Training a Bride-To-Be

Kellie Rongo

I recently worked with a young lady that had a wedding to attend in her near future. It was hers! It was exciting, scary and even super stressful at times. She came to me with many goals in mind for this day (mostly regarding her physical appearance) and needed a program to follow and accountability to get there. Without hesitation, I knew that we had to do one thing: get stronger.

My “get stronger” focus came about because I knew if we did that, everything else would fall in to place. But to get stronger, a few very important things had to happen.

In this order:

1) Get nutrition nailed down

2) Train smart, consistently and intensely

3) Sleep well

Luckily, this bride to be had given me plenty of time to help her get where she wanted to be. We started about 8 months out from the wedding day.


The first order of business was nutrition, no doubt. This may be the biggest factor for anyone who wants to get in shape, build muscle, lose fat, get stronger, perform better, etc. This is often overlooked, as many people will change nothing when it comes to their diet and expect their training to trump the crappy diet they’ve sunk into over the last 5+ years. I’m sure you have heard it before- “you can’t outwork a bad diet” is 100% true.

We started with a rough calorie goal but mostly focused on a macronutrient-based diet while making sure she got all the MICROnutrients and hydration she needed, too. We wanted to look good AND feel good. I prescribed specific daily macro goals and her job was to hit it 80-90% of the time. I knew if we did this for 8 months, the results would come. We checked in each training session to make sure things were on track.


This was fun because Bride To Be was a former college athlete and a former Crossfitter. You know that got me excited! I wrote a 10-week program to get her started, focusing on compound movements that work many different muscle groups at the same time; trying to get the best bang for our buck!

We followed a linear progression for the squat, sumo deadlift (because an extra nice booty for the wedding would be great), overhead press and bench press, adding weight incrementally each week. We focused on mastering those challenging bodyweight movements such as the pullup, chinup, and pushups.

We also threw in the power clean, mostly because who doesn’t want to throw heavy weight around sometimes?! If the weight we added wasn’t moving the way we wanted it to, we would lower the weight just a bit and focus on better form/technique, more repetitions at that weight, or just simply moving that weight faster. These are all great gages of improvement in the gym.

Her maxes were re-tested after 10 full weeks of work and just as we thought, her numbers went up. A LOT.

Conditioning/work capacity efforts were mixed in each week and we were constantly doing accessory movements to help increase the weight on those big lifts. Maintaining/increasing our trunk strength was also a priority in order to stay durable and injury-free throughout the entire process (certainly NOT because doing 10 thousand sit-ups a day gives you a six pack- please don’t do that!).

Training was fun and she worked HARD! We took full advantage of the time we had together in the gym. She showed up ready to train hard for 2-3 sessions each week and as the wedding got closer, we trained together 4-5 times/week. She would train on her own as well, taking at least one full rest day every week.


Sleep is inarguably one of the most important aspects of health and fitness. If you do not get enough quality sleep and rest, you are truly missing out on the gains. During that wonderfully amazing deep sleep, your body gets to process, grow and recover from the hard training sessions that day. If you miss out on it, you’re putting yourself at serious risk for injuries, fatigue, illness, etc.

In this specific case, Future Mrs. worked NIGHTS! Yikes. I knew this could be a challenge, really getting her on a regular/routine sleep schedule, but we did it… for the most part. Recovering from workouts was not an issue as long as she followed her nutrition program and got some quality rest.

Through all of this, we took progress photos. Seeing your numbers increase for a bunch of lifts is one of the best feelings ever, but I don’t know if there’s anything that beats a side by side progress picture. 

Here are a few progress photos that I have permission to share with you:

Jamie Wedding Dress for blog.jpeg

This all happened because our focus was to get build muscle. It wasn’t to lose weight, get skinny, or to just simply “tone up.” It was extremely hard work, dedication, and commitment to a well-rounded strength and conditioning program. Take note: lifting weights did NOT make this bride “bulky.”

I will never forget when she texted me and said “We did it! I felt like the most beautiful girl in the world.” Marked that down as a big W.

Brides, grooms, and everyone else reading this: If you work on getting STRONG, all the good things you want to happen to your body will come along with it! The time, effort, and sweat will all be worth it when you look good and feel good on your special day.

Part 1: Exploring Jiu Jitsu - Focused Strength and Conditioning Training


I’ve recently begun reading research papers on the physical demands of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), as well as exploring what’s currently out there from coaches offering strength and conditioning (S&C) training for the sport.

Surprisingly, there is a decent amount of physiological/exercise science-focused research on the sport. Equally surprising is the small number of commercial offerings for BJJ focused strength and conditioning programming.

As Part 1 of what I think will be a 3-Article series, I want to focus on what’s currently out there for BJJ consumers to purchase. I’m not going to bash any individual or business, but rather highlight areas that I believe can be improved upon.

Part 2 will analyze the research that’s been conducted within academia, and Part 3 will be my recommendations on how to integrate an S&C program into your training.

So here we go… What I don’t like from what exists currently:

  • Over-reliance on a single method of training - From what I’ve seen, nearly all of the BJJ S&C training falls into one of three categories:

    1) Barbell/Big Lift Training

    2) Bodyweight/Gymnastic Training

    3) Kettlebell Training

While each of these training methods has merits, I don’t believe they should be trained in isolation, especially when preparing your body for a sport. From my own observations, coaches who do this are programming according to their own preference and likely, what they already excel at. Integrating movements for definable, measurable goals to develop a more well-rounded athlete should be the goal. I don’t think you can do that with just one method of training.

  • Focus on the competitor player, not the hobbyist - Many of the programs seem hyper-focused on the serious BJJ competitor. By serious BJJ competitor, I mean those who make the time and financial investment to travel great distances in order to compete at the various national and international competitions.

    I can only speak from my experience at two separate gyms in my very short time in BJJ, but this seems to apply to 1-5% of BJJ players… and that might be a high estimate. For the rest of us, the hobbyists, we’re fighting life obligations to train a couple of times a week, compete occasionally at local tournaments (or not all), and have fun while not getting injured.

From an S&C standpoint, the training demands are vastly different.

  • Time is money, and money is money - If we’re focusing on the hobbyist, then time requirements are a major consideration. The same goes for equipment requirements. Not all can afford two gym membership, or buy their own equipment. Providing options with those considerations in mind should be paramount.

  • Durability training - One of the biggest downers is getting banged up and missing mat time. The physical nature of the sport makes some variety of injury an inevitability, but the same could be same for any other sport, including non-contact sports. However, I believe we can improve durability and resiliency with specific methods of training to help prevent some of the nagging injuries.

  • Fucking Old Guys (FOGs) - The durability issue becomes even more primary as we get older. For the old guys, training scars accumulate and compound over years of training (or just life for a FOG BJJ newbie). The FOG group really needs training that is focused on mitigating/correcting poor body mechanics, maintaining a strength base for durability, and easing joints into improved ranges of motion.

  • Stand-alone cycles and/or misplaced periodization - For competitors and hobbyists, BJJ doesn’t have a defined season. I’ve read a few programs that suggest American style strength periodization (Hypertrophy —> Strength —> Power —> In-Season) is appropriate for BJJ.

This is not appropriate for a BJJ. Like Bruce Lee said, be the water my friend. We need to be able to ebb and flow our S&C training to develop strength and cardiovascular conditioning without negatively affecting our BJJ training. S&C should compliment the sport, not the other way around. I think we can do better.

Questions, comments, concerns or any other feedback? Leave a comment below or email

The Devil Press Work Capacity Assessment


Our current cycle, “Man in Black” began with the Devil Press Work Capacity Assessment. As with all of our programming, we want to use an assessment that we test at the beginning and end of the cycle to ensure we a measurable metric of improvement.

If you’re new to LOD Athlete, work capacity training is where we tie together our strength work, aerobic conditioning, and trunk strength in a short duration, higher intensity training session. You can have an incredible lung capacity, but not be able to move the assigned weight. You might be strong as an ox, but you’ll crash a few minutes into the training. We strive to build balanced athletes that are strong, well conditioned, and move across all the movement planes that humans are capable of.

The Devil Press Work Capacity Assessment is a killer. Check it out.

5 Rounds of 90 seconds
30 seconds rest between Rounds

5x Devil Press @ 15/25 lbs. dumbbells
6x Touch Jump Touch


Each round, the athlete does 5x Devil Press, then 6x Touch Jump Touch as many times as they can in 5 minutes. The number of rounds completed within the round are recorded, as well as any completed reps of exercises. The athlete rests for 30 seconds, then resumes the assessment for a total of 5x 5 Minute rounds. Total rounds completed are added, and total reps in incomplete rounds are added up for the final score.

For example:

Round 1: 2 Rounds + 5 Devil Press

Round 2: 2 Rounds + 3 Devil Press

Round 3: 2 Rounds + 5 Devil Press

Round 4: 2 Rounds + 1 Devil Press

Round 5: 2 Rounds + 5 Devil Press + 2 Touch Jump Touch

Score: 10 Rounds + 21 Reps

With this effort, the athlete is moving a submaximal load dynamically with upperbody pushing and explosive hip extension, plus moving laterally in the touch jump touch. The lactic acid buildup is very noticeable around Round 3, at least for me.

Give it a shot and let us know how you did. We’re looking forward to re-assessing at the end of Man in Black to see how we’ve improved.

Want to give Man in Black a try? Check out our online training subscription for more details. You’ll dig it or your money back.

Simple, No Bullshit Nutrition

By Kellie Rongo

As we noted in our last post, training can be overcomplicated although it doesn’t have to be. The same goes for nutrition. With all of the fad diets and influencers spreading their nonsense online, it’s hard to tell the right way to do it.

Very simply put- the easiest way to eat healthy is to consume mostly whole foods; focus on quality protein sources (meat, eggs, fish, dairy...), smart carbohydrates (whole grains, colorful fruit/veggies, sweet potatoes...), healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, nut butters...), minimize your alcohol consumption, and stay hydrated.

Sort of boring, I know... but here’s the good news!

You don’t have to do this 100% of the time. This is where the term “flexible dieting” comes into play, which really just means that you can have your sweet treats and beer and whatever else sometimes, just not all the time.

A general rule to follow is the 80/20 Rule. The 80/20 Rule... you behave on your “diet” 80% of the time. The other 20% is a free for all! Seriously. Have your pie, milkshakes, chocolate, or beer… or all of it, if you feel like it! If you eat well 80% of the time, it will outweigh the 20% of the other stuff and you’ll be just fine.

Digging a little deeper...

If your goal is to gain weight (muscle or fat), you should eat enough to be in a caloric surplus.

If you want to maintain your current bodyweight, you should eat at your maintenance calories. 

And finally, if you want to lose weight, you should eat less than your maintenance calories, putting you in a caloric deficit. This is the only way to lose body fat. Period. It does not matter what diet you follow, if you are losing body fat, you are in a caloric deficit. 

There are many ways that this can get more complex, like calculating your specific macronutrients, following a meal plan, etc… but leave all of that stuff to a coach. It will make your life a lot easier.

Precision Nutrition uses an awesome portion control guide that I’ll share here:


Ladies, this is for you. Men, you get 2x everything below……. Lucky!


Hydration is another major part of healthy eating and living. Fluid intake and output vary based on sex, age, exertion, and climate, among other things... but it is generally easy for us to stay hydrated just by listening to our bodies and using our thirst sensation as a guide. Drink when you’re thirsty. Sounds easy enough, right? Until you live in Charleston anytime between June and September!

If you need some real numbers to shoot for, your average human being who is relatively sedentary (has a desk job/is moderately active outside of work) should drink 6-8 cups of water a day.

Athletes and/or anyone with a profession that requires a ton of manual labor should be aiming toward 10-12 cups a day.

And last but not least, if you’re here in good ole Charleston during the hot summer months, we should be shooting for 12-14 cups a day. That sounds like a lot but when you think of how much we sweat during our 1-hour training sessions or even just going for a short walk outside, it makes a lot of sense to just keep filling up your tank.

For athletes working towards a specific goal, it can become a bit more complex. Significant weight loss, optimizing athletic performance, or training for a specific event are great examples. This is where we can help. Check it out here if you think this applies to you.

Simple, No Bullshit Training Rules


The internet is rife with fitness rules, tips, and “top 5 exercises.” They’ll tell you that you must follow a certain kind of diet, eat this superfood, or take that supplement. It’s hard to separate the bullshit from the truth.

I’m proud of the training we do at Line of Departure Athlete. We don’t sell bullshit. We put a lot of time and effort into writing our programs and coaching our athletes.

We (the coaches) do the same programming as our athletes to make sure it works and flows as we intended. If I fucked up writing a program, I adjust it according to the feedback from the athletes and coaches.

The bottom line is, the rules are simple.

Here are the rules to live by:

Crawl, Walk, Run: Understand what your fitness level is, and train accordingly. Everyone wants to jump to what the pro athletes are doing, but for vast majority of us, it’s wildly inappropriate. If you haven’t trained in some time, start slow, and work your way up.

Use progressions: I’ve talked about this many times, but if your training program doesn’t have some kind of progression, you are spinning your wheels. We want to move forward.

Form first: If your reps look ugly, don’t go shooting for your 1-Rep Max. Fix your squats, hinges, pushing, and pulls… then start moving challenging weight.

Simple is usually better: Keep your training progressions simple and your exercises simpler. Sexy exercises can look exciting, but is it really helping you get where you want to be? KISS rule applies.

Eat whole foods: I’m not talking about the supermarket. If your food moved or grew and then went to your dinner with minimal changes in appearance, you’re on the right track. Find someone who will hold you accountable if you can’t hold yourself accountable. Paging Coach Kellie….

Stick to the plan, be accountable, be patient: Find a good plan (preferably a LOD Athlete plan) and stick to it. This fitness stuff doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the long road. Adjust your mindset accordingly.

Strength and conditioning has many different approach’s that can get complex. As a athlete (yes, you are a athlete), you don’t need to worry about this. If you want to learn more the methods behind the madness, I’m always happy to explain the why of what we’re doing. If your coach can’t explain the “why” question, then it’s time to move on. Find a good coach and a good program, and put in the work.

Training Observations: Attention Deficit Disorder and Peacocking

I’ve happened to train at a couple of different gyms the best few months, both large scale and small. It has been interesting to get back out to see the world of fitness, since I’ve been training at my own gym, a gym I was directly employed by, or a military gym.

Come to think of it, it’s been about a decade.

The people I’ve trained with over that period are generally like-minded. There is a business-like approach to training. It’s just something that we do.

Workout Attention Deficit Disorder


High Intensity Interval Training has made its way into the world of corporate gyms. They nearly all have cage squat racks, kettlebells, tires, and turf. That equipment doesn’t sit unused, either. It seems like nearly as many people are using that equipment as some of the classic big gym machines (pec deck machine, anyone?).

However, the rise of CrossFit and it’s many lookalikes has created a weird environment of parlor tricks. I saw a middle aged man, who had a long way to go on his fitness journey, trying to do handstand walks. I saw a very young girl attempting to do snatch’s, and doing it poorly.

This is what I’ll coin Workout ADD.

