Friday, June 20, 2008

Tahitian-Style Beach Pump

I've been visiting Tahiti and Moorea for the last two weeks, and while I've been here I took my honey to the most popular beach on Tahiti. It was a bright, sunny day--and bloody hot. The water, a stunning shade of turquoise, was incredibly soothing and tranquil. After beachcombing, swimming, and just plain lying about on the sand all day, round about sundown, I decided it was time to break out my trusty, versatile, travel companion, the Lifeline Jungle Gym. The Tahitian people we'd encountered were so beautiful to behold, I was inspired to do some old-school body building with the best machine ever: the body itself. I borrowed from the basic school of gymnastics-assistance exercises. Have you ever seen a gymnast with a poor build? Most look like Greek statues come to life. The mainstay for gymnasts and circus acrobatics performers is body weight exercise.

We chose a large, shady tree to attach the Jungle Gym. We had to pay off a couple local dogs with some of our beef jerky, and they soon lost interest in our activities. I didn't realize, until later, that we were in someone's front yard! The native people here build comfortable and cool little shacks, literally upon the water's edge. Because the local flora also grows up to the water, the domiciles can be hidden from view. It's hard to know what's private and what's public around here. The beaches are small, narrow, and fairly steep--unsuitable for sprinting. The really wonderful thing is the hospitality and friendliness of the Tahitians. Here I was, making a spectacle of myself, and my bikini-clad ingenue, in someone's front yard! Hence, the dogs' vested interest...yet the inhabitants were smiling, friendly and gracious. Two little kids climbed the tree above us and peered down from the branches, fascinated by the strange goings on. Two teenage boys were just as amiable. They even shooed the dogs off, who weren't even bothering us anyway. Imagine being at the Jersey shore--or Marin County--on someone's private beach--they would have sicced those pit bulls on us--after calling the police! The Tahitians have a history of graciousness and hospitality.

Now, for the workout we did:

1) Handstand Push-Ups

2) Handstand Hold, for time

3) Chin-Ups , with Knee-Raise Combination, on Jungle Gym
this is a real abdominal smoker!

4) Dips on the Jungle Gym

5) Reverse Rear Delt Flys, on Jungle Gym

super set with:

6) Body Weight Rows

7) Body Weight Pec Flys

super set with:

8) Push-Ups, on the Jungle Gym

9) Abdominal Roll-Outs, from the feet

10) Atomic Push-Ups (Pike-Up, with feet in Jungle Gym stirrups, followed by a Push-Up)
another extreme abdominal exercise

11) Arm-Elevated Bicep Curls, on Jungle Gym

12) Tricep Extensions, on Jungle Gym

13) Single-Leg Calf-Raises

14) Pistols, aka One-Leg, Flat-Foot Squats

15) Leg Curls, with Hip Raise, on Jungle Gym

I felt great after this workout. It was noted by my companion that I had a tremendous pump...and a magnificent sweaty sheen. She told me I looked like a Cirque du Soleil performer just off his shift under the hot lights. She asked to take me home for a private performance...I'm telling you guys: start working out with your girlfriend or wife (but not both!)

The elevated T-levels from working out with your significant other can't be beat. It raises her levels also, making for an adorable bit of aggression. My GF performed this same workout, with some modifications. It was a wonderful way to spend some time in this Paradise.

**************************************************************** ASK COACH! ****************************************************************
For the Maxwell Daily Dozen (click here) how many reps should I perform for each movement? I currently do 10.

Between 10 and 50. For areas that are extra stiff, do more reps, up to 50.

Q: ...last year I was in a motorcycle accident...Broke ribs and had herniated disc....with some physical therapy and my own working out eventuallyI came back, lost 60 lbs and did get stronger, unfortunately during my recovery my wife of 19 years had an affair.... we're divorced now. It's been a hell of a year and the stress of it all has worn my adrenals down, exercise has become... an integral part of my recovery and I don't want to give it up but the road I am going on now will only wear the adrenals down more. I don't want to give up exercise and gain...weight either. I need a program that will help my fatigue. Right now the more I work out the more tired I get...overtraining!

A: Exercise is like medicine: it can heal you but it can also kill you. Like all strong medicine, more is not better--it's dose-dependent.

We must find the correct exercise prescription for you. Also, like many medicines, exercise can have addictive properties.
I believe that all things that happen in life are for a purpose, and most are precipitated by our unconscious behaviors. The secret is to become consciously aware.

Many seeming disasters are ultimately blessings. I believe in a world of good and goodness. It's often darkest just before the dawn and you can come out of this stronger and wiser and perhaps in a few years you'll look back and have a compassionate laugh for yourself. When you're right in the middle it's difficult, but I suggest you see this as the middle of the story, not the end of the story yet.

Great job on the recovery from the motorcycle accident. You show a lot of moxy. If you can get through that, you can get through this. Trust the ol' coach.

There's a saying that you can't take someone where you yourself have never been, and believe me, I've been where you've been on all levels.

In Strength & Health!

Coach Steve

Friday, June 13, 2008

Some Excellent Home-Made Clubs

Hey gang,

I've got a great, money-saving tip for you: a couple weeks ago, when I was visiting Joe Egan's karate academy in NH, I discovered a way to create a very worthy, and utilitarian, set of clubs. Joe (the consummate do-it-yourself-er) and I took a trip to the local sporting goods store in search of large plastic Whiffle Ball bats.

I had in mind to get the oversized, red, Fred Flintstone model, sold at most KMarts and other variety stores, but we couldn't find any.

At the local Models, we encountered the ultimate Whiffle Ball bat cum club. They have the MLB logo, and are a hollow, clear plastic, with three Whiffle balls stored inside. Much to my delight, the top of the bat screws offmaking for easy fillin'! This is a huge advantage over the red bats, which required glue and duct tape to recap.

A quick dash to Home Depot for some Quikrete and we were on a mad tear to see how fast we could make a pair of serviceable Indian-style clubs for some down-home, backyard, barbecue-eatin' club swingin'!

We mixed the Quikrete, following the instructions, right in its own container. We unscrewed the top of the bats and ladled in the concrete in using one of the kids' little plastic sand shovels. The bats were a little longer than a standard Clubbell and weighed in, when filled, at 9.7 lbs. This is a perfect weight for most men starting out.
With dry sand they were lighter--a little more than 5 lbs. With a little imagination I think you can get them over 15 lbs., using lead shot (get it at a gun store)...or have it do double-duty as a piggy bank and fill with coins. Another option is screws and bolts. You guys know what to do. If you use something other than Quikrete, I recommend using shredded cloth or some other filling to take up any extra space. In my experience, many people would love to practice club-swinging but simply don't have the budget for the Clubbells and this is a very serviceable alternative.

I personally use Clubbells and consider them one of the most finely crafted implements out there. I have neither chair nor couch, or even house, but I do like my training equipment. I did work out with these clubs I made for Joe, as you can see, and they were great, and no trouble leaving them outside in the weather.


Don't know if you've tried this (I would imagine you probably have). Joe and I were in the Kettlebell class tonight here in Bow NH. and I had the idea to try a 2 KB alternating version of your circular clean. works both on the inside circle and the outside circle. very wax on/wax off kind off feel I did Two 30 sec intervals as part of tonights workout it hurt.... A lot always happy to pass on the pain, try this if you haven't.

A: The Ol' Coach has tried it--we think alike! Thanks, Tyler!

Q: I'd like to see [you] come up with another 300 KB Challenge with different exercise combinations. Adding crush curls and more chest emphasis would be great. It would also be interesting if the DVD had an option to perform an additional 50 - 100 reps for those who wanted an added challenge.

A: Stop with the chest stuff already. What are you, a bodybuilder? Think movement, not muscle...think strength-endurance.

If you want to get to my age--still injury-free and competing--think upper back and rear shoulder... and less chest. If you want an added challenge, attempt the workout while wearing a 20# weight vest. Perhaps start with 10#. I prefer the soft, Ironwear vest.

Yours in Strength & Health!

P.S. The Edison NJ Gladiator seminar, with Zach Even-Esh, is almost full. Come join us and see why Men's Journal named me one of the nation's top 100 trainers! Click here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Spirit of a Warrior

On 6 - 7 June I experienced two of the most exciting, satisfying days of my life: I witnessed my son, Zak Maxwell, light up the Long Beach Arena with a dazzling display of jiujitsu prowess.

On the first day he fought in the feather-weight division. He posted five straight victories before losing, by the narrowest margin possible, in the semi-finals. He received a single penalty point, which cost him the match...and the gold. While bitterly disappointed, he vowed to come back the next day and wreak havoc in the Open Weight category. For those of you who don't know, in BJJ the Open Weight means just what it says: anyone of any weight class--including super-heavyweight--can enter; therefore, winning the Open Weight is the most prestigious win of all. Most of the lighter weights typically shun the Open because it's dominated by true heavy weights--and can be dangerous to your health!

Over 100 fighters entered the Open. At a body weight of only 148 lbs., Zak was the lightest competitor in this event. No one gave him a chance, except the people who really know him. Zak went on and electrified the stadium with a stellar performance: for example, in the quarter-finals, despite the fatigue of six straight victories, he stunned his next heavy weight opponent with a 14-0 spanking. The referee could only shake his head with a smile. Because of his diminutive size, Zak quickly became the crowd favorite. While people love an under dog, they didn't yet know the fight in this little dog!

