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By: Marrin Ellis, Owner, I Am Sports & Fitness

NOTE: This is a 4-page article. Be sure to read all the pages.

Publisher's Note: Personal trainer Marrin Ellis has participated in Faith & Fitness Magazine's Redefined Dallas conference. He has built a solid training business in the DFW area and his passion to do faith-centered fitness is evident. He is committed to the physical and spiritual growth of his clients and to being life to the community he serves.

As a Personal Trainer in the great state of Texas, I have changed my training style to one that I and my clients consider to be “Texas Tough”. My clients usually expect that same old style of fitness training one may see when they go to a box gym anywhere in the world, but when they come to train with me, they are in for a not so rude awakening. Texas style training has many benefits, which we will touch on, but first it is important to know the definition of fitness to see the true overall benefit of this style of training. True fitness is not just about how big your muscles are or what you look like in your bathing suit, it is more about being able to move properly, feeling good inside and out and being ready for anything life will throw your way.

I like Texas Tough training because all the aspects of fitness are built into one package. You not only build lean muscle and drop those unwanted pounds, but you will begin to move better and see an increase in your dynamic flexibility. You will notice your muscles will start to look longer and leaner, you will begin to run faster and become more agile. These areas of improvement are great and will not only aid you now in the short term, but also in the future.

When you are preparing for a good workout, you must start with a great warm-up. I feel this is the most important part to a workout session. My advice is, even though training Texas tough is an intense workout, make sure you have a good sweat going before your start the strength, core and cardio components of this workout.

DYNAMIC WARM-UP DEFINED: A series of sport specific movements that are designed to prepare the muscles for performance and are performed in a safe and controlled fashion.

Focus on doing dynamic warm-ups as not only does it get your heart rate up but it will also prepare you neurological system, muscular system and skeletal system for what your body is about to do. Once you are done with a ten to fifteen-minute warm-up session, it’s time to get started with the workout.

Remember that training this style is all about going one hundred percent, then completely resting during the rest periods. In other words, it’s time to work hard and play hard. Are you up for the challenge? Let’s go!

This article has four sections:

- Introduction and warm-up

- Strength Training

- Core Training

- Cardio Training

Use the numbers below to read all the pages in this article. Proceed to the next page for STRENGTH TRAINING.



Training Texas Tough, incorporates supersets throughout the whole workout.  Supersets equal fat loss and strength gain. When performing supersets, the key is to move from your first exercise directly into your second exercise with very little to no rest. The object here is twofold: 1. You want to tax your energy systems to help build your overall endurance. 2. If you choose an exercise that is working the same movement pattern or muscle groups, it will push you to work to failure, which is something most people don’t want to do. Let’s use chest day for a simple but effective example of this type of training.


1A. Dumbbell Bench-press x 12-15 reps

1B. Plyometric Pushups x 5-8 reps


1A. Pullups x 8-10 reps

1B. Horizontal Pullups x 8-10 reps


1A. Dumbbell Front Goblet Squat x 12-15 reps

1B. Squat Jumps x 10 reps


1A. Standing Dumbbell Military Press x 12-15 reps

1B. Dumbbell Lateral and Front Raise x  10 reps

Again, if you really want this to be Texas Tough, there is no rest between the exercise sets. You will only rest for 30-60 seconds after each superset and repeat. You will be surprised how challenging this is, and you may only be able to repeat this 2-3 times in the beginning. These supersets are tough because just like in Texas, we work hard and rest when we can.

Use the numbers below to read all the pages in this article. Proceed to the next page for CORE TRAINING.



We all know the importance of core training and the benefits it has on the strength and durability of the body overall, but many people do not understand the various ways you can train your core that will challenge almost every muscle group. You would be surprised how many times my core training day will end up being the whole workout. Training your core Texas Tough style is all about dynamic movement while using your muscle to restrict core movement.

Here are some new, yet simple exercises for you to try. I use many of these with my clients and they love them.


You will of course need a partner for these insanely challenging planks. While one person is holding the plank position, your partner will be leaning against your hip and applying resistance for at least 20 seconds of the plank. Once you rest for a few seconds, repeat with the resistance coming from the other side.


Here you will be doing a standard plank with your elbows on the stability ball. Once you have braced yourself, begin with your elbows directly beneath you and start to rotate your elbows clockwise and counter clockwise. Trust me, 5 to 10 repetitions in each direction for 3 to 4 sets will add something great to your core work.


Use the numbers below to read all the pages in this article. Proceed to the next page for CARDIO TRAINING.



I’m going to be honest with you, I am not a big fan of steady state cardio for myself. I know depending on what your individual goals are, it may be great for you but my clientele over the years seem to benefit more from speed, agility and quickness training. Frankly, there aren’t many times when you need to run five miles other than perhaps in an emergency, or simply when you want – especially if you are a distance runner.

In contrast, there are quite a few real life situations that require you to be fast, quick and agile. Here are some of the drills my clients and I do. Most of the time the following drills are done Tabata style (20 seconds of intense work followed by 10 seconds of rest and recovery. This is repeated until you have completed four minutes. If you can, you can repeat that four minutes after a 3-5-minute rest period.)


Here the key is to make sure your knees get high but your heels are also touching or close to touching your glutes. Do this at your highest level of intensity for the full 20 seconds.


Pick two points or place two cones 15 to 20 feet apart on a flat surface. Start at one cone and sprint to the other. You’re going to be running back and forth between the cones, making sure to bend and touch the cones each time for 20 seconds. The goal here is to touch the cones as many times as possible in 20 seconds. After your first set, remember your number of cone touches and try to not fall below or too far below that number for the rest of the shuttle runs. Continue this for the whole four minutes.

As you can see, training Texas Tough is not easy but you will see results. It will bring a good shock to your system and challenge you not only physically but mentally as well.  We do not only train our bodies to feel good, move well and look great, more importantly we are conditioning our bodies to be a living sacrifice to God. Anytime you are going to sacrifice, it’s going to cost you something.

Training Texas Tough will cost you some level of comfort, energy and most of all, it will cost you a great amount of sweat. I know you’re up for the challenge. So take this with you to the gym, box, outside or wherever you workout. Get a few of your friends to join you. Do it, have fun, and shoot some video or take pictures to share with Faith & Fitness Magazine and others. When you’re done – you’re not done. Take some time pray and focus on God. Commit the rest of your day to Him in a BIG way.  That is being Texas Tough!

If you have any questions or would like to get in a training session with Marrin and iAm Sports and Fitness, visit I would love to meet you if you live in the DFW area or plan on coming to visit the area.

This article appears in the Intense Intents section of the Training Department of the June/July 2017 issue of Faith & Fitness Magazine.


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