Monthly Archives: January 2018

I love me some strict pressing. While typically barbell strict press, I also program is in with log, swiss bar, fat bar, dumbbell, and just about anything you can safely press overhead. I find its utility to be a bit higher than bench press, so if I am really having to consolidate training days, it’s the staple I recommend most people keep in. That being said, getting the most out of your strict press training does eventually come down to having skill and technique down as opposed to just pressing an implement overhead.

Set up: hands slightly outside your shoulders.  What we really want it for your forearms to be mostly perpendicular to the bar. Taking your arms out too wide or too narrow will shift the load to be a little more delt and tricep dominant respectively and can result in a weaker press.  Get a big breath before you unrack the weight and pull yourself under the bar.  In a strict press, you DO want the bar in the heel of your hand as opposed to front rack position. This is the primary positioning difference between strict press and push press.

From there, you want to externally rotate from the hip, squeeze the glutes, and brace your core. A common mistake on overhead pressing is not activating your glutes and/or shifting into a posterior pelvic tilt.  If you do not brace properly and engage your glutes, its common that your lower back disengages from properly bracing the movement.  Instead, it often acts as almost a fulcrum from which power is poorly and does not aid in the intentional, full body tension we want.

Now, a note on bracing:  a big mistake I see when people are attempting to brace is that they are simply taking a huge belly breath and allowing their rib cage to flare. This typically will also offset your mechanics and lead to subpar intra-abdominal pressure, then a pelvic tilt. Think about keeping your ribs stacked one on top of the other.

Now that you have a set up, flare your lats to create a solid foundation to press from.  You will get as many reps as you can with your belly breath, but if you are doing some considerably volume, you may want to get another breath. Do so by breathing at the top of the movement when you are settled.

Something to consider: strict press is going to be one of your weaker lifts of the core four (squat/bench/deadlift/strict press).  If you are taking yourself into some pretty high intensity, its important to make smaller jumps, as 10lbs here can feel like a 25lb jump on bench press.  Consider your jumps in terms of percentages instead of flat poundage.

Another something to consider: there is a LOT going on with the overhead press. Any overhead movement, done incorrectly, does carry an enormous risk of shoulder impingements. You absolutely CAN come back from impingements and prevent them so long as you respect the technical nature of the overhead press.  In terms of accessory work to help, Im a huge fan of pull downs / pull ups with a similar grip width as your overhead press. Additionally, I think some bracing work can help tremendously as well.

I hope that all makes sense! All of these tips can also be used for various forms of strict pressing, be is barbell, log, and axle with just a few tweaks.  If you have any questions about how to fix YOUR press, let me know! Happy pressing!

Here at Mid-South Spine and Sports Performance, we provide performance-based care for conditions of the musculoskeletal system. Our mission is to provide the members of our community access to the same results-based, quality health care that is typically reserved for collegiate and professional sports teams. Most competitive athletes form personal, long term relationships with their health care providers. This is for a few reasons 1) Because a competitive athlete is pushing their body to the absolute limit, they constantly require help to keep them recovering and performing at their best. 2) As the doctor-patient relationship develop over enough time, the practitioner is able to develop a unique understanding of how their patient’s body works, leading to more mutual benefit. In this paradigm, the standards and expectations for both parties are clear and mutual: Keep the patient’s body as healthy as possible for as long as possible, no matter what it costs.

You can’t make plays if you’re sidelined with an injury.


Take a second to re-read that last part. No matter what it COSTS. No patient who enters a relationship with their doctor on the basis of doing what is best for their body has ever seriously been concerned about costs. Why? Because they understand the value of their body being healthy.

For a competitive athlete, this is an easy conclusion, but it’s a conclusion that we can all arrive at. Even if you aren’t a professional athlete, your body and your health brings VALUE to your life. You may not be relying on your body to avoid a tackle or hit a 300ft homerun in order to pay your rent, but your body still brings you value in your life. It could be as strenuous as hitting a new PR in the gym or as simple as playing catch with your kids in the backyard. Regardless of your priorities in life, your quality of health directly impacts your quality of life. Unfortunately, far too many people neglect this principle and place little to no value on their health until it has deteriorated to the point in which the feel the full burden of their decisions.

