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.