Strength coach, Elliott Hulse, opens up and discusses his experience as an athlete, a coach, husband, father, and gym owner. His experience over the last 20+ years will help gym owners, athletes and average joes look better, feel better and perform at their best. He drops wisdom and shares some stories that will save you tons of time, help avoid pitfalls and deal with challenges that come your way.
Caution: Elliott calls it how he sees it.
If anyone is offended by strong language, do NOT listen to this interview.
Here’s some of the topics we cover:
- Getting Strong
- Learning from your Mistakes
- Overcoming Obstacles
- Getting Stuff Done
- Improving Every Week
- Designing programs that Work
- and more…
Download the full interview here.
Elliott Hulse coaches athletes to get super strong and fast in his training facility in St. Petersburg FL. As an ex-Division 1AA football MVP and competitive Strongman, Elliott uses his ‘real world’ experience and ‘in the trenches’ knowledge to support you in unleashing your true strength, speed and fitness potential. Elliott has developed a huge following on Youtube by answering people’s questions and sharing his knowledge with over 750,000 people.
Check out his page here: Strength Camp on Youtube
Wanna learn more of Elliott’s secrets to strength?
Check out his Get Stronger Method.
The Simple System for Getting Super Strong.
Full Transcription of Our Podcast with Elliott Hulse
Interviewer: Corey Beasley
Interviewee/Guest: Elliott Hulse
COREY: Hey guys this is Corey Beasley from fightcampconditioning.com, I’m here with Elliott Hulsefrom Florida. Elliot, how’re you doing buddy?
ELLIOTT: I’m good man, thanks for having me.
COREY: Of course, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Elliot, the fightcampconditioning.com is basically just a website helping young athletes, coaches, fighters, different people like to kind of get some direction with their training and from what you’ve done with YouTube and all your training and experience over the years, I just wanted to take some time and share some of that stuff with our fans.
ELLIOTT: Yeah, no doubt sounds good.
COREY: So give everybody little two to three minute snapshot of who you are and where you’re coming from and just some basic background on Elliot?
ELLIOTT: I guess the most relevant thing would be to share the fact that I grew up in a pretty athletic family. My uncle was a martial artist, he was a bodybuilder, he did gymnastics, he was all-around athlete. He lived with us when I was a kid. And I was in kindergarten, he had us doing push ups and sit ups and climbing ropes and we were wrestling and stuff, me and my brothers with him. So by the time I was five years old, I was banging out push ups where most kids getting inside their shoelaces. So I had a pretty good foundation that way and it carried through. I wasn’t the greatest student in school but I always did well in sports. And because I had training of my uncle that very early on, it was helpful. And then when I got to high school, he started bodybuilding and I started playing football. He taught me when I was about 13, 14 years old how to weight train. And you could imagine this is like 1994, first of all weightlifting and bodybuilding, strength training wasn’t as popular as it is now, every school didn’t even have a starting conditioning program like it has now, [inaudible] colleges and stuff.
So I was 14 years old, being trained by a professional trainer and bodybuilder how to get bigger, stronger, faster for football. So again, due to him, his blessing, I was able to earn a college scholarship, I played Division 1AA Footballat St. John’s. And I studied exercise physiologyin grad school. And because I learned about strength training so early on, I already started training my friends in college so I helped the football team that would come to my parents’ basement, we worked out.
So it’s just kind of been the foundation for my life ever since I was young. It’s been fitness and strength. And when I graduated, I went right into business and became a personal trainer, opened up my own gym, competed in various sports including Olympic lifting, strongman and I have a gym where we train athletes and I create a lot of online content to help people all around the world with my ideas about strength and conditioning.
COREY: That’s awesome man, you’ve had a pretty long road starting from when you were really young and then obviously all the experience growing up and just having those good habits from when you were young. That’s a huge advantage.
COREY: So from your experience, I know these days there’s a lot of different ways to skin a cat, right? There’s Olympic lifting, there’s strongman, there’s bodybuilding, you got CrossFit, you got all these different calisthenics and yoga and all these different things that are kind of out there. And I think a lot of people’s perspective especially in the fight world is that they’re not sure who to listen to, who’s right, who’s wrong. Can you kind of elaborate on all the different things that you’ve kind of been exposed to a little bit and how you kind of decipher that with your athletes?
