Welcome back to “Calisthenic Expert Wednesday” where I share interviews with top calisthenics experts.
Today, I have some amazing insights from an individual that I admire deeply. His name is Ross Enamait and run’s RossTraining.com.
He is one of the most genuine, humble and knowledgable trainers I have ever met. This is a rare combination nowadays and I’m honored to have him on the site.
Ross Enamait Shares His Approach To Training, Increasing Confidence & Achieving Greatness (Expert Interview)
Bodyweight Todd: Ross, you have been a successful boxing coach for many years, and you have noted that not everyone is capable of being a good coach. You said that “Passionate trainers produce passionate athletes.” Can you give some examples of what a passionate trainer might say and/or do to inspire an athlete?
Ross Enamait: Inspiration is a tricky subject, as there is only so much a coach can do if the athlete isn’t already motivated to succeed. In other words, the fighter must want it before the trainer can help. This is particularly true in a sport such as boxing. It is a dangerous sport so the athlete needs to be 100 percent committed. It’s the trainer’s job to then guide that fighter on a successful path. Doing so means getting more out of the athlete than he would find on his own. You aren’t just there to teach, but also to push the athlete through the mental barriers and physical obstacles that would otherwise best him.
As far as what you say to inspire, you first need to know the individual. All athletes have different backgrounds, temperaments, and motivators. The buttons that you push for one might be entirely different for another. And this is why passion becomes so important. You can’t view your job with a punch in on the clock mentality. You have to invest your time and energy into learning everything about the athlete. You aren’t just training him, but also building a strong bond that is rooted in trust. Once trust is established, your communication will be much more effective. In many ways, you could say that the athlete needs to believe in you just as much as he needs to believe in himself.
Furthermore, the trainer also needs to be there during the bad times. Whether you win or lose, you do so together as a team. So many trainers today are quick to play the blame game if things don’t go as planned. They ride the coattails of their athletes when things are going well, but disappear as soon as the tide turns. A passionate trainer will stand by his athlete. He will pick him up during the bad times and encourage him to learn and improve regardless of the outcome.
Bodyweight Todd: Your “Do What Works” blog really pushes the no frills, no nonsense, old school approach to working out. You state that “Athletes have jumped rope and sprinted hills for longer that we have all been alive. I don’t know who invented these activities and I honestly don’t care. Results are my only concern.” What is your routine with these exercises?
Ross Enamait: I started skipping rope back in the 1980s and was running hills not long after. I’ve worked with these exercises for so long that I don’t need a specific routine to follow. Whether I’m performing shorter/faster intervals or more continuous work, I know that I will eventually be challenged as long as I put forth a true effort. And that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy these exercises so much. After all these years, I can still be challenged with nothing more than a rope or a hill. I’ll never outgrow either activity.
As far as intensity and duration are concerned, I’m a fan of variety. I mix up my rope and hill work to prevent boredom. For example, I may perform all out intervals with the rope on one day, and shift gears to more freestyle work on another. There are so many variations to perform that you’ll never run out of ideas.
Hills tend to be more grueling as there aren’t as many opportunities for variety. I still enjoy the challenge however as a true hill sprint is one of the most intense and efficient conditioners that you’ll ever find. You won’t need too much time on the clock to achieve a quality conditioning workout.
Bodyweight Todd: You have some excellent outdoor training videos, again going back to the basics and making do with what you have. What is your favorite makeshift “piece of equipment”, when you are training outdoors?
Ross Enamait: That’s a tough question to answer as I work with so many low-tech tools. I couldn’t label a single piece of equipment as an absolute favorite. Variety is important to me, so whatever I prefer at a given time will typically change as the months pass.
With that said, I am quite proud of the outdoor conditioning area that I created in the woods. To no surprise, I actually started by clearing a path for hill sprints. I live in a hilly area and always wanted my own path for sprints. There wasn’t a clear path however so I created my own. Once I had the path cleared, I began adding to it until it became a complete conditioning area. I built an outdoor pull-up station and partially buried a tire for sledgehammer swings. I’ve also accumulated several stones for various lifts and carries. Between the stones, pull-up bar, hill, and sledgehammer station, I can achieve a full body workout while enjoying the beautiful scenery around.
Bodyweight Todd: You reference athletes living in impoverished conditions with little or no equipment and no special foods, eating only what they can afford each day. Yet they train harder and put more into their workouts than people with all the luxuries of a fancy gym, expensive supplements and expert coaches. Why do you think that is?
