Goal-Directed Behaviors

Get A Cue!

Coaching cues are an important ally not only to coaches, but also for self-coached athletes and recreational lifters. I think of cues as very quick mantras that improve performance when used correctly.

Over the years, I've given a lot of thought to the best use of these cues, and I thought I'd share my perspective on the subject with you in this post.

Internal VS External Cues

An "external" cue is one provided by a coach, training partner, spectator, or anyone else trying to help you out. An "internal" cue comes from you, generally in the absence of external cues from someone else, or (sometimes) in addition to them. Internal cues are in essence a form of "self-talk" that you use to coax a better performance from yourself.

Energy Cues And Technical Cues

Energy cues are used for the purpose of increasing your energy and/or elevating your mood. Common examples are all too familiar:

"C'mon, it's all you!"

"Easy weight bro, easy weight!"

"Tight and fast!"

Examples of energy cues are endless, but they all share one thing: a lack of technical instruction or direction.

That's what technical cues are for. Examples include:

"Chest up!" (Commonly used for squats or pulls)

"Tight lats, loose hands" (Often used for cleans)

"Pull those shoulder blades down and back" (For rows)

Positive And Negative

It's important to note that good cues accomplish two important things:

1) They help you to focus on what's most important at the moment.

2) They help you zone out distractions- things that tend to creep into your mind when you don't want them to. For example, your cue of "crush that bar into a pulp" might help to keep your nagging self-doubt at bay, and it might take your mind off the fact that you have a stressful meeting to deal with later that afternoon.

Your Cues Portfolio

The use of cues can be frustrating at times- one day a certain cue works like magic; the next time, it doesn't work at all. Why is this?

My belief is that a cue works only when it addresses and improves a significant bottleneck in either your energy or performance. By definition, if the cue works, the problem it was addressing is no longer your most significant limitation, so now you need a new cue to address and solve your current most significant bottleneck. And this is why you need a portfolio of cues.

With a cues portfolio, you can rotate cues as needed, depending on your situation. You can write them on wall (or in my case, on the squat rack, as shown in the photo here) or in your training journal.

Please Share Your Thoughts

If you have thoughts about cueing that I haven't touched on here, please hare your thoughts by leaving a comment!

The Best Way To Do Your "To Do's" - EVER


When you've got unfinished business rattling around in your head, it just kills your energy, which in turn has a tendency to kill your workouts, not to mention your nutrition plan. AGAIN: Effective training takes place within the context of a successful life.

I found a way to use two GREAT services, together, in a way that will make your to do list as easy and seamless as an Apple computer:

1) Sign up to GooToDo, an online to do list that allows you to e-mail your to do's to an online interface. You can get a free 30-day trial, after which you pay only $3/month.

2) Get a Jott account for free. Jott allows you to make phone calls to your e-mail inbox, where you can view your message as text, and/or listen to a recording of it.

Now here's where it gets cool: Jott allows you to have multiple contacts. So once you've signed up for both services, add "to do" as a Jott contact. Then, when you call in your personalized Jott 800-number, you'll hear "Who do you want to Jott?"

You answer "To Do." Then you speak whatever it is you'd like to add to your to-do list, and within 2-3 minutes, it'll be there on your GooToDo to-do list