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Mobility for Rowers, Part 1: The Thoracic Spine

With its unique demands as a seated sport, rowing requires an aggressive mobility regimen to avoid decreased performance, pain, and injury. Learn how to effectively target these problem areas with a combination of self-manual therapy, dynamic stretching, and static stretching for improved performance and longevity in the sport.

Part 1: The Thoracic Spine
Part 2: The Hip Flexors
Part 3: The Glutes
Part 4: The Ankles

For most athletes, practicing and competing in their sport is a daily break from the usual routine of sitting necessitated by the lifestyle of a student or desk-bound employee, but not so for rowers. While mobility work is important for all athletes, without dedicated attention to specific target areas, rowers can develop severe mobility restrictions that can decrease performance and lead to both short-term and long-term pain or injury.

Continue reading → Mobility for Rowers, Part 1: The Thoracic Spine

Comprehensive Lower Body Warm-Up

Will Ruth

Activate your muscles, gain mobility in target areas, and enhance performance with this <5 minute lower body warm-up. This will work for any athletes as most people in our desk-bound society have tight hip flexors and groin muscles that need to be stretched and slack glutes that need to be activated. This warm-up also helps groove the squat and hip hinge movements used in almost all sports and lower body workouts. Click “more” below the video to read the full explanation!

Continue reading → Comprehensive Lower Body Warm-Up

Peak Power Training for Rowing

“More steady state” is the traditional answer to seemingly all of a rower’s problems, and, like nearly all advice that achieves meme-status, it is usually wrong. Everyone knows the importance of an aerobic base in a majority aerobic sport like rowing. Aerobic base and endurance are trained and trained and trained from the first time you sit on an erg or in a boat, so much so that it becomes less and less of a separating factor the longer you row and the higher level you achieve. Every competitive rower already has a strong aerobic base and has used their many thousands of kilometers of training to develop great technique to go with it. Rather than think you can get ahead by doing even more aerobic base work, let’s look instead to an important quality of training that many rowers have not yet developed to their full potential. This is peak power.

The math on this is pretty simple. Using a 2k-to-watts calculator, we know that you have to average 480 watts for a 6-minute 2k. Do you think it will be easier to hold 480W for six minutes if your max watts is 550 or if your max watts is 850? Remember, increased strength results in decreased per-stroke effort, which results in increased endurance. Train to increase your max watts and maintain your aerobic base, and your endurance at lower wattages will improve as well.

Renowned strength coach and Rowing Faster contributor Ed McNeely provides exactly a justification for this shift of focus in a 2009 article on peak power training, and suggests that your target pace should be less than 55% of your peak power as measured by a 10-second max watts test. McNeely also provides recommendations for peak power training on the water and on the erg, and while these are great for specific training, it misses a huge opportunity for peak power development outside of the boat. Consider this article a companion piece to McNeely’s. If increasing peak power is your goal, incorporate some of his recommendations for your erg or water training, and incorporate some of my suggestions here into your strength training.

Enter the Weight-Room

Continue reading → Peak Power Training for Rowing

5 Tips for Optimal Rowing Performance

Will Ruth

The following is general advice not meant as medical advice or an accurate diagnosis or prescription of your individual problems. I highly recommend using the below as injury prevention only and if you are currently injured or hurt, seeking the advice of a medical professional and/or physical therapist.

The single most important reason to weight train is prevention of injury. Immediate performance improvement is a distant #2. This is contrary to the beliefs of most, but does it matter how strong or how fast you are, or how great your endurance is, if you hurt too much to display it? What if you can out-run everyone on your team, but due to a shoulder injury, can’t row in the big race? What if you have the best technique in the boat, but can’t race or go 100% because of a hip injury? Weight-training can prevent muscular imbalances that lead to injury, which keeps athletes in the boat longer, providing more time to practice form and gain opportunities to improve in the sport, which can earn a longer, healthier, and more successful career. This is why injury prevention is #1 and immediate performance is #2. 

Continue reading → 5 Tips for Optimal Rowing Performance

Effective Circuit Training for Team Sports

Will Ruth

Main Takeaways

1. Training with weights doesn’t have to be time-and-space-consuming if you have pre-planned workouts and structure within the weight-room.

2. Implementing effective circuit training can improve safety, team unity, and quality of session.

Many teams and programs hesitate to add team strength training into their practice regimen due to concerns of time and space. While many programs lack a weight-room sufficiently sized to train a whole team at once, circuit training can be an effective way for individual athletes, small groups of athletes, or an entire team to make efficient use of training time and space. 

Continue reading → Effective Circuit Training for Team Sports

Youth Sports Training

Will Ruth

Main Takeaways

  1. Young athletes can benefit greatly from strength training, including improved motor control, superior coordination, better movement mechanics, decrease of injury risk, and building habits of mental focus and physical discipline.

  2. Commonly cited problems with youth strength training usually result from poor instruction, coaching, or misuse of equipment rather than the actual training itself. There are many misconceptions surrounding youth training with regard to health and effectiveness.

  3. Focus on maximizing enjoyment and mastery of the basic common athletic patterns—squat, press, pull, hinge, and carry.

First, let’s clear up some of common misconceptions about youth strength training.

#1: Lifting weights causes damage to growth plates and ultimately stunts growth and adult height.

  • This myth has been around for a while [1], despite much scientific evidence that shows that not only does strength training inflict less compressive force on the joints and injury compared to other sports involving running and jumping [2], but that strength training can help prevent injuries to bones and growth plates [3]. This myth is also the result of a misconception of what youth strength training really looks like, as most people think that strength training has to mean heavy lifting and straining against maximal weights. This is not at all the case, especially for youths, and training with bodyweight or light free weights can provide a great, safe, effective foundation of strength for a young beginner athlete. “The rare case reports of epiphyseal [growth] plate fractures related to strength training are attributed to misusing equipment, lifting inappropriate amounts of weight, using improper technique, or training without qualified adult supervision [4].”

Continue reading → Youth Sports Training

Basics of Strength Training for Rowing

Short on time? Download the free Rowing Stronger “Quick Guide to Strength Training for Rowing” and take it with you on the go!
Download (PDF)

Main Takeaways

  • Understand that periodization is necessary to adequately train all qualities necessary for success in rowing.
  •  Keep your rowing-specific training to the erg and on the water and use the weight-room for strength training and injury prevention.
  •  “Fatigue masks fitness,” so adjust your training volume to match each season’s focus so that you are at your fittest and fastest when it matters most.

Design: Lyndsey Nuckols
Behold, Periodization! [Design: Lyndsey Nuckols]
Periodization simply means organizing one’s training to prioritize certain qualities over others at different times of the year. The advantage of periodization, rather than “everything-at-once-ization,” is the ability to focus on developing specific qualities to build to a championship performance. Strength, endurance, power, technique, and balance are all important factors in a rowing program and it is impossible to train all to their full potential simultaneously. Periodization provides the answer for how to get the most out of each training variable and apply it to race season.

Here is how I periodize my spring 2k rowers’ training using the block periodization method to train and maintain qualities of strength, endurance, and power required for rowing.

“Main work” is used to train the primary objective of each training block. These exercises are usually squats, front squats, deadlifts, and/or overhead presses.

“Assistance work” is then performed after the main work. There are two important purposes to assistance work:

1. Build the main work lifts with close variations of the main lifts. This may include front squats, Romanian deadlifts, or dumbbell presses to build strength and size for rowing.

2. Injury prevention. Rowers who do not weight-train will develop imbalances. Common imbalances from sweep rowing include: quadriceps-dominance, gluteus muscle weakness, hip flexor tightness, thoracic kyphosis (rounded upper back), and internally rotated shoulders. These imbalances not only result in poor movement efficiency leading to slower times, but also a variety of chronic aches and pains, either short-term or lasting long after the athlete’s rowing career is over. We can avoid all of this by employing assistance work that is focused on the muscles that rowing fails to develop: the gluteus muscles, thoracic extensors, shoulder stabilizers and external rotators, and upper body pressing muscles.

