Fanfest 2014

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You’ve read the title and are already thinking “What? That’s so far away!” Is it though? Not if you want to train like Roc.

70% of all people who start a fitness plan quit. Except you. Not this time.

Consider this a personal challenge. In fact, I’m opening up the Roc’s Challenges Facebook group to everyone so we can keep each other accountable.

Do you know why most people quit fitness plans?

  • boredom with repetition
  • not seeing results
  • missing a day

Boredom with Repetition

Really? Don’t you go to your job each and every day and essentially do the exact same thing ad nausea? If you don’t, then we’re few of the fortunate ones, but that’s not the point here. The point is that we are all creatures of habit and that is how we get results. Boredom is often confused with lack of commitment. Fortunately, you just need to keep at it until it becomes a new habit.

However, if you truly, honestly cannot stand repeating the same types of exercise, then you’re still making excuses. I just look at my iPhone. I have 10 different fitness apps installed, all of which have hundreds of exercises in them and customize each day’s program. Powerlifting, Bodybuilding, TRX, HIIT, 7 Minutes, Sprint Training, Bodyweight Training … do you really think your excuse is valid?

Get over yourself and get to it.

Not Seeing Results

Often we don’t see results because we aren’t bringing enough intensity to our workouts, we have lousy form, we don’t use enough weight, or we’re not changing things up to keep our muscles guessing. Here are four quick approaches guaranteed to get results:

Minute on the Minute Sets (MOTM)

What I like about minute-on-the-minute sets is that they allow you to get a high volume of relatively intense work packed into a short time frame.

MOTM works like this – you start a set at the top of the minute for a specific number of reps. After completing those reps, you rest for whatever remains of that minute. Then, at the top of the next minute, you begin your next set.

So if you were to load a trap-bar with your 5-6 rep max (RM) and hit a trap-bar deadlift for 3 reps every minute on the minute for 10 sets, you would perform 30 pretty heavy deadlifts in a total of 10 minutes. Not too shabby.

Another way to approach the MOTM concept is to use a relatively lighter load and add 1 rep every minute (1 rep in minute one, 2 reps in minute two, etc.). In this scenario you get the additional work from the reps while also shortening the rest period between sets (remember, you’re only resting for what remains of the minute once your reps are done).

Try loading a bar with 50% of your 1 RM in the push press and start with 1 rep at the top of the minute. Continue to add 1 additional rep each minute until you can no longer finish the set within 60 seconds. After you smoke the first few sets you’ll be amazed at how quickly this becomes really difficult.

Both versions of MOTM sets can be done with almost any exercise, but I recommend using compound, multi-joint staples such as chin-ups, bench press, deadlift, squat, and overhead press.

Never-ending Sets

A very close relative to the MOTM sets are never-ending sets. Here you keep the X number of reps at the top of the minute protocol, but rather than keeping the weight on the bar the same, you add load every minute.

For example, start with a 135-pound front squat for 2 reps at the top of the first minute. Then add 10 pounds and go for another 2 reps at the top of the second minute. Keep adding 10 pounds per minute until you can no longer hit those 2 reps.

Again, you can use nearly any exercise with this scheme but compound barbell-based movements work best. The thing I like about never-ending sets is that it’s a density-based challenge that really pushes stronger lifters, which isn’t easily achieved in more traditional metabolic circuits or time-based challenges.

Tonnage Programs

Tonnage is simply the total load volume of any particular exercise or workout.

Take the total number of reps, multiply it by the number of sets, then multiply that by the weight used – that’s your tonnage.

For example, if you perform 10 sets of the bench press with 100 pounds on the bar for 10 reps, your tonnage is 10,000 pounds (10 x 10 x 100).

There are a few ways to set up a workout with total tonnage being your main training parameter. One way is to simply pick a tonnage goal and work on hitting it in the shortest amount of time.

Take the bench press example from above and try hitting that 10,000 total pounds in less than 8 minutes. My personal favourite is trying to hit a tonnage goal in a certain number of reps or in the least amount of reps possible.

So using the bench press example, can you get to that 10,000-pound total in 50 reps rather than 100? Can you get there in 45 the next time?

And you don’t have to keep the same load on the bar for all reps. You can start closer to your max for lower-rep sets and then reduce the weight for higher reps as you fatigue.

Approaching your training in this way requires you to get creative with your strategy, which keeps things much more engaging. Plus, you can go home and tell your girlfriend you just bench pressed 22,000 pounds, so there’s that.

Timed Sets

Timed sets have become popular in recent years, mostly for the development of work capacity. These workouts usually involve two or more movements performed in succession for a certain number of reps for a prescribed number of rounds.

For example, 5 rounds of 8 push presses, 10 chin-ups, and 25 kettlebell swings done with as little rest as possible. Or 3 rounds of barbell thrusters, pull-ups, and burpees for 20 reps, 15 reps, and 10 reps, respectively, per round.

What’s great about workouts like this is that they encourage you to train hard and give you a benchmark time to beat. For example, if you can complete a workout 20 seconds faster than you did last time, that’s an easy way to measure improvement.

I also like to use timed sets of single exercises to train a specific strength quality. For example, I might do back squats for 50 seconds if I’m in a hypertrophy phase. We know that a specific time under tension encourages a specific strength adaptation, so if you program in this manner you’re far more likely to get the results you’re looking for.

The key is not to allow yourself too much downtime during the set by pausing at the top of the movement. But be warned, there’s a huge mental component to training this way.

You don’t have the “finish line” of knowing that once 10 reps is over, you can re-rack the bar. This can be unnerving for many. However, I see it as another benefit of this type of training. Not only does it build muscle and work capacity, it also builds mental toughness.

Missing a Day

Oh noes! I ate a bad meal! – One bad meal will not destroy your training program just as much as one good meal won’t make you healthy.

Oh noes! I didn’t get up and go to the gym today! I’ll start again next Monday. – Wrong answer. Go that evening, or go the next day. Don’t wait an entire week to get back on track. Keep the habit.

I’m really not spending any time on this one. They are excuses, plain and simple. Stop it. Get to the gym.

Training for Fanfest

So are you with me? Do you want to look like your avatar? Do you want to stand shoulder to shoulder with Hilmar, Petur, Svienn and the rest of the vikings and have them smile at you with pride and admiration?

I can tell you from personal experience it’s a great feeling walking around looking like Roc Wieler.

I’m already trying to organize the Annual Capsuleer Workout (needs a better name) with Mjolnir Gym, so be excited. April will arrive before you know it.

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4 responses to “Fanfest 2014

  1. I put a Chin-Up bar into my kitchen. Simple rule: no passing the bar without a fail-set. It might be the worst idea of mine this year, it might be the best. It’s certainly embarrassing at the moment.

    In the meanwhile, two pictures I took during this year’s Pikes Peak marathon at about 3500m/13500ft altitude: http://t.co/LWBnkUumuP and http://t.co/Fmsk4RRJMC (SFW, unless your bosses have an aversion to exertion). Our course marshals are such nice, motivationally-minded folks…

    “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” — Samuel Beckett (and also Thomas Edison, in spirit)

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