Wednesday, January 29, 2014


With Brett Jone's and Dr. Ed Thomas' Indian Club Workshop coming up in May, I thought it was a good time to revise this piece. Enjoy.  

The Secret Weapon for Heavy Pressing
By Steve “Coach Fury” Holiner

“If this article has peaked your interest or you’re looking to sharpen your existing skills, Brett Jones Indian club workshop is the way to go. It’s a fantastic workshop that has brought many clients my way and really elevated my understanding and competency with the clubs. More importantly, my shoulders feel better than ever.”
Steve “Coach Fury” Holiner

Like most middle-age folks, I battle with old injuries and what Master SFG Brett Jones would call “mileage on the chassis.” A quick note about me, I’ve been a skateboarder for over 25 years. I’ve done my time in skateparks, pools, on ledges and going down stairs on both a skateboard and a BMX bike. My body has acquired its mileage by being thrown against the concrete at high speeds and sometimes from decent heights. As a result, I have a lot “itis’s” (arthritis, tendonitis and bursitis). There have been loads of stitches, sprains, bruises, a few knockouts and a couple of surgeries derived from my hobbies. I’ve had two severe labral tears in my right shoulder that required the joint to be sewn back together. That is the injury that would go on to nag me the most.

Surgically repaired right shoulder aside, I love pressing heavy stuff overhead. Without staying on top of correctives, my FMS Shoulder Mobility score is usually a 2/1. That’s not the best for going overhead. So assuming I use FMS and Original Strength training to keep my shoulders at a 2/2, how do I keep my shoulders feeling great while pressing heavy?
My secret weapon is maintaining shoulder health and mobility while pressing heavy. The key weapon in my restorative arsenal is Indian club swinging.

Pressing kettlebells was one of the things that sold me on them. Being able to find that perfect pressing groove was a revelation for me. I never thought I’d lift anything heavy overhead again. I had given up on barbell pressing prior to finding bells. The barbell didn’t give me a comfortable groove. As my kb pressing got heavier and more consistent, my bursitis in the right shoulder started flaring up. Sometimes it was awful. Performing arm bars and crooked arm bars helped tremendously but it was when I started using Indian clubs that the pain started to go away entirely. For those unfamiliar with Indian club swinging, Indian clubs are 1 to 2 pound clubs that can be used individually or in pairs. There are set movement patterns that you swing the clubs in that help keep the shoulder moving fluidly and maintain a healthy range of motion ... they will keep your shoulders happy. Indian club swinging basics can be broken down into 5 movements. Movements 1 & 2 are individual to each other. Movements 3 through 5 are variations and combinations on movements 1 & 2.

If this has peaked your interest or you’re looking to sharpen your existing skills, Brett Jones Indian club workshop is the way to go. It’s a fantastic workshop that has brought many clients my way and really elevated my understanding and competency with the clubs. More importantly, my shoulders feel better than ever.

Ok, how do I use them? I’ll usually do 10-20 reps of each movement during my warm up and cool down. I perform 10-20 reps of one or two movements as active rest in between sets when doing any type of presses, pull-ups or get-ups.

Example with a pair of 1lb Indian Clubs: 5x Double 32kg Clean & Press
10x Movement 1
10x Movement 2

3x Double 36kg Clean & Press
20x Movement 4 20x Movement 5

When pressing near maximal, I tend to use a single 2 pound club for 10 reps of movements 1 & 2 per side. The two pound club gives helps to keep the shoulder more open and fresh on those heavy days.

Example with a single 2lb Indian Club: 2x 44kg Clean & Press
10x Movement 1
10x Movement 2

1x 48kg Clean & Press

This scenario has worked for me through 3 rounds of Dan John’s 40 Day Workouts which had me pressing (and doing weighted pull-ups) 5 days a week. You don’t need to see the results of Indian club swinging. You need to feel them. Who cares what you’re putting up anyway if you’re body feels like crap after? Think of it as pre-greasing the groove. There’s my secret weapon to heavy pressing. Having a healthy shoulder. Now go order some Indian clubs, get swinging and press something heavy.

– Fury out

Steve "Coach Fury" Holiner is a Strength Coach at Five Points Academy in NYC. Coach Fury is a StrongFirst SFG II, SFL, SFB, a DVRT Master Instructor, an Original Strength Specialist and a CK-FMS. Fury is also involved in hosting workshops at Five Points. Steve offers classes, semi-private, private and online coaching.

You can visit, facebook/coachfury or http:/ to get in contact or learn more about Steve.

Register at
Or, contact Phil Scarito—610.306.3627—

Monday, January 27, 2014


One should never underestimate the power of breathing as the first cue. Training strength related skills can only progress so far (if it all) if a person is unable to breath correctly. 

I've been training my friend Demitry Genin on and off for around 7 months. There have been long gaps due to his work schedule and back related tweaks. Being into RuckFit and Spartan race type challenges, Demitry is pretty damn strong. He'll easily walk 2 miles twice a day with a 40lb bag of bricks on his back a few times a week. However, he'd also easily pull a muscle his back lifting a relatively light weight. Quite frankly, Demitry really couldn't get his abs to contract to support himself correctly.
What was the missing key? Demitry had been unable to brace. And why was he unable to brace? Because he has been unable to dial in diaphragmatic breathing first. 

Many of us StrongFirst, FMS and DVRT types have used crocodile breathing to help people acquire the diaphragmatic breathing pattern. I went through a large barrage of drills to help Demitry feel what we were looking for, but it just wouldn't connect. We would make progress on his skill technique from a mechanical level, but could not load it due to the lack of proper abdominal tension protecting his back. As a Paramedic, Demitry would often over think"belly breathing" from a medical standpoint. I actually referred him to our mutual friend and fellow Paramedic, Mitch Schwartz, RKC to help. Mitch hit similar roadblocks. 

Enter the Original Strength workshop at Five Points Academy. During this incredible one and half day  workhsop, Tim Anderson and Joe Sansalone went over a wide variety of breathing progressions and regressions. It really upped my arsenal and gave me some great ideas to help Demitry out.
 At the start of our next session, I had Demitry try a few prone breathing positions. Instead of lying completely flat on his stomach, he rested on his elbows. Something started to click. I then had him move into a rocking position. That's when the lightbulb lit up. For the first time, he was able to breath in and out of his diaphragm. 
We then moved into deadbugs and he was finally able to feel his abs naturally fire up. After the deadbugs, I had him stand up and continue breathing. Proving that he could still maintain the pattern while standing, I then had him tense everything after every third inhale, then relax and start over. This was a huge moment. He was bracing. 
Next, we walked over to a 20kg kettlebell (heavier than he would normally use), he'd breath and then brace on the third breath, hold it and pull himself into the deadlift. The kettlebell came up with ease, and more importantly no pain. 
A huge smile came over his face. In his words, "Zero on the back. That was perfect. Not a twinge, nothing. That's the breakthrough right there."
It was one of my prouder moments as a trainer. I was so happy for him. For the first time, you could see that Demitry finally saw a strong future ahead of him. A future that wasn't going to be hampered by the same repetitive injures. All he had to do was learn to breath (and then brace).

-Fury out.

Steve "Coach Fury" Holiner is a Strength Coach at Five Points Academy in NYC. Coach Fury is an Original Strength Specialist, a DVRT Master Instructor and a StrongFirst SFG II, SFL and SFB Instructor. Fury is also involved in hosting workshops at Five Points. You can visit www.coachfury.comfacebook/coachfury or @coachfury to get in contact or learn more about Steve.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Damn, this was a big year. So much great stuff went down it's  difficult to wrap my head around it. This was easily my most productive and successful year as a coach. I'm going to focus on the strength side of things for this recap.  All of my students hit goals and PRs throughout the year. I am super proud of them. I was fortunate to either attend, host or assist several workshops and earn some new certifications in the process. It blows my mind to think of how many great instructors I've had the honor of learning from and the friends I've made this year. Here are the workshop highlights in chronological order. 

Primal Move Certification with Andrea U-Shi Chang and Zar Horton. 
I was first introduced to Primal Move by creator Peter Lakatos at the Marketing Mastermind Intensive in 2012. This was a no brainer to me (and to the crew of the two sold out workshops we held at Five Points Academy). Andrea and Zar are top notch on their own, but they unite to become Voltron when they team up. They're also part of the extended Five Points family.  I immediately began incorporating Primal Move and the PFE into several of my classes an students training. I credit Primal Move for getting me back on a skateboard. 

RKC, Marlboro, NJ with Thomas Phillips.
This was a last minute request to assist and I was happy to help. Aside from Andrea DuCane, Thomas was the only member of the RKC that had taught at one of my certs and remained. He is the real deal and I looked forward to learning from him and seeing what the new "smaller" RKCs would be like. I would also get to meet the other Instructors, Matt Maher and Jody Phillips. All are good people that know what they're talking about. This was my second time assisting an RKC and it will stand out as the first time I got to lead the room for a bit. I will always be grateful to Thomas for that. As usual, friends were made. Attendee, now RKC, Pearl Christensen has come out to assist Coach Fury's Kettlebell Club a couple of times. This would go down as the last time I would be involved with the RKC. I went out on a high note. 

StrongFirst SFG, Boston. Class 2. Team Farrington.
How did I end up here? That went through my head on several occasions. The second StrongFirst SFG in the USA and I got assist. This was epic and emotional on many levels. There was a palpable sense of excitement and also some sadness as the Boston Marathon bombing had occurred just days earlier. The energy in the room when Pavel first walked in was insane. I got to see some old friends and make a ton of new ones. I was lucky to be put on Team Farrington. Lauren Perreault and Matt Blankenship assisted with me. Candidates and fellow Five Pointers, Hannah Fons and David Russo also ended up on the team and crushed it. If you haven't worked with Officer Ron before, he is great at finding the the perfect cue for the desired result. He's quite the Jedi that way. I also met Debbie Whaley Hayes for the first time. I would see her a lot this year. This will go down as a benchmark for me. It was stellar. Big thanks for my buddy (and now TL) Mike Perry for letting me train at  his place, Skill of Strength, beforehand. 

K.A.T. Workshop with Gus and Karen Petersen.
Holy crap this was a fun one. If you love kettlebells, you owe it to yourself to learn juggling from Gus and Karen. It's a total blast trying to make catches and add reps. Getting to hang with my boys, Matt Flaherty and Ari Harris, was awesome. Practicing the timing and hand eye coordination is an excellent addition to your normal training. It's awesome stuff. I also got to meet Glenna Lampner here. Glenna would later train with me for her SFG and now her SFG II. She has also become one of my good friends. Don't miss out the next time a Kettlebell Athletic Training workshop is in your town. Gus, the Zen Viking, is someone you want to meet and learn from. This was strength training fun in it's purest form. 

StrongFirst SFG User Courses with Phil Scarito.
Phil was my Team Leader at both my RKC and RKC II. He's a great friend of Five Points and someone I have the highest respect for. I am extremely happy and proud for him as he's been promoted to Master SFG. That said, Five Points Academy hosted and I assisted two SFG User Course in NYC and we had a solid crowd both times. Matt Flaherty and, my kettlebell hero, Emily Bearden assisted as well. 

StrongFirst SFG II, Philly. Team Nepodal.  
I had been helping a few people train for this one and had already intended to drive out for the dinner to see some friends. I had been dealing with some lower back issues since June, but I decided at the last minute to send in a video. Well, you have to love emails from Nikki Shlosser, because I was invited to assist. This was the first SFG II in the United States. It's hard to explain the vibe of a level II if you haven't gone through one. It's a huge family reunion. Brett Jones did a great job leading this one. I always love working at Phil Scarito's place. As luck would have it, I ended up on Team Nepodal. Doug was the only Instructor I hadn't worked with before and I was stoked to finally meet and work with him. His wife Laura is also rad. I got the added bonus of assisting with Joe Sansalone and Nikki Gargano Snow. Nikki, Mark Snow and I got to recert together during the set-up. The Snows are gold in my book. Once again, Hannah ended up on my team and she killed it. Debbie was there too. I also saw folks that I had assisted at either their HKC, RKC or SFG stepping up their game. It was a proud moment to see so many people sticking with it. I learned a ton here! Made more friends and got some quality time in with the StrongFirst crew. This event also marked my 3 year anniversary as a Student of Strength. Simply epic. I officially resigned my RKC status shortly after. Fury is StrongFirst. 

I had met Jen Frankel and Adriene Couvillion at the last HKC I assisted with Phil Ross. They would both later train with me toward an SFG. They introduced me to the one and only Mark Fisher of Mark Fisher Fitness fame. Mark is an awesome guy and he has created a real special place at MFF. I got to do a short workshop focusing on the Turkish Get Up and Snatch there. His crew of ninjas were amazing. Hannah did an awesome job helping me out. I look forward to getting back there. This will go down as the first workshop with me as the lead. It won't be the last. I'll never forget it. Unicorn magic abounds!

StrongFirst SFL, Virginia Beach with Pavel Tsatsouline and Michael Hartle.
From the moment StrongFirst launched, the SFL certification was the one I was the most excited to take. Lower back issues kept me from the first one in July, but I made damn sure I was at the second. This was only 2.5 weeks after the SFG II. Karen McDowell Smith did a great job hosting and Jason Marshall rounded out the instructor crew. I've said it before, the SFL is just as vital to barbell training as the SFG is to kettlebells. This was an outstanding workshop with tons of hands on practice and a goldmine of programming wisdom. The SFL manual alone is priceless. We were a smaller group of about 30 folks which meant tons of individual attention from Pavel, Doc Hartle, Jason and Karen. As always, lasting friendships were made. The cool thing was that you could really see how much Pavel loved the barbell. He was having fun. It was great finally getting to work with Doc Hartle. He's awesome. I had a blast rooming with my favorite blacksmith and cheesemaker, John Heinz. I also accidentally trashed a rental car with Scott Iardella. Always purchase the extra insurance! Great times. 

DVRT Master Instructor Workshop, Scottsdale, AZ with Josh Henkin, Jessica Bento and Troy Anderson
How do you follow up the SFL? Try flying out to AZ three days later to be a part of the DVRT (Dynamic Variable Resistance Training) Master Instructor workshop. I first certified with Josh a month after I became an RKC. Josh is an outstanding coach and an even better guy. Jessica and Troy are also superstars. They run Ultimate Sandbags and the DVRT program out of pure heart, integrity and belief in what they do. I have so much respect for them. I was honored to be asked to become a DVRT Master Instructor. Truly honored. This was a great time. I only knew a few people heading out but I left with a bunch of new friends. Yes, it's a broken record. You go to these things. You learn. You make friends. Yes, it rules. I was stoked to be able to go to this one with my good friend Gavin Van Vlack. He's the guy that introduced me to Ultimate Sandbags. All of the Master Instructors broke in the new Clean and Push Press Test. It was an awesome (and exhausting) bonding experience. Unhappy with my first performance, I put myself through the test again the next day which resulted in me adding seven reps. Josh couldn't decide if I did it out of passion or punishment. Either way, I'm cool with seven more reps. Big thanks to Joe Chalakee, James Newman, Dio Vujich, Gavin Van Vlack and Jason Balajadia  for cheering me on. I look forward to running DVRT Workshops in 2014. The first one is at fellow OG Ari Harris' place. I also look forward to helping Rich Mejias, Danny Twoguns and Dio prep for their SFG in July. 

StrongFirst SFG, Toronto with Jon Engum and Fabio Zonin. Team Engum. 
On the second day of the DVRT workshop I got asked by Jon Engum if I wanted to assist in Toronto 2 weeks later. Hell yeah I did! Jon's also part of the extended Five Points family and I was excited to work with him. This was also my first chance to meet and work with my favorite Italian metalhead Fabio Zonin. I knew my good buddy Ari was assisting, role model Cole Summers was on board and I got to meet Chris Lopez. The cert was held at Bang Fitness. This spot and it's trainers impressed the hell out of me. If you're in Toronto you should be training at Bang. I was amped to lead the segment on overspeed eccentric and a "practical application" session. Jon, Cole and I would be reunited 2 weeks later at the SFB in NYC. The entire band is getting back together for The Dome of Strength!

StrongFirst SFB with Jon Engum. Team Moss. 
The first StrongFirst cert in NY was held at Five Points. I ran double duty as host for the weekend and attendee. I look at the SFB this way: The SFG II is the one I had. The SFL is the one I wanted. The SFB is the one I needed. I learned how to create even more tension and apply it without load than I ever had before. Stepping up that skill alone has upped my game in everything else. Cole Summers,  Eric Moss and Josh Halbert rounded out the instructor team. Jon and crew did an excellent job. I got to partner with my buddies John Heinz and Ron Farrington and nailed the OAOLPU on the third try. So stoked! The first Slumber Party of Strength went down at my place with Seth Thomas, Aris DeMarco and Josh all sleeping over. This was a great way to end the year with my friends and StrongFirst family at Five Points Academy. 

Other highlights.
Ken Froese' Groundflow and  Zar and Andrea's Instructor Toolbox were both excellent workshops you should keep your eyes out for. In my opinion the Toolbox is a must do. It's been invaluable to me as a coach. Ken's Groundflow is a great yin to hardstyle's yang. It's a pleasure to watch Ken move. The big guy who was pressing double beasts when I met him, now moves with total ease and grace. 

After almost 3 years of bringing hardstyle to Brooklyn, I turned Coach Fury's Kettlebell Club over to my friend Bill Chiu. This was a rough call. I'm extremely proud of what the club accomplished (and continues to do so). However, I needed to spend more time with my kids in the morning. A rough but right decision. 

Here come the shouts outs. 
The back trouble I mentioned earlier plagued me for about half the year. There was a period where I couldn't stand or bear any weight. I also had a massive decrease in overall strength. This wasn't the result of a specific lift or accident. It was the result of small compensations catching up with me over years. This was incredibly stressful due to all of the testing, recerting and travel I had to undergo. I have to give HUGE thanks to Paul Kemawikasit, Kathy Dooley, Tim Anderson and Charlie Weingroff for getting me through this. I would not have accomplished all I did without them. I guarantee you that next year will be my strongest year ever!

To Steve Milles, Emily Bearden, Simon Burgess, Kevin McGrath and the Five Points crew, Thank you for your continued support. It will never be forgotten. Five Points means the world to me. 

To Pavel Tsatsouline, Mark Toomey, Nikki Shlosser, George Samuelson, Phil Scarito, Brett Jones and Doug Nepodal. Thanks for all the amazing opportunities this year. Next year will be even better! I am proud to be a part of StrongFirst. You guys rock. 

To Josh Henkin and Jessica Bento, Thanks for allowing me to represent DVRT as a Master Instructor.  It's a true honor. I won't let you down. 

To Jon Engum, John Heinz, Ron Farrington and Andrea U-Shi Chang, Thank you for your continued guidance. I try to pay it forward to others the way you have for me. 

To all of my other teachers, mentors, students and friends, I am a better man thanks to you!

To Kim, You're the best. I couldn't have done this without you. Love you. 

Happy New Year everyone. Cheers to a prosperous and strong 2014.

-Fury out

Steve "Coach Fury" Holiner is a Strength Coach at Five Points Academy in NYC. Coach Fury holds the triple threat as  StrongFirst SFG II, SFL and SFB Instructor. As a DVRT Master Instructor, Fury developed the popular Ultimate Sandbag and Dynamic Strength programs at the gym. Fury is also involved in hosting workshops at Five Points. You can visit www.coachfury.comfacebook/coachfury or @coachfury to get in contact or learn more about Steve.