Archive for the ‘Money’ Category

I think I’ve received a dozen emails in the past year asking me how to go about getting an article published on T-Nation.com. In the past week, I’ve received three emails on this topic so I figured it was time to write a blogpost.

It is my opinion that T-Nation authors are the cream of the crop. There are certainly veteran professors and researchers out there who understand the science of strength better than anyone, and there are seasoned coaches out there who understand the practicality of strength better than anyone, but T-Nation authors have a good blend between the two and are pretty darn innovative as well. I’ve heard some guys rip on T-Nation but I suspect that they’re just bitter that they can’t get published on the site. I credit much of my knowledge over the years to T-Nation.

Without further ado, I present thee with my top ten tips that will allow you to write for T-Nation:

1. Train Hard

There are some skinny geeks who have snuck through the cracks and gotten articles published due to cleverness and brilliance, but these cases are far and few between. In order to know strength you have to train for strength. People will take you much more seriously if you have a muscular physique. I’m no Jay Cutler, but you can tell I train hard.

2. Experiment With Everything

In order to understand how to design programs, you have to learn how the variables interact with one another. If you want to understand these variables to the best of your abilities, you should have extensive experience training via Bodypart Splits, Lower/Upper Splits, Push/Pull Splits, Total Body Training, High-Volume Training, High-Intensity Training, High Frequency Training, Escalating Density Training, and Progressive Distance Training. You should know all the exercises and tools of the trade: bodyweight, dumbbells, barbells, machines, kettlebells, bands, chains, ropes, suspension systems, specialty bars, body leverage systems and apparatuses, etc.

If all you’ve ever done is one type of training you can’t possibly understand the relationships between various types of stimuli.

3. Read the Archives

T-Nation has been around since 1998. Past articles are all archived. You’ve got a lot of reading to do. If you don’t know who Charles Poliquin, Ian King, Nelson Montana, Jerry Telle, Charles Staley, Cy Wilson, Paul Chek, and John Paul Catanzaro are then you don’t know T-Nation. Learn the roots.

4. Read the Forums

If you want to get an idea about what T-Nation readers are interested in, spend time reading the T-Nation forums. I don’t do this because I intuitively know what the readers want to read because I’m a meathead weekend warrior just like them! Forums also alert you to various issues at hand so you can do more investigating.

5. Read Journals

I didn’t do much of this in the past, but this separates the men from the boys. I’ve been a journal-reading machine lately and I wish I did more of it earlier on. It’s not always fun, but it’s damn effective. I print out journal articles and store them in giant 3-ring binders so I can revisit them down the road.

You should also learn how to cite articles, books, and the like in your articles. This separates the men from the boys as well.

6. Read Bodybuilding Magazines and Read Up on Powerlifting, Weightlifting, Strongman, and Sport Training

You need to know the culture, traditions, practices, methods, and beliefs of the most muscular and powerful men on the planet. You also need to know how to adapt their routines to serve the general public.

7. Know that Physical Therapy Related Topics Won’t Win You Any Prizes on T-Nation

It’s great to understand movement efficiency, mobility, stability, form, SRM, activation techniques, breathing patterns, assessments, and restoration work, but these alone will not get you published on T-Nation. They will on other sites, but if you want to write for T-Nation you need to also understand hypertrophy, strength, power, and conditioning. You need to intertwine the corrective stuff with the hardcore stuff or you’ll bore the readers.

It’s called “Testosterone Nation,” not “Estrogen Country.”

8. Train Other People

Nobody cares if you can quote all the journals and reel off scientific facts if you’ve never trained anyone. Furthermore, you can’t possibly write good programs if you don’t have experience training a wide variety of individuals.

9. Have a Niche

Master a certain topic or type of training and your chances of getting published on T-Nation will increased dramatically. Think about it; Cosgrove was the angry Scotsman/fat loss guy (now he’s the business/marketing guru), Tate and Wendler are the powerlifting/strength guys, Thibs is the hypertrophy guy, Cressey is a powerlifting/deadlift/corrective exercise/baseball/shoulder guy (I guess he fulfils several niches), Robertson is a powerlifting/corrective exercise/glute/knee guy, Waterbury is the nervous system guy, Boyle is the functional training guy, Tumminello is the joint-friendly strength & conditioning guy, Romaniello is the get-shredded guy, and John is Yoda.

