Why Body Part Splits Suck

Here’s the problem: ⁣

🏋🏼‍♀️You go to the gym on Monday and only use your chest & triceps.⁣
🏋🏽‍♂️On Tuesday, you only work on your back & biceps.⁣
🏋🏼‍♀️Wednesday, you move in a fixed motion on a cardio machine for 30 minutes⁣
🏋🏽‍♂️Thursday comes and you work only your legs & abs.⁣
🏋🏼‍♀️And then your next workout targets just your shoulders (and maybe a last ditch effort for your embarrassingly small calves🤐)⁣

Then you go to play your sport on the weekends (maybe that long run or ride, pick-up game, round of golf, or martial arts class), and:⁣ ⁣
1. You feel so physically awkward 🤭⁣
2. You’re surprised at how out of shape you still feel 😓⁣
3. You’re dangerously sore (verging on injured) in some places 🤕⁣

When you work body parts in isolation, it’s not a surprise when they don’t work well together in real life activities.⁣

Plus, when you spot-target the big muscle groups, you often⁣
✴️Overlook the little stabilizer muscles that hold all the pieces together⁣
✴️make certain muscles (like the quads or rectus abdominis) disproportionately stronger than others⁣

Instead, try structuring your workouts around foundational movements:⁣
and do something on one leg 🦵🏽 ⁣

…And if you’re sick and tired of trying to figure this all out by yourself and you just want results, reach out!

Apply here

Could your diet use more veggies?

I’m going to guess that your diet could use more veggies 🥦. I’ll be honest, there are some days where mine could too!🥒

Vegetables contribute important micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc.) which are essential for optimizing many body processes, and they also help increase the volume of food you are eating (therefore improving satiety).

When you are building your meals, I suggest: 🥗
➡️Starting with your protein source first (20-40 grams worth)
➡️Adding in veggies second (aiming for 1-2 cups)
➡️Then strategically portioning your carbs
➡️And sprinkling in your fat sources

Two of my go-to strategies for including more veggies are:

✅Packaged salad mixes (the one pictured is my latest favorite)—I assemble this salad in a big tupperware (to last a couple of days) and can easily portion it on the side of any meal or mix with a leftover protein source for an easy chicken/steak/fish salad.

✅Fresh pre-cut/washed veggies that come in a microwavable bag—Follow the directions, microwave the bag, and toss the veggies into meals. No dish washing required!
How do you get veggies into your diet?

ACL Injury Risk Reduction Pt.1

ACL injuries are an epidemic among athletes, especially female athletes (4-6x greater risk than their male counterparts), with serious, lifelong implications.
An ACL tear takes 6-9 months to rehab (at the least), 24% sustain a secondary rupture within a year of returning to their sport, and
at least a third have knee osteoarthritis within 10 years.
The ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is a piece of fibrous connective tissue spanning from the tibia to the femur, preventing the tibia (lower leg) from sliding forward of the femur (upper leg).
The ACL is most stressed when the knee is fully extended (straightened) or bent inward toward the midline of the body (called knee valgus). This can happen when athletes land more erect from jumps or when athletes’ knees collapse inward during decelerations, landings, planting, cutting, or pivoting (movements which happen a lot in most sports).
The tragic thing about this awful injury is that there are a lot of ways to significantly reduce its risk factors but the majority of athletes are not doing them🤦🏽‍♀️. Research has shown that just 20 minutes of specific exercises performed consistently, 2-3 times a week, can reduce ACL injury rate 88%!
Do you want to know what you should be working on?🤷🏽‍♀️
It’s simple! Just remember the 3 B’s:
Balance (on one leg)
Biomechanics (of jumping and landing)
Backside (strengthen your glutes 🍑and hamstrings)
2-3 times per week train these three elements for 20 minutes and you will be helping your knees out so much!
Here are 3 exercises to get you started:
✅Balance: Single Leg Rotational Med Ball Wall Taps
✅Biomechanics: Base Landing —> Drop Jump
✅Backside: Kettlebell Deadlift

#1 Piece of Nutrition Advice

Eat More Protein.

