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Author: markdegrasse

Mark de Grasse is the President of DigitalMarketer, an eLearning company focused on skill development for professional marketers, marketing agencies, and small business owners. Mark de Grasse is a content strategist focused on integrated, genuine approaches to marketing and management. Mark has been working in content development since the mid-2000’s, creating tens of thousands of articles, graphics, videos, and podcasts over the years.

Obstacle Course Preparation Workout

If you want to work on your explosiveness, conditioning, grip strength, and body control (basically everything you need for an obstacle race), all you need is a couple of plyo boxes and some pull up bars! During this workout you’ll be performing a series of jumps, rolls, and push ups to get through some basic obstacles.

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Kettlebell Core Workout

You can blast your core in any number of ways using a kettlebell. One of those is with sit up variations that exploit the round “ball” of the kettlebell, allowing you to comfortably grip the weight while performing a variety of movements. This core workout also utilizes a couple of my favorite bodyweight core strength movements, the Coffin Sit Up (an interesting core exercise variation that eliminates the availability of your hip flexors to assist in the movement) and the Leg Raise to Bump, a double-blast on the rectus abdominus.

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5 Lies a Bad Personal Trainer Will Tell You

Christy was ready to make a change. No more get-fit-quick diet fads. No more weak promises to get in shape “next year.” No more fitness disappointment. This time getting healthy was going to happen. To make that happen, Christy went to the local Globo-gym to speak to a “professional.”

Unfortunately for Christy, the term “fitness professional” is thrown around quite a bit these days. Even worse, it’s not a matter of their qualifications; they could have every fitness degree and certification in the world and it STILL might not matter in terms of your personal transformation. The fact is, fitness transformations are as much about mental changes as they are physical changes. They involve emotional, mental, and physical investments of resources, time, and money. The manager of all these aspects is supposed to be your personal trainer.

Now, I’m not going to tell you how to find the right personal trainer, but I will tell you the lies that the wrong one will tell you. Look for these lines and think about reevaluating your investment:

Lie #1: I know EXACTLY what you need to do to lose 50 pounds in 30 days.

Improving your body is hard, and no matter what secret formula personal trainers may employ, it won’t change that fact. On top of that, even if they could accomplish an unrealistic goal, it probably won’t be healthy or safe. Gradual progression is the way to long term, healthy changes in your body.

Lie #2: Weight loss is actually really easy.

While it is true that eating less and burning more calories will result in weight loss in most people, your personal situation may be more complicated than that. Eating less may require changing decades (or possibly a lifetime) of bad habits, and burning more calories involves time, effort, and pain that you may not be willing to contribute, especially right off the bat. The relative difficulty is completely dependent on your personal situation.

Lie #3: This is going to be the hardest challenge of your entire life.

Yes, transformations are hard, but don’t get scared into thinking that your workout and diet plan is going to be more difficult than any other thing you’ve gone through. A good trainer should be able to assess what you need to do, what you’re capable of, and what type of motivation will get you the change you’re looking for.

Lie #4: I’ve used this exact plan to transform 500 people!

There are some boiler-plate strategies to improving fitness levels, but again, your personal situation is different. If you went to a dentist and he said nothing but, “here’s a tooth brush, use it daily and that pain in your tooth will probably go away,” would you be satisfied? No! Your situation is unique, and while the basic aspects may be similar to other people, you came to a professional to get personalized advice and guidance. There should be some form of assessment and personalization to your plan.

Lie #5: I got ripped by doing this workout 5 times a week.

If your personal trainer is worth his or her salt, they have taken fitness to heart. This means that they probably dedicate more time to exercise and proper diet than the average person, and they should! They get paid for it! Thinking that you’re going to be able to look or perform like your personal trainer using a minimal investment in time and effort is naive, and they shouldn’t lead you into believing that. Even if they are able to minimize their time working out, it’s probably because they’ve exercised for years and years, allowing them to enter a “maintenance mode” that allows them to maintain a certain level of physical performance without that much effort (you are not there yet, so don’t even think about it).

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3 Ways to Make Losing Weight Less of a Pain in the Ass

Let’s face it, no matter how you try to pitch it to people, fitness is a pain in the ass (if you’re training correctly, it will literally make your glutius maximas hurt). No amount of obnoxious fitness memes will change your mind about that; NO, looking good does not beat a delicious cupcake, I CAN find something better to do with 30 minutes a day instead of sweating my brains out, and I think that smiling, skinny chick in a bikini needs to eat a sandwich.

Now, this view is definitely not shared by the majority of fitness professionals, but that may be one of the reasons I came up with the term “Unconventional Training” in the first place.

To me, fitness is a long term project that never ends, and for that reason, I don’t think extreme goals are realistic. If you’re not going to maintain a diet or training regimen for more than a couple weeks, what’s the point? You might as well stay the course and save yourself the time, money, and energy that you would have spent on some crazy fad diet or unsustainable workout program.

With that said, it is possible to gradually get into better shape, enhance your functional performance, and generally live a healthier life. Here are three ways you can attain a fitness goal that has been unattainable to this date:

1) Start Small

Get going on your weight loss goals by starting small.

When people get fired up to get in shape (New Year’s resolutions, upcoming wedding, summer, etc.), they usually do something I call “Fitness Binging.”

A Fitness Binge is when you unrealistically cut your calorie consumption while simultaneously increasing your workout time by 10,000%.

This inevitably leads to rapid exhaustion and disappointment as starvation, soreness, and a lack of instant results make you quit.

Premium Onnit T-ShirtsStarting small on your fitness goals is a much more realistic way to get moving. Instead of spending an hour in the gym right off the bat, why not try a short hike or walk around the block? When that gets easy, add in  two sets of ten Bodyweight Squats and Push Ups. When that gets too easy, add more exercises or weights and so on. No need for some crazy “Get Ripped in 30 Days” program; the truth is, you’re probably not ready for that yet. When you are ready, make sure you get a solid workout plan.

On the diet side, cutting out just a few items and adding a others will make a huge difference. If you skip breakfast, start eating an apple when you wake up. If you eat out everyday, start eating out every other day and opt for a homemade lunch or dinner instead. I would go so far as to say if you drink regular whatever, switch to diet (most fitness professionals will be aghast that I would say something like that, but again, I’m unconventional). Just do one thing right and you can always progress from there.

2) Split Up Your Workouts

Try doing your weight loss workouts throughout the day.

There’s a popular term in Unconventional Training called Greasing the Groove (GtG). It was originally coined by Pavel Tsatsouline in his book Power to the People. The workout concept is perform a particular exercise (usually a difficult one or one using heavy weight) and perform it frequently throughout the day without hitting fatigue during any given attempt.

This, incidentally, IS a pain in the ass and I wouldn’t recommend trying it if you’re just getting started.

I would recommend using the concept combined with short, easy exercises rather than difficult ones. Set a timer and try to do 10 Push Ups, Sit Ups, Bodyweight Squats, Lunges, etc. every time it goes off. When you start, try to do 3 to 5 sets throughout the day. Once you start doing 10 sets without an issue, increase the reps, add weight, or perform more challenging exercises.

This works especially well if you don’t have time to get an actual workout in. Depending on the exercise, you could realistically do it at your job in your work clothes if you have to. Rather than having that guilt of not making it to the gym (again), you will be happy knowing that you did something to improve your fitness.

3) Be Good MOST of the Time

If you want to lose weight, plan on being good MOST of the time.

I’ll be the first one to admit that fitness professionals can be a little intense about diet and exercise. When you truly commit yourself to improving your health and performance, it’s hard not to progress to the point where you actually enjoy being sore, sweaty, out of breath, and generally feeling like you’re going to die after a workout (sounds crazy, but it’s true).

Getting hardcore about fitness is great… if it’s your job.

For most people, it’s not your job! All you want to do is invest the minimum amount of time and effort to get some results, and there is nothing wrong with that. I’ve always said that it’s not how hard you work one time, it’s about how consistent you work over the long term. When you look at it like that, as long as you are consistent, you don’t have to be perfect all of the time.

No, you shouldn’t be having beer, chips, and dip everyday, but going crazy one BBQ a month isn’t going to ruin all of your effort. Missing a workout day every couple weeks won’t destroy your gains and having a piece of birthday cake at your niece’s first big day isn’t going to offset your diet very much on the whole. Work at being good 90% of the time and you’ll be on your way to a healthier, more functional body.

Unconventional Training for Jiu Jitsu – JJ MAG Dec/Jan 2011

So, you want to know how to enhance your fitness levels to improve your jiu-jitsu game? You want to know which muscles you need to develop your driving, sweeping, positioning, gripping, pushing, and pulling? I hate to say, it’s ALL OF THEM. More than that, you need more than full body strength, including grip, arm, shoulder, neck, core, and leg strength, you need full body conditioning (including muscle stamina) and proper mobility to balance that muscular development and help you avoid injury.

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The ONE Thing You Can Do to Achieve Your Fitness Resolution in 2015

The New Year’s Fitness Resolution; for most people, it’s nothing more than a sad reminder of how you failed to achieve the six pack, thigh-gap, or massive arms you wanted to achieve last year. Sure, you may have been gung-ho for the first couple weeks, but your enthusiasm quickly trailed off. Most people hit a wall after what I like to call, “fitness binging;” this is when you workout way too much and eat way too little when first starting a new fitness program, then fail, crash, and wait a month or more before trying it again.

There is a common theme in the majority of the fitness resolutions: they are aesthetically based.

Losing fat, building muscle, and “toning up” all deal with the same desire to look more attractive, which people hope will garner them with more confidence, entice the opposite sex, look sexy naked, etc.

Werewolf Legend BellThere is really nothing wrong with this (in another article I’ll talk about the “function” behind physical aesthetics), however, like most “skin-deep” goals, it’s hard to invest the necessary time and effort into achieving shallow objectives.

Let’s say that your goal in life is to have a high-performance car, would you be satisfied if you painted your 1999 Toyota Corolla red, added a racing spoiler, and applied some shinny hub caps? No! If you’re serious about getting a high performance car, you want it to RUN like a high performance car, not just look like one (and no, you’re Corolla won’t pass for that either). Finally getting what you truly desire is all the sweeter.

Worse yet, you probably won’t achieve your aesthetic-based objective anyways, no matter how shallow it is. The truth is that the visible side of fitness is the LAST thing you will most likely achieve. Most of the other benefits to exercise (like improved strength, endurance, agility, durability, etc.) will be felt much sooner.

The ONE Thing You Need for Fitness This Year


The one thing you need to do is both simple and extremely complex at the same time; you need to stop thinking of fitness as something you achieve, and start thinking about it as something you practice. What most people have been doing is what I like to call “Results Based Fitness,” but what most people need to do is “Skill Based Fitness.”

You need to stop thinking of fitness as something you achieve, and start thinking about it as something you practice.

Skill Based Fitness will change your entire mindset about exercise, shifting it from a near-term focus on physical goals into a long term focus on skill development.

Why would you want to look at fitness like this? I call it the “Riding a Bike Physical Degradation Paradigm.” The concept has to do with the rate at which different aspects of your physicality degrade over time.

Riding a Bike Physical Degradation Paradigm

Skill Development is what you need.One of the reasons why it’s hard to stay motivated and progressing over months or years is because there will always be pitfalls. I don’t care if you’re a fitness professional or not, life is rough, and illnesses, family issues, financial situations, and a million other reasons WILL delay or halt your training. If all you have developed is improved strength or conditioning, you will rapidly lose your gains.

In my experience, the physical enhancements gained through exercise degrade in the following order:

  1. Conditioning
  2. Strength
  3. Skill

The reason why the first two decline is due to the degradation of fast and slow-twitch muscle fibers (to learn more about that, read “How Quickly Do You Lose Gains from Strength Training“). The third, which I call “Skill,” is the last thing you lose.

Just like riding a bike, once you learn, you can pick it up again quickly, even if it’s been months or years. Having a skill in fitness also makes gains more efficient; you get injured less because you know proper form and your body’s limitations based on your past experience, you know exercise progressions and regressions based on the hundreds of exercises you know, and (again, similar to riding a bike), you can basically pick up where you left off (at least in terms of skill). All of these elements make getting back on the horse much easier. Are there methods that lend themselves better to skill development? Of course!

Unconventional Training & Skill Development

Unconventional Training: Calisthenics and Gym RingsUnconventional Training methods like kettlebells, steel maces, steel clubs, bodyweight training, and others lend themselves extremely well to skill development because of the following reasons:

1) Hundreds of Exercises

Each Unconventional Training implement was chosen because of its versatility. There are literally hundreds of exercises (not including compound movements) that can be performed which each implement.

2) Advanced Trainers

In Unconventional Training, progression means more than bigger muscles, more weight, or faster times, it means improved movement and expertise with the implement itself. You can think of it more like a martial arts instructor rather than a personal trainer.

3) Program Versatility

Unconventional Training implements can be used individually for any program focus (strength, conditioning, agility, etc.) or separately to support other training techniques. This means that no matter what your objective is at any given time, the skills you know with each implement will be applicable.

4) Rotational, Ballistic, & Core Training

A lot of credence is given to “functional training,” but few standard training methodologies offer the amount of functional benefits that Unconventional Training methods do. The reason that kettlebells, steel clubs, steel maces, etc. are so beneficial is because each one can be used for a variety of exercises that build your entire body through full body movements. Just a few of those movement types include rotational and ballistic exercises that constantly engage your core, and as any functional trainer will tell you, core strength is the key to functional abilities.

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Two Secret Methods for Obstacle Race Training

Obstacle races, with all of their rope climbs, uneven terrain sprints, spear throwing, and heavy carries, are just one of the many activities that can directly benefit from functional fitness tools like kettlebells, sandbags, steel maces, steel clubs, and suspension tools. Better yet, specific training methodologies like Unconventional Training are designed to build a fully capable athlete by balancing key fitness abilities like strength, conditioning, and agility.

Did you know that the ancients used two training methods that could massively enhance your ability to perform during obstacle races?

What if I told you that the most useful training methods that could enhance your obstacle race abilities don’t come from a high-tech training lab in a prestigious performance training center, but instead our ancestors from thousands of years ago? It makes sense if you think about it; who would have the best ability to run a jagged landscape full of obstacles.. a spearman hunting down his next meal or a warrior on an ancient battle field maybe?

While functional training is often touted as one of the keys to success for obstacle racing, there are several extremely useful implements that you’ve probably never even tried. Try combining these “new” warrior implements with some Unconventional Training protocols to dominate your next race!

The Steel Mace: The Key to Grip Strength

Steel Mace Erik Melland demonstrating an overhead squat.
Steel Mace Erik Melland demonstrating an overhead squat.

If you’re looking for the grip strength you need to pull any load across rough terrain and the grip endurance you need to hang from one bar while swinging to another, the Steel Mace is the fitness tool for you.

The Steel Mace is a recreation of an ancient training tool known as a Gada. It’s extremely simple; basically just a ball of steel at the the end of a 40 inch handle. Typical Steel Mace weights vary from 10 to 25 pounds; this may not sound like much, but the way the weight is distributed makes a huge difference! Even experienced Steel Mace users will still rely on a 25 pound Steel Mace for a list of exercises.

While some of the core benefits are found using traditional swinging/rotational exercises like 10-to-2’s and 360’s, this versatile implement can also be used as an offset barbell or sledgehammer.

Since the weight of the Steel Mace is located at the end of the handle, controlling movement requires much more grip and forearm strength than balanced implements like barbells and dumbbells. Simply gripping the Steel Mace off center and holding it horizontally will force your arms and grip to work much harder. The push/pull engagement necessary to keep it level with the ground will have you sweating in no time. Add movements like the Steel Mace Joust or the Curl Grip Squat into the equation and you’ll wear out your grip in under 60 seconds! Give this set a shot and find out what the Steel Mace can do for your grip.

Steel Mace Grip Workout Set

SET EXERCISE ROUNDS X WORK
A1: Steel Mace Curl Grip Squat 4 rounds x 30 seconds
A2: Steel Mace Joust 4 rounds x 30 seconds
REST: 30 seconds between rounds

The Steel Club: The Spartan’s Choice for Core Strength

Steel Club Expert John Wolf demonstrating the Front Press Lunge exercise.
Steel Club Expert John Wolf demonstrating the Front Press Lunge exercise.

How do you stabilize your core as you carry heavy loads up hills, rotate and contort your body to get up, around, and under obstacles, or take a hit while sprinting through the Gauntlet? You train for it! As any warrior should know, swinging a Steel Club is the best way to do that!

The Steel Club is exactly what it sounds like; a heavy, baseball bat-like piece of steel used for swinging. While your ancient ancestor could probably wield heavy clubs like a boss, you can’t. Not to worry though! The Steel Club is a relatively new unconventional training tool that combines the use of swinging and grinding movements to engage your arms and core more than almost any other piece of exercise equipment.

The cousin of the Steel Club is the Indian Club; an extremely popular shoulder and arm mobility tool used for hundreds of years across the globe. While the Steel Club utilizes some of the rotational movements that made Indian Club popular, it goes far beyond in its capacity for building iron core strength.

The use of the Steel Club is all about controlling unwanted body rotation. In order to stabilize both your body and the Steel Club through a list of hundreds of dynamic movements, you’ll need to focus on strengthening and controlling your core. This requirement enhances your ability to control your entire body, leading to enhanced performance in any challenge you may encounter.

Two exercises that can quickly engage your core and humble you to the potential of the Steel Club are the Steel Club Clock Squat and the Steel Club Alternating Pullover. These exercises will awaken your inner warrior while highlighting the weaknesses in both control and stability that you may have. Start light! While achievable with some practice, you can hurt yourself swinging any heavy weight around if you’re careless!

Steel Club Core Strength Set

SET EXERCISE ROUNDS X WORK
A1: Steel Club Clock Squat 1 to 10 Seesaw
A2: Steel Club Alternating Pullover 10 to 1 Seesaw
REST: None. Perform 1 Clock Squat then 10 Alternating Pullovers, then 2 Clock Squats and 9 Pullovers, etc.

I am NOT my body.

To get to a higher level of functional fitness, you may need to shift from a perspective of “I am my body” to “My body is an instrument to accomplish my purpose.”

5 New Ways to Set Up & Use Your Battle Ropes

Battle Ropes can be used for much more than simple wave drills if you know how to set them up. Learn how to use your Battle Rope for climbs, weight drags, and lifts using some simple tricks. Find out more about Onnit Battle Ropes.

Fitness Is Function Bodyweight DVD

The Fitness Is Function Bodyweight DVD combines complex movements and a variety of set schemes to help you quickly enhance your conditioning, strength, and power. The goal is to hit your entire body with functional benefits that will translate into the real world, as well as your other fitness methodologies. Bodyweight training, also known as Calisthenics, has been used for thousands of years to build strength and conditioning without implements. Better yet, bodyweight training has the added benefit of helping you control your body with more confidence and fluidity. Find out more about this bodyweight workout dvd.

Fitness Is Function Sandbag DVD

The Fitness Is Function Sandbag DVD focuses on combining a variety of multiplanular sandbag movements with a timed workout set scheme to give you fantastic gains in strength and conditioning. Unlike typical workout implements, the sandbag’s weight shifts and moves when you do, creating a much more dynamic and challenging workout. It requires you to utilize a variety of stabilization muscles that wouldn’t typically be used for basic lifts, especially for higher repetitions. Learn more about this sandbag workout dvd.

Fitness Is Function Kettlebell DVD

With the Fitness Is Function Kettlebell Workout DVD, you’ll learn some of the most effective, functional exercises available today. This workout DVD incorporates both kettlebell and bodyweight exercises to help you enhance your conditioning levels, improve your mobility and agility, and get you sweating. By using Progressive Exercise Variation, Mark de Grasse gives you a safe, effective method to learn how to properly utilize kettlebells. The 4 week program includes over 18 workouts and a daily schedule to make sure you get the results you’re looking for. Best of all, you can do the routines ANYWHERE: garage, living room, or even a walk-in closet! Only 50 square feet of space is all you need for a killer workout. Find out more about this Kettlebell DVD.