Category Archives: Rack Chat

Online Coaches (The 4 Golden Rules)


Throwback Thursday article regarding the surge in online coaches; this was written by two well known people in the industry, Dave Tate (Elite FTS) and John Meadows. Enjoy!

“With the recent surge in online coaches, I thought I would share a little something Dave Tate and I put together (mostly Dave) to help you assess if someone is worthy of your hard earned dough.
Here are the 4 Golden Rules:
1. What is their education? … Do they have a degree? In a related field? BS, Masters, PHD? Certifications? Continuing Education? Internships? Work History? Mentors? Self Thought? It’s very important that they understand how to translate education, studies, etc into actual client scenarios too. This is critical. On a scale of 1-5 where do they rank? 5 would be advanced degree, internship and 2-3 very good mentors. Work back from there. If they are only self thought they get a 1 or 2. 2.
2. What have they done? Do they lift? Did they play sports? What level? How long? How long to get to the top level? How long did they stay at top level? What adversity did they face? If they are so good at coaching, they should have at least been able to get results with themself.
A 5 would be the person who busted ass for years to get into the top 10%. They faced adversity and had to earn every pound and sacrificed and paid a price for it. A 1 would be the person who did nothing. A 2 would be the genetic freak/anomoly who hit the top fast and never really faced adversity.
3. Who have they trained? Who are their clients? Do they have any? Did they ever have any? What hands on experience do they have? Have they created people better than they were? Have they worked with beginners? Intermediate? Advanced?
A 5 would have worked with every skill level and has made people better than they were (are). They have years of experience doing so and have many tools in the box. A 1 lies about who they have trained. I also wouldn’t give a 5 to those who only work with advanced or pro athletes. A real coaches knows not just how to work with pros but also how to create them.
4. Who coached them and who have they trained with? Do they know how to listen? Follow directions? Were they coached by the best or by nobody at all? Have they trained with champions (it rubs off). Do they know when to drive and push hard and when to back down? Do they know how a squat should look, feel and sound? Do they know basic gym manners.
A 5 has been coached by the best and has learned respect for it. A one has never been coached by anyone who pushed them hard, disagreed with and learned to respect. Typically these are know it alls. Avoid at all costs. If you find a perfect 20 its REALLY rare. The goal would be to find a 16 or better. They won’t be cheap but they will get you where you need to go and the extra money you do spend will be nothing compared to the medical expense and downtime working with a 12 or below. Hope this helps.”

Rack Chat: Goals, Vids, and More

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I wanted to post up some recent workout vids I took over the past few weeks or so. I really don’t have any specific goals planned with the exception of breaking past my old PR on deadlift at 350lbs. I pulled an easy 345# last week and was capable of more but decided to leave it at that. Otherwise, just looking to pack on some size and lower my BF % a bit. I am hanging in at around 185lbs which is almost an ideal weight for me as I don’t have any desire to be much heavier. As with most 30+ year olds I am battling various issues in and around my pelvic region; I work a FT job that plops me in a chair for nearly half the day. Couple that with an hour in the car and my hamstrings, hip flexors, and lower back are a constant battle for me. I continue to do my dynamic warm ups, foam rolling, and post workout stretching which has provided a bit of relief. As with anything, I need to stay consistent or it is all out the door. Thanks for listening.



Rack Chat: Hard Gainers

I wanted to revisit an article that Along the lines of posted years back regarding weight gain.  I am a hard gainer, and I know exactly where he is coming from when describing hard gainer questions about gaining weight. When I wanted to get bigger and was hovering around 170lbs soaking wet, I ate, and ate, and ate. I didn’t care what I ate, what was in it, how many calories it had, I just plowed through it. It a month or so I went from 170 to close to 200lbs. I think the moral of the story is, if you need to gain weight, eat foods that most people don’t eat because it makes them gain weight, and eat lots of it. Will you gain fat, yep, I did, and so did he.


From the Article:

“I swiftly plumped up by eating copious amounts of breakfast food, my favorite food group.  I’ve talked to many “hard gainers” in my lifetime, each one proclaiming that they cannot gain a single pound no matter what they eat.  I usually have a hearty belly laugh.  Like this one.

Then I ask if they’ve tried eating large amounts of breakfast foods throughout the day.

“No.  How often?”

“Like all the time.”

“Won’t I get fat?”


“But that’s not how bodybuilder’s do it.  I heard this bodybuilder friend that-”

“I don’t care.  You’re not a bodybuilder.  You just told me that you had trouble gaining weight, but now it sounds like you don’t want to do that.”

Yes, it would be great if we could all plan our meals well and eat clean and often like a bodybuilder.  But it’s expensive and time consuming.  Get the calories in.  Keep eating your fruits and veggies.  And have fun eating like a big guy.”

The Link:

Rack Chat: To Spot or Not to Spot…


Spotting, we have all been told it is something that NEEDS to happen anytime we are lifting weights heavier than we are accustomed to. We spot on bench, we spot on squat, and we even spot on things like bicep curls and what not. I think spotting is important, don’t get me wrong. However, I don’t use a spotter, too many variables that could go wrong when asking for a spot (see video below). One recent really epic spotting mishap was when Brandon Lilly went down while squatting in competition. They had two side spotters, and one from behind and no one could have reacted fast enough, or been able to catch as much weight as was on it in time. I understand why the spotters are there, but there are certain circumstances in which spotters can do nothing to prevent major catastrophic fails…and you cant guess when they will happen.

Spotting Positives

  • Safety
  • Potential for gainz
  • Potential for more reps, or heavier weight

Spotting Negatives:

  • False sense of security
  • Spotters who do to much (see video)
  • Potential awkwardness…(see pic above)

Rack Chat: Trap Bar or Barbell Deadlift?

We all know the deadlift is a great strength building exercise, there is no argument there. But, I do understand why people avoid the exercise either while coaching or performing in their own routine. It is a somewhat difficult exercise to teach/learn, and if done incorrectly could pose potential problems with the lumbar spine area. With that said, if a coach does not teach deadlifts because of the potential learning curve than they are just being lazy. Not every exercise is going to be picked up in the first day, and the deadlift is no exception. I have been teaching the deadlift long enough to know it may take over a month to get your athlete to perform the deadlift in “acceptable” mode, acceptable meaning not perfect but also not injury inducing. The NSCA Journal did a research study on doing deadlifts with the trap bar, as well as the traditional barbell deadlfit. Much of the information was somewhat predictable, and somewhat known already, but I still enjoy reading studies to reaffirm what we all have been teaching to others.

Here is an exerpt from the NSCA article, precise and to the point:

“If the goal is to maximize recruitment of the erector spinae muscles and specifically target the lumbar area, the results of this study suggest that the deadlift should be performed with the straight barbell.”

“Strength and conditioning coaches searching for an alternative to the squat may find the deadlift performed with the hexagonal barbell to be an effective alternative. For individuals with a history of lower back pain or currently in the final stages of rehabilitation, performing the deadlift with the hexagonal barbell rather than the straight barbell may be a more prudent strategy to target the lumbar area while more evenly distributing the load between the joints of the body.”

Rack Chat: Avoiding Elbow Pain from Pull Ups


I can proclaim myself a pull-up-aholic; love them with a passion and could not see myself not having them in my program. However, at one point about a few years ago I was suffering from chronic elbow inflammation. I had this elbow pain for a number of months but had not tapered back or changed anything in my program to eliminate this pain. The pain was noticeable at all times however, it really worsened when I would do sets of pull ups or chin ups. I knew I didn’t want to eliminate the exercise from my routine so for months I suffered through the pain, hoping that it might subside like many of my other minor inflammations I have had over the years. However, after Reading through Jason Ferruggia’s on pull up elbow pain I was a changed man.  The article basically stated that if you have elbow pain from Pull Ups, change to neutral grip.  I changed, the pain went away within a month or so which was amazing. Check out the link below it could save your elbows because it definitely did for mine!!

Rack Chat: Sumo vs. Conventional Deadlift

In this installment of Rack Chat, I will decipher the difference between the sumo and conventional deadlift, and why this actually matters. The two deadlifts are fairly similar, pick the bar up off floor and place it back down, that is the deadlift in a nutshell. The major difference in the two is the set-up, biomechanics in the execution, and the dominant muscles involved. In my opinion, one is not better than the other, rather, either lift could be beneficial to different types of lifters (i.e. short, tall, long legs, long arms, stronger hips, stronger hams, etc.). I perform both lifts because I think each serves an important purpose in my programming. I am as “strong” on both, but I enjoy working the sumo more because of the fact that my low back feels better when performing. I went ahead and bullet pointed the the more interesting differences below for each lift, enjoy!!

Conventional Deadlift:


  • Hips farther from bar
  • Torso is more horizontal (more load on low back)
  • Hips might start in a higher position (depends on flexibility)
  • More hamstring dominant (requires more hip mobility)
  • More load on lower back (lumbar and sacrum)
  • Grip outside of legs
  • More shearing forces on lumbar spine

Sumo Deadlift:


  • Hips are closer to bar
  • Torso position is more vertical (less load on low back)
  • Hips start in lower position (may get lower depending on width of stance)
  • More load on hips and adductors (requires more groin flexibility)
  • Less load on low back (might be better for those with low back issues)
  • Grip inside of legs
  • Less shearing forces on lumbar spine

Rack Chat: Back Squats vs. Front Squats

There is a ongoing argument within the fitness community on which squat is better, the front squat, or the back squat. Lets call this the beer vs. wine debate. Some like wine, some like beer, others like none or both. In the end though we should all know beer has its place at the local watering hole, and wine serves its purpose at classed up dinner parties. This is probably a bad analogy but I going to run with it. I think the same can be said for front and back squats. I don’t think any one is better than the other, rather each one serves a specific purpose and both should be implemented in a strength program(given the clients limitations). I personally implement front, back, overhead, and box squat into my strength program. I find I enjoy the variety, each serves a purpose, and they keep my program dynamic and strength gains are maximized.

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There is a great article titled “A Biomechanical Comparison of Back and Front Squats in Health Trained Individuals” that goes over each lift, and the differences between the two. It is a good read, check it out.

There was another blog posted on the Elite FTS website on the advantages of the front squat which sparked quite a debate in the comments section. I would encourage you to read the comments, pretty funny stuff.