Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sled Dragging

Sled dragging is my favorite kind of conditioning/cardio/energy system (am I forgetting anything here?) workout that there is. There are a million things you can do with the sled from sprinting to walking to crawling to pressing and pulling.

For strength gains, load the sled up with as many plates as you can handle and drag it as far as you can for 10-20 seconds. This can be done both forward and backward.

For speed development, load the sled lightly and do short sprints with it. If you are going for true speed, you should not use much weight, maybe just the empty sled or at most an additional 45. Anything that slows you down too much or throws off your technique is too heavy and can't technically qualify as pure speed training.

Sled dragging is also great as a form of active recovery. The day after a heavy squat workout, you could take an empty sled out for a walk, both forward and backward for 15-20 minutes to get some nutrient rich blood in the muscle which will help you recover faster.

If you are looking to really boost you conditioning in a hurry, you could do circuits of different exercises such as rows, presses and sprints with the sled with minimal rest between sets.

Another goal the sled will help you in accomplishing is losing bodyfat. To do this you can sprint, do circuits or just walk with the sled for 30-60 minutes. Summer is coming and there is no time like the present to start getting in shape. So break out your sled today and get to work.

Don't have a sled? Go to Elite Fitness Systems and order one now.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Underground Training Interview with Zach Even-Esh

Today we have part one of a new interview with my friend and colleague, the Underground Strength Coach, Zach Even-Esh.

Zach, tell us how you learned about “Underground” training?

ZE – Well, without a doubt, my very first days of training at a gym always leave me with the recollection of George, a jacked dude who was built like he was carved from stone. This guy was solid muscle! He never did what the rest of us did. He trained his own way, his own style and he never cared what others said to him.

I still remember to this day watching him spend over 30 or 45 minutes on one movement! I would be finishing a workout and he was still training one movement! I remember watching him do endless sets of weighted dips, or flat benching or weighted pull ups. Back then I never saw anyone perform weighted bodyweight exercises except George. But, his arms were busting through his sleeves and his traps were stretching his shirts out big time!

My memories reminded me after many years of training by the rules, that to get seriously strong and jacked, there truly are NO rules!

And now that you follow this “NO Rules” philosophy is this how Underground training evolved?

ZE – Exactly. My friend, Ryan Lee, was interviewing me one day about my training methods, and he asked me what best describes what I do. I flat out told him I don’t follow the majority of what people say or advise on doing because it usually doesn’t even work in the real world! All my training was taking place in garages, back yards, playgrounds, fields, parking lots, etc. – the only way I could describe what I do was by calling it “Underground”.

Take us through an Underground workout that one of your athletes would follow.

ZE – Most of my athletes are Football players and wrestlers. I also consult with BJJ and MMA fighters. The workouts, I hate to say, are always different according to what the individual needs to work on at that point in time. This isn’t a cop out, it’s true, but, I’ll give you a sample of an off season workout our wrestlers might go through.

1) warm up with mobility, movement drills and calisthenics. This might include skipping, galloping, mobility drills such as bird dogs, fire hydrants, hip bridges and various arm circles. After a thorough warm up we then begin the workout
2A) Trap bar DL 5 x 3 – 6 reps
2B) Recline thick rope body rows 5 x max reps
2C) abdominal movement 5 x 12 – 15 reps
3A) rope climb up & down 3 x 15 ft.
3B) sledge hammer swings across right & left shoulder 3 x 10 ea.
3C) sandbag zercher carry around back yard 3 x 1 lap

We will finish the workouts with soft tissue work on the foam roller and the medicine ball.

Some workouts are all indoors, others all outdoors and some are a mix as you saw above.

What is the biggest misconception people have of Underground training?

ZE – People assume we do only odd object lifts and don’t use barbell and dumbbells or other tools. This is totally off. We use everything because everything works. The odd objects hit the body in places that barbells and dumbbells simply have not or can not do.

