10 Questions With One of the World’s Top Special Forces Trainers

July 5, 2010

So I am extremely excited to introduce you to a whole new view of training and a paradigm shift when it comes to being fit. I know some of you reading this will have heard of Scott Sonnon, but I bet you haven’t read too many interviews with the guy. The reason for this is that he is one of the premier special forces trainers in the world right now. He is in serious demand right now, training counter-terrorism unit, Navy SEALS, police forces, SWAT teams, etc. He spent 6 years traveling all around Russia and masterminded with former USSR Olympic Coaches and trainers of Russian Special Forces. He took this cutting-edge research and improved upon it during those 6 years and has been introducing it to the U.S. These days, everyone wants to pick his brain when it comes to fitness and conditioning. He doesn’t have a whole heck of a lot of time to do interviews, but luckily I nailed a quick Q&A with him. The following is one of the best interviews I’ve had on this site so far.

[Ever heard of terms like “Stored Elastic Energy” or “Sequential “Summation of Forces”? When you learn conditioning from Scott, prepare add about 10-20 new terms to your vocabulary!]

How I Landed The Interview With Scott Sonnon

Back in October of last year, I purchased a fat loss course put together by Adam Steer and Ryan Murdock. I dropped my gym membership setup a private blog for people from this site who also purchased the course. I spent 3 months posting to this private blog daily and worked through this tough program along with everyone else. Out of the 200+ that joined me on the private blog, less than 20 finished the program to completion with me. I learned that Scott Sonnon was the guy behind what Ryan and Adam were teaching and that they learned these brutal (but effective) training techniques from him. All 20 of us who finished the program got great results, but it was a tough and humbling 90 day period. I knew that I wanted to eventually get an interview with Scott. It took some time, but Adam and Ryan finally hooked me up. Thanks guys!

Rusty: Okay Scott, you have some serious credentials. I have about a zillion questions that you could answer, but I will keep this narrowed down to Special Ops Training. So how did you go from martial arts to full blown trainer for the Russian Special Forces and Israeli Counter-Terrorism Units?


Scott:
I happened to be in the wrong place at the right time, and I guess I had the perfect combination of character flaws to want to go places others are smart enough to steer clear of. As a multiple-time champion and national coach of SAMBO – Russia’s national wrestling style — I was offered a difficult choice.

I could be the first American to formally intern in Russia at the SAMBO-70 Academy, or I could be dropped into a government “think tank” of trainers made up of ex-USSR Olympic coaches, Russian Special Forces, Military Intelligence and Political Security. I chose the latter…

…and I spent 6 years traveling back and forth to Russia and all around that country. I gained incredible insights into the now defunct Soviet Superhuman Sports Machine. Fortunately, we were able to absorb their research and take it to the next level in our country.

Over the years our work has leaked out of the government side and into the sports community – the NFL, NHL, MLP, UFC, etc… – and eventually out into mainstream awareness through public fitness programs. But I still nurture my contracts in the special operation and federal law enforcement communities, because frankly, I find them easiest to relate to. I guess I’ve never been quite right in the head. I find that by going where I’ve never been within myself, finding out just how deep this apparently bottomless rabbit hole of human potential goes, seeing both life and training as a martial art to be mastered every day, I can only find solace with other like-minded spirits who revel in the same brand of spiritual masochism. For me, it’s an honor to train among them and to share my experiences with them, whether that be with our hard-core heroes here at home or when I’m invited to train allies like the Israeli special forces and the Italian secret service.

Rusty: I went through a course by Adam Steer and Ryan Murdock last year that was tailored around your Circular Strength Training principles. This might be the first routine that actually increased my flexibility and increased range of motion. Can you explain why your techniques are so much better than traditional stretching for flexibility?

Scott: In general, static flexibility training is meant to change the resting length of soft tissue. It stretches tissues long or hard enough to cause a permanent deformation, much like pulling a plastic bag until it can’t spring back to its original length. You certainly could address tight muscles that way, but ultimately it’s a danger to joint integrity, and it isn’t helpful for muscle growth or sports performance.

By contrast, mobility exercises focus on restoring the natural range of motion of the tissues surrounding a joint complex. It’s a little bit like shaking out a muscle when it’s tight. Tension is a frequency, and meeting it with vibrations of the same frequency releases and restores the natural resting length of all muscles involved. It’s more complex than just shaking out a muscle of course, but that can be a starting point.

[I turned 40 this year as did Scott. One of us is really flexible. Can you guess who? Hint: it isn’t me by a long shot!]

Understanding why mobility exercise produces superior results over static stretching requires a quick primer from the leading edge of anatomical theory. The structure of the body resembles two bags connected to each other. The inner bag contains the hard stuff: bones and cartilage. The outer bag holds the muscle, and it’s tacked down to the inner bag at the points we refer to as “insertions.” If you want to restore the resting length of a muscle, you must first release the inner bag at the points where it connects two or more bones – the “joint capsules.” Releasing the inner bag not only gives you the ability to load and absorb resistance in exercise, but since the body’s balance, coordination, agility and reactive strength all lies there, it also improves your sports performance and the contractibility of your muscles, allowing you to grow bigger and stronger.

Both static flexibility training and regular resistance training cause the outer bag to become glued down to other bags, forming attachments or “adhesions.” If you don’t use mobility exercise to restore the resting length of these tissues, the tightly knotted muscles become thick and leathery, and they shorten. Short, tight muscles have less ability to contract, which means you’ll plateau fast in your training, and you’ll stop growing.

Mobility keeps your outer bags fluid and prevents them from being glued down. It also releases the inner bag, so you’re always growing.

