Relentless Podcast

Keith Norris: Exercise Efficiently, Embrace the Suck, and Expand Your Mind

It’s time for episode four of the Relentless: Real People, Real Results, Real World podcast!  (Scroll to the bottom for all listening options.)

Podcast Description:

A deep dive into how real people get real results in the real world. Relentless mixes stories to provide context and the actions you can take right now in both short-format episodes and long-format interviews. Get ready to tackle anything from your morning cup of coffee to your exercise and nutrition regimens to building a million dollar business.

Keith Norris: 

In this episode I welcome in Keith Norris, a real life Incredible Hulk, former football player, current Efficient Exercise and ARX equipment rockstar, Paleo FX conference co-creator, ID Life investor, blogger, and unfortunate Dallas Cowboys’ fan. Here’s the rundown:

  • Drawing inspiration from the drive and initiative of his wife, Michelle Norris.
  • Podcasting fasted with a double strength black coffee in hand.
  • Loving the Jura Impressa espresso machine.
  • Re-entering the workout rap scene courtesy of Bo Alexander.
  • Last 2 Workouts: Sprints (lower body) and next day landmine rows and dips (upper body).
  • Snap Out of a Funk: Embrace the Pomodoro technique (breaking work down into small intervals and determining your optimal work/rest ratio). “It does really enhance one’s productivity and output.”
  • Learning the most from a Paleo FX panel on shamanism – specifically plant medicines and Ayahuasca – and leveraging the conference’s lifestyle component.
  • “If your spiritual alignment is out of whack – and you can define spiritual anyway you want to, this isn’t a religious doctrine – whatever your North Star is, if you’re not aligned with that, everything else isn’t optimized.”
  • Having a longstanding love for Johnny Manziel and the Dallas Cowboys.
  • Professionally Helpful Book: Triphasic Training by Cal Dietz. “He is so far beyond everyone else in the Strength & Conditioning community right now.  He’s kind of the Robb Wolf of the S&C community right now.”
  • #1 Dietz takeaway = Eccentric repetitions.  #2 = Turnaround speed.
  • Relaxation Oriented Book: Tao Te Ching.
  • Looking ahead to an Ayahuasca retreat and being prepared and open to fantastic insight. “I’m apprehensive, yes, but I’m really looking forward to it.”
  • “As you get older you realize – and I’ve done a ton of reading and talking with close friends – that certain plant medicines and certain drugs can give you insight into optimized self. It can help you clear blockages and see things as they are – not how you have colored them. Because all of us see life through our pre-made prism. My hope is always to find truth, not what I think to be true but what is actually factual. And this could be with mundane things, this could be with strength and conditioning practices. What actually works? What actually helps people? That is really what I’m looking for. Clarity and the ability to perceive the world as it is and not how it’s coming to me funneled through my preconceived conditions.”
  • Being a lifelong athlete, starting as a hyper-competitive kid surrounded by the best coaches in AAU track and field.
  • Maturing, experiencing a physical change, and having to transition to football, ultimately at Texas State.
  • Spending 9 years in the military and diving headlong into the pharmaceutical industry. “I thought I was doing the world a huge service by being in what I thought was a helping profession.”
  • Balancing the “ugly underbelly” of pharmaceuticals with the positive side of creating life changing drugs.
  • Alongside Michelle ditching life as they knew it at the worst economic time – “we took a bath on the house” – and moving to Texas. “Family and friends were going – have you lost your minds?”
  • Experiencing personal tragedy and asking “What’s the absolute worst case? Is potential bankruptcy that big a deal compared to the death of a daughter? No, it pales in comparison. If we look back on that, yes Brittani’s death was devastating to both of us, but we try to spin it into a positive and say that her death has inspired us to do some pretty ballsy things. People have been like ‘you’re completely nuts and there’s no way this is going to work’. But we’ve forged through and we’ve done it. And really we’ve been able to do it with the strength of Brittani behind us.
  • The rough early days of Paleo FX: “All of that hard work for the benefit of going into debt. It was a tough road.”
  • Balancing stable, linear progressions of the ARX equipment and Efficient Exercise businesses with the groundbreaking, volatile nature of Paleo FX. “You want to get a PHD in entrepreneurship? Paleo FX is it.”
  • Allowing Paleo FX to be its own entity. “It’s like raising a child. You can raise a child within certain parameters, but at the end of the day you have to let the child be who he’s going to be…If we’re smart about it we get out of its way and let it be what it’s going to be.”
  • Learning from the Ancestral Health Symposium and bringing the science to a more accessible platform for the layperson.
  • Going from expecting 50-100 people at an Efficient Exercise location and later renting out the Texas University football stadium. No other venue in the city was available and held their capacity.
  • Having Robb Wolf on board as the first speaker and leveraging that to attract others.
  • “In our infinite brilliance at the time we decided to do it during SXSW, a massive music and interactive festival which just shuts the city down. People are flooding into Austin anyway, so why not just have another conference? Which was the worst business decision we have made to date…Paleo FX has survived in spite of our follies.”
  • Why have a conference in Austin, Texas? It’s ground zero for the Paleo movement.
  • Advice for Tough Times: Hold strong to your vision.
