My previous post/rant was about doing some complementary fitness training along with your martial art activity. However, in order to avoid becoming a muscle-bound brute, you need a good training regimen, and in the following review I would like to present an excellent option.
Let me say from the start – I have absolutely nothing about training with standard weights (barbells and/or dumbbells) and doing it within the environment of a standard gym, as long as you know what you are doing. However, for some reason (actually, quite a few of them) I have always gravitated to other forms of conditioning and physical training, bodyweight being my preferred mode of operation here. (Nevertheless, revisit my post about the Torqueblade Torsion Training to see some other things I enjoy in this regard).
I do not remember exactly how and when did I first hear of coach Greg Mihovich, but at one point his name started popping out rather frequently in my inquiries about various functional training methods for martial arts, so I looked for a bit more info on his background. To cut the story short, the following article pretty much convinced me to contact him and try some of his stuff:
The two of us sort of hit it off immediately (may have something to do with our Slavic ethnic background), his approach made a lot of sense, and I decided to invest some time in following his training guidelines. To that end, I ordered three of his products, which are reviewed here.
Primal Conditioning 1
While I thought for a moment that the description reading “Definitive guide to complete body mastery” was on a cheesy side of things, even after the first “run through” overview of the package had me in different mood. Actually, in the context of strength training, the only thing that could get you closer to that goal would be joining the nearest gymnastics club… Still, if you’re not in your early teens (like I most certainly am not), even that might not be the right answer.
Anyway, the first thing that really resounded with me immediately, when it comes to Greg’s Compound Conditioning is his emphasis on movement, over the isolation of body parts/muscles. If your are looking to improve the level or performance in your chosen activity, instead of going for the esthetic appearance, this certainly makes a lot of sense.
In order to cover as much ground as possible, Mihovich differentiates between several basic human movements: squatting, pushing, pulling, bending, extending, rotating; and when it comes to treating the core of the body, he works it both its stabilizing and movement initiator roles.
So in this 2-DVD set, we get to see eight categories of exercises: squatting, pressing, bridging, pulling, flexing, rotational, plank and what he calls the upside-down group. Demonstrated in each group are several exercises and their variations of different degrees of difficulty. Coach Mihovich gives some very good pointers regarding the proper technique in doing each exercises, and some of that advice has improved my performance almost immediately. That said, I really like the balance of his verbal explanations – not so verbose to bore you, yet detailed enough to cover all the important aspects.
Now, we come to another feature of Greg’s instructional training products. The DVDs themselves are used to offer a sort of thesaurus-like format. It means there is a chapter dedicated to each of the exercise (sub)groups, so you can find them easily. His explanation of basic program making and exercise selection, along with sample workouts is offered in the accompanying booklet/manual. It is by no means extensive, but covers all the bases you need, including the sample routines for the basic, intermediate and advanced level. The rationale behind those is touched upon as well, thus making it pretty well-rounded.
There is enough material here to keep you working for a long time, especially if you also do some “scull sweating” and use the presented exercises and training principles to compose your own programs after going through all the samples offered in the brochure.
The only question I was left with is how come more people are not using this format in their instructional packages?
Iron Beast Conditioning
This one deals with the use of kettlebells in physical fitness training. Just like the “Primal Conditioning, it comes as a package of videos (3 DVDs!) and a manual (at 25 pages of information, pretty good one too).
In line with the nature of the beast, coach Mihovich divides the entire material into two big categories – grinds and ballistics, and then has them further subdivided into basic movement or skill groups (yes, you’re wielding an external object/force here, so there is some skill involved in doing it properly).
Being a good and responsible coach that he is, Greg opens up with a chapter on preliminary skills and exercises and safety tips. Try not to skip those if you are not already a veteran kettlebell swinger (just could not resist that one:-))
The manual starts with a list and comments on some universal training principles and guidelines one should consider if they are training for performance. Now, this is neither exhaustive in the number of principles mentioned, nor in-depth in the coverage of those that are, but will point you in the right direction to research.
Without the detailed overview, the exercise categories demonstrated are:
I. Grinds: - squatting
- mixed group
II. Ballistics: - pulls (swing, clean…)
III. Combination lifts
The booklet also outlines the sample training programs for the novice, intermediate and advanced, and the latter two include full and abbreviated options. However, there is also the program for those who would like to get more specific and try the kettelbell sport program, and that one is three phases (four weeks each); and finally the fat loss program if that is what you’re after.
Again, a brilliant package.
Of course, if you only focus on strength and over-emphasize that aspect of the fitness training, you may risk becoming bit stiff. In order to prevent that you should take up some mobility and stretching regimen, so this DVD covers that for you.
The exercises in this one are not revolutionary, but they are presented in a nice manner and in the order that makes much more sense for your body that simply jumping all over the place in a random fashion. Greg treats all the joints and body parts with care, making sure that there are no holes in your overall plan.
That said, we all do have different problematic areas, and you should be honest with yourself here. Unlike the case of strength programs, which are more easy to quantify (via the number of sets and reps), the mobility is concerned with the quality and range of your motion. In practice it means you should focus on and do more of the things that are difficult and uncomfortable, instead of dwelling on the exercises that are easy, comfortable and make you look good.
In this video (and a booklet of course) we are shown mostly the set of exercises done in the standing position (although there is a bonus chapter on the DVD with some more “grounded” exercises), and the brochure discusses how you can use it as part of your warm up before other training, as means of active recovery or as part of what is called the morning recharge routine.
Through my communication with coach Mihovich, I found that he also has a program of ground mobility exercises. What’s even more important, I had the privilege of seeing it and hope that one will also find its way to the general public in another excellent training package like the ones reviewed here.
Finally, you can contact Greg and order these products through his website: