Your Name is Sue

Sometimes you've gotta toughen up and learn not to feel. No worries, no pain. In the zone.

Sure, there's pain all right. And worries? We've all got 'em. But that's what training is for: to take the worries and pain out of your life by forcing your mind and body to work at their peak, even in the face of the most grueling workout.

A paradox? Hell no!

You see, the difference between a champion and a loser is in the mindset. Champions welcome pain. Losers avoid it at all costs. Champions seek out challenges. Losers have an aversion to challenges. A champion embraces grueling workouts that push his mind and willpower to the brink. A loser sits quietly on a leg extension machine and reads the latest issue of Us magazine.

Life is all about pain and challenges. What many people don't think about though is the theory of relativity and how it relates to success. I'm not talking about Einstein's relatively theory. I'm talking about the fitness theory of relativity.

Fitness Relativity

I've been fortunate to work with some über successful people in my life. People who had nothing more than the clothes on their backs and $40 in their pockets that transcended the gap between pauper and multi-millionaires. A private jet, a mansion on the beach in Southern California, a mansion in Bali, and at least seven figures sitting in a savings account. You get the idea.

Over the years I've noticed a key personality trait with these clients of mine, a trait I've witnessed so many times that I can't help but consider it fact:

What does that tell me? It tells me there's a positive correlation between one who seeks challenge and his ultimate success. The person who seeks challenges is more successful than the person who doesn't, period.

Give me three middle-aged men and I'll take them through a grueling workout. At the end of the session I'll be able to tell you which guy has the most successful career and life. When a person is used to overcoming challenges, such as a nauseating and mentally draining workout, he becomes more apt at overcoming other challenges in life.

In essence, a challenge in life becomes much less of a challenge when you're used to pushing yourself in the gym. I call this the Fitness Theory of Relativity.

Change Your Name to Sue

The irreverent and unorthodox genius, Shel Silverstein, understood what I'm talking about. In his classic musical tale, "A Boy Named Sue," popularized by the late Johnny Cash, Silverstein describes the acrimonious life of a boy after his father changed his name to Sue.

The father changed his son's name to Sue so he'd be forced to live a childhood filled with ridicule and turmoil. His father did the right thing. In the end, "Sue" became tougher than leather because of what he had to go through by living with a name not suited for any normal boy. "His fists got hard and his wits got keen," the tale goes.

So that's what brings me to this article. I'm gonna lay out a few different workouts that you should drop into your current training plan whenever you feel like you need a challenge that'll put your lifelong goals in perspective. And, of course, you'll gain muscle and lose fat along the way.


Bloody Complexes

Out of all the training methods I've used over the years, none is as challenging as a well-designed complex. What's a complex? It's a series of movements, usually on the order of 6-10, with no rest between each movement. In essence, you'll pick up a barbell or a pair of dumbbells and you won't put the weight down until all movements are finished.

You'll spit, cuss, and scream, for sure. But complexes will make you tougher than hell and they'll transform your body. So it should be no surprise that I favor complexes for all the fighters I train. Here are two examples:

Bloody Barbell Complex

Overhead squat for 10 reps

Hang clean for 10 reps

Standing military press for 10 reps

Bentover row for 10 reps

Lunge for 10 reps on each leg

Romanian deadlift for 20 reps

Front squat for 10 reps

Standing calf raise (barbell across upper back) for 30 reps

Bloody Dumbbell Complex

Standing hammer curl for 5 reps

Standing alternating shoulder press for 10 reps with each arm

Forward lunge for 10 reps with each leg

Bentover alternating row for 10 reps with each arm

Reverse lunge with overhead press (palms facing each other) for 10 reps with each leg

Romanian deadlift for 20 reps

Standing calf raise (arms hanging at sides) for 30 reps

Loading: For the barbell complex, start with an unloaded bar. From there, increase the load in 10 pound increments (a five pound plate on each side) until you find a load that challenges you from start to finish.

For the dumbbell complex, I start the series with a five repetition maximum standing hammer curl for good reason: a load that represents your 5RM for the hammer curl is usually a good starting point for this dumbbell complex.

Total Body Exercises

I've preached it. I've hemmed and hawed, too. And I've definitely done a bit of hand waving. I like total body workouts.

What I'm talking about is a workout that comprises each of the following movements: a compound upper body pulling exercise, a compound upper body pressing exercise, and a compound lower body exercise. Think dips, chins, and squats. Or push-ups, rows, and deadlifts. Nevertheless, in some circumstances total body lifts are even more beneficial.

What's a total body lift? It's a series of movements, usually three or four, that trains scores of different muscles. Total body lifts are similar to complexes since both usually revolve around compound movements. However, when you do a total body lift the movement changes with each rep. I'll explain.

With a complex, you might perform 10 front squats, followed by 10 military presses, followed by 10 Romanian deadlifts, followed by 10 hang cleans. With a total body lift, using those same four movements, you simply perform one front squat, followed by one military press, followed by one Romanian deadlift, followed by one hang clean. This constitutes one repetition of a total body lift.

For those short on time, or for those just wanting a change of pace, total body lifts can really hit the majority of your major muscle groups with just one exercise. And they're great for fat loss because they really boost your anaerobic endurance. Here are two examples:

RSL Lift: Romanian Deadlift/Split Snatch/Lunge

I give credit to Alwyn Cosgrove for turning me on to this ass-kicking total body exercise, and for turning me on to total body lifts in general.

Description: Grab a pair of dumbbells that are light enough to split snatch. First, perform a Romanian deadlift, then a split snatch, then you'll finally drop down into a lunge before returning to the starting position. For the next repetition, switch your feet (stance) during the split snatch and lunge. In essence, you'll have your right foot forward for the first rep, your left foot forward for the second rep.

Here's how it looks:

FMDH Lift: Front Squat / Military Press / Deadlift / Hang Clean

With regard to all of the total body lifts that I've come up with, this is my favorite since it challenges so many different muscle groups and motor patterns.

Description: Load a barbell with enough weight to military press 10 times. Start with one front squat, then perform one military press, followed by one deadlift, followed by one hang clean. The transitions between each movement flows like fine wine so be sure to use this total body lift whenever you have time, or whenever you're short on time.

The Hang Clean

Total Body Blitzkrieg

Remember when I said I really like total body workouts? Well, I wasn't kidding. I've come up with a workout that's so thorough, but so damn tough, that most people don't have the mettle to handle the pain.

Are you tough enough? Let's see.

A few years ago, I was posed with a challenge. One day a military bad-ass that I was working with asked me to take him through the most intense workout he'd every experienced. So I put together the following circuit. I only allowed him 20-30 seconds rest between each movement, just enough time to take a few breaths and walk over to the next exercise. Here's how it looked:

He did it. Then he threw up. Then he wiped the puke from the side of his mouth and shook my hand. It was a teary moment, indeed.

Putting it All Together

Up to this point, I've mentioned a handful of different workouts that'll challenge your overall fitness, psychological resilience, and willingness to try something new — something grueling. But here's your real challenge, if you dare accept it.

For one week, I want you to put each of the three aforementioned methods into your weeklong plan. This article contains every workout you'll need for next week. Here's how it should look:


Bloody Barbell Complex
Rest 2 minutes
Bloody Dumbbell Complex
Rest 2 minutes
Bloody Barbell Complex
Rest 3 minutes
Bloody Dumbbell Complex
You're Done

DAY 2 — Off


RSL for 12 reps (6 reps with each leg forward)
Rest 1 minute
FMDH Lift for 12 reps
Rest 1 minute
RSL for 10 reps
Rest 2 minutes
FMDH for 10 reps
Rest 2 minutes
RSL for 8 reps
Rest 2 minutes
FMDH for 8 reps
Rest 2 minutes
RSL for 8 reps
Rest 1 minute
FMDH for 8 reps

DAY 4 — Off


Total Body Blitzkrieg

DAYS 6 and 7 — Off


Return to your regularly scheduled workout plan. Hell Week is over.

Final Words

These workouts will toughen you up. Soon you'll be swaggering your way through life. Women, money, and fame are all sure to follow if you welcome challenges... and overcome them.

These workouts will transform your body and mind. Soon, people will be calling you Sue.