This isn’t a knock on CrossFit, but I think they’ve played a role in this. Even CrossFit HQ has shifted gears in their marketing endeavors to focus more on the average joe instead of the studs competing in the CrossFit Games.

Gym people have likely always tried to do things their body isn’t ready for since the inception of the gym. On one hand, I admire it. You must fail 1,000 times before you succeed. However, that path generally follows some kind of progression. Crawl, walk, then run.

The availability of social media fitness celebs vying for a sponsorship makes them hypercompetitive to create click-bait, look at me kind of content. So, they do some crazy shit. Because these people are very fit already, they’re generally capable of doing some kind of crazy body contortion or exceptionally heavy advanced lift.

This stuff is eye catching, and so people try it. They want to get more fit, so they think this might be the way. Instead of following a well-thought out program, they try and do movements or workout of the day that is entirely inappropriate for them.

In an age where so much strength and conditioning information is readily available, it is unfortunate that we can’t get more folks on a focused and direct path to training in an intelligent manner



Peacocking is nothing new to the gym environment. For those unfamiliar, urban dictionary defines peacocking as “dressing for attention. Just like Peacock's use their feathers to get a mate.”

Before I go down this road, let me go full disclosure: I often workout without a shirt. This is because it’s 90-110 degrees here in Charleston for half the year. It’s fucking hot. When I was younger, I certainly wore some dumb shirts with the sleeves cut off to impress the girls (never worked).

The big change is the outfits women now wear. It’s the rise of the female peacock. Skin tight shorts with the under-butt hanging out and sports bras that are so low cut that I don’t fully understand how they stay in place.


It’s amazing in a way, but it’s also kind of strange.

I’m all for female empowerment and being proud of their bodies, but it also seems over the top. Over the top in the way we look at pictures of outfits from the 70’s and 80’s and think… what the fuck were they thinking?

Again, I think we’ve got an easy target in the fitness social media influencers. Just search around for any female with “fit” at the end of their username, and you’ll see what I mean.

What’s it all mean?

I’m not really sure. It’s certainly interesting to observe for someone who has spent a large portion of their life training in a gym.

What I really enjoy about training with the athletes of LOD (all of shapes, sizes, gender, and ages) is that we seem to really have that business like attitude to training.

Our training is programmed far in advance with metrics and progressions to take the most direct line to a well-rounded, fit athlete. We show up, we get after it, and then we go about our day (sometimes after a post-training beer).

You won’t see anyone doing something that they aren’t physically prepared to do, and you won’t see any peacocking. I’m happy with that.





Appropriate Rest Ratio's for Strength Training

Lift weights, get stronger. The equation is simple, right?

Well, there is more to it than that.

Strength training comes in several different packages that rely on the application of appropriate sets, reps, and rest. Your specific goal for strength training (I want to get huge, I want to be stronger, I want to create more power) needs to be defined, and then apply the appropriate strength training parameters to see real progress.

Before you read any further, know this: If you are a novice lifter (roughly one year or less of regular strength training), just about any kind of strength training you do is going to make you stronger. Your body is rapidly adapting to the demands you’ve imposed upon it, because you’ve never put these stressors on it before.

The information below will apply more directly to the intermediate to advanced lifters who use the principles of assessment based progressions and Specific Adaption to Imposed Demand (SAID).

Understanding Basic Strength Training Rep Schemes

The chart below shows the effect of reps on the various strength developments. We’ll break is down a little further. (Note: These rep ranges are averages across a wide sample base. It’s widely accepted as a good guideline, but your specific genetic make-up also plays a role in how your body reacts and adapts.)

NSCA Basics of Strength Training

NSCA Basics of Strength Training

Strength & Power - This means training to be able to lift the maximum amount of weight, or training to generate the maximum amount of power. Weight percentages are not the same for strength and power, but the rep scheme is generally the same. (Max strength = 80-95% 1RM, Max Power = 60-75% 1RM)

Ideal Rep Range for Strength is 1-8 reps for each set. Ideal rep range for Power is 1-5 reps for each set.

Hypertrophy - This is the growth at the cellular level of your muscle. While maximal strength will increase muscle size, it’s significantly less than hypertrophy training. Inversely, hypertrophy training will get you stronger, but not at the same rate as maximal strength/power training. 70% 1RM is the sweet spot for hypertrophy training, although it can go up or down dependent on the amount of reps in each set (more reps = less weight, less reps = more weight).

Ideal rep range for Hypertrophy is 8-13

Muscular Endurance - This allows your musculature to become more resistant to fatigue over longer periods of time. You’ll often see this style of strength training applied to endurance athletes such as runners and cyclists, whose training and competition are over much longer periods of time. The musculature is trained to clear lactate/acidosis at a faster rate, delaying and reducing fatigue. Loading for muscular endurance is much lighter - around 50% 1RM.

Ideal rep range for Muscular Endurance is 13+ reps per set.

How Long to Rest Between Sets?

The amount of rest you take between sets plays an important role in developing whichever version of strength you’re developing. The rest period is determined by its relationship with the energy system that is being harnessed to actually fuel your body to lift the weight.

Strength & Power - For lower rep, heavier load lifting, your body relies on the Adenosine Triphosphate Phosphocreatine System (ATP-PC). This fuels your body for very short duration, explosive movements. For strength training, we want to allow the body to fully recover so that you’re able to fully contract your musculature to lift the heavy load.

Ideally, take 3 minutes between sets for strength/power training.

Hypertrophy - As we shift to hypertrophy training, a few things shift. First, we now have of a mix of ATP-PC and Glycolytic energy systems fueling your body. While ATP is good for 10-15 seconds of body jet fuel, the glycolytic energy system takes over after that to provide the majority of the energy (until you shift to a aerobic state). With both energy systems in the mix, you need less rest time. Additionally, less rest time during hypertrophy training has a excellent anabolic hormonal response which triggers muscle growth.

Ideal rest for hypertrophy training is 1-2 minutes

Muscular Endurance - Because these sets will take much more time, we’re now drawing energy in a mix of glycolytic and aerobic. Aerobic energy systems can be utilized for much longer since it oxygen based, which is readily and constantly available (Think of the difference of your pace in a 200m sprint and a 5 mile run). Since we’re training the body to reduce acidosis/lactate, we want to shorten the rest period even further to enhance the results.

Ideal rest for muscular endurance 1:1 work:rest. So if your set took 45 seconds, take between 45 seconds-60 seconds of rest.


Strength training can truly be fine tuned to provide the adaption that you want your body to make, but you need the information to get it there. The key to all of this information is utilizing a progression to continuously challenge your body to adapt.

Will you not see any results if you take 2 minutes instead of 3 minutes for strength training? No… this doesn’t need to be exact unless you are really fine tuning your strength for a powerlifting meet or a bodybuilding show. The information above should give a tool to put in your tool belt to enhance your training and optimize work.

Enjoy nice training!

Cycle Overview: Man In Black


Man in Black

Focus: Balanced Work Capacity and Strength 

Cycle Overview:

This 8-week cycle is a bit of a departure from our normal programming style. It’s the first ‘balanced cycle’ where we will train equal parts strength and work capacity, instead of a focus on one performance attribute while maintaining the other. Also, we’re only going to train 4x/week during this cycle. Wednesday is programmed as a rest day due to the intensive nature of the strength days on Tuesday and Friday. 

The strength progression includes some classic hypertrophy work, focused on the posterior chain via the deadlift. The progression has two 4-week blocks in this cycle, and will continue with a final 4-week block in the cycle which will follow Man in Black.

The first block of the progression starts with 5x15 rep scheme on Tuesday’s and Friday’s, building load incrementally. The second block lowers the rep scheme to 5x10, but increases the load. 