It is essential that all exercises be performed with strict attention to proper form. There is no reason that you should get injured in the weight-room performing simple exercises with excellent form. Before following any program, get instruction from a qualified personal trainer or coach to make sure you stay healthy and get the most out of your program. I always tell my team that getting strong is a secondary goal to getting healthy. Being a “weight-room hero” doesn’t earn you any honors if you can’t row because you injured yourself lifting with poor form.

WATCH: Free Exercise Index

How to Periodize for the Spring 2k Rower

Remember, assistance work is consistently focused on one of the above two goals (build the lifts, injury prevention) throughout the year, so the intensities and rep ranges listed below are for the main work exercises only unless designated otherwise. While volume may decrease during the late-season taper, assistance work is always focused in the 40-65% intensity range (that is, percentage of your estimated 1-repetition max), for 10-20 reps, on the muscle groups listed above. Diligent attention to attaining muscular balance will go a long way in keeping your body injury-free and enjoying a long career in the sport!

Block #1. General Preparation (12-16 weeks before start of fall season)

Primary focus: Strength

Secondary focus: Muscle Size

Sport focus: Aerobic base

This period sees a lot of weight training in the 70-85% intensity range, approximately 3-6 sets of 6-12 reps per main work exercise. 2-4 weights workouts per week. Add to that 3-4 aerobic workouts per week of 60 minutes or less via whatever cross training method you like, including cycling, erging, sculling, and running. It’s also great to play another sport during this time as that is often an easier way to do “cardio” and still accomplish the goal of cross-training.

Block #2. Specific Preparation (8-10 weeks of fall head racing season)

Primary focus: Strength

Secondary focus: Size

Sport focus: Technique

I consider the fall season an extension of the off-season for the competitive 2k rower. On-water workouts during this time tend to be focused on the 6-10k range, so rowers continue to build their aerobic base while refining their sport technique in the boat. In the weight-room, we use this time to integrate new rowers and continue building the strength and size that will last use through the spring season. Drop to 2-3 weight-training workouts to accommodate for the increase in volume from on-water practice, but keep the workouts much the same as the General Prep phase otherwise, still focused on the 70-85% intensity range for 3-6 sets of 6-12 reps per main work exercise. We spend plenty of time in the Preparation blocks because they build the foundation to set up training for the rest of the year.

Block #3. Pre-Competitive (8-10 weeks of winter, before spring season)

Primary focus: Power

Secondary focus: Strength

Sport focus: Anaerobic base

During this block we focus on applying the strength and size developed in the weight-room to more anaerobic ergometer workouts and more 2k-style training. This is a great time to do some rowing-specific peak power work at higher intensities, whether on the water or on the erg. 3 weight-training workouts per week focusing on the 70-85% range, but using fewer reps to maximize speed and power output. Main work usually consists of 6-8 sets of 2-3 reps performed with maximum explosive intent. This is key–even though the intensity stays the same, the fewer number of reps and maximum explosive intent will help convert your strength gains to power production. This is also the last chance to really build strength before going into the maintenance cycles of the spring competitive season.

READ: Peak Power Training for Rowing

WATCH: What is “Full Explosive Intent”?

Block #4. Competitive I (First 5-6 weeks of spring season, until 2 weeks away from our first major regatta)

Primary focus: Health and Recovery

Secondary focus: Power

Sport Focus: Race Prep

During this time, everything in the weight-room is done with preserving the rowers’ energy for practice in mind. Weight-training workouts again drop to 2 per week, often using the one-heavy/one-light approach. Weight-training volume reduces further, 6-10 sets of 1-3 reps in the 70-85% rep range with full explosive intent. The whole focus is being practice-ready, so I avoid programming any fatigue-heavy training such as higher rep sets (6+ reps) on main work. I also prescribe more active recovery work during this time, such as foam rolling, stretching, and other exercises to help my athletes feel better for the next day. Do not stop weight training when your season begins. This is a mistake I commonly see with many athletes. If you stop training at the start of your competitive season, you are your strongest at the start of the season when it matters least and weakest at the end of your season when it matters most. Do not make this mistake—just learn to adjust your training volume to manage fatigue!

