You can still smash weight and be okay…don’t lose touch with reality when you learn something new. Be careful of scare tactics in language and direction. Everything is scale-able. Everything is useful.

Types of squats are just tools for the pattern. I back squat. I straight bar deadlift. I accumulate way more volume with a zercher squat (front loaded) and trap bar deadlift but I don’t fear anything.

Use tools to regain control then have the ability to let go of control. Gain challenging experiences that we can associate with safety. Use your toolbox to assist in regaining control, gaining access to motion, but only to remove barriers to fitness. Just don’t let those tools become the barrier.


See the whole forest before seeing one tree:


Then work backwards, learn and coach basis exercises, optimize the exercises that you do, accumulate volume, then use your tools to intervene only when a barrier towards fitness/performance is encountered.

When we learn something new about movement problems during continuing education events or within systems we tend to start with, how can I fix this person’s movement problems?

We tend to want a clean slate to work from but we are not going to give people a clean slate with movement. We have very limited time with people, thus limited influence. The best thing we can do is use the tools to address movement problems to develop fitness.

Addressing movement problems is a need but not a necessity, the majority of the time. Don’t let the tools you have acquired to become the barrier towards fitness.

Regain Control

Where are you?

Where do you want to go?

How can you get there?

Appreciate the PROCESS.

I recently heard the step structure of 1) Out of Control 2) Regain Control 3) Let Go of Control from Dr. Seth Oberst. It resonated with me and I began to reflect on one of my biggest takeaways from the collegiate setting, as a strength and conditioning coach.

The Process.

If you are new to training and/or consistent exercise or maybe you are experiencing pain during exercise, you are out of control in the weight room realm. Our job as a coach, is to help you regain control in movement pattern and category competencies, progress with safe loading, and remove barriers to fitness.

Safe experiences will update your predictive model about how you view a task. For example, a safe experience would be successfully performing a deadlift exercise or a quantity of load that you did not think possible in reference to previous pain experiences and/or perceived personal limitations of capabilities. Safe experiences and skill acquisition will remove barriers to fitness and you will earn the ability to move into the next step.

Once you regain control, you will need to let go of control. Letting go of control is the focus on fitness, expressing physical savagery, and performance. This third step is moving the scale towards training, not messing around, not living in a land of novelty, and earning the right to acquire a specific goal.

Where are you? Where do you want to go? How can you get there? Is a PROCESS. All good coaches should able to determine what the client/athlete needs to succeed and a process towards getting them there. If you jump to methods of letting go of control before control is established, you risk the chance that you will backtrack soon or you will go nowhere.

Moving backwards or going nowhere refers to the inability to maintain the successful execution of a pattern (technique/form, i.e. squat depth) with a increase in load or volume. Oftentimes we see an inability to maintain squat depth with an increase in load or volume because the individual has not had enough repetition in that pattern to acquire that skill. We did not regain control.

Out of Control

  1. Low/No Training or Sport History
  2. Experiencing Pain (with or without exercise)

Regain Control

  1. Accumulate volume within a pattern utilizing a tool that provides success
  2. Reduce pain as a barrier to fitness by providing safe experiences that update predictive model

Let Go of Control

  1. Timed Sets, As Many Reps As Possible (AMRAP), Velocity Intent/Tracking, Max Load Testing within a pattern
  2. Fitness (start at regaining control of #1)

Biggest Takeaway from the Collegiate Setting: Learning a Process.

Working in the collegiate setting taught me about the value of creating a intake process. Every single year a group of new student-athletes would arrived and we had a PROCESS for their arrival. A PROCESS for teaching them what they needed to know in order to get to the level of their upper-class teammates, and be successful in the weight room. Each coach had a process, a system, and the athletes had to go through that process in order to learn how to be successful in that system. Athletes knew what was important to each coach and what to expect.

The collegiate setting has provided me a great appreciation for having a process and categorized steps to determine the direction in which I need to guide someone to achieve their goals within my value system. As a coach in the collegiate setting you are responsible for teaching young adults about exercise and how to train. You have an influence over creating a belief system towards training for the people you work with, and the best coaches seem to have a process.

I learned, from some of the best collegiate strength coaches in the country, to be clear about what you want athletes to learn. At Northeastern University we had a clear structure and process for taking in new people into our system, which was a tremendous lesson for me. Having a process will help you decide what is important, what you want the people you work with to learn, and determining what steps to take to get there.   

