What’s So Great About Strength Training?

I recently had a conversation with a new client about the prospect of fat loss as it pertains to exercise. She wanted to drop a few pounds, to fit into a smaller pair of pants and to have a slimmer and athletic look again, like she did when she was younger.

I asked her what she currently did for exercise to achieve that goal, and she said, “Well…I’ve been going to a spin class twice a week and running 3 to 5 miles 2 to 3 days a week.”

I stood silent for a moment with a goofy half-grin on my face before uttering, “And?”

She smiled and asked, “Well…nothing else. I mean, aren’t you supposed to do cardio to lose weight?”



Dropping Body Fat: 101

Please understand: I am not writing this piece about dropping body fat. But that seems to be a topic virtually everyone is really interested in, I figure it’s a sneaky way to get and hold your attention for a little while.

Don’t worry, I’m going to tell you how to do it, but I’m also going to try to convince you why you should be strength training for the “bigger picture issues” of life.

Dropping your level of body fat is a really simple process:

  1. Take in fewer calories than your body expends, and hopefully those calories are coming from sources that promote muscle acquisition and maintenance, healing and restoration. Not just filling a void in the center of your body.
  2. Get an adequate level of sound quality sleep for recovery and replenishment.
  3. Lift, lower, push, pull and move around with or throw moderate to heavy things to acquire muscle so as to increase your metabolism and thereby increase your body’s need for energy sources, like body fat.
  4. Do these 4 to 6 days per week consistently for the rest of your life.

But there are other reasons you should be regularly participating in a strength training program. I wrote about one of them just a couple of weeks ago and you can read it here.

I tell my clients interested in dropping body fat that if they will simply do 4 things on a consistent and regular basis, they’d never have to even consider thinking about their level of body fat again. Those 4 things are:

  1. Manage your hormones.
  2. Get more sleep.
  3. Focus on increasing your bone density.
  4. Gain more muscle.

Manage Your Hormones

“What the heck does that mean, Uncle Steve?”

It’s a simple way of saying, “Eat your vegetables.”

With few exceptions, as in the case of menopause, you regulate your hormone levels by the quality of your nutrition. It’s really that simple. Eat single ingredient, whole foods like you would find in nature and you’re going to do well.

Eat stuff from packages, containers and cans that has been processed and contains added “ingredients” and all bets are off.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again a thousand times: eat it like God made it. It’s the simplest nutrition plan I know for health and wellness.

Get More Sleep

I’m not going to elaborate to heavily on this one because it should be abundantly obvious.

Stop staying up late and getting up early.

Stop drinking so much.

Stop eating so late at night.

Stop fretting and worrying over every little thing that you probably have no control over anyway.

Get off your danged iPad, iPhone, iTelevision, and idon’tknowwhatelse electronic gadget and get to bed.

Turn the lights off until the room is dark.

Turn down the A/C.

And sleep.

Without it, and just like eating crappy stuff, all bets are off.

Focus on increasing your bone density.

I heard a bone density specialist many years ago state that the women who had the best bone density in their 40’s and 50’s were gymnasts as children.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you’re probably past the age of becoming a gymnast just to increase your bone mass. So what can you do?

You guessed it…strength training.

Your bones, joints, tendons and ligaments NEED a certain level of tension and strain to get them and keep them strong. Strength training does just that.

Gain more muscle.

This is the one that always scares my female clients.


Say it with me now, “I don’t want to get all bulky! I just want to tone.”

Hear me now: There is no such thing as “toning”. (Read this article for more details) Your body is always in one of three states:

  • Gaining or losing muscle mass.
  • Gaining or losing body fat.
  • Maintaining your body’s present state.

Muscle is the key to an increase in metabolism, which in turn translates to more efficient usage of energy stores – think body fat – which potentially leads to a leaner physique.

Bulk comes from body fat.

You give the appearance of being “toned” by ridding the body of fat. It’s that simple.

