Tagged as: David Deleon

Dead lifting, Elevated


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During our Strength/Power/Speed portion yesterday we had elevated dead lifts. For some this was a new movement and many had questions as to why we were using this technique.

Since it was such a popular question, here are a few reasons why we choose to use an elevated dead lift on some, not all occasions.

1) First and foremost I use an elevated dead lift with athletes who lack the ability to set up in a good dead lift position due to mobility. I have coached many who are so wound up in different areas of their body, that starting a dead lift from the ground is, as of now, impossible to do without potentially causing harm to the body.

So, for these individuals, we raise the bar which decreases the range of motion for the movement but also allows them to set up in a near perfect set-up. Over time, we will decrease the height of the bar while working on their mobility until they are able to correctly pull from the ground. This has by far been the best scale for dead lifting when it comes to helping athletes with poor mobility in their set up.

2) The elevated position on someone of average height usually sits just below the knee (I’m guessing around 2-3 inches). This is usually a sticking point for most athletes when going for a 1 RM. By starting the bar at this position, we can use more weight than usual and train that sticking point. Although you may still not be able to pull above 100% from this position, you can get better quality reps at 90-95%. If you want to get rid of that sticking point, attack it!

3) We want to create a new stimulus. In order for your body to make changes be it in strength, flexibility, weight loss, etc. it must be put under different stimulus throughout training. A body that does the same thing over and over again will eventually stop seeing results. By starting with the bar in a higher position, the body must adapt and in turn will begin to make changes in accordance with the new movement.

Has your dead lift peaked? Maybe it is time to change up how you train it. If your only means thus far has been pulling from the ground, try implementing pulling from an elevated position. Or, if your body is up to it, train from a deficit. The great thing about your body is it wants to adapt to new stimuli. You just have to be the one that puts it in place.

If you have questions, or other ways you like to train your dead lift, let us know! We’d love to hear and share it with others.


Train hard,

– Coach David de Leon

5 Ways to Live a Happy(ier) life

 austin zoo donation


There are probably over a million books and blogs written on the how to topic of living a happier life. What is great about all of them is that for the most part they all work for someone out there. I like to believe I live a happy life. When I wake up, I’m excited to go to work! The people who surround me are all incredible and they give me something to be happy about each and every day.

So to add to the millions of blogs online about living a happy(ier) life, I would like to add number one million and one. Below are 5 things I have added to my daily routine to help me live a happy life.

1) Be Someone to Someone: A little less than 2 years ago I began mentoring a student in the school district I went to my whole life. The extra time was found, and once a week I get to spend a quick 20 minutes hanging out and listening to my mentee. Many of us grow up wanting to be someone special, me included. But there is nothing more special than being there for someone who needs you.

2) Spend at least 20-30 minutes per day outside: Being 2014, there is no surprise that electronics and technology dictate a lot of what we do each day. But with all of the chaos online and on T.V., you cannot forget to take the time to just be outside. Whether it be 20 minutes or an hour, mother nature has provided us a lot of things to enjoy, go discover some.

3) Fire your friends: We become who we routinely surround ourselves with. Unfortunately, some allow themselves to constantly be around that negative friend or friends who gush constantly about how awful their lives are. You know who I am talking about. They never seem to have anything positive to say about other things or people. Of the items on this list, I believe this is the one thing everyone should do ASAP. Will it be easy? Probably not. Negativity is a powerful thing, and if you want your life to be filled with happiness, you have to get rid of the negative be it your best friend or now.

4) Be a Care-Less person: That’s right, be care-less. No, not careless in your actions, but care less about whether others think what you are doing is best for you. Now let me say this, being care less doesn’t mean to be a sloppy joe and walk around in your PJ’s and say, “I don’t care”. Have standards. If there is something you really want to do, do it. Don’t let the thoughts of others stop you from seeing the world, starting a business, or inventing a product. Care less, do more.

5) Drink a gallon of water per day: As some of you know, Coach Courtney is also a Coach for Pump & Shred. One of the many things I have picked up from her coaching others is being strict on them drinking a gallon of water per day. I have started to and am trying my best to do this daily as well. The days that I am on spot with it, I feel the benefits the next day. I have TONS of energy and my mood is just better over all. I don’t feel fatigued during the day, my focus is on point and my workouts are awesome (pauses to take drink of water). When I feel good physically, I feel even better mentally and that makes me a very happy person!

So there they are ladies and gentlemen. They may not work for everyone, but they have worked for me. A sad life is a wasted life. Do the things that make you happy daily and you will reap the benefits physically, mentally and emotionally!

Do you have ways to live a happier life that you would like to add? Let us know!

The Neglected…

When you go to the gym there is a plethora of things to do. From box jumps to clean and jerks, how do you pick which one to do next? Even with all of these other great movements, there is one we all seem to neglect. This oh so simple exercise is so great, one sport pretty much requires that the greatest athletes who participate in it also become a master of this exercise. One long piece of string attached to two handles has endured the times but is far to often over looked. So ladies and gentleman, let’s get together and bring the JUMP ROPE back to life.

Conditioning, speed, weight-loss, agility, coordination and really nice calves are a few of the benefits of jumping rope. So if people who use it can benefit in those areas, how come more people don’t use it? Simplicity, that’s what it is. The jump rope is so simple that people believe it is not effective. In a world of efficiency, it is crazy to believe that we look for the most difficult ways to get fit. From machines that need instructions just to use the, to one and a half hour long DVD workouts, our mindset when it comes to fitness is, the more and crazier it can be, the better the results will be. Where has simplicity, efficiency and effectiveness gone?

If you want to get stronger, find a coach who will introduce you to barbells and kettlebells. By introduce I mean someone who will wed you with those things. Getting stronger means getting under a barbell and putting in work. No need to go crazy on the next state of the art machine. Just simple be coached to lift and train properly. You want conditioning? Go to a track and run sprints or grab a jump rope and start jumping.

Don’t get caught up in machines and madness Keep it simple, keep it smart, and keep it effective.

Do you have these 3 items in your fridge?

From the good to the bad, our refrigerators are full of foods, drinks, and condiments. Some of these things sit for weeks and rot away, while others sit for years and still taste the same (probably not a good thing). But of all the things that are in your fridge, here are the 3 that we think should always be in there!


1) Topo Chico Lime: This is for no nutritional reason, but Coach David and Courtney love TOPO CHICO LIME. Yeah, you’ve heard of topo chico, but have you had lime? It is a healthier alternative to those drinks that have artificial sweeteners and all of that other junk. It’s not an energy drink, and honestly I wouldn’t replace my water intake with Topo Chico Lime, but I love having a bottle during dinner. The even better news, they are only $0.63 at your local HEB.



2)  Raw Spinach: Mmm do you taste that? It tastes like nutrients. Whether you eat it raw, blend it in a shake, or put it in a skillet for a few seconds to let it soften up before you put it with your chicken, you cannot go wrong with raw spinach! We will say this though, don’t let it sit too long. The leaves get gooey and the taste is pretty miserable.


3) Apples: It really doesn’t get much more basic than this. Why an apple? Because when you are hungry, but not that hungry, it gives you a reason not to grab something quick that you KNOW you shouldn’t be eating.



This post wasn’t written to tell you something scientific about foods. What it really is, is what we have and don’t go without in our fridge every week.

What are 3 foods you continuously keep stocked up in your fridge?

A Reason For Max Effort

jimmy edit swings


Yesterday at OTL our “Work” section consisted for the following:

5 Sets of 2 Unit run (approx. 230 meters) immediately into max rep American Kettlebell swings. The weight was 16Kg for women and 24Kg for men.

Our goal was to get our athletes to hit their sprints as hard as they could in order to push their blood circulation to their legs. Once they were back in, the immediate move to the kettlbell would force the athletes to deliver the appropriate hip extension in order to take the kettlebell over head as well as begin to push blood back up to the shoulders.

Although the above portion is great and all, the real objective behind “max effort swings”  was to challenge everyone mentally. The point of max effort is not “until you are tired”. The point is to go until you can no longer maintain proper form or until your hands can no longer hold on.

Why is this mental push important? Whether you are an athlete, or just an average Joe, you should frequently force yourself to go beyond its limits. Luckily for most (or unluckily as we see it), we live in a culture which protects people from having to live past their comfort zone. By doing so, we tend to stay very mediocre in all that we do. Those who are willing to frequently go there, there being a place of discomfort, find themselves making leaps and bounds in all aspects of their lives over those who like to be comfortable.

Not every day will be an all out day, we understand that. But force yourself to go there more often. The truth is your mind will tell you to slow down or to let go well before the body physically has to. Don’t be afraid to not listen and to keep going. Try to get out of your comfort zone in your other life activities as well. Go beyond what is asked of you even if it is not easy to do so. The easy way will keep you exactly where you are right now for the rest of your life.

Great work yesterday athletes! You still have some time left with your conditioning phase, so stay in there and keep pushing the limits.


What does “universal scalibility” even mean?

katie DL Final


 What is a scale?

In a world of “Universal Scalability”, what does it really mean to scale a movment?

By: Coach David de Leon


When it comes to training a group of individuals, it is very important for a coach to understand that each athlete has his/her own abilities and deficiencies. Why is this important? Because when it comes to strength training and conditioning, the coach must be able to adapt the training method in order to reduce the risk of injury while still allowing the athlete to get the most out of their training. The ability to do so is even more important when the training is not one-on-one, but in a group setting.

Many gyms use the term “universal scalability” very loosely. The way I have seen it interpreted is “just go lighter”, which is more of the uneducated coaches form of scaling. A true scale is made when the coach understands the deficiency or compensation being made by the client, and provides a different form of the movement in order to reduce the clients risk of injury while still getting the benefit of the specific task.

Here’s an example from the gym last night at OTL: In one of our evenings classes we have two clients whose deficiencies relate to lack of mobility and lack of midline stability. The movement? Deadlift. Which is a great example because it is so feared, but yet is one of the safest and most beneficial lifts of all time.


greg DL final


When the weight taken from the ground (starting position), these two athletes tend to lose midline stability or have trouble properly setting up for the lift. The fix? It is not lighter weight. Instead we increased the height of the starting position of the lift. This height change allows the athlete to properly and safely set up for the lift. The decrease in range of motion does 3 main things: 1) Decreases the risk of injury especially as weight is increased 2) Allows the athlete to “feel” the proper set up/movement 3) The fix correlates with the athlete deficiencies which should have been found during an assessment prior to them starting training. This ladies and gentlemen is a scale. The same muscles are being worked, the athletes risk of injury is decreased and the scale relates to the problem. Most importantly THEY ARE GETTING STRONGER!

Yes, over time you can make your way back down to a normal start position as the athlete fixes their deficiencies. But simply telling them to “go lighter” will never fix anything. And believe it or not, injury can occur with light weight if the proper technique and set up still aren’t there.

So what really makes scaling universal? It is the ability to get the same result using a means that is safer, in correlation with a clients deficiencies, and allows for progress in a movement over time.

This is easily done at OTL because our focus is not to make our clients elite. It is to fulfill them with a life of health, wellness, activity and most importantly longevity. When the focus is only how hard/fast/heavy can you go, we lose sight of what it means to build someone up, over time and without injury, to be the strongest and most conditioned person they can be.

Be it elite, or just to live a healthy life, coaches must understand their athletes and truly care about where they are and where they want to be.

Until next time, scale properly and reap the benefits!


Slow and Steady Wins The Strength

leigh deadlift


As we begin to phase into a focus on our conditioning, we will also begin to get back to the 3 movements we believe are very important in building our strength foundation. No, we didn’t contradict ourselves. We are focusing on conditioning, but our strength section will still be there with a focus on the foundations of: Deadlift, Squat, Press. However, as we begin to revisit these movements, you will notice our focus is STILL NOT speed (speed meaning “tap-and-go” which we will never focus on) but rather a focus on structural set up, grip strength, stability and slowing things down.

Here is what we notice. Athletes tend to come in who have learned to move quickly over moving correctly. This is absolutely NOT what we are about. When it comes to strength movements, OTL does not believe in as fast as possible repetitions. Although that style of movement is currently popular in some areas of the fitness industry, our coaches have recognized that athletes tend to lose midline stability and quality of movement declines when speed is put ahead of technique over multiple repetitions especially in beginner lifters. Over time, this can foster not only improper movement, but injury as well. We understand that not every rep is perfect, nor do we believe they should be. What we do expect is that athletes understand proper set up both physically and mentally as they approach a barbell for a lift.  Over the next 4 weeks you will hear cues in regards to setting the bar down between reps, re-setting your body into proper positions and taking your time through our strength portion.

As you head into this next phase of training, do not rush things. This is a great time to take the weight back and rebuild, especially if you have had injury or trouble with these movements in the past. Do not let this phase frustrate you. Everything we do is for a reason and 99.9% of the time the reason is in favor of our athletes.

Reminder: Bring your notebooks to class and record weights. If you are not doing this, we will question your desire to get better. If you aren’t tracking, you won’t know if you are going forwards or backwards.



What It Takes

ladies on the sandbags


From Coach David de Leon…

Go into a library or book store and you will find hundreds of books that will tell you what it takes to live a great life, or to be successful, or to be rich, or even a better lover. I am not expert in the field of what it takes, but I do have some opinions of my own.

OTL was created when I was a teenager, at the time it went by the name “RawFit” but the same training mentality was already taking place. I have always had the same intention in my training, to help others develop physically in order to give them the strength, power, energy and confidence it would take to tackle all aspects of their lives.

With this in mind, I developed 4 actions and processes everyone should take, or go through regularly in their lives in order to have what it takes to live an inspired life.

1) Lift heavy and Odd objects routinely: This is not me declaring that everyone must be the next strong man. Lifting heavy/odd objects is a task you will do for the rest of your life. Rather, it is me telling you to practice a simple task that you will repeat over and over again in life. You would be surprised how much a 40lb sandbag can resemble a sleeping child who needs to be carried to her bed, get my drift? Learning to lift heavy and odd objects now will allow you to explore the world in your 20’s, pick up your new wife in your 30’s, carry your child in your 50’s, and take your sleeping grandchildren to bed in your 60’s.

2) Sprint with your shoes off (kind of): In college I found a park that had soccer fields with incredibly soft grass. I began sprinting on them barefoot and found myself naturally correcting the way I ran. (To be clear, it’s not so much the sprinting on grass I suggest you do, but sprinting in general. The soft grass is just an extra). Just as we should always be able to walk without the assistance of others, given we have not had an outside influence to why we cannot, I believe we should always be able to sprint/run. Find a park or some sand and feel your connection with the ground. Go see the sites, and smell the smells from a runner’s point of view.

3) Work incredibly hard: I know the opposite saying is “work smart, not hard” but I believe you should do both. When it comes to the gym, I expect everyone to work hard.  It is the 1 hour of time you have dedicated to giving it your all. Outside of the gym should be no different. In all of the work you decide to do, you should decide to do it with everything you’ve got. Why else would you do it? If you can push through 1 hour of weightlifting and running, you can surely push through the rigors of your work and personal life as well, no matter how hard you may think it is.

4) Find a group of like minded people: Why do I expect everyone to work hard in the gym? Because whether or not you believe it, you influence those around you. Whether it is for good or bad, every action you take will influence someone around you. In order to live an inspired life, you must find a group of others who are just as inspired. Settling for anything less will only bring you down. Find others who are bigger than you, stronger than you, smarter than you and who push you past your limit. If you are one who always likes to be the “smartest” or “superior” person, than you are the one not doing yourself a favor. Learn from those around you and be influenced to become greater. And on that same note, be willing to help others who look to you for direction.


How often do you practice these 4 things? Which of the 4 do you tend to do the most? The least? If you have yet to try all four, give it a shot. Lift heavy and odd objects, sprint barefoot, work incredibly hard, and find an uplifting and inspiring group of people. You never know what you will discover about yourself.


– Coach David de Leon