Optimize Your Mental Life

In our previous post, 5 Ways to Optimize Your Life, we discussed how to optimize your training in order to maximize your results. In regards to the mental work, which sets the stage for everything else, we are working with Thom Shea utilizing the Unbreakable Lessons. Within that framework, we are working on what Thom refers to as the five pyramids. The physical and spiritual pyramids overlap with the physical and spiritual components of five critical areas mentioned in the Five Ways to Optimize Your Life.

1. Physical
2. Intellectual
3. Relationships
4. Wealth
5. Spiritual

I know that I have not reached my potential in many areas of my life. None of us really know what that potential is until we make an effort to go “all in” in any of those areas. In the long run, it really becomes more about the journey than the destination.


The question “why?” is one we all asked as kids and one that, If you are a parent, has been asked many times by your kids. This question and its answer can have many powerful implications. With it being the beginning of a new year and a time many people set goals, I thought it would be a great time to revisit that question. Anytime I meet with a new potential client I always start by asking the question, “Why are your here?” I then encourage them to take a deeper look beyond their initial answer and ask the same question of why at least 4 more times. The purpose of this exercise is to help them connect their goal to a deeper purpose, thereby uncovering the true reason for their goal in the first place. To take full advantage of this exercise requires some careful introspection but it is well worth the effort. This exercise can be applied to any of your goals to uncover their true nature and help light a fire to help you achieve them.

Understanding Your Training Purpose

I have made a concerted effort as of late to make sure I communicate the “why” behind each of our training sessions. I want you to understand the purpose of each training session. It is my goal to provide a training system, coaching, environment, and culture where you can reach your goals. It is important for me to know, that you know how the training fits into you reaching goals. If you don’t understand this and apply the training as intended then we are not being as efficient in our work together as possible. Again it is my goal to provide training, not entertainment. That will be the focus of a future article.

Your Big Why

The question of “WHY?” can also be applied to the big picture of your actual purpose in life as discussed in a recent Forbes article on Finding Your Purpose. I remember making the connection to the power of knowing my “why” during my training at SealFit headquarters and going through the Kokoro experience. We discussed the importance of finding your “WHY” during the academy the week prior to Kokoro but going through Kokoro I got to experience its importance viscerally. I refer to this “WHY” as your “big why”.

Your Little Why

I gained a new perspective on the question of why during our “12 Hours of Unbreakable Jiu-Jitsu”. During one of our discussions, Thom Shea said the question of “why” will kill your performance. What he was referring to is what I will call the “little why”. In the midst of struggle, if you ask the question ‘why?’ and you can’t answer with a big “WHY” then you are done. This is similar to what I have referred to before as “burning the questions”. If you ask the question, you will get an answer. If you have not established a strong purpose ahead of time you may find that during the struggle the answer is conveniently the one that supports your desire to give up in the midst of the struggle.

If you haven’t made a strong connection to your ‘why’ of training I encourage you to do so. If you haven’t discovered your big “WHY”, I encourage you to do so in 2017. Part of our goal here at Alliance is to help you do both.

5 Ways To Optimize Your Life

One of the things I have been focusing on in 2017 is better communicating the intent of our training and how to optimize the training, in order to, maximize your results. So, when I design the program and explain the training, I am doing so from the perspective of someone interested in Peak performance. I realize everyone has different goals and the training can be utilized to different degrees, but I am not watering down the intent of the training. One of my most inspiring groups to coach is my Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9am class whose ages typically range from 65-80 years old. I had this same conversation with them earlier this week. They push the prowler, pull the sled, and do squats to “Sally” just like everyone else while giving a great effort.

When I think of optimizing training, a few ideas come to mind. The first comes from Abraham Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs. Maslow originally stated that only 1% of the population became Self -Actualizers. My interpretation of a Self-Actualizer is someone who reaches their true potential. Later in his life, Maslow widened his idea of a Self-Actualizer to include anyone who was good-hearted and energetic but not extremely creative. In his Theory Z, he referred to a certain percentage of the self- actualizers as Transcenders. Transcenders were those that deliberately chose to live high performing lives. This theory points to the fact that, from a percentage basis, that this number is very low. If you look at it from that perspective, it would seem that this level is not attainable for everyone.

Another perspective of optimizing yourself comes from an idea proposed by Thom Shea in one of his recent podcasts. He said that in his experience, about 15% of the people are highly successful and the other 85% are often just floundering and not reaching their potential. What is different about what Thom says versus Maslow is that everyone has the ability to be in that 15%. He also says that those who are in that 15% have to keep working on themselves in order to stay there. I agree with Thom on each of these ideas which are far more empowering.

If you study peak performance, you will find that there are a few common things that come up over and over again. I often talk about developing Mind, Body, Spirit.These areas can be broken down more to include:

  1. Mental Work
  2. Physical (movement and exercise)
  3. Eating/Nutrition
  4. Sleeping
  5. Spiritual

Over the next few weeks, we will be taking a deeper look into each of these 5 areas and learn how they can help you optimize your life.

New Saturday Training and the Unbreakable Path

I have mentioned previously that 2017 is a year for biohacking. There are many things I am experimenting with and some that I have already begun to integrate into our normal daily training at Alliance. One of those is the incorporation of certain strongman functional movements and emphasis on torque production to improve and fix movement problems. Starting in February, you are welcome to join me on this journey, as we have the opportunity to work together to find balance, perform at our peak, and deal with our own funk. ( I got that last part from Josh Waitzkin http://tim.blog/2016/03/23/josh-waitzkin-the-prodigy-returns/.)

For some time, we have had a Saturday morning training which we referred to as SealFit. In the beginning, the training was designed specifically to help us prepare for special SealFit crucible events such as 20X and Kokoro. Later it took on different shape. We began using different physical training methodologies while maintaining some of the original SealFit Priniciples such as, integrated training of the five mountains (physical, mental, emotional, intuition, kokoro), and team work.

Beginning on February11th, we will have a training that will have more specific systems to work on some of these same things and more. My plan is to integrate physical training with the Unbreakable Lessons that are part of the Unbreakable Path developed by Thom Shea. We have already worked with Thom during the 24 Hour Walk and the 12 Hours of Unbreakable Jiujitsu with success. You can visit Thom’s website www.adamantinealliance.com for more info. Here are a couple of links with info about the path.
Watch the Video

Watch the Podcast

You can choose to focus on the physical training, which will incorporate strongman training, flexibility training, and meditation work, by itself. You can also, choose to follow Thom’s program without our specific physical training. Many have done both with great success. However, integrating both trainings can have a powerful synergistic effect.

Commit, Show Up, Don’t Quit, Be Uncommon,

What is HIT?

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been incorporating a style or philosophy of training known as HIT. HIT is simply an acronym for high-intensity training. There can be many different interpretations of what HIT means. In this article, I simply want to give you my interpretation and why we use it in our training system.

There are three predominant methods for stimulating a positive adaptive response (strength, hypertrophy, muscle tone). Those methods are as follows:

1. Max Effort- This method focuses on trying to create maximal force. This can be done by lifting more weight and/or creating maximal tension.
2. Dynamic effort- This method focuses on moving the weight as fast as possible.
3. Repeated Effort- In this method, you perform repeated sets with the goal of inroading or fatiguing the muscle in order to stimulate an adaptive response.

During HIT, we are focusing on utilizing the repeated effort method by taking the muscle to momentary exhaustion. This can be achieved by performing an exercise, then resting and repeating until exhaustion or in the case of HIT, you can focus on taking the muscle to momentary exhaustion on each set. When we refer to HIT, we are referring to applying maximum intensity of effort to each and every set squeezing the most out of every rep. When done where there is little to no rest between exercise you are able to achieve a very deep level of fatigue very rapidly. This is especially true if the exercises are sequenced such that the same primary muscles are targeted on consecutive exercises. This type of training can be very productive, as well as, physically and mentally challenging.

The are several advantages of HIT training:

1. The total volume of training is less which can correlate to higher intensity of effort. The shorter the training the more intense you can train.
2. A very deep inroad can be achieved in a short period of time.
3. It is safe. If focus and attention to form are maintained, the set actually becomes safer as you near fatigue. This is due to decreased force production potential as you near failure.
4. It allows you to work on developing the ability to distinguish between pain and intensity and thereby learn to push your body and mind to new levels.
5. It is an effective means of increasing strength, hypertrophy, and muscle tone.

Some of the disadvantages of HIT training are:

1. It is extremely hard and requires a high level of focus to maximize the effect and to prevent injury.
2. It can be psychologically challenging because It tends to be more feel than task oriented. When the stated goal is to work to failure, the mind can sometimes play tricks on us and convince us that we have reached fatigue prematurely. It is sometimes easy to say I’ve reached failure because I know I get to stop when I get there.
3. Due to the brevity of the workouts, it can again be psychologically challenging for those who crave volume and feel they always need to do more. HIT is about quality and intensity, not quantity.

I have been asked if we will continue to use HIT on a regular basis. HIT has been a part of our training system for many years. For several years, it was the predominant method we used. I consider training in general to be high intensity. However, the specific application of HIT described in this article is best used intermittently. For the reasons mentioned above, it has been my experience that it is difficult to use HIT on a consistent basis. Research also supports this idea. It can, however, be used intermittently as a change of pace and to teach intensity.This is how we are using it at this time. Hope this answers some of your questions.

Commit, Show Up, Don’t Quit, Be Uncommon


We originally planned to have our annual in-house powerlifting event a couple of weekends ago, but the weather did not cooperate. So, last week we had our test for max squat, bench, and deadlift during our normal scheduled classes.

