Below is the beginning of an informal book related FAQ. These questions have arisen after the creation of each book, so were not included within each program’s FAQ. This is also where I will continue to add updated material. My hope is for this thread to continually grow with useful training material (ex. programming, routines, exercises, etc.). Therefore, regardless of what book you own, you can likely find relevant (updated) material here.
For those who have additional questions, send me a private message through the forum, or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will update this section as needed.
To subscribe to this thread to be notified of updates, please click the link below:
Subscribe To FAQ Thread
- Do you have any additional sandbag training resources available within the site?
- I purchased all three books. What is the ideal starting point?
- Ross, do you have any additional reading suggestions?
Exercise and Equipment Related
- Why did you exclude barbells from the Infinite Intensity manual?
- Can I use kettlebells for the Infinite Intensity workouts?
- I am struggling to perform heavy dumbbell swings as I can only hold so much weight in a single hand. Do you have any suggestions?
- I have used the bodyweight exercises from Never Gymless with great success, but would like to add some weighted resistance. I cannot afford a weight set so am looking for ideas.
- How can I build the homemade glute-ham bench seen within the books?
- Ross, do you still make use of isometric training, and if so, do you have any more ideas for homemade isometric options?
- Ross, do you believe isometrics are useful for mass as well as strength?
- I currently have a 50 pound weighted vest but would like to add more weight for weighted pull-ups and dips. Do you have any suggestions?
- Considering that the dip belt can hold so much more weight, is there any reason to purchase a weighted vest as well?
- I am struggling with the balance portion of the one leg squat. I am still a long way off from performing the exercise unassisted. I need a more immediate option for leg strength without the balance requirement. Any suggestions?
- Ross, I struggle with the one leg squat and do not have access to a barbell. Do you have any suggestions (preferably unilateral) in addition to lunges and step-ups?
- Ross, I don’t have anywhere to do dips, and struggle with the bodyweight triceps extension. Do you have any other suggestions to target the triceps?
- Ross, is there a reason to build (or buy) both 18 and 24 inch dumbbell handles? For example, would a 24 inch handle negate the need for an 18 inch handle?
- Ross, I already own Olympic weight plates. I would like to purchase Olympic dumbbell handles. Do you have any suggestions?
- Ross, what is a viable substitute for swinging a sledgehammer?
- Ross, I do not have a sandbag. What exercises can I use as substitutes for sandbag lifts?
- Ross, what are your thoughts on lifting straps?
- (New) - Ross, what are your thoughts regarding the newly popular bodyweight suspension systems?
- (New) - Ross, I can do wheel rollouts from my knees with ease, but still struggle when attempting a standing rollout. Do you have any suggestions?
- (New) - Ross, I travel regularly so I do not have anywhere to perform glute-ham raises. Do you have any suggestions for a bodyweight based hamstring exercise that I can use when traveling?
- I am currently following the modified plan from Infinite Intensity (page 243 and 244). How can I include heavy barbell lifts within this plan?
- How can I integrate free weights within the Never Gymless plan?
- Both Never Gymless and Infinite Intensity include 50 day plans. Do you suggest reading the books first, or can I start one of the sample plans immediately?
- What do I do after the 50 day plan within the book?
- How can I combine the sample plans from Infinite Intensity and Never Gymless?
- I have a busy schedule with my combat based training. How can I integrate your material within my martial arts training?
- I would like to gain mass with your programs. Are there any modifications that you would suggest while looking to add mass?
- Ross, I am slightly confused over the conjugate and concurrent methods of periodization. Can you expand upon the definition of the conjugate sequence system?
-- General Questions --
Do you have any additional sandbag training resources?
You can find a free sandbag training guide within the forum compendium. Click the image below and you'll find the sandbag listing within:
For those interested in constructing a homemade sandbag, please refer to the PDF below for complete instructions.
Sandbag Construction Kit
As for using the sandbag, you can mimic countless conventional lifts. You can also perform unique lifts such as sandbag shouldering, lifting and loading to a raised platform, various throws, carries for time, etc.
Here is one recent sandbag article and video:
Sandbags can be integrated within strength and/or conditioning workouts. Go heavier for a strength emphasis or focus on higher volume for conditioning. Once again, don’t focus solely on the modality. Target specific goals and integrate those tools that will facilitate your needs.
For more homemade equipment ideas, please click the image below:
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I purchased all three books. What is the ideal starting point?
There is not a defined order, as each program stands alone. One does not progress to another, nor does one require another. As for a general breakdown however, I will share some thoughts below.
First, each program has sample workouts, but the samples are more intended to serve as visual demonstrations for the principles discussed throughout each text. Each program is text rich, meaning that much of the content is contained within actual text, as opposed to just a collection of sample workouts.
As for primary differences, Infinite Intensity and Never Gymless focus on all around development (strength, conditioning, core strength, etc.). It is important to note however that with either program, the focus should be goal based, not modality based. Focus on specific goals (ex. the development of a specific strength quality), and then choose the tools that will allow you to achieve this goal. Everything works well together, as long as you remain goal based (focus on the end, not the means).
Full Throttle Conditioning is geared more towards conditioning. The companion manual however also has information regarding program creation, specific to the needs of a fighter (who must include strength work, conditioning, skill work, etc.). If you are training as a fighter, this is likely the best place to look for sample templates. The program creation section is brief, but perhaps the most concise per the needs of a fighter. After reading through this material, you can then fill in the blanks with the info from Never Gymless and Infinite Intensity.
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Ross, do you have any additional reading suggestions?
You can find a recommended reading list at the bottom of this blog entry:
http://rosstraining.com/blog/2008/06/27 ... -and-more/
I plan to update this entry regularly.
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-- Exercise and Equipment Related --
Why did you exclude barbells from the Infinite Intensity manual?
When I began writing Infinite Intensity, one of my primary goals was to create a program that could be performed without access to a state-of-the-art gym. The goal was not to dismiss the use of barbells, but rather to demonstrate that more simplistic methods can be equally effective. There is nothing wrong with barbell training however. Barbells happen to be a tremendous strength developer. I will likely discuss barbell training in future writings.
Yet, whether or not you wish to use barbells, I still advocate unilateral training. There are clear benefits (ex. coordination, stabilization requirements, the ability to target specific imbalances, etc.). A complete strength plan should include a unilateral element.
Furthermore, much of my material is focused on specific principles. Examples of such principles include understanding the importance of program creation, understanding the importance of work capacity, understanding the need for all around development (ie. strength, conditioning, core training, etc..), and so on. Clearly, one can mix and match various modalities to target these needs.
The principles discussed throughout the text are not tool specific. On the contrary, each modality is nothing but a means to an end. That end point (development of a complete athlete) is what ultimately matters. The principles from the text can be applied to various tools, therefore integrated into a complete plan.
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Can I use kettlebells for the Infinite Intensity workouts?
I have had many readers perform the Infinite Intensity workouts with kettlebells instead of dumbbells. Personally, I prefer dumbbells, but personal preference must be considered for each unique individual. If you enjoy using a specific tool, you should continue to use it.
The link below includes more of my thoughts regarding kettlebells and dumbbells:
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I am struggling to perform heavy dumbbell swings as I can only hold so much weight in a single hand. Do you have any suggestions?
A homemade T-handle offers the perfect solution. You can load well over 100 pounds on this easy to build tool. Refer to this blog entry for more information (including instructions).
http://rosstraining.com/blog/2008/12/31 ... nstration/
You can also see a video demonstration by clicking the image below:
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Ross, I have used the bodyweight exercises from Never Gymless with great success, but would like to add some weighted resistance. I cannot afford a weight set so am looking for ideas.
Odd object training is ideal in this situation. A few examples include sandbags (mentioned in the question above), a waterball, a water filled keg, and a large tire to flip. These odd objects are both inexpensive and easy to find locally.
Follow the links below for more information regarding each of these tools.
Tire Flipping Info:
As for adding odd objects to your current routine, follow the advice from the previous question (regarding sandbags).
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How can I build the homemade glute-ham bench seen within the books?
Please refer to the discussion within this forum thread:
As stated within the link above, I built the bench without a formal plan. My model is rudimentary at best. With minimal planning and carpentry skills, you should be able to create a much more versatile bench.
Here is one such example (excellent model and easy to build):
Homemade Hamstring Device
For more information regarding homemade equipment, please refer to the link below (where other glute-ham options are also included):
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Ross, do you still make use of isometric training, and if so, do you have any more ideas for homemade isometric options?
Yes, I continue to include isometric training within my routine. Below are instructions to an isometric tool that I built after writing Infinite Intensity and Never Gymless. This device is sturdy and useful for several exercises.
Homemade Isometric Device
I strongly believe that isometric training offers tremendous potential for strength development. I've trained with isometrics for several years and the strength gains have been consistent and considerable.
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Ross, do you believe isometrics are useful for mass as well as strength?
Based on years of experience, I find isometric training to be extremely effective for strength development (ex. neural adaptations), but not particularly useful for mass. Some research has shown a positive relationship between isometrics and mass however. The extent of this relationship varies between different muscle groups and studies. The two links below offer two such examples:
Relative changes in maximal force, EMG, and muscle cross-sectional area after isometric training.
Changes in strength and cross sectional area of the elbow flexors as a result of isometric strength training.
If hypertrophy is your primary goal, I would not suggest focusing solely (or extensively) on isometric training. If strength is a goal however, I strongly encourage the use of isometrics. Ample research has shown an extremely positive relationship between isometrics and strength. Below is one of many examples:
Isometric or dynamic training: differential effects on mechanical properties of a human muscle.
Furthermore, it is worth noting that much of the peer reviewed research regarding isometrics involve short duration studies (ex. 6 to 12 weeks). There is only so much that can be taken away from such a short study. I have used isometrics regularly for several years now, utilizing low tech methods that allow me to target multiple joint angles throughout the body. I continue to experience strength gains (that carry over to dynamic movements) from this simple style of training, without expending considerable amounts of time.
In summary, an optimal program will make use of both dynamic and isometric methods. The two can work extremely well together.
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I currently have a 50 pound weighted vest but would like to add more weight for weighted pull-ups and dips. Do you have any suggestions?
A quality dip belt is the best option for adding weight to pull-ups and dips. The heaviest vest that you'll find is 100 pounds. I have the 100 pound vest from weightvest.com, and it is a fine piece of equipment, but it will cost you several hundred dollars. A quality dip belt will cost a fraction of the price and you'll never outgrow its capacity. Homemade Dip Belts are also easy to build.
Below I can be seen with 180 pounds added to a dip belt. You'll never be able to add this amount of weight with a vest. I find the dip belt much more convenient when looking to add significant loads to pull-ups and dips.
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Considering that the dip belt can hold so much more weight, is there any reason to purchase a weighted vest as well?
Despite the effectiveness of dip belts for pull-ups and dips, weighted vests are still useful for several movements. A dip belt cannot be added to many exercises that are commonly performed with a vest. The body row is a prime example. As you can see below, there is no way to add weight to this exercise with a dip belt. I do however make use of a 75 pound weighted vest.
A weighted vest can also be added to movements such as wheel rollouts, several pushup variations, glute-ham raises, and more. Conditioning circuits can also be performed with a lighter vest.
A weighted vest can also be used to enhance certain free weight exercises. The lunge is a prime example:
Suppose your largest dumbbells are 100 pounds. You may get to the point where you need to add weight to the lunge, but you do not have large enough dumbbells. Adding a heavy vest is one useful option. The vest is also useful if you are limited by grip strength. Suppose your grip gives out when holding heavy dumbbells. You can still add a significant amount of weight with the vest. Lunges with 100+ pound dumbbells and a 100 pound vest will challenge most athletes.
Clearly, a quality weighted vest makes a useful, versatile addition to the gym. I continue to use weighted vests regularly for several exercises.
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I am struggling with the balance portion of the one leg squat. I am still a long way off from performing the exercise unassisted. I need a more immediate option for leg strength without the balance requirement. Any suggestions?
Don’t let the exercise frustrate you. There are several options for lower body development with or without the one leg squat. Traditional barbell squats are one option. Heavy lunges are another fine choice (see the question above). If however you wish to use a one leg squat, consider using a box (or block) at the bottom of the exercise. By using the box, you’ll eliminate the need to balance at the bottom. The strength related benefits will remain.
Another option is to add weight to the exercise. Holding a weight out in front may assist with balance. This is particularly true when wearing a weighted vest. A weighted vest on its own will often complicate the balance process. Holding a weight will offset any balance issues that are created by the vest.
In the image below, I am wearing a weighted vest and holding a weight out in front of the body. I also use a block. This combination allows me to focus solely on strength, without concern over balance. The vest is also useful in that it allows me to go heavier without the need to hold a significant amount of weight with the hands. The vest below is 75 pounds, while the plate is only 45 pounds. Therefore, my upper body only holds 45 pounds, despite squatting over 100 pounds.
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Ross, I struggle with the one leg squat and do not have access to a barbell. Do you have any suggestions (preferably unilateral) in addition to lunges and step-ups?
One option worth consideration would be the Bulgarian split squat (pictured below).
Range of motion can also be extended by elevating the front foot. Refer to the link below for a video demonstration of this variation:
You may also enjoy the discussion presented within the article below:
The Case For Single Limb Training
Lastly, there are also less conventional ways to train the lower body. Examples include pushing a car in neutral, sled work, hill sprints, etc. This isn't to say that squat variations are not effective, but rather a reminder that other options do exist for those interested. A well rounded approach is often the best long term approach.
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Ross, I don’t have anywhere to do dips, and struggle with the bodyweight triceps extension. Do you have any other suggestions to target the triceps?
Heavy dips are a favorite of mine, but if you don’t have rings or a stand to perform the exercise, there are still plenty of options. A close grip pushup is one equipment free option. You can also apply the close grip hand position to other pushup variations (ex. close grip divebomber pushups). Handstand pushups will also hit the triceps.
With a barbell, you could use a close grip on the bench press.
With dumbbells, one of my favorites is the single arm lying dumbbell extension. This exercise is often performed with two dumbbells, but I prefer the single arm variation. It will allow you to go heavier, as the non-working arm will serve as a self-spot.
Notice below how the non-working arm is in position to spot me if the weight becomes too much for me to handle.
This exercise will allow you to safely go heavy.
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Ross, is there a reason to build (or buy) both 18 and 24 inch dumbbell handles? For example, would a 24 inch handle negate the need for an 18 inch handle?
Ideal handle length (whether purchased or homemade) will depend on individual needs. With an 18 inch handle, you’ll typically be able to load up to six 10 pound plates per side, or four 25 pound plates. Most users will never outgrow the 18 inch handle. For those that do, it will be very rare to outgrow the handle for all exercises.
Below, you can see how I’ve loaded 200 pounds on an 18 inch handle.
Yes, I need to use a 24 inch handle to surpass this amount, but the 18 inch handle is still used for most exercises. I prefer the shorter handle whenever possible, as it is not as awkward to control. This is particularly true for highly dynamic movements such as the snatch.
The longer handles are still valuable however for heavy exercises such as the farmer’s walk. The added length does not complicate the exercise. The same is true for heavy dumbbell rows. Therefore, I would start with an 18 inch handle. Whether or not you need the 24 inch, you will still have plenty to do with the shorter 18.
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Ross, I already own Olympic weight plates. I would like to purchase Olympic dumbbell handles. Do you have any suggestions?
Olympic dumbbell handles are readily available. There are a few specifics that you must consider however. Below are three Olympic dumbbell handles which appear similar but are actually quite different.
1. The first handle was purchased at Walmart (Gold’s Gym brand). It is only rated for 50 pounds or less. Many who purchase these handles do not realize the low weight capacity. The 50 pound weight limit is listed in small print on the outside of the box. When you surpass the weight limit, there is a good chance that the handles will bend. A close up of the handle shows a clear example.
One of the reasons for the bending is the hollow end. When purchasing an Olympic style handle, you should choose one that is solid. The picture below illustrates the difference. The left side is hollow, while the right side is solid.
2. The second handle was purchased at Dick’s Sporting Goods (Fitness Gear brand). The handle is solid which makes it superior to the Walmart model. The gripping area is too large however. There is approximately 5.5 inches of available space on each side to hold weight.
3. The third handle has much more space available to load weight (approximately 7 inches). This handle was purchased online. The brand name is Troy. There are several quality brands available. My only reason for purchasing this particular brand was the low sale price that I found on Amazon (at the time).
