Barriers to Success

As animals we are built to keep ourselves safe.  Safe by whatever that means to you, safe from a physical, mental or psychological threats.  These are the things that more often than not keep us from our goals and hold us back from reaching what we may even see as success in our lives.  Now, I don’t think this applies to everyone.  Check that, I do think this applies to everyone and has at some point in time in their life.

How many times have you had an idea, but held back on it because you told yourself or even better.  The people close to you told you that it didn’t make any sense or that it was stupid?  This isn’t something we run into as adults, you have probably experienced a time where you thought you were right about something but then were shamed in that moment as you were completely wrong.  Well, congratulations!  Those experiences as a child have carried over to what you do in your life from one day to the next and the decisions you make around what success looks like to you.

So, what does this have to do with exercise?  It’s simple, the same things that hold you back from reaching your goals, whether that be lose 10 pounds or increase your bench by 20 pounds at some point that process is going to present barriers that are going to slow your progress and keep you from your goal. Similar to if you wanted to start a business or change jobs.  There are certain things or “problems” that you could perceive as a threat or as uncomfortable.  These are moments that make us uncomfortable or that we perceive as threats to the safety we have made in our lives.  There is nothing wrong with feeling safe, I have a wife, two kids and a home.  It’s important to me that they feel safe and that I can provide that for them.  It’s  also important that I am around to see there happiness within that safety that I am trying to provide for them.

You have to figure out what your barriers are, it may be financial, time, family, friends.  More than likely, it’s just you.  None of those other things or people control the decisions that we make or how we feel about the work we do. Your self talk and the barriers that you put in front of yourself is what’s going to stop you from making the changes you want.  You are 100% accountable/responsible for every change you make in your life.  When you own that responsibility, it’s easy to make certain decisions.

So, I like to ask this one question every week when checking in with my members.  What is the one thing you can change today, to head toward what your goals are?  Goals can be short or long term, so 1, 3, 5 year goals.  If you make a decision that your going to try, what would you have to do to head in that direction? Make the decision, then act on it.  You may find that it is difficult but exciting at the same time.  Good Luck!


Can I get a meal plan with that?

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As a trainer/coach we learn about the basics of Nutrition.  We also know that with some certainty if you are ever going to get serious about reaching your goals that 75-80% of your efforts have to be focused on dialing in your nutrition.  If you have read any of my previous articles or are a part of our newsletter, I speak on the importance of nutrition often.  I probably release more content on nutrition information whether from me or someone else than on exercise.  This is because I understand that this is what’s going to really get the job done.

If I am coaching someone and trying to get them to make changes in their lives, but I never address their nutrition other than saying; “Eat healthy foods.” Or, If I am supposed to hold you accountable for your workouts everyday but I never check on your nutrition.  We may have a great relationship and even be good friends, but as your friend I want you to get the results you are looking for.  So, It’s my job and yours! To hold you accountable for your goals and this includes your nutrition.

Now, let me tell you what it doesn’t include.  I am not a licensed Nutritionist or Dietitian.  What are those?  They are professionals who are trained to provide individualized meal plans for those with specific dietary needs.  So they can make adjustments for diabetics, certain medications, daily activity etc.  They then write exactly what they think you should eat, down to the snacks!  This is what most people think is the answer, and for some it may very well be.  For most, changing habits and developing a better relationship with  food and why you make the decisions you do can go a lot further in the long term.

We used to work with a dietitian who prescribed all of our clients meal plans and while they were awesome to work with this is what I found out.

  1. Only one client followed the exact meal plan to the T and he only did so for the first two weeks.  Later, after some more research learned that only 3 out of 10 people actually follow a meal plan.
  2. They tend to include foods that the client doesn’t even like, so again they would not follow the plan.
  3. They did not help produce the results the clients were looking for, and not context was give around the reason why they ate as much as they did or what they ate.

