Kansas State University


Find Your Fit

Monster Muscles Monday

Warm Up

Complete 1-3 rounds until you feel warm, mobile, and prepared for more intense exercise

Inch Worm ~ 20 yds

Prone Pulldown x 15

Pogo Jump x 20

Series A

Complete 1-6 rounds of

Suspension Row x Max Reps

Wall Sit x Max Time

Eccentric Pushup x Max Reps

Lower Body Power + Posterior Chain Muscular Development

Happy Monday! In today’s workout, our warm up emphasizes our hips, shoulders, and upper back to prepare us for the demands of the full workout. During the primary series, we have an emphasis on lower body power development with our isometric towel deadlift, progressing to a hamstring and glute muscle gain focus with series B, and ending with a push pull super set for our upper body strength. Get after it!

Warm up

Complete 1-3 rounds until you feel warm and ready to progress to series A

Posterior Hip Capsule Stretch :30 seconds/ each side


Windmill x 8 reps / each side


Inch Worm x 20 yds


Series A

Isometric Towel Deadlift 3-8 sets of maximum effort 10 second holds


Series B

Towel Hamstring Curl Pre-Fatigue x 12-20 reps / side

Bulgarian Split Squat x 12-20 reps / side


Series C

Inverse Row x 5-12 reps

Eccentric Pushup x 5-12 reps


Friday Fit Challenge

Happy May Day! We are nearing the end of the semester and have a likely unconventional summer ahead of us, how are you preparing yourself physically and mentally for this time? The consistency of maintaining a schedule based around training, being physically active, and getting outside all help me cope with challenge and change. Today’s workout is bodyweight only, and I encourage you to train outside today and enjoy all of the beautiful nature in Manhattan, Kansas or wherever you find yourself – let’s get after it!

Warm Up Series

Complete 1-3 rounds

A1 Pogo Jumps x 20

A2 Inch Worm x 10

A3 Prone Rear Delt Pulldown x 10


Strength Series 

Complete 2-5 rounds

B1 Diamond Pushup x 10

can be done from knees or to counter top too!

B2 Single Arm Plank x :15 sec / side

This is an advanced movement sub conventional plank if needed

B3 Bulgarian Split Squat x 10 / leg



Monday Morning Bodyweight Flow

Happy Monday! I don’t know about you, but Monday’s always mean I’m doing to be spending some dedicated time at the computer. All that sitting with my face buried in my computer screen can start to cause some serious upper back and hip stiffness and discomfort. Fight the monday desk slump and start your week of right with blood pumpin’ bodyweight training focused on building fully body strength and postural control. For today’s session, we will be sticking to movements that should be familiar to those of you who’ve been following along week to week. If you’re new around here, no problem! You can always find previous workouts in the blog, but for the time being, check out the videos below and follow along!



Do each of the following stretches for 20-30 seconds each side.


Do 5-10 rounds of the following resting 1-3 minutes between sets depending on your conditioning. 

1A Squat with 3-5 count Pause x 8-12 reps

2A Pushup To Side Plank x 8-12 reps

3A  Suspension Row x  8-12 reps






Friday Fit At Home

Ah, Friday! We made it to the end of the week! Today, we have a bodyweight based home workout centered around the Pushup and Plank + a new single leg exercise to learn and build skill with!

Do 10 reps each side per exercise for 3-6 rounds.

If you’re super strong, a weight vest or a loaded back pack could be used to increase the difficulty!

In all plank positions, we want to keep our abs braced, practice good breathing (in through the nose, out through the mouth, drawing the belly in on exhale), and drive the floor away with our hands while keeping our elbow crease rotated out towards our heads more than in towards our midline.

The Exercises:




Bodyweight Strength and Mobility Old School Soviet Style

So far, many of our workouts have been bodyweight exercises designed to mimic common bodybuilding and weightlifting exercises that normally use barbells, dumbbells, or machines – squats, hamstring curls, rows, etc. Move over Arnold, today we are going to do a workout based upon the old strength training movements found in Eastern European style kettlebell and weightlifting training. The first recorded appearance of the Kettlebell originates in Russia in the 1700’s where it was used to weigh and balance scales. Traditional bells were weighed in a unit called a “pood” which translates to 36.11 lbs – a far cry from the variety of conventional lb based kettle bells we see today.

Today we are going to do bodyweight versions the Turkish get up, the Windmill, and the Bulgarian Split Squat. Of course, if you have a kettlebell at home, or even a dumbbell you can complete all of these drills weighted too!


Pretzel Stretch – Take 5 deep Box Breaths each side. For a refresher on box breathing click here 

Posterior Hip Capsule Stretch – 5 deep box breaths each side



3-6 rounds of:

10 Windmill x side

10 Turkish get up x side

10 Bulgarian Split Squats x side

Home Training With Isometrics!

Happy hump-day! Today’s bodyweight workout focuses on isometric movements! Isometric exercises are any exercise where we push against something that can’t move (like in a wall sit) or where we pause mid way through a movement (like pausing at the bottom of a squat). Isometrics are a great way to get stronger and build when you have no or minimal equipment.

The only piece of equipment you’ll need for today is a standard bath towel, although a bed sheet or other similar material will work just as well.

If you’re using isometrics to try to build strength try doing more sets/reps in the 3-10 second range. For example 3 to 6 sets of 3 x 10 second holds.

If you’re using isometrics to try to get hypertrophy (muscle growth!) try doing longer times all at once for your reps. For example, 3-6 sets of 30-60 second holds.

The Exercises

Series A

3 to 6 sets of either: 3×10 second holds OR 1×30-60 second hold

Bear Crawl Plank

Isometric Lunge (do both sides)

Iso Y Raise




Series B

3 to 6 sets of either: 3×10 second holds OR 1×30-60 second hold

Towel Deadlift

Squat with Pause*

*I squat a bit above parallel because I just had hip surgery, if you need to modify an exercise to fit your ability level – that’s ok! If you need help modifying an exercise, drop a comment below!

Do 3-6 sets of 5 to 10 reps, lowering yourself down on a 3-5 count before exploding up rapidly

Pushup With Eccentric Emphasis*

*you can do these from your needs or from a counter top if you need to make them lighter




Mobility and Relaxation Workout

Happy Saturday! I hope you spent the week enjoying time at home, getting outside, and making all those zoom meetings as fun as possible. Today, we are going to go through a few movements to simply mobilize and stretch all those part of our body that might have gotten tight from a week of sitting and working at home.



Homemade Suspension Trainer Workout


Today we have something a little different for you! We’re going to use a bed sheet and a doorway to create a homemade suspension trainer. Suspension training is an excellent way to exercise using only your bodyweight. Furthermore, suspension training allows you to readily adjust the difficulty depending on how close you stand to the point of suspension.


Below is a quick tutorial on how to create your set up and how to complete a row, bicep curl, and tricep extension using your new equipment!



WORKOUT: Bodyweight Exercise Pyramid, rest 1 minute between each set

10 rows

10 tricep extensions

10 curls

10 air squats

rest 1 minute

9 rows

9 tricep extensions

9 curls

9 air squats

rest 1 minute…

Complete each round by removing a rep from each exercise until you reach a final set of 1 rep per exercise. Congrats! You’ve done 55 reps of each exercise!

If this wasn’t difficult enough for you, you can always limb the pyramid back up by doing sets with ascending reps: 1 each, 2 each, 3 each, etc. until you’ve reached 110 reps each exercise!


Quarantine Training Day 2!




Welcome back to Quarantine Boot Camp! If you’re like me, you’ve probably been at home binge watching Tiger King and getting your steps in between the couch and the fridge. If you’re going stir crazy and needing to move, try the workout below!


Series A) Complete 1 to 5 rounds depending on your fitness level

Exercise 1 – Broom Stick Pull Up x 12 reps

Taking an overhand grip slightly wider than your shoulders, squeeze your lats and upper back while pulling your chest up towards the bar, slowly lower down.


Exercise 2 – Slider Lunge x 12 reps / leg

Standing with one foot on a towel, and the other firmly planted on the floor, drive back through your foot on the towel to slide into a lunge position, drive back up  with your foremost leg. Repeat for reps, then switch sides.

