The Information Problem
Just the other day I was thinking that it's hard to believe my first published training article, The Creation Of A T-Man, ran just over 2 years ago. It seems like just yesterday.
So, in a fit of nostalgia, I took a walk down memory lane.
After reading the article again, I thought-in what must have been a moment of temporary delusion-that I might go ahead and take a quick gander at each of the training articles published on the web since my first training article.
After a few hours, I gave up, teetering on the brink of retinal burnout.
For just a six month period, I counted at least 39 articles devoted to improving some aspect of one's lifting program. At a rate of 39 training articles per 1/2 year, we can assume that about 176 strength training related articles have been published from June of 2001 to October of 2003.
Now, while not all of these articles present comprehensive training programs, each article focuses on something strength-training related, like increasing your maximum bench press, increasing neural recruitment, increasing hamstring strength, preventing bench press injury, or training to melt fat. Now that's a lot of awesome training information!
Despite the wealth of training information provided, however, I'm noticing a puzzling and disturbing trend. It seems that more and more individuals are spending an inordinate amount of time learning about building a great physique but very little time actually building that great physique.
It's as if many people have lost sight of the true prize afforded by learning about training and nutrition-the ability to use that knowledge to affect change.
If you're like most of the people I meet every day, your self-justification defenses are tingling like Spiderman's spidey senses. So I urge you to take an honest look at how much time you spend reading about training and nutrition and compare that time spent to the amount of physique progress you've made. Hopefully it's worth it.
For those of you still unconvinced there's a problem, all we need to do is take a look outside the scope of this subculture and look at the health and weight loss industries.
In both of these multi-billion dollar empires, there's more good exercise and nutrition information than ever, but there are also more and more sick and obese people than ever.
So I continually ask the question,
While the answer to this question is beyond the scope of this particular article, I'd like to offer two potential explanations for this phenomenon.
First, it's my opinion that many people get confused when they're presented with a barrage of facts divorced from the context necessary to implement these facts into a comprehensive strategy.
If I tell you to eat a low glycemic index food but don't tell you which foods are low on the glycemic scale, the suggestion is worthless. Furthermore, if I tell you how to rehab a knee injury but don't show you how to fit it into the context of your entire program, you'll probably skip either the rehab or the other training since you don't know how they should be integrated.
Finally, if I give you a training program and then tell you that you should eat "a healthy diet" to complement it, you'll probably fail on the diet part because who the heck knows what "a healthy diet" is?
If you fancy yourself hardcore, you'll probably berate these types of individuals for not doing more reading on these topics so they can implement them. But over the years I've come to the conclusion that one need not earn a degree in nutritional physiology to earn the right to eat healthier and improve their body composition and health profile.
Moving on, the second reason why knowledge and results are often divorced is that many individuals are simply too lazy to do the work necessary to have a great physique. You know who these individuals are.
They spend so much time talking about training and nutrition each day that they hardly train. And when they do train, they're so busy counting time under tension numbers and rest intervals that they never really focus on unleashing the beast and pushing up big weights.
That's right... I said, "unleashing the beast" and I'd say it again. I'm convinced that each and every one of us has the beast within and when we hit the gym, we need to summon the beast to do our bidding. I've heard people talk about finding inner balance and peace while you train. I'd like to beat those people between sets of deadlifts.
To train hard and develop an outstanding physique, you must "find the anger" within and unload it on the bar. Not only will you feel better when you've done the workout, having purged your subconscious inner demons, but you'll also have stimulated the body to improve through brute acts of force and strength.
How's that for motivational?
Unleashing the beast, though, is hard work and many find this work far too hard to do. So rather than going into this zone, they try to replace raw, hard lifting with the acquisition of knowledge; the more they learn the better they feel about their wussified lifting protocol.
Well, they feel better for about 90% of the time because they convince themselves that they're better than the "meatheads" who just go out there and lift. But the other 10% of the time is spent in stark naked shame, trying to hide from the fact that they don't have the courage to take their lifting to that level of intensity necessary to create change.
This Article Is For You
So, regardless of whether you're confused by too much out of context information or too wrapped up in the information side to actually unleash the beast, to feel the primal joy of lifting a heavy bar, this article is for you. With it I hope to present a novel integrated nutrition, training, and supplement program that I've used with great success.
Furthermore, I hope to demonstrate exactly what kind of training it takes to build a 195 lb physique that holds less than 5% body fat. After all, it's not a neuromuscular theory that gets a 365lb barbell off my chest during the 3rd rep of a bench press set; it's my daily commitment to success in the gym.
Nasty Side Effects:
After using the original T-man strategies (separate strength and hypertrophy phases connected by ample rest weeks and "bridge programs" that allow for a gradual change from one type of training to another) effectively for a few years, I began getting constant challenges from my strength and power athletes to train with them. After all, my max strength was better than almost every one of them so they wanted to be strong like me.
Truth be told, however, I knew they were more "athletic" than me so I was a bit embarrassed that they might be able to beat me in the speed and agility exercises. So I holed myself away and got better at speed and agility work so that I could then compete with these guys.
Finally, when I began to train with these guys, I was able to hold my own. There's nothing like being able to sprint with, clean with, and out-lift elite athletes up to 8 years younger than you (well, unless you're 18, then it isn't so gratifying bullying the pee-wee football teams, but when you're 29... ).
Interestingly, the combined strength and power work I was doing in the gym had one major side effect that I hadn't bargained for. It added a nice chunk of mass to my physique as well. Considering that the combined strength and power training I was doing was fun and was making me much bigger and stronger while quicker and more agile, I realized that this was a comprehensive program that I needed to share with the T-mag audience. So here it is:
Break Out The Log:
The Training Log, That Is
Training - 4 weeks
The first 4 weeks of this training program come right on the heels of a traditional bodybuilding program as outlined in the original T-man article. Therefore this 4-week program is designed to get the body accustomed to lifting heavy weights repeatedly by creating both rapid neural and muscular adaptations in the largest muscle groups.
Odd numbered days are the primary lifting days. The first exercise of each odd numbered day is designed to be performed with moderate loads (in the neighborhood of 60-70% of max) and maximum speed, making this exercise the power-building exercise of the system.
|60-70% OF 1 RM CALCULATOR|
Enter the amount of weight you can lift (in pounds) and the number of reps you can lift it for.
The second exercise of each odd numbered day is performed with maximum weight with no concern for bar speed, making this exercise the strength increasing exercise of the system. And the final exercises of each odd numbered day are performed as body weight exercises taken just short of failure on each set.
The even numbered days focus on working "auxiliary" body parts like arms, abs, and some upper back work (my upper back needs constant attention). By utilizing a higher repetition approach, these body parts are metabolically challenged and called upon to adapt, but the high repetition nature of the exercises should allow for less central nervous demand between major lifting days.
Since these days also work overall conditioning via cycle sprints, they'll get you ready for more intense sprint work during next phase.
Here's the program, including the weights I used during week one:
Day 1: Monday:
Snatch: 8 sets x 3 reps
(135, 135, 145, 145, 155, 155, 155, 155 lbs)
Bench: 8 sets x 3 reps
(315, 315, 315, 315, 325, 325, 325, 325 lbs)
Chins: 8 sets x 1-2 reps short of failure
(10, 10, 8, 8, 6, 6, 5, 5 reps)
Day 2: Tuesday:
Standing Barbell Curls: 3 sets x 15 reps
(135 lbs x 3 sets)
*Cycling Intervals: 30 seconds on, 90 seconds off for a total of 15 minutes
Day 3: Wednesday:
Cleans: 8 sets x 3 reps
(185, 185, 205, 205, 215, 215, 215, 215)
Squat: 8 sets x 3 reps
(405, 405, 405, 405, 425, 425, 425, 425)
Dips: 8 sets x 1-2 reps short of failure
(12, 12, 10, 10, 10, 10, 9, 9)
Day 4: Thursday:
T-Bar Row w/Scapula retracted: 3 sets x 15 reps
(100 X 3)
**Dragon Flags: 3 sets x 1-2 reps short of failure
(8, 8, 8)
30 seconds on, 90 seconds off for a total of 15 minutes
Day 5: Friday:
Push Press: 8 sets x 3 reps
(205, 205, 205, 205, 225, 225, 225, 225)
Deadlifts: 8 sets x 3 reps
(405, 405, 405, 405, 425, 425, 425, 425)
1 Leg Squats: 8 sets x 1-2 reps short of failure
(8, 8, 8, 6, 6, 6, 5, 5)
Day 6: Saturday:
Lying Triceps Extensions: 3 sets x 15 reps
(135 X 3)
Hanging Leg Raises: 3 sets x 15 reps
(15 X 3)
Cardio: 15 minutes
**Dragon Flags, a.k.a. reverse crunches, are done lying with your back flat on a bench. Hold the bench securely behind your head. Curl your legs up and push upwards straight above your head with weight resting on your shoulders. Keeping your legs straight and hips pushed forward, lower back to the ground.
***Sets are never taken to muscular failure on this program. Also, the first few sets of each exercise are performed with a lighter weight due to the fact that muscular strength and power improves during subsequent sets.
****At the end of this 4 week program, take 1 full week off from training.
Nutrition & Supplement Plan - 4 weeks
During this phase, nutrition intake is the same on all training days. On Sunday (an offday from training), eliminate workout drinks.
Meal 1 - Breakfast 8:00 AM
1-cup egg whites
2 cups spinach
1 piece fat-free cheese
1-cup (weighed uncooked) oats
1 green tea with lemon
*While cooking breakfast, drink 1 serving Power Drive in 1L water (if it doesn't keep you up)
Meal 2 - Snack 11:00 AM
Meal 3 - Lunch 2:00 PM
6 oz salmon
1-cup (measured cooked) lentils
1-tablespoon fresh garlic
Meal 4 - Snack 5:00 PM
6 fish oil capsules
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon flax oil
2 scoops Low Carb Grow!
*Mix all ingredients together (except fish oil)
Workout - 6:00 PM
1 serving Surge
1 scoop Gatorade
Post-Workout - 7:30 PM
1 serving Surge
1 scoop Gatorade
Dinner - 9:00 PM
4 oz lean beef
1/2 block Tofu cooked in soy sauce and ginger
1-cup (measured cooked) navy beans
* While cooking dinner, drink 1 serving Power Drive in 1L water
This nutritional plan provides about 4000 kcal with 314g protein, 455g carbs, and 117g fat. And no, the meal structure doesn't adhere rigidly to the Massive Eating plan. As I've discussed elsewhere, none of my athletes nor myself follow that program year-round.
Why, you might ask? Well, the Massive Eating protocol is a tool to use in your arsenal but it's not the end all, be all of nutritional strategies like some people make it out to be. Regardless, if you do the math, you'll notice that no meals are particularly high in both carbs and fat.
With respect to food preparation, if you cook your beans and lentils for the week on the weekend, no food meal should take longer than 10 minutes to prepare. Therefore your total cooking time for the day should be 10 min per food meal (30 minutes) plus another 10 minutes to prepare all yogurt and shake meals (do this at one time in the AM) for a total of 40 minutes of food prep time per day.
If you try to generate an excuse for not being able to make this small commitment to your physique, you deserve to be dragged into the forest and beaten under the moonlight.