Firstly, I want to say that I am thrilled to be part of the Elite Custom Fitness team. ECF is comprised of like-minded individuals who share a passion and dedication for training. As part of ECF, I’m happy to help anyone with their training and nutritional needs by sharing my passion and experiences. To understand some context of where I’m coming from it may help to read about my journey and my discovery of strength training.
I grew up here in Pittsburgh. My entire life I have always played sports. The sport that I excelled at the most and took me the farthest was baseball. My first step towards strength training was through my parents. They introduced me to weight machines as a way to stop my arm pain from pitching. I would train on the weight machine in the house three times a week until I was a sophomore in high school. I did every exercise possible on that weight machine. I would go for hours just doing presses and curls. Once I was midway into high school I would go into the weight room or to the track to run, but had no idea what I was doing. I had no direction, no knowledge and was just wondering around aimlessly. I knew that spending time in the weight room was important because it would help me with baseball. However, I didn’t understand the process of how to train.
I ended up being recruited by Marietta College to play baseball. I knew that going into college and playing collegiate athletics I was really going to need to dedicate myself to getting stronger. I “trained” hard going into college but again didn’t have clue what I was doing. I would do a fully body workout with no progression that lacked compound movements. Finally, in college I was given my first true strength-training program. That is when my love affair with the gym truly began. While I was enjoying lifting and spending more time in the gym, the strength- training program Marietta provided was simply awful. We were expected to deadlift, hang clean, bench and back squat three times a week. With little instruction and limited technique training this regimen took its toll on my body and I ended up really hurting myself. I ended up having to go to physical therapy. During my time in physical therapy I started to read about training. I would read magazines like Men’s Health, Muscle and Fitness, Flex and Muscular Development. I read them from cover to cover. I didn’t miss a word about training or nutrition. That led me to incorporate body building splits and principles during my weight room sessions. During my sophomore year of baseball I would lift with the team doing all compound movements and then the next day go back in and do my bodybuilding splits. I would do every exercise in the books all during the same training session. I ended up training for over three hours at a time and I love every second of it.
One day while I was talking to one of the trainers at the gym he mentioned a website called t-nation.com. So of course since I was so hungry for information I started to read some of the articles and follow some of the authors like Mike Robertson and Eric Cressey. But everything changed when they had a video up one day called “Death Squat” and it featured Dave Tate. That video changed my life. Seeing Dave Tate squat and talk about powerlifting transformed my life. I immediately went to Dave’s website, elitefts.com, read all the articles, followed all the logs, watched all the videos and of course bought all the clothes. I probably read every article on t-nation.com and elitefts.com during my last three years of college. During this time I got introduced to all the authors that I continue to follow today such as Dave Tate, Jim Wendler, Mike Robertson, Eric Cressey, Zach Even-Esc, Joe DeFranco, Jeremy Frey, Jim Smith, Clint Darden, Matt Wenning, Louie Simmons, Vincent Dizenzo, Christian Thibaudeau and John Meadows just to name a few.
As I continued to education myself on strength training, movement patterns and programming the only problem became, baseball. I can truly say that in my last couple of years of playing baseball it was baseball that got into the way of training. Powerlifting became my number one priority. I did not train to become a better baseball player I trained to become stronger. When the season came around I was disappointed because I didn’t get the chance to train as much as I wanted. Even though my interest in baseball was waning and my passion for powerlifting was growing, I was amazed at how my baseball game improved as my strength increased. I truly realized the importance of strength training. I was stronger because of proper programming thanks to t-nation and elitefts, which ultimately improved my baseball game. I realized that strength training is essential to sports development.
After graduating from college I continued to train at commercial and private gyms. I have had the opportunity to design a couple of gyms. I have also been coaching and training baseball players for the past several years. In my first years of coaching I trained a small group of kids ranging in ages from 14-16 and had them doing 5/3/1 on a leg press because of course there was no squat rack. Then I got the opportunity to design my own strength and conditioning program called “Brickyard Barbell”. I did my best to really engrained to kids proper movements patterns and the importance of strength training. Training these athletes was certainly a grind because it was combined with another full time job. However I loved every second of it. I loved the learning process, the programming, the design, organization and seeing kids’ confidence grow, as they got stronger.
Brickyard Barbell eventually closed for reasons outside of my control. This turned out to be positive because ever since then I have been training at Elite Custom Fitness. In my training I will continue to make adjustments and go in different blocks. One day I would like to train clients or groups again, and plan on getting certifications or even a master’s degree in the field of exercise science. I love teaching and coaching especially inside the weight room. My story continues to be written. I plan on squatting, benching and deadlifting until the day I die. I will never be finished trying to get bigger and stronger, and of course learning along the way.