Friday, December 30, 2016

New Year, New You!

Two years ago, Alicia Krahe could not have imagined the woman that she is today.  She’s lost 70 pounds and become a personal trainer to help others reach their fitness goals. "I knew I needed to change something.  My attitude was what needed to change first.  The biggest hurdle was believing something that I never thought possible. “
In 2016, Alicia signed up for her first Barber Beast on the Bay.  “I wanted to do the Beast to prove to myself that I could do this.”
Hear Alicia describe her journey to better health and fitness – a journey that everyone can make as they find their own “New Year, New You.” Sign up for the Beast at

Thursday, August 18, 2016

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Obstacle Reveal

Down and Out
You'll be crawling under logs and through sand trenches to get to the other side in this challenging obstacle!

Walk the Plank 
Looks deceive on this one! The plank doesn't stay still, making it harder for each person to walk across. One blog exclusive tip: Turn your feet inward as you walk for extra stability.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Blog Exclusive Obstacle Reveal

One Bell of a Start
Participants will begin the course by running out to the North Pier and scale a wall equipped with a small ledge and protruding pegs to ring a bell, signaling that they have completed their first obstacle.

 This one has special meaning, as our students helped design the look of the obstacle! We've gotta give them a hand -- it looks pretty good, right? 

Hit The Deck
Time to get down and dirty. Stay low, and try to crawl as fast as you can to make it out of the fabricated barbed wire jungle.

Friday, July 15, 2016

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Obstacle Reveals

Solider On

This obstacle was built by the Army National Guard will make you feel like you’re in basic training! Participants climb up one side of the trusses and head back down the other side. Doing one is just too easy so to complete this obstacle you have to go over three! 

Marsh Madness

Thought the Beast was an easy sand run?  It sounds easy, until you have to do it through the Phragmites--the muddiest, muckiest part of the park. I wouldn’t recommend wearing your new shoes for the day of the event. 

Friday, July 8, 2016


Tire Slalom
Unfortunately we can’t incorporate a skiing slalom due to the weather  so this obstacle is the next best thing! Participants will have to weave between sticks with large truck tires in a zig-zag pattern. You’ll go to the end of the obstacles and then come back to return the tire before being able to move on. Different size tires will be provided. 

Double Duty Pipe Roll   
Participants will have to get down and dirty as they crawl through a 20 ft. black industrial pipes. Four rows will be set up but you’ll only have to crawl through one. That was easy right? Not so fast. Once you get out of the pipe you’ll have to run around and hurdle over the four pipes to complete the obstacle. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Proper Nutrition for the Beast

      Proper nutrition is essential to any training program. You will need to adequately prepare with food before you work out, during your workout, and after your workout for recovery. By breaking your sessions down into durations, you can plan your pre-workout meals more easily and effectively.  Your nutrition plan should be measured by the amount of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) you consume. Along with macronutrients, are micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), electrolytes (sodium and potassium), and water. We’ll start with carbs and work our way to hydration.
     Carbs are the primary source of energy for endurance activities and should be the focus of your diet when your workouts are at least an hour in duration.  Carbs are broken down into glucose during digestion and then stored in the form of glycogen in your muscles and liver. It is the broken down form of carbs that is most important for your training session and should be consumed the day prior. Here’s a list of healthy carbohydrate sources:
Whole Grain/Wheat Breads
Sweet Potatoes
Brown Rice
Fruits (bananas, blueberries)
Whole Wheat or Gluten-Free Pasta (quinoa, brown rice)

     The following table can be used as a guide for determining grams of carbs you should consume the day before a training session. If you’re running more than 8 miles, you should consume a simple sugar (gel, GU chomp, gummi bears) during your run every 45-60 minutes. Water intake should be before you feel thirsty (8 ounces) and taken regularly (10-30 minutes) throughout the session.


     Healthy fats are next on the list of importance for endurance activities. Fats can be divided into groups of saturated (animal fat, and tropical oils like coconut), monounsaturated (olive oil, and peanuts), and polyunsaturated (soy, corn, sunflower, and safflower oils). Fats should constitute between 20% and 35% of the total calories consumed per day, with less than 10% coming from saturated fat sources. If your daily fat consumption is below 15%, you may experience a decrease in metabolic rate and muscle development. Here’s a list of foods consisting of healthy fats:

Peanut Butter
Coconut Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Safflower Oil
Sunflower Seeds
Almond Butter

