5-10-20 Protocol For Hypertrophy

As the Iron Game has progressed it has generally become accepted that in hypertrophy focused trainee’s you generally benefit from exposure to multiple different rep ranges. Sets of heavy singles, doubles, triples, fives, tens, twenties… Hell I’ve done and seen crazy stuff like 100 rep sets even.

As I’ve mentioned before, hard training is good training. If you are busting your ass your work will be rewarded. Bigger muscles, leaner physique, and most importantly we are tempering our minds to be able to withstand any hardships that come our way. These kinds of sets teach us that we CAN push through when it feels like we can’t go on and when our brain is telling us how easy it would be to “just stop already!”

I have come up with a “brainless” way of making sure you get exposed to varying rep ranges, which will help you build not only a great physique, but stay healthy as hitting higher reps helps to build up the smaller, stabilizing muscles and helps to bring more blood flow through the joints you train. This isn’t a “Program” as it doesn’t lay out specific lifts and progression, but it is a good way to layout an individual workout should you find you just wanting to go in a smash it.

5-10-20 Protocol

This really is a protocol you could take into nearly any Body Part workout. It has guidelines but in reality is quite flexible. The guidelines are as follows:

  • You will do sets consisting of 5 reps, 10 reps, and 20 reps
  • 5 sets in each rep range
  • Start With a Heavy Compound Movement, Progress to a medium weight Assistance movement, and finish with a Single Limb or DB movement

5 Rep Sets

Sets of 5 are generally regarded as being that good blend of size and strength training. Heavy enough to force you get stronger, but still getting enough reps in to tear some muscle down and get some growth benefits out of it. Because you are going to be lifting heavy here, you want to use a stable, compound movement that distributes the load across as many muscles as possible.

Some Good Exercises For Sets of Five:

  • Bench Press
  • Shoulder Press
  • Dead Lifts
  • Squats
  • Pull Ups
  • Rows

As you can see, this is where most of the heavy, basic, bread and butter lifts are put, and for good reason. They hit the most muscles and set the stage for the rest of the workout. After you hit the main work with enough weight and volume, you can focus on a bit more “detail” with the 10 rep sets

10 Rep Sets

With the 10 rep sets we are still going to stick with big, compound lifts, but this is where we get to use a little bit of variety to help up bring up our weak points and work on building targeted mass a bit more effectively that with the 5 rep sets. In many programs this is what would be called “assistance lifts,” or lifts that help build the lifts we use in the sets of 5.

Some good examples:

  • Incline / Decline Bench
  • Seated Shoulder Press / Behind The Neck Presses
  • Front Squat
  • Leg Press
  • Romanian Dead Lift
  • Shoulder / Chest Machine Press
  • T Bar Rows / Hammer Strength Rows / Lat Pull Downs

So as you can see its generally another big lift, but not something you would want to go super heavy on. Pick lifts that help to build the lifts you are trying to get stronger in the sets of 5.

20 Rep Sets

These are the higher rep sets we are going to be using the really finish off the chosen muscle group. As alluded to earlier these are more than just about building big muscles, these are the sets that will challenge your mind.

These aren’t the brutal sets of 20 rep squats or Fatality Sets that we do sometimes at the end of the main work, but rather a way to target the smaller muscles safely and effectively, while sparing the joints and small ligaments/tendons that are also important to train up.

I like to keep the isolation and unilateral exercises in this group, as they generally benefit from a higher rep range due to their nature as being single joint, “small muscle” exercises. There are tons of exercises to use in this category, and you can mix and match as you see fit on weekly basis if you want.

Some Good Choices For 20 Rep Sets:

  • Front / Side / Rear Delt Raises
  • DB Bench or Shoulder Press ( even unilateral )
  • Walking / Side / Reverse Lunges
  • One Arm Row or Lat Pull Down
  • Single Leg DB Dead Lift
  • DB Curls / Tricep Extensions

Of course nothing is set in stone, and if you want to do more than 20 go right ahead. Here is a short clip of Mike Rashid doing “Dirty Thirty” side laterals to finish up a brutal Shoulder workout.

Feel free to take this 20 rep recommendation and increase it to 30, 50, or even 100 every once in a while. Its not the number that’s important, its the training and mental effects that we are after.

Putting It All Together

Doing this Protocol will expose your body to 15 hard sets, 175 productive reps (not including warm ups), hit a variety of rep ranges, and even challenge your mind there towards the end.

As I mentioned in the beginning this isn’t a hard and fast template to follow for the rest of your days, but rather a “brainless” way of what to do in the gym that day should you find yourself asking that question.

So the next time you want to hit the gym and don’t know exactly what to do for the day, try this layout and you will hit everything you need to hit.

For those looking for a bit more guidance, and want to know exactly what it takes to train like Mike Rashid and the Alpha Crew, check out the eBooks section of the website. A single session with a personal trainer can run 100 bucks, and these books give you months of instruction and less than half of that.

Just The Tip: Twin Tips For Hypertrophy Training

Lets face it… Training just ain’t that complicated. 90% of the results truly do come from picking the (heavy ass) weights up and putting them down. Having said that, there ARE things you can do to make training more effective for your chosen goal and body part. Hypertrophy training has some unique caveats to it that you don’t have to worry about with pure strength training. Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way, and I’m confident they can help you too.

This article series is designed to give you quick tips that you can go and use in the gym today. So check these out and then go out and get that EASY MONEY!


  • A Tip For Lat Pull Down Mind-Muscle Engagement


If you are having trouble getting your back to grow, A tip I have found to work rather well for engaging the lats is to “Pull with the pinky” when you are doing lat pull downs, and even some machine based rows. I’m not entirely sure of the neurological reasons this works, but truly when you do this you can just feel the lats working more.

Now, when I said “pull with the pinky” I don’t literally mean only hook your pinky around the bar and pull. You will have your hand just like normal, but focus the downward force you are using the pull on the outside of the hand where the pinky is. You can actually test this just as you are sitting in your chair and do an “air lat pull down,” you will feel your lats.

So for those of you seeking hypertrophy and want to make sure the pull downs are really hitting your lats, keep this tip in mind next Back Day.

  • Turn A Negative Into A Positive

This is a “Just the Tip” kind of article so I’m not going to go deep into the physiology or mechanics here, but suffice it to say that lowering the weight is quite important to the hypertrophy process. Some experts online consider it actually quite a bit more important. The venerable (and huge) Dante Trudel from DoggCrapp training fame, a system which incorporates controlled 3-5 second lowering phases, has even stated that the whole point of lifting a weight is so that you get another opportunity to lower it again (paraphrased).

To incorporate this into your training easily, you can simply take your 2nd or 3rd exercise of the day and count an honest 1 – 2 – 3 while you are lowering every single rep. I don’t necessarily like this on the main movements like Bench Press or Squat (and certainly NOT regular dead lifts) because, while it can definitely work on these movements, we tend to like to use those are a heavier weight movement and this technique limits the amount of weight you can use quite severely in some cases. Another reason is because these are often the exercises we use for our fatality sets, which require a bit more “shut the mind off and just grind” and this technique requires you be quite focused on every rep.

Open The Book, Shut The Mind Off... And Grind it Out
Open The Book, Shut The Mind Off… And Grind it Out


There you have it, two battle tested tips to get you growing. Now get out there and try these out this week and let us know how they work for you in the comments.

Have You Mastered The Basics?

Mastering the basics… Laying the foundation… Learning the Big Lifts.

If you have been around the iron game for any amount of time, you have heard that these are the most important principles for any beginning lifter, and many advanced guys and gals say they stray from these and have to “get back to it.” It seems that beginners don’t know how to do it, Intermediates may know them but try to complicate things to much and stray from them, and advanced lifters are the ones who recognize their benefit and rely on them.

So important is the idea of “Mastering The Basics” that it’s not just part of lifting culture, it literally permeates every endeavor that humans take part in. Painting, carpentry, and hell I’m even sure Lumberjacks have their basics that need mastered. Martial arts are a prime example of this, and I think Bruce Lee said it best when he said:

Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick. Now that I’ve understood the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. The height of cultivation is really nothing special. It is merely simplicity.

bruce-lee-one-inch-punchWhen it comes to lifting this poses two questions… Just what exactly are “the basics” and how the heck do you know if you have them mastered.

The Basics of the Basics – Exercise Selection

Many an expert has put forth their idea of what The Basics are, be it a series of lifts or movements or goals. I tend to favor Iron Veteran and Coach Dan Johns simple list of basic human movement patterns:

1. Push
2. Pull
3. Hinge
4. Squat

Anyone who has ever set foot in a gym can look at that list and notice a problem right away… It’s a bit too simple. Does it mean horizontal push? Push Press? Row? Deadlift? So to expand on it a little bit I follow the following general rules to make up the list of “the basics”

– Include one movement from the horizontal and vertical plane for the push and pull

– The “most basic” exercise is generally the one that allows the most weight progression, and is most applicable to your goal as a lifter

Using these guiding principles as a good starting point, a list of The Basics might look like this:

1. Push: Standing or Seated Overhead Press, Bench Press
2. Pull: Bent Over Row (BB or DB), Pull Up (weighted if possible)
3. Hinge: Dead Lift (Regular, Sumo, Stiff Legged), Good Morning
4. Squat: Back Squat, Front Squat

Obviously we can be more detailed and nuanced as we individualize an exercise selection for a specific individual, but in general this is a great starting point and the closer your lifts resemble these in general the more progress you will make. I’m not saying 1 armed DB presses on a Bosu Ball are worthless… But they aren’t going to do nearly as much for you as a bench press.

How To Tell If You Have Mastered Them

This is a slightly misleading title, because any advanced lifter will tell you that they are always looking to make improvements wherever they can, so the term “mastery” doesnt mean you have no more room for improvement. It’s more of a base level of technical proficiency that lets you know you have the lift down solidly.

  • Consistent Form Throughout The Set

A telltale sign of a novice is that their form is not only bad, it’s inconsistent. When they squat their knees are pointed a different direction every rep, when they bench the bar touches a different point on their chest, when they press their elbows are all over the place, and when they dead lift their back does who knows what.

Part of mastering a lift is being able to perform your reps with consistent form throughout a set. That’s not to say you shouldn’t ever struggle, or slow down as you fatigue, but imagine the bar makes a line on your shirt when you bench, you should essentially have only 1 line on your shirt after a set of 10 reps… not 10 lines at all different spots and at differing angles.

Same Spot... Every Time
Same Spot… Every Time

Newbies are so often rushing to add weight that they sacrifice form, and when you practice bad form it cements that technique in your brain. Stay at the right weight until you are consistent throughout the set, that is how you know you are ready to move up and have earned the right.

  • Getting The Desired Effect From An Exercise

In lifting circles it is generally regarded that there are various different versions of certain lifts: Power lifting bench and Body Building bench, Seated/Standing Press in front or behind the neck, Squats for BBers, Power lifters, and Oly lifters. My oh my, which one to use?

Part of having mastery over the lift is using the right form for your goal. The body builder knows that for the bench press you want to use the form that places maximum stress on the pecs and maybe even lower it slowly, while the power lifter knows to get tight, tuck the elbows a bit, distribute the load to as many muscles as possible, and explode up.

If you can pick the right movement, and adjust your form to get the desired effect you want, that’s a very good sign you are closing in on mastery of the movement.

  • Knowing When and How To Make Little Changes

The exercise list I present above is a great list, no doubt… But sometimes you have to adjust the lift to suit your personal needs, limitations, and equipment. Maybe you have a bad hip and cant do a regular back squat, so you change the form a tad bit or use a Safety Squat Bar to shift the load to the quads a bit.

Perhaps a wide grip on the bench press stresses your shoulders too much, so you move your grip in a bit more narrow.

Knowing when to make a small tweak instead of beating your head into a wall is a great sign that you are learning the lifts, learning your body, and are one step closer to mastery of the basics.

Keep it Basic, Keep it Moving

While not exhaustive, this is a great starting point and these three guide lines will provide a good rule of thumb for you to follow should you find yourself questioning your results lately. Are you using the right exercise or are you getting “too fancy?” Are you doing that exercise in the form that most advances your goals? Do you need to make a small change in form because of your unique situation?

When you find yourself deep into training and have been adding too much fluff, refer back to this article and get back on track.

Don’t know where to begin, check out the Mastering the Basics Manual right here to get started using the best exercises.


All the Basics Covered Right Here
All the Basics Covered Right Here


Finding Your 10’s Part 2: The Long Journey Begins

Last week I hoped to get the juices flowing in your brain about how one can achieve personal mastery in the area of lifting weights for whatever goal you have. Body building, Power Lifting, Oly Style, Crossfit… It doesn’t matter, to reach the heights you are capable of you have to have a way to make sure your methods are actually working.


This week is all about the method. The how of actually accomplishing that. As I mentioned last week this isn’t for the casual lifter who just goes in and lifts as there is some tracking and evaluating involved, and its definitely going to be a long road to travel… This is something you will likely be doing your whole life.


The good news is that it works, and not just with weight lifting. If you apply these principles to any area of like you can use them to excel. Lets get to it.


