Thursday, May 26, 2016

Strength & Health TV - Episode 34: Sensory Deprivation / Float Tanks.

In this week's episode I talk about my recent first experience with sensory deprivation tanks, also called float tanks.

I became interested in float tanks after hearing my friend Mike Mahler talk about his experiences with them on his Live Life Aggressively podcast.

With my practice of qigong, Taijiquan and meditation I felt like my experience in a sensory deprivation tank would be a positive one and I was right, it was outstanding!

My friend Kevin gave me a gift certificate to Flo2s here in Atlanta, and it was great. If you are in the Atlanta area and interested in experiencing a float tank check out Flo2s here:

I hope you enjoy this week's show and if you have any questions or suggestions for future show topics please leave them in the comments section below.

Stay Strong AND Healthy,


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Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Veg Effect.

To watch Stic's story from the Veg Effect click here!

My friend and fellow fitness enthusiast Stic, of the hip hop duo Dead Prez, was recently featured in a documentary called "The Veg Effect". This documentary follows 5 different individuals who have adopted, on various levels, a vegetarian diet and lifestyle.

Stic is 100% veg and recently challenged himself to gain 20 lbs. of lean muscle on a whole food, plant-based diet, void of supplements, pills and powders - just straight up food! He did his strength training with me and his wife, and holistic nutritionist, Afya put together his nutrition plan and was a complete wizard in the kitchen. Because of this, and his dedication to the plan, he accomplished the 20 lb. gain in 2.5 months, one and a half months faster than his goal!

This eventually became our book, Eat Plants, Lift Iron which you can learn more about by clicking here!

Our story was a small part of he and his family's feature in the Veg Effect documentary, and it was a huge honor to be invited to be part of it!

Click here to check out Stic's story from The Veg Effect!

About The Veg Effect:

"This isn't some scare-you-into-a-rage film about the food industry. Or about regretting yesterday.

This is a documentary series about how we can change the world by answering one simple question: What are we going to eat today?

Directed by Alison Klayman (Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry) for MorningStar Farms®, the series follows 5 real stories, from real people with very different lives, each choosing to make a difference with their own personal way to veg."

The documentary series is currecntly available on: vimeo, YouTube, dailymotion, amazon, iTunes, and EatingWell.


Stay Strong AND Healthy and find YOUR #waytoveg!


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Strength & Health TV - Episode 33: Strength & Conditioning for Fighters and Combat Athletes.

In this week's episode I talk about my personal thoughts on strength training and conditioning for fighters and combat athletes.

I talk about where I think some trainees go wrong with their conditioning, some of the overlooked physical qualities including strength, speed strength, power, aerobic and anaerobic training, flexibility, mobility and more.

Strength and conditioning for fighters and combat athletes is a topic that is quite debated in the industry and there are many opinions in extreme opposition to each other. 

In addition to my thoughts on this topic I present an example of the training I did with one of my BJJ athletes that had a huge impact on his performance in competition.

I hope you enjoy this episode and be sure to leave any questions or suggestions for upcoming episodes in the comments section below.

Stay Strong AND Healthy,


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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Way of Life.

“The secret is the power exists in all people, the struggle is the Sifu if you learn to let it teach you.” 
-Stic of Dead Prez

Why do you train? Hopefully it is for more than just competition or post-workout Facebook and Instagram selfies. Training is not a 12 week before and after contest. Training is about getting a little better every day. It is about self cultivation and self realization. Adopting a holistic training practice and committing to it for life is the best way to strengthen the mind, body, and spirit.

Training is not about going to war and being a Spartan. If you want to be a warrior, raise your hand and enlist in the armed forces instead of pretending to be a badass online because you hit the gym everyday. Training really is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself. Through training every day you can harden the body and sharpen the mind.

Look at the early days of physical culture, men like Eugene Sandow, George Hackenschmidt, and Arthur Saxon were interested in both strength and health. Physical culture was a lifestyle.