Again, this is not to say that a well structured meal plan won’t work for those that need it. As a trainer/coach we focus on and have seen greater results in performance and appearance by simply working with and actually coaching others on how you can “have your cake and eat it to.”  Without actually having cake all the time, of course.  We focus on creating better habits and increasing awareness around the decisions you make from a place of education.  Personal Trainers cannot prescribe individualized meal plans unless they are licensed to do so.  This is true in most states. Examples of healthy foods recipes, etc are fine but we cannot say “go eat this at this time.” I see a lot of trainers and coaches shy away from even providing guidance, but do you want results?  You better square up your nutrition!

So remember, ultimately the information is out there to be found on how to eat to maintain your goals.  Your health and your fitness, even your results are a reflection of your efforts toward them.  If you are aware then you will progress, if not you will be right where you are talking about your goals and your dreams.  This is also fine if that’s what you want.  If you are reading this though, I bet it’s not. Always be learning and look to those with experience to help guide you to a sustainable path.   HERE is a great article from a mentor of mine on prescribed meal plans and personal trainers.  Have a look!  I’ll talk with you soon.

What’s the plan Stan?

How many of you frequently go to the gym?  How many days of the week do you train? How much time do you spend training per session?  What are your goals?  What are your weaknesses stopping you from reaching those goals? Why is this goal/goals important to you in the first place?

If you have never asked these questions and answered them honestly, this may just be what’s stopping you from reaching them.  For some people it’s a particular muscular weakness or imbalance for most it’s the lack of habits or the lack of a solid plan. Not only do you need a plan, you need one that is specific for you.  Everybody is different and should have a plan supporting that.  Let me give you a few examples:


A travel nurse, dad and husband who simply wanted to lose weight to look better and feel better about himself and be around to enjoy his life and his family.  His program consisted to strength training three times a week and interval training or cardio twice a week.  He has since gone on with the knowledge he gained from managing his nutrition to how to navigate a gym effectively without taking a bunch of time away from other things he enjoys.



A Paramedic with a busy schedule and constantly varied shifts. She has had to make adjustments in her nutrition, sleep habits and workout times. With a focus on increasing strength in the Squat, Bench and Dead lift.   She has also improved all of her lifts in preparation for her first power lifting meet. She has also had some bumps in the road and has gotten through them and come out stronger on the other side of it.  If your doing this right, then that is going to and should happen.



Is a mom of two and pretty darn strong!  She started Cross Fit a little more than two years ago and has had goals of being competitive locally and now globally in the CROSS FIT OPEN! Her programming includes a lot of skill development and aerobic/strength endurance.  She also works on increasing her raw strength three days per week. 2017 is looking to be a good year for KC!


So what do these three have in common?  They didn’t have a plan and got with a coach to help them either get going or guide them throughout the entire ride.  If you are unsure of where to start no matter what your goals are, you don’t need to do it on your own.  At Tension Strength & Conditioning online coaching program are the best way to get you to your health and fitness goals.  No matter where you are in the world we want to work with you to get you through you’re journey from start to finish!


Get after it!


What your training should look like

With hours on an ambulance sitting with your hips flexed and shoulders rolled forward, it is no secret that the risk of injury is high for shift workers such as EMS,fire and police is high. The solution is obvious but hard for some decision makers and individuals to wrap their head around.

Strength builds reseliency and can decrease the amount of work related injuries with a good exercise program.  Now, maybe you go to the gym, and your pretty strong and fairly fit.  What if you could gain strength that transferred over to your job on the road or in the hospital and in your day to day life. What if you could two birds, one stone the hell out of your health and fitness.  What would that program look like? Here is what we think a fitness program would include for strength and stability in life.

  1. Solid Nutrition: It has to start here.  Improve your relationship with food and the decisions made around that and you will find immediate long term success.
  2. Stability and Mobility at the major joints for functional movement.  The joint by joint approach created by Grey Cook and Mike Boyle describe the difference between mobile and stable joints in greater detail.
  3. Strength Training at least 2-3 times per week.  Definition of strength and strength training is obvious but can vary from person to person.  Basically move a load over a specified distance for a specified amount of time.
  4. Aerobic Training or what others may know as cardiovascular training.  I think of them as the same or as one effects the other.  Aerobic stuff will improve cardiovascular function.
  5. Progressive:  Your program should allow for progressive adaptation over the span of the program.  You can then track your results and see how you perform over time.
  6. Fun. Your program should be fun! There should be some variance to it but not to the point where you are seeing no progress.

These are just a few things I would look for in a program. If you want to understand to learn about some of these topics you may need a coach to help you get started.

That’s all for today folks!

What you think vs. What others think

I was getting off work the other day and a co-worker that knows I am a trainer/coach was talking to me about her trainer that she has and how she has been getting her butt kicked.  Obviously proud of the work she has been doing.  She also talked about how much weight she had lost since starting with her. I had read stories of success from my own clients all day to include my wife and her weight loss! Which I am pretty proud of as well. We exchanged stories and she then asked me; “Do you know how many people have noticed?” Referring to how many have given her a compliment or congratulated her on her weight loss.  Now, to be honest if she didn’t mention anything to me I wouldn’t have noticed at that particular moment either.

I then wondered, Why was that out of everything she just told me something that seemed so important to her was that others around her noticed?  Maybe, that was part of her why.  Everyone likes to have those words of affirmation and since EMS is within her circle of friends/people maybe she thought someone, anyone! Would notice.

I didn’t take the conversation any further but simply asked, “Are you happy with what you’ve done, how you feel, and how you look?” She says, “Yes, I feel better.”  Now that wasn’t exactly what I asked but she does know that when it’s all said and done if your not happy, people can say whatever they want, but you have to find your why and then decide if that is going to be enough to satisfy you.  Most people fail at their goals because they undershoot them.  They don’t go big enough.  You think of yourself as small, so you stay small.

Stay motivated with whatever it is that your doing, make sure your reasons align with what would make you truly happy and attack that goal or dream with everything you have.

Mic Drop!

Eventually You Will Fall

One day I had an elder gentleman who fell down say “It’s not big deal, but don’t worry one day you will fall down too. Everybody does.” Now I haven’t  had the pleasure of just eating the ground underneath me due to a fall like this gentleman did.  He did have a pretty good attitude about it I thought, I also thought that he is absolutely right.  One day you are going to fall.  I immediately started to think, how is it I’m going to get up?  I always relate these questions to mine and others health and fitness.  Being able to get up from a fall is something that life will eventually demand of you.  Sometimes you will need some help as there are a lot of reasons that people fall down, but true accidents and not a medical problem can be handled differently.  So, I like options.  If I were to fall what are my options to be ready for that when it happens?  To me these options to get yourself up off the ground when you fall and are capable to are The Bur pee and The Turkish Get Up.  Let’s break those down a bit as see how these exercises can not only make you strong and very fit, they can also be considered tools to get you off the ground if and when you fall.


This is a full body loaded or unloaded exercise where you start on your back and go to a standing position.  Just a week ago I saw an individual perform this movement after breaking her arm.  Now you can tell she didn’t train this movement but was able to go from her back to standing with one arm in a single stable position and the other helping to facilitate the final movement. Here is a video of what it should look like.


The big transition comes from going from your butt to a kneeling position.  There are two ways to accomplish this.  There is a hip extension on the bent leg, then swing the straight leg back until the knee is on the ground and you are in a kneeling position.  There is a second option for those that don’t have the coordination for an extension of the hip and being able to move to a stable kneeling position.  Both examples are below.  The second option puts what would be your straight leg bent behind  your other then you just simply sit up to the kneeling position then stand.  To get back down to the ground the movements are done in reverse.  The Turkish Get Up builds balance, coordination, and bilateral strength.  It’s not something that you can or should do very fast, in my opinion.  It can be done with no load or loaded as heavy as you can go. Now, that you have a pattern for getting up off your back.  Let’s talk about when you fall on your face.



Yep the Bur pee!  No body likes it and it doesn’t matter what form of fitness you practice it’s always there.  Don’t you think that’s interesting?  If every aspect of sport has the bur pee or a variation of it.  Wouldn’t it make sense that it is a staple exercise?  Think about football players, when they get tackled they have to be able to get back up off the ground quickly.  It’s fairly simple, you fall down to the ground, then push yourself up off the ground and stand up.  I like to add a jump at the end just to celebrate that I was able to get up. Then the process repeats itself. Check out the video of the Bur pee here.
Some things worth talking about are the beginning of the movement, which when you add speed can look pretty intense specifically going down into the plank/push up position.  This is find within some context I believe.  For most instances you should reach your hands in between your feet, drop your hips down similar to a squat and then kick your legs back to land in that strong push up position. In the military we called these squat thrust, even upgraded them to an 8 count push up which was much worse than just a bur pee, trust me.  This exercise can be used as a stand alone or in combination with whatever you want and it will immediately create a significant metabolic event.

These two movements will not only increase your strength but also help improve  your conditioning.  Keep it simple if adding these into your workout program.  A good example would be a ladder of Bur pees 1 on minute 1, then 2 on minute 2, 3 on minute 3 and so on. The Get Up can be broken down into smaller movements to get you stronger example: kneeling to standing 3 sets of 4-6 reps each side or lying to sitting  same rep range. You will accumulate a lot of work over 10 minutes and that may be all you need for now.  Give either of these movements a shot and while they may never prevent you from falling, you’ll have the confidence knowing that if you ever do, you can get up.

So you do Cross Fit?

So, I have been asked this question multiple times since I started the venture.  So are you a Cross Fit gym?  You just do Cross Fit right?  Most people that know me, know that I have always been in shape and have always worked out in some way, shape or form.  Since as long as I can remember, I have worked out.  Is Cross Fit one of the things that I do?  Sure.  I coach at a Cross Fit Gym (Box), Sometimes the workouts I do are similar or exactly like Cross Fit workouts.  The next thing I have been asked or told is that it is dangerous to do Cross Fit.  So, trying to field these questions and statements as a new business owner and as someone who is a Fan of overall being healthy and fit has been difficult.  Not as difficult as telling people why I am different from other coaches or training programs.

Again, I like Cross Fit the Methodology and think they have basically created the fitness craze that is around now.  I would be lying if I said it wasn’t the reason I finally got the motivation among other things to start my own business.  I may very well affiliate one day and Cross Fit will be something that I offer to those who are looking for it but the main purpose is to improve health, fitness and teach others how to be accountable and take control of both.  I don’t think that Cross Fit is the only way to do that and neither does Cross Fit I’d bet.

So, what is it that I do exactly?  I provide the tools and information to help others change how they view and go about staying healthy and fit for the duration of their life.  I have been a Paramedic for the better part of 14 years to include time as a Medic in the U.S. Army.  I’ve seen individuals at the peak of their health and performance and I have also seen what it looks like when that is “let go” and overall health and well-being takes a turn for the worst.  For me it was like watching one person at a time slowly kill themselves to include people within my family and there was nothing they wanted to do about it.  Or, if they did want to do something the best thing they knew to do was starve themselves to lose weight with no worry of what was going on in the inside of their body.

How is it that I have decided to go about this?  This part seems to constantly be a work in progress.  Almost once maybe even twice a week, I am coming to my wife with ideas about how to on board new members and ways to keep other ones.  At times it’s discouraging because another little curve ball I may not have  mentioned.  I do all of this training right now online.  This is nothing new in the fitness industry, in fact give it some time and it will effectively take the place of the one on one personal training sessions.  However, everyone as of now want’s that personal trainer physically in front of them it has been difficult and is somewhat unbelievable when I start to tell people about it.  “How can you lose weight with a trainer if he’s not there to show you? ”  Someone even asked me one day, ” Do you Skype call the entire training session?”  Not an invalid question but I still thought it was funny.  Oh, and getting the word out on how we go about the business of getting you fit is a task I am still working on.  This business is a hustle for sure, and it’s easily gotten better since I started at this time last year.

End goal,  what I’m looking to do?  Continue to work with the individuals I have now.  They are all getting stronger and seeing great results.  Continue to grow the online portion of our business so that we are able to fund our first brick and mortar space.  Keep taking care of people.  In a nutshell, that is what I want to do. Help people find their path in defining what it means for them to be strong. Whether that means, Cross Fit, Power Lifting, Weight Lifting, competition or just staying in shape to be able to run around and play with your kids.  If we are helping others to get there, then I have done my job and I would consider the business a success.