From Al’s coaching and instruction on breathing, I experienced perhaps the most remarkable of the many training benefits I gained from his tutelage; improved mental/intellectual, emotional, and physical health. Since I began his recommended breathing practices I have only fallen ill once in 18 months. I sleep better. I breathe less throughout the day and much less during exercise. I have better focus.
“Seeking guidance on how to influence military physical training, I was pointed in Al’s direction in January of 2016 by some of the senior leadership of StrongFirst. What started out as a few questions rapidly progressed to a scenario where I felt it necessary to ask for official coaching, as I desperately needed every facet of what Al had to offer. While I did not know it at the time, his comments, lines of reply, methods of delivery, and suggestions were all very slowly, but very deliberately, leading me to a better place. This was a place where longevity lived, where mobility and pain free movement lived, where stress management and relief lived, and where better overall health and function as a “human machine” lived. Through his physical training manual I was introduced to an ideology that had alluded me for the entirety of my military career: I did not have to train to exhaustion for every (or any) event to get better, I could have my strength and mobility too (I got my squat back!), I could generate high amounts of tension to increase my lifts and ballistic movements, and I could use the less is more approach to maintain or gain strength and endurance. I was fascinated by how simple his instructions were and also how deeply they resonated with me; there was no fluff, just honest words from an author that was genuinely concerned with the success of his readers.From his A+A protocols I learned the nuances of mindful practice, avoiding over-stimulation, and adherence to directions. While still coming to terms with the fact that I did not know everything there was to know about fitness, Al coached me back from the edge, doing his best to prevent me from proving him right when I was headed towards over-training. I learned my lesson, he was relieved I learned something without hurting myself, and we moved forward from there. With renewed trust and confidence in his abilities, I went on the become the strongest I had ever been, able to snatch lift or get up with half my bodyweight several times with ease, but without the high price of “intense training”, a price I had been paying for the majority of my career as a Reconnaissance Man. I still enjoy that strength to this day, utilizing the same less is more approach, incorporating those movements that have the most reward for the least effort, something else that I learned from Al. With the use of intelligent planning, my body became like living steel; springy, mobile, able to move high amounts of volume at load without breaking.
Through his A+A+LSD protocols I gained further awareness of physical sensations as they related to my training and intensity levels, and continued to refine my mindful resistance training practices. I learned to love running and the calming, almost meditative experience it produced while following Al’s guidance. I was able to reincorporate rucking, enjoying the hills and my body’s ability to carry a third of my body weight for hours of happily passed time. Utilizing these protocols I raised my max pullups, a feat I had been chasing for years. With the application of a very minimalist approach to training, I had the strength, endurance, and capacity to meet or exceed the physical abilities of my peers and juniors at a fitness oriented course last year.
Al’s nutritional advice has been instrumental in getting me to my lowest weight and bodyfat ever, without sacrificing strength, speed, or endurance. Reducing nutritional stress plays a huge part in total stress levels, and avoiding foods that we were not designed to consume has increased my performance levels. I will say that this advice is notoriously hard to follow for a fat kid at heart, but we all supposedly knew that about proper diet.
From Al’s coaching and instruction on breathing, I experienced perhaps the most remarkable of the many training benefits I gained from his tutelage; improved mental/intellectual, emotional, and physical health. Since I began his recommended breathing practices I have only fallen ill once in 18 months. I sleep better. I breathe less throughout the day and much less during exercise. I have better focus. The practices, while focused on breathing, are very meditative in nature and have incited a paradigm change in my intra and interpersonal relationships and interactions. I smile more, I have reduced yelling to almost extinction, I argue with my loved ones once out of every twenty instances, whereas before it was 19 out of twenty. I feel like a better version of “me”. My stress levels, previously through the roof, and largely self induced, are now hovering closer to the ground than snakes.
Throughout the course of his advice, training protocols, and suggestions, the recurring theme has been stress reduction; A+A promotes training that avoids the high heart rates and physiological stress associated with HIIT type “workouts”; mindful exercise practices seeks to tune out the external noise and tune in the internal spatial awareness and body sensation recognition required for moving high amounts of weight safely and explosively; A+A+LSD promoted aerobic capacity and function, which are essential for a healthy body, in addition to priming the body to use its most efficient energy source as the primary means of energy consumption; nutritional guidance reinforced the previous, while reducing refined carbohydrate intake and seeking to eliminate sugar addiction and nutritional stressors like caffeine and alcohol; breathing practices improve cognitive function, lower heart rates, increase immunological functions, and help tame emotions, all things that can create large amounts of stress. With stress reduction as the goal, byproduct, and output of his training methodology and ideology, Al Ciampa has managed to create a lifestyle that promotes longevity and resiliency.
Along the way, Al became an engaged mentor, wise counselor, experienced sounding board, and cherished friend. His selfless and tireless devotion to helping others improve has engendered in me similar sentiments. I share his methodology and ideology with anyone who will listen. I have modeled my personal studies after his own in an effort to be a part of the great things Al has done and is still doing; While each separate aspect of what Al teaches can and will help improve quality of life, the cumulative effect of incorporating them all is truly astounding. His ability to distill the finer points of science and research into manageable, comprehensible, and actionable chunks of information makes learning from him a pleasure. Over the constant stream of emails, the many training protocols, conversations, and subsequent training guidance and course corrections, Al’s intuitive, caring, and knowledge/experienced-based ability to influence my training outcomes through the use of various fields of study and practice has produced a holistically well and fit 37 year old United States Marine.
No matter who you are or what your health, wellness, or fitness goals are, Al Ciampa has something to offer you. I owe my health, fitness, and low stress levels to Al, and with his help I will meet the goal of wiping my own rear end on my last day on Earth.”