Do you want to eat in a way that supports what you do in the gym 💪🏼or on the field⚾️?

The number one piece of nutrition advice that I give to almost every athlete/active individual I encounter is to eat 3-5 meals per day and center each around 20-40 grams of protein.

Protein helps to fuel, build, maintain, and repair muscle, supports many body processes, and increases satiety between meals.

What does 20-40 grams of protein look like?

Well, it’s a bit more protein than the ONE egg (6-7g) or egg white (4-5g) some have at breakfast.

4-8🥚egg whites or 3-6 eggs
4-6 oz 🍗lean protein (white fish, chicken, lean ground meat)
1-2 scoops🥤 whey protein
1.5-2.5 oz beef jerky

(Jerky Pro Tip: read the ingredients label to find jerky without sugar/corn syrup. I’ve had the best luck on Amazon)

After you have your protein, add veggies🥗 then carbs🍚 and/or a dash of fat🥜


Eating for success!

An update on life and thoughts on stiff upper backs

055F337F-1859-4789-9A6B-C21C41B26486Hello and good evening/afternoon/morning to those of you who still follow my blog (although it’s been dormant for a while) and to those who perchance have happened upon my writings.


Between my recent readings which have included Tribes (Seth Godin) and The War of Art (Steven Pressfield), maturation in my work as a strength and conditioning coach, and recent entrance into the gauntlet of fire that is the first term of my DPT (doctorate of physical therapy) program, I’ve felt a calling to write more. If I want professional writing to be a part of my career, I’ve come to the realization that I should approach writing as a regular endeavor rather than “waiting” for the perfect inspiration to strike. Here it goes.

My aim of today’s post, and the others to come, is to share:

  • my journey in education and life
  • my raw opinions, thoughts, and unanswered questions on topics relating to physical therapy, movement, mindset, nutrition, and training
  • some insights and tips I think could benefit other practitioners, athletes, and everyday folks in the realms of physical, mental, and emotional self-care

I go through phases of curiosity over different areas of the body and pathological movement patterns I see around me. As of late, upper back “tightness”  (specifically in the region of the top three or four vertebral segments of the thoracic spine) has been on my radar (although, I really dislike the use of the word “tight” as a qualification due to its ambiguity but at this point, I don’t know a better alternative), and I’ve been seeing needs to remedy it everywhere. My mom who is a runner swings her arms from her glenohumeral joints while her scaps and upper back remain fixed and the other day, woke up at 4:30am up with a non-traumatic spasm in her upper back and neck that was so bad she was nauseous and couldn’t move for hours. My dad and two of my training clients, all of whom spend long hours seated at computers, lack rotation in those upper thoracic segments and have recently developed anterior/middle shoulder aching and pinching sensations in the proximal regions of their shoulders. I, personally, have also worked around my own cervicogenic “tension” headaches that occur from workouts or during times of stress (read: sitting in school or studying for long hours) for the last couple of years, and I believe a stiff upper back to be a contributor.


The cluster of associated signs includes some degree of an anterior head carriage, tight upper traps/pec minor/levators/scalenes/SCMs SCOMs, and/or internally rotated shoulders (yes, I’m pretty much describing upper cross syndrome). Really, who doesn’t have some degree of UXS nowadays?  With such prevalence, I think it’s important for me, as a practitioner, to learn how to address it, but I get frustrated because I haven’t figured it out yet (and I don’t think that many practitioners have either). I’m constantly running into sticking points with myself and my clients, and I think that sticking points arise when a prescribed intervention addresses a symptom of a problem rather than the root cause or only part of a more complex root cause. For example, massaging an individual’s tight levator might provide temporary relief, but without addressing the reason that muscle is tight, it will undoubtedly get tight again. Performing a thoracic spine mobilizing intervention (i.e., spinal manipulation, “open the book,” “thread the needle,” etc.) may be a good step in the process of alleviating upper back issues but if the root cause is related to suboptimal respiration mechanics (for example, excessive use of accessory musculature), the 20,000 breaths an individual takes in a day utilizing those dysfunctional mechanics are going to quickly revert any progress made until addressed.

As I type these thoughts, the conclusion I’ve arrived at for today (and it may be different tomorrow) is that the best way to address upper back “tightness” is

1) to learn how to differentially assess each of these areas, including breathing, soft tissue quality, strength/capacity of affected musculature (MMT), mobility, and mechanics in a way that helps identify weak/dysfunctional links and address those specifically.



2) continue learning and refer to other practitioners when problems arise that are out of your scope

As a final thought, any interventions/treatments done only once will not completely solve problems that have occurred over many days/months/years. Consistency with an intervention over a period of time is the only way to create and enforce the desired adaptations.

What are your thoughts on this topic? How do you assess and approach it? Do you run into sticking points with your clients/self?

Yours in Movement,


Bucket List


The idea of a bucket list became popular after the release of a 2007 movie, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, where two terminally ill men go on a road trip with a wish list of things to do before they “kick the bucket.”

A bucket list often refers to the goals one wants to fulfill, dreams one wishes to achieve, and life experiences one desires to have before dying. You may think that the idea of a bucket list is dark and depressing because it references death, but life is only precious because it ends. A reference to our mortality is a reminder of our vitality, a reminder to live life to the fullest and stay aware of how we are prioritizing our precious time.

What does it mean to you to be alive

Is it comfort? discomfort? energy? pain? pleasure? struggle? adventure? love? need? potential? humor?

A couple quotes to ponder on the topic:

“Live for 5am sunrises and 5pm sunsets where you’ll see colors in the sky that are stunning. Live for the times with music in your ears and the wind in your hair. Live for days when you’re surrounded by your favorite people who make you realize that the world is not a cold, harsh place. Live for the little things because they will make you realize that this is what life is about, this is what it means to be alive.” –Unknown internet source


“I enjoy life when things are happening. I don’t care if it’s good things or bad things. That means you’re alive. ” –Joan Rivers

“You’re alive. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you change the world, the world will change.” –Neil Gaiman


If you had one day, one week, one month, or one year left to live, what would be on your bucket list?

A little over a week ago, I had the opportunity to cross something off of my bucket list. I bungee jumped 100 feet off a bridge, called the bridge to nowhere, and I did it twice, once facing forward and once facing backward. It was perfectly safe, but terrifying all the same. I think, aside from voluntarily jumping off that platform, the hardest part of the experience was the 5-mile hike there. Five miles of thinking about what I was about to do, and that was preceded by checking in with our guides in the parking lot where we were asked to rate how scared we were to jump on a scale of 1-10. I told them “3” but to ask me again in 2 hours.

Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 9.44.44 PM

An internet search revealed the top 5 bucket list items are:

  1. See the Northern Lights
  2. Skydive
  3. Get a tattoo
  4. Swim with dolphins
  5. Go on a cruise

Why should you have a bucket list?

When the daily routines of life set in, it can be easy to let the days pass without taking much thought for your goals and desires. We get stuck in our routines, in what is familiar, and life passes us by rather quickly. A bucket list helps to guide us out of our comfort zones to new experiences, new goals, and new memories so that we make the most of our time. It also helps us to re-energize. After bungee jumping last weekend, my perspective on life felt refreshed, my focus was sharper, and I felt more empowered to work toward my dreams. The last purpose of a bucket list is it helps us find our “why?” and define what is important in our lives. Why do we work so hard, if not to enjoy the fruits of our efforts at times.

My Bucket List (for now):


  1. Bachelor’s Degree (April 2014)
  2. Master’s Degree
  3. Doctorate/PhD
  4. Get Engaged (November 2014)
  5. Get Married
  6. Have a kid
  7. Bench Press 200#
  8. Deadlift 300#
  9. Squat 225#
  10. Officiate a wedding
  11. Get a tattoo
  12. Compete in powerlifting
  13. Run a spartan race
  14. Run a marathon June 2010
  15. Run a triathlon  2014
  1. Give a speech to an audience of 100
  2. Give a speech to an audience of 500
  3. Give a TEDX Talk
  4. Get an article I’ve written published
  5. Build IG to 1000 subscribers
  6. Build IG to 5000 Subscribers
  7. Work full time in my own business
  8. Meet Bret Contreras
  9. Meet Dan John
  10. Meet Eric Cressey
  11. Meet Mike Boyle
  12. Meet Lewis Howes
  13. Make $4000 per month
  14. Attend SFMA course
  15. Train a professional athlete
  16. Train a celebrity
  17. Write a book
  18. Get interviewed for an article or podcast
  19. Have a professional photoshoot  2017
  1. Climb Mt Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)
  2. Scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
  3. Run with the bulls (Pamplona, Spain)
  4. Visit Pompeii, Italy 2011
  5. Rock Climb in Yosemite Near Tanaya Lake in 2016
  6. Hike the JMT
  7. See the Northern Lights
  8. Hang glide
  9. Experience the Rio Carnival Parade
  10. Climb Machu Picchu
  11. Climb Mt. Whitney
  12. Hike through Spain
  13. Skydive
  14. Dog Sled
  15. Ride a Zipline
  16. Hike the Zion Narrows
  17. Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  1. Professional Basketball Game
  2. Professional Football Game
  3. Professional Baseball Game
  4. Backstage concert passes
  5. Attend a red carpet event
  6. Hike Holy Jim Trail to Santiago Peak (15 miles, moderate, dogs allowed)
  7. Red Rock Canyon hike at Whiting Ranch (4.2 miles total, no dogs)
  8. Sutton Peak hike (9.2 miles, dogs allowed)
  9. Modjeska Peak hike (15 miles, hard, dogs allowed)
  10. Hike/Backpack around Catalina
  11. Hike Blackstar canyon (7.1, moderate, dogs allowed)

What does it mean to you to be alive? If you had one day, one week, one month, or one year left to live, what would be on your bucket list?

Type 3 Diabetes, Growing body of evidence


There is a recent emergence in scientific research regarding an association between insulin and Alzheimer’s disease: it has been termed Type 3 Diabetes (Ahmed, Mahmood, & Zahid, 2015). Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that is age-related and characterized by intracellular neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) and amyloid-beta plaques. Common findings in the brains of afflicted individuals show impairments of energy metabolism and glucose utilization, as well as insulin receptor, insulin, and IGF deficiency (Ahmed et al., 2015).


Insulin plays a role in regulating energy homeostasis in the hypothalamus, and insulin receptors are widely distributed throughout the brain, especially in the hippocampus, amygdala, and septum (Ahmed et al., 2015). The hippocampus, of note, regulates acquisition and consolidation of memory, and there may be a role of insulin in potentiating memory. Non-diabetic Alzheimer’s patients have manifested increased levels of peripheral insulin resistance biomarkers in their hippocampi. A potential mechanism suggested is that progressive insulin resistance in the brain may increase expression of cerebral inflammatory mediators leading to oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction and a self-propagating cycle of neurotoxicity from oxidative stress and amyloid-beta deposits.

Growing evidence associating Alzheimer’s disease with insulin resistance further highlights the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight and not consuming excessive amounts of sugars and fats in our diets.

To learn more about insulin check out my article: Be More Sensitive…To Insulin!


Ahmed, S., Mahmood, Z., & Zahid, S. (2015). Linking insulin with Alzheimer’s disease: Emergence as type III diabetes. Neurological Sciences, 36, 1763-1769.

Your ability to sit on the floor and get back up is more important than you may think!

Getting to the ground and back up is a fairly complicated motor skill which can vary in difficulty based on one’s surroundings and physical limitations. There are many ways to accomplish this task involving movements such as squatting, lunging, kneeling, or bending over, and it requires lower body mobility, strength, and stability as well as a certain amount of comfort being on the floor. Not only is one’s ability to get to the floor and back up an important predictor of mortality, but it is also crucial for many activities of daily life as well as for recovery in the event of a fall (de Brito et al., 2012; Wang et al., 2016). Fall risk is a great concern, especially in older adults due to the injuries, disability, and reduction in quality of life that a fall can cause. Many studies have reported that reduced muscle strength in the lower extremities raises the risk of failing (Wang, D. et al., 2016).


A study by de Brito et al. (2012) scored 2,002 adults ages 51 to 80 years old on their ability to sit down on the floor and get back up. They were scored out of 10 possible points and deductions were made for the use of another body part or the floor for support while getting down or back up. The researchers followed up with the individuals over the next six years, and 159 of the participants died. Every point increase in a person’s test score correlated with a 21% reduction in his or her risk of death in the next six years. While this is a correlation study and evidence of correlation isn’t evidence of causation, the association between movement ability and mortality is hard to ignore.

Try it out now. Start by standing up. Sit down on the floor using your hands or other objects as little as possible. Every time you use something for assistance, subtract one point from five. Stand up from the floor using as little help from hands and objects as possible. Subtract one point from five each time you use hands or objects for assistance. Add your results from getting down (a number out of 5) and getting up (a number out of 5) for your score out of 10. Each point less than 10 increases the probability of death in the next six years by 21%. Are you ok with your score? Keep reading to learn how to improve!

If getting down to the floor and/or up is nearly impossible for you: 

Here are three simple exercise progressions you can work through over the next 6-8 weeks.

  1. Sit to stand
  2. Lowering and raising in a split stance (similar to a lunge)
  3. Step ups

Sit to stand

Select a box or chair that is a comfortable height. Sit down to it and stand back up without using your hands or assistance. Progress to tapping your butt on the box instead of entirely transferring your weight onto it, and gradually lower the box to increase the distance you raise and lower yourself. This increases comfort with getting down to and up from progressively lower seats and strengthens the leg muscles necessary to do so. If you progress to the point where you can lower and raise yourself to a point at more than 90-degrees of knee flexion, progress this exercise to include lying down. In this variation, sit/squat down to the low position, transfer all your weight to the box, and lie all the way down. To reverse the movement, sit up from lying supine and squat up from that position.


Lowering and raising in a split stance

Slightly lower and raise your body (bending the front and back knees) in a split stance position using TRX straps for support. With practice, increase the distance you lower and raises your body, and then decrease the amount of assistance used to stabilize from two TRX straps to one strap to no assistance. This exercise increases comfort and stability in the split stance position one uses to get up from the ground, and it strengthens the leg muscles which are important for the movement.


Step ups

Step up to a small platform using one leg. Similar to the other exercises, this will increase leg strength, stability in a single leg stance, and comfort in a movement pattern one can use to get up from the ground. Progress by increasing the repetitions of step ups performed on each leg and the height of the platform you are stepping up to.


The next step:

Once you can get down to the ground and back up with relative ease, I’d suggest including a Fall Matrix in your workout warm-up once a week.

  1. Start standing. Place one hand on your same-side knee. Lay down, with your back against the floor and stand back up without removing the hand from your knee. Then lay down with your stomach on the floor without removing the hand from your knee, and stand back up. Optional: Lay down with your right side on the floor, and stand back up. Then repeat on the left side.
  2. Repeat these 4 variations touching the other side’s hand to its same-side knee.
  3. Repeat these 4 variations touching one hand to the opposite side knee.
  4. Repeat these 4 variations touching the other side’s hand to its opposite side knee.

Progress these exercises by touching your hand to a body part lower than the knee, for example, place your hand below the knee, on your shin, on your ankle, on your toes.

Like many things with our bodies, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Get on the ground and back up regularly so you don’t lose your ability to!

de Brito, L. B., Ricardo, D. R., de Araujo, D. S., Ramos, P. S., Myers, J., & de Araujo, C. G. (2012). Ability to sit and rise from the ground as a predictor of all-cause mortality. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. doi: 10.1177/2047487312471759
Wang, D., Zhang, J., Sun, Y., Zhu, W., Tian, S., & Liu, Y. (2016). Evaluating the fall risk among elderly population by choice step reaction test. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 11, 1075-1082. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S106606

Internal vs External Attentional Focus? It depends…

Verbal instructions given to individuals who are learning motor tasks have two types of attentional focuses, externally-focused and internally focused cues. Instructions with an external focus of attention refer to the effects of body movements instead of the movements themselves while internally focused cues directly address the movement of the body or specific body parts (Poolton, Maxwell, Masters, & Raab, 2005). Sam Leahey has good examples of internal and external cues for various exercises and movements in this article.  Whether the use of externally-focused versus internally-focused cues is more efficacious in the learning of motor tasks is controversial in the research.


Like many topics in Kinesiology, I believe the answer to which attentional focus is better, internal or external, is it depends. What is the purpose of performing the targeted skill? If one is performing a squat, is he or she trying to move better, increase aesthetics (i.e., muscle size), or achieve a weightlifting PR? If a client is doing squats to move better, internal cues may be more effective for optimizing positioning of the knees, feet, and chest. In clients with aesthetic goals, the aim of squatting may be to increase gluteus hypertrophy. Research performed by Calatayud et al. (2016) demonstrated that an internal focus of attention on using certain muscles while performing a bench press increased muscle activity in the specific muscles on loads under 80% of 1RM. Lastly, when the goal of squatting is maximal strength, an external attentional focus is likely to result in better performance according to a study by Halperin, Williams, Martin, and Chapman (2015). They observed that participants with external focuses of attention exerted 9% more force on an isometric mid-thigh pulling exercise compared to participants with internal focuses.

In many studies, performance outcome measures are used to demonstrate the effectiveness of external attentional focus. In research by Wulf, Gartner, McConnel, and Schwarz (2002) task success is measured by how accurately participants hit target areas. The study by Poolton et al. (2005) judged success from accuracy on the putting task. Not all sports training and fitness activities have these kinds of outcome-based goals. Many who weightlift can display impressive amounts of strength despite under-recruiting certain muscles like the gluteal muscles or use of risky techniques. Internal cuing may be warranted to improve recruitment of proper muscles. Volleyball players can focus on jumping faster and higher all day, but if they exhibit knee valgus or other form flaws their success potential is limited and their injury risk is heightened. Internal cues may be necessary to bring a conscious focus back to a pattern that was learned incorrectly.


Calatayud, J., Vinstrup, J., Jakobsen, M. D., Sundstrup, E., Brandt, M…Anderson, L. L. (2016). Importance of mind-muscle connection during progressive resistance training. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 116(3): 527-533.

Halperin, I., Williams, K., Martin, D. T., & Chapman, D. W. (2015). The effects of attentional focusing instructions on force production during the isometric mid-thigh pull. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001194

Poolton, J. M., Maxwell, J. P., Masters, R. S., & Raab, M. (2005). Benefits of an external focus of attention: Common coding or conscious processing? Journal of Sports Sciences, 24(1): 89-99.


Intrinsic motivation describes one’s internal drive to participate, exert effort, and be persistent when engaging in an activity. Intrinsically motivated individuals partake in an activity simply due to the pleasure and satisfaction derived from the activity itself (Hunter, 2008).  Not surprising, it is a huge factor in long-term exercise program adherence. As a person who takes on clients working toward specific fitness goals, it is part of my job to keep them committed to their goals so they are successful. Cultivating a client’s intrinsic motivation is an important part of this.