Rusty: My guess is a lot of the special forces guys you train, and bodyguards are probably similar to me when they start out. They are traditional gym trained guys who are in great shape, but most likely get rocked by your routine. What do you find are the biggest weak points for guys who haven’t gone through your flow and Circular Strength Training based routines?

Scott: “Get rocked” is a pretty accurate description. The biggest lack I see in guys who come from the “Go Big or Go Home” mentality is that they’re incapable of moving pain- and injury-free through any obstacle with ease and imagination. By contrast, my guys and gals move very much like parkour or cirque performers within just a few weeks of training. It has to do with two geek concepts that I learned from Russian bioengineers: Stored Elastic Energy (the ability to absorb and retranslate force – to change direction, twist, bend, dive, climb, and leap suddenly and from odd angles), and Sequential Summation of Forces (or “expressible power” – the difference between getting hit by a bat and getting cracked by a whip; the bat will hurt and maybe even break a bone, but the whip will sever a limb).

Think of it this way. Most traditional exercises are performed by pressing or pulling front-back, up-down or side to side. But the body isn’t built to express power that way. The body expresses power through angles and diagonals.

You don’t walk by stepping forward with your right leg and right arm at the same time. Try it. You look and feel like a motor moron, don’t you? We walk asymmetrically: left arm forward, right leg forward, alternating with right arm forward, left leg forward. We also throw, swing, strike, etc that way. If you only train in 1 or 2 dimensions, you become less and less able to translate your power into other skills, eventually becoming encased in a coffin of your own dysfunction. And that’s how most of these folks train.

But with a couple weeks of TACFIT under their belt, these “go big or go home” guys suddenly feel like martial art masters. Why? Because that’s how old-school, hard-knocks martial artists have always trained – at least they did until the past couple decades, when “exercise physiology grads” decided to impose their robotic movements upon the lethal power of sophisticated movement in traditional martial arts conditioning.

Rusty: You are training guys to get in top condition to defend their life or the lives of others. What makes your principles so effective when it comes to combat, self defense, etc?

Scott: Because real fitness is self-defense. Real training is combat. There is no other determining factor. Ultimately, when we say “fitness” we mean “fit to perform in the worst crisis, for as long as possible.” I realize that my definitions are controversial, but frankly, I’m not concerned with what other organizations think about us any longer. I once sought their approval and I spoke at their conventions and conferences, but now I just call it as I see it.

What are you fit FOR? You should be fit to fight, and fit to fight for as long as humanly possible. If you’re not, then you’re just a hobbyist.

Now, don’t get me wrong, most martial artists nowadays aren’t fit to fight sleep, much less an attacker. They’ve memorized dance moves with as much expressible power as a 5 year old mimicking The Last Airbender.

If you’re actually FIT… you are tactically fit. And if you’re tactically fit, you’re far better off than the martial artist who has memorized thousands of techniques but couldn’t fight his way out of a wet paper death trap.

Conditioning is the ultimate submission hold. Whoever can absorb and retranslate collision, change angles, reorient and ground at odd angles, wins. Not bigger, faster, stronger. We’ve proven that in every arena, from the micro of human combat to air battles with armed and armored jets.

You walk into a room and you see a circus of puffed Jersey boys with Mr. T starter sets bedazzling their wife-beater cleavage. And then you see that one wiry, ripped guy leaning against the exit banister, smiling quietly amongst the noise – and you instantly recognize that the “commando in the corner” is the man you want at your 6 when the shit hits the fan.

Rusty: I have a work space in a downtown area that is getting tougher by the day. If I have an extra 2-3 hours per week to learn good self-defense techniques, how is my time most well spent. Any particular classes that you would recommend? What are your thoughts on Krav Maga?

Scott: You’d be best off working a generalized mobility session first solo, and then with a partner. Helping a person through mobility drills with your hands teaches you where he can be most efficiently manipulated for takedowns, throws and submissions. The movements encoded in TACFIT Commando are defensive tactics. They’re not just a random adjunct to defensive tactics but are actually the support system for them. You can’t do sometimes what you don’t do daily. TACFIT Commando is exactly what you need.


[Watch at around the one minute 30 second mark and see how Scott goes from the ground position to easily standing. He makes a really difficult move look easy. I actually didn’t know that was possible.]

Krav Maga in Israel is like Sambo in Russia or Jiujitsu in Brasil or Muay Thai in Thailand: ugly, brutal and short. Unfortunately, that doesn’t sell a lot of classes – and most martial arts schools are designed to put asses in the seats rather than power in your performance.


You’d do much better by training to the point that you can’t see, can’t talk and can barely think, and then going one repetition further with good form. That final repetition, where you’d do anything to surrender but you manage to keep form and go one more step, is more valuable than any “black belt.” Take that from someone who has earned several black belts that are buried somewhere in my closet.

Rusty: I know that most of your training is geared toward strength, mobility, and function…but what about a guy who wants to look great on the beach? How does a body trained using your principles look different compared to a typical gym trained body?

Scott: Puffy jiggly bumps do not make a beach body. The girls just laugh at them anyway… or at least they do as soon as some badass steps out of the waves with his skin shrink-wrapped around the gnarled limbs of a commando physique LOL. No, I can’t say that my program will give you the typical gym-trained body. And I’d sell my soul to the Devil before I’d do you the dishonor of giving you the appearance of strength alone. I give you both GO Muscle AND Show Muscle. A body that’ll serve you just as well on mission as it does on shore leave.

Rusty: I am pretty darn interested in TACFIT. I didn’t get back in February when you guys launched it…mainly because I was launching a muscle building course.Can you give me an outline of what this program is all about?

Scott: Sure. We put the Commando program together to maximize continued muscle growth while ensuring optimal fat loss. The program targets the energy systems of tactical response: that means high intensity, three-dimensional movements done for repeated bursts of short duration, with fast recovery. Each “mission” can be completed in less than 30 minutes, and those 30 intense minutes melt fat faster than hours of cardio-style exercise. When you’re on vacation, too busy to get to the gym, or simply want to shake things up a bit while still building muscle, this is the perfect equipment-free solution.

Each individual exercise in the program has been carefully chosen to forge the highest level of specific conditioning while building and reinforcing tactically relevant skill sets. This translates to tireless stamina, extreme range reactive strength, ballistic speed, the agility and coordination of a Free Runner, and active recovery and pre-habilitation. And it’s simply a hell of a lot of fun to do.

Oh, and each exercise in the 3-month plan comes with 3 different levels of movement difficulty, so it’s completely accessible to beginners while still difficult enough at the higher levels to challenge even elite athletes. If you follow all 3 months of the program and then repeated them with each level of movement difficulty (building your neurological sophistication as you increase your “go muscle”), you’ll have 9 full months of challenging training right there at your fingertips.

Rusty: I was looking at your Facebook page and it looks like you travel around to train Police Departments with TACFIT. Is this the same material as what is in the course?

Scott: Yes, police, military, security, fire. Everyone trains with the same program, just not at the same level. Most systems toggle variables like intensity, volume, density, frequency, speed, etc. But what sets TACFIT apart is that it manipulates complexity. When an agency comes to TACFIT, they have a diverse fitness population that needs to train together as a team. That’s one reason why there are several levels to each exercise in the TACFIT program.

The way the program is trained is more important than the specific level of the technique, and the level of the technique is more important than the type of tension produced, and the type of tension produced is more important than the tools. That’s why we can do a TACFIT session with absolutely no equipment: anywhere, anytime.

And many times that could be in the desert, in the jungle, on a mountain, on the tundra, on a ship, at a hotel, or wherever you happen to be.

There are no excuses. Everyone trains, no one quits. Everyone finishes with perfect form, just not at the same level of movement complexity. And that’s why TACFIT commandos are always improving at such a rapid rate. They don’t train poor technique just to finish.

Your nervous system is the only real weapon you’ll ever have. We treat it like gold.

Rusty: I love traditional gym workouts with free weights, etc. Can I successfully alternate TACFIT for a few months along with my favorite gym routine for a few months? Is there something I should do to insure I maintain joint mobility when not doing TACFIT?

Scott: Yes. It’s not the type of tool that’s important, it’s the formula used. If you understand the formula you can alternate in some of your other favorite workouts, if you wish. Understanding how to use “mobility” as a specific warm-up and “compensation” as a specific cool-down holds true whether you’re doing a traditional gym program or TACFIT. And you’ll learn how to incorporate these elements by doing the TACFIT Commando program.

Rusty: Chuck Norris in his prime vs Bruce Lee in his prime….who comes out on top?

Scott: Whoever’s friend shows up first with a gun.

Rusty: I appreciate your time in answering these questions. I know you are extremely busy, but I know the readers here really appreciate hearing directly from the originator of this cutting-edge training program.

Scott: Rusty, it’s my pleasure. Warriors aren’t born, they’re made. They’re forged in small towns and in garage gyms, and they’re hardly ever what people expect. They’re usually the ones who simply bust ass every day while others blab about the latest reality show or game station. They’re out there, and if you’re any indication of what your readers are like, I suspect you’ve got quite a few “commandos in the corner” brother. Be safe.

[Scott recently made his advanced TACFIT body weight workout available online. Click the banner above to get the details of perhaps the most advanced body weight conditioning program ever devised.]

Note: I don’t think people (including myself) did a good job explaining just how innovative this program was when it first launched back in February. I mean…How many people have Scott’s credentials? Really innovative cutting-edge stuff here!

----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

jason July 5, 2010 at 11:05 pm

hey rusty-i’d love to sign up to work through tacfit commando with a group. you down?

Rodney July 5, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Great interview Rusty!

Thanks Scott as well for being so generous with your time! As one of Rusty’s 20 graduates who went on to TacFit Commando, all I can say is that it is awesome. I am progressing slowly through the second level of the three month programs, having done the first three months through the spring. I am 45 years old and have lots of chronic issues that I am dealing with so I sometimes need an extra free day for recovery, but that is fast coming to a close. The mobility and recovery work are critical and so beneficial. I remember some of the better trained and more athletic guys slowly coming to realize this as it can seem too easy at first glance. Don’t make this mistake, just do the program as directed.

I can’t recommend TacFit Commando highly enough. I still have almost five months more to go to do all three levels, but I might need to repeat level two to get the full advantage. My mobility is amazing, as I never thought I would get back to this level of freedom ever again. My strength is improving and my ability to exercise without injury is completely new to me! I look forward to continued gradual improvement and can’t imagine going back to traditional weights (unless Scott puts out a program to convince me otherwise).

Scott has proven himself to be one of the few true gentlemen in the world of exercise and fitness. When he talks, I definitely listen!

Thanks again,

Rodney

Jon July 6, 2010 at 1:05 am

When I saw the title to this post, I instantly knew it was Scott Sonnon. Thanks for the interview. Having been a gym rat for many years, it was Scott’s CST material that inspired me onto the path of mobility and bodyweight training. I do a quick Intu-flow session before every workout. It’s incredible how I feel like I can do absolutely anything after doing Intu-flow – better than caffeine or energy drink.

