Calisthenics or Free Weights: The Fitness Dogma of One Size Fits All Training
Talking Hybrid Strength Training with Danny Kavadlo
There are so many ways to work out. How do you know what the best method for you is? We had recently had a chance to catch up with Danny Kavadlo, one of the world's leading authorities on calisthenics, nutrition, and personal training. Danny believes there is no such thing as one size fits all in your fitness. Check out his perspective on Hybrid Strength Training, nutrition, motivation, and more.
"Hybrid Strength Training, this is a project that I've been working on, honestly, for about three years. It's the real way I train." – Danny Kavadlo
Bill (TriadXP): It's been an absolute pleasure to work with you and, Al and of course, the team over at Dragon Door Publications when we created the in-app version of your Get Strong program. And I know you have a new book, Hybrid Strength Training, coming out very soon. What have you been up to?
Danny: What have I been up to? Good well, the most pressing thing, of course, right now is Hybrid Strength Training. This is a project that I've been working on, honestly, for about three years. I teach Dragon Doors Progressive Calisthenics Certification, and I've been a calisthenics practitioner for over 30 years. But I also lift weights and, in my own personal training and the training that I do with my one-on-one clients, is very seldom only one thing or another. It's the real way I train. I am the biggest proponent of calisthenics in the world. And I'm known for helping put the calisthenics movement on the map. So over this pandemic, let's just say they put a padlock on the calisthenics park near my home. And gyms were closed in the name of health.
Over this pandemic, I just locked myself in the basement and worked out and worked on this book. And I wanted to put forth the most detailed thing I could, not just in regards to fusing calisthenics and weights, but in regards to my own body of work. So this is the most detailed programming I've ever had in anything. There are three unique programs, over a hundred exercises. There's talk about programming and the method behind it, hitting certain goals, whether it's calisthenics max reps or using weights, max weight, or even weight as calisthenics. So a lot is going on. Work-wise, this is the best thing that ever came out of me. So I'm super excited for this release.
Bill (TriadXP): As a fan, I'm looking forward to it, and I'm sure many others are anxiously anticipating it because you've been teasing it up in your social media feed.
"All you need is something to hang it from, something to step upon, and something heavy. That something heavy could be you, or it could be a barbell or something else." – Danny Kavadlo
Danny: I have been teasing it, and honestly, one of the thoughts behind putting this thing out, because I'm very open with my training. I'm known for calisthenics, but I'll put a picture of deadlifting or whatever on Instagram or this or that. And one of the questions that I've gotten for so long is about using calisthenics and free weights. I want to be clear. This book is free weights; it's not machines; there are no machines in this book. There are barbells. There are dumbbells. I've always said, all you need is something to hang from, something to step upon, and something heavy. That something heavy could be you, or it could be a barbell. It could be something else
Guidance on Choosing the Right Approach to Fitness
Bill (TriadXP): There are so many different approaches and techniques, and in your book, you say that there is no one program for everyone. Fitness isn't a one-size-fits-all, right. Not everybody sees the same results from the same things., How do you guide people? What are the most important things that a person should be looking at or thinking about when trying to find the right approach to them?
Danny: Well, there are a few things. Number one, you have to keep it in the present. We have a tendency culturally to have these ideals and these templates and, "Okay, how do I get from here to here?" And we have a wrote way of accessing it. And we want to believe that's the case, but things don't go as planned most of the time, right? I mean, that's what makes life beautiful. Right? So what we have to do is keep things in the present, and it's great to have a plan. Don't get me wrong. It's great to have a plan, but we always have to be prepared to deviate from the plan, to deviate from the plan in order to go with what actually is happening. So we may think, "Okay, this is the best exercise for that." We observe it. And we say, "Hmm, maybe not."
