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The Master Keys to Strength and

Fitness
By Logan Christopher
DISCLAIMER
The exercises and advice contained within this book may be too strenuous or
dangerous for some people, and the reader should consult with a physician
before engaging in them.

The author and publisher of this book are not responsible in any manner
whatsoever for the use, misuse or dis-use of the information presented here.

The Master Keys to Strength and Fitness All Rights Reserved.

Original Copyright © 2011 by Logan Christopher


No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any
means, photocopying, recording, retrieval system, without permission in
writing from the publisher. electronic or mechanical, including or by any
information storage and

Manufactured in the United States of America Published by:


Logan Christopher
Santa Cruz, California

www.legendarystrength.com
Table of contents
1. Introduction 3
2. Strength & Fitness 7
Weakness is a Crime, Don’t Be a Criminal 9
The Superhero Archetype 10 What is Real Strength? 11 The Physical Side of
Strength 12 Attributes of Fitness 14 Movement 17 Aesthetics 19
3. Goal Setting 20 Workout Journal 20 SMART Goals 21 Future Results 23
Focused Goals 24 Break Down 24 Assume Success 26 Tracking Your Goals
27 Shiny Object Syndrome 28 Continual Adaptation 30
4. Progression 32 Methods of Progression 32 Double System of Progression
37 Sets and Reps 39 Hitting the Wall 40
5. Systems of Strength 43 Intensity & Severity 43 Volume 46 The Skill of
Strength 48 Practice vs. Strength Training 50 Formulas for Strength 52
Biofeedback Training 55
6. Recovery 58 Rest Time 58 Sleep 59 Nutrition 61 Supplements 62 Balance
63 Relaxation 65 Hydration 65
7. Toughness 67 No Pain, No Gain 67 Finishers 68 Challenge Workouts 69
Competition 70 Consistency 71 Persistence 72
8. Mental Training 74 Beliefs 75 Visualizing 77 Flow 80 Anchoring 82
Psyching Up 84 Stacking 85
9. All-Around Training 87 Compound Movements 87 Press, Pull, Squat 88
Strength and Conditioning 89 Variety 90 Neglected Areas 91 Balanced
Training 92
10. Exercises 94 Barbells 95 Kettlebells 111 Bodyweight 123 Grip 146
11. Workout Templates 151
12. Conclusion 163
1 - Introduction
Introduction
I have one distinct memory of my early attempts at exercise. When I was in
eighth grade, all the kids had to do the presidential fitness test. I'm sure many
of you living in the U.S. probably remember these tests back in the day. The
idea was to examine you on a variety of different exercises and see how you
rank compared to everyone else. Thus, you could gauge your overall fitness
level.

One of the exercises in this test was a pullup, and the goal was to see how
many reps you could do. I don't know exactly what numbers people were
hitting, but if you could do ten, you were among the top of the class. It came
to my turn. I jumped up onto that bar and I couldn't even move a single inch.
In fact, it was so impossible for me to do I couldn't even comprehend how
other people were able to do it. It just didn’t make sense.

When I was growing up, I was a weak and scrawny kid, and that memory
sticks out in my mind because shortly after that, I started working out. One of
my older brothers had gotten into bodybuilding. That's the only exposure to
strength training I had as the time because it was the only exposure he had. I
began going to the gym and bodybuilding. Isolating my muscles using four
different machines, doing three sets of ten and all the stupid things you see
many people doing at the gym regularly.

I did learn about some of the more effective exercises during my high school
football career but much was still alluding me. When I entered high school I
weighed under 100 lbs. When I left high school I had added about 50-60
pounds to that frame but I had also gotten much taller, coming close to my
now 6’2”. I had gained little in the way of results. A bit stronger here and
there. A little more muscle mass. But really in all that time nothing to write
home about. At the same time my football career was less than stellar as you
might imagine for a largely un-athletic kid.

Even though I trained during that time, the problem was I was missing all the
master keys of what it takes to become bigger and stronger. That is what this
book is about. Giving you everything you need in order to achieve your goals
whether that is to add muscle mass, lose fat, or just get stronger.

To continue my story, right around when I was ending high school, I found
out about bodyweight exercises. In a short period of time I went full-force
into those. Why? Because I started to see results. Yes, the exercises were
good, but along the way I had unknowingly stumbled onto a few of the
master keys which is the real reason for my progress.

But I had also fallen into a trap. Because I was now getting results where I
hadn’t before, and starting to be able to do things other people couldn’t, my
mind closed off to everything else. I attributed all my success to the
bodyweight exercises and swore off weights. My thinking was that everyone
should only be doing bodyweight exercises, and that was the key to getting
real strong, real fitness, being functional, and everything like that. Weights
were stupid and useless and anyone who used them was a fool.

But I continued to learn and gradually this exclusionary idea fell to the
wayside. One of my friends got a couple kettlebells and I decided to try those
out. What I found is that I enjoyed using those too so I purchased my own.
My workouts began to be centered around the kettlebell and bodyweight
exercises. From there it just kept growing. And now I use all sorts of tools:
barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, clubbells, if you can name the tool, I've
probably used it.

The thing is the tool is not the most important thing about training. In fact, I
would put it near the bottom of this list unless you’re training for a specific
move that involves it. Instead the master keys are what is important. If you
have those everything else becomes easy.

My story continues. Throughout the years, I've used tons of different systems.
Starting with the bodyweight exercises from Combat Conditioning I went on
to achieve a high level there completing the Ultimate Royal Court Challenge
consisting of a 10 minute hands free wrestler’s bridge, 250 Hindu pushups
and 1000 Hindu squats done all in a little over an hour. On top of that I began
gymnastic training as an adult going further into acrobatics and hand
balancing.
With the kettlebell I became a certified kettlebell instructor in both the RKC
and AKC, different methods of using the kettlebells for different purposes.
I’ve become well-known for my kettlebell juggling skills as well as hitting
300+ snatches with the 24kg kettlebell in 10 minutes.

Plus there are the feats of strength much like the oldtime strongmen back in
the beginning of the 20th century and earlier. I regularly tear phonebooks in
half and bend nails. And on one occasion for the Atomic Athletic Oldtime
Strongman Picnic I pulled an antique firetruck weighing in at approximately
8800 pounds…by my hair.

While I do have other resources available that go into more detail about the
various training tools and methods, this book is meant to be an overview of
everything. To give you the master keys of strength and fitness that are
necessary to excel no matter the way you choose to do it.

There is a classic book on business and wealth-building by the name of Think


and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. In it he states the secrets are contained
within the book, yet he won’t blatantly point them out, as it is more powerful
for you to discover them. In this book, I will be following that model. All of
the master keys are here. Some of them readily apparent while others are
hidden between the lines. Study this book and you will find them.

And one other thing. Many people that write a book claim to have THE
answer. Anyone who claims to have THE answer is lying to you, if not to
themselves. While the keys in this book are necessary for strength and fitness
you’ll find at least the majority of them in any program that works. Even
missing some of the keys you’re likely to get some results (though not as
good as if you had ALL the keys).

This book is not written with the intent that you need to follow it to the letter.
In fact for the most part it is not setup so you can mindlessly follow along.
Your participation is required. And there is no one right WAY. There are
many ways to apply the information contain here. In some areas you may
find something that you think is contradictory. But it is not, instead it’s
different ways to arrive at the same goal, without violating any of the master
keys.
Now that you know a little of my background and how this book came to be,
lets dive into the material that’ll help you become stronger and more fit than
ever before.

In strength, Logan Christopher


2 - Strength & Fitness
Strength & Fitness
By birthright every single man and woman deserves to build up within
themselves a great degree of bodily strength. To develop a large amount of
vital power. There is much more to life then the pursuit of strength. Few
people will devote their life to the ideal, to become the perfect man.
However, every man must put forth an effort. Here you shall find out why.

The stronger you are the more energy you have inside, when that strength is
built in a real way through proper exercise and a sustained effort over time.
Vital power is the fire inside that sustains you and allows you to push beyond
the levels of a normal human being. The building of strength is but one piece
of claiming vital power but know that without strength you cannot have it.

When you are vitally strong and have built up a huge reserve of power, you
must keep going. There is no point at which you can stop and say that you are
done. In life there is no maintenance, only getting better or worse. Which do
you choose to do? It is an ongoing journey but with each new step you take
the rewards will become greater.

After all, you never know when you will need it. Should some calamity arise
do you want to know that you have done your very best to prepare for
whatever it is? What if your own life or the life of someone you love relies
solely on the strength of your back and arms? Do you have the conditioning
to escape certain death? Pray that you never need it, but if you do, be
confident knowing that it is there.

We use the words ‘tough’, ‘strong’, ’enduring’ and ’resilient’. Yet these do
not apply only in the physical sense. The same words can be attributed to
someone with mental and emotional fortitude. In fact, the methods that build
up one often times build up the other as you’ll come to see later in this book.

The health that flows inside your muscles and veins can only help to ward off
injury and illness. The ability to bounce back from the worst will be yours,
and so will be the ability to rebuild. Many of life’s stressful situations fall by
the wayside because they become less important. The bigger events can be
dealt with and you will face them with a strong base of fortitude. And it’s not
a matter of handling them face on and wrestling them to submission onto the
ground (unless that is necessary). Instead when they come you can easily deal
with them in the most appropriate way.

No matter what you do, you want to be healthy, right? Health cannot be had
without strength. The stronger you get, the healthier you can become as well.
Strength is but one side of the pyramid, but built along side with the others
will give you a marvelous constitution.

The old-time strongman, George F. Jowett, said it best, “The word Strength
fascinates me. It squares my shoulders and clenches the fist that drives me
onward to a bigger purpose. Strength is Health. One cannot exist without the
other. They are inseparable forces that bind the body to direct purpose. If you
lack strength your body will collapse and double up like a jackknife.”

You will look good and feel even better. Part of being a man is to seize this
opportunity of life and become proud of who you are. This holds true for the
ladies as well, but men have a history of their manliness lying in their
strength. After all, why do you think we challenge each other to see which is
the stronger man? Part of being a real man is being able to protect your
woman from any danger that awaits. And to sweep her off her feet, literally.
While it may be stereotypical ask any woman if they desire these qualities in
a man and you‘ll find they do.

Why would you not want to be strong? There is no reason, no benefit to do


so. Becoming a strong person does not degrade your ability to accomplish
anything else in life. In fact, by virtue of giving you more by way of vigor
than you put in, you can accomplish more. To help ensure a long, healthy life
you owe it to yourself to step into your rightful attainment of strength.

After all, once the dust has settled, you can look back and be amazed at just
how far you have come. The time will pass anyway, so you might as well
spend it becoming stronger. After looking back, you’ll look forward and keep
going.

Weakness is a Crime, Don’t be a Criminal


The foregoing title is taken from the father of physical culture, Bernarr
MacFadden. You have set upon the path of acquiring the greatest of strength.
For that you should be applauded. Since weakness is a crime you are likened
to a law enforcer. Your example will inspire and guide others to follow.

Strength obtained in the proper way will build up all qualities of health and
life in balance. You are doing one of the best things you can to ensure a
happy future.

Choosing to be weak is a disgrace. And it is just that, a choice. We are all


different. Some are born naturally strong. Others are not born that way. There
is no shame is starting from zero, in being a weakling. But there is shame is
remaining that way once you realize it doesn‘t have to be so.

Rudyard Kipling said, “We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a
single excuse.” I don’t have the time. I don’t know how. I can’t do it. It’s too
hard. Strike these from you vocabulary. There’s no excuse.

Properly done strength training does not take a lot of time. In fact, done right
it will take less time than improper training. You don’t need expensive
equipment. If you have nothing else you can still use your bodyweight, which
you should still use even if you do have all the greatest tools.

Learning how is simple. In fact you probably already know more than you
need to train. If you don’t, you‘ll find the details within this book. More
important is to start. Only by making mistakes and getting feedback do we
truly learn to grow.

The choice is yours. Live in a physical jail of your weakly body or gain the
strength to escape the prison. Alexander Zass literally escaped from a POW
camp by breaking the chains that bound him and bending iron bars to escape.
That is strength.

The Superhero Archetype

Why do you do the sort of training you do? To look good? Stay in shape and
be healthy? Those are great reasons, but I don’t think it’s the real reason. It
stems from something further than that. Something deep inside that you may
never have thought about. In fact, by reaching for an ideal you’ll go much
further than just going for an ordinary experience.

As a young boy in America I was always fascinated by the amazing abilities


of superheroes and the like I saw in the movies and on TV. How could you
not be? After all, here I am sitting there watching this, just a normal human,
not possessing superstrength, invisibility, the ability to fly or anything like
that.

The superhero took many forms but at the basic level it meant abilities far
and above what normal humans possess. Here’s the thing, it doesn’t take
radiation or nuclear waste to give you these abilities (in fact, I would highly
suggest you avoid those). All it takes is dedicated training.

After all, look at one of the most popular superheroes, Batman. In the whole
wide world of superheroes he is one of the very few that did not possess any
unnatural super-powers. All he had was his training and technology (yes,
being wealthy is helpful, in fact it could be called a super power itself, but
that’s another topic). With this he is capable of fighting crime including many
super-criminals that do have super powers.

If you saw the Batman Begins movie with Christian Bale than cast your mind
back to his training under Henri Ducard (played by Liam Neeson) with the
League of Shadows. Basically a group of ninjas. Through dedicated training
he was capable of doing incredible things. Yes, it is just a movie. But movies
can inspire. Movies are based on ideals. And many do have elements of truth
behind the fiction.

Now this may seem to be a bit of a tangent. But I wanted to show you the
power of the Superhero Archetype. If you take some time to ponder you may
realize that this is why you train the way that you do. I know it is for me. Its
something more than the surface level results.

With time you too can attain the superhero’s abilities. Truly. The amazing
strength of strongmen today and year’s past is in many ways beyond
comprehension. It is super strength. It is something you too can have.

What is Real Strength?


Here are a few of the definitions found in Webster’s dictionary under the
word strong;

1 : having or marked by great physical power: robust


2 : having moral or intellectual power
3 : having great resources
4 : forceful
5 : not mild or weak: intense
6 : moving with rapidity or force
7 : ardent, zealous
8 : able to withstand stress: not easily injured: solid
9 : not easily subdued or taken

The first definition is what most people think of when asked what does it
mean to be strong. Yet all of these fit. What does moral or intellectual power
have to do with physical strength, you may ask? To become truly strong there
must be balance in life. I believe that building up you bodily strength will not
only make you physically strong but mentally as well when it is done
properly.

Of course, this book focuses primarily on the physical side of strength, but it
is not a complete picture without the rest. In fact, it is hard to divorce the
physical from all the rest.

There are many kinds of strength. You can have strength of character,
strength of will, and strength of body, as well as other strengths. Application
of the proper training will allow you to develop all of these traits together in a
harmonious way. Each one will build up on top of another.

The Physical Side of Strength

How does strength work? It starts as a nerve impulse in your mind telling
your muscles to contract. That’s all muscles do. They contract or relax. In
your arm, the biceps contract which brings the arm into flexion. When the
triceps contract, that brings it down to extension. The force with which those
muscles contract, that’s going to represent how strong you are.

Strength is built through resistance. Placing significant stress on the body


makes the body grow as your body does not want to go through the difficulty
of the task again. The human body has the amazing ability to adapt. In fact it
is adapting to everything you do all the time. With strength training after your
body has recovered it is better prepared to handle that task the next time it is
made to do so. This is a simple mechanical description of how you build
strength.

From there it is as easy as progressively training with more resistance. This is


the key to effective training. Over time, do more. When you truly understand
this fact any training or goal can be broken down into straightforward steps.

There are many different types of strength. There is limit strength which is
your maximal strength output for a single all-out effort. There is endurance
strength, the ability to perform a muscular task for a period of time. We have
speed strength, your ability to apply force with speed. There are many other
categories that strength could be fit into. Depending on your purpose these
differentiations may become important. For now they are not of much use.

People will bicker and fight about the differences yet all are tied together.
Certain persons will chose to specialize in one area such as powerlifters
contesting their limit strength or Olympic lifters with explosive strength. The
true strongman will have all developed to a great ability. There will be some
specialization to bring one area to a higher degree, but never will you find an
area left neglected. Training in one part of strength will directly or indirectly
translate to the building up of the whole.

To keep it simple, strength is defined as the ability to exert force against an


object. To move resistance. It is the capacity to do a task, whether for a
period of time or a maximal lift. There are several factors to take into account
to determine how strong you are in a particular move or feat.

The size and strength of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones.

The efficiency of your internal systems in creating and maintaining energy.


The leverage against the resistance.
The nerve force and skill applied to do the task.
The mental beliefs, attitude, and pain tolerance both conscious and
subconscious.
The first three bullet points fit into the our mechanical description of strength
above but the last two involve something not of a physical sense. Much more
on this subject will be covered elsewhere in this book.

Besides strength there are many other attributes that make up fitness. All are
important in building up true strength.
Attributes of Fitness

If you talk to anyone, their list of what makes up fitness is going to be


different. A useful model bases all these attributes in terms of movement,
which I learned from Frankie Faires. Sometimes it is distracting and
detrimental to think in terms of so many separate distinctions. At other times
it is useful to break things up.

Strength Strength is the ability to move against resistance. This has already
been discussed above.

Endurance Endurance is the ability to do repetitive movement. This has two


sides to it. You have the muscular endurance as well as cardiovascular, and
both are very important. In fact, if you're really looking at health, having
endurance, both muscular and cardiovascular, is more important to your
health than just being very strong for one rep. Many people, especially men,
enjoy to a greater degree lifting the big weights while tackling the
conditioning can be hard work. No matter how you dice it, it's going to be
tough, but it's very important that you do it. Speed Speed is the ability to
move fast. Various exercises can help build your speed, even without doing
sprints going as fast as possible. For instance with barbell training you can do
squats working with speed and power. Olympic sprinters and others trying to
become faster will use those to build up their strength so that they're able to
sprint faster. Now, you don't have to include sprints in your training, though
it is something good to include every once in a while too. And the legs aren’t
the only thing that should be fast.

Power Power is the ability to move fast against resistance. It's being able to
generate that strength very quickly. It's important that you include some sort
of explosive movements in your routine. Some people, they like to do their
exercises slow; other people like to do them all quick. But really having some
sort of explosive movements in your routine is very beneficial. It teaches
your body how to generate speed and power quickly, important for all kinds
of athletic performance.

Flexibility Flexibility is defined as your range of movement. Many people


pay a lot of attention to flexibility, depending on what they're going after. The
big question is how much do you really need? If you can get through your
day and do everything well, if you can do basic things like touch the floor
with straight legs, if you can get down to a full squat, you have the base
minimum flexibility you should have. Everyone should have that and be able
to easily do those things. If not, you’ll need to improve your flexibility and
that does not necessarily mean stretching. Proper strength training will take
care of many flexibility deficiencies. Doing the splits or contorting is not
necessary. But if that's your goal, you're going to have to do some specific
training in order to reach the desired results.

Mobility Mobility is the ability to differentiate movement. That is being able


to get into a variety of ranges of motion. Being able to move into and out of
them freely. If anything, this is actually more important than flexibility.
Being able to move freely, painfree, in many different ways. You should be
able to do many sorts of movements. They’re basic things but important.
Being able to move your body around, whether it's touching your toes, doing
twists and bends, or circles with your arms, elbows, and hands. Where you
lack mobility is where you need to improve it.

Stability Stability is the ability to resist movement. This is important in many


strength and athletic situations. When you squat a heavy barbell the strength
comes from the legs. Anyone could tell you that. Yet how many realize the
stability needed in holding the torso erect while you do so? Something that
holds many a person from doing more. Stability is the flip side of mobility
and depending on what you’re going for you need both just to different
degrees.

Agility Agility is the ability to transition between movements often with


speed. You should be able to play any sport – basketball, soccer, football,
baseball, etc. – every once in a while and not have any problems doing it.
You shouldn't be getting injured from it, barring any sort of accidents. It's
jumping, cutting movements, transitioning from a stop to full speed. For
some people you don't need to specifically train this unless you're active in a
sport or martial arts. For others agility can be even more important, and it
may be something that you specifically want to focus on. With normal
strength training, this doesn't play in a huge role, but it is one aspect of fitness
that you should keep in mind.

Coordination Coordination is the ability to control movement. Many


mobility drills takes some coordination to be able to do them. If you're doing
figure-eight patterns or various other motions, especially where one arm is
doing something different than the other arm it will take this skill. You can
also work your coordination different ways doing unilateral training. If you're
doing swings and snatches with kettlebells, but you're doing it in doubles, so
you need two arms, it takes some coordination to be able to do these
movements properly. And just by working using two different objects as
opposed to just a barbell, it's going to improve your coordination.

Movement

As you read through these you may have noticed just how much overlap there
is in one quality to another. This is because all of these factors are just
different aspects of one thing, and that is movement. The truth is you can’t
have speed without some form of resistance, thus making it power. Much
mobility work and in fact all movement takes some degree of coordination.
Its just we only pay attention to it when it takes too much for a person to do.
When it passes a certain threshold.

Some might ask where balance is? I would say balance is coordination and
stability combined. The freestanding handstand which is an excellent
exercise, and fun to do, demonstrates this fully. You must be stable in your
body and have the coordination to stay up in the air.

As you’ll come to see there is no fine line between strength and endurance.
Instead it is a curve from one side to another. You’ll find the exercises in this
book often blend strength with endurance. A squat done with proper form
will not only build strength but flexibility as well for someone who needs it.

And by bringing all these attributes up, it's going to further add to your entire
fitness. If you neglect your conditioning but then you add that in, after a
while, once your body gets used to it, the effects of that sort of training will
help you with your strength training. It's going to help you to recover faster,
among other things. Some people do neglect this component, and if you are
one of those, then it's definitely one of the biggest things you need to add to
your training.

With proper training you can work all these attributes. You don’t need to
have specific drills for mobility, other drills for agility, and exercises for
strength. Yes, different exercises will focus on certain aspects more than
others, but nothing is done in isolation. And if you’re lacking in one
component, work on it will often be fast and produce great results.

I find that the better I train in the basic movements the better I become at all
different movement. About ten years ago I went ice skating for the first time
in my life. I fell so many times it was beyond count ending up with a huge
lump on my right elbow. Then a short time ago I went ice skating once again
for the second time ever. No practice in ice skating, or any skating, at all in
the interim. Yet this time I didn’t fall even once. My training had improved
my ability to move in the rink without specifically working on it and without
working on anything even remotely similar. It’s an odd example but it does
illustrate this point. Get better at movement and you’ll get better at
movement.

Proper training doesn’t just make you stronger, faster, or healthier. It makes
you more athletic. I think the definition of an athlete really is someone who's
able to do all manner of physical things, even without training for them. Yes,
in those cases you may be sore the next day if you play a game of football
with your friends for the first time in two years. But you should be able to go
into that arena and perform well if you're really an athlete, and that's one of
the main goals of training. Everyone should be and is capable of being an
athlete even if they don’t compete ever.

That's just an overview of different attributes of fitness to work on. It's


important to keep these things in mind. You're not going to be working to
increase all these at the same level all at once and to even be able to judge
what the same level is. Certain ones are going to be more important to you,
but by having these all in mind and occasionally going outside of your
normal box of what you do, you get to see how these other aspects are being
built up or being neglected. And really, when you do go outside your box,
you may find that you have a weakness and it's an area that you should be
addressing a little more.

Aesthetics

There is also the aspect of body composition. That is how you look. I
separate it out because it’s not so much an attribute of fitness but it is well
worth talking about.

The majority of people train in order to look better. There is no changing that.
They may not want the strength of the superhero, but to look like one. Here is
what I have found. Back when I started training I was doing that too. I wasn’t
interested much in strength I just wanted to be bigger. I trained and didn’t get
much in results. Then I started training for what I could do. I made progress
on this front, and lo and behold my body began to change.

How you look is a by-product or side effect of how you train. It’s fine to have
the goal to weigh so many pounds or to look a certain way. That will be
covered later. But in order to get those results you must focus on what you
can do and improving your functionality.

By doing so the aesthetics come along the way. There is a principle in


architecture that applies equally here. Form follows function. By training to
become more functional you will build a more functional form.

My goal in this chapter was to instill in you a desire to build up not only
strength but all the attributes of fitness. By understanding the different
components that make up movement you are better able to build them in your
training.
3 - Goal Setting
Goal Setting
Goal setting is the key to success in any endeavor. Would you get in your car
and drive without a destination? You could end up in thousands of different
places if you did that. While there may be a time and a place for just driving
the vast majority of time you have a specific place you want to get to. By
setting the goal of where you want to go in the first place you dramatically
increase the chances of getting yourself there.

These same ideas will work for every area of your life. Of course, for this
book the focus is on strength and fitness and so all the examples will be along
those lines.

Workout Journal

One of the first things that's of the utmost important for you to do if you want
to get results is to keep a workout journal. What gets tracked gets improved.
Even without goal setting if you were to track where you are and your
progress you would get better. The act of observation changes your results.

When I was starting out in training I tried a variety of ways to do this. I’d try
to type it up on my computer or print out pages and fill out things as I went
along. But nothing has worked nearly as well as getting a $0.25 spiral-bound
book from the stationery store and writing each day as it comes. You write
out your workout. You fill out the details, all the exercises you do, the sets,
the reps, the time, everything involved. Do this consistently and you’ll be
able to look at your workout from the same day five years ago. Once you fill
up one book, you just get another and continue on.

This is great not only to help you see how you progress from one workout to
the next, but you can go back a few years. You can look over your last year,
which is something I’ve done, to notice patterns. What were my most
productive moments? Where was I not making the progress that I wanted?
You can look at it from a bird's-eye view of the whole span of time and see
how you do in your training. Anybody that gets anywhere training keeps a
workout journal. Definitely, if you haven't been doing that, you'll want to
start right now.

Some people like to keep track of a few optional things. Some people will
track nutrition along with this journal. Some people will track how they feel
going into the workout, the perceived effort as they do the exercises. I
recommend that you experiment and see what works for you, but for me it's
the workout itself, just the physical exercises that I'm doing. Experiment and
play with it but most of all start doing it now if you haven’t already.

SMART Goals

Now that we have something to record your workouts let's talk about setting
goals. Most people have had some experience with setting goals in their life.
They've heard someone talk about it at some point. And a fairly common
thing among goal setting is SMART goals. SMART is an acronym. It means
Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely. Let me go into each
one of those.

Specific This is a very basic formula, but it's good because setting the goal "I
want to lose weight" or "I want to be stronger," that's not going to get you
anywhere. Instead you need to get as specific with your goal as you can,
down to the finest details. Instead of "I want to lose weight," use "I want to
weigh 180 pounds." Instead of "I want to get stronger," or "I want to be
stronger at pressing," you want to write "I want to press bodyweight, 180
pounds, overhead one time on a barbell." When you know exactly what you
want to achieve, you can set the plan in order to achieve that. If it's vague,
you really don't have any sort of idea of how you can get there, so be specific
with your goals.

Measurable You need something that you can measure. In just a little bit we
will dive into breaking your goal into chunks that you can tackle one at a
time. But that is impossible if it is some airy idea that you have no way of
measuring. Again, what gets tracked you can improve upon, so you can
measure how far you are from your goal at this moment and what it's going to
take to get there. The question to ask yourself is “When do I know I have hit
my goal?”
Actionable Is the goal you have up to you? Or is it in the hands of someone
else? Most of all can you take action yourself in order to realize it? If you
can’t do anything in order to help yourself achieve your goal, guess what?
You won’t be able to hit it. This has to do with self-reliance, taking your
opportunities and what you want to achieve and doing all you can to make it
happen.

Realistic You want to have a goal that is attainable for you. It has to be
something big that inspires you to reach it but, at the same time, believable
for you to achieve it. It can't be something that's so far out that you can't even
imagine yourself getting there. If you're 300 pounds overweight right now
and 50 years old, a goal to win a gold medal in the Olympics coming up,
that's not realistic.

Timing This is all about having time-specific goals. You need to have a
deadline of when you want to hit anything. Without a deadline there’s no
incentive to act now. In the above example you’d want to add a date by when
you’d like to achieve it so "I want to press bodyweight, 180 pounds, overhead
one time," becomes, "I want to press bodyweight, 180 pounds, overhead one
time by December 31st, 2011." Many people are scared about deadlines
because they think, "Oh, what if I don't make it?" Well, if you happen not to
make it, all you do is you set a new deadline for it.

As Brian Tracy said, “There are no unreasonable goals, just unreasonable


deadlines.” A deadline is there to try to push you to act quickly to hit your
goal before that time. Sometimes it just means that you didn't really take into
consideration what it was going to take to hit a certain goal. If you miss a
deadline, don't worry about it, and just set a new one.

That's a really basic overview of goals in general. You can apply this stuff to
your entire life, but once again, we’re discussing training here. If you don’t
already have a list of your training goals in writing then take the time to do it
now. Don’t delay. And make sure they incorporate all aspects of SMART
goals.

Future Results

While setting goals is great I’ve found something even more powerful and
that is future pacing. You need to look out into the future at the thing you
want to achieve as your ultimate result. If you were living one year from now
and you looked back to this day, what has happened in that time? Where are
you one year from now? How's your training going? What do you look like?
That is your ultimate result. Put yourself there in your future in full detail and
look back at what allowed you to get there.

This is one of the best exercises, because it's not so much goal setting. It's just
looking at the results you want to have in a year. Mentally step into where
you're going to be one year from now and look back to now. Of course, you
can do it with any period of time. If you do nothing else, take the time to do
that exercise right now. It is a very powerful one to do.
Focused Goals

In the past, I used to write a whole long list of training goals that I had, for
one year. This included a wide variety of different moves of all sorts, and had
probably 30 different goals on it. I’d tucked this list away and when I looked
at it, I'd only have hit three or five of those goals at the end of the year.

There was several things I was doing wrong but one of the main problems
was that there were too many goals, and my training was not specifically
working towards most of them. It was working toward a couple at a given
time, but other times I'd switch my routine over, and then I wasn't working on
those goals.

The important thing to do is to select one big goal for you to focus on.
Choose one that fires you up the most, the one that if you got that and nothing
else, you'd be very happy with the results. You can have all these other
training goals, and it's good to have those, but you want to have one big main
goal for you to focus on. You can still have your list but you’ll primarily
focus on this one big goal and build your training around it.

Not only are you more likely to achieve this one big goal (and faster too) but
because of your devotion and energy you direct to it, you’ll find many of the
other goals are achieved without really trying. By focusing on one goal it
brings all the others up.

Break Down
Once we have your big goal and you know where you want to be in one year,
you now need to set the plans in order to attain it. First off, look at where you
are now in relation to your goal. How close or far are you from attaining it?
(If you don’t know your starting point you need to find that out before doing
this exercise, though a good estimation will still work.)

In this example we’ll choose a goal for a year. Break it down into quarters.
You have yourself achieving your goal four quarters from now and where
you’re at right now is the beginning. Halfway through you should be halfway
to your goal. In this first quarter you should be a fourth of the way toward
that goal.

A lot of times you'll find that you'll get even further than a quarter of the way,
and a quarter of the way to that goal may not be very difficult to attain at all.
You may realize that you can be ahead of the curve and hit your ultimate
result before the year is even through. Other times it will be a stretch to hit
that quarterly goal and you need to do everything to not fall behind.

In that first quarter, you have three months, so you want to break it down into
a monthly goal. You don’t have to plan out each month in advance. Instead at
the start of each month, take a little bit of time to sit down and write out your
goals. From where you are currently to where you should be at the end of the
month that’s inline with your quarterly and yearly goal.

And of course, from that month, you break it down into the weekly goals.
Most people have a schedule where there's a week of workouts and then that
repeats the next week. So you know you have a certain amount of workouts
to hit in that week and month. What progress do you have to make on each
workout in each week to hit that monthly goal? You can even go so far as to
have goals for each and every workout.

When you hit that workout’s goal that means progress on your week, month,
quarter and year. Hitting big goals is as simple as breaking it down and
working backwards. Chunk down from the big lofty goal into bite-sized
chunks that you can handle and cross off your list one at a time. This is how
you hit big goals, one step at a time.
Assume Success
An important thing to do is to assume you'll be successful. Don't go into the
workout thinking "I hope I can hit my training goal for this workout; I hope I
can get a little stronger; I hope I can do one more rep on this exercise; I hope
I can do this exercise a little bit longer."

Its called positive expectation. Expect that every time you train you’ll
progress over where you where last time.

Also, don't stop yourself from doing as best as you can. If you did eight reps
in an exercise in your last workout, don't think "Okay, I may be able to get
nine." Shoot for 12. Shoot to double it. You may even surprise yourself. From
one workout to the next, you may be able to do twice as many reps.

We're working back from the year to the quarter to the month, weekly, and
workout-by-workout goals. If you are constantly looking at where you want
to go and where you are right now and setting these little steps along the way
for you to hit, you're going to make progress. You're not going to do a whole
bunch of random moves in your workout. You're going to be focused on
hitting your goals, and so you're going to do the things that you need to do in
order to hit them.

Plus, when you have these daily goals, you're much less likely to miss a
workout, because if you don't hit your workout goal today, you're going to be
behind, and that's going to throw off your monthly plan. You're going to have
to make it up, and that may be even harder. Lost time is not easily regained.

Instead, go into every workout, even every single exercise, with the positive
expectation that you’ll far exceed your results from last time. That you’ll not
only hit but surpass your goal for the workout. In may not always happen but
you’ll certainly be better off then going into your workout only hoping to
make gains.

Tracking Your Goals

If your goal is to gain weight or to lose weight, an important thing for you to
do is to weigh yourself every day. Some people say you don't want to weigh
yourself; just look at how your clothes fit, and you can do that too because it's
important. When people say they want to lose weight, they want to lose fat
and not muscle, so clothes fitting better is a superior sign than just stepping
on a scale as you can gain muscle, lose fat and weigh the same. But if you
want to gain weight or lose weight, I recommend that you step on the scale at
the same time every day and track how you go. It's going to fluctuate up and
down depending on how you eat and a whole bunch of other things. But over
time there should be a general trend in the direction you're going for, and you
can record that in your workout logs along with everything else.

Remember, once again, what gets tracked gets improved, so keep that
workout journal. It's the best thing and you need to have that in place if you're
going to do any of this other stuff. A lot of people think that they can
remember what they do from one workout to the next, but if you're doing
some variations and it was a week ago, you won’t remember. It's great
because when you’re training and you get to your next exercise, all you’ve
got to do is flip back a page or two and see what you did last time, and now
you're trying to beat that. You add reps or add a little bit of weight, and just
beat that previous number. And that way you can actually go through your
entire workout and improve every single exercise. I find its helpful for me to
keep my list of goals along with my workout journal as a constant reminder.

You can make a big list of goals, but you really want to pick one huge thing,
and you want to see where you want to be in one year and have that your
main goal and have your workout largely reflect you going after that goal.
You can do a bunch of other stuff, but once again, try to primarily go after
that. But at the same time, even if your goals is to do one thing, you really
should have a overall balanced plan working out your entire body. Just make
sure you cover everything even though you may be focused on just going
after one specific thing.

Shiny Object Syndrome

Once you have your goals broken down and a plan to get there the most
important part is to stick to this plan. Back in my early days of working out,
I'd buy a new course, watch some new training DVD or read a new book, and
immediately I'd want to change my training plan, just flip it completely
upside down and go do whatever's in this new book, and just forget about
everything I was doing before.
Some people have likened this to being attracted to shiny things. It's a good
metaphor because you think, "Oh, the shiny thing over there," like "Ooh, I
want to try kettlebells now," when you've never done it before and it won‘t
help you hit your goals. It can be good to work on a whole bunch of different
things and to try out a bunch of different systems, but if you really want to
make progress, you have to stick to one thing, and for a long time.

Many people never make progress because they're always changing their
plan. This is also because they don’t have goals. Driving around in their car
without a destination. When you first begin training, one, you're going to be
sore right away from doing the new things, and some people enjoy that
feeling. They also equate soreness to having a good workout and making
progress. But really when you‘re starting out, you gain quick progress from
one workout to the next. You're not really getting stronger in that time, in the
first two to three weeks. It's just your body is becoming accustomed to the
move. You're really becoming neurologically adapted to doing those specific
exercises, and so you're more in the groove, you're better at them, and you
make more progress. You make progress quickly because neurological
adaptation doesn‘t take very long.

The thing is, after two to three weeks of that, a lot of people, they begin to get
bored with the exercises because they're already neurologically adapted to
them, and now actually begins the process of having to gain strength in order
to do more. It gets difficult, and so they look at the new shiny thing and
decide they want to try that. The get the “Beginner’s High” from it and so the
cycle continues.

If you want to get somewhere, you have to stick to it for at least two to three
months in order to get real results. Remember, we have a plan to go a year
out. You don't have to follow the exact same thing the entire time, but if you
really want to get to a point, if that goal is far enough ahead and it really
inspires you, it's going to take some time to get to it.

A lot of people can’t think past the short term. They want to get instant
progress, instant gratification, especially in American culture, but you have to
think about this in long terms. Think about where you'll be in five, ten years.
If you stick to consistent training and you set plans like this and really stick to
the plans, then you'll go so far that you can look back in that time and say,
"Wow, that's amazing. Look how far I've come."

You can make progress if you just do a different workout every single day. If
you don't track your results, if you don't even care about hitting any sort of
goals, you can make progress that way, but it's only a tiny fraction of what
you can make if you make a plan and stick to it and really go after something
big.

Of course, if what you are doing isn’t working then you need to change your
plan. Take the feedback and do something else that does work. With
everything outlined in this book it shouldn’t be hard.

Continual Adaptation

On the flip side, as you're training, you don't need to do the same exact
workouts for the entire year. I never have the same exact workout from one
week to the next. I do what I call ‘continual adaptation’. The workout
changes little bit by little bit. So instead of one exercise, I'll try this variation,
or I'll add in a different exercise or subtract one, or I'll do different reps.

You can do more of this with the auxiliary exercises, the supplementary ones,
as opposed to your main exercises for your goals if you're after specific lifts
or feats. When you have your main big goal you want to be fairly consistent
with that.

But supplementary exercises you can change around more.

But supplementary exercises you can change around more. pound kettlebell
with one arm, so I should be pressing kettlebells a single arm at a time, and
that should be my main exercise. But on top of that I'm doing other
supplementary exercises, and I play around with these a lot more while
staying consistent with my main goal.

Since you’re keeping a training log you can go back and see where you were
at for any exercise and anyway you‘ve done it. When you do return to the
exercise you can progress from there. Plus you’ll see if what you’ve been
doing in the interim has helped to make you stronger or not.
The key point is not to completely throw out your plan and try something
new. You can do that every once in a while if you've hit a huge goal and want
to go for something radically different, but for the most part the only changes
you should make are little ones. Think of your training plan as a continually
evolving creature. You’d recognize it as the same from one week or month to
the next but there has been changes for the better.

Some people are fine with doing the exact same thing day in and day out.
Others like to try new things all the time. If you’re the latter by adding these
little changes, you can stave off boredom. You can keep a little extra
excitement. You can fulfill your need to try different things. But you'll still be
sticking to your overall plan, and you'll be working toward those results you
want.

Now let me ask you a question and be honset. Did you just read this chapter
or did you actually do the goal setting and future pacing exercises I outlined?
This book by itself can’t make you stronger. Only if you follow the steps can
it help you. If you skipped them go back and do them. It only takes a few
minutes of your time. it’s a small investment for the benefit you’ll gain from
doing it.
4 - Progression
Progression
When you're working out the goal is to cause your body to adapt by lifting
weights, doing bodyweight exercises, running, yoga or anything like that.
You're placing a stress on the body that it's not used to, with the goal that the
body is going to rebuild and repair itself so it's stronger. This makes it so that
it can more easily do what you have just done to it the next time it occurs. So
in the end you can run faster or better, and you can lift more weight.

The body is always adapting no matter what you do. With exercise we are
aiming that adaptation in several directions (the different attributes of fitness
listed in the first chapter as well as looking better). The key with progression
is that in order to continually make you better, you're going to continually
challenge the body with more so that it must get better, and therefore you get
stronger.

Without progression you will stop the improvements you seek. The body will
realize in doesn’t need to alter itself in order to perform the same task. There
is no such thing as maintaining. You are either getting better or worse. And if
you’re not getting better you’re getting worse.

This chapter is aimed at giving you a firm foundation of what progression is,
the many forms it comes in and how you’ll be using it in your workouts.

Methods of Progression

Progression comes in many different forms. As you’ll see this is a good thing
and helpful. With these methods you’ll be able to look at and track your
progress thus knowing and seeing you’re going in the right direction.
Weight The most common method is by increasing weight. No matter what
sort of training tool you're using, a heavier weight than what you did before is
going to make your body need more strength then before. Lifting 205 lbs. is
harder then 200 lbs. It’s a cyclical process.

Lift Weight --> Get Stronger --> Lift Heavier Weight --> Get Stronger…
repeat ad infinitum

Leverage Weight is really just one form of intensity, and one form of
progression. What follows comes into play for many bodyweight exercises.
By changing the leverage, you are effectively increasing the intensity.

For example take pushups. A normal pushup with your feet on the ground has
you pushing roughly 55 percent of your bodyweight. If you raise your feet up
onto a chair, you're going to be effectively pushing more of your weight. This
makes the move harder. You can just add weight to a pushup with a weight
vest, cables, or placing some plates on your back, but by a change in the
leverage, you can obtain basically the same result.

But don’t think leverage is only for bodyweight exercises. It can be done with
weights as well. Think of the difference in pressing a kettlebell and a club of
the same weight. With the change in leverage the club is much harder to
press. So weight and leverage are ways of increasing the intensity of any
exercise. By given yourself worse leverage in an exercise you progressively
make it harder.

Volume Volume comes in two varieties. Everyone is familiar with sets and
reps. If you do more sets of an exercise, you're doing more volume. If you're
doing more reps in any given set, you're doing more volume. So if today you
can do one set of ten and the next time you train you do two sets of ten,
you've done double the volume. By adding volume you are effectively
progressing.

And you can also increase reps. Maybe you do one set of six on any given
exercise today. If you can, the next time you train, just do one set of seven,
you are getting stronger. By adding volume in the same way, you'll
continually get better and eventually reach whatever your goal is.

Time Those above are the main methods of progression but there are many
others you can track. For a lot of moves, you can hold a position for time, like
a handstand, bridge or a plank. This is similar to volume except not counted
in reps but seconds instead. If you do it for one minute one day and for a
minute and 20 seconds the next, increasing the time you can hold any given
move, it's a form of progression.
On the flip side of time is speed. For some exercises like running or doing a
certain amount of reps you’ll look to do them in a shorter amount of time. By
reducing the time you can do something in you have made progress.

Density A different method of progression with time is density. Let's say you
do ten sets of an exercise in your workout. If you do all ten of those sets in 30
minutes, that‘s a certain level of density which can be figured out by dividing
your volume by time. But lets say you do ten sets of the same exercises with
the same weight, but this time you cut down that time to 25 minutes. You've
increased the pace that you're working, and this is another form of
progression. It's another very effective way.

That's why I recommend that you keep track of the time it takes to do each
exercise and also your workouts because if you add a few sets, but if it takes
you all of a sudden twice as long to do it, you may not be making
improvements. It may have been something it could have done before; you
just increased the time you were allotting for it. So track your time.

Decreased Recovery Time Density is this on a small scale, recovering


between sets, but what I’m talking about here is a large scale. If you do the
same workout three times a week, if you then did that workout four times a
week, that could be another means of progression. You're forcing your body
to do more of a workload over the span of a week, and this'll make the body
to adapt.

Bud Jeffries used this in squatting 1,000 pounds. In one of his books, he
talked about working up to where he could squat, not his maximum amount
but somewhere around 700 or 800 pounds at any given time during any day.
This was instrumental in helping him increase his total squat. There is some
other things going on here then just decreased recovery time but that
illustrates the point.

Order There's also the order of the exercises you can do. If your workouts
always follows the same order, that's good for consistency's sake. But
imagine you train your hands at the start of the workout with a gripper and
then you do the rest of your workout. If you all of a sudden took your gripper
and applied that to the end of the workout instead of the beginning, you'd find
you're most likely a lot weaker from the other exercises. You won't be able to
do as many reps just from the other work you did before. But if you built
back up the number of reps to where you were when you had it at the start of
the workout you‘d be stronger. What do you think would happen when you
move the gripper training back to the front of your workout once again?
You'd be able to do more than before. That's another way you can do it. Not
often used, but can be effective if you hit a plateau.

And similar to this is pre-fatiguing your muscles for whatever exercise. You
do something that's going to really fatigue them and then you go into your
main exercise. If you build back up to the weight or reps you could do before
you did the prefatiguing, then that is another form of progression.

Form The form you have on an exercise can be used to gauge progression.
The problem with this is that it is highly subjective. But still it can be
included. What I’ve found is that if form does improve then improvement in
some other form of progression is likely to happen. After all if your form
improves, making an exercise easier, then adding weight, reps or speed
should happen as a by-product.

This can happen in another way. You may begin to do more of a full range of
motion then before, if it previously was limited. While this will cut down on
the reps you can do it is progress as well.

RPE Some people like to record their rate of perceived exertion when they're
doing the workout or any given exercise, on a scale of one to ten, one being it
took no effort and ten being the hardest thing you've ever done. If something
rates at a eight when you do it you don’t increase any of these other factors
that I talked about
– volume, intensity, time, anything. You continue to do the exact same
exercise the next time, except you bring down the rate of perceived exertion,
so maybe once you get it to a six, then you increase the weight. You just keep
doing the same thing until it becomes fairly easy for you to do. It's not my
favorite way to do it, but once again, it's another option.

I've given a whole list of different methods of progression here, some are
more common than others, and there's a reason for that. They're much easier
to do, simpler, and easy to keep track of. But some of them that you may not
have used before, like the density of your exercises or changing the order
around can be effectively added to your training. However you do it be sure
to track it as you do your workouts.
Double System of Progression

One of the biggest keys to progression is not using just one of these methods
at a given time, but to use what's called a double system of progression.
Basically you just pick any two of these methods and then combine them.

For example, a very common one is volume and weight. Let's say you're just
doing a single set of barbell presses. And you do this with a weight you can
do six times right now. In every workout, you try to press it for at least one
more rep. Sometimes you may hit two; sometimes you may be stopped and
only hit the same number again. And you work up until you can do this for 12
reps. At that point you're going to add weight to the bar.

So you don’t add any weight until you've hit the goal number of 12 reps.
Once you've hit that, you add weight and you start back down, so maybe now
when you add five pounds to the bar, you can only do seven reps. From that
point you work up to the 12 reps again, then you add more weight to the bar.
You can do five or ten pounds at a time. By using the double system, it's
more effective than just following one form of progression.

Here is another example. With the single-arm kettlebell press you can’t easily
add weight, so the main method may be with volume. Set a goal volume, like
100 total reps with each side. Once you hit that then work with the next
heavier kettlebell, dropping to a low volume and working back up.

But you can add a third element of progression in here too. At the same time
keep track of the density of how long it takes to do the total number of reps.
Sometimes instead of trying to do more reps try to do the same number of
reps again, except do it in less time than it took before. If it took 35 minutes
to get through 60 reps on the press, next time shoot to keep it under half an
hour. Just another way of progressing.

You almost HAVE to incorporate more than one element of progression.


Let's just take normal pushups, for example. If you only tried to add reps
you'll be able to do it for a while. Twenty pushups today, 21 tomorrow, 22
the next and so on. By adding one or two every single workout, you will
progress for some time. But at some point that's going to stall out.

But if you took it and use a double system, like adding weight or increasing
the leverage here, and you worked up to a number of reps, you're not as likely
to hit a plateau, because you're using two different systems of progression.

You can even just use two forms of volume progression. Let’s use the pushup
again. You do 30 reps in a single set. And your next workout you do two sets
of 20 reps. You have a higher total volume, although each one of those single
sets is less. In your next workouts you bring those two sets up to 30 reps
each. And then once you hit that, you'll do three sets, and maybe on your
third set you don't get quite up to 30. You repeat this process. And once you
get to five sets of 30 you move back down to a single set and see how many
you can do. If you can do five sets of 30 in a fairly compact amount of time,
hitting 40, 50 or even more reps, wouldn't be too extreme in a single all out
set. You should be able to do that and then to repeat the same thing, adding
sets as you go.

Common double (and triple) systems of progression include:

Reps/Weight - Single Set (20-rep Squat)


If you can do 20 reps with a weight the next workout you’ll use more weight.
If you don’t hit the 20 reps you stick to the same weight until you can.

Volume/Weight - 5x5 training


If you can do all working sets (sometimes this is five sets, sometimes three as
the first two are warmup sets) with the same weight and hit five reps you’ll
increase the weight the next workout.

Sets/Reps - Pushup example above


If you hit your goal number of reps in each set you’ll add another set the next
workout.

Time/Reps - Hill Sprints


I like to set a goal to run all my hill sprints, going a set distance, in under 30
seconds. If I hit that the next time I’ll add another sprint.

Volume/Density/Weight - Escalating Density Training With EDT you


superset two exercises back and forth for a set amount of time. In the next
workout you use the same weight but do more volume in the same period of
time. At some point, depending on where you place your progression point,
you’ll increase the weight.

In all your training you should strive to use at least two different forms of
progression. My main methods are weight (or leverage), volume and density.
By using more you can often get better results. Working with the different
elements allows you to progress in multiple different ways better ensuring
improvement every time. With it you are much less likely to get stuck. But
don’t get too extreme and try to incorporate every single method at once.
Keep it simple yet highly effective.

Sets and Reps

Although sets and reps have been discussed they are by no means the
definitive answer of whether a training program works or not. You can do
singles, doubles, triples, sets of five, sets of 10, sets of 20 or higher. Low reps
aren’t necessarily only for strength, while high reps build muscle, and super
high reps trim the fat. While different rep schemes can have different effects
this is minor in comparison to the other factors.

Someone can get stronger doing heavy singles, a single set of 20 or 5x5. It
doesn’t really matter. As long as you follow the principles of progression
within the context of ANY sort of rep or set system you will make progress.

Many people will find that they do better with higher or lower reps, whether
in a single set or many. This is largely an individual thing and something
you’ll come to find only through training and experimentation. And you may
find this changes over time. If you’ve been hammering low reps recently, a
switch to higher volume may be just what you need to make faster progress.
Or high volume may just not work for you very well. Individuality is a factor
few people realize also holds true in physical training.

Despite the fact that “How many sets and reps?” is the biggest discussion
point among trainees on what is better, it‘s not all that important. How many
sets and reps you do is miniscule in comparison to the other factors in your
training.
Hitting the Wall

So what does stop progression? When you're using several elements of


progression, you're not as likely to encounter that issue, but it's still going to
come up from time to time. People reach plateaus with their exercise. The
reason this happens is because the body habituates. Even if you're continually
pushing it forward, at some point the body becomes used to the exercise even
though you're trying to improve.

It's going to differ from person to person and the exercises you do. For the
most part, if you're following this double system of progression or more and
you just threw some slight variations in here and there, while mostly
continuing on the same routine, you can go for a long time. You can be
consistent with what you do over a long period of time. Periodization, at very
high levels, may be a necessary thing. But for most people, you can stay on a
routine for a really long time, and if you make small changes, you're not
going to hit a plateau. In the next chapter you’ll learn about a system that
promises to help you completely avoid plateaus.

If you're not making progress, that's a sign you need to do something new.
For example, if you can't increase the amount of reps you're doing with any
given weight, let's say you hit seven reps last time, and this time you're trying
to go for eight, and you can't get the eighth rep. Maybe you even get stopped
at six. Don't worry about any single workout. It could be a fluke, something
else is going on, and maybe you just weren't fully recovered. If that second
workout you're trying the same thing and you don't beat it then, if you go two
or maybe even three workouts without progressing, then it's a sign you need
to shake something up.

But for the most part, you will find yourself continually getting better. Maybe
you have one off week, but the next week you come back stronger. A lot of
times it is because you aren't fully recovered. If you go two to three weeks
without making progress in a certain exercise, it's a sign that you've hit a
plateau. You need to do something to shake it up, and usually that something
involves just changing the approach you take. If you're doing one set, maybe
you should go to a different volume approach, maybe five sets of five or
something like that. Just by changing the format, you can stick with the same
exercise. That can be enough to shake it up, and you work on progressing
from there. Or maybe you've just become burned out on that exercise, and it's
good to switch to something else that's similar but different. For example,
switching from barbell presses to handstand pushups.

If you get that one workout and you don't do better, don't take that as a sign
of failure and figure that whatever you're doing isn't working. A single
workout by itself doesn't mean anything. It's how you put together one after
the other.

Another big part of this is your mindset you have when you go into your
training. You have to think that you're going to do better. If you think that
"Oh, there's no way I'm going to hit this," then you most will not achieve a
new PR. If you don't think you're going to do it, you're not going to be able
to.

By understanding and mastering progression becoming stronger, more fit and


hitting your goals becomes nothing more than a matter of time and putting in
the work. If you feel you need more help in understand how progression
works I recommend you look at popular training programs and figure out
what forms of progression they’re using. And if progression is not built in
you know you have one that will not work.
5 - Systems of Strength
Systems of Strength
There are several different systems of strength available for you to work on.
By system of strength I’m referring to the overriding principle on which a
program is built. In this chapter we’ll look at a few different ones, what
makes them work and why. They may seem to be mutually exclusive but
when we dig deep you’ll find different reasons for why they work and how
you can used them to your benefit.

This sort of stuff leads to massive confusion among many trainees, myself
included when I started, and even after years of training. Because one person
will tell you, you must do this in order to get stronger and another will tell
you that doesn’t work and to do this instead. I hope to clear it up for you and
teach you the master keys.

Intensity & Severity

Many methods of building strength are built on this. That is, the harder you
train the more you get out of it. You work as hard as you possibly can,
forcing the body to comply and get stronger. If you’re not getting results its
because you’re not working hard enough.

Intensity is commonly used as a term to describe the percentage of your


maximum weight. This term can be misleading when other uses of intensity,
describing how difficult the exercise or workout was, are also used. Many
possible synonyms are already used for other terms which I don’t want to
further confuse therefore for I will use the term ‘severity’. A severe exercise
is one that is done towards the end of maximum possible work and takes
toughness, mental and physical, to do. It is not necessarily ‘intense’ in the
weightlifting term of intense, meaning it isn’t necessarily at 90-100% of the
maximum weight you can lift. A 60% intensity weight can be lifted
repeatedly to make the exercise severe. A 100% weight can be lifted. If it is a
true maximum then it will be quite severe, but still not as much as a 20-rep
maximum weight that is used for 20 reps. (Or as the story goes a 10-rep
maximum weight done for 20 reps!) The latter will be more severe as more
work is done at a high severity. A 110% weight cannot be lifted allowing
only an isometric. This is likely not to be severe unless it is a long isometric.

Don’t worry there aren’t many more percentage signs in the rest of this book.
But I hope you can understand the difference. The way we define our terms is
helpful in how much benefit we get out of them. High Intensity Training is
not intensity in the scientific weightlifting sense of the term. That would
mean you do nothing but work on singles with maximum weight (which is
another method that is itself quite severe). As I define it here it would be
more aptly named High Severity Training.

Does it work? Yes. There are many people who have built great strength
training in this way. Systems that do this include any that involve training to
failure like High Intensity Training. The well known 5x5 system, where you
do five sets of five reps is often done like this. Anything out of Dinosaur
Training or the works of Arthur Jones is severe. You need to fight for that
last rep always. And when you think you’re done, fight for one more.
Sometimes you even add in negatives, assisted reps or anything else to
squeeze that last bit of work out.

Any system that bases itself on training to your maximum level of effort is
built on severity. Crossfit is a system of severe exercise. There is also a lot of
volume too which can lead to problems as we will come to see.

How does training severely work? What you’ll hear about this is that only by
working to the utmost of your ability will you force adaptation. (As was
alluded to before but not pointed out specifically, you do not need to force
adaptation. It’s going to happen one way or another by the mere act of
strength training.) Each muscle is made up of a whole bunch of fibers of
differing types. When the signal is made to contract, the fibers either fire or
they don’t. Each one is not capable of half firing, it’s either on or off. The
strength of the contraction is made up in the number of fibers contracting. If
you do not go to maximum severity all the fibers aren’t being worked.
Especially the deep rooted Type 2X fibers which are used for maximal
strength and only used in very severe situations. Yet, there seems to be data
supporting that not all fibers can be consciously contracted even by trained
athletes.
When training severely is done your body will adapt to it. While force may
not be necessary in this case you are using it to force adaptation. What is then
required is time for recovery. Not only to rebuild but then to super
compensate (come back even stronger). This is the part many people who
train in this method miss, and thus get poor results. And the thing is it
probably takes longer than you think. But your body will adapt if you give it
the time.

Then there are those that train severely but leave ‘one rep in the bank’,
stopping short of total failure. Those against training to failure say that
“Training to failure is training to fail.” This means that you are teaching your
body to fail. So to avoid this but still work hard some stop just short of
complete effort.

A benefit of severe training is that it builds mental and physical toughness.


You learn how to control your body. And you will get stronger assuming you
recover enough. It does work as there are many success stories of people who
train like this.

The drawback to this method is that it can lead to injury. You do get to a
point where you are so tough mentally and physically that you push past
places you should push past. Then you pay the price for doing so. All training
will have some price. With severe training at times that price can be high.
Also for some form is hard to keep when severity is the main goal further
compounding this problem.

Another drawback is that this sort of training often leaves you very sore.
Usually not a big problem but worth noting. And as mentioned it does take up
to a week or two to really recover and super compensate from the workout.
Recovery is addressed more later.

Volume

Volume as the main component or goal in working out is another training


method commonly used. As volume increases the intensity must go down and
vice versa. Again this is not to be confused with severity as you can train
high or low volume severely although there is some inverse correlation to
severity and volume.
A commonly used phrase is that “Volume cannot make up for intensity.”
What is being said has to do with different training effects. A common
example, because it works, is the marathon runner versus the sprinter. The
sprinter is well muscled and the typical marathon runner is not. If you want to
look like the sprinter running twice the distance (volume) will not make up
for the lack of intensity (jog vs. sprint). For this reason while adding volume
certainly is a valid way of progressing in the long run the true key to getting
stronger is by adding resistance.

When using volume as your gauge you need to be aware of this one thing.
You can take volume to an extreme amount. If your goal is strength and
fitness you need to be aware that there must be a minimally effective amount
of intensity and severity. Without it you will be wasting your time. Let’s say
you’re interested in pressing weight overhead. You can probably do
thousands of reps just lifting your arms up over your head. But will this help
you at all? Not likely. There is too little weight to elicit any response even if
done for high volume. Instead you need to use a certain amount of weight.

In training there is something called the SAID principle. That is specific


adaptation to imposed demands. What it means is that you specifically get
better based on the stress you place on your body. The key point is specific.
The further away you get from specific (in this case the big difference in an
unloaded movement pattern and one with load) the less it is likely to help
you. If you want to increase your max then specifically you want to work on
that. However for other reasons you may not only want to lift max weights.
Not just 100% intensity. Instead you work with weights that are somewhere
in the ballpark that still help towards the adaptation you seek.

Where this line is drawn is not known. Will working at 50% intensity help
you at 100%? Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on the person, the exercise and
many other factors. Based on your goals you can find what works for you.
Just don’t fall into doing ‘junk’ reps in order to increase your total volume.

There are people that like to calculate total tonnage of their workouts. This
can be fun to see huge numbers but for the most part its meaningless. A
snatch moves a weight much further then a curl yet the weights could be the
same. With the squat lets say you have a maximum of 400 lbs. You work up
to this maximum. Your total tonnage volume would be low depending on
warmup sets. But you do 300 lbs. for 3 sets of 10. This equals 9000 lbs. With
200 lbs. you’ll be able to lift much more. Maybe 5 sets of 20. This equals
20000 lbs. And its probably easier to do. In chasing total tonnage you’re
likely to decrease the intensity too much. These can be fun to look at and
compare with the same sort of weights but most comparisons are apples to
oranges.

Yet working with a reasonable amount of intensity but ever increasing


volume is a way to make progress. This volume can be done in a severe
workout or a more skill based training. If done severely you’ll only reach
near failure with accumulated fatigue after many sets and/or reps. This is
likely to trigger all the muscle fibers but with the excessive work it’s sure to
cause more damage increasing the chances for injury and likely extending
recovery time even further. For these reasons I recommend high volume for
the most part be worked with lower severity. And that brings us to skill work.

The Skill of Strength

The mind is intricately tied to how strong you are, something we’ll delve
even further into shortly. Look at anything that involves a ton of skill. If you
look at circus performers, they practice for hours a day to be able to develop
this skill to such a fine point where they can do amazing things that most
people wouldn’t even think are possible.

Strength is actually very similar to this. The book that first opened my eyes to
this way of training was Pavel Tsatsouline’s The Naked Warrior, which goes
into the idea of practicing strength as a skill. Treating your workouts like you
are practicing a skill is a very different way to look at it from the severe
workouts mentioned earlier where you squeeze every ounce of effort out.

This approach involves treating each exercise like you would learning to play
a guitar. A certain mental attitude is used, very different from ‘working out’.
You analyze and experiment with different aspects of an exercise in order to
perfect it. The main guiding principles behind this is to do as much volume as
possible while remaining as fresh as possible. This doesn’t mean focusing on
high repetition sets as that invariably builds fatigue. Instead you focus on
lower reps but many sets.
If you take a one arm press, for example, there are tons of different ways you
can do it and every person is actually going to have an individual best groove.
You can be pressing straight up or coming to the outside and around, and
anywhere in between. There are also shifts in the torso and body as you press.
You can grind the movement out or do it explosively.

The only way you’re going to find this is with lots of practice. And if you go
through your workouts always only focusing on just lifting, you may not find
out about these fine details. Once you have a locked in position, you know
exactly your best groove for pressing, you’ll be able to do more.

If you’ve done something hundreds of time before, one day something may
click and this makes you that much better at the move. You realize a better
way for you doing the move, something that you hadn’t been doing before.
It’s an immediate improvement in technique.

If you didn’t practice a move as much, you may not realize what works
better. Then you can groove this in so it’s automatic for you. You don’t even
have to think about it. That would take your attention away from doing the
lift itself because you have to think, “Okay, I need to brace my abs.” You
need to make that a habit for when its necessary. All these little things that
help you to do the best you can at the move, you need to make them
automatic. And you need to find the perfect groove. This is really what is
meant by practicing these moves as skills.

And in doing a higher volume, whether it’s a high rep set or several sets, it
can be beneficial over just doing a lower volume like a few singles as you get
more practice. With strength practice it is often beneficial to spread your
practice throughout the day in order to maximize volume and freshness.

You can approach your entire workout as a skills practice, just work on
improving the moves. There are many ways you can go about this but if you
just think on practicing and refining your technique you‘ll find out new
things about each exercise that you wouldn't if you just worked out.

And realize that having more volume and thus practice in a given day is
good. But think about working the same exercise each day of the week
instead of just once or twice. When you compound this over months you see
just how much more practice you get.

Knowing exactly how to handle a weight but also having practiced it such
that, going back to the nerve impulses, it’s stronger in the connection from
the muscles to the mind, that has really built up and the body knows how to
act and knows what it has to do.

This method builds strength differently then severe workouts. You may never
trigger all the muscle fibers. Instead you increased the skill of the movement.
This involves stronger and better nerve impulses by building myelin sheathes,
stronger coating and conductivity of the nerves. This also has to do with
improvement in technique. At the same time it is still causing adaptation in
building strength and muscle. And with less damage done the recovery time
will be less which further allows more training.

Practice vs. Strength Training

While similar to the above this is a slightly different topic that needs to be
addressed. Many people work on skills that are aligned with physical culture,
though it's not as exact in a sense as traditional strength training. I'm talking
things about like hand balancing, martial arts, or any sport, where you have to
practice the moves to get the skills down, but at the same time these physical
exercises can be more or less taxing on the system.

How do you incorporate these sort of things into your overall training? Once
again, you have to look back at your big plan. What is your ultimate goal? If
you're trying to compete in a martial art and that's what you're really going
after, your entire training plan is going to have to reflect that.

Every single person is different. The amount of work they can do and certain
exercises that they take to, they enjoy, and they get the most from is going to
differ from person to person. How much time do you have in a day to devote
to exercise, to working on whatever the skills you're working toward? If you
have a job that you have to spend 10 or 12 hours every single day, six days a
week, then you're not going to have as much time as someone who doesn't
work at all to devote to training and your training is going to have to reflect
that.
Even if you have all the time in the world you can’t just spend every moment
on it. Because these skills can be taxing to your physical system too, you
need to balance it along with the strength training and recovery as well. I
recommend, depending on what you're trying to do, you really look into how
successful people that practice that art are working the same training. If you
do martial arts, see how some of the other fighters are training. (Be sure to
look at the ones that are doing it properly, not getting burnt out and injured.)
If you do training in your art for two or three days a week, for two hours at a
time, you can maybe work out two days a week doing strength training. Try
to keep it simple, and try to keep it not so long that you're not being burned
out. It's really something you have to play with a lot and determine what
works for you.

While that's important, you have to realize that if you're working on so many
different things at once, you may not get as far as you would if you just
devoted your time to the one thing. For example, with hand balancing, which
is something I practice a bit, it's not my biggest goal to become the greatest
hand balancer in the world, but it is something I enjoy doing and I like to
practice and I want to get better at. Therefore I need to incorporate it into my
training without overstraining my system. This is typically done with a little
practice each day.

It's not a whole lot and I'm not going to make as much progress as I would if I
spent two hours every single day working on this and not doing anything
else. But it allows me to work on it, get a little better, and still keep my main
focus on my other strength goals. Especially with hand balancing since it uses
the arms a lot, and mixing that with other pressing movements, it can be a bit
of a problem. But I could substitute working presses in hand balancing and
do away with the need to work on other presses. Another example is
kettlebell juggling which could cover your conditioning yet takes a lot of
skill. You have to find out how this can work for you the best way.

Back to the main point of this chapter which involves the different methods
of getting stronger.
Formulas for Strength

We’ve talked about intensity, severity, volume and practicing strength


coming to several different ways you can gain strength. How do we put these
different systems of strength together. Can they even be joined? No, but they
can be used at different times for different effects.

In order to look at the formulas we need to look at two parts of the equation.
That is a Maximal Effective Amount and Minimal Effective Amount another
set of ideas I learned from Frankie Faires. These are abbreviate MEA and
mEA respectively. With any training there is only so much you can do and
get results. This would be the MEA. Any more than that and you are wasting
time at best, and actually slowing your progress at worst. On the flip side is
mEA. This is the least amount of work you can do to make progress. Any less
than this and you won’t be going anywhere. As you can tell there is an area
between the minimum and maximum amount and its all effective.

Our first equation looks at the training to failure model of strength. This is
summed up in the following.
Intensity/Severity(MEA) x Volume(mEA) + Recovery(MEA) = Progress

There is the MEA of Intensity/Severity. Understand this is a blend. You


require a certain amount of intensity (as before, you can’t lift a tiny 2 lb.
weight ‘til failure and get a good response). It also requires severity going to
failure or at least right near it. With this you want to do a minimal amount of
volume. With the severity so high often a single set is all that is needed.
Sometimes two or three sets. Any more than that would not help and if fact
could hurt. You really want to do as little as possible volume.

Add to this recovery which will be covered in depth in the next chapter. For
this approach you need a maximal effective amount. As the exercises are
severe it breaks down the muscle. It takes time to rebuild. By erring on the
side of more rest you will make more progress. Understand that you can still
spend too much time recovering though. Then your body starts to adapt to the
lack of strength training if you go too far.

The second equation looks at a higher volume or skill based approach.


Volume(MEA) x Intensity(mEA) + Recovery(mEA) = Progress

With this equation you’ll see it’s pretty much flipped. The more volume you
have the better up to a point of diminishing returns. A minimal amount of
intensity is used with this volume. Note that this is the minimal effective
amount and may not actually be a small percentage of maximum effort
dependent on your goals. And remember that as intensity goes up volume
must go down. Here, severity does not enter the equation. Of course, it will
come into play based on the volume and intensity, but it should be a minimal
as possible. Minimize the effort in every exercise and rep.

Without much severity, recovery is going to be much less. What you aim for
is the minimal amount, therefore allowing you to practice more. There is the
volume in a workout or day but also overall. In both you are trying to
maximize it. Again there must be enough time for recovery, but not nearly so
much as in the other approach.

How do you utilize these to best effect? In the next part I’ll introduce you to a
breakthrough in training that allows you to really maximize the second
approach, and in some ways the first as well.

As was explained above the different methods actually work by different


means. But they both work, bringing results with some different benefits and
drawbacks. You do not mix the two. Maximal amounts of severity AND
volume is a recipe for disaster. Minimal amounts of intensity and volume
won‘t get you anywhere. Instead use different methods at different times.

And because of the individuality of each person, I believe different people


will actually see more progress on one program versus another as compared
to another person. Just like no diet will work the same for two people the
same is the case for training. That brings us to our next subject which is
helpful in determining what is right for you.
Biofeedback Training

Using different forms of biofeedback in training has been around for quite
some time. Many people talk about paying attention to their body as far as
taking an extra day of rest or so. But how far can you take listening to your
body? The biofeedback training discussed here is a relatively new and
intensive method of using it to maximize your training and results.

What is involves is a form of applied kinesiology also known as muscle or


energy testing. The theory behind it is that your body knows what is good for
itself. By listening to it you’ll get better results. If you look at all the top
people in various forms of training you’ll find most are intuitive trainers at
least to some degree. What the testing allows you to do is to fast-track your
intuition and get better in tune with it. Thus beginners can become intuitive
trainers without years of practice. At a certain point the testing itself can be
done away with and you can move forward without it, relying more so just on
your intuition and the feelings it creates.

With the biofeedback training you typically use a range of motion test. The
easiest forms of this include a toe touch stretch or the overhead arm raise.
The object with these tests is not to go as far as you can finding how far you
can stretch, but instead you just go to the point of tension and stop there,
measuring how far you‘ve gone.

First you take a baseline test to know where you’re at. Then you do an
exercise, and any exercise or variation can be tested. After the movement you
test once again. If you find an increase in the range of motion (again just
going to the point of tension) that exercise has tested well and you can move
forward with it. If it tests the same or decreases your range of motion it
would not be a good option at this time.

There is much that can go wrong in doing this. For one, you must be sure to
do the test the same each time. If you’re doing a toe touch and you have your
knees locked out one time and not the next you will not get accurate results.
As with all testing you can influence the results of the test in many other
ways as well. In order to get it right, first have the intention to do so, and then
plan to practice. In the beginning it may be hard to feel the correct results,
especially if you are out of touch with your body. But this is a skill like any
other which will improve over time.

Different forms of testing can be helpful not just in training but in much else
as well from nutrition to working with your subconscious mind and much
more. All that is beyond the scope of this book but well worth investigating.

Back to the exercise. If you find it tests well you can go ahead with it. To get
better results, test variations until you find the exact exercise that tests the
best. Test the loads as well. You can even use testing to determine the proper
amount of rest you need between sets.
By following your biofeedback you will better balance out your body. It will
help you to get out of pain and avoid any training injuries. And it will allow
you to make fast progress as you only work on the things that your body is
primed to do, instead of forcing yourself to work on those exercises that you
maybe shouldn’t be doing.

You’ll also find you’re doing higher volume and less severe work. Intensity
tends to be harder on the body but that doesn’t mean they won’t ever test
well. It does, though not likely everyday. By following the testing you will
work with less effort, recover faster and therefore be able to work more.

This is a huge topic itself and deserves a whole product on it. Lucky for you
there is one from the Grip and Rip Workshop, a DVD set offered by my
friend Adam Glass that covers this material in detail. I would add some
things to it myself but it will certainly get you off and running quickly.

This chapter has covered a wide variety of need-to-know information on


training. It would be well worth reviewing, as well as putting the ideas to the
test in the gym, to really understand it.
6 - Recovery
Recovery
Strength and muscle is not actually built in the gym. What you do there is
what triggers the growth, but it is actually built outside the gym, mostly
during sleep when the body recuperates, repairs and then super compensates
becoming more capable of handling the stress.

If you just train all the time and pay no attention to recovery, you're not going
to progress, because your body won't have the time and energy it needs in
order to rebuild itself. This chapter details what it takes to recover as well as
ways to recover faster and thus make progress faster.

Rest Time

In the last chapter we talked about the intensity, severity and volume of
training. Each of these factors plays into how much time you’ll need to spend
to recover, the biggest of which is severity. By training to failure and pushing
the muscles to the last ounce of strength you will need significantly more
time to rest and recover. By training with less effort you don’t place the same
amount of stress on the muscles thus taking less time to recover. Either way
though you still need recovery time.

One man who has researched this thoroughly and trains very severely is the
ageless wonder, Peter Ragnar. You can read more about his ideas in his book
Serious Strength for Seniors and Kids Under 65.

