Marci and I.  It is great because it works the hip external rotators (including the glute max as an external rotator).  Marci and I also noted how much we felt it in our core.  Talk about a big-bang-for-your-buck movement!

-Quite often, we set the bar way too low.  Danny, if I look at you and think, ‘hey, you look like a 225 bench presser, then that is probably all that I’m going to get out of you.’  I expect big things from my clients, which has been very helpful in getting them great results!

Danny’s note:  I wasn’t sure if Bret really thought I was a 225 pound bench presser.  So after he finished making his point, I quickly chimed in, “by the way, my bench is 300!”  Marci and Bret thought it was funny that it was important for me to let him know that me maxing ONLY 225 pounds was NOT TRUE!  :)

-Let me show you two what my life is like.  Come take a look in my bedroom.  You see ALL OF those bodybuilding magazines on the floor by my bed?  I’m always reading bodybuilding mags.  We can learn a ton from this group!  Too many coaches/trainers dismiss the methods of bodybuilders.  I think that is a huge mistake.  Believe me, I also learn from the powerlifters, olympic lifters, and athletes.  But we can take a little something from each group and use it to optimize the training of our clients, and for our own training.  The key is to know how and when to implement these different methods.

-Over the years, I’ve read a ton of bodybuilding magazines.  When I hear over and over and over again that the pump has been very important to them in achieving unbelievable results, there HAS TO BE something to it.

Danny’s Note: In my opinion, to achieve optimal results, a lot of it comes to how you interpret information.  And more importantly, how you apply this information.  If I had three guys tell me their opinion on “da pump,” it may sound like this.

Person 1 – “The pump is everything.  If you don’t go to the gym and achieve a BIG pump, then you’re wasting your time!”

Person 2 – “The pump doesn’t mean anything.  Getting stronger is all you need to achieve size.”

Person 3 – “To achieve maximum hypertrophy (muscle size), it is important to get stronger.  But it is also important to get a good pump.  This combination will yield optimal results.”

Person 1 and 2 are only speaking in half-truths.  While person 3 “gets it.”  He/she knows how to interpret and APPLY information!  I like person #3 and would like to play dodge ball with him (I don’t know, first thing that came to mind).

-Too many people in this field get so emotional with training.  If you and I disagree on something, that is ok.  I’ll still have no problem hanging out with you.  I’ve seen people that literally hate someone because they disagree with them on something regarding training.  Ridiculous!

-Trainers/coaches need to “palpate” their clients glutes.  How else are we going to know if they are getting them firing the way we want?  I’m not saying that we should molest them, but get in there and push into their glutes to see if they are firing during various exercises.

-Static assessments are important and can give us some indications.  But watching them move is way more powerful.

Danny here again: There was more to this visit, but above are some of the things that stood out to me.  I want to reiterate, the above is me paraphrasing what I took from our conversation.  Bret, if I misrepresented you in any way, feel free to call my glutes soft and squishy on your website – although we all know that is NOT true. ;)

What Else?

Bret talked to us quite a bit about crunches and sit-ups and how he believes that they are being thrown under the bus a bit.  The research of Stuart McGill has made many of us stop (or greatly reduce) performing crunches/sit-ups.  For the most part Bret doesn’t  buy into the research but admits that a lot more research needs to be done.  I played devil’s advocate with him and said something like; “since we all sit way too much (with rounded-back posture and shortened hip flexors) crunches just reinforce that poor posture.  And as McGill has pointed out, it seems we have a fixed number of flexion/extension cycles on the lumbar spine before we herniate a disc (although this thought process may be flawed since this study was done on dead animals that do NOT have the recuperate abilities that us live humans have), I prefer to error on the side of caution and strengthen the rectus in other ways” (i.e. ab wheel rollouts).  Bret said that he wouldn’t blame a person for thinking this way and has no problem with that.  This is one thing that I really like about Bret; he is open-minded enough to listen to many different ideas and is not married to one philosophy. 

Since crunches/sit-ups were one of the first topics Bret brought up, I got the impression that he is passionate about this subject.  So stay tuned to get his thoughts in future blog posts on his ’site.

Bret’s client, professional baseball pitcher Steve Hammond came into train while we were there.  While he was training I took a video of him doing a single-leg hip thrust.  It was his first time trying it.  His first comment was that he felt the “up leg” (this is supposed to be the non-working leg) working quite a bit (too much).  But after getting the hang of it he started to rip off reps while fully activating the working glute (the down leg).  Here is the video…

Repping out 225 on his first day of trying these is not bad.  Especially considering that there are many people that can’t do one single leg body weight rep properly!

