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The Real "Core" Muscle

The more I listen to The Police, the more I realize they were just before their time. Yes, they sold 75 million records, were wildly successful, yadda, yadda, yadda. But most people don’t appreciate or fully comprehend the lyrics of “Every Breath You Take.”

Because every breath you take IS every move you make.

I know. Total Dad joke.

But I use my terrible sense of humor to highlight a critical point: most musculoskeletal issues arise from faulty breathing patterns. And for most people, a proper exhale will realign your pelvis and thorax by reestablishing the shape of your most important core muscle: the diaphragm.

I know, a lot of nerdy mumbo jumbo. But whether you're looking to get out of pain or you're just trying to build a bigger deadlift (and really, who isn't?), focusing on your thorax and your diaphragm will help. Let me explain.

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4 Ways to Vet Your Personal Trainer

When I first thought about becoming a personal trainer, I dismissed it because of the stereotype. To that point, I hadn't worked with any half-decent strength and conditioning professionals, so my notions of personal trainers were a bit naïve. I thought all trainers were either:

A) fitness-crazed, protein-addicted meatheads who couldn’t spell.
B) group exercise instructors afraid they’d enter cardiac arrest if they ever stopped moving.
C) some weird hybrid of the two, mixed with a dash of CrossFit.

Safe to say, I didn’t fall neatly into any camp.

It was only when I stepped halfway into the industry that I realized how wrong I was, and started to understand the differences between great and sub-par personal trainers. And the more I learned, the more I realized it was just like any other industry - the top 5% are exponentially better than the bottom 50% in knowledge, skills, communication, and experience.

But unfortunately, most people don’t have the time, interest, or energy to learn about the differences.

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Improving the Single Arm KB Swing (Without Actually Swinging)

I wasn't a quick convert to kettlebells. Coming from a background of barbells and dumbbells, only three kettlebell movements made sense to me - the get-up, two arm swings, and goblet squats. It was easy for me to see (and feel!) how these movements translated to everyday life and performance, even if I didn't know all the biomechanics at the time.

But the single arm swing? I avoided it. This was partly due to faults in my own swings (poor technique made them bug my elbows or my lower back). And it was also due to inertia - it's easier to remain myopic than think about how you could be wrong.

Man, what a difference five years makes.

I'm currently the only StrongFirst certified professional in Raleigh and most questions I'm asked are kettlebell related. And one of the most frequent questions I receive is: "How can I improve my single arm swing?" We've come full circle.

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New Article on

I'm thrilled to announce that instead of my normal biweekly post on my own blog, I get to share a post I wrote for StrongFirst. It marks the first guest article I've written for any site, and naturally, the topic is deadlifting.

I know. You're surprised.

Joking aside, it's a huge honor and I'm thankful for StrongFirst for allowing me to tell my story. The article gives a glimpse into how my love affair with deadlifts began - an inauspicious start with terrible technique and back pain - to reaching the elite mark of pulling 3x my bodyweight. And no, the novelty of writing that last sentence still hasn't worn off. :)

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3 Ways to Upgrade Your Simple & Sinister Program

There's something innately Russian about the Simple & Sinister program. Maybe it's the Eastern Bloc influence of Get-Ups and kettlebells. Or the appropriate, no-nonsense title given by founder Pavel Tsatsouline.

But whatever it is, Simple & Sinister (S&S) has had a profound effect on my own program and those I write for others. Containing only kettlebell swings and Turkish Get-Ups, it's basic yet complex. It can be humbling, yet still leave you with plenty of energy to live your life.

And even though I'm not currently following the Simple & Sinister (S&S) program, I still apply the same principles it preaches - mastering the basics, lifting heavy but not hard, not training to failure - in my own training sessions. And I credit those same principles for helping me finish 9th overall in the Men's Open during the Spring 2017 Tactical Strength Challenge.

OK, I had to brag a little.

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