elitefts™ Sunday Edition

I've been working with John Meadows since March of 2012. Previously to John, I felt myself stagnating in the gym, and I knew that I needed to depart from High Intensity Training. Therefore, I dabbled with everything and anything I could find—Dogcrapp, German Volume Training, FST-7...the list goes on. Each change brought some growth (as the change in stimulus forced adaptation), but nothing returned long-term results like Mountain Dog Training. Everything I loved about the intensity and challenge of HIT was realized in a more intelligent, safer fashion with John.

By the fall of 2012, John suggested that I bump my workouts up from four to seven sessions a week. I thought he was crazy, but I attempted it for a few weeks and simply couldn't recover. I didn't train that often in my 20s, and now in my late 30s, I simply didn't understand how John trained with such intensity and frequency. However, that’s when I was introduced to Plazma, Mag-10, and Indigo-3G by Biotest. Plazma, in particular, was a game changer for me. When John took my workouts to seven times per week, I was using Karbolyn and Pepto-Pro thinking they were essentially the same as Plazma. In reality, however, Plazma proved much different. Within two weeks of switching to it, soreness lasted hours—not days. I also almost felt guilty...thinking my training intensity had dipped.

John significantly altered my approach to training volume and cardio, while Biotest radically altered my thinking in regards to the efficacy of properly placed nutrients during the intra-workout window. Honestly, I feel like I have learned and changed more in the past couple of years than I have in the previous twelve years combined! It’s this “out-of-the-box” thinking that compelled me to ask the question, "If I took my training frequency from four to seven sessions per week and survived, then could I really push Plazma, Mag-10, Indigo-3G, and now Micro-PA to the limits? And go from seven to ten sessions per week?" I sought wisdom from John and Tim Patterson, the CEO of Biotest, concerning an intelligent approach to upping training frequency without destroying myself. Well, Tim brought Christian Thibaudeau into the discussion, and the end result…13 workouts per week.

Tim and Christian didn't want to mess with the beauty of the Executioner Program I’m presently doing with John. His seven workouts per week in 12-week bouts served me very well in 2013. Therefore, rather than dismantle a good thing, Tim and Christian sought to layer secondary evening workouts designed to potentiate muscle size, hardness, and speed recovery. This entailed moving the guts of the Executioner Program to the morning, and thereby opening up the evening for Metabolic Pump and Explosive Complexes.

The following details exactly what I've been doing from a training standpoint during the evening complexes over the past two weeks. To learn more about the Executioner Program, visit my training log on elitefts™.

On Saturday morning, I completed heavy legs in the Executioner Program. Here's what I did Saturday night:

Metabolic Pump Legs

Exercise 1: Maximum Tension Lunges

I perform very slow, deep, and long walking lunges using only my body weight. The goal is to create maximum tension on the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. I take long strides and alternate legs, descending with a five-second count and holding the stretched position for a two-second count without releasing muscle tension.

Reps: 12 each leg.

Rest: 15 seconds

Exercise 2: Prowler® Backward Push

I push the Prowler® with my back, leaning against the cushioned pad and crouching down as low as possible to ensure all the work targets my quads. The pushing style is walking speed while focusing on the contraction of the quads.

Distance: 20 to 30 yards

Rest: Only the time needed to wrap quads and move to the next exercise

Exercise 3: Occlusion Body weight Squats

I wrap my upper thigh/groin area with knee wraps. Now, ensure the tightness of the wraps is less than a typical knee wrap for squatting. I perform slow body weight-only squats, going down (eccentric) in three seconds and up (concentric) in three seconds. Keep tension constant—do not lockout and do not pause at the bottom or top.

Reps: As many as you can. I typically get 20 to 25 reps.

Rest: 2 to 3 minutes

Perform the complex a total of four times.

