Serious strength training for athletes
We get all caught up in the finer things in life so often that we forget what is most important. We focus on new trends instead of tried and true effectiveness. There are a lot of innovative new technologies that change our lives for the better. Yet for every successful invention, there's thousands of dead ideas lying on the side of the road.
Stop trying to be different for the sake of being different. Experimenting is fun, but you know what's more fun? Getting better and seeing massive results. If you're doing a bunch of silly shit, always looking for the next big thing, knock it off! Get back to your roots, keep things simple and skyrocket your gains and really enhance your performance. Here is a quick video of simple training (assuming you have the requisite skill), with very limited equipment, that has the potential to boost almost anyones performance. Use what you have wisely and get your mindset to achieve greatness with what you have available instead of focusing on what you are lacking. It does not matter if you only have a barbell, or just a dumbbell, or only a rock. As long as you have an able body and a dedicated attitude, you can achieve greatness.
Check out our private membership site, The Consummate Athlete, FREE for a week, then only $9.99 a month after that. Cancel anytime with no questions asked, just be ready for my momma to kick in your back door and threaten you with that crazy big wooden spoon of hers, that shit hurts! Also, please check out our new tee shirts and hoodies here.
1. Stop wasting time hanging out with energy vampires.
-You know the type, the person who is always mentally and emotionally draining. Let them go. They are negative, they bring nothing to the table, they don't appreciate you. All they want is the communal energy to be focused on them. They never even want to try and solve their problem, they only want to complain about it and have you listen and console them. Or worse yet, they complain about everything that is wrong with you. You are important and you need some focus too. Your time is valuable, spend it with those people who support you and embrace you for the person who you are.
2. Make your move.
- The time is never going to be perfect to do that thing you have been planning to do for so long. Something will always be in the way, between school, work, family, friends, money, kids, etc. That's never going to change, it is time to make that jump and get started. You will need to make adjustments as you go, but lots of learning will be made in the process. Nobody achieves greatness from doing everything right the first time, you learn the most through mistakes and adversity. Embrace the opportunity that you have today, accept the challenge and follow your dream.
3. Stop taking care of everyone else before you take care of yourself.
- Make yourself a priority. I am not saying disregard everyone else. But sometimes you need to look out for number one. If you are not going at 100% full throttle, than you can not be your best to help others as well. Charge yourself first, then help others when the time permits.
4. Let the real you shine through.
- Too often people try to be someone that they think others want them to be. This is a disservice to yourself by not being real. The world already has everyone else. The world needs you. Be proud to step up and represent who you are. If you try to be someone you're not, everything will be fake and meaningless. Be yourself and you'll attract the people that you want to be associated with.
5. Be conscious and actively experience life.
- Notice and appreciate what is going on around you right now. You can never get this moment back. What you do right now will greatly shape what happens to you down the road. If you do nothing now, you'll be nowhere in the future. Experience as much of life as possible, it's really pretty amazing.
6. Make an honest evaluation of yourself.
- Be brutal and figure out what you like and dislike about yourself. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. The path to self discovery can be harsh. You will find out things that you did not want to admit, then ask why it is the way it is. Do it again, and again, and again. You will eventually come to the root of your issues, not just obvious symptoms. Dig deep inside you and change that thing that has been holding you back from being a better you. You can avoid the truth for a long time, but you can't make real change until you accept what you do not like.
7. Appreciate what you have.
- There really isn't a need for most of us to constantly get new toys, or seek happiness with a new relationship, etc. Take the time every day to appreciate the things you already have and may be taking for granted. You might think that the new shiny object is going to give you what you want, but it really only cost you time and money and soon you will want something else thats just out of reach. If you get a Maserati, you'll want a Lamborghini. You have something great right now, enjoy it. Besides, the best things in life are free anyway.
8. Don't try to be the person you used to be.
-We grow up, we get older, things change, it's inevitable. Some people try to reverse the clock and conceal the truth with surgery, makeup, transplants, pills, lotions and potions. You used to be younger, leaner, faster and stronger, but now you're wiser, you know how to work smarter and use your gifts to your advantage better. Don't try to be what you used to be, just be the best you can be for today and tomorrow.
9. Be happy for other peoples success.
- Never be jealous for someone else's achievements. Jealousy is a wasted emotion. Your time will be better spent building happiness for yourself. Genuinely let the other guy know how excited you are for them, and more people will cheer for you when you accomplish something great.
10. Stress less.
- I know, it's not so easy, but it can be done. Don't make excuses, find a way to reduce your negative energy levels. Eat better and sleep more for better energy. Smart exercise will help you feel and move better, which can make you more productive. Change one small thing at a time until it becomes a habit. Don't change your whole life, it is too overwhelming. Be accountable for your own life. Be ready to tackle the tough decisions head on. Nobody can change you but you. Sometimes things get worse before they get better. Stop resisting change, trust me, the hard road is a more joyful journey.
Please share your thoughts on having a better year, or a more prosperous life in general. If you have any questions about any of these topics, please ask and share.
Announcing our latest workshop at The Training Room at the Jersey Shore on February 25th. Our sign up page will be coming very soon. If you are anywhere near the Jersey Shore, you definitely do not want to miss this training workshop with the Milkman, Uncle MIke and myself, it's going to be an advanced athletic extravaganza. See YOU there!
Here is a link to the Kettlebell & Bodyweight Workshop I held last year at The Strength Shop. It is loaded with tons of great exercises and progressions to get you stronger and take your training to the next level. Also, if you are ready to take a free week long tour of our private membership area, The Consummate Athlete, CLICK HERE.
Don't forget to grab a hoodie or a tee shirt to keep you warm, ready and looking like you have a clue while you hit the weights this winter! Click the photo below to get yours now.
There is a slight hint of sarcasm in this post. To get to the point, there is a trend in fitness culture now that to be more fit, you have to be faster, you have to do more work in less time. This is true in some cases, but not all. In this brief video I highlight one of my favorite upper body exercises, the muscle-up. Like many exercises, it can be performed many different ways, depending on your skill level, your philosophy or your goals. If your goal is to simply move from point "A" to point "B", than almost any path or technique will suffice. Let me be clear about something here, there is a big difference between doing things for time, for health & fitness, for strength, for technical precision, etc. Improving your fitness can be achieved in very short workouts over a relatively short period of time. However, improving and attempting to master a skill could take months, years and lifetimes.
Look at Zach checking out his own name on the blog...
"Ef that jazz, Holmes, we ain't got time for that shizz, Son!" says Zach Even-Esh. So how do you increase your fitness in less time? Like Zach says, use movements that are easy to teach and easy to learn. Eliminate the high skill activities that only burden the original intent of the goal. If your general goal is to increase your fitness, and you include an exercise like the muscle-up and perform high reps as fast as possible with little control and substandard form and everybody is cheering on your awesomeness, then you tear your labrum, you almost instantly lose your super duper awesomeness.
Unfortunately shit happens, but you can decrease the likelihood of injury with smarter planning. Killer Kate Rawlings, owner of Coco CrossFit in Ohio, a highly respected Crossfitter and great athlete who is in phenomenal shape, recently popped her achilles tendon during a set of high rep box jumps. I feel bad for her and respect her and know her strength and resiliency will get her back in top form asap. But, I can not help but disagree with doing high frequency, high rep box jumps for most people, even elite athletes. Sorry about your luck, but you kind of asked for it. Similar thing happened to me a few months back, I tore my MCL during a gang tackle playing a football game. Of course it took 12 guys, all over 250 pounds, to tackle me, but pop went my knee bone. Playing football is a good way to get in shape, but it also is a great way to get injured. Such is the price of competition, so it might not be your first choice if fitness is your goal. Playing football was my goal, so it was mandatory. In Kates instance, competing at Crossfit is her goal, she is actually endorsed by Reebok I think, so doing certain exercises like kipping muscle-ups and high rep box jumps are mandatory for her sport. The ONLY time I would ever recommend doing certain exercises programmed in a weird way is in a timed CrossFit competition, and that is only if your goal is to compete at CrossFit. At no other time do I find it acceptable. The CrossFit rules say, "do this..." so thats what you gotta do to win. It does not mean you are the healthiest or the fittest or the most elite, it just means that you are a good CrossFit competitor and you can do exercises really fast. I think a lot of athletes who kip like crazy during a set of ten muscle-ups would struggle their ass off doing one single slow technically sound and controlled muscle-up. So, which guy is fitter? The one that can do "more work in less time" doing 10 ring flings, or the guy that can do one slow strict muscle-up? That leads to my next point. Like Dan John says, keep the goal the goal. If you want to get fit, do no harm, be consistent and you can achieve greatness relatively quickly. If you want to enhance your skill, it will take a long time to master, period. You know all the cliches, "Nothing great happens in Rome" and "Anything worth building in a day is going to take a lot of peanut butter" or something like that. So much for getting right to the point...
Separate high skill movements from your training and simply practice them and get better at them before you program them at high intensity in your training.
I think that is the take home point of this post. Keep safe, do no harm and keep your athletes and fitness clients healthy for their sport and their life. Again, do no harm, do not risk foolishness to try to impress your YouTube fans or give yourself a good name, by potentially injuring someone with the intent to make them awesome. I do not mean to bash anyone by this rant, just hope to keep some of you healthy and able to keep training longer without injury if it is preventable.
Big boy muscle-up vs ELITE muscle-up, you be the judge. What would you rather do?
Please post your thoughts and comments below. This was a bit of a ramble and I am sure I missed some points, but hopefully my intentional message is made.
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I know many of you who train would love to have your own place one day. I was you not long ago but I jumped and got my own place and did my thing. My buddy Craig did the same not too long ago. Here is his story...
A quick history of Michigan Kettlebells Strength & Training Center.....I'm a full time firefighter / paramedic, I work 10 or 11, 24 hr shifts a month, which allows me to have time for a part-time job. I had a few crappy ones, so one day I decided that I have worked enough crappy jobs in my life and I was now done with that. If I'm going to work a second job, why not work for myself, doing something I love. So a few years back, I decided that I would own a gym "one day". I knew I wanted it to be hardcore, I found thee Underground Strength Coach, Zach Even-Esh, on the internet and turned my garage into an underground gym, with kettlebells, sandbags, logs, homemade sleds and started training myself and any of my friends that would come over to train (which didn't happen very often). I made a website and put some videos and pictures on it, of me and my friends working out......and millions of people watched them on YouTube and I became an internet millionaire......Actually, for all practical purposes nobody watched them, no money. I kept reading, watching videos, and buying info products. Let me go back some years, I had already talked a good game about starting my own business more than once....a lot of talking and little action = no sales. My internet mentor, Zach Even-Esh announced he was having a 2 day seminar, called the How To Kick Ass (HTKA) seminar with some other dude, I never heard of before, Paul Reddick, they said it would be life changing, so I went, and it was. There was 25 other strength coaches, most of them owned gyms, or at least were personal trainers that were actually training people for money. I was none of those, I felt like I snuck in. It was awesome to be around and actually meet people who I followed on the internet. I decided that weekend, I was going to focus on kettlebells, and actually bought the URL MichiganKettlebells.com on a lunch break, at the seminar. I came home and sought out arguably the best kettlebell instructor in the country, Ken Blackburn, co-founder of the IKFF, who happens to be a fellow Michigander. I became a Certified Kettlebell Teacher through the IKFF, and asked Ken if he ever needed any help (as in grunt work) setting up, any workshops, certifications, competitions, to let me know and I would be there. He actually called me to assist him on multiple CKTs, which has been a great honor for me.....I still wasn't training anybody, because I never asked anybody. I wanted to have my own gym, but with no clients and no money, it wasn't happening. I decided I was going to teach a body weight conditioning class at my city's parks and rec. I went and pitched my class, knowing they would love the idea....and nothing, they rejected it, which was a blessing in disguise. So I felt sorry for myself, and for a moment felt like "well at least I tried". I decided that I was going to teach a summer boot camp class in a park 2 blocks from my house. So I finally made a web page for the URL I bought at the seminar and started advertising it on Facebook, and holy shit people actually signed up and payed money. I loaded up my wife's Dodge Nitro with kettlebells, sandbags, tire sleds, suspension trainers, sledgehammers and drove them over to the park. So after the fourth workout, I decided that I wanted my own place and I signed a lease (I had been checking out places for almost a year, but it was like driving through a nice neighborhood and thinking "one day") I took the money I made from the boot camp and rolled the dice.
We had our grand opening on Sept 29th, 2011. I had 6 members from the boot camp that signed up and paid for the year. October 1st was the first class, 2 people that had come to the opening signed up. Then nothing, I thought the people would be pouring in, we had a ton of great feedback at the open house, I put ads in 2 local papers and set up and email opt in for a free movement screen and workout. Many people have opted in, but never set up their appointment, or some set up, and then never showed up, and the ones that showed up, loved it, gave great feedback, and big smiles on their faces and then....they disappeared. Those are the really frustrating ones, is it me? Do I just suck?....No I don't, I always said before this place isn't for everybody, all of the prospects were nice, but most, it wasn't a good fit for either of us. When you have a lease, insurance and utilities to pay with virtually no cash reserves (not the smartest when opening a business, but sometimes you just have to say "what the fuck" and go for it) you just want anybody to sign-up, but if the wrong people sign-up, it can be a drag on the whole group, then it would not be fun for anyone, and the people you want, might leave. So who do I want? Thats a problem with many businesses, they never define their target market, they try to get everyone, and end up with very few. So back to my question, who do I want? I want the washed-up or nearly washed-up workout guy/gal, but still has a flame burning deep inside, they want to kick ass again. They want to be at all of the workouts, because they don't want to let themselves or the group down. So far that is what I have, and I am very thankful for that.
I know January and February are the big months when people join gyms, but I needed people before the first of the year, so about a week before Thanksgiving I started running a promotion (mostly through Facebook) for a Holiday Boot Camp, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 4 weeks for $47, about half the price. I was reluctant to offer this, because I only wanted at minimum 3 month commitments, but I'm glad I did. 5 people signed up for it. All of them look like they will be good fits. 2 people came back from the summer boot camp, 2 referrals from members, and one completely new guy. So now, I just need to get them signed up at the end of the 4 weeks. I'm will be running a similar promotion for January. Also my wife is going to start training women only in January. It will be a completely separate membership, She is going to do a 6 week boot camp, that will also focus on nutrition and smart food choices, 6 members, twice a week, $200. She is looking to get personal training clients from that. She loves the one-on-one.
Another very cool thing happening in January will be a IKFF Mobility and Kettlebell Sport Workshop taught by Ken Blackburn, that will be on Jan 7th 10 am at Michigan Kettlebells Strength & Training Center.
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Anyone that has an ounce of desire to get better knows that it is not an easy road to get to the top. In fact, that road may be the loneliest, coldest, harshest road one may ever travel. There will always be obstacles in your way, regardless of your goal. Finding a great mentor or coach, honing your skills, sacrificing certain amenities and freedoms, ignoring those people and things that do not align with your current goals are some of the hardships one must endure along the journey to self improvement.
Most people never make change until they get so frustrated with their current situation that the only option is drastic change through brutally honest, and usually ugly, self evaluation. They must find out where they are now, what is wrong with it, and what needs to be done to fix it. This is not, however, a self help article. It is simply advice on gaining more power in life by using your weapon of choice. We all have the option to do, or not to do. Sometimes we simply are not motivated to do the thing that needs to be done. Nobody cares. Really, nobody cares about your intentions, they only care about what you have done and how it can potentially help them. Actually, a lot of people care if it hurts you, only because they like to see others suffer like them. When you're not highly motivated to rise to the challenge to make change, it really doesn't matter if you have discipline.
The disciplined are not necessarily motivated to go to work everyday, but they do it because they know it needs to get done. Do it or die, in a sense, get fired, starve, be hassled with the annoyance of finding another job, etc. Where do I get my discipline? Strength. Strength is my weapon of choice for being disciplined, and taking charge of my life. Strength offers me peace and stability. And this does not come free of charge. Hard work and consistency are imperative to maintaining a strong body and peace of mind. Instead of trading hours for dollars, I trade hours for improvement in strength. If I feel my body getting weaker, I feel my thoughts getting dull in the process. A rolling stone gathers no moss, so they say, and the hardest part is getting that big boulder moving in the first place. I get it, its hard, but nobody cares, just get started.
Building physical strength is probably the most important and underrated aspect of living a high quality life. The stronger you are, mentally and physically, the more you have to offer the world. A stronger person creates a bolder presence, and a bigger platform to be heard by the world. Changing your thoughts, beliefs and behaviors for the better and helping to influence others to make positive change can be the most dramatic and constructive affect you can make in your life. The stronger you are, the stronger you can help others to be.
