Exercise of the Week: Squat Thrust

The squat thrust is a great exercise for strength and conditioning and it works with many different implements such as kettlebells (pictured), dumbbells and bodyweight. Here’s how it’s performed:

1.) Begin in a standing position with bells in each hand.

2 .) Bend forward and place the bells firmly on the ground:

3.) Jump back with both feet as you support your bodyweight on the bells:


4.) Jump both feet back towards the bells with the body bent forward:

5.) Stand back upright, continuing to hold the bells in your hands:

As for the speed of the exercise, it is a conditioning drill, so it should be executed quickly with smooth transitions between each movement and level change. If you’ve never performed this exercise before, it’s very important that you start slowly and make sure you can properly stabilize yourself on the bells. Dumbbells are considerably easier to balance on, so think about starting with them.

Increase the difficulty of the exercise by increasing the speed or increasing the weight of the bells. If you’re really up for a challenge, insert a pushup after you kick your feet back and extend your body.

Yes, there’s also a 1-arm squat thrust variation, but we’ll save that for a later date. The squat thrust is an key component of the Card PT program. Read about it on the blog under Products, or visit www.trainforstrength.com for more info.

Good luck and keep training hard.

Jason K.



Peaking for Competition (Taku’s Intervals: PHASE 4)

In sports the competitive season marks the boundaries of your training cycle(s). For sports such as Football, Basketball etc, you can plan according to the needs or goals of each block such as pre-season, in-season, and post- season. For sports with little or no structured season such as MMA and other combat sports then a more “structured-improvisational” style of planning may be used. Regardless of the sport, the goal of any well designed strength and conditioning program is always the same. Have the athlete(s) at their peak when it is time to compete.

I created my original interval program as a supplemental endurance training plan for combat athletes. I wanted to move people towards energy system specific endurance training and away from wasting valuable time on outdated methods which were not serving their needs. Although it has worked well and continues to do so for thousands of athletes around the world, I soon saw the need for an even more specific peaking protocol that could be used when preparing for an actual fight or competition. It was with this in mind that I created the fourth phase of my interval program.

The following program details are outlined based on the assumption that you have used or at least read my original interval program. Remember Phase 4 was designed with competition preparation in mind. If you have never done any interval training I suggest you start with the first three phased plan and work up to this one.

For those of you familiar with my original plan you will notice Phase 4 incorporates maintenance days that use the phase 3 protocols along with days that use longer and shorter work and recovery times. On these “new” days drop the two five minute steady state sections from your 15-minute warm-up period and go directly from the five minutes “easy” to the intervals. As before, finish with a 5-minute cool-down period. This program is designed to expose you to a wider range of stressors then the original plan. On all the work intervals with longer rest periods you should be striving to push to the max, hold nothing back.

On the training days that have multiple sprint intervals during one session, you will complete one set of intervals, rest approximately 2-3 minutes and continue with the next set of intervals. Repeat these work/rest cycles until the entire workout is completed. As your conditioning improves, you will find that the intervals become easier which should translate to more gas in your tank wether on the mat or in the cage.

To add these to a pre-competition schedule, find the date of your event and count back to the start of the phases. If you have never done intervals, start with phase 1 and work up from there. If you have done intervals, just adapt these into your current schedule. Be sure to have a few days (2-3 at least) off from these just before fight day. The days of the week are just examples, work these interval days in to your routine on whatever days work best.


Week 1 Monday & Friday:
20 seconds work + 10 seconds recovery: 10X

Week 1 Wednesday:
30 seconds work + 60 seconds recovery: 5X
20 seconds work + 40 seconds recovery: 3X
10 seconds work + 30 seconds recovery: 2X

Week 2 Monday & Friday:

20 seconds work + 10 seconds recovery: 10X

Week 2 Wednesday:

30 seconds work + 60 seconds recovery: 5X
20 seconds work + 40 seconds recovery: 5X
10 seconds work + 30 seconds recovery: 5X

Week 3 Monday & Friday:

20 seconds work + 10 seconds recovery: 10X

Week 3 Wednesday:

30 seconds work + 60 seconds recovery: 5X
20 seconds work + 40 seconds recovery: 5X
10 seconds work + 30 seconds recovery: 10X

Week 4 Monday:
30 seconds work + 60 seconds recovery: 5X
20 seconds work + 40 seconds recovery: 5X
10 seconds work + 30 seconds of recovery: 5X

Week 4 Wednesday:
30 seconds work + 60 seconds recovery: 4X
20 seconds work + 40 seconds recovery: 6X
10 seconds work + 30 seconds recovery: 10 X

Week 4 Friday:
30 seconds work + 60 seconds recovery: 5X
20 seconds work + 40 seconds recovery: 10X
10 seconds work + 30 seconds recovery: 12X

The original Taku’s Intervals program is available in the “Free Workouts” section at www.hybridfitness.tv. We plan to launch soon and we’ll keep you updated on the status.

PAU for NOW.


1000 Rep Workout!

Taku and I are spending the weekend doing a 1000 rep workout.  Those new to fitness are saying “Wow, that’s a lot of reps!”  Those who have spent even a little time in the gym are saying “Whoa…that’s waaaay too much!”   The Fitness specialists who subscribe to the blog are saying “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!”

Well guess what…you’re ALL correct.  We’re doing the 1000 rep workout by choice, but it has a specific purpose and suffice it to say, it has noting to do with an actual routine.  Anyone who does 1000 reps of anything is truly missing the point and truly misguided.

So why are we doing it?  We’re capturing video footage for www.hybridfitness.tv.  When we’re done uploading, it will most certainly be something you’ll want to have access to.  Trust us.

Check back in for an update later today or tomorrow.

Keep training hard!

Jason K.
Hybrid Fitness

If I Had to Pick Just One….(w/ video)

When you hang around Internet strength and conditioning forums like I do, one question eventually comes up. “If you had to pick just one exercise, what would it be?” Why this question repeatedly comes up I am not really sure. For starters I am hard pressed to think of a time or reason that I ever would be limited to just one or even a handful of exercises. Even those of us who have limited access to exercise equipment can conjure up a vast array of options with just a little thought and creativity.

Perhaps people are looking for the ultimate in brief workouts and hoping that one or more magic movements exist that will give them all the benefit of a longer program with 1/3 less time and effort (the light beer mentality). Perhaps they are just looking for peer support in hope that others will pick the same exercises that they themselves have deemed “the best”. What ever the real reason this question does come up and once it does…folks begin to chime in.

While reading this you may have already consciously or unconsciously started rolling through your own top ten lists in search of the one you would keep above all others. For many it is a squat or deadlift variation. For others it may be the good old burpee. Ultimately, like me, you will probably come to realize that there is no reason to pick just one exercise. There is no single exercise that is the best at accomplishing all things at all times for all people. But…since you asked (or someone did), I will tell you one of my all time favorites. It is called the Clean Deadlift + Shrug.

I was introduced to this DL variation when I first met and trained with *Jim Schmitz. Since then it has become a staple in my weight training diet. It is a great total body pulling movement that really works those important posterior chain muscles. It hits just about everything from the neck on down. So remember, there is no reason to pick just one exercise all the time but if you are looking for a great one to experiment with I am sure that once you try the Clean Deadlift + Shrug it will quickly make it’s way to your top ten list.

The CDL+S How it’s done:

This movement is done with an Olympic barbell but similar versions can be done with dumbbells, cables, Hex-bars or even dedicated DL machines like those made by Hammer Strength or Nautilus. For demonstration purposes I’ll explain the barbell version. All others can be easily figured out from there. In the video I am moving with good control however the speed of execution is a bit fast. To gain the maximum benefit I recommend that you move slower rather then faster with this movement.

* Grasp a barbell with and overhand or “clean” grip
* Slowly stand erect as in the standard DL
* Once fully erect, raise up on your toes while shrugging your shoulders up to your ears
* Lower slowly to the bottom position
* Repeat for the desired number of sets and reps

Here’s a closer view of the shoulders and calves to give you a better idea of how the exercise is done.


Good luck. Keep training hard!



*If you are not familiar with Jim check out the advisory board section at www.hybridfitness.tv

Instability Training: Good or Bad?

I was checking out some fitness columns today and I came across an interesting article published in the Washington Post on instability training, or training on unstable surfaces like a physioball (swissball) or a BOSU. Now, everyone is entitled to their own opinions on things, but mis-information is not an opinion…it’s just plain wrong.

The article went on to talk about how instability training is effective for training other areas of the body (which isn’t entirely untrue…but there’s more to it than that). Basically, the premise is that training on an unstable surface forces you to use more muscles in the body to stabilize the movement. Exercises like “Stability Ball Bench Press” and “Stability Ball Bench Press with Feet Elevated on an Inverted BOSU” were discussed. Seriously, how ridiculous does that sound?

Here are some pictures from the article so you can have a visual reference. Please, click on these photos and seriously try to comprehend how foolish it is to do something like this. By the way, the photo credit should go to NSCA but it was incorrectly referenced in the article as the NCSA, as shown on the picture.  Another one of my gripes with the overall article content.


By lying on a physioball, you truly are creating an unstable surface. You will have to balance by activating other muscles in the body. But the muscular activation will in no way compensate for the decreased weight you’ll have to use OR the risk involved with an exercise like this. Additionally, it’s almost impossible for you to do these exercises on your own. You must have a partner to give you the bar and take it from you when you’re done.

Here’s some basic physics for you. The farther from your body the weight is, the more unstable you’ll be. Conversely, the closer the weight, the more stable you become. But, the closer the weight is to the chest, the more difficult it becomes to press and the greater the chance of “sticking” or hitting a point in the range of motion where you can’t effectively move the weight up. If that happens, you’ll most certainly need the help of a spotter. Worst yet, you may need to “dump” the weight. In that situation, you can’t just push the bar off of you as you could on a stable bench. If you do, the ball shoots out to one side, you hit the floor and the weight gets a nice soft landing on your head or torso. The chance of that happening anyway is also a factor. Oh yeah, the ball could burst too. Yes, they’re built to endure a lot of compression, but you won’t have that issue with a bench at all.

Now lets look at the second picture. Inverting a BOSU and placing your feet on it will only make you MORE UNSTABLE and not in a good way. Adding the increased instability to the equation will in no way make the exercise more beneficial! This is, unfortunately, a huge misconception in the fitness industry. It’s an industry that thrives on evolution and industry leaders and gurus are constantly looking for the next best thing. Unfortunately, movements like the ones above are the result of that quest.

Bottom line: Don’t get sucked into thinking instability training will aid your overall training or progression. Physioballs have their place, but it’s not underneath you while you’re pressing a weight. As for standing on a BOSU and lifting weight, all that will make you better at is standing on a BOSU. It won’t carry over to your athletic prowess. Additionally, strength gains will be drastically limited since the very nature of instability training requires you to work with a lesser load.

Conclusion: Training on unstable surfaces has it’s place, but instability training is, for the most part, a waste of time when it’s performed as detailed above. Use your head and think about what you’re doing. If it seems ridiculous, it probably is.  If you truly want to get stronger, just stick with the fundamentals. If you’re an athlete, work the skill sets of your sport, while developing strength in the gym. The two together will be much more beneficial than trying to stand on a ball.

On a side note, one individual who posted a comment on the article from the Washington Post said it best: “…one legged dumbbell rows will not make you a better athlete….these implements and adaptations only give the notion that we are doing something “functional” and “lifelike,” when in reality it is simply taking a non-functional movement and making it awkward. One would be better off doing heavy rows and heavy bench presses than light rows on a BOSU ball or bench presses on a swiss ball.”

Food for thought.

Until next time, keep training hard!
Jason Klofstad

Partner Abdominal Drills

These days everyone knows the importance of training their “AB’s”. But just because you know they are important doesn’t mean that they’re fun to do. Some train their abdominals for performance reasons. Still others are obsessed with having a “six-pack” so they slave away on drills that they don’t really like but feel are required to satisfy the flat-stomach gods. Of course there are also those folks who love AB training and can not wait to get to it.

Regardless of which camp you belong to there are ways to make AB training a bit more fun and interesting then just doing crunch variations until you are numb with boredom.

In the video below you will see three different partner AB drills I use with my clients to keep them focused and engaged while targeting the important muscles of the mid-section.

Drill 1: Target Practice

In this drill have the person lay on their back with knees bent at approximately 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor. Position yourself on a stability ball so it is at their feet and resting on top of their toes.

Set a Timer (I use the Gymboss) for 30 seconds. Start the clock and position your hand as a target for the trainee to reach up and touch. Relocate your hand after each touch at random and varying locations. Never use the exact same placement two times in a row.

Continue this target placement until the 30 seconds is complete. Rest and repeat. For beginners I have them just reach with their hands. As people improve I add a small *weighted ball to increase the challenge. I usually do three sets, right hand reach, left hand reach, both hands reach. Increase intensity by adding a heavier ball, lengthening the work periods or shortening the rest periods.

Drill 2: Med-Ball Round and Round

In this drill have the person lay on their back with knees bent at approximately 90 degrees with feet in the air. There are two med-balls always in play in this drill.

In version one the person touches one ball on the floor over head and then throws it to the partner standing at their feet. The partner places a ball on the person’s feet which they then retrieve from that position to cycle around again.

In version two you reverse the action. The partner standing throws a ball which is caught, tapped over head, and then replaced on the feet to be cycled through again.

With Round and Round I usually do a set or two of each style for 30 seconds each. Increases intensity as in Drill 1 by adding heavier balls, increasing the work time or decreasing the rest time.

*I usually use small, 1 – 3 kg weighted balls for added resistance during “Target Practice” and standard 4 – 6 kg Med-Balls for the “Round and Round” drill.

The video should help clear up any confusion. Have fun and remember when it comes to partner AB exercises you are really only limited by your imagination.