Strength Training Does Not Mean Bulking Up

The more I speak to people and let them know I am diving deeper into the world of fitness and becoming a trainer I still hear the same thing when I say the words “strength training”.  The immediate reaction is “I don’t want to bulk up, I just want to maintain my weight or lose weight”.  WTF?  Who doesn’t want to be stronger, am I missing something here.  At Caveman Strong we don’t train body builders we train people to just be more efficient human beings. 

When I hear people say I just want to do cardio it makes me sad that somehow we have evolved into lab rats on a huge spinning wheel.  How does an elliptical machine, recumbent bike or stair climber make you more efficient on a day-to-day basis?  On the other hand how many time a day (without even realizing it) do you squat, deadlift (pick something up) or press?  When I talk about strength training I am not talking about getting you ready for a posedown with super tanned tanks, I am simply talking about making you learn to strengthen and use your body more efficiently.  All we do at Caveman Strong translates into your recreational sports as well.

I strength train now to make sure when I am 50 or 60 or 70 that I can still climb stairs without stressing over it, play with my grandkids, take out the trash and with any luck still play rec hockey.  It’s not about being ripped and hitting the beach, it’s about feeling good, healthy, strong and being able to tackle everyday tasks, and every now and then do something challenging.  I recently signed up for Spartan Race ( ) in Ottawa July 3rd with a bunch of friends just to challenge myself and have some fun.

So before you write off strength training and opt to keep using your fancy machines, think about the benefits of strength training, not to “bulk up” but rather to achieving a better more efficient you.  Those long 60 minute cardio marathons do burn fat BUT they can also burn muscle.  A good sessions with some lifting and a sprinkle of cardio (sans machines) will burn just as much fat and build muscle.

What you eat is just as, if not more important but that is for another day or you can read previous posts on my blog about it.

People are insecure about their strength and are afraid to come to the gym to “lift” in case someone can do more weight.  It’s time to check that ego at the door and just go for it.  At Caveman Strong we are a community of like-minded folks striving to be better and stronger humans, we do not compete against one and other, we encourage each other kind of like a team. Everyone does the same workout which is scaled to their ability.  As you progress there is less scaling and you start to move some weight around.  This is for everyone.  Get involved today!

Be Great!



Avoiding The Easter Cream Egg

It’s Easter weekend and that means the family get together and the perfect time for a chocolate eating frenzy.  A quick reminder that holidays are not good reasons to not just fall off the wagon but leap off with no hope of catching it for the next 10 days.

I get that sometime the cheat is necessary for the mental health, not the physical side but use good judgment please. 

The next thing you need to be aware of is the HUGE family meals that come with the holiday.  I’m not suggesting or recommending you insult your mom, dad, aunt, granny or whomever by refusing to eat something homemade over the weekend but use your head.  If it’s a desert then have a smaller piece than normal.  If it’s a corn soufflé or some kind of magic mashed potato fiesta just have a polite portion and fill up on the turkey/ham/roast and salad and veggies.  I’m not a big fan of imposing my choices onto others who do not ask, but at the same time, if I am a guest in their home I eat what they prepared for me.  It’s about respect.  Just choose wisely when it comes to the servings on your plate is all.  Enjoy your family and celebrate being together.  That being said….if they ask, then it’s fine to inform them about why you make the food choices you do and why, but don’t be a bully and all high and mighty about your caveman/cavewoman ways.

The Easter Bunny will likely bring me 3 Cadbury easter cream eggs and I will scarf them down in 6 quick bites but that is where it ends.  If you’re a chocoholic and having none will make you miserable and end up making you binge at another time, have a bit, set a limit, but DO NOT overindulge. 

Trust me, I could eat easter cream eggs by the dozen , I’ve always loved them but eating a dozen or more like I did in the past got me where…very unhealthy and a poor example for my kids.  When they see me eating those little chocolate cream filled eggs Sunday it will be an event for them since they know “papa” doesn’t eat a lot of sugar.  Their knowledge and choices have come a long way based on what I eat and that is one of the best parts of this journey for me.  Being an example for my kids.  I don’t want them to live the way I did.  To hear them talk about healthy food choices and the importance of being active and wanting to be strong like “papa” fuels the fire to keep going.

Enjoy the long weekend and if you need help reducing your easter cream egg intake just picture where they would come from if they were naturally produced by the Easter Bunny.  Turned off yet?

Be Great!


Becoming A Trainer: A Lifelong Commitment

Chipping Away At Your Lifestyle Change

Sometimes people take the term lifestyle change and use it in a way that makes it sound easy.  It’s not!  It is more than doable with the right frame of mind but think about making that statement for a second.  LIFESTYLE CHANGE.  Change is not easy anytime and undoing something you’ve been doing for years is no easy feat.

Some people can just wake up one day and decide to change their eating habits and the amount of exercise they do in a day or week, other need to take it step by step.  Whichever you fall under it starts with a recognition you need to make a change and then figuring out how to make it happen.

When we talk lifestyle change most of us are referring to our eating habits.  People who choose to go primal cut out sugar (especially refined) dairy and grains.  Some go the extra step and limit their fruit intake or at least are more picky about which ones they eat and when.  The plus side is there is no limit to the lean meat, fish, vegetable intake and you can throw in nuts and seeds.  You begin to learn and understand that fat doesn’t make you fat, grains and sugar are the culprits.  I’m not going into an insulin rant here but I encourage you to research insulin release in the body and what foods trigger how much and the impact it has on you overall health.  I will revisit insulin in a future post.

As I mentioned cold turkey type folks can dive right in and see all the benefits right away.  The others choose to maybe eliminate one of the three no-nos and reduce the intake of the other two and eventually get to eliminate them over time.  Still a solid approach.

My wife is a self described bread addict and decided for her it was step by step and she eliminated all dairy.  Result: since then she has not once used her asthma puffer which used to come out at least twice a day!  Hard to argue with that.  Great first step as she moves towards cutting out the other two. 

As I mentioned in this blog before it took me a long time to stop Yo-Yoing and be strict all the time.  I went cold turkey diving right in which was good but I would get lazy and allow things as progress was going well and always took a couple steps back. Now that I stopped the Yo-Yo I am even refining what I do well.  I have all but eliminated cream from my coffee and started eating grass fed lean meats with a leap into organ meats coming soon.  My energy levels are up even higher than before and my creative mind is almost unstoppable right now.  I started jotting down ideas last night and filled a lined paper with a good 10 of them in less than 5 minutes.

I am human and I keep some french vanilla cream in the fridge for the odd occasion to sweeten things up.  I also had a few beers Saturday evening and was fine with it.  When the “cheat” is calculated and planned it is much easier to get right back on track.  My days of falling off the wagon are behind me.  I feel pretty strapped in right now.

I am encouraging you to take a solid look at your current lifestyle and see what changes (big or small) can be made.  If you’re looking for some help feel free to email me .  I will soon be accepting private training clients once the new Caveman Strong gym opens in May (first come first serve), reserve your spot now.  In the meantime if advice or encouragement is what you need flip me an email.

Be Great!


Good Eating Habits, It’s Up To You

When I do groceries people always look into my shopping cart to make sure I do not have any non-paleo items in there. When I order at a restaurant people often pay close attention to make sure I am not eating grains or sugar.  I love some of the reactions I get when I order a chicken salad (no croutons) with a side bowl of smoked meat.  My eating habits have changed dramatically over the last couple of years but the journey is tough.  I feel I have arrived but I constantly hear people around me say they can’t give up this or that…I am calling bullsh*t on all of it.  If you do your reasearch and understand what you are feeding your body you can change those habits.  I love easter cream eggs and in the past would eat a few a week.  Now I allow myself a treat on Easter Sunday and maybe one more occasion. Not for my physical health but mental health.  Treat yourself on occasion and every weekend is NOT an occasion.

Eating habit change is the most critical element to your lifestyle change and that lies solely with you.  You can work uber hard at the gym 5 days a week but if you eat like crap the results will show it.  A lifestyle change is 80% diet and 20% exercise.  Maybe even more on the diet side but let’s use these numbers.  If you are committed at the gym then do yourself a favour and do the same outside the gym.  Be honest with yourself too. Just because you say your eating well to your trainer or friends doesn’t mean you are if you’re allowing many, even little cheats here and there.

I follow the paleo diet and for me it is the simplest most common sense diet ever.  If man made it don’t eat it.  My daily intake of food is lean meats, fish, vegetables, some fruit, nuts and seeds.  No grains, no sugar, no dairy.  The best part is there is no calorie counting, weighing my portions or a freakin’ points system.  I have shed unwanted fat and gained a great deal of lean muscle and I eat like a viking (anyone who has had supper or lunch with me knows this).  This is a typical day for me:

Breakfast: 4 eggs, bacon or chicken or beef or pork or fish (depends on leftovers from supper) sometimes with berries

Snack: cashews or macadamia nuts and jerky

Lunch: Huge salad or serving of veggies, big hunk of meat, occasional paleo type snack like muffin or pancake(just one)

Snack:vegetable and nuts

Supper: Huge steak w/ grilled veggies and guac(excellent source of fat)

Occasional night snack if hungry: nuts and 4-5 olives

I am never hungry, never feel bloated and my energy levels are high all day and I sleep like a baby.  I supplement during the day with fish oil, Vitamin D3 and probiotic.

Making the choice to improve your eating habits after having poor ones for most of your adult life is tough, but with the right motivation support and environment it can be done.

Here are a couple of items I saw at a local grocery store that remind me why I eat the way I do:

Honestly...who eats this stuff????

Really, someone captured the taste of a ball park hot dog in a seasoning for a potato chip.  Think about it folks!  Marketing at its best here.

C'mon, really!!!!!!!!!


Meatless meat products!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  WTF….I am in the mood for some meatballs but without the meat…if this makes sense to you, put your head down and sprint towards a wall! Sheesh.

Be smart, be healthy, be happy and spread the word so we can be healthier people.

If you crave a ball park hot dog, just go take in a Jays game and order one there, don’t buy a bag of chips!

Be Great!


Foundation Strikes Again!

Last night was the final night for the Cornwall Crossfit Foundation Program and yet again the results speak to the effectiveness of the 4 week journey.  So far 35 people have been through and all have seen weight and inch losses as well as an increase in strength and stamina.  This is the story of the latest group to come through.

We started 4 weeks ago with 5 people who came in with some nerves but ready to make a change in their lives.  Four out of the five wanted to get lighter and leaner while the youngest (15 years old) was looking to bulk up.  As a group they learned all squat variations (body weight, back, front, overhead and box), shoulder press, push press/jerk, the clean, the snatch, kipping pullups, kettlebell swings, proper pushup technique and couldn’t get enough of the always popular BURPEE!!! (note sarcasm here). It was great to see them gel as a group and bring max effort every night we gathered for some good work.  Overall we always strive to make it as fun as possible.  The sense of community happened between these 5 people and now they will go and experience it with the rest of the Cornwall Crossfit community. I saw them each get stronger as the weeks went on and last night the proof came in the results.

As a group of 5 they lost a combined 15 pounds and 26 inches.  Plus, the average baseline WOD time for all was 2-3 minutes faster!  Nice gains.  Those are great starting numbers and will grow as these folks continue their journey through the Cornwall CF program.

Coach Danimal with the latest Foundation Program Grads

I would like to highlight the 15 year old in the group.  He came in for gains not losses and he managed to put on 1lb.  It’s a good strength pound. He lost an inch on the shoulders, a bit more in the midsection and hips but gained an inch in the chest which is where he wants it.  He got leaner in the right areas and gained a bit of size.  As he continues to squat and press he will eventually see more gains in the chest and hip area as he strengthens his posterior chain (hamstring,glute,lower back).

The next Foundation program will be at the new Cornwall CF location set to open May 1st if all goes well.  The program will be getting some reformatting and the hours may be a bit more flexible, those details will come sometime in April.  In the meantime, if you are interested in signing up for a Foundation program feel free to email me at or call 613.360.7373.

Again, congrats to all Foundation members for a great 4 weeks. It was a real pleasure working with each and every one of you.

Be Great!