Method To The Madness


First, we have to pick a starting point. I’m going to assume that you are not a coach and not a program design expert, so we are going to have to pick a program. It really, truly does not matter which one you pick so long as it is generally accepted that it’s geared towards your primary goal.


The next step is the easiest and the most fun… Go to the damn gym and bust your ass! Follow your program, log your workouts, pick your spleen up off the gym room floor, and then fire up the grill and take advantage of our position atop top food chain. After several weeks of doing this it’s time to reevaluate.


If we are going to venture into the world of individualized training, we have to have a method that allows us to know if our changes are working. It isn’t as simple as “walk into the gym and do whatever” (at least not yet). This is where I have taken a page from Dan John and applied my knowledge in one area (nursing) to the pursuit of weight lifting. In nursing and medicine we deal with patients in a systematic way, known as the Nursing Process, which looks like this:


  • Assess (what data is collected?)
  • Diagnose (what is the problem?)
  • Plan (how to manage the problem?)
  • Implement (putting plan into action)
  • Evaluate (did the plan work?)


It should be quite easy to see how we can use this simple process to our advantage. As an example, if it’s a bigger squat we’re after we have to:


  • Assess (Stuck at 405 Max Squat)
  • Diagnose the Problem (Falling forward on the way up)
  • Plan (Add in Good Mornings 2x weekly)
  • Implement (Perform Good Mornings for 8 weeks)
  • Evaluate (Retest Max Squat)


If your Squat went up, you know you are on the right track. If not, we have to go back to and implement a new Plan.


Other suggestions could be to experiment with other progression models like Frequency, Volume, Intensity, Exercise Selection, etc… Maybe you will thrive off of Squatting 2 times a week, one heavy and one Dynamic day. Maybe you desire growth and so you throw in a 20-rep Squat day once every 2-4 weeks. You might do better if you add in Front Squats instead of Back Squats one day. Do you blitz yourself Mountain Dog style, or do you Squat to Max Every Day like John Broz? Only you can figure this out for yourself.


Of course this doesn’t just apply to Squat numbers. It can literally apply to any problem you have on any lift, or if it’s hypertrophy you are after you could try new exercises or change what sequence you perform them in; For fat loss you could see what adding in 2-3 sessions of morning cardio does. You could potentially be running one of these assessment plans at all times during your training career.


All of this experimentation, documentation, and evaluation will not only be helping you on your way to your goals, it will also be helping you to build your Intuitive Training Muscle.


After enough of these cycles of trial and error, you will soon figure out your body to the point where you just know you are not doing enough Good Mornings, or you just know that your weak link is your abs. This takes time, lots of time, but after a while it truly does become second nature, and your body will let you know what you need to work on and what you need to back away from.


Tips For Customizing Your Own Training

A Good Start
A Good Start



Here are some tips and observations I have had success with in customizing my own program:


Change only one variable at a time: If you attempt to increase your Bench Press and add in 2 more Bench days, Wide Grip Incline Presses, and Ballistic Smith Machine Throws… Which one of these helped or hurt? It’s impossible to tell. Stick with your baseline program, change one detail, and give it at least 4-6 weeks for a proper eval.


The more advanced you get the longer you will have to monitor and the smaller, more specific your changes become: Newbie’s can make gains on a weekly and monthly basis, but a power lifter who has already added 500-600 pounds to his total will likely have to plan 12-16 weeks at a time to see if he can beat his previous meet numbers, often by only a few pounds. Many times power lifters are so close to their genetic ceiling of strength that what makes or breaks their total is a small change in foot position or grip width, not necessarily getting 10% stronger.


Listen to your body (sometimes): Have a “normal,” “easy,” and “extended” workout plan ready to account for days where you feel run down or like you could rip the gym off the foundations. Take advantage of the days you feel like Superman by lifting more weight or doing more sets. On days when your nose is stuffed up, you got 3 hours of sleep, and your dog had to go the vet, it might be a good day to just go and hit the main exercise that day then hit the door. However, there are days where you feel run down, but end up hitting a PR out of nowhere… Be on the lookout for those by gauging how you feel when you actually start your warm ups.

On a day where you feel great you might also consider just SMASHING the weights you had planned and NOT adding in extra work. The more work you do, the more you have to recover from, and going nuts on one day may come back to haunt you days later in the form of decreased performance.


The Best Is Yet To Come


As I said in the beginning, all of us are looking for the Perfect Program. The one with all “Tens” and no “Zeros.” Nothing is more frustrating than going to the gym week after week, month after month and looking the same or not getting any stronger.


Because of that potential frustration, many of us are afraid to veer off course from our battle-tested, tried-and-true program to try something new and risk failing.


But it is only through this experimentation and tracking that we develop our Intuitive Training Muscle. There simply is no other way. I know how scary it can be to experiment. To toss aside our “proven” program and venture into the unknown, coming out the other side possibly empty-handed.


Fear not, because the reality is that just because there are “Tens” out there, it doesn’t mean anything in weight lifting is a “Zero.” If you are picking up heavy shit and busting your ass, results are going to happen. I don’t care if you are doing 1-3 reps, 6-8 reps, or 12-15 reps. Barbell, dumbbell, kettle bell… It’s all good as long as you are working hard, so do not be afraid to experiment as you can be assured you will not regress.


Having said that, you do have to consider your specific goals and try to find and implement as many “Tens” as you can. This will take lots of experimentation and TIME. Lots and lots of time. Maybe your whole life.


Bottom line is do NOT get discouraged because results are not quick to show up, or because you think there is some other thing you could be doing that’s better. Did you just bust your ass in the gym? Then you did your job and you should be proud. But, also never stop looking to improve. Never stop developing your most important training quality: Your Mind. Your Intuitive Training Muscle.


Finding Your 10’s: A Practical Guide To Customizing Your Own Program For Max Results

In the Beginning…


Do you ever wonder how people learned to train before the internet? How they knew what to do without the latest and greatest training routine eBook or YouTube Videos? These are great resources… But honestly, what type of training would you do if none of it existed?

Just you and the weights... What do you do?
Just you and the weights… What do you do?


Let’s conduct a thought experiment. Imagine you are a brand new lifter and you just stumble into a room full of bars and weights with no one around to tell you what to do. No preconceived notion of body part splits versus full body routines, of isolation versus compound movements, no fear of over training – just the pure, unadulterated desire to lift metal plates up off the ground.


What would you do? Seriously think about this question for a few minutes before you continue on.


The Big Assumption


I’m going to make a big assumption to start this off. I’m going to assume most of you are just like me.


Just like me you were bit by the lifting bug and from that day on it’s been a major part of your life. Sometimes too much if we are being honest… And sometimes WAY too much if our girlfriends and wives are being honest.


Just like me you dove in whole hog and got your hands on as much info as you possibly could. There isn’t an article you haven’t read by Dave Tate, Dan John, Louis Simmons, Christian Thibaudeau, or countless other author-athletes who speak to our hearts, minds, and bulging biceps.


And just like me you are always in search of that perfect program. The one that has the perfect number of reps, the perfect number of sets, and the perfect exercise selection in the perfect order. The program that is going to have you hoisting tons of iron, shredding the sleeves off your shirts, and keeping you lean while doing it.


Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that I’m not going to be giving you any such program because the bottom line is that is just doesn’t exist. The good news is that you can get pretty damn close, but it’s going to be a long road and it’s going to take some work on your part.


My goal is to help you start down the road to develop what I now feel is the most important muscle of all, your “Intuitive Training Muscle.” Don’t worry. I know it sounds like a gimmick, but I assure you there is no special deal on my brand new, e-book only, complete system, now with special bonus offers but only if you act this month WHILE SUPPLIES LAST! It’s just the term I use to describe that feeling we all get when we have those moments in the gym when things seem to “click,” or when we figure out which exercises work or don’t work, or we tweak something to make it better for ourselves.


Develop this quality enough and you will eventually just know what to do in the gym for your unique goals on any given day. You will know when to add in an extra set, you will know when to take a deload week, and you will know when to just stay the hell home and watch reruns of Greys Anat… I mean Rambo and Conan.

My Test levels dropped just typing Greys Anatomy... This should bring them up a bit.
My Test levels dropped just typing Greys Anatomy… This should bring them up a bit.


Intuitive Training: How The Best Just “Know” What To Do


Did you ever see some big, strong guy doing a really weird exercise, or doing a regular exercise a really weird way? Or maybe you know guys who never do certain exercises that everyone just knows have to be done… right?


Have you ever run across a fellow lifter who says something like, “I pulled up to the gym that day and knew it wasn’t happening, so I just went home. Came back the next day and hit a PR deadlift.” Or it might have been, “I just go to the gym and train whatever needs to be trained that day. Today it’s legs, tomorrow we’ll see”?


As a young lifter who was usually following some kind of template or program, these kinds of statements used to shock me. Wait? You mean you didn’t train chest today? BUT IT’S MONDAY! KILL THE HERETIC!


Well, it’s no coincidence that these lifters are usually the most advanced, the strongest, and the most impressive specimens in the gym, even if it seems like they aren’t following a plan.


As it turns out, many of these lifters are following a plan. Their plan. It’s a plan that they have honed after years and years under the bar. They have eliminated the exercises and variables that don’t work for them (“Zeros”) and found the exercises that give them the best results (“Tens”)


Years ago these guys and girls may have started out with a cookie cutter program, but more than likely it now bears no resemblance as they have tweaked it one step at a time so it’s now a program all their own. You can get there too, and in fact you will need to if you want to reach your highest potential in the Iron Game.


The Pitfalls Of Public Programming


Let’s face it, everyone has to start somewhere. Unlike the hapless newbie who stumbled into our thought experiment weight room, all of us have the advantage of having access to tons of training info from the best minds to ever lift a barbell. It makes sense to look at what other successful lifters have done and to follow in those footsteps, and that is where coaches and programs come in.


There are many, many great programs out there. Anyone who has been around long enough has heard of Starting Strength, 5/3/1, German Volume Training, or better yet our Very Own Mike Rashid programs like Conan Leg Training and Chest Assault.


These are all good places to start, but the major problem with any of these programs is that they are not written for you, they are written for everyone. That doesn’t mean we can’t use them as a starting point, but eventually we will have to tailor them to our abilities, needs, and knowledge of ourselves.

Any lifter who hopes to be the best that they can possibly be can’t do a routine that has everyone in mind; The program has to be specific. It has to take into account your specific goals, body mechanics, injuries, psychology, work capacity, and a host of other qualities that make you the lifter you are… And that is where you come in.

Next week we are going to cover the details about how to slowly work our way towards that perfect program. But until then I want you to be thinking about your own program, your own body, your own results and starting to piece all of this together for yourself. 

What improvements have you made to a cookie cutter routine? What tweaks have you made to an exercise to spur new progress along? Share in the comments so we can check it out.

Mental Jewels: Championship Qualities Part 2

Mental Jewels for a Money continue. Training the mind is just as important as the body… Last Week I dropped part 1 of the mental Jewels about how to be a champion, and this week we finish it up with part 2. Get your leadership on this week, let us know how you plan to do it in the comments.


Championship Mindset Number 4: Personal Accountability


A Champion rarely looks for other people to blame when something goes wrong. Instead, they focus on what they could have done to make the situation work out better, even when it wasn’t something they did or didn’t do. A Champion doesn’t bother worrying about the actions of other people, because he knows that he cannot control the actions of others, he can only control his own actions.

In this same vein, a Champion never makes excuses for why they did not progress as they would have liked, they simply look for ways to progress the next time. A Champion also realizes the value in defeat and takes that time to learn from prior mistakes and grow from the experience, instead of dwelling on it and making excuses as to why it happened.


This is a very empowering mindset to adopt, as it allows you realize that you are more in control of every situation you encounter than you previously realized. Instead of placing blame on other people and outside influences of which you have no control over, put the responsibility on yourself to make changes and impact the world around you. Instead of worrying about what someone else does, start to wonder about what you can do differently from here on out.

You can never make other people’s decisions for them, but you have 100% control over all of your own decisions.

Championship Mindset Number 5: Less Motivation, More Dedication

There is almost nothing I like more in life that training. There were times in my life that I was literally obsessed with it. I used to wake up thinking about training, plan out my workouts laying in bed at night, think about my muscles growing 24/7. I love it.

But I gotta be honest with you guys and girls… There are days when I roll out of bed and don’t really feel like eating another damn bowl of eggs and oatmeal, when I’m sore all over and I don’t really feel like driving to the gym and working my ass into the ground again. The motivation just isn’t there.

I'll be damned if this doesn't look tempting some days
I’ll be damned if this doesn’t look tempting some days

The good news is that I’m not Motivated… I’m Dedicated to reach to my goals. That means I crack those egg shells, cook that oatmeal, and put on my gym gear and get to work anyway. I gotta tell you by the end of the warm up I’m usually chomping at the bit to go… The motivation comes, but the dedication has to be there first.

It’s not just weight lifting either. For those of us who play an instrument I know you feel me when I say you feel like you’re going to kill yourself if you have to practice boring scales, playing techniques, or anything other than playing your favorite songs… But to be the best you can be you have to be dedicated to laying that groundwork, and sticking to the plan provides its own reward in the end.