Exercise 3 – Shoulder Touch x 12 touches / arm

With arms extended and hands firmly planted on the ground, assume a pushup position with hips slightly tucked and abs tight. Keeping the crease of your elbow facing towards the top of your head, touch your opposite shoulder with your hands, alternate for desired reps.



Series B) – Complete 1 to 5 rounds depending on your fitness level

Exercise 1 – Copenhagen Adductor Drill x 3 “reps” of 0:10 second holds each side

This is a pretty spicy version of the Side Plank that also emphasizes in inner thigh of the top leg. If this drill is too difficult you can either, move the bench or chair higher up on your leg, leave the bottom leg on the ground rather than picking it up, or simply perform a side plank from your feet or knees for time instead.

Exercise 2 – Broom Stick Row x 12 reps

Taking and overhand grip, squeeze your hips up into a glute bridge. Squeeze your upper back and row the bar to mid chest.

Exercise 3 – Towel Hamstring Curl x 12 to 15 reps / leg


At Home Workouts For Quarantine

So you’re stuck at home with no equipment and the whole world feels heavy right now. Staying active is a key part to maintaining a routine, staying healthy, and sustaining our mental health during this challenging time.  Today we’re going to show you a workout you can do with a few household items and 30 minutes.

You will need:

1: A towel

2: A partner, couch, or bed frame.

Series A – Do 3-5 rounds.

Exercise 1:

Isometric Towel Lunge. x 20 seconds / leg

With a towel under your front foot, grasp the ends of the towel firmly. Drive Up against the towel as if you were lifting a weight, keeping your chest up and engaging your glutes and quads on the front most leg, while driving up through the toes of your back leg.

Exercise 2:

Pushups from toes, knees, or counter top x As Many Reps As Possible

With your hands under your shoulders and your hips tucked to keep a straight back, lower yourself until your chest touches the floor or counter top while keeping your elbows at a 45 degree angle from your torso. Press up until your arms are fully extended and repeat.

Exercise 3:

Single Leg Glute Bridge x As Many Reps As Possible per leg

With one leg extended up, drive down through the heel of your planted foot squeezing your glutes and hips towards the ceiling.

(If you cannot do single leg bridges, double leg bridges are excellent too!)












Series B – do 3-5 rounds:

Exercise 1:

Isometric Towel Row x 20 seconds

With a towel looped under one or both feet, squeeze your shoulder blades together like you’re pinching a pencil between them pulling against the towel.

Exercise 2:

Bird Dog x 10-15 reps/side

Start on all fours. Drive the opposite leg and hand out in a straight line, pressing straight through the heel and fingertips with your thumb facing up. Alternate sides to complete all reps.


Exercise 3:

Nordic Curl x 6-10 reps

For this exercise you will need something to hold your ankles. A partner to hold your ankles, a couch, or a bed frame with a cushion underneath it will work just fine too. I have done mine with a barbell so you can see clearly what is happening. With your chest up and your hands out, slowly lower yourself towards the ground using your hamstrings, press yourself back up, and repeat for reps.

Training With Purpose pt. 2

First things first, if you haven’t read Training With Purpose Part 1 – go do that here. 

If you have read it and if you’ve done your homework you should have a F.A.ST. goal already sorted out. If you made notes for your fast goal, go ahead and pull those up.

How do we translate this fast goal into action? We have to flesh out our ideas and create a solid plan.

Frequently Discussed:

  • Create an agreement with your trainer, a friend or family member, a therapist, etc.. that you will discuss your progress on a regular basis.


  • In action this looks like: “I will meet with my trainer 2x/week and we will discuss my current progress, the obstacles I encountered, and ways to overcome those obstacles in the coming week.”


  • Write down why this goal is so important to you and how you’re excited for it to push your limits.


  • In action this looks like: “I am driven to accomplish 3 pull-ups by the end of the semester because it will require me to be consistent in my training and eating habits and I know I will experience a sense of accomplishment when I achieve it.”


  • Write down the exact goal, and the ways in which you will measure your progress towards the achievement of this goal


  • In action this looks like: “I will achieve 3 full bodyweight pull-ups by the end of the semester. I will lift 3x per week. I will measure my ability to hold an isometric pullup 1x/week to chart how my time improves. I will also write down my sets and reps on band assisted pull-ups as well as the band I used each week so I can ensure I can either do more reps, more sets, or use a slightly lighter band over time.”


  • We are very good at deceiving ourselves! Being transparent with our process allows both us and other to see our behavior clearly.


  • In action this looks like: Reflecting on your performance and effort throughout the week and what you feel you’ve accomplished. We must be honest with ourselves if we skipped steps or didn’t do the work as planned so that we can continue to get better.


Now that we’ve fleshed our goal out fully, lets make the plan!

Based upon our 3 pull-ups by the end of the semester goal, and our agreement to train 3 times a week I planned my week accordingly:

Monday – Upper Body Lift

Wednesday – Lower Body Lift

Friday – Upper Body Lift

Next, I’m going to measure how many weeks I have to train:

(let’s pretend, for the article’s sake that we’re just starting spring semester)

So, we have 16 weeks to train! This means we have 4 x 4 week blocks to design our program around.

1st 4 weeks goal = general fitness gains, dialing in diet habits through food tracking, build a baseline of strength with bodyweight and machines.

2nd 4 weeks goal = begin to build muscular endurance in specific areas related to pull-up goal (12-15+ reps) for the lats, mid traps, biceps, and forearms. Spend time on movement skills related to the goal (lat pulldowns, assisted pull-ups, TRX rows), and continue to be diligent with nutrition and make adjustments as needed.

3rd 4 week goal = Move on to a hypertrophy rep range (8-12 reps ) in skill related movements, move away from machines and towards the desired movement (start doing more pullups with bands and less with the machine), continue to be diligent with nutrition and adjust as needed.

4th 4 week goal = Move on to pure strength rep ranges (3-6 reps) and practice the pull-up with as little assistance as possible.

Now it is your turn! Spend some time fleshing out your fast goal and creating a time based plan like the one above. If you have any questions along the way comment below and I’ll answer!

Next week we will look at a week by week plan for this goal and you’ll be able to download an example pull-up program designed by a rec services trainer!

10 Fitness Instagrams That Don’t Suck

#Fitspo, we love it AND we hate it, but most of us use it. Instagram is the wild wild west of fitness information and we are flooded day-in and day-out with images of people projecting a life of perfection. The fact is, no-one is perfect and no perfectly edited smoothie bowl or bikini photo shows the whole picture. Even worse, many of these artificially curated pages are sharing sub-par and even harmful information (such as mega-dosing vitamins to cure disease, or selling dangerous pro-hormones for muscle growth). Furthermore, these fitness pages can wreck havoc with the body image expectations we set for ourselves. “According to a social media report from Norwegian global influencer marketing platform inzpire.me, nearly half (47%) of surveyed influencers felt their job as an influencer had an impact on their mental health and 32% believes the platform gave them a “negative” impact on body image (Forbes, 2019)”

When it comes to actually training towards your goals, being healthy, and feeling good about yourself the content you consume matters!

Below are 10 instagram profiles that offer accessible, scientifically sound, and honest content to help you get your #fitspo on.

1). Meg Squats

Meg markets herself as a Strength & Fitness Coach “on a mission to get a barbell in every woman’s hands.”

Busting the myth that femininity and strength can’t go hand in hand, Meg is honest about body image issues many women face and about photos of her body that are unedited all while offering solid lifting tips.

