Interview I did with BJ Gaddour of Workoutmuse.com

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Hey all, I figured that you get bombarded with video around this place so I know (if you’re like me) it’s a nice change sometimes to JUST READ! HAHA! Enjoy….

Hey! This is BJ Gaddour with Workoutmuse.com.  I’ve got a very special guest today, Robert Dos Remedios, one of the top Strength Coaches in the world.  I’m very excited to have him today.  His specialty is group and team workouts.  Maybe best know for his books Powertrain and also Cardio Strength Training and he has a phenomenal, brand new membership site featuring his group and team workouts that is growing very quickly.  I wanted to get on the phone with him today and basically discuss all the cool stuff he’s doing at coachdos.com.  So Coach can you give us a bit of your background, very briefly for those who are not as familiar with you as I am?

Sure, sure.  First of all, thanks for having me on BJ.  It’s always a pleasure to shoot the breeze with you.  I’ve been a collegiate strength conditioning coach at a community college here in Southern California called College of the Canyons for about 12 years now.  I’ve been doing strength and conditioning for about 21 years. It’s one of those things were we’ve done our thing all these years with our different sports with football and track athletes and so on and we’ve done that and tweaked it and done all our things.  A few years ago we had an opportunity to get involved with some Men’s Health stuff with some writing.  That’s really when it made the shift towards more of that performance-based training and getting away from the old body-builder stuff. So that kind of got me out there in the general public, you could say, and the book became a great selling book, Men’s Health Power Training.  That got my name out and got me in the public and it was funny because it kind of gave the impression that I was the new kid on the block, but I’m really kind of the old dog on the street.  I just got a good opportunity that Adam Campbell and some other good folks over there at Men’s Health gave me.  No one of the things I love to do in my free time is work on the site and interact with people who are having success with the power training and cardio strength training

Awesome!  You know I’m a big fan of yours and so are all of the people at Workout Muse.  It’s great to get on the phone with you today.  Let’s get right into it.  Obviously the feature of the site is your specialty, being group and team workouts and designing safe and effective group and team workouts.  So let’s talk about what they could see at coachdos.com in terms of what they could see in the actual designing group and team workouts.  The component of each workout, from the per to the main workout to any post workout stuff you have going on, just to understand the template, so to speak.

Yes, basically what we have is kind of a labor of love, but it’s labor because it’s not like all the other sites.  A lot of them just have articles and interviews.  Ours site, if it has an interview, it’s a live interview or somebody across country or across the world, it’s a Skype interview so people can put a face with what they are hearing and stuff like that.   We have the interviews going on several times a month.  We have Workouts of the Week every Friday which are real time workouts.  Usually it’s a block so it’s either a round of something.  So it might be something like highlights from a Powertrain workout.  We have realtime videos every week where we’ll take something like a TRX movement or specific kettle bell moves or Olympic weight lifting.  The content has grown and we’ve only been doing it for a few months.  I want to say we started in late July, but because we keep uploading 3 or 4 times a week, there’s so much on there that if you were to join now, it would take you forever to just get through that stuff.  We have an extensive video library broken down from  Olympic lifting moves from very basic to more technical.  We have kettle bells, we have strong man stuff on there, we have every category of horizontal pushing and vertical push, all that good stuff.  One of the big things that I love and I’m on there every day is our member forum.  We have a great group of members and they are posting their workouts every day.  People are talking about stuff and getting ideas from each other.  It’s a great  community!  A couple hundred people who all have a common interest and common love for pushing the envelope and getting out of that comfort zone.  It’s a lot of fun!  I’m going to shoot a workout this morning, I’ve got a couple of interviews this week on Skype.  So we are trying to keep it fresh for everybody.  If I haven’t been on there in a week, there’s at least 3 or 4 new things that I can delve in to.

 

Very cool!  So lots of options, lots of variety.  You have already mentioned the training tools that you use most often, like the TRX and the kettle bells.  What’s the suite of equipment that you will be featuring in those workout videos? 

Absolutely everything.  I just did an interview with Josh Henkin and we talked about – Josh talks about it best – the conformist and nonconformist.  The person who looks at a new tool and says, “I don’t need it.  I’m good in my own little world.  I’m not going to be one of those guys that conforms to the new stuff that comes out.”  But in doing so, you’ve just become a conformist yourself.  We have to look outside the box and be able to explore some different things.  Before I met you, we really weren’t able to take a group and…   I always use the example that we always put Workout Muse tracks on if we’re going to Tabatas or 30-30’s or 40-20’s, whatever it is.  I used to do that with a stopwatch and I’m sure you’ve done the same thing.  You have a group of people and you lose track of what’s going on then all of the sudden the 20 second set ends up being a 45 second set for this group and then it’s a 20 second set, then all of the sudden you’re off time again.   That’s another tool that we use consistently.  We pop the iPod in with the group.  You’ll see TRX stuff, kettle bell, sand bags, tons of body weight stuff, lots of Olympic variation stuff, dumbbell, barbell, everything you can think of sleds, ropes.  Everything we use in our arsenal is on those.  My tool box is pretty fat.  I don’t know if there’s many people who are training 250 to 300 people per day and going through and using as many tools as we do.  It really opens up our ability to build better athletes and get in better shape. 

I love it!  Everything has a potential benefit and I love how you really dig deep.  I enjoyed watching some of your videos and I think it was a offense/defense session that was filmed and they were doing this ridiculous circuit of around 100 rope weights, then sledge hammers in the tires and a prowler to finish.  It’s very cool to see, especially in these team formats, this type of energy that is brought out.  And these tools are a good way to bring that out, right?

Absolutely! Our kids love it when we get out and do that kind of stuff.  I think the impression is that people go “Oh, you’re a TRX guy now so how does that work?  Do you just go in there and do the TRX?”  No, it’s a tool.  We might not use it every day.  If I have my volleyball girls in, we just might be doing WIT or we might be doing core with this group today.  It’s one of those things were we hang our hat on bedrock.  There’s always that weight room our bedrock is always a big platform and our squats and our cleans and our steps ups and our dead lifts and all that kind of good stuff.  I think sometimes the impression is that’s not real sexy when you put that on video.  So I like to put exciting stuff on their where we get out and complete.  The reality is that we hang our hat on what we consider traditional stuff.  The powertraining kind of stuff, but I do enjoy that other stuff.  The kids love it.  We set up our weight room so now we have an auxiliary room  so we can do some of that stuff up on the side room on the side so we don’t have to take the whole group outside.  It can be a pain to have to bring all of the stuff down to the stadium, haul all the sleds and weights back up.  So we push sleds in the hallway in front of my office and we can do ropes right there as well.  It makes for a hectic hallway but we kind of take over that place when we’re training. 

I bet you do!  It’s cool that you mentioned the foundational stuff for these athletes, you know, being in the weight room. Which is kind of the foundation for Men’s Health Powertraining was but then you had a couple of finishers in that book that were metabolic in nature.  Clearly due to the popularity of just those small pieces in Men’s Health Powertraining, you kind of rolled out the metabolic stuff in cardio training.  A lot of people using Workout Muse love those metabolic style workouts using circuits, ladders, complexes, density training, all the cool stuff that’s featured in your book.  Can you take us through some of your favorite metabolic style workouts?

Absolutely!  That’s what the people really love on the premium side.  Most of our workouts – and I am a guinea pig for most of the workouts – so there isn’t really a protocols or session that I haven’t personally gone through.  We just posted one the other day, Frankie had posted the furnace.  I don’t know if you have ever seen that.  You have a kettle bell workout that’s just ridiculous.  We had to modify it.  Normally is a 45 seconds on 15 seconds off circuit but we used a 30-30 and it ends up being 24 minutes of that.    I haven’t done it since I first did it about 2 weeks ago.  I told myself that I would try to do it every week, but I haven’t done it and I don’t plan on doing it this week.  It’s one of those things where I just find an excuse not to do it, so you know it’s pretty good.  It’s one of those things that people dig it and it’s new.  I’ve got this kettle bell circuit or complex that I do and what are some new ideas that we can do with it.  Heck, I’m looking at learning new stuff every time.  I’m on the internet.  I’m talking to people like Josh and Jason Brown and looking at stuff that they do.  OK, I’m going to put this into a 30-30 or whatever we’re doing.  Personally, and I mention this in the book, I think complexes are the king of cardio strength training.  I think they are the most effective, they are the most efficient.  They happen to be the toughest, so that’s why they are probably not used as much as they should be.  I don’t do them as much as I should because they are tough.  It’s one of those things that I use to effectively gauge that if you’re constantly trying to talk yourself out of it…  “I’ve got to start doing it in 10 minutes and I’d rather do this.”  Sometimes you play that gambling game in your mind and say, “OK, instead of 20 minutes of this, I would rather do 40 minutes on a treadmill.”  You’re actually going to the lengths where you’re going to double up the amount of time you’re going to spend in the gym rather than doing this little short effective thing.  Complexes are the king.  After that  I love circuits of any kind.  I just think that there needs to be a rhyme and reason to what we’re doing.  I think there needs to be progressive deals.  One of my favorite tracks that you guys put out was your MMA 40-20.  I think that thing lays out so beautifully with the 5 minute rounds and the 1minute rest.  I think that’s perfect, but I also think that it’s going to be limiting for a lot of people.  I think negative rest for most people in general is pretty tough.  For me a 40-20 for that 5 rounds is – and I have enough experience picking good movements and good rounds and good loads to move in that time period and push the pace that I can do it.  I think for most people a negative rest is pretty tough.  I talked to Josh thinking about this the other day.  The mindset for most of us when we start thinking about attacking this circuits and cardio strength protocols has to be “we’re gonna push!  We’re gonna push so hard and really get out of that comfort zone.  We’re going to be in discomfort early, often, regularly, all the time until it’s over.”  Somebody sent me a shirt the other day from a bootcamp with a great slogan on the back.  The name of the bootcamp on the front and on the back it said, “Cuz it feels so damn good when it’s over”  I think that’s how we should attack these types of protocols.  I like the 40-20’s a lot and I like the 30-30’s a lot as well.  Then now we can say let’s do 10 minutes of this and let’s do a 5 minute finisher using a 40-20 or a 30-30.  Or let’s do an entire workout with that.  Obviously, I love the tabatas stuff and the different variations of that.  A lot of time we do that with our finishers in the off season.  There’s a ton of things we do like I said and I’ve got so many tools in my toolbox, especially with the protocols we’ve got a lot in our arsenal.

Very cool.  What are some of the cooler exercises that you guys are posting now in the forum?

Right now we’re playing around with a lot of kettle bell stuff.  I know that I am just starting to become more proficient with them.  We have some members that are pretty darn good at them so we try to push it a little bit so it gets a little more challenging.  We’re doing a lot of stuff with the sandbags.  We are doing a lot of sandbag shouldering.  Combination sandbag stuff, like a shoulder into reverse lunges or sandbag get ups on the shoulder, because we’ve had some issues with our athletes with their shoulders, being able to do the TGU’s or the aftTGU’s.  So throw that 75 lbs. sandbag on the shoulder and that’s going to tax them pretty good.   We do a tone of stuff, like I said, whatever we’re doing like that cutting edge stuff, we’re trying to get new, we’re trying to get that and put that out on video for our members pretty quickly.  So we have really expanded all the exercises that you see like in cardio strength training, we really expanded that at least 3 fold by now.  Just our TRX moves we’ve expanded that.  We’ve gotten out there and talked to people and played around with stuff and there’s a ton of stuff on there and we are learning new stuff everyday. 

One thing I want to question for the fitness professionals who are listening and the bootcamp owners is how do you go about finding a way to effectively outsource your workout system?  Getting staff that you can train and hire to do what you need to do if you can’t be there or if someone with your stature has to do a lot of traveling and speaking at engagements and filling content for the site.  What’s your system for getting the right coaches and team in place for running the group workouts.  That’s a big concern for fitness pros who are out there and are just kind of stuck doing all the sessions delivering the workouts themselves because they don’t trust or aren’t willing to take the step to empower those people to kind of take over their job. 

I’m guilty of that!  That was one of the toughest things for me to do and I think part of that was early on was not having great assistants.  Part of that was my fault because I would get an assistant or intern or volunteers that would come in and instead of teaching them and letting them go, I wouldn’t be able to delegate stuff, I would just do it.  It got to the point where they never got better in that respect.  So I think that if you groom somebody to help you with your bootcamps, you got to hand that over a little bit and let them roll with it.  I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that over the past few years with my assistants.  I have one main assistant that works with me, Joel, and he’s a former athlete of mine so he already knew coming in what we did and what the expectations where with our groups.   I think on our campus we know it’s not going to quite be the same.  If you’ve ever seen me with our teams it’s a little different, I guess you might say I’m a little rough and my expectations are very high with our groups.  I don’t buy into that notion that kids are different these days and we have to lower expectations, I don’t buy that at all.  At our place, the minute they come into the door, I say, “here’s what most people are going to expect from you and here’s where I’m going to set the bar, so you’re either going to meet me or you’re going to fail.”  If they fail, then they are going to end up going to another school.  So, our standards are pretty high.  I think that what I’ve done is to let Joel get in there and get his hands dirty from day one.  Part of it is that he is a very bright and smart guy and he knows our system, so I don’t have any qualms about that.  It’s tougher when we have interns letting them go right away because they don’t have the experience.  Experience is the biggest thing and if you’re talking about somebody doing a different group exercise style or something like a bootcamp environment, experience in your system is going to be the biggest thing.  Somebody could come in with bootcamp experience for 5 years at this other place, but the level of intensity is totally different from yours or the way they cue things from yours.  So I think that it’s got to come down to experience in your system and then pushing them to the front and letting them run it.  That way you have a little piece of mind when you leave.  I don’t have any qualms about leaving our football team with my assistants at this point. 

