Become a Beast at the “X”

For Starters, I want to apologize because I should of written this article a very long time ago. I’ve received a ton of emails over the past few years asking for advice on training specifically for Face-off men.

I’ve written a lot of articles for the masses and for athletes in general. But this article is going to be special, it’s dedicated to my hard working colleagues who are proud to do the dirty work. There are thousands of people giving their “advice” all over the internet on what skills are important to FaceOff men and when it comes to that stuff I simply say, “To each his own.” But since I don’t personally know any other professional strength coaches who are also considered elite level FaceOff Athletes I’m taking responsibility for helping all of you who desire to become healthier, stronger and more effective at our beloved position.

First, let’s kill a few myths that I’ve gotten pretty sick of.

1: There is no such thing as Sports specific training. Every athlete in every sport can and will benefit from the style of training that I talk about in this article. There is however SKILL specific training. This is when you add in specific things to help an athlete excel in his or her specific function. The beauty of being a FaceOff Athlete is you need only to worry about being a well rounded, strong athlete.

2: You need to build your upper body. False, although it looks cute when you have big arms it means nothing when it comes to being an accomplished FaceOff Athlete . Having strength throughout the entire body should be the focus.

3: You need to perform isolated forearm work to make your forearms stronger. False, To truly build forearm strength you need to pick up heavy crap i.e. during deadlift variations.

4: The bigger and stronger you are, the more effective you will be. FALSE, yes being strong can help you but size means nothing. In the land of the FaceOff SPEED kills not size.

Ok lets roll through a few principles that I believe in when it comes to my own strength and conditioning.


Don’t forget about them HAMMMSTRANGSS

During my education at Penn State we spoke constantly about “prehabbing” injuries. This means that we would take an athlete’s personal inefficiencies and combine them with what risks their function(position) naturally entails and create a Prehab program for that athlete.

For example, early in my college career I had severe Low back issues (stress fracture of 2 vertebrae). Also, the FaceOff position is very taxing on the low back, the knees, shoulders and wrists. So each and every day I would come into the weight room and along with my standard warm-up I would also perform specific exercises and stretches for all of those key areas in order to strengthen those joints and make them less susceptible to injury.

It’s extremely important to develop flexibility and strength in every joint in the body. The smaller and more intricate muscles of the joints may not be as exciting as the chest or arms but it’s much more important because no matter how big you are, you can’t play if you’re injured.


In my experience most popular “lifting magazines” Were not written for athletes. They were certainly not written for lacrosse players and I know from what I’ve seen, nothing in those magazines was written to help a FaceOff man. Training like an athlete is simple, train total body EVERY time you train. Until you can figure out how to face-off with just your Chest and Triceps on a Monday then stop doing the dumb ass bodybuilding splits. Now as much as I’d love to spend the next 40 pages explaining different types of workout regiments, I need to eat in a few minutes so let me just throw out some of my absolute favorite exercises and how I personally set up my own training split.

1) Deadlift

Yep, that’s about right.

Take a weight and pick it up off of the ground. The muscle hierarchy for a FoGo is simple TRAIN FROM THE GROUND UP AND FROM BACK TO FRONT. Which means your lower body is way more important than your upper body and your hips/glutes are king. So bend down and pick the weight up off of the ground and enjoy the feeling of your body getting stronger each and every time you do it. A neat side effect happens to be a strong and broader upper back as well.



Goblet, Front, Back….

Goblet squats rock.

Doesn’t matter what style but pick one and do them correctly and every fiber from your spinal erectors to the dense muscles of the quads will become stronger and thicker and much more powerful.

Sled Work

In my opinion absolutely nothing translates to the athletic field more than pushing/pulling sleds over a distance. That’s what lacrosse is in a nutshell. Driving your opponent all over the field and conquering them.

Pushing an external resistance as fast as you can develops not only strength but it’s also a supreme way of developing power. Power correlates to speed and quickness. What the hell else could you possibly want as a FaceOff Athlete?

The other great thing about sled pushing is there is no eccentric motion (negative) as in traditional weight lifting. Therefore soreness is greatly declined which makes adapting to sled workouts pretty easy. You can use heavy loads to develop your power, medium weights to develop strength, power and cardio, or just drag that sucker for extended periods to build a great muscular endurance base.

Olympic lifts

I want to make two things crystal clear. 1) Olympic lifting is something that takes a great deal of time to learn from an experienced and highly educated coach. So the odds of you learning this art from a “trainer” that works at Equinox or L.A. fitness is like finding out exactly what kind of mutated animal Snooki is derived from. However if and when you do find such a coach it is very worth your time to learn.

2) I freaking LOVE olympic lifts. I do clean variations all year-round because not only is it fun but it’s powerful and develops the entire body with every rep. Plus, nothing scratches the meathead itch like picking up 300lbs and throwing it up onto my shoulders.

That being said, I weight train on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I perform my energy systems training on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I run on the field and get some shooting in on Sundays. It’s not totally necessary to train this often but since I was only cleared to play in January I’ve had to make up for lost time.

Preseason Phase IB

2012 Preseason EST

When you take a look at these files you’ll see that it’s evident I live by a principle that I learned from the great strength coach Dan John.

“If it’s important do it every day, if it’s not important then don’t do it at all.”

I train using exercises that work. I don’t have time for gimmicky “balance” training. I don’t have time to be injured screwing around with Crossfit B.S. I train like an athlete and that’s how I’ve been successful, it’s how I’ve been an explosive player at every level and it has everything to do with me stepping back on the field this summer when 9 months ago it looked like I may never be able to again.

I love training, I love getting better, I love FEELING better. Feeling strong, feeling fast and feeling healthy is fantastic. I want all of you to feel the same way so if you ever have questions after reading this then let me know.

Train so hard that the games are easy baby.


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Quick & Painful: Effective 20 minute training to tone up and shred fat

“I’ll do ANYTHING to get lean and look great.”

– 90% of Americans

Will you?  Will you really?  Do you want to look better?  Feel better?  be happier?

I don’t believe you and I won’t believe you until you’re willing to listen.  If you’re still stuck on your men’s health subscription then stop reading this.  If you really believe that shape-ups are working for you then go watch TV.  If you’re still the kind of person that says “well spin class has to be doing something” then go order some more McDonalds. Because you’re all part of the ALMOST anything club.  The group of people that say you’ll do anything but in reality SAY almost anything in order to make yourself believe that you’re willing to really work hard for this.  Because despite what the infomercials and the magazines and the “gurus” on TV say, Hard is the ONLY way to get it done.

For the tiny percentage of you who truly are in the ELITE mindset of “I’ll do ANYTHING” then welcome.  In this article I’m going to give you a list of tried and true methods that we use in the athletic world when it comes to gaining strength and endurance while shredding fat.  But I warn you, there’s only one way to accomplish these workouts.  You have to EARN it.

Unlike cross fit and “insanity” and other ridiculous money makers, Strength training uses science in order to get results.  These protocols are all based on our rules for burning fat.  You may remember them from past articles.

1) Moderate to heavy loads.

2) Extended sets.

3) Short rest.

4) Multi Joint exercises.

Training Routines:

1:  The Pyramid

Pyramid training is old school, intense and easily measures progress.

Sums it up

We at Brawlic love pyramids because they’re so malleable. The standard pyramid starts at 10 reps of a given group of exercises and each successive set we then perform one less rep.  For example, say you want to do a “weakness to strength pyramid.”  Meaning you want to choose 3 things that you find to be physical weaknesses and your goal is to strengthen them.  That pyramid would look something like this:

Weaknesses:  Glutes, Midsection, Arms

Exercises: Squats, Pull Ups, Ab Roller

Set 1: 10 reps of each (30 sec rest)

Set 2: 9 reps of each (30 sec rest)


I’m sure you get the picture.  What you find is that you end up performing 55 total reps of each movement with only 30 seconds of rest in-between each set.  That’s brutal but incredibly effective.  Your goal is then simple, next time try to finish the workout faster.