  • “One thing that has never wavered for Michelle and myself has been the overall vision of what this thing should look like. We have the vision and we feel this pull to be able to do something good for society. At the end of the day, is PaleoFX a money making business now? Yes it is. Now that it is a money making business we can parlay that profit into making it a larger bullhorn to spread this word. And that’s exactly what we want – we want a large bullhorn because we believe in the power of what Paleo can do for people.
  • The necessity of an education process to take what we know works and spread it.
  • Revisiting a discussion from the Summer of 2010.
  • “The truth of the matter is that I could have realized my athletic potential – and there is no exaggeration implied here – by performing a fraction of the training that I actually endured.  In fact, I would argue that I would have been a much better athlete then if I would have trained under the principles that I know today to be true.  That, for me, took many years of self-reflection, chipping-away and letting go to fully realize.”
  • Coaching football and making a difference in kids lives by relating to them and reigning them in.
  • Workout addictions and training to run away from something, not to become better at a sport.
  • Two types of adult overtrainers: those who believe they are doing better and those who use it as a physical/mental drug.
  • “I’m not a trained shrink, but I can also help the other people start to understand that exercise can be a drug like any other if you are trying to mask something else that is going on in your life.”
  • “If you want a degree in psychology – Masters or PHD – I would suggest [personal] training or bartending.”
  • “I don’t know exactly what it is, but there’s just something brutally effective about a hard lift set, followed immediately by a sprint.  We did versions of this theme back in my college days, but Dan John is the only person I know who has actually written anything about, what he calls (and what I now have come to call), the Litvinov workout.  Here for instance, is what I did today: – 20 fast-as-possible (yet with good form) front squats with an 11’ by 4” diameter slosh pipe, then, immediately following that – a 40 second sprint for distance recover just long enough to get your lungs, spleen and pancreas back in their right place, and hit it again.  I did 4 rounds of these today in about 15 minutes.  Did I do anything else?  Yeah, right.  Hit it hard, and go home.  Hey, I like hanging with the guys and the gals and talkin’ smack at the gym, too – just not when I’m actually working out.  Know the difference, and don’t mix business with pleasure.
  • A week in the life of an “average” person looking to improve: (1) Walk everyday. “I tell my clients that you cannot walk too much.” (2) Every other day: one of or a combination of deadlift, dip, sprint.
  • Formula: push + pull + drive + walk.
  • Not necessitating a Fitbit: “Just walk as much as you can.
  • Jogging does not beat walking. Walking is effective no matter how advanced you are. Dorian Yates – a legendary bodybuilder – walked miles after every workout to control his bodyfat levels. “Did he jog? No. He walked.”
  • Still working on top-end sprint speed to this day.
  • ARX equipment and recently entering the large scale manufacturing process (versus building them one-off in the past). This eliminates inconsistencies and ultimately brings cost down.
  • “The people who have bought into [the ARX] the quickest and the most have been physical therapists and the entrepreneur community.”
  • Using tangible data to appeal to the entrepreneur community. Knowing instantaneously what your force output is at any point in a motion.
  • The benefits of autoregulation (“go with the flow”) versus linear periodization (“I’m bench pressing x weight in y sets because it’s on my Excel spreadsheet…life doesn’t work that way.”)
  • Great trainers knowing how to lessen the demand on clients when they come into a workout fatigued.
  • Simplifying lifting in the moment – “you need to do your motion and not think” – then coming back, deconstructing, and fine tuning. Unless there is an unsafe lift being performed.
  • “The human reaction to change is fascinating to me, in that it can be absolutely debilitating to people.  There have been studies done which show that, even if the proposed change is highly likely to affect a positive outcome with very little in the way of potential risk, people will still prefer to maintain the status quo – even if they consider that status quo to be quite miserable.  How is that?  It’s the old “devil you know vs angel you don’t” mentality; quite simply, change scares the hell out of people.”
  • “You have to embrace the uncomfortableness. Embrace “the suck”.
  • Discerning what triggers work for what people: “Everybody has different triggers, and the tricky thing about being a trainer is that the trigger that may work for person A may turn person B off.”
  • Using vanity goals to help people ditch sugar.
  • Getting involved with a supplement company – ID Life. “Where is a supplement’s position within the overall diet? It’s exactly that – it’s a supplement. It’s not meant to take the place of an otherwise crappy diet. It’s not. So we always push for let’s get the diet straightened out, and then let’s supplement to go from good to great.”
  • Why supplements are equivalent to “curls for the girls”.
  • Our society dealing with higher toxin levels than ever before.
  • How to work with your wife. “You have to both realize that your vision is the same.”
  • Preferred Vice: Beer of choice is “the thicker the better”. Pick of the moment is Modelo, Dos Equis, Tecate for summertime and temperature. Guinness for winter.


KEITH’S Relentless Action: 
Do something. “Take a swing, get in the batter’s box, and take a crack at whatever you’re passionate about…Nothing is going to happen unless there is forward momentum…Knowledge is not power. Knowledge is just knowledge. Action is power.” Don’t be the coulda, shoulda, woulda guy and treat failures as feedback.

Follow Keith:

A Favor: If you like what you hear on these episodes, please help me out by subscribing to, rating, and/or reviewing the podcast on iTunes.  Thanks for your support!


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