On Sunday morning I trained heavy chest and shoulders from the Executioner Program. Here's what I did Sunday night:

Metabolic Pump Chest & Shoulders

Exercise 1: Maximum Tension Dumbbell Shoulder Press

I typically use 35- to 40-pound dumbbells, which equates to roughly 50% of what I might do for six to eight normal reps. I perform 12 reps with an ultra-slow negative tempo, meaning that the eccentric portion is done over six to eight seconds. The concentric portion is done at normal rep speed, and constant tension is facilitated by stopping short of lockout while never pausing at the top or bottom.

Reps: 12 reps

Rest: 15 seconds

Exercise 2: Overhead Walk

The idea here is to hold a 45-pound barbell at ear-level behind the head and with the elbows locked out—this requires a very wide, pronated grip. I focus on keeping my delts and traps contracted and tense during the whole set, which ideally lasts two minutes while walking around. I really struggle performing this as prescribed and usually take three to four mini-breaks during the two minutes. In turn, walking around simply isn't happening for me. Perhaps it will in the future, though, after more experience with this exercise. The burn, however, is off the charts.

Time: Walk for two minutes

Rest: 15 seconds

Exercise 3: Dips Stretch

On this exercise, I lower myself (body weight) into the bottom position of a dip and hold it for a total of 60 seconds. The pec and delt stretch is intense, and I am usually forced to take a mini-break (about five seconds) at the 30=second point. However, I make sure to tack on the length of the break to the total time to ensure that I complete a full 60 seconds.

Hold: 60 seconds

Rest: two to three minutes

Perform the complex three times.

mark dugdale pull aparts 041014

On Monday morning I trained heavy back, following the Executioner Program. Here's how I trained Monday night.

Metabolic Pump Back

Exercise 1: Maximum Tension Band Pull Aparts

On this exercise, I perform three-position band pull aparts, doing eight very slow repetitions for each position. The three positions are:

  1. Mid-chest level
  2. Neck level
  3. Forehead level.

It’s critical to perform the concentric and eccentric very slowly (five seconds for each phase), focusing on having the mid-back/traps do the work—not the arms or the delts. Thus, move the shoulder blades inward, bringing them together (concentric) and outward, spreading them apart (eccentric). Keep the tension constant by not bringing the hands too close together and not pausing at any of the two range of motion endpoints.

Reps: 8 – 8 – 8

Rest: 15 seconds

mark dugdale wrist straps 041014

Exercise 2: Farmer's Walk

I prefer a dead-squat bar because the grip is wider, but these can be done with dumbbells or a standard trap bar. I use lifting straps because the idea behind this exercise isn't to build grip strength. I add 70 pounds to each side of the dead-squat bar and slowly walk up and down the gym floor for two minutes.

Time: Walk for two minutes

Rest: 15 seconds

Exercise 3: Band Pull Apart Iso-Holds

I use the same three positions as in Exercise 1, but this time I spread the band to the highest level of tension and perform a 15-second iso-hold. Remember to contract the mid-back/traps hard the entire time.

Hold: 15 seconds for each position

Rest: Two to three minutes

Perform the complex three times.

On Tuesday morning I pumped legs following the Executioner Program. Here's how I trained legs Tuesday night:

Explosive Complex Legs

Exercise 1: Split Squat Maximum Tension Holds

I hold the low position of a Bulgarian (back foot elevated) split squat for one minute with each leg. The back knee should be as close to the floor as possible without touching it, and the back foot shouldn't be any more elevated than the height of an aerobic step.

Execution is extremely important on this exercise. I contract the front foot's hamstring and glute as hard as humanly possible. I then hold it for a total of 60 seconds per side. This is performed in bouts of 30 seconds: 30 seconds with the right leg forward, 30 seconds with the left leg forward, 30 seconds with the right leg forward, and 30 seconds with the left leg forward. No rest between each of these bouts.

Hold: 60 seconds per side in 30-second bouts

Rest: 15 seconds

Exercise 2: Prowler® Forward Sprints

As soon as I complete the tension holds, I head straight to Prowler® sprints. The distance is the length of the gym (20 to 30 yards) and not a lot of weight is added to the Prowler® because these are performed as fast and as hard as possible.

Hold: 20 to 30 yards sprint

Rest: Three minutes

prowler forward pushes 041014

Exercise 3: Active Rest

After the Prowler® sprints, I get on the most conveniently located piece of cardio equipment (elliptical), and I go at a slow pace for three minutes. This is not cardio work. It shouldn't cause any fatigue. It's simply designed to keep the lower body warm and the blood flow going.

Perform the complex four times.

On Wednesday morning I pumped chest and shoulders using the Executioner Program. Here's how trained shoulders Wednesday night:

Explosive Complex Shoulders

Exercise 1: Explosive Dumbbell Press with Iso-Holds

I begin the complex using 50-pound dumbbells (50% of a normal hard set of four to six reps) and hold them at ear-level for a count of 20 seconds. Flex the delts hard the entire time until you hit 20 seconds. At this point, blast six super explosive reps. Do not lock out at the top and control your descent. After the sixth rep, hold the dumbbells at ear-level for another 20 seconds while flexing the delts hard.

Hold: 20-second iso-hold, plus six explosive reps and a 20-second iso-hold.

Rest: 15 seconds

Exercise 2: Medicine Ball Throw Overhead

I use a 15-pound medicine ball and throw it straight overhead as high as possible. The key here is to use only the arms to throw the ball. Keep the legs out of the exercise.

Throws: 12 throws

Rest: 15 seconds

cambered bar push up john meadows mark dugdale 041014

Exercise 3: Explosive Stretch Pushups

On this exercise, I hold the stretched position of a pushup with my pecs tensed. This can be done between two benches with your feet elevated or on a cambered bar in the rack. (Anything that allows you to sink as low into the pushup position as possible). Hold this position for 20 seconds and then blast out six super explosive concentric reps with a controlled descent. Then, hold the stretched position for another 20 seconds.

Hold: 20-second iso-hold, plus six explosive reps and a 20-second iso-hold.

Rest: Two to three minutes

Perform the complex four times.

On Thursday morning I pumped back using the Executioner Program. Here's how I trained back Thursday night:

Explosive Complex Back

Exercise 1: Maximum Tension Dumbbell Pullover

I use a 45-pound dumbbell and perform half pullovers with my arms straight and my elbows turned outward. Try to avoid activating the triceps or the pecs. Go as low as possible and lift the dumbbell until your arms hit a 45-degree angle from the floor. Strive to make the eccentric portion of the movement very slow, feeling the lats contracting and stretching. After the morning pump session, these feel awesome on my lats.

Reps: 20 reps

Rest: 15 seconds

Exercise 2: Kettlebell Swings

I use a moderate weight kettlebell (60 pounds) and do an explosive swing focusing on driving with the hips—not with the arms. During the explosive upward swing, I keep my arms relaxed, lifting the kettlebell to mid-chest level. Lift the kettlebell so explosively that you’re required to purposefully stop it using your lats/arms when it reaches chest level.

Reps: 10 reps

Rest: 15 seconds

Exercise 3: Lat Pull-Down Stretch

You can hang from a chin up bar (wide grip), but I prefer to grab a wide-grip lat pull-down bar and use the whole weight stack (300 pounds). I hook my legs under the pad and stretch for one minute. Be sure to use straps; otherwise, your grip won’t last the full minute.

Time: One-minute stretch

Rest: Two to three minutes

Perform the complex four times.

On Friday morning I trained biceps and triceps using the Executioner Program. On friday night there was no complex for arms.

This training split includes a total of 13 sessions per week. I implemented it two weeks ago—11 weeks out from my planned spring competitions: Mozolani Pro 212 (Slovakia) and BodyPower Pro 212 (UK). I did away with cardio in 2013 when I switched to seven workouts per week. Thus, obviously no cardio will be performed this year either. At this point, I don’t know what the end result will be, but I’m highly optimistic that it will alter my physique for the better. Perhaps what’s most exciting is that I feel good and enjoy training more than I did 20 years ago.

What doesn’t kill you…makes you #unbreakable!