T Nation

The Adventures of a Gym Owner


After about a 2 year hiatus, I've decided to start keeping an online training log again. Unfortunately every forum I've put my log on has died, so since T-Nation has a lot of staying power I decided to keep it on here (and hopefully not kill T-Nation in the process).

Anyway, my name is Johann Gylfason, I'm the co-owner of East Carolina Barbell in Greenville NC. I compete in powerlifting and Highland Games. I'm an Icelander, which pretty cool, but the thing is I'm not very strong at all. Being a weak Icelander is kind of like being a really slow Jamaican.

My training has been on the back burner since opening the gym in 2009. But now things are going really well at the gym so Thor (my brother and partner) and I are getting our shit straight again training-wise. I've been a Westside fan for many years, but recently I've moved towards Mark Rippetoe / Bill Starr's method of training. Right now I'm running a slightly modified Texas Method program and it's working very well for me.

I'm by no means an expert on training or running a business, but I've been doing both full-time for about 2 years now, so I've learned quite a bit (especially what not to do). So I'll throw out some insight about what I do for those that might be interested in pursuing a career as a strength coach.

I'm always open to questions/feedback/criticism/etc, so feel free.

This week I'm de-loading because I feel pretty beat up. I'm racked up some nagging little injuries over the years, plus I'm getting older (I'm 30), so I'm putting a lot more effort into taking care of myself than I did before.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to interacting with the T-Nation forum!


Johann, I will be bugging the ever-loving shit out of you in the very near future, as I am looking to open my own facility down the road. Looking forward to getting to know you, you weak Icelander! :wink:


Welcome to T-Nation and the training log section. It'll be interesting getting the perspective of a gym owner on here. Very cool.


What's down the road exactly? If you're too close I just might give you bad advice :slightly_smiling: But seriously, thanks for the kind words and feel free to pick my brain.

Thanks sam!


Recovery Day/u

Barbell RDL's - 225x8x3

Strict OH Press - 135x5x3

Back Extensions - BWx10x5

Pull-ups - BW+1ch x 6,6,6

I'm taking a week off of squatting due to my right knee acting up, plus my right pec is pretty beat up too. I'll be back to normal on Monday.

Anyway my program is as follows:

Monday (volume day) - Squat 5x5 / OH Press or Bench 5x5

Wednesday (recovery day) - Squat 2x5 (90% of monday) / OH Press or Bench 3x5 (90% of previous monday) / Back Ext. 10x5 / Chin-ups 3 x max

Friday (intensity day) - Squat 5RM (I use wraps this day) / Bench or OH Press 5RM / Deadlift 5RM (every other week).

So the structure is very similar to the Texas method. The only difference is that 1) I've moved the deadlift to fridays and eliminated the cleans (I don't do them) 2) I've added knee wraps to the 5RM squat so I can't use those numbers to determine my Mondays numbers (since I don't wrap up on mondays) 3) I only pull a heavy 5 every other week. Tuesdays and Thursdays I do light conditioning work or practice some throws if it's close to a games.

As for my log, I don't put up warmup sets because nobody gives a shit about warmup sets. My numbers are in pounds not kilos, and I write in the weight x reps x sets format.


Thanks Johann. Much appreciated putting up your log here for us to read.

Do you have any plans for rehabbing your injuries? Anything you do for prehab?


Sure np Chris, glad to be aboard.

Anyway, my knee starting bothering me after a leg press session back in 2000. I've had MRI's done on it and everything, and they never find anything really wrong with it.
My pec was injured at an IPA meet a couple of years ago. I didn't have a lift-off guy so I just asked some random asshole to help me out. Big mistake. The guy did a shitty hand-off and I lost it to the side. I had a shirt on and didn't really realize the extent of the injury until the shirt came off (after two more lifts). Of course my dumbass never got it checked out, but I'm pretty sure it was a minor tear because there is a good amount of scar tissue there.

I have always been lazy about warming up, but recently I've added a dynamic warmup routine to my training (just Magnificent Mobility stuff). I've been more diligent about foam rolling and static stretching too. Right now my training groups are getting larger, so I can rely on clients to change weights and move shit around, which is making a big difference already. My style of training can be physically demanding for the trainer. I had an intern that lost 25lbs over the summer, he didn't really lift or anything or change his diet that much, the job is just that demanding.




Prowler backpedal and forward sprint w/blast straps & 90lbs - 100ft x 5 rounds

Lance came today and pretty much made me do some conditioning with him. I'm lazy as shit when it comes to prowler work, and I'll usually put it off unless somebody pushes me. Lance was an offensive lineman at ECU, so he absolutely loves prowler work in 100 degree heat. Me, not so much.



Intensity Day (De-Load)

Buffalo Bar Good Mornings - 405x1

Strict OH Press - 135x5x3

Crucifix Hold - 20lbs x 60secs

I was really tempted to just go ahead and squat since I'm feeling really good, but I want to give my knee a few more days to recover. I wanted some weight on my back so I just did a heavy good morning.

