How to get huge arms for Athletes

I could go on an on about how training arms is a waste of time, how big arms don’t benefit an athlete all that much, how doing isolation moves suck, blah blah blah, but here’s the reality of this:

ALL guys want bigger arms, and all girls want arms that look good in a tank top.

That is a FACT. And here’s another fact…if you are training seriously, then you DESERVE to have jacked arms that demand attention.   So you want huge guns, you deserve to have ‘em, here’s how to get them.

 

Step one: Earn your right to big arms

This one might hurt some feelings, but you need to earn your right to having some guns.  You need to focus on big compound movements that hit your biceps and triceps secondarily.  Most guys can come pretty far without much curling and tricep work.  If you focus on 3-4 movements and get them stronger over time while eating to gain muscle, you will get bigger arms, period.

My favorite movements for this are:

Chin ups

Dips

Weighted pushups

Barbell or Bodyweight rows.

 

Keep these movements in the 6-12 rep range for the most part, and overall volume of 30-50 reps 2-3x per week.  Progressively get better until you can hit 3 sets of 12 reps of each.  If you are at a bodyweight of 170+, by the time you hit these you will have much bigger arms and be well on your way to a full blown gun show.  For row 185×10 is a pretty good goal to strive for at first, moving up to 275×10 after a few years of training (because you don’t train for 3 months and expect the world, right?)

 

Step Two: Gain F**king Weight

Alright I don’t even know why i’m making this a step, but if you’re not focused on gaining weight (read: quality muscle mass) then I can’t help you.  Sure, if you’re 260lbs you might want to lean out a bit before putting on muscle mass, but the purpose of training is to get bigger and stronger to handle the stress of your sport. 

 

Take your bodyweight x 15 and then add 500 calories to that.  So if you’re 150lbs then:

150 x 15 = 2250 ,   2250 + 500  = 2750 calories each day to gain mass.

Eat lots of quality meat, rice, potatoes, nuts, fruits and vegetables (although too many vegetables while gaining weight makes eating enough VERY hard sometimes…always remember your goal).

Plus, gaining weight while getting better at bodyweight movements makes them more effective.  I weigh 235lbs and was called out to hit max reps on chin ups yesterday, a move I (unfortunately) have been neglecting.  I hit 17, and i’m confident that in a month or two of training I could hit 20+ at the same body weight.  NOT coincidentally, my arms are probably over 17”, which isn’t too bad for bigger arms not a main goal of mine.

Spot me, bro

Bottom line:  Eat more, get stronger, get bigger, get bigger arms.

Step Three:  Add in some isolation work

This one is gonna piss off some so-called strength coach gurus who think isolation work is a waste of time.

I don’t care. If you want bigger arms, at some point you need to address them directly.

If you’re squatting, benching, pressing, and deadlifting in your program regularly, AND you have hit all the bench marks in step one (with chin ups, dips, rows, and pushups) then you have every right to add in a little extra  arm work.  Here’s the catch.  You can either:

A) Go back to the crappy bodybuilder magazine workouts that DIDN’T work in the first place and start dedicated an entire day for arms, blasting them for 20 sets.

OR

B) Do things correctly by following a very simple format for getting even bigger guns.

The simple format:

1) Have your prerequisites in place (step one, guys).

2) Keep on training to be more athletic: sprint, do strongman stuff, deadlift, press, chin-ups, squat.

3) Once or twice a week, add in 100 reps of triceps and 100 reps of triceps at a weight where you can do 4-6 sets to get to 100 reps.  Some moves I like are:

suspended BW curls

suspended BW extensions

OH Tricep extensions

fat grip curls

banded tricep extensions

ultra narrow low incline pushups

chain curls

rope extensions w/bands

Payton gained 20lbs, put 115lbs on his deadlift, can do 26 chinups, squats 300lbs, and can carry 215lbs per hand for 50 feet at 170lbs. I think he can do a couple chain curls, no?

Add in 100 reps at the end of ONE workout per week and watch your arms grow.  Want to know something else? If you address your triceps and biceps in this way, you’re going to get STRONGER.  It’s amazing that we as strength coaches have forgotten that muscle moves you, literally.

 

In Closing, if you’re looking to grow your guns while still becoming the best possible athlete you can be, then do it the right way with the outlines listed here. The problem is that most guys are unwilling to accept that three arm workouts per week, blasting them to the point where they can’t wipe their own ass, is the best way to grow, and that just ain’t true.

 

Now, suns out, guns out (if you’ve got em)

 

In Strength,

 

Mike Spagnola

Owner/Head Coach

Edge Strength & Conditioning

 

P.S. If you want to train at a facility that allows you to get strong and fast as hell, and look pretty good doing it, hit us up for a trial session HERE.

 

Why I Love Missing Reps (And why you should HATE it)

Ask any athlete in my gym…I don’t care if the words “rep max” follow a rep scheme  (for example we had a 2RM on Push Press this week for our day two for athletes who are allowed to do overhead pressing), but by now all my athletes know that they aren’t allowed to miss.

Does it occasionally happen?  Sure, but I also make it a point to let that athlete know that NOTHING about missing a lift because of strength is desirable, and that by missing that lift they DIDNT get better and they sure as hell didn’t get stronger.

If you are simply not strong enough to lift the weight, but it the hell down and do something lighter.  There is ZERO reason to feed your ego in the gym regardless of who you are, what you train for, etc.

There’s such a huge pendulum swing in this industry that it’s almost taboo to talk about it, but here’s what most people used to say:

“strength training will make you stiff and muscle bound”

But now everyone refutes that (correctly, IF the training program is complete and smart!) with:

“That’s garbage.  Training makes you safer, more flexible, mobile, and LESS muscle bound”

If your form looks like this, forget about getting better, faster, stronger, or more mobile, and start thinking about finding a good surgeon.

Well, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  The fact is that most people get more mobile, faster, and stronger from lifting weights, but the ones who have poor form, miss lifts, and keep relentlessly attacking their program with other forms of stupidity will get stiffer, weaker, and hurt.

Why do People Miss lifts?

Evaluate why you’re missing the lift in the first place– the reasons I see most often are:

-Poor coaching (i’ve even seen/heard of encouragement from coaches to have crap form/miss lifts…this is just wrong!)

-Athlete’s need to feed their ego.