I’ve done some of the most difficult things I’ve ever done under his coaching because of the level of trust and motivation that he inspires. I would certainly advise anyone who thinks Al might be able to help you — YOU ARE RIGHT!
“I met Al in 2013 as part of the physical fitness program at my base. Not only did he teach students, he trained the instructors and mentored them. The depth of his ability and knowledge was evident in the quality of instructors he was able to produce.I soon got hooked on this very different way of exercising and learned to think of my physical activities as training and practice, rather than just exercise. I started getting strong and seeing results I had never seen before. My entire way of thinking about training was completely shifted by reading his PT manual, and I felt like I understood for the first time how everything actually works. At the same time, through his patient instruction, I realized how much more there is to know. Al mentored my development as a kettlebell practitioner, strength athlete, trainer, and coach. I became certified with StrongFirst and NASM and began training people myself.
During this time I also participated in two years of Al’s A+A programs with some very impressive results and an intense learning environment of a group of peers all guided by Al. We learned from each other, from ourselves, and from his expert instruction. He listens, detects what information is needed, and delivers it in a way that always exceeds expectations.
Through all of my training and coaching the past 5 years, Al has helped me learn and understand the important information while also helping me steer clear of pitfalls and trivia that are so common in the fitness world. The overarching theme of Al’s work is seeking superior health and meaningful development. At times his methods may sound “easy” because he knows how to reduce and handle stress, but I can assure he knows how to drive hard for results, too.
I’ve done some of the most difficult things I’ve ever done under his coaching because of the level of trust and motivation that he inspires. I would certainly advise anyone who thinks Al might be able to help you — YOU ARE RIGHT!”
“Al’s contribution to the forum and his “easy-to-grasp, down-to-earth but “hard” to follow patiently over long haul guidelines intrigued me. In January of 2016 I was a lucky to volunteer for Al’s swing protocols under the headline “Lazy Endurance”. I completed two of them with great results: I improved on the SSST with a 24kg, scoring a 200, up from 181 (+10,5%); and my 10min running test improved from 1950m to 2250m (+15,4%). These improvements were accomplished with 12 weeks of training only swings with 50kg. No classic endurance work then.
“I purchased Kettlebell Simple & Sinister for my kindle in December of 2013, and started doing it January of 2014. I then joined the StrongFirst forum in November 2014. After practicing S&S for the first few months with the typical time-goal mindset, I began to take my rest periods more seriously—making them longer and watching my breathing. I surely made steady progress, as my training at the time was 70 to 80% S&S, and I worked up to use the 48kg quite frequently. It led me to attend the SFG2 in November of 2015.Al’s contribution to the forum and his “easy-to-grasp, down-to-earth but “hard” to follow patiently over long haul guidelines intrigued me. In January of 2016 I was a lucky to volunteer for Al’s swing protocols under the headline “Lazy Endurance”. I completed two of them with great results: I improved on the SSST with a 24kg, scoring a 200, up from 181 (+10,5%); and my 10min running test improved from 1950m to 2250m (+15,4%). These improvements were accomplished with 12 weeks of training only swings with 50kg. No classic endurance work then.
In May of 2016, I started snatching on the protocol named, “Little Lumberjack, with 32k for six weeks. I was then encouraged and guided by Al to get into proper aerobic training using MAF (HR training) as a rough guideline again, but cautioned to try and focus on easy & relaxed nose breathing only and relaxed locomotion overall. First, I used running as my means starting July 2016, then switched in Sep/Oct to the C2-rower. My first “proper” endurance endeavour was a real eye opener to me. I performed 4-5 sessions per week lasting around 60 min. I found a really relaxed pace at a HR of 135bpm while running, and 125-130bpm on the rower. Toward the end of September ’16, I finished my third snatch protocol where I used 36kg and 40kg.
After a period of some different training, I started 32kg snatching again in the end of November through Jan of ’17. From July 2016 to Jan 2017 my bodyweight decreased from 93kg to 83kg. Nutrition was the same, but I did not have the urge to replenish the calories I burned. My strength stayed relatively the same (half BW press was still there) or increased.
Beginning of 2017 I stopped endurance training, because, as the saying goes “it worked so well” until July 2017.
From July ‘17 until mid-Sept ’17, I am into running: in a nutshell 4-6 times a week around an hour each, at a HR of 130-140bpm on average. What I definitely can say is that my ability to recover from exercise was much better. I find that the swings, snatches and get ups go very well with running, as these moves train all the running muscles, especially strong thighs and hips, all the stabilizers in accordance with a stable trunk. I think that they contribute greatly to a sound erect running posture. Running can provide for the legs all that lifting can’t, namely, to build strong feet, calves and Achilles tendon. Running builds springy legs when used with the appropriate technique.
I currently have no signs of soreness or stiffness after a run or the day after, even though I am running almost daily for around an hour, which is also after this long lay off. I think running for me is the “best” go to choice for building the aerobic base, because of its anywhere anytime low tech nature, intensity can adjusted as I wish. No need for music distraction; I get desensitized against climate; I am functional in the best hunter-gatherer tradition; I build my gait and posture; I can empty my mind or let it ramble…”
“Around May of 2017, Al introduced me to his A+A snatch protocols. I started out slowly using just a 24kg bell. I added LSD running and moderately loaded ruckmarches on my off days, with at least 1 day completely off from training each week. It is now September 2017 and I can proudly state that I now work the A+A snatch protocols with a 32kg and 40kg bell.
The carryover from these protocols has been tremendous. Training in this nature allows me to handle my day-to-day activities with ease. Whether it be rolling around with my 6-year old daughter or moving bag after bag of stone around the house I always feel that I can keep going.
Working as a member of a special operations group inside a maximum-security prison, strength, power and endurance are extremely important to me. A+A snatching will give you just that.”