Category: lifting


How to Get “In Shape” in 2023 (myth-busting and info about how to design your own fitness program)

How to make 2023 your year

Well, 2023 is here, the new year has arrived and if you’re like many people, getting in shape nears the top of your new years resolution list.  Also if you’re like many people, its appeared at the top of your list before but remains and unchecked box on your new years check list.

eating healthy and exercising are consistently near the top of people's new year's resolutions
credit Statista

This year is going to be different though because I’m going to point you in the right direction.  Will this be a step by step plan?  Well sorta, but more like general guidelines that if you follow you can do great.

First, let’s set a couple things straight.  A common mistake people try to do is “spot reduce” problem areas.  A common example of this would be doing a bunch of ab exercises in an attempt to burn belly fat.  Unfortunately it doesn’t really work that way so don’t do it.

Fortunately though you can spot enhance muscle development.  Meaning you can do more curls to improve your biceps, or do heavier hip thrusts to build your glutes (the butt muscle).

So in order to get that the sought after lean, sculpted athletic appearance you should

  1. Develop the muscle in order to create toned muscle. (Through training)
  2. Get lean enough so the muscle won’t be covered up. (Through nutrition)

In reality, when people say that they want to be toned, what they’re actually looking for is building muscle and burning fat, just not to the extreme levels of body builders.

Now in order for this to happen, you’ll need to get leaner by taking control of your nutrition.  The nutrition needs to do a couple things simultaneously.  It needs to create a caloric deficit while simultaneously providing enough of the good stuff to rebuild your muscles while building health.  I have plans for this, and I also have nutritionists, dietitians and functional medicine doctors in my network to help out when the big guns are needed.

With the nutrition in place, we’ll train for performance across a variety of exercises that hit the main movements categories.

At the base level for lifting, this would be:

  1. Upper body push (examples would be bench press, military press etc)
  2. Upper body pull (examples would be rowing, chin ups and lat pull downs etc.)
  3. Hip dominant (examples would be hip thrusts, deadlifts, kettlebell swings etc.)
  4. Knee dominant (examples could be barbell squats, goblet squats, front foot elevated split squats etc.)

Training those 4 key lifting movements will train all the muscles involved with them.  As an example in the overhead press, you’re hitting shoulders, upper pecs, triceps, glutes, abs and many others.  Getting the 4 main categories will ensure you’re making effective time of training and hitting the major muscle groups along with everything in between and ensures balance.

Now, with those 4 in place we would strive to get stronger across all of them.  Why train for performance?  Well generally that produces better results, and better enthusiasm for training.  When you are training simply for aesthetics it’s hard to quantify results.  Even supermodels have things about themselves they don’t like.

Meanwhile, doing more weight than you ever had before and repping out with it is easy to compare.  Numbers are numbers after all.

Taking a bench press with a weight that someone could only do once at the beginning of a 12 week cycle and being able to do it for an easy “ish” set of 10 at the end of the cycle is an obvious improvement. In addition to that the best way to improve someones physique is to improve their max strength and do reps with it.

Strength has its own benefits too, like walking around with the “I got this” mindset and strength carries over to life in general, like throwing around your kids, drumming all night long, lifting critical care patients (one of my clients is a paramedic), martial arts, playing pickle ball or just having the physical capacity to do whatever makes you happy.  Life isn’t meant to be observed from a chair.  Life is for living, and it’s better when you have the physical capabilities to live it to its fullest.

picture taken of Jana on a recent vacation
Jana had this pic taken on vacation…enjoying her life with the lean, fit, strong physique she earned through training at Eric Moss Fitness

Now, with the basic lifting movements in place you would apply a strategy of progressive overload. As in over time you add either more weight, more reps or ideally both.  Like I said and it bares repeating the best way to improve your physique is to improve your max strength for reps.  Keep in mind, it’s not going to be every session.  It’s going to be over time.

With my personal training clients, after I’ve screened them to see what we can safely do, I come up with some exercises in the categories listed above, establish what their current capabilities are so I can get an idea of where I can start them to progress them optimally.

Then we start below their capabilities and expand outward until we sneak past their previous limits without them even realizing it.

Applying these strategies works for both men and women, younger or more life experienced.  

I’ve applied this to regular people that just want to look better, perform better and feel better about themselves. I’ve applied it to athletes.  I’ve applied it to nerds (their words not mine). I’ve applied it to touring musicians that needed to improve their capacity so they don’t lose a step.  And I’ve applied it to national beauty contest winners who went on to go the distance at the international level (making history by being the only one representing Team USA to not only place but to come in 2nd)

Mr. Gay World USA 2022 Tony Ardolino showing the physique he built at Eric Moss Fitness in Boonton
Mr. Gay World USA 2022 Tony Ardolino showing South Africa toned physique he built at Eric Moss Fitness in Boonton

It works for them, it’ll work for you too.

So let’s recap with a couple key elements.  Get a nutrition plan that simultaneously burns the fat that covers your physique while providing the building blocks for muscle and health.  Get a plan that covers the 4 main lifting movement categories and have a strategy of progressive overload to maximize your strength for reps.  If you do it right you can have that body you’ve been dreaming about for the past couple years and depending on where you’re starting from you can get it before summer.  Just have a look at some of my success stories and see how they did.

If you need help with this, I have a free trial at my personal training studio in Boonton. Just text me at 973 476 5328 to get started.

Eric Moss is a personal trainer in Boonton and moonlights as a world-record-holding modern-day professional performing strongman, author, and motivational speaker. In the tradition of the strongmen more common during the turn of the century, he performs feats of strength such as bending steel and breaking chains as part of a live show and speaks on goal achievement for corporations, associations, nonprofits, and government entities as well as for schools and universities. His personal training studio is located on Main Street in Boonton New Jersey and is close to Mountain Lakes, Denville, Montville, Butler, and Parsippany New Jersey.

Stop Giving up before Getting Started

The other day I was having a conversation with one of my personal training clients.  She was getting stronger, losing body fat and basically all the things that personal trainers typically put into the bullet points of the ad copy on their website and flyers.  She’s a hard worker, she works two jobs, she consistently comes in, she puts in the effort, and it’s paying off.  Do the right things, and the right things happen.  

When the right things happen, people start to notice. When people start to notice, they often give compliments and ask questions about “How?”

And when they hear how, they often give up before getting started. 

As she was explaining the training and the nutrition philosophy (slow carb diet, google it…but do it after you finish reading this) they might say things like “Oh I could never give up bread”….or pasta or insert whatever beloved food you enjoy eating that prevents you from reaching your health and fitness goals. And btw, she LOVES doughnuts but understands how delayed gratification will benefit her in the long run.

They are giving up, before getting started.  They are letting the perceived discomfort of what it takes to achieve the goal beat them into submission.  And it’s a shame because giving something up temporarily is not that difficult.  In the case of the slow carb diet, one day a week you can have anything you want, so in essence, you only have to save it for Saturday (the recommended go nuts day).


The thing is when you are committed, truly committed you don’t let anything stop you.  You come into it with the mentality of “I’m going to make this happen” and then simply do so.   As my first strongman mentor the late, great New Jersey’s Superman Greg Matonick used to say “Set your mind on what you’re doing.” and then simply do the things necessary to make what’s on your mind into a reality. My current strongman coach Hairculese Chris Rider would say the same thing.

My personal training studio is exclusive, it’s not because I’m some elitist type person on my high horse trying to put a metaphorical velvet rope to keep the peasants out.  It’s because, among other things, I ask people to rate their level of commitment on a scale from 1-10.  If it’s less than the number I’m looking for, it tells me they are not willing to do the things I ask, which is the actions it takes to make their goal a reality.  If they aren’t willing to do that, then they have no business being in my studio and distracting me from my other personal training clients.  It doesn’t matter how much money they are willing to spend if they are stingy with their sweat equity.

You’ve got to be willing to do the things that are in your best interest.  If you are committed but simply don’t know what those things are and are willing to be held accountable to your actions, I’d be happy to teach you. And the guidance, support and accountability I provide work…plain and simple.

Try it out yourself with the personal training trial membership in the small group supportive environment of my studio. Get started by texting me at 973 476 5328 to schedule your session.

Eric Moss is a world record holding professional strongman, author, speaker and personal trainer. In the tradition of the strongmen during the turn of the century, he performs feats of strength such as bending steel and breaking chains as part of a show and speaks on goal achievement for corporations, nonprofits, government as well as for schools and universities. His exclusive personal training studio is in Boonton Township New Jersey with Lewandowski Chiropractic and is close to Mountain Lakes, Denville, and Parsippany New Jersey.

Myths about Health, Strength and Fitness

One of the myths about working for yourself is that you have tons and tons of freedom.  Not really.  Your schedule goes where the market goes and you’re always at work because you don’t really leave it behind. 

In the back of my mind, I plan out new feats of strength.  I got the idea for my “Strongman in the Box” feat by watching an escape artist a year or two ago when my wife took me to see the Illusionists 1903 show.  It also dominates my mind everytime I go to Home Depot.  With every bit of hardware I see I think to myself “Can I break it? and if so, would it be cool in a show?”

Strongman in the Box, I’m trapped inside of a wooden box constructed of 2×4’s and held shut with locks and chains. The only way out is using my strength and breaking out.

I also have a hard time leaving the personal trainer in me at home.  A week or two ago, I was out with my wife and daughter and overheard a conversation about training and had to bite my tongue. I’ve been a personal trainer for around 15 years now, I’ve distinguished myself and was asked to teach at personal training certification courses nationally and internationally, given advice to celebrity trainers, trained people that were on MTV and am a world record holding professional performing strongman.  Basically, I know a thing or two about training. They already know this but I kept quiet because I knew that even if I explained in detail, they simply wouldn’t be ready to hear it.

If you are open minded, keep reading 🙂


“Strength training makes you inflexible.”

Nope.   Here’s the deal.  Your strength and your flexibility aren’t really about the muscles themselves.  Both of them are regulated by the central nervous system.

Just like this gif illustration shows the central nervous system telling the muscle fibers to “contract”, it can also tell them to “relax” into a longer length. They are like a yin and yang of each other.  Your muscle fibers are already long enough to perform full splits and things that contortionists do, but what stops them is that your central nervous system doesn’t perceive what you are doing as being safe and hence puts the breaks on.  Your nervous system remembers the positions you are in habitually (if you don’t use it you lose it). With regular strength training, alongside regular flexibility training, you don’t have to rob Peter to pay Paul.


“You need to do lots of different stuff”

Nope, variety in training is overrated.  Everything you do, competes with every other thing you do for growth and adaptation.  The jack of all trades is the master of none.  The high bang for the buck exercises will carry over to the things you don’t regularly train (we call this transfer and it’s the reason athletes have strength and conditioning coaches and not just skill coaches).  Doing heavy deadlifts, transfers to making you better at most things.

Myth, kind of

“You don’t need to lift more than 5lbs”

Technically, yes.  You need food, water, air, and to a certain extent human connection.  You don’t need to lift more than 5lbs to survive…but why just survive when you can thrive?  Thriving is partially about growth, improvement, and expansion.  If you want to change your body, you need to challenge your body.  You need to do something that tells your body “Hey, we need to get stronger so that we are better equipped to handle this (the stimulus) in the future”.  And strength carries over to multiple goals.  Using weight loss as an example, heavier weights burn more calories than lighter weights.  They also deplete more glycogen and tell your body to release more of those hormones that keep you lean.  You don’t “need” to get stronger, but you “should” get stronger if you want to improve yourself.

I also find that many people come to me for weight loss, and they lose weight but are more excited about the all-purpose strength they gained training with me.  And as Mark Rippetoe famously said;

Strong people are harder to kill and more useful in general

If you need help with this, I have a one-week trial membership available.  Text me at 973 476 5328 to get started.

Eric Moss is a world record holding professional strongman, author, speaker and personal trainer. In the tradition of the strongmen during the turn of the century, he performs feats of strength such as bending steel and breaking chains as part of a show and speaks on goal achievement for corporations, nonprofits, government as well as for schools and universities. His exclusive personal training studio is in Boonton Township New Jersey with Lewandowski Chiropractic and is close to Mountain Lakes, Denville, and Parsippany New Jersey.