For the seriously bold, feel free to try the diamond pyramid which is essentially two pyramids back-to-back.  start from 1 rep and work up to 10…then back down to 1.  OUCH!

I personally love using two exercise combos for athletes when it comes to pyramids.  The first is simply 115 lb barbell and performing a power clean diamond pyramid.  Not only is this great for burning fat and increasing work capacity but younger athletes love the fact that their arms and forearms are completely fried afterwards.  The second is a holy grail of fat burning and my females swear upon it.  Kettlebell swings and Burpees.

Take THAT spin class

If you don’t know what a burpee is then google it because you’re missing out on the greatest love/hate relationship of your life.

2:  Tabata Protocol

Long before cross fit ruined people’s joints, there was a successful japanese protocol used by strength coaches all over the world.  Tabata has been used for generations by the best of the best.  Now why ohhh why would the best coaches in the world use this rather than P90x?  It’s ok mull it over I know this is a head scratcher.  Oh wait because it FREAKING WORKS.  It works, it’s simple, it’s cheap and its AWESOME.  But it’s also painful and your results will be directly correlated to your will.  We’ve touched on this in the past but let me lay down the ground work and the rules for you.


20 seconds of non-stop reps followed by 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes (8 sets)

Yes that’s it.  Before you laugh let me also give you the commandments of this protocol because many…MANY.. people do it wrong.

You MUST use a multi joint exercise.

You MUST use some sort of weight but nothing too heavy (example I max front squat nearly 500 lbs and I use a 95lb barbell for this).

You MUST go as fast and as hard as you can.  I highly recommend doing this with a partner because you will need someone to watch the clock and push you.

I personally believe Tabata is most effective when performed using either a squat variation or the Gold Standard which is a Thruster.  Those of you with sick and twisted minds just relax here’s a thruster:

This movement uses every muscle in the body and if you’re looking for a training routine that will be worth bragging about but is shorter than your warm-up then spend your fall performing these on Fridays.

If you’ve read through this then you’ve at least shown you’re Interested in getting better.  But I mean what I say, these routines are hard and they’re hard for a reason.  I hesitate to use the word routine because routines are synonymous with “going through the motions.”  If you just go through these motions without any heart or emotion then you’ll get buried.  As we head into the final stretch of 2011 try something that can finally change your life and feel free to write me and tell me how awesome you feel come new years eve.


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The ComeBack Blog

As many of you who follow the Brawlic Blog have noticed it’s been 5 months since I’ve posted an article.  In June during a game vs Denver I ran down the field and performed a spin move, the only problem, everything except my left knee came with me.  Everyone has fears and my biggest fear since I was a very young athlete has always been of blowing my knee out.  In that split second I tore my ACL, my lateral meniscus, and cracked my articular cartilage.  In layman’s terms my knee just about exploded.

What rushes through our minds when our gravest fears suddenly and viciously become reality?  Well I suppose the simple answer to that is we cry.  I personally suffered a wave of new fears, Why?  When I’m playing so well?  What will my team do without me?  Is my career over?  How will I still train my clients who need me?  Is my family ok after seeing this?  How much further can my calves really shrink?

I haven’t written since then because it was important for me to take this all in, experience every second, survive the moments and remember them.  I wanted to truly understand what I have gone through because this summer for me is a metaphor for any person’s life before they realize it’s time for a radical change, an epiphany, a reformation………a ComeBack.


Just like any fundamental process in life a ComeBack is based on phases.  As humans (namely Americans) we love ComeBacks.

This guy knows what I'm talking about.

