A little of my history.

(Please watch the video below.)

Have you ever had something happen that prevented you from moving and feeling the way you wanted?

It sucks, doesn’t it? For me, being able to move and be active is a big part of who I am. It’s what I love doing.

I was training to make the Olympic trials in the javelin. But this low back injury forced me to end my throwing career. And instead of training at the highest levels I was having trouble standing up from a chair or even just walking around.

Eventually I got it pretty figured out and have been able to come back and hit new levels of fitness while being smart about the injury. I’ve both reached my all time leanest body composition and hit some all time strength numbers since that injury.

So I’m curious if you have had something that has prevented you from reaching your goal? Something that has impacted your life and has been a struggle.

If so, send me a message and let’s chat. I’d love to hear from you.

How are you warming up?

A good warm up, or movement prep, does a few things all at once.

It should actually…you know… warm you up. You should be breathing a little harder and maybe even starting to sweat. Heat is good for our muscles and helps prevent injury.

It should explore your ranges of motion. We can move in tons of different ways and different planes of motion. Don’t be one dimensional. Incorporate forward/backward, side to side, and rotational movement.

The movements should be intentional and controlled. Don’t let your focus wander during this part of the workout! You should get some muscle contractions in the shortened and lengthened positions. You should be be able to control all of your movements and every inch of the range of motion.

It should also address certain tight spots that could use a little extra attention. Usually the hips and upper thoracic spine need more love. But notice these movements aren’t passive. They use muscle contractions along with “stretched” positions.

Using a smart warm up is one of the best things you can do to improve workout quality and health of your body. But most people overlook or neglect it. Don’t let that be you.

8 Best Sand Bag Exercises for people new to Sand Bag Training

1. Squats - Specifically front squats. Yes, they are harder than having the bag on your back but they are better for teaching good mechanics and have better carry over to back squats. Learn how to do front squats well from the beginning and you will be set when it comes to doing any other variation.

2. Split squats - Body weight only split squats are the introduction to lunges and the many variations. Split squats give you a pretty stable base since both feet are always touching the ground. And they start to focus on single leg strength. Master these before moving on to harder variations.

3. RDLs - Learning the RDL is the key to learning good hip hinging. It’s one of the vital movement patterns we have as humans. The RDL emphasizes the hamstrings and glutes. It also lays the groundwork pattern for more complex exercises that can be added later.

4. Bent Over Row - THE best upper back strength exercise we have with a sand bag. Master that hinge position and get those shoulder blades moving to build muscle and strength in the incredibly important upper back.

5. Overhead Press - The main overhead pressing movement. Builds strength in the shoulders and triceps while providing a great challenge to the core.

6. Cleans - Much easier to learn with a sand bag than a barbell. They are explosive and require coordination. A great conditioning exercise as well. Plus it’s the transition movement to get the bag up to shoulder level.

7. Planks - For your abs to work their best they need to be able to PREVENT movement, not create it. Planks are the first step in learning how to stabilize the hips and spine by preventing unwanted movement. Make sure you give a concerted effort to squeeze the abs hard.

8. Loaded Carries - Loaded carries of all kinds are crazy good for people just starting out. They build strength and muscle, challenge all of the core muscles, and are a great conditioning tool.

Bonus - Not only are these exercises great for people just starting out, they should still be the bread and butter (or meat and potatoes) of the advanced person. You won’t outgrow these so you may as well get really really good at them.

New Logo - What it means.

Mountains - Strength

Building strength gives us the ability to live longer, richer lives. Increasing your strength is fundamental to Kyle Baker Fitness and is an essential goal for my training programs. Why we build strength is unique to each person. The majority of people are working out, not to win a fitness competition, but to complete that longer hike, chase your kids around the park, or enjoy some Smashball with friends on the weekend. Being stronger and more capable is an incredible feeling and I aim to make that accessible to anyone. -

Lightning - Speed

Increasing speed is an excellent measure of overall fitness and body composition. It burns a ton of calories in a short amount of time and helps to build power. This is why it is an essential component to any Kyle Baker Fitness training regimen. It’s also a favorite of mine. I was the kid asking the coach to do wind sprints at the end of practice. When I was swimming my best events were the shortest and fastest. I love speed work. I love trying to get faster. It also happens that speed work is incredible exercise. -

Axe - Discipline

Good things come with hard work over time. -

Anything worth achieving will take work. There is no way around that. When it comes to physical health and fitness you must put in the work, and that requires discipline. Just like you can’t do good work with an inefficient tool (make sure your axe is sharp before setting to work, and I have a funny appreciation for axes), you can’t get results with inefficient use of your time and energy. And I will be right there showing you how to do that well and cheering you on along the way. I am here for the person ready to add discipline to their life. I am ready to teach you how to manage your diet, get your weekly workouts in, and carve out enough time to rest and recover well. And a lot of times it sucks. But it still has to get done. That workout needs to be done. Choosing the “less exciting but better for your goals” meal needs to be done. Getting enough sleep and recovery needs to be done. And they all need to be done consistently. The kind of person I want to coach is ok with instilling some discipline into their life. They don’t need to be a master at it, but they do need to be willing to work on it.

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Friday Finisher 1.0

Friday Finisher 1.0

  • 50 Front Squats

  • 50 High Pulls

  • 100 Back Squats

  • 100 RDLs

These went in order from “hardest” to “easiest”.

The Front squats are the hardest to keep form in since they really challenge upper body position as well as leg and core strength.

Then the High Pulls are explosive but a relatively strong movement for me. Since they are so dynamic I am putting them second.

The Back Squat is much stronger than the Front and much less postural demanding. So I doubled the reps. That makes sense…

Finish up with RDLs. These are one of my strongest lifts. My hamstrings were still pretty sore for 4 days though…


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Hill Sprints

Sprinting is an awesome form of exercise. There are few things that feel better than flying down the track or up a hill (or wherever you like to sprint).  All other sounds are drowned out by the wind rushing by your ears and the sound of your feet.

But as we get older and busier we tend to start choosing slower forms of running, or even stop all together. And moving fast should really be a capacity we hold on to for as long as possible.

Sprinting in itself has a lot to offer: increased cardiovascular health, increased strength in the glutes and hamstrings, increased muscular coordination, decreased body fat,  and increasing general “in shape-ness”.

The main drawback is an increased risk of injury, especially for people just returning to sprinting. Typically a result of weak hamstrings and glutes, the risk of hamstring strain is high unless a smart progression is used.

Hill sprints or stadium sprints are probably the safest form of sprinting for several reasons.

1) You can’t go as fast since you’re fighting gravity more than usual. 

2) Stride length is shorter which reduces hamstring lengthening.

3) There is less impact on the joints.

Combine hills with a great warm up protocol and you should be well on your way to getting faster, leaner,  healthier and more fit.

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Progress is what we are really after, right? That’s why we are exercising and eating healthy. To get better at something.

But progress needs to be earned and you do so by paying attention to a few different things. Improved form, more reps, more weight, more speed, and workout density. Improving any one of these things means you are moving in the right direction.

Form. Beginners should place more emphasis on improving form as the first level of progression. Strive to improve technique and control of a weight through a full range of motion. The weight used should still be challenging but the focus shouldn’t be on adding load until the form is dialed in.

Weight. After form is set putting more focus on adding weight will lead to the most strength gain. Over the course of weeks, months, and years (yeah, it takes a long time) try to steadily increase the amount of weight you are able to lift. Don’t rush it, there’s no need to force weights you aren’t ready for. But work hard.

Reps. If you can lift the same weight for more reps than you used to, you have gotten stronger. This is another great way to tangibly notice you are improving.

Speed. Sometimes a certain weight is a real grinder to get up. If you can move that weight with more speed you have gotten stronger.

Density. If you can finish the same amount of work in a shorter time, or more work in the same amount of time, you have gotten more fit. This might mean you are stronger too. Try removing some some of the rest period during your workout while doing the same number of reps and sets to improve the training density.

There are a bunch of ways to progress in your workouts. Each one takes a lot of hard work though. Take note of what you do in each workout. Write it down and improve upon that performance next time. Progress.

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Post Workout Nutrition

The post workout window turns out to be more like a post workout barn door. At least that’s the term the researchers used to describe it.

It used to be thought that without a meal immediately after the workout that a lot of the benefit of the workout and usefulness of the food that came later was wasted. Muscle wouldn’t grow and the food you ate later would more likely turn to fat.

Well it looks like that isn’t true. What the researchers found was not that surprising if you think about it. If you get the right amount of food, over the course of the whole day, you’ll be just fine. That nutrition strategy may not be completely optimal but meal timing only accounts for about 5% (or less) of diet results.

That 5% is still there for people who are otherwise dialed in though. Especially for people who have another training session or competition soon after, timing becomes more important for recovery. For these people shoot for a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein to start and adjust as needed based on how you do.

For most people newer to dieting shoot to get 30-40 grams of protein soonish after your workout. If you’re having a whole food meal have most of your carbs for the day in this meal. The grams of carbs can vary a ton based on individual needs so it’s harder to give an easy number.

Summary: if all your other diet pieces are in place then focus on getting the post workout meal in quickly. If you’re still working on getting your diet cleaned up and where you need it to be, don’t worry about the timing so much. Instead focus on getting the calories and protein, carbs, fats all at the level they need to be.

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Some important things to know about how fat loss works.

Losing fat only works by creating a calorie deficit. That means you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. There are things that help with that, and things that hurt. 

By creating a deficit your body needs to come up with the energy to keep you moving and living and it turns out that fat stores are a great deposit of energy. So using theoretical numbers, say you eat 1500 calories each day and burn a total of 2000 a day. That 500 calorie difference will come from fat stores. And over the course of a week, that 500kcal/day deficit will result in a pound of fat lost.

Now, we have a few different ways of burning calories. First we have our BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate. This is the amount of calories we burn simply by being alive. This is the energy that our internal organs run on. It powers our immune system and healing processes and all the little things we don’t have to think about. You would burn this amount by just sitting on the couch all day long.

Next we have NEAT. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. This is just the number of calories burned through activity. Cleaning the house, taking a walk, shopping, fidgeting, etc., etc. This might be the most important number to consider in long term weight loss success. This is why you seen so many experts advocating for increased overall activity levels each day. The number of calories used by being highly active can be rather high.

Then we have workouts. Usually calorie burn from workouts is drastically over-estimated. I just did an absolutely killer workout, I weigh over 200 pounds, and I was working hard for about 70 minutes…and I burned 500 calories according to my Apple Watch. For a lot of people, that amount of effort would seemingly burn way more than 500 calories. And increasing the time and difficulty of your workouts will eventually bite you. There’s only so much you can truly recover from. So relying on workouts as the primary way of creating a deficit will almost always let you down. This is why you hear the phrase “You can’t out train a bad diet.”

The benefit of training lies in increasing your abilities, rather than simply burning calories. Getting stronger. Increasing health of everything from your joints to your heart and brain. Increasing your fitness, which is becoming better a specific exercise tasks like running or biking or moving some kind of weight more efficiently.

Now, let’s take those hypothetical numbers from before. Say you have maxed out your day and burned through 2000kcal. Your BMR is pretty constant, you’re being highly active and you’re getting your workout in. That totals 2000kcal and doing more exercise/activity will negatively impact your recovery, so that’s not really an option. Do you know how easy it is to eat 2000kcal? Go measure out a proper tablespoon of peanut butter, like with a real measuring spoon. That’s nearly 100 calories by itself. And who in the world actually eats that amount of peanut butter?? Calories can add up QUICKLY.

This is why controlling your diet is so important for fat loss. You can have a MUCH greater impact on how many calories you bring in than you can on the calories you burn. 

And you don’t have to live forever in a calorie deficit. I hope you can see from all this writing that a calorie deficit is used for a specific purpose. Once you reach your goal you can then transition to eating at a maintenance level where you neither lose nor gain weight. 

There is a ton of nuance to all this, of course. And figuring out what works FOR YOU will determine the amount of success you see. But essentially fat loss success is going to come down to the things listed here.