Hunter (2008) identifies three facets of intrinsic motivation: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Autonomy means that a client has some control over his or her workout. One way I like to give clients autonomy is by letting them choose the weight they want to lift during exercises, within my parameters (i.e., they can lift the weight with good technique, they are not risking injury, the weight corresponds to my desired intensity, etc.). I also ask clients or the kids in my group classes for feedback on exercises. For example, I’ll ask the kids if any of the exercises are too easy or too hard, or which exercise is their favorite or least favorite of the exercises in a circuit. These choices involve my clients in the decision-making aspects of their workouts while keeping them on track to meet their goals.

Competence describes a client’s belief in his or her ability to perform a task. Hunter (2008) suggests providing ample opportunities for clients to practice performing quality skills. I start many of my youth strength and conditioning classes with 5-10 minutes of jumping rope, and many kids do not do this well, at first. I provide the beginners with lots of positive feedback and encouragement in their first classes. In just a few weeks of practice, at the start of every class, kids will master the basics of jumping rope. For many, improving so much in such a short time is a big confidence booster.

Relatedness is the third component of intrinsic motivation that refers to an individual’s connection or sense of belongingness to a group (Hunter, 2008). I actually had a shocking moment yesterday when, after teaching my gym’s level 1 strength and conditioning class to two boys of similar size and age, I asked them if they knew each other’s name and neither did! A lot of kids develop relationships with the coaches at the gym, which fosters some relatedness, but I could definitely do more to develop connections between the kids in my classes.

A study by Evans, Cooke, Murray, and Wilson (2014) explored how the temporal proximity of anticipated positive outcomes affected intrinsic motivation. Proximal outcomes were defined as the benefits that occur immediately during or within a few hours of a single exercise bout, whereas distal outcomes occur after days, months or years of consistent physical activity. This study demonstrated that the intrinsic motivation of subjects with lower levels of past physical activity significantly increased when they were exposed to proximal outcomes compared to distal.

As a coach and trainer, I’ve always understood the importance of motivating others (and myself) with the positive benefits of consistent exercise, but my temporal outcome differentiation was between short-term outcomes (in the next month or two) and long-term outcomes (in 6 months to a year). The idea of focusing on immediate outcomes from single workouts is fantastic. I may not be the greatest example because I generally enjoy exercise, but reading through the list of proximal positive outcomes from the study has really motivated me to workout tonight. I may even print it out and post it by my desk. I love the idea of encouraging clients to make lists of proximal positive outcomes or reference the one from this study, and I think it could go a long way in developing intrinsic motivation with exercise.

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 7.22.57 PM.png

Previous studies have reported the effect motivational climate has on an athlete. The perception of a mastery motivational climate, emphasizing “learning, effort, improvement, and success determined by self-reference criteria,” has been demonstrated to increase intrinsic motivation (Brinkman-Majewski & Weiss, 2015).  This is opposite of a performance motivational climate, where success is determined in competition to others, leading to increased anxiety and less satisfaction (Brinkman-Majewski & Weiss, 2015). Creating mastery motivational climates with fitness clients could be done as a coach by not comparing clients to each other and highlighting personal PRs and improvements. Especially when working with kids whose sense of self is in a more formative stage, emphasizing task-involved goal orientations could increase the perception of the motivational climate, thereby influencing intrinsic motivation.


Brinkman-Majewski, R. E. & Weiss, W. M. (2015). Examination of the motivational climate in the athletic training room. Journal of Sports Behavior, 38(2), 143-160.

Evans, M. B., Cooke, L. M., Murray, R. A., & Wilson, A. E. (2014). The sooner, the better: Exercise outcome proximity and intrinsic motivation. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being, 6 (3), 347-361. doi:10.1111/aphw.12032

Hunter, S. D. (2008). Promoting intrinsic motivation in clients. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 30(1), 52-54.