40 Years, 40 Random Facts, Insights, and Tidbits of Tomfoolery

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I turn 40 today.


On this day back in 1976 Megatron and Optimus Prime collided and the energy from that impact formed into a solid state mass who liked deadlifts, EDM, original 90210 episodes, and would grow into someone with an uncanny ability to never be able to tie a tie correctly. I don’t even know if that description is scientifically correct, but I don’t care. It sounds awesome, so lets roll with it.

Admittedly I’ve never been a big Birthday person. Throughout my life I’ve seen it as “just another day” and no big deal. I’m definitely not someone who takes the mentality that their b-day serves as an open invitation to be a Johnny Raincloud. “Aww, poor me, I’m one year older, feed me a quesadilla with extra guacamole and depression.”

On the flip side, nor am I someone who feels the need to profess this day to the world. I mean, granted, my day of birth ranks right up there with the most important days in human history:

  • The day Aristotle suggested the Earth was round and not flat after seeing the circular shadow it made on the moon. #mindfuck.
  • D-Day.
  • Man walking on the moon.
  • Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech.
  • The episode of Party of Five where Bailey was given an intervention for drinking too much.


However in the grand scheme of things, millions of other people celebrate their Birthday today too. I’m talking to you Bo Jackson.

All that said, today I wanted to have a little fun with my blog and jot down a few random facts (about me of course), insights, words of advice (life, fitness, business), and tidbits of tomfoolery. 40 of them in fact.


1. My Fitness Inspiration Wasn’t Arnold.

Most guys my age will point towards Arnold Schwarzenegger (and roughly 212 viewings, each, of Predator, Commando, and Conan the Barbarian) as their initial foray into fitness.

Not me.

Mine was watching Mark McGwire of the Oakland Athletics on television. Whenever he and Jose Canseco would bash forearms after hitting a home-run, I’d be in awe at the sheer size of both of them.

Pharmaceutical discussions notwithstanding, I remember reading that the two of them owed much of their success to lifting weights.

2. Speaking of Baseball

Growing up my dream was to be a professional baseball player. Actually, first, I
wanted to be Han Solo, but baseball player was a close second.

I think I lived half my childhood in my side yard hitting baseballs back and forth with my dog, Daisy, following me every step of the way.

One of the scariest days of my life was when I accidentally hit a baseball right through the back window of the car my parents were trying to sell. My house is located on a fairly busy road, so it made sense to park the car out on the yard to get people’s attention.

OMG, I just about packed up all my He-Man and GI Joe figures and left home for good.

3. I Turned Down a Division I Scholarship

Kids (and parents) today are too caught up in numbers, especially the lure of a Division I scholarship. Unfortunately, much of their self-worth is set on the prestige of playing at the Division I level.

Eric Cressey posted a viral Tweet a while back saying something to the effect of “don’t get too caught up the D1 love affair. There are plenty of D2/D3 players who get drafted and who make it to the Big Leagues. Go where you’ll play and develop.

I turned down a Division I scholarship. You can read about the entire story HERE.

4. I Still Hate Bench Pressing

There, I said it.

5. 90s Hip-Hop is Still King

A small piece of my soul dies every time I play A Tribe Called Quest and a young athlete is like “who’s this?”

6. Did Someone Say the 90s?

Who’s planning an epic 90s themed party this weekend?

Why yes, I am planning an epic 90s themed party for my birthday next week.

A photo posted by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on

7. #1 Mistake I See Trainers/Coaches Make?

Placing too much credence on posture.

“Posture is irrelevant unless you take into consideration movement.”

8. #2-Infinity Mistake(s) I See Trainers/Coaches Make?

Falling prey to the mindset that textbook technique exists. It doesn’t. No one has to squat with a certain foot position or with a certain bar position. No has to deadlift from the floor or with a straight bar.

We don’t live in textbooks, so stop training people as such.

9. I Didn’t Perform My First Deadlift Till I Was 25 Years Old.

For real. If I could go back and punch myself in the face for how I trained when I was in college I’d gladly do it.

10. My Best Pull


570 lbs at a bodyweight of 190.

Someday 600 will fall. Someday……..

11. Raise your hand if you balled like a baby when Red and Andy met up in Mexico at the end of The Shawshank Redemption.

*Raises both hands*

And for anyone who’s pissed because I just gave away the ending, that movie came out in freakin 1994!