I remember him telling a story that perfectly illustrated the point. Doing
situps one day he developed a sore point under his tailbone with the friction
of that rubbing off the ground. If you‘ve ever done situps without a cushion
then you’re likely to have had the same thing happen to you. He came back to
workout a few days later and realized the skin over his tailbone still had a
large scab on it. It didn’t fully heal until over a week later. (And lest you
think Peter’s body wasn’t in shape to heal quickly, let me assure you that you
are incorrect. Peter does more for his health then just about anybody I know.)
He realized that if the skin took that long to heal the muscles will need a
similar amount of time too.

And of key importance is that you can’t just let the muscles repair. That
would get you back to the same point as before. You must allow time for
super compensation, that is time for your body to rebuild stronger then
before.

Peter has been very successful training to failure giving himself about a week
of rest between workouts. By doing so you’ll come back stronger every time.
And if you don’t, it means you haven’t recovered long enough. Of course rest
and time isn’t the only variable here. That’s what the rest of this chapter is
about.

On the flip side if you don’t work as severely you don’t need as much time
for recovery. And with biofeedback training your body will tell you when
you’ve rested enough and when you haven’t. By listening to the signals you
can train everyday just in different ways.

Sleep

The key point of rest is sleep. Sleep is the primary time when the body
recovers itself. If someone were to try to workout for several days in a row
without getting any sleep, or very little sleep, they would eventually dig
themselves into a hole, whether that be an injury, illness, or some other
system failure. The military studied this finding that one group saw
stagnation from being sleep deprived, while the other group who had normal
sleep saw progress with the same workout schedule.

Quantity of sleep is important. The standard eight hours is a good goal to aim
for. Important hormones are released during sleep including Human Growth
Hormone which is necessary for repair and growth. The more sleep you get
the more you’ll have this beneficial and youthing hormone flowing through
you. High level athletes including those in the Olympics spend more time
sleeping including up to 10 to 12 hours a night. Most people can’t spend this
much time sleeping, but then again most people aren’t top level athletes. Still
it seems that the more you can get the better.

On top of a good quantity of sleep during the night time you can also spend
about 30 minutes during the afternoon taking a nap. According to our
circadian rhythm our body temperatures dip down at this time which tends to
make us feel tired. Taking a nap at this time will recharge you as well as help
you recover better. I personally like to train in the early afternoon and take a
nap afterwards.

In addition to quantity you need quality. Laying in bed for ten hours a night is
no good if you spend half that time tossing and turning without your mind
being able to shut off. There are a number of things you can do to get
yourself to fall asleep quickly and deeply.

Physical training by itself will help. If you train hard you’ve spent a good
amount of energy and will need the sleep all the more. Reduce your stress
levels which we’ll cover more soon. Avoid spending time on the computer,
watching TV, or doing any sort of work right before bed.

I do not recommend sleeping pills although there are some natural sleep aids
like kava kava or melatonin (actually a hormone that is necessary for sleep,
but available in pill form). Sometimes its not what you take but what you
don’t take that helps. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine not just before bed
but cut it out completely if necessary.

And learning to relax and clear your mind is another big help. Anytime I
don’t fall right to sleep its because my mind is racing thinking about all the
stuff I want or have to do. If this happens to you frequently get up and write it
all down. By writing it down you basically give your mind permission to stop
thinking about it because its safely stored on paper. Then tell your mind to
stop talking. Not a command, but dismiss any thoughts when they come to
you. If you’ve ever meditated this should sound familiar to you as it’s the
same thing you do then.

Also it goes without saying that I don’t endorse working the night shift. I
understand that someone has to do it. But that is unnatural and plenty of
studies are showing that people that do so pay the price in their health over
the long term.

Nutrition
Health and nutrition is a big topic. For now I just want to address how this
pertains to recovery. For more details on health I recommend you check out
my book 101 Simple Steps to Radiant Health. Without the proper base of
nutrition your recovery will not be good.

You’ll need the proper amount of all the macro-nutrients, carbohydrates,


proteins and fats. Especially for rebuilding muscle you need the protein,
though the amount you need is not nearly as much as some people would
have you believe. Just make sure that you have all the essential amino acids
in good supply.

Depending on your goals you may need to eat more food or less. Just don’t
go to the extreme either way bringing down your health. What is more
important than how much you eat is how much you can actually assimilate
and use.

Along with the macronutrients you also need micronutrients. This includes all
the vitamins and minerals. Also antioxidants are necessary. Contrary to
popular belief athletes need more of this then non-athletes because their
training is placing stress on the body that must be dealt with. These can be
found in many different foods and come in many different varieties. Look for
deeply colored food (natural of course, not dyed) and you’re likely looking at
something with lots of antioxidants.

Supplements

Especially in our American culture people are conditioned to reach for a pill
in order to cure or fix what ails them. Whether this is a drug or something
natural packaged into a pill you still need to look at the reasons behind it.

The problem is, with our food supply, even if you eat the best quality food,
its hard to get everything the body needs for health and for recovery. That’s
when supplements can help. But with these you need to be careful as well. As
supplements are highly unregulated (which is both a good and bad thing)
anyone can produce them and make claims as to their effectiveness. You
have to do your research and find high quality companies with high quality
products.
Understand that supplements are things to be added on top of an already firm
foundation. They can help maybe the last 5% if and only if you have the
other parts in place. If your sleep and stress levels are out of whack the first
place to look for improving your recovery is not in a pill or powder. That
being said, it can help. Here are just a couple examples.

Magnesium is a mineral that you need a good amount of regularly. In fact,


about 90% of the population is deficient in this mineral. You can find it in
green leafy vegetables, as magnesium is in the chlorophyll, as well as some
other foods. Unless you eat lots of them, and even if you do, supplementing
with more magnesium may be beneficial. Look for a transdermal spray, that
is something you spray onto your skin. For whatever reason, magnesium
absorbs better this way. By doing this you ensure you not only have enough,
but an optimum amount as magnesium is important for so many bodily
functions.

Fats are an important part of any diet. Far from the low or no-fat diets people
tried to maintain many years ago, thinking fat would kill them, fats have
many functions in the body, including hormone production, a great source of
energy and much more. One group specifically is helpful, yet chronically
deficient in most people. And that is Omega 3 Fatty Acids. There are two
essential kinds, EPA and DHA, which you need both of. The problem is
Omega 3’s are not found in much of our food supply, except in fish, grass fed
beef, flax, hemp and chia seeds. And the problem with the seeds is that while
they have Omega 3’s they are short chain fatty acids when our body needs
the long chain version which the animal products have. The body, in some
people more than others, is very inefficient at making the conversion. When
buying a fish oil make sure it is pharmaceutical grade to ensure it’s a high
quality product. You can also now get krill oil which is a similar, possibly
even superior, product.

There are many other supplements that could be beneficial to your health. But
this book is not about them. I just wanted to point out two key nutrients that
most people are chronically deficient in and would gain benefits in health and
recovery if they added them in.

Balance
In the first chapter I mentioned all the different attributes of fitness. Later on
you’ll hear more about balancing your body and your training. But this also
has to do with recovery. If you only work in one direction all the time, such
as building maximum strength, then you are limiting yourself in how far you
can go. Without developing endurance your body simply will not be able to
recover as well. Without flexibility and mobility you may be setting yourself
up for an injury, which derails your training.

If you're not keyed in on some of these others aspects, and keeping an eye on
staying healthy, its for nothing because you'll end up destroying your body.
For one, you won’t be able to train if you injure yourself, but down the road
you don't want to live with pain all the time. By working on mobility,
maintaining good flexibility and striving for some balance across the body
you’ll be healthier and pain-free. (Note that I don’t think you must strive for
being completely symmetrical. We naturally have a dominant hand, a better
eye and so on. But don’t let things get too out of balance which is where
problems can happen.)

There is also balance in life outside the gym. Many people train as a sort of
stress release. That’s all well and good, but realize you may get mental stress
relief only by causing physical stress.

Unless you are an athlete competing at the highest levels you can’t spend all
day and everything you do revolved around your training. And even then it
can only be for a certain period of time. By doing so the rest of your life
suffers. Just like you need to bring up all the attributes of fitness in order to
become the strongest and fittest possible, you need to bring up all areas of
your life in order to make it the best possible. There is always some areas of
focus more than others, but make sure you’re not neglecting what should not
be neglected.

With the happiness that comes from a balanced life you will have less stress
and be able to devote the time at hand for training, not worrying about work
or family while you’re trying to build strength.
Relaxation

In this fast paced world in can be hard to relax, unless you actually work on
it. Work to relax sounds like an oxymoron but it is a skill like anything else.
It needs to be practiced and done regularly until it is a habitual thing you do
everyday.

I mentioned this earlier in talking about how to get quality sleep. Meditation
is a way to relax the body and quiet the mind. When it comes to relaxation
there is two kinds, both physical and mental. You need both. It doesn’t take
anything fancy. Just sit or lay down comfortably. Close your eyes and move
down your body relaxing each piece one at a time. Clear your mind,
dismissing any thoughts that creep in about your day or what you have to do.
You can add visualization going to a safe and relaxing place. Spend at least
10 minutes each day doing something like this and your stress levels will go
down.

For more physical relaxation use hot water. This can be a hot shower, a bath
or the sauna. An advanced tip for recovery is using contrast bathing. Go from
hot to cold back and forth. This causes the blood to circulate faster (the heat
causing it to go out, the cold to draw in). With more blood circulation comes
better recovery.

Get a massage or some other manual body work. While massage chairs and
tools are great nothing takes the place of another human being, relaxing and
having your muscles worked on. The more you can do this the better.

Hydration

Everyone knows they should drink more water but few people actually do it.
The easy test of whether you are hydrated or not is to check the color of your
urine. Ideally it should only be a light yellow color. Any darkness to it is a
sure sign of dehydration. Some of the best times to drink water are right when
you wake up in the morning. Also any time you eliminate you can ingest an
equal amount of liquids.

Just like sleep and food, quantity is important but quality is equally so. Make
sure to get a high quality water filter at the very least. Better yet, and
something I’ve just began doing is to collect local fresh spring water directly
from the source. You can find a local spot by going to www.findaspring.com.

If you neglect your recovery you will not make progress. But all you have to
do is focus on the basics of sleep, relaxation, hydration and nutrition. Do
those well and you can add in the more advanced things.

I once heard the legendary wrestler Dan Gable speak and he talked about
working as hard at recovery as he did in his workouts. Recovery is often
neglected. Working as much on it as you do training in the gym is nearly
unheard of. But by doing so you’ll be able to train harder and progress faster.
7 - Toughness
Toughness
Workouts can be tough. This is easily seen physically. Yet what many people
miss is the mental toughness and fortitude that also comes with training. This
definitely comes with the severe training listing earlier but there is some
amount in all training.

No Pain, No Gain

We have all heard this saying but how much truth is there to it? The pain of
an injury is not what is being talked about. In this case, pain is your body
telling your mind that it does not like what it is being subjected to. It would
rather be sitting cozy by the fireplace, sipping hot chocolate. In your efforts
there will be times when you may want to quit. The pain of exercise is too
difficult to bear, especially in the case of endurance training. Your body feels
the pain and it tries to convince the mind that you can take it easy today. No
one is watching and you can make up the difference next session.

This can not happen. You have to fight for your strength. The is where the
rubber meets the road. To give in at this time is to deny your aspirations of
strength. Your willpower must prevail. Quitting is not an option.

You may think that this is not so important. After all there is always another
day to build your strength. While technically true, the gains in strength of
physical power is not the main point here. Your gains from this exercise will
cement even more in your mind how badly you desire your goal. Your
character will grow by leaps and bounds over normal men because you know
what it is like to reach deep down inside and keep going.

Will it be painful? Yes. Would it be easier to not go through life fighting


tooth and nail for what you want? Perhaps. But you are not reading this book
to stay in your comfort zone. You will pay the price, of blood, sweat, and
muscles screaming to get what you want.

Mental toughness should be side by side with building your physical strength.
Dan Gable, had a goal in every workout. That goal was to ‘push to collapse.’
He never hit that goal but by striving for it he became the greatest wrestler in
the world. Often times when he was about to leave the room he’d go back to
train more because he knew he had more left in him.

This is severe training at its best. Here you’ll find some additional ways of
pushing the limits when the time is right.
Finishers

A finisher is a specific exercise or combo of exercises you do at the end of


your workout where you go all out. Many examples include lifting odd
objects like sandbags and barrels, doing a clean and press for as many times
as you can; carrying and holding weights, a farmer’s walk or vehicle pushing
for distance.

Choose one exercise with a weight that is tough to handle. Then go all out on
it trying for as many reps, as long a distance or time as possible. Not only
will you build strength from this, and most times this will be more winding
than an all out sprint, but you’ll build toughness too.

Even though you’ve completed your main exercises for the workout this is
your chance to squeeze every last bit of effort out that you have. As always
with progression the next time you come to this workout you try to do just a
little more. The important part is not to give in, but to push until you really
can't do anymore.

Ask yourself whether your body failed you or your mind. If it was your mind,
meaning you gave up at some point, then you have failed it.
Challenge Workouts

And going beyond just finishers, you can every once in a while do a
challenge workout. A challenge workout is a fancy name for a big workout
with a big goal. Most often it requires you to hit a certain number of reps in
an exercise, or multiple exercises.

A lot of challenge workouts you’ll find take at least an hour to several hours
to complete. You normally don’t want to for more than an hour in any
workout but with a challenge workout it’s great to really test yourself to see
what you can do over a longer time.

For example, I had an odd object by the name of Big Red. It was used as an
anchor weight. It’s a large ball with two small handles on it. It’s roughly 160
pounds. My friend one day decided to do a challenge workout to clean and
push press it overhead 100 times in singles, however long it took. It ended up
taking him three or four hours. That was several years ago. But he just set out
to do the goal, no matter what it took, finished it, and it took a long time.

Then there’s my Ultimate Royal Court Challenge. That involved doing a 10


minute wrestlers bridge, 250 Hindu pushups and 1,000 Hindu squats. And
this was done as fast as possible, turned out to be a little more than an hour
when I did it, but just working up to and completing that challenge was a
huge goal and it took a lot of effort and toughness to go through that.

Bud Jeffries has done many challenge workouts. One of which was to lift a
150lb. dumbbell 1000 times, using different exercises.

The whole goal of the challenge workout is to see what you are capable of.
Its to test yourself, your physical and primarily mental toughness, to be able
to get through this. And like I said before, building this sort of toughness
allows you to train harder in your normal workouts because you know how
much further you can push yourself to that edge. Now, you don’t want to
push yourself to complete exhaustion to the point where you can’t perform
anything in a safe manner but you will have to push yourself hard.

With these workouts you’re going to be sore for quite some time afterwards.
Especially if you do exercises that you don’t normally do. You don’t want to
do these all the time. Once every month or every couple months works good.
If you are about to take a break from training for whatever reason, like
traveling or just some time to fully recover, end your streak with a challenge
workout.

It’s important to note that you do not need to work this hard in your average
workouts. In fact I believe it can be counterproductive to make every workout
a challenge. But every once in a while you need to push yourself to the limits
both physically and mentally.
The good thing about mental toughness is that it is much slower to disappear
then strength especially if you use some of the mental training techniques
discussed later. Not to say it won’t disappear if you let yourself go soft but as
long as you consistently train it’ll stay with you.

competition

Competition is another way to test you toughness. For some all the training is
done to come to that one single point. If you can’t lay it all on the line right
there then what have you been training for?

This takes mental and physical toughness. You need to be able to dig deep to
get every bit of effort out of yourself because your opponent will be doing the
same thing. Depending on what sort of competition you’re in it is something
very much similar to the challenge workout.

Also the competition can bring out the best in people. Few things will
motivate you more than knowing you’re about to go up against one or many
people that want the win as badly as you do. And when you are battling neck
and neck you must dig deep to access that extra deep inside you.

Its often a battle of wills as much as a battle of the physical body. If your
mind gives out you know what you need to concentrate on building. If you
body gives out you know what you need to concentrate on building.

Not to mention competition can be lots of fun. Plus with winning usually
comes rewards. Even if you have never competed I would encourage to do
so. It is one of the best ways to grow.

Consistency

Have you ever battled with skipping workouts? Here’s an example where
belief can make a big difference. It’s just a choice you’re going to make. Sure
there are emergencies every once in a while if you get sick or injured or
having to travel. You may have to change things around then, but in general,
there’s not going to be times where you come home from work and it’s a
normal day when you would train and you just think, “I don’t feel like it
today.”
Missing a workout is a choice. Decide that you’re going to be the person that
never misses a workout. It really is that simple. Since you’re reading this
obviously you enjoy training and you want to succeed doing it. Make that
choice and you just stop missing workouts. It doesn’t even become an issue.
You think, “It’s time to workout.” Not, “Should I or shouldn’t I?” You just
do it. Sometimes you may still think that but you just decide to act despite
that voice talking. Forget about it, just do the workout. It’s simply a choice
you have to make.

There is a difference in taking an extra day of rest because you need it and
skipping a workout. Be honest with yourself and you’ll know the answer. If
you feel any guilt then you know it’s not about getting more rest. The
discipline of training regularly by itself builds mental toughness.

But it extends beyond that too. In order to get anywhere, to get results you
can’t fall into the “Magic Pill” mentality. That is take a pill and overnight
you’ll way up slim and fit. Training takes time in order to get results. And in
order to get the results you need to be consistent. This consistency extends
from weeks to months to years to decades. If you’re consistent with
something for that length of time there is no question as to your results, as
long as you’re following the other keys.

Your training and workouts won’t be the same from one year to the next.
That would be stupid, as you are ever evolving and will need to focus on
different things. But the basics will all be there and you will gain over time.
Be patient for results and know that they will come. Yet at the same time do
all you can to get there faster.

Persistence

True strength takes persistence. You do not wake up one day with super
strength. It takes years of effort. Perhaps this is not what you would what to
hear. Too bad. There is no shortcut. You can get the best quality information,
have the best training plan, and obtain the highest quality of nutrition and
rest. Even with all this it will take time. No overnight success.

You can not grow by leaps and bounds in a single day, except in very rare
circumstances. However, you can easily grow by leaps and bounds in a
couple of months if you do it right. Many people you see hit the gym will lift
the same weights year after year. You must not be one of them. Found within
them is something lacking.

The first step in becoming strong is to decide to do it. Place all your energy,
all your will power, all your effort, everything behind that goal. How far can
you take it? Take a moment to think about what is truly possible within the
world of strength. Every record can and will be broken. Seemingly
impossible stunts have been performed by many to the utter amazement of
others that do not understand. If you can conceive of an idea, and beyond a
shadow of a doubt believe in it, it can be achieved.

Every time an unbreakable record is broken people say it will not be broken
again, yet it always is. Those that have come before you are merely paving
the path for what can be done in the future. Observe those great people that
you wish to emulate. With time and much effort you can surpass their deeds.

When you train from day to day you have a goal of improvement. Remember
a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Eventually you will
reach your goal of great strength. By simple progression over time you will
become victorious. Persistence and consistency will make it so.
8 - Mental Training
Mental Training
I’m sure at some point in your life you’ve heard a story of an old lady finding
her son trapped under a vehicle. She lifts the vehicle with one hand and pulls
her son out with the other. I’ve heard this story so many times I’m not sure
whether it’s true. But similar incidents have happened before.

It makes you wonder. How does someone unleash this raw strength that they
never had before, and never will have again, just in that moment there? Is that
power there for everyone? Most importantly how do you unlock it for your
use when you want it?

The legendary strongman, the Mighty Atom which you can read about in his
biography, The Spiritual Journey of Joseph L. Greenstein, has another
interesting story. At one point in his career, he brought a person from the
audience on stage. He hypnotized him and then that person was able to bend
a nail just like the Mighty Atom could, without ever having done it before,
without ever being able to do it again. He was hypnotized, led to believe he
could actually do it, and then he could.

And just one more example of how much the mind itself, even without
training, can make you stronger. A study was conducted, using a simple
exercise involving the lifting of a single finger with some sort of resistance.
(They used a simple exercise like this to eliminate other variables.) They split
up the participants into three groups. They had the control group, which did
nothing. Another group lifted the finger for 12 times a day with the
resistance. And the third group didn’t do any training; they just imagined
lifting the finger 12 times a day.

The results were as follows. The control group had zero change as expected.
The group that actually exercised, lifted the finger, had an average increase of
strength of 27 percent. Now, the third group, the one that just imagined doing
the exercise had the average increase in strength of 24 percent. That’s very
close to the results from actual lifting, only 3 percent difference, without
lifting a finger (pun intended).
Unfortunately they didn’t have a group that imagined as well as actually
doing the exercise, so I’m curious what that would have found. But that right
there shows you the power of the mind in making yourself stronger. Almost
identical results from imagining training as just training itself.

These stories, they show the power the mind has even over physical things.
The mind is still a big mystery even in this day and age. But the training that
we do, it’s a method of trying to unlock this power. Here you’ll find more on
utilizing this power for faster gains.

Sadly, many people think training is only about the physical. But it is not. In
fact, to achieve great results you need a full body integration of the physical,
mental, energetic and even spiritual. That is what this chapter begins to
uncover.

Beliefs

What would you dream of doing in your training if you knew anything was
possible? If you knew there was no limits? How fast could you make
progress?

People may think beginners can make a huge amount of progress. And they
can. But even people that have been training a long time and they’re up
toward what seems to be the limits, where you can only add a couple pounds
a month to a lift, are you really limiting yourself by believing that’s how it
has to be?

What if you could make dramatic gains again? By applying these techniques
you can allow yourself to make some unbelievable gains once more.

If you believe you’re going to be able to do something, the chances of you


doing it are much greater than when you do not believe you can do it. It’s a
night and day difference. So you want to instill in yourself the belief that not
only are you going to get stronger, you’re going to get much stronger, much
faster.

I tell people that “I can’t get sick.” I know that’s not true from past record,
but it becomes more true all the time. I don’t get sick except in rare instances
that take outside influences. Even then its very infrequent and I haven’t had a
cold in well over a year.

By believing I never get sick, that helps my mind and my body to act as if
that is true. It’s a good thing to actually set that belief in yourself that you
never get sick, but you must also do the actions that make that it so.

It’s the same thing in your training, believing that you are super strong.
Believe you are Superman even. Believe you’re going to get stronger just
from a single training session to the next, that you’re going to be massively
more successful all the time. That your personal records fall daily. After all
why shouldn’t they? Believe that you’re doing the right steps to make this all
happen.

Set these beliefs in yourself. You don’t want to be cocky about it, you don’t
even have to talk to anybody else about these beliefs. But by believing them
that’s going to set things in motion and it’s going to help you. By believing in
something, you’re going to start doing actions that are consistent with it.
When you have the desire and the useful beliefs behind you, you can become
unstoppable.

On the flip side you likely have beliefs that are holding you back. I hope in
the reading of this book some of your beliefs were challenged and overcome
with a more useful belief that will aid rather than hinder you. If you spend
more time analyzing limiting beliefs you have you can uncover them in
yourself and replace them with something superior.

Visualizing

I want to go deep into how to specifically use visualizing to increase your


training gains. This is what those finger lifters did in their study.

You may have tried some sort of visualizing at some point in your life. It’s
really simple to do. Some people think they can’t visualize but if you can
imagine anything, you can visualize.

Let’s go to an example of just a single lift. Close your eyes, picture the
approach, getting ready exactly as you would if you were actually
approaching the bar. Get set, get ready, and then do a flawless lift. If you can
do that, you’ve successfully visualized yourself doing an exercise.

Its called visualization which is actually a poor choice of words because that
implies you just see it. It’s important to see it especially since most people are
dominantly visual. But you really want to actually feel your muscles activate,
feel the weight on you, whatever it is, feel yourself doing the exercise. Don’t
just see yourself, feel it, because its important to connect the mind to the
body with all the kinesthetics of it.

We have sight and feel but you need to go further. Add sounds of the bar
moving, your breathing or the noise around you. If you can add smell all the
better. What does the gym smells like? Incorporate all the senses.

This all takes practice. Visualizing is a skill like any other, so don‘t think
you‘ll become a master of it overnight. Pick one thing at a time and work on
it. And work to continually get better. When you can make the image in your
mind as real as the real thing then you will get great results from it. (The
study participants were also likely untrained in visualizing but still got
dramatic results from it. What would happen if you became real good at
visualizing AND did the proper physical training too?)

Before An Exercise Above was a visualization for a single rep of a lift. Take
a moment, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and see yourself successfully
completing the lift.

But what if you do more than a single? If I’m going for eight reps in an
exercise, I’ll visualize myself doing 10 or 12 reps, going above and beyond.
Now, I’m not likely to hit that 12 reps if I’m doing something difficult, but by
visualizing that my body is better prepared to go higher. It’s more likely to hit
those eight reps or more than if I just visualize myself doing eight.

The mind can’t tell the difference between something vividly imagined and
reality. So if you do this right, you just did an exercise 12 times in your mind.
Then getting to eight is going to be easier because your body and mind think
they need to have the energy to go farther.

You’re much more likely to hit your goal of eight, or even go beyond it
further. You may find yourself after visualizing 12 maybe you hit 9, 10, 11 or
even 12 instead of just 8. It happens. Try it and see how it works for you. Do
this right before you do any exercise.

Before Your Workout Even before you begin a workout it’s a good time to
visualize. Picture the end of the workout, being happy that you’ve succeeded,
that you’ve hit your goals for the workout, whatever they are. That you’ve
had a very successful workout and you’re happy with the result of it.

Take a few deep breaths, get inside your body and picture yourself
celebrating, just throwing your hands in the air, letting out a yell, whatever
you do when you’re happy you’ve done something. Picture yourself doing
that at the end of the workout. Get into the feeling of accomplishment.
Perhaps you’re tired and sweaty but you feel good for what you’ve just
completed.

If you do this right, you’re going to be doing exactly what you visualized at
the end of the workout because you’re going to have a successful workout
that will lead to that celebration and feeling of accomplishment.

After Workout After the workout is another good time to visualize. Take a
moment, collect yourself, with deep breathing once again, and visualize what
the workout is going to do for you. Because your body may be tired, a lot of
the time at the end of your workout you’re actually going to be in an altered
state from everything that went on. This makes it an ideal time to visualize
because it’ll have a bigger impact as your conscious defenses are down.

See how down the road you’ll be much stronger. Now is a great time to
visualize yourself hitting the goals you want. See yourself achieving your one
big main goal.

Also, visualize what you’re going to be able to do next workout. So even


right now you’re planting the seed, the next time you hit the same exercises
that little bit stronger you’re going to be. The little bit more you’re going to
be able to do. Plant that seed in your mind at the end of your workout.

Before Eating Whenever you’re eating after the workout, take the time to
visualize again. Always think of what the nutrients in the food are going to do
for you. How they’re going to build you up to make you stronger. How
they’re going to supply the muscles with the needed nourishment that they
need and they’re going to allow you to rebuild, replenish, and be stronger the
next time you come around. Never just mindlessly eat your food. Think about
and feel what it’ll do for you. If your goal is to lose weight picture how the
food you eat just supplies your needs and no more. How you will look in a
month’s time or a few months down the road?

You can visualize at anytime as you have found in many different ways.
Work towards your goals and make it happen.
Flow

Have you ever been in a space where everything seemed to flow for you?
Where everything went perfectly? In physical endeavors but also in the rest
of your life. A time where you went around and everything was effortless?

Getting into this state in your training is something that we can actually go
about setting up. We can do certain things to help us to get to this flow in our
training. The main part about doing this is setting up some sort of pattern.
And by setting this pattern and going through the pattern each day it’s going
to prep your mind, your body, for the workout ahead.

First off, is to workout at the same time every day. This way your body
knows what’s coming and even before you get into training if you really set
this pattern then your body’s going to know that it’s time to train. It’s going
to ramp up and be ready to give it it’s all at that period. Maybe it doesn’t
have to be the exact same time, but I think it’d actually be more powerful if
you trained at exactly 4:00 every single day, for instance. If this pattern is set
when that time comes your body becomes accustom to working for the next
hour or so. Since its primed you‘ll work better.

Its the same if you train in the same place every day, the same environment,
your body is going to be ready. It’s going to be ready to go all out at that
moment, just stepping into the training area. But in order to do this you have
to only go there when you’re ready to train. If you have a sanctuary where the
only time you use it is to train, just stepping inside will trigger your body’s
response. If you do a warmup, by doing it the same each time you also set in
the pattern.
Successful gyms are more successful for this reason. Everyone that comes in
is serious about results and they get them. This sets within the gym a pattern
of strength and achieving real results. That’s why I tell people you can’t help
but to become stronger and better by setting foot in my gym.

There is something to be said for training at random times in all different


places. Depending on your goals (like combat readiness) this may be better
suited to you. You can do this occasionally but set up the pattern as above for
the most part and you’ll get the benefits of doing so.

After having trained for many years always listening to music I made the
switch to listening to nothing. I found this enhanced my training as I could
focus completely of the lifting at hand. Music can take your focus off of what
you’re doing. It can take you away from being inside your body and being all
in the moment right there. Personally I listen to music most of the day long as
I work. So by shutting it off for my training I feel I get better results. I know
I’m better able to focus. I urge you to try it if you regularly listen to music
when you train.

But if you can’t have silence or you choose not to, the proper music can help
you train. So if you train in a commercial gym, then having your own music
is definitely better than listening to whatever is on or listening to mindless
chatter of the people around you.

Some music may be better suited than others. I’ve heard people say that
training to classical music is good. There have been studies that say classical
music can help you in learning. If you think about learning the skills of
strength, then that’s may apply toward that. Plus there are no lyrics to distract
you.

Many people, myself included, enjoy heavier music like rock n’ roll and
metal. It can be useful and definitely there is advantage in it because it can
get you pumped up, get you ready to go in the zone. This may be suited to
you.

As before, to set the pattern, if you are going to use music, use the same
music every time. For a long period before, I always trained using the same
disk of classical music. As soon as I heard that first song my body it knew
what was going to come upon it in the next hour. This is so well established
that when I hear that song today I have a physiological response to it.

I recommend experimenting with different types of music and silence and see
how they work for you. Work to set a pattern and use it to your advantage.

Anchoring

The patterns discussed before are known as anchors. Anchoring is setting


something in motion so that every time it happens an expected result comes
about.

Time + Place + Music = Good Workout Ahead

Anchoring is making a connection between one thing and another, often


unrelated thing, for your benefit. (It can also be used detrimentally but we are
not trying to do that here.) You set and then fire off these anchors. Besides
the patterns above there are a couple other ways you can use anchors in your
training.

The easiest way is by doing something physical on your body that doesn‘t
normally happen. The one I use is tapping my third eye three times with three
fingers of my right hand. Or you could tap yourself on the inside of the left
wrist three times. Any specific motion on your body that you can do, but you
wouldn’t normally have this happen anytime. Making a fist wouldn’t work
because you make a fist throughout the day for any variety of reasons. It has
to be unique enough that it only applies in this one instance. What we want to
set is:

Anchored Motion = Successful Lift or Exercise

In order for this to work every time you trigger the anchor you then have to
do a successful lift. If you have an unsuccessful lift then you’re setting the
wrong anchor. It might still work if you’ve been doing it for a long time and
miss once, but if its new it won’t. Better to drop it and start fresh with a new
anchor.

Anchors can actually be set fairly quickly. Two or three times is all it’ll take
to get it running according to experts. Once its set, you then trigger the
anchor and it’ll give you an edge in the exercise ahead. Now, this isn’t going
to allow you to do anything like suddenly double your squat just because
you’ve set an anchor, it has to be within reason. But I have seen some
amazing results.

You can use the same anchor for any exercise. Doing a single, conditioning,
doing several reps, any successful exercise. But once again, you have to keep
it consistent and consistently succeeding in it.

Let me talk a bit about what you should do when you miss the lift. Depending
on your training, you may sometimes just happen to miss a lift. But it’s
something you want to go back and try again. So what can you do to help
make you stronger, to make you more successful the next time around?

Once again, step back, take a few deep breaths, visualize a successful lift. If
you didn’t do it beforehand use your anchor right here. Really get your mind
right, know that you’re going to succeed. Sometimes you rush mindlessly
into these things and for one reason or another that is what stops you from
making a lift. If it’s something hard, just take a moment and feel yourself in
your mind doing the lift successfully. Know that you’re going to do it the
same way, then go and approach it the real thing in that state.

I can’t say this stuff works 100 percent of the time, but the more you practice
these mental tactics, the better they will work for you. And when you
combine it with quality training, that’s when your results really explode.

Psyching Up

Depending on what you’re going for, and your personality as well, using
different emotions in your training may be better suited to you. A lot of
people, they like to get angry, get psyched up and go crazy before attacking
the weight. And for things like heavy singles, I think it works a lot better as
opposed to doing high rep sets.

With high rep sets if you get psyched up and angry, you’re going to burn out
fast and you’re not going to have the endurance to stay with it. So if you’re
doing heavy singles and that works for you, getting yourself really psyched
up and fired up, that can help you.

You don’t need to outwardly show emotion; it can all be inside. You can be
getting pumped up on the inside just thinking about what you have to do, but
it doesn’t need to be displayed overtly in an outside manner. Psyching up has
its uses.

But most of the time you want to have a sort of relaxed calm, and be like the
Tai Chi master. Calm yet powerful. Seemingly relaxed but with a lot of
power behind it. You can even approach your entire workout in this sort of
manner, a Zen state, just going through doing things flawlessly, getting into
that flow.

Being able to control your emotional state, that is something that’s going to
help you improve your training. Learn how to summon all your energies at
once but also how to relax instantly. Using emotions can be a quick way to
do this.

Stacking

I’ve just given you a variety of psychological tactics you can use to enhance
your training. If you’ve never done any of these before I recommend you
pick just one and use it for a period of time until its working for you and
you’re doing it regularly. Then select another tactic to apply.

If you just started off doing everything you might get overloaded and fail to
follow through. So stick with one or two tactics at a time until they become a
regular part of your routine.

But the real power comes when you apply everything. When you stack all
these powerful tactics together. Here’s an example of how it works in action.

You go to train at the regular time in the same place as usual. You have your
goals for the workout and you know just what you need to do to progress in
every exercise.

Just by having the belief and knowing you’re successful you’ll get through
most exercises improving without much effort. But when you get to an
exercise you have to try hard on, you know what to do. You take a few
breaths and visualize yourself succeeding or even going above and beyond.
You set in yourself the belief that you can’t fail. You fire your anchor and do
the exercise. Of course, you successfully do what you set out to accomplish.

Realize what’s going on here particularly with the anchor. By stacking the
beliefs and visualization with the anchor, you are effectively increasing its
power. Apply everything you’ve learned and your results will sky rocket.

There is much more to using your mind along with your body then I’ve
revealed here. This chapter barely scratches the surface, yet used regularly
these tactics will provide amazing results. I plan to give you many more as
well as in much more depth in an upcoming course, Think and Grow Strong.
9 - AllAll-Around Training
All Around Training
We’ve covered a lot of material that surrounds working out to make it more
effective. Now it’s time to actually get to the exercises and what is involved
in any successful training. What makes certain exercises better than others?
What do you need to be sure to include? And how do you put it all together?

What we’ve covered so far is the foundation to the actual training. Just like a
house, without a firm foundation, you won’t be able to build anything on top
of it. And if you do try, you’re setting yourself up for trouble. Here we start
to build the framework of your training.

Compound Movements

Look at all successful training programs out there. One thing they all have in
common is the focus on the big, basic exercises also known as compound
movements. These exercise place the stress across many muscles and joints.

This is as opposed to isolation exercises, common among bodybuilding these


days, that focus on a single muscle at a time. Perhaps there is some benefit in
doing this for bringing up weaknesses, or in rehab situations. They do have
their place but certainly not to the exclusion of the compound movements.
But for the most part isolation exercises are a waste of energy. Why focus on
knee flexion when you can do squats which work the legs completely, not to
mention the stress placed on the rest of the body?

Compound movements are also a time saver. You don’t need an exercise for
each individual muscle. Instead a few well picked exercises go a long way.
Back when I did bodybuilding, before I knew any better, my leg workouts
involved squats, leg presses, leg curls and leg extensions. Had I dropped the
last three exercises and only focused on squats I would have made much
better progress and spent far less time in the gym.

You’ll notice that almost all the exercises found in this book are of this
nature. Even those that are done in seemingly isolation can engage the whole
body.

And with this you don’t have to do a body split, again common to a
bodybuilder’s training. You can even work your full body each and everyday,
you just need to do it right. After all, where would you place a gymnastic
bridge in a bodybuilding split? Back, arms or legs because it works all of the
above.

