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How to Zercher Squat: A Complete Guide

Oct 14, 2020

The Zercher Squat might be the most underutilized squat in existence, and for good reason: it's hard AF. Learn why you need to be doing them and how to incorporate them into your programming so you don't miss out on any gains! 

What is the Zercher Squat?

The Zercher squat, named after St. Louis strongman Ed Zercher who competed in weightlifting events in the 1930’s, is a style of squat where the bar is held in the crook of the arms. At the time Mr. Zercher was training and competing, not only were people not using squat racks, they hardly existed. So he would deadlift the bar to his knees, hook his arms underneath, and begin squatting away in what we now know to be one of the most brutal and underrated variations of the squat known to man. 

At first sight, the Zercher squat just seems like an odd and torturous lift reserved for only true masochists and the “functional training” crowd. However, upon further inspection, the Zercher squat - when performed...

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Episode 48: Progressive Overload and Bringing Science to Your Practice with Dr. Eric Helms

Oct 12, 2020

Today’s guest is Dr. Eric Helms, coach, athlete, and trainer. He became a personal trainer after being bitten by the iron bug in 2004. Within three years, Eric competed as a natural bodybuilder and powerlifter. Not long after, he partnered with fellow natural bodybuilders to create 3D Muscle Journey. It was at this point where he transitioned from coaching exclusively to focusing heavily on content creation, making it his personal mission to “serve the drug-free strength and physique community by providing evidence-based information, community support, recognition to natural competitors, and holistic coaching to help athletes fulfill their true potential in all facets of life.”

“Philosophy,” says Eric, “is what underpins science.” By understanding that science is an ever-evolving discipline, you are able to navigate the sea of voices offering different viewpoints with varying degrees of certainty. Adopting a mindset of humility and openness...

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Episode 47 : Comprehensive Coaching and Behavior Change with Dr. Gabrielle Fundaro

Oct 05, 2020

Today’s guest is Dr. Gabrielle Fundaro, CISSN, CHC. She is a Renaissance Periodization consultant, Monash low-FODMAP certified and ISSN-certified sport nutritionist, and ACE-certified health coach. Gabrielle graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise, Sport and Health Education and a PhD in Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise at Virginia Tech. In this episode, she discusses her Comprehensive Coaching Model, through which she uses tools such as Motivational Interviewing (MI), among others, to affect positive change in the lives of athletes and other clients.

Gabrielle laments the prevalence of endless debates—which often take place online—in the sports nutrition world. In particular, there seems to be a lot of interest in short-term, performance-based, one-size-fits-all best practices, but a glaring lack of consensus on individualized long-term diets and weight-neutral approaches to health. Gabrielle asks: “How do we know what works? And how do we know...

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Rebel Performance Radio Episode 46 – Training Overhead Athletes and Building a Successful Fitness Business with Mickey Brueckner

Sep 28, 2020

Today’s guest is Mickey Brueckner, founder and CEO at the Annex Sports Performance Center. Born and raised in New Jersey, the father of three had always enjoyed sports and had a particular passion for training, which led to his founding the Annex Sports Performance Center in Chatham, NJ in 2006. In the span of thirteen years, the center has grown from a basement gym to an all-encompassing fourteen thousand square foot facility, and has also opened a second location. The Annex has been home to thousands of amateur and professional athletes, as well as general fitness clients.

Mickey attributes a lot of his early success and the momentum that followed to simply focusing on producing quality athletes, rather than spending heavily on marketing. He believes that, in professional sports, there is no better promotion for you as a trainer than having those you coach dominate in the field. Says Mickey: “We’re in an age where a lot of people are so focused on marketing and...

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Exercise Selection: How to Use the Sensory to Intensity Spectrum

Sep 24, 2020

Have you ever gotten stuck when trying to choose what exercise to do?

You're staring at dozens of options, but don't know which one will do the trick…

  • Should I do a back squat? What about a front squat? Or maybe a zercher squat? Or how about a hack squat?
  • Should I do something unilateral or bilateral?
  • Should I worry more about load, velocity, or feel?

And then once you choose one, how do you know if you've made the right choice?

Do you have an "exit strategy" in place to quickly adjust on the fly if things aren’t going well?  (This is huge if you want to choose exercises that boost performance without creating pain).

I've been doing this for years now, and even I hit this wall sometimes.