12. I Majored in History at one point in college.

You laugh – but don’t underestimate the power of Post-Revolutionary Imperialism or the gritty intricacies of Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Chicks LOVE that shit.1

13. You’re not above anything.

Stop taking yourself so seriously. You’re not above calling your mom, telling your wife or kid(s) you love them, picking up a piece of trash on the sidewalk and putting it where it belongs, or staying after hours to mop floors or clean the bathroom of your facility.

It’s the small stuff that matters most and helps to nudge the attributes I feel are grossly deficient in today’s society: empathy, accountability, and integrity.

Oh, and eating a massive bowl of HoneyNut Cheerios. You’re never above that…;o)

14. Shut up and be a student.

Nothing is worse than that guy (or girl) who asks redundant questions at a conference or workshop to showcase how smart they are and that they know big words. Likewise, a close second are those people who question everything or “shut down” because what’s being presented goes against their way of doing things.

Shut up and be a student for a day. You don’t have to agree with everything, of course, and it behooves the industry to ask questions. But, come on…just shut up. You may learn something.

15. I think all new trainers should spend a minimum of 1-3 years working in a commercial gym.

16. Why?

It helps build character, resiliency, and business savvy. The only way you’re going to succeed is by scaring the shit out of yourself. Working in a commercial setting forces you to be your own best advocate, and no where else will you have as much access to such a diverse clientele. You’re primed to grow as a professional and do well if you put in the effort.

17. Um, have you checked out Complete Shoulder and Hip Blueprint yet?


Well, you should. HERE.

18. <– The number I wore all through high-school and college.

19. I failed my drivers test not once, but twice.

Once because I forgot to put the car back into drive (from reverse) when performing a three-point turn; and once because, apparently, it’s not in good taste to drive over the speed limit.

20. Whatever, don’t judge me.

21. I was never an avid reader.

That is until my ex, ex, ex girlfriend broke up with me (don’t worry, I’m over it). In an effort to get my mind off of things (and to stop watching endless Julia Roberts movies), when I randomly came across the Modern Library’s list of Top 100 Novels I decided to take that summer (2002) and tackle as many on the list as possible.

I started with Catcher in the Rye, and haven’t looked back since.

22. Tip for aspiring writers

Becoming an avid reader – of all genres – begets good writing.

It’s only here, marinating in other’s prose, where you’ll learn a better appreciation of developing style, writing cadence/flow, story telling, and when not to use adverbs.

23. Social media tip

Don’t always make it about you.

Share, share, share.

At least once a day share an article, blog, or I don’t know, a recipe for Vegan carrot cake sprinkled with sawdust.

Provide more value to people and your numbers will grow.

24. Deadlift tip

People seem to think scraping their shins is a bad thing. It’s good! That means you’re keeping the bar close to the body (and your axis of rotation; hips)

Stealing a nice analogy from CSP coach, Nancy Newell, try to “shave your legs with the barbell” as you perform each rep.

25. Squat tip

As noted above, I try to follow the mantra that everyone is different and then try to cater each lift to their unique ability level, anatomy, and goal(s). To that end, I am not married to the back squat, nor do I feel a coach loses demerit points for not back squatting their athletes/clients. I still use it often.

However, one variation I feel has carryover to pretty much everyone is the Double Anterior Loaded or 2 KB Front Squat


The anterior core engagement often helps people get into better position to squat deeper (and to keep a more upright torso).

NOTE: I am NOT saying one has to squat with an upright torso. A forward lean is always going to be part of the equation. However, I find many trainees lean too much to the point where their weight shifts into their toes and they often “fall” forward. This variation helps to build more context with executing a more upright posture.

26. Trainable Menus

This is a term I recently stole from Atlanta Hawks strength coach, Chris Chase, after listening to him on Mike Robertson’s Physical Preparation Podcast.

It’s imperative as coaches to differentiate between a trainable exercise and an athlete’s ability to demonstrate the ability to perform a task. We’re often in awe of people’s feats of strength and athleticism (think: 50″ box jumps). But just because someone can demonstrate a task, doesn’t mean it’s trainable (or should be trained).

27. Favorite movie of all-time?

28. Another writing tip.

Read what you write out loud. If it sounds wonky or “off” out loud, it likely comes across as way worse on the screen or page.

