Hans Meyer Uses Strength Training to Change Bodies and Minds
There are no sloppy squats in Hans Meyer’s classes. The San Francisco-based strength coach is a stickler for form: before you ever pick up a weight, he ensures that you know how to properly execute everything from a deadlift to a row. For more than three years, Meyer has been training clients in kettlebells, powerlifting, bodybuilding, strength and conditioning, general physical preparedness, and corrective exercise. There’s a time and place for high reps and cardio, but Meyer programs for big weights and safe, stable movement.
For his own training, Meyer splits his time between his two loves: strength and rugby. The Norwegian-born athlete has competed across the globe for 15 years, and even represented Norway a few times in the sport. Outside the gym, he practices what he preaches. (Five hundred pound deadlifts? Yeah, he can do that.) For more insight into his day-to-day regimen, we quizzed Meyer to find out how he motivates clients through his training business, Nordic Strength, while chipping away at his own fitness goals.
Rockyt: How do you prepare for the classes you teach?
Meyer: I usually try to do all programs myself before having my classes try them. This is especially true with my Kettlebell classes. I'm usually doing a similar program the month prior to my class starting it, so everything is fresh in my mind and muscle memory.
Rockyt: How do you cross train?
Meyer: Rugby, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Acro Yoga, and backpacking.
Rockyt: What are your favorite studios for cross-training?
Meyer: 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, Diakadi; also my Rugby team, B.A. Baracus’s gym and clubhouse which I use weekly. But I try to stay out of gyms and get outdoors. I'm in gyms all day
Rockyt: Are you training toward a particular fitness goal right now?
Meyer: I just finished rehabbing a torn bicep [from rugby] so my main goal is getting back to my normal strength: 100 snatches in five minutes with 24kg/53lb kettlebell was the short term goal. Next, I hope to strict press the 48kg/106lb kettlebell with my left arm again and return to deadlifting 500+ pounds.
Rockyt: What's your training regimen?
Meyer: Basic Linear Progression: usually eight or twelve weeks at a time, adding weight while slightly decreasing volume.
Rockyt: Do you take rest days?
Meyer: I take at least two rest days a week. I train hard and heavy, so recovering fully is crucial—especially after 30. I sometimes do active recovery, hikes, biking, swimming, paddling, etc., too. If I'm really banged up from heavy powerlifting, I might even take two days in a row off, with some general bodyweight work on rest day two to keep blood flow.
Rockyt: How did you become an instructor?
Meyer: I was managing construction projects and didn’t really enjoy the computer screen aspect of the job. I had been training my rugby teammates in my garage already and had done A-Level in Physical Education when I lived in England. I had also been competing in athletics, jiu jitsu, and rugby since high school, so I decided to immerse myself in strength training and get certified in Strong First, Barbell, Kettlebells, TRX, and FMS.
Rockyt: What's the best thing about teaching?
Meyer: Seeing progress in strength, mobility, and confidence. My wife is a psychologist and it's funny how our careers intersect at times. When I started teaching strength, my goal was to make people better physically. What's been amazing is how physical strength training can translate to positive mental health outcomes.
Rockyt: As an instructor, what are you known for?
Meyer: I'm known for being very strict on technique and function. How to do something and why they are doing it this way. I also make people lift heavy, as soon as they know the fundamentals. My aim is to empower people through strength by giving them challenging yet achievable tasks. I teach people to be prepared, stay focused, embrace the grind, be safe, and listen to their body. This approach works as well on a barbell or kettlebell as any life situation.
Hans Meyer teaches Kettlebells and Conditioning at Cardio-Tone in Noe Valley, and Build and Strength and Conditioning at Studiomix in the Tenderloin. For personal training sessions, check out his business, Nordic Strength.