Tactical Strength Classes at Evolution Fitness

The TSC has been a staple of Evolution Fitness and was one of the things that really helped build the Evolution Fitness community when we opened over 4 years ago. We have taken a short break from hosting the events but we are back. Last week we started a 12 week class leading up to the StrongFirst Tactical Strength Challenge to help people prepare for this awesome challenge! The TSC really gave way to our gym motto of TRAIN WITH PURPOSE!

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So what is is the TSC? 

The TSC is an event that puts all of your handwork together. It is an opportunity to really focus and become better than you were and have quantifiable results to show for it. The Competition consists of testing your Max Deadlift, Pull-ups or Flexed Arm Hang, and 5-Kettlebell Snatch Test. It is a great representation of maximal strength, strength endurance, and conditioning.   It isn’t about who lifts the most or wins, but more about every persons ability to Train with Purpose and see improvement. The best part is we make it extremely fun. The person that deadlifts 130lbs gets the gym just as pumped up as a 500lbs Deadlift!

When are the TSC Classes offered?

Wednesday 6am, 6:15pm and Thursday 8:30am and 5:30pm.  Over the next 12 weeks leading up to the event on April 12th we will be teaching the fundamentals and progressively training the deadlift and Kettlebell Snatch during this hour, and we will be including pull-ups in our programming throughout the week in our other kettlebell classes to make sure you are ready. The plan is when the event takes place you will be in prime position to show up and hit the goals you have set out for.

What if you don’t want to compete?

If you don’t want to compete but still want to train the deadlift and kettlebell snatches we encourage to take the classes anyway. It is important to learn new movements and the barbell deadlift is an invaluable exercise to learn.

What are the requirements to participate in TSC classes?

The only requirements for participation is to be injury free, show up consistently every week, and keeping a training journal. We also want you to bring long socks to deadlift. Consistency is the most important thing with this. We have designed this program to advance you through the movements from week to week. Just showing up occasionally is not what this class is about. We just ask that you make one of the times each week.


So whether or not you want to participate or not please come and cheer on everyone on April 11th here at Evolution Fitness, It is a blast The energy is contagious and we will have a fun party at the end of the event for those in and out of our community to come and enjoy. Lifting starts at 11am.

How to Register?

To officially be part of the StrongFirst Tactical Strength Challenge you can register online on the StrongFirst Website very soon. There is a $25 fee to register and you will receive a nice TSC shirt with your registration and your results will be posted on the website to see how you fared. That is the best way to make it official. If you want to just compete and not get the awesome shirt and have your results posted you can still register for free  and compete at no charge. You don’t have to be a member of Evolution Fitness or Tucson Barbell to compete or watch. This event is open to everyone that wants to put their training on showcase and have a great day.

Here is a video of one of our Past Tactical Strength Challenges. They are a blast.

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Is TRX a Strength Training Tool?

This week I made a post on my Facebook Page calling out the TRX as a Strength training tool. I had some people question my thinking online and some came up to me in person and asked me about it since we use TRX at Evolution Fitness. Now if I could re-phrase my status it would have said “TRX, thousands of exercises for exercisers. Pretty much nothing more than a warm up tool and a piece of assistance equipment for strong people.” Assistance work is great and needed, but it is there to assist in strength gains, not serve as the primary piece of equipment.

is the TRX a good training tool?

I have been using the TRX and suspension trainers for years and it does have some great applications in the strength and conditioning world. There are some great warmup, stretches, and pre-hab drills that the TRX really offers.

TRX, Tucson, fitness, personal training, group training

Stretching on the TRX definitely has a great benefit over other pieces of exercise equipment

Other unique properties of suspension/TRX training is teaching the novice and beginner how to tap into some body awareness. Teaching the  Row is probably one of the best uses of the TRX. It has the ability to teach a client how to tap into the posterior chain of the upper back while simultaneously engaging the abdominals and glutes (if taught correctly). The other benefit is the more horizontal a client gets the more difficult it becomes, and the strength gains can be achieved by lowering the body.

Trx strength training

Probably the biggest contribution that TRX /Suspension training offers for initial gains in strength

Another benefit is teaching a novice how to have a vertical pull which can transfer over to achieving your first pull-up. Using a higher TRX setting and the ability of the client to use the lower body to assist. To make it more difficult the  client can advance from 2 legs to one leg assistance. The key is keeping the upper body vertical and not going horizontal.

Pullup TRX, personal training, personal training tyson, fitness, strength

Teaching the pull-up with the TRX

Now if you buy into TRX/Fitness Anywhere ideology it can do 10 million(exaggerated) exercises!!

The TRX website boasts.. “there are no limits, to what it can do!”..

Well this is where I disagree…….. If you want to get strong the TRX can be your limiting factor.

Here is where I will get every trainer calling me a meat head and telling me that strength has different definitions to many people. Sorry give me a second while I puke in my mouth. Jumping while holding on the the TRX for timed interval is a waste of time.  If your definition of strength is doing 20 TRX rows you have your definitions wrong. Sure there are some cool core things you can do to really challenge yourself etc, and the TRX can really help de-conditioned people get stronger.  Doing 20 reps of a body weight exercise  improves  endurance, not necessarily  total strength, and yes both are important, but lets not get them confused. I fully understand that most people do not have to have a 3 x bodyweight deadlift and squat hundreds of pounds to be strong, but if the TRX is the only thing you are doing you may need to consider expanding your horizons.

