The following is adapted from STRENGTH RULES by Danny Kavadlo, and is published with permission by Dragon Door Publishing
Do you want to get strong? Think about it. Not “gym strong” or so-called “functionally strong”. Not “sport specifically strong” either. Not even strong in that you can kick someone’s ass or look pretty in a body building pageant. I mean tensile strong. Versatile strong. Pound for pound strong. Not in your ability to move inanimate objects, but in your capability and competency to navigate yourself through this world. Physically unyielding. Mentally powerful. Spiritually grounded. Emotionally sound.
In my last book Diamond-Cut Abs, I addressed our cultural obsession, my personal journey and numerous time-tested training and lifestyle methods for harnessing a shredded six-pack set of indestructible abdominals. The manuscript was laced with observation, anecdote and personal experience of a life well lived. Although Diamond-Cut Abs, is much more than an abs book, in the months that followed its release I received literally hundreds of inquiries from many good people who loved the book, but wanted to know more. They asked about full body training, full body health and of course full body strength. Well, here it is, my friends: Strength Rules.
Even if you’ve never read DCA or heard of anything Kavadlo, this is a great place to start. In fact, Strength Rules is the best place to start. This work embodies all elements of strength, even how they work into our day-to-day existence, the highs and lows of our being, for better or for worse.
Training (among other things) doesn’t always go according to plan in this adventure we call life and we need to take that into account. Strength Rules teaches valuable lessons in rolling with the flow, while still keeping the faith and staying true to yourself.
This book is dedicated to those who are down with the cause. We want to work hard to get strong. We deserve to build our own muscle, release our own endorphins and synthesize our own hormones. We have no desire to chow down on the drugs being hocked by the supplement manufacturers, locker room steroid dealers or the U.S. government. Let’s eat real, quality foods, not the commercial grade, processed crap mass-produced by a largely uncaring industry. There’s a lot more to “strength” than the workouts.
We have no interest in fly-by-night fitness fads either. Classic exercises have stood the test of time for a reason. I also voice a loud “NO THANKS” to cumbersome, complicated workout equipment and name-brand, overpriced “specialty” clothing every time, instead choosing a dusty pull-up bar my old sweatpants. We walk a path free from trendy diets, gratuitous chemical concoctions and useless gear: We are the freaks and geeks of fitness! Having always had something to strive against, we are prepared to have something to strive for. We know the value of hard work and how good it feels to earn something. There are no quick fixes.
In fact, if you’re looking for a quick fix, you picked up the wrong book. Put it down, walk away, nobody’s feelings get hurt. This stuff is a process. The journey is the destination, man. Whether it’s in the form of a Shakeweight, Viagra pill or fat-free Hot Pocket, most quick fixes are not your friend. We don’t need that bullshit anyway. We are liberated, empowered. No, it’s not easy, but it is simple.
Almost every strength exercise comes down to the basics. Essentially, Squat, Push & Pull. These three broad, essential movements really are the granddaddy of ‘em all. Throw in some Flexion, Transverse Bends and Extension, and you’ve got yourself the tools for a lifetime of full body strength training. Seriously. That’s why the exercises contained in Strength Rules are divided into those few, broad categories. Everything else is a variation. There is no reason to overcomplicate it. My mission in Strength Rules is to help anybody and everybody to get in the best shape of their lives. I lay out the truth clearly and succinctly, giving you the tools needed to grow stronger and persevere in this mad world, with your head held high and your body lean and powerful.
The exercise portion Strength Rules is split into three levels: Basic Training (Starting Out), Beast Mode (Classic Strength) and Like A Boss (Advanced Moves). Naturally, not everyone will fall 100% into one of these groups for all exercises in all categories and that’s fine. In fact, it’s likely that even the same individual’s level will vary from move to move. That’s cool; we all progress at different rates. Respect and acknowledge it. Trust your instincts.
Speaking of instincts, we are wired with them for a reason. If our instincts are wrong then that’s millions of years of evolution lying to us. A large part of Strength Rules embraces empowerment, faith in oneself and emotional awareness. I believe that being honest with yourself, physically, mentally and spiritually is a magnificent and necessary component of true, overall strength. Yes, sometimes the truth hurts, but it must be embraced if we are ever to be fit and free. We all have the power within ourselves. Use it.
I cry out to all body types, age groups, backgrounds and disciplines. I’m talking to the beginning student, just starting a program. I’m calling on the advanced practitioner, looking for new challenges. I’m speaking to the calisthenics enthusiast and all the hard working personal trainers! This is for everyone who wants to get strong. Come with me, friends. Embark on this journey through life and fitness. Learn with me. Train with me. Dare with me. Let’s get strong!
Danny Kavadlo is one of the world’s leading authorities on calisthenics, nutrition and personal training. He is the author of the #1 Amazon best sellers Strength Rules & Diamond-Cut Abs. Danny is known for his minimalist philosophy, simple approach and motivational gifts.
When not training clients in his native New York City, Danny travels the world as a Master Instructor for Dragon Door’s internationally acclaimed Progressive Calisthenics Certification. He has been featured in the NY Times, TRAIN, Men’s Fitness and is a regular contributor to Bodybuilding.com.