So the next time you feel tired or think you can’t eat one more bowl of rice again, remind yourself of why you have chosen this path and that you need to do what needs to be done to get there, motivated or not.


Become A Champion

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of the traits of the Championship Mindset, but it is definitely a good start. I hope many of you are already doing most of these, and if not I do hope you will give them a try, as they will no doubt lead to more success and a more fulfilling life. They certainly have for me and others.

I’d love to hear what other things YOU all are doing to become Champions in your own right. How are YOU living your life that empowers you and those around you, that fosters success and creativity, and that separates you from the pack? Let us know in the comments… A rising tide raises all ships, so lets get this tide up as high as we can get it.


Cultivating The Champion Mindset

Mental Jewels: 5 Principles of The Championship Mindset

I’m a people watcher.

I like to watch people’s behaviors and see where it leads them.

More importantly, I like to watch groups of people and see what it is about the individuals in those groups that either keeps them there or allows them to break from the pack.

One thing I’ve noticed is that as much as people like to think that we are all special, one-of-a-kind snowflakes, the reality is that humans function pretty much the same 95% of the time, and believe it or not that’s actually good news.

Why? Because that means that you and I can look to that 5% who do things a little differently, who excel, who rise to the top, and see what they are doing that is similar. We can see what kind of things that people who are on top do to get and stay there. Or perhaps even more importantly, we can see what the other 95% are doing the same and avoid it like Leonardo Dicaprio avoids shopping for wedding rings.

The bottom line is that most athletes functioning at a high level are all damn strong and damn fast, so it’s essentially a level playing field in that regard. Physical power and strength is only part of the puzzle though, and often times what separates the best from the rest is not their brute strength or their ability, but it’s their mindset and their attitude.

I call these collection of traits the Championship Mindset, and hopefully you can adopt some of these to help take yourself to the next level. Where the mind goes, the body will follow.

The good news for you is that I’ve already put in the leg work. I’ve already logged the hours with binoculars in the bushes, sneaking peeks wherever success left its blinds open, getting glimpses of its oh-so-supple… Well, I think I’m getting off track here. On with the show!

Championship Mindset Number 1: Happy, But Never Satisfied

Champions have a curious trait to them, in that they never really seem all that happy about what they have achieved, at least not for that long. Sure, there is a time for pouring Gatorade on the coach and to announce that you are going to Disneyland… But in reality come Monday morning its back to work, and often times it’s back to MORE work because the last thing a champion wants to do is stagnate.

When a team wins the Superbowl or when a Body Builder wins a show, they might spend a night reveling in the achievements that their hard work has afforded them, and in the later case engaging in an episode of TBA – Total Buffet Annihilation – but they know that this is just the end of chapter in a book that continues to get written the rest of their life. They know that this is just the beginning of another year of back breaking work, harder than the year before it.

Total Buffet Annihilation About To Begin
Total Buffet Annihilation About To Begin

The minute a person with the Championship Mindset wins they now begin to wonder what they can do to be even better come next year. A Champion does not want to simply repeat their performance, they want to improve upon it.

While this might seem like an unsatisfying way to go through life, never happy with where you are at, it certainly breeds and fosters achievement. If you are satisfied with where you are at in life, be it with your physique or with your income at work, there is very little incentive to work harder or differently to improve. However, If you continually set the bar one rung higher the desire to succeed will burn bright forever.

Championship Mindset Number 2: Set Lofty Goals

Talking to a Champion is much different than talking to a regular person. You will often hear words that sound like hyperbole, goals that sound unobtainable, and actions that sound impossible. This type of talk is commonplace amongst Champions though.

Where a regular person would talk about getting “in shape” or starting to work out, a Champion talks about getting “shredded to the bone” or doing 2-a-days. Where a regular person talks about getting 3% pay raise, a Champion is looking for ways to triple their income.

A common mindset that Champions have is that they often seem to have their sights set impossibly high. Their goals are not simply one step away from their current level, but often times ten steps away and seem impossible to reach. This is fine though, because Champions realize that lofty goals are achieved one step at a time, and in due time you have already taken nine steps, leaving that tenth step just one more away.

Champions understand that it is beneficial to set your standards incredibly high, because even if you fail to meet them you often end up above where you would have been had they been set half as high. Champions know the value in the old saying “Bite off more than you can chew… And then chew like hell.”

You KNOW Arnold Can Chew Like Hell
You KNOW Arnold Can Chew Like Hell

It might be time to reevaluate your goals and your standards. Are yours high enough that they are forcing you to bring your game to the next level? If you are easily hitting all of your milestones, you might want to go back to the drawing board and see if you can’t set your sights even higher than they are now.