Now let’s be straight a ComeBack isn’t solely a star falling and then rising once again a la Michael Jordan or Mike Vick. A ComeBack is also an underdog reaching what he or she knew they were capable of all along.  And sometimes in very special and beautiful occasions it can be the case of a person stepping forward and achieving things greater than even THEY thought possible.  The latter is a personal favorite of mine because it’s what I try to achieve with my clients on a daily basis.

The questions is, when is it time for YOUR ComeBack?  Why not now?  Let’s take a look at the phases:

Realization of Reality

When it finally snapped in my brain that I had in fact blown my knee out, I was deeply saddened, angry, borderline hateful.  I needed time to myself to sort through all of my emotion.  I needed to pity myself, I needed (and thankfully received) the support of my friends, my family, my girlfriend.  I needed my time to cry and to yell and to focus strictly on reacting to what had happened to me.

It’s important to realize that there is an issue and go through the process of being angry about it.  This means you KNOW there is something that needs to be taken care of.  If you’re sitting around one day by yourself after 20 or 30 years and realize wow I’m out of shape, I don’t feel healthy, I don’t feel happy.  Go with that, let it get to you and let yourself be fired up about it.  It’s the first step to changing it.

Decision to Move forward

This may sound like a no-brainer but for many people this is the step that is skipped most often.  After realizing that a ComeBack needs to happen many people quickly look to an infomercial or join a gym hastily, buy protein powders, by gimmicky shoes.  Don’t go straight to poorly developed strategies until you’ve made the important and decisive decision that NO MATTER WHAT you’re going to stick with this.

For myself I had decided that after my surgery I would begin my process of getting better.  I was going to do the rehab by the book and listen to everything that I was told from my Doctors in order to get better and get back.  I only plan on doing something like this once so I wanted to do it right.

Game Plan

My biggest recommendation is to be honest with yourself.  Write out a daily schedule that you WILL follow and stick to for at least 4 weeks before you reassess.  If you have meetings every wednesday afternoon at work don’t schedule to go to the gym at 8pm.  It’s not going to happen and you’re already letting yourself down.  Make a schedule that is realistic and elemental to begin with.  A ComeBack should not be a vastly rushed process, take it slow at first.  Start with going to the gym twice or working out twice a week.  Decide to make slight changes in your diet don’t abruptly cut out all carbs and sugars cold turkey, you’ll set yourself up for failure.

I myself began by trying to lift my leg off the couch by an inch.  Doesn’t matter where you start as long as you DO.

Accept the Ebb and Flow

We’re human.  Humanity is a scary thing sometimes because unlike machines we have to deal with emotions.  Emotions can be powerfully positive as well as incredibly detrimental when it comes to the healing process.  The important thing is to let nature take it’s course.  Throughout my ComeBack I’ve had days where I feel great, I’m feeling stronger and ahead of schedule and there are other days where I’ve needed to sit by myself and cry.  It’s important to allow these feelings to take place and not fight them.  Just like when you should listen if your stomach is growling.  It growls because it’s telling you that your body needs food.  We should follow our emotions.  We’re reacting that way because we need to at the moment so let it happen.

Some days you’ll feel like you’re not making progress fast enough or maybe this is a waste of time.  It’s ok to feel that way but don’t stop, don’t stray from the course.  Keep pushing and keep moving.  Great things are the sum of small things.  So get a little better every day and it will eventually add up.

Don’t go to bed hungry but wake up starving!

Being the older brother of 2 other athletes I’ve always tried to simplify life for my younger brothers as best I can.  I’ve told both of them one thing on more than one occasion.

“In life all that really matters is when you look at yourself in the mirror before bed are you proud of what you see?”

This quote has nothing to do with looks since all 3 of us are ugly.  What it really means is can you sleep well knowing you tried as hard as you could in everything you attempted that day?  Did you train hard at the gym?  Did you finish your work or your paper or your errands with your best effort?  Did you settle whatever arguments or miscommunications you had with your girlfriend or spouse or friends?  Don’t go to bed hungry is a metaphor for don’t leave any unfinished business when you hit the pillow.

But when you wake up every day have your goals set aside and be prepared to attack them.  Know what you want to do when you get to work, know what you want for breakfast, know what your plan is for your workout that day.  Be starving to take on these challenges.

Live in the NOW

We hear this all the time but what does it mean?  When my P.T. was bending my knee back and painfully trying to force my knee to bend again I wasn’t focusing on sprinting and playing lacrosse.  I was focusing on getting my knee to bend (and punching him in the face for making me scream).  The biggest roadblock for someone making their ComeBack is their “futuristic” thoughts.  “I can’t wait to be 4% body fat”  “When will my arms be huge?” “how many lbs should I be to have a 6 pack?”  Zip it.  Get through TODAY.  An Oscar worthy film is not shot in one day while the director sits in a seat for 24 hours yelling, “Let’s skip to the big explosion at the end!”  It’s a sum of very meticulously thought out moments and months of hard work.  And as all of those moments are added up the film finally comes to fruition.  Attack your workout for the day, focus on your meals and be the absolute best you can be THAT DAY.  Pretty soon a good day turns into a good week, which becomes a great month, which becomes the BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE.

Now You’ve achieved the other phases, you’re on a roll and you know that you’re ComeBack is in motion.  What’s the final step?

Never Forget

Don’t forget why you went through this.  Don’t forget why you’re still working to achieve what you believe is greatness.  For me it’s about playing the game that I love again.  It’s about feeling 100% healthy and training and enjoying sports.  For you it might be finally fitting back into the jeans you used to love wearing in college.  It might be getting ready for next summer and looking your absolute best.  Or just like myself you could be coming back from injury.  Whatever it is remember ComeBacks are beautiful but once we’re back…..

Appreciate it.  And ENJOY it.  Here’s to OUR ComeBack.

You can't teach HEART

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Dedicating today to A Great Cause…..

The Pencils of Promise

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Lacrosse Edition: Myth Beasters

We have myths in every part of life that we have to deal with.  “If I shave my face, it will grow back darker and thicker”  Oh yea?  Then how come balding men all over the world just don’t whip out the mach 3 on their scalp to cure their situation?  “If I make a funny face too long it will get stuck that way.”  I’ve been making funny faces the majority of my life and I turned out fine.  But in the strength and conditioning arena we have different kinds of ridiculous myths.  These types of myths can either injure an athlete or just prevent them from ever reaching their true potential.  Thus, I felt it was my duty as an athlete and a strength coach to dominate a few of these popular myths for you out there.

Myth 1:  Lifting weights will make me better at lacrosse.

FALSE.  The only thing that improves your skill level in your sport is playing your sport.

Strength, speed, muscular endurance and the ability to recover are important virtues for an athlete to have, but these things will not improve your cradle, elevate your passing accuracy, your field vision or you face-off technique.  You need to dedicate your time equally between your strength training and your skill sets in order to truly become an elite player.

Myth 2:  I need to train with a “Speed and Agility Coach” to be faster.

FALSE.  This may hurt some feelings, but luckily for all of us I don’t care.  If someone comes to you offering their services as a Speed and Agility Coach and that coach does not include weight training in his/her programs then there is one solution.  Laugh in their face.  Ask any elite strength coach at any division 1 program in the country about true speed, explosiveness and quickness and they will all tell you the same thing.  Optimally, you can not increase speed, quickness, neurological function and explosiveness without external loads.  This means that you can run around cones and hop up and down all day but if you don’t introduce resistance to your body then your body will never learn to increase it’s work capacity.  Let’s make this as clear as possible, if you never add resistance then your nervous system doesn’t adapt.  If your nervous system doesn’t adapt your muscles don’t respond.  If your muscles don’t respond then you never get stronger.  If you never get stronger you just threw away a whole summer filled with time and money to an idiot with a whistle who played you for a fool.

Myth 3:  I need Sports Specific training.

FALSE:  I LOVE this theory because so many terrible trainers have made tons of money off of selling this to people.  You readers seem fairly intelligent so let me ask you a question.  What does soccer, basketball, football, lacrosse, hockey and tennis have in common? (I left out baseball because we’re talking about REAL athletes).  They all require you to have sprint endurance, a strong midsection, a strong lower body, comparable upper body strength, flexibility, injury resistance, and the ability to recover from game to game.  NOW, ask yourself why would I train an athlete any different for any of these sports?  I wouldn’t, not on the surface anyway.  Every athlete in every sport benefits from deadlift, squat, pull-ups, bench press, push press, olympic lift variations.  The core type of athletic training benefits everyone.  So there is no such thing as “Sports specific.”  However, there IS such a thing as “Skill specific” training.  For instance if I had an entire training session set up amongst a lacrosse team, I would have the entire team go through a dynamic warm-up together, train through our core lifts for the day and finish with some muscular endurance training.

Chicks dig grip strength.

After these main components of the session I would then have my face-off men for instance, finish with a few farmer carries, and grab the hammers for supination exercises to strengthen the wrists and forearms.  That’s an example of skill specific training.  It’s an addition to the imperative strength training that every athlete should focus on.

Myth 4:  I need to train my balance.



When an athlete asks me about balance training my simple and immediate response is, “Do you fall a lot?”  If the answer is yes then you obviously have a neurological disorder and should be admitted to a hospital.  If the answer is no then why…….Oh why……would we ever waste our time on squishy balls?  Don’t answer that.  The playing field is not a giant blue ball or a slippery board or a piece of uneven wood.  The playing field is grass so why would we try to improve our balance by training on something that literally does not exist in the real world?  I’m going to let all of you in on a little secret.  Balance is directly correlated to two things.  Strength and experience.  If you are strong from training your body with multiple joints on multiple plains then you won’t have any issues with balance as your body will be able to fight off external resistance in multiple directions and maintain it’s speed, durability and quickness.  Let me give you an example of what I mean by experience.  If you’re an attackman and you are dodging from X for the first time against a new defender he may have a habit of shoving your hips just as you try to use your split dodge which may surprise you and throw off your balance for a step or two.  Later in the game when you try your split again and feel him jab your hip you will be ready and most likely keep your balance and roll off of it.  There is no substitute for game experience or strength.  So ditch the idea of “balance” training.

There is plenty to come and if you have specific questions in the future feel free to message me and I’ll be happy to answer them in my future blogs.  This was just a few myths to chew on since I don’t want to overload your fragile little minds with too much info at once.  After all, you’re laxers.


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Women’s Brawlic ReSolution 2011 Program PHASE 1

It’s your turn ladies.  Drop the yoga pants, leave that smelly spin studio and take off those stupid god for saken “shape ups.”  Here is your program and just like I told the men……….you have officially run out of excuses.  12 weeks.  Be dedicated and be prepared to finally be happy.  Anything in life that is worth having, is worth fighting for.  And that includes your body, your health and your happiness.  I did my part, it’s time for you to do yours.  Good luck.

Brawlic Resolution Phase 1 ft Tora

Bodies like this don't grow on trees, or spin bikes, or funny shoes.

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Official Men’s 2011 Brawlic ReSolution Program. PHASE I

Hot off the press and ready to Rock.  This is the program that took a lot of effort from myself and Ari to bring you as close as we can to a day of training.  Each day has a link sending you to it’s correlated video.  On each video we give you descriptions of what we are doing and why.  You’re excuses are gone, your motivation comes from within and now you have the program from us to help you have the year that you deserve.



I believe in you guys.  The real question is, do you believe in yourself?

If so, then believe in me and what I have for you.  Put it in my hands and ask me what you will.  You will be successful.  You will be happy.  Don’t you deserve that?  Sure you do.

Let’s get Better today.


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