exercise

Steak and Potato Training: What Longhorn Steakhouse Can Teach You About Strength Training

Do you ever go out to eat and can’t decide what to get? You sit there for 20 minutes going back and forth between two different options, and suddenly a third option comes into the picture making it impossible to make a decision.

No?

Maybe that’s just me, but I’m a little crazy anyway.

When I go to my favorite restaurant, Longhorn Steakhouse, there is no question what I am going to get:  STEAK.  Obviously.  And a couple sweet potatoes on the side.

When I first started off in the weight room, I was that guy who was at a random restaurant and didn’t know what he wanted.  Now I'm that guy at Longhorn Steakhouse, and I know exactly what I want.

I bet you are probably questioning how I got to Longhorn.  Well gather round children, here we go! (Mario voice)

As you may already know, I compete in Strongman Competitions. I used to train for football, but now I train to lift weights.  Training for football still requires lifting heavy, but training for a competition requires heavy lifting in specific ranges of motion.

Football was not my Longhorn.  It was more of like a Red Robin to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love and miss Red Robin, but Longhorn stole my heart.  At Red Robin my go to is a bacon cheeseburger, not a steak.  That’s because a bacon cheeseburger at Red Robin is better than their steak.

But now I’m at Longhorn.

Where’s my steak?

My point here is that when you are at different restaurants you order different things.  Same concept when it comes to training.  You do different training and diet programs when it comes to training for different end goals.

Squatting, it’s like brussels sprouts.  Whether I’m at Longhorn or at Red Robin, I’m not ordering them.  People might say they're good for you, but it’s just not worth choking them down anymore.

It fills me up and takes up room in my stomach.  Valuable room in which could be replaced with high quality nutrient dense foods.  Squatting hurts my knees, and if I ignore the pain and fight through it...it travels to my hips.

This negatively affects my other lifts, both in quality and volume. I bet you are sitting there and thinking how the hell did this guy become the national champion strongman?

I got strong and efficient in specific movements.  Not one event in strongman requires you to squat or have your femurs at or below 90 degrees.  I have tried, and I am still trying, to bring the squat back into my training.  I squat light and do single leg exercises to maintain full range of motion strength and to stimulate hypertrophy.

Deadlift is the big time lift that takes the place of squats.  Being able to deadlift pain free, I have worked my deadlift volume up to 3-5 times per week (depending on the phase).  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t squat.  I am saying that you can get strong as fuck without certain “main lifts.”

Maybe bench press is your brussels sprouts.  Your best bet would be to work the same muscles, but shorten the range of motion.  Floor press would be the deadlift to a squat; shorter range of motion but, working similar muscles.  Unless you are a competitive weightlifter, there is no problem. There is always an alternative.

Whatever lifts you choose to be your staples, make sure you can attack them day after day and remain pain free.  Accumulating volume is the secret to strength, but accumulating the volume in a safe and efficient way is the hard part.  Being able to dial up or dial down frequency and intensity at the right time is always crucial.  As long as you know what your end goal is, the process will be that much easier. Find your favorite restaurant, and go get steak every night.

How do you know if certain lifts are a bad idea?  You just know.  You know that the kid in the squat rack going down a quarter of the way isn’t onto something.  You know the guy in his 50’s screaming to get an extra rep on bench probably is not onto anything either.  If it looks and sounds bad, no doubt it's bad.

Just go ahead and watch this clip of the world record clean and Jerk. It looks effortless and beautiful and he’s petting 533lbs over his head.

Steak and Potato Exercises:  (available at any restaurant, quality guaranteed)

Lower:

Deadlift

Goblet Squat

Barbell Hip Bridge

Rear Foot Elevated Squat

Double and Single Leg RDL

Glute Ham Raise

Upper:

Deadlift

Pull Ups/Inverted Rows

Push Ups

Floor Press

Chest Supported Row

Half Kneeling Db Press

Core:

Deadlift

Round Back Breathing

Planks/buzz saws

Hanging Hold

Suitcase/Farmers Carries

Med Ball Break

What's your steak and potato exercise?  What's your brussels sprout?  Drop us a line below and let us know!

about the author

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Zach Hadge is a World Champion strongman, Super Mario Bro extraordinaire, and overall monster in both training and life. He’s here to show you the doors, to tell you when its time to grease the hinges, pick the lock, find a new door, or just bust the door down completely. The only other thing he asks for in return is effort.  Follow Zach on Instagram (@hadge_brothers) for all the latest happenings.

Exercises You Should Be Doing: The Bear Crawl

On your mark…get set…go! And we were off.  Pseudo running/crawling our way to the 20 yard line.

As we reached the 20 yard line, someone tripped over their hands and fell flat on their face, while the rest of us made the turn back towards the starting the line.

The return trip was rather uneventful, and we all crossed unscathed jumping up to cheer on the rest of our team.  I’m not entirely sure how the event ended, or even how old I was, but I vividly remember my first bear crawl experience.

Maybe you can relate to the above story.  You get put in teams, someone yells go, you “run” as fast as you can on all fours, and then watch as everyone else does the same.  It may have served as conditioning, a mild form of punishment, or just to fill time, but either way we’re on the same page.

Although the competition and galloping around is fun and all, it’s not exactly what I’m looking for when I give someone a bear crawl.

Rather, when I program a bear, I want it to look like this:

But James, why is the bear crawl so awesome?  I’m glad you asked.  Let’s go over 4 of the major reasons why you should be doing bear crawls:

 Anti-extension

The bear crawl is a great exercise for all of you extended bros out there (yeah…I’m talking to you) because it biases flexion.  Another way of saying the same thing is that it works on anterior core control.  It helps give you the ability to use your abs to counteract extensor tone, and maintain position.  In particular, we want recruitment of the internal obliques and transverse abdominus because they help maintain proper position of the pelvis and rib cage.  Which brings me to my next point…

 Reaching

Reaching is the coolest thing since sliced bread (never understood that statement because sliced bread isn’t very cool, but whatever), and here’s why:  when you reach, especially in a closed chain reach such as this, you get great recruitment of your serratus anterior and work on active thoracic flexion.  This is important for several reasons.  For starters, the serratus anterior, because of its attachment site on the first 8 ribs, can actually pull the ribs back.  This is key for people with rib flares because it gives them the ability to use their abs.  Also, by “walking” forward you’re working on quality scapular upward rotation on a flexed thoracic spine.

 Breathing

Although I didn’t slow down in the video, you can easily go at a pace that forces you to take a breath with each step.  For people who have trouble breathing, aka are extended with ribs flares (see how this is all tying together), this is big time.  These people never get all their air out, struggle to fill up their posterior mediastinum with air, and can’t take a breath in without driving into extension.  By putting them in a state of active flexion, however, you can now work on how to properly get air in and out.

 It’s Dynamic

I’m always a fan of moving from a static state to a more dynamic state.  It involves more moving pieces, requires greater control, and is just more athletic.  It’s awesome if you can crush planks, reverse crunches, and a host of other “ground” based core exercises, but you have to be able to stabilize when multiple pieces are moving simultaneously to be a beast.

Closing Thoughts

When it comes to programming the bear crawl the options are limitless.  You can put them on the back end of a warm up, use them as a superset during the strength portion of a workout, or throw them into some low level conditioning circuits.  My only request is that you don’t do them on the treadmill like our friend from earlier.  If you have any questions, feel free to holler at me below, and if not, happy crawling.

about the author

James Cerbie is just a life long athlete and meathead coming to terms with the fact that he’s also an enormous nerd.  Be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram for the latest happenings.

Think and Grow Strong: Creating Habits to Make Exercise a Priority

This is an awesome guest post from my friend Pat Koch over at grassfedlifestyle.com.  He's an all around good guy, and I can’t agree more with the tone and direction of this article.  Enjoy!

It is the age of “something for nothing.”

Advertisers go eyeball fishing with headlines such as, “Abs in ten weeks.”

Blogs and podcasts everywhere promote, get it done quick messages.

With fitness, the sooner you admit that the fastest possible way, is NOT the optimal way.  The more you will be free.

The Unforgiving Truth

A great philosopher once said “There are two ways to be fooled, one is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”

If I told you that a scientifically proven system of diet and exercise exists that can get you strong, lean, and athletic would you follow it?

Or would you let a petty addiction to fast results overcome your rational mind?  Giving into inferior fad diets, and unrealistic exercise plans.

The superior scientific plan I’m talking about surely exists.  Experts talk about it everyday.

We are constantly reminded of these common sense practices.

Weight loss of one pound a week, is good enough.  No food is inherently good or bad.  Habits are king.

The list goes on…Don’t lift more weight than you can handle, cut down on excessive cardio, focus on strength etc.

This advice is a beacon of hope.  Deep down you know it is true, but everything in our life tells us to be more extreme.

If we were reasonable enough to plan and had realistic expectations you could truly have your cake and a six-pack to.

The Price of Truth

Tuning out the nonsense comes at a grave price… We must finally admit that there are “best practices,” in achieving the body of your desires, and it will take time.

Every ounce of your ego wants to commit to getting it done faster, tempting you to follow nonsensical programs, distracting you from the truth.

Do not prolong this revelation…Begin at once on a sustainable plan.

After all a real man knows there is no such thing as “something for nothing” and does not try to fool him self with petty exercise programs and fad diets.

You must dedicate yourself not only to a plan, but to HABITS.  The following exercise will make exercise a priority in your life.

The Plan

1.  Fix in your mind the exact qualities that you want to improve.  It will not suffice to say I want a six pack.  Be definite in your mind.  Create vivid mental pictures of your goal.

2.  Determine exactly what you tend to give in return for the qualities you desire.  (There is no reality as something for nothing)

3.  Establish a definite date for when you plan to posses these qualities.  (Remember big changes take reasonable amounts of time)

4.  Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once.  Whether or not you are ready matters little.

5.  Write out a clear concise statement of the qualities you want to acquire, name the time limit, state what you intend to give to reach your goals, and describe clearly the plan for which you intend to accumulate it.

6.  Read your written statement aloud, twice daily, once just before bed, once after arising.  As you read see and feel yourself already in possession of these qualities.

Specifics

For most goals (Getting stronger, more athletic, leaner) a good place to start is adhering to the following.

1.  Lift 3-4 days a week focusing on developing a base of strength in basic movements such as deadlifts, squats, chin ups, rows, presses etc.

2.  Strive to make 80-90 percent of your diet consist of minimally processed whole foods, using reasonable portions.

3.  Get out and move like an athlete a few times a week.  Sprints, basketball, etc.

Do not try to be a hero…a real man can be honest with himself.  The same rules apply.  Going all out to get instant gratification will leave you feeling worse.  It’s a marathon not a sprint.

Avoid Instant Gratification

A reasonable plan is key.  Many people who struggle with their fitness goals do indeed know the correct way to do things.

They are paralyzed by the desire for instant gratification.  Getting strong, lean, fast etc takes a long time of consistent effort.

At times you may even feel that progress has stopped, however you must avoid the need for instant gratification.   Results from fad diets and over exercising never stick.

Embrace that something never came from nothing and enjoy consistent results on a reasonable plan.

About the author

Pat Koch enjoys the pursuit of strength.  Previously interned at Cressey Performance, and currently manages a team of personal trainers in Boston. www.grassfedlifestyle.com

* The planning exercise in this article was adopted from “Think and Grow Rich.”  An amazing book by Napolean Hill.