Tuesday, December 26, 2006

5 Steps to Success

Regardless of your chosen goals, here's a 5 step program to achieve your ultimate success.

1. Read
2. Listen
3. Associate
4. Teach
5. Repeat

Now let me clarify.

1. Read

Devote a minimum of 15 minutes per day to reading something positive (BTW, the newspaper is not positive). About 75% of what you see and hear during a day is negative. Feed your brain the good stuff. In addition, devote an hour a day to reading something related to your primary goals. It could be business-related, fitness-related, or something from the self-improvement category.

2. Listen

I love my music, but I rarely listen to it in my car. Instead, my car is now a mobile university. Consider how much time you spend in your car on a daily basis. You consume a tremendous amount of information on your daily commute. Where you drive time was once wasted time, make it productive time. Listen to motivational speakers, sales training, business training, or fitness-related info.

3. Associate

Associate with people at your level or above. Now don't get me wrong here, I'm not putting people into classes or being a snob. It's a matter of making yourself better at what you do. Truth is that you'll become like the people you associate with. To progress in your personal development, you need to spend more time with those people who are where you would like to be. Like it or not, you may have friends and family that drag you down or hold you back. How do you find the people to help you move forward? Go to every seminar or conference you can afford. Introduce yourself and ask questions.

4. Teach

Once you have been recognized as achieving a level of competency within a specific arena, teach what you know to someone else. Not only will you be "paying it forward," you will find that you will learn more about what you know and yourself in the process.

5. Repeat

Repeat this entire process until your reach your goals and beyond.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Train like an athlete...Anywhere, Anytime

I recently got a chance to speak with Zach Even-esh (AKA The Underground Strength Coach)

We email back and forth, but it had been a long time since we had a chance to actually talk on the phone. Zach also happens to be one of the most enthusiastic guys you’ll ever meet. He’s probably never had a down day in his life.

If you don’t know Zach, he’s pretty well-known for training combat athletes, from wrestlers (including a prep national champion) to law enforcement officers to mixed martial artists, with what many would say are “Old School” methods.

Zach can put you through a killer workout using anything from just your body weight to heavy rocks, sandbags, or tires. All Zach needs is a playground or a picnic table (yes, a picnic table) and he can give anyone a productive and challenging training session.

If you’re someone who doesn’t think that old school works check out this photo of one of Zach’s clients.

After talking a bit with Zach, he asked me to contribute to one of his upcoming projects. (Note: this project is going to be huge. I mean huge. I’ve never seen someone literally give away so much information at one time) We ended up recording almost an hour of our conversation covering everything from energy systems training to injury prevention for combat athletes.

I mentioned my blog and felt that it was only fair that I turn the tables on Zach and have him provide me with “old school,” No B.S. methods that anyone can use to apply to their own training.

Bill: You're really well known for training combat athletes (wrestler's, MMA,etc.). How can the typical gym goer use the same conditioning methods toachieve their fitness goals?

Zach: Bill, this is a great question because the majority of people are not into the outdoor training regardless of their goals.

Here and there though, I go with my wife to her Health Club. As torturous as it is for me (read: Sarcasm!) I still find a way to get in an awesome workout, and it is primarily because I take my methods for combat athletes and utilize them in the traditional gym setting.

I utilize circuits and/or complexes with various tools: barbells, dumbbells, bodyweight, med ball and stability balls. I love the circuits because the pace is so high and intense which forces me to stay focused on the training and not get distracted by the other "stuff" going on around me.

If I have space I also incorporate jumping rope into my training which is awesome for the lower body and your aerobic or anaerobic system depending on how fast and explosive you jump.

For someone who wants to utilize a complex let's say with a barbell, not only have I experienced excellent benefits in conditioning but I have found that complexes add muscle as well. The constant reps add hypertrophy if utilized with a moderate weighted barbell.

Here is a simple complex someone can perform using a barbell, for 6 reps per movement:

1) bent leg deadlift
2) bent over row
3) hang clean and press (the clean is to be used for a more advanced individual)
4) back squat
5) shrugs

The beginner may only perform 1 set, the intermediate 2 sets and the advanced individual 3 sets of the barbell complex.

Not only is this great for conditioning and muscle growth, but it is also great for when someone is short on time. Nowadays, who isn't short on time?

