Tempering the Body Through Cold Exposure Training

Tempering is the process by which something is made stronger, harder, and more durable. In the case of steel, it is the process of reheating and cooling it off that improves the hardness and elasticity of the metal. The same process can be used to forge a stronger, healthier, more resilient body!

In his book, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, Nassim Nicholas Taleb discusses a process called hormesis. “Hormesis, a word coined by pharmacologists, is when a small dose of a harmful substance is actually beneficial for the organism, acting as a medicine. A little bit of the otherwise offending substance, not too much, acts to benefit the organism and make it better overall as it triggers some overreaction… gains from harm.”

Just as repeated exposure to the right amount of strength training, progressively increased through proper programming builds muscle, increases energy and endurance, and makes the body stronger overall while completely over doing it simply accelerates the breakdown of the system.  Exposure to cold acts in a similar manner. Short term cold exposure, incrementally increased over time provides an assortment of benefits not found in any other form of training. This process of conditioning through the gradual and continued exposure to stress within a controlled dynamic is known as “Stress Inoculation”.

Benefits of Cold Exposure Training

  • Reduces inflammation
  • Increased fat burning through cold thermogenesis
  • Improved immune system function
  • Boosts testosterone
  • Increased energy and focus
  • Increased athletic performance
  • Faster recovery
  • Improved sleep
  • Mental toughness

How to Do Cold Exposure Training

Cold exposure training doesn’t have to be extreme. In fact, since it’s a conditioning process – tempering – in the beginning it is better done in small, incremental doses. You can start simply by turning the water in the shower to cold for 30 seconds and slowly increasing exposure for up to 5 or 10 minutes. Eventually work your way up to stepping right into an ice cold shower first thing in the morning – no hot water!

Another way to gradually build up cold exposure is to walk around outside in the winter time without a jacket for short periods of time until it becomes tolerable. Work your way up to wearing just a t-shirt and shorts while walking around in the cold. Sure you’ll get funny looks, but it’s worth it!

Ready to kick it up a notch?

Try an ice bath or cold water swimming in a pool, lake, or ocean – Polar Bear Plunge, anyone??

And, of course there’s always cold water dousing, made famous in the past few years by practitioners of Russian Martial Art, but also practiced by many other martial artists (Morihei Ueshiba, anyone?) and religious ascetics, alike. The practice itself is very simple, but the psychological hurdles one has to jump through in order to consistently carry it out are immense – thus the huge mental toughness component that goes into it!

Cold Water Dousing Procedure

  1. Fill up a bucket of cold water
  2. Go outside in your bathing suit and stand on the grass
  3. Slowly dump said bucket of cold water over your head
  4. Breath deep and enjoy the rush of heat and energy!!

Don’t worry, you won’t get sick – colds are caused by viruses, not being cold!

Here’s me cold water dousing in the snow here in NJ last weekend…

The Iceman

Wim Hof has set 21 world records involving cold exposure from running a marathon in his shorts above the arctic circle to running a full marathon in Namib desert without water consumption to climbing Mt. Everest in only shorts, to being immersed in ice for over an hour. In his book, Becoming the Iceman, Wim states, “The cold is a noble force… The cold forces me to generate heat. It makes me feel alive.”

Wim has also scientifically proven that his method of cold exposure, combined with breathing exercises, allows anyone to access and gain conscious control over autonomic processes, such as the immune system!

Both the Russian Martial Arts and Wim Hof, The Iceman, place an immense importance on breathing exercises as essential components of their health systems. The breath is used to fully oxygenate the body, generate heat and energy, and increase tolerance to stress and pain.

wim-hof-method-ice

Check out the Vice documentary on The Iceman to see how far cold exposure training can go!

 

What is the Warrior Fitness Difference and How Does It Benefit YOU?

Why should you chose to train Warrior Fitness Training versus any other type of fitness program out there, including making no choice and doing nothing?

Training for the Total Human

Warrior Fitness is the product of decades of training in the martial arts and the art of strength. In its simplest form Warrior Fitness is a distilled and synthesized blend of the very best training methodologies for becoming a fitness renaissance man or woman. Due to its synergistic nature, the seamless integrated whole of the system is vastly superior and greater than the sum of its parts. In short, Warrior Fitness has become a one-stop-shop for building a better human – physically stronger, tougher – resistant to failures, more enduring, flexible, mobile, and extremely capable. The warrior is mentally tough. Greater than robustness or resilience, the Warrior Fitness Training System is a portal to becoming antifragile.

The system allows the practitioner to minimize training time while maximizing the training effects, i.e. – results.

Warrior Fitness can be approached from different directions…

The Path of Strength & Conditioning

  • building muscle,
  • real world whole body strength,
  • nonstop endurance,
  • power generation,
  • explosive movement, etc.

The Path of Health

  • ancestral nutrition,
  • fat loss,
  • natural hormone optimization for women,
  • increased testosterone and growth hormone for men,
  • energy work – breathing exercises,
  • stress conversion,
  • increased energy,
  • recovery from injury,
  • increased flexibility and range of motion, etc.

The Path of Martial Art

  • combat conditioning,
  • performance enhancement,
  • self-defense and defending others,
  • real world functional strength and conditioning,
  • dynamic balance and stability,
  • internal power, etc.

No matter where you enter from – All paths ultimately lead to strength; to becoming the strongest most capable version of yourself.

Why Strength?

When ranking the hierarchy of fitness qualities, the Warrior Fitness system puts an emphasis on strength as the highest ability.

Why?

Simply because all other fitness qualities flow from strength. When one is stronger everything is easier. Greater strength enables one to be more energy efficient as tasks and challenges alike require a lesser expenditure of energy the stronger one becomes. What is endurance other than the continued ability to exert strength?

Get Stronger as You Get Older – The Over 40 Warrior

As of this writing I am 43 years old. I am stronger, much better conditioned, more resilient, and healthier now than I was at 23! Why? Because as a lifelong martial artist and physical culturist I have cracked the code on living stronger as I get older – and I want to share ALL my hard won knowledge with you!

Partial PR

 

  • How do you burn fat and build muscle at the same time?
  • How do you optimize testosterone levels?
  • How do you program workout intensity along with rest and recovery training to avoid plateaus and consistently make progress?
  • How do you properly fuel your body for optimal performance?
  • How do you recover, coordinate, and refine flexibility and range of motion?
  • How do you wake up with energy and vigor for attacking your day?
  • How do you put it all together to get maximal results in minimal time?

I firmly believe that I am in my physical prime and will continue to get stronger as I grow older. Others may believe that they are in a state of decline and getting weaker as they age… not so for the warrior.

Remember – the mind navigates the body.

What you believe to be true, is true.  In fact, research tells us that people do not stop moving because they get older, they get older because they stop moving. The ability to build strength and muscle does not decline – you simply have to know how to combine correct physical training, optimal nutrition, and supplementation with the correct mental training – belief, outlook, focus, concentration, visualization, etc. to become truly limitless.

Who is Warrior Fitness for?

  • For the Dad who wants to be in the best shape of his life in order to play with his kids and set an example of a healthy lifestyle that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives,
  • for the Mom who, after a long day at work wants to de-stress with a brief, but intense workout that won’t leave her exhausted,
  • for the businessman who finds his waistline expanding, his health lacking, muscle sagging, and wants to do something about it,
  • for the performer who needs to control her breathing and nervousness before getting on stage,
  • for the amateur athlete or weekend warrior who realizes that the daily aches and pains are getting worse as they get older and want to be stronger, healthier, and more capable as they get older,
  • for the regular people who have lives and families and other hobbies and don’t want to spend all day in the gym yet are ready for something more than just an ordinary workout,
  • for the unconventional fitness enthusiast who doesn’t desire the globo commercial gym scene, and is looking for a low-tech/high yield approach to fitness,
  • for the fitness nut who’s tired of the same old treadmill and is looking for something extraordinary,
  • And, of course for the martial artist who wants to get back into fighting fit shape while enhancing their martial art’s effectiveness by increasing how efficiently they move…

It’s For YOU…

Men, if you picked up your FREE copy of my book, Dad Strength, you know that men, in general, are getting weaker. We can counteract that. I can fix it. YOU can become the strong, Alpha-Male warrior you were always meant to be. You CAN get stronger every day.

Find out if you are a good fit for my NEW Warrior Fitness Coaching Program for Men <<===

Women, you also must be strong which is why I have also put together a Woman Warrior Transformation Program<<====

Want to talk? Sign up HERE for a free 10-minute Turbo Coaching Call to discuss your goals and how I can help you become the strongest, most capable version of yourself.

The END of Warrior Fitness?

I almost dissolved Warrior Fitness last year…

When I began this journey back in 2008 my only students were martial artists. My first book, Warrior Fitness: Conditioning for Martial Arts, was written for martial artists. But since then I have radically expanded my own training (to be discussed later) and my student base. My clients come from all walks of life, age range, gender, and level of physical activity.

My vision has expanded way beyond just the martial one with which I started. My mission has changed.

So with all these changes going on, I began to rethink my original plan for Warrior Fitness and decided that maybe it was time to take a different path and dissolve Warrior Fitness in favor of something more suited to those changes…

Was This The End?

This-Is-The-End-poster

NOPE.

I couldn’t do it. :)

As you are all well aware, we currently live in extremely trying and more dangerous times. As a friend recently reminded me in an email conversation, we need MORE warriors going forward, not less.

Therefore 2016 will not be the end of Warrior Fitness, but a new beginning…

A start to something much broader in scope, more comprehensive, and much, much more life changing and affirming – Warrior Fitness Reborn “Training for the Total Human”

As I mentioned above, my mission has changed. Back in 2008 when all this first started my only goal was to improve the functional ability and performance of myself as a martial artist and that of my students through specific physical preparedness training, IE – Warrior Fitness. This I accomplished for martial artists all across the world through my programs such as Martial Power, Ninja Missions, and many others. I began to integrate my internal power training practices with strength training in 2015 through my Integrated Strength Program. By all accounts I had accomplished what I set out to do, very successfully I might add, but to me there was still something missing.

I alluded to it this past summer when I opened up and talked about why I got started down the road as a fitness professional. You can watch it below in my origin story.

My Origin Story

My mission has become broader, and yet more clearly defined. My current work has taken on a more important, more meaningful quality – not that teaching someone how to be a bad-ass, powerhouse of a martial artist isn’t meaningful anymore, it most definitely is!! :)

I will layout the new mission of Warrior Fitness Reborn in full detail in future articles, but for now some of it can be inferred from the short piece below on Physical Confidence.

Physical Confidence

There is a certain kind of confidence that comes from being strong. I call it physical confidence.

It’s different than the confidence one feels by being smart, or being good at a job, or being in a secure, loving relationship.

With physical confidence you stand straighter and walk taller. Your head is up and scanning the horizon rather than being bowed and staring at the floor. You look people in the eye and with a nod, acknowledge them and let them know you respect them.

There’s a certain presence, a kind of knowing awareness, about a person with physical confidence. People somehow know that if the proverbial sh*t ever hit the fan while you were there, you would take care of it.

Strength holds us together. Strength is a quiet preparedness wielded by those who watch over and protect others. Strength and capability together create physical confidence. One does not come without the other.

And, how do we instill that Physical Confidence, you ask… ?

Warrior Fitness Coaching Programs

Men, if you picked up your FREE copy of my book, Dad Strength, you know that men, in general, are getting weaker. We can counteract that. I can fix it. YOU can become the strong, Alpha-Male warrior you were always meant to be. You CAN get stronger every day. Find out if you are a good fit for my NEW Warrior Fitness Coaching Program for Men <<===

Women, you also must be strong which is why I have also put together a Woman Warrior Transformation Program <<====

Want to talk? Sign up HERE for a free 10-minute Turbo Coaching Call to discuss your goals and how I can help you become the strongest, most capable version of yourself.

This REALLY Bothers Me

Happy New Year, Warriors!

I usually avoid going to shopping malls at all costs. Or, if I have to go to a particular store I’m usually in and out as fast as possible. However, this past Saturday night found me walking around a local mall with my Dad waiting for my Mom and youngest daughter to get out of a movie.

While we walked around and discussed our mutual disdain for shopping – hey, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! – I people watched.

As usual when I people watch the general population, I got upset. Seeing people from all ages and walks of life so totally out of shape makes me sad. It used to make me angry – I got over that. (progress, right?) Now it makes me sad.

obese-4

There is absolutely no reason that people who are otherwise intelligent, successful, knowledgeable, loving, and driven in ALL other aspects of their lives should be so completely neglectful of arguable the most important aspect of all, their health & fitness.

Now as we begin this new year of 2016 with a clean slate, isn’t it time to take care of the one thing that should matter the most? YOU!

How can you take care of others when you allow your own body to break down? How can you be the most effective parent, student, worker, teacher, whatever when you lack the energy and strength???

You now have less than 15 hours to take advantage of my 50% New Year’s Sale on myWarrior Transformation Program <<========

I have done ALL the programming for you. I will hand you a step-by-step plan to become the most capable, strongest version of yourself in 2016. I will coach you and guide you every step of the way. But YOU must take the first step and begin it HERE.

The clock is running down on this offer, my friends. Get on it. You will NOT regret it.

Stronger Every Day!

Psychological Barriers to STRENGTH

You are already strong enough to lift a car. Did you know that? It’s true.

So why can’t you access that strength all the time?

The reason is that your nervous system limits the amount of strength you can use in every day life. If you were truly able to access 100% of the muscular strength you are capable of your muscles would literally tear themselves from attachment points and break bones.  Having a limit in this case is a good thing!

However, the limits are set startlingly low. Most people only have access to about 20-30% of their full potential, even when trying their hardest.

barriers

So how do you access more strength?

Well, there are many different methods to do it. Today, we will cover just one – getting over FEAR.

F.E.A.R can be rewritten as an acronym – False Evidence Appearing Real.

This was the case for one of my clients whenever he went for a max effort lift on his bench press. He was only able to bench 125 lbs even though I knew he was much, much stronger and more capable!

After discussing it with him, he told me that even though he knew I was standing right behind him spotting him every rep, he was still afraid of getting stuck under the bar. This False Evidence Appearing Real was limiting his strength. Because he was afraid, his nervous system was literally slamming on the breaks and cutting his strength potential way back.

So how did we fix it?

I set up the bench in the squat rack and set the pins right over his chest. Now there was absolutely no possibility of him getting stuck under the bar.

So what happened?

With the FEAR gone, he was able to access much more of his strength potential and hit 165 lbs for 2 reps – a 40 lbs increase!!!

Oh, and by the way, he is in his early 70’s!!  So again, what is YOUR excuse?

Ready to reach YOUR full potential? <<=====

What are you waiting for?

Lacking Workout Motivation? Try This!

You know you should workout on a consistent basis, but sometimes the motivation just isn’t there. Here’s a quick primer on how to set yourself up for success.

1)  Have a Goal.
2) Follow a Program. It’s much easier to do the work if you know in advance exactly what you are supposed to be doing for each training session and how it is progressing you towards your main goal.  Remember – random exercise leads to random results!
3) Make Training Your Default Status.  Read THIS if you want to know whether or not to train when sick or injured.
4) Commit to it. Decide beforehand that you ARE going to train. There is no “maybe”…
5) Have a Pre-Workout Ritual. This will get you in state.

no_motivation

To give you an idea of what a pre-workout ritual looks like here’s mine.  Feel free to model or copy it outright, whatever works to get you training!!

My Pre-Workout Ritual

1) Get into my workout shorts and t-shirt (yes, I wash them…)

2) Take Hercules Pre-Workout Formula. The niacin delivery vehicle makes sure you feel the rush of the powerful herbs!
3) Crank up workout music. Currently my music anchor is Sabaton’s Carolus Rex album.

4) Stand tall, breathe deep, walk powerfully. Visualize yourself performing the workout. This, along with the Hercules Formula, gets my energy building and heart pumping.

5) Perform my general movement preparation, IE – joint mobility work and resistance band exercises.

6) DO THE WORK!!

I hope this is helpful.  Please drop a comment and let me know if you have any questions!

Who is the Strongest of ALL?

I just finished reading a play with my 7 year old daughter called, Who is the Strongest? The play is about a little red ant who sets out on an adventure to find out who is the strongest of them all.  On his way he encounters different animals and forces of nature whom he thinks are strong, but each one tells him about another who is stronger.

For example fire tells him that water is stronger because water can extinguish him. But then water tells him the sun is stronger because the sun can dry it up.  The sun the proceeds to tell him that wind is stronger because it can blow clouds in front of it to prevent it from shining… and on and on…

In the end he comes to a huge rock cliff face that he finally thinks is the strongest of all, but the rock tells him that little red ants live inside of it and day by day burrow deeper carrying away pieces of the rock itself….

ant-strong-man_2160873k

The moral of the story?

It’s all about how you view yourself in your own mind.  Mindset can be an extremely powerful positive force in your life or an extremely powerful negative one.  You become what you think about most of the time.  If you think you are weak, you will be.  So think that you are strong and you will be – believe that you have no limits!

Just because you are an ant doesn’t mean you cannot possess super human strength!

You can use the power of nature to embody the strength of an ant as well HERE  <<===

Kettlebells, The Walking Dead, & Surviving the Apocalypse

There you are, minding your own business when suddenly the world starts ending all around you…

Shit, you think. Day = ruined!

What happens?

Do you panic?

Run around screaming?

Look for some place to hide?

Hope someone else will come and save you?

Do you just give up and die?

Or, like Rick waking up from a coma in Season 1 of The Walking Dead, do you get your shit together, get professional, go get your family, and become a leader?

walking-dead

What determines whether or not you survive the Zombie Apocalypse, or any other type of apocalypse for that matter?

To me, it comes down to 3 things.

  1. Training/Preparedness
  2. Mental Toughness
  3. Luck

Training/Preparedness

Are you strong? And not just one rep max strong – that won’t serve you too well when a horde of zombies are chasing you and you need to carry your kid or spouse, or best friend to safety.

Do you have strength endurance? Do you possess a high level of work capacity? Are you able to perform at peak levels for an extended period of time?

Do you have usable, functional strength? Strength that integrates the entire body and allows for strong, 3 dimensional movement across all planes and throughout all ranges of motion? Or do you train in isolation?

If I were forced to pick just one tool that would develop all these qualities (and more!), it would be the kettlebell. Why? Because the kettlebell is an extremely versatile tool that builds raw, rugged, all-around enduring strength. And it’s also a hellova lotta fun to train with at the same time!

 

As far as preparedness goes, that is a topic for someone with a survival blog. I’d go get me a crossbow though – just sayin! :)

Mental Toughness

Mental toughness, simply put, is the resistance to failure. It a series of qualities that allows you to persevere through adversity without giving up. When the world is ending and people are turning into flesh-eating zombies at an alarming rate all the while trying to kill you, this is an extremely necessary quality to possess!

Luckily, mental toughness is a quality you can develop with the right training.

Doing feats of strength endurance like high rep kettlebell swings or snatches or long distance heavy farmer walks interspersed with high rep body weight exercises or other kettlebell work will build that mental fortitude. Pushing the threshold of the body requires pushing the mind since the mind navigates the body.

One way to train for this is to put yourself through a severe challenge test of strength endurance/work capacity once a month or at least once a quarter. Pick a goal and just go with everything you’ve got! At the end you will be spent physically, but will feel great about all that you’ve accomplished!

severe

 

Luck

Sometimes just being in the right place at the right time is a factor in survival as well.  Let’s face it, not everyone who is the most prepared survives all the time. Usually, in war it’s the bravest warriors who die first since they are at the front!

Although, I do think that being physically strong, mentally tough, and having a positive mental attitude that things will work out in your favor goes a long way in creating your own luck.

And having a crossbow won’t hurt either!

Bottom-up2

Balance Training Drills

Balance is an essential quality for the warrior to develop.  It directly affects our ability to move with grace, coordination, agility, and power.  Yet direct balance training exercises seem to be a neglected area in many people’s training programs unless they are recovering from an injury or trying to fix a specific weakness.  Personally, I think they should be an integral part of training.

The following is an introduction to the balance drills I use to train myself as well as my martial arts students and fitness clients.  I hope you find them as useful as we do.

There are 3 Systems the Body Uses to Orient Itself in Space

1. Visual – Relying on sight is the second fastest and most efficient mechanism in our balance (unless we are in a dark room!).  Most people tend to rely on visual cues for balance, to the detriment of the other 2 systems.  The visual system relies on a physiological reflex called the Ocular Gyro Cephalic reflex which creates tension chains that reflexively cause the body to orient toward whatever the eyes see.

Balance Drill Leg back

2. Vestibular – This system relies on the fluid within the ears to sense balance.  As we move, the fluid sloshes around.  If we are not used to a particular pattern of movement, we may begin to feel dizzy. The brain works to process this information and integrate it with the information coming in from both the visual and proprioception systems.

Balance Drill Leg back hold

3. Proprioception – This our sense of position and movement of the limbs and the sense of muscular tension.  Proprioception utilizes information derived from sensory receptors in our muscles, tendons, and joints to inform us of changes in movement, position, and tension.  Proprioception is plugged directly into our nervous systems making it possibly the fastest and most efficient mechanism for balance, as long as we train it.

Balance Drill Tree

The balance drills shown in the video below will allow you to train all 3 systems concurrently.

For more information on balance and proprioception training, check out my book Warrior Fitness: Conditioning for Martial Art.

WFBookCover2

 

How to Train for Chaos without Making Training Chaotic

This article was originally written for my friend Craig Gray’s blog, The Ocean & The Wave.  Make sure to check out his blog and give him some love!

The current rage in conditioning training, especially when talking about combat conditioning, is to completely change up the workout for each and every session. This has the advantage of keeping the training fresh and throwing the body into chaos each time so it never knows what hit it. The hardcore advocates of this type of conditioning stress that this environment will create a very broad and general fitness that prepares the trainee for almost every physical contingency, both known and unknowable. This enables one to prepare for the chaos and uncertainty of combat by training in an uncertain and chaotic environment.

samurai

Seems to make a lot of sense on the surface, right?

However, one of the problems resident with this type of training is that random training yields random results. It’s difficult to measure progress when the parameters are constantly shifting.

In order for the body to produce an adaptation for improved performance in life, sport, or martial art, we must apply specific stimulus as per the SAID Principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand). This basically means that the body adapts with a specific type of fitness to any demand which is imposed on it. When the same exercise is performed for too long, the body adapts to the stresses of each set and the adaptations or returns get smaller and smaller. Once it has adapted to the stress, then it’s time to change or increase the stress or else we fall into that trap of diminishing returns.

Usually though it takes the body a period of 4-to-6 weeks to adapt and then it is advisable to begin changing exercises. This does not mean that we need to completely throw away everything we have been doing; far from it. An exercise or drill can be changed by increasing intensity, increasing volume, decreasing rest periods, or increasing complexity or sophistication.

What this suggests is that a properly organized training program with incremental progression of increasing complexity and sophistication may actually prepare the body better than a set of random skills strewn together with a nebulous outcome in mind.

Yet we still crave the chaos, right?

So why not have it both ways?

Let’s program chaos into our training to instill the element of surprise and shock to the body. But, and this is key, we will ONLY do it once a week. This is enough to add the benefits of chaos training without suffering the negative aspects. The rest of the time you must follow a properly programmed training regimen to ensure all the multifaceted fitness qualities required to keep you strong, agile, mobile, and hostile are being met.

How do we program the chaos?

One of my favorite ways to do this is by picking 5-6 different exercises and setting an interval timer for 5 rounds of 3 to 5 minutes (depending on your fitness level). Instead of setting a rep scheme, move from one exercise to the next in any order you like performing as many or as little reps of each exercise.

If you need active recovery during the round or simply can’t figure out what to do for a few seconds – do Jumping Jacks. The only caveat is that you must not stop for the duration of the round. Take a 1 minute break between rounds to recover your breathing, then go again.

Here’s an example Chaos Training Workout:

1. Kettlebell Swings or Snatches
2. Jab/Cross Combo on Wave Bag
3. Sit Thrus
4. Med Ball Slams
5. Sandbag Burpees

Men, if you picked up your FREE copy of my book, Dad Strength, you know that men, in general, are getting weaker. We can counteract that. I can fix it. YOU can become the strong, Alpha-Male warrior you were always meant to be. You CAN get stronger every day.

Find out if you are a good fit for my NEW Warrior Fitness Coaching Program for Men <<===

Women, you also must be strong which is why I have also put together a Woman Warrior Transformation Program<<====

Want to talk? Sign up HERE for a free 10-minute Turbo Coaching Call to discuss your goals and how I can help you become the strongest, most capable version of yourself.