Every lifter will be a statistical outlier — it’s in the numbers.

A slots machine showing three sevens.
A slots machine showing three sevens.
Photo by DEAR on Unsplash

As barbell coaches, we are under intense pressure to overcomplicate training.

Because the human body is complex, and the possible range of exercises and goals are near-infinite, it feels insufficient to program the simple, hard, and effective exercises that get results. Our brains tell us, “it can’t be this easy.”

On top of that, the market pressures each coach to stand out and be different. The differences that count don’t pop on a sales letter — things like professionalism, efficiency, caring, listening, community, client-centeredness, experience, and investment. …

Help clients overcome their ‘lawnmower moments,’ and they will never forget you

A man on a riding lawnmower over lush grass with a lake and mountain in the background
A man on a riding lawnmower over lush grass with a lake and mountain in the background
He makes it look so easy. Photo by Ingo Doerrie on Unsplash

If you’ve been coaching for any length of time, you’ve probably found yourself in this situation:

You’re working with a client — let’s call him Jeff — and he’s trying to cut down on mindless, fatty eating. He recognizes that his morning McDonald’s run on the way to work is an obstacle to his goals, so together, you pick a simple daily practice that will vastly improve Jeff’s diet:

“Cook breakfast in the morning.”

Jeff loves the idea. He’s excited about it, says he’s 100% confident he can do it, and leaves your appointment with a spring in his step.

What deck-builders teach us about choosing strategically in a flood of options

A chaotic highway scene from above.
A chaotic highway scene from above.
Photo by Timo Volz on Unsplash

How can two competitors start with equal resources in the exact same market, but one becomes wildly successful while the other flounders?

Business classics like Good to Great explore this concept in exquisite detail, comparing pairs of companies in detail and studying them to see the differences. Still, with all their resources, they could only find eleven examples for their research.

Yet every day, tens of thousands of deck-builder card game fans worldwide test this exact scenario, and the resulting strategies from millions of games played over hundreds of variants both validate and innovate on those we find in the…

Start with something good enough, then make it truly yours

Photo by Mike Tinnion on Unsplash

I’m not, by nature, an organized person, and I never have been.

In the third grade, my report card read “needs improvement” for Organization.

In grade school, I almost flunked a semester of history because of “study folder checks.”

After college, I tried to follow a few systems to the letter to fix the problem: Getting Things Done (GTD), daily-weekly goals, hour-tracking, the A+ Student system, and bullet journaling to name a few. Yet I always ran into similar problems:

  • Some parts would be immediately useful, and others seemed like a lot of work for little benefit.
  • They were often…

How and when to lean in, break professional expectations, and change lives.

A swimmer underwater at the bottom of a dive
A swimmer underwater at the bottom of a dive
Photo by Artem Verbo on Unsplash

In 2012, training to earn a spot to become a US Navy SEAL, I was the fittest I’ve ever been.

I could run a mile and a half in a little over 8 minutes, do 25 Pull-ups, and deadlift 405 pounds.

I finished a half-Ironman triathlon with just two weeks of specific preparation (a terrible idea, admittedly). I powered through the nearly-lethal (fun story) 22-mile Rabbit Peak ruck race. I routinely finished the SEAL obstacle course in under seven minutes (ten and a half is passing, the record is around four).

I was physically qualified, had good recommendations, and the…

How can you design for ‘fitness’ without knowing your client?

A lifter in leaning on a barbell, looking focused, in black and white.
A lifter in leaning on a barbell, looking focused, in black and white.
Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash

For most of its history, fitness had nothing to do with how much weight you could put on the bar or how fast you could turn up your treadmill.

Fitness referred to how well something was suited to its circumstances — think “fitted sheet,” not Planet Fitness. The modern conception of the word didn’t arise until the middle of the 20th century when the physical element of military fitness tests began to capture the whole meaning.

In the process, we lost something important, something that could meaningfully transform how we coach and improve lives every day:

We lost sight of…

Stand out, get answered, and possibly change your life.

An upraised hand over a blue background with colorfully painted fingernails.
An upraised hand over a blue background with colorfully painted fingernails.
Photo by Analia Baggiano on Unsplash

With the growth of network platforms and the infinite reach of every niche, we have an advantage our parents couldn’t have dreamed at our age:

Whenever we want, whatever we need help with, we can ask.

More remarkably, someone is waiting to answer. Sites like StackOverflow and Quora exist solely for this reason. The growth of social media communities as brand-builders means that as long as you’re willing to scroll past the occasional product pitch, communities of fellow professionals stand ready to help you work through your problems.

And yet despite this abundance of intellectual wealth, I still see questions…

The hustle-buy-justify cycle is failing at massive expense, but we don’t have to play

A broken doll in the dirt.
A broken doll in the dirt.
Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

As a strength coach, I play a small part in a wellness industry that’s been growing at an incredible rate for over a decade.

This growth makes sense at first glance. Chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease and diabetes are on the rise. Mental illness among adolescents and obesity across all categories has increased, and public anxiety around health has spiked along with it. With health care costs rising, sufferers are looking to supplements, diets, and coaches to fill in the gap.

It’s an incredible opportunity to help, but we should take pause before rushing headlong into a system that is…

Or are you stuck in copycat mode?

A neatly organized tool box on a dark wood floor.
A neatly organized tool box on a dark wood floor.
Photo by Tekton on Unsplash

There are effectively three sources that we as coaches can draw from to drive effective decisions: reason, experimentation, and mimicry.

Most coaches will get stuck in one — sometimes reinforced by a second — and the results are apparent.

On the one hand, we get armchair internet coaches who argue their way through how the best program should work but don’t even lift. On the other, we get cheerleader coaches who are willing to try anything but can’t clearly explain what it is they do.

A good coach uses all three when appropriate to make coaching decisions that get results…

Bad news — neither is anyone else

A book. The edges of the pages are inked with the phrase “From the real experts.”
A book. The edges of the pages are inked with the phrase “From the real experts.”
Photo by Rita Morais on Unsplash

Let’s imagine this scenario: you’re an American Olympic weightlifter — the best we’ve seen in decades — and you’re poised to earn the men’s team its first gold medal since the Cold War.

The problem is that you’re stuck. You’ve done everything you think possible in your diet, programming, and mindset, and you’re confident that there’s something in your technique that’s holding you back. Like Tiger Woods, you want to break your lift down and remake it for that slight edge.

Who is the most expert in this situation?

  • The engineer, who can map out optimal bar paths and moment…

CJ Gotcher

Strength Coach and Director of Barbell Logic’s Coaching Academy. Picks things up and puts them down. PBC, Pn2, CF-L1

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