Unfortunately, not only does our current model of health care not hold the same standards for quality and results seen in care for collegiate and professional athletes, it rarely emphasizes any sort of actual prevention. The idea of preventative wellness care is similar to performance care in that we understand that the body is constantly under chronic stressors from which it is constantly adapting. The vast majority of our most common, life-threatening, and costly health care conditions are chronic in their nature (etiology).

Preventative wellness care is based upon the concept that if we can battle these chronic stressors with exercise, a good diet, and utilizing services from conservative health care sources such as chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, etc., we can reduce the chronic degradation of the body and actually prevent problems such as heart disease and diabetes from occurring in the first place.



Think about the original wellness care provider – dentists. What is every dentist’s main objective? To prevent tooth decay. How does tooth decay occur? It occurs when plaque, tartar, and other destructive elements slowly wear away at teeth over a long period of time (this is the definition of chronic disease). So what do dentists say is the best way you can prevent tooth decay? A mix of daily activities that you perform on your own such as brushing and flossing AND regular, periodic trips to the dentist for a check up inspection and a cleaning to get all the little spots you may not be able to cover with brushing or flossing. Is this a grand scheme by dentists to make billions of dollars selling you care that you don’t need? Absolutely not. In fact, by spending the money regularly for preventative care and accepting your responsibility to hold up your end of the deal by practicing dental hygiene every day, and not eating bad food, there are massive benefits for your teeth AND your wallet. Not only will you have nice, pearly teeth instead of yellow, worn, or even missing teeth, you also avoid the higher costs of more complicated procedures like pulling a tooth or getting a filling. Fair to say that this is a win-win right? 



This then begs the question: Why would it be any different for the rest of your body, specifically the most important structure in your body, the spine? If you think your teeth are under chronic stress, imagine how much stress your spine is under in an everyday basis. Although no one likes having a root canal, in a few days you are back to chewing and masticating like nothing happened. But injuries to the spine that could have prevented by practicing SPINAL hygiene and receiving regular preventative wellness care could keep you out of commission for weeks,  months, or even years.

So what’s the point? In sports medicine care, we do everything we can to prevent injuries for our athletes and provide the highest quality health care possible. Injuries are a part of sports and life, but the purpose of a sports medicine team is never to sit around and wait until someone gets hurt. We make sure we have the educational resources, dietary recommendations, access to the best equipment, and the best professionals to identify areas that are susceptible to injury.

Seems like a good way to keep an athlete at tip top shape right? So why not mimic that with a general population? Why not provide access to education, services, and professionals that are geared towards preventing a severe spinal injury or metabolic syndrome, or giving you the ability to continue doing the activities you love to do? Why wait until your health is taken away from you to be concerned about it? After all, by the time your dentist has discovered that you have one cavity, there’s probably about three or four more that are well on their way.



The only way to provide higher quality health care and allow for a return to results-based care and a personal relationship between doctor and patient. As with any industry, quality still has a direct relationship with cost in health care. Our business model is to be the Ferrari of health care. We do not offer low quality health care services for low prices with the hope of making up for it by treating 100 patients a day.

We also provide outlets to the best team of fitness professionals at NBS Fitness for our patients. Nutritional services? Training advice? Personal Training? Individualized training programs? Weight loss plans? The pros at NBS Fitness have you covered. And why wouldn’t we want to team up with services like that? We firmly believe that when it comes to your health, no one wants the Dollar Store of health care, and there is a demographic of patients who understand that the value in high quality care.

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of market research on health care costs and the current state of our care quality. My research was mainly focused on preventative wellness care and I was attempting to back up my claim that the most prevalent and costly diseases right now in America are widely preventable if we would just approach them correctly. My theory is that not only would addressing problems like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure with conservative, preventative wellness care lead to better outcomes, it would also eliminate other deaths that are attributed to prescription drug usage.