Block #5. Competitive II/Taper (Final 6-8 weeks of spring season, major regattas to conference/Nationals)

Primary focus: Health and Recovery

Secondary focus: Maintain strength through the taper

Sport Focus: Race Readiness

All of our focus is now shifted toward performance at regattas. Weight-training workouts are not fatigue-inducing and are geared entirely toward maintaining our gains from the previous 4 training blocks. During the final 6-8 weeks of the season, we will only do 3-4 workouts above 85% intensity, spaced out such that we maintain strength throughout the season while coming to each important regatta fresh and recovered. I suggest twice per week lifting, usually Monday/Wednesday to maximize their performance for a Saturday regatta. Aside from the 3-4 85% intensity workouts, other lifting sessions are comprised of no more than 8 explosive sets of 1-2 reps in the 60-75% intensity range. Because our rowers train through spring season, we arrive at conference/Nationals just as strong as when we started the season, with the added benefit of removing the fatigue from the rest of the season to peak for our final races. The taperingtaper strategy relies on the concept of Residual Training Effects as outlined in Block Periodization Vs. Traditional Training Theory by Issurin, which suggests that maximal strength can be maintained for 25-30 days. Using this concept, plan for one 85% weight-training session at least once every 3 weeks, planned at a time that does not conflict with a major regatta, and you will maintain your strength through the late spring season.

Immediate post-season (2-4 weeks after last spring race, conference or Nationals)

Mental AND physical rest, recovery, and rejuvenation. Stay active through whatever you enjoy, whether that is ultimate Frisbee, ping-pong, cycling, etc. No structured workouts during this time.

Remember, the purpose of strength training for rowers is to get better at rowing, not necessarily to get bigger biceps or have the strongest bench press in the gym on Bench Press Monday. Following powerlifting, bodybuilding, or non-rowing programs won’t get you to championship weekend, so use these principles above to get stronger and faster in your rowing training!

Untitled Infographic

Exercise Selection for Athletes

Will Ruth

Main Takeaways

1. Embrace and enjoy the process. Be comfortable putting the work in early in the process to reap the rewards later.

2. Make sure your training is appropriate for your sport and your level. A proper training program will address your personal needs and the demands of your sport to make you better at your sport and more durable with injury prevention.

3. Sports training, whether on the field or in the weight-room, is all about mastery. Master the basics before moving on to more complex training methods.

Different athletes of different levels who play different sports require different exercises and different direction in strength training. Sounds like a simple concept, right? And yet, how many athletes are following a program right now designed for someone playing a different sport or even the same sport at a different level? Many high school athletes pick up a program designed for a college or professional player because they look up to that player or want to be at his/her level someday. However, when that player was in high school or had just started training, he/she was likely following a program designed for a player of their age and training experience. Even if a high school lacrosse player did manage to find MLL Pro Paul Rabil’s original high school lacrosse training program, I’d still need convincing that that is the right program for any other HS player to use. 

Continue reading → Exercise Selection for Athletes

Recipes for Strength

Will Ruth

My college transition from 150-pound lightweight rower to 185-pound Strongman wouldn’t have been possible without a lot of big and healthy eating along the way. However, with jobs, school, and practice all to pack into a day, there’s no way you can efficiently cook each meal individually. This is where I discovered bulk cooking–simple, healthy recipes made with minimal prep time and in enough quantity to last through the week. You can do a lot with a slow cooker, oven, big chili pot, and some baking pans. Don’t waste your efforts in the gym or in practice by half-assing it in the kitchen!


All of these meals have a solid amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. I’m a strong believer in a balanced diet being the answer to most nutritional issues and recommend staying away from fad diets. You’ll be surprised at how far diligent attention to basic balanced nutrition will take you. Especially as athletes, reducing caloric intake from one macronutrient in particular can really be detrimental to health and performance. Carbohydrates are essential to an athlete for maintaining energy and fruits and vegetables carry fiber and micronutrients that are essential for health and recovery from training. Fats are necessary for energy and health (like hormone balance). Protein builds muscle. Rather than hop on the latest fad diet by reducing or eliminating completely one of these macronutrients, just focus on getting them from healthy sources.

Carbohydrates: fruits (not fruit juice), vegetables, whole potatoes (not french fries), other starches with fiber (whole wheat bread rather than white bread/bagels/breakfast cereal).

