…It was definitely tough enough! For those who have no clue what I am talking about, the Tough Mudder is 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by the British Special Forces to test all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie. Finishing the fastest is not the objective, but completing the Tough Mudder with your team is. Tough Mudder is 3-4 times longer and tougher than Warrior Dash or Ruckus. On average 78% of the participants that enter the Tough Mudder finish. The New England event took place at Mount Snow, VT.  You can check out the obstacles and information here.



I had a blast! We went up on Friday night and stayed over so we wouldn’t have to drive up on race day (sitting in a car for 3 hours…. Not a good idea).  On Saturday, we were supposed to go off at 1:30 pm. We were bummed because the course would have been run down, we would probably end by 4, which it would be cold by then, the party would have been over, then driving back late night… it just wasn’t ideal. We got to the course early to register where we saw so many interesting characters! There were people in costumes, there were people wearing chains; one guy did the entire course with a 12KG KETTLEBELL! Luckily, we got onto the course earlier and took off at 10:40am.

At the starting line, the TM Team was revving up all the Tough Mudders, chanting, yelling, cheering; we were fired up! The beginning of the race was running up the mountain. There was mud, there were rocks, there was mud, there was snow, and did I say there was mud? We found ourselves throughout the entire course, in between obstacles, running up and down the mountain. By the end of the course, let’s just say I felt comfortable running down the mountains at a fast pace.

The motivating factor was the unknown that lied ahead. We were always looking forward to the next obstacle. There was never a part of the race where I was thinking, “I want to stop,” it was more like, “I don’t want to do this!” But I did. Having a team definitely helped!  There was never time to slow down. You pushed yourself to keep up, and you pushed yourself to stay ahead.  And when you finished, there was a sense of accomplishment between everyone, a bond.


For my training, I mostly worked with kettlebells, and weights. I may have ran three times from February to May, if that many. I did kettlebell interval training and complex circuits 2x/ week. I included one day a week of circuit training for my “cardio,” and kept up with my heavy lifts 2x/ week.  I felt great throughout the entire race! Goes to show you that you do not need to run to stay in shape!

Here are my superlatives for the racecourse:

Most Challenging Obstacle: The Ball Shrinker

The Ball Shrinker was by far the most difficult obstacle overall; physically and mentally. Two tight ropes, one on top and one on the bottom; so you are standing in between these two ropes. Other people are on the rope at the same time as you, so the ropes are swaying back and forth, while people try to balance on them. The objective is to get cross the pond. The water is about 8 feet deep, and 35- degrees F. As you got farther along the rope, you got deeper into the freezing water. However, Ryan and I had a 350-pound guy in front of us that just stopped in the dead middle of the rope. I could barely hold on to the bottom rope, (it was pretty low down in the water). I was holding onto the top rope for dear life, meanwhile we were stuck, moving nowhere. After about a minute of sitting on the rope trying to figure out the next step, I sternly told Ryan to “MOVE AROUND THE MAN.”  Later he told me he had never seen that fearful and terrified look in my eyes before. It made him move fast. The freezing water started to affect my body, and my heart was beating out of my chest, I was losing my breath, and started to feel like I was losing control of my body. I pulled myself to shore, moving along the rope, and had never been so alleviated to be over with such a gruesome experience. After that obstacle, which was only 3 miles in, I kept on saying, “If I could do the Ball Shrinker, I can do anything!”

Ball Shrinker

Most Fun Obstacle: The Killa Gorilla

The Killa Gorilla was running up and down the same muddy and messy hill 10 times. We had to climb up the muddy and wet hill and then run/ slide down the muddy way. We had such a blast going at full speed up and down the hills we were laughing and smiling the entire time!

Most Demanding Physically: Funky Monkey

The Monkey Bars were greased with oil and butter and placed over a pool of freezing water that when (it was only a matter of when) you fell, you would fall into the icy water. I made it through 4 monkey bars before falling in. I remember thinking “ This stinks… but you know what? Hanging up here and going slow and steady is better than being in the water.” Then I fell in.

Funky Monkey

Most Demanding Mentally: Tree Hugger

Climbing up the steep, steep mountain about 6 miles into the course. This was probably the 10th hill we had climbed and when you got to this, you were over the whole climbing up the mountain ordeal. Actually, a lot of people had to climb to the side of this one because people were starting to cramp up.

Most Memorable: Electric Shock Therapy

The end of the race, and the only thing that is separating you from the finish line is the electric shock “field” of wires. Here’s the catch: There is no sprinting through the wires because there is mud underneath, that if you don’t choose your path wisely, your foot could get stuck or you could slip and fall. I got zapped three times. The first one was an “ouch,” the second one was an “OWWW!” and the third one was a “OWWW! AHHH!” Tough Mudder Photographers got a good glimpse of that last one!

... it hurt!!

Most Team Oriented: Berlin Walls

The 20-foot wooden wall was impossible to get over without the help of fellow Tough Mudders. They would help you up, while you had to jump and grab onto the top of the wooden ledge, swing your leg over, hang on, and then jump down. Repeat 6 TIMES !!!!

Most Exciting Moment: Getting the Tough Mudder Headband when you finished the course!

Would I do it again? ABSOLUTELY!

We finished is just over 3 hours, with no injuries!

Here are descriptions of some of the other obstacles that we needed to complete to become Tough Mudders:

Braveheart Charge– Uphill run for the first mile

Kiss of Mud– crawling underneath barbwire in a muddy field up hill

Tire Run– 50 yards running through different size tires with mud underneath. Try not to get your feet stuck!

Fish ‘n Chips– A pond filled with mulch and vinegar that you must climb in and out of, then walk under a tight cargo net.

Boa Constrictor– Climb through a narrow tunnel on your hands and knees, that as you get deeper into the tunnel starts to get deeper into the freezing cold water. On the bottom of the tunnel there are rocks and pebbles to scratch up those innocent knees.

Boa Constricter

Hold Your Wood– Carry a log up and down the mountain.

Ice Glacier Climb– 20 ft wall of snow that you needed to climb over. Once at the top, you needed to slide down the other side of snow.

Chairlift Hurdles– Hurdle over the chairlifts. However, you could not just roll over the hurdles because there were handles on the top of each one. Underneath the hurdles the ground was either uneven, wet, muddy, or all of the above! You had to watch where you stepped! The hurdles were up to my hip!

Walk the Plank– Climb up a 20 ft wall with a rope. At the top, there is a ledge where you jump 20 feet into freezing cold water, swim to the side and climb up a slanted wooden wall.

Walk The Plank

Blood Bath– Freezing cold red water in a big tub divided by a large wooden wall that you must go under the water to get to the other side

Greased Lightning– Slide down a slippery slope into a freezing pond of mud

Overall, a great experience! I would totally recommend it to anyone that is looking for something to compete in and, of course, is tough enough. 🙂

Check out more photos of Mount Snow, VT Tough Mudders

Posted in Inspiration, PRs | 2 Comments

GetUps, Swings, and Chinups

Had a great workout today!

2 Get-Ups/ each side

20 Swings

6 Chin Ups with light band



Posted in Strength Training | 2 Comments

Got Change?

Sometimes change is a good thing.  We get stuck into this routine of doing the same things every day, and then we wonder, why we are going through the motions? It could start out as something small like walking a different route to work? Or driving a different way than usual? Why not try a different recipe for dinner? Or change up your workout!  If we do not explore different options, we are not growing. We are stuck. So…how do we get unstuck?

1. Write it down:  Seeing is believing!

2. Make a goal:  Whether it is reaching a certain weight or completing an x-amount of repetitions; strive for greatness!

3. Dive in! Don’t be afraid to get to work! You can talk the talk, but now walk the walk!

Walk the Walk

Why make the change?

Maybe you are bored of your current routine? Or you are not seeing the results you wanted to? Maybe the same workout four months ago doesn’t hold the same intensity as it use to? Or it’s none of the above and you just have to answer the question: Why not?

Now you are asking yourself, “How do I get on a plan, and then make change? Aren’t those contradicting statements?” Wrong. Changes can be made simply!


Three weeks ago you started with body weight squats. It’s turning into week four and you are cruising through them, what’s next?

Try to get lower. Place a stool or bench underneath you that is lower than you have been squatting down and use it as a sensory device, so you can measure how low you can really go!

Baby Got Back

Perfect form? Try adding a weight to it, or even better a kettlebell.

Advanced? Start working single leg work into your program. You know you are strong with two legs, but you would be surprised at the asymmetries of working with your individual legs.


Holding on to the same weights you were three weeks ago? Time to let them go.

Periodization allows you to increase the intensity some days and increase the repetitions other days. Having a heavier day and then a lighter day, allows both fast twitch and slow twitch fibers to fire, and for you to gain strength and endurance.  It’s a great way to bring some change to your workout but keep the same exercises!


Week 1- Lift heavier than usual (4-6 reps x 4 sets)

Week 2- Lift lighter and increase repetitions (8-12 reps x 2 sets)

Week 3- Lift moderate weight (6-8 reps x3 sets)

Week 4- Active Rest (Bodyweight Exercises and Recreational Activities)

Each month set up a NEW plan with NEW goals!

“There is nothing wrong with change, if it’s in the right direction.” Winston Churchill


It’s not always easy putting down something that you have been holding onto for so long. Perfect time for a new workout: spring cleaning! Throw out that old program and hop onto a new one!

Three of my clients did just that! They were sick of going through the motions; elliptical, spin class, and 10 minute abs. They wanted to learn, to set goals, to achieve goals, and mostly,  to be challenged. Below are their testimonials on trying something new! At first it was outside of their comfort zone, however… with every loss there is a gain!

Don’t be afraid to try something new! It brings something different to the table!


JoshKettlebell training introduced me to many stabilizer muscles I had been neglecting by requiring much more vigorous full-body movement than traditional weight-lifting.  It helped me improve my form and my strength.  I found that after our 8 weeks, I was able to easily pick up my goal of getting back to squatting and dead lifting 200+.  I’m a lot more confident when doing other strength-training exercises, because using kettlebells taught me to focus on every single part of my body, particularly form and balance.

HelenaI really had very little interest in kettlebells before signing up for kettlebell training — quite honestly I was pretty intimidated by them.  I was just trying to be a good gym buddy to a friend and also knew that I needed to incorporate some regular strength training into my marathon training.  However, after the first session, I was hooked!  Very quickly I came to appreciate the efficiency of using kettlebells not only for strength training but also for a pretty good cardio workout.  I love the functional, whole body workout that kettlebell training incorporates instead of a bunch of different isolation exercises.  I have also noticed a huge difference in my running — I feel so strong on my long runs and powering up hills.

Nichole: I was initially very intimidated to work with kettlebells and figured I wouldn’t progress very quickly either; with increasing weight or the range of exercises I could perform.
I feel stronger than I have from any other workout and am so impressed with how efficient the workouts are.  I found myself getting max results in minimum time.  I also would not have expected it to be such a great cardio workout.

“The key to change is to let go of the fear.”- Rosanne Cash

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I am a firm believer in making goals. I am even a firmer believer in accomplishing them. At the beginning of the year, I made short term goals that I could accomplish month to month. My first set of goals was to be accomplished by March.


28 kg TGU

200 lbs Deadlift x 1

Run 12 miles at race pace (8:30)

Pistol Squat



225 lbs x 1 Deadlift

When looking back at my goals, I realized that I was trying to be a jack of all trades and trying to master them all at the same time, I wouldn’t be able to accomplish any of them.

Running has now become a leisurely activity, instead of a training tool. Back in October, I ran the Boston Half Marathon. I injured my knee and since I was trying to rehab to get back into running. In February I went to the Mike Boyle’s Winter Seminar, Mike brought up a good point about  injury prevention. He used a great analogy about the psychology of when people get hurt doing a specific motor exercise, and then how they rehab to get back to it.

“If you burned your hand on the stove, would you wait until your hand healed to put your hand back on the stove?”

It made complete sense to me. If I injured myself running 13 miles, why rehab to get back to re-injure it?  I made running a leisurely activity instead of making it part of my training. Of course, you need to take this analogy with a grain of salt and not use it out of context; but for running, it worked for me.

As for my pistol squat, I have not designated enough time to it, but I am working towards it. It is still one of my goals.

Check out these videos for the goals that I have accomplished!







Posted in Strength Training | 2 Comments

Nutrition Ramble

Research has shown that a pre-workout type of shake helps promote protein synthesis better than a post workout shake. Does that mean if you drink two, you will get more protein synthesis? Most likely not. Protein synthesis happens in pulses, you cannot be in a constant state of muscle anabolism.

So what happens to all those extra calories you eat that you think are helping your recovery? THEY ARE MAKING YOU FATTER!!!

Go Packers!

I’ll take an example of my college roommate, Chris. During one of his “bulking phases” he gained a lot more fat than he wanted to because he wanted to be “anabolic” the whole time. He didn’t need “all” those extra calories to promote muscle growth. Chris learned that the hard way. A good recommendation is about 500-700 extra calories a day to help promote muscle growth. Muscle growth happens so slowly, it is hard to put on more than 1-2lbs of real muscle a month. Even that rate is hard for most individuals.  If you could imagine 10lbs of ground beef and imagine that much mass added onto someone’s body, they would have a very different physique.  Most individuals who say they’ve gained 10-15lbs of mass while beginning a weight lifting program are probably not lying until they say they have gained 10-15lbs of muscle.  It is just hard to get into most individuals’ heads because of the perpetuated myths in our media today.


Another pseudoscience trend I fell into was, “eat lots of fast digesting carbohydrates and protein during the workout and get huge!” Well it has some truth to it. Faster digesting carbohydrates and proteins do help promote protein synthesis, glycogen re synthesis, and recovery, but you do not need as much as you think. Overall daily nutrition is much more important than the workout shake in terms changing body physique. You cannot add on slabs of muscle from a shake or gain tons of fat from eating a slice of cake. Losing fat and muscle work are also the same, you will not cannibalize muscle if nor will you lose those rolls around your stomach if you skip a meal or two.  It takes work and consistency to do both. This is why you do not see individuals gain an enormous amount of fat or muscle in a week. The general recommendations from ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) are pretty good for exercise nutrition.

Pre-competition: The optimal CHO and PRO content of a pre-exercise meal is dependent upon a number of factors including exercise duration and fitness level, but general guidelines recommend ingestion of 1 – 2 grams CHO/kg and 0.15 – 0.25 grams PRO/kg 3 – 4 hours before competition.

Post-competition: Ratio of CHO to PRO requires additional investigation, a often utilized practical approach is to consume a supplement containing CHO + PRO in a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio within 30 minutes following exercise, which translates to 1.2 – 1.5 g/kg of simple CHO (e.g., dextrose, sucrose) with 0.3 – 0.5 g/kg of a quality PRO containing EAA

Now remember, pre-competition guidelines are a MEAL, not a shake. The post-competition guideline does not factor in a pre-workout shake. This is especially important if you are trying to lose fat (more on that later in this post).

So is it time to rethink your workout nutrition? Most likely . . . AFTER YOU GET YOUR DAILY NUTRITION INTO GEAR TOO! This is just a small piece in the grand scheme of nutrition. Just because you get this part right and mess it up the other 23 hours a day, don’t expect to lose fat.

Eat a Meal

I have been on a “real food” phase lately. Let’s start off with what has happened to me. Coming back from my internship at Athletes’ Performance I went from 158 to 170 (Who said you can’t gain weight and workout while interning 55 hours a week). When I got home and started my internship at Holy Cross, they didn’t have the extra Gatorade or protein shakes lying around so that was cut out of diet. I slowly lost weight went down to 164 in a matter of 8 weeks, still working out trying to get stronger. My program wasn’t that much different and I interned about 15 fewer hours there a week. What does that tell you? To lose fat, you have to eat less (in a reasonable sense of course). All I did was cut out Gatorade and extra protein shakes during the day. So if you are not losing weight, you need to eat less. You cannot eat less and not lose weight in most healthy individuals. Less comparatively to yourself, not someone else!


If you are trying to lose weight, cut the pre and post workout shakes. EAT REAL FOOD! Now you might think I’m talking blasphemy and ask what about all that research that talk about protein synthesis being unregulated with individuals who drink a post-workout shake. Well most of the studies are done in a fasted state before hand, not factoring in a pre-competition meal which makes a very big difference. If one is trying to lose weight, they should be in calorie deficiency while lifting heavy things (read lifting weights). Now I stress heavy things, not something you can lift 11-100+ rep range. More like something in the 4-6 rep range. They recruit more muscle fibers, so there is more simulation to illicit a “muscle protecting effect”.

88..89..90! TEN MORE!

If you have been in the gym for over while and you have not lost any weight, it’s time to recheck with your nutrition. You are obviously not breaking the laws of thermodynamics by eating less and not losing weight. You are not that special. Natural bodybuilders slim down every year and have success by eating less and lifting heavy things!


Well why real food? Here is the reason, because real food kicks protein powder and replacement meals butts in terms of nutrition value, fiber content and satiety. You get more vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, fiber and you get to chew it instead of drinking some shake. You get more bang for your buck in terms of calories, what is there not to like? “Oh, but Henry what about my recovery from the workout?” You are trying to lose fat, not put on muscle or get stronger. Focus on that goal! If you could choose between a shake and a meal post workout, a meal wins each time for fat loss goals. In a calorie deficit diet, it is important to make sure you are getting enough nutrients, so why waste your calories on “empty calories”. In fact, it has been shown that cereal after workouts is just as effective as a sports drink for glycogen re synthesis.

Messages to Take From This Article:

-Eat real food on fat loss diets
-Eat less to lose weight
-Do not go crazy with extra calories when trying to gain weight

Here are a few links to check out to spark your own interest and research.

Henry Lau

Henry is ACSM-PT Certified. He graduated from University of Rhode Island with a B.S. in Exercise Science. He is currently at College of Holy Cross as a strength coach for athletes.

Posted in Nutrition, Strength Training | Leave a comment

Turkish Get Up

Congrats to Ryan for accomplishing his goal: 32kg TGU!

As for me, I completed the 24kg TGU. Still working my way to the 28kg by March!

Thanks for watching and stay posted for my 28kg TGU!

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Kettlebell Circuit

Try this kettlebell workout! 

Foam Roll
4 Part Squat   x10
Spidermans x5

Kettlebell Workout:  Repeat x4
Kneeling Halo x10
Single Arm Swing x10
Double Clean & Press  x5


Posted in PRs, Strength Training | Leave a comment