Check this full body warmup out:

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👩🏻‍🦰 📆 Warm-up for the weekend 📆 👩🏻‍🦰 – Your warm up is an opportunity to prime your body to lift heavy stuff ⏩ work on weaknesses ⏩ improve mobility ⏩and get rid of stiffness or pain. – My program introduces a new warm up every week so my lifters can get a good idea of what makes them feel best and which exercises target their weaknesses. 📚Bookmark this one for your next workout. – 1️⃣ Empty Barbell Complex: I switched this one around to the beginning of my warm-up to get me moving through some movement patterns I’ll see during my session. No weight, just moving through some basic moves and raising my heart rate. – 2️⃣ Sun Salutation/Yoga Flow: DO YOU SEE THAT FORWARD FOLD THOUGH? I wish I would have taken before photos since starting a more consistent yoga practice. Work through some down dawg to up dawg transitions to get the kinks out. – 3️⃣ Blackburns: This is a shoulder saver and strengthener. Stay consistent with these if you have stiff shoulders. We work them in or something like it often. – 4️⃣ + 5️⃣ Lat Pullovers / Slow Bear Crawl: For our week is to wake up our lats and core before lifting heavy. You’ll have more control, better form, and bigger lifts by waking up the muscle groups that are commonly hard to activate. Try working these in before a deadlift or squat day and see how your body reacts to some pre-activation! – Did we miss one of your favorite warm-ups? Comment down below to let me know what you like to use in your warm-up! – SONG: Street Talk by Ghost Beatz #warmup #powerlifting #shoulderhealth #rehab #girlswhopowerlift – Sports bra: @nikewomen Shoes @nike Pants: @lululemon

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2) James Smith PT

James is a British Physical Therapist and Personal Trainer who tells it like it is. His content is rich with profanity and laughter at first glance, but on closer inspection is filled with thoughtful, honest, and straightforward training advice aimed at both men and women. You won’t find him selling products, diet culture, or next big thing – just back to basics, no nonsense health and wellness information in a funny package that’s a little bit skeptical about social media to begin with.

To quote the man himself, ” 99.999% of the world will have fat rolls when on the toilet or in the bath. ⁣Comparing your ‘behind the scenes’ to someone else’s photoshoot condition isn’t the best way to start your day, each and every day.”


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Just dishing out a few nugs of wisdom… 🤙🏼

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3) Max Schmarzo – Strong By Science

For the athletically oriented, Max offers science based information primarily related to becoming stronger, faster, and more explosive. With practical information on how to program workouts, jump higher, and train better – his insta is a mother-load of thought provoking content. Don’t believe me? Look at this!

4) Barbell Medicine

Run by a collective of MDs, Rehab Clinicians, and Strength Coaches, Barbell Medicine brings top notch content regarding injury recovery and prevention, weightlifting, and nutrition.

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Back pain, while unpleasant, is very common. • We discuss pain regularly here at Barbell Medicine, particularly back pain. They are complex topics that affect all humans and are especially relevant to populations engaged in resistance training. Today we have a brief excerpt from a talk that Dr. Austin Baraki (@austin_barbellmedicine) gave at Ft. Irwin near the sunny Mojave Dessert in California. Dr. Baraki was speaking to clinicians, so his presentation is geared towards them. However, it is still quite accessible and full of valuable information and insights. • In these two short clips, Dr. Baraki addresses how universal back pain is and compares its incidence to the common cold. Further, he mentions how low back pain resolves in the vast majority of cases in a matter of days or weeks. One of the first steps towards alleviating the symptoms of low back pain can be establishing self-efficacy. Once someone realizes that back pain is very normal and that its natural course is to resolve on its own over a reasonable period, that provides a foothold to establish some control over the situation. • Low back pain is not fun, but it does not mean that something is badly broken. Just about everyone will experience it at some point and it is likely to get better. The more someone experiencing low back pain can move and establish a feeling of control, even if it is uncomfortable, the more likely they are to see improvement in their symptoms. Caveats apply, of course, but those exceptions are somewhat rare. • Link to the full hour-long video on YouTube is in our bio. Check it out, along with the first part of the series at Ft. Irwin featuring Dr. Jordan Feigenbaum (@jordan_barbellmedicine ).

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5) Ben Bruno

Ben Bruno is a seriously strong personal trainer who made it big training folks in LA. Much like James Smith, he’s quite funny and has the education and experience to back up his training information. If you follow him you’re likely to pick up new exercise ideas and get a laugh out of it too.

Oh, yeah, you can also find him picking on Chelsea Handler….

6) EmpoweredByIron

Empowered By Iron is geared towards women and produces most of their content in podcast form (great to listen to when you train!). Common topics range from training and mental health, powerlifting, and managing training with one’s hormones.

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#repost @empoweredbyiron ・・・ Stories are powerful. @brenebrown says “when we deny the story, it defines us. When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending.” . We’ve known for a long time that many people use the iron to help them cope with and overcome challenges in life. Sometimes those challenges are minor stressors in life, and other times they come in the form of disturbances to mental health. . Today we sit down with four, amazing women (one of which is a mental health professional) who share their experiences with depression and how lifting has played a vital role in their mental health. @alex_miller03 @bratsy_cline @dawnstrength88 @sambelliveauu . Tune in over the next couple of months as we embark on a series of stories about how brave, strong women are living with and overcoming mental health challenges with help from heavy lifting. 📷: @aloragriffithsphotography . Lifting + Depression: A series on mental health – Episode 82 . Episode link in bio and wherever you find your podcasts (Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, Android apps, and YouTube). . We would LOVE to hear from you. Suggestions? Feedback? Stories? We want it all. Shoot us an email at EMPOWEREDBYIRON@GMAIL.COM and we might just share your story on our next episode. • • • Find us on Patreon: www.patreon.com/empoweredbyiron . Join our women’s only Facebook Group: https://m.facebook.com/groups/1517771568309781 . #empoweredbyiron #powerlifting #weightlifting #girlswhopowerlift #girlswhoweightlift #girlswhocrossfit #fierceAF #eat4strength #podcast #issn #sportsnutrition #evidencebasednutrition #womenwholift #womenwhopowerlift #togetherwerise #womenempowerment #depression #anxiety #PTSD #eatingdisorderrecovery #mentalhealthawareness

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7) Steph The Hammer

Steph is an adaptive athlete and Crossfit coach who lives with Cerebral Palsy. She owns and operates Hammer Driven Fitness Center, and provides an honest and important dialogue on embracing disability as a part of one’s fitness journey.

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Tonight on BaySide was electric! This workout was a tough finish, but I’m proud of the standard we set and couldn’t have asked for a more fun 20 mins. I’m not sure how I got so lucky, but my tribe here in @aimeeathome and @kellimyers20 whether they are screaming from the stands, helping me make multiple bathroom trips or just helping me calm my nerves I am so grateful. Ty, I’m not sure what I did to deserve you, but I’m very grateful. We had a few chair mishaps and he is making me feel so safe and empowered to finish strong. I love you with all that I am @originalpwrtool 💙 Ps: thanks @hinshaw363 for teaching me how to row, ski and run efficiently. I can definitely say I’m proud of the work I’ve done this weekend! Onto day 3 🔥 @allthingsadaptive @wodapalooza @wheelwod @niketraining

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8) Train With Joan

For older gym goers, Train With Joan is living proof that fitness and strength know no age. Over seventy years old, she didn’t discover training until later in life but you wouldn’t know it – she shares images of her journey as well as videos of her current training.

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3 years ago I began this long, slow journey and now I realize that there really isn’t any end to it. Each day I move in a direction based on my choices. Each month is a new milestone. Each year I seem to have changed so completely I think I can’t change any more and yet I do.💕💕 At this point, I truly realize that we are limitless. At any moment we can make a decision to change. No matter how difficult or challenging life is, we must remain steadfast in our aim and keep inching forward. When I got started I never imagined I’d be where I am today. I just wanted to get my health back and get off my medication. Each door we step through leads to another door and then another. I hope you all keep choosing to grow! To learn to love yourself, take the best care of yourself, and dare to dream and love with your whole heart again.🙏🙏 . Pink outfit by @womensbest . . #transformation #hope #justdoit.

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9) Kabuki Strength Lab

Founded by Chris Duffin, Kabuki Strength Lab is located in Oregon. One of the strongest guys of all time, Chris combines his experience as an athlete and his engineering background to bring elite training information and equipment to the rest of us. If you’re training towards some “Grand Goals” and want to become “Anti-Fragile” both mentally and physically, Kabuki is the place for you.

