Deep SquatNothing Lasts Forever
You’ve probably noticed that I have a few tattoos.

A lot of people tend to ask me about the one on my neck. It says “Nothing Lasts Forever” and it is applicable to everything in life, especially the world of fitness. Another way of putting it is, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” That was too long to fit across my neck though.

Sometimes people misinterpret my “Nothing Lasts Forever” tattoo as a pessimistic or cynical statement, but it is actually the opposite. The tattoo is a celebration of the present moment and a tribute to the beauty of the temporary nature of existence. I often joke that it’s also an homage to irony, as tattoos themselves tend to last a while.

Beginner’s Mind
There is no finish line in fitness. It is an ongoing journey that must constantly be approached with modesty and an open mind. To paraphrase from Shunryu Suzuki, one of the great Zen masters of the 20th century, “In the mind of the beginner, there are many possibilities; in the mind of the expert, there are few.”

I think what Suzuki is saying here is that when we think we know everything, we look at the world through a narrower scope. We think we’ve seen it all and heard it all already, so we find a way to reject whatever isn’t within that small spectrum of vision. We lose the ability to learn and grow. We also can lose our appreciation for the beauty of simple every day things. It’s kind of like what we often call “taking things for granted,” which is something we all do too often (myself included).

Believe and Achieve
I believe in the power of positive thinking, and that we all have the ability to manifest our own destiny. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not always that simple.

There is a key step in between “believe” and “achieve” that sometimes gets overlooked: TAKE ACTION! You can’t just sit back and hope for good things, you have to go out there and work for them.

Now don’t start getting defensive over there. The idea that you are responsible for your own circumstances is not something to fear. It is actually an incredibly empowering concept once you put it into practice.

I got these tattoos on my wrists to remind myself and others that anything is possible if you put your mind to it and truly dedicate yourself. If you don’t get what you want, maybe you just didn’t really want it enough.

Be a Free Thinker
Don’t listen to me because someone else considers me to be an expert or some type of authority figure. Only do what makes sense to you.

If you don’t want to work out, I have no interest in forcing you to start. I’d love to inspire you, but I can’t make anybody do anything. As I often say, “the forced will be the last.”

While the advice of someone with experience can be helpful, remember that no one else can do it for you.

Each journey is unique. You must take personal accountability and deal with your life.

Enter your email address below to join “Team Al” and get all my top tips for assembling your calisthenics program!

71 thoughts on “My Philosophy

  • By Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) -

    Your site looks great~ thx for sharing so much with those of us yet to buy the book ~:-)

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Thanks, Char – the info on my blog is just the tip of the iceberg!

    • By David -

      Al, used to be a runner (intermediate), then crossfitter, then a combination of crossfit and lifting heavy to increase strength and ROM. After seeing what you are doing with body weight exercises, can a person attain the same strength, range of motion, and anaerobic levels as crossfit and heavy lifting? Always enjoyed exercising and challenges, even at 57.

      • By Al Kavadlo -

        Yes, I believe so, David! Keep training hard – exercise is the fountain of youth!

  • By Ryanwid -

    Hi, I'm fifteen years old, and you inspire me. All I have to say.

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Thanks for your comment, Ryanwid! Statements like yours keep me motivated to continue working on this blog!

  • By Anonymous -

    i just wish there was an electronic free copy of the book i mean like in pdf

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Sorry, I can't give EVERYTHING away for free – I have bills to pay! 🙂

  • By Lancehogle -

    Great site Al! keep up the great work. I was wondering if you have a section on nutrition? I am curious about your thoughts on the Paleo diet. If you happen to make your way to Ottawa Canada you will have to join me in one of my kettlebell classes.


  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Hey Lance, thanks for the kind words. I don't have a formal nutrition section to my blog right now, but if you use the search feature you'll be able to find several posts in which I share my nutritional philosophy.

  • By jacopastorius -

    hey al. just want to thank you for the wonderful videos you uploaded on youtube. I am from the philippines and dont have any means to go to the gym. i began doing bw exercises bec of your videos. thanks for all the ideas. more power to you

  • By AppalachianMatt -

    You consider yourself an authority figure? Just kidding, I started following your blog a little here and a little there since going Primal and I have to admit i like your style or better yet your view on things. After my deployment it took me years to get over the things I did but after finally getting fed up with BS docs I took control and action as you say and got back on the horse. I completly agree with the positive mindset as it has made a world of difference in my life and my relationship with the wifey. I've always been a pretty good athlete but fitness has now become my own personal religion and while I've achieved decent results by barely doing any real workouts (great nutrition is the key) I am going to commit myself to your program as a guide along this journey.

