Many successful people feel health and fitness aren't a luxury; they feel health and fitness actually play a major role in their success. The physical benefits are clear, but the mental advantages -- perseverance, resilience, determination, and mental toughness -- are just as important.
This is the third in a series where I follow an incredibly successful person's workout plan for one week. (The first two were seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson and Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen.)
This time it's Jeff Boss, a 13-year SEAL veteran, co-founder of Chaos Advantage, a coaching and consulting firm that helps businesses drive better performance through teams, and author of Navigating Chaos: How to Find Certainty in Uncertain Situations.
The goal is to give you an inside look at how health and fitness help drive each person's success -- and hopefully inspire you to add working out to your daily routine. After all, if someone like me can do it for a seven days, imagine what you can do.
Here's all you really need to know about Jeff Boss.
"It's important to keep the fire in the gut burning," he says, "because without passion or purpose you become complacent -- and complacency kills. I give myself a gut check every day to make sure I've still got it, because over time it's easy to lose sight of what matters to you and instead focus on what is important to others.
"For me, the connection between mental and physical fitness is important -- in the SEALs and in business -- and something I continually try to strengthen by doing crazy gut checks like driving across country in 42 hours straight with no (read zero) sleep (not something I recommend, by the way) or waking up at 5 a.m. every day to play guitar, write my blog, and exercise -- rain, sleet, or snow -- before heading into work.
"If you lose the fire in the gut, you lose the values that define you."
All righty then.
The following is a recent week for Jeff. He likes to mix up his workouts, programming three to four weeks at a time, then switching things up. He also likes to name his workouts based on either A) how creative he's feeling or B) his energy level.
Turns out the adjectives are appropriate.
Kettlebell snatch: 5 x 5 each side, plus 10 weighted dips, 1 minute rest between sets
Kettlebell clean-and-squat press: 5 x 5, plus 8-10 arrow pull-ups (2x regular pull-ups, 2 pull-ups to left, 2 pull-ups to right, 2 regular pull-ups), 1 minute rest between sets
Kettlebell front-raise balance: 3 x 10 (balance Kettlebell on back of wrists and slowly lower and raise)
Kettlebell side-raise balance: 3 x 10
3-way plank: (front/left/right), 1 minute each
Pushup stacks: 3 stacks, left to right/right to left. If you aren't familiar with these, here's a video of Jeff doing them. You basically take a block (like blocks used in step classes to make the step higher), stack 3-5 on top of each other, and place one on the ground, then another, then another, all via pushups.
How did it go? Well, I've never done Kettlebell workouts, but I already knew I should do them a lot more often.
"I like Kettlebells because they're so versatile," Jeff says. "You can structure the workouts to focus on strength, metabolic capacity, strength endurance, power, you name it. It just depends what your goals are. Plus, you can travel with them. I once traveled around the world with my Kettlebell. True story."
Train for Speed Tuesday
Warmup jog: 5 minutes
Sprints: 7 x 45 second, 30 seconds of active recovery
Longer sprints: 7 x 1 minute sprints, 30 seconds of active recovery
Relatively short workout? Yes. Really hard? Oh yes.
This workout is based on interval training, shown to produce a much greater increase in endurance compared to longer, less intense workouts. (Plus, interval training helps reverse the effects of aging.)
Keep in mind that "sprint" really does mean sprint, so warm up thoroughly. And then push yourself as hard as you can for each sprint.
Double Kettlebell clean and press: 5 x 10, plus 25 90-degree crunches in between
Double Kettlebell bent row: 5 x 8, plus 5 full bridges
One-arm Kettlebell squat plus one-arm Kettlebell swing: 5 x 10 each side
Turkish getup: 5 times. (Here's how to do a Turkish getup.) They're great for learning to move with and under a heavy weight, and for developing body awareness and body control. Do them right and they're really hard, too.
Did I mention Kettlebells suck (in the very best way, of course)? They're not just a strength workout; they're great for cardio, too.
Warm-up run: 3 minutes (I did ten minutes because the two days of Kettlebells resulted in a lot of muscle soreness.)
- 1 minute on / 1 minute off
- 2 minutes on / 2 minutes off
- 3 minutes on / 3 minutes off
- 2 minutes on / 2 minutes off
- 1 minute on / 1 minute off
Then 3 rounds:
- Cardinal abs: feet at 90 degrees, x 20 (here's how to do cardinal abs)
- Toes to bar: 15
The sprint portion of this workout is hot death. If you're not a runner -- I don't mean someone who runs, I mean a runner -- go ahead. Try sprinting for three minutes.
Midway through the third minute my sprint was more like a flail. But I did give it everything I had, which is the point.
The descending side of the workout (going from 30-minute sprints to 2, then to 1) might sound like a relief, but I was so tired, it wasn't.
Which is also the point.
F--k Is This Gonna Suck Friday
Row: 6 x 500m @ <1:45 pace. Rest 1.5 to 2 minutes between rounds
Weighted one-legged squats immediately followed by weighted one-legged box jumps: 5 x 5. Rest as needed. (I needed a lot of rest.)
One-legged straight leg dead lift: 5 x 5, 1 minute rest between
Double Kettlebell jumping lunges: 5 x 10
Lever pushups: 2x max. (If you aren't familiar, put one arm in pushup position, the other arm extended out to side on a medicine ball or something of a similar height.)
Uneven pull-ups: 2x max. (Grip the bar with one hand, hold a towel or band at shoulder height with the other. The goal is to basically do a one arm pull-up.)
If you've never done lever pushups or uneven pull-ups, trust me: they're a treat.
Sh-t's About to Get Real Saturday
- 2 minute Jacob's Ladder
- 3 minute rest
- 500m row @ <1:45 pace
- 3 minute rest
Double Kettlebell windmill with curl: 3 x 5 (Start in Kettlebell windmill position with one Kettlebell overhead. Lower yourself down to begin the windmill, reach down with other hand and curl the second Kettlebell, lower it, then raise yourself back up to finish the windmill.)
Bench: Sets with reps of 5, 3, 1, using a weight that causes failure
Uneven arm hang: 2 x :30 (hang from bar with one hand, other hand holds towel)
Fingertip pushups: 2 x 5-8 (or more, if you can)
I had never used a Jacob's Ladder machine. The first 30 seconds were easy. Then it got harder. By the end of two minutes I could feel nearly every muscle in my body; it's a great strength/balance/cardio exercise.
If you can find a gym that has one, try it.
What I Learned
Jeff's goal for each workout is pretty simple: Do better than he did the previous week.
He logs every workout under the premise that what gets measured gets managed, and what gets managed gets improved. That way he knows how much weight to add, how many more reps to do, how much he should decrease his rest time. His goal is constant, consistent improvement.
Since I only did his workout for a week, improvement wasn't really an issue. I did, though, get more comfortable with Kettlebells. If you're accustomed to machines, or doing traditional barbell or dumbbell exercises, Kettlebells will surprise you. The simple act of lifting a Kettlebell from the floor to overhead with one arm involves a number of smaller support muscles as well as your core. Compared to traditional lifts, Kettlebells provide a much more comprehensive workout.
All those little stabilizing muscles? Kettlebells will find them and make them cry.
Sprints are also a great workout, especially if you're pressed for time. Put your all into doing a sprint workout and in less than thirty minutes you'll crawl home feeling like a wrung-out dishrag. I hated those workouts -- but I liked those workouts, too.
"I don't have any huge fitness goals," Jeff says. "Being able to bench 300 pounds for reps, or dead lift 400 pounds, that doesn't make sense to me, because too much of any one thing (in this case strength training) is just that -- it's too much.
"My goal is to simply get better every workout, one workout at a time."
Sounds like a plan.