8 Strangest Things I Heard This Year

While our guys certainly know how to move big weights and train like savages, they certainly say some strange things during our training sessions.

I felt it was my duty to share some of these gems with the rest of the world, so I began writing them down over the course of the year.

Here are just a few of my favorites.

Deer in the Road

When explaining why he was 10 minutes late for a training session, one of our athletes said, "Coach, there was this deer in the road and he wouldn't move. He was just standing there in front of my car and I couldn't drive."

Right ....

Abandoned Sheet

After a training session, I found one of our guy's training sheets on the floor by the preacher curl rack. It looked like he had crumbled it up in a ball and was preparing to shoot it in the garbage can.

He either had a terrible shot or was too lazy to actually throw it.

Either way, leaving your training sheet behind is a major faux pas in Advanced Training.

I immediately texted him.

Me: "Did you leave your sheet in the gym"

Athlete S: "No"

Me: "I am holding it in my hands right now"

Athlete S: "Oh yeah, I left it there for you"

Me: "I found it crumbled in a ball by the curl rack"

Athlete S: "Yeah, that is where I left it for you"

Pulled Groin

Athlete J: "Nice program Coach. All you try to do is hurt people."

Me: "What happened?"

Athlete J: "I just pulled my groin."

Me: "How?"

Athlete J: "Doing pull-ups."

Most Beautiful Girl in the World

In an effort to get our guys to brace more on deadlift, I ask them to flex their triceps as they go down to grab the barbell.

To enhance my training cue, I always tell the athlete, "Imagine the most beautiful girl in the world is walking down the steps of the gym and you want to show off how jacked your triceps are."

To make it more tangible, I ask them to specifically name a girl they had in mind. By giving a name, I know the guys are not simply blowing off my visualization technique.

Normally, I get the traditional names like Kate Upton or Megan Fox.

Well, in early 2015 someone decided that being a normal human being wasn't an option.

Here is how it went down.

Me: "Flex your triceps on the way down"

Athlete F: "I am"

Me: "No ... act like the most beautiful girl in the world is coming down the steps right now and you want to show her how jacked you are"

Athlete F: "Okay"

Me: "Who is the girl?"

W.A.I.T.     F.O.R.      I.T......

Athlete F: "Emma Watson"

Me: "Who is Emma Watson?"

Athlete F: "The girl from Harry Potter"

Everyone Else in the Gym:  (uncontrollable laughter / disappointment)

In this athlete's defense, most of us were picturing Hermione and not the real life Emma Watson.

Also in this athlete's defense, Emma Watson was named one of the most beautiful woman in 2015 by Wonderslist.

Regardless, it was still a terrible answer and he has been mercilessly shamed for it ever since.

Hitting a PR

It was a deload week and one of our new athlete's walks into the gym with his chest puffed out and his head held high.

He whips out his cell phone and proceeds to tell me I am the greatest coach ever.

While he is certainly right, I am very intrigued how anything on his cell phone would help validate that.

Me: "What's on your phone?"

Athlete: "A video of me hitting a PR (personal record) on back squat in my basement. I never have been able to get 315 until I started training with you."

Me: "When did you do this?"

Athlete: "Last night."

Me: "Why would you workout like this (a) during our 16 week training program and (b) during a deload week?"

Athlete: "I wasn't working out. I was just going for a PR."

This guy didn't just throw paint on the Mona Lisa. He burnt it to the ground and danced around the ashes.

Meal Plan

Athlete J: "Coach, I didn't have breakfast or lunch today. Do you think I should go to McDonald's and get all of today's calories in one meal?"

Me: "Absolutely. Your body didn't need any nutrition prior to or during the training session we had. That is a very healthy way to live (all said sarcastically.)

Strained Hamstring

"I think it is from drinking too much and being hung over."

This is what an athlete said was the cause of his strained hamstring.

He believed drinking too much caused him to be dehydrated, thereby causing the discomfort he felt.

I guess he thought a lack of focus on mobility, technique, and rest had absolutely nothing to do with it?

Or, he takes all of his life advice from Jamie Foxx.

Big Calves

Athlete M: "Coach, I am not mentioning names, but a guy you used to train told me he is trying to get insanely overweight so he can get huge calves."

Me: "...    ...    ....  "

I actually had and still have no response to this.

All I can say is that all members of Advanced Training have some pretty yoked calves. It comes from years of Olympic lifts and daily jump rope sessions.

To prove my point, here is a picture of the point of triple extension on an Olympic Lift. Do you really think binge eating is going to work your calves more than this?

To further prove my point, I have provided 2 pictures of my calves. (Getting any pictures of me on this site is rare, so you know this is an epic moment.)

I am absolutely no light weight, but I am also not insanely overweight.

These calves are simply a by-product of the way we train.

Gotta love the BioTrust and the American Flag in the background

The Advanced Training Interview

"How many walkers have you killed?

How many people have you killed?

Why?" - Rick Grimes, The Walking Dead

The questions you read above may be part of the greatest oral interview process in the history of the world.
Both the answers you give, and how you give them, can paint a great picture of the type of person you really are.

For those of you who have not watched The Walking Dead, I am embarrassed for you. You clearly spend your free time watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians and cannot be trusted as a contributing member of society. Please immediately stop reading this blog and go get the latest copy of US weekly. It is definitely more up to your speed.

After having some deep "life" conversations with members of our program, I believe that Advanced Training needs a similar interview process.

Not only would it help me get a better feel for who is attempting to join the group, it may give them a better feel for what they are getting into.

All to often, people interview for jobs without really knowing what the job entails. They get the job, start doing work, and 6 months later realize they hate it.

In my world, it often means people join the program, love the workouts, but soon realize they cannot commit full time to our schedule and our lifestyle.

I immediately start thinking they are "soft" and they start thinking I am some sort of a tyrant.

All of this could be avoided with the right interview process.

With that, here are some of the interview questions I am thinking of asking all new members of Advanced Training.

1. How many times have you bench pressed this week? Why?

If the answer is zero, they are either soft or injured. (One could argue that they are on a legitimate deload week, but if they were that advanced, they probably wouldn't be coming to me for help.)

If the answer is > 1, they are either a meathead or they are using varying techniques to optimize their form and motor function. In my world, most people are simply meatheads.

2. What is your favorite type of bicep exercise?

  • Worst Answer ... "Barbell Curls" (or any other exercise that has the word "curl" in it)
  • Acceptable Answer ... "Chin-Ups"
  • Best Answer ... "I don't do biceps."
A guy that doesn't "do biceps" isn't a narcissist and would fit in very well with our program. I am not saying that developing your biceps is bad, I am just saying that actively doing so makes you someone I do not want to be around.

3. What are the top three things in your life?

If training (a.k.a. your health) is not one of the three, we will certainly have problems.

For me, here are my top 3.

1. Faith
2. Health
3. Family

Let the outrage begin!!!

To the "family" people who will call me selfish ...

Who is really more selfish ... the guy who keeps himself healthy so he can be physically appealing to his wife and have the energy to play with his kids ... or the guy who drowns his sorrows in comfort foods and booze, all the while paving the way for an early departure from this earth?

Many of you probably realized that "career" didn't even make it into my top 3. 

For me, being healthy is a major enabler to my career. 

It helps me get to work every day. 

It helps me to remain energetic and to bring energy to the people around me (which in turns makes them more productive). 

And most importantly, it helps remove the stress that would otherwise cloud my mind and stop my creativity.

Having said that, I do not recommend putting your career ahead of your own health.

For those of you focusing on your "studies" ...

It wouldn't be a blog if I didn't make some reference to my illustrious education.

Yes, I did go to Columbia University ... currently ranked #9 in the world. (Not the United States, the world).

And yes, I did get 2 degrees from said illustrious institution ... one from Columbia College and one from Columbia's School of Engineering and Applied Science.

But no, I would not say that your "studies" are more important than your health. In fact, I would tell you almost the same thing I told the career oriented people ... health is an enabler to your studies.

As a sidebar, I would like to formally state that I do not agree with school gyms being closed during finals week. There is no better way to relieve the stress from exams than to spend 45 minutes in the gym moving weight. 

To the people that are closing the gyms, I hope you realize that the students will simply find another way to relieve their stress. Unfortunately, those other ways are usually unhealthy.

4. Do you think any of these are acceptable reasons to miss a training session?

(If the answer is "Yes" to any of these, you shouldn't sign up for Advanced Training).
  • Your birthday
  • Your friend's birthday
  • Your wedding (I lifted on my wedding day)
  • To attend a sporting event (that you are not coaching or playing in)
  • To watch a sporting event
  • Being tired
  • Being stressed
  • Being sore
  • Having a hang-over
  • Having a cold
  • Being in jail (do jail house squats!!!)
  • Going on vacation (every decent hotel has a "fitness center")
  • Drafting your fantasy team
  • Going to a party / club / pub / day glow

In the past 15 years, I have only "missed" 2 scheduled training sessions. 

One was because I had unexpected oral surgery and couldn't talk. There was no way I could effectively coach without being able to speak.

The other was because I was violently ill. In my own defense, I set my alarm at 3AM to make an official go / no-go decision on a 5AM session. I didn't want my guys to be driving to the gym only to get a text that I was sick and had to cancel.

As yet another side bar, I have frequently gotten that same type of text many-o-time from guys I have trained. They amazingly get "sick" about 30 minutes before our session. Being hyper-vigilant for softness, I immediately assume they want to stay toasty warm in their bed or they have a massive hangover from the night before.

For a final side bar, I would also like to mention that I immediately rescheduled each of those 2 "missed" training sessions.

For me, missing a session is unacceptable and the only answer to interview question #4 is "No".

You're Welcome!

It's 35 degrees.

It's 6:15AM.

It's Thanksgiving morning.

And we are at Bloomingdale Park getting ready for a Strongman Training Session.

Bloomingdale at 6:15AM

As I am loading weight onto the prowler, I can hear my guys grumbling ...

"Who trains at 6AM the morning after Thanksgiving Eve?"

"You know how much abuse I took last night from my boys for going home early?"

"Is that frost on the ground?"

The Prowler ... at 6AM ...

The whining doesn't get me upset. It actually makes me happy.

Before any more of you go calling me "the meanest man on earth", (which is what one athlete's girlfriend referred to me as when she heard I scheduled the 6:15AM session) allow me to explain myself.

And allow me to do so by answering each of their grumblings above.

1. "Is That Frost on the Ground?"

First off, the answer is "Yes". There was frost on the ground.

It's the end of November and the sun hasn't come up yet ... What did you expect?

Secondly, like many other "hardships" in life, this frost proved to be an advantage rather than a detriment.

Frost reduces friction as the prowler slides along the turf.

Reduced friction makes pushing the prowler easier.

You're welcome.

3 semesters of physics at Columbia paid off ...

2. "Who trains at 6AM the morning after Thanksgiving Eve?"

Advanced Training does.


Two reasons:

  1. I want to create a situation where it is hard for you to go out and ruin everything you have been working for.
  2. I want to kick start your metabolism on one of the highest calorie consuming days of the year. If you get wrecked the night before, the odds of you training hard before eating 5 pounds of mashed potatoes and pecan pie are lower than the Jets taking the AFC East.
Nobody Cares About 2002

You're welcome.

If this makes you give up on the Jets too, double "You're Welcome". Your life will be much better for it. Trust me.

3. "You know how much abuse I took last night from my boys for going home early?"


Do you think I didn't take the same heat from my "boys" when I was 23?

Do you think I don't take the same heat now?

If going out with your boys is more important than training, you really shouldn't be part of Advanced Training. 

"But Coach, what about comradery? Isn't spending time with your friends important?"


So is having friends who make you better.

You leaving the bar early allowed you to see which of your "boys" really wants what is best for you. Any guy that tried to call you out does not have your best interests at heart.

You're welcome!

The Sacrifice Makes You Special

Despite all of their grumbling, I know that deep in their heart these guys love it.

They love being able to do what "normal" people can't do and they love making sacrifices "normal" people can't make.

And I can guarantee one thing ...

 ... That later on that night, while they were watching the Dallas Cowboys get smoked by the Panthers, they definitely felt more alive and more special than they would have if they went out and get wrecked on Thanksgiving Eve.

You're Welcome!

Interesting End Notes:

1. The session was actually scheduled for 7AM. Despite not wanting to get up early at all, the guys volunteered to make it earlier to accommodate the work schedule of one of our athletes.

2. Someone's girlfriend really did call me mean. Here is a snapshot of the actual text message. His comments are spot on by the way. (Except that he called me by my first name)

3. At about 6:30AM, another person came to the field to train (not as part of our group). I was honored to say that person was an Advanced Training member who was home from North Carolina for the holiday. I guess the lessons he learned never left him. I am also honored to say that he brought someone else with him. Talk about trying to make the people around you better ...

Toughman 2015

2012 ... one person tapped out and 3 others took more than 5 minutes

2013 ... no one tapped out and no one went over 4 minutes and 30 seconds

2014 ...no one tapped out and no one went over 3 minutes and 30 seconds

Unless you have the math skills of a zygote, it should be readily apparent that our guys were starting to destroy the Toughman.

With that, I decided to change the Toughman events for the first time in 3 years.

My main goal was to make it more about strength and less about speed or endurance. At the same time, I wanted to keep it centered around being tough.  

To make this happen, here is what we did:

1. We shortened the working distance from 40 yards to 15 yards.
2. We increased the weight on every station by almost 50%
3. We replaced the running sled pull with a seated sled pull.
4. We added a 5th station to the event, by making each athlete do sliders as their first and last station.

The diagram below details exactly how the event was set-up. 

Each athlete would move from the right side of the event to the left, not taking any breaks between each station. The person with the shortest time wins.

The Results

Despite adding 50% more weight and a 5th station, our guys ended up dominating this Toughman even more than they had in the previous design.

An ignoramus would say I made it too easy.

The world's greatest detective would look deeper into the situation.

I see moisture patterns on the sliders ...

There were 3 key factors to our domination.

1. We trained like animals.
2. Anyone who did not train like an animal could not participate.
3. It rained before and during the event.

What does rain have to do with it?

It has to do with a little thing called friction. Look it up!

Now for the results ...

Bronze Metal: Nick Fugallo

In 2014, Nick only got to watch the Toughman.
I would not let him participate, as he had not officially been training with us yet. 

His official training began a month later, and to be honest, he got smoked by the Prowler (a.k.a The Predator).

He also got smoked by the farmer's walk.

And he got smoked by the sliders.

Things weren't looking good for Nick ... too bad ...

Too bad Nick didn't care. 

He kept training like a savage. 

He worked on his grip.

He did extra reps of the prowler.

He improved his technique on the sliders and bam ...

He gets the bronze on test day by finishing in 1 minute 28 seconds.

(Note: Nick could have trimmed about 5-10 seconds off of his time had he not fumbled the farmer's walk in the middle of the event. This picture does not do the scenario any justice. You need to watch the full video at the end of the this blog to appreciate the hilarity of the situation.)

Silver Metal: Joe Sarno

In his rookie debut in 2013, Joe Sarno came in 3rd.

In 2014, he came in 3rd.

In 2015, he came in 2nd.

This gives him 3 metals in his first 3 events.

(Note: The only other athlete to do this was Toughman legend Teddy Clohessy.)

Joe has the grip strength and the temperament of a gorilla, which makes him a fierce competitor.

He literally plowed through every event, not showing a single sign of weakness or fatigue.

He completed the event in an incredible 1 minute 15 seconds and would have won had it not been for ...

Gold Metal: Ryan Smith

For the third straight year, Ryan Smith has come in 1st place in the Toughman.
(Note: The only other athlete to do this was Toughman legend Teddy Clohessy.)

He completed the event in 1 minute 13 seconds.

The only year he did not win was his rookie debut in 2012, where he came in 7th.

From that point on, it's been over Johnny.

Because I am brilliant, who better to quote than myself when talking about Ryan Smith in 2014.

"It is going to take someone with a great deal of talent and a great deal of drive to beat him in future events.

This is going to enrage a lot of people out there ... but face the facts.

When was the last time Ryan Smith missed a training session?

When was going to a party more important than getting better?

When was sleep more important to him than winning the Toughman?" - Coach Mahoney, 2014

This quote still holds true and probably will until Smith retires from Advanced Training.

I don't see too many guys willing to give up sleep and their social life to beat him.

Honorable Mention: Nick Carroll

Due to prior injuries, I did not allow Carroll to participate in any Toughman training (or the event) in 2014.
His condition was so bad, I didn't even let him perform sprint sessions with us.

Through some really hard work and really smart training (you're welcome), Carroll made himself a competitor in 2015.

If he continues to progress at this pace, he will be a threat in the future.

Purple Heart: Joe Schillaci

Over the past year, Joe has had a broken leg and a torn rotator cuff. When he came into Advanced Training, we really had to be careful about what he could and could not do.

As a result, he could not fully participate in Toughman training until about a month ago.

Despite all of those circumstances, he had a very, very good rookie showing.
He missed the bronze metal by under 2 seconds.

His only flaw was that he threw my poor farmer's walk down a hill during the event.

So, in reality, the Purple Heart really goes to my farmer's walk, and not Joe Schillaci.

(Like the picture of Fugallo fumbling the farmer's walk, this picture does not do the scenario any justice. You need to watch the full video at the end of the this blog to appreciate the situation.)

Schillaci throwing the farmer's walk

To see all the stats, click HERE.

The video I referenced a few times is attached below. Special thanks to Joe Mreczko for a great job of filming it. Next year he will be participating, so I am putting out the call now for a new camera man.

The 3 Biggest #Gainz (2015)

After every Test Week at Advanced Training, I post the "Top 3" Results for every testing category for the entire world to see.

By entire world, I mean the 150 people who actually care about what goes on in the inner circle of our training program. The remainder of the 7 billion on this planet couldn't care less about our Power Point System or where Ryan Smith ranks on the All-Time Power Point List.

Fortunately, I don't write these posts for everyone.

I write them for the 0.000002% (check my math if you dare) who have, are, or will be a part of this life style.

  • For the people that have been part of this program ... they get to see who is catching up to them and start to question whether they are too soft or too old to make an Advanced Training comeback
  • For the people who are in the program ... they get to see the results of their hard work paying off and then share those results with friends and family to brag about how jacked up they got.
  • For the people that will be part of the program ... they get to see what they are missing out on and hopefully get the courage to be a part of this thing next year.
Without further adieu, here are the "3 Biggest Gains" in each testing category after our 10-Week Summer Training session. 

BENCH PRESS: 3 Biggest Gains

  • Carroll                      180 to 205  (25lb gain)
  • Fugallo:                     240 to 260 (20lb gain)
  • Schillaci:                   290 to 310 (20lb gain)

DEADLIFT: 3 Biggest Gains

  • Carroll:                  290 to 315     (25 lb gain)
  • Smith:                    335 to 360    (25 lb gain)
  • Sarno:                    445 to 465    (20lb gain)

Pull-Ups: 3 Biggest Gains

  • Fugallo:             11 to 23       (12 rep gain)
  • Carroll:              12 to 22     (9 rep gain)
  • Smith:                28 to 37     (9 rep gain)

Broad Jump: 3 Biggest Gains

  • Carroll:              82.0" to 88.0"          (6" gain)
  • Mreczko:           101.0" to 106.0"   (5" gain)
  • Smith:                124.0" to 126.5"   (2.5" gain)

Power Points: 3 Biggest Gains

  • Fugallo:                     0.696 to 0.847 (.151 gain)
  • Carroll:                      0.620 to 0.767 (.147 gain)
  • Smith:                        1.000 to 1.116 (.116 gain)

To view everyone stats from 2015, click HERE.

To view the Top 20 All-Time, click HERE.