Here is a typical TRX video and it isn’t awful either, just want to point out a few things. This guy is probably a great trainer, I just want to look at a few things.

1st What was the actual purpose of using the TRX in this video. Using a tool to hold on to for squats and lunges is probably great for a novice to learn some body awareness, but in terms of a long term application of the TRX as a  strength tool it would actually cause more harm than good. If you look at his squat, his knees are actually behind his heels which is not how we stand up and sit down.  The question is, are we really adding benefit to our clients by creating poor patterning.  Sure if your only goal is to get tons of reps out of them by holding on to a TRX as a crutch, fine, but realize you are not building STRENGTH or functional movement. Same with the example of lunge. Again a great tool for a novice, but if we are not getting people off the TRX we are doing them a dis-service. The ability to balance in a staggered stance without assistance is the goal. Holding on to a strap every workout to squat and lunge will actually cause you to seek outside stability during the movement rather than learning how to brace and balance your own intrinsic (core muscles) to stabilize you. We live in a world of “functional training” and rarely do I have a strap to hold onto to help me up from a lunge or squat to function in every day life.

Here is another example of people in the functional training world mis using the TRX with the misconception of Strength and conditioning.


Again, if throwing off motor patterning is your goal, do this with the TRX.

I am not saying that the TRX is a bad piece of equipment, I am pointing out that it is usually misused in the fitness world, and that those that promote it’s use for strength are confused between strength and endurance and flexibility training.

Unfortunately many TRX classes end up looking like this:

Half the people doing it wrong and most people with no body awareness misapplying the exercises. Now I know there are some great TRX studios but when I see people doing a TRX pushup and TRX foot plank who can’t even do a floor pushup or a decent floor plank the TRX is probably the worst thing to put them on.

For an advanced athlete there are some great benefits and some great coaches are doing some pretty great things with them.But again these world class athletes are not only using the TRX. It is one of many tools.

I will say the same thing about just about any tool. The kettlebell, barbell, dumbbell etc.. They all can be misused and over used. I could probably write an entire article on the kettlebell in the same manner. At the end of the day, do what you like, and if it is working for you keep at it. I just like to stir the pot some times and get people in the fitness world to think outside their comfort zone. I don’t do everything perfectly nor do I claim to, I am just an opinionated guy with some years of experience who is always open to learn, hopefully you are too.







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Kettlebell Snatch: Improving Technique is the Answer

The Tactical Strength Challenge is right around the corner again. The StrongFirst Community has adopted this event and it has turned into something really special. We have hosted the TSC for over 3 years now and each time it is an amazing experience to see regular people show up to put their strength training on showcase. It isn’t about beating anyone else, but for most people it is about hitting that new PR.

The TSC consists of 3 events. The Deadlift, Strict Pull-Up, and Kettlebell Snatch. Each of these events takes a toll on the body and by the end you know you have put in some amazing work. I get questions all of the time about how to train for the TSC. Whether it is programming the deadliest without burning yourself out or getting a few extra (or a lot of extra reps) out of the Snatch Portion of the competition. The snatch portion of the competition is the last event. You have already pulled a big Deadlift and done your max attempt of pull-ups, now comes a brutal 5 minutes where you go all out in a showcase of your cardiovascular conditioning. The goal….Get as many reps as possible in those 5 minutes. In the Open Division, men use a 53lb Kettlebell and women use a 35lb kettlebell. In the novice division, women use a 26lb and men use a 44lb. There is also an Elite Division where men use the 70lb and women use the 44lb kettlebell.

What is the Secret to getting those extra reps in the Snatch test? I wrote a blog on a great program to help you achieve a better snatch number awhile ago and it has not failed many of my clients that have used it to prepare for the TSC or the StrongFirst Certifications. Here is a link to that article. But more importantly than using a great program and having awesome conditioning, the Snatch Test number depends highly on clean and crisp technique. If you are inefficient in your snatch technique you will waste a considerable amount of energy and leave numerous snatches in the tank. At my best I hit 141 snatches in 5 minutes at the TSC in 2010 (thank goodness I have added 100lbs on my deadlift since then), and the most important thing I focused on was technique while preparing.

Here are a couple things to think about.

1. Keep the kettlebell close to your body on the way down and on the way up. Launching the bell away from your body creates a bigger arc, which equals a longer distance the bell has to travel, which equals more work to do each rep.

2. Keep your butt tight till the last second. As Brett Jones Master SFG says, have your wrist play chicken with your zipper line. Wait till the last second before you get your hips out of the way. Starting to bend your knees, and/or hinging too soon, will cause the bell to drop too low below the knees on the way down.  This results in more movement, which equals more energy needed to do one snatch.  That is not a good thing.

Ripped Hands

True Mark of Novice or someone that showed up unprepared.

3. Keep your hands loose and have an open hand at the top of the Snatch. A big mistake people make is holding on too tight and it really grinds on the skin. Ripping your hands sucks. Ripping is also an injury. If you rip, you lose training time. There are no trophies for ripped hands.  Posting pictures on Facebook of how nasty your hands look doesn’t make you look cool, it makes you look like a novice.

If you are in Arizona we are holding a 2 hour Kettlebell Snatch clinic on Sunday March 9th from 10am-12pm. Learn numerous drills that will assist you in practicing crisp and explosive reps in your snatch practice. Whether you want to participate in the TSC or not, these cues will help you advance in your practice!! Only $35 for current clients, or $45 for non-clients!! Email us at contacts@evolutiontucson.com for more info. Space is limited!








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Review of Brandon Lilly’s The Cube

I was reviewing all of my Journals from last year to get a good sense of how far I have come in my strength training and it has been one great year. I saw nearly a 100lb increase in my squat (350 to 450lbs), and finally hit a 500+lb deadlift while dropping from 215lbs to 181lb competitor.  I am by no means a world class strength athlete, but I have my eyes set on something close to an Elite Total at the 181 weight class this year. Last year I made the decision to become a competitive powerlifter at 38 years old. I had lifted weights my entire life and was an athlete through high school  and realized I needed to get my competitive juices flowing again. I got into Crossfit about 6 years ago, but I pretty much exercised myself into an injury every other month (my stupidity, and not a direct knock on CF, anyone who follows the daily WODS deserves to be injured). This left me training hard with my kettlebells and barbells with nothing except working out in mind.  Just “working out” sometimes just becomes something to do, and just setting PR’s in the gym is no different than posing in front of mirrors and wiping your sweat off your face with your shirt at the big box gym to make sure the girls can see your abs. No one really cares and there is no “most ripped award” at LA Fitness.

Is the Cube Method a good program? Powerlifting, Tucson barbell club

I came off of Paul Carters LRB program early in 2013(which I will review later), and I thought it was a great program get my body prepped to lift some weights, it got my numbers up to where I felt I was becoming strong enough to possibly compete at a meet. I put on some size and strength with that program and decided to give “The Cube” a whirl in early 2013. There are many different programs written and if you are familiar with the lingo, there are linear programs (5/3/1) and Non-linear programs (the Cube and others). IF you want more info on the difference there is a good article on Elite FTS. Pretty much linear has your weights go up each week with some adjustments in reps over time so that you “Peak” your weights at a given point in time. Example. Wk1-3 4×10, wk4-6 4×8,  wk7-9 4×6 etc…  Each week the weight goes up by a percentage,  then you may take a week off at some point, lower the weights again and start progressing from week to week. This is over simplified, but this is the general aspect of it. Linear programs work great for awhile,  but if this worked ALL the time we would never see the end of strength gains, and we would have numerous 1000lb squats in a short period of time. Beginners see the biggest gains from these types of programs as they have the most room to grow, but even advanced strength athletes can see gains with linear programs in short bursts as they peak for a competition.

The Cube would most likely be classified as non-linear. Each week your percentage and goal for a give lift changes.  Example:

Week 1: Squat HEAVY, Bench Exlposive, Deadlift for Reps.

Week 2: Squat Explosive, Bench for Reps, Deadlift Heavy.

Week 3: Squat for Reps, Bench Heavy, Deadlift Explosive.

You then repeat this in Week 4-6 with different rep schemes and again Weeks 7-9. Week 1 my Heavy Day is 80% of Max @ 2×5, My next Heavy Day, 3 weeks later is 85% at  3×2, and my last heavy day on the cycle is 95%for a repout. There are similar changes in the rep schemes for the explosive and rep days.  The premise of this is that if I kill it with heavy  squats on Monday I am not going to go really heavy on Bench and Deadlifts that week. Though I have to say that it doesn’t mean that the rep and explosive days are really easy days depending on your assistance work.


This was probably my favorite part of the program. If you read the book he pretty much developed this program to get back to the basics for himself, see results, and have fun again. I will say that the Body Building Day really did change my perspective of training all over again. I was doing bicep curls, Tricep with ropes, calf raises, some hamstring curls etc… and guess what, I didn’t fall apart, get weak, or lose site of strength. It really was to work on weak points and I personally used it as a day to work my shoulder press as well.


Does The Cube Method work?

Increased my total by 90lbs in 10 weeks.


So I would say that my numbers were definitely an improvement for 10 weeks.


The results speak for themselves, I got stronger. Period. I have to say for the most part I stayed really fresh each week and looked forward to my Heavy days a lot. When I felt like hitting a few extra reps on the heavy days I went for it, when the explosive days were super light I added a few pounds. The training sessions were challenging, but I stayed motivated and didn’t over train and get defeated the entire strength training program. The variety of the rep schemes each week did keep it interesting. In the book, Lilly puts together a template for assistance work and it is pretty grueling at times and has lots of volume which I really liked. There were a few days where I was just not feeling so hot, so I hit my main lift numbers and took it easy on the assistance work. No results were lost either. Did I mention the Bodybuilding Day? It was great to get back at bodybuilding training and really made things fun again. My clients had a heart attach when I was doing bicep curls, but sometimes things just have to change.


Though I really enjoyed the volume of the assistance work he recommends, some people complain that it is too much, but realize that the assistance work is just the assistance work. Hit your weak points, get some hypertrophy work in and move on.  The only issue that I would say is the “explosive day” percentages seemed to be really really light especially in the first 2 waves, and I found my self adding about 5+% on those days. If you can think of the explosive days as more of a technique day it shouldn’t matter as much, but I chose to increase the load and still kept the days fast and not grindy. I don’t recommend adding so much weight that the “Explosive Day” turns into a Heavy Day, because that would not be the program.

Who Should not Do the Cube:

If you are a complete novice with lifting this is not your program. Meaning if you are in your first year of training you still have lots to be had with basic linear progression and body building training.  Example, if you are guy that squats 250lbs, or if you are a female and have a bench of 85lbs this is not for you… Why? well there are a few reasons, but here is the deal, lets use the example of having a 200lb bench(male). On your first round of explosive days your bench will be probably around 120lbs. At that level of strength, moving 120lbs fast is not going to help you get stronger. If you are a female with 85lb bench you would be pretty much doing the bar explosively. So I hope you get the point. Just get stronger and move all your weight as fast as you can all the time.

