Zen Fitness

“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is uniquely your own.” – Bruce Lee

Throughout my life, I’ve experimented with dozens of different exercise modalities.

I’ve used barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, sandbags, and just about every other heavy object I could think of to try lifting.

I’ve done parkour, martial arts, Marathons and yoga. I even tried a Triathlon.

I believe my various experiences have helped me become a more well-rounded physical specimen, but after all of those things, I always come back to the simplest, most direct way of training I’ve ever known – calisthenics.

I love calisthenics training because it requires nothing more than your body, your mind and your warrior spirit.

You don’t need to buy anything, go anywhere or put on any special clothing. Anybody can start right now.

As Maya Angelou once said, “Ain’t nothing to it but to do it.” (Or was that Ronnie Coleman?)

There’s a lot to love about calisthenics, but my favorite thing is how it keeps you in the present. When you’re working on developing a new skill, you need to give all of your attention to the task at hand.

When you are completely focused on your training, the division between body and mind breaks down and everything else seems to fall away.

This phenomenon has been called different things by different people. Whether you call it mindfulness, samadhi, flow state or any other name, it’s a beautiful thing when it happens.

This is actually the subject of my first book, We’re Working Out! A Zen Approach to Everyday Fitness.

Over the years, I’ve learned and absorbed many things from different places, taken what’s worked for me, and used it all to develop my own theories and methods, which continue to adapt and take shape before my eyes. I’m constantly working to refine and expand my movement repertoire and I still look for inspiration in new and varied places.

I owe a thank-you to anyone I’ve ever trained, trained with, worked with, worked-out with or known in any capacity whatsoever. Some people have obviously had a greater impact than others, but everyone I’ve ever interacted with (even electronically!) has in some way shaped who I am today.

The video below shows a variety of exercises I’ve picked up (and in some cases modified) from different bodyweight disciplines, all blended into seamless, flowing movement.

Be present for your training, have fun and find your own path.

33 thoughts on “Zen Fitness

  • By Adam Krause -

    beutiful video. silly question, what kinda pants are those, trouble finding pants that i can do squats in..

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Adam! The pants are from Lulu Lemon.

  • By Adam Krause -

    beutiful video. silly question, what kinda pants are those, trouble finding pants that i can do squats in..

  • By http://szundatraining.blogspot -

    Great video!

    Hard and funny, very good mix :)

    Zoli

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Zoli!

  • By John Reinert -

    Al,

    Thank you for all your hard work on this site. I came across your articles on BB.com and have loved your website. Going to the gym and lifting weights was so boring I hardly ever had the motivation to go. Plus it stinks in there!! However, getting up in the morning and enjoying the beautiful weather as you knock out some pull-ups and dips are great. Its amazing to see how much I have neglected my core in the past and how weak I am in that area. I went from going to the gym 2-3 times week, to doing bodyweight training everyday, and I love it. I love the PB & Banana Smoothie too!! Hopefully I can keep it up. Anyway, I really appreciate the work you have put into this site. Now for a question. How are your books different from the information and videos on your site?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, John! My books aren’t really any different from this website, but they go a lot more in-depth! If you like my articles and videos, my books (and DVD) will not disappoint you.

  • By D F -

    Welcome back Al. Try not to abandon us for so long again sheppard!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, DF!

  • By John -

    Hey al kavaldo great videos!

    I wanted to ask you, how come you are so serious about your training for such a long time, yet your abilities are pretty usual?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Hey John – I don’t know who you’ve been training with, but if you think my skill-set is typical you must roll with a very fit crowd!

    • By Melisa Anderson -

      Have you WATCHED any of Al’s videos? I’d bet there is maybe 6 people in my very full gym who can do a pistol squat and even fewer that can do a one-armed pull up. Seriously.

      • By RobbyTaylor -

        I would estimate that most gyms have 0 members that can do a single clean one arm pull up. If you can do one, you would very likely have more relative strength than anyone you encounter at any given gym.

    • By J-Lewt -

      I have not met anyone in person that can actually do a human flag, let alone pull off what Al just did in that clip. Maybe you made a typo?

      • By RobbyTaylor -

        Well, Al does bring up a good point, there are a few groups that I’ve seen where Al’s skill level would not be unusual. I’ve seen people who can do flags with another person standing on their torso, one arm muscle ups, one arm front levers…when you see a group with someone who can do this stuff, usually there are quite a few other people in the group at Al’s level. These groups are very rare though, and I’m pretty sure these people train all the time. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s awesome that they’re so committed and have that capacity. I can only think of a few people off of the top of my head who make Al’s skills look “usual”.

