All posts by Will Levy

Angled Bar Pressing Variations. And, Why Power Lifting Isn’t the Holy Grail of Training

There’s a stigma within the ranks of the fitness profession that doesn’t sit well with me: KISS. More specifically, an overreliance on the KISS principle.
I understand and appreciate the benefits of the simplicity that the KISS crowd espouses well enough, and especially when it comes to client interaction, such as exercise instruction or new habit formation.

What I’m not entirely on board with however, is its application.
In my experience “keep it simple” from a trainer’s standpoint, in practice, typically follows with the myriad strength training techniques available to us being watered down to “just squat, bench and deadlift” or the marginally more inclusive “stick with the barbell compound lifts” or any other permutation thereof.
As a training philosophy, this is asinine. Short of training for an actual power lifting meet – which certainly isn’t the goal of any of my personal training clients, nor is it of 99% of training clients anywhere – this is an extremely narrow-minded and ignorant viewpoint, and to me displays the lack of objective analysis in client training prescription that is indicative of many of the shortcomings of the fitness profession.

But that’s a rant for another day, as it is indeed a gripe of mine and I intend to lay out my thoughts on the matter accordingly. For today’s purposes though, I simply wanted to point out that innovative thinkers have come up with many variations of, tweaks to, modifications for, and occasionally, brand new exercises that you aren’t likely to find at your local Globo gym, power lifting dungeon or in a personal training course text book. Continue reading Angled Bar Pressing Variations. And, Why Power Lifting Isn’t the Holy Grail of Training

The Band-Resisted Single Leg RDL

Single Leg RDLYep, following up on my last post, I’ve got yet another single leg training variation for you to try out.
I don’t come up with these just for the sake of it. Necessity is the mother of invention and the fact is I’ve trained a lot of clients, over a lot of sessions, and finding new tweaks to common exercises simply comes with the territory when you need to work with limited equipment, limited space, around injuries, or find new techniques to make clients better understand or better “feel” exercises, and to find variety to keep enthusiasm high.
Plus, I simply have an inquisitive mind and like to take common practices and see if I can find a way to make them even more effective or more suitable to my needs.
Very often this doesn’t pan out. Those are all the times you don’t see a new video or new blog post. Occasionally, something seems to work well. So I try it out some more, then try it with clients, then collaborate with other colleagues and refine it a little more if we can, and then we come out the other side with another proven training method. And as trainers, adding useful new tools to our methodological toolbox is the name of the game.

So on to today’s exercise: The band-resisted single leg RDL.

Continue reading The Band-Resisted Single Leg RDL

The Dead-Stop Split Squat

The half kneeling position is the foundation for all the split stance exercises to follow.
The half kneeling position is the foundation for all the split stance exercises to follow.

I seem to have this whole “Single leg training guy” thing going on at the moment, which is fine, though entirely unintentional. I like heavy deadlifts and squats as much as the next meathead, and I’ve no qualms with prescribing them for my clients either, provided they aren’t a contraindicated exercise for that individual. Because as we all know, there’s no such thing as a “bad” exercise, just better and worse exercises for the person and the situation at hand, right? RIGHT??

Often, however, single leg exercise variations simply turn out to be a better tool for the job with many people, and in many situations. And if not a better tool, then almost always an excellent accessory tool to follow up some heavy bilateral work with.

Today I bring you yet another variation of a classic single leg exercise to try out: The dead-stop split squat.
Continue reading The Dead-Stop Split Squat

How Being an Armchair Mixed Martial Arts Expert Can Help Make You a Better Personal Trainer

Mighty Mouse: World class fighter has world class coaching.
Mighty Mouse: World class fighter has world class coaching.

It’s Sunday afternoon here in Melbourne, and the end of the biggest sporting weekend on the Australian calendar. The AFL grand final was played yesterday in front of 99,454 footy fans in what turned out to be a fizzer, with the slight underdogs Hawthorn stunning Sydney with an early blitz from which they never recovered, and the match all but over by half time. While celebrations continued into today for Hawks fans (as they will all week), I was far more interested in the absolutely stacked fight card at UFC 178 today.

The entire card lived up to expectations and then some, for reasons that all MMA fans will understand, but this isn’t a blog about the UFC. This is about training and the fitness profession, and for that I want to focus on the main event of the card: the flyweight championship bout featuring defending champ Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and, more pertinently, his cornermen led by head coach Matt Hume, and what was pointed out by expert MMA commentator Joe Rogan.