Ross Enamait: There are certainly exceptions to the rule, but many of the athletes I’ve referenced are training for more than what the average person could comprehend. Some of these individuals aren’t just hungry to succeed, but also hungry in the literal sense. They train with hopes of someday bettering their lives and the lives of their family. For instance, I’ve highlighted several Ghanaian boxers who work in a fishing industry that does not guarantee a dollar a day in earnings. Their level of poverty is difficult to imagine. Yet, despite all of these disadvantages, there are some extremely high level athletes who have come from these lands.
When you see someone thrive in that environment, it can serve as a powerful learning experience. For starters, it puts many of our own struggles in perspective. It also shows that we really don’t need anything fancy to strengthen and condition our bodies. It all starts with desire. If you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen.
Bodyweight Todd: It was refreshing to see you using some of the basics (sledge hammering, jumping rope, burpees….) in the snow, no less, and explaining that you should “never assume you are too good for the basics.” You are obviously in tremendous shape. Can you share how you can maintain that with basic calisthenics?
Ross Enamait: In my eyes, successful training relies on effort. If you are willing to consistently put forth a true effort, you can do well with almost anything. I don’t need flashy exercises to work hard. Whatever exercises I perform, I always give everything I have. I approach my training with the mindset that no one will outwork me.
I can often be heard saying that how you do what you do, matters more than what you do. In other words, it’s the effort that you put into the exercise that matters more than the exercise. Almost any calisthenic movement provides a perfect example. For instance, consider a basic pull-up. You’ll never find anyone who is too good for strict pull-ups. It’s only a matter of time before the bar wins. So while the exercise may seem basic, it still provides an adequate challenge to whoever is willing to apply themselves with the movement.
The bulk of my training is rooted in this simple philosophy. I never need to stray too far from the basics as it’s my effort that makes me who I am.
Bodyweight Todd: Many of your articles are powerfully motivating and give some great advice on improving your attitude to become a better athlete. Can you share how you would inspire an athlete to be more confident prior to his fight/contest/event?
Ross Enamait: It takes time to develop true confidence. There are no shortcuts. As far as how it is developed, there are a few primary methods. For starters, an athlete becomes more confident through winning. High level athletes are confident because they can draw upon their past success. You are always more confident after you’ve won. You’ve been there before and know what it takes to win. The veteran isn’t battling the uncertainty that the novice feels.
A beginner does not have that luxury. As a result, it is more difficult to develop his confidence. This is where good coaching becomes so important. The coach will slowly build the confidence of his athlete. In boxing, this means being matched appropriately when sparring. You don’t throw your young fighter to the wolves. Instead, you always put him in a position where he can succeed.
In addition, you get the fighter to believe in hard work. I often tell my guys that they aren’t just competing on fight night. There is some form of competition between you and your opponent each time you walk into the gym. I always ask my guys who will work harder today (you or your opponent). Who wants it more? Who is willing to make more sacrifices inside and outside of the gym?
As Bernard Hopkins once said, “I always come in overconfident because I train so hard that I leave no room for doubt in my mind.”
Once you get an athlete to believe in this mentality, it’s only a matter of time before their confidence builds. The key is to work so hard that you truly believe that no one outworked you.
Bodyweight Todd: It makes sense that you encourage your athletes to engage in sport specific exercises to improve performance. What is one calisthenic move that would be useful to the widest array of athletes?
Ross Enamait: That’s a tough question to answer as there are so many useful movements. If I had to pick one though, I’d likely choose pull-ups of some sort. It is rare that you find an athlete who won’t benefit from more time on the pull-up bar.
The bar also offers so many variations. For instance, a slight modification on the bar can turn the exercise into an extremely challenging core movement. Another variation might shift the attention towards grip strength. Countless objectives can be targeted with nothing more than an overhead bar. And if you don’t have a bar, you can typically find a worthwhile substitute such as a sturdy tree branch.
Bodyweight Todd: On top of being very motivational, your articles tend to include quotes from people that most fitness experts might shy away from- Mahatma Gandhi, Isaac Newton, Confucius… You have a great way of tying them in with your pieces to really highlight your message. Who would you list as one of your earliest sources of inspiration?
Ross Enamait: My earliest inspiration was my first boxing coach, Rollie Pier. He got me pointed in the right direction and taught me the significance of hard work as it relates to success in any venture. If I hadn’t walked into the gym and met him as a youngster, I honestly have no idea where I’d be today. I can say with certainty that my life would have turned out differently though. The lessons that I learned from him in the gym are lessons that I would have never experienced anywhere else. I am forever grateful.
Ross, this was incredible. You are very inspirational to me and I know the SOA tribe will be inspired to pursue their own personal greatness too! Thank you so much for an incredible interview!
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