The primary goal for this testing was to give you a measure of where you are currently and how your strength is progressing in each of these basic lifts. These lifts have been used for many years to measure overall strength and can provide excellent feedback. However, you also need to be aware of how these lifts relate to you on an individual basis. It is important to have an awareness and understanding that if you have a movement restriction or issue, these exercises may not be the best measure. The strongman training, that is part of our training system, may be better for developing and testing your strength.

Having said this, here is the data collected from last week. Although not 100% scientific, this data gives us some great insight into how the program is working as a whole.
1. Out of 26 squat maxes recorded there were 22 personal records.
2. Out of 33 bench maxes recorded there were 8 personal records.
3. Out of 26 deadlfit maxes recorded there were 22 personal records.
Those are some pretty good numbers in terms of the percentage of people who set personal records. There are many factors to be considered when looking at these numbers. Since one of the themes of 2017 is biohacking, lets look at it from that perspective. If you want to look at the data as a biohacker would, you must examine the data logically and not emotionally. As humans, it is normal for us to make decisions based on emotion instead of logic. You just need to look at almost all marketing strategies to see the effect of such thinking.

Here are some of the things to consider. One factor to look at is the timing of the testing. During this time of year, some people were coming off vacation, being sick, or staying up late watching the National Championship game. Another thing to consider is your individual goals and how important they are to you. You can examine your numbers and whether or not you are happy with your results, you can continue to do as you have been doing. In either case, you can also look to see what you can do better. It is really up to you.

Here are some things to think about in terms of maximizing your results.
1. Consistency
You need to look at how consistently you are making your training sessions and how engaged you are in those sessions. If gaining strength is a goal, this consistency includes not only our specific strength days but our strongman training also.
2. Technique
This has been a main focal point of the system we are using on our designated strength days on Monday and Wednesday. Technique is a combination of proper body position and application of proper torque/tension. If you are not focusing on this each and every rep of every set including warmups you are missing an opportunity to get better.
3. Mindset
Are you engaged in each training session? This does not mean that you need to get excessively pumped up for every training session, but if you are focused on the task at hand and locked into each rep you are doing, you will have more likelihood of success. Expect to be successful.
4. Nutrition
Is your nutrition dialed in or can you do a better job in this area?
5. Sleep
Are you getting an adequate amount and quality of sleep?
6. Stress
Are you managing your stress effectively?

You don’t have to necessarily maximize all of these things at once to see positive results. You can just pick one are two areas where you know you can improve and focus on those. I’ll be sending more detailed info about systems you can use to get dialed into each of these areas in the following weeks.

Commit, Show Up, Don’t Quit, Be Uncommon,


Training versus working out, which one do you do?  Is there a difference? I think there is a difference, but I think most people don’t make the distinction. To me, the difference is very simple. Almost anything can be considered a workout. Any assortment of movement and exercises that are thrown together can be considered a workout.  That is not necessarily a bad thing. Back when I was studying health science in college, one of the big papers that came out at the time showed that accumulating 30 minutes of activity 5 days per week had a profound impact on your health by decreasing the risk for a disease.  Notice I said health, not fitness. Also, when we were an affiliate of Crossfit we labeled our daily training as the Workout of the Day. If you look at the definition of Crossfit, which I quoted on a regular basis, for several years it says,” Crossfit is functional movement, done at high intensity with constant or near random variation.” This type of training can be very effective, depending on your goal. Working out can help you attain a great level of general physical fitness and health. It is certainly much better than not working out.

What I would like you to consider, however, is how much better results you could achieve if you trained versus simply worked out. Training has a specific purpose. Even when we were Crossfit, we had a more structured training template. It was varied but definitely not random.  One of the many things that drew me to the Training for Warriors system was the fact that the template Martin Rooney had used to help train some of the best fighters in the world, mirrored what we were already using and had also found to be effective. There were some differences, which we have embraced. One was sprinting, the other was more specific training.  In other words, we have days which are more specifically dedicated to strength and days which or more specifically dedicated to metabolic conditioning. That is not to say that you cannot train both in the same training session but for many, it is difficult to truly focus on both in one session without one or the other suffering. As a coach, when I examine the TFW system,  it fills two primary needs:
1.  For the Jiujitsu athlete, it prepares you for both training and competition.
2.  For those who are not training Jiujitsu, it helps you burn fat, build muscle, and feel good!

This training can be dialed in even more if you have very specific goals.  The point of this article is to follow the Alliance Code and be honest with yourself about how you are approaching your training. Are you simply working out or do you have a specific goal? If you are just working out and you are good with that then that is great. Keep doing what you are doing. If however, you want to focus more on training, we are here to help you. That is where the strategy sessions come in. We can help assess your current goals and ensure we have you on the right path to achieve them.

Commit, Show Up, Don’t Quit, Be Uncommon