My Friend and Yours: Chris Hopkins


I am going to be posting some highlights of people who work with me – individuals looking to improve health, build interpersonal relationships with like-minded folks and highlight ways people motivate themselves and each other. After seeing some of these answers, I can promise you this…we’ve all got at least one thing in common – we’re all weird.

‘None of us is as smart as all of us’ – Japanese Proverb (I think)

A huge component in all of this is building relationships. To me, there are a lot of amazing people I receive motivation from in being my best – and in extension – helping you! My hope is that you will take something from each person I post about, give suggestions and encourage them to keep bettering themselves. I feel very lucky to be in the position that I am in – and my goal is to get you to feel that same way.

Without further ado, my friend and yours,

Chris ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins

  • Who are you? Don’t be afraid to be weird.

    Im a (soon to be) 42 yr old male that is from West Virginia…  I just so happen to be overweight, gay, and a baptized Christian (I walk a fine line).  I let my faith influence me, but not control me.

  • What obstacles did you have before starting an exercise program? What obstacles do you currently have? 

    Willpower… pure and simple.  I don’t mind working out I just have a hard time staying focused.  I don’t like the feeling of being judged.  Oddly enough I’m the one usually judging myself.  As for current issues- I just have a real hard time saying “no” to certain foods and I sometimes don’t quit when I’m “full”.

  • How have you been able to overcome those obstacles? What’s your plan to achieve these obstacles?

    It’s a constant struggle and will leave it at that… it probably always will be.

  • What is your goal? 

    To get below %25 BCA and maintain it or get better.

  • What/who motivates you? In work? In life? In exercise?

    I don’t want to be obnoxious but I motivate me…  I want better for me and I strive for it however Im also my biggest obstacle.  I also draw strength from people that I know that succeed and have strong willpower and drive.

  • Why now?Are there any specific events coming up or that have recently occurred to spark your interest?

    I don’t want to jeopardize the last 4 1/2 to 5 yrs of my career  because of BCA issues and I want to maintain my health and fitness as I live through the rest of my 40s and beyond

  • Favorite activities?

    Obstacle course running, Frisbee, and paintball (I have other non-physical activities I enjoy as well

  • Anything you would like to add?

      Listen to the “Goose” and im sure we shall all succeed together!!


Exercise Testing – Cardiovascular testing

My Friends,

Here is where we delve into the idea of cardio.

Blah. We all hate it. But you have to do it. Not only does it burn Calories but it can be used as a great tool for increasing the size of your cardiac muscle tissue – aka, it’ll make your heart bigger.

One thing I pride myself on with  my athletes is speed. Running is ingrained in our body’s physiology and as humans, we have a responsibility to take full advantage! The only full-time bipedal mammals that stand fully upright on the regular – our bodies were meant to be upright and efficient in gait.

The benefits of cardiovascular exercise are astronomical – and when they inevitably make a pill that gives you the same benefit you’ll receive from cardiovascular exercise – is the same day I no longer have a job!


The cardiovascular test I chose to integrate is simple, easy, does take some time and is much more applicable to function than other tests out there. It is used by the Navy (my wife loves it) and various other factions to rank individuals in cardiovascular fitness. Pop quiz points – The football association of Singapore actually uses the test as a means for motivation…you must run 1.5 miles in <10:15 in order to play and those who run  it faster than 8 minutes and 30 seconds receive $200.

The rules of the 1.5 mile run:

  • Find a flat surface with a known distance(such as a track).
  • Grab a stop watch or start your watch and run around said flat surface for 1.5 miles (that would be 6 laps for a track)
  • Record the time it takes for you to finish the 1.5 mile run.

Pretty self-explanatory and simple. With that said, here are your norms! Courtesy of Topendsports.

