The following is a conversation with Chris Duffin, the mad scientist of strength.
He’s one of the strongest people in the world, but is also an engineer of some of the most
innovative strength equipment I’ve ever seen.
Check out his company Kabuki Strength.
He is the only person who squatted and deadlifted 1000 pounds for multiple reps, and achieved
many other amazing feats of strength.
He has lived one hell of a life of hardship and triumph, as he writes about in his book
called The Eagle and the Dragon.
Quick mention of our sponsors, Headspace, Magic Spoon, Sun Basket, and Ladder.
Check them out in the description to support this podcast.
As a side note, let me say that I was always a fan of strength, both powerlifting and Olympic
weightlifting, both as a fan and practitioner.
Basically I’m a fan of people who are willing to put in years of hard work towards finding
out what the limits of their body is, and then smashing past those limits.
People like Chris Duffin, or on the Olympic weightlifting side, people like Dmitri Klokov.
That guy is great.
This is why I love watching the Olympics, both the heartbreaks and the triumphs.
They all reveal the incredible heights that the human mind and the human body can reach.
This is the Lex Friedman podcast, and here is my conversation with Chris Duffin.
You’ve been a part of several incredible feats of strength.
Which was the hardest, or maybe one you’re most proud of?
Definitely the one I’m most proud of is that journey for the grand goals.
It was like a five year scope that I chased this.
And so when you think about training, it took more than five years, obviously.
By that point, I’d been training for over 25 years.
But it makes me proud.
I mean, there were three distinct things that I wanted to accomplish out of this.
So it was really thought out.
And this was kind of my exit from being a competitive lifter.
And basically saying, hey, I’m going to be an Instagram lifter, an exhibition lifter,
I’ve done this for 16 years, I was number one in the world for like eight years straight,
all time world records.
And I’m like, I’m not going to do that anymore.
What I want to do is just something deep down to me that is really important.
And there’s three things that were driving this.
And this is a five year journey that I went through to do this.
I really wanted to showcase that you could do something that is well beyond the scope
of what people think is humanly possible.
So just this inspiration thing, this grand over the top, like if you set your mind to
a single minded goal, you can go so much further.
And I didn’t even say what the goal was upfront, because it was so far out there, I would have
been laughed at.
And that’s, I think big goals should be kept pretty damn close to start with for that reason
But and then the second piece was to walk the walk to show like the principles of what
I believed in around human movement, the ability to manage and control the spinal mechanics
and the output that can have on the body.
And so I wanted to take the two most basic movements that every able bodied person should
be able to do.
So fundamental movement patterns, the squat, which is like, in the developmental approach
is around nine months as a baby from a developmental kinesiology standpoint, and a really basic
pattern that every able bodied person should be able to master the other one being the
hip hinge, being able to pick something up off the ground, a deadlift.
And I wanted to do those two, not just one, because I wanted to show the principles that
I wasn’t built for one, I wasn’t a specialist because of my lever links, torso links, all
that, any outliers, because nobody had ever done a thousand pound squat.
So this is it is and a thousand pound deadlift.
It was outside of the scope of what anybody’s there’s like half a dozen people that have
done one or the other, but nobody’s ever done both.
And I wanted to do something unique.
I wanted to do them, not only do it, but do them for reps to leave literally no question
And there’s no competition for that.
So it was this is what I’m going to go do.
And to pull it off, I had some past issues with my elbows and stuff that I couldn’t work
So I had to wear straps, which was another reason I couldn’t do it in the competition
So the first year I worked up and I did a thousand and two pound deadlift plates were
It was a couple a little bit over and I did it for almost three reps.
And that still stands as a Guinness world record.
Just the one rep does is the most weight ever sumo deadlifted.
And one other person has deadlifted a thousand for reps at this point.
And that was a Thor Bjornsson from Game of Thrones.
He’s done a thousand for a double as well.
So then the next four years and I did a bunch of feats of strength on the way, but it was
all about building that axial loading capacity, the strength that because now I’m moving the
weight from my hands up to my shoulders.
And so to do it for reps is like so much harder than a single like five to 10 seconds versus
30 plus seconds to be able to buffer and manage all that with that kind of load is just crazy.
So it’s literally about the duration that your body is carrying the load.
Yeah, that’s a big part of it.
Yeah, because you have to you’re using the resource of the diaphragm for stabilization.
And so it it’s also responsible for respiration and all this other stuff.
So even when you’re not squatting, you’ve got to be handling those loads.
Just holding that weight is fascinating.
It’s like it’s fascinating that the human body can do that, can can maintain that structure,
just everything working together, that the biology, the skeletal structure, the the musculature
on top of that can hold the weight.
It’s fascinating to watch.
Everything is very intentful about positioning and how you’re creating pressure and all this
sort of stuff, especially for me.
So when I mentioned that half a dozen people have squatted it and half a dozen people have
You understand those people all weigh three hundred and eighty to four hundred and forty
I weighed to sixty five to two eighty five, depending on where I was between the two.
So there’s that as well.
So big, big difference.
And over the course of that, I did a lot of other feats of strength that fit in that capacity.
And we can skip over those.
But that was hugely invested as far as, you know, what I put into being able to accomplish
that, because it’s it’s over the top, which means the other stuff had to shift and I had
There’s so many things that came into place to pull that off.
And so, yeah, last March, two days before the world shut down, I did it.
It was supposed to be at the largest equipment exhibition in the world down in San Diego
as an event.
And that got shut down a week beforehand, obviously.
So we moved to let’s do it in my gym and invite people.
And that was on a Saturday and Thursday or Friday, they limited it to twenty five people
I did it on Saturday and then Monday, everything shut down.
So it was kind of surreal for timing wise.
And so if I hadn’t done it, it would have never got done like because I I’d pushed to
I couldn’t come back and do it.
It was at the total limitation of my capabilities.
So I’m pretty I’m pretty proud of it.
And the last piece was a every one of these feats along the way.
I collaborated with a charity that I believed in.
And there was a lot of those tied to my life story, which we probably will get into.
So it was threefold.
So that inspiration piece, inspiration, motivation, walking the walk and showing like just these
methodologies that a guy that had to learn to walk again can do something like this with
no back pain.
So if you if you there is a way.
And the third one is is to provide awareness and recognition around a lot of key charities.
So so your heart was in this journey, but also your mind is just you’re like a scholar
of strength, a scientist of strength, an engineer of strength for reps do a thousand pounds
squat and deadlift.
Let’s first talk through the actual day you did it.
What does it take to lift that much for reps?
The day of is really easy.
The really the lift itself.
Other than a few seconds is really easy and not challenging.
People always ask me, what was it like?
How beat up were you after that?
And the deadlift.
And the simple fact is, it was easy.
The work to get there was horrendous.
So so even the psychology of the day you weren’t there was not a fear.
There was not a nervousness.
There is not a doubt in your mind.
There were certainly doubts on that day from some training history.
So there was some major breaks to my confidence in the couple months leading up where I had
issues with passing out under the bar.
So completely losing consciousness.
And this was on weight less than a thousand pounds even.
So that was like all this buildup in me going, what if what if I think I have this resolved?
But what if I get up there and I can’t even do a rep?
How embarrassing will this be that I’ve been talking about this and planning for this for
But outside of that, I knew I could do it.
In fact, I wanted to do even more even up to the second rep.
Training is about, you know, working into a fatigue state.
So you’re building an amount of fatigue in your system.
And then when you let off of it, that’s when you get a compensation.
And that’s how you stairstep training.
This is periodization.
But leading into a big event, you’re accumulating this massive amount of fatigue.
And so I was performing at a level that I could do it.
And so I knew I was going to be able to on me because then you then you give yourself
that window to be able to recover and supercompensate and be able to do a little bit more.
So like that first rep when I did it strengthwise, I went, I could do this for five reps like
it went through my head.
I’m like feeling I mean, it was easy and it was fast and it felt like amazing.
And I’m like, I’m going to crush this.
And then set rep to the realization kicked in as like, oh, this is for reps with a thousand
pounds on your back.
And you’re fatiguing just like and then the third one was every last thing I could muster
to just finish.
I mean, I just barely got it done because it’s the strength is like there.
But like that capacity to be able to manage all those resources for that amount of time
because not just leg strength when we’re talking about this stuff.
So what does it take to go from the from I don’t know what like from five hundred to
That feels like a journey that’s like exponential.
It’s it gets exponentially harder.
In the early 2000s, like I said, I started lifting in 1988.
But my first meet in the early 2000s, my my max deadlift was five twenty three and my
first squat was five hundred and fifty.
So that’s the heck of a journey.
It is a journey for people that like to lift.
What should they understand about the difference between doing five hundred and a thousand in
terms of the actual lift that you were experiencing that day in terms of the mechanics, in terms
of all the things you have to be like the neurological adaptation?
You mentioned the breathing, the core strength, like techniques, like little tricks, psychological
tricks, anything that kind of stands out to you.
The level of intent and the opportunity for error are at a different level.
So just the minutest changes of position by quarter inch, half inch can be make or break
at that level.
So these things, everything gets amplified.
So the ability to start with having the pelvis just in the right orientation to the diaphragm
before we start initiating what we call the the eccentric loading of the abdominal cavity
to create this intra abdominal pressure of working against this outward expansion, working
against the outer sheath of abdominal thoracolumbar musculature obliques, causing the co contraction
at the pelvic floor, all this stuff and how you cue that because you can’t think about
all this stuff.
You need to break it down and distill and practice to like it’s one simple cue that
we now lock down and control this torso stability because this is what these fundamental movements
are about, is being able to control our spinal mechanics and then now be able to maintain
that while articulating the joints around that through a range of motion and then using
the main power drivers.
So in this instance, both instances, it’s the, you know, the hip complex to generate
that power and transfer it from how we’re rooted and connected to the floor through
to the distal end, you know, which would be the barbell on the shoulder.
You know, there’s a couple key concepts.
So one is that what we just talked through is how to actually maintain that stability.
So if you have either the diaphragm, so which is connected at the rib cage.
So out of alignment in any position, it needs to be in alignment with the pelvic, the pelvis.
So those two in opposition.
So this is simple engineering here because what we’re going to do is eccentrically load
We’re going to use the diaphragm just like you would in a diaphragm pump where it’s going
to press down on all the tissue in there.
So we’re not using breath.
So our breath was actually a lot of times a default pattern when people do that because
they’ll bring it into their chest and raise their rib cage.
So what we want to do is just initiate the diaphragm air can be used as well over the
top at the final to create just a little bit more downward pressure.
But if we have out of alignment there, we have a pressure leak where it’s going to be
push out the front or the rear if you’re either inflection or extension.
And then that causes this co contraction and all this pressure of the organs essentially
against outward against all those tissue for the co contraction as well as surrounding
the spine to be able to stabilize that.
And then it puts all the muscles on both sides of the body in what we call the best length
So if you think about a curl and we reach our arm out at the extended length, our bicep
is not as strong and then all the way in the curl position, it’s not in strong.
There’s somewhere in here that’s this control of both.
And so when you’re sitting there arched or bent over, we have muscles that are past either
one of those ranges.
So they’ve got a lot of tension, which then will create relaxation on the other side.
So we want to have an all of that needs to be working.
And now the next important thing is the foot.
So it’s actually this connection to the ground and how we’re actually using the foot and
ankle complex to grab and grip this connection to the ground and elicit an effect.
And because of this and then the everything between will naturally kind of do what it
needs to do.
So people like to focus on it, knee position or how far out their hips are or all this
other stuff, which is outputs of this.
So if we control the torso and the knee, the only thing that can happen from that point
is for the squat to happen.
So this allows us to use this massive, you know, the hip complex for all the muscles
around that that are built to drive through hip extension to complete the squat.
I did actually miss one thing in there.
So this torso people often miss the lat is a spinal stabilizer as well.
So that’s key in controlling function at the the T.L. Junction, which is just above the
So kind of right opposite where your sternum is and you’ll see people kind of roll over
sometimes like an Olympic squad or something like that, where they lose position.
And that’s often because they’re close grip because you can’t engage the lats very well
that way and they’re pushing up in the bar.
But you want to be able to drive and pull the bar to your center.
And that’s going to create and use the lats now to drive and connect the shoulder into
We’re kind of compressing and tightening all this stuff towards that center to create that
entire torso stability.
So I was using torso stability, not just core stability in my conversation earlier.
OK, so there’s all these like modules of the body then connected to the grounding with
like your feet on the ground.
Everything you’re speaking to.
How do you work each of those modules?
Is this over time you kind of develop the feel that ultimately boils down to this one
simple cue that you mentioned?
Or do you can you like literally study each particular module in yourself and see how
it affects the lift?
So the best way and I believe it’s because I hate just like people getting out and just
doing just movement stuff and not actually adding load because we only adapt when there’s
Maybe we can get some, you know, some proprioception or awareness of position and other stuff,
doing some some corrective patterns and other stuff.
But this is basic physiology is that there must be an imposed demand for us to have adaptation.
And this is mental.
This is emotional.
This is all these areas.
But and people miss that.
So I prefer to be able to look at a person and this is our methodology and do the assessment
in any basic loaded movement.
So with developing an eye for that, you can actually see and go, OK, we’ve got a fault
pattern right here in the foot and use a cue or a set of cues.
Doesn’t really matter till we find the one that works and bring that.
And now we know we want to simplify this stuff.
I just walk through.
That sounds really complicated.
And it it is if we try to break down and distill it all.
But like, let’s just find the basic stuff that gets us in the range, start working and
then find the next as we add load.
Now we find where’s our next area that we’re starting to fault that and then go there again
So this is what we do, what we teach in our educational platform.
So we are the only I believe everybody wants to do a lot of these like assessments, you
know, on a bench, on a table body.
And it’s like, no, let’s let’s go squat.
Let’s go deadlift.
If you do strongman and it’s a yoke carry, let’s yoke carry because these are basic human
It’s not powerlifting like this is how we function.
This is why we we work with 29 of the 30 major league baseball teams and 90 percent of all
professional sports out there in North America.
Sorry, although we do some work with Tour de France and other stuff as well.
And North America, I do mean hockey, too.
But these principles like, you know, if if the Dodgers won’t bring us in, they’re not
learning how to power lift.
You know, we’re going to obviously will probably be do we do a little bit more shoulder focus
than hip focus with their athletes or their coaches.
We’re usually working with the coaches, not the athletes.
And so you help them.
And then the same thing on yourself to understand the role that these different muscle groups
On the holistic.
So it’s all about getting the joints in the appropriate position so that we can do that.
We can manage load so that we’re not putting undue stress on the joint.
We’re getting the proper link tension.
We’re getting these basic fundamental things with the body.
And so the the largest global impact that you will have is through spinal mechanics.
I can’t look at a shoulder if I’m not managing this because it’s your spine.
So for those who are just listening, like I’m arching and then and then flexing, that’s
going to affect shoulder extension, flexion, all these sorts of things.
So it could even affect things down of what’s looking at dorsiflexion issues on the foot.
And then that’s why I go to the foot next, because it has the second largest global impact.
And then from there, now I’m going to look at the big energy drivers, which is the hip
complex, shoulder complex.
And then we can start looking at kind of the peripheral things.
But usually that’s some sort of output of the other.
But the knees, the elbows, the things like that.
So it’s all about getting the stack, which affects neurology.
So let’s talk in engineering terms.
You get in a car, modern car today, and a lot of them will have this traction control
button in there.
And there’s a big misconception that, you know, I’m out and it’s it’s snowy or here
in Austin, only rainy.
Well, it probably doesn’t rain much, but you’re going around a corner, start slipping.
It’s like, oh, it’s going to send the powers from the wheels that are slipping to the ones
that are gripping and keep me from crashing and dying a fiery death.
Well, that’s not how it works.
It’s the exact same.
We’ve got we’ve got the we’ve got the tires, which are our foot, you know, the connection
to the ground.
We’ve got the power driver, which is, you know, the the engine, the transmission delivering,
you know, the power through it.
And we’ve got the stability or suspension.
And then we have the neurology.
And what the neurology is doing, it’s sensing that we don’t have good stability or loss
of connection somewhere.
And so I need to save you from crashing and hurting yourself.
And so it goes to the engine and says, let’s retard the timing.
Let’s reduce the shift patterns.
And we’re just reducing the power output.
And that’s straight how the human body works.
So when I do this stuff, it’s actually affecting that.
I mean, I can take somebody and do some minute changes with the neck position at the thoracic
OK, and immediately see an enhancement in power output.
And I can measure it.
We measure this stuff with velocity devices and see like a 10 percent jump.
And so think about that.
What about all your training through the years where you actually had additional capacity?
But you weren’t using it because your traction control was on.
Now you figure this out stuff and now you start stacking it.
Now you can see so much greater.
So it’s not just injury prevention.
This is performance and additive performance over time.
This is huge.
And people don’t really think about this stuff.
But we can turn that stuff off, which is actually going to also, again, make us make us safer.
But what we want to do is the performance tuned race car.
Do they have a traction control button?
No, they got some amazing tires to grip the ground, a performance tuned suspension, and
that driver is going to put what his foot to the metal.
He’s going to put it to the floor.
OK, that’s a performance vehicle.
That’s what we want to be.
I want to continue on that line.
But first I have to ask, like, how did it feel to accomplish the grand goal?
Oh, my God.
OK, when you just stand back.
Oh, my thousand pounds for reps.
What it feel like?
Anybody can go watch the video online.
It’s well filmed, by the way.
Got me all like excited.
Oh, well, the movies.
So we actually have the final footage of that, the good footage not posted yet.
So it’s literally just an Instagram video or a phone video right now.
The only one online.
It’s on your YouTube channel.
Yes, it is.
Came out just time to the music perfectly, too, which is I listened to some odd music,
which there’s some reason behind that.
OK, but I liked it, though.
It was great.
You’re saying there’s full length footage.
There’s a documentary that’s it’s got a little slowed because of covid, because it’s also
a backstory of the eagle and the dragon.
My book about why I do kind of the things that I’ve done in my life or that’s what I’m
assuming the director is working on.
I don’t really have the control of the movie, right?
But but OK, but the video’s OK.
How did it feel?
I started crying.
It was overwhelming to have worked so intensely and so long and hard at something that pushed
every ounce of me to the limit that and and I did it.
I’m getting a little emotional.
I did exactly what I said I was going to fucking do like and it was it was overpowering.
I mean, I was just crying uncontrollably just with a mixture of I.
I don’t know what the mixture of emotions is hard to explain because it was the completion
It was a new phase of my life.
I mean, there’s so many things here.
So when you set an impossible goal and you accomplished it, one, two is like on the broader
humanity aspect, like how many humans in this world accomplish perfection in a particular
direction required to do this?
So like you’re basically representing like one little like like little glimmer of excellence
of the human spirit.
There’s always more.
So understand this is a basic fundamental.
You can always do better.
There is no such thing as perfection.
You could always there is always more.
So anytime you reach something, any amazing workout or accomplishment in life, could you
have put more into it?
But here’s the thing.
I left on my terms.
I said, this is it.
I’m going to work towards I’ve been training for 30 years.
I’m going to do this thing that is like I couldn’t even say that I was going to do it
I’m going to do it and then I’m done.
I didn’t leave from an injury.
I wasn’t forced.
I left on.
I did exactly what I said.
I went to a level that I.
I left on my terms and that’s unique because that’s usually not the case.
Sometimes you kind of either taper out or it doesn’t matter.
I’m talking like anything in life in general, right?
Like you taper out, you fail, you hurt, like you lose.
Like something, you know, you roll into retirement.
You accomplish something truly great and you walked away on your own terms.
Is there a sadness completing something like that?
Because it’s in one perspective, the greatest thing you’ll ever do.
And like when you accomplish such a great height, in some sense, you have to face your
mortality at that point.
So good question, but it is certainly not the greatest thing that I’ll ever do.
The greatest physical street I’ll ever do.
The greatest physical street, yes.
But that was an expression of some of my values and the way that I want to live.
It was a way of expressing it.
So understanding that is hugely fundamental because we do see so many athletes get to
the end of a career and then they fall into a depressive state and struggle with drugs,
alcohol, depression, and so on because they lost how they identified themselves and trying
to figure out where to turn, what to do.
But a big central component of their identity is lost.
So I knew that this was one way to express that and my grand goals have shifted.
They’re shifted to other outlets that allow me to express that.
Like my companies, Kabuki Strength, I’m going to change the face of fitness as well as all
the way through with its integration with clinical medicine and telemedicine.
And I got another five years before even people see what I’m working on, five years in right
now because I had to invent equipment, I have to develop methodologies that we’re talking
I had to do this stuff that ground layer wasn’t done to create a cohesive ecosystem of training
methodology tied to the tools that we’re using today, to the environment, tied to the clinical
practice assessment, tied to the interaction between all those and how that actually needs
to be reframed because so much of this is broken.
But there is sadness.
I won’t deny that.
And the sadness comes in the singularity of focus that I had at that time, the being in
Not necessarily doing it, but like having being in this place that the rest of the world
kind of fell away from me in those final phases to have something so intense, to have a team
around me so focused on supporting and like it took me a couple of months after that squad.
But I finally one day I woke up and I was like, oh, welcome back to the world.
Like I was in such a mental fog.
Like I was, it took me a while to climb out of that.
But that space, that level of intensity and drive and living and being in that space,
I do miss that.
But I also, I can’t continue that.
I couldn’t continue.
Like there’s a point of like, you push it so hard, the level to try to go from there
is not acceptable for what you, the impacts that’ll have on your life or how you want
And it was taking away those final, like I had to do extreme things and live in an extreme
way to get there.
You’re just a genius in this whole space of strength and health and almost like biology
that this strength feat is just one representation of that.
But this particular strength, it required that kind of singular focus, which I think,
I don’t know, there’s something beautiful about that singular focus that’s often only
truly perfected in athletics.
I see it with the greatest Olympic athletes as well.
The kind of singular focus required there is incredible.
It’s somehow some of the most beautiful things that humans can do.
And it’s not just that thing.
So that’s the thing.
It’s like, oh, that must be it.
That singularity of focus, it’s not like, here’s it, because it covers a vast array
Like I was working with people, you know, all, well, yeah, all around North America.
I wouldn’t say anybody around the globe, but professionals coming in, working on different
aspects of rehab and, and recovery.
And like, I mean, I’m tapping all sorts of stuff in so many platforms from nutrition
to drugs to, again, like, you know, various Chinese medicine, you know, as far as, you
But also the humans in your life, just love and positivity and just inspiration, all those
kinds of aspects.
I mean, you probably would have done much more if you went outside North America and
talked to some Russians, just between you and I.
They give you some, I don’t know, there’s some incredible strength athletes in Eastern
I’ve got the best one coming in September to get fixed.
So what do you mean by fixed?
So I’m not sure what his particular issues are, but he has held the all time world record
repeatedly for a long time and he hasn’t competed for some time.
And he just reached out saying he would like to come and have me take a look and see if
I can get him fixed because he needs to return.
So it’s more injury centric versus like form and a fundamental centric combination of everything.
Everybody always wants to focus on the output.
How do you give me the fix for that?
But it ties right back into all those other things, right?
But yeah, the Eastern block continued to be a dominant force in regards to athletics and
strength athletes without a doubt.
Some of my big rivals in my competitive days were, that’s who it was.
Rivalry brings out the best in us.
Can you tell me the story of your childhood?
It’s definitely outside the scope of the norm.
Not today, maybe not 150 or 200 years ago, but my parents, highly intelligent people
coming out of the Bay area.
My mom was going to school to be a chemical engineer.
She was a top, top student athlete, graduated out of her school.
My father was a member of Mensa and my stepfather was just a genius, but not able to really
function in society.
But my mom was, she had some demons and some other stuff and just, she just said one day,
she’s like, I just don’t want to be part of society.
She still isn’t, lives out in the desert, but has her minds, but she wanted to figure
out a way to make a life outside of that.
And so that’s where we ended up is up in the mountains in Northern California.
And a lot of that was them trying to get into successfully growing marijuana, which back
in that wasn’t legal back then, highly illegal.
And in fact, those areas were, some of the areas where we lived were quite dangerous.
So there’s a documentary Murder Mountain that came out recently.
If you watch that, you’ll tie into my book, just the understanding of the stuff that I
was talking about dealing with serial killers, human trafficking, police corruption, murderers,
like just how real that stuff is if it doesn’t capture you from the book.
The book, by the way, is the Eagle and the Dragon.
I’m a terrible salesperson.
Like I told you.
But a good, it’s a good title.
I don’t know if you came up with it, but, so yeah, we’ll talk about that anyway.
We’re living by a stream off a meadow.
There’s no roads into where you have to hike in.
And we’ve got beams lashed into the trees up above us because that’s where our bedding
Cause there’s rattlesnake dens all around and six years old, I’m being taught how to
capture and handle live rattlesnakes because that’s what I need to do to be safe.
And you can imagine six years old, sitting there with a live rattlesnake in your hand,
grabbing it, you know, by the side of the head, controlling so it can’t, can’t bite
And it’s just wrapping itself around your arm and you’re staring at like, it’s only
intent is right then is to kill you.
Like that’s it, right?
You want to take a bath.
It’s filling up the jug in the stream and setting it out on the rocks during the, during
So you dump it over your head and you know, not all the living was that way.
You know, good part was similar to that tent living, living in a 16 foot trailer with a
family of six, which is not much bigger than the space that we’re sitting here.
So we’re talking hard winters with feet of snow on the ground, nowhere to go.
I’m living in the back of the pickup truck and just a standard sleeping bag that we get
from the Salvation Army, not the, not the blow zero.
So I’m I’m, I’m not sleeping well.
There’s living in homes that were maybe condemned.
There’s no, no doors even on them, no electricity or running water or one or the other or both.
And sometimes a little bit better by the time we got to high school we had a mobile home.
So my stepfather had won a disability payment cause he had a broken arm that whole time
from a accident a long time ago and finally got an award and got a down payment on this
mobile home that didn’t have again, doors on the inside.
It did have running water, did have electricity, didn’t have a kitchen, you know, the windows
would crank close and open, but they wouldn’t close all the way.
So the trim them in with a plastic to be able to try to protect from the elements.
That was my environment, like learning how to forge for mushrooms.
I mean, there were summers I would send and my parents would be out, they were in the
drug trade earlier.
We got taken by the, by the police and put into foster care for a while, which ties into
some of the stories with human trafficking.
And honestly it’s in my book, but it’s really hard for me to talk about that stuff and obviously
not all that’s in the book.
So but they got us back and we moved to Oregon and they stayed out of the drug trade from
that time to ensure that they didn’t lose us again, but quickly we kind of fell back
into the same thing.
So at that point it was learning about geology and starting to do mining and firewood cutting,
but mostly the mining because Pat’s broken arm chainsaw made a little tough.
If you remember just the sequence of moments, do you, are you haunted by the darker moments
of your childhood?
Do you remember moments of simple joy and happiness?
Outside of the living around dangerous people and the interactions that came from that,
we were a family.
Like we were a cohesive unit battling against the world together.
We spent all our time together, work, play.
I was there.
I was helping raise my, my siblings or I was working with them and you know, it was a constant,
like I said, we were very physically active.
So you know, I had that in my upbringing, um, that plug for my shoe company, barefoot,
B E A R I ran around the wilderness and bare feet all the time, you know, but it was, I
had a lot of great moments and I’m thankful for a lot of that childhood once we take out
the trauma and the other stuff associated with it, right?
And so the connection that I have with my sisters, um, is, is, is huge.
Um, that goes a bit further to cause I am kind of like a, a little bit of a father figure
because I was at home raising them and then later I took custody of them, uh, while I
was going to school because the environment at home deteriorated further.
Their stepfather, stepfather, like I said, was, he wasn’t capable of managing life.
And uh, my mom had a mental breakdown and took off to Montana and he descended into
madness even worse, uh, actually took my, my 13 year old sister and kicked her out in
the middle of winter, a couple of feet of snow on the ground because he thought she
stole his favorite cereal bowl, um, type.
So that’s when I took in and I was going to college, putting myself through college and
I started taking custody of my sisters and raising them.
So anyway, we’re still like very, very tight family.
Um, it took, there was a few years later in life, like that the connection with my mother
was kind of broken.
Um, I didn’t speak to her for years because of her basically abandoning my sisters and
me having to come in.
But that we’ve worked through that as best we can.
So you anger on your part?
It wasn’t, there might’ve been some anger.
Did you always love her?
And I still do.
And I’m so, she’s taught me basically everything I know about strength and perseverance and
living life on your terms and being able to create that.
And so much of what I am is from that, right?
We’ve all had to learn to be okay with the way she is because she is just blunt, but
you know, she’s the one that figured out that the human trafficking situation and got, uh,
got the da involved and got all the, she’s the one that I’ve learned a lot from her.
Did you inherit some of the demons?
Oh, most certainly.
And I, it’s something I’ve continued like in my father’s side of has been really tough
on that because some of it is just based genetic as well.
So my, my stepfather made I think six or seven attempts on his life during his lifetime.
One of those in front of me, uh, his mother blew her head off with a shotgun.
Uh, her brother jumped out a window in LA, uh, their father did something similar and
I don’t know how far back it goes because there is no family except for me and my children.
You spoke about going through depression yourself.
Can you, um, talk about some of the darker moments of that?
Have you ever like many in your family, have you ever considered suicide?
Yes I have.
You’ve achieved a lot of exceptional things in your life.
Can you talk about those early days of depression and how you overcame it?
So the things that I did that people give me accolades for are the things that I did
selfishly to save myself.
The things like taking custody of my sisters, being the person that everybody around, you
know, the, the important people relied on the fact that I had to step to the plate and
be present and be that person because if I failed, they failed.
They would be like the people that I grew up with that are dead or in prison or on drugs
and they’re either way to one of those, right?
That’s where everybody ended and I wasn’t going to let that happen.
What about saving yourself?
And so that’s how in those early days, that’s how I did it.
Not saying it’s the best approach, but it was survivor mentality.
It was, I can’t selfishly do that because I have them to take care of, right?
And then that continued where I would keep putting myself in these leadership roles or
other things and just always being this person that was at the center, at the hub that forced
me to be there.
And so it’s only in the more recent, you know, last decade or so that I have had to really
learn how to come and start confronting some of those demons and think, man, why is the
guy so successful?
Like, I mean, and we haven’t talked about all the stuff that I’ve done, but like I’ve
seen a lot of success in both business, leadership, athletics, academics, entrepreneurship, all
these sorts of things, right?
But if it wasn’t for having kids and the same being in the position, I wouldn’t be here.
And that’s just, that’s the reality of it.
And I’m learning to come and manage those as best I can.
Learning to meditate into those things and really feel what the driver is so I can get
to those root understanding and having some guidance doing so.
Like if you’ve got mental health issues, this isn’t something that you need to tackle on
Like having a professional that can help guide you on that introspective journey is something
like, it’s not like, hey, I’m big, tough guy.
I can handle everything.
That’s fascinating that you saved yourself.
That’s quite powerful to save yourself by having others depend on you.
And so you can’t fail.
You can’t fuck it up.
And that’s a reason to keep moving forward.
But on the flip side, that’s not addressing the darkness.
And it probably not a sustainable strategy either, right?
So I recognize these things.
I don’t know.
Perhaps it is sustainable.
Perhaps that, I mean, there’s something beautiful about giving yourself basically in service
of others and thereby creating purpose.
And then it’s almost like fake it till you make it and then you make it eventually.
That is purpose though.
That is purpose.
I mean, you have to, to me, life is about taking your cup and how you choose to pour
How you choose to give.
What is your purpose?
What is that connection with everybody around you?
This is, that’s the intent.
That’s the life.
That’s what life is about.
How are you going to help those around you?
How are you going to help the world?
Your purpose is right here, figuring out what this is and then how to do that.
But at the same time, you can’t let that run dry.
So you have to make sure that you’re filling that up.
That’s the other side, right?
That’s the other side.
We’ll return to your engineering degree, which you’re obviously scientifically engineering
minded, which is fascinating.
Your book is titled the Eagle and the Dragon.
What do the Eagle and the Dragon symbolize?
They’re pretty big symbols for me.
In fact, that covers my entire body as a tattoo.
So the first one I had done at around 19 years old.
And so this is, or started at 19.
It’s an eagle that covers my entire front, you know, my stomach, rib cage, and one that
was on my back that covered most of my back.
And there’s chained at the, well, at the claw, I guess.
And the chain wraps down around and attaches to my ankle and there’s a shackle there.
And so this was something that I had done at that age because it was, to me, it was
a representation of your potential, your strengths, your abilities that you can fly to whatever
height that you want in this world.
The only thing holding you back at the end of the day is yourself.
And this was, I hadn’t necessarily accomplished a whole lot at that time.
I mean, I was valedictorian for high school, small high school.
Does that even count?
I was a state level wrestler.
This was my belief.
And you sense that there was a potential in you and the only thing that could stop you
from realizing that potential was yourself.
That’s a heck of a tattoo to get, by the way, at 19, but 40 hours went into that thing.
It shows you got some guts.
And then the next tattoo, so I only have two, I had done in 2015, 2016 when I, so at this
point in my life, so I had done that.
I had flown to whatever heights, right?
So I had, I had proven to myself and maybe done what I thought I needed to do to show
the world that this poor kid from the sticks, this kid growing up in the mountains with
nothing could achieve the American dream.
I was a corporate executive sought after that I’d come in, I’d fix companies, I’d turn around
and prep them for sale.
I’d take a company and grow it from a regional to a national to a global presence.
I did this in the automotive manufacturing, aerospace manufacturing, high tech, heavy
industry and I had a house with a white picket fence.
I was a successful athlete with all time world records.
I owned a gym on the side where I coached people and I had a comfortable marriage that
everything was hunky dory with no arguments at home and I walked away from all of it.
I left everything behind except for my kids.
I wanted to chase what I was meant to do and chase what I was capable of doing.
I wanted to become a better version of myself, but very intentfully and that’s what I did.
I sold, I had multiple homes, sold my homes.
I cashed in all my retirement that I’d earned for 20, nearly 20 years and I lost all that.
I leveraged myself millions of dollars of personal debt so that if I failed, there was
no way out.
Even going back to that old career that I did well, I’d be living in an apartment the
rest of my life paying it off.
Old question, people questioned me at the time because I had a comfortable, easy marriage
and I chose to ask for a divorce and I ended up living in an apartment for a couple of
years with no income, selling off every last thing that I had except for my two vehicles
that I built and with my kids and I started my businesses to help people live a better
quality of life, to get them out of pain, to help them live better through strength,
to realize that stress, demand, those things, they don’t have to be the thing that if you
look back, made you had the bad back, made you have the bad deeds, but they do the opposite.
They get you out of pain and then I started working my book to hit on those other things,
the mental, the emotional, maybe even spiritual, I don’t touch on that one too much in there,
but it’s all the same, that things that happen around you, to you, like maybe they’re bad,
I can’t take away that, but why can’t you use what you have of it to become a stronger
and better person, to become more resilient, to be able to take the things that you don’t
know that are coming in the future and so this is very intentful and that’s what the
second long winded answer in your question here.
The dragon is an Ouroboros and so it is, it circles my entire upper body, my shoulders,
my back, my chest, everything, it’s right here, there’s this big dragon head and its
tail is right there in its mouth that’s eating itself and it may sound a bit graphic or whatever,
but it is, it’s the eating of the old becoming the new, it is the purposeful reinvention
of oneself, it is the deciding, not realizing just your potential, but deciding specifically
who you want to be in this fucking world and becoming that person.
Can you comment on the value and the power of putting a flame to your old life, your
old self, just destroying all of it as you walk into the new life, did you have to do
I don’t recommend this, by the way, because when you put yourself in no way out, there
is no way out, okay?
You got to really, but I can be an overconfident individual at times and I live through extremes.
I think it’s a great way of actually finding your real values and how you want to live,
honestly, to chase having absolutely perfect squat technique, but chase putting every freaking
thing that you’ve got in it, which most people would say, those are opposite, those are diametrically
I wanted a better home life, I wanted to do more in the world through my work and the
burning the bridges mentality is not necessarily the best.
There was some temperament in that though, because I was slow to make the shift for a
long time because I’d been thinking about doing it, but I was thinking about doing it
in a healthcare perspective.
I’m going to go back to school to be a surgeon or a physical therapist or a Cairo because
that’s where all my research and stuff was in this human movement and rehab and recovery.
This is the mentors that I’ve been developing were the best in the world in these things,
in these disciplines, those were my friends, but I wasn’t able to compromise my family’s
certain quality of life.
I wanted to keep that.
So it was slow and hard for me to make that transition, but I didn’t do it until I had
a platform built enough that those first few years I did have an income, I was able to
make enough from the business until it grew so fast that I needed so much more needed
to come in.
The living in the apartment piece and doing all that, that was actually a couple of years
into that process, maybe like two years.
I’m with you on that.
So I’m actually going through that very process now.
I put everything, I quit everything, gave away everything and starting a new and unfortunately
or fortunately this podcast somehow became quite popular.
So it’s getting in the way of my burning everything to the ground.
But in that it’s a source of joy.
But the main thing I’m after is the similar project as you is building a business sense
So this, this is the point I want to drive home right now, right now.
Because when I say burn, I learned that burning the bridges works because that’s how I had
to succeed when I was earlier.
The bridges weren’t burnt.
They didn’t exist.
There was no couch to go home to.
There was no, there was no fall back plan and it forced me and gave me the confidence
to know that I can pull it off.
But I don’t encourage people because there’s so much out there of this hustle porn and
other stuff going just grind, just go after it, get in and start your, like you’ll get
there and it’s all about the output to make money, to be somebody, to do this.
And I’ll tell you what, that is some short term motivation right there.
I feel like dropping a few swear words, but
You’re always welcome.
We’ve already done a few, so we’ll bounce it out.
That is short term.
That is not going to keep you going.
This need, if you’re going to go that approach, it needs to be because this is your North
There’s going to be so much hard work.
There’s going to be years of just pushing through where your question, not only is everybody
around you questioning you and your family’s questioning you, you’re questioning yourself
going, man, I don’t know if I can pull this off.
You’re going to be stressed.
You’re going to be pulled to the max.
If somebody comes up to me and says, should I start a business?
I’m going to say no.
And oh, you’re supposed to motivate me.
If you need me to motivate you, this is the wrong damn approach for you.
This is going to be hard.
This is going to be harder than you expect, even with me telling you this.
And so it better damn well be worth it.
This better be your North fucking star.
This better live and be a way for you to be able to articulate or realize those values
that you want to live.
This isn’t something to make money.
This is a way for you to live the life and be able to share the values that you have
with the world.
And that’s what it is.
And if you don’t have that, which is going to give you joy, then we can walk away.
This is not some way to make some money and be known.
I mean, this, this includes both like simple day to day joy and also deep meaning the whole
It allows you to overcome all the, all the pain along the way.
But I got to say, I mean, it’s a difficult thing because you run a business.
This podcast and a lot of things I do research wise is full of joy, but it’s simple.
Running a business is hard.
So it’s something that I’m very hesitant about in that to almost push back a little bit.
I think if I do get the guts to start the business, it will not be because I’m not choosing
a more joyful life because I’m already truly happy.
The reason I’ll choose is because I just can’t help it.
There’s this, I’ve always had this dream and I know it’s going to lead to suffering and
I know it’s going to be a life that has less happiness in it.
As sad as this to say, but it won’t be, it won’t be less happiness because we talk about
this cup and where you choose to pour it and what you choose to do with it.
And when you look back on things, the things that are going to give you the most joy, the
most proud, the things that are going to stand out in your life that you really remember
are going to be those days and your, those years you struggle, you’re going to look back
on 10 years later and go, fuck, those were the glory days.
Those were the glory days.
And it won’t feel like it at the time.
So that’s what life’s made of.
And so this is your, this is your opportunity.
You feel that.
So right now you’ve got this, when you think about it, you’ve got this little thing twisting
up in your gut, right?
It’s like, it’s a mixture of anxiety and fear as well as excitement in that is that’s your
signal that this is your opportunity for that personal growth, the challenge yourself.
This is your going for a run or working out in the heat.
It’s it’s those things.
It is your opportunity to go back.
Maybe it even fails.
Maybe it even fails, but by turning into that, you’re going to learn so much and it’s going
to make you so much better.
And it’s the path that you should take when you have this stuff rolling around in there.
And I don’t, it could just be a hard conversation with your partner or your boss.
It could be taking on a project that, you know, you know, that your boss has thrown
out to the team and you’re like, Oh, I’m going to hide in the back.
I don’t want that one.
And it’s like, maybe, maybe you do.
Maybe it’s going back to school.
Maybe it’s making that career move that you always wanted, but you’re just a, you’re just
afraid of all these things.
Those are your opportunity for you to turn into that.
It is your workout.
It is your practice because if you don’t, you’ll get soft and who knows what’s coming
and you’re not going to be ready for it.
And it’s going to run right over the top of you because you’re going to be weak.
You’re going to be soft.
There’s some aspect in which choosing that hard path is actually the, the way to arrive
at the richest kind of happiness, the greatest fulfillment.
That’s the funny thing about just the human.
Just make sure you’re filling the cup as you’re going through it and not pouring it all out.
So that’s the part to figure out, right?
Well, life is short anyway.
Eventually, eventually the cup will be empty.
So maybe time the refilling of the cup correctly so you maximize the little time you got.
Let me talk to you about strength a little bit first, high level.
What are the differences in the different disciplines of strength?
So power lifting, we talked about maybe just to clarify for people, power lifting, Olympic
lifting, just regular gym fitness, bodybuilding, doing curls in front of the mirror for hours
like I do.
What’s, what’s the difference between all of these?
Oh, and also strong man.
Every one of those, as far as the athletic disciplines are different qualities.
So we want to think about things as terms of quality.
So there’s strength, there’s power, there’s endurance, there’s the ability to be coordinated
There’s all these things and they’re different, they’re different qualities.
So your training as it relates to that is how you cycle in the development of those qualities.
What we want to think about is there’s a lot of different frames of thought, some very
classical, maybe not classical Russian approach because there’s a lot of different approach
from the Eastern block, but one of the ones is developing all the qualities at once, focusing
on building those more of a periodization effect would be focusing on one quality at
a time or one quality while maintaining other qualities and then shifting that around.
So it’s just going to be a little different based on what the output is and what the desired.
So like powerlifting is actually, power is the wrong word.
There’s actually no power in it.
It’s just brute, it’s, it’s strength, um, application of force, um, Olympic lifting
would actually be a better name for powerlifting because that is more explosive development.
There’s um, strongman is again, now we’re getting a little bit more athletic.
It’s equipment based on the implements and stuff that are used, how fast you can move
your feet and run mixed with more endurance, but still very strength focused.
And there’s some things with strongman that is straight.
Like each one of these is very also focused on different genetic dispositions.
So actually if you look at the history of sports, you’ll find that they’re a lot of
times based on different populations and it sounds like it’s very unPC, but like a Highland
games, um, they’ve got deep, deeper hip sockets that are shallow.
So you’re going to see a lot of short hip hinge movements like the, the caber toss and
things like that.
Muay Thai wrestling, they’ve got a completely different hip joint.
And so strongman itself is going to be for very large frame individuals.
If you’re not well over six foot and a large person, you’re probably not going to perform
It’s sub six foot have ever done well at strongman just because it’s, it’s leverage based, right?
Um, Olympic lifting, we see consistently in, in Europe, uh, the, the history tells us a
high level of hip, uh, and back issues because of the depth that that hip socket has to go
in to be able to complete that lift.
And so you’re going to see issues with populations that don’t have the ability to do that.
So, so we’ve talked a little bit about training as well as disposition.
So, and also cross head fits into that, that’s more like strongman, but for a wider variety
of bodies, I suppose.
And definitely more metabolic conditioning focus than the, than the strength aspect of
Um, and, and, and conditioning is an interesting thing too.
So that quality in my opinion can be developed a lot faster, but kind of peaks much faster
Um, where strength, we can continue to add and add and add over time.
Uh, so it’s for me, like for conditioning with any strength athlete, I don’t like to
spend as much time on that.
So I’ll cycle, uh, the conditioning work for our strength athletes and then taper that
off leading into meat.
So the more metabolic work, that means the more capacity in strength training that you
can accomplish, which is the goal, um, and recover from.
But then as we lead to a competition, we want to spend more time on recovering from that.
So we have to pull things out.
So we’d pull out less.
So like a typical approach would be like taking a six week cycle for conditioning and ramping,
ramping up over three weeks periods time, then dropping back down again and ramping
up and being slightly offset by like a week or two from your strength peaks so that you’ve
actually tapered the week prior in your conditioning work to your strength work.
So we’re not hitting conditioning hard all the time, which is a common, common, uh, misstep
that people make is going, well, I need conditioning.
So they just hammer that at a base level over the top instead of cycling that.
If we talk about powerlifting in terms of regimen, in terms of exercise, in terms of
the process, the wood consistent with what, is there something to be said about general
qualities of the consistency of the regimen required to get strong?
So let’s talk about some training principles as a whole.
And this will, I think this will break down what you’re, what you’re one, the more work
that we can fit into a given time, the more progress we’re going to make.
But that doesn’t mean doing the max amount of work possible at any given time.
So we know that we’re always to, to, to accomplish more, we’re always going to have more.
And there’s a certain ceiling that you’re going to hit that you’re not going to be able
to add more.
So you want to start and get the most amount of results that you can with the least amount
of work, because you’re going to have to do it again, like this stair step over and over
year, decade, so on.
So when people is a big miss, people got, they look at a Chico program from Russia or
so on and they go, I’m going to follow this.
It’s like that was specifically written for somebody with 20 years of experience that’s
already built the capacities to be at that level.
So it’s all about building that work capacity.
So how much work can you give in a given time?
So now we want to look at some research is it relates to injuries because injuries are
going to be a big driver over time of what holds you back.
So when we talk consistency, training hard for three years, five years, it’s going to
be really good.
But what we find is a lot of people train really hard for nine months, have to slow
back for a month, get back into it and miss another week because, and so on.
They’re always like this little nagging, that little nagging.
And so it’s pretty clear in the research we want to, we’re looking at when we’re stair
stepping this stuff, we’re looking at acute and chronic loading.
So some fancy words for average and like what’s happening right now.
So this given week would be our acute, chronic would be what is our average loading let’s
say over the last six months.
So the more that we can move the chronic loading up, the more work we’re getting done on as
a whole over time, we’re going to get stronger.
The way that we build the capacity to do that is having spikes in acute loading.
Now as we do this, the, the acute loading, if it spikes more than 10, maybe 15% from
what the chronic loading has been, that accounts for 80% of injuries out there.
So it’s not actually the movement quality or this misstep or the other may usually happens
about four or five, six weeks later, it’s like, Oh, this nagging and then it gets worse.
And then now you got to, you got to do some rehab, your training sessions aren’t as good
and so on.
So now we’re starting to look at this.
It’s like, I want to do the, I want to do the least amount of work where I can still
I want to be able to have spikes in my weekly demand that don’t go above 10 to 15% of what
I’ve been averaging for the last month.
But every time I do a spike, my, my average goes up, right?
Boom, boom, boom.
And then that becomes very particular also when you take, when you do take plantain time
So a lot of people, uh, training session, maybe they’re doing a five week block with
a, uh, a deload week or you go on vacation for a week or any of those things that were
What does that do to your average and chronic loading?
It brings it down.
And then what does the person want to do when they come back, make up for it.
Now they have a huge spike above five weeks later, we’re dealing with all this elbow,
this wrist, whatever’s kind of bothering me and now you’re not performing as much.
So these are some really fundamental pieces of, of, of, of training.
And then now we can start overlaying the qualities that we’re trying to develop that we were
talking about earlier.
So now it’s, let’s talk about my deadlift, my thousand pound deadlift.
We’ll talk about the training cycles for both the thousand deadlift and squat.
So backing up a year out from the deadlift, knowing I was training at the time, heavy
deadlifts once a week and usually it was two of those sessions a month were really heavy
and the others weren’t.
And it’s like, okay, how can we get this up to where I’m deadlifting twice a week?
Because that’s where I want to be, uh, to be able to accomplish this.
I need to be loading about that much with frequency, with a certain volume to be able
to accomplish this goal.
We’re not going to go through all the math and stuff like that and how that’s arrived,
but there is math behind this.
And so instead of just like, oh, well, let’s start deadlifting twice a week.
So we start and we take the one session that we’ve got and we split it, part of it, take
part of it away and put it in the second half of the week.
So the total volume is still the same.
And then, um, we start adding some volume, but I’m doing it at a off a block so that
the actual load is accumulative load is less cause I have less range of motion.
And then we start building that closer to the ground, closer to the ground and so on.
And now we start getting to where I’m almost doing two sessions, full sessions a week.
And then we start adding a little bit of load.
And so at my level, this isn’t talking about adding another set or another day a week.
We’re talking like in my squat, it might be one rep instead of doing three sets of three
at one week, I do two doubles or two triples, then two doubles to give me one more rep.
And so we’re doing that from one week to the next.
And that’s a cycle training cycle.
It might be five, six weeks and then so on and the next one and slowly bringing that
average load up.
So the last phases of the squat, for example, we took the average loading every week.
So my, of my heavy sets.
Once we developed all this stuff over the last year to get to this point, now it is
taking and going, okay, my average load this week is eight reps at nine hundred and fifty
And then the next week, let’s get it to nine, nine fifty seven, nine sixty three.
And this was pretty aggressive working up to where my average loading the final that
the final was nine hundred and eighty five pounds average load for eight to nine reps.
And that’s what I said.
This is the intense part.
This is the day of was much easier that week over week is pretty brutal.
May not sound well, you’re just squatting.
And now let’s back up.
Let’s look at the quality development.
So a year out from the squat, obviously, I’ve been working on developing axial load capacity,
my capacity to withstand load from top to bottom.
So I like thinking about things and movement vectors.
So this vector is an axial loaded vector is the hardest to recover from that was axial.
Like is deadlift, are they both or both?
So a horizontal front to back would be like a row or a press.
Why is the axial hardest to recover because it’s entire body, the entire entire body,
just anything that is that taxes the the spinal mechanics?
I don’t I could tell you my beliefs.
OK, we can just keep the discussion on that short like that.
Well, so we start looking at those different vectors that we’re training in.
And so this is why this is important to understand.
So I’m not just getting into nuance here.
So, hey, squatting is going to make me make me jump further because it’s legs.
Well, squatting is an axial load vector and jumping is a vector this way.
So actually, hip thrust would help with your and this is proven in science with your forward
They’re both working similar muscles.
The glute extension, but they’re working it in those different platforms.
So it’s really important to understand because people don’t understand.
I’m building my work capacity by doing sled process.
You’re not developing your work capacity for squatting.
Most movements, even ones as holistic as a as a squat, require specialization.
You can’t get strong at the squat by doing it.
You’re going to have some carry over, right, obviously.
But because taking an untrained person that hasn’t done it is still not going to do as
good as somebody that’s done nonspecific work, but done work.
So but yes, for the most part, to get truly strong, you need to specialize.
So but not all the time.
So now we talk about quality.
So and if we specialize in the same thing too long, we stagnate because the body adapts
to a certain point and just can’t make progress.
So we wanted to save the actual squatting in the pattern with the bar that I was doing
for the very end.
So starting a year out, I started doing work front squatting like a squat axial loaded
pattern and worked on maximizing that up.
Then I started shifting to doing transformer bar squat.
It’s this bar I developed that actually change manipulates spinal mechanics.
So I started loading in these more forward positions and being able again.
So now I’m getting closer than a front squat, but not quite squatting.
And then I would start adjusting that bar every training cycle to closer to a squat
toaster to a squat till it finally was right.
What’s the difference between a front squat and a regular like a back squat?
Like in terms of the stress on the body, the mechanics, was there something interesting
to be said about like how fundamentally different are they?
So it’s interesting.
People think about the weight and imposition to them like, oh, the bars in front of me,
the bars behind me, which is not the case.
The bar is above your midfoot.
The load is above your midfoot.
So we’re actually manipulating the spine behind the bar.
So we’re causing spinal uprighting behind the bar, getting in a more erect position,
which is going to change the relationship of the hip angle.
It’s going to change our ability to maintain the spine.
It’s going to change how much the core comes in, how hard it is to maintain that sternum
to diaphragm relationship that we talked about.
All this stuff starts changing.
So the bar stays in the same place.
Bar is still behind you, but the load moves around.
But we’re actually manipulating the spine around the load.
We can tailor it to an athlete, which is great when you got a seven foot plus tall baseball
player or basketball player.
That’s why we work with all these teams.
Anyway, so it’s like you’re taking something and getting closer and closer to it.
At the same time, we’re looking at the quality.
So like I needed to be able to really hold this torso position with the weight moving
Unlike the deadlift, the ability to manage this TL position becomes much more challenging.
So that was also why I was choosing the transformer bar, because it actually challenges that more
in those big forward positions.
I was also working on my back strength tremendously to be able to hold the maintain position.
So there was a lot of like I chose a bent over rows.
So bent over row is a mixed vector.
So it’s a forward to back.
So it wouldn’t have as much carrier, but it’s also got some axial loading component in it
So we’re working on that.
And then as we get closer and closer to competition, I’m developing those strengths.
But now I need to start tapering those out.
So all of my recovery needs can now go into the more specific that I’m actually ramping
the load up.
So as I’m ramping the load on the weight, I’m able to ramp it a lot faster because I’m
tapering out the other stuff.
So I can still keep my total load high, but now get it very, very specific.
So everything that I’ve done has always been kind of an annual training cycle.
And then again, this was like this was a five year training cycle, but we just kind of walked
through the last year of each and you can see how these concepts play out in reality.
So in the cycling.
So this is both for you, but also for more recreational strength athletes.
Let’s say there’s variety injected into this.
You need variety.
So you will basically stagnate at some level, right?
So you should always be kind of shifting a little bit.
So three to four month blocks in general for an average, you know, just a gen pop fitness
is pretty good where you’re going to spend more time maybe in a higher rep range or lower
rep range, a little bit more work on endurance capacity or maybe some more time.
Hey, I’m playing around with boxing or jujitsu or something like that.
Bring that a little bit more to the front for a while and bring the other out.
But like mixing mixing those variables up, but trying to keep the total load the same
and always kind of like, you know, do we add a little more?
Again, it doesn’t have to be major and it shouldn’t be major.
You don’t want these big jumps.
You don’t go, oh, my God, let’s move.
Let’s jump into squatting every day.
You’ve got to build the capacity to do that.
What role would you say strength has in sports that combine skill and strength?
So for me personally, maybe I’ll just ask it selfishly, which is grappling, wrestling,
How about I start with baseball?
Baseball and golf are two of my favorite sports.
You don’t have to be in shape at all to excel at those sports.
Well, here’s the thing.
There we go.
It doesn’t help.
I’m going to get this argument.
Well, I’ve got a perfect example, because this is why I sell so many Transformer bars
into the Major League Baseball.
So they get these people that come in, these athletes, that have been baseball their whole
It is part of the culture.
And so they’re great athletes.
They’ve got all this skill.
The only thing they have to do is develop a little bit more resilience so that they
don’t have the injury.
They can push their training a little bit more, that they can add a little bit more
force output and be able to recover from it.
So the only thing they’ve got to do is add some training.
But there’s no training culture there, so they don’t have any experience, which is why
they love the Transformer bar, because they don’t have to worry about teaching the technique.
We can actually set the bar on a setting that makes their squats perfect by cueing all the
stuff with actually not having to coach it.
Because when you’re coaching a roomful of athletes, it’s really hard to teach the nuance
of all this and not sure that all that.
But that’s all that they have to do with these players with a huge level of skill.
So once you reach a certain level of skill, adding strength is the only real forward path.
So that’s the basic, simple answer to that.
So one of the benefits there being injury prevention, actually.
Because especially fighting sports, you’re going to be challenged and thrown and other
things happen to you.
And the more resilient you can make your structures, the better you’re going to be.
Even a cyclist, mountain biking.
Why would they need it?
Why would they need to do upper body training?
Take a crash, your shoulder’s gone.
Your career’s over.
Unless you’ve done a little training.
So there’s value in all this stuff.
But the resilience, that’s huge.
And then we can overlay strength.
Where we miss is this focus on strength when we haven’t developed quality motor patterns
So this is a huge thing with children.
Because people want to know what’s the appropriate training age.
I’d have had my daughter training before my son.
Because she developed movement patterns that have better quality earlier.
There’s no age.
Because it’s going to be very dependent on the individual.
There’s no point in having adaptation if we don’t have the right thing to adapt to yet.
And that applies to general movement, but also to sport.
You’re saying the skills should be developed first and then the strength applied on top
Maybe you can educate me, but I actually quit lifting and powerlifting for a long time
after I started Judo, Jiu Jitsu, grappling, all this sort of combat sports.
Because I found that it was preventing me from relaxing my body enough to load in the
So this isn’t a problem with the training.
This is a problem with you.
So this is actually really, really important.
The first product I ever released was a loadable mace, a swinging mace.
And because every power lifter and body, well, not every, but most serious power lifters
and bodybuilders, like shoulders, mobility is pretty limited.
And most of them really, really struggle with this.
The problem is they’ve been taught to have tension all the time.
And that’s not good.
So when we talk about the joint positions that we were talking about earlier and having
those and the muscles in the right length and tension relationship, athleticism is the
speed to relaxation because the counter is speed to contraction.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
And so what a mace can do is use that because this ties back into a developmental kinesiology
because a lot of like reset patterns are getting back into these basic movements, but it’s
as much about relaxation as it is contraction.
So a mace, we have this weight on a big long lever.
So if I grab a kettlebell and this would be like the same movement as a kettlebell halo,
it is the same movement as a, but here in the halo, I’m on the whole time with the mace
at the proper length, with the right distribution, you cannot do the movement.
You could not move force your way through it.
The only way that you can accomplish that is by relaxing.
And then now we, now we can contract all the muscles related around that shoulder girdle
all at once.
We’re working on, off, on, off, on, off with moving and contracting.
And now, so what happens a lot of times as we, you know, this stiffness and tightness
So in four positions, we start using stabilizer muscles to do the movement.
And then that’s where this stiffness come from.
So it means that in some of whatever training that you’re doing, there’s a deficit in the
movement quality, okay.