Things like starting off a sandbag squat and ripping it off the floor. Every first rep is a power move that benefits the performance more than if we normally back squat and nothing else. The variety of implements helps us keep fresh as well. Eventually, people get bored of doing the same old stuff or training in the gym all the time! Training outdoors in the fresh air kicks ass! This is why Arnold and Franco and the rest of the crew loved training at Muscle Beach. The atmosphere and outdoor energy was electric!

In your Underground Strength Kit, you have a separate manual solely dedicated to stone training! I thought it was awesome and I was shocked to see so many movements with just a stone! What motivated you to begin stone training?

ZE – Of course, watching The World’s Strongest Man competitions was always an inspiration, but in addition to the WSM, there were times when I was really strapped for cash and had nothing but a barbell and a few dumbbells.

At the time I trained at my Dad’s, and his backyard had a row of odd shaped stones of different sizes. I started using them with wrestlers, football players and basketball players. I didn’t have a choice, I needed weights!

To my surprise, the stone training was phenomenal. We started simple by just doing carries from one end of the backyard to the other. We did military presses, bent over rows and deadlifts.

Strength was improving like crazy and they all were improving performance. Our football guys were playing in summer camps and were hitting harder, running faster and getting tougher.

The basketball players were out-conditioning their opponents and always had the strength and power endurance to rebound the ball more often and had improved defense.

The wrestlers were dominating like never before! They were lifting kids and throwing them around like rag dolls. I was seriously in shock watching my athletes perform and hearing their success stories.

I knew we landed onto something big by combining these Underground methods with the barbells, dumbbells and bodyweight!

To this day I keep on refining the methods and transforming athletes and non athletes with these methods that I have in The Underground Strength Kit.

As for my self, these methods have breathed fresh air into my workouts, literally! Training outdoors clears my mind and gets me away from the BS inside 99 % of the commercial gyms. I feel fresh air is man and woman’s best friend and we should ALL spend time training outdoors. There is a lot of therapy that comes with training Underground and humans need it!

With all the stress we endure on a regular basis, people will realize that training outdoors makes them feel great. Sun and fresh air are powerful therapeutic tools for all people, adults or not.

In fact, I just had a Mom contact me for the second time to get her kid back here again. They live so far away that it takes them 45 minutes to an hour to drive here, one way! So I sent them to a friend who trains athletes but lives 10 minutes away!

They want to come back here! The Mother told me her son loves the Underground training, the atmosphere, the outdoors and everything we do! For young athletes, this style of training seems to be a huge boost to their ego as well. I feel this is a huge area we are missing the boat on when it comes to training young athletes – the need to train their mind first and foremost. Boosting their self esteem is a priority and I have been fortunate beyond belief to see how happy these kids are when we train together!

Stay tuned for part II with our interrogation with Zach Even – Esh and his Underground Training Methods!

If you want to learn more about Underground training in the mean time, check out Zach’s latest kick ass ebook by clicking HERE now.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Random Thoughts

  • Why does New York City, the birthplace of hip hop, have the worst hip hop radio stations and clubs anywhere in the country?

  • Why does New York City, the place where everyone is supposed to have a chip on their shoulder and a bad attitude, not have one single hardcore gym or anything that resembles one? Where are all these angry, bad ass New Yorkers supposed to train?

  • Why don't all the homeless people in New York City go south for the winter? I mean if you have nothing else to do all day, why not walk south? Instead of sleeping on a sidewalk in ten degree weather, sleep on the beach in seventy degree weather. That would only make sense to me. I'm not condoning homelessness or making fun of it, I'm just suggesting a smarter approach to surviving the winter. Being homeless in South Beach has got to beat being homeless in New York City.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Planned Overtraining

Planned overtraining or in geek terms, over reaching, is something that a lot of coaches and trainers have recommended over the years. Basically you overtrain your body for three weeks straight while never allowing complete recovery. Verkoshansky stated that the greater the decrease in performance (strength, speed, vertical jump, etc.) during the loading phase, the greater the supercompensation effect will be during the unloading phase. The goal is actually to shoot for a 10-15% decrease in performance.

Now call me crazy but why would I want to waste three weeks trying to do what I could do in one? If I overtrain, or train without complete recