Brief But Brutal

When you read one of my articles you can be sure of two things. One, you'll get the straight dope. I'm not the kind of guy who likes to use light and smoke effects to dazzle you into believing in what I'm saying. You'll believe it because it works!

Two, what you're reading will be tried-and-true. I never write an article about a training method or program I haven't thoroughly experimented with myself or used with my athletes. To me a good "training theory" isn't worth anything until it's actually proven on the field.

Recently my professional situation has really taken off. Between my work with T-mag, training my athletes, promoting my book, and working on a new book, I hardly have time to train at all. This is a mini crisis for me because, well, I like to train, but mostly because being in good shape is the best business card I can have! I had to find a way to still develop a great physique without spending a lot of time in the gym.

What I came up with is the "Part-Time Beast" routine! It worked for me and it'll work equally well for busy students or anyone else who needs a brief but brutal training program. It uses two to four weekly workouts lasting between 30 and 45 minutes each (sometimes even less than that). It's basically a hit-and-run program. There isn't a lot of fancy exercises, only money exercises: those giving the most results in the least amount of time.

Let's dissect this beast right now and see what makes it tick!

The Split

The training split to use is a whole-body workout repeated anywhere from two times per week up to four times per week depending on the time available. There are four different workouts in the program. If you train four times per week you'll do all four workouts in the same week. If you train twice per week you'll spread the four workouts over two weeks.

If you're training twice per week the split would be:

Tuesday: Off/Abs*

Wednesday: Off/Abs

Saturday: Off/Abs

Sunday: Off/Abs

Tuesday: Off/Abs

Wednesday: Off/Abs

Saturday: Off/Abs

Sunday: Off/Abs

Repeat the split until you've completed all four workouts three times (six weeks).


If you're training three times per week the split would be:

Tuesday: Off/Abs

Saturday: Off/Abs

Sunday: Off/Abs

Tuesday: Off/Abs

Saturday: Off/Abs

Sunday: Off/Abs

Repeat the split until you've completed all four workouts three times (four weeks).


If you're training four times per week the split would be:

Tuesday: Off/Abs

Saturday: Off/Abs

Repeat the split until you've completed all four workouts three times (three weeks).

Got it? Good! Let's look at the workouts.

Workout 1

A) Bench Press

Sets/Reps Scheme: We're going to use a progressive loading method to stimulate as many motor units as possible in the "pushing" muscles of the upper body. We'll use ten sets for this exercise, resting 90 seconds between each set.

Start with a set of ten reps. On each subsequent set decrease the number of reps by one and increase the load by 2.5 to 10 pounds. We're basically going to do sets of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 reps. Use the following to select the loads for each set (obviously allow some leeway to complete each set).

If you bench press 75-225 pounds:

Set 2: 9 reps with 25 pounds less than max

Set 4: 7 reps with 20 pounds less than max

Set 6: 5 reps with 15 pounds less than max

Set 8: 3 reps with 10 pounds less than max

Set 10: 1 rep with 5 pounds less than max


If you bench press 225-405 pounds:

Set 2: 9 reps with 50 pounds less than max

Set 4: 7 reps with 40 pounds less than max

Set 6: 5 reps with 30 pounds less than max

Set 8: 3 reps with 20 pounds less than max

Set 10: 1 rep with 10 pounds less than max


If you bench press 405+ pounds:

Set 2: 9 reps with 95 pounds less than max

Set 4: 7 reps with 75 pounds less than max

Set 6: 5 reps with 55 pounds less than max

Set 8: 3 reps with 35 pounds less than max

Set 10: 1 rep with 15 pounds less than max

Tempo: The tempo is set at a two second eccentric portion (lowering) and a one second concentric portion (lifting).

Duration of the exercise: 16-18 minutes

B) Overhand Mid-Grip Seated Row

Sets/Reps Scheme: For this exercise we'll use the same amount of reps every set. Here's the tricky part: on each set (there'll be five of them) you decrease the weight while also decreasing the rest interval between the sets. The following explains this system:

Set 1

Rest interval: 90 seconds


Set 2

Rest interval: 60 seconds


Set 3

Rest interval: 45 seconds


Set 4

Rest interval: 30 seconds


Set 5

Rest interval: N/A

Tempo: The tempo is set at a two second eccentric portion (lowering) and a one second concentric portion (lifting). You also hold a two second isometric (static) contraction when the bar reaches your sternum.

Duration of the exercise: 6-8 minutes

C) Front Squat

Sets/Reps Scheme: For this exercise we'll also use the same amount of reps every set and decrease the weight and rest intervals. The following table explains this system:

Set 1

Rest interval: 90 seconds


Set 2

Rest interval: 60 seconds


Set 3

Rest interval: 45 seconds


Set 4

Rest interval: 30 seconds


Set 5

Rest interval: 15 seconds

Set 6

Rest interval: N/A

Tempo: The tempo is set at a five second eccentric and a one second concentric.

Duration of the exercise: 6-8 minutes

Total workout time: 30-35 minutes

Workout 2

A) Back Squat

Sets/Reps Scheme: We're going to use the same progressive loading method we used with the bench press. We'll use 10 sets for this exercise, resting 90 seconds between each set. We'll start with a set of 10 reps and on each subsequent set we'll decrease the number of reps by one and increase the load by 2.5 to 10 pounds. Again, we're basically going to do sets of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 reps.

Use the same table as with the bench press from workout one to select your training weights.

Tempo: The tempo is set at a two second eccentric and a one second concentric.

Duration of the exercise: 16-18 minutes

B) Half Deadlift

Sets/Reps Scheme: For this exercise we'll use the same progression as with the seated rowing used earlier.

Set 1

Rest interval: 90 seconds


Set 2

Rest interval: 60 seconds


Set 3

Rest interval: 45 seconds


Set 4

Rest interval: 30 seconds


Set 5

Rest interval: N/A

Tempo: Two second eccentric portion and one second concentric portion. You also hold a two second isometric contraction when you're standing up completely.

Duration of the exercise: 6-8 minutes

C) Push Press

Sets/Reps Scheme: Same as the front squat of workout one.

Set 1

Rest interval: 90 seconds


Set 2

Rest interval: 60 seconds


Set 3

Rest interval: 45 seconds


Set 4

Rest interval: 30 seconds


Set 5

Rest interval: 15 seconds


Set 6

Tempo: Five second eccentric portion and one second concentric portion.

Duration of the exercise: 6-8 minutes

Total workout time: 30-35 minutes

Workout 3

A) Sumo Deadlift

Sets/Reps Scheme: We're going to again use the same progressive loading method as we used with the bench press: 10 sets, resting 90 seconds between each set. Again, we'll start with a set of 10 reps and on each subsequent set we'll decrease the number of reps by one and increase the load by 2.5 to 10 pounds, essentially doing sets of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 reps.

Use the same table as with the bench press from workout one and back squat from workout two to select your training weights.

Tempo: Two second eccentric portion and one second concentric portion.

Duration of the exercise: 16-18 minutes

B) Incline Bench Press

Sets/Reps Scheme: Again, the same as the front squat in workout one.

Set 1

Rest interval: 90 seconds


Set 2

Rest interval: 60 seconds


Set 3

Rest interval: 45 seconds


Set 4

Rest interval: 30 seconds


Set 5

Rest interval: N/A

Tempo: The tempo is set at a two second eccentric and a one second concentric. You'll hold a two second isometric contraction when the bar is lowered halfway down (four to six inches from the chest).

Duration of the exercise: 6-8 minutes

C) One Leg Back Extension

Sets/Reps Scheme: For this drill we'll do as many reps as we can in proper form. Proper form means that we lift ourselves up by pushing against the support with our anchored foot. We'll do three such sets with 30 seconds between each.

Tempo: The tempo is set at a five second eccentric and a one second concentric.

Duration of the exercise: 4-6 minutes

Total workout time: 28-33 minutes

Workout 4

A) Power Clean From Blocks/Hang

Sets/Reps Scheme: For this drill we'll use a 5-3-2 wave loading system. We'll do two waves, the second wave using heavier loads. Each wave consists of one set of five reps, one set of three reps and one set of two reps. Use the following table as a starting guideline; adjust the loads to your individual capacities.

Set 1

Load: 85%


Set 2

Load: 90%


Set 3

Load: 95%

Set 4

Load: 85% + 5 to 10 pounds

Set 5

Load: 90% + 5 to 10 pounds

Set 6

Load: 95% + 5 to 10 pounds

Tempo: The exercise is performed explosively.

Duration of the exercise: 10-12 minutes

B) Push Jerk

Sets/Reps Scheme: For this drill we'll also use a 5-3-2 wave loading system. Refer to the table presented with the power clean from blocks to select your training loads.

Tempo: Explosive

Duration of the exercise: 10-12 minutes

Total workout time: 20-24 minutes

Conclusion

The preceding is a very effective program for those, like me, pressed with time. I use this program when I find myself overly busy and continue to make gains despite the lowered training volume. It's obviously not a program well suited for optimum performance, but if you're a part-time beast, then it's the best solution possible!