ELLIOTT: What I would invite everybody to do is recognize first that training is like religion, some people find their one and then it works for them, then they want to tell the whole world that this is the one that you should do, it’s the one and only way and you’ve got their disciples and you’ve got their gurus. And it’s no different than the different factions of Christianity or all the various religions of the world. Everybody’s found their God and everybody wants you to believe in theirs and they’ve got their following. It’s not any different when it comes to politics or definitely any different when it comes to training as you just alluded to. You’ve got so many different ideas and everybody is right. If you ask them, and then they’ll also tell you, everybody else is wrong.
ELLIOTT: Right? How do you decide how to live your life when that — you faced that at every corner. And my biggest invitation through all of my videos is to get in touch with what’s happening in you, what is working for you. Not what everybody else is doing, not what the latest New York Times bestseller is doing, not what this guy who just won the championship is doing, not what your trainer did when he was in high school, not anything except how’s that working out for you. You got to trust yourself. And you got to be scientific in that way because if you engage in a bout of physical training and everybody loves it and everybody [inaudible] wants and everybody’s winning because of it but you’re not, in fact, you might feel like you’re not getting the most out of what should work for you, then stop. You have the courage also, you have to be aware but you also got to have the courage to trust yourself. And you might have the “best coach” but if what he has you doing is not working for you and you got to be honest with your efforts also, did you give it 100%? That’s another thing. Give it all you have. But if it’s not working for you, guess what? It might just mean that you’re different. Crazy, crazy thought, right?
COREY: That’s a powerful piece of advice there, that’s for sure. Elliott, give me an idea, you kind of alluded to it just now. But like there are a million ways to skin a cat and a lot of different approaches when it comes to strength and conditioning. I know one of the things from watching your videos that is incredibly prominent is your attitude and your work ethic and your drive to improve over time. Can you talk a little bit about how that affects someone’s performance in athletics?
ELLIOTT: Well, you’re always changing. I don’t care if you’re 4, 14, 34 or 84, life is going on, there’s nothing that’s static, it’s always dynamic, the river is always flowing. So when you say self improvement or drive to be — I even use the term “to become a stronger version of yourself”, it’s not even like you need drive, like, for example, a river, the Mississippi River does not need motivation. It’s just fucking moving, that’s what it does. The river is going to move, life is moving in that way also. Life is not going to stop just because you reached it or because you’re dissatisfied with what you have. It keeps going. So self improvement or becoming a stronger version of yourself is really a matter of opening your goddamn eyes, look at where this thing is going and navigate it skillfully and with confidence. And that’s really what it is. It’s a matter of seeing that life is moving, getting yourself in the flow of it and enjoying the ride as you go. It sounds poetic and it’s not very specific, but really when it boils down to it, that’s what it is.
COREY: Yeah, absolutely. So with that idea, I know that your path up to this point hasn’t been a smooth one. So you’ve had to overcome a lot of things. You’ve had some unexpected things pop up along the way and you’ve had to overcome quite a bit. Would you mind sharing some of that stuff with our audience?
ELLIOTT: Well, here’s the thing. If I’m going to follow along that same analogy of the river, right? Imagine, you’re at the top of the river and it’s going, you get in the top of the river and is moving down to the Gulf of Mexico. You’re going to get there eventually. In other words, you’re going to die eventually, we all do. Now, along that river, there are inevitable traps, there are stones that are going to get in your way, there are animals that are going to want to pick you apart, there are other [incomprehensible] on the journey, there’s so many different challenges along that journey.
The cool thing is, number one, that we hold the oars to our boat, we hold the steering wheel in our hands. A lot of people don’t realize that how much control over the circumstances of their life they actually have. Just like the guy in the river. Well, there’s the river you have no control over it, but you have the steering wheel of your boat in your hand. So it’s the 50/50 situation, a lot of people will just let themselves be victims of the river. So that means they bump into a rock and you know what they do? They stay on that rock and they feel sorry for themselves. And then they blame the rock, damn rock, life would have been perfect if this stone didn’t get in my way and now here I am stranded. Oh, look at all those other people going down the river so smoothly, they’re so lucky. Look at how nice they are sitting in their boats and I’m stuck here on this rock.
