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I was a total by-the-book bodybuilder for almost 13 years, and in some ways, it served me well. I looked strong, and I had some trophies to show for my many hours of hard work in the gym. Unfortunately, that didn’t tell the whole story.

I was also getting injured more often than other athletes, some of whom looked like they’d never touched a weight in their life. I was confused and pissed. Why was I in constant pain when I could squat 455, bench 300, and deadlift 500? How was this possible?

My frustration kept building until I made a drastic decision: I stopped lifting at the local gym and got rid of all machine and cable work. I went in the extreme opposite direction from what I had been doing.

I dropped my gym membership and began training—and training athletes—in my parents’ garage. All I had was a barbell, a squat stand, some dumbbells, the rocks in my backyard, and the local playground equipment.

My athletes and I would sprint up stairs and hills, push my SUV across the parking lot, and swing sledge hammers every workout.

Were these workouts perfect? Definitely not! But they helped build some of the toughest, strongest, and most successful athletes I’ve ever worked with, and helped them handle adversity beyond what their competition was able to do.

Here’s how to make the same approach work for you.

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