"You have to put in the hours….put in the effort….do it frequently, and you have to do it consistently. So that's one thing that fits for everybody." – Danny Kavadlo
We have to keep it in the present. We have to deviate from the plan. We have to remember that every individual is different, but everybody will respond to a certain level of the same thing. So we need to have principles. We need to work hard. That's part of getting results. No matter what, I don't care if you're lifting weights. I don't care if you're a runner. I don't care if you're playing sports. I don't care if you're doing pull-ups, you have to put in the hours, and you have to put in the effort, and you have to do it frequently, and you have to do it consistently. So that's one thing that fits for everybody.
So there are certain overlying principles that do work for everybody in that regard. You have to show up. You have to delegate time. Also, not only is there a great emphasis in the fitness world to have this one size fits all plan, but there's also a great emphasis in the fitness world on this message that "Okay, it's a quick fix. You could get there easily." And it isn't easy, and nor should it be easy. That's one of the things I love about it. It is simple, you have to live in the present, put in the work, and you have to advocate the time.
"You can't just show up and half-ass it and not work hard; that won't help either. But the notion that it's easy. I don't like that because it's dishonest." - Danny Kavadlo
You can't just show up and half-ass it and not work hard; that won't help either. But the notion that it's easy. I don't like that because it's dishonest. And the fact that it's not easy shouldn't be discouraging. It's good. It feels so good to earn something like right now; it's easier to get anything than ever. You've got Amazon on your phone. You want something, you order it. It's there that day. So weird. So we got used to not exerting too much for a lot of stuff, but fitness, you got to exert. So one thing is I encourage people with my programs.
What's funny is Al and me, the first bunch of books we put out didn't have any programs in it. If you've looked at our earlier stuff, Diamond-Cut Abs or Al's book, Pushing the Limits or Raising the Bar. There was no program, week-one, day-one to do this. It was like, here are exercises, here are ways to progress the exercises, here's recommended set and rep ranges for these exercises, here's when you know you need to progress, here's some information about programming, but one of the reasons that we put out Get Strong was because everyone was saying, "Danny, Al, I want to know day one, what should I do? Day two, what should I do?" So we're very careful to always say, "Hey, look, this is the program. This is what we recommend. If you do this, you're going to get results, but Hey, or, Hey, Hey, you may have to do something a little bit different if it suits you differently."
"Hey, Hey, you may have to do something a little bit different if it suits you differently." – Danny Kavadlo
And we always try to repeat that maybe to the point of absurdity, people ask Al, "Hey, can I add dips?" Yes, you can. Of course. Can I run on my day off? Yeah. Run on your day off. But you got to do the work. So if there's a certain exercise that makes your elbow flare-up, then yeah, don't do that exercise. We'll figure something else out. But you got to do the result. You got to do the work to get the results, and you have to do the frequency. You have to do the frequency. You have to. I always tell people they want to know how often should they work out. I tell them four days a week is pretty good because you do four days a week. Then you're working out more days than you don't work out, and a workout doesn't have to be wrong. You can work out for 45 minutes for an hour. It doesn't have to be these epic workout sessions. It could be 20 minutes if that's what you got but do it more than you don't do it and live in the present.
Establishing Habits, How an App Helps with Discipline
Bill (TriadXP): So you talk a lot in your social posts about mindset, discipline, diet, and exercise. Can you talk about how your mindset and discipline have to be clear?
Danny: Well, discipline, and one of the reasons I talk about discipline a lot, ties into what we were saying before about this message. That things should be easy, like in social media, and I guess in all media, there's a lot of talk about motivation this, and motivation that, motivation Monday and hashtags and whatever. And look, let's be clear. I like to say F motivation, that's something I enjoy saying, but to be clear, motivation is a good thing. It's great to be motivated. I love when I wake up motivated, and I'm like, yes, I got to do laundry and work all day, take care of chores, fix the roof, pay my bills, and work out. I love when that happens when I wake up motivated to do that.