Protein: Meat and eggs, dairy if you can tolerate it. Preferably meat that you could identify on an animal (like a thigh or steak) rather than lunch meats that come from other unidentifiable sources.

Fat: Meat, eggs, dairy, nuts. Avoid the oily greasy fast foods.

Slow-Cooker Meals

  • Shredded Chicken
    • 4+ boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 1 12-oz bottle of hot sauce.
    • Place at least 4 chicken breasts in a large (6-7 quart) slow-cooker. Pour in at least 10 oz of hot sauce to mostly cover the chicken. Cover the slow-cooker and set it to LOW for 4-5 hours. When the chicken shreds easily with two forks, it is done. Enjoy in burritos, tacos, or sandwiches as an easy high-protein meal.
  • Beef Roast
    • 4+ pound beef roast, 1-2 cups of mushrooms, 1-2 cups of carrots, 1 yellow onion, 1 cup of beef stock per pound of roast, salt, pepper.
    • Chop the carrots, mushrooms, and onions. Coat a 4+ pound roast in oil, salt, and pepper while heating up a skillet or cast iron pot. Brown the roast on each side for 2-4 minutes on each side. When roast is browned on all sides, put it in the slow-cooker and cover it with the chopped onions, carrots, and mushrooms. Pour the beef stock over the roast to mostly cover the meat. Cover the slow cooker and set it to LOW for about 5-6 hours. Check to see if the roast is done after 5 hours by slicing into the middle with a knife. Add more time as necessary, then enjoy as a complete meal with bread, rice, and vegetables.
  • Chipotle Beef Barbacoa
    • 5-7 pound beef brisket, 4-6 cups of beef stock, can of 4 chipotle peppers with adobo sauce, 1 red or yellow onion (finely chopped), 1 head of peeled garlic (finely chopped), 2 teaspoons ground cloves, juice of 4 limes, 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar, salt, cayenne pepper (amount up to you), and 1 bunch of cilantro.
    • Blend with a food processor the chipotle peppers, sauce, onion, garlic, salt, lime juice, cilantro, and vinegar, then pour into the slow cooker. Place the brisket on top of this mixture and add the stock to cover the meat. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, or WARM for 10 hours. It will shred easily with two forks after all this time. Shred the meat and then lay it out on a baking sheet (or two if you have a lot). Broil the meat on high for a few minutes until browned. Enjoy in burritos and tacos galore.
  • Will’s Virginia Home Recipe: Southern Style Pulled Pork
    • 4-5 pounds of pork butt or shoulder, 2 white/yellow onions, 1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce, 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, 1 cup of non-alcoholic ginger beer (recommend Reed’s), dry rub mix (store bought or make your own).
    • Chop the onions and place on the bottom of the slow-cooker. Put the pork on top of the onions fatty side UP, add your dry rub and liquid smoke, and pour on the ginger beer. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours. After 8 hours, shred the meat with two forks, drain the extra juices, and add your BBQ sauce (bonus southern points if you take the drained sauce, cook it down in a pan, and then use it as gravy). Cook on LOW for another hour or two. For not as wet/sloppy sandwiches, broil your pork on baking sheets in the oven on HIGH for a few minutes before serving to get that nice crispy brownness on the top. Excellent with some corn bread.

