Do you accept them or do run from them? If you are never challenging yourself or always staying in your comfort zone, how can you really have any success?
When you train do you throw on the same 225lbs on the bench year in and year out only to see no growth in your chest?
What if you had slowly added weight to the bar over the last year and 225lbs for 5 reps is now 245lbs for 5 reps?
Would your shirts fit different? Would your chest be bigger?
Do you go to the squat rack each week and perform putrid half squats with too much weight?
Does it baffle you that your legs are still weak and resemble pipe cleaners when the year ends? What if you had squatted deep into the bucket and forced your legs and core to work hard to help you rise from the hole?
Are you using 405lbs because you can handle the weight or are you using it to impress the uninitiated lifters of the gym with your pathetic partial version? Is your ego preventing you from being a real lifter and squatting correctly?
The thing that you must do right now is to lose the ego and the laziness. Challenges will mold you into a better lifter and a better human being. I have a story to tell you about the ultimate challenge.
The year was 2012. I was scanning the web while listening to my Miley Cyrus CD and reading more about training when I came across a video on YouTube entitled the “Lunges of Death.” I am a challenge junkie and this peaked my interest tremendously.
Already one of the most brutal moves of all time, the barbell walking lunge was now being performed in a seemingly impossible situation of walking it 100 yards from goal line to goal line with 185lbs. The only way to win this challenge is to score a touchdown.
Now I have performed barbell walking lunges in the parking lot during and after lower body workouts but it never dawned on me to attempt it for 100 yards.
The first official (and only other attempt) Lunges of Death that I saw was first attempted by Adam Rees, a strength coach out of Iowa and the owner of Grit Gym.
Rees looked as if he was a big and strong athlete in my estimation weighing around 215-225lbs. He valiantly gave the Lunges of Death a shot and gave a heck of an effort. He fell short at 60 yards with 185lbs strapped to his back.
After watching this I became inspired and then decided I had to give it a try. But the stakes had to make the challenge seemingly unfeasible.
Even though I typically weigh 162-170lbs, the same 185lb barbell lunge that Rees used would be used.
Now, this would be extremely difficult as the bar would outweigh me. But my belief in myself, my strength and conditioning level, and my ability to have success in adverse situations are second to none.
I always stress to my clients and people in general that the MENTAL aspect of the fitness game is way more important than the physical aspect.
Think about the Flu Game with Michael Jordan or Curt Schilling with a blown ankle winning the World Series. These men were in extreme physical pain but overcame it mentally and had monumental success.
When I brought the idea out to friends, fellow trainers, and associates, the response across the board was “You have ZERO chance.”
The average man may break down after hearing that from even close friends and even some family but this motivated me to unearthly levels of motivation. How could 99 percent of the people I know just flat out say it could not be done? The first attempt was officially set up for September 29th, 2013.
Training for the Ages
In order to prepare for this, I programmed barbell and dumbbell lunges into my scheme. They are always a part of the plan but now they had to be performed in a fashion that would try to simulate the Lunges of Death.
The first lower body day would involve heavy barbell step back lunges using a 5×5 scheme. This was to develop as much strength as possible to make 185lbs feel as light as possible. I topped this phase out by doing sets of 255lbs for 10 reps.
Most people never do the barbell lunge which baffles me. It is truly a total leg movement but like most great moves it is ignored for the likes of some new, fancy and overhyped machine.
In today’s get fit quick society shortcuts are commonplace like skinny jeans and old-fashioned hard work is unpopular like I was in high school.
The fear that you will get injured while performing barbell lunges is also a myth. Injuries come primarily from bad form, incorrect preparation, or unaddressed pre-existing injuries. It can definitely be loaded heavy (relative) if it is being performed correctly.
The second lower body day would involve walking dumbbell lunges using Vince Gironda’s classic 8×8 scheme. This was to develop the supreme conditioning needed to lunge for 100 yards.
Barbell lunges are a big time heartrate move. Even if you are in great condition, you will be hurting real bad. I had to make sure I was in excellent condition to even attempt this.
On top of the lower body lifting days, I ran tough sprint workouts on Saturdays to ensure my conditioning would not be an issue at all. This was a brutal six weeks of top-level programming but I felt amazing coming out of it.
I took seven full days off the week after the scheme was over to heal my body and get rejuvenated. I felt ready and prepared to take care of business. However, one question remained…was my programming enough to set me up for this insane challenge?
At this point do not scroll down any further until you view the video. It will ruin the story like the family member who tells you the ending to a movie when you have never even seen the movie yet. PLEASE watch this entire video before reading any more of the article!
As you see I failed and I got folded at 71 yards. And even though the 71 yards was now the longest recorded LOD (lunge of death) of all time, I was not even close to satisfied. This was a major disappointment.
The goal was to do 100 yards and so in my eyes, this attempt was a failure. This is like a music artist who was aiming for their album to go platinum but it only went gold. Admirable, but not the goal.
As far as why I failed, I felt fine (very, very relative) as far as my legs, heart, and mind went. The issue was that my mid/lower back was locked up like Akon in 2004. If you have ever felt mid-lower back fatigue then you know it is crippling and it can fold anyone.
During the LOD my back fatigue was 1000 times worse than any deadlift or squat workout I have ever done in my life. I could feel my back muscles bulging and it felt like they were going to rip out of my skin.
When I do not accomplish something the first thing I look for is the reasons why. I had to look in the mirror and figure out what happened. I deduced that the issue was not a matter of fitness or strength but it came down to flexibility and mobility which I was absolutely lagging behind in.
I set a date of October 26th, 2013 for the second attempt but in the meantime, the focus was to work extensively on my flexibility and mobility. I had to release my lower back in order to have a chance for this challenge.
There are areas of fitness that I am highly skilled at and areas where I am not the greatest. Stretching and mobility were not my greatest attributes and never have been dating back to collegiate track. But I was determined to fix these issues.
I scanned the web for techniques and tactics to help release the lower back. I learned a lot from the great Joe Defranco and the very knowledgeable Kai Wheeler.
Specifically, Joe Defranco introduced me to the lacrosse ball for releasing muscle tension and Kai Wheeler introduced me to a few new stretches for the hips and glutes that I had never done before.
I implemented this newfound knowledge into my program and my back tightness and fatigue began to dissipate quickly. But a familiar fear and anxiety was beginning to set in because the ominous date of October 26th was quickly approaching.
Anxiety and Fear
The human body is very resilient and training hard is a great way to test it. My approach to training has always been that there is never an excuse for someone to outwork and out-hustle you.
You may not be as big or as muscular because at the end of the day genetics are the father of a person’s size and structure. But YOU ultimately determine how hard you want to work and how much heart you will put into it.
Being a smaller man most of my life I have always trained with a chip on my shoulder which led to creating a training system, The Fit Coast Offense, that is extremely tough and keeps you highly accountable.
But of all the training schemes I have ever done the Lunges of Death installed a fear and anxiety into me that is unmatched.
Hill sprints in 99-degree weather and extremely difficult compound supersets do not even come close. The anxiety of the approaching date mixed with fear of trying to walk 100 yards with 185lbs strapped on your back is rough.
You have to keep your mind as solid as possible, but somehow fear sneaks in. And the ominous black cloud of failing once before loomed over me too like a vulture over an expired carcass. But the time and the day of October 26th was here.
Day of Domination
The day did not go as planned.
I awoke to some wonderful low back fatigue. Even with 7 days off and my back feeling great all week, today was the day for the fatigue to return.
The weather, which was a fantastic 73 degrees the first time was now predicted to be 45-50 degrees and windy when I planned on going out there. Not super cold, but when you factor in the wind and a setting sun it can get chilly quickly.
I do not like cold weather at all. And on top of that, the fear of this challenge was now taking over my mind.
All of these things happening and going against me presented the perfect opportunity to try to complete this challenge. If you can excel when the odds are against you, you will become unstoppable no matter what you do in life.
I had a high carb, high protein shake to start the day. A short few hours later a pre-workout meal of a Chipolte burrito.
Heavy dosages of carbs and protein would be necessary to fuel me through this. My pre-workout remained the same as it always is which is black coffee and creatine.
I also had about eight tangerines. I was going all out because I knew I would need a lot of energy.
But I had to wait for one of my peers and training partners, Chris Gilbert to finish training his clients before I could get out there because someone had to film it.
With his arrival coming around 5pm it looked as if I would be performing in the cold. I called one of my young proteges, Cory Scott to accompany me out there a little earlier to get warmed up. Once Chris arrived, it was showtime.
Again do not ruin the story by skipping ahead. PLEASE watch the entire video below before reading any more of this article!
IT HAS BEEN DONE.
The lunges of death was completed for the first time ever!
This could be called the training equivalent of breaking the 4 minute mile or landing a man on the moon in the sense of this is the first time is has ever been completed and recorded. It was an extremely daunting challenge and it took every single ounce of moxie and gumption I had inside of me to get it done.
It is crazy because the challenge works in phases.
20 yards in and I’m thinking everything is going to be fine.
40 yards in and I am beginning to feel the onset of horrific pain.
60 yards in and my hands began to go numb.
When I passed 71 yards, I felt a sense of relief and a sense of agony at the same time. The relief that I exceeded my old world record and agony knowing the challenge was not even close to being finished.
And at 80 yards in, I began to taste victory even though I felt my familiar sensation that my back beginning to pulsate out of my body and through my skin.
I always tell clients and trainees that in order to get past your physical limits of pain you must turn your brain off and direct your focus to the task at hand. If your mind gives in to the fatigue then it is all over for you like a lowly rated sitcom.
The difference this time was that my back did not really begin to get tight until the end of the walk. And by then I knew I had to push through the searing pain because I was so close to slaying this giant dragon. I must thank Joe DeFranco and Kai Wheeler for their insight.
I feel that what stops a fitness professional from learning new ideas is pride. Reading articles daily will keep your mind fresh. And although 90 percent of advice and articles can truly qualify as bro-science or pure garbage, there are some very knowledgeable folk in the game who offer top-flight advice.
Now as for you who is reading this, my goal was to show you that through hard work and a belief in yourself you can achieve things that are seemingly impossible. Trust me there will always be naysayers and doubters around telling you that you cannot have success. But you have to cancel them out and focus on achieving your goal. Use their opinions as fuel.
Trust me there will always be naysayers and doubters around telling you that you cannot have success. But you have to cancel them out and focus on achieving your goal. Use their opinions as fuel.
The Lunges of Death is the ultimate physical challenge but also the ultimate mental challenge. You can be supremely fit and STILL fail as I found out. Get your mind right first, address your weaknesses, and then begin your walk to greatness!
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