Ironman Insanity: How to Train for the World’s Most Grueling Endurance Race In Just 14 Days.

Ben Greenfield Ironman minimalist

Let’s just start by letting the cat out of the bag, shall we?

In exactly 14 days, I will be racing Ironman Hawaii, the World Championships of Ironman on the Big Island of Kona. Yes – that one: the hot torturefest in the lava fields during which you race a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and finish with a marathon for dessert.

And I just found this fact out approximately 24 hours ago.

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Allow me to clarify why this is kind of a shocker.

I have not trained for Ironman. Nadda. Zip. Zilch.

I have just six days ago finished, extremely battered and bruised, the Spartan World Championships.

I had planned on spending my next several weeks drinking organic wine and stuffing my face with dark chocolate.

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So when my manager for Team Timex told me I’d been tasked with showing up to the starting line of one of the most grueling endurance events on the face of the planet, although most people spend 8-16 months training for this race, and not a meager 14 days…

…I naturally said “yes”.

After all, I’ve always been curious how the human body would handle an Ironman triathlon without any actual Ironman training. I also have a few tricks up my sleeve that make me want to experiment with how well my body will hold up in the lava fields, namely:

Two months ago, I completed Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine’s brutal Kokoro camp, which proved to me I’m capable of achieving 20 times more than I really think I am…

Twice a week, I’ve been following Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s heat acclimation sauna protocol we discussed in the podcast “How To Use Heat Exposure“…

I’ve been lifting heavy weights and training for Spartan racing, so I know that my joints are bulletproof and that I can run decently…

Timex has given me full access to their amazing arsenal of pacing tools – namely the Run Trainer and Cycle Trainer – so I can at least pace properly and keep myself from completely blowing up during Ironman…

And finally, I’ve got a big bag of tricks to get my body to recover really fast.

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However, I also have some pretty significant disadvantages, particularly in the training preparation department. After finishing Israman in January, I threw in the towel on much triathlon training and shifted to obstacle racing instead.

Longest swim of year: 1 mile. Average weekly swim mileage: 500 meters, primarily breasttroking with my kids…

Longest bike of year: 12 miles. Average weekly bike mileage: 15 miles, mostly on a mountain bike…

Longest run of year: 14.5 miles. Average weekly run mileage: 8 miles…all on soft, cushy trails…

Total number of triathlons completed this year: 2 very short sprint triathlons.

So you could very accurately say that I have trained less than probably any athlete who will be racing Kona. Way less.

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So how in the hell am I going to get ready for this monster of a race in just 2 weeks?

Good question. I’m just now scrambling to figure that out myself.

Since I have both affectionately and with great ridicule been called the “Biohacking Triathlete”, I’ll definitely hack the heck out of this thing, but before I tell you how I’m going to train and what I’m going to eat, allow me to clarify one thing…

…my plan is not to trudge slowly through Ironman Hawaii with a goal of “just finishing”. My mind simply doesn’t work that way. I show up to any event mentally prepared to push my body and brain to their absolute limits.

So with that clarification, my plans are:

1. Ride a bike 30 minutes every morning to re-accustom my body to pedaling a bicycle. Unfortunately, due to a broken bike frame, I don’t actually have a triathlon bike right now, so I’ll ride my road bike instead. During these rides, I’ll use Elevation Training Mask or Hypoxico altitude training generator to grow a few extra red blood cells. And one week before the race, I’ll do one steady 2 hour ride for a bit of “time in the saddle”.

2. Avoid much running, since it’s a high-impact activity and it’s too late now to put much work into the body, especially since I’m recovering from the brutal Spartan World Championships.  The cons of running much at this point outweigh the pros. Instead I’ll do an short, 10-15 minute intense treadmill or aqua jogging sprint session every other day. Both of these modes are lower impact compared to pounding the pavement.

3. Swim 20-30 minutes every day in very cold water (this upregulates nitric oxide production, and the cold will assist with fighting inflammation too), alternating between hard 100’s/50’s/25’s one day, and skill work the next day. Getting a “feel for the water” is very important when you want to efficiently race an open water intense 2.4 mile swim, and I’ll need to get that feel back – really, really fast.

4. 30 minute dry sauna sessions every 48 hours until I shove out to the Big Island on October 8. You can learn exactly why this heat acclimation tactic is so important in the episode “Everything You Need To Know About How To Use Heat Exposure To Enhance Performance, Burn Fat, Gain Muscle And Think Better.“.

5. Electrostimulation sessions every other day with a MarcPro+ on my quads, hammies, calves and shoulders, which is going to suck the post-Spartan race inflammation out of my body. I’ll also do deep tissue work with a full body foam roller sessions on the days I’m not electrocuting myself.

6. A few easy 15-20 minute resistance training sessions to maintain muscle memory and strength. To avoid muscle tearing and breakdown, I’ll primarily use the MostFit Suspension Trainer, and do slow, controlled full-body sessions.

7. A jacked-up nutrition supplement arsenal, namely: Thorne AM/PM Multivitamin Complex to increase my nutrient levels, 4 EPA/DHA fish oil capsules every day to help joints recover from Spartan, 1 daily shot of X2Performance to load with ATP, 4 daily Colostrum capsules to get my gut ready for the heat, 1 daily packet of TianChi to lower cortisol levels, a bunch of extra greens to increase alkalinity, 1 X2Performance for last 7 days leading up to race, and of course, 1 big cup of bone broth every day. For the race itself, I’ll plan to pack my water bottles and fat-based energy gels so I can follow the exact nutrition protocol I outline here.

8. Drag all my fancy triathlon gear out of it’s dark corner in the garage, specifically a BlueSeventy PZ3TX skinsuit, BlueSeventy Element Goggles, a Giro Air Attack Helmet, Rocket7 Cycling Shoes, Timex Cycle TrainerTimex Run Trainer.

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So when you put it all together, my 14 day Ironman training protocol is going to look like this:

Mon, Sep 29: 30 minute easy bike spin, short treadmill run off bike, short suspension trainer session after run. Swim hard. Sauna. Electrostim.

Tue, Sep 30: 30 minute easy bike spin, short suspension trainer session off bike. Swim skills. Foam roller.

Wed, Oct 1: 30 minute easy bike spin. Swim hard, short aqua jog after swim. Sauna. Electrostim.

Thu, Oct 2: 30 minute easy bike spin, short suspension trainer session off bike. Swim skills. Foam roller.

Fri, Oct 3: 30 minute easy bike spin, short treadmill run off bike. Swim hard. Sauna. Electrostim.

Sat, Oct 4: 2 hour bike ride. Foam roller.

Sun, Oct 5: 30 minute easy bike spin, short treadmill run off bike. Swim skills. Sauna. Electrostim.

Mon, Oct 6: 30 minute easy bike spin, short suspension trainer session off bike. Swim hard, short aqua jog after swim. Foam roller.

Tue, Oct 7: 30 minute easy bike spin. Sauna. Swim skills. Electrostim.

Wed, Oct 8: Fly to Kona. Day off. Electrostim on plane.

Thu, Oct 9: Speak at Ironman Medical Conference. Easy swim in ocean. Foam roller.

Fri, Oct 10: Quick swim, bike, run practice. Massage.

Sat, Oct 11: Race.

And of course, back to my original plan of red wine and dark chocolate on Sunday.

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So there you have it.

I am going to prepare for the world’s most grueling endurance race in just 14 days. And sure, I’m known as a minimalist training guy, but this is taking things to a whole new level, and I have no clue if my body can actually pull this one off. It’s going to take every trick I know.

What do you think?

What would YOU do if you had 14 days to prepare for an Ironman?

Do you think this is absolutely insane?

Leave your questions, comments and feedback below, and stay tuned to the BenGreenfieldFitness Facebook page for updates, announcements and some very cool contests in the next few days leading up to Ironman Insanity.

How To Stop Sitting From Killing You: The Sitting Solution.

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I’ve got one problem with the whole “sitting is the new smoking” movement.

There’s a lack of practical solutions for how to fix what happens to your body when you sit, how to structure your workday to minimize the damage of sitting, and how to make your body bulletproof to the issues with sitting.

So in today’s podcast, I interview physical therapists Chad Walding and Brenda Walding, authors of the new book “The Sitting Solution: How To Save Your Spine, Body & Life.

During the interview, Chad and Brenda discuss what happens to your body when you sit, why standing may not be the best solution, how to fix the issues that happen to your body when you sit, and the unique set of problems facing athletes who sit.

Below is a sample screenshot from The Sitting Solution that shows how you could easily structure your workday using the techniques we talk about in this episode:

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This podcast is brought to you by Rebel Desk. At RebelDesk.com, you can use code “BEN” to get $40 off their Rebel Crank-Up desk and you can use code “GREENFIELD” to get $20 off the Rebel Chair that comes with their desk. 

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about how to stop sitting from killing you? Leave your thoughts below, and be sure to check out The Sitting Solution!

Top 10 Tips To Race A Spartan Beast (Or Any Other Long, Hilly Running Event or Obstacle Race)

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As I mentioned I’d be doing a couple weeks ago when I gave you the Top 10 Workouts of 2014, I just finished the brutal Vermont Spartan Beast in the Green Mountains of New England. This race is considered to be the “Super Bowl” of obstacle racing and the official World Championships of Spartan, in which the best of the best obstacle racers from around the world come to throw down the gauntlet.

Knees throbbing? 

Check.

Quads trashed?

Check.

Plenty of lessons learned?

Check.

So in today’s post, I’ll pass those valuable lessons on to you. You’re going to get 10 tips to race a Spartan Beast – and even if you don’t plan on ever doing this race, these tips will be extremely valuable for you in any long, hilly running event.

Let’s begin…

1. Learn How To Run Downhill

I worked my butt off in many sections of the steep Vermont Beast hills to pass other athletes, only to be frustratingly passed by those same athletes on the downhills – which I ran far too conservatively and obviously need to practice. It’s no good having superior fitness if your competitors know how to move smart and use gravity to their advantage. I’d highly recommend you (as I am doing) study this downhill running article, which is pure gold when it comes to downhill running speed tips. Here are a few snippets from it:

“Next time you are slogging up Pikes Peak or Hope Pass and the Big Boys are coming back down, watch how they run. The first thing you will notice is that they are going REAL FAST, like 6-minute miles or better over really crappy terrain. The second thing you will notice is that they are not taking little short shuffling steps. They are bounding down the hill, hurdling rocks, logs, etc. On your next training run, try some strides at a sub-6 pace and look at how your feet are landing. I bet you will be landing on your toes.”

“On running wet trails I have found a few things. First, try to keep your center of gravity over your feet, which usually requires a shorter stride and less aggressive pace. It can look like a ‘shuffle’ when done properly, but tends to prevent some of the slippage that an all-out stride would cause. On slippery downhills, more strides in less space generally equals more stability. If room allows, I also sometimes “tack” down slippery hills like a skier would a steep slope; rather than running straight down, I’ll make zigs from side to side. This also takes advantage of the fact that the *side* of the trail is often less slippery than the center, where all the water tends to collect.”

“Practice makes perfect. We have a hill where I live that rises about 1400 feet in 2 miles. During good running weather a group of us do a training run once a week for about 2 hours, finishing with the 2-mile downhill and spending whatever we have left. Several runners were initially poor downhillers and have improved dramatically. Practice strengthens the quads to handle the work, improves technique, and builds confidence.”

“As far as technique is concerned, I’m not sure one size fits all. I have short legs, while some friends who initially were poor downhillers have long legs. How far forward you land on your foot depends on how steep the hill– the steeper the slope the further back on your foot you have to land. I try not to land on my heels, though, because that causes braking. I like having a lot of foot surface landing to improve traction. If the hill is smooth and not steep, landing near the front of the foot and sliding a little makes it easy on the quads.”

“Concentration is critical. I am a shuffler, so I have little ground clearance. If I’m not paying attention, I’ll trip. You want to look ahead about 5 feet. I can only marvel at how the brain takes this information and transforms it into foot placements that work.”

“Attitude is important. Practice breeds confidence. Running lots of downhills in training–especially somewhat rocky ones–lets you know you can do it well. In long races I always try to stretch out a bit on downhills, relaxing but letting it flow. I expect to make up time on downhills, but I also want to feel I’ll be able to run the next downhill well, and the next one. When I’m feeling good in a race, I try not to get greedy and spend it all–I’d rather feel like I’m making the good phase last as long as possible.”

Just in case you need more inspiration to learn how to run downhill, here are the scars that I racked up from not simply failing to run downhill fast, but also falling flat on my face in an all-out, embarrassing yard sale style fall at mile 3.

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2. Protect Your Knees and Ankles

You’re going to be running down steep, slippery, rocky and obstacle strewn terrain. A lot. Despite having run multiple Ironman triathlons and marathons:

1) my knees are more trashed than they have been from any other event – partially from tripping and sliding nearly 10 feet downhill on my frontside, but also from the constant downhill pounding;

2) my ankles were more challenged than they ever have been, with multiple close calls with twists and sprains that would have resulted in long and painful limping the rest of the event.

For this reason, I think it’s smart to tape the knees and tape the ankles using the kinesiotaping approach I discuss in this podcast. I’d recommend this full ankle stability taping method and this full knee support taping method. You can easily learn these taping methods yourself, and get KT Tape or Rock Tape on Amazon.

So why don’t I recommend ankle braces or knee braces, rather than tape?

One big F word: Friction.

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3. Hydration Packs Are Optional

As you may have seen in my “Spartan Race Gear” video, I showed up on the starting line for the race wearing a simple, sling-across-the-waist style water bottle hydration belt.

But then, they announced there would be water stations every two miles.

So I tossed my hydration pack over the fence (if you’re reading this and you were the lucky person that caught it, then congratulations – keep it).

Just think about it, even if you’re hiking and obstacle hurdling a 15 minute mile, you’re still going to get to a water station every 30 minutes or so. So if you think you can do this race in under 5 hours, don’t worry about a hydration pack. It’s just extra weight to carry up and down hills and extra impedance when you’re rolling under barbwire or swimming through cold water.

Incidentally, I took all the Peanut Butter Hammer Gels I had in my hydration pack and just stuffed them in the pockets of my Hylete shorts instead.

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4. Fuel Is Not Optional

Sure – if you’re going to stay aerobic, you’re totally fat-adapted and you plan on racing in a ketogenic state, then you can probably get away doing this entire race on water, and perhaps some salts (more on salts in a moment).

However, I wanted to experiment with a fat-based energy gel that wasn’t sickeningly sweet, had some extra amino acids, a touch of electrolytes and a bit of fat, so I carried 8 Peanut Butter Hammer Gels (4 in each pocket) – just enough to throw one back every 30 minutes, at about the same time I reached a water station. This averages out to around 200 calories an hour, which is a decent goal to shoot for during a running race (due to less gut “bouncing” during cycling events, you can typically handle double this amount of calories when you’re riding a bike).

If a long obstacle race were conducive the type of water-bottle, fat and protein-based fueling plan I talk about in this article, I’d probably go that route instead, but as I alluded to earlier, carrying big bulky water bottles just isn’t too logistically smart on a course like this.

In a nutshell, this race is long. There is no food at aid stations. So bring your own (note my bulging pockets in the log carry photo below).

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5. Carry Electrolytes

As I clambered upside down monkey style across the Tyrolean Traverse, I was forced to grip the rope hard with my calves and hamstrings – an activity I’m not really accustomed to since I have never in my life climbed upside down on a rope before. And about halfway across the rope, my right calf cramped hard and I went flailing off the rope and into the water below.

As you may have heard me mention before on my podcast, if your cramp is not due to dehydration, and is instead simply a muscle going into a protective spasm due to the use of muscles you’re just not accustomed to using, the taste of something salty can instantly reverse that cramp. The most popular research study on cramping used pickle juice. But since there were no pickle trees nearby, I did the next best thing…

…I simply broke open of the Athlytes electrolyte capsules I had stuffed in my shorts pocket in a ziplock bag and dumped the contents of the sickeningly salty capsule under my tongue.

Boom. One salty gag reflex, and cramp gone. Good tip, eh?

So always have a few salt capsules handy, just in case. You get a 50% discount on the ones I like (Athlytes) at the the Millennium Sports website. Just use code “MSTBG09″.

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6. Practice Gripping Cold

Confession: I amassed 150 burpee penalties during the Spartan Beast. I obviously need to work on my obstacle skills, as this cost me plenty of time and potentially a podium finish.

One of the reasons I struggled on many obstacles was due to the fact that I simply wasn’t prepared for gripping ropes, poles, spears and pulleys with extremely cold hands. When your hands are cold, it becomes very difficult to sense how hard or how easy you are holding an object, so this is something you’ll need to practice, since this race has many water crossings combined with relatively cold temperatures.

My recommendations?

Try doing some cold water swimming, then getting out of the water and hanging from a tree branch or a rope.

Or go outside in cold weather, hold a rock or other heavy object with gloves, and practice carrying it with cold hands.

Or put a cold bucket of ice water next to a pull-up bar, immerse your hands for 30 seconds, then do pull-ups or pull-up hangs.

You get the idea.

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7. Cold Acclimate

Speaking of cold, this race got incredibly cold – so cold, in fact, that my hand nearly stuck to the pole of the cargo net climb as I grabbed it at the top. So cold that if there had been more moisture at the top of Killington Mountain, it would have been snowing. So cold that some people dropped out of the race due to hypothermia.

Here’s the part where I brag: the cold didn’t bother me a bit. Sure – as I mentioned above, my grip suffered, but due to my practice of:

-Two a day 2-5 minute icy cold showers…

-One to two times per week 15-30 minute cold water river swims…

-My attendance at Kokoro Camp (highly recommended if you really want to make yourself twenty times tougher, literally)…

-My practice of “fire-breathing”, which I learned in this Iceman Wim Hof podcast

Simply put, if you’re used to the cold, it’s just not going to bother you. The body is an amazing adaptive machine. So in the same way that I do 30+ minute sauna sessions 2-3x per week when I know I’m going to do a hot race like Ironman Hawaii, I focus on the cold when I know I’m going to be in a cold race. Of course, as I alluded to earlier, my strategic flaw was not combining gripping practice with some of these cold acclimation sessions.

And one other thing: if you think cold, you’ll be cold. So think warm thoughts. Not kidding.

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8. Speed Hike

Holy hills. This race has alot of ‘em, and they’re too steep to run. Period.

One of the top Spartan racers, Matt Novakovich, actually owns a special kind of treadmill called an “incline treadmill”, which can go to about 40% incline. I’d say that’s a smart move, but could be an expensive move too.

I’ll be you can find some very steep hills somewhere around you, and if you can’t find a hotel or skyscraper or parking garage with stairs, or even a stairmill at the gym, and start practicing steep and fast climbing intervals of 5-10 minutes in duration.

You don’t need to run these steep inclines, but you need to practice leaning forward and walking them fast (AKA “speed-hiking). You’re going to find new muscles in your lower back and your butt that you didn’t know existed, but that are going to payoff big time when it comes time to race.

And in case you need a primer on speed hiking, here’s a great article on how to train to walk uphill faster. One particularly helpful anecdote from the article is to:

“…here are a number of techniques that can be used to increase the speed of walking. Some of the elites like Kilian Jornet and Anton Kuprichka use both hands to push down on the leading leg as they walk up steep hills. Others use poles, others swing their arms more.

Stride length will also make a big difference. It will depend on the incline and your leg length so experiment with shorter and longer strides until you find which one is most effective.

The best way to do this is to pick a hill, walk up it and time yourself. Repeat the process focusing on something different each time and see what gives you the best results. For example focus on arm swing then try using your hands to push off your front leg and see which is quicker.

Keep in mind that this may change for a steeper or more gradual incline so experiment on different inclines.”

In addition, one thing you’ll notice many elite racers doing is walking the very steep inclines, but then interjecting quick jogs when they cross trails, flat sections, etc. that give them a few quick seconds here and there that quickly add up.

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9. Do Loaded Carries

There was one obstacle in the Vermont Beast that simply broke people.

Seriously.

There were full-grown adult athlete competitors sitting down on the side of the mountain, putting their face into their hands, and crying – because they had absolutely no clue what to do.

So what was the obstacle?

Bx--bRtIgAAd8RaBasically, it involved walking uphill about a quarter mile, and then back down: carrying not one, but two pretty dang heavy sandbags (I’d estimate about 60 pounds). If you have never tried this, you have no idea how amazingly awkward this task can be. In comparison, most races require you to carry one object up a hill, but not two.

Gripping both sandbags at once was nearly impossible. Getting them both onto the shoulders was also nearly impossible. As was carrying one sandbag on the shoulder and one at the side (unless you are my podcast sidekick Hunter McIntyre, who dominated this obstacle).

So – due to my lack of preparation for carrying two awkwardly shaped objects at once – I simply used the leapfrog technique that many of the male elite races were resorting to: carrying one sandbag up about 30 feet, running back downhill, grabbing the next sandbag, and repeating.

If you want to dominate this obstacle, I’d recommend you go buy yourself a couple big ‘ol sandbags and practice carrying them up stairs or a hill, and make the sandbags increasingly heavy each week as you practice (by the way, as Zach Even-Esh and I discuss in this underground strength training tactics podcast, you can save yourself some money and just make your own sandbags that you can easily adjust for weight).

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10. Throw Spears Fast

OK, I lied. This tip is not really relevant to any running event except a Spartan.

But if you plan to race the Vermont Beast, it’s a valuable tip nonetheless.

You’ll encounter multiple spear throws during a race like this, and in the case of the Vermont Beast, some big and sudden gusts of wind as you throw. I made the mistake of using a “dart style” spear throw method, which is very precise and accurate, but not very forceful – and in both cases, my spear got twisted sideways by gusts of wind, resulting in many burpee penalties.

A better method of throwing would be the more forceful and fast spear-chucking strategy outlined here.

The other advantage of throwing spears fast is that, should you ever find yourself in a survival, zombie-apocalypse scenario, you will be able to kill a large animal to eat or slaughter a zombie to survive and live another day. So there’s that.

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Want even more tips? Just subscribe to the free Obstacle Dominator podcast, where top Spartan athlete Hunter McIntyre and I will be rehashing the race via audio.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about these 10 tips to race a Spartan Beast – or your own tips to add? Leave your thoughts below!

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Why The Future Of Health Is Better Than You Think.

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A few months ago, we had an amazingly popular podcast episode with Steven Kotler, author of “Decoding The Science of Ultimate Human Performance“.

During that podcast, Steven mentioned another book he co-wrote with Peter Diamandis (famous founder of the X-Prize Foundation) called “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think“. Frankly, I thought this other book sounded like a bit of an airy-fairy, positive thinking, Everything Is Awesome (cue Lego movie soundtrack here) type of a book.

But then, over the course of just one week, three more people recommended this book to me, including SEALFit commander Mark Divine. So I figured I should probably read it. And I did.

Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think is based on a contrarian view that exponentially growing technologies and other powerful forces are conspiring to better the lives of billions on our planet, that the gap between the privileged few and hardscrabble majority is closing fast, and that this is drastically affecting human access to everything from water to food, energy, healthcare, education, and freedom.

In today’s podcast, you’re going to learn why Steven believes that the future of health is better than you may think, and how you can help make all this a reality. During our discussion you’ll learn:

abundance-book-What the pyramid of abundance is…

-What Steven means about your stress levels when he says “if it bleeds, it leads”…

-How you can grow enough food to feed 9 billion people using vertical farming, skyscrapers “growing food in water”…

-Creative ways to get the world’s population more protein…

-Where “synthetic life” like algae come in for creating biofuel…

-A special new kind of toilet that can power your house with your own feces…

-How a Star-Trek like Tricorder and a Lab On A Chip would work…

-Whether we can actually use genetics to stop obesity…

-What the next steps are, and how can you can take action…

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about the book “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think“? Do you disagree with Steven? Leave your thoughts below!

Underground Strength Training Secrets: How To Get Strong And Stay Strong Using Training Secrets Of The Athletic Elite.

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Zach Even-Esh – author of the new book the “Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and Conditioning” – is one of my friends, and one of the few guys who I truly consider to be an absolute beast when it comes to physical strength.

But he wasn’t always so strong. As a kid, Zach was crippled by self-doubt, low self-esteem, depression and career-ending injuries.

Later in life, he got sidetracked by false prophets trumpeting bodybuilding lies that weakened him and had him beaten down over and over again by stronger, more agile, tougher opponents.

Faced by all these failures he could easily have thrown in the towel and contented himself with a comfortable, average role as a so-so athlete and so-so personal trainer. But Zach had a dream and a vision that was more powerful than the army of setbacks and the bouts of despair.

So he never quit in his relentless quest for athletic supremacy, and continued to persevere and struggle, through multiple odds and continued setback.

Things finally changed when he was told that he was put on earth to make people strong.

And that’s what Zach and I talk about on today’s podcast – not just his backstory, but also how he’s discovered a ton of secret, underground training methods that build strength fast in both men and women.

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During our discussion, you’ll learn:

-Zach’s amazing story of how he got into underground style strength training…

-Zach’s favorite body weight training exercises that you rarely see people doing…

-How to get fit with nothing more than a picnic table…

-How you can make our own sandbag, and the #1 sandbag move that Zach recommends…

-The hardest workout Zach has ever done with a rock…

-The shocking ways you can get fit by just using a tire (and it goes way beyond tire flippin’!)…

-How you can get a keg and how you can use a keg for a workout…

-And much more!

Some of the world’s toughest—and most successful—men have endorsed Zach Even-Esh’s Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and Conditioning as a must-have, go-to resource for developing the supreme athletic durability, multi-functional strength and spiritual fortitude they most prize.

Men like Joe De Sena, founder of The Spartan Race, who says:

“At Spartan, we have always said the world needs a thorough encyclopedia on strength and conditioning. Whether it is our own athletes attending our races, moms, or even the elite special forces we speak to, everyone is looking for an edge. Zach’s Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and Conditioning is exactly what today’s society needs to build a stronger mind, body and life, just as we encourage here at Spartan. The inspirational life lessons shared in this book along with these training methods are what make this book powerful and timeless. You owe it to yourself to read this book if you want to change your life.”

And men like the warrior-athlete Mark Divine, founder of SEALFIT and Unbeatable Mind, NYT bestselling author of 8 Weeks to SEALFIT and The Way of the SEAL, says:

“When it comes to functional strength and conditioning—old school style—Zach Even-Esh has been there, done that. Zach is a master at developing young athletes who not only become world class at their sport, but also develop the strength of character to be successful at whatever they choose in life. I highly recommend this book, as it will open your eyes to reality-based training.”

So in the comments section below, feel free to let Zach and I know which of his methods you’ve tried, be sure to grab his new “Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and Conditioning“, and leave any other feedback and thoughts!

The Top 10 Full Body Fitness Workouts Of The Year.

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It’s probably no secret by now that this weekend I am racing at the Spartan World Championships in Vermont.

And if you read this blog regularly, you know that I’ve just finished an intense crucible in California called SEALFit Kokoro, I’m still racing triathlons, playing in tennis league and now gearing up for hunting and snowboarding season.

So as you can imagine, my workouts are varied, entertaining, and somewhat unorthodox – but perfectly programmed to give you the ultimate mix of strength, speed, power, endurance, durability, coordination, fat loss and flexibility. In today’s article, I’m going to share with you what I consider to be my top 10 full body fitness workouts of the past year. Hopefully these workouts get your wheels turning, and perhaps you can even choose one or two to try this week.

By the way, I post every workout that I do 365 days a year, and photograph my main meals for the members of my Inner Circle, which is just 10 bucks a month. And be sure to check out the end of this article, where you’re going to learn how to get a free signed copy of my book Beyond Training!

Incidentally, you may notice that I don’t run much. I don’t like to run much and even in my peak Ironman racing weeks would run a maximum of 25 miles a week. Nowadays I run about 8-10 miles a week max. So if you’re looking for a high volume run program…go elsewhere. ;)

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1. Battle Rounds – perfect when you have one set of dumbbells and you want a lung-sucking workout that includes some significant load lifting.

Preferably wearing Elevation Training Mask, do 3-5 rounds for time of:

-50 leg levers

-40 mountain climbers

-30 burpees

-20 kettlebell or dumbbell swings

-10 dumbbell manmakers (40lb men/25lb women)

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2. Bike & Burn – works very well if you have an stationary bike or bike setup on a bike trainer in a backyard or park.

-100m heavy sandbag or rock carry

-5 minute bike at tempo pace

-15-25 pull-ups or 3x rope climbs

-5 minute bike at tempo pace

-Uphill drag with chain attached to cinder block (or just pull anything you can find up a hill or for a distance)

-5 minute bike at tempo pace

-15-25x tire flips

-5 minute bike at tempo pace

-Repeat for one additional round if time permits

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3. Sandy Stairs – all you need for this is something heavy to carry and a flight of stairs. You get to work your core during your “rest periods”.

-Find a flight of stairs, preferably 3-5 flights

-At bottom of stairs, do 5-10 sandbag, rock or dumbbell clean and jerks (here’s how to make your own sandbag)

-Carry sandbag to top of stairs. Carry sandbag back down stairs. 

-Set sandbag down and hold plank position for 60 seconds.

-Repeat for as many rounds as possible in available time.

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4. Body By Science – straight from Doug Mcguff’s book and much harder than it looks if you choose a challenging resistance and go as slow as you can go. The Tabata finisher is my evil add-on.

-5-10 minute bike warmup, then 10 seconds down, 10 seconds up per rep for just ONE round of the following:

-8 reps machine chest press

-8 reps machine row

-8 reps machine shoulder press

-8 reps machine-assisted pull-up

-8 reps barbell squat

-Finisher: 1x bike or elliptical tabata set of 4 minutes of 20 second hard, 10 seconds easy

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5. Park Family Workout –  a good way to help make your kids superhuman

Bike or run with kids to park (or solo if kids aren’t your thing), then do 3 rounds of:

-60 second handstand pushups against tree or wall (kids can easily practice this)

-Sprint to fence, then balance on fence for a 10-20 foot walk (kids can balance on curb, sidewalk cracks, etc. if fence is too high)

-Sprint to bar, beam, tree branch, etc., do 5 pullups (kids can simply hang for as long as possible)

-Sprint to bench, 10 spiderman pushups (kids can do regular or knee push-ups)

-Put kids on back, sprint 100 yards with kid on back, then drop down and bear crawl 25 yards, then stand up and finish by sprinting 75 yards (still with kid on back)

-Finish circuit with 10 box or park bench jumps (kids can do step-ups if necessary)

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6. Curtis Operator WOD straight from “8 Weeks To Sealfit” – this thing is long and takes some pretty significant patience but is a big “fitness breakthrough” style workout. 

-100 reps of power clean then, with the barbell or two dumbbells racked on your shoulders, front lunge left leg, then front lunge right leg, then push press at 115 lbs. That’s one rep baby.

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7. 5×5 With Sprint Finisher – very good combination of strength, speed and muscular endurance.

5 sets of 5 reps of:

-Benchpress

-Deadlift

-Backsquat

-Shoulder Press

-Power clean

Finisher: 10×30 second sprint at 8-10mph on 8-10% incline

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8. Hotel Room Workout – I travel a ton and do body weight workouts like this quite a bit. I’ve also done similar workouts (without the cold shower of course) in airport terminals, parks, etc.

At conference, sneak up to room before breakfast, after lunch and before dinner for:

-10 lunge jumps per side

-15 burpees

-20 box jumps onto bed

-25 chair dips

-30 jumping jacks

-2 minute cold shower 

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9. Hotel / Stairs Workout – very good option for when the hotel gym is crappy.

-Run one flight of stairs one step at a time. Stop on landing for 20 second isometric squat.

-Run next flight of stairs two steps at a time. Stop on landing for 20 push-ups.

-Run next flight of stairs by box jumping as many steps at a time. Stop on landing for 20 mountain climbers.

-Repeat for as many flights as possible.

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10. “Recovery” Workout – a rest day still means you can put work into your body.

-Pool – 20×25 meter repeats with no breathing, underwater or freestyle

-Sauna – 30 minutes of box breathing, 4-8 count in, 4-8 count out

-Cold shower – 5 minutes

-Finish with full body foam rolling session

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What do you think? What are your toughest workouts? Your key workouts? Your favorite workouts? Share in the comments section below. I’m going to choose my favorite, or most insane, and send you a signed copy of my book “Beyond Training“. Let the sufferfest begin!

3 Ways Hunting Can Get You Ripped And 10 Ways To Get Fit For Hunting.

hunting fitness

A few weeks ago, in the episode: How To Build Primal Fitness And Endurance By Hunting: An Interview With A Bowhunting Triathlete, I interviewed my friend Shad Wheeler about how hunting can be a practical and useful way to both provide for your needs and also increase your physical fitness.

Now I’m definitely not on some kind of an anti-vegan rant (and am actually just now in the middle of a highly entertaining and interesting book called “Meat Is For Pussies“), but hunting season is quickly approaching and I know that BenGreenfieldFitness has a lot of readers and listeners who are into or interested in hunting, including myself.

And let’s be frank: if you’re huffing and puffing to move an unfit body through the wilderness while carrying a weapon and hunting an animal, you’re not going to have a good time and you’re going to be endangering both yourself and whatever noble beast you are hunting. On the flipside, if you do the right kind of training for hunting, you’re going to get strong fast and whether you’re a guy or girl, you’re going to build plenty of lean muscle, burn lots of fat, and get ripped – in a very practical way.

So in today’s article, Arp Smith, founder of the extreme sports advice startup EpicSportsman.org, is going to provide us with some seasoned hunting fitness advice on why you need to be fit for hunting, then I’m going to give you ten of my best tips on how to get ripped for hunting.

Take it away, Arp…

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Thanks, Ben.

Since the beginning of time, men and women have been hunters. And this instinctual calling carries with it significant health benefits. This is not to say that I’m criticizing the select few who prefer to invest their time in computer coding or playing golf rather than trekking through the wilderness with a weapon and a backpack – it’s just that I personally prefer the latter.

Many folks pack on the pounds during the winter months. What a great time to put the pork rinds down and fetch some venison, sheep, bird or bear instead! In addition to providing great tasting meat for meals, hours of quiet self-reflection time and the opportunity to show your friends what a tough and self-reliant guy or gal you really are, hunting can be of great physical benefit that most other quiet and relaxing sports (such as yoga or walking) simply can’t provide.

In this article, we’ll look at three ways that hunting can get you ripped, and then Ben will give you ten moves to get you fit for hunting.

1. Weapon Weight

Most hunters use larger weapons to take down prey – even smaller prey. Most rifles weigh an average of 12.5 pounds, which isn’t a bad workout if you end up holding that weapon up for six or eight hours (just ask Ben Greenfield, who had to carry a rifle replica for 52 hours last week). Oh yeah, then you have the mag and all the ammo (most hunters bring extra – you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, right?), so call it 15 pounds. For those who choose to hunt with a bow and arrow, the heavier the pull tension, the more it the bow weighs, so in this case you need to steady an eighty-pound draw long enough to get a decent shot off, and that means some serious biceps and forearm muscular endurance.

2. Animal Weight

Ever done a sled pull or sled push, or perhaps dragged a tire in an obstacle race? It’s nothing compared to hauling a dead weight animal. In many states, it’s actually illegal to shoot a doe (female deer). When deer hunting, you need to instead go for the males, which have a tendency to be wider in the body and neck, in addition to having antlers. The older the buck, the bigger the antlers will be, and this adds extra weight. Hunting bucks involves strategy, which generally also involves covering long distances by foot. Once you take down a buck, you still need to transport it from where it lies back to your truck. There is simply no way to get around this. Unless you’re using an oversized ATV, you need to literally drag the animal, and if you’ve covered anything even close to a mile, you will get some intense metabolic conditioning unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.

3. Post-Hunt Preparation

Once you have your hunt back home, you need to prepare it. This involves rope, maneuvering the animal to ensure the proper incisions, bleeding the animal (sorry to be graphic, but it’s just reality), skinning it, butchering it and storing it. An alternative option is to bring the animal into a butcher, but this isn’t quite as self-reliant. The physical labor involved in this process can carry on for as long or longer than the hunt itself. While not quite as taxing when it comes to hauling a heavy load or moving for long distances, this post-hunting prep involves more light physical activity for a longer period of time, similar to gardening or farming.

Now that you know how hunting can get you ripped, let’s get to the point of discussing some real workouts in the woods, and how to get fit for hunting. This is important because many of us lose the game when it comes to getting close to the final target. Because of this, good balance, muscle control and precision in movement are absolutely prized qualities in a a good hunter and these workouts ensure that you hunt like one, and that you aren’t a dangerously over-fatigued slob huffing and puffing your way through the wilderness.

We live in a world littered with distractions, the vast majority of them living within your computer or smartphone – constantly tempting you to stay indoors, stay seated, stay sedentary. Hunting is a fantastic way to disconnect from the grind, unplug from the status quo, and expose yourself to the beauty of nature and the primal instincts within yourself.

Back to you, Ben…

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OK – let’s jump right into the top 10 exercises to get you fit for hunting. I’m a big fan of Strongman style training for hunting, which a new study just showed can get you benefits that go above and beyond just being able to lift a car off the ground or carry a heavy rock across a football field – benefits such as fat loss, lean muscle gain and increased athletic performance – all of which are great for hunting.

1. Bear Crawls, 10-20x 25 yards

Get down on all fours, get your butt low so that your knees are just barely above the ground, and crawl as fast as you can with good form. Next try it uphill. Now downhill. Then try uphill backwards. Then downhill backwards. Then from side to side. If you can execute 10-20x 25 yard of bear crawling in all directions and grades like this, you’re going to be well equipped to crawl and sneak through thickets, brambles and anywhere else off the trail.

2. Boulder Carries, distance varies

Carrying awkward heavy objects trains your hands, grip strength, forearms, shoulders, back and core much better than picking up a symmetrical object like a barbell or dumbbell. So find a heavy rock (I’m a big fan of river rocks for this) and carry it up a hill, then down a hill. Carry it across a field. Put it in a good backpack and ruck with it. Make that rock your friend. When it comes time to carry a pack or carry a dead animal weight, you’ll thank that darn rock.

3. Log Clean And Jerk, 5×5

Hunting also often means camp preparation, moving objects like fallen trees and logs out of the way, and also as you’ve just learned, carrying awkwardly shaped objects. There’s an old log down by the river near my house, and one of my favorite workouts is to run to the river and do a 5×5 workout with the log: 5 sets of 5 reps of picking the log up off the ground to my shoulders (a clean), then splitting my legs apart explosively into a lunge stance and hoisting the log overhead (a jerk).

4. Tire Drags, distance varies

For the next three exercises, you’ll need an old tire. I got a used one for free from the tire store. Try to get something in the 200-250lb range. For a tire drag, you simply place both hands anywhere you can grip on the tire, get your butt low, and drag the tire backwards several feet at a time. You’ll find yourself dragging an animal if your hunt is successful, and this will get your hamstrings and low back ready for it.

5. Tire Flips, 5×10

Tire flips are perfect for developing butt, hamstring, calf, core and explosive strength – all crucial for hunting fitness. Get your butt low, grip the tire with an underhand grip, stand explosively as you get your hands underneath the tire and then flip it over. Then flip it back. Shoot for 5 sets of 10 reps for starters.

6. Tire Pulls, distance varies

Attach a rope to the tire in the same way you might attach rope to a tarp on which you’d be pulling an animal. Drag the tire in as many different ways as you can, including with the rope over your shoulder, seated on the ground rowing with both hands and pulling with the rope attached to your waist.

7. Weighted Step-Ups, 5×10 per leg

When hunting, you’ll find yourself stepping on and off rocks, logs, stumps and up and down hills with a weight on your back and in your arms. So toss a barbell on your back, or a weighted backpack, or hold your heavy rock and find a platform close to knee height that you can step up onto, and then down from, alternating legs as you go.

8. Elastic Tube Front & Side Raises, 5×20-25

The one body part that’s going to get most tired while carrying a bow or a rifle is going to be your shoulders, and an elastic tube with handles is a perfect way to build muscular endurance and lactic acid tolerance in those muscles. Simply stand on top of an elastic tube, hold the handles, and do as many reps as you can to the front, then repeat to the sides.

9. Trail Run With Burpees, 15-60 minutes

Trail running is a great way to simultaneously work all your muscles and your reaction time – from eyes and ears to legs, core, shoulders and arms. Try a fartlek style trail workout that mixes up easy jogging, tempo running and all-out sprints, and for the ultimate test of endurance, stop every 15 minutes or at every major turn, whichever happens more frequently, to stop and do 15 burpees.

10. Rucking, 1-4 hours

Put heavy stuff on your back, like a weighted backpack. Wear a weighted vest. For even more fitness, add an elevation training mask.  Now start moving. Walk around your neighborhood. Go hiking. Climb stairs. Hit the treadmill. Move with weight. It’s a crucial hunting fitness skill that you’ll need to have, and you should try to get a multi-hour ruck in at least once every couple weeks.

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Do you hunt? Do you want to hunt? Do you have questions about hunting fitness? Do you think meat is for pussies? Leave your questions, comments or feedback below and Arp and I promise to reply!

HRV: The Single, Next Big Trend In Biohacking And Self-Quantification And How To Use It.

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I’m really not a big self-quantification nerd.

I don’t like to be plugged into stuff all day long. It just makes me feel like a giant robot (and being constantly plugged into things like bluetooth devices just gives me the tin-foil hat wearing heebie-jeebies).

But I do religiously take one simple measurement every single morning: heart rate variability.

And the method that I use to measure heart rate variability is, in my opinion, the singe, next big trend in biohacking and self-quantification. It’s called SweetBeatLife, and all you need to use it is the SweetBeatLife phone app.

In today’s audio interview, I speak with Ronda Collier, who has more than 25 years of experience in high technology product development with a proven track record of delivering leading edge consumer electronic products. The previous two heart rate variability podcasts with Ronda (that I’d recommend you listen to before you listen to today’s podcast if you don’t know much about heart rate variability) are below:

-Everything You Need To Know About Heart Rate Variability Testing

-The Do-It-Yourself Guide To Using Heart Rate Variability Testing to Track Your Stress and Nervous System Health

By analyzing HRV and Stress along with additional data, SweetBeatLife provides a deep dive into health and provides insight into what activities you engage in that effect the health metrics you care about. This is important because the next big trend in bio-hacking is understanding the relationships between different metrics like your weight, your blood pressure, your blood glucose, the number of steps you take and your actual internal health and nervous system. SweetBeatLife integrates and correlates data from popular fitness platforms like MapMyFitness, Fitbit and Withings and integrates seamlessly with the extensive biometrics from the new HealthPatch sensor (which we talk about in the podcast).

The SweetBeatLife features that we discuss in the podcast include:

Options for Sessions

Monitor/Relax: The Monitor screen allows users to choose which feature they would like to use (Stress Monitoring, HRV for Training, Heart Rate Recovery). After starting a session, the user’s metrics will fill this screen: heart rate, HRV, stress level, current mood.


EKG

EKG (RRs): The EKG-like heart beat trace is the first window on the Monitor screen. By flipping this window around, the user can see several other real-time features.


Geek Screen

NEW Stats: The stats screen, more widely referred to as the “geek” screen, shows all the metrics used in the algorithm calculations and then some! If using the HealthPatch, the user will get to monitor their respiration, energy, skin temperature, steps and activity.


RR IntervalsOther Metrics

NEW Graph: The graph screen shows a real-time building graph of your heart rate from RR Intervals. Turning the phone 90 degrees counter-clockwise will bring up the graph in landscape. Unselecting RR in the top right corner will allow the user to see all of the other metrics in real-time.


HealthPatch

NEW HealthPatch: The HealthPatch by VitalConnect, uses SweetBeatLife’s software to record the following data in real-time: heart rate, respiration, calories out, skin temperature, steps and activity. This is the future of noninvasive monitoring.


Correlation

NEW Correlation: The correlation screen uses a patent pending algorithm to correlate all of the Fitbit data the user has shared with SweetBeatLife. This data will come from the app itself, the HealthPatch and any other apps the user has authorized (Fitbit, Withings, and/or MapMyFitness). Settings allow the user to view demos or analyze the correlations between their own data. The user chooses which metric they want to correlate to the others (HRV, stress, or weight). They can choose to see all of their data or put in specific date ranges. By doing this, the user can see their current, max, and min metric compared to their other data. Touching the bubbles flips them for more data.


HRV for Training: In competitive sports, improved performance is achieved by alternating periods of intensive training with periods of relative rest. SweetBeatLife uses patent pending algorithms to create a personalized reference line for the user based on 3-minute daily HRV readings. Using the reference line, the app recommends the user “train as usual”, have a “low exertion day”, or take a “rest day”.


Food Sensitivity

Food Sensitivity Test: To use the food sensitivity test, a user must first take a morning reading of the pulse to establish a baseline for the day. Before eating a meal, the user records the foods comprising the next meal and performs a pulse test. After the user is finished eating, the app will prompt users to record their heart rates every 30 minutes until 90 minutes have passed. Once testing is complete, the meal will either pass or fail for food sensitivity. The Food Sensitivity test methodology developed by immunologist Dr. Arthur F. Coca can be found on the web.


HistoryHistory Sessions

History: Accessing saved sessions is easier than ever. The history is split into three sections: charts, sessions, and food. Now users can separate their food sensitivity tests from the rest of their sessions. By selecting a saved session, the user can view their metrics in a graph, upload to MySweetbeat, Facebook or Twitter, and new capabilities now allow users to send their RR intervals in a CSV file to any email address. .


Grab the SweetBeatLife phone app by clicking here, visit the SweetBeatLife website here, and leave any questions, comments or feedback below! Either Ronda or I will answer and point you in the right direction.

A Book I Should Probably Hate, But Don’t, And How You Can Get The Hard Copy Free.

yuri elkaim book

Yuri Elkaim (pictured above) is a bit of an outlier and renegade in the nutrition and health community. His mission is to empower everyday men and women with proper nutrition and health wisdom so they can take better control of their own health.

He also holds High Honours degree in Physical Education and Health/Kinesiology from the University of Toronto, is a former professional soccer player, and for 7 seasons acted as the strength & conditioning/nutrition coach for the nationally ranked men’s soccer program at the University of Toronto.

Some refer to him as the “health whisperer” for being to get to the heart of what matters and produce amazing health, weight loss, and fitness results where there seemed little hope.

And he just wrote a book.

I must admit, his new book “The All Day Energy Diet” is not the kind of book I would not normally read.

After all, Yuri – despite being an ex-professional soccer player – is bigtime into juicing, cleanses, detoxing – and I guarantee the guy eats far, far less steak than me…

…so I would *almost* classify him as a Whole Foods hippie.

But his book is, frankly, brilliant.

All day energy dietIt covers dietary concepts that I haven’t ever seen discussed in a book – concepts like:

-adjusting your blood pH with the foods you eat…

-how to test your adrenals without expensive lab tests…

-which foods literally exhaust your digestive enzymes…

-a new thing called the “PRAL” load of specific meals…

-six myths about plant protein

-how to choose the best kinds of coconut oil and butter…

-and much more.

I learned a ton from this book, and Yuri is a fellow athlete, a father, and a very smart dude, so I’m happy to tell you about his new book.

You can grab your hard copy now by clicking here.

The best thing is, you get it for free.

Yeah, free (it’s normally $25.95 retail value).

Yuri is giving away a few hundred copies of the book for free, starting tonight at midnight (a few minutes ago), so you can go grab it now by clicking here (if there’s any left). Good luck.

 If you have questions, comments or feedback about the All Day Energy Diet then leave your thoughts below! By the way the free book is a hard copy shipped to your house, not an ebook. And I’ll vouch for this dude, the book is good. Enjoy.

 

 

26 Mile Night Hikes, Surf Swim Torture, 450 Pound Giant Logs And More: What To Expect at SEALFit Kokoro Camp And 9 Ways To Get More Tough.

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Welcome to Part 3 of the SEALFit series, a journey of intense physical discovery and a chance to learn how to achieve amazing feats of performance without breaking. If you missed the first two articles in this three-part series, then click here for Part 1: “What Kind Of Training, Gear And Nutrition Do You Use For SEALFit Academy And Kokoro Camp? and click here for Part 2: “Laughing Yoga, Hyperoxygenation, Navy SEAL Workouts And More – What To Expect And How To Prepare For the SEALFit Academy.

In this final article, you’re going to find out exactly what to expect at SEALFit Kokoro Camp, and pick up plenty of tips for pushing through your own physical and mental performance barriers, including my own stories of 26 mile night hikes, surf swim torture, 450 pound giant logs and more – and 9 tips to conquer your own event, whether it’s an adventure race, Ironman, marathon, cycling event, Spartan race, or anything else.

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What Is Kokoro?

So what exactly is Kokoro? If you’re not familiar with this intense crucible of physical and mental hardship, the video below will give you just a bit of the flavor…

And here is how Kokoro is described by SEALFit:

“SEALFIT Kokoro Camp is, quite simply, the world’s premier training camp for forging mental toughness, modeled after the US Navy SEAL Hell Week. Yes, it is brutal. No, it’s not for everyone. You may not qualify, or make it through the training. Yet, if you’re ready for this challenge…

You’ll find it to be an experience that changes your life forever.

Kokoro is designed to break you down, then rebuild you into a powerful leader and consummate team player—the kind that makes everyone else better. Whatever your path in life, the confidence and wisdom gained during this 3-day intensive can multiply your performance and success by a factor that’s impossible for you to even imagine right now.

Kokoro Camp is designed to help you discover the deep power of your resilient spirit over your mind, and your mind’s control over your body. The program is skillfully executed by a cadre of SEALs with over 125 cumulative years of Special Warfare experience.

You’ll be pushed to your limits, because that’s where the biggest breakthroughs happen. That’s also why this is not “something you try”. It takes absolute, 100% commitment. You must have a deep and powerful reason for attending this camp, and be ready to pay the price for the ultimate freedom you’ll gain by the end.

Our elite team will be there—not to coddle or care for you—but to push you beyond your perceived capability limits. Just when you think you can’t go any further, we’ll help you find a source of strength, of courage and power that you’ll have access to for the rest of your life.”

One Ironman triathlete I know who completed Kokoro described it as 10 Ironman triathlons in a row with no sleep.

Woo-hoo. Sign me up. 

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Kokoro Day 1

Every Kokoro has a number, and this particular one was to be Kokoro 34. As you may have already read, by the time Kokoro rolled around I’d been at SEALFit for 6 days training with the SEALFit Comprehensive Academy. So I was already physically prepared with all the gear, nutrition and equipment I discuss in this post, and felt very mentally prepared too.

So on Friday morning, I simply pulled on my stylish black pants, threw on my white t-shirt, generously covered my feet in anti-friction creme, pulled on compression pants, sock liners, wool socks, slipped into my combat boots, slammed about 1000 calories of liquid fuel (chia seeds and honey from the Natural Force Nutrition I talk about in this fuel-prep post) and walked onto the Grinder at 11am ready to rumble.

We’d already had a brief team orientation during which I was nominated as “team leader”, meaning it would be my responsibility during Kokoro to ensure everyone was on time, in the right place, wearing the right uniform, with the right attitude. Of course, this also meant that if anyone on the team messed up, I’d be having to take the punishment that comes with that responsibility.

SEALFit Academy

We all stood on the Grinder for about 10 minutes, holding our sand-filled PVC pipe “weapons”, fidgeting nervously and waiting for our orders.

Then all hell broke loose and the beatdown began. Just imagine the worst hazing experience you can think of, then throw in a bunch of mean current and ex-Navy SEALs and multiply it by twenty.

Half a dozen SEALFit coaches emerged from all directions, fully equipped with cold water hoses, loudspeakers, sirens, and plenty of attitude. Our entire team spent the next three hours getting verbally abused, thrown into ice baths while breathing through a tiny cut-off plastic water bottle, cranking out pushups with high pressure water getting sprayed into the face, doing dozens and dozens of leg levers, burpee pull-ups, team hill sprints and a chaotic assortment of other exercises – and generally getting a good old-fashioned ass-kicking as our official welcome to Kokoro.

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Three hours later, the 19 men and women in our class stood in a two line formation on The Grinder – shell-shocked, panting, trembling, crying and pretty much in complete disarray.

Finally, Coach Divine spoke up:

“Why are you here?”

Silence.

“Greenfield, why are you here?”

“I’m raising two amazing humans who can grow up to make this world a better place, Coach Divine, and to do that I need to become the strongest version of me.”

Hooyah. I had a big smile on my face during that entire initial beatdown, thanks to knowing my why and thanks to the “Big 4″ lessons I had learned in the SEALFit Academy: breathe, use positivity, visualize and create mini-goals. So if an instructor says “100 burpees”, I would take one deep breathe, smile, visualize myself nailing every burpee perfectly, then make it a goal to do 10 sets of 10. This practice helped me enormously during the entire Kokoro experience.

Resting and listening to Commander Divine explain the importance of our “Why” didn’t last long. I was jolted back into reality as an entire bucket of ice water got dumped onto my head. Then again. And again. And it was back into cold, wet burpees.

After another hour of beatup on The Grinder, Coach Lance Cummings suddenly put an end to the madness, and spread out a blanket with 26 random items for us to remember, like a bandaid, an army man, a ziptie, superglue, a tennis ball, etc.. As a team, we had 20 seconds to look at the blanket, memorize all items (this is called a KIMS exercise), then rush off with 5 minutes to prepare for a 26 mile night ruck mission that involved finding a fire tower on the top of Mt. Palomar, surveying it for size, activity, location, uniforms of those inside, timing of guard switches and equipment, and then recording and bringing that information back down the mountain.

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Equipped with a rucksack, sandbag, three canteens, two lightsticks and one MRE (mine was fancy vegetarian risotto), we all piled into two vans at about 6pm for the hour long drive to the base of the recon mission, during which the coaches kept the vans at a comfortable 100 degree temperature, which meant the majority of us were mildly dehydrated before the mission even began. Just before heading up Mt. Palomar, the coaches surprised us with a break-out battle simulation on the hard, rocky desert just outside of Temecula, during which we spent nearly an hour crawling on the dirt and thorns on our bellies and forearms with our rucksacks on our back. This meant that by the time the steep ruck up the side of Mt. Palomar began, we were already bloody, dusty, hungry, dehydrated and flat-out beat up.

Then the mission actually began, with our class of 19 split into three groups of five and one group of four, spaced by 15 minute intervals and each led by a SEALFit coach to push us along the way. Within just a few minutes, I realized we were in trouble when one guy in our group began coughing, wheezing and hacking uncontrollably. Turns out he had quit smoking just a couple months ago. Bad move. For the next 11 hours, the other members of our team took care of hauling his ruck, carrying his weapon, pushing him, pulling him and guiding him to the finish.

When we finally arrived back to the van at 5:30am, he quit. Thanks dude. Another guy dropped out to, claiming he was “tired”. Huh. Most of the rest of the team who hadn’t quit was hallucinating, hypoglycemic and covered in blisters. The next 30+ hours promised to be quite interesting, and I wondered how many others would drop out – internally promising myself to commit to the team and get as much positive energy as possible spread around so that the quitting didnt’ happen. In the van on the way back, they pumped out classical music, turned up the heater, and tried to lull the team to sleep, so I used 10 pieces of paper to create a list of all the items in the KIIMS blanket, then handed it out to everyone in the van to memorize. We still lost a few exhausted folks who dozed off. There’d be hell to pay for later.

We finally arrived back at SEALFit around 7am, where we were immediately thrust back out onto the Grinder and informed that we had not only failed the mission (a repeating theme at SEALFit is nothing is ever “good enough”), but that we also had rested for way too long in the van ride home.

This was when they broke out the 350-450 pound logs to commence Log PT, during which we spent nearly 2 hours doing every exercise imaginable with a log, including “up log” (picking the log up to the shoulders), “down log” (bringing the log back down to the ground), log overhead press, log jumping jacks, log burpees, log benchpress, log sit-ups, and finally a very long and arduous log “neighborhood tour” of Encinitas, during which we hauled the logs up and down the streets.

logpt

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By this time, people were sunburnt, had injured and cut-up shoulders from the logs, many literally had bloody nubs for heels and blister-covered toes, and hypoglycemia and dehydration were obvious. I was inwardly thankful for the lessons I’d learned from Ironman about foot care, eating and drinking, and my only complaints thus far were a nearly torn left pec muscle from the 42 minute 1000 push-up challenge just two days prior, and some very, very chapped lips (as one Coach put it during Kokoro “Greenfield, are you wearing lipstick?”)

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As we replaced the logs and returned to The Grinder, we were all wondering if we’d get to eat. It was already 1pm in the afternoon, the heat was bearing down, and we’d been heavily exercising for the past 26 hours.

If only we were so lucky. Next came “Muscle Beach”.

Muscle Beach is basically a chance for the Coaches to torture the team with more physical PT, but in a game-style format. We were told to run a half mile to the beach, jump in the ocean, cover ourselves completely in sand to make a “sugar-cookie” then run back.

We ran back to The Grinder covered in sand. Not good enough. We had to sprint back to the ocean, down the 140 stairs, back up the 140 stairs, and do it again, getting even sandier this time. Then came sandbag relay races, thruster contests, stretcher races (one person is “dead” on a medical stretcher, and the other members of the team carry them in a race), hill sprints and memory contests.

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After Muscle Beach, we were hosed down on the Grinder, then tasked with emptying every barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, medicine ball, sandbag, weight plate and each tiny little object out of the entire US Crossfit facility, carrying it to the top of Lookout Hill a 1/4 mile away, returning everything back down the to they gym, painstakingly cleaning each object, and returning it exactly back to where we found it. I will never again complain about cleaning my home gym. By the time we completed the gym four hours later, my hands and fingers were burning and my forearm muscles felt shredded to pieces. Talk about grip training.

When we finally finished, there was (no surprise here) two vans waiting outside.

We were instructed to grab our sandbag filled rucksack, three canteens full of water or Gatorade, 1 MRE (meal replacement), 2 lightsticks, our weapon, and pile onto the vans…

…the worst was yet to come.

Lessons From Day 1

-Know your why. 

-For any long effort, including rucks, Ironman, marathon, etc. it pays to use sock liners, anti-friction creme and take excellent care of your feet

-When you get a chance to fuel, fuel hard. Stay ahead of your hunger and stay ahead of your thirst if food and water availability is an unknown.

———————————————-

Kokoro Day 2

From Encinitas, the vans drove us about 13 miles down the road to a beach with deep sand, high cliffs and big surf breakers. Ironically, it was primarily populated with nudes throwing frisbees, playing beach volleyball, and lounging on blankets – in stark contrast to 17 Kokoro team members in white shirts, black pants and combat boots. But the last thing I was thinking about were the boobs bouncing on the naked girls playing volleyball next to us. We were immediately forced into a fast jog-run ruck down the beach in a two-line formation, all while chanting the poem “Invictus”:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

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As we chanted and ran, members of our team frequently stumbled and hit the sand face-first, and some could barely hobble due to open and bleeding blisters, but we’d just pick them up, carry their rucks, handle their weapons, and keep going. This was the closest I’d been to witnessing individuals at the brink of complete physical fatigue simply survive by putting one foot in front of the other to keep moving forward, and also the closest I’ve been to an entire team supporting every individual, no matter what. It was heartwarming, in only the way one’s heart could be warmed when shivering your ass off running down a cold California beach.

After an hour of fast rucking, as the sunset approached, we arrived at the base of a cliff and were instructed to ditch our rucksacks and weapons, and go lay down in the surf with our heads facing the ocean and our feet facing the coaches.

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The surf torture was about to commence.

The Making Of A Navy Seal has a pretty good description of surf torture. It goes like this:

“We soon started surf torture. We ran into the ocean until we were chest deep in water, formed a line, and linked arms as the cold waves ran through us. Soon we began to shiver. Instructors on bullhorns spoke evenly, “Gentlemen, quit now, and you can avoid the rush later. You are only at the beginning of a very long week. It just gets colder. It just gets harder.”

“Let’s go. Out of the water!” We ran out through waist-deep water, and as we hit the beach a whistle blew: whistle drills. One blast of the whistle and we dropped to the sand. Two blasts and we began to crawl to the sound of the whistle. We crawled through the sand, still shaking from the cold, until our bodies had warmed just past the edge of hypothermia. Then, “Back in the ocean! Hit the surf!”

We fought our way through that night and through the next day. As the sunlight weakened at the beginning of the next night, the instructors ran us out to the beach. We stood there in a line, and as we watched the sun drift down, they came out on their bullhorns: “Say goodnight to the sun, gentlemen. And you men have many, many more nights to go.”

When they really wanted to torture us, they’d say, “Anybody who quits right now gets hot coffee and doughnuts. Come on, who wants a doughnut? Who wants a little coffee?”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw men running for the bell.”

I’d read about it before, but never experienced surf torture until now.

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As we lay there in the ocean, watching the sunset and preparing for a very long night, my entire body was shaking and trembling from the icy cold water. I could barely open my eyes because they were full of burning sand, and my mouth and ears were also filled with tiny rocks, sand, and cold water. Despite over 80 triathlons in some of the most insane open water conditions imaginable, this was the closest I’d ever come to experiencing a panicked and desperate sense of cold and impending drowning.

I have no clue how long we were in the surf. I completely ditched all expectations of ever getting out, and simply pulled the other members of my team close to stay warm, tried to focus on my breath, and imagined each breath bringing warmth into my body.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, we were pulled out of the ocean – and the rucking commenced.

Until 5am that morning, the horrible pattern of rucking and surf torture continued…

…run, stumble, fall, march…

…sprint to the ocean, get completely covered in cold water, shiver, try to block the cold, try not to panic, sit-ups, push-ups, burpees, full water submersion, waves crashing into your face…

…back out of ocean, roll in sand to make yourself into a sand covered “sugar cookie”, verbal abuse from the coaches…

…run, stumble, fall, march…

Every hour or so, a coach would monitor the class and walk down the line of attendees with a flashlight, stopping in front of each of us and shining a light in our face, searching for signs of hypothermia like extreme shivering, a slurred speech, clumsiness, or a far away look. By this point we were nearly all in that hypothermic state, but kept getting thrown back into the pitch-black ocean anyways. I just kept telling myself that they probably wouldn’t let use die because of liability issues. I’m still not sure that’s true, but it helped at the time.

And then somehow, after nearly 9 hours of marching, surf torture, rucking, running, stumbling, falling, hallucinating, crying and even crawling, we made it back Encinitas and stumbled into the SEALFit facilities and back onto the Grinder. It was still pitch black on the Grinder, and several more fresh and well-slept coaches were there waiting for us as we formed back into our neat lines and awaited our next orders, swaying and shaking from extreme tiredness and cold.

We were then  instructed to line up next to our “swim buddy”, one other member of the team who was relatively comparable in size and stature. As I stood across from my swim buddy, Coach Mike told us to stare into our swim buddy’s eyes and gather strength from them, since we were about to complete a classic Crossfit workout named after a fallen Navy SEAL “Murph” – which is comprised of a mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups and 300 squats.

As I stood there and stared into my swim buddy’s eyes, he abruptly fell asleep standing up and then collapsed to the ground. So much for gathering strength from our swim buddy! I quickly picked him up and supported him on my shoulders. Then the music began and chaos ensued as we commenced Murph with bleeding hands, blistered feet and quads that felt very, very close to complete muscular failure and rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which you’ve broken down so much skeletal muscle that you begin to go into kidney failure. As my swim buddy struggled through the mile, I pushed him, pulled him talked him through every step. I could tell the dude simply need to eat some damn food, but there was none to be had.

The rest of Murph was a blur. We took it 3 pull-ups at a time, 5 push-ups at a time and 10 squats at a time. 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups and 300 squats later, I stood there as the beautiful sun came up and signaled the start of Day 3. Sleep and rest were still a very long way off and I kept my fingers crossed that I’d somehow be able to finish, but at this point, I was in completely unknown territory, having pushed my body and mind farther and harder than I’d ever thought possible, and a bit nervous about whether I had anything left in the tank for myself, much less the rest of my team. This was going to be tough.

Freaking Ironman triathlon is a catered walk-in-the-park compared to this thing.

Lessons From Day 2

-You can be cold for really long periods of time and bounce back just fine. If you are cold, move as much as possible to stay warm and hold a buddy close.

-One of the first signs of hypoglycemia is sleepiness. If you start to get sleepy during a hard event, resist the urge to slow down or sleep, and instead eat. Lots.

-If the volume of a distance or task is unknown, then release expectations from your mind, don’t anticipate “number of reps” and simply settle in for the long haul. Expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised.

———————————————-

Kokoro Day 3

Still shaking and panting from Murph, our team – still 17 strong – stood on the Grinder and awaited the next orders, this time from the man in charge of the entire SEALFit operations: Commander Mark Divine (who I interviewed on this podcast)

Coach Divine informed us that we were about to head back down to the beach and break into two groups. Group 1 would be whichever group was able to keep up with a fast sprint down the beach and was to be the Assault group who would complete a special mission. Group 2 would be comprised of whoever couldn’t keep up, and would be the Support group who would stay back and complete a separate mission.

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A coach who was standing by mumbled quietly to me, “It pays to be a winner, Greenfield”.

I suddenly knew that it would be very, very important to make Group 1 Assault team.

It was time to dig deep.

One SEALFit coach, Coach James, an ex-pro Ironman triathlete took off, and I knew he’d be the rabbit to chase. Channeling as much inner strength as possible, I forgot the fact that I’d been pushing my body for the past 40+ hours and took off at a rapid pace, keeping him no more than a few feet ahead of me. I could hear the footsteps of the rest of the team falling behind, and within a few minutes of fast and painful sprinting in the deep beach sand, it was suddenly just me and the Coach.

I had no clue how long we’d be going, but I hung on for dear life, knowing that I need to make that Assault team. Breathe. Stride. Breathe. Stride. Block out the pain.

We finally stopped and I looked back, lungs burning. Six other team members were about a hundred yards back. The rest of the team was nowhere to be seen. I’d made the Assault team in first place, and it looked like there’d be a total of seven of us on the Assault mission. The Support team would stay back and, from what I gathered, have an extremely unpleasant experience.

The Assault team took off again, with Coach James, Coach Mike, Coach Divine and a handful of other coaches. We sprinted up beach stairs, down beach stairs, onto obstacles, off obstacles, through deep sand, across water, back into sand, all at the fastest pace we’d gone yet in Kokoro.

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If this was the easy part, I shuddered at what the Support team must be doing at this point (it turned out they were subjected to a few more hours of burpees, push-ups, sit-ups, cold water conditioning and surf torture). We finally reached a tall lifeguard tower, and had to work together as a team to get everyone up into the tower without using the ladder, at which point the rescue mission was complete.

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Huffing and puffing from the sprint down the beach, we were then led to a cold, dark, and horrible smelling river that ran along the inside of the beach, and Coach Divine instructed us to cross through to the other side of the river and select a large rock which represented our “will to live.”

“If you choose a rock that’s too small, then that’s how little you think of yourself and you have to live with that decision,” he said. “But if you pick one too large and you’ve made an irresponsible decision because your ego is too big, then you’ll have to suffer with that rock all the way back down the beach to where we started.” 

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I walked across the river, which went about two feet over my head in some spots, and within 5 minutes found the perfect rock. It was a big, heavy stone about the size of three large dictionaries, and perhaps around 60 lbs. But it was also nearly perfectly square, and I knew that because it wasn’t an awkward shape that I’d be able to carry it a long distance by shifting it from my chest, to my left shoulder, to my right shoulder, then back to my chest.

I picked up the rock and carried it back across the river, forced at several points to hold my breath and simply walk under the water holding my rock. Emerging from the murky river, I lined up next to the coaches and waited nearly ten minutes for the rest of the Assault team to finish the task.

One member, a strapping muscular guy covered in tattoos, came back across the river with a rock nearly half the size of mine.

Coach Divine took one look at it and smirked at him: “Switch with Greenfield.”

I was suddenly handed a rock that couldn’t have weighed more than twenty pounds. Wow. Relief.

“Well played, Greenfield.” said another Coach, and we set off down the beach to quickly ruck 2 miles back to the Support team.

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When we arrived back to the Support team, the other ten members of our team were buried completely in the sand and covered in seaweed, looking worn, shell-shocked and shivering uncontrollably. They looked like they’d been to hell and back while we were out on the Assault mission. Nobody was talking much, and I didn’t know how long they’d been buried in the sand, but everyone seemed very crestfallen. The Assault team tried to cheer them up. The coaches told us to shut up and threw us all back into the ocean for more calisthenics, then marched us back to the Grinder.

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Strangely enough, at this point, about 9am on Day 3, I had a big smile on my face. I was ready for anything. I’d caught my second wind.

Bring it on, baby.

As we stood on the Grinder once again awaiting our orders, Coach Cummings approached the team:

“Who wants breakfast?”

I had a sinking feeling that this wasn’t going to end well, but raised my hand anyways, along with the rest of the team.

Coach Cummings continued:

Follow me. I’m bringing you down to a hot pancake, eggs and bacon breakfast at the diner down the street. You will quietly enter, you will eat everything on the table, you will not leave a single scrap of food, then you will quietly file out and follow me.”

We arrived at the restaurant to sit down to pancakes that were literally the size of dinner plates, along with scrambled eggs, hashbrowns and bacon. I’d been taking good care of my nutrition up to this point, and unlike many members of our team, my stomach wasn’t shrunk or and wouldn’t be shocked by this massive intake of calories, so I stuffed my face and polished off my plate in five minutes flat. After finishing my breakfast, I moved on to my teammates’ meals. Knowing the day was far from over and we had plenty more work to do, I added ketchup, peanut butter, sugar, salt, and anything else I could grab, along with 5 enormous cups of coffee.

As my team’s eyes rolled back in their head and several began to turn pale white with sickness and bloating, I ate and ate and ate. It felt fantastic. Perhaps all those years of stuffing my face with 400 calories an hour while charging down the hot highway during the Ironman marathon was paying off.

We filed outside. Two guys puked. Someone in front of me crapped their pants. Literally. It was an unmistakable, audible and smellable diaper moment.

And then we began to run. Yes, run. We ran to the base of Lookout Hill. We did an uphill backwards bear crawl. Mmm…there’s that syrup. Then uphill burpee broad jumps. Anyone tasting egg? Then hill sprints. Gotta love hashbrowns twice-cooked. Then more bear crawls. And mountain climbers. And jumping jacks. And partner carries. By this time, the mid-morning heat was building and the sweat was beginning to pour, so there was more puking. More crapping of pants. People were re-tasting the pancake breakfast two, three and four times over.

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Perhaps it was the extreme amounts of coffee, the smile on my face, or the fact that I metabolize food extremely quickly because I’m one skinny dude, but at this point, I felt great. I kept sprinting and pushing out the burpees until the very last minute they marched our sweaty and smelly team back to the Grinder.

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Then came exactly what you want to do when you’re sleep-deprived, sore, hallucinating and surrounded by a team with crap in their pants and puke on their mouths…

…hot yoga.

That’s right –  we arrived back to the US Crossfit facility for hot yoga led by Commander Mark Divine. As the peaceful yoga music played and the room grew warmer and warmer, I struggled to keep my eyes open. Things started getting blurry.

Warrior 1…focus. Warrior 2…focus dammit. Child’s pose…keep your eyes open. Plank pose…block out that torn pec. Chair pose…c’mon quads, hang on. Warrior 3…don’t pass out.

For a full hour, we continued in yoga. Time and time again, Coach Divine dropped statements like:

“You’ve accomplished so much, and now you’re almost done…”

“Kokoro 34 is nearly secured…”

“Congratulate yourself on what you’ve finally finished…”

Bull-crap, I thought. I could see out of the corner of my eye that there were SEALFit coaches milling on the Grinder, I could see someone dragging a hose into an ice bath, I could see some of the locals gathering on the benches to witness yet another beat-down, and by the time we got into the final “corpse pose” of yoga, lying on our backs with our eyes closed, I knew the last thing I should be doing was sleeping.

So as our entire team lay on our backs on yoga mats with eyes closed, beginning to snore, I instead stared intensely at the ceiling, performing sharp, rapid warrior breathing (which you can read about here), clenching and unclenching my fist, and strongly fighting the urge to sleep. C’mon Greenfield, I thought, exercise that will to live! As the music came to a close, I looked around and could see nearly the entire team was sound asleep. This could get ugly, fast as a bunch of deep sleepers were suddenly roused into an intense firefight.

Because my eyes were open, I saw three doors to the yoga room quietly swing open and several Coaches sneak into the room holding megaphones. I smiled. I was ready. Bring it. Here it comes…

“BLEEP! BLEEP! BLEEP!”

The megaphones began blasting sirens and the Coaches began screaming profanities at us, “Get your motherf#$* asses back on The Grinder and get your shoes on you lazy fu#$%!”.

It was time to suffer. I dropped into a bear crawl position and hauled ass outside only to find complete chaos. Our shoes, which we’d been instructed to neatly place in front of the yoga room, were now thrown under benches, into bushes, and over fences, and the entire Grinder turned into an instant clusterf#$^ as everyone scrambled to find their gear.

I was immediately pulled aside by two coaches, “Get in the ice bath NOW, Greenfield”.

I quickly plunged into the ice bath and a Coach shoved a tiny black mask on my face, “Go under, Greenfield, and don’t come up until I tap you.”

It was chaos everywhere. My teammates were running, crying, crawling, rolling, scrambling and coaches were everywhere, shouting, screaming, blasting sirens through their megaphones. I couldn’t hear myself think. But I took one deep enormous breath, cleared my thoughts, smiled and went underwater.

All went silent.

By this time in Kokoro, cold water was my wheelhouse, and in my Kokoro prep, I’d spent many, many sessions in the frigid Spokane river practicing my breathholds. So time stood still as I went under. It could have been two minutes, four minutes, five minutes, I wasn’t really sure. I was in this strange, deep, meditative state. But when that tap finally came on my shoulder and I sat up and gasped for precious oxygen, I knew I was suddenly invincible.

I turned around and smiled at the ice bath Coach, “Is that it? I got more, Coach.”

He stared back at me, “Give me that mask.”

I handed it to him.

“Get outta here, Greenfield.”

I stood up, and as soon as I did, Coach Will grabbed me, handed me a blindfold, and shouted over the chaos: “Put this on, Greenfield!”

I put on the blindfold and the world went dark again.

“Greenfield, you think you’re such a good leader, you think you know how to lead a team, well guess what – now we’re going to take away your senses and see how you do then! It’s time to learn how to quit leading and start following, Greenfield.”

Interesting approach. I smiled again. I was now in a strange zone where I felt like I could literally perform forever. Kokoro wasn’t over yet, but I knew inside that I’d suddenly reached my 20x potential. Nothing could bother me now.

For the next two hours, each of my teammates took turns walking me through every element of the beatdown – log balancing and falling, handstands, wall-sits, burpees, push-ups, bear crawls, tire flips and the list goes on – I did it all with zero eyesight, relying upon and trusting the instructions of my team.

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Finally, after two hours, my blindfold was removed and I squinted into the blazing afternoon sun. Within ten seconds, a high pressure, icy-cold water stream was sprayed into my face, “Get a rope, Greenfield!”

I grabbed a giant battle rope and our team was divided into two, then thrown into a giant tug-of-war in the back ally behind SEALFit. My pants were already ripped to shreds, so more dragging and scraping on the textured concrete didn’t seem like a big deal. Losers got ice baths, so my team pulled hard and won six tug-of-wars in a row before the coaches finally got bored and brought us back onto the Grinder.

Out came the KIMS blanket.

“Drop!” shouted Coach Cummings.

We all dropped into a push-up position.

“One by one, I want you to tell me every item that was in this blanket!” 

I knew all 26 items by heart. I’d spent every last minute of the 3 hours we’d had in a van simply reciting the items over and over again. Unfortunately, we could only recite one at a time. So for nearly 30 minutes, our team stayed in that push-up position recalling the items. I kept collapsing to the ground as my left pec muscle would no longer work. I wanted it to, but at this point, it simply wouldn’t cooperate.

After what seemed like an eternity, we finished the last item in the blanket –  a tiny screw – and stood up, shoulders, core, chest and necks completely shot.

Coach Kim stood waiting for us…

“You failed the recon mission, and that’s 250 burpees”…

…”you fell asleep on the vans and that’s another 100 burpees”…

…”you failed to clean the gym properly, and that’s another 150 burpees”…

…”but we’re not going to do just any old burpee…”

…”split into teams and grab a log”…

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Woo, boy. Here we go. The enormous 350-450 pound logs came back out and we piled them onto our backs and shoulders. Up log. Down log. Burpee. One. Up log. Down log. Burpee. Two. Up log. Down log. Burpee. You lazy f*^@s, that one didn’t count you didn’t do it together, start over. Up log. Down log. Burpee. One.

Things were going downhill fast. We had team members with eyes barely open, team members who literally could not raise their arms above their head, team members who could no longer take one step forward due to enormous bleeding blisters across the bottom of the entire feet. This was going to get dangerous very soon.

But Coach Kim kept going.

“You expected 50 hours? Are you kidding me? We’ll stay here all night. I hope nobody has a plane flight tonight because this thing is far from over.”

Looks of desperation. I could see the morale quickly dropping. I was in this for the long haul, but was getting really concerned about someone cracking their head open with a log at this point.

We’re going to take these logs down to Swamis beach and get in the ocean. It’s time for you to truly start suffering.”

Damn. I tightened my grip on the log. Here we go.

Suddenly a booming voice sounded. It was Commander Mark Divine.

“KOKORO 34 SECURED.”

Silence. Did he just really say that?

“CONGRATULATIONS, KOKORO 34 SECURED.”

Holy crap.

We made it.

What commenced afterwards was the most tear-filled, heartfelt, exhausted, relieved and emotional group hug I’ve ever had. Our entire team doggy piled in on one another and smothered each other in tears, laughter, shouts of victory, hoots, hollers and celebration. We did it. We fu&^#% did it. We’re done. We made it. Kokoro 34 secured.

Kokoro 34 secured.

Hooyah Kokoro 34.

Mission accomplished.

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Lessons From Day 3

-Your facial expression heavily dictates your emotions. Smile when the going gets tough. This also makes a tormenter less likely to enjoy tormenting you.

-The human body is versatile. You can train your gut to exercise with lots of food inside. Practice eating “on the go” occasionally during workouts if you’re training for any event during which you’ll need to eat.

-Before any tough task, from lifting a heavy weight to jumping into cold water, take one deep breath. You will always have time for one breath.

—————————————

kokoro34So that’s it!

The past 8 days have been some of the most memorable of my life, and I now know that I am capable physically and mentally of 20x more than I thought before. Hopefully you now have a glimpse of how you can handle tough events that get thrown your way.

Finally, even if you don’t plan on doing a Kokoro event, it’s important that you also choose at least one event each year that takes you far outside your comfort zone and scares you. This will keep you constantly growing physically, mentally and emotionally, it will keep you young, and it will allow you to live a life without fear and regret. So what will your next big event be? Think about it and if you want some serious social accountability, tell us about it in the comments section below.

In the meantime, if you have signed up for a SEALFit Kokoro or Academy event and want to hop on the phone with me for a personalized one-on-one consult to get you ready physically and mentally, just click here and grab a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you’d prefer.

Leave your questions, comments or feedback below, and best of luck in your next crucible, whatever it may be!

 

 

 

Laughing Yoga, Hyperoxygenation, Navy SEAL Workouts And More – What To Expect And How To Prepare For the SEALFit Academy.

SEALFit Academy

Welcome to Part 2 of my experience with SEALFit Comprehensive Academy and SEALFit Kokoro Camp, in which you’re going to get as many tips and tricks as possible for the SEALFit Academy. Part 1 is here. Even if you don’t plan on attending any SEALFit events, there are plenty of takeaway gems here for anyone who wants to achieve challenging feats of physical or mental performance.

In the next article – Part 3 of this three-part series -you’ll learn exactly what happens at SEALFit Kokoro, and some my own takeaways, tips and tricks – but in the meantime, let’s jump right into what you need to know for the six days of the SEALFit Academy.

Even if you don’t plan on ever going to a SEALFit event, you’re going to learn a ton of useful information about how to get physically and mentally stronger!

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SEALFit Academy Day 1

Day 1 abruptly began at 4pm with a very brief orientation from Coach Dave (most of the coaches here go by “Coach”, followed by their first name – so don’t call them Sir or Mr. or anything like that), during which we introduced ourselves and selected a team leader. We then went straight into the coach barking orders at us as he led us through the initial PT test on “The Grinder”, which a hard, textured concrete surface at the US Crossfit facility in Encinitas, California.

The Grinder looks like this (fun, eh?):

sealfit grinder

During the PT test, which is performed in highly stylish black pants, white t-shirt and combat boots, myself and the 10 other Academy attendees were tested for the SEALFit Academy physical standards, which are:

-50 pushups in 2 minutes
-50 situps in 2 minutes
-50 squats in 2 minutes
-10 dead hang pull-ups (6 for women)
-1 mile run in 9:30 or less

Here’s a photo of the PT test from Academy.

day1pt

As you can see, based on my physical training for the Academy (read about it in Part 1 of this series), I did just fine. But come prepared, because the candidates that failed (red circles) were pretty severely reprimanded for it. Take the standards seriously.

Other quick tips for the Academy PT test include:

1. Pay attention and be mindful, especially if you have a creative mind that wanders (like I do). Reign it in! Focus. Every tiny little detail matters at the Academy, especially when a coach is giving instructions for a WOD (Workout Of The Day) or any other activity. For example, I incurred a 50 burpee penalty for our whole team by simply running on the sidewalk rather than the road during the run portion of the PT test. I thought this would be safer, but it turns out that at SEALFit Academy and Kokoro, they pretty much avoid the sidewalks and almost always run on the road, even at night.

2. Suffer in silence. No grunting or weird workout noises. Be careful with grimacing too. Practice keeping a stone face, or better yet, smiling even when the going gets tough. Deep breathing helps with this.

3. Don’t show off or be a Rambo. Be a team player. As soon as I finished my run well ahead of most of the others, I was instructed to sprint back out and bring the rest of the team in. Unless instructed otherwise, always prioritize helping your team vs. just showing off your fitness.

4. If you can lay down a strip of duct tape or kinesiotape vertically down your spine, it will help you not get back blisters from situps on the hard Grinder surface. This helps because if you start the week with a chafed back, it’s going to hurt a bunch during the rucks, leg levers, flutter kicks, and pretty much any other time something is rubbing against your back. I learned that lesson the hard way.

5. Practice strict pull-ups to an above the bar chin position and full extension at the bottom, along with a hook grip in which your fingers wrap around your thumbs. Avoid“suicide” gripping on the pull-ups (a thumbs off position).

After the PT test, we sat in on a lecture with Coach Mark Divine – the owner of SEALFit, in which he introduced the core principles of The Unbeatable Mind, adapted from concepts in his book by the same name. I’d highly recommend you read both Unbeatable Mind and 8 Weeks To SEALFit well in advance of showing up for any of the SEALFit events. You will be way ahead of the game if you read them and do both the mental and physical activities in the book.

Following Coach Divine’s talk, we were cut free for a team dinner on our own. As the team leader, I was given $100 to divvy up among the team, so we went out for some team bonding at a restaurant across the street from the SEALFit headquarters, then an early bedtime. When you get a chance to sleep at the Academy, plan to do it – as you don’t get many chances for a solid night of sleep and you never know when you may get ripped out of bed and thrown into the ocean or shoved into a midnight workout (seriously – keep reading for more details on that).

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SEALFit Academy Day 2

We awoke to a glorious breakfast on Day 2. Unlike Kokoro, you don’t get crappy MRE’s (stands for “Meals Ready To Eat”). Instead, the Academy is catered by a trained chef named Kathryn, who is also a nutritionist, yoga teacher and meditation expert. For breakfast on Day 2, Kathryn served us scrambled eggs with vegetable, gluten-free raisin nut muffins, and an assortment of fruits and yogurts.

Of course, the only downside is that as soon as your glorious breakfast ends, you can expect to be rushing to a hard workout – during which you’ll often get the unique experience of tasting breakfast a second time, especially if you overeat on proteins and fats. As a matter of fact, at the SEALFit Academy you can pretty much expect to be rushing from the moment you awake – to breakfast, to a workout, a lecture, another workout, lunch, another workout, a lecture, a skills clinic, etc. Sometimes the rushing seems intentionally programmed to keep you slightly outside your comfort zone. For example, for lunch on Day 2, we had a fantastic but extremely filling chicken sausage and squash casserole – which was immediately followed by a 1 mile fast run in the heat.

This takes me to an important lesson: the use of digestive enzymes to help digest meals more quickly. I used this trick many times during Academy week and even during Kokoro – popping just a couple digestive enzymes with or immediately before meals to help things get through my digestive system more quickly and to help me absorb extra nutrients.

After breakfast, the first workout of Day 2 was “Grinder PT” with Mark Divine. You can get an idea of what it looks like in the video below. We did movements like this for a solid 2 hours, and finished with a sandbag run to the top of Lookout Hill, which sits about a quarter mile from the Academy.

At the top of Lookout Hill, Mark finished by bringing us through a Warrior Breathing session, which involves hyperoxygenating the body with sharp intakes of oxygen through the nose, then very quick exhales. During our Warrior Breathing, we practiced visualizing our “internal warrior” (Coach Divine’s is King Leonidas of the Spartans). But I was baffled and slightly frustrated during this exercise, as I simply couldn’t find or visualize my internal warrior. Images that floated through my head included a wolf, an archer (like Robin Hood), and even a shark, but none of these seemed quite right. I know this sounds cheesy and woo-woo, but being able to picture your warrior before a hard workout or intense physical challenge can give you a huge advantage. On Day 4, which you’ll read about below, I had my first intense emotional breakthrough of the Academy, in which I finally did discover my internal warrior.

After the workout, Coach Divine gave a lecture on the principles of SEALFit, adapted from the book 8 Weeks To SEALFit. Then we moved on to a 2 hour clinic that covered sandbag skills, kettlebell skills and barbell skills, in which we learned 8-10 different exercises and movements for each of these tools. This doesn’t sound like much of a workout, but 2 solid hours of practicing with sandbags, kettlbebells and barbells adds up pretty quickly.

After lunch, we had another lifting clinic, this time with Coach Adam, who taught us proper form for deadlifts, cleans, overhead press, push press and bench press. As you are probably noticing, you can expect to spend a lot of time with a barbell in your hands at SEALFit events.

Next, we settled in for another lecture with Coach Dave, during which Dave discussed training principles and the SEALFit components of Endurance, Strength, Stamina, Work Capacity and Durability. At the end of the lecture, he abruptly announced that we’d go do “Cindy” – a relatively famous Crossfit workout consisting of an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) in 20 minutes of 5 pull-ups, 10 pushups and 15 air squats. After 26 rounds, my hands – already a bit rubbed raw from the amount of barbell holds – were ripped open and bleeding. So I’d recommend you bring tincture of benzoin and Second Skin to clean and cover bar blisters on your hands and rucking blisters on your feet, and also bring Duct Tape or Rock Tape to cover your hands during any workouts that involve sweat and lots of time on the bar. Or get very, very calloused hands before Academy.

As soon as we finished Cindy, we were rushed into another lecture with Coach Lance Cummings. Despite his stern demeanor and constant sneer, Coach Cummings is an extremely impressive dude. He recently retired from Active Duty Navy Service with 30 years of combined Active and Reserve service. After graduating BUD/s Class 124 he deployed overseas in support of US Foreign Policy with six different SEAL teams on both the east and west coast. He served at the Naval Special Warfare Center as a Basic Underwater/SEAL (BUD/s) instructor where he earned his Master Training Specialist classification. He also worked several State Department Security Team contracts with private employers during his time in the Naval Reserves

An accomplished athlete, he has represented the United States at the international level in Military Pentathlon and won several Marksmanship awards in inter-service competition in both handgun and carbine categories. From 1990 to 1995, he competed in 200 triathlons, from sprint to Ironman distances. He was on the USA Dragon Boat Team in 2011, winning Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in World Cup competition. His current hobbies include Outrigger Canoe racing, mtn. biking, running, and CrossFit training. A licensed Chiropractor, Lance also is certified in Cold Laser Therapy, Functional Mobility, Thermal Imaging, and is a registered Emergency Medical Technician.

Dang.

Anyways, Coach Cummings lectured on heart rate zones and endurance training principles, then we were cut loose for dinner – sweet potato casserole with beef tacos and guacamole. I collapsed exhausted at the end of this day. If you were doing the math, you’d see that we exercised relatively hard for a solid 5 hours, and I found that as camp progressed, about 4-6 workout hours per day was pretty standard for physical workload during the Academy.

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SEALFit Academy Day 3

We were ripped out of bed early on Day 3 for one of SEALFit’s famous “Operator WOD’s“, which consisted of some endurance training with a Grinder PT warm up led by Coach Divine, followed by:

-Stamina: 21-15-9 Deadlift to Box Jumps with 400m run after each
-Strength: 3×5 Heavy Front Squat
-Workout Capacity: 50 meters burpee broad jumps, 50 barbell step-ups, and a 400m farmers walk with 50lb kettle bells

This is exactly the type of WOD you’ll find in the 8 Weeks To SEALFit book, so do lots of these workouts before the Academy. After the WOD, we moved straight into the durability part of the workout, which was led by Coach Cummings and consisted of a 3 hour ruck with sandbags in our ruckpag, and a quick stop for an MRE lunch (pinto bean veggie chili – yum) during the ruck.

I learned a few tips about rucking that I’d highly recommend you use at the Academy, including:

1. Completely smear your toes, heels, and crotch in some kind of friction-proofing cream. For the longer rucks I used a product called Ex-Goo that we were supplied with by the Academy, and for shorter workouts I used Hammer Balm (use 15% discount code 80244). Also use a lube such as BodyGlide liberally on neck, shoulders, and armpits – all places that a backpack will rub during a ruck.

2. If a blister begins to form, stay ahead of it with moleskin by simply cutting a hole in the middle of the moleskin and covering/protecting the blister with this doughnut shape.

3. You can bring your own rucksack to the Academy, and the one that Coach Lance recommends is an internal frame “Kelty” brand rucksack. This is the same brand the Seals use, and although it’s pretty expensive, your back and shoulders will thank you and you’ll be far more comfortable during the Academy if you bring one.  

We came back from the ruck and went straight into a 2 hour Olympic lifting class with Coach Rick, during which we practiced all elements of the Power Clean and initial instructions for the Snatch. Day 4 finished with a lecture by Coach Divine on breathing and positivity, along with the importance of using the Observe, Orient, Act, Decide (OODA) loop to respond to stressful situations. Later in the week, during Kokoro, I relied heavily on this loop to respond to the extreme physical and mental stress we were thrown into.

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SEALFit Academy Day 4

I cried three times during the Academy – not from physical stress, but from mental and emotional breakthroughs. The morning of Day 4 was the first such experience. We began the morning with a 30 minute “box breathing”  – set to a background music of a special 436 hertz frequency designed to enhance alpha brain wave production.

Box breathing, a big component of the Academy that Coach Divine often uses as part of a WOD warm-up or at the beginning or end of the day, involves a 4-20 count in, a 4-20 count hold, a 4-20 count exhale, and a 4-20 count hold. During this time, you practice positivity and visualization. I’d recommend you start with a 4 count if you don’t want to hyperventilate, and use the Pranayama app to help you stay on count for your box breathing. You’d only use a 20 count if you were extremely skilled at box breathing, and the highest we got during the Academy was an 8 count.

kingarthurAnyways, during the box breathing, I experienced an extremely intense vision of my internal warrior that immediately got me shaking, trembling and weeping. My vision was of me not as a lone wolf or a quiet archer but rather as a noble king – very much like the famous King Arthur of the round table – placed here on earth to lead and teach with love, to help people achieve amazing feats of physical performance and also to built a great legacy with my two young boys. Again, I realize this all sounds a bit airy-fairy, but the vision was extremely powerful, and returned to me again during many of the other visualization and box breathing sessions during the week.

The box breathing progressed straight into a skills clinic and workout with Coach Lance, who led through a 3 round circuit of sledgehammers, tire flips, log PT (carrying, lifting and moving a heavy log as a team), rope climbs and wall ball throws.

During lunch, Kathryn lectured to us on meditation, and then we moved straight into a 2 hour yoga and meditation class. As our entire team finished the class in an extremely relaxed state, we slowly stood up, wandered outside to the Grinder, and were instantly snapped back into reality by Coach Divine.

“Get down on your hands and knees and crawl!”

We all dropped and began crawling on the hot Grinder, which immediately formed heat blisters on many of the team members’ already bloody and beat-up hands.

“Who spit a luge on my Grinder?”

Silence.

“I said who spit a luge on my Grinder?”

One of our team members finally piped up, “Me Coach.”

We were immediately forced into a 50 burpee penalty (during which we were sprayed down with hoses and had coaches screaming in our faces with megaphones, a common experience on the Grinder), followed by an incredibly difficult two and a half hour WOD that we had to complete in “Battle Mode” – meaning no talking and only cooperating with hand signals. The WOD consisted of:

-500m row
-3×5 heavy power clean
-5 rounds of dumbell hang clean with thruster to 10 350lb tire flips to 3 second handstand hold
-3 rounds of 50 wall balls throws, 100m prowler push, and 1000m row

When the WOD finally ended and the smoke cleared, we had a quick shower, then went straight into a goal setting and visualization with Coach Divine, which was an extremely powerful session. After several minutes of Box Breathing, we were tasked with forming a visual mental image of our “mind gym” – a special place where we could go inside our head to escape, to train and to prepare for stressful situations.

rocky_4_1985_685x385My mind gym was an old log hut in the forest besides a cold pond in the deep snow- very similar to Rocky’s winter training center from the Rocky IV movie. As I explored my mind gym, still as the warrior king from the warrior breathing visualization, I felt another strong presence in the mind gym, and suddenly found my old dog Bruno by my side. Bruno was a muscular boxer dog with a spiked collar and intense personality, and was one of the most important parts of my childhood. But he was tragically struck by a van when I was 16, and I hadn’t realized until this visualization how much I had suppressed the emotions from his death – or how much it had formed my aversion to having any pet or animal “companion” since then. When I realized his spirit was still there with me and I began to run and explore my mind gym with him, just like we used to play in the fields outside my childhood home, I began to tremble and cry uncontrollably with joy and relief. This was a very intense moment for me, and one of my most powerful memories from the Academy.

Later in the week, we returned to our mind gyms and I experienced yet another emotional breakthrough in the mind gym, but for now, this visual of Bruno was enough to have my head spinning for the rest of the night. I fell asleep with a smile on my face, knowing that my old dog was back with me and that I could now fight through anything and experience life with him by my side.

That night – excited for a good night of sleep – I was instead abruptly ripped out of by bed by the team of SEALFit coaches, thrown into the grinder and thrust into a battle-like simulation of a brutal workout session on the Grinder that culminated in a night run with 50lb packs and group sit-ups and push-ups in the ocean with my team at almost midnight. I’ll let your imagination wander, but suffice it to say: be prepared for little surprises like that.

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SEALFit Academy Day 5

Academy Day 5 began with a little bit of box breathing, then a 1000 pushup WOD (yes, 1000 pushups) led by Mark Divine. Here’s the video:

Of course, after you do 1000 push-ups, the first thing on your mind is gymnastics, so we went from the pushups directly into a gymnastic lecture and a gymnastics clinic with Coach Dave, in which we covered hollowing your core, rolls, kipping pull-ups, rope climbs, handstands and a variety of other body weight moves. Dave also gave us a good progression for getting stronger at new moves. Here’s an example (perfect if you want to work your up way up to, say, 5 sets of 5 pull-ups):

Day 1: 11111 (that’s one pull-up, rest, another pull-up, rest, etc.)
Day 2: 21111
Day 3: 32111
-43211
-54321
-55432
-55543
-55554
-55555

If you wanted to work your way up to 10 pull-ups, you could just keep going, like this:

-65555
-76555
-87655
-etc.

This is actually a really good technique, and one you should tuck away for getting stronger at any body weight move.

Next, we moved on to a 2 hour Snatch Clinic with Coach Rick, followed up by a laughing yoga session with Coach Divine. Laughing yoga? That’s right. Check it out:

After working up a good sweat with laughter, we moved on to a team and leadership workshop with Coach Cummings, and also covered periodizing for an event and planning out your year based around “crucibles” or tests of your fitnes. For example, in 2015 my major events are:

-September 2014: Spartan World Championships  (goal: top 10)

-Summer 2015 Crucible 1: Turning Steel

-Fall 2015 Crucible 2: 6 day bow hunting trip at elevation

-September 2015 Crucible 3: Spartan World Championships (goal: top 3)

We finished Day 5 with another mind-gym exercise. This turned out to be the 3rd time I cried at the Academy. In this exercise, we were encouraged to invite someone into our mind-gym and ask them one question.

My question to my special visitor (going to keep that secret for now) was:

“What’s my purpose?”

The reply was:

“It’s not about you. It’s about building your legacy and raising two amazing human beings who will grow up to make this world a better place.”

Sheesh. Talk about clarity. My whole body was shaking, trembling and crying again after this intense mind gym exercise.

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SEALFit Academy Day 6

Day 6 – the final day – began with yet another morning WOD, this time starting with sandbag Turkish Getups to 200m run, then sandbag ground to overhead to 200m run and finally sandbag thrusters to 200m run.

This was followed by a big mash-up of exercises that for some reason I don’t have recorded. Anyways, we moved on from the morning WOD to 2 hours of pool work led by Coach Lance, in which we learned combat side stroke, did some hypoxic breath practice and simply worked on water skills.

We then headed out on a 5 hour sandy beach ruck that included a run-swim workout, during which we practiced combat side stroke with a partner. This stroke is perfect for “keeping track” of someone swimming in the water next to you, and also moving quickly through the water without making much of a splash – a good way (as Coach Lance noted) to avoid getting a grenade tossed at you if you’re sneaking through water.

After the ruck, we moved on to mobility and stretching work on the foam roller and the TRX with Coach Lance, and then headed into the yoga room for the final session of the Academy: warrior breathing.

During this warrior breathing exercise, led by an intense bearded martial artist and yogi that Mark Divine brought in for the special purpose of blowing our minds, we laid on the ground while booming music played and hyperventilated/hyperoxygenated our bodies with about 50 rounds of warrior breathing, which is a fast and deep nasal inhale followed by a quick exhale. We then relaxed and did deep breathing in between each set as our bodies tingled and trembled from the hyperoxygenation phase. This was an incredible exercise that left my crying once again as I completely floated outside myself and went into a trance in which I was hovering above my physical body and simply observing the entire experience. Crazy stuff, I know – but you have to experience it to understand.

Here’s a video that may help you understand:

And that was it! Shaking, crying, emotionally charged and physically spent, we finished with a few invigorating rounds of laughing yoga and then the Academy graduation ceremony. This left me with just 12 hours to check into the Days Inn down the road from US Crossfit, get a few hours of sleep, and prepare to show up the next morning for Kokoro – an intense 50-60 crucible of pushing through extreme physical tests on zero sleep. Coming next, I’ll be telling you everything you need to know about Kokor, and sharing some absolutely amazing stories from the life-changing experience.

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In the meantime, if you have signed up for a SEALFit Kokoro or Academy event and want to hop on the phone with me for a personalized one-on-one consult to get you ready physically and mentally, just click here and grab a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you’d prefer.

Leave your questions, comments or feedback below, and stay tuned for Part 3, in which I’m going to fill you in on the nitty-gritty details of exactly what to expect at SEALFit Kokoro Camp and how to get the most of our experience, complete with plenty of “in-the-trenches” tips and tricks!

What Kind Of Training, Gear And Nutrition Do You Use For SEALFit Academy And Kokoro Camp?

greenfield kokoro camp

For the past 8 days, I’ve been doing things like a 1000 push-up workout, midnight exercise sessions in the ocean surf, hyperoxygenation training and even a 52 hour stint that included a 26 mile night hike up a mountain with a 50 pound weighted backpack, 2am battle rope tug-of-war competitions on the beach, and an all-you-can-eat pancake, eggs and bacon breakfast followed immediately by an hour of uphill burpees and hill sprints.

Why?

Last year, in the article “Look, Feel and Perform Like An Ancient Spartan Warrior – How To Become An Absolute Physical Beast“, you learned how to embark on a quest to get yourself as physically and mentally strong as possible.

In that article, I told you about my own personal journey to get tough for something called “SEALFit Comprehensive Academy” and “SEALFit Kokoro Camp” – and I also told you why it’s important (if you want to live life to the fullest), that you too choose a difficult quest, a journey, an obstacle, a rite of passage or some other amazing feat of physical and mental performance that you makes you a little bit scared to do.

As of 4 hours ago at the time of this writing, I’ve graduated from the Academy and Kokoro Camp- both of which have changed my life, health and fitness forever, and I plan to tell you all the nitty-gritty details of that experience in Part 2 and 3 of this three-part article series.

But meanwhile, in this article, you’re going to learn exactly what kind of training, gear and nutrition I used for SEALFit Academy and Kokoro Camp – complete with a video walkthrough of the proper gear and nutrition. If you have any questions, just leave them under the post and I promise to reply, and keep your eyes open for Part 2 and 3 of this series, coming soon!

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How Do You Train For SEALFit Academy and Kokoro Camp?

Check out this article for a really comprehensive overview of the best training plans and books that are out there to get you ready for this kind of thing. For the majority of my training, I personally used the daily Operator WOD’s from Mark Divine’s 8 Weeks To SEALFit.

But because I’m still racing triathlons and doing Spartan events, I modified my SEALFit workouts to include triathlon and obstacle racing preparation, mostly by using three simple rules:

1) Include extra swimming. Since swimming is primarily all about efficiency in the water, you don’t need much extra swimming and it certainly doesn’t need to be hard and fast. One to two extra days of swim drills, preferably on the programmedrecovery days in the plan, are adequate, and will help to enhance blood flow for recovery. I rely on the SwimSmooth website and book for swim drills. Bonus if you do these in cold water to get a cold thermogenesis effect.

2) Commute on your bike, and substitute cycling for the warm-up and cool-down. Most of these plans recommend running, pushups, squats, sit-ups, swings, light lifting, etc. for your warm-up and walking, foam rolling, etc. for the cool-down. But I’ll personally be warming up and cooling down with an easy mountain bike ride or a ride to and from the gym instead. In addition, whenever I do errands, such as the grocery store, returning a movie, etc. I ride my bike. For any workouts that take place at the gym (as mentioned above) I’ll ride to the gym (for me, that’s a total of 7 miles of bike commuting there and back). So – extra cycling is basically sprinkled throughout the week in a “Grease the Groove” style. With all the squats, lunges, and leg work you’re doing in these plans, that’s all the extra cycling you’ll need.

3) Occasionally substitute the long, hard weekend workouts with a Spartan race, outdoor obstacle training circuit, or hard Sprint or Olympic distance triathlon race or race simulation. For example, the Day 7 “Devil’s Mile” workout in the sample week below could instead be a hard 1500 meter open water swim followed by a 20-25 mile hard bike ride and a 5-6 mile hard tempo run, or something like this video of my backyard obstacle training course.

Using these three basic rules, here’s how a sample week of SEALFIT training from “8 Weeks To SEALFit” by Mark Divine could be modified for obstacle course racing or triathlon:

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Day 1

Warm-up: Light run for 15: minutes before stretching. Focus on hamstrings, adductors, quads and hips. 5 sets of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 squats in before measuring out the 100 meters for the strength workout. Triathlon or cycling modification: instead, just ride your bike for 15-20 minutes to the gym, or do a trail ride on your mountain bike with lots of alternating from standing to seated position.

WOD: 100 meters of overhead weighted lunges with 45 lbs. Arms locked out and knees to the deck for each movement to count. If you must stop there is a 15 push-up penalty for each infraction that goes up by 5 each time. 15 the first time, 20 the second and 30…. The more you stop, the harder it gets.

Strength: Rest

Endurance: 45 minute ruck march with 35 lbs. If available, get 10 minutes of hill time on a modest slope (5 – 10% at most). Consistently move, set a pace and stick to it.

Coach’s comments: Equipment needed- Ruck, sand bag and 45 lbs. Post workout hydrate, stretch, roll out and ice if necessary.

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Day 2:

Warm-up: Start off with a light KB or DB snatch, approximately 20% of body weight- 2 sets of 20 reps. Move onto dive bomber push-ups and pause when you’re all the way back with your arms extended. Really push those hands into the ground and extend as far as possible to stretch those shoulder joints. Start light with the front squats and move up in 5 – 10 lb increments to find that working weight.  Triathlon or cycling modification: instead, just ride your bike for 15-20 minutes to the gym, or do a trail ride on your mountain bike with lots of alternating from standing to seated position.

WOD: How many rounds can you accomplish in 10 minutes of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 sit-ups?

Strength: Front Squat 5 sets of 3 reps, go heavy

Endurance: Pace run: 7:30 – 8:30 per mile for 30 minutes. Find that pace and hold it as long as possible. Mark down the total time you’re at that pace. We’ll work on increasing that threshold for work capacity at that level.

Coach’s comments: Equipment needed- Olympic bar, weight and somewhere to run. Wait at least 3 + hours after the strength and WOD before starting the endurance. Post workout hydrate, stretch, roll out and ice if necessary.

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Day 3

Benchmark: Isabel – 30 snatches at 135 lbs for time.  Triathlon swimming modification: finish with 20 minutes of SwimSmooth swim drills, such as 3 rounds of 100m single arm swimming, 100m side swimming drills, 100 meter front balance drills and 10×25 hypoxic swimming.

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Day 4

Warm-up: Start off with a light 5 minutes swim or jog and really warm up the shoulders, hamstrings, adductors and groin. The sprint work is going to be a fast and hard interval workout for a set distance. Once you’re ready get on it and push hard. For the WOD and strength, start light with the shoulder presses and move up in 5 – 10 lb increments to find that working weight. Both workouts are shoulder intensive, so take your time and really focus on getting a decent stretch and warm-up.

WOD: Backwards Fran 9 – 15 – 21 reps with 90 lb thrusters and pull-ups. Same weight, different scheme, totally different workout!

Strength: Shoulder press 3 sets of 3 reps then drop weight by 20% and 1 max set.

Endurance: Swim 800 meters with intervals of 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off. If no pool is available, run 2 miles with the same 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off interval.

Coach’s comments: Equipment needed- Olympic bar and weight. Endurance will come first today. Split the WOD and Strength away and do them 3 + hours later if possible. Post workout hydrate, stretch, roll out and ice if necessary.

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Day 5

Rest and recovery day. Light walk or other restorative activities. No impact today. Triathlon or swimming modification: do 20 minutes of SwimSmooth swim drills, such as 5 rounds of 50m catch-up drill, 50m broken arrow drill, 50 meter corkscrew and 5x50 hypoxic swimming.

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Day 6

Warm-up: Begin with a 15 minute jog and start light by practicing 2 sets of 5 – 10 reps of each exercise before stretching out the lower back and shoulders. Make sure they’re warmed up prior to beginning the WOD. Triathlon or cycling modification: instead, just ride your bike for 15-20 minutes to the gym, or do a trail ride on your mountain bike with lots of alternating from standing to seated position.

WOD: 75 of each exercise for time: 20” box jumps, cleans (from the deck) with 90 lbs, 55 lb dumbbell or kettle bell swings, pull-ups and knees to elbows. Kettle bell or Dumbbell swings need to clear at least above the eyes and for each box jump or clean the hips need to open up all the way. No need to complete a single set at a time. Break them into

Strength: Rest

Endurance: Ruck march with 35 lbs between 30 and 45 minutes.

Keep a consistent pace throughout.

Coach’s comments: Equipment needed- Olympic bar and weight. Wait at least 3 + hours after the strength and WOD before starting the endurance. Post workout hydrate, stretch, roll out and ice if necessary.

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Day 7

Warm-up: 400 meter light jog then side plank left 20 seconds, side plank right 20 seconds and
20 seconds of push-ups, repeating for as many rounds as you can without letting your knees touch the ground. Get a good stretch in today everyone, it’s a nasty one on the shoulders and lower body!

WOD: “The Devil’s Mile” (Minus the B.A.T. flips…)

For time:
400m walking lunges

30 push ups
400m broad jumps
30 squats
400m Overhead carry #45/#35 plate 30 burpees
400m bear crawl

Strength: 3 sets of max push-ups, 3 minute rest between each. Endurance: Rest

Triathlon modification: Do the warm-up recommended above, but instead of Devil’s Mile, do a hard Sprint or Olympic distance simulation or an obstacle course race. Bonus points if you finish the race with a 50m bear crawl to the finish line. 

Coach’s comments: Equipment needed- 35# / 45# plate and 400 meters measured off. Get that warm-up in and make sure you’re stretched out prior to the WOD. Get the WOD lined up and knocked out first before the strength workout. Post workout- hydrate, stretch, roll out and ice if necessary.

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So that’s it! This is very similar to how I trained for the Academy and Kokoro, and although I probably should have included just a bit more experience with Crossfit style training such as Kipping Pull-ups and Olympic lifts, it worked out relatively well. If you want a “done-for-you” approach, then check out my Inner Circle, where I actually log details for each workout I do every day (including all my workouts leading up to SEALFit), so if you’re not yet a member there, go join for one dollar and you can simply follow what I do (and get a bunch of bonus meal plans, recipes, insider training videos with me, etc.)

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What Gear Do You Bring To SEALFit Academy and Kokoro Camp?

Check out the video below. Helpful links for everything I talk about in the video are below the video (full disclosure: some of the links are affiliate links that help me pay for this website!).

-Nike DryFit White Tee – (8) – you can expect to completely trash these. And you’ll want your name neatly stenciled on front and back before you show up.

-Navy SEAL Sumbersible WOD Short (2) – shorts like these that hold up during hard workouts but that also dry extremely fast are crucial.

-Navy SEAL Taclite TDU Pants (3) – put your name on a label inside your pants, because they will inevitably wind up in a giant pile with other participants’ clothing during the Kokoro portion of SEALFit.

-Nike Combat Compression Tights (3) – keep these on whenever you are wearing pants, period. They’ll keep your knees safe on the Grinder especially.

-Nike Combat Compression Underwear (6) – dries fast and holds up well in the training conditions for SEALFit.

-Navy SEAL Adjustable Nylon BDU Belt (1) – make sure it fits right. Extra pushups and burpees are often incurred if your uniform is not “sorted” and looking sharp.

-Navy SEAL Black Boonie Hat (1) – you’ll wear this during long rucks.

-Wigwam Wool Socks (6) – crucial. I got zero blisters or foot issues during this camp (some participants got extreme bleeding and blistering of nearly their entire foot!), by simply covering my feet in Hammer Seat Saver and then wearing liners and wool socks.

-Wigwam Dry Foot Polypropylene Liner Socks (4)

-Nike Special Forces Field Boot or equivalent (1)

-VivoBarefoot Breatho Running Shoes (2) – bring two pairs of a shoe that dries fast and holds up well on road, sandy beach, trail, etc. You’ll have very quick changes between “evolutions” (the name for the workouts at SEALFit), and a dry pair of shoes is extremely nice.

-Voodoo Tactical Pack or Kelty Backpack (spendier but the cadillac of rucksacks)- do lots of “rucks” in this pack before you show up since you’ll use it quite a bit during SEALFit Academy, and also consider getting the very cheap and uncomfortable rucksack at NavySeals.com website, filling it with a 20-30lb sandbag and doing rucks that include water crossings, steep hills and beach running, as that’s the type of rucksack you’ll get at Kokoro.

-Hammer CoolFeet for Shoes/Underwear (use 15% discount 80244). Keeps your stuff dry and smelling ‘perty. Just sprinkle it over your shoes, socks, in your underwear, etc. between workouts.

-Hammer Seat Saver for Toes/Crotch/Armpits  (use 15% discount 80244)

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What Nutrition Do You Bring To SEALFit Academy and Kokoro Camp?

Just check out the video above, because it covers nutrition too. Helpful links for every nutrition product I talk about in that video are below. I went pretty minimalist with food, supplementation, etc. at the Academy since it is “catered” with pretty clean Paleo-friendly style fare – and our team’s little apartment is well stocked with…organic peanut butter and fruit (see photo below of our living area table). You don’t get much better than a banana dipped in peanut butter, right?

IMG_3681

In the meantime, having water bottles pre-packed with the fuels I talk about in the video is crucial during Kokoro camp. If you don’t do this, you may find yourself exercising for 20-24 hour periods with simply diluted sports drink, water and the very untasty “MRE” meal replacements handed out during the workouts at Kokoro.

-Insulated Water Bottles for Pre/During/Post Workout Fuel Mix (6) – at Kokoro, whenever the instructors gave us an extremely hectic 5 minute break, I’d make sure my teammates were set with their gear, then dash into the tent and refill these with powders then suck them down in the fastest 30-60 second chugfest I could manage.

-Hammer Bars (use 15% discount 80244) or Cocochia Bars (12) – I’d often grab one of these bars extremely quickly and shove it into my underwear or pockets for a quick bite during long rucks. The solid food will give you a tasty alternative to MRE’s.

-Natural Force Pre-Workout Raw Tea (for pre-workout Kokoro Evolutions, premixed in water bottle, along with VESPA Wasp Extract)

-Natural Force Iskiate Endurance  (for pre-workout Kokoro Evolutions, premixed in water bottle with the Raw Tea)

-Natural Force Recovery Nectar (for post-workout Kokoro Evolutions, premixed in water bottle)

-ThorneFX Digestive Enyzmes – 1 before every meal at both Academy, since the stomach will be stressed and needs extra digestive help.

-X2Performance – 1 shot at beginning of each day to top off ATP levels.

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Of course, this article has only scratches the surface of the life-changing SEALFit experience, so stay tuned to Parts 2 and 3 for the nitty-gritty details of exactly what to expect during the Academy and Kokoro. So that’s it! Be sure to check out the other podcasts and articles I published leading up to this post, specifically:

-Look, Feel and Perform Like An Ancient Spartan Warrior – How To Become An Absolute Physical Beast

-Train Like The Lone Survivor – 3 Books That Will Turn You Into A Beast: Spartan, SEALFIT and Obstacle Racing Book Reviews

-Secrets Of The Navy Seals: How To Train, Eat & Think Like The World’s Toughest Fighters

Finally, if you have signed up for a SEALFit Kokoro or Academy event and want to hop on the phone with me for a personalized one-on-one consult to get you ready physically and mentally, just click here and grab a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you’d prefer.

Leave your questions, comments or feedback below, and stay tuned for Part 2 and Part 3, in which I’m going to fill you in on the nitty-gritty details of exactly what to expect at SEALFit Academy and Kokoro Camp and how to get the most of our experience, complete with plenty of “in-the-trenches” tips and tricks!

The 10 Best Fitness Articles of The Past Year.

get fit guy

I’m often asked why I don’t “write more articles” here at BenGreenfieldFitness.com.

Frankly, in my efforts to be the single best source for you to find the most cutting-edge fitness advice, I currently produce:

-two free podcasts a week (one Q&A and one interview)…

-an enormous protected Premium vault of bonus content

-a pretty dang robust YouTube video channel…

-entertaining and educational Instagram photos…

-weekly “mini-blog” posts on Google+

-daily Twitter health research highlights…

-and lots of fitness, nutrition and biohacking tips on Facebook

…so this doesn’t leave a huge amount of time left for me to write BenGreenfieldFitness articles, unless I want to trade in my trail-running shoes to be a fat keyboard slob, or turn myself into a smart-drug and energy-drink chugging freak of nature who stays up until 1am hunched over a laptop.

On the other hand, my alter-ego the Get-Fit Guy (pictured above) spends plenty of time in his stretchy red pants and black tanktop churning out the latest and greatest fitness tips via one easy-to-read weekly article, one weekly 5-10 minute podcast and one weekly e-mail newsletter jam-packed with cutting-edge fitness advice.

And since we’re right around the corner from the 200th episode of the Get-Fit Guy (which will be about whether you’ll live longer if you just quit exercising so much), I figured I’d give you a quick list of the 10 most popular Get-Fit Guy episodes from the past year, so that you can see the flavor of what you may have been missing all this time. If you begin delving into these weekly Get-Fit Guy articles and newsletters, and combine them with the podcasts and other resources I listed above, you really won’t need any other sources to get a better body, build muscle or burn fat – I do all the hard work and pour through all the research for you, then bring you the nitty-gritty, practical stuff you can apply right away.

So without further ado, straight from the Get-Fit Guy website at QuickAndDirtyTips.com, here are the ten best, most popular fitness articles of the past year – a really good place to start if you want to stay on the pointy edge of fitness.

#1: The 5 Best Full Body Exercises

 

#2: How to Get Rid of Muscle Soreness Fast

 

#3: The Hidden Ab Muscle That Will Get You a Six-Pack

 

#4: 5 New Fat Burning Exercises

 

#5: 30 Days to Melt Your Winter Waistline

 

#6: What’s the Best Butt Exercise?

 

#7: Do You Have a Body Image Disorder?

 

#8: Can You Eat Too Much Protein After a Workout?

 

#9: 8-Minute Fat Loss

 

#10: How to Get Fit While Watching TV

 

There you have it!

So just bookmark this article and simplify your quest to hunt down the best fitness, nutrition and health advice and just use the resources I’ve given you in this article as your go-to sources. As the New York Times says, “All The News That’s Fit To Print” (pun intended) is already right here for you.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about the 10 best fitness articles of the past year? Leave your thoughts below!

How An Internet Entrepreneur Went From A Fat Keyboard Slob To Conquering SEALFit Workouts.

chris brogan

chris brogan fitness book

Chris Brogan (pictured above after going from a fat keyboard slob to conquering SEALFit workouts) is author of the book “Just Start Here: Lose Weight, Get Stronger and FINALLY Succeed at Your Goals.“.

As an internet entrepreneur, Chris is a self-professed complete non-expert in the field of fitness.

But nonetheless, I read his book.

And it is actually quite good.

So in today’s podcast episode, Chris joins us, and you learn:

-Why you need a story that defines you if you want to truly master fitness and diet…

-Why willpower is stupid…

-Why Chris puts so many pictures of himself on Instagram…

-How losing weight should be an “hourly” experience…

-Chris’s potent “time quilting” strategy for enhancing fat loss…

-And much more!

Resources we discuss in this episode:

-Chris’s Instagram account

-Just Start Here: Lose Weight, Get Stronger and FINALLY Succeed at Your Goals.

-BossFitMag.com

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about this episode, or thoughts about Chris Brogan in general? Leave your feedback below!

Part 1: 67 Steps to Getting Anything You Want Out of Life Health, Wealth, Love, & Happiness with Tai Lopez

Meet Tai

Welcome to Part 1 of this special podcast series, in which you get to sit in and listen to Tai Lopez coach Ben Greenfield (and you!) using the strategies from Tai’s online video series “67 Steps to Getting Anything You Want Out of Life Health, Wealth, Love, & Happiness“.

In this episode, Ben and Tai talk about multi-tasking, reprogramming your genetics and checking your e-mail less.

Resources Tai and Ben discuss in this podcast:

-Book: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

-Book: Inheritance: How Our Genes Change Our Lives–and Our Lives Change Our Genes

-Book: The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

-Tai’s online video series: 67 Steps to Getting Anything You Want Out of Life Health, Wealth, Love, & Happiness

Do you have question, comments or feedback? Do you want Ben to keep publishing audio content like this with Tai Lopez? Leave your thoughts below.

How You Can Use Lasers To Heal Injuries, Enhance Recovery and Increase Performance.

k-laser

Until today’s podcast episode, I didn’t realize lasers were so darn cool, and effective for so many issues.

The laser was invented in 1960 and the biological stimulation properties of laser light were discovered shortly after than, in 1967. Even though therapy lasers have been used in Europe much longer than in the United States, in 2002, the FDA cleared therapy lasers for treating injuries and enhancing recovery.

Now, multiple researchers throughout the world are finding enormous therapeutic application of different laser infrared wavelengths like red, green, and blue wavelengths and their effects on tissues. New high-power laser therapy systems penetrate deep into tissue and deliver physiological benefits that no other modality like electrical muscle stimulation or ultrasound can deliver. By stimulating adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production and enhancing cell membrane permeability, lasers can actually helps injuries heal and speed up recovery from workouts, rather than just masking pain.

Today’s podcast guest, Dr. Phil Harrington, has over 10 years of clinical experience using lasers for healing, and is a national and international author and lecturer on laser therapy. During our discussion you’ll discover:

-How laser treatments work…

-What conditions can benefit from laser treatments…

-Whether those little handheld laser units you can buy online work…

-Which elite athletes are currently using laster treatments….

-What other modalities or treatments can be used with laster…

-Why your body won’t just heal itself from injury…

-The difference between laser and other things like ultrasound or electrical muscle stimulation…

-How to find a K-Laser provider in your area

Do you have questions about how you can use lasers to heal injuries, enhance recovery and increase performance, or questions about the K-Laser? Leave your comments below.

How To Build Primal Fitness And Endurance By Hunting: An Interview With A Bowhunting Triathlete

Fitness For Hunting

I grew up in North Idaho surrounded by hunters. I’ve personally been hunting whitetail deer in my backyard for 4 years, fishing since I was a kid, and I’ve even podcasted about whether deer meat is healthy.

And in the recent post “The 3 P’s Of Being A Man, Getting Tough and Doing Hard Things“, you learned that one way to accomplish the “P” of providing is to hunt.

My guest on today’s podcast is Shad Wheeler (pictured above) from GotHunts.com. Shad is an entrepreneur, a bowhunter, and an triathlete, and in this episode, he teaches you how to build primal fitness and endurance by hunting.

-How Shad’s father helped found and invent the Bowflex exercise device

-What type of bows are best for bow hunting, whether you’re a seasoned hunter or just getting started…

-The similarities between triathlon and bowhunting…

-TrainToHunt.com and the Train To Hunt Challenges

-Workouts for getting ready for bowhunting…

After listening in, I think you’ll agree that when it comes to ancestral fitness, bowhunting really takes the cake. Do you have questions or comments about this show? Leave your thoughts below!