Product Review

This page features products I’ve tried and found to be excellent, along with why I thought the products were great. Hope this helps you in your decisions on purchasing products of these types.


Matt Furey’s Combat Conditioning – Review

May 13, 2015


A few years back a guy told me about Combat Conditioning.  Frankly, I was skeptical.  I was really into just lifting weights back then, so I gave the Combat Conditioning workout a half-hearted attempt or two, then set it aside to collect dust.

Fast forward a few years to the present.  Last week I was sitting around the house after a day at work.  I wanted to exercise, but I did not want to drive to the gym.  I thought, “Is there anything I can do that will give me a good workout without having to drive to the gym?”  I looked around the room, and there on the bookshelf was the copy of Combat Conditioning I had purchased so long ago.  I decided to give it a try.

Now, a little over a week later, I’ve just finished my 5th Combat Conditioning workout.  I have been pleasantly surprised by the program.  I like the workout for several reasons.

– Combat Conditioning is cool because it is convenient.  I don’t have to drive to a gym.  I don’t need any equipment.  I don’t have to worry about missing a workout because the gym is closed.

– Combat Conditioning saves time (our most valuable commodity) because I don’t have to drive anywhere to workout, I don’t have to wait my turn for any gym apparatus, and the workout itself doesn’t take a lot of time.

– Combat Conditioning is good to my wallet because it cost very little (especially when compared to a gym membership), because I don’t burn gas traveling back and forth to the gym, and because I don’t have to get a babysitter or pay to keep my kids in the gym’s childcare facility while I go workout.

– Combat Conditioning is effective because it is challenging and can be an intense workout that works the entire body.  Also, it works the body the way the body works every day, i.e. as a unit.  Think about this.  When we go about our daily activities, we don’t use any muscles in isolation.  When we walk somewhere, when we pick up our child or a jug of milk, even when we just stand up, we are using multiple muscles throughout the body.  Combat Conditioning helps us to become stronger in a very natural way — by exercising the body using multi-joint, multi-muscle exercises.

Concerning the workout itself, the Combat Conditioning program is a bodyweight workout with 3 exercises that form the foundation, or “Royal Court” as author Matt Furey calls them, of the workout.  The Royal Court consists of three exercises:

Hindu SquatsHinduSquats,

Hindu PushupsHinduPushups,

and Bridges.Bridge  In addition to the Royal Court, there are dozens of other “supplementary” exercises that can be added to the workout to add challenge and variety.  Matt Furey recommends performing the Royal Court for a month before adding additional supplementary exercises.  I think this recommendation is prudent for nearly any person that hasn’t in the past done the exercises Mr. Furey recommends.  This is because not only are the exercises pretty tough physically, they’re also kind of hard to master…at least they were for me.  As a beginner to the workout, I’ve found the Royal Court to be challenging, especially The Bridge exercise.

As I right this blog post, I’ve done the workout five times.  Mr. Furey recommends exercising every day.  I’ve been doing the workout roughly every other day, although I think I’m going to increase my workout frequency to 6 times per week.  In addition to the Combat Conditioning program, I’m still doing some cardio work, and will probably continue doing some weightlifting, although I haven’t lifted weights since starting the CC program a little over a week ago.  Right now, since I’ve only been doing the program for about a week and a half, I’m doing only the Royal Court.  After I finish the Royal Court, I do a front plank, side plank (on each side), then a back plank.  For me, this has been a great workout!

Now, as with anything, in addition to the pluses, there are some minuses.  Here are what some people may consider to be the less positive attributes of the CC program:

– There’s not much instruction on diet.  M. Furey does provide some judicious advice on what to eat at the beginning of the CC book.  However, that advice is 1 small paragraph long.  What you eat, how much you eat, and how often you eat are all your choice.  So, if you’re looking for in-depth dieting advice, look elsewhere.

– The CC program is a do-it-yourself program.  You get out what you put in.  However, isn’t that true of pretty much any endeavor?  With CC, you are required to motivate yourself.  How hard you exercise, the pace at which you exercise, how long you exercise is all up to you.