The loading is percentage based - you’ll see an assigned percentage for each lift. This percentage should be based on your last 1 Rep Max, or a approximation of your 1RM. Use the first week to play around with the loading. We rarely use strength rep schemes this high, so the end-state is to use a weight that challenging, but still able to complete all rounds and reps with perfect form. 

We’ll use a similar rep scheme for our upper body work with varying exercises to continue to develop our upper body pushing and pulling strength. 

The work capacity assessment is based on the Devil Press and Touch Jump Touch’s. You’ll assess at the beginning and the end of the cycle. The other work capacity efforts will focus on developing the traits of the demand of those movements. This is a tough assessment - we assigned a 15lbs dumbbells for females and 25lbs dumbbells for men, but scale the weight according to your capabilities. 

As always, we’ll grind through Trunk Strength circuits following the Work Capacity efforts. These are great accessory movements to develop your pulling strength throughout the strength progression. Don’t skip them!

Weekly Break Down:

  • Mon: Work Capacity + Trunk Strength

  • Tues: Strength

  • Wed: Rest

  • Thurs: Work Capacity + Trunk Strength

  • Fri: Strength

CLICK HERE to get started with ‘Man in Black’ with our online programming subscription!

Give Yourself the Best Chance to Go Home

I recently completed the fire academy for the city of Charleston’s Fire Department. It was a long process which had its own physical and mental challenges. 

At one point during the Academy, an instructor said something that I immediately scribbled down into my notebook.

“Always give yourself the best chance to go home.”

The instructor said this with the context of each individual having the appropriate skill set and technical proficiency required to complete the task skillfully, and safely. 

I thought about this for a moment, and realized that it is not only an excellent state of mind for fire service personnel, but for all of us as it relates to physical training and health. 

The United States faces a mostly unspoken health crisis. 160 million Americans are either obese or overweight. Nearly three quarters of American men and 60% of women fall into one of those categories.  


The trend for America’s youth is even more troubling. Nearly 30% of boys and and girls under the age of 20 are obese or overweight, a 11% increase since 1980. 


71% of Americans between 17 and 24 years of age are ineligible to serve in the military. The majority of those are due to health problems or physical fitness. 


Simply stated, these people are not giving themselves the best chance to go home. 

Overweight and obese individuals face higher rates of disease, and take significantly longer to recover from injuries. 

There are circumstances for some that are major obstacles in turning the corner to achieve a healthier life… but for the majority, it can be done with time management, information, dedication, and coaching. 

So ask yourself:

  • Have you been delaying your New Years resolution since 2012 to get back in the gym? 

  • Wish you had more energy to commit to your family, profession, or hobbies?

  • Want to be #strongerfasterbetterlookingnaked?

Or simply put, you want to give yourself the best chance to go home.

If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then take action. Build the habits now to have a long, happy, and healthy life for yourself and your loved ones. You owe it to them, and you. 

Cycle Overview: Triphasic Strength



Cycle Overview:

This ten week, 5x/week cycle will focus on developing strength utilizing a strength progression based on the research of collegiate strength and conditioning coach, Cal Dietz. This cycle is broken into three separate training blocks, each focusing on a specific type of muscle contraction.

Block 1 focuses on eccentric muscle contractions, with a specifically timed slow descent during the lift, followed by explosively coming out of the bottom of the lift.

Block 2 focuses on the isometric muscle contractions, holding at the bottom of the lift for a specific amount of time before lifting the weight back up.

Block 3 focuses on concentric movements, which is the ‘traditional’ style of lifting where you descend normally and come out of the bottom of the lift rapidly with no pause. Sounds complicated? It’s not – the programming breaks it all down for you.

The cycle will assess your strength via a 1RM Hang Squat Clean, 3RM Back Squat, and 3RM Bench Press. You will assess once at the beginning of the cycle, and at the very end. We will focus on strength 3x/week, as well as 1x work capacity efforts and 1x aerobic endurance/trunk strength effort to keep your conditioning in check. This will be a challenging cycle, and it relies on following a set of protocols outlined below to maximize the work. Don’t go full meathead Week 1 - follow the training techniques below and you’ll see outstanding results, no matter your lifting experience

  • Be Smart on Your Assessment

Your reps on the strength assessments should be damn near perfect. No starfishing on the cleans, no bent back on the squats, no back arch on the bench. Strong, solid, perfect reps!

  • Eccentric, Isometric, Concentric

If you don’t quite understand what this stuff means, CLICK HERE to watch a video on these three types of muscle contractions. The eccentric & isometric lifts are especially demanding – always use a spotter!!

  • Sets/Reps & Prescribed Loading

The sets/reps prescribed are at your working load. Take as rounds as needed to work up to that load, and then complete the programming. 

  • Failing Reps & Resets

If you complete all sets and reps as prescribed, continue following the prescribed progression on the next session. If you fail on 1-2 reps of the total prescribed, use that same load for the next session.  

  • Does Your Hang Squat Clean Suck?

If you’re not confident in performing a Hang Squat Clean, I want you to do Hang Power Clean’s instead. Don’t worry - you’re not missing… as you’ll still generate the same amount (or more) of power per lift with a Hang Power Clean. 

Weekly Break Down:

  • Mon: Strength 

  • Tues: Aerobic + Trunk Strength

  • Wed: Strength

  • Thurs: Work Capacity + Trunk Strength

  • Fri: Strength 

Quick FAQ’s

  • All exercises are linked to demo videos. Click and watch if you’re unfamiliar. 

  • Equipment: This is a gym plan. You’ll need access to a squat racks, bumper plates, barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, etc. 

Ready to train online? CLICK HERE to get signed up. $19/mo and a money back guarantee.

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Why You Need The Deload Week


By Kellie Rongo

As much as we love to train hard and heavy day in and day out, it is easy to forget the benefits of a deload week and how important it really is in order to keep progressing and getting the gains we’re all here for. 

What does “deload” or “deload week” mean? 

A deload is a period of time, usually 4-7 days, that is worked into your training regime where training frequency, intensity and weights lifted are lowered substantially to help you and your body adapt and recover properly.


Typically this will be every 6-10 weeks, depending on what type of training you’re doing. This does not mean you have to sit your ass on the couch for a week eating potato chips and drinking beer; quite frankly, that’s the last thing we want you to do during a deload. Staying active is super important during these times. Of course, if your body is telling to you be lazy as hell for a day, have at it. Those days are good sometimes, too, but you shouldn’t need them all too often.

Side note: Taking a few days off from the gym every 6-10 weeks will NOT make you weaker. You will not wither away to nothing like you may feel/think. I promise.

With all of that being said, listen up…

No Recovery = No Adapting = Performance Decline. Go back and read that again. 100% truth.

You can not train at 80-90% of your max effort like we have been for the last 8 weeks and still reap the max benefits of your training program. If you think about it, it makes total sense. We train hard using what is called the overload principle so that we can get these big gains, but each time we train that hard, we have to remember that we are intentionally putting stress on our body so that we can get stronger/faster/whatever, which will inevitably cause fatigue.

If you do not recover from this fatigue properly, you will not be lifting as heavy as you want to be during your daily training, which totally defeats the purpose. After all, the goal is to continuously get better at whatever you’re working on and we certainly don’t want to regress. But really, all of this stuff mentioned is OK; we want to work hard enough to be tired, we want our muscles and even our minds to be tired, we just have to take the time to allow our body to adapt to this all this stress we are putting on it.

Benefits of deload recovery periods include…

  1. Increased motivation to train hard again! This is a big deal so I made it #1. Personally, if I take a few days off from the gym or train light for a few days, I am BEYOND ready to train hard again after that. I know this is the case for most of you, too. You feel hungry again. There is nothing like resting up, allowing yourself to kind of crave that hard training again, and coming back to crush it.

