Home Posts tagged "Ben Bruno" (Page 2)

Strength Exercise of the Week: 1-arm Dumbbell Floor Press

I'm out of town for a few days, but fortunately, Ben Bruno was kind enough to write up this guest blog.  I enjoy Ben's writing - particularly his ability to constantly innovate - and I'm sure you will, too. Common sense tells us that the one arm dumbbell bench press is an upper body exercise (duh!), but if you’ve ever done them with considerable loads, then you know that the legs aren’t just passive players in the mix. They don't just help to provide a little bit of leg drive; more importantly, they help to create a stable base so you don’t tip clear off the bench. Don’t believe me? Try doing a set with your feet in the air and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Just make sure to put padding on the floor around you first. To mimic this effect in a safer fashion, try one arm dumbbell floor presses with your legs straight.

You’ll find there’s a tendency for your torso to want to rotate towards the arm pressing the weight and for the contralateral leg to want to shoot up off the floor as the weight gets heavier or you get further into a set.  As such, you have to be cognizant of that and squeeze your glutes and brace your core to prevent that from happening since you can’t rely on your feet to provide the base of support. It’s a great exercise because it’s self-limiting and reflexively teaches you how to create total body tension—no cueing needed. It’s also a nice shoulder-friendly alternative for people who might experience pain with full range of motion dumbbell pressing, or for people with lower-body injuries that won’t allow them to push through their feet. Start with your legs wider and move them closer together as you feel more comfortable. Similarly, you can start with the non-working arm resting at the floor at first to give some additional stability, but work towards placing your hand over your abdomen as you improve. You’ll need to start with a substantially lighter weight than you’d use for regular dumbbell presses (I’d say 60% would be a good starting point), but your numbers will climb back up quickly as you get the hang of it. Give it a try! Ben Bruno publishes a free daily blog at www.BenBruno.com. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!
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Is an Exercise Science Degree Really Worth It? – Part 1

Today’s post is going to rub some folks in academia the wrong way.  Therefore, I want to preface the piece that follows by saying:

a) I am a huge advocate of a multi-faceted education, encompassing “traditional” directed study (e.g., classroom education), self-study, internships, and experimentation.

b) I loved my college experience – both undergraduate and graduate.  I benefited tremendously and made a lot of valuable connections.

However, it didn’t come easily; I got out of it what I put into it.  To be candid, there are a lot of my peers who took the exact same courses and got the exact same degrees who didn’t walk away having gotten their money’s worth.

But, then again, does anyone really get their money’s worth?

College isn’t cheap nowadays. Check out the following statistics from CollegeBoard.com (as of 2011; this is sure to increase in the years to come):

  • Public four-year colleges charge, on average, $7,605 per year in tuition and fees for in-state students. The average surcharge for full-time out-of-state students at these institutions is $11,990. 
  • Private nonprofit four-year colleges charge, on average, $27,293 per year in tuition and fees.
  • Public two-year colleges charge, on average, $2,713 per year in tuition and fees.

Of course, this doesn’t take into account the cost of books, travel, food, accommodations, and the $5,000 in on-campus parking tickets you’ll end up paying.  Educations can run upwards of $220,000 - and that's before you consider student loan interest and the opportunity cost of investing that money.

Assume 24-30 credits per year (12-15 per semester), you’re looking at a per credit hour cost of $399.66-$499.58 for public, out-of-state.  It’d be $253.50-$316.88 for public, in-state.  Public two-year colleges would be $90.43-$113.04. Finally, private would be $909.77-$1137.21. Sorry, Mom and Dad; I’ve never in all my years heard a kid say that an hour with one of his professors – even in a one-on-one context – was worth over a grand.

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They also charge you to do internships elsewhere.  In other words, you have to pay to get credits accepted – which means that the cost per hour you actually spend with college faculty is, in fact, even higher.

Many folks go to college to figure out what they want to do.  Others go because it is a social experience that is both fun – and helpful in maturing them as individuals.  That’s fine.

However, it is becoming tougher and tougher to consider it an investment, especially since the “success gap” between college graduates and those who don’t attend college is getting smaller and smaller.  Along these lines, if you haven’t read it already, I’d strongly encourage you to read Michael Ellsberg’s New York Times piece, Will Dropouts Save America?