Rating Males Females
Very poor > 16:01 > 19:01
Poor 16:00-14:01 19:00-18:31
Fair 14:00-12:01 18:30-15:55
Good 12:00-10:46 15:54-13:31
Excellent 10:45-9:45 13:30-12:30
Superior < 9:44 < 12:29


Pretty cool eh?? I’ll give you twenty minutes or so. Come back, post your time and calculate your VO2max based off of your time, plugging in your gender, bodyweight and mile time to the equation below…

  • VO2max (ml. kg-1.min-1) = 88.02 + (3.716 * gender) – (0.0753 * body weight in pounds) – (2.767 * time for 1.5 miles in minutes and fractions of minutes)
    • Where gender = 1 for males and 0 for females.
Image result for vo2 max norms men and women
I’m shooting for excellent female @ 60-65 years old, considering how inefficient I am at running for longer than 1 minute.

Exercise Testing – Pushup Norms

What’s up Ya’ll?

Each and every one of my clients through exercise testing to assess current fitness level and as a means of measurement of progression. When it comes to exercise selection, each evaluation is different depending on the individual’s goal and their strengths/weaknesses. Specifically, different patterns (push, pull, squat, step) help me assess how strong you are. In the coming posts, we will run through some normative data and values as well as a Goose-ified description of each test.

This way, you can do it yourself and compare your scores to the scores of people around your age/gender/weight/phyla classification.

First up, that ones we all hated in school growing up.

The president’s push-up test

The ole pushup test. I remember rocking this in gym class, busting out a few pushups and calling it a day. Combine this with the flexed-arm hang and you got yourself a dynamic duo of muscular endurance and base strength.

Two categories of performing this test and a few rules listed below:

1)For men, perform pushups from your toes.

2)For women, perform pushups from your knees.

-Your chest must come within 2 inches of the ground to count each repetition

-You must straighten your arms after performing each repetition while maintaining a rigid torso.

-Perform as many pushups as possible until exhaustion. You are allowed to rest in the ‘up position’ but once you drop from there, the test is over.

So I’ll give you a couple minutes to get this test done (I did over a thousand so it took me a few days).

Real talk, get your number and compare your score to the numbers below…courtesy of the YMCA

Table: Push Up Test norms for MEN

Age 17-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-65
Excellent > 56 > 47 > 41 > 34 > 31 > 30
Good 47-56 39-47 34-41 28-34 25-31 24-30
Above average 35-46 30-39 25-33 21-28 18-24 17-23
Average 19-34 17-29 13-24 11-20 9-17 6-16
Below average 11-18 10-16 8-12 6-10 5-8 3-5
Poor 4-10 4-9 2-7 1-5 1-4 1-2
Very Poor < 4 < 4 < 2 0 0 0

Table: Push Up Test norms for WOMEN

Age 17-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-65
Excellent > 35 > 36 > 37 > 31 > 25 > 23
Good 27-35 30-36 30-37 25-31 21-25 19-23
Above Average 21-27 23-29 22-30 18-24 15-20 13-18
Average 11-20 12-22 10-21 8-17 7-14 5-12
Below average 6-10 7-11 5-9 4-7 3-6 2-4
Poor 2-5 2-6 1-4 1-3 1-2 1
Very Poor 0-1 0-1 0 0 0 0


Stella Success Story – Taylor

This is Wade. And this is how a couple of old farts take a selfie.

This dude Wade, aka Taylor Lautner. One of my first clients at Stella Fitness. Just completed his first 12 week program…and I’ve gotta say, it’s been a wild ride. In week two he crashed a motorcycle and could barely move his arm above his head…he had late nights at work on the weekend that you could tell were crushing his soul…he had everrrryyyyyy excuse in the book…that said, here is what he accomplished.

  • Waist to hip ratio went from 33.5 / 38.5 to 32 / 38.5
  • Weight went up from 150 to 155
  • FMS score improvement to 16 (from 14)
  • From 21% bodyfat down to 13.8%
  • Back squat increase by 40 pounds (max squat of 193 at a weight of 155) even with a primary focus on kettlebell movements
  • Went from 0 pullups to 4
  • Increased his broad jump by 4″
  • Cadence pushup went form 8 to 20
  • 1/4 mile time went from 1:32 to 1:26

Most of all, he made a promise to himself that for 12 weeks he would do what he had to do to create healthy habits – and he did just that. So to you, Wade, congratulations and thank you for putting in the work. I learned a crap ton from you, not just about health, fitness and how to be a better teacher but a ton about business, leadership and overcoming all the crap in life. Thanks bruddah.