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In possibly one of the darkest episodes of Strength Chat to date, we’re excited to have back our very first host from our first episode ever all the way back in 2016. Whereas our previous conversation focused on entrepreneurship and the fitness industry, today’s show features a conversation on a topic rarely touched: male mental health. Jeff Halevy @jeff.halevy is a long-time friend of Kabuki, a former Today Show corespondent, host of internationally syndicated Workout from Within, and Inc 5000 winning entrepreneur for his many successful ventures in the fitness industry. But he hasn’t always been these things. Known to many as an extremely dynamic, bright, and passionate voice in fitness – Jeff has only recently opened up to share his story of survival from depression, near-suicide, and chaos that almost landed him in prison for 25 years. In this extremely insightful and honest episode, Jeff and our hosts unpack what it means to “be a man” in the social age, fallacies and traps men fall into, and the desperate need for transparency and acceptable for those seeking help. This is an important episode for all of us to listen to. Thanks for sharing your story Jeff. ••••• Hosted by the Mad Scientist of Strength, Dr. Rudolph, and The Wizard of Training. @mad_scientist_duffin @rudykadlub @brandon_senn ••••• Available on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, Google Play, and Stitcher. Links in story. Make sure to subscribe!

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10) Dr. Stefi Cohen

Dr. Stefi Cohen is Venezuelan, holds 25 world records as a strength athlete, and stands at a small but mighty 5 feet tall. One of the strongest women in the world lb for lb, she is also incredibly educated and provides excellent advice for both men and women who want to become their strongest selves.

If you have any training questions you’d like answered post them below or you can shoot yours truly a DM @unbreakable_strength_co._

Stay Strong, Friends!





Training with Purpose Part 1

Training, exercise, working out – whatever you call it, it’s all hard work. What are you working for? Perhaps you’ve made a new years resolution, started a challenge with a friend, or simply want to stay healthy – no matter what the situation as, you most likely started your gym habit for a purpose. Today, we’re going to delve into the idea of creating purposeful and goal oriented workouts and how these things can help us not only achieve our goals, but how they can keep training fun too,

First off, grab a pen and paper and jot down your responses to the questions below. Now, think back to why you started training (or if you haven’t started, spend some time considering a reason you might start).

What was/is your goal?

Did you achieve your goal? Why/why not? OR Why do you have the goal that you do?

If you’ve already achieved it, what is keeping you going now?

If you’ve yet to achieve it, what are the steps you need to take to get yourself there?

Considering all the aspects of our purpose and writing them down can be a great way to commit fully and set ourselves up for success.

Now that we have our purpose – let’s make it actionable!

F.A.S.T. Goals

Fast goals are:

Frequently discussed

  • with a coach, friend, mentor, etc


  • they should be achievable, but they should push you too!


  • for example, you want to do 5 pull-ups, not “just get better”


  • keeping your progress and your struggles visible to yourself, to your coach, or even with a group of like minded folks can help keep you from getting stuck or from tricking yourself out of working towards your goal.

Now, it’s your turn! What is your FAST goal?

Check in next Wednesday for Part 2 where we will talk about strategies to achieve your FAST goal!

Cat Fit! Getting Stronger, Together!

Do you love an athletic challenge? Cat-fit, and it’s more rigorous relative Cat-Fit Extreme are here to challenge you physically, coach you on a diverse range of training movements, and bring you into a community of fun folks who love to train!

Catfit and Catfit Ex offer group training revolving around strength and conditioning style programming meaning Fit Cats can expect to participate in weightlifting as well as
high intensity conditioning activities such as sled pushing, kettlebell training, and calisthenics.


Some words from participants on what they love about Cat Fit:

“Going to Cat Fit was one of the best decisions I have made throughout my time at K-State. Not only have I grown both physically and mentally, but I have met some amazing people who continue to push me every day. Everyone in the room is there to grow themselves and help others reach their goals, and I could not be more grateful for all I have learned about myself, exercising, and how to be the best version of myself from Cat Fit!” – Julia

“Catfit was a great way for me to gain confidence and skills for working out outside of machines. The coaches are great. Very talented. I liked the camaraderie. We all grew stronger together. I’d recommend it to anyone.” – Andrey

“Catfit is an awesome community of young adults that are excited about exploring different assets of working out. Everyone is very supportive of one another because we are all there to try and better ourselves. It’s very exciting when you see someone achieving a lift or exercise that they use to struggle with before or adding a heavier weight. I not only feel that catfit has provided me with great skills to be able to put together a challenging workout but catfit most importantly has been great for my mental health. It’s a time where I get to put all my stresses of the week to the side and get my body up and moving. Catfit has been a great constant for me through college and I would definitely recommend it to anyone of any exercise experience!” – Bailey

Interested in becoming stronger, making new friends, and gaining mastery in the gym? Sign up here: 

You can sign up for the second session of Cat Fit by swinging into the rec services office. The office is open Mondays 8-7, Tuesday – Thursday 8-6, Fridays 8-5, and Saturday 9-12.

The second session will meet Tu/Th 7-8pm and begins March 24th and ends April 30th.

Pursuit for Peace

It’s no secret that stretching is beneficial to our bodies but how is yoga any different? According to the Webster dictionary, yoga is a Hindu philosophy that teaches breathing techniques, meditation, and posture. (1) Yoga has been a trending practice within the past decade and more people are catching on to the benefits that it provides.

One obvious benefit of yoga is increased flexibility. The Yoga Journal explains that many back and hip problems are directly associated with people’s lack of flexibility. As you practice more these aches should eventually subside or go away. (2) You won’t be able to do the splits overnight, but in time you might realize you can finally touch your toes.

If you sit at a desk all day you know that bad posture results in back, neck, and even leg pain. Yoga may not look like a strenuous exercise but it works all major muscle groups in your body. Typically slouching is a result of bad habits in combination with weak core and back muscles. Many positions in yoga focus on core strength and balance which aids with this.

Aside from the physical benefits, many people are starting to realize the mental benefits it provides. According to the American Osteopathic Association, regular practice helps with managing stress, centers attention, and sharpens concentration. (3) These mental benefits are why so many people are looking to yoga to help with getting a better night’s sleep, performing well in school, and managing depression and anxiety.

If you are a beginner or nervous about your first class, don’t be! In many classes, instructors will provide alterations for beginners.

Rec Services offers several different Yoga classes. Check out our complete schedule for class descriptions and times. We hope to see you at an upcoming class! J

– Megan Heng



(1) https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yoga

(2) https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/count-yoga-38-ways-yoga-keeps-fit

(3) https://osteopathic.org/what-is-osteopathic-medicine/benefits-of-yoga/

Creatine: What The Research Says

What IS Creatine?

Creatine is an essential molecule that helps provide cellular energy in the body.  More specifically, Creatine Phosphate can be used to replenish the phosphate group on ATP (the energy coin of the cell) after stores have been depleted through physical activity. The creatine phosphate energy pathway is anaerobic meaning it  generates energy without oxygen which makes it readily available to us even if we haven’t increased our ventilation rate yet. Because of this, our phosphocreatine energy pathway is used for short bursts of high energy activity such as olympic weightlifting, short sprints, explosive jumps, etc. Unfortunately, our body doesn’t retain large stores of creatine in its system which is one of the reasons why, for example, we struggle to retain top sprint speeds if we are doing repeated efforts with minimal rest.  In the sporting world, supplementation is thought to increase the ability to regenerate energy in the CP system thus improving physical performance [1,2,3,4].


How it works

When ATP (adenosine TRI phosphate) is used in the body it is reduced to ADP (adenosine DI phosphate) meaning it loses one of its phosphates. In the body, creatine and phosphate form reversible bonds and with help from the creatine kinase enzyme these reversible bonds allow ATP, the energy coin of the cell, to be regenerated; this happens because creatinephosphate is used to donate a third phosphate back to ADP in order to regenerate the ATP that can be used for energy.

Research and Performance Improvements

Creatine Monohydrate, one of the most common forms of supplemental creatine, is an exogenous (produced outside the body)  material formulated to be similar to the endogenous (produced inside the body) creatine that is manufactured by our liver, kidneys, and pancreas. In addition to supplements,  creatine can be found in shellfish and other forms of meat. Because food sourced creatine is acquired by eating meat, vegetarians are shown to have lower resting blood creatine levels than meat eaters [1].

