Posture strength training

I was embarrassed of my height  while I was growing up. As a result, I slouched over and had crappy posture. My mother and my teachers were always telling me to “sit up straight” but I never listened.

It’s easy to tune them out right?

However, this problem carried over into my adulthood.  Here I am, a personal trainer, teaching proper exercise technique and getting my clients in great shape, but I was missing a key ingredient, good posture.

Good posture being……..


Are you good or evil?

Training with poor posture led to many physical therapy visits which entailed doing unmentionable things to stability balls, lifting pink dumbbells, breathing into balloons and getting wrapped up with resistance bands.

Oh, good times.

Don’t get me wrong; this was all beneficial, even though at times I wanted to do this. But what I longed for was to hold heavy weight in my hands and to get after it.

Now, we’ve all heard that as a society we sit too much and hunch over our computers and smart phones a ton.  In addition to that, some gym goers (not me of course) spend an inordinate amount time working on their mirror muscles like biceps curls in the squat rack.

Also, if you’re working in the strength and conditioning field or you’re a workout fiend, you’ve heard that you must pull (rows, chin up and lat pulldowns) two to three more times than you push.

This is advice almost all of us should still follow because every gym has a guy that skips leg or back day, and it’s not a pretty site.

In addition, skipping body parts for the sake of vanity is a recipe for injury. And some people will laugh behind your back at your ape-like appearance and those skinny calf muscles.

Nobody likes to be laughed at, except this guy.


However, before it gets to that pink dumbbell stage, or if you just want to improve your posture and get strong simultaneously , start inserting the following exercises into your routine.

They may be simple, but they’re not easy. However, your posture will benefit.



Thought I’d start off with the hardest exercise first. There are many forms of overhead carries, but this one scared the bejesus out of me the most.  One false step and the barbell, you and the floor become one.

Just a little fear in your training can be motivating experience.  Maybe this explains barbell squats on a stability ball?

Why it’s good for posture

Overhead carries work on strengthening the upper back muscles such as the Upper Trapezius and Rhomboids, essential for healthy shoulder function and to avoid looking like an ape. Your mid-section is also stabilizing like crazy to avoid you biting the floor.

A person can never have enough upper back and core strength, in my humble opinion.

Programming considerations

This is a taxing movement, so program these near the beginning of your training, just after your big strength movement for the day.

Pairing the overhead walk in a superset with an upper body movement works best.  For example:

1A. Bent over barbell row, chin up or bench press variations.

1B. Overhead barbell carry- 20 steps forward, then 20 steps back.


Form considerations

 Setting up in the squat rack is ideal but clean and pressing a barbell overhead works too.

Get a wider than shoulder width grip on the bar, get your biceps by your ears, keep your lower ribcage down and avoid hyperextending your low back.

Take small, slow deliberate steps. Trust me on that one J



 Suitcase carries (holding weight on one side of your body) have been popularized by strength guru Dan John, so if they’re good enough for Dan, they’re good enough for you and me.  Enough said.


Why it’s good for posture

A lot us favor one side over the other when we carry bags over our shoulders or stuff in our hands. This can result in tilting our body over to one side to overcompensate. Over time this may cause problems.

Carrying a heavy dumbbell/kettle bell unilaterally can help iron those strength imbalances between your oblique muscles and grip strength.

Did I mention that core strength is important for posture and lifting heavy weight from the floor? Now I have.

Programming considerations

 You’re only limited by your imagination on inserting suitcase carries into your programming. However, when you’re doing carries as part of your main training, pair them with a movement that doesn’t demand a lot of grip strength.

For example:

1A. Bench press variation

1B. Suitcase carry- heavy 20 steps one hand then 20 steps in the opposite hand.



1A. Squat or hip thrust

1B. Suitcase carry- heavy 20 steps one hand then 20 steps in the opposite hand.



They can also be used as a finisher after your main training. Try this short but brutal circuit:

1A. One-handed kettle bell swings – 10 reps

1B. Suit case carry (in the same hand 20 steps)



Swap hands and repeat on the other side. Do one round every minute on the minute. If one round takes you 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds before you start your next round.