A bodyweight circuit is equally challenging and can be performed almost anywhere. Try this one for a great workout:

** reps will vary on the pull-up/chin-up but we are aiming for 8 - 12 reps per movement on average when utilizing bodyweight exercises

1) recline body row or pull up / chin up
2) push up variation
3) squat jumps
4) reverse lunges
5) v ups

Again, 1 - 3 rounds can be performed. For our combat athletes we like to keep the general pace of the workout fairly high with incomplete recoveries. The more advanced someone is the more they can push the envelope with less rest time.

If someone is concerned that they will lose strength utilizing a lot of circuits and complexes then I must emphasize that training must vary, and using one method or tool too often leads to less of a physical response. But, this is certainly an excellent addition/variation to one's training programs.

If you want to incorporate strength into the same workout, begin the workout with a heavy lift, preferably a full body lift or a compound movement for the upper body. From there you can move on to a circuit or complex and get as creative as you want with these methods!

Thanks Zach. You can find Zach’s training programs here. I’d recommend you specifically checkout the Ultimate Combat Kit.


P.S. My friend Alwyn Cosgrove frequently states that many would prefer to posses the physiques of any of the top athletes but don’t understand that their physiques are the result of their specific type of training. Rather than training like an athlete they attempt to achieve the same physique with inferior methods in an attempt to train for aesthetics. Why not train just like an athlete instead?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


According to the Source Book for Teaching Science website (http://www.csun.edu/~vceed002/health/docs/tv&health.html) the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV a day. If you live to be 65 years old, that’s 9 years of your life that were spent watching TV.

9 years!!

What if instead of watching TV you spent that time reading all the resources from a specific topic? Why you’d be an expert in no time.

In nine years you could have received 2 college degrees or an undergraduate degree and graduated from med school.

What if you “sacrificed” one hour of TV for vigorous exercise every day? Do you think you may be able to rid your life of a few health concerns? Maybe fit in to those smaller clothes or actually develop those washboard abs?

How about just feeling better about yourself?

The possibilities are truly endless when you see how much of your LIFE is wasted by watching too much TV.

Kick the habit.


P.S. While I’m on the subject, I think the local news should be removed from the airwaves. I caught a few minutes of it the other night (I don’t usually watch the news or read the newspaper anymore. If something important happens, don’t worry, someone will tell you about it) and they were reporting on stories that weren’t even local issues. WHY?!

Why does the local weather report have to take 10 minutes of my life just to find out whether I need to wear a coat tomorrow? Who gives a rat’s ass what the barometric pressure is. Does anyone ever sit around and say, “Whew, the barometric pressure sure is up today.” NO THEY DON’T! Here’s how easy it could be...

Weatherman: It’s going to be cold tomorrow, so wear a coat. Back to you Tony!

See how easy it is.

Thanks I feel better now.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Beginner's Mind

About 10 years ago, I studied TaeKwonDo under Grandmaster Choi. At the beginning of each class we were reminded of Kyum Son.

It means beginner’s mind.

All too often we enter into a situation with preconceived notions or limited thinking. Our brain tends to store information into our predetermined filing system. Judgement is passed too quickly and potential opportunity to expand our knowledge or physical potential is lost.

The only way to be better today than you were yesterday is to be open to different and perhaps better ideas or methods or application of those methods. Certainly, you don’t want to ignore that which you have already learned and experienced and blindly accept what the next great “guru” has to offer. Simply be willing to consider each bit of information or new experience as a possibility.

Kyum Son.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

12 Days of Fitness

Hey, if you've been waiting to by a book, DVD, or other product from your favorite fitness expert, I don't think I'd be waiting much longer.

If fact, you can get some of the best deals around with some pretty significant discounts by going here:

12 Days of Fitness


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The 15 Minute Rule

“If you keep making that face it’ll stay that way.”

Maybe Mom was more correct than she knew.

From a health standpoint, I think posture may be the most ignored component of them all (okay, maybe diet ranks up there too).

Poor posture limits your ability to breathe (not like that's important, right?), promotes overuse injuries, creates muscle imbalances, and results in back pain just to name a few.

Without an ongoing awareness of your posture on a daily basis, you can expect it progressively adapt to whatever shape you spend most of your time in. For instance, if you sit all day at a computer, you can expect to be shaped like the chair you sit in with a rounded back, rounded shoulders, and a forward head position.

Pretty, huh?

The processes that cause this progressive and undesirable adaptation in our posture are called stress-relaxation and creep.

