How An Often-Ignored Training Strategy Can Improve Your Fitness Results Overnight

The Often-Ignored “Killer App” Strategy That Every Great Fitness Coach Knows About (But The Gurus Hate And Fear) That Can Rapidly Improve Your Fitness Results Overnight Just By Making One Tiny Change To Your Exercise Program

I’m about to show you how to get extremely fit with a workout strategy the fitness gurus don’t want me to talk about. In fact, a lot of them fear what I’m about to share with you here. And the truth is that this is no secret, and every great fitness coach or strength and conditioning specialist knows exactly what I’m about to show you. But there are some out there in the fitness world – and many of the big Whigs – who don’t like when this little issue pops up and shows them to be the biased frauds that they really are (charming as they may be).

Regardless, I’ve found that from some of the cultural brainwashing that has taken place in the fitness industry, a lot of people just don’t know about or use this strategy. And it’s a real shame because it can literally skyrocket your results from making the most basic changes in your program. So, if you’re willing to make one tiny change to your exercise program, using ANY type of equipment, and you’re willing to research and apply the killer app strategy, then I can practically guarantee you’ll experience much better results in your training program immediately.

soldiers exercising

Discover The Best Exercises For The Equipment You Have On Hand With The Killer App Strategy

You know what? You can do a whole lot of different things with just one straight barbell and a stack of weight plates. And if you make it a dumbbell, a lot more possibilities open up. There’s just a huge variety of exercises that one can perform with one adjustable dumbbell. And heck, while we’re at it, I’ll raise ya another one! Give me just one kettlebell and I’ll show you an entire galaxy of exercises you can perform with it. And the same goes for other training tools like clubbells, sandbags, gymnastics rings, and parallettes, just to name a few. And let’s not forget about the entire bodyweight training UNIVERSE just waiting to be explored. To infinity and beyond, as the old saying goes.

Seriously, there are some really versatile training tools and methods out there. I mean, you practically have a whole gym available to you if you’ve got one appropriately-weighted kettlebell or clubbell. And you could spend a lifetime using it and not look back. And nothing – I repeat – NOTHING is more versatile than using your own body for strength training and fitness purposes. You can do calisthenics, gymnastics, strength training, natural movement training (e.g. MovNat, parkour, etc.), tumbling and other groundwork, yoga, and any other host of activities that require little or no equipment whatsoever. There is just an endless sea of possibilities and options out there for the taking – and that’s a good thing.

But I want to take this opportunity to discuss a little more, shall we say, advanced training strategy – that really isn’t all that advanced at all. And once you understand it, you’ll probably wonder why you haven’t been doing this all along.

That little strategy involves identifying and applying the killer app of any and every exercise tool.  So, what is the killer app?

Well, a few months ago, I posted an interview with Dan John (ie the legendary strength coach). In it, the topic came up of identifying the killer application with each piece of training equipment we use. The killer application can be best described as the best way to use any given exercise tool for training purposes. For example, you wouldn’t use a medicine ball for maximum strength development. Obviously, they just aren’t made for that. However, you would use a medicine ball for activities like throwing and catching for training power generation and for force transfer purposes (e.g. training acceleration and deceleration movements). That would be an example of applying the killer app strategy.

So, you simply identify what any given tool is best-suited for and then use it primarily for that purpose. This is why some people almost always get great results no matter what exercise equipment they use. And if you apply the killer app strategy, then you can be one of those people, too.

7 Killer Apps For Common Exercise Tools

Here are seven examples of the killer app strategy as applied to various types of exercise equipment…

Note: these are my opinions, of course. Feel free to disagree.

Barbells – Let’s be honest here. Barbells were created for heavy weightlifting and maximum strength development. Period. So, I’m sorry, but if you’re doing wrist curls and standing barbell twists, then while you’re very creative, you’re just not using the killer app strategy with your handy-dandy barbell. OK, you’re right. I’m not sorry. Again, barbells were primarily created for heavy weightlifting, and this is where they shine. So, using them to perform heavy lifts should be your priority. I’d start with exercises like squats and deadlifts, of which there are many varieties, and work my way down the list to presses, rows, the Olympic lifts, etc.

female weightlifter

Clubbells – Now, let’s get one thing straight. I love clubbells – absolutely love ’em. And I use them regularly, and have for several years now (you can find proof all over this website, if you don’t believe me). But contrary to what some people may say about them, they aren’t the holy grail of all exercise equipment. And no, they won’t magically morph you into a fitness demi-god like some have claimed. That said, they are a superb training tool for a lot of reasons, and they tend to excel in… wait for it… swinging movements. I know, this is really deep stuff. But seriously, there are a lot of movements that are best trained using a swinging motion (like side hip snap, for example). And an exercise like the clubbell hammer swing is a superb choice for that purpose – and many others. My other go-to choices would include swipes, mills, and hammer swings (and their building blocks), and the various casts (e.g. Gama casts, arm casts, shoulder casts, shield casts, etc.) – and probably a few others I’m neglecting to mention.

It’s true that you can use a clubbell for a ton of purposes (even more than a kettlebell, if you can believe it), but it only truly excels in a more narrow criteria. but suffice to say, the clubbell fills a very specific gap in the realm of fitness, and it fills it quite well. This is a 3-dimensional, full body, strength-endurance tool first, and it goes without saying that it’s particularly effective for developing grip strength, too. There’s a lot more info about clubbells in my review here: Clubbell Review.

Oh, heck. I’ll throw in a few more examples. Clubbells are one of my personal favorites, after all. Clockworks squats, barbarian squats and lunges, and many of the spinal yawing exercises (ie transverse plane rotation) are all superb choices, too.

Dumbbells – Presses and rows are the way to go with dumbbells (e.g. bent-over rows, overhead presses, bench presses, etc.). If you’ve got heavy enough dumbbells, then I might also add loaded carries to the list, too (e.g. farmer walks, waiter walks, etc.). It’s true that you can do presses and rows with other equipment like kettlebells and sandbags, but the dumbbell is the king of these exercises for reasons similar to those contained in the barbell section.

Note: I think everyone who does any training at home should seriously consider investing in a set of quality adjustable dumbbells. They are a highly-underrated training tool.

Exercise machines – I tend to hate on exercise machines a lot, but that’s not to say they don’t have value. And in fact, they do offer a unique contribution to the world of training that nothing else really does. I tend to recommend using these in rehab and post-rehab situations that merit strength training. People whom are brand new to fitness training or who haven’t exercised in years may want to begin with a basic routine of using various exercise machines, and particularly if they’re not comfortable with bodyweight exercises. Each exercise machine has its own list of killer apps or app in some cases. Particularly good machines would be the pulley/cable systems, leg press, treadmill, and the many types of exercise bikes.

Gymnastic rings (or other suspension training gear like TRX straps, ropes, etc.) – The killer app of these is the iron cross, of course! But in all seriousness, there are a lot of great exercises that can be done with the various types of suspension training gear. I’m partial to gymnastic rings (aka olympic rings), but each kind has its perks. In my humble opinion, the killer app exercises would be pull-ups, muscle-ups, dips, and inversions. Also, suspension training is particularly good for shoulder stabilization training, for obvious reasons.

Kettlebells – The kettlebell is an example of a piece of exercise equipment that has been leveraged, and consequently, maximized in terms of its versatility in the mainstream fitness world. These days, most people have heard of kettlebells and know that you can do a whole lot of different things with them. There are just a lot of great kettlebell exercises and methods being used and taught today.

But what is the killer app of kettlebells? What is this tool best-suited for? When it comes to specific exercises, I’d have to say swings top the list (and one arm swings being better than two-handed swings), but that’s the obvious choice. Overhead presses, push presses, and push jerks are also up there – actually, any overhead work. And lastly, the long cycle clean and jerk tops the list, too. It should also be noted that there are some new innovators in the world of kettlebell training (John Wolf and Scott Sonnon come to mind), whom have been creating new killer apps for this great training tool in recent years. It should also be noted that kettlebells are another superb strength-endurance tool.

Medicine balls – As mentioned earlier, throwing and catching are the killer apps for medicine ball training, and there are as many ways to do this as you have the imagination to dream them up. Obviously, many athletes would be well-served by training with medicine balls because of their acceleration/deceleration and force generation/transfer qualities that are inherent to using them.

Wrap-Up

So, hopefully, those were enough examples to give you the general idea. Suffice to say, the killer app strategy can be applied to any and every type of training equipment and method. I didn’t even mention tools like parallettes, resistance bands (aka flexbands), and sandbags, among many others. Once you’ve got the idea, you’ll never look at a piece of exercise equipment the same again. And your laughter may turn to crying every time a late-night infomercial comes on with the latest exercise equipment gimmick. Not that you’d be up that late watching TV or anything like that. Right?

Final Words

What inspired this post was that I’ve been looking over the new and upcoming TACFIT 26 program (version 2.0) by Scott Sonnon, which RMAX kindly sent to me a couple weeks ago (ie a beta version). Scott is someone who is really good at finding the killer app for any given exercise tool. And when I say really good, I mean that this guy has it down to a science. Is everything he comes up with perfect? Nope. Would I do some things differently? You bet. But nobody would deny that Scott is really – REALLY – good at this particular skill. And I’ve been pleased to see how much the killer app strategy has been infused into his upcoming TACFIT 26 program (version 2.0).

So, if you have a little bit of equipment available to you, whether at the gym or at home, and you want to maximize the benefits you receive from that equipment, then TACFIT 26 may be a program that’s worth looking into. I’m not sure when they’re planning to launch it (I’ve been told it’ll be soon), but I’ll try to have my full product review published in time for the launch sale. Based on my initial impressions, it’s another great one from Scott. Stay tuned!

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CST Coach, CST-KS
Health-First Fitness Coach

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P.P.S. Photo credit: soldiers training: http://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/, female powerlifter: http://www.flickr.com/photos/imagesbywestfall/, male with dumbbells: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mnfiraq/, leg press: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jnd90745/, female on rings at beach: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shapeshift/, female with kettlebells: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ambernussbaum/, men training with medicine balls: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mnfiraq/.

2 Responses

  1. Wintanclan

    Hi John,

    I hear you clearly. Interesting and thought provoking post (as always).
    But as with all good thoughts, also the opposite is quite true :)
    – and I do think you’re actually a strong proponent of that idea, too.

    The one unique/defining/killer exercise is a good excuse/reason/rationale why one/you/I definitely needed to get that BOSU, Heavy Ropes, array of Clubbells, Pullup bar, Gym Rings, Parallettes…

    And no, honey, buying that Bulgarian Bag does not mean my Clubbells can now go on ebay, jeez!

    Maybe with the exception of just the worst novelty gadgets, most workout tools do have their killer app function. But some are just that: One trick ponies.

    So while by all means we should identify and make best use of the MOST unique FUNction of any tool, I guess the greatest quality the tools you mentioned above is that they offer so much beyond that: great versatility.

    Once you have the basics down, they invite experimentation, exploration and play. That’s what makes a great fitness tool.

    “Yeah right, experimentation, huh? Like how to blow holes in furniture with airborne kettlebells and clubbells, or *better* yet maimed limbs?”
    Hasn’t happened so far (I’m still surprised myself to continuously experience how safe clubbells actually are!), but I do see that point.

    That’s where – once again – the bulgarian bag comes in. So many handles, so many ideas! Play, experiment, misgrip, drop: See! No harm done.
    It’s killer app: Bag spins. I can’t get enough of them!

    But it’s also a fantastic impersonator of a kettlebell, a clubbell, a dumbbell, a weighted vest, a medicine ball, a push up bench, an agility hurdle and of course a sand bag.
    Plus, with everything else securely locked away after use, the bulgarian bag is the only fitness tool my wife doesn’t mind that I keep within reach of our 18 month old.

    So you see, John, I’ll just keep waxing about my bulgarian bag until I find your article on it here ;)

    • LOL – Winfried and his Bulgarian bag strikes again!

      And you’re right. I AM a strong proponent of getting the most out of every training tool we own. Versatility is a great feature, and one I particularly look for whenever evaluating a home gym purchase.

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