Become The Strongest Version Of Yourself With Strength Camp

Strength Camp was one of the early leading lights of YouTube fitness, and almost decade later it's still going, well, strong! Get to know its founder, Elliot Hulse!

What is strength? Ask 10 different people what strength means to them, and you'll get 10 different answers. For some, it's the physical grind that makes heavy things eventually feel light. For others, it's being able to make a difficult decision and stick with it or face down a pervasive negative thought or emotional challenge.

Ask Elliot Hulse, the founder of the YouTube fitness sensation Strength Camp, and he'll unload an answer that makes you realize just how big, important, and multifaceted strength is. He's helped millions of loyal viewers become the strongest version of themselves since all the way back in 2007.

In that time, countless YouTube fitness personalities have come and gone, but for many, Strength Camp is the standard against which they're all measured.

Elliott Hulse's Strength Camp
Watch the video - 0:30



He practices what he preaches, too. When it comes time to train, Elliot beats the shit out of weights—and Atlas stones and tires and prowlers.

I reached out to Elliot between the launch of the new book he wrote with Chris Barnard, "King: The IV-Layer Approach to Becoming the Strongest Version of Yourself." (Full disclosure: I helped edit the book), production of his numerous videos, and domination in the weight room to talk about Strength Camp and what it means to live a stronger life.

Q

Bodybuilding.com's motto is "Become Your Best Self." For Strength Camp, what does it mean to "Become the Strongest Version of Yourself?"

When I say "grow stronger," it doesn't mean you're going to deadlift more weight necessarily. It means your character is expanding; your health, your mental health, your relationships, your career—all these things add to the development of your strength. When I work with clients, customers, and YouTube viewers, the message is that strength is holistic.

How Strength Saved My Life
Watch the video - 5:28



What do you mean by "holistic" health?

I like to say, "Your body is your mind." It means that we must care for our bodies with the understanding that doing so affects our characters, our psychology, and our physiology. Our muscles and organs stem from our root system, which is made up of our brain and central nervous system.

We all do a good job separating mind and body. But I think we need to get in touch with the intelligence of our bodies and understand how our activities, our exercises, our food, and our lifestyles affect our mind-body connection.

When I first took a holistic approach to fitness, I had to get in touch with aspects of my own fitness that were lacking. In my case, I took a year-long hiatus from strength training and went into yoga and meditation. I am now attempting to balance the development of my physical strength in the gym with what I would call "working in." As opposed to working out, working in is "the inside of the exercise program," like foam rolling, corrective stretching, meditation, and yoga.

In action, this means that if I spend three hours a week strength training, I'll balance that with 3-4 hours of corrective work, mobilization, and meditation. In my videos, I often talk about this "working in" as being "tender aggressive." Essentially, it means balancing aggressive training with treating your body tenderly by getting to bed on time, getting massaged, foam rolling, stretching, deep breathing, and meditating.

The Tender Aggressive Man (real power)
Watch the video - 9:15



These are interesting ideas. Who influenced you in this way of thinking?

It's a very eastern idea. I first heard about it from Alan Watts, an Eastern philosophy scholar who spent decades living in parts of China, India, and Japan. I must've been about 18 years old when I first listened to his talks on Napster, and he often talked about this connection between what we believe to be our physical body and its affect on our mind.

For instance, if I need to think better, I need to relax the muscles in my face as opposed to contracting them. In fact, I should relax the muscles in my pelvic floor, my chest, and my neck so that my own thoughts can easily arise out of the "softness" of my relaxed body instead of me trying to force it out like I would with a bench press.

The mind-body connection can seem so abstract. How do you help people incorporate it into their fitness?

If you consider that your mind is your body, then the first thing you would ideally do is develop a program that improves your own structural integrity. I want my joints to be healthy and well-aligned. I want any muscular imbalances from injury, poor posture, and poor habits to be resolved. I want my posture to be lined up because I believe that if my body is lined up, my mind will be too.

At this point in time, there are thousands of fitness YouTube channels. What continues to separate Strength Camp from the rest?

We take a holistic approach to fitness, lifestyle, life mastery, physiology, and spirituality. Strength Camp began as just me being in my garage gym and recording videos, and I've been writing e-books since 2006.

Just yesterday, in fact, I looked at my first e-books. Back then, I was already writing about visualization, meditation, mindset, and physiology. So, from the very beginning, the message has been clear: We are about becoming the strongest version of ourselves in every aspect. And through our gym and platform, we empower others to achieve that in their lives.

When Bodybuilding Meets Strongman ft. Elliott Hulse & Kali Muscle
Watch the video - 2:59



You're also a strongman competitor. How do you find the time to run this business while still being able to train so intensely?

A big part of the approach is recognizing that communication for business is very important, so we create time to exercise and meet together, usually first thing in the morning. Our business meetings from the beginning have been with a barbell, under a barbell, or walking by the bay early in the morning. They're the best times for us to collaborate and plan our vision.

What kind of mantra or personal philosophy helps you push through your grueling workouts?

One of our most popular videos on YouTube is called the "Transcendent Rep," and that encapsulates our training philosophy. We attack our workouts by keeping in mind that how you train is more important than what you train.

It's a matter of building character. Whether or not you get the next repetition because it looks good on paper matters less than "Can you dig deep into the reserves of your soul to execute this physical activity right here, right now, even if it means you passing out?"

The Transcendent Rep
Watch the video - 3:16



Some people might say you go too hard and will regret it later. How do you weigh the risk versus reward in your training?

If we're trying to avoid mistakes, I'd say that we're in the wrong place. In the big scheme of things, they're all lessons, and they all contribute to one's wholeness.

As we get older, a lot of people start having shame and guilt for their youth, but to that I say, "Fuck, no." I've torn my biceps before, and I can look at that as a mistake for going too hard. But if I had to tear my biceps again, I would do it, because my popping of the biceps—and my ego—helped give birth to the YouTube sensation that Strength Camp became. Many books and products I've created could not have happened had I not pushed myself that hard and destroyed my body in that way.

Go make mistakes, scrape your knees, go too far, do a little too much, because you're going to learn something about yourself. You're going to expose parts of yourself that you didn't know were there, and if you're objective enough, you'll use that experience to springboard you into what would be a better or stronger version of yourself.


Check out Strength Camp's newest book, "King: The IV-Layer Approach to Becoming the Strongest Version of Yourself." Order Now!

What does a sample week of your training look like?

Day 1: Lower Body

Warm-up

Superset
1

Romanian Deadlift

5 sets of 5 reps
Romanian Deadlift Romanian Deadlift

Back Squat

5 sets of 5 reps
Barbell Squat Barbell Squat
Note:Use light weight for activation.

Strength

2

Deadlift

4 sets of 6 reps
Barbell Deadlift Barbell Deadlift

3

Goblet Squat

4 sets of 6 reps
Goblet Squat Goblet Squat

Superset
4

Dumbbell Step-Up

3 sets of 6 reps per leg
Dumbbell Step Ups Dumbbell Step Ups

Band Hamstring Curl

3 sets of 12 reps
Seated Band Hamstring Curl Seated Band Hamstring Curl

Superset
5

Leg Lift

4 sets of 10 reps
Leg Lift Leg Lift

Seated Twist

4 sets of 20 reps
Seated Barbell Twist Seated Barbell Twist

Day 2: Upper Body

Warm-up

Triset
1

Band dislocates

3 sets of 10 reps
Band dislocates Band dislocates

Band Pull-Apart

3 sets of 10 reps
Band Pull Apart Band Pull Apart

Band face-pull

3 sets of 10 reps
Band face-pull Band face-pull

2

Plank walk-out

2 sets of 20 reps
Plank walk-out Plank walk-out

Strength

3

Bench Press

4 sets of 6 reps
Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip

4

Lat Pull-down

4 sets of 6 reps
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

Superset
5

Barbell skullcrusher

3 sets of 12 reps
Lying Triceps Press Lying Triceps Press

Rope Extension

3 sets of 20 reps
Triceps Overhead Extension with Rope Triceps Overhead Extension with Rope

6

Push-up

3 sets for 1 min.
Pushups Pushups

Day 3: Lower Body

Warm-up

1

Wall Squat Stretch

2 sets of 30 sec. each
Wall Squat Wall Squat

Triset
2

Squat (Toe-raised)

3 sets of 10 reps
Barbell Squat Barbell Squat

Band Hip Activation

3 sets of 20 reps each direction
Band Hip Adductions Band Hip Adductions

Reverse Lunge

3 sets of 5 reps per leg
Dumbbell Rear Lunge Dumbbell Rear Lunge

Strength

3

Front Squat

4 sets of 6 reps
Front Barbell Squat Front Barbell Squat

4

Romanian Deadlift

4 sets of 6 reps
Romanian Deadlift Romanian Deadlift

Superset
5

Walking Lunge

3 sets of 8 reps per leg
Bodyweight Walking Lunge Bodyweight Walking Lunge

Exercise-Ball Leg Curl

3 sets of 12 reps
Ball Leg Curl Ball Leg Curl

6

Wood Chop

4 sets of 8 reps each direction
Standing Cable Wood Chop Standing Cable Wood Chop

Day 4: Upper Body

Warm-up

1

Corrective neck stretch

2 sets of 10 sec. each way
Corrective neck stretch Corrective neck stretch

Triset
2

Bent-over Plate Press (shown lying down)

2 sets of 15 reps
Lying Face Down Plate Neck Resistance Lying Face Down Plate Neck Resistance

Seated plate external rotation (shown lying with dumbbell)

2 sets of 10 reps
External Rotation External Rotation

Front Plate Raise

2 sets of 20 reps
Front Plate Raise Front Plate Raise

Strength

3

Overhead Press

4 sets of 6 reps
Standing Military Press Standing Military Press

4

Bent-Over Barbell Row

4 sets of 6 reps
Bent Over Barbell Row Bent Over Barbell Row

Superset
5

Incline Dumbbell Press

4 sets of 10 reps
Incline Dumbbell Press Incline Dumbbell Press

ITY

4 sets of 5 reps each
ITY ITY

Superset
6

Dumbbell Hammer Curl

3 sets of 10 reps
Hammer Curls Hammer Curls

Barbell Curl

3 sets to failure
Barbell Curl Barbell Curl

7

Lateral raise triple dropset

2 sets of 10, 10, 10 reps
Side Lateral Raise Side Lateral Raise