Marci and I both got a chance to try Bret’s invention – the Skorcher!  It is great for putting you in proper position to really activate those glutes!  Plus, with the deep stretch that it allows at the bottom of the movement, you can really feel your hammies firing.  For some reason, I didn’t get tape of Marci and I using the Skorcher.  But am I happy to say that I got 445 pounds for 10 reps! (or was it just single leg body weight reps that I did – can’t remember) ;)  

For those you that haven’t seen the Skorcher in action, here you go…

Well, that will just about rap it up.  Thanks again Bret for letting us invade your garage.  I’ve learned a ton from you and look forward to continue learning from you!  In true Bret Contreras fashion, I’ll close with a picture of his favorite girl on his website.  Enjoy…

This post is brought to you by Sears Fit Club.

My Favorites of 2010

December 23, 2010 by danny · Leave a Comment 

The year is almost over and it has been a tough one for many.  But I’m hoping we can all stay positive, work really hard, and do all we can to help one another out.  I’m feeling pretty good going into 2011.  Below, I’m going to  randomly put down some of my favorites from this past year.  Now, I’m sure I ate some of these foods in 2009, but for whatever reason, they became my favorites in ‘10.  I have not put much thought into this list, so these are the first things that pop into my head…

Favorite Carbohydate Of The Year (OTY) – Sweet Potatoes.  I never really disliked sweet potatoes, but until this year, I never realized how much I like them.  I especially like them with a good meat source…

Favorite Protein OTY – I’ve been all over grass-fed beef this year!  I love it and it goes great with sweet potatoes and some veggies.  I usually pick up mine from Trader Joe’s.

Favorite Cooking Oil OTY – Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.  This stuff handles high heat well and adds a nice flavor to many foods. 

My Favorite “Type” of Cardio OTY – “Inverted Ladder” – I learned this from Tony Gentilcore and me and my clients have been “loving” it!  An example of this can be found here.  You can find a description of how to set up the sets and reps of an inverted ladder in this article.

My Favorite NBA Player To Watch In 2010 (and beyond I’m sure) – Derrick Rose.  We all knew he’d be good, but I don’t think many thought that he would progress this fast!  If he doesn’t win the MVP this year, he will definitely be in the top 5.

Favorite Sports Roundtable OTY – Though I loved the MLB Roundtable, the NFL Roundtable just beat it out as #1 for 2010.

Favorite Danny McLarty Basketball Youtube Video OTY – Even know the Youtubers seemed to like this video the most, as it has nearly 26,000 hits, I like this video more because it takes the move and then has me finishing with a basket – which is the end goal anyway! 

Favorite Fitness Article That I Published This Year - ”The War on Fat Loss“  An assist goes to Marci Nevin on this one!

Favorite Basketball Article That I Published This Year – I’m taking the easy way out… tie.  Tie between “Take Your Ball Handling Skills To The Next Level” and “Get OUT of Your High-Top Shoes

Favorite Country Performer OTY – Eric Church.  I really didn’t know who he was until my good friends Ryan and Sarah Hoffman told my wife and I that we have to go see him when he comes to town.  So we did.  We went down to San Jose and I was floored!  You can tell that he loves what he does… and he is very good at it.  If you don’t know him yet, check him out! 

Favorite Blog OTYBret Contreras’ Blog. 

Favorite New Place To Post Training Info – Sears Fit Club

Favorite Movie OTY – I guess this will go to, “The Town”  – at least I can’t think of anything better off the top of my head.  Am I forgetting an obvious one?

Favorite TV Show OTY – No doubt, “The Office” – Sometimes when I’m watching it I think to myself, “this can’t get any more funny!!!”

Favorite Game OTY – Da Bears beating the Packers a couple months back.  Face, burn, ‘n all that schtuff Packer’s fans!  You know I love you GB fans – just not when we step between the internet lines! :)

And My Absolute Favorite Thing OTY- After 3 in vitro attempts my wife and I are finally pregnant … with twins!  It has been a difficult couple of years on this front (especially on her, with all the needles, and weight gain, and sickness, etc.), but it seems to have paid off.  Even know we have a long way to go, we are cautiously excited.  Today we are exactly 16 weeks in.  Let’s hope everything continues to go well!!!  Here’s a picture of her baby(s) bump starting to make its appearance…

Everyone finish the year strong and lets make 2011 a great one!