102 Training Tips to Kick Major Ass in 2017

Written by Dave Thomas
Owner, Performance360

Welcome to your consolidated guide to results in the New Year. If you have a goal, chances are we’ve coached it at Performance360, and will coach it again this year. In our near six years of growth and establishing ourselves as a leader in San Diego fitness, we’ve had the ultimate privilege of working with elite professional athletes, competitive weightlifters and power lifters, and plenty of first timers just learning how to move and put forth effort.

Today, I offer up to you my Cliff Notes version to your merry gains in the new year, the most comprehensive guide to all of your fitness goals, featuring a compilation of the past year of Performance360 content across our podcasts, articles and seminars.

Grab a cup of extremely strong coffee, maybe even a training journal, and let’s do this.

1. Do not starve yourself in hopes of burning fat. Metabolic damage is a real thing. If you constantly cut calories, your body is going to adapt and it’s going to burn less. Less in, less out. Over time, your metabolism turns into a dimly lit flame so the minute to re-up your calories, you will gain fat quickly. Starving will prime you for skinny fatness.

2. Via P360 Podcast Episode 7 – Kettlebells 101: “We talk about lats a lot. They are injury preventers. They are performance enhancers and they will contribute to just about every movement you are interested in. For greater lat activation, don’t just let the kettlebell ‘arrive’ at the top, but rather focus on using your lats to apply the breaks at the apex of the swing, and then forcefully drive the bell back down”.

3. The reason you the see #fitfam just #livelaughloving in their kitchen eating donuts is not because they are #blessed. It works like this. When you follow a diet based around precise macronutrients like flexible dieting or IIFYM, you are programmed a measured amount of fat, protein and carbohydrates each per day that make up your prescribed caloric intake. Often, at the end of the day, you need to make up calories or “macros” in order to hit those numbers since it’s important the total calories be reached. So, if you are left with say 15g of fat and 35g of carbs, a donut can often fit into plan because you are within your calorie and macro ranges. It’s not mindless gluttony, nor is it weight loss magic.

Fitness Tips to Kick Major Ass in 2017

4. Carbohydrates are the strings you pull to either add mass, increase performance or lose weight. One strategy is to match your intake of them based on the result goal for your day’s workout. For example, if you are training strength and power on a day, you are going to need and utilize carbohydrates as the primary fuel source. So you’d want to consume more of them with high levels of protein to get an insulin response. If your goal is to mobilize fat as fuel, and you are hitting a conditioning or fat burning circuit such as an EMOM, density circuit, or metcon, you want your insulin levels to be low so you use more fat in the workout. You would want to do those workouts in more of a carb-fasted state, so on those days perhaps scale back your carb intake. This is a strategy I’d only recommend to advanced athletes and those who can be disciplined with their intake, and who have already achieved a relatively low percentage of body fat.

5. From Coach Julianne via How to Fix Chronic Lower Back Soreness: “I think we all know by now, that prolonged sitting gives us low back pain. When you sit, the hip flexors are shortened, so when we stand up they can pull the low spine forward, which creates a fair amount of pain.  Then, we go to the gym and put ourselves in that hip flexion over and over again which continues to pull on the low spine, and then we see pulls and strains. If you take time to work with some simple stretches, you will increase your mobility, awareness, and cut down recovery time if not eliminate chronic soreness altogether”.

6. You can’t thrash yourself weekly in the gym without carbohydrates and expect to operate at your peak level.

7. From Coach Julianne via How Julianne Lost 28 Pounds Through Strength Training: “People get great results for themselves in all forms of fitness. Strength training worked extremely well for me and I cannot recommend it more highly for all people. I have not ignored cardio, I just don’t do traditional cardio. I don’t run or use cardio machines. I do circuit training at my gym using weights.”

8. If it’s made in a food lab and comes in a box, eat it minimally. Don’t let the recent popularity of macro-based dieting get it twisted. While you can get lean on Lucky Charms, that shit ain’t good for you. There’s a reason we have macro and micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals. No matter your diet plan, it should always be based around whole, healthy foods.

9. Via The Most Efficient Way to Burn Fat and Build Strength: “Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) is the rate at which our body consumes oxygen after we’ve exercised in an attempt to get us back to a normal state. It is a calorie consuming activity. Reproduction of adenosine triphosphate burned in the workout, returning our body to its resting temperature, and protein reparation to muscles to name a few are a few of the ways we use oxygen post workout. EPOC is low to non-existent in steady state distance running and high in movements and workouts that feature total body, compound movements performed quickly.

10. Results are about adherence. Commit harder and make less excuses.

11. Trouble with speed under the bar on cleans and snatches? Try block pulls and hip pulls, with little to no stretch shortening cycle into power position. Without the ability to descend the barbell down the leg, we have very little upward momentum with the barbell, thus we must create the speed to get under on our own. In short, we can’t rely on our strong pulls, we must make speed to get under since the bar is not going to travel as far upward.

12. From Coach Pritz via P360 Podcast, Ep. 4 – Nutrition 101: “As soon as I upped my calorie intake, I noticed fat loss beginning to occur again. This idea that we need to cut, cut, cut I think is a false one”.

13. I’ve never been a huge fan of giving an athlete eighteen different options to improve something, be it the ability to do more pull-ups, a stronger squat or improved mobility in the ankle. In most cases, one or two prescriptions will do just fine. You like getting a million options from your coach because you have ADD, and we the coach like giving them because it makes us feel smart. But really, simple always trumps complex.

Fitness Tips to Kick Major Ass in 2017

You’re doing it wrong.

14. Stuck in a plateau? Partial movements are something I like a lot. Quarter front squats and back squats in particular to overload motor recruitment at 125% of your 1-R max. Block or rack pulls for deadlifts.

15. On your squat set-up, drive your elbows down into your lats and pull the barbell into your traps. Your upper body is far more important than your lower body in determining the trajectory of your movement and the success of your reps.

16. Via Strength Training to Improve Running Economy: “Running economy is a very important concept for athletes and is defined by the amount of steady state oxygen we consume for a standardized running speed. Basically, how hard your body has to work running at your maintained pace. Think of this in the exact same manner as you would fuel economy for your car. The car and distance racer with the better gas mileage per gallon will go further. So the key is training your body to expend as little energy as possible. If you require more oxygen running at eight miles per hour than your counterpart, they have a superior running economy, will fatigue slower and they will have a competitive advantage over you.

To improve your running economy and competitive advantage, it is critical you pair your distance training with targeted training of the core to bleed less force on your stride, glute medius strength to prevent over stressing your knee, and a powerful posterior chain to boost your engine”.

17. From How to Do More Pull-Ups: “Get back on the band. Perform 125-150% of your max reps with slow, controlled, perfectly executed reps with full lat engagement (so if your pull-up max is 12 reps, you’d perform 15 on a band). Too often I see athletes perform average reps off of bands with the expectation they are going to continue to get stronger. Mix that strategy in with some weighted, low rep pull-ups. Here are some additional plateau busters”.

  • Eccentric Pull-Ups
  • Turkish Get-Ups
  • Explosive High-Rep MB Slams
  • Farmer Holds and Carries
  • Overhead KB Swings
  • 1-Arm Hangs
  • 1-Arm KB Swings
  • Sprints
  • Short Distance Row Sprints

18. From Coach Brenna via How to Increase Your Back Squat: “As you descend, your speed should be as quick as your body will allow while still under full control. Every squat rep you perform should be treated as though you have your 1-rep max on your back”.

I think this is unbelievably great advice. Too often we hear coaches talk about generating speed and creating bounce, but that can be reckless as hell for folks with weak anterior cores. “As quick as your body will allow while still under full control”. Nice, Coach.

19. To get over the “Oh shit, this feels heavy” mental hurdle of un-racking PR weight, spend some isometric time under the bar without moving. Load up 125% of your max in a given movement and simply un-rack it and remain in that position. You’ll provide neural feed that your body will learn and remember, and when you go to pick up 105% of your 1R, it will feel light. I like doing this particularly for jerk drives and partial front squats.

