The Value of Discipline

We’ve all run across people in life who have huge dreams and ambitions, but always seem to be in the same place they were the last time we saw them.  Why is that?  Are their dreams and goals unrealistic?  Are they just incapable of reaching them?

I think most of them are 100% capable of reaching their goals – the problem lies in taking consistent action to move themselves gradually toward that goal.  For instance:  if my goal is to be a chef, I’m never going to get there if I just talk about how much I want to be a chef while munching on microwaved Top Ramen and watching Chopped on Netflix.  

The same goes for any goal, whether it be academic, athletic, professional, or purely personal.  Dreams very rarely come true without some action on the part of the dreamer.  When I was growing up, my parents told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be, and I believed them wholeheartedly (still do!).  But they also made sure I knew that “wanting” to be something wouldn’t be enough if I wasn’t willing to put in the work necessary to reach that goal.

How does that apply to the gym?

Strength training has done a great deal for me physically – it has also allowed me to coach, to compete, and to enjoy new sports and activities at a relatively high intensity.  However, those physical benefits pale in comparison to the mental benefits.

Pretty much anyone can go into the gym on any given day and pick up some weights and put them back down.  Will that one day alone help them reach their goals?  Not in any meaningful way.  

BUT, if that person continues to go into the gym and pick up that barbell, day after day, until the days turn into weeks, and the weeks turn into months, the weights will eventually start to feel a little bit lighter.  That person might start to notice a change on the scale, or in the way their pants fit.  Or, more along the lines of what we do at SISU Strong, maybe they start to notice just a little less arm pump or a little more endurance on their board or bike.  

Your goals, whatever they may be, will only be achieved when you are ready to commit to consistently and relentlessly pursuing them, day after day,  week after week, month after month, and year after year.  That means you need three key things:

  1. Discipline – this is simple.  You have to commit to your goal and put in the work, day after day.  Even when you don’t feel good.  Even when you’re tired.  Even when you’re friend is having a pool party and you really want to go because it’s the last day of summer and you just got a new bathing suit and all the cool kids are going to be there and blah blah blah.  Discipline means mastering your impulses and emotions and focusing on the task at hand. 
  2. Work Ethic – if you want to reach your goals, if you have to be willing to put in the work.  That means not just showing up, but training with a purpose.  You can’t just go through the motions every day, never challenging yourself, and expect to make real progress.
  3. Longsighted-ness – according to my word processing software, this isn’t a word, so I guess that means I created it.  This is basically the opposite of shortsightedness (which, confusingly, is somehow already a word).  You have to have the willpower to sacrifice your short-term comfort and convenience for the sake of your long-term goal.  If you want to be great, you have to be willing to do what others are unwilling to do to get there, and realize that it still won’t happen quickly.

Strength training will give you all of these things.  If you don’t have them, you will acquire them or you will not succeed at getting stronger.  

You don’t get stronger by showing up just when you feel like it.  

You don’t get stronger by just going through the motions.

You don’t get stronger by stopping when it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable.

Above and beyond the physical gainz, this is what we do at SISU Strong.  We develop these qualities.  We show our athletes, particularly the younger ones,  that through discipline, drive, and dedication, they can and WILL reach their goal.  Those are lessons that will stay with the athlete through their athletic career and for the rest of their lives.

When The Gym is a Waste of Time

In our last post, we talked about the value of strength training for action sports athletes.  Whether you’re a weekend warrior or an aspiring/current professional, a well-planned and well-executed strength training program can help prevent injury, improve endurance in practice and competition, and take your performance to the next level – there’s no debating that.

So, when IS going to the gym a waste of time?

Well, depending on what you do while you’re in the gym, going can be worse than a waste of time – it can be detrimental to your health and your development as an athlete.  

Many people believe that if they can just make it to the gym every day, then just walking through that door is going magically make them better. Unfortunately, the truth is more complicated.

While making it to the gym consistently is definitely a critical part of any training program, I’m here to tell you that what you do while you’re there is way more important.  Here are the TWO questions you need to ask yourself to make sure you’re not wasting your time in the gym:

  • Do I have a plan?