The exercise science field is one in which this success gap is arguably smaller than in any other.  The barrier to entry to the personal training field is incredibly low; independent of schooling and previous experience, one can become certified in a matter of a few hours via an online test, and many gyms will hire people who aren’t even certified or insured.  In fact, as I wrote a few years ago, Josef Brandenburg, a great trainer based in Washington, D.C., actually got his pet pug certified.  The sad truth is that he could probably do a better job than most of the trainers out there who are pulling $100/hour.

Of course, I’m preaching to the choir here.  Most of the folks reading this blog are educated and highly motivated to be the best that they can be.  You seek out the best reading materials, DVDs, seminars, and colleagues from which you can learn.  Personal training means a lot to people who grew up and went to college wanting to eventually help people get healthy, improve quality of life, optimize sports performance, or simply be more confident.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that our profession as a whole has become a “fall-back” career.  It can be what college kids decide to do over summer vacation to make a few bucks, or what extremely well-paid lawyers or accountants take up when they get sick of long hours at desk jobs.

That doesn’t make them bad people; it just means that the minimal regulation in our industry has rendered a college education in this field a trivial competitive advantage in the workplace.

Additionally, this doesn't mean that college professors aren't qualified or doing their jobs sufficiently. It just means that the curricula that typifies an exercise science degree simply isn't sufficient to provide a competitive advantage over non-college-educated candidates in the workforce. There are exceptions, no doubt,in the form of outstanding professors who go above and beyond the call of duty to help student, but I can't honestly say that I've ever heard of a college kid coming out of any undergraduate exercise science program boasting of a competitive advantage that was uniquely afforded to him/her because of the education just completed. The closest thing might be a program with a strong alumni network that provides easier access to job opportunities.

Of course, the cream will rise to the top in any field – and that’s certainly true of exercise science as well.  The industry leaders are, for the most part, people with college educations in exercise science (or closely related fields) – but the question one must ask is, “would these people have been successful in our field even without the courses they took in their undergraduate studies?”

Don’t you think Mike Robertson’s drive for self study would have sustained him in a successful career in this field even without a degree?

Don’t you think Todd Durkin’s energy, charisma, and passion for helping people would have shone through even if he hadn’t gotten a degree?

Moreover, I can list dozens of bright minds making outstanding headway in this field with “non-exercise-science” college degrees.  John Romaniello (Psychobiology/ English), Joe Dowdell (Sociology/Economics), and Ben Bruno (Sociology) are all successful, forward-thinking trainers who come to mind instantly, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

Some of my best interns have come from undergraduate majors like English Literature, Acting, and Biology.  We’ve had others who didn’t even have college degrees and absolutely dominated in their roles at Cressey Performance.

Guys like Nate Green, Adam Bornstein, Sean Hyson, Lou Schuler, and Adam Campbell don’t have college degrees in exercise science (although Campbell did get a graduate degree in Exercise Physiology following his undergraduate in English).  However, from their prolific writing careers and by surrounding themselves with the best trainers on the planet, they’ve become incredibly qualified trainers themselves – even if they don’t have to train anybody as part of their jobs.

With all these considerations in mind, the way I see it, you’ve got three options to distinguish yourself in the field of exercise science – and I'll share them in part 2 of this article.  If you’re a high school or college student contemplating a career in exercise science, this will be must-read material.

In the meantime, you may be interested in checking out Elite Training Mentorship, our affordable online education program for fitness professionals.

 

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Why Nobody Except Your Mom Reads Your Fitness Blog

I got an email from Dean Somerset a while back asking if I'd be willing to write up a post for his blog about how I built up a popular fitness blog myself.  I thought it over, and while I like Dean and enjoy reading his blog, I really didn't think I was the right person to write such a piece.  There are folks who are much smarter when it comes to behind-the-scenes stuff that goes in to running a blog - from Wordpress updates, to HTML formatting, to SEO optimization.   And, there are certainly folks out there who have monetized their blog far better than I ever will.

That said, I do feel that there was one incredibly valuable point I should make to the aspiring fitness bloggers out there:

If you don't have good content, your blog won't get consistent traffic.  It's really that simple.

I started this blog in early 2006 with really no idea what I was doing on the technology side of things.  I loved my job and was passionate about teaching - and writing gave me an avenue through which to do it.  Sometimes, I wrote about what I knew well, and sometimes, I wrote about topics where I wanted to improve - and researching them and teaching them to others was the best way to get better in these areas.  Before I ever hired someone to make my site look pretty, I'd built up a solid following of people who knew me purely for my content, enthusiasm, and accessibility to readers.

