The Warrior Mentality , by Dave Durell

Being a warrior is not about the act of fighting, it’s about being so prepared to face a challenge and believing so strongly in a cause that you are fighting for that you refuse to quit.”
Richard Machowicz, Unleash The Warrior Within

There are 2 aspects to training success. The first, and most readily observable, is the physical aspect. This involves the practical application of the principles of effective training.

This is the “how to”.

The second aspect is much harder to identify, but there is no denying its existence. This is the mental aspect of training. It includes your reasons for training, your goals, and your attitude toward, and during, your workouts.

This is the “why”, and the “want to”.

The “how to” can be acquired rather easily from many sources, and comes in the form of books, video, audio, and live seminars and classes. In statistical terms, it can be considered the dependent variable, since any workout will obviously consist of some form of a training program.

The mental aspect can be viewed as the independent variable, the “make or break” factor that can mean success for one trainee, and failure for another, who are both using the exact same training regimen.

The “why” and “want to” are not available in your bookstore. They only come from one place-inside of you.

In his book High Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way, Mike describes what I’m talking about here as “an attitude befitting a hero”. He goes on to say “Once he enters the gym, all else is forgotten and he is transformed into a valiant warrior with girded loins, ready to do battle with the weights.”

(I’m not exactly sure what girded loins are, but it sounds pretty warrior-like).

It stands to reason that somebody who chooses Rock Solid Fitness’ training program as their “how to” should also choose a High Intensity mental attitude to go with it, if he wants to get the best possible results.

I call this high intensity mental attitude the warrior mentality.

Having a warrior mentality means viewing your workout as a challenge-not something to be feared, but something to be conquered.

A trainee with a warrior mentality does not take the easy way out by mindlessly going through the motions with a sub-maximal weight, which is tantamount to surrender. He views the workout as a battle to be won, no matter how high the cost of effort and fatigue.

He enters the gym with a feeling of aggression toward his goals, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings as he shuts out distractions and demonstrates single-minded focus and resolve to take out one target at a time-his next exercise.

But what if the trainee isn’t naturally warrior-like? Is he just fated to have sub-par workouts, and therefore sub-par results?

Cultivating a warrior mentality is a skill, and like any other skill it can be learned.

The foundation of this mentality is, as Richard Machowicz said, “believing so strongly in a cause that you are fighting for that you refuse to quit.” In the case of your training, the “cause” is your personal reason for training in the first place.

Take some time periodically to review your training goals, and why you are committed to them. What does training mean to you personally? Why is it important to you to include this activity in your life? Why is getting good results meaningful to you? Answering these types of questions will reinforce the commitment in your mind, strengthening your resolve.

The more intensely you care about the outcome of your workout, the more intensely you will train during that workout.

Visualization is another valuable technique for developing a warrior mentality. Take a few minutes before your workout to sit somewhere quiet by yourself, close your eyes, get real relaxed, and see yourself in your mind’s eye tearing through your workout, setting new personal bests on every exercise. Picture how you expect to look and feel, in the most vivid detail you can imagine. Once you open your eyes and enter the gym, strive to recreate your vision.

Listening to music or reading something that you find uplifting and motivating can also help you program yourself for a highly intense workout.

Completing successful workouts will provide you with positive memories that you can access to psyche yourself up for future workouts. As they say, “nothing succeeds like success”.

Take the steps necessary to cultivate and maintain a warrior mentality, and you will consistently win your battles in the gym and ultimately be victorious in your mission to achieve your training goals-and for that matter, any other goals you strive for in life.

Negativity : Second- Hand Smoke For The Mind, by Dave Durell

Imagine yourself sitting in a closed room, alone. Maybe you are on your computer, reading a book, or writing a letter. Next thing you know, somebody enters the room, closes the door, sits down right across from you and lights up a cigarette. Since you are a non-smoker, this bothers you. Pretty soon the smoke starts to fill the room, and to make matters worse that person is blowing the smoke right in your face! Eventually you feel like you can’t breathe, like this environment is very unhealthy, so you decide to pack your things and leave.


As soon as you are outside the room, you instantly take in a nice, big, deep breath of fresh air, and you immediately feel better. You are glad to be away from that nasty, unhealthy smoke, and you resolve to avoid being around it in the future.

How did you feel reading the preceding paragraph? Could you feel the urge to get out of that smoky room, and take in that big breath of clean, fresh air? Did you fell like the other person was being rude-even disrespectful-for blowing smoke in your face? Would you probably be likely to avoid being around that person in the future, or at least limit your exposure to them.

