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Overtraining or Under Recovering?

It's a vicious loop. Train, train too hard or too long, and now you're sidelined. Once healthy, train, train too hard, and you're sidelined again. If the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing and expecting different results, then I've been insane a few times over.

But I know others can relate.

We embark on a journey - usually too ambitious for our current self - only to be forced to take time off. We're either too sore, injured, or mentally burned out. Classic symptoms of "overtraining," right? I don't think it's all that simple.

Instead, we need to shift our focus. Because what if these symptoms weren't from overtraining? What if we're actually "under recovering?" And no, it's not just semantics.

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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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