29. Signs that you’re (probably) an a-hole

    • You honk your horn 0.03 seconds after a light turns green.
    • You text while you drive.
    • You order a steak well-done.
    • You assume that because a woman is squatting or deadlifting or working remotely hard that she’s automatically training for something.
    • You don’t like Jason Bourne.
    • You spot someone at the elbows during DB presses.
    • You charge people money to come observe you shadow you.2
    • Not thinking my cat is the cutest cat ever.

There’s been a lack of cute kitty pics of late. Here’s Dagny snuggling up. Mom is away tonight having dinner with some girlfriends so we’re chilling on the couch.

A photo posted by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on

30. Don’t succumb to societal norms


My wife and I were together for five years before I asked her to marry me. We were both in our mid to late 30s before we tied the knot. Ancient by some standards.


We waited on purpose. We didn’t rush into things. We had to make sure our shit was on the same page, and that took a lot of work and talking about feelings and stuff. And it was for the best. We’re a little over a year and a half in and crushing married life.

And now….

31. We’re expecting in January 2017

Help, please. Any advice?

32. Think: Simpler

Writing training programs isn’t rocket science, although we often treat it that way. When in doubt, make it simpler. People need consistency with the basics more than squats vs. chains with a 313 tempo, on one leg, blindfolded. For AMRAP.

33. “Dangerous” Exercises

There’s always going to be an inherent risk to lifting weights. I’d argue that the only way to make progress is to play with fire and to teeter on the “holy shit something bad may happen if I perform this rep” threshold.

Of course we need to stress good and “safe” technique. However, we can’t always baby people. Allowing people to get into precarious situations and positions is often the only way they’re going to learn to avoid them in the long-run.

So, yes, it is okay on occasion to allow the back to round a little on a deadlift or for the knees to cave in a little on a set of heavy squats. Deep breaths. The world will continue to spin.

And lets be honest: those who tend to label “x” exercise “dangerous” are generally the ones who have little experience or don’t know how to coach them correctly in the first place.

34. 3×52

That’s the best “set/rep scheme” for results. Get your clients to show up 3x per week for 52 weeks and lovely things will happen.

35. Best resources

People are always asking me what are my favorite health/fitness products? Luckily I keep a running “tab” of my favs on my resources page HERE.

36. Never underestimate the power…

…of a “thank you” note. A hand-written thank you note. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a gym/small business owner it’s that the small details matter.

Send notes to clients on their b-day, on their one-year anniversary of training with you, when they hit a PR, or when they finally watch House of Cards because you’ve been nagging them to do so F.O.R.E.V.E.R.

It’s amazing what such a small gesture will do towards maintaining customer loyalty.3

37. I swear when I write

I know it turns some people off. I’m sorry for that. I had a gentleman write me a rather condescending email not to long ago telling me how my judicious use of certain four-letter words makes it so my stuff is “unsharable.” At least within his social circles.

I can respect that, and I was apologetic to him. An egregious (or even strategically placed) f-bomb isn’t for everyone. However part of me wants to say:

“If my use of choice words somehow cancels out the bigger picture or message of what I’m saying, that’s on you not me. Grow up.”

Maybe I’m naive, I don’t know. I try not to go overboard with language, and do understand that it doesn’t always improve one’s writing. Maybe I do need to re-assess.

Anyone else have thought on this?

38. Hey, I have something planned for 2017

Another colleague of mine (Bryan Krahn) and I are planning on writing a training program/manual for the 35-40+ lifter. I feel it’s a demographic that’s underserved in the industry and does require a bit of TLC with regards to program design.

You want to get after it and train hard, but you’re also not 25 anymore.

I’d be curious how much interest there would be in doing a BETA or “guinea pig” group? Basically we’d be looking for people to give the program a try and to offer insights on what worked well, what didn’t, and how we can improve.

There would be a small fee involved and we’d ask for guys (and girls) who are relatively healthy to participate. I.e., no major injuries to work around. Interested? Good idea? Yes, no, maybe so?

39. Still one of the best quotes ever.

Courtesy of Eric Schoenberg:

“When you only throw with your arm then we’ll worry about “arm care” exercises.”

40. You’re the best

If you actually made it this far, you’ve earned yourself a gold sticker for today. I should get a gold sticker for coming up with this many things to write about – that was a lot harder than expected.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.
  1. Not really.

  2. It’s one thing if you’re doing a special mentorship or offering more of your time to discuss finer details on assessment, program design, or business stuff. But come on: charging money for people to come observe you for a few hours? Whatever. At the very least you can do what CSP does and charge people $5-10 and donate it to charity.

  3. And additional Christmas baked goods….wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Comments for This Entry

  • John J Brooks

    Happy birthday, Tony. Advice on kids: instead of getting a changing table, go buy a big ass dresser.. a heavy one. and buy a changing pad, and fasten the changing pad to the dresser. It'll give you more storage, a more stable platform, and the kid'll have to roll twice to roll off the thing. Buy "baby: the owner's manual" its straight forward, all data, no b.s. Hit me up if you want beta testers. I'm over 40 and beat to shit. I'd love to help out, and I need a program to follow.

    November 30, 2016 at 1:26 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Trish

    #4 and #5 speaks to my soul. Surprised techno didn't make it on here...next year! Happy Birthday Tony!!

    November 30, 2016 at 1:28 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Shelby Young

    Happy birthday Tony! Thank you so much for sharing all of this awesomeness

    November 30, 2016 at 1:31 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Daniel Vielhaber

    About the baby: congrats! And a little advice: Don't let your wife or yourself fall into the trap of admiring the supermoms or superdads. (Is it sexist that "supermoms" is recognized but "superdads" isn't? And to which party?). They all suck at it and so will you. But really, they do fine and so will you. My wife gets upset that she can't be the supermom that so-and-so is and I have to remind her that those other people don't see her struggles, either. It's difficult for everyone, and we all have different ways of dealing with that stress. My parents told me this when my wife was pregnant and truer words were never spoken: It will be more difficult than you imagine, and it will be better than you imagine. FYI, my son is 14 months. I know you say there is no textbook technique...but I'm so jealous of his perfect squat.

    November 30, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Shannon

    Maybe to #38. :) I contacted you a long time ago when I found fitness to inquire about your online coaching. Was too much for me at the time, tho you were so very kind in your responses. I am working with someone now that I enjoy, I'm 46, female, was not at all "athletic all my life" and didn't find fitness til I was 40. So if I'm in your demographic.... ? Cheers and have a beautiful day -

    November 30, 2016 at 2:17 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Toddy Malone

    Happy birthday and congrats! As a fellow 40 year old trying to figure out this not-25-anymore thing (and also chasing a 600 pound DL), I'm definitely interested in being a guinea pig for you.

    November 30, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Kristen

    As an almost 36 year old female lifter - i would have a lot of interest in a BETA group training group for the aged...LOL. And also - happy birthday!

    November 30, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Matthew

    Happy birthday Tony! I've learned so much in the past from reading your stuff! And congratulations to you and Lisa on having a baby!

    November 30, 2016 at 3:49 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Fadel Saadeddine

    Happy birthday Tony!! This is the year you hit that 600 lb pound deadlift.

    November 30, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Karen Jones

    Happy birthday!! And congratulations on the family - January should be something. I would love to be part of a BETA group.

    November 30, 2016 at 6:27 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Chuck

    Happy birthday Tony! Love when you do lists like this

    December 1, 2016 at 3:00 am | Reply to this comment

  • Chris

    Entertaining as always Tony. Thanks for continuing to amuse (and educate). Enjoy your weekend. Chris.

    December 1, 2016 at 7:48 am | Reply to this comment

  • Justin Termini

    Happy Birthday! Catcher in the Rye is the book that opened up reading for me as well. I read it in high school and it exploded my brain; I've been reading daily ever since. I'm a librarian now, so I can assume that I have Salinger to thank for my career choice, as well. So yeah, hooray for books. Also, I'd be interested in doing a beta for #38. Hooray for weights, too.

    December 1, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Cody Baxter

    Keep swearing. You are plenty judicious with it.

    December 3, 2016 at 9:41 am | Reply to this comment

  • Jayne Whittingham

    I'd be interested in the beta group. Congrats on the baby. No kids myself but make sure your wife gets to eat & wash, that's what lots of my friends found difficult. They always had an easier time with No 2 as they were more breakable & they worried less. (-:

    December 4, 2016 at 9:32 am | Reply to this comment

  • Kim McQuay

    Happy Birthday! I would LUV to get into your guinea pig program - as a 58 yr old female, I feel I'm in the best shape of my life. Widowed with 3 kids, I've done about everything there is out there to enhance my physical health and strength to be able to raise my kids alone the last 10 years. Include me, please! And by the way, that baby will be the best thing you've ever done! Light shine on you all!

    December 4, 2016 at 9:55 am | Reply to this comment

  • Rachel

    Happy belated birthday Tony! I love this post! Here were some of my thoughts while reading: 4. Thank you!!! I hate benching too, it's the worst. For me, this is due to it being "scarier" to fail out of than a squat or a deadlift. So I have to work the hardest at not psyching myself out with benching. 7. I would love to see this hashed out into its own post. 10. I'm chasing 300# myself. One day... 29. To add on to the woman one..."You might be an ahole if whenever you see a woman in the gym working remotely hard, you feel the need to walk past and comment 'you putting in that WORK girl!'" *eye roll* 30. I love that you defied the norms. It makes things more special when you don't rush. 31. Congrats again on the baby! Though I don't have children, I'll echo what others have said and tell you to do things your way and try not to compare yourself to other parents. What works for you and your child may not be "textbook" but that's okay. But considering Lisa teaches workshops on mindset and you included a similar sentiment in this post, you're probably already pros at this. :)

    December 4, 2016 at 4:17 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Shane Mclean

    I hope you had a great birthday mate. I love birthdays too. Great advice in there to buddy. I love Boogie Nights but Terminator 2 when it came out just blew me away. Yes your cat is cute. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f468bb3f45882e93b275a687249019c34945ea79af36c3b373644e1b0818f83c.jpg

    December 4, 2016 at 8:57 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Thomos Will

    I totally cherished perusing this post. Super Health Food benefits LLL tips

    December 4, 2016 at 11:46 pm | Reply to this comment

  • jimbobv2

    I have three kids (14, 12, & 9) and they are still all alive, so here are some things I've learned over the years: - Get on the same page with your wife about how you are going to raise your kids. You both grew up in different homes and there were different ways in which your parents raised you. This will lead you both to have a different idea of how best to parent. Getting on the same page about stuff is really important. - Try and avoid the good cop (usually mom)/bad cop (usually dad) approach. It will cause the relationship between parent and child to be warped one way or the other. Both parents need to be a parent all the time and that means being the good cop most of the time and the bad cop some of the time. But, the boundary enforcement needs to come from both parents and it has to be as consistent as possible. - Read books, take classes, and find some benchmark parents that are willing to mentor you. Personally, learning about things like hands off parenting have been good for me as I've changed how I've approached parenting over the years. - Just like you will miss lifts, you will make mistakes. Just own the mistakes and apologize to your kids when you do mess up. - Remember that your kids will be the parents of your grandkids one day. This fact hit me hard the other day when my 12yo son talked about wanting to be a dad one day. I asked why and he said because he wanted to coach hockey and that I had to keep hockey fun so he didn't quit. No pressure there. But, it made me ponder the fact that my son will be my grandkid's coach (and dad). So, how I am as a father will be the primary influence as to how he parents. - Let your kids make as many decisions as possible as early as possible. Decision making is like strength and it needs to be developed. If you make all the decisions for your kids, then they won't have the ability to make good decisions once they leave home. That's why so many kids make poor decisions in college. For me, I let my kids pick their clothes and I don't care about hair cuts. I may suggest that they wear a coat because it's cold, but I let them decide for themselves and life will teach them whether it was a good decision or not. And they have yet to die due to pneumonia or some other cold induced illness, so it's working OK so far. - Have fun. While there will be plenty of WTF moments, there will be so many more fun ones.

    December 5, 2016 at 8:58 am | Reply to this comment

  • Colin Stewart

    Happy Birthday - and really, you don't swear that much (really, have you read any of James Fell's work?). Parenting - the hardest and most rewarding job in the world (yes, that is a gigantic cliche, but true). And enjoy the 'essentially immobile' months, because once they start crawling everything gets way more complicated (and 13 years after my first child was born, still doesn't seem to be getting less complicated). One Cool Trick: never underestimate the value of getting up to change the baby in the middle of the night while your wife gets up and "awake enough" to breastfeed . . .

    December 6, 2016 at 4:04 pm | Reply to this comment

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