Many of the great black belts of the world, including Royler Gracie, Saulo and Xande Ribeiro, recognizing his superior jiujitsu skills, were rooting him on and coaching Zak from the sidelines. On his way to the finals, he defeated a current middle-weight (that's two weight classes above Zak) world, and national, champion. He won the match by virtue of a beautiful, outside, single-leg takedown. It was the decisive factor in the match. Anyone thinking takedowns aren't important in BJJ, take a lesson from this and get out there and perfect your judo and wrestling skills! In the finals, he fought a valiant fight against a heavy-weight champion and lost by the narrow margin of two points. At the buzzer, Zak had the guy in his famous Oma Plata shoulder lock. It was a stunning performance! On the podium, as he received his silver medal, Zak's coach, Regis Lebrè, promoted him to brown belt. And why not? He'd just gone through the best purple belts in the world.

I am so incredibly proud. From the time he was in diapers, Zak was raised to be a warrior. In another blog, I'll describe my unconventional methods of training children to excel in physical sport. Zak's conditioning is one of his major assets and he has followed--and exemplifies--the Team Maxercise protocols to the letter. He's a prime example of excellent genetics combined with maximally effective training, along with hard work and a single-minded dedication. The brown belts at the tournament were already worriedly scouting him and taking mental notes for next year--look out!

Enjoy the photos in the slideshow below!

Yours in Strength & Health,

Coach Steve

P.S. If you'd like to see some of the training methods I used with my son over the years, definitely sign up for the Gladiator Seminar 12 July, with Zach Even-Esh and yours truly! Click here for more.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Slosh Pipe

The very name evokes laughter...and laughter aplenty bursts out when you work with this utterly demented, unwieldy and ingenious training tool. I got the idea from my friend, Dan Johns, world-class track and field athlete and coach.

What is a slosh pipe? It's a 4-6" diameter, 9 1/2' long piece of PVC pipe which can be picked up for a few dollars at any Lowe's or Home Depot. You cap one end and on the other, place a fitting with a screw cap, so that you can adjust the resistance.

What is the resistance? It's simply...water. About 38 lbs. of it, to be more precise. The exercise comes from your attempts at walking a straight line across an open field (or in our case, my friend Joe Egan's backyard) while holding the pipe in the Zercher position (crook of the elbows).

It's incredibly difficult to walk a straight line because the water rushes from one end of the pipe to the other, creating horrendous centrifugal force, potentially spinning you into a circle, or one end of the pipe dropping to the ground. The most apt description is it's like trying to wrestle a giant snake.

I could feel every muscle in my core immediately light up as I tried to stabilize the pipe. My heart rate immediately rose with the effort. If you try to go too fast, the water rushes to one end of the pipe, making one end hit the ground, despite your best efforts, and throwing you off balance.

It was so much fun and you can't help laughing out loud at how very awkward the whole thing is. It's hilarious...and addictive. You just want to keep going and going.

After several laps back and forth across the yard, while getting a tremendous cardio, strength-endurance workout, I got the bright idea of pressing the mess overhead. Never in all my life have I pressed such a heavy scant 40 pounds! The effort required to stabilize the pipe is unbelievable. Every muscle, from my toes to my nose, was brought into play in keeping that pipe stable. Truly, an amazing total body workout.

The slosh pipe puts play back into the work. It proves you can have a lot of fun while working harder than you thought possible.

**This just in:


I measured and refilled the slosh log to the 2/3 level recommended. It was much easier to work with compared to what we experienced. The one we trained with was about half full or slightly more than that. I am going to reduce the water level back to what we did the other day because I found that the 2/3 level was much too easy. I figured I’d pass it along in the event you build one for yourself. The screw cap end leaks no matter how tightly it is screwed on so for a permanent water level it will require that plumber’s tape mentioned. I will apply the tape once I am sure the water level is very challenging yet workable. - Joe

Join us Saturday 12 July at Zach Even-Esh's Underground Gym in Edison NJ if you'd like to see a whole bunch of really cool workout ideas and have beastly fun while doing it. We want to spend the day with you! Click here for more info.


I have been looking for a workout I can do at home for the last couple of months. Between working 55-60 hours a week and going to school online full-time, I don't have enough time to get enough use out of a gym membership. I am looking for a workout I can do at home, with a minimal amount of equipment (I live with my wife in a 2-bedroom apartment). What program would you recommend and what equipment will I need?

A: Get the Spartan 300 DVD and do it three times a week on non-consecutive days.

You should get a doorway pull-up bar and a Lifeline Jungle Gym. If you can only get one, get the Jungle Gym.

You should do joint mobility every day since you spend so much time in a chair. You can do the Maxwell Daily Dozen program.

Consider my online personal training services. I can help you meet your fitness goals.
Yours in Strength & Health,