S&C for the Multidisciplinary Athlete

One of my favorite, and most effective strength and conditioning programs has been a strongman program. I first used this program in 2010 while training at a very hardcore facility filled with strongman competitors, powerlifters, and Highland Games athletes. I was very pleased with the results as my strength increased, and my conditioning gas tank grew daily.

At times I would switch to other programs for something new, (usually DoggCrapp), or to get ready for an event. However, I found myself returning to this program as soon as possible because the results upon returning to this program were always the same; I’d get leaner, and stronger within weeks.

At this point you’re probably thinking, when does he hit us with the click this link to buy this program? Well… I’m not. Im going to post the template here for you just as it was given to me. I had some really cool athletes share this with me simply because I showed up with an open mind, and a solid work ethic. Also, I kept coming back so either they took pity on me or they respected my stubbornness. Either way, I’ll take it.

The basic template is a squat day, a bench day, a deadlift day, and an overhead press day. You can spread them out in any way that works for you. Some folks combined squat, and deadlifts on the same day or bench, and overhead press day. Some folks work a movement more than once a week, again whatever works. The numbers will be your guide. The program uses a linear progression so results are easy to track, the numbers are going up or they’re not.

Always start lighter than you think you should. Sustaining progress over a longer period of time is optimal, and easier to guarantee if your starting weights are a little lighter. For our template we want to start at 60% of our 5 rep max for each main lift. To keep it as manageable as possible we’re going to keep the progression as simple as possible; each week we’ll increase the poundage by 2.5%. We’re looking for slow, yet consistent progress. Let’s use 5 sets of 5 reps as our set/rep model. There are hundreds of set/rep variations yet for our purposes 5×5 gets the job done without needing a degree in nuclear science to calculate poundages.

We’re squared away on sets, reps, and percentages so let’s look at the next element; session structure. We’re going to work the exercises back to back in a series with no rest between. For example on squat day we will squat, broad jump, and push a car for one series with no rest between each movement. After we push the car, then we can rest for a minute before we head back to the squat rack. Every training session is structured this way, now the directive to start lighter than you think you should probably makes sense? It’s taxing.

Here is a template session to give you an example of how to structure your own sessions.

Squat day;

A1) back squat 5 reps

A2) broad jump 10 reps

A3) ab wheel rollout 10 reps

Repeat 5 times for 5 series. Then move on to the B series.

B1) zercher lift 5 reps

B2) bench or low box jumps 10 reps

B3) car/truck push (start with a shorter distance than you think you should so you can progress for a longer period of time).

Repeat 5 times for 5 series. Then move on to the C series.

C1) side to side squats 5 reps each leg

C2) jump squats 10 reps

C3) ladder drills working side to side movement.

Repeat 5 times for 5 series and you’re done for the day.

Rest for 1-2 minutes between series. Usually when I’m training alone I get a 5 minute break after my last set in say the A or B series because I have to setup equipment for the next series. Once I’m set up though, it’s back to work. This is the basic template for the program. Apply this to each movement session so on deadlift day we do our main deadlift movement in the first series followed by series using a variant. After the main move we do a plyometric or bodyweight movement followed by some form of agility or conditioning movement.

I would recommend starting with one series for your first training session. Get a feel for the training method, and how your body responds. Don’t over-reach, and damage yourself. Your hands, and joints take a beating when you train in this manner so give yourself time to adapt.

Again, start lighter and slower than you think you should. You want to keep adding weight to the bar for 8-16 weeks, not stall out in 4-5 weeks.

Try it out, and let me know what you think. If you have any question feel free to fire away, and I’ll do my best to answer.

Right Thing, Wrong Time and Place

In my lost post we talked about enduring a little more, I want to go a little deeper into that topic with this post.  One of the mantra’s I’ve adopted came from the inimitable Super Dave Harrington. It’s a fairly simple directive; “Do the right thing, at the right time, every time.”  This is solid advice for every area of our lives. If we were to apply this everyday all day most folks would be good to go.


However, what happens when we do everything right, and it still goes wrong? 



In those moments what happens next is more important than what happened. Simply do the next right thing, and keep doing the next thing right until we turn whatever happened, around.


How we bounce back, how quickly we adapt to things falling apart is the true test of our mettle. Anyone can be good to go when everything goes as planned. It takes an adaptive, mentally agile thinker to roll with the punches, and keep pressing toward the objective. We learn the lessons we can learn, we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and press on.


The fighting mindset shines in those moments. Seeing everything go wrong, despite doing everything right, and choosing to keep on keeping on is the hallmark of a fighter.



Endure a Little More

There is simply no substitute for time on the mat, range, or in the weight room. One of my coaches told me that cranking the oven up to 800 degrees doesn’t reduce the baking time, it just burns the cake. There’s a lot of truth in those words. I can’t count the times I tried to go too far too fast, and paid the price in the form of injuries, frustration, and sometimes lost training time.


While there certainly are more efficient ways to train we have to fight the urge to succumb to the get rich quick mentality. There is no easy way. There is no shortcut. There is only consistent effort over time.


Sometimes it’s consistent, painful, bone-crushing exhaustion level effort over a longer period of time than we think it should take.


As one approaches a level of mastery it becomes even more difficult to measure improvements. The first few years of strength training it’s normal to put 200 pounds on our squat or deadlift, after 10 years of training a 200 pound increase on the squat or deadlift would be miraculous. There are a few things we can do at this point. We can radically change our approach, maybe switch to a new coach, or a new training strategy. Sometimes that works for a brief time. However, sometimes the best strategy is to keep doing what got us here while trusting the process. Focusing on small improvements, even as small as a 1% over a 4-6 week training cycle, is an improvement. Put enough of those together, and we end up with a 10-15% increase over the course of a macro cycle.


Regardless of your stage in this game know this, there will come a time where you will simply have to choose to endure a little more. There is no way around it, you will want to quit, you will be frustrated. You will see friends, and training partners that started at the same time as you or even after you surpass you. Keep on keeping on. There really is nothing to it but to do it.


IMG_6230As my coach Chris Haueter says, “It’s not who’s good, it’s who’s left… it’s hours on the mat… and if you put in that time, natural athlete or not, you practice the art, you’ll be a black belt. You’ll be somewhere in ten years… imagine someplace ten years from now I’m gonna be somewhere why not be a black belt too? You just can’t quit.”


The Power of Three

When developing or refining skill the challenge is to focus our efforts. We tend to get caught up in trying to work on too many things at once. That is a fast track to frustration. This endeavor can be physically, and mentally taxing enough without additional obstacles of our own design.


Covering all the bases is a never-ending challenge. However, it’s not impossible. The trick is to keep the focus to three or less performance points each practice session.  Whether it is strength training, conditioning work, boxing, or vehicle operations we can’t focus on everything every time. There is no mythical power of three however, there is a power in focused effort. Before each practice session take a few moments to write down 1-3 performance points or cues that you will focus on during the practice session. Other things might come up however, stay the course. Remember the focus of this practice session, and don’t waver. If you don’t know each performance point for the various disciplines don’t worry, we’ll cover that ground in future blog, and YouTube posts. For now, here is an example of 3 performance points to focus on in our next pistol practice session.


Strength vs Technique

It seems there is a never ending discussion regarding which is more important; strength or technique. We seem to enjoy debating the merits of one over the other.

If you’re really strong you can overcome any lack of technique on your part.

If you have great technique you’ll be able to shut down the stronger opponent.

We go round and round, each side presenting a compelling argument.

My thoughts? There is no argument. It’s not either/or.

What if we work as intensely, and intelligently as possible to become as strong as inhumanly possible while simultaneously striving just as intensely, and intelligently to develop flawless technique?

This has a synergistic effect producing a high performance multidisciplinary badass.

Don’t allow others to impose limitations on you. It’s not strength or technique, it’s strength and technique.

A Caliber and Capacity Post

Seriously. As crazy as it seems, I had this bright idea for a firearms related post. Particularly firearms a multidisciplinary practitioner would likely carry.


So of course I thought, how about one on caliber and capacity? I will preface this by saying I take a pragmatic approach to this subject.


Let’s dive headfirst into caliber. I’m not sure what caliber an ice pick might be but that caliber has wrecked a whole bunch of people. Same can be said for the screwdriver caliber. It seems that when one person introduces an icepick or screwdriver into another person’s aorta or brain, bad things follow. This isn’t always a life stopper, yet it’s effective enough often enough that simply googling the words ice pick death or screwdriver stabbing death yielded 4,810,000 results in 0.85 seconds. I realize this isn’t a very rigorous scientific study, yet despite this lack of rigor there might be something to it. Maybe it’s safe to say, within reason, where the hole is placed is as important as how big the hole might be? I don’t carry or recommend anyone carry anything smaller than a 9mm, particularly since M&P Shields, and Glock 43’s are tiny while still giving the user 6 – 8 rounds of 9mm in a super compact package. However, lots of folks are comfortable carrying smaller calibers such as Smith & Wesson revolvers in everything from 22LR to 38PL, or a Ruger LCP in .380. My absolute favorite pocket pistol is a Beretta 21 A Bobcat.  Regardless of what caliber one chooses just make sure it’s housed in a reliable, and accurate gun. You need the rounds to go where you intend for them to go, every time you intend for them to go there.


How much capacity is enough? In general I follow Tom Givens of Rangemaster advice which is to carry a pistol that has at least ten rounds on board the pistol. I’ve also spent quite a bit of my life carrying a single stack 1911 also known as God’s Gun which gives me 8 rounds on board the gun with several 10 round magazines in mag pouches on my belt. If we look at the data compiled by Tom Givens, the FBI, and DEA as well as the the NRA Armed Citizen we find when rounds are fired the average, (if we can call a life or death event average), defensive gun use involves between 3 – 5 rounds. In quite a few incidents the presence of the gun is enough to deter the criminal assault which means neither capacity nor caliber mattered when no shots were needed. Although my opponents unwillingness to fight isn’t something I’d want to bet the life of my loved ones on, it still gives credence to something James Yeager has been known to say which is; carry your damn gun.


Essentially I don’t think caliber or capacity matter unless you think it matters. We can find passionate, and convincing argument from both sides. I don’t think it’s possible to find a gun forum on the internet or a gun store counter that hasn’t been the site of a heated 9mm versus 45ACP debate. Everyone wants to believe they are carrying the magic bullet. However, it seems that whether the gun you choose has 5, 7, or 15 rounds of 22 LR or 45ACP on board isn’t as important as actually having the gun on you when you need it. Followed closely by the ability to put holes in your opponent’s vital areas specifically the upper chest, and/or the brain.


So if I don’t think caliber, and capacity are overly important what do I think is? Skill and will. Know the limitations of your chosen weapon then train, and practice to circumvent those limitations to the best of you ability. Sometimes those limitations are imposed by our work environment. A large framed male working outdoors in an environment where he can wear loosing fitting clothing versus a small framed female in a closed environment where she wears scrubs will have to make choices based on challenges faced. A few resources I know, and have turned to for solid training, and advice regarding adapting to, and overcoming the challenges of small guns are; Claude Werner, thee Tactical Professor, Dr Sherman House, Legendary Lawman Chuck Haggard, and Chris Fry of MDTS. Each of those guys can get you up to speed on carrying, concealing, and running a full sized gun as well. 

Train intensely.

Train intelligently.

When the time comes be willing.

Everything else, including caliber and capacity, is supplemental. 


Verification versus Validation

One of my favorite training tools is reactive targets. Anyone that has run a few plate racks will agree it’s a lot of fun. Reactive targets are also an excellent learning tool. Instant verification; I executed the fundamentals at speed correctly or… I didn’t. I emphasize to trainees, (as well as myself), that any drill we run is a verification not a validation. This keeps us in the correct mindset of a learner. Every time I mount the gun a learning opportunity presents.

During a recent REV Pistol course, I shared with the trainees my approach to coaching which has been heavily influenced by the book; Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. My good friend The Bastiat Blogger recommended this book to me when it was first published. Sebastian has never steered me wrong, and this was no exception.

One of the key points I emphasize when coaching is learning versus non-learning. Every rep is an opportunity to collect data. If a trainee has this mindset then there can’t be a failed drill, or unsuccessful attempt. There is only learning. There is data collected. There is growth. We have to disconnect failure or success from our approach to training, as well as competing, and replace those words with learning or non-learning.

In grappling, even though it’s a highly competitive arena there is also an understanding that there’s no win/loss record in practice. I’m in the practice room to work on my game. This might involve quite a bit of what appears to the uninformed to be failure however, learning is taking place. I’ll leave that practice a better grappler than when I arrived because learning occurred. (Sometimes I’ll drive home from practice with a bag of ice on my neck because I learned so much…). I encourage you to take this same approach to your shooting skill development. Unhook success or failure from your practice or even matches. Make it about learning. If we learn every time we mount the gun our progress as a shooter is guaranteed.