In terms of available loading space, the difference becomes significant as you progress to heavier weights (ex. dumbbell rows). The 2nd dumbbell can only hold three 25 pound plates per side. It can just barely hold five 10 ten pound plates. The 3rd dumbbell can comfortably hold four 25 pound plates or six 10 pound plates.
Below you can see how four 25 pound plates fit comfortably:
Next, you can see how the Fitness Gear handle can only hold three:
In summary, find out the precise dimensions of your handles before purchasing. If you are purchasing from a local store, bring a tape measure along to avoid uncertainty.
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Ross, what is a viable substitute for swinging a sledgehammer?
The sledgehammer is a unique piece of equipment, so you’ll never find a perfect substitute. There are several similar movements available however. Perhaps the closest match is the tornado ball. You can find instructions on building a homemade version at the link below:
http://rosstraining.com/blog/2009/05/08 ... do-ball-2/
You can also see a video demonstration:
Medicine ball slams could also be performed. For slams, I recommend a non-bounding ball. This will allow you to put forth a maximal effort without concern over the ball bouncing back at your face.
An impact-free option can also be performed with resistance bands. In the image below, you can see how I have attached a Jump Stretch Strong band to an overhead pull-up bar. I can slam downward with the band in a similar motion to that of a medicine ball slam. A rotational element could also be included with bands.
Once again, no exercise is a perfect substitute for the sledge. Each movement is unique. Therefore, if you are unable to perform any of these movements, choose a different conditioning exercise entirely. Never focus too much attention towards a single modality (ex. the sledge). Instead, focus on specific objectives (ex. strength, conditioning, etc.) and then choose the most appropriate tools that are available to you.
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Ross, I do not have a sandbag. What exercises can I use as substitutes for sandbag lifts?
The primary benefits of odd object training are based on the uniqueness of the tool itself. Therefore, it is impossible to find a perfect free weight substitute for sandbags. This statement applies regardless of the inner fill that is used (ex. sand, wood pellets, pea gravel, mini marble chips, etc.).
When lifting a sandbag, the inner contents shift within. The constant moving of the inner fill will increase stabilization demands considerably. This unique aspect cannot be replicated with dumbbells or barbells. You’ll also face an enhanced grip challenge as you grab into the sides of the bag throughout each lift.
As bag weight increases, you’ll also be dealing with a larger object. The increased surface area adds to the challenge of the lift (ex. stabilization, coordination, balance, etc.). Such size increases are clearly unique when compared to traditional weights. For example, barbells do not grow longer as the weight increases. Whether you deadlift 135 pounds or 585 pounds, you’ll still be standing in the middle of a 7 foot barbell. With a sandbag however, the overall size increases considerably with each 50 pound bag of inner fill. A 200 pound sandbag is much larger than a 100 pound sandbag. Therefore, lifting more weight is only part of the challenge. Controlling the larger, awkward object throughout the lift is perhaps the greatest benefit (and challenge) of all.
In summary, if you find yourself unable to perform certain odd object lifts, do not look for an exact match in the weight room. Realize that the odd object is unique, and understand that you’ll never find a perfect replacement. Instead, fall back on the following advice…
Target specific objectives with those tools that are available to you.
Hence, if sandbags are not available, choose a barbell or dumbbell instead. Chances are that you’ll be performing a much different exercise, but you can at least target the same objective (ex. strength). You may also be able to target a similar movement pattern. For example, shouldering a sandbag involves a similar motion to that of a heavy swing (see the T-handle swing referenced earlier). If you can replicate movement patterns for a specific exercise, you’ll at least have a somewhat similar substitute.
Lastly, please note that I am not suggesting odd objects are superior to free weights, but simply reminding you of the differences.
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Ross, what are your thoughts on lifting straps?
I’ve never used straps regularly, but I don’t have a problem with straps when used to hold extremely heavy loads that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. I do however caution you against overuse. Therefore, I do not suggest using straps for every set. For example, start without straps and only use them for the extremely heavy sets (when necessary).
In addition, don’t use straps for exercises that are largely grip based. For example, adding straps to a thick handled dumbbell lift wouldn’t make sense. Thick handles are used to develop the grip. Adding straps would eliminate the grip related benefits.
