By Mike Westerdal
Whether it’s due to the long cold winters or a generally more active lifestyle, Canada has a penchant for turning out some of North America’s most successful and widely-recognized strength and training coaches. Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, M.Sc., is no exception.
Hailing from Toronto, he is one of the industry’s most respected strength and conditioning coaches and is a member of the Training Advisory Board for Men’s Fitness magazine. His fat loss expertise and workout tips are featured every month in Men’s Fitness.
As a renowned strength and training coach, Craig works with a number of high profile athletes and is was a consultant to Rugby Canada helping the National Team prepare for the 2007 World Cup. He has authored numerous books and has even written a chapter on coaching for the new International Youth Coaching Association certification textbook.
Thanks to his extensive background in research, Craig stays on top of the latest cutting-edge training and nutrition strategies that help elite athletes, casual weightlifters and individuals from all walks of life improve their health and wellness, along with their physical and mental performance.
His latest work is entitled Turbulence Training 12-week Home Workout Revolution, which he specifically developed for guys who really want to get in top shape but find it difficult to get to the gym every day.
Craig has based his Home Workout Revolution on his highly successful Turbulence Training principles, which have proven time and time again to be among the most successful strategies around for building muscle while shedding unwanted fat.
Gyms are both a blessing and a curse. On the plus side, gyms are a fantastic, one-stop spot where you can perform cardio and strength training in one location. Most gyms offer a great selection of both strength training machines, free weights and cardio equipment. Some even offer classes, access to fitness trainers and other amenities such as pools or racquetball courts.
But on the other hand, for many guys they are a curse because often times, gym membership can run upwards of $100 a month or even more. Some require lengthy contracts that are nearly impossible to break.
Another problem with gyms is that due to their location or tight job or family schedules, a lot guys find it just plain difficult to work gym time into their daily schedule.
In working with countless clients over the years, Craig realized that gyms presented a major fitness hurdle for a great many individuals—but at the same time, he found that there were few practical home workout routines that would provide the results that men really want to achieve. With that in mind, Craig devised his TT 12-week Home Workout Revolution program.
In designing the program, Craig combined his very successful Turbulence Training techniques with extensive research into exercises that could easily be performed in the home without the need for expensive or bulky equipment.
The end result is a program that is built on short-burst, metabolic workouts that are the ultimate fat loss key to finally shredding the most stubborn fat and keeping it off – forever.
Craig’s TT Home training strategies are based on his 20-10 ultimate fat loss revolution system, ladder workouts, bootcamp-style workouts and more. The system includes bodyweight circuits and supersets, bodyweight/abdominal workouts, challenge workouts, ladder workouts and others.
The TT Home Workout Revolution is comprised of 12-week cycles for beginning, intermediate and advanced trainers. The in-home Revolution workouts are performed three days a week, with the assumption that you will ‘stay active’ the remaining four days—in other words, just because you train really hard for three days, it doesn’t mean you can be a sloth the other four. The idea is to stay moderately active on all days, not just training days. That doesn’t mean that you can’t rest—it just means don’t take the ‘resting’ to extremes.
Most of the routines have two different workouts “strung” together. If you only have time for one workout, then you just use the first workout shown for that day. Another great aspect of Craig’s program is that if you prefer, you can incorporate the Revolution system into your existing routine so that you can keep doing what you’re doing, while ramping up your body’s fat burning systems.
Craig does not excellent job of explaining the overall program and his descriptions of the exercise are top-notch. Even the most beginning athletes will be able to learn to perform the movements properly, just by following the directions and looking at the pictures that are included for each exercise.
Craig also includes some excellent nutrition information and a number of outstanding ‘bonus’ workouts that truly make this program not only one of the most effective around—but also a great bargain in terms of what you get for your money.
If you are one of those guys who really wants to build muscle, increase your strength, improve your flexibility and shed unwanted fat and pounds but just can’t get to the gym, then Craig’s TT 12-week Home Workout Revolution might be just want you need.
January 17, 2012 by Mike Westerdal
Filed under Bench Press, Bodybuilding and Muscle Building, Muscle Building, Powerlifting, Recent Posts, Reviews, Strength Training, Strength Training Reviews, Training
Ask most anyone that lifts weights what the three most critical lifts are and I can almost guarantee that he will say the bench press, the deadlift and the squat. Of the three, the squat is arguably the most important compound exercise you can perform because it not only works all of the major leg muscles but it strengthens the core and supports muscle growth throughout the body too.
Each of these three exercises is a compound movement that simultaneously recruits multiple muscle groups, making them all critical to explosive gains in strength and mass.
Even more important, all three movements push the body’s endocrine system into overdrive, triggering the release of powerful hormones such as testosterone that drive strength gains and muscle growth.
A guy named Andy Bolton understands this concept better than just about anybody. He’s spent more than 20 years figuring out what works and what doesn’t and has gotten really good at it. Andy is a 7-time WPC World Powerlifting Champion, a 2-time WPO Champion and the first man ever to pull a 1000 lbs Deadlift in competition. In fact, he’s squatted an unbelievable 1214 pounds, benched an incredible 755 pounds and deadlifted more than 1,000 pounds, not once–but twice!
His “Explode” books (one for squats, one for the bench press and one for the deadlift) outline Andy’s techniques for making these critical moves the foundation of a training routine that will blast out more size and strength gains than you ever thought possible.
Although each book covers a different topic, the overall layout of each is very similar. In all three the first couple chapters offer some interesting and useful background information. First, in each book Andy starts out by discussing the spotlighted movement, providing a historical overview of his strength gains in each movement over the years–it’s pretty impressive.
In the Squat and Bench Press books he then moves into a discussion of raw movements, which means that you’re not using any equipment other than a lifting belt, knee wraps or wrist wraps. In the next chapter he moves on to talking about doing the movements equipped. In both cases, this chapter is primarily geared towards competitive powerlifters.
In the Deadlift book, he talks about what to wear and then points out the differences between a “Sumo Deadlift” and a “Conventional Deadlift.” This is excellent information because it enables you to determine which of the two is best suited to you. Some trainers favor one style over the other and try and force their beliefs on everyone, which can lead to injuries.
After these discussions, in all three volumes Andy launches into the heart of the matter, starting with proper set-up. Here he talks about how setting up is the most fundamental element of a solid movement. Obviously, if you aren’t on-target with this critical step from the start, you won’t get the results you want and more important, you set yourself up for failure and even serious injury. In all cases, Andy includes clear descriptions and a photo to demonstrate proper set-up.
In the subsequent chapters, he walks you through all of the various phases that make up the movements. I like the fact that his descriptions are clear, providing enough information so you can perfect the movement, but not so much that it’s distracting. Pictures help you to make sure you’re performing the movements properly. Throughout all three books he offers tips and suggestions to help you get the most out of each exercise.
Afterwards, he shifts to a discussion that to me, is one of the most important chapters in the book and a personal favorite of mine. Here, Andy talks about the importance of having the proper mindset. While yes, proper form and executive are both absolutely critical, if you don’t have the mindset of a champion, you’ll never see the results you want to see. It’s not a very lengthy chapter but Andy does provide his most important tips and suggestions for mentally positioning yourself to explode your squat.
One look at his incredibly impressive record of triumphs and it becomes very apparent that Andy Bolton knows what he’s talking about. Here’s your opportunity to learn from one of the best. So if you are really looking to experience explosive gains in size and strength like never before, check out Explode Your Squat, Explode Your Benchpress or Explode Your Deadlift (or all three) for yourself and see just how far you can go–you might be surprised!
Luke Alisson of CriticalBench.com Interviews Chris Barnard
LA: This is Luke Allison here with the CriticalBench.com weekly Muscle Building Expert Interview series. Today I’m here with Chris Barnard. Chris, how are you?
CB: Good, good, Luke. How you doing?
LA: Doing all right, man. I appreciate you joining us. We have a sort of special topic today that I know people are going to be interested in hearing about, Total Xplosive Training. Give us some background; talk a little bit about that.
CB: About the training itself or how it came about?
LA: Wherever you want to begin.
CB: All right. Well, basically, Total Xplosive Training was… Basically, I kind of just fell into it. I was training… I played football my whole life. I’ve played baseball my whole life, basketball, you know what I mean? Any sport out there, you name it, I kind of was trying to get my hand in anything growing up.
I really tailored-in in football and tried to pursue that after high school. I actually went to a junior college and ended up getting like basically a career-ending injury. I broke my shoulder in a game and I think I separated almost every tendon in the shoulder. And while rehabilitating, I really started to look into different types of training and how I could get my body back into peak shape and basically I wanted to take it to the next level. That’s every kids’ dream is to really use training, you know what I mean? Especially if you have the bad genetics, as they say, to make yourself something, get yourself to that NFL dream.
So, basically what I ended up doing was I started training with Elliott Hulse over here at Strength Camp, and I started doing a couple of different methods and reading online and figuring out all these things. And it wasn’t until I actually started to study it in school to where I started applying that knowledge into my training.
So, when I developed Total Xplosive Training, really what I was doing was I was preparing myself to play Division I football at the University of Miami. So, basically, I just took my workout, along with Elliott Hulse’s, you know, he’s got the meal plan and the Strongman… If you guys aren’t familiar with him, he does a lot of Strongman for football, and things like that. And I took my speed training and kind of just put it all in a pot and really tried to mix it up and make it work, basically for myself.
Well, what ended up happening was I got awesome results. I think I was like… After surgery I was probably like under 200 pounds. I was able to gain all my weight back, all my strength back. I got up to about 235-240 pounds and I was just pure muscle. My strength was through the roof. I was squatting extremely heavy. I mean, I was able to do like five plates for reps, you know what I mean? I was able to bench close to 400 pounds. And this was… We’re applying this to sport training. So, I know I’m not powerlifting numbers, but for sports training that’s pretty good. My 40 time was really reduced. I was able to run the 40 in a 4.58 and for 235 pounds, that’s pretty impressive. I could jump amazingly.
So, I mean, everything was just working for me. So, I though… In my head I was thinking, okay, this is just for me. So, when I was doing this, working alongside Elliott, he gave me the opportunity to work with some of his athletes. Well, my second guess was, okay, I’m just going to see what I can do with these athletes and get them the training that I was going through.
To my surprise, what ended up happening was, these kids who were kind of like weak and scrawny and didn’t really have a hope for getting to the next level, they all started becoming beasts in the gym.
That’s kind of when I just realized, wow, I’ve really got to start putting this stuff on paper and really got to start getting it out to some people. Because, I mean, it’s working really amazingly. Like, the proof is in the pudding, as they say.
So, basically with the training, we’ll talk a little background on that, what we do is we basically start them off by giving them some kind of heavy, like high intensity plyometrics, something to really get their motor system working. The whole thing about Total Xplosive Training, the whole science background, I don’t want to give you the whole textbook hoopla. But basically for people who want to know, we’re training the nervous system. We’re not just training your muscles; we’re training movements. As an athlete and as any person in power training or any kind of athletic performance, they need to tailor-in certain movements.
So, it’s not necessarily what the muscles is doing, how big it is, but it’s more or less what the muscle is doing for you on the field, on the court, you know, in the pool, whatever it might be that your sport is.
So, basically, like I said, that’s the plyometrics. We’re training certain movement patterns that you usually see in your natural sport. So, we can say, for instance, basketball, football, baseball, soccer, MMA, any of these sports, they’re obviously very different as far as the movements go, but then when you look at the underlying, the base features, a lot of it is still the same thing. For football, for basketball, for baseball, for MMA, you still need strong, powerful hits in anything you do. You still need a strong, powerful shoulder joint, everything you do.
So, what we do is we go ahead and we train that at the highest intensity it can go, which is power. It’s your force times your velocity. So, how strong it is times how fast you can move it.
So, we go ahead, like I said, we start off with a speed movement, like a plyometric or some kind of high velocity movement where we’re getting those base movements from each sport to really move, and then what we’re doing is we’re going to then in turn go ahead and train the strengths. So, we’re going to go ahead and move to strength movements where we’re really using some of that brute force to really move some heavy weight.
For instance, I think some of our workouts will consist of something, say like, a couple of different high intensity box jumps. And then, we’ll move into the gym and go ahead and train a couple different variations of the squat, deadlift, maybe some kind of bench press, really heavy.
That basically is the foundation. Like I said, I don’t want to get into too much scientific, some kind of hoopla for you guys, but just to give you the general background of Total Xplosive Training. Does that help you out, Luke?
LA: Absolutely. I think that’s a good start. It sounds a lot like you’re training the power and the velocity like skill work. Usually the idea is do skill work first before you get tired, and then you can sort of move heavy things slowly after that. Is that right? You’ve sort of got your priority…
CB: Yeah. Well, basically what… I mean, a lot of scientific people believe in something called PAP, which is post-activation potentiation. What that is is basically say you lift something heavy and then you go ahead and… A lot of people call it complex training, too. You’re lifting something heavy, you’re creating a stimulus, you’re turning on your muscles, basically. And then, you want to go ahead and use the same muscles to go ahead and do like a powerful jump. Because, what they’re saying is it’s activating your muscles. Now, you can go ahead and do a more high velocity thing.
What I’ve done and what Total Xplosive Training is, basically just flip it. I want to get the most powerful movement that you can, you know, the velocity, in the very beginning while your muscles aren’t fatigued whatsoever. Because, basically what happens is, you have motor units connecting to each one of your muscles. You might have, depending on the size of the muscle, depends on the amount of motor units you have firing. Well, with this, we want to go ahead and activate the most amount of motor units we can. So then, you’re going to get the most out of each particular muscle.
In addition, we want to go ahead and make sure that we are firing efficiency, as we could say, is on point. So, basically, they call it rate coding. We want to make sure that each one of your…the signal being sent for the muscle to turn on is as fast as it possible can. So, that’s why I went ahead and I trained the velocity first.
So, what we do is we, you know what I mean… Like I said, your muscle isn’t going to be fatigued whatsoever. We’re getting down to the correct motor patterns of the muscle to where it’s firing immediately fast and you’re able to get the most power out of it at that point in time.
Then, like I said, as we go into the gym, the strength component is basically to supplement the power. Anything you do… I mean, you think about any sport, unless you’re talking powerlifting or Strongman or something of that nature, you’re not going to be lifting a maximum amount of weight and taking you five seconds or something. Everything is a quick, sudden burst.
So, the strength is there to compliment the power output. And obviously, if the strength is a component of power, if we increase the strength, we’re going to increase the power.
LA: It makes as lot of sense. I think people think of sports and they go, oh, speed is speed and you’re faster or you’re not, and that’s just not the case, is it? You can get faster and jump higher and do all of those things. I think you’re certainly an example of that.
CB: Right, exactly, exactly. Well, yeah, the thing is, like I said, when I got a handful of athletes, I, myself, actually was somebody who… There’s this aura going around that if you have bad genetics you can’t train speed. And I kind of just grew up with that. I saw in my head everybody said… I remember through school, the gym teacher would tell us that. So, I mean, either you’re born with speed or you’re not, and that seems to be the belief that everybody grows up with.
Well, me growing up with that, I wanted to figure something else out. Now, don’t get me wrong, genetics does play a role. I mean, if you look at kids on the playground, and you take two five-year-olds, one of them is going to be faster than the other. You’re going to look at it and say, okay, did one train harder than the other? No. I mean, there is genetics played in every aspect of our life. But, for us to say that genetics can’t be manipulated, or for us to say that training cannot improver your speed, I just… I think that’s a total false statement.
LA: So, you’re trying to give people hope, too. You’re not trying to put people in boxes and say you can’t do this and you can’t do that. Work hard, see what happens.
CB: Exactly. Because, like I said, I was once the underdog. I, myself… I mean, I’m not coming from reading this in a book and trying to tell somebody they can do this. I actually did it myself. Like I said, I had a career-ending injury. I went ahead and I came back and I got on the team for one of the most prestigious schools, you know, out there for college football, the University of Miami.
So, like I said, I took my 40 time from high school, when I was like 180-pounds, from probably like a 5 second 40, and I went ahead and I brought it down to a 4.58, which is pretty fast if you’re watching the combine these days. And that’s just through training speed and strength.
So, what I felt is…what I tell everybody is, there is numerous ways that you can manipulate, depending on what you want to do. And I think that, like you said, if I’m giving people hope, they’re able to understand it can be trained. It’s out there. It’s just what are you willing to do to get that?
LA: Right, and that’s also a matter of if you’re not satisfied with the information you’re getting from your high school program or your college program and you think about changing, look at what Elliott’s doing, look at what Chris is doing. This is serious stuff.
Talk about some of the equipment that you use. Get into some of that. Give people an idea of sort of what this might look like if they pick up the program.
CB: Okay. Well, basically anything that I have in the Total Xplosive Training you can acquire at any gym. I made it with the thought of thinking, okay, there’s going to be those high school athletes, there’s going to be those older guys who want to get back in athletic shape, because obviously everybody wants to look like an athlete. So, I said, you know, it’s nice to have a gym like Strength Camp where we have tires and all kinds of stones and stuff like that and pegs. But, the average, every-day guy isn’t going to have these kinds of things available to him.
So, what I said was, what I’m going to do is I’m going to create this to where wherever you are, I’m going to give it to you to where you can do it in a normal gym setting or you can do it in… Say you have a barbell and some weights in your back yard. You can take care of it the same way. You’ve just got to be a little bit creative.
The most things that I think that we have, you know, people come to me and say, oh, I don’t have boxes for box jumps. Well, I remember being in high school and jumping off of a trash can or jumping over stuff like that just to go ahead and… Because, I, myself couldn’t afford the boxes that they make just for jumping. But, people realize you don’t really need those kind of things.
CB: There you go, exactly. Well, I remember we started doing it off my own truck. So, I mean, people can’t really say too much about not having the right equipment. Like I said, as far as the weights go, a squat rack, a bench, anything with a barbell with some weights on it, is sufficient enough. I think I do have a couple of machines connected in with the training, but they’re nothing more than like a cable or something like that that you can find in your everyday gym.
LA: That’s good. I think that’s what people need to hear, because I think they sometimes get confused about well, if I’m going to be serious, then I have to have all this serious stuff. And that’s kind of not how it works. You have to work your way up to needing all of that. Right?
CB: Right. Exactly. I mean, people think that you need to jump into it and have the best things. And honestly, like we always say, I could give you the best workout in the world, but if you follow it 50%, you’re going to get 50% results. I could give you the worst workout in the world, and I you follow it 100%, you’re going to get great results.
The thing with TXT is, the workout I’m giving you is tailored in for you to get the most out of your athletic potential. So, if you go at this 100% and you have the right setup in the off season for your upcoming season, there’s no way you can lose with it. You’re definitely going to go ahead and increase your athletic performance.
Like I said, I’ve had a basketball player, I’ve had a baseball player, I’ve had a football player. I put them all to the test with it. I was nervous because I said, you know, everybody says one key doesn’t fit all locks. So, I said, okay, this is my training. It’s not going to fit everybody else. Let me go ahead and give it a shot.
It’s kind of like I had some lab rats. Well, each one, you know, the basketball player increased his vertical jump and was able to move quicker and more efficiently on the court. The baseball player went from not hitting one homerun to hitting…I think he hit seven that season. And then the football player was just completely just a beast and went ahead and made the University of South Florida team as a walk-on.
So, I mean, each and every player went ahead and improved their athletic performance, and it’s all from the base foundation of increasing your explosive power.
LA: And that’s exactly what people… I think when people are in the market, that’s what they want to hear, is this has worked. It’s something you thought about and then you did it and then it worked. It’s been in all of the different phases.
Give people an idea how long of a program it is, how many days a week. Go into a little bit of detail, if you can, on that.
SC: Yeah, sure. So, basically, Total Xplosive Training is a three-phase. It’s a base phase. And what we do there is the first month we go ahead and create a foundation. So, what we do is we make sure your hip joint is completely stable and able to go onto the next phase, which is developmental phase. And there, we start developing certain aspects of your game and we increase the intensity and drop the volume. And then, after developmental phase, we go into the peak phase, which is the third and final month. And what that does is basically we increase the intensity and we drop the volume and this is basically what it says. We’re going to be peaking. By now, your numbers are going to be extremely high. You’re going to be breaking all your one-rep max records, your personal records. You’re going to be protecting everything at this time and it’s going to be getting you ready for that season.
So, to sum it up, it’s three-phase, three-month. And each one conjugates with each other so you’re moving slowly into the next phase of being able to get the most out of your training.
As far as how many days per week, we go ahead and we train four days. There’s a lot of…how should I say it? People use these terms with each other, over-reaching and over-training. I think a lot of people get this mixed up with what they’re doing in their training and I believe that over-training, basically, if you’re recovering enough, there won’t be over-training. So, what we do is we give you complete recovery sessions, the complete nutrition to follow and exactly how much sleep you should be getting as well.
So, what we do is we train four days a week and it’s very intense. But, like I said, we do have the recovery and the nutrition included. And so, basically, with the four days you’re able to take off of each movement pattern or muscle being used so that you’re able to develop the next one. Kind of like what they call like a block periodization micro-cycle. So, you’re not using the same muscle each day, but you’re able to go ahead and improve on them throughout the week. If that makes sense.
LA: Oh, it makes sense to me. I’m just making sure that we cover it in enough detail for people that might not. Block periodization, I think that was what you described before, where you have the different sort of monthly blocks, which is just a group of training that’s similar, but that also builds on itself. Because, you’ll be going… You’re not trying to go like three months of distance in one month. You’re trying to go three months of distance in three months.
CB: Right. Well, there’s so many different, you know, after studying this, there’s so many different methods of periodization. I started looking at some of the ones, obviously the traditional western linear, where you’re continuously moving up. I looked at block periodization where you use certain effects, reciprocal effects, to go ahead and build on top of each other. And I’ve also…what I’ve adapted from Elliott Hulse is the Russian conjugate.
So, basically what I try to do is just basically mix these up to where I’m using each one, a particular little piece of my favorite part of each method and building it into its own training program.
So, like I said, it will move you through certain phases like say block periodization. But, at the same time, you are staying strong, you are staying fast, you know what I mean? Because it is three months.
People know, and athletes know, how important this off-season is to them. Like, your off-season is almost everything, because you want to come back that next season and you want to be that person. You want to be that athlete that just stuns everybody and says, you know, look what I did this off-season. I turned my life around, I turned my game around and I’m ready to go.
So, people know that the off-season is short, but they want to get the most out of it. And that’s exactly what Total Xplosive Training does.
LA: And that’s the key. I absolutely want to emphasize that, because the difference between an athlete and someone that’s just lifting is, an athlete has a sport, and that person has a very specific period of time where they can have an off-season and then they also have a specific period of time where they have to get back on the court or back on the field.
LA: It makes all the difference if you do the right thing.
You’ve mentioned MMA fighters, basketball players, football players, anyone else you have experience working with or who you think Total Xplosive Training would be appropriate for?
CB: Like I said, I’ve been… I hate to say this, but even before the whole football thing, I remember in high school I worked at World Gym and then after that I was a trainer at LA Fitness. I don’t like to bring those out, because I don’t like the fashion show gyms too much. I like kind of the hardcore stuff. But, I’ve been working with… You know, I’ve always been attracted to the athletes, because I, myself, have always been one. And I just was able to connect. I understand the intensity they want to go. Now, I’m not taking anything away from the average day lifters, because there are those guys out there who used to play the sport and realize that I’m not going to get anywhere unless I train like an athlete. That’s the beauty about TXT.
I apply TXT to the average-day guy. And what they do is they end up looking back like they used to look when they were playing football or they were playing basketball. You know, that look that they want to get when they’re 30 or so years old, and they realize wow, I can’t just lift, I’ve got to go back to training like an athlete. That’s how I’m going to look my best.
In addition to that, I’ve worked with, like I’ve said, I’ve worked with basketball players, I’ve worked with baseball, football, soccer, swimmers, actually. That was a new one for me. MMA was pretty cool because those are some of the most… I thought football was pretty intense, but MMA guys really love to push themselves. Let me think here, just an overall of sports. I worked with a boxer before, I think.
And the funny thing is, there really isn’t a sport that I’ve helped people out with… You know, I’m actually working with some people in rugby and lacrosse right now, too, as well. But, like I said, there’s not a sport that can’t benefit from it because there’s not a sport that doesn’t have an underlying movement that they can’t… Now, I understand that sport-specific training, meaning if you’re a quarterback, you’re obviously going to throw the ball. If you’re a pitcher you’re going to be practicing your pitching motion and your mechanics. That’s sport-specific training.
But, besides that, each sport has their base movements to where they’re going to want to get the most explosive power and strength out of their body that they can. And by improving that, it’s going to improve every aspect of your game.
If I take a pitcher and he just throws all day long, he’s going to get his mechanics down. Now, say I take that same pitcher and go ahead and apply Total Xplosive Training to him and make him more powerful. Now you see his hip, now you see his rotational muscles, basically his obliques and transverse abdominis getting extremely strong. So now, he’s able to throw that ball a lot harder and a lot more powerful. That’s all it’s doing. It’s complimenting your sport-specific training to basically increase your overall athletic performance.
LA: The two things that I think of when you just said that was, the ability to decelerate, to slow down after you’ve sped up, and then it’s the ability to change direction. And those seem like the things that go, you know, everyone is interested…or should be interested in that if they’re interested in performance. Is that right?
CB: Right. And that’s the whole thing about explosive training. You want to be able to stop… It’s all body control. That’s what athletics are all about. I don’t tell somebody to be the biggest and the craziest looking athlete, but if their body is completely under control at all times, that’s how you train your body, your nervous system to move efficiently and to move as swiftly as possible.
So, I mean, the biggest athlete isn’t necessarily the strongest. So, what you’re doing here is you’re basically teaching an athlete to come to speed, you know, to get the maximum speed as quick as they can and to stop as quick as they can, or make that move as quick as they can.
Say somebody in basketball is crossing-over. Say a baseball player is hitting a fastball, or say an MMA fighter throwing a punch. It’s all moving as fast as you can. As you look, some of the most…the best players in each sport, in every sport there is, I guarantee you they’re usually the fastest or most powerful player. There’s something about them that’s more than the rest. Yeah, there’s technique, obviously involved. But, like I said, the best ones, the best of the best, they usually have, like you said, those two. And that equals they’re the most explosive.
LA: Absolutely. Make it simple. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be.
CB: Right. Exactly.
LA: Fair enough. Chris, if people are interested in getting the program or sort of getting some more information, give them an idea about where they can go and sort of what they can find.
CB: Yeah. Basically, I have it on the website, it’s at TotalXplosiveTraining.com. I believe that Mike here will have a link to it in on his thing that you guys could check it out. I urge people who are serious about their athletic performance to definitely give it a shot this off-season. It’s definitely something to look into. And like I said, I’m always available. I’m not somebody that’s trying to be one to make a quick dollar or anything like that. I really want to help people out.
So, even if… I want people to email me. I love working with people. I’m working with people all across the world right now. And I, myself, am also training, got some things in the woodworks to go ahead and do. So, I just want to create, as far as like a community, to basically help athletes out to get them to their goals. I think that would be pretty neat.
LA: Sounds great. Chris, I appreciate the time. Thank you again.
CB: Luke, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
LA: All right. Take care.
CB: Have a good one. Bye bye.
Review Of Visual Impact Muscle Building by Mike Westerdal
When you’re lean and muscular you feel stronger, healthier and more confident. And though lots of men would say that they took up the sport because they want to improve their health, the truth is that the millions of guys do it because they like the way it makes them look. They honestly don’t care whether they’re lifting 100 pounds or a thousand—as long as they achieve the muscular look they want, they’re happy.
This is just a fact of life. Some guys lift weights because they truly care about how much weight they can lift and the number of reps they can do while others are really just there to make the ‘beach muscles’ look good. For those of you who are more interested in how you look than how much you can lift, there is a training program just for you. Visual Impact Muscle Building by Rusty Moore is all about making strategic muscle gains for a visually stunning body.
In chapter one, Rusty discusses the ‘Big 3’ of bodybuilding: squats, dead-lifts and bench press. For years, these have been the sort of ‘holy trinity’ for building mass. In this first part of the book he talks about how these exercises can be detrimental for the guy who is on a quest to build a visually stunning body. From Rusty’s perspective, for the guy striving to look his ‘beach muscle best,’ the problem with these exercises is that they perform too well, putting on too much mass or developing mass in proportions that are not necessarily visually appealing. He does not however, say that these should be avoided entirely, just that they should be used strategically, rather than comprising the entire foundation of a training regimen as they often do for many bodybuilders.
Next, Rusty provides us with an overview of the basic science behind how muscles get bigger and stronger. He includes a brief but thorough discussion about the differences between Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy and Myofibrillar Hypertrophy, the two different types of muscle growth. I really like the way he presents the information so that you can decide which approach is best for you depending on your particular goals. This section is followed by a chapter that is focused on ‘cumulative fatigue.’ This is an interesting section that teaches the reader about the different results that can be achieved by varying the number of reps, the rest period between sets and the rep tempo.
Chapters four through six also provide some really worthwhile information about strategies you can use to ramp up size gains. In all of these chapters Rusty does a great job of explaining everything in an easy-to-understand manner without being overly simplistic.
In the following chapter, Rusty gets into the nutritional aspects of the Visual Impact approach to weight training. He offers sound advice about nutrition and handy formulas for determining how many calories you should be consuming each day to achieve your goals. Afterwards, he brings up supplements and says something that I know the supplement companies don’t like to see in print—don’t waste your money on expensive supplements, because they’re not worth it. Rusty is however a big fan of Creatine, which has actually been scientifically proven to contribute to muscle building.
With the basic stuff out of the way, Rusty then gets into a presentation of information that enables you to develop your own custom routine that will enable you to achieve your particular goals. The basic workout routine is comprised of three phases of two months each for a total of six months.
The first includes a strong focus on sarcoplasmic hypertrophy to add quick volume to the muscles. The next phase is the hybrid power-muscle building part of the routine, which serves to harden up the muscles. Phase three is built on lower volume of lifts with higher weights to further harden the muscles. This phase also includes some ‘fat killing’ strategies to get rid of excess body fat. Rusty also includes a bonus phase for quickly building mass prior to an event.
On the whole I think that Rusty has put together a solid program that is based on real science. And depending on your body type and particular goals you hope to achieve, the program is readily adaptable for just about anyone, regardless of skill level. His instructions are easy to follow and don’t include a lot of unnecessary jargon or fluff just to impress you. While Rusty’s ideas are obviously not right for everyone, if your primary goal is to look your ‘beach muscle best,’ then Visual Impact might just be the program for you.
Nick Nilsson is a professional fitness expert, personal trainer and prolific author best known for his cutting edge, don’t just think outside the box but invent a new box and think outside of that, training routines. In fact, that really seems to be his niche—researching and developing training programs that go directly against conventional muscle-building norms. Nick’s latest work focuses exclusively on the chest.
Like his other “best exercises you’ve never heard of” works, Best Chest Exercises is all about changing things up to “shock” your body into growth. It’s important to do that too because our bodies quickly adapt to our training routines. Muscle growth is the body’s response to the “stress” of lifting weights. As the body gets used to doing the same exercises, the stress that causes the muscles to grow, lessens. That’s why any bodybuilder that doesn’t regularly mix up his training regimen will hit a plateau and stop seeing gains. And that’s a an area where Nick has really learned to excel—introducing radically different approaches designed to “send your results through the roof,” as Nick puts it.
For those of us who like to dive right in, Nick gets right to the exercises. And he doesn’t just give you a few, but more than 50 different ones to choose from. What I especially like is that there really is something for everyone, regardless of your skill level or how strong you are.
The range of exercises he presents includes a nice mix of bodyweight, free weight, dumbbell and cable movements. Most of them can be done in just about any ordinary gym. For a few of them though, you may have invest a little money picking up a few things here and there, but really not much. In fact, looking through the necessary equipment, elastic training bands are about the only thing I see that might not be in some gyms. But they’re not very expensive and for the results you’ll get, well worth the small investment.
One of the things I really like about Nick’s style is that unlike some fitness authors, he makes it a point to really demonstrate the proper way to do all of the exercises in the book. Some guys are content to give you some vague instructions about what you ought to be doing and what happens is that since you don’t know the proper form, you wind up injured and out of commission. Not only does Nick demonstrate the movements in words and pictures, but he also includes links to videos that really help you capture the nuances of how to properly perform the movements.
Since there are too many different exercises to go through in an article, I’ll talk about just a few of them so you can get an idea of how Nick’s training approach really is radically different than the norm.
Let’s start with Ab Sling Flies, which is a bodyweight isolation movement. This exercise is a great example of Nick’s propensity to use equipment NOT for the purpose it was designed for. In fact, he says it’s his specialty. To do this exercise you’ll need an ordinary pair of ab slings, which you’ll find at nearly any gym. Nick shows us how to use the slings, a power rack and a weight bench to do an incredibly effective fly movement that’s like a pec deck but so much better.
A bit later, he introduces the Swiss Ball into the mix, providing demonstrations of how to do some really chest pumping movements using the ball with cables, bodyweight, dumbbells and even a barbell with plates. And although some of the exercises sound and look pretty complicated to perform, Nick uses clearly written instructions, illustrative pictures and video demonstrations you make sure that you’re using the proper form.
He does this though not just here, but throughout the entire book. In some areas—like the incline barbell bench press for example—he even takes the time to briefly discuss common issues or simple mistakes that we all make, showing how to avoid or overcome them to really maximize your gains.
He wraps up the book with a few longer articles that offer up some truly fantastic tips and tricks to really bring about some incredible gains. To wrap it up, I’ll say that is The Best Chest Exercises You’ve Never Heard of really is a great read that can really help you achieve the gains you want to see.
Another really cool thing about the eBook is that you can use it as plugin with whatever program you’re currently on. Let’s say you’re doing the Critical Bench program but you want to substitute something for incline dumbbell flyes. Just grab a killer exercise from Nick’s book and you don’t have redo your entire program. Just use his cool exercise ideas to modify what’s already working pretty for you. Change is good my friend, so mix up your exercises!
Have you tried any of Nick’s Chest exercises? If so leave a comment below and share your experience.
Review of Nick Nilsson’s new eBook,
“The Best Arm Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of“
So what’s the first thing you think of when you think of “arm training” – if you’re like a lot of trainers, you immediately think barbell curls and pushdowns. Or dumbell curls and dips, etc. The “standard” exercises, right?
Well, it’s time to think outside the box! Or as Nick Nilsson (the author of “The Best Arm Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of”) puts it…time to make a NEW box and think outside of THAT one!
The Best Arm Exercises” is a very interesting book…68 unique exercises for the bicep, triceps and forearms ONLY. This is thing has NO fluff – it’s just packed with training information.
So Why a book on JUST Arms?
That’s the first question I asked Nick when he first sent this book along to me for a review. After all, the trend right now is more towards functional and “total body” styles of training. Direct and/or isolated arm work seems to take a back seat to that type of approach these days.
Basically, is this just for fun or just fluff training?
So here’s his reasoning as to why direct arm training should be done…as he was telling me this stuff, it really made a lot of sense.
1. Direct Arm Training Can be Useful as Assistance Work for the “Big” Exercises
Let’s say your bench press has been stuck in a plateau because you have trouble fully locking the bar out at the top. That top range of motion is a primarily triceps. By directly working the triceps with effective “assistance” exercises, you can immediately see results that carry over to your big movements.
Obviously, any pressing movement is going to have a substantial tricep component. What about biceps? Bicep strength plays an important role in rowing and pulling exercises, like chin-ups, bent-over rows…even deadlifts.
Remember…your body is only as strong as it’s weakest link.
If you’re doing a bench press and your triceps are relatively weaker than your chest, it’s going to LIMIT the amount of weight you can push. By directly strengthening your weak links, you can improve your total strength in the big lifts.
Same for an exercise like chin-ups. Your back may be strong, but if your bicep (or even forearm!) strength limits your training, you’ll never maximize your performance in that exercise.
A targeted application of direct arm training can really make a big difference in your lifting.
And, of course, you need to use EFFECTIVE exercises for this purpose, otherwise you’re wasting your time.
“The Best Arm Exercises” has some EXTREMELY targeted stuff that certainly fits the bill as big exercise “assistance” exercises.
2. Training Variety
Obviously, a book full of 68 new exercises is going to give you a LOT of variety to choose from. Your body thrives on variety and change…you still DO need to maintain a level of consistency to achieve a training effect, but something as simple as a new exercise or a new way of doing something can really spark results.
Nick actually acknowledges this as well – in his own training, he tells me that it’s about 75% “normal” stuff…squats, deadlifts, bench press, that kind of thing. The other 25% is a rotation of the unique exercises you see presented in his books and on his sites.
You really do HAVE to keep some consistency in order to see results – perform random exercises without regard to adaptation just won’t get you anyway. When I asked Nick about this specific point as it relates to his book, he said…
“Here’s the approach you have to take with this type of resource – take your time with it and pick out a few exercises you want to try. Use them the next time you train arms and see how they work for you. Generally speaking, if an exercise is going to work for you, you’ll feel it pretty quickly. Stick with the ones you get the biggest effect from then gradually work in OTHER exercises on a rotational basis like a continuous audition process at a soap opera.
As good as these exercises are, I’m quite sure there will be ones that don’t work equally as well for everybody. You have to experiment and find out what works best for YOU. Then work it HARD!”
Let’s say you’ve been training the “Big 3” lifts (squat, bench, and deadlift) a LOT and for a LONG time. There comes a time when you need to back off and “deload”, reducing your training volume for recovery purposes. If you keep hammering away at heavy exercises, your body breaks down…muscle, connective tissue and nervous system. That’s when injuries happen.
And this is the perfect time to work in some unique exercises like the ones Nick has in his book – you can use this time to build strength in your weaker muscle groups and really target your weak points.
4. Compound Exercises For The Arms
One of the nice things Nick has done with this book is include plenty of compound exercises for the arms…not hard to find for the triceps in the scope of normal exercises (think of dips, close grip bench press, etc.) but generally a bit tougher to find for biceps…it’s usually all curls.
Several of the exercises are variations of pull-ups or rows that make adjustments in setup and/or execution in order to change the focus from back to biceps. They’re VERY simple to execute and WOW do they really have potential.
The real standout exercise in that department is the Nilsson Curl, which can be best described as a chin-up with your forearms braced against a bar set about a foot lower than the one you’re gripping on.
As Nick explains it, this bracing keeps you from being able to pull your body straight up, which normally engages the lats. By blocking your forearms like this, it forces you to pull yourself up and around in an arc with the elbow as the pivot. This is almost ALL biceps (80 to 90%) with assistance being provided by the lats instead of the other way around.
You can actually SEE this exercise in action as one of the sample exercises on Nick’s site for the book. It’s a very cool exercise and it’s a great twist on a classic exercise to really shift the focus to the biceps and work them with a compound exercise.
Yes, arm training IS fun and SHOULD be fun! The real “meat and potatoes” work is done under the squat bar and at the deadlift, but there’s nothing wrong with enjoying training those “mirror” muscles from time to time, too. 🙂
A few Things That Could Be Improved About the Book…
When you get this book, you’re obviously getting a book about exercises. But One thing that would be a nice addition would be some targeted sample workouts for working those exercises into a program.
These exercises are so unique, that it might be hard some trainers to figure exactly how to best use these in a program.
I asked Nick about this and he said he’s actually got several unannounced bonus gifts for people when they pick up the book that will address this exact thing. He wanted to keep it as a surprise, as a way of saying “thanks” but if it’s the lack of programs really shouldn’t be something that should hold you back from getting this book.
The other thing that I can see is that there aren’t that many forearm exercises in the book (5 for the forearms as compared to 33 for the biceps and 30 for the triceps). Nick told me he’s going to be addressing this in updates to the book as he definitely knows the forearm stuff needs to be built on.
Here’s the thing…
When you get the book, you’ll also get free updates for life, so those forearm exercises are going to be something you’ll be getting soon enough…as if the other 63 exercises aren’t plenty to keep going for a long time anyway!
The last thing I should mention is that if you’re limited on equipment, there will be a few exercises that you won’t be able to perform…there are a few that require cable machines (though creative use of training bands/elastics would be a good substitute) and a few that require a power rack.
But even with fairly BASIC equipment like a bench and some free weights, you’ll be able to perform the VAST majority of these exercises just fine. Several of them require no equipment at all or things that can very easily be improvised.
Now, if you’ve seen the exercises that Nick has created before, you’ll know exactly what this book is all about…very cool, very effective exercises that will have everybody in your gym coming up and asking you what the heck you’re doing.
These exercises are very well thought out and have a lot of potential both for improving your arms AND for helping improve your “big” exercises through assistance training.
Plus, the exercises are just plain fun!