To Listen to Music or Not While Exercising? That is the WRONG Question.

I was scanning my news reader this morning and noticed that the top two entries had a little something in common…or not.

So, let me get this straight… two popular fitness-themed websites uploaded two different articles that suggest two completely opposite approaches on the question of whether to listen to music while running…within 6 minutes of each other. Oh, the irony.

Now, I didn’t read the articles – no interest whatsoever. And just between you and me, I’m not much of a music listener while I train – sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. But I never listen to it while I run (tried it once, and never again!). And this got me thinking.

In the fitness industry, we’re almost always asking the wrong questions (and the same goes for the health industry, as a whole – and especially in certain sections of it like weight loss, diets, supplements, etc.).

So, let me propose something here. Instead of asking whether or not listening to music is a good idea while running, or worse yet, if it’ll help improve your performance, why not simply ask yourself if you – yes, YOU – actually want to listen to music while you run. And if you do, then go for it. And if not, then don’t. And then forget about it! Of course the experience will be a little different! And of course there will be some advantages and disadvantages to each method. But who cares as long as YOU are happy with your choice?

All of this over-analyzing distracts us from the most important issues – like the fact that we should all be spending more time outdoors exercising – whether running or otherwise – with ear buds or without. That’s what really matters, folks.

So, stop waiting for permission to do what you love – and how you love to do it. Just get going! And hey, if you’re an analytical type and you’re interested in the performance applications and other idiosyncrasies of listening to music while running, then go ahead and look into it. Apparently, there are people out there researching this stuff and sharing their findings with the world. And that’s great! Good for them.

But I think the most important issue here is that we should stop this endless search for MORE information and validation and just get going with what we already know to be true – that exercise is really good for us and that spending time outdoors is REALLY good for us, etc. So, let’s do those things and not worry about the trivial details like whether or not to listen to music. Trust me. There’s more important stuff to worry about.

So, if you want to stop struggling with your fitness regiment, then stop asking the wrong questions. Make sure you’ve got all your big rocks in the jar before you put in the little rocks, the sand, and the water.

Coach Siff, OUT!

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6 Reasons Why You Never Have Time to Exercise

male in city

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I just love it when someone tells me…

I can’t believe you have time for all of that. I could never do that. I’m just always so busy.

Translation: Don’t you have a life?

As if I have nothing better to do with myself and have all this free time I can use to exercise and engage in other so-called “lowly pursuits” because I’ve got nothing important going on in my life.

Give me a break!

First of all, I don’t just “have time for all of that.” I MAKE TIME for what’s important to me. I’ve got the same 24 hours a day as everyone else, and somehow, I’ve managed to integrate exercise and other health-improving habits into my schedule, the same as many others do each and every day.

note: that word “integrate” is key!

And get this, I’ve managed to do this for most of my life. Sure, it was easier when I was younger and had less responsibilities, but even as my workload and stress-load has increased in recent years, I’ve managed to keep my actions [mostly] in line with my priorities (ever heard of those?). No, I haven’t gotten everything perfect and I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, but I’ve stayed the course and have kept moving forward despite the challenges and setbacks, among other things.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about you, and in particular, why you don’t “have time for all of that.” I’d really like to know.

You see, based on my experience, these are six of the most common reasons why most people supposedly don’t have enough time for exercise. And many of them are not what you’d expect.
Continue reading 6 Reasons Why You Never Have Time to Exercise

Interview with Navy SEAL, Stew Smith, about Pull-up Training

Learn a Navy SEAL’s go-to Methods for Quickly and Efficiently Improving Pull-up Performance for a Physical Fitness Test

Stew Smith Pull-ups

Veteran Navy SEAL Lieutenant, Stew Smith.

Whether you’re in the military, law enforcement, the firefighting community, or another physically-demanding vocation – or you want to be – this interview is chock-full of tips and strategies to help you improve your pull-up performance in preparation for a Physical Fitness Test (PFT).