Strength Principles: Movement Order of Operations


Here’s where I talk about the intricacies of building an exercise session. Let’s assume you are building your workouts for today. For strength.

Rules of the routine:

  1. Dynamic warmup- depending on the day, you want to make sure that you mobilize and prepare your body for the activities you are going to go through. For 90% of the folks I see, we hit a few basic exercises that promote stability through movement as well as a controlled, full range of motion and increasing muscular temperature. Mind you, when you are warming up, static stretching (holding a stretch for 30 seconds) is a no-go prior to exercise due to the acute effects of weakness during the strength workout.
    1. Example exercises: inch worm with lateral rotation, Hip bridges, Spiderman crawls, jumping rope, Burpees, PVC pass throughs.
  2. Biggest, most involved movements for strength. You want to start your strength session off with the biggest muscle groups first. A back squat is far more involved than a knee extension, so you’ll want to prioritize that movement (there are instances where it can be best to start with isolated movements, especially in individuals recovering from injury to facilitate a neuromuscular connection – fancy way of saying that these folks should be turning on the muscles that we’re supposed to be working. Injury and poor patterning will force a certain muscles to not take the force it normally should take – as your body is amazing and forcing other muscles to compensate when there is an injury or poor pattern mechanics). Big  movements include Deadlifts, overhead press, bench press, pullups and other movements that are explosive and take a crap ton of full body effort.
  3. Narrow down your focus after the big muscle groups. Move to exercises that supplement the ‘big movements’. For a squat day, a rear foot elevated squat works wonders or a single leg deadlift. These movements still see a great amount of muscular activation but don’t put as much demand on your system as the primary strength movements. Movements like stiff legged deadlifts for hamstring and glutes, walking lunges and stepups after the primary movement. Hit 2-3 sets of movements that you know are a weakness.
  4. Isolation – After the narrowed down movements, here is where you get into muscle isolation. Strengthen your weak muscle groups. Target the stuff that has been weak for a while. After a couple ACL tears, my body has learned to really avoid a bunch of knee dominant stuff (as you can see from the size of my booty). In my case, I always make sure to burn the crap out of my quads – they are not the best in isolation and I really have had a hard time with them as the human body is amazing at avoiding pain. Pick two or three muscles and really get those guys going. Let it burn, baby.
  5. Cool down – Ease off it, yo. Take a breather. Static stretch. Hit the foam roller. Do things that you will thank yourself for later. There is nothing like having a cool down session on the foam roller after leg day. Truly the only thing that has ever helped me with that soreness post-workout.

So those are some rules I live by in the Chop shop. In short, warm up, big movements first followed by a more narrowed focus followed by isolation and a cool down.

And remember, strength has never been a weakness.



Strength Principles: 5 Ways to Progress

What’s up Gaggle!?

For a period of about three months before moving out to Utah, I found myself going through the motions.  My lifts were stagnant and my lack of progression was slowly kicking my butt mentally. Days were long and I found myself straying away from my focus-get strong while loving what I do. Through a period of self-reflection I reignited the flame and found myself progressing like never before as I shifted my focus to a re-education to strength.

My principles of strength have grown, matured…and I have a started discovering my own ‘strength values’.

Without further ado,

The top 5 Ways to Progress your Strength:

