Keys to Peak Fitness: Focus, Intensity & Relaxation

I’m in the midst of a Strength for Life training program with renowned body builder and fitness extraordinaire Shawn Philips along with about 50 other guys (Note for women: The fitness philosophy described below is universal!) from around the country. This comprehensive regimen that Shawn has devised over multiple decades consists of a 12 day “reboot” (think detox) to prepare for a 12 week “transformation” through strength training and nutritional freedom (beyond dieting!). In addition to these two fundamental pillars of the program, there is also an emphasis on conducting daily rituals including meditation, gratitude, journaling and relaxation (i.e. sleep!) thus creating a holistic and balanced approach to reaching both short term goals and longer term visions for peak fitness.

Four weeks into my transformation and I’ve already seen great results which I largely attribute to the powerful method that Shawn has pioneered known Focus Intensity Training or F.I.T. for short. This way of strength training basically instructs the practitioner to get intensely focused on the movements that will be performed and the muscle group that is being targeted to ensure maximum effectiveness of the exercise. FIT FrequencyThe true differentiater of F.I.T. though is the post-exercise routine of tapping into a deep state of relaxation through a meditative practice using deep breathing and disengaging from the content of consciousness (e.g. the surge of adrenaline from the lift).

Shawn likes to call this the “Zen of Strength” which I think makes a lot of sense given the emphasis on being totally mindful in the act of weight training… something that I’ve really tried to do this last few weeks.  While others around me are chatting away with friends or aimlessly going through the motions as they listen to music on their iPods at the gym, I’m fully absorbed with preparing for my next set (e.g. selecting weights, breathing deeply, etc.), putting everything that I have into the lift at hand with focus and intensity, and then coming down from the exercise (e.g. tracking metrics, sitting still, releasing energy, etc.). When this is replicated across a whole workout, you get something similar to the flow charted below.

FIT Workout

With this type of training, I am able to get through 5 or 6 different exercises at 2-4 repetitions in approximately 30 minutes. Afterwards, I feel both energized and deeply relaxed to go about the rest of my day. For a busy person with limited time that is simultaneously dedicated to peak fitness, I find that the F.I.T. approach is invaluable and would strongly recommend applying this philosophy to whatever program that you are going through.

FIT Cycle

For more info, check out Shawn’s website or pick up a copy of his book Strength for Life.



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Michael Kim
Michael Kim

It seems like there's a lot going on with the crossover between mindfulness/meditation and fitness. I wonder if there are scientists collecting data in this newly emerging niche? Personally I'm cautious about the transcendental effect of meditation and how it's possible to use it to get peak performance/past your normal limits and the unintended consequences it can have.. our body tires when it tires for a reason. That said I do think meditative transcendence is an exciting element to mix with fitness I just think as we see more data it will become clear that we need to deeply connect with and respect the body's limits. and have a dance between. For all I know this is happening already in professional circles. Would love to find out!


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