My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys

There was an influential movement in the 1970's that totally changed the face of music. This movement was led by my heroes: Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver, and a bunch of other crazy, rule-breaking nonconformists. They looked tradition right in the eyes and proclaimed a better way. Because of this, they were laughed at, spit on and labeled "outlaws." But in the end, their rough, raw, and honest approach changed the future of music. These outlaws faced opposition head-on and forged a new path to success.

Anyone who's followed my writings is probably well aware that I break many of the so-called "rules" of strength and conditioning. Why would I do such a thing? Because more often than not, I've found a better way. This industry, like any other, needs an outlaw or two if we're ever going to compete with the Eastern Bloc countries who've taken oven the training world. Sitting on our hands and reading Muscle & Fiction isn't going to help us reach our full potential.

I've learned a hell of a lot since my first Testosterone article was published. Basically, I realized the majority of readers want a program that's completely laid out for them. Initially, I wrote my articles purely from an informational standpoint (i.e. I give you the information and you incorporate it into your program). Well, I've decided I wanted to change that due to many requests for the alternative. I know some of you want to know the science behind my methods, but most of you just want to know what works.

Running my business and being in graduate school has forced me to burn the candle at both ends. Such a situation has made me very short on time, therefore, my articles tend to get straight to the details while leaving most of the "science talk" out. In graduate school at the University of Arizona, I have to reference damn near every word I say (hell, if you want to take a leak in graduate school you have to provide the prof with a couple of studies proving the physiological need to do so!). In other words, I get a little tired of referencing every statement I make.

There's also another reason why you won't see seventy-five references at the end of my articles. If I could reference every statement I make, then I'm really not saying anything new, am I? If you want to be a pioneer, you must walk the paths that others haven't yet traversed. It's the outlaw way.

Enter the Outlaw System

Most of my programs from this point forward will fall under the umbrella heading of "OSC" or Outlaw Strength and Conditioning. This first OSC program is aimed at dramatically improving your General Physical Preparedness (GPP). Who should use this program? Anyone who feels his total body conditioning level is low. This program greatly improves strength, power, and cardiovascular conditioning.

Note: Although many will experience fat loss on this program, trainees should not be on a super-low calorie diet if they plan to do this workout. It's very demanding and high volume. Therefore, it's a great hypertrophy program that will simultaneously skyrocket total-body conditioning levels.

Outlaw Progression

This seven week program uses a fairly unique form of progression: I want you to double the sets every workout. Okay, okay, just kidding! Seriously, what I want you to do is decrease every rest period by five seconds with each subsequent week.

You'll start out on week one with 60-second rest periods. On week two, use 55-second rest periods and on week three, use 50 second rest periods, etc. At the end of the seventh week you'll be executing the same routine with half the rest periods! Now that's what I call Outlaw GPP!

The fact that the rest periods are constantly being decreased forces you to perform the same workload in less time. Therefore, by the seventh week the work-to-rest ratio has dramatically shifted in favor of work and little rest! In short, you'll become an ass-stomping machine in the gym and on the playing field!

Exercise Descriptions

There are several exercises in this program you may not be familiar with. I'll provide a description of the more esoteric movements below, then we'll get to the actual program.

Alternating Shoulder Press

Alternating Shoulder Press Alternating Shoulder Press Alternating Shoulder Press

Assume the position of a squat with the bar resting on the upper back/traps, hands shoulder width apart. Press the load straight up overhead, then lower it to the front so it's resting on your upper chest. Next, press the bar straight up overhead again and lower down to the starting position on the back. This constitutes one repetition.

Decline Dumbbell Pullover

Decline Dumbbell Pullover Decline Dumbbell Pullover

Lie down on a 45-degree decline bench. Start with the dumbbells held over the torso with the arms straight and locked. While keeping the arms straight, lower the dumbbells behind the head as far as the shoulder joint allows. Keep the hands shoulder width apart throughout.

Donkey Calf Raise

Donkey Calf Raise

Be sure to use a step or a box for this exercise to induce the calf stretch. Use a dip belt loaded with plates to increase the resistance of the exercise if no machine or partner is available. I prefer the belt over a partner, unless said partner looks like Jennifer Garner.