     Protein is imperative for muscle development and preservation. Daily recommended intake for protein ranges from 0.8 g/kg – 2.0 g/kg of body weight, depending on activity level of the individual. The key is to start at the low range of the spectrum, see how your body responds for a couple weeks and then increase gradually. Here’s a list of healthy protein sources:

Sirloin Steak
Ground Turkey 94%-99% Lean
Tofu or Tempeh
Protein Powders (Whey, Casein,
Split-Pea, Brown Rice)
Fish (Salmon, Tilapia, White Fish)
Shellfish (Shrimp, Crab, Scallops)

     Water intake for men should be at least 3.7 L/day and 2.7/day for women. I recommend drinking up to a quart of water before you go to sleep and up to a quart as soon as you wake up. Electrolyte consumption should be 2 – 4 g/day for sodium, and 2 – 4 g/day for potassium. Coconut water has 18% of your daily potassium requirements and bananas have 14%. Drink 1 pint of water for every pound of weight lost during your session for fluid replacement. Every body is different, so it’s important to transition gradually into any nutrition program.  

Thursday, June 2, 2016


     Plyometric exercise refers to quick, powerful movements, using both the natural elastic components of muscle and tendon, and the stretch reflex. By integrating plyometrics into your training program, you will enhance your ability to successfully complete the obstacles in the Beast on the Bay. You will be jumping up and over obstacles, which will then require you to safely land on the other side. In order to safely perform these movements, you need to be adept with takeoffs and landings in a training setting. So, I’ve put together a number of warm-up drills and exercises that will address these skills. The following table consists of examples of plyometric warm-up drills.

Mimics running movements
Emphasizes posture and movement technique
Toe Jogging
Heel doesn’t touch ground
Straight-Leg Jogging
Minimize knee bending
Allow heels to reach glutes
Emphasis on quick takeoff and landing
May be multidirectional (forward, back, side, diagonal)

Plyometric Exercises for the Lower Body
Jumps in Place
Jumping and landing in the same spot without resting between jumps
Emphasis on vertical component
Standing Jumps
Emphasis on vertical and horizontal component
Maximal effort with rest between jumps
Multiple Hops and Jumps
Emphasis on horizontal component
May form a zigzag
Multidirectional movement
May be single-leg or double-leg
Box Drills
Jumping on the box or stepping off and landing
May be single-leg, double-leg, or alternating legs
Depth Jumps
Emphasis on landing, then immediately jumping vertically, horizontally, or onto another box
May be single-leg or double-leg

     To establish a plyometric training regimen, we have to address frequency, recovery, volume, program length, and progression. Frequency refers to the number of training sessions per week and can range from 1-3, with 48-72 hours between sessions. Due to the nature of plyometrics requiring maximal effort to improve anaerobic power, it is imperative to have adequate recovery between repetitions and sets. For example, recovery for depth jumps may be 5-10 seconds between repetitions and 2-3 minutes between sets. Work-to-rest ratios are a great way to determine recovery time between sets. Ratios of 1:5 to 1:10 are common for plyometric training. So, if the drill requires 30 seconds of work, you should rest anywhere from 2 ½ -5 minutes until you perform another set. Training volume refers to sets and repetitions per workout session and is expressed as foot contacts on a surface, or distance covered.

Plyometric Experience
Volume in Contacts Per Session
Beginner (no experience)
80 – 100
Intermediate (some experience)
100 – 120
Advanced (considerable experience)
120 - 140

     The length of your plyometric program should range from 6-10 weeks, which gives you plenty of time between now and the Beast on the Bay. Throughout your program, you should be increasing training frequency, volume, and intensity by way of progressive overload. As intensity increases, volume decreases. Reassess these aspects of your program every 2-3 weeks, to ensure that you are improving either the number of foot contacts, or distance covered per session. I know that you will enhance your performance in the Beast on the Bay by employing the drills and exercises I’ve listed. Please contact me with any questions.  


Friday, May 20, 2016

A Few of Our Favorite Obstacles

                Look, we love all our obstacles. All of them. If you ask us to pick a favorite, we might say that they’re a lot like children – you just can’t pick a favorite! Luckily for us, obstacles aren’t children, and for the sake of your entertainment we’re willing to pick a few of our favorites. We’re a selfless bunch here at the Barber Beast on the Bay. Let’s start the list.

                5. GET LOCO – It’s a Barber Beast on the Bay classic! GET LOCO is back once again. For those who haven’t done it, you’ll have to scale across a narrow ledge to cross as water cascades down over you.

                Why we like it: Well, one, it’s a fan favorite. After each year, there’s always plenty of track-tion (train puns, you like that?) to bring the locomotive back. Plus, it’s kind of like a metaphor for life: You do your best and just try making your way across as you’re constantly dumped on. Just a joke!

                4. Marsh Madness – It’s the newest name for our Phragmite run, and it’s scary! No 16-seed upsets here, as it’s just you against the mucky, messy mud that Presque Isle has to offer.

                Why we like it: Look, this is a family-friendly blog and we keep it clean, but it’s OK to get dirty once in a while, right? If that’s the case, the Phragmites are going to get you filthy!

                3. No Monkeying Around – Remember when you were a kid on the playground and you ran out for recess and a line formed for the monkey bars? Maybe, maybe not, but this is sort of what that’s like. Everyone will be climbing their way across a set of monkey bars to get to the other side.

                Why we like it: They’re monkey bars! It tests your upper body strength and you get to swing around as you do them. What’s not fun about that?! Just imagine you’re King Kong and you’re swinging from building to building. Make some monkey noises while you’re at it. It’s fun!

                2. Wave Goodbye -- We wrap up the Beast on the Bay with a dip in Waldameer’s wonderful Wave Pool! Battle through four-foot waves and climb out the other end to get one step away from successfully slaying the Beast.

                Why we like it: It’s a great way to cool yourself down. If we have a warm day, you’re going to be hot and sweaty. Wouldn’t a nice, cool wave pool feel good? We thought so.

                1. Triangles of Terror --  Speed is a factor in this obstacle where participants will leap from alternating triangles without touching the ground.

                Why we like it: We’re borrowing from American Ninja Warrior with this one, and we think it’s pretty exciting! Make sure to go quickly as you leap from triangle to triangle! 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Aerobic Endurance Training

Beast on the Bay Blog: Aerobic Endurance Training

     The majority (≥ 6 miles) of the Beast on the Bay will be on the beach, which is completely different than running on pavement. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the hips and legs will be utilized in ways you may not have used them before. So, it is imperative that you begin running on the beach at least once a week, for a minimum of 1 mile, progressing to 4 miles by the end of your training. Your gait should be more of a shuffling stride when running on the beach, due to the instability of the sand. There will also be trails through the wooded areas of the peninsula, as well as stretches of ankle-deep mud through the reeds. If you live in the Erie area, I highly recommend the Brown’s Farm course, as well as the trails of Asbury Woods for familiarizing yourself to uneven terrain.

      The Beast on the Bay requires a combination of energy systems from its participants and thus, must be implemented in a training program. The types of aerobic training programs are as follows:

1. Long, Slow Distance Training (LSD)
      LSD training is also known as “conversation exercise”, because you should be running at a pace that is conducive to being able to carry on a conversation with someone. The physiological benefits of this type of training include enhanced cardiovascular and thermoregulatory function, improved oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle, and increased ability in using fat as a fuel. Too much of this training may be disadvantageous to competition, due to the lower intensity.

2. Pace/Tempo Training
     This type of training is also known as “threshold training” or “aerobic/anaerobic interval training” and should be at race competition intensity or slightly higher. You can perform this program in two different ways, steady and/or intermittent. Steady pace/tempo training is continuous for approximately 20-30 minutes at an intensity that is slightly above race pace. Intermittent pace/tempo training is referred to as “tempo intervals”, since is consists of shorter bouts of exercise with small recovery periods between intervals. In both programs, if the workout seems fairly easy, it’s better to increase the distance, rather than the intensity.

3. Interval Training
     This type of training enables you to work at intensities close to VO2max for a longer duration than would be possible at a continuous high intensity. The work intervals can be as short as 30 seconds, but preferably between 3 and 5 minutes. It’s imperative that you have already established a solid base of aerobic endurance training prior to performing an interval program. 

4. Repetition Training
      It should be performed at intensities greater than VO2max, with the work intervals lasting from 30-90 seconds. This program relies heavily on anaerobic metabolism, so you will need ample time to recover between bouts. With this program, you can expect to acquire greater running speed, enhanced running economy, and improved tolerance of anaerobic metabolism. It’s also beneficial for the final stretch of an aerobic event, when you really want to give your all.

5. Fartlek Training
     This is a combination of the four other types of training previously discussed. It calls upon basically all systems of the body and helps in changing up your daily training, by reducing the monotony of your workouts. It may enhance VO2max and lactate threshold, while improving running economy and fuel utilization.

     I recommend employing a mix of these types of aerobic endurance training programs. The Beast on the Bay is an endurance event based on its distance of 10 miles, so you will want to be able to cover at least 5 miles in one bout. The distance between obstacles will require you to run the durations found in pace/tempo workouts. The concept of the Beast is based on interval training, since it’s structured with running and intermittent bouts of anaerobic exertion. The physiological benefits of repetition training bode well for enhancing your performance in the Beast and there will be elevation changes in the sand, so the fartlek program including hills, would be beneficial. The following, is a table with the basic principles of each training program. As always, please feel free to ask me any questions. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Debunking Training Myths

     It’s one of the most profitable, expansive businesses in the world today – fitness. Everybody wants to get fit and everybody wants to look their best. But with so much information out there, what are some of the best strategies? Eat heavy, train heavy? Eat light and do lots of cardio? What’s your diet, what are your goals, what are you aiming for? It can all be confusing. And with a myriad of myths and a gaggle of gurus, who and what can you trust? If you read that standing on your head and eating grapefruit burned extra calories, would you do it? (Maybe!)

      For your fitness road to the Beast, we have Dave Hopkins, fitness extraordinaire from LECOM Fitness and Wellness Center giving you tips and exercises along the way. But, naturally, Dave can’t cover everything, and that’s where we’ll come in. We’ll pick up some of the smaller details – what shoes to wear, what kind of foods we’ll have available on race day and what you should eat, obstacles reveals, and more! This week we’ll debunk a few fitness myths that are total bunk.

     Myth #1: You can ‘crunch’ your way to great abs.  So you want to wear your crop top to the Beast on the Bay but you’re currently rocking a muffin top? We could have a conversation about body image and why it’s so important to love yourself and what you have to offer (it really is!), but that’s a topic for another day. If you’re looking to improve on your abs before race day, don’t go with crunches – or at least don’t expect crunches to do the job alone. While they’ll help abs that are already showing, they won’t eliminate fat because you can’t spot eliminate fat. Exercises like squats and deadlifts and cardio, along with a stricter diet, are ways to begin eliminating fats and see the results you want.

   Myth #2: Cardio is the only thing you’ll need to focus on for the Beast. You hear ’10 miles’ and you panic – how can I run 10 miles? Not to add to your stress, but you’re also going to be doing 20+ obstacles. Aaaah! It sounds scary, but let’s break this down. Yes, cardio is important, but remember that you can handle the Beast at your own pace. If you need to skip an obstacle, skip it. If you’d like to walk or jog or moonwalk it, do it. The cardio is important, but don’t act like you have to be able to sprint 10 miles or you’re going to fail. Work in some strength training and endurance to make sure you can handle the obstacles that you want to take on. And, the more energy you have to take on those obstacles, the better you’ll do.

      Myth #3: You should focus so much on the fitness element of the Beast that you forget to have fun. OK, OK, this isn’t a widespread fitness myth, per se, but it needs said. This is a fun event for a great cause. You’ll be helping children and adults with disabilities by participating in the course on September 10. Isn’t that awesome? What’s a little running in the sand and a few obstacles if it means helping the cause? Get your family involved, get your friends involved, get your neighbors involved. Help us help others and have a great time while doing it! Make a team, train together. Build endurance but also build memories.

     A reminder that our April sign-up promotion ends at the end of April. Imagine that? When your friend registers, they'll get a drop-down menu that asks how they heard about the event. They select "A Friend," fill in your name, and you're both entered. Learn more:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Upper Body Muscle Groups and How to Work Them

     The majority of the obstacles in the Beast on the Bay require the use of upper body muscle groups, especially those involved in pulling movements (back and biceps). Grip strength is a key factor in any pulling movement, which involves the flexors of the forearm. Your grip strength comes into play when you’re climbing cargo nets and walls, traversing monkey bars, carrying sand bags and buckets of water. To a lesser extent of successfully completing the obstacles, are the muscles involved in pushing movements (chest, shoulders and triceps). You will spend more of your time pulling yourself up, across, and through obstacles, than you will spend pushing your way through them. However, it is imperative that you create a balance between opposing muscle groups. So, be sure to exercise both pushing and pulling muscle groups equally.
     The core is often misrepresented as only referring to your abdominals, but it actually refers to all muscles in your torso. We call it the core because it is where all ambulatory movement originates. More specifically, it is the culmination of these muscles working together, while stabilizing the entire body, regardless of the muscle action being performed. Every obstacle will require the use of core strength, regardless of the upper body muscle group you are using. Crawling through pipes and under cargo netting is simulated by performing plank walks with sliders. Farmer walks with a kettlebell in the suitcase position, is similar to carrying a bucket of water. In both of these scenarios, you’re using your torso to stabilize the rest of your body in completing the movement.
     Here’s a list of exercises divided into groups of push, pull, and core movements:

Chest Press w/ Dumbbells
Plank Walk w/ Sliders
Chest Fly w/ Cables
Dumbbell Row
Kneeling Wood Chop
Incline Chest Press w/ Dumbbells
Seated High Row
Standing Low-High Wood Chop
Decline Chest Press                      w/ Dumbbells
Standing T-Bar Row
Step-Up w/ Low-High              Wood Chop
Shoulder Press w/ Dumbbells
Close-Grip Pulldown
Standing Torso Twist w/ Cables
Front Shoulder Raise
Bent-Over Row
Straight-Arm Pulldown
Lateral Raise
Single-arm Pulldown
Rope Crunch w/ Stability Ball
Upright Row
Single-arm Seated Row
Kneeling Rope Crunch
Standing Shoulder Press
Bicep Curl w/ Rotation
Body Saws w/ Sliders
Tricep Press
Hammer Curls
Kettlebell Windmill
Single-arm Tricep Press
Spider Curls
Farmer Walk w/ Kettlebells

                A basic strength training program for the upper body will be performed 2-4 days per week and target the chest, shoulders, triceps, back, biceps, and abdominals. You should allow a minimum of 48 hours between similar exercises, to enable proper muscle recovery and tissue repair. The Beast on the Bay is going to require mostly muscular strength and muscular endurance as opposed to power and hypertrophy (muscle size). Use the recommendations for endurance when performing core and body weight exercises. Use the repetition ranges between strength and endurance for everything else. I recommend performing 3-5 sets of 6-15 reps for exercises involving free weights and/or machines. Refer to the following tables for more specific load percentages, set and repetition ranges according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Note: 1RM represents the maximum weight you can correctly perform one repetition for an exercise (bench press, squat, etc). Use these recommendations for lower body exercises as well.
Training Goal
Load (%1RM)




This week's video features Dave and Kristin Blakely showing the chest press and farmer's walk:

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Improving Your Running Program

Improving Your Running Program
by Dave Hopkins, LECOM

     The Beast on the Bay is a 10-mile course, so you should be able to run a minimum of 5 miles, preferably 7 miles comfortably, without stopping. Be sure to track your training runs with distance covered over a given period of time. I don’t believe in running without knowing how far you have gone. A number of running plans out there will have you just getting used to running for time and not being concerned with the distance you’ve covered. That’s like telling someone who wants to begin strength training, to just start lifting weights and not take note of how many pounds their using. You don’t know where you’re starting and therefore, don’t know how to get where you want to be. A basic running program consists of four running days per week, with the longest distance on the fourth day. Rest days in the following table are meant for running only. If you can already run 7 miles comfortably, then Day 1 should be 4 miles and the end of the 12th week should be at least 10 miles and as much as 13.1 miles. The more you run, the better. Cross training (biking, swimming) and strength training can be done on those days instead. Here is a beginner’s 12-week running plan for the Beast on the Bay:
1 mile
2 miles
1 mile
2 miles

     The beach consists of uneven and variable terrain, which will stress muscles, ligaments, and tendons that you may have not used in such a way. So, it’s imperative to incorporate a lower body strength training program to prepare for both the terrain of the beach and the mileage you will be doing. Lower body exercises should be performed 2 – 3 times per week, with a minimum of 48 hours between sessions. Running is a single-legged activity, so it’s important to include single-leg exercises in your routine. The exercises should use muscle actions involving all three planes of movement (sagittal, frontal, and transverse). The sagittal plane involves forward and backward movements, the frontal plane involves side to side movements, and the transverse plane involves rotational movements. Here’s a list of lower body exercises that will support and improve your running program:

Both Legs
Goblet Squat
Standing Adduction
Kettlebell Swings
Hip Abduction
TRX Pistol Squat
Standing Abduction
Walking Lunges
Hip Adduction
Leg Press
Straight-Leg Raise
Front Squat
Band Walks
Glute Bridge
Hip Extension
Glute Bridge
Monster Walks
RDL w/ Kettlebell
Step-Up w/ Wood Chop
Rotational Squat
Knee Tucks w/ Sliders
RDL Cable Machine
Turkish Get-Up
Straight-Leg Calf Press
Flexed-Leg Calf Press
Mountain Climbers
Box Step-Up
Please feel free to ask me any questions. Remember, every program should be designed for the individual, so some movements may need to be modified.