Can’t we all just get along?

The De-Evolution of Physical Culture

By Brian Johnston

It’s an undeniable fact that resistance trainees are in a world all their own, and to a certain extent, they can be classified as an underground cult of sorts. I am not referring to the average person who wants to reshape his or her body, or the injury rehab patient, but the hardcore trainee.

What dumbfounds me is the conflicting attitude among the different resistance trainees, and not only bodybuilders. Bodybuilders think that powerlifters are chunky individuals who can’t build a lean, conditioned physique. Powerlifters think that bodybuilders are weak and nothing but show and who can’t perform to powerlifting standards in the gym. Olympic lifters feel they are above the others because their competitive lifts require extreme athletic ability (a combination of speed, total body coordination, and power), and is accepted as an Olympic sport. I am not suggesting that all iron athletes are guilty of these stereotypical views. However, my experience tells me that a majority feel this way.

The odd thing is that all three types of training methods overlap. Show me a bodybuilder who has not, at one time or another, performed powerlifting style of training (heavy weight, low reps), or has thrown in some power cleans for upper back development. Also, just about every powerlifter or Olympic lifter has performed bodybuilding exercises (supplementary movements) in the off-season during the conditioning phase – these include dips, leg extensions, bent rows and leg curls to work any weak links that can affect the primary lifts.

These three groups obviously have more in common than they realize, yet each tries to segregate themselves from the others. To have Joe Average accept resistance training as a serious fitness alternative, we need to work together and promote resistance training as a whole. With a synergistic approach, we can become stronger threefold, rather than fighting each other in having the public adorn each other’s sport or activity.

One of the primary reasons why many prefer aerobic-based exercise, as opposed to anaerobic exercise, is that it is a social event. A group of people will get together, work toward a common goal (weight loss, muscle firming), and have fun. This often is not apparent where people work out with weights. Resistance trainees tend to ignore or avoid each other like the plague; particularly if others are equally strong, developed or if they are a different type of trainee, i.e., powerlifter vs. bodybuilder. This may be the result of competitiveness or ego. Some day we may regain the camaraderie that was so apparent in the 50’sand 60’s.

TAKU’s Note:
In 1995, Brian Johnston wrote a brief article for a newsletter (Strength & Size), about how the fitness world has lost its union, with bodybuilders in one corner, power lifters in another, Olympic lifters in another, and the average fitness buff yet in another. I felt it was worth repeating an excerpt from this article* since it is my opinion, that strength training is the cornerstone to a well rounded total fitness program. Being involved in healthy pursuits should be a chance for us to bond and enjoy the pursuit, rather than an excuse to talk trash about whose methods are the best.



*This article reprinted with permission of the I.A.R.T.

Strength Training and Fighters

By Jim Bryan

First some background on myself. Everyone that pursues an athletic career has particular sports that appeal to them. Mine were ones that involved strength and contact. As a youngster I loved Football, never heard of Rugby but I would have liked that too. I also loved to wrestle, never had any training (no programs existed)  I trained and competed in Olympic Lifting, Power Lifting, and Body Building. I also served as a judge and coach. In fighting I trained in Boxing, Kick Boxing, Muay Thai, Wing Chun, Karate, Kali, and JKD. I’ve also worked as a Coach, Corner man, Judge, and Ref. I also  worked as a Strength Coach for a couple of years and worked in several Health Clubs. By now most people also know that I was heavily influenced by Arthur Jones. He helped me get the job as Strength Coach. I was also learning to be a Highlands Game Judge but gave that up for lack of time.

So what? Well, this is not meant to make me appear to be a “Macho Man”. I’m not. My Wife says “I’m just a hard-headed Irish man” I am Irish American and proud of it! I cry easy and fight easy. This is just to let the reader know I have some experience…about 40 years of it. Experience is one of the qualities most lacking  among the Internet Soothsayers.