"Motivation is great. But if we wait for motivation before working out, then we're going to work out like twice a month. So the idea is discipline. You do the thing, whether you're motivated or not. That's what discipline is." – Danny Kavadlo
But the truth is that most of us don't wake up motivated to do things most of the time. Of course, we do some of the time, but we're human beings. Some of the time, we're not motivated. Some of the time we spring out of bed, some of the time we're like, "Oh God, okay, it's early." And this is just life. And we want to present this image of smiling and shining all the time. But we feel different things, and it's okay. And we live in a world where we want to just present everything we feel, which is kind of weird, but hey, look, we're human beings. We're happy, we're sad, we're this, we're that. So my thing about motivation is, of course, motivation is great. But if we wait for motivation before working out, then we're going to work out like twice a month.
So the idea is discipline. You do the thing, whether you're motivated or not. That's what discipline is. So if I wake up and don't feel like making lunch for my son to go to school, well, guess what, I'm going to do it anyway. If I don't feel like flossing my teeth and brushing before I go to bed, well, guess what, I'm going to do it anyway because I don't want my breath to stink and my teeth to fall out. I want to smell like toothpaste and mint. So it's discipline. It's not because I love to do laundry that I do laundry. And again, I love to cook, but sometimes it's discipline. Sometimes I don't do it out of love, and I love to work out. But I get results because I have the discipline to do it, not the motivation.
"When I show up to work out…I want to get there. I want to be ready to work hard. An app is going to help me tell me what to do. And all I needed the discipline to show up." – Danny Kavadlo
So in terms of an app, some people do really well in this interface. And this is something a lot of people have been asking me for, for a long time. We've been putting out books for many years, and people have been saying, Danny, I love your book, but how come there's not an app? An app helps me get there, tells me, again, what we were talking about with people asking for programming. I want to know what to do. I want to know how long to rest. I think about 99 things every day. I got to get my kids to school. I got a job. I got a hundred emails. I got a practice I run. I got to pay bills. I got to do all the things that I got to do and wish my mom a happy birthday today, too.
When I show up to work out, I want this app too. I want to get there. I want to be ready to work hard. An app is going to help me tell me what to do. And all I needed was the discipline to show up and do what I'm told. So in that regard, it's helpful with that. And that's how it ties in with discipline. And that's how it ties in with motivation.
Progressive Calisthenics, Free Weights or Both
Bill (TriadXP): You focus a lot on progressive calisthenics. But you're bringing in free weights and hybrid training into this book. What was your motivation to pull that together into the book?
Danny: The short answer to that is, the motivation is this is something I was passionate about, and I've wanted to write this book for years. I started this before Al, and I put out Next Level Strengths, which we put out in 2019. I started it. I put it down. So it was something that I've wanted to do. It was a labor of love. It was something I couldn't wait to do. The other reasons are people have been asking for it forever. I mean, even if you look at some of the endorsements that I got, I got some really good endorsements from some of the biggest names in fitness:
Dan John, Mike Fitch, the founder of Animal Flow, Paul Wade, who wrote Convict Conditioning. He's the godfather of the bodyweight movement. And what a lot of these people said was, this is a book that I was waiting to come out, but who would take on the task to do it. Well, who else would take on this task to do it? So this book and this app is really just the labor of love and, it's something that I want to do and something that I know that there's a demand for. Realistically, I have two types of personal training clients. A is a calisthenics enthusiast. Someone who calls me up, and they're like, "Danny. I'm in town from Munich. And I want technique on my muscle up." And I'm like, "Okay, meet me at the park. And I love that type of training. I love training people like that.
"The main type of personal training I have….somebody who has a job and isn't the calisthenics specialist, and they're 50 years old….they don't want to get fatter as they get older, they want to be fit and strong and healthy." – Danny Kavadlo
But the other type of personal training clients I have is the main type of personal training I have, who I also love. There's somebody who has a job and isn't the calisthenics specialist, and they're 50 years old, have a dental practice and three kids, and they don't want to get fatter as they get older, they want to be fit and strong and healthy. That's 90% of the people that I train, And with those people, I can't be like, we're working on muscle-ups and human flags today. That's not appropriate training. So we do hybrid training because maybe for somebody, who mobility is a thing, who's not of calisthenics specialists, maybe progressing towards a pistol squat isn't the ideal for everybody. And maybe increasing the load on a barbell squat with full range of motion is another pursuit
Again, it goes to say that there are many ways to pursue things. Progressive calisthenics means doing harder and harder exercises to get results. So let's say I start with a bodyweight squat on two legs. Now I'm doing somewhat of a split squat like staggered, one foot forward, one foot back. Now, maybe I'll elevate the rear foot. And what I'm doing is I'm altering the exercise to make it more difficult, to put more weights in whatever limit is, in this case, my leg, by doing a split stance, I'm making an asymmetrical spot. I'm changing the load by elevating my rear foot on that split stance. I'm putting more of my body's weight in my front foot. I elevate the rear foot a little higher. Now I'm putting even more of my body's weight in that front foot. No matter what, I'm doing what's called progressive resistance.
In that case, progressive calisthenics, I'm doing a pushup with my hands on my bench. Now I'm doing my pushup with my hands and the ground. Now I'm doing my pushup with my feet on the bench. I'm increasing the load in my arms when I do that; it's progressive resistance. In doing that with calisthenics, the way it's achieved is by altering the exercise. The body weighs what the body weighs. If I weigh 180 pounds, I weigh 180 pounds. So what do I do? I put more of my 180 pounds in my arms and my legs or whatever body part I'm training. That's progressive resistance. If I'm in weight training, the difference is rather than being the same weight and changing the exercise. I'm doing the same exercise if I'm doing weight training, but I'm changing the weight. So I have a barbell on my back that's 45 pounds.
"This is a strength training book. This is not a calisthenics book. This is not a free weights book. This is the way I train. This is a strength training book. I'm a strength training guy." – Danny Kavadlo
I'm doing a squat. Now I'm putting a plate on each side. Now it's 135 pounds. My body is doing the exact same movement, but I've increased the load. I'm doing a different movement with the same load with the calisthenics, but the movement changes how much load is in the limb. So that the principle with strength training, this is a strength training book. This is not a calisthenics book. This is not a free weights book. This is the way I train. This is a strength training book. I'm a strength training guy. I did put stretches in this book because the older I get, I'm 47 years old, the more mobility becomes important to me. My shoulder was frozen at some point in my life. When I was in my forties, I started doing hot yoga, and it's changed me a lot. So many of those movements I've incorporated into my stretches, and I put it in this book as well.
I know it's a long answer, but the motivation behind it was just this thing was screaming to get out of me. And it's been building inside of me. And I think that's the motivation to do anything like that. I was like a Beautiful Mind. I had stuff taped on the wall and like arrows and things like that. And like different things going on with the programs and it, this thing, it has to be like, ready to like scream and come at you. And this thing was ready to come out of me.
Diet Matters. Danny's Juice Feast
"It will really just change your perspective on what you want and what you need." – Danny Kavadlo
Bill (TriadXP): You talk a lot about diet and sugar. Why did you do the juice feast?
Danny: Juice feast. Okay. You have been paying attention. So, I've been messing around with this stuff for a long time. Like what they call intermittent fasting. I've been doing something like that since I was like 12, 13 years old. I remember I was in like seventh-grade biology class. And my science teacher was like, said something about the body starts metabolizing fat after about 12 hours, which I don't know how much truth is really to that. And it's pretty glib, oversimplification, but something about that resonated with me. So I made this rule that I was going to go at least 12 hours without eating. Later on, I mean, that's not really fasting, and you're still eating nonstop, then when I was maybe about, I guess I was in my late twenties, I was like, "Okay, I'll give this thing a try." And so I started doing like a three-day juice fast, like four times a year, and I did that for a couple of years. And so, what's the motivation behind doing that. Okay, well, back then, I was going at a juice fast. Now I call it a juice feast. There's a lot of reasons. Your digestive system never really gets a break, and we are overloading it all the time. There's stuff in your intestines that's been in there. I mean, a lot of numbers get thrown around, and I'm sure there's a wide range, but suffice it to say the average person is walking around with toxins in their gut. And that's the nicest way I could put it. So you allow yourself to cleanse a little bit. And usually, when I use that word, someone is quick to say, "Hey, cleanse what? Juice doesn't cleanse you." And that's true. Juice doesn't cleanse you. Here's the thing, your body cleanses itself. Okay. The juice just gives you the optimal place that your body can cleanse itself.