Continue reading How Being an Armchair Mixed Martial Arts Expert Can Help Make You a Better Personal Trainer

The First Step to Fixing the Fitness Profession

Active coaching by some sexy bastard
Active coaching by some sexy bastard

“Don’t bitch about the problem if you don’t have a viable solution to offer.”

The fitness industry, in its bid to graduate to the “Fitness Profession” has a sturdy record of turning on its own kind. And oftentimes this comes with good reason. I may have been known to point out incompetence or to call out a charlatan here or there myself, on occasion. The gap between the best in the biz – the true fitness professionals – and the typical personal trainer is a vast one. Perhaps 90% of our industry operates at a level of such mind-numbing incompetence that complaining about the problem is inevitable. Our unregulated industry with its low barrier to entry is rife with trainer horror stories.

Hopefully you, as the sort of person who would even take the time to read an article titled as this, is not among them. The trainer who is actively out pursuing the betterment of their craft almost always falls into the remaining 10% by default. Those 10% are the ones who “get it”.

And among that 10% we often pine and postulate on strategies to employ that will result in The 90% closing the gap on The 10% thereby bringing the industry up to par.
So this post is really for those who are in a position to create change: The industry leaders. The gym and staff managers, the facility owners, the mentors, the presenters, the online voices.

Where do we start? Which is our top priority? What is the first step?   Continue reading The First Step to Fixing the Fitness Profession

The Dead-Stop Single Leg RDL

Bodyweight single leg RDL

I’ve got another tweak on a common exercise for you to try out today, and incidentally it’s also a hamstring dominant exercise which makes it a fitting follow up to last week’s post.
I’ll probably be putting up these type of exercise demonstration blogs more regularly in future, as this is really my wheelhouse. I’m not an online trainer. I’m not someone who just reads research (though I do that too) or just reads text books (which I also do) or just reads other fitness professional’s blogs and social media posts (those too) and then copies some exercise ideas and sends them to someone online whom I’ll never meet face to face or, worse, just writes about it without ever testing it on anyone else at all. I train people in real life. Continue reading The Dead-Stop Single Leg RDL

The SHELC and the Nordic Hamstring Curl (Videos): Pregressions and Progressions for Hamstring Strength, Injury Reduction and Rehabilitation

I’m back bitchez!

Check it out, I’m blogging again. Ain’t that something. While I haven’t been completely absent (see my occasional recent activity here) I have, admittedly, been pretty slack. Very slack.
Well I’m out to rectify that from now. Aside from today’s post, I’ve got a couple of other exercise video blogs in the works for the coming days.
Ok, weeks. I mean, let’s not get too crazy now.

On to today’s content.

The Nordic hamstring exercise/ Nordic curl is one example of an exercise that has a pretty solid reputation all around. It’s an Continue reading The SHELC and the Nordic Hamstring Curl (Videos): Pregressions and Progressions for Hamstring Strength, Injury Reduction and Rehabilitation

Tracy Anderson: A Charlatan And A Disgrace To The Fitness Profession

FraudI don’t know it all. Far, far from it.
I’ve been wrong before. Very wrong. Many times. I’ll be wrong again, too. Many more times.
Same goes for every other trainer or coach in the fitness industry. I’m sure I could find at least one thing I disagree with from every single trainer in the world.
That’s ok though. I still learn from them, and we’ll usually agree on more topics than not. We’re all learning. If we’re wrong, it’s not because we’re trying to dupe anybody. We present the best information we have at that time. 99% of people, this industry included, are genuinely good people with good intentions. We want to help.
Who are the remaining one percent?
They’re the industry’s charlatans.

Continue reading Tracy Anderson: A Charlatan And A Disgrace To The Fitness Profession

Playing with Staggered Stance

Whether loaded up heavy for those capable and willing, or just grooving the movement patterns for those wanting to move, feel and perform better, standard bilateral squats and deadlifts along with their variations remain foundational lower body (some would argue full body) strength exercises.
Complementing the big bilateral lifts (yes, complementing them, not competing with them) are the myriad single leg exercises available, many of which I’ve covered extensively already.
But why limit ourselves to just these options for leg training? And who made the rule that we can’t work asymmetrically?
Enter staggered stance.   Continue reading Playing with Staggered Stance

This Week’s Best Podcasts for Training, Nutrition and Health #2

As I loosely promised last week, I’m back again with a handful of the best podcasts from around the Interwebz on all things training, nutrition and health related. Granted, it was a slow week for training content, but we had a bunch of nutrition episodes to pick up the slack.

Let’s go.