Iron, Speed, Paleo…and the Magic of HIIT

I get plenty of questions – and understandably so – one way or another related to my fascination with the fixed-speed (or fixed-gear) bicycle.  Well, one aspect of the fixie experience that I covet — aside from the cycling purist’s love of the unbroken convergence of body, machine and pavement – is the ability to absolutely thrash a high intensity interval training (HIIT) session on each and every fixie ride.  The fixed-speed machine lends itself well to HIIT sessions due to the fact that an all-out effort can be achieved virtually right out of the blocks, and for the fact that this effort can be maintained for the duration of the sprint – whether that sprint lasts 5 seconds, or as long as a full minute – which happens to be the top end of the range, for my particular purposes/goals.  On a fixie machine, if the wheels are spinning, your legs are humping – coasting is not an option – and slowing down requires a direct opposition to the momentum you’ve previously established.  The legs, in other words, are under constant assault.  “Huckin it fixed” imparts a huge overall energy expenditure coupled with a very fast power output/energy ramp-up requirement (if one so chooses to push the ride in this direction) that is unique to a fixed-gear set-up.  By way of analogy, I think you could look at the difference between a fixed-gear ride and a single/multi-speed ride as being the difference between a stadium step sprint session and a long, slow jog.

The spill-over efficacy of HIIT-like training, into the more endurance-ended demands of cycling, have been born out to me time and time again.  I never train for endurance per se, yet when I engage in endurance rides, my conditioning is more than equal to the task.  The link cited above references many of the most informative university studies on the efficacy of HIIT training.  If you’re endurance minded, looking for a conditioning boost (great preparation for the upcoming football season!), or if you simply want to kick-start (or maintain) some serious fat-burning potential, do yourself a favor and don’t overlook this method of training.  Of course sprinting is the easiest way to implement a HIIT-like protocol, but any exercise modality can be modified to work – weight training, biking, rowing – the possibilities are truly endless.

This I can tell you: a short HIIT session – whether that session involves riding, sprinting or weights — will leave your body in metabolic hyper-drive for many, many hours following the session – much, much more so than any prolonged-slog or plodding trudge will ever do.  For instance, on Monday I did a short series of sprints totaling approximately 8 miles and 30 minutes – approximately 4 miles/15 minutes to the coffee shop, 4 miles/15 minutes on the return.  Now, 8 miles is no big deal on a bike – especially since I kick back with a red-eye and a good read for an hour or so in the middle of it all — however, each leg of the trip was marked by a series of hard sprints and easy “spins” (“spins” being at a light, recovery cadence).  What was the sprint-to-spin ratio?  Well, it varied – hey, this is real life! —  the key is that I sprint until I have to stop due to exhaustion or traffic obstacle, and I spin until I recover “adequately”, or until I have another opportunity to sprint.  In this way, the sprint/spin ratio is highly fractal/variable, and that’s the way I like it.  Sometimes I’m fully recovered from the previous sprint before diving into the next, sometimes I’m still heaving like a freight train.  The bottom line is that little bit of work jacks my metabolism for the remainder of the evening and into the night.  The buzz in the legs, the elevated body temperature, the ravenous appetite – yep, those are the signs of a metabolism in high-gear; the same prolonged indicators you’ll never enjoy following a long, slow and excruciating dull session.

Of course, endurance types attempting to better performance in a particular event – or modality, for that matter — can always combine more precise and directed HIIT training together with heart rate monitoring/tracking in order to maximize training effect.  For example, check out Dr. Mike Nichols’ take on heart rate training, here (note: this is part 5 of the series, which is, as of this writing, the final installment on the topic.  Make sure you check out all the installments, though.  Very, very informative stuff indeed!).  It’s a little more than I care to manage at the moment, but hey, there may come a time when I’ll want to train in a more directed manner.  It’s always good to have options, and to understand the science behind those options.

Tuesday’s Iron Works –

Basic? You bet.  Effective?  No friggin’ doubt.  Remember, the mind might require novelty, but the body doesn’t give a damn.  The body’s job is to overcome a stress, and be better prepared to face that stress next time around.  Simple as that.

Beating the coming rain acted as added incentive, both in busting out a fast fixie sprint session heading into the gym, and getting my ass home following.

Kicked things off with the following superset:

front “military” press (strict, no “push”): 115 x 5; 135 x 5; 155 x 3; 165 x 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2

straight bar muscle-up (pull-up variety): bodyweight x 2 reps each round.


good mornings (wide stance, slight knee bend): used red bands on all sets – 135 x 6; 155 x 6, 185 x 4, 4, 4

then a quick superset of –

db triceps roll-out extensions (from floor): 50 x 10, 9

ez bar bicep curl: bar + 80 x 12, 12

then, as a finisher –

Nautilus 4-way neck: front and each side – 50 lbs x 10; back – 65 lbs x 10 (last 4 reps rest-pause)

A cool front is punching its way down south tonight.  Sweet relief  🙂

The Value of Machines — a Pre-Exhaust Example, and a Couple of Days of Training

Dave Durrell, of High Intensity Nation, recently posted on a very effective, isolation + compound movement shoulder training technique, utilizing a good ol’ weightlifting standby — the pre-exhaust method.  This is a fine example, in my opinion, of employing the right tool for the job.

Let’s take a step back and consider the various ways in which a body can be “strong”.  On its face, this seems an odd notion – you’re either strong or you’re not, right?  Well, not exactly.  We’ve all seen examples of someone who’s quick as a cat – super explosive, say — yet who’s lacking in absolute strength (the classic Allyson Felix scenario).  Conversely, there’s the super-strong powerlifter for whom you’ll have to break out a sundial to clock their 40 time.  Power, then (what we’re really ultimately looking at) is a combination of different finely trained strength attributes appropriated and expressed over a given duration; the fine-tuned execution of which is a type of kinesthetic “genius” in its own right.  Of course, the predominant strength attributes required of a 2 second duration snatch are undoubtedly different than those required of a 3-and-a-half second deadlift, a 100 meter sprint, a wrestling match, or the full duration of a football game.  The best athletes in each of these endeavors, though, will undoubtedly excel at not only the predominant required strength capability, but in all strength capabilities.  This is what Louie Simmons is getting at when he trains his athletes to be proficient in all “strengths” (I wrote a little about this most recently, here).  A proficiency in all strength attributes is, in fact, what separates the “contenders” from the mere “competitors”.

But back to Dave’s post.  It’s been fashionable within the free-weight community these days – hell, actually ever since the emergence of Arthur Jones, and advent of Nautilus equipment upon the physical culture scene – to bash machine-based work.  The thing is, though, machines are just another tool.  And for pre-exhaust work, isolation purposes, repeated-effort method work and the like, they’re a damn good choice.  Again, it’s all a matter of determining what your immediate training needs are, and choosing the right tool from among your available options to satisfy your needs.  Whenever I’m asked the old “machines or free weights” question, my answer is always “yes”…and bodyweight exercises, and sprinting, and climbing, and gymnastics… Why would anyone choose to voluntarily limit their available options?

Late revision (6/25/10) – I just ran across this, via Seth Godin’s fine blog (hat tip to Mike Robertson).  In my mind,  Ism Schism pretty much sums-ups the whole machine/free weight debate.

Tuesday’s Training –

front squat: 135 x 3; 165 x 3; 185 x 3; 205 x 2; 215 x 7 rest-pause singles


hang cleans (light; workin’ the groove again): 135 x 5; 155 x 5; 165 x 6 – very fast, perfectly executed reps.  Fat bar.


Jump squat + BTN jerk: 135 x 3; 155 x 3; 175 x 3, 3, 3

then a superset of-

db tricept extensions (lying flat): 45 x 12, 12, 12 (rest-pause last 5 reps of last set)

EZ bar bicep curl: bar +70 lbs x 12, 12, 12 (rest-pause last 3 reps of last set)

Wednesday’s Training –

clean grip pull jumps: 135 x 3; 185 x 3; 205 x 3; 225 x 3; 245 x 3, 3, 3

then, a superset of –

kneeling db clean and press: 40 x 15, 15, 15

ghr: bodyweight x 15, 15, 15


Nautilus 4-way neck: 50 lbs front, side, side; 60 lbs to the rear

Took Thursday completely off – no lifting, riding or anything.  Felt kinda strange.

The Five Elements — Matching “Wiring” to Modality

So, how are you “wired”?  Here’s another aspect to consider when mapping a training plan.  As one becomes more adept at “reading” one’s own body — and now we’re digging down to some serious n=1 activity — is determining one’s physio-psychological make-up.  Charles Poliquin uses the analogy of the Five Elements, or the five physical types described in Chinese medicine.  I think this is a fine analogy, so long as we resist the urge to “categorize completely and wholly”.  As is the case with astrology — stick with me here, I’ve not completely stumbled away from my gourd! — purity of type (sign, element, ect.) simply does not exist.  People can be “heavy” in one aspect or another — predominantly influenced by this element or that — to be sure, though, the human personality is more an alloy than a pure element; the n=1 challenge being to tease-out that predominant element in one’s own (or your client’s own) make-up.  I think it’s also important to note as well, the fact that no one is absent any “element”.  Diminished or understated, yes; each aspect, though, is present in every trainee — the matter of degree is what we’re searching for.

Of course, if you’re put off by all of this “touchy-feely” stuff, we can just agree that people are wired differently and respond to a given protocol rather uniquely.  Many times “non-responders” or “hardgainers” simply have not coupled their “elemental make-up” with the right modality.  Remember, few things in physical culture can be taken as absolutes — other than that there are no absolutes.  By cultivating a healthy n=1, pioneering attitude though, (embracing the “wood” aspect), one will eventually lock-on to a modality that fits.

Tuesday’s training –
An evening session this go-around.  One advantage for working out in the evening is that my CNS is fully “awake”; no matter how much I warm up in the morning, my CNS is just not ready to fully blow-and-go.  Of course, working out first thing in the AM has multiple advantages in its own right — the biggest being that “life” is less likely to bump a workout.  There’s a give and take to everything in life, and each person’s “optimum workout window” is no different.

About a 20-minute fixie ride to warm-up — “warm-up” being the understatement of the day; damn, it’s friggin’ hot out lately.

Superset fashion with these two –
clean-grip low pulls: 225 x 3, 3; 245 x 3; 255 x 3; 265 x 3, 3, 3, 3
weighted dips: 45 x4; 80 x 3; 90 x 3; 95 x 3; 100 x 3, 3, 3, 3

Followed by another superset here –
barbell muscle-up: 135 x 4, 4, 4
straight bar muscle-up (the pull-up variety): bodyweight x 3, 2, 2

…and then, some Nautilus 4-way Neck work: front and each side – 50 lbs 10 each; rear – 60 lbs x 10

Finished-up with a nice fixie sprint home to some damn fine leftovers — grass-fed eye of chuck being the main player.  Meal porn to follow.

A Couple of Weekend Workouts, and Some Thoughts on the Conjugate Method

Lots and lots of fixie riding over the weekend, with a couple of iron sessions tossed in for good measure.  I have no idea how many miles in total I put on the ol’ fix over Friday, Saturday and Sunday; let’s just say it was a sh*t ton 🙂

Friday Night Iron Works –

Another “unusual” Friday night iron session; in fact, though, this may actually turn into a usual thing.  The nice long days allow me to get home from work, saddle up the fixie, hit the gym and get back before dark.  Gotta love summer.  An hour of saddle time, then this:

bent-over row + snatch grip low pull: 225 x 5, 4, 4, 4
feet-elevated ring flyes: bodyweight x 10, 10, 9, 8 (4/2/x/0 tempo)

The bor + snatch-grip low pull was performed like this: take a clean grip on the bar and perform a bent-over row with as little cheat as possible, return the bar to the floor under control, then immediately slide the grip out to an approximate snatch-grip width and perform an explosive low pull from the floor.  Make sure the bar travels higher than the belly button on each rep.  Each of these combos counts as a single rep.  The glutes and hams get a good deal of work here, as you tend to forget that the PC is in constant iso contraction during the performance of the BOR.  Then the PC is immediately called into action to perform the explosive low pull.  Give this pairing a shot, and see what you think.  In the ring flyes, I maintained an off-90 degree arm angle throughout — think “Vitruvian Man” at the bottom-out position; at the top of the motion, my hands met at a position just above my navel.

The big thing to remember her is to not let your hips drop and thus assume a “saddle back” position.  This is easier said than done in the last reps of the later rounds.  Positioning was such that my feet were higher than my chest in the bottom-out position.

I finished things of with some Nautilus 4-way neck machine: front, side, side >> 50 x 10 each, rear >> 60 x 10 (tempo 5/0/1/0).

The Conjugate Method?  Hey, Isn’t That for Power Lifters?

I speak to the “Conjugate Method” quite often in describing various aspects of my workouts, and, indeed Louie Simmons’ work with his Westside Barbell Club athletes has greatly influenced my understanding of exercise prescription .  Mention “Conjugate Method”, though, and even people steeped in physical culture knowledge will immediately think “power lifter”.  And yes, it’s true that Louie has molded his Conjugate Theory specifically for power lifting, but this in no way negates the efficacy of the theory — if properly tweeked and applied — to other fitness/sporting applications.  A few of the biggest misunderstandings, or wrong-minded assumptions, surrounding the Conjugate Method are (1) that it can only be incorporated by drugged power lifters, (2) that it is a “set” and largely non-mailable lifting “program”, and, as a correlate to #2, (3) that it can only be implemented with with barbells and dumbbells.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Conjugate Method (writ large) is a theory of strength acquisition developed by the most underrated (in my opinion) Strength and Conditioning coach in the United States — dare I say the world? — today; Louie Simmons.   The “Conjugate Method”, though, in common vernacular, refers to the specific protocols employed by strength athletes (and increasingly now, power and skill-oriented athletes) for developing strength and power.  I am reminded here of my south Texas youth, were “coke” was a blanket term referring to every soft drink available under the sun.  Same here with the term “Conjugate Method”.  I’ve come to refer more to “Conjugate Theory” when speaking outside of pure power lifting applications, but, in my mind, the two terms really are interchangeable.

Now power lifting is certainly not at all my game, but I utilize the Conjugate Theory every time I workout.  In fact, if someone were to ask me what my encompasses my overall physical culture philosophy — an idea, a theory, that unifies all that I do, from the weight room to the training table — my immediate answer would be Conjugate Theory.

In fact, it’s not too hard to see how Conjugate Theory is just a step or two removed from Power Law.  And it may be that the proportion by which Conjugate Theory is removed from pure Power Law is the ratio by which the resultant athletic prowess is removed from optimum health.  This is the play of the directed and systemized variance of the Conjugate Theory vs the pure fractal nature of Power Law.  More on that, though, at another time.

Conjugate Method/Theory in a nutshell?  Well, in Louie’s own words:
“When lifters repeatedly use the same simple method of training to raise their strength level, they will eventually stall. Like the scholar who must utilize many sources of information to achieve a higher level of knowledge, the lifter must incorporate new and more difficult exercises to raise their standards.”

Our aim, then, is to avoid that dastardly point of diminished return on effort.  And that, my friends, equates to longevity.

Now Louie was specifically referring to strength athletes in the above quote, but the same can be (and should be) said for any pursuit.  The trick is to deconstruct the sport (or skill, or goal) into it’s constituent parts, then apply Conjugate Theory to the methods used in the development of those constituent parts.

Piece of cake, right?  Well, truly, it is!

We can look to Louie’s work with power lifters as an exceptional, empirical model, though we’ll have to tweek those methods utilized to fit our own, n=1 needs.  So what can a Paleo, all-round athlete (which is what I consider myself) learn from guys who specialize in conquering the three “big lifts” (bench, squat, and deadlift)?  In a phase, contained, directed, and systemized variety.

The first principle of the Conjugate Method, as applied to the training of a strength athlete, emphasizes the ability of that athlete to handle maximum loads, frequently, while still providing for ample recovery — in other words, side-stepping the ol’ C.N.S. (Central Nervous System) overtraining bugaboo.  So far, so good; I’m totally on board with the getting strong part.  But specialization isn’t my game, and I want to be good at very diverse endeavors — sprinting and cycling, as well — and, too, I wanna look good nekkid; lean and muscular, yes — but well proportioned.   Not to fear; with a few simple tweeks to the power lifting model of Conjugate Theory application, I can create a “Conjugate Method” for the all-around athlete and, more specifically, for this, n=1 all-around athlete.

So just how does the Conjugate Method go about allowing for a high frequency of maximal effort work while at the same time avoiding the overtraining issue?  It does so by employing a systemized method of rotating special exercises that are close in nature to the movement patterns of the big three power lifts, but that are not exactly the big three lifts themselves. In other words, the aim is to increase strength relative to the classic lifts (squat, bench and deadlift), while avoiding burning-out on the competition lifts themselves.  This is akin to training a 100 meter sprinter while never actually running that exact distance in practice; competition being the only time that exact distance is covered.

Sound crazy?  Not so fast.

Ever notice how, at a certain point in skills acquisition training, strength development, body composition refinement (or whatever the target goal), that a certain level of accomplishment, a point of diminished returns per unit of input effort is reached?  This is just as true a phenomena as — and, in fact is the yang aspect of — the 10,000 hour principle.  In a Linear Progression mindset, the answer would be to “endeavor to persevere” and push on through.  This, though, will only lead to overtraining, injury, mental fatigue/disgust and, eventual abandonment of the program and/or goal.  While I think this is more applicable in high-demand CNS endeavors (lifting, sprinting for example) than in low demand endeavors (hitting a baseball, archery), I do believe that low demand effort training should be ceased for the day when output quality diminishes.  This is simple another facet of the same idea; if you’re thinking now in terms of “auto-regulation” and “drop-off method” you’re on the right track.  This is the idea behind frequently rotating the highest CNS demand/maximum effort exercises.  How frequently?  Well, that’s largely an n=1 consideration.  For instance, I rarely do the same maximum effort exercise (for a particular movement pattern) twice in a row.  In other words, if I choose to do a behind-the-neck push-press for my max effort, vertical push movement pattern, the next time I hit a max effort in this particular movement pattern, I’ll make sure to choose a different exercise (or a different modality) — a strict front military press, or maybe a palms-in db press.  Or, maybe I will do the btn push-press — but this time with bands.  Get the idea?  Be patient, it’s a lot to take in.  It’s the workout equivalent to a “calorie is not a calorie”, in that it takes a bit for the mind to wrap around an idea contrary to what we’ve been brought up to believe.

The second principle of the Conjugate Method is the systematic training of all the constituents that comprise “strength”.  One might also consider these aspects of athleticism; they are (in no particular order of importance):

  1. Quickness
  2. Explosiveness
  3. Speed-Strength
  4. Strength-Speed
  5. Absolute Strength

Once again I’ll defer to Louie, who states:

“This is much like a five-speed transmission in a car. We all know what happens if you miss a gear, or take off in the wrong gear. Your car doesn’t run very efficiently, and neither will you. One must learn many methods to develop special strength, and when to use them. You must also know your sport’s goals. In some sports, speed is foremost and absolute strength is secondary. Both are more closely related than you think.”

I would also add endurance to this list, as kinda the odd-duck out.  Depending upon your chosen goal and/or the demands of your particular sport, some directed energy system training is certainly in order.  What everybody and every athlete requires, though — regardless of goal or the specifics of the sport — is strength.  Yes, even endurance athletes need that “strength with which to endure”, and the elderly need to be strong to remain stable, self-sufficient, and to prolong quality of life.  Strength is, shall we say, a basic element of life; the platform from which all else springs.

Is it possible, though, to train heavy continuously, without crossing over the dreaded Rubicon of overtraining?  In basic terms, how would one go about doing that?

Again, we’ll let Louie answer in his own words:

“…pick several special barbell exercises for a particular lift, for example, the deadlift. The good morning is very similar in motion to deadlifting. A conventional deadlifter will, no doubt, bend over. Therefore, bent over good mornings will increase the deadlift. But remember, when doing the good morning, in your brain, you must duplicate the action of your deadlift precisely. It is not so important to raise your good morning, as to raise your deadlift by performing the good morning. We do many types of good mornings, for example, with a Safety Squat bar suspended from chains. But remember to use the same body mechanics as you do in the deadlift.”

So the elevator pitch for the Conjugate Method, then, is simply this: choosing  similar/supplemental exercises to the lifts you wish to increase, and rotate theses exercises frequently so as not to perform the exact same motion/modality from workout to workout.   Now, that is admittedly painting a very complex theory with an exceptionally broad stroke — but it is, however, a place from which to begin the discussion.

Lots of talk about barbells and dumbbells here, what about machine-based protocols?  Is Conjugate Theory applicable to HIT and/or Super Slow type workouts as well?

100%, without a doubt, yes.  One simply needs to adopt the underlying theory to the chosen protocol and available tools (free weights,machines, bodyweight, etc.).  Simple as that.
Training the Five Aspects of Athleticism; Meet the Methods (broadly speaking) –

  1. Maximal Effort method – for instance, simply taking a maximal amount of weight and lifting it for no more than 3 reps while keeping the weight at or about 90% of your 1RM.
  2. Repeated Effort / Sub-Maximal Effort method – as an example, 8 to 15 reps, and, in some cases, into the twenties.  Time under load considerations.  Mainly influences hypertrophy, tendon health.
  3. Dynamic Effort method – speed of movement and power development is critical, here.  Low reps spread over numerous sets.

The above can also be considered in light of varying Time Under Load (TUL) applications within the HIT protocols, where intensity and TUL are inversely proportional (for the most part).

“…Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun
Oh but mama that’s where the fun is…”

Ah, yes; so this is where the real alchemy takes place.  Using varying aspects of the above-mentioned training methods, in a contained, directed, and systemized manner, to positively affect the five aspects of athleticism.   Barbells, dumbbells, machines and protocols are simply tools to choose from, with each tool being better suited for a particular application.  Is the goal power lifting?  Then of course the proper tools are barbells and dumbbells, and a power lifting specific Conjugate protocol.  Simply want to be strong, fit-as-a-fiddle, and melt away fat — but you also want to invest as little time in the effort as possible?  The equipment and protocols of such outfits as Efficient Exercise or Dr. Doug McGuff’s Ultimate Exercise are what you’re looking for.  These two examples are simply ends of a continuum; your task is to locate your particular n=1 home along that continuum.   Don’t be afraid to branch out and experiment.  You can be the master of your own body; first, though, you must learn your own body’s ways and particulars.  That’s the journey.

Saturday Iron Session –

Again, this session took place following an extended fixie huck:

behind-the-neck jerk: 135 x 3; 185 x 3; 195 x 2, 2, 2 (4/2/x/0 tempo)
reverse lunge + single arm shoulder press combo: 40 x 4, 50 x 4, 4, 4, 4 (i.e., 4 reps each “side”)

5 rounds of that, then:

front box squat (very low, 12-inch box): 135 x 3; 155 x 4, 3 (3/2/x/0 tempo), explode off the box.
reverse grip pull up: bodyweight x 15, 15, 15 (3/0/x/0 tempo)

Yeah, legs were toast following the bike riding and that first devilish combination of jerks and lunges, which made the front squats a tough go.  Another instance, and example of, the proper use of auto-regulation.  155 lbs isn’t a lot of weight for me in this movement (even off of a low box), but on this particular day, in this particular place in the exercise grouping and given the day’s particular circumstances, this was the most load I could handle.  Kick the ol’ ego to the curb.  The weight doesn’t matter; what matters is the proper stimulus.

Reverse lunge + db press combo –
Couldn’t find a good clip for this one, so I’ll see if I can explain it.  Snatch a db into the overhead position, and hold it there.  Now, kick back into the reverse lunge position with the same side leg as the arm in which the db is held.  As you’re stepping back, lower the db into the “catch” position on the shoulder; time the movement so that the db is “caught” exactly when you hit the bottom-out of the lunge.  This is a quick, fluid movement.  At this point, immediately reverse direction and explode into the upright position — the db should reach the lock-out position in timed unison with the top of the lunge.  Think “shot put” motion.   Immediately drop back into the next rep.

On-the-Fly Paleo Grub, and Time Under Load

Being creative with the ol’ leftovers is another important piece to maintaining Paleo sanctity.  I live by leftovers, and yeah, sometimes the combinations can seem a little odd.   Go figure, as I’m just a little odd as well.  I think everyone would do well, though, to bust free from the old “that food is for breakfast” or “these foods don’t go together” rut.  Just another useful mind-tool, my friends, to keep you all on the Paleo straight-and-narrow.  Again, this ain’t gourmet, but it wasn’t half damn bad.

Since last Saturday’s kick-ass workout at Efficient Exercise of Austin, Texas, I’ve been leaning toward some higher time under load (TUL, or time under tension, TUT, as some term it) workouts.  Of course, being true to my Conjugate sensibilities, this is only a leaning-toward, and not, so to speak, a change in direction.  I’ll still have workouts emphasizing max effort, speed (power), and strength-endurance, however, you’ll see TUL work take a front seat in the near term.  For how long?  That I don’t know; I’ll ride the TUL horse until I sense that I need to saddle-up a fresh steed, or until my priorities change.  This is how it goes; there are no definites.   Also, I’ve been riding — a lot — and as such, I’ve cut back on my quad-dominant work in the gym, just as I would cut back on my posterior chain work if I were hitting (running) sprints hard.  This is the personalization of workout planning.  To do otherwise — to blindly adhere to a cookie-cutter workout without taking into account my lifestyle and recreation choices — would be to invite regional overtraining and, eventually, injury.

Saturday’s iron works –

feet-elevated, ballistic push-ups: bodyweight x 6, 6, 6, 6

flat cable flye (on a Swiss ball): 60 x 10, 7, 7, 6

bent-over reverse cable flye: 30 x 8, 6, 6, 6

Rep tempo is vastly important in any scheme that emphasizes TUL, and I utilized a 40X tempo (eccentric/turn-around/concentric) today in both the flat and reverse cable flyes.  Note that, in reality an “X” (fast as humanly possible) concentric equates to approximately one second.  As a general rule of thumb, I tend to fall into the Charles Poliquin camp when it comes to correlating TUL to hypertrophy work; 30-ish to 70-ish seconds per set seems to be the sweet spot for me.  The next obvious question is, “ok, how many sets and/or exercises per movement pattern, then?”  Personally, I try, in most instances, to do no more than 1 exercise of a similar movement pattern — in most instances.  Nothing is set in stone.  Usually, though, I try to pick a weight that, under my chosen tempo, will totally zorch me in that particular pattern within a per-set TUL of between 30-ish and 70-ish seconds and an overall, cumulative TUL of between 90-ish and 180-ish seconds.  You can see that this leaves much room for variance and plenty of wiggle-room for set/rep manipulation.  And, again, this is for a hypertrophy emphasis — this, of course, would not apply if the emphasis were, say, speed-strength (power) work.

The movements above were done as a 4-round, compound set, with very little rest between movements.  I followed that up with a little Nautilus 4-way neck work:

front, left and right sides: 35 lbs x 10
rear: 45 lbs x 10

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Will mastering TUL make me swole like the cats in that slideshow?  Well, maybe so.  Hercules, and the Greek Pugilist: The Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sport, UT Austin

And a quick look to what’s ahead:

Monday, weather permitting, I plan on taking the ol’ fixie out to huck the Tour De Raleigh, coupling that ride with a trip to the NC state farmers market, and a run to Trader Joe’s for a coffee and Greek Yogurt stock-up.  On Tuesday, look for the write-up on my most excellent workout at the hands of Skyler Tanner, of Efficient Exercise in Austin.  For a preview, you can check-out the video clips posted at the Efficient Exercise Youtube page.  Here’s a compilation of the entire workout, and here’s a clip capturing Skyler’s expertise in coaching me through the leg press portion of the workout.  This level of professional coaching and guidance is priceless, allowing the trainee (me, in this instance) to focus totally on the “doing”, and leaving the manipulation of the many variables, in Skyler’s control.  Much more on this Tuesday.  ‘Til then, have a great holiday weekend!