Photo from
What about the Shaolin monks? They are some of the best examples of cultivating the mind, body, and spirit. They meditate, practice kung fu and qigong, and put their bodies through grueling exercise day in and day out. There is no “off day”, there is just training. Every minute of every day is a chance to become better. This is why I love the traditional martial arts.

Photo from
My mentor Louie Simmons told me he trains multiple times every day. He’s 68 years old and has more than run his body through the ringer from an incredibly successful powerlifting career, and he still trains multiple times daily. He showed me a torso exercise he likes to do on the lat machine and when I asked him about sets and reps he told me, “I just do it for 10-20 minutes or so, it’s just meditation.” That is awesome!

Training every day doesn’t mean going balls out and running yourself into the ground. Daily training needs to be restorative as well, particularly as we get older. You might only be able to handle 2 or 3 extreme workouts a week, but you can do various conditioning, stretching, mobility, repetition exercises, martial arts practice, etc. daily. Don’t be afraid to push yourself but don’t be an idiot either. Training smart is just as, if not more, important than training hard.

“What you know about the running, the stretching
The katas, the weapons
The path, the journey
The jewels, the learning
The fear, the focus
The aches, the pains
The contact sparrin', the breaks, the sprains
The trial and error, the ranks, and belts
The spiritual growth, the science of breath
The tests, the techniques
The forms, the stances
The flow, the rhythm, the internal answers
The herbs, the healing, the quiet meditation
The truths revealed through daily dedication
The love for the art, the sweat on your shirt
The mind, the body, and the spirit that work….”
-Way of Life-
by, Dead Prez

Stay Strong AND Healthy!


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Optimal Training Methods for Enhanced Swimming Performance.

One of the biggest problems with dryland strength training for swimming is exercise selection. This is where the idea of “sport specific” training drives me a little nuts. True specificity is the practice of the sport itself. While lifting weights is sport specific to powerlifting and weightlifting, lifting weights is general preparation for other sports. That being said it is important to select the appropriate exercises and loading parameters to complement the specific sport training.

Karl Krug, 2015 50m freestyle Canadian Champion.
One of our top athletes at Team EPTS is a freestyle sprint swimmer, Karl. Karl is one of the top swimmers for Canada where he won the national title in the 50 meter freestyle event in 2015. Karl has had a great career coming out of high school as one of the top swimmers in California and going on to Auburn University where he was a 9 time all American.

At his level specificity rules and all the training we do needs to have one focus, to make him the best swimmer possible. Unfortunately athletic preparation sucks in the US. Here we tend to specialize our kids way too early. When kids are young they should be exposed to a wide range of exercises and activities in order to build a broad base of general physical preparedness. That way when the young athlete is reaching middle-school age their dominant abilities should be apparent and the athlete will be ready to specialize in a sport that matches their those abilities.

Karl using compound resistance (weights & bands) on Louie Simmon's Virtual Force Swing at Westside Barbell.
At Extreme Performance Training Systems we don’t cycle or do training blocks. Instead we focus on the development of maximal strength, speed, power, hypertrophy, conditioning, etc. on a weekly basis. Our training is heavily influenced by the work of Louie Simmons of the Westside Barbell Club. Like Louie says, “there are only two ways to train, the right way and the wrong way.” One method we’ve found to be extremely beneficial for Karl’s swimming preparation is accommodating resistance, where we attach high tension bands and heavy chains to free weights during the performance of general strength exercises.

While we usually use accommodating resistance during speed-strength and strength-speed exercises, we have found them to be beneficial during the maximal effort and repeated effort special strengths exercises as well.

This is exceptionally effective for swimmers due to the hydrodynamic resistance they encounter in the pool. Hydrodynamic resistance is extremely difficult to replicate during dryland training without special machines where the resistance is provided by viscosity. In this case the exerted muscular force is proportional to the movement velocity. According to Vladimir Zatsiorsky in his book, “Science and Practice of Strength Training”, compound (or accommodating) resistance is an excellent alternative for the dryland training of swimmers.

Zatsiorsky describes compound resistance as attaching a rubber band to the floor or a fixed object and a barbell. When the barbell is lifted the athlete overcomes the barbell weight, which is constant, the barbell inertia which is proportional to the acceleration of the barbell, and the elastic force which grows larger the higher the barbell is lifted. (Zatsiorsky pp. 25-26)

Using bands and chains to accommodate resistance.
We have seen great benefits using bands for exercises that work the primary muscle groups used in Karl’s event. Movements for the legs and hips, torso, lats, and triceps in particular. We attach the bands to the barbells, lat pulley machine, dumbbells or the body during various squats, good mornings, deadlifts, pull-ups, lat pulls, triceps extensions, and pullovers among many other movements.

Remember, in order to be optimal, the training of an athlete must be highly specialized as no two athletes have the exact same strengths, weaknesses, leverages, etc. Training cannot be cookie cutter and needs to be implemented with the individual in mind and specificity rules.

Stay Strong AND Healthy!


Karl with Louie at Westside Barbell.
Scott with Louie at Westside Barbell.

Kraemer, W., Zatsiorsky, V. (2006). Science and Practice of Strength Training (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Friday, May 6, 2016

My Thoughts on Healthy Eating

Before I get rolling here I need to clarify something - I am not a dietitian, I am not a doctor, and  I am not a nutrition guru. When it comes to nutrition I have a couple basic guidelines I stick to. First, as a vegan I eat a plant-based diet focusing on mostly whole and fresh foods. Second, I use common sense.

The amount of conflicting information about nutrition is enough to make anyone's head spin. It's downright painful. Particularly in the fitness industry where bodybuilder's and other physique athletes are looked at as icons of optimal health. Eat tons of protein, carbohydrates are evil, saturated fat rocks, it's all about macros bro, and on and on. It's ridiculous. If you eat enough healthy, whole foods to fuel your activity level you will get all the nutrition you need. You won't be protein deficient, you won't have to worry about your "macros", and your muscles will not atrophy.

Please understand, and to all my bodybuilding friends my deepest apologies, but bodybuilding is not a healthy endeavor. To be fair, neither is powerlifting or any sport taken to the extreme. Physical competition, regardless of the sport or discipline, is about winning and pushing the limits of human performance. Often what is required is far from healthy, both from a nutrition and training standpoint.

Now, am I saying don't compete in anything? Absolutely not. If you want to be an athlete or competitor by all means go for it! I think there are many things that you can learn about yourself as an athlete. Some people are driven to be the best and that is awesome. This article is not for you.
This article is for people who want to be healthy, who use exercise and nutrition to promote a certain lifestyle. This is for the people who have careers, high levels of stress, family responsibilities, and whose lives do not revolve around the gym and posting sweaty selfies in the bathroom mirror all day.

We have a huge problem in this country and it's namely our health. Sure, due to advancements in science and medicine we are living longer, but what is the quality of our lives? Are we truly living? What good is making it to 90 or more years of age if you are so unhealthy that you cannot take care of yourself and enjoy those years?

I have seen people in their 70s and 80s who were active, fit, healthy and looked half their age. On the flip side I have seen people in their 30s and 40s who can barely move and looked twice their age.

Lack of exercise, and movement in general, certainly contributes to this, but I believe it all begins with the fuel we put into our bodies.

First and foremost total calories matter, and there is plenty of research and data to back this up. Dr. Garth Davis points to many studies that demonstrated weight loss based on caloric intake regardless of the macronutrient breakdown in his new book. There was even a nutrition professor who lost a lot of weight on a predominantly junk food diet by keeping his caloric intake around 1,850 a day. However, being truly healthy involves a lot more than just weight loss. This is where I disagree with the "macros" crowd. I have literally heard some people say that your body, at the cellular level, does not know the difference between carbohydrates and fat from almond butter and apples and carbohydrates and fat from Oreos.

Now I like Oreos as much as the next person but you have to be kidding me. Remember what I said about my common sense guideline earlier? If our nutrition provides the building blocks for our cells would you prefer your body building itself with the nutrients from nuts and fresh fruit or processed cookies? Yes, when it comes to weight loss, for the most part, controlling calories is the most important thing but I'd be willing to bet the end result of a body built on fresh, whole foods is a little different in appearance to a body built on processed crap. This doesn't mean that you can't still be healthy and indulge in your favorite snack or dessert on occasion, just use a little common sense!

I honestly believe that every time you eat you have the opportunity to eat something that is health promoting or something that is not health promoting. This is where it can get a little muddy. I think we all can agree that cookies, cake, candy and other junk food is not health promoting, and that vegetables and fruits are health promoting. Well, you do have those whackos who say fruit is sugar and is no better for you than a candy-bar, but if you're one of those people I'm honestly surprised you're still reading this or even following my blog! Where it gets muddy for me is meat and other animal-based foods. I am in the camp that believes animal-based foods are not healthy. The research and ideas presented by professionals like Dr. Michael Greger and Dr. Neal Barnard have convinced me that animal-based foods are not health promoting.

That being said, nutrition is a personal choice and I know many people who justify their consumption of animal-based foods as healthy. The purpose of this blog is not to get into a vegan vs. omnivore debate. The purpose of this blog is simply to state that nutrition really doesn’t need to be anymore complicated than this - is what you are eating health promoting or not? Unless of course you are dealing with some sort of chronic disease or illness, if you are you should be working with medical and dietary professionals not reading fitness blogs.

Scott’s Five Simple Steps to Healthy Nutrition
  • Is the food I am eating health promoting or not health promoting?
  • Eat mostly health promoting foods (roughly 85-95%), fresh whole foods focusing mainly on fruits, vegetables, beans / legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, etc.
  • Eat less non-health promoting foods (roughly 5-15%), processed and snack / dessert foods, soft drinks, etc.
  • Drink mostly water, I’m fine with unsweetened coffee and tea as well, but mostly water.
  • Stop stressing out about what you eat, forget about your protein addiction, hitting macros, counting calories, weighing your food, and just eat healthy, whole foods.

So there you have it, I honestly believe that nutrition does not need to be any more complicated than this.

Stay Strong AND Healthy!


P.S. If you are sick of all the ridiculous fad diet and training information and want a simple and highly effective solution to health and fitness, check out my online coaching program. I offer both short and long term planning to help you fit healthy nutrition and training into your daily routine. Click here for more information and for feedback from people I've worked with through this program.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Strength & Health TV - Episode 32: My #1 Piece of Advice for New Fitness Professionals.

In this video I share my recommendation for the most commonly asked question I get from prospective, and up and coming, strength training and fitness professionals. Experience.

Experience is crucial in this industry and trumps everything else. Too many people new to the industry think they need to become internet experts and start publishing content, blogs, articles, videos, and books when they have absolutely no practical experience to base the content on.

Unfortunately this means anyone with a 6 pack and Instagram followers can suddenly become an expert.

My advice to new fitness pros - start training. Train people day in and day out for 5-10 years. Work, experiment, read, learn, work some more. If you do this religiously, day in and day out for a decade, you will have more than enough experience to start publishing any content you wish.

If you are just getting into the health and fitness industry to post selfies in your underwear all day, my advice is quit now. A fitness professional is a service professional. It is about your clients not you trying to stroke your ego.

For those looking for a fitness professional, find someone who has great success working with people in the demographic you fall into, whether it is weight loss, muscle and strength gain, athletic performance, martial arts, etc. They will be the ones promoting their client's accomplishments and not their own.

If you have any questions or suggestions for future show topics leave them in the comments section below.

Stay Strong AND Healthy,


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