Furthermore, continue to train the grip both directly (ex. hand grippers) and indirectly (ex. lifting thick handle d-bells, rope climbing, etc.). You will therefore reap the best of both worlds. You’ll be able to move heavier loads with straps while continuing to develop strong hands without straps. The time may then come when you do not need straps for even your heaviest loads.
Make no mistake about it, strong hands and wrists are imperative to overall strength development. Below is a quote from Earle Liederman’s Secrets of Strength book that explains the significance:
Strong wrists are indispensable to strength. In most ordinary feats of strength the object to be moved or lifted, swung or broken, is gripped by the hands; and those hands must be strongly coupled to the arms, so that there will be no break in the delivery of power. A famous veteran, advising a new-comer in the professional ranks said, “Young man, you will never be any stronger than your hands and wrists.”
The entire book can be viewed online at the following link:
Secrets of Strength
Perhaps the greatest display of hand strength ever came from Hermann Goerner. He is said to have deadlifted over 700 pounds with one hand. Clearly, the possibilities for hand strength are endless. Goerner did very well without straps. This isn’t to say that straps cannot be useful, but just a reminder that the hands often have significant room for improvement.
More info on Hermann Goerner can be found within the blog:
http://rosstraining.com/blog/2009/10/13 ... n-goerner/
In addition, a related article on the use of straps can be seen at the link below:
http://www.deepsquatter.com/strength/ar ... dani13.htm
Lastly, more information on grip training can be found within this classic text:
How To Develop A Powerful Grip
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Ross, what are your thoughts regarding the newly popular bodyweight suspension systems?
I don’t consider them a necessity, but suspension trainers can certainly be beneficial and fun to use. There are unique challenges associated with several of the available exercises. These suspension systems are also easy to pack with luggage when traveling.
As for equipment suggestions, many of the commercial models are rather expensive, but homemade alternatives are fairly easy to construct. The link below includes a do-it-yourself tutorial. Several sample exercises are also included.
Homemade Suspension Trainer
A video demonstration of the tool is included next:
Additional homemade designs can be found here:
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Ross, I can do wheel rollouts from my knees with ease, but still struggle when attempting a standing rollout. Do you have any suggestions?
First, it is important to realize that the standing rollout is infinitely more difficult than the kneeling version. It is common to perform high reps from the knees while lacking the ability to execute a standing rollout (where only the feet and wheel touch the ground).
If you wish to perform standing rollouts, more specific progressions are useful. A few examples can be seen within the video clips below.
First, you will see a band assisted rollout with a barbell. This variation is one of the best progressions available. The band is seen at 1:06 within the video.
Related entry - http://rosstraining.com/blog/2010/02/20 ... -rollouts/
Next, you will find a tutorial that explains how an inexpensive ramp can be used to progress towards a full standing rollout.
A third option involves the suspension trainer seen in the question directly above. Refer to the variation seen at the 6:18 mark within the suspension trainer video. To reduce difficulty, simply raise the height of the handles.
Lastly, if upper body strength is a concern, rollouts from the knees can be performed with a weighted vest. This variation will help develop the upper body strength that is required to perform a standing rollout. Do not limit yourself to progressions from the knees however. You will progress much faster by including one or more of the variations listed above.
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Ross, I travel regularly so I do not have anywhere to perform glute-ham raises. Do you have any suggestions for a bodyweight based hamstring exercise?
Inexpensive furniture sliders are one option to consider. Refer to the video tutorial below for an example. A two leg variation is demonstrated at the 5:07 mark. A more difficult single leg version is demonstrated at the 5:19 mark. You will also find several additional exercises throughout the tutorial that can be useful for the upper body and core.
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-- Programming Related --
I am currently following the modified plan from Infinite Intensity (page 243 and 244). How can I include heavy barbell lifts within this plan?
It is easy to include any form of resistance training within the sample plan/template. The simple answer is to focus on objectives, rather than tools. For example, a maximal strength workout can include heavy dumbbells, heavy barbells, heavy odd objects, difficult bodyweight movements, etc.
Personally, I often mix and match modalities within a single workout. Don’t let the tool define your workout. Instead, focus on objectives, and pick and choose those tools that will allow you accomplish these goals. For example, heavy barbell work can be used in place of a dumbbell bench press. Simply sub in the barbell in place of the dumbbells.
In summary, don’t limit yourself to any sample plan. Customize the material per your interests, needs, preferences, etc.
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How can I integrate free weights within the Never Gymless plan?
The answer to this question is identical to the question listed directly above.
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Both Never Gymless and Infinite Intensity include 50 day plans. Do you suggest reading the books first, or can I start one of the sample plans immediately?
Before sharing my own thoughts, below is one response from a forum member to a similar question that recently appeared on the board:
“This is the akin to trying to build an engine without fully reading the instructions and instead just using the diagrams and pictures. You might get something to happen but it will never run quite right - if at all.”
I strongly agree with this advice. The sample plans within each program are just that (samples). These samples serve primarily as visual demonstrations for the principles discussed throughout the text. These samples will help you envision and create your own plan (specific to your needs).
When you see a sample routine, try to look past the sample (at least momentarily) and instead focus on the philosophy and principles that were used to develop the routine. You can certainly experiment with the programs, but the goal should always be to customize the material to coincide with your specific interests and needs.
Yes, I personally test all routines and workouts, but the fact that I’ve performed a sample routine does not mean that it is designed specifically for your unique needs. As I have stated before, each athlete deserves to be evaluated as a unique individual. There is no single movement or group of movements that will work for all. Instead, the training menu must be created specifically for the individual. To suggest that there is only one right way signifies both ignorance and arrogance.
With this in mind, I strongly encourage you to thoroughly read through the text. Creating your own customized plan will not be possible without understanding the principles used to create the plan. Learning fundamental concepts such as program design will empower you to create your own plan. Following a sample plan without understanding the principles behind it will greatly diminish the value of each manual.
The importance of reading through the material is similar to the advice derived through this old dictum:
“Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.”
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What do I do after the 50 day plan within the book?
Do not view either 50 day plan as something that you start and eventually finish. As mentioned above, the 50 day plans are visual samples. Even if you were to perform the exact plan, it is still just a slice in time. On day 51, you can continue to train with the underlying principles discussed throughout either text. These principles do not expire after 50 days. You can utilize these concepts indefinitely. I also encourage you to continually customize the material (any material) per your unique needs.
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How can I combine the sample plans from Infinite Intensity and Never Gymless?
Rather than combining two sample plans, I suggest focusing on the objectives targeted within each plan. For example, suppose your weekly plan calls for a conditioning workout on Day 1. Don’t focus on using a specific workout. Instead, you should focus on the objective (conditioning). You can then target this objective with conditioning workouts from either program.
Another option would be to borrow ideas from each manual to create your own unique conditioning workouts. Click the image below for several examples (workouts created by fellow forum members):
The same concept also applies to strength work. Suppose Day 2 calls for a strength workout. You do not need to choose a specific workout from either book. You can mix and match ideas from each program. A strength workout could blend free weights with bodyweight exercise, odd objects, and more.
In summary, first identify the objective being trained, and then pick and choose those methods that will allow you to improve it.
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I have a busy schedule with my combat based training. How can I integrate your material within my martial arts training?
The Full Throttle Conditioning manual (which accompanies the DVD) is ideal for designing a strength and conditioning plan that will jive with your busy combat training needs. If you have this program, I would start by reading the text closely.
For those who do not have the Full Throttle Conditioning program, here are some general thoughts regarding this subject. First, it is imperative that the supplemental work that you perform will make you a better athlete. As a competitive combat athlete, you are not training for a fitness event. The work that you perform at the gym must transfer to your primary event. If it does not assist (ex. wears you out), it isn’t helping. Always keep this in mind. Less can be more when it comes to supplemental work (strength and conditioning).
As for the sample 50 day plans, I would not pay too much attention to these samples. As mentioned before, the sample plan is just that (a sample). Most athletes will need to customize the material per their unique needs, schedule, goals, abilities, etc.
With that said, you can often incorporate principles from the text within your main plan, as opposed to copying the sample exactly as it is written. For example, you can include a dedicated core workout within your main session (ex. finish your combat training with a core workout). Another day could include a brief finisher (see the valuable additions chapter from Infinite Intensity). Another day could include a conditioning workout after the skill session. Ultimately, you'll add bits and pieces to the main workout, as opposed to knocking everything down and starting from scratch.
As for which aspects to include (ex. strength vs. core work vs. conditioning and so on), the specifics will depend on your needs. Suppose you are already very strong for your weight class. You may not need as much dedicated strength work. Perhaps it would make more sense to instead focus more time and energy to conditioning. This is something that you'll need to evaluate based on your current strengths and weaknesses.
As for supplemental work at other times during the day (ex. morning strength work, evening skill session), this depends on work capacity. As said before, the supplemental work must lead to performance improvements. If it wears you out, it isn't helping. One way to include a 2-a-day schedule is by keeping the volume low within one of the sessions (ex. low volume strength work in the morning on a lighter skill day). Clearly, this is just one of countless options however. It is always imperative to customize the material to the individual. This concept of individual customization is discussed in more detail within the article below:
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I would like to gain mass with your programs. Are there any modifications that you would suggest while looking to add mass?
Prior to the completion of Infinite Intensity and Never Gymless, I released the following article (and experiment):
Within this article, I discuss a mass gaining experiment that I performed for approximately 4 months. Refer to the bullet points within the article for several easy to follow suggestions.
As for the specifics of my workouts during this time, I increased my strength training frequency to approximately 3 days per week. A similar template can be seen on page 219 of Never Gymless and pages 211 or 243-244 within Infinite Intensity. Strength workouts were focused more towards maximal strength, with some explosive strength mixed in for maintenance purposes. I also continued with mini-workouts as discussed throughout each text (ex. isometrics, core workouts, etc.).
As for rep ranges, when targeting maximal strength, I continued with lower rep sets, but increased volume by performing more total sets. For example, I often performed 6 to 8 sets on certain compound lifts. By keeping rep ranges low, I was able to focus on strength during each individual set, as opposed to training solely for mass, with strength as a secondary benefit (which would contradict with the goals of the experiment). Strength workouts consisted of free weights, odd object lifts, and bodyweight exercise supplemented with added weight (ex. heavy weighted vest or dip belt).
Conditioning workouts were brief but intense.
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Ross, I am slightly confused over the conjugate and concurrent methods of periodization. Can you expand upon the definition of the conjugate sequence system?
As mentioned within the Infinite Intensity text, many falsely believe that the concurrent system and the conjugate sequence system are one and the same. This is entirely untrue however.
Below are definitions per Mel Siff’s Supertraining text:
The concurrent system “involves the parallel training of several motor abilities such as strength, speed, and endurance, over the same period, with the intention of producing multi-faceted development of physical fitness.”
The conjugate sequence system “involves successfully introducing into the training program separate, specific means, each of which has a progressively stronger training effect, and coupling them sequentially to create favorable conditions for eliciting the cumulative effect of all the training loads"
Contrary to what many believe, the conjugate sequence system does not target “everything at once” during a single training phase. With the conjugate sequence system, there are intense phases of unidirectional loading.
A closer look at the precise definition should clarify any confusion. Below I will highlight certain portions of the definition.
With the conjugate sequence system, one introduces multiple exercises/methods. As stated above, the conjugate sequence system involves the introduction of separate, specific means. Each means is introduced with a specific purpose in mind. The cumulative effect is then realized. This is where you see the phrase: each of which has a progressively stronger training effect.
Together, these methods then lead to a greater end result (coupling them sequentially to create favorable conditions). Individually, each method would only offer so much. It is the sequential coupling of these methods which leads to the desired result (eliciting the cumulative effect of all the training loads).
In summary, when compared to the concurrent system, the conjugate sequence system is working towards more specific goals (which does not include the development of everything at once). Unidirectional loading is a critical aspect to the conjugate sequence system, and it is the cumulative effect of the selected methods which leads to the ultimate goal (the desired outcome).
For those interested in this general topic, you may enjoy reading through the following PDF's:
The Development of the Russian Conjugate Sequence System:
The End of Periodization
http://www.salisbury.edu/campusrec/Stre ... HANSKY.pdf
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