And I’m not talking about muscle size, necessarily. Most women have a real problem putting on a lot of muscle because you aren’t equipped with the amount of testosterone needed to do so. Muscle density will be your friend.

My colleague in the strength field Ben Bruno is Kate Upton’s coach. She looks great, doesn’t she? She also lifts like a beast.

Don’t believe me? Read this.

And strength training can actually help you live longer and reduce your risk of early death. Weak

Here’s a kind of technical, three-dollar-word article on the subject.

And here’s one that’s laid out in more average Joe language.

The Bottom Line

Strength training makes everything better.

Being strong is good, healthy and right.

You can join a gym, try and read a few articles on the subject and hope to get some of the benefits of strength training.

Or you can call or write me and let me put my 30+ years as a coach to work for you and do the thinking for you.



They Don’t Need Your Thanks, But They Welcome It

Independence Day

The designers, writers and signers of the Declaration of Independence had a dream for a nation where men and women were free to live, to govern themselves and to seek lives filled with whatever pursuit lead to each individual’s personal happiness.

They knew, too, that there would be those who do not appreciate these freedoms, and would advance upon this concept in order to bring it down, and that brave souls would be required to stand up for the cause of freedom and liberty.

“Freedom isn’t free” may be a cliché little phrase we utter when we discuss this working dream called America, but its truth is deeper, much deeper, than that.

Those that have gone before us who fought on behalf of this freedom and who now lie in countless graveyards around the world defended it because it meant something larger than themselves.

Those who served before, and yet who are still with us, carry the stories of bravery, sacrifice and service. Take the time to honor them and listen to those stories. Many as well carry and wear the scars of our freedom as permanent reminders of service to the country and of their time in uniform. Virtually all would gladly do it all again so as to be surrounded, loved and trusted as they were before by men they call “brothers,” brothers who mean more than mere blood can establish.

The brave souls who serve today keep alive a long tradition of honor, dignity, integrity, service and protection from which we all in America benefit.

Be grateful for them, for they are more than merely flesh and blood. They are the embodiment of bravery, of the dream of freedom and stand in the gap on our behalf, willingly, honorably and will do what is necessary to protect us.

The words “Thank you” seem so impotent when put into that perspective, but it’s all most of us have to give. Honor their duty, sacrifice and service by truly living freely.

Speak up.



Worship as you see fit…or don’t.

You’re free, because they care.

Act like it.

May God bless America, and may He bless all of those who stood and stand in the gap on our behalf.

Yer Uncle Steve

Quality of Life Through Freedom of Movement

I’ve been in the fitness business a long, long time. So long in fact, that if you want to know exactly, you’d be forced to cut me in half and count the rings.

But I digress…

I’ve learned a few things along the way, and the more I learn, read and watch, the more I’m drawn back to the simple things of life, exercise, health and fitness. Not simplistic, because that would be dumb. No…just simple.

I have a few clients and friends over the age of 70 who each have a pretty good quality of life. They’re independent, strong and capable. I also have a few friends, family members and acquaintances in that same age bracket that do not possess a great quality of life. Would you like to know what separates the two?

Overall strength and hip mobility. Like this guy…

3rd world squat

In my experience, people who have lost or are actively losing their hip mobility also lose their capability to bend, squat and balance well. In short, their bendy-parts don’t bend like they should.

Have you ever watched someone who is overweight or obese try to get up from the floor? Assuming they can, it takes a long while and typically requires something or someone around to hold onto and with which to pull themselves up.

But more importantly, and especially if there are no implements around for support, watch as they attempt to rise what parts of their bodies bend to lift the load and what doesn’t. Quite often they will roll over to their stomach, and in a stiff-legged fashion, drive themselves to a “downward dog” stance, then awkwardly and often haphazardly come to a standing position. In other words, their knees don’t bend correctly nor do their hips assist well in lifting them up.

Yep…as simple as it sounds, overall strength and hip mobility is the big key to a healthy, fit, happy and productive life.

Thank you, I’m here all week. Please tip your wait staff as you leave…


You want me to explain further?


