I just got back from a five-day trip to Kabuki Strength Systems in Portland, Oregon. Because it's a 10-hour drive from Reno, two of those days were mostly travel, but 10 hours is nothing for anyone serious about strength. It was an incredible few days of fun, four-wheeling, training, learning and just hanging out with some amazing people. It's a trip that I hope to make again in the future even if I have to spend another 20 hours in a vehicle.

I originally met my elitefts™ teammate Chris Duffin about a year and a half ago at one of the elitefts™ seminars. Right from the beginning, I was extremely impressed with his intensity when training, not to mention his strength levels. We had the chance to talk a bit over the weekend, and I discovered that his intelligence in training matches his lifting ability. After this trip, I can tell you that he does everything in his life with this same intensity and intelligence. He's a man of great integrity and takes a lot of pride in everything he does. This is a trait that seems to be getting more difficult to find in people.

We arrived in Portland on Friday evening and, of course, we were ready to sit down to a good meal. The whole Duffin family didn't disappoint. They took us to a local burger place that cooks everything in pork fat. I had an amazing, huge burger and a full plate of fries with pork junks, garlic seasonings, cheese, pepperoncinis and a bunch of other stuff. We ate so much incredible food all weekend that I think there was a secret conspiracy to put weight on me. It worked. The morning before the trip I weighed 297 pounds, and the morning after I got back, I weighed 307 pounds.

For one lunch, I ate a two-pound big monty that was basically an oversized Monte Cristo on full size waffles. Of course, Chris talked me into a shake to go with it! One of our breakfasts was a huge biscuit covered in gravy with basically a country fried chicken in between. On the side, we had this crazy French toast concoction that was pretty damn good. II followed that up with a huge Philly cheese steak for lunch along with a sizable and incredible lemon square. Of course, we had some delicious, massive donuts before we left town. It's amazing how a town full of skinny hippies can have such great food. I think I ate more in those few days than I usually do in a week. Damn you, Chris!

WATCH: Reno Hardcore with Guest Chris Duffin

On Saturday, we headed to Kabuki Strength Systems to get some training in and shoot some videos. I've always preached that we must keep our minds open and continue to learn for as long as we live. I think this is true for strength training as well as every other part of our lives. Never stop learning or trying to improve yourself. I'll admit though that I'm a very stubborn German, and although I'm willing to change, it has to be proven to me and make sense. Otherwise, I just won't do it. I've been training in a similar manner for almost 15 years, making only mild tweaks and changes here and there. I was excited for this trip so that I could learn some new stuff. I went there with an open mind, but hey, I'm still a stubborn German with at least a one-inch thick skull. Chris definitely changed my mind on more than a few things, and there were even some that I tried to argue, but his logic was too much for even my stubborn mind. In fact, Chris had my mind spinning just trying to take it all in. Let me tell you—it's a pretty impressive thing to change my mind after training for so long a certain way.

Our Saturday training just focused on the bench. There wasn't a whole lot of stuff to change there, but even some of the smaller tweaks amazed me because they made such a difference. It was also interesting to be on the other end of coaching. Instead of me yelling at people to get tighter, I had someone yelling at me. I think we sometimes fall into a pattern and get lazy about things. Chris showed me that I had done just that and that I wasn't keeping myself as tight as I should be, nor was I driving my legs out like I should be. Fortunately for me, I always want to improve, so I was happy to let someone as knowledgeable as Chris get on me for the things that I was doing wrong. It was great to be learning new things and it got me excited to get back home to work on them.


Sunday was all about four-wheeling. We even got to take the little man Duffin with us. When Chris and I first started planning this trip, I had asked if we could take a day to go out four-wheeling. Luckily, Chris agreed, and I think that it was a good day for all of us. For those who don't know, Chris is into four-wheeling and, in true Duffin style, he does it with great intensity. He has two crazy rigs, but the big one isn't finished yet so he agreed to take out his lesser one. I rode with him all day and his lesser one is still one of the craziest I've been in. I always find it fun to see lifters outside the gym. You get to see who they are away from the weights. For me, the bonus this time was that it was something I love to do.

By the way Chris's rig looks and the way that he drives it, you can tell that his approach to four-wheeling is just as intelligent and intense as his approach to strength training. We were climbing and going over terrain that most people would never even thing possible, and Chris put his rig to the test. I couldn't help but think that, in a way, he was testing himself. He beat the hell out of that thing and it just kept going. We had a few minor fuel bowl issues, some minor electrical issues and, strangely enough, some hood latch issues on multiple vehicles. It isn't in Chris's style to give up though. At one point while working on the rig, Chris said, “Don't you know that I always win?”

Two of Chris's friends came out with their rigs for the day as well. It was great to meet more of the people that Chris surrounds himself with. Ben and Matt aren't lifters, but they were both great guys and share similar traits with Chris. They are all intense in their own way and none of them know the word 'quit.' When anything went wrong, they immediately figured out how to solve the problem. They all seem to love overcoming challenges, and they won't quit until they figure it out. They also seem to take a lot of pride in their abilities and the jobs that they do. Everyone had a great day out in the coastal mountains. I know that I had a blast. I love four-wheeling and being outside, and getting to ride along doing some crazy shit that I've never done before was pretty awesome!


Training on Saturday was fun, but I was really looking forward to squatting and deadlifting on Monday. I've been watching some of Chris's YouTube videos, but I couldn't completely grasp some of what he was coaching. I'm definitely more of a hands-on learner and I do better when I can ask questions. Chris threw my mind into hyper warp. It wasn't like he changed everything, but what he did change really made sense to me now that I could see it in person. It was basically looking at things from a different angle, and he was more than capable of explaining to me why this was a better approach. I don't think I lifted anything over 400 pounds, but I was exhausted working on new technique. I have 15 years of neural pathways that I need to rebuild and that takes some serious concentration. As frustrated as I was, it was amazing to be learning new strength knowledge. It's almost like being that beginner lifter who is all excited about the gains he's going to be making. I feel as though I have this new information that will help me build back up to where I want to be much more quickly. It won't be easy to retrain myself, but I'm excited about getting it down and seeing where it takes me. I think Chris overloaded my brain because for most of the ride home, I was amazed at how slow my brain was functioning. I went from a zillion thoughts at once to not wanting to think about anything at all. I needed to hit reset on my mind.

Seeing where Chris and his staff have taken Kabuki Strength Systems in such a short time is really incredible. They have a great staff with so many different skilled people who all excel in their individual areas. Chris has a knack for surrounding himself with excellent people and he has definitely done this at Kabuki Strength Systems.

Chris won't put his name to anything that isn't perfect and this has spread throughout the staff there. They have come up with some great products such as the Duffalo Bar, ShouldeRok™ and Thompson BoomStick. All these products are handmade by Kabuki Strength Systems in their machine shop. Yes, they are actually made here in the USA! I had the chance to spend some time with Jesse Keller, the head machinist, and I actually watched him make a ShouldeRok™. Coming from a blue collar family of carpenters, welders and mechanics, it was awesome to see this kind of pride and skill put into making some awesome products.

RECENT: Are You Asking the Right Questions?

Kabuki Strength Systems recently launched Kabuki Movement Systems. My explanation won't do it justice, but simply put, it's about determining deviate movement patterns and underlying issues and then fixing them. Chris took me through the website and it's fantastic. The index is one of the easiest I've ever seen. You can look up videos by joint, muscle group, exercise and so on. It also has a forum with access to coaches, program outlines and sample programs, guided tutorials and thousands of videos. It's super inexpensive to join and it's an enormous resource for doctors, therapists, trainers, lifters and athletes.

Kabuki Strength Systems also offers virtual coaching that isn't like any other internet coaching around. They don't do cookie cutter programs. Every program is individualized to fit that person's needs. Their clients aren't just coached by one person—they're coached by a team. Their training is based on velocity principles and used in a way that I've never seen before. It's without a doubt the best and most thorough virtual training on the market today. In addition, they offer seminars in the Kabuki Movement System, which also includes certification. They offer four of these a year throughout the United States. I can say for sure that I will be attending the next west coast seminar. There is a lot of great knowledge that can be learned from Chris Duffin and Kabuki Strength Systems, so please check out their website. Get your Duffalo bar, ShouldeRok™ and all kinds of other great strength equipment at elitefts™.

This was an all around amazing trip. I had a great time hanging with the Duffin family, four-wheeling, training, doing some interviews and learning some new stuff to advance my own knowledge and training. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel (chadaichs) to watch Reno Hardcore interviews with Chris Duffin. I'll also be posting an awesome episode of us four-wheeling and an episode showing how they actually make a ShouldeRok™. Upcoming episodes will include reviews of my Duffalo bar and ShouldeRok™ once I get some more time working with them.

Check out Chris' YouTube channel (chrisduffin) to see interviews that Chris did with none other than me. I'm also slowly working back into social media again, so you can follow me on Instagram at chadaichs.