Humility and Success

Humility is recognizing what you're not good at and what you are good at.  It's recognizing that you're not better or superior to others.  Knowing that while you may be great at some things, you're not so great at others, and typically, that in any skill, some people will be better than you and some worse.  

In genuinely hard training, this virtue is readily handed to you on a plate.  You will always be presented with what you're bad at, what you're succeeding with, and so on.  As the saying goes, Iron Never Lies.  

Genuine training is a ready source of humility.  Not just its negative side of what you're bad at, but the positive side of how you're succeeding.  

Genuine training is a ready source of humility.  Not just its negative side of what you're bad at, but the positive side of how you're succeeding.  

 

In order to succeed in our training, in chasing our dreams, we need to be fully honest with ourselves and others about our shortcomings, and fully confident in the talents and skills God gave us and/or helped us develop.  

I have run Fatal Fitness since taking over for Dan many years ago.  Before that I was heavily involved in the community.  I have had the privilege of helping many guys achieve their goals.  Occasionally I receive word from the guys about how much the programs have helped them, and that makes everything I do on the site worthwhile.  Having said that, often when people meet me they are surprised.  Why?  Because I am not a jacked, hard-ass looking guy.  I am a regular looking guy.  

I make no claims of being Captain America.  I have many trainees that are stronger than me.  Or faster than me.  Or both.  

But the fact is that our programs work.  A fat diabetic or a paraplegic could successfully write strength and conditioning programming (No, I'm not paraplegic or a fat diabetic).  One trainee of mine went from quite overweight to doing 20 strict pull-ups while still over 200 lbs.  Other trainees, like this one, have found the "sweet spot" in making gains in strength and conditioning!  My own brother, who they say is my twin separated by 8 years, has done better on my programming than I have!  I am more than happy when members are stronger or faster than me, for two big reasons:

  1. They're succeeding.  This is why I train people.  And their success means the programs are working.
  2. They motivate me to work harder.  Competition can bring out the best or the worst in us.  Choose the best.  Don't resent the guy who's a monster, try to succeed like him.
     

The programming we use on FF has evolved over many years.  Where it is now is the most successful it has ever been.  And I am a humble example of it's success.  

Back in 2007, I injured my neck in an accident.  Apparently, it damaged the edge of a disc in my neck, and gradually over the course of years, that disc began to bulge out.  That periodically caused me great pain and held me back in my training sometimes.  In 2013, the disc finally popped (and into several pieces as it turns out).  An episode of the worst pain of my life came and went, and I gradually tried to rehab my neck and keep training.  Then one day, I was warming up for a bench press at just 95 lbs.  And the bar came down on me.  There was no pain; I simply couldn't move my right side.  I could not command that chest muscle to work.  I tried pull-ups.  Suddenly I was basically doing one-handed pull-ups, my body drifting to my left side- my right lat wouldn't move.  What happened was the disc fragments were cutting off the nerves that ran to those muscles, and so they stopped working.  And then they started dying.  I went to the doctor, and they tried more physical therapy, more traction, more ibuprofen, even some oral steroids.  But my muscle was now visibly atrophying.  I couldn't even do a pushup or a pull-up, let alone the training I was used to.  

Fast forward several months, and I was in surgery, getting a titanium disc replacement put into my neck- through the front.  I came out of surgery drunk on meds and with my neck stapled shut.  I looked like frankenstein.  Weeks and weeks later and I was allowed to start training again.  I looked like my pectoral muscle had been surgically removed. I still couldn't do pull-ups, or just a few and they were lopsided.  I could handle a few pushups, and my body drifted to the left on these as well, relying on my now stronger side.  I needed to change things.  I still had dreams and aspirations for my own training, and if nothing else I just needed to overcome this to live better.  The hurdle was in front of me, and I needed to get over it, just to get over it.  

With our new programming, I came to a point where I needed drastic change.  I needed a program that would slowly and steadily allow me to regain strength while I also did some conditioning again.  I drew out a simple progression-based system that would theoretically work for just about anybody.  I recruited a couple of guinea pigs, and we began to train.  Our Simple Strength System was born.  I am now stronger than I was pre-injury.  Others that train our way put me to shame.  But I am proud to say they train our way, and I am happy to let them stir up competition in me.  

 

Posted on February 9, 2015 and filed under Inspiration.

Member Feedback: "C"

Been out for a while fellas...little trip to Africa for a few months.
Glad to be picking things up during a slight recovery phase....I need to ease back in.
This is the third time, in two years I've been faced with a significant trial, on only a few days notice. Been running the Fatal Fitness program(s) for years...and once again, was very, very thankful to have been.
I used to go with the elite training guides, and just do it over and over. Started talking with Michael a good bit on the new site and format, I was very glad to see a lifestyle program, not a "get awesome in six weeks....get bigger arms in five days" bs that's so popular.
Granted, if I knew I was going to a specific mil school next spring, a specific training guide would be great. However, that's just not how life works. I went to Africa on four days notice..sniper school three days.....first solo competitor on outdoor channel, nra "Survival Trial"....instant when my partner got hurt and dropped at the start.
Point is "functional fitness/readiness" is a lifestyle, not a program. Like many of you, I need to be strong...never know when you have to punch some isis **** in the chest hard enough to make dust fly off his back....I also need to have endurance as you have to get too the fight, and stay in it to make it all the way back home. It's hard to train for both...and speed, and flexibility, and fast recovery, and agility, add infinitum...
Having the format of picking a general fitness/readiness lifestyle I need to accomplish, then having a never ending, but continuously evolving path to follow has saved me again, and again......and again.
The Simple Strength philosophy book coming out I expect to be awesome. I have been consistently on the simple strength beta program for months now. It has done a few things for me. I will spare the "bench bigger, squat more" hooah stuff. Let's just say, consistent, sizable gains, without injury (at 42, going hard flat out for months with huge gains and no injury is a big, big deal). Interestingly, major increases in both strength, and endurance. That's the sweet spot! Now to the part that fascinated me...the mental.
While on the ruck heavy plan, I noticed I became ocd like obsessed with hitting 10 clean reps at a weight. I lived every night to try and hit 10. It is a brilliant objective. Big enough, that it was a massive motivator...I'm calling my son in, " spot me junior...I'm killing this!!". However, it is a short enough goal, that it's achievable without 4 months of effort and getting bored chasing it before every getting there. It's perfect, and it kept me rolling week, after week. With the NEW strength program you will see coming, Michael solved my other dilemma..the dreaded PLATEAU!! Oddly, I find myself looking FORWARD to hitting a plateau. Go figure right??? What happens is, you keep crushing it, trying to make it to that set of 10, so you can move up in weight. Every week I'm just killing myself to hit 10, again, it becomes ocd. Eventually though, it just isn't going to happen. I get to eight, next week...eight...next week...eight. And I'm stuck..then I'm pissed. The new program though, recognized this stall, and takes advantage of it. Drop back, add the weight, change the target, boom!!! Still getting stronger, still increasing, just building a different way. Hence, I found mentally my weekly goal was hit that 10...die to hit the 10 rep... My monthly goal...Oddly, don't make the 10..I'm actually working TOWARD a plateau. I looking forward to it. No matter what, I'm going up in weight. If I get my 10, next week I'm adding weight, probably only get 6 reps, the next week 8...then the magic 10...up I go again. Awesome. If NOT though, the plateau meant I had maxed that phase..I still got a reward. A plateau was not a negative, it was an achievement!! I had absolutely milked everything I could from a phase and was moving to a new power phase. The grinds keeps my cardio at a working/work capacity type cardio. Not just running, but days I feel like I can run, carrying a sandbag, and fighting bears each mile. Love it.
Maybe too long winded of an explanation, fact is though, I'm sick of the 6 week program trends. I need a way to stay long term, get stronger, gain endurance and just be damned ready for anything, any time.
This was and is it! Functional fitness is not a luxury of knowing months ahead that I need to get in shape for a race...so I'll train on program X, for that race. That's nice, but not realistic for my life. Real functional fitness is understanding the fact that life happens fast, it's unpredictable and to be successful....the ability to say yes when opportunity appears is critical. "Can you go here...yes.....Can you do this job...yes...We just had a guy drop out, can you fill in...yes...Slots just opened for school X, are you ready...yes.....Deployment in 36 hours, you ready.....YES...". What else you got?
So, executive summary. I like the program, I like the plan. I am stronger, I am faster, and I endure, more than ever before. You need to be ready, you have to do the actual work. You do not get "ready for anything" ready with a 25 minute wod the gym. At survival trial, overt 50% of failures were major foot problems, add an example.....people trained in the gym for real life. A 40 mile ruck tags posts of your body you simply can't work doing lunges and working a leg press exclusively. It didn't work. So far, the Fatal Fitness programs have done a great job of getting actually ready, to hammer some real world challenges. Ask yourself..If you were given three days notice, could you complete a 12 mile ruck, in sand, at 100 degrees, with a 55lbs ruck on...and another 35lbs of rifle, scopes, binos, and books on top of your ruck....with no sleep. Some of it's just heart and soul, the other part is having put in the time, every day, in a system that actually gets ALL of you ready.
That's my piece.
Later brothers.

-C

Posted on February 9, 2015 and filed under Inspiration.

Seven Steps to Simplifying Your Training

Photo by LUNAMARINA/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by LUNAMARINA/iStock / Getty Images

The "80/20" rule, aka the Pareto principe, is an economic concept, originally for businesses.  Basically, it is that in most cases, 20% of what a company does brings in 80% of their sales.  20% of the people provide 80% of the results.  

That principle can be applied broadly to a lot in life.  Training is no exception.  We have strived at FF for years to hone in on that 20% that provides 80% of our results.  Prioritize, simplify, perfect, repeat.  

We provide GPP (general physical preparedness) and some more specific training as well.  That GPP is to make you generally stronger and better conditioned.  We don't spend hours doing mobility work.  We don't have you balance on BOSU's or expensive miniature seesaws.  We don't have you standing in front of a mirror doing curls.  - NOTE, there are a lot of people that think curls are evil and not "functional".  That's not us, we just prefer to spend our time on stronger, more compound movements.  The process of prioritize-simplify-perfect-repeat has weighed curls and found them less than a priority, leaving them behind in favor of pull-ups, rows, etc.  

Whether you're one of our athletes or not, you really ought to take a look at your own training through this lens.  You want to be strong.  What will help you more with that, curls, or weighted chin-ups?  You want to bigger traps.  Would it be better to spend a ton of time doing shrugs, or (to paraphrase Jim Wendell) take your time and finally have big traps as well as a physique to match it because you have a huge deadlift?  

You want to be faster and better conditioned.  What helps you get there more, solid interval workouts or "recovery runs" and slow runs?  Would you be better off focusing on interval work and allowing greater recovery the rest of the week?  

And in a wider sense.  You want to achieve these goals but it's hard to be consistent, take care of your family/work, and in general have a life.  All the more reason to take a look at your training, leave aside everything besides that core 20% that accomplishes 80% of your goals.  

Here are 7 steps to get you started:

  1. Get rid of isolation.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  I said I'm not one of those guys that thinks curls are evil.  But for the vast majority of training goals, they're just not that good of a use of time/energy.  
  2. Get rid of your vanity.  Unless you're literally trying to be a competitive bodybuilder, your successful training means lifting more, running faster, etc.  Stop worrying about how you look.  Let your body gradually look better because you ARE better.
  3. Be humble.  Acknowledge what you're good at and what you're not.  In the gym, that might mean people seeing your weak lifts.  But that humility will let you focus on actually doing work instead of how your work appears.  
  4. Get under the bar.  Leave the smith machines, leg presses and anything else that makes your life easier behind.  Do real lifts.  
  5. Trim down the assistance work.  A lot of people will sweat it out over exactly what assistance work to do, instead of worrying about their big lifts, the mainstays of their conditioning, etc.  If you can put 100% of your energy into the core of your workout, then go home... you will be more consistent, you will put more into what actually matters, and therefore in the end get better results
  6. Limit your warmups.  Most people skip the warm-ups.  But there's those out there who will spend more time warming up than they will actually training.  Get the blood flowing, get loose, and get to your actual work.  Doing deadlift today?  Novel idea- start with a light deadlift and build up.  There, you're warm.  
  7. Keep your eyes on the prize.  Have a goal.  Have a specific challenge you are training for.  Keep your training focused on making that happen.   Anything that does not help you is a waste of time, and you should ditch it.  Going for TACP?  How exactly is "arm day" helping you again?  If your squat were better, rucking would probably go a lot easier for you.  While you're at it, why aren't you out running sprints?  

Take a step back.  Swallow your vanity, then take the steps.  Prioritize.  Simplify.  Perfect.  Repeat.  

Posted on January 10, 2015 and filed under Inspiration.

Translating Clean Strength to Dirty Strength

At FF, our strength training revolves around doing the basics.  Doing them frequently, and doing them well.  The basic barbell exercises, when done properly, create more strength than any other method of strength training. This is "clean" strength.

By "clean" strength I mean strength trained in a specific movement- i.e., squat, horizontal push, horizontal pull, vertical push/pull, hinge movement, etc.  Basic movements done perfectly.  Excellent for overall strength, mobility, resilience, lean muscle growth, and so on.

Now.  At a certain point the strength you develop here will have to be used in the real world.  And this is where it gets dirty.  If you're a firefighter, you will find suddenly that you need to take that strength from benching, rowing, etc. and translate it into a very solid sledgehammer swing.  If a fat fireman can breach a door or wall before you can, simply because he's throwing his weight into the swing better than you are, what good was all that lifting?

Bulgarian Bag Training

Bulgarian Bag Training

For a soldier, when it comes to your combatives training, suppose you are paired off against some farmboy redneck with the unnatural strength that comes from spending much of your life throwing hay bales?  If you can't translate your barbell strength to grappling strength, what good was it?

Brooks Kubik of "Dinosaur Training" talks about this all the time.  Mr Kubik endorses basic barbell training above all else, but he also recommends throwing in "odd object" lifting, whether stones, sandbags, kegs, etc.  

There are several ways to translate your "clean" strength developed with the barbel and translate it into "dirty" strength.  Having said that, these are not the best ways to BUILD strength- the barbell is still king.  Just "translate"- that is, take the strength you have already built and turn it into a stronger sledgehammer swing, a stronger buddy drag, fireman carry, a stronger escape from the guard position, etc.  Here are just a few tried and true methods that can be a nice addition to your training:

  1. The Sandbag: Sandbag carries, whether over the shoulder or bear-hug style, sandbag cleans, presses.  Above all, sand bag get-ups.  We recommend building these with an army-surplus duffel and some wood pellets from a hardware store.  Cheap, durable, and ready to help you build great work capacity as well as hone your core strength, what Rob Shaul calls the "combat chassis" (from your knees to your shoulders).  If you're too lazy to make your own bag, check out some pre-made ones from Rogue.
  2. Bulgarian Bag- look it up.  Funny looking, but another cheap, down and dirty way to build rotational strength, gorilla grip and more durable shoulders.  Here's a cheap, easy DIY way.  
  3. Atlas Stones: Some guys use atlas stones.  These are hard-core, cheap to make (see molds to build as many as you want from Rogue here) BUT a word of caution here.  Atlas stones cannot be lifted without some rounding of the back.  If you're worried about popping a disc, don't use atlas stones.  ALSO see Husafell stones, an alternative, which depending on how high you lift it from, may be an easier way to keep a straight back.
  4. Any other stone.  The scottish highland games keep it real- pick up a big rock and throw it.  Brute strength in every sense of the word.  
  5. Sledgehammer training.  Whether a plain old sledgehammer against a tire or stump, one of the "Thor's Hammers" from StrongerGrip, or a "Slater's Slammer" from Rogue, you can't beat training for this movement by actually using this movement.  
  6. Hammer throw: Grab one of these cheap hammer throw straps by spud, and train a real, heavy, and ancient strength sport.  Rotational, core strength, and again that "combat chassis" are heavily involved here.  And cheap.  
Posted on August 16, 2014 .

Using Chains to Progress the Chin-Up

Transient

We do weighted chin-ups here.  Not exclusively, not as a cure-all, but we utilize them.  They have their ups and downs (get it?) but they can prove to be more difficult to progress than other lifts.  Whether you're training with us, using a free plan out there like Harry Selkow's plan, weighted chin-ups may leave you stuck at a certain plateau (whether in weight or reps) for a long, frustrating time.

So here's something to try.  

I recommend anchoring the weight to your waist with a dip belt OR holding a dumbbell/kettlebell with your feet.  For this article, we'll focus on the dip belt.  You'll need the belt and some chains (read, the powerlifting type, not the hardware store type).

-SIDE NOTE- anchoring the weight to your waist or lower body gives the added benefit of pulling traction on the spine, decompressing it, which myself and others have found helpful.  But that's for another discussion.  