Check out Scott’s beautiful display of Intu-flow, awesome way to warm up:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0aIuCIpEbk

Scott doing Prasara Yoga:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YK6CGtViWg8

Threading scorpion progression (excellent for the back):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZJwMpvJiYM

Luke M-Davies July 6, 2010 at 3:04 am

Rusty,

It is class posts like this that will always keep me coming back to Fitness Black Blook. An awesome insight into Sonnon’s methods.
Thank you for bringing this to us. I remember that brave moment when you quit your gym back in October….bold move I thought but all we need is a little creativity and our bodies, not restrictive or stationary gym machines!

Thanks again,

Luke

Raymond - ZenMyFitness July 6, 2010 at 7:06 am

Excellent Interview … I heard of this program but haven’t had a chance to find it yet … I visited a Krav Maga school near where I live and it looked brutal, so street effective.
Just looking at some of those exercises are impossible.
The training methods seem as if it can help you develop the ability to throw a punch or kick when off balance .. Awesome way to train!
Thanks
Raymond

Scott Sonnon July 6, 2010 at 9:51 am

Rusty,

Thank you for the fantastic questions, brother. Take care and talk again.

Guys, really glad to hear about your progress and results. Keep up the great work, my friends.

Friend me on FB and keep me updated.

Who Dares Wins,
Scott Sonnon

Timo July 6, 2010 at 10:44 am

Good interview Rusty! When you asked Scott about incorporating gym workouts with TACFIT, does it mean that I can still aim for a 500 pound deadlift and still follow the program? I’m just wondering if this can complement routines from trainers like Pavel Tsatsouline as I want to increase in strength and mobility. Don’t care so much for the beach body though πŸ™‚

[email protected] July 6, 2010 at 11:06 am

Very nice Interview. The program sounds like a killer.

I’ve always had the mentality that is better to be quick and nimble over being the biggest guy in the room.

Dave - Fitness Training Tips July 6, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Awesome interview Rusty. I’m a big fan of functional training and TACFIT definitely seems like it fits the bill. Thanks for providing insight into what looks to be a really great routine.

Frank July 6, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Thank you so much for this interview Rusty. It was a pleasure going through that work out with you guys last fall/winter although i did waver some in the middle lol. i’ve been meaning to get on Scott’s TACFIT as soon as i finish school this summer.

SwimFan July 6, 2010 at 1:45 pm

I dunno Rusty, this sounds well and good and all, but there is marketing at play here: the goal of this guy is to get the average person thinking he is a “commando” in training and thus buy into his program.

The people who get true results from this program are the ones who actually need it to stay alive and perform their jobs adequately. It is their _life_ at stake here.

I understand one should take an “extreme” approach to getting really in shape, but for the average person just looking to get in reasonable shape, it all seems a bit overwhelming! for example, what can women gain out of this program?

The theory is amazing though! I’m going to look over these exercises and see what I can incorporate into my routine.

Jay July 6, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Hi Rusty…….Another great article…..So good I had to print it out and bring it to the gym and give copies to fellow gym members :-)….I have a couple of questions……I have SUCCESSFULLY used your fasting suggestions and HIIT suggestions to go from 204 to 180 at 6’2″……THANKS…..But I still dont see my abs!!!!……I am training upper body on M/W/F doing bodyweight (pushups/pullups/dips for 8 sets each)……On T/Sa I do soccer field sprints (8 full length and 4 1/2 length) in HIIT format…..I am doing jump rope HIIT for 15 minutes followed by 2 mile jog after upper body workout…..What more can I do and how long before seeing 4 pack ?……I have not done any ab work yet……I do ESE 2 – 3 days a week and cut out the pasta/rice/bread…..Finally do you sweeten your green tea?……Does it take away the hunger cravings if want to drink 5-6 cups a day and eat only one meal at night for awhile?…..I dont know how you did that for awhile when you were temporarily unemployed….Did you do that everyday of the week?…..I have very skinny arms and small wrists (ectomorph) so I am researching ways to get forearms stronger and biceps a bigger too……..THANKS again Rusty……This is by far the best exercise blog on the net!!!!!!!!

Luke M-Davies July 6, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Interesting thought SwimFan but I just wanted to say (not meaning to reply from Rusty but simply chime in on this discussion) that we can all take parts from Scott’s style and program. I believe there is definitely something of value in there for us all. You just have to look beyond the marketing side of things…

Jay July 6, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Oh yeah…I think I will try your rapid weight loss (7-10 days) using 3-4 chicken breasts and salad and veggies……..And then go back to ESE for 2-3 days a week till see 4 pack…..My only question is that the “unemplyment” diet of green tea all day/afternoon and one meal at night sounds even HARDER yet you did that for quite sometime and continued to workk out 4 days a week……IF YOU RUSTY were going to do HIIT/steady state cardio 5-6 days for a short period of 4 -6 weeks what machines/times would you do?………I have the month of July and August off from work and really want to work out harder and smarter WITHOUT overtraining…..The HGH release is ADDICTIVE :-)……….Thanks again Rusty!!!!!!!!!!

Josh July 6, 2010 at 5:30 pm

I got Tacfit Commando when it first came out. I was very busy in nursing school at the time and couldnt really find time to get to the gym. I had AWESOME results, but my diet wasnt really dialed in so I know that my results could have been better still with a good diet. ESE really fits the bill here. Right now I am doing Javorek inspired dumbbell complexes. To Jay if you looking for a real HGH release I cant reccomed these highly enough!! Rusty, I believe you have an article somewhere here on complexes. The basics are a submaximal weight for a series of high intensity full body moves. You will be humbled at how much weight you use. For example I can deadlift 375lbs but use 35lb dumbbells for my complexes. If anybody would be interested in going through tacfit as a crew count me in! Since I have already been through I know what I’m getting into!
-Josh

Alykhan July 6, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Rusty and Scott,

Great interview! I tried the sample TACFIT exercises back in February and they were no joke! I agree that anyone can benefit from this type of training and I plan on incorporating some of these exercises into my regular workout routine in the future.

Alykhan

Mike @ Papa Star Health July 6, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Great interview Rusty. Participating in Ryan and Adam’s course last winter did great things for me. I can tell this program is similar and will also produce great results. The variety is awesome and it does supplement a typical “gym workout” well if you can’t resist the free weights. By going low on calories and adding this routine with something like Visual Impact there is no doubt someone could get ripped real fast.

Kelly - Fitness Overhaul July 6, 2010 at 10:17 pm

I bought Tactfit-rope last month and have been checking it out. I haven’t followed it as outlined, but using bits and pieces of it just trying to learn more about it on my off training days. I am on phase three of visual impact and want to finish what I have already started, especially since I am getting great results from VI.

I really can see that I am moving more towards body weight training and away from the gym. After lifting for the last 25 years in a gym, it is like a whole new world out there with body weight training. I love the fact that I can train anywhere, especially outside in nature versus in a gym.

That was one great interview Rusty, you are amazing! Is there anything that you can’t do? As always, thanks for all of the help!

Mike @ Papa Star Health July 6, 2010 at 10:17 pm

By the way Jay. Don’t worry about overtraining it’s pretty difficult to reach that state and you’ll know it well before you get there. I wouldn’t reccommend HIIT and Steady State that many times per week for a two month period. You’d probably get better results just going extra low on calories and lifting really hard. Just my opinion though, do what feels right to you.

Daniel Cuellar July 6, 2010 at 11:58 pm

BRUCE LEE ALL THE WAY HE WAS THE ULTIMATE TRAINER AND TRAINEE

Clint July 7, 2010 at 12:57 am

Top notch as always Rusty.
I’ll be incorporating this into my next regime. I’ll get back to you with the results!

Clint

Clement July 7, 2010 at 2:47 am

Hmm this is a great interview. I was there when TACFIT commando first came out and was tempted to buy it but didn’t in the end as I was hard-up for cash. I’ve been a subscriber to Scott’s and Adam’s and Ryan’s newsletters for a few years now. Their workouts are extremely effective and I do understand why: the closed kinetic chain exercises, working in all 3 planes of movement and the strong emphasis on mobility are the prime factors that separate it from weight-lifting. These exercises really teach you to stabilize and master your own bodyweight and improve your balance and skill. People like Vince Delmonte are also turning to TACFIT as it helps correct the loss in flexibility and mobility that weight-lifting tends to leave one with. You can see the difference between the people who partake in these types of workouts: Bruce Lee vs Arnold. Whose body would you guys want more? I’d like to see Arnold do a split!

I strength train (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) using high-level bodyweight exercises. Pistols and one-armed pushups, inverted rows and pullups are the focus of my work, with kettlebell work added in – swings, snatches, one-legged deads, tactical lunges… These, along with my conditioning sessions (Tuesday, Thursday) interval and speed work, serve to work the body in a closed kinetic chain most of the time and the kettlebells are used mainly for strength endurance and power. Needless to say, I am reasonably mobile but not as flexible as I would like to be. I can easily ace the much-maligned sit-and-reach test, but when I attended taekwondo lessons a few months ago, my kicking range was woeful and I could hardly do a groin stretch (the one where you sit down, bend your knees and draw your feet together, then pull your feet towards your torso) with my knees close to the floor. Does Scott or Rusty have any recommendations on some mobility or warmup exercises that I can use to improve these areas? Currently, I warm up for my strength training using a bodyweight circuit of pushups, bodyweight squats and stickups, with jumping jacks added in sometimes, and for my interval work with a dynamic and plyometric warmup for my lower body, neck and shoulders and cool down using static stretching.

Also, I’d like to hear Scott’s opinion on this – I’m interested in learning a martial art that involves great conditioning. I’m thinking of wing chun, but I think muay thai fighters and instructors look more lean an ripped than kungfu masters (think Sammo Hung vs any muay thai boxer). I want to achieve the ripped Bruce Lee physique, but am not sure if he’s the exception or the norm when it comes to kungfu. Does it hold water to say that practising muay thai demands a greater level of conditioning and physical fitness than wing chun?

Thanks, and I apologise for the long post.

Kevin July 7, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Rusty

Very informative post. I am very interested in eventually training almost entirely with bodyweight exercises in the future. TACFIT looks intimidating right now. Anyway kind off topic, I have a question about squats, backpain, and phase 1 of visual impact workout. I’ve always avoided squats and deadlifts because I have a bad back. I go to the chiropractor once a month for maintenance adjustments. I am very careful about certain exercises that put pressure on my lower back. I avoid crunches altogether. Actually I was doing crunches a lot last year when I re-injured my back. What are your thoughts on squats/deadlifts and lower back problems? For a beginner what should I be concentrating on for protecting my lower back with these exercises? Or am I probably just being to cautious? Are there good alternative leg exercises that are safe for my back? I have mostly worked my legs with leg machines and the stairmaster when at the gym.
Thanks
Kevin

Kevin July 7, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Rusty

BTW, to add to my last post above, my question relates to visual impact phase 1 because I’m just starting to fully implement the 3 phase workout. Your site has been a great resource for me over the past 2 years and will continue to be.

Thanks again
Kevin

Marc Feel Good Eating July 7, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Rusty,
Good on you getting Scott for the interview.

I remember years ago (early 90’s) when Scott took a lot of heat from the martial arts world. In all those years of silly internet (and sometimes off line) bickering, Scott always kept his cool, stood by his beliefs and was ready to back them up when needed.
He’s an innovator and thinker.
Thanks for sharing Rusty.

Marc

DragonMatt July 7, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Rusty and Scott,

I was part of the BWBP group with Rusty and Co. just before Christmas. I must admit that I didn’t finish Phase 3 properly as I had to fly from to the UK from Australia to see family and things got kind of hectic!

However, that programme was very well constructed and I definately gained from it in terms of flexibility and strength to bodyweight ratio.

I completed the free TACFIT workout last night. WHOA! Fantastic workout!! I completed the advanced version of each exercise and each circuit of the 20 mins took me between 30-31 secs to complete each time. I consider myself pretty fit and flexible as I have been training intensly for about 10 years and have been practicing martial arts for the past 5 years (Capoeira/Krav Maga/ Thai boxing).

This workout was still a great challenge for me and I will continue to use it 2-3 times a week within my training regime.

Is there a complete TACFIT programme that I can purchase?

I’d like to take a look at that….!!

Cheers Scott. Keep up the good work Rusty!

DragonMatt

Alicia Kirschenheiter July 7, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Great interview! I think this stle of training affords the opportunity to do something new and fresh when you are looking for a way to change things up.

admin July 7, 2010 at 10:24 pm

@ Jason,

I have too many things planned this summer to run another private blog. I had a blast last year doing it however. I may at some point consider it.

@ Rodney,

In our other group, I only could do level 3 on a few different exercises. I know TACFIT is even more challenging…so it sounds like you are doing well. That was fun last year!

@ Jon,

I like the intu-flow and prasara yoga stuff. I am sure it is pretty similar to what Ryan and Adam were teaching in the Body Weight Blueprint for Fat Loss. Felt weird at first, but my joints felt better than ever after each session.

@ Luke,

Yeah…I quit my gym for close to 4 months. I joined another gym at the beginning of the year, but had a blast being gym free for a short period of time. I wanted to prove to myself that I didn’t need a gym to stay in great shape. I also wanted to really dedicate myself to learn the program inspired by Scott Sonnon’s teachings. Thanks for the compliment. Your site is looking great, by the way. It is progressing quite nicely.

@ Raymond,

Yeah…and the ground mobility stuff looks awesome as well. I guarantee you if Scott got knocked to the ground he would be able to get back to his feet MUCH faster than the average guy.

@ Scott,

Thanks a ton for taking the time to answer these questions. I give you an award for best response to a “Bruce Lee vs Chuck Norris” question. I was almost hesitant to ask, but couldn’t resist. You are going to help a bunch of stiff-as-a-board fitness guys and girls loosen up. I was an instant fan of Ryan and Adam’s former product that was inspired by your teaching…now I will soon have access to your direct methods with TACFIT…very cool!

@ Timo,

I love Scott’s response to the beach body question as well. My idea of a beach body isn’t huge muscles, etc. It is actually similar to what Scott described as a commando physique. Anyway…I believe you could still incorporate deadlifts while doing TACFIT…you would just have to change up the frequency. Also…the first time through the program it is probably best to use as is. After that you could re-introduce deadlifts in a way that made sense.

@ LD,

Quick and nimble blows away being big…great point.

@ Dave,

This is as functional as it gets. Scott really has perfected his techniques.

@ Frank,

Yeah…the middle where we were doing that “static hold – lactic acid phase” was brutal. I think quite a few of us missed 1-2 of those workouts. That was a tough phase.

@ SwimFan,

I could see how some would just see this as marketing. The deal is that Scott is really on to something here that he believes in and that many people respect and get a lot out of. He also wants to earn a living doing this. The info-product model is awesome, because it is like being personally trained by Scott without paying $100+ per hour. If it was one on one coaching Scott would have to charge thousands. Instead he can offer the same info at a small fraction of the price and make up for it with volume. This is a win-win situation…and why I have no problem with paying (or charging) money for great fitness routines that people can follow. Before the Internet they were printed books, but really no chance to give feedback, ask questions, etc. The online course model is better for both the consumer as well as the product owner.

@ Jay,

It sounds like you are probably lean enough to see your abs. Click my “best of fitness black book” link at the top of this site and look for articles on abs. You will want to do planks, Bruce Lee’s “breath of dragon”, and the ab wheel. You can even doing hanging leg raises, as long as you are careful and do hip bridges afterward to insure your spine doesn’t begin to pull forward. There will be lag time between when you begin to do ab training and when the 4-pack and 6-pack show up. It could take a matter of months or over a year. Just keep doing the right things and it will happen…just never as quickly as you want. As far as tea…I drink it plain and regular black tea is great too. So for HIIT for a 4-6 week period? I would use the Step Mill machine on interval setting for 15-20 minutes at the highest level I could handle followed by 15-20 minutes of steady state cardio on the elliptical (medium pace…faster than walking but not full blown jogging pace). I would do this M,W,F. On Tuesday and Thursday I would do HIIT on a treadmill for 20 minutes…followed by 10-15 minutes on the elliptical. On the weekend I would try to go for a long walk on either Sat or Sun…or simply take that time off. Note: This type of workout would only be done if I was in your position and badly wanted to get as lean as possible…and 4-6 weeks max. Further down Mike gave a good suggestion about dialing in your diet…which will go a long way to helping you get lean.