The topic of prescription drugs has been a pretty significant one over the last couple of years as the public becomes continually aware of the problems and side effects of pharmacologic treatment for certain conditions. Of course this is a great first step as more and more people are becoming aware of the dangers of trying to solve everything with a quick prescription, but even with that wheel slowly beginning to turn, we still find ourselves in a health care system that widely overuses prescription medications.

To illustrate that claim, here is a fantastic overview of just how huge the prescription drug problem is in America:


Over Prescribed America

To view some of the other facts about prescription drug usage, advertising, and sales, click here.

The CrossFit Open is 4 weeks away!
Are you ready to…
Prove Your Fitness??
February 22-March 26

Intramural Open

CrossFit NBS will be participating in the CrossFit Open and we want all of our CrossFit members involved! In order to provide inclusiveness, we will run an “Intramural Open”, an idea adopted from Catalyst Fitness.

The Intramural Open is a fantastic way to build our community during the CrossFit Open. The focus of the Intramural Open is on inclusion and celebration instead of competition (though there’s a good bit of that, too.)

How It Works

Any CrossFit member interested in participating in the Open and being on a team will sign up. From there we will choose captains. Our goal is to have enough participants to have 3 teams so we will be choosing 3 captains.

Participants will then be selected for the teams.  Once everyone is placed on a team we will announce all of the teams and their members!

Each Team will then decide on a team name.

You are more than welcome to register on the official CrossFit Games site so that you can see how you do against the masses, however, we will have a $20 buy in for the entry fee to participate in our Intramural Open. This money will go into a ‘pot’ and be divided among the members of the winning team!! The more people we have signed up, the bigger the payout!!

Points and Scoring

Points are awarded to encourage participation and FUN and some friendly competition.

1. Teams are given 1 point for every athlete who completes an Open workout.

2. Teams are given 3 points for every athlete who finishes among the top 3 Rx women and top 3 RX men in the gym per workout.

3. Teams are given 3 points for every athlete who finishes among the top 3 Scaled women and top 3 Scaled men in the gym per workout.

4. Individuals are given 1 point daily for having the most spirit in your regular class! Spirit points will then be tallied for weekly team totals.


The Open workouts will be during all regularly-scheduled classes on Fridays. Athletes can attend any class and their scores go toward points for their Intramural team. Friday evenings we will get as many people in the building at once as possible to participate in our Open. We will try to have 1-2 members of each Intramural team represented in each heat on the Open workouts. I know scheduling can be challenging at times, so we will also have a “last-chance qualifier” on Sunday afternoons during an Open Gym time for athletes who can’t make any class on Friday or those crazy enough to attempt the workouts twice!

The goal is to have fun!! It DOES NOT matter if you’ve been CrossFitting for one month or 4 years, everyone can participate and have a great time!!


Order your Intramural Open shirt here:

