Showing posts from April, 2017

Aging Athletes: A Story.

Having trained as an athlete for most of my life I'm used to "down days."But today, well today was a challenge.   
I am Sensei, head instructor, for my martial arts school and we have a big demonstration coming up in May. I've been training everyday to insure I'm ready for it because nothing is better for nerves than being prepared.   
Now as an older athlete I don't train as hard or as often as I used to nor do I need to as my body responds differently and needs more rest and varied training to stay, as we'd say in the Army, "combat ready."
I also have to listen to my body closely as I sustained injuries while in the Service and deal with chronic issues. As I rolled out of bed and got ready to train I noticed how stiff my body was and that it was a “high pain day.” So I spent some time warming up, stretching, and with a heavy dose of Coffee and Vitamin M I headed to my Keikojo, practice space.   
The art I practice is from the school Meifu Shinkag…

Tip and Challenge Thursday, April 27th.

Good morning everyone!

Hope everyone is motivated and ready to go!

I see a lot of garbage in the fitness world. A diet for this, a cleanse for that, a remedy to boost this and a potion to maximize that. Here's the skinny. It's crap. There is no food or drink cleanse. No super diet to change your life, no food to maximize anything. Eat smart, train smart and you will see results. That's the magic formula.

This brings us to today's wordy tip.

Tip: There is no detox or cleanse potion. It's a scam. There is absolutely zero science behind it. You have an incredible filter and cleaning system built right into your body that does a better job "cleansing" your body than any product you can buy. Save your money, drink plenty of water, and eat clean. Simple.

Challenge: Sumo squats x100, Lunges x100, Burpees x100, Crunch x100, Walk 15 -30 minutes.

Do Well Be Well,

Tip and Challenge Wednesday April 26th.

Good morning everyone!

I hope you are all well rested and ready to tackle your day!

As I struggle to balance a life of a lifter and working for a tree company where my physical output typically exceeds all that I have, even my reserves, I find more and more the need for recovery protocols that I didn't need when I was doing office work or other white collar jobs.

The protocol is fairly simple, movement. Movement, as I have said, really is the fountain of youth. Getting the heart rate up and the blood moving is the best form of recovery. Walk, stroll, pace, whatever you want to call it, just get moving. This is recovery so don't push it. You don't need a 5k you just need a few minutes several times a day of movement.

Aside from this I foam roll and roll out on a hard medicine ball as well but these, in my estimation, should be reserved for recovery work not pre workout movements, which leads us to today's tip and challenge.

Tip: Keep stretching and recovery work for wher…

Tip and Challenge Tuesday April 25th.

Good morning everyone!

I hope your day was awesome and you got out into the woods for some hike time. I did about 3 miles yesterday and a light pace and took some photos and prior to that had an intense bench workout. Was a great day.

Today it's back to schlepping logs all day and probably crashing soon after it's over.

I rarely rake supplements. The truth is, they're crap. Pretty much everything you see in the vitamin shops is garbage and you can get from a sensible and consistent diet. I do however take some very important supplements that help me with my recovery; vit b12, vit d, vit c, and whey protein.

Today's tip: Don't buy into the supplement scams. It's just an expensive way to make your pee smell funny. Get the basics that I mentioned and chances are you'll be good to go.

Today's Challenge: 10 minute boot camp. Set your timer for 10 minutes and get as many rounds as you can of 10 Burpees, 10 Mountain Climbers, 10 Crunches, 10 pushups, 20 lunges.

Tip and Challenge for Monday April 24th.

Good morning everyone!

I hope you all had a great weekend. I was thrilled to get out into the woods and hike and take pictures. Being in the woods walking and discovering is where I am most happy and most at peace. I try and get out there a few times a week as soon as the weather breaks. Aside from writing and lifting, I enjoy photography, especially micro and entomological. 

This type of movement (according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Life Science Division in Berkley, Calif. ) can help in reduction of blood pressure, cholesterol levels and heart disease as well as helping to restructure the heart and increasing ejection fraction. Brisk walking or hiking also helps with soreness and recovery. 

Today's tip is less do/don't and more of a recommendation. Exercise truly is the world's most underrated anti depressant and while it is not a cure all, it is one of the first things doctors will recommend you do if you feel sad or anxious. Movement is key and studies have…

Tip and Challenge April 20th

Good morning everyone!

I hope everyone completed the challenge yesterday! I for one am sore. Carrying timbers all day takes it out of you!

Keep in mind, combined time for most of these challenges is only about 15 minutes. The more fit you become the less stressful these will feel to your body and the more you can produce in that 15 to 20 minute window. Do some squats and push-ups, brush your teeth, do some more, brew the coffee, do a few more get the kids up.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Tip: If you are sweating excessively during the day, water depleted, remember to add extra sodium. Salt is not the enemy. Salt is a performance enhancer, especially in athletes!

Challenge: 100 jumping jacks, 100 mountain climbers, 100 push-ups, 100 burpees, 100 speed skaters

If you have the time and this was easy for you, add a few more exercises or do this challenge twice today!

Do Well Be Well

Tip and Challenge for Wednesday, April 19th.

Good morning all!

Hope you had a great day yesterday and were able to make some progress with planning and structuring your eating. I know it might seem like a pain at first but in time the pay off is well worth it.

Just like finding the right partner to work out with, planning  ahead with our eating and schedule instead of just hoping we can squeeze it in at some point makes this a habit and part of our routine. Think of it as long term preventative medicine. Do a little now so that we don't have to do a lot later.

Today's tip is more for the ladies but useful for anyone who is interested in changing their body composition and losing fat.

Tip: Stay off the scale. Your weight can fluctuate several pound in a day based on hormones, bowel movements, sweating and etc.

Something I have always told my female clients is to go by fit not by weight. I was often approached with, i gained weight but my clothes are lose, how is this possible? Forget the scale. It's little more than a …

Tip and Challenge Tuesday, April 18th.

Good morning and happy Tuesday!

Hope you all made it through the challenge yesterday and are taking into account the tips and eating issues we have been discussing. We will be furthering that in the quest for a fitter, healthier lifestyle.

It is often the case that I hear people say they are just not going to eat or they are going to eat once and then that's it. This of course is no sustainable and leads down an unhealthy road. We want to speed up our metabolism and make our body function optimally. We don't buy an 8 cylinder car with hopes that it only putters by on 4 cylinders. Why do that with your body?

Tip: Eat more often but portion controlled meals.

This seems to be hard for most of us. We want what we want and when we want it. But then we're fat, on heart medicine and cant play with our kids without getting winded in 60 seconds. The ego of the pallet seems very real. So like yesterdays plan ahead tip, plan ahead and portion and package your meals so that you can eat…

Daily Challenge for Monday April 17th.

Good morning everyone!

I hope you enjoyed your weekend and are ready to kick Monday in the pants. Hopefully we don't have too much Easter candy to work off.

Last week we ended on and focused a little more on eating habits and issues. I often hear the excuse that "I just don't have time to eat like that." And this brings us right into today's tip...plan ahead!

Tip: Most people have limited time between jobs, kids, spouses, yards, and also trying to squeeze in our workouts. So plan ahead. I prep most of my meals for the week on Sunday and pre-package them so I can just grab them and go. Yes, it's gonna take a little time on Sunday but it frees up all your much needed time during the week! You'll thank me later!

Now, it's challenge time and I tend to make Monday the hardest day of the week when it comes to my training. I am the least tired I will be and that being said, have the most energy to put into my with that model in mind :)


Tip and Challenge for Thursday April 13th.

Good morning everyone!

Hope you're all ready to start the day and get things moving in the right direction. As we have been going through the past two weeks, the tips and challenges have all focused on mostly movement based. Today we are going into everyone's favorite, diet based.

Stan Efferding said, "the best diet is the one you will follow." And to further that, let's make the point that diet is basically a negative term. We aren't looking to go on a diet, we are looking to eat better in general in a way that is sustainable for us emotionally, and yes, diet is very emotional for most people.

Tip: Diet will profoundly impact your results, especially sugars. Keep your refined sugars to a minimum. Think less candy and additive based food.

Challenge: Today's challenge is two fold; if you are doing the 6 glasses of 20 oz water still, increase it to 8 now and make a conscious effort to decrease your sugar intake by half today.

This should be fairly easy and on…

Tip and Challenge Wednesday April 12th.

Good morning ladies and gentlemen!

Hope you're well rested and ready for the day. Just a reminder, I am now taking on line clients again so if you are interested in more intensive and interactive sessions with me, email me at and we can begin your personalized program.

Today's Tip: If your goal is to burn fat, stop doing so much cardio. Short, intense burst cardio is fine and helpful but long duration cardio does little for you aside from destroying the lean muscle you are trying to put on. For best results in fat loss, grab the weights!

Today's Challenge: It's time to grab a weight of some form, sand bag, dumbbells, a child, what ever you can and do some small stations. Today squat for 20, deadlift for 20, bicep curl for 20 and 20 push-ups. YOu have this for 5 sets by days end. Good luck!

Hope you all are enjoying the challenges and thank you for sticking with them!

Do well and Be well!

Tip and Challenge April 11th.

Good Morning Everyone!

It is time to get the day started and hopefully you are feeling well and sore :)
Well, we've reached that part in our relationship where I have to give you some bad's time to train some abs. We knew this point would come and here it is.

Tip: When training abs, keep your hands in front of you or out to the sides. Placing your hands behind your neck leads us to crank the neck an can cause problems in the long run.

Challenge: 5 sets of 15 is the challenge today. If you can do more, do so, if you can't, just try and finish out these 5 sets by days end. A single set should take you about 30 seconds, so this is very doable and takes minimal time. Partial V ups are the goal today. See pic. When you go back down to being supine, don't let your shoulders or feet touch the floor once you've started the set.

Ty's Hypertrophy Block Week One Day One.

So I started my hypertrophy block today and it will last probably four weeks. I tend to burn out fast on the squat until I puke style training but so far so good. I ramp these blocks up just like I do for strength phases and peaking phases in order to get my body used to the decreased rest period and increased activity output.

Today was a bit of a test run for me as I went both oly stance and sumo stance for each weight jump doing a set of 8 on both. Starting from just the bar 8 reps oly 8 reps sumo. My jumps went like this:

Bar 2x8-oly/sumo
135 2x8 oly/sumo
185 2x8 oly/sumo
225 2x8 oly/sumo
275 2x8 oly/sumo
315 2x8 oly/sumo
365 2x4 oly/sumo
405 2x3 oly/sumo (belt and sleeves)

So while my top end sets were minimal, by the time I started them my quads and hips were so full of blood, hitting depth was a chore. As each session progresses (2 per week) the bottom sets drop and the top sets increase. If today was any indicator this is going to challenge my fitness levels and definitely prod…

Daily Tip and Challenge April 10th

Good Morning!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and woke up today recharged and ready to tackle the week. Is that too much? Ha-Ha. It is Monday after all but hopefully you're at least ready to continue on your path to a fitter lifestyle.

I know that my new cycle starts today and I am ready to kick it off. I will post videos later and hopefully I don't puke. So, without further procrastination, here is your daily tip and challenge.

TIP: Don't stretch before you train, stretch after. A growing body of research has shown that the benefits of stretching pre-workout are negligible at best and actually cause a higher percentage of injury. Stretch after, once you are warm and the body is more limber.

Challenge: Leg Blaster
20 squats, 20 lunges, 20 jumping squats, 20 jumping lunges. Do this routine as fast as you are able and watch the leg pump go up! Try and do this at least 5 times before the day is over!

Make sure to continue getting in your extra water and hopefully the spr…

No, You Don't Need That.

As every experienced lifter knows, every new lifter thinks they need everything under the sun as far as supplements and supportive gear to be successful. Very few of us are lucky enough to be brought into a relationship with the bar through personal acquaintances like Bill Kazmaier or Andrey Malanichev. Most of the people from my generation got the idea by seeing Hulk Hogan, Schwarzenegger, or Lou Ferrigno. Today's youth it might more likely be the Rock or John Cena. Either way, most of us start out with goofy gloves and the Valeo belt from Dick's Sporting goods.

Every experienced lifter who reads this is either laughing or giving an audible groan.

Newbies read every article in every muscle magazine and imagine themselves being both jacked and tan in just a matter of weeks. The die off rate of enthusiasts is huge once they realize it takes years and years of consistent training and absurd amounts of food. Then there are the rest of us.

We've probably tried all the supplem…

Ty's Back Session for April 6th.

As I mentioned in my earlier posts, I do two sessions a week for the major body parts/lifts. The caveat being deadlift. I train this every other week swapping out heavy rows and front squats on the days I don't pull. Yesterday was a deadlift day but because my squat day was so high in volume Monday, I used yesterday more as a recovery model than anything else. I will add front squats in again today (Friday 4/7 as well).

Almost every session starts off of the jhooks, walking the bar out and doing Romanian style deadlifts for the first two sets and I start pulling from the floor at 315.

135x10 - Romanian
225x10 - Romanian
500x5x3 emom (Every Minute On the Minute)

Rows. I always use a snatch grip with my pointer finger just on the outside of the power ring. When I am doing a high volume day, I also do under hand grip with pointer on the inside of the power ring, palms facing up.


Pull Ups. I have always done pull ups snatch grip as well. Late…

Mental Fortitude.

Good morning everyone! I  hope you are well rested and ready to kick today in the seat of the pants.

As a seasoned athlete, I know that the mind quits far before the body does. As soon as we start thinking how tired we are, how hard it is, how much we don't like doing this, we start losing the battle. We start to reinforce a negative outlook on what we are doing.  Whenever my athletes would ask me how many more, my answer was always the same; "it's always one more rep." This brings us to today's tip.

Tip: The mind quits before the body does. 

Remember this when you think you can't do anymore. The truth is, you can probably do several more, you just think you can't. So every time you think you can't, take one more step, make one more squat, push out one more rep.

I know it's Friday and everyone wants an easy challenge but most of us relax on the weekends and enjoy time with friends and family and adult beverages or 8, so let's go out with some g…

Zen and the Art of Powerlifting.

This is an article I wrote and published a few years ago for Patheos. As I start the journey of opening Gorilla Pit once again with a modified business approach, I thought it a fitting article blending mind and body into the current embodiment of Gorilla Pit. I hope you enjoy.


I wrap my hands around the iron bar. The knurling digs into my palms and I squeeze harder. I take a step and bow under, guiding it onto my back. I squeeze my traps together, creating a platform where the weight and I meet for a few moments, and it sinks into me. I fill my lungs once and breathe it back out, wiggling into just the right position—left foot just a little more forward. One more breath and I stand tall, the weight comes off of the J hooks and together we step back once, twice, and stand in union. The weight pushes me into the earth and I press it into the heavens. In tandem we find balance and pause. I breathe out and back in, filling my belly until it pushe…

Daily Tip and Challenge; Just Walk

Good morning everyone!

Hope you are well rested and enjoying the daily challenges. Keep in mind, if you have to, you can modify any of these in order to meet or try and pass your current fitness level. The important thing is (and this brings us to today's tip) Just Keep Moving!

Tip: Just move. Get up often and move around. Keep your body moving.

Challenge: Take a walk. It's that easy. Try and walk between one and three miles today.

Another small tip, do it together. Many people who don't have a passion for fitness, find it hard to keep going. Grab a friend and have them join in. Keep each other accountable and keep each other moving!

The Aging Athlete.

After my life changing health issue, I was faced with some challenges. Now That I am 40, I am starting to see that I am faced with new challenges..age. While I am in many ways reaching that point many call "old man strength" I am also faced with a lower level of recovery and endurance. My strength seems to continue to climb but how I obtain and maintain that strength is very different.

I've heard a similar complaint or rather realization from many of my friends in the strength game.

As we age, as is commonly known, our needs begin to change. By 40 most men start to notice a drastic drop in testosterone levels. We fatigue easier, we notice we are more grumpy, less driven, less enthused and the depression driven mid life crisis develops (this sounds like a supplement commercial). While consistent weight training can help lessen these issues and keep testosterone levels heightened for our age, we are still going to notice the movement of time on our bodies.

When I started …

Tip and Challenge Day Two.

Good morning everyone! Hope you all slept well and are ready to tackle your day or at least limp through it if you did the 20 squats an hour challenge yesterday.  Here is today's tip and challenge.

Tip: Instead of 8 glasses of 8 oz of water try 6 20 oz glasses of water each day.

Challenge: For the first two hours of the morning and the last two hours of the morning, do 10 push-ups every 10 minutes. If you can do more during the day, do so. If you do the two early hours and two evening hours, you will have completed 320 push-ups for the day!

If you can't do 10, try doing sets of 5 instead. This will still have you doing over 100 push-ups by days end.

Hope you enjoy the challenge!

Do Well and Be Well.

Bench Day April 4th

Today, 4/4 is the first bench session of my week. I was working on some new prompts for my set up and decent as I was having some shoulder pain on my wide grip day. I found that I had been coming down to high on my chin and forcing my elbows out instead of tucking them in and bringing the bar down in a mid chest path.

So, I stayed lighter and worked on these and did some assistance work as well.

Warm up with empty bar for 30 reps of upright rows to the forehead and 30 face pulls with double mini bands. I actually do these 10 to chest, 10 to chin, 10 to forehead and do this between every bench set up until 315 and then on all my drop sets. I do around 300 face pulls each bench day.

135x10 (face pulls)
185x5 (face pulls)
225x5 (face pulls)
275x3 (face pulls)
315x2 (face pulls)
275x3x5 (face pulls between each set)

I follow these with 5x5 behind the neck wide grip pulls ups (pinkies touching outside of rack)
3x8 Upright rows at 115lbs superset with 3x15 hanging leg raises for…

Don't call it a comeback!

Many of you know my story, new readers may not, but its not my diagnosis I want to focus on, that was the last chapter, it is my recovery that I chose to focus on, my come back!

Many of us are faced with challenges in the day to day, of how to fit fitness and wellness into our schedules. We have work, kids, family, chores, repairs, updates, upkeep and seemingly never enough hours in the day. Others have different challenges seemingly keeping them from fitness, health issues like cancer, heart failure, limb loss, mental health issues and then there are those who see these as an added challenge to tackle not one that keeps them from making an attempt.

I have been involved in fitness my whole life. I started when I was in 1st grade, like many, playing soccer. This migrated into 20 years in the martial arts and the last 15 years in weight training, strongman, powerlifting, and general fitness. I met my own challenge 6 years ago. I was told I would never touch another barbell. It was over.…

Welcome to Gorilla Pit Athletics

Welcome to Gorilla Pit Athletics, the fitness blog and company of founder, Ty Phillips. You will find daily fitness challenges, eating tips, technique tips, advice, and hopefully some inspiration to start the journey of getting fit.

Daily tip:Start your morning with 20oz of warm water. Drink it first thing and 20-30 minutes before you eat. 
Today's challenge: Do 20 squats every hour on the hour up until the hour before bed time. If you do this easy step, you should be able to get in 200 plus squats in a day.

Add a comment below and let me know if you did the challenge and how you feel!

Do well! Be well!