|Posted by Strength & Speed on October 15, 2021 at 1:40 AM|
Despite being in the military for almost 20 years and spending almost four of that deployed, I don’t have that much experience in the handheld weapon range. Most of my experience is in the projectile range since it is far more likely threat in the military, but I figured it was time to learn a little more about a tool/weapon that I carry every day, the knife. After hearing about Tiga Tactics and seeing their articles popping up in Black Belt Magazine, I signed up for their Every Day Carry (EDC) Karambit Course Online and here’s what I thought of it, what you can expect if you sign up and if you should invest the time/effort:
Length: The course has a free three part section that you can watch online right now, but the full course is 22 sections long and requires payment. Twenty two sections? What does that mean? It’s 22 mini lessons varying in length between 2 minutes and 12 minutes per section focusing on a different topic. Overall, it’s about a 90-minute course.
Format: After each section the video pauses and you “click to continue”. While I wasn’t a fan of this format at first, I completely love it now. I wish all my videos did this for three reasons. The first is it allows you to learn a move, practice it and rewatch the section if needed until you are comfortable moving on. The second is it allows you to easily go back and find the exact part you needed more work on for future training. Third, I often watch the video for the first time while going to bed at night (weird right?) and I often fall asleep resulting in me having no clue where I left off, but not with this format which automatically pauses after each section. Once I watch it once at night, then I go through the videos again actually practicing all the moves and a third or more time for specific sections to refine skills.
Content: Alright let’s get down to it. What are you going to learn? What I liked most was that at an hour and a half long, the course gets down to basics and focuses on what you would need in a self defense situation. Common strikes, a couple of short combos and most importantly, the importance of practicing drawing your weapon. Despite it being labeled a Karambit course, the same principles can be applied to any edged weapon making it valuable to anyone that carries a knife.
As a member of the military, I also enjoyed their input on carrying a knife in relation to your primary (or secondary weapon). While not heavily focused on this, it brings up important points for those in law enforcement, in the military or civilians that carry concealed.
If you are already experienced with bladed weapons this course may seem too simplistic to you at first glance. However, I would argue that is a good reminder for some basic skills you’ll need in a high threat situation where you will likely end up reverting to gross motor skills. If you have little or no training in edged weapons, you’ll definitely want his course because it is a great value. Important points are taught, emphasized and repeated to ensure you grasp the knowledge completely.
Presentation: Patrick Vuong and Dr. Conrad Bui, bring the course material in an easy to understand and fun manner. The two of them have an insane amount of experience and qualifications. The video was shot simply, but well (camera is stationary but instructors move around showing you things from different angles). The instructors occasionally mix in some jokes to keep things light while still effectively conveying the course material. As someone who regularly buys martial arts training content in digital format, this is one of the best ones I have seen.
Overall: I enjoyed Tiga Tactics EDC Karambit course. With limited access to anyone that teaches similar stuff in my local area and the expertise brought by the two instructors, Patrick Vuong and Dr. Conrad Bui, you are in good hands. I’m definitely interested in check out some of their other online courses when I have more free time to pick their brains on their unique skillsets and would eventually like to travel to one of their live seminars when it fits into my schedule. The bottom line is if you carry a knife, instead of buying another blade for your collection take some time to spend the money to figure out how to actually use it in a self defense situation.
5/5 stars, I would highly recommend
Head over to www.TigaTactics.com and save 50% using code "strengthandspeed"
Plus don't miss co-owner Patrick Vuong on the Strength & Speed podcast
|Posted by Strength & Speed on January 27, 2021 at 8:00 PM|
When I first started training for Obstacle Course Racing (OCR), my initial reaction was, I NEED an OCR gym or ninja gym. While an OCR/ninja gym does provide the most specific training, there isn’t always one that is nearby or convenient to visit. This is where the “Playout OCR Game” comes in. Here’s a quick review of Playout The OCR Game, one of three options available from Playout.
What is it?
