Blood on the Barbell: Waterbury

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Your Name is Sue

You ought to thank me before I die,

for the gravel in your gut and the spit in your
eyes

— "A Boy Named Sue"

Sometimes you've gotta toughen up and learn not to feel. No
worries, no pain. In the zone.

Sure, there's pain all right. And worries? We've all
got 'em. But that's what training is for: to take the
worries and pain out of your life by forcing your mind and body to
work at their peak, even in the face of the most grueling workout.

A paradox? Hell no!

You see, the difference between a champion and a loser is in the
mindset. Champions welcome pain. Losers avoid it at all costs.
Champions seek out challenges. Losers have an aversion to
challenges. A champion embraces grueling workouts that push his
mind and willpower to the brink. A loser sits quietly on a leg
extension machine and reads the latest issue of Us magazine.

Life is all about pain and challenges. What many people
don't think about though is the theory of relativity and how
it relates to success. I'm not talking about Einstein's
relatively theory. I'm talking about the fitness theory
of relativity.

Fitness Relativity

I've been fortunate to work with some über successful
people in my life. People who had nothing more than the clothes on
their backs and $40 in their pockets that transcended the gap
between pauper and multi-millionaires. A private jet, a mansion on
the beach in Southern California, a mansion in Bali, and at least
seven figures sitting in a savings account. You get the idea.

Over the years I've noticed a key personality trait with
these clients of mine, a trait I've witnessed so many times
that I can't help but consider it fact:

The most successful people work hardest in the
gym.

What does that tell me? It tells me there's a positive
correlation between one who seeks challenge and his ultimate
success. The person who seeks challenges is more successful than
the person who doesn't, period.

Give me three middle-aged men and I'll take them through a
grueling workout. At the end of the session I'll be able to
tell you which guy has the most successful career and life. When a
person is used to overcoming challenges, such as a nauseating and
mentally draining workout, he becomes more apt at overcoming other
challenges in life.

In essence, a challenge in life becomes much less of a challenge
when you're used to pushing yourself in the gym. I call this
the Fitness Theory of Relativity.

Change Your Name to Sue

The irreverent and unorthodox genius, Shel Silverstein,
understood what I'm talking about. In his classic musical
tale, "A Boy Named Sue," popularized by the late Johnny Cash,
Silverstein describes the acrimonious life of a boy after his
father changed his name to Sue.

The father changed his son's name to Sue so he'd be forced
to live a childhood filled with ridicule and turmoil. His father
did the right thing. In the end, "Sue" became tougher than leather
because of what he had to go through by living with a name not
suited for any normal boy. "His fists got hard and his wits got
keen," the tale goes.

So that's what brings me to this article. I'm gonna
lay out a few different workouts that you should drop into your
current training plan whenever you feel like you need a challenge
that'll put your lifelong goals in perspective. And, of course,
you'll gain muscle and lose fat along the way.

Deal?

Bloody Complexes

Out of all the training methods I've used over the years,
none is as challenging as a well-designed complex. What's a
complex? It's a series of movements, usually on the order of
6-10, with no rest between each movement. In essence, you'll
pick up a barbell or a pair of dumbbells and you won't put the
weight down until all movements are finished.

You'll spit, cuss, and scream, for sure. But complexes will
make you tougher than hell and they'll transform your body. So
it should be no surprise that I favor complexes for all the
fighters I train. Here are two examples:

Bloody Barbell Complex

Overhead squat for 10 reps

Hang clean for 10 reps

Standing military press for 10 reps

Bentover row for 10 reps

Lunge for 10 reps on each leg

Romanian deadlift for 20 reps

Front squat for 10 reps

Standing calf raise (barbell across upper back) for 30
reps

Bloody Dumbbell Complex

Standing hammer curl for 5 reps

Standing alternating shoulder press for 10 reps with each
arm

Forward lunge for 10 reps with each leg

Bentover alternating row for 10 reps with each
arm

Reverse lunge with overhead press (palms facing each other) for
10 reps with each leg

Romanian deadlift for 20 reps

Standing calf raise (arms hanging at sides) for 30
reps

Loading: For the barbell complex, start with an unloaded bar.
From there, increase the load in 10 pound increments (a five pound
plate on each side) until you find a load that challenges you from
start to finish.

For the dumbbell complex, I start the series with a five
repetition maximum standing hammer curl for good reason: a load
that represents your 5RM for the hammer curl is usually a good
starting point for this dumbbell complex.

Total Body Exercises

I've preached it. I've hemmed and hawed, too. And
I've definitely done a bit of hand waving. I like total
body workouts.

What I'm talking about is a workout that comprises each of
the following movements: a compound upper body pulling exercise, a
compound upper body pressing exercise, and a compound lower body
exercise. Think dips, chins, and squats. Or push-ups, rows, and
deadlifts. Nevertheless, in some circumstances total body lifts are even more beneficial.

What's a total body lift? It's a series of movements,
usually three or four, that trains scores of different muscles.
Total body lifts are similar to complexes since both usually
revolve around compound movements. However, when you do a total
body lift the movement changes with each rep. I'll
explain.

With a complex, you might perform 10 front squats, followed by
10 military presses, followed by 10 Romanian deadlifts, followed by
10 hang cleans. With a total body lift, using those same four
movements, you simply perform one front squat, followed by one
military press, followed by one Romanian deadlift, followed by one
hang clean. This constitutes one repetition of a total body lift.

For those short on time, or for those just wanting a change of
pace, total body lifts can really hit the majority of your major
muscle groups with just one exercise. And they're great for
fat loss because they really boost your anaerobic endurance. Here
are two examples:

RSL Lift: Romanian Deadlift/Split Snatch/Lunge

I give credit to Alwyn Cosgrove for turning me on to this
ass-kicking total body exercise, and for turning me on to total
body lifts in general.

Description: Grab a pair of dumbbells that are light enough to
split snatch. First, perform a Romanian deadlift, then a split
snatch, then you'll finally drop down into a lunge before
returning to the starting position. For the next repetition, switch
your feet (stance) during the split snatch and lunge. In essence,
you'll have your right foot forward for the first rep, your
left foot forward for the second rep.

Here's how it looks:

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FMDH Lift: Front Squat / Military Press / Deadlift / Hang
Clean

With regard to all of the total body lifts that I've come
up with, this is my favorite since it challenges so many different
muscle groups and motor patterns.

Description: Load a barbell with enough weight to military press
10 times. Start with one front squat, then perform one military
press, followed by one deadlift, followed by one hang clean. The
transitions between each movement flows like fine wine so be sure
to use this total body lift whenever you have time, or whenever
you're short on time.

The Hang Clean

Total Body Blitzkrieg

Remember when I said I really like total body workouts? Well, I
wasn't kidding. I've come up with a workout that's
so thorough, but so damn tough, that most people don't have
the mettle to handle the pain.

Are you tough enough? Let's see.

A few years ago, I was posed with a challenge. One day a
military bad-ass that I was working with asked me to take him
through the most intense workout he'd every experienced. So I
put together the following circuit. I only allowed him 20-30
seconds rest between each movement, just enough time to take a few
breaths and walk over to the next exercise. Here's how it
looked:

Anterior tibialis raise for 20 reps
Seated calf raise for 10 reps
Standing calf raise for 10 reps
Leg curl for 10 reps
Sissy squat for 10 reps
Romanian deadlift for 10 reps
Front squat for 5 reps
Ab wheel for 10 reps
Reverse crunch for 10 reps
Woodchop for 10 reps on each side
Wide grip pull-up for 10 reps
Feet elevated push-ups for 20 reps
Bentover barbell row for 10 reps
Standing military press for 10 reps
Bentover side raise for 10 reps
Standing dumbbell external rotation for 20 reps
Dip for 10 reps
Standing hammer curl for 10 reps
Rest 3 minutes and repeat once more.

He did it. Then he threw up. Then he wiped the puke from the
side of his mouth and shook my hand. It was a teary moment, indeed.

Putting it All Together

Up to this point, I've mentioned a handful of different
workouts that'll challenge your overall fitness, psychological
resilience, and willingness to try something new — something
grueling. But here's your real challenge, if you dare accept
it.

For one week, I want you to put each of the three aforementioned
methods into your weeklong plan. This article contains every
workout you'll need for next week. Here's how it should
look:

DAY 1

Bloody Barbell Complex
Rest 2 minutes
Bloody Dumbbell Complex
Rest 2 minutes
Bloody Barbell Complex
Rest 3 minutes
Bloody Dumbbell Complex
You're Done

Note: When you repeat the barbell and dumbbell complexes,
you'll need to reduce the load by at least 20% to fulfill the
rep requirements.

DAY 2 — Off

DAY 3

RSL for 12 reps (6 reps with each leg forward)
Rest 1 minute
FMDH Lift for 12 reps
Rest 1 minute
RSL for 10 reps
Rest 2 minutes
FMDH for 10 reps
Rest 2 minutes
RSL for 8 reps
Rest 2 minutes
FMDH for 8 reps
Rest 2 minutes
RSL for 8 reps
Rest 1 minute
FMDH for 8 reps

Note: Do your best to use the same load for all cycles. At the
very least, you should be able to get through the first three
cycles of each total body lift before decreasing the load.

DAY 4 — Off

DAY 5

Total Body Blitzkrieg

Note: You'll probably need to decrease the load of each
movement by 20-30% for the second cycle.

DAYS 6 and 7 — Off

DAY 8

Return to your regularly scheduled workout plan. Hell Week is
over.

Final Words

These workouts will toughen you up. Soon you'll be
swaggering your way through life. Women, money, and fame are all
sure to follow if you welcome challenges... and overcome them.

These workouts will transform your body and mind. Soon, people
will be calling you Sue.