-In my gym, the biggest reason is that the local high school makes athletes use a second person to do weight that is higher than their max for a ton of reps, and then claim that they “did the weight themselves….this is downright dangerous, irresponsible, and is an injury waiting to happen.

-Technique issue.  This one takes a bit longer, so take a breath and dive in!

Technical Problems:

Note** if you are very new to lifting you have no business missing a lift.  You are still LEARNING and you don’t learn by messing up, despite what some people will try to tell you.

Sometimes you miss a lift because your form started to break down.  For intermediate/more experienced lifters that are more in tune with their body, but not their full capabilities, it makes sense that sometimes this will happen.  A big thing I see is when athletes try for a heavy log press, get the bar too far in front of them, and fail.  That’s not a strength issue, that’s a wake-up-and-pay-attention issue.

This isn’t ideal, but it does happen, and a good coach will know if it’s because of a bad weight for that individual on that day, or if its because of a technical flaw when the weight gets heavier.

Wrapping Up

This may seem obvious, but you don’t get stronger from weights you didn’t lift, period. 

Missed reps….NO!

Forced/assisted reps….NO!

Too much weight….NO!

A good strength and conditioning program will take you through the ins and outs of technique, progressions, regressions, and teach you not only how to get stronger and faster, but do it in a fashion that keeps your body healthy and safe.

Why do I love missed reps?  Because when OTHER people miss reps, it makes them easier to beat.  For me, for my athletes, whatever.  IF you’re guilty of always missing reps, I would HATE it because it means you’re willingly allowing yourself to get beat, and you’re not training to your full potential.

 

Be a bad ass. Be smart. OUTwork Everyone.

 

In Strength,

 

Mike Spagnola

Owner/Head Coach

Edge Strength & Conditioning

 

P.S. If you’re ready to see what real training looks like, check out Edge Strength & Conditioning HERE.

Strength & Conditioning, Evolved

How’s it going athletes?

I just wanted to drop a quick line and talk to you about what makes a proper performance training program, because it seems like every gym in town is offering just about everything from strength, to speed, to agility, and a combination of all of them, but the execution is the most important part, and that’s where your run of the mill program, high schools included, are going to fall way short.

Here’s the deal.  A good performance training program should consist of the following:

-Self myofascial release (foam rolling)

-Joint mobilization (flexibility if needed)

-Warm up

-Speed/Agility/Plyo/Power Training

-Strength Training

-Hypertrophy (getting more muscle)

-Conditioning

None of these can be ignored, but there are a few more that are often overlooked that I love to add for my athletes:

-Competition

-Mental Toughness

-Nutrition

-Skills Training

Let’s dive right in:

Self Myofascial Release

This is a form of stretching. Not your typical gym stretch of crossing your arm and pulling or touching your toes, SMR sends a signal to the muscle to release areas of tension. In addition, it also reduces soreness.  I can honestly say that unless something is chronically tight (for me that’s my calves, triceps and hip flexors) I don’t stretch them.  Even then, I only static (read: old school gym stretching) stretch after foam rolling (SMR) and a good warm up, which brings me to the next key in strength and conditioning…

Warm-up/Joint Mobilization

Here’s the thing about these two–by no means do they HAVE to be one in the same, but when you’re training athletes it’s all about training efficiency.  Stealing this analogy from Chad Wesley Smith, owner at www.jtsstrength.com, your central nervous system is like a cup, and once that cup is full, you’re overtrained.

Now, i’m not naive enough to believe that overtraining happens this easily, but think about what a typical high school athlete has to go through on a day to day basis: Practice, two-a-days, weight lifting at the school (or just milking it to get real training in elsewhere), school, girlfriend/boyfriend stress, family stress, homework, tests, job, balance friendships.

That’s a lot.  Combine that with less than perfect nutrition (because what 16 year old do you know that eats 100% perfect…I know ONE), and you’ve got a recipe that DEMANDS efficiency in your training program.

So here’s the goals of this phase of the session:

-Raise the core body temperature to prepare the body/muscles/joints for exercise

-Increase joint range of motion for bulletproofing the body.

-Give athletes a plan to follow for daily work

Here’s a sample routine that you can follow with some good success:

- heel walks x50ft

-glute walks x50ft

-long lunge x50ft x 2

-shoulder band tornadoes x 50

-Band Pull aparts x50

-T Spine Extensions on a foam/PVC roller x20

-Overhead squats x 20 x 2

-Sprints x15yards x 3 reps x 2 sets

Speed/Agility/Plyo

Here’s my belief on this portion of the program: for the vast majority of younger athletes, this is the least important part of a good strength and conditioning program. I’m sure a bunch of readers just started crying because I said their precious dot/ladder/sprint workout is not the best….too goddamn bad, and here’s why:

1. Most “Strength coaches” don’t know a damn thing about speed and end up making it a botch job conditioning session (more on this in a minute.

2.  Most athletes are so weak and immobile that simply improving both of those facets of the program, as well as utilizing the speed/agility/plyo portion to fine-tune mechanics and PRACTICE speed as a skill, will result in a dramatic improvement in speed.

Here are the rules in speed training:

1.  FULL recovery must be made. World class sprinters will rest several minutes between each set because of how demanding a sprint is.  The faster you are, the more it takes out of you.  To go off our old analogy, the faster you are, the faster that cup called your central nervous system will get jacked up.  But this isn’t an excuse to run a young, slower athlete into the ground and call it speed training.  In fact, lets say this:

If you’re breathing heavy, under-recovered, legs are burning, or moving less than 95% of your top end speed for that given movement, then YOU ARE NOT TRAINING SPEED,YOU ARE TRAINING CONDITIONING.  PERIOD.

Here are a few drills we do at Edge to make sure our athletes are practicing their skill:

Mountain climber starts (teaches first step to push off both feet)  6-10 sets of 20-40yards, full recovery

fall foward sprints (teaches proper starting mechanics, firing out of the hole) 4-8 x 10-20 yards, full recovery

Sled resisted sprints (proper mechanics, strengthens while sprinting) 3-8 x 8-25 yards

Box jumps 1-6×1-6

Broad/double/triple jumps 1-5×1-8

Med ball/tire throws, all variations 1-10 x 1-5

hurdle hops

SB shoulders

band resisted KB swings

Strength

This is the most important facet unless you already display adequate strength levels.  How do you know when you’re “adequate”?  Good question, and the answer is kind of a bitch….when getting stronger no longer gets you better at your sport or the skills that make you better at your sport, you’re probably okay to put much more emphasis on the other facets of strength.