Playout OCR is a 56 card game and exercise deck. It includes:
10 Terrain Cards: Exercises that simulate running, going uphill, swimming and more.
10 Skill Obstacles: Exercises that simulate doing obstacles.
12 Strength Obstacles: Exercises that simulate obstacles that require more muscle like rope climbs, log flips, tire drag and more.
Plus, 8 mini-games and 12 wildcards, more on that later.
How is it used?
The very simplified explanation is that is a workout card game. I used to do something similar with a deck of regular playing cards but this is way better. You don’t have to try to remember what each suit stood for and you can have more than four exercises.
Aspects I Loved:
When talking OCR training in my book Strength & Speed’s Guide to Elite OCR, I list three pillars that OCR training needs to be useful: Progressive, Specific and Enjoyable. Using this model to assess Playout, every card has an easy, medium and hard level listed on the top. This makes it scalable and progressive (i.e. you can make it harder as you get better). Furthermore, every card has what it is supposed to simulate (for example, hang switch simulates monkey bars, dragon walk simulates barbed wire crawl, pushup rolls simulates rolling under an obstacle, etc.). This makes the training specific.
Finally, is Playout enjoyable? They hit it out of the park with this one. Whether you are an adult looking for a good workout or a kid looking to get moving you will love it. My five year old daughter wants to play daily (I scale the training down a little bit further and modify the games).
There are so many options I don’t even know where to start. You could simply go through the deck doing every exercise on easy/medium/hard, you could pick a couple of cards or you could follow one of the nearly dozen suggestions that is included in the deck. There is 8 mini-games, a team race version (multi-person), an open heat version (easier/more scalable), an elite heat version (harder/more competitive) and the combination game. The combination game is essentially taking Playout OCR and combining it with either Playout The Game and/or Playout The Game 2.
The game is a ton of fun. I think it is a great option for something to change up your training, incorporate as part of your weekly routine or as I found out recently do with your kids. Pick one up for yourself, you kids, relatives or anyone that wants to have fun while getting in some great OCR specific exercises.
Order yours here: www.PlayoutTheGame.com
|Posted by Strength & Speed on March 20, 2020 at 6:00 PM|
There aren’t many Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) books and there are even fewer written by the athlete’s themselves that compete. So when I heard that Tony Matesi (muti-time death race participant) was writing a book called “Legend of Death Race” I was excited and had to get myself a copy.
The book is written from Tony’s perspective giving you a moment by moment account of the Death Race from 2012, 2013 and 2014. If you are unfamiliar with Death Race, it is a variable time event lasting up to around 60 hours long and requires athletes to complete a mix of challenges. The challenges are often insane requiring athletes to complete thousands of repetitions of calisthenics, walk far distances barefoot, do mountain repeats for time and carry heavy weights over rough terrain. As if that’s not bad enough challenges sometimes have a mix of mental challenges layered on top of the physical ones. Add in a mix of mind games, ambiguous rules and flexible solutions and to finish the event athletes need to be tough, strong and be willing to step into the gray area of the “rules”.
The Death Race has been talked about in the past in Spartan Up! By Joe DeSena as well as several times previously on the Strength & Speed podcast (see Ep 121 with Matt Hanson and Ep 54 with Christina Armstrong). Tony’s book is definitely the most in depth coverage of the events that is publicly available (and I’m not even at the end of the book yet).
The book officially released March 10th, 2020. I was fortunate enough to get an advanced copy that I’m currently working my way through. Look for the review next month on Mud Run Guide for a more detailed analysis and my thoughts on the book. If you are preparing for Death Race or similar type endurance events, you’re need a copy of the book as soon as possible. If you are looking for an interesting story written by someone who is pushing their limits then you’ll find this book interesting and perhaps can use his lessons learned to extend your own capability.
Now availble here: https://amzn.to/33aKAPC
All pictures from Tony Matesi's Facebook page.
|Posted by Strength & Speed on August 26, 2019 at 11:55 AM|
Two years ago I had never heard of Goodr sunglasses when I came across them stocked in a local running store. A year ago I didn’t know anyone that owned them until my podcast cohost Brenna “Red Beast” Calvert started buying pairs like she had stock in the company. Well after her constantly talking about them, I finally picked up a pair for a review. Here is what I thought of Goodr and if they live up to all the hype:
Style and Color: What caught my attention initially was their wide range of styles and fun names associated with each. As an Obstacle Course Racer (OCR), you’ll be able to find a pair that matches your favorite race series or team without issue. “This Is Sparta!!!! (it’s not)” is perfect for all the Spartan Sprint enthusiasts, “Falcor’s Fever Dream” or “Cryo-Crypt” are perfect for all the Savage Racers out there and the orange “Donkey Goggles” is great for all the Tough Mudder Legionnaires, just to name a few.
My former teammate used to get a haircut before every race because according to him when he looks good, he feels good and when he feels good, he races better. I’m less concerned about my hair, but I do agree with him on looking and feeling good to race better. Goodr gives you more color options than seem reasonable. In fact, you are probably going to have trouble just picking one color.
I went with “Gangrene Runner’s Toes” green to match my Conquer The Gauntlet Pro Team jersey, the red/black Mud Run Guide exclusive variant to match my #TeamAtomik race kit and “Swedish Meatball Hangover” to celebrate my two recent podium finishes at the 12 hour Toughest Mudder events. (The yellow/blue of those glasses match the leader’s bib, kind of like cyclists do at the Tour De France when they win a colored jersey.)
Fit: The glasses fit great on my head. For those with big heads or just like bigger glasses, Beast Goodr are their larger variants. I’ve been wearing them daily for my training runs and even at a couple of non-timed OCRs. They stay put without issue and I experienced no slipping making them perfect for wear as an athlete. In fact, most of the time I forgot I was even wearing sunglasses, which is the ultimate sign they fit and perform well.
Price: Here’s where most sunglasses companies lose my interest. They charge $100 or more for something I’ve been known to lose within the year. Goodr comes in at an extremely reasonable $25 for most pairs. This means I can buy a pair, or several, wear them for things like running or racing and not worry if I end up losing them.
Brand: Goodr markets itself as what I would describe as a “fun brand”. Their sunglasses are not only great but their marketing team ties them into a lifestyle that scream PARTY with fun names like “Whiskey Shots with Satan”, “Flamingos on a Booze Cruise” and “Kiss Me I’m S***faced”.
That’s not me. Not even close. I don’t drink anymore because I’m so fitness focused and there was a running joke at my job I “don’t like fun.”
Coworkers: “Hey Evan, we are going out to the bar after work.”
Me: “Cool, sounds like fun.”
Coworkers: You coming?
Me: Nope….I’m going to the gym (or going running).
I do like fun, my definition is just different and usually involves racing 8-24 hours through the night. However, I do like sunglasses that are stylish, functional and reasonably priced. Goodr hits a homerun in all three of these categories. While many people love the “lifestyle” aspect of a company (which I think most people will love Goodrs), I’m more concerned with practicality.
Overall: As an athlete do you really need sunglasses for training or racing? Yes, you do. Not wearing sunglasses means your face and eyes are tense/scrunched. You want to be relaxed in the rest of your body so you aren’t holding extra tension or wasting energy/effort. It’s the reason you often see elite marathon runners wearing sunglasses during their race.
Goodr does a great job with their glasses and they have locked me in as a fan. With so many styles and colors at such a reasonable price, I would add them to your purchase list as soon as possible. Some of their styles/colorways are limited edition (such as the “Not Your Grandma’s Couch” line and “The Empire Did Nothing Wrong” line) so you want to order them sooner rather than waiting for a far off birthday or holiday. For my Goodr glasses review, it’s an easy 5/5 stars.
|Posted by Strength & Speed on May 7, 2019 at 2:05 PM|
If you know Obstacle Course Racing (OCR), then you know MudGear. The brand with the best known, best performing and most stylish OCR sock recently expanded their lineup of products to include shorts. I picked up a pair for use both in the gym, on the trail and on the race course and here is what I thought:
Style: I absolutely love the style. They currently offer two color options, black or grey. Both look great but I went with the black since it tends to go better with the rest of my OCR wardrobe. I love the MudGear logo along the sides since it allows me to represent the brand associated with OCR clothing without me having to lift up my pants to show off my socks.
Each pair of shorts has three pockets: the two normal side ones and one in the back. I love this because it brings out the shorts versatility. If I’m running errands, or not using them for training, the side pockets are great for holding things like my wallet or my phone. If I want to take them on a long run, the back pocket has a zipper closure allowing you to carry several gels to fuel your training as well as my house/car key.
Fit: I normally wear size medium in most things and usually buy my pants in around a 32 inch waist despite my actual waist being smaller (I like a little extra room). I actually own two pairs of the MudGear shorts, a small and a medium. I fit into both comfortably without issue. The drawstring closure system on each pair allows them to fit a wide range of waists. I suspect even if I packed on a little bit of off-season/winter/bulking weight the shorts would still fit great.
Personally, the only difference I could see between the small and medium is the mobility in the legs. The mediums allow me to take long deep lunges easily without adjusting my shorts. I found the smalls a little more restrictive requiring me to pull up my shorts slightly. So if you are between sizes, I would go with the larger or if you are concerned about leg mobility. That being said, I still wear and train in the small shorts but if going for a long run, I make sure to put on the mediums pair.
Durability: I’ve only had the shorts for a couple of months. So they’ve only got a limited number of miles and wear on them. That being said I did use them for OCRmill 24 (a 24 hour treadmill run doing four obstacles at the end of every mile) and they still look brand new. I had no chaffing from them despite long hours of repetitive movement. The built in lining still fits and feels great.
It is rare to find my low cut MudGear socks or shorts in my house in the clean pile because it is the first thing I grab out of the laundry. Even with weekly use for the last couple of months the shorts still look brand new. I’ve had other shorts that I put through similar wear and tear and sometimes the brand logo wears off quickly. So far, so good with MudGear.
Price: As I write this, they are currently on sale for $33 making them a great pair of shorts for their price that is comparable to other big fitness brands. As with everything in life, you “vote” with your money. When given a choice, I like to support the brands that support my sport…and no one does that more than MudGear.
Performance: I typically only wear spandex/compression material for races, so I haven’t had the full pleasure of racing in these shorts. However, I have taken them through some rainy trail runs that are comparable to OCRs. They wick away moisture well and don’t absorb water weight even when it is raining. If you aren’t a spandex type of guy, I would put these at the top of your list for racing. The built in liner, the pockets for fuel, the moisture wicking and the overall comfort give you everything you need.
With the addition of shorts, you can now race in full MudGear from head to toe including socks, shorts, shirt, sleeves and even a hat. (Don’t forget to check out their race jerseys, which are the perfect thickness in my opinion. Thin enough to allow for ventilation and coverage of skin but still providing protection without causing overheating.)
Overall Review: Overall, I love the MudGear shorts. They are versatile enough to wear around the house, out for a day with the family, training at the gym, going for a run or running through an OCR. When a brand is focused on your sport the products are better suited for your needs. You’ll see me in them after every race once I change out of my wet race clothing. Join the MudGear movement and pick up a pair of MudGear shorts today!
Now available at www.MudGear.com
|Posted by Strength & Speed on January 15, 2019 at 10:25 AM|
Atomik Climbing Holds is a known leader in the world of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) holds and climbing. However, they recently expanded their line of products to include balance products. As someone who previously had balance issues in OCR (2016s inclusion of Z beam at Conquer The Gauntlet Wichita knocked me back into the middle of the elite field), I was curious to see what they had to offer. Atomik has two different versions with several difficulty levels for each.
The two versions are:
1) Two footed version
2) Single foot version
The two footed version comes in three difficulty levels (Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced). The single foot version only comes in two difficulty versions (Beginner and Advanced). I decided to go with the two footed Beginner, two footed Advanced and the single foot advanced. Design: The design is simple but clever. A flat top and a bulge at the bottom make them look like an upside down Bosu ball.
Durability: Atomik always has amazing durability. I've had many of my holds for years and treat them very poorly often dropping them from heights when changing out the holds on my rig (something I don't recommend doing). However, even with my poor treatment I've never had one break or crack. These balance trainers are made out of the same high quality material and still look brand new despite frequent use at home and in a Conquer Fitness ninja competition.
Choices: Atomik offers their full line of colors to choose from with an almost overwhelming number of options. Seriously, take a look at these color choices. Use: While I got them for myself, the person in my house that loves them the most is my four year old daughter. She calls them lily pads (I got green versions) and we will spend an hour crossing them, walking in a circle or trying to change positions without falling. They are so much fun and you can tell your spouse you bought them for the kids. (You're welcome.) We also used them as part of the Conquer The Gauntlet Pro Team takeover at the December event. They provided a nice change of pace and something different to members of the gym. The balance required to cross helped test full body instead of just grip strength.
Overall: The advanced models I am going to give a 5/5 stars. I love the challenge they present and the single foot/two foot variation make for different challenges. I've seen people use other homemade products for balance that are similar but I have also seen people roll their ankles badly on those homemade or lower cost solutions. Despite hours of playtime on these Atomik balance trainers, I've never rolled my ankle. I want to say the design makes it impossible, but I feel like someone will take that as a challenge. Regardless, I can't figure out how you would roll an ankle on these trainers. The beginner model was great for kids, people with very poor balance or if you were going to do other exercises on the trainer besides just walking across it.
They would be a 5/5 stars but for most of the people who read my website, they are probably more of a 3.5/5 stars, because you will find them too easy. I didn't get to test the intermediate model but I suspect based off the beginner and advanced that it works pretty well. However, my recommendation is to go with the two footed advanced, single foot advanced and if you want some more options pickup more single foot advanced models or a two footed intermediate. Every year watching ninja warrior many of the top athletes get knocked out early because of balance obstacles. Balance is just like any other skill, if you don't practice you won't get better at it. I'm just glad we have companies like Atomik to help us to continue to push our limits.
|Posted by Strength & Speed on November 19, 2018 at 5:50 PM|
When I say the word ultra-endurance to people they typically think skinny runner logging a ton of miles that probably can’t do a single pull-up. However, there is a world where you need ultra-endurance running capability combined with ultra-strength in your upper body, it is called Ultra-Obstacle Course Racing (Ultra-OCR). This is the world I train for, enjoy and thrive in.
Ultra-OCR usually involves running for a set period of time (usually 6, 8, 12 or 24 hours) on a course that is around five miles in length with around 20 obstacles. It is the big brother of OCR which usually runs between one and 13 miles of obstacles on a single lap course. In OCR and Ultra-OCR, sometimes the obstacles are very easy like crawling through this pipe, swimming across the body of water or going over a five foot wall. Other times the obstacles look like something out of ninja warrior with monkey bars, rotating wheels and hanging grips. Sometimes it involves strength like carrying a sandbag or turning a heavy crank attached to a several hundred pound sled, yet other times it tests your fears through things like ice baths, electricity and 40 foot cliff jumps.
These are the races I run and to prepare for them I train with weights. To effectively do obstacles for 8 or 24 hours, you need to overload your body with the progressive stress of weights. I use three main products in my training and used these extensively as I prepared for then completed the record setting 48 hour Ultra-OCR Endure The Gauntlet, a charity event that raised money for Folds of Honor (scholarship money for children whose parents were killed or wounded in US Military service).
1) Harbinger Big Grip Bar Grips: Grip strength is of paramount importance in OCR and Ultra-OCR so there is no better tool than Big Grip Bar Grips so you are working on grip strength with every single exercise. Anytime I touch a bar, my grips go on them. It ensures I am constantly stressing grip regardless of the exercise.
2) Harbinger Dip Belt: Too often athletes I train and work with will focus on bodyweight only exercises. While can be great for sport specific movements, it often leads to a plateau. Athletes will get better and once they reach a certain level they no longer have to adapt to get stronger. This is where the dip belt comes in and is great for things like dips or weighted pull-ups. The ability to add insane weights lets you overload the muscle. This is a feeling I know all too well after trying to cross a set of monkey bars for the 15th time after 18 hours of running/walking.
3) Harbinger Weight Vest: Besides the Big Grip Bar Grips, this is a staple of Ultra-OCR training. The extreme races require you to wear a wetsuit to prevent hypothermia. It is unfeasible to train in a wetsuit in most conditions. However, you can wear a weight vest for practicing obstacles with a similar amount of additional weight on your body. Whether you are doing hill repeats to strengthen the legs, climbing over a wall or crossing a rig, Harbinger’s weight vest with adjustable weights gives you the tools you need for success.
Strength training is not just for bodybuilders, powerlifters or strength athletes. It isn’t even just for Ultra-OCR athletes. Strength training is for all athletes. The strength and power developed from working with weights can fix imbalances, build bone density, increase testosterone and make you a better athlete in your chosen sport. Train hard and go out and crush your goals
|Posted by Strength & Speed on November 12, 2018 at 5:45 PM|
The world of ultra-endurance is growing with people wanted more than a marathon (26.2 miles) or more than a century (100 mile) bike ride. My sport is Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) and is no exception. Since 2011, athletes have been tackling events like the 24 hour long World’s Toughest Mudder and as of 2017 the CBS Televised 8 hour Toughest Mudder Series. The events require going over (usually) a 5 mile strength of land with around 20 obstacles. Some involve crawling, some hanging from your hands, others strength to carry or climb over a wall and sometimes they test your fears with things like a 40 ft. cliff jump.
I’ve been competing in endurance sports since 2003 with my first marathon followed in 2004 by my first (unofficial) ultra-marathon (a 40 mile unsupported run from Baltimore to Washington D.C.) and my first iron distance triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run). However, I didn’t find my true sport until 2014 when I raced my first Ultra-OCR, the 24 hour long World’s Toughest Mudder.
The distances covered in Ultra-OCR are a little lower than of a regular running course of the same length. The uneven terrain, the obstacles, the water crossings and often the extreme conditions requiring athletes to put on a wetsuit to prevent hypothermia slow your pace. However, I would argue the stress on the body can be greater. You are not just taxing your legs but your arms, your back muscles, your grip strength and putting your body through some terrible conditions including ice baths, swim crossings and adrenaline inducing cliff jumps. In 2014, after World’s Toughest Mudder, an especially windy and cold year, I had trouble controlling my body temperature for three days afterwards.
I go to the race every year and every year the hardest part is not the terrible conditions, sleep deprivation or exhaustion, it is the walk back to the car when my feet hurt more than anything. The course designers can do whatever they want to me, but when they make me walk a half mile back to the parking lot they break my spirit every year. This year is different though because I got my first pair of OOFOS.
OOFOS recovery sandals (and now shoes) are the best post-event purchase you can make. OOFOS feel good any day of the week and they feel better after a long training day/week. However, nothing can compare to putting on OOFOS after an ultra-endurance event. The shoes literally make me change my stride from “I can barely walk” to “I’m walking almost normal”. I’ve tested a lot of products from the fitness industry and there are few where you can feel the effect immediately, OOFOS is one of these products.
I’m skeptical of all new products and I was skeptical of OOFOS too. The first time I tried them on I’ll admit I did the stereotypical “ooo” that gives OOFOS its name. They are comfortable, there is absolutely no doubt there. However, the first time I put them on after one of my endurance events, it was life changing. They are now part of my race essential kit as much as my running shoes that I use on race day.
If you don’t own a pair of OOFOS, you need to order some today. Not even my post-cheat meal feels as good as OOFOS after a long event. The best part is you don’t have to run insane distances to get this feeling. It is available to anyone that pushes their body and wants to recover faster, whether that be 10k, 10 miles, 100 miles or just someone that spends a lot of time on their feet. Do yourself a favor and stop living in the past. OOFOS are the future of post-endurance recovery and that future is now.
|Posted by Strength & Speed on October 24, 2018 at 8:00 PM|
I’m an Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) athlete whose specialty is Ultra-OCR (events that are 5+ hours in length). Ultra-OCR usually involves running a five mile loop with around 20 obstacles for a given amount of time (usually 6, 8, 12 or 24 hour). The obstacles are sometimes easy like crawling under wire and other times really hard like something you might see on ninja warrior. While I’ve had a lot of success in Ultra-OCR including a top ten finish at the 24 hour long World’s Toughest Mudder in 2016 with 90 miles, three top 10 finishes at the CBS Televised 8 hour Toughest Mudder series and a 2nd place Team finish at 2017’s World’s Toughest Mudder, I really like to push limits with my own challenges.
In 2016, I went from permanent OCR facility to permanent OCR facility across the United States for a full week and ran almost a marathon on each one. Called OCR America, the event raised $3,500+ for the charity Folds of Honor (scholarship money for children whose parents were wounded or killed in military service). By the end of the week I ran 161 miles (averaging 23 miles a day), completed 1000+ obstacles and climbed 31000+ feet of elevation.
In 2017, I took on another challenge I created called Ultra-OCR Grand Slam, where I tried to do well in every OCR in the world. I ended up finishing 1st or 2nd at every 24 hour OCR in the USA (2nd Terrain Race 24, 1st Dirt Runner Midwest Mayhem, 1st* Shale Hell 24 and 2nd Team World’s Toughest Mudder). I even flew to Australia and finished 10th at True Grit Enduro 24.
In 2018, I knew I had to go big so I created a charity event called Endure The Gauntlet. The plan was to multi-lap the hardest OCR series in the US, on their hardest course (Tulsa), in one of the hottest months (August) for not just the longest amount of time but double that of the longest race. The 48 hour event would also raise money for the charity Folds of Honor. I finished this event just recently at the end of August after pushing myself to the absolute limit both physically and mentally covering 91 miles and destroying my hands.
While my body was devastated the day after I almost looked normal walking around thanks to OOFOS. Previously I have worn the OOFOS sandal post-event, but the OOFOS shoe takes things to the next level. With feet that were swollen, bruised and had tender spots in all sorts of weird places the soft upper felt great on my foot. The sandals would have worked too, but the shoe was even better. This soft top combined with the patented OOFOAM foot-bed make this the perfect post-event recovery option.
I can’t thank OOFOS enough for their support and how their product has changed my training and performance. During periods of heavy training I wear them to speed recovery so I can train again harder. Pre-event I wear them to maximize the effects of my taper. Post-event they are speeding my recovery so I’m ready to race again sooner.
You don’t have to go for a 48 hour ultra-endurance event to get their benefit. Anyone who spends a lot of time on their feet or just wants a comfortable pair of shoes will love OOFOS. Despite being the only endurance athlete in my family, my entire family now owns a pair. Do yourself and your feet a favor and say thank you by picking up a pair of OOFOS recovery shoes.
|Posted by Strength & Speed on January 14, 2018 at 10:50 AM|
Over Christmas I asked Santa for sandbags that I can use for my own training and for training clients. Santa was kind enough to bring me two models Brute Force Training bags, The Athlete and The Strongman bags. That being said, I paid for these bags and Santa was kind enough to wrap them for me then give them back. Now let’s get down to the good and bad of these bags
Price: I am not going to lie these things are expensive, at least on my budget they are. Right now as I am writing this review you can get the same to bags as I bought for $130 and $160 on the Brute Force web site. This seems expensive for an empty bag with handles and a couple of empty fill bags inside. However, when you compare this price to other sandbag type training tools on the market targeted towards Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) enthusiasts the price may be cheaper, depending on size. Also, with the Brute Force bag you control the weight inside. So as you get stronger you can make your bag heavier while other bags on the market will make you pay for another $130+ bag.
