I was born and raised in the heart of Texas, Austin. Raised by two Mexican immigrants in a big family. I grew up with a really cool big brother who introduced me into mixed martial arts (MMA) and brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ).
I remember watching old school UFC and Pride FC on VHS recordings. I was always into combat sports growing up and got into fitness and unconventional training when I was like 13. I trained BJJ, Muay Thai and conventional weightlifting to gains mass and strength. As I got older I began exploring kettlebells and other “unconventional’ training tools to help me find new ways to become stronger. The huge carryover to real life, multi directional training that I was able to access with different tools was great. I fell in love with the versatility and convenience of kettlebells and now they are a part of almost everyone of my trainings, everyday.
Without further ado, I present to you The Caveman Athlete Of The Month July, Eric Leija AKA Primal Swoledier.
Name: Eric Leija
Specialty: I specialize in kettlebell training and am known for my full body kettlebell flows and complexes. I am also well versed in steel mace, suspension rings, body weight, and mobility and durability training. I help make people stronger, leaner, more durable and harder to kill.
Weight: 185lbs / 84kg
Height: 5’ 10’’ / 178cm
Personal best: 40 unbroken bodyweight pull ups, deadlift over 500 pounds and run a mile in 5 minutes
“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” – Socrates 469-399 BC
I coach at the Onnit Academy in Austin Texas. I help teach the Onnit Academy Kettlebell specialist certification around the country. I also have a website with online training, programs, and courses to learn how to train like me at EricLeija.com
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What got you into kettlebell or unconventional training?
I got into kettlebells after I spent some time training in BJJ, wrestling, and Muay thai when I was younger. Kettlebells were a staple in strength and conditioning for fighters. I learned through my experience that kettlebells really helped increase my grip and core strength which increased my overall endurance and toughness. Barbells have always been my go to for building strength and muscle mass but kettlebells added an element of strength in different ranges of motion not accessible through conventional tools. The versatility of kettlebells allowed me to build strength in various directions not just linear. I feel this has translated well into being more prepared for the chaos of real time sport and combat.
Have you ever been obese?
I used to be really chubby as a kid. I had low self-esteem because my older brother and sister used to make fun of me all the time and told me I’d never find a girlfriend. Now that I lift kettlebells, I eat every day. Food and women alike are plentiful.
Tell us a bit about your BJJ training?
I have been training since I was 13 and I currently train at 10th Planet Austin at The Onnit Academy.
What is your passion?
I’m passionate about constantly pushing the limits and getting better. I’m always looking to learn new systems, tools, and perspectives that help me expand my knowledge. Coaching others helps me refine my training protocols and helps me learn even more ways to apply a technique or drill by working with various different types of people. The feeling I get from witnessing the growth and gains of my clients is amazing. Watching them crush their goals and becomings stronger, fitter, more confident makes me proud of my work. Their successes and the improvement of people who follow me online who practice my techniques inspire me to keep getting better so that I can keep being of value and service to those who look to me for guidance. It’s a loop of positivity and growth for everyone. As they get better they motivate me to get better to keep helping them reach new heights which lift us all up.
What are your goals?
My goals are to never become complacent and to keep improving and learning new things. I want to stay ahead of getting comfortable. Improving daily keeps me busy, out of trouble, and helps me sleep like a baby at night.
What do you eat for performance?
I try to eat a ton of meat which I try to source from grass fed and ethical farms. I eat a lot of green leafy veggies like spinach, broccoli sprouts, brussel sprouts, asparagus. White rice and potatoes are also a big part of my diet. Whole milk grass fed yogurt and butter. Avocados, raw nuts. I eat most things but I try and stay away from processed foods like sugary cereals, sports drinks, bread, pasta, pastries. I drink tequila on the rocks or with a Topo Chico and lime.
Tell us about the Tred Sled? That thing looks cool as.
We have a self-powered treadmill at the Onnit Academy. Ours is a TechnoGym Skill Mill. I hate it and love it. My clients hate it. It’s great for conditioning. Sprints on them are brutal. I love running outside, the Skill Mill is another beast even when compared to some pretty steep hill sprints. They’re fun to use because you can adjust the resistance speed on them and use them almost as you would a sled–you can low push and pull with them.
If you could give only one top performance tip to a person, what would it be?
My biggest performance tip is to make sure you try to optimize your nutrition and recovery (sleep, bodywork, stretching, mobility) to see the best results. Training to be durable while getting bigger, faster, stronger will help you avoid overuse injury so that you can keep getting better for longer. No more short term investments. Invest in your long-lasting physical performance. Optimize your levels and keep a healthy balance in your lifestyle so you can be at your best for a long time not just right now.
What is your favorite kettlebell exercise and why?
The kettlebell swing if by far my favorite exercise. It is subtle but very effective to help build overall strength and conditioning. All I need is one kettlebell to perform it, although I can also use two, it is one of the most convenient ways to get a quick workout in. It helps build grip, core, and posterior chain strength all in one movement.
What does the 12-minute full-kettlebell-body-blaster look like if we asked you to design it?
12 minutes every minute on the minute ladder, double kettlebell flow and body weight sprawls.
FLOW: Double kettlebell push-up to double clean and squat to press
Perform the prescribed number of reps of double kettlebell flow for every round and finish with bodyweight sprawls for the remainder of the minute and start over on the next minute.
Round 1 – 1 rep of the flow followed by bodyweight sprawls (hips to ground, burpee, up/down, chest to deck) for the remainder of the minute.
Round 2 – 2 reps of flow followed by bodyweight sprawls for the remainder of the minute.
Round 3 – 3 reps of flow and so on up to round 6
Round 7 – start over at round 1 with 1 rep of flow and so on up to round 12 …
Every minute on the minute double kettlebell flow start with 1 rep, add 1 rep every round up to 6 and finish the remainder of the minute with sprawls before starting over with the flow at the start of the next minute. Try to finish set reps before time runs out every minute.
Wanting something more advanced? Complete the workout with the full ladder from 1 to 12 and complete 12 complexes in the 12th round. As always, post your results on our Facebook.
Kettlebells are epic because of their versatility. They can be used to train in various directions which helps develop strength in motion. They are great to help gain strength in areas not easily accessible with other training tools. The possibilities are endless and can be lots of fun because they allow for more creativity when it comes to putting together flows and complexes. Kettlebells are great for gains in grip and core, full-body conditioning, mobility and durability.
Favorite video from your Youtube channel and why?
This is one of my favorite kettlebell flows. It is a full body flow which includes all the good stuff, double kettlebell deadlift, to row, to clean, squat and press. Doing this for multiple reps is a real burner!
What workout on Cavemantraining speaks to you and why?
I really like the Trescientos Caveman Compx Workout, demonstrates how just a few moves are all that’s needed to get a challenging full-body workout.
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- How old is he? How long has been using KB’s? And what’s his training history, as in where/how did he start out?
I’m 24 years old and have been using kettlebells for over 10 years. I started using kettlebells right about when I started training BJJ and Muay thai when I was 13-14 years old. I received my basic training with IKFF under Ken Blackburn. I have since trained directly under John Wolf and Marcus Martinez.
- What is his go-to KB workout/routine?
My go-to is 100 kettlebell swings, 25 snatches each arm, 50 goblet squats. I split it up into 5 rounds. 20 swings, 5 snatches each arm, 10 goblet squats each round.
- How does his philosophy on KB training similar and different from the traditional hard style or sport training.
I believe that kettlebells are a great tool to have in any training program. I don’t believe that kettlebells are the end all be all to getting in the best shape but they can help you get there. Their versatility makes them a valuable piece of equipment. I believe in exploring different movements besides just the basic swing, snatch, jerk etc. The versatility of the shape, size, and weight distribution of the bell allows for huge gains in grip and core strength, conditioning and exploration of adding load to ranges of motion and positions not easily accessible with other tools. I believe in the benefit of flowing and performing full body complexes to maintain excitement and fun in my programs. Helps inspire people to come up with there own combinations to share with the community so we can all keep learning from each other and getting better instead of sticking to the same mundane exercises and routines.
I’ve partnered with Mike Dolce and his team and will be offering diet plans for my clients since our diet and nutrition philosophies are very much in line.
I’ll also be offering custom-tailored programs to achieve your fitness goals and also will include the feature of being able to upload videos of yourself performing the workouts from the custom program I designed so I can coach and critique you and answer any questions.
You also be able to purchase individual workouts, and goal-oriented programs some will be free and others will be for sale and I’ll also have a subscription model as well.
There will be a blog and some other cool things but the highlight of what I’m doing is the members content area and how everything listed above is organized and stored in one place making easy for the customer and my four main products for now.
Check out all other Caveman Athletes of the Month: