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Movement Standards Intro + Top Dog Testing | Devoted Fitness & Strength - YouTube
The Squat

Properly performing a barbell squat (or any squat for that matter) requires mobility at the hip and ankle as well as a good base of strength in the posterior chain and mid-line. The first things we want to make sure you nail down before progressing to more advanced squat variations are your mobility, stability, and muscle recruitment pattern in the body weight squat. Basically, insuring you've got the proper mobility at the hips and ankles and are utilizing the right muscle groups.

The below three tests must all be passed before being "green lighted" for a full barbell squats.

The Wall Squat Test
Squat Movement Standard - The Wall Squat | Devoted Fitness & Strength - YouTube

This is our first squat achievement level. In order to progress to squatting with weight, we require that you can perform ten (10) full-depth repetitions meeting the following requirements:

  1. Toes must be placed within the tape line and foot stance at slightly wider than shoulder width.
  2. Hands must be placed on your temples with vertical forearms directly in front of you and elbows pointed to the floor.
  3. You must be able to demonstrate proper mid-line control, not breaking into hyper extension or rounding the back at any level during the squat.
  4. We're looking for controlled descent during the entire squat without "crashing" into the bottom.
  5. Knees must be properly aligned over your feet with your femur angle matching your foot angle and not going beyond the plane of your toes.
  6. The bottom of your squat is defined by the crease of your hip being slightly below the top of your knee with a one (1) second pause.
  7. Your feet need to remain flat on the floor at all times without rolling inward or onto your toes.
The Lunge Test
Squat Movement Standard - Lunges | Devoted Fitness & Strength - YouTube

In addition to the Wall Squat Test, you must also be able to perform ten (10) alternating repetitions of a full and proper bodyweight lunge before squatting with any weight. Drop lunge or forward lunges will be acceptable, but both must meet the following requirements.

  1. Hands will remain folded on the back of your head.
  2. You must demonstrate balance and control with your posture must remaining upright during the entire lunge set without tipping forward.
  3. The length of your stride should produce a knee angle that's as close to 90 degrees as possible. Not too far or too short.
  4. Your front toes must point forward and knees must remain over your foot with the femur matching the angle of your foot.
  5. Your back foot should be placed perpendicular to the floor with your toes pointed forward and heel directly toward the sky.
  6. Each repetition will begin and end with your feet together. Only one foot may move during the repetition.
The Weighted Wall Squat Test
Squat Movement Standard - The Weighted Wall Squat | Devoted Fitness & Strength - YouTube

This is our second squat achievement level and must be obtained prior to barbell squats. The standards for the Weighted Wall Squat test are all the same as it's unweighted counterpart with one exception, it must be performed using a crush-grip kettlebell. Men must be able to perform ten (10) repetitions with a 53lb kettlebell and women with a 35lb kettlebell.


Once you're passed all three of these test, then you can be "green lighted" to squat with a barbell.

The Bench Press

The bench press is one of our most powerful upper body strength builders when performed correctly. However, performing it incorrectly causes excess stress on the shoulders and rotator cuff muscles and leads to shoulder pain and injury.

The following two tests are in place to insure that you're able to demonstrate the required total body tension, shoulder blade stability, and mid-line control, to perform the bench press correctly as well as your ability to safely control the implement itself (dumbbell or barbell).

Both test must be passed before you'll be "green lighted" for the barbell bench press.

The Dumbbell Bench Press
Bench Press Movement Standard - the Dumbbell Bench Press | Devoted Fitness & Strength - YouTube

The dumbbell bench press will be a valuable tool for building your strength for the pushup and the barbell bench press and is a safe way to master the pressing pattern. If you cannot yet pass your pushup test, these guys, in addition to practicing the pushup itself, will help you build the strength you need to perform the pushup.  We're looking for you to be able to complete ten (10) tight, controlled repetitions using 45lb dumbbells for men and 25lb dumbbells for women before moving on to the barbell. Each repetition must meet the following requirements.

  1. You must be able to control the weight at all points of the movement including properly getting the bells into and out of the press position.
  2. Your feet must be firmly planted on the floor and stay planted the entire time. You should be driving your feet down through the floor the entire repetition.
  3. Your butt must be squeezed tightly and remain in firm contract with the bench at all times.
  4. Shoulder blades should be "packed" together and down toward your butt, remaining in contact with the bench at all times.
  5. You body should be arched as if you're trying to shorten the distance between your shoulders and butt on the bench.
  6. Your head must be in contact with the bench at all times.
  7. Elbows should remain tucked into your body with vertical forearms at all times.
  8. The entire press should be controlled and not wobble or "crash" down to the chest. Dumbbells should move in a straight path.
  9. The bottom of the press is marked by your knuckles breaking the plane of your chest and the top by full extension of the elbows. You shoulder blades should not relax and roll out.
The Pushup (Test)
Bench Press Movement Standard - The Pushup | Devoted Fitness & Strength - YouTube

Pushups are a critical tool for anyone who's trying to improve their health, fitness, or strength. We are using the pushup here to show show improvement in upper body strength and total body control and stability. If you're lacking upper body strength or mid-line stability, the pushup will be broken.

We're looking for men to complete at least fifteen (15) full, chest-to-ground repetitions and for women to complete at least five (5) full, chest-to-ground repetitions before getting the green light to barbell bench press. Each repetition must meet all of the following requirements:

  1. Your hands are placed in a position that will align your thumbs directly underneath your armpits and fingers to point straight ahead.
  2. Shoulder blades should be active and "packed" down toward your butt and back together during the entire repetition.
  3. Your elbows should remain pulled into your body at about a 45 degree angle and not flare out to the side during any portion of the repetition.
  4. Your mid-line should be tight and aligned so that there's not low back "sag" and your butt does not shoot up in the air. We should be able to draw a straight line through your shoulders, ribs, hips, knees, and ankles. You must maintain this position during the entire repetition and not break.
  5. Each rep begins and ends with your arms fully extended at the top, shoulder blades remaining "packed." The bottom of the repetition is marked by your chest fully contacting the floor on each rep. Your hips and pelvis should not touch the floor, but come close.
The Deadlift

The deadlift is arguably the king of all barbell movements. There's nothing more primal than simply picking up something really heavy off the floor.  It's a powerful strength builder when done correctly, however the mechanics of the movement itself are often oversimplified.

A critical component of a good deadlift is the hip hinge. The hinge is you ability to bend at the hips while keeping your spine aligned and knees relatively fixed. If you cannot hinge properly, then the deadlift cannot be performed correctly or safely.

If you're looking to deadlift with a barbell (or trap bar), you'll need to pass both of the following tests.

Hip Hinge Test
Deadlift Movement Standards - Hinge & Swing | Devoted Fitness & Strength - YouTube

This test follows a very simple concept; we want you to be able to disconnect your hips and your spine and bend over by only moving at the hip joint. You'll need to be able to do this in order to keep your spine safe during movements that require the hinge (deadlifts and swings) and to be sure the right muscles are used as primary movers.

You'll be asked to perform five (5) repetitions meeting the following performance points.

  1. Feet are flat on the floor and shins remain vertical during the entire movement.
  2. The PVC pipe will be held by your coach on your back. You must keep your head, shoulder blades, and butt in contact with the pipe during the entire hinge.
  3. You'll be holding a second pvc pipe mimicking a barball. You need to keep your arms locked straight and the pvc in contact with your legs during the entire movement. The pipe should "slide" down your legs.
  4. Your knees must remain fixed in space with vertical shins. You butt and hips will travel backwards as you bend at the hip joint.
Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing is an awesome strength and power builder for the posterior chain. Being able to perform a proper kettlebell swing demonstrates complete control over your mid-line and your ability to recruit your legs to develop power instead of your back. A key sign that your swing needs improvements is extreme back fatigue or tightness while swinging.

You'll need to be able to perform a proper swing before you'll be able to deadlift with a barbell or trap bar. Men with a 53lb bell and women with a 35lb bell. Here are the performance points we're looking for.

  1. Feet stay flat and planted on the floor at all times. At no point during the swing should your heels leave the floor, even for an instant.
  2. You shins must remain vertical during the entire swing so as not to "squat the swing."
  3. We need to see a crisp hip and knee "pop" to an erect position. Slow legs often means you're pulling with your back rather than driving with the legs.
  4. The kettlebell should be hiked back under your butt, tight to your underwear and at no point should travel below the plane of your knees during the swing.
  5. You need to be able to maintain your spinal alignment during the entire swing and not round your back.
  6. You'll be required to demonstrate a controlled mount and dismount of the swing - picking it from the floor and returning it to the floor safely before and after your set.
  7. The kettlebell should swing to up to the height of your chest.


Overhead Movements
Overhead Movement Standards - YouTube

For our overhead movements we simply want to insure that you have a complete range of motion in your shoulder joint. If you cannot pass our overhead test, that means you're lacking end range of motion in the overhead position and will be placing your shoulders and lower back in jeopardy during overhead movements. We'll need to make sure you're consistently working on your mobility to improve this!

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If you have knee or low back pain while squatting, it's likely due to one of two technique errors. 

  1. Lack of midline stabilization (not addressed here) - This probably will cause low back pain. You're not properly breathing and bracing your midsection aka "core" so that it can stabilize your spine.
  2. Lack of glute and hamstring activation - This is typically cause be either weakness in those muscles or simply lack of activation in those muscles, leading to a knee and quad dominant squat. The resulting squat will have the knees shooting forward and caving inward and place a lot of stress on the knees and low back. 

Using box squat variations is a great way to learn to load your hips and better use your glutes and hamstrings. We use box variations regularly here at Devoted Strength to accomplish exactly that. The results is less low back and knee pain for our clients... and over time with practice, no pain at all. 

Check out this video for more details...

One Trick for Squatting Without Back and Knee Pain - YouTube

While this client's box squat is not yet perfect, it's a huge stride in the right direction and he immediately noticed relief from his knee and back pain. Once he's consistently able to load his hips and keep his knees out on the box, we'll then progress him back to a free standing squat using the same technique and cues.

One of the big things to look for when determining when to go back to a free squat is your control when touching the box. You should be able to gently "kiss" the box with your butt, rather than plop onto it. That gentle kiss will signify that your posterior chain is strong enough and you have enough control to support your new free squat technique. 

Keep in mind too, if you're not actually competing using the squat (or a barbell for that matter), there's nothing wrong with always using alternative squat variations. Stronger is stronger! If you choose to always squat with a box or even with something other than a barbell, that's cool. The important thing is that you're working to improve your body, mind, and strength.

If you're struggling to reach your goals, be sure to check out our 3 Week Trial Membership!

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As our members know, our programming here at Devoted Strength is pretty dense. We frequently use supersets, circuits, and complexes in our training that are meant to simultaneously build strength, muscle, mental toughness, and endurance. 

In order to get the most out of this type of training and make sure you're able to complete the workout in a reasonable amount of time, you have to be mindful of when you're resting or what you're doing in between exercises. Within any given complex, superset, or circuit, those movements are meant to be performed in quick succession. 

If you stop to take breaks in between the exercises within a particular set, then a couple things are happening:

  1. You're likely losing the desired training effect that performing the exercises together is meant to elicit. 
  2. You're adding unnecessary time to your workout - wasting time. Even just 30 misplaced seconds between exercises adds up to many minutes at the end of a workout.
Stop Stalling During Your Workouts - YouTube

The workout was a ladder of 20,15,10 Swings and Burpees with 40,30,20 situps. To be completed as fast as possible. Sure, I did not make it as fast as I would have liked, but the point is the same. Do not waste time. Push yourself. If you stop and take a break every time it gets tough, then you're missing out on the best part. 

Notice what I did not do: stop for water breaks, walk around, stare into space, complain... I stayed focused on the task at hand and only that. 

Perform the workout as prescribed. When multiple exercises are paired together, be sure to perform them that way. Stopping to "take a break," get a drink, stare into space, whatever, is taking away from the intent of the particular set. Do your absolute best to not add rest... you'll get to rest at the end of the set anyway. 

Replace your weights and rearrange your work space with a sense of urgency. Wait to change weights for the following set until the one you're in is complete - change weights during prescribed rest periods. Then, work to quickly transition between portions of the workout. 

As always, make sure to use excellent technique with every movement that you do. Rushing through the reps with sloppy form just to get it over with is wasting time too. You won't get anything out of it. 

And finally, use a weight that challenges you within those technical limits. If you're not being challenged by the weight... again, wasting time and reps. 

We train at Devoted Strength because we know that challenge is the only thing that can create change. Don't back down from the challenge of the workouts. Find new limits every chance you get. 

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Clients often ask how long, and with how much work, will it take to see considerable progress. The answer, although one that many are not willing to accept, is 130 hours.

130 Hours is the equivalent of training deliberately and intensely for one (1) hour per day, five (5) days per week. 

If you can consistently meet that criteria for at least 6 months, while also minding your nutrition and recovery, you can expect to see considerable progress toward your goals.

130 hours is completely realistic and doable for most people. We all have at least 5 hours to spare somewhere in our week. The biggest question is, are you willing to do what it takes and make the sacrifices necessary to set aside this time? Lack of time is no excuse. You'll need to audit your time and honestly assess your activities and priorities. 

You'll need to be willing to eat new foods and plan meals ahead of time, to go to bed earlier and get up earlier, and to challenge your body on days you may not feel like it. For many people it will also mean ditching favorite TV shows and severely limiting alcohol consumption. 

Regardless of the personal sacrifices that may be required to reach your goals, the 130 hour rule holds true.  At Devoted Fitness & Strength we make sure to coach you thoughtfully through this process, and help you eliminate obstacles to your success one at a time. 

-Coach Nick Haught

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It doesn't have to be pretty, but it shouldn't be ugly.

You can always count on the basics to get the job done. 

The world of fitness today is pretty crazy. you can hop online and find thousands of workouts and exercises within seconds. 

With all of that info out there, it can be easy to gravitate toward "pretty" and novel exercises and workout routines. The ones that promise to give you everything with minimal work. The ones that look exciting and new.

Here's the thing... the best and most effective exercises are still the most basic. 

Results come from consistently squatting, pressing, rowing, cleaning, and deadlifting weights of all kinds. From moving your body weight; pushups, pullups, dips, lunges, squats, jumps, etc. And from carrying and pushing heavy things like sleds around the room. 

These movements aren't extravagant or flashy. They're not pretty. They are effective!

December 13, 2016 - YouTube

They key to making consistent and quality progress is to focus on mastering these movements within each and every workout. It's in nailing the technique and learning to perform each repetition deliberately and with purpose. It's in trying to get just a little better every day.

If you're just going through the motions and not paying attention, you'll miss out on the most valuable aspects of your workout.

That's something that I see get skipped over all too often. The focus shifts from performing high-quality reps and movements to just getting the workout done. As a result, technique breaks down, people get hurt, and time gets wasted. Things get ugly. 

Not every workout has to be new and exciting. Nor should it be. There's tremendous value in routine. It gives you the opportunity to practice being strong and moving well, to learn from your mistakes, and to continually progress forward. 

Don't make the mistake of thinking that variety for the sake of variety is the key to progress. Pick the most effective exercises (and a few variations) and stick to them... for a long time!

At Devoted Strength we choose every exercise, from warmup to the last rep, with a purpose. Sure, things are always evolving. If we find a more effective movement or coaching cue, we'll make sure they get used. Even with that, the basics will never disappear.

Your workout doesn't have to be pretty, fancy, or state-of-the-art, but it should always be high-quality and effective. Never ugly, without focus, or without the goals of mastery and constant improvement. 

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The holiday season is a notoriously difficult time for anyone with a health and fitness goal. Food is every where you turn, family demands more of your time, and the number of temptations to stray from your healthy routine drastically increase. 

Every year millions of us health-conscious Americans struggle to get through these last few months of the year without completely undoing everything we've worked for over the past 9-10 months. But, more often than not, progress is lost and we come out on the other side fatter and in worse shape than we entered. 

With this post, I want to present to you a tried-and-true strategy for getting through the holidays while maintaining your results or even moving them farther than you thought possible. These tips are derived directly from my personal strategy as well as from advice that I regularly give to our clients here at Devoted Fitness & Strength. So here goes...

Don't Skip Your Workouts

Pretty much every year I hear someone say that they'll "be taking time of from the gym for the holidays." I can understand the temptation to do so too... Family is often in town, demanding more of your time or you'll be traveling to meet elsewhere. It gets pretty tough to fit in your workouts as usual. 

Consider this though... whenever you're trying to reach a fitness goal, especially one related to body composition, the balance between exercise and nutrition is vital. If you decide to skip out on your workouts this time of year, you're guaranteed to shift that balance in favor of weight and body fat gain. You're tipping the scales in favor of calorie intake rather than expenditure. 

Rather than skip your workouts, I suggest doing whatever it takes to continue to workout as usual (or get extra). This will mean having to plan your schedule out ahead of time, scope out gyms in the area that you'll be traveling to, and deliberately setting aside time specifically dedicated to your workouts. You may even have to have some body weight workouts in mind to do at a family member's house in case of emergency. 

Plan ahead to get those workouts in and make them a priority no matter what.

Drink Water

This is a pretty basic one here, but often overlooked.

Staying hydrated will keep cravings under control, help you feel more vibrant and energetic, take the place of other high-calorie drinks that may be near by, and help you feel satisfied sooner. 

Get a really big water bottle and keep it with you at all times. And don't forget to drink from it ;)


The single biggest danger of this time of year is that those holidays meals aren't just one meal. They're entire week-long food and alcohol binges. 

If you do nothing else form this guide, do this; Compartmentalize those feasts to only the main meals themselves and you'll survive.

On Thanksgiving for example, be sure that the Thanksgiving day meal is the only "feast" you're partaking in. Outside of that, do your best to stay on track with your nutrition by eating as you normally would otherwise. 

Your meals on the days leading up to, and on the day of, should consist predominantly of a lean protein source, lots of veggies and fruit, and high-quality carbohydrates. Stay away from the desserts, cheese trays, and alcohol binges whenever possible. 

Junk food will be everywhere. There's no avoiding it. You're going to have to practice the discipline of saying "no," even when grandma is shoving food in your face. 

I like to practice a "cheat next time" mantra. I literally say to myself, "if I stay disciplined now, I will reward myself next time." The trick is that "next time" is always in the future. 

Prepare healthy food Ahead of Time

Okay, it's easy to say "eat healthy on those other meals," but how the heck is that even possible? Pretty much all there is to eat is junk! What other choice do you have?

As painful as it is to say, compartmentalizing those feasts will mean you've got to be prepared ahead of time!

That means you'll need to have some alternative meals prepared ahead of time. Precook some lean proteins and have fresh cut veggies and fruit with you and easily accessible. If you're traveling, use plastic zipper bags or containers to take your healthy fixins with you. 

Heading to a restaurant? Look up their menu ahead of time and preselect your order. When you get there, don't even look at the menu. Order the healthy meal you decided on ahead of time. 

In general, think about what your schedule is going to be and plan ahead of time to make good decisions. Don't leave things up to chance.

Don't Skip Meals

Often times you'll be tempted to skip meals. "If I just don't eat all day, I can save all my calories for the feast later on," will likely cross your mind. 

My best advice here is to keep to your regular meal schedule. If you start skipping meals, you'll depress your metabolism and be more likely to over-indulge on junk... especially on all the random appetizers laying around. And trust me, those calories add up fast!

There is one adjustment you should make to your other meals though; limit the carbs. Stick mostly to lean protein and fresh veggies or fruit. 

Contribute to the meal

Another great way to insure there's healthy food available to you is by contributing to the main meal. Don't just show up with fork-in-hand ready to eat whatever's there. 

Prepare a healthy side dish or two to take with you. That way you know without a doubt that you've got something to eat at that main meal that's good for you!

One of the easiest things you can do is roast a big pile of mixed veggies in the oven. Drizzle some olive oil, fresh black pepper, salt, and garlic powder (or fresh garlic) over broccoli, colored peppers, onions, brussel sprouts, carrots, asparagus, and any other veggies you like.

Make enough to share and load up at meal time.

Take home healthy leftovers

There's always leftovers. The key is only taking home the ones that support your goals. After all, if it's in your house you or someone you love is eventually going to eat it. 

Skip out on taking home desserts and rich sides, and grab more of the proteins and veggies that are leftover. Turkey, hams, green beans, etc are all at these meals in plenty. Let someone else take the junk home.

Forgive yourself and enjoy

Okay, so you've got your workout in, you prepared food ahead of time, and you worked really hard on compartmentalizing your meals, now it's time for the main event. 

Load your plate with protein and veggies first, then add in whatever else you like to eat. You're human after all! Enjoy the foods you like that you wouldn't normally eat.

When the meal is over, wipe the slate clean and immediately get back on track with the normal healthy eating that supports your goals. 


Good luck to you all on your fitness journeys this season!

The new year is fast approaching. Wouldn't it be nice to start off next year already fitter than you've ever been? Get the ball rolling with a free trial of our training here at Devoted Fitness & Strength with the link below! 

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The Real Secret to Becoming Fit, Strong, and Healthy is Simply Starting in the Right Place!
Welcome to Devoted Strength.

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Attention Men and Women who are actively trying to lose body fat and want to avoid these 5 huge Fat Loss MistakesDevoted Fitness & Strength is holding a special Charity Toy Drive event to benefit Summit County Children Services' Holiday Toy Room

On  November 12, 2016  we're opening our doors for a special class on how to avoid the Five Biggest Fat-loss Mistakes you can ever make. This will be a two (2) hour class from 10:30AM to 12:30PM and feature the some of the most commonly seen mistakes that will hold you back from reaching your fat-loss goals. If you've been struggling to lose any amount of body fat, then this is the place to be.

All you need to do is register with the link below and bring a toy donation with you on the day of the event. Below is a link to Summit County Children Services' Holiday Toy Room giving ideas flyer. Please download and review the flyer so that you know exactly how best you can help!

Use this button to be taken directly to our registration page.
There's no fee to attend, just bring a toy donation with you that day.
Register now


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Carbohydrates (carbs) are easily the most misunderstood macronutrient. With the recent popularity of paleo, gluten-free, and grain-free diets, it's easy to fall into thinking that all grains and grain-based carbs are bad.

That's simply not the case. At least not in the philosophy we use here at Devoted Strength. 

I prefer to teach our clients that carbs must be chosen and used strategically. That means choosing the right carbohydrate sources at the proper time.

Cereals, crackers, pretzels, granola bars, and a wide variety of other processed carbs don't make the cut!

Before I go too much further, however, it's prudent to discuss how we classify our carb intake into two distinct types; Vegetables & Fruit sources versus Starchy carb sources.

Vegetables and Fruit

Vegetable and fruit sources are simply that; veggies and fruit. They're extremely powerful carb sources in that they provide a tremendous amount of vitamins, minerals, and fiber at a relatively low calorie and sugar ratio. 

In other words, for the amount of calories you eat from veggies and fruit, you get a ton of bang for your buck!

How much veggies and how much fruit you ask?  

This will depend on your goal. As an overall recommendation, we like to have our clients try to eat at minimum 5-7 total servings of veggies and/or fruits per day. 

From there, if you have a fat-loss goal, we recommend eating those veggies and fruits at a ratio of about 5:1.  For every serving of fruit you eat, you should eat 5 servings of veggies.

For a muscle gain or performance goal, that ratio can look a little more like 3:1. 

In general though, eat a wide variety of veggies and fruits throughout the day and week. "Eat the rainbow" sounds a bit cliche at this point, but it's true.

Serving sizes

single servings of broccoli and berries

So what does a serving of veggies of fruit look like? Make a fist. The size of your fist is one serving of veggies or fruit. Yes, it's that simple.

Starchy Carbs

Starchy carbs still can provide a high fiber, vitamin, and mineral content for your body, but they typically come with a higher ratio of calories. 

These are things like pastas, breads, potatoes, oatmeal, quinoa, rice, and other whole grains.

Serving size

serving-size potato

A single serving of starchy carbs should fit in the cupped palm of your hand. Potato the size of football? Unless you're the Jolly Green Giant, I suggest downsizing.

Earn Your (Starchy) Carbs

We teach the phrase "Earn your carbs" here at Devoted Strength. This refers directly to starchy carbs, but can also include some of the more carb-dense fruits like bananas. 

Think of carbohydrates at the energy your body uses to do hard work. If you had or have planned a tough workout for the day, then you will be earning those carbs. If not, then it's a day to use them more sparingly.

Timing is critical.

Here's how I use the "earn your carbs" mantra...

post-workout shake and banana

My day begins at 4:00AM and I typically workout between 7:30 and 9:30AM. Usually for just over an hour. One those days, I eat a diet slightly more dense in starchy carbs... I'm earning them without a doubt. 

On those hard training days, I like to focus my starch around my workouts. As I recommend that both my muscle-gain and fat-loss clients do. 

This means I will eat about 1-1.5 servings of starch with breakfast at 4:30AM. I will have a banana with my post-workout shake, then I wait until dinner time (7-8PM) to have another serving of starchy carbs. 

Why do I do this? I've learned over the past 15 years of experimenting that my body functions best for my workouts if I have a quality starch at dinner time. That way my body is fueled and ready to go the next day. 

I typically recommend a starch with breakfast, just to be sure your body is good-to-go for the day. But, if lifestyle, workout schedule, and family dynamics dictate, the recommendations will change to Post-Workout and Dinner time or some other combination. 

The rest of the day

Chicken breast, green peppers, rainbow carrots

During the middle of the day, my diet focuses on a large intake of fresh veggies and moderate amounts of fruit. While my goals are to gain muscle and strength, I find that I stay leaner this way. In order to increase my overall calorie intake for gaining strength and muscle, I simply increase the servings of starch at breakfast or post-workout. 

The most important thing to remember is that you have to be observant to how your body reacts to the timing and adjust accordingly. This is something I work with clients in detail on.

Top 5 Carbs that Keep You Lean

So what are my top 5 Carb sources?

  • Vegetables and Fruit
    It seems obvious that I will look to these guys first. As should you. The wide variety of vitamins and minerals will keep you body feeling healthy and your metabolism peaked.
  • Old Fashioned and Steel Cut Oats
    Old fashioned oats are still able to be cooked rather quickly in the microwave, but they not nearly as process as instant oats. Steel Cut Oats (slow oats) need to be cooked for a while on the stove top of over night in the croc-pot.

    Old fashioned oats are my go-to. I will eat them at breakfast or add them to any meal that's missing a high-quality starch to fuel my workouts. Last night, for example, I had a giant spinach salad with chicken and other veggies. I added oatmeal to round it out for today's workout. 

    Just stay away from the instant flavored stuff. There's way too much sugar in there!

old fashioned oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa

  • Quinoa and other whole grains.
    Quinoa, Long-grain/wild rice, brown rice, barley, etc. These guys are all power-packed and high quality. They typically show up at dinner time for me, but I know some who like them with breakfast. 
  • Ezekiel Bread and products
    Toast, english muffins, tortillas, sandwiches... these guys are great for all. Sprouted grain breads are probably the single best type of bread you can eat. A sprouted grain has superior nutrient content and will digest more readily than even whole wheat products.

    These are my go-to breads for toast at breakfast or the occasional panini at dinner.
  • Potatoes
    Last but certainly not least, these guys are at the bottom of my list for one reason. The simply don't give me the same energy levels for my morning workouts as the others on this list. I'm not sure why, it's just something I've discovered over the past year or so.

    With that being said, potatoes are certainly a top-notch starchy carb and they taste awesome! 
  • (BONUS) Kodiak Cakes
    These are a recent discovery for me and I've yet to make a final determination as to if they will stay in my diet. I'm a huge pancake fan though, and these guys make a rock-solid protein pancake mix that's definitely worth a solid look. 

Until next time


Lifestyle-Nutrition Coaching

Nutrition Coaching

Devoted Strength's Online Lifestyle-Nutrition Coaching Program is designed to help you build skills and habits that will allow you to adapt your eating to your goals AND your lifestyle.

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Fitness and performance supplements are everywhere. The number one question I hear on a regular basis is "what supplements should I take for XYZ results."

Honestly, the answer is usually "It depends..."

The number one thing you have to consider when thinking about supplements is how do they complement you nutrition program.

First thing you need to do is make sure you have a solid nutrition plan. Second, you need to make sure you stick to that plan consistently.

If you don't already have both of those things under your belt, then stop and get it figured out.

Once you have a solid nutrition game plan, then, and only then, is it time to consider nutritional supplements. If you skip those two steps, then you're just wasting your money.

Essential Supplements

So what does it mean to be "essential?"

It does NOT mean that you are required to take this or that supplement. Rather, it means that these supplements could be used to increase your overall intake of a whole-food nutrient that you're struggling with or that you find to be scarce in your diet.

You should chiefly be consuming these nutrients from whole-food sources, only resorting to supplements as a backup.

Here are a few examples of common Essential Supplements:
  • Protein Powders - Look to whole food sources from meat, chicken, eggs, dairy, fish, nuts, legumes first!
  • Fish Oil - Great for helping lubricate joints, reduce inflammation, and feel better. You'd consider this if you rarely eat fatty fish like salmon.
  • Greens Supplements and Multi-Vitamins - These may be looked to if your diet is notably lacking in a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) - Assist in muscle gain and/or maintenance while losing weight. If you're doing a good job with your whole-food protein, you'll likely be getting plenty of these.
Non-Essential Supplements

These nutrients are never required, but could provide an added advantage when they complement and solid nutrition program.

As with Essential Supplements, a solid nutrition program and adherence to that program are minimum requirements before taking any of these supplements.

Here are a few examples of common Non-essential Supplements:
  • Caffeine - provides a "boost" of energy.
  • Green Tea Extract - said to help boost metabolism and fat burning
  • Creatine - assists your body's natural strength/power energy system by increasing the availability of PCr.
  • Beta Alanine - said to aid in the buffering of lactic acid during exercise.
  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) - said to help mobilize fat stores for fat loss.


Until next time,



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The Real Secret to Becoming Fit, Strong, and Healthy is Simply Starting in the Right Place!
Welcome to Devoted Strength.

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2016 Devoted Strength Challenge for LLS - YouTube
This will be the First Annual Devoted Strength Challenge for LLS

First off, thank you for your interest and support for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society (LLS).

This year's fundraiser strength and fitness challenge will be held at Devoted Fitness & Strength in Cuyahoga Falls on Saturday, October 15, 2016.

Check-ins and warmups begin at 10:15am. First event will start at 11:00am. All events should be wrapped up by 1:00pm

We're asking for a minimum of $30 donation if you wish to compete. If you simply wish to donate to the cause, please feel free to donate your desired amount.

We will hold three (3) events:

  1. One-minute Deadlift medley (with a twist)
  2. 2-Rep Max Bench Press
  3. A mystery work capacity challenge

Athletes will compete in one of two (2) divisions:

  1. Men's Open
  2. Women's Open
To register as an Athlete or to simply donate to the cause, please use this link... Register Here

Thank you all for your participation!

-Nick Haught
Owner/Head Coach

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