Friday, December 16, 2011

New Release from Rmax: TACFIT Barbarian

The much awaited TACFIT Clubbell is here, plus a whole lot of other programs. Click on the pic for more info.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What is TACFIT?

I have been asked what is TACFIT more often recently. The short answer is TACFIT is a fitness system designed specifically for tactical operators (military, police, firefighter etc.) It is about metabolic conditioning and mental conditioning.

This is the long answer to the question. Interview courtesy of John Sifferman, CST Coach.

More info on the TACFIT website.

To get started on the TACFIT system do check out any of the programs in the TACFIT family on my Products page. I would recommend TACFIT 26 to start with.

TACFIT Featured in FHM Magazine

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Some Stuff to Sell/Give Away

Some fitness stuff to sell/give away, like this:
Click on the pic to see all products.

Many more available. First come first serve. Contact Herman at 96406544 if interested.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tabata This

Tribute to Dr Izumi Tabata on his birthday for creating the most wicked metabolic conditioning protocol in modern times.

Tabata this (with 1 kettlebell):

1. Goblet Squat

2. Pull Over

3. 2H Swing

4. Goblet Push Press

Let me know your scores.

Friday, August 5, 2011

What do you think of kettlebells?

Updated 2 May 2013

Since the kettlebell boom in English speaking America in recent times in early 2000s, many other English speaking first world countries have also been partaking in the "kettlebell revolution".

A lot of the marketing materials give the impression that and say things along these lines:

-Kettlebells are better than cardio.

-Kettlebells are better than conventional weight training / lifting.

-Kettlebells are better than conventional weights.


There can be other claims but to keep things simple, let's just use these broad categories of statements as examples.

Now, let me burst your bubble. These statements are not fair comparisons. They are comparing apples and oranges. In some sense they can be true, but as in all things, there is no hard and fast rule, aka "it depends". Allow me to explore in greater detail the claims made by these statements and their implications.

But before i go further, you need to have a background knowledge of: the Time is more important than the Technique, the Technique is more important than the Tool.

Kettlebells are better than cardio

This is an illogical statement. Kettlebell is a Tool, cardio is a Time / Protocol. Can you say "dumbbells are better than cardio" or "barbells are better than cardio"? It doesn't make sense.

Yes i know that it refers to "kettlebell training" rather than the equipment itself. But still "kettlebell training" is a very vague statement. Just like the barbell can be used for Bodybuilding, Powerlifting, Weightlifting and many other purposes, the kettlebell can be used for these same purposes.

"Kettlebell training" makes as much sense as "barbell training" or "dumbbell training". It does not give you the slightest hint of the fitness goal(s) being trained for nor the Time / Protocol of the training. The same Tools can be used for fat loss, muscle gain, strength & conditioning and many other purposes. Any of them can be used for 5x5, 3x10, 3x5, 10x3 etc. If you like, kettlebells can also be used for cardio or other nonsensical training Protocols, like "toning", "shaping", "slimming", etc.

More on cardio

The majority of people's idea of "cardio" is "long slow distance (LSD) cardio", aka "steady state cardio".

While there is nothing wrong with LSD if it fits your fitness goals (e.g. to run a marathon), if you are looking for efficient fat loss, it is not that efficient. There are much better suited training Protocols for fat loss, like High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

The problem is not that LSD is not good. The problem is that people do not know what Protocols to use for their fitness goals. Blame it on improper programming, not the Protocol. The body only knows how to adapt to the demands imposed upon it by you (SAID). You choose the Protocol based on your fitness goals.

Kettlebells are better than conventional weight lifting

Again, same point like the one above, an illogical statement. Kettlebell is a Tool, weight lifting (whether conventional or not is not the matter) is a Technique.

I do agree that the "classic techniques" of kettlebell lifting (eg. swing, clean, snatch) differ from barbell or dumbbell based systems, but beside these, both kettlebells and dumbbells / barbells can be used for the same exercises (eg. turkish get up, any variations of presses and other pushes, rows etc.).

In other words, you can use dumbbells for "kettlebell lifts" or kettlebells for "conventional weight training". You can even use kettlebells for curls if you like.

Granted the Technique varies to a degree when using different Tools. But if you are not a professional athlete who needs to perform with that specific Tool, then it really does not matter so much as doing the Exercises specific to your needs.

More on conventional weight training

What the majority of people know as "conventional weight training" is isolation exercises, possibly an overemphasis of the bench press and using machines, which are "non-functional".

Most people cringe when told about the real lifts: squats hurt your knees, deadlifts hurt your back, overhead lifting hurt your shoulders. But these lifts the real thing about "conventional weight training". Of course there are many more good exercises in "conventional weight training" and they are not to be shunned. It is because of some "rehab gurus" or some misinformed "fitness experts" that these ideas get into the mainstream and giving real weight training a bad rep.

Couple that with improper Protocols and other programming variables and the public will be tricked into believing that "conventional weight training" does not give them the results they want.

Blame it on misinformation, not on "conventional weight training". This is NOT real "conventional weight training", this is a misrepresentation. This is improper weight training. There are many good "conventional weight training" systems and programs out there, only if the public care to find out about them. There is nothing bad nor wrong about "conventional weight training" that needs to be replaced with "kettlebell training".

Kettlebells are better than conventional weights

A weight is a weight. As long as it has mass and therefore exerts weight on the user, it has fulfilled it's purpose. Does it matter so much what shape it is to you? It does matter to a degree, but that is outside the scope of this discussion.

A tool is just a tool. A tool is useful for what it is intended for. It is not useful for what it is not intended for. You wouldn't use a screwdriver to drive a nail, would you?

Which mode of transport is better? Walking, bicycle, motorcycle, car, ship, plane? Neither. Each is better in its own way depending on what it is used for. You wouldn't walk halfway round the globe, would you? Neither would you take a plane to the shop round the corner. Yes you could (i.e. effective), but it is a stupid idea to do that (i.e. inefficient).

So whether the weight is shaped like a kettle, or it is simply a rock, a bag of sand, a bar etc. it does not matter so much. It depends more on the Exercises you are doing. Some Exercises are done better with a kettlebell than dumbbbell. Some the other way around.


The kettlebell is just a tool in the tool box. There is no magic in the kettlebell. As if owning one would instantly turn you into a superman. Same applies to barbells, dumbbells, Clubbells or any other fitness Tool in the market that have marketing materials that say that their Tool is better than this, better than that blah blah blah (think TRX, Purmotion, wobble boards, Bosu Ball, Swiss Ball etc.). As if without owning one, you are training your body less.

The bottom line to a good fitness program is well, programming. I say it again: even if you have nothing with but your bodyweight you can have good training. Check out Primal Stress if you haven't. It contains many unconventional bodyweight exercises.
No matter which tool you use, the key to fitness (whatever fitness means to you) is the same: hard work.

Nevertheless, if you already have kettlebells and want to learn non-conventional ways to train with them, do check out TACFIT Kettlebell Spetsnaz.

Monday, May 30, 2011

What Are Clubbells And Why Should I Bother About Them

Updated 2 May 2013


Clubbells are weighted clubs. They are a weight training equipment. However unlike conventional weight lifting, they are also well suited, and even more so, for swinging and leverage exercises.
UFC Champion Andrei Arlovski with the Clubbell (image courtesy of Rmax)


Clubbells have their roots in the ancient strength & conditioning systems of Indian, Persian and Russian club swinging. Heavy clubs have unique features which conventional weights do not have, as such swinging heavy clubs have very different and unique benefits which conventional weight lifting do not offer.

Main Feature: Leverage, and Its Benefits

The first thing you notice when you pick up a Clubbell is that they feel heavier than their weight. This is due to the large displacement of the centre of mass from the grip, which could be up to 3 feet away.

For this reason, in lifting movements eg. torch press, it is much much harder to keep it stable, compared to a kettlebell bottom up press. Even 15lb can pose a tough challenge for a seasoned lifter.

There are also unique leverage lifting movements that can't be done with a balanced weight like a dumbbell, like the front leverage press.

For the same reason, Clubbells can be swung and great torque can be produced by swinging them. As the speed of swinging goes up, the torque experienced by your body goes up by a factor of two (ie squared).

Micro loading adjustable. Just adjust the distance of your grip from the centre of mass and you have adjusted the resistance instantly, without plate changing, shot filling or other hassle.

Other Features and Benefits

Slim profile: can be manipulated around the body safer than other larger diameter equipment like dumbbells or kettlebells, going through the 6 degrees of freedom with less chance of hitting your body.

Slim profile: can be placed in the back position without danger of hitting your back or your head which can happen if you try to do the same with dumbbells or kettlebells.
The back position (image courtesy of Rmax)

Longitudinal grip: in swinging movements, when the Clubbell is in line with the arm, the grip goes through the fingers rather than against the fingers. This stimulates sensitivity in the grip (selective tension) and is harder than a conventional transverse grip.


The Clubbell can be used to replace most movements that are possible with dumbbells and kettlebells, this include swinging, pressing and exercises which go to the back position.

However some movements like the press cannot be done with the Clubbell without too much grip involvement. For safety, one handed high rep torch pressing is definitely not recommended.

Choose the right tool for the right job.

To get started with Clubbell training, check out TACFIT King of Clubs:
To get Clubbells in Singapore, contact me and i'll get you in touch with the local supplier.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What are the Recommended Programs for a Beginner in CST

Updated 2 May 2013

So are you a beginner to fitness or a beginner to the world of Circular Strength Training? Don't know where to start? Hopefully this guide would get you going.

I'll classify the options available for you according to the fitness hierarchy:

1) Health
2) Mobility
3) Function
4) Attributes
5) Physique

Please note that i recommend mostly electronic (ie downloadable) products because it is much easier on the logistics from the buyer (YOU) point of view. No shipping cost, instant downloads, unlimited access to download page are the pros of e-products versus DVDs or books.

Health & Mobility

These two points really come together. The method of pain relief we use in CST is movement, aka mobility. The best program in this category is none other than Intu-Flow. Now available in a convenient downloadable format in the Ageless Mobility Package.
It is the most comprehensive joint mobility program and system i have ever come across. And it doesn't need you to have a background in anatomy to use it. It is an intuitive system, as suggested by the name "Intu".

Mobility & Function

Programs from the second ring of Prasara Bodyflow Yoga would be best for these purposes. Note that mobility is a function and mobility is not restricted to isolated joint movements but also refers to whole body movement.

Dedicated programs available currently are Prasara Primer and Prasara A Flows.


What is functional training? Simple. aAnything that you do to improve you in your chosen activity, whatever that may be.

However here we are refering to normal and common human movements (functional training for life), not specific sporting or athletic activities. Things like squatting, lunging, lifting, swinging, throwing etc. Even before you look at functional training for sports, you need to be able to be functional for life.

Training to be functional for life makes you functional for sport. But the reverse may not be true.

Every program in CST is functional, therefore it is redundant for me to list out all the programs under this point.


Attribute training basically refers to strength & conditioning. Strength refers to ability to produce force. Conditioning refers to the ability to sustain repeated effort.

Many people say they want to be strong. Yet a lot of them have no idea what they want to be strong in.

To be strong overall is to be a jack of all trades. You cannot be strong in everything at the same time.

To be really strong, i mean really strong in something needs specific training. Who is stronger, a gymnast or a breakdancer? A boxer or a wrestler? A weightlifter or a powerlifter? You can argue until the cows come home and there is really no one answer to this.

If you are just starting out and have no idea what your weaknesses are and what you want to be strong in, the currently best available program to delve into would be the TACFIT 26. This has the widest variety of protocols, exercises and tools so far. The biggest back for your buck.

Yes, TACFIT 26 is a conditioning program with a lot of "light" exercises. Light here means lighter than conventional barbell exercises, but not that light, using up to 32kg kettlebell and 45lb Clubbell. You would not build maximal strength with TACFIT 26 but more of using your current level of strength in unconventional ranges of motion.


Every program in CST has some effects on fat loss and muscle gain. Actually any training you do has an effect on your physique, it is just a matter of degrees. Some programs may produce more of a fat burning effect than others and vice versa.

For fat loss, some programs you can start with would be those that use the Tabata ProtocolPrimal Stress program, included with the TACFIT 26 package is ideal for this goal.

If you just like to purchase Primal Stress on its own, go here:

For muscle gain, to me the conventional approach to mass gain with "To be strong, lift heavy. To get big, lift heavy a lot of times" with basic barbell exercises a la Starting Strength makes more sense if you disregard the 6 degrees of freedom.


Note that i do not have all the programs from CST. However i have enough programs and have done enough of them to have an informed opinion to recommend you what to do. And i am biased toward TACFIT. I love the simplicity of the protocols in TACFIT. This does not mean that the rest are not as good. They are. All programs from CST are some of the best and most innovative fitness programs out there. Also note that they are fitness programs, not sport specific programs. The only sport TACFIT is designed for is fighting. However that does not mean that it won't help you in other sport.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Exclusive Interview with Ahmad Taufiq Muhammad

We have with us here Taufiq, strongman athlete from SG Titans for an exclusive interview. I first got to know about about the local strongman scene in my final year of Physiotherapy school. And every year i hear Taufiq's name amongst the top ten of the Civil Defence for National Servicemen (CDANS) Strongest Man competitions. Though this year he didn't participate in this competition, he won the Orang Kuat Sabah (Sabah Strongest Man) 2011. We are very honoured to have him here share some things about him and his sport.

Could you tell us about your fitness background (before strongman)?

I did Judo, Rugby, Track & Field in my younger days

I was always been in active in sports since secondary all the way up to Polytechnic. Before Strongman, it was Track and Field, I used to throw the discus and shot put. But I was better in the discus because of it’s technical demands because I’ve always been very technical and believed that good form and technique will go a long way! I’ve always been big... In fact I was a fat kid from primary school, but I was also very active in Track and Field. To be honest, Track and Field and representing my school kept me out of trouble from the gangs and other vices. So technically... I’ve always been big and strong. When I was 18 I totally gave up sports because of the “Singaporean Dream” of grades = progress. But was pretty much very wrong! I ballooned up to 130kg... slobbish, slow and totally demoralized. I was invited to train with Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Track and Field team because I knew some people there and I’ve always love competing... because I was quite good at it too! Training 3 days a week made sure that my fitness was reasonable. Represented NP for various IVP meets too.

I’ve then swopped over to bodybuilding in the search for that “Muscle Mag” body... but gave that up because the dieting was ridiculous I’ve tried dieting and my lowest dieting weight was 92kg but I hated the way I look, because I was lean but it doesn’t appeal to me only to find out that Bodybuilders are on drugs. I’ve always believed in not using drugs because it’s also known as cheating! At 22 years... I totally lost interest in bodybuilding because of the amount of drugs in the sport.
Broke my wrist during friendly rugby game. But I still have that urge to train but I still kept going to the gym... ballooning up to 130kg of “FATNESS” doesn’t appeal to me. So what can you do? Squats... so I technically squatted for almost 4 days a week. 2 days heavy, 2 days light just to get that adrenaline buzz! I also noticed that I got stronger as the weight on the bar piled on. So I believe that squatting was the key that made me stronger.

How long have you been doing Strongman? And how did you get started?

I’ve started strongman in 2005, after I got my right knee reconstructed in 2004 July... I say again, squatting save my life! Because of the dense muscle tissue around my knees... I recovered in 2 to 3 months and I was walking with no crutches after 2 days after surgery! You can also say that I’m stubborn or strongwilled! All I wanted to do after my surgery was to squat again! I saw the Hometeam NS magazine about the first ever strongman competition in Singapore and I’ve always dream about competing in competitions like this because when I was 10 years old I saw Magnus Magnusson (WSM) competitor doing all these feats of strengths on TV! I’m glad that at 25 I’ve finally got that opportunity in Singapore. So from 2005... there was no looking back and I’ve been in it till today and competing in Singapore, Johor and most recently in Sabah! I’m glad to be feature always in top 5 almost every year. But this year I had to withdraw due to a chest infection but recovered just in time for Sabah, and with only 5 days of training since I fell ill from 2nd week of February.
How many calories do you take a day?

Honestly... I don't count calories, I think it’s a waste of time! I go by how my body feels. But I can tell you that I eat 6 to 8 meals in a day if it’s competition season. I have my very own meat supplier sending 20kg of meat to my place every month! Below is a sample of my meal on a normal day on a training day during competition season.

7am: 300g Steak, 2 Eggs and 1 Slice of Toast (own cooked meal)
10.30am: Salmon & Prawn Pasta (own cooked meal)
1.30pm: Sliced 300g beef with onions Sandwich with some fiber (own cooked meal)
4.30pm: 2 apples, 2 oranges, Ribena, dried fruit like raisins, dates or figs
Workout at 6pm to 8pm (raisins and sultanas in between sets)
Post workout: Protein shake, roasted cashew nuts, almonds, peanuts
8pm: 2 Chicken breast (Grilled) with bread or naan (own cooked meal at home or eat out)
10pm: Fruits... lots of it!

Normally, my kitchen would be a buzz of activity because 3 pans are going at the same time!!! I also have a “cooler box” in my car, to keep my food warm. I also drink down about 4 to 5 litres of water a day! No soft drinks at all or at least I try not too. If I don't have my meals with me... I’ll try to find substitutes like fish soup x 2 bowls, chicken chop no sauce... it’s always about alternatives, you have to be flexible.

I also try not to depend too much on supplements because I prefer food! I only use supplements or shakes when I have no choice! If I’m in off season... I eat normally like 4 to 5 meals a day, with snack of fruits and nuts. I always have a pack of raisins and dried fruits in my bag to snack on. I don't like snacking on processed food, fast food or junk food. My body is already stressed from my training, why should I stress it even more to process the rubbish.

What is your favourite food?

I’m on a SEEFOOD diet... I see food... I eat it! Basically... all dead animals especially beef! But I my fiber intake is also high. I’m a foodie and the thought of eating tasteless food doesn’t appeal to me. If I eat something heavy, my workout on the next day will take care of everything!

What's your training program like?

Training program is pretty simple, 3 or 4 days a week, depending on my schedule. By the way... if I train at the gym for 2 days a week, it’s only 3 exercises... Deadlifts, Pull Ups, Military Presses and Squats!

Monday: Deadlifts, Pull Ups ( 40 mins max)
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Squats (40 mins max)
Thursday: SG Titans (Light & Easy)
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: SG Titans (Use and Abuse, heavy work)
Training with SG Titans would include, yoke walk, farmer’s walk, tyre flips, sled pulls, sledge hammers drills or whatever is on the menu. Normally, we would start with Kettlebells or circuit training before strongman begins. Rolling on my roller is a nightly affair before I sleep. Sometimes on rest days I might do Bulgarian Bags with Coach Yasir as a form of recovery, Bulgarian bags are not heavy and they also help with shoulder mobility.

As for my cardio, I don't indulge or have any interest in running but I do KBs jerks, snatches, or long cycle for time or reps (trust me 8 minutes of KB Snatches is enough to make me cry!!), Bulgarian bags, swim, outrigger canoe paddling (when I have time). 

For intense cardio... I would recommend, 20 Flips of 270kg Tyre with a 7 second temp x 3 sets! It’s going to be intense!!! You can always drop by at SG Titans if you are keen to do strongman implements!

How does kettlebell lifting / sport fit in with Strongman?

Kettlebell lifting is actually a good alternative to strongman during the off season, because it is not realistic to train with Strongman implements the whole year! Your body needs rest and get some time off from the weight. Kettlebell work also helps in developing the core, stability and efficiency. I use Kettlebells drills more as a tool for cardio. Because I’m weigh 110kg to 116kg (competition weight) but 120kg to 125kg in off season... running is out of the question, so KBs are an awesome substitute for cardio. I always had reasonable mobility with my shoulders and hips but now... after KBs my mobility has improved.

Little did I know I was hooked to being more mobile and functional in terms of movement. I explored with Bulgarian Bags, Club Bells and other forms of tools. I also adopted them because of injury prevention and I’ve never looked back since. Strength with no mobility is useless! You need to be quick, fast, mobile and agile. No point weighing in 120kg strong as hell but no technical or mobile ability.

I’m so hooked that I’m keen to be ranked in WKC Kettlebell Sport and maybe give a go at WKC Kettlebell Strong Sport.

How did you discover CST/TACFIT and what got you interested in it?

I’ve always been keen to try new stuff and I’ll be judge of equipment thus I’ve also always wanted to give Clubbells a try but its never around in SG or someone to teach it, but when I found out that Herman was doing it I grabbed the chance, contacted him and the rest is history!!! I wish I could attend more of his classes but my schedule and me being away from SG does not permit it. Well once I’m back in SG... I think I would be a permanent fixture at CST, hopefully!

How has CST/TACFIT helped you in your sport?

One of the most important components of CST/TACFIT was recovery that I’ve learnt from Herman! Previously after an intense set of 20 flips of 270kg tyre with a 6 second tempo, I would be puking or vomiting at some corner, panting and be in extreme pain. But since adopting the “active recovery”  instead of panting and gasping for air, I noticed that my cardio ability has improved and I don't feel like I’m going to collapse and die!
The CST joint mobility drills were also a plus... I’m 116kg and can do a crow pose! That says a lot by itself. When people say that big guys are slow... I challenge them to that notion! I’m 116kg and can flip a 270kg tyre in sub 30 seconds for 20m! Yes I might not be able to run 100m, yes I might only manage to do 50m in the pool for 54secs and yes it’s amazing that I can do pull ups at 116kg...
Big, strong, mobile, agile and technically sound... thats what I hope to be and keep on moving in that direction! I’m also very thankful to all the coaches and instructors who have shared or imparted some of their knowledge to me. Knowledge is meant to be shared.

Monday, April 4, 2011

...The Technique is More Important than the Tool (Part 2/2)

No Gym No Problem

So some people i have spoken with are interested (whether casually or seriously i don't know) with physical training, and when told that they can get really fit training at home, i always get questions like these:

"But are Dumbbells enough?"

"But is Bodyweight Training enough?"

"How are Kettlebells/Clubbells better compared to Dumbbells?"

"Should i buy Kettlebells/Clubbells?"

"Dumbbell bench press or Barbell bench press?"

As if there is some magic in the Kettlebell or Clubbell® or some other fancy "new" exercise equipment, the latest tools and gadgets, latest technology etc.

What these questions essentially assume that you have to have certain equipment (the Tools) to have a good training program for whatever kind of fitness goals.

And frankly speaking, the marketing materials of some equipment manufacturers / sellers really do give the impression that their Tools are really a necessity rather than a luxury. As if having these Tools would magically transform your crappy program design into award winning workouts. As if having these Tools would magically transform your lousy biomechanics into sound biomechanics.

And then some unqualified "trainers" have capitalized on the fitness equipment boom and marketted themselves as "Kettlebell Experts" or "Celebrity Kettlebell Trainers" when it is obvious that they are not doing "Kettlebell Lifting" at all.

To tell you the truth, i am here to burst your bubble. You already have the Tools. The Exercises (and the movement pattern of the Exercises, but that is another story) are more important than the specific Tools used to perform the Exercises, therefore we say in TACFIT: "the Time is more important than the Technique, the Technique is more important than the Tool".

As i have always explained to my clients "even if you have no other equipment, you can have a good training program with just your Bodyweight".

The Origin of Some Tools

Do you know that many of modern fitness equipment evolved from agricultural equipment and / or weapons? No doubt that having the properly engineered version of the Tool for fitness / performance use is ideal. But what if you don't have access to them? Or if getting access to them is too costly to be worth your while?

A notable example of these is the Sandbag. What could be simpler than a bag of sand? And it does not have to be sand. It can be rocks / scrap pieces of metal or some other heavy object.

Very cheap to make and easy to obtain. Yet packs a lot of punch due to their shifting centre of mass and bulk.

As an aside, to me the ideal "training" is manual labour. If you do manual labour, you don't have to "train" to build up your body. Your manual labour is your training. We "train" to replace the lost physical activity that our ancestors get in their manual labour.

Do you understand now why there are sports and training Exercises that mimic manual labour, notably Strongman?

Tool Substitutions

That said, since the past few years immersing myself in CST and TACFIT, the most versatile weight training Tool i have used is undeniably the Clubbell®. It can be used for exercises for the Dumbbell, Kettlebell, Sandbag, Barbell and give interesting twists to them.

Not to mention it is designed for exercises not meant to be done with these other Tools. We think of exercises in the Trial By Fire for example.

Every Tool has unique features. A Tool is only better than another Tool if you know how to use these features to your advantage. If you can't grip a Kettlebell properly, it does no good to you. It would be better for you to do the same exercises with better Technique with a Dumbbell instead.

Good Tools does not compensate for lousy Technique. Or rather, i would rather you have excellent Technique with normal Tools than lousy Technique with the latest state of the art Tools.

Bodyweight Exercise

A special mention goes to Bodyweight Exercise, which requires no external Tool except the floor and your Bodyweight. Of course it is assumed that you are in a gravitational field for this to work.

You have your Bodyweight with you 24/7, yet how many people say that Bodyweight Training is "boring" or "doesn't get heavy enough". Or even worse, that they can't train because they don't have access to a gym or equipment. With some creativity, it can be done, just like in the disciplines of the Dances and Gymnastics. Don't believe me, go around and as how many people can do a strict One Arm Push Up or One Arm Pull Up.

And how about the simple Push Up? As in Part 1 of these series of articles, you can create a big bang for the buck program using just the Push Up and some other simple Bodyweight Exercises.

When You Cannot Substitute With Other Tools

Of course, it goes without saying that the goals determines the Tools, as much as the Technique and the Time.

If your goal is to compete in Powerlifting or Weightlifting, you cannot substitute the Exercises with other Tools. If your goal is to Squat big, Bench big and Deadlift big, the Barbell is the best Tool of the trade.

The same goes for Bodyweight Exercise and Gymnastics, Kettlebells and Kettlebell Sport etc.


I hope i have given you some ideas on how to have good training programs with minimal Tools. If you need some more ideas, do check out TACFIT Commando, a Bodyweight-only training program that is guaranteed to kick your ass.

TACFIT Commando - minimal tools, maximal results

The Time is More Important than the Technique...(Part 1/2)

So Many Whats

I often receive these questions many times from friends and/or prospects:

"What exercises can i do to...get a six pack / burn off the fat / flatten my tummy?"

"What exercises can i do to make my arms / chest / lats bigger?"

"What exercises can i do to train the core?"

Well, what these questions essentially assume is that:

-There is some magic with some exercises,

-Perhaps exercises that they do not know or have never seen before,

-And doing them, regardless of how they do them,

Would give them the results that they want.

To tell you the truth, i am here to burst your bubble. You already know the Exercises (Technique). The how is more important that the what, therefore we say in TACFIT: "the Time is more important than the Technique, the Technique is more important than the Tool".

Every Exercise is a Core Exercise

As it has been said "every Exercise is a core Exercise". Somebody asks "what exercise can work the core?" So which Exercises are you going to pick? Done properly a Push Up is a very good core Exercise. Those from the heavy lifting camp would tell you Squats and Deadlifts are the best core Exercise or something to that extend. I can't help you answer the question unless you furnish me with more information. I can choose any arbitrary Exercise but is that what you want?

Two people may be doing the same Exercise but with totally different (and opposite) goals. One person does 10RM barbell Squats for 20 reps without time limit for mass, another may be doing bodyweight Squats with Tabata Protocol for conditioning / fat loss.

Confusing the Time (Protocol) with the Technique (Exercise)

Many times i hear people say "i run / swim / cycle / lift weights three times a week (or even five / six times a week, two hours a day), but i am still flabby, should i switch to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?"

Firstly you need to ask yourself, are you using a Protocol that i suited for your fitness goal(s)? Run / swim / cycle / lift weights are Technique, not Protocols. As mentioned above two people can do the same Exercise but have totally opposite goals. A sprinter runs and a marathon runner runs, but their training Protocols are totally different.

If your running / swimming / cycling are done with Long Slow Distance (LSD) Cardio Protocols, then for sure you will not see any impressive fat loss results. Note that i am not saying running / swimming / cycling are not good Exercises, they are.

If you are an adult and lifting weights mean for kids, thinking you can tone your muscles, you are sorely mistaken. No matter whether you are doing the best Exercises or not.

You don't need to change the Exercises, you need to change the Protocols.

Are You Getting It or are You Getting Confused?

In other words, even if i give you an encyclopedia of a million Exercises, if you don't know how to structure them in a proper program design, it is useless. Do i even need to prove this point? Since the advent of the internet, more people know more about more Exercises than ever. There are even online exercise encyclopedias available for free. Yet there are still many people who design crappy programs.

The How is More Important than the What

The Protocol refers to how the program is structured. This is much more important than the Exercises you choose. Well, unless your goal is to be good at specific Exercises, then you have to practice those Exercises. If you want to be good in Weightlifting and Powerlifting, not only you have to do the Protocols specific for the sports' requirements, but also the Exercises for them.

Consider these variables:

-How often? Once a week or less is a joke. Don't even bother to train if you think you can "exercise" once in a while and get "fit".

-How much? This can be further broken down to how many reps, how many sets, resistance, effort / intensity etc.

Implied also are your recovery exercises and schedule. There are other questions to ask but just these will do for now.

Sample Program

Ok, i don't want to go too much into the technical details here. I just want to share with you and show you how some simple and widely known Exercises can be used simply and effectively in a program design. This program is for fat loss / toning / explosive strength / endurance.

The Exercises i pick are: Lunge, Pull Up, Push Up and Spinal Rock.

Granted, Spinal Rock is not so common an exercise for a training program, but Sit Up is. And the Spinal Rock is a Sophistication of the Sit Up.

Granted, designing Levels 2, 3 and 4 may not be easily evident to some people not well versed in program design. But at least you should know what goes into Level 1. And i am giving them to you as a bonus

The Protocol we are using would be the infamous Tabata Protocol. Nothing new also.

In fact, there is nothing new in this program. Novelty is good, but if you don't know how to use it, you don't have to use it. Stick to the tried and true stuff.

Tabata: 20/10 x 8

Level 1
Level 2
Level 3
Level 4
Forward Lunge
Backward LungeLunge Jump SwitchAirborne Lunge
Pull Up
Kipping Pull Up
(Mixed Grip)
Kipping Pull Up
(Underhand Grip)
Kipping Pull Up
(Overhand Grip)
Push Up
Push Up
(Ball of Foot)
Arm Screw Push Up
Plyometric Screw Push Up
Spinal Rock
Spinal Rock
Spinal Rock
Spinal Rock

That's it, a short and simple, yet innovative program design available to anybody. And since this is a free program, i am not going to give you any video instructions, search Google or youtube for them.

In the next instalment, we'll look at the second half of the statement "the Technique is more important than the Tool".

Friday, March 25, 2011

Surviving Reservist with High Fat Diet

I just finished reservist yesterday, and we had a three day field camp. After being inspired by the Paleo guys (thanks Damien, Brett etc.) at the CST/TACFIT Certs last month, i decided that i would take ownership of my diet this reservist.

SAF Food in General

Cookhouse food is supplied by Singapore Food Industries. Of course, being in an Asian country, the diet is rice (and carbo) based.


Breakfast would normally consist of fried noodles or buns or some tim sum or something to that extend. There would be hot drinks provided like Milo or Horlicks. A truckload of refined carbo (and sugar), very little protein and fat, not something that i would eat regularly. Not even irregularly.

Main course for breakfast: noodles. Image courtesy of the internet.

Main course for breakfast: pau. Image courtesy of the internet.

I knew this since active times ten years ago, so this time i didn't even bother to go to the Cookhouse every morning to check out the breakfast. It is a waste of my time and energy just to walk there and back.

I stocked up on cans of sardines to be eaten for breakfast everyday. Each can of 425 grams contains about 60 grams of protein and 20 grams of fat. Not the best tasting food, but convenient and not too shabby in the protein and fat department.

I ate this every breakfast in reservist. Image courtesy of the internet.

Lunch and Dinner

Lunch and dinner would be rice with meat and veges (aka mixed vege rice or chap chai peng) plus soup and fruit. Sometimes some additional junk food would be given, like fish balls. Not bad, same as what i normally consume outside. I just asked for more meat everyday and reject the extra junk. Most of the time the cookhouse aunties would be very nice to give you some extra.

There is another item in the lunch and dinner menu which is syrup drinks and sometimes ice-cream which i don't bother to try at all.

Mixed vege rice. Image courtesy of the internet.

Combat Ration version 2011

We had a three day two night field camp. Two 24 hours worth of combat ration was issued. If you think breakfast at the cookhouse is bad, combat ration is worse. A lot worse. Lotsa sugar and carbo, very little fat and protein. Not something that you would want to eat in times of survival or war. Won't say too much here, i'll let the pictures do the talking.

Combat ration menu. The only thing somewhat worth eating are the Entrees from the Main Packs.

Accessories Pack menu. Full of simple carbo and sugar.

Contents of Accessories Pack. I am missing the potato crackers. The powers that be wants you to believe that these are essential food. :P

Good thing our unit gives us the freedom to take what we wanted, so i only took the Entrees. There was an oversupply of rations, so i took more than the standard two per 24 hours just in case. The rest are just a few kilos of dead weight, wasting energy to be carried but doesn't add any value to your wellbeing.

In times of war or survival, you wouldn't want to waste energy carrying these junk. You'd need more calorie dense food made up mainly of fat, for long lasting energy and preservation of muscle mass.

And i added my own extra food.

Extra fat and protein.

Coconut cream. Each 200ml packet supplies 50 grams of fat, 4 grams of sugar and 5 grams of protein. :D


Only lunch and dinner are passable, the rest of the menu needs to be improved, which is very very unlikely. Well, maybe the authorities are not concerned with our health, just like the majority of the population is. Taste (or maybe cost savings) takes precedence over nutrition. Even when given fresh ration back in camp, some people chose not to eat what is given but ordered food from Pizza Hut and MacDonald's. For me, i would gladly take the extra meat and vege from them. :D

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why Does the CST Approach Work for Me?

Updated 2 May 2013

If i could just summarize everything that i have to say about this topic is this: applicability.

I have been certified in a few fitness systems including formal tertiary studies in Physiotherapy but none of them matches the ease of application of the system to (myself and) clients.

What i am going to do now is review all the points that i have presented in the featured articles and tell you why they work so well.

The 5 Fitness Hierarchy

It reminds and emphasizes to me that Health and Mobility takes precedence over Strength and Physique. It's not that i don't already know this, neither do other people (whether laymen or coaches), but that it gives you a clearer framework on where to target your training goals at. Functional training is a big word nowadays. But what function? Isn't being pain-free and being able to move all your joints freely in all directions a function that needs to be trained before so called "functional movements" like squats et al?

The 3 Rings of Joint Mobility, Yoga and Weight Lifting and Swinging

This reminds and emphasizes to me that there is no one tradition or discipline that has it all. Though Joint Mobility and Yoga clearly takes precedence over Weight Lifting and Swinging, they are not the end all be all. There are so many (movement) functions of the human body that you can't really (ie absolutely) specialize in any one discipline if you want to have healthy movement.

Some people say that they don't do Weight Lifting after switching to (note that it is switching, not adding) Yoga because Weight Lifting cause them pains and aches but Yoga relieves them. Well, this is improper Weight Lifting. Weight Lifting itself is not the problem. It is how they do it. Maybe improper technique, improper progression, improper exercises or some other reasons.

As an aside, it is interesting to know that a lot of people "self teach" themselves Weight Lifting, but the same people seek the teaching of an instructor when it comes to Yoga by attending classes. Is it any wonder that "Weight Lifting creates so many injuries"?

Well, the verdict after coming to CST is that Mobility and Strength are yin and yang. Neither can exist without the other. Weight Lifting is compensated through Mobility work (Joint Mobility and Yoga).

The 6 Degrees of Freedom

They tell me that i had been missing out on a big component of movement all along - the rotatory movements. As in a lot of things in fitness, we know them at the back of our minds, but without a coach to remind us of some things, they do not get emphasized and more likely be neglected.

Linear strength training is not enough. It must be complemented with Circular Strength Training to fully utilize the movement potential of the human body. In fact all the major joints of our limbs and trunk move rotationally.

The Intuitive Training Protocols (ITPs)

They teach me how to quantify quality. It is just interesting to me that all the three ITPs already exist in different fitness systems, but have never been married together in the manner presented in CST.

There are various pain scales including the Visual Analog Scale (for quantifying pain) which i had learned in Physiotherapy but nobody ever told me that it can also be used in training or healthy clients. Is it any wonder that people can push themselves lifting more weights despite having an injury and pain? It is a any wonder that people can get injured "through" Weight Lifting? If it is painful, STOP. it's common sense. Maybe common sense isn't so common.

In gymnastics and the dances, points are given for technique, but nobody every told me that the same system that can quantify technique in bodyweight exercises can also be used for weight training exercises and other exercises. Is it any wonder that people can lift weights with atrocious form and then wonder why they get injured "through" Weight Lifting?

There are various RPE scales like Borg's Scale to subjectively measure cardiovascular intensity, but nobody ever told me that the same scale can be used to quantify intensity in a general sense, whether it be for strength or endurance training or a combination of the two.

The 7 Key Components of Structure

Gives me a checklist of the important points of technique at my fingertips. As mentioned with the other points above, the Components are not new. Every fitness system have coaching cues like "hips straight, lock your knees, elbows locked etc", but they never define how many of these are and what they are.

With the 7 Components, you don't have to make any guesswork when teaching or correcting technique. What you need to do is compare what the client is performing against the instructions of the exercise.

The 5 Levels of Breath

Teach me that though there are wrong ways to breathe, there is no one right way to breathe but several. Gone are the days of "inhale on the negative, exhale on the positive", which is just one of the levels. As your Technique evolves through practice and getting more efficient, your Structure and Breath evolve along with it. There could be two people doing the exact same exercise but both may be using different breathing pattern and both could be right.


Confirms to me that there must always be a progression to exercises. It makes life simpler for the coach and for the trainee, when there are definite progressions to prescribed exercises, and that everyone can choose a level where they are challenged but not too hard where technique breaks down.

It also tells me that the hardest and most complex skills can be achievable by the poorest athlete, given enough time and practice. It pisses me off every time somebody says that some exercise is "too hard" for them, even though i have already assured them that the programs (or exercises) are suitable (or scalable)  for all fitness levels.

Even if the stock programs' Sophistication levels are not enough, there can be infinite steps of progression to suit every skill level. The limit is only your imagination.

CST Stock Programs

There are many programs released by the Rmax Faculty and CST Head Coaches. This i say is one of the genius of the system.

In many other fitness systems, coaches are "educated" to design their own programs for their clients from the get go. What this can lead to is poor program design (which can lead to a lot of bad things including injury). It is a fact that there are a million exercises and variations out there. You can even get them free on the net. But notice how many people design crappy programs, especially those "self taught" recreational gym goers? Even fitness professionals (i won't say from where, but you know who they are), who supposedly should do better are guilty of this.

Not in CST. At the lower tier of CST Professionals, we are not taught to design programs, but to apply ready made programs to ourselves first then to our clients. We must show proficiency in the programs first then are we qualified to teach them to our clients. That's why it is the rule in CST that we can only conduct programs that we have been instructed in.

Now this seems narrow minded and limiting at first. But it is done for our own good. Think of when your first picked up a new sport (say martial art or dance), you would listen intently and do exactly what the coach teaches you. It is the same for fitness. If you are not familiar with the system as is, how could you create programs out of the system (instead of from your previous background)? I learn more from doing the stock programs than designing my own programs.

The 4x7

It teaches me the importance of Recovery compared to Training. Recovery is King, Training is Queen. In no other system i had been certified in is this emphasized. Without a proper Recovery, your High Intensity would suffer. In fact this can be felt immediately after the insufficient recovery.

It teaches me that most people underrecover rather than overtrain. As it has been said many times out there, most people don't train hard enough to warrant a diagnosis of overtraining. They are underrecovering. Anybody can hit a High Intensity anytime (if they want to), but if that High Intensity has a low absolute performance, how good is the value of that training?

It teaches me intelligent waving of intensity for maximal gains in minimal time. This includes the Intensities and the content of the non-training days. In no other systems i had been in has this been prescribed. It had always been "one day on one day off" or something to that extend. Anybody can make gains with some training, but the more advanced you before, the more you need to be precise in your programming to get less and less gains (diminishing returns). This specific waving of Intensity according to the Fibonacci Sequence ensures that advanced athletes can get better gains compared to conventional programming. And if it works for advanced athletes (which gain less than newbies), it works even better for newbies. Is it any wonder that some people train Moderate Intensity all the time (the toners, shapers, pumpers aka the aerobics crowd), and some train High Intensity all the time (the hardcore crowd) and don't make progress or get injured?

It gives me a template that gives me freedom in my programming. No more do i "need" to train on this day that day on a strict schedule. What i need is just to follow the Intensity Waving sequence of No-Low-Mod-High and that's it. And just plug in the training programs on the Mod and High Days. If i need to travel or do some significant extra physical exertions (moving furniture etc.), what i need to do is still follow the sequence and it won't affect my training a single bit. Maybe add an (or a few) extra No and/or Low Days if recovery is not sufficient and resume the sequencing.


CST is easily applicable to any fitness goals. If you are a newbie in CST, you DO NOT have to know the nitty gritty details that i have outlined in the featured articles. What you need to do is simply get started with a stock program designed to the very high quality control by Scott Sonnon and the Rmax Faculty. Just follow the program as prescribed. Everything has been done for you. You just need to put in the sweat and results are guaranteed. As you do the programs, your knowledge of the system would naturally increase and soon, you'd be going deeper into the rabbit hole. :)

Read more on the theory of CST in Primal Stress:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Are You Free to Move?

Check out this video from my friends at Wolf Fitness Systems in California USA.

Are you like this guys with lots of injuries, pain, surgeries, plates and screws etc.? We can help you regain your full mobility and move like elastic steel.

Come join our CST classes or personal training now.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Is CST for Me?

Updated 2 May 2013

Whether CST is for you is a question you have to ask yourself. What i am going to do now is present to you why CST is for me in terms of its theories and principles (not in any particular order of merit):

1) Integrated

In which other system can you find bodybuilders and yoga coexist together in harmony? There could be other systems which integrate multiple disciplines together, but i don't know another one in the same manner as in CST. In CST unloaded joint mobility, bodyweight movements and manipulating an external object are one and the same. They are variations of one another. One cannot exist without the other. Movement is movement.

Why should there be a distinction between movements of various disciplines? In the end what moves is still the same human body.

2) Explicit

This is the only system i have came across which makes its principles very explicit. So explicit that it can become a route memorization of certain terms, examples are: the 5 Levels of Breath, Intuitive Training Protocols, 7 Key Components etc.

While it is true that these ideas are not unique to CST - other systems also have them in place, whether using different terminologies and/or explanations - it has never been presented to me in such a succinct manner.

Due to their explicitness and succinct explanations, these principles tend to get remembered more easily. Leading to a greater understanding as i go through my personal practice.

3) Simple to understand (but not simplistic)

The theories of CST are presented with easy to understand language. CST materials are not presented like academic textbooks with lots of jargons and complex unpronouncible words. You still do need time to digest the concepts of what is presented, but the language is simple and understandable by anyone who is fluent in English language. There could be some new vocabularies presented but they are usually presented with succinct explanations.

4) Deep

Having said about the simplicity of presentation, the ideas in CST are deep, very deep. Most of the concepts are not widely known or practiced in the fitness industry (including the medical professions, alternative medicine and rehab professions), much less amongst the general public.

This is one of the biggest reasons why i find it great value to study CST. There are layers upon layers of understanding in CST. As you continue your personal practice and learning from other in the CST community, there is always new and deeper revelations of what you "think" you have understood before.

5) Applicability

CST is applicable to any fitness goals. Some would go even further to say that CST principles can be applied to any goals in life. As mentioned in point #1, there could be two people with seemingly opposite fitness goals like strength and mobility, yet they both could be doing the same system. Both are the sides of the same coin.

What fitness goals can CST be applied to? Fat loss, check. Muscle building, check. Strength training, check. Functional training, check. And too many more to list.

Alright, that's it for now. Stay tuned for the next installment in the featured article series on the practical side of applying CST to your fitness program.

Check out the comprehensive manual in Primal Stress on the theory of CST: