Category Archives: Physical Fitness

Fit Enough to Fight

Fit Enough to Fight

Here’s what you need to know…

• There are 6 trainable qualities you need to possess to win a fight: strength, power, mobility, conditioning, injury resistance, and toughness.
• Developing the kind of strength, athleticism, and work capacity to survive a savage brawl requires a multifaceted approach.
• Targeting your weaknesses is key.

In a worst case scenario, would you be physically and mentally ready to fight to save yourself or someone else? What qualities would you need to survive? Here’s what you’d need:
Strength: There’s no substitute for absolute strength. Strength is the quality that prepares the body for the development of all others: power, speed, conditioning, etc.
Power: Power is strength expressed quickly. Power’s quick expression demonstrates strength when it counts, when we need to smash.
Mobility: Strength and power are the foundational qualities that make a monster, but they’re potency is tied to movement. Move poorly and your strength and power are moot.
Conditioning: Displaying strength and power is pivotal, but if you’re only able to do it once before you have to take a nap and an ice bath, you’re not useful.
Injury Resistance: Strength is still king, but does a 400-pound bench press mean much if your biceps pops like a rotted rubber band when you throw a punch? You’re not an effective human being if every activity performed without a barbell injures you.
Toughness: You’ve heard the phrase “mental toughness” a million times. But is there any kind of toughness other than mental toughness? Sure, there’s body resilience, but it shares an intimate relationship with our conscious ability to deal with pain, discomfort, and other less than optimal circumstances.
Has your training successfully delivered on the above qualities? If not, you may need to drastically change your methods. You need a program designed for what I call barbell savagery.

The Methods

Barbell savagery is simple, and it begins with strength.
Pick two lifts that you want to be great at and train them every time you step in the weight room. The intensity of these lifts will be relatively low, around a 6 or 7 on the 1-10 rate of perceived exertion scale (RPE). With these lifts you’ll learn tension, build skill, and improve proprioception.
Those lifts are followed with two more big barbell lifts that are loaded more intensely. On upper-body days you’ll press and row. On lower-body days you’ll squat and deadlift.
All of these lifts, main or assistance, are loaded at an intensity of 8 RPE. The volume is low as building devastating strength levels doesn’t require outrageous volume. Instead, it requires focused and intense volume. Maximal force production requires loads at or above 80 percent, so we’re loading these lifts up.
The key with these lifts is picking the ones that work for you. Squatting jacks me up so I don’t do it, but I do two different deadlift variations per week. Find what works for you, do it hard, and do it often.
Smashing Power: Whether it’s to train a stronger deadlift, punch a guy’s neck sideways, or hit the tight-end so hard his dog dies, we develop power to smash. Like strength, power is simple. Choose the right tools, with the right loads, and then demonstrate violence.
The list of tools isn’t expansive: Olympic lifts, jumps, sprints, throws. Pick the ones that work well for you and do them with speed and intent. Intent, though, is the master. Demonstrations of power begin with a conscious decision. In that instance you’re the baddest man on the planet and nothing can stop you.
If you can’t Olympic lift, do loaded jumps. If sprinting is out of the question, jump. I don’t know of anyone who can’t throw. My favorite combo is an Olympic lift from the hang and a med-ball throw. For nasty power, this is my go-to.
Mobility Through Statics and Movement: As humans there are certain movement competencies we should all meet. We should all be able to roll, skip, and crawl. The toughest competency of all, though, is holding still.
There are thousands of specific joint mobilizations and stretches you could learn, but instead we’ll use iso-extreme holds to improve mobility and stability (more on this later). This way we’ll build competency with basic human movements. Do each with consistency and you’ll move and feel better than you ever have in your adult life.
Consistent Conditioning: Conditioning makes killers. I’ve talked at length with rugby players and mixed martial artists about conditioning – two groups of athletes that play sports that require sustained output and work through pain – and they all say the best way to win is to be in better shape than your opponent. If you’re sucking wind and thinking about the burn in your legs you won’t be inflicting damage.
It’s helpful to think of conditioning as intensity built upon work capacity. Your aerobic capacity allows you to recover between bouts of intensity. Some bouts, of course, last longer than others. For sporting athletes, conditioning is specific to their task. The modern savage, however, needs general conditioning.
Strength and power training aid in developing intensity, but certain conditioning is necessary to bridge the gap between the energy systems. We’ll build that bridge with high-intensity anaerobic finishers.
Recovery Priorities: Moving well with strength is an injury prevention protocol unto itself. Making recovery a priority, however, is paramount. Improve soft-tissue quality with good nutrition, self myofascial strategies, and plenty of water. Fill your bathtub with ice and cold water a few times per week and take a dip for ten minutes.
Injuries limit training potential. Doing the little things to prevent them is worth the extra time.
Toughness in Training: If you’ve never been exposed to iso-extreme holds you’re about to be baptized by muscular fire. They burn, bad. Fifteen seconds into a set and you’ll start questioning your whole world.