Do five to ten rounds or until your grip gives out. Good times.

Form considerations

 The age old cues “shoulders down and back” or “chest up” work well here. Checking your form in a mirror will help if you having trouble knowing if you’re overcompensating or not.



Strange name, but a very effective exercise. This was first introduced to me by French strength coach extraordinaire Anthony Deximer, who paired this with overhead squats.

Let’s just say we weren’t best buddies afterwards.


Why it’s good for posture

 We’ve all seen those guys doing dumbbell pullovers, hoisting those huge dumbbells while excessively arching their low back combined with their lower ribs protruding.

Hello, back problems.

The pullover with deadbug will counter lumbar extension (when reaching overhead) plus help stretch the lats while preventing the dreaded rounded-shoulder look.

This also doubles as a killer core stability drill, essential for moving big weights safely.

Programming considerations

Pairing this exercise in a superset when neutral spine and core stability is essential. For example:

1A. Overhead, back, front or goblet squat.

1B. Pullover with deadbug – 12 reps (six on each leg)



Or if it’s chest and arms day, pairing this exercise with any bench or any over press variation works as well.  For example:

1A. Dumbbell bench press or Push press

1B. Pullover with deadbug – 12 reps (six on each leg)



These are just a couple of examples. I’ll leave it up to you to get creative with your pairings.

Form considerations

 Keeping your lower ribs down and avoiding lumbar hyperextension is the point of this exercise, so do both. Performing at a slow, controlled tempo will help.

Keep your chin tucked (or form a double chin) to help maintain a neutral spine. Breathe out as you lower weight and leg towards the floor and breathe in to your belly as you reverse the movement.

Wrapping up

These moves will help improve your posture and provide assistance to you in getting bigger, stronger and more awesome.

Together, we can make posture sexy again.

(I’m bringing posture back, the other boys don’t know how to act.)








No crunch core training


Have you ever heard a gym goer say “My core strength is just awesome.” Whenever gym junkies are asked about a weakness they’d like to improve, the answer is often the core.

The exception to the rule is those guys who incessantly check out their abs whenever they walk past a mirror.  Yes, you know who you are

six pack

It’s the core responsibility to protect and stabilize the spine from unwanted movement. The more core strength you have, the better your body operates.

You can never get enough of it, in my humble opinion.

However, a lot of gym goers get confused on how to build core strength.

They either –

  • Crunch like they’re having some sort of fit and need you to call 911
  • Hold their planks for too long or with poor form
  • Do pointless exercises (hello, triceps kickbacks) and totally skip their core training.

Let’s solve these problems by –

  1. Putting core training into main part of your training and not saving it for lucky last
  2. Adding movement and tension to your core stability exercises

If you looking to crunch like a mad man, you may as well stop reading now.


This is not your everyday front plank. This is a total body challenge from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. Maintaining this plank for longer than 10 seconds calls for your all-out effort.


 Training suggestions

Pairing this exercise in a superset with a compound strength exercise works well. For example:

1A. Bench press, squat or deadlift variation

1B. RKC front plank- 10 seconds


Or pair this with a cardiovascular exercise for a real heart-pumping, sweat inducing experience.

1A. Kettle bell swings 20 reps

1B. RKC front plank 10 seconds


Do this for five-ten rounds and then lie down happily in your pool of sweat.


Strange name, but this is a highly effective core stability exercise. We’ve all seen those guys doing dumbbell pullovers, hoisting those huge dumbbells while mutilating their low back. Not cool.

If that sounds like you or your friends, stop and do this instead. Adding movement and resistance to your core training is a double whammy you are sure to enjoy.


Training suggestions

This is perfect when paired with an exercise that demands core stability and a neutral spine.   For example:

1A. Kettlebell goblet squat with lowering 8-12 reps

1B. Pullover with deadbug 12 reps (6 on each leg)


On chest and arms day, pairing this exercise with any bench or any overhead press variation works well. For example:

1A. Kettlebell floor press

1B. Pullover with deadbug 12 reps


Wrapping up

Including these exercises into your core routines will get you stronger and save your spine from snapping in two. Save the crunches for the monkeys.

Why you need a coach


It was the middle of July in the sweltering, unforgiving Texas heat and my football coach was making the team run 200 meter sprint repeats at the END of practice. As you can imagine, we were all thrilled and no one complained at all.


If looks could kill

After a few intervals, most of the team was gassed and we still had a few more to go. When my turn came around, I took off sluggishly and the coach was none too pleased. He started to scream a few choice words in my direction.

It was nothing that bears repeating here because what’s said on the field stays on the field, just like what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

However, among the expletives, he dropped a pearl of wisdom.

“Practice should be harder than the game, so the game is easy.”

That was all the motivation I needed. I sucked it up, dug deep and ran out my final intervals without compliant.

That’s the beauty of having a coach. The coach picks you up when you’re feeling down and makes you dig deep when you’re spent and can still see the good in you when nothing is going your way.

Being a personal trainer, I see the value of coaching from both sides of the fence. I coach clients in a one-on-one setting and I occasionally reach out to fellow professionals for advice when I’m struggling with a client or a new exercise concept.

Because there are times when coaches need coaches.

We can all benefit from having a coach in our corner at some time in our lives, whether you’re already a coach or you’re looking for something bigger and better in your life.

A little of Drill Sergeant Lou can be just what you need.


Come on, you can give me one more

If Sgt. Lou can’t convince you, here are a few more reasons why you should consider hiring a coach.

1. Coaches bring out your best

 I’m a believer that you already the tools inside of you to be a success. You weren’t put on this Earth to be ordinary, you’re put here to be extraordinary. You may feel like this is new age mumbo jumbo but bear with me for a moment.

Like a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client, you fail to look at yourself objectively. You’re either too hard on yourself or fail to see the good inside of you. You cannot see the forest through the trees. (This is all true for me, too.)

This just makes us human and not Sheldon Cooper.

However, do you know who can help you access those tools and bring out the best in you? A good coach, that’s who.

For example, after coaching my client Ellen for a few months in the art of deadlifting she became capable of this.



Not bad for a grandmother coming off three knee surgeries, If Ellen didn’t hire a coach, she would’ve never have realized what she was capable of. Now, she does. That’s one advantage of having a coach in your ear.

2. Accountability

 One of the reasons why people hire personal trainers is to provide them with accountability because they’ve made an investment of money and time in the pursuit of better health and fitness.  It always helps to have some skin in the game.

However, if they don’t show up, they’re wasting their money and the trainer’s time. This can result in one pissed off trainer. Trust me, you don’t want to upset the person who writes exercise programs for a living. Just saying.


Recently, I was struggling with my own training. I had no program and zero direction. If I didn’t feel like training, I didn’t. I had the dreaded case of do as I say, not as I do. I was accountable to no one and I realized I needed assistance because the mirror and the scale were looking dire.

In a moment of clarity, I reached out to coach extraordinaire Tony Gentilcore to write my strength and conditioning program. Now I feel accountable to Mr. Gentilcore because he has eyes everywhere (like a ninja) and I also report in every week.

A good coach will help keep you on the straight and narrow.

3. Distill information

 New information comes at us thick and fast in this 24/7 world. There always seems to be a bigger and better way of doing things and you may feel like you’re getting left behind.

Do you remember when this came out? I wish I could forget.


In the health and fitness universe, the crap, the lies and half-truths come from every direction.  What’s good or bad for you changes daily. However, rather than panic and make a radical change that you don’t need, consult a coach instead.

A good coach should always have your best interests at heart.

Wrapping up

 You cannot go through this life alone. At some stage, you’re going to need some help.  That’s what a good coach will do, help you be more awesome than you already are.

And who doesn’t want that?

Need a little help? Click here and lets see if we can work together.





Keeping exercise simple


Do you remember the scene from The Matrix when Samuel. L. Jackson told Keanu Reeves he would show him just “how deep the rabbit-hole goes”?

Sometimes a personal trainer has to be like Jackson.