Championship Mindset Number 3: What The Lazy Call Obsessed…

… The Champion calls Dedicated. If you were to talk to any high level body builder about their training and their diet, you might be inclined to call the local authorities to have the persons head examined rather than take their advice. Really? Chicken and Green Beans how many times? You did how much cardio?

Most people who have taken their physique to that level no doubt get comments about being obsessed, about it being unhealthy, about how others could do it too… If only they had the time.

There is a video with Mike Tyson where he says he would get up at 4am to do his daily run in the pitch dark and blistering cold, and that the only reason he got up so early to do it was because he believed his opponent wasn’t doing it and that it gave him the edge. Obsessed? Maybe. Or maybe he just knew what it took to win.

No One Is Gonna Out Work Iron Mike
No One Is Gonna Out Work Iron Mike

This trait is found not only in the physique world but really anywhere success is to be found. Be it in business or in the arts, you can rest assured that the people on top are quite regularly putting in 12-14 hour work days, that’s just the way it is. There is a reason super successful people often have the term “Workaholic” attached to their name.

So, what does this mean for you? Well, take a look at what you want to achieve and evaluate how much time you are spending pursuing that goal. Is it enough? Are you on the path to getting where you want to be? Are you spending time watching TV or on the Internet when you could be working towards your goals?

A life consumed by a single endeavor might not be where most people want to end up, but brief periods of obsession can yield amazing results.

… Stay Tuned Iron Addicts, next week we will bring you part 2 of how to round out your MIND to get the most out of your lifting, and LIFE.

Dad Bod: Final Nail in the Coffin

The “Fitness Industry” provides no lack of material for stupid fads and weekly crazes that are here today and gone tomorrow… Many of us have extreme personalities and like to do things to the highest level, which is a great breeding ground for insane ideas when it comes to dieting and training.

This weeks insanity comes from outside the usual channels though… Author Mackenzie Pearson, writing for The Odyssea, wrote a piece this week introducing the world to the latest in physique development. Nope, It isn’t boulder shoulders, bowling pin forearms, or tree trunk legs… It’s The Dad Bod!

New Arms Protocol: High Rep Beer Chugs
New Arms Protocol: High Rep Beer Chugs

Forget a physique says “Fuck with me and pay the price.” … Pearson says the dad bod says to the world “I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time.” … and “makes boys seem more human, natural, and attractive.” 

Before we begin to explore this topic, here are Mike’s thoughts, a dad’s thoughts, on the topic… those of you with striving for a dad bod can listen to this on the couch, and those striving for a bit more can put this on, load up a prowler and get to work.

So much has been said of the Dad Bod that there isn’t much more to write about it… It screams average, takes no effort to attain, and is well… so mundane it really isn’t even worth discussion honestly.

As Mike mentioned in the video… We train because of what it does for us as individuals. It is not about getting a certain body type… Our bodies are an outward reflection of our inner mind state. The ability to set a goal and achieve it, to push past discomfort and continue onward, to stay dedicated when motivation wanes. To do champion shit when no one is looking. In this way we train ourselves to be better versions of ourselves.

Through our training in the gym we build our bodies and our character as men and women. This is not to say these can’t be built in other ways and your are lesser if you dont weight train, but for those of us who take this seriously, the body is a by product of the work, and the work is what we love.

I’d rather talk about the kind of person that wants a guy with a dad bod for the reasons listen in the article.:

  • It Doesn’t Intimidate Us
  • We Like Being The Pretty One
  • Better Cuddling… No One Wants To Cuddle A Rock
  • Getting To Eat Taco’s and Beer
  • His Body Wont Fade Over Time… He’ll Be Average From Start To Finish!

Holy Insecurities Batman! If these are the top reasons that “girls are crazy about the dad bod” then I’m glad that my training and eating regimen takes me out of the line up. These types of statements don’t exactly scream Alpha Lady to me, and that’s the type of women I want by my side, and raising my children. The less attractive I can make myself to the type of person who “wants to be the cute one” and is more concerned with eating taco’s and drinking beer than their health I consider that a check mark in the W column myself.

So all you Iron Addicts out there, don’t drop the dumb bell and pick up the Coors just yet. Keep training, and training hard… Hell, do an extra set this week in honor of those with the Dad Bod. As I have learned in my life, the more you do the things that make you happy and enrich your life, the better types of people you attract to yourself, personally and professionally.