Well, you’re choosing to be a victim of that circumstance. Did you not remember that you have the steering wheel in your hand? You can get off that rock. And guess what? Thank God that you bumped into that rock because you know what it’s going to do? Make your vision that much sharper for other obstacles down the path. And you know what? A navigator who’s bumped into a couple of rocks, who’s fallen out of the boat a couple times, who’s been picked apart by buzzards and escaped alligators is a really sharp navigator and he’s going to start moving faster, and he’s going to have a much pleasurable time, he’s going to move with the flow that much easier because he’s had these experiences that sharpen his awareness. He’s a better navigator than the person who is just not paying attention or the person who’s a damn victim of the circumstances.
So when you mentioned that I’ve had some rough times, well, hadn’t we all? If you haven’t had a rough time, I feel sorry for you. Because there’s an old saying that smooth waters don’t make skillful boaters,skillful captains.
COREY: Sailors, yeah.
ELLIOTT: I look at life and I pray for these circumstances, like give me some hardships to deal with, that way I can grow stronger in that way. And when people come to me and they’ve got difficult situations in their life, I don’t want to alleviate their difficult situations. I’m not interested in them not having those difficult situations. All I want to do is give you inspiration and support in becoming strong enough not to avoid those situations or not to turn your back on it or suppress those circumstances but to look at straight in his eye and get over it, overcome it.
COREY: That was powerful stuff dude, it’s good. So in regards to strength and conditioning, you said that you competed as a young athlete and then got into you said Olympic lifting strongman. Can you talk about a little for some of the different steps I even know you studied with Paul Chek quite a bit. Can you talk about the different training regimens that you’ve gone through and places you studied and things you’ve learned?
ELLIOTT: Well, I like to subject myself to as many different experiences as possible. So like, I’ve tried a lot of different sports, I’ve done well in some of those and did poorly in others. I’ve studied, like you said, with Paul Chek. I’m constantly studying different — because there’s so many different ideas out there with regard to strength and conditioning, it’s very easy to get carried away this way or that? What it really boils down to is, there’s only a handful of principles. There’s different ways to manipulate the principles to get a particular response. For example, if you are trying to increase your endurance, you’re not going to follow low volume principles, hope low volume, high intensity principles. If I want to run a marathon, I’m not going to run sprints, you see what I mean?
ELLIOTT: So no matter what activity I or anyone else engages in, what you really need to come to understand if you’re training for fighting, you got to know yourself. And that’s the very first thing, you’ve got to experience yourself and trust yourself, but then also know and understand what the various principles are and then how to manipulate them in order to get the result that you want.
So a lot of the principles that are often overlooked that I’ve learned through my studies and experiences, theprinciple of structural integrity, I often talk about this in my videos and it bores people sometimes. But it basically means how functionally sound is your body. Doesn’t matter how much you can move in an imbalanced way, what you bring to the table is the balance of your body, the balance of your mind, who you are, it’s your only tool, especially as [inaudible], it’s not even like you go buy a better Golf Club. A lot of golfers, like, they just suck physically, their bodies are deteriorated and deformed. But it’s like oh, you bought this $10,000 Golf Club. Well, it added a few extra yards to your flange. Fighters, that’s not the case, you guys show up and there it is, you’ve got on your short and that’s it.
COREY: Yeah exactly.
ELLIOTT: So the number one thing you got to look at, is your game piece, your structural integrity and that means muscular balance. That means having sound joint health, that means having sound physiological health. If you’ve got inflammation in your viscera because you’re eating foods that your body is intolerant to and you’re trying to train your muscular system knowing that or maybe you didn’t know but I’m going to teach you that your muscular system is on the same neurological loop. There are different neurological vortexes, neurological loops that tie your organs to your muscular system. Your muscular system is an outgrowth of your organs of your visceral system. And if you have pissed off, dysfunctional, polluted organs, your muscular system isn’t going to do what you want it to do. You like to put this guy in some kind of a hold and strangling but your liver is all messed up and you can’t produce the amount of enduring intensity that’s necessary to win a fight. So you got step back a little bit and look at the physiological principles of life.
So that’s what I invite people to study. Study the principles of physiology, of the neuro-muscular system or biomechanicsand the principles of what I call energetic strength. How are you talking to yourself? What kind of messages are you embedding into your consciousness, your character? What kind of attitude do you carry with you into any of these circumstances? We got to go back to the roots. We spend too much time dealing with the icing on the cake but everybody’s cake is all fucked up and nasty.
COREY: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think a lot of people will focus on workouts. But what other aspects and you’re talking about it right now a little bit. In our program, we talk a lot about mindset, movement and recovery. So there’s a lot of other things that little guy on your shoulder that talk to you all day has a massive influence on how your performance is. Can you talk a little bit about how you kind of segment or teach a lot of these complicated concepts? How do you simplify them for your athletes so that they can improve?
ELLIOTT: Tangible ways to go about strengthening yourself energetically, I know you talked about mindset, I found that one of the best ways to do that is to read or to listen to biographies of other men that you respect. So for example you’re into fighting, it’s not necessarily my sport, but I’m sure there are heroes of the sports, I think of like, I don’t know, BJ Penn when I used to watch UFC and I think – who’s the guy now that keeps winning? Georges St. Pierre, yeah.
COREY: Yeah, Georges St. Pierre or Spider Anderson, there’s a million guys that are out there, there’s a lot of role models for sure.
ELLIOTT: Right. Well, those are very contemporary names, I would even go a few steps back and I would look at like the biography of Muhammad Alior even Mike Tyson. Look at the stories of these guys who have been there, who’ve done that, who’ve been down the river, who’ve had successes but also have had failures, because every single one of them had had failures. What you’re going to end up discovering amongst many things, that you’re going to be so inspired by listening to their story, that you’re going to take action in your life, but you’re also going to see how they navigated the inevitable challenges that you’re going to face. So the type of challenges that Muhammad Ali or Mike Tyson faced are always in the ring.
A lot of them in their life have been politically, you know, Muhammad Ali was put in prison for being against the Vietnam War. He became Muslim, he adopted Islam. I mean what happened, both of those guys adopted Islam like that makes you wonder something. I’m not pro or anti any religion but it makes you wonder what was going on in these guys’ heads? What was going on in their minds to overcome certain challenges? Why did they adopt certain beliefs? How did they handle their successes? How did they handle their failures? When you go back in history and you see other magnificent people that you idolize and look up to and you see how they lived their lives, not necessarily what technique they used, not necessarily what training programs they used but how they live their lives, it gives you insight and inspiration on how to go about yours. That’s probably the number one way I would say to go about strengthening your mind when you’re developing.
COREY: That’s awesome. And a lot of times, in my experience, it makes your problems look pretty small when you’re reading some of that stuff, right?
ELLIOTT: Right, it reminds you that it’s not all about you and your circumstances.
COREY: Yeah, absolutely. So Elliott, I know you got a — you worked hard, you trained and you opened up a facility. Some of the guys that are listening might be coaches, they own different know schools and different things like that. Maybe it’s a personal trainer, or a strength coach or somebody that’s wanting to open up a facility. When you are doing that, when you’re going through that part of your life, that little phase, what were some of the things that you needed to do to make that happen?
ELLIOTT: Well, I was in full warrior mode in my life at that point. So it’s sort of do or die. Metaphorically, I walked around with a sword in my hand all day long that means I was ready to attack. And that basically meant I was doing whatever it took to succeed in the dream that I had for myself. And if that meant waking up at four o’clock in the morning to meditate, that’s exactly what I did. If that meant having less sleep, if that meant having no money for luxuries that many of us take for granted and think that we’re entitled to, if that meant going into severe debt, if that meant facing bankruptcy, if that meant driving a van that had no windows on it that would often break down because I didn’t put any gas in it because I had money for gas and pushing it to a gas station only to find that my debit card had no money in it and then going back to the bank and realizing that there’s been no money for about a week. And now I’ve got all these bank fees to pay, but still saying fuck it, I’m going to get up and do it again. That’s what has to happen. That’s what had to happen in order to be where I’m at right now. And if you’re not willing to go through those difficult times, if you don’t embrace, not even endure but embrace those difficult times, you will never realize the gifts on the other end of those challenges.
COREY: Absolutely. It’s a much tougher road than most people think han?
