Sandbag Bear Complex Carry Work Capacity Training

Here’s a quick sandbag session from yesterday.

This is a great one you can sneak in throughout the day as it takes less than 10 minutes.

All you’re going to do is a Bear Complex (power clean/front squat/push press/back squat/push press) for ten rounds, with a 100-meter sandbag carry after each back squat.

That’s ten rounds of the Bear Complex with 1km sandbag carry.

Simple and effective.

Throw it in throughout your day, do it as a quick workout before a meal, or make it a full session and hit it for multiple rounds.

Enjoy!

Protect the Primary: Part 2

In Protect the Primary: Part 1, I discussed my main goal through the Covid-19 crisis. Right now, keeping my kids happy, healthy, growing, and engaged is priority number one.

Using David Goggin’s definition from “Living With a SEAL“, my kids are my “primary”.

And I’m going to protect them through this situation.

The thing is, though, I’m not sure what this situation is exactly. I’m not sure when it started. I’m not sure when we’ll be able to say “it’s over”.

And, I’m not sure what the world looks like down the road.

I struggle to see everything going “back to normal” in a few weeks, though. Or even a few months.

Businesses are closed. Jobs have been lost. People everywhere will be struggling even after we’re free to leave our homes again.

Our lives have been permanently changed. And making sure my kids are ready for whatever is coming is of the utmost importance to me.

They need to be confident, mentally fit, and always growing if they’re going to succeed.

And so, right now, on the surface, I’m the fun dad keeping his kids happy. Reading with them. Providing them with math sheets and coloring books. Working on life skills with them. Making the most of the situation.

Behind closed doors, though, I’m doing more to protect my primary.


This situation isn’t going to change any time soon. We can’t pretend that it is.

People are already reaching a whole new level of crazy and, from what I’ve seen and heard, the worst is yet to come.

When you see hockey arenas used as makeshift morgues in other countries, it shines a different light on the situation.

I’m concerned with what’s going to happen when people have been out of work for a few months and start to lose loved ones.

The world seems crazy now, but it may just be the start.

I don’t know if what I’m doing is right – Should I be helping my kids with math, or teaching them to hunt?

There’s no way of knowing what the ‘right’ thing to do here is. We went from preparing for flag football, soccer, and track season to… whatever this is.

Schools, gyms, restaurants, and everything between have shut down. And we have no idea for how long. Unemployment is going through the roof. It’s impossible to tell if small businesses will be able to survive this.

According to economist Tyler Cowen, there are some industries that likely won’t recover.

If your lease payments are $10,000 per month and you can’t bring in any revenue, well, that’s a tough hurdle to jump over. Never mind having to pay employees and put food on your own table.

So, yea, the world is nuts right now.

But it might just get worse.


Zach Even-Esh told a story on the Order of Man podcast last year about having to lug a huge generator around after Hurricane Sandy hit. The power was out for a couple of weeks and people were coming from all over to steal generators out of people’s yards.

That’s right, people resorted to looting after two weeks without power.

At midnight each night, Zach would wake up, go outside, and lug the heavy generator inside the house so it wouldn’t be stolen. Then, at 4 am, he’d haul it back out and fire it up so the house would warm-up and his family would have power when they woke up.

This is not something a normal person can or would do.

This is something an able person does to protect their primary.


99% of people who “go to the gym” wouldn’t be able to wrestle with something as big and heavy as a generator. Nor would they have the mental toughness to wake up twice each night to move it.

But Zach did.

And, to protect his primary, he went through this routine every night.

It’s a cute story. But I believe this is exactly the type of stuff we need to be training for.

Forget trail races and strength competitions. If we want to truly protect our primaries through all this, we need to be able to do it all.

We have to be strong. We need to be fast. We must have the ability and mental fortitude to do whatever it takes for as long as necessary.

We need to change who we are and how we train.

I hate to be all gloom and doom, but there’s a real chance that grocery stores shut down. There will be problems with supply chains and logistics. Employees might just stop showing up for work.

And, believe it or not, your food doesn’t magically appear on the shelves. A lot of work goes into getting it there.

Can you imagine a world where everyone’s on their own for food? As in, can’t even go to the store for milk and bread?!

That’s terrifying. We’re not ready for that.

I know, highly unlikely. But two months ago no one could imagine the world we’re currently living in.

If you had to fend for yourself and feed your family, could you?

Could you keep them safe and sheltered?

Would you have the physical resiliency and mental fortitude to do whatever it took to protect your primary?

If not, it may be a good time to start training for it.


In Pavel Tsatsouline’s “Kettlebell Simple and Sinister“, he describes a challenge set forth by Dr. Fred Hatfield.

The challenge is to carry twenty 100-pound beer kegs up to a pub’s second floor as fast as possible.

Who would win this challenge – an elite marathoner with unmatched aerobic conditioning, or a powerlifter who can lift a car off the ground?

Both of these individuals clearly have strengths, but each also has a huge gap in their abilities.

The marathoner has the lungs for the challenge, but does he have the strength? Could he even lift a keg off the floor?

The powerlifter would have no problem tossing the keg up on his shoulder, but does he have the lungs to do it 100 times? Could he get up the stairs even once without gasping for air?

Hard to say.

Completing this challenge would require high levels of both strength and conditioning. It would require the ability to lift and carry something heavy over and over again.

To succeed in this keg challenge would require a high amount of Work Capacity.


Work Capacity is the ability to do work. To take on a difficult task and repeat it.

And, should the world get much crazier than it currently is, Work Capacity is going to be key to surviving, thriving, and protecting our primaries.

Chopping wood. Hauling heavy loads. Picking things up when they crash down.

Hard, repetitive manual labor in a stressful, imperfect environment. These are things we need to be ready for.

*Cue the cliche!* – Building Work Capacity is simple, but it’s not easy.

It requires doing uncomfortable things for a long period of time.

Things like dragging tires and carrying sandbags. Rucking, crawling and loaded carries of all types are incredible ways to increase our Work Capacity.

We can build our Work Capacity with rocks, hills, or kettlebells. Anything, really.

The beauty of Work Capacity training is that the only thing limiting you is your imagination.

Do something uncomfortable. Then keep doing it.


If you’ve been following my Instagram feed or stories at all, you may have noticed I’ve been doing a lot of training lately.

Two or three sessions per day have become common practice.

Most of these sessions are short. A ten-minute hangboard practice. Twenty minutes of tire dragging. Random loaded carries thrown in throughout the day.

These added sessions are never too difficult. They aren’t there to leave me out of breath, sweaty, and useless.

These short sessions, done without a warm-up, are helping me get comfortable being uncomfortable. They’re helping me be ready for anything at any time.

These are the training sessions that will help someone haul a huge generator in and out of the house twice a night.

These are the training sessions that will help you haul 100 beer kegs upstairs if need be.

These are the training sessions that will help me protect my primary.


Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a lunatic who thinks the world is coming to an end.

I don’t want to see the world resort back to the stone age, and there’s a strong likelihood it doesn’t happen. But at the same time, there was a strong likelihood my kids would both be in school right now.

Yet here we are.

The world isn’t what we thought it was just a few weeks ago. It’s changing hourly and there’s no way of knowing what the future holds.

The only thing I’m sure of is that big arms and a beach body aren’t going to be of much use if things get worse.

And no matter what goes down over the next few months, I will continue to train hard, prepare for anything, and do whatever it takes to protect the primary.

Protect the Primary: Part 1

One of my favorite books is Jesse Itzler’s “Living With a SEAL“. It’s hilarious, motivating, and full of memorable stories and lessons.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read it.

There’s a part in the book where SEAL (a.k.a. David Goggins), gifts Jesse and his family a fifty-pound backpack that turns into an inflatable raft. Bewildered by the strange gift, Jesse asks what it’s for.

SEAL replies, “It’s your escape vehicle out of Manhattan”

He explains that if “some 9/11 shit happens again”, Jesse and his family can take the raft and row to New Jersey for safety.

I’m sure the Itzler’s have never used it. But if they ever had to, it’s there waiting for them.

This is a perfect example of the type of “Asymmetrical Risks” Dan John is always preaching.

As crazy as it seemed at the time, Jesse eventually understands.

He sees that SEAL was just doing his job.

SEAL was protecting the primary.


“Say, SEAL,” I say. “What would you do if there was an intruder in the house?”

Slowly SEAL turns and looks at me. He holds me with an even, unemotional stare. Then he turns back to the TV without answering my question.

“No, really,” I say. “What would you do?”

He shakes his head slowly.

“I think you know what I’d do,” he says to the TV.

“Tell me.”

“I would protect the primary.”

“What’s the primary?”

“That’s the million-dollar question,” he says. “What is your primary, Jesse? What would hurt you the most to lose? This big-screen TV? Those gold record awards you own? Jewelry? Cash? What do you hold most dear”?

“No,” I say. “None of that.”

“Well?” he asks.

“My wife and my son.”

“Exactly, Jesse,” he says.

Living With a SEAL, Jesse Itzler

I had three professional goals for the spring of 2020:

  • Start a podcast
  • Finish my next book
  • Create a weekly newsletter

After dedicating most of my time to training for GORUCK Selection last year, 2020 was going to be my year to expand what we do at Conviction Fitness.

But, Covid-19 changed everything.

For me, for you, and for everyone else in the world.

I work from home. I have for about seven years now. The house is quiet during the day and it’s easy for me to write, record, read, and learn.

My kids have been home with me for over ten days now, though. And the house is not quiet. It’s not easy for me to do much work at all.

I can’t lock myself in my office and hammer out these projects while the kids are at school as I had planned.

Growing my business, while important, is no longer my primary objective from 9 am – 3 pm every day.

It can’t be.


When this all started to go down, I sat with my kids and told them, “This is going to be awesome!”.

I told them all the fun we were going to have together. And how happy I was for the opportunity to spend so much time with them. They were both devastated to have lost school, sports, and their friends in one fell swoop.

It’s been my mission to keep them happy, healthy, growing, and engaged ever since.

Handing them an Xbox controller and working on my next book would be easy. And, I’m sure I could defend the choice if I had to – “Hey, a guy’s gotta work, right?”. But doing so wouldn’t be protecting my primary. Quite the opposite, really.

So, rather than burying myself in my work, I’ve been spending a ton of time with my kids. They need to feel safe and loved right now. Much more than I need to put out another book.

We’ve been reading more. Drawing and coloring. Playing catch. Riding bikes. Learning how to help out around the house. Walking the dog. And we even started doing daily Recess At Home workout videos together.

We’re making the most of the situation – having fun, learning, and growing.

And while I have internal moments of trying to figure out where we go from here, I’m doing everything I can to stay calm, cool, and collected for my kids.

They are my primary, after all.

How to Hit All the Basics With Bodyweight Training At Home

I’ve been there. Stuck at home or in a hotel with zero equipment, trying to get a workout in.

There’s no need to panic, though.

You can still hit the five fundamental human movements – push, pull, hinge, squat, and loaded carry – without any equipment.

Push

  • Planks
  • Wall push-ups
  • Push-ups
  • One-arm push-ups

Pull

  • Batwing planks
  • Batwings

Hinge

  • Glute bridge
  • One-legged glute bridge
  • Broad jump

Squat

  • Bodyweight squats
  • Lunges and lunge variations
  • Pistol or assisted pistol squats

Loaded Carry

  • Ruck
  • Naked get-ups
  • Get-ups with a shoe or cup of water

No equipment doesn’t necessarily mean no gains. These are just a few of the many options out there.

Keep pushing forward and train no matter what you’re stuck with (or without).

Five of My Favorite Single-Kettlebell Workouts

These workouts are short and sweet. But they work!

If you’re short on time and equipment, these workouts are a great way to get stronger, leaner, and much more fit. Throw one of these into your morning routine or pre-supper ritual, and you’ll see some major changes.

Just be sure to check with your doctor before starting this or any other workout program. And if you are not proficient with your form, please reach out to a professional coach who can help you perfect your technique and keep you safe!

Workout 1 – Goblet Squats and Hinges

This workout is great for people who are relatively new to kettlebell training. The “weighted hinge” in this workout will help you progress to the more advanced (and effective) kettlebell swing.

Give this one a try and you’ll quickly learn why it’s often dubbed the “Butt Blaster”.

That’s ten squats, ten hinges, nine squats, nine hinges, eight squats, eight hinges, all the way down to one of each. Do this without resting or putting the bell down between movements.

If the fifty-five squats and hinges weren’t enough, feel free to go through it twice.

Workout 2 – Abs and Glutes

If you’re looking for a solid core and butt workout, this is a great one to do.

Make sure you squeeze your glutes as hard as you can at the top of each deadlift and you’ll be sure to get the most out of this workout.

Rest as needed between exercises. If you want to progress this workout, add distance to the suitcase carries each session.