  1. Increase intensity: When lifting weights, you should not find yourself stuck in a ‘rut’ if you are lifting weights the right way. Squats, deadlifts, bench press, pullups, overhead press…all of those movements we love that involve so much- work your butt off on squeezing out an extra rep or two when your body tells you ‘no’. The intensity of the lift/movement should constantly progress – and when you push past that comfort zone, is when your body is being forced to get stronger. A good friend once told me that his favorite ‘goal’ while weight lifting was to make his last working set this week his first working set in four weeks. Constant intensity progression is the most effective way to get stronger.
  2. Use a high intensity, low rep scheme. If you find yourself hanging out in the 15-20 rep scheme for months at a time and find yourself pumping out the same weight week after week, you are missing out big time. Your body’s energy system for pure strength and power is developed in sets that last less than 20 seconds. It would be good to up the weight and decrease the time under tension in a set to get a true measure of  strength!
  3. Conversely, if you find yourself only working the rep range of 1-5, you are doing yourself a disservice. The higher rep ranges will help your body train a more stable position for a long period of time. Muscular endurance may not have a huge impact on the primary lift if you are a powerlifter…but it will have a huge impact on all the other structure around the tissue. Speed work, endurance work, plyometric movements and greater time under tension will help to solidify bone, tendon, ligament as well as muscular density throughout the lift.
  4. Unilateral movements – When I see folks in the gym stick with the big movements, it makes me happy. But when it comes to defining and fixing movement patterns, there is nothing better than breaking up the training regiment and working one side at a time. The amount of stability, symmetry and coordination single sided movements take will make anyone stronger and more stable. When you build your exercise program, you should always program single sided exercises. Hugely important for keeping that physical structure in check!
  5. Introduce speed and power training to your program. Tempo in training is important. Powerlifting is slow, olympic weightlifting is fast – the best thing about both types of training is that there is a huge degree of carryover. That’s not to say that the best weightlifters will be the best powerlifters or vice versa, but the progression and tempo used in both styles of training will carryover. Introduce powerful movements in your bench press by adding band resistance, introduce strength movements in your weightlifting my hitting some front squats for weight.


Progression is dependent on your body’s ability to adapt to the stress you put on it. If you decide to keep diving into the same workouts with the same intensities, you’ll plateau. You don’t have to do anything crazy – contrary to popular programs that tell you that you always have to vary your movement. Just know what you are training for, develop the best program possible with the most carryover and attack it. There is nothing like breaking through a mental barrier!



Today I dive into the different ways to progress your strength!

Principles of Strength Training

Hey Ya’ll,

Today’s post is an introduction to all things strength training. After recently consulting with a friend about best practices in developing strength, I want to break down the most basic principles in an easy to read manner for you! I’ll be diving into the dork-hole that you are probably now familiar with having stuck with me for this long.

As I dive in, I want to direct you to the NSCA protocols for strength training as it serves as a great introduction to progression for movement, intensity, duration, time and type. It dives a little deeper than other certifying agencies and there are some hugely important things the other guys left out…
1) Defined movement patterns – A lot of other certs rock the old school train of thought (training your chest vs. training your pushing pattern). Not that it is bad by any means but the NSCA describes the movement patterns for strength training in the ‘functional’ capacity and more conducive to how strength training is looked at these days.
2)Provided movement patterns with sample progression/regressions of movement.

3)Each strength training program should be tailored to the individual’s experience – the NSCA packet respects the use of different protocols for different levels of experience. It all comes down to the individual’s movement strength through movement.

Specificity of Movement

Something many protocols miss out on is expression of the appropriate weight/load used. The strength training protocols used in nearly every program out there base your strength training off of estimated 1 Rep max – which means that for each exercise performed, you would have to sit down and figure out what your estimated max is for each movement. Which becomes time consuming, unrealistic and can vary day to day by up to 18% depending on the person’s expertise, exercise level, stress level and overall consistency in the gym. The application of true 1RM testing is dependent upon the goal of the individual. You should be asking yourself these questions for every self-evaluation you program into your workouts:
  • What tests directly apply to the goal I am trying to achieve as I train for strength?
  • What specific goal can I accomplish through strength training in order for me to get there safely and quickly?

Select a few quick tests that will have a direct carry over to your goal. If you need to develop your vertical jump capability, a bench press test is not going to have a great correlation. Strength movements you might select to test/train are power cleans, back/front squat or bulgarian split squats. When you train for a specific goal, the gains you make are movement specific. So if your forearm curl strength propels off the charts but your goal is to run a marathon all you’re doing is trying to put a square peg in a round hole.

Velocity Based Training

For a lot of individuals who walk into the gym with specific performance goals, a principle that has resonated for a long time in with strength training is the principle of velocity based training. Velocity based training protocols for strength have been around for a long time but has had a hard time catching on in the general public due to limitations of tech…you will have a hard time figuring out how fast you move the barbell, how much time you spent on the ground during a plyometric movement, etc. It’s not a new idea but you basically calculate your speed of movement. There is a direct correlation between movement speed and that individual’s current ‘estimated max’.
On the graph above is a basic Force x Velocity curve demonstrating the protocols for strength in VBT. The idea is that in a given set of repetitions, your goal is to keep the velocity of your movement consistently in the targeted velocity zone. Velocity of movement has a direct correlation and provides a much better point of reference for programing that day’s maximum effort than a 1RM test performed a while ago or

Weight Loss and Metabolism Part 3: Strength Training

Hello Friends,

Quick update on all things Stella…In the midst of a crazy week – all good things – one of those ‘testing’ weeks for me as a business person.  Had a couple of interviews. One was for a position to train 10 females taking a weight loss pill, the other a nice chat with a local physical therapist. I am really good at discovering the scope of different companies through research and asking good questions…but I have failed myself when it comes to describing the benefits of my business while in the ‘office’ setting. Going to set out to set up three similar discussions per week until I own it. Which is progress! I have set aside a load of time for practice and will talk to different groups in the area to get some time face to face with folks.

If you know anyone in the Salt Lake area looking for a personal trainer, spread the word of Stella Fitness!

That said, you came here to figure out how to lift weights for fat loss.

I’ve been excited about this one for a while! Not because it is the most efficient means of burning Calories but it also lends a lot of flexibility in how you approach your strength training sessions. Let’s get a few of the common misconceptions and FAQs out of the way…

  • A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat.
  • Lifting weights will make your muscles grow if you train them to grow. Conversely, if you lift weights to get strong and stay lean, you should lift in that fashion.
  • If your goal is weight loss and you weigh in to find that you gained a few pounds this week, it is not because you lifted weights and put on muscle.
  • Your fat does not ‘turn into’ muscle. Fat undergoes oxidation and leaves your system as carbon dioxide, acetyl-CoA and energy. Muscle tissue grows through forced adaptation during resistance training. And it is very difficult to achieve both of these at the same time unless you are willing to work!
  • Your body is more adept to building a certain fiber type – so when you see people looking for ‘lean muscle’, they are typically referring to developing a lower bodyfat percentage with slightly defined features, brought out more through weight training combined with a healthy, nutrient specific diet.
  • Spot-toning does not burn fat in the specified region of your body – but it does make that specific muscle grow larger, thus allowing it to be more defined as you lose bodyfat.
  • Burning 1,000 Calories in an hour is BS unless you weight 250+ or have the metabolism of a hummingbird
  • When finished with a particularly intense weight training session, your body will require more Calories in order to get back to resting levels (the effect can last for up to 36 hours, burning an extra 150 Calories!)

I am a firm believer in the idea of making use of your body in all the ways it can move. You have to prepare your body for the unexpected, and that requires testing its limits every now and then. My idea of strength training isn’t purely deadlifting with a barbell, swinging a kettlebell or hitting the leg press every day. Strength training is what you do to INCREASE YOUR BODY’S CAPACITY FOR MOVEMENT…pushing, pulling, squatting, hinging, carrying heavy stuff, walking/running and rotating. Your body is meant to move in all of these ways. They are fun, challenging and you should track variations of standardized workouts.

When it comes to strength training for weight loss, choose a movement from the following list:

  • Push
  • Pull
  • Squat
  • Hinge
  • Carrying stuff
  • Running/Gait/Core
  • Rotating

Create a circuit from the movement categories and turn it into a game. Maybe your goal is to do 10 reps of each movement for three rounds. Maybe it’s a quick hitting burst of as many reps as possible of one specific movement, 5 minutes at a time. These circuits can range anywhere from 2-60 minutes depending on the specifics of the program and the time you have allotted for exercise. The more intense the workout (ie, weight and rep scheme), the shorter the time frame exercising will be. The idea in these workouts is to get your heart rate up and keep it up. Anyone who has run through an intense, short-rest period strength session can attest to boosting your body’s metabolism and skyrocketing Caloric expenditure. Not only that, you will get really sweaty, really fast.