Current research indicates that creatine monohydrate supplementation is effective for improving physical performance at high intensity activities which may be responsible for trainee’s increases in muscle mass and strength [1,4]. In some studies, creatine is even shown to improve neurological recovery and performance [4]. While the average daily supplemental does is 3-5g/day, studies have shown that up to 30g/day for 5 years is safe [3,4]. While this example of 30g/day for 5 years would most likely be costly and over the top for most trainees, it showcases that the supplement is widely researched and that even in extreme cases professional researchers have found it to be safe [2, 3, 4].

The International Society of Sports Nutrition, the American Dietetic Association, and the American College of Sports Medicine all agree that creatine supplementation is safe and the “most effective ergogenic nutritional supplement currently available to athletes in terms of increasing high intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training.” Furthermore, according to Kreider RB et al., “no study has reported any adverse or ergolytic effect of short- or long-term creatine supplementation while numerous studies have reported performance and/or health benefits in athletes and individuals with various diseases [4]”

If you so choose, you can purchase creatine monohydrate online and in many sports nutrition stores. Personally, I purchase my creatine in bulk online because it is the most cost effective option considering it is something I take every day. The bulk options are generally unflavored, but I add in flavor drops which are very affordable. Furthermore, I use a scale to measure a dose by weight in grams.

Questions, comments, etc?  Drop a comment below!


This article does not take the place of advice by a qualified health professional. What’s appropriate for one individual may be counterproductive or unsafe for another. If you are suspicious of an illness, injury and/or are in constant pain the author encourages you to see a doctor, dietician, and/or a therapist to get a proper diagnosis and rule out illness. Illness, pain, and injuries are complicated topics that have a variety of causes and presentations. You should see your doctor before beginning any exercise program. The author is not qualified to prescribe treatments, food, supplementation, or medication. The author is not qualified to  diagnose, or assess medical symptoms or conditions. This article and any information contained there-in is for informational/educational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for medical advice. Please talk to your doctor and medical care providers before starting any supplement or dietary regime and before starting any exercise or fitness program. Kansas State University and Anneliese Spence are not liable for any injuries or illness incurred due to exercise training or supplementation. 



  1. Burke DG, Candow DG, Chilibeck PD, MacNeil LG, Roy BD, Tarnopolsky MA, Ziegenfuss T. Effect of creatine supplementation and resistance-exercise training on muscle insulin-like growth factor in young adults. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2008;18:389–398. [PubMed[
  2.  Cooper, R., Naclerio, F., Allgrove, J., & Jimenez, A. (2012). Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition9(1), 33. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-33
  3. Kreider, R. B., Kalman, D. S., Antonio, J., Ziegenfuss, T. N., Wildman, R., Collins, R., … Lopez, H. L. (2017). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition14, 18. doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z
  4. Kreider RB, et al. Long-term creatine supplementation does not significantly affect clinical markers of health in athletes. Mol Cell Biochem. 2003;244(1–2):95–104. doi: 10.1023/A:1022469320296. [PubMed] [CrossRef[]

Mythbusters: Fitness Edition!

Myth # 1: Cardio prevents muscle gain – don’t do it!

This claim is FALSE!

Well…mostly, a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning by Wilson et al. titled Concurrent training: a meta-analysis examining interference of aerobic and resistance exercises determined that strength and muscle gain interference from endurance training is depends on the frequency, duration, and kind of training being done. This study determined that concurrent strength and running training reduced strength and size gains moderately, but that bodyfat % reductions we’re greatest in individuals who did both endurance and strength training in the same program.


Myth # 2: Lifting weights will make women big and bulky.


Lifting weights will not cause your quads to hulk style shred those super cute fabletics tights you just ordered, in fact the “toning up” that most gals are after will happen faster and more efficiently with diligent weightlifting pursuits than it will from spending hours on a treadmill. Women’s muscle is just as powerful as men’s unit for unit, but because of lower testosterone levels women do not pack on lean mass at the same rate as men which means that, unless you’re looking to become a pro-bodybuilder or a professional strongwoman, you’re not going to put on significant size (Faigenbaum, 2008)

Unfortunately, many women aren’t introduced to lifting through sport during high-school the way many men are, lack of experience and education early on can make the weight room intimidating; If you’re curious to learn how to lift – visit our personal training page or swing by the office to apply for a trainer to get you comfortable in the weight room!

Myth # 3: “I’m too old to start exercising”



Exercise benefits EVERYONE in fact, a new study from Penn State University found that older adults who participated in strength training 2x a week significantly reduced their all cause mortality by 46%, cardiac death risk by 41%, and cancer death risk by 19%.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends older adults (65 and up) accumulate 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity a week and strength 2 or more times per week. You can visit health.gov here to learn more. 

Myth # 4: Strength training is dangerous!


Strength training is very safe, in fact resistance training improves muscle and tendon strength and size as well as bone density. Training unilaterally (one sided movements, lunges, single arm presses, rows) to correct imbalances can reduce injury risk even further (Faibenbaum 2009).


So ya wanna be Stronger, Faster, AND more Powerful? Pt. 2


To rehash some essentials from pt 1:

Strength: The ability to generate maximum external force on an object

Speed: Velocity of body motion

Power: Force produced x velocity of the movement

(power can also be defined as the rate of performing work)

Peak Power =  happens at around 1/3 maximum velocity

(The peak power of a muscle fiber typically occurs around 15% to 30% of that muscle fiber’s maximal force capacity. )

Power is important because its expression is essential to success in many sports: throwing, punching, jumping, sprinting, changing directions, etc all require power output, and typically the more you’re able to produce the better you’ll perform.

An athlete’s Rate of Force Development is a way to refer to their capacity for producing power.

Training adaptation is specific to the stress imposed on the athlete. This is the SAID principle, Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. So if we want a powerful punch or a powerful jump we will need to train the body-part(s), skills, and movement specifically. We need to train the energy systems, tissues (strength, endurance, and volume tolerance), and nervous system at the proper dosages to elicit power gains.

Training To Improve Power

Now that we’ve reviewed our definitions and refreshed our memory regarding physiology, stress, and adaptation we can dive right in on how to train to improve power output.

Training to improve power requires that we bring into consideration the training experience and performance level of the client (or ourselves for that matter). For example, if I’m training middle school basketball players I likely will not need to use the volume and intensity that I need to use with more developed college aged athletes. The less trained an individual is, the easier it is to make gains with simple exercises performed well and with sufficient frequency.

For the purposes of this article we’re going to aim right down the center on training experience. If you’re brand new to training, improving your power can likely be done with simple exercises, if you’re very experienced this article may also fall outside of your needs as you may need a more complex program to gain power.

First Things First

In order to know if our training is effective we must first establish a baseline. Professional strength coaches have many ($$$ costly!) ways of measuring and assessing the power, force, and velocity profiles of individual athletes but mean power, peak power, velocity of a movement, and force of a movement are some of the most commonly measured variables.

Because most trainees don’t have access to an elite training facility and the equipment to measure these variables, they can establish base line numbers from indirect tests and some simple math. The vertical jump alone does not render us a number that directly represents power so we can utilize the Sayers Power Equation to calculate power output in watts.This way if our body mass changes over the program we can still understand power gains or losses – provided the way we measure vertical jump height is consistent.

PAPw(Watts) = 60.7 x jump height (cm) + 45.3 x Body Mass (kg) – 2055

(keep in mind the equation uses the metric system – google will convert numbers for you! )

For our upper body we can easily indirectly measure power with a medicine ball chest pass by measuring distance. Keep in mind, the mass of the ball and our body position must be consistent across test and retest for this to be accurate.

Developing a plan of attack

Going back to the first article, we touched on a few necessary components to power which were as follows; muscle size, neuromuscular capacity for power and max strength, and the SAID (specific adaptation to imposed demands) principle. When we train we need to keep these three things in mind when we organize our training cycle.