Barbell Savagery Template

I’m offering a template, not a complete prescription, because I have no idea what you need to display barbarity. What I’ll offer is a comprisal of the qualities that develop a savage. It’s up to you to determine what you need. Here are a few simple screens to help your decisions.
Can’t deadlift two times your body weight? 
Can’t broad jump eight feet? 
Can’t touch your toes? 
Can’t run a mile without stopping? 
Can’t hold an iso-lunge for a minute without taking a break? 
It might be that you need to develop all these qualities or just a couple. If you’re still confused about where to start, improve your mobility and get stronger. Development of all qualities remains in your program; the proportions change dependent on needs.


Here’s a warm-up you can do before every training session, regardless of what qualities you’re developing. It’s mobility and movement competency condensed into a hard 10 minutes.

Exercise Sets Reps
Iso-Lunge Hold 1 1 min.*
Turkish Get Up 1 2**
Kettlebell/Dumbbell Swing 1 10
Bear Crawl 1 20 yd.
Ankle Rocks (ankle mobility) 1 8*
Iso-Push-Up Hold 1 1 min.
Vertical Jump 1 6
Weighted Cossack Squat 1 5*
Power Skip 2 5*
Side Shuffle 2 10 yd.**
Wideouts 2 5 sec.

If you’ve never seen an iso-lunge or iso-push-up hold before, here’s what they look like:



Exercise Sets Reps RPE Rest
A Iso-Push-Up Hold 1 5 min.* **
B1 Hang Olympic Lift or Loaded Jump 3-5 3-5 1 min.
B2 Med-Ball Throw or Upper-Body Plyo 3-5 3-5 1 min.
C1 Deadlift or Squat 3-5 3-5 6-7 1 min.
C2 Bench Press or Overhead Press 3-5 3-5 6-7 1 min.
D1 Bench Press or Overhead Press 3-5 3-5 8
D2 Bear Crawl variation 3-5 10-20 yd. 2-3 min.
E Row 3-5 5-8 7-8 1 min.
F Finisher***


Exercise Sets Reps RPE Rest
A Iso-Lunge Hold 1 5 min.* **
B1 Hang Olympic Lift or Loaded Jump 3-5 3-5 1 min.
B2 Med-Ball Throw or Upper-Body Plyo 3-5 3-5 1 min.
C1 Deadlift or Squat 3-5 3-5 6-7 1 min.
C2 Bench Press or Overhead Press 3-5 3-5 6-7 1 min.
D1 Squat or Deadlift 3-5 3-5 8
D2 Bear Crawl variation 3-5 10-20 yd. 2-3 min.
E Squat or Deadlift 3-5 5-8 7-8 1 min.
F Finisher***

Work Capacity

Choose activities that you like for this. You can push a Prowler or your car. You can do bodyweight exercise circuits or play with kettlebells. Ride your bike if you want to. All that matters is you keep your heart rate between sixty and seventy-five percent of max beats per minute for 30-45 minutes.
If your work capacity sucks – i.e., any seemingly low-intensity activity shoots your heart rate above 120 – then do a few sessions per week. Just need maintenance? Hit one or two sessions per week on off days. If you so choose, you can trade work capacity training in for a finisher.


Finishers are about intensity. Now is the time to imagine that you’re in a fight to the death. With intensity in mind, the possibilities for constructing an effective finisher are vast.
Each set should have you working for 15 seconds up to 1 minute. Rest depends on your fitness level and goals, but you’ll do well to rest for as long, or twice as long, as the time the set took you. Examples:

Barbell Complexes

These aren’t new, but are you doing them? Think of them as the flurry of punches that finishes a fight in the second round. You can do them for time or reps. Here’s a solid example:

For this complex, choose a weight that you can easily overhead press 10 times.

Dumbbell Complexes

Dumbbell complexes follow the same vein as barbell complexes, but because they’re unilateral they require twice the volume. They don’t require the same intensity as a barbell complex, but the volume increase adds a little nasty to the flavor. It also makes them great for sustaining output. Think to yourself, “My initial assault didn’t go as planned, now I have to keep pounding.” Keep the intensity up; don’t slow down. Example:

For this complex, choose a dumbbell that you can easily overhead press 10 times.

Movement Medleys

Use your bodyweight and move with speed and power. The key is intensity. Every movement is done as forcefully, and as quickly, as possible. Example:

The key with movement medleys is to not let your movement go to hell just because you’re going fast and you’re tired. Go as fast as you can while moving well.

Return to the Isos

Here’s the simplest finisher of all – the iso-lunge. Hold it for 5 minutes, with intermittent breaks, and you’ll learn a lot about yourself and elicit a huge metabolic cost in the process.

Savagery is a Mindset

The best exercises and configurations in the world aren’t worth squat if you do them half-assed. It’s the intent that makes a savage.
That intent is focus – deciding that you want to be more than some dork that pushes pencils and keeps up with reality TV. That intent is a relentless assault on the mediocrity most men embrace. While the training is physical, what it produces is internal. Savagery is a mindset.

Train Like a Man 5: The Real Paleo Exercise

Real Paleo Exericise

Whenever I hear that little nugget of cheese-ball inspiration, I want to throw up, because it’s usually said by some sloth that never reached his goals and he’s just trying to make sure you stay in no rush to reach yours.
I don’t know when exactly sprinting through life and achieving one goal after the next became a bad thing, but have no fear, I’ll address humanity’s aversion to sprinting throughout this article.
Our solar system hurtles around the galaxy at 450,000 mph, so our time here on this rock we call Earth (which is circling the sun at 70,000 miles an hour), in comparison to eternity is less than a blink of an eye.
The way I see it, life is an all-out sprint – and we should attack it that way.
So then what’s with the distance approach to cardio? I hear people say all the time that they entered a 10k or a marathon to get “in shape.” Is that so? I’m tempted to have these folks stand in front of a full-length mirror and ask them what shape were they looking for exactly?
If it’s extra slender, pencil-necked, and endomorphic, then I’ll condone the distance work. If they say, however, that the shape they seek is lean, muscular, and mesomorphic, then they’re barking up the wrong tree.
Furthermore, if I have one more distance-junkie proudly brag about the doctor visits, MRIs, or therapy they’re using to recover from their jogging or ultra-marathon, I’ll be forced to buy a big bat and carry it with me.
You’re proud of being injured, huh? So if I smack you in the knees with the bat and produce an injury, are you still proud? Or then are you just a masochist? Maybe such drastic measures are what it takes for you to realize that pain doesn’t equal productivity, and that you’ve been chasing the wrong dog – and way too slowly at that.

Enjoyment Versus Results

Real Paleo Exericise
I understand that (unfortunately) many of us need something to drive us and get us moving besides the ultimate fact that training will help you live longer. And I understand that some people may simply enjoy distance jogging and/or be genetically suited for this style of training. I’m not here to argue either of those things.
The purpose of this article is to argue in favor of the benefits of sprinting. And interestingly enough, whether you like jogging or are naturally skinny or slow, you can still benefit from this all-powerful training medium.
Don’t think we need this argument? Then explain why most people stop sprinting by high school. Explain why most parents tell their children to stop running and slow down.
Plain and simple, besides the Olympic 100-meter final, sprinting gets much less love than distance work. Whether it’s the marketing of jogging gear, the social aspect of distance events, or the fact that “No Pain, No Gain” is imbedded into the average training psyche, you’re sure to see more people walking and jogging at your local track than to see them sprinting short portions of it, resting, and repeating.
In a world slowly being taken over and dominated by brightly colored equipment tools and fancy programming, we’ve forgotten to use the most important piece of equipment we were given, our body. And we’ve definitely forgotten to use it the way it was designed – to sprint.

Why Do We Run Marathons?

Real Paleo Exericise
In Train Like a Man Part 4, I suggested that if Baron Pierre de Coubertin loved American folklore instead of Greek tragedy, perhaps we’d have millions of people lining up to test themselves in the 100 meter instead of 26 miles.
If our hero was a steel drivin’ sprinter, rather than a solitary noncombatant whose chosen pursuit literally ran him – and millions of poor souls centuries later to follow – into the ground, just perhaps the world and its view of fitness would be different.
In all the emails I’ve ever received, I don’t think I’ve ever received anything from a recreational athlete telling me they’re entering a 100-meter dash.
Why? Because it’s not okay to suck in a sprint.
If you jog – especially if you enter a marathon – it’s okay to be mediocre. By contrast, it’s decidedly not okay to suck at sprinting.
Show up to an actual race and take thirty seconds to run 100 meters and you’re absolutely exposed for the world to see. Suck at sprinting in the wild, and you’re somebody’s dinner.
Suck at the marathon, on the other hand, and they’ll hand you a juice box and a medal, even if you come in last.

The Paleo Idea

Real Paleo Exericise
Add speed and power to any movement and the body changes. Look at a sprinting athlete versus a distance athlete. Large, developed muscles are the norm on just about any athlete involved in sprinting.
So why does this happen? You could cite the activation of the larger fast twitch fibers in sprinting or how cutting weight and losing muscle improves distance performance, but what about the “why” behind how sprinters look leaner and more muscular from seemingly much less work?
I have an interesting theory using the popular Paleo concept.
No one thinks twice about applying the Paleo concept to eating, but what about its application to movement? In terms of body development, sprinting is the ultimate Paleo exercise – and perhaps many of the problems we face today as a society are because this movement is no longer used during most peoples’ daily routine.
(Granted, like all Paleo arguments, this is mere speculation. Were we meat eaters or vegetarians? Were we distance runners or sprinters? Until we invent a time machine, we’ll just continue to enjoy the brainstorming and debate, but it’s still interesting to speculate.)

The TFW Lock-And-Key Mechanism of Sprinting

Real Paleo Exericise
When I address groups of people, I ask them if they think ingesting 1000 calories of junk food has the same effect on the body as ingesting 1000 calories of fruits and vegetables.
Without fail, according to the Paleo dogma, every attendee answers the same way – they believe that a calorie isn’t just a calorie. So in terms of energy intake, most people agree that due to the way the human body was designed and has evolved, there are particular foods that can act as keys and unlock specific pathways to either promote health (muscle gain, fat loss, etc.), or allow detrimental effects (diabetes, cancer, heart disease) when those proper pathways aren’t accessed.
Well if we can all agree on energy intake, I’m confused why people rarely discuss caloric output in the same manner? If there’s an optimal input mechanism of calories to achieve optimal health, what about an optimal output mechanism?
If muscle growth, fat loss, and health are what you’re after, I argue that sprinting may be the key that no one’s using – because those thousand calories you’re burning when you jog aren’t nearly the same as when you burn them off at a sprint. Not even close.
That’s because when you jog, you’re not using your body the way it’s designed to be used. That’s what sprinting is for. I mean, why have an Achilles tendon if we’re supposed to run on our heels? Why have huge glutes if we’re supposed to simply jog monotonously and see how long we can last?
Is the reason we have big traps because we’re supposed to act as perpetual motion machines for the better part of five hours at a time? And why the hell are our quads so big if we’re just supposed to pound them with muscle-eating eccentrics from jogging? It makes no sense to me, and it shouldn’t make any to you, either.

Sprinting: The Real Measure Of Fitness

Real Paleo Exericise
Distance jogging makes your lifts go down. Your muscle mass decreases and you have to accept it. On the other hand, sprinting mandates that you get your numbers higher to complement it.
To lower your marathon time, you need to get out and log miles, cut weight (including muscle), and get ready for pain. To lower your time in the 100-meter sprint you need to get strong, pack on muscle, lose fat, and get in some explosive, technical workouts.
So if you want to run faster, you have to do a few things:

  • You have to increase your relative body strength, so you have to get stronger for the amount you weigh. You can accomplish this by adding muscle or losing fat, or both.
  • You have to improve your sprint technique. This will be done through technical work, which will improve coordination. Here you may recognize specific areas in which to improve strength while developing muscular endurance specific to sprinting. And this is where my next article will focus.

So, to review, sprint training involves improvements in speed, strength, diet, endurance, coordination, and flexibility. Sounds a whole lot like fitness to me. To top it off, sprinting will also help any marathon runner. Too bad the opposite isn’t true.
But before you fans of distance running fire off your emails defending your chosen sport, I’m not saying that elite distance athletes aren’t impressive in terms of time Ð I’m saying they’re usually not impressive in terms of physique.
A guy that can run an under 5-minute mile pace for 26 miles is impressive in ability, no doubt, but he’s probably not concerned with having bigger arms or legs, or is even reading T Nation for that matter.
My Train Like a Man articles are for guys concerned about building mass, getting strong, and being able to clean clocks. And if I have to scrap, I’ll choose to battle the jogger over the sprinter every time.
Now that I’ve made a case for sprinting, Train Like a Man 6 will cover one of the muscle groups that will benefit most from this exercise.

Physical Fitness Providing New Options in Cancer Treatment Programs

Everyone knows that being overweight or obese comes with aton of negative health consequences, from symptoms like gastrointestinal refluxand fatigue to chronic disease. Exercise is the number one way to preventobesity and gain numerous other benefits. A growing number of doctors arefinding in research the evidence that exercise is not only great preventivemedicine but it also aids in the treatment of chronic diseases. Physical fitnessprograms have been used to combat osteoporosis and heart disease to goodeffect, and cancer research organization have funded several explorations intothe possible benefits of physical fitness training for cancer patients of alltypes.
When is Exercise Most Important for Cancer Patients?
It has long been realized that cancer survivors will benefitfrom regular exercise, be it walking or some other form of aerobics. Newinformation shows that the benefits extend to every stage of treatment as well.Obviously, there are some types of treatment that contraindicate the use ofsome forms of exercise. High-impact aerobics would be a poor choice for bonecancer patients, and those undergoing mesothelioma treatmentmay be unable to stand up on their own, much less go for the recommendedminimum 20-minute walks.
This limitations are the basis for the push to get physicalfitness experts included on all cancer treatment teams. The benefits are justtoo important to be seen as an alternative therapy any more. Chemotherapy, forinstance, is known to cause changes in appetite, rapid weight changes, andfatigue. Whether the prognosis is positive or poor for the patient, supervisedexercise can be performed safely to eliminate or reduce these symptoms. for this reason, exercise isimportant for all patients, because it improves the quality of life.Additionally, it has been shown to make some forms of treatment moresuccessful.
Importance of the Type and Amount of Exercise
Besides the need to maintain patient safety, the type ofexercise is important for other reasons as well. The primary problem seen ingetting patients physically fit is ensuring that the exercise program continuesregularly. The benefits accrue over continued training, so it is vitallyimportant to seek out physical fitness routines that are enjoyable for thepatient. Limitations in movement following surgery, or for terminal patients,can mean strict prescriptions on exercise, but other patients should explorewhat they enjoy. Water aerobics, yoga, dance and even weight training are allpossibilities.
The amount of exercise needed to realize benefits isdependent on the current status of the patient. Studies show that even aminimal amount is beneficial, and the key is tailoring the routine to theindividual. Seek out a cancer clinic with personal trainers who specialize incancer exercise.


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