When a new student-athlete arrived to our facility, we had medical clearing procedures, testing, and sessions with the strength and conditioning coach that were centered on learning the basics within the training system. The goal was to be able to integrate the new student-athlete into team training, and acquire basics skills (regain control) in order for progression to occur during the next four years of their collegiate career.

The initial session with the strength and conditioning coach involved going over the movement patterns of the hinge, squat, pushup, split squat, etc. There were movement patterns related to exercises that the student-athletes needed to know and execute well in order to be successful in accumulating volume over time and earning the ability to let go of control. The initial session and first team training session was also used to establish expectations and standards.

The following years were filled with elements of progression and establishing control over weight room components that the strength and conditioning coach deemed important. There were also opportunities to let go of control through team challenges, competitions, timed sets, max loading, velocity tracking, speed development drills, and conditioning sessions. However, it all started with an initiation of regaining control and developing skills for success in a system of performance development and learning.

What process do you use?

What do you deem to be important for weight room success?

Want to learn more?

More information about creating a process within your training principles will be included in the upcoming MBT Strategy Course:

The course will take you through MBT training principles, processes, and model, as well as provide you with action steps in order to help you create your own principles and model to implement within your own context. This course will guide you in implementing these principles into your exercise selection, coaching, and programming.

Elements of Progress.

Elements of Progression.

Progression in the weight room is not solely based on external loading (i.e. how much absolute weight lifted). Progress can be accomplished in various ways in order to improve performance, movement options, fitness, experience, and may even assist in external loading abilities.

Here are some valuable elements of client/athlete progress:

  1. Accumulation of volume is one of the key components to improving qualities of fitness. Increasing the number repetitions and/or sets throughout a training program is fundamental to progress.
  2. Progress through various positions (i.e. 1/2 kneeling, tall kneeling, etc.) and expose to positions that the body struggles to achieve (i.e. if client lacks hip extension, progress through positions that challenge hip extension, then you can challenge those positions under loading).
  3. Progress through coaching cues. Simplicity is king but an element of progression can be attention to detail or changes in the focus on attention. For example, the first couple weeks teaching a split squat can be focused on heel contact on the ground then can progress to hip shifting or alternating arm reaching as a variation. Use simplicity in exercise selection and language then progress with detail and variations for increased complexity.
  4. Progress through intent of speed. Start with static positions and isometric holds then progress with dynamic activities then progress with the intent to move with speed. External feedback will assist with this such as velocity tracking technology (Tendo, GymAware) or Keiser equipment. When doing deceleration, acceleration, or change of direction drills (especially with clients with low sport or training history) progress with the intent to move faster (motivate).
  5. Progress with adding different planes of motion as a variation to exercises. This could involve hip shifting (frontal plane), contralateral reaching/punching/rotation (transverse plane), or changing the placement of the load within exercises.

The purpose of having regressions and progression lists are to be able to guide decision making and have a aim based on current abilities, standards, and future goals. Progression is focused on long term access to the movement being required and challenging positions, movement, movement under load, and the strategy being used throughout the movement (i.e. muscles used during movement and loading).

Overall progress can be the improvement of performance. The ultimate goal for athletes is on-field improvement (not solely weight room improvement). Athletes are categorized as people who are participating in weight room activities to make changes towards sport/on-field activities. If absolute load lifted in weight room sessions is the sole measure of progression it may negatively impact overall performance. Overall progress for general population clients (low sport or training history) can be improved performance, fitness, quality of life, reduction in pain, and achieving intensities or volumes that previously were a challenge. You have many tools in your tool box, use them for long term progress and sustainability.

A Consistent Approach to Coaching.

Programming and progression will be discussed further at the workshop Lucy Hendricks and I will be hosting September 2019. For more information, see below.

Location: Hype Gym, NYC

Date/Time: Sunday, September 29th 2019. 9:00am-4:30pm (lunch 12:00pm-1:00pm)

CLICK HERE for the event’s page.

MBT Exercise Creation Model

Preview for the UPCOMING MBT Training Model & Implementation Online Course!

A Process for Creativity in Exercise Selection

The goal of the process is to match intent with strategy to create an exercise then coach the exercise with proper execution. An exercise is the loading of tissues for mechanical and physiological benefits. Positions are the shapes in which the body is placed to target specific muscles to move bones and to be able to target as much muscle mass as possible.

The process of exercise selection can be overwhelming without a process. Choosing exercises should have a purpose and we should explore our creativity based upon that purpose instead of choosing exercises and rationalizing them later. We tend to choose exercises based on certain loading abilities and associations instead of a specific intention.

  • Am I starting with a exercise or the intent?
  • Am I associating a exercise with a specific quality?
    • Such as associating the back squat exercise with the quality of strength
  • Starting with the intent will allow you not be married to specific exercises

The Exercise Creation Model has a three tier process to create an exercise. The first tier and foundation is position, second tier is fitness qualities, and the top tier is variations. This tier system was created to evaluate and analyze a thought process for exercise selection, ways to progress, and subtle strategy changes. There are many ways to progress, in which you can change position, change fitness quality, or add a variation.

The Exercise Creation Model will help you be more individualized with your clients/athletes, have a guide for exercise selection and program design, and explore various ways to strategize and execute an exercise.

The UPCOMING Training Model & Implementation Online Course will go into more detail and take you through strategies and execution for exercise selection, as well as training principles and model development.

But while we wait for that, here is the steps within each tier:

Base First Tier: Positions are used to target specific muscles to move boney structures. Positions include, but are not limited to:

  • Supine
  • Prone
  • Sidelying
  • Tall Kneeling
  • 1/2 Kneeling
  • Standing
  • Front/Back Staggered
  • Lateral Staggered

Middle Second Tier: Fitness Qualities

  • Qualities: Strength, Power, Endurance, Hypertrophy, etc.
  • Resistance (load): Strength, etc.
  • Tempos (Eccentric, Isometric, Oscillations): Strength, Endurance 
  • Accommodating resistance (Bands, Chains): Speed, Power
  • Velocity (intent to move with speed): Speed, Power
  • Timed Durations/Length of set : Strength, Endurance, etc.
  • Volume/Sets and Reps: Strength, Hypertrophy, etc.

Peak Third Tier: Variations 

  • Create an exercise variation build on position and fitness quality desired
  • Create an exercise variation with additional components of progress such as static or dynamic execution, plane of motion, range of motion, RNT input, barriers and references, placement of loading, cues (focus of attention)
  • This is the creation of strategy related to goal/intent, client, needs analysis, real time modifications, and progress
  • Fulfill with execution


Three Tier Process for Exercise Creation based on Intent-Strategy- Execution


Example of Process with the exercise created being a Bilateral Squat based on the Intent- Strategy and follow through with Execution. I first choose a bilateral stance position for a two foot ground reference and sagittal plane dominant position. Second I add a six second tempo for the eccentric phase. Lastly, I choose an anterior loading placement, cue the client to find their heels, and add a band around the knees (from the front) to teach client to posterior shift. The exercise is created from the bottom up based on the client, goal, direction of progress, and real time modifications. For more information on Squat Progressions check out Lucy Hendricks Article.
Another Example of the creation process with the exercise created being a 3 Point Contact 1 Arm Row. First I choose a prone position. Second I choose a rep/set scheme that is focused towards the client’s hypertrophy goal. Lastly, I focus the attention on the stance leg (left leg in picture) and reaching with the arm on bench (right arm in picture). The exercise is created from the bottom up with a connection between the trainer’s training principles and client goals (and abilities).

Now you need to Execute!

That’s why Lucy Hendricks and I created a workshop that is 100% hands-on!

Have you ever attended a seminar where they picked you as an exercise demo? For 5 minutes, you get to feel what it’s like to be coached by the instructor. You get to respond to their verbal and manual cues, which allows you to feel what your clients will need to feel.

Out of all the other attendees who didn’t get coached, you’ll be more successful getting your clients to execute that exercise correctly.

This workshop allows you to be coached, demo, practice coaching, and walk through some troubleshooting with every single activity! Instead of 5 minutes of personal attention, you’ll have a whole day of movement and hands-on learning.

If you’re wanting your staff under one consistent model, this is the workshop for you and your employees. Learn to develop movement standards where everyone gets to develop their own training talent and skill following the same principles.

Going through our Consistent Training Model will allow you to manage multiple people in one session while keeping the coaching quality high. You will creatively increase your client’s movement repertoire by altering load placement and performance variables to drive adaptation in each plane of motion.

Location: Hype Gym, NYC

Date/Time: Sunday, September 29th 2019. 9:00am-4:30pm (lunch 12:00pm-1:00pm)

CLICK HERE for the event’s page.

Play. Laugh. Move in Different Ways. Have Fun. …and Lift Some Heavy Things.

We have ‘recess day’/ variability day when training has been long term & consistent.

Introducing drills in warm-up that are externally focused and involve unpredictability for change of direction, drop step, crossover, and multidirectional movements (more videos to follow) are great ways to teach skills with play, laughing, jokes and fun. There is a lot of laughter during these videos.

Drill: Wall Ball Reaction Drill

3 x week sessions usually involve: Day 1: Strength day Day 2: variability: “Recess day” to explore different movement strategies Day 3: volume day

Seated 1 Arm Row.

The use of passive constraints to manipulate a task: External objects are used to assist in finding certain references and muscles.

* The dumbbell behind the foot is used to find heels and hamstrings. The ball between the knees is used to find adductors. The weight in the hand is used to find abs and close a space. The weight of the cable can be used to reach and feel a scapula move.

* Training Principle: Proximal structure position influences movement of distal structures
* Focused Attention: Heels. Opening a side of the thorax and closing the opposite side.
* Guided Experience: Initiate questions before providing feedback. What was that like? How did that feel? 

Leg Transition Chop.

Creating an exercise to match intent. The intent of the exercise is to transition from leg to leg working on frontal plane mechanics.

* The chop will assist in centering over a leg: stacking the nose over the zipper line, over the knee, over the big toe.

* Training Principle: All athletic skill acquisition includes the ability to transition from leg to leg; gait, skating, throwing a ball, or changing direction (push mechanics).

* Guided Experience: What was that like? How did that feel? Where do you feel your weight? Why do you think this is important?

* Focused Attention: Arch of the foot.

* Client accomplished a personal record weight in the Trap Bar Deadlift 💪 which was an externally focused activity. To finish the session, we turned to thinking about the body and feeling muscles in specific areas, which was an internally focused activity.


Most people just need to gain muscle mass, lose body fat, and accumulate volume.

The idea of ‘fixing’ a fitness client or using some of your new continuing education catch words to tell people they are something that needs to be fixed is a lack of understanding of the end game and the big picture.

* “You shouldn’t deadlift because your thorax is narrow”

* “You’re so jacked up, I’m surprised you haven’t gotten hurt back squatting yet”

* “You don’t ‘manage pressure’ well in your pelvis so you shouldn’t squat” Can you even explain what pressure management means?

* “You need to do these specific exercises because ‘you’re extended’”

These are all promoting mindsets of ‘there is something wrong with me’. We sometimes like to prove our value and spit out some new knowledge we learned at a con edu event but lose sight of fitness. 

At the end of the day you need to just expose people to different experiences, strategies, loading, velocities, durations, positions, patterns, stances to ultimately IMPROVE fitness (allow to accumulate more and more volume). Exposure is variability.

Be careful with your words. Show them something else without taking something from them or making them feel like they are something that needs to be fixed. * How about “let’s try doing it this way”
* How about “let’s work on this strategy”
* This is what I am seeing with this assessments so our strategy will be X to assist in your goals… I love to learn. You may too. Absorb it, filter it, but don’t let it suck you in to only staring at the bark of a tree instead of seeing the whole forest.

“It is far better to render beings in your care competent then to protect them. And even if it were possible to permanently protect them and banish everything threatening, everything dangerous, and therefore everything challenging and interesting, that would mean only that another danger would emerge” – Dr. Jordan Peterson 

Lifetime Fitness.

Your collegiate athletic career has come to an end.


  • Do you only associate exercise with sport?
  • Did your strength and conditioning coach teach you anything you can maintain?
  • Did they provide you with education about lifetime fitness or only short term gain strategies?
  • Did you LEARN how to train and take care of yourself?
  • Did you learn how to appreciate the process and the virtues of character that come with exercise?
  • Can you apply what you learned to establishing responsibility for your own health and fitness?