Levi Markwardt the Harder to Kill Trainer

Levi Markwardt interview

Learn about Levi Markwardt, the harder to kill trainer, in this in-depth interview.

How did you get into fitness in the first place?

My Dad was my wrestling coach in high school and I started to wrestle in kindergarten. So I wrestled basically from age 4 to 22 (and played football and baseball through high school), so there was some form of fitness in my life through sport. In college I wrestled heavyweight and competed my last three years around 260lb.s Other than the season itself, I didn’t take my fitness serious.

From graduation (in 2000) until the passing of my father in May 2006, I only exercised in spurts and my weight approached 300lb. After college I got certified through the NSCA and started to work part time with junior high and high school athletes and part time at a different gym training adults and working the front desk.

My Dad’s death was the turning point in my personal and professional life regarding fitness.

Until then I didn’t care about my physique, what I ate, how I felt – I was the “do as I say and not as I do” trainer. That guy sucks and isn’t a leader. I wasn’t proud of who I had become and thankfully my Dad’s passing got my attention and lit the necessary fire. Now I can’t imagine my life without exercise, knowing what I’m eating (although sometimes I don’t care) and priding myself as leading by example.

What is your current message to the fitness world?

There are NO quick fixes. You won’t become extraordinary with an ordinary effort (thanks, Ross Enamait).

Our society in now conditioned for easy and fast. That’s not real life. It will never be real life. Results = commitment over time. We need to stop looking for shortcuts and understand results aren’t a light switch. Commit to change if you want to change, and expect it to hurt – mentally and physically. But when we are uncomfortable adaptation occurs. Work to make uncomfortable comfortable.

If you could change one thing about mainstream fitness, what would it be?

I have two – can I have two?

1) All the people in this industry selling dreams and quick fixes. Too many people/companies trying to make a quick buck by telling others what they want to hear. Buy this powder, take this pill, follow this program…

2) The at home DVD exercise in front of your TV programs.

Sometimes they are connected, sometimes not. But I think both can be traps that often focus on the emotional side of health/wellness – the general populace gets caught up in these areas far too much.

What qualifies an average person as being “in shape” in your opinion?

I think an average person that is “fit” or “in shape” is living an active lifestyle that isn’t limited in activities from making poor lifestyle choices. I don’t think you need to have visible abs, for example, but you’re committed to doing both cardiovascular exercise AND resistance training.

If you’re in shape, you’ve got a strength foundation. If you’re in shape, you’re aware of how your body responds to different foods. If you’re in shape you’re making a point to take care of yourself and are physically ready to perform when needed. If you’re in shape your training is giving you far more than it takes from you.

Exercise isn’t “hard” or a “punishment” if you’re in shape – you look forward to it and are thriving in life, not surviving.

What is your overall favorite training implement and why?

Not only is the kettlebell my favorite implement – it’s almost the only thing I personally use. I use the bar for Get Ups and Bent Pressing and I incorporate calisthenics but the kettlebell changed my outlook on training for me and my business. Once I learned how to use the kettlebell efficiently, everything improved.

They are so versatile and can be used in so many ways (e.g. standard, waiter, bottom up, single bell, double bell, etc.). They are easily portable and can be programmed for max strength or strength endurance. I find my junior high and high school athletes can learn to hinge and squat quicker than with a bar alone and they seem to be less intimidating for my inexperienced athletes and clients.

What is your favorite exercise?


I have two answers again: Snatches and Get Ups. I feel these two movements are my biggest “bang for your buck” exercises and I also love to combine them in complexes. If you read Issue #1 of Mad Fit Magazine, I included a few samples involving both in my article about heavy complexes.

If you forced me to just pick one, I’d say the Get Up. Learning the Get Up has saved my shoulders from years of wrestling abuse and helped my thoracic spine and hips so much.

What are some of your personal performance/fitness goals?

I’ve completed Kenneth Jay’s Viking Warrior Conditioning (at least the first part). Eighty sets of 8 reps – or 640 reps in 40:00 with 24kg. It’s 8 reps left arm in 15 seconds, rest 15 seconds.

Then 8 reps right arm in 15 seconds, rest 15 seconds – repeat for 40 minutes. I didn’t continue with the program as I tried to complete it with the 32kg only 7 reps instead of 8. I made it to 32 minutes.

One of the more difficult things I’ve completed is the SSST with the 32kg – or 200 snatches in 10 minutes. That tickled.

Currently I’m more focused on Get Ups, Bent Pressing and the 2-Hand Anyhows (as seen on the cover). I’d love to reach my bodyweight in the Get Up and Bent Press. I’m close (Best efforts: 201lb Get Up and 195lb Bent Press) but oh so far away at the same time.


Levi Markwardt

Levi Markwardt is a Blessed Husband and Father of one beautiful daughter. he is a Lover of fitness and hardstyle Kettlebell instruction. he is an SMK at Strength Matters and RKC at Dragon Door. Learn more at LevisHardertoKillTraining.com

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