Five Lifts That Make Grit

I love being comfortable. I love naps. I love BIG bowls of cereal with peanut butter and protein powder. I love hitting the snooze button.

As much as I love comfort, it is also important to do things that help grow that "don't quit muscle". When you're in the first few reps of a lift and you're like... DANG IT I WANT TO QUIT! But You Can't Quit -- Ya Gotta Have GRIT!!

Here are the top 5 lifts for developing GRIT.


Heavy zercher squats are epically horrible. Ideally, the bar starts on the ground, you deadlift it up to your knees, rest the heavy ass bar on your knees, then fold your arms underneath so that the crux of your elbows is where the bar is resting. You then get your last full breath for the entire lift, brace your mid-section and stand the bar up.

The bar is trying to pry your arms open, your forearms are getting smashed, your biceps are flexing with everything they've got, your shoulders and upper back are trying not to dump forward. The worst part though, is the inability to breath. You can only take tiny breaths because all this weight is crushing your arms and back into your rib cage, making it darn near impossible for you to exhale and inhale -- its almost like you can only inhale a tiny bit.


Find a big, heavy object that will slide on the ground (like a tire or a sled), put a tow strap through it, and wrap that over your shoulder. Decide how far you are going to run with it, put your shoulder down and RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN till you cross that finish line. To make sure you don't slouch: TIME IT.

The first half or two thirds isn't too bad. You're like, oh yeah I can handle this, it kind of sucks but not as bad as I thought. You've got a long stride, good leg drive going, and solid rotation through your arms and torso. Your full body is in it.

The space between the 2/3s and 3/4 of the way is when things REALLY START TO SUCK. Your legs are burning, your lungs are gasping, and your heart is PUMPING. You then look up and realize you've got a 1/3 of the distance to go. You lower your shoulder, and try to keep that stride going, but the length of the stride and the powerful drive is but a faded memory.

Since you can't drive through your legs, it's harder to lean into it, since you can't lean, you lose leverage. You're losing all the advantages, and you're still a ways away from the finish line. Not only that, but the finish line seems farther away as you slow way the hell down.

Your legs are giving out as you still try to chug them forward. You throw your body in to each leg drive, and it barely helps. Your glutes are on FIRE. Your calves are screaming for mercy. Everything in your brain and body is telling you to stop. EXCEPT YOUR HEART. YOU MUST HAVE HEART.

A few more steps and you're over the finish line, ABSOLUTELY SPENT. But you didn't quit, you gained GRIT.


Most people have seen the YouTube ads and inspirational workout montage videos of people flipping tires and sweating and grinding. They're tough no doubt, but they're nothing compared to Battle Tire.

Battle Tire is standing up that giant tire on it's side and pushing it as hard as you can at someone on the other side, they have to catch it and throw it back as hard as they can back at you.

This is a serious full body battle. The harder you throw, the harder it is for the other person to catch and more force they have to develop to throw it back at you. But their goal isn't just to throw back to you, but to CRUSH YOU UNDER THE TIRE. Your goal is to absorb that force and whip back at them as hard as you can.

Your legs, your glutes, your mid section, your back, chest, arms, and even your hands are using every ounce of their fiber to defeat the person on the other side of this tire.

This is one of those exercises where it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog. I've seen men of 170 pounds topple over guys of 280 pounds. The winners are ferocious, throwing their entire being into the tire.

It's easy to quit on this. Just step out of the way. Let the tire fall to the ground. Let the person on the other side of the tire tower over you in victory as you hang your head in defeat. You know that's what is waiting for you when you give up. SO YOU DON'T. YOU HANG IN THERE FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN.


Farmers carry is the most primal moves on this list. Our ancestors have been doing it since the beginning of time. It's helped build farms, build cities, transport goods, save lives on the battle field, and make men out of boys. It's simple, yet brutal.

Pick up an object and carry it for as long as you can.

The first thing I feel is the odd sensation of walking while carrying this heavy weight. The sensation of going from one leg to the other is odd. There is a momentary thought of, huh, will my individual leg be able to support all this? The answer is YES.

The second thing that starts to feel weird is the large amount of stress on the shoulders, carrying this heavy weight, while walking. You're moving, the weight is moving, and it is all dependent on your hands, arms, and shoulders holding the weight.

Which brings me to the final part that makes you want to quit -- your hands. Eventually your hands feel like they're going to be pried open from their vice grip around the bar, like your body is trying to wrench open a bear trap latched around your leg.

Your attention then vacillates between the burn of your grip and the burning in your lungs and legs. Your legs are desperate for oxygen and your lungs are desperate to supply it. However, the dynamic combination of the vast amount of weight pulling your shoulders down into your rib cage and the need keep your core braced makes it difficult to get big breaths. You can only take small gulps of air as your body tries to not collapse.

Finally, the farmer walks force you to have great posture -- chest tall, shoulders back, hips square, everything in perfect alignment so the body can maintain best possible leverage throughout the lift. A slight variance forward or backward with the weight and you could tumble.

Set your eyes on the target of how far you need to get, grip on to the bar, stand up tall and go for the best walk of your life.

Sandbag Shouldering

This move is tough because the sandbag is an odd object. It shifts around, the center of gravity isn't static and easily controlled, and getting a solid grasp on the bag works a ton of muscles you wouldn't otherwise use in a barbell or dumbbell movement.

The goal of sandbag shouldering is to take the sandbag from your waist up to one shoulder then bring it back down to your waist. Repeat that scheme, alternating which shoulder you'll bring the bag up to.

There several difficult points of this lift. The first is the bracing of the midsection so you can effectively transfer the force from your hips to the ball. If you're soft in your torso, the sandbag will pull you face first in to the ground.

Next is transferring the force production from your hips to arms and upper back to bring the ball to your shoulder. If you were relying on force from your hips alone, the ball would MAYBE only get chest high, which last I checked is NOT your shoulders. So you've got to continue the momentum of the hip move in to your upper back and arms to finish it off. This can get unwieldy because of shifting mass of the ball and the awkwardness of the shape. You have to make sure your arms and midsection are locked in, otherwise you'll use your low back to keep the momentum of the move and that'll get real tiring.

The next tough part is bringing the ball back down to your waist. Letting the ball fall from your shoulders means the ball's weight will be increased because of gravity's pull. The key here is to absorb the fall through your hips, preventing a free fall.

At this point, you've got to make a return trip. You can either use the elastic energy stored up in your muscles from absorbing the fall of the ball to quickly reverse course (assuming you caught it correctly and still have a grip on it), OR you can try to regrip, try to catch a breath, and move it from a dead stop. Either way it is going to suck and after a few reps you'll want to quit. This is the breaking point. I've got the ball on my hips, it's heavy but not impossible, what I think is impossible is the work laid out to get the ball back up to my shoulder.

But there is no quit. Ya gotta grit it out. GET SOME

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