10. Have Patience

I wrote an article that I wanted to submit to T-Nation in 2005 but I never followed through. Instead, I waited four more years and spent those entire four years eating, breathing, living, and dreaming strength training. I look back at the 2006 article and laugh. It was called “Band Training for Badasses” and was pretty good, but knowing what I know now I wasn’t ready to be published on T-Nation.

Before I ever submitted an article to T-Nation, I had obtained a master’s degree, held my CPT certificate for 12 years, held my CSCS for 8 years, trained hard for 17 years, trained hundreds of clients, owned my own studio for several years, invented a workout machine, written an eBook, and had conducted extensive EMG experiments.

You have to develop street cred and demonstrate that you are an expert. This takes time.

11. Bonus: Write, Write, Write!

It’s important that you write well so the drafts you submit convey intelligence. If your ideas don’t flow well, you don’t communicate effectively, or you make tons of mistakes, then chances are your article will be deleted immediately. My advice is to get a free blog and start writing. Practice makes perfect.

So there you have it! Eleven tips to help you get published on T-Nation. Good luck!

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Owning Your Own Studio

I wanted to throw up a quick blog that discussed some of the caveats to owning your own fitness training studio. I owned my own studio called Lifts in Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale for almost three years and these were some of the best years of my life. Here are my top seven reasons for wanting to own and operate your own studio:

1. Hours of Operation

I’m a night owl. Always been one. For this reason, I made my hours of operation 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.. At 8:00 p.m. I’d train for an hour and then I’d write the following day’s workouts til around 10:00 p.m. or 11:00 p.m.. This worked well for me because I hate waking up at 6:00 a.m.. I’d rather die!

2. Family/Friend Discount

I gave my family and friends discounts. Some of them I trained for free. There is no higher reward than helping someone you love take an active role in becoming more fit and healthy. I got to see almost all the people I cared about several times per week; my Mom, Dad, sister, niece, twin bro, step brothers, step mom, sister-in-law, and friends would train with me regularly.

3. Choose Who You Want to Train

If you don’t like a client you can tell them to take a hike. I only had to do this once but it felt great knowing that I could remove a negative person from my life as I was “da boss.” My clients kicked ass and many of them became like family.

4. Employees

I hired really cool employees; high energy, hilarious people who made me look forward to coming to work every day. We had so many inside jokes it was sickening. The synergy was great.

5. System

I was in charge of creating all the systems. If it works well; I’m a star. If it sucks; I’m a loser. It’s cool knowing that you are responsible for creating the framework for something big. I enjoyed the challenge of creating training systems, scheduling systems, billing systems, procedures/policies, cleaning systems, referral systems, etc. I especially liked my training systems as to this day I believe they’re second to none.

6. Own Gym to Train In

At the end of the day, I’d lock the doors, blast music such as Rise Against and pace around like a madman in between sets of deadlifts. When I was ready to lift; it was like a demon possessed me and there was no way I could fail. I love my equipment so much and can’t fathom training in any other environment. Chalk, deadlift levers, chains, and heavy metal? It doesn’t get any better than that!

7. Community/Local Impact

This is actually what it’s all about. You have to experience it to understand it. You’re part of the community. You hear locals gossiping about your place when you go eat nearby. Your clients have camaraderie and “hate” on other gyms. All the clients and employees would wear Lifts and Skorcher t-shirts and brag about how we’re the best gym. I was on a few local news stations and had some articles written about me in local magazines and newspapers, etc. It feels really good to know that you are “taking care” of the neighborhood in terms of fitness.

This was my “deadlift song.” I swear it added 30 lbs to my strength.

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My Blog is Blowing Up

Before I get started on this blog, let me say a few things. First, I sure am glad I listened to my fans and colleagues about shortening the blogposts. To quote a great philosopher, “My shit is blowin’ up fools!” I think it was Aristotle who said that. Seriously, my blog is kicking some serious butt which is great news because I work very hard to make it a major part of my life. Thank you very much to all the people who put me on their blogroll, retweet my posts, and spread the word on Facebook and on various forums. It is much appreciated!

