How to Train Like The Witcher

By on February 10, 2022

One of the most often-requested videos on the channel at the moment has been a Witcher-inspired workout. I’ve wanted to do this for a while then, but finding a unique angle for a video has been hard. Geralt of Rivia, the White Wolf, is “supernaturally enhanced” with superhuman strength, agility, and reflexes. He also has superior senses and the ability to cast signs. He is an expert swordsman and, like Batman, a fan of “prep time.” He has an extensive knowledge of the monsters he hunts and is capable of concocting the strategies to take them down.

Train like the witcher

So, in other words, he’s super fast, strong, and agile and has magic powers. What do we do with that?

On reflection, a couple of things stood out to me. First: his sword. Swinging a heavy sword around is a great way to build an entirely different kind of strength. Second: his connection to nature. The Witcher spends his time trekking through wilderness, which makes him a bit different from more tech-focussed combatants like Batman. As you guys know, I love training in nature – so this was a good fit!

And, as it happens, we can marry these concepts in a number of cool ways.

Training in Nature

First: training outdoors.

This is something I’ve preached before, but as soon as you take a regular exercise and perform it outside, you make it tougher and more useful.

See also: How to Train Wild: Tarzan Training

The example I always give is doing pull ups. A pull up on a tree branch is much harder than a pull up bar, because you need to use your grip more. Because your two hands might be at different heights, and because the branch may bend.

The same goes for doing squats on a muddy hill. Or trail running versus running on tarmac – especially in minimal shoes.

Train Wild Witcher Training

This kind of training builds resilience and toughness because you aren’t training just a single movement pattern, but all the slight variations of that pattern. This is important, because in real life, there are no precise techniques and no straight lines. If you only ever practice pushing lying down, or pull from a straight bar, you won’t be as strong as someone who has practiced every variation of that movement. This is one factor that gives rise to the infamous “farmer strength.” It’s why laborers have a more “practical strength” than some strength athletes.

See also: Specificity in Training: How to Choose the Most Functional Movements

This is what Nicolai Bernstein refers to as “repetition without repetition” – a powerful way to build more robust movement patterns. Norman Doidge uses a great analogy of sledding down a hill. You can create one deep groove by taking the precise same route every time, or you can flatten out more snow by taking slightly different routes – ultimately giving yourself more variety and options.

Thomas Myers, author of Anatomy Trains, explains how this type of movement could also strengthen more of the fascia – allowing for freeer and stronger movement in more vectors.

The Tennis Ball Example

For this workout, we’re mostly going to be performing our usual movements but outdoors. If you don’t have woods or similar nearby, then a garden will work, too. (There are more options coming up for those that can’t train outside).

Simply taking the same workout and performing it on rough terrain will let us continue with progressive overload and all that good stuff – we just want to go a little slower as the challenge is slightly higher.

Hand-eye coordination

Now, you may be asking whether performing the same movement with more variables each time could slow your progress. After all, Bruce Lee says to fear the man who has practiced one kick a thousand times.

The truth is that you might not progress on certain lifts as quickly. But you will still make progress and the trade-off here is worth it if you want real useable strength. Who cares what your deadlift numbers are?

I also highly recommend learning the movements well first. Practice good form in a safe environment, then take those movements outside to “test” yourself in a tougher environment.

A way I sometimes explain the merit of this is to use catching a tennis ball as an example. If you practice catching a tennis ball everyday and someone throws a tennis ball at you, you will catch that ball better than most. If someone throws a different ball at you, then you will still catch it better than most people. This is “near transfer.”

But you won’t catch that tennis ball as well as someone who has practiced catching a variety of balls every single day. That person might not catch the tennis ball quite as well as the specialist, but they will be more prepared for whatever life might throw at them. As long as it’s a ball.

For fighting a variety of monsters, we can’t afford to be too specialised.

The Gada

As for what kind of work we’ll be doing out here, I recommend training with tools like a clubbell, kettlebell, and macebell – or Gada. I just bought mine, so I’m not exactly a pro, but I’ve been kettle and club belling for a while now.

But the point is that this type of training is naturally multiplanar and chaotic. And it mimics the benefits you’d get from training with a sword. In fact, this was historically one of the tool’s main uses: training combatants to use a sword and/or shield.

Gada Mace Training

The unusual weight distribution of these tools means that they develop momentum that you have to battle against. The uneven strength curve means you’re bracing and rotating to manage the movement. Pavel Tsatsouline describes the kettlebell swing as being like a “fight” against the weight, and it’s easy to see why as forces pull and push against you. Movements like the hardstyle kettlebell swing also require you to perfectly time your relaxation and tension to create the “double pulse” that is seen in martial arts to create maximum power.

See also: The Many Facets of Kettlebell Training

Once again, we’re training on multiple vectors and strengthening a wide range of movements for real, transferrable strength and power. Movements like the Atlas swing work us in the transverse plane AND frontal plane, for example.

The regular Gama Cast or Halo – or really any form of circular training – is fantastic for opening the shoulders, strengthening the core, and conditioning/strengthening for wrestlers that want to be able to throw people over their shoulders.

Gama Cast

Training with two clubs and swinging them over your shoulders is literally strengthening for sword fighting.

And by swinging a mace over your head in the woods, you’ll look just like Geralt of Rivia.

Or, you know, a complete lunatic.

If you want to learn more about these movements then I highly recommend Mark Wildman’s channel, he is the GOAT.

Hybrid Movements

If you don’t have the option to train outside, training with these types of tools will be enough to offer many of the same strengthening benefits.

This is particularly true if you focus more on hybrid movements that combine more than one movement pattern in a single rep. This not only trains two movements but also the transition in between, creating more variables and reducing the possibility of injury.

Kettlebell Clean and Press

One of my favourite examples is the cross-body kettlebell clean and press. Here, you place a kettlebell down by one foot, clean it from the floor using the opposite hand (so as to slightly twist the body) and then press it overhead before returning it to the ground.

Keep the wrist straight during this movement and attempt to “punch” through the kettlebell. Don’t let your hand tip back and enter the “broken wrist” position. It’s exactly what it sounds like.

This one single movement hits so many points as to be nearly perfect. You get a hip hinge and slight squat, some bicep and lat activation during the pull, rotation and instability, followed by a shoulder press. It’s simultaneously a pull and a push, a lower body and upper body exercise. It’s relatively safe with a light-ish weight and can even be used for conditioning, once you’re confident with the movement.

Hybrid Exercise

The best part is that rotational lift from the ground. So, many people practice the deadlift to strengthen their backs and prevent injury, but we never practice picking things off the ground while twisting. This now requires stabilization in the hips and activation of the quadratus lumborum and obliques. How often do you put your back out “deadlifting” something from the ground? Do you deadlift your socks if they fall on the floor? No: you almost always pick these things up with one hand and twist as you do it. This is a crucial movement pattern for strengthening the spine and preventing injury, therefore.

How about the barbarian squat? A perfect shoulder movement + squat that also increases upper AND lower body mobility. I’ve heard this called different things, and seen different movements called the Barbarian squats. Whatever the case, I love it.

Some of my other favourite hybrid moves are the renegade row, devil press, l-sit to handstand press, and various push up flows.

Witcher Senses

What all this also does, is to involve the brain more. This is where our Witcher senses come into play.

The problem with traditional weight training, often, is that you are practicing the same movement in perfect conditions over and over. And it’s boring.

Ultimately, if you find something boring, you shouldn’t be doing it. Boredom means you aren’t learning and it means you aren’t engaged. What many workouts fail to recognize, is that strength is about input AND output. Not simply exerting force, but exerting the right amount of force in response to external variables.

Witcher Walking

This makes a workout instantly more engaging and interesting as you must pay attention to these inputs and forge new neural pathways. This kind of training is good for your brain AS WELL as your body. And those effects are doubled by simply getting outside into a more sensory rich environment. More attention = more plasticity and learning = more gains.

And we can finish this workout up with something that’s very Witcher: a slow paced walk through nature using Hakalau meditation.

I should probably elaborate.

This walk will get blood flowing around the body and encourage recovery. See my last video on running for more on that.

Hakalau Meditation

But at the same time, the natural environment will be stimulating and calming in its own way.

See also: How to Achieve Flow States, Ultra Instinct and Heightened Awareness With Wide Angle Vision

Hakalau meditation is a form of meditation where you engage your peripheral vision (your vision at the edge of your FOV). This way you take in more information and alter your attention from a more focussed state to a calmer one. This can hack your nervous system and place you into a state of calm.

Similar techniques are used by survivalists to find food. I’ve read that Native Americans call this Owl Eyes. Apparently intelligence offers use the technique to scan crowds and call it “scatter vision.”

I used to practice this in Wada Ryu Karate as part of a movement set called “Mara” (translation: evil).

Or, if you want to really look like Geralt, you can use this same technique sitting down. And this, of course, is a great way to restore health and also to accelerate the passage of time.

The Workout

(ALL OUTSIDE)

10 Minute Trail Run

2 x Failure L-Sit to Handstand Press

3 x Failure Tree Branch Pull Ups

2 x 10 Renegade Rows

2 x 10 Cross Body KB Clean and Press

3 x Failure Push Ups

3 x 10 Steel Mace Barbarian Squat

2 x 10 KB Goblet Squats

3 x Failure Pike Push Up

3 x 10 Hanging Leg Raises

3 x 20 Gama Cast

2 x 8 KB Cossack Squats

3 x 10 Shield Cast to Uppercuts OR 3 x 10 Atlas Swings

2 x 50 KB Swings

5 Minute Wilderness Walk

5 Minute Hakalau Meditation

About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

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