Courage and strength make your enemies hesitate

Couch To HEMA Strong

A home workout to build basic strength and conditioning for HEMA

Who is this for?

This basic workout framework is for someone who hasn’t ever set foot in a gym and/or hasn’t exercised in awhile, toward the goal of building up some basic strength and conditioning for HEMA.

One of the biggest mistakes that I’ve seen people make is to try to do too much at once, and either end up injured, burned out, or so sore that it impacts their ability to do their best for their HEMA practice and/or daily life.

5 Exercises, Every Day, Minimal Equipment

The premise of this framework is “greasing the groove,” a phrase coined by Pavel Tsatsouline, who is known as “the modern king of kettlebells.”

Greasing the groove describes what you are doing when you consistently practice a specific strength skill. By doing the movement consistently over time and not training to failure, we are able to do those same exercises every single day. By doing this, we are training our nervous system to learn to use our muscles to their fullest capacity and patterning the muscle memory for these movement patterns down the road for future training.

The workout consists of 5 exercises and requires minimal equipment (pull-up bar, jump rope, yoga mat, yoga blocks). Continue reading

“Mini Moc” Feder Review

It’s like a regular Pavel Moc sword, but smaller!

Hey there, it’s time for my first gear review! While I don’t intend to do many reviews, my first feder was one that’s not very common and not something that I’d seen reviewed before. Since my go-to place for gear reviews is Measure and Weigh. I’ll be borrowing their review format, with one exception: I like the idea of having both an initial impression *AND* a review after a few months.

Generally, Pavel Moc’s products are sold through his website and shipped from the Czech Republic without a US distributor; however, some of my friends at Broken Plow here in Pittsburgh had ordered a batch of “Mini Mocs.” Because of that, many of them were sold in a relatively short period of time, and I was able to reach out to those people who purchased them to get their reviews as well. So we have additional reviews from Jorge Vendries and Geoff Wilkerson.

The reviews here are Type D with the Type B Blade. Continue reading



I, the tiger, am so swift to run and to wheel
That even the bolt from the sky cannot overtake me.
~Fiore de’i Liberi~

               Whether you’re darting out and in for a quick nachreisen, defending against an attack, or following on with one of your own, the ability to quickly adjust your body position and facing is critical. After a successful attack, you must be able to withdraw successfully. A proper parry deserves a prompt riposte. Everyone understands and recognizes that being faster is an advantage, but how do you achieve it? It’s a little more complex than “just get out of the way.” To accelerate your progress you have to understand what actually makes someone good at “getting out of the way.”

Change of Direction

            Change of direction, as defined by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) comprises “The skills and abilities needed to explosively change movement direction, velocities, or mode.” For us, it’s the ability to advance, withdraw, rotate into cuts or defenses, and generally be faster on our feet.
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Why You Should Half Squat

You’ve heard it. You’ve probably heard it a dozen times or more. The scoffs and side-eyed gazes that come when someone only goes down halfway are common in a gym.  You HAVE to squat to parallel EVERY TIME.

That’s not true, especially for most weapons-based HEMA. Let me explain.

When developing your training plan, one of the keys is specificity. That’s how close the exercise you’re doing is to the activity you’re training for. The closer or more specific your exercise is, the more likely it will actually help your combat performance.

So how low do you get when you’re fighting? Most fighters I’ve seen rarely even get as low as a half-squat, for these people a full squat isn’t specific to their style. Pay attention to how you fight, it tells you how to train.

I know. I can see you fuming through the screen.

Of course I’m not suggesting you never squat to parallel. Definitely do it, and often.  Full depth squats are un-paralleled (pun intended) when it comes to giving you the strength foundation you need to fight well. They’ll help you reach your training and health goals faster than almost any other exercise. Plus they make your butt look good in fencing pants.

Those things are not what you’re training for in the weeks before a big competition though. In those 2-4 weeks you should be training to be as good at fencing as you can be. Keep your workouts highly intense, highly specific, and low volume during this pre-competition time frame. This is where half-squats shine.

BE WARNED! You’ll undoubtedly get some odd looks if you’re training at your local gym. That’s because those poor, ignorant souls are so confused why you’re doing the ONE THING everyone knows not to do. Personally, I think curling in the squat rack is a larger sin. If they end up bothering you at all, just go up and tell them that your combat performance coach told you to. 

Supplements Codex

The HEMAists Guide to Supplements, Pills, Powders, Protein, and Potables

Don’t Be A Powdermancer

When I first got into fitness in 2008, it was through a community of gamers/geeks/nerds that also enjoyed working out. I was surprised to “discover” the existence of what the community called “Powdermancers.” Powdermancers are those that spend lots of money on pills, powders, protein and weird liquids in order to be healthier/fitter/stronger. They are like the alchemists of old mixing their potions and remedies, and unfortunately, in many cases, they are doing this before they have the basics of solid nutrition, and exercise habits taken care of. You may see me refer to this as “majoring in the minors.”

In the end, supplements are intended to be “supplementary” to a consistently high-quality diet. There is no “magic bullet,” other than exercising regularly, eating lean protein, vegetables, fruit, fueling your recovery with solid sources of carbohydrates, adding in healthy fat choices for joint and hormonal support, and getting lots of sleep. Continue reading

Get HEMA Strong


Want to get better at your martial art? The fastest way to do so is to simply practice it more often. But you already knew that. The second fastest way is to get stronger in addition to practicing more often. In a fight between two equally skilled opponents, the stronger one likely wins.

No worries, the myth of strength training making you slow is long dead. Some of the fastest people in the world regularly strength train. Look at that, it’s Usain Bolt literally doing one of the exercises I’m going to recommend you do.
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Weight Loss Gloss

“How can I lose weight without changing my diet or exercise?” – Anonymous

Ha, I love this question. Someone asked this after a Saturday longsword class as I ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich while drinking a Guinness. I jokingly answered this by saying that you could start to see which organs you don’t really need (like your appendix, one of your kidneys, etc) and sell them on the black market. This would be a win-win since you could use the money to buy more swords/gear/travel to more events. Disclaimer: Don’t do this.

But the serious answer is that you can’t. However, it doesn’t need to be difficult. In fact, you should make things as easy as possible: no more and no less.


I am going to gloss over (pun intended) the basics of weight loss. There are plenty of areas that I can elaborate on; however, I don’t want to turn this into something that takes forever to read before it’s of any practical use. Instead, I’d love your feedback about which specific areas that you’d like me to expand upon for future articles. Comments (on the site, on Facebook site, or in the Facebook group or even email chuck@hemastrong.com) toward that end are greatly appreciated.

This is not intended to be used to improve “health” through nutrition specifically. Losing fat while maintaining muscle improves health markers like blood pressure, resting heart rate, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc, but health is a bit more complicated than that.

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Fuel Your Fight

HEMA Tournament Nutrition and Hydration Guide


Hey, I’m Chuck, a certified personal trainer, nutrition coach and HEMAist training in Liechtenauer longsword. I’ve written this guide after receiving a few questions about my personal nutrition/fitness regime specific to my practice of HEMA.

Your nutritional needs for a HEMA tournament are going to be specifically geared toward stockpiling and replenishing your energy levels before the tournament and throughout the day of the tournament.

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What is HEMA Strong?

Hi, I’m Chuck. The TL;DR version is that I grew up as a fat kid, and mostly as a result of my spirit animal being a sloth, ended up as a 28 year old that was over 400lbs. One day, I found out my wife and I were going to have a baby and the idea of becoming a dad inspired me to lose over 200lbs. My life changed forever, and I became a personal trainer and nutrition coach.

I was first made aware of HEMA in the fall of 2016, and once I picked up a real sword, everything again changed. Now there are three things that I enjoy talking about more than anything else (More than video games, more than movies, more than puns, more than comic books).


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