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Trying to Do it ALL…Safely and Wisely

I don’t think you know how bad this hurts…

Let’s Talk about Goals

I’m sure during January you were assaulted by people talking about setting goals. I know I was. I may have even hit you with an email about getting your head right.

Today I want to talk about how my goals have changed over the years and then I want to hear about yours.

Like many of you that visit the site, the purpose of my training involves four main goal areas:

1. Build Strong Muscle

2. Burn Fat

3. Stay Healthy

4. Compete at a High Level

I took up serious training in the gym because I wanted to be strong
. I wanted to be like my grandfather who everyone has always told me was a very big and strong individual with a real “presence,” although I never got the chance to meet him. I wanted to grow to a very old age and always be in good health and never have to walk around with a cane.

I started out on the right foot, thinking about injury prevention and health just as much as the effort I was putting into getting bigger and stronger.

Then there came a time where Competing at a High Level ruled my training
. I constantly trained balls to the walls with very little consideration to my joints, connective tissues, etc. It became more important to me to constantly put up more weight, burn more calories, and stick in extra training time to get ahead of other individuals, especially when I was doing Strongman competitions routinely.

Unfortunately, this savage determination to constantly improve and get stronger began taking a toll on me and I started having more and more injuries. That is when I had to take a step back from Strongman, although I definitely loved the sport and am glad for everything I have experienced with the sport.

These days, my approach to training is much more like what it was when I first started training and I design my workouts to meet all four of the goals mentioned above.

One of the things I am trying to stay much more aware of in my training is Contra-Specific Training, or Antagonistic Balance. Essentially what I do is try to select exercises that will compliment one another by training opposing movement patterns.

For instance, because I have sat at desks and other workstations for my work over the course of the last 10 years or so, I now have a wonderful set of tight hip flexors and questionable posture. I don’t want my training to worsen the situation, so I choose my lifts wisely.

I am including a lot more conditioning in my workouts lately, and have found a pretty damn intense combination that is freaking awesome.

Contra Specific Hybrid Cardio – Sledge Hammer Slams with Kettlebell Snatches

As you will see, this combination hits all four of my goals.

1. Build Strong Muscle – Sledge Hammer Slams with the 20-lb Sledge (20 Reps) followed by Kettlebell Snatches with my 53-lber (20 Reps) – fairly heavy for the combination selected.

2. Burn Fat – The movements are done back to back with very little rest. Right-hand dominant Sledge Hammer Slams onto the tire followed by snatches for a set of 20 with the righthand. After a short rest, the same is done with the left hand.

3. Stay Healthy – Not withstanding the health benefits of the cardiovascular demands of the movement, these two movements are also contra specific (opposite movement patterns). The Snatches involve ankle, knee, and hip extension with shoulder flexion. Sledge Hammer Slams work the antagonistic movements of hip flexion, shoulder extension, etc. They compliment one another very well.

4. Compete at a High Level – This is also naturally a very Grip-dependent combination, plus I wear gloves which make the implement handles seem even thicker than normal. This is a great finisher to an otherwise already solid workout, but if you’re looking for a way to work the grip for endurance, this might be just what the doctor ordered for you.

Incidentally, this combination also helps me accomplish another goal, which is to spend more time outside in the fresh air. I tend to spend a lot of time stuck inside.

Going outside in the dark
is NOT something I am working on, but when you are as busy as I am sometimes you don’t get the chance to train until night time when the only light available is from the old and sickly 2001 Explorer in the driveway.

I love this combination and think you should try it out as well.

I will be bringing more combinations like this to you in the future as well as other beneficial resources.

So, speaking of goals what are your top 3 or 4 goals that surround your training? I’d be interested in hearing more from you guys about what makes you train the way you do.

Heck, when it comes right down to it, I haven’t heard from many of you in a long long time and I would like an update.

Drop a comment below and let me know what is motivating you in your training. I know your going to the gym and hitting the weights for some reason other than to pass time.

Now, leave a comment below and update me, or I’ll come after you with this chain-decked anvil, brother!!!!


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21 Responses to “Trying to Do it ALL…Safely and Wisely”

  1. K Greto Says:

    First off, Awesome goals, Jedd. Although I agree with you on the note of never ‘having’ to walk around with a cane, but I feel as though after 80 I’ll start walking around with a cane just for fun, epic life related designs all along the side and all.

    My top goals are (1) Master various bodyweight moves (right now top of the list are planch pushups, front lever pullups, slow muscleups, and parallelet handstand pushups) (2) Get better at Free Running/Parkour skills (a good amount of sprints, wall runs, and every flip and combination I can safely do) finally (3) Build an awesome physique complete with massive forearms and strength to back it up (of course all the while staying pain free and melting steel).

    I hope all is well; keep kicking butt and monster tires in the dark.

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  3. Troy Herr Says:

    Tremendous complex Jedd!!! This type of training is productive on many, many levels. Thanks for sharing and I wish you 70 more years of cane-free training like this.

  4. Eugene Says:

    !. One Arm Chin because I was always one of the few guys in school who had to do the flex arm hang for my fitness test in PE. Since then I have done a weighted chin with 105# at 165# BW. Now i am closer than ever to the feat. 2. BW overhead press, I realized sometime last year that this was a weakness in my training. Also I plateaued bad with handstand push ups so it was time for a change. 3. 2xbw deadlift, it’s just gotta happen. 4. Improve conditioning with various tools, mainly to assist my wing chun practice. Nice post as always Jedd, thanks for the continous flow of info.

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  6. Rick Walker Says:

    1) Health
    2) Fat loss (down to 213!!)
    3) Increase in cardio/gas tank
    4) Being Safe

    I still train heavy once a week with squats/benches or deadlifts/benches, and another day I do a ton of pull-ups, dips, etc. Outside of that, the lifting portion of my workouts has taken a back seat to the conditioning and getting my wind up.


  7. Jedd Johnson Grip Strength Training Says:

    Wow Rick, you’ve done a fantastic job. 213 – AWESOME! Thanks for posting.

  8. Jedd Johnson Grip Strength Training Says:

    Thanks for weighing in Gene. Been a while since I heard from you. Keep up the good work.

  9. Jedd Johnson Grip Strength Training Says:

    Thanks for stopping by Troy. Keep hitting it hard!

  10. Jedd Johnson Grip Strength Training Says:

    Parkour looks awesome. I have some flexibility issues to take care of before I start that stuff. I want to set up a Ninja Warrior / Parkout “arena” here in my back yard some day. Thanks for commenting.

  11. Iron Tamer Says:

    Great stuff Jedd.

    My primary goal is get my knee up to full speed. I have been limited by it for so long, I’m not even sure what that means, but the plan is to do what feels good while adding overload in some form, be it resistance, endurance, whatever while I am re-learning how to move.

  12. brent Says:

    interesting article. I’ve had a lot of lower back issues in the past. I can say that when I got away from all max efforts stuff and starting working on joint health and balance not only did I stay pain free I got a lot stronger.

  13. Logan Christopher Says:

    I just checked off a major goal I’ve been working on for a year which was breaking 300 snatches with the 24kg bell in 10 minutes. I used the sledge swings as a contra-specific movement too. The way I typically have been doing them is with just one hand though (lighter hammer of course). Have you tried one hand sledge swings Jedd?

    Plenty of other goals to hit now too.

  14. Rich Meyer Says:

    My current goals are to recondition my knees ankle and a nagging shoulder, build more grip strength to help keep me injury free while at work, and to lose some weight and get healthier to get my blood pressure in check. Thanks for all the info and inspiration Jedd.

  15. Justin Hembree Says:


    My story is pretty much the same as yours, I sacrificed my back for getting bigger and stronger years of heavy squats deadlifts and bench left me with some pretty nasty injuries. now my goals are
    1. Flexibility and Mobility training (Foam rolling)
    2. Strength-using lifts through multiple planes of motion (sandbags,Kettlebells,supsended training odd objects and some classic Bench Deadlift and squat
    3. Get my NASM cert as well as other certs and go to every seminar I can get my hands on.
    4. Last but not least build character and a lifestyle that I can pass on to my children and generations to come.

    Thanks for all your wisdom,hard work and time.
    May GOD bless all you do.

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  17. Jedd Johnson Grip Strength Training Says:

    Yes, I have done them. Very fun, but I usually do them in the summer when it is warmer. They are very tough to do with a 20-lber, but the hard is what makes it great. They are slower however, and I wanted to try to pack density into this combo.

    Fantastic work on the 300 in 10 minutes.


  18. Jedd Johnson Grip Strength Training Says:

    Keep up the good work, Rich.

  19. Jim Smith Says:

    Great aspirations man. Way to continue learning!

  20. Michael H Says:

    I do not have too many long term goals yet, but with your help (blog posts) I am slowly finding more ways to increase my overall health and fitness.

    1. Increase my overall health and diet. I no longer eat or drink anything that would not be found in nature at least for the most part. After slowly cutting out one thing at a time, it has become very easy to say no to desserts (at least most desserts), sodas, and sugar.

    2. Reach an advanced level of hand balancing along with other advanced bodweight exercises. Bob Hoffman wrote a book about hand balancing, which is a great read and I would definitely recommend reading it.

    3. Increase my overall strength and muscle mass. This includes heavy barbell, dumbbell, sandbag and bodyweight exercises.

    4. Increase my endurance in running, weight training, jump rope and most especially breathing squats (20+ reps).

    Eventually my long term goals will change, but for now that’s what it is.

  21. Ben Edwards Says:

    Great work Jedd! Loved your latest blob lifting video man.

    My 2011 goals are:

    -Keep my lower back healthy and injury-free

    -Drop weight to the 198lb weight class for USAWA comps (currently at 218lbs)

    -Reverse bend the Red Nail

    -Get my gripper strength back on track and headed up again

    Ben Edwards

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