The Swinging Plank

Quick Tips

The Swinging Plank is a brilliant hybrid exercise designed by Scott Sonnon, founder of TacFit training systems.

The movement will put your upper body strength, endurance and multi-planar core strength and stability to the test.

If you’re looking for a non-traditional movement challenge, this is it!

Swing Planks will burn out your core and arms even at lower rep ranges.

For the last several months, I have beaten on this exercise (and it’s variations) aggressively.  

Bodyweight movements like this will get you functionally strong in a hurry without adding bulk, which is great for someone who want’s to function the way they look.

Bodyweight control…

Those of you who’ve been loyal to traditional forms of resistance training will find ground-based bodyweight exercise to be an incredible supplement workouts.

The swinging plank embodies current fitness trends: the shift away from structured exercise and into exploring integrated movement training.

And its not that traditional exercise is bad, it’s not, it has its place and will always have it’s place.  The idea is that at some point, the body and mind crave freedom of movement, beyond what adding more weight, reps, sets can offer us.

Patterns like high and low crawling, narrow surface balancing and hanging exist.

Ground-based exercises that require full bodyweight support (hands and feet in contact on the ground) are fantastic for building functional strength, or in some cases where injury is present, a gentle re-introduction to loading.

By movement design, the swinging plank elicits a minimal amount of stress to the lower body, making it ideal for non-competing circuits or training days where the lower body needs a break from exertion.

However, execution of the exercise will require adequate mobility in the hips, knees and ankles, so if you’re extremely restricted, free up those joints first.  One look at this drill and you can see that lower body joint mobility is a pre-requisite for proper technique.

A fusion of exercises…

Swing planks are a hybrid exercise.

The static plank, chaturanga, push-up, dive-bomber and crawling all merge to form the swinging plank exercise.

At the midway point of the drill, you’ll find yourself in chaturanga (Four-Limb Staff Pose), one of yoga’s asanas (“postures”).  In chaturanga, the body is gracefully lowered toward to the floor, stopping where the elbows reach 90 degrees and tucked into the ribs, core fully activated.





Pressing back and out of chaturanga feels a lot like a push-up or a dive-bomber.  Dive-bombers are a real shoulder burner when performed strict.  Because the movement is backward and not straight up, it’s hard to relate the stress as being identical to a push-up.

Now, what you came here for…

How to do The Swinging Plank


1. Start with weight on the balls of your feet (knees and hips flexed into a squat position) hands extended out in front of the shoulders with palms placed firmly on the ground, eyes gazing between the hands or slightly in front of the hands.


2.  In a front to back motion, lunge your body forward out in between the hands, keeping the elbows against the rib cage, body rigid and low to the ground.

3.  Rotate the chest and torso over the hands and onto to the opposite side, pressing with the arms and pulling slightly with the legs back into the starting position (#1), now facing the other side.

Here is TacFit Commando creator Scott Sonnon demonstrating the swing plank…

The starting position of the swing plank looks a lot the start position of a bear crawl, except in the swing plank, the shoulders are situated just behind the hands verses over the top of the hands.


Start position of a bear crawl.

I’ve found that using this prone table top position (picture above) is a great way to get hand/foot spacing correct.

Technique tips continued…

Technique-wise, it’s important to force the hips into full extension.  Create a straight line from heels to the crown of the head.

Core should stay “soft” yet active to control body position.  Avoid over-tensioning or you’ll be too stiff to flow through the movement.

*** To avoid hand slippage, place the hands on a surface that gives you a good grip. On the way out and back in, you’re not going to be over the top of your hands like you would be during a push-up. Rubber gym matting, grass, a quality yoga mat with some stickiness or a a grittier surface like concrete all work well.


Swing Plank exercise progression…

If you’re quite not ready for the swing plank or maybe you’re looking for a soft progression to get there, here are some drills to work through (in order from top to bottom):

  • 1. Static Prone Plank (Hold for 40 seconds or longer)
  • 2. Static Lateral Plank (Hold for 30 seconds or longer each side)
  • 3. Rotational Dynamic Plank Variations (see here)
  • 4. Bodyweight Push-Ups (15-20 reps)
  • 5.  Dive-Bombers (eccentric and concentric phases, 8-10 reps)
  • 6.  Piston Planks
  • 7.  Swinging Planks!

Not everyone is going to need to work through all of these exercise progressions.  

You might be ready for the swing plank right now.  If that’s the case, great!  But if you’re not, work through 1-7 exercises until your body is acclimated to the stress.

There’s no need to rush into a sloppy movement patterns for the sake of rushing into sloppy movement patterns. Aim to do it right, or quite honestly, don’t do it at all.

Long-term, dialing in proper technique and learning movement is best practice.

If you’re wobbly in the swinging plank because it’s new, that’s one thing. If you’re wobbly in the swinging plank because you skipped the basics and went straight to the sexy stuff,  that’s another.

You’ll get a phenomenal training effect by hammering away at each of the exercise progressions above will provide a tremendous physical challenge despite. Building the foundation crucial.

Fix mobility restrictions…

Fixing mobility restrictions is essential to maintaining joint health, injury prevention, and getting the most out of your workouts.

During the swing plank, the hip, knee and ankle joints should move freely without restriction, aches or pains.

The starting position of the swing plank places the ankle, knee and hip joints into a very demanding range of motion.

If you find yourself locked up and struggling to get into position without rounding the lower back, I recommend addressing mobility restrictions first.

Scott Sonnon’s has a ton of different programs, some of which are heavily focused on body restoration, mobility and flexibility.

Here are three I recommend…

Six Degree Flow
Progressive Yoga
Primal Stress

Progressive Yoga proved to be a game changer for me, as calming the body, turning the focus inward is extremely rewarding.

A huge mistake people make with exercise is overdoing the high intensity stuff.  

You’ve got to back off the gas pedal from time to time.

Take time to relax, restore and recover.  Your performance will be better if you allow your body a chance to recover from the physical stress.  


Where do swing planks fit into a workout/program?

In short, anywhere you want.

Personally, I prefer swing planks mixed into work capacity focused training sessions, leveraged as a transition exercise.

But the reality is that the options are limitless.

The swinging plank is a perfect transition exercise between upper (vertical pressing, push-ups, dive-bombers) and lower body exercises (lunges, squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings).

A sample sequence:

8-10 minutes continuous of:

1a) Bodyweight Lunge x 6 right/left

2a) TacFit Swing Plank x6 right/left

3a) Bodyweight Chin-Up x6

Using a non-competing exercise format provides an opportunity to focus on movement technique while limiting the fatigue much as possible.


Deconstruct and go slow. I suggest you break the swing plank down into segments in order to appreciate the movement.  Practice the swing plank in slow motion for fewer reps. Do it right. Pause when you reach extension (chaturanga-like posture). Connect your mind to each muscle and transition.

Be conscious of your hand, foot, torso and head position. Pay attention to your breathing throughout the range of motion. Are you breathing or are you holding your breath? Make sure that your tongue stays relaxed and you’re breathing.

Stay low! You should have a little dirt on your t-shirt when you’re done. 

Maintaining a rigid posture while turning over from side to side will blow up your mid-section. The rotational core stability challenge is potent as you flow through each rep.

When performed as a part of a circuit or for higher reps, the swinging plank elicits a potent cardio training effect, making it a great exercise for metabolic workouts.

Hybrid bodyweight training is highly effective and yet so often overlooked. It’s easy to become infatuated with numbers on the bar, fancy equipment and racing the clock.

Having full control over your body in many different positions is the ultimate safeguard  against injury (injury mitigation) and a gateway to performance.

Bodyweight training can humble people quickly.  

If you’re interested finding out about more unique bodyweight workouts that incorporate movements like the swinging plank, check out TacFit Commando.






Nano-Cardio: Hybrid Row Workouts

Quick Tips

“Nano-cardio workouts” are a multi-dimensional approach to traditional conditioning methods.

In other words, instead of only rowing or running or biking as your cardio vehicle,  I’ve assembled several exercises together to create a more manageable compact conditioning circuit.

Traditional cardio bores me.  I used to think it was a lack of discipline making me feel this way , now I realize it’s just preference.  Leave me the choice of running for 20 minutes, or working through one of the workouts below, and I am taking the hybrid cardio session every single time.

Mixing and matching several different exercise patterns together keeps workouts interesting and more productive.

So where do these workouts fit in the grand scheme of things?  I suppose the appropriate answer to this question is dependent on your current fitness level, but my advice would be to slip them in before or after strength-centric focused days.

Nano-style cardio circuits frequently leverage sub-maximal movements.

Ballistic drills like kettlebell swings are purposely kept to low rep ranges and more traditional resistance exercises are typically left to bodyweight load or band-assisted if need be.

I want you to feel better, improved when you’re finished, not feeling burn out, drained and moody.  There is a time and place for burn-out style training sessions and it’s not every single day.  It’s possible to feel tired yet better.  Extreme fatigue is not the goal.

Why is extreme fatigue not the goal? I want you to build your conditioning gradually, intelligently.  Smarter, manageable training spread across the long-term.  It is, in fact, a marathon not a sprint.

Give high a energy effort while you’re knee deep in these sessions.

Train hard, recover harder and set yourself up to build and progress from the today’s effort.

Now, please enjoy these three options.

Nano-Cardio #1

15 Kettlebell Swings

250 Meter Row

  • 8-10 rounds
  • 45-60 seconds rest in between rounds (or use heart rate monitor and recover to 60% of max heart rate before starting next round)
  • Rower damper setting to 5-6


Nano-Cardio #2

10 Squat-to-Press

5 Chin-Ups

250 Meter Row

  • 8 rounds
  • 45 seconds rest for rounds 1-4, 60 seconds rest for rounds 5-8
  • Rower damper setting to 5-6
  • Squat-to-Press:  Use barbell, kettlebells, dumbells, sandbag or whatever you have.


Nano-Cardio #3

10 Kettlebell Swings

5 Right/Left Landmine Rotation Grapplers

250 Meter Row

  • 8 rounds
  • 45 seconds rest for rounds 1-4, 60 seconds rest for rounds 5-8
  • Rower damper setting to 5-6
  • Manageable weight on the landmine grapplers, progress up in weight as needed.



Notice that all of these compact conditioning workouts include a 250 meter distance rowing interval.  The 500 meter may be a gold-standard distance, but I have found that rowing a 500 meter hard for nano-workouts like these is too aggressive for maintaining output across 8 rounds.  Especially after working through two exercises prior to rowing.

Remember, the workout is scheduled for 8 rounds, don’t make the mistake of measuring effectiveness of the workout based on you feel after the first couple of rounds.  You will be tired eventually.  If you’re fresh as a daisy after battling through 8 rounds, add more, but don’t overdo it.

A 250 meter row delivers a great cardiovascular stimulus without making you feel like you’re spending the entire workout on the rower.

By keeping the rowing distance shorter, you’ll give yourself a chance to increase your power per stroke across that 250 meters.  Shorter distance, less accumulated fatigue, more effort per stroke, more focus on technique per stroke.  This is valuable for all fitness levels.

Fatigue is a technique killer, no matter how you are exercising.

Concept 2 Rowers come equipped with a read-out monitor that gives amazingly detailed feedback on your watts (power output), distance, time and back log for previous workouts.  It’s an amazingly effective piece of fitness equipment.

Increase the distance if you feel that my suggested distance of 250 meters isn’t challenging enough, or you’ve adapted quickly and need to progress.

But again, don’t make that decision until you’ve hit rounds 7 or 8.

I’d guess that the average time it will take to row 250 meters will be between 38-50 seconds.  It’s likely that you will see that time drop off as fatigue sets in during later rounds.

Damper setting: I rarely adjust the damper setting outside of the 5-7 setting.  Adjusting the damper too low doesn’t seem to provide enough resistance early in strokes, yet adjusting it too high turns seems to si training event and makes each stroke feel as if you’re rowing through a mud.  Play around with the damper setting, see what you prefer.

Keep the rest periods strict.  I can’t stress this enough.  Make an effort to pay greater attention to the details.

Too often people aren’t as detailed with their rest periods as they should be.  If you’re scheduled to rest for 45 seconds, that means  you’re resting for 45 seconds. Not 45 seconds plus the 10-15 seconds it takes to set up for the next round.  Your first rep of kettlebell swings should begin when the clock hits 45 seconds (or whatever length rest period you’ve chosen).

Physiology-based rest periods is the next progression beyond the basic pre-set, fixed rest period approach.  If you own a heart rate monitor, I highly recommend leveraging some simple technology for a more customized work:rest experience.

The concept is simple: you’ll start the next round when your heart rate lowers to a targeted beats per minute.  My personal target heart rate is commonly 60%-70% of my maximum heart rate.

Of course, in order to figure out your target heart rate, you’ll need to first estimate (the keyword here is “estimate”) what your maximum heart rate is, so here are some links to formulas…

Estimating heart rate with the infamous 220-age equation is by far fastest, yet probably the most inaccurate.  This formula can leave you with a standard deviation of + or – 12 beats per minute.  For me at 31 years of age, that means that my maximum heart rate could be anywhere from 177bpm-201bpm.  That’s a wide range.

Using a heart rate monitor does provide a more customized workout experience, along with some adding a motivation element.  If you’re like me, it’s interesting to track your heart rate patterns during exertion/rest, time to recover back to target heart rate, and the general adaptations that occur over the long-term.

It’s amazing how the body responds to different training stimuli based on intensity, efficiencies and inefficiencies and duration.

But, keep in mind that recovery from intense bouts of work can vary greatly from person to person and is often highly individualized.

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 6.38.28 AM.png

Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor


A heart rate monitor with basic functions and read out such as the Polar FT1 Heart Rate Monitor or the Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor from Amazon will work fantastic.  Here’s the link to the entire Polar product catalog on Amazon.

If you’re interested in a fitness tracker that provides information well beyond a basic heart rate function, there are plenty of more technologically advanced options.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 8.14.10 AM

(photo: Fitbit Surge Fitness Superwatch)

I would recommend the following (in no particular order):


Give these a workouts a go, check out the heart rate approach to work:rest,  and if you would, leave some feedback in the comments section about your experience.






Shop Now Rogue Fitness

Does Being Fit Make You Harder to Kill?

Quick Tips


At first I was going to say yes, without a doubt building fitness makes a person harder to kill.

I’m not sure about you, but personally every barbell squat, kettlebell swing, turkish get-up, 500m row and jump rope interval makes me that much harder to put 6 feet deep.

[Improving fitness cannot just be centered around improving exertion.  Exertion is just one piece of the puzzle, a fragment of a much larger picture.  We must consider the role of achieving better body position or movement pattern quality, tissue health and integrity, recovery and nutrition to be highly influential topics that enhance our ability to perform.]

It’s empowering to know that my stopping power increases with each and every repetition, distance covered and position held.

In fact, I was walking through the grocery store yesterday sizing up other customers wondering who might challenge me to a scrap.

As fate would have it, I navigated my way through the treacherous isles of the store without a single encounter,  purchasing my groceries unscathed.

Leaving the store, my thoughts quickly shifted to a classic movie scene from Indiana Jone’s.  Many of you will remember this particular clip quite well…



But if you do manage to trick me with ninja smoke and slip in a finishing move, please, do me the service of burying me ass up so you’ll have a place to park your bike.

Harder to kill?  Sweet slogan but hardly relevant for most of us. 🙂

Whatever gets you going though, right?





Metabolic Conditioning: The Bear Barbell Complex Workout

20 minute Workouts, Quick Tips

“The Bear” Barbell Complex is as close to flowing barbell training with a barbell that you’ll ever get, or at least I have ever gotten.

I’ll assume that “The Bear” is referred to as “The Bear” because of how difficult the workout is.

This complex workout leverages barbells.  Barbells are mostly thought to develop pure strength and power.

The barbell was manufactured to work well for moving heavy weight.  Moving heavy weight creates the ideal training stimulus for building strength.  If a person moves the barbell fast enough across a set distance (Point A to Point B), the barbell becomes a tool that enhances an individuals power.  Think cleans, snatches, jerks, etc.

