Tag Archives: muscle building

23 Ways to Kick Ass in Life and in the Gym

Guys, this post fires me up.  It’s a quick hitting list that will help you make immediate positive changes in your life, and will lead to unreal gains in the gym.  These are not hard to follow, so you have no excuses not to.  Besides, who doesn’t want to kick ass?

Take these and use at least half of them.  If you want to be a real ass kicker, live by them all.

#1 Wake Up Early — The earlier you wake up, the more you get done in the day.  The more you get done, the more successful you are.  Plain and simple.  From my experience, not many good things happen at night anyway.

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#2 Lift Heavy — Whether you just want to look good naked, or you want to compete in strongman competitions, you gotta lift heavy.  Building foundational strength is the key to gaining mass, burning fat, and shattering your previous limitations in the gym.

#3 Be Confident — Look around you and pick out the most successful people in your life.  I bet you 100% of them are confident.  Confidence will make you not only feel good about yourself, but it will shine to anyone who is watching you.  When you go out to a social setting, who attracts the most attention?  The confident “successful” people do, not the wallflowers.  Confidence breeds success.

#4 Embrace Failure — Failure is not a bad thing.  It is an opportunity.  Everyone fails.  If you haven’t failed at something, you aren’t challenging yourself enough.  Push your limits.  If you fail, learn from it.  You will come back stronger and ready to kick ass, and eventually you will succeed.

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#5 Take Risks
— Success doesn’t come to the timid.  Ask some of the most successful people in the world how they got there, I guarantee they took a few risks along the way.

#6 Turn Weaknesses Into Strengths — Weaknesses are limitations and you never want to limit yourself.  Identify where you are weak and attack it; don’t be afraid of it.  If you want to get better at something, you must improve your deficiencies.  I know where I’m weak and you better believe that is where I’m concentrating a lot of my time.

#7 Read Daily — Ever heard the phrase “train smarter, not harder”?  Hardcore meatheads might scoff at this remark, but there is merit in it.  If you train or live like an idiot, chances are you won’t be going very far.  Read.  Educate yourself.  The smarter you are, the better prepared you will be for future challenges you may face.

#8 Lay Off the Junkfood — It’s called junkfood for a reason; it’s junk.  Don’t eat it.  Period.

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#9 Do Deadlifts — Deadlifts are the undisputed #1 strength training exercise you can do.  It works your entire body and will build mass on your posterior chain faster than anything else.  If you want to get big and strong, you must do these.  Get in there, grip it and rip it.

#10 Drop the Baggage — Negative people suck.  I don’t care who it is, friends, family, colleagues; you can’t be exposed to negative influences.  You can do your due diligence and try to make it work, but don’t be afraid to cut the cord.  I’ve done it with people really close to me so I know it can be done.

#11 Set Goals — You must have daily goals and long term goals.  By planning what you do each and every day, you can ensure that you are taking the right steps towards that long term goal.  Success doesn’t happen by luck; have a clear vision and attack it.  This goes for your gym time too; have a plan before you even set foot in the door and get it done!  No more walking around aimlessly.

#12 Be Consistent — Consistency is key.  Nobody ever got good at anything by half-assing it every once in a while.  Habits are formed by being consistent, and the more good habits you adopt, the more likely you are to succeed.  You must grind it out EVERY SINGLE DAY.

#13 Train Like A Kid — Remember back in the day when we were kids?  Running, jumping, throwing stuff.  We were all athletes in some capacity.  It is easy to lose that over time, but that’s exactly how we should train.  Move around in space, sprint, throw heavy balls.  “Kid like” workouts can be fun; it breaks up the monotony and gets us back to our Primal roots.

#14 Get Outside Daily — Goes hand in hand with training like a kid.  Being outside is good for the soul.  So many of us are stuck inside for insane amounts of time these days.  Our bodies were not made for that.  Spend some time outdoors, train outside if you can, and soak up some of that vitamin D.

strength training#15 Try New Things — Doing the same thing over and over again won’t get you anywhere in life or the gym.  If you want to grow as a person, you gotta expose yourself to new experiences.  Live a little!  In the gym, your body adapts to the stimulus you apply to it.  Once it adapts, no new growth or strength will be achieved, so you have to switch up your routines.

#16 Help Others — Doing good deeds for other people makes the world a better place.  I started Primal Strength Camp to help people get stronger.  It helps them and I get a kick out of it too.  Helping each other out is a win/win situation.

#17 Daydream — Take a few minutes a day and just dream.  Think about what you want, strategize how to get there, and visualize your final achievement.  Some of my best revelations and “ah-ha” moments came from daydreaming.

#18 Stretch — “Long muscles are strong muscles”.  One day when you are old and can’t bend over to tie your shoes, you will regret not maintaining adequate levels of flexibility.

#19 Get At Least 8 Hours of Sleep a Day — You grow while you sleep.  8-10 hours is the ideal, but most Americans these days only get about 6.  Its unhealthy!  Turn off the t.v., get off the computer, and get in bed.  Sleep deprivation leads to under-performance, depression and stress.  8 hours, no excuses.

#20 Find a Training Partner — Training partners bring a sense of accountability, motivation, competition, and a visual eye to your gym sessions.  Finding a good one can be hard, but if you can find one, it can make a huge difference.

#21 Crank Up the Intensity — Being intense is crucial.  Focus and channel all of your energy into your workouts.  I have failed at  personal record setting lifts, only to crush them a few minutes later just by cranking up the intensity.  Gym time = Beast mode.

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#22 Do What You Want to Do — Life is too short to be stuck doing a bunch of sh*t you don’t want to do.  Sound selfish?  So what!  Being unhappy all the time isn’t fair to you, and chances are you will be one miserable person to be around, so it really isn’t fair to those around you either.  Do at least one thing per day that makes you happy.

#23 Never, Ever Give Up — Fail, fail, and fail again.  Eventually you will succeed.  Quitting sucks; don’t do it!  You will regret it, guaranteed.  No matter what you are doing, no matter how beat down you feel, no matter how far down the road success seems, never, ever give up.

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— Tank

Rest For Results

Rest can be the most overlooked factor in a training program and it takes a disciplined person to get it right.

You must realize that your rest days are the days you actually grow; you don’t grow the days you are putting in intense sessions in the gym and traumatizing your muscle fibers.  After breaking down your tissue, you need rest days for them to repair and adapt to your training stimulus.  If your goal is to get bigger or stronger, you have to work in days of rest, and even a week of rest at the end of a periodization cycle.

Typical rule of thumb is to take off 24hrs in between normal workouts, and 48 hours after intense ones.  If you are doing an upper/lower split you have a bit more wiggle room than if you were doing total body.



Bottom line is, no matter what days you work out or what your goals are, you need to get in at least one rest day per week.  The older you get, and the more weight you start lifting, this will likely increase.  As a young stud, I was in the gym 7 days a week, guaranteed.  Not all days were lifting heavy, but I never missed a day.  I made some serious gains, but the reality is that this kind of schedule is not sustainable, and will eventually tax your muscles, central nervous system, and could lead to injury.  Rest is vital to your success, no matter how hard it may be for you to accept.


The inverse to not enough rest is too much rest.  I’d argue that far more people have this problem than you would think.  Overtraining is one of those buzz words you’ll hear people throw around in the fitness community, and I’ve been told by other trainers that I am in fact overtraining.

I just laugh and simply let people know that they aren’t training hard enough.  Aside from serious competitive athletes (the kind of guys/gals you see that have sport specific practices 5 days a week, as well as adhering to a strict strength and conditioning program), it is very hard to overtrain.  Gym rats would have to be doing marathon sessions in the gym 7 days a week to achieve a true level of overtraining in my opinion.  Bottom line is I would guess people are undertraining before they ever hit a state of true overtraining.

Active Recovery

On your off days, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to sit around and do nothing.  Active recovery is something all strength athletes should be doing.  On your off days, get outside, go mountain biking, hike, play with your kids, shoot hoops.  Just stay away from the serious lifting for a day.  Let your body recuperate so you come back stronger for your next workout.

Once a week, you can have a day where you lounge around too.  My lounge days are Sundays, where I can sit and watch football. Lounge days are good for people seeking mass gain too; minimum calorie burn and you can eat like a beast while you rest.  If you are not a lounge person, you can stay within the realm of active recovery; but do not exceed this state!

Listen to Your Body

With that being said, your body will tell you when you need rest.  Listen to it.  Do not disobey it.  Chances are, even if you drag yourself to the gym, you will probably have a crappy workout because your body is starving for rest.

Listening to your body is really the easiest thing you can do and the best indicator of when you need rest.  It never lies.

Speaking of rest, it is time for me to get my butt on the road and to the beach!  I’ll have a full weekend of active recovery, and I know I’ll be back bigger and stronger, ready to tackle another training session on Monday.  Learn to rest guys, its important; not only for your body but for your psyche.

Don’t be stubborn!  Get it done!





Top 5 Muscle Building Exercises

Here is a list of the top 5 exercises everyone should be doing to get stronger and build muscle mass.  If you aren’t doing them, you better start!  These are not an option, no excuses.  Get it done.

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#1: Deadlift

Nothing makes you feel manlier than stepping over a huge amount of weight and muscling it up off the floor.