If you’re a strength or single event athlete prepping for a competition your training will look different than if you’re an athlete with a pre/on/post/off season organization. Regardless, we want to train so that we are able to express our power at the time of the year we most need it for our sport. (If you’re a general fitness enthusiast, I would encourage you to set goals and train specifically for them even if you aren’t interested in competition as it provides structure and direction.)

The nitty gritty details regarding organization of sports training are outside the scope of this article but to give us a loose context, training can be organized into the following structure:


  • generally your entire training year, this focuses on improving performance for the peaking before a major event, or getting a broad overview of your sport season. Because a year is so long there are typically adjustments along the way, but understanding what skills you need to train when, how well you might be prepared to recover, and how much competitive work you’ll be doing is important.


  • This is usually a several week chunk of time, one example might be a 4 week training phase focusing on peaking for a powerlifting competetion. There are many mesocycles in a macrocycle.



  • Most training plans keep the microcycle within the confines of a 7 day week, this encompasses the workouts for the week.

There are many kinds of programming, most utilize periodization of exercises in either a linear (increasing intensity/ & reducing volume), block (one skill at a time rotating in sequence), undulating (varying volume/intensity in waves over time), conjugate (concurrent training of multiple skills at once), or combination of the methods above format.

For now, we are going to simply focus on building one mesocycle with 4 x 1 week microcycles that prioritizes power but still maintains our strength and some of our capacity for volume (concurrent training).

The Exercises

  • Primary Power Exercises:

These exercises typically require a higher skill level and are rather fatiguing. We usually place them at the beginning of a session after our soft tissue and dynamic warmups. These exercises impact the nervous system significantly and cover the neuromuscular power component of our three priorities.

  • Olympic lifts such as the clean, snatch, jerk and their variations
  • Very explosive KB swings
  • Jumps and loaded jumps
  • Ballistic movements such as those done explosively with bands or chain
  • Medicine ball throws

Typically we keep the rep range relatively low (1-5) for power exercises as it is important to maintain the coordination and speed of the movements. Excessive fatigue from high reps limits how much power gain we can achieve. This is why very high rep olympic lifts and very high rep jumps make little sense as we may be detraining our capacity for power in the name of conditioning. There are many better ways to build conditioning that don’t limit our power on big movements!

Total sets are typically slightly higher when reps are very low with 4×5, 6×3, and 8×2 all being popular set/rep schemes.

Our intensity will also be relatively low likely starting out around 30% of maximum force capacity. For example, 30lbs for speed squats if our max squat is 100lbs.

Strength Exercises:

These exercises are programmed to maintain the strength and muscle mass to generate power throughout the program. They are typically done as a secondary primary exercise after our primary power exercise. These exercises cover both the neuromuscular strength component and to a slightly lesser degree the size component.

  • Front squats
  • Back squats
  • Bench, flat, incline, etc
  • Barbell rows
  • etc….

Rep ranges here will still be relatively low similar to our power exercises (3-6 reps), however our total sets will most likely start at 3 sets and our beginning intensity will start around 70%.

Accessory/Volume Exercises

These are the exercises we use to maintain core strength, local muscular endurance and overall capacity for volume. Think lighter barbell movements, dumbbells, bodyweight, etc with lighter loads and higher reps for moderate sets. 2-4 exercises should be sufficient and exercise selection will generally be based on supporting the main lifts and bringing up any individual weaknesses. These focus in part on the size component, keep up some lower intensity volume, let us keep certain body parts healthy/balanced (think postural exercises, bird dogs, band pull-aparts, etc), and let us bring weak parts up.

This part could be as simple as a leg day being followed by a tri-set of walking lunges, side planks, and hip thrusters, a kettlebell complex, or a bodyweight exercise circuit finisher.

Putting it all together (finally!)

Let’s imagine for a moment that Suzie has just graduated college, she was a competitive NCAA soccer athlete for her entire time in school, and now that she’s in the big kid world of full time jobs, loan payments, and being on her own insurance she doesn’t have much time to train. She figures that she can really only train 3 days a week for about an hour at a time. Her old vertical jump height was about 16 inches which, according the the NSCA’s is about average for a college female soccer player. Currently she weighs 130lbs.

Her jump in cm = 40.64 cm

her mass in kg = 58.97

Her peak anaerobic power output =

PAPw(Watts) = (60.7 x 40.64) + (45.3 x 58.97) – 2055

= 3,083.19 Watts

With 3 days a week to train Suzie can organize her training as follows:

Day 1: Highest intensity day of the week, moderate volume

Day 2: Lowest intensity day of the week, moderate volume

Day 3: Mid-High intensity, moderate volume

Finally, she comes up with the program below:

After 8 weeks of following her program, Suzie retests her vertical jump!

She jumps 17 inches after the program and has gained some lean mass over the course of it too. Now she weighs 134 lbs instead of 130.

Her new height in cm = 43.18

Her new weight in kg = 60.78

PAPw(Watts) = (60.7 x 43.18) + (45.3 x 60.78) – 2055

Her new peak power output is:

3319.36 Watts

Her gain = (3319.36 Watts – 3,083.19 Watts) = 236.17 Watts!

Program? = SUCCESS!


Bondarchuk, A. P.,
& Yessis, M. (2007). Transfer of training in sports. Michigan:
Ultimate Athlete Concepts.

Boyle, M.
(2016). New functional training for sports. Champaign, IL: Human

Hoffman, J. R.
(2012). NSCAs guide to program design. Champaign, IL: Human

NSCA -National
Strength & Conditioning Association. (2017). Developing Power.
Human Kinetics Publishers.

Parker, J., Miller,
A., Panariello, R., & Hall, J. (2018). The system: Soviet
Periodization adapted for the American strength coach
. Aptos, CA: On Target

Zatsiorsky, V. M.,
& Kraemer, W. J. (2006). Science and Practice of Strength Training.
Champaign, ILL.: Human Kinetics.

So Ya Wanna Be Stronger, Faster, and More Powerful?? Pt 1

First things first

For starters, let’s lay down a few definitions. Within the context of sport science, speed, power, and strength are defined slightly different. Furthermore, for the sake of this article we will discuss iso-kinetic movements, where our joint angles change (a sprint, a bicep curl, etc). We will not be discussing iso-metric exercises where no joint positions change (a plank, a wall sit, etc).

Strength: The ability to generate maximum external force on an object

Speed: Velocity of body motion

Power: Force produced x velocity of the movement

Internal Force: Force produced by one part of the body on another part, this is not considered in the definition of strength.

External Force: Forced produced by the body on an external object

Resistance: External load, drag (such as water in rowing), inertia, friction, gravity, etc

Force Velocity Curve

According to the force velocity curve, it is not possible to exert maximum force and maximum velocity simultaneously. For example, our maximum force is exerted in a 1 rep max deadlift, but the velocity of the lift is relatively slow. On the other hand, we can do an extremely fast snatch or clean with an empty bar though we aren’t creating much force due to the light load. If we want to be stronger and faster simultaneously, we have to shift the force-velocity curve to the right. This means that our maximum force capacity would have to happen at a higher velocity (curve shifts right).

Because peak power happens at around 1/3 maximum velocity, and because power = force * velocity, a right shifted curve allows peak power to increase which means we can tackle harder, jump higher, and lift more faster.

The phenomenon of producing more force more quickly is referred to as Rate of Force Development. Improving RFD is a critical component to living up the the daft punk song. The unfortunate thing here is that the skills of being very fast and very strong are reasonably specific; meaning that powerlifters produce tons of force but they’re not necessarily very fast and that sprinters are very fast but they aren’t going to compete with powerlifters for max strength. Thus, training to improve power (the combo of force and speed) requires that we train both skills in an organized manner as part of our training program otherwise we might wind up super strong but not very fast or pretty fast but only a little bit stronger.

The Physiology of Being a Powerhouse

1) In order to contract, our muscles form cross bridges within a specialized cell called a sarcomere. Contraction happens at a tiny level that accumulates to a big effect because one muscle is made of many many sarcomeres. Though contraction happens pretty quickly, it still takes time.