This boils down to one thing: why are you in the gym in the first place?  Let’s say your answer is “to get better at my sport” — then, what is your plan to do that?  

What are the performance parameters that you are targeting for improvement?  

What exercises are you using to stimulate adaptation in those specific parameters?

How many sets of how many reps are you doing?  At what tempo?  With how much rest?  

How many times per week?

What metrics are you using to track your progress?

These are critical questions and, if they aren’t answered, then you’re basically trying to assemble an IKEA table without the instruction manual…it’s not going to come out the way you envisioned.

How does that look in practice?  

Maybe you start to feel like you’re out of energy while practicing or competing on your sport.  That is probably due to improper periodization and lack of programmed recovery.

Maybe you just don’t see/feel any improvement in your strength or endurance, despite months of work in the gym.  That is probably due to not applying sufficient levels of stress to elicit the desired adaptation.

These things happen to ALL athletes at some point during their career.  However, the ones that have a plan simply adjust their plan appropriately and continue to progress.  

The ones that don’t have a plan continue to fumble around in the dark, always making it to the gym, but never actually making progress towards their goals.

  • Do I know how to correctly execute my plan?

If you already have a plan – congratulations! – you’re doing better than the vast majority of the gym going population.  You’re aiming to improve specific aspects of your athletic performance, you’ve researched which exercises to use to do that, and you know how to measure your progress so you know if your plan is working.  That’s a great start.

However, there is still one more important aspect of training that could be keeping you from effectively using your time in the gym – do you know how to actually execute your plan?

Let’s say you’ve decided that you want to improve your lower body strength endurance in an effort to improve pedaling power and extend the length of time that you can effectively practice on your bike.  You’ve decided that the exercises you need to use for this are primarily squat variations and you’re going to test your progress by measuring your time pedaling up a certain hill.

Which exact squat variations are you going to use and why?

Do you know how to safely and effectively perform those variations?

How are you going to react if your body starts to tell you it’s overstressed?

How are you going deal with surprises, like injury or sickness?

These questions are arguably even more important than those in number one.  Having a

plan is one thing, knowing how to put it into practice is a whole ‘nother story.

Unfortunately, this is where many people go wrong and it’s one of the worst places to do so.  If you are incorrectly performing movements, for example, you are not only wasting time, you may also be putting yourself at risk for injury both in the acute sense and the chronic sense, as improper execution can lead to imbalances, poor movement patterns, and, ultimately, the waiting room of your local physical therapist’s office.

If all this seems overwhelming, that’s OK.  You’re not required to be an expert in strength training in order to benefit from it, just like you don’t need to be a mechanic to drive a car.  However, if you want to upgrade your (metaphorical) engine, improve your (metaphorical) fuel efficiency, and increase your (metaphorical) horsepower, you probably need to either go to a qualified mechanic or spend some serious time learning how to do it on your own.  Otherwise, the best case scenario is that you waste a bunch of time and end up paying a mechanic anyway.  In the worst case scenario, you screw up your engine and end up putting the mechanic’s kids through college.

Sign up for our newsletter for more about strength and conditioning for action sports athletes.  

If you’re ready to hire your “mechanic”, get started today with a free consultation.

Don’t Get Stuck With Tunnel Vision

So often we tend to focus on the obvious.  When what really may be needing the most attention seems to most to not have any direct relationship.  This is coaching at its finest and one of the things that I personally believes separates great coaches from good ones.

These last two weekends I have finally able to get on bikes with some of our athletes and this is always fun for me but it also puts me in a funny situation.  I am definitely not on the level of our athletes when it comes to their sports and they tend to babysit, which I am thankful for, but they also need to ride.

Well anyway when it comes to mtn biking I am probably the most out of my element because it is so much lighter than my dirt bike and it freaks me out.  Especially when it comes to cornering.  I have been maybe 5 times now and pretty much live in the butt puckered holy crap I may die space most of the time.  Again largely in corners.  I walk thru the check list in my head of what Im supposed to do, Ive watched out athletes ride, Ive listened to them coach people but it was never clicking.  I wasn’t able to stay forward on the bike in the “attack” position to let the bike do what it can do.  I couldn’t figure it out.

Within 1/2 of our first run last Friday with Amanda Cordell, Landen Powell and Mitch Ropo, Amanda ever so nonchalantly looks up from her phone , because she had enough time waiting for me to check emails, and says “don’t pinch your knees like that.  You are losing balance in the corners.”  Well in my mind I disagreed.  This is very different from what we do in motocross and just from what made sense in my head.  So I gave some snotty comment back, told her she was still not funny, and we started back down the trail.  Luckily she was way in front of me and couldn’t watch me take her advice.  So first corner comes up, I take her advice and HOLY CRAP, railed the corner. (for me anyway)  That was it.  Adjusting what I was doing with my legs allowed me to get into and stay in the proper position with my upper body.

One of the keys to coaching is realizing that we have an end goal to accomplish and instead of giving out cues to fix every little thing its about finding the 1 thing that fixes 5 things at one time.  Being able to figure this out for clients and athletes is huge.  We so often over coach or just don’t coach the right thing.  We get tunnel vision and assume if the arms are out of position that the arms must be the problem.

Open the eyes up and look at the whole picture.  You may see something totally different.

Kick some ass today.

The Gym Doesn’t Replace Your Sport Itself

I get asked quite a often by some of the action sports athletes we work with to make sure that their training is as relevant and functional to their sport as possible. This isn’t exactly what the purpose of a strength training program is. There is not much that goes on during a motocross race or downhill run, on a wakeboard or snowboard, or in a ring that a barbell or other gym equipment can truly replicate. To be honest, that’s not our goal. For athletes outside of barbell sports, doing that sport is vital to your success. The training program we use in the gym is to increase your “functional” strength as it is relative to the sport you are doing to reduce risk of injury during the sport itself. No amount of “functional” training will duplicate what will be gained from spending time on your dirtbike or wakeboard. Just like in wrestling. I can get you strong as hell and conditioned out of your mind, but its still not going to compare to having that opponent grinding you into the mat.

So our goal is to make sure you can get the absolute most out of your training of the sport you are doing by getting you stronger and better conditioned in the gym. No amount of strength or conditioning will make you a more technically sound rider. But it will help you to maximize your practice time.

Join our newsletter by clicking here and we’ll hook you up with our free Off-The-Bike Training Template to help you get started.  You can also check out our training options by clicking here.

How to Beat Arm Pump

Welp, I’m not gonna lie, I don’t believe there is one particular thing that actually gets ride of arm pump all together.  I can easily make the argument that the stronger we get your grip via fat grip carries and holds the less you would have to work to hold onto the bars and therefore you would not fatigue your grip so quickly.  Then I can just as easily argue that the more muscle and strength you have in your forearms the harder you will be squeezing and therefore building up more arm pump because with added muscle comes the ability to fatigue faster. So now where do we go?

I strongly believe that arm pump is a factor of being comfortable on your bike and riding with proper efficient technique. BUT, we can definitely help with that.  Our number one focus with all our athletes is proper movement mechanics and efficient movement.  We want them to understand where their stability should be coming from when they are in the proper riding position, and how to most effectively stay in that position.

We have gotten great feedback from some of our athletes that are out running clinics like Landen Powell.  He has been able to immediately reduce arm pump in the riders he is working with by helping them use more efficient techniques that use more of the entire body than just the arms and shoulders.  Being able to combine great on bike coaching with great off bike training and coaching we have found a killer combo that can’t be beat.

We do utilize a lot of upper body conditioning that hits grip greatly and I strongly believe that it definitely helps.  Everything from kb swings, slam ropes, clubs, to heavy farmers walks.  I don’t believe there is ever a need to have a weak grip.  But still nothing beats being efficient on the bike and comfortable.  Nerves creep in and we get tense and we squeeze.  It just happens.  This is another reason that we begin all our sessions in the gym focusing on breathing.  We want all our athletes to know how to properly breath and brace to relieve stress and tension in our bodies. This is exactly what we want our athletes focused on at the start of the race.

So with all that said what are our favorite exercises for arm pump?

  1. KB Swing
  2. Fat Grip Farmers Walks
  3. 1-Arm DB Rows
  4. Planks
  5. Lat Pulldowns
  6. Chest Supported Iso Holds
  7. Chaos Shrugs
  8. Battle Ropes

But what beats all of these is good riding mechanics and using your bike and body efficiently.

If you aren’t training with us already, check out our programs to get the most out of these movements, while also becoming stronger, faster, and more stable (on the bike and off).  We also offer online programs for those of you who can’t make it to the gym.

See you guys on the Dirt!

A Parent’s Perspective

It’s now been about 9 months since my kids have been training with Deacon and the

SISU Strong team and it has had so many positives impacts for my kids and for our

family. It has always been our philosophy as parents that if we surround our children

with good people and role models, the chances of our kids being happy, successful, and

productive would increase dramatically. Well, we hit the jackpot with the Andrews

family and his team!

There are many gyms and trainers out there but the trick is finding one that is doing it

for the right reasons. Here are the traits were looking for:

-Positive atmosphere

-Focus on developing good work habits for young athletes

-Teaching lessons that training and working hard for what you want in life is a

lifestyle, not something you do every once in a while or just before a race

-Measures their Athletes INDIVIDUALLY.

-Striving to be their best…not someone else’s best.

-Being supportive but also honest with their athletes on where they are.

-Someone who will pat them on the back but also kick them in the butt when necessary.

-Put their well being, physically and mentally ahead of any results.

You might notice something is missing from the list. (Results). Results come

naturally when the above is done right. Here are the results/ improvements we have


-Responsibility and follow through – kids rarely miss a session and when they do

they make it up. They feel a responsibility to the program to put maximum effort in

and has taught them the important life lesson of “always follow through with your

promises and goals”.

-Increased self confidence- We have seen this on and off the track. Believing in

themselves and having the confidence they will succeed.


-Time management- Being able to balance school, training, racing and being

teenagers successfully.

These are the things that are most important to us as parents and we could not be

happier with the results!

Deacon and his team do it right!

PS….You may ask, what about the results on the track? Well, just look at how ALL the

athlete’s in the program have been performing. I dare you to find any program’s

athletes doing it better and seeing the improvement like this one!


Sea Otter Recap

Last week I was lucky enough to head down to the 2016 Sea Otter Classic.  I felt like this was my initiation into the mtb community.  I honestly had no idea what to expect.  Luckily I had Amanda Cordell and Joey Foresta showing me the ropes and I don’t think I could have been in better company.  Both of these riders were doing firsts this weekend.   This was also Amanda’s first Sea Otter trip so I wasn’t alone there.  She went down to race Dual Slalom, her first time ever, and Downhill.  Joey went down to make his Pro Debut in Dual Slalom at 14 years old, race downhill, and the pump track invitational.  To say the weekend was a success would be a massive understatement.  But not just because of how well these riders did, it was who they were that was the most refreshing part of the whole experience.

One thing I always tell people about Joey Foresta is that he always takes good care of me.  The first time he took me riding he always stayed right behind me to make sure I was ALIVE and to give me pointers.  I have never once felt like I was an inconvenience to him no matter what the situation.  That’s all fine and good at home where we train, but honestly when we go to these events its all about the athletes at that point.  It is my hope to make sure that they have everything they need to feel as relaxed as possible the days leading up to and on race day.  This was a huge weekend for Joey and I would have completely understood him being laser focused on the task at hand. Nope this kid just had a blast and literally included me in everything.  Im old to him, 20 years older to be exact which is way worse when you say it out loud, but he doesnt care.  He let me feel way cooler than I should probably and experience this with him.  

He started off the weekend with blowing our minds in the pump track invitational with a 3rd place finish next to 2 of the best in the business.  The next day he heads over to his pro debut in dual slalom.  There was no pressure here, but of course like any great athlete he wanted to do well and push himself and see where he stacked up.  If he had qualified for the main event that would have been a massive victory.  Well he did that.  We were stoked, he was pumped and then the round of 16 starts, he rode steady, rode his race, the other racer made a mistake and Joey moves on.  Sweet, luck is a part of racing.  Sure we all know it, but then the next round comes and Joey is staying super cool and collected and just racing his race.  Round of 8, the other racer makes a mistake, Joey takes the win again.  At this point I have just kind of stepped back away from the fence and to me it was very easy to see that Joey had made these top ranked Pros in the world nervous.  He wasn’t letting all the hype get to him, he was just racing and kicking ass, while they had to deal with all the pressure.  He went onto the finals and battled for a 2nd place finish in his Pro Debut.  It was incredible to be in the crowd and have noone know my relationship with Joey because I just got to sit and listen to them all talk about how blown away they were this kid.  And man it was awesome. So awesome.

The ticket here was that Joey controlled his emotions and stuck to his plan.  This is an impressive feat for any high level athlete but especially for a young athlete stepping onto this level for the first time.  To often we see athletes and just people in general being lead to much by their emotions.  We see it in fighting all the time.  The head games start to try and get the other fighter to get emotionally involved bc then we don’t think clearly.  And WE MAKE MISTAKES.  Using your emotions to drive you to work harder is fine. But if your emotions pull you off your game plan then its not so helpful.  This is a very tough lesson to learn and many don’t.  You can be passionate about what you do without be emotional.  Find your focus to win and do it.

The other rider I was there with was Amanda Cordell.  I had been working with Amanda for a few months now and knew that she was a driven chick that loved riding her bike and has some serious goals.  She was always fun to work with and it was very easy to see that she had a deep rooted passion in what she was doing.  Well, after 16 hrs in a car with me and getting to know her better I quickly became more and more impressed with this girl and was even more stoked to work with her moving forward.  Not only was she just a badass amazing person to get to know, she too took me under her wing and let me experience this weekend with her and actually introduced me to people.  I think I only embarrassed her about 15 times.  Anyone that knows me, knows that I just kind of say what I think whether or not you want to hear it.  I always tell an athlete that I work with that my job is to tell them what they need to hear and not what they want to hear.  So Im sure I drove Amanda a little crazy.

One of my favorite parts of being at this festival with her was that I got to watch this girl that to me was “famous” and a “big deal” walk around and just be in awe of the people she got to meet and talk too.  You want to feel good, just go to a bike event with Amanda and you will watch her light up and love every second of it.  This is a girl that is definitely not taking anything that she has worked so hard to get for granted.  She is only working harder.  The only thing that I really told her throughout the weekend was that she belonged there.  This is one of the most independent women I have ever met and man she has no fear to go after it on a bike.  She had never raced dual slalom before and after some heckling she got after and finished 8th among many of the women that she looks up to as a racer.  I was incredibly proud to get to be there with her to support her and watch her chase her dreams.

She also really challenged me to grow in my own confidence as a coach.  She helped me to see how very often I am limiting myself by my own insecurities. Having athletes that are also family is why we have one of the coolest programs out there.  I strongly believe that.  After we celebrated Saturdays success we finally got to sleep to get up early for her to race downhill.  Amanda killed it. She finished 12th and took away some massive confidence knowing that she does belong on the world stage with these other ladies and man I can’t wait to be racing with her again soon.  We have stepped up her training and she is not even close to her peak.  Stoked to watch this journey with her.  She taught me so much and made me laugh a lot.  Will never forget this weekend.

All in all this weekend really solidified to me how lucky I am to work with the athletes that I do and how much we truly are like a family.  We celebrate together, we struggle together, and we pick each other up.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.  We have some other big trips planned this summer to travel with all our amazing athletes and I can’t wait.

See you guys at the tracks.

Give and Take

We see it all the time.

Aspiring athletes see their heroes doing something in training and think “the only way to beat him/her is to do more than he/she is doing.” It’s a natural reaction – we all think that more is better. If you want to be better, work harder, right? Yes and no – we covered some of that in our last post.

If “work harder” means make your performance a priority and do whatever it takes to improve it (including managing recovery), then YES. If “work harder” means pile on additional training every day until you turn yourself into a quivering pile of overtrained goo, then NO.

In training, there should always be a give and take. The more time our athletes get to be on the bike, the less high intensity training we do in the gym. We don’t just keep adding additional work. If you’re trying to burn the candle at both ends, it won’t last long. Some athletes get this and some don’t. The ones that don’t get it now will get it eventually, when their bodies force them to stop.

One of the laws of athletic performance is that you don’t get stronger/faster/better-conditioned in the gym. Those things develop during your recovery periods, as your body adapts and responds to the training that you did in the gym. If you constantly interrupt your recovery periods with additional training, you never give yourself the chance to fully realize the gainz from your training sessions.

That’s where the give and take comes in. To get the most out of training, we have to strike the right balance between work and recovery. That balance is different for each individual athlete, but once we find that balance, we have to maintain it. If we put in more work somewhere, we need to take some away somewhere else.

That’s why, as coaches, we have to make it a priority to know our athletes. Training is not an event, it’s a process that keeps on going whether you’re in the gym, on your bike, eating dinner, or sleeping in your bed. If we just focus on what happens during the few hours our athletes are with us, we miss the big picture.

So, when we ask you “how are you feeling?” or “did you ride this weekend?”, it’s not just small talk. We genuinely want to know so we can adapt your training (if necessary) to account for that additional work/stress. Technology is now taking this to the next level, as Heart Rate Variability monitors are able to tell us more and more about athlete’s recovery and baseline stress levels before they even step foot in the gym…more on that in a later post!

Does Hard Work Pay Off?

“Well before you freak out on me and think that I am going to tell you that success in any area of your life has nothing to do with hard work, I PROMISE you that’s not what I am saying.  One thing I will say is that sometimes we may miss the mark on what we decide is hard work and leave it as something that is purely a physical state of exhaustion and miss the important part of the mind.

Last week we got to sit in on a Panel with some of the most innovative minds of Human Performance that are around today.  The Thin Air Park City event was mind blowing.  To hear what some of these incredible people are doing to push human performance beyond all realms thought possible was tough to even wrap my head around.  I was just hoping that they would randomly come up and ask me to be a guinea pig and see if we can get this ole noggin back in line. Im still holding out for that.

One of the interesting things though was that none of these incredible scientists left out the idea that understanding our athletes as coaches is still and will always be one of the most incredible tools we have as a coach.  One thing that is for sure though is that if we aren’t innovating we are doing a disservice to our athletes and that is unacceptable.  So I promise you that we are and will always be improving our methods at Sisu Strong Training Facility.

Back to my initial point though.

We’ve all said it.  We have looked over at what someone else was doing to prepare and said I am going to work “harder” than that person.  If they are riding for 2 hrs a day, I am going to ride for 3.  I don’t care how much it sucks, I am going to push my body to the limit and have no regrets because I know that I gave it my all.  I gave 110%!  

Well, my argument is that going about it like this may leave you short of your goals.  Your “HARD WORK” didnt pay off like you had hoped.  What’s even worse is that what if because you never took the time to get your mind right, you were never able to get your body to where you believed it could be.  

I 100% believe that the greatest athletes in the world are the ones that are willing to do what the others aren’t.  But we have to stop believing that means we  look at what others are doing and do more.  The greatest in the world are the ones that are doing exactly what they need to do.  They are not worried about what the person next to them is doing, they are completely focused on what it is that they need to do to get the job done.  They are setting the standard. They are the one that everyone else is trying to copy,  and I say let them try and copy you.  

So for me, “Hard Work” and athletes that are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed means just that.  They will do whatever it takes. Nowhere in that statement does it say you must run yourself into the ground until you can’t anymore.  That is much easier than having the mental fortitude to be able to not go 100% all the time.  It is being mentally strong enough to do the boring tedious things that not everyone is willing to do.  Working hard physically is easy on your mind.  Train your mind and then your body.

Man I messed this up as a kid.  I just didn’t quite get it.  I never had the right coach that could really get thru to me to understand this.  But I am glad I have learned it now because I still have a lot ahead of me.  Whether it is in athletics, business, relationships, just life.  Being able to take risks and push through when its necessary and dial it back in and say not today are incredibly valuable traits.  There needs to be a healthy combination of the two though to make greatness happen.
Are you ready to put in the “Hard Work?”  For most of us the “hard” part is about truly being accountable to ourselves for what we really have to do to be great.  Because those are never the most fun things to do. But man they sure are worth it when its all said and done.

Lessons Learned

Over the last 8 months as we began building Sisu Strong Training Facility out here in Utah it became very clear that this wasn’t going to be a normal deal.  I promised myself that I would stay true to where my passions were as a coach, but that I wasn’t going to try and fit it into any real particular mold.  The goal was to let SSTF turn into whatever it turned into because I knew it would be amazing.

I definitely never imagined how unique it would be though.  Our OG’s out here were Nick Thompson, Rich Larsen, Sophia Foresta, Joey Foresta, and Cody Kelley.  It pretty much came about by meeting them and asking if I could train them.  Why they said yes, I have no idea.  I can only assume that it was my amazing good looks and boyish charm.  

From there we slowly began to build an amazing team of athletes that we have been able to work with.  The one thing I didn’t see coming was that we would quickly become involved with some amazing adaptive athletes.  I also never imagined the impact these athletes would have on my personal issues of satisfaction with where I was physically.  I began finding it very hard to find time to consistently train and that was causing me to shrink about 20 lbs, lose a ton of strength, and fall into a spot of being pretty bummed with the way I looked.  I don’t have a huge self image issue, but for some reason this was getting to me quite a bit.  I would go train when I got the chance and then get bummed that I was so far off from where I was that I wouldn’t even finish my workout.  It was becoming a vicious cycle that was affecting me on all sorts of levels.  I knew that for me to feel better on my dirtbike being 20lbs lighter was a bonus, but that was still hard to wrap my head around because I liked being the big guy.  The more athletes we began to work with, the more I began to come to terms with my silly image issues because I also knew that I was helping them reach their goals.  No matter what, we will never look the way we want.  The people we see on TV and say “man, I wish I looked like that” go home every night and see flaws just like you and I do.  Probably even more so.  Then pop in Kolleen and Tyler.  These two quickly put stuff into perspective for me personally.  Kolleen is a below the knee amputee and Tyler is a parapalegic from T-6 down.  Here I had two athletes that I knew no matter what they said would always look in the mirror and just like me be unsatisfied with their physique, but they had way more reason to be than I did.  Neither of them accept that excuse either, which I love.  But these two athletes were jacked.  It was clear they loved the gym, but I could easily see the lack of carryover to performance in how they were training and I felt like I could help them.  What an arrogant jerk.  I had no two feet to stand on (sorry guys, had to) to justify that thought but I felt like I could and I told them that.  

I began working with Kolleen Conger, and was very nervous about it because who was I? What knowledge did I have of an amputee?  I went through lots of self doubt about whether or not I was qualified to work with an athlete without a leg, but worked hard to push those doubts aside and help her exactly how I would any other athlete.  There was and still is lots of troubleshooting to figure out how we get her to move as efficiently as possible with good movement patterns, but I can’t even begin to brag about her hard work enough.  She has gone from struggling to do a box squat to just the other day knocking out 100 goblet squats for time with 20% of her bodyweight.  Not just getting work done, but doing it with good mechanics.  She is on her bike out there racing in the desert and kicking some serious ass.

Kolleen has been tearing it up in the desert these last few months and came away with a first place finish.  Out there in the desert she has literally battled everything from bumps and bruises to her leg falling off, yet she got the job done.  Pretty badass person to be around.

Then came Tyler Kilmer.  I had been following Tyler on social media and new that he had been paralyzed for 4 years and was actually on a little bit of a downhill with some of the health and physical issues that come from his injury. I finally reached out to him after I saw a post that he wasn’t able to ride his dirtbike anymore because of spasms and other health issues.  Again I was putting myself in a situation where I had a lot of doubts on whether or not I was qualified to be working with an adaptive athlete like Tyler.  I mean, I’m basically just a self-taught strength and conditioning coach with lots of really smart friends that I reach out to all the time with questions.  We talked on the phone. I was very open that I wasn’t an expert in dealing with adaptive athletes but that I did think I could help him.  The only other reservation I had about working with Tyler was that his arms were way bigger than mine and it kind of annoyed me a little. But, I just reminded myself that I can out squat him and found a little self-respect again.  I do have to flex my quads at him sometimes still since we have begun training him for more performance than bodybuilding and he doesn’t like that all the time, but hey jerk, your arms are still bigger than mine. HAHA!

With both of these athletes we had to address some imbalances and movement patterns.  They had both fallen into the rut of “I’m gonna move this weight by whatever means necessary” instead of “I’m going to get stronger in the manner that will best carry over to performance on my bike and also just in life”.  With Kolleen we had to drastically change our training focus for her to get her backside more involved.  She was jacked, people looked at Kolleen and saw this strong badass mom, with one leg riding a dirtbike better than 90% of the riders out there with two legs.  But me, being the asshole that I am, saw a chick that was jacked everywhere except where she needed to be.  We tell all of our clients all the time that we don’t move for the sake of moving in the gym and we don’t just get strong to get strong.  We want to move right and get strong in the correct movement patterns that will benefit them and improve performance in life and sport.

So when Tyler came to us it was the same situation.  Here was a dude that was huge.  I am not joking when I tell you that I still get jealous of this dudes muscle development in his upper body.  But as we began going through some movements it was glaringly obvious that he had a shit ton of muscle that wasn’t serving him much purpose at all.  My only hope was that he would stick with me long enough through our boring ass workouts to see the benefits in his overall performance.  I knew this was going to be tough.  Because I myself had been struggling with the fact that I knew I had to give up some size and ways that I liked to train to be where I wanted to be on my dirtbike.  The first few days with Tyler we had to find ways to stabilize him because he would almost fall forward out of his chair just doing scapular retraction and protraction.  Basically, he had to reach out with one arm as far as he could and then retract his shoulder blade as far as he could.  Tyler has no feeling below his ribs, so there was no core stability to hold him up.  Starting out, we had to have him either be strapped into the chair with a belt or use one arm to brace on his leg so he didn’t fall forward.  I remember having the thought of “no wonder riding his dirtbike isn’t fun for him anymore.”  

After weeks of me grinding him through boring workout after boring workout, and very rarely ever letting him get a good swole session in (which we all love), we were progressing on to med ball throws, cable rows, band rows and tons of other exercises that were much more fun.  We used a squat belt to strap him to his chair to keep him from falling forward.  A few months in we had him doing med ball throws with my business partner and other coach, Acy Watson, who hadn’t worked with Tyler much and hadn’t watched the struggles we had at the very beginning with Tyler just being able to hold himself up.  As they were progressing through the series of throws I hear Acy ask him if he needed the belt fastened or not. I quickly looked up to realize that he had been doing the med ball throw with no belt holding him into the chair and he was sitting in perfect position and 100% stable.  We looked at each other and my excitement was actually even higher than his.  I had to actually walk out of the room because that was a huge deal and it made me pretty emotional.  It was a monumental step for someone who had quickly become like a brother to me and I knew that he also realized how big that was.  He just kept on with his workout and just like Tyler does, he worked.  We now having him doing cable rows without a belt, he was ripping through the desert on his dirtbike a few weeks ago with me and his dad. I was following way behind more than anything, and now we are onto bigger and radder things.

So I guess my point with this blog post is that we will never be satisfied with the way we look.  It’s always very easy to focus on the areas we can improve, but it’s about focusing on the things we can do.  I have been told so many times in the last few months how skinny I look, and man it drove me nuts.  I’m 230lbs of straight up sexy bearded ginger love, but definitely smaller than I used to be.  I may not get to spend the time in the gym getting swoled up all the time anymore, but as long as I can perform at the level I need to be able to train with our amazing athletes in and out of the gym, I’m good.  Hell yeah, I lose sight of that sometimes. But perspective on what is important to you is the most vital part of happiness and self-satisfaction. If I was back to 250lbs jacked and strong but not getting the chance to snowboard with my wife and daughter, ride mountain bikes with our MTB crew, rip through dirt with our MX racers and chase our BMX athletes around the track, and help them improve in the gym I would be way less happy with my life.  

It’s ok to lose focus here and there, but do not let it consume you.  Remember what it is that truly makes you happy in this life and get after it.

And always remember that your will to persevere through adversity will determine the level of greatness you achieve.