  2. You SHOULD be and probably will be stronger after a deload period. If you do this every 6-10 weeks, you will train harder during those weeks, recover well after, and your “baseline” should be higher than when you started. (A good example of this is when we finish a cycle at LOD, take a few lighter training days + a weekend, then come back for our first assessments for the next cycle and typically feel strong, motivated, and ready to kill the next 6-8 weeks of work.)

  3. Injury risk goes down. I’m sure with how many times I’ve said recover and adapt in this post, you already get the point of this one. If you’re extremely fatigued, you probably won’t move as well, form may break down, muscles, tendons, ligaments, other supportive tissues, etc. will be taking a beating. This means your chances of getting hurt go up. Injuries suck, so we want to do the best we can to prevent them.

  4. Give yourself a mental break every so often. Take a breather. Change up your day in, day out routine a little. It’s just good for the soul. :)

  5. Preventing body or mind burnout- You never want to allow yourself to get to the point of burnout where you’re feeling like crap, not even wanting to hit the gym, feeling unmotivated, and not performing well in the gym and maybe in other parts of your life, too. If you’ve never felt this, that’s good. Eventually you’ll get there if you have the “I don’t take breaks from the gym” attitude.

I’m sure there’s a longer list of benefits but these are some very important ones. Of course, everyone’s needs for a break in training are different, but always remember to listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Small/nagging injuries, lack of motivation and not hitting the numbers you’re supposed to hit are all good signs that it’s time to deload. Manage your training well so you can get the maximum benefits from all the hard work you put in!

Nutrition Coaching - What is it and why should you consider it?

What Is a Nutrition Coach? 
By Coach Kellie Rongo

When it comes down to it, a nutrition coach is someone who teaches you how and why to fuel your body well which will lead you to feeling, looking, operating, and performing better in your every day life. My purpose is to make a meaningful, positive difference in your life through nutrition. 

I struggled with that title at first- only because the first thing you’d think about is the D word… Diet… *barf*. Who the hell wants to be on one of those?

A lot of people may think of a nutrition coach as a coach for bodybuilders cutting for a show or maybe a coach for someone who is sick in some way and has to follow a strict diet. Or, they just think of the word diet and assume it’s not an option for them.

But me? I’m really none of the above. I want to work with everyone outside of those categories. I want to be a coach for someone that just simply needs a plan to follow, just like we need a plan to follow for training at the gym. You could be a 60 year old woman that wants to be healthier in order to live longer, you could be a middle aged man that wants to lose some belly fat, or a young lady who has a wedding in the near future. You could even be a young athlete that just wants to perform well at your sport, whatever that may be. Hell, maybe you hate to exercise but you want to be healthy, feel good and look good. And I got you, too.


I noticed right off the bat that there are many different types of clients that want nutrition coaching and the coolest part is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it as long as you guide your client to a better, healthier lifestyle (and get those RESULTS).

I have to adapt to each of my clients individually because every single one of you will adhere to different diets best, learn in different ways, want to eat and drink different things, have different performance and/or body image goals, etc. No one nutrition plan is the same as the other. You are unique; so is your nutrition.

And the same goes for nutrition as for exercise: Find something that works for you that is sustainable and RUN with it! My style of coaching is truly special in the sense that I don’t want to take away everything you love to eat/drink.


I have a questionnaire that I have every client fill out and it includes questions like “What do you enjoy eating? What can you not live without” and the opposite, “What foods do you HATE? What do you refuse to eat?” We all have these things and that’s good! We want to enjoy our food and we really don’t need to eat things we are disgusted by.

I’m human, just like you, and I have quite a few guilty pleasure foods. Ex: I feel like I can not live one day without eating peanut butter. So, guess what? I work it in to my plan and I enjoy every little bit of it. I have one client now that really loves dark chocolate. Can you imagine if I just said “nope, sorry, going to have to cut it out.” That relationship probably would not have lasted very long, and the nutrition plan probably wouldn’t have made it a week. I am a true believer that restricting is not the answer. 

If all of that wasn’t a good enough reason to hire a nutrition coach, maybe these will be…

  1. You don’t have time to think about these things

    Let’s face it, your brain space is taken up by other things. You’re busy with work, school, your kids, getting to the gym, family, trying to get enough sleep, and everything else on your plate. Why not let someone who is trained and experienced get you on the right track?

  2. Save on medical bills

    Seems nuts, but it’s true. A lot of recent research shows that if you have a personal trainer or a nutrition coach, you’ll be healthier. You being healthier = less trips to the doc. Period.

  3. It Feels Good

    I can’t tell you how many of my clients have come to me after a few weeks of following a plan saying how much better they feel and look, how much energy they have, and just how much better their body is operating (they can poop like champs!)

  4. You’ve probably tried other “diets” and failed

    Maybe you succeeded short term then fell off the wagon. A nutrition coach should be setting you up for short term AND long term success.

  5. You’ve seen results from the gym but you know there’s way more where that came from

    Your workouts are only part of it. To get the absolute BEST results, a combo of nutrition and exercise is the way to go.

I could list a lot of other reasons to consider a coach, but I think those are the main ones. Pretty convincing, huh? This whole happiness journey starts with owning your health- an exercise program and a nutrition coach together could certainly get you headed down the right path!

Interested in learning more? Schedule a free Nutrition Consult and talk with Kellie to learn more!

How Many Times a Week Should You Train?

It’s easy for me to sometimes forget that not everyone works at a gym and can’t necessarily make it in to train Monday through Friday. Life happens, and sometimes the easiest thing to give up for the day is training. It’s the reality for many with busy lives, busy jobs, and busy kids.

If you’ve been training with us for some time, you know that nearly all of our cycles have five training sessions per week.

If the emphasis of the training program is, for example, a work capacity cycle, that will normally mean we have a multiple effort, short duration - high intensity conditioning day paired with a trunk strength circuit on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays.

The Tuesday and Thursday training will be a strength training day, focused on the current progression from your assessment numbers.

Since the cycle emphasis work capacity, that is our main focus. The secondary focus is on strength maintenance - we’ll see strength increases from the start of the cycle to the end, but it’s not the main priority. This of course rotates during a strength focused cycle, but all of our programs have a strength component to them.

Why? Because strength is the foundation for everything that we do in the gym. Not only does it make us stronger, but it allows our musculature to become more resilient and perform longer when required.

So, let’s say you can only make it in a few days a week. Below is a list of how to most effectively use our training schedule (or, if you are following our online programming, how to schedule your own week).

We’ll use the week’s training from a past cycle as an example:

Screenshot 2019-01-20 12.01.02.png

Training 4x/Week: Pick two Work Capacity Days, and the two Strength training days. This allows for a nicely balanced cycle if you’re able to stay consistent - you may not see as much progression on your Work Capacity assessment, but you will still certainly see improvements. Your strength work will stay nice and consistent here as you follow along on the progressions.

Training 3x/Week: Pick two Work Capacity days, and one Strength training day. With this combination, we’re still meeting the intent of emphasizing the Work Capacity efforts while maintaining strength. Be careful to not skip progressions on the strength work. The coach’s keep track of where you are in the progression, but make sure you’re not skipping ahead. We don’t want you going from a 75% of your 3-rep max to 90% - follow the progression and always ask us if you don’t remember.

Training 2x/week: Pick one Work Capacity and one Strength training day. This isn’t ideal, but you’re still working along the progression ladder. If you’re new to training, you will still see improvements. If you’ve been training for years, you probably will stay at the same level from which you started. It’s better than nothing.