This is why I built a system to make exercise selection much easier using my sensory → intensity spectrum.

Obviously, having a strong background in anatomy and biomechanics is a prerequisite to get really good at exercise selection. Still, I'm going to teach you a system...

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The Force-Velocity Curve: How to Become a Powerful Athlete in 5 Steps

Aug 27, 2020

Learning how to use the force-velocity curve is a one-way ticket to “powerville.”

In other words, it’s how you become stronger than the person that’s 20 lbs heavier than you but faster than the person who’s 20 lbs lighter than you.

You can think of it as a middle linebacker.

An athlete that has to take on linemen 50+ lbs heavier than them, but still run with backs and receivers that are 30 + lbs lighter.

Today, I’m going to show you a simple 5 step process to make that happen, but first, let me ask you two questions:

  • Have you ever gotten stronger but failed to get more powerful?
  • Have you ever PR’d your squat but then saw ZERO improvements in your jumps, sprints, and/or throws (i.e., athletic things)?

It’s wild the number of times I have conversations with athletes who are PUMPED about hitting a big squat PR, but then become depressed when they see no improvement in things like a vertical jump, 10-yard acceleration or 40-yard dash.


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Rebel Performance Radio Episode 45: Greg Robins

Aug 24, 2020

This week on the show we welcome Greg Robins to talk about motor learning, creating, and small sided games. Greg also shares who some of his influences are in the field and what he’s learned from his mentors along the way, making for a great well rounded discussion. 

Greg is currently the co-owner of The Strength House, located in Worcester Massachusetts, where he works with powerlifters, adult general population, and youth athletes primarily from ages 13-18 years old. He is a coach through and through, spending his time writing programs and on the floor. Greg started strength training as a highschool baseball player when a coach recommended that he train at Mike Boyle’s Strength and Conditioning in the offseason. Greg would go on to get recruited to play college baseball and took the opportunity to become even more serious about his training, which led to him trying to learn as much as he could through independent research and lots of trial and error. 

One of...

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Rebel Performance Radio Episode 44: Mike Sirani

Aug 17, 2020

This week we welcome Mike Sirani to the show to talk about his experience as a young trainer going from doing internships to opening and growing his own facility, how he’s dealing with the COVID situation, and how to avoid overcoaching. 

Mike currently owns a fitness facility in upstate New York called Capital District Sport and Fitness, which he opened in June of 2018. Prior to that, he lived in Boston for 7 years having graduated from Springfield University located in western Massachusetts, later interning at Cressey Sports Performance and then working at Pure Performance Training for 4 years. 

We first dive into how Mike went from interning and working at different facilities to eventually opening up his own and some of the lessons he’s learned since. While many people get swayed by programming and periodization, Mike says that those are only 5% of running a training business. The rest is understanding finances, sales, and relationship building, which he...

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Rebel Performance Radio Episode 43: Dr. Andy Chen

Aug 10, 2020

This week on the show we welcome Dr. Andy Chen, a physical therapist based out of New York City, to discuss principles, systems, adaptability, environment and constraints, the blending of performance and physical therapy, the importance of filling empty buckets, being patient when progressing a client, manipulating the task at hand to provide different learning opportunities, and the growth mindset needed for developing your own model.

Andy started lifting weights in his senior year of highschool, entering a local bodybuilding held by the school’s wrestling coach and gaining 30 pounds in the process. Andy continued to train but didn’t have a real focus on academics until he experienced his first injury in his senior year of college that required him going to physical therapy. From that experience, he grew to love the practice of physical therapy and went on to get his Doctorate from the University of St. Augustine. 

We first dive into the differences in the...

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Rebel Performance Radio Episode 42: David Grey

Aug 03, 2020

This week on the show we welcome David Grey to talk about rib cages, the pelvis, isometrics, coordination, and the pillars of human movement. 

David is a rehab and performance specialist who found his way to his current profession by being an athlete himself who was plagued with injuries and searching for better solutions than what was being provided. What started in his words as a selfish endeavor eventually led to him helping friends and now he works with people from all walks of life from high level athletes to general population. 

We first dive into David’s big rocks when assessing people and his view of what basic human movement is. The first thing he looks at is gait - from walking to breathing - and the ability to access certain ranges of motion with your joints. David is quick to point out that he doesn’t view himself as a “mobility coach” but someone who helps people achieve these ranges of motion through improving things like coordination,...

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