Somerville Personal Training Archives - Durbrow Performance Training
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3 Exercises You Must Have In Your Training Program

I hear questions like this a lot:

What’s the best exercise for X (fill in the blank here- fat loss, conditioning, muscle growth)?

If you could pick one exercise to do forever what would it be?

What’s the best exercise for my _______ (again, fill in the blank- legs, abs, arms, etc)?

The reality is that there are no “best” exercises because it all comes down to your goals. Are you trying to lean out and lose fat? Are you trying to improve your performance? Are you trying to just stay generally fit and feel good?

All of those are valid goals, and most of the people that we work with at Durbrow Performance Training have a nice combination of all of them. That’s what makes training our crew so much fun.

Even if you’re not an “athlete” I truly believe that everyone should train in an athletic manner. This means that there should be some scalable level of:

  • Jumps
  • Throws
  • Sprints
  • Pulling
  • Pushing
  • Lifting heavy things off the floor


The important thing to note is that all of the things I listed above are SCALED. That means a sprint for one person is not a sprint for another, maybe it’s using the agility ladder or going at a slower pace.

Training in an athletic style is more fun, it burns a lot of calories, it uses all the major muscle groups and it can be done typically pretty quickly and efficiently when it comes to time.

There are hundreds of great exercises and I believe that most have their place in some type of program. Variation is important and within every exercise you can change things like repetitions, tempo, weight and balance. These factors can often make it a totally different exercise.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I want to dive into my 3 favorite exercises and why they should always be in your program. This is based on the years of training I’ve done on myself and thousands of clients.

You’re probably thinking I’ll say something like Pull Ups, Dead Lifts and Squats. I mean, you get the most bang for your buck, right?


Yes and no.

Those are all crazy good exercises and I love to program them. However, this post is about the exercises that you should ALWAYS be doing. The three exercises that I’m about to show you are also ones that you can do with a lot of frequency, which is important for consistent improvement.

Lastly, they are very easy to teach, coach, set up and execute. There is a very low risk on each one, they are safe on the joints and they all address areas that 99.9% of people need improvement in.

So without further ado, here are the three MUST-DO exercises:

  1. The Band Pull Apart- this exercise is a staple in my personal program, I do 100 repetitions during each of my strength workouts per week (4 days). I split them up into sets of 20 and perform them before, during and after the session. We also program these into our warm up at Durbrow Performance Training and clients see these as fillers during their training sessions as well.

Why do I love these so much? They are great for improving shoulder mobility, shoulder health, posture and overall upper and mid-back strength. With the type of work that most people do, sitting at a computer or on their phone, the postural corrections are essential and nothing hits it quite like the BPA.

Larger movements like TRX Rows, 1-Arm Rows and Chin Ups are excellent but the BPA is so simple, can be done in higher volumes (and even every day) and targets the smaller muscles in the mid-back that often get neglected because they can’t fire correctly during a larger movement.



How to use the Band Pull Aparts: 3-5 sets of 15-20 per day, at least 3 days per week


2. Bulgarian Split Squats– This is my go-to #1 movement for the lower body. It’s a great exercise to develop strength in the legs and I’m a huge fan of unilateral movements (single sided) because they are much safer and decrease the spinal compression that you might see on a squat or even a dead lift.

The other thing I love about this exercise is the added core and balance development.

The third major thing that makes this a winner is the many ways that you can load this. You can use body weight, chains, dumbbells at your sides, a kettlebell racked in the front, or even bands.

From a beginner who could load this just with their own body weight to an advanced trainee to load this with chains and kettlebells, the movement is just stellar.

Plus if you want to develop strong, lean and totally bad ass legs, this is a MUST for your programming.

How to use the Bulgarian Split Squats: 2-4 sets of 10-20 reps per leg, 1-2 times per week


3. Sled Work- pushing, pulling or dragging a sled is my #3 movement because it’s so safe on the joints and produces virtually zero soreness the next day because there is no eccentric component. That means that you’re not having to “slow down” the weight like if you were lowering yourself down into a squat. That’s the most taxing part of an exercise and there’s none of that when working on the sled.

Other benefits of the sled are increased cardiovascular work, the ability to perform higher volume to build up your stamina, multiple ways to load it (you can go heavy and for short distances, light and short distances for sprints, or moderate weight and longer distances) and you can pull, push or drag in all different directions.

Sleds are great as a stand alone training tool, use them on a conditioning day and just perform multiple sets or you can use them during a circuit. Another great way is at the end of a training session, performing 3-4 sets for 50 to 100 feet or our personal favorite, 5 minutes of team pushing (3-4 people) and see how many sets you can complete in the time.

How to use the Sled: 3-4 sets of 50 to 100 feet, mix up the weights from day to day, 1-3 times per week

Looking great and losing fat is awesome of course, but you want to make sure you’re focusing on your long term health and overall longevity of your body. Create the total package with your body- strong, healthy, mobile, energetic and looking damn good.

All of the exercises I spoke about are ones that require a full range of motion, they don’t beat up your body but they do get results. These are the types of movements we always incorporate into our training at DPT. If you’re struggling to get results and your body just doesn’t feel the way you want it to, check out our risk-free 21 Day Academy Jump Start program:

If you’re in Somerville, click here.

If you’re in Manchester, click here.

What Do Training in Groups, Canadian Geese and Motivation Have in Common?

I heard an interesting story a few weeks ago, about what groups, Canadian Geese and motivation have in common.

This is ironic that I actually liked this story because as some of you know, I hate birds. Yep, I have a strange fear of them (not the little tiny ones but anything bigger than a chicken). They just freak me out, particularly Canadian Geese.

Besides that, this story is really interesting and you’ll see why having group motivation in either training, nutrition or any aspect of your life will help you get to that goal even faster than you imagined.

Check out the video and the story right here:


I Screwed This Up

I’m not writing this email in my usual fashion. Mondays are typically my work-from-home days and I’m really focused, ready to get a ton of work done for the week.
Today instead I’m writing you this email from the Charlotte NC airport. I was at a seminar this weekend and was scheduled to fly back last night. There were some crazy winds in NC and the delay would have caused me to miss my connection. So instead I booked a room and just rolled with the punches.
I’m going to write an email next week on why I think things like this reveal the character of a person, but that’s for another story entirely…
Today I wanted to tell you how I screwed up.
I’m all for eating healthy, obviously.
Do we all need a little guidance though? For sure. I think every coach should have a coach.
That’s why I’m personally going through our 90 day nutrition coaching program at the gym. (It’s completely sold out until August just from one seminar, we’ll be taking more applications this summer).
Does that mean that every day is perfect?
Hell no.
The other day I was stressed. I’m very much an internal person when it comes to stress. I literally feel it in my gut and I used to get severe stomach pains because I let stress build up.
I’m much better with that now.
But just like pretty much everyone that I know, I sometimes get the “I want to eat my feelings” day.
Last Wednesday I was stressed out and honestly I can’t even remember why.
I ate really well, totally on point with my macros and hit all of my calories.
Then the shoe dropped.
I got a huge wave of stress that evening and as I was in the cabinet getting my protein powder out for my shake the next day, I noticed a bag of chocolate chips.
Pretty innocent right?
I mean, who really likes chocolate chips?
Okay, fine, I do.
I’m not sure why they were even in there but they sure were calling for me.
I didn’t really think about it, I just grabbed them and before I knew it I had about 3 handfuls gone.
So was my “perfect” eating day.
Is the point of this email to tell you that I was so pissed that I ruined my perfect eating day and I let the stress get to me and I didn’t just walk away or do some “coping” mechanism that I should know better?
I want you to know that I’m human. I don’t talk about myself very much, that actually makes me very uncomfortable.
But I want you to know that I did NOT agonize over it.
I figured out WHY I did it.
I was stressed out and I should have taken a few minutes to work through that, instead of be impulsive with food and think that would make it better.
Is 3 handfuls of chocolate chips the worst thing ever?
But does it align with my goals?
The other moral of the story is that when you mess up, just get back on course the next day.
This isn’t license to just eat whatever because you don’t have to feel guilty the next day.
The goal is to understand you are human, you will have slip ups but beating yourself up is even worse sometimes.
Feeling guilty about food only leads to more discomfort around the whole subject.
Figure out why it happened.
Drink lots of fluids the next day and use the good, healthy food to nourish your body and fuel your training sessions.
If it’s happening over and over, then you need to address the real issue at hand.
I’ll admit, I was kinda pissed that I did it at first, but I got over it and realized that being hard on myself is NOT going to solve anything.
Use this gauge with yourself. If you slip up once, figure out why and move on.
Don’t feel guilty or agonize.
If you slip up time after time, you’ll want to look a little deeper at why the food is the trigger or the soothing thing.
Have an awesome week and I’ll be back with some videos and recaps of my trip later this week.

Don’t Try

Happy Monday to you. I hope your weekend was excellent.
We went to a wedding for one of my favorite people, she has been a friend and a client for several years and it was really an amazing day.
I love March Madness so Sunday after a training session I was really excited to put the games on and just enjoy the spirit and competition of college basketball. Plus my team is still alive, Virginia Cavaliers!
Onto the topic at hand for today. You may have noticed that I’ve been writing more about the psychological and mental side of training and changing your life.
Over the years I’ve noticed the difference between people who REALLY change and people who get some results is what they say out loud and in their own heads.
People are resistant to change. It’s just human nature.
The reasons vary from person to person but usually it’s because getting out of the comfort zone or breaking habits is a scary thing.
When you do something for the first time, of course it’s not going to be perfect.
Think about the first time you tried to do a push up. You may have to think way, way back…
But it was probably shaky, your elbows flopped out like chicken wings and your butt was sticking up in the air.
You did them though. They weren’t perfect or pretty, but you did them.
This is what I want you to think about when you come across a new task, a new exercise or a new way to think about eating or planning your meals.
Obviously I don’t want you to say “I can’t do that” 
That’s a given 🙂
What most people will say is “I will try.”
Nope. Don’t try.
What is trying anyway? It’s a lame, middle of the road, “maybe I’ll fail so I don’t want to go all in” luke-warm, B.S. cop out.
I want you to say “I’ll do that.”
Doesn’t mean you’ll do it great. You’ll probably suck for a few reps of the exercise or a few weeks of the new eating plan.
You’re still doing it.
I’m not asking you to do it perfectly. Just put in the effort, then put in the effort again and again.
Do it.
Have a great week,


Durbrow Performance Training February Client of the Month: Barbara Langone

Congrats to our February Client of the Month, Barbara Langone!

Barbara has been training with the Durbrow Performance family since May of 2013. She came in after winning a month of training at a fundraiser from some of her fellow Constant Contact co-workers. Right off the bat she fit in perfectly, a great mix of being fun and laid back but when it comes to the training sessions, she goes into beast mode.

Every session Barbara is focused and she’s so easy to coach. She is patient with herself but always willing to push and use a bigger kettlebell or just a little bit more weight on the Prowler. She has improved her upper body strength tremendously and in her first 6 weeks alone she lost 8 pounds of body fat and 10 inches.

In the next 10 weeks she lost another 7 pounds of body fat and 4 more inches.

She has overall been one of our most consistent and hard working clients but in the last month this effort really shined through. Tom, Emily and I all agreed that she is one of the easiest clients to coach and we love the effort and attitude.

Congrats again Barbara, you deserve it!

Barbara COM

Are You Doing This (hint: you should stop)

I caught myself doing this.
Everyone does it. It’s hard to get out of your comfort zone, so we all kind of do “this” once and a while.
What the hell am I talking about today?
I’m talking about when you have a plan and you “kind of” follow the directions.
Let me give you an example. Sometimes I design my own workouts but sometimes I have someone else do it for me. I’ll either hire a coach or seek out a pre-written program that is designed for my goals.
The program is all written out, perfectly simple and ready to follow and then I say to myself I’ll just switch out this exercise. 
I’ll just do lunges instead of step ups. 
I hate step ups.
Why am I changing the program, not following the simple rules?
It’s putting me out of my comfort zone. I have to do an exercise that’s hard and that I don’t like.
No big deal, I’ll just switch it.
Are lunges just as hard? Yes, probably, but that’s not the point.
You will start to see this little trend creep in to other aspects. Are you supposed to try and hit 60 grams of fat per day but you “just” have that one more scoop of almond butter which puts you over your target?
It won’t make a big difference.
Maybe not that day, but the next day and the next day, it sure as hell will.
Following the directions seems like a simple concept but when those directions put you out of your comfort zone, it becomes human nature to just make an exception here and there.
Guess what happens then?
Your results become slower and slower.
Next time you think about making what may seem like a little exception or change, think for a minute about why you’re actually doing it.
If you have a perfectly good program right in front of you, don’t make changes. It may be uncomfortable at first but you have to trust the process.
Don’t fall back into your old ways and what’s comfortable.
Getting results is much more than just changing your body. You have to break down the barriers and the small, day-to-day things that are adding up to form your habits and that are slowing your progress.
Take this into action this week and be more conscious of your thoughts and choices.


You Can’t Do That

We have a rule at the gym, saying “I can’t” will earn you 5 burpees.Last week in my email I talked about how you need to reprogram your thinking to try new things and break out of the old ways that may not actually be benefiting you.Why do we have this rule?

When doing something new or uncomfortable, the natural human reaction (or defense mechanism to avoid looking silly or feeling pain or discomfort) is to say “I can’t.”

Sometimes you say it before you even think about what it is you’re trying to do.

I’m not here to tell you that you CAN do everything and you should never give up and give you a load of cheerleading crap.

I just want you to think about your initial reaction to something difficult. Do you automatically throw up the “I can’t” flag without even thinking?

Or do you take a second and let it soak in and then say, I’ll try?

You may not do it perfect. Hell, it may REALLY suck but it’s breaking out of you comfort zone and just giving it a try.

That’s what I want you to focus on this week. When something tough or uncomfortable comes around, whether it’s an exercise at the gym, a suggestion to your eating plan or a task at work, just take a second before you go into defense mode.

Don’t automatically turn to “I can’t.”

Instead think about saying, I’ll give it my best try and I won’t worry about the outcome. Good or bad, I stepped out of my comfort zone and DID IT.


The Fitness Lesson that No One Talks About

Every week, I write articles and blog posts that teach people how to get healthy and fit and I teach our clients in the gym to train hard and smart and to understand why lifting weights, conditioning and eating healthy are important and vital.

Yes, those lessons that I teach are powerful, and I know that I’m helping a lot of people. However, today, I want to share with you one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned and that most people don’t even talk about: Be kind to yourself.

I have to admit, when I used to see this phrase, I thought it was a weak statement. I’m going to bust my butt in the gym, eat clean and the harder I am on myself, the better results I’ll get.

I’m not weak, and I don’t need a pep talk or a baby sitter. As a former athlete and a leader and coach for many people, I thought that I had to be like superwoman. I wasn’t beating myself up for not getting results or for maybe having an ice cream, but I certainly WAS NOT being very kind to myself.

So, what does this whole “being kind to yourself” mean?

I want you to look at it like this: You can’t just work for the end result.

Rather, you have to enjoy the journey—the day-to-day work that you put in to accomplish a goal.

Continue reading

Curb Your Sugar Cravings with Cinna-Coconut Apples

Sugar cravings. Yep, we have all had them from time to time. Some of us more than others…

I am a total sugar junkie. Bread, pasta, even cheese, I’m all set with that and have no problem cutting it out. But my beloved ice cream, peanut butter cups, those super sweet Jelly Belly flavored jelly beans, that’s my shit right there.

Yeah you know what I’m talking about, that sweet tooth that comes creepin’ up after you eat and you just want a little “something sweet.”

I’ve even had days when I wake up in the morning and my body is craving chocolate. There are several reasons for these creepers…

  • Deficiencies in certain minerals
  • Lack of sleep
  • Stress
  • Exhaustion
  • Lack of activity (feeling sluggish)
  • Dehydration

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