When I refer to fighters I’m primarily talking about athletic contests not bar room brawlers. A fighter’s life is taken up with skill training and conditioning. Not much time left over, much the same as with other sports. Fighters are some of the best-conditioned athletes out there. I happen to believe that Strength Training should be a part of that training. Two fighters of the same skill and condition…the stronger will usually win. Royce Gracie might appear to contradict that. He beat much larger fighters in NHB. BUT the other fighters were competing in a sport that they didn’t know much about! It took a while but they figured it out and Royce is smart to stay away now!

How do you go about adding Strength Training? What method of the popular ones should you use?

Olympic Lifting

Can you get strong by Olympic Lifting? Why hell yes you can! Olympic Lifting is a highly developed skill, so you better be sure you get the proper coaching. If you already have the skill you can get very strong by doing it. Olympic Lifting does have a higher possibility of injury, even if you are skilled. It may not be the most time efficient way for a fighter to get his/her Strength Training. If you enjoy the movements and are aware of the danger, then use them.

Power Lifting

Power Lifting builds some s-t-r-o-n-g individuals. It also carries some danger.  Remember you are a fighter, so keep your priorities in order. Instead of going for singles use higher reps. Power Lifters usually use a time efficient method of training. Get the proper coaching, and learn the movements. Squats and Deadlifts are good exercises if you can safely do them.

Dino Training

When I was doing this type training it wasn’t called “Dino”… It was just called training. Times have changed, it is now a category by itself. Lifting odd objects can build great strength. You have got to be careful though. You can’t fight if you are hurt.  If you can figure a way out to include some “Dino” you may find more enjoyment to be had from your daily training grind.

Super Slow

Just because some one says that they know or can teach you Super Slow doesn’t make it so! Many out there claiming to be Super Slow Trainers are FOS. Check for a Certification!! It should be signed by Ken Hutchins. Make no mistake about it, Super Slow can make you strong,  it is time efficient, and safe. The main thing is…can you put up with the strict approach?

High Intensity Training (H.I.T.)

High Intensity Training is mainly a philosophy of training or a set of guidelines that are not written in stone. They evolve.  The best thing going for the fighter is H.I.T. is time efficient. I’m not going to address whether or not you should train to failure, make that decision on your own. Stick with mainly multi joint movements and some single joint.

Hard Gainer

To me this is like H.I.T. I like it. I like the Philosophy and the basic approach. I also like the emphasis on safety. Actually, for me this is more like “Old Style H.I.T.”


Combine some of the methods. Include what appeals to you. High Intensity Training can be combined easily. If you look at Arthur’s early info it would pass for more of a Hybrid as compared to what many people think  H.I.T. now is. I come from “Old Style H.I.T.” and am more accepting of other methods. Just don’t step on my toes or get in my face to get your point across. I’m happy to listen…I might learn something.

Combat Conditioning

If you’re a fighter you BETTER be doing it! Each fighting sport has it’s own accepted method of conditioning. It has to be done. I feel Strength Training should be added somehow. It would be nice if all the training  came from coaches working together to help the fighter.

Strong Man

This for sure will help you. Strong Men pick up and run with weights that Olympic Lifters and Power lifters just try to get off the ground. They also train with awkward implements like the Dino’s. It can be very dangerous and needs a good Coach. Remember, when you are hurt you can’t fight…Or train! Done right this can be great.


Personal Trainers may not be of much help to the fighter unless the Trainer has been a fighter. That way they understand what you go through. Many Personal Trainers are just not qualified even if they are certified. Most are going to try to treat you like a Body Builder. Try to find a Strength Coach.

Free weights or machines?

What do you have at your disposal? Use what you have! Remember you are trying to build strength not demonstrate it.


No getting around it Genetics have a bearing on your athletic ability. Don’t whine about poor genetics or use it as an excuse. You can always improve your strength to a level higher than what you started with. You’ll need discipline, determination, and consistency. You may find your genetics weren’t so bad after all. No excuses just solutions!

I feel that fighters are some of the hardest working athletes alive. Doesn’t matter… Boxers, MMA, Submission, Kick Boxers, Thai Boxers, Wrestlers. Do I think Pro Wrestlers are fighters? Some of them could do very well in MMA or Submission. Some couldn’t. I feel that they are athletes just the same but I don’t like it (Pro Wrestling) To me it has become a study in bad manners and attitude. The WWE “in your face” attitude pisses me off. It has produced many smart ass  “Wana bees”

The Best Method

Okay, what do I feel is the best way for a fighter to Strength Train? The best way is a method that is safe, doesn’t take much time and one that the fighter will actually do. It also needs to be progressive or it won’t work very long. The emphasis should be on building strength not on a pretty boy physique. Any of the methods will do it. Depending upon your goals and time, some methods may “fit” better. Whatever you choose it won’t hurt you to be STRONGER!

Res Non Verba.

Four Week Strength Cycle

This week I offer a simple strength cycle. Each week you will vary the reps striving to use the maximum possible weight and still complete the desired number of reps (with perfect form). If you can complete at least 90% of the reps then you are doing fine. Any time you can complete the desired reps of each set with perfect technique, then it is time to add a little more weight at the next workout.


  1. Trap Bar Dead-lift & Shrug*
  2. Front Squat
  3. Glute-Ham Raise**(see black & white image below)
  4. Chin-Up**
  5. Standing BB Press
  6. TRX Row / Recline Pull**
  7. Towel Bench Press
  8. Land-Mine Anti-rotation (see photo and video links at bottom)
  9. Plank w/ V-up + Static Hold**



Movement 1.) 3-4 sets x 5 reps rest 90-120 seconds

Movement 2 – 7.) 1-3 sets x 10 reps rest 60 seconds

Movement 8-9.) 60-90 seconds each


Movement 1.) 3-4 sets x 3 reps rest 90-120 seconds

Movement 2-7.) 1-3 sets x 5 reps rest 90 seconds

Movement 8-9.) 60-90 seconds each


Movement 1.) 3-4 sets x 5 reps rest 90-120 seconds

Movement 2-7.) 1-3 sets x 8 reps rest 60 seconds

Movement 8-9.) 60-90 seconds each


Movement 1.) 3-4 sets x 2 reps rest 90-120 seconds

Movement 2-7.) 1-3 sets x 3 reps rest 90 seconds

Movement 8-9.) 60-90 seconds each

*For those of you who enjoy using quick-lift movements, replace the Trap BarDL&S w / your favorite Barbell, Dumbbell or K-Bell Snatch or Clean variation.

**Add weight if needed. (I recommend using an X-vest or similar device)

The video links below will show how to execute the Ant-rotation exercise with the Landmine or with a regular barbell.



Three to Grow on!

As you know, at Hybrid Fitness we love strength training programs that are brief, intense and highly productive. With this in mind I offer the following simple plan. Pick three, big, basic movements and do three sets of each one. Add weight on each set and aim to hit your max for the recommended rep ranges.

You may choose any big three movements but my top choice would be:

1.  Clean Dead-lift and Shrug*
2.  Standing Barbell Shoulder Press
3.  Front Squat

The target rep range is 8 – 6 – 4 on each exercise. Do all three sets of the first movement before moving on to the next. Rest 120 seconds (2 minutes) between sets. Every two weeks, subtract 30 seconds from your rest period until you are resting only 60 seconds between sets. You should easily be able to complete this workout in under thirty minutes. It will take even less time as you shorten the rest intervals every two weeks. Couple this up with some good GPP work such as sled pushing / dragging, sandbag carries, hill / stair  sprints…You get what I am saying, DO WORK!

Try this plan for the next 8-12 weeks and you should be looking and feeling your best just in time for summer vacation.




* To find out about the Clean Dead-lift check out this article:

If I Had to Pick Just One….(w/ video)

Posted on March 6, 2008 by hybridfitnes

Great Total Body Exercise!

I was working with a client this morning at her home.  Space and equipment are limited so we need to get creative with the workouts.  I’m not a huge fan of mixing things up just for the sake of doing something new, though.  I’d rather stick with movements that work and get results, as opposed to doing some novel “flavor of the month” exercise just to be different.

One of the staple exercises is the dumbbell clean deadlift & shrug.  As well as being a challenging, effective exercise, it’s also a key component of many Olympic weightlifting techniques.  You don’t need to be an Olympic lifter to incorporate this movement into your routine and best of all, you can do it with a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags, sportsbands, etc.  Seriously.  Depending on the weight you use, the clean deadlift & shrug can be a stand-alone exercise or a great component to a conditioning circuit.  It’s up to you.

The video below represents the movement using a barbell, but I suggest you try it with dumbbells or whatever training tool you have at your disposal.  The movement and mechanics are the virtually the same, but will vary slightly depending on what you’re holding.  You’ll feel this in your legs, back, traps, shoulders and arms.

Try supplementing this movement into your next workout and see for yourself how challenging it is.  Feedback is always good, so please post your comments below.  If you’ve got a question, we’ll get back to you right away.

Thanks and keep training hard!


Exercise of the Week: Sandbag Cleans

I recently posted a different “Exercise of the Week” just a few days ago….but hopefully none of you will mind another one.

Sandbag training has really gained in popularity over the last couple of years.  I hesistate to call it a trend, because I think sandbag training has the potential for much more longevity.  I think this for a few different reasons.  Among other things, sandbags are durable, portable, extremely versatile and there is a bag to literally accommodate any strength range.  Yes, I said ANY strength range.  You can literally push, pull, toss and drag them in limitless movement variations.  Use them for developing strength, conditioning, power, endurance, agility and coordination.  What can I say….we’re big fans of sandbag training at Hybrid Fitness.

One of the exercises I like to impose on my unsuspecting clientele is the Sandbag Clean.  It requires the perfect balance of strenght, power, corrdination and focus.  It works multiple joints and muscles simultaneously and really gets the heart pumping.  Are you convinced yet?  If not, you’ll have to try it for yourself and see what I mean.

  • Stand in front of a sandbag with your weight evenly distributed on both feet and knees slightly bent.
  • Keeping your back flat, bend at the hips and knees and reach down to grab the sandbag.
  • Keeping head up and back flat, explosively stand erect by pushing the ground away with your legs as you simultaneously pull / clean the sandbag up in front of your body and catch it at shoulder height.
  • Your knees should be bent to approximately a 1/4 squat position during the catch phase.
  • Lower the sandbag to the starting position.

Here’s the breakdown of what the sandbag clean looks like:

Sandbag Clean "start"

Sandbag Clean "start"

Sandbag Clean "middle"

Sandbag Clean "middle"

Sandbag Clean "finish"

Sandbag Clean "finish"

Sometimes, pictures just aren’t here’s a video showing the clean in real time.  It also comes with a pulldown exercise description, too. (click the link or the graphic to view the video)


We don’t sell our own sandbags so if you’re looking to pick some up, we suggest you go here.

Got questions?  Post them to the comments section and we’ll answer them ASAP.

Keep training hard!


P.S: You can view and create videos like the one above by utilizing the video exercise library and workout builder from Hybrid Fitness.  Join the community and see what the buzz is about.

Kettlebell Juggling

Hey Everyone:

On Friday we participated in an afternoon kettlebell workshop with our resident kettlebell specialist, John Wild of Orange Kettlebell Club (  We covered a bunch of great material.

During one of our intermissions, John demonstrated a little kettlebell juggling.  This is just a sample of his skill.  John’s a great coach, a great athlete and we’re lucky to have him as part of the team.

Visit his site, drop him a line and check out his videos on YouTube.  In the meantime, keep training hard and enjoy this video.

Jason K.

Kettlebell Workshop

We’re heading to a kettlebell workshop today, coached by John Wild of Orange Kettlebell Club.  John is a good friend and an exceptional coach.  He recently launched his website and has established a great community of kettlebell (and non-kettlebell) followers.

Check out his site at  Feel free to drop him an email and be sure to tell him the Hybrid Fitness guys sent you.

Keep training hard and feel free to post any questions to the comments section. We’ll answer them right away.

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