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!

Guest Post by Jamie Vanderheyden: “It’s All About Performance”

October 2, 2012 by danny · Leave a Comment 

Today’s article comes from my good buddy, Jamie Vanderheyden. This is a great article, and I have to say that I definitely agree with him.  Enjoy…


On the V-tip.

At a strength and conditioning clinic, I had the rare opportunity to sit down and talk with Charles Staley.  Charles is perhaps one of the most respected voices of reason, and his knowledge seems so logical and profound.  He has the ability to see the answers, and sift through all the information overload/confusion many of us experience (Internet forums, bodybuilding magazines, locker room babble, and TERRIBLE advice from random YouTube and Google searches).

Coach Staley knows a thing or two about performance!

After speaking with him, I began to inside out my thinking, and almost go against the grain in some cases.  His philosophies were very unique.  Then, I had an AH HA moment.

Performance.  It’s ALL about Performance. Who cares if I’m not a competing athlete anymore.

Let’s be honest, most women go to the gym because they want to lose X pounds, or fit into size X.  I understand the goal, but it is ultimately a pass/fail system.  It burns people out, and it makes women ecstatic in success, or it makes them irate in failure.  So they lunge, squat, take step classes, diet, and then hop on the scale.  All their efforts come back to that one… dreaded… moment.  No offense, but that system sucks for long term commitments and a healthy lifestyle.  That is very short term thinking and halts people again and again.  It may have merits, but I have a new way of thinking for the long haul.

Let’s ask our female Olympic athletes why their bodies are so incredibly fit.  Lean mid sections, tight glutes, and their firm and lean shoulders are often reflecting in the sun.  Their answer will simply revolve around the fact that their PERFORMANCE in their event is the ULTIMATE goal, not their jean size.

Their rocking bodies are a side effect of wanting to increase and better their PERFORMANCES.  So their goal is not to look good, that just happens as a side result of perusing goals in PERFORMANCE.  In addition, drinking dollar drafts and eating takeout food 3 days a week would hurt their PERFORMANCE as well.  They are not thinking about getting fat, they are thinking about getting slower, or less efficient in their event.

Yes, but none of us are competitive athletes, and certainly not an Olympic one, Jamie.

Correct, but does that mean that you cannot set PERFORMANCE GOALS, or set them with your trainer.

Imagine if you said,

“I can’t wait to get to the gym today because I want to do 8 push-ups this time instead of the 5 I did last workout.”

“I just know I can hold my plank for 15 more seconds, and I’m not wimping out this time.”

“I am not going to let that battling rope control me, I will slam that thing relentlessly.”

“I am going to lunge down and back with a 25 pound plate this time.”

That is having a “Performance Mindset”, and it certainly more motivating than getting on an elliptical, and seeing the total calories burned was equal to the coke and pop tart you ate for breakfast.

Then you say,

“I have to go to the stinking gym and ride the elliptical for 30 minutes so I can lose 2 pounds.”

If you are on the V-Tip, start thinking about pursuing and crushing some performance goals that are appropriate for you.

Trust me, shoot for achieving performance goals in the gym, eat so that the performance is possible, enjoy your workouts, and then strut your stuff!

Best of Luck,

Jamie Vanderheyden


Boom!  You nailed it, Jamie!  Nice job.  Are you all setting performance goals for yourself?  If not, as you can see from Jamie’s article, it’s time to start!

Quick Tips: Training and Nutrition – Episode I

September 25, 2012 by danny · Leave a Comment 

Throughout the course of each week, I make sure to find time to read nutrition/training related articles/blogs.  However I only have so much time in my day, so reading long article after long article can become too time consuming or just start to get old after awhile.  Therefore, I really like articles that can provide quick, easy to apply information… kind of like this blog post I made a few months back.  Or, like the series Eric Cressey has going over on his blog.

