Monday, April 25, 2011

Random Thoughts, Updates, and Posts to Check Out

Hope everyone had a great Easter weekend!

Today, I want to share with you some thoughts and updates as well as a great article series to check out.  So, let's get to it!

1)  As many of you who read this blog know, I am big on continuing education.  Therefore, I am always looking for great books, DVDs, articles, etc. to check out.  Well, Carson Boddicker has recently been asking strength coaches for their list of Top Athletic Development Books and posting the responses on his site.  I was very excited to read the ones listed thus far, and I have definitely picked out a few I am going to purchase.  You will find a couple of books that show up on multiple coach's lists, which is an indication that they are probably good.  If you are interested, you can check them out here:

Patrick Ward's list
Joel Jamieson's list
David Tenney's list
Daniel Martinez's list
Adam Rotchstein's list
Brent Callaway's list

2)  On that note, I just received two books in the mail - Joel Jamieson's Ultimate MMA Conditioning and Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsiea, CEO of  The first book by Joel was recommended by Bill Hartman and is supposed to have great information on energy systems training, which I am very interested in.  It is also a topic that I wanted to learn more about this year.
If you are interested in this topic too, then I would definitely head over to Joel's site at  It has a lot of great information - I especially like his forum.

Not the Jameson I had in mind, but I have heard she has some good content as well!

The second book, Delivering Happiness, I heard about on the Strength Coach Podcast - it is more of a business book.  As much as I dislike it, as a coach and/or trainer you have to know business and how to sell.  Of course, you can get clients in the door by getting great results, but word of mouth doesn't always cut it.

3)  I just finished week 1, Phase 2 of Eric Cressey’s Max Strength program and am quite pleased with the results thus far.  I had been writing my own programs for a while, but I have been quite busy lately and wanted a change of pace from my own workouts.  If you read my post on my goals for this year, you know that I am trying to increase my strength, and I think this program is going to help.

I have to admit that the volume has kicked my butt!  I was definitely not prepared for 6x6 Front Squats and 8x3 Box Squats in the first phase followed by insane clusters in the second phase, but I have enjoyed it and the deloads are well-earned!

Below is some training footage from the program.  The first video is my first set of front squat clusters - definitely glad I was conservative on the weight because they are tough!

I also found out from the program that I am extremely weak pulling from my knees where I have no leg drive.  I am pretty sure I can pull just as much from the floor, which highlights a glaring weakness.  

I will continue to provide all of you with updates and my final thoughts on the program after I finish it.

4)  I want to say congratulations to IFAST client Laura Wirthlin who recently deadlifted her body weight for 20 reps (without bouncing the weight or adjusting her grip)!  This is a pretty impressive stat, but what makes it even more impressive is that Laura is in her 50s and has been deadlifting for less than a year.

Laura has been at IFAST for roughly three years and has made great progress - losing close to 40 pounds, all while getting much stronger.  Way to go Laura!!

5)  WARNINING - RANT:   This is all sparked by seeing tons of people performing the glute ham raise (GHR) with ridiculous weight and awful form.  First, we need to lay some guidelines about the GHR.  If you are going to do a GHR, then keep your back flat and your hips extended!  I get so damn irritated when I see people performing this exercise with a ton of weight and performing it like sh*! - hips flexed majorly and/or their low back is arched like crazy.  Please, either do the exercise correctly with your hips extended and back flat or do not call it a glute ham raise.

Now, don't me wrong, as I have stated in the past, if you are going for a max lift then you are most likely going to lose form.  However, if you are doing some assistance work, then do not worry so much about adding weight until you are comfortable performing it correctly.

Not a good position!

I plan to do a post soon about how to perform the exercise correctly because it is really a pet peeve of mine.  I would bet money that a majority of people cannot perform it right with just their body weight let alone hold a plate or wear a weight vest.

My good friend and fellow strength coach Ben Bruno (who is super strong at this exercise!) did a good post you can read  HERE on how to perform the exercise correctly, but I am going to try and provide some video of common mistakes that often occur.

That is all for today.  Hope everyone has a great week!


  1. Delivering Happiness is an interesting read. I wouldn't call it so much a business book but instead developing something beyond that with values in something you're passionate about. Essentially, you're doing something you love and doing it well (hence the title).

    And Ben's freakishly strong.

  2. Zach
    Is there any chance you could write a post about front squat form e.g how you cue clients and yourself (also how to minimise/prevent pelic tucking)?. The reason I ask is that you perform the lift with great form and MR has recently programmed it into my training and I am struggling to adjust from back squatting (powerlifting) for over a year.

    -Neal Pickering

  3. Zach, the IU libraries have a lot of these crazy books, even the Viru book and the Matveev book.

  4. @Niel-Oh okay thanks man. Yeah to be honest I do not know a whole lot about the book yet I just had it recommended to me.

    @Neal-Yes, I could write something up on that. Do you know the reason MR has you doing front squats? The reason I am asking is because it would be easier to address your question if I know the reason you are performing them.

  5. @Lance-Sweet I will have to check some of them out. Hopefully, IUPUI still recognizes me as a student:)

  6. Mike was trying to retrain my squatting pattern (progressing goblet squat-front squat-back squat) while also addressing my anterior pelvic tilt and thoracic kyphosis. I assume he programmed the exercise to improve my core stabilisation pattern in a closed chain exercise to help address the anterior pelvic tilt and to maintain and to drive thoracic extension or I would dump the weight. Any advice or cues on front squatting would be brilliant.

  7. Great info Zach!

    Definitely a ton of business books to check out, here is another:
    The Goal

    Also I encourage you to check out a few public speaking books, who knows when you will get the opporutnity to present, but good to brush up on those skills. Two solid books to start:

    The Naked Presenter (Garr Reynolds) - General presentation style with or without slides

    Confessions of a Public Speaker

    Good to meet you this past weekend @IFAST too!

  8. Thanks Matthew I will definitely check those out! And it was also good to meet you man!