I enjoy an “Intentional Community” of like-minded trainers. Each morning, we agree to gather at 9:30 and train together. Often, we eat meals after the session but every session is encouraging and educational.
Recently, one of the guys who frequents our sessions had a client do a very difficult workout, “The Eagle.” The problem was this: he had NEVER done it. We all called him out and insisted that he finish it before he ever considers this to be a workout for a middle-aged client again. There are many lessons to this story: don’t eat before doing an Eagle and never listen to someone who tells you “I know how this feels” unless they know how this feels!
A few years ago, I discovered the combination I call The Eagle. The school mascot where I was teaching at the time was the Soaring Eagle, so the name was a natural. It combined the simplest of the loaded carries—the patterning movement of the farmer walk—with the basic grinding squat, the double-kettlebell front squat.
I am going to say ‘simply’ here, but the workload is incredible. Simply, the athletes do eight double-kettlebell front squats, then drop the weight to their sides and farmer walk for 20 meters, then do another eight squats and repeat until completing eight circuits.
That goal was often not met.
There are some hidden benefits to this combo. The athlete needs two kettlebells and never puts them down. The metabolic hit is accelerated by the grip work, the wrestling with the kettlebells and the sheer volume of carrying the load. It was this Eagle that made me think about the ideal combos.
There is nothing magical in the choice of exercises; it is the patterning movement of loaded carries mixed with the grinding movement of squats. For whatever reason, those two kettlebells are also a sign from heaven that this is going to be a hard workout.
If two bells are an issue, you can do a simpler version of this with the Suitcase Carry and the Goblet Squat. This will take only one bell; in this workout, you can use Kettlebells or dumbbells or whatever you have with a handle.
The Goblet Squat became famous in an article I wrote for MH a decade ago. Hold the bell with both hands, descend until you can push your knees out with your elbows, squeeze and stand up. The Suitcase Carry (it’s funny to think that this was the third article I published in MH after the Deadlfit and the Goblet Squat) is simply walking with a bell in one hand, like a piece of luggage.
Strive for eight squats again and keep switching hands on every walk. This workout is about a third as hard as the actual Eagle. It can be used anywhere and I have done it on beaches and parks without any problem. If you have a bell, you can do the workout. This variation, let’s call it the Goshawk for fun, is much more appropriate for a typical fitness client.
The Eagle is a great prep program for a football player or fighter. Keep that in mind when you attempt the challenge.