@ Josh,

It is so much about diet. The nice thing is that this intense Scott Sonnon style stuff which makes you cough up a lung, actually reduces the appetite (at least that is what I have found). Typically I’m breathing so hard that I am just trying to cool down and get hydrated. Food becomes secondary.

@ Alykhan,

It is amazing how much you can do without equipment. Scott is pretty darn creative when it comes to this stuff. A great skill to master.

@ Mike,

The cool thing is that it is modular like Visual Impact. People could go through each program once and then maintain their Visual Impact muscle density with an abbreviated 5X5 (phase 2) routine mixed with TACFIT movements that focus on range of motion. There is certainly room for both types of training…and it will produce an amazing looking physique…especially if the diet is dialed in.

@ Kelly,

Thanks for the compliment and there is a ton of things I can’t do. For instance, I’m not too good around blood…so would make a terrible surgeon, doctor, etc. Also bad at “cold calling”, so would be a terrible telemarketer. Too tall to be a gymnast…I could go on and on. I’m just excited that Scott agreed to answer my questions…he gave some entertaining and informative answers for sure.

@ Daniel,

I used to think Bruce Lee would walk over Chuck Norris, until I listened to a Chuck Norris interview. He actually was an extremely good fighter in his prime. He didn’t have as cool of a style as Bruce Lee and certainly wasn’t fun to watch, but I actually think he would have held his own in a fight against Bruce. We will never know.

@ Clint,

Let me know how it goes for you.

@ Clement,

Thanks for the solid comment. I am not the guy to give mobility advice…hopefully Scott can chime in. I have always had a challenge with any type of stretching movement. The great thing is that Scott has a better approach to mobility that doesn’t involve static stretching. That intu-flow stuff is amazing.

@ Kevin,

I recommend supermans and planks. Make sure and read my last post on “weak spine”…it links to another 3 part post I did on back injuries. This past winter I have also added in hip bridges…I’m working my way up to full-blown back bridges. I learned this form the recently released Convict Conditioning book (another great body weight exercise book). I would recommend avoiding deads and squats for good. Maybe after a year or two of back rehab, you could consider it, but right now you are going to want to get your spine and surrounding muscle injury proof. This is just my recommendation…others may tell you something different.

@ Marc,

People do say the craziest things on the Internet. People get pretty gutsy when they can remain anonymous. I have had people rail on me and this site over the past few years as well. It is really easy to criticize and think of funny and clever things…much harder to actually “bring something to the table” and add value to the internet. I respect people like you and other bloggers who work hard at writing constructive and helpful articles for free, responding to comments, commenting on other sites, etc. This is what improves the internet and adds value to the web.

@ DragonMatt,

You were by far the most skilled at doing the workouts last winter. I remember that you were able to do the advanced levels of each move…I could only do advanced levels of just a few moves, the mid for some, and the beginner versions of a few. You would be a great candidate for an instructor of this stuff if Scott ever plans to have world-wide certified coaches. Anyway, you will get notified of the re-launch since you opted in to get the free workout. This program will be outstanding. Great to hear from ya!

-Rusty

DragonMatt July 8, 2010 at 6:09 am

Hey Rusty,

Cheers buddy, if you DO start a group to try the TACFIT programme, let me know, I will DEFINATELY be interested! πŸ™‚

Got a new abs exercies for you BTW – try gymball rollouts but from a standing position, NOT on your knees! 3 seconds forward, 2 seconds back, x8 reps, x4 sets. They will RIP your abs to pieces!

PS you started Krav Maga yet??

A pleasure as always.

DragonMatt

gerd July 8, 2010 at 6:21 am

thank you rusty and thanks to scott, i love the idea of being ready to defend ureself espically when round where i live, any sort of clear non boastful confidence is admirable, it’s not about a beach body or looking good for me (although if ya can get it then why not πŸ˜€ ) it’s simply feeling confident and being ready mentally and physically and to push further.. The human body and mind can be pushed further than we can imagine…

thank you again rusty for another great post

Engel July 8, 2010 at 9:21 am

I signed up on Tuesday and did it after work. I am still aching now and I only did the beginner exercises.

When I saw Scott perform those exercises, he makes it look so easy. After my workout I head sweat dripping from my face! I thought I was in decent shape but these exercises will work wonders.

Only problem I have is the exercises where you raise your legs in the air and put them behind your head. I can’t get my legs down to the ground!

Jay July 8, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Hi Josh…..Thank you for the tip about trying complexes….i will search here on FBB for any articles Rusty may have posted…You can send an email to me directly at [email protected] if that works for you…..I am currently doing bodyweight exercises and would like to switch back to free weights at teh end of the summer……Thanks

Jay July 8, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Hi Mike……Thanks for the tips …..I am doing body weight exercises only right now……How many days HIIT (sprint) and how many days Rope jumping?……

CR July 9, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Rusty,

Great article as usual. I thought I might make mention of Myofascial Release tecniques in stretching. Lack of flexibility exercises or traumatic injury cause the fascia connective tissue to become less pliable. Through using rollers I have found that one becomes limber very quickly. By using rollers in conjunction with mobility exercises not only do you reduce the time needed to become limber but you avoid tearing the connective tissue of the fascia that Scott was describing.

