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In my last post, I mentioned how a deck of cards can provide a useful workout when staying in a hotel. It’s rare that I travel anywhere without cards. Card workouts aren’t your only option though. As you’ll see below, there’s plenty that can be done in a small hotel room. You don’t need a lot of space or any fancy equipment to perform an efficient, yet challenging session. Below, you’ll see one recent hotel workout of mine, and then I’ll share a takeaway lesson that extends far beyond any hotel room.
Hotel Workout Demonstration
First, here’s a quick demo of a hotel workout that I performed last month in New York City. I was away preparing Katie Taylor for her world title fight at Madison Square Garden. Fight week is always hectic, so I opt for short workouts in my room to make the most of my time.
On this day, I worked through a handful of exercises utilizing bodyweight, an ab wheel, and a 41-inch strong band from Iron Woody Fitness.
When I’m on the road, I don’t pay attention to sets and reps. Instead, I allocate a block of time (ex. 30 minutes) and strive to fit as much into the session as possible. I push myself hard with each set and rest as needed. Nothing is tracked. I never know how many sets or reps I’ve completed. Therefore, I suppose you could describe the workout as random.
It’s not senseless however, as I try to include some push, pull, lower body, and core. It doesn’t always work out that way though depending on time. If I’m quite busy, I might just perform a few sets of squats and pushups. As I’ve said before, something beats nothing.
Take Home Lesson
Despite the random and somewhat unpredictable nature of these workouts, one constant that always exists is effort. Regardless of what I do, I push myself to do the best that I can. I’m not just going through the motions so I can check that I trained from my To-Do List. Whether it’s 10, 20, or 30 minutes, I’m doing everything that I can to make the most of my time.
When I push myself to do the best that I can, good things tend to happen. I don’t need to be following a specific program or protocol. The specifics matter less than the intent behind the work. And that alone is a lesson that more people need to hear.
In summary, despite what the fitness industry would like you to believe, complex programming is not necessary. You can do well with almost anything if you are committed and consistent. I certainly didn’t regress while away for a week just because I wasn’t following any specific plan. In fact, it’s been almost 15 years since I followed a structured plan. That doesn’t mean I’ve thrown logic out the window. On the contrary, it is more a testament to the potential of common sense coupled with knowledge gained through experience. As the years pass, you tend to figure out what works for you and it’s not something that needs to be written down or followed precisely.
Show up regularly, work hard, strive to be your best, and you’ll do well with almost anything. It isn’t rocket science.
“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.” – Jim Rohn
I first wrote about deck of cards workouts back around 2003. At the time, I often used a deck of cards to create random sessions as finishers or brief mini-workouts. The format for a deck of cards workout is quite simple. You start with a fully shuffled deck of cards (52 cards). All face cards (Jack, Queen, and King) have a value of 10. Aces have a value of 11. Number cards will be face value (ex. 7 of spades = 7 pushups). Jokers are optional and can be set to any value or exercise.
Deck of Cards Workout Sample
Deck of cards workouts can have 2 or 4 exercises. If you choose two, black cards will designate one exercise and red cards the other (ex. black = pushups, red = squats). If you choose four exercises, each suit will designate its own exercise (ex. spades = pushups, clubs = sit-ups, hearts = squats, diamonds = pull-ups).
Below you can see a recent demonstration of a deck of cards workout using squats and pushups. The video is sped up so that you can see me work through the entire deck.
I’ve probably worked through the same squat/pushup workout a few hundred times in the last 15 years. Yet, after all these years, the brief session is still challenging and effective. In less than 10 minutes, I will perform a few hundred reps of calisthenics in a random and unpredictable format.
Deck of Cards Variations
After sharing the video demo to my Instagram page, I saw loads of comments from people discussing other variations. And it’s true, the workout options with a deck of cards are literally endless. Personally, I prefer a simple format however. I typically stick with two exercises as it spares me from thinking about what exercise corresponds with what suit. During these workouts, I’m not interested in thinking. I want to go from one set to the next as fast as possible.
For those interested in additional options though, you can use the Excel link below to create several unique variations. The file was created many years ago by one of the site’s early readers. I’ve hosted it online ever since.
An added benefit to the deck of cards workout seen above is that I can perform it anywhere. As a coach who often travels, it’s nice to have workout options that I can perform in a small hotel room. I don’t need equipment, very little space, and less than ten minutes.
There goes just about every excuse about not exercising when you’re on the road without access to a proper facility. As I’ve said before, you can always do something, and something beats nothing.
In summary, I often forget that there are many new readers to the site who aren’t familiar with the workouts and content that I shared many years ago. It was great to see so many people on social media who weren’t familiar with the deck of cards workout.
A deck of cards really provides a great option when time is limited or if you want to add a brief finisher to a longer session. Every deck of cards workout will be different based on the shuffling of the cards and it is something that you’ll never outgrow. I certainly haven’t.
“Success is all about consistency around the fundamentals.” – Robin Sharma
It’s been a while since I updated the site. Coaching has consumed most of my time, so I haven’t had many opportunities to write. What I have done though is continue to train the same way I always have. Thus, while I might not write as often as I once did, my work in the gym remains largely the same. I don’t waste time trying to reinvent the wheel. Instead, I work hard and remain consistent with what I already know to be effective.
Speaking of wheels, I’m still using a pair that I made over 15 years ago. Below you’ll see a quick compilation of rollouts that dates back to 2004.
After posting the rollout compilation, I saw a few comments from people asking what’s the point of consistency if you aren’t pursuing new challenges. The logic in that question is flawed however. You don’t need to do something new to demonstrate progress.
Being able to continually do what you once did (perhaps better than before) is an example of progress. And maintaining past ability becomes increasingly important as each year passes. Using myself as an example, the video above begins with footage of me in my 20s. You’ll then see me in my 30s and 40s. I might be older, but I’m also bigger, stronger, and more capable with the wheels than I was before. That is progress.
And if I’m able to continue using the wheels into my 50s, 60s, and beyond, that too will be progress. I don’t need to constantly seek out something that is new or different. I can continue to challenge myself with an exercise that’s already proven to be effective.
Variety vs. Consistency
Now that I’ve harped on the importance of consistency, let me shift gears quickly and remind you that being consistent does not mean you’re against variety. As I’ve said before, variety can be subtle. It’s possible to remain consistent with exercises that have proven beneficial, while including subtle forms of variety to prevent staleness.
For example, variety could mean changing your running route. It could mean changing your grip on the pull-up bar. It could mean performing handstand pushups from rings instead of handles. It could mean performing an exercise with thick handles instead of a standard bar. It could mean occasionally working with dumbbells instead of a barbell or vice versa.
The list goes on and on.
In summary, one of the biggest mistakes I see are the perpetual program jumpers who constantly hop from one idea to the next, without ever sticking with something long enough to reap the rewards. If you constantly shift gears and change programs, you never spend enough time working with anything to make any meaningful progress.
Once you’ve found an exercise or program that’s proven beneficial, there’s no reason to abandon it just for the sake of variety. I’d much rather use something that I know will work than take a chance on something that doesn’t have a proven track record. And please note, I’m not suggesting that you should never try new things. Just don’t be so quick to abandon what already works whenever you do.
If you follow my social media pages, you’ve likely seen me share videos that highlight the old school training approach of dominant athletes from the past. I’ve shared many examples over the years, but few attract as much attention as those of a young Mike Tyson. Under the tutelage of Cus D’Amato and Kevin Rooney, Mike Tyson became a 22-year-old world champion who was 35-0 with 31 knockouts.
Unfortunately, Cus D’Amato passed away in 1985 and Kevin Rooney was fired in 1988 (under Don King’s influence). As a result, we will never know how good Mike Tyson could have been. What we do know however was that he was a dominant force in his short prime. And during that time, Mike Tyson was a product of the old school. His training approach was devoid of any fancy equipment or facilities.
Mike Tyson Training Compilation
Below, you’ll find a training compilation of a young Mike Tyson. Within the video, you will see Tyson running, skipping rope, hitting the bag, sparring, performing calisthenics, and more.
What you won’t find is anything fancy. Just a constant dose of hard work with the basics.
Mike Tyson Hitting the Pads
Next, you’ll see a more detailed look at Mike Tyson hitting the pads with his trainer Kevin Rooney. Notice how he repeatedly practiced various combinations, footwork, and defense. The emphasis was clearly on skill development and practicing the sport itself.
As I’ve said before, the best way to become a better boxer is by spending more time boxing. And the same logic can be applied to any sport. Nothing is as important as sport practice. Everything else is secondary.
Simplicity and the Old School
One of the beauties of the old school was that no one was trying to sell athletes on the idea of an easier way. There weren’t constant advertisements for 30-day transformation programs or designer supplements that would catapult athletes to greatness. There was no easy approach. Instead, there were actually guarantees of a difficult road. It was expected that you would suffer. No one pretended otherwise.
Coaches and trainers were also different. They didn’t spend their days dreaming up new ideas to market on social media. Instead, they were content to use what worked without concern over who was watching. As for the approach, it was simple, yet effective. Hard work was the norm, and sport practice took precedence over everything else.
Take Home Lesson
Although this entry highlights the training of Mike Tyson, there is a take away lesson that is applicable to all. Regardless of your goals, hard work will always be the most important ingredient. Often, the methods that you use are less important than the effort put behind those methods.
When you consistently bust your ass and give everything you have, good things tend to happen. Success is the byproduct of hard and consistent work. The work doesn’t need to be fancy or flashy. It just needs to be done, and it won’t always be fun.
As a professional boxing coach, my job description is simple. I prepare fighters to win. There are no bonuses for being different or original. In the sporting world, real athletes and coaches are measured by results. No one cares about what methods you use to achieve those results. It’s the end product that matters.
Thus, I don’t have any hidden agendas when preaching the benefits of the old school approach. I don’t receive an old school commission check for training my fighters similarly to how many of the greats from the past trained. I am only using what I believe to be the most effective approach, and I’ve tried just about everything.
In summary, don’t be so quick to assume that anything beyond a few years old is somehow outdated and archaic. Effective training techniques are everything but new. And as much as I remain open to new ideas, I’m experienced enough to know that improving on the past isn’t nearly as common as many in today’s’ era would like you to believe.
I’m back after a busy few months of training camp and a recent trip to Philadelphia where Katie Taylor and I picked up our third world title with a 9th round stoppage over previously undefeated Rose Volante. Katie now holds the WBA, IBF, and WBO lightweight world titles. There is just one belt remaining to become the undisputed champion.
Delfine Persoon (43-1) holds the WBC belt and we are hopeful for a fight with her in June at the Madison Square Garden in New York City. Delfine is a strong champion herself so it should make for an action packed world title fight. I’ll be sure to post updates to my social media channels when the fight is officially announced.
In the meantime, thanks to everyone for the continued support and I will get back to updating the blog again soon.
“Boxing is the ultimate challenge. There’s nothing that can compare to testing yourself the way you do every time you step in the ring.” – Sugar Ray Leonard
It’s hard to believe that almost fifteen years have passed since I began writing the original Never Gymless book. The years really do fly by. I still remember thinking of the title after finishing a series of hill sprints back in 2005. Plenty has changed since that time, but one thing that hasn’t is the premise of the book. I still run the same hill, and I can always train no matter where I am or what I have.
Still Never Gymless
Something else that hasn’t changed is my continued desire to practice what I preach. Below is a brief compilation of the Never Gymless concept in action. With a little creativity, you can train almost anywhere with almost anything.
Never Gymless - YouTube
See the Forest for the Trees
Whenever I share outdoor training footage, there’s always someone in the crowd who misinterprets the message. I’m not suggesting that you cancel your gym membership. I honestly don’t care where you train. Just don’t come at me with an excuse that you have nowhere to train.
If you want to train, find a way. That’s the message I hope to convey when sharing footage such as that above. In other words, make the most of what you have, rather than worrying about what you’ve been fooled to believe you need. It’s a great feeling to be able to train anywhere with whatever is accessible to you.
In addition, regardless of where you typically train, it’s nice to have options. For example, as I’m writing this entry, the snow is falling heavily in my area. The roads are treacherous, so you won’t find many people driving to one of the local gyms. Fortunately, poor road conditions are irrelevant to my training. I can train anywhere. I have nothing against a fully equipped gym, but I sure as hell don’t need one.
The Never Gymless mentality is also efficient. Speaking as a boxing coach and business owner, hectic days are a way of life for me. Free time is essentially nonexistent. It’s not unusual for me to work long hours, 6 or 7 days per week. Therefore, if I can achieve a quality workout without driving to a gym, I’ve freed up time that can be applied elsewhere. Increased productivity while avoiding the hassle of being stuck in traffic is what I call a win-win situation.
Furthermore, in today’s day and age, people seem to be spending more and more time glued to their electronics. I hardly even see kids playing at the local parks. That’s a damn shame. It’s healthy to get outside and breathe in some fresh air. Our ancestors sure as hell didn’t evolve to be hunched over staring at mobile phones and tablets all day. Put down the electronics and head outside. Whether you are walking, running, riding a bike, or performing a few sets of calisthenics, your body and mind will thank you.
In summary, success does not depend on the tools that you own, but rather what you are willing to do with whatever is around you. Thus, stop making excuses about where you are or what you need. It doesn’t matter. You can always do something. There’s almost always someone out there who has done more than you (and me) with less.
So, use what you have, be consistent and creative, and good things will happen in time.
“The less I needed, the better I felt.” – Charles Bukowski
Following a recent post about training in my forties, my inbox has been flooded with questions about injuries. Apparently, many assume that I must be plagued by injuries based on how I continue to train at my age. Fortunately, that is not the case. I’ve been injury free for 20+ years. With that in mind, I have posted a follow up video where I share my thoughts on the subject.
Dealing with and Preventing Injuries
Injury prevention is a topic that I take quite seriously based on my own experience with injuries as a young athlete. I know the frustration and pain of being sidelined by injuries so it’s my hope that others can learn from the mistakes that I once made. Over the years, I’ve learned how to train effectively without beating myself up or running myself into the ground.
Injuries and Training - YouTube
In summary, there’s obviously no guarantees against accidents or injuries, but we can all be proactive by training intelligently to avoid mishaps. As I’ve said many times before, the goal of training is to become stronger and more resilient. There’s no glory in pushing through structural pain just to complete a workout. I train to improve myself, not run myself into the ground. If your training leaves you constantly beat up and fatigued, you are doing it wrong.
Make a change on your terms before an injury leaves you with no other options.
As mentioned recently, one of my goals for 2019 is to bring my old YouTube channel back to life. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m happy to say that I’ve uploaded eight videos in January. That’s more than I did in all of 2018. I hope to keep the momentum going, but first let me provide some additional information regarding the two latest videos.
Neck Training with Bands
Following a recent band training video, I received several questions about neck training. With that in mind, I created the follow up video below. Yet, since sharing the update, I am continuing to receive questions about what size bands to use.
Personally, I am using a 41-inch medium band from Iron Woody Fitness, but I’d be more likely to suggest a small or mini band for neck training. I just happened to have the medium band out when creating the video. You really do not need much resistance for this exercise though.
Neck Training With Resistance Bands - YouTube
Low-Tech, High-Effect Power Training
I also recently shared a power training video where I demonstrated a variety of low-tech tools. A few of the tools are commercial, while the majority are homemade. First, I’ll share the video, and then provide links with additional information regarding the equipment.
Low-Tech, High-Effect Power Training - YouTube
Portable Landmine – I’ve seen loads of questions come in about the first exercise. I’m performing that movement with a portable landmine device. A close up image can be seen below. I purchased it for around $40 at Amazon. I’ve had it for around 2 years and it’s been great.
Heavy Medicine Ball – As for the monster sized medicine ball, it is homemade. You can find a past entry about it here.
Throwing Bag – The large bag that I’m seen throwing approximately 35 seconds into the video is also homemade. Refer to this past entry for additional information.
Tornado Ball – The crude looking tornado ball has also been featured on the blog before. You can find instructions on making your own here.
Monster Tire – Lastly, the monster tire used for flipping and as a sledgehammer and medicine ball rebounder was acquired for free. Within this entry, you’ll find information about how to acquire and use a similar tire.
In summary, I plan to continue updating my YouTube channel regularly. I’ll also be sharing similar videos to Facebook and abbreviated versions to Instagram. If there’s anything in particular that you’d like to see, feel free to message me with suggestions.
“Every day, you reinvent yourself. You’re always in motion. But you decide every day: forward or backward.” – James Altucher
In a recent entry, I stated that consistency is my greatest weapon. There’s nothing fancy about how I train, but I don’t miss days. Thus, I’m never forced to start over and regain momentum. And momentum is powerful. I know what it’s like to have (from a training standpoint), but I also know what it’s like to lose in other areas. So, within this entry, I’ll share my strengths and struggles regarding the beast that I call momentum.
For our purposes, we can define momentum as strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events.
And it’s this simple definition that highlights the importance of starting. Just get up and go. Because action, motion, and forward progress create momentum.
Conversely, there’s no chance to build momentum if we are lost in paralysis by analysis. In other words, don’t overthink things. Regardless of your goals, you don’t need to have all the answers before starting. Often times, the best thing to do is to take a step forward.
Initially, you may not know where you’re going, but as the forward steps accumulate, so does your momentum. And it’s that momentum that allows you to learn by doing. You suddenly find a path, new ideas arise, and now you’re making progress.
When we think of momentum as strength or force gained by motion, that essentially summarizes my training. I am far from perfect, but one thing I am is consistent. Regardless of how I feel, I get up and go. I always do something.
As I’ve said before, something beats nothing. I am living proof. I don’t follow any fancy routines. On the contrary, my training is almost completely devoid of complexity.
Yet, it’s amazing how much can be accomplished when you work hard and remain consistent. My own consistent effort has allowed me to ride the wave of momentum for multiple decades now.
Good things happen when you bust your ass regularly.
Yes, I know all about the power of momentum. Unfortunately, I also know what it’s like to lose, and how difficult it can be to regain.
Long time readers of this site may know what I’m talking about. A few years ago, I used to update this blog several times a week. I was always busy working on new projects as well (ex. books, DVDs, etc.).
Eventually though, I got so busy coaching that I lost my creative momentum. The days started flying by and I forgot what it was like to be the person who started this site.
Many moons ago, I created this blog to share as much information with as many readers as possible. That was the goal, but I’ve failed in recent years. And that’s unfortunate because I’m wiser and more experienced now than ever before.
What’s the Point?
Some might be wondering why I’m writing about how I’ve struggled to write. Bear with me though, as I believe there’s an important lesson or two here.
First, it’s entirely possible to have momentum in some parts of your life, while struggling in others. Real life isn’t the highlight reel that many pretend it to be on social media. Real life is challenging, and no one is immune to such difficulties. We all need to recognize this simple fact.
Second, I also believe it is important to highlight, rather than hide, our own faults and flaws. I’m not ashamed to admit where I’ve failed, as doing so is often the first step necessary to turn the tide.
It’s impossible to fix a problem if you aren’t willing to admit that it exists.
Fortunately, the solution to regaining momentum (in anything) is quite simple. It’s the execution that can be difficult.
It all boils down to action. You either do or you don’t. But when you do act, good things tend to happen.
For example, I sat down to write this entry an hour ago and here I am. It’s almost done. I would have never arrived here if I didn’t take that first step forward.
In summary, momentum is a beast. I’ve seen it in action as a coach and it is invaluable. The strength gained through motion can be incredible. Once again though, nothing happens without action.
So, stop delaying, get up, and go. That’s my plan, and anyone else who’s lost momentum is welcome to join me.
Back in 2017, I wrote about flying into my 40s (see here). The entry came a few weeks after my 40th birthday. The gist of the post was quite simple. In short, I wasn’t going to slow down because I hit 40. Naturally though, it was easy to make that statement only a few weeks into my new age bracket. Thus, here’s a follow up that comes two years after the original post. I now have some legitimate experience in my 40s so I’m more qualified to speak on the subject.
2018 Training Recap
For starters, I am happy to say that I have fulfilled my vow. I haven’t slowed down one bit. I honestly can’t say that I feel any different today vs. how I felt five, ten, or fifteen years ago. I don’t sit around and analyze what may or may not have changed. Instead, I just continue to wake up each day and move. That’s my only secret.
2018 Training Recap - Another Year in my 40s - YouTube
I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, consistency remains my greatest weapon. Or, as an old saying suggests, first we make our habits, and then our habits make us. I am a testament to those words. There’s nothing fancy or flashy about how I train, but you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who is more consistent.
A day rarely passes without me training or moving in some fashion. And it’s that type of consistency that has allowed me to feel no different today than I did many years ago. I’ve always felt that when you consistently do something, you never notice much of a difference from day to day, even as the weeks and months pass. Conversely, perhaps the fastest way to notice your age is to take an extended break from action and then be forced to start again.
When you keep moving forward each day, you don’t have time to think about whether you’ve regressed. Your focus is positive instead of negative. The only proof I have of my age is what’s listed on my driver’s license. It’s not as if I remember the day my mother gave birth. And as crazy as that might sound, I live with that mentality. I don’t wake up each day worrying about age. I’m too busy living to take notice.
In fact, the only time I mention age is when I’m writing on this blog in hopes of possibly inspiring someone who’s reading. And while that may seem insignificant, I’ve never understood those who constantly remind us that they’re getting old. Yes, we all technically age with each second that passes, but to harp on it only speeds the process. Your age is irrelevant to enjoying the moment.
Training Without Ego
Another important piece of the aging puzzle is to put your ego aside. When I train, I’m not worried about doing better or worse than anyone else. I’m also not concerned about constantly smashing personal bests. Instead, I’m happy to include lighter days when needed. I’ve actually come to enjoy such work.
In many ways, that mentality is new to me. When I was younger, my competitiveness often got the best of me. Whatever I did was never enough. I always wanted more. I craved the rush of smashing through a goal. Now that I’m older and wiser, I appreciate more that I’m able to move freely without pain, injury, or illness. That doesn’t mean I still don’t push myself. I’m just focused more on the process rather than the result. I’m happy doing my thing and I won’t lose sleep if a keyboard warrior doesn’t approve.
In summary, I certainly don’t view myself as an aging expert, as I still consider myself young. All I can do is share my own experience, which in my eyes is nothing special. There’s nothing glorious about waking up and grinding each day. It’s a lifestyle. It just so happens that such a lifestyle has helped to keep my body and mind strong and sharp as the years have passed.