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Rings of Power by Mike GIllette

Rings of Power by Mike Gillette Cool new book from Mike Gillette about Ring Training for all fitness levels. Being on this shoot with Mike was like working with a real live action hero! (And I got to put a cinderblock on him too!) Mike knows his stuff and shares everything you need to know for his versatile go-anywhere ring training.  Full progressions of every exercise, workout plans, and all the know-how to take the training as far as you wish. Good stuff, and yes, that's me on the left side of the cover  :)

Barbarian Track Day - Another Silly Sounding But Challenging Workout

Silly faux heroic pose with very awesome Stronger Grip MaceThe photo at the left here is my silly attempt at a heroic pose with a very serious piece of exercise equipment from Ryan Pitts of He makes some incredible stuff of fantastic craftsmanship, which if you haven't checked it out, please do so. This exercise mace is down right formidable and while I've gotten better with it (with weight added in the globe) it always manages to keep me on my toes.

It was time for another challenge, so I wrote up a particularly interesting one, and participated in it as well. Self-scaling elements and variations included (these are always in my notebooks where these ideas get scrawled then tested on real human beings before getting shared here).

Won't deny it, I'm not a fan of running, even though I've been told that I'm pretty ok at it, and that I'm reasonably fast.  I do like to sprint on occasion and just go all out for a short period of time, preferably up hill.  At that point its more of an act of defiance than an athletic feat.  Also, at any given time I like to know that I can go and keep going very fast for at least 1/4 mile at a time, far enough to get to or away from something (zombies? regrettable live music?) if necessary.

Like most "track day" challenges this is something only done occasionally, and may or may not fit into the larger "plan" other than as a benchmark or casual assessment. 

It's also fun to find out what can and can't be done in a particular period of time.  And to train with the maces - we brought out the big heavy one from Stronger Grip as well as a 10lb one, which was a good thing, I started out with the heavier mace but had to switch down about half way.  The other thing we brought out was my portable pull up bar, that isn't perfect, but serves it's purpose well enough for dead hang pull ups, chin ups, knee raises, leg raises.  Definitely not recommended for anything with even a hint of momentum.  The pull up bar has this bizarre nearly magnetic effect on some people as we soon learned.

After a joint mobility warm up and some various crawling drills (with the added "excitement" of dodging the odd sand spur) we started right in with the challenge -
four rounds of:

  • 5 dead hang pull-ups*
  • 1 lap around the track, optional sprint on one of the straight segments
  • 20 push ups**
  • 30 bodyweight squats***
  • 20 alternating mace lunges
  • 20 alternating mace swings
  • 10 hanging knee raises****

walking lunges with a small mace

We ended with a joint mobility cooldown, chatting with a friend from a while back and then, because it was in the trunk of my car, we played around with the Trideck my friends invented.

Now for all the talk of the asterisks above:

*5 dead hang pull ups is nowhere near my max, and that's on purpose, the point of the pull-ups in this weird circuit is by the 2nd or 3rd round everything seems to be a lot more challenging.  I wanted us to experience successful very well executed pull ups under reasonable exhaustion.  Other rep ranges may be appropriate considering the situation.  My workout partner chose to do 3 reps for example.  People who haven't worked up to solid pull ups would do well to work with bodyweight rows (TRX, waist height bar, rings...) in sets of 10 if appropriate

**Any variation, they just have to be GOOD push ups!  I did mine from the feet with feet together, but other options include feet shoulder width apart, or with hands on a riser, or even very well executed push ups from the knees.

***Bored? Add a kettlebell and make these goblet squats.  I was going for maximum range of motion with these.

****Somewhere around round 3 I decided to try full straight leg raises, that made running the next lap unbelievably difficult afterwards, but a very interesting challenge.

This was not easy, and it very quickly pointed out a lot of weak (but also strong) points.  Again while I'm not a runner, and don't enjoy it, I was amused to swap the order of the lap around the track and the pull-ups for one of the rounds.  While I was out of breath from going almost all out running, I was still able to do the pull ups without much more than the usual effort.  It was a very odd feeling, but encouraging in some way I'm not entirely able to describe just yet. Won't bore you with it here, but I'm working on a few almost mental experiments related to moments of pure focus. 

Sometimes I wonder if I write these challenge workouts to reach those brief instances and observe them. That sort of... focus--apply--overcome... then the obvious next question: where else in life can that same concept be applied?  A few weeks ago, someone that works at coffeehouse I use as my "work at home break room" told me about the elaborate preparations he was making for April 1st, and how it was all planned out over a month ahead.  This is someone who otherwise is incredibly disorganized.  I asked him... can you do an experiment for me? When you're finished planning the pranks for April 1st, take that same approach and apply it to something in your life that has always been a struggle. I saw a light bulb go on and while I'll probably hide out as much as possible for April 1st, I'll be curious to see what good things happen for him if he tries the experiment...  Ok sorry for all the vagueness on my side of the mental experiments, but at least this post hasn't yet degenerated into references to obscure directors and 70s music. Just know that some interesting things are about to begin!

AND this is definitely something to look forward to:

The Dragon Door Health and Strength Conference!!!

It's in August, but don't hesitate to sign up now! I'll be there - will you be? Can't wait to meet up with all these authors and leaders! Click here to download the full 29-page brochure about the Health and Strength Conference!


Dragon Door Hand Picked Resources for Optimal Living

100+ Workouts!

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Kettlebell, calisthenics, maces, battling ropes, sandbags, these workouts are for whatever you have--or don't have!

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Here's an eBook of workouts I created for an exclusive NYC private gym (kettlebells, calisthenics, sandbag) along with options for customization and coaching!

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What I'm Reading

(Including but not limited to...)
1. Oh, Florida! Craig Pittman
2. The Cat from Hue: A Vietnam War Story John Laurence
3. On Camera Coach Karin M. Reed

(Audible Listening)
10% Happier Dan Harris

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