Category Archives: Rants and Raves

We’re Working Out! with Jack Arnow

My brother Danny and I recently had the pleasure of meeting and training with legendary bodyweight strongman (and fellow Brooklyn native) Jack Arnow.

A training partner of Jasper Benincasa, who’s considered by many to be the strongest pull-up bar athlete of all time, Jack is well-known for his accomplishments in the world of one-arm chin-ups.

Jack was actually one of the first people to ever write about the subject; his article on one arm chin-up training predates my book Raising The Bar by several years.

In his prime, Jack was known to perform a one arm chin-up while holding a 35 lb. weight. Now, at age 70, he’s still stronger than 99% of guys, regardless of age.

Watch the video below for more:

April 2013 Update

In anticipation of the paperback release of my new book, Pushing The Limits! – Total Body Strength With No Equipment, I’ve been making the rounds on the internet fitness scene.

Since my last update, I’ve written new articles for Bodybuilding.com as well as T-Nation, plus I designed a series of workout routines for followers of Tribesports.

There’s also this piece I wrote for the PCC blog about my experiences in the fitness industry.

If that’s not enough, I’m the featured coach this month on Breaking Muscle. Look for lots of content over there from me during the next few weeks.

We’re Work(shop)ing Out!
The inaugural PCC workshop this June has sold out and a second PCC in St. Paul has been confirmed for the weekend of August 23-25. Additional PCC workshops in other cities will be announced in the weeks and months to come.

Danny and I are also leading a couple of smaller, non-certification workshops on the East Coast this month. We’ll be at Nimble Fitness in NYC on April 14 and we’ll be in Milford, Connecticut for two workshops on April 28th. There are still spots open for these workshops.

I’ll also be hosting a book release party for Pushing The Limits! on April 26th in NYC.
Click here for all the details.

Plus I’ve got two new videos for you to check out!

Al Kavadlo – March 2013 Update

There’s been a ton of exciting stuff going on lately!

My new book, Pushing The Limits! Total Body Strength With No Equipment was released last month on ebook and has already started generating a buzz.

The paperback is officially set for release on Friday, April 26. Nimble Fitness will be hosting a book signing/release party that night and you are all invited to attend!

Speaking of Nimble Fitness, my brother Danny and I will be leading a one-day bodyweight strength training workshop at Nimble this April. (Click the link to find out more or register.)

I’ve also been featured on a bunch of other websites recently! Highlights include this guest post I wrote for Mark’s Daily Apple, this interview I did with Gold Medal Bodies and a great review of my Raising The Bar DVD on Bodybuilding.com.

If that’s not enough, I’ve got two new video clips to share. This first one was shot the day after NYC got hit by winter storm Nemo. There’s no workout like a snow workout!

This next one shows you what happens when you record super-slow calisthenics and then play it back in fast forward. We’re working out…in hyper-speed!

Pushing The Limits! Ebook

Pushing The Limits! – Total Body Strength With No Equipment is now available in ebook format! (Paperback coming in April.)

While my last book, Raising The Bar covers all the essential bodyweight exercises that require a pull-up bar, my new book focuses on my favorite bodyweight exercises that can be done with no equipment at all.

Pushing The Limits! covers dozens of types of push-ups and squats, including one arm push-ups and one-legged squats. The book also goes over back bridges, headstands, handstands and other inversions.

Click here for more information or to purchase your copy of Pushing The Limits!

Here’s what people are saying about the book:

When people ask me about bodyweight strength training, I point them to Al Kavadlo. Pushing the Limits! is a must-have for bodyweight training enthusiasts or anyone looking to build strength without lifting weights. Al lays out dozens of effective exercises for every fitness level, while making the journey fun and encouraging.”

Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint

“Whether you are an advanced bodyweight conditioning athlete or a wet behind the ears newbie, Al’s Pushing the Limits! has something for you. Easy to follow progressions allow you to master advanced push up, squat and bridging variations. All you need is the will to do it! No gym required.”

Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Solution

“In this awesome new book, Al only asks that you find ONE piece of equipment—your body! Stoic, Spartan, perfection…this book is bodyweight strength training for the ultimate purist!”

Paul Wade, author of Convict Conditioning

“This is the book I wish I had when I first started working out. Knowing Al’s secrets and various progressions would have saved me years of wasted time, frustration and injuries. The variations of The Big Three and progressions Al lays out will keep you busy for years.”

Jason Ferruggia, author of Renegade Muscle

“I LOVE this freaking Book!!! I will use it with my athletes, with the adults I train, in my own training and with my kids. This stuff reminds me of the old school Strength & Health Magazine, I’m fired UP!”

Zach Even-Esh, author of The Bodyweight Bodybuilding Training System

“Al is a master at developing the foundations of true strength through the use of the most complex, sophisticated and powerful training tool ever devised – the human body. Pushing The Limits! is a practical and entertaining book that describes ancient methods for building futuristic strength.”

Elliott Hulse, creator of The Grow Stronger Method


Click here for more information or to purchase your copy of Pushing The Limits!

Al Kavadlo – Yearly Recap 2012

Without a doubt, 2012 has been the biggest year of my career so far!

Between the release of my second book, Raising The Bar, and the companion DVD, I’ve accomplished things this year I once would’ve thought impossible.

(Speaking of the DVD, take a look at begin2dig.com for a very thorough review, including some exclusive screenshots. There’s also this audio interview I recently did on PhysicalLiving.com.)

This website has grown a lot in the last year as well, receiving over a million page views in 2012. We’ve also added a message board forum and set up an official store to make it simpler to order my products. Plus the site got an awesome makeover courtesy of Chris James from MindTattoos.com.

I also achieved a personal goal of completing my first Triathlon this past July!

More To Come
From the looks of it, things ain’t slowing down in 2013. I’ve just about finished the manuscript for my next book, Pushing The Limits! – Total Body Strength With No Equipment, and I’m now in the process of making my final photo selections for the book. Once that is done, I will begin working with Dragon Door on designing the layout. It’s looking good for a spring release, with the possibility of the ebook version being available this winter.

The big news, however, is the upcoming Progressive Calisthenics Certification workshops, the first of which will take place June 7-9 in St. Paul, MN. If you’ve ever wanted to train with me in person, this is your chance. Spots are already filling up, so sign up now before it’s too late!

Speaking of progressive calisthenics, here’s the second installment in my video series:

Raising The Bar DVD

I’m very excited to announce the release of my new Raising The Bar DVD!

The DVD features all the essential exercises from my book Raising The Bar as well as some new variations.

In addition to detailed demonstrations and instructions, the DVD also includes new musical montages featuring the Kavadlo brothers signature brand of freestyle calisthenics.

The DVD is available through Dragon Door Publications as well as in the new Al Kavadlo store. (Check out the new shirts in the store too!)

Here’s what people are saying about the DVD:

“With Raising The Bar, Al Kavadlo has put forth the perfect primal pull-up program. Al’s progressions and demonstrations make even the most challenging exercises attainable. Anyone who is serious about pull-ups should get this DVD.”

– Mark Sisson, Author of The Primal Blueprint

“This DVD is the ultimate training course on bar athletics, masterminded and presented by the man who—for my two cent’s worth—is the greatest calisthenics coach alive today. Raising the Bar is motivational and looks cool as hell, but more important than that, it’s an incredible source of instruction.”

– Paul Wade, Author of Convict Conditioning

“Al Kavadlo consistently puts out the best info on calisthenics and bodyweight training. The book Raising the Bar is a killer introduction into the world of the Bar Athlete. Now with the release of the accompanying DVD, Al has truly raised the bar to a whole new level. The DVD combines solid info along with fun and entertainment, as only Al can.”

– Mike Fitch, Founder of Global Bodyweight Training

“Al’s unique coaching style really shines through on the Raising the Bar DVD. The clear cut progressions are fantastic for both men and women at all levels—from working towards a first pull up, to mind-bogglingly difficult muscle-up variations. There is absolutely something for everyone on this DVD.”

– Adrienne Harvey, Owner of Girya Girl Fitness

Watch the sneak preview of the DVD below and click the link to get your copy:

Minimalist Workout

A lot has been going on since my last update!

First off, I’ve been getting tons of messages from people who want to know if I’m okay in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Thankfully, I’m one of the lucky ones who didn’t get hit hard. The worst I had to deal with was a few days without electricity.

Times like these help me keep perspective and it’s super flattering to know how much you guys care about me. Thank you to everyone who took the time to write me to ask how things were going over here.

A Forum For ‘Em
Though I haven’t been updating my blog as often as I used to, I recently added a message board forum to this site so you guys can publicly post questions for me (and each other). It’s off to a good start and I expect to see the community grow over time. If you’ve ever wanted to ask me a question about anything, go sign up for an account and start posting!

Book It
For the last few months I’ve been hard at work on my next book, tentatively titled Pushing The Limits! – Total Body Strength With No Equipment. I’ve also begun the process of assembling photos for the book. (I’m giving people a sneak peek at of a few photos in the forum.) The book will be released in the spring of 2013.

Animal or Minimal
Of course, my quest towards mastering my bodyweight continues unabated. Though most gyms were closed due to the storm last week, it didn’t impede my workouts at all.

While I’m still getting my pull-ups and dips in wherever I can, I’m taking my minimalist approach to training even further by exercising primarily (and primally) with nothing but the ground beneath my feet.

Watch the clip below to see some highlights from one of my recent no-equipment workouts:

Al Kavadlo Fall 2012 Update

I’m excited to announce that the DVD companion to my book Raising The Bar is finished and will be available this November.

The DVD will include all the most important exercises and progressions from the book, plus a few new moves and new trainer tips.

Seeing the exercises performed in real time will be helpful for a lot of people, plus there are several entertaining musical interludes!

It’s almost like an hour long version of these two youtube videos, but better and shot in high definition.

Here’s what people are saying about the DVD:

“This DVD is the ultimate training course on bar athletics, masterminded and presented by the man who—for my two cent’s worth—is the greatest calisthenics coach alive today. Raising the Bar is motivational and looks cool as hell, but more important than that, it’s an incredible source of instruction.”

Paul Wade, Author of Convict Conditioning

“Al Kavadlo consistently puts out the best info on calisthenics and bodyweight training. The book Raising the Bar is a killer introduction into the world of the Bar Athlete. Now with the release of the accompanying DVD, Al has truly raised the bar to a whole new level. The DVD combines solid info along with fun and entertainment, as only Al can.”

Mike Fitch, Founder of Global Bodyweight Training

“Al’s unique coaching style really shines through on the Raising the Bar DVD. The clear cut progressions are fantastic for both men and women at all levels—from working towards a first pull up, to mind-bogglingly difficult muscle-up variations. There is absolutely something for everyone on this DVD.”

Adrienne Harvey, Owner of Girya Girl Fitness

“With Raising The Bar, Al Kavadlo has put forth the perfect primal pull-up program. Al’s progressions and demonstrations make even the most challenging exercises attainable. Anyone who is serious about pull-ups should get this DVD.”

Mark Sisson, Author of The Primal Blueprint

We’re Working Out!
I’m also excited to announce that I will be leading a bodyweight strength workshop at Q Crossfit in Randolph, NJ on Jan 12, 2013.

The workshop will cover the muscle-up, elbow lever, pistol squat, human flag and more.

Space is limited so reserve your spot asap!

Time Flies
October 2012 marks three years since I started this blog. In that time, I’ve written over 250 posts, had over 300,000 unique visitors and reached over 2,000,000 total views on Youtube.

I’ve gone from being a successful local personal trainer who started a blog in his free time, to a full-time writer/blogger/trainer with followers in dozens of countries. I’ve gotten messages from people all over the world who I’ve inspired to work out and empowered to improve their lives. It is truly a blessing to connect with so many people in such a positive way.

In the last three years, I’ve not only grown as a coach and a writer, but also as a student of movement.

Thanks for stopping by, commenting and showing your support!

We’re Working Out!
Al

Al Kavadlo Summer 2012 Update

It’s hard to believe 2012 is more than halfway over already. But hey, time flies when you’re working out!

This has been a busy year for me and I’ve got a lot to keep myself occupied throughout the foreseeable future. In addition to my personal training clients and my own personal training, I have a couple major projects in the works.

RTB DVD!
Production has already begun on the companion DVD to my recent book, Raising The Bar, and I couldn’t be happier with how things are coming together. The DVD will feature my brother Danny and me demonstrating all the essential moves from the book, as well as some exercises that will be exclusive to the DVD. In addition to writing and starring in the DVD, I’m also the director and editor, so I’ve got a lot of work to do. But it’s fun work, kinda like pull-ups.

Pushing The Limits!
I’ve begun writing a new book, tentatively titled, Pushing The Limits! Total Body Strength With No Equipment. Where Raising The Bar is all about exercises that can be done on a pull-up bar, Pushing The Limits! will focus on floor exercises that require no equipment at all. Push-ups, squats and inversions will be the three main types of exercises discussed.

The DVD will likely be released this fall, with the new book coming Spring 2013. Both products will be distributed by Dragon Door Publications. As soon as I have more information, I will share it here.

In the meantime, check out this video of one of my recent no-equipment training sessions:

Death To Cardio

So long, Stairmaster!

After racing the NYC Triathlon last week, I’ve decided that I’m never doing cardio again.

In fact, I actually stopped doing cardio workouts a long time ago.

You may have seen me running, swimming and biking in this recent video clip, but that wasn’t cardio training – it was skill practice.

In the context of my overall training schedule, I don’t even see the race itself as cardio. It was a one-off endurance challenge, and really more mental than physical.

Trading Cardio
The difference between seeing your workout as “cardio” vs. seeing it as “practice” may be a subtle distinction, but I believe it is an extremely important one. People who “do cardio” tend to have one objective in mind: weight loss. As I’ve discussed before, exercise alone is not a very effective way to lose weight (you have to eat less crap in order to do that!), but the mindset you bring to any activity can greatly impact your experience.

Swimming for sure!

Rather than forcing yourself to simulate movement on a piece of machinery for a set amount of time, a better way to approach your training might be to work on skill improvement. While there are certainly benefits to “gym cardio” (improved circulation, increased cardiac output, higher oxygen uptake/utilization efficiency), part of what makes exercise worth doing is the activity itself. I personally never met anyone who genuinely enjoys an hour alone on the stationary bike, but it’s fun and exciting to do something like a triathlon – and all of us have that potential.

Skill Power
You can become a perfectly good runner without ever worrying about how many calories you burned, what your target heart rate is or even knowing exactly how much distance you’ve covered. And you’ll probably enjoy the process a whole lot more without wasting mental space on trivialities. Treat your workout as skill practice and the shift in perspective turns any health benefits into an added bonus. You might even forget you’re working out and start having some old-fashioned fun!

Don’t get me wrong – exercise isn’t always gummy bears and double rainbows, but it shouldn’t be torturous either. There are plenty of times when I feel challenged during a workout, but pushing through those uncomfortable moments leads to a better understanding of my body – as well as personal growth.

I firmly believe that any “fit” person ought to be able to run a few miles or swim to shore should they find themselves in such a predicament (in addition to being able to do some pull-ups, of course!). Besides, if you focus on improving at physical skills, you’re inevitably going to get in better shape along the way. Having a good body is nice, but being physically capable is empowering.

2012 NYC Triathlon Race Report

Ever since running the NYC Marathon back in 2009, racing the NYC Triathlon has been next on my fitness bucket-list. Well after last Sunday, I can now scratch that one off too!

The tri was a great experience, and finishing is an accomplishment that I will be proud of for the rest of my life. However, I went through many different feelings and emotions throughout the race. As the famous Dickens quote goes, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

The Swim
The hardest part of the whole race was dealing with the anxiety in the morning. From the moment I woke up I had butterflies in my stomach; I didn’t really settle into my groove until a few minutes after I got in the water. As someone who never really swam as a kid, jumping feet first into the Hudson was the part that I was most anxious about. (Only the pros dive in head first, thankfully!) Once I settled in, however, the swim went very well.

Though it has a bad reputation, the water in the Hudson was no more disgusting than the water at Coney Island where I did most of my open-water triathlon training. There was some seaweed to contend with and I bumped into a log once, but it was pretty minor compared to some of the horror stories I’ve heard from other triathletes (though I did catch an elbow in the face near the start of the swim).

The downstream current in the Hudson definitely helped with my time, though I found myself getting pulled to the left as well. I spent a good deal of the swim trying to steer myself back to the middle. Though I couldn’t see or hear much in the water, I was reminded very loudly by some of the crew who were following along in canoes to “STAY TO THE RIGHT!”

As the visibility in the water was virtually nonexistent, I didn’t realize I was close to the end until I was within about 100 meters. Needless to say, I was quite pleased to see it when I did!

The Bike
After the swim there’s a barefoot run (on pavement!) into the transition area, which is just a field with a bunch of bike racks on it. I took my time in the first transition since I wanted to carefully remove my wetsuit, clean my feet, have a snack, drink some water, pee, etc. I also wanted to check that all my things were okay (they were). Since getting a good night’s sleep was a priority for me, I had left all my stuff there the night before. (Many participants forgo some sleep to bring their gear to the transition the morning of the race).

The bike ride was longer and more challenging than I had anticipated. Between the July heat and the steep hills, the ride dragged on for what seemed like an eternity. Since I was in one of the later start waves, the pack had thinned out quite a bit and there weren’t many other cyclists around. There were times when I didn’t see anyone else on the road at all. As I was alone for much of the ride, it didn’t feel like much of a “race” at all – I took it slow on most of the hills and eventually I made it to the end.

The Run
Once the bike ride was over, there was a huge sense of relief. So many things are out of your control during the swim and the bike (someone crashing into you, a flat tire, etc), but once I was onto the run, I knew it was all up to me. Nothing could take it away at that point.

I took the first couple of miles slow and easy and eventually started to find my legs in mile three. I kept it at a steady pace, splashing cups of water on my face every time I passed the aid tables (I managed to get some water down my throat as well.) The last mile of the run I kicked it up a notch, triumphantly crossing the finish line with a net time of 3:36:13.

After the race, I picked up my bike from the transition area and rode five more miles back to my apartment, rewarding myself with one of my favorite indulgences: pizza!

I didn’t look at a clock once during the race, which I think helped me pace myself and enjoy the journey without getting caught up in any of the ego stuff. I just listened to my body and tried to stay at a moderate level of exertion for most of the race. The only time I turned up the juice was near the end of the run.

In retrospect, I know I could have done the whole thing faster if I pushed a bit harder, but I have no regrets about my performance. With all the things that could potentially go wrong during a triathlon, I am just glad I made it across the finish line in one piece.



Results:

Swim: 28:22

T1: 13:01

Bike: 1:49:46

T2: 3:34

Run: 1:01:31

Total: 3:36:13

Watch the video below to see a photo montage of pictures from the event.
(Photos by Colleen Leung.)

Training For The NYC Triathlon

Like most fitness enthusiasts, I’m always in search of a physical challenge. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone has allowed me to experience a lot of personal growth. Besides, if you only do things that you’re good at, you probably won’t get to do that many different things.

Though I’m known primarily for practicing bodyweight strength training, I’ve also been a recreational runner for several years, having completed multiple races such as the Brooklyn Half Marathon and the NYC Marathon. In fact, I’ve often said that running is the most basic form of bodyweight training in existence. It’s an essential life skill that any fit person should be capable of doing. The same can be said for swimming and cycling. With that in mind, I’ll be participating in my first triathlon this summer. The NYC Triathlon is less than two weeks away and I am ready to rock!

Try to Tri
Triathlon training can be very demanding both time-wise as well as logistically. Arranging to train in three different modalities that all require unique parameters and equipment is overwhelming on it’s own, to say nothing of actually doing the workouts.

Add to that my continued dedication to my strength training during all this and we’re talking about a huge time commitment. Good thing I love working out!

Sink or Swim
Like most triathlon first-timers, the swim was the part I needed to work on most, so I’ve practiced swimming at least three times a week since I got accepted into the race last fall. Nine months ago I could barely swim 100 meters in a pool without a break; in less than two weeks I’m going to attempt to swim almost a mile in the Hudson River.

The rest of the race consists of a 25 mile bike ride, followed by a 6.2 mile run. While neither of those things is too daunting on their own, doing them back-to-back right after the swim is going to be a serious challenge. Though I’ve been running and cycling on and off for years, I’ve recently increased my milage in preparation for this race. My cardiovascular endurance feels solid and my legs are ready to go.

Strength and Conditioning
Of course I’ve also been doing strength work 3-5 times a week. But by treating those workouts strictly as skill practice (low reps, lots of breaks and only working on one or two things at a time), I’ve managed to maintain most of my strength and even improve at a few things like lever holds and hand balancing.

I’ve become a much better swimmer since beginning my triathlon training, and my running and cycling have felt as natural and fluid as ever. If you define physical fitness as being fit to do various physical things, then I am the fittest I’ve ever been. I’m not looking to set any speed records on this race – just finishing will be enough satisfaction. I’ve dedicated my career to calisthenics and bodyweight strength training, the triathlon is something I’m doing just for fun.

Watch the video below to see some highlights from my triathlon training:

If you’re interested in to getting a pair of running sandals like the ones I’m wearing in the video, check out Invisible Shoes.

Raising The Bar Book Release Party

I recently celebrated the official release of my new book, Raising The Bar: The Definitive Guide to Pull-up Bar Calisthenics. The festivities took place at Nimble Fitness in New York City.

After putting so much work into this project, it was great to get to celebrate the occasion with my family, friends, co-workers, clients and fans.

Throughout the night, lots of people came out to show support and purchase signed copies of the book. And of course with a pull-up bar on the premises, some of us just couldn’t resist getting in a few reps.

Watch the video below for more and check out the rest of the photos on Facebook:

Raising The Bar on Paperback!

I’m excited to announce that my new book Raising The Bar is now available on paperback!

The book release party is still scheduled for June 1, but due to popular demand, Dragon Door has decided to make the book available sooner. They are also offering a discount to anyone who orders the book before the end of the month!

Raising The Bar goes over everything you ever wanted to know about pull-ups, dips, muscle-ups and dozens of other exercises.

Click the link for more info on Raising The Bar.

If that’s not enough for you, I’ve also got a brand new workout video featuring my brother Danny and me in a calisthenics battle.

Check it out and leave your comments below!

Al Kavadlo April 2012 Update

These last several weeks have been a whirlwind!

Between all the work that went into finishing Raising The Bar, plus keeping up with my personal training clients, I needed a vacation, so I took off to Sayulita, Mexico for a few days last week.

It was great to relax and blow off some steam, but you guys know me – I can’t help myself from getting a few reps in wherever I go!


***If you want to see more photos from my trip, check out my facebook page.***

Since returning, I’ve been busy with a few other projects. I penned a guest blog for Mark’s Daily Apple, and there’s also this interview I recently did with Mike Fitch from Global Bodyweight Training. Plus a few more things I can’t tell you about just yet…

In other exciting news, I am pleased to announce that Raising The Bar will officially be released on paperback on Friday, June 1st, 2012.

Nimble Fitness will be hosting a party to celebrate the occasion that night. All are welcome to attend!

Though the official launch will not take place until June 1, the book may actually be available a bit sooner than that. Check in with DragonDoor.com for more information as the release approaches.

Also, be sure to check out my new highlight reel video if you haven’t seen it yet:

Raising the Bar Cover

There it is, guys: the cover of my forthcoming book, Raising the Bar: The Definitive Guide to Pull-up Bar Calisthenics (click the image to enlarge it).

The release date of the book is still to be determined, but I expect it will be available in the next several weeks. I’m currently working with the guys at Dragon Door to finish up the interior design of the book. I can’t wait for you guys to see this thing! I will let you know when an exact release date is set.

In other news, my first book, We’re Working Out! A Zen Approach to Everyday Fitness is now available in Kindle format from Fitedia. You can use the drop down menu on their product page to select a variety of e-book formats.

If you want a paper copy of We’re Working Out!, I recommend you order one soon. I only have about 100 copies left in my inventory and once those sell out, the only way to get the book will be as an electronic download.

February 2012 Update

I’m excited to announce that I have finished the manuscript for my forthcoming book, Raising the Bar: The Definitive Guide to Pull-up Bar Calisthenics.

I am also excited to announce that Dragon Door (publisher of the Convict Conditioning books) is my new publisher!

Raising the Bar: The Definitive Guide to Pull-up Bar Calisthenics will tell you everything you need to know about how to train pull-ups, muscle-ups and dips, as well as dozens of other bar exercises, many of which have not been discussed here on my blog. The book will also contain over 200 brand new full color photos as well as a section on hand-balancing.

I’m now in the process of finishing the photos for the book with photographer Colleen Leung. Once that’s done we can begin the layout and design phase. If all goes as planned, the book should be available this spring. I will keep you guys posted as soon as I know more.

In the meantime, make sure you get a copy of my first book, We’re Working Out! A Zen Approach to Everyday Fitness, if you haven’t already.

Last but not least, here’s a new video with some new moves you’ve never seen from me before:

Looking Back/Looking Ahead

Between the release of Convict Conditioning 2 and my recent articles on T-Nation, traffic on this site has been at an all-time high. In fact, this whole year has been pretty amazing!

Thanks for stopping by, watching my videos and leaving so many great comments. Interacting with you guys is one of my favorite things about blogging.

Though I still feel the same about New Year’s resolutions, here’s what you can expect from me in 2012:

1. A New Book!

I’m working on a new book, entitled Raising The Bar: The Definitive Guide to Bar Calisthenics, which will be released in 2012. I will have more info about the new book soon.

2. More Articles!

While I don’t expect to be posting articles as often as I did during the first 2+ years of this blog, I will still post new articles here from time to time. Though I’ve probably got enough content to keep you occupied for a while. (I’ve even added an archive section to the sidebar so you can find old posts easily.) You can also expect to see more articles from me on Sherdog and T-Nation.

3. New Videos!

I plan to continue updating you guys with a new video at least once a month, hopefully more often. If that’s not enough for you, check out my youtube channel – I’ve got over 150 videos on there already. Also make sure to like the facebook page and follow me on twitter if you want more updates and exclusive extras.

Something Old/Something New

Speaking of videos, here is a classic clip from the early days of my blog:

And here’s a brand new one about one legged squats:

Check out these other posts about pistol squats and shrimp squats for more.

And as always, feel free to leave your comments for me below!

We're Working Out! E-book


At the suggestion of many of my fans and followers, I have finally decided to release my first book, We’re Working Out! A Zen Approach to Everyday Fitness as an e-book.

The e-book is currently available as a PDF download, with plans to have it on other formats (including a Kindle version) in early 2012.

Though the e-book can be purchased in any country, it has been “e-published” by a British company called Fitedia, so the price is listed in pounds. When you order, the cost will be converted into your currency.


Click here to download your copy now!



Here’s what people are saying about the book:

“Al Kavadlo’s We’re Working Out! A Zen Approach to Everyday Fitness is a phenomenal catalog of techniques, ideas and tactics for achieving peak physical ability. Possibly the best book on fitness ever – if you enjoyed my book, go buy his. You won’t regret it.”

Paul Wade, Author of Convict Conditioning

“The first time I met Al he challenged me to a one-arm chin-up! His enthusiasm for fitness is infectious no matter if you are just dabbling in exercise for the first time or are an Ironman World Champion.”

Karen Smyers, USA Triathlon Hall of Famer and Ironman World Champion

“Al’s approach combines effective exercises with a motivating philosophy that
helped me to pursue my fitness goals. Training with him reminded me how
rewarding working out can be.”

Emma Robinson, Two-time Olympic medalist in rowing

“Al’s approach to fitness is a breath of fresh air and a voice of reason.
This book is a necessary step in the documentation of physical culture.”

Randy Humola, Personal training legend


Click here to download the e-book now!

Bodyweight Bootcamp at Nimble Fitness

If you’re in the New York City area and you’ve wanted to train with me, now is your chance!

Beginning Saturday January 7, I’ll be bringing my bootcamp workout class to Nimble Fitness, NYC’s #1 personal training facility.

This 12-week series will meet every Saturday morning at 10am from January 7 until March 24. Enrollment will be limited to 15 people.

The Bodyweight Bootcamp workout utilizes old-school bodyweight calisthenics as well as the TRX suspension system to challenge your strength, agility and cardio endurance. This fast-paced 50 minute workout class will jump start your fitness in the new year and help you push yourself to the next level of strength and conditioning.

Cost: $200 for 12 classes

Click here to sign up!

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Convict Conditioning 2 on Paperback!

The wait is almost over! On December 8, 2011, Convict Conditioning 2 will officially be available in paperback!

This follow-up to the groundbreaking bodyweight training guide Convict Conditioning contains the most thorough write-up of how to train for the human flag ever in print. Author Paul Wade and I worked together to design the flag progressions, so for everyone whose written me asking for more advice on this move, make sure you pick up a copy!

The cover of the book features a photo of my brother Danny and I performing our infamous two man human flag and the inside of the book features over 50 additional photos of Danny and myself. In addition to the section on human flag training, there is lots of other useful info crammed into the 300+ pages of Paul Wade’s latest masterpiece.

You can pre-order your copy right now from Dragon Door and it will ship on the release date. This is a very exciting time!

Convict Conditioning 2

After much anticipation, Dragon Door Publications has finally released Convict Conditioning 2!

While the actual paper book will not be available for purchase until mid-December, you can download the E-book in PDF format right now by clicking the link above!

This follow-up to the groundbreaking bodyweight training guide Convict Conditioning contains the most thorough write-up of how to train for the human flag ever in print. Author Paul Wade and I worked together to design the flag progressions, so for everyone whose written me asking for more advice on this move, make sure you pick up a copy!

The cover of the book features a photo of my brother Danny and I performing our infamous two man human flag and the inside of the book features over 50 additional photos of Danny and myself. In addition to the section on human flag training, there is lots of other useful info crammed into the 300+ pages of Paul Wade’s latest masterpiece. Check out DragonDoor.com for more info.

Natural Movement and Functional Exercise

During a recent workout at Tompkins Square Park, I observed a father and son playing catch. The dad was around my age and the boy looked to be about three years old.

At one point the child missed the ball and the dad went to retrieve it. I watched him bend down with his back rounded, shoulders slumped and knees pitched way over his feet. (What you might call “bad form” on a squat or deadlift.)

A few minutes later, the boy missed the ball again, but this time the father let him retrieve it himself. When the tot picked up the ball, he squatted down from his hips with his chest up tall and lifted it without the slightest bend in his back – or any overt awareness of the movement pattern. It seemed to happen very naturally. He certainly had no idea what he’d just done can be difficult for many personal training clients!

Child’s Play
Lots of the exercises I teach my clients are movement patterns that children instinctively know, yet through years of neglect, the adult body has forgotten. However, with practice the movements usually return, and with them come increased strength, flexibility and of course, functionality.

Kids typically perform squats and deadlifts without anyone having to show them how. Yet when a deconditioned adult tries to perform these movements, they may feel very unnatural. We’ve spent our entire lives sitting in couches, chairs and cars, steering our bodies away from natural movement patterns. We’ve done this to the point where we’ve unlearned instinctive habits like lifting from the legs, and replaced them with lower back pain and hip ailments.

Functional Exercise
The best exercises are those which mimic natural movement patterns, like the aforementioned squat and deadlift, but sometimes functional exercises aren’t natural movement patterns. A pistol squat certainly isn’t something the body “naturally” does, but it’s a fantastic exercise nonetheless. The pistol takes a natural movement pattern and exaggerates it, making it more difficult, thereby causing the body to adapt and improve. That’s what makes it a functional exercise – it has carryover into real life scenarios. The pistol improves balance and makes each leg individually strong, so when you need to use them together, they can be an even stronger team.

Function or Fashion?
While taking a natural movement pattern and adding difficulty to it is a great way to bring a practical element to your workout, sometimes “functional training” gets so far removed from the original source that it misses the point. Standing on one foot on a bosu ball while doing an overhead dumbbell press is probably less functional than just using heavier dumbbells on stable ground.

Don’t fall for a “new exercise” just because it looks complicated or involves high-tech equipment. You don’t need anything fancy to get functionally fit. Real-life scenarios might involve standing on a shaky surface or pressing a heavy object, but they rarely involve both at the same time. A heavy standing overhead press is already a stability exercise – it demands that you use your entire body!

