A few weeks ago I had the honor of presenting at the Kentucky NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) conference. My good friend Kris Freeman was also presenting that day. During his presentation, not only did I learn a ton about Turkish Get-Ups and how to perform them properly, but I was also reminded of something that should be at the forefront of all of our minds when we train, and that is our “training why.”

Why Do You Need a “WHY?”

Kris reminded me how important it is to have a WHY when you train. That WHY gets you out of bed at 6am to run sprints, that WHY is what pushes you through your last 2-3 reps on a really tough set of squats, that WHY convinces you to add another 5 lbs to the bar when you think you’ve reached your limit, that WHY inspires you to keep pulling when you’re straining on a heavy deadlift, that WHY convinces you not to give up when your body is telling you that you can’t do it. Your “WHY” should be at the forefront of your mind anytime you are training.


What’s your training WHY?


What’s a Good Why?

The result of heavy compound lifts and good nutrition

So what’s a good WHY? Well, that’s a good question… I think it’s different for everyone. For some, it may be as lighthearted as looking good in their favorite jeans while for others it could be as serious as avoiding the heart attack that took their parents from them at a young age.

My WHY is multi-faceted.

As some of you know, I used to be overweight (approximately 34% body fat, but who’s counting?)

Training helped me take control of my body, improve my health, and skyrocket my self confidence.  I have also noticed that I the way I treat myself and the way I let others treat me is very different.  I used to allow some people to treat me like garbage and I wouldn’t do anything about it.  I think I craved their attention and acceptance.

These days I fill my life with people with whom I have healthy and kind relationships.  Gone are the days of letting myself be treated poorly.  It also boosted my self-confidence in terms of what I feel I can accomplish and what limits I set (or don’t set) for myself.  After picking 341 lbs up off the floor, I feel like there’s nothing I can’t tackle!

I also come from a family of over-achievers… doctors, lawyers, authors, honest politicians (<–crazy, right?) Many of them have an opportunity to help people, inspire people, and educate people on a daily basis and it has been ingrained in me since I was very young that those things are so important. Training myself, training my clients, and sharing information about training is MY way of helping, inspiring, and educating others. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love the way hard and heavy training makes my body look. The best part? The way my body looks is a direct result of what it can do… and that’s so cool.

What’s Kris’ Why?

So why is having a WHY so important to Kris?  Kris is a Recon Marine (equivalent of Marine Corps Special Forces) and he was blown up by an IED (improvised explosive device) over in Iraq 5 1/2 years ago and suffered devastating injuries. He was supposed to spend 6+ months in a wheelchair but because he was so used to being active, he spent most of that time hopping around on 1 foot creating even more asymmetries and imbalances than he would have had from his initial injuries. He did several months of outpatient PT, he swam, and did whatever he could to stay active.


Kris in July 2006 at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital


Once he was cleared to work out again, he sought out a personal trainer to help him progress further, but he was disappointed with their lack of knowledge about the body and the way it was supposed to function. You see, he didn’t just want to be “normal.” He wanted to be athletic, strong and agile again. He wanted to run, jump, sprint, throw and lift heavy things without pain. He wanted to reclaim the life he had, and resume the activities he took part in before this tragedy. He also wanted to show gratitude for the second chance he was given, and what better way to do that than to take care of your body and explore the limits of what it can do?

He began doing some kettlebell work in the gym on his own (he had dabbled in it before, but nothing extensive) and really enjoyed it. He then progressed to heavy barbell movements but soon realized he was too asymmetrical and imbalanced to benefit from the barbell stuff just yet. So he went back to his kettlebell work and began to really focus on improving his asymmetries, imbalances and weaknesses using movements likes the Turkish Get-Up, the Goblet Squat and the Swing. He also got assessed by Mike Robertson and Bill Hartman at IFAST and benefited from several months of their programs.


Kris doing an 88lbs Get-Up on his “weak” side


Another really impressive fact about Kris? He doesn’t use any meds to manage his pain. He manages his pain through daily foam rolling, and mobility work and stretches that he picked up from Mike and Bill of IFAST and also from Kelly Starrett of www.mobilitywod.com. **I should also mention that his beautiful wife Jordan has been by his side the whole time and I know he feels like her support is an integral part of his success!**


Strong, Athletic, Healthy…


Fast forward a couple of years and Kris is doing awesome! He moves well, he’s strong, he’s athletic and he is helping other people reach their goals and changes their lives as a Trainer and Coach at CrossFit Maximus in Lexington, Ky.


Kris in 2007 and 2012 (notice the difference in the right arm)


So there you have it. Why you should have a why, my why, Kris’ why… OK that’s probably enough why’s for one sentence. Whatever your why is – identify it, own it, and repeat it to yourself often. You never know…when you are feeling unmotivated, tired, or defeated, it may just be the kick in the pants you need to keep going.

Please take a minute and let me know what you think of the article and what your training why is! I would love to hear what you have to say!