JL: Zach, tell us how you learned about “Underground” training?
ZE – Well, without a doubt, my very first days of training at a gym always leave
me with the recollection of George, a jacked dude who was built like he was
carved from stone. This guy was solid muscle! He never did what the rest of us
did. He trained his own way, his own style and he never cared what others said
I still remember to this day watching him spend over 30 or 45 minutes on one
movement! I would be finishing a workout and he was still training one movement!
I remember watching him do endless sets of weighted dips, or flat benching or
weighted pull ups. Back then I never saw anyone perform weighted bodyweight
exercises except George. But, his arms were busting through his sleeves and his
traps were stretching his shirts out big time!
My memories reminded me after many years of training by the rules, that to get
seriously strong and jacked, there truly are NO rules!
JL – And now that you follow this “NO Rules” philosophy is this how Underground
ZE – Exactly. My friend, Ryan Lee, was interviewing me one day about my training
methods, and he asked me what best describes what I do. I flat out told him I
don’t follow the majority of what people say or advise on doing because it
usually doesn’t even work in the real world! All my training was taking place in
garages, back yards, playgrounds, fields, parking lots, etc. – the only way I
could describe what I do was by calling it “Underground”.
JL – Take us through an Underground workout that one of your athletes would
ZE – Most of my athletes are Football players and wrestlers. I also consult with
BJJ and MMA fighters. The workouts, I hate to say, are always different
according to what the individual needs to work on at that point in time. This
isn’t a cop out, it’s true, but, I’ll give you a sample of an off season workout
our wrestlers might go through.
1) warm up with mobility, movement drills and calisthenics. This might include
skipping, galloping, mobility drills such as bird dogs, fire hydrants, hip
bridges and various arm circles. After a thorough warm up we then begin the
2A) Trap bar DL 5 x 3 – 6 reps
2B) Recline thick rope body rows 5 x max reps
2C) abdominal movement 5 x 12 – 15 reps
3A) rope climb up & down 3 x 15 ft.
3B) sledge hammer swings across right & left shoulder 3 x 10 ea.
3C) sandbag zercher carry around back yard 3 x 1 lap
We will finish the workouts with soft tissue work on the foam roller and the
Some workouts are all indoors, others all outdoors and some are a mix as you saw
JL – What is the biggest misconception people have of Underground training?
ZE – People assume we do only odd object lifts and don’t use barbell and
dumbbells or other tools. This is totally off. We use everything because
everything works. The odd objects hit the body in places that barbells and
dumbbells simply have not or can not do.
Things like starting off a sandbag squat and ripping it off the floor. Every
first rep is a power move that benefits the performance more than if we normally
back squat and nothing else. The variety of implements helps us keep fresh as
well. Eventually, people get bored of doing the same old stuff or training in
the gym all the time! Training outdoors in the fresh air kicks ass! This is why
Arnold and Franco and the rest of the crew loved training at Muscle Beach. The
atmosphere and outdoor energy was electric!
JL – In your Underground Strength Kit, you have a separate manual solely
dedicated to stone training! I thought it was awesome and I was shocked to see
so many movements with just a stone! What motivated you to begin stone training?
ZE – Of course, watching The World’s Strongest Man competitions was always an
inspiration, but in addition to thw WSM, there were times when I was really
strappedf for cash and had nothing but a barbell and a few dumbbells.
At the time I trained at my Dad’s, and his backyard had a row of odd shaped
stones of different sizes. I started using them with wrestlers, football players
and basketball players. I didn’t have a choice, I needed weights!
To my surprise, the stone training was phenomenal. We started simple by just
doing carries from one end of the backyard to the other. We did military
presses, bent over rows and deadlifts.
Strength was improving like crazy and they all were improving performance. Our
football guys were playing in summer camps and were hitting harder, running
faster and getting tougher.
The basketball players were out-conditioning their opponents and always had the
strength and power endurance to rebound the ball more often and had improved
The wrestlers were dominating like never before! They were lifting kids and
throwing them around like rag dolls. I was seriously in shock watching my
athletes perform and hearing their success stories.
I knew we landed onto something big by combining these Underground methods with
the barbells, dumbbells and bodyweight!
To this day I keep on refining the methods and transforming athletes and non
athletes with these methods that I have in The Underground Strength Kit.
As for my self, these methods have breathed fresh air into my workouts,
literally! Training outdoors clears my mind and gets me away from the BS inside
99 % of the commercial gyms. I feel fresh air is man and woman’s best friend and
we should ALL spend time training outdoors. There is a lot of therapy that comes
with training Underground and humans need it!
With all the stress we endure on a regular basis, people will realize that
training outdoors makes them feel great. Sun and fresh air are powerful
therapeutic tools for all people, adults or not.
In fact, I just had a Mom contact me for the second time to get her kid back
here again. They live so far away that it takes them 45 minutes to an hour to
drive here, one way! So I sent them to a friend who trains athletes but lives 10
They want to come back here! The Mother told me her son loves the Underground
training, the atmosphere, the outdoors and everything we do! For young athletes,
this style of training seems to be a huge boost to their ego as well. I feel
this is a huge area we are missing the boat on when it comes to training young
athletes – the need to train their mind first and foremost. Boosting their self
esteem is a priority and I have been fortunate beyond belief to see how happy
these kids are when we train together!
JL- Stay tuned for part II with our interrogation with Zach Even – Esh and his
Underground Training Methods!
If you want to learn more about Underground training in the mean time, check out
Zach’s latest e book which will knock your socks off! I have NEVER seen such a
thorough compilation of training manuals and amazing bonuses! My personal
favorite is with Coach Ethan Reeve but you’ll have to listen to him talk
training to believe me! It is downright a** kicking stuff!