Training 1x/week: Pick one Work Capacity session and get after it. At this point, you are working out, not training. Training means we have a purpose and method to get you where you want to be. Working out means you’re just exercising and sweating. Again, it’s better than nothing, but you likely won’t see much improvement unless you’re very new to the world of fitness/exercising.

Not all of our cycles have the same construct, but most will. This should give you a decent idea of how to pick your days. We don’t program training for Saturdays, and our Coached Open Gym weekend hours are for athletes to catch up on a day.

We’ve allowed athletes in the gym to catch up on a day. So we might have one athlete doing Tuesday’s training session, while everyone else is doing Wednesday’s. It’s not ideal, but we believe strongly in the structure of the programming - it’s built with a purpose and we want to enable you to follow it as best as possible.

Everyone has different circumstances and demands on their time - make the commitment to coming in on certain days, and we will get you where you want to be!

Questions, comments? Email

Why We Do the 'No Sweat Intro'


Over the last several months we’ve implemented a “No Sweat Intro” for all those who walk through the doors of Line of Departure Athlete. Before we lift a single pound of weight, we want to sit down with each person.

This is our first interaction with you, the athlete, and plays an incredibly important role as we get started together.

Why do we do it?

  • Understand your motivations

    Not everyone who comes here has the same training goals. Some want to lose weight, some want to get stronger, some want to move better. Each person has a distinct motivation, and no two are alike. In order to get you where you want to go, we need to understand your “why.”

  • Understand your training history

Just like your motivation, each persons training history is varied. We have several impressive athletes with long training histories. We have others who are complete gym newbies and have to start from the ground up. Everyone will be pushed, but our understanding of your history allows us to provide the best possible service for you.

  • Understand your strengths & limitations

We all have strengths, and we all have limitations. Our mission is to encourage those strengths and blast through those limitations, but the reality is that previous injuries can initially limit what you can do. Understanding your injury history allows us to scale movements and intensities appropriate to what you can efficiently handle.

  • Determine Your Path Forward

We have multiple training, nutrition, and onboarding options. Our conversation will give us the information and ability to provide the absolute best recommendation for you going forward. This first interaction can often be the best indicator of whether you’ll flame out like a shooting star, or commit to a lifetime of training, health, and performance.

  • Assess & Reassess

    If you come to the gym now, you know that every single training cycle has an initial assessment, and a final assessment based on its focus. The same principle applies as we get into training - we want to hear what you’re happy with, what you want to improve, and what you hate (besides Sandbag Get Ups) to continuously keep you on the right track.

Ready to get started? Sign up for your No Sweat Intro by CLICKING HERE

Gym Ownership - Part 1 (Why, Influences, & Planning)

Why Open a Gym

The gym business is one of the most crowded industries in the country. Big commercial gyms, smaller micro-gyms, sport-specific gyms, pilates, spin, orange theory, the list goes on. Why go into it?

Strength and conditioning is something I do, every single day. I love training, and I love learning more about periodization, programming, and coaching. I’ve been involved in throwing weights around since I was 13, and much of my life is based around it. At this point, it might as well be in my DNA.

Gym ownership made sense - I’ve been training other for about ten years. I understand what right looks like. I also was fortunate work in three different business’s/organizations where training was the focal point, and saw examples to emulate and examples to steer clear of. This doesn’t mean I have the answer-key to the gym world, but I’m confident in my experiences and learning that we’re going down the right track.

Lastly, I wanted to make my own way in some form or fashion. Build a culture based on sound methodologies for all types. No trends or flavors of the week - focus on good programming and sound implementation to get athletes #strongerfasterbetterlookingnaked.

Financially, gym ownership is a big gamble. Lots of competition, high startup costs, and a fairly low return on investment. Microsoft isn’t going to offer me a million-dollar buyout.

So why do it? Ownership and community. Build your path, work hard, and see if it floats.

Planning and Influences

My family and I made the decision to come back to Charleston and start Line of Departure Athlete about a year before we actually made the move. I’m fortunate to have several friends who have forayed into this competitive industry, and have succeeded. I started by asking them several thousand A shout out to a few of the major players:

The owner of Mountain Tactical Institute, Rob Shaul (my former boss) taught me an incredible amount on coaching, programming, and life in general. I’m proud to employ many of his methodologies and to have the confidence in my own programming abilities to adapt programming to the needs of the athletes here in Charleston, SC. I’m also incredibly thankful to the athletes I had the pleasure of coaching in Jackson, WY… wildly impressive mountain-sport individuals who gave me an appreciation for the pursuits of climbing, mountain guiding, skiing, big game hunting, amongst many others. 

My close friend and brother-from-another-mother (BFAM) Brooks Woodfin, owner of Gym 22 in Jackson, WY endured all of my questions and showed me every number and blueprint behind the business curtain that I asked for. This kind of transparency is rare and I am grateful. Brooks has built a fantastic business for himself and for the well-being of his coaches. He’s also developed a fantastic culture at his gym where all shapes, sizes, and ages come in and get after it, day after day. 

Another BFAM, Ian Bowers, was likely my greatest sounding board on all aspects of the business and continues to be to this day. Ian and Hosea Sandstrom opened the first Crossfit gym (Lowcountry Crossfit) in the Charleston area in 2008, well before there was a micro-gym on every corner and in every shopping center. They hired me to coach while I was in college prior to the military, where I got my first experience coaching. The Lowcountry Crossfit community was incredibly close, and many of my closest friendships started there. Many of the athletes who train with us today are friends from the original gym, ten years later. 

Lastly, but most importantly, my wife has provided an incredible amount of understanding and support (both emotional and financial) as I planned to make my own way. Becky was pregnant when we made the decision to move and start the business - likely the worst time to try an entrepreneurial venture. She’s never wavered in her support and I am so grateful to her. 

The planning process was the same as any other business. I built a business plan, determined my budget, and revised as needed. The business plan can be onerous, and feels silly at times when predicting financials that are for the most part, made up or based on other business’s.

Regardless, it provided a structure and blueprint on the direction of the business that I certainly needed.

I met with representatives from the various Small Business associations, and generally didn’t walk away with much. The advice was too broad.

Fortunately, I found a gym-business mentorship service, Two Brain Business, which was incredibly helpful. They provided help on developing the systems and procedures that are truly needed for any business. Too often I got the feeling that many small business owners were winging it. The help from Two Brain was specific enough to this industry to give me confidence that it wouldn’t all fall apart if I stepped away for a day.

I saved up enough for the start-up costs plus six months of operating costs (about $30k in total). I was also advised to take out a loan. Despite my initial misgivings, I took out a loan of $20k, of which I only accepted $5k. This was a smart move, and I’m thankful I went through the process. It provided some extra cushioning for my personal financials as well as the business.

To be continued…

What's the Best Time of the Day to Train?

Training in the gym usually falls to a secondary priority for most of our athletes when compared to work, family, etc. It’s an understandable prioritization. Work pays the bills, family time is wonderful, and the occasional happy hour is needed every now and then.

Somewhere inbetween those big blocks of time we schedule our training. For those who work a standard work-day schedule, that means ass early in the morning or right after leaving the work place.

We train when we can, not when it’s optimal. It’s understandable, but the differences in when we time our training are significant.

This article by Bayesian Bodybuilding provides an excellent overview of the literature on timing and training based on multiple studies of testosterone production, muscle growth result trials, and your sleep cycle.

Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): The best time of the day to train is the window of 6 hours to 12 hours after waking from a complete sleep cycle. So if you falls asleep at midnight and wake at 8am (luck you), 2pm to 8pm is your optimized training time.

From a performance perspective, the increase in strength and/or endurance was negligible between morning and evening training in the studies cited below.

However, the prime example of the benefits of the evening training was in muscle size growth. The majority of the these studies found greater mass gains with evening training, and most of them were not structured strength programs but rather assessments of a certain kind of muscle-specific contraction.