In the Oven

  • Shepherd’s Pie
    • 4 large potatoes, 2 pounds of ground beef or pork, 1 tbsp butter, 1 onion, 5 carrots, 2 cups of frozen peas, 2 cups of mushrooms, 2 cups of shredded cheese.
    • Chop carrots, onions, and mushrooms.
    • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Quarter the potatoes, then add them to the boiling water and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash. Mix in butter and season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside.
    • Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add onion and cook until clear. Add ground beef and cook until well browned. Pour off excess fat.
    • Layer a large baking pan with the meat, then the peas, carrots, and mushrooms, then the mashed potatoes. Top the pan with shredded cheese, then put in the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden brown.
  • Anytime Potatoes
    • 8-12 red or yellow potatoes
    • Cut off the “eyes” or brown nasty bits, but don’t peel them. Chop the potato in half length-wise, then chop each half into bite-sized pieces (generally about 6 pieces per half). Place chopped potatoes into a large mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil, then add salt and pepper (optional: add chopped garlic, rosemary, or steak rub). Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lay potatoes out on baking pans one layer thin (no stacking potatoes) then put in the oven for about 45 minutes. Take the potatoes out when the tops are golden-brown and starting to get crispy.
    • Enjoy as a side dish or, Will’s favorite, as a bed for fried eggs.
  • Chicken Thighs
    • These can be made in a big batch in a bunch of different ways as a great source of proteins and fats to go with any meal
    • 8-10 chicken thighs (skin-on and bone-in) and your choice of: 8-10 chopped cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup soy sauce, taco seasoning, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper
    • Place thighs in a large mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add your spices and let sit while your oven heats up to 375 degrees. Once the oven is heated, put the thighs in one layer in baking pans (no stacking the thighs, they won’t cook evenly) skin side up and cook. Check after 45 minutes. The skin on top should be golden brown and crispy. Cut into one and make sure it’s cooked all the way before you take them out.
  • Crispy Chicken Wings
    • 5+ pounds of chicken wings, favorite hot sauce, olive oil.
    • Put the wings in a big mixing bowl. Drizzle with oil and as much hot sauce as you can take. Sprinkle on some cayenne too if you like them really hot. Put the wings in the oven on 450 for 25 minutes per side. Get the oven fan going, because it’s going to get smoky! The hot temperature is what makes them crispy. Take them out of the oven when the skins are browned and crispy and enjoy!
    • Option B: Same process, but marinate the wings the night before with 2 chopped jalapeno peppers, 3 chopped garlic cloves, 2 tbsp fish sauce, 1/2 cup lime juice, and ground pepper and/or cayenne. Chili lime wings! Don’t marinate for longer than 10 hours or the lime juice will make the wings soggy.
  • Omelet Bites
    • Muffin tin, 10 eggs, 8oz chopped cooked meat (chicken, chicken sausage, ham, etc.), 12 slices of bacon (turkey or pork), 2 cups spinach, 1 cup chopped red pepper, 1 cup chopped onion.
    • Preheat oven to 400, then bake the bacon on a flat baking sheet covered in foil until just underdone, approximately 10-15 minutes. It is important to slightly undercook the bacon so it doesn’t get crispy. While the bacon bakes, scramble the eggs in a large bowl and chop the meat and vegetables into small cubes. When the bacon is finished, remove it and line it around the individual oiled muffin tins. Add the meat and vegetables to the muffin tins, distributing evenly, then pour the scrambled eggs in to fill the tin the rest of the way. Return the muffin tin to the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until egg is cooked. They should come out looking something like this!
  • Easy Wholebody Chicken
    • 1 whole chicken, olive oil, chili powder or fajita seasoning. Must use cast iron pan at least 2″ deep, don’t try this with a non-stick or shallow pan. You also need a meat thermometer and a good oven mitt/potholder.
    • Place your cast iron pan in the oven and turn it to 500 degrees. Disable the smoke alarm and turn on the fans, it’s gonne get smokey. Just don’t forget to re-install! While your pan is heating in the oven, rinse the chicken in cold water and remove the giblets. Pat it dry and place it on a plate or deep bowl to add the oil and seasoning. Cover it lightly with olive oil and chili powder, fajita seasoning, or just salt and pepper if you’d prefer. When the oven is heated, carefully remove the pan and add the chicken, **breast side down.** It should instantly sear a bit when it contacts the hot pan. Put it back in the oven at 500 for 10-15 minutes, or until the top of the chicken is golden brown. Turn the oven down to 375 and leave it for 25-40 minutes, depending on the size of the bird. Check it periodically after 25 minutes by sticking the meat thermometer in the thigh. When the internal temperature reaches 155-165 degrees, remove the chicken and pan from the oven, turn off the oven, and re-install your smoke detector. Let the chicken set for a while in the cast iron pan on the stovetop, then enjoy!