ELLIOTT: This is tough as it is supposed to be for you. The challenges I faced were the challenges that I needed to face to overcome weaknesses in my character. And that’s why as I told the story, perhaps 100 times on different interviews and in videos, I become less and less enthusiastic about sharing it simply because I don’t want anybody to think that they need to go through my struggles. My struggles were with money and bankruptcy and getting over a lot of egotistical ideas I had about myself and entitled an idea [inaudible] about myself. I meet so many young guys who have these big dreams and I don’t want to squash your enthusiasm but I can see there because a lot of times I see myself in them, I’m like, oh boy, that ego needs to be tempered just a little bit. But hey, you keep going. You’ll smash the space a couple of times to realize all the pop and glory. Oh, I pray for it. And it’s funny people say, oh, that guy needs to get punched in the face.
I don’t say stuff like that maliciously. I say that because oh I want him to smash his face a little bit because that way he can grow stronger from it. You need that experience so you can see that you know your mouth is full of shit right now but I can’t tell you that so you need to go get this shit knocked out of your mouth and then you come back. Like I told you I knew that was going to happen. Good, I’m happy it happened, you learnt something now, right?
COREY: That’s good.
ELLIOTT: That’s one virtue, you got a new tool you could learn from, it’s called humility, that would take you to the next thing and that’s how we grow stronger.
COREY: Yeah, absolutely. It’s good stuff man, that’s funny. So Elliot, I’m sure you got dates, how many kids have you got?
COREY: Four kids. And you’ve been married for how long?
ELLIOTT: 20 years.
COREY: 20 years. So that in and of itself, much less running the gym, much less doing all your stuff for you too, much less all your busy schedule. It’s crazy, I’m sure. I’m sure that there’s guys out there that use their kids, their wife, their busy schedules, all this stuff as an excuse. Those guys that are using that as an excuse or letting it drain them or distract them or whatever it is, how do you stay focused? How do you stay energetic? When you’re going into the gym — I know as a gym owner, there’s some days where going to the gym to actually get my workout in is difficult. It’s not always the place I want to be on certain days. But how do you fight through that? How do you stay focused? How do you stay on point with all the things that you got going on?
ELLIOTT: Well, it’s going to sound strange. And everybody’s going to nod their head and they’re going to think they’ve got this down but most don’t. And the bit of advice or invitation I want to give you is, find the right woman. This saying that she will make you or break you is 100% true. I watched so many men fall victim to their women and it’s sick and it’s sad. I watched them and I’m like, bro, I knew you were full of piss and vinegar. And all of a sudden, the vagina has whooped you. And that term, pussy [inaudible] be controlled by a woman, everybody giggles and nods their head and doesn’t want to look at it square in the face. But what it boils down to is 90% of the guys that I know that aren’t living the way that they’re designed to, not exerting all the strength that’s inherent in their true character and DNA, it’s because they got woman problems. Woman problems will destroy you.
It sounds strange, but the reason why I bring it up because I keep watching it happen in 90% of my friends and the kids that end up leaving my gym and going [incomprehensible] up in life getting with the wrong woman. That relationship that you’ve developed with your woman has to be one where you both respect each other and she is not going to imprison you with what the world and she deems as important because for a man, you’ve always got to hold your mission ahead of everything. It’s not popular advice, but it’s my experience and it’s the way it works if you want to be happy. Your woman will respect you more, you will love each other more, you will have more energy for her and for your family if you don’t give yourself up for her. You got to keep yourself.
COREY: Yeah, I understand. I hear you.
ELLIOTT: She’s got to understand that you’ve got things to do. I sound like a chauvinist when I say this because these aren’t popular ideas. But she’s got to say, look, I got to train. I got to go work. Oh, but I thought we were going to shop for furniture today. No fuck that, you go buy the furniture. I’m going to work out today, I got to train, I got to take care of my game piece because if I don’t take care of my game piece then I can’t be the man that I need to be for you. And if I can’t be the man I need to be for you and then we start having children, I’m going to grow resentful of you.
Again, these are things that go on inside our minds that no one talks about. Maybe that’s what it makes me a little bit weird, is that I talk about this shit. But you’ll grow resentful towards your woman and you’ll grow resentful towards your children. And then not only do you not have the time because they’ve tethered you to that but you don’t have the energy because you’re in a state of depression and anxiety. You got to find the right woman and that’s what it boils down to. Otherwise, don’t get involved, just don’t get involved. You do your thing and maybe date but don’t settle down unless you can find the right one.
COREY: Right on. It’s powerful advice my friend. So when you are going to the gym, Elliot’s going to the gym, right? What’s going on in your head?
ELLIOTT: Well I’m in my gym right now, I live in my gym. I’m here all day, every day basically.
COREY: So when you are there and you got to turn your switch and you got to flip it on and you gotta hit a hard one, what are you thinking about?
ELLIOTT: Well, thing change, I’ve evolved. There was a time when like, the same time when I was carrying my sword because I had to build my business, I had to live my life, I had to create my life, was the same time when I was competing in professional strongman. So I approached training like I approached my life. And that was like a rabid maniac with a sword in one hand and a machine gun in the other. So I come to the gym and I’m putting on the hardest, most hardcore music you can listen to, I’m slapping my head in the face, I’m screaming, I’m piling up the bar. I’m literally punishing myself day in and day out with complete total disregard for anything except for achievement. And in every workout was a fucking PR. I didn’t go to the gym to have a nice workout, I went to the gym to destroy something, to kill myself in a way. And that was the attitude that I had to carry with me. This is why I use the gym as a metaphor for life all the time. I had to carry that type of attitude with me in developing and building my life. So it was right, it was true for me.
I invite most of the guys you see in the ages of 17 and 27, when you’re in that stage of trying to find yourself and to build a life for yourself, I would say approach the gym the same way. When you get to the gym, don’t fuck around, you go to the gym to bust some up. But the time goes on and you move through different phases of life like I’m experiencing right now, I go to the gym and it’s more form of meditation for me. It’s a way for me to keep my body aligned with what my intentions are, to keep my heart strong, to keep my joints supple. And I don’t even turn on music when I go to the gym now. I take 30 minutes to stretch, get my body warm. I know exactly what primal patterns I want to move through, I work through those ranges of motion and it’s less of an event and more of a meditation, if you will.
COREY: Yeah, yeah I hear ya. It’s cool how you kind of go through that that transition though, han?
ELLIOTT: That’s life. That’s the whole thing. I talked about that river before. One of the things is, and this is a big problem. As you’re moving down that river, a lot of times you hit a patch that you like, you get on that patch and become personally identified with it, maybe you landed on a little island or something. And while you’re on that island, you became king of that island and then you started to become attached to the whole idea of that island. And because you liked the character that you had to develop because of the success that you needed to attain while you were on that island, you become personally identified with it. And then guess what, the river keeps going but you’re still stuck in that one goddamn Island. And guess what? You go and grow old on that island and there will be new people that come to the island, they go look at you and they say what the hell are you doing here, this is foolish. You look like an idiot. Why didn’t you get back in your boat and continue? But your ego was way too big for you to ever give that up. But I see lots of guys and a lot of ex athletes in particular and people I know, they’re like, you’re 44 years old bro. Why you’re still acting like you’re 24 years old, you still have to prove yourself you still own that island with that sword. It’s just a shameful ugly thing in my opinion.
Now everybody’s experience is different. If you spent your whole life weak and decrepit and overweight and then when you’re 44 you started working out, you discover something new, well, that’s different. That’s a different circumstance. But we all evolve, we all move on, you’ve got to be sensitive enough to know when it’s time to move on to the next thing and it’s not a what the world would have you believe a lessening of your vitality, strength or virtue. It’s an increase of a different kind of strength, vitality and virtue.
COREY: Yeah, absolutely. Man, I honestly, truly hope that the people that are going to be listening to this can digest some of the stuff that you’re saying, because it’s powerful stuff.
ELLIOTT: Well, I just speak from my experience, so I don’t expect everybody to get it or to be able to use right away. But hopefully this is the thing to think about.
COREY: Absolutely. So Elliot, if people wanting to learn more about what you’re saying, want to learn, watch the videos, view different stuff where’s the best place for them to go?
ELLIOTT: Just go to YouTube Strength Camp is my main channels strength, like in muscle camp as in a camping. And if you find my strength camp channel, I have playlist I just started making, so I’ve got over 1000 videos. And if you enjoy listening to the ideas that I share about strength and conditioning, watch my videos and take it from there. It’s best thing to do.
COREY: Cool, cool. Thank you so much for your time. And everybody, I’ll be putting the links and all that type of stuff up on the on the page there so it’ll be right below this. So thanks again Elliot and we will talk to you soon.
ELLIOTT: My pleasure.