Maybe you’re just hoping to pass your PT test or perhaps you want to compete with the best of the best in the Navy SEALs. Regardless, if you want to improve your pulling strength and gain the ability to do more pull-ups with ease, you’ll learn some advanced yet simple training strategies from this interview with veteran Navy SEAL, Stew Smith.

Funny story. Stew actually wrote the first fitness program I ever followed. It was his book, Maximum Fitness: The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Cross Training. I used that program back when I was in high school as my primary workout system for about three years, while I was a cadet in the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps. This was the first time I had ever stuck with a comprehensive training program over the long term, and I got superb results from it.

I actually went and dug up my old training journal notes (yes, I STILL have them), and here’s how my PT numbers improved after just the first 13 weeks on Stew’s program, which was a calisthenics-focused phase (note: I didn’t have exact figures for my starting points):

-Pull-ups – started at 6-7 sloppy reps, after 3 months…31 reps!
-Pushups – started at 25ish reps, after 3 months…110 reps in 2 minutes!
-Sit-ups – started at 30-40ish reps, after 3 months…120 in 2 minutes!
-Ab Crunches – started at 40-50ish reps, after 3 months…220 in 2 minutes!

Needless to say, a few months on one of Stew’s programs was enough to get me ready to ace my Sea Cadet PFTs!
Continue reading Interview with Navy SEAL, Stew Smith, about Pull-up Training

Epic 500th Blogpost: 100 Fitness Lessons I’ve Learned About What’s Really Important (Do This Stuff to Succeed)

note: make sure you don’t miss my NEW training compilation video that I put together to celebrate this milestone. You’ll find it at the end of this post!

This is my 500th blogpost on, and I can hardly believe it. Over 3.7 million people have visited this site since it first started in 2008, just six short years ago. It’s amazing that a little blog like this can have such a far reach in today’s day and age.

Things have slowed down here on the blog in recent years for a variety of reasons, including a few kids and a new business, among many other things. But I’ve been putting content together whenever I can. And it’s only because of all of you that I’ve made it this far.

So, today, I just wanted to say thanks. Thanks for reading my pitifully long and drawn out, boring stuff. Thanks for sharing my articles and videos with your friends. And most importantly, thanks for putting some of my advice into action. I’m humbled whenever I receive a thank-you note or just a quick comment letting me know that something I shared was helpful. You guys are awesome.

So, to commemorate the occasion, here are 100 lessons I’ve learned about fitness over the past several years of running this site. These are a mixture of practical and actionable tips along with some deeper, more profound philosophy concerning fitness and this lifestyle we choose to live. My hope is that there’s something in here for everyone, and at least one or two that really hit you powerfully, challenge you, and encourage you.

100 Things I’ve Learned About Fitness Since I Started This Blog 500 Posts Ago

Note: Skimmers should take note that the ones in bold are particularly meaningful and/or have had a dramatic impact on my life. So, skim accordingly!

It doesn’t matter if you can do 100 pushups or can’t do one, can run a mile in under 5 minutes or can’t walk one, can deadlift twice your bodyweight or can’t even bend over without pain. If you’re trying to improve, then you’re one of us, and we want you here. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, old or young, or fat or fit. You belong. And don’t let anyone – even yourself – convince you otherwise.

You can spend 60 minutes a day struggling or the next 60 years suffering. It’s your choice.

If you want to be healthy, strong, and fit into old age, then you’re going to have to do things right from the start.

The best prescriptions usually include things like good food, physical activity, and plenty of rest. You’ll notice that these are not long words with funny suffixes.

You’ll have good days and bad days, easy days and hard days, days when you want to give up and days that you feel unstoppable. Get used to the idea.

If you can find something physically challenging that you genuinely enjoy doing on a regular basis, then you’ve quite possibly found your own personal fountain of youth – whether it’s considered “exercise” or not.

If you’re alive, conscious, and breathing, then you can always – ALWAYS – do more. Don’t forget it.

It’s okay to miss a lift, lose a race, or have a bad day – as long as you learn from it. It’s what you do after the failure that matters most.

In my experience, natural movement training – the way our bodies were designed to move – often results in unexpected and sometimes mysterious restoration of injuries, imbalances, and dysfunctions. #MovNat

If you’re still looking for secrets, shortcuts, hacks, or other quick-fix solutions that don’t really work, then it might be time to grab your dictionary and lookup the word “insanity.”

female pushups

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Continue reading Epic 500th Blogpost: 100 Fitness Lessons I’ve Learned About What’s Really Important (Do This Stuff to Succeed)

How to Hike as a Family for over 2000 Miles (Do It Like This)

Meet the Family of Five that is About to Finish their 2100+ Mile Journey Hiking from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail

Tougas family

This photo was taken at the base of Mt. Moosilauke in the White Mountains of NH. We climbed it via the Glencliff trail to the summit then down the rugged Beaver Brook trail, which was more like a slippery cliff in a few spots. Their trail names from left to right are Toe Salad, Fimby, Tenacious Bling, Otter, Padawan – and of course, Ronin and I, who haven’t qualified for trail names yet!

Renee and Damien Tougas and their three kids have spent the last six months hiking from Georgia to Maine (~2000 miles) on the Appalachian Trail. They have about two weeks of hiking left before they summit Mt. Katahdin, which is the tallest summit in their former home state and the end of their 2100+ mile adventure.

On the AT, they are known as the von Trapp family, and their reputation precedes them. You see, very few people try to thru-hike the AT each year, and it’s almost unheard of for a family of five to even attempt it (especially with teens and pre-teens). They have literally become legends in the thru-hiker community this year.

Everyone on the trail has heard about them. In fact, I spent a night camping with them on the eve of our hike up Mt. Moosilauke, and I observed this phenomenon myself as some fellow thru-hikers came into camp and slowly realized that this was the famous von Trapp family they’ve heard so much about already.

Now, I only had a short visit with them over an evening and a day of hiking. And of course, it was all too short. But it was plenty long enough for me to realize that there was no way I could possibly understand what this family has been through these past several months. A week-long backpacking trip is like a stroll on the beach compared to this.

It quickly dawned on me that a trip of this magnitude must be experienced to be understood. During those few hours in camp and while climbing the mountain in the company of many seasoned thru-hikers, I felt like I was in a whole other world that is completely foreign to me. And in my discussions with some of them, I learned that it is a totally different world. And I got but a smidgeon of a glimpse into that world that left me wanting more.

Since they left Georgia this past Spring, the Tougas family has encountered all kinds of weather, people, wild animals, sicknesses, and many other challenges. And boy, do they have some stories! They’ve walked alongside wild ponies, met trail legends, and seen more of America in six months than many people will see in a lifetime. Throughout this grand adventure, they’ve encountered many hardships, but they’ve held strong as a team and are some of the most inspiring people I know. And I wanted you to know about them because their story is remarkable.

In two weeks, God-willing, they will stand atop the summit of Mt. Katahdin and look about the surrounding landscape – exchanging quick glances, understanding grins, and warm smiles. And I’m sure, many long embraces, perhaps some tears, and hopefully some shouts of victory. No matter what, I’m sure that there will be immense joy and a profound sense of accomplishment that will take a long time to really sink in.

More Information

You can learn more about their journey and follow their video series at That’s right. They’re not only hiking the AT as a family (and doing it ultralight backpacking style, with minimalist footwear, and trying their darnest to adhere to a mostly vegan diet), but they’re also documenting the entire process via video so that we can get a small glimpse into their adventure – the ups, downs, and everything in between.

beyond our boundaries

Note: you can also check out an interview I did with Damien (the Dad) prior to their trip here: How a Family of Five Plans to Thru-Hike the 2000+ Mile Appalachian Trail this Summer.

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