Press, Pull, Squat

You must cover the whole body with various exercises that you do. Have you
heard about the classic bodybuilder mistake? A guy goes into the gym with
the mirrors surrounding every single wall, and he works on two things: doing
the bench press and then curls, just the chest and biceps until they're inflated.
Nothing else gets worked except maybe the abs. The things he can see in the
mirror, but nothing on the back side. What's most important, though, is the
legs and then the back. This is were the majority of your muscle, and
strength, lays. There's much more muscle on the back than on the front side
of your torso, but its not so easy to see in a mirror.

I don't want to go into an anatomy discussion and talk about all the muscles,
but just briefly, for the upper body, you have the arms, forearms, shoulders,
chest, back, traps and abs. And with the lower body, you've got the quads,
glutes, hamstrings, and the calves.

If you could only pick three exercises, what you would want is some form of
squat, most importantly, then an upper-body pushing movement and an
upper-body pulling movement. And actually, very good routines can come
off of just these three movements alone. That's the primary movements of the
body: some sort of squat, a push from the upper body, and a pull from the
upper body.

To add a bit more, you will also want to do a lower body pull. This can be a
deadlift but also the kettlebell swings, cleans and snatches. By focusing on
just a few exercises that give you the biggest bang for you buck you’ll go
much further than trying to do every exercise under the sun.

Strength and Conditioning


Earlier we addressed all the different attributes of fitness. Two of the main
ones to be addressed here are strength and conditioning. Often times these
attributes are separated in training. You have your strength training and then
you have cardio or conditioning, often done in that order.

In many cases this is fine. With the focus on strength you’ll get stronger.
With the focus on endurance you’ll get better conditioned. The problem
arises when you think of these as black and white. Instead strength and
conditioning is a continuum. And much of your work should be in the middle
or partially skewed to one side or another.

If you take some of the exercises listed in this book you’ll find they build
strength along with conditioning at the same time. Bodyweight squats,
kettlebell swings and snatches and many other moves are good examples.
Depending on the person, they can fail on these exercises either in their
strength or wind. When you blend the two you get better results and again it
can be a time saver. You don’t need a 45 minute strength workout, followed
by an hour running on a treadmill. Doing that is in most cases stupid and
wasteful. Instead try a ten minute snatch test and ask yourself what isn’t
worked by the end of that time frame IF you can even last that long.

A different approach that has the same outcome is to work your exercises in a
non-stop fashion. This can be done with circuits. By moving quickly from
one exercise to another with little to no rest you can seriously focus on your
strength and your conditioning at the same time. When starting out with this
you may see some drop in each, but as you train it you’ll find you can exert
close to maximal strength even while sucking wind. This method is
commonly called metabolic conditioning. Like anything it can be overdone
but it is a great way to get the best of both worlds.

This is the basic premise of training for strength and endurance. For much
more on the subject check out my upcoming course, Never Quit
Conditioning.

Variety

Consistency is a big part of training. If you always change what you’re doing
you won’t go far. But you do need some variety in your training.
If you follow the same training all the time, even in a progressive manner, at
some point the body becomes adapted to the exercises themselves and
progress may slow. By introducing some variety in the movements you can
circumvent this issue. Bench pressing a barbell is very different from doing
pushups, yet they essentially work the same muscles. But you need to stay
consistent enough with your exercises to make progress. Don’t fall into the
trap of thinking you need to confuse your muscles by doing something
different every single week.

Train with a variety of implements and methods. Don't say I'm a bodyweight
guy and I don't do anything but bodyweight exercises. That’s stupid because
other tools have many advantages that bodyweight exercises don’t have.
Bodyweight exercises are great. I was there for a while and I think you
should work on mastering your own body first to a certain degree before
using other implements. But other tools can offer different benefits. Different
training methods give different benefits. Maybe you lift weights, but
bodyweight exercises can offer benefits weights can not. You don't have to
abandon one system for another. Adding just a few minutes or exercises can
do tremendous things. Get the benefits without devoting a lot of time or
study. Its worth it.

Another idea is to always try new things, like when you randomly play a
sport with friends when you haven't done it in a long time. This may show
you some weak points you have that you may want to address. Its the same
with strength training. If you try a new implement or go a new direction, like
working explosive movements this can point out weaknesses. By working on
your weak points you'll become a better athlete. Now you don't want to
change your routine all the time but adding something here or there can help.
And just a set of one move can be all that’s needed to bring up a lacking
attribute or imbalance.

Neglected Areas

There's are many areas of the body that are often neglected in training. First
off is the neck. This area is very important for the reason that neck is what
holds your head onto your body. Obviously, it's not going to fall off if you
don't train it, but it's important to keep the spine and all the muscles
surrounding it strong. It's going to make everything run better. So some sort
of neck training should also be added and it doesn't take long. When I talk
about training, you can do a single exercise, spend a couple minutes during
your routine, and that will cover your neck training for the day. That's all you
really need. And by doing this once or twice a week and you'd be good.

Same thing with the hands. Now, some people, like myself, they really get
into training the hands after neglecting it for so many years. You can have a
lot of fun with it. The hands can move in so many different ways, and that's
why there's so many different possible movements you can do. You have a
crushing grip, pinching grip, support grip, wrist extension and flexion, and a
variety of other movements. There's so many other ways to train the hands
including many feats of strength. But if you're not into that, you still should
be training your hands, even if it's something as simple as using a gripper and
maybe some sort of wrist flexion and extension plus some movement for the
thumbs.

One more area that people often neglect is training the feet. Now, there are
many ways you can do this. If you just do some sort of running or sprints, the
foot flexing and extending gets a lot of action in running. There are other
ways to do it even if it's just some isometrics, pressing into the ground from
different positions. Throwing in some direct calve work if you’re feeling its
neglected may be a good idea.

These are the most often neglected areas. But if you are neglecting anything
else make sure to add that in too.
Balanced Training

An important factor is to make sure you balance out your exercise. Right now
I’m talking about working your muscles in both directions. You want to work
all your muscles in both ways, that's extending and flexing.

Lets start with the upper body presses and pulls. You’ll want to pay attention
to the position the press and pulls are from. I believe the most important
angle is vertical pushing and pulling. Standing presses and pullups for
example. A horizontal press and pull would include bench presses or pushups
and bent over rows. Its good to work multiple angles but if you only do one
press and pull I recommend going overhead.
This flexion and extension applies to all parts of the body. In any move you
will be working both as you do a positive and negative in the exercise. But
one is always the primary driver.

Same things with the hands. Most exercises involve flexion of the fingers in
various manners. But you should also be working the extension, and this is as
simple as throwing on some rubber bands over the fingers and just opening
up your hand. There's many other ways you can do it, but that's a simple way
to work out the opposite muscles and that build them up.

By doing this, you're less likely to suffer injuries. But also because these
muscles aren't lagging so far behind now that you're training them, your
strength for the flexion movements, the threshold of how far that can go will
be increased because it's not held back by weak extensors. Your body doesn't
like imbalances, but they're going to develop if you only train in one
direction. By starting to train in the other direction, it can act as if you‘re
taking the brakes off, and that takes away the limits of what your strength can
do going the other way.

It's important to really balance out the body as best as you can. If you are out
of balance you may need to do two to ten times the work in one direction
over the other. Any imbalances you do have, when you find these things you
should work on fixing them. If you notice that your shoulders are rolled
forward, maybe you've been benching too much and you should work rows
more. Work the body in the opposite manner to correct this.

Now that we’re getting to the exercises you’ll see everything we’ve discussed
come to light.
10 - Exercises
Exercises
The exercises listed in this book cover a variety of different tools and
methods. This is because every training tool has its place. There are benefits
and drawbacks to each one and these are spelled out so you can go from
there.

Books are probably the worst way to learn how to properly do exercises.
Therefore the descriptions are kept to a minimum. I suggest you find a coach,
or at the very least pickup DVD’s that can go into more depth and actually
show you how the exercises are done. Still there are a few tips to get you
started if you have never done them before, but I’m guessing that you will
have done many of these exercises. Nothing overly complex here. Just a
focus on the basics.
Barbells
Barbells are a classic tool of strength. As they are balanced they allow for the
most amount of weight to be used in just about any exercise. They are made
to be lifted. This allows you to take the big compound exercises and load
them progressively heavier all the time.

With this they’re also great for partial movements. This will only be touched
on in this book but partials are one of the keys for attaining the greatest
strength possible as you’re able to maximally load small ranges of
movement.

With small plates you can also micro load getting the exact amount of weight
you need. With a barbell and dumbbells you can easily progress from one
weight to another which is not always the case in other training tools.

The drawback to barbells is that they do take some space. For many exercises
you’ll also want a power rack as well as a big stack of plates.

And the barbell, the way its usually used, tends to build strength only in a
straight line. That is good in that is where maximum force can be produced
but few athletics only work in straight lines. The body doesn’t quite get the
coordination it gets from some of the other training tools.

Dumbbells won’t be addressed in this book though many similar exercises to


those shown can be done using them.
Squat

The squat is known as the king of exercises, for building full body strength
and adding on tons of muscle. This is because it targets the legs, the biggest
muscles in the body. In addition your body is going to need to support the
large weight while the exercise is being done.
1. Using a power rack you’ll load up the bar with the weight to be used.
2. Get under the bar with it balanced from right to left.
3. Raise it up and step back.
4. Get your feet approximately shoulder width apart. Some people like to go a
little wider. Find the stance that works for you. You can have parallel feet or
shift the toes out a bit.
5. Sit back and down with a straight back, mostly upright. Lower under
control.
6. Go to parallel or rock bottom in depth.
7. Then stand back up. That constitutes one rep.

Extra Tips
Do not raise up on the heels.
Do not let the knees bow in or out. Have the knees track over the toes.
Do not have the knees extend far over the feet.
It is helpful to breathe in before you descend in order to help stabilize the
torso.
Deadlift

The deadlift is another great mass building exercise. There is just something
great about picking a heavy object off the ground. This works the back, legs
and grip.

1. Setup a barbell with weight on the ground.


2. Bend down flexing at the knees and the hips. Maintain a shoulder width
stance.
3. Grip the bar with a normal grip or reverse grip if going heavy.
4. Maintaining a straight back come to a standing position pulling the bar off
the ground.
5. Lower down.

Extra Tips
Do not let your back round. As you get use to the deadlift you may be able to
do this but it should be avoided for safety reasons when you’re starting out.
You can experiment with a wider stance, known as a sumo deadlift, after
you’ve practiced the conventional deadlift. In this exercise your hands and
arms will be on the inside of your legs.
Row

The row is the classic back builder done with a barbell. It allows you to use a
heavy weight to target the lats and the rest of the back as well as the biceps.

1. Setup the barbell on the ground.


2. Bend over from the hips with the knees slightly flexed.
3. Grip the bar with hands slightly outside shoulder width.
4. Holding your body tight pick up the weight of the ground.
5. Pull with your back and arms until the barbell comes up to your torso.
6. Lower the weight back to a hang.

Extra Tips
Do not heave the weight when you are starting out. Focus on doing this move
in control even pausing at the top position. Maintain a straight back as you
row.
Experiment with you hand width and where you pull the weight to such as
your stomach or your chest.
Curl

The curl is the most loved and hated exercise in existence. Those in
commercial gyms love it and spend all their time on it. Those who’ve gone to
alternative and hardcore training hate it for that reason. But the curl can be an
effective movement building more than just the biceps.

1. Setup a barbell in the rack or on the ground.


2. Pick it up with your palms facing away from your hands shoulder width or
slightly further apart.
3. Using the arms curl the weight until its next to your shoulders.

Extra Tips
Do not cheat curl. Keep this strict to begin with using your arms. Do not use
your legs to drive, bend your back or anything else to help the weight get up.
If this doesn’t feel good on your elbows or wrists you can get an EZ curl bar
which has a more natural position, use dumbbells instead, or just focus on
other exercises.
Press

Although the curl is good I think a much better test of strength is to put a
weight overhead. The military press does that focusing on the upper body
without much involvement, besides a base of support, from the lower body.

1. Clean the barbell or take it off a power rack with the palms facing out.
2. Hands should be slightly outside shoulder width.
3. Brace the body enough to have a stable base to push from.
4. Press the barbell overhead coming to a complete lockout.
5. Lower down and repeat.

Extra Tips
Do not arch your back as your press turning this into a standing bench press.
Do not bend your knees and drive the barbell up with them. That would turn
this into a push press which is another good exercise, but not what we’re
doing here.
Bench Press

In my first draft of this book I forgot to include the bench press. That reflects
how often I do it. Not to say it’s not a good strength and mass building
exercise. It is. But I prefer to stand up to lift weights not lay on my back. Still
it works the chest particularly and the shoulders and arms in another plane
then overhead work which is important. The pictures depict a variation of the
bench press known as a floor press (as I don‘t currently have a bench in my
gym). This is actually a partial movement. Some people find it works well
not to cause shoulder pain.

1. Lay down on a bench (or floor) with the barbell on the stands overhead.
2. Lift it off the supports with a firm grip keeping the arms locked out to be
sure you’re secured. Hands should be just outside shoulder width.
3. Lower the bar to the lower chest.
4. Press the weight back up to lockout. Repeat
Extra Tips
Do not allow you elbows to flare out to the sides. This can place undue stress
on the shoulders which may cause rotator cuff problems down the road.
Do not bounce the bar off your chest
You can arch your back, and tighten up your body, but may want to focus on
the rest of the exercise when first starting out.
Partials

Partials are any number of the above movements done in a partial range of
motion for a specific purpose. By limiting the range you can handle higher
weights thus overloading the body. This can help build strength in a number
of ways and is deserving of an entire book in itself.

Generally partials are for more advanced lifters as beginners should focus on
building strength in a full range of motion. Some ideas for partials with
barbells include:

Rack Pull (a Partial Deadlift) - Done in a power rack with the bar set on the
pins so you only have to lift it an inch (the Hand and Thigh Lift), a quarter
distance, half or three quarters. This one is pictured here.
Partial Squat - Set the rack pins at a higher height. Squat to this height and
back up.
Partial Press - Start the press higher than normal. Can be great for developing
strength in the sticking points or lockout strength.
Partial Row - Rarely seen but great for even stronger back power.
Partial Bench Press - Sometimes done with boards resting on the chest
(Board Press), you can also use a power rack. The floor press demonstrated
earlier is also a partial.
Kettlebells
Kettlebells have come into popularity recently, primarily through the work of
Pavel Tsatsouline making them popular once again. But that doesn’t mean
they’re new. They’ve been around for many years and in some places have
been used all along.

The kettlebell has the weight offset from the center of the mass. This allows
you to do certain things with it and makes it stand apart from the dumbbell.
With the weight as it is in many cases it sits better against the arm making
some exercises easier to do, and allowing you to go further in others.

In addition the true beauty of the kettlebell is when it is used for ballistic
exercises. While dumbbells can be used, the offset mass amplifies the effect.
The ballistic exercises as described below are used to build explosiveness as
well as go for high repetitions building strength and conditioning at the same
time.

Other exercises can be done with the kettlebell using it similarly to a


dumbbell. In many of these exercises there is no real benefit, and due to the
inability to micro-load kettlebells, dumbbells may be a better choice. And for
some exercises, like the curl, the kettlebell is a poor choice.

They’re not magical, but they’re fun to use and can easily be incorporated
into any training regimen. The benefits alone from the ballistic exercises
make this one of my top training tools.
Swing
The foundation of the ballistic exercises is the swing. The kettlebell is swung
between the legs and then upwards, from hip to head high. Depending on
your goals more explosiveness can be emphasized or not, allowing for more
endurance. What this move is not, is a front raise done with the shoulders.
The kettlebell swing works the posterior chain, that is the legs up through the
back, like little else does. While the swing looks easy, there is a lot of detail
in mastering the move.

1. Stand with feet approximately shoulder width apart.


2. Bend down and grab the kettlebell with both hands.
3. Hike the kettlebell back.
4. When it reaches the top of the backswing allow it to come through.
5. Explode upwards snapping from the hips.
6. The kettlebell should reach about chest height before falling back down.
7. Repeat for several repetitions without stop.

Extra Tips
Do not raise the kettlebell with you arms. The driving force is your hips.
Do not allow the kettlebell to pull you off balance. The kettlebell swing can
be done explosively or more relaxed. Different effects and reasons govern
both.
Experiment with the height of your swings, going hip high, chest high and
head high.
Do two hands, one hand or alternating swings.
The swing can use more of a hinge-style as shown here or incorporate more
of the legs by squatting. Experiment to find what works best for you.
Clean

I don’t use the clean as an exercise in an of itself, though some people do.
Instead the clean is used to set yourself up for presses, jerks and any variety
of racked or overhead movements. The basis on the clean is the swing, except
you use your arm to maneuver the bell safely into place.

1. Start the clean as if you were doing a swing. In fact, you can pre-swing the
kettlebell a few times before doing the clean.
2. Still using the hip drive, pull up with the arm getting the kettlebell to land
softly on the arm in the rack position.

Extra Tips
Do not allow the kettlebell to travel up and over, crashing down against your
arm.
Don’t forget to use the hips and try only pulling with the arm. To dial this
move in properly takes practice. For many starting in the rack position first,
dropping the kettlebell back then cleaning again helps them to master the
move.
Jerk

The jerk is the method used to get the most amount of weight overhead with
the least effort whether this be with a kettlebell or barbell. From the rack
position the legs are used twice to get the kettlebell locked out overhead. This
can be done repeatedly to build endurance with kettlebells. Here it is shown
with a single kettlebell but often two are used with one in each arm.

1. Clean the kettlebell to get it in the rack position.


2. Let the legs dip down then explode upwards, the force transitioning to the
kettlebell.
3. Once the kettlebell has started moving upwards, again dip the legs
dropping down under it. Lockout your arm.
4. Come to a standing position with the kettlebell firmly locked out overhead.
5. Allow gravity to take the kettlebell down, dipping with it to absorb the
shock before going for the next rep.

Extra Tips
A solid rack position is necessary to go longer in this exercise. Make sure the
kettlebell rests against the torso in a relaxed manner. This is much more
difficult with two kettlebells. Flexibility is also important, especially in the
shoulder region.
Snatch

The kettlebell snatch is one of my favorite exercises. For complete details on


it see my DVD set Kettlebell Snatch Domination. It is an extension of the
swing. Though instead of the swing stopping, the kettlebell continues until it
is locked out overhead. Done for high reps it‘ll take tremendous strength and
endurance.

1. Perform the swing as before except using a little more power on the drive.
2. As the kettlebell comes near head level pull back slightly with your hand
then punch through. This makes the kettlebell lightly come to meet your
forearm rather then the kettlebell coming up and over.
3. Pause for a moment with the kettlebell locked out.
4. Guide the kettlebell as you let it drop down into the back swing before
repeating.

Extra Tips
Like the swing this can be done more relaxed or explosively depending on
the goal.
Make sure you get the kettlebell locked out completely overhead and don’t
cut the reps short when starting out. In certain cases you can do so to
emphasize the speed. Using the other arm to help you swing will make it
easier. Utilize a hook grip when going for high reps. This spares the hands
which tend to be a weak point for many people.
Getup

The getup (or Turkish Getup as it is often called) involves you going from a
laying down position to standing and back down. This is done with the
kettlebell locked out overhead the entire time. While this move can be done
with all manner of tools (try it with a barbell for some real balance fun) the
kettlebell makes it easier by assisting your arm in staying in the right place.

1. Lay on the ground.


2. Using two hands bring the kettlebell to an overhead position with one arm.
3. The same side leg should be bent at the knee allowing the foot to rest on
the ground.
4. Bring your free arm out to the side and situp.
5. Placing more weight on the hand on the ground bring your leg through
until it is behind you coming to a kneeling position.
6. Stand up all the while with the kettlebell locked out overhead.
7. Reverse the procedure coming back to a laying position.

Extra Tips
Do not allow the your arm to unlock at anytime. If you’re working with a
heavy weight it could come right down. Make sure you know the movement
pattern properly before using any weight.
Bodyweight
I got my start in serious training with bodyweight exercises. I think for
someone starting out they should certainly work with their own body and
have some control in moving that around before ever moving on to weights.

But there is no need to stop there. Bodyweight exercises can be scaled up to


any level of difficulty. Just look at what they do in gymnastics. This is more
true of upper body movements then lower body but a lot can be done with the
legs too.

You can work all the muscles of the body just with bodyweight exercises.
However, in some cases the body is limited. Few will argue that picking
something off the ground is an unnatural movement. Yet with bodyweight
exercises there is no real way to emulate this deadlift sort of movement.

One of the biggest advantages of bodyweight exercises is that they require no


equipment and can be done anywhere. It’s very freeing to know that you are
your own gym. And you must also understand how to progress in the
movements because it is no longer as simple as adding weight, although that
can be done too.
Pushups

Everyone knows the pushup, yet few do it right. Its a simple movement that
requires you to press your body up from the ground while keeping the body
tight. There are near limitless varieties but we’ll keep it simple for here.

1. Lay face down on the ground.


2. Place your hands flat on the floor next to the chest.
3. Keep your body tight enough to maintain a straight line from head to feet.
4. Push up using your chest and arms, maintaining that straight line.
5. Lower down and repeat.

Extra Tips
Don’t allow the elbows to flare out. Keep them in towards the sides. This
helps protect the shoulders.
Don’t allow the hips to raise or sag.
Dips

Dips involve a similar push as the pushup but it is done in a plane that is
rarely worked, i.e. pushing down. They are a great exercise to build a strong
chest and arms.

1. Place both hands on supports whether this be parallel bars, rings, or the
backs of two sturdy chairs.
2. Lockout the arms with the body straight taking the full weight onto them.
3. Lower down until about the upper arms are about parallel with the floor.
4. Press back up.

Extra Tips
You can get slightly different training effects by staying erect in the
movement or bending forward which activates more muscle.
Doing dips on the rings are much harder then standard supports due to the
unstable training.
Handstands

The handstand is a great exercise in body control and coordination. It also


opens up a whole world of more moves including handstand pushups and
everything in hand balancing. But just sticking to the basic handstand against
the wall is often enough for beginners to get tremendous benefit from it.

1. Place your hands on the floor about shoulder width apart. They should be
about 12 to 18 inches from the wall with the fingers pointing forward.

2. From a sprinter’s stance you kick with one leg towards the wall. As you
raise up the other leg comes to meet it. Use enough force to lightly come
down on the wall.

3. If you need to adjust at all to get in proper position do so now.


4. Keep your body tight and everything locked out, pushing away from the
floor.

Extra Tips
Do not allow the elbows to bend at all. By keeping them locked you are much
less likely to fall down.
Use a spotter or cushions as needed in order to get comfortable with the
handstand.
Press up with shoulders reaching for your ears. Don’t suck the shoulders into
the sockets.
You can either look at the ground or forward when you hold the handstand
for time.
Situps

Situps are a well known exercise and much better then the often used but
nearly useless crunch for developing strength in the abdominal region. Even
so, they are just a starting point for more advanced exercises or done with
weight.

1. Lay with your back on the floor and legs bent at approximately 90 degrees.
2. The feet can be hooked under something or unsupported.
3. Raise the upper body off the ground into an upright position.

Extra Tips
Do not use momentum to fling yourself up.
Do not allow the legs to move when doing the exercise. To start out you can
have your hands by your sides. To make it harder put them behind your head
or extend them overhead.
Leg Raises
The abs can be targeting in many different ways. Leg raises of all types feel
much different than the situps. While these can be done on the floor the
variety done here is hanging from a bar.

1. Hang from a pullup bar. You need enough clearance to allow your legs to
hang completely for best effect.
2. While keeping your legs straight raise them up to parallel.

Extra Tips
For more of a challenge raise them all the way to the bar. For less challenge
you can do knee raises with the legs bent. Do not swing the legs up. Keep the
move strict
To make the move even more difficult maintain an upright back as you pull
the legs up.
Squats

While squats are commonly done with the barbell they can be done free-
hand. In fact, many people would be very wise to start with these to regain
the ability to squat fully and well. Once that is accomplished free squats can
be done to build great endurance and conditioning. These can be done for
very high reps.

1. Stand erect.
2. Bend at the hips and the knees descending into a full squat while keeping
the back flat.
3. Stand up.

Extra Tips
Do not allow the knees to bow in or out. They should track over the toes.
For many people, thinking of sitting back will help them get into a better
position.
Unlike the barbell squat you shouldn’t worry about the knees coming over
the toes as long as everything else is correctly in place.
Do no raise onto the toes for this move. There are other squat versions (like
Hindu squats) where this is done.
Pullups

Pullups and chinnups (the first having your palms facing away from you
when you grasp the bar and the latter with the palms facing you) are some of
the ultimate bodyweight exercises. Being able to pull your entire bodyweight
up is not just important for fitness but a life skill.

1. Grab the bar and hang completely.


2. To start the pull suck your shoulders into the sockets.
3. Bend the arms pulling your bodyweight up until your chin is over the bar.
4. Lower back down in control.

Extra Tips
Do not swing or kip into the movement. Keep it strict. Do not stop the
movement without getting full lockout at the bottom.
Some people find pullups and chinnups on a bar is bothersome to their
elbows or shoulders. Using rings allow for a natural turn as you do the
movement. You can also do a neutral grip.
Wrestler’s Bridge

The wrestler’s bridge is a full body movement with a concentration on the


neck and spine, which is often neglected in training. While many people get
scared of this move there is no reason to be. Done correctly you’ll be stronger
and more flexible in an area that really counts.

1. Lay with your back on the floor.


2. Place your hands by your head with the fingers pointing towards the toes.
3. Using your hands and neck strength roll up onto the crown of your head.
4. You body should be tight.
5. Extend your position striving to touch your forehead to the ground.
6. Hold for time.
Extra Tips
Do not let your body sag at the hips.
Do not forget to breathe.
When you become confident in this position you can remove your hands to
make it harder.
To make this slightly easier raise up onto the toes. Think of elongating the
spine as you do the bridge. This helps give a more natural position rather then
bent back at odd angles.
Gymnast Bridge

The gymnastic bridge is similar to the wrestler’s version except that you rest
solely on your hands and don’t use your head. This is even more of a back
strength and flexibility challenge. In addition your arms and shoulders get a
workout.

1. Lay with your back on the floor.


2. Place your hands by your head with the fingers pointing towards the toes.
3. Press up with your arms going for lockout. If you can’t lockout just go as
far as your can and strive for further.
4. Bend your entire body trying to round every vertebrae of the spine.
5. Hold for time.

Extra Tips
Do not let your body sag at the hips.
Do not forget to breathe.
To make this slightly easier raise up onto the toes. Extend the chest over the
hands. This gets you into a better position with the arms locked out and under
you.
Sprints
Running is good. But in my opinion sprints are much better then going for
long distances. Nothing else is as explosive and uses the same maximum
speed. To increase the intensity, and the safety of the exercise as well, I
recommend doing hill sprints. One of the very best conditioning exercises.

1. Sprint up full speed to the top of the hill.


2. Walk down.
3. Repeat.

Extra Tips
Do not go into full speed sprints right away. Work up to it. First walk if
necessary, then jog, then run, then sprint. You can always push yourself just a
little bit harder with hill sprints. Great for building toughness.
Burpees

Burpees have also been called squat thrusts, 8 count bodybuilders and other
names. They come in many varieties. Here we will stick to the basics. This is
a simple move that is full body and great for conditioning.

1. Stand erect.
2. Squat down placing your hands by your feet.
3. Jump your feet back coming to the top of a pushup position.
4. (Optional) Do a pushup.
5. Jump the feet back to the squat position.
6. Stand up.
7. (Optional) Do a jump.

Extra Tips
Do not neglect the important points of form as listed in squats and pushups
even when you become fatigued.
Grip
The hands are often the most neglected part of the body. Yet they are heavily
used in everyday life. And you want to be strong and healthy in every part of
you, right? With just a couple simple exercises you can have strong hands
and never have to battle with a pickle jar again. In many exercises the hands
are the weak points that are holding you back. But what if you made them
your strong point?

The wrists, hands and fingers can move in many different ways. Although
there are other forms, grip strength is basically divided into four main
sections; crushing grip, pinch grip, support grip and wrist strength. You’ll
find one exercise for each in the same order below.

There is no reason not to train your hands. Just add it in to the other training
you’re doing. Unless you go crazy with it, it won’t take more then a few
minutes.
Grippers

Grippers can be found in any sport goods store. But even their strongest ones
are quite weak and anyone can work up to doing hundreds of reps in a short
period of time. If you need to, start here. But to go forward you need
something more advanced. The Ironmind Captains of Crush are the gold
standard of grippers. You can get ones anyone can crush up to the #4 gripper
which has only been closed by a handful of people ever.

1. Set the gripper in your hand.


2. Use the other hand to set the gripper properly so that all fingers are
wrapped around it.
3. Close until the handles are touching.
Plate Pinch

Most people have access to weight plates. These can be used in a variety of
ways for hand strength. One simple way is to turn two plates so that the
smooth sides are facing out. Then grasp this with both hands and lift. This
will build tremendous thumb strength. This can also be done with one hand at
a time, but the two hands version is described here.
1. Setup two plates with the smooth sides facing out.
2. Grasp with both hands, the four fingers on one side and the thumb on the
other.
3. Squeezing tightly lift the plates as if doing a deadlift.
4. Lower to the ground and repeat or hold for time.
Thick Bar Lift

When you hold onto a normal barbell it is fairly thin and easy to grasp. Even
so, many people resort to straps for heavy exercises, instead of building up
their hand strength. On the flip side you have a thick bar which intentionally
makes it much harder to grasp. Since thick bars cost a decent amount of
money and aren’t always readily available you can resort to other options. I
use an inexpensive product called Fat Gripz which wrap around a normal bar
turning it into a thick bar instantly.

Perform this as you would a normal deadlift.


Setup a thick barbell with weight on the ground.
Bend down flexing at the knees and the back. Maintain a shoulder width
stance.
Grip the bar with a normal grip.
Maintaining a straight back come to a standing position pulling the bar off the
ground.
Lower down.
Sledgehammer Levers

A sledgehammer can be used in many ways. Because of the leverage the few
pounds on the end of the long shaft make it very difficult to lift. This can be
used to our benefit especially in building wrist strength. The wrist can bend
in four directions; flexion, extension, ulnar and radial deviation. These lifts
work on the last two.

Set the forward. Bend over and grasp it along the handle. The closer you are
to the head the easier, the further away the harder.
Stand up keeping the sledgehammer parallel to the floor. Repeat the exercise
with the sledgehammer’s head facing behind you.
sledgehammer flat on the ground with the head
11 - Workout Templates
Workout Templates
I’m hesitant to give workouts because I don’t think anyone should mindlessly
follow a routine. While doing so you can get results but its not a good as it
could be if it were personalized to you and only you. I don’t know your goals,
which training tools you have, what exercises you like, which ones work for
you and many more details that are important to take into account.

Even in my past when I did use templates I just used them as a basis from
which I developed my own plan. That is what I am setting out to do here. To
give you some ideas, from which you can adapt to better suit you.

If you need help in establishing your own routine I do provide in person or


over the phone coaching. Visit my website for more details on that.

You may notice that many of these plans are based off of some classic
routines. That is a good starting point. I’ve tried to only use exercises
described in this book but there are a couple exceptions.

Three workouts a week with barbell emphasis. Take a rest day between
workouts. Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.
The sets are done towards failure and as such minimal volume is used.

Workout A
Squats 1x20 Wrestlers Bridge 1xTime

Workout B
Barbell Press 1x12
Barbell Row 1x12
Barbell Bench Press 1x8 Barbell Curl 1x8

Workout C
Deadlifts 2x8 Kettlebell Swings 1x100-500 Situps 1x20

This is a bodyweight emphasis workout done four days a week. Each


workout is done twice a week switching back and forth between them. This
can be Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Workout A Squats
Leg Raises Burpees
4x50
4x10
Interval Work

Workout B
Handstand
Gymnast Bridge Pullups
Dips
1xFor Time 1xFor Time 5x5
5x5

This workout uses kettlebells for many of the basic exercises. Three workouts
per week.

Workout 1
KB Press 5x5 Pullup 5x5 KB Swings 2x50-100

Workout 2
KB Getups 5x1 KB Squats 5x10 KB Snatches 4x20

Workout 3
KB Row 5x5 Pushups 5x20 KB Jerks 2x20

This workout doesn’t follow a template but gives you a general indication of
what to do. This uses your biofeedback to guide your training. Train three or
four days per week. Use testing to find which of the exercises to do, as well
as variations. Select the two exercises that test best each time.

Squats
Deadlifts
Rows
Bench Press Pullup
Military Press
End with conditioning on one of the following exercises which tests best. Do
a straight set, as much as you can in a time period, or intervals.

Hill Sprints KB Swings KB Snatches Burpees

This is another bodyweight workout. This one can be done everyday, with a
rest day when you need it. Do it in a circuit fashion going from one exercise
to the next. As your conditioning and strength improves you can add circuits.

Workout
Handstand for Time 1 min Gymnast Bridge for Time 1 min Wrestler Bridge
for Time 1 min Pullups 1x10 Dips 1x10 Squats 1x50 Pushups 1x20 Leg
Raises 1x10 This is a mixed workout schedule using all different tools.

It is done twice a week with two days off between workouts. Work up to the
heaviest weights you can in the exercises.

Workout A
Deadlift
Press
Situps w/ Weight KB Swings
5x5
5x5
5x5
1 set non-stop for over 200 reps.

Workout B
Squats
Pullups
Gymnast Bridge Wrestlers Bridge KB Swings
5x5
5x5
For Time For Time 4x20-50

This is a bodyweight only workout focusing on a specific body part or


primary movement each day. Three days a week with a rest day between
each.
Workout A Sprints
Squats
x6-8
3x50-100 or 1x250-500

Workout B
Handstand
Dips
Pushups
Wrestlers Bridge 3xFor Time 2x12
2x25
For Time

Workout C
Pullup
Leg Raise
Situps
Gymnast Bridge 3x12
2x12
2x25
For Time

This workout has an emphasis on the kettlebell explosive lifts. This can be
done twice a week or if you ease back on the workouts four times a week.

Workout A KB Snatch Barbell Press Barbell Row 10 minute set or working


up to it 2x10
2x10

Workout B
KB Jerk
Barbell Deadlift Barbell Squats 10 minute set or working up to it 2x6
2x6

Similar to the first workout template but then one takes a different approach
to the sets and reps. Also a conditioning day is separated from the two
strength workouts.
Workout A
Squats 5,4,3,2,1
Rows 5,4,3,2,1

Workout B
Deadlifts 5,4,3,2,1
Bench Press 5,4,3,2,1
Situps 4x5

Workout C
KB Swings 5x20-100
Burpees 5x20-100
Superset - Go back and forth between these exercises This workout is meant
to be a practice. You’ll spread the sets throughout the day keeping them easy
each time. Work each day with one day off per week alternating between the
two schedules. Only gradually increase the weight you use when the
exercises are close to effortless.

Workout A
KB Getup 5x5
Handstand Pushup 5x5
Squat 5x5

Workout B
Pullup 5x5
Gymnast Bridge 5x5
Leg Raise 5x5
Workout Addon

This is an additional grip workout that can be tagged onto any three day a
week program that uses the four basic exercises described in this book. Two
options are shown which you can rotate through, a maximum attempt and a
higher volume workout.

Workout 1 Grippers Work up to max or 1x20

Workout 2
Plate Pinch
Sledgehammer Levers Work up to max or 4xFor Time 4xFor Time

Workout 3
Thick Bar Lift Work up to max or 1x20
12 - Conclusion
Conclusion
I hope you’ve got as much out of this book as I did writing it. This is the
book I wish I had when I got my start in training many years ago. But then I
probably wouldn’t have used it for all its worth. Don’t make that mistake.
Instead re-read this book several times, especially paying attention to the
areas you feel you could do better in.

By concentrating on a single key at a time you can make your efforts in that
area automatic. From there proceed onto the next one. In the end you’ll have
mastery over the master keys. Then becoming as strong and fit as you desire,
and hitting all your goals, is not a matter of if, but when.

For more from Logan Christopher check out:

www.LegendaryStrength.com
www.LostArtOfHandBalancing.com
Other Books, DVD’s and Courses by Logan
Advanced Bodyweight Training Course
The Ultimate Guide to Handstand Pushups
Never Quit Conditioning
Think and Grow Strong
101 Simple Steps to Radiant Health
Superman Foods and Supplements
Kettlebell Snatch Domination
The Definitive Guide to Kettlebell Juggling
Hand Balancing Mastery Course
Secrets of the Handstand Quick Start
Advanced Bridging Course
and more…