12 Lessons from the Year of the Apocalypse: Part One

By: Kory Allen

I always loved lists of hints, tips and lessons posted by people far wiser than myself.

I don’t know whether it was just the simplicity that lists like this radiate but I would sit there and try and soak up each tip and lesson finding a way to apply in my training, nutrition or life in general. Coaches like John Berardi and Eric Cressey would drop knowledge bombs and I couldn’t help but stand in the fire.

If I can get at least one of the following lessons I experienced in 2012 to enrich your life, then my job here is complete.

1. I was wrong – core work is necessary, sometimes you can’t just squat and deadlift until your abs work

I used to laugh at people who took precious lifting time to work their abz. This year I was like “hell, all these people are doing it so let’s see what all the noise is about”. Starting rolling out using the ab wheel while listening to Ludacris and by golly overhead press went up, squats went up and overall I felt like as Greek god. It doesn’t have to be a million crunches, but a couple sets of rollouts and their variations work damn well.

pic2      pic1

“If performed while listening to this song, effectiveness of exercises is increased 10 fold.”

2. Lifestyle nutritional changes are more important than any diet.

Diets are temporary. Anyone can drop fat for a couple months but permanent fat loss occurs through changes in lifestyle that are slow, simple and sustainable.

If I told you to eat only carrots for three days, would you lose fat? Sure, the body needs to find energy from somewhere but you’d be one unhappy son of a gun and maintaining that for more than 3 days would be damn near impossible. In addition, you may get mistaken for an oompa loompa or a cast member from the Jersey Shore. Although on a lesser scale, this is what occurs on diets.

Diets generally have multiple rules and force people into a mold that restricts them from enjoying the food they love.

This sends people into feeding frenzies either after the diet finishes or days during the diet. Coaches like John Berardi, Erik Ledin, Mark Young and others teach people balance in eating, to ensure both physical and mental health for the long run. Keep it simple, keep it sustainable.

3. Squatting really is the king of all exercises

If all you do for 3 days a week was squat, you’ll maintain all your muscle mass and strength on every lift will increase. If you bicep curled 7 times a week, you’d be swole patrol certified, but still be weaker than Richard Simmons. Lesson? Squat.


Another bonus of squatting is you can eat a shit ton of food. Let’s be honest who doesn’t want to eat their face off? Frequent squat sessions force your body into extreme food annihilation mode which totally warrants crushing a tub of ice cream weekly. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me.


 “This man knows whats up”

4. Do the basics extremely well – worry about the rest of tools and accessories later

Focus on the main lifts: squats, deadlifts, overhead press and bench press – train these lifts with a proper program outlined with progressions. Pick one or two assistance exercises for your weak areas and finish up.

Bands, chains, fat grips, come second to mastering the essentials. I realize they can add a fresh stimulus to training but if you can continue getting stronger without them, why make things more complicated? Eliminate the unnecessary complexity and focus on the basic exercises giving you the biggest bang for your buck. You’ll save time and maybe even get stronger.

5. Follow a program – Get someone else to program for you

I used to think I could program all my own lifting. I’m a strength coach so obviously I can save some dollar bills and write a training program for myself. Wrong I was.

My best gains have come from following other people’s programs. When you program for yourself, you program what you like, not what you need. Gotta have your ass kicked once and a while and do the stuff you suck at – it makes you better.

6. If you squat with your toes flared – roll the shit out of your adductors

I used to have achy knee pain when I squatted and could never figure out what the issue was. Once I started hammering my adductors on the softball, kabooom it hurt like hell, but knee pain gradually resided.


“Your new best friend”

This concludes part one; stay tuned for part two next week which will finish the list with 6 more post-apocalyptic lessons.


Which of Kory’s lessons was your favourite? Have any tips of your own from 2012? Comment below and remember to”like” us on facebook!

Waterloo Strength ConditioningKory Allen is a 4th year Kin student at the University of Waterloo and an aspiring coach. He has been passionate about the iron game for many years and loves helping people improve their lives, fitness and overall wellbeing. His basic philosophy is to keep it simple and have some fun. Drop him a line on the blog or via email.



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2 responses to “12 Lessons from the Year of the Apocalypse: Part One

  1. NatBotzang

    fave lesson: lots o’ squatting = tub o’ ice cream.

    A lesson I learned while talking to some inspired students interested in gaining strength and setting foot into the gym for the first time: intimidation/fear for some comes from not knowing what to do with the machines or weights, along with a fear of judgement…that they’ll look stupid. I explained to them that, the gym is like a playground. The playground has many different types of equipment and things to play on, with endless possibilities to try and to conquer. No fear of judgement or fear of not knowing what to do on the playground…just a curious fascination to explore. I tried to explain as best I could that the gym is their playground: Enter the gym not with the fear of “Too many things, don’t know what to do”, rather look at it like a playground – “So many things, so many things to try…what do I want to try and what do I want to learn today…and what do I want to conquer?”

    I learned that, for me, the gym is playground time, and that is why it stays fun and why I continue to learn. And you know what? These inspired students understood it that way too. As we get older, we forget why we learned so well as kids – fearless fascination and willingness to explore. I could not have been happier to see this change of outlook in these students I had the privilege of talking to. I literally wanted to give them all huge high fives for realizing they can still think like a kid, and lift (one day soon) like a boss.

    • kd2allen

      As always Ms. Botzang you bring smiles and wisdom to the weightrooms.

      Great lesson which can be applied not only to the lifting and gyms but to life. I’ll be stealing this analogy for future clients!

      And as for ice cream, it will make a cameo in part 2. Be excited 🙂

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