In the earlier stages of my training, I made the rookie mistake of ignoring this.  Don’t be like me.

Deadlifting is the best total body exercise you can do.  Most new lifters are weak in the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, back), so immediately putting this into your routine will help bring up your weaknesses.

If you look at some of the strongest and most impressive physiques around, you will notice the size of their upper back.  Deadlifting will build mass on your traps unlike anything else, and having strong glutes and hamstrings will improve your ability in a lot of other areas; jumping, sprinting, squatting, etc.

Another often overlooked benefit of deadlifting is the improvement it will have on your grip strength.  Getting over the bar and picking up heavy sh*t will improve your grip strength exponentially.

muscle building women

#2: Squats

You know how I tell the difference between serious lifters and “pretenders” at the gym?  The size
of their legs and whether or not I ever see them squat.

You want to be strong, you gotta squat.  Quads, abs, glutes, hamstrings, I can’t think of a better lower body exercise to do.

Squatting is an essential part of your routine.  The beauty of squats is the versatility of the exercise. Bodyweight squats, front squats, back squats, zercher squats, jump squats, the list goes on and on.

But we train for strength here, so start with back squats.  Using a box is a good way to get your form down correctly before you progress to free form squatting.

#3: Bench Press

Want to build a big chest?  Get off the pec dec machine, put down the dumbbells and step away from doing flys.

Get under the bar and move some heavy weight.  Bench pressing is king.  And lets face it.  If you are trying to be an alpha male and impress some people, what’s the first thing most people will ask?

“What do you bench?”muscle building

If you have a choice, set the bench to an incline of about 30 degrees.  It’s a bit easier on the shoulders, and helps incorporate more upper chest into the exercise.  A big upper chest is what most people look for in their physique.

Bench pressing is a great upper body exercise, not only because it builds your chest, but also your triceps, shoulders, and forearms.  I never do direct forearm work and I attribute my growth there to doing rep after rep of heavy bench.

Keep adding weight to the bar and improving this lift.  Aim to bench press 1.5x your bodyweight; that’s an honorable accomplishment.

#4: Overhead Press

Picking up heavy weight and pressing it over your head doesn’t get any more Primal than that.

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Shoulders, upper back, triceps, and core strength are just a few of the areas worked by this classic exercise.  If you perform these standing (which you should be), or progress to a full clean and press, you are talking about an awesome total body exercise.

This press is a great example of an exercise you can do with anything, anywhere.  You name it, you can press it.  Odd objects like kegs, sandbags, stones are awesome tools,
or just your standard barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells.

Regardless of how you are performing the exercise, incorporating heavy military presses in your routine will build some serious upper body strength.

**Note**  NEVER perform these presses behind your head.  I know you’ve seen people do it, doesn’t mean you should.  It’s just an injury waiting to happen, unless you are rigidly strict with your form.

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#5 Farmers Carry

Farmer carries will crush you.  If you want to build some serious mental toughness, start performing these.

The beauty of farmer carries is, like the military press, you can do them anywhere, with anything.  Sandbags, jerry cans, kettlebells, dumbells, stones; just pick up something heavy and walk around with it.

Grip strength, your entire back, forearms; they all get worked over doing this exercise.  If you perform these while only carrying an object in one hand, you will work your obliques and core.

At Primal Strength Camp, we try to emphasize this lift because it’s simplicity and versatility yield great benefits for any kind of lifter.

Honorable Mention

“Only 5 exercises?  These possibly can’t be all you need to do!”

Yep, you are right.  There are a number of exercises you should be doing that aren’t on here.  Maybe one day I’ll expand this to a top 10.

So what didn’t make the cut?

  • Pull-ups — You can argue for these over military press.  Either way, you need to be doing these.
  • Pushups — An oldie but a goodie.
  • Snatches — A great power exercise and overall strength builder.
  • High-Pulls — I’m big on building an impressive back.  These will add meat on your traps.
  • Power cleans — Awesome exercise leading up to incorporating the full clean and press into your routine.

Now What??

Start doing these NOW!  If you want to get bigger and stronger, you have to do these on a regular basis.  If you don’t, you will be missing out on some serious gains and you won’t be meeting your potential in the gym.  There is a reason these have been around forever; it’s because they work!



Primal Strength Meets Strongmen

What’s up Primal Camp???

I’ve been pumped up all day and had to write this post tonight.  I spent the day at the River City Strongman Competition in Richmond, Virginia.  Let me tell you, I saw some strong ass dudes in there today, and a few girls that would give a lot of guys a run for their money too.

The events were the axle press, farmers carry, deadlift, yoke/tire flip medley, and atlas stones.  These guys were impressive.  I saw a couple dudes farmers carry 260lbs in each hand for over 100 feet including a hair pin turn in the course, dudes were clean and pressing 250lbs for reps.  One guy who weighed 175lbs deadlifted 600.  A girl was flipping a 450lb tire like it was a paper plate.  Crazy right?!?

Their mental toughness was off the charts too.  The agony in their faces throughout these events was indescribable, yet they pushed through the pain and got sh*t done.

Watching these guys reminded of my I wanted to start Primal Strength Camp so bad.  Hell, I cranked out a workout as soon as I got home because I was so inspired.  No fads, no gimmicks, no tricks, no bullsh*t.  Just pure brute strength picking up, pressing, and carrying heavy sh*t.  Nothing more Primal than that.

Primal man was made to carry heavy stuff.  He woke up early, hunted, gathered, and carried whatever he took in back to his family.  I can only imagine he hunted some pretty big sh*t and had to carry it all the way back home.  And considering our DNA has only barely changed since those times, it’s up to us to unlock those Primal instincts.

Pick up something heavy today.  It’s what you were made to do.  Don’t waste good genetics.



Oh, by the way, I did an interview with a cool dude at the strongman competition about Primal Strength Camp and our training style, nutrition, cardio, and a variety of other topics.  I’ll post it here as well as on our YouTube channel whenever it becomes available.

Anyhow, he has some great handcrafted strength tools that you should check out.  Homemade yokes, axle bars, farmers carry handles, and a couple of very innovative tools I’ve never seen before that would be great for anyone’s arsenal to get stronger.  He’s passionate about what he does and cares about helping people out.

Check out Jack Niles and his tools at www.JackNilesStrongman.com.  Great guy, good products.

Train Like An Athlete

One of the first things I ask people when assessing how and why they train is to ask them who they want to look like.  The answers I get are almost 100% the same.  Yet, the way they train is completely out of whack with the goals they have.

Let me illustrate.  Take a look at the pics below.  Who would you rather look like?  Jay Cutler or Vernon Davis?

train like an athletetrain like an athlete

Now Jay is huge and impressive, but I’d still venture to guess that most of you picked Vernon Davis on the right.

So let me ask another question.  If you want to look like the guy on the right, why is it that you train like the guy on the left?

The majority of people I see walking around gyms these days are still doing the same sh*t they read out of bodybuilding mags that were idolized decades ago; body part splits, isolation movements, high volume.

If you are a bodybuilder, have at it.  But most of us aren’t getting on that stage any time soon.  We simply want to get bigger, and stronger, and look good with our shirts off.  Most of us want to look like our favorite athletes.  If you want to look like an athlete, you sure as hell better be training like one.

Compound exercises are king.  Squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses, Olympic lifts.

Sprint, jump, move!  No more isolation, no more 80 reps of one body part training session.  Total body training, or for the intermediate to advanced lifter an upper/lower split, is where you should live.

Do you think Vernon spends his time doing bicep curls and lat pulldowns?  The dude is training for strength and power.  He’s doing pull-ups, heavy squats, clean and presses.  He’s doing total body training sessions.  And guess what?  He still looks good doesn’t he?

Choosing a training plan and exercises that recruit more muscle per movement builds more muscle.  Simple right?  Plus you can work with heavier resistance on the compound movements that will boost your strength, and eventually your mass, for you vain pretty boys…

Ditch the bodybuilding routine.  It’s time to train like an athlete.



Who Do You Want To Be?

Alright guys.  Listen up.

I am HUGE on motivation and harnessing the power of the mind.  Those with a strong mindset and driven personality will go further in this life than those lacking unbreakable mental toughness.  No way around it.


Take the time to watch this video clip.  If this doesn’t get you pumped up, man, I don’t know what to tell ya.  Really listen and think about his message.  Apply it to your own life.  If you’ve lost that hunger, now is the time to get it back.  Time to make a stronger you!


— Tank

Time To Start The Evolution

What’s up everyone!  Primal Strength Camp has been a long time in the making and I am psyched that this dream has come true!

Strength training is my passion, plain and simple.  I live for this stuff.  I’m thinking about it constantly, and I live to share my experiences and advice with you.  Primal Strength Camp is the result of years of training, lots of hard work, overcoming failure, celebrating victories, and the endless pursuit of becoming a better and STRONGER man.

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I encourage everyone to check this site frequently as I will make it a dynamic place to be and a great resource for you.  Learn to live the Primal way and get stronger as a person, not only on the outside but inside as well.  Strength is not an overnight gift, its a lifelong evolution.  I encourage you to start yours today.  Be sure to sign up for the newsletter and receive your free gift!  We will never share your information, and I will not spam you with useless crap.  Any and all communication from me will be geared towards making you STRONGER and I will not waste your time, guaranteed!

— Tank