        • By rifat -

          The people are,,,, male gymnasts!!!!!!!!!!!

  • By Stan Broniszewski -

    I can see why fitness centers such as Bally’s, Retro Fitness, as well as others are offering ridiculously low monthly fees – they are HURTING! With stuff like this (body weight only), more & more people are wising up and saving money.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      The tide in the fitness industry is definitely changing! Bally’s has been in the toilet for a long, long time though.

  • By Mattyoung -

    Great work Al! I like the unique flow you’ve developed. The only downside of your site is I wish you made more posts… Once a week would be great!
    A

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Matt! I’m doing a lot of writing for other websites lately so haven’t had as much time to devote to this blog. You should check out my Facebook page for more updates – I post something there almost every day!

  • By Scott Mason -

    Hey Al, another cracker u really r an inspiration, just finished Pushing The Limits! Awesome. Thanks again Buddy B-)

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Scott! Glad you liked the book!

  • By dhairya -

    HI Al,
    I began finger/grip training based on Convict conditioning 2. which day would you prefer to practice- the pull up day or pushup day??

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Either way is fine by me!

    • By RobbyTaylor -

      You can use towels or other tools to challenge your grip during pull ups, and you can do push ups on your fingertips to train that type of strength. These two forms of hand strength are different and the easiest way to train it is by simply incorporating it into other exercises; one of my favorite exercises in this regard is the fingertip L sit.

  • By Luiz -

    Brother, I would like to ask you a question, in your diet you calculate the amount of protein you eat and how much you recommends consuming. thanks

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Hey Luiz – I don’t keep count of my marco-nutrients. I just try to eat lots of nutritious, whole foods and the rest takes care of itself.

      • By Luiz -

        Thank you my brother, I am a great admirer of your work, congratulations for the excellent results in your training.

  • By EMI -

    Dear Al, I’m from Argentina, southamerica.
    I’ve always done sports, like tennis, swimming, rowing, handball, etc… The last few years I have been working on a gim, but unfortunately I made a huge mistake, and I have train only my upper body, leaving my legs forgotten in the past. So last month I realize that everyone at the gim wants me to take that stupid supplements to get bigger and bigger. The pression and the feeling of not going anywhere during training made me left the gim…so, after 3 years doing weight lifting, I find myself running in a forest where I have some bars to make pull ups, push ups, dips etc.. In order not to lose shape, loss some wights, and get stronger. My problem is that my legs are not strong enough to carry my body, so I will have to start trainning different outdoors.
    I have realize that I love working out in the bars, it’s just amazing. So I will go for your books and follow your page. As you are like me, no supplements just good diet, I feel really happy to find someone who train, have results, and only with old school hard work, like you
    Here goes my final question, I’m doing pul ups, push ups, dips, etc… Do you think there’s a good routine in order to loss some weight and define my abs while getting bigger arms with bars and running training? Big hug from here. And keep it up bro!

    • By RobbyTaylor -

      It sounds like you already have a pretty good idea. For legs, work your way toward pistol squats, then once you are comfortable doing sets of 12-15 per leg you can start adding weight. For abs, do L sits on the ground and/or full hanging leg raises (straight legs, toes to bar). Lots of pull ups and dips, working your way toward muscle ups and handstand push ups.

      • By EMI -

        thanks very much Robb!
        the key points its always how many days per week do you think that somebody normal can do pull ups and dips without over trainning? because trainning only with this kind of exercises is new for me! again, thanks for replying!

        • By Al Kavadlo -

          If you’re new to calisthenics, start with 3 days a week – you can add more as your conditioning improves. Check out my books for more detailed advice! :)

          • By EMI -

            I have just finished reading your “raising the bar” book, i am good at dips and pull ups, but i cannot master muscle ups nor legs hang rises…. so i will start with the begginer exercises for these two that are in your book! i hope than in a month or two, with a lot of dedication i will be able to do my first muscle up! and make a clear leg hang rise! ones i conquer thats moves, i will go for the one arm chin up!
            i will read your book again tonight, you most know that you have help me a LOT with your steps to master elite movements, its the perfect guide for mastering the bar…. thanks for everything al ! and keep in touch!

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