Welcome to the Steven McCain podcast, where every week I bring you people making world-class decisions in the field of human optimization and performance. This week's guest is Al Kavadlo. Al is a fitness body, weight, calisthenics expert. He's an influencer. He's an author who has sold more than a million copies of his programs.
And he specializes in helping middle-aged men get into shape. We have a really fun time discussing all things related to fitness, how to approach it, how to structure your program, how to make it effective.
And most importantly, how to keep it simple. So if you are right now at a point where you need a little nudge in that field,
Then maybe this might be the podcast for you, so let's do it.
Stephen: Al, welcome to the Stephen McCain podcast.
Al: Hey, hey, hey. Thanks for having me.
Stephen: I haven't had anybody on the podcast that is primarily centered around, Exercise or fitness, which is kind of ridiculous considering, how important it is to me.
Stephen: So I like your story a lot. You've written a lot of great books. I went through some of the books that you sent me and, I was impressed. And so I look forward to to chatting all things related to, you know, what it's like to stay in shape as an older, middle-aged male with you.
Al: Yeah, no, I'm, I'm excited to get into it and, yeah. No, it's, it's, it's interesting cuz right, longevity. A big part of longevity is exercise. There's other things too, but without exercise, you're missing maybe the biggest part of the equation.
Stephen: Yeah, I agree. I mean, I always say the exercise, I'm really big into, uh, anti-aging and longevity, but exercise is the centerpiece and all this stuff is, are spokes around that, in my opinion. I mean, look, sleep is the most important thing you can do. But in terms of what you can actively do, I think that, , exercise hits every pathway of aging.
Stephen: And if you just think about it, if you wanted to change your body, like you wanted to change the way it looks and performs and feels, and the next three months exercise would be your greatest tool in your toolkit, right.
Al: I mean, I, I'll tell you the thing I love the most about exercise is, is it's the thing you have the most control over. There's so many other things in life that you can't control. Like you said, sleep, we have some control over that, but sometimes something wakes you up in the middle of the night.
Al: Sometimes something keeps you up late or forces you to get up earlier and, you know, exercise. We make the time to do it. We have to hold ourselves accountable to do it or have a trainer or, or, or set up some sort of system that's gonna keep us accountable. No one else can do it for you. And that's the beauty of it.
Al: And I think when, when people start to realize that it's, it's an empowering thing and, and it's hard to turn that corner sometimes for people when they have a, a different association with exercise to get them to realize, no, this is, this is something that you can really take ownership of, that's gonna make a huge difference in your life for, for the better.
Stephen: I completely agree. And, and the thing is, is everyone's sleeping every night. You might have one night where you didn't sleep, but people are already sleeping, people aren't already exercising, not everybody. Right. So there is a real opportunity there. Let's talk a little bit about your background, your story.
Stephen: So you seem like you came from, correct me if I'm wrong, a little bit of a traditional, , fitness and training approach. And then all of a sudden you found calisthenics, this, this advanced body weight training and it seemed like it just piqued your curiosity and you just committed to it. And now you have this sort of specialization and, and body weight training.
Stephen: Tell us the story.
Al: it, it's started out really, I mean, the first exercises that I did in the beginning were chin-ups and pushups, so I was doing calisthenics, but. I didn't really think of it as calisthenics. I just thought, I'm a kid and I don't have much equipment and I wanted to start working out. But I, I also started doing, you know, basic weight training around the same time I started taking, you know, in, in high school gym class, started taking weight training, I started doing benches and mostly just upper body stuff at that time cause I wasn't really thinking about legs yet. then obviously later on I got more serious about training star doing squats and deadlifts and, yeah, a lot of what you said, more traditional gym type of body building, three sets of 10, doing a lot of machines. The, the pushups and the chin-ups and the dips and those things always stayed in my routine too.
Al: But they were kind of more like the, the icing on the cake, not really the main course. And then it was, it was really a gradual thing though. It wasn't like one day I just woke up and said, ah, I'm gonna do calisthenics. And one of the first exercises that started to peak my interest in calisthenics was the pistol squat.
Al: And I remember seeing somebody do this when I was in my early twenties. And thinking in my head, that's really cool. And then kind of doing the math and saying, well, I can put a lot of weight on my back and do a two-legged squat so if I take the weight away I should be able to do this. And I was wrong, cuz there's a lot more that goes into a pistol squat than just the strength of squatting the weight on two legs.
Al: And that kind of intrigued me and I, and I wanted to learn it. So I kept practicing that and, and I kinda had to put some of the weights aside to focus on that for a little bit. So that kind of started to, to come in. And then after that I, I got interested in handstands and I started saying, oh, well, you know, let me make this a higher priority than maybe doing dumbbell presses.
Al: And the first time I saw someone do a muscle up, I was like, wow, that's really cool. I've done lots of pull ups and dips. I never saw a muscle up, and this was maybe 2005, 2006 when calisthenics. I know you were doing muscle up way before then, but that was when calisthenics was starting to become a little bit more of a mainstream thing, or maybe that was like right before it became more mainstream and then I wanted to learn that.
Al: So it was just little by little one thing replacing another thing. Until eventually after a couple of years of that it was, alright, this is, this is what I'm all about now, and I, I fully embraced that.
Stephen: There's something special about body weight exercise. That's the world I came from my whole life, right? Being a gymnast and, and I do a lot of weightlifting now. Uh, I think weightlifting is incredible. I think everyone should know how to weightlift
Stephen: but I also think everyone should know how to use their body in the most functional, way. And that incorporates being able to do some, , body weight stuff. And, for me, I've always said, that when you do body weight or calisthenic training, to me it's like you smarten the muscles.
Stephen: You connect and synergize the different muscle groups, whereas like when you're lifting weights, you're saying, okay, I'm doing bench press. I'm pushing. I'm just getting strong in that one direction. Now I'm doing a pull down, I'm doing a squat and it's, it's very boxed in.
Stephen: And even if you have a really good training program, you're still kind of boxing in. But when you do calisthenics, it requires your body to incorporate balance and proprioception and mobility and it activates your core more. And I always find it just smarten that dumb muscle up and it really trains it to be a lot more, I think, useful and functional.
Stephen: Would you agree with that?
Al: I, I do, and I, I, you know, one of the things that I've often said about calisthenics is it makes you better at things where you have to move your body. So things like, like martial arts or obviously gymnastics. If you do calisthenics, that's gonna carry over to that. And doing weights makes you better at things where you have to move an external object.
Al: And, and both are important, like you said, sometimes in life you've gotta move your body. Sometimes in life you've gotta move an external object. And sometimes people have gotten the, the wrong idea about me cuz I promote calisthenics and I don't really talk that much about weights. Or if I do talk about weights, I say what I just said is weights is good for lifting an external object.
Al: And people think that I don't appreciate weight training or that I'm putting it down, but I think it's bad. I don't think it's bad. I think calisthenics is ultimately, if you're only gonna do one or the other, calisthenics is more practical cause you don't need any equipment. And because I think it has more universal carryover, the things we do with our bodies.
