The Best Ways To Build Athleticism In The Gym

“What a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” – Socrates

The body and mind are not separate. For this reason I firmly believe that virtue can be found in the pursuit of physical prowess, just as it is found in the pursuit of knowledge and greater understanding. Unfortunately many of us will go our whole lives without ever realizing our body’s true potential. Worse, those of us who do have a desire to better our bodies are typically following routines that will either leave us with lackluster results or bodies that lack functionality and eventually lead to injury.

Your Main Focus in Fitness Should Be Athletics, Not Aesthetics

Speaking from personal experience, when I first began working out, the bulk of my routine was “isolation work”. I found comfort in the endless “bro splits” pumping out bicep curls and cable chest flyes till I was blue in the face.

Vanity was my primary concern at the time, and I trusted that at some point, I’d have a body that resembled the countless fitness models I’d seen on social media. However as the months went on the reality began to set in that I had been building a body that lacked proportion, and more importantly completely lacked function.

My body was far from athletic, and my over-emphasis on the muscle groups in my upper body led me to having weak and underutilized core and leg muscles. I knew I needed to make a change and I knew I needed to do so immediately.

What started as concern soon became an obsession, after spending countless hours of research and implementation I eventually came to the realization that what we find aesthetically pleasing is directly related to what is functional from an evolutionary perspective.

Essentially what we find attractive is what would have made us fit enough to survive in the harsh environments in which we evolved. This alone is the base for our attractiveness.

For men powerful shoulders and arms as well as strong back muscles, would have allowed us to carry large game more effectively and hurl objects at those who posed a threat to us. Strong leg and abdominal muscles would have allowed us to run, jump and maneuver around our environment more effectively and escape from predators.

As a rule of thumb we must remember that aesthetics will always follow function.

Isolation Exercises vs. Patterns of Movement

If we focus our training on emphasizing patterns of movement over isolation exercises we will not only be building a body that is “successful” from an evolutionary perspective, but also one that is inherently aesthetically pleasing. On a deeper level there is a primal comfort in knowing that your body is built for survival and capable of keeping you alive. Tailoring your training towards making your body more powerful, agile, flexible and durable will better equip you to protect your life and the lives of others if need be.

With the understanding that we should be prioritizing athletic function in our training we must first understand what the main seven movement patterns are before going forward. These movements are as follows: squat, hinge, twist, lunge, push, pull and carry.

The beauty in these movements is that they are accessible to anyone regardless of his or her skill level, and can be modified for more or less intensity.

For example, someone who is new to resistance training may start with a box assisted bodyweight squat. Once they build enough flexibility, coordination and strength they may then choose to move on to a barbell squat with a light load. From there they may experiment with heavier loaded squats or single leg variations like the pistol squat.

Once you begin to switch to a movement focused workout routine, resist the urge to compare your current fitness level to others, progress will inevitably come with consistency and commitment.

How to Build Athleticism in the Gym

Keeping all of this in mind, let’s crack into the workouts themselves. I’ve structured these routines to be both minimally time-consuming and yet fully comprehensive. The time you spend in the gym should be efficient in the sense that you are always building off of your current level of strength and skill. Most people don’t see long term returns on their workouts because they are either not pushing themselves enough, or not executing their exercises with proper form.

I encourage you to both practice proper form, and work through the full range of motion on each exercise. This will lead you to having flexibility and strength in each portion of the exercise, and help prevent muscular imbalances. If you were to follow these workouts, and continue to strive for progressive on each exercise as you move forward you will inevitably see incredible changes in your athletic performance, and physique.

There are 2 full body routines, I recommend doing them 2-3 times per week, with each workout followed by a day of rest and recovery. I also recommend doing some form of light activity on these rest days such as yoga, foam rolling or light stretching to keep your body flexible, relieve muscular tension and help speed up the recovery process. In contrast to hypertrophy style workouts, the sets and rep ranges will be geared towards power.