2) Sliding filaments in the muscle overlap slightly and bond to each other when they receive a nerve impulse, this starts a chemical cascade in the cells. As bonds form between myosin and actin (the thick and thin filaments respectively), they pull the filaments into each-other in a dense overlapping pattern. The more cross bridges that form in the muscle cell, the more force the muscle can produce. You see, each myosin filament has little “heads” that grab onto the actin, after they grab on they produce a cocking action that yanks the actin into the center with force. The more heads that latch on the more force produced and the stronger the contraction.

3) Because high velocity movements happen so fast, less cross bridges form when compared to the quantity that are allowed to form with longer duration high force demanding movements.

4) There are fast twitch fibers (IIX and IIB) and slow twitch fibers (IIA). Fast twitch favor explosive force and strength production but they fatigue relatively quickly, while slow twitch fibers favor endurance and fatigue more slowly. This has to do with differentiation in metabolism and energy use in the cell as well as the motor unit innervating the fibers. Our brain senses what we are trying to accomplish and recruits the fiber types for the job. With only a few exceptions, we recruit type I first and if the task is challenging enough our body recruits more fibers to do the work. This is called Henneman’s Size Principle.

5) The capacity to create force with muscle tissue depends in part on the cross sectional area, i.e. if your bicep is as big as your head it is most likely capable of producing more force than if you’re flexing a string bean. Furthermore, type IIX and IIB muscle tissues tend to have larger cross sectional areas than IIA. Thus, strongmen are bigger around than marathon runners.

6) We tend to improve at movements patterns we train but improving one doesn’t necessarily improve another. Meaning that even if I get really strong at leg press I may not improve my squat or my jump very much even though they look similar.

This is a loose analogy, but picture velcro; if you slide two fuzz and hook layers of velcro on eachother and get them to attach, the attachment will be stronger if more hooks grab the loops than if less hooks grab loops. Muscles are similar, but rather than being pressed onto eachother like velcro, they bond and pull to create a sliding action to create the contraction.

How do we use strength and speed to improve power?

Now that we know the underlying machinery and now that we understand the relationship between force and velocity, we have to understand how that cellular machinery relates to the curve.

When we train we are creating stress to drive adaptation in the body, this stress happens at many levels (neurologic, metabolic, etc). Furthermore, this stress is specific and the adaptation is specific in response. This is called the SAID principle, or specific adaptations to imposed demands.

Because peak power happens at around 1/3 maximum velocity, we are going to focus on strength training as our primary way to improve power and speed work as our secondary way to improve power. Why? Well…

When we train for force production we improve hypertrophy (growth) of the muscle tissue meaning we improve our cross sectional area and our capacity for force production and thus power (remember power = force * velocity). If we are training with heavy weights, a lot of this growth happens in IIX and IIB fibers (the fast ones!), but some occurs in IIA too. This growth is caused by many hormonal, metabolic, enzymatic, etc adaptations but we won’t go into those for now. All we need to know is getting bigger can help us create force and give us more tissue that is capable of moving fast, and once we have that tissue we can train it to move even more quickly in order to improve overall power. Research indicates that speed work alone doesn’t generate as much hypertrophy as we need, but that when used with strength based work it can certainly up our gains so we need to train both.

In part 2 of “So ya wanna be stronger, faster, and move powerful?” we will learn about how to select exercises and plan training in order to maximize power gains.

Flexin’ On Your Brain

Today starts the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week here at K-State!

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Week, let’s explore the benefits that exercise and physical activity have on mental health!



According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 20% of Adults in the United States live with mental illness – thats 46.6 million people! In other words, if you live with mental illness or struggle with your mental wellbeing, you are not alone! If we’re looking at the average college aged individual who falls between 18 and 25 years old that number jumps to 25.8% of individuals living with mental illness.

According to the article Exercise for Mental Health by Sharma et al., “Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function.”

Exercise can help us:

  • Reduce feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Help us cope with stress better
  • Increase our energy levels, mood, self esteem, and self confidence
  • Improve our cognitive function, well being, and quality of sleep

If you’ve just started exercising, are new to the campus, or simply new to the rec center there are heaps of options for you to begin your journey with physical activity:

  1. You can check out our fall group fitness schedule by clicking here
  2. The second session of Cat Fit, a fun cross training class that involves weightlifting, HIIT, and strength and conditioning begins on October 21st! To sign up, you can register at the rec services office.
  3. The Rec is offering FREE (you read that right) intro to lifting courses on the 27th of October and the 17th of November and you can register by following this link .
  4. Looking for one on one or individualized instruction with a buddy? Check our our personal training services here.
  5. Intramural sports are an excellent way to build community and get active on a regular basis and learn something new – check ’em out here! 

In addition to the rec center, there’s lots of awesome events being put on around campus this week through PAWS (Peer Advocates for Mental Wellness and Success).

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental wellness on campus, visit the K-State Counseling Services located in Lafene Health Center.

From the Counseling Services Website:

If you are in immediate crisis and one of the following applies to you:

  • You feel you are in immediate danger of harming yourself
  • You feel you are in immediate danger of harming someone else
  • 911 and ask for help
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
  • The Trevor Lifeline (Suicide Prevention for LGBTQ Youth) 866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386)

Text a national crisis text line:

  • START to 741-741
  • STEVE to 741741 (Crisis support for young people of color)

Go to the local Emergency Room (In Manhattan, KS, Ascension Via Christi Hospital is located at 1823 College Avenue).


On and off campus resources

Off-campus in Manhattan, KS


Sexual Assault Resources
National Sexual Assault Hotline
; 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673)

Helping a friend who has been sexually assaulted

What are you rooting for?

What are you rooting for?

So…maybe you’re rooting for yourself to get that next big squat or deadlift – BUT are you literally rooting yourself? All dad jokes aside, rooting the foot is a critical component to setting ourselves up for success in the gym.

Why rooting?

Websters defines rooting as “to establish deeply and firmly”

Our feet are the only body part physically in contact with the floor, and thus the only contact point we have to use in order transfer force from our musculature through to the ground. We need to establish our foot placement firmly in order to lift, so we root our foot to the ground!

In the theory of dynamic neuromuscular stabilization, the body only functions optimally when placed in positions where we are fully aligned and stable. Proper alignment permits our neuromuscular systems to stabilize the whole system which in turn allows us to produce more force and more coordinated movement. If our base isn’t in a good position, the stability of our whole system is compromised which means we lose more squats to falling forwards, more deadlifts to falling back, and our lunges and swings are harder to control.

By placing our feet in a stable and rooted position we help generate stability from the ground up. From this rooted position we are better able to maintain pelvic and spinal stability, proper breathing, and proper bracing – thus we are better able to produce force in training or sport.

Check out the video below for a rundown on how to execute this essential skill:

How to root

Warming Up for Greater Gains

Five minutes on the treadmill, some deep lunges, toss some plates on the bar and squat away…sound familiar?

If this sounds like your usual warm-up, we’ve got some work to do!

When training, I like to break the warm up into a few priorities that need addressing, on paper these look split into three distinct phases, in practice each phase bleeds into the next.

1)Temperature and Metabolism

Starting every workout with a general roll out and movements such as simple dynamic stretches that elevate heart rate and body temperature helps metabolic processes function optimally for the rest of the session. For example; a light row, knee hugs, walking quad stretches, and body weight walking lunges would all be sufficient to raise body temp and heart rate while taking tissues through light ROM.


2) Tissue and Movement Range of Motion

The goal of this phase is to progress into more ROM with basic dynamic stretches while adding in slightly more demanding warm up drills. This phase will prepare the specific tissues needed for the session for the ranges of motion and positions that will be demanded of the movements during the workout. For example, toy soldiers, shin boxes, lateral banded walks, and deep side lunges would all be appropriate to warm the hips up for a squatting session. Of course, the specific movements chosen should be chosen to address individual needs, the above 3 are not mandatory or suggested for everyone prior to squatting.

3) Neurological Arousal

Lastly, explosive activation drills should be utilized. Med ball slams and throws, hops, jumps, etc as well are all appropriately placed early in the session to warm up the nervous system for larger lifts as well as allowing any plyometric work to be done without fatigue. i.e do your box jumps first at an appropriate dose, doing 100 jumps in the middle of a workout after heavy squats is a recipe for precipitating injury later on.

Another way to think about the above traits is the RAMP method:



Raise refers to raising key elements, such as body temperature as discussed above, heart rate, respiration, blood flow, and joint viscosity


Activate and Mobilize

In this phase we activate the muscle groups we are going to be training in a more specific way in addition to mobilizing specific joints and movement patterns.


Potentiation for performance

Again, plyometric drills, sprint starts, or movement drills mimicking an athlete’s sport are all appropriately placed here.


First things first, get warm!

Our muscular system is a complex and nuanced chemical system that functions optimally at warmer temperatures. Think of it this way, you’re a baker that needs to make a yeast bread; at first, the little dormant yeasts are cold from the fridge, putting them in a sugar water base cold and adding that to your dough won’t make it rise. First, you must heat the water to the optimal temperature for yeast (too cold and it won’t activate, too hot and it dies), then “feed” it the sugar water mix so that it will begin metabolizing the sugar, it is the yeast’s metabolic processes that eventually will leaven the bread.

Much like the little yeasts that make our bread rise, our muscles need to be at an optimal temperature for metabolic processes to occur. Too cold and we don’t function well, too hot (think high humidity and hot weather induced hot) and we decline in our performance ability.

To quote the text Biochemistry for Sport and Exercise Metabolism, “rates of reaction show a linear increase up until about approximately 50*C…such sensitivity to temperature underpins our need to actively warm-up prior to exercise, so as to increase muscle temperature and increase enzyme activity in our muscles.Indeed, muscle temperature can rise from 35*C at rest to 41*C during intense exercise (Morton et al.,2006). To put this into a sporting performance context, a professional soccer player typically cover less distance in the first five-minute period of the second half period, compared with the last five min of the first half, and this has been suggested to be due to a fall in muscle temperature to near resting values during the half-time period (Mohr et al., 2004). In such instances, the same researches also observed that performing light exercise during half-time to keep muscle temperature (and enzymes active) high can offset such performance decrements”

So now we know that we need to elevate body temperature prior to training for optimal performance. We also know that if we are participating in long bouts of exercise with larger breaks in between such as half time at a ball game, gaps between lifts and lifters at a powerlifting meet, or rests between events at a cross fit competition that we need to do something in between to keep our temperature up that isn’t excessively fatiguing.


Movin’ and Grovin’

As discussed above, we need to get more specific and take care of our tissues while exploring new ranges of motion. Pressing overhead? Get overhead! Do some T-spine mobilizations and wall slides. Squatting? Take your hips through the range of motion they will need under load, maybe you’ll notice your left glute is kind of tight and note that you should tackle it with a tennis ball before getting under heavier loads. This is an opportunity to explore your body and check in with what needs some extra TLC before you jump into the main part of your session.

Jump Around!

Before fatigue sets in from the lifting session I like to take participants through explosive drills and skill practice. These help potentiate the nervous system’s ability to send signals to the tissue during lifting while also improving general athleticism and rate of force development.

So what makes a great warm up?

Get your HR going, get some dynamic movements in, make it specific to your training, and get explosive! Got it? GOOD – GO TRAIN!


Gabriel, D. D. (2006). Neural adaptations to resistive exercise: mechanisms and recommendations for training practices. Sports Medicine, 133-149.

MacLauren, D and Morton, J. (2012). Biochemistry for Sport and Exercise Metabolism. Wiley-Blackwell

Shield, D. A. (2004). Assessing voluntray muscle activation with the twitch interpolation technique . Sports Medicine, 253-267.

Sleeping for greater gains

We all know sleep is important…but how well do we prioritize it?

As college students, lots of things fight for our attention; homework, exercise, new friends, jobs, and the ever so tempting late night out in Aggieville all cry “pick me! pick me!” All of these to-do’s can pile up, and for most of us the first thing to suffer is sleep. Both the quality and quantity of our sleep can be affected by these new stressors, the excitement of the school year, and the anxiety over performing well in the new school year. Unfortunately, even small amounts of sleep deprivation can take a massive toll on our physical and mental health and our gains in the gym.

An article by the National Sleep Foundation states “Sleep deprivation has also been seen to decrease production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy use during physical activity. In short, less sleep increases the possibility of fatigue, low energy, and poor focus at game time. It may also slow recovery post-game.” When we train, we deplete glycogen stores and while proper post exercise nutrition can help replenish this, we need sleep to restore it too. An article in the in the European Journal of Applied Physiology by Rae, et al, discovered that “One night of partial sleep deprivation impairs recovery.” Without adequate sleep we cannot produce sufficient cellular energy to train. Without sufficient cellular energy, we cannot elicit the training stimulus we need for our goals, we wind up tired, under slept and under recovered, and potentially weaker than when we started.

So, how do we get a better night sleep? Maybe the answer is simple, one less episode of late night netflix, cutting out one late night party a week, or finding more time during our day for homework or studying so we can avoid staying up late and pulling all nighters. Do you already do these things and still struggle to get adequate sleep? Try some of the tips in the list below and zzz’s you way to greater gains in the gym.

  1. Go screen free
    • Too much light in the evening, in particular the blue light emitted by electronic devices can keep our brains running late into the evening. Typically, low light or the darkness we experience at bedtime helps elicit melatonin release which makes us sleepy at night, Interrupting this with the light from your phone, computer, and tablet can keep you artificially wired later than you want to be. Can’t fall asleep with out reading? Try printing that online article or hitting up the library for a hard copy of that book you can’t put down. Phone won’t stop buzzing? Try using the do not disturb feature on your phone to keep tech related sleep interruptions to a minimum.
  2. Cut caffeine after lunch
    • Caffeine takes about 45 minutes to kick in after you consume it, and it has a half life of 4 ±1.5 hrs meaning that if you drink 40mg at 12:00, you probably still have 20mg around 5:00 pm, and potentially 10mg left around 9:00 or 10:00 depending on how fast you metabolize the drug. If you’re sensitive to caffeine and you wake up at 6:00 AM, you might be hampering you effect to fall asleep by 10:00 (the time you’d need to fall asleep to get 8:00 hours of sleep).
  3. Exercise!
    • If you don’t already, hitting the rec for a class, some weights, or even some cardio can help you sleep better. Exercise helps the body maintain healthy circadian rhythms, have a lower body temperature prior to bed, and helps reduce anxiety symptoms which can inhibit sleep.

Any other tips? Drop a comment below!

Plank or nah?

One of the most common core exercises is the plank. It can be a great exercise because it involves a lot more core strength than any single ab muscle alone can provide.

The plank recruits muscles from the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, internal and external obliques, and several muscles in the back. It even places stress on the legs, shoulders, and arms, making it a full body exercise.

If you do it right. So how do you know if your form is good? What if you can plank for over a minute? (Read more below)

Pictured on top is a picture of a plank with bad form, and how most individuals I’ve seen doing a plank preform the exercise, especially when fatigue sets in.

The problem is the lower back is sagging, even though the body as a whole is relatively straight. To fix this, try to posteriorly tilt your pelvis. This means tilting the front of your hips up while tilting the back of your hips down, like tucking your tail bone.

This position decreases the exaggeration of curvature in the lower back, as seen in the middle picture. This keeps you in a safer position, and greatly increases the involvement of your lower abs.

If you can maintain that position with some ease, move your body into a long lever position. Do this by scooting your elbows forward of your shoulders a few inches as shown in the bottom picture.

This is a very challenging position to hold. The greater the challenge the greater the reward. If you have already mastered planks with pelvic tilt, move on to the long lever position while maintaining the tilt and low back integrity.

Check out the study below for more information on how this exercise really effects abdominal and core contraction.

Schoenfeld, B. J., Contreras, B., Tiryaki-Sonmez, G., Willardson, J. M., & Fontana, F. (2014). An electromyographic comparison of a modified version of the plank with a long lever and posterior tilt versus the traditional plank exercise. Sports biomechanics13(3), 296-306.


~GT the PT