Healing Powers

by Danny Kavadlo on March 3, 2015

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Danny Kavadlo Wolvie

Wouldn’t it be great if we all had healing powers? Think about it. If the perils of injury were non-existent? If the chances of maiming, straining or spraining any particular body part were a work of fiction, best suited for the comic books? What if the words “pain” and “gain” were not so frequently associated?

Marvel at a universe where getting hurt is not a major concern.

Well here’s the thing, bub: It’s NOT a major concern. Not much of one anyway. Now before you start freaking out, try hearing me out. Yes I acknowledge that it is possible that one can get injured doing a pull-up (or lifting weights, running, jumping, or even walking down the street). But it’s also possible to get hurt while cleaning your garage, giving birth, or driving a car. You can even choke while eating an organic kale salad. Does that mean we shouldn’t do these things?

Despite what some say, I’m a true believer that the chances of getting injured if you work out are much lower than if you don’t work out. Makes sense, right?

We are constantly subjected to fear-mongering tactics perpetrated by the media, even (especially?) the fitness industry itself. That’s right, my people: Most of the commercial fitness industry does not actually want you to work out! That’s why there is equipment (abs machines for example) that’s built to isolate muscles that are not made to be isolated! Or why treadmills are designed to give the illusion of exertion (fat burning zone???) but not get you in shape.

Ab Machine treadmill

These machines are not built to get you in shape.

It’s also why gyms sign up new members every day but never get any more crowded week to week. They’d go out of business if all their members actually got results. Better to sign you up, feed you some bullshit and send you on your way. Thank you, DON’T come again.

The real deal is that people respond to fear. When it snows, the news tells you to go out and stock up on groceries and shovels or you’re gonna die an icy death. (Conversely when it’s hot out–and a slow news day–similar threats are made about the perils of heat.) For shame.

Danny Kavadlo Snowy Pull-up

I’m not dead yet.

Ultimately, it’s the individual’s choice what to accept, inspiration or fear. The truth is that it’s very unlikely you will inflict bodily harm while calisthenics training. A plane can crash, but flying is still the safest way to travel. I’ve even fallen off my bicycle, but I still ride it every day. It’s still good for me. Don’t hate. Appreciate.

Danny Kavadlo One Arm Pull Up

Don’t hate. Appreciate.

Sure, a day (or even a week) off can be a good thing. But you don’t necessarily have to plan for it or measure it with a slide rule. And you certainly don’t need to be afraid to work out intensely or frequently. Let your body, life and experience dictate. Simply put, if your legs are aching, then train your arms. Listen to your body. It’s wiser than you think.

We all need to recover at times; I’d never deny it. As far as healing goes, respect your level. Though I sometimes feel like I have an adamantium skeleton, I don’t. So when those moments arise when I need to back off, I do. No biggie. Common sense prevails yet again.

Danny Kavadlo hmm

Hmmm… Try some common sense.

In fact, I’ve been practicing calisthenics for over 25 years and I’ve never suffered more than a few nicks and dings (mostly from bumping my head on the pull-up bar or other such carelessness). Some tendonitis is the worst injury I’ve ever gotten, which is relatively minor on the grand scale.

And if we do get injured, no we don’t have supernatural healing powers, so pay attention to what you’re experiencing. Embrace every moment with care. Be aware of what’s around you. These practices are helpful in all aspects of life, not just fitness. Living in the present goes a long way, my friends. Every body needs training!

Keep the dream alive,



Danny Kavadlo is one of the world’s foremost authorities on calisthenics, nutrition and personal training. He is the author of the Dragon Door titles Diamond-Cut Abs and Everybody Needs Training. Danny is known for his minimalist philosophy, simple approach and motivational talents.

A true in-person experience, Danny is a Master Instructor for Dragon Door’s Progressive Calisthenics Certification. He has been featured in the NY Times, TRAIN, Men’s Fitness and is a regular contributor to Bodybuilding.com. Learn more about Danny at www.DannyTheTrainer.com

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  • Alexander Hetzl

    Words of wisdom, Danny!

    I made similar experiences that when you get hurt, your body will tell you when it’s ready for training again. One of the best things about progressive calisthenics are the progressions. During the bodys healing phase, switch to lower progressions and you can actually assit the healing process (again, if you listen to your body and don’t overdue).