On the Stove

  • Strongman Chili
    • 2 pounds ground beef, 1 pound ground pork, 3 15-oz chili beans (drained), 1 15-oz chili beans in spicy sauce, 2 28-oz diced tomatoes with juice, 1 6-oz can of tomato paste, 1 large onion, 1 green bell pepper, 1 red bell pepper, 2 jalapeno peppers (core/stem removed), 12 slices of bacon (chopped into small bits), 4 cubes beef bouillon, 1/4 cup chili powder, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 6 gloves of garlic, 1 tbsp dried oregano, 2 tbsp hot sauce, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp salt, black pepper to taste, 1 tsp cayenne pepper.
    • Heat oil in a large pot. Brown the beef, pork, and chopped bacon.
    • Pour in the chili beans, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the onion, celery, green and red bell peppers, chile peppers, bacon bits, and bouillon. Season with chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, oregano, hot pepper sauce, basil, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Stir to blend, then cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add salt, pepper, hot sauce, and cayenne to taste depending on how hot you like it.
  • The (Pasta) Sauce is the Boss
    • 3-4lbs of ground meat (sausage, beef, chicken, and/or turkey), 2-3 15-oz cans crushed tomatoes, 1 6-oz can of tomato paste, 1 onion, 2 red bell peppers. Optional: mushrooms, garlic, kalmata olives, crushed red pepper, basil, rosemary.
    • Heat oil in a large pot. Brown the meat then set aside. Cook the onions until they’re soft and slightly browned on the outside, then add the bell peppers, optional mushrooms and garlic. Cook until slightly soft. Add the meat back into your pot and pour in the crushed tomatoes (add it all, don’t drain the liquid out). Turn pot down to simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes. Add your spices—approximately 2tbsp of basil, 1 2tbsp rosemary, crushed red pepper and garlic powder to taste. Add your olives here as well if you like. Enjoy by itself as a protein-packed meal or over pasta or a baked potato. Think of it as Italian chili!
  • Southwest Chicken Skillet
    • 2 cups shredded chicken (from the slow-cooked section!), 1 cup DRY rice, 1.5 cup canned beans, 1 cup water, 1 cup salsa, 2 tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp chicken bouillon (or sub 1 cup water for 1 cup chicken broth)
    • OPTIONAL: Cheese, hot sauce, pickled jalapenos
    • Combine all ingredients in a deep (at least 2″) cast-iron skillet and stir to mix everything together. Cover and bring the skillet to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn down to simmer. Stir occasionally to keep the rice from sticking to the skillet. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until rice is cooked and excess liquid is absorbed. Add cheese and hot sauce if you want. This can also be made with cooked ground meat. I’ll also sometimes add some chopped kale about 5 minutes before the skillet is done.
  • Wholebody Chicken Soup
    • 1 whole chicken body, 4-5 carrots, 1 onion, 4-5 sticks celery, garlic, salt/pepper/red pepper flakes.
    • Rinse the chicken in cold water and remove the giblets. Put the chicken in a large stock pot and cover with water by an inch or two, then turn on high to boil. While the pot is boiling, chop half the carrots, half the celery, and all the onion and garlic and add it to the pot. When the pot boils, turn it down to low and simmer for 30-45 minutes. Chicken is done when a leg pulls off easily. Turn off the stove, remove the chicken from the pot, and set it aside to cool. Add the rest of your carrots and celery to the pot. Shred the chicken with your hands when it’s cool and add it back to the pot. You can really scour it and get all the meat off the bones here. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy over rice, noodles, or by itself.


  • Thai Peanut Sauce
    • 1/2 cup soy sauce
    • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
    • 1/2 cup toasted sesame oil
    • 1/4 tsp roasted red chili paste
    • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
    • 4 tbsp peanut butter
    • squirt of Sriracha sauce to taste
    • garlic to taste (I like mine with 5-6 cloves)
    • juice of half lime
    • Combine all ingredients and blend. Use a food processor or immersion blender. Add more peanut butter if you like it thicker, more rice vinegar and lime juice if you like it tangier, and more Sriracha if you want it spicier. I use this by itself on meat or in a salad (chicken, spinach, red peppers, sauce) or as flavoring for fried rice.