How to Accomplish the Eagle

Coach Dan John has been an incredible influencer of many trainers over the past 10 years+, myself included. He has an incredible way of breaking down exercises and training methodology into the simplest nuggets of information that even the slowest of idiots, myself included can digest.

He also has a talent for creating programs and routines that’ll build any man-child into a warrior and any girly-girl into a feisty warrior princess!

One such routine is called the Eagle, which I wrote about before. Check it out

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Down to Business

The following 8 week program is just one of many solutions to help accomplishing the Eagle program described below by Dan John. I am pretty sure many other trainers could build a method to take on and of course, complete the Eagle with ease and mastery. My plan is simple, direct and yes, it works fine. Just follow the dam plan.

‘The athlete simply does 8 double-kettlebell front squats and then drops the weight to his sides and does a farmer’s walk for 20 meters. He then does another 8 squats. Repeat until completing eight circuits and then hurl in a bush because the workload is incredible. The suggested load for a high school male is two 24-kilo bells while females should start with 12-kilo bells. (While the suggested load may seem light, oftentimes the goal wasn’t met.)’ Dan John

Now, the program below is written to look like it takes a linear progression, gradually building up the volume and work capacity. However, what I heavily suggest doing are back-steps any time you feel the need. For example, let’s say you get to week 5, day 5 and realise you cannot complete the session. I’d suggest that the following session you return to week 3 and repeat it for a slightly less stressful week. You may of course just go back one week if week 5 was only slightly unbearable! Be reasonable with yourself.

I personally completed this program in 12 weeks haha. I back-stepped a couple of times to gain better mastery of the squat volume and arm endurance. I’ve weak arms!

Even though this is an intensive 8 week program it isn’t worth busting yourself up over. Consider this program a ‘mastery of the Squat and Carry’ combination. You don’t want to complete it feeling crap and beaten up. You want to finish the complete Eagle challenge session at the end, competently, safely and with a smile on your dial.

Each week the program comprises of a mobility and conditioning session, a medium effort squat and mixed loaded carry session and a heavier going squat and farmers walk session. The work to rest ratio is different for these squat and carry sessions.

Maybe follow a Monday, Wednesday and Saturday plan of assault but, ultimately it is up to you how you lay your week out with other factors considered, just don’t try to complete the sessions on back to back days. Rest more if needed.

Ideally take a day or two of active rest between these 3 sessions. And talking earlier of not getting beaten up, the days when you’re not squatting and carrying, I wholeheartedly recommend that you carry out a full routine of Original Strength resets along with wrist mobility (VIDEO HERE).

 

Once you have the program completed, take 4 days active recovery before tackling the Eagle.

 

Prerequisite

The Eagle and this program, requires the trainee to be able to perform front squats and farmers carries with two 24kg kettlebells for gents and two 12kg kettlebells for ladies. If unable to squat and carry these loads for 10 reps, then another program is required to be able to do that before tackling this. If that is the case, get in touch and i’ll sort you out.

 

Without further ado, here’s the PLAN…


Session 1

This session should remain relatively consistent throughout the program, only progressing any of the moves as and when you feel it necessary.

Week 1, day 1 starts with this – measure yourself… just in case anything grows or shrinks!

  • Measure hips at widest and waist around the belly button line.
  • Measure your thigh circumference too, mid way between your knee cap (knee bent) and the crease of your hips.
Routine
  • Warm up with Original Strength movements
  • Spend 10 mins alternating between a hardstyle plank and active hangs.

Or

  • Spend 10 mins alternating between the hollow and suspension ring rows
  • Finish with the Brettzel Stretch and rolling

There are no specific reps or sets, just work within your limits, do what feels like you’re working something but not busting your gut.

 


SESSION 2

This session works on increasing work capacity (the ability to do more in a given time) using ‘on the minute’ (OTM) timing. Each minute on the minute, you start the superset of squats and carries or cleans as specified. Whilst the sessions may only be 5 to 8 minutes in length, they pack a punch. Enjoy!

Warm up with a thorough mobility session of Original Strength movements.

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Cool Down with rocks, rolls and the brettzel stretch. I’d recommend wrist mobility exercises too.

 


SESSION 3

Session 3 builds endurance as you gradually superset the squat and carry more and more over the sessions. This time however, the carry remains the farmers walk. The carries build up in frequency over the weeks.

The final session sees you actually accumulate the Eagle volume of squats and carries at which point, carrying two 24s will be feeling more comfortable.

The squats will be increased with a simple rep ladder progression, from 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 reps building up to 8 sets of 8 reps.

Work to rest periods are similar to session 2, roughly a 1:2 work rest ratio but as you progress, feel free to play with this.

I encourage the use of rocks and head nods as a reset or active recoveries between sets.

When you (c. 20) this simply means to carry for 20 steps (we’re just considering a step a metre for this program) immediately after the squat set, as a superset.

Warm up with a thorough mobility session of Original Strength movements.

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Cool Down with rocks, rolls and the brettzel stretch. I’d recommend wrist mobility exercises too.

Take four days active rest, then tackle the Eagle. You might want to measure out the 20m for the carries so you’ve one less thing to worry about during the challenge.

This rest period would also be a good time to retake those measurements from Week 1, Day 1.

Let me know how you got on and what size differences you recorded if any.

program printable pdf
Questions?

Post them on https://www.facebook.com/FitStrongPT/

Email: jamie@fitstrong.com.au

Good luck,

Jamie Hunter

FitStrong PT

 

DISCLAIMER The author and publisher of this material are not responsible in any manner whatsoever for any injury that may occur through following the instructions contained in this material. The activities, physical and otherwise, described herein for informational purposes only, may be too strenuous or dangerous for some people. Always consult a physician before engaging in an exercise regimen.

 

Dan Johns ‘The Eagle’

The Eagle

Look, any workout called the Eagle is not necessarily worthy of attention… except when it’s the offspring of Dan Johns eagle eyed appreciation for simplicity (see what I did there? What a literary genius I am!)

Two exercises that alone are challenging to accomplish for 8 sets of roughly 20-30 seconds each are made even more warrior building when alternated for the same 8 sets – CONTINUOUSLY!

Correct, you interpreted that bold typed word precisely. Non-stop by another name but all the same, a gruelling combination of two simple moves. One a great loaded patterning movement and one, a grinding compounding lift.

8 Double Kettlebell Front Squats &  Farmers Walk for 20 meters X 8 rounds!!!

The beauty of these two lifts can be repeated with other combinations I’ll list later, but the combination of the squat and carry make for such a comprehensive training session. The metabolic thrust it’ll produce will make you want to raid the kitchen larder before raiding the kitchens of your nearest neighbours, once you’ve stopped crying of course when you finish it – if you actually finish it!

Your grip will strain like never before, leading to the necessity to find ideal ways to clean those bells to the shoulders every round. Breathing will become your nearest opponent after the kettlebells as you gasp and suck wind. If your head is in the right place you’ll soon discover that taking control of your breathing will make your time more bearable, but you’ll probably not be able to make time for the luxury of thought once you get through the 4th round.

Abezethibou1Sorry, I’m beginning to make the Eagle out to be a winged demon from hell. Abezethibou, actually a fallen angel, probably fell because he failed to finish the Eagle!!

Now look, feel free to go for it now and attempt to conquer the Eagle without prior preparation. However, how if we take the completed Eagle and reverse it to form a program to step us up to being able to conquer it?

Well, that’s my plan.

Quick recap. The Eagle is 8 rotations of non-stop 8 Front Squats with two 24kg kettlebells, followed by dropping them to ones side and carrying them for 20 metres before re-cleaning them to squat once more etc etc.

The biggest challenge in the Eagle is endurance, not really leg strength if you’re an accomplished kettlebell squatter and carries alone aren’t really that bad.

I’ll be putting together a program that will focus on playing with rest periods between sets, gradually reducing these and starting to group the super-sets together. It’s actually not a very difficult task of writing this but I’m sure if many others done it, to help make undertaking the complete Eagle without doing harm to oneself or those around us… trust me, no one wants to hear the kind of breathing this workout makes a trainee make, it’s just vile and offensive to the ear haha.

Anywho, to be continued on the program front.

Other pairs of patterning and grinds that could be carried out include:

  • Leopard crawls and pull up bar hangs
  • Goblet squats and Swings
  • Deadbugs and Single Leg Deadlifts
  • Push ups and rows (with the suspension rings or TRX)
  • Double kettlebell swings and Loaded Carries
  • Double kettlebell swings and Renegade Rows

The timing or rep protocols should be kept within 20 – 25 secs for each exercise.

Part 2 – The Program

Jamie

The 40 Day Program – completed!

Back on the 24th January I committed to undertaking and completing the 40 Day Program (that I talk about here). I didn’t know quite what to expect and the program is very much a Paretos Law kind of program. A selection of exercises are followed with a minimal effective dose (no more than 10 total, accumulated reps), that address the linch-pins of physical training programs namely, a hip hinge, a squat, a push, a pull and an abdominal exercise.

As discussed in my first post, I chose the Single Leg Deadlift, the Double Kettlebell Front Squat, a Bottoms Up Kettlebell Press, a single arm Row and I gave myself a choice of an ab wheel or abdominal hollow. The latter two are very new me as I have chickened out of such effort for years. I was definitely one of those, “I work my abs fine during swings and squats”  kind of guys!

BU Press

The program flowed reasonably well. I managed to train 5 times a week and I used an auto-regulation progression. Days I felt less than good I completed shorter sets to achieve my 10 reps per exercise. Days when I felt like the incredible Hulk, I smashed out longer sets or moved up a weight.

The rules of this program are simple. Accumulate 10 reps, do not max out and leave some in the tank.

One hiccup occurred 10 sessions  in when I developed a random left knee pain that took a few days to subside. This naturally hindered squatting, so I just did a few kettlebell cleans in place as they didn’t cause any issues.

In my initial reading-up of the 40 Day Program I read that many followers reported hitting their bests in the lifts by session 20 – 25. I didn’t go out to prove or disprove this but sure enough, a peak did happen as early as session #15 when I hit a lifetime best in my double kettlebell front squat. Thereafter, not much magic happened until session #28 to #32 when PRs (personal bests) fell like stones before progress came to halt by the 40th session.

 

To sum up progress:

40 Day Program Progress

Interestingly, whilst I gained strength on these particular lifts, I additionally lost over 1kg without changing my diet. My guess is that the higher frequency of large moves had an impressionable impact on calorie expenditure.

So, in relish of the success of this simple program, I am planning on repeating it after following a block of higher effort training. The exercises will no doubt change a little as per needs.

 

My recommendation is to try this program if only to put lots of practice into the skills of some moves.. and you will probably get stronger too, just follow the rules. Really, what do have to lose over 8 weeks?

The rules, to repeat myself.

Accumulate 10 reps.

Do not max out

Leave some in the tank.

Oh, and if you are interested in having this program laid out for you, just get in touch.

 

Jamie