Train Like An Athlete? Or A Warrior?


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In troubled times like this, people who decide to train tend to make one mistake; they training like athletes and not warriors.

To be fair, it’s difficult to know the difference. Look around the internet. There’s a ton of information out there on how to train for any number of sports. Believe me, I know. I’ve looked.

So when someone decides it’s time to start lifting, they go to the internet and plug in a search. What they get, though, is solid advice on how to train for general strength or for sports in general, which is fine.

But Barbarians? We demand more.

To a lot of people, training like an athlete makes sense. After all, football players are tough and strong, right? No one’s going to mess with an NFL linebacker, after all.

That’s not the point though. The point is that in rough moments, just being strong isn’t enough.

You don’t want to believe me? OK, then believe Zach Even-Esh, a man who has trained a buttload of wrestlers, football players, and other athletes. Here’s what he said on the topic.

Training for When The SHTF: Building Athleticism VS Building Toughness?

The Correct answer is you must do BOTH.

But there are PLENTY of guys getting caught up and duped with doing things like:

  • Barbell Cleans on 1 Leg with band suspen ded kettlebells hanging from the bar
  • Training with eyes closed, standing on one leg on a balance disc, performing ____________ exercises

The carry over of these circus trick exercises are not preparing combat athletes for the combat itself!

Perhaps worse, though, is that there are a lot of people who got caught up in the idea that you could somehow lift like a bodybuilder and be ready for trouble.

Not so much.

Instead, you need to train like a warrior. To do that, though, we probably need to take a page from Even-Esh. We need to train not like football players or baseball players, but closer to those who participate in combat sports.

In other words, we need to look at how to train like wrestlers and mixed martial artists. We need to train like warriors who compete, mostly because they’re the ones who are willingly putting themselves in “trouble.” It’s controlled trouble with rules and referees, but it’s as close as most of us will get.

Look, I’m a veteran. I have respect for my brothers and sisters in service, both past and present. However, they’re training isn’t really ideal for the modern Barbarian. That’s because we’re not soldiers. We’re not expecting to be called upon to be part of a large, organized force.

We’re warriors, people who will likely fight alone should the time come.

As a result, our training should reflect that. It should reflect our desire to deal with threats to us and our families, threats we didn’t go looking for but can’t exactly back down from.

The problem is that there’s not a whole lot of useful information on that topic. It’s out there, but even that is sometimes off.

Even-Esh’s approach is probably one of the better ones out there, since he focuses not just on making strong athletes, but tough ones as well. His training is designed to kick your butt so you know how to kick some butt.

And that’s what I think more of us need to understand. We need to train like a warrior not because we’re eager to fight. If you are, then take up MMA and get in the cage. Get it out of your system. Your training won’t change, you’ll just have a place to focus that bit of your personality.

For the rest of us, though, we train like warriors because we’re Barbarians. We’re not running from the fight that comes to us. We’re not backing down just because it’s expedient. We’ll take a whooping if that’s how it shakes out, but we’re not going to take a life-long feeling of cowardice.

And, at the end of the day, we’re still going to be stronger than we were. We’re still going to be conditioned. We’re still going to be all of those things we need to be.

We’ll just be a lot of other things as well.


Author: Tom

Tom is a husband, father, novelist, opinion writer, and former Navy Corpsman currently living in Georgia. He's also someone who has lost almost 60 pounds in a safe, sustainable way, so he knows what he's talking about.

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