Archive for the ‘Circuit Training’ Category
LOL – poor Andy.
On Tuesday, I went up to Thomasville, NC to visit my buddy Andy Hepler of Hepler Strength & Conditioning (http://www.heplerstrength.com, http://davidsoncountypersonaltrainer.com). We hung out for the day talking training, business, and a variety of other things.
At one point in the day, we ended up at a gym/sports performance facility owned by a buddy of his. When we first got there, the Crossfit coach (not Andy’s buddy) was there, and we were introduced. He kinda tried to give me the typical Crossfit spiel. I countered with a simple argument – “Crossfit has a complete and total lack of programming”.
Things just went downhill from there. LOL. I think the guy was a tad butt-hurt by the time I was done talking to him. Oh well.
Soon after, Andy’s buddy showed up and we all shot the shit for a little bit. This was my first time meeting him and he was cool as hell. He’s a former collegiate linebacker and sorta like most of us – what I call a ‘career meathead’.
Andy’s buddy also owns another business that buys and sells training equipment (almost anything you can think of) wholesale. We went over to his warehouse just to look around…I felt like a kid in a candy store.
While looking around, I came across a Football Bar.
Now, if you don’t know what a Football Bar is, it’s a a bar that has several sets of handles. The handles aren’t perpendicular to the bar itself, neither are they parallel to each other. Rather, they’re at an angle. Football Bars are great because they allow you to put your hands at a position that is easy on the wrists and the shoulders.
(There’s a pic of a Football Bar right there.^^)
I’d never seen a Football Bar in person, so you *know* I had to try it out. I slapped a 45 on each side and banged out a few Clean & Presses. Then a few Rows. Then a few Cleans. Then a few more Cleans & Presses.
As Joey Styles might say….Oh. My. GAAWWWWDDDD!!!!!
I was freakin’ hooked on this bar.
I loved just how it changed the movement pattern for Cleans – put a lot more upper back into it, and allows you to snap your hips with a lot more force. It really takes technique out of the movement. Presses were AWESOME. The positioning of the handles puts your wrists at ease, and even better, it forces your elbows to be pointed in front of you throughout the entire Range of Motion – which is *much* more healthy for the shoulder than having them pointed at your sides while pressing.
I could go on for a while – suffice it to say, I really liked this bar.
A few hours later, Andy and I had left, gotten lunch, and were on our way to pick up his daughter from school. We were talking marketing, and how to target specific markets, how to attract customers, whether hyped-up sales copy was ‘cool’, and other such topics of badassery.
At one point, I made the simple comment that “You know, I’m just a simple guy…”
Andy immediately retorts – fairly loudly, I might add – “I know you are – I had to listen to you talk about that damn Football Bar for 45 FUCKING MINUTES!!!”
Luckily for me, Andy is patient and never gave me the proper STFU I probably needed. LOL.
LMAO – what can I say? I was really impressed with the Football Bar. In fact, I told Andy I could probably develop any program for any goal and never need more than a Football Bar, a Trap Bar, plates, a station for doing chins and dips, and a T-Handle you could load to do swings with about 10 square feet of space. Wanna get fancy? Add some adjustable DB handles and weight plates and maybe an adjustable bench. Wanna really get sophisticated? Add a Prowler.
Tell me – is there anything you couldn’t do with just that stuff? Nope.
In fact, speaking personally, I’ve probably done 99.9% of my own personal workouts with nothing more than adjustable DBs, a medicine ball, a pair of KBs, bodyweight calisthenics, roardwork, and hill sprints for nearly 3 years.
What’s my point?
My point is this – too many people in the fitness industry are trying to over-complicate things and make them out to be more than they really are. You don’t have to be unnecessarily complicated. All you need to do are use basic principles and work your ass off.
Yeah…doesn’t sound real sexy, does it? Too bad – because that’s what works.
Take my own programs – do they work because of some sort of crazy formulas or complicated algorithms or insanely tweaked exercise progression? No way. They work because they apply basic principles in a certain way to achieve certain results.