T Shirt Link

Clash For Cash III

When: May 12th, 2018, 11am

Where: World Famous Beale Street, Memphis, TN

Meet Director: Annie Gunshow, 901-244-6529,

Prizes: $300 for Open Class Winners

Classes must have 5 competitors or classes will be combined

Event List

$60 before April 7th, $80 after

With the new years comes the idea of new year’s resolutions and with resolutions we see a broad spectrum of approaches. I know I have seen social media posts that range from big goals and big changes to one small action done daily to people who say they don’t need the New Year to spark a change in them. The fitness industry feeds off the idea of a new year and new changes since most people in this country know they need to make changes when it comes to their health and fitness. Funny enough, many fitness “veterans” complain about the new year because now their gym is full of people they have to share equipment with and, generally speaking, most of the new year’s crowd hasn’t got a clue what they’re doing. This can cause some experienced fitness enthusiasts to develop a sense of superiority in regards to new year’s resolutioners. My response to that is two fold: First, my gym, and the most of the rest of the industry, makes its money off of new clients who need help. The day new people stop joining and stop buying our services is the day I will be forced to close the gym. Unfortunately, $45 a month doesn’t make much of a dent in a $1,000,000 facility. So unless you want to be forced to go lift at ATC or Planet Fitness, lose access to monolifts, specialty bars, strongman equipment, and an environment that allows chalk and doesn’t play crappy music, you better spread the word and encourage new people to come to the gym (or at the very least don’t discourage them). Second, everybody should have a new years resolution. That’s great if you’re taking action through out the year to improve yourself in different areas of your life but if you’re not, the new year is the perfect catalyst. Personally, I try to make a resolution each year. Typically, it’s a small, simple task to do everyday that will improve some aspect of my life like floss my teeth everyday, make my bed each morning, or devote at least 10-15 minutes of reading each day. In light of all this, I decided to share three fitness resolutions that everybody should have and a special meathead version of each as well.

1. Develop a better relationship with health and fitness

Americans are overweight and out of shape. Everyone knows this; a lot of people try to make changes but most everybody fails. Making change is difficult, healthy nutritious food doesn’t provide the same orgasmic chemical response that we get from processed sugar and exercise hurts. Few people have to be in great physical shape to survive so most people take the easy road, it’s part of human nature. The dichotomy between what we know we should do versus what we’re biologically drawn towards and trained ourselves to do makes this a very challenging process. Thus, people who hate exercise, who hate healthy food, or even people who don’t really enjoy it need to make a resolution to create a better relationship with health and nutrition. If you were given a million dollars and told to steward it well, some people would spend it as fast as possible, some people would let it sit and do nothing with it, and other would grow it into much more than a million dollars. This is similar to being given a healthy body at birth. At the very least, don’t waste it. The ability to exercise, to choose the foods you wish to eat, to be able to pursue self improvement is something not afforded to everybody on this planet. If you have these luxuries, be thankful. Each time you find yourself having negative emotions or thoughts in regards to your health and fitness, take a second to think or, better yet, write down something you’re thankful for in regards to your body, your life, and your pursuit of health and fitness.

Meathead Version: Meatheads typically have the opposite emotion towards health and fitness that most people struggling with it do: we love it. Because of this, we sometimes build a superiority complex based off the fact that something so hard for most everyone else to do comes a bit easier for us. This makes us feel good about ourselves and we like to show how good we feel about ourselves by posting about it constantly on social media. This gets us likes which makes us feel even better about ourselves. Sometimes we justify our social media obsession by saying we’re trying to motivate other people to work out but are we really? Do we really post pictures of ourselves half naked posing to encourage the guy or girl across the office to actually get in the gym and eat right or do we do it because we know we’ll get a bunch of likes and that makes us feel good about spending three hours in the gym and eating chicken and broccoli at our own birthday party? If you’re a regular in the gym, who’s figured out how to make health and fitness a part of your life, instead of posting stuff about yourself on social media, take that time and energy and reach out to someone (or several) and invite them to come workout with you. Help them develop a healthy relationship with health and fitness while you do as well.

2. Do something that makes you comfortable and uncomfortable

Truth be told, when you first start training pretty much everything is going to make you uncomfortable. So instead of jumping head first into a bunch of stuff that sucks, pick something you enjoy first. If you don’t like being sore from weight training, start off going for a bike ride or rowing or hell, even Zumba. Do something that will at least get your foot in the door. You’ll quickly realize that exercise actually does make you feel pretty good and you’ll be a little more comfortable with what it feels like to breath heavy and sweat. You’ll also realize that true health and fitness can’t be achieved from completely ignoring one aspect of it. You’ll realize that you’ll need to work on your strength, your mobility, your muscularity, your body composition, your speed and explosion, your endurance and all other areas of health and fitness. These will mean you will have to take on new challenges: things that are uncomfortable. But with each step into discomfort you’ll gain a little more momentum and quickly you will look forward to challenging yourself in new ways.