Küüsmaa et al. (2016) studied the effectiveness a training program performed in the morning between 06:30 – 10:00 h or in the evening between 16:30 – 20:00 h for a 24 week period. While strength and endurance performance improved similarly across the groups, the men training in the evening gained notably more muscle mass: see the graph below.

In line with the increased muscle growth, muscle anabolic signalling after a workout is higher in the afternoon than in the morning  

Laczo et al. also presented the following data at the 7th International Conference on Strength Training in 2010: more leg muscle growth after an afternoon training program than a morning one.

Malhotra et al. (2014) studied how training in the morning vs. the evening affected strength development. Strength gains were significantly greater in the evening for eccentric exercise: 29% vs. 23%. For concentric training, the trend was the same but less pronounced in favor of evening training with 23% vs. 21%.

Tim Scheett performed a study in bodybuilders on the best time to work out. Half of the participants trained before 10 AM in the morning, the other half after 6 PM in the evening. While the results never got published outside of the 2005 NSCA conference and didn’t reach statistical significance because of having only 16 participants in the study, look at the data below: the evening training group had much more favorable body composition changes.

Sedliak et al. (2009) studied trained men working out around either 8 AM in the morning or 6 PM in the evening. While again there were no statistically significant changes in strength development or muscle growth, look at the data of muscle growth. It’s likely the difference in muscle growth did not reach statistical significance because of insufficient statistical power, considering there were only 7 and 9 men in the training groups and the study only lasted 10 weeks.

Not all research shows benefits to training later. Sedliak et al. (2017) found similar anabolic signalling, hormonal effects, muscle growth and strength development in untrained men over the course of a training program performed either in the morning or the afternoon. However, with only 7 and 11 subjects in the 2 groups, this study was statistically underpowered to detect even a medium effect size. They couldn’t even find significant correlations between the different measures of muscle growth, so if there were benefits of training in the afternoon, as the other research suggests, they may well have been masked by the large variation in the data and this study simply wasn’t powered enough to detect it. Plus, the former study by these researchers only detected the effect after week 11, but this study was only 11 weeks in duration.

 core body temperature

For those of you who train at different times of the day, you’ve probably noticed a signifiant difference in how you feel between a early morning session and a mid-afternoon session.

The morning feels slow. Joints creak to life and it’s far more challenging to get everything firing up quickly. This one hits close to home for me… my morning sessions need a lot more time to warm up and get ready to go, while my afternoons feel significantly better.

This is due to the natural rise of your body temperature throughout the day. Simply put, when your core temp is higher, your body is stronger, faster, and more flexible. This is what any warm up is designed to achieve, but as you can see by the graph below, the afternoon to evening time frame is ideal for natural core body temperature and exercise.


application of timing your training

The bottom line is for those of you who have hectic schedules, you train when you can. If that means 6am, so be it. I’d rather see you then than never. For whatever it’s worth, I’ve found that I do my best work after a good morning training session; my brain just seems to function better.

The additional benefit of morning training is that very few things will get in the way of morning training. No surprise appointments or dropping the kids at soccer practice. Just you, an alarm clock, and the barbell.

The science clearly support training in the afternoon-evening for the optimized performance and results, but getting in when you have no distractions is a powerful thing.

Maximal Strength versus Relative Strength

The chase for a higher max weight lift is one of the main motivators for many (especially men) when they enter the gym for the first time. Getting the big plates on the barbell for a Bench Press for the first time is a big deal.

It feels good, like your part of an exclusive club. Look over at the weaklings and chuckle to yourself as they struggle with peasant weight. You are strong(er), they are weak(er). 

This cycle will rinse and repeat until oblivion... working up to new 1-Rep Max's over time, as the increases get incrementally smaller. You'll find new methods from the likes of Louis Simmons, Fred Hatfield, etc. The chase continues.

This approach isn't wrong - Powerlifters, Olympic Weightlifters, and gym rats chasing a heavy deadlift (or whatever lift) are all impressive beasts who have dedicated themselves to the pursuit of maximal strength, or the total amount of force an athlete can produce, regardless of bodyweight or size.

Watching Julius Bjornsson (The Mountain from Game of Thrones) set the world record deadlift at 472kg (1,041 lbs) is for lack a better term, fucking nuts.



Here at LOD Athlete, I don't care about your maximal strength

The metric I prefer when assessing an athlete who walks into the gym is relative strength, or strength in comparison to bodyweight. A 150 lbs. athlete who can deadlift 300 lbs has a stronger relative strength base than a 250 lbs. athlete who can deadlift 400 lbs.

The 150lbs athlete can likely run/jump/change direction disproportionately better than the 250 lbs. athlete. He also is likely more resilient against injury and has a better aerobic base. 

To put it simply, a good level of relative strength lends itself to performance and health, while maximal strength generally just means you can lift heavier things than everyone else. 

This comes with a few caveats:

  • Is the athlete at a healthy weight for their pursuit and/or health?

This applies if the athlete is significantly overweight or underweight. Those who are overweight need to focus on bringing weight levels down first (nutrition adjustment) and those who are underweight need to bring it up (nutrition adjustment). For these folks, relative strength is a secondary concern. 

  • What is the main driver for walking into the gym?

Some folks want to pursue maximal strength. That's great - it's a hard, long road that requires dedication, lots of eating, and a good coach. That being said, I'm not a Powerlifting or Oly Weightlifting coach. I'd recommend you go elsewhere for someone who specializes in it and wish you luck!

  • How do they move?

If an athlete has good relative strength on paper, but their movement patterns suck, we need to reset. Tuck away your pride and work on the mechanics of the lifts. You're selling yourself short with partial range of motion reps and janky back squats. Do it right, get stronger, and profit.

We want to create better all-around athletes here who are stronger, faster, and better looking naked. This is a 360-degree approach to strength and conditioning, not a specialization. For me, relative strength is a superior method of working towards those goals.

Numbers don't matter, performance does. Keep this is mind next time you're tempted to add that extra 10lbs on max day when your back already looks like a dead accordian. 


Notes from the Latest Gym-Based Endurance Cycle "Big L"


We're finishing up the last week of our latest cycle, "Big L." The focus during this 5-week cycle was to develop aerobic endurance - a modality that is often forgotten in the age of high-intensity interval training. 

During this cycle we began with 40 minutes of constant effort training sessions, 3x/week. We progressed the time to 50 minutes, and then finally 60 minutes over the course of four weeks. The sessions were split into two to three training segments, normally around 15-20 minutes each. 

The remaining two days were focused on developing a baseline on simple speed and agility drills (teaching the body proper mechanics) as well as lower body, single limb strength and upper body pulling strength. 

The important note for athlete's during this cycle is to find a steady, maintainable pace for the duration of the training session. We don't want you redlining out of the gates and falling flat on your face 15 minutes in. 65-75% effort (which normally runs parallel to your heart rate) is what we're looking for.

The cue was to be able to speak a full sentence at any given moment during the training session. If the sentence is broken up because you're out of breath, you need to slow down. Able to speak a paragraph without stopping? Pick up the pace. 

Aerobic work (which utilizes the oxidative system almost entirely past the 30-40 minute mark) has several benefits.

  • Increased efficiency & recovery

According to the to National Strength and Conditioning Association, "Prolonged activities have been reported to induce muscle glycogen depletion and to acutely increase the rate of fat metabolism, while chronically leading to an increase in stroke volume, mitochondrial density, and a more efficient oxidative capacity." These traits are a important component to the 360 degree perspective on fitness. Increase your body's ability to do work by developing the systems that charge it, which in turn allows for a decrease in the amount of time needed to recover.