My friends think I’m a complete nerd when I tell them that I’m working on a blog. I used to think blogging was for serious nerds too, but I have to admit I now love it. This will be me in a few years:

Good Reads for the Week Blogpost

Second, regarding my weekly Good Reads for the Week blogposts, I get all of those links off of Twitter and Facebook. I steal a lot of the unique articles from Jonathan Fass as he posts some good articles on his Facebook page (then I post them on my blog and get all the glory….mwuh huh huh!). If you’re a fitness writer and you’re wondering why I don’t include links to your articles, it’s due to one of two things: 1) I don’t believe it’s quite good enough to link, or 2) I never read it because you didn’t market the article. Here’s an excellent quote from Alwyn Cosgrove on last week’s StrengthCoach Podcast (I’m bastardizing his quote as I’m writing this down from memory but I don’t think his Scottish ass will mind):

If you believe in your product and you’re not telling anyone, then you’re doing everyone a disservice. If you found a cure for cancer and kept it to yourself, you’d be an asshole. If you believe in your work and ideas, then you SHOULD promote them and try to spread the word. Keeping it to yourself would be selfish.

In other words, don’t feel bad about promoting your work. Just don’t be overly annoying about it like some folks. That’s a quick way to turn people off in this industry. If you’re not using Facebook and/or Twitter, you’re missing out.

Blogging Secrets

Recently I’ve been getting a lot of emails from my colleagues asking me how I find the time to blog so often. It’s all about passion baby! If you’re immersed in the fitness field like I am, then you probably understand what it feels like to be “getting paid to do your hobby.” I work around the clock and currently love doing so. However, here are some of my secrets:

1. I read really, really fast. I wouldn’t say I’m a speed reader but I read twice as fast as most people I know.

2. I have great “systems.” I have tabs of Hotmail, Facebook, Twitter, T-Nation, Elitefts, StrengthCoach, and my blog. When I’m writing I get bored often and need a break. I cycle through the various tabs to break the monotony and stay updated.

3. I go through the newsfeeds on Facebook and Twitter several times per day and click on all the links that look like good reads.

4. If I like the article, I click on a MS Word document that I create each week where I jot down a quick sentence about the article and paste the link. When it comes time for me to post the blog, the hard work is done and all I have to do is copy, paste, and link the articles. Then I embed a Jamie Eason image so when I post the blog to Facebook my fans are compelled to click on it. My sleaziness knows no bounds. Jamie’s so hot even women have to click on the link. She talked about this in a Muscular Development interview several months ago.

5. Whenever I think of a new idea I jot it down in another ongoing MS Word document called “Random Thoughts.” Often I’ll be working out, training someone, or having a conversation with someone and I’ll think of a new idea. In this case I text message the idea to myself so I don’t forget. I’m a big thinker so I come up with stuff to blog about quite often. I probably have 30 ideas ready to be blogged about at all times.

6. Whenever possible I multi-task. On Monday I was talking to someone on the phone and I put it on speakerphone so I could respond with a quick “thank you” to every single person who wrote me a Happy Birthday message on Facebook. Little things like this make a big difference.

7. I’m not married, I don’t have kids, and I don’t go out much. I’m comfortable in my home. I have a badass garage gym so I don’t need to leave the house very often. I don’t watch sports except for UFC fights. I try to see a movie once a week. Sadly, I don’t even go on dates. The benefit of being single right now is that I don’t have any one to answer to…I can stay up late, wake up early, leave dishes in the sink, etc. This equates to more time to dedicate to my reading, learning, and writing.

8. As far as quality is concerned, I try to stick to a few rules when I blog. First, I try to spell-check and proof-read my posts. I’m amazed at how many bloggers don’t even go this far. Second, I try to use bold and italics to spruce things up. Third, I try to break up the paragraphs to reduce “intimidation.” Forth, I try to embed pictures and Youtube videos. Fifth, I try very hard to respond to comments so my readers feel engaged. And sixth, I try to provide quality content while injecting some humor into the posts. These simple rules seem to be working very well for me.

9. I purposely limit the amount of personal training clients I take on. I believe that beginner trainers and coaches should try to get as much training experience under their belt as possible. When I had my personal training studio Lifts I trained so many clients each week I feel that I got a decade’s worth of experience crammed into a few years. Once you’ve been training for as many years as I have you actually benefit more from training less and freeing up more time for reading and researching.

When I was a high school math teacher, I’d run around like a maniac so I could get all of my work done during school hours. My teacher friends made fun of me for how fast I walked and moved around but they usually stayed at work until 6 p.m. whereas I bolted out of there shortly after the bell rang. I’m all about being productive, multi-tasking, and creating efficient systems! As a matter of fact, I have my computer in my garage right now and I’m writing this blog in between sets of full squats – no joke. How’s that for multi-tasking? So there you have it! This is how I get so much accomplished.

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While I usually write about strength and sport training topics, today I’m going to venture off a bit and address a topic that I believe is very important to my fellow trainers. I’ve been lucky enough to have met many personal trainers in the past year at local and top levels. During conversation, I’m always surprised to find that most of them don’t have any sort of retirement plan. I must confess, currently I don’t either, but it’s something that’s always on my mind.

As a former high school mathematics teacher, this topic is of great concern to me. When you work a government job, it’s not just about the money you make during your years working, it’s also about the money you make when you retire.

Example 1 – Firefighter

A chief of a local fire department started working 32 years ago as a firefighter. His starting salary was $20,000 per year. Over the years he rose through the ranks from firefighter to captain, captain to battalion chief, and battalion chief to chief. He currently makes $150,000 per year. His average salary over the 32 years is $70,000 per year. During his career, he made $2.24 million dollars.

Since he worked for 32 years, his pension is 80% of his base salary averaged out over his last three years of work. FYI, if you put in 20 years you get 50% and 75% for putting in 30 years; it rises as more years of service are reached and tops out at 80%. Many individuals in the fire service will work a ton of overtime during their last three years to boost their pensions.

Let’s say that this particular chief started out as a firefighter at age 23, retired at age 55, and lives until he’s 85. During his 30 years of retirement, he makes $120,000 per year in pension. This equates to $3.6 million dollars. So he made $2.24 million while working and $3.6 million while retired for a total of $5.84 million. Of course, I’m ignoring what Uncle Sam takes out but you get the point.

He made 61% more money from his pension than he did from his years of service.

Now, there’s more to retirement than just pensions. There’s social security, savings accounts, 401(k)’s and 403(b)’s, IRA’s and Roth IRA’s, stocks, bonds, CD’s, employer matching programs, etc.

Why is this important for trainers?

We are responsible for our own retirement. Most of us aren’t paying into social security and won’t have a pension.

Example 2 – Typical Personal Trainer

Let’s say a personal trainer makes $60,000 per year. His earnings fluctuate slightly over the years but stay relatively constant. He spend money carelessly, parties relentlessly, and doesn’t save anything. He needs to keep working until he dies in order to continue providing for himself. At sixty years of age he suddenly realizes that nobody wants to hire an old-ass trainer and nobody wants to listen to what was popular back in the 1980’s. This trainer started at age 25 and worked until he was 60 and made $2.1 million over the course of his career…a far cry from the $5.84 million earned by the individual in the fire service.

Even worse, now he’s living in a van down by the river, he has old balls, and nobody wants to talk to him. His desperate attempt at a motivational speaking gig is ill-fated and he ends up succumbing to a drug addiction.

Example 3 – Smart Personal Trainer

Another personal trainer also starts at age 25, works til he’s 60, and makes an average of $60,000 per year (we could speculate that he keeps on learning, attends seminars, networks, and keeps earning more money over the years but that’s not the point). He only spends $36,000 per year and saves the rest. He puts some into savings, a lot into an IRA, and a little into the stock market. Since he was so fit and responsible, he was able to find himself a beautiful wife who also worked and earned income. At age 60, they’ve paid off their mortgage, saved enough to be able to retire, and can spend their days kicking back on the hammock while sipping on coronas.

Bottom line – the best time to start thinking about your retirement is NOW!

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