Durability/warranty: Each bag is made 100% in the U.S.A., which as a vet I find kind of cool. The bag itself is made from a similar material that military duffle bags are of. Which if you have seen of the abuse those bags get put through that should be an indicator of how tough these bags are. In case you do damage your bag Brute Force will repair the bag if it falls under their warranty, which covers “normal wear and tear, zipper issues, manufacturing defects and generally anything else (… ) within reason”. When you receive your bag included is a care sheet that outlines what you should and should not due with the bag in order to keep the bag in as good of shape as possible. Basically don’t drag it across rough jagged surfaces and don’t set it on fire (apparently someone did that).
Versatility: About the only thing I can’t do with these bags is max out on a lift, but I also didn’t buy the biggest bag. Furthermore, single rep max lifts are usually not the point of sandbag training. For most of us using sandbag training it is to get ready for a specific obstacle in an OCR race or to use the dynamic load as a different way of training as opposed to the static nature of barbells and dumbbells. I have yet to go truly heavy with my bags, but even with only 45lbs in the bag lifts like cleans and even curls take on a whole new aspect of core training. If you are unfamiliar with sandbags, basically think of the weight as a pendulum you now have to control and absorb as opposed to a barbell that provides a more rigid and controllable object.
One major difference between a Brute Force sandbag and others in the OCR world are the handles. And to be quite honest, the handles are one of the main reasons I went with these bags over others. Brute Force attaches not one, not two, but nine handles to their sandbags (unless you opt for the bag with none, but that’s your choice). Each set of handles is positioned to be able to give you a different grip for different lifts and exercises, which makes them a much more versatile tool in anyone’s workout regimen. As a certified personal trainer I feel that the handles make the bag much more beginner friendly. More handles lead to more exploration as to how to best use them. If you have a bag with only two straps coming off of the ends, it can be more difficult to find the best ways to use it. Also with all of those handles included on the standard bag you are saving money. Other bags will make you pay around $30 for an extra attachment that you have to configure yourself.
Lastly on the topic of versatility we have the load itself. As I talked about earlier you can put as little or as much weight in each bag as you want (each bag is rated for a certain range of weight). Which is a nice way of saying you have to go out, and put the sand in the bags yourself. If you want to buy the sand it is roughly $4 for a 50lbs bag of play sand. So for my 2 sandbags I used 4 of the included fill bags and 150lbs of sand for a whole $12. With those three bags I have four fill bags with 25, 35, 45 and a 55lbs respectively, this is where the true value of Brute Force bags comes in. I can load all of those bags up in my one Strongman bag and go get a killer workout, OR I can now use four different weights with my clients across a range of abilities and strengths. The fill bags take about 15 seconds to switch out.
In closing I am a HUGE fan of these sandbags. While yes the upfront cost is steep, the value of Brute Force Sandbags over other sandbags in the OCR market is astounding. Whether it is the ability to make the weight personalized, or the usefulness of the different handles Brute Force Sandbags are definitely my choice for sandbag training for OCR. Check out all of their gear at www.bruteforcetraining.com I don’t have a promo code to give you because this was not a sponsored review, I’m just a fan of their product.
(all images from Brute Force website and social media channels)
Jared Has a B.S. in Fitness & Wellness and is a Certified Personal Trainer. Jared was a college athlete competing in both soccer and track. Since beginning OCR in 2014 Jared has competed in numerous races, he qualified for OCR World Championships in 2016. Jared finished in the top 50 in the 30-34 age group on the OCRWC short course, he also completed the 15k standard course completing each obstacle and keeping his band. Jared is a member of Team Strength and Speed as well as the owner of JRen Fitness