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Thanks for your comment. Glad to know that you aren't letting a lack of a gym membership stop you from working out!

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Thanks for sharing, Matt. I'm glad to be able to help you along your journey.

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  • By Christina, NYC -

    This is excatly what I needed to read, I just quit a miserable job to follow my passions in fitness and nutrition, i know sitting behind that desk all day its not going to happen, i have to put myself out there and make it happen. Today was my first day of self imposed “unemployement” and Ive already set up 2 job interviews for tomorrow… Thank you Al, I needed to read this. I believe things happen for a reason, theres a reason I found your website this evening.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Wow – thanks, Christina! Congrats on being self-motivated and following your passion!

      • By christina, nyc -

        Thank you! I get one life and one chance at this right? If I dont make it happen, its not going to come to me. “If not now, when?”. I am 100% percent dedicated and I will suceed, maybe not in the “tradtional way”, But I will!
        Thank you again, Al!. I stayed up most of the night reading your website, I really like your writing and your philosophy.

  • By Jgoodie -

    Wow, just found your website. I love it. Thanks for doing such a good job inspiring others Al as it seems you have a gift!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Jgoodie!

  • By Amybomber -

    I love your philosophy! I practice Buddhism and Kung Fu so I am always looking for ways to inspire, be inspired, and improve my body and spirit. One Buddhist concept I like to try and incorporate in my strength training is the concept of being in the present moment and impermanence. For example each pound I lift is impermanent and passes away,as does each moment of lifting therefore I should be able to lift anything, or do as many reps as I want to. I know this sounds crazy but who knows what the mind us capable of when it is fully awakened! Thanks for such an awesome website!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Amy! The mind is definitely the strongest muscle in the body. I go much deeper into my philosophy in my book, which you should of course get a copy of. 🙂

      • By Amy -

        I just ordered the book and can’t wait to read it! Again thank you for putting up such a great site. I am going to try working out now with only bodyweight exercises. It’s something I’ve been interested in doing for a long time but it seems so daunting to put together a complete and well rounded work out program to me. Maybe that’s because I’m more familiar with traditional weight training. I do have a question that I hope you can help me with. I am very tall and long limbed so bodyweight training is more difficult for me. When I am working out and can’t perform the exercise I’m trying to do yet but I can do a partial rep or something do I actually count that as part of the work out or should I try and find a more traditional exercise that works that area of the body or works into building me into the one I’m trying to do? There are so many bodyweight exercises i just can’t do yet whether its because of lack of strength, coordination, or just my awkward proportions and I want to build into all of them and get a great work out done in the mean time. Thanks for any input you have on this.

        • By Al Kavadlo -

          Hey Amy – Thanks for ordering my book – I am excited for you to read it!

          As far as doing partial range of motion (ROM), I think it’s better to modify the exercise in some way to make it easier so you can perform the full ROM. For example, instead of doing a push-up and only going half way down, do a knee push-up or a push-up with your hands on a bench to give yourself better leverage. Check out this video for more:

  • By Hardcorebreslau -

    Hello, I’am fm Poland/EU and accidentally I saw some your video excersises – great woek man…

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks for your comment – I guess it was a happy accident!

  • By HH -

    Hey Al, i like it, you get the result with this, INSIPIRATION. So, i think it´s important to take action, also is a good entrance for your book hehehehehe. I will want to buy it, but i´m in south america, so i´m not sure if you can deliver to any address here. So, let me know. And againg, great post.

    • By HH -

      hehehehe, sorry, was INSPIRATION

      • By Al Kavadlo -

        No prob – and yes, I ship internationally!

        • By HH -

          Ok, and how can we do it, cus if i buy it in this web page, it doesn´t allow me to put international codes, so, do i have to buy it in another web page???

          • By Al Kavadlo -

            There should be a spot where you can squeeze it in on the paypal form.  I’ve received many international orders, so it can’t be too hard to figure out.  Otherwise, just send me an email with your shipping address.

  • By Maoma -

    Awesome post. You have a very positive energy and a great point of view on fitness in general. You are an inspiration. It’s hard to stay positive and focused people don’t always realize that. But as you said it awesome results comes with awesome effort. And making a grand effort is what counts. As a yogi said practise and all is coming.
    Cheers From Sweden

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks very much, Maoma!  Cheers!

  • By Ch4mpi -

    Good job 

  • By Razvan -

     I’m happy to discover you 🙂 I’m going much deeper in understanding the world. For example I’m tired for looking in the mirror and admire my muscles, I want to think as an UNITY! Don’t want to separate mind, soul and physic. I try to think at my wrokout as a way to educate, discipline and learn myself. Thank you 🙂

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks for your comment, Razvan.  It sounds like you’ve experienced some personal growth recently.  Keep it up!

  • By Tm Hulin -

    It´s great!
    I know one leg squat (pistol squat). It was really difficult.It is amazing what you can…I´m training kung fu and your exercises help me in my “kung fu carrer”I became stronger. Thanks.We´re working out! and HARD!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Tm!  Keep on training hard!

  • By Bran -

    Hey Al, you have your Bruce lee face on in that picture at the top of the page he he (: It looks like don’t mess with me!! I know Gung fu!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Haha thanks, Bran!

  • By Lars Krook -

    Wow! I must say that you twisted my whole training-philosophy à 360 degree. I can’t wait to read your book.

    Keep up the good work

  • By Phil -

    Great philosophy!  Maybe on my next trip to NY we can hook up for a personal interview and I can feature you on my new site at

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Phil!  Let me know when you’re in NYC.

  • By Rob White -

    Hey Al,

     i used to formally practice Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do years ago, and needless to say i laped up everything ever written by or about Bruce Lee and his philosophy. One of my favourite quotes from him which really sums up the journey of mastery of just about anything is:

    “Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick. Now that I’ve understood the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick just like a kick.”

    Applied to calisthenics, Joe Public thinks that a pushup is just a pushup, a pullup is just a pullup, and squat is just a squat. When you actually show them how to do this stuff correctly and the hundreds of effective devlopmental variations for getting stronger and better, a pushup is more than just a pushup, a pullup is more than just a pullup, and squat is more than just a squat. Once you get to the kind of mastery levels you, Jim Bathurst, Max Shank, Ido portal and a handful of others have gotten to, you can start freestyling in a beautifully true artistic expression of yourselves, and then you return to a pushup is just a pushup, a pullup is just a pullup, and squat is just a squat. They are all just tools for unique, individual physical and spiritual expression.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Rob – I’m a fan of Bruce Lee myself and the quote you cited is one of my favorites as well.  Thanks for the kind words.

  • By Theinvisibletribe -

     Happy to see that these good videos have a good philosophy behind them =P

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Right on – thanks!

  • By Nicholas Marsala -

    Al I have to give you alot of credit! You’ve really done an excellent job of creating and building up a very successful business that helps alot of people stay fit and healthy! Good job! I got a question for you I am following Convict Conditioning that I got from dragon door, another Awesome site and I’m having trouble with Handstand push ups, just being able to get into the position does either of your two books talk about how to do these? Thanks

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks for the kind words, Nicholas!  There is a whole chapter on handstands and handstand push-ups in Raising The Bar.

  • By Carter_Matic -

    Started reading Raising The Bar here in the uk and it’s actually got off the couch and in to a nice calisthenics routine, this book has inspired me! Thank you Al

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Carter!  Glad to have inspired you!

  • By Marcoleiva2193 -

     Excellente article, I love your approach to fitness from a philosophical stance

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks!  Always good to hear from people who get it!

  • By Supermanjkl101 -

    This book is great! I wan to know how much u deadlift Mr Al =)

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks!  The last time I tried deadlifting I pulled 320 lbs at a bodyweight of 160.

  • By Kenneth Orn -

    discovered your page today and i gotta say that this is great motivation!

  • By Patrizzi -

    I could not agree more. I feel incredibly empowered now. Thanks

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Right on! Thanks for the comment!

  • By Dima -

    Al, there’s something wrong with “my story” page. The questions just keep deleting! So I will try to ask here – what is your preferable type of music ( or even some preferable musicians?)

  • By Mike -

    I discovered your site today, and I think if there were more people like you in the world things would be better.

    I really enjoyed your philosophy of life and I think that tomorrow I will start to train according to your style.

    Thank you.

    Mike from Italy

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Mike! That’s a very nice compliment!

  • By John D -

    You are an inspiration Al !

  • By WorkItOutYourself -

    I just found out about you and your website and I am sincerely amazed by what you do. Definitely going on my favourites list 🙂

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks! There should be enough content on this site to keep you busy for a long time to come!

      • By WorkItOutYourself -

        Oh yes ! and I am delighted 🙂 So many things to learn. Very nice of you to take the time and answer to all messages.

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