Strength Archives - Durbrow Performance Training
Category Archives for "Strength"

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.

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.

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Durbrow Performance Spotlight Sunday: Kristine Sand

We’re back with another edition of our Training Spotlight Sunday. I’m really excited about this one because this lady has been an inspiration to all of us at Durbrow Performance. She came in a little nervous, unsure about the results and totally bored out of her mind with her current workouts. She took a big leap and since then has continued to take leaps and bounds every single workout. Check out Kristine’s story and show her some love by giving this post a “Share” on Facebook.


Kristine’s Story:

I was an active kid growing up, but never had a real exercise regimen. As an adult I no longer played team sports and it became harder to incorporate exercise into my daily life. For most of my 20s my go-to workout was the elliptical, where I’d watch TV and read a magazine, all in an effort to just get through 30 minutes even though I was bored out of my mind.

Before I joined Durbrow Performance Training in January 2012, I had gained some weight over the summer and couldn’t get motivated to lose it or change my eating habits.  I was that annoying person eating crap with a glass of wine and complaining about how my pants didn’t fit.  Lucky for me, Sarah Nichols was the one listening to me complain and suggested I join DPT for an upcoming contest.  I had witnessed her amazing results so it was an easy yes. What did I have to lose?

Lots of fat is the answer. I am the poster child for why you need to throw out your scale.  My scale weight has pretty much remained constant; I’ve lost 17 pounds of fat which was replaced with muscle. I’ve lost several inches and learned that body shape and the scale number are very different.

It’s hard to find the words to describe how integral DPT has become to my life, and how much love I have for the trainers.  I spend most of my time with Emily, but Emily, Callie and Caitlin all invest in your life, not just your time at the gym—and I’ve had a total lifestyle change as a result. The nutrition tips, blogs and group forum keep me engaged, even in my off days. Knowing there are other people so focused on being the best versions of themselves is encouraging. It makes it easier to stay focused, to not order a drink even though all your friends are, etc. Being part of DPT has given me the confidence to try new workouts and keep activity as part of my daily life.

The entire DPT family gets me out of bed for the early morning workouts; my favorite exercise is the tire strikes. It’s exhilarating to feel so powerful! My least favorite exercise is pushups, but because I know I can get better at them I’ve made it my end-of-year goal to focus on quality, full-range pushups.

In January 2012, I said “yes” to a four-week contest; at the end of the contest I said “yes” to another six months but was still nervous if I could or would stick with it. I always had a tendency to get bored then get lazy, but in a few months I’ll have been a client for TWO YEARS. The time has flown by but I’ve loved every sweaty minute of it.



Here’s Kristine before, in 2011…..






Here’s Kristine after, in October of 2013….


I Hated the Gym Last Week

How do you create a lifestyle of fitness and health?

A lot of people think that it’s so easy because I’m a trainer, I have access to all the information, I know how to train properly and effectively and hell, I WORK and OWN a gym so of course I’m going to get there.

Obviously I will be in shape.

Obviously I love eating healthy and since I know what to do, it’s pretty freakin’ easy.


The other day I was finishing up a training session with the 7am group at the gym. Awesome session, we had a great time and lots of laughs as the 7am T/Th crew always does. As we were winding down I was thinking about the rest of my day and as I thought about my upcoming personal workout I was like “shit, I really do not want to do this today.”

You know that I love training, it’s my therapy and it keeps me sane and focused but sometimes I just don’t feel like freakin’ doing it. It’s hard as hell. My body is often beat up, my mind is on other things and of course I have a million things to do that are business related. I’m tired, I’m sore and I just don’t feel like it.

Usually once a week I have a day like that.

The difference comes right now. Do I want to work out?


Do I do it any way?


Here’s a little check list that I give myself when I have that “I hate everything in this gym” day.

Step #1- I get my ass on the foam roller

As soon as I start feeling those sore muscles start to relax and I get some mobility in my ever tight upper back, I feel just a tiny bit better.

Not a lot better, I mean I still hate “almost” everything in this gym.

Step #2- I think to myself, just get through the warm up.

I start doing some mobility work, lunges, high knees and shuffles.

My heart rate gets up and blood starts moving to my pissed off brain.

I only hate 1/2 of the gym right now. We’re getting there.

Step #3- I just get through the first set

The first set is usually pretty stiff, legs are still a little lethargic but that’s okay, I just hit 195 on the dead lift for an easy 4 reps. I can do this.

I don’t hate that barbell as much right now.

Step #4- I can’t go back now. I mean, I’ve got my shoes on, I’ve got chalk on my hands and my body is warmed up. Okay, let’s go.

By this point the workout is typically in full swing and I feel pretty damn good. I won’t lie to you and say that I ALWAYS have a great training session at this point, but in the case of this particular day I described above, it was damn good. 6 sets of heavy dead lifts followed by a circuit of:

  • Kettlebell Farmers Carry
  • Battling Ropes
  • Prowler Drags
  • Boxing
  • Sledgehammer Strikes

What’s the moral of this story, besides getting a glimpse into the inner workings of my crazy brain on workout day?

We don’t always want to do this. Our bodies are going to be tired, sore and pissed off. The difference becomes when you create the fitness lifestyle. If you are in the fitness lifestyle, you slowly and gradually work your body and your mind up for the workout.

If you are on a fitness kick or a diet, you probably will skip that day.

People think just because I live and work at the gym that I love it every single day. I’m human too. I wish I had a trainer to program the workouts and allow me to show up, kick ass and then go home.

I wish I had the accountability to not only my trainer, but to 8 other people that will be asking where I am if I don’t show up to the workout.

Sometimes all you need is the motivation and accountability of others to give you that little push on the days you don’t want to do it. Sometimes though, you have to make the choice that you WILL live that fitness lifestyle.

Just get on the roller. Then just warm up. Then just finish the first set. By that time, I’m pretty certain that you’re not going to just walk out of the gym after one set.

On the days you just aren’t feeling it, think about that sequence. Think about the reasons that you train hard. That is what will get you past that feeling of being pissed off at your boss, feeling shitty about your body and just being damn tired.

We’re all human, we all struggle, but coming out on the positive side of that small daily struggle that you’re having with your conscience about working out is what will get you results. All those days that you say “I don’t want to” and you do it anyway, that’s results.

At Durbrow Performance Training we’ve got a 21 day trial membership. Click here to register and start living the fitness lifestyle.

Somerville Small Group Personal Training: Kettlebell Complex

Here’s a quick video of a great Kettlebell Complex in our group training session.

The progression is:

  • Kettlebell Renegade Row
  • Kettlebell Dead Lift
  • Kettlebell Clean & Press

Clients are going through this sequence for 6 total repetitions (1 rep of each equals one total rep)



For a 21 day Metabolism Kick-Start click here

Somerville Strength Training: Sled and Lunges

Here’s a clip of our Sunday Women’s Only Strength Class.

The ladies are finishing up a circuit of Sled Drags with the Prowler and Sandbag Walking Lunges.


For a 21 Day Metabolism Kick-Start, Click HERE

Somerville Group Training: 5 Minute Strength and Conditioning Circuits

Here’s a quick video of our gym in Somerville. This is a small group personal training session. In this particular training session each station has two exercises and clients will repeat the prescribed reps at each exercise within the station for 5 minutes.

Then there is a 2 minute rest and rotation to the next station. There are four stations for a total of eight exercises.

Station #1- Kettlebell Swings x10 and DB Push Press x10

Station #2- TRX Rows x10 and Valslide Tricep Extensions x8

Station #3- Physio Ball Ab Roll Out x10 and Side Planks x10/side

Station #4- Jump Squats and Heavy Jump Rope x15


Somerville Training Spotlight Sunday: Andrew Tang

Welcome back to another edition of our Sunday Spotlight at Durbrow Performance Training. I love reading and sharing these because they are just amazing, inspiring stories from our best assets, our clients.

This training family is like no other that you’ll find in a typical gym or even if you have a personal trainer. These guys and gals work their asses off in the gym and have a great time doing it.

Today’s story comes from Andrew Tang. Andrew and his wife Christine started training with us in March of 2012. They both came in wanting to gain some muscle and get healthier. I always joke with them that they are the only two that actually want to gain weight. But we still love them 🙂

Here’s Andrew’s inspiring comeback story after an ACL injury during a basketball game….

March 20th 2013 is when I completely tore my ACL and partially tore the MCL and LCL too. I don’t remember it being painful, just remember thinking, “Sh*t!! Christine’s gonna kill me, maybe it’s not that serious, hopefully i can play ball again….. “.
After 4 incompetent hrs in the ER, I got an xray, a pat on the head and was sent home. I started pre-op rehab two weeks later. 
Almost exactly a year before is when Christine and I met Callie. We didn’t know exactly what to expect but I knew I liked the concept and philosophy of DPT, so we set our goals and stayed accountable. We had joined other gyms before but there were too many easy excuses not to workout; adopting cats, it’s snowing, and let’s cook something with lots of butter and sprinkle some bacon & cheese, to top it off. 
“Don’t play ball to get in shape, get in shape to play ball”  – Bobbito Garcia
This quote really stuck to me after discovering it. Before that point I was just getting by because of my genetic disposition, but skinny doesn’t mean fit and what fit i had would decline after every decadent winter of feasting.
So it was time.
Even after the first grueling week at DPT I saw a difference at my Saturday pick-up games and I was hooked. Fast forward a year, I was hitting personal best on body fat %’s, gaining mass and loving the box jumps!
This summer was gonna be legendary. Then it happened.
May 9th, the largest needle i’ve ever seen was about to be jammed into my hip for a femoral block. Now I can’t feel my left leg, I’m being wheeled into the operating room and I pass out. 2hrs later….  BRAND NEW ACL!!!!!!
I’m awake, coherent, still can’t feel my left leg but I’m feeling good, made it up two flights of stairs and just chilled on the couch looking forward to this little vacation.
2 days after the operation I started gaining my range of motion back, instantly. The surgeon gave me a goal of a week to reach 90 degrees, I got it back in a day!
I really DO believe that being in such great shape before the injury accelerated my rehab and also my rehab was a breeze compared to one of Emily’s classes: 10 more seconds, 10 more seconds…  
I started coming back to DPT as soon as I was cleared, you probably saw me on the bike pedaling with my 5lbs dumbbells jazzercising away.
I was able to work from home so I was constantly rehabbing and I was going to physical therapy twice a week along with the gym. I knew what my body was able to handle and how hard I could push myself, this was my new personal pyramid.
5 months after having surgery I had my last appointment with my surgeon, he had cleared me to start playing basketball!!!
VICTORY!  (but only just pick-up, for now…) My left leg hasn’t fully caught up with my right yet but I’ve already set my next goal.
Be sure to Like and Share this post on Facebook to show Andrew some love!
If you’re ready to be our next Spotlight and success story, click here to get started with your 21 day trial membership. 

Somerville Training Gym: 47″ Personal Best Box Jump

One of our small group personal training clients hits a personal best in the box jump of 47 inches.

Check out the video here….




If you’re interested in finding out how you can get lean, fit and energized then just click here for a free 60 minute training consultation with Callie 

Avoid the “Who am I to do this” Trap

I was recently listening to a podcast with an author, John Acoff, talking about his new book called Start.

He was talking about the reasons that people are afraid. Obviously fear of failure is a big one but he believes that fear of success is much higher.

He went on to talk about why this is true and it’s because so many people encounter the “Who are you to do that” mentality.

This is not something that others put on us typically, it’s something we do to ourselves.

Who am I to start that business?

Who am I to quit this job that I hate? I should be grateful for what I have.

Who am I to take time away from my family to get myself healthy?

Who am I to lose all this weight and actually feel happy about my body?

We’ve all done it and a lot of the time we don’t even realize we’re doing it.

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