Al: But yeah, it's, I lift weight sometimes. I, I think there's value in doing a barbell squat or a barbell dead lift or a kettlebell swing or press with a bar or, or a weighted object. So I, I don't. I don't have anything against that style of training. It's just, it's just not my main thing.
Stephen: I really think with weights there is a high responsibility to progress. In the right manner. Like there's a big debate if a barbell back squat and ed, ed lift is actually bad or good for your back. And you know, my opinion is if you progressively go through the progressions with the right amount of weight and you, you never, you know overdo it, it will strengthen your core,
Stephen: if you start with dumbbells or you start with the, the right progression. But I see these guys in the gym sometimes that you can tell they just started a new program, they don't have a lot of experience and they're putting a barbell on their back and they're doing dead lists and their form is off and you're like, you are going to wreck your back.
Stephen: You know, and with body weight, the margin of error isn't so, um, destructive.
Al: on yourself if you're not lifting a weight. But you, you can get hurt doing calisthenics. I mean, there's, there's plenty of people I see doing calisthenics who, who don't approach progressions in a smart way the same way, like that lifter in the gym is trying to do too much weight.
Al: They don't know their technique. I've seen plenty of people say, Hey, I'm gonna try to do a human flag. And it's like, can you even do five pullups? No. And maybe, maybe get your pullups down before you jack up your shoulder trying to learn a human flag. Not that the human flag isn't a worthwhile pursuit.
Al: It's, but you've gotta get there in a, in a, in an intelligent way. So anything is potentially dangerous. You know, I, I, there's a cliche movement is medicine, right? And I like that sac. And if you think of medicine, the dosage is critical. You have to start someone on a small dose. See how they react to that.
Al: I mean, any doctor who's worth their knows that you don't just give somebody the full dosage on their, their their initial try something. And that's, that's what these do at sometimes weights. SOIs is self in that you're, you're not gonna drop that weight on your chest. Maybe you'll, like I said, you could maybe hurt your shoulder up bits.
Al: Severe injury is obviously higher doing weights.
Stephen: Yeah. Let's talk about some of the, the limitations, of body weight training. One of the first things that comes to mind is training the legs. I think you can effectively, easily develop and strengthen your upper body using body weight only.
Stephen: The legs are slightly challenging. It does force you to kind of use si some single leg stuff. For you, are you supplementing with some weight training in order to keep your legs on par?
Al: I I don't really do any weights currently. You know, I have over the years done weights and occasionally if I find myself at a gym or if I go work out with somebody and that's what they're doing, I might do that too. But it's, it's not really a regular part of my program right now. But, you know, to, to go back to what you said a second ago, I, I, I agree with you that there's, there's no debate about the upper body.
Al: I mean, if you just, just look at gymnasts like, like, like yourself, before you lifted weights, your upper body was jacked. I saw the pictures of you on your website, calisthenics can get your upper body jacked Absolutely legs. my legs, no matter what I do, they don't grow. I have chicken legs. I've spent years in the gym doing, doing weights.
Al: They didn't grow. I could do 25 pistol squats on each leg. They don't grow with that either. They just don't grow, and some have huge legs. And all they do is, you know, body weight. And some people have huge legs and all they do is, is, is weight. So I don't know, there's, there's a little more room for debate with the legs.
Al: But to that, I will say people should do what they like.
Stephen: Yeah. I would say things like hip hinging, which would be the equivalent of a deadlift you can do a lot of hip bridging and things like that. I like to have these soft dumbbells. They're those like sand bells, you can throw 'em on your shoulder and do some single leg, Romanian split squats or some hip hinging, where you're thrusting your hips up into the air.
Stephen: Um, but it's a lot harder to progressively load the legs in a way to, I think get that same effect. However, again, going back to the gymnast, avatar, if you look at a superhero they have. A developed upper body, and they have lean, long muscular leg.
Stephen: They're not like huge and poofy and out of control. Like every time I used to do, trap bar, squats it's kinda like a hybrid between a, a deadlift and a squat, right when you use a trap bar. I would get these like weird looking like turnip legs and I didn't like it.
Stephen: I was like, I don't like the way this builds my leg. It looks like a, it's not a, a pleasing thing. And sometimes vanity comes into play in this, you know what I mean?
Al: I'm a big believer, and this is what I was trying to say a minute ago, that the number one factor that determines the way our muscles look is not the modality that we choose. It is our genetics. So someone who is genetically gonna have turn up legs is gonna get turn up legs. If their legs get big like me, like I'm, I'm gonna be a small person.
Al: I could get fat. If I ate a lot, I'd get a belly, but I'm, I'm never gonna be a huge jack looking bodybuilder guy. And that was true when I was lifting. And it's true when I do calisthenics. And I know plenty of people who, they're just, they're jacked and no matter what kind of way they train, they're big six four wide shoulders, big thighs.
Al: Like that's just how some people are built. And, and that said, yeah, there might be a little bit of influence that the exact specific style of training that you do has on it. But really it's genetics a force. The other big elephant in the room is, is steroids. A lot of people take steroids and claim to be natural, and that that throws off people's expectations.
Stephen: Yeah. I, I don't think it's that hard to spot. I mean, I, I can, I know enough about growth hormone. I've been on growth hormone at various times. Like, when I tore my achilles tendon, I told my doctor, I need the maximum healing capacity. You know, and, and it, there, you know, you can have these telltale signs like the, and growth hormone.
Stephen: The skin is like really, like thickened and youthful. I mean, I can see a lot of times when actors are doing it, I'm like, that looks pretty, enhanced to me.
Al: you know what it looks like, but the layperson doesn't necessarily know to look for those things. The layperson thinks, oh, men's health says that this person did bench press for three sets of tan curls for three sets of tan lap pull downs, and, and that's how the rock got his physique. That's how a 47 year old man has 6% body fat and 250 pounds.
Stephen: Yeah, yeah, you're right.
Al: Doesn't matter what the rock's workout is, the rock is genetic freak who's on tons of gear.
Al: I'm a fan, but I'm just using him as a famous example.
Stephen: of course. And, I think you're better off picking somebody who has a frame very similar to you. I used to always tell this, the gymnast I coach. I'm like, find an athlete who's already way better than you, who's already there, and who resembles your body type. And then just watch their technique. Your technique is gonna be in, in line with them,
Stephen: so if you're more of a, a, a thinner ectomorphic type guy, you should try to, seek out people that are of that nature and find what they do. Because to be honest, somebody who's over 200 pounds, their calisthenics experience is gonna be a lot different than somebody who's one 60.
Stephen: Right. Somebody who's two 50 is gonna have massive limitations on what they can do with their body weight compared to someone like you or I, you know? So sometimes different body types lend themselves to different types of training, although I will say you'll still get some benefit.
Al: I was gonna say a lot of times, cause I've heard this a lot over the years, as I'm sure you have too, people will see me busted out 20 apartments. Be like, oh yeah, that's easy. Cause you're like, and it's always a fat person who says that like a guy. A guy who's who's lean, who's two 20 and six three and lean and jacked.
Al: He's gonna kill it with the calisthenics. It's always the guy who maybe is dead lifting a lot of weight. Who's got that big, who gets on that crank out two then.
Stephen: Yeah. It's a good point. I've always noticed this whenever, cause I, I flip flop, I do a whole weight protocol for three months and I'll go do body weight to smarten the muscle up. Like I said, I'm getting close to that, that phase cuz I just finished a whole three month weight training program.
Stephen: And for me it seems like part of the adaptation to calisthenics is getting lean. It's almost like your body says, in order for me to haul this weight around and to manipulate it in space like you're doing, I cannot have anything extra do. Is that something you've
Al: I've, I've said this for, for years. Yes. The body adapts to the specific demands of the training and that is one of the demands of calisthenics training. Now, that said, if you're eating too much, you're not gonna lose weight, you know, but calisthenics, carbs your body to be pound for pound as efficient as possible, and that's sometimes why, right?
Al: Calisthenics. Practitioners aren't gonna look like bodybuilders. Cause that's not the goal. To be as jacked as possible is to move better. Now there are people who do like calisthenics, bodybuilding, and that's, that's cool too. So they're not, they're not necessarily trying to, to learn to do a front lever or one arm chin up.
Al: They're just getting in volume on, on dips and pushups and chin up and pullups and try to use that to get their physique. But here's the thing, Stephen, like I was saying before, everyone I've ever known who consistently works out hard and doesn't eat garbage all day is in good shape. And that the specifics people love to argue over, like, oh, this is calisthenics, this is wave, this is better.
Al: But like, we all have more in common with each other. So I don't, I don't wanna waste time debating someone who's like, I think weights is better than, like, that's cool bro. Do weights just do something just out and we're all on same team. We're up against Is, is, is the world trying to make people fat and sick?
Stephen: Yeah. And you can say that and know that because you've spent enough time working out to realize that consistency trumps everything. Along with a good diet, and I, I have these, these rules of exercise and one of the rules is never go, five days in a row without working out.
Stephen: Never go four days. Really? So never, you know it, by the time I've always note on the fifth day, you're screwed. You don't wanna work out anymore.
Al: and I bet you rarely even go four. No one you.
Stephen: No, I, I don't, but I, I have had a few times, and, and I've always noticed that by that fifth day, you're like, I don't really wanna work.
Stephen: You were, it's so much easier to say. I'm not gonna do it right now. You know? And if you stay in that pocket where you never miss those days, you just go, even if you don't feel like it, you just go and you do a, a, a lightened workout. It doesn't matter. It's, it's, it's like brushing your teeth, I know I say this so many times, people are like, please stop using that analogy.
Stephen: But you don't have to think about it. You just do it. So if you just accept, hey, you know, working out is going to be the thing that's gonna pr pr like, allow me to live a long functional life where life is easy. I have good energy, I can functionally move and be pain free. I have, I'm strong, I'm lean, I, I, I'm confident , I can take off my shirt and I just feel good about the way I look.
Stephen: Just be consistent and eat well. And then follow your curiosity. If weights makes you curious and you see someone online who you think is a good person that's teaching you fundamentals that make sense and go for it. I'm curious in calisthenics and body weight, then go for it.
Stephen: It's whatever is gonna get you excited about it, right?
Al: As long as you get your heart rate up and you break a sweat and you experience muscle fatigue, you've gotta workout. And there's a lot of ways you can get your body to experience those things.
Al: agree with you on the, on the following your curiosity. Cause that's, that's what's kept me interested in fitness for this whole journey is at the beginning it was weights and then calisthenics became more interesting.
Al: And within those worlds, there's always a new thing to discover or a new move or a new variation on something or a new tool or a new approach. So it's, it's good to just enjoy the journey.
Al: And you know what else I love? You said that you shouldn't go more than four days without working out. And I agree with you.
Al: And I thought you were gonna say, cuz from a physiological standpoint, the muscle starts to break down. You start losing your gains, blah, blah, blah. But you did it totally from a mental standpoint. From a psychological standpoint, you shouldn't go more than four days before working out. But both are important, right?
Al: Because the other thing is true too. If you don't once, once you stop working out, the gains go away very quickly.
Stephen: For me, it all starts in the mind. If I had to lay out my philosophy in the most basic high level hierarchy, it would be mindset is first. That's your approach. That's how you work out. That's why you work out and the constitution that you follow for yourself, your principles.
Stephen: Then it would be mobility freedom of movement, freedom of range of motion, dynamic movement. It's a five msms mindset, mobility muscle. That would be your strength training, choose whatever modality works for you.
Stephen: Then metabolism, that would be some form of tiered cardio. The most passive being sitting in a sauna. The most active being a zone five sprint intervals or some type of full out intervals, then you have walking in there right after sitting in a sauna, and then you have your zone two, which is like where you stimulate the mitochondria the most.
Stephen: That's like you're just under, like working hard. You're just kind of, uh, uh, like you wanna run, but it'd be easier, better to run, but you're staying kind of in a fast weighted vest
Al: threshold. A threshold
Stephen: You know. And then meals, that's the fifth one. Meals. So mindset, mobility, muscle metabolism, meals.
Stephen: That's it. To me, it's like, that's your framework and then you just pick the best things that work for you in that, you know? And that I have a new program coming out soon and that, that's how I've devised it. And it, you know, when I look at it, I'm like, this is pretty much the last program anyone would ever need.
Stephen: If you can just adopt this framework, it doesn't mean that you aren't gonna be doing different things. But over time, having done working out for almost four decades, what else is there? Right? I mean, you know, am I missing
Al: I, I, I mean, I have a hard time sometimes just wrapping my head around, well, you said the mindset is the most important thing, and I agree with you, but like how more people don't watch to exercise or rather they do want to, but how they just can't take that step. Cause everyone knows it's good for them, everyone.
Al: Knows that it's, like I said, it's, it's something that you have to direct control over,
Al: like, why why not do it? Like, it's so, it's so, it's right there in front of you to, to this thing that you can do that it takes a little effort, but it's like, God damn,
Al: are people really that lazy? Is there something else going on?
Al: Am I missing something? I've, I've worked in the fitness industry for my whole adult life and I'm, I'm grateful for it and it's been good to me, but sometimes Stephen, I, I can't help but think, why does this industry even need to exist?
Stephen: Well, I've seen a couple of things that maybe point to it. First of all, it could just be people that don't wanna work out, they haven't gotten over the hump. Getting in shape is, if you're really deconditioned. Getting in shape is, is not fun in the beginning because you're getting your ass handed to you, right?
Stephen: It's difficult when you're in shape. It's so much easier and that's why I always tell people, don't get out of shape. Don't go for consecutive days in a row. The other thing, which I find really interesting and I haven't dove that much into, but I've seen it and I think there could be something here. I. I don't know if you've studied or looked at, I think Charles Quin might have talked about this, but people have different dominant neurotransmitters in their brain.
Stephen: So a neurotransmitter is like a hormone for your brain. Dopamine, we know that's like your drive, your focus, your risk, and like you're always looking for reward type behavior. Those are like your type A type people that are dominant in dopamine. They want to excel top athletes. Then you have acetylcholine.
Stephen: That's more people that like to learn. This is me actually. Um, creativity, they're, they really love learning stuff. Language. Like it's, it's, um, it's a learning one. Then you have your serotonin, which is your happy neurotransmitter. That's like your, I just feel good. Those are the people that are smiling all the time.
Stephen: Right? And then you have your gaba and that's your inhibitory relaxing neurotransmitter. That's like when you drink of two, a couple of beers like that stimulates the GABA receptors. So 50% of people, this is what I've heard, are GABA dominant. Those people don't wanna work out. That's my philosophy is that they just, they're not, they're not do, they are a stark contrast to somebody who's dopamine dominant.
Stephen: If you go to the gym, the people who are in best shape typically look like they are driving from either a dopamine or an acetylcholine dominant behavior. So for someone to, you can't just change your brain chemistry that way. You can manipulate it with supplements and, and compounds and adjuvants. But, but I, I really think that we're gonna find that there's more to that and it kind of helps give a little bit of compassion for someone who just innately is not looking for that sort of, you know, type
Al: Yeah, no, that, that's a very, very interesting explanation for it. And I, I, I did sound a little bit like I was lacking compassion, a moment to go.
Al: And I, of
Al: course, I've worked with, with, with, with many, many clients over the years who were beginners, who had a hard time with it. And I did not come with them, with the kind of vigor that I was expressing a moment to go.
Al: I met them with a much more compassionate, patient mindset, and in many cases, them down that path. And I, I understand that the psychology behind it is very, But people are so illogical with our behavior, and I guess that's the bigger thing that fascinates me, how emotional minds override our logical minds constantly.
Al: And I'm guilty of it too. I make decisions to please myself in the moment that I know aren't necessarily the best decision for myself long term. So I, I, I can get it. And I guess also you and me as people who've worked out for so long, we know how good it's, they don't, they haven't experienced it. It's, you can't explain something to someone who's never felt it for themselves,
Stephen: Yeah. And the process takes a little bit of time and, and patience. It's like I always tell people when they come up against that roadblock where it's, uh, you can tell they're, they're not believing. And I'm like, if I told you to watch your fingernails for 10 minutes, 30 minutes.
Stephen: Did you see them grow? No. Look in two weeks. Don't clip your three weeks. Don't clip your fingernails. Did they grow? I'll ask you and you'll be like, yeah, they did. That is working out. You cannot perceive the difference in the, your sort of ram of logic, but over time the results start to appear and then you're like, oh shit.
Stephen: This thing is, this is really working. This being consistent is really having an effect. And then at that point, if you can get over the hump, like I said, and you can start providing the fact that, hey, I, I, this is feels great. Even if you took a blood test, let's say, and maybe your biomarkers improved, you start having some proof and a feeling that, wow, this thing really does do some positive things.
Stephen: But when you're sitting on the sidelines, You ain't gonna see anything for, a month. You better commit to at least a month before you're gonna start to feel like your hormones turn on. And as soon as your testosterone raises, this is why I like weights. If you can put someone on a progressively loaded program and you get them doing compounded lips the first month, the first month is about turning on your hormones.
Stephen: We get your growth hormone up, we get your testosterone up, all of a sudden you feel better, you start getting stronger. It lays the foundation for you to put muscle on and get stronger. Plus your mood , it just completely changes. So there, there's so much more to exercise than just, I work out cuz I like it or I work out cuz I want muscles.
Stephen: When you feel great because you have optimal hormones, because you work out. Your perception of the world has changed. You feel better, you think different thoughts. You take more chances on things. You step out into the spotlight and opportunities when someone says, Hey, I need a volunteer. Yeah, I'm ready.
Stephen: Because you just, you lean in on life when you work out. You know what I
Al: Well I do because you know what I was saying earlier about working out, being one of those things that you have control over in a life where there's a lot of things out of our control. Once you start to see that and you start saying, oh, these actions that I'm taking are leading to the outcome that's making me feel better and look better, then you start trying to extend that into other avenues of your life.
Al: Then you're like, shit, maybe I should ask for that raise. Maybe I could get it. I didn't think I could do those 10 pullups, but I trained and I did that. Maybe I should leave this relationship. That fucking sucks. Maybe I could find someone better. Maybe I'm not stuck with this person forever. And that is when it, when you have a client who gets to that level where it goes beyond just the physical changes, they become a different person.
Al: That's beautiful to see as a coach, and that's beautiful in my own life. To have experienced, I feel like, and, and you too. We've, we've made the lives that we want for ourselves, and that's not say that we haven't been fortunate. We've very lucky both.
Al: You've also worked hard and taken specific actions to get the path that we want to unfold.
Stephen: yeah, yeah. No, it's, it's, it's just more to the power of embracing exercise and just turning off that thing that, oh, I don't feel like, just turn it off. Just, just do it. Anyways, do it anyways. You know? But I, I think we've locked down. I think who, anyone who's listening to this is probably like, okay, I got some good kernels of knowledge that I'm gonna apply.
Stephen: Let's talk a little bit more about application. What are the, the overall attributes of a well-rounded program in terms of if someone is saying, what, I wanna get started on this. What, what would a program look like? What are you asking of
Al: On, on the most basic level. There's base, there's there's three movement patterns that I would say are very important to train. The first one is, is squatting. And whether you wanna do it with weights or you wanna just do body weight squats and eventually work to a one-legged pistol squat, some kind of squat, some kind of squat where the resistance is challenging for you, some kind of thing where you're pushing, whether that's doing pushups or doing a bench press, or doing a handstand, or doing overhead press.
Al: You've gotta push against resistance and you've gotta pull against resistance. And obviously once you get going, there's a million other things you can explore and you follow your curiosity. But for someone who's doing nothing, who wants a super duper simple, basic sprint training program with no barrier to entry, do squats, do pushups and find something you can hang from and do some chin-ups.
Al: And if you can't do a chin up yet, just hang for time and build up your grip and build up your shoulders that way
Al: and build the habit.
Stephen: Yeah. Yeah. You nailed it. It's oil is about finding the first order of something. What is the most simplest starting point. Because a lot of times you on Instagram, on all these social media, people are being so fancy, fool, look at this new way of this and look at this and look at that.
Stephen: And at the end of the day, it's like, get rid of all the fluff. What is at the kernel of what we're trying to achieve? And it, and it basically a squat, a push, and a pool. You can get yourself a Chinup bar or one of those door pull up bars, right? You can do pushups on the ground.
Stephen: You can do pullups on the bar, and then you can do, put, hike your back leg up on something, about a foot and a half off the ground and do some single legged, um, Bulgarian sp split squats or do some pistol squats, or just regular squats, right? Maybe grab a little something , that's heavy and hold onto it and do some squats.
Stephen: I, I love goblet squats. If you have a dumbbell like that is a, it activates your chorus is a really good, excellent movement pattern to be able to move into more advanced squatting. I made this video on YouTube, years ago. I just grabbed my GoPro and I just made it, it quality was terrible, but the information was really good.
Stephen: I was like, if you want an entire home gym, you need four pieces of equipment. So if you're a little bit more leaning towards the weight lifting type thing, you get a bench, you get a set of ADU adjustable dumbbells, you get a pull-up bar, and then you get a belt that has a hanging loop, you get one for 35 bucks on Amazon.
Stephen: So now, you can do push pull in both planes, push, pull and squatting, and you can weight and progressively load them. So you can do pull-ups and you can hang the adjustable dumbbell like five pounds, then seven 50, then 10 pounds in the loop so that you're weighting your, your pullups. During the pandemic I had all this stuff and I was like, I looked like a genius when it happened, you know?
Stephen: Cause you couldn't buy any equipment during the pandemic, you know? And uh, but there's days when I, I don't have time to go to the gym and I'm like, I have everything I need to get an effective workout in this tiny little space. And I, it's why you don't have to overthink it. Just get a Chinup bar and, and have a little, even if you go to the gym, don't miss those four days.
Stephen: Right. Have something, even if your day is super busy, where you can do a micro workout at home.
Al: Yeah, a short workout. A short workout is infinitely better than no workout at all. And that's, that's a big part of, like I said, why I like calisthenics so much is cuz it's easy to just do a quick workout from home. You don't have to drive to the gym, you don't have to make a big deal out it, you don't even need all the equipment you mentioned, which is already minimal.
Al: All I have is a pull, a pair of rings.
Stephen: That's awesome. Yeah. That's great. So what about, where does mobility for you fit into this? Because you've written a book on mobility and I liked it. I looked through it and I was like, I agree with what you're saying and I, I like the way you sequence things
Stephen: a lot of people have a lot of misconceptions about flexibility and what is active, what is passive, what is dynamic, what is ballistic, what is mobility even, you know, and to me, I just think a simple mobility routine and a simple dynamic stretching routine, and then a way, if you wanna kind of combine those and couple them, you know, uh, I don't think a lot of people need to spend a lot of time doing a ton of passive, range of motion extension.
Stephen: I think they need freedom of movement. I think they need full access through the range of motion, and I think they need to move and improve their circulation, you know, and improve the extensibility and, and not let these muscles get glycated with sugar. That just makes it rot.
Al: Yeah, I mean, my ebook mobility, man, all the routines you saw, they're, they're quick. The idea is they're 10 minute routines that you can do in addition to a workout, either, you know, as a warmup or a cool down, or both, or just on a day that you're not doing a full workout, just to kind of grease the hinges, so to speak.
Al: And, and like you said, keep your body from, from decaying. So mobility, I, I, I would stick with what I said earlier, that if you're someone who doesn't exercise at all, Start by doing some strength training. Start by doing some squats, doing some pushups, getting your grip strengths strong enough that you could hang building to a chin up.
Al: But once you establish a foundation of strength on the basics, mobility becomes really important too, especially as people get older. And my, most of the, the people that I'm trying to, to reach are, are guys are our age, who mobility becomes a more important concern for us. And like I said, time is somewhat limited, so I try to come up with the most efficient and, and full body types of routines that I can so people can do them quickly in the morning while the kids are still asleep or at night before bed and not have to make a big thing out of it.
Al: But yeah, mobility, mobility definitely matters, but I, I, you, you know, it's funny you said when you did your five things, you said mind and you said mobility was second. It's hard to say if you put strength and mobility first, because it just depends on the person. Some people need mobility work a lot more.
Al: Other people, I would, I would say, need to work on the strength more, but ultimately a well should have some component to.
Stephen: Yeah, I think it, it matters more if you're going to be loading your body with weight, and you're on an unstable surface that is not moving correctly, you're going to eventually get injured if you don't have your stability locked in. Really when I look at a proper mobility in that Im, that mobility category would be mobility, and, dynamic stretching and warmup, but it would also include posture correction.
Stephen: A lot of people have altered movement patterns. They are tight on one side of the joint, the muscles are, and the opposite side is too loose. And so they're not force coupling the muscles so that when you do a squat, they're not recruiting all of the muscles engaged. The glutes and the quads and the, the hamstrings, they're not, they're not synergizing in the right movement.
Stephen: And so some of the muscles are taken the brunt of the load and that typically just will just lead to people getting injured. So I always say, if you are gonna build a house, can't build a house on an unstable surface. You see people trying to do squats sometimes and they have really poor mobility and you know, my opinion is like, you'd be better off, doing your mobility work and then you're squat what, automatically improve.
Stephen: Right? Because you'd be doing it fundamentally. Correct.
Al: Yeah. I mean ultimately the, the two things are, are related. They're, they're interwoven strength and mobility. Like you, you, in order to, to do to, to properly back squat a lot of weight, you have to have both. In order to do a pistol squat, you have to have both. I mean, even just what I said, getting someone to hang through a bar.
Al: Some people are too tight to even do that.
Al: was saying that's a strength thing, but it's also mobility thing. So it's, we, you mentioned earlier, we have a tendency to sort of over compartmentalize. This is a chest exercise, this is a, this exercise and like. Part of what you liked about calisthenics is, is the holistic nature of it.
Al: And calisthenics incorporates the strength and the mobility together in a very seamless way. You know, like a handstands a great example. You can't do a handstand if you don't have boths and if you're, I've met lots of really strong guys who were tight and they, there was no way they were gonna get into a handstand,
Stephen: Yeah. I think the biggest thing I see if you go, when I go to any gym or I see like a strong guy trying to do calisthenics, the biggest thing I see
Al: a tight, strong guy.
Stephen: Yeah. Yeah. A tight, strong guy. Yeah. Yeah. Not, not someone like, like you or anything, but you see, um, a lack of mobility. In terms of they don't have good range of motion, so they have all these weird angles in a handstand, for me, body weight and gymnastics is like taking your entire body and making it one muscle and even point, pointing your toes.
Stephen: When I point my toes, what's engaged? My calf muscles, right? So the entire body, the core, everything all becomes like a synergized, one single muscle. And it has an, there's an aesthetic almost in a way to doing this stuff technically. Right. And it's funny, I see some of these like big guys doing L sits or they're, they do.
Stephen: Certain things and they look kind of clunky and their knees are bent, like they have a hard time straightening their elbows. It's one of the things I'm always like, God, these guys are not rolling out, they're not working on their flexibility at all or stretching. They're just going to the gym and going right into sets.
Stephen: And I think the body weight work kind of has that built in responsibility that, or, or opportunity that it provides you some of that inherent mobility, you know what I
Al: Yeah, no, I mean, I, I, all of the, the fundamental calisthenic skills have some degree of strength and mobility to them, right? We talked about the handstand, A bath bridge is a great example of something that strong guys are really tight and find impossible, you know, any kind of, um, uh, squat, right? You mentioned guys can't squat because they're too tight.
Al: All, all of these fundamental movement patterns encompass both of these things. So it's, it's, it is funny when you see someone who spent so much time focusing on just the strength component in a very limited capacity and then they're trying to do something else, but it's good that they're at least trying to do something else.
Al: Cause that's getting them outta that, that comfort zone just by trying to do that l sit, they're stretching their hamstrings. That's probably the best stretch of their hamstrings have gotten in a while trying to do that else.
Stephen: Yeah. A lot of weight training, purist would say when I do, an R D L or something like that, I'm, I'm actually stretching my hamstrings. So, and flexibility is inherently programmed within, you know,
Stephen: which is true.
Stephen: to some. Yeah, it's true. But there's a, a.
Stephen: Doesn't mean that it's applicable, that you can sit in a pike, sit with your legs straight and reach down and touch your toes and bring your forehead to your knees. It's why I do like to meander through and not get stuck into one way of training because every new training offers, , new opportunities.
Al: And, you know, all of this stuff, it's such a big spectrum. You know, we were talking before about the beginner who, who doesn't work out at all and trying to flip that switch in their mind to get them to start and them doing a very simplified program. And now we're talking about doing l sits and piping your face into your knees and it's like, there's a big, a big chasm there.
Al: And, and as, as, as someone who's in the space of, of, of being a fitness personality and, and making programs and products and training people, that's such a challenges to content. That's appropriate for, for people? Or do I just pick, do I just say, I'm gonna only go after beginners, or I'm gonna only go after advanced people?
Al: And there's, there's no one to that, but it's just fascinating just to, to step back. There's.
Stephen: Yeah. There really is. And I think you, do a good job of, always bringing it back to the middle-aged person who maybe doesn't have a lot of time, like, what are the constraints? Maybe he has tight shoulders or maybe he's, he hasn't worked out in a while, and I think that I can tell you've worked with.
Stephen: A lot of, people that, aren't at the advanced level yet. And for anyone that's listening to this, and you are maybe one of these people, Al might be your guy, if, so, if someone listened to this and they said, I like what this guy's saying.
Stephen: I, I like his approach and I'm not really in shape and I'm maybe middle-aged or 35 and up. What would be one of your books or programs that you would recommend first?
Al: I've got a program called Old Man Strength, and the name is kind of a joke. People are like, what? You think you're old? You're only in your forties. It's like, you know, it's an expression, old man strength. So I have to just. As a caveat say that it's a cashy title though, but the program is designed exactly for guys in their forties who are either new to strength training or getting back to strength training after a layoff.
Al: And it's Allis, so it's all stuff you could do from equipment you need bar. If you don't, you get program and do 70% of it anyway. So I would say start with that. And I do have a mobility program that you mentioned also, which I think is a good compliment. If someone already has a little bit of strength under their belt and they wanna uh, go a little farther, they can get that program also.
Al: And then I do take clients same as you for, for one-on-one coaching. And that's obviously something I would only recommend someone contact me about if they got the program first and they're kind of getting the ball rolling with that. Or if they need the accountability, cuz you know, that's a big part of what we provide.
Al: Sometimes people buy programs and they still don't work out,
Al: so they need, they need somebody to say, hey, or in my case, hey, hey, hey, gotta actually do this thing.
Stephen: Yeah, I saw some statistic that only 10% of people usually, finish courses now. Like it's, appalling. I really think it comes down to the leader, like, who is the guy behind the program? Does he inspire you? Does he champion? Do you wanna be like him in
Al: Well, that's part of it. But, but, but also a, a program that's, that's not interacting with you. Like it can only guide you so far when you give up. Like that's why people need coaches. Cause I'm gonna text them and say, Hey, it's been three days. What's going on? Where's the program? It, it can't do that. It's passive.
Stephen: Yeah. Yeah. What about are you, and that's great. I like, I've looked at both of those books and so I do. If you're getting started, I think those would be awesome options for somebody. What about, are there any tools or gadgets or gear or anything that, that you use to level up any of your stuff.
Al: Just the Pullup bar and the rings. I really, I really kept it simple, you know, in my, in my training, in my career, I've tried so many different things and kind of come full circle and ultimately realized all that stuff doesn't matter. It's just the connection you have with your body and, and those tools, like, like I said, the, you gotta have something to hang from, to do.
Al: A pullup doesn't have to be a bar of rings. If you've got a lip on the side of your house, or like a rafter, you can grab a piece of wood, whatever the hell you have, if you can hang into chin-ups, have at it. But I, I'm all about getting rid of equipment, not, not adding more.
Stephen: Yeah. That's great. So you've never done any sort of blood flow restriction training at all.
Al: I think I tried that once when I was younger. It, it, it, it's, it's not something that, that I felt worth. It didn't. It didn't inspire my curiosity, I guess, to use
Al: your words.
Stephen: inspire. Yeah. I think it is an incredible way to get more out of a body weight workout. Not so much if you're doing skills based, like if you're doing front levers and plans and handstands and all that, but if you're doing just raw body weight strength, especially for the legs, it basically tricks your body into thinking you're lifting more weight than you are. And when I, again, I, I've talked about tearing Mike Achilles tenon working on this Nike commercial in 2017. It was terrible. That's not a fun injury for that age.
Stephen: And I did a ton of blood flow restriction and my legs when I got done doing that, my legs were unbelievable. They were the most fit and functional. I looked like a track runner. I have two versions of B FFR here, so I just did one outside at, at the pool the other day with a little bit of bands and some body weight. I just put on the blood flow restriction. I won't do it for everything, but I think if you gave it, if you ever come out to Vegas. And we do a workout, I'm gonna put them on you and we'll see what you think, because sometimes something like that.
Stephen: I always say if you're older and you're really afraid of bearing weight on your body, so like I, if you're 60 and older, I always say these are a great route. If you're coming back from an injury or you're in a hotel room and on a trip and you're like, I don't have time to go to gym, I'm just gonna throw in these bfr and I'm gonna do some squats and some single leg squats, you are not gonna lose your muscle.
Stephen: No way. If anything, you're gonna, you're gonna build a muscle. It's really awesome. Anyways.
Al: So why do you think it isn't more popular if it's, if it's that effective?
Stephen: I think it's niche. It costs money. Any reputable system is gonna cost a few hundred dollars. I know the guy, the CEO of, of Kaatsu, which Kasu was created by this guy Kaatsu in Japan, and he's like, se he's gotta be 80 now. And he looks amazing. Amazing.