For example, take the Championship Edition 2.0 MMA Workout. That takes principles of building strength and aerobic capacity, then concentrates on converting that strength to power, then adds in anaerobic conditioning, then uses a smart blend of the two (power and anaerobic conditioning) to simulate the conditioning needs of a professional MMA fight. Nothing overly complicated or ultra-complex exercises. Hell, you don’t even need fancy equipment – you can do the whole thing in your high school weight room.
But it works, because it’s simple.
Take Working Class Cardio. Many of y’all know the drill here – have great cardio without ever doing cardio. Utilize compound movements with explosive athletic exercises using relatively heavy weight, with moderate to high volume. Circuit the exercises together to give localized areas of your body rest, while the heart and lungs work like mofos the entire time.
Use DBs, a medicine ball, and bodyweight calisthenics only to make the workouts easy to perform in any location you want, as well as do many of the movements one limb at a time, which makes you do more work overall (making your heart and lungs work more) while giving your lower body more work and conditioning.
Again – simple concepts applied with a lot of intensity.
(You can see more about Working Class Cardio here.)
Or maybe think about Body Armor. The key to Body Armor is one simple set and rep scheme used with 4 main compound movements. You work at a weight heavy enough to develop strength, but not so heavy you can’t move fast. You move fast enough to develop power, but it’s not so light you won’t get stronger. And you have just enough volume to trigger muscle building, but not so much you can’t concentrate on strength or power. Upper body assistance is centered around strength work and getting bigger. Lower body assistance is centered around power and conditioning.
(You can see more about Body Armor here.)
Is there anything here that’s overly complicated?
These programs all work because they’re simple. I *routinely* get emails from people telling me that they are surprised there’s not more ‘to’ some of my programs, but when they actually do them, they can’t believe how effective they are. They love feeling like they’ve worked their ass off, but not to the point of injury or burnout. They love feeling like they’re hitting a new PR each time they train.
And this is all because the workouts are…well…simple.
And that’s exactly why they’re so damn effective.
Is your training effective? If not, maybe you should simplify.
Have a kickass weekend.
Posted in Cardio, Character/Motivation, Circuit Training, Fat Loss, MMA, Muscle Building, Strength Training | No Comments »
Ok, so it’s been a little while since I’ve done a blog post…actually just came back from a kickass week-long family vacation to the beach at the Outer Banks.
We didn’t do much – just kinda hung around and unwound. The kids were in the pool all the time. My boy and I went cruising once. Oh, and we did go rent Jet Skis. Holy cow, that’s more fun any one person should be allowed to have.
But there was one thing that I *did* make a conscious effort to do while I was there:
Keep getting workouts in.
See, I knew we were gonna be there for a week, and I knew we were gonna be having some good, big family meals, going out to eat, and that kinda thing. While I wanted to have fun, I also didn’t wanna totally drop out off the earth as far as workouts go, nor did I wanna spend a week going backwards.
The question was how was I going to get my workouts in, and what was I going to do?
I knew I could get some swimming in since I was gonna be in the pool so much with the kids. But since I was gonna be in the pool so much with the kids, I knew I wasn’t gonna be doing a whole lot of actual swimming. (However, ‘Extreme Marco Polo’ was a helluva workout. It’s kinda like Marco Polo meets Dodge Ball. BEST. GAME. EVER!)
I knew the area we were staying in had a little gym at the clubhouse (where all the tennis courts and such were), but many times those things aren’t that great, so I didn’t wanna rely on that. (Good thing, the weight room kinda left something to be desired…it did have a C2 rower though. Love those things.)
So, I just planned ahead and brought my kettlebells. And since I wasn’t sure exactly how many workouts I was gonna do, I just decided to pick a program that if I only did a few workouts from it, it’d still work well.
We stayed at a pretty big house – 3 stories. In the very front, there was a sort of concrete-tiled slab under the porch that led up to the main entrance.
PERFECT for my workouts.
On Monday, I did Day 1 of the Minimalistic Blast. I went and used the C2 rower on Tuesday, took Wednesday off, then hit Days 2 and 3 on Thursday and Friday.
The awesome thing about this workout was literally, all I needed was a couple kettlebells. (For those of you that didn’t know, the “4-Week Minimalistic Blast” has 4 different templates – you can do workouts using:
This was perfect for me. I didn’t have to worry about not having a place to train. I didn’t have skip my workouts. And it was super-easy to just toss a couple KBs in the back of the vehicle and go on.
(Of course, some of the fam did think I was a little crazy – “Dude, you’re working out? We’re on VACATION!”)
But that’s what’s so awesome about the “4-Week Minimalistic Blast”. You can literally do it almost anywhere, using almost anything. Each workout is only 3 exercises, and is a total, full-body workout. You’re getting strength work *AND* intense conditioning, not to mention you’re rotating it all each workout (what you did for strength work before, you’re doing for conditioning now, and vice versa).
If you’re super-hardcore, you can add a simple – but not easy – fourth exercise to the mix as your ‘finisher’. I did this…and it smoked me.
My workouts were short (none of them took total over 45 mins if I remember correctly), and I did them in the morning before it got too hot out. That way, I had my work done for the day and I could concentrate the rest of the day on having fun.
But the important part was that I still found a way to get the workouts in and still keep getting better – even when I was focusing on having fun.
Listen – the “4-Week Minimalistic Blast” just let me get massively kick-ass workouts in while I was on VACATION at the beach. And with the four different templates, you can do those workouts pretty much anywhere you want. Each is only 3 exercises (4 if you do the ‘finisher’). And unlike other programs that are just ‘thrown together’ to make them ‘really hard’, these workouts have a logical order and progression to them. It’s not haphazard by any means.
So that’s why I chose to do them while out, and will finish out the 4-weeks on the program.
My buddy Matt Bonafede (I’ve talked about him and his brother Aaron before) sent me an email not long ago after he and his brother Aaron had finally dove into the “4-Week Minimalistic Blast”:
“So Aaron and I just finished the first week of the Minimalistic Blast, that is one hard workout. The conditioning section has to be one of the worst things we have done in a long while. We both used 115 and it is pretty much non stop for the whole 20 min. Gotta love testing yourself.”
Since I had such an awesome time with the workouts while on vacation, I have decided to put the “4-Week Minimalistic Blast” back on sale for this week, and this week only. You can get it now, but only until Friday night at midnight. After that…well…bye bye for a while.
Remember, you get the 4 different templates names above, printable workout logs, a video FAQ, and other cool stuff as well. You can even mix and match the programs, there are additional extra days you can add in that I show you how to use…I mean, this is really one kickass set of workouts.
You really should go get yours while you can.
Posted in Cardio, Character/Motivation, Circuit Training, Fat Loss, Muscle Building, Strength Training | No Comments »
I’ve been asked a time or two where I got the inspiration to create Working Class Cardio. And believe it or not, the answer might surprise you.
Like many other career meatheads, while I’m interested mainly in developing programs that target performance (getting stronger, faster, have better conditioning), I certainly have a base in bodybuilding-style training, and still hold many who do it in high regard – esp guys from years back.
Everybody knows Arnold, Franco, and Louie, but and the physical culture guys like to talk about Saxon, Inch, and Sandow, but there are many others that I was a fan of, even if they were before my time. Guys like Sergio Oliva, Chris Dickerson, Frank Zane, Freddy Ortiz, Marvin Eder, Ed Corney, Robby Robinson, and more.
And while Joe Weider might have dubbed himself the “trainer of champions”, that rightful owner of that title should be the legendary Vince Gironda. Very few guys brought about changes in the physique world like Gironda did. If you don’t know much about Vince, you owe it to yourself to read up on him.
Anyway, Vince was known creating crazy versions of exercises and wild programs in order to illicit particular responses in ones physique. One of the crazy things that Gironda came up with were his 8×8 workouts.
Now, there have been a few different versions of these types of programs over the years. Gironda himself used 8×8 and 6×6, and you’ve likely seen the 10×10 programs of German Volume Training. The way Gironda applied them was actually a bit different.
Vince would have his bodybuilders doing 8 sets of 8 with a moderate weight in a very smooth motion. They would never go to full extension/lockout, nor would they really ever hold a contraction – the goal was constant movement. However, that wasn’t the hardest part.
Gironda reduced rest periods to an absolute minimum – as low as 20 seconds between sets.
See, Vince knew that bodybuilders did cardio to lower bodyfat levels as much as possible before a contest. However, he knew that too much cardio (along with the strict dieting that came with contest preparation) could also lead to muscle loss. So, he combined a protocol that meant maximum time under tension and super-low rest periods.
The result was his bodybuilders showing up to shows in fantastic condition – usually with the lowest bodyfat of anybody on stage. And all with doing minimal cardio.
What does this have to do with me and Working Class Cardio?
Well, quite a while back, I was looking for a program that would be quick, efficient, and accomplish a variety of goals at the same time. I knew that something like Vince Gironda’s 8×8 could do the job. So, I started experimenting with it.
Firstly, I changed the types of exercises being used, as I was more worried about performance. So while Gironda used exercises that targeted aesthetics as the main goal, I picked exercises that were more athletic in nature (clean & presses, DB snatches, swings, jumps, etc). And the first time I did a workout…HOLY COW…
…it kicked my ass.
I knew I could make this work. But the problem I had was that while the conditioning element was off the charts, in order to maintain form and keep rest periods short, I was radically dropping the weights…to the point that I knew strength and power (explosiveness) would suffer long-term.
Then it hit me.
I was doing 4 exercises per workout, each one in an 8×8 format. (They wouldn’t all necessarily be 8×8…maybe 8×6, or 6×6, or 7×7 – I experimented a bit.) So I thought:
“What if instead of doing all my sets of an exercise in a row, then going onto the next exercise, I would rotate through all four exercises, circuit-style? So, I could do a set of exercise 1, rest 20 seconds, a set of exercise 2, rest 20 seconds, a set of exercise 3, rest 20 seconds…”
You get the idea.
This would let me still do this style of workout, but let individual muscles rest locally, while other ones worked. That way, I could still keep weights heavy instead of having to drop them too much, *and* keep rest periods short for conditioning.
I tried it my very next workout and knew I was onto something.
Fast forward quite a while and a bit of testing and tweaking later, and Working Class Cardio was born.
And in case you’re wondering if Working Class Cardio is the ‘real deal’, then go READ HERE to find out about how Eric lost 61+ pounds, READ HERE to see how Aaron lost over 30 pounds (and see his pics), and READ HERE to see how Don dropped 45 pounds and 8 inches off his waist.
As Fonzie might say….Whoa.
Listen, do yourself a favor, and pick up a copy of the workout that is whipping people into shape left and right…you’ll be shocked how quickly you get into shape.
Oh – and did I mention, you don’t even need to go to a gym to do this program? Do it in your living room if you want.
How can you lose?
Have a kickass weekend.
Posted in Cardio, Circuit Training, Fat Loss, Muscle Building, Strength Training | 1 Comment »
It may sound cliche, but it’s amazing what you hear when you stop to listen.
Let me explain.
A few weeks ago, after an entirely too long hiatus, I re-introduced night runs back into my workouts. I’ve always loved night runs – be it roadwork (which is what has comprised most of my night runs over the years) or hill sprints. I’ve caught a lot of crap about it and how ‘dangerous’ it is running at night. I’ve had buddies, family, ex-girlfriends (they were the worst) all tell me how crazy I am for running at night.
Personally, I totally dig it. In fact, I think it’s much safer than running during the day. I like music when I run (more on that in a minute), so if I run during the day, I have to be on a constant lookout for cars and such. Your head has to be on a swivel at all times.
At night, though, all you have to do is watch out for headlights. You see them way up ahead and you see them coming behind you. When you see them, you GTFO the way. The car passes, and there you go. And if you run in low-traffic neighborhoods or areas like I do, there isn’t that much to deal with. I can plug into my .mp3 player and get lost in my running.
In fact, I think I’ve put more miles on Creed’s ‘Torn’ than I did the last pair of front tires I put on my Mustang…lol.
Oh, my precious .mp3 player. If you know me, you know how big of a part of my life music is. I listen to anything and everything, and music is playing at almost all times in my vicinity. You could tell me that I could never watch TV again, and it might suck, but would be no big deal. Tell me I couldn’t ever listen to music again, and my world would crash.
So you can imagine the heartache and pain I felt when my .mp3 player died 3 days ago. Dead. Done. Not Working. Kaput. Gone and never to return.
It was tough – I’ve had that thing for going on 5-6 years. It’s been to Iraq with me several times, on several road trips, the motivation behind countless workouts and more. We had a good run together.
(For those that are in the local North Carolina area, I will be holding a small memorial service this weekend as I bury my beloved .mp3 in the backyard.)
Couple that with my external hard-drive dying 2 weeks ago, and I have effectively lost almost all my music. I have not been a pleasant man to deal with lately. Luckily for me, there is yahoo radio, youtube, and my favorite classic rock station out of Myrtle Beach streams online.
But back to night runs…
Some of you that are long-time readers and friends of mine will remember that a number of years ago, I wrote an article for MMA Weekly called “Poor Guys Run”. The article wasn’t about wealth, social status, how much money you had in your pocket, or what equipment you had available to you. Rather, it was about an attitude – a frame of mind.
If you’ve never read the original “Poor Guys Run”, you can read it by CLICKING HERE.
Little did I know that same frame of mind would come back as a sort of aura of hard work tonight.
I set out for tonight’s night run, given the recent demise of my .mp3 player and lack of music, in silence. As I my feet pounded the pavement, all there was to really hear was my own heavy breathing, the sounds of cars up and down a near highway, birds squawking their night-time noises in the trees, and the neighborhood dogs barking.
(Evidently, they don’t like it when Wiggy runs at night, either. ;-))
As I run through my neighborhood, I make it around the first gentle sloping curve – just a few houses down from mine. There are 5 kids (3 boys, 2 girls) in the driveway. They all look to be in their early 20s as I trot on by. They’re piling into a convertible – I didn’t pay attention to what it was. Something old – like a late ’80s or early ’90s Chrysler LeBaron or something.
Obviously, tonight is ‘party night’.
I truck on past, not paying them much attention. As I do, they all get kinda quiet. Just as I pass them, they resume their laughing and joking. As I trot out of earshot, I hear one of the guys say “Why is that asshole running? Doesn’t he know it’s dollar night at…” and mentions a local bar.
I shrug it off and keep on going.
About a half a mile or so later, I hit an intersection and hang a left. As I do, I hear and old lady on her front porch. I make a quick glance off to the left as I didn’t know anybody was there – it was dark under the cover of no real streetlights in the area, nor porch-lights on. All I see is the glowing ember out of the corner of my eye as she takes a drag on her cigarette.
“Doesn’t he know it’s too HOT out here tonight to be doing that running mess?”
I hear somebody with her, full of just as much attitude – “MMMMM HMMMM!”
When did this turn into “Talk shit about Wiggy” night? No matter – I keep running.
After about another 1.5 miles or so, I’m getting somewhat close to my house. Our neighborhood is really just a giant loop that stretches roughly 2.2 miles or so. Add in several off-shooting cul de sacs, crossroads, and re-tracing the way you came, and you have a pretty fair amount of running you can do.
I’m approaching an intersection that’s roughly a quarter mile from my house – a corner with a stop sign and a big streetlight. And in the distance, what do I see? It’s the kids in their convertible, stalled in the middle of the road. Evidently, that LeBaron had other ideas about going out tonight.
It being fairly quiet, and them being fairly loud and obnoxious, I can hear them all arguing from quite a distance off. The girls are pissed because the car has gone out on them and ruined their evening, saying something about “you’d better get this car going” or something like that.
As I get closer, I can see that the 3 guys (they probably weigh an average of 140 lbs each) are trying to push the car out of the intersection, and given that the direction they’re going is slightly uphill, they’re having no luck. I actually start to laugh to myself as I run up behind them, seeing these three guys having trouble pushing this car out of the road, their girlfriends (or whatever they were) watching them and talking shit the whole time.
Now, I should have just run past them, but I’ve had car trouble and been lucky enough to had people to stop to help me, so I figure it was my turn to ‘give back’.
As I run up behind them, the three dudes all turn to look at me (one is at the driver’s door, manning the steering wheel, the other two behind the car), only to look away as I run up to the car as they push…the car not moving.
I put both hands on the trunk, dig in with both feet, and start pushing. The car not only starts moving, but starts going so quickly toward the side of the road that the guy at the steering wheel had to jump in and hit the brakes so the car wouldn’t go down into a ditch.
As he does, everybody is quiet (especially the girls) and sort of looks stunned.
I peel away, and get back to my run. As I do, I turn, trotting backward, and yell to them:
“THAT IS WHY I RUN!!”
Have a kickass weekend.
Posted in Cardio, Character/Motivation, Circuit Training, Muscle Building, Strength Training | 7 Comments »
If you read my last rant on the Tabata protocol, you’ll know one of the reasons that I’m not a fan of it is that I think most people aren’t in good enough shape in order to actually do it correctly. (If you missed the rant, you can read it HERE, but be warned – it’s NSFW.)
Along those same lines, I’ve gotten into a few email conversations with people about how I design my programs, and them wondering why I don’t used more advanced tactics in my workouts. About the most complicated I get is with supersetting exercises, and/or complex training. I even use percentages in the original Body Armor. But outside of that, there’s not much that’s overly advanced. You won’t see my programs with bands, chains, mind-numbing percentage charts, complicated rest-break scenarios, or anything else like that.
Now, that’s not to say that this stuff doesn’t work – because when done correctly, it most assuredly does.
That’s also not to say that my programs are easy or for the non-trained noob. While they work well for the inexperienced, my programs, while simple (not easy – learn the difference between the two), are the kind that work for trainees of almost any capability, as the harder you work at them, the better results you get.
Take the set/rep/percentage scheme I mentioned that was part of the original Body Armor. If you can bench 200 lbs, you’re going to get very good benefit out of it. If you can bench 350, you’re going to get the same kinda benefit – only more of it.
Same goes with something like Working Class Cardio. Just getting through the workouts using moderate weight and taking short mini-rests between exercises, it’s one thing. But if you’re doing the workouts with say 80+ lbs dumbbells and barely resting 60 secs between circuits (no mini-rests at all during), then your increased input into the program is gonna result in seriously increased output (gains).
See how that works?
BUT, that ends up begging that one main question be asked – why is more complicated stuff never used?
(This is the point that I have to channel my inner Jack Nicholson…)
The truth of the matter is…that…YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!
Here’s what most people don’t wanna admit to themselves – they are not in remotely good enough shape to take on any kinda ‘advanced’ training protocol, let alone make that protocol effective.
Going back to Tabata for a minute…
If you go back to my blog post and read the info on the original Tabata study, you’ll note that it was conducted on fairly high-level, experience, well-trained athletes. In other words, these peeps were in really good shape from the get-go. The whole reason why Tabata’s intervals worked so well for them was because they *were* in such good shape already. They had the capacity to be able to work their asses off, and put sufficient work and effort into the protocol in the first place.
If you’re not in good shape from the beginning, you won’t be able to illicit the same kinda results, simply because you’re not capable of putting the right kind of work in.
Remember the Tabata stats – the study’s participants were working at 170% of their current VO2 max. Do you have any idea how hard it is to even do something like that? Fact of the matter is that most regular folks aren’t in the physical condition to perform at that level, nor do they have the mental toughness to push themselves to that level.
And most regular folks just aren’t at that level. Sorry.
Let’s use an analogy.
As many of you know, I’m a car guy. I’m also into motorcycles (though not as much). The sport bikes you can buy off the showroom floor just astound me – dollar for dollar, the kind of performance you can buy stock on a many sport bikes is just crazy. These bikes have INSANE capabilities – IF they’re ridden by somebody that knows what the hell they’re doing.
I guarantee you that most people riding sport bikes on the street today will never fully realize the true potential of the bikes they ride. Why? Because they’re not good enough at riding. In fact, it’s my contention that most people who ride have bikes that are too big and have too much power for their current abilities. They don’t respect what the bike has to offer, and instead of putting in the time to be a better and more skilled rider, they simply just go out and buy a better bike. When the reality is that in anything but a very long straight line, a skilled rider on a 750 will run off and leave most guys on their 1000s.
The same goes with workouts.
It’s not that these advanced methods don’t work – they’ve proven that they do time and time again. However, most of the people that do them have no reason to be, as they should be spending their time and effort on programs that were based more on basic principles (like mine are), and taking those to the fullest.
Don’t look to try out something more difficult and ‘advanced’, when you have maximized what you’re doing yet.
Have a kickass weekend.
Posted in Cardio, Character/Motivation, Circuit Training, Muscle Building, Strength Training | 1 Comment »