Archive for the ‘Muscle Building’ Category
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 »
Ok gang – I haven’t ranted in quite a while. Guess it’s time I fixed that.
This one is gonna be ugly, because I’m seeing this more and more. And the more and more I see it, the more and more it pisses me the hell off. So I’m not gonna hold anything back.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
In a nutshell, it goes like this:
I am completely fucking tired of these dipshit trainers whose only purpose in life is to see how hard of a workout they can pull out their ass (since they evidently know fuck all about actual exercise progression or workout programming). And their de facto ‘go to’ method is to take anything and everything they do and throw it into the Tabata protocol.
In case you’re not familiar with the Tabata protocol, you can google it for more detailed info, but the cliff notes version goes like this:
Tabata was a Japanese researcher. In tests involving speed skaters, he experimented with different interval training protocols to improve his test subjects’ VO2 max. Using mechanically braked cycle ergometers (i.e. – exercise bikes), he found that having them do 8 rounds of 20 seconds work followed by 10 seconds of rest (for a total of just 4 minutes) for 6 weeks resulted in a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity and a 14% increase in VO2 max. Additionally, the test subjects also experienced moderate increases in aerobic capacity as well. It’s worth mentioning that these were all highly trained athletes, so it’s not like Tabata was just training a bunch of out of shape noobs.
Now, you’ve probably heard much of this before. After all, the Tabata research has been the major basis for interval training becoming popularized in recent years.
My problem is not with Tabata intervals whatsoever. The results speak for themselves and Tabata’s 8 x 20/10 protocol has proven itself plenty of times to be very effective.
My problem is with these fuckwad trainers who have absolutely bastardized the protocol and use it in ways and on exercises it was never intended.
First of all, there’s nothing magic about 8 rounds of 20 seconds work + 10 seconds of rest. It’s just a set of intervals. Just because you start doing your conditioning according to this time frame, that doesn’t mean you’re gonna turn into some sorta cardio machine. So if you think you can take the cardio you’re doing now, and just start doing it in 8 x 20/10, you’re just wrong.
See, there is something that most trainers neglect to tell you when they talk about the Tabata protocol – the speed skaters in Tabata’s original study were working at 170% of their VO2 max. That means that when they did their intervals, they were going at absolutely INSANE intensity. When I say insane, I mean nuts. When I say nuts, I mean balls to the wall. When I say balls to the wall, I mean there was virtually no fucking possible way they could work any harder.
Tell me – when was the last time you saw somebody doing Tabata intervals as if their life fucking depended on it? Yeah – hardly ever. Trainers put people on the Tabata protocol, but don’t make them do it with the appropriate intensity. So you know what fucking happens?
You’ve got some poor schmuck who doesn’t know any better, out there working at a mediocre, half-ass, “I think I’m working hard” pace for 4 fucking minutes. And he wonders why he’s not getting any better.
Here’s something else most people don’t realize – Tabata’s speed skaters were NOT just doing the 8 x 20/10. They had warmup and cool down periods that extended the entire length of the conditioning session to as long as 30 minutes.
Funny, save for my buddy Liam “Taku” Bauer, I’ve never seen ANYBODY ever design an interval training program that has these elements in place. Most fuckwad trainers just tell you to dive right into the Tabata Intervals.
But let’s dive into what I really fucking can’t stand – and that’s these trainers who think that Tabata Intervals are a good and effective way to do almost any and every exercise under the sun in the name of conditioning.
What a load of bullshit.
Almost every single day, I seem some asshole posting a workout they’ve done (or worse yet, made others do) that has you doing pushups, squats, burpees, or other such exercises in the 8 x 20/10 format.
This is absolutely retarded.
Aside from what is ‘supposed’ to work, what the local fitness ‘guru’ says, and everything else, let’s use a little bit of common logic for a couple minutes….
To do Tabata Intervals and get the true benefit from them, you’ve got to be able to work at just a crazed intensity, right? Remember, the original test subjects were working at 170% VO2 max – that’s pretty damn intense.
Well, when you start applying it to bodyweight movements, you take cardiovascular conditioning out of the equation as that isn’t what fails. See, you want to be working at such a pace, that you literally force the heart and lungs to adapt. But you just can’t do this with most bodyweight movements.
Why not? Because muscular endurance becomes a limiting factor long before cardiovascular conditioning does.
Go do a set of Tabata squats. You start out, and you’re doing them at absolute break-neck pace, getting yourself breathing as hard as bodyweight squats can get your breathing (whether or not that’s ‘hard enough’ remains to be seen, but that’s another issue). Answer me this – your fastest pace was that first round. How long can you maintain that pace throughout all 8 rounds? Likely not very long. You might make it through the first 2-3…maybe even 4. After that, your performance is gonna start dropping off, and dropping off fast.
The problem, though, isn’t that your performance drops off because your wind is the limiting factor. It’s because your quads are burning like a motherfucker, lactic acid is building up, and your strength-endurance and muscular-endurance can’t keep up.
So guess what – you just took a protocol designed for maximum anaerobic and VO2 development, and turned it into a muscular endurance program. Which means you’re no longer getting the true and total conditioning benefits of Tabata intervals. But it’s cool, because you’re now getting the strength-endurance and muscular-endurance benefits, right?
The problem is that you end up hindering yourself overall because you kill yourself in the beginning. Remember, you start out your first round balls to the wall. Then your performance drops off the next round. The round after that, it drops off a little more. Then by the time you’re half-way through, it’s likely dropped off quite a bit due to the fatigue factor and lactic acid buildup.
Now, what if you simply paced yourself and instead of going balls to the wall in the first couple rounds, you pulled back a bit. More than likely, you’d be able to find a pace that you’d be able to reach and sustain much longer, giving you an overall higher number of reps performed when you total up all 8 rounds, even though none of the 8 have a number as high as the balls to the wall round. This is because the 8 rounds as a whole are more dense.
But if you do that, then you’re bastardizing the cardiovascular conditioning benefits of Tabata’s Intervals even MORE. If you want a strength-endurance or muscular-endurance program, why not do a density training workout or something that’s specifically designed for such work instead of doing a cardio-based workout that’s no longer completely targeting cardio?
See how you’re kinda just half-assing both there?
What really irks me about half these morons prescribing Tabata Intervals to a bunch of different exercises is half the exercises they apply them to. They might have good intentions, but their application TOTALLY just jumps the shark.
For example, doing Tabatas on burpees, squat thrusts, DB/KB snatches, or DB/KB swings is not only not a good idea, it’s just plain stupid.
Because these are all exercises with a range of motion (ROM) that’s just WAY too long. I don’t give a shit if you’re the best KB guy in the fucking world, there’s only so fast that you’ll ever be able to do a KB snatch. That means that there’s only ever so many reps you’ll ever be able to get in 20 seconds. It’s not like sprinting or using an exercise bike or similar other methods of exercise in which an additional rep (or step or crank revolution on a bike or whatever) will only take a split second, and you can always strive to get more and go harder. No matter how you slice it, there will only ever be so many snatches you can do in 20 seconds. And to do one more is gonna take so long that once you hit that ceiling, you’ll never be able to do more.
Burpees are even worse. Look at the long ROM and all the movement that goes into completing just one rep.
Now remember the original study, and the skaters working at 170% of max VO2. Do you think you’ll ever be able to do Burpees fast enough to illicit that kind of response.
You would honestly be MUCH better off (in terms of cardiovascular conditioning and endurance benefits) by just setting a target number of reps and working your ass off to constantly reduce the amount of time it takes you to do that total number of reps.
The last time I did 125 burpees for time, I did it in around 7 minutes or so if memory serves me correctly. And when I got done, I was huffing and puffing like crazy. I was spent for nearly an hour after that. My pace was very consistent – I’d do 10-12, then rest just a few seconds (10-20). Then another 10-12. I kept up that pattern until I’d done 125. And I was able to keep that pace the entire time. The crazy thing was that it wasn’t until around minute number 5 that I *really* started getting fatigued. Sure, the first few rounds kicked my ass, but it was once I got to 75-80 burpees done that quickly that I felt like I was in the “holy shit, I gotta make my body fucking adapt to the brutality” mode.
Yet, had I done burpees in Tabata format, I’d have *never* reached that point, simply because there’s only so many burpees I’d have been able to do inside of 20 seconds, and after 4 minutes, I’d have been done.
Then there was the time I saw somebody prescribe Tabata Pullups. If you think that is in any way, shape, or form a good idea, then you probably still fucking believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, too.
Here’s the deal people – the 8 x 20/10 protocol works LIKE A FUCKING BOSS. Tabata proved it. But guess what – chances are you’re not as smart as Tabata is, so don’t think you can take the shit he did really awesome at and somehow make it better. All you’re gonna do is muck it up and get half-assed results across the board.
Do it the right way, to achieve the goals it was originally designed for, or just leave it the fuck alone.
Have a kickass weekend.
Posted in Cardio, Character/Motivation, Circuit Training, Muscle Building, Strength Training | 7 Comments »
Remember that old saying – ‘jack of all trades, master of none’?
It basically means that you’re pretty good (or pretty damn good, even) at a whole lot of different things. But, because you’ve spent a bunch of time working on all these different things, you’ve never spent enough time at any one thing in particular to get great at it.
And that’s just the way it is. Best case scenario is that you can either be pretty good at a lot or elite at a little. Can’t do both, though.
You’re just not gonna find anybody that can be elite at a lot. Just doesn’t happen.
Your workouts are the same way. You can either be in very good overall shape (strength, power, speed, cardio, physique, etc) or elite at one thing (like a highly competitive powerlifter, Olympic lifter, or bodybuilder might be). Can’t do both.
Now, if you know my style of workouts, I like to go the route at being pretty good at a lot. I’d rather do workouts that have you getting stronger, moving faster, having better cardio, and more – all at the same time. You’ll never (necessarily) be the ‘best’ at any one of those things, but you’ll be better than most.
(Not to mention you’ll be better than the elites at everything else – you’ll be faster than the powerlifter, stronger than the distance runner…you know the drill.)
BUT, what do you do if you’re seriously lacking in a given area?
See, if you’re starting out at the same level across the board, that’s cool – you can bring up all these qualities at the same time. But what if you’re not? THEN what do you do?
I mean, what if you’re already real fast, but not overly strong and your endurance sucks? Or if you have a pretty physique, but you can’t back it up in the gym? Or if you’re strong and explosive, but have pretty much no work capacity?
How do you balance everything out?
Well, that’s when you gotta do a workout that focuses on whatever it is you need to work on – target your weakness, bring it up, then move on from there.
Now, I know what you’re worried about – how do you do that, and *not* lose out on the gains you’ve busted your ass for so long to make, right? I mean, you’ve spent years getting strong as an ox – you don’t wanna lose it all in 4 months by trying to improve your cardio and conditioning.
That’s where program maintenance comes in. If you do a program that’s designed properly, you can focus on just a few main goals, and have that be the vast majority of the results you get. However, you can add in *just enough* maintenance work so as not to lose too much (if any) of all gains you’ve worked so hard for.
The first phase was doing a bunch of hardcore complexes. This was to get you in shape, build cardio, and improve your conditioning and work capacity. But, as long as you used heavy enough weights in the complexes, you wouldn’t really lose out on strength.
Then in the 2nd phase, we switched it around and focused on getting stronger (setting new PRs every workout) and getting bigger, putting on extra muscle mass. Well, you didn’t wanna lose out on all that conditioning you just busted your ass for, did you? No…which is why there were short conditioning elements built into Phase 2 – just enough to maintain.
Of course, then when you hit Phase 3…well, that’s when you go balls to the wall on everything, and bring it *all* up.
So you spent the first phase focusing on one set of goals, maintaining everything else. Then, you spent the next phase focusing on a different set of goals, maintaining everything else. Then, on phase 3, that’s when you kick it into high gear across the board, and bring it ALL up.
See how you do that?
And, of course, the totally badass thing about Body Armor – The 2nd Chapter is that each phase is pretty self contained. If you were to have to repeat a phase to bring those qualities up further before moving on, then it would be not only easy and doable, but completely recommended.
If you need to do some focusing in your workouts, and really elevate your *entire* game to a whole new level, then click on the link or button below, and go give Body Armor – The 2nd Chapter a shot.
You won’t regret it.
Posted in Circuit Training, Fat Loss, Muscle Building, Strength Training | No Comments »
The other day, I found myself telling a few peeps via PM (private message) about my current workouts, and the newest workout template I was messing with. And since I know I’ve got a ton more peeps on my newsletter, that read my blog, on Facebook, and other random places, I figured “what the hell – I’ll just put it into a blog post for everybody to see”.
After all, I do like to give you cool stuff for free when I can, you know?
Anyway, a little background.
I’d been doing workouts like what’s in the 4-Week Ass Kicking Blast for quite a while – a few months (and at the highest level – not the lower volume, ramp-up weeks) without a break. I still loved the workouts, and I enjoyed them, but they had been getting a little stale. Besides, when I was doing the workout that involved pushup and row circuits, I was getting to the point that I was doing 500+ pushups in a workout, and doing that a few times/week was starting to wreak havoc on my shoulders.
(I’ve got past shoulder issues anyway.)
So, I decided to alter the 4-Week Ass Kicking Blast a little, and see how that worked. I’d actually picked up a couple new Kettlebells from MuscleDriver USA and wanted to work those into my workouts. It went Ok for a couple weeks, but I needed something different.
I went through all my old programs (yeah, I know – a guy selling programs who does his own programs…crazy, huh?), and decided that I wanted to do something that was a little more strength, volume, and work capacity based. But, I still wanted conditioning. I didn’t want to completely move away from complexes (y’all know I’m a huge fan of complexes), but I wanted something a little different. And I wanted to get the chance to work with my new KBs.
I went looking through Working Class Cardio, and it dawned on me – a version of some of the stuff I’d written into Phase 1 of WCC. I would use higher sets with more medium reps. It could let me focus on lifting (relatively) heavy, really focus on form/technique, and get a bunch of overall volume in. Plus, it would let me concentrate on just a handful of different exercises.
Then, I’d add in ‘active rest’ exercises after each set. This would really up the workload factor, and allow me to still work on work capacity and retain conditioning, without doing the hardcore circuits I had been doing. I’d split it into a two-day format, so I could train on a Mon-Tues-Thurs-Fri schedule, as I’ve found over the past year or so that type of schedule really suits me. And if I had to miss a day, making it up would be no big deal, as I wouldn’t be super-behind in my program.
(Though, I haven’t missed a day in…jeez…can’t remember how long. LOL. I’ve been downright consistent, I tell ya! )
Here’s what I ended up coming up with:
Monday/Thursday (upper day):
1 – GPP Warmup (this should come as no surprise – LOL)
2 – KB Press: 8 x 6 each side
*follow each set with 50 jumping or seal jacks + 50 skiers
3 – DB Raise/Rows: 8 x 6
*follow each set with 50 jumping or seal jacks + 50 skiers
4 – Finisher
1 – GPP Warmup
2 – KB High Pull: 8 x 6 each side
*follow each set with 50 jumping or seal jacks + 50 skiers
3 – Double KB Swing (a KB in each hand, swing outside the legs): 8 x 6
*follow each set with 50 jumping or seal jacks + 50 skiers
4 – Finisher
Now, the ‘finisher’ for each workout can vary from workout to workout. On upper days, it’s usually something vanity related – maybe banded Barbell Curls, or DB Curls, or a biceps/triceps superset. Something along those lines. On lower days, it’s generally something conditioning related – as of late, it’s been Bench Jumps for 10 sets of 6 jumps + 6 breaths. But sometimes it’s hill sprints. Other times it’s 50 Burpees done as fast as possible.
(Some of you might wonder why I’m using KB High Pulls instead of KB Snatches. If you picked up the 4-Week Minimalistic Blast, you’ll know that I’m actually a much bigger fan of KB High Pulls than I am KB Snatches. Though, I do plan on switching them out with DB Snatches – which I’m a very big fan of – from time to time.)
The awesome thing about this program is how customizable it is.
You notice all the jacks + skiers. Sometimes I’ll swap out Mountain Climbers x 15 each leg for one or the other. Or Squat Thrusts x 10. Or Medicine Ball Woodchoppers x 10. Anything along those lines.
Now, how could you work this kinda program into what you do?
Pretty simple, really – just take the basic template, and swap in your favorite compound exercises. They could be barbell, sandbag, DB, kettlebell…whatever you want. Examples of sample upper days could be:
-Bench Press and Bent Row
-Push Press and Weighted Chins
-Sandbag Clean & Press and DB Rows
-Weighted Dips and Renegade Rows
-1-Arm DB Clean & Press and Reverse Grip Rows
That sorta thing.
For lower days, you could pick the usual suspects – Squats, Deadlifts, etc. – but also various Olympic lift hybrids or variations. Sample days could be:
-Cleans and Squats
-High Pulls and Rack Deadlifts
-DB Snatch and Racked KB Lunges
-Power Snatch and Trap Bar Deadlifts
You get the idea.
For weight, pick a heavy weight that you could get 6-7 good, clean reps with – maybe 8 (but that’s pushing the light side). You want to be grinding through all these sets – they should all be heavy. If you can’t quite gut out all 6 reps in a set by the end of the workout, then rest-pause your way out to 6 reps. Or, in other words, do as many as you can, rack the bar (but don’t let go), rest a couple breaths, do another rep or two, rack the bar, and keep repeating until you get all 6 reps for that set. Keep doing this for all your sets.
If you wanted to pick different exercises each workout (say have one pair of exercises for upper on Monday, then another pair of exercises for upper on Thursday; same with lower on Tuesday and Friday), then that would work, too. Just be sure to repeat each week.
Try this template out – it’s pretty simple, but damn if it doesn’t work. I think y’all will totally dig it.
Have a kickass weekend.
Posted in Cardio, Circuit Training, Muscle Building, Strength Training | No Comments »
Gotta share this testimonial.
I’ve told y’all about the Bonafede brothers more than once – they shouldn’t even need an introduction anymore. Basically, they’re perfect examples of what happens when you take hardcore, intense workouts, and apply a kickass work ethic to them.
Not long ago, I had been telling you about the results Matt Bonafede was getting with “Body Armor – The 2nd Chapter”.
Well, check out the email his brother Aaron sent me last Friday:
“I must admit I wanted to kick your ass the last month. That “Body Armor 2″ Phase 1 was killing me. We let me rephrase that, the layout was *@!ing hard but the weight I decided to use was killing me.
I have noticed a switch over the last year. When Matt and I finished the cardio program I was about 155-160. (NOTE: see pics here) Since the Olympic style lifts came back into play I still stayed lean but have put on some good size. I’m
about 168 -170 now.
I can still outwork just about anyone I see at the gym and can’t get anyone to work out with me (surprise). I’m actually still pretty lean but can see the size in my legs and shoulders.
I just keep getting stronger. The amazing part is the capacity. For instance see my workout below:
Push Press – 155 x 6
50- jumping jacks
Dead Lift – 315 x 6
50 – jumping jacks
Cleans – 155 x 6
50 – jumping jacks
Squats – 315 x 6
50 – jumping jacks
oh yeah repeat x 5
For the life of me I can’t explain how I can move that amount of weight w/out any real rest and still be ready in 1-2 min after to go another round. That part to me is way better than the “how much do you bench?”. At 35 I can do more than I could in my 20′s.
I still feel great, look great, and love life.”
Notice a couple things there:
1 – the layout of the workout is tough, but his work ethic and how much weight he used seriously compounded the effectiveness of the program
2 – he’s in better shape in his mid-30s than he was in his 20s (it’s usually the other way around)
3 – That last line – I still feel great, look great, and love life. What more could you want?
If you wanna fast-track yourself to the same sorta results Aaron and his brother Matt get, then you owe it to yourself to get your own copy of “Body Armor – The 2nd Chapter” – PRONTO
Posted in Character/Motivation, Circuit Training, Fat Loss, Muscle Building, Strength Training | No Comments »