Stephen: And he is the pioneer of this. They've used it a lot. They have a lot of case studies. I follow them. And I just think it's one of those things that it is starting to gain in popularity, but it's kind of a little bit more in the biohacking community. You know, I know it's in traditional fitness as well, but
Al: I've heard of a lot of people over the years using it. It's just always seemed kind of to be a fringe thing and uh, yeah, just never. Never seemed like something that I needed to pursue, but I'm, I'm not, I'm not closed minded on it,
Al: yeah, I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm surprised that's not where I expected you to be going with this.
Stephen: Yeah. Well, I mean, to, to me, i, I, I am a little bit, mindful, at least in a way of somebody who, wants to do a simplified workout, but maybe wants to try to get a larger return on their investment of time and energy. And you get a massive growth hormone release from this. When you're, when your limbs, what happens is you're occluding the Venus, you get the arterial blood flow coming into the leg.
Stephen: Let's say if you do wear them on your legs,
Al: But it does, it doesn't go back is what it is. It gets, it gets
Stephen: You're occluding. Yeah. You're, yeah. A percentage of it. And you wanna use one that actually is, is calibrated to like your blood pressure for the day. And so, What it will do is it traps the lactate in your leg. And so your body, physiologically, you're doing these high reps on there and it's getting, producing a ton of lactate and it can't clear it.
Al: Is it? Is it uncomfortable?
Stephen: It's very
Al: Well, that's probably a big part of why it hasn't caught on more,
Stephen: yeah. Yeah. But when
Al: if it is effective.
Stephen: Yeah, but when you unstrap that leg, the lactate goes and it hits the hypothalamus, and it upregulates your growth hormones. So you get, you, you get this physiological boost. It's pretty, it's a pretty interesting thing.
Al: makes sense. I mean, I, I, I like sauna and I like cold plunging, and the science behind that is kind of similar, right? The vasoconstriction and then the blood flow improves when you're, when you're taking it away. So I, I, I, I'm, I'm open to, to doing it. It's just, yeah, not really something that's, that's been a part of my world
Stephen: Yeah, we'll get you on 'em sometime. I think it would just be interesting to have your take on it, especially somebody who is well-versed and qualified in the, the body weight space. What about, do you ever use anything like clubs I imagine you swinging clubs.
Al: I've tried that. I mean, I've been in the fitness industry for so long that I've, I've tried almost every type of workout or modality at least a couple times. Just, just being in different gyms over the years and being around different trainers and, oh, what's that? Lemme try that. Oh, this thing, you go around behind your back, kinda cool.
Al: See how all that stuff has its place. But, you know, I guess, I don't know if this is gonna sound like, like an, an egotistical thing or maybe the opposite of that, but I'm, I'm really happy with the results that I get just doing calisthenics. I don't feel a need to really seek out anything much beyond that.
Al: Right now,
Stephen: yeah. No, I agree. You look. How old are you now?
Al: I'm 43 and even within the world of calisthenics, there's, there's so much I wanna keep doing. You know, there's only, only so much you can train in a week. So if I'm doing Indian clubs and I'm doing all this other stuff, it's like, well, when am I gonna, my handstand practice?
Stephen: No, I respect that. You pay for what you wanna be good at by not being able to do things other things. And I think, you know, 42, I think you're, you know, like you are in great shape. By the time people are in their forties, you know I always, there's a couple people saying this, I forget who I yanked it from, but you need to try to build your body by the time you're 35.
Stephen: Cuz once 35 hits, things start going downhill, right? The landscape starts changing. And so, you know, I, I think that, if you can solidify your body and your habits, Before you get too much into your upper forties, you can be on your way to, I think you know it. I think every year it gets increasingly more difficult.
Al: It's, it's definitely easier when you're younger, but I, I've met plenty of people, as I'm sure you have too, who didn't start training seriously until their forties or fifties or even sixties who've still got in pretty darn good shape. It's not, It's not, too late. I don't want someone listening to think, ah, well I'm already 37.
Al: It's too late for me. It's definitely not, you're still a young man. Don't be fooled by the name old man strength. If you're in your forties, it's not too late. It's not optimal. Yeah. Would it been better if you did it when you were 18? Sure. You had more testosterone than Absolutely. But you did.
Al: So you could start.
Al: Now you're, Hey. This is what I always tell people when they tell me I'm I too old to start. I say, you're the youngest you're ever going to be.
Stephen: I love that. That is fantastic. I might have to use that.
Stephen: I love your approach because you are, it's a no nonsense. It's a very, grounded, approach and philosophy. It's simple in nature. I'm sure some of the stuff you do might seem complicated to some people just because, but you've boiled it down to like the essentials and, really there's no fluff.
Stephen: I find myself because I kind of consider, uh, myself to be, I, I get really far down the rabbit hole in a lot of areas of my life. It's my nature that acetylcholine dominant, you know, I, I have every fitness gadget known I have and, and I use them, and it's nice to hear, it's refreshing to hear someone just say, Just keep it simple.
Stephen: Just get a bar, and just do a simple mobility routine, you know, like in your mobility book, do your three major patterns and maybe some extra satellite stuff. I'm sure that's in there. And, and don't make a fuss about it. And then there's no excuses that way, right.
Stephen: Because it's like, you don't need li eliminate all the need. So it's really admirable. I respect your approach a lot and I think it's worthy of people, paying attention to you as I'm sure they've had.
Al: Well, thank you. That's, that's really nice to hear. And I, I respect you a lot too, so that, that means a lot coming from you and, you know, the, the people who my message resonates with it resonates with and they're like, wow, nobody's really ever said it this way before. And there's plenty other people who my message doesn't resonate with.
Al: And that's great. Cause there's a million other influencers, they can listen to those people instead.
Stephen: Yeah. I do wanna ask you, because I saw a little bit when I was reading about you on your website, you have some interesting sayings with your tattoos. If you could maybe, uh, and some philosophies around them that were like, really cool. Maybe if you give us like a few of the, the,
Al: so I've mo most of my tattoos are not words, but I've got a few that are, the one on my neck says nothing lasts forever. And that is, What I was saying before, you know, you're, you're, you're the youngest you're ever gonna be. So if you wanna do something, do it now. Take action and do the thing. But also it works the other way too.
Al: Appreciate all the stuff you have because there's, everyone has things they take for granted. You know, we all have things that we watch that we don't have yet, but we also have things that we've achieved that we used to really want and we have now. And we forget that there was a time when we really wanted that thing and now we haven't.
Al: So that's what that one's a reminder of. And then I have the ones on my wrists, they say, believe and achieve. And that's just, you know, you set your mind to something and you don't take no for an answer. Eventually, it'll hopefully happen.
Stephen: Yeah. That's awesome. Do you do a lot of yoga or do you do a lot of meditation?
