Just grab your towel and go.

Hitchhiker’s guide had it right, all you need is a towel.

I have used it to add intensity to my sandbag/bodyweight workouts
to do isolation movements, curls, triceps extensions
and all kind of grip training (you can never have to strong of a grip).

Cinder blocks weigh in at around 20-40lb, have convenient holes in them and are usually being thrown away at any construction site.

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Don’t forget to do your pullups!
Over a branch or railings. The towel creates a forgiving grip were needed so not to tear your hands to shreds and strengthens the grip.

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Wrap the towel in a thick bundle and hold for time.

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Tie a solid knot and lean back as far as you can for time or do rows, it’s hell on the forearm.

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For a quick 20-40 min workout I’ll go running with a towel and scan for spots to do pullups, extensions, pushups, pisolsquats 8-15reps at every stop for 3-6 stops in total.
Be creative and get some work done!

Train for life.

How much stonger can I get for $100 or less? Part 2

With rings, sandbag and your bodyweight at your disposal
there is no limit to the strength, speed and mental toughness you can build.

With short workouts too.

Throw the rings on a tree branch and knockout a few sets of pullups and dips.
Go for a run with the duffelbag in your rucksack, most playgrounds have a sandpit, fill that sucker up and rock out a lower body or a full body workout in notime.
Not having time can’t be an excuse when the workout takes only 30 minutes.

Sample upper body day.
Warmup: 2 rounds 20 sec each movement, band pullaparts, dislocators, pushup, jumping jacks, forward2backward lunge, bear crawl.

Workout: keep rest to a minimum 30-60 sec.
4 sets submax reps (leave 1-3 reps in the tank) of
Mixgrip and or ring pullups
Ring dips (put your toes on the ground to reach 6-8reps if needed)
Mixgrip pushup and or ring pushups
Depending on my shoulders that day I may do 4 sets handstands or handstand pushups

If I want more conditioning in there I add a bear crawl between sets for a set distance.

Sample lower body day. Power & endurance
Same warmup as above, then a short run to a sandpit close by with a my sandbag and fill it up there.
5 sets of each
Sandbag shoulder and squat 5 each side.
Front carry Lunge matrix* alternate 6 each leg then a 25-30 yard front carry walk.
50 yard sprints
* forward, backward and side lunge or at random
Run back home as fast as possible

These are just two ideas that you can do in a short time.
Just get out of your comfort zone for a massive increase in strength, speed and toughness

All with equipment under $100.

Train for life

How much stronger can I get for $100 or less? Part 1

The answer is a lot.
Not just strength, but stamina and mental toughness.
People have been doing it since long before the sissy ass globo gym was invented.
Simply by hauling logs, stones and each other.

If you think you need a barbell and the latest machines to build a strong,
fast, asskicking physique, you are dead wrong.
Look at gymnastics, talk about strong and it’s almost all bodyweight training.

I decided to try out an minimalist approach to training last summer
and the results are anything but minimal.
My work capacity has never been greater, not even when I was a competitive boxer.
I’m more agile, faster and injury free.
When I started lifting again I was moving more weight than before.

This is how I train my clients and they are staggered by the results they are getting.
That is with the actual workouts rarely lasting longer than 30 minutes.

Let’s talk equipment.
You really don’t need anything, you can get away with a branch
and a few stones but these things help and are relatively cheap.

Rings or TRX:
After having my $15 plastic rings break during a muscle up I recommend splurging on quality rings, mine are dense hardwood, easy on the hands, will last a lifetime and cost around $60.
Amazon or eBay is your best bet.

The TRX you can make yourself for 10-20$ here is a good how to.
http://rosstraining.com/blog/2010/01/13/homemade-suspension-trainer/

Canvas army duffelbag or similar heavy duty bag.
I bought mine on EBay for $10 and I have loaded it to more than 200lb without problem.

So with good straps for my rings my “backpack/take anywere gym” costs $85. Not bad.
It weighs in at 15lb, so it’s a nice weight to run with on your back.

Just remember that simple does not mean easy.

I will be describing a few of the workouts and technique in future posts.
So stay tuned.

Train for life

Potbelly fix and stronger deadlifts.

Many have a problem with their belly protruding (sticking out) even when in single digit bodyfat.
My gut would stick out and it bothered me to no end.
I did crunches, leglifts and planks and a lot of them,
thinking my abs were weak and that I needed to tighten them up.

Then a few years ago I came across articles by Vince Gironda.
He stated that exercises like sit-ups and crunching did more damage than good,
even causing belly protrusion.
I, having mostly done crunches and sit-up type exercises with little result found this intriguing.

Exercises such as tummy vacuuming and frog crunches (not really a crunch) were the stable of his abs workout and he had a fantastic set himself to show for it.
Researching the mechanics of the movements I discovered more and more reasons for potbelly syndrome.

Having strong visible abs has very little to do with it as the deep abdominals that keep the tummy tight. Your posture can affect protrusion as well.
Forward tilting hips, causing lordosis are the main culprit along with a relatively weak upper back that will cause your shoulders to slump forward and chest drop down, pushing your belly out.

This is a very common problem today since everyone is sitting all day hunched over a keyboard or phone. The already strong hip flexors become shorter and the thorax weakens from inactivity.

Simply adding these exercises to the warm up
should quickly produce result:
face pulls, wall slides, band pull apart, hip mobility and stretching the hip flexors.

I also recomend doing the two exercises I describe below.
In my case my belly got flatter in about two weeks.
I also improved drastically in my squats and deadlifts due to a more stable core.

Tummy vacuuming: It strengthens your deep abs all around your midsection. Creating god’s weightbelt.
This video should get everyones attention. youtube.com/watch?v=slhc_d9MLSg

Horse stance: This is a stable in almost every martial art.
Take a wide stance and do a half squat, toes forward, hold that position and draw your bellybutton down into the pelvis, at the same time draw your anus up into the pelvis.
Hold for as long as possible and do a a few sets through the day.

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Train for life

Reaching your rep goal and anytime strength.

A while back I wanted to increase my strict pull-up max rep to from 16 to 25,
but it felt like I was stuck no matter what I did.
So I decided to experiment over the summer with a technique called
“Grease The Groove” I read about it in Christopher Sommers book
“Building the gymnastic body”.

What you do is you execute one set of reps
you can do with perfect form and do this 3-5 times a day.
Let’s say you max out at 10 reps, then you’ll do 8-9 reps each time.

So up to 5 times a day I would pump
out 13-15 reps and because I was fresh each time it wasn’t a problem.

I did this for two weeks, rested from pull-ups for five days and went for my PR.
I was amazed by the results. With only a 2 week effort I improved by more than 50%.
And being the clever guy I pretend to be I decided to see if this method would bring the same gains to my push-ups, pistols and dips. All my PR’s shot up by 40-50%, and now I will go the round again using a weighted west.

If you are new to training you can use this on a longer
timescale, up to four weeks. If you are experienced
I would keep it two weeks max, just to avoid stress injuries.
Since you could be doing up to 600 pullups a week.

What this does is it trains your neuromuscular pathways, i.e.
Muscle memory. Essentially it’s “Perfect Practice”.
So it could be applied to deadlifts, squats and Olympic
lifts as long as you use light loads, 30-40% of your max.

To me this is the essence of “get up and go” fitness,
being able to perform anytime.
Not only after a thorough warmup and grind on a lacrosse ball.

In line with this technique I have started to add heavy compound
exersices or a heavy dumbbell circuit after my strength routine.
For example after a full upper, lower or full body workout I would squat, deadlift or
C&J for 10-15 reps with 75-85% of my max.

Pushing through a heavy set like this when you are already fatigued
not only trains the body but gets you mentally tough.

Give this a try and build up some “anytime strength”.

Train for life

Dealing with a bad day

We all have a bad workout day.
A day were the bar just seems heavier then usual.
Most drudge through the haphazard workout and plan on making
up for it on the next one.

Next time it happens, try this.
Pick two large movements.
For example: Kettlebell or dumbbell swings
and some kind of deadlift variations.
Do a circuit and make short max (10 min) and intense.
You are more likely to crush the workout,
and you can be guilt free. Not that you should feel any.

Another thing I do is I note down my mood,
nutrition and sleep even weather.
And soon I can see why I am not up to the workout.
Now I can make conscious effort to avoid things that mess me up.

If you are having “bad workouts” frequently I suggest you do this.

Lack of sleep, being sick or injures are usually things out of our control.
You just have to roll with it.
BUT
Staying up late to watch TV, eating crappy food, having a few drinks
or being stressed are all things you can actively avoid.

Now for the difficult part.

Ask your self.
Am I making up excuses and putting up mental barricades.

Oh it’s so gray outside and raining of course I’m tired.
It’s been a long day, it’s ok to take it easy.
It’s going to be a long day, I need to take it easy.

IT’S ALL TOTAL BULLSHIT!

If you need a restday take one, that’s fine but ALWAYS crush the workout.

Train for life

Choosing a trainer.

When choosing a trainer the inclination is,
“he’s ripped and fit he must be good”
He did it, he can teach me to do it, right.

Well the thing is that he could have great genetics.
Be naturally athletic and coordinated, meaning he learned
The movements fast and easy. And builds muscle easily.

And the truth is many personal trainers have no hands on experience
Training when they start, they pass a test and think now I have learned
All I need to learn.

I was one of them.

When people are natural at something they don’t go through
A learning phase, they acquire skill to easily.
and therefore have a hard time teaching the movements to “regular” people.
They never learned any teaching cues.

Make sure your trainer is someone who has worked
on his or her skill, that way he is better suited to teach it to others.
I found this out the hard way.

For me it was frustrating when I was trying to teach movements
In boxing and lifting.
I had learned by watching and doing.
Why can’t you. Arghhh!!!

The fix.

I finally realized this when coach deconstructed my movements,
he said “you learned to squat on your own didn’t you.
You do it well but it so instinctual that you can’t break it up into it’s basics”.

That’s it I thought, I learned a movement so easily that I
Expected everyone else to get it easily too.
That’s why I dove into Olympic lifts and kettle bell movements with different coaches.
Threw away my ego and started my schooling all over again.

Starting from scratch I learned all my lifts again taking in all the
teaching cues and developing my own on the way.
By now I had been training others for four years.

I now go on a regular basis to different coaches and start again.
With all my movements in both lifting and boxing.
I always take something new away from it
and it makes me a better coach.

If I get too comfortable with something I drop it for a while.
Then going to a coach and get him to teach it to me as if I was a novice.
It’s humbling and hard on the ego and necessary for everyone.

Stay away from “I know it all” people and certainly don’t become one.

Train for life