My good friends from back in Cali are here to drop some quality tips that can help you get one step closer to reaching your health and fitness goals.  Both Michelle Adams and Marci Nevin have already made some great contributions (found HERE and HERE and HERE), and today they’re back for more…

Tips From Michelle…

#1) Stay busy! Don’t plop down on the couch at night and eat in front of the TV. Eat with the TV off. Clean up. Move on. One of my clients gave me a tip. She schedules something to do right after she eats, like fold the laundry. (Note from Danny: Oh, me likey!  Great idea… Michelle be sure to give your client props for me.  What a great idea!

2) Keep your list of food choices small. Stick to foods you like and don’t force yourself to eat foods you don’t like. I love oatmeal. When I was dieting for a show it was my carb of choice. Are sweet potatoes better? Yes. But when I was dieting it satisfied me. Feeling deprived just leads to overeating. I enjoy more food options now but I go back to my narrow food list when I need to tighten up. Caveat is #3.

#3) Get obsessed with vegetables. Explore new veggies and see how many colors you can eat it one day.

#4) Have tea at night after dinner. That is a tough time for me. I make a doctored up lemon ginseng tea, heating up a 1/2 c unsweetened almond milk and water and adding some liquid vanilla stevia. It’s very satisfying and hits my sweet tooth.

#5) Follow someone on Facebook that inspires you. I love Jamie Eason. Who doesn’t?! Just going to her page, reading her posts and looking at her awesome pics motivates me to stay on track.

Jamie Eason

Tips from Marci…

#1) In the wise words of Dr. John Berardi, “If it’s in your house, eventually you will eat it.” This is a simple way of saying, dont bring your trigger foods into your home. There are certain foods that I just cant buy, even healthy ones, as I know I have the ability to eat the entire box/jar in one sitting. There is bound to be a time when you lose your self control and cave to these foods, which often sets off a cascade of negative emotions and can cause you to blow your diet for the rest of the day.

#2) Some of my best workouts have come on the days when I felt the worst or was the least motivated. If a time comes when you really don’t feel like training, just get yourself to the gym (or where ever you train) and at least go through your warm up and a few sets. 99% of the time you will get into the zone and end up completing your whole workout.

#3) Stop program hopping if you don’t see the results you want within the first week. There is no perfect diet or training plan. The results you get are determined by how well you execute it. Find a plan and stick to it. Just make sure it is one that you enjoy and will be consistent with, as you will be much more likely to succeed.

Tips from Danny…

#1) Similar to tip #4 from Michelle above…

When I start to get a craving that I know I have no control over (i.e. my hand reaches for my phone to dial up some pepperoni pizza from the local pizza joint even though my brain is yelling, “PUT THE PHONE DOWN!”), I have 3 things that have worked for me to beat these STONG cravings..

A) Brush my teeth.  Because who feels like eating after getting that “clean mouth feel?”

B) Chew a piece of gum.

C) Drink tea (like Michelle mentioned).

Those incredibly strong cravings aren’t going to last that long, so if you can get rid of them for even a few minutes, they usually don’t come back.

#2) Make sure you have regressions and progressions for every exercise that you perform.  For example, let’s look at some single leg exercises, going from easiest to hardest…

Static Lunges with dumbbells (DBs) < Reverse Lunges with DBs < Walking Lunges with DBs < Static Lunges with a barbell (BB) < Bulgarian Split Squats with DBs < Reverse Lunges with a BB < Walking Lunges with a BB < Bulgarian Split Squats with a BB.

Barbell Bulgarian Split Squats

Now, I know I didn’t list EVERY POSSIBLE single exercise imaginable.  And you may disagree with the order in which I ranked the difficulty level of each.  But I hope you get the point.  And that is, if you are struggling to keep good form on one exercise, regress and master another one before “moving up the ladder” to a move difficult one.

Alright, that’ll wrap it up for now.  I’ll be back with some more great and easy (in theory) to apply tips from some of my friends in the fitness biz.

Now get out of here and go stock up on some tea and colored veggies.  Now!

If you think these tips can help a family or friend out, be sure to share it on FB and/or twitter…

First Time Front Squatters and Squat Progressions

August 1, 2012 by danny · 8 Comments 

If you want to improve your strength, power, and performance for a sport, squats are great!  If you want to lose fat or gain muscle to help make you look sexier, squats are great.  If you want to improve your mobility and stability, squats are great.  The problem is, most people don’t take the time to learn how to perform them correctly.

My progressions with newer lifters usually look like this…

#1) Learn the goblet box squat
#2) Learn to goblet squat without the box to sit on (if that is “not working” go to #3, then come back and master #2).
#3) Learn to barbell box squat with the bar on your back
#4) Learn to front squat
#5) Learn to back squat

Goblet Squats

These phases are not set in stone and some people may never get to back squatting while others may be ready to back squat pretty much from the get-go.

This past week I had a few of my athletes (all basketball players) learn the front squat (and one is now just learning how to goblet box squat).  It may take weeks or even months before going to the next step.  The key is NOT to rush things.  You’ll have plenty of time to get more advanced and add load.  But MAKE SURE to learn how to squat the right way FIRST… then worry about adding load later.

The first video is of Liz and Michael…

Liz is preparing for her freshman year of basketball at Lehigh.  We actually did barbell box squats today for the first time.  Although she still has a little work to make them better, for her first time, she did very well.  By the time she leaves for school in a few weeks, we’ll have barbell back squats down and I’m sure her Strength Coach at Lehigh will be pleased (as back squats are in their training program).

This was Michael’s very first set of front squats, and I thought he did very well.  He is mobile/stable enough to get a couple inches lower (as I’ve seen him get that depth with goblet squats), but I didn’t want to force the range of motion on his very first set of front squats.  Soon, he’ll be adding weight to the bar and be a stud!

Next up, Paige and Paityn…

Paige has already goblet squatted, back squatted and front squatted.  She’s a pretty “natural” squatter.  I took a little longer with Paityn because she has had a tendency to let her knees cave.  So I didn’t want her front squatting and performing any more difficult squatting variations until she started to “nail” goblet squats and box squats.  Well, she has gotten good at those variations, and for a first time front squatter, she also did very well.  Like Michael, she has a couple inches of depth in her, and we’ll get to that next week.

Once you are ready (if ever) to deep back squat, John Alvino has a very good video with all the tips/cues necessary to become a good squatter…

There are so many benefits to squatting, but make sure to take your time progressing.

If this post has been beneficial to you, please hit the “like” and “tweet” buttons.  Thank you!

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…

My Chest Specialization Program

April 2, 2012 by danny · Leave a Comment 

When you focus on bringing up a body part (or two), you’re dealing with a different animal.  If you try to keep the same volume/intensity for the rest of your body, it’s just not going to work – something has to give!  While on a specialization program, the goal for your rest of your body is maintenance.

In other words, while I’m trying to improve my chest (specifically my upper chest) with this program, I know that my biceps or quads are not going to be making great improvements in strength and/or size.  So I am simply trying to maintain the non-chest areas.

IF I did try to also make considerable improvements to my biceps + quads + shoulders (for example) while on a chest specialization program, it would be pretty much impossible to maximize chest development.  Think of it like learning a new language: if my goal was to try to speak Spanish as fluently as possible before heading over to Spain in 30 days (wouldn’t that be nice!), it wouldn’t make sense to ALSO take a German and isiZulu (a language in South Africa) class at the same time.  Doing so would slow me down in regards to becoming as fluent as possible in Spanish in a short period of time.  Same thing with my (and your) body: try to bring up too many body parts at once, and none of them will improve much at all.  Now, there are some caveats to this whole “body part specialization” thing, and I’ll include them in the “notes” section below.

There Are Many Ways To Skin A Cat

When embarking on a specialization program, most people up the frequency of said body part.  In other words, if you usually hit your back one or two times per week, you may increase that to 3 times per week (or potentially more if you set it up properly with smart progressions built in).  Ask most experienced people, and they’ll tell you that high frequency training for an area that you are trying to bring up is the way to go.  Now, once you’ve determined the frequency, you can go about the program design in a number of ways…

-Body part split where you work that body part on it’s own (i.e. chest 3 times per week) and then have a separate day where you work all of the non-chest parts of your body together (again, just to maintain those areas).

-Full body training where you work the entire body at each training session, but you make sure to have a bigger focus on the body part that you are trying to bring up.

An upper/lower split where you really hammer the area that you are trying improve on upper body day (if it is an upper body part that you are attacking).  And then on the lower body days, you decrease the volume to make sure you are keeping yourself pretty fresh when it’s time to hit the intended body part again.  An example of this would be: if you usually do about 20 sets for your legs, you may reduce your overall sets to 12 while trying to bring up another area.

Those are just a few examples.  If you are really creative you can come up with other ways to set up a specialization program.  For example, here is mine…

Body part: Chest

Number of times I’m working the chest per week: 3

The Rest of the body: I’m hitting one or two other body parts on the same day that I am hitting chest.

The volume of the other body parts on these “chest days” is low so as not to interfere with my main intent.

My Program

Here’s an overview of what it looks like…

Day 1 – Chest (Back + Biceps)

This day consists of 3 chest exercises, 1 back exercise and 1 bicep exercise.

Day 2 – Chest (Legs)

This day consists of 3 chest exercise, 1 quad dominate exercise (2 sets of bulgarian split squats), and 2 hip dominant exercises (3 sets of TRX Leg Curls, and 1 set of high rep hip thrusts).

Day 3 – Chest (Triceps)

This day consists of 5 chest exercises (a couple chest supersets today, which is why it seems like there are so many chest exercises), and 1 tricep exercise.

Throughout these 3 days, I also have some ab work mixed in, as well as more “scapular retraction” exercises in the program.  Exercises like “Supine Band No Money.”

This is to help ensure that I stay mostly balanced in my upper body pushing/pulling – so I can maintain good posture/shoulder health.


-When performing a higher frequency specialization program, make sure to ease into it on week 1 of the program (especially the first day of the new program).  If you don’t, you’ll be too sore to get a good lift in for that same body part a couple days later.

-No, I am NOT “that guy.”  You know, that guy that only does chest and/or biceps when taking on a specialization program.  I’ve spent MANY hours squatting, deadlifting, performing chin-ups, bulgarian split squats, rows, etc. etc.  So don’t judge me! ;)

-Make sure you are consuming ample calories when trying to bring up a body part.  It would be very difficult to get my chest to grow at all if my eating resembled that of a lst grader.

-If you are newer to training and haven’t put in YEARS of hard work, don’t worry about specializing any particular areas yet.  Your “newbie” gains will allow you to improve all over your body.  Save the specialization stuff for the time you “hit a wall,” in a few years from now.

-I must reiterate, training/eating should have a clear focus.  For example – if you are trying to drop a considerable amount of weight, your training/nutrition should reflect that.  In this case it would NOT be smart to say; “I’m hoping to lose 20 pounds by summer while bringing up my chest and shoulders.”  Pick ONE MAIN GOAL, and attack that goal with everything you have.

-Girls can specialize too.  Getting better glutes and shoulders for example, can go a LONG way in making your body look sexier.  I mention this because I know *some* females think fat loss, fat loss, fat loss (cardio, cardio, cardio) 24/7/365.

-I chose to condense the rest of my training into the 3 chest days because of my schedule… raising the twins + all the basketball lessons + training sessions + the on-line writing & social media obligations, and I’m swamped!  But if I had a little more time right now, I probably would have gone with 3 chest days + 1 “rest of the body,” day.

With beach season right around the corner I thought it only made sense to pick a “beach muscle” to hit extra hard right now! :)

Grow chest, grow!

Wish me luck!

If you have any comments, questions, or thoughts, let me hear them in the comments section below.

You can connect with me on twitter @DannyMcLarty

14 Reasons I’ve Been Able To Keep My Body (Mostly) Healthy

February 15, 2012 by danny · 4 Comments 

I’m 35 years old now, and I’m happy to say that I’ve never had a major injury (outside of a bad car accident when I was about 11 years old).  While I don’t have it down to an exact science, I do feel that I have a pretty good handle on why I’ve been able to stay mostly injury free.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of bumps, bruises, sprained ankles, etc along the way.  But I’ve never had a nagging injury that lasts for an extended period of time.  And I’ve only broken one bone in my body (a bone in my finger my sophomore year in college.  I got called for a charge, but it should have been an And-1!  Damn ref! ;) ).

Here are the cliffs notes reasons of why I think I’ve been fortunate to stay as healthy as I have over the years…

1) I’ve adapted my cardio plan as I’ve gotten older.  Playing basketball is the only high impact cardio that I perform. By the time we hit our 30s, our bodies (assuming we have been active in sports/working out since we were kids) have taken a beating. Performing high volumes of high impact cardio just isn’t worth it to me. There a 1,000,281 effective low impact options available, and those are the options that I plan on sticking with the rest of my life.

2) As you can see in the video above, I keep my cardio as non-repetitive as possible. For example, jumping rope is great, but if I perform 15 minutes of jump rope 3 times per week for 4 weeks, we’re talking 180 minutes (and thousandssssss of reps).  Mixing up the kind of cardio that you perform (battling ropes, jump rope, kettlebell swings, medicine ball slams, box jumps, the prowler etc. etc.) will more evenly distribute the stress throughout the your body and keep you healthier longer.

Yes, I realize there is some impact in the above video, but again, since I’m using a few different exercises, the volume is kept low and for me this = all good.

Note: If you play a sport, you will have to perform high impact, high repetitive activities. It’s the nature of the beast.  Which leads me to…

3) My volume of playing basketball has GREATLY decreased over the last 5 or so years. If you add up all the minutes that my knees, ankles, hips, and low back have spent POUNDING the pavement and the hard wood, the number would be REALLY high! Even know I still want to be good at basketball, it’s more important to me to NOT ALWAYS be hurting. I play in a league once a week right now (and I’ll occasionally add a pick-up game throughout the course of the week). Anyway, after every game (the next day in particular) it hurts me to just walk, sit, stand, and pick weeds out of the neighbors yards (something I do in my spare time.  That and I bus my own tables at restaurants. What can I say, I’m pretty awesome).

Now, I’d like to play more. But at what cost? I’d be a 42 year old dad that couldn’t go out and play tag with his kids if I were still playing hoops everyday.  No thanks. Playing once per week is enough for me to get my b-ball fix. As we get older, we need to pick our battles and see the big picture.

4) I perform soft-tissue work everyday. I basically stopped playing hoops in my late 20s due to the fact that I couldn’t even bend down 2 inches without my knees SCREAMING at me.  Then I invented the foam roller (yep, invented… another awesome thing about me) and it has changed my life.

Unfortunately, my foam rolling sessions are not as sexy as this guys.

I bring the roller to literally every basketball game that I play in and roll for a few minutes before tip-off, quite often during half time, and then again immediately following the game.  I also use the roller (and a lacrosse ball) before every lifting session (particularly on leg day).  This allowed me to get back in the game and greatly reduce the aches and pains that I was experiencing (though, this has NOT eliminated the aches by any stretch).

I’ve spent some time talking about my achy knees.  If you also have “knee-issues,” check out this blogpost for some quick tips…

Are Your Knees Always Sore?

5) I work on quad/hip flexibility/mobility. Years ago (before I was a trainer), someone told me to stretch my hammies to help with my achy knees. I did. I didn’t help. But with all the reading I do, I came across some great information that suggested I (people with knees pain) stretch my quads/hips to help with the pain.  This, along with the other tips I’ve given has helped out greatly (again, in the, “Are Your Knees Always Sore” post, I elaborate).

6) I’m conscious about not sitting for extended periods of time.

Try to go no more than 15 minutes of sitting in the same position.  Get up. Fidget. Move. Change positions. My ADD/impatience/immaturity/”antsyness” helps me in this regard.  But if you hit adulthood a long time ago and don’t share my kid-like qualities, be sure to move around as much as possible.  It can be done (if you have an office job) and your back will thank you.

7) My program design takes posture/imbalances into consideration. Any good training program should provide balance.  For example, even if you are the typical guy and want pecs so BIG that you make Dolly Parton look flat-chested, you should still perform a ton of work to strengthen the muscles around your scapular.  This is a accomplished with exercises like row variations, scapular stability exercises (like the supine no money with band, exercise) and rotator cuff exercises.  Do more of this kind of stuff and less bench pressing.  You’re shoulders with thank you in the long run.

8) I avoid going to failure too often. Believe me, I work my ass off in the weight room. All focus. As much bar speed as possible. Trying to outdo previous training sessions whenever possible.  BUT, I pick my spots when it comes to letting my form break down. I rarely miss a rep.  When bar speed slows, I stop the set (although I must admit, this isn’t always the case when the juices get flowing).  This will help prevent burnout and keep you going strong for years to come.

9) Week one of a new program is “intro week.” This is something that I’ve been doing with my training over the last few years and I’m glad that I made the switch.  When we start a new program, we change up the exercises, the reps, the sets, etc.  This change alone will bring soreness to our muscles.  So if you make week 1 of your program a higher volume week, you’re sure to be limping around for days.  This is why I to ease into week 1 of my program.  It limits (but doesn’t prevent) soreness so that I’m feeling good going into week 2… rather than always working from a “deficit.”

10) I take deload weeks. The last week of every program that I’m on, I make sure to drop the volume and stay even a little further from failure than usual.  Once again, this will keep you going strong much longer in your training “career.”  It’s also a great psychological break.  This doesn’t mean that you should be a wuss on deload week.  It just means that some adjustments are needed and these adjustments will serve you well for long-term success. If you are a newbie, don’t worry about deloading and “over thinking.”  Just get in the damn weight room consistently, and try to use a balanced program.

11) I avoid advanced training methods like drop-sets, the “post-fatigue method,” etc. Well, that isn’t exactly true.  These methods can be beneficial to a trainee, but if used too often they can once again lead to stagnation/burn out.  Use these methods sparingly.

12) I try to avoid being “too extreme.” Like I mentioned above, I get after it when working out.  But I see some guys (and maybe some girls too) that kick their own ass so hard at every session, that they are basically a walking injury.  It’s almost like they brag about the injuries that they have obtained through weight lifting; “bro, I have torn my pec, my left hamstring, my right calf, my supraspinatus, strained both quads, my groin, my left knee clicks every time I walk and I can barely bend my right elbow anymore.  But that’s what it takes to get your goals, dude!”  Really?  No, it doesn’t! Smart training and restoration methods can go a loooong way in preventing this from happening.  I love to set a new PR (personal record).  But at this point in my life, adding another 5 pounds to my deadlift is not top priority. If it is yours (and you do not compete in powerlifting), more power to you.  But don’t say that I didn’t worn you.

13) Luck. I been pretty lucky. Who knows, tomorrow I could step out of my car and onto a sheet of ice, fall down and break my wrist.  Thus far, that hasn’t happened. Let’s hope this luck continues.

13) Like I said, I read/study a lot.  This added brain power has definitely helped. I used to sprain my ankles quite a bit on the basketball court.  Then I found about ways to strengthen my ankles and I haven’t turned my ankle in I don’t know how many years.  How do we strengthen our ankles to help avoid injury (both ankle and knee injuries).  Well, I think this article says it best… “Get Out of Your High-Top Shoes.”  The point is, keep learning and good things quite often happen.

14) What we did “back in the day” can affect how we feel today.

Good set-up kid. Just make sure NOT to round your back!