At your own risk

On the surface, exercise is simple. You strap on a pair of shoes and run. You grab a dumbbell and do a few curls.

However, as you go further down the rabbit hole, exercise becomes more and more complex.  Supersets, giant sets, circuits, mobility, core stability, breathing and metabolic training. Confused yet?

Exercise terminology is complicated and the methods are numerous.

Exercise can be overwhelming for the general population looking to get fit and healthy. It’s not a lack of information that’s stopping them, its information overload. Paralysis by analysis.  The rabbit hole just looks too deep.

So where do you start?

You start by keeping it simple.

A great coach named Dan John has broken down exercise into 6 movements which are

  1. Squat
  2. Push
  3. Pull
  4. Hinge
  5. Carrying something heavy
  6. Groundwork

Although there are many other exercise movements, these are a great place to start.

I’m assuming you’re at different places in your fitness journey, so I’m breaking the first 4 movements above into beginner (you’re new to weight training), level 2 and level 3 exercises.

For the carry part, you’re on your own

1. Squat


Beginner- Stability ball squat ( add weight if necessary)


Level 2 – The body weight squat


Level 3 – The Goblet squat



2. Push


Beginner – Incline push up (Use a height where you’re able to do 8-12 reps)


Level 2 Dumbbell bench press


Level 3 – Push up




3. Pull


Beginner- Standing single arm cable row


Level 2- Kneeling Lat Pull-down


Level 3 – Inverted row


4. The Hinge


Beginner- Swiss ball hip extension


Level 2- The Stick


Level 3- Dumbbell Romanian deadlift


5. The farmer’s walk



6.  Groundwork (include in your warm up)








For example, a beginner circuit would look like this.

  1. Stability ball squat
  2. Incline push up
  3. Single arm cable row
  4. Swiss ball hip extension
  5. Farmers carry



Be honest on where you are in your fitness journey and choose the appropriate level of exercise for you. Try to keep on the same level for exercises 1-4.

For the carry, choose a weight that allows you to do the distance specified and use some of the groundwork moves in your warm up before get after it.

You will do the exercises as a circuit (one exercise after the other with little or no rest in-between) 1-5 (in order), then resting and repeating for a specified amount of circuits.

You will train 3 times a week, and you’ll rest 48 hours in between trainings.

What is your goal?


You’ll start by sticking to one goal. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen people make is chasing too many goals simultaneously.  You’re more likely to have success if your stick to one goal, so decide if your goal is

  1. Fat loss
  2. Lean muscle gain
  3.  Getting back into shape

So take a moment to decide before you read on. This has a huge bearing on which style of training you will choose below.

Putting it all together


1. Fat loss


Day 1– Complete 8 reps (select a weight that allows you to do 8 reps) of each exercise 1-4 in the circuit fashion explained above. If doing the standing single arm row, do 8 reps on each side. For farmer’s walk do 20 yards and then walk back for 20 yards for a total of 40 yards.

Each set will take you 1 minute to complete and each circuit 5 min to finish. Do a total of 4 circuits in 20 minutes.

Day 2 – Choose a lighter weight (when using resistance) than day one. Do as many reps of each exercise 1-4 as you can in 30 seconds (single arm row do 30 sec on both arms) and do the farmer’s walk for 30 sec total.  Rest for 30 seconds at the end of each exercise.

Again each circuit will take you 5-6 minutes. Rest 60- 90 seconds at the end of each circuit. Do a total of 3 circuits.

Day 3 – Do 15 reps of each exercise 1-4 in a circuit fashion. For the farmer’s walk, do 20 yards there and back for a total of 40 yards. Rest as little as possible between exercises and rest 60 seconds at the end of each circuit. Do a total of 3 circuits.

2. Muscle


Day 1 – Do 6 reps of exercises 1-4 with a weight (heavier than usual) that allows you complete each rep. The farmer’s walk do 20 yards there and back for a total of 40 yards. Rest as little as possible between exercises and 60- 90 seconds at the end of each circuit. Do 4 circuits.

Day 2 – Do 10 reps of exercises 1-4 with a weight (5-10 pounds lighter than day 1) that allows you to complete each rep. For the farmer’s walk, do 20 yards there and back for a total of 40 yards. Rest as little as possible between exercises and 60- 90 seconds at the end of each circuit. Do 3 circuits.

Day 3- Do 15 reps of exercises 1-4 with a weight (5 pounds lighter or the same weight as day 2) that allows you to complete each reps. For the farmer’s walk, do 30 yards there and back for a total of 60 yards. Rest a little as possible between exercises and 60-90 seconds at the end of each circuit. Do 3 circuits.

3. Getting back into shape (perfect for those just starting out)


Day 1- Do 15 reps of exercises 1-4 with a weight that allows you to complete each rep. For the standing single arm cable row, do 15 reps on each arm. For the farmer’s walk, do a total of 20 yards. Do 2 circuits, resting as much as you need between exercises and circuits.

Day 2- Do 12 reps of exercises 1-4 with a weight (5 pounds heavier than day 1) that allows you to complete each rep. For the standing single arm cable row, do 12 reps on each arm. For the farmer’s walk, do a total of 30 yards. Do 2 circuits, resting as much as you need between exercises and circuits.

Day 3- Do 10 reps of exercises 1-4 with a weight (same weight as day 2) that allows you to complete each rep. For the standing single arm cable row, do 10 on each arm. For the farmer’s walk, do a total of 40 yards. Do 3 circuits, resting as much as you need between exercises and circuits.

Wrapping up


Do this training for 6 weeks in total. If you need more than 48 hours to recover between trainings, take it. When the current level of an exercise becomes easier, go up a level. When the weight becomes less challenging, go up by 5 pounds. Don’t hold yourself back.

Keep this simple and the results will come.

Any questions or need you need help with your exercise programming? Contact me here. No question to great or small.

Is online personal training for you?



Personal training is often viewed as a luxury. The buff guy /attractive female trainer taking care of their wealthy client is a cliché sometimes portrayed on television and other mainstream media. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

Rising health care costs and the obesity epidemic, combined with affordable gym memberships, have led to a rise in everyday people hiring personal trainers. For example, people who

  • Want or need to lose fat
  • Are in pain/injured and cannot afford physical therapy/rehab
  • Are looking to remain active in their retirement years

However, after a while personal training can become expensive. On top of finding time to exercise due to the demands of work, family and the occasional sickness, exercise can get pushed to the bottom the to-do list.

Also, if money needs to be trimmed from the budget, personal training costs can be the first to go. Does any of this sound like you?

If you want the expertise a trainer provides but cannot afford the price tag then online personal training  can be a solution to those problems. Other advantages of online training are:

  • Reduced price but not a reduced service
  • Training on your own schedule, whenever and wherever you please
  • Individualized exercise programming
  • Accountability and motivation
  • Taking the confusion out of your training in this era of information overload

Having a coach in your corner can take your training and results to the next level.  A personal coach working just for you is something you need to experience because it’s very empowering.  If you’re the type of person who

  • Knows his or her way around a gym
  • Is reasonably tech savvy
  • Likes being told what to do
  • Has a busy work schedule
  • Wants results yesterday

Then online training is the right fit for you. It just so happens that Balance Guy Training loves online training and my website can be found right here.  If you’re interested in online training, you can contact me through my website or  here

Your results are just a click away.

How to improve your posture

My posture use to suck.

However, nobody one tells you that your posture is bad – not your coworkers, your local GP or even your chiropractor.  It’s like having a booger up your nose that no one tells you about. People stop, stare and snicker instead.

Only a true friend will tell you, “Hey, you’ve got a booger up your nose!”

Lucky for me, I was set straight by a few friends and now I have much better posture.

But what leads to poor posture?

We live in a look down society. We look down at our smart phones, tablets and computers. We also sit too much and move too little, which is a recipe for disaster when it comes to our upper back strength and posture.


Don’t be this lady.

For every inch our ears are forward from our shoulders (forward head posture) you increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds. (Kapandji, Physiology of Joints, Vol. 3)

This is bad stuff indeed. It can lead to the muscles of the upper back getting weak and inhibited. Further down the track this can lead to rounded shoulders and ape-like posture.