Meathead Version: As meatheads we’re used to discomfort. We love it when people ask how much we squat or bench and we see their face cringe as they think about what that must feel like. We secretly love it when we tear a callus so we can show people how much pain we can handle. But let’s be honest, all that is still comfortable to us. Our first time we experienced getting our knees wrapped we squirmed like we were being tortured but once we got used to it it wasn’t a big deal. So…do something that is uncomfortable. Find something that will actually test you, something that will make you want to quit. Unless you have a competition in the next couple of months you can afford to take a month to train something you really suck at and don’t enjoy. Do you have terrible aerobic fitness, think cardio is stupid, hate running? Then give yourself a month to run a 5k. Are you way too fat and justify it because you have a big bench and think you look jacked but only with clothes on? Take a month to clean up your nutrition, no cheat meals for a month. Can’t touch your toes, scratch your back, or squat to depth without three times body weight? Go do yoga three times a week. Whatever it is, find something that you don’t want to do and do it. Find something that you really want to quit half way through and don’t.

3. Apply what you learn in the gym to life

The gym is one of the best teaching tools for life that I have come across. It teaches you the benefits of hard work, discipline, and commitment and helps you improve your time management, social skills, and, in some instances, a little bit of life balance. Those are valuable lessons that can be applied to other areas of your life. After several months of creating new habits, getting comfortable being uncomfortable, and knocking down goal after goal, look back and think about how you accomplished each one of them. What other areas in your life can you apply this too? How could these help you at your job? Help you at home? Help you in your relationships? Taking your health and fitness seriously is more than just looking good naked (although that is definitely a plus). It’s about getting the most out of your life which means taking an active approach to improving all of it.

Meathead Version: Stan Efferding once said that anyone who can do what it takes to step on stage at a bodybuilding show has what it takes to be successful in life. You’ve got the discipline, the hard work, and the commitment to hit PRs, get to crazy low body fat levels, run miles upon end and push your body to levels others can’t. Think of what that would look like if you applied it to your finances, if you applied it to your relationships, and if you applied it to your work. How about trying to hit a savings PR, to get your marriage to a crazy awesome level, or to get that promotion or new position that you’ve been chasing? If you can do it inside these walls, you can do it outside as well.

…So go do it

You’ve heard about it, all your friends have it, but you’re undecided, here’s my take on the Instant Pot.

“No one said this was going to be easy”

This phrase is something everyone has heard at some point in their lifetime. (If not, I suggest getting into a hobby that does not entail playing video games). This phrase can be aptly applied to School, Sports, Religion, or Work. Basically anything in life.

I would like to look at this from a fitness perspective, (‘cause duh, I am in the fitness industry, and I know little else).

Recently my lifting priorities have changed. None of us train the same way every time we step in the gym. Different goals call for different approaches. And the phases of life can alter one’s goals. We all go through phases of life that allow for training to be a higher priority and other phases in which training takes a back seat. During some phases, training needs to be changed up to target a certain characteristic as conditioning, muscle-building, strength, or sport-specific skills. Shoot, even if you just want to look better naked there are phases to the process.


Currently, I am in a phase where I straight-up suck at the requested goal for each training session. That goal is to isolate one muscle group at a time. I’m a gosh-dang powerlifter. I use all the muscle groups, even when walking. (You may know this as the penguin waddle). Isolation exercises are just not what I’m used to.

Hence the title of this article: “no one said this was going to be easy”.

Nothing in the realm of strength training is meant to come easy. If you look at anyone else in the gym “further along” than yourself, be slow to chop down their success. You do not know how hard they worked to get there. Most view me as good at powerlifting. Many do not know how many injuries I’ve been through during the last 5 years. Or that there are things I STILL struggle with that have not changed OVER 5 YEARS. Being humbled at my last meet has allowed new perspective which will make me slow down in each phase that I am in, focus on the current goal at hand, and not move on until I am qualified to do so. As always, Live, Learn, Pass On.