Skip to main content

Book Review: Al Kavadlo’s Zen Mind, Strong Body

Al Kavadlo Wise Mind Strong Body Book Review

If you’ve seen Al Kavadlo all over the place lately, it’s for good reason. Al is one of the hardest working trainers out there, and the most unconventional. Here I review his latest book, Zen Mind, Strong Body.

After being in the fitness industry for a while, I can honestly say that Al Kavadlo is one of the most successful unconventional trainers I know. That means a lot considering that I know literally thousands of trainers and have worked directly with hundreds and hundreds of trainers over the years to create magazines, books, certifications, and entire fitness organizations!

Al is extremely unconventional, even in our current (and growing) age of performance and functional training. He has a strong fitness and life philosophy which he pairs with solid, actionable principles. This allows him to create excellent, consistent content that is both interesting and useful.

I’ve had the honor of publishing a few of Al’s articles in my old magazine, My Mad Methods. Each time he sent me an article I was delighted by his breadth of knowledge, ability to translate concept training principles into useful information for any reader, and his enthusiasm for both fitness and helping people.

Fortunately, his book is no different. Page after page of a happy guy telling you how to improve your life through fitness and encouraging you to do so.

No Equipment Needed

Al Kavadlo Review

Translating the concept of training without equipment to a world that has been sold on gyms, workout gear, and technology for decades is tough, but Al seems to manage it with a smile. Not just ONE smile mind you, but thousands of smiles which he confidently displays while displaying a variety of advanced calisthenics movements like human flags, handstands, planches, levers, etc.

Al Kavadlo is no stranger to equipment; over the years he has spent in the fitness industry, he has used both conventional and unconventional methodologies. From kettlebells to sandbags to barbells, he’s trained with them all. He’s done parkour, martial arts, yoga, marathons, and triathlons.

After it all, he came to the conclusion that calisthenics was his purest way of training, and set about creating a system around it.

Al calls his system “Progressive Calisthenics,” and it’s based around a set of philosophies which I truly believe myself. Here is the basic definition as described in his book:

Calisthenics is an open-ended, individualized fitness modality centered around the concept that one’s own body weight (and the proper manipulation of leverage) can provide ample resistance for strength training, regardless of one’s current fitness level.

It’s a beautifully efficient statement that gives you all the information you need to get hooked on the concept. For someone like me who constantly preaches longevity in fitness and training, it’s perfect. You get a never ending program that can constantly push you forward based on your personal status and goals FOR FREE (no equipment needed).

Covering the Bases

Al Kavadlo Covers all the basics.

Al Kavadlo has written a lot of books and articles, shot a lot of videos, trained a lot of people. This has given him a ton of exposure to a wide range of people who have taken his information, applied it, and come back with lots of useful questions. Being the helpful guy that he his, Al has taken the most common questions and answered them in this book.

He answers a list of questions that a lot of people ask most trainers, including:

How do I get better at [insert advanced exercise]?

How do I get a better body?

How do I get in shape for [enter common life event]?

What’s the difference between gymnastics and calisthenics?

What’s the difference between building mass and building strength?

Al covers all of these topics (and many more) with style and humor. The advice he offers on them is extremely useful, and you come away from reading his answers thinking, “Yup, that sums it up. I should do more pull ups and handstands.”

Other Useful Stuff

Al Kavadlo Progressive Calisthenics

Most people don’t realize it, but writing and finding unique content in fitness can be tough. While I’ve met hundreds of extremely innovative and capable trainers, few of them believe they can write. Even if they do believe they can write, they often don’t simply because they don’t know what to write about (if this is you, please contact me and I’ll give you an endless amount of topics).

What we’re left with a lot of the time is good content writers that write for fitness websites who actually know nothing about fitness. They don’t train anyone, and may not even train themselves. But, they do know how to look up common fitness information and pair it with a fancy pic of a guy with a 6-pack.

Al Kavadlo is a good writer with good ideas and tons of experience. He’s funny, interesting, and happy, and that provides for lots of stuff that you can use to improve your body and life. Here’s some other awesome information you’re going to get with this book:

  • The Five Levels of Bodyweight Strength (I love this concept)
  • Calisthenic Alternatives to Common Weight Lifts
  • Tips on Achieving Advanced Calisthenic Movements (like the Muscle Up)
  • No-BS Nutrition Tips (extremely simple to follow for anyone)

Go Get Al Kavadlo

Go get Al Kavadlo's New Book

As you may have gathered, I enjoyed this book. Simple, actionable, interesting, and he cusses for emphasis at some points (I’m a fan of doing this as well). If you are someone who has trained forever using conventional methods, it will give you an excellent insight into a new training possibility. If you’re an unconventional trainer/trainee, it will sell you on incorporating more calisthenics into your training. Click Here to get it from Amazon.

If you want to learn more about Al Kavadlo and enjoy more of his writing, go to'


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.

Leave a Reply