Dumbbell Dorsiflexion

This one is performed on a bench with the lower legs off the edge. The legs are straight and the quads are contracted to hold the position. The calf region is "free" in the air.

Dumbbell Dorsiflexion

Place a dumbbell between your arches. Keep it between the feet while performing the dorsiflexion movement (flexing the toes towards your body) using just your anterior calf muscles. Don't let the quads assist you by turning it into a sissy-boy leg extension. (This is performed exactly the same as with the DARD device, if you're familiar with it.)

Dumbbell Squat Thrust (Modified "Burpee")

Dumbbell Squat Thrust Dumbbell Squat Thrust Dumbbell Squat Thrust Dumbbell Squat Thrust Dumbbell Squat Thrust

Begin in the standing position with dumbbells against the front of the thighs. Squat down on your haunches and place the dumbbells on the ground in front of your toes. Pop the legs back into a position that looks like a push-up with the hands on dumbbells, then jump the legs back up to the previous position. Finally, stand up with the dumbbells and vomit on the last rep.

Glute-ham Raise

I prefer these to be performed without the dedicated machine. Instead, have a partner hold the ankles or hook the heels underneath something solid so the toes are four to six inches off the ground.

Glute-ham Raise

Contract the hamstrings and lower yourself slowly to the ground. You'll probably end up collapsing and catching yourself on your hands. Using your hand, push yourself back up explosively until your hamstrings can "take over" and lift you the rest of the way up. Wipe the tears from your eyes and repeat.

Hanging Pike

Hanging Pike Hanging Pike

Assume a position similar to a pronated grip pull-up with the hands shoulder width apart. Perform a straight leg raise and continue up until the shins touch the bar between your hands. Lower and repeat with appropriate groaning and cries of pain.

Inch Worm

Inch Worm Inch Worm

Assume a position where your feet are on the floor (shoulder width) and your hands are flat on the ground in front of you (also shoulder width). At the starting position your butt should be high in the air; imagine you're making an inverted "V" with your body. Walk your hands out as far as possible, then walk your hands back to the starting position. Preferably, at the end (extended) position, your abs should be two to three inches off the ground and you'll look like a flying superman.

One-Legged Dumbbell Deadlift

One-Legged Dumbbell Deadlift

While standing on one foot and with dumbbells held at the sides, flex the trunk forward until the dumbbells touch the floor. The back should slightly round on this exercise and the knee of the working leg should be slightly flexed in the bottom position (dumbbells on the floor). The back should round slightly to work the spinal erectors dynamically as opposed to statically in virtually every other back exercise. No, it isn't harmful!

Overhead Figure 8

Overhead Figure 8

Hold two dumbbells overhead with the elbows locked and walk in a figure eight pattern. The length of the pattern should be approximately four meters each way (about 13 feet). The elbows stay locked and the arms remain overhead throughout (keep the palms facing forward).

The figure eight pattern increases the instability of this exercise. Just holding two dumbbells up overhead isn't very challenging, but if you walk in this pattern, all of the rotator cuff muscles have to fire to stabilize the load. Therefore, it becomes a rotator cuff exercise that challenges the muscles in more than one plane.

Seated Dumbbell External Rotation

Assume a position on the edge of a bench with the torso flexed forward so it makes a 60-degree angle with the ground. Hold two dumbbells at the sides with the palms pronated (palms face behind you).

Initiate this movement by simultaneously upright rowing, then externally rotating the dumbbells until they end up at a level of the top of the head (the elbows should be making a 90 degree angle at this point). At the same time this is happening, the trunk should be extending back to 90 degrees (perpendicular to the ground).

To return to the starting position, internally rotate and drop the arms back to the sides while flexing the trunk forward to 60 degrees.

Seated Dumbbell External Rotation Seated Dumbbell External Rotation Seated Dumbbell External Rotation

Side Deadlift

Side Deadlift Side Deadlift

Squat down next to a barbell at your side and grab it in the center. Stand up while holding onto the barbell and maintaining a trunk position that doesn't tilt towards the side of the load. The trunk shouldn't bend to the side, instead, the obliques and quadratus lomborum muscles should fire to stabilize the torso. After the required reps and with no rest, switch to the other side.

Split Squat

Split Squat

Split squats look sort of like a stationary lunge with the back foot up on a bench, which will stretch the hip flexors of the non-working leg. Keep your torso as perpendicular to the floor as possible throughout the movement. You may use a barbell or dumbbells.

Step-ups

Step-ups Step-ups

Perform the step-ups while holding dumbbells at your sides. Use a box or bench height that places your knee joint at about a 75-degree angle in the starting position. Do all the reps on one leg before switching to the other. No rest between legs; start with the weakest leg first.

Waterbury Crucifix

Waterbury Crucifix Waterbury Crucifix

Hold two dumbbells in the crucifix position. Perform the exercise by flexing the trunk forward until it's parallel to the ground, then extend back to the starting position (this constitutes one repetition). The arms should stay in the same static position (relative to the shoulder) throughout. It looks just like a good morning with the hands straight out to the sides. There'll be a slight bend in the knee at the bottom position.

This exercise is excellent for medial/posterior deltoid strength. In the upright position, the emphasis is on the medial delts; in the flexed forward position, the emphasis is on the rear delts.

Waterbury Walk

This exercise is formerly known as the "deadlift walk." Why the name change? Am I just some egotistical redneck? Hmm, good point, but no. Since I invented this exercise, I thought I'd attach my name to it before someone on the "other side" decides to rip me off.

Waterbury Walk Waterbury Walk Waterbury Walk

To perform the Waterbury walk, go to the power rack in your gym and kick out the Body-for-Lifer who, for some unknown reason, is in there doing kickbacks. Next, move the hooks (barbell supports) to the front of the power rack (the outside) and set them at a level just below your knees. You may also be able to use the safety supports depending on the type of equipment you have.

Load a bar with approximately 65% of your raw deadlift 1RM. ("Raw" means using no belts, suits, straps, or wraps.) Place the bar on the floor directly in front of the power rack about two full steps away from the hooks. Assume a shoulder-width stance with your grip outside of your legs. Use a symmetrical pronated grip (palms facing you), not the mixed powerlifter's grip.

Deadlift the weight up and once you reach lockout, take two steps forward, reset your stance, and lower the bar onto the hooks. As soon as you release muscular tension, re-lift the load, take two steps backward, stop, reset your stance, and lower to the ground. That's the first rep. Without resting, repeat for the prescribed number of reps. If you don't have access to a power rack you can set the bar on a bench.

Zercher Squat

Zercher Squat Zercher Squat

Place a barbell in the crook of your arms with the fingers clasped. Lower yourself until the elbows touch the top of the thighs. Initiate the movement by pushing the hips back and then descend. Use a stance with the feet shoulder width apart.

The Outlaw Program

Here's what the first seven days of the program will look like. Remember, you'll drop five seconds off the rest period each week of the seven week program.

Note that some of the movements require you to perform 25 reps with a 30-rep max load (or similar). Every rest period is incomplete (i.e. full recovery can't take place) in this phase, therefore a 30 RM must be used to get two 25-rep sets with 60 seconds rest. It's necessary that you start at the prescribed loads in order to end up with 30-second rest periods on week seven.

Most exercises, however, involve performing five sets of four reps.

DAY 1

Jump Rope
Sets:  2
Duration:  90 seconds
Rest:  60 seconds (on week one)

Inch Worm
Load: Bodyweight
Sets:  2
Reps:  10
Rest:  60 seconds

Dumbbell Dorsiflexion
Load: 30 RM. (In other words, choose a load that you could perform for 30 repetitions – no more, no less. However, you'll perform only 25 reps with the 30 rep max.)
Sets:  2
Reps:  25
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

Standing Calf Raise
Load: 30 RM
Sets:  2
Reps:  25
Tempo:  211
Rest:  60 seconds

Notes: These can be done on a machine or while holding a dumbbell in front of the body. The toes must be elevated to activate the full stretch at the bottom of the movement, therefore use a step or a box. I don't like using a barbell and standing on the floor because it doesn't involve a full calf stretch.

