“A neurosis is a secret that you don’t know you are keeping.”

Kenneth Tynan

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I’ve begun posting some exercise demo clips over at the Theory to Practice YouTube site.  This is a little project (and I assume one that will be a continual work-in-progress) that I started just before Brittani’s accident: a project that I’m just now getting back around to.  Nothing elaborate here, just some very short clips demonstrating some of the functional exercises I like to keep in the ol’ toolbox.  I’ll use these to refer to when describing this workout or that, exercises within a mash-up, etc.  Hopefully this collection will continue to grow as I have time to add to it.  Feel free to leave any questions/comments/concerns/complaints — and, hey, compliments, too, while you’re at it! — that you think will be constructive.  I hope that these clips serve to educate, and maybe give a little glimpse into the types of functional exercises that I find beneficial.  I’ll attempt to concentrate on the more obscure movements at first, then progress toward some of the more common/well known.  We’ll see how it goes.  If you want to see something in particular, let me know.

Anyway, I’m open for critique, so let it fly!

In health,



    • With rings or with a straight bar; it’s a beastly exercise either way. I like to superset them with barbell muscle-ups or some variety of power snatch.

  1. Keep ’em coming. I always find videos more informative regarding proper exercise form, etc. Going to put your favorite DB snatch up there also?

  2. Great videos.

    My only suggestions (assuming your video program will permit it) are:

    – it would be great if each clip included a slow-mo version with your voice-over explaining things you thought were important for newbs to know (ie, to avoid injury, etc.)

    – also, since people will be embedding &/or linking to individual vids, I would open & close each one with a direct-to-camera intro & outro from you.

    eg. intro: “Hi, I’m Keith Norris from (better URL than you now have). Today’s exercise demo is the __ __ snatch. The __ ___ snatch is great because of A, B, C. But it’s important to D, E, F when you do it, or you run the risk of X, Y, Z. Let’s take a look.”

    outro: “Thanks for coming by. For more X, Y, Z, look us up at (URL.)”

  3. Another thing that would generate traffic/notoriety: Have a regular feature, “Terrible Lift of The Week,” in which you use slow-mo & stop-motion, along with narration, to explain why given lifts on YouTube are actually disastrous (as you did in text in a recent post, but on video you will build a name as an exercise authority much more quickly.)

  4. Wow, impressive videos! Indeed, you have put the theory to practice. If nothing else, these videos are a testament to the fact that you know what you are talking about and practice what you preach. Also, it reaffirms for me the fact that you can be quite athletic without the constant need for carbohydrates.

  5. Oh, I forgot to ask:

    Where is this awesome place that you are working out? It looks like a great spot for all kinds of bodyweight workouts.

    • That’s the “playground”. The East Carolina University Track and field throwers (shot, disc, hammer, etc.) use this as an outdoor training area. I just kinda help myself to the equipment & try to leave it all in a better condition than how I found it. It’s a nice, symbiotic relationship, I suppose.

  6. Great stuff, Keith, and in Vibram’s no less.

    I’m with Sam in that I’d like a video of your Cred technique, with some comments built in on do’s and don’ts.

    Thanks always for the great resource!


    • I do love my Vibrams!

      I’ll see what I can do about filming a “cred” bout. Any volunteers to do a 5 AM cinematography session in Rocky Mount, NC? 🙂 I’ll provide the caffeine.

  7. Nice job.

    Interesting about the straight-bar muscle-up is how you have your grip wide — at least relative to how I have mine when I do them. Also, I use way more kip to launch me higher.

    Today at CF WOD I am gonna try your wide grip MU.

    BTW this is a great site for bodyweight exercise tutorials:


    • Hey, cool site. I’m always super impressed by demonstrations of body control/strength and/or gymnastic aptitude. One always lusts for what they lack, right?

      A couple of notes on the muscle-up clip: Most times I try to dampen my kip in the early stages so as to force more power production from my upper body. As I wear-out, I’ll feather in a little more kip as need be so as to keep the set/bout alive until 1 rep shy of failure. I try (not always successful) to not end a session of a (power dominant) exercise on a failed rep. Probably old school thought, but still… and I do vary my grip on this exercise — from a little wider than what’s shown in the clip, to nearly having my thumbs touch. The latter can be a little tough on the wrists, though, so you’ve got to be mindful of that.

  8. Keith,

    These videos are great – thanks for sharing them! I finally read “BBS” (thanks to your original recommendation) and thought it was excellent. I need to read it again, because not everything has sunk in completely yet, but I’ve got plenty to chew on already. Several questions came to mind as I read it, particularly because I still had your blog posts about the book in mind. If you’re inclined, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    First, recalling the lengthy discussion that ensued from your earlier post about training and physical appearance (viz., concerns that Dr. McGuff and others don’t necessarily “look the part” of a fitness guru), I wondered: is it possible that the optimal level of physical/muscular health for most people simply does NOT result in being especially ripped? Certainly this will depend upon genetics (agree with you, BTW, that Chapter 8 of BBS was worth the price of admission), but in practical terms: if you, for example (who seem gifted with a pretty good genetic hand), precisely followed the BBS protocol, how much less ripped do you think you would be than you are now? A lot? Only a little? How much less “fit” do you think you would be? I recall that BBS asserts pretty clearly that general fitness is different from high-level athletic training, and that the latter typically comes with a tradeoff of joint/ligament/other trauma. What I wonder is whether that “trauma tradeoff” is also necessary to be really ripped. Given that muscle tissue, although highly desirable, is also metabolically expensive, could it be that following the most likely path to long-term fitness, health, lifespan, and vigor is going to mean (for the genetically average person) that you just don’t get to look like a total stud (unless you incur some potentially risky physical trauma)?

    Second, picking up on another recent post of yours: given your own rigorous and highly varied training protocol (apologies if I am using you excessively as an example here), I’m also curious to what extent you think you might be a “graveyard” survivor. This question came to mind as I watched your videos and wondered whether some people, even if doing those exercises correctly, would nonetheless pay a price in wear-and-tear that might actually sideline them and make it difficult/impossible to achieve results like yours. I’ve done similar training myself (with lower resistance than you!), tried to be exceedingly careful about form, and found that my body often just doesn’t respond that well – even though I (ahem) look pretty good, I don’t feel as strong as I think I should, and I battle nagging aches and pains (the more intense the training, the more intense the aches and pains, sometimes to the point where I can’t train at all for a couple of weeks). Part of this has been due to overtraining (to which I am susceptible, along with the attitude that I should “fight/play through” the pain), AND I wonder whether I just need to be more “gentle” than most fitness-types if I’m going to train regularly and maximize long-term benefit. I’ll partially answer my own question by saying that my sense from BBS is that Dr. McGuff and John Little are pretty emphatic that indeed, many (perhaps most) people are not well-served by varied, higher-impact training, both resistance and otherwise. Now, I still want to live my life and have fun, so I’ll happily take the “trauma tradeoff” to do the activities I love, but I want to be wise about the work I do that’s focused only on fitness/training (not that training and fun are exclusive of one another, of course!) So perhaps the BBS protocol would actually be a good training “centerpiece” for someone like me (although I am pretty vain and do want to look ripped…)

    Anyway, sorry for the length, but I think that captures a couple of my initial thought meanderings on the book. Thanks for any input you’d like to share!


    • I love it. We are opening this can of worms again!

      All I can say is that I find it suspicious that Doug McGuff hides behind the genetic ceiling argument.

      In sum, “I don’t look very impressive cuz of my genetic limits, please look past that when you evaluate BBS.”

      Assuming he is right, I believe he stated somewhere on this blog, that he felt he wasn’t dealt the same genetic hand as, say, Keith —- this doesn’t vindicate BBS. He could have been dealt a worse genetic hand AND still follow, IMHO, sub-optimal training methods.

      And never know his true genetic ceiling.

      I know skeptics are hideously uncool and not a lot of fun, so I apologize.

      Red pill or blue pill? 🙂

      • Just to be clear, I didn’t intend to open the same can of worms again (and *especially* didn’t mean to invite criticism of Dr. McGuff).

        I’m simply curious to discuss the risks/benefits of higher-impact training, as I think BBS makes many thought-provoking points about it. One way I might ask the question: is higher-impact work necessary to reach the theoretical “genetic ceiling,” and if so, is it worth it if we can get, say, 80% there with almost none of the injury/trauma risks?

        You seem pretty sure that Dr. McGuff may not have achieved optimal genetic expression… but how could you possibly know? And one of my original questions was whether maximum “ripped-ness” is necessarily an indicator of optimal physical fitness. (We know it’s not, e.g., in the case of many hardcore bodybuilders.)