For example, a client of mine brought his good friend who plays pro football to get a session in.  While we were talking after he says “yeah I really never bench anymore, I can hit 225 for like 1 5 and that’s plenty of upper body strength for me”.

Well yeah, of course that’s enough weight for a safety.  His time would be better served maintaining strength, increasing mobility, speed, and practicing his sport.

But what about the high school safety that benches 95×5?  He needs to get his strength WAY up.

Some important lifts are:

Squat, Deadlift, Bench, Overhead Press, and Chin-ups.

Everything else is icing on top.

For these movements I typically like 3-5 sets of 1-8 reps.

NOTE*  Maxing isn’t the end all be all.  So many damn coaches want more weight on the bar and sacrifice form.  My question is this: who’s ego are you feeding, yours or the athlete?  Because last time I checked the body can only tell stress, not load.  So less weight with proper technique will ALWAYS elicit a better training response (bigger, faster, stronger, safer) than form that feeds into the ego.

Hypertrophy

Alright so this might hurt some feelings too, but i’m on a roll so why stop now?  (P.S. I won’t apologize for coming off strong.  If you ask me how to position your feet for a more efficient baseball swing, or wrist position on a basketball, or how to do a brake job, or how to bake a cake, I don’t have a clue.  But strength and conditioning I know, so listen up or get out of my way).

At some point, you gotta put on some muscle.

More muscle = more potential for more strength gains.

The trick and the key is doing this without losing athleticism.   In all reality, it’s not really a trick.  If you do every single thing I said, and then finish out your training day with some advanced bodyweight or dumbbell moves in the 10-25 rep range, I don’t think everything else you did will diminish into nothingness.  That’s bulls**t.

Here are some moves I like for my athletes:

dips

handstands

chin ups

BW rows

dumbbell bench

batwing rows

GHR/Back ext

DB clean and press

Curls (just not in the squat rack)

band tricep extensions

Depending on the movment, i’ll program either 30-50 reps of 50-100 reps.  Higher stress moves like dips and chin ups are closer to 50 total reps and less intense moves like batwing rows and curls closer to 100 reps.

Plus, name one athlete that doesn’t want bigger arms, better posture, and to have more confidence taking his shirt off at the beach.  I rest my case.

Alright, that’s it for the first installment…be sure to drop a comment so I can notify you when part two comes out!  If you’re looking to learn more about what goes on inside Edge, check us out  by clicking here to schedule your trial workout.

In Strength,

Mike Spagnola

Owner, Edge Strength & Performance

Edge Summer Edition: Eating for Success on Vacation

What’s crackin’ Edge nation?

The last few weeks have been absolutely insane at Edge….our family is growing like crazy (we’ll be approaching 100 badasses in a few months), people are hitting PRs left and right, tons of clients are losing weight FAST, and life is good.

But Summer is pretty much here, and I know many of you are going to be on vacation soon.  This begs the question:

How do I eat to maintain my progress on vacation?

The answer is actually pretty simple, but some people like to overcomplicate and make everything into a big friggin’ mess.  All you have to do is determine what variables you are going to control, and which you are going to let control you while on vacation.  Here are a few steps to be successful on vacation:

 

Step One:  Establish the Control

Okay, this one should be easy.  Figure out what you like, and what you don’t like.  For example, I LOVE training.  When I went on my last weekend getaway, I brought a kettlebell.  One day I hit a couple hundred swings, and the next I did a circuit that looked something like:

25 KB Swings

20 yard sprint (20 down/20 back)

15 plyo pushups

As many rounds as possible in 10 minutes, plus of course a 10 minute warm up.

 

Certainly not going to win me any strongman competitions or help me set a new deadlift PR, but it’s enough to keep me active, burning calories, and like I said….I LOVE training.  Also, this enables me to eat a couple more calories with a little less impact, so that’s a plus.

 

Additionally, I love to eat good food at new, small town restaurants.  Since I knew that there would be plenty of those, I decided that I would severely limit any sort of dessert.

I also know that I can eat a lot of food when I eat, so I opted for coffee and morning walks rather than eating breakfast (call it a fast or whatever, I just waited until lunch to eat in order  make sure I didn’t eat 7000 calories a day).

 

Step Two: Have your cake, but only eat it once or twice

Since desserts didn’t fit into the plan, I knew it would be unwise to add them into the mix.  However, I also knew that the spot I was vacationing at had an amazing ice cream joint that would be foolish not to have some.

But I didn’t go crazy. I had a single scoop of ice cream on a cone and called it good for the whole vacation. It didn’t fit with the plan, but i’m on vacation.

And since I chose to train and limit my morning calories, the effect was minimal:

In fact, 4 days after the vacation I was back to my normal weight (once the sodium and carb load wore off).

 

Step Three:  Damage Control

Immediately after a vacation, I think it’s best to do a quick carb reset. In other words, have none for a couple days. I usually do it for 3-7 days (I try to match the days I reset to the days I vacationed) and the result is almost always that my bodyweight gets back to normal or a bit lower.

 

Step 1.5:  Keep it in Perspective 

I didn’t put this one in order because I wanted you to read how I do things before you decide for yourself.  This is important.  It’s vacation and it should be a mental reset.  That’s why I’m more relaxed than usual.

But, usually summer vacations mean beaches (and shitty food and a bunch of booze usually means BLOATED), and you want to keep that body you’ve been working hard for.  That, and whether you’re in progress or at your goal, you don’t want to have to put in more work for the same results you’ve already gotten before the vacation.

So to recap, my vacation protocol is this:

Enjoy:

-Training

-Quality food

-the occasional dessert

 

Stick to my guns:

-No alcohol (I don’t drink anyway)

-VERY, VERY limited dessert

-No food in the A.M.

-Extra walking

 

There you have it.  Now when you’re on vacation, you will be armed and prepared with the knowledge necessary to be successful before, after, and during the vacation!

 

Get after it!

 

Mike Spagnola

 

 

Rise Above: Ignore Stupidity, Get Better, Dominate Life.

There are so many scams out there that it seems impossible to decode everything and just work hard to get results. We live in a society where we firmly believe the harder you work, the more results you get. As a National level strongman competitor and a performance training facility owner, NOTHING could be further from the truth. Here are just a few that i’ve seen that are proof of people believing this:

Prowler suicides until you puke.

Practicing your sport all year long as your only means of getting better.

Setting PRs with terrible form as an athlete (hint: its about the training EFFECT, not a number on the bar).

Training 3x/week with a coach, then going and training another 3x/week with your friends.

Running 5x/week, doing yoga 3x/week, strength training 3x/week, and eating 1200 calories a day

Training for 3 hours daily

And the list goes on….

Here’s the thing; ALL of those examples will give you the FEELING that you’re getting better. You’re sweating, puking, hurting, grinding….so you feel like you did something good. But did you?

I’d bet $100 bucks that you didn’t.

All that matters is results. Simply feeling like you’re working hard doesn’t mean anything. In fact, i’d venture to say that you are probably doing more harm than good by “feeling” like you did something. Don’t get me wrong; I understand the want to FEEL like you did something. Know what I do when I feel that need?

These Lady Warriors are working toward RESULTS not soreness!

I take a step back and look at the goal. My goal is to get better: help more people at Edge, make more money to support me and loved ones, and in training to win 200lb nationals. Is feeling really sore in my biceps because I did 50 rep curl going to move me closer to that goal?

If not, I don’t do it. It’s that simple.

You need to be like this with your training. You owe it to yourself to work toward your real goal(s), not some random desire to feel like you accidentally sat on an upside down bar stool the night before.

 

If you feel like you sat on a stool like this from training, you probably did more harm than good.

 

Anyway, here are some times when you might feel sore and it’s actually OK:

-Introducing new exercises to a program

-Increasing volume/changing to higher rep program

-Brand new to exercise program.

 

Other than those (and if i’m missing any, drop a comment below and let me know!), if you are getting brutally sore all the time you are:

-falling prey to a crappy trainer’s attempt to dupe you into feeling like you’re getting better

-Tricking yourself into thinking you’re getting results by purposely making yourself sore.

-Doing WAY too much.

-Sleeping/Eating WAY too little.

-Some combination of all of these.

 

So think about it.  I’m calling you out.  What are you doing, and is it making you better?  If not, FIX IT.  Find someone that knows what they’re doing, and get the help you need to reach your goals.

 

In Strength,

 

Mike Spagnola

Why You NEED to try Strongman: Get that Elitist Garbage out of your Head!

Seriously, just do it.  And do it fast.

Strongman competitions are not what you see on TV.  Honestly not even close, because here are the facts: Most of us are not 7 feet tall and 400lbs.  Sorry, but that’s just not feasible.  At 5’8” on a really tall day (when you’re closer to 5’6” than 6’0”, you’re allowed to have tall days, it’s science), it’s not even something for me to strive for.

That’s real talk right there, but i’ll be damned if that stops me from going out and competing.  And I wasn’t born and just able to do a strongman competition, but it is definitely a means for me to stay true to my diet, my training, and keep the competitive edge now that i’m no longer in school.

It’s not about winning and becoming a national champ for most people, or at least not at first.  That’s something that comes when you get more involved.  At first, it’s just about doing what others won’t simply because you CAN.

So what i’ve done to prove that nobody is below strongman is compile a long list of competitors ranging from novice first timers to nationally ranked competitors.

Like my friend Kalle Beck wrote in his blog post, one of the reasons crossfit is so popular despite strongman being around for much longer is that it is inviting to everyone.  While I don’t think strongman needs to change it’s rules or anything like that, it’s important to understand that there is not a person who trains their ass off that can’t reach the level of competing.  Not only does if feel friggin’ awesome to be there, but you meet some of the coolest people in the world, get to travel (if you want to) and make friends all over, and you get to do something that, unfortunately, too many others won’t get to experience:  working hard toward a goal, and then watching that work pay off and come to fruition as you display your skills.  Here are a ton of stories about some incredible athletes, how they got started in training and strongman training, and what it’s done for their lives:

Derek Stone

Why did I start strongman? Short version I because love to train. Want a little more back story? As a child I was always very heavy set (fat for those of you that don’t care about political correctness). As a result I never had much confidence or self belief. I was a 235 freshman in high school that probably couldn’t have done more than a handful of push up when I stumbled in the weight room one day. I started training and noticed the results. I was weak as a kitten at first, but gradually got better and stronger everyday. I started noticing changes in how I felt about myself as well. Fast forward to my senior year and I am holding a state championship powerlifting trophy in the 181lb class. I wasn’t just stronger I was a different person both physically and mentally.
I went a couple years after that just training with no competitions of any sort, then I stumbled onto the NAS website. Always thought strongman on T.V. was fascinating thought I would give it a shot. Fast forward 5 years from that moment and I have done 24 strongman competitions and have no intentions of stopping. I love competing as I am a very competitive individual. However what I love most is that it gives me a reason to push myself in training.

I chose strongman over other strength athletics because it gives me a lot of variety. It challenges me to get stronger in all aspects. The gym has always been my place of peace. While a lot of people crank the metal and yell and scream. I have been known to crank the contemporary Christian music and just kill it. Weird? Probably. Do I care that its weird? Absolutely not. The gym has always been my refuge. I believe God provided me with this as a health positive outlet. Strength training built me into the man I am today. Strongman just gives me a reason to push even harder and farther than imaginable. Everyone should find their passion. I found mine and was blessed to find it at an early age.

You can contact Derek Stone here on facebook

Nic Peterson

I actually pursued college football to see if i could do it. I have always been one to want a challenge (i need one to get out of bed every morning). When I lost my scholarship and the football dream was i turned to training athletes, and met a strongman who also trained athletes. He convinced me to start, despite my bad shoulders and horrible deadlift. Two years later, today, i continue to grow with the sport… At ANY level strongman pushes you to be the best version of yourself. There is no greater challenge than the mental and physical challenge of competing or training strongman. I’m a better, alcohol free, disciplined version of myself and have had avenues opened through strongman that i never thought possible– including my dream job!

