It’s so easy to get caught up in the environment and want to go ALL IN when it comes to training.

Trust me, I get it.

But before you jump in with competition or attempting that next PR… How about forgetting about the ego for a minute and practice on your craft for a few months or hell… YEARS.

I’m very new to Oly lifting and I have a looooong way to go to get my form and technique down.

I’m getting help from my coach who’s giving me exercises such as this high block clean to get it down.

I’m not looking at PRs or competition today… I’m learning the basics, developing my craft, practicing by the numbers.

I’m going to continue to keep you in the loop of this progress to Lead From the Front…. Because the lesson here is way too important.

I want to demonstrate what it looks like to start from the beginning and how it’ll progress over time… Because some of you are new to lifting and need to know that we ALL struggle with the learning curve at times.

You may be anxious to jump ALL IN before earning your dues… Which is a guaranteed way of getting hurt.

I highly encourage you to develop your lift, practice for excellence, then, once it’s become second nature, step out on the platform… From there I promise that 99% of you will be humbled and you’ll truly know what you need to work on from there.

Don’t take any notes from this video… This is an ugly lift at best 😂😂😂

Deadlifts

The Deadlift gets a bad rap for being dangerous on the lower back.  As someone who has suffered many lower back flare ups due to Degenerative Disc Disease, I am here to tell you that the Deadlift is one of the most beneficial exercises I can do to maintain my strength and stay pain free.

It was only when I would mess up the Deadlift in my training that I would incur the lower back flare ups.

Mistakes I would make were:

  1. Going too heavy too often
  2. Getting out of position during a PR attempt
  3. Using wrong form

See the trend there?… Honestly, when you use the Deadlift properly with correct form and in the right training scope, it has tremendous benefits to aid in recovery of a bad lower back and to me, a life without Deadlifts just sucks.

So lets get your Deadlifts down right so you’ll never have to ignore them in training again.

One thing I really like to do with my clients is a Deadlift progression.

I always start by teaching them the Hip Hinge Pattern Movement first and they must master it.  Next, I teach them how to be under load, both with Romanian Deadlifts and Squats!

YES!  The Squat has great carry over to the Deadlift.  Unfortunately that’s not the same case in reverse.

After learning the hip hinge, Romanian Deadlift and showing me a great loaded squat, I’ll then progress to the Trap Bar Deadlift or if mobility is an issue, I’ll have them do block pulls.  Simply put, this is an elevated Deadlift.

If you are new to the Deadlift, I am going to suggest this same progression along with 3 more things here.

  1. Master the Hip Hinge Movement and learn how to engage and load your hamstrings and glutes BEFORE attempting a deadlift.  A great way to do this is by perfecting the Romanian Deadlift FIRST!
  2. Take your time learning the Deadlift – no need to rush into heavy weight right away.
  3. Watch and perfect your form using the 5 Step Approach created by Mark Rippetoe

Romanian Deadlift

Quick Look at the Romanian Deadlift

The 5 Step Deadlift

Brought to you by Mark Rippetoe of Starting Strength, this is one of the best beginner tutorials for the Deadlift that is on the internet today.  I feel I would be doing you a great disservice if I didn’t share this with you in this blog post.

These 5 Steps will carry over into every Deadlift variation you can think of.  The only difference will be how far apart your foot placement will be from one another (such as Sumo Deadlifts); other than that, your setup and execution will remain the same.

This is also true for Heavy Carry implements such as the Farmer Bars and Strongman Frame.

Rack Pull

Here are some other pointers on the Deadlift.

Best Grip For Deadlift?

Standard grip, mix grip, hook grip?

Which one should you use?

Use them all.

Here’s why I like to incorporate each variation of these grips in my Deadlift training.

Standard, Double Overhand Grip

💥Develops overall grip strength with no extra assistance

💥Will not create imbalances in posture, particularly the upper back .

Mix Grip

💥Helps lift more weight

💥Doesn’t fatigue grip as fast

💥Helps develop bicep strength

Hook Grip

💥Practically cannot lose your grip

💥Develops high pain threshold 😮

Here’s the thing. I use to only use mix grip in my training and it caused me big problems with my lower back.

By continuing to grip the bar with left hand under and right hand over (my strongest grip position) I was causing severe posture imbalances which led to another lower back flare up that put ALL my training on hold for a good 3-4 months.

Since then, if I use the mix grip it’s on 2 conditions.

1. It’s only after I’ve reached a weight that I can’t handle for double overhand or I’ve exhausted my grip due to high reps, as seen in video below

2. I switch my hand position each working set. If I start left over, right under I’ll make sure that the next set my left hand is now under and right over.

By switching my hands each set I’m helping to keep my posture and structural integrity in check.

As far as hookgrip is concerned, I’ll use it as a gut check and will use this when I’m feeling I need to man up

Oh… And what about lifting straps

I never use them in training, maybe for a PR or when a competition allows but honestly, I feel they are cheating yourself out of true strength.

Gym Hack – Easy Unloading Deadlift Bar

Snatch Grip Deadlift

Landmine Deadlift (Car Deadlift Simulation – Athlete, Chris Riddick)

Exercise selection is going to be an absolutely vital component of what differentiates a poor strength program from a GREAT one.

Basically, the exercises that you choose to use in your program are going to influence not only how strong you become but also how many calories you burn during that workout (or more so afterwards), how many muscle fiber’s get worked, what type of hormonal release you see from the training as well as how long it takes you to complete your workout.

Today, I want to get you set up with the best exercises to perform so that each and every one of your workouts produces optimal results.

Now, being that I know you don’t want to waste your time on exercises that don’t produce results, we’re going to ensure that you are only doing the exact exercises that will bring you success.

100% Results from your 100% Effort. That’s the way we bring it!

You typically have two different categories of exercises to choose from: compound exercises and isolated exercises.

Compound exercises are my preferred weapon of choice since they recruit the most muscles being worked, burn more calories and produce the fastest results possible.

Isolation exercises have their place but should not take priority in any strength program.

Here is a list of some of my favorites. The following are excellent examples of compound exercises:

When performing these movements you are accomplishing two distinct things.

First, they work at least two or more muscles at the same time.

Take the squat for example.  Sure, you’re going to hit the lower body hard – quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes but do you realize you’re also getting amazing upper body work in?  The squat will build stronger abs than any crunch off the floor ever could.  Talk about a full body exercise.

And second, you have multiple joint movement.  Looking at the squats, you’ll be moving the knees, hips and ankles.

Once again, greater body activation. The more of your body you can get involved in every single activity you do, the better your results are going to be.

For the person looking for maximum fat loss and some great muscle building, compound movements are the KING and what your exercise routine should be built upon.

Now, before we neglect anything, isolation exercises do have their place.

So what are isolation exercises? Isolation exercises target one single specific muscle group. For example, they include movements such as:

….and so on. All of these are only going to be working one joint and one muscle group. That right there is THE huge difference between compound and isolation exercises.

I’ve noticed over the years that many people working out in the gym today are using 80% isolation exercises and about 20% compound exercises. This is a big reason why they never get the results they truly want and rarely see any progress.

That won’t be you though.  Because we’re going to take your workout program and primarily focus on the exercises that will bring you results… which is?

Yep! You got it – Compound Movements.

This isn’t to say you can’t do any isolation work though. I know you have some specific areas you want to target. Maybe you want to firm up the back of your arms (which would be your triceps) so that you feel more comfortable in sleeveless shirts or perhaps you want more leg definition and decrease the inner thigh flab.

Whatever your goal, it can help to add one or two isolated exercises just for that muscle group to really push it to the limit but always remember that they will be getting worked when you do your compound exercises as well.

One last point I want to stress when it comes to exercise selection is, forget about all those lies you’ve heard about shaping and toning your muscles with sculpting exercises and light weight, IT’S COMPLETE B.S.!!

The truth is, muscles respond best to exercises where you’re lifting a maximum amount of weight and increasing the overall level of tension that the muscle has, compound lifts are going to help with this.

And ladies, trust me on this, you won’t build big and bulky muscles by lifting heavy without the aid of anabolic steroids or other performance enhancing drugs.

To sum it up remember these key points about exercise selection:

1. Build your routines around compound movements first

2. Add in isolation exercises to specifically target trouble areas

3. Lift hard and heavy – Don’t be afraid of heavy weight, there is no such thing as shaping and toning

Get it Done!

Murph

This past week I received an email from Brian who wanted some ideas on some great upper body strength training exercises that they could do from home.

His message went something to the tune of, “Help! Summer is on the way and The Suns coming Out. I need some home exercises to build my arms so I can have the Gunz Out.”

No problem Brian, this should help.

Here are my TOP 5 Killer Exercises for a Killer Summer Body!

1. Rope Climb / Pull-ups / Inverted Rows – Ok, I know Pull-ups aren’t doable yet for everyone so I have some different progressions until you can get your feet off the ground and body up to new heights. Lets start with the lessor of these 3 exercises (although still very challenging) The Inverted Row. You can use the Kitchen table or throw a strong rope around a low hanging branch of a tree in your yard. Perform this exercise by getting up under your table and pulling your chest up as seen in the pic below. From here you can move into the Assisted Rope Climb. Essentially the same movement as the inverted row, you’ll start by lying flat on the ground and grasping the rope. You’ll climb the rope hand over hand until you are almost in a full standing position. Keeping your feet in contact with the ground at all times reverse the movement by walking hand over hand back down till your laying flat on the ground again. Both of these exercises are great for beginners who can’t get their first pull-up yet or struggle to climb a rope.

2. Push-ups – These are the most basic of all upper body pressing movements however there are many variations to take it up a level. Choose from regular, close grip, wide grip, spider crawl, 2x10s, plyometric, weighted, etc – Check out this video of so many different variations.

3. Odd Object Throw – This one is as basic as it sounds but a heck of a lot of fun and will build tremendous strength and give you a great metabolic conditioning workout as well (cardio to burn fat!) Execute this movement by finding any large, heavy object (Big Rocks, Bricks, Concrete Blocks, Weighted Medicine Ball, Sandbag, Even a Dumbbell) pick it up off the ground and heave it as far as you can with a variation of different throws.

4. Sledge Hammer Chops / Split Wood – Sometimes, the ol’ fashioned household chores growing up were the best workouts I have ever done. Splitting and sawing wood was definitely one of those winter chores that I never looked forward to because it was hard work! When we were kids, Dad would do most of the splitting but my brother and I would carry and stack the wood into nice piles to burn later in the wood stove. If you don’t have firewood to cut, get out a heavy sledgehammer and “chop wood” by hitting an old tire. The heavier the hammer, the better the workout.

5. Farmer Carry – One of my all time favorite movements that’s pretty much the Ultimate in a Strength and Conditioning exercise. Not only will you test your entire bodies strength and endurance from your grip, to forearms, biceps, shoulders, traps, upper back, core and even legs but you’ll also be huffing and puffing trying to manage the weight for more distance or time. Of course once you get good at a certain weight, its time to take it up or increase your distance, time, etc. Simply grab 2 heavy objects in your hands and start walking. Keep your body as tall as you can (think tall spine) and try not to drop. Don’t need anything expensive here, just grab a couple of 5 Gallon buckets and fill them with water or sand. They’ll get the job done!

So there you go.

5 Great Upper body (and really full body) drills you can do at home with things you already have laying around.

Try these exercises on this week and let me know how you do.

Get Work Done.

Murph

The Kettle-Bell swing is one of my favorite exercises to help develop and teach clients explosive power. During the KB swing, you’ll be using your hips as the primary muscle to “throw” the weight up towards the ceiling.

The KB swing has tremendous carry over to strengthen your Jumps, Deadlifts, Squats and Sprints but can also be used as a conditioning drill.

It is a also a great non-impact exercise to use in place of jumping.

Here is how to perform the KB Swing

 

There are key points to remember in the kettle-bell swing:

  • Hinge, don’t squat: The swing is a simple exercise but tends to be done wrong frequently.  It is not a squat, it is a powerful hip-hinge movement. That means that the hips go back (hinge), and the knees only bend slightly (they bend fully in a squat). Think about this position as a jump. If you try to jump forward as far as possible, the bottom position is the same position that you use at the bottom of the kettle-bell swing.
  • Be explosive with the hips, not the arms: The swing is a ballistic movement. If you think of a bullet fired out of a gun, it receives all of its power initially and then relies on momentum to hit its target. The same goes for the swing. The hips provide the explosive power throwing the kettle-bell up in the air and the arms are there just for the ride. Do not worry about how high the kettle-bell goes. Your goal is to let it float up once the hips have used up their power.
  • Protect the back: Do not let the kettle-bell pull the lower back into a bad position at the bottom of the swing. Keep everything tight from your shoulders, to your lats, chest and abdominals all the way to your quads and glutes.  Do not lose this tightness in any part of the movement.
  • Location on the downswing is important: Ensure the kettle-bell passes between your legs on your upper thighs.  If you’re a little intimate with the KB, you’re probably doing it right.  Wait until the last second to hinge back and let the kettle-bell go between your upper thighs. If you find your forearms hitting your lower thighs, you are putting too much strain on the lower back.

In this post I am going to explain exactly why you need to take your intensity up in your training and provide exactly how to do so.

The tips I’m about to uncover WILL invoke the body to re-shape with eye popping, muscle definition, causing the opposite sex to sustain neck injuries from whiplash and weakness in the knees…

Ok, little dramatic there but you get the idea.

Through the concepts I’m going to describe to you, you’re going to learn exactly what you need to do to rev your metabolic rate so high that you’ll burn up body fat even while you’re at home kicked back watching t.v.

Sound too good to be true?

If you’re like most people, this is exactly how you would LOVE to be able to lose fat. You’re doing very little work but melting fat off your body.

Possible? Absolutely. But, only after you put in the hard work with your trainingfirst.

Continue reading 5 Ways To Take Your Workouts to the Next Level

If you’re going to train or compete in Strongman, it is inevitable that you’re going to come across the Atlas Stone.

So, to help you out with the form and proper technique of lifting one of the most recognized events in all of Strongman sports… Check out the videos below.

How to Perform the Atlas Stone

Stone of Steel

The Maniacs and several new visitors gathered at Mayhem Fitness and Cross Training this past Saturday for an epic Strongman workshop.

We went over form, technique and application of several Strongman implements including:

  • Atlas Stones
  • Log Clean & Press
  • Axel Bar Deadlifts
  • Yoke Carry
  • Tire Flips
  • and everyone’s favorite – Truck Pulls

During our time together there was lots of grunting, laughing and clapping through several new personal records.

Take a look at all the action and join us for the next one.  Make sure you’re following us on Instagram and Facebook for updates on upcoming events.

Strongman Saturday Trailer

Ashley gets a new PR on the Log Clean and Press

Tips for a better Overhead Press

See more action on Instagram by clicking here. (be sure to view the Strongman Highlight Tab)

Keep Pounding Yall 👊

Murphy

Check out this highlight reel of our athletes in all the fun action!

You can also view each event separately in this YouTube Playlist – CLICK HERE to view on YouTube

After that, my full competition recap is posted in the video below.

In it I address:

  • Some of the fears and concerns the athletes went through and how they were able to overcome them
  • The breakdown of the events and how our athletes performed with each one
  • How our athletes were the talk of the competition amongst their peers
  • What it takes to become a Champion
  • How to become the Strongest version of yourself and why I say the Ultimate Weapon for Personal Development is not found in school, books, podcasts or videos but comes from a Barbell

You can watch the complete recap here:

EVENTS:

  1. Log Clean & Press – Heaviest weight lifted wins – 3 attempts
  2. Deadlift Medley – Barbell, Axel Bar + Wagon Wheels, Car Deadlift for reps – Most reps wins
  3. Stone Putt – Farthest Distance wins
  4. Yoke Ladder – Carry for 80 feet, dropping at each 20 foot marker adding 50 more pounds. Quickest time wins
  5. Stone of Steel Over Bar – Most reps wins

WEIGHTS FOR OUR WOMEN ATHLETES

  1. Log – Most weight lifted – 125
  2. Deadlift – Bar – 250 / Axel – 275 / Car Deadlift – 570
  3. Stone Putt – 11lbs
  4. Yoke Ladder – Started at 200, finished at 350
  5. Stone of Steel – 175lbs

WEIGHTS FOR MASTERS

  1. Log – PR at 230
  2. Deadlift – Bar 405 / Axel – 450 / Car – ???
  3. Stone Putt – 16lbs
  4. Yoke Ladder – Started at 400 – finished at 550
  5. Stone of Steel – 250lbs

Results of our athletes

There were 5 girls competing in the Women’s MiddleWeight Novice division

In Womens:

Log Clean & Press – Celeena finished 1st, Liz took 2nd, Hannah 5th

Deadlift Medley – Hannah took 1st, Celeena 2nd and Liz 3rd

Stone Throw – Celeena 1st, Hannah 3rd, Liz 5th

Yoke Ladder – Hannah 1st, Celeena 2nd, Liz 3rd

Stone Over Bar – Celeena 1st, Hannah 4th, Liz 5th

Overall Points – Celeena 23, Hannah 16 and Liz finished 1 point behind the 3rd place finisher at 12

Celeena Buth took home 1st Place 🏆 in Women’s Novice Middleweight

Hannah Harpold took home 2nd Place 🏅 in Women’s Novice Middleweight

In the Mens’ Masters there were 6 of us competing

In the Log, I finished 2nd (same weight as 1st place but I was slower).

In the Deadlift I finished 3rd (again, tied in reps but slower)

In the Stone Throw I finished 5th and damn near took everybody out so 🙈

In the Yoke Ladder I finished 2nd

In Stone Over Bar I finished 4th

I took home 3rd Place 🎖 with a total of 19 points, 6 points behind 1st.

Here is the Full Score Sheet – Leprechaunscoresheet

Everybody came home a Stronger, more confident Champion version of themselves

From left to right (Liz Stephens, Celeena Buth, Sean Murphy, Hannah Harpold)

If you are ready to become the Strongest and Fittest version of yourself, hit me up for Personal Training or Online Coaching / Programming at coachseanmurphy@gmail.com

Keep Pounding 👊

Murph

Special Thanks To: Coach, Sean Coffey for organizing and putting on this event. 

Iron Asylum Gym – VA Beach VA for hosting the event and to all the sponsors:

  • Southside Harley-Davidson
  • Oceana Nutrition Corner
  • Brian Latuga
  • Fruitive
  • SBD
  • A7 Intl
  • Swōl Food
  • Cerberus Strength USA
  • PNC
  • Born Primitive
  • Warrior Genetics Lab
  • 5.11 Tactical
  • Strike Force
  • London Bridge Trading
  • Special Ops Survivors
  • Aegis Strength & Conditioning LLC
  • Play Again Now – Recovery
  • Wasserhund Brewing Company
  • Jimmy Dillon

Fix Your Pushup with the following steps:

The Setup

  1. Stack shoulders directly over your hands.  Your hands should not be out in front of you nor spaced wider than shoulder width.
  2. Screw our hands into the floor. This is a coaching cue I give to my clients that truly helps to engage the serratus anterior and lats while protecting your shoulders from impingements.  Without actual moving your palms from the floor, drive and rotate your hands away from one another as hard as you can.  Think of actually screwing your hands deep through the floor.  Maintain this tightness throughout the entire pushup.
  3. Next, engage your core by keeping your hips slightly up.  Forget the rule of a straight line from the base of your neck to your heels.  By engaging a slight hip up position, you’ll target your overall full body strength and posture.

The Execution

  1. Lower your chest about an inch from the floor keeping your hips and core engaged.
  2. As you lower, keep your elbows slightly back positioning yourself in a tight triangle pattern.  This will target more tricep (the back of your arm) and protect your shoulders.
  3. Push back up to start position while maintaining overall tightness in your entire body.
  4. Rep for reps or time.

If you struggle with the Pushup – use an assistance band as seen here to help with your form.

Add chains, bands or a weight vest if you need more of a challenge.

Click here to learn how to incorporate bands into your Pushup or even Dumbbell work.