Matt July 9, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Rusty,

Do you know if they are going to relaunch the program at the original launch price?

gil July 10, 2010 at 6:28 am

hi im from the philippines, good work on your site!thanks for all the info..THANK YOU VERY MUCH…1 quick question,i started working out 3 months ago, i lost 6-8 pounds, and can see improvement on my arms,chest, shoulders,but my goal was to add muscle mass/weight bcause im a bit skinny..im only 5’6″ and 121 lbs ryt now.the thing is i still have lower belly fat, my 4 pack is slightly visible(when i tense/flex my waist)and i really want to have a solid 6 pack and strong core..dya think i still need to lose a few pounds?..im just worried cause i look skinny with my clothes on and my friends are freakin out and telling me that im too thin, what do you think is my ideal weight?cause i wanted to weigh at 130lbs? but lose the fat on my belly..thank you

canvass blanc July 10, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Does this mean,lifting weights can stunt my growth?:\

Hazman July 11, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Once again Rusty you have provided a really good informative post, Scott Sonnon too, he has some very good views of bulding a body that works on the main factors other then muscle, as joints and tendons are more important in everyday life, as without good mobility, you will always be stiff and not be able to do much, the more flexible you really are, the more fitter and better you are, and with better mobility…you can put your money down on the fact that you can slip through anything in the hardest situations..Literally! lol…I have always been a huge fan on bodyweight exercises, I have always done complex bodyweight exercises with strength training, as I find its the perfect balance…but I would love to get started on TACFIT…as it is something I would love to do! Its a mental challenge overall! The stronger you become mentally, the better you become as a whole and not just appearance. Ive also lost my chance to get the free ebook! daamn! lol…but other than that..I definately do want to consider his programme as something I want to follow starting september!

Once again…great post Rusty, and credit to Scott too for being able to give us valuable information to learn from!…Keep it up guys!

Luke M-Davies July 12, 2010 at 2:46 am

Thanks Rusty for the inspirational comment. It means a lot coming from yourself (with a successful site, with so many dedicated readers!). You played a big part in making LMD Fitness come to life for me πŸ™‚

Devin July 14, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Man, I really missed out on something cool. I wish I got the sample workout for free. πŸ™ Anyways, im a typical bodybuilder and I can’t even touch my back and not very flexible. Saw this post and I think its interesting….

physician July 15, 2010 at 4:31 am

Very nice Interview. The program sounds like a killer.
Thank you for the fantastic questions, brother.
Take care and talk again.

Jason July 17, 2010 at 6:16 am

Thanks Rusty for the informative interview. I have always been into the mechanics of bodyweight exercise. I have completed a few training programs and I have yet to get this TACFIT a try. Looks like this one might one to try out and see how it goes. Thanks again!!

Gymcandy2010 July 19, 2010 at 9:00 am

Whoo! Nice article for the information to the people who loves work out. But if you are working out for a perfect body shape with all the cuts and muscles than try Nutritional Supplement with perfect exercise training under an fitness expert.

Chris July 21, 2010 at 9:44 pm

So I bought TACFIT. 51% off right now – get it quick! Super excited about it.

Travis from http://freefitnessebook.com/ July 21, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Nice article. I like how you go into depth about everything you talk about. I agree that martial arts is a great way to get fit.

Thanks

Aaron July 29, 2010 at 10:04 am

TACFIT Commando is DEFINITELY worth it. I purchased it back in February when its launched and it is amazing! To be able to get in Commando shape from anywhere in the world with no equipment really jacks up your mental toughness. I used to be worried with things like what if I can’t get access to equipment or a gym? Its a unnecessary dependance that most people carry. I doubt 90% of gym rats could keep great bodies without the the dependence on equipment. TACFIT Commando makes you 100% independent and capable of doing just that and there’s power in that.

CR August 9, 2010 at 12:52 am

Devin,

I strongly suggest that you look into Myofascial Release techniques. the the words in quotation marks in you tube.

This is the fastest way to become limber without tearing muscles.

Michael August 20, 2010 at 3:38 am

Great interview,very enlightening.
This is really helpful in muscle safety in trainings.

Mrzhutch August 29, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Wow, that is some serious stuff. I never heard of it before, thanks for the enlightening post.

Lean Body September 1, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Nice post as always Rusty.
I’ll be using this into my next regime. I’ll let you the results!

Maximize on natural movement-jai September 17, 2010 at 4:53 pm

I lke what scott says about the overrated up-down push pull symmetric kind of excercise excercises. Its very deeply routed into most workout routines that Ive come across in the past. its important to be agile and assymetric and hence use the bodys natural motion. It is even more incredible with how using these mobility exercises can get you sweating like youve been sprinting up a hill. Theyre also a lot more effective at getting the body ripped ( what isolation excercises are intended to do)
I have myself given up on isolation excercises such as shoulder or bicep and now focus on multi joint movements like squats and deadlifts

Ronald September 23, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Interesting interview with Scott Sconnon. I am not into any fighting activities but I was totally caught by the flow of the interview. You are such a great thrower of questions very effective and good choices of questions. I think I am enjoying this site. I will surely visit again.

Rajat November 24, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Hi Rusty
I checked out TACFIT, its a very intense form of training, and I felt that I couldn’t train in the gym along with the full blown TACFIT training. How would you recommend that I jam Visual Impact and TACFIT?

Sam- Look Like An Athlete February 16, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Great interview Rusty!

I just got around to reading this and I have always been a fan of martial arts. As a kid I took Tae Kwon Do and fell in love with it.
The funny thing is when most people think of martial arts we think of serious butt kicking, and it can be, but like Scott metions here, much of it these days looks like choreographed moves.

Seeing what he does is quite appealing as it is stuff that can be applied in the world and in getting in shape.

From the looks of it even Hollywood films have moved away from the classic martial arts to the stuff Scott practices. One example that comes to mind is “The Dark Knight,” and “Batman Begins.”

Thanks.
-Sam

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