Category Archives: Health Training program template

Craig Marker over at StrongFirst recently wrote a great article about training for their certifications, SFG1 and SFG2.  This group is very well researched and has had lots of success training individuals.  I listen to them and experiment.  As you may know, I enjoy Paval Tsatsouline’s work and StrongFirst has been his most recent project.  Anyway, the article describes cardio training methods for passing the snatch test for their certifications (100 snatches in 5 minutes with a certain bell) and a kettlebell pressing program which will allow you to press bigger bells.  It is based off of Russian training protocols that allowed strength to be gained and maintained for a long, long time.

This article is written with an eye towards kettlebell training but it can be used for any modality.  I have recently pursued strength training through the barbell after achieving 1/2 bodyweight kettlebell press on each side.  In January I am moving to a mixed training modality of kettlebells, barbell, running, and cycling.  I love simplicity and minimalism.  I prefer to minimize equipment use.Ie…I like the idea of a weight, you, the gound and effort. If you want to press something overhead, get it from the ground and put it overhead. Therefore I am going to be training the kb getup, overhead press with the kettlebell, the floor press with a barbell, the zercher squat (barbell), and of course the barbell deadlift.

Now to the point.  I have been using training cycles for beginners as described by Marty Gallagher, Pavel Tsatsouline, and Mark Rippetoe.  After running into this Craig Marker program I have decided to use it over the next year to improve my lifts further while not burning myself out.  In order to simplify the training I decided to create an excel spreadsheet so that I could simply add in my current max and the program would quickly calculate the percentages throughout the program.

Excel – Strongfirst Strength Template 45lb bar- Wave.xlsx

Excel – Strongfirst cardio.xlsx

Note that the cardio is suggested upwards of 30 minutes in the article, I kept it at six weeks so that the two programs would be of similar length.

I am thinking about adding two weeks prior to this cycle. They would be for speed work. I would increase from 40 percent to 60 percent over the two weeks period. This would also allow you to run this program 6 times a year with 4 weeks off for recovery, vacation or life in general. 

What are your thoughts on this?

These templates are based upon a 45 pound standard bar.  My wife and I are going to be training together.  Due to this I will be creating spreadsheets for barbells of other weights.  

I hope you all find StrongFirst, check them out, and enjoy these templates.

Muscle Confusion

The theory that an individual requires large amounts of different exercises in order to continue to gain strength and skill is a fallacy.  In truth the body only requires a few core exercises along with a skillyfully planned manipulation of three variables.  weight, density, volume.

Weight is varied through different means, but typically through a cycling of the weights from light to heavy and back again.  Each time reaching a peak or personal best, then lowering the weight and working your way back up again past the  initial PR.  

Density is varied through how quickly you work through a workout.  Density is varied through the amount of time you rest between workouts.

Volume is how many times you list a particular weight.  

Muscle confusion does not require a constant changing of exercises.  All this does is ensure that you become semi-good at lots of things.  If your goal is greater strength you should focus on a few exercises and vary them as above.  


I love kettlebells.  It is difficult to vary the weight of a kettlebell when there are such large jumps between.  Therefore I vary density and volume.  On a typical three day a week workout plan you may have a heavy, light and medium day.  All days use the same weight kettlebell, however the volume of the exercise changes.  Therefore if I am doing kettlebell clean and presses, my heavy day will be 75 presses/side total, my light day will be 30, and my medium day will be 50.  These are one through russian ladders as pavel tsatsouline discusses in his book Enter The Kettlebell.  Once i work up to the overall numbers I then attempt to condense those movements into a shorter period of time.  Therefore, constantly changing density and volume.

If I am doing a free weight exercise you may follow the above principles, however you also have the ability to change the weight regularly.  This is done through cycling your workout.  Starting out light and working to a PR, then dropping the weight and working back up to a new PR.  Pavel also discusses this in Power to the People.  

So, in truth, you don’t need a thousand exercises fixing each tiny little thing that is wrong with your body.  You need a few great exercises that work your entire body.  You also don’t need to worry about “muscle confusion” as the trainers attempt to sell you their product.

Just pick a few good exercises and work hard on them.  Progress will show up.

My exercises that I have chosen are the deadlift, kettlebell clean and press, swings, snatches and Turkish Getups.  

Check out the links at the top of this page for more information on these exercises and cycling of your workout.  There is also a lot of info about food and wellness.

32kg (70lb) kettlebell

Welcome to the family.
Time to get back to work.


Cuban Special Period Part 1 of 4

The Cuban Special Period in Peacetime began in 1991 and lasted approximately ten years.  The special period consisted of a wartime economy-style austerity program during peacetime.  (Funes, Garcia, Bourque, Perez, & Rosset, 2002)  This period consisted of dramatic changes in the food production of Cuba.  The dissolution of the former USSR coupled with the continued economic blockade of Cuba by the United States forced dramatic changes in the conventional farming techniques common to industrialized nations.  These changes forced Cuba to radically change food production techniques due to the drastic reduction of imports. These import reductions included: 53% in oil, 50% in wheat and other grains, <50% in other foodstuff, resulting in an overall 70% decrease in fertilizer, pesticide availability as well as a 50% decrease in fuel.  (Funes, Garcia, Bourque, Perez, & Rosset, 2002)  Large-scale state farms were prohibitive in this environment.  This dramatic decrease in imports coupled with energy intensive agricultural practices led to a 30% reduction in caloric and protein intake compared to the 1980’s.  (Funes, Garcia, Bourque, Perez, & Rosset, 2002)  Rolling blackouts were routine as well.  (Morgan, 2007)  Cubans were more prepared than one would expect.  Cubans are fortunate in that while the Cuban nation has only 2% of Central America’s population they have 11% of the scientist.  The Cuban scientists were in the process of looking at alternative agricultural practices prior to the special period.  (Morgan, 2007)  

The little known Cuban special period is an important, albeit forced, experiment in transition.  Cuba is the only nation to have successfully navigated the waters of peak oil.  Peak oil, in brief, is the idea that as developing nations harness the benefits of cheap oil, the supply will begin to be unable to maintain previous outputs.  Peak oil places the world in a position of oil scarcity.  The forced transformation of Cuba’s food system and the subsequent acceptance of agroecology may be viewed as proof that the green revolution of the 1960’s, while important, is not the capstone of agriculture.  In fact, Cuba has witnessed gains in organic production over and beyond what the green revolution witnessed.  Agroecological principles also combat the problems of the “Green Revolution” agricultural model.  These problems include risks to the environment, human health, environment, and decreased security for the poorest farmers.  (Funes, Garcia, Bourque, Perez, & Rosset, 2002)  The combination of farmers who held onto past knowledge and scientists researching sustainable technologies along with an aggressive educational program of nearly the entire nation have dramatically changed the agricultural environment of Cuba.  

Some of the agroecological principles are:  (Funes, Garcia, Bourque, Perez, & Rosset, 2002)

-Optimization of local resources and promotion of within-farm synergisms through plant

-animal combinations

-Reliance on the ecological services of biodiversity in order to minimize the use of external inputs, whether organic or conventional

– Matching of cropping systems with existing soil and climatic potentials

-Conservation and use of crop and non-crop biodiversity within and around farms to  maximize utilization of biological and genetic resources

– Reliance on the knowledge and wisdom of locals and farmers as a key input

– Promotion of participatory methods in research and in the extension and implementation process

Furthermore, the principles of this transition may be beneficial to the majority of individuals.  Beyond wellness for the individual and the earth, agroecological principles “run counter to the vicious globalization promoted by neo-liberalism, and are more in favor of a socially just and solidarious, more human globalization, without dependency on transnational corporations and in favor of self-sufficiency.  Agroecology does not harm the environment, reduces the role of middlemen and intermediaries, develops the consciousness of farmers, and applies knowledge rather than crude technological recipes.  It is an ally of nature and considers the farmer as a cultural and not just production unit” according to Fernando Funes.  (Funes, Garcia, Bourque, Perez, & Rosset, 2002)


Funes, F., Garcia, L., Bourque, M., Perez, N., & Rosset, P. (2002). Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba. Havana, Cuba: Food First Books.

Morgan, F. (Director). (2007). The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil [Motion Picture].

Murray N.D., M., Pizzorno N.D., J., & Pizzorno M.A., L.M.T., L. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: Atria Books.

Nestle, M. (2006). What to Eat. New York: North Point Press.

Torres, R. M., Nelson, V., Momsen, J. H., & Niemeier, D. A. (2010). Experiment or Transition? Revisiting Food Distribution in Cuban Agromercados from the “Special Period”. Journal of Latin American Geography , 67-87.

The Agricultural Myth That Is Killing All Of Us

Today we (those in America and the industrialized nations) live in a world that believes that the modern industrialized agricultural system is capable of feeding the world.   As far as I can see this assumption has not been challenged.  Many believe that the amount of food currently produced is capable of feeding the world in terms of calories.  The reason that there are starving and undernourished individuals in this world is simply because of distribution problems.  Distribution problems certainly exist because of the greed of “wealthy” nations or the political atmosphere or technological ability of the nation that is receiving the help.  The myth that I wish to discuss today goes beyond this notion.

The thinkers in this arena prefer to end their critical thinking processes at this point.  The belief that there is enough food produced and the only problem with feeding the world is distribution and the over consumption of the industrialized nations. This is a very tidy belief that refuses the basic question.  Is feeding the world sustainable?  Attempting to feed the world while failing is a moral victory for the self without a question as to the consequences of their behavior.  It is superficial.

Based upon sustainability we must also ask “Should we feed the world?” I would argue that you are simply unable to sustainably feed the world.  In order to feed the world’s population sustainably you must be able to do that over an extended period, for all time by definition.  The world is already running out of arable farmland and the ranges are nearing capacity.  Meat eaters are increasing in number as underdeveloped nations are developing.  The simple fact in all of this is this.  Once you feed a starving population, that population’s ability to reproduce increases, thus leading to population growth.  When we feed the population the population increases, which then requires a greater supply of food in an ever-increasing cycle that leads to the total destruction of all resources.  The destruction of our resources, all in an attempt to feel better about ourselves by feeding individuals on the other side of the world through cereal grains and cheap calories.

Beyond the fact that you are unable to feed the world through caloric intake alone, we are currently unable to provide healthy food to all individuals.  Therefore, the goal should be that of providing healthy, high quality food to as many individuals as possible.  Health foods and foods that delay senescence are significantly different.

I am aware that it sounds extremely harsh but starvation is the greatest limiting factor on population that the Earth has been capable of producing.  It is what keeps us in balance.  The second greatest limiting factor seems to be undernourishment.  Through undernourishment, this nation has seen an increase in infertility leading to a complete lack of menstrual processes in young individuals.  The rate of undernourishment has increased dramatically as witnessed by the increase in obesity.  Obesity caused by undernourishment seems contraindicated but it is not.  The increase of chronic disease due to undernourishment and cheap calorie diets, which is a direct result of our attempt to produce lots of food as cheaply as possible has been a major source of pain for many individuals in the developed world.  Premature death due to chronic disease and cancer has wrecked havoc on this nation.  The rates of chronic disease affecting younger populations continue to increase dramatically as suggested by Pottenger’s Cats.  Therefore, the side effect of cheap calories and the attempt to feed the world has actually increased pain and suffering dramatically throughout the world.

The establishment tells us that genetics cause disease.  However, our environment’s (food, pollution, chemicals, poisons) influence on genetics causes disease.  The toxins that are affecting us are a result of our political and industrialized habits.  The last 100 years have changed our environment dramatically and we are currently paying the price for it.  You do not have to be sick.

Sustainability and feeding the world are two opposite goals that are incapable of coexisting.  Our compassion has allowed ourselves to become misguided into believing that we are capable of more than we are.  Simply put, we should use only truly sustainable practices fed by the energy of the sun.  There are a great number of technologies that are beyond my understanding.  I do not know the limits of the suns energy for the production and feeding of individuals as well as maintaining our current lifestyle.

An honest look into sustainable technologies is necessary.  This would require government and industry to decrease the monopoly on energy.  It would also require conventional energy producers to allow alternative energies to surface.  There is significant evidence that conventional energy producers purchase alternative energy ideas and then bury them.   The use of unsustainable practices should end in order to decrease the amount of pain and suffering in this world.  Pain and suffering will continue unless something changes.  Better now, with an honest effort of transition towards sustainability instead of down the line with a catastrophic end to our current model and massive losses due to lack of distribution.  Individuals and small communities must once again take charge of the collection of food for themselves.

Grow a garden, be healthy (in ten steps), and be free.  Here is a three part series discussing health and wellness.  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.  Here is a brochure.

Update:  I wrote this before I knew about Malthus.  Who essentially said that we were going to run out of food because populations grow exponentially and food grows mathematically.  Turns out that food grew at a very fast rate since he died which allowed populations to continue to grow.  Also there has been a demographic transition which experts believe will leave the world at a population of 9.5 billion by 2050.  With that being said I still believe that the food that is being produced is not actual food, albeit food like substances that are harmful to our bodies and environment.

Secondary Research Guide for Health and Wellness

This is a list of the resources that I tend to use when doing my research.  I thought that it might be useful for all of you in your studies.  It’s probably best to just click and get the 1 page .pdf version linked below.  Otherwise enjoy scrolling through the blog.  Happy researching.

Secondary Research Guide for Health and Wellness.pdf


Consult Reference Librarian

Reference Books

– Dictionaries

Blacks Agricultural Dictionary

Food and Fitness: a Dictionary of Diet and Exercise 

Nutrition and Well-Being A to Z

Green Health: An A-to-Z Guide

Taylor’s Dictionary for Gardeners

– Encyclopedias

Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine

Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

Sports, Exercise, and Fitness

Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine

Encyclopedia of Organic, Sustainable, and Local Food


Indices and Abstracts




Agricultural Index




Consumer Health Complete

Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition


Global Plants


Natural and Alternative Treatments

Natural Standard




– Scholarly

American Journal of Preventative Medicine

Explore – The journal of Science and Healing

Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal

International Journal of Naturopathic Medicine

Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine

Journal of the American Dietetic Association

Journal of Applied Horticulture

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

Journal of Sustainable Agriculture

Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture

Naturopathy Digest

Natural Medicine Journal

Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice

Strength and Conditioning Journal

– Practitioner

Muscle and Performance

Natural Practitioner

Organic Gardening



Government Documents

Center for Disease Control

Department of Agriculture

Department of Health and Human Services

Food and Drug Administration

National Agricultural Library

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

National Institutes of Health

Texas Department of Agriculture

United States Department of Agriculture




Professional Organizations

American Association of Naturopathic Physicians

National Association of Sports and Physical Education

Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association


Key Words


Holistic Nutrition

Natural/Organic Food 

Naturopathic Medicine

Physical Fitness

Strength and Conditioning

Weight TrainingWellness


Style Sheet

American Medical Association

Council of Science Editors


These testicles recently belonged to some young calves.  Those calves, as you can tell, recently had a bad day. Part of my animal science class was the sterilization of our young boys at the ranch.  Pretty interesting process.  I was surprised as to how calm the calves were during the process.  While the calves displayed some signs of irritation, after the procedure, they walked away without a hitch in their getup and are completely healed in a week and a half to two.  Not to shabby.  

Why do we do it?  Well, the reason is because Americans love their meat tender, juicy, and flavorful.  The sterilization of young male calves increases the above qualities.  Like it or not, it shows that the consumer has the power in the agricultural world.  Inform yourself and vote with your dollars.  The industry will sell what the consumer wants.