Al: I've done quite a few of both of those things over the years. Yeah,
Stephen: Yeah. Cuz you, you come across as somebody who's centered and philosophically aligned in your principles. And I find you, really approachable and like, knowledgeable, but like a, I don't know. I keep throwing these compliments at you, but I, I, I'm
Al: I know. I love it. Keep 'em coming.
Stephen: Yeah, keep 'em going.
Stephen: Right. But I, I, I have to say, especially in the fitness world where a lot of it can be dominated by how somebody looks or how big they are, or a lot of flashy stuff, you know, you are a very grounded, salt of the earth type person in it. For you being the first person on my podcast that we really got to like, kind of dive into some of this, I think it was fantastic because, whoever's listening to this, you don't have to complicate it.
Stephen: Reach out to Al or get his books and start small. Make it an easy win. You know, hit home runs, where you're just doing something that you can do that's super simple and just progressively build on that. And before you know it, few months, a year, two years later, you're gonna be an entirely different human being.
Al: Yeah, yeah. You know about the tattoos, the Believe and Achieve. I got these a long time ago. If I were to do it again, I would just get the believe. I wouldn't even get the Achieve because the achieve is less important. The believe is what really matters.
Stephen: Yeah. Yeah. It's funny cause when we're young we're, we're all about like knocking down these big goals in life and achieving, you know, like for me, I was, had to be an Olympian when I was 10 years old and I spent, you know,
Al: And you did it. You believed and you achieved and that's, that's cool. That's exactly what I'm talking about.
Stephen: Yeah. And then, but as I've gotten older, it's,, I think that it's really, about sort of living in the process. Like you know what happened when I made an Olympic team, the day I made it, when I finally made it, I went back to the hotel room, I looked at myself in the mirror and I broke down and cried.
Stephen: And, and it was almost because it was like, Well, now what? Now? Now what? I spent my whole life, everything I knew
Al: Well, now
Al: will, you know the next step is you get a medal and you did that too, right?
Stephen: Well, I mean, inevitably something will always come into the, the next thing that you're trying to do, but it's really about the process and it's even with this fitness, I think if I wanted to close this thing up, you know, it's not about having eight pack abs year round. You can have that if you want it, I, I love having it because it's a dashboard.
Stephen: If I lose my, my, my core, I can't see if I'm in line or not anymore. I won't know the difference between an extra one or 2% of body fat once I can't see the muscle. But the point I'm trying to make is that, It's about embracing the process and finding a way to weave it into your life and enjoy the process enough and appreciate the struggle of the process where the results automatically happen.
Stephen: It's just a matter of time, right? If, if you act in order to, like when we were talking about talking about the Olympics, we'll bring it up again. But in order for me to be an Olympian, I had to act like an Olympian. That's what I realized after I missed it the first time. I'm like, oh, you were waiting to be an Olympian before you actually believed it.
Stephen: You have to say, no, I am one. I live like one, and that's who I am. And then all of a sudden the the goal that it just happens for you because you've been living it. And it's the same thing with exercise. It's like, just, you know, I wanna be a person with more energy. I wanna live in a strong body. I wanna be healthy, I wanna be physically fit.
Stephen: I wanna have, you know, that, that, that confidence about myself. Okay, well if you have that, just focus on the process. What do you do today? What do you, what you know, what do you do the next day? What do you do the next day? Don't fret over it over every single day. It's not working. It's not working. Just, you know, call yourself what you wanna be and live moment by moment as though you are that, and I think that's what the believe to me, really signifies.
Stephen: So I love your philosophy. I think this has been a, a very fruitful, podcast. I mean, is there anything we missed? I think we, we covered
Al: I, I think we were extremely thorough.
Stephen: Yeah. Yeah. I think it was good. If someone wants to find you, how can they find you?
Al: You know, when I was a kid, I didn't like that I had such an unusual last name. My last name, Kavala. It's spelled K A V A D L O. There were no other kids with that name. But now I love that I have such an unusual name because if you Google, those seven letters are very easy to find. So that's all you have to do is even if you just get K A V A D, if you've got Al Google, or if you're not using Google, the search engine will probably know who you're looking for.
Stephen: Yeah. Fantastic. Yeah. I give, your stuff, my highest recommendation, especially if you're somebody who's. Getting that middle aged and you're looking for a guy. I, I think Al is a, as a, a, a, I don't think he can go, they can go wrong with you, man. I really appreciate you coming on, and I appreciate you reaching out to me and asking to be on the podcast and as a listener and I really, respect that and, um, I'm, I'm glad to meet you and I look forward to keeping in contact with you and
Stephen: one of these, yeah, one of these days we'll have to find a way to be at the same place.
Stephen: If you ever come to Vegas, wherever, like, and do a, do a workout, we'll, we'll uh, sharpen up your handstand.
Al: I would love that.
Stephen: All right, check out Al Kavadlo, everybody, and, , thank you so much for tuning into the Stephen McCain podcast. Really appreciate you listening and we will catch you on the next one. Stay healthy, everyone.
In this episode of Stephen McCain podcast, I interview fitness expert Al Kavadlo, who specializes in helping middle-aged men get into shape.
We discuss the importance of exercise for longevity, how to make exercise a part of your routine, and Al's own journey from traditional weight training to the more advanced bodyweight training of calisthenics.
By the end of the episode, you will learn that exercise is an empowering activity that can have a significant impact on our lives. It is something we can control, and it can help us to make positive changes in our physical and mental health. Whether we are young or old, exercise can be a great way to boost your mood and to stay healthy.
Al started working out in 1992 when he was just 13 years old. A decade later he began his career in the fitness industry.
In 2009, he started his blog and YouTube channel. He wound up getting a book deal with Dragon Door Publications soon thereafter.
Al's first book for Dragon Door, entitled Raising The Bar, was released in 2012. He went on to publish several titles with them, including Get Strong, a collaboration with his brother Danny. He is also known for my appearance in Dragon Door’s popular Convict Conditioning book series.
Additionally, he has self-published two titles, and most recently, been published by StrongAndFit.com.
Altogether Al's books and programs have sold over a million copies worldwide.
[00:01:43] Staying in shape as middle-aged.
[00:05:10] Calisthenics and Bodyweight Training.
[00:07:23] Benefits of calisthenics.
[00:10:31] Limitations of body weight training.
[00:13:56] Genetics and Muscle Appearance.
[00:17:48] Calisthenics and Lean Muscles.
[00:22:08] Fitness philosophy hierarchy.
[00:25:12] Neurotransmitters and exercise.
[00:28:12] The process of working out.
[00:32:16] Attributes of a well-rounded program.
[00:35:19] Home workouts during pandemic.
[00:38:36] Strength and Mobility Training.
[00:42:25] Mobility and Strength in Calisthenics.
[00:45:25] Bodyweight strength training.
[00:49:08] Blood flow restriction training.
[00:53:36] Training in your forties.
[00:55:00] Simplifying Fitness.
[00:58:51] Embrace the process of fitness.
[01:02:02] Believe in yourself.
Al's Calisthenics Story
Thanks For Listening!
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