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Anthony Mychal

Anthony Mychal is former skinny-fat dude on a philosophical-physical pilgrimage: flipping and freestyle acrobatics, flexing and physique training, thinking about and tinkering with physical freedom
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David Letterman’s cup technique

David Letterman and Cups

David Letterman and Cups

David Letterman dressing for a taping of “Late Show.” Each cup to the left represents a completed show. New York Times

Everything about me seems ethereal. My work isn’t physically manifested. A carpenter’s work is real. The chair, the house. The end result is concrete.

I write…but it’s all digital. Half the books I own are digital, too. I don’t have stacks of journals or books to show for my work. I train…but there’s no thing that shows the work. (I have training logs, but they only span two notebooks across, ohhhh, nine years?) There are memories. I have videos. Much like Letterman.

I think of how many times I trained over the years. How many times I tricked. I don’t know how much work I’ve done. Maybe stack pennies? Every training session, add another penny to the stack. Or use index cards. Or maybe just buy the cups. Stack the cups. Build your own cup mansion.

Imagine, when you feel lazy or unmotivated, looking at your stack of cups. See that? Your stack of cups. Imagine having a tangible visual representation of your work.

The body changes slowly. It requires a lot of days of doing things right…a lot of days doing things a lot of people don’t do. Wouldn’t it be nice to see those days? Better yet, see those days accumulate? Day after day after day.

There’s something to this concrete real representation that hits me.

Are you going to add another cup to your stack today?

Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times
Hat tip: Austin Kleon

Juggling goals: losing fat, building muscle, bettering bodyweight skills, becoming athletic


I’m trying to figure out how to balance three separate but kind of related goals. 

First, I want to put on about 10-15 pounds of muscle while getting down to about 12-15% body fat. (I’m currently sitting at 208 pounds between 20-21%.)

Second, I want to become a bodyweight beast, making feats like handstands, one arm push-ups, and muscle-ups look easy. 

Third, I want to increase my movement capabilities in freerunning by upping my speed, agility, and power.


They aren’t “kind of related.” There’s a common thread. And the common thread: your body fat.

  • Looking good naked means losing fat.
  • Bodyweight skills are a lot easier when you’re lighter. So, yeah. Lose body fat.
  • Freerunning is high impact. Joints can only handle so much stress. Every extra pound is extra impact…especially if it’s useless body fat.

So each of your goals ties back to body fat. If you want to make the most widespread progress across all your goals, put your foot down and squash the body fat. But remember that losing fat doesn’t mean “cutting” in the way most people think of “cutting.” 

Don’t turn into a cardio bunny. As you lose fat, strength train with a barbell. Include a progression for bodyweight skills pending how good you are now (progress horizontal to vertical with bodyweight rows, vertical to horizontal with push-ups, et cetera). At 20% body fat, most bodyweight skills will be hard(er) as compared to you doing them in the future at the same strength but leaner. A barbell will help you get a good training stimulus without being bottlenecked by your current bodyweight.

Also prepare your body for the freerunning. You can do a lot of ankle work. See A Trickster’s Guide to Ankle Strength. As you reach more towards the 15% body fat range, start teaching your body how to land and roll.

The idea being when you’re finally at your ideal body fat percentage you’re prepared to launch into your dreams. You’re prepared to now hit the higher bodyweight skills because you started adapting the muscles and connective tissue. Same goes for the freerunning.

A small (but effective) cheat code to help you become motivated

Konami Cheat Code Motivation

Konami Cheat Code Motivation

It’s the opposite of masturbation. You want something, but you can’t seem to make yourself do the work in order to get the reward.

You’re searching every nook and cranny. It’s lost more than Oceanic Flight 815. Where oh where has my motivation gone?

Ever feel this way? Ever look high and low for motivation for something you were convinced you wanted?

If so, then I have a cheat code for you.

It’s unlike any other motivation tip, trick, hack, shortcut, sneakcut, <buzzword> I’ve tried.

The thing you are dreaming of doing will bleed out of your pores. Your body will plead for you to scratch the itch.

That’s what happened (is happening) to me, at least. It’s easy an easy cheat code to start using, too. So what follows is the how and the why so you can get started three seconds ago.

You’re stymied.

But not by the millions of majestic insane super complicated microbiological events (so intricate my left earlobe is combusting just thinking about them) that allow you to jump higher, build more muscle, and learn new skills.

You’re stymied, instead, by motivation. Can’t even get off the starting blocks.

If I were smart, I’d make a pill. Willpower™ – Gives You the Power to Will. (Don Draper, I’m available for hire.) Or Willpower™ – Gives you the Will to Power. (I think the statue of limitations on Nietzsche has since passed, right?)

Maybe you did some reading on motivation. (Maybe you even looked for Willpower™.) Maybe you found out about willpower. (The actual thing and not Willpower™.) And then maybe you read The Willpower Instinct and found out about a ‘lil willpower h4x0r: meditation.

Meditation might preserve some willpower. But you probably have enough willpower in throttling through your bones right now.

You reach for the chocolate cake when it’s on the kitchen counter. Willpower is lost! 

But you probably wouldn’t if it were in a lion’s den. Willpower is found! 

So yeah. Your willpower is there.

And, uhh. Bad news on the whole meditation thing…

Starting a meditation practice tends to require willpower. So you’re using willpower in order to gain willpower for something else that requires willpower.

Using willpower in order to gain willpower is a little bass ackwards, even for an overthinking nerd like myself.

Maybe you thought you’d be more motivated if you had something serious to lose…like your ego.

So you sent nudes of yourself to your best brofriend and told him to soil social media with the goods (your goods) if your “x” goal wasn’t finished by your “y” date.


Just kidding.

Public shaming might make for some motivation. But is it really your long term plan? To put money on the line from now until the day you die? To be fueled by loss aversion and potential punishment instead of personal gain and self-satisfaction on the road to physical mastery?

Maybe these cooky things work for you. Or will work for you. Who knows? Give ’em a try.

But the method I’m about to show you doesn’t involve convince yourself to do something you don’t really want to do or using willpower to save willpower.

My method will let <the thing> come out of you as if it were meant to be all along.

Goku Blutz Waves

There existed a moment when I was eighteen. It was like tripping a Saiyan’s ape instinct when seeing the moon. In The Talent Code, Coyle calls this a moment of ignition.

Training regularly and eating right no longer required motivation or willpower. It just was. 

But I also know what it’s like to want something and not have the utmost motivation. Let’s face the first world reality: most of what we do helps our broken psyche sleep more comfortable each night. We aren’t going to get mauled by a lion if we miss a PR or flake out on learning how to do a backflip.

I’ve been antimasturbating in the tricker world for the past year or so. I got over my foot injury. Been looking through the lens of want but haven’t been able to tap into the blutz-wave-ape-instinct want.

I was just like everyone else. Looking for motivation.

But then things changed.

I started doing something. Something small. Something common place. Something so stupid and easy sounding that you’re going to have one of those this is too easy for it to work feelings. So I encourage you to stick around and see why it works so well.

Rasmus Ott is a hero of mine.

He’s one of my favorite trickers. He’s a lot of tricker’s favorite tricker, actually. He’s good. Real good. Better than my self-doubting self would ever allow myself to envision becoming.

A place inside of me whispers, “You’ll never be as good as Ott. Why try?”

And this is why I choose to watch Ott trick as often as possible. 

And this is the cheat code: watch.

  1. Find videos (or a video) of someone doing <the thing> you want to be motivated to do and then watch. It has to be a video.
  2. Watch as often as you can, but make it a point to watch every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to bed. In between, watch as often as possible.
  3. Make sure <the thing> and <the dude(s)> showcase ability superseding what your self-doubting self could ever imagine yourself doing.
  4. Don’t watch in a pumped-up-motivation ape-chest-pounding way. Just watch. Watch. Try to absorb everything into your mind. Try to channel cosmic osmosis.

And now for the why.

Anthony Mychal Tricking Corkscrew

Why does this work so well?

  • I want to do things I don’t believe I can do. I’m a self-defeating turd. Watching “impossible” things makes them common place. It’s hard to continue to believe things are impossible when you see them being done six times every day. It’s even harder to believe things are impossible when you see them being done with ease. I see, I believe.
  • Your body is a wizard. When you watch someone else, you aren’t just being entertained. You’re learning. Your brain is unconsciously digesting the movements and the skills. You’re improving your own ability to do them [1]. This doesn’t happen with a poster or a picture, which is why it has to be video.
  • Seeing things often will reply said things often in your head. When I’m in the shower I can see my body moving and doing <the thing>. So when it comes time to do <the thing> I feel like my body already knows what to do.

And when this gets repeated in your head day after day and you see yourself doing <the thing> day after day, it’s as if your body says, “Please. Please. Let me show you I can do this. I’ve been picturing myself do this. I know I can do this. Just give me a chance.”

Beyond motivation for <the thing>, I’ve also noticed…

…motivation for things complimentary to <the thing>. And this has been a most welcomed side effect. For me, tricking is <the thing>. But I find myself much more motivated to work on my flexibility and mobility every night knowing that it’ll help <the thing>.

It’s a two-for-one deal.

And unlike other willpower methods, there’s no hurt in making this a regular practice. You don’t need anything you don’t already have (like seven dragon balls). You’re on your phone all the time anyway. Download a YouTube app and get trigger happy.

Sacrifice some of your swiping left and swiping right. Besides, chicks’ll dig you more if you’re able to do some of the cool things you (currently) aren’t motivated to do.


[1] This is in The Talent Code and also The Inner Game of Tennis. It’s credited to mirror neurons. I don’t know if the phenomenon has been worked out, but the phenomenology seems to be there.

Body Composition, 14. Roadkill

Certain carbohydrates preferentially restock liver glycogen. So if you have a relatively empty liver glycogen tank and eat these carbohydrates, you fill the tank. But the tank isn’t all that big.

If you eat an excess of carbohydrates, beyond what fills the tank, your body uses its wizardry to turn glucose/glycogen into fat. And, to understand why, think about survival. Remember, Hjaarn is worried about the future. He won’t just throw money (or potential money) down the dumpster.

Your body doesn’t gain fat as punishment for you sins. Body fat is a miracle, really. You can survive longer in dire situations (no food) with more body fat. (There was actually a study done on this, by the way.) Bears fatten up before hibernating because they won’t have a lot of incoming food. 

Imagine if you didn’t have any fat inside of you. I’m not talking about being lean and having a six pack. I’m talking about no fat cells. You don’t eat for one day, so your liver glycogen runs out. No liver glycogen, no brain food. So your brain goes to the backup in body fat. But, oh, wait! That’s gone, too. MUSCLE, THEN. WHAT ABOUT THE MUSCLE? Nope. Glycogen in the muscle is locked away to be used only by the muscle. So one day without food and you’re close to becoming roadkill. Bummer.

  • Liver glycogen – more immediate need, short term
  • Muscle glycogen – locked away
  • Body fat – long term need, future

The only choice for brain food without body fat and liver glycogen is muscle tissue itself. So, say bye bye muscle tissue. But breaking down muscle tissue isn’t ideal. It’s like selling the tire of your car. It’s useful in the short term if you need the immediate cash, but in the long term it’s going to hurt you if you need to drive anywhere.

And in the evolutionary scheme of things? Famine was a real thing. If you listen to the paleolithic pushers, humans routinely went without food for hours and hours (even day[s]). Body fat is the safe, obvious play for excess because it can keep the brain alive in time of need without the drawbacks of zapping muscle tissue.

My grandma, $2 bills, and calories

The conventional calorie game assumes all calories are equal. It all comes down to energy. One unit of energy is one unit of energy. Cool story, bro. It’s like money. All money is money. It all spends the same.

When I was little, my grandma often gave me a $2 bill on my birthday along with some other money. The $2 was a special thing. I’ve spent a lot of money since those days. But I still have that stack of $2 bills.

What do you do with money you win at a casino? Spend it quickly, most likely. It’s free money! What do you do with money you make after a full day’s work of cleaning poop from toilets? Save it, most likely. You worked hard for it! 

I had this written down before I heard what Peter Attia said on this podcast with Tim Ferriss. (And I paraphrase.) We know that we’re governed by thermodynamics. Calories in v. calories out matters…but that’s just not a very interesting story. It’s like saying, “You know why Bill Gates is rich? He makes more money than he spends.” 

And he’s right. It’s not interesting. Probably why I am biased towards wanting to believe the body can’t be so simplistic. But despite my mystic mind, the questions should still be on the table.

When you parallel money with calories, the world of nutrition is quite different. There are different forms of currency. Dollars. Gold. Salt. Euros. Money is money, yes. But does that mean all money is spent the same? Or treated the same? Why do some people invest? Why do some people spend money on lavish goods even on a tight budget?


I’m enjoying: pondering relatively useless yet controversial questions in order to feel important.