Or there’s a deficit in the training program and you’re not recovering from an 80% of the
That’s the right answer.
But yeah, that’s where the, where the gap is and learning how to relax and the way a
lot of the exercises are taught and have been taught for a long time, which is why there’s
a big gap.
And this is why both clinical rehab and all these other components are mixed in my philosophy
and what I’m trying to do with Kabuki strength, because I’m looking at holistic movement.
I’m not looking at powerlifting based movements are what I want to load and be able to assess
But this affects all sports, all activities and strength doesn’t have to be that.
I mean, I’m freaking a thousand pound squatter and deadlifter.
If you watch any of my videos where I do like complete quad fallbacks, I don’t stretch at
I can usually get close to a full split.
Like if I want to.
No, I did not see those videos.
That’s, that’s hard to believe.
Well actually I do.
I just did one recently, a quad fallback with my, with my mace loaded way out to the end
torsioning on both ends of the other.
And like I do a lot of, I do a lot of weird stuff.
But squatting doesn’t make your hips tight.
Squatting like shit makes your hips tight.
And so, but there is no perfect world where always our training program isn’t quite perfect.
Our movement isn’t necessarily perfect.
Like so you’re going to have the needs for this stuff.
But if you’re always have to do some soft tissue work to loosen up the same one for
that exercise, to be able to get a joint in position, there is a problem.
And I’m not saying don’t do it, do it because I don’t want you to have a joint.
Like if I can’t get my shoulders in a position, I can’t do overhead presses because I’m going
to compromise my spine position.
Then I’m going to end up with some other problems.
So go ahead and clean that up so you can get in position, but go figure out why it is and
And then maybe next, you know, three, four months from now, they’re going to get a little
something else going on, fix it, but go understand the deeper root reason of why.
So I’m, I believe I am the only company manufacturing and selling, you know, fascial soft tissue
And I’ll tell you, I don’t want you to use them.
Cause it’s not helping you get to the why, why it was caused in the first place.
The goal, the goal, the perfect state is not having to use them.
Reality is you’re going to have to use them from time to time because the world’s not
So your discovery is a hundred percent on point.
Well there’s another side to combat sports when you’re beginning a particular combat
sport, strength can be a negative because human psychology, because you can get away
with a lot when you’re strong.
Yes, you can.
So if your mind is strong enough to where you can just turn off that advantage and be
a beginner, truly in a particular art, that’s probably the best way to do it.
But you can get away and then you don’t learn.
Uh, it’s hard not to use the little advantages you have because like jujitsu is a big hit
on an, on the ego for, you know, especially guys, you know, when like a smaller person
just destroys you, dominates you when you can, uh, I don’t know, deadlift whatever number
And uh, it’s hard not to use that strength to then resist the slow, the ultimate destruction
by like 120 pound, but that, and that’s why I recommend developing the skill quality first,
but it doesn’t, it doesn’t mean that you can’t, I can’t, you can still do it so that don’t
take it as a like, oh, I can’t go that direction.
But understand those things and then also understand the jujitsu is additional load
on the body.
So you have to, you can’t just add it on top.
You’ve got to taper back the other, you’re going to have to make a, I’m sorry, you may
not want to hear it, but you’re not going to be able to do as much and add that here.
It’s a compromise because your total volume still has to be there and there’s not, unfortunately,
not really a way to measure what the jujitsu volume is with this.
So you’ve got to take a look at that and that’s where like measuring like heart rate variability
or other stuff can be useful so you can see what is happening from me from a sympathetic
versus parasympathetic nervous system standpoint.
Making sure your body recovers sufficiently and trying to put numbers to it.
You mentioned Kabuki strength.
You run the Kabuki strength lab previously called the elite performance center in Oregon.
You called it the perfect gym.
What makes for the perfect strength training gym?
Where I called it the perfect gym?
In a video somewhere I watched.
I mean, that’s where my testing grounds for developing all this stuff was through the
And, and so this is, like I said, I started developing relationships with the best developmental
kinesiologist in the, in the U S the best, arguably the best or most well known physical
therapist in the world, the best spine biomechanist in the world.
I started doing continuing education with these clinical courses and learning this stuff
and going, but how does it work in my world?
And then I started lecturing with them and all this other stuff.
But the lab was like, where do we test this stuff?
And so let me get to a point.
There’s three things.
There’s always three things.
So to be a success, to achieve success, I believe there’s three things that really,
really come into place and it’s the right methodology, the right tools and the right
And so it was all about building that.
And so the methodologies came from a lot of that different, that gray area interaction
of clinical with sports science, right?
And then the tools I had to start creating and designing, and then the environment is
having this, you know, focused environment of people that want to do better and push
each other and having community and culture, right?
I ended up building these connections, this network, everything that I’m doing with my
businesses is trying to create that into a scalable fashion.
And so I’m building the groundwork because to have a system that like, yeah, I had clinicals
on site that knew exactly what we were doing.
And when it’s me and a few people in a small team and all this stuff, we’re all just like
easy to manage.
And you can see these, there’s other models around this.
So I’ve been other areas since maybe whenever it was I filmed that video that said that,
that they have that same model and it’s taken probably about a decade usually to develop
You know, and having the right people in this community, they can create this, this network
and the tool and all this stuff, right?
Except they still don’t have the best tools because Kibuki strength didn’t exist.
But but and so out of that was, is essentially I started building this business and people
like, when did you know how all this stuff was connected?
And I’m like, I don’t know.
I didn’t, I just started creating on the outset the things that worked until finally I’m like,
I’m recreating a scalable version of this stuff.
Here’s the methodologies and a coaching platform that we can manage clients around the globe
and see what’s working and not based on the scientific principles of training, right?
How do we create that into a database that now we can train new coaches and they can
use those same metrics and tools to create programs that are tailored to fit person’s
individual needs, right?
Now how do we integrate that with assessment and clinical care assessment and all these
So there’s a lot of work in that.
And so that’s where Kibuki strength is the genesis.
But we have, we call our gym the Kibuki strength lab.
Literally people find about our gym in the neighborhood and they’re like, how long have
you been here?
Why, why do I not know about this?
We don’t advertise our gym at all.
So like that makes no sense.
Well that’s because the only reason is to have a testing environment for the tools and
methodology and having enough people to have the culture and fit and to be able to be part
of the experiment.
What about the environment of the, the feel of it, the actual gym?
There’s a, I don’t know, a grunginess to it.
I recently became a member of planet fitness for, for reasons that have to do more with
the heat in Austin that sometimes I need to put in time in the treadmill.
I don’t like that.
I don’t have any judgment, honestly.
I don’t, the best gyms I’ve been in are kind of dirty.
You walk in and you know that work is to be done.
There’s not another reason to do there.
It is the, the environment is tight.
There’s a big piece of that.
I know it’s studied sociologically, I believe.
I just, I just pictured that word too, but the intensity, when you start growing a space,
the intensity drops.
And so I, I had that experience when we grew, we went from a 4,000 foot to a 9,000 square
foot gym at one time.
And everybody’s like, it doesn’t feel the same.
Like people are complaining for years.
We’ve shrunk it back down whenever down to 3,500 square feet.
And it creates that intensity.
It creates the closest, the connection with the people around you.
And then like I said, the grunginess, like you go in, you know, the intention when you
walk in that environment creates that tension.
But when I speak environment, it’s not just the, it’s not the physical, it’s the people.
But you know, when the gym is a little bit beat up, it also tells a story.
Like there’s a history to it.
You could tell that not only is there work to be done, that work has been done here.
Like battles have been fought.
There’s something to that where you’re just in a long line of people, you know, that fought
And we could get into a whole nother space, there’d be a whole nother topic, but that
existing energy of a space.
I mean, we mentioned offline, Joe Rogan, he talks about the same with comedy clubs.
There’s certain, there’s certain clubs that just have a history.
There’s an energy there.
You can get all woo woo, but you know, it’s there.
It’s a real thing.
I think you walk in and you can feel it.
You feel it.
That makes me feel that somehow all of us humans are connected in a ways that’s hard
to describe, even the ones who are no longer here.
Just the greatness that once was is still in the walls, in the space, present there.
And we somehow can plug into that energy.
It’s, we can go down a, go down a path there.
There’s something really powerful there.
You’ve also mentioned a bunch of cool equipment that you’ve developed as part of Kabuki Strength.
Probably a little bit of that has to do with your engineering education, but also just
generally with the spirit of the innovator that you are.
What are some cool, maybe revolutionary pieces of equipment that you’re particularly proud
of or just you’ve been obsessed with recently that you’re developing?
Love to talk about that.
So we’ve got some wild crazy stuff that just came out and is coming out too.
So everything that we create and release at Kabuki Strength, the industry hasn’t seen
There’s stuff that’s basic foundational.
It’s been around forever because it works, but there’s always more.
It could be better.
And why are we not looking at these things, these foundational things?
So when people are coming up with novel things, they ended up being way different outside
And I’m coming up with things that are way different that are plays on what we already
So we talked about the transform bar, the only bar in the world.
We can manipulate spinal mechanics.
We can, so everything, everything for me from a design concept that we develop is all about
creating products that can rapidly accommodate to the variability of an individual’s leverages,
mobility and training needs.
And that’s going to also create and distill down the size and scope of space that we need,
which is going to be, continue to be an ongoing thing.
Check out my Instagram after this and you’ll see, I put an entire gym on the bed of my
truck and went on vacation last week, drove to the desert and by entire gym, I mean a
squat rack, full compliment of our specialty bars, a horizontal and vertical pulley system,
handheld weights, shoulder rock, like a complete, an entire gym in product that took up the
space the size of this bed right here.
Because of the design scope of what we have.
So the cool thing is that there’s two other bars that fit our biomechanically sound barbell
We talked about the transformer bar.
The other two are built on this thing I called playground physics.
So we have these bars with handles that are off parallel with the axis.
So they’ve been around the market for a long time.
One is a hex bar or a trap bar.
Another one is a, it’s a pressing bar with the handles turned as well.
And both of them suck.
Any lifter knows if you pick it up, it’s going to break your wrist and crush into your face.
And it just, it just doesn’t feel good pressing, but it alleviates the strain on the wrist.
So people use it for that reason.
And the, the, the trap bar, same thing.
It’s always diving forward in your hand.
So it’s kind of limited.
It’s also limited in use because you can’t, you could do a lot more with it.
So these bars are really cool playground physics.
So as soon as the center of rotation is on the same axis as the center of mass and the
handle is off center, you have, you have a teeter totter.
So a teeter totter has a balance point, but it’s infinitely perfect.
So technically you can never find it.
So always going to be sitting on one side or the other in a playground.
And that’s what these bars are designed.
So you’ve got instability right here.
You can’t find the center of the bars.
It’s always trying to tip in your hands on the trap bar.
So you can’t do carries with it cause you’re doing for momentum and it wants to, it wants
to dip on you.
Um, the Swiss bar wants to crush your face.
Well, what do we do?
We just make a swing, but center of mass below center of rotation.
And what does it do?
Oh, it always finds center.
So, so the handles on the, our pressing bar it’s art.
So the handles are above center of rotation and then, and then every angle, instead of
just being a certain fixed angles, each angle is based on the width, the average width of
So the internal and external rotational bias is based of the shoulder is based on the width,
leaving just a little bit left because we talked about the lap being a stabilizer.
You still need to have a little bit of cue of external rotation to engage that as a stabilizer.
Now all of a sudden you have a bar and I kid you not, this is a great story.
Major league baseball.
When I presented it, every head strength coach for a major league baseball team, maybe not
every, but damn near most of them have bad shoulders.
They can’t press.
They’ve gotten shoulder surgeries, so on.
And so we’re showing them, they love all our stuff and I’m like, Hey, I’ve got this cool
prototype I want to show you.
It’s a pressing bar.
And they’re like, Oh, you know, major league baseball is a little hesitant on pressing
because the dangers for the shoulder and I can’t, I haven’t been able to take a bar to
I mean, I’d really love to.
It’s been five years since I’ve, I’ve been able to to XX train and I’m like, just try
Put a bar on my chest without pain.
I’m like, just try it.
Put it in there.
Ooh, that feels good.
Now the arc makes it actually three inches deeper.
So people are automatically scared.
I can’t do that.
Cause that’s an extra range of motion.
Like, Ooh, put a plate on there.
They’re doing it.
By the time the staff’s like, they’re all standing around, you see like, what’s going
Put two plates on.
You see the, just like he gets up.
How do you feel like, I feel fine.
No pain at all.
I did this with five teams with five of the, it happening repeatedly five times that they
and every one of them worked up to two plates and did reps varied with zero pain to a three
inch range or greater range of major.
Cause what did we do?
We stacked all the joints and we provided stability at the end that we balanced internal
and external rotation.
I mean just basic playground physics and it changed the game.
Now we get a greater range of motion with a greater training effect with the negative
Our trap bar opened up one side, which there was already some like that out there created.
It pops up so you can pick up, take the weights on and off.
It’s got a built in Jack and then created the high handle position, which already did.
Everybody uses the high handle on a trap bar.
They just don’t know why they like it.
The handle that’s on center, we offset just a little bit, not enough to make a difference
on the range of motion lift or even notice visibly, but it still has the same effect.
So both handles now have that.
We added the option of different handle sizes based on whatever your needs are.
One that rolls to develop a grip and then different widths that you could choose from
based on whether you’re training a teen athlete or a seven foot six NBA player or a NFL lineman
so that we can accommodate for all these differences.
Now it becomes the most functional all around bar around because now you can do carries
You can do split squats with it.
You could do curls with it because it goes around the body.
You can do overhead presses because you don’t have a thing that gets in your way and you
can flip it up into position.
You can do bent over rows and not run into your shins.
You can do seal rows off of a bench.
You can do ab rollouts.
You could, should I go on?
So you can use it as like the main bar.
The best multi purpose bar around.
You got a home gym, one bar.
Like how do you develop totally new equipment like this?
I scratch it on paper.
Maybe weld some cut up and weld up a prototype, but usually I just hand the scratched up paper
to my engineering manager and that’s what he says his job is to distill my chicken scratch
into something real and then that team picks it up.
But in the old days, starting out, I just walk out, I just walk out and do it.
You talk about engineering.
I’m actually more, I work more of an artist fashion.
It’s in my head and I just go create with no plans.
And so they have to pick that up and actually do the engineering and testing and all that.
And then we got two other products came out this year.
Are you familiar with training with a flywheel?
No, no, it’s a flywheel.
A flywheel is a spinning object that creates an inertial mass and then it reverses direction.
So whatever you put into it and there’s ones out there.
But ours is the first patent pending.
That’s all everything all in one unit.
So it’s a floor based as well as a horizontal.
So you can basically do any pulley movement in the world.
And now everything that you put into it on a concentric force, it whips right back as
a peak centric load.
So there’s an accelerating whipping motion.
It just yeah, basically, yeah, I mean, okay, I have to have trouble imagining exactly many
of the things you’re describing, I suppose, have to be experienced, right?
Because there’s a magic and there’s a lot of research.
They’ve been around.
They’re adopted more heavily in Europe, quite heavily in Europe, but not as much in the
US because they sell them as a be all end all tool, which they’re not.
They’re crazy for what they do, but it’s not the it’s another tool.
And so we have a very high quality unit now that is half the cost of everybody else’s
because the innovation of a movable mount point that you for them, you have to have
two pieces of equipment.
We have one.
So and then a few other things, better platform to be able to do things and that we can do
what we call off platform work, which allows us to do movements like punches and standups,
things like that.
And then I’ve got a handheld weight coming out next month that we can actually play with.
So varying the load with it, never leaving your hand by changing the leverage point.
And so what do we think?
What exercise are we talking about here?
Anything that would be a dumbbell or a kettlebell movement.
So it functions, it does the function of a kettlebell, a dumbbell and what we call a
center mass bell, as well as provides variable loading within a range.
So how can you change like how can you change the load?
Well, we don’t actually change the load.
We change the torque on the on the joint that we’re working, which is the same.
That’s actually what is creating the force.
So if I’m doing a front raise, it’s where this this downward force is times the distance
Which also then makes it no force when I’ve got at the bottom of the front raise, which
is why it’s so easy with this.
It’s like a kettlebell.
It’s offset, except it has three different handles.
But it’s offset just that a kettlebell, you can’t do it because the offset so far it becomes
a wrist movement.
So ours has three different sizes and the offset just enough so that you can pick.
If I put it in a front raise position or curl position, I could put it in outward position
and the force is almost what it is at the at the top.
Then I get the top and it’s the same exact or the curl.
So I can actually change the force curve in the movement and then I can just release the
pressure a little bit and let it swing into position and keep doing a drop set with never
letting it down.
So it’s got a really nice texture grip that allows you to hold it in different positions.
And then the load offset is just enough that it doesn’t overpower the wrist.
And then you’ve got different hand sizes so that you can maximize this relationship and
hit whatever joint that you’re applying.
So sounds incredible.
It’s really freaking well, it’s awesome because you can because the variable load.
Now I could go straight from front raises to side raises or rear or curl because without
like because I don’t have to put it down.
So now my time under tension goes through the roof.
And by the way, the same effect with a flywheel trainer because the variable whatever you
put into it is what it kicks back.
So you have a constant time under tension because there’s no rest points either.
So all this stuff is working on maximizing time under tension, which anyway, it’s cool
Anyway, I get excited.
Well, let me ask you about another thing you’ve already mentioned, but I find this really
interesting, which is barefoot running and you’re sort of a company, Barefoot Athletics.
And the tagline is optimizing the human to ground interface.
We’ve talked about this a little bit with the power lifting.
How do you think about the the foot ground interface?
It’s interesting that we know that we should train all these parts of our body to be able
to be stronger, be more resilient.
But we think that the foot is different, that we need to package it and modify it.
And somehow that that’s the science of making it healthy where I challenge people think
Like first thing you do in the morning is roll out of bed and put your weightlifting
belt on and wrap it on tight and wear it till you go to bed at night.
Do it with your shoulders, your knees, wake up and put some knee wraps on an elbow wraps
and see what happens.
Then you’ll get weaker, you’ll lose movement capacity and you’ll start affecting other
areas of the body very negatively because they will start picking up the compensation
for those joints that are not moving properly.
This is it.
What shoes are for is to protect you from the environment, from cuts and abrasions and
heat and things like that.
But the foot, let me the mind blowing is like every other area of the body.
You need to use it and you need to strengthen it and you need to learn to control it.
That’s all I have to say about the subject.
It’s that simple.
But somehow we have been sold entire industries like the orthotics industry.
It’s completely false.
Meta analysis of the data shows that orthotics do nothing beyond temporary relief from pain
over a six, eight week period of time and provide no long term benefit.
And I can’t tell you how many people I’ve eliminated back or knee or hip pain from getting
from working on strengthening and controlling the foot and ankle complex.
We believe we’ve villainized and said a low arch is a condition that needs fixed.
Like when it really is just controlling the foot and ankle complex and how they relate
to each other and how we use that.
Is it like go put on boxing gloves in the morning and do that for the next 20 years
and see what happens.
It’s not about finding the right shoe that fits because your foot has been deformed.
And so I’m not like some wacky go like, oh, you got to be barefoot forever.
Do this like, no, I’m just saying go spend some time using it, strengthen it, learn to
control it and you will work better in a shoe.
But the whole running shoe movement with the raised heel, that was the person that that
suggested that that in to Nike way back when they were trying to figure out what to do,
the reason, and he says it’s, it’s the worst thing that he ever did.
Because we were coming from an era of people wearing heeled shoes, which by the way came
from stirrups way back in the day.
That’s where the whole heel came from is to go into stirrup, but then it went into fashion.
And then the running craze started coming around in the seventies.
They’re they’re starting to push this, the general mass population.
And they realized that they were causing injuries and like, what are we going to do?
Well, that’s because everybody was in this position and had a shortened, a shortened
And it’s like, well, the work around, let’s just put a heel on it so we don’t injure them.
And now because the raised heel, you got to raise the toe.
And then now with that, if you go stand on something and pull your inner toe in and in
a squat position, just reach down and do it.
You’ll see that you have no control over internal or next door and rotation of your, of, of
You don’t and, or your foot and you actually have to put a support in for the arch to be
able to passively control those structures.
It’s just bandaid on top of bandaid on top of bandaid.
Use it, strengthen it.
If you want to wear some shoes cause they look good or fancy, I’m like, I have no problem.
I mean, I go out on a wife.
My wife will put on some high heels every now and again.
But all I’m saying is use your foot.
My thousand pound squat, my thousand pound deadlift, we’re done barefoot.
I’m not trying to sell you shoes.
Go do it with no shoe.
That’s what I’ve been promoting.
I did that for six years and I promoted it, but people ask me like, well, what do I do?
Because my gym requires shoes.
What do I go?
And uh, and then I go, well, you know, you could pick up these other finger shoes or
whatever and they go, man, my wife won’t have sex with me if I do that.
And I go, I know mine either.
Like trust me, I’m not making this up.
Basically in that market markets to one segment and they’re still missing some gaps because
they, they still have a little bit too narrow of a toe box.
And if you’re lifting, you have the opportunity to really get that splay and start working
on this stuff better.
So, um, I just wanted to create a shoe.
These ones are odd colored cause it’s a partnership with Kabuki.
Normally we’ve got a black or a gray, uh, low top, high top sticks to the ground for
lifting so we can do that and very pliable.
It’s a moccasin.
It’s a modern day moccasin, but looks okay that you can wear it around in other areas.
If you, if you so choose, like, you know what the number one healthcare costs in America
What’s that diabetes, uh, heart disease, cancer, low back pain.
Now, what do you attribute a little back pain to?
Well, it’s attributed to a lot of things, um, but inability to control spinal position,
um, which starts happening from, uh, some breathing issues.
Uh, it also happens from the foot.
Um, so there’s a lot of stuff, but everything that I do actually focus on improving this.
Uh, that, and it all starts with this is one thing, like this doesn’t affect breathing,
but, um, so it does actually affect breathing to some extent and spinal stabilization.
So the raised heel and toe will make you stride further, um, because of just how it operates,
but that overstride is a result of opening this.
So we opened the pelvis and diaphragm.
Did we talk about that and the impact that that has for controlling and spine?
I think we touched on that.
Um, but it, it’s all this stuff plays together.
So the gait affects that.
And so the shoe affects the gait and then, so it’s all connected.
Let me be very purposeful with some conversation here though.
We’ve talked about periodization.
This was a big gap.
So, um, people go, yeah, well when people started running with those, they started having
injuries back when, uh, the finger, uh, company produced those and didn’t do the education
around this very simple concept.
You do not walk into the gym if you haven’t squatted and start squatting 225 from, from
max recs every week, day or every day over day.
And that’s what people did because they didn’t weren’t told that you need to build the capacity
to do this.
You go wear these and walk around in your office or wherever all day long, your feet
are going to hurt.
They’re going to be sore.
Do it for 10% of your time.
Do that for a month, then add some.
That will build the capacity to do this.
And then that’s going to start having the ability to strengthen, manage the foot.
And there’s a whole lot of other stuff.
I’ve got videos on things that you can do by whatever you want or just, just spend some
time out of them.
Like, that’s all that I want people to do because it is so simple and it has such a
Yeah, it does.
I, what I did, uh, I noticed when you walked out, when I walked in, I was like, Oh, Hey,
you’re spending some time without the last shoes on.
Uh, well, what I did, um, I think it’s already now two years ago and I was doing a lot of
I do like a 10 mile run.
I would take my shoes off for the last like half mile and I run like that.
And that was for me really helpful to ensure that I have proper form.
Form that minimizes pain on the way I run.
I still like shoes.
I benefit a lot from shoes, the protection they provide, but it’s for running we’re referring
to, uh, especially trail running and so on.
And in the city when there’s glass and all those kinds of things, uh, but it’s really
important to have minimal sort of protection on your feet.
For me, at least it was to figure out the ways that my form basic movement and like
the positioning in the foot, the impact of the foot and everything, you know, the, the,
the lower leg, the entirety of the torso, really how it’s improperly positioned in
terms for the objective of minimizing pain and the barefoot running really helped fix
that for me.
Cause I figured out that I need to take shorter steps, more frequent, you know, all those
kinds of things.
And that really helps you figure that out.
Like let’s be realist about stuff, like, um, spend some time using it, strengthen it.
And I’ve got some great ways to do that and learn how to do that.
What is a good diet for strength development?
I’ve just to give you some context, I’ve been eating mostly meat, not for strength, mostly
for mental performance.
I just enjoy it.
You need to have a base level of protein building blocks for tissue, right?
We need to have enough fats to be able to have hormones work and key processes in the
We need to have, well, you don’t need to have from a performance aspect carbohydrates necessarily
because the other ones can convert into injury sources, but for a performance athlete, carbohydrates
can be very beneficial, uh, as well.
So, um, so I look at it as you want, you need a base level fats, you need a base level of
proteins and then you adjust the carbohydrate intake based on the needs.
I’m not anti carbohydrate by any means, um, cause a lot of people will, they look at me
now when they see like how lean I am and they, they jump to a conclusion, you must be keto.
You must be carnivore.
You must be whatever.
Like, so losing and gaining weight is simply eating less or eating more.
I mean it, ah, and it, we get so complicated.
Oh, that my fat, they’re like, what’s your fasting window?
If I’m, if I’m doing fasting, it’s just because it works with my, my environment.
Sometimes I do it.
Sometimes I don’t.
All that does is control how much calories that you take big success with keto and carnivore
A lot, uh, and, and put on weight with those, with those diets, um, you know, protein actually
has a thermogenic effect.
And so you have to have a massive amount of fats if you have a only meat diet because
you can literally starve to death.
There’s a, there’s a show where they put people out in the wilderness and this guy, the one
that won, one of the ones I looked on, they threw him way like up in the, uh, uh, past
a lot, you know, out the way out there, there was nothing, but he somehow got a caribou
and killed it.
And he still lost a pound a day for 30 days with the caribou because his fat was stolen
by a, uh, uh, and, and he could eat all the meat he wanted and then he almost got pulled
because his weight loss.
Um, but that isn’t actually a performance.
So those types of keto and carnivore are not performance diets.
So they’re not going to be as effective at supplying, uh, the energy needs for high capacity
So don’t get me wrong.
I mean, you can be a successful, like elite athlete with a, with a vegan diet, but it’s
not as easy to do it with other diets.
So on you’re missing some base nutrients, so many nutrients and meat, I believe, uh,
having greens in your diet is really beneficial.
Lots of research, but there’s people in the other worlds that argue that they don’t need
them, but they help clear organs, provide micronutrients, all this sort of stuff.
So I eat simply a whole well rounded diet.
And I’ve gone from, I can go from 285 pounds squat and a ton of weight to eating less and
dropping all the way down to, you know, seven, 8% body fat with veins standing out everywhere
without a tissue on me, just with amazing, great tasting food to lose weight or be healthy
does not mean that you need to eat flavorless bland food.
So that’s the main thing I try to get across.
Eat less to lose weight.
Eat more to gain weight.
Make sure that you’ve got enough protein.
Make sure that you’ve got your micronutrients covered, which is going to cover by eating
Don’t go low fat, no fat.
If you want a performance, don’t go no carb, but if it works, any of those things.
So diet approach, when you look at diets, understand that they’re how aggressive they
So like keto can make you lose a lot of weight.
Carnivore can make you lose a lot of weight.
A lot of that upfront is actually dropping glycogen stores.
So you’re actually just reducing water in your muscle and fat tissue.
So which is why it doesn’t, isn’t as great for a performance diet.
But understand that every diet also has a level of discipline and does it fit your lifestyle?
So I suggest people don’t find a diet.
You need to find a lifestyle because that’s what sustainable, I hate the word diet to
But behaviors are sustainable and then do that and then over time the things you’ll
get to where you need to get.
Diet itself, just by the name of it is not sustainable because it is a short term thing
to get somewhere.
Yeah, I tend to try to measure it because I definitely have a love heat relationship
I tend to look back and say like by following this particular protocol, lifestyle, whatever,
what was the level of happiness?
So not like weight loss or weight gain or all those kinds of things.
It’s the entirety of the picture, productivity, just feeling good throughout the day, socially
also, like interacting with people.
Because so much of a human connection, like I mentioned before, is over food.
And if you’re going to limit yourself in that regard, you’re limiting a certain fundamental
aspect of life.
A number of years ago, I did like 20 to 22 hour fasts every day.
And I’m like, well, this doesn’t work.
I can’t do business lunches and stuff like that.
So when I was in my fasting thing, I went to a 16 so I could have a light lunch just
for the social aspect of it and perform that.
And then that’s why the typical bodybuilding, like the eight meal a day diet has never worked
for me because I’ve always been a very bit like trying to fit that between meetings and
What that diet provides is it just you get less bloat in distention of a larger meal.
But at the end of the day, you get the same exact results.
Pick a lifestyle, live that you can have really great tasting food.
And that to me is the same thing.
And this is why I’m like really hitting this point, because also with the dieting and like
the approach like, oh, I’m going to do this and people pick these chicken and broccoli
recipes and guess what?
You’re going to break.
If you do not, if you do not enjoy it, you will break.
So it is a very important point.
Well, I also slightly push back or maybe to elaborate, if you don’t enjoy moderation,
for me particularly, I have trouble moderating certain things, most foods, I would say.
So my source of happiness comes with foods, even if they’re bland, the ones that can enjoy,
but enjoy moderation.
So there’s, I mean, I enjoy every piece of food.
So it’s like, it’s if you can enjoy the full lifestyle, it’s not just the particular experience,
but like the full journey.
Does it fit your lifestyle?
So let me ask about a complicated topic that’s sometimes a bit controversial, which is steroids
and maybe TRT, testosterone replacement therapy.
What role does that play in strength training?
We’re going to go there.
Let’s go there.
But it’s an important discussion to have.
I think that it’s something that I can be more transparent on.
In my past, I wasn’t able to do to the career that I had.
So just like covering that stuff in a, you know, one of the, on a public forum when you’re
highly looked at being an executive for recruiting and other stuff, like it was an area I had
to just kind of pass on, right?
Now I’ve used steroids.
I’ve used them since I was 33 and I basically just use TRT now after my big squat.
So for 10 years I used them and there’s some interesting components to this.
So one is just the gray area of what we call performance enhancing supplements.
So performance was a PEDs that the line of what defines a PED is ever shifting and it’s
shifting based on society norms, cultural norms, government body agencies, all these
sorts of stuff.
So I’m not making excuses here.
So I just want to elaborate before I actually start digging into the details here because
performance enhancing, I could take sodium bicarbonate and enhance my ability to perform
deadlifts for reps.
I did that for my Guinness world record for deadlifts in a minute.
People do it for rowing or other, they use a high capacity type stuff.
It is performance enhancing.
It is a chemical, it is baking soda, all right?
They’re not able to make it illegal because everybody eats bread, well, not everyone.
And so it’s a little hard to test for no matter what you do at any level.
So that’s an extreme example, but other examples, you’re drinking an energy drink in that cup
there a little while ago and in America you can get an energy drink with 240 milligrams
of caffeine in it.
In Canada, that’s too dangerous.
You can only get 140, but you can go buy a ephedra and ephedra is illegal in America.
And so these things bounce back and forth all the time.
I could take Yohimbi and in Europe or Australia, it is a drug and classified and America, it
It’s an herbal root in a lot, I actually have one of my supplements except for the overseas
Anyway, the point I’m getting is no matter what you do at some point, by someone’s standards,
you are cheating.
And because it is, you’re taking something that, but you could work around these things
with nutritional ways or other ways versus taking a chemical strip and there’s whole
lots of ways to do this, but it’s like, oh no, it’s steroids, it’s not, it’s injectable,
So somewhere there’s a culture or a person that will say you’re cheating no matter what.
So it’s a self defined, you need to define it for yourself unless you’re competing in
an organization that has testing, then it’s a straight ethical thing and it’s either right
or wrong in my opinion.
That’s kind of the overall dilemma of it is if you want to see what you’re totally capable
of, you have to decide yourself what’s okay or not to that level.
There is no body that can say something yes or no.
When there’s an event like the Olympics, maybe then you have a standard that you’re all trying
to adhere to and then it makes sense to keep a certain, like to be within, there’s an ethical
So yeah, I’m not talking about that, I’m agreeing to compete in this by these rules.
Yeah, but when you’re trying to maximize your own performance, whatever that journey is,
whatever that goal is, that’s a different story and it’s not easy to figure that out.
You’re just like dancing around the subject, whatever.
Well guess what, I’ve got a prescription for growth hormone and testosterone.
It’s legal for me to take and you know what?
A lot of the people that are in front of the camera in the media, politicians and news
people and the people that are there saying the no drug stuff, they’re going to anti aging
clinics to look better and they have a prescription for growth hormone and testosterone themselves.
But in their eyes, it’s okay.
It is a prescription from their doctor because they have the money to do it.
So it’s legal and it’s fine.
If I is interesting in Oregon, anybody and I don’t know what other states over the age
of 16 can without parents permission by the way, walk into a gender clinic and as a female
and get a prescription for testosterone.
But as an athlete, if I’ve got low testosterone, I am so flow, I’ve got depression, I can’t
have sex with my wife.
It’s affecting my quality of life.
I will have to fight tooth and nail to get testosterone just as a prescription and then
I will get kicked out of my organization for competing.
So you understand how gray this stuff gets.
Do you think the stigma on testosterone is the reason we’re not having like a healthy
conversation about when it’s proper?
Like what are the proper uses of testosterone in an athlete’s life and just the regular
And it’s just, it’s like anything.
It’s like I said, it is lines that we pick and draw.
Anytime you put that out there, people are going to have different opinions where those
So now when it comes to strength, here’s an interesting thing.
In powerlifting, there’s tested federations and non tested federations.
So we can literally look at the statistical data and actually find out what do steroids
And so it’s pretty clear that steroids provide about a 10% increase in strength on average
Now that does take out the fact that steroids will put you in, allow you to put on more
mass so you’ll go up a weight class a lot of times.
So as a whole, you could definitely lift more probably than the 10% over time, right?
And then we think about steroids as the ability to just put on muscle.
And here’s where things get a little interesting, even with people that use steroids is not
understanding the neurological impacts that steroids have.
Because you could take some steroids right now and be stronger in 10 minutes.
That’s clearly not done anything, you know, from a physiology standpoint to make you stronger.
But we have a tapped in neurologically to to elicit those games.
And there’s a whole lot that happens neurologically.
Like how much science is there in terms of all the different ways you could take steroids,
which kinds of steroids, the timing, the dose, the all of those things to develop the neurological,
the physical, the skeletal, like all the, you know, you’ve talked with such depth about
the science of strength building in terms of form, in terms of the equipment that you
It seems like a component, you know, the use of steroids should be an equal level of scientific
rigor when applying them.
Now, the research is harder to get because of what it is.
But there is a lot of research that was done when they were legal.
So they were legal up in through the through, I think, the mid 80s.
And so a lot of the classical high, high benefit to low risk steroids were studied.
And then since then, there’s a lot of like designer steroids or new steroids that have
come up that don’t have a lot of research around safety and risk and things of that
And we can’t do that because it’s, you know, because of the legality around these things.
But some of the stuff on the neurological function is really just understanding how
that chemical structure works and what it’s doing to the neurotransmitters, what it’s
And so some of it is is really talking to people that have experience with it.
And the other is understanding those structures and what they do.
The neurological component, I think, is more interesting than than most, because the most
steroids act through increasing muscle protein synthesis.
That’s how you add more muscle is they have an anti catabolic effect and they have a muscle
protein synthesis enhancing effect.
So it reduces the amount of muscle that you waste and increases the amount of muscle that
you put on.
But the neurological component is is tremendously valuable for what it can do for your training
Like if I handle more load over time, I’m going to make more progress.
If I can actually just stimulate more neurological effects for a specific event, it’s going to
have an impact.
But there’s other ways that you can tap into this, too.
Things that you can tap into mentally with great practice, with meditation and other
stuff that will have the same effect.
People probably think I’m over speaking, especially steroid users that are listening to this.
Well, at least I’m talking out my ass, but I’m not.
Because I I have experience with this stuff on both ends.
And some of those areas, a lot of people don’t have the experience with that.
What I’ve kind of heard from people is the confidence that comes with steroids.
It feels like not to call it placebo, but it seems like the psychological benefits of
steroids is huge and that you feel like there’s a confidence that seems to be coupled with
the actual biological and chemical effects.
I have actually a neurological condition.
So I actually don’t feel a lot of that stuff that people because there are certain steroids
that like people like you’re like very extreme ones, like that would make somebody bite someone’s
ear off in a fight, for example, almost like aggression that and they literally do nothing.
I’m like always just chillin and I don’t like that effect.
But but neurologically, they’re still having those effects, but I don’t get those feels
that other people have from those.
But yes, there’s that immediate boost in aggression and a confidence and stuff that come with
a lot of those ones that deal on the neurological overall as good sense of well being, just
like from being on testosterone, like it’s going to affect your mood.
And it’s interesting.
So testosterone replacement therapy, if we walk down that path now and kind of switch
gears, you know, we find that men today have declining testosterone over what has historically
been in the past.
So right now, I think a thirty five year old testosterone is shown to be about half what
it was just 50 years ago.
So I don’t know if we could argue the point.
We don’t really have the science to validate any of it, but it could be society as far
as the impact that it’s having on the mental health for men.
It could be the the estrogens floating around in the water from all the chemicals and birth
control and all this sort of stuff could be a lot of things.
But it is a fact that average testosterone is significantly lower and that is going to
end up affecting life, quality of life, as well as your longevity, because it will affect
But on the other end, steroids and TRT, particularly steroids, come with a lot of negative health
benefits, not benefits, a lot of negative health ramifications.
And so, you know, if I knew what I know now, I don’t know that I would have gone that path.
I didn’t till I was thirty three, which is kind of an outlier for a strength athlete.
I was I was a four times body weight deadlifter, eight hundred plus pounds at one ninety eight.
And it’s pretty dang strong before I went down that path.
And that’s because I wanted to see what I was capable of.
But I was reaching a point that it was either I need to do that or not.
My testosterone, my natural testosterone levels were actually I think below 300 is actually
So I was being told to go on TRT for the last couple of years, probably just because I was
pushing so hard and the stress level was driving my test down.
So it was self imposed more than likely.
But I put it off because I wanted to set all the drug free records and I set the ones that
And then it was thirty three.
I’m, you know, entering the age category and I’m like, I’m going to go on TRT.
I did not feel like I should be with TRT personally.
My ethical standard was I shouldn’t be competing in tested events anymore.
There are federations that will allow you with your you show up with your script and
you do your test and you’re below a certain level, but you’re still on.
But for me, I’m like, that’s not you.
So I’m like, I may as well at this point use steroids.
But since then, you know, understanding all those ramifications, you know, I might not
have gone down that route quite so fast and easily.
But I continued because I also have a lot of resources that other people don’t and being
able to assess and understand and put things in place to mitigate that.
So you need to be.
And the other thing is, once you go on, it’s literally a decision for life.
Not just but realistically is because your your quality of life, your feeling is going
to be enhanced quite a bit and you’re not going to want to go back.
And if you go back, it’s going to be less than it was before.
That’s how the endocrine system works.
There are ways to try to recover and bring that up, but it might be a while.
And if you’ve been on for a while, it definitely is not an option.
So those are big things that people need to understand that you’re going to have some
things in there.
And even TRT has some potential, especially at higher levels, that it’s going to, you
know, increase the risk for prostate cancer.
It’s going to potentially cause some hypertrophy of the left ventricle of the heart and some
potential plaque buildup of some of those key arteries around there that’s going to
have an impact on your cardiovascular health.
There’s things that you can do again, but everything is like the shoe story, right?
Where I’m anti anti shoe, but I’m going, well, we could put band aids on this.
But there’s a quality of life that comes with it, the increase in quality of life.
And if you do it correctly, I think for me, for me, I definitely would not live without
TRT, even with knowing what I know now.
It this age and the quality of life and being able to be there, have the energy, the recovery.
That’s a big thing where all this, though, I talked about muscle protein synthesis and
anti catabolism as being big drivers.
But recovery is the other big aspect that they that they offer probably as a result
of those, but that’s going to those are going to be the big enhancement.
So just doing steroids, steroids is going to increase all the other stuff that you do.
So if you if you have good training, if good diet, good quality of sleep, like all this
other stuff, then you can take advantage of that.
But you could choose steroids and nobody would know.
And honestly, you go down to 24 hour fitness and you’ll see a bunch of, you know, late,
you know, 19 to 21 year old kids that are all kind of red and one hundred and fifty
pounds that look like that don’t look like anything.
And they’re a bunch of them will be using steroids because they’re not like.
So it’s it’s not the it’s not going to make a champion, like you said, it’s not going
to at most.
I was already at an elite level.
I was one of the best in the world before I started using it doesn’t it doesn’t do that.
It does a 10 percent increase at best.
And that’s proven in the statistics, which is interesting because most people don’t know
Like it the data is right there.
And that’s why I’m often saddened by maybe the negative view of somebody like Lance Armstrong,
who is one of the greatest athletes in history and everybody else that he was competing against.
I hate to blow anybody’s bubble.
But regardless, if I told you my ethical pieces with saying that you’re going to be at something
at an elite level.
You look at most a lot of those big figures out there.
When their income in your life relies on it, yeah, you’re going to push those limits.
So maybe maybe my ethical would change if if if I was in that position, too, because
here’s the thing where I believe like someone is.
I think people should avoid steroids.
TRT, probably something worth taking a look at what your levels are when you’re in the
thirty five to forty five range and see what decision you decide to make from there.
And that’s a decision that you make for the rest of your life.
The only times that you should be taking a look at steroids is if it’s it’s funding your
It’s creating that it is your job and it’s doing like and honestly, it was for me.
I so was it the only thing?
If you want to get into neurology, it’s neurotransmitters and alcohol is really interesting discussion
on performance enhancement.
So when I lift heavy and so I always promote it, like not more than a drink or two, like
once or twice a month is what all I’m talking about when I’m what I’m saying.
So what’s the timing of the drink?
Are we talking about three to five minutes before?
And we’re talking about beer.
It doesn’t matter the the source.
So I shots are the easiest.
You want something that is not going to have some sort of regurgitory effect or bloating
effect or anything like that, but you want to have the quick hit of energy.
So it’s a preferential energy source moves above ketones, carbs, everything at seven
calories per gram.
But then there’s some really interesting things that happen, spikes blood pressure, which
is going to make weights feel lighter.
So when you’re in your early 20s and you’re trying to hit up, you know, some attractive
person at the bar, you’re with your buddies and you’re like, you know, and you got second
Oh, should I?
And they go, have a shot of liquid courage and you have one.
And all of a sudden the second thoughts, the second guessing all that drops away.
Like you’re focused in the moment and you walk over and you actually perform a little
better like conversation wise than you normally would.
Now if you have five or six and then go over, you’re gonna make a fool of yourself.
So it’s all about timing and amount.
But there is a reason that that happens.
So anyway, I’m known for promoting this whiskey and deadlift concept.
I love this.
But it works.
It’s like the Eastern block.
That’s where it came.
That’s where I stole it from.
Because I was watching all these Russian lifters would have a shot of vodka or something before
they go lift.
And I’m like, there’s something here.
So I started experimenting with it and I’m like, that works.
And then I started researching.
Nobody talks about this stuff.
So it takes a while to start piecing together all the stuff that actually happens to make
But it moves away the things that you’re going to, the concerns about the ramifications in
the future and the other stuff.
So the, um, but brings you into the moment and then the dopamine hit and the other, and
then it enhances whatever mood that you’re in.
But all of a sudden you get in the state much easier.
And so it’s really, really interesting, but it’s very, it’s a very small amount needed
and very time sensitive, but it can be so much more powerful than like drugs people
use for this stuff.
It ties really together with meditative state and other pieces to, to, to get you into that
flow state, those thoughts about failure, what if, what, like all that you, you get
into that zone, that moment, that time anyway.
An alcoholic is promoting out, you know, but there’s an important point here, which not
often talked about.
I think it is fascinating that because you can get into so much trouble with alcohol
when used in excess, people don’t often talk about the, the positive aspects of alcohol,
even in your college years.
It had a, it had a lasting effect on who I am as a person.
I don’t think people give enough credit to the positive aspect.
See, you could have accomplished a lot of those same things with a little more moderation,
which I think people should talk about more, which is like the way to open up a personality,
like the flowering of the full character and the weirdness and the, the, the, like the
beauty of who you are as a human being could be opened up with alcohol.
And that’s really interesting to think about.
You should try some podcasts with a, with a shot and, and these, I do this sometimes
with myself and guests and it will change the conversation, lubricates the conversation.
Definitely not the excess and which is what I learned because I went all the way in because
I do everything at extremes.
So it was a really hard lesson that took me a lot of time to unwind, but it is interesting
and people don’t discuss those things because it’s, it’s either this or this.
You’re one of the greatest strength athletes of all time.
So it’s worthwhile to consider how you optimize the, the feats of strength that you reach
for with things like steroids.
It makes perfect sense and I think that was a, from my perspective, I think it was probably
the right decision.
You’ve achieved something incredible that inspires a huge number of people.
And you’ve shown to yourself and to the world, but what the human body can accomplish.
And no matter if I push to a less weight and if I disclosed everything that I did and
I didn’t, when I wasn’t using steroids, in my opinion, if we went through everything,
there would people that would say, you’re using performance enhancing, no matter what,
like it is, it’s straight up.
So you just need to be okay with it yourself.
And so I had to make the call, I want to see what the true potential is of every, let’s
throw everything out the window that I feel unless I feel it’s a risk from a, from a health
standpoint that I’m not willing to take on.
And because that’s, how do I like, it’s just picking and choosing and it’s just picking
I here’s what I want to know.
This is what I want to be able to try to achieve.
And so, yeah, yeah, that’s what I did.
And what you did is incredible.
Like it’s, it’s just awe inspiring.
And what Lance Armstrong did was incredible.
And that, and that, and that aged me up.
And what’s funny is the people that bash them are like on the media or politicians or maybe
some actors and guess what?
A ton of them are doing the same thing.
It’s hypocrisy at its finest.
But how many, how many of those figures you’re watching in movies that love to talk, you
know, be, you know, be political and do this and the news and all this, I’m telling you
they’re, they’re anti aging clinics, like all over California and everywhere else.
Who do you think is, keeps them in business?
It’s not the competitive lifter.
I’ll tell you that.
And they’re using peptides and also, and SARMs and all sorts of like.
You’re speaking to the hypocrisy.
I also want to speak to the fact, you know, somebody who’s a friend of mine, David Goggins.
I don’t know if you know what that is.
Ultra marathon runner, Navy seal.
Pretty incredible person.
Incredible human being.
And he gets criticism like, you know, what you’re doing is, is bad for the body.
You know, you’re, you’re pushing yourself too far.
I find that the people that criticize are often people that haven’t truly pushed themselves
to the limit.
They haven’t actually worked hard in their life.
When you work hard, you realize how incredible it is that a human being can dedicate themselves
so fully to an effort the way you did, the way David Goggins does the way, the way the
greatest athletes do.
And there’s nothing that should be said beyond just sitting back in awe that humans can achieve
That inspires me to do the best, whatever the hell I do, to be the best version of that.
There’s something about like athletic feats, especially like strength that just inspire
us to do the best, to be the best version of ourselves.
I don’t know.
That’s the only thing you should be saying as opposed to criticizing some little detail
of this and that.
It’s just awe inspiring that you push yourself to anybody that is at that level.
And this is funny, like in competitive sports, like you go online and people, it’s just bash,
bash, bash, bash, bash, bash, bash.
You go talk to anybody, anybody, anybody that’s a high level athlete within that field.
And nobody has a single bad thing to say about each other.
But all this chitter chatter down there, I mean, I know exactly what you’re saying.
So if you, I would say, cause I have love for all those folks, especially when you’re
younger, you have a little bit of that desire to criticize others.
I think that should be channeled in improving your own life.
Anytime that you feel that way, that is when you need to turn inward and it’s hard to do,
but there is a reason that you have those emotions around someone else and what they’re
doing that you have an opportunity to look at yourself and know why you feel that way.
And that, guess what?
That’s going to be the hard thing to do.
That’s going to be the thing.
Again, that’s stirring you a little bit because it’s so much easier to sit there and, or talk
to your confidant or whatever instead of go, why does that bother me?
Why does what that person doing or what that person’s achieving bother me?
It’s like a difficult question that I often ask others, whether it’s better to work hard
or work smart.
I like to ask that question because it helps me get a sense of the human being.
And I think I, let me just say like, I often, I often like people that answer that would
Even though the quote unquote right answer is work smart, meaning like finding the optimal
efficient way to achieve a certain goal, I find that people that answer work smart don’t
actually find the optimal efficient way to achieve a goal.
It seems like the people that at least certainly early in life strive to work their ass off,
even that means doing the inefficient, the dumb thing, just to learn the mistake.
The spirit behind the human spirit behind the person that says, or a card is the one
I connect with, but I’m torn, especially in the, in the war culture, in the tech sector
where people answer work smart, what would you, what would you say about that tension?
This definitely encompasses like, I’m the intellectual and I’m the meathead.
I’m the work around the clock and go fix the processes and make it so much better type
That’s, that’s, that’s me in a whole, that’s everything.
That’s my life story.
Busting your ass to find the easiest way possible to both.
So like I will, I will build a custom hydraulic cart that will lift my plates up to the height
of my, my squat.
So that I can minimize a roll it over next to it and then minimize the effort of it going
on and off to be able to lift the most amount of weight as possible so, so that I can save
the energy from here, from lifting those up and the fatigue of my back being in bad position.
So I can nearly kill myself over here.
I, my wife, anybody will say, I’m a workaholic.
And the first thing that I would do when it would be doing a company, a company turnaround,
they’d hire me, come in and I would be taking over.
So for someone that wasn’t successful, but it was usually hardly ever for lack of want
So a lot of times they knew they were unsuccessful and they were running around working six,
seven days a week, 12 hour days doing so much and it’d be like, well, you need to do this.
And they train me on like all the reports and this and all the things and like, good
luck, good luck.
I couldn’t do it.
And the first thing I would do is nothing.
I would do nothing because then I would find what actually keeps coming back, the things
that I need to do and how much of it was filling the space.
Because so much of human nature when you’re failing is to make yourself feel like you’re
This is when things go on your list, on your checklist and you start like rolling up.
So you’re running around just getting shit done.
And so, but at the same time, like find somewhere in my career, something I’ve done where I
haven’t outworked everybody, just so much on distilling things down to what’s important.
And you’ve got to make time to sit back and assess and think and be introspective.
You have to make time for this because if not, you’re going to waste so much time sitting
there walking sideways when all you got to do is move just one step in front of the other
And I say, because it’s going to add up, but you could spend six months knocking shit out,
doing your routine, busting your ass and not take that one step.
So you’ve got to distill stuff down.
You’ve got to really understand like what’s important to you in life and where you’re
And, uh, when you’re looking at anything in your life, the first thing that you need to
do is figure out, do I need to do it and just quit doing it, just quit doing things in your
And you’ll see that a lot of stuff that you think has to be done, doesn’t have to be done.
You’d be surprised.
And then from there, this is the tech.
And then of that, what can I, what can I automate?
What can I not have to do in a repeated fashion?
And then the last one, yeah, wherever possible, if it’s not something that I’m adding tremendous
value to, like my uniqueness, people are like, oh, you must like do the auto work on your
vehicles cause you love working.
I’m like, fuck that.
And they’re like, what?
That doesn’t make any sense.
And I’m like, no, I love creating things, but I don’t want to do that stuff.
So you could use delegating if you’re a manager position, but it’s outsourcing, whatever it
But there are also so many things this, and this, this ties back to your point, uh, around
just doing it.
There’s a point to like experiencing all levels to really understand things.
You need to spend time at the same time doing all those things.
Cause there could be good, huge, massive gaps in there that you’re not aware of that are
key for you or key to be having done different or so on.
So um, like in my company days, I was one of the few executives that came in that could
do anything on the floor from code to machine, run away, the mill weld, do all step into
engineering, like, and, and that added tremendous value to me to having had spent time being
a doer and not enough people want to be, you’ve got to just go do shit.
You need to spend time in your life chopping wood, you need to have experience trying and
doing all these things that you would never like my skillset is massive because I want
to know, like you need to have those touch points.
My job, my title is chief visionary, but I’ve spent time doing everything.
It’s not about just like creating this amazing strategy or vision.
And I’m just going to be there in this person that directs and like, like you can’t be effective.
You cannot connect the dots unless you’ve been in the moment with everything.
Low level stuff.
Sometimes it’s doing stupid shit that you’re not uniquely qualified to do that anybody
could do, but you did it anyway.
Just the training environment.
People hit me up at a, at a, at a school or wherever like, Hey, how do I get into, I want
to grow my, grow my brand online.
I want to do this.
Like, where do I, where do I start?
And I’m like, go get a job at planet fitness or 24 hour fitness.
They’re like, but I want to, you know, where, how do I get, you know, recognized and write
articles and be an online coach.
I’m like, you need to go spend a few years one on one training people to learn like the
interaction, how people respond, there’s base levels you have to do.
You’ve got to go work your way up from the ground.
I truly believe it.
Well, I think that’s the hard work piece that I’m speaking to that I like it when people
have been humbled by the hardness of life, like how difficult it is to do stuff.
And it does, I went and got my MBA, I went to MIT.
I don’t need to do that stuff.
I’m above that.
And since you’ve been humbled by doing those things, I feel like you can truly explore
the optimization that you’re talking to, finding the ways where you’re uniquely capable to
add value to the world.
And then, and then again, work your ass off to be the best in the world at that thing.
So it’s always,
But then don’t waste your time on shit that’s not aligned.
That’s the only, so that’s, I guess there’s a lot of context I put around that, but.
Yeah, that was like a long answer to a, a long, beautiful answer to an unanswerable
Do you have advice outside of all this discussion to young people today about career, about
Since you’ve done so many things, you’ve overcome a lot of things.
Think high school, college student, thinking about what to do in their life.
Do you have advice for those guys and girls?
First is you don’t have it figured out, so don’t worry.
Just jump in.
We talked, you know, a lot about understanding your values and aligning all that stuff, but
you got to have a base level of start exploring and learning and just spending the time doing
like pick something, let me elaborate a little bit.
No, you know what?
A lot of people struggle with that aspect now because the choice, there’s so much choice
it’s difficult to pick something, but I think it does blow down to you should pick something
and don’t worry about it.
And then, but within that you can start discovering the things that are there for you.
Like I, I talked about, I made this huge shift, I threw away whole life, but I don’t regret
anything about that.
I wouldn’t be where I was if I didn’t walk through and learn those things.
And in fact, in the course of that, I learned just how much that inspiring people and helping
them realize the potential far beyond what they thought was capable.
And guess what?
That was leadership 101 in managing people base level, floor level, right?
And I got a lot out that was perfectly aligned with what, and that’s what I realized.
It didn’t matter what industry I was in or any of those other things, but I was able,
you can see so many things, there’s so many paths that you can go down to help you realize
what those things are.
And you’re going to be able to find a lot of those nuggets and develop those.
Do you think that I could have just gone to school and got out and started a globally
recognized brand within a few years without having been schooled in business while getting
paid for it by others for years?
And in fact, that entire time I knew that that’s what I wanted to do, but I didn’t go
out on it.
I mentored some of my friends along the same path to go, no, they’re like, I’m ready.
I’m ready to go do this.
And I’m like, no, now you need to go get a job.
Yeah, you know, engineering management, design, all that stuff.
Go get a job as a manager now.
Like, oh, that’s a step down.
I can’t do that.
I’m like, go try it.
A couple of years later, oh my God, that was such a good move.
I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
And now they’re an executive for freaking a fortune 500 company.
And the same thing, like I sat there knowing that I was getting a free education.
Don’t stress yourself out as my, that’s my advice.
Don’t stress yourself out that you’ve got to have this perfect thing because this process
of understanding your values and the introspect, that takes time.
You can get a job where you’re getting paid to learn.
That’s a good deal before you launch on your own.
You mentioned going back to darkness.
I’m Russian, so I like going back to darkness.
You suffer from depression.
You consider suicide.
Do you ponder your own death these days?
Do you think about your mortality?
Are you afraid of death?
I definitely think about mortality.
And am I afraid of my own death?
It depends on the moment.
If I’m in the middle of a project, I definitely want to finish that project, man.
But I don’t fear it so much.
I fear leaving my kids or my wife and not being able to be there for them.
That bothers me.
Outside of that, I know that I put everything into the life that I’ve lived.
Like you said, there’s always more, but I’ve lived hard.
I’ve loved hard.
Every moment in my life, I’ve made connections and impacted people around me for the better.
And this tracks back, which is crazy when we were doing the documentary and they’re
interviewing people through my whole life and the consistency of the themes of anyone,
like anything for Duffin, like just sure, I’ll fly in from Boston.
These people, it was crazy.
Everybody had a story about me giving, just over and over.
And I didn’t even really.
It’s just the way you were.
I’ve been all in.
I have a lot more I want to do, but I don’t have things that regret have not done in like,
I don’t fear it.
It’s like the, I don’t know if you know the Bukowski poem, go all the way, otherwise don’t
It seems like you embody that poem and you’ve accomplished some incredible things and serve
as an inspiration to a huge number of people.
Chris, you’re an amazing human being.
I’m really honored that you would spend your valuable time with me.
Thank you so much for talking with me today.
It was incredible.
I can’t wait to check out all the cool stuff you’ve engineered with Kabuki Strength.
So I’m obviously, I love the, I love strength.
I love strength training.
I love the idea of strength.
I love the equipment and the engineering approach that you take to strength.
You’re an incredible human, both on the things you’ve accomplished in terms of your own strength
feats and the kind of science and engineering you bring to the field that many others could
So thank you so much for talking to me.
Thanks for having me on.
That was quite the final thing.
Thanks for listening to this conversation with Chris Duffin and thank you to Headspace,
Magic Spoon, Sun Basket and Ladder.
Check them out in the description to support this podcast.
And now let me leave you with some words from Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Strength does not come from winning.
Your struggles develop your strengths.
When you go through hardship and decide not to surrender, that is strength.
Thank you for listening and hope to see you next time.