How to perform the Bulgarian Split Squat (RFESS)

The article will list and demonstrate how to perform the Bulgarian Split Squat, also known as the Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat (RFESS).

This exercise is a great alternative to those who can’t perform traditional squats due to low back issues, but want to build strong legs.

It is also very friendly on the knees, making it a great option for those who suffer from knee pain when doing squats.

Essentially, the Bulgarian Split Squat is a lunge variation in which the rear foot is elevated on a bench, and the front foot is extended far enough so that your knee does not extend past your toes when squatting down.

As with any exercise, however, the technique will make or break the benefits of incorporating this into your routine.

The most important consideration when performing this exercise is the height of the rear leg.

Personally speaking, I find that most standard benches are too high for me to perform this exercise comfortably and I instead use a single leg squat stand (this is the one I use, but there are a few available from other manufacturers).

The second consideration is how far out you should place your front foot.

Your knee should not extend past your toes, but there is conflicting information about how vertical your shin should be during the exercise.  While this may come down to personal preference, ultimately your shin and torso should be at similar angles when at the bottom position of the exercise.

After you are properly set up, you are ready to initiate the movement.

Before you squat down, you are going to want to lean your torso slightly forward so you can get proper depth.  This video does a great job of showing and explaining this further.

The third consideration is how you are going to load the exercise.

There are a few different ways to load the exercise (barbell across back or front, Safety Squat bar, Goblet squat, trap bar), but personally I feel that dumbbells in each hand are the way to go, as they will allow you to bail safely out of the exercise if necessary.

In my opinion, the more dangerous alternative is putting a bar across your back.  Unless you have spotters it is more difficult to bail out of, and can put strain on your lower back.  Lifters who use this variation typically do so because the dumbbells available to them don’t provide enough resistance.

Finally, you want to have some padding on the ground for the knee on the rear leg.  The lower the rear leg on the set up, the more likely the knee will touch the ground.

The key to making this exercise useful is proper set up, and not relying on the back leg too much.  The idea is that the back leg is there for support, not to aid in the amount of weight lifted.

As a result, it’s important to check your ego at the door when selecting weights for this exercise on focus on the technique.

Check out these Bulgarian Split Squat videos which demonstrate and give additional information on how to properly perform this great exercise:

How to have civil conversations about controversial topics

If you turn on the news, or check social media, it seems that all you see is debating and arguing.

While there is a plethora of disagreement over controversial topics, there seems to be little meaningful discussion.

Which begs the question, whatever happened to civil discourse?

Civil discourse is defined as an engagement in conversation intended to enhance understanding.

It also seems to have temporarily disappeared from our society.

We can all, however, get back on the path to civil discourse by following a few simple steps:

First and foremost, we must approach these interactions with emotional intelligence.  Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.  The key is to take the emotion away from the interaction, and not the significance or importance of the issue.

Second, we must look inside and be aware of own assumptions and biases, which form the basis of our current beliefs, and how they differ from the person we’re speaking with.

Third, we have to be willing to listen.  Meaningful dialogue cannot occur without it. Listening gives us a chance to truly understand why a person feels a certain way, or as Stephen Covey would say, “Seek first to understand, then be understood.”  Unfortunately, there is a tendency to tune out, disregard, and argue with anyone who has an opinion different than our own.

Fourth, we have to do our homework.  In the new era of fake or false news, there has been an abundance of stories shared on social media that simply aren’t true.  Unfortunately, for some, there is tendency to believe what they read without any fact checking.  Finding reputable unbiased sources for information is required (although this  becoming harder to do with views that go too far left or right).

Fifth, after we have listened to others who have viewpoints different than our own, we must exercise discernment.  Discernment is the ability to judge well, and is based on educating ourselves and forming viewpoints based on facts and understanding, and no on opinions or unverified information.

Sixth, after we have followed all of the above steps, we must learn to present ourselves respectfully, even if we decide to agree to disagree with someone and their viewpoints.

Finally, while we may have the right to free speech, we must understand that our words are not free of consequences.

As a result, we should be judicious and respectful with our words, and do our part to bring civil discourse back to these important discussions.





CHAOS – How to take back control of your life and business

There has been much written this past week about the chaos in the White House.

Chaos provides distraction and noise, which gets people off topic and task.

This is not immune to the White House, however, as chaos is prevalent both in business and at home.

In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey outlined the time management matrix.  The matrix was made up of quadrants which broke activities down as being important/urgent, not urgent/important, not important/urgent, and not important/not urgent.

The important/urgent quadrant is where the chaos and crisis occurs.  It is marked by pressing problems and deadlines, and is the place where things must get done.  It is marked by immediacy, and while it may be sometimes be inevitable, it is a place that we should avoid whenever possible.

Instead, Mr. Covey said that we should spend the majority of our time in the important/not urgent quadrant.

This is the area where we plan, look to prevent, and build relationships.  It is where we are proactive, and if done right, prevents the chaos from occurring.

Dr. Wayne Dyer said that, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

To help us deal with and take control of the chaos around us, we can begin to look at it in the following context:

Commitment – This is where we make the effort to make things better.  Too often leaders put band-aids on problems because they realize the effort that is needed to fix them.  We must commit to the effort in making long lasting change.

Honesty – Honesty is required for us to admit there’s a problem, and what that problem is.  We must also be honest with ourselves with the role that our leadership (or lack thereof) plays in the chaos that exists around us.

Articulation – As leaders, we must ask ourselves if we have properly articulated our vision, mission, and expectations to those around us.  If so, do they understand them?

Organization – Does your organization have clearly defined roles and responsibilities?  While we may strive for a sense of autonomy to do our job, it is important to know what that job is and how it fits into the overall hierarchy of our organization.  If there’s a problem, do your people know the is proper person to report it to?

Source and Solutions – Once we know what the source of the problems around us are, we must come up with a game plan to address them.  Sometimes the solution may involve the hiring and/or firing of personnel.  Other times, it may involve new policies or procedures.  To make effective change, however, you must clear on the source of the problem and the resulting solutions will be ineffective.

Whether it be at your business, the White House, or your own house, we can eliminate the chaos around us with a few simple steps if we are willing to make an effort to do so.



The traits of a great LEADER

A great leader can transform a business or organization, while a poor leader can destroy one.

Leadership, in its most simple definition, is the ability to influence others while providing purpose, motivation, and direction.

There have been countless articles and books written on this subject, in addition to numerous college courses and degrees in this area.

The fortunate thing for all of us is that great leaders are made, not born, and anyone can learn how to become one if they are willing to put in the time and effort.

To get you started, and keep you on the path, start focusing on the following traits and behaviors:

Listen – There is an old proverb that states, “listen or your tongue will keep you deaf.” Listening is must for any great leader.  If your people don’t feel as if their input is valued, you will quickly lose them.  Also, they may give you insight that you were not aware of which can help you with your decision making.

EthicsEthics refer to the desirable and appropriate values and morals according to an individual or the society at large.  They are also the foundation of a great leader or organization.  There are countless examples of leaders and organizations that have failed because they lost their moral compass during the journey to success.

AttitudeJohn Maxwell has written much about the power of a person’s attitude.  It is the first thing people will pick up on when interacting with you.  A positive person will tend to draw people in, while a negative person will push them away.  Take stock and ownership – does your attitude help or hurt you in your interaction with others?

Discipline – Too often we think of discipline is a negative way, or in terms of punishment.  A highly disciplined leader, however, is in control of their emotions and behaviors.  They do not fly off the handle and put their employees on edge when things don’t go right.  When times are tough, and people are looking for direction, a great leader maintains their composure and leads the way.

EmpathyEmpathy is the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective. Stephen Covey calls this “seek first to understand, then be understood.” People are not robots.  When managing or leading a team, it is important to know where each person is coming from to help motivate and bridge the gap between your expectations and their abilities.

Respect -To earn the respect of others, we must first be able to give it.  Leaders sometime get caught up in their own self importance, but there are simple ways for leaders to show respect to those around them.

Anyone can do it with a little bit of effort, but do you have what it takes to be a LEADER?

How to build and restore Trust in any relationship

They key to successful relationships, whether in our personal or professional lives, is the existence of trust.

Legendary Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz said:

The new player has three questions about the coach, which are the same questions the coach has about the player:

  1. Can I trust you?
  2. Are you committed?
  3. Do you care about me?

Trust requires effort to build, but can quickly be lost if not maintained.

We can achieve, and restore, TRUST in our relationships, however, by focusing on the following:

Truth – First and foremost, the truth must be present for trust to occur.  It is the foundation for any relationship, and requires each party to be honest with one another.

Respect – Each party must also have a mutual respect for the other.  Without it, we may take take the other person for granted and be dismissive of their ideas or feelings.  A feeling of lack of respect is the one of the biggest killers in any relationship.

Understanding – As Stephen Covey stated in the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, “Seek first to understand, then be understood.”  We may not always agree with someone, but trying to understand why they feel or think a certain way shows that we care and are willing to listen.

Support – A spirit of togetherness and teamwork is required to foster a relationship.  Each party should know they have the support of the other, and know that each is willing to offer a helping hand, or ear, when necessary.

Transparency – While similar to the truth, transparency is providing all of the information with no hidden agendas.  Here’s an example of how one can be truthful or honest, without being transparent:

A wine glass is halfway filled with wine.  You can say the glass is half empty (or half full), and you are telling the truth.  You are being transparent, however, if you say that the 8 oz glass has 4 oz of wine in it.

Trust takes time to build, and can quickly erode, but focusing on the tenets of TRUST can help us to keep our relationships on track.