Of course, a few minutes in a smoky room is not likely to cause you to drop dead on the spot. And even if you were in that situation repeatedly, you probably wouldn’t notice much of a difference. However, research shows that repeated exposures of this nature can cause serious health problems-even cancer! This means that each of those exposures really did have a detrimental effect on you, even though you didn’t feel it immediately.


I believe that exposure to negativity can have a similar detrimental effect on your attitude, which of course effects everything you do. And just like the second-hand smoke example, you probably won’t feel a dramatic, immediate effect (unless you have become hyper-sensitive to negativity, as I have). However, repeated exposures will have a crippling effect on your ability to gain and maintain a positive mental attitude, which I believe is absolutely essential for success in any aspect of life, including your exercise program.

The risks and dangers of second-hand smoke have been widely publicized. Recently, many laws have been passed which serve to limit non-smokers’ exposure to second-hand smoke by restricting smoking to designated areas. The non-smokers are then assured of a smoke-free environment, provided they avoid the designated smoking areas.

This is where the analogy between second-hand smoke and negativity ends. Negativity is present all around us. It comes from people we come in contact with, television, radio, newspapers, billboards, bumper stickers, magazines, movies, the internet; political campaigns-negativity has literally infected every aspect of human life.

Make no mistake about it-the cumulative effect of negativity will destroy your spirit. Your only defense is to build around you a “wall of positive” that is so thick and strong that the negative is unable to penetrate it. You do this by consciously, volitionally cultivating a positive mental attitude; and you do that through the use of a massive, constant, never-ending self improvement program.

Components of a solid self improvement program include: using positive affirmations; setting written goals; reading books and listening to CD programs on self improvement and/or personal development; and, of course, proper exercise-all repeated regularly and consistently like it is done at Rock Solid Fitness Florida.

Every time you repeat a positive affirmation, set a new goal, read a self improvement or personal development book, listen to a CD program, or complete a workout, you are adding another brick to your “wall of positive”, and with enough of those bricks in your wall you will be able to repel the forces of negativity which are all around you.

If doing all of these things sounds kind of corny to you, or sounds like too much work, I imagine you are the type of person who would stay in that smoke-filled room for fear of looking foolish by leaving. That’s okay, it’s your life-just remember, choices have consequences.

I hope you will choose, as I have, to develop yourself into a positive, optimistic person, who constantly strives to improve themselves and get the most out of life, and refuses to allow negativity to pull them down. I hope you will decide, as I have, to leave the smoke-filled room-and if you have to go back in, to hold your breath until you get out.

Imagine how the world would change if everybody did that.

Stay “smoke free”!



Happy 4th of July from Rock Solid Fitness!

I Am the Nation



I was born on July 4, 1776, and the Declaration of Independence is my birth certificate. The bloodlines of the world run in my veins, because I offered freedom to the oppressed. I am many things, and many people. I am the nation.

I am 213 million living souls—and the ghost of millions who have lived and died for me.

I am Nathan Hale and Paul Revere. I stood at Lexington and fired the shot heard around the world. I am Washington, Jefferson and Patrick Henry. I am John Paul Jones, the Green Mountain Boys and Davy Crockett. I am Lee and Grant and Abe Lincoln.

I remember the Alamo, the Maine and Pearl Harbor. When freedom called I answered and stayed until it was over, over there. I left my heroic dead in Flanders Fields, on the rock of Corregidor, on the bleak slopes of Korea and in the steaming jungle of Vietnam.

I am the Brooklyn Bridge, the wheat lands of Kansas and the granite hills of Vermont. I am the coalfields of the Virginias and Pennsylvania, the fertile lands of the West, the Golden Gate and the Grand Canyon. I am Independence Hall, the Monitor and the Merrimac.

I am big. I sprawl from the Atlantic to the Pacific … my arms reach out to embrace Alaska and Hawaii … 3 million square miles throbbing with industry. I am more than 5 million farms. I am forest, field, mountain and desert. I am quiet villages—and cities that never sleep.

You can look at me and see Ben Franklin walking down the streets of Philadelphia with his breadloaf under his arm. You can see Betsy Ross with her needle. You can see the lights of Christmas, and hear the strains of “Auld Lang Syne” as the calendar turns.

I am Babe Ruth and the World Series. I am 110,000 schools and colleges, and 330,000 churches where my people worship God as they think best. I am a ballot dropped in a box, the roar of a crowd in a stadium and the voice of a choir in a cathedral. I am an editorial in a newspaper and a letter to a Congressman.

I am Eli Whitney and Stephen Foster. I am Tom Edison, Albert Einstein and Billy Graham. I am Horace Greeley, Will Rogers and the Wright brothers. I am George Washington Carver, Jonas Salk, and Martin Luther King.

I am Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Walt Whitman and Thomas Paine.

Yes, I am the nation, and these are the things that I am. I was conceived in freedom and, God willing, in freedom I will spend the rest of my days.

May I possess always the integrity, the courage and the strength to keep myself unshackled, to remain a citadel of freedom and a beacon of hope to the world.

This is my wish, my goal, my prayer in this year of 1976—two hundred years after I was born.


Did you get better today? by Dave Durell

Did you get better today? Did you do something, anything, to improve yourself in some area of your life? I hope so.

When I worked as a Strength and Conditioning Assistant for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL, everyone was expected to ask themselves that question every day-coaches, players, staff members-as a means to reaching our ultimate goal-winning the Super Bowl.

Did you do something today to move you closer to “winning your Super Bowl”-whatever important personal goal you may have in front of you?

Every day you don’t get better, you don’t stay the same, you get worse. Why? Because you’re a day older. And with regard to your fitness goals, every workout you waste in the gym using unproductive methods that don’t give you the results you’re looking for is a workout you can never get back. There are no “do-overs” in life.

What are some ways you can get better today, with regard to your health and fitness? You can do one more rep on an exercise than you did last time. You can use 5 pounds more than you did last time. You can say no when somebody offers you a donut in the morning. You can drink an extra glass of water. You can eat a fresh fruit. You can skip dessert. You can park 50 yards away from the mall entrance and walk in, instead of driving around the parking lot for 20 minutes looking for a closer space. You can sit up straighter. You can lower the weight on the last rep of your set in 8 seconds instead of 4 seconds. You can schedule a FREE introductory High Intensity workout at  Rock Solid Fitness FL instead of going to happy hour.

What are some ways you can get better today in other areas of your life? You can tell someone you love them. You can clean your room. You can write a letter to a long lost friend. You can give someone a compliment. You can read a self-improvement book or an inspiring biography. You can learn something new. You can make an unpleasant phone call. You can confront a difficult situation. You can do something that scares you. You can complete a project you have been putting off. You can be a good example.

I encourage you to make a habit of asking yourself every evening before you retire:

“Did I get better today”?

And if you do, in fact, get better every day, it won’t be long before you win your “Super Bowl”.


How To Get Rid Of Low Back Pain

Make sure you watch this video to the very end for a very happy ending :).

This is Part 2 of our Free Monthly H.I.T. Education Seminar for June. If you didn’t see Part 1, keep scrolling down.

Quick Looks Slick, But Slow Is The Way To Go

Quick looks slick-but slow is the way to go

By Dave Durell

Walk into any gym in the world, observe the people performing strength training exercises, and you will quickly notice something about the technique used by 99% of them.


Essentially everybody is performing their exercises very quickly. They throw the weight up. They let it drop back down. Mindlessly flailing their limbs with no apparent focus or concentration, often talking to someone at the same time. They rattle the barbell plates. They let the weight stack slam together. Momentum is utilized to the fullest extent possible. There is no pausing at any point in the entire set. The only time all this high speed of movement stops is between exercises, when the average trainee rests for several minutes, often while socializing, re-setting their I-Pod, texting somebody, watching television or checking their cell phone. It almost seems like they can’t wait to get their set out of the way, so they can get to these other activities with minimal disruption.

Why do people train like that?

I think that one reason they do it is since they see virtually everybody else doing it, they assume it’s the right way to do it, and that the one guy in the gym not doing it (me) is some misguided weirdo who is doing it wrong. This is the way a lot of people make all of their decisions-they go along with the majority, avoiding the painful job of thinking critically for themselves.

Once the trainee starts utilizing this method, they discover that moving the weights faster allows them to lift more weight more easily. Although less effective from a strength and muscle building perspective, this method is more satisfying to the ego. Fast reps also produce less muscular discomfort than slow reps, and avoiding pain is desirable for most people.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is inferior results. Moving the weights quickly lowers the intensity of the activity; and intensity is the stimulus required to cause an increase in muscular size and strength. Thus, the higher the intensity is, the more effective the workout will be. To maximize the intensity of each repetition, the weight should be lifted and lowered slowly, under full muscular control, utilizing the force of muscular contraction alone without momentum.

Going slow is also safer. Increased speed of movement increases the risk of injury. If you have ever witnessed, or been in, a car accident, you already know this.


In addition, going slower makes the workout more time efficient. You put more tension on your muscles in each set, allowing you to place a greater workload on your muscles in one set than the fast lifters get in 3 or more sets.

The lifting of a weight (including the weight stack on a machine) should take 2 seconds to perform. The lowering of a weight should take 4 seconds to perform. You should pause in both the start and finish positions on each rep. Thus, every rep you do should take approximately 7-8 seconds to perform. Simply put: lift in 2 seconds; pause; lower in 4 seconds; pause; repeat.

The goal of your strength training program should be to get the best possible results in the shortest possible time with the least possible amount of effort. Performing slow, controlled repetitions is fundamental to achieving that goal.



Keep it slow to grow,

Dave Durell, MS, CCS, PTA

(Dave Durell is a Clearwater Personal Trainer at Rock Solid Fitness Florida, a Personal Training studio in Clearwater, FL.  For more information on Rock Solid’s fitness program, Click Here)

Happy Carpe Diem Day

On March 31st, 2003, a doctor told me I had prostate cancer. I was 44 years old.

That’s not good.

On June 4th, 2003, a different doctor performed surgery on me to remove the cancerous gland.

That is good.

Today, June 4th, 2012, is the 9th anniversary of that surgery, and the doctor tells me cancer is still undetectable in my body.

That’s very good.

I have proclaimed June 4th “Carpe Diem Day”. I celebrate it every year, and invite you to celebrate it with me.

Carpe Diem is Latin for “seize the day”. Being diagnosed with a terminal disease, and subsequently getting it taken care of and receiving a second chance at life, gives one a new perspective on how very precious each moment of life is.

I believe that every person’s highest moral purpose is the achievement of their own happiness. Whatever you need to do to achieve yours, I encourage you to “seize the day” and do something today to move you one step closer to it.

As my fellow cancer survivor Lance Armstrong would say-every second counts!

Seize the day,

Dave Durell, MS, PTA, Master HIT Trainer
Rock Solid Fitness FL


The Fallacy of Functional Training – by Dave Durell

The Fallacy of Functional Training

by Dave Durell

In the past few years, a fitness craze has been sweeping the industry-the operative word being “craze”.

They call it “Functional Training”.


I have witnessed this craze reach epidemic proportions in the fitness world, to the extent that many people equate this type of training with the field of personal training: in other words, so many trainers are training people this way, people think that so-called Functional Training is what personal training is, and that’s all it is; that they are one in the same.

I’ve had it.

In this article, and I’m sure in many more ways to follow in the future, I’m going to define and explain what is meant by the term Functional Training, point out the flaws in both its theory and methodology, and give my opinion as to why I think it’s a joke.

As my reference point for the definition and explanation of Functional Training, I will use the apparently impartial source Wikipedia.

Wikipedia defines Functional Training as “a classification of exercise which involves training the body for the activities performed in daily life.”

Wait a minute-isn’t that the goal of any form of exercise? The function of skeletal muscles is to produce movement. Therefore, any exercise program that strengthens the muscles will improve the body’s ability to move during “the activities performed in daily life”, whatever they may happen to be. High Intensity Training, as well as many other forms of exercise, can and do result in stronger muscles. Functional Training advocates give the impression that if you train with machines or conventional strength training equipment you are going to end up weak and uncoordinated. It doesn’t work that way. Strong muscles produce strong movements, no matter what your “activities of daily life” might be.

Wikipedia: “Functional training has its origins in rehabilitation. Physical therapists developed exercises that mimicked what patients did at home or work in order to return to their lives or jobs after an injury or surgery. Thus if a patient’s job required repeatedly heavy lifting, rehabilitation would be targeted towards heavy lifting, if the patient were a parent of young children, it would be targeted towards moderate lifting and endurance, and if the patient were a marathon runner, training would be targeted towards re-building endurance.”

First of all, by definition, rehabilitation patients are not functioning at a normal level-if they were, they would not need rehabilitation. As both a Personal Trainer and a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant, I can tell you first-hand that there is a BIG difference between rehab training to get back to a normal, functioning state, and trying to increase your levels of muscular size and strength beyond normal levels. For a person who is not injured or impaired to train with rehab techniques in order to get bigger and stronger constitutes context-switching and is ridiculous.

Furthermore, What if the marathon runner also has young children and works as a furniture mover? Does he do 3 different routines, or just one routine that is 3 times longer? I don’t know about you, but I don’t perform the exact same “activities of daily life” every single day. Does that mean I need to change my workout program every time I train, depending on what I’m going to do that day or the next day? Do I need to lift heavy weights the week I’m going to help my friend move, and lay around at the gym the week before my vacation in the Bahamas?

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