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To The Extreme: 5 Ball-Busting Training Techniques

Sure, some workout techniques are hard. But these workout techniques threaten to leave chalk outlines on the gym floor.

If I were to graph my training intensity or workout quality, it would probably be a bell shape. Most of my training sessions fall somewhere in the middle—pretty good. Maybe 5-10 percent of those sessions were complete crap. At the other end lie those workouts that are freaking amazing. I performed well. I was intense. I blew up the weights.

These awesome sessions are usually the result of planning. Often they happen on special days. For example, the day I got married I went through The Kill before taking my vows. Thanksgiving is coming up soon, and I'm planning something particularly nasty since it's also my birthday. Call it a sick present to myself.

Extreme training techniques aren't something you can do all the time. The body can't recover at a certain point. However, if you are looking for some ideas for a crazy training session or a way to throw variety into your program, try out some of these ideas.

1/
Tabata

This is a personal favorite of mine, great for use on those days when you're short on time. It's fairly simple and can be used for a variety of lifts, though I suggest front squats, thrusters, deadlifts or any compound lift that you have the stamina to perform for a while.

How you do it ///

We will use the front squat as our example. Select a light weight to perform with, say 30-50% of your one-rep max. Have a friend with a stopwatch nearby. Once you unrack the weight, your time will start. In 20 seconds, complete as many front squats as you can. At the end of 20 seconds, you have 10 seconds to rack the weight, rest, and unrack the weight. When your ten seconds are up, you had better be in position to start the next round, because you are going to do this seven more times! In four minutes, you will perform eight sets of front squats. You should be completely wrecked at the end of this. If you have any gas left, you weren't trying hard enough.

Sample Tabata Workout


2/
Litnivov

Track-and-field athletes can be tremendously powerful. It makes sense. Hundred-meter sprinters and throwers have to produce as much force as they can in a short time frame. A popular method taken from champion thrower Sergey Litnivov involves a combination of a heavy compound strength move and a short-distance sprint.

How you do it ///

The most popular version of this method also uses the front squat, but you can substitute any heavy, compound barbell movement if you like. The technique is simple. Load up a heavy weight and perform eight repetitions. Rack the weight, and then immediately run 400 meters. Perform for three sets, and take what rest time you need in between. You will get out of this what you put into it. If you only load up 50% of your max and jog your 400 meters, Mr. Litnivov will want to drop his hammer on your head.

Sample Litnivov Method Workout

Superset



3/
The Mile

Sometimes, we want our training to reinforce our mental fortitude. That may require some time to think about the horrible things you are doing to yourself, to question why you ever started working out in the first place. A fine way to test yourself is to walk a mile in your own shoes ... dragging some heavy shit. Your Xbox will suddenly seem more attractive to you about halfway through this challenge!

How you do it ///

Many athletes now do some sort of functional "general physical preparedness" training to round out their fitness. One of the most popular and effective things to do is sled dragging. You can drag it forward or backward—the latter will fry your grip and upper back. If you don't have a sled, get a tire and throw 25-50 pounds in it. Attach a rope or chain to a handle and you're ready to rock and roll. The movement is simple. Drag the sled for a mile.

Safety Tip: If you're out on a road, wear reflective clothing. I do this with a partner. This not only adds to the safety, but I go one mile out, and the training partner drags it back in.

The Mile


4/
Breathing Squat

Sometimes when you are doing extreme training, weird things happen. I've hallucinated, passed out, bled from my pores, and heard things. There are few things more effective at taking you to that level (if you so desire it) than high rep squats. Many gym goers skip (proper) squats because they can be difficult and produce fatigue. High-rep squats will leave your brain fried in another plane of existence.

How you do it ///

The important thing here is weight selection. Select your normal 10-rep max. We're going to do it for 20. It really is that simple. After each repetition, pause for a few seconds and breathe. The thing about squats is that no matter how much it hurts, it always seems like there is room for one more. With a few breaths in between, the back half of this set will blow your mind.

Breathing Squat Workout
  • Squat Squat

    Squat

    1 rest-pause set of 20 reps using 10-rep max (perform 1 rep and rest/breathe for a few seconds)


5/
Linda

Linda is a bitch. While I like that CrossFit gets people doing serious movements such as Olympic lifts, power lifts, strongman movements, etc., I always worry about technique breakdown. Watch out for that as you attempt "Linda," a popular CrossFit Workout of the Day (WoD) that will kick your ass. This isn't training I would do regularly, but it makes a great challenge workout.

How you do it ///

After warming up, prepare three stations. The first station is deadlift, with the bar loaded to 1.5 times your body weight. The second station is the bench press, loaded to your body weight. The final station will be a clean, with 3/4 of your body weight. Blast through 10 sets of each of these in sequence, beginning with 10 repetitions and dropping a rep each set (10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1). Complete it as fast as you can. If necessary, scale down the weight as you progress.

Linda Workout

Triset

  • Deadlift Deadlift

    Deadlift

    10 sets of 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 reps at 1.5 times bodyweight (decrease as necessary)
  • Bench Press Bench Press

    Bench Press

    10 sets of 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 reps at bodyweight (decrease as necessary)
  • Clean Clean

    Clean

    10 sets of 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 reps at 0.75 times bodyweight (decrease as necessary)



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About The Author

Matt is the Training and Nutrition Specialist for Bodybuilding.com. He has studied Exercise Science and is a competitive strength athlete.

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jwethall

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jwethall

Linda is the B!tch that always gets in my way when I try to squat or deadlift, and have to wait while the person "linda-ing" takes 40 minutes to finish.

Oct 27, 2012 1:27pm | report
datrainer

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datrainer

Great article Matt, it's interesting to see how " Crossfit concepts" or GPP are mixing up with Body building.For sure something positive it's going to come up. Max from

body-attitude blog

Oct 27, 2012 2:50pm | report
ns3rchv8

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ns3rchv8

crossfit is for b!tches.

get your *** in the gym and do some real focused long sustaining work.

Nov 2, 2012 4:16pm | report
SecondsOut

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SecondsOut

My routine's becoming stale, but I've been lazy about reading up on new routines. A handful of quick ideas like this is exactly what I needed. I'm pretty sure I'll be in a semi-catatonic state after that breathing squat set. Either that or I'll receive prophetic visions and start speaking in tongues. 20 reps with your 10-rep max is insane lol

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Oct 28, 2012 8:54am | report
emilysingan

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emilysingan

I haven't thought of doing tabata which comprise of front squat before! Will try this

Oct 28, 2012 8:31pm | report
Samuelf93

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Samuelf93

i love linda...

Oct 29, 2012 2:35pm | report
straightmirin

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straightmirin

if its not crossfit your doing it wrong

Nov 5, 2012 9:00am | report
leon189

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leon189

i have been using this "breathing squte" techniq for a while and tell you the truth i think its kinda dangerous, i almost pass out couple of times...

Nov 6, 2012 12:32pm | report
FitMachine

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FitMachine

Thanks for the variety. I do the sled and it's awesome. I run up a hill with it, but will try 1-mile. Tough.

Nov 8, 2012 1:07pm | report
jglennpt

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jglennpt

I love the cross fit hate lol. In all honesty, cross fit is just a normal power athlete work out. Its stuff ive been doing all my life anyway, i just never called it cross fit. To me its just lifting.

Mar 21, 2013 3:07pm | report
xMAGNIx

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xMAGNIx

Crossfit has its place in the fitness world. Whoever would say otherwise, I would point out Rich Froning. Probably stronger and far more capable of sustained intensity than 90 percent of traditional weight lifters; and he's under 200 lbs. To each their own!

Jun 19, 2013 7:44am | report
Showing 1 - 11 of 11 Comments

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