20. Don’t miss an opportunity to isolate your obliques. They are very involved in most all performance movements. Rotation movements like ropes, twists, medicine ball throw variations, and split stances all work them.

Fitness Tips to Kick Major Ass in 2017

21. Heavy weights will create more dramatic body transformations than light weights, and in a shorter amount of time.

22. Stretch your hip flexors. Tightness in them will sap many, many movements.

23. As Jim Wendler says, “Start too light and progress slowly.” Here’s the thing. Way too many athletes start out way too heavy. Working stabilizers is not a sexy activity. Developing a grooved movement pattern won’t get you many likes on Insta. But it just may keep you healthy and productive for as long as you lift. Without developing our stabilizers, we have zilch. You can muscle through weight for a while, but sooner or later you will need stability, and if you jump the process of developing, say, the stability of your anterior core, you will get hurt or stalled. Stability is best developed taking the body through a full range of motion at well below maximal percentages. WELL below it.

24. From Coach Brenna via How to Increase Your Back Squat:: “Remember that there is no cookie cutter way to squat. Everyone has short or longer limb lengths than others, joint angle differences, old injuries to accommodate for, mobility differences, ligament and tendon “stretchiness” dissimilarities, and so on. All of these mean that everyone will have to tweak the steps of the squat to suit them best.”

25. If you don’t wanna drop a hundred bucks on proper shoes, remove them. Just go barefoot. Anything is better than squatting or pulling in thick foam running shoes. I’d rather see you in a nice set of German clogs than running shoes. When you deadlift in running shoes, the terrorists win.

26. Drinking prevents ideal fat loss. It just does. If you’re gonna have nightly wine, or beers during the week, have at it. But if a major transformation is your goal then don’t hold your breathe for that to happen.

27. Ladies, adding muscle boosts your health in a number of ways, but the metabolic benefits of it are huge. Mitochondrial density goes up, which means we get better at converting food into energy, aka, your metabolism improves. How about less, “I don’t want to be bulky” and more, “I want to add muscle”.

Fitness Tips to Kick Major Ass in 2017

28. One common thing athletes love to is to over extend in the lumbar at the top of a deadlift lockout, and in between reps on hang cleans. Do not “lean back”. Just lock it out. Anything past full extension is hyperextension, and that leads to painful compression and potential damage to discs.

29. If you have a goal for a stronger (insert movement here). Train as you normally do, just add in another day of that movement so that you’re training it twice per week. Amazing what a little old school volume can do.

30. An easy way to train grip is to add a towel to your pulling and holds, particularly in the pull-up.

31. Via P360 Podcast Episode 1 on getting the most out of Tier 1 : Have a Threesome. The ideal set-up is to pair up with three people, even four. This leads to proper pacing and typically challenging yourself to more than you might perform on your own accord.  When I watch people workout with other people, after the initial shock they must meet someone new or engage with another human, it always leads to productive, valuable training. This is not to say you partner up with someone and lift irresponsible weight, but when you hold yourself accountable to another human being, you tend to be better at what you’re supposed to do. It also provides a natural rest cycle of around two minutes, the time we are looking for.

32. As soon as you un-rack the barbell, your power is depleting. The very first step back and your clock is ticking, because simply stabilizing the barbell is an energy sucking endeavor. Make haste moving out of the rack, and into the movement. Don’t linger with the barbell in rest position for any longer than you need to. This also applies to deadlifts. Don’t hinge and grip the bar for thirty seconds prior to moving. Grip and rip. Move with some damn purpose and intent.

33. There’s nothing wrong with eagerness to begin doing well quickly. However, when we skip the struggle, we skip all of the learning that comes with desperation and grind.

34. From Coach Pritz: “On a box jump, emphasize the use of your arms for power generation. My strong upper body and core were just as important as my legs to my 60” box jump PR “.

35. To build stability, train total movements at lighter weight rather than a buncha skill movements that ultimately don’t do very much. The ability to perform a sound overhead squat is my one-and done movement to train stability. I do not spend a ton of time on this, but I have tons of it.

36. Via Lats: The Silent Assassin: “A forward leaning chest in excess can throw off a back squat in no time, not to mention can get you hurt if you are attempting too heavy of a load prematurely.  You may have noticed that as coaches, we always talk about the set up or grip of a back squat which may seem counter intuitive given it’s a leg exercise.  But without that good grip and rigidity in the T-spine/lats we have no chance at performing the movement properly.  Weak lats create lumbar flexion, and if you remember one thing about weight lifting it is this”.

37. Few good things in the gym ever happen in loaded lumbar flexion. This is why you won’t find us doing too many sit-ups.

38. In a recent study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the OH squat was found to activate the trunk musculature in about the same manner as a back squat (slightly more), and at a much lighter load. There is no movement that provides more from a corrective, stability, mobility, tension and strength all in one package than the overhead squat.

39. Don’t miss an opportunity to do barbell lunges and unilateral work. A laundry list of benefits you can’t get from their closed-chain cousins like the squat and deadlift. In addition to often targeting the glute and hamstring at more concentrated levels, one very important benefit to remember is that any time a movement is performed unilaterally, you are receive anti rotation work on your core. Anti-rotation is arguably the single most important skill we have in keeping our discs where evolution put them. Lunges, pistols, step ups. Big impact movements.

40. Coach Lenny via Science Proves Exercise Isn’t Enough for Fat Loss:When asked, ‘What’s the best exercise is for developing six-pack abs’ renowned strength coach Mike Boyle will tell you, with a straight face and without hesitation, ‘Table push-aways’. The fact of the matter is that you can’t out-train a crappy diet. It’s an old adage but it remains true.”

41. Here’s 16 free mobility and stability videos from Coach Julianne that can be performed in your home.

42. Coach Julianne on the clean: “Make the set up repeatable and consistent. Toes turned out, knees flared out, chest elevated. Hammer home to keep the back at that angle through the first pull to the top of the knee”.

43. The angle in which the femur extends and inserts into the hip is different for everyone, as is the length of the femur itself. For these reasons, a movement like a squat may be performed very differently and to different range of motion standards, thus making blind, “ass to grass” requirements moronic. Many squatters with longer femurs may only be able to hit parallel and that is completely fine.

44. I don’t care how long you’ve been training, if your mobility sucks then you need to be open to progressions. Folks who refuse to adapt to their immobility are the ones who get hurt and give functional fitness a bad name. Own your developmental needs and understand that just because something is a “regression”, does not make it an inferior choice despite the terminology. We have to think differently about this.

45. To build serious muscle, you need to hit failure in your sets. Real, genuine failure.

46. It would be a mistake to think that our fat loss goals are facilitated by going as fast as we can in a workout. Your kitchen will burn more fat than any pace you set in your workouts. Slow down, eat right and don’t be afraid of weight that’s 10% heavier than what you normally do.

47. From Coach Julianne via How Julianne Lost 28 Pounds Through Strength Training: I don’t need to eat ice cream every day, so I don’t. But I still eat it because life is worth enjoying with out always worrying about how my abs will look.

48. I am somewhat of a pushup nazi. But, it’s for a good reason as I believe them to be one of the best movements still after all of these years, yet no one seems to want to take them seriously in programming.  Here’s a few fun facts.

Fitness Tips to Kick Major Ass in 2017

  • #1: In an electromyopgraphy (EMG) test that pitted the band-resisted pushup against the bench press to see which movement experienced the higher intensity of muscle contraction, the pushup and the bench press came out as even over the course of six reps.
  • #2: A proper pushup will require you to move approximately 64% of your bodyweight (49% if it’s performed on your knees).

Now consider this. A deadlift at 200% body weight for a 175 pound male is 350 pounds.  One might perform 25 reps of that in a given deadlift workout, resulting in 8,750 pounds moved during that time frame.

Take that same 175# male who performs 100 flawless pushups in a workout.  At 64% of his body weight, that’s 11,200 pounds moved. You move 22% more volume in the pushup workout than the heavy deadlift workout.

Is it this simple? No, but you catch my drift. Pay as much attention to body weight stuff as you do barbell stuff. Or leave gains on the table and I’ll happily take your leftovers.

49. From Coach Lenny via The 5 Levels of Nutrition: “Here’s the quick and dirty way to get a rough estimate of your caloric needs:

Step 1: Take your body weight in pounds and multiply for 10. I’ll use my body weight as an example.
165 pounds * 10 = 1,650 calories.   

Step 2: After you have that baseline caloric level, multiple by your ‘activity multiplier’, which is basically an indicator of how active you are with your body, thus how many calories you burn. Training days are already factored into this multiplier. If you have a desk job and the only real activity you do is during your workouts, you would drop into the sedentary levels. On the other hand, if you worked construction or any other job that has you busting your ass all day physically you would fall into the active to very active range.

Determining Your Activity Multiplier

-Sedentary Lifestyle (desk job), plus 3-6 days of Training = 1.3 – 1.6
-Lightly Active Lifestyle (light activity on feet at work),  plus 3-6 days of Training = 1.5 – 1.8
-Active (work on your feet all day), plus 3-6 days of Training = 1.7 – 2.0
-Very active (physically demanding job), plus 3-6 days of Training = 1.9 – 2.2

Let me continue the example of myself.  I walk the dog a few times per day and train around six times per week, but outside of that I’m sitting on my ass (sometimes I lose my mind, flip on Pandora and start stomping around the house signing). I used a 1.5 activity multiplier.

1,650*1.5= 2,475 calories per day.”

50. Squeeze the glutes, draw in the belly and do ’em right. A push-up should essentially be a moving plank. Not bad sexual intercourse with the floor.

51. A good front rack position is difficult to develop. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your inability to execute it has a single thing to do with your wrists. It’s some combination of tightness your triceps, shoulder and/or t-spine musculature. Your wrist is just the most visible part that can’t get into position because of that tightness.

52. A mistake on deadlifts is to only focus on the concentric portion of the movement. Much of our strength is developed through the eccentric (lowering) phase of movement, so by simply letting the weight crash back to the floor at the top of the rep, you cheat yourself of gains. We descend in the squat prior to upward movement, we dip in the jerk prior to the drive. Why on the deadlift do we ignore it? Controlled, touch and go reps where the weight does not slam or bounce are my preferred form of executing the lift.

53. From Coach Pritz via The P360 Podcast, Ep 5- Comparing Yourself to Others: “I give a ton of success to my baseball career to visualizing success, and it’s a practice I continue to implement that today in my life and in the gym. The moment you start to doubt yourself, you are way more likely to miss a rep or not succeed at something”.

54. It’s a shame that burpees have been turned into a dime store with the intent to shortcut them and perform them will as little ballistics as possible. Once upon a time, when done right, this was a great movement that taught both acceleration and deceleration. Back when you did them in clusters of low rep, applied beneficial things like “power” and “burst”, this movement really did something for us. Dunk that shit.

PS. I judge you as a person based on how you execute burpees.

55. Via Why You Are in Pain and What You Can Do About It

  1. Disruptive, knotty structures can form in our body from muscles being overstimulated, overused and/or the same movements repeated too many times, in combination with a lack of recovery and lack of water.
  2. Once formed, the nature of knots cutting off their own healing through their acidic build up and inflammatory “poisonous feedback loop” continues to support their existence and becomes problematic for movement health.
  3. Preventive measures include varying your movement patterns, dedicated foam rolling, ball therapy, rest, hydration, stretching and diet every single day.
  4. To ensure diversified movement pattern and results, recommended training frequency is two anaerobic strength days, two aerobic circuit days, one to two yoga classes, one to two days of complete inactivity.
  5. By paying attention to our movement and recovery, we have the ability to train incident free and see amazing, uninterrupted results.

56. The any average Joe and Jane needs at least three to six months of operating a movement at below 60% before they can go above that. Path of movement and the stability developed along that ROM is EV-REE-THEENG when it comes to developing and progressing with your strength. If your movement patterns suck, your strength and movement under heavy loads will suck. Movement patterns are only, repeat ONLY developed under light load, repeated many times and a good conditioning program can absolutely do just that.

57. When you run in place waiting for an erg at the gym.