As you being doing weighted chin-ups, anchor the chain(s) to your belt at the first link.  You are starting out the movement light, and increasing weight as you move through the range of motion.  When you have built a certain level of comfort at that load, you can now clip into the 2nd or 3rd link(s).  Then work at that level, till you are able to do it consistently for more volume, and then progress to the 5th or 6th link(s).  As you progress, you will be pulling more and more weight from the start of the movement.  Eventually, you will be able to clip into the middle link, which depending on the chain length, should mean you are pulling the entire weight of the chain through the whole range of motion.  

So there you go, a different approach to getting a stronger upper back.  Give it a try!  

Posted on June 7, 2014 .

Athlete Feedback: James

For some recap.

Being a follower of your previous site I of course was turned onto this new one.

A friend and I have been following the "swimming" program since day one.

Please note that I personally cut the swimming portion out (I know, irony.) but for the following reasons.

A. I perform water confidence and drown proofing in place of it. I'm a smaller guy and want me strength increases to remain on a steady climb. I made the assessment that doing all the swimming might be too much and hold me back. Also I was previously a swimmer in high school for 4 years, as well as a lifeguard for 3. I can swim close to 7 minute 500's without training. I also am teaching my workout partner to swim.

B. we still complete 100% of the workouts that don't include swimming. We still beat our asses ha. I did complete the 500 timed swim and I plan on doing the tri operator this weekend.

Moving on,

I am a striving Air Force Operator (currently already in the AF) and these workouts kick your ass. I had some worries from the beginning about my body adjusting and maybe a slight plateau and the challenge to fade away. I can tell you I was quickly proved wrong when each workout was equally as difficult if not harder. I can feel a INDOC type challenge because I am going into workouts and timed events with my body already beaten down and performing better than I expected.

Now the results,
I am only 6 weeks in, my run times have increased. Swim times have increased. Every single lift has increased, I feel better, I am challenged constantly, and the best part is not knowing what is coming the next day. I love the INDOC type mentality when you really don't know what to expect next. Now,

I recommend this program to only those who I think are consistent trainers. There are going to be times you want to skip a part of the workout, or give up on yourself. DON'T. You're the one who will regret it in the end, and that mentality will follow you. I will continue to follow this program till either

A. you stop posting it
B. I become and AF Operator.

HOOYAH NEVER QUIT.

Posted on May 9, 2014 and filed under Inspiration.

Crapshoot Fitness?

Muscle confusion sounds awesome.  But it is a lie.  

Muscle confusion sounds awesome.  But it is a lie.  

In the past decade, CrossFit has taken over the fitness world.  They have done a lot of good, wrestling people's ideas of practical fitness away from two polar extremes: the competitive bodybuilder on one hand, and the ultra-endurance athlete on the other.  They have brought the barbell, bumper and *gasp* dropping weights and making noise back into the realm of acceptable.  

But dare I say it?  Their programming is less than ideal.  And here's why- they don't use programming.  Neither do P90X, or any of their copycats.

Now of course somebody will throw up a picture of Rich Froning or some other big name from the CrossFit Games to prove me wrong.  You know what?  Good, put them up.  They are a great example.  Because they train sport specifically.  That is, they are training in preparation for the games.  They aren't going to a website and grabbing a randomized workout of the day.  They are training with planning and purpose.  In a way, they are training for CrossFit without CrossFit.

Here's the thing- if you are some random guy (or gal) looking to just exercise more, and you find CrossFit fun, have at it.  I do not want to sway you from something that is making you stronger and healthier than you might be otherwise.  But if you are or want to be a true athlete- and by that, we mean someone whose physical preparedness is necessary for your livelihood... you can do much better.

It seems the CF crowd has not made as much hay out of the term "muscle confusion" these days; perhaps that's because they have P90X riding their coattails (and knock-offs of P90X riding theirs).  Whatever the reason, go to the CF website (or many CF affiliates, for that matter), and you'll find a randomized workout of the day.  Ultimately, their "programming" is based on the idea of muscle confusion.  And that idea can be summed up like so:

Your body adapts to stimulus.  Follow a program, and it adapts to that program, eventually plateauing.  If you continually change the stimulus, the nervous system is forced to constantly adapt, constantly rewiring the body to adapt to the wide variety of stimuli placed upon it, and continuing this progress without plateauing for much longer.

It sounds great.  The problem is, it doesn't work that way.  The body adapts to stimuli, but without the stimuli being repeated, the body cannot fully adapt.  Randomness, rather than helping adaptation, hurts it.  A person doing a randomized exercise program will improve, but only to a point.  Their body adapts to be able to handle the stresses placed upon it, and then stops.  They too will plateau.  Your body can't adapt to everything at the same time.  It responds better to planning, periodization (think seasons), and consistency.  

If you want to get stronger, or faster, or have more stamina,  your body must be given the right level of stimulus- too little or spaced too far apart, and there is under training.  Too much or too often, and there is overtraining.  Consistency and smart progression is key.  Inconsistency will kill whatever your goal is.  And without smart progression, you will flounder.  

Random is better than nothing.  But not much better.  And you don't need random to be good at a wide variety of skills.  To paraphrase Jim Wendler, it's no secret that if you are strong and well conditioned, you will be pretty good at everything.  Build your foundation (i.e. strength and work capacity), and you will find yourself a better "jack of all trades".  

Where this applies to our athletes here at FF... most of our folks are military, police or fire/rescue, or want to be.  And those jobs have physical standards that are already out there.  And it doesn't take much imagination to know what the physical stresses of the jobs are.  Do you need random?  Or do you need a solid foundation of strength and work capacity, and then to add a little bit of "specific" training on top of that?  

Ditch the crapshoot, and train like an athlete.  

Posted on May 2, 2014 .

Never Be Your Own Coach

"If you coach yourself, you have an idiot for a client" -Dan John

Let us help you.

Let us help you.

We always advise people to never coach themselves.  I myself write workout programs for others, but I don't coach myself.   

Coaches have an outside perspective.  They are (or at least should be) willing to tell you what you don't want to hear, or to prescribe training that you don't want to do.  Coach yourself, and you run the risk of staying in your comfort zone, never straying into the training that you are not as good at (and therefore need).  

Real humility is knowing what you are good at and what you are not.  And recognizing when others are better than you at something, (or simply can see something you do not).  

The Fallacy of Talking to the Big Guy

Everyone's done it.  Whether in the gym or online, guys ask the biggest/strongest guy they know what they do, and then they try to copy it.  But that's wrong for two very big reasons:

  1. His training has evolved.  If he is successful now, it probably took him a long time to figure out what worked for him.  That may not work for you, at least where you are currently.  Furthermore, your goals may be quite different than his, much as you'd like to be the big guy in the gym.
  2. A paraplegic could be a good coach.  That's not a joke or an insult, it's a fact.  Someone physically incapable of doing things that you want to do could know full well what works, and be capable of planning smart ways to get from A to B in your training plan.  That big guy might be strong, but might not be able to help you find the course of action that you will respond to well in getting you moving.  His physical ability doesn't necessarily mean he will be of much help to you.  

After recovering from a spinal surgery, I have a renewed commitment to ensuring that everything I do, I do with the most perfect form possible.  It's what I tell others to do, I need to follow my own advice.  And so I have gone to others for help and for their outside perspective.  This is just one example- I have received coaching and help along the way from many people.  

No matter where you are in your training, there is always benefit in allowing the outside perspective of a coach re-shape what you do to keep you on track.  

Posted on April 14, 2014 .

Gym Etiquette

This is funny.  Curls in the squat rack is not.

This is funny.  Curls in the squat rack is not.

Gym Etiquette

From time to time gym etiquette comes up in conversation.  You would think that with avid gym goers and fitness enthusiast that this would be the last thing that needed discussion.  However; with any gym, fitness center or “box” there are always those who lack gym etiquette.  Let’s start with The Don’t List.

-don’t leave your equipment around when finished

-don’t yell and scream (grunting is acceptable), 

-don’t hog equipment

-don’t waste time- if you’ve got a bar or a rack, you shouldn’t be texting.  get back to work.

 -don’t stand in front of equipment just to see yourself in the mirror, 

-don’t make fun of others  who are not at your level 

-And please, don’t use the gym as your personal pick up bar.  

All those things just noted are things that probably annoy you if you are a true fitness enthusiast.  Chances are if you are on here you probably not that guy. Things you should do: be cordial to others, replace what you use when complete, and utilize the weights in a timely manner (be efficient), guide others that need assistance (IF THEY ASK), know your limits and always remember train hard and train safe.  We have all seen the guys and girls who go to the gym to impress others or try to.  Where I lift, there is not time for that.  I only have time for one thing and that’s my end goal.  I don’t impede other peoples workout time.  If I am on a bar I try not to spend a large quantity of time on it unless I am alone.  There are so many things to say about what we should or should not do, but at the end of the day it’s all about treating others the way you want to be treated and treat the equipment like it’s yours.  You know your limits and you know how to treat others and I only ask you remember that when it comes time to train.  So many times I enter the gym and end up picking up after others, waiting 30-40 while people talk holding up the bars, mingle and chat instead of hitting the iron.  I know some of you will understand where I am coming from on this topic.  If not then I want to come to your gym!  Keep training, keep pushing through the mental pain and soon the reward will come.

Posted on April 14, 2014 .

Why Paid Membership?

User submitted.  

User submitted.  

Why?

Since the launch of our new site, the biggest question we've had is why we've gone to a paid membership system.  After all, FF used to do a free workout of the day, so why the change?  Some people were turned off by this change.  But the reasons why we did it might change your mind.  

To be honest, this is something we resisted for years.  We worked hard on a site that was basically a free service, never gaining much from it but wanting to keep helping guys reach their goals.  Unfortunately, this came at a cost, not only to ourselves, but those we were trying to help.  

More than one of our Cadre have left because they needed to focus on their own goals, whether in the military or civilian world.  While they wished the project all the best, they had their own lives, their own families to look after.  Work on the site, on it's programming and on helping dudes get their dreams became harder.  Meanwhile, we were growing.  Mainly through word of mouth, people came seeking our help.  And with our growth came more guys, different goals, different needs.  But it was becoming a stretch to keep up with the demand.  

Basically, we reached a point where we had to decide: sink or swim.  Would we stay a free service and no longer be able to afford to put the time and energy into providing excellent training?  Or would we swim, and make Fatal Fitness into a bigger, better, more quality service?

We chose to swim.  With the paid membership, we can now provide not just a single workout of the day, but multiple training tracks, planned programmed and periodized for a long term approach that will help you grow, build a sturdy foundation, and reach your goals.  We can provide well planned, solid programs that will not just give you a 6-week boost but take you over the long haul to being an athlete.  

What we provide now is a much better service than we could have before.  

Our Price:

We knew we needed to move to a paid system.  But that doesn't mean we wanted to gouge anybody.  We took a look around at other sites with a similar audience and service.  We wanted to provide more than them.  And we wanted to charge less.  

So that's what we did.  We took our nearest competitor, and cut their price in half.  Having said that, that competitor does NOT provide multiple training tracks.  You do what they say, and if your goals differ, sorry for your luck.  Not here.  You get five times as much, for half the price.  

How this all helps you:  

This all helps you in more than one way.   

  1. Better workouts.  A paid system allows us to give a better product.
  2. More options.  We are more likely than anyone else out there to have a training track that matches your goals.
  3. Self-Motivation: If you have invested in a training track, you will be 100% more likely to be consistent and dedicated to it.  
  4. Better access: A subscriber will get much better access to answers from us.  

That's it in a nutshell, the how's and why's of our new setup.  A better service to help you get where you want to be.  

 

Posted on March 31, 2014 and filed under Inspiration.

Don't be Scumbag Steve

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Scumbag Steve approached me one day and asked the following question of myself and those who train with us: 

"I'm a stupid person. I really want to work out and improve physically, but I always come up with excuses in the end. I've made tons of work-out plans and schedules for myself but they last a week tops. Whats a good way to keep yourself working?"

 

I felt a little bad even calling him Scumbag Steve, because here he was coming to me with a genuine question, and wanting to improve himself.  But then I realized that, true to form, he was basically looking for an easy fix instead of the real solution.  

Here's the thing-

Motivation is one of the biggest things any athlete (or aspiring athlete) faces. It is the mental block that makes or breaks the decision to work hard. Something we always want to stress here though is that motivation needs to come from something, some goal, besides the superficial. If your goal is to get "shredded, swoll" or "jacked", you probably won't last too long, because your goal is superficial. If you want to be strong, want to be healthy, that's better. If you want to stop being a soft lazy ass and start being more of a man, that's even better. If you have a specific goal, i.e., "I want to be a TACP," "I want to be a PJ", "I want this law enforcement job or that Fire/Rescue job", that's a specific goal of something you want to do with your life, something you want to become. All of these are examples of something fulfilling, something that improves you as a person rather than just improving your body as if you were upgrading your car. This isn't "pimp my ride," this is real life, and trying to live it better.

That's one of many reasons you don't see bodybuilding type exercises here. We use what's functional because we want to keep our motivation pure, fulfilling, real. We want the motivation to have substance, so we shun that which is hollow. So check yourself and figure out why you're here. If it's stupid and superficial, make the necessary adjustments in yourself. We'll help you do that.

In other words, don't be Scumbag Steve. 

 

 

 

Posted on March 29, 2014 and filed under Inspiration.

Author Bio: Gary Eyster

Gary in the world record fireman carry event.

Gary in the world record fireman carry event.

I am a Security Forces member in the United States Air Force.  I have been an active duty member for 15 years working as a Phoenix Raven, Military Working Dog handler/Trainer/Kennel Master.  I have done multiple tours during OEF/OIF landing me in Afghanistan, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other locations around the globe.  I began Fatal Fitness back in 2010; however found out about it in 2009.  Fatal Fitness is the core of my fitness regime as it relates to the functionality of what I do.  Through these workouts coupled with my own program I have been able to obtain 100% on the AF Fitness test as well as 300points on the Army fitness test.  It has also helped me pass the pre-ranger fitness assessment test with zero trouble.  Fitness has and will always be a part of my life as well as most people in or looking to join the military.  I believe through hard work and dedication you will be able to meet and exceed those standards in front of you.  Two years ago through fatal fitness and my own pull-up regimen I was able to (unofficially) break the world record for the most pull-ups in a minute.  10 short minutes later I also (unofficially) broke the record for the fastest 1 mile fireman’s carry.  I say unofficial because both have been broken recently and I am in pursuit to gain those back.  

Posted on March 24, 2014 and filed under Author Bio's.

GoRuck and the Need for Challenge

Transient

If you are reading this, chances are you are not the average guy.  Well, not entirely.  But you are to some extent.  And to that extent, you suck.

Most guys' lives consist of get up, go to work, come home, eat some crap, go to sleep, repeat.  Their training consists of occasional curls.  They do the same thing every day, nothing that they don't know they can do, and they love to talk about how awesome they are.  They grow old, they get out of shape, and they lose hope, because they've lose meaning.  

Time to change that.  Time to reclaim living well.  

15% off Radio Ruck now through 05.31.2014, use coupon code GORADIOruck195

15% off Radio Ruck now through 05.31.2014, use coupon code GORADIOruck195

Living well does NOT mean living easily.  Quite the opposite, in fact. Living well means living with purpose, making yourself a better man.  And you cannot make yourself a better man without challenge.

Just like I cannot get stronger without lifting weights that are hard for me, we cannot be better men without pushing against our limits.  Without challenge, without difficulty, there is no virtue.  

This is where GoRuck comes in.  I invited a friend to come with me on one of their challenges, and he asked me, "why would anyone want to do that?" My instant reaction was, "for the satisfaction of knowing you can."  There is something in man that desires to conquer challenges for their own sake.  To climb things for no reason other than standing on top of them and knowing you beat them.  There are many, many ways to challenge yourself, but this is a good one.  Check it out.  Challenge yourself.  Live a little better.  

Posted on March 21, 2014 and filed under Inspiration.

Gear Review: Fat Gripz

Introduction: 

Grip strength is underrated.  It applies to many sports and just about every job.  Not to mention daily life.  In your training, are you stuck on pullups?  A stronger grip could get a few more reps.  Plateaued on your deadlift?  Your grip might be your weak spot.  Anyway, there are hundreds of products out there to help you train your grip.  Most are unnecessary. 


We decided to do a review of a few decent grip training aids.


“FAT GRIPZ”:



RATING: B

These blue silicone grips fit around barbells, dumbells, and around some pullup bars.  The idea is to turn any bar or dumbbell into a fat bar.  Fat bars have been used since the golden days of strongmen to develop powerful arms.  And the principle again is sound.  A wide object forces your hands, wrist and forearms to engage much more.  Compound movements can now add great emphasis to your grip.  More and more, people are swearing by fat bars as the best way to develop bigger, stronger arms.  If only fat bars were cheaper and actually present in most gyms.  Enter Fat Gripz.  A silicone cylinder that slides over a bar, you can carry these into any gym anywhere and make every bar, every dumbbell, a fat bar. 

But how well do they work?  Well, they absolutely do challenge your grip on a barbell or dumbbell (provided the dumbbell has a “straight” handle instead of a rounded one).  Presses, but more especially pulls  like rows and deadlifts become much, much harder. 

Pull-ups are a different story.  It’s a big “IF” if you can find a bar to put these over.  And once you do, they have a tendency to slide and spin towards the “slit” that the grips open and close by.  The same is also true on deadlifts, but becomes more pronounced when you are hanging from them.  Unlike a fat bar, where the grip remains the same, if the Fat Gripz slide, your set might be over much faster than it might have been otherwise.

That aside, the Fat Gripz are inexpensive, durable enough, and lightweight/portable enough to come with you in your gym bag.  A very good effort at giving “thick bar” training to the every day gym.

Posted on March 19, 2014 and filed under Gear Review.

Gear Review: Rogue Fitness Grandfather Clock Grips

Introduction: 

Grip strength is underrated.  It applies to many sports and just about every job.  Not to mention daily life.  In your training, are you stuck on pullups?  A stronger grip could get a few more reps.  Plateaued on your deadlift?  Your grip might be your weak spot.   Anyway, there are hundreds of products out there to help you train your grip.  Most are unnecessary. 


We decided to do a review of a few decent grip training aids.


Rogue Fitness’ Grandfather Clock Grip System:


RATING: B+

Climbing ropes is excellent training.  Great for the upper back, great for the grip.  Gymnasts, CrossFit aficionados and others climb ropes in their daily workouts.  The Ancient Greeks are thought to have climbed dual ropes, that is two ropes side by side, which you would grip one hand on each. 

However, most gyms don’t have ropes and don’t have a high enough ceiling for them anyway.  Certainly not most home gyms.  Besides, even those who are proficient at pull-ups can struggle a little with climbing ropes because their grip is a weak link, and the vertical ropes require more grip than a regular pullup bar.  Enter the “grandfather clock” grips.  They get their name because they look like the cylinder weights in a grandfather clock.  They work by replicating the approximate diameter of a climbing rope.  They give you the chance to do pullups on a vertical grip that is similar to a climbing rope.  I find that the fact that they are a hard surface instead of the rope which has some “give” forces you to crush grip more than you would have to do to rope.  I've rigged up thick manila rope over squat racks, and for about the same amount of money at the end of the day, I prefer the Rogue Grips.

Doing pullups from these grips puts your shoulders in a different position than a pullup bar, which I’m grateful for when my shoulders are a bit strained from lots of presses/pulls. 

Because of the powdercoat on the metal, you may need to chalk your hands.  Ironic for grip training that you need to use a grip aid to challenge your grip.  But the point of the grips is not for the bars to be slippery, so a light chalking is fine to get the full potential of these grips. 

These are excellent for farmers carries also. 

In summary, these are relatively inexpensive, and an excellent training tool to take with you to the gym.  I find they get taken out of my gym bag much more than the “ball” grips or the silicone “fat gripz”.

Posted on March 19, 2014 .

Gear Review: Rogue Fitness Cannonball Grip System

Introduction: 

Grip strength is underrated.  It applies to many sports and just about every job.  Not to mention daily life.  In your training, are you stuck on pullups?  A stronger grip could get a few more reps.  Plateaued on your deadlift?  Your grip might be your weak spot.  Anyway, there are hundreds of products out there to help you train your grip.  Most are unnecessary. 


We decided to do a review of a few decent grip training aids.


Rogue Fitness’ Cannonball Grip System:


RATING: C+

Rogue makes good gear at a price you can afford to beat up.   That said, the ball grip gets three stars.  It is billed as a way to develop your grip by holding awkwardly shaped objects for multiple exercises, but mainly pullups.  There are other balls like this on the market, notably EliteFTS’ “grenade”.  And the principle is sound- a wide object forcing you to utilize more of the muscles in your hands, wrist and forearms.  Where the Rogue rendition of this falls short is the “blade” at the top of the ball.  Built to be ruggedly strong and hold a lot of weight, the triangular attachment through which the balls are attached to carabiners is unfortunately placed for your hands.  When using the balls for pullups, the “blade” hits right about at the skin between your fingers.  While I realize some readers right about now are telling me to grow a pair, keep in mind that the idea is to train strength, not pain threshold.  You will hardly do the volume of work required to progress if you are only doing a couple reps at a time because your hands feel like they are being cut in half. 

NOW, the ball grips aren’t all bad.  When attached to a cable machine for a neutral or “hammer” style grip, you do experience a forearm and grip “blast” unlike any other.  Farmer carries are another good option, and the beauty of Rogue’s grip implements is how easily they are attached to kettlebells, dumbells, etc. 

Overall, the balls are a good addition, but I don’t recommend them to be the mainstay of your grip training arsenal.  Start elsewhere.

Posted on March 19, 2014 and filed under Gear Review.

Gear Review: RKC Kettlebell

RKC Kettlebell Review

Introduction:

The kettlebell has had a rollercoaster ride in the fitness world.  Riding on the fame and popularity of Pavel Tsatsouline’s cult of personality, the kettlebell went from obscure tool entering a niche market, gradually to a mainstay and for many the end-all-be-all of training.  In past years it seems to have settled, taking a reasonable place as an accessory and conditioning tool, taking silver medal to the barbell.

At Fatal Fitness we follow the “Pareto Principle” aka the “80/20” Rule.  We whittle things down to what is most effective, most useful, and discard everything else.  When it comes to kettlebells we will not be like dragondoor and demand a bushido-like devotion to the perfection of the swing.  Instead, we focus in on basics and what use of the kettlebell fits in best with our purposes, and has a great effect.  For us, that is the kettlebell snatch.  One of the best methods of developing work capacity is kettlebell snatching whether in high-reps or in intervals.  This is how our KB’s get used, how they get beat up, and how they are measured.


Dragondoor RKC kettlebell:

Russian Kettlebell - 24kg (53 lbs.)
$118.75
Dragon Door Publications

 

RATING: A-

Dragondoor is the yardstick by which kettlebells are measured.  Love them or hate them, the RKC crowd is responsible for bringing the KB to where it is in the US today.  It’s ironic then that their kettlebell is made in China. 

Covered with an “e-coat” (probably just a fancy term for the standard powdercoat), the KB is designed for “hard style.”  That is, short, very, very intense efforts of swings and snatches.  The RKC KB is relatively tough.  We’ve used ours indoors and outdoors for years.  They’ve gotten dropped on asphalt, dirt, grass and snow.  They last, although they are not invincible.  Eventually even that magic “e-coat” will develop wear and tear, and your KB will start to rust. 

 

After a solid summer of use and abuse, getting dropped in the mud, sweated on, rained on, and banging around in the back of my truck.  The white you see is chalk.  

After a solid summer of use and abuse, getting dropped in the mud, sweated on, rained on, and banging around in the back of my truck.  The white you see is chalk.  

High rep snatching with this bell is an ordeal- when training the KB snatch, be prepared to have chalk and lotion at hand, and swallow your pride as you apply lotion liberally.  I have seen others hands torn wide open because of the friction these bells place on your hands.  Your forearms will also take a beating, though as you become accustomed to the kettlebells rotating and hitting your arms, you will gradually develop your form to limit this.

Some rust starting to appear.  It is not invincible.  None of the rust has impeded its usefulness as of yet.

Some rust starting to appear.  It is not invincible.  None of the rust has impeded its usefulness as of yet.

The RKC bell is very pricey, but definitely quality.  

Posted on March 19, 2014 and filed under Gear Review.

Gear Review: CFF Standard Kettlebell

Christians Fitness Factory Kettlebells Review

Gear Review: Christian's Fitness Factory Kettlebells

Introduction:

The kettlebell has had a rollercoaster ride in the fitness world.  Riding on the fame and popularity of Pavel Tsatsouline’s cult of personality, the kettlebell went from obscure tool entering a niche market, gradually to a mainstay and for many the end-all-be-all of training.  In past years it seems to have settled, taking a reasonable place as an accessory and conditioning tool, taking silver medal to the barbell.

At Fatal Fitness we follow the “Pareto Principle” aka the “80/20” Rule.  We whittle things down to what is most effective, most useful, and discard everything else.  When it comes to kettlebells we will not be like dragondoor and demand a bushido-like devotion to the perfection of the swing.  Instead, we focus in on basics and what use of the kettlebell fits in best with our purposes, and has a great effect.  For us, that is the kettlebell snatch.  One of the best methods of developing work capacity is kettlebell snatching whether in high-reps or in intervals.  This is how our KB’s get used, how they get beat up, and how they are measured.



Christian’s Fitness Factory Kettlebell:


RATING: D+

CFF is a company that makes economy gym equipment for the crossfit style workout.  I know these guys personally, like them and applaud their effort to bring more competition to the market on pricing and availability of equipment for average joe’s.  I have purchased things like bars and bumpers from them in the past and will likely continue to do so.

After a couple of workouts came some major chips.  After major skin tears came repainting.  After that came rusting.  

After a very short period of time, the bell chipped, and "rough on the hands" went to "tear your skin off".  The chips were repainted.  Then they rusted.  Very quickly stopped using the bells.  

After a very short period of time, the bell chipped, and "rough on the hands" went to "tear your skin off".  The chips were repainted.  Then they rusted.  Very quickly stopped using the bells.  

That said, their kettlebells are terrible.  My 35 and 52 pound kettlebells from CFF both very quickly developed large chips in their powdercoats.  It took very, very little for the powdercoat to chip, and once it did, both kettlebells became impossible to use for snatches or anything more than light swings.  Friction on your hands turned to hands being torn open. 

I contacted CFF about the problem and they basically told me there was nothing wrong with the bells. 

Long story made short: the best part about CFF gear is that it’s cheap.  And the worst part about CFF gear is that it’s cheap.  Two stars. 

Posted on March 19, 2014 and filed under Gear Review.

Gear Review: CFF Competition Kettlebell

Christians Fitness Factory Competition Grade Kettlebell Review

CFF Competition Grade Kettlebell: A

Disclosure: We previously did a review of CFF's standard kettle bell.  We found problems with the coating, and you can read all about that in that review.  Christian, owner of CFF, contacted me and said he saw our review and had a new kettlebell he wanted me to check out.  It was a competition grade bell.  I was in the market for these anyway, so in addition to the one he sent me, I bought a full set.  This review is based off of those bells. 

CFF's steel competition grade kettlebell- a huge step up, still the cheapest around.  

The Competition grade bell is a HUGE step up from the standard CFF bell.  We said in a previous review that the best part about CFF gear was that it was cheap, and the worst part was that it was cheap.  Meaning we liked that we could afford it, and we didn't like the quality.  

This KB has changed our minds.  CFF's steel competition grade kettle bells are a great value for the price, and I would use them any day over my dragon door bells.  Especially considering I can afford to use matching pairs.

Many users ask us about kettlebell only workouts.  If you're gonna do that, do matching bells (2 of each weight).  If you're not rich and still want decent bells, these are a great way to go.  As competition grade, they are all the same size regardless of weight- meaning form, leverage, etc. don't change.  

Quality... the problem with the older bells was the coating would chip easily and tear your skin.  Not a problem with these- bare steel handles.  Chalk your hand (and a little on the handles) and you are golden for a long workout.  The rest of the bell is painted.  NOW, the review of the older bells still stands.  We call things like we see them.  But these bells are a great choice.

We haven't had these long enough to really see how they stand up to the test of time.  But I can say in fairness, if you have competition kettlebells, you should not be beating them up as much as other bells.  Regardless of brand.  That factor got it the "minus" after the A.  But I suspect most other brands would also.  

Overall a great choice, especially when CFF runs a sale.  

Posted on March 19, 2014 and filed under Gear Review.