What It's Like to Train Outside The Box

middle age fitness edmontonFeel Great at Any Age!

Either you are approaching middle age or you are experiencing it. Media has painted a picture of aging as something to dread. “over the hill” “your head gets together but your body falls apart” “the time when your age shows around your middle” when in reality, age is only a number.

You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.

It isn’t the age that we are, that determines how capable we remain throughout our lifetime. Rather, it’s our health status that determines how capable we remain into our 40s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and beyond.

We set the stage for that, in how we live from day to day. It’s in the choices that we make, and the actions that we take. Many of my clients, as well as myself are into our 50s and way beyond. We are outside the box of how aging is portrayed. If there is indeed a hill to get over at 50, I think we’ve climbed it and run around it a few times!

Living the lifestyle that we promote at Outside the Box creates healthy, strong, and capable individuals at any age. It’s never too late to begin reversing the effects of inactivity, or less than optimal movement.

Imagine the years approaching retirement as preparation to live your second childhood. No matter what age you are now; the better prepared you are, the younger you will feel when that time comes. The younger you feel, the more life becomes a playground to move around in and have fun!

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This is one of the most butchered exercises in the gym. Often it's done with the neck, only upper traps, and anterior shoulder. In order to properly do this exercise, one must first possess good mobility and stability in shoulder flexion. Good overall shoulder complex mobility and stability, as well as anterior core stability, must be present. When done properly, these are excellent for building upper back strength and definition and maintaining shoulder health. A strong back is the key to good posture and overall strength.

Sled work is great for strength, conditioning, and fat loss. It's low technique which means it's safe for any level, while pushing a decent amount of weight. Teaches how to keep shoulders packed, core tight, and driving off the hips. Great for new exercisers to build stamina. It can safely get heart rate up in the intense range which is essential for fat loss. Stacked with other metabolic exercises, it will also satisfy an intense exercise lover.


My clients in session all warming up off of their individual programs. Stir the pot - only movement occurring is elbows making small circles on ball. Trains ability to brace against movement. Bulgarians --single leg exercise to strengthen hips. Excellent for stability. Front lying shoulder stability exercise -teaches shoulder complex to do all movements with stability.

Denise has progressed her deadlifting strength from a 30pound kettle bell to a 135 pound barbell in a matter of months. Here she is using 160 pound trap bar lift. This exercise is a safer alternative so she can lift heavier and more reps to add muscle (definition) this will allow her to lift heavier on conventional lifting. Lifting heavier ensures never plateauing on goals.


An excellent exercise to isolate the glutes in hip extension and then train the hamstrings to act as a synergist in hip extension. She is utilizing hip flexion and hamstring (knee flexion) on the second part of the exercise to bring her feet back in. As she slides out slowly, this involves the hamstrings concentrically and then eccentrically as she extends her knees. Eccentric training of hamstrings is important to teach them control when they are stretching. That way, when she does exercises like jumping (high force production) and learning to control deceleration of movement, they will have better control in movement. Also, hamstring strength is very important to knee health, and this is the last joint replacement that Maggi would like to experience.

Chin ups are a definite strength progression exercise that has many benefits. They help to create a strong, healthy shoulder complex which translates into good posture and less risk of injury or pain from compensatory resting posture. They utilize all upper back muscles plus the lats, which are an important overall stabilizer muscle. They also put the biceps under a tremendous load- perfect for creating beautifully strong looking arms. They also train a “hollowing effect” of the anterior core, which strengthens the role of those muscles to support the spine. I am using the power tower here and demonstrating a small lift off, push up of my foot into the movement. Chin ups are extremely tough and so a proper progression must be used in order to not create a ton of movement in the body by jumping, or using the neck muscles and elevating the shoulders to do the pull.


This advanced variation of the landmine press is excellent to isolate just the anterior core control of the exercise, as well as the shoulder pressing itself. The hips are taken out of the equation, so there is no way to produce drive off of the hips. In order to continue to make progress, we always have to be progressing movement patterns. There are many ways to do this besides just increasing the amount of weight being lifted.

Lateral plank walks are a great stability exercise to do to train the frontal plane. Since we move mostly forward and backward only in everyday life it's essential for balance and coordination that we incorporate all planes of motion. This exercise uses the left and right side of the body simultaneously, which promotes stability against excessive rotation. Important for injury prevention in sports (running too) any plank variation done correctly will strengthen all core muscles, essential for shoulder, back, and hip health.


KB swings are a great way to produce power. It's a hip hinge, keeping neutral through the spine and finishing with a powerful hip extension. I always program these in before progressing the deadlift. It teaches a person to keep tight, including packing the shoulders, using power in the hip drive, and finishing with the hips. This is also an excellent exercise for fat loss ( because it's metabolic) as well as building work capacity. When lifting moderately heavy weight for reps, a person needs to be able to continue to deliver oxygen to all the working muscles and to manage fatigue without allowing form to fall apart. This exercise is great to improve conditioning to achieve that. She only did 10 swings. There is a multitude of ways to program them. Typically I will start with intervals of 20 swings at a time.

Rows are a challenging exercise to perform. It's not just the rotator cuff doing the work but rather the shoulder blade retracting and then depressing that causes the correct muscles to do the row. The person should also possess good centration of the upper arm bone in the shoulder socket first, in order to not create a glide forward and eventually produce shoulder pain. This is a progressed row variation that allows for three points of stability, so it's easier than a bent over row. The other benefit to this row version is that the core stabilization teaches the body to control against excessive rotation. Holding the position also teaches the body how to work against flexing the spine. That is a natural compensation that people do, rather than maintaining good spinal extension.


This is a specialty piece of equipment that many gyms do not have. There are many ways to use it, and the benefit to using it in programming is to strengthen the muscles that work in a pull pattern, as well as strengthening the hip extension lockout position. It is essential to have good hip mobility before programming this in, as not having good control and movement into hip extension will cause the lower back to do the exercise instead. A common flaw to this type of exercise is over extending at the lumbar spine instead of using the hips. The shoulders should be over the hips at the end of the exercise.

The slide board is a great tool to use for endurance work. It applies constant tension in the movement. This particular exercise utilizes the frontal plane of motion. In everyday life, we move mostly in the sagittal plane. The hips have the ability to move in this motion, so it's a good idea to exercise in it, to maintain hip mobility and control. Getting better controlled depth in all planes will improve strength and muscle activation needed to build muscle definition.


There are too many benefits to list for this exercise. A stable foot, training good ankle mobility, good hip mobility which requires anterior core stability, well functioning glutes to be able to eccentrically load, and a strong hip flexion pattern to be able to push back up out of the bottom. I use the goblet squat for many programming varieties. For beginners, to learn how to groove the proper squatting pattern. The weight held in front helps to allow the body to sit into the hip with better control. In this particular video, Jenny is holding a dumbbell that is 1/2 of what she weighs and she's doing 12 to 15 reps. She is also doing it as a finisher exercise. This will cause enough metabolic damage to promote muscle growth. It also helps her to become more efficient at cycling energy and managing fatigue. Both important to building strength. Keeping the back as straight as possible( requires back strength) and dropping the trunk in between the hips, with tension, is the way to go with the squat.

Lat pulldown and single arm deadlifts - semi private training session.