Who Should do the Cube:

If you have been on 5/3/1 for past 3 years ( I wish I was joking, but I hear this all the time. It is a great program, but get out of your comfort zone already. Just to rant even more if you trainer has had you on the same program for the last 2 years it is time to move on.). If you are bored with going to the gym and just hitting some weight for reps and “working out” and really looking to train on a program then this is for you.  I like using this strength standard chart as a guide, and if you are north of the intermediate numbers you are probably good to go on The Cube.

What if you have certain lifts that are stronger than others?

One of the solutions I have given to lifters at our club that have some really strong lifts and lifts that need improvement is to do a bit of a hybrid of a linear progression and Cube. How does this work?

Here is an example:

Joe has a bench of  180lbs, Squat 320lb, and Deadlift of 405lb. He could probably see some benefit of doing the Cube method with his Squat and Deadlift, but his bench will probably not get as much out of it as it would on a linear progression program. So starting the 9week cycle with the Cube on the Squat ad Deadlift and then starting a linear progression on the bench over the 9 weeks usually works really well.

We used the Cube and Linear/Cube Hybrid to prepare most of our lifters for the NASA Western Nationals and we didn’t do too shabby.

Tucson Barbell Club, Powerlifting, Olympic lifting, your Crossfit Alternative

1st Place Team NASA Western Nationals

Here is how Brandon Lily explains the Cube in a nutshell without all the percentages and rep schemes. The biggest thing is to train hard, have fun, and not miss reps.


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The Turkish Getup Challenge for January 2014!!

Many people are asking about what the Challenge will be this year. Last year we did the 10,000 Swing Challenge for the entire month of January. As many of you that did it you can testify it is definitely a challenge especially because it take consistency to really make it not as painful as it sounds. Doing 322 swings/day doesn’t sound that bad, but if you miss a few days it turned into 600 swings on some days… Many procrastinated all month long and ended up having a few 1000+ swing days.  We didn’t have any weight requirements since the volume alone is sufficient enough to be the challenge. So why didn’t we do it again this year? Well there were a few reasons. First, many people that did it felt that they didn’t have anything else left to prove and really didn’t feel like doing it again (myself included). Second, for many the volume was not very forgiving on the hamstrings. Though the 10,000 kettlebell swing challenge wasn’t the worst thing you could do for you body, we felt that the volume was a bit excessive and in overall picture it took longer to recover for some people.

For January 2014  we decided to do the 500 Get-up challenge. We feel that this challenge should leave people better off than when they started and not as locked up in the hamstrings. The get up is a great move that really does add lots of benefit to our overall strength and movement. If you were to be diligent everyday of the month you would be doing 16/TGU’s per day total(8 on each side). So yes, it is 500 total NOT 500 on each side.   As for the weight requirement we are not stating one, but I will say that doing them with weight is better than doing them without. If you are a 200 lb guy and you think doing 500- 13lb getups is great, you should man up and challenge yourself a bit more if your form and technique are good. If you are having a strong day do a few really heavy ones, then some moderate and light getups.  The purpose of this isn’t to rush through the getups as fast as you can. Take your time and really focus on form and technique. Here is a quick video I put together on TGU form and technique and with a different variation as well.

For those of you that have knee issues while doing turkish Get-ups you may want to try this variation here from Sr. SFG Andrea Chang..

And for the guys that want to do their getups with the 8kg… this video is here to inspire you courtesy of SFG, Jackie Luciano.

How to incorporate the challenge into your routine?

Since I am training pretty hard for a powerlifting meet I plan on using them as my warmups before every training session. Doing 16 Getups should be one heck of a warmup. I will also use them on my “off days” as active recovery.

The hope for this challenge.

That everyone becomes not only better at Get ups, but hopefully better at moving. I would also assume that many people will find that their presses should improve a bit as well. If you challenge yourself with moderate to heavy weights a few times throughout the week you will see greater over all benefit, just make sure your form is on.  There are a few different variations of the Getup and many people may have to make adjustments. Some people may not be able to do a full getup due to injuries or other issues. If this is the case you can do a half getup. If you choose to do half getups your goal is 1000:-)  Enjoy the challenge and keep us up to date on our Facebook Page!!

For those of you that live in Tucson Arizona and want professional instruction and personal training, please feel free to contact us for a complimentary consultation. Evolution Fitness is the home of Tucson Kettlebell with The most StrongFirst Insturctors underneath one roof in Arizona!

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Wanna get lean? Learn from a bodybuilder…

I remembered what Coach Dan John said in Never Let Go (awesome read). “If you want to know about fat loss or musclebuilding, ask top level bodybuilders.”

Nutrition has always been something I have loved to study. I have a Bachelors Degree in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Arizona and did a good amount of post graduate research work after that at the UofA as well. Over the years I have tried just about every single diet, Low Carb, Paleo, Atkins, High Carb, and the Velocity Shake Diet. Most times I do it out of boredom and many times I like to be my own guinea pig. If someone asks me about it, I can really say from experience whether it sucked or not. If you are wondering about the Velocity Diet…. It sucked and there is no need to ever do it unless you just want to be miserable and have the need to under eat for an entire month. Over past couple years I have focused my training towards competitive powerlifting. The only unfortunate part is that I ate as a Super Heavy Weight. I went from 200lbs to 215lbs and not all of it was good weight. Though my strength did improve incredibly I didnt’ need need to be 215lbs. I know my best weight is in the 190′s. So here I am wanting to lean out and didn’t have the determination to do it. I started slow in March and got off the high fat/low carb thing and immediately dropped to 203lbs which was a great start.  I wanted more and knew that I needed more discipline.  So instead of cracking down on myself, I did what my clients do with me. I hired someone to keep me accountable and guide me. It is amazing how I know what is right, but left to my own devices I will justify the fried egg, avocado bacon burger after a heavy squat session……10 minutes after I said I needed to lean out.  I hired Pro Body Builder Tyler Mayer to guide me on this journey. The best part about working with him is he is also a powerlifter and understands I don’t want to get skinny at the expense of getting weak.  I have cut before and lost 30% of my strength, but I had ripped abs bro!!  What sold me on Tyler was he was big on not starving me and crashing my metabolism. Slow and steady wins the race and I trusted Tyler on this. He works with the Peltz brother’s out of Revolution Training and they are freaky strong  and lean! In the past 3 weeks I have dropped 8lbs and hit 3 very big gym personal records so we are on the right track. I asked him some questions that I thought most people needed to hear the answers to.

Eating carbs and losing weight is possible

Eating Carbs is not the Enemy…


1. Tell us a little bit about your background(Accomplishments as Powerlifter, BodyBuilder, experience in Coaching athletes with Nutrition, the name of your company and what you do

I am an IFPA professional natural bodybuilder and have been competing since 2007. Since starting my career in bodybuilding I have competed in about 8 competitions and have placed at least in the top 5 in all of them, won two overalls and many first place awards in my class. My last show was in 2011 where I earned my natural pro card and in a couple days, I’ll be competing in my pro debut at the IFPA Pro International September 14th. I’ll be looking to compete in the Yorton Cup this year which is a huge goal of mine.

I’m also a natural powerlifter. I recently started competing in meets over a year ago and have fallen in love ever since. It keeps me motivated in the offseason from my bodybuilding shows and helps me get under some heavy weight.

Professionally I am a nutrition consultant for Tyler’s Nutrition Training LLC (AKA Team TNT) & The Diet Doc Phoenix. The TNT side is more for the competitors and the Diet Doc side is more for general weight loss etc. I have worked with Dr. Joe Klemczewski for many years now and he has taught me so much about the industry and with dieting. He has PhD’s in nutritional science has taught me so many things with diet and just life in general. I have learned a lot through my experience with clients as well. I think that’s a huge factor when helping people diet because you can’t go by the book all the time, you have to know life situations and how to help others when the time gets tough.

I have coached several athletes to winning their natural pro cards and have helped many others look their best on stage. I have helped many improve when it comes to changing their physiques. I have several general weight loss clients as well and those that want to make a healthy lifestyle change and I provide just that style of diet to them. Something that is more sustainable and livable while enjoying foods that you like while eating carbs!

dieting, nutrition, and fat loss information

2.What are some of the biggest mistakes you see people make when they are trying to lose weight?

Probably the biggest mistake people make when starting a “diet” is that they cut their calories and carbs drastically. I see this all the time where people will slash their carbs to the point to where they end up binging and regaining their weight back rather quickly. That’s why 98% of all people who start a diet end up gaining their weight back and then some within two years.

Society has taught us that carbs are so bad for you and that they are the devil. Which in reality they aren’t. We need carbs to live, to function in a healthy manner, and to retain homoeostasis. We can eat and handle more carbs in our diet than we think. As long as you are counting how many you are eating a day you can be a lot better off eating more in the end and that’s what I teach my clients all the time.

One other bad thing is that people automatically assume that you can’t eat certain foods and that you have to restrict yourself. And if you have a little bit of ice cream, within moderation, that you are going to gain all this weight/fat. Well that’s simply not true either. You can have foods at restaurants, you can have foods that you enjoy and still make progress. You just have to know how much of that you are eating.

3. Can you give the readers the low down on carbs?  I was telling a friend the other day that I was eating 250+ grams of carbs per day and have dropped 3% body fat in the past 3 weeks and he didn’t believe I was eating carbs and doing that?

Carbs are something that are given a really bad name for itself. A lot of people think that if we eat carbs we will gain fat and it doesn’t’ matter how many carbs we eat. Well that’s’ true but only if you are overeating them. Most of us think that if we go out to eat and have let’s say a bunch of pizza, wings, beer, and some chips 3-4 nights a week and you are gaining some serious weight with that, most would think that it was the carbs that caused the weight gain. Well that’s part of it, but we don’t think of how much fat we are consuming as well. A gram of fat is over double the calories what a gram of carbohydrate is. Our fat consumption has gone up more in the last decade than carbohydrates have. We essentially have to watch our intake when it comes to both of those macronutrients but it’s all in moderation and knowing exactly how much you are eating by counting your macronutrients. So the key is to eat as many calories and carbs as you possibly can while getting leaner.


I give my clients the amount of carbs that they need based on their activities levels and dieting history. Carbs are our primary energy source so we have to feed our body to make sure that we are functioning properly. So if you structure your carbs more around the important times of the day, you can use those carbs a little better and not store them as fat. But you have to eat everything in moderation. If you go ahead and eat a whole pizza then of course you are going to put on some fat either way you look at it.

Studies have shown that you can lose weight 50% faster if you just structure your day correctly and you can eat the same amount of calories you normally eat. So if you’re not snacking all the time between your meals you can burn though some more fat because you are allowing your body to digest the food previously eaten and dig into your glycogen storages.

4, I know in the past I have become pretty shredded and very lean but lost a significant amount of Strength, And since I have been working with you I have become lean and still remaining extremely strong. Without giving away all of your secrets what is it that you do differently than what we see on other diet plans.

The biggest thing is creating that structure for my clients to make sure they are eating enough around their workouts so that they can use that as energy and remain strong in the gym. Plus if you eat the right amount of carbs and not slash them you’ll be able to retain more muscle and more strength than if you cut your carbs dramatically. The combination of protein and carbs are more anabolic than protein alone. I have been dieting now for about 35+ weeks and I’m hitting PR’s in just about everything other than my squats. I’m currently about 3-4% body fat and down 32 pounds since I started cutting. I’m really looking forward to slowly putting some weight back on to see what I really can hit in the gym in terms of PR’s.

5. How important is meal timing and fat loss?

I think it’s very important. You definitely need to prioritize your meals around your workouts so that you are using those meals effectively for your workouts. And it’s more about meal spacing as well. If you are snacking all the time then you’ll be more prone to gaining some fat and overeating. Plus if you are spacing your meals out well enough and eating around the clock, you’ll be able to stay much leaner while eating more food by the end of the day.

6. Intermittent fasting  and Paleo have become the rage in the fitness world. do you see any benefits of it?

There are some pros and cons to both. Yes Paleo has you eating some good foods but you are restricted and on a low carb diet. Which in turn, can give you a higher chance of failing on that type of approach.

IF is a good approach for those that are on a time crunch most of the time. If one were to do the IF approach I would recommend doing the fasting for 16 hours and then giving yourself an 8 hour window to eat. So that can be done in 2-3 meals. But overall if you have time to eat around the clock, in my opinion that’s the best approach.

The bad part about IF is that you are eating much larger meals. Sometimes people that don’t eat during the day become much more hungry, have lower blood sugar, they get hypoglycemic and start craving bad food. So when they get their chance to eat, they eat everything in site and that’s not very healthy. Plus as we all know that if you overeat you will most likely be putting on some fat rather than losing it.

7. I tell many of my clients to Journal everything they are eating, how do you feel about recording food intake in a journal or APP.

Having a log is very important so you can document everything that you are eating so that you know exactly how much food you really are eating. Most of us would be surprised how much food we really eat, or don’t eat. It’s amazing how many new clients I get that have never tracked before and didn’t realize how much they are actually eating. And by tracking you become much more aware of what you are putting into your mouth and how much. The apps that I use are MyFitness Pal and My Net Diary. Both of those are very good apps. You can track as you go with it, or you can enter all of your meals in for the day and plan your eating out that way. I highly recommend it!

8. So what is the deal with Pop Tarts?:-) I have had a blast treating myself with them and Fruity Pebbles when I want and I have still lost weight, Is there something magical about them? I know in your literature you do talk at length about healthy food choices, but it seems as if it isn’t a big deal when people eat “forbidden” foods even if they want to lose weight..

Haha! Oh the pop tarts! I actually don’t eat them and not really a fan but I know a lot of my clients love them. I don’t entirely restrict them either. There’s nothing magical about them. They are pretty good and there are all sorts of flavors so it gives it a little more variety. In the bodybuilding community pop tarts are huge because it shows something that is processed that you can eat and still make progress. But we eat them in moderation. I know that many see posts of people eating them but that’s not all that they are eating. About 90% of their overall calories are coming from good, “clean” food sources, and the other 10% are coming from discretionary calories like your pop tarts, lucky charms, ice cream etc. The more sugary type foods. And that’s ok to have as long as you fit it into your daily caloric intake and progress won’t be lost. Right now I’m dieting for several shows this year, everyday I have to have some ice cream. I haven’t lost progress but I have a very small amount a day and I don’t go overboard. I have control over my eating so that I don’t overeat. You really have to know how to shut off the temptations.

9. I know you coach me over the phone and via email so I am sure you have clients all over the country. If  someone wants to contact you about your coaching what is the best way to get a hold of you?

Body building, nutrition, weight lossYes I actually have clients all over the world! I can be contacted through my email which is tyler@teamtnt.info and you can reach me on my website at www.teamtnt.info or www.thedietdocphoenix.com.

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Corrective Exercise Gone Too Far

I will be first to say that I am very pleased with the direction the fitness industry seems to be going. Im not talking about the craziness we see in the big box gyms with 18 year old juiced out kids acting as personal trainers. Im talking about the side of training that seems to be conscious of proper movement and have introduced many different methodologies of screening, assessing, and designing corrective exercise programs. Overall this is much better than what was going on 10 years ago.  Here is a scenario that I would get in my early years of training:

Client: “My lower back is really tight, I worked on my computer all weekend.”

Me: Oh man that sucks, let me stretch your lower back for you.

Client: Yeah that feels better…… Oh wait my lower back is pinching now..

Me: Oh, Ok Lets do some arms today then.

Client: OK, sounds good. Im so glad I hired you Danny, I would have just stayed home. Thanks for stretching me and killing my arms today…

I really wish I was joking, and that this scenario didn’t happen too many times to remember. If you are an old client, please forgive me, I truly am sorry.

Fast forward to what we are now seeing today in studios and trainers that focus on corrective exercise…….

Client: “My lower back is really tight, I worked on my computer all weekend.”

Corrective Exercise Trainer: hmmmm lets go and do a thorough screening procedure I learned over a weekend……… OK here is my diagnosis; your movement tells me that your glute medius isn’t firing on your left side which has caused a compensation and now your shoulder is rotating forward causing sheering forces along your spine. Your vertebrae are now rotating and causing severe pressure on your SI joint which is causing your pain. Furthermore your left ankle is not dorsiflexing at the correct angle and your right big toe is now shifted 3 degrees too far. I also notice that your left ear is bigger than your right ear which tells me you may have a neuromuscular imbalance. I think we should back off and focus on a corrective exercise program for the next few months. We will be primarily stretching you and doing stability drills till you are bored out of your mind, we will then have you practice these drills at home, and when you come in we will do some cool drills in half kneeling with bands, do some cool eye sight drills I read about, and if you are lucky I will let you press a light kettlebell next week. We can then get you on the path to earn the right to swing a kettlebell again. First you need to progress to hinging for about a week then can you start swinging……. possibly….  Sound good?”

I know this may be exaggerated, but in all honesty I have heard of this stuff happening and read the  blogs along these lines lecturing everyone on screening and movement. When I first did my 4 day CK-FMS certification 3 years ago I nearly fell into this trap. Nothing against the FMS, it is a great system, but you can leave there feeling like you have to refer every single one of your clients to a physical therapist, or feel like you have to spend 3 months fixing all of your clients with soft rolling and  half kneeling drills before someone can actually train. You come back on fire with your screening kit and a ton of corrective exercises that you are guaranteed to misapply for a long time. First, we are NOT Physical therapists, we are trainers. This doesn’t just go for the FMS, you can fill in the blank with any other protocol.

Earning the Right to….

These words are re-iterated tons of time in the corrective exercise world. Pretty much meaning; don’t do Y if you haven’t done X first. For the most part this holds true for lots of things. Don’t do Olympic Lifts if you have never squatted or pressed a bar before. Don’t snatch a kettlebell if you have a crappy swing, but sometimes things go too far.  I am all for making sure people are safe in training, and if you run a group training you don’t want to allow a total train wreck into your classes. I don’t care if you do Z-Health, FMS, or whatever form you may choose. If you are spending months rolling and doing pseudo physical therapy you are wasting your client’s money and probably should refer the client out. Don’t get me wrong I spend a good few sessions going over mobility, stretching, rolling, and some fundamental movement patterns especially with someone that comes to me with a laundry list of issues, but they should be training with load within a short period of time. I am sure I will get emails from the trainer that is going to tell me, well what if they had a stroke, and what about the client that suffers from___________. In generalities most people with some pretty crazy situations can be swinging a kettlebell within a few sessions. Many times strength training can fix numerous issues. I see way too many people stretching issues rather than working on strengthening. One of the best things I can do for someone is teach them how to squat and deadlift. We have numerous clients that have scored poorly on the FMS that thrive and get better in our classes. Sure we modify things for them and they focus on basic movements for a long time, but they are training, not doing pseudo physical therapy.


Touching the Toes and Swings

I have heard numerous times from trainers that you shouldn’t do swings with  clients until they can touch their toes, and that they need to earn the right to swing. Hands down, for the most part this is B.S. I have found that sometimes teaching the swing and the hinge is the best way to get clients to touch their toes. They understand how to shift weight into their hips and dynamically load their hamstrings while keeping the back strong. This goes for tons of different exercises.

Neck Packing and the Swing and Deadlift

This is another thing that has gone way too far. There are people that freak out if someone’s neck is 3 degrees up during a swing or deadlift. I hear them shouting from the roof tops, and condemning every trainer that would possibly allow an extended neck on these movements. Now let me explain, I don’t want clients staring up into the sky during a swing or deadlift, but the fact that I see trainers freaking out over this and over correcting  is ridiculous as well. Our necks do extend and  flex and it is silly to argue this point with minor variations. Sure, excessive flexion/extension under heavy load is not advisable, but to try and correct a 5 degree neck angle on swing is a waste of time. I don’t think having Franco Columbo look at the ground while deadlifting would have made him any stronger. Just saying…

If strength and movement lived in textbook.
FRANCO look down and pack your neck!!! You don’t know what you are doing!!!











This point is even more true under lighter loads and body weight exercises. If someone  slightly rounds their back on a body weight squat the world won’t end and a disc won’t immediately herniate.

There is no load and I am not worried about it. There are too many other things to worry about.

The Turkish Getup Debacle

Lay on your back. Pick up weight and stand up. The dogma around this exercise has completely ruined it for me. I actually didn’t do a getup for 6 months in complete protest, because I saw people flipping out on an instructor’s forum about how someone didn’t have the correct angle when doing a heavy get-up and 50 different comments with the need to coach every single movement. It turned into a moment from Dancing with the Stars where  the person was being judged for every move as if it was a talent contest. I fully understand the get-up can be a complex move that needs to be taken with care so that an injury won’t occur, but this isn’t ballet or synchronized dance! I want to punch a kitten when I hear this stuff (just kidding it isn’t the kitten’s fault). Sure I teach proper form and want to make sure that a few of the fundamentals are followed, but the snootiness with this exercise has gone overboard and it is counter productive.

Clifton Harski Getup:

Not everyone can have the style of Clifton Harski! He gets extra points for the amazing outfit!

Rolling and Crawling: 

First, I want to say that introducing rolling patterns and crawling to my client’s have been life changing for many of them. I had a young girl that was having some major movement issues practice crawling, and whatever switch was turned off turned back on in a short period of time.  She was able to strength train a short time after. How often does she crawl now? Occasionally as a small part of a workout or warmup in our classes, but again this is another time where the pendulum has swung too far. This whole thing of spending an entire workout crawling and rolling on the ground loses it’s intended benefit. I get the fact that our primal ancestors may have crawled on all fours millions of years ago, and that babies should crawl before walking, but we eventually stood up in both situations. Take home point, do some crawling, warm up, and start lifting heavy things, because our primal ancestors lifted lots of heavy things too, they didn’t just crawl around sniffing each other.

I understand that the pendulum can swing too far in either direction. The fad of high intensity training with tons of slop to further work capacity is one extreme, and stopping a movement because you need to take a goniometer out to measure joint angles is the other.


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A Very Big Thank You!

I have been reminiscing a lot over the past couple of days.  Tomorrow marks the the 3 year anniversary when  I took the leap and quit an under appreciated job managing a gym to start my own business. I had a 4 month old baby at the time and enough money to live on for about 4months. I had Zero clients when I left that job since I was manager and barely trained anyone. I was filled with tons of fear and equal amounts of excitement.

A huge thanks to my mom and step dad that believed in me enough to help me start my that 1000sqft gym. Without their support Evolution Fitness would not be what it is today. I also have an amazing wife that never once complained about the long hours and believed in me when I wasn’t sure of what the next move should be. My wife told me to stop being a sissy and go for it. She never once worried about money she just believed.  I also have much love for all those that believed in me when I struggled to believe in myself. I remember talking on the phone with Franz Snideman for over an hour 2 days in a row before I quit my job. I had never met him, I just knew he was gym owner doing good things and I reached out to him to get advice. He kept telling me to take the leap and reassured me all would be good, and for some reason I believed him.  I also remember Andrew Read whom I barely knew told me to stop being afraid and just do it. He actually predicted that I would be busier than I could manage once I took the leap. To all of my friends and family that told their friends and family to come and train at Evolution Fitness, Thank You! To Rachel and the ladies that trained with me at the park filled with ants, mosquitoes, and bats when I didn’t even have a gym I appreciate you all more than you know. And to each and every one of you that have been and currently are members you are all amazing.

That little 1000sqft gym floor with 6 classes per week and  no clients is now a 6000sqft gym with 43 classes per week and tons of energy. We have been proud to host numerous workshops with Dan John, Pavel Tsatsouline, and  StrongFirst. Evolution Fitness is greater than me, it is an amazing group of people that have come together and made it a home away from home.

I am truly blessed and grateful for the past 3 years and look forward to brining the most innovative programs, classes, and certifications to Tucson for years to come. I could write a thank you list that would be 10 pages long and I know I would still forget to add people that have been a part of this amazing journey, but you know who you are. Thank you and God bless.



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So What is Strong? A Quick Look at Strength Standards

People ask me all the time about what does strong mean? I have heard numerous philosophical discussions that really bore me.  Yes, strength is relative and yes not everyone has to deadlift X amount of weight to be strong, but in the same breath when you want to talk about standards to gauge strength there should be a basic guideline to follow. And please don’t email me telling me that to finish a marathon that takes some serious strength, or talk to me about endurance sports. And yes I know gymnasts are freaks when it comes to being strong and they don’t deadlift. This discussion is for those that like to lift weights. When discussing some entry level standards to being considered not weak there are a few guidelines I use to gauge overall strength. And yes, when I think about strength I use the barbell as a standard. Sure there are numerous other methods, kettlebells, bodyweight, and other tools I am sure.  If you want to use kettlebells as a guideline use the strict press. If you are a man press at least half body weight with one arm. One rep should be the minimum, but honestly hitting half bodyweight for reps cold shouldn’t be a problem. If you are a a female, be able to hit 1/3 bodyweight for a minimum of one rep with a kettlebell and if you want to be a honey badger rep it out cold. Honestly, to all my kettlebell friends, if you want to get strong start using barbells as well. There is kettlebell strong, then there is strong. Sorry to break it to you, but deadlifting double beasts isn’t all that impressive. Now lets get to barbells. The initial basic entry level standards I have always used to gauge the beginnings of strength are the following for  men:

2 x body weight Squat : 2.5 X bodyweight Deadlift, and 1.5x body weight Bench, and 1 x body weight strict military press, and these are entry level standards.  This in my opinion is the minimum to say “well Im not weak”, but it doesn’t give you the right brag about being strong either. You want to start seeing real strength start exceeding 2.5bw squat, 3x bw Dead, 2x bw bench. When I look at this chart the real strong guys are in the Elite Division and most World class lifters exceed these numbers. For a more detailed strength standard chart I like the one below.

What is a good squat, deadlift, and Bench

A decent start on looking at strength standards


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Lightening Strikes Twice… I mean StrongFirst….. In Tucson

Well if you haven’t heard already.. Not only will Pavel Tsatsouline be teaching the  StrongFirst Bodyweight Certification at Evolution Fitness on May 11-12, but he will  be returning with Dr. Michael Hartle to Tucson  July 12-14th for the first StrongFirst Barbell Certification in the US!  We are honored to be hosting these 2 certification with some of the best instructors in the world at our gym.

To those of you that ask what StrongFirst is about please visit the StrongFirst website!

StrongFirst Tucson Arizona. Kettlebells, Powerlifting,

StrongFirst Bodyweight Certificaiton May 11-12, Barbell Certification July 12-14




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