When we're cramming carbs in every three hours, your body doesn't get a chance to cleanse itself because it's so busy digesting all of that. So, yes, it's not really a juice cleanse. The body is doing the cleansing, not the juice, but what you're doing is you're giving your digestive system a break, and I do fresh fruit and fresh vegetable juices, and water, and maybe herbal tea, maybe seltzer with the squeeze of lemon. I don't do any supplements. I don't add any vitamins or sugar or anything. Just the juice, so you're flushing your body with vitamins, with vitality.
People do it for like a dietary thing, and you will lose weight. There's no way you won't. I was super at my fattest when I did it. It was like deep into quarantine. Danny was drinking too much like it wasn't good. So luckily, I was at my very fattest when I did it. You will lose weight. So I think something that people don't realize is you should drink a lot. By the end of it, I was drinking like three gallons of juice a day, like various juices, like watermelon juice, green juice; different juices affect you differently. I learned what affected me. And I was just living on juice, but I was making sure I got sufficient calories with it too. So why do it? It will really just change your perspective on what you want and what you need.
Why do it? You will flush your system with nutrients. Why do it? You will eat the fat and bad stuff in your body, and it will be gone. Why do it? You will realize how many hours you have in the day. Why do it? I mean, after three days, you get a lightning-like focus. You get a laser focus after three days with it. You do. You do. You sleep better. And the other thing about it too is just by virtue of it. There are just bad things; you're not putting in yourself. Like, if you're doing a juice fast for, let's say, one week, right? You're not putting in sugar; you're not putting in fat; you're not putting in caffeine; you're not putting in alcohol. There are just so many bad things that you're not, I don't think caffeine is bad, but there's just stimulates and things that you're just taking out. So, of course, you're going to feel great. And then you're flushing yourself with nutrients. I can't recommend it enough. And if anyone doubts me, try it, Dannypersonaltrainer@gmail.com. I will consult you. I will guide you through it. I got a thousand suggestions to make it easy. I can't get into it all here, but if anyone wants to try it, contact me, Dannypersonaltrainer@gmail.com. It will change your life.
Bill (TriadXP): Your energy, man, it comes through, and I'm sure everyone's looking forward to the new book finally hitting the streets. I know we're looking forward to helping you with the app.
"I've actually personally surveyed this app. It's unbelievable. I can't believe how smooth and how organized and how it's all 80 workouts in there." – Danny Kavadlo
Danny: Absolutely. And I just want to say, like I've actually personally surveyed this app. It's unbelievable. I can't believe how smooth and how organized and how it's all 80 workouts in there. It's descriptive. You just click on the exercise. It'll tell you how to do it. It's pretty amazing.
Bill (TriadXP): Your workouts are going to help a lot of people. And hopefully, with the app together, we're going to help people hold themselves accountable and track their results. And the discipline that we've talked about, forming those habits, and so on. It's been great to catch up with you today.
Danny: Hell yeah. Likewise.
Bill (TriadXP): And we look forward to continuing to work together, but we are psyched about getting this book and the app in the market here real soon. Take care.
Danny: Thank you very much. Keep the dream alive.
Get Danny's New Book Hybrid Strength Training from Dragon Door Publications and the TriadXP in-app workouts for Hybrid Strength Training with voice and visual guidance.