Do You Have a Big Enough Reason to Exercise?

add exercise to your calendar

The other day I sent a message to one of my clients who sees me every two weeks for a single session. I was checking in to see if he wanted to workout and offered him three times over three days. Here was our exchange:

Steve: I have to pass this week, sorry.

Me: No problem. Wherever you are do your best to get to the gym or do something active! :-)

Steve: I will try.

Me: Try? Hahaha. No, no… Calendarize it! :-)… 

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The Better Way to Squat


When did you first learn to squat?

Do you remember your first visit to the gym? Did you follow instructions from a fitness magazine or a personal trainer?

Well guess what? You don’t know squat, Jack!

The truth is that you didn’t learn how to squat from a personal trainer, a YouTube video, or a glossy men’s health and fitness magazine.

You learned how to squat so long ago that you don’t remember — as soon as you started to walk you learned how to squat.

At the beginning you might’ve fallen down on your butt, but with a little bit of practice you figured it out on your own.

Just look at how a baby or a little kid squats all the way down, butt almost touching the ground (this is sometimes called the ‘rice-patty’ squat). They ‘sit’ naturally in a squat, knees out to the side to accommodate their balance…. 

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How to Defeat Analysis Paralysis — At the Gym and in Life


One early Saturday morning I went into the club where I train my clients and had an interesting conversation with someone I’ve worked with at the gym. I asked Jena how her deadlifting was coming along, since I had taught her this lift a month earlier.

She said it wasn’t going that well so I asked what was going on. She said that she hasn’t been working out very much. Again, I asked why.

What she told me surprised me but it wasn’t anything I haven’t heard before. She said she would workout, but felt that she didn’t know what she was doing, whether she was doing the exercises correctly, and that she was ‘researching’ instead if training.

Jena was exhibiting a classic case of ‘analysis paralysis’.

This reminded me of a great article by James Clear called, “6 Truths About Exercise That Nobody Wants to Believe.”

One of the most important messages in the article is to prioritize volume before intensity when starting to train. You might be asking yourself, ‘What does this have to do with Jennifer’s situation?’

When you learn a new lift at the gym — let’s use the above example of the deadlift — you can’t be expected to lift very heavy in a highly technical lift until you have mastered the lift. In the beginning, it’s all about a lot of repetition at low weight to improve technique and your ability to manage heavier loads over time…. 

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Sweat Your Tabata Ass Off!

Woke up feeling refreshed this morning. I took my dog, Buster, out for a short walk and to get a double espresso from one of my favourite coffee shops in the neighbourhood, Jet Fuel.Buster and espresso

We’ve been experiencing a ‘humidity-wave’ in Toronto this year, and on Monday the single largest rain fall in Toronto’s history caused major flooding, damage, a complete subway shut down and power outages.

Suffice to say, the heat and humidity suck my energy and willpower to workout. It was getting hotter and more humid by the minute and I was starting to drag, but I wasn’t going to bail – at least the gym is air-conditioned.

I was planning to deadlift this morning, but I could not face wearing knee-high socks and long pants (to protect the skin on my legs when the bar travels up my shins). The thought of that was making me sweat…. 

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How Do I Get Muscles Like That?

Back and shoulder muscles

One night after playing volleyball, I took off my shirt to change and one of my teammates pointed towards my shoulder and asked, “How do I get muscles like that?”

His question made me think. People will ask about things they want that they see in others, but they have no real desire to take action to get what they want themselves.

Back and shoulder musclesI could’ve answered my teammate in an unforgiving fashion, something like, ‘Do you lift weights? How many days a week do you work out? Do you eat five or more meals per day? Do you know how much protein to eat to build muscle? Do you know how to lift properly? Do you have a long-term strength training program? Do you even know what the muscle is that you’re pointing to is called? Have you ever hired a personal trainer?’ Instead, I answered him in a general way, saying there is no single answer and results comes from many habits practiced over a long period of time…. 

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Why Do We Fail at Some Goals but Easily Achieve Others?

Recently I had a meeting with a former client to decide if he was going to start training with me again. He had lost 60 pounds training with me over the course of one year in which he trained two times per week, learning about nutrition and meal planning, and submitting a weekly diet log for analysis. He then began training on his own to see if he could maintain working out and eating healthy without coaching. He’s experienced ups and downs in staying consistent and we’ve met occasionally to implement new training programs.

I was going to email him, since I hadn’t seen him in months, and, as the universe often works, I saw him that very same day at the club. I asked how he was doing with his training and weight loss. He laughed and said he was planning to call me. He’d experience a few setbacks and wanted to get back on track.

We met a week later. Many of his friends were encouraging him, saying, ‘But it’s so easy. You should just work out’ and, ‘why don’t you do cardio five days a week? Why can’t you just workout on your own?’ What’s easy for his friends to say and do was not as easy for him…. 

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Training Tips for Runners

I received a message from a friend on Facebook about training for a half-marathon. Although my answer is relatively generic in response, I thought it would be useful to share on my blog.

Hey Darren!
I’m training for a half-marathon this Nov ( for the charity I work on) and I was wondering if you have any good exercise tips? I’m doing two short runs and one long run a week, and two days of weight training (focusing more on quads, upper body). Any good exercises you suggest for runners? Thanks hope all is well and congrats on the anniversary again!
~ Paul.

Here is my response:

First, I’d suggest a running coach (which I’m not) if this is a sport you want to pursue past this marathon. I can look into contacts. Someone to help you with running form…. 

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The Weekly Spin: 31 May 2012

I’m a bit behind with my Weekly Spin. What gives? The Victoria Day long weekend in Canada was a 4-day vacation for me and I simply got side-tracked, and dare I say it, a bit lazy the week after. Life is like that. Sometimes we lose focus on what we want and need to do. I know that I need to write. More. Often. PERIOD. It’s also a thing that scares me the most, because I know that my honest and personally revealing writings are my best work. Stay tuned! I am on track to deliver some meaningful writings.

In the meantime, here are some useful health and fitness tips for the week.

Sunscreen: The Good and the Bad

I think this is a bit of a ‘buyer beware’ article, since I don’t know who the writer is, or her qualifications. However, the information is useful and one can easily use Google to learn more about the chemicals you probably want to avoid in sunscreens.

Vitamin D: The Next Cold & Flu Cure-All?

I’ve been reading a lot about the benefits of Vitamin D, and how it can also improve testosterone production in men. I’m going to have a blood test done to see what my Vitamin D level is. I’m excited to know the result considering I spend a lot of time outdoors on a daily basis walking my dog.

The Perfect Pushup and Variations

Here’s a great description and video of the perfect pushup:

I did 3 sets of 10 reps and a fourth set of 20 reps during my workout this week. Love the one-second hold above the ground. If you found this too easy, then add some variations like these, just because you’re a masochist!

7 Lies of Health & Fitness

Tom Dyer is a friend of mine and he and his business partner, Gavin, run Ultimate City Bootcamps in London, UK. They’ve just launched a 14-day fat burning program that is worth the investment. These guys know what they are talking about and they have the physiques to prove it. Check out Gavin’s article on what he considers to be some of the biggest fitness lies.

All About Nutrition & Mercury Toxicity

Everything you need to know about mercury toxicity from Precision Nutrition. How to best avoid it, minimize it and reduce its use in industrial production.

9 Training Strategies for Knee Pain

Great strength training techniques to deal with knee pain, starting with basic, corrective exercises for a beginner or someone just out of an injury, to more complex movements for a more advanced lifter.


And finally, a shout-out to a great blog I just discovered from a (former?) member of the Adelaide Club, where I train my clients. Beth is a great person. I’ve chatted with her a few times on the gym floor and was fascinated to read her story about having Asperger’s Syndrome. Read her blog here.

Until next week, be well!

© 2012 Darren Stehle. All Rights Reserved.