How to farmer’s walk your way to success

Strongman is a sport that punishes weakness.

That’s because the point system rewards consistency. In a contest of 6-10 events, the winner is typically the person with one or two obvious strengths, and no glaring liabilities.

I discovered this very quickly when I started competing.

My worst event was the farmer’s walk. In farmer’s walk, you pick up and carry two implements – one in each hand, suitcase style – over a set course for time. Usually 275 pounds or more per hand, I was great at picking them up, but just couldn’t hold on.

My grip strength repeatedly let me down.

The log press, on the other hand, was my best event. It involves lifting a wooden log – or cylindrical metal log – with parallel handles carved into it 30 inches apart, from the ground to arms length overhead (a bit like the Olympic style clean and jerk).

Problem was, every time I’d move up the standings in a log press, I’d come crashing back down with a last place in the farmer’s.

Even if I was average on the other events, my pattern of poor showings in one of the sport’s standards made it impossible for me to place highly.

For a few years, it was the same old story every time I competed.

You see, in training I’d almost always start with log press. I loved to push heavy weights, and therefore preferred to tackle the log while I was fresh. And I’d mostly do farmer’s walk at end of my session. That’s because I wasn’t particularly good at it, and didn’t enjoy training it very much.

One day it just clicked that if I was ever going to climb the ranks and improve on my previous competitive bests, I’d have to bring up my farmer’s walk.

So I started training it FIRST.

Lo and behold, I got better. Even started to like it.

Eventually, I became average on farmer’s – which was BIG for me.

I was never going to be great at it…at least not while running against the province’s best farmer’s walkers.

But I didn’t suck any more.

And that change allowed me to crack the top 10 at Ontario’s Strongest Man for the first time.

Well, that lesson stayed with me, and over the years I’ve put it to good use in overcoming what I either don’t feel good at, don’t like to do, or just never seem to get around to (even named the process *farmer’s walking* in honor of that teachable moment). Most of us procrastinate on items in those categories. That’s because it’s natural to focus on the small circle of influence in which we feel we have the most control.

What I’ve found is, when something’s perpetually on your to-do list, but never gets done, it’s best to either excuse yourself from it entirely (if you figure it’s not useful) or do it FIRST – at your earliest opportunity, and at the expense of everything else.

Just taking definite action on it can be the seed of significant personal breakthroughs.

From a metaphysical standpoint, there’s a release of energy that surrounds the completion of any task that lingers beyond its *best before* date.

It eases the spiritual bottleneck, and reestablishes a sense of flow.

In psychological terms, think of it as getting rid of mental clutter.

Just like an office, car, or home can become messy, so can your brain. You end up wasting mental resources on something that’s not driving your forward progress.

Got anything like that? What holds you back?

Put some thought into it.

Then be ruthless in removing any blockage.

Do the thing you know is important, but you keep putting off. Make it your TOP priority. Wherever your track record is less than inspiring, turn THAT into your pet project, leaving other things aside for now.

I promise you, you’ll be surprised at what unfolds.

Happy Farmer’s Walking,

Conor Kelly

P.S. Not sure what’s FIRST when it comes to your fitness program? That’s where I come in. Call me at (416) 826-4844 for your complimentary personal training consultation.

The T-Swift Cybersquat for a perfect booty

The advent of this little thing known as the internet has expanded our cultural lexicon in many charming ways.

For instance, why suffer archaic processes such as *searching* or *commenting* when one can simply *google* or *tweet*?

And asking for instructions on how to install kitchen cabinets?

So 1987.

Youtube it.

But now, the www has produced a particularly insidious type of illegitimate offspring…

The cybersquatter.

As Taylor Swift knows, a squatter’s life is hard.

Just ask her former guitar teacher, Ronnie Cremer.  He’s the miscreant who registered the domain, which (swiftly?) prompted a cease and desist letter from Ms. Swift’s legal team.  The letter alleged that the use of her name implied her endorsement of the site, and that it’s “highly likely to dilute, and to tarnish, the famous Taylor Swift trademark.”

Well, this only served to whip internet trolls into a buying frenzy of illicit Taylor Swift domains – leading her management to scoop up, and a bunch of others, ostensibly to stave off the barbarian hordes bearing down on the gates of her empire.

You go, T-Swift.

Way to out-squat the squatters.

I mean, what does it say about our society when we discriminate against the young, rich, and beautiful like this?

All joking aside, I admire Taylor Swift.

That’s why I’ve decided to rebrand one of my own most tested and proven bum-shaping moves, the dumbbell sumo squat, as the T-Swift Cybersquat.

And it possesses just the right je ne sais quoi, required in the formation of an exquisite derriere.

Full description and video at TaylorSwift.booty.

(Just kidding, Tay Tay.  Call off the Rottweiler’s.)

Here’s how you perform it to excellence in accentuating the bedonkadonk of thy backside…

*Stand with feet more than shoulder width apart, toes pointed out slightly

*Hold a dumbbell between your legs

*Squat down under control, with low back tightly arched, being conscious of pushing the hips back in a sitting motion

*If you find it a bit tricky, try stretching your hips/hamstrings, and start with a few sets of kickbacks to get the tushy humming before you tackle the TSC

Gluteus to the maximus, I say.

Anyway, use my special squat, but you must NEVER speak it aloud, lest with your words you tarnish its great name.

Happy Booty-Shaping,

Conor Kelly
(416) 826-4844

P.S. Reshape your entire body: reply to this email or call me at (416) 826-4844 to request your complimentary personal training consultation today.

The real story of St. Patrick’s Day

Today we celebrate St. Patrick, patron Saint of the Irish.

But few people know his story…

Having grown up in the comfort and stability of the Roman empire, Patrick finds himself enslaved to an Irish King at the age of 16.  Forced to work as a shepherd, he spends years roaming the mountains and countryside, shivering from cold.

He’s naked, alone, and hungry.

He starts to pray.

He’s never believed in his parents’ God (the God of Rome), but the more he prays, the more a burgeoning faith blossoms within him, and provides a sense a peace that steadies him against his ordeal.

One night he has a dream.

A voice tells him to get up, that a ship is waiting for him…

…That he’s going home.

He begins the unlikely journey that would ultimately lead him to freedom.

Upon returning to his family, Patrick continues to be preoccupied by the land where he was once captive.  He hears the voices of the Irish, sees their faces.  They beckon him to return, beg him in fact, with tears in their eyes.  He seeks to be ordained by the church, and embraces the required study – no mean feat for a young man who lacks the years of formal education normally accorded to a Roman youth.  Upon receiving his commission, he returns to Ireland to become the first active missionary to operate outside the safety of Rome.

He intends to confer Christianity upon the rag tag rabble of carefree warriors who inhabit Ireland at the time.

However, they’re about as likely to impale him as to hear him speak.

How does he do it?

How does he convert these stubborn, war-making Game Of Thronespersonalities?

In two ways…

First, he earns their respect with his courage.

(Thanks to his ardent belief, power and self-mastery emanate from Patrick like heat from a flame.)

Second, he tells them a story.

He weaves a narrative in which the virtues of faithfulness, courage, and generosity can exist in a peaceful man.  He taps into their insecurities.  In the chaos that is Ancient Ireland, calamity awaits in every patch of thick brush, or beyond every steep hill.  Evil gods plot to torment humans for their own sick pleasure.  He introduces them to a God that loves them, and whereby all things created exist to serve His providence – a God under which even suffering molds his most cherished creations.

No one is more qualified than Patrick to speak on this.

Finally, he liberates them from the fear of death by the promise of everlasting life.

And he does it convincingly.

Through sheer persistence, he frees them from their turbulent past, and ushers them into modernity as champions of culture.  He forgoes anger and resentment, and fills his heart with love and compassion for his former captors.  He devotes the latter half of his life to the island where he endured unthinkable hardships.  And against impossible odds, he converts most of Ireland…those *barbarians* whom many of his contemporaries would just as soon forget.  He spreads peace in an epoch of war, and shines a beacon on the better parts of their nature.

He inspires hope at a dark moment in history.

No matter what you may think of Christians or saints, it’s a remarkable achievement by one of the era’s great men.

He changed the world…by way of Ireland.

That is why we celebrate in his name.

And that is why, on this day especially, ‘tis grand to be Irish.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day,

Conor Kelly

P.S. This post is inspired by Thomas Cahill’s How The Irish Saved Civilization, whose account is much more detailed and utterly brilliant.  I highly recommend it.

Me Og, me lift big thing, burn fat

Scientists estimate 1%-4% of the DNA in European and Central Asian descended peoples is Neanderthal DNA.

Yes indeed…thank you interspecies breeding.