If you want to mix up your pressing routine, a handstand push-up might be a better choice. Admittedly, being upside-down isn’t something that will come up in day to day activity for most of us either, but the HSPU demands a high strength-to-weight ratio as well as stability and full body control. The HSPU also requires you to push yourself away from the ground, rather than pushing a weight away from your body, which will automatically engage your scapular musculature and build rotator cuff stability. You’ll be much less likely to make the mistake of pressing with your neck instead of your shoulders. Like all inversions, another benefit of the HSPU is that it can improve circulation.

Have Fun(ction) With It!
There are many ways to take natural movement patterns and increase their difficulty in a functional context. Adding weight, bringing in a plyometric element or using a stability component are some of the best ways to accomplish this. But remember, you don’t need wobble boards and other such gadgetry. Be weary of any fitness equipment that isn’t a weight or some type of pull-up apparatus. As a general rule, the more equipment that is required to perform a given exercise, the less functional it’s likely to be.

Below are some examples of functional exercises in each of the categories mentioned above:

Natural Movement + Weight
Squat
Deadlift
Clean and Press
Natural Movement + Plyometrics
Jump Lunge
Plyo Pull-up
Clap push-up
Natural Movement + Stability
Pistol Squat
Ring Muscle-up
One Arm Push-up

Final Thoughts
This list is just the tip of the iceberg! The world of functional fitness includes endless variations on these and other exercises. There might be some that are more effective for you than others. Experiment for yourself and let your body be your teacher.

Calisthenics and Body Awareness

There is a lot to love about calisthenics and bodyweight training – besides being fun and cost-effective, zero equipment workouts are also convenient for travel.

My favorite aspect of bodyweight training, however, is how it teaches you to become aware of the subtle nuances of movement.

Using machines instead of your bodyweight (or free weights) neglects this key aspect of fitness. Don’t even get me started on people who read magazines or watch television during their “workout.”

Lost in Space
I am continually amazed at how out of touch the average person is with their body. For example, when I ask a new client to try moving their shoulder blades without moving their arms, they usually cannot find the coordination to make it happen. However, these types of subtle movements can be the difference between learning to do a pull-up correctly and injuring yourself.

Proprioception refers to the sensory ability to feel different parts of the body moving through space in relation to each other. I almost always do some yoga with my strength training clients to help with their proprioceptive capabilities. Only once somebody truly learns to feel how their body moves, can they make significant gains in strength.

Clearly I’m not a fan of exercise machines, especially when compared to bodyweight strength training or weight training, but those of us who feel that way are on the fringes. Go into any commercial gym and you’re bound to see way more machines than free weights. In some of these places, you’re lucky if there is even a pull-up bar or an open space to do push-ups.

Throw out your treadmill!

Rise of the Machines
Most commercial fitness facilities are not designed to get you fit – they are designed to get your money. The fancy looking machines you see in these clubs are all hype. They don’t work as well as bodyweight exercises, but they sure do look high-tech! Sadly, that’s enough to trick the average person into shelling out lots of money for a gym membership they’ll probably never even use anyway.

This doesn’t mean you can’t sculpt nice looking muscles using machines, it’s just a ridiculous way to go about it. Selectorized fitness equipment movement patterns are not natural, and will have less carryover into real life activities. Plus you’re much less likely to understand the movement of the human body if you’re never really moving! If everything you do for your workout involves sliding a fixed piece of machinery along a predetermined path, you’re just going through the motions. You’re not truly creating movement.

Less is More
While modern exercise equipment has only existed for a few decades, human beings have achieved fantastic physiques since the days of the ancient Greeks. If you want to build a better body, the only piece of equipment you’ll need is something you already have – YOU! Stop making excuses and start working out!


For more information, check out my book, Pushing The Limits! – Total Body Strength With No Equipment.

Getting a Tattoo

Tattoos and working out have a lot in common. Both are a means of beautifying the body, both involve mental toughness (and can help develop that mindset) and both involve putting yourself through an ordeal in order to achieve a desired outcome. They can also both become a little addictive once you get going!

I got most of my tattoos during my teens and early twenties, but recently I was once again hit with the itch for some new ink. Since I already have script writing on my wrists and neck, I decided to get similar lettering on my ankles in order to tie it all together. I chose the words “Decision” and “Action” because that’s about as succinctly as I can sum up the formula for success. You have to follow through with your plans, otherwise they are totally useless. It’s good to be reminded of that, and now I will be every day.

New Tattoos and Working Out
Since this particular tattoo was relatively small, the healing process didn’t interrupt my workout regimen. However, other pieces that I’ve gotten have required a few days off from training (which is part of the reason why I’ve slowed down with acquiring new ink). Larger tattoos and those in sensitive areas (knees, ribs, elbows, etc.) tend to require the most rest time.

I get a lot of questions about my tattoos and the tattoo process, so I decided to bring my camera along with me and get a little footage during my recent appointment with one of NYC’s top ink-slingers, Alex Sherker of East Side Ink.

Watch the video below to see how it went:

Sifting Through the Madness

Grains are heart-healthy, grains are toxic; free weights are the best way to strength train, free weights lead to injuries; red meat is an excellent source of protein, red meat will give you cancer; cardio workouts are good for your heart, chronic cardio will leave you weak and tired; red wine is good for you, drinking alcohol destroys your liver; tuna is a great source of omega-3’s, tuna causes mercury poisoning.

With so much conflicting information out there about diet and exercise, how is one to know what to believe?

Belief Systems
Whether we’re aware of it or not, we all have a belief system by which we judge new information. Our foundational beliefs shape our opinions about everything we encounter in the world.

My belief system is based primarily on three things: experience, logic, and intuition.

Experience
One of my favorite Buddhist quotes says, “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who has said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own experience.” I believe this to be some of the best advice ever given. There is nothing that I trust more than my own reason and firsthand experience – and there is nothing you should trust more than yours.

Logic
If something comes up that I don’t have firsthand experience with, utilizing logic becomes the best course of action. That just means I ask myself, does this make sense? If it doesn’t make sense, there may be something that I’m overlooking, or it may simply be bullshit. That’s where intuition comes in.

Intuition
Experience means relying on your five senses; in a way, intuition is our sixth sense. Trusting your intuition means believing in yourself.

If I need to make a decision about something that I have no prior experience with and I can’t come to a logical conclusion, intuition is all I have left to go on, so I’ll do what my instincts tell me. If my instincts wind up being wrong, at least I’ll have some experience to go on the next time I’m presented with similar circumstances.

Question Everything!
There are countless “experts” out there who claim that their method is the best or the only way to achieve success. The more sure someone seems of their beliefs, the more I’m inclined to question them. I always try to challenge my own closest held beliefs as well – that’s actually how I came to my decision to stop taking exercise supplements.

Whenever someone is trying to sell you something, their motivation is suspect. That’s not to say that there aren’t honest salespeople out there, but they are few and far between. Other times, we as customers are so desperate for a solution to our woes that we will abandon our common sense and buy into an idea that we know is too good to really be true. Don’t let your emotions override your sense of reason when making important decisions.

Faulty Belief Systems
Many people base their actions on shaky foundational beliefs. My hope is to steer you away from these pitfalls.

Getting up on my high horse

Dogma
While the term is often used in religious contexts, dogma pops up everywhere from political ideologies, to science (we’ll get to that in a minute), and even in the world of health and fitness.

Don’t assume that just because the experts agree on a given concept or practice that it must be right for you. Following dogmatic principles can often mean the opposite of trusting your own experience and that can get you into trouble. Anyone who disregards their real life experience because it conflicts with “the way things are supposed to be” is making a huge mistake.

Faith
If intuition is the belief that our instincts will lead us to make good choices, faith is the opposite of that. It’s a subtle distinction, but as instinct implies that we trust in ourselves to find the answers, faith means believing that something outside of yourself will guide you in the right direction. Some people believe in destiny; I’m more interested in manifesting my own.

Science
Science isn’t always an exact science and controlled experiments aren’t real life. When things happen in the real world, there are a lot of factors involved. The more factors involved, the more difficult it becomes to determine causality. The chasm between theory and practice makes most studies about diet, exercise or pretty much anything else irrelevant. Secondhand knowledge will always be inferior to one’s own practical experience.

Furthermore, just like you have to question a salesperson based on their motivation, you must also question science when it comes from a sponsor who’s invested in a particular outcome. Even “unbiased” or “double-blind” studies can be unknowingly influenced by those involved in the experiment, and test subjects may not be accurately reporting data in the first place.

Don’t Take My Word For It
This is not a call to action to adopt my belief system, but rather an urging to question your own beliefs (and mine). When faced with information that doesn’t mesh with your own experience, logic or intuition, proceed with caution.

We're Working Out! at East River Park

Between the skyscrapers and the scaffolding, New York City also happens to have a lot of great public parks.

While Tompkins Square Park is still my number one place to practice bodyweight training, NYC’s East River Park is another great place to get a fun workout.

Not only does East River Park have pull-up and dip bars, it also has a quarter mile running track, tennis courts and more!

East River Park runs along the FDR parkway from Houston St. to E. 10th street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

I recently met up with my friends Rick Seedman and Mark Leitz of the Bar-barians for a workout at East River Park – and what a workout it was! We did the usual push-ups, pull-ups and dips, as well as muscle-ups, L-sits, levers and more. Having great training partners keeps me motivated to continue pushing my boundaries.

Watch the video below to see some highlights from our workout:

We're Working Out! in St. Louis

During my visit to St. Louis this past Memorial Day weekend, there wasn’t much time for a formal workout session, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t lose footing as I ascend towards mastering my bodyweight. With that in mind, I decided to get my reps in throughout the day anywhere and everywhere that I went.

In addition to attending a few family functions, I hit up the usual tourist attractions like the St. Louis Zoo, the Missouri Botanical Gardens, Grant’s Farm and of course, the famous St. Louis Arch. Though I didn’t strictly adhere to a healthy eating plan while vacationing, I made sure to practice push-ups, pull-ups, muscle-ups, dips, L-sits and of course, the human flag.

You don’t need a gym to get your workout in!

Watch the video below for more:

Muscle Up-date

A lot has been happening here at Team Al headquarters these last few months! Between the link love I’ve gotten at Mark’s Daily Apple, being featured on Ross Training and my recent article on Sherdog, lots of new visitors have been stopping by – not to mention all the people who’ve found their way here through fans and friends sharing posts on facebook and twitter (thanks guys!).

Bootcamp at Tompkins Square Park has also been going great and I’ve been staying busy working with my personal training clients (not to mention my own, personal training).

Looking Forward/Looking Back
In the months ahead, look for new articles on a variety of topics including injuries and injury prevention, muscle-ups and – everyone’s favorite – the human flag! I’m also planning a new front lever tutorial and more posts on nutrition.

In the meantime, I’ve put together a new highlight clip of some of my favorite moments from the last several months as well as some rarities and never before seen footage:

And for anyone who hasn’t seen my highlights from last summer, check out the clip below: