My High Intensity 100s Routine

I’ve received several requests from people on facebook about my current routine, which I’ve been calling 100s but I’m sure has a more appropriate name that someone actually in kinesiology can generate (my PhD is in English, thanks. I’ll leave this fancy “science” stuff to others).

The premise of this regime is that 1) I hate cardio, 2) I want to maximize the value of my time, and 3) HIIT is a really effective way to burn fat. It also came about because, as I wrote a couple weeks ago, my goals just weren’t being met by lifting the way I was lifting (weird huh? Lifting slow and heavy like a bodybuilder made me gain weight. There goes that science™ stuff again). What this program does is combines HIIT with weight lifting so that I get my strength training in, but overlap it with my cardio in a way that doesn’t feel like cardio and thus I don’t hate it. It’s not designed to bulk, but my strength is better… significantly better. This kind of workout is unusual enough that the muscles will definitely respond to the stimulus and you’ll make some gains in both strength and endurance.

So here it is. My 100s routine.

The basic outline is that for each muscle group, you do 1 main motion in the 100s patters: 10 sets of 10. You follow up this main motion with 2 secondary motions that follow a different pattern: 3 sets to failure. For the 100s, you want to pick a weight that is about 60% of your regular 10 rep weight to make sure you get through the whole routine. For the 3TF sets, go with the weight you’d normally used for 10 reps (Important caveat: you won’t, or shouldn’t, get 10 reps out of the weight even though you normally would expect to. Keep in mind, you just did 100 reps on bench… don’t be mad if you can’t jam out your regular on incline bench).

The routine lasts 6-8 weeks, but here’s the trick, and where the HIIT part comes in: you aren’t paying attention to weight for this routine like you would for a regular workout. You’re paying attention to rest periods. For the 100s, on week 1 you begin with 60 seconds of rest between sets. Every week you should shave off 10 seconds of rest – you’ll notice this will keep your heart rate elevated and you in the cardio/fat burning range. On the 7th week of this routine, you’ll be jamming through a set of 100 reps with no rest… That’s a lot of increased stamina! And you’ll get your cardio at the same time.

Some caveats apply that I’ll explain at the end.

Workout 1: Bench Press (10×10), Dumbbell Incline Press (3TF), Low Chest Cable Cross (3TF). Lat Pulldown (10×10), Cable Row (3TF), Barbell Pullover (3TF). Crunch (10×20)

Workout 2: Squat (10×10), Hack Squat (3TF), Leg Extension (3TF), Leg Curl (3TF). Tricep Press (10×10), Reverse Grip Tricep Press (3TF), Forearm Curls (10×20).

Workout 3: Barbell Shoulder Press (10×10), Upright Row (3TF), Bent Over Shoulder Fly (3TF). Standing Barbell Curls (10×10… I use the Bicep Blaster accessory for this), Seated Incline Curls (3TF), Hammer Curls (3TF). Calf Presses (10×20).

Workout 4: Bench Press (10×10), Incline Barbell Press (3TF), Incline Fly (3TF). Lat Pulldown (10×10), 1 Arm Row (3TF), 1 Arm Pulldown (TF). Decline Crunch (10×20).

Workout 5: Squats (10×10), Static Lunges (3TF), Leg Extension (3TF), Glute Machine Kickback (3TF). Tricep Press (10×10), Rope Press (3TF). Forearm Curl (10×20), Forearm Extension (10×20).

Workout 6: Shoulder Press (10×10), Bent Over Shoulder Fly (3TF), Reverse Pec Deck (3TF), Shrugs (10×10). Dumbbell Curls (10×10). Calf Press (10×20).

Caveats: You’ll notice that the pairings are fairly random. That’s fine. Go with it. You’ll also notice that you do muscle groups twice a week and that the pairings make for a very difficult second round sometimes. That’s fine. Remember: weight doesn’t matter as much as volume (reps) and rest periods. So if you’re weaker on Workout 4 because you killed shoulders on Workout 3, just go with it. Get your reps in and take your rests short. Pre-exhaustion of that muscle is actually really helpful! Finally, you will notice that core, calf, and forearm exercises are listed as 10×20… This is because those areas need much, much more volume than normal muscles in order to respond. Half the reason guys have tiny little calves is because they don’t realize that calves need a ton more work as a rule because they are a support muscle.

Enjoy! It’s really working for me so far… Which is nice because God knows it’s rough for me to cut, even at the best of times.

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Force of Habit

So much of the work I did – and still do – in taking control of my body involves what seems like a very basic thing… Changing habits. But I’m continually learning that this is one of those things where you do it once, then assume you’ve mastered it until you hit a wall and realize you need to do it again. And again. And again. So it has been with my own habits. Just when I think I’ve mastered “good habits”, I find that I’ve really just mastered the art of telling myself I have good habits.

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So… I Wake Up and I’m Massive

I was about to have a meta-discussion right here about my reasoning for writing a post like this, but I stopped caring half way through… meaning I’m sure readers don’t care either. Bottom line: it’s my party and I’ll write what I want to.

So I’m massive now. In a very literal sense massive. I’ve shot up to 255 lbs. I had no idea I’d gotten so large and really didn’t believe it except that I kept hearing from people, “Dude you’re huge. Looking swole.” I’d brush it off but people seemed to insist… I was visibly bigger. So I hopped on the scale to discover, lo and behold, I’m bigger. Much bigger. 12-15 lbs bigger in fact. Another instance, I guess, of not seeing progress in your own self.

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I’m Colossal… And it’s actually kind of alarming. You may recall I discussed some of my goals in previous posts (here and here), and while my coverage of my bodybuilding schedule has become embarrassingly lax – a problem I’m seeking to fix, I promise! – my goals are the same: roughly 260 lbs and I’d like to level out under 10% bodyfat. I haven’t checked my bodyfat recently. 2 weeks ago it was 9.5%, but I was also 242 lbs so there’s no rational universe in which all this weight is muscle (or is there…?). I’ll check my bodyfat in a week just disabuse myself of the idea that this is all good weight. For now, I’m kinda happy.

The thing is, though, I wasn’t trying to gain weight. I’ve been hoping to cut weight. I realize that I’m shockingly endomorphic and can eat barely anything and still put on muscle – my buddy Aaron balked and said he hated me when I mentioned my weight haha – but I try to bake that into the cake when managing my body.

I’ve obviously failed pretty spectacularly on that front if I’ve accidentally gained in the neighborhood of 25 pounds this spring. So it’s time to face fact and have a little Come to Jesus meeting with myself.

There are two main failures I think: one about orthodoxy (right belief) and one about orthopraxis (right action)… (behold my literary-historical nerd peeking out haha). My failure of orthopraxis is going about this process basically wrong from the get-go… and may be partially because I’m working with a training partner, weirdly enough. My buddy’s goal is to get hugely strong and enter a strongman type competition. Fine: excellent goal. What it requires, though, is slow, heavy lifting to build the body and increase power. And while that’s generally a great way to go, it isn’t exactly a cutting program. So I’ve been lifting with him and doing basically a routine I designed to get him huge… and, surprise surprise, I’m getting huge. (He is too, incidentally. He’s visibly bigger than when he started lifting with me)

What I need to do is find a way to go through a much higher volume routine and stop lifting in the 6-8 range that he needs. I really shouldn’t be surprised if I gain a ton of weight by lifting in a way that gains a ton of weight, but I guess I wasn’t paying too close attention! The fix is to change to higher volumes of exercise and not as much weight. My bridges and pyramids routine will be good for this, but I’ll modify the pyramid part to shave down the weight a bit.

My failure of Orthodoxy is more stinging… I need to just face the music and realize that I can’t be social in the same way I’ve been used to being social. I love going out with my friends, I love going out to restaurants and movies and bars and everything else. But pizza and popcorn and candy and especially booze are not going to get me where I want to go. Even in my already limited way, those things are holding me back. (This past week is a poor example probably… went to New York and clicked “vacation mode” in my brain, which meant “gorge yourself”…) So what to do?

I think I’ll basically just have to reevaluate how I’m social. I won’t be eating the same things as other people and I won’t be drinking at all. So much of being social involves these two things that it’s kind of a hard task I’ve set before me, but at the end of the day I have to decide it’s worth it. I’ll just be sober. And clean. And kinda boring.

1011091_10100841916384883_837518423_nBut as with most things, it just takes a change in attitude. The goal is worth it… and I need more discipline to get there.

Pyramids and Bridges: My Lean-Bulking Spring Workout

Part of this blog is a meandering discussion of body image and all that, but part of it is fitness based because a great many people ask me for fitness advice: either specific to their own bodies or just curious to know what I do myself. So I thought I’d describe my current routine for Spring.

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Do I Really Need Weights?

I was contacted recently by more than one person asking about weight loss. They were now as I had been years ago: very overweight and searching for solutions to their obesity. A question that keeps coming up for people – men usually contact me, but it’s also especially prevalent among women trying to lose weight – is whether or not they should even be lifting weights. For women, there is this fear that lifting weights will turn her into She Hulk in no time, and for both men and women there is a fear that somehow lifting weights will be a waste of time inasmuch as it distracts from the person’s primary goal of losing weight (presumably through a few hours of mind-killing cardio).

she hulk

Lets talk a little about why these fears are unfounded.

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My Super Secret Bulking Technique! (Shhh)

You know, I feel like I’ve said this before, but maybe I’ve talked around this issue specifically without actually hitting it. It ties into the things I’ve already said about bodytypes, about my own struggle with losing weight and discovering my strengths, and into my discussions about eating. I think of it recently because I’ve been out lightly advertising for my personal training business in Chicago and I’ve been asked several times about bulking. Guys see my recent pictures and say something to the effect of “Oh man, what did you do to get so big? Can you tell me what you do when you’re bulking??”

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My secret is this guys: the body you see here is me having never bulked on purpose. I’m always, always, always doing something to cut weight. Here’s how this works.

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Always Learning… The “Cheat” Day

So as much as I repeat truisms that I’ve learned about the fitness industry, I find that I never quite get them into my head completely. Which is why they bear repeating and why this whole thing is an ongoing process. Case in point today: the idea of a “cheat” day as a harmless – and sometimes helpful! – mechanism in a diet regime.

The Rock... who consumes mountains of food on his cheat days.

The Rock… who consumes mountains of food on his cheat days.

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