And according to researchers, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.  That’s right, Neanderthal DNA is said to correlate highly with a host of illnesses ranging anywhere from blood-clotting disorders, to obesity.

The obesity connection, I think, supports what I’ve been saying for years about heavier weights being essential to fat loss – contrary to the popular myth that high reps/low weight do the job better.

I’ll explain.

You see, cuz had the prescience to bequeath our species the NEED to LIFT.

(Alright as the former strongman, I might be a tad biased.)

Our bigger, stronger European neighbors  – who were also reputed to have ripped abs…just saying – would have had to regularly move boulders, flip fallen tree trunks, wrassle bears, and club a few saber-tooth tigers (not to mention carrying unconscious females back to their caves).

In other words, their whole day was a workout.

And a heavy one at that.

No wonder their bodies evolved to stockpile calories so effectively.

However, such traits are less useful when you sit behind a desk all day.

That’s why I say, if you can’t beat ‘em…join ‘em!

Throw some big poundage around on the regular.  Or at least ‘big’ relative to your own capabilities. You can’t fight it, it’s in your DNA (Unless you’re not of European/Asian descent, in which case, humor me, it’s still good advice).  The relative intensity and recruitment of fast-twitch muscle fibers that come with lifting near maximal loads will light a prehistoric fire under your metabolism!

Try the SBD (squat, bench, deadlift) workout, adapted from my former sport of powerlifting, and ideal for obliterating fat.  Warm up, then do 4 sets of 8 reps on each lift.  Choose a weight that challenges you, but make sure you can finish all four sets without cheating your reps.  In between each lift, throw in a two and a half minute cardio interval  with a 30 second sprint after the first minute, to simulate running away from a predator…and there you have it, The Neanderthal Workout.  It’s the latest craze to take the industry by storm, soon to be peddled by spray-tanned musclemen and bikini babes in late night infomercials.

Try it especialmente if you belong to the female gender of the species.

Disconnect in your brain the association of lifting weights with BULK.

It’s not real…and frankly a bit nutty.

A stronger female is a leaner female, is a thinner female.

Eventually you’ll possess enough force to turn evolution on its head, overpower the male of your choosing, and drag his limp body back to your woman lair – should that be how you deign to use your newfound powers.

(Can hear Beyonce rallying already…”all my single ladies…all my single ladies…”)

I bid you, go forth…

…Discharge the mighty SBD, and dispatch your fat to the annals of history, like a certain not-too-distant but extinct relative who once wee wee’d in the gene pool.

Og like that.

To Your Ripped Neanderthal Body,

Conor Kelly

P.S.  Learn more about my wily, evolution-busting ways…call or text me today at (416) 826-4844 for your complimentary personal training consultation.

Let there be hot Bulgarian babes in the weight room, I say

In the 70’s, the Bulgarian Olympic Weightlifting team was one of the most dominant sporting forces on the planet.

They racked up medal counts that would make even the most hardened communist dictator blush.

(Or *turn red*, get it?  Uh?  Uh?  Ah whatever…)

In the totalitarian machinery of the former Eastern Bloc – and under massive investment by the state – science ruled the day.

After carefully selecting and segmenting their athletes into their respective sports, scientists studied all aspects of the participants training, diet, and supplementation, with the goal of gleaning every drop of their full potential.

They were extremely intentional in testing anything they could think of…

This even extended to flooding the weight room with scantily clad Bulgarian hotties, to see how it would affect the male lifters.

Guess what?

It helped.

(I know…shocker.)

The men lifted heavier weights, and trained harder under the ladies’ motivating influence.

The point is, progress is rarely achieved in any field – or in life – without a great deal of intention.

Unless you’re intentional about every segment of your day, you’ll fail to overcome the unconscious habits that are hardwired into your brain (and may not be supporting your success).

Here are a few things you can be intentional about…

*Packing your belongings with snacks and meals for the day, based on your schedule

*What menu items you’ll order at your lunch meeting

*How you want to feel throughout your workday (e.g. Decide “I’m going to feel great today…” Hey, don’t knock it ‘til you’s tried it!)

*How you’re going to nurture your own wellbeing (e.g. workout, read a book, have coffee with a friend, get a massage or spa treatment)

*Who you plan to be in your interactions with everyone you meet (What kindness can you do?  What compliment can give?)

*What you’re going to do to break up the routine

That last one is a winner.

Take a different route home, buy your coffee at another coffee shop, talk to a stranger, wake up at an earlier or later time…Anything that heightens your awareness in the moment and breaks the spell of the robot-like repetition that characterizes most daily regimens.

(Brain science corner: new experiences physically reshape your brain – it’s called neuroplasticity.  Continually repeated situations create deep grooves in your mind and trigger the same combinations of neurons to fire together, leading to the same predictable behavioral responses.  When you’re in the habit of introducing new stuff, it can be easier to form new associations and increase your ability to steer yourself to desirable action.)

When you give up the hypnosis of habit, you gain the power to choose freely in the present, as opposed to surreptitiously living out your past subconscious programming.

Only then are you truly in the driver’s seat – in your fitness program, and in life.

Don’t fight me on this.

You know I’m right…

Be more intentional about being intentional.

And bring on the Bulgarian gym bunnies…

Happy Intending,

Conor Kelly

P.S. Come see me present my latest talk, ‘LEAN FOR LIFE: How To Achieve & MAINTAIN Your Healthiest & Best Body’, next Tuesday, March 15th

in Liberty Village.

Click here to go to the registration page.

This is your brain on Instagram

Remember when we used to get all our information from books?

My, how times have changed.

And while I stand by my belief that we’re living in the most exciting age in history, it’s important to consider how the tech revolution might be affecting you – especially in the larger context of fifty thousand years of human evolution.

The problem is what I call *Instagram crack.*

It’s the modern era dominion of the image or video over the written word.

And it violates a principle of neuroscience known as integration.

Integration says that our brains have evolved to operate best when the right and left hemispheres are allowed to function as they’re intended – and in harmony with each other.

What does this have to do with your fitness program?

I’ll explain…

You see, awareness of the body, images, emotions, and autobiographical recall are the domain of the right brain.  Logic, words, lists and sequences, on the other hand, pertain more to the workings of the left brain.

The preeminence of the visual means a lot of images, be they online, or in Men’s Health – or worse, Cosmo [shudder] – bypass your rational thinking and plant themselves directly in your experiential memory.

This goes way deeper than body-image issues.

It’s a stealth assault on your very humanity.

One consequence is that most people’s expectations of a given diet, workout program, or supplement are…how shall I put this?

A bit coo coo for cocoa puffs.

(Exhibit A: people sometimes bring me magazine photos as examples of what they want to look like.  In one instance, I told the guy flat out, “you will never look like that.  The second you accept it and move on, your life will immediately improve.”  He didn’t agree, and guess what?  He still doesn’t look like the picture, and he’s even more miserable about it!)

This is also why ab machines in TV infomercials sell so well, by the way.  Your logic says “that can’t be right”, but the other part of you says “crack, baby!  Craaaack!!”

The point is, it’s hard to inspire right-thinking in health and exercise habits when you’re fighting an unseen opponent.

And Instagram crack, like other forms of crack, presents a dilemma.

The dilemma is it feels good.  Real good.

It instantly gratifies.  BOOM!  Straight to reward center of the brain.  No need to arduously decode a bunch of words, or sequences of words.  No effort.  It’s easy.

Why should you care?

Because the integrated brain is proactive vs. reactive.   It discerns opportunities to do well instead of obstacles to happiness.  This applies no less to how you are in relation to your fitness program.  With integration there’s flow.  It doesn’t feel like a grind.

In fact, it’s natural to succeed.

To protect yourself from the Instagram crack lurking on every open tab in your web browser, el numero uno is education.  The more informed you are about your health, the less susceptible you’ll be to the litany of crack-peddlers currently stalking popular media like the internet, television, and magazines.

Read books (I’ll recommend a few).

Attend workshops (I’ve got several coming up).

Then consciously apply the filter of education to whatever eye-candy presents itself.

Let it pass through your logical brain.  Does this make sense to me?  Analyze more.  Be more deliberate about how you take in information.  As a general way of being, it makes it easier to stay healthy, both mentally and physically.

I’ve got lots more to share about the brain – and specifically how to use what we know about this powerful tool to live a healthier, happier, and more complete life.

This, and more,  I’ll divulge in a soothing morphine drip over the coming weeks and months.

And if one email was enough to get you hooked on my own brand of narcotic…then by all means, call or text me for your complimentary personal training consultation (416.826.4844).

I am a benevolent dealer… a kind dealer – I sell only integration.

To Your Brain,

Conor Kelly