    All the best; keep up the good work!

    • dannykavadlo

      Thanks Alexander. One of the great things is that all of these moves we teach at PCC can be BOTH progressed AND regressed. Listen to your senses!
      Keep killin it,

  • That wolverine impersonation has gotta be the coolest picture I’ve ever seen of you, Danny! It even tops Forrest Gump and FIght Club 😀

    And wise words indeed! Ditch the machines and conventional wisdom, and embrace calisthenics and common sense! Now ‘scuse me, I’m gonna go and do some pushups because that article motivated the hell out of me.

    • dannykavadlo

      I know you get what I’m talking about. No go get those pushups!

    • Frank Delventhal

      I agree …. I think they choose the wrong person for the movie 😉

      • dannykavadlo

        Haha. Thanks Frank.

        • Frank Delventhal

          you should sell that as a poster … 🙂

    • martymonster

      I saw the picture and wondered if the text ‘Marvel at a universe’ was supposed to be a pun.

  • XrobX

    Great article Danny! I’ve been checking out the PCC blog for a long time but never commented before. Lots of good points here. I think there is also a tendency for the “fitness industry” to spread another type of fear…that if you don’t work out on expensive machines, dressed in expensive workout wear and harnessing all the high tech gadgets and apps available, you’re somehow not doing it right and will miss out on some kind of optimum training level. Then you’ll get so tied up in statistics and numbers you’ll spend more time doing mathematics than you will actually training. Heaven forbid you could actually get fit with just your own body, some old clothes and either small bit of floor space or the great outdoors. Now inspired for some “berserker” training!

    • dannykavadlo

      Well said, XrobX,
      Mankind has been getting fit since the dawn of our existence. There were no gyms, workout gear, and DEFINITELY NO APPS! Despite what Conventional “Wisdom” says, movement trumps mathematics when the journey is fitness. Thanks for the comment.

  • martymonster

    Hi Danny. Words of wisdom which are horribly appropriate to me right now. I’ve flared my right elbow tendonitis again and its pissing me right off. Its so hard to back off and rest. I’m always thinking ‘well it doesn’t hurt that much when I do X so lets do X…and maybe some more X…’ Eventually I put all my X in one basket and it just doesn’t heal!

    • dannykavadlo

      Tendonitis is no joke, Martymonster. Definitely back off for a little while. Try some heat to promote circulation. Also, natural remedies like turmeric and nutmeg increase circulation to help get nutrients to the affected area. Good luck brother!

      • Frank Delventhal

        There are some creams that really heat up (sorry I can only name some brands here from Germany, like Tiger Balm and “Pferdesalbe”) they work good but evaporate very quickly and the heat wears off. If one puts some cellophane around the arm. The heat stays way longer and one does not mess up the clothes. 🙂 Nice trick when you go to sleep.
        Get well soon.

  • Jack Arnow

    Wonderful article that says it all in clear straightforward language. I’ve gotten my share, or more, of tendonitis because I didn’t always listen to my body. I just finished my morning workout, and was so thrilled to read this article. Thank you Danny, for reminding me and other fitness enthusiasts, to follow all the super important ideas that you wrote about.

    • dannykavadlo

      Hey Jack!
      I always appreciate your voice of wisdom and experience. If anyone knows the ups and downs of training, it;s you my friend. Thanks for the comment! Hope to see you soon.

  • Those pictures rule, Danny!!! But, the real wisdom of the article is the statement that commercial fitness doesn’t want us to work out or to get better — it’s not their business model. As too many people have had to hear me say in real life, “As if the answer would actually BE in the mainstream… the real answers are never in the mainstream…” We have to take responsibility for our own progress, and pay attention to how we physically respond — and HONE our instinct along with our skills. An yeah, that Wolverine photo is the best yet!

    • dannykavadlo

      You are so right… results would be a poor business model for an evil corporation. We all need to take responsibility. There’s no quick fix/instant answer. And I totally agree about HONING the instinct. “Teach a man to fish…”
      Thanks, A!

  • Great article Danny and I loved the point you made about fitness machines. I wish there were gyms in Chicago that had some bars, no mirrors, no machines, and a lot of open space to train. There was such a gym once and unfortunately it closed down. Keep up the wonderful work Danny!

    • dannykavadlo

      Thanks for the comment amigo!
      I’ll be seeing you in Chicago at PCC, right? Cant wait!

    • Great article for me, too, Mario! Here in Germany we have the same situation. Fancy machines, treadmills and tv with 24/7 nonsense pouring out, mirrors and a tiny section with free weights. No pullup bars, no parallel bars, no free space.
      Time to take back our responsability for ourselves and train the way evolution intended… some times man has to experience what is wrong to get back on the right path. Que te vaya bien, hermano!

  • Karen Lee

    It struck me when you mentioned the fitness industry’s concern is their bottom line, not our well being. I don’t think I put that together, but of course it’s true, they’re big business and share the same qualities I hate about other big business. Geez, you present common sense in a way that takes me off guard: I read it and think, well yeah, of course, but why the heck didn’t I know it!? Love this article.

    • dannykavadlo

      THANKS KAREN!!!! A lot of us don’t think of the gym as a store but thats what it is. Trust me, I’ve spent years on the training, then sales, then management staffs of some pretty major health clubs in NYC. This is not necessarily to say that they are all evil empires, but rather that any store will close its doors when they’re in the red and stop seeing green.

  • Rohan Kaushik

    Great Article !! I loved your point about how humans respond to fear and how we never respond to our true instincts !! Like you said, it’s in every aspect of life !!

    • dannykavadlo

      Hey Rohan,
      It’s true so much of what we talk about in a fitness context can be applied to many aspects of life. Thanks for posting!

  • Great read, sir. There isn’t enough talk out there about listening to your body to guide your training. It’s all sets and reps and cycles. I guess common sense ain’t so common!

    • dannykavadlo

      Thanks so much for your comment Ando. I’m glad you get it!

  • Matt Schifferle

    Truer words were never spoken….er written. Awareness is so important. Almost of my injuries have been due to not paying attention to what my body was telling me. Then of course obeying what your body is telling you is another thing. For years I bought all that garbage about how we have to fight our own body and that when it tells us to back off then we just push longer and harder.
    (*sigh*) If only I wasn’t so tough ie. pig headed back then. I would have avoided so much pain and injury! Thanks for the reminder Danny!

    • dannykavadlo

      Thanks for the comment Matt. Always good to hear your take on things. As for being tough, pigheaded or whatever, we all learn through our own experiences.

  • Halil Mutlu

    this article was really interesting that my reading speed went up through the roof.But just for this article i guess.

    • dannykavadlo

      Right on Halil! Thanks for the support!

  • dannykavadlo

    Haha! Thanks brother!

  • dannykavadlo

    HELLYEAH! I’m not much of an actor though, Too busy keeping it real haha.

  • pixelzombie

    Between my guitar playing and the CC routines, my left wrist is either strained or I have a case of tendonitis. It sucks to go back to level 1 for pushups, but I do understand it’s very necessary.
    Where did you get your tendonitis, what did you do to heal and how long did it take?

  • Mohammed

    One question:

    Following the wisdom of keeping the blood flowing during injury, if a movement does not hurt, is it always the case that it’s a good idea to continue doing that movement (e.g., wall pushups)? Or is it possible that the damage is being made greater even if there is no pain?

    • dannykavadlo

      It’s hard to say without directly observing your situation. But as a rule of thumb, YOU know what’s going on in your body better than any coach, athlete, trainer, dietician, doctor, shaman, coach, “expert” or medicine man. Trust your own common send]se and experience. You’ve probably acquired more wisdom over the years than you think. my friend.

      • Mohammed

        I’ll remember this. Thank you, Danny!

  • Matt

    To cut a long story short knee reconstruction 4 years ago, now knee
    cartilage gone, hinge brace for two months trying to grow new
    cartilage.Last chance at good knee. Need help can’t; bridge, squat,
    handstand push up, walk , bike run etc. and putting on weight. I can do
    pushes, pulls, rope climbing, straight bridges. Any one been through
    similar experience or have ideas on programs. High reps on the things i
    can do maybe eat less?
    thanks hope you guys come back to Australia.

    • dannykavadlo

      Hey Matt,

      Good to hear from you. I’m sorry about that knee issue. Damn. But keep doing what you can. Hopefully someone out there has had a similar experience and can give you some guidance, my brother. Keep on keeping on.

      • Matt

        Thanks Danny. Will do!

    • NorthIdahoBodyweight

      After my last knee surgery I was told there was nothing I could do but wait until I was old enough to do a full knee replacement. I found Anthony Mychals’ Athlete’s Guide to Knee Pain. This was six months ago and my knee is the best it has been since my first major injury in 2002. If you choose to try this program stick with it, it does require a major time investment.

      • Matt

        Thanks for that i’ll check it out. I had a micro fracture on the end of the femur and having prp injections at the moment to grow cartilage. Did you get back to doing explosive training like jumps and sprints and/or pistols? Surgeon and physiso said i may have to modify my exercise.

        • NorthIdahoBodyweight

          I am getting close on most exercises. My injury/injuries started with major damage to the patella and meniscus. I have no cartilage on my patella and it is now deformed. Following the guide to knee pain steadily and progressively got me doing exercises I was told I would probably not do again.

  • Great stuff Danny. Too many people employ excuses to avoid training and success. Don’t fall prey to your own fears OR the fears of others. Do not limit yourself!

    • dannykavadlo

      HELLYEAH BROTHER! Well said!

  • dannykavadlo

    Wishing you a speedy recovery. Mohammed, but yes, this stuff takes time. Lets do legs!!!!!

  • dannykavadlo
  • pixelzombie

    Thanks for the info from both of you. I didn’t know about nutmeg increasing circulation, will have to look into that.

  • Phil

    Hey Danny, how did you get through your tendonitis? i currently have a problem with my distal bicep tendon which just doesnt want to heal and its starting to depress me.

    Cheers, keep up the good work


    • dannykavadlo

      Hey Phil,
      I did a lot of things. Massage. Cupping (Thanks Greg Shim), heat, cold, a client of mine who considers himself an “alchemist” even made me a topical cream that was chuck-a-bluck full of natural agents that increase circulation. But at the end of the day, it was probably a combination of treading light and completely backing off. I started training for the one-arm pull-up in 2006, which certainly attributed. I backed off for most of 2007. (As an interesting aside–and to put this stuff in perspective–I did not achieve my first OAP until 2013… and I didn’t do my 2nd til 2014!) In other words, as frustrating as it seems, patience is a virtue. GOOD LUCK FRIEND!

      • Phil

        thanks Danny, some good advice 🙂

  • Les Gross

    Excellent article Danny. I can’t help but think this is a quasi response to all the negative comments on Corey Howard’s recent article. Great points about how easy it is to injure yourself doing mundane, even routine things. Hell you can seriously strain a muscle while sleeping (I’ve experienced that firsthand).

    I read a blog article somewhere by a guy who was bashing pistol squats because he was 6’2″ and was afraid he would fall on his ass and die. Said he’d substitue them with nice, safe and cozy wall sits. He unfortunately will never reap the rewards from pistols because he’s too scared to run the risk.

    Damn shame how many folks don’t understand the risk/reward aspect of training, or pretty much everything in life. Don’t let anything stop you from achieving!

    • dannykavadlo

      Great comment! You’re really paying attention and, yes, “quasi response” is a VERY good way of putting it. I actually began this piece a few months ago and set it down for a while, but indeed it was in part Corey’s article that made me feel it was my responsibility to publish it now. There’s a lot of fear, cyber-bullying and straight up hate out there, not to mention false information (often written by people WHO DONT TRAIN). All we can do is voice our own common sense experiences. Btw, well said about the risk/reward aspect of training: it’s applicable to many other facets of life as well. Thanks so much for your comment!

  • This article proves that this guy is more than the future of training–he should be the future of personal development.

    (Huge Jacked Man.)

    • dannykavadlo

      Haha. Thanks as always for the support Coach!

    • Alex

      Hey, Paul: Looking foward to your third book, I hear it’s out this week. Wanted to ask if you were doing any other ones? I had suggested something of a history book (like you do with calisthenics & general things as you do with all the other books I’ve read- with as much of your own as you want to put in), but I also heard something about a possible Prison Fighting book. Would be stoked to get either or both, so please consider it. Not unknowledgeable of either, but I’d like to learn more.

  • Clive Burns

    Wise words indeed, thanks Danny. Mr Jackman has major competition!

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