Most people have two similar issues that they wish were better, finance and fitness. Lets look at the average person who wants to get in better shape. No real plan, just want to lose some weight. Very common, right? No plan of action, no deadline, no ultimate goal. Just "wanna lose some weight." From the beginning this goal is weak and will have a low rate of success. A better plan would be "lose 20 pounds by January 20 by hitting the gym 4 times a week and following Matt's advice to learn how to properly train with kettlebells and bodyweight." Now all you have to do is follow the plan that you made for yourself, and were smart enough to find someone knowledgeable to help you achieve your goal. This plan that you created is your blueprint to success. But everybody makes a wrong turn eventually. So after a few days of high energy, you seem to get tired and do not feel like hitting the gym, so you skip a day, then two days and then suddenly you are not following your plan.
How do you follow the plan, even when it is hard and you don't feel like doing it? Change your mindset and put yourself in a state of urgency where all of your actions are BOTH highly rewarded and severely punished. I got this from Alwyn Cosgrove. Most people skip hard labor when they know it can be made up tomorrow, but what if there were no tomorrow? In reality, we know the following will not happen, but if you make believe it can and WILL happen, it will be impossible to fail, if you are human. Following the plan you have made for yourself, "gym four times a week, etc." you are told that every session you complete satisfactorily you will be rewarded with not only your achieved goal, but a ten million dollar bonus and eternal bliss for you and your loved ones. You picture this before every training session, or whatever event it is planned for your goal that you must complete. Ultimate pleasure, success and reward, just for doing what you already planned to do. On the other hand, if something comes up and you fail to meet the obligations set forth by yourself, whether it be an unsuccessful training session, lack of money, time, motivation, injury, or any other of the endless excuses we make on a daily basis, you will not only be punished by not achieving your goals, but a gang of terrorist will find you, your family and anyone else you care about and rape, pillage and murder every one of you in the most horrific, violent fashion possible. Make this a reality in your head. You are motivated on one hand to be rewarded with everything you ever wanted by just taking daily action, and on the other hand if you fail to abide by the rules, then you will be punished in the worst way possible. I guarantee you, no amount of tiredness, sickness, money problem, time issue, or anything else will keep you from doing that thing that will either make you or break you that instant. But our rewards are not paid in millions and our goals are not achieved in a day. Reality does not work like this, because if we skip the gym today, nobody is raping and killing your daughter tonight and shooting you in the face, but the positive change you wanted for yourself will continue to elude you. The daily rewards are only seen in a sweaty shirt, and blistering palms. No pot of gold, no dozen virgins.
Strength will keep you on your path to success. It will help keep your inner peace and harmony. I am not only talking of 800 pound deadlifts here, as awesome as that is, I am talking of the strength to persevere hardship, and the strength to maintain productivity in a stressful and conflicting environment. Use strength as an instrument of peace. If you can only be productive when everything is perfect, don't even fuckin bother. Shit is gonna happen and you are going to have to make adjustments to overcome and prevail. No excuses will be acceptable. Weak people are dangerous and chaotic. Weak people have no control. They have no plan and accept mediocrity. You should never accept mediocrity, good enough is NOT good enough anymore. Always strive to get better.
The Consummate Athlete is a place where dedicated people expect hard work, get support, and take action to avoid being the average guy that others have neither anything good, nor bad to say about. I can't think of anything worse than being insignificant. It's time to step up and make serious change, my friends. Take a plunge, get fired up, and check out The Consummate Athlete FREE for one week and see if this is the place for you. After that it is only $9.95 a month and your support comes as strong as your desire. If you do not participate, you don't get shit out of life. If you get in the game and take action, your skills will flourish, you will be more productive in life, and your general level of happiness just gets better everyday. You got nothing to lose, check it out.
I will also be going to Jersey In February to cohost a training seminar with one of the coolest dudes and badass gyms on the east coast. More details on that really soon! Post comments about the article and also let me know if you're interested in attending the event in February in Jersey!
Below is a compilation video of some of the highlights from the past week of training with my newest program, Bars, Bells & Bodies. Its a fun program that calls for lots of weightlifting for absolute strength, power and speed. Then using kettlebells we build volume, balance and stamina. And finally there is lots of bodyweight strength and conditioning drills for relative strength development and athleticism. Check out The Consummate Athlete FREE for a week trial to see join in on this program.