        • I don’t know. And neither does MacGuff. And that is why I wrote:

          He could have been dealt a worse genetic hand AND still follow, IMHO, sub-optimal training methods.

    • Mark,
      In some sense, yes, I would say that I’m a “graveyard survivor”, and I would add to that that my opinions towards what works in the realm of training is somewhat skewed in the sense that, for the most part, those who I train with and/or advise have already been “graveyard vetted” so to speak; that is to say, even if they’ve never done much in the way of specific weight training, they are already proven and accomplished natural athletes for their age group. Very rarely have I worked with people who are not athletically inclined to begin with, but in a few of those instances where I have, I can remember being stunned at how frail the human body, in a musculoskeletal sense, can be. Now, this begs a chicken-and-egg type question — which came first, the weak joints/ligaments or the weak musculature? Is this a genetic consequence, or just a lazy/lack of conditioning consequence? And the bigger question is, could someone like this — if they had the will, drive and “want to” — be brought along to the point where their body could adapt to a “lifestyle” of high-intensity, explosive-type training? The truth of the matter is, I don’t know, and, “it depends”, and “it’s a matter of degree”. How’s that for a cop-out 🙂
      Seriously, though — we all are well aware that there is both a genetic component, and a conditioning component, to any particular dose-response (in a training sense) phenomena; I would include, by the way, “trauma” in a broad sense, within the “dose” definition. To carry this a bit further, it should be obvious that one’s ability to absorb trauma will largely dictate how far the body can be pushed and, therefore, how athletically competent they will become (particular skills aside). But what you really want to know is, can that theoretical genetic limit be reached without incurring substantial trauma? I’d be lying to you if I claimed I knew the answer to this , Mark — my gut feeling, though, is no. If you want to push limits, in my opinion, you’ve got to accept some amount of accumulated trauma. The best you can do is be smart, and manage that trauma correctly; I believe, by the way, that this can be done effectively. Now, the other side to this 64K-dollar question is, what is the cost, in terms of accumulated trauma, in moving from merely “healthy” (and with the assumption of very little in the way of accumulated trauma) and into the realm of pushing genetic limits? Again, I wish I knew. The best I can tell at this point is that it’s a juggle between dealing with your genetic hand and your ability, outside of genetics, in dealing with and managing that trauma.

      BTW, in my experience, low bodyfat levels are more so diet driven than workout driven. And yes, there is a genetic component at work here (largely via hormone response) as well.

      • Keith,

        Thanks for the thoughtful reply. Not a “cop out” at all — the more I thought about my question after writing it, the more I realized it was un-answerable, and that in the end it probably really “just depends.” I will say that I’ve trained many ways, generally pretty intense, including lots of Crossfit-style work, and it doesn’t seem like I’ve been able to “break through” to a point where I escape the nagging ailments (maybe I just need to experiment more, I think my form is good).

        My personal experience jibes with yours – my BF% is most impacted by diet (although it definitely also drops when I ramp up the training). I’m interested to try out the BBS protocol for a little while and see what happens — maybe I’ll find a balance that works for me. Thanks again for the input!


  9. I think it’s only fair to point out that for a 40 something doctor (a group that is usually healthy but rarely, in my experience, ripped), Dough McGuff looks pretty well put together. You can tell he’s trim and reasonably muscular, from both his speaking and exercise videos.

    Most guys his age and younger would be glad to be in his kind of shape, and he does it in only 12 minutes a week.

    You can tell from my blog that my training is very different, but I think his ideas are worth learning from for sure.


  10. I agree with Sam’s comments. Also some suggestions are maybe to include a condensed version of your workout, plus you could demo your approach or take on Huge in a Hurry, etc.

  11. Great vids –

    Particularly liked “the exercise”. It looks like a hang-snatch/OH squat combo. The amount of explosive strength and flexibility required for that combo is truly impressive.

    • Think of this exercise as the low-tech version of the Oly snatch. I can do this exercise for reps, and I can get away with a little bit of “sloppy” form as I fatigue. In this sense, the exercise transfers better to other sporting endeavors than the full-on snatch. Also, I can teach an athlete this move in a matter of minutes; after a few sessions, the athlete can handle a weight that is dose-appropriate for some real benefit. The Oly version takes a while to get right. Not that the Oly version isn’t useful (it most definitely is) — if you want, or have, the time to invest.

  12. Genetic ceiling or limit … as I read these comments it ocurred to me that the definition of this is very important. Is looking ripped really what McGuff means? Strongest, fastest…is that even it? He defines health in a much broader sense. It’s more about being able to do what you have to do and not get hurt – either because you are too weak or because you’ve done too much sabertooth tiger hunting that week. Perhaps too much muscle would actually hinder survival – it’s heavy and as one commenter noted metabolically expensive. You need more fuel for it and if times are lean … well, your lean muscle mass perhaps puts you at a disadvantage.
    My point? McGuff (who I agree looks in pretty good shape, but is not necessarily ripped) may be at a perfect balance, being in the best “health” that his genetics allow. He can lift, jump, run, etc, but is not burdened by injury.
    If you want ripped, you may be chasing your genetics as far as “how much muscle will this body allow” and looking good in a way you are defining it — not everyone defines it the same way, right? Especially for female bodies, I think — but you may not be chasing your best “health.”

    • “Health”, IMHO, definitely resides on a sliding scale. And we should never confuse — or at the least, totally align — “health” with prime physical ability. The days when I was at my fastest, strongest and most powerful were also the days when I teetered on physical exhaustion and ached (especially after game days) from every joint in my body. I’m not nearly the same athlete I was back then, but I can tell you I’m a hundredfold healthier. Much of this has to do with diet, but a good deal has to do with the lessened physical demands placed on my body. Every aspect of health can be pushed to a point of detriment. I’ve known women who’ve dropped their BF% and/or pushed their training to the point where it disrupted their menstrual cycle. They were damn good athletes, no doubt; but were they “healthy”? Old Ben (Franklin) was on to something when he opined, “all things in moderation”.

    • Another thought: you’re right about muscle being metabolically expensive. Neurological efficiency (or the ability to produce power), is not, though, and I believe would have been much more a predictor of probable survival. Which makes me wonder how the “all-show, no-go” phenotype was treated back in the day. I can’t see the camp elders being very pleased with a young member of hunting party who “cost” more to keep around than he produced. I wonder if this phenotype was considered the boy-toy of the day; something to be “worshiped”, even then.

      • Good point. Al braun and no brains could not have been much of a survivor and probably slowed any group down to some extent. If that is the case, looking good may not have been that important, at least not number one. Science has shown that we pick mates based on survivability (women do, at least), partly due to physical appearance, I’m sure, but if you know Grok is “okay” but can protect you and your babies and Neand looks fine but can’t, you go with Grok!

        Grok, with 12% body fat and less muscle definition can bring home the brauntosaurus just as well as Neand, with 8% body fat and a head full of rocks, I’d guess.

      • Zero BF and huge bulging muscles is not the end all and be all of fitness/health, but on the continuum between emaciated marathon runner at one end, and pro bodybuilder on the other end, there is something to be said for healthy musculature somewhere in between.

        IMHO the optimal (if that exists — clearly highly debatable) is probably close to what CrossFitters/Gymnasts/Keith demonstrate.

        But it all boils down to, what is it that you want to do — and where you want to be on the value/cost(risk) curve.

    • I don’t think I used the word great — “pretty good” was my phrase. But here:
      The whole thing is he isn’t “ripped” or a “physical specimen” if your definition of that is Bruce Lee or Keith Norris 😉 but he has muscle, apparently lower body fat (hard to tell exactly) and looks better than most, that’s all. “Healthy” not necessarily “fitness model,” don’t you think?

      • I guess the 64k$ question remains: does he look as good (size, definition), and is he as athletic and “healthy” as he could be? How much better could he be if he pushed the fitness/trauma envelope a bit more — and would it be worth it?

        Getting my thoughts together for a more complete post on this issue.

        • He does cover this base by saying, in his book, that there really isn’t much added value (health wise), in lowering your body fat from 10% to 6%. I have to agree, even though I choose to aspire to the latter.

          On a similar note, I wonder how quickly the value/cost curve levels out on being able to increase your deadlift from 2xBodyweight to 2.5, or from 2.5 to three? Probably pretty quickly.

          Speaking of accepting trauma as the price of performance, have you ever trained for a one armed chin/pullup? I know that they can bring on tendonitis, and I wonder if you ever attempted training for one and succeeded, or found the wear and tear to make them not worth it.

          Along with pistols, hand balancing, and muscle-up ability, these are a long time goal of mine.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.