Trainer Blog

The value of having a plan... a personal account of fitness success

I want to share my experience of the last “program” I used to improve my overhead pressing strength to give others an idea of how we make gains in strength after the initial improvements in fitness have stalled. I don’t post this to celebrate my success or to brag. It has been a four year…
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Three Common Errors in the Kettlebell Swing... And how to clean them up.

The kettlebell swing is a fantastic exercise for improving power (the ability to be strong at high speed) and conditioning.  It also is a terrific exercise for fat loss. Legendary strength coach Dan John called the kettlebell swing a “fat-burning athlete builder”. I have found it to be just that, as well as  a movement that…
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Progressions in the loaded carries: improving symmetry

Carrying “odd” objects around: dragging limbs fallen from a tree, carrying water softener salt or dog food from the car to the house, lugging luggage through the airport, etc., are inevitable demands of life.   Few things are as disempowering as not having the ability to navigate those types of tasks. Here’s the great news:…
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Diversify your vegetable dishes with these easy to make sauces

We hear from many of our students that once they’ve improved their nutrition habits by eating more vegetables , they (or their kids) get “bored with the same old thing” day after day.   As an extension from the recent post on veggie prep, here are a couple of ideas for livening up the palate when there aren’t…
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Introducing loaded carries: the first four to try

Having grown up in a farm rich area in Southeastern Wisconsin, I can say for sure that carrying heavy things around for long periods of time will leave you a weird kind of strong.  I distinctly remember catching up with an opposing discus thrower at a track meet against one of the teams from a more…
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prepare to eat more veggies

We fitness professionals approach nutrition with varying degrees of personal interest and investment.   For some of us, food is just fuel (yes, I think they’re missing out too!).  For others, it is a tool to manipulate body composition, drive performance, optimize health, etc.   For Patrick and me, food is a big part of lives.…
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kale and carrot salad

Kale and carrot salad The kale and carrot salad is always a summer and fall favorite in our home.  The dressing is a mayo base with the flavors coming from fresh ginger and garlic, a little pop from the wasabi powder and peppercorns  and a nice balance of acidity and saltiness from the rice vinegar…
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preparing a garden bed part 3: the "finer" points

So, I realized that there are some of the finer points that I have neglected to share in part one and part two. I started from the beginning with this herb bed, and took some shots of the process that I did not include in parts one and two posted earlier.  This third part should…
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preparing a garden bed part 2

Here’s the next step following part one of preparing your own little plot of joy in the yard.  After cutting the sod off of the bed site, you’re going to have to do some things to improve your soil for growing (unless, of course, you live in a place where your topsoil is already amazing…  which makes me…
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How to prepare a garden bed Step 1

This is the first in a series of three posts on how to get started gardening in your yard.  These three posts are from a personal blog from 2016.  Since I have recently had many people ask me how to go about growing food in their own yard, I think this is worth sharing here.…
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Troubleshooting the push up part 2: arm position

Push-ups can be one of the most effective exercises around to help “tighten up” the back of the upper arms, and the back of the armpit area.  This is one of the often cited areas that people want to improve muscle tone in by strength training.  In order to get the most out of the…
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Troubleshooting the push-up part 1: the core

The push-up is one of those quintessential exercises that has probably been around since we humans had enough leisure time (or military need) to play around with strength training.  A good push up will develop upper body pushing strength, core strength, and improve posture.  Done well, the movement  develops tone in the shoulders, chest, arms,…
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Troubleshooting the plank

If the plank seems to you like an exercise that is too easy to master, you’re right! We trainers think planks are great.  Almost everyone should have the ability to get into some sort of plank.  It can be elevated or even standing, but the ability to defend the position of the spine while it…
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BEEF! For the week...

Beef is my favorite protein source.   For years, beef has been tossed back and forth from wonderful, nutritious staple of the national dinner table to cancer causing, heart clogging, dietary demon.   Even now, there’s still disagreement about it, and probably will be for years to come.   Lately, the debate has turned toward…
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What is "neutral spine" and why it is important for you?

“Neutral spine” is one of those terms that we fitness professionals throw around pretty casually.  We refer to the concept in terms of maintaining a neutral spine position while completing a movement related to strength training or building flexibility, etc.   I have used the term recently in both the troubleshooting the deadlift post and…
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Troubleshooting the Goblet Squat

The squat is the one of the two essential lower body patterns for strength exercises.  The other is the “hinge” family, of which we touch on here in Troubleshooting the Deadlift.   The squat is not only an immensely useful movement in activities of life, but is an excellent way to build a more useful…
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About Mark

I am a busy guy; husband, father, coach, mentor, gardener, outdoors man and cook are the primary hats I wear. To be the best of these I can be, I stay physically prepared for all those pursuits, and feed myself in a way that allows me to keep up the pace. I can help you to take the next manageable step in fitness and wellness to get you closer to your ideal self.