If you’ve spent the last 8 years sitting 8 hours per day, don’t come crying to me; “Danny, I did what you said. I’ve GREATLY reduced my sitting over the last 3 days and my back STILL hurts!” I’m sorry, but it’s going to take A LOT longer to “undo” all the damage that you created.

Here’s another example. I’m currently training a guy by the name of Rich. Rich was a good athlete back in high school… a big, strong guy.  He used to bench about 350 pounds.  That’s all well ‘n good. But when I have Rich performing rotator cuff exercises, 5 pounds is hard for him.  So here we have a guy that used to bench 350, but using the external rotators of his rotator cuff to lift 5 pounds is difficult?  Oops, looks like there was an imbalance in his high school lifting program! As mentioned above, not enough rowing, scapular stability work and rotator cuff work.  No wonder his shoulders hurt!!!  If this sounds like you, it does NOT mean all hope is lost.  It just means that you have to be patient, as it takes time.  And the synergistic affects of all the above have to be in place (i.e. including some rotator cuff work can help, but not if the person continues to bench press 3 days per week, sits with a rounded back all day, and never performs a row).

Alright, there’s my list of 14.  I’m sure I could sit here and think of a few more reasons that I’ve stayed relatively healthy. But all that sitting won’t help anyone.

On last week’s blogpost you may remember that I have some great nutrition information coming this week.  Well, it’s on the way…. but I’ve decided to make NEXT week “nutrition week.”  The Brian St. Pierre interview is in, as are my (lady) friend’s food logs.  So I’ll be sharing all of that next week.  See you then!

If you have any injury-prevention tips that have worked well for you, please share them in the comments section below. Like I said, I love to learn!

All Things Pull-Ups

January 12, 2012 by danny · 2 Comments 

The other day I did a blogpost featuring “All Things TRX” – well today I’m back at it with all things pull-ups.  Pull-ups are a great exercise that works the back, biceps, core, and gripping muscles.  Check out the video below with some “normal” and unique variations that many of you probably haven’t tried yet. (NOTE: I FINALLY learned how to insert music into my videos… thanks to Dane for showing me how!)

And if you are someone that is on the fence – close, but can’t QUITE get that first chin-up, the video below should help you out.

Make 2012 the year that you get your first chin-up!  And for those of you that are more advanced, you now have more options in your pull-up toolbox!

Now that I have babies, pull-ups have more than one meaning!

Remember, you can find me on twitter @DannyMcLarty – connect with me so we can talk fitness, sports, antiquing, and politics (yeah right, there’s a better chance that you’ll find me talking about antiques than get me to talk politics!).

2011: The Year That Was…

December 21, 2011 by danny · Leave a Comment 

Once again, the end of the year is already here!  It’s time to reflect on what we did, what we are proud of, and what we could do better going forward.  As a reminder, when you sit down to write your resolutions, focus on your behaviors rather than your goals.  For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds by February 14th, write down the behaviors that will help get you there…

1) I will eat 6 + servings of fruits and VEGGIES per day.

2) I will train with weights 3 times per week and get 2 additional cardio sessions in.

3) I will eat (pick your vice) only 1 time per week – max.

Focusing on your behaviors will give you the road map to reach your goals.


2011 was a BIG year for me… life changing!  Let’s take a look at some of the bigger events that stood out – both training and non-training.

-In January me and my friend’s Marci and Jason flew down to Arizona for some fun and some education.  Marci and I visited Bret Contreras and his garage gym.  It was great and we picked up a lot of great information from Bret!  I reviewed our time with Bret, here… My Visit With Bret Contreras.

-My favorite interview of the year was the one I did with Jen Comas Keck.  She’s one bad ass girl!  You can read more about it here… Girl Gone Strong.

-As 2011 kept moving on, Shondra went from pregnant, to VERY PREGNANT!

You'd think there was two in there!

-The BIGGEST day of my life happened on May 27th, 2011 (at 8:02 and 8:03 a.m. – in case you were wondering :) ) …

-This was a fun little interview I did with the Rockford Register Star.

-I continued my work, writing for FitStudio.