– If you’re looking to get “huge” like a bodybuilder, then the CC program isn’t for you.  This program will give you functional strength and the muscle tone that comes along with that type of strength development.  If you’re looking to be a beast in wrestling (like Matt Furey), or in football, or in basketball, or any other kind of sport or activity (like everyday life) where you need to use your strength to accomplish a goal, then the CC program will likely be a great addition to your exercise regimen.

In summary, Combat Conditioning is a great program.  However, it is a do-it-yourself program.  If you have the discipline and motivation to work the program, then it will work for you.  If functional (i.e. useful, useable, coordinated) strength is important for you, then Combat Conditioning will work for you.  If you’re looking for nice muscle tone and development and you don’t care or want to look like a bodybuilder, then Combat Conditioning will work for you.  If diet either isn’t an issue for you, or you’re willing to consult other sources for diet details, then Combat Conditioning is a good option for you.  My plan is to do the Royal Court for a month, then to start incorporating more of the supplementary exercises.  What about you?  If you give it a try, let me know how it works for you.

— Darryl


Adding Muscle with Deadlifts

November 7, 2010


Want to build muscle? Then stick with the basics, i.e. the basic exercises — squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press, chin-ups, and dips.

The best book I’ve seen on these exercises is this one:

I highly recommend this book.  When getting started on barbell training, pick up the above book and/or get a qualified trainer to show you correct exercise technique.

The video below discusses the deadlift, but is for informational purposes only, and does not take the place of a trainer.  Check it out.

YouTube Preview Image

Fat Measurement Method Verified!

March 16, 2010


We’ve already discussed the fact that when you’re attempting to lose fat weight, keeping up with your body fat percentage is as important, if not more so, than just looking at your total body weight on a scale (see http://www.darrylpace.com/weight-no-longer-2/).

Also, in the blog post here, http://www.darrylpace.com/measuring-body-fat/, we discussed some methods for measuring body fat levels .

The method I’ve used for years has been the skin caliper method.  However, I’ve always been curious about its accuracy.

Back in 1997 (I think), I had my body fat percentage measured in a Bod Pod.  The calipers seemed to give me results close to what the Bod Pod did.  Still though, I wondered how the calipers compared to the “gold standard” of body fat measurement — hydrostatic weighing.

Fast forward to the present.  After searching high and low for a place where hydrostatic weighing was available to the public, I finally found one.  I got my body fat measured via the hydrostatic method one week ago (March 3, 2010).  My body fat percentage was 9% at a body weight of 222 lbs.

How did this compare with the skin calipers?  According to the calipers my body fat percentage is 9.2%.  So, the two methods seem to be very close.iStock_000008942669XSmall

There are pluses and minuses to both methods.

Concerning Hydrostatic weighing, it is not cheap.  My weighing cost me $50.  Also, as I stated in a previous blog post, you have to strip down to swimming trunks (which can be inconvenient), and it can be difficult just to find a place that provides hydrostatic weighing.

An additional minus regarding the hydrostatic weighing technique is that it is uncomfortable…or at least I found it to be.  The uncomfortable part was the feeling I got after exhaling as much air as I possibly could while under water.  It just didn’t feel good.

The primary plus of the water weighing method is its accuracy.  It is considered THE most accurate method for measuring body fat for a live human being (a cadaver can be more definitively measured by chemical analysis where the body is dissolved in a chemical solution).

In addition to being accurate, the facility that provides the hydrostatic weighing service may provide additional information in their analysis of your body.  For example, along with my body fat percentage, they gave me personalized calorie estimates for maintaining my weight (3552 calories per day), losing 1 or 2 pounds per week (3052 and 2552 calories/day, respectively), or gaining 1 or 2 pounds per week (4052 and 4552 calories).  They also provided personalized estimated calorie expenditures for various activities (basketball, aerobics, swimming, etc.), and a chart of body fat recommendations and categories for various age groups.

Of course, you could just get a pair of skin calipers for around $7.  In the privacy of your own home, you could measure your body fat fairly accurately (within 2 – 4% of a hydrostatic weighing) time and time again, until the calipers wear out.  You might not get the extra informational goodies (maintenance calorie level, etc.) when you take a measurement, but who cares.  It’s your body fat percentage you’re interested in, not the other stuff.

Darryl


Pre-Review: Matt Furey’s Combat Conditioning

December 31, 2009


Some time ago, darrylpace.com reader, Steve Chambers, asked me my opinion of the “Combat Conditioning” (CC) program by Matt Furey.  This is the first of two posts on this program.

This post is my opinion of the program, having read the book, but not having performed the exercises.

In the book, Matt says that he tried weights in high school, but that they didn’t give him “functional strength and endurance”.  He also stated that, “in the back of my mind…I knew that there had to be exercises without weights that were better than anything else I was doing”.  And he says further that “bodybuilders don’t have much for endurance…and…in most cases…they aren’t very strong”.

Well, although I don’t consider myself a bodybuilder, I do lift free weights (barbells and dumbbells), I do cardiovascular exercise in the form of running (usually on a treadmill, but sometimes outdoors) and an elliptical machine, and I stretch regularly.  I consider myself to be in pretty good shape and, in comparison to the average guy, I think I’m pretty strong.  In fact, a martial artist/wrestler I wrestled with said that in his 20+ years of fighting, he had never wrestled anyone as strong as me.  Nevertheless, because Matt Furey feels that his program is superior to weights, I’m going to take some time off lifting weights and do his program exclusively…or at the very least, I’ll cut back on lifting weights in order to incorporate some Combat Conditioning workouts into my fitness regimen.  Then, I’ll post a second review of the Combat Conditioning program.

Anyway, on to my initial thoughts about the CC (Combat Conditioning) program.  Let’s call this post the “pre-review”, or a pre-having-done-the-workout-review.

Matt Furey’s Combat Conditioning program is a group of calisthenic exercises.  Three of the exercises are the core of the program.  Matt calls these three exercises the “Royal Court”, and he says that these exercises are “the three most important exercises for developing the entire body”.  Those three exercises are Hindu Squats, Hindu pushups, and bridging.

Hindu Squats work most of your body, but more so the lower body than other parts of your body.  Hindu pushups also work most of the body, but they put a greater deal of stress on your upper body.  Bridging helps with neck and back strength and flexibility.

Those three exercises are described in detail, then the rest of the book describes “supplementary exercises” and “sample combat conditioning routines”.

All of the exercises are performed with body weight, so you don’t need extra equipment.  This is a plus.  This enables you to do a Combat Conditioning workout any time, anywhere; whether you’re at home, in the office, on the road…wherever, whenever you desire.

Matt provides a wide range of exercises in his book in the supplementary exercises section.  These exercises provide variety to the Combat Conditioning program.  I get the impression that the supplementary exercises are meant to complement the Royal Court.  In other words, you should do one or more of the Royal Court exercises in every workout; then, add one or more of the supplementary exercises to your workout in order to liven things up.  But, who knows, I could be wrong about that.  Matt has a Q&A section, which I’ve not yet read, at the back of his book.  Maybe he addresses this in that section.

Matt doesn’t cover diet in depth in his book.  He instead gives some general diet pointers in one paragraph at the introductory portion of the Combat Conditioning book.  This is an area where additional information wouldn’t hurt.  I say this because as a general rule, if you want to lose fat, you likely won’t be successful unless you adjust your diet to help you lose fat, and many people may desire specific instructions on how and what to eat.  Nevertheless, if you closely follow Matt’s advice in the paragraph on what you eat, you should lose fat, if that’s your aim.

Overall, the calisthenic exercises in the Combat Conditioning program are meant to make those that perform them regularly functionally strong.  It appears to me that the exercises will do exactly that.  By “functionally strong”, Matt is talking about strength you can use any time, and in particular when in a one-on-one wrestling or fighting situation.

It does NOT appear to me that the exercises will make a person as strong as weight lifting…at least not in the movements the weight lifter performs.  The Combat Conditioning program likely will NOT make a person build big muscles, so if big muscles are what you want, you should probably look elsewhere.

Because the body becomes stronger in the specific movements we use to exercise it in, the CC program likely WILL make you capable in lifting your body weight, or a portion of it, in many different ways for many repetitions.  If you think about it, this is what a wrestler or fighter needs to do, i.e. have the capability to manipulate a body that is his/her size (e.g. a person in their weight class) for the purpose of being maximally effective in combat.  In the process of developing this “functional” strength, this program can change the way you look IF you eat right.

Overall, the program looks pretty good.  I’m looking forward to giving it a try — especially the neck bridging exercise — and I’ll report on Combat Conditioning’s effectiveness after trying it for a few weeks.

Darryl


Measuring Body Fat

September 30, 2009


In a previous blog post, I mentioned that body weight is made up of a lot more than fat, and that when a person is engaged in a weight loss effort, that person should measure fat loss in addition to weight loss in order to get a clearer picture of what their body is doing.  Health expert extraordinaire, Katie, asked this question: “how do you propose for someone to keep track of body fat percentage on a weekly basis?”

There are several methods available for measuring body fat percentage.  Each has benefits and negatives.  Let’s look at a few.

Hydrostatic weighing. This is considered the gold standard of body composition measurement. You’ll get an accurate measurement via this method. That’s the major plus. But, if you want to be hydrostatically weighed, you first have to find a place that has the equipment AND that will allow you to use it. I’ve found this combination to be elusive.  Also, if you chose this method, be sure to pack your thin nylon swimsuit because you’ll be in a tub or pool of water, and you need to wear as little as possible so that your clothing influences the measurement as little as possible.  For these reasons, I consider this method inconvenient.

The Bod Pod.  Like hydrostatic weighing, this method is accurate.  Also like hydrostatic weighing, it can be tough to find one of these devices, although I think they are more readily available than hydrostatic weighing facilities.  I used a Bod Pod on the campus of Georgia Tech a few years ago.  I was charged on a per use basis.  I don’t remember the exact cost, but it was in the $35 to $50 range, per use.  Even though I had to strip down to a tight fitting swimsuit (which was a little embarrassing), the device was otherwise a pleasure to use.  The cost however, makes it impractical to use on a frequent basis.

Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA).  This is the method used by the scales you step on barefoot that give you a body fat measurement, or the hand-held thingies that you grip with both hands. This method is convenient. The devices themselves are not very expensive (as cheap as about $30), and it requires very little effort on the user’s part.  The problem with this method is its accuracy.  Your hydration level, your surface skin temperature, and whether or not you are very lean or obese all affect the accuracy of devices that use BIA to predict body composition.  I have found this method to be wildly inaccurate.

Skinfold Fat Measurement.  This is the method used when you have your fat estimated using a skin caliper.  I compared the measurements I got using a skin caliper to those I got using the Bod Pod, and found this method to be fairly accurate (within 2% or so).  The Accu-Measure skin caliper is the one I used, and I’ve now used it regularly for years.  It is inexpensive, easy to use, and convenient.  The limitations I’ve found with these calipers is that they max out at roughly 25 – 30% body fat for men, and 35 – 40% for women, so they wouldn’t be appropriate for those that have very high body fat levels.  Also, after having used the caliper for a few years, the lever arm that audibly clicks to let you know that the measurement is complete stops making the clicking sound, which makes it a little tougher to know when to stop pinching your skin fold.  Overall, however, this instrument is very good.  I use it on a weekly basis.


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Matt Furey’s Combat Conditioning – Review | May 13, 2015 |

A few years back a guy told me about Combat Conditioning.  Frankly, I was skeptical.  I was really into just (...)

Adding Muscle with Deadlifts | November 7, 2010 |

Want to build muscle? Then stick with the basics, i.e. the basic exercises — squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead (...)

Fat Measurement Method Verified! | March 16, 2010 |

We’ve already discussed the fact that when you’re attempting to lose fat weight, keeping up with your body fat percentage (...)

Pre-Review: Matt Furey’s Combat Conditioning | December 31, 2009 |

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Measuring Body Fat | September 30, 2009 |

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