How To Get Stronger

Death to Dadbod: How to Get Stronger

Danial Hooper Death to Dadbod

“If you want to know how to get stronger, you came to the right place… I think.”

I participated in the Iron Games a few weeks ago.

Was it the greatest experience of my CrossFit career? Yes, yes it was.

Keep in mind, the second greatest experience of my fitness career is Adrian Conway’s Nano hand-me-downs.

I talked about it twice already. Here and here.

If you haven’t read those, take a few extra minutes and make it happen. I met Buddy Lee, for goodness sakes. And the Buttery Bros. Tommy Marquez smiled at my baby. It was super totes cool.

I also PR’d my Clean and Jerk. 225 lbs went up and over my head with great ease. I went for 245, but failed during the jerk after suffering a catastrophic* knee injury.

*Not actually catastrophic.

Is a 245 Clean impressive? For some of us, yes. My brother did something like 600 lbs later down the clean ladder, so 245 was #lightweight for him.

Here’s what’s impressive:

This was the first time in over a year that I lifted a barbell. Since January I have used exclusively 25 lb dumbbells for my fitness. Before that, I had a bulging lump on the hump of my back from a lifetime of improper squatting. This made me look like a handsome Quasimodo who couldn’t exercise and caused a weird issue with my feet where it hurt to walk after 10 steps.

I power cleaned 245 lbs despite not doing a power clean in probably 18 months. 

How did I do it? 

Sidebar: If you came here to learn how to get stronger, you’ve found the best free advice you can find on the internet from someone who doesn’t know what he’s doing.

Here’s my secret: I exercised with great intensity using Outside the Box programming.

Dude. Look how cool this picture is.

How to get stronger


Is the form perfect? Naw. That belongs to Matt Bruce. 

Is the weight super high? Nope. Adrian Conway put on that show.

Still, if you want to know how to get stronger, you came to the right place… I think.

I had my own victory, though. In front of the tens of thousands of spectators watching me lift that elite level weight, I learned something about myself.

Wait. Stop. One quick note.

This blog is going to serve two purposes. First, it’s going to give you some tips on how to get stronger. Specifically geared towards how I got stronger despite not lifting heavy weight… at all. Second, I’m still going to break down Friday’s Outside the Box workout.

Not only am I powerful, but I can multitask.

Tip #1 on How to Get Stronger: Effort is a great divider between you and weakness. 

I’m not a good exerciser. Not especially strong, fast, and I have the endurance of a drunken sloth. Still, when I worked out, I gave my best. My best wasn’t always good. Sometimes it was downright bad. But if it’s what I had, it’s what I gave. When you workout, give what you can. 

Friday’s Workout

Double Under, 1 min

Dumbbell Slam, pick load, 1 min

Double Under, 2 mins

Dumbbell Slam, pick load, 2 mins

Double Under, 3 mins

Dumbbell Slam, pick load, 3 mins

Double Under, 2 mins

Dumbbell Slam, pick load, 2 mins

Double Under, 1 min

Dumbbell Slam, pick load, 1 min


Does this look like a strength workout to you? 

No. Not it doesn’t. Especially when I’m only using a single 25 lb dumbbell. It’s not glamorous, but I’m here.

3…2…1… Go!

1 minute Double Unders

Double Unders are both a skill-based exercise and really good for your engine. I typically have the engine of a lawnmower and a skill of my 14-year-old son using a lawnmower. Still, I rock the double unders because I can jump high. If you’re looking for double under tips, here ya go.

Tip #2 on How to Get Stronger: Consistency fills your cup. We had a deadlift workout a few months ago. It was prescribed to add weight on each set. I think it was sets of 5. Since I only have 25 lb dumbbells, I had to get creative. I decided to increase reps on each set. Start with 4, then to 6, to 8, to 10… the whole way until I couldn’t complete the set unbroken. I made it to my 30s and felt ravaged. You don’t need big weights to lift heavy loads. Instead, be creative.

My first minute of Double Unders are a blast. It’s only a minute, so I’m rushing to try to get as many reps as possible.

33 reps
1 minute Dumbbell Slams

Yikes. I’m picking this up and controlling it down. I don’t really know what to do with my hands. Should my right hand go on top? When do I switch? Would it be better to interlace my fingers? This is something I should have thought about before starting, huh?

20 reps
2 minute Double Unders

I don’t really have a litmus test on how many DUs I should be doing in a minute. Let alone two minutes. My effort was to beat the last set. Which means I can’t mess up.

Obviously, the second I think about messing up, I mess up.

And double obviously, it HURTTTTS. I let out a wendigo screech at the pain and try to keep going.

62 reps.
2 minute Dumbbell Slams

This is where the workout starts to get spicy. I can feel the heat rising in my buttocks and shoulders. It’s a similar sensation as having heartburn, except it’s in your soul too.

I’m trying to convince myself to have a marker at 20 reps per minute. It’s a good thought, but it’s not going to happen. By rep 27, I’m ready to throw my dumbbell into the air and try to headbutt it like a soccer ball. I’d rather have a concussion than get to 40 in 2 minutes.

31 reps
3 minute Double Unders

I’m listening to music. Lizzo, to be exact. Channeling my inner black woman. Yes, it’s there. She’s proud and not afraid to strut. Lizzo is a beautiful human who deserves to be our next President. 

There. I said it.

I’m so caught up in thinking about how hilarious and awesome it would be to have Lizzo as the commander in chief that I’m just powering through reps. No lashings for me. Just smooth. This is how I should have done it.

85 reps.  
3 minute Dumbbell Slams

20 per minute wasn’t realistic. But maybe 15 is?

Ding ding ding. It’s realistic. I hit 15, take a second, hit 15, take a second, hit 15. By “take a second” I mean take several seconds.

45 reps.
2 minute Double Unders

This happens every time in a double under workout. One set is mired by my inability to get started. Once I catch a rhythm, I’m good. (remember, inner black woman). But sometimes I can’t catch a rhythm. So instead, I nearly strangle myself using my excellent RPM jump rope.

I’m trying not to get too frustrated, but I am. 

48 reps.

Tip #3 and Tip # 4 on How to Get Stronger: Spinach, kale, and be ready to fail. 

I’m not an expert on nutrition, but a bad diet is bad for you. Kerosene and Gasoline have similar properties, but one of them definitely can’t be put into your car. You have to put the right stuff in your body. Veggies, lean meats, and water should be added to your daily food intake. 

And then, when you find yourself in the middle of a workout, be willing to fail. Go to failure. You’ll be amazed at what you learn once you break through the point of no return.

Sidebar: when I was 10 years old, my step father found out I had gotten in a fight with a much bigger boy in the neighborhood. His advice? “The best fighter isn’t the biggest, strongest, or most experienced. It’s the one willing to die in order to win.” 

My therapist and I have spent years unpacking that statement. 


2 minute Dumbbell Slams

We’re looking for 15 per minute, again.

And we’re hitting 15 per minute, again.

Consistency over flash.

30 reps.
1 minute Double Under

I shook hands with Buddy Lee at the Iron Games. It happened right after I hit my PR and cleaned 245 lbs. Now, my jump rope skills are middle-notched.  

Here’s something weird: I find it easier to do double unders when I’m tired. Not like 0/10 tired, but 3/10 forces me to dial in and not rely on my insane vertical leap.

50 reps.
1 minute Dumbbell Slams

I’m tired. This workout has gone 18 minutes and I really didn’t have a whole lot going for me after minute 9. I’m usually good for the first round, then I need a 3-4 minute break.

Still, it’s the final countdown and I want to finish strong. My lower back is tight, my legs are smoked, but my gusto wants to be gone for.

If I’m going to all in, I need to solidify one thing…

Tip #5 on How to Get Stronger: Form is form for a reason. If you’re building a chair, you should read a manual. Find the specs. Figure out the correct angles. Otherwise, it might hold when you sit down, but your uncle Butch with three chins and an alchohol problem is gonna break that thing. In this example, you’re always uncle Butch. Your body needs good structure in order to keep it safe, and to build the best version of your strength. If you’re powerful without protection, then you’re just a fancy car that breaks down on the freeway.

22 reps

Total: 426 reps


Interested in learning more about OTB? Check out 10 Free Bodyweight Workouts.

Or hey, why not just sign up? Me and the Outsiders are waiting for ya.

Tune in next week for another Death to Dadbod.

And hey, follow me on Instagram! @Instadanial_

Danial Hooper Editor
Word Wizard/Lead Brewmaster/First Contact Seeker
I’m the family lab rat, if your family is a group of mad scientists. I mask my weaknesses by being funny and telling stories. Basically, I write posts for the blog, type up some emails, help where asked, and cry when Taz makes us run. My novels are available on Amazon. Something’s got to pay my daughters’ dance fees. I have four kids, three cats, and one wife. I love all of them dearly.