  • Increased volume of work

The construct of the sessions allows us to increase the total volume of work accomplished without overtaxing the musculoskeletal system. We use light loading split between upper body, lower body, and total body work in conjunction with running and step ups. We don't use a ton of squatting movements if you look at the cycle as a whole - super high rep squatting with lightweight simply adds a stress to the joint that isn't necessary to accomplish the goals of the cycle. 

  • Mental Fortitude

Some things in life just take longer than 15-20 minutes. Anecdotally I've found athletes hit a mental wall somewhere around the 30 minute mark. Pushing through that wall develops a sense of accomplishment beyond what you thought you were capable of. Most of us here in the gym aren't training for the olympics or an ultramarathon, but knowing you can consistently work hard over a progressively longer period of time gives a taste of the hard life that we might not otherwise get. 

This was an undoubtedly hard cycle, which is why it's only 5 weeks long (including a deload week). Keep grinding - it'll pay off. 


Want to start training online? Check out our Daily Programming online HERE. 30-day guarantee that you'll dig it, or your money back. 

What the Hell Does Work Capacity Mean & How We Train It


The term Work Capacity in the strength and conditioning world is broad, vague, and generally poorly defined. You'll find plenty of similar terms - the Crossfit world calls it Metabolic Conditioning (METCON), some may call it Circuit Training, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Anaerobic Training, and others may use it in the general context of conditioning. 

The most common definition stems from Mel Siff, author of "Supertraining."

"Work capacity refers to the general ability of the body as a machine to produce work of different intensity and duration using the appropriate energy systems of the body"

If you've read previous articles here, the energy systems are broken into Phosphagen (Powers you for 0-30 seconds), Glycolytic (0-3 Minutes), and Oxidative (0-3+ minutes). Phosphagen and Glycolytic are grouped into Anaerobic energy pathway, while oxidative falls into the Aerobic pathway. 

These time zones are rough - each individual varies slightly due to genetics and training history. To make it more complicated, you are never truly using just one energy system... it's more of a mix of all three until you enter a steady state aerobic zone. Unless we're doing a sport specific program where the coach programs to focus on a particular energy system, our body will determine the appropriate system to fuel us. 

Rob Shaul, owner of Mountain Tactical Institute (and my former employer) has two of my favourite definition. 

"Work Capacity is where it all comes together – aerobic base, sprint cardio, raw strength, strength endurance and mental fitness."

"Combine more horsepower, increased strength endurance, and greater mental fitness and the athlete can do more in less time. Work Capacity is increased"

In other words, building the all-around engine known as our body to perform a challenging task(s), recover quickly, and stand ready to perform again.

Work capacity is the sum game - we don't care how much you can lift if you can't also move quickly or for long distances, and we don't care if you can run a marathon but crumple beneath a light external load. The combination and application of the various fitness attributes is what I would call general fitness. 

How We Train Work Capacity

  • Use of Planes of Motion

We utilize exercises which work through all planes of motion (Saggital, Frontal, & Transverse) during an individual training session. This develops a degree of athleticism employed during high threshold efforts by moving in all directions. Constant use of a single plane of motion can risk overuse injury, and may establish poor movement patterns out in the real world when you have to apply your fitness (sport, profession, chasing your toddler around the house). 

  • Focused Time Domains

While in a Work Capacity or Strength focused cycle, we will focus on one of three different time domain efforts. This includes:

5 Min + 5 Min + 5 Min: Short but high intensity efforts with 2-3 minutes of rest between.

10 Min + 10 Min: Slightly longer in total time volume, but able to still maintain a high intensity of work. 3-5 Minutes of rest between efforts.

20 - 25 Min: The longest duration efforts. I personally find these to be the most mentally challenging and requires strong intrinsic motivation to keep pushing hard through out the training. 

  • Assessment & Movement Driven Focus

Our Work Capacity cycles will have a total of four assessments. A assessment in week one and a re-assessment at the beginning of Week 4, followed by a second assessment at the end of Week 4 and re-assessment at the end of the cycle (Week 7). The exercises assessed are embedded into follow on training sessions. This allows us to see verifiable results. We could use specific progressions based on the exercise, but I've found those to get very boring, very fast. This is a nice middle ground. 

  • Varied Round/Reps/Rest Constructs

Work/Rest interval based training, EMOM density style, ascending and descending ladders, and AMRAP's - we use them all. This keeps the training fresh and challenging. 

  • Focus on Perfect Movement Patterns

This one is unnegotiable. All movements must be perfect to ensure athlete safety. If I see an athlete losing form, I'll have them stop and rest. The gym is the dumbest place you could possibly get hurt. Form is primary, intensity is secondary. 

  • Safe, Simple Movements

We don't use anything overly technical in work capacity training. No gymnastics, no snatch's, no kipping pull ups, no rapid-rebounding box jumps. 


Work Capacity is the sum game, but training it everyday can lead to serious burnout. I've experienced this first hand. During a work capacity cycle, we'll train it no more than 3x/week. This allows us to properly recover - both physically and mentally. Smart training extends our ability to do this over a long lifetime, not burn out like a shooting star through atmosphere. 



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Why Train the Clean?


We train many variations of the barbell clean here at LOD. Powers, Hang Power, Hang Squat Clean, full olympic style clean, etc. We even shake up the training tool when doing it... barbell, kettlebells, sandbags. 


The belief is that these lifts will help develop your bodies ability to generate power - defined as (force x velocity).

Hypothetically, if you train the clean and improve your numbers, you'll be able to jump higher, come off the starting line of a sprint more explosively, or drive an opponent off the line or into the mat. 

The reality is that while you may become stronger with the exercise, it likely has a pretty marginal effect on your ability to create power. 

Genetics plays such a large role in the bodies potential to generate power/explosiveness, your increases in likely due to improved competency in the technical aspects of the lift.

We're all born with a certain set of muscle fibers. Type I muscle fibers work long, hard, and efficiently, but don't contract quickly and therefore produce less force per contraction. Type II muscle fibers (divided into Type IIx and IIa) produce a powerful muscle contraction quickly and generate greater power. Lance Armstrong is mostly Type I, while Usain Bolt is mostly Type II. Each of us has a genetic makeup, when paired with the shape and form of our body, establishes an athletic potential ceiling. 

While training can transfer the disposition of a individuals muscle fibers, it's limited. For the most part, you're born with a certain set of genetics that will dictate your performance with particular tasks. 

If the ability to transfer olympic style lifts to real-life performance, why do we do it?

1. Durability:  The ability to move a barbell through the air and catch it in a full or partial squat increases or ability to manage force - particularly in the catch. Your body learns how to absorb the load efficiently by aligning the joints in proper position and preparing the supporting musculature to absorb it. For athletes, this means you're likely to land from a jump safely, take a hit safely, or change direction safely. For most us, that means catching ourselves from tripping  without tearing up the knee or compromising the lower back. Teaching joint alignment and force management is important to staying injury-free. 

2. Coordination: Your entire body is involved in the triple extension (ankles, knees, hips) involved in the clean. This takes a level of coordination that is not experienced outside of sports. We want to train our body individual body parts to work as a whole, not as isolated limbs. Coordination is a perishable trait that can and should be improved through your life span. 

3. It's Fun: For whatever reason, sticking a heavy clean feels damn good. We want to train all aspects of strength, but lets face it - squats and presses can get boring. Hitting a good clean just feels sexy. 

The Division 1 football player who is the same size and height as me is probably going to have a bigger vertical jump than me, even if I clean more than him - but for most of us, that's not the point. We want to have fun with training and increase our ability to be durable and become stronger, faster, and better looking naked than we were the day before. Cleans are a important aspect to achieving that.