Self Defense: Are You Strong Enough?

When I was in high school, we had to take a required 4 semesters of physical eduction. My junior year, I took aerobics, and our teacher was amazing. The last few weeks of the quarter she brought in a self defense instructor. It was absolutely eye-opening.

Yes, beating up the marshmallow man was a ton of fun, but I also realized that I was seriously lacking in basic skills, and the general strength needed to fend off an attacker-and I was in amazing shape! 

When Phil Ross announced his program, Survival Strong, I was so excited, and honored, because he’s here today to show you exactly how to be strong enough to defend yourself and not be a victim of violence. Without further ado…here’s Phil!  

There are many self defense pundits that overlook the importance of strength and being in top physical condition as a necessary asset in a self defense situation…but it makes me ask a simple question:


Honestly? Most of them are lazy and don’t want to put in the work. So why are there physical training requirements for our Armed Forces? And why is there PT in the Police Academy?

In fact, many of the more progressive Police Departments require their officers to retest on a yearly basis with basic PT. Our Special Forces and other Elite Units are in such great physical condition because if you are in good shape and strong, not only are you able to deliver more effective blows, but you are also better equipped to withstand a pounding.

All things being equal, the stronger person in the fight wins. It’s a fact. Even though most street confrontations take mere seconds, you have to deal with adrenaline dump, you may suffer from heart failure while under duress, you may be tired after a long day of work, or you might be “under the weather”.

There are many factors where being in good condition and being strong are extremely beneficial. Defending yourself is one of them.

self defense

Basic Strength

Our primary focus is Bodyweight, Simple Suspension, and Man to Man strength developing drills. There are other fantastic methods strength development: Kettlebells, Free Weights, and Sandbags to name a few. However, there are a multitude of resources available regarding these methods of developing your strength. The advice contained in SURVIVAL STRONG is catered toward the minimalist.

The calisthenics listed below are some of my personal favorites for power development and conditioning. There are many others that may you incorporated in your training regiment.

Upper Body

Upper Body Strength is developed through pushing and pulling. By employing a wide variety Push-ups, Pull-ups, Dips and Handstands you can develop great strength and durable tendons.


Importance: Someone may try to twist or control your limbs. If they are soft and de-conditioned, you will most likely sustain an injury and not be able to free yourself from their grip. Your striking effectiveness will also increase with your strength.

Lower Body

Lower Body Strength is also developed through pushing and pulling. You can use various Squats and Deadlifts to create lower body strength. Hill sprints, pushing a car, and Plyometric leaps tone this important powerhouse as well.


Importance: This will enable us to deliver powerful kicks more explosively. Your driving power comes from your lower body. Pushing someone off of you, standing back up after being knocked down is all aided by leg strength. Leg strength and conditioning will lessen the effects of leg attacks.


Rotational, Core and Abdominal Strength is accomplished through a variety of Planks, Bridges and Abdominal strengthening movements. These are the most important, yet frequently ignored set of exercises.


Importance: Development of a strong core will enable you to sustain a blow and minimize or even eliminate the damage to internal organs. 

Neck and Shoulders

Neck Strength: Wrestlers’ Bridge, 4-way neck dynamic tension and static wall tension work. It is essential to have a strong neck. Most people do not work their neck muscles.


Importance: You never know when someone is going to grab you by the neck or when something will fall on you.  You need to be able to withstand a beat down. A strong neck will minimize the effect of referral shock to your brain.   

Phil Ross is a former competitive fighter and bodyguard turned self defense and fitness guru who wants to share his life-saving techniques with as many people as possible. An 8th Degree Black Belt, he is the owner of American Eagle Mixed Martial Arts as well as Kettlebells: The Ultimate Training Center. For more self defense tips, check out his new book, Survival

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