You can contact Nic at relentlessgym@yahoo.com or relentlessmembers.com

Sam Ruttenberg

When people find out that I compete in strong man/ powerlifting they often say things to me like “why would you ever want to lift weights?!” or  “Do you know how bulky you are going to get?!” and I’ve even gotten: “oh so you don’t care how you look.” I have been getting this much criticism since I started in strength sports 2 years ago. But lets start out from the beginning; before the critics, before the state records, and  before proving to people that the rumors with women and weight lifting are totally false. Back in 2010 I was simply trying to lose weight.  After I shed 30lb I began working out at local cardinal fitness after I got a job there. I meet some people who said they were into powerlifting and I should give it a try.  . After blood,sweat and some tears I competed and set 3 state
records. After that competition I feel in love with everything about being strong. Soon after the meet my life got pretty hectic; family problems brought a lot of unwanted stress into my life and I got more involved in strength training. I think I got more involved because it kept me sane.  Some people find refuge in drugs and partying, I found it in the iron. I don’t know what I would have done if it wasn’t for weights and my lovely boyfriend, Mike, to help me get through it.

Fast forward a few years. Mike was competing in a strongman competition hosted by Derek Stone in KY. We went to Refuge barbell to get him weighed in, Derek asks why I’m not competing.  Then everyone there started “pressuring” (more like motivating and inspiring) me to do the competition. I finally asked how much the stone I needed to load weighed. Derek pointed it out to me in the gym and I loaded the stone in skinny jeans and sandals–I loaded it and agreed to compete. I soon realized that I didn’t have shoes, my belt, I didn’t know how to do half the events.. When the competition came I learned the events 5 minutes before doing them. Lucky for me, the lovely ladies I competed against were so helpful! I ended up placing fourth and even placed third in one event.

So the way I got into strength sports was what some would consider peer pressure. However I wouldn’t have it any other way. Not only has being a strongman and power lifter taught me how to be physically strong but mentally strong as well (which I need the most at this point in my life). Well, that, and proving the critics were so far from the truth.

You can contact Sam at smruttenberg@gmail.com

Richard Gregg

I got into strongman training because I loved strength sports. I was competing in geared PL at the time and was getting tired of how the sport became all about the gear and less about the lifter. I ran into Brad Dunn and he told me about strongman style training. That week I signed up to train with Brad. That was three years ago and I have been hooked ever since. I enjoy pushing my body to the max and also helping to train new athletes. Its a passion that runs deep in my blood.

Kalle Beck

I had always watched Worlds Strongest Man on TV, I loved it but didn’t understand it. I grew up reading tons of comic books and they were the closest thing to real life superheroes to me. How do you become a superhero though? Isn’t that something you are just born with? That’s the way I thought.

It was December 2006 and I had spent the year squatting and deadlifting and trying to get bigger. I was scrawny 140lb kid and had put on some muscle and fat to get up to 186 I loved getting stronger and bigger but training was getting stale without a definitive goal. I had heard about powerlifting and I was planning on training to do a meet the next year until I stumbled upon a Post on a message board by then Lightweight Pro strongman Brad Cardoza. This guy was 230 pounds under 6′ tall and JACKED. It was at least 20 pages long and I read every bit of it. He was getting ready to go compete for Worlds Strongest Man Under 105kg in China. I didn’t know there was such a thing. Through that I found www.nastrongman.com and looked at completed contests. I saw that just in October there had been a local strongman contest in Santa Cruz, CA that was only 20 minutes from where I live and had a 200 pound class. I figured if I trained hard for a year I could compete in it the next year. I stayed up till at least 3 A.M searching for information. I emailed the contest promoter if he was going to have another one next year and asked if he knew of anyone that trained in my area. He said they were not going to promote the contest but gave me Evan Hansman’s email. He agreed to let me come train with his group next Sunday. I drove out to Scotts Valley to a park with HUGE redwood trees and huge tires/piles of plates everywhere. Such a cool setting. Evan was an intimidating giant at 6’6 300+lbs and easily strongest person I’ve ever seen at that time. He was helpful though and taught me how to clean an axle. I think I was using around 160lbs and my stomach was deep purple bruised for a week. I was soft and strongman would harden me.
I against any common sense signed up for the Golden State Strongman Challenge Plat+ yes at 185lbs my first contest was a platinum+ I didn’t fare well by any means and was not ready but I still tried and kept improving from that point forward until where I am today–about to compete for a world title at the Arnold Classic
Contact Kalle on Facebook.
Chase Karnes

I always thought strongman was a sport only for the genetic freaks who are over 6 foot tall and 300 pounds. You know the guys we see on ESPN late at night or through the holidays. I had no clue it was a sport that had an amateur sanctioning body. When I first heard this I was very intrigued and decided I wanted to see what it was all about. I don’t recall exactly how it happened, but next thing I know I’m training in 17 degree weather at a guy’s house here in the city I live in. I had been invited to train with the strongman crew and took them up on the offer. I had no clue what to expect and really didn’t care. It sounded fun and outside of my comfort zone. Let’s do this. It was cold and the guys who I was training with where very strong and experienced. One of which was even a former lightweight professional strongman. I was definitely the weakest guy there, but I didn’t care.

Going in I honestly thought of myself as decently strong. I had trained for football, and then got into bodybuilding after high school. Not long after I had discovered powerlifting and really started to enjoy the training and competing. I had just done my first full power meet (squat, bench, deadlift) a few weeks before hearing about this strongman training crew in my city.
After my first day training with the guys I knew I was weak. And what better way to get stronger than to have something to train for. I went home and got on NAStrongman.com (North American Strongman) and looked for the next competition that was fairly close to where I live. I found one 3 hours away that was about 8 weeks out. I printed off the entry and mailed it in along with the entry fee. I was committed.

As I was preparing for the competition a friend from my training crew told me about a non-sanctioned competition about an hour away that upcoming weekend and he asked if I wanted to compete. Why not? So without knowing the events or training for it we loaded up and I competed in the LW under 200 class. I took 4th out of 5 if I remember correctly. Since it wasn’t a sanctioned show there were no records or trophy for me to look back and remember. Either way, I was weak. I was a few weeks out from my actual sanctioned competition and training harder than ever.

That competition was here before I knew it and all in all in went really good. I took 2nd place out of 3 competitors, but it was the most fun I’d ever had competing in my life. The adrenaline was unreal and the crowd and fans made it even better. I hit a handful of PRs and it felt good to have officially competed. It also allowed me to compare myself to the guy who won and see what my weaknesses were so I could go fix them.

That first sanctioned competition was in April of 2009. Since then I went to from pretty bad novice competitor to taking 2nd Place at North America’s Strongest Man National Championships in the Lightweight 200 class this past November. I’ve competed 11 times in the past 3 years and will be competing in my 12th competition next weekend.

This is a great sport and great for anyone with a decent base of strength to give a try. I know way too many guy who won’t compete because they aren’t as good as they want to be. If that was the case for me I still would be waiting to compete. Because I’m not as good as I want to be. But to see what you need to work on to be the best, you’ve got to compete against the best. There’s no better time than now to make that commitment and compete.

You can contact Chase at www.chasekarnes.com.
Cory Black Sr.
My name is Cory Black Sr.  I’m 33 yrs old and I’m a husband and father of three.  I was 200 lbs from 2nd grade to 9th grade.  In ninth grade it only got worse.  By the time I graduated, I was over 300lbs. One day, sitting in a church pew I literally couldn’t see my legs.  It was then that I decided to go on a diet. I starved myself for 6 months and lost over 100 lbs, and got down to 185lbs.  I was very unhappy with the way I was looking and feeling, so I started working out.  In 2003, I moved to Lantana, FL, where my family and I started our new lives.  I continued to workout without any fulfillment at all.  In 2006, we moved to Port Saint Lucie, FL., where in 2010 I met a friend who was “very” strong and large.  He told me of a gym where he thought I would make great gains and only get better,  it was a strongman gym.  That is where I met Nic Peterson.  I enjoyed watching strongman on TV, and the thought of doing strongman, but never tried it.  One Saturday in 2011, I watched Nic compete in his first ever strongman competition.  I knew then, that strongman is what I wanted to do.  I’ve been in 4 shows, placing everywhere from last to 4th.  In my first competition I took first place in the stone load in the novice division. With each competition, I learn more and improve in strength and technique.  The reason I continue to do it is because I love the competition and camaraderie.  Now, I’m 6’1″, 250 lbs (mostly muscle), and I get complimented all the time.  I feel if it wasn’t for strongman I probably would have given up on training all together and probably would be over 300lbs again.  I give credit and  thanks to God, my wife and kids for supporting me, for my online strongman friends, and for my trainer Nic Peterson. If it wasn’t for all of these people combined, I would never have  believed in myself enough to try.
Check out Cory’s progress on Facebook.
Zach Leff

I remember vividly when I decided that strongman training was going to be for me. I was at an Elite Fitness Learn To Train seminar to get better at training myself and others. At the time my dead lift was 405×1 rep, squat was 315×1, and my bench was 245×1. To sum up the obvious, I was not the strongest guy in my group there.
Later on in the day we were brought outside to try some strongman implements; these were something I had always wanted to try but never had the chance to. The first thing put in front of us was a 160lb atlas stone. I was the first to give it a try loading it over the bar. I had success doing so. At that moment I felt something I had never felt while training on a barbell; it felt amazing and exhilarating to be able to put up such a heavy stone. Out of the whole crowd I was one of the few that was able to load the stone. Then we grabbed the larger 200lb stone, and I was the only to complete the task.
We went on to some other implements during the day that I had enjoyed thoroughly, and was surprisingly decent at them. Finding a new way of training for me was a new lease on training. It was a way, whether or not you want to compete, to do something not many people have tried or can do. I think most people get the notion that you have to be the “Worlds Strongest Man” to use strongman implements, but that simply is not true.
A lot of the movements can carry over to your regular barbell training. I know that, through  strongman, training that it has helped improve my overhead press, squat, bench, and deadlift. I would suggest to anyone looking for a new and extremely beneficial training style, to check out strongman training. If you like to lift heavy things over your head or off the ground, then try strongman training.

You can contact Zach on Facebook.
My story:
Honestly, it’s not that exciting.  Unless you consider secret service, mercenary, and slaying dragons exciting.  Then it’s great.  Basically I got into strength training as a 5’1” 185lb fourteen year old kid.   To make a long story short,I was busy doing the right thing, and some people I thought were friends couldn’t handle it.  So friendships turned into borderline abusive relationships that almost necessitated police involvement.  I was pissed, and I was scared.  I thought to myself “there’s got to be a way to handle this other than being a wimp and crying for help.  So I asked my dad to teach me how to train.
Things got resolved, one way or another, but I never stopped training.  I remember the first time I benched pressed:  65lbsx8 reps.   I didn’t really learn to squat until 2-3 years later, and I started with 145lbs squatting until my butt touched the top of an upside-down hope depot bucket.    So really, I don’t have any unique abilities, other than one.  I’m not the strongest, most muscular, or fastest guy.  But my effort is incredible.  I will do what others refuse to make sure I win.  I always tell my athletes that the only thing that sets me apart from them is my uncanny ability to OUTwork Everyone around me, and it’s clear that each and every one of these guys and ladies possesses the same burning desire.
Fast forward 6-7 years later, and I’ve competed in 4 NAS sanctioned competitions, placing 1st and 2nd in my two 200lb competitions, and 4th and 5th in the 231 class.  And I’m just getting warmed up.
Like I said, for me and most of us, strongman is an outlet; a way to push ourselves, stay true to our diet, our training, and keep us laser focused.  You know that guy that gets off track for a few months because of some random shit that happens in their life?  Yeah, that’s not us.  We will find a way to overcome, to OUTwork, stay true to ourselves and our training, and we become better people because of it.
And there’s no reason you can’t either.  If an angry, once fat and almost midget kid can turn an emotion into a passion that forces him to be the best and strongest person he can be, then anyone can.    This is a sport that anyone willing to put in time and effort can compete in.  So go find one NOW and go do it!  Check out www.nastrongman.com and look up the upcoming competitions.
If you have any questions at all, drop a comment below, email me at mspagnola@edgestrength.com, or message any of us. If you have our contact information, we are willing to help you out.  The people chosen on this list will not take any question as a dumb question;  we want you to try strongman, to help the sport grow, and for you to become the strongest possible version of yourself, inside the gym, and out.
Now go set some PRs,
Mike Spagnola
(P.S. If you’re local to the Cary, IL area and reading this, give me a shout out and come try strongman for yourself!  mspagnola@edgestrength.com)

Treadmill Jogging for HUGE gains and the Latest Supplement GUARANTEED to Get You Jacked!

What if I told you that getting fast was as simple as jogging on a treadmill, and getting ripped was a simple as taking the latest H2N3 Supplement “clinically proven” to get you 10lbs of muscle, endless babes, and become an unstoppable force on the field next season?

You’d probably wonder who is paying me to sell treadmills, or what kind of crazy drug i’ve been on, that’s what.

Obviously you know that the title is tongue in cheek, but now that i’ve got your attention, be ready to sit back, enjoy the laugh, and take notes!

Athletes on Treadmills:  The Speed Killer

The first thing is jogging in general, which places anywhere from 2-6x (depending on foot strike patterns, biomechanics, etc) your bodyweight on one leg each rep, and you’re doing in the thousands if not tens of thousands of reps, so it’s very damaging to the joints.   Compare this with a quick burst sprint (like just about EVERY sport), an explosive push of the prowler, or even a 405 squat…how many times are you hitting the ground?  Not many, it starts, then it’s done.

If you’re jogging in general (but especially on a treadmill, for reasons this article will cover), chances are good you’re doing more to REVERSE some of the effects of strength training.  Crack open any anatomy book and you’ll see that the muscle fiber types necessary to be developed for strength and power are the opposite fibers designed for sustained, medium output movement.

If it doesn’t help you in your sport, don’t do it.

Building a Cardio Base

Then there’s this whole nonsense about building a “cardio base” to get faster.  I’ve even seen this be taken as far as “working the legs so you’re faster when you sprint”

…What?

“Trust me, my coach used to do this. Made us all better”

I’m not even sure the people saying these things believe them.  The sad truth is that they simply don’t know better.  Their coach taught them (who learned from his coach when he played ball, by the way) and now they’re trying to teach their athlete son/daughter how to do it.  I see this all too often, and it’s pretty sad to watch an athlete’s athletic potential go to waste because someone in their life is too stubborn to know when they DON’T know.

Nobody likes a jack of all trades.  I suck at doing anything more than a brake job on a car, so I pay someone to have it done.  Makes sense right?

Getting faster won’t happen on a treadmill.  Treadmills pull your body forward and do some of the work for you.  They do not mimic the pattern sprinting forces your body into.  Neither does jogging off a treadmill (although it’s closer).

A Better Way

There are other ways to develop the ability to sprint faster.  The first is to actually sprint.  On ground, grass, turf, whatever.  Just not a treadmill.  It’s not the same, and you know it.  Hell, most 13 year olds are smart enough to feel the difference.  It’s “similar” but not the same.

Other options include sled dragging, sled pushing, and simply getting stronger to produce more force with less effort.  

(Side Note:  I’m not talking about fat loss, marathon runners, or simply running for enjoyment.  If you honestly get up and look forward to joggin on a treadmill, or the ground, or wherever, this isn’t my attempt to make you stop.  Far from it.  Do what makes you happy, just know the facts about those things)

The Reality:

People that don’t know shouldn’t teach.  This sounds obvious, but I don’t want to learn spanish from someone who can only swear at their friends, so you shouldn’t want to learn strength, conditioning, speed, and self-improvement from somebody that doesn’t know about these things.    Take a look at your current program.  Take a look at your current coach:  are you learning from someone that knows, or someone trying to make you believe you know?

 

Machines aren’t for athletes. Period.

If it’s the worse of the two scenarios, you are probably, either knowingly or unknowingly, suffering from the same thing supplement companies try to sell you:  GET JACKED FAST.  There is no easy way.  Strength and Conditioning isn’t easy.  Getting faster isn’t easy.  Eating to get bigger while getting faster at the same time?  You guessed it, pretty damn difficult.  The fact is, anyone trying to convince you that a treadmill jog or even a sprint will get you faster is dead wrong, and they are leading you to believe you are gonna make easy gains from something easy.  Anyone can hop on a treadmill and jog for 30 minutes.  60 pushups?  A 2x Bodyweight squat?  Proper Prowler sprint mechanic implementation?  Programming/Getting programming from someone who knows more than you do about what it takes to get better?

Now that’s hard. You know what?  I think i’ll stick to my treadmill.

Get Strong, stay Strong,

Mike Spagnola

(P.S:  The closest thing I have to a magical supplement is Sun Warrior Protein.  Click here for some discounted rates).

(P.P.S:  There are some very technically advanced methods to utilize certain types of treadmills, but if you don’t even know what i’m talking about, pretend there aren’t).

How I Wasted 6 Months of Owning A Hardcore Training Facility

Everybody hates used car salesmen.  They’re the kind of people you don’t go out and say “I’m gonna be just like THAT guy!”   With that being said, I think it’s fair to say that I’m not good at selling anything to anyone.    This is a fact.  But i will say i’ve gotten much, much better at making it easy for people to buy from me.

 

I remember a time not too long ago I had a  lady come in.  I put her in a group and we ran through a session.  We foam rolled (never done it before), learned to box squat (never done it before), did some body weight work (didn’t know she could do half the things I had her do) and then pushed the prowler for a few rounds.

She had NEVER done that.  Probably was happy to never do it again.

Tania kicked ass.  She’s the type of person I WANT to train.  She tries hard, doesn’t question new things unless she’s interested in LEARNING, and words HARD.  That’s my kind of client, and my kind of friend.   Naturally, I assumed she’d love to train here.  So we get done with the session, Tania still sweating and panting hard, slightly hazed (from the prowler!), we go into the office.

“So Tania, what’d you think?”

“That was awesome, i’ve never done ANYTHING like that before”

“Awesome.  Well I suck at selling, so that’s why I showed you.  Want to sign up?”

And so it went on, and on and on, for the first few months of Edge.  The crazy thing is that Tania signed up and still trains her ass off today, but how many people were scared away from signing up because I didn’t ASK the right way?

Probably too many.  And for that, i’m sorry.

But I want to make it up to you.  The first few months there were several college students that came in to check it out, only to not come back simply because they were never asked to.  Here’s my fix.

I’m offering all high school/college students a month of training during their winter break at a steep discount to make up for my inability to make sure you got the training you deserve!

Please be warned.  This isn’t a cardinal fitness.  It’s not a lifetime, and you don’t come to my facility if you want to be lazy or pick up chicks.  This is a place to train.  To become stronger, safer ,faster, and to look better naked.

If that’s not you, then don’t worry about contacting me.  But I think you’re better than oogling at girls on treadmills and flexing in the mirror.  You are better, and deserve better.  Edge isn’t just better; it’s the best.