Split Squat
Load: 5RM
Sets:  5
Reps:  4
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

Notes: No rest between legs, start with your weakest leg first.

Chin-Ups
Load: 5RM
Sets:  5
Reps:  4
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

Notes: Palms supinated, shoulder width grip

Zercher Squats
Load: 5RM
Sets:  5
Reps:  4
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

Decline Dumbbell Pullovers
Load: 5RM
Sets:  5
Reps:  4
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

Waterbury Walks
Load: 20RM
Sets:  2
Reps:  15
Rest:  60 seconds

DAY 2

Dumbbell Squat Thrusts
Load: 20RM (Pick two dumbbells that equal approximately 25% of your barbell deadlift 1RM. So if your max deadlift is 400 pounds, use two 50 pound dumbbells.)
Sets:  2
Reps:  15
Rest:  60 seconds

Dips or Decline Dumbbell Bench Presses (palms facing each other)
Load: 5RM
Sets:  5
Reps:  4
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

One-Legged Dumbbell Deadlift
Load: 5RM
Sets:  5
Reps:  4
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

Notes: No rest between legs, start with your weakest leg first.

Dumbbell Bench Press
Load: 5RM
Sets:  5
Reps:  4
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

Glute Ham Raise
Load: 5RM
Sets:  5
Reps:  4
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

Side Deadlift
Load: 20RM
Sets:  2
Reps:  15
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

DAY 3

Fifteen minutes of high-intensity aerobics consisting of whatever you fancy (I prefer to herd cattle, but you might not have that luxury). Just choose an aerobic exercise that requires your max heart rate to be at approximately 75 to 80%. Exercises like jumping rope and running are good examples.

DAY 4

Jump Rope
Sets:  2
Duration:  90 seconds
Rest:  60 seconds

Inch Worm
Load: bodyweight
Sets:  2
Reps:  10
Rest:  60 seconds

Donkey Calf Raise
Load: 30RM
Sets:  2
Reps:  25
Tempo:  211
Rest:  60 seconds

Dumbbell Dorsiflexion
Load: 30RM
Sets:  2
Reps:  25
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

Bent Over Barbell Rows (supinated, shoulder-width grip)
Load: 5RM
Sets:  5
Reps:  4
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

Barbell Front Squat
Load: 5RM
Sets:  5
Reps:  4
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

Incline Dumbbell Press
Load: 5RM
Sets:  5
Reps:  4
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

Step-Ups
Load: 5RM
Sets:  5
Reps:  4
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

Notes: No rest between legs, start with your weakest leg first.

Alternating Shoulder Press
Load: 20RM
Sets:  2
Reps:  15
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

DAY 5

Dumbbell Squat Thrust
Load: 20RM
Sets:  2
Reps:  15
Rest:  60 seconds

Skull Crushers (Triceps Extensions)
Load: 5RM
Sets:  5
Reps:  4
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

Seated Dumbbell External Rotations
Load: 5RM
Sets:  5
Reps:  4
Rest:  60 seconds

Standing Partial Military Press
Load: 5RM
Sets:  5
Reps:  4
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

Barbell Good Morning
Load: 5RM
Sets:  5
Reps:  4
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

Hanging Pike
Load: 5RM
Sets:  5
Reps:  4
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

Waterbury Crucifix
Load: Use a load that equals your dumbbell side raise 15 RM
Sets:  2
Reps:  10
Tempo:  201
Rest:  60 seconds

Overhead Figure 8's
Load: Use a load that equals your standing dumbbell military press 10 RM
Sets:  2
Reps:  4 complete Figure 8's
Rest:  60 seconds

DAY 6 & 7

Fifteen to twenty minutes of high intensity aerobic work.

Conclusion

At Waylon Jennings' first New York City gig, he walked out on stage and told the crowd he was going to play them some country music and he hoped they'd like it. But if they didn't like it, he said, they'd better keep their mouths shut because he'd kick all of their asses. I won't be quite as harsh on my naysayers. Just give this "outlaw" program a try and see for yourself.