Workout 3 – Humane Burpee

Dan John introduced me to his “Humane Burpee” workout at the Russian Kettlebell Certification a few years ago. And, even as a fairly advanced kettlebell trainee, this is still one of my favorites.

If you’re ready to swing and want a full-body workout that gets your heart going, you can’t go wrong with the Humane Burpee

Try to do this without resting between movements. That’s 15 swings, 5 squats, 5 push-ups, 15 swings, 4 squats, 4 push-ups, etc. It isn’t going to take you long to complete the 75 swings, 15 squats, and 15 push-ups, but it will take a while to recover from.

If you’re really feeling good, try going for ten rounds, starting the squats and push-ups at 10 reps each and working down from there.

Workout 4 – Swings, Squats, and Horn Walks

Each round of this workout is going to take you about a minute to complete. Your heart rate can get pretty high during that minute. Don’t be afraid to rest a while between rounds.

Complete each round without putting the kettlebell down. Rest as needed between rounds and go for as many rounds as you feel comfortable with.

Workout 5 – Cardio Front Squats

This one will get your heart going.

And your legs.

The best way to do this workout is to switch hands each round. For example, you’ll start with 10 cleans and 5 front squats with the bell in your left hand, then do the same 10 cleans and 5 squats with the bell in your right hand. Switch the bell back to the left hand for your 8/4 round and so on.

Interested in more free workout ideas and kettlebell training tips? Join my email list below and we can keep in touch.
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The Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Start Your Home Gym With a Kettlebell

I’m lucky. I’ve got an amazing wife who’s allowed me to have two home gyms.

With two home gyms comes a lot of equipment to choose from. If I was starting over, though, the first piece of equipment I’d buy for my home gym is a kettlebell. And that’s for three main reasons for that:

1) Kettlebells require hardly any space to store or use.
2) Kettlebells (good kettlebells, that is) are seemingly indestructible.
3) There’s not much you can’t do with a kettlebell. With just a single kettlebell and six feet of space, you can get bigger and stronger, improve your conditioning and endurance, or even work on your mobility.

I’ve been doing this for over twenty years now and no tool comes close to the versatility of the kettlebell. As far as home gym investments go, it’s BY FAR the best bang for your buck.

Double Kettlebell Clean/Double Kettlebell Thruster 5×5 Complex

Looking for a fun way to spend 25 minutes?

Give this double kettlebell clean/double kettlebell thruster complex a shot!

Five double kettlebell cleans.
Five double kettlebell thrusters.
Five sets of each.
Without putting the bells down.

Then, rest 3-5 minutes and do it again!

Aim for three total rounds – 75 total cleans and thrusters.

I went with double 20 kg bells today and cut my second rest break short… As you can see, I paid for it at the 7-minute mark when my forearms completely blew up.

The Secret to a Good Kettlebell Swing – It’s in the Breath

Have you ever seen someone make a weird ‘hiss’ sound when swinging a kettlebell?

There’s a very specific reason for that.

What they’re trying to do is match their breathing pattern to their swing. Not only is this the safest way to swing, but it also ensures we get the most out of our efforts.

By powerfully exhaling at the top, we ensure our ability to create the proper amount of tension in that plank position.

With a sharp inhale at the bottom, and a powerful exhale at the top, matching one breath to one swing is the best way to train.

Fit Parents Have More Fun

This past Saturday, my nine-year-old son and I headed out in the early morning with our dog, Benji.

I, of course, had my ruck on.

The plan was to ruck to a small hill about a mile and a half away to do some hill sprints together.

We ran up the hill twenty times, starting a new sprint every minute on the minute for twenty minutes. The hill is short and only takes about 9 or 10 seconds to run up, so it’s not too bad.

It was a fun, energizing workout. Which is exactly what a nine-year-old needs.

After our twenty sprints flew by, I told him he “got faster today“.

He liked that. He felt good about himself.

After our hill sprints, we took our time rucking back home. We walked by the creek, threw some rocks at the ice, talked, and had fun together.

I know it may not seem like much. But to me, experiences like these are everything.

Sometimes I get pretty sad seeing my kids grow up so fast. Days like this remind me, though, that there are a lot of cool new things we get to do together – as long as I stay young.

Had I been out drinking the night before, or had I not been in good shape, this morning wouldn’t have happened. None of the many adventures we have together would happen. And that would be terrible.

I’m not sure what our days would look like under different circumstances.

My guess is, though, they sure wouldn’t be as fun.