Who am I and why would you bother listening to me? Honestly, I have a hard time writing about myself. I’m human and I have an ego! Why would I want to look stupid by exposing my poor writing to the internet? Why would you want to put anything on the internet anyway? I don’t want to sound like some gym know-it-all. The world has way too many of those guys already.

But… I am in love with exercise, and I have been for 27 years now. I want to become a better writer, and I want to continue to share my experiences. Hopefully my experience can be of use to someone.

So yup, 27 years ago I picked up my first barbell. It was with my Dad before school in 1991. We only stuck with it for about a week, and Dad dropped off (hey, was a busy guy and it was wayyy to early in the morning) but I kept going. And going, and going. Off and on, trying one thing or another, reading everything I could and learning from anyone who would teach me.

And I did it without a speck of athletic ability. I was skinnnny. I just didn’t have the bone structure to produce power, and gaining muscle did not come easily! But it did come. Despite 20 years of Karate (trained from age 6 to age 26), I had little coordination and never played any other sports. I could barely catch or throw any kind of object (and still can’t!) In high school, as I started to get noticed for being stronger, I went to a few wrestling practices, but that was the extent of my early experiences. I ultimately because a personal trainer and trained maybe a hundred people over the years.

I did rack up more experience points along the way, spending a few years powerlifting here and there. I trained with the Niagara Powerlifting Club, which is where I first learned to squat, bench and deadlift correctly, and I started to learn what it meant to work hard. More recently I trained for a year with Port Kells Barbell, another powerlifting club, and worked with the best coach I’ve ever met, Ryan Matthews. (this was where I learned to really work hard) I could devote entire articles to what I learned from him, and I intend to do that!

My best lefts were not amazing – I pulled off a 495 pound deadlift in the gym (473 in competition) a 415 pound squat, and a 335 pound shirted bench. (275 raw) Later though, I would realize that powerlifting simply wasn’t my sport, but I could apply that strength to other things. Powerlifting wasn’t my sport, but it made me a better athlete, and gave me a foundation to start to build on.

I’ve learned a lot along the way, and it seems I’m always teaching somebody something, and I really enjoy sharing and empowering people to reach their goals. I don’t just believe in exercise for strength and fitness, but overall well being and health. The fact that you look good naked always remains a pretty nice bonus.

In 2012 I started getting into running, and this is where I realized I did have some athletic potential. It turns out the narrow frame that made powerlifting so difficult for me were perfect for running. Just this last year I really started to get faster, and I racked up a few decent 10k’s (for an old man) this last year, peaking in October and November for a few races. After my last race, I was nursing a slight knee injury, so I got back into the gym for lack of other ways to improve until my knee healed, and suddenly the iron bug hit me again. Then I was back at the weights again twice a day, 6 days a week.

Which brings us to the present. I’m reasonably sure I’m the oldest guy that’s ever been on the SFU rowing team. I actually take a lot of pride in this, as it took a lot of training throughout my life just to attempt tryouts. My fear was I would simply be outclassed athletically, and not only would I not make the cut, if I did it would not be an enjoyable experience. But I sucked it up and tried out anyway, and I was very surprised to see that I was putting up erg numbers that actually beat many of the other guys that were there. My first 2k erg test was just this Monday – I don’t have the form yet, and ultimately I’m too short and too old for rowing – but I put up a 7:04 on my first try. That shows a bit of potential, possibly.

Being on the rowing team been really enjoyable experience so far – the coaches are great, and everyone on the team is encouraging and works really hard. And nobody seems to mind that I’m twice their age. Few people get a second chance to do something like this, and I feel blessed that I have the opportunity.

So there you go. That’s who I am, the guy that’s in love with all forms of training. The ex-karate, ex-personal trainer, ex-powerlifter, ex-runner, ex-bodybulder, oldest guy on the rowing team, happy to help you out guy in the gym who has certainly been there and done that.

So basically what I’m saying is, if you want to look good naked, I can help you with that. (It’s a joke, but it’s also true) Oh, and being strong, mobile, healthy and fit are all pretty good too. Stick around! Maybe I have an article that will interest you. If you have any questions feel free to send me an email!

Tom Hardy’s Cobra

I need big traps. They are so powerful looking from the front – they are so hard to miss! They fill in that area between your shoulders and your neck. Also, thick middle traps add a thick look to your upper body. Honestly, when I can see someone’s middle traps through their shirt, I find that very impressive. Check out Tom Hardy here, you can see how people used to refer to the traps as the “cobra muscles”.

The trapezius is comprised of three sections: the upper, middle and lower. Each section has a different function, but people typically only train the upper portion. For full development and better posture you need to add a few more exercises.

upper, middle and lower sections

The upper traps elevate your shoulders and keep your shoulders from being pulled down.

The function of the middle trapezius is to pull the shoulders back. Note the difference to the lat or the rhomboids here… Think about just squeezing your shoulders straight back and together. That’s why the high wide machine row works so well (or a cable row) – lean back a bit and you can hit a bit higher on your traps. make sure to grip very wide with your elbows high and squeeze back.

The lower trapezius pulls the shoulders back and down, which is very useful for posture correction.

Here’s a complete trapezius workout for you to try – if you’re really an animal, do this after your deadlift workout! Deadlifts alone hit your trapezius well isometrically. Go heavy and hard on the shrugs and snatch grip high pulls, and do the rest fast with low rest to pump up the muscle. The combination is hard to beat.

Complete Trapezius Workout:

1. warm up: band pullaparts 4×20


2. heavy shrugs (upper traps) 5×10

3. wide machine high row (middle traps) 4×20 – lean back a bit, keep elbows high, squeeze middle traps!

wide rows

4. snatch grip high pulls (upper and middle) 3×15 – use straps!


5. Y raises on 45 degree bench 5×10 (lower traps)


Some people can get away with very little trapezius training. I’m just not one of those people. Deadlifts, barbell rows and pullups will do a lot for your complete trapezius development, but if traps is something you want to focus on give my workout a try. Even understanding the function and being able to isolate and feel each section will be really useful in your training.

If someone asks me for advice, more often than not, I’m likely to tell them to just look up Stan Efferding. I’ll tell them to look up Stan and follow everything he says, and I guarantee that they’ll be well on their way to being healthy, strong and successful.

Stan is really, really, really good.

Do I like him because he totaled 2303 raw? (that’s a 865.2 pound squat, 600.3 pound bench and 837.7 pound deadlift – yeah, he’s superhuman) Nope. He’s amazingly strong, and when he did this it was probably the first time I heard of him, but it’s not why I think he’s great.


I like him because he’s extremely intelligent, well spoken and articulate, and describes training and nutrition concepts better than I can. And he inspires me to work harder in business. He’s an excellent example of how to succeed I think.

Check out his rants, or “10 talks”… Here is a good example of what I’m talking about. Some people speak in sentences, some people speak in paragraphs. Stan Efferding speaks in essays. Here he talks about the obesity epidemic in the Somoan islands, and the parallels to North American diet and obesity.

Check him out! Stan’s website.

One of my favorite bodybuilding/powerlifting programming ideas is “The Rule of 40”. It’s a simple idea for learning how to program intensity and volume in your workouts.

I’ll show you how I would use this idea to program a typical day in the gym. Using back day as an example, I’ll pick 5 or 6 exercises that I haven’t done recently and/or haven’t done in this order, and set up the sets and reps something like this:

  1. Barbell row: 5×8
  2. Pullups: whatever you have to do to get 40 reps total.
  3. Snatch grip high pulls: 4×10
  4. db pullovers: 3×15
  5. machine reverse fly: 2×20

Another example for back day:

  1. Pullups 7×3 weighted
  2. db rows 4×10
  3. wide cable rows 4×12
  4. barbell shrugs 3×15
  5. barbell curls 1×40

The rule of 40 simply means the total volume for each exercise should equal (roughly) the magic number 40. 4×10, 5×8, or 4×12 and 5×12 are staples. 5×5 or 6×5 is a good bet even though it doesn’t add up to 40.

The 1×40 set is really interesting. It really depends on how you pick the weight. Pick a bit heavy, and it’s a trial from hell to get through that set. Pick a bit light, and this can be really good for flushing blood into the area and improving recovery.

The 40 rule is not a firm rule, but it’s a good starting point, which should help teach most people how much volume they need to progress. I’ve learned to tweak a few things, like I’ll do more total volume for exercises that have a very short range of motion – shrugs are a good example, where 4-5×12-15 reps probably works better. Also, I’ll typically do a bit more volume for back than for chest or shoulders. More often back exercises are 4×12 or 5×10, where chest will be 5×8 or 4×10.

Conversely, you might want to take the hardest exercises and drop the volume a bit. Deadlifts are a good example, where 5×5 is more than enough work. Or 7 sets of 3 reps of weighted pullups, which is only 21 reps total, is a lot of work.

Also, these rep ranges only work if you follow the “ramp up to one max set” method. As an example, if my best bench press is 225×5, and I expect to hit a PR today, I might do 5×7, like this:

  1. 135×7
  2. 160×7
  3. 185×7
  4. 205×7
  5. 225×6 (almost hit 7 today, but I made the PR of 6)

Only that last set was “all out”. So you get a growth stimulus of pushing your limit and breaking new ground, but also the volume of the 4 previous sets without blowing out your central nervous system. You can play around with this, and you COULD do 205×7 for 5 sets… But for me, always aiming for a PR just yields better results. I try to PR on the final set of every exercise, in every workout. And if I’m eating enough, training hard enough, resting enough, and rotating my exercises properly, it will happen.

There is a lot to be said for simplicity in exercise programming. The fitness industry pushes all types of overly complicated workouts and exercise plans – it seems somehow we all feel like the key to fitness must be complicated, expensive, or come in a pill.

The truth is, the answer is just simple, consistent, hard work. AND it doesn’t cost a damn thing. Success in all areas of fitness is actually simple. Maybe not easy, but it is simple. Eat less. Move more. Be consistent. Here’s a “move more” example:

You want to improve your abs, but you don’t know where to start. Surfing the internet gives you a million ideas, all with different exercises, rep ranges and theories. Or maybe you decide to go to the bookstore and find a book on abs, which might be the thickness of a textbook, full of anatomy charts and hundreds of different abdominal exercises. But the answer doesn’t really doesn’t have to be so complicated. Not only does it not have to be complicated, it shouldn’t be. The simpler the prescription, the easier it will be to implement and be consistent with.

If you’re going to consistently keep doing something, it needs to be simple enough that you can actually do it, and repeat it, consistently, over a long period of time.

Here’s a simple workout prescription for abs – do this three times a week:

  • 3 sets of planks
  • 3 sets of v-ups
  • 3 sets of Russian twists

That’s it. In six months get back to me and tell me how amazed you are with your results.

Too easy? Just do a bit more every time. Longer duration planks. More reps or sets on the v-ups and twists. Build up slowly but always try for a just a little bit more.

I got this idea specifically from Runner’s World and Mike Rutt, an 800m runner who made the Olympic trials, who did this exact routine for 5 years. Unfortunately the video file type is not supported by WordPress, but this link will get you there until I figure out a workaround:


Want to lose weight? Run. Want to get in shape? Run. It actually works for everyone. I know, I know, maybe you can’t run, but if you set “being able to run” as your goal, and work your butt off to get to that point, you will definitely be more fit than you are now. And if you can’t run, that is probably something you should be working on. Is your knee busted up? Let’s work on fixing that. Foot issues? Ankles? Hips? Arthritis? Obese? It doesn’t matter. Whatever is holding you back, that’s what we need to work on. If you can walk, we can start there. Can’t walk? Well, then we have to work on that first!