Are you familiar with the Timed Rise Chair Test, otherwise known as the 30 Second Chair Stand Test? If not, here’s a brief synopsis:

  1. Sit in the middle of chair with a straight back without arm rests (seat 17” high).
  2. Place your hands on the opposite shoulder crossed at the wrists.
  3. Keep your feet flat on the floor.
  4. Keep your back straight and keep your arms against your chest.
  5. On “Go,” rise to a full standing position and then sit back down again.
  6. Repeat this for 30 seconds.
  7. A below average score indicates a high risk for falls.

You can find out if you’re at risk by reading the scores here.

And in case you think I’m biased, or making all of this up, check out what the researchers from the Journal of Musculoskeletal & Neuronal Interactions has to say on the subject:

Timed rise was the single most important test that was able to predict both a first time faller and recurrent faller.”

And for those that have taken a seemingly unexplained tumble before, the Timed Up and Go Test is a predictor of future fall risk measuring such things as balance, strength, hip mobility, stability and situational awareness.

And I’m sure you’re familiar with the Sitting Rising Test devised by Brazilian physician Claudio Gil Araujo and his colleagues as a way to predictably measure risk potential for falls, which could lead to severe injury or death.

Scary stuff, right?

But it doesn’t have to be. There are lots of things you can do about it, should you feel you or someone you love is at risk for falling, or simply losing some semblance of life quality.

Proactive Measures to Enhance Overall Strength Levels, Hip Mobility and Quality of Life

So…what can you do, starting today, to begin getting stronger, increasing that much needed hip mobility and enhancing the quality, and by proxy the overall enjoyment, of a fulfilled life without sacrificing hours and hours each day and week?

Simple stuff, really.

  1. Good sleep. Get some and often. Sleep is your number one recovery tool, and of all the things you can do to enhance the quality of your life, good sleep will do more than just about anything. Our hectic schedules can wreak havoc on our lives, so rest more when you can and reap the benefits of better health and life quality.
  2. Supportive nutrition. Next to more sleep, there is nothing for bringing your health quality up than solid, supportive nutritional habits. And I have a simple solution for you: most of the time, eat things like God makes them. That means fresh fruits, vegetables, protein sources (meats, fish, fowl), and water. When you find a tortilla tree or a 7-Up stream, call me. We’ll feast until we pop. Until then, 90% of the time, eat things like you’d find it naturally occurring. If you’d like a more detailed explanation on this, please read The Plan here.
  3. Strength training. Resistance training. This means using a resistance source (body weight, rubber bands, weights, machines, etc) to create a demand from and on your bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles to make them stronger. Pushing, pulling, lifting, lowering, throwing and moving around with heavy stuff does wonders for you. In terms of hip mobility, deeply squatting and standing under a load (as in a weighted squat) is a great way to ensure that the 30 Second Timed Chair Raise will never defeat you. Sitting for prolonged periods of time doesn’t count here. Get up and move…
    If you’re interested in a program for building strength through personally guided coaching in a small group environment, you can read more about what we do at the gym here. You can also read my philosophy on the matter here. I’d be honored to be your coach. You can contact me here, or call me at 210-884-2072.
  4. Flexibility work. I am hesitant to recommend “stretching” to people, because far too many assume that a lack of mobility is simply a muscular tightness issue, and therefore they need to stretch. While stretching can or may have benefit, if done improperly or to excess, it can create more problems than it fixes. The good news about increasing your hip mobility is that quite often a person’s back pain goes away as well. How’s that for an added benefit?
    With that said, if you feel the need to stretch (and I recommend you act on it if you do), my friend and colleague Dave Schmitz has some tremendous resources for accomplishing it. Here are a few examples from Dave:
    Hip Stretching https://youtu.be/ZM85_YPj1M8