  • Slower moving + heavy weight = Strength Development
  • Fast moving + medium/heavy weight = Force Production = Power Development

Although barbell training might not be an appetizing fitness solution for a lot of people, taking some time to learn and practice the basics of barbell training can pay a person back ten-fold over time.

My guess is a lot of people avoid barbell training because of the intimidation and unfamiliarity factor, or for some, the uncomfortable sensation of iron grinding against the skin.  Barbell work will develop tough hands over time.

The callouses I cannot help you with… but if you want to know more about barbell training, buy Starting Strength by Mark Rippletoe.  Read a few pages, practice, read a few more pages and practice some more.  There is a wealth of knowledge in Starting Strength that can help you establish the emotional confidence and the technique to play around with the barbell a bit more.

It’s important not to be afraid or intimidated by the barbell.  When people think of barbell training they usually picture a 300lb tank-of-a-man squatting 500lbs, yelling like a maniac during every rep while his friends stand around yelling like maniacs during every rep.

You’re partially right if this is your initial mental picture.  But barbells, and how we use them to develop physical qualities has evolved a lot over the years.

Like any other fitness tool, barbells can be leveraged for other purposes also.

In particular, I enjoy using the barbell during work capacity directed training sessions (aka: metabolic conditioning) or at the end of a workout for a short burst finisher.  Think high reps with lower loads, or a highly concentrated amount of work done in a short time frame, or unique mixture of both.

When I re-stumbled onto the The Bear Barbell Complex a few weeks ago, I reintroduced myself to a style of barbell training that I used to use quite a bit, especially when available workout time was limited.

“What is The Bear Complex?, you ask.

Come a bit closer and let’s take a look…

Barrier to Entry

Tools: Barbell and plates (bumper or standard metal work fine), clock timer such as the GymBoss.
Skill:  Working knowledge of the barbell based exercises listed below.

The Exercises

#1: Power Clean

#2: Front Squat

#3:  Push Press

#4: Back Squat

#5:  Behind-the-neck Push Press

Workout Structure

–  Each movement is performed for 1 repetition before immediately moving into the next exercise.

–  1 Cycle =  1 repetition from #1-#5 in alternating/descending order.  After exercise #5’s rep, return back to exercise #1.

–  1 Round = 7 Cycles

–  Perform 5 Rounds

–  Rest 90 seconds after finishing each round.

–  Barbell weight is dependent on:

  • Weakest lift (the weakest lift determines the appropriate load, which should be sub-maximal)
  • Exercise technique and know-how.
  • Reaction to fatigue (which correlates closely with the deterioration of exercise technique)
  • Advanced Women – 95lbs
  • Advanced Men – 135lbs

The Extended Break-Down…

There are 35 reps of every movement being performed throughout all 5 rounds.  Just 35 reps.  If you consider the volume of a more traditional work-rest training session, where a squat is performed for 8 reps x 3-4sets, the volume is not much higher.

The weight used is also much lighter than a more traditional work-rest set and should be determined by your weakest lift in the complex.  For a lot of people that is going to be the push press, possibly the power clean (grip). I’m asking you to perform 5 reps for each round.  The barbell load should be a sub-maximal, which means that you should be able to push press that barbell for 8-10 reps comfortably.

My suggestions on weight for men and women are not the law.  Adjust the weight to what is appropriate for your current fitness level and know-how.

Every exercise is performed for a single rep before moving into the next exercise.  From rep to rep, you’re alternating between different movement pattern throughout each cycle.  It’s important to understand this aspect of The Bear Complex, because it’s one of it’s features that makes it so physically taxing.

Elevation Change

The barbell begins on the floor and travels to chest height after the clean and during the front squat.  After the front squat the barbell moves overhead after the push press.  The barbell then transitions from the front of the body to the back of the body on the descent down from the push press.

At this point, the barbell rests on the shoulders while you perform a back squat.  At the top of the back squat, the barbell is forcefully pressed overhead once more, and caught back into the front rack position at chest height.  The barbell is guided back to waist height and eventually back down to the floor to prepare for the next cycle, starting with a power clean.

The training stimulus elicited by moving the barbell up and down, front to back, movement to movement creates a large metabolic training effect.

Performing single rep of a movement pattern, followed by single rep of a completely different movement pattern, while bundling a bunch of different movement patterns together in a row (creating a “cycle”) is extremely fatiguing.  It’s provides a unique training stimulus for the body to cope with and also laser-like focus for the mind to keep up with since every rep involves a different movement pattern.

‘Single-rep-alternating-movement-pattern-workouts’ have proven to be an effective variation of traditional complex training, where exercises are performed for multiple repetitions before moving on to the next movement pattern.

If you’re accustomed to sectioning off your complexes, doing 6 reps of one exercise here and 6 reps of another there before moving on, alternating movement patterns with every rep will be a shock to your system.

It’s reiterating once again that alternating the movement pattern on every rep requires great skill.  The barbell is constantly changes levels, stopping and starting in different positions.  The transitions can be brutal.  There’s a high level of focus needed here.

The Fatigue is Coming…

During The Bear Complex, the first few reps/cycles usually don’t feel too rough, but the wave of fatigue that bites you in the ass somewhere around cycle 5, 6 or 7 can be overwhelming.  Possibly so much so that executing all 7 cycles for any 1 round is just plain unreasonable if you’re new it.  Don’t be afraid to remove your hands from the barbell to take a break and to gather yourself.

Loaded conditioning is a fantastic method to burn fat and develop high level work capacity which has great transfer into sport and becoming more resilient toward real life labor, but fatigue can break down your exercise technique.  Don’t be a hero here, be smart.  If 5 rounds is too much, do 4 rounds.  Be reasonable.

Movement technique first and foremost, forever and always.

Pay Attention to your grip integrity

Alternating movement patterns and transitioning the bar to different resting positions can fry your grip.  Consider that the bar is moving from the floor, to chest to over head, to shoulders, back to overhead and finally back down to the floor position.  That’s a lot of bar movement.  Don’t be afraid to walk away from the barbell if your grip starts to slip.  A quality grip is needed for the cleans.  Attempting to pull a barbell with a poor grip can be dangerous, and the fatigue that’s been created with slow your reaction/recovery time.  Again, rest for a few seconds, gather yourself, then complete the work with a solid grip.

If you’re a tenacious sweater like I am, also be aware of any sweat rolling down your forearm and into the hand/barbell interface.  Don’t push through this situation either.  Dry all surfaces with a towel and continue on.  Maybe consider using a no mess chalk solution such as HumanX Chalk Balls to help maintain grip.  Chalking your hands has come a long way.

This workout is advanced 

Complex training in general is an advanced form of training.

Any exercise scheduled in a complex must be an exercise that you have a familiarity with BEFORE you enter the workout.  You must have experience and proficiency in executing each of the included exercises on an individual level before you attempt a workout like The Bear Complex.  If you don’t know how to perform any one of the exercises, The Bear Complex is not the place to learn.


If you’re looking to add in some variety to your training, give The Bear Complex a legitimate shot.  Be honest with your rest periods, your exercise technique and the structure of the reps, cycles, rounds.  Also be honest with weight that you choose to use.  There’s no shame in lessening the load if you need to.

Cheers to The Bear…


(Video Coming Soon)

The Benefits of Jumping Rope (Part I)

Quick Tips

Over a year ago I whipped up an article that cautioned jump rope training, and it’s been one of my most popular posts on this blog.  You can find it here.

The issue with that post, is that I painted a picture that jumping rope is a harmful activity.

It’s not, but the title and tone of the post was deceptive.  In the end, I wanted it to be a cautionary tale.

It’s worth considering that jumping rope might not be the best option for you, depending on past injuries and other contraindications (which I cannot predict because I don’t know you).

The fact is that I really love jump rope training and I think that you should also.

Personally I jump rope almost daily, either as part of a warm-up or as part of the workout.

The jump rope is an incredible piece of equipment to leverage during the warm up.  5-10 minutes of jumping rope prior to a hard training session is ideal.

For the space restricted or climate restricted person (Winter in the North), I feel that jumping rope is an incredible solution to get you upright and moving.  We’ve beaten the “sit to much” campaign into the ground, but getting back on your feet while training a great goal.

Once beyond the initial learning curve, jumping rope transitions from a self-regulating/self torture activity into a highly engaging activity, that can be quite fun.

Here are a few of those undeniable benefits…

Functional Cardio

Does all cardiovascular conditioning need to take place on your feet?  Absolutely not.  However, it’s undeniable that life happens standing.  It’s also undeniable that we sit too much throughout the day.  Jumping rope puts you on your feet in an upright position where you are charged with the simple task of dodging the ropes as it turns.  It sounds easy and it might be for the first few turns, but jumping rope is a skill that elicits a cardio training effect similar to running.

In order to turn the rope faster, you’ll have to pay closer attention to your technique and posture, which needs to be on point as the jumps per minute increase.

Vertical conditioning tactics has great transfer into everyday life.  Improving your ability to deal with fatigue in a functional manner will serve you very well.

***  I’m aware of the studies saying that jumping rope for 10 minutes is like running for 30 minutes.  Studies like this are great for exercise physiologists and for selling fitness magazines, but in my opinion, they encourage people to do less.  Don’t cut corners on your workouts, do the work.  I’ve jumped rope for 10 minutes straight plenty of times and I can tell you that it gets boring and repetitive real quick.  I’ve also tracked my heart rate pretty aggressively during these jump sessions and I’ve never seen my heart reach a BPM as high as when I’m running.  Maybe it’s a personal problem.

Small Space Cardio Solution

If you live in a location where Winter cages you like an animal during 4-5 months per year, you can appreciate the fact that jumping rope can keep you fit without having to be outside or needing open space to move around.  If your ceilings are high enough and the floor you’re jumping on can tolerate it, jumping rope is a cash money conditioning activity.

The Winter’s in Wisconsin are relentless, so it’s nice to be able to mix in a potent conditioning session without having to stomp around outside in the slush.  Treadmills, stationary bikes and other new age cardio equipment are decent alternatives for elevating heart rate in a pinch, but there is nothing like moving your body as it was meant to on real ground.


If you’ve only jumped rope using the standard two-foot jump, you’re missing out.  Go back and mix in some variations.  Standard two-foot jumping has it’s place, but even a full minute of two foot jumping is boring.  Switch it up.  Try going single leg for a few rotations, running with low knees, running with high knees, side to side, front to back, 180 degree rotations, double-unders, boxer hops, etc.

Jumping rope becomes interesting and quite taxing when you start to mix in improvised variations.

It takes skill to jump rope, and any time you can expose your body to a new skill, you’re better for it.

Low Cost Cardio Alternative

A speedy trip to your local sporting good store and $5-$10 buys you a pass into the jump rope game.

If you’re tight on cash, jump ropes are fantastic alternative.  If you’re thinking about buying a treadmill or an elliptical, buy a jump rope instead and roll that money into more versatile gym equipment instead.

Just be aware that there are major differences in jump rope design and the material their constructed from.  As with anything, you’ll get what you pay for.  I’m not saying it’s mandatory to drop $40 on a piece of rope with handles, but having a jump rope that spins freely at the handle-rope junction is nice, and I’d suggest purchasing cable rope to increase it’s lifespan.

I’ve broken a bunch of shitty quality ropes jumping and it’s frustrating when it happens and potentially harmful to your body, pets or personal belongings.

Rogue Fitness has great ropes for cheap, check out their selection.

It’s brilliant that “high end” jump ropes are selling for $40+, considering they are probably manufactured somewhere in China for less than $5. Not a bad profit there. Alibaba, here I come.

Active Rest

Jumping rope as a filler exercise in the middle of a workout is fantastic.

Here is how you would position jumping rope as a “filler exercise” :

Squat x10

Jump Rope x50 rotations

Push-Up x10

Jump Rope x50 rotations

Chin-Up x10

Jump Rope x50 rotations

Lunges x10 Right/Left

Jump Rope x50 rotations

… rinse and repeat for rounds and/or time.

Look at that!  Equipment needed?… your body and a jump rope.  Simplicity.

A workout like the one above is resourceful, barebones fitness at it’s best.  50 rotations of the jump rope might not seem like a lot at first, but remember that the fatigue is accumulating as you complete the work.  The bodyweight exercises provide a sub-maximal muscular challenge while jumping rope serves as a temporary break from that muscular effort.

Jumping rope as active rest in between resistance based exercises really highlights the self-limiting idea.  As technique and posture wear down with fatigue, your jump cadence will also slow or force a rest altogether.  The rope gives you instant feedback on your technique and fatigue.

It takes tremendous discipline to tame your thoughts, breath and posture when your heart rate is raging at 85%-90% of max BPM.  You’ll know what I’m talking once you’re in the storm.

The wrap up…

Jumping rope is a bad ass training method.  I support it 100%.  Boxers, martial artists and athletes have jumped rope for ages to develop high level conditioning that transfers.

Just remember that a jump rope is a tool.  It’s a small piece of a much larger puzzle.  It’s provides an inexpensive, yet effective vehicle for cardiovascular conditioning that is uniquely different than other traditional cardio activities like running or biking.  Not better, not worse, just different.

Also consider that there are rarely dangerous training methods.  I think my days of prefacing all of my writing with words of caution are behind me.  Fitness protocols and tactics become dangerous when they fall into the wrong hands or they are abused with negligence.  Take an honest assessment if there is anything out of whack with your body that should be considered before you start jumping.

Exercise common sense and you all of the positive effects of jumping rope…

Cheers to jumping rope…


Make Your Bed and You’ll Succeed In Your Fitness Endeavors

Quick Tips

I’m an inspirational video junkie.

If I can find a great TED Talk or a video from a individual who has accomplished some amazing feats and has something to share about it, I am going to watch it.

Extracting value from anything and everything-video or the written word- has been a hobby of mine for a quite some time now, and this morning’s extraction was especially enlightening and thought provoking, definitely worth the 19 minutes of time to take it all in.

The video I watched was from this year’s University of Texas graduation commencement speech, where alumnus William H. McRaven was the guest speaker to nearly 8,000 graduating seniors.

McRaven is a big deal in the military, as he is the acting commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command. He helped organize the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Not bad for the resumé.

There were a great number of points in McRaven’s speech that are worth discussing, but one in particular seemed to resonate with me.

It had to do with the SEAL training instructors entering the barracks every morning and conducting a stringent inspection of each SEAL candidates bed.

What were they observing? How well they made their made their bed.

Sheets needed to be square and crisp around each corner, covers pulled tight, extra blanket folded and placed gently at the foot of the “rack”, pillow placed carefully in at the head of the bed, perfectly centered.

The bed needed to be made to perfection, each and every day, no exceptions whatsoever. McRaven went on to comment, “It was a simple task- mundane at best.”

But the point of the task was in the wisdom behind it’s execution.

“If you make your bed everyday you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”

Here comes the magic statement (the wisdom if you will)…

“If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right”.

Although this sounds like something that many of you have probably heard over and over again, it deserves to be revisited the brilliance is in it’s simplicity.

Especially if you’re chasing fitness or any health related goal.

You need not worry about supplementation, fancy magazine exercises or any other minutiae if you are not already executing the basics of drinking water, eating whole foods, sleeping, and moving around more frequently and with purpose.

Doing so is putting the cart ahead of the horse, and will leave you filled with anxiety, broke and disappointed. I speak from experience first and foremost.

The magic solution to fitness (and health for that matter) is consistently (and frequently) executing the basics of human movement, nutrition and sleep despite all of the urges to not do so.

Stopping to make your bed in the morning gives you momentum throughout the rest of the day.

It really doesn’t matter what style of nutrition you choose (Paleo, Intermittment Fasting, more frequent feedings, square meals, etc) or how you choose to train (long slow cardio, powerlifiting, movement based, gymnastics, metabolic resistance, etc), if you can’t make you bed… you’re not doing the basics.

You’ve left a gap in the process. Your tactics are lacking the fundamental elements from which all other higher level tactics must rest upon.

If you want to draw some parallels to exercise and making your bed, I would say that the entire concept of exercise progression starts with making your bed.

If you want to move like Ido Portal or an elite gymnast, you better understand that it takes years of movement practice to achieve that level of movement. Practicing handstands once a week when it is convenient for you won’t cut it.

If you want to deadlift 600lbs, you better start with successfully pulling 135lbs with flawless form first. Heck, can you hinge your hips correctly without any weight? Start there.

You don’t have to like the timeless principles of overload and exercise progression, but you should probably learn to respect them.

Those who are consistent in their approach to overload and detailed with their attention to moving through exercise progressions often make the fastest advances and the greatest gains, all without sacrificing the integrity of your bones and joints. You can go hard, but go hard with “smart” always in the back of your mind.

And on and on…

Here are a few other make your bed scenarios…

“Can you teach me how to single arm swing a kettlebell and transition into a bottoms up squat to press”?

– “Have you made your bed?”

“Can you share with me why I should be eating more coconut oil and why MCT’s are good for the body?”

– “Have you made your bed?”

“What’s the difference between whey protein isolate and casein protein and how often should I be consuming each?

– “Have you made your bed?”

What’s the main idea here?

If a Navy SEAL, who is a professional warrior in essence, has to learn how to perfect the habit of making his bed prior to moving on to anything else in their training curriculum, why would it be any different for the average human?

Get your “make your bed” activity done right away in the morning. In other words, do something- and this can be anything really- that gives you momentum that can be leveraged for the remainder of the day.

This day to day execution will accumulate to weekly execution, which will spill over to monthly execution, which will spill over to yearly execution, which will culminate into your lifelong habits.

All of the small puzzle pieces, when put in their proper places, will eventually create a masterpiece.

Imagine, all you did was dedicate yourself to making your bed savagely well.

The magic is in the details, as basic as they may be.



Cheers to making your bed…


(Check out the full video of this AMAZING speech on my Facebook Page)

Infusing Kettlebell Presses into Turkish Get Ups = Amazing Added Challenge

Kettlebell Training, Quick Tips

The Turkish Get Up is a little known weapon to those who are insanely strong, balanced and mobile.

Since implementing into my own training schedules, I have noticed incredible increases in shoulder stability and strength, core stability and strength through multiple planes of movement, along with a nice boost in joint mobility at the hip, shoulder and thoracic spine regions.

To be honest, it’s extremely hard for an exercise to crack my workout line-up. In other words, I am very selective about adding new training methods since I have seen such tremendous results with my mainstay movements.

However, in the same breath, I have to say that the turkish get up has been one of the greatest additions to my training habits to date. The amount of insight that I gained about my own movement quality was unprecedented, and humbling at times.

I ‘bulletproofed’ my body the day that I dedicated myself to learning the turkish get up, and by learning, I am talking about reading articles and watching YouTube videos until I was blue in the face.

You can learn any exercise correctly if you know where to look on the internet. If you’re a visual learner, check out the videos on YouTube, some are extremely high quality and in depth.

I cannot say enough about the drastic impact turkish get ups had on my performance and quite frankly, my physique. Spending that amount of time under tension does wonders for firming up a person’s body. I can’t deny that I haven’t enjoyed seeing the tweaks in transformation.

The traditional turkish get up is a phenomenal exercise, and probably needs no further adjustments or additions, but for the curious mind (which I have) and those who enjoy exploring (which I do), adding in slight tweaks to the turkish get up can make what some feel is a “bland” exercise extremely interesting, not to mention fun.

Of course, everyone should hone in on the basics of executing a regular turkish get up before moving any further in the progression, it just makes senses to progress with common sense.

The idea of pressing during the turkish get up was simple…

I perform a press at certain check points that allow for it.

Press #1: Horizontal chest press in the starting prone position.

Press #2: Overhead vertical press at the tall kneeling position.

Press #3: Overhead vertical press at the standing position.

Press #4: Explosive push press at the standing position.


If you stop and think about it, you’re pressing the kettlebell (or dumbbell) four different times for each individual rep of the turkish get up.

That’s a lot of work.

*** Keep in mind that the chest press performed in the lying position might will not feel like a normal bench press because: 1) You’re pressing an odd object (kettlebell), 2) Your range of motion is limited (elbow contacts ground surface) 3) Your body position is altered from a more traditional bench press.

All of these things are ok, so relax about it. “Real world training” says that you won’t always be pressing a shiny dumbbell on a padded bench. Though he was referring to sandbags, I believe I heard Alwyn Cosgrove call repetitions like these “alive reps”. Nice terminology, I can roll with that.

If you perform 5 reps of get ups on each side of the body, you’re looking at 20 reps per side (40 total) right and left. If you go higher reps, which I typically like doing since my turkish get up practice usually involves nothing more than get ups and some kettlebell swings afterward for conditioning purposes, you might be looking at a pressing volume of 40+ reps on each side of the body.

Consider that the pressing is uni-lateral (pressing with one arm while the other remains unloaded) and you can bet that your mid-section is getting as much of a workout as your upper and lower extremities are.

Poke your tummy the next time you press a decently heavier weight on one side only, it will be activated.

“Six-pack training” anyone?

I considered pressing at the same check points on the way back down to the start position, but felt like this would be slight overkill. Who knows, maybe down the road. That would have increased my pressing volume to 40 reps per side for every 5 reps of turkish get ups, and 80 per side had I completely 10 turkish get ups.

This is where I use my logic. For my goals, that amount of pressing will take away from my main goal, which is to work the turkish get up, not improve my pressing strength and abilities. So, I avoided this volume to keep the workout more TGU-centered.

Make sense?

Post-workout, the first observation I had was the fatigue component experienced from all of the added pressing.

The shoulder burn wasn’t nearly as bad as it was from the “5 minute no rest turkish get ups” that I adopted from Jon Hinds (owner of Monkey Bar Gym), but it was right up there. I am humbled what a simple activity like holding a weight (and a relatively light one at that) overhead can do to fry your shoulder musculature.

For me personally, it was a completely manageable fatigue (which is perfect) that provided an added challenge to the main movement.

A rarely discussed topic with turkish get ups is the amount of cognitive support needed to execute such a segmented exercise. There is a lot happening on the way up to the standing position, and then on the reversal moving back down to the starting position.

Holding the weight overhead is one thing. Holding the weight overhead while twisting and turning underneath that weight in an effort to rise up to the standing position from a dead stop laying position is another. Don’t

The first few times I gave a good effort to turkish get ups- treating them like practice versus a workout- my brain was fried. My eyes felt tired.

The brain has to be engaged in order to make turkish get ups work, and this is another HUGE benefit of the drill. Turkish get ups are a technique driven drill sequence. I respect those who preach this, because I feel that focusing on technique and the subtle details is how you extract the most physical and mental benefit from the movement.

The mind-body connection during get ups is of tremendous benefit for the exercisee.

I feel smarter after get ups, no lie. More detailed, more creative, stronger 3-dimensionally.

If you’re looking for a challenge, try adding some presses into your turkish get up practice. But keep it exactly that, practice. Be mindful of your abilities, yet don’t be afraid to walk to the fringe to challenge your mind and body.

And as I mentioned earlier in the post, if you have never practiced turkish get ups, your main job is to learn the steps first before adding pressing. You have to crawl before you walk.

Cheers to adding pressing to your turkish get ups,


(pictures to come…)

Just Bodyweight Exercise

Quick Tips

Bodyweight training is making a serious comeback in my own training habits.

It’s easy to forget about how effective bodyweight exercise is.

I’m guilty of it for sure. But I’ve recently returned to what I consider the foundation of all exercise, basic bodyweight training. “Basic” doesn’t mean easy. Single leg squats, single arm push ups, hybrid pulling movements, handstands and crawling variations are some of the most challenging movements in the exercise rolodex. Especially when you hold yourself to strict technique.

Workout equipment is always going to be evolving and innovating, but the idea that you can get a highly effective workout anywhere and anytime is incredibly valuable.

The rules of bodyweight training don’t differ much from more traditional forms of resistance based training. There are advantages/disadvantages and sacrifices to every form of exercise when you think about it, and bodyweight strength and conditioning is no different.

Nearly all of the major movement patterns are present: pulling, pushing, squatting, lunging along with various forms of cardiovascular conditioning such as running, hybrid movements like burpees, mountain climbers, and crawling.

I used the word “nearly” in the previous sentence because there is still no viable way to load the hip hinging pattern using just bodyweight. Deadlifts are still a no go, especially if you are staying minimalist with your definition of bodyweight training.

However, since the rise of glute thrusts and other glute activation drills, strengthening the backside without equipment seems feasible. Progression is the key here, especially since many strong individuals will find that the double leg versions of bodyweight hip bridging and bodyweight hip thrusts just don’t load the backside enough.

Progressing to a single leg version of the hip thrust is the ticket here. Go for increased reps, slow the tempo of movement down or hold the top (lockout) position for time.

Let’s not forget about the vast amount of abdominal focused training that bodyweight exercise has to offer. Plank variations, hollow body rocks, crawling, slow mountain climbers and hanging leg raises are all incredibly challenging exercise when performed with strict technique and adequate time under tension.

Progressing the intensity -and therefore the training effect of bodyweight exercises- can also provide a unique challenge.

Knowing when to increase reps, increase time under tension, increase the intensity and skill challenge of a movement pattern all come into play here.

Single arm push ups are a great example here. The transition from a traditional push up to a single arm push up is drastic when it comes to the increasing demands in stability and loading. There is also a grooving issue early on, where the body simply hasn’t been exposed to what’s required physically to complete a quality rep/set of single arm push ups.

In these situations, I will either break up the movement or add assistance in the form of a resistance band.

Breaking up the exercise into its segments typically involves working the eccentric portion of the exercise first.

So, for the single arm push up, I will focus on the lowering portion (eccentric) exclusively for a few weeks, or until I have developed the control, strength and stability to progress to adding the concentric (ascending back to the top) portion of the exercise. Eccentric training isn’t sexy and even 3-5 seconds of lowering can feel like an eternity, but it’s a gateway method to arrive at the next logical progression of an exercise.

If you have access to a resistance band, you can loop it around your chest and receive assistance during key moments of the lift. For a single arm push up, it can be challenging to push out of the bottom of the exercise, and this is where the band assistance technique works wonders. Since the band will be stretched to the maximum at the bottom of the push up, you’ll receive the most assistance where it’s needed most.

Band assistance is fantastic for working up to chin ups, pulls ups and single leg squats.

If you’re looking for a simple yet effective bodyweight training session, try this one…

Set #1:
10 push ups
10 squats
10 hollow rocks
—> Repeat for 5 rounds, or work continuously for 10 minutes w/o rest.

Set #2:
10 chin ups
10 lunges (right/left)
10 yards and back crawling

10 burpees every minute on the minute for 10 rounds.

Adjust the progression of each exercise to fit your strength and skill level. Everything can be adapted to your needs.

Leave the workout feeling invigorated and empowered knowing that you can handle your bodyweight…

Cheers to bodyweight training!