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Mahler's Aggressive Strength Q&A - Part Two.

This month you will find out what bodyweight drills to do when you are away from the gym, how to spice up your cardio, how to increase your bench press and all about Charles Staley's EDT secrets...

[ Q ] I am stationed overseas and do not have access to any training equipment, what bodyweight drills do you recommend to stay in shape?

    Thanks in advance for your service to our country. I would recommend the following bodyweight drills for strength:

    Handstand Pushup: Kick into a handstand against a wall. Looking straight ahead, lower yourself slowly to the floor until the top of your head touches the floor. Pause for a second and press yourself back up to the starting position. This is an excellent drill that many of the old time strongmen such as Sig Klein and John Grimek used to build huge shoulders. If you cannot complete one rep, then do static holds and work on the negative portion.

    One-legged Squat: Standing on one leg, hold the other leg in front of you and lower yourself slowly to the bottom position. Pause for a second and rise. If you have never done this before you will find it very challenging. See my article on "The Stair-step approach to One-legged squats" to work into them. This is also an excellent drill for addressing imbalances, as you will find that one leg is stronger than the other.

    Glute/ham raise: Kneel on the floor and place a towel under your knees. Have a friend hold your feet. Now lower yourself forward slowly. Keep your hands out in front of you to avoid having your face crash into the floor. Flex your hamstrings as hard as possible to control the descent. Once your hands touch the floor reverse the movement. This is very hard drill so feel free to use your hands to press off of the floor and build up from there.

    Headstand Leg Raise: This is a killer core exercise that I picked up from 5 time UFC champ Frank Shamrock. Place the top of your head on the floor and place your hands out in front of you for balance. Flex your midsection, and slowly raise your legs off of the floor until you are in a headstand. Pause for a second and then slowly lower your feet back to the floor. Keep your legs straight at all times.

    Door Pull-ups: Place a towel over the top of a door and pull yourself up along the door.

    Janda Sit-ups: These look just like regular sit-ups. However, you can only flex your butt and stomach to complete a rep and your feet must stay in touch with the floor at all times. Nevertheless, you cannot push your feet into the floor forcefully. Do these at a slow and controlled pace. No momentum or jerking.

[ Q ] I hate most forms of cardio such as riding exercise bikes, jogging on a treadmill, and using the stair climber. Is there anything that you can recommend that is more effective?

    I am with you and fortunately there are many effective alternatives. One that has some impressive research is the Tabata Protocol? Dr. Tabata found that high intensity aerobic training is much more effective for burning fat, increasing aerobic performance, and anaerobic performance. Moreover, four minutes of the protocol that Dr. Tabata uses is just as effective as forty-five minutes of moderate aerobic exercise!

    The Tabata method calls for twenty seconds of all out effort, followed by ten seconds of moderate cardio. Go back and forth for four minutes. Work up to twenty minutes and you will be a ripped machine. You can apply the Tabata Protocol to virtually any form of moderate cardio so be creative.

    I have many clients that apply the Tabata protocol to jump roping with excellent results. You can even use it with heavy bag training. Go all out on the bad for 20 seconds and then jump in place for ten seconds, then go all out on the heavy bag for 20 seconds etc.

[ Q ] My bench press has been going nowhere for some time. What can I do to blast through this plateau?

    There are many factors that could be contributing to your lack of progress. In my response, I am going to assume that your diet and sleep are adequate.

    Many trainees tend to bounce the bar off of their chest when benching and as a result are very week in the bottom portion of the lift. If that is something that you are doing, try doing bottom position bench presses in a power rack. Set the pins and safety bars at chest level and start from there.

    Start off light, as you will be surprised how weak you are when you do not benefit from the eccentric loading of a standard bench press. You cannot cheat on this drill. All that you can do is lie back and press. To initiate the press, take a tip from legendary powerlifting coach Louie Simmons and imagine that you are pressing yourself through the floor.

    Do the bottom position bench press once a week and on your other bench day, do regular bench presses. Just make sure to pause for a second at the bottom to take rebounding and sloppy form out of the equation. Do six sets of 2-4 on the bottom position bench press.

    Another factor to look at are your lats. Are you doing any bent over rows? If so, how do your numbers compare to your bench press? If your lats are weak you will not have a firm foundation to press off of. Make sure that you are spending some time doing bent over rows and weighted pull-ups to build the lats and back.

[ Q ] I noticed that you are a big fan of Charles Staley's EDT program. I have heard that it works well for increasing size, but what about strength?

    Yes, EDT is a great training protocol and I have used it myself many times with excellent results. Moreover, many of my clients use EDT programs and love the results. You will certainly get stronger with EDT. Recently one of my clients put 20lbs on his bench press in four weeks using an EDT program that I designed for him. Check out my articles on EDT here at

    Also, visit Charles Staley's website at for more info on EDT.

That is all for this week. Do you have a question? Email Mike at

About The Author

Mike Mahler is a strength and conditioning coach based in Santa Monica, CA. Mike has been a strength athlete for over ten years and is a Senior level certified kettlebell instructor. The Senior level classification means that Mike has assisted in certifying aspiring kettlebell instructors. Mike has done over twenty-five kettlebell workshops in the past year across the US and overseas in London, England. Mike is considered by many to be the most experienced kettlebell instructor in the US.

In addition to working with athletes around the world, Mike has two regular columns in Fightscene Magazine. Also, Mike has written over sixty articles and is a regular contributor to: Hardcore Muscle Magazine, Testosterone Magazine,Ironman Magazine, Ironman Magazine Japan, and Exercise Magazine For Men.

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