12 Things I Learned in 2012

12 things in 2012-yeah I know, sounds pretty damn cool. This year has been one for the record books. With the launch of Spurling Training Systems, attending National conferences, and helping hundreds of clients, I have learned a wealth of information. It was difficult to compile a list of just 12 things that I have learned in 2012, but below are some that came to mind. The first six that I choose are more fitness/weight lifting based, and the following six are more business/life/how to be awesome based. I hope you enjoy!

1. Benefits of the Snatch Grip

I can thank Ben Bruno for this one. I always did my deadlifts with a standard alternating grip. I read an article Ben wrote awhile back in which he was showing snatch grip RDLs. I fell in love with the exercise. Using the snatch grip lights up the lats in addition to the rest of the posterior chain, and is a good variation if you’re used to using a standard shoulder width grip.

2. Hamstring Fryer of the Year: RDLs

I have always been a big fan of deadlifts. Being 6′ 6″ it is easy to say that I don’t have the best build for good squatting. Although I do squat on a regular basis, I tend to lean towards deadlift variations. However, I always shied away from RDLs for reasons unknown to me. This summer I put them in my own program, and I am so glad I did. On top of absolutely demolishing my back side, I saw an extreme increase in my hamstring flexibility. If you haven’t put RDLs in your program, I suggest you give them a try. Below is a video combining #1 and #2, a snatch-grip RDL.

3. Landmine Position

This is another one that I learned from Ben Bruno. I always liked doing the landmine shoulder press I found from Eric Cressey,  but never thought of flipping it around and using it for the lower body. Using that same landmine position you can do single leg deadlifts, and reverse lunges. Their exercises are not only good strength builders, but are also pretty friendly on the joints. It also gets that core fired up quite a bit because of the offset load to one side (You can see just how much the offset load makes a difference in the video below when I get a little tilt to that loaded side on the last rep).

4. Neutral Grip

There are some people out there who should never overhead press. There are also people who should overheard press, but never do. However, when overhead pressing, I have been a big fan of the neutral grip. Things like alternating neutral grip presses, and neutral grip barbell presses, take precedence in my programs over standard military presses. If you look at the angle of the humeral head in the glenohumeral socket, by using a neutral grip you put your arm in a much more stable/comfortable position. The same concept applies with push-ups and bench pressing. I discourage wide fly push-ups, and flared out elbows. Tuck your elbows or go home!

Take a look at this video of Josh doing neutral grip presses. You can see that the angle of the shoulder is much more “comfortable” compared to the flared out stance of a standard military press.

5. Anti Extension

Core strength is nothing new, and if you still have mindset of doing crunches for a better core, you better open them eyes. With core, I typically think of isometric holds like plank variations, and maybe anti rotation exercises like the pallof press. Although all of those are important in core strength, anti-extension can’t be forgotten. Typically we think of core as just the anterior side of things, but we can’t forget the backside. Try out these TRX fallouts. (Sorry for the vertical video, I know I hate them too.)

6. Use of the Lacrosse Ball

The foam roller should be a staple in your strength and conditioning program and one of the first things you do when you step foot in the gym. However, there are certain areas the foam roller just can’t hit. This is when the lacrosse ball comes into play. Check out a video of Jared breaking down a couple techniques using the lacrosse ball for soft tissue work.

7. Back To Basics

You can have the best strength and conditioning program on the Universe, periodized to a T, but if you only do it once every other week, eat like shit, and stay up playing Call of Duty all night, you’re probably not going to see results. I have found it is best if you focus more on being consistent and don’t over complicate your program. Yes, each individual should be doing their own program, and generalizing a workout is not going to be as beneficial. However, when you try to make the fanciest program around, sometimes it can be too hard to follow for your client. Find out what works and stick with it. The good ol’ saying of “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” has never been so true.

8. Work Hard When No One Is Watching

“The hardest thing to do is work hard when no one is watching.” -Ray Lewis

This is my all-time favorite quote. I like it so much I am having it put on one of the walls of STS. It applies both in fitness, and in life. People brag all the time that they went to the gym. They kiss ass in front of the coach and bust out reps while everyone is watching. How about those days when you’re by yourself, at your desk, or in the gym, are you still working hard? Will you do that extra rep, push that sled the extra 10 yards, or will you bail out because no one is there to see? It’s easy to show off and work hard when all eyes are on you. That is mediocre. The most successful people work hard all the time, whether people are watching or not.


9.  Networking

I have had the luxury of visiting with some of the top coaches in the industry this year. Eric Cressey, Ben Bruno,  Mike Boyle, and others were nice enough to let me hang out with them for a day. Those 8-10 hours were more valuable to me than an entire semester at my undergraduate university. They always say it’s all who you know, and that still holds true. The amount of things I learned from these guys was incredible, and I would have never learned it if I didn’t reach out and network. You can be the best accountant, carpenter, trainer, or whomever, but if no one knows about you you’re going to be shit out of luck. Take time out of every day and network. Get to know your neighbor, the guy at the coffee shop, and everyone you can. You never know how much they can help you.

“They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

10. Time Management

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. If we say we need to sleep 8 hours, that leaves 16 hours. How do you use it? Are you wasting it away hitting the refresh on Facebook, or are you improving your life? I have become a much better person because of how I manage my time. I create a list for every month, week, and day. I outline each day hour, by hour. I set a time for when I will take my lunch, when I will respond to e-mail, and even when I will check social media sites. By outlining each day, I can prioritize certain tasks, and thus achieve a lot more in a given day. People brag a lot about working 80 hours a week, but how many of those are you actually working? I could almost guarantee that you could get just as much work done in 20 hours if you put your mind to it.


11. Under Promise, Over Deliver

That is something I pride myself on, and educate my staff on daily. We may charge a certain rate, but we’re going to make sure the experience will be worth 10x that, if not more. Promise your family you will call them, and instead show up at their door step with some flowers. This applies in life, business, fitness, and pretty much every scenario you can think of. Don’t promise something you can’t execute, and when you do promise something stick with it, and surpass it. This is something I keep in the back of my mind all the time, and it has helped out a ton.

12. Anything’s Possible

This year has been nothing but spectacular. It started off with a bang with the opening of Spurling Training Systems here in Kennebunk, Maine. In just 12 months we have grown tremendously, and helped hundreds of people reach their fitness goals. There is no better feeling in the world then a high-five from a kid because he got one more chin-up, or a hug from an adult client because she lost the 15lbs she struggled with in previous years. It is not easy, and I have busted my ass, sacrificed social time, family time, and any other time you can imagine. And when I say I have put blood, sweat, and tears into the growth of STS, I literally mean blood, sweat, and tears. I challenge you, whatever your dream is, to never give up. No one in life should be handed anything, but anything can be achieved if you have the mindset, and put the hard work in.



Well, that’s all folks. Twelve things I learned in 2012, probably the toughest list I had to put together because I had to scrap out hundreds of other things that I learned. However, these 12 things have helped me develop in my personal life, business life, and in the weight room.

What did you learn this year? I would be happy to get a discussion going in the comments section below.

Do you like this kind of stuff? Want more of it? For everything from me make sure you subscribe to my newsletter. I have a ton of great stuff coming out in 2013, including my first publication. Follow the link below to subscribe:

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Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!


About Spurling Training Systems

At Spurling Training Systems, our focus is on providing a superior athletic conditioning experience. The combination of expert training, time spent understanding your specific goals and customized program development is what makes Spurling Training Systems a unique and effective training experience for athletes of all ages, levels and abilities. Doug is the founder and owner of Spurling Training Systems. He graduated from University of New England with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Exercise Science. He has several years of experience as both a personal trainer for general fitness and a strength and conditioning coach for athletes. His certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) include Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and Certified Personal Trainer (CPT).
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