Fit For Duty

Our next blog post comes from Melissa and features something she is pretty passionate about – strength and conditioning for first responders. We’ve got a ton of first responders at the gym who are trained by or who train alongside Melissa. Melissa has worked in the field for over 15 years, always with a focus on prevention. She’s worn lots of hats in EMS and Fire including Field Supervisor, Consultant to DOH EMS, and Chief of EMS. Since beginning with us she’s gotten fairly strong. She actually PR’d her overhead press at 135 while writing this up for us.

Being at your best for those who are at their worst. Are you fit for duty?

If you ever worked with me then you know that prevention has always had my heart. If we know how to prevent a problem that can cause catastrophe, then why wouldn’t we?

So, I’d love to introduce my friends in public safety to strength training. While training for any public safety career it is made clear to students that there will be calls and days that push your body to the edge of its ability. With one of the leading causes of LODD for Firefighters, according to the NFPA, being sudden cardiac death due to stress and overexertion, are you preparing your body to handle the hard calls now or are you just hoping to make it through them? You owe it to the people you respond with, to and yourself to not become part of the emergency. There will always be unexpected medical emergencies but safety and prevention is your best tool to avoid becoming the patient on a call. There are many risks involved in Firefighting, so why not train in a way that reduces one of the biggest risks and makes your job easier.

Oh how I wish I knew HOW to strength train before I started working the road. My job would have been easier and my days off less filled with the need to recover. I joined a generic gym and like any novice I was able to get a little stronger because I was doing something more than I had before. It was better than nothing but it wasn’t efficient and it didn’t let my body meet its potential. I’d love to go back, knowing what I know now, and run out Linear Progression programming with job specific conditioning mixed in as I got stronger. I’d love to feel things becoming easier –  pulling and loading hoses, climbing stairs in gear with a high rise pack on and carrying patients – because of smart training.

I would eat more protein than whatever was found in cheez-its and I would train intelligently for an increase in general strength. In doing so I would be helping myself, the community I served and my brothers and sisters in the Fire service. My days on the road may be over (I never say never!) but now I ask my friends in Public Safety to consider all that is on the line when you aren’t prepared physically. You can start today… Get stronger starting, stay consistent and be better equipped to respond later. Are you confused about where to start? Ask and I’ll try to send you in the right direction.

Spotlight – Mallory Sutphin

I thought it might be cool to switch things up a little bit for this version of our Spotlight. Everybody at the gym knows Mallory now, but most haven’t seen how she’s grown from the person that walked in the door 8 years ago to the coach she is today. She’s one of the few people who remember the gym from its previous location, back when Beau wore compression socks and there were only 2 Bryant kids. I’ve even managed to unearth some photos taken July 4, 2010 showing Beau teaching Mallory how to perform bodyweight squats and ring rows.

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How To Get Stronger And Run Faster

We recently featured one of our members, Allison Monheit, who qualified for the Boston Marathon.  She finished first in her age group running a 03:26:54.  This was only her second marathon and it was over 50 minutes faster than her first.  A great accomplishment for any runner but Allison also did something else remarkable leading up to this marathon.  Twelve days before her race she squatted 225 pounds for an easy single, strict pressed 100 pounds above her head, and benched her body weight.  She was a strong runner on race day, certainly stronger than most.

In the days after we featured her back squat and marathon results on our social media we received lots of questions regarding her training.  We thought it would be best for Allison to dig into her training log and write a brief synopsis of exactly how she built and maintained strength while increasing her running mileage, approached her nutrition and what effects these things had on her performance.

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Speed Training or Strength Training for Youth Athletes

The other day we posted about the need for youth athletes to be strong.  That post gave me an idea of what to talk about next. Parents often come to us and ask, “How do I make my son/daughter faster? I read there’s a lot of great speed drills and agility things to do? Why aren’t we doing that?”

Youth Athletes and Strength Training


This is something I know Beau and Eric and I have talked to parents about when they ask why kids who train with us don’t do any “speed” work. The truth is, we’d have to really break this down to take a bigger view of what’s going on when we train for strength and when you train “speed work”.

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Youth Athletes and Strength Training

Somewhere along the way youth athletics have turned into a year around activity.  I’m an implant to Maryland so the popularity of Lacrosse was lost on me until I moved here in 2006.  Actually it wasn’t until 2010 when I opened up WS&C that I fully understood just how big lacrosse was in this state.  It didn’t take long before parents of all different sports began calling or stopping in looking for a strength program for their son or daughter.  Not all of them were lacrosse players but the overwhelming majority played lacrosse in the spring even if they were looking for training for another sport.

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Week One In The Books (51 To Go)

Two of our newest members finished up their last training session of the week today.  They started on January 1st just like millions of people around the country did. Their first week looked much different than the overwhelming majority of people (and maybe yours) who headed back to the gym to make 2018 the year they finally get in shape.

Their first week didn’t involve a treadmill.  Not one “body pump” class.  They didn’t learn how to use a machine to tone the biceps.  Somehow they escaped this first week without a single plank- GASP!  Neither of them were told they had tight hips.  Or they lacked mobility.  They didn’t learn how to do any lifts with a PVC pipe.  Not a single corrective exercise.  No one yelled at them to go faster.  Weirdly at no point during this week did they think they were going to die.  They didn’t do a single burpee, box jump or wall ball.   They didn’t even learn that carbs are bad and processed food would kill them.  Strangely there wasn’t a mention of “eating clean”.

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Success with Heavy Light Medium

Lets start this off by saying that HLM is not a novice program. No matter how strong you think you are, if you have never ran through a simple linear progression on the basic barbell lifts, you will get stronger much quicker by doing that than anything you will read in this article.


The goal here is to explain what we do with certain people when they finish up a novice LP. A Heavy-Light-Medium (HLM) program provides a pretty good early-intermediate way to design weekly increases. Not all of our members use this template, but it can be very useful if used appropriately. It’s a basic framework that can be applied to athletes, older folks, and everyone in-between.

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