Upper back strength also plays a huge role in the big lifts such as squats, deadlifts, chin ups and even the bench press, so this is a big deal for hardcore gym goers as well.

So how do you go about building upper back strength and improving posture?

Exercises like bent over rowschest supported rows, Lat pulldowns and pull ups all work great. Doing twice as many of these as pressing exercises is a must for healthy shoulders and good posture.

In addition, consider the following two exercises. Not only do they build upper back strength, the KB rack walk will challenge your core and lungs.


Kettlebells are not just for swinging. Holding the bells in the rack position correctly takes a fair amount of upper back and anterior core strength.

Walking with the kettlebells racked only adds to the excitement.


Training suggestions

Pair this with any movement were the upper back takes a prominent role.

For example:

1A. Bench press, any pulling variation or back squats

1B. Kettlebell rack walk 40 yards.

Or try this little finisher.

Kettlebell rack walk 40 yards.

Do one walk every minute on the minute.  If one walk takes you 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds before you start your next walk. You can unrack the kettlebells if desired or keep them racked for an extra challenge.

Do five-ten walks or until your upper back is screaming at you.

2. High rep band pull-aparts. 

Be warned that these don’t tickle, but pull- aparts directly work the muscles in your upper back as well as your rotator cuff and posterior deltoid.

When done for high reps, this helps improve your muscular endurance (important for posture and holding your head up) and provides nice little muscle pump for your shoulders.

Who isn’t up for that?


Training suggestions 

On your off days, try to get in 100 reps in a day, doing at least 20 reps at one time. As you get more proficient, do less sets and more reps.

On your training days, this makes for a nice filler exercise while resting between sets on your big strength movement for the day. For example:

1A. Bench press, squat, deadlift or pull up

1B. Band pull a parts 20- 30 reps.



Showing some love to the muscles you cannot see will help improve your posture and lead to a better looking and performing body.

Who doesn’t want that?

Need help with your posture or exercise routine? Contact me right here


Get a grip


We all need a better grip

Your everyday life requires grip strength and endurance. Think about it, how often do you

Pick up something from the ground or overhead and then carry it?

Carry in groceries from the car?

Open a new jar?

Rip open a cardboard box or a packet of your favorite indulgence?

It goes without saying the lifting barbells and dumbbells also require high levels of grip strength. At times it can be the number one limiting factor. You can either grip it or you can’t.

So doesn’t it make sense to train such a vital skill? Hopefully your answer is yes.


Picking up a heavy weight and walking with it sounds simple enough but it’s a real challenge. This full body exercise not only trains your grip but works on your cardiovascular fitness and mental toughness.

This underrated exercise always deserves a prime time spot in your exercise routine.


Training suggestions 

Pairing this with an exercise that doesn’t require a ton of grip strength is ideal. For example:

1A. Bench press, squat, shoulder press or hip thrust.

1B. Dumbbell farmers walk- 40 yards.


Or you can include this in a core training superset. For example:

1A. Side plank or Front plank variations 30- 60 seconds

1B. Dumbbell farmers walk 40 yards.

After this, opening a jar will be no big deal.




Did you know we have 34 muscles that move our fingers and thumb? That’s a lot of muscles to neglect.

Our fingers can be incredibly strong – strong enough for some people to climb mountains, while supporting their entire weight at times by a few fingertips.

We give all our other body parts some love (hello, biceps), so why not our fingers?

Training suggestions 

Save this exercise for the end of your training, when you’re looking for some extra bicep work. If your biceps/forearms look anything like mine, do this tri-set two to three times per week.

1A. Dumbbell biceps hammer curl 15- 20 reps

1B. Barbell wrist curls 15-20 reps

1C. Plate pinch (with 5-10 pound plates) to failure on both sides

Repeat this circuit three times with minimal rest in between exercises.



Wrapping up

Grip strength plays a big role in our everyday lives so it makes perfect sense to train this in the gym. If you’re lucky, you’ll start to get a better handle on things also.