Below I have attached a few of my favorite strength workouts:

Upper Body Push+Pull Death: 1 Set of 20 reps of each exercise at an intensity that you fail near 20 reps. Maybe leave 2 reps in the tank for each exercise. As little rest as possible between exercises. Set a stop watch for 45 minutes and don’t stop moving until your time is up.

  • Pushups
  • Pullups/Lat pulldown/Assisted Pullups
  • Dumbell Push press
  • Dumbell Swing
  • Dips/assisted Dips
  • Inverted/suspension Row
  • Incline dumbell bench press
  • Dumbell 1 arm row
  • Seated Military press
  • Seated Row
  • Chest Flies
  • Reverse flies
  • Machine Push
  • Machine Pull

Bodyweight 7s: 7 Rounds, 7 exercises, 7 reps each. GREAT circuit for a park or while you’re on vacation (no excuses).

  • Squat Jumps
  • Pushups
  • Lunges (7 each leg)
  • Pullups/Assisted pullups
  • Burpees
  • Side jumping ‘Skaters’ (7 each leg)
  • Full Body crunch

Carry, Thrust, Pull, Run:3-5 rounds of the following exercises

  • Farmers carry (100-200 Feet)
  • Dumbell Thrusters (10 reps)
  • TRX Weight Pull (10 Pulls – attach a few 45# plates to a TRX, place them on the ground, stand a few feet away, and pull the crap out of the weights with your whole body)
  • Run 1/4 of a mile


That’s all I’ve got for today folks, let me know what you think!




I Made a Surprise Visit Home and Freaked out my Family

Heather and I are having a blast out in Utah. Seriously – when they say happy wife, happy life – it rings true. She is loving her new position and it’s been a while since I have seen her this happy. She says her new command is a lot less stressful, they play sports everyday before work and she’s never felt support in her career like she does at this place. So I guess this military thing is starting to treat her well. Oh and she advanced on her last exam too!
Abby and Zeeq love it out here. Zeeq freaked out tremendously the first time hail came pouring down from the sky, just as expected. Abby is as relaxed as ever, watching her younger brother anxiously horde all of the toys he can.
I’ve got my little personal training business started, have done pretty well for not having known a single person in this state before making the voyage to Salt Lake. In some way, shape or form, other folks have given me the courage and confidence to step WAYYYY outside my comfort zone and pursue this thing on my own. And for that, thank you for helping to teach me how to best guide your program, coach you through your daily stresses as well as serve as a beacon of support when I was running around with my head cut off. My parents got remarried last month on June 17th, so that was exciting. Kind of a funny story actually.
My older brother Tony and I planned this whole thing where I didn’t let anyone know I was coming to town (not even his girlfriend, Rachel, whom he lives with and I’ve always considered my sister). I flew in on a Wednesday and he picked me up at the airport. Got in safe, no issues with the flights. Rachel works at a restaurant and was set to get home around 11pm. Tony and I go out to trivia and decide to surprise her. So we come up with a genius plan. I hid in the trunk and he would tell her to come outside to help him carry in some stuff. Well, as she opens to the trunk, I see a look of horror on her face when – a glint in her eyes told me she thought Tony didn’t know there was a person in his trunk. She FREAKED out and then realized it was me. Then she laughed, we laughed and had a merry reunion.
A couple days pass and I’m going out to lunch with my brothers and their significant others, we walk a block over to the courthouse and see my mom, dad and grandma pull up to the curb. They park, get out of the car and begin to mozy on into the court house. I hang back and let the brothers greet them. They all start to walk in together as I decide to sneak up on them and sort of mold into the group to see how long it would take mom and dad to notice that their ever-elusive son was around. I am pretty sure I made eye contact with my dad five times. I creep up next to my mom and grandma, joining in on their conversation. Mom didn’t realize for a while that the voice she was talking to was the son she thought was in Salt Lake. But the moment she did, tears started flowing. She screamed like she was being attacked, my dad started freaking out thinking mom was hurt until he had a moment of clarity and realized I was there.
Don’t drink GooseJuice,