Stress-relaxation is a progressive decline in the natural tension that tissues produce when placed under tension. When the tissues are held under constant tension for a long enough time, they begin to deform and elongate. This called creep. This becomes a relatively permanent elongation unless the tension is removed from the tissues before creep occurs.

You see gravity works.

It pulls down on you all day and as you relax your muscles and the tissues are exposed to that pull of gravity, stress-relaxation and creep will occur within about 10-20 minutes if you don’t change position.

Your strategy to overcome this is the 15 Minute Rule.

Every 15 minutes to need to make an active postural correction and even better, change positions entirely. For instance, if you’ve been sitting, stand. If you’ve been slouching, sit as tall as possible. You may also want to perform some corrective stretching for about 15 seconds on key muscle groups that are prone to shortening.

Most common are the muscles that internally rotate the shoulders (pecs, lats, subscapularis), downwardly rotate your shoulder blades (levator scapulae, rhomboids), and flex the knee and the hip (TFL, psoas, iliacus, rectus femoris, and hamstrings).

The 15 Minute Rule is so important that when we designed our upper body performance training video Inside-Out we felt it imperative to include daily postural correction strategies that lead to upper extremity injuries and declines in performance.

So I guess Mom WAS right in a sense…and, uh, eat your vegetables.


P.S. My good buddy Mike Robertson gave me the following little tidbit of information. In Microsoft Outlook you can set an alarm to go off every 15 minutes to remind you to correct your posture. If you don’t use Outlook, go to Wal-Mart and buy a $20 watch with a count down timer on it and set it for 15 minutes.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Become a great fighter or just look like one

I had a great weekend.

I got to watch a bunch of guys knock the piss out of each other in front of a rabid, cheering crowd from ringside (actually it was octagon side).

It was Mixed Martial Arts at its best…well almost.

Don’t get me wrong. There were some good fights and some good fighters (anyone that gets in that octagon has balls), but I’d have to say that my pre-fight winner predictions were at least 90% correct all night long.

I realize that a more skillful fighter will most likely defeat a less skillful fighter on most occasions, and there was certainly no way I could have identified the more skillful fighter simply on the walk up to the octagon and besides most of the fighters were matched well on win-loss records.

So how could I be so accurate?

Form follows function.

In other words, the best conditioned fighter won on almost all occasions.

I can understand how many of the fighters probably neglected their conditioning needs in favor of skill training for fear, based on their lack of experience, that they wouldn’t be prepared in that department.

In most cases, these guys are working a regular, physical job (one fighter I talked to does back-breaking concrete work, yikes!) and then hit the gym 5-6 days per week for training.

Now sure they’re doing a lot of specific conditioning as part of their training and most likely performing timed rounds, but in a lot of cases, the activities are too low in intensity or they are self-limited in effort which is totally unlike a real MMA battle. There’s no let down or you’ll go down.

What they don’t realize is that in about 20 minutes, twice a week, they can raise their energy system conditioning to a much higher level without seriously impacting their skill work.

Here’s the great thing for the guys and gals who just want to look good.

You can use the same concepts to burn fat faster than traditional “go one speed on the treadmill for 30 minutes” type of aerobic training.

For instance, in the top selling female transformation book ShapeShift, I used 2 basic methods of energy system training for my example client who made an amazing transformation: body weight circuits and barbell complexes.

All you need to do is select a series of exercises, or complex, and perform them back to back for either time or repetitions; rest based on the desired outcome, and then repeat the complex for a specified number of sets.

For example, here’s a body weight complex:

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds:

Jumping Jacks
Burpies (AKA squat thrust)
Alternating Lunges
Body weight squats

Rest 2.5 minutes and repeat 3-4 times

Here’s a barbell complex (this is a great one because barbell placement for each exercise ends where the next begins:

Deadlift x 6-8
Hang Clean x 6- 8
Front squat x 6-8
Push Press x 6-8
Back squat x 6-8
Good Morning x 6-8

Rest the same amount of time it took to complete the complex and repeat 3-4 times

Not only did you just train every muscle in your body, but you cranked up your fat burning furnace to the maximum.

If you’re a fighter or grappler of any kind or if you just want to look like the best conditioned combat athlete around, you need to approach your training with science and experience on your side.

Two products that I’d consider for your essentials list are Alwyn Cosgrove’s Martial Arts Package and Jason Furruggia’s Tap Out: Strength and Conditioning for Combat Sports. Both these guys have a reputation for transforming bodies and building great combat athletes.