Thus I recommend using a weight in which you are able to work within the five to eight rep range. You can also play with the amount of time you rest on each exercise to meet your athletic goals. Typically I will opt for longer rest periods in the 2-4 minute range on highly taxing movements such as front squats, with shorter rest periods on exercises such as battle ropes. Lastly I recommend aiming to be relatively explosive on each of these movements, this will ensure that you develop a high amount of power generation and will lead to better carry over into activities that require fast twitch muscle fibre activation such as jumping and sprinting.

Workout A

As always feel free to make any necessary modifications to suit your current fitness level.

Warm up – 10 minutes

Spend 5 minutes warming up on the rowing machine and then 5 minutes on High Knees, Butt Kicks, Glute Bridges and Passive Hanging on the bar.

Exercise 1 – Kettlebell Swings 3X8

This exercise is a hinge movement and should be performed as such. Most people do kettlebell swings incorrectly either by squatting the weight or letting their arms do the bulk of the work. This exercise is primarily a glute movement, and should be treated as such. Make sure to keep your chest up, hinge at the hips and avoid hyperextending as you move the kettlebell forward explosively.

Exercise 2 – Barbell Front Squat 5X3

I recommend using 70-80% of your 1 rep max for this exercise, focus on being relatively explosive throughout the movement, keeping your core tight, moving your knees over your feet as you squat, and preferably squatting below ninety degrees if you have the necessary mobility in your hips and ankles.

Exercise 3 – Weighted Pull Ups RPM – Heavy Set 5 Reps – Medium Set 6-8 Reps – Lighter Set 9-11 Reps.

Once you are able to start adding weight to calisthenic movements your strength will skyrocket. However if you are not there yet don’t be discouraged, instead opt for bodyweight or band assisted pull ups. Eventually I suggest adding weight once you are able to do 10 strict bodyweight pull-ups. Focus on keeping your abs engaged, quads and glutes tight, pulling your chest to the bar and working through the full range of motion.

Exercise 4 – Battle Ropes – 3X30 seconds

This exercise is phenomenal for conditioning and building shoulder endurance, all while supporting the strength and stability of your core muscles. Assume a quarter squat position, keep your elbows tight to your body and move your forearms explosively to send waves through the battle ropes. You can experiment with larger and smaller swings throughout each round.

Exercise 5 – Cable Wood Chops 2×12 with moderate weight

It is rare to see people doing enough work in the transverse plane, but having the ability to twist is essential for athletic performance. Secure a handle to a cable weight stack, with both hands on the handle move the weight from bottom to top on a diagonal as you pivot off of your back foot. Be sure to get a good rotation in your hips and engage your abdominal muscles throughout the movement.

Exercise 6 – Cable Face Pulls 3×10 with moderate weight

This exercise will be wonderful for fixing your postural muscles, correcting rounded shoulders, and supporting your general pulling strength. Assume an overhand grip on a rope, feet shoulder width apart and abs engaged. Keep your elbows higher than your wrists and pinch your shoulder blades together as you pull.

Finish with ten minutes of foam rolling and static stretching.

Workout B

Warm up – 10 minutes

5 minutes on the rowing machine and 5 minutes on Glute Bridges, Scapula Push Ups, Inch worms, & a band assisted rotator cuff warm up.

Exercise 1 – Plyometric Pushups 2×10

This exercise is great for building explosive strength in your chest and shoulders. Make sure to keep your core tight and your spine in a neutral position as pushup explosively during the concentric portion of this movement.

Exercise 2 – RPM Standing Overhead Press

After doing a light warmup set for 6-8 reps start your working sets. Heavy Set 3-5 Reps – Medium Set 6-8 Reps Lighter Set 9-11 Reps.

Make sure to keep your glutes and core engaged as you move the barbell in a straight line over your head. Be sure to clear your head of the bar as you press.

Exercise 3 – Hex Bar Deadlifts 2×6

I generally prefer this variation to the standard deadlift and recommend this exercise for anyone who has lower back issues, getting strong at this exercise will greatly improve your sprint, and vertical jump. Use a relatively heavy weight on this exercise and keep your chest up, with your knees over your feet and eyes looking forward as you move through movement explosively.

Exercise 4 – Weighted Parallel Bar Dips 3X5

I recommend using a relatively heavy load for this exercise as well. Keep your chest up, core tight and retract your scapula as you move through the movement. Lower your body till your arm is at a ninety degree angle and then press back up.

Exercise 5 – Jump Lunge 2×8

Jump lunges will help build your single leg strength as well as the power in your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. Start with your legs wide, keep your chest up, core tight and knee directly over your foot as you jump your front leg into a ninety degree angle while staying on the toes of your back foot.

Exercise 6 – Single arm kettlebell walk 2X Each Side

This exercise will challenge your core and deep stabilizers, as well as your grip strength, and is ideal as a workout finisher. Find an area where you are able to walk back and forth for roughly 30 feet and then switch hands.

Finish with ten minutes of foam rolling and static stretching.

Hopefully this article has shed some light on the benefits of focusing on functional strength and movement in your workout routine. My hope is that you will feel empowered to start incorporating these workouts into your life and I’m confident that if you are consistent in your training your general fitness and athleticism will change forever.

All the best!

On Body Dysmorphia

On Body Dysmorphia

I’ve been wanting to make this video for a pretty long time

and it’s for all my guys and girls out there in the bodybuilding community 

who work out four-five days a week. They scroll their Instagram and they’re constantly looking at the person with the best physique or the shredded abs or whatever it may be. I know from experience that the bodybuilding path while it can be wonderful, can also be very misleading..

The Best Supplements For Natural Testosterone Enhancement

The Best Supplements For Natural Testosterone Enhancement

1. Thorne Research: Basic Nutrients Multivitamin

The best testosterone booster there is is a high-quality multivitamin. The human body functions optimally when it has all of the raw materials it needs for various metabolic processes, including hormonal function.

A quality multivitamin should be your first stop in your supplementation journey.

What makes a multivitamin high quality?

It should have ingredients that are highly bio-available and at clinically effective dosages.

Before you even think about buying a multivitamin, first check your diet. You should be consuming a diet rich in micronutrients from whole food sources, making sure you’re getting adequate amounts of nutrition from quality fats, carbs, and proteins. Only then should you consider using a high quality multivitamin to fill in the gaps.

2. KSM-66 Ashwagandha

Cortisol our primary stress hormone acts antithetically with testosterone, meaning that as cortisol increases testosterone decreases. Thus controlling your stress levels should obviously be a priority, when looking to optimize testosterone production.

Ashwagandha is a potent adaptogen. Adaptogens are compounds that have proven adaptogenic effects (ie. reduction of stress, balancing hormones, and helping the body return to a state of balance.

However, like with any supplement bioavailability is paramount. For that reason I highly recommend supplementing with KSM-66 Ashwagandha. It is both organically sourced and highly concentrated, guaranteeing that it will be highly potent.

3. A High Quality Collagen Supplement

Not only is collagen beneficial for promoting sleep quality and down regulating stress hormones. (both crucial for healthy T) It is also vitally important for healthy skin, hair and joints.

Historically speaking, human beings ate every part of the animal they hunted, supplying them with essential amino acids and you guessed it, collagen.

Unfortunately, organ meats are less commonly ingested today, thus we are losing out on valuable nutrition from our diets.

For that reason I highly recommend supplementing with organic collagen.

There you have it guys, three of my favorite testosterone boosting supplements!

P.S If you want access to my personal stack check this link out


Finding Freedom Through Fasting

Finding Freedom Through Fasting

For my entire life I accepted the notion that there was a standard way for us to eat. I’d heard it a thousand times. Upon waking consume a meal, somewhere around midday have a meal and lastly at the end of your day, eat again. Sound familiar? Ironically, this style of eating always felt more like a routine than a natural urge. You see, somewhere around High school I noticed a interesting pattern. I would (begrudgingly) wake up at half passed six, get dressed, and have what I considered a relatively healthy breakfast. Which usually consisted of a bowl of oatmeal, and some fresh fruit. The only issue was, I was never truly hungry in the morning.  Worse, somewhere around the end of 1’st period I was absolutely exhausted and hungry. Instead of feeling energized alert and satiated, I felt sluggish at best. I went on this way for years, until a turning point around my freshman year of college. I, like most young college guys became increasingly interested in the pursuit of a strong physique, and as anyone will tell you diet is a crucial part of achieving one. After scrolling through the internet, I came across an article titled “10 evidence based benefits of Intermittent Fasting”. Curious and slightly skeptical I dove in.

What I learned was nothing short of ground breaking.. While the body is in a fasted state it is actually in a state of homeostasis. When we are asleep we are in this fasted state, and then our body shoots us with just enough Cortisol (primary stress hormone) to wake us up. This morning cortisol peak is fittingly titled the Cortisol Wakening Response or CWR, and is responsible for jump starting us to meet the demands of our day. When we eat at this time, our insulin shoots up due to the fact that cortisol and insulin are closely related to one another. Subsequently this rapid increase in insulin leads to a giant decrease in blood sugar, ironically leaving us feeling more hungry and often tired.

Armed with the new knowledge I acquired I began to implement a basic intermittent fasting routine of a 16 hour fast, followed by an 8 hour eating window. This worked relatively easily for me, because if I finished eating dinner at 7:00pm , I could eat my first meal at 11am the next day. As an added benefit I was able to cut an hour off of my morning routine leaving myself just a bit of room for some extra shut eye.

Since Starting my journey roughly four years ago with Intermittent fasting, I have never turned back. I feel on top of my game physically and mentally, and although no-one things works for everyone, I would encourage you all to experiment with this ever so powerful tool.

For an awesome course on intermittent fasting check out this link.

– Happy Seeking.

-Dan Hochman (mens health & wellness coach)

Is your life driven by external validation?

Is your life driven by external validation?

Does your life truly feel like your own? How many of your thoughts, words and actions are coming from a place of authentic alignment? If you’re anything like me, than I’d guess that there’s quite a bit you do that stems from the unconscious desire to be validated. It could be as simple as the way you communicate with others, do you find yourself constantly polishing your words, or are you speaking from your truth? Perhaps it’s the way you dress, are your clothes items that you love? Or are you always trying to keep up with the latest trend, even at the expense of your sense of self? At a surface level it makes sense why we’d want to tailor ourselves. After all we all want to feel love, safety and acceptance. However like with most things there is a price.

Going into my first year of college, I was completely sold on the idea of making the experience as outwardly appealing as possible. I wanted to “look the part” get the attention of the women I desired, and I thought that my path to doing so, started with fundamentally changing myself. I began working out from a place of “lack” as opposed to a place of self love. I hung out with groups of people that weren’t my tribe, and I started having the “successful” college experience I was sold on. However, deep down I wasn’t very happy. I knew that I was suppressing parts of myself that I was afraid weren’t worthy of love. The more I suppressed those parts, the more I felt disassociated from the people around me, and most importantly myself.

It wasn’t till four months after I graduated and moved to a new city, that I realized I was still carrying a lot of facade with me. I don’t blame myself for this, and neither should you. As I stated we all want those same fundamental things, love, safety and acceptance. What if there was a way though to get those needs met while still staying true to ourselves. Instead of striving for approval we can strive for in-proval.

This process isn’t always easy but it starts with determining what is authentically important to us, and letting our actions follow suit. In my case, I’ve never been a heavy drinker, I can enjoy a drink from time to time but I can remember there being nights in college where I would go out and choose not to drink. Sometimes I would hear from friends “why aren’t you drinking” and for a minute there would be a flutter of fear. I’d be worried that maybe if I wasn’t drinking I’d be looked at differently or lose some kind of social approval. Yet the more I aligned my actions with my truth, the more I felt a different surge of fulfillment come over me. The fulfillment of choosing to validate myself internally. In addition with most things you do over time, the stronger the muscle becomes, and the easier it can be implemented.

I’m by no means an expert at being internally validated, I catch myself falling into the need for external approval quite often. Yet I know that with continued mindfulness, and courageous action we can all begin to start looking first to ourselves for approval, and then go on to living lives of fulfillment.

external validation