-I became a FitFluential Ambassador.  Chief Execute Officer and Founder, Kelly Olexa asked for a blog post directed to those new to fitness.  This is what I came up with … Dear Young Fitness Friends.

-I had to say goodbye to a my good friends in California.

Good times. Good friends.

-Although it was hard, I was excited to head back “home” and get our babies closer to family.

The reason we came back to Illinois!

-Da Bears looked great early on.  Then Jay Cutler got hurt.  Then Da Bears started stinking up the joint.  Then I cried.

-Da Bulls showed A LOT of promise and I’m excited about their future.  D. Rose is a stud and he just signed a contract extension.  I smiled.

-The Cubs picked up Theo Epstein, which has many of us Cub fans really excited.  BUT, we are still the Cubs – so I only half smiled.

-After arriving in Illinois, I started training people out of my basement, continued training clients on-line, and have been busy giving basketball lessons and clinics.  I continue to add equipment to the basement, but here is what it looked like early on…

-My most “controversial” post/video of the year came when I posted a YouTube video, giving the reasons that I am not a fan of distance running (for most).  Check out the video for my more in depth reasoning for this.  But the short of it is; running is very high impact and very repetitive.  So, the main point is, EXCESSIVE running is what I am not a fan of.  However, “excessive,” may actually be less than you think…

I came across this article yesterday called, “America’s Scariest Fitness Trends.”  Check out fitness trend #2, as Rachel Cosgrove talks about some of things I mention in the above video.

Below is just one (of an infinite amount of options) example of how to more evenly spread the joint stress throughout the entire body when getting your cardio in.  Did I Beat My Previous Time?

-You know that I have to sneak in some basketball.  Here’s another basketball article that I wrote for iHoops… “5 Intermediate Strength Training Lifts for Basketball Players

-I’ve been so busy with life, babies, etc, that I haven’t played much b-ball lately.  But I’m back in a league and starting to play a little more again.  As I talk about in this post, My Body Is A Mess, I was not smart – the first time coming back to play, I ended up playing on back-to-back days and my body/blisters hated me all week…

My poor blisters!

Oh, and here are a couple updated pictures of Capri and Daxton…

And we had a pretty good deadliftingsession the other day.  They struggled with gripping the kettlebell and with mastering the hip hinge, but I think they’ll get it soon enough. ;)

There is a whole lot more that I could include, but I don’t want to make this too long.  In 2012 I look forward to helping you all with your health, performance, and physique goals.  I look forward to continue spending time with my family and friends.  And I look forward to ATTACKING my fitness goals as well!  Remember to write down a few of the BEHAVIORS that will lead you to your goals!

Speaking of behaviors and goals, what are yours in 2012?  Let me hear them.

My Upper Body Training Day (Back Emphasis)

December 10, 2011 by danny · Leave a Comment 

I took video on a number of my sets from my upper body training session the other day.  I’m currently using an upper/lower split (2 days upper body, 2 days lower body).  For this training block I’m emphasis my back a touch.  I wouldn’t call a “back specialization” program.  Rather, I’m just giving my back a little more attention this program.  This is smart for a couple reasons…

-Most people (especially guys) spend a lot more time working the mirror muscles (chest) and seem to forget that they have a back side to their body

-Performing more sets up pushing exercises (bench press, incline press, etc) than pulling exercises (rows, chin-ups, etc) can contribute to poor posture and shoulder injuries.

Back in the day, she obviously spent too much time pushing, and not enough time pulling!

The video below is day 1 of my upper body day.  Day 1 is heavier low rep training.  While I perform my other upper body day on day 3 (days 2 & 4 are lower body sessions).  Day 3 is higher volume (more total reps, with the average set much higher in reps than day 1).

One thing I forgot to put in the “video notes,” is that after working up to the max weight on chin-ups, I then take ~20% off and perform 1 set of AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible).

So there you go, an inside look at one of my training sessions.

Are you giving the backside of your body the attention it deserves?

Until next time…