A trend I see with "rookie" fitness bloggers nowadays is to design a spectacular site from the get-go and devote all their resources to SEO optimization, pop-up ads, Google Adwords, and the like.  Unfortunately, these efforts are sabotaged by these bloggers' poor grammar/spelling and, more significantly, a complete lack of valuable information to offer to readers.

In any industry, you look for commonalities among those who succeed at what we do.  For ease of calculating "success," let's just use Alexa ranking.   You can learn more about it (and download a free toolbar) at www.Alexa.com, but for the sake of brevity, just understand that it is a measure of the popularity of a website.  Get more hits, receive more inbound links from popular sites, and have people spending more time on your site, and your Alexa rank will go down (a lower number is better).  Google is #1, Facebook is #2, Yahoo is #3, and so on.  It’s not a perfect measure by any means, but when you are dealing in the top one million sites or so, it’s generally accepted to be pretty good. I’m lucky to be at around 96,000 right now, and have been as high as 89,000 in the past.

If you’re in the top one million or so, you’re likely doing some very good traffic – and certainly enough to monetize your blog.  My buddy Tim Ferriss’ blog, for instance, currently has an Alexa ranking of 5,953, and he’s an absolute ninja on the entrepreneurial side of things, with two New York Times bestsellers and ownership stakes in the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, and several other companies.  He’s a success, in part, because every single one of his posts (and books) provides outstanding content that readers not only enjoy – but pass along to their friends.

Translating this message to the fitness industry, look at a guy like Charlie Weingroff.  He might be one of the few guys out there who understands technology less than I do, and there is absolutely nothing flashy about his site.  To be candid, it’s pretty basic.  You know what, though?  Charlie is an extremely bright (and strong) dude with a ton to teach, a passion for teaching it, and a knack for relating complex information in a user-friendly manner.  I don’t think his blog has even been out for 18 months, yet he’s ranked around 827,000.  And, he’s used his blog to make his expertise known, build a loyal following, and launch a successful product (which is outstanding, by the way).

There are several other fitness bloggers who’ve become “top one million” success stories purely with content.  John Berardi dominates with Precision Nutrition (54,000), which has been built with science, integrity, and an ultra-personal touch to great content all along.  My business partner, Tony Gentilcore (321,000) kicks out great content and entertains people like crazy.  My good friend Mike Robertson (125,000) is an awesome teacher and genuinely great guy.  Ben Bruno (314,000) innovates like crazy to build a following, and Chad Waterbury (509,000) only recently created his own web presence and has used content to quickly ascend the ranks.  Nate Green (202,000) is an excellent writer who has carved out a great niche for himself and built a great following at a young age because of his unique content.  Mike Reinold (412,000) has built a great following in a smaller internet segment (physical therapists) with consistent content featuring up-to-date research, attention to many different clinical perspectives, and a specific focus on upper extremity dysfunction.  These guys all offer something others don't.

You know who hasn’t built a big following?

  • The random fitness dudes who send Facebook friend requests to my wife because they have mutual friends – and these guys want to build their lists.  I’ve yet to meet a single one who is in the top 2 million.
  • The “fitness business guru” who emailed me four times, called my office twice, and snail-mailed me once (each of which was ignored) to try to get me to promote his product, which he guaranteed would make personal trainers “rich.”  His website ranked at higher than 6.6 million – which essentially means that he has zero traffic other than himself (and he’s probably just checking in to see if he’s gotten his first hit yet).  Instead of focusing on content (and moving out of his parents’ basement), he’s putting the cart in front of the horse and trying to sell a product on a topic (success) that he doesn’t even understand.
  • The random dude who wants to exchange links with me or be added to my blogroll so that he can improve his rankings without doing a thing, much less providing some value to me (or society in general).

The only thing that's worse than sucking at what you do is sucking at what you do and spending time and money to draw attention to it.

I started out thinking that this would be a short, to-the-point, blog, but as I now realize, that one little point was actually a very big one.  Pretty websites and behind-the-scenes tinkering are undoubtedly important components of taking an online presence to the next level, but the truth is that they don’t matter a bit unless the content that accompanies them is useful and entertaining.

If it’s not, then you’ll have a hard time even getting Mom’s attention.

Looking for more information on how to get your name out there in the writing world?  Check out some great information from three guys - Lou Schuler, Sean Hyson, and John Romaniello - who have been there, done that. They collaborated to create a great product, How to Get Published, that focuses heavily on writing success in the fitness industry.

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