Hip Flexor https://youtu.be/g8t6cNiFFM8

Hip Mobility https://youtu.be/pXWrT1gIyqQ

Low Back Pain Elimination https://youtu.be/nLyo5XCdPlw

  1. Get your mind right. Believing you can achieve success in this realm is almost more important than doing the actual work itself. The Bible puts it this way: “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
    The legendary Jim Rohn put it this way: “The best advice I ever came across on the subject of concentration (focus) is: Wherever you are, be there. When you work, work. When you play, play. Don’t mix the two.”
    See yourself for who you really are, who you want to be and how you want to get there. Then do it.
  2. Keep it simple. Complicating things virtually ensures failure. Simplicity plus consistency almost always equals success.
    Here’s what Warren Buffett said about it: “There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult.” Just substitute the word “easy” with “simple” and you get the point.
    Tony Robbins puts it this way, “Most people, in order to feel significant, make things really complex so they feel like they’re really unique and special, but…complexity is the enemy of execution.The more complex you make it, the more likely you are NOT going to follow through.”
    Keep things simple, and succeed.

The Bottom Line: Your level of health, fitness and wellness is under your control. You want to improve any area of it, do something about it. If I can be of service and assist you, please do contact me and let’s get started soon, before you have an injury…or worse.

Coach Steve


My Dad: Walter Raymond Payne



Walter Raymond Payne, born September 29, 1937 to Thurman and Cloma Payne in Luling, Texas went home to his heavenly reward peacefully on the evening of Sunday May 29, 2016. Walter was surrounded by all of his beloved family in the home that he and his wife of almost 57 years built in 1992. He was 78 years of age.

Walter and Ann were married on June 20, 1959 and had three children. Walter is survived by his wife Elizabeth Ann (Lemon) Payne, Steve & Kennon Payne; Mike & Melissa Payne; Rhonda Payne; granddaughters Kristina & Michal Komorowski and children Connor & Jozef;  Stephanie & Randy Buckley and children Christian & Hunter; Nikki Juarez; Megan VanHorn and Lexie Payne. He is also survived by his brother Winston Payne of Hallsville, Texas.

Walter was a graduate of East Texas State University in 1966 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Technology and Math. After college Walter spent many years working with NCR as a computer systems analyst and programmer. Walter retired from the computer field in 1995 and decided he needed something to do, so he became trained in small engine repair. He worked for Milberger Nursery for a short time repairing everything from gas powered weed whackers to riding lawn mowers.

In 1996 while working for the nursery, Walter experienced some chest pain and soon thereafter doctor’s discovered some blockages. Walter then had the first of two bypass surgeries, each nearly 10 years apart. Ann then decided that Walter was finished working as a highly decorated technician in the exciting and lucrative world of small engine repair.

Yet again Walter desperately needed something to occupy his time, so he became a professional tinkerer, dabbling in the metallurgical arts as a knife maker, skilled artisan in welded Cowboy art, aspiring golfer, hunting guide and other tasks necessary to keeping a man of his nature occupied.

Between maintaining the landscape of the 5-acre stretch of Texas where he and Ann reside, Walter made knives for the famous and infamous alike. Quite a few local fire departments owe a portion of their equipment to the monies raised from handmade knives Walter generously donated many times over the years. Walter still occasionally did some small engine repair work for his neighbors around where they live.

Anyone who met Walter liked him immediately. He had a kind word and smile…and probably a really bad or corny joke…for anyone he met, and he never met a stranger. From the CEO to the janitor, Walter treated everyone the same and he was in turn loved and respected for it. He will be greatly missed.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers a donation be made to the charitable organization of your choosing in Walter Payne’s name.

Funeral Services

Viewing and Reflection With Family: 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Thursday June 2, 2016 at Ebensberger-Fisher Funeral Home, 111 Rosewood, Boerne, Texas 78006

Funeral Service: 10:00 a.m. Friday June 3, 2016 at Ebensberger-Fisher Funeral Home, 111 Rosewood, Boerne, Texas 78006

Weather permitting there will be a brief graveside service at the Boerne Cemetery, 700 N School St, Boerne, TX 78006.