We're in the process of putting together a strongman demo at an event called the Watermelon festival here in Greenville. It's pretty much the biggest festival in this area. We're going to be doing our thing right before the main act which is Rodney Atkins (hot shit in the country music crowd apparently). So we have the potential to have a HUGE crowd (many times larger than an average strongman crowd).



Volume Day

Squats - 340x5x5

Bench Press - 280x5x5

No regrets after doing that deload week. I felt fresh and healthy as hell today. I made a couple of adjustments to my squats that really took my bum knee out of the equation. Billy looked at my legs as noticed that my right leg (problem one) is about 2cm shorter than the other. So I squatted today with right foot about 2cm behind my left. That seemed to alleviate most of my pain, so I'm excited to see how that pans out in the next few weeks.

The video guy here was Skyler, one of my trainers. I have no idea why he walked around me while I was squatting. He probably just wanted to get a better view of my ass.



Recovery Day

Squats - 315x5x2
OH Press - 135x5x3
Reverse Hypers - Mini x10x3
Kroc Rows - 156x15 (both sides)

Well today was a bitch of day at the gym. Seemed like every bill under the sun was due all at once. Plus the IRS sent me a wonderful $3120 bill for being late filing our taxes. Just......FUCK. Being a business owner is like have a bulls eye painted on my ass. The best thing is that I'm going to buy whatever groceries I can tonight to feed my family. It might be some beans and milk and eggs or something. While at the store, some unemployed dirtbag will be in front of me with a grocery cart full of food. This asshole will then proceed to swipe his EBT (foodstamp) card for the food, and then whip out a wad of cash to pay for his smokes, beer, and lottery tickets. In the meantime I'm working 70+ hours a week and barely keeping my head over water and I'm getting raped by the US Federal Government. My life would be 100 times easier if I just said "fuck it" and stopped working. But I just love what I do too much...



Intensity Day

Squats - 440x4
Bench Press - 315x4

Yes this was supposed to be fives, so technically I failed both attempts. But, whatever reps I did felt and looked pretty good so I'm not going to cry about it (too much).


Some good looking squats man, I'll be following your log too. Have you ever squatted with a wider stance? Just curious, as your narrow stance is obviously working for you


My left leg is 2cm shorter than my right one. It really sucks. Also, nice lifts.


Awesome, yeah I should get out my MM dvd for my hips, &c. I realized this the other day after I couldn't extend my hips all the way without feeling like I was going to tear something.


Oh yes I sure have. My first introduction to real training was the good old Westside Conjugate method. I squatted really wide my first few years of training. I experimented with single ply and multi-ply gear, I never really had any guidance or powerlifters around me, but I did ok with it. I squatted 725 at a UPA meet a few years ago.

Recently I've scrapped all the gear (except for my knee wraps), and I've focused on getting real depth as well. It's been a huge blow to the ego. All of a sudden 315 (a warm-up weight) got HEAVY. You really don't know how much you're relying on the gear until you take it off.

But since I've moved away from Westside towards the Rippletits methods, I feel much stronger and healthier.


Yes it does, but you just have to deal with the best you can. Maybe changing my stance will at least get that annoying knee pain to subside a bit. Also, thanks :slightly_smiling:


That's not a good sign. Hip injuries are a pain in the ass to deal with, it's virtually impossible to rest your hips properly without using a wheelchair or something. I've started adding 10-15 mins of hip mobility work before I touch a barbell. Shit, it takes me about 30-45 minutes to get to my squat work weight these days. It's boring as hell, but it's something you have to do.

Every client I have does a dynamic mobility circuit before they start lifting, no exceptions. As a result I have had virtually no incidence of injury in my facility over the last 2 years, and I work with a very diverse group of individuals.



Stupidity Day

Block Pull (12" block, right below the knee) - 615x1

Well everybody at the gym was lifting stuff at the gym, so I just had to do something. I did a conventional block pull for a heavy single. Yes that was dumb I know, but fuck it. I haven't pulled anything conventional since I pulled the hell out of my back last year (doing the same thing I was doing today). I tried 655 a couple of times but it wasn't happening.

I'm considering going back to conventional pulling again. My knee never really liked sumo, it's been especially bad since I started squatting 3 times a week. Plus sumo is kinda gay...



Volume Day

Squats - 345x5x5
OH Press - 155x5x5

This session doesn't look like much on paper, but it's brutal. I'm going to skip squatting on Wednesday, just because everything from my knees down needs a breather. Plus I want to be fresh on Friday. I'm not too happy about not getting 200kg for 5 last week.

At this rate if nothing goes wrong, I'll get about 470lbs for 5 reps before the October meet at Brute. If I'm walking out that weight for 5, I'm pretty sure I could handle a single for 550 out of a monolift.



Recovery Day

Bench Press - 250x5x3
Cable Pull-downs - 155x8x5
Back Extensions - BWx10x5
Pull-ups - BW 1CH x8x3

This day was just crap from the beginning. My neighbor woke me up at 4:30am because he had to go to the ER, so I had to watch his kids until he got back (6 hours later). So I had to get Skyler to cover my morning people and my sleep was FUCKED. I couldn't sleep worth a damn on my neighbors couch, it was too weird.