Awesome!  I love it.  Before we conclude here, I know you mentioned that complexes were your favorite metabolic style workout.  For those that may not be familiar with a complex, it’s basically taking two or more movements using the same training tool and doing a certain sequence of those movements, whether it’s 2, 3 or 4, or whatever the number of exercises is, back to back without rest before taking a rest then repeating it for a certain number of rounds.  Can you give us 2 or 3 of your favorite complexes and maybe different tools for each? 

One of the main things, I think it’s listed as one of the advanced kettle bell complexes in the book.  Or maybe not, I think that we’ve already expanded past it, but we just did one the other day, a kettle bell one.  It’s pretty simple as long as you don’t pick up the kettle bell and do a kettle bell complex if you’ve never picked up a kettle bell.  So that’s why a lot of different times what we do in our time sessions is we just command swing and get that down.  I’m sure in a bootcamp environment especially, it’s pretty safe to teach somebody how to swing.  But when we start doing snatches and windmills and stuff like that, you want to make sure that you’re proficient at each one.  You’re picking out any complex whether it’s a barbell or a dumbbell or a kettle bell complex, make sure you are able to move pretty proficiently when you’re doing it as a stand alone exercise.  The kettle bell one that we just did is pretty simple.  We start with everything being 10 unless we’re going single side, we do 5 on each side.  So first one is 10 figure 8’s, through the legs, then come up and then go to the bottom then hold, just for about a second on each side.  So we’ll do 10, then we’ll do 5 clean and presses on each side.  Then we’ll do 5 snatches each side.  Then we’ll go 5 windmills on each side.  Then we finish with 10 swings of any kind, or whatever they need.  It takes about 2 minutes to complete, so we generally say, rest as long as it takes for you to complete you set.  It’s kind of a long complex so we try to rest for about 90 seconds and that’s a little bit of a negative rest.  So the sets get progressively harder and we try to do 3 sets.  By that third set you’re gasping pretty good.  So that’s one of my favorite kettle bell complexes.  I hate to throw the toughest one out, but I think the best barbell complex we use is our warm up complex.  We would do this with 40 kilos on the bar which is 88 lbs.  That will kill just about anybody.  Most of the time 10 kilos on each side or 65 lbs. even the bar to do a lot of reps and do jump shrugs with the barbell.  Then we go into squat cleans.  Do 10 of each.  So it’s 10 jump shrugs, 10 squat cleans, 10 push presses, 10 snatches, 10 overhead squats, 10 Romanian dead lifts, and then 10 plyometric pushups.  So that would be your entire complex.   Then you would rest for the time that it took you to that complex.  So you can see how that’s going to beat you down pretty well.   One of the things that I have planned for my workout today is a complex and since I’ve been talking about it today, I want to do something else.  It’s one of those things where it’s tough, we know it’s going to work.  You can scale that down and do 5 each or do 4 movements:  hand cleans, presses, front squats and Romanian dead lifts.  Even if you did 65 lbs. on that and you did 10 reps of each.  That’s 40 X 65 and that’s a lot of work in a short period of time. That’s the thing that makes complexes so unbelievable.  You can use a 53 lbs. kettle bell for that move and total up the weight that’s being moved and how long you’re moving it, that’s a ton of work just for that one set and then you multiply that times 3 sets then you go in and do a density set after that and a finisher after that for a 30 minute workout.  Nothing will match it as far as bang for your buck goes. 

I’m glad that you’re talking about complexes because Workout Muse is featuring complexes this month.  Succession complexes being where you do X amount of time or reps that you do a movement before going to the next.  We’ve got some 15 second session complexes and 3 minute sequence complexes.  Sequence being where you do 1 rep of each movement and you keep cycling through for an extended period of time for a 3 minute period of the featured movement of this month for a kettle bell was going to be a 1 arm clean to a forward lunge into an overhead press and doing it straight through.  1 rep each for 90 seconds when the voice says half, you switch to the other side and try to match the reps on the other side within the 3 minutes.  That workout… when I was done with it and looked at the total, number of repetitions and with the load used, it was a  9 1/2 ton workout in 20 minutes. 

When you sit back and look at stuff it gets hard for people to wrap their head around that.  It’s kind of silly because, I’m not moving a load and I only have 55 lbs. on the bar or whatever it is.  You can just take some of the stuff that you guys do and your videos and your bootcamp stuff, or body weight stuff and my weight of 240 lbs. and do a set of burpees and then a set of free style lunges and then a set of squat jumps and then a set of clops, I have to remember that I’m pushing a lot of load every time I’m going that and that’s what a lot of people don’t understand.  That’s the beauty of the cardio strength concept is that we’re going to get amazing bang for your buck.  It’s crazy cardio but we’re going to do it without compromising lean body mass.  You don’t have to have anything on that bar you can have a kettle bell.  All that stuff is going to be far superior to something that’s going to possibly screw up your lean body mass, which none of us need to do, like something like going out and jogging for hours at a time. 

Absolutely!  I will make sure to send you those tracks.  It might be a cool way to mix up between the rep based stuff and the time based stuff so I’ll be sure to send that to you after our call here. 

Thanks man!

My pleasure.  So let’s wrap it up here.  Can you please let them know where is the best place to find out more about you personally and also the new membership site?

Just go to coachdos.com My blog is there and all of the info you can see on the site and there’s a member’s information area and you can see there’s a couple of videos on the side where they can click on to check out.  We have a great event coming up December 11 in Portland.  It’s a charity pub crawl that we’re doing there and I just picked Portland because it’s the micro brew capital of the world and you know how I love my beer.  100% of the money coming in is going to the Oregon Human Society headquartered Portland.  We’ve got some great prizes coming in from TRX, ValSlide and Perform Better and Hyperwear.  So we’re going to have some great giveaways and we’ve got a group of about 40 people meeting us up there on the 11th and we’re going to hang out and talk fitness and drink some beer.  We’ve already got over $2000 already raised for the Human Society.  Please feel free to click on that if you want to give.  Even if you can’t make it to the event, we have great t-shirts that we’re sending to people who want to give but can’t be there.   That’s something that’s really important to us and close to our hearts, so we’re trying to give back.  We have not had a single complaint about people who come in there join the membership, even if it’s month to month and nobody says this is not what I expected at all, we haven’t had any of that.  Once people get in there and delve into the video archives we have, it can be a little bit overwhelming.  There’s a ton of stuff in there and the forum is one of my favorite things to get on there, I’m on there every day.  I’m answering questions directly ever day.

Wonderful!  I can’t say enough about Coach Dos.  Please do yourself a favor and get over to his site.  I’m actually looking at the blog right now and he’s in a kneeling position with a sandbag on his shoulder with a hypervest on, so he does work.  There’s a lot of cool ideas just by looking the blog and if you want to take the next step and really push your fitness to the next level, like Coach said, and being able to do the type of workout that gives you butterflies for the hour leading up to the time you actually start doing it.  The stuff that actually makes you change, this is the place to go.  Coach thanks so much for taking the time and I really appreciate it.  Best of luck with the Beers for Pooches fundraiser and I’m going to send you over some cool tracks that can hopefully help with the complexes as well. 

Thanks so much!  Thanks for having me BJ! 

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Coach Dos is a sought after international speaker on a variety of conditioning topics such as Program Design, Cardio-Strength Training, Olympic Weightlifting applications, Sport-speed development, Explosive training, and CHAOS™ Speed Training. Coach Dos served as Director of Speed, Strength & Conditioning @ College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, CA, a position he had held from 1999-2015. Coach Dos is also the 2006 recipient of the National Strength and Conditioning Association‘s prestigious Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Professional of the year for 2006. This award is given to the top collegiate strength coach in the country (as voted on by his peers). In addition to contributing to Men’s Health magazine on a regular basis, Coach Dos’ first book Men’s Health Power Training (Rodale Books) was released in July 2007 and become a world-wide best seller. His second book, Cardio Strength Training (Rodale Books) is also a best-seller.