Let me show you why this Winter Break.

Click here,  drop a comment or email me at mspagnola@edgestrength.com to sign up.

 

Stay Strong,

 

Mike Spagnola

 

 

P.S .  Did I mention that i’m limiting this to 10 spots?  There simply isn’t enough room in my training sessions for more than 10.  I suggest you hurry. Click here to opt in today!  (Link not working? Email me  at mspagnola@edgestrength.com).

 

P.P.S .  Did I mention that reserving your spot over winter break BEFORE Thanksgiving break is going to give you access to more training sessions (no cost–that’s on me) for Thanksgiving break?  Drop a comment below or email me at mspagnola@edgestrength.com .

Morton Strongman Write-Up: Reppin’ the Edge Family Loud and Proud!

Stuff was lifted. Trophies were won.

Before I tell you how awesome Team Edge did in Morton…

It isn’t often when you can truly create a culture and community that literally can serve as your second family.  Hell, most people won’t even know what it is i’m talking about because they’ve never experienced it.  And that to me is not okay.  Everyone deserves to have a home away from home where you know people, they know you, and you have a sort of trust that just sort of works out.

That’s because, at least in my experience with my time with Edge,  I can honestly say that when you strain, sweat, and grow together, it’s really tough to think of it as anything other than a family.  That’s why the whole #EdgeFamily hash tag thing started.  It’s really more about creating better people, athletes, and community than just ‘getting a workout’.  Anyone can workout, it takes some serious skill to create a sub-culture to allow people to grow in.

And that’s exactly what we’re doing.

 

 

 

Now For Some Awesome

 

 

 

 

Mike:  1st place 200lb open

Zach: Sportsmanship award (only guy to get the crowd jazzed up.  Was in 3rd going into the last event.  Passed it for personal reasons)

Sam:  4th place women’s open

Mario: 4th place Novice

Rudy:  2nd Place Novice

Overall, everyone had a great day.  There were definitely some road bumps that I think stopped us from taking 1st, 3rd, 3rd, and 1st in the divisions, but I know with some more practice and experience this Team is going to come back and kill it.

I’ve got to say, even though I keep saying this, how ridiculously proud I am of my Team so far.  None of us have competed (or trained) strongman until February of this year (Me and Zach).  The other three, Sam, Rudy, and Mario, all started training specifically for the events less than 6 weeks out.  Can you imagine the level this Team will be on in a year?  Two years?  FIVE?  Exactly.

The other interesting thing is how the Family environment in Edge has created more care than most people get from their families about something like strongman.  Good lucks and good job left and right, people texting me and the other competitors and asking how we did, if we made weight, and what the events were….go out and do a strongman competition, tell your family, and see the response you get.  ”Oh cool you are lifting weights”.  But not our Family.  Not even close.

Thank you all for the support and care you give.  For everyone competing, it means the world that you actually care.  It takes a lot of balls to go out and compete.  You are essentially telling everyone looking “hey look at me, i’m claiming to be strong, watch me test it”.  That’s a pretty bold move, and takes a lot of courage and confidence.

Look for all of us next year.  Every single one of those names will have a first place finish before 2013 closes, mark my words.  And hopefully our team will continue to grow.

Team Edge Morton 2012

Keep OUTworkin’,

Mike Spagnola

Building an Efficient Athlete/Trainee: (Part 3 of 4) Zombie Fortress Mode

Building an Efficient Athlete/Trainee: (Part 3 of 4) Zombie Fortress Mode

If you haven’t checked out part 1 or part 2, I suggest doing so now, or this really won’t make any sense to you.  Because now that we’ve mastered our bodyweight and have moved onto getting strong, what the hell do we do now?  Especially with the Zombie Apocalypse coming, how can we NOT be concerned with getting faster and stronger than everyone around us?

After you’ve developed a strength base, it’s time for something more specific.  It makes little sense to keep doing the same thing when it stops working for a long period of time.  Some may disagree and make you use the same program forever, but generally they are doing so because they want you to buy something and be infinitely happy with it.

I’m about reality (hence the emphasis on zombies, right?), speed, and efficiency.  I’m sure I could find a way (and by that I mean “I know how to”) to make sure you get stronger, bigger, and way faster simply squatting deadlifting and pressing, but for me and my business that would:

A) be boring as hell for me and every athlete, and put me out of business in 3 months

B) Not work all that well.  Too many people advancing too differently, and it makes no sense to be bound to one, two, three, or even just four lifts.

That’s why I follow a cyclical training method that was either invented or popularized by Brandon Lilly.  Now,  Brandon Lilly is a powerlifter, so I ultimately had to make tweaks to better suit the trainee, but the premise is simple.  The reason I give him credit even though it’s not his exact method is because I ultimately spent the last 9 months banging my head against a wall trying to figure out how to fit speed, rep, and strength work into one program without making the athlete super fatigued.

 

As a result, when Brandon put out his Cube method, I was floored.  It makes so much sense, that I made the necessary tweaks to make sure I got it right.   Hopefully Brandon doesn’t feel I botched this idea, but this is what’s been working at Edge, so I won’t lie and say it’s “wrong”, because that’s VERY far from the truth.

This is Brandon Lilly. He’s a boss. Listen to him.

1) Split days based on movements:  Squat, Upper Body, Hinge

2) Further split based on Max Effort, Repetition Effort, and Dynamic Effort.

3) Cycle them so the athlete stays strong, healthy, and not tired.

So week one you’d squat for reps, do a max effort upper body lift, and deadlift for speed/form.

On week two you would squat for max effort, speed/upper body, and deadlift for reps

Week three would be the last method for each lift that wasn’t done.

Over the course of three weeks, you are training all aspects of training: speed, maximum strength, and sustained strength (technically this is not every aspect for a field athlete, but that’s why we make modifications).

This method will undoubtedly leave you the last man/woman standing when the zombie Apocalypse comes.  But what if they’re fast Zombies, you ask?  Good question:

We add speed and explosive work on every dynamic (speed/form) day.  This allows for proper recovery in between speed sessions, and doesn’t take away from training maximum strength.

We add lactic capacity training for recovery on rep days to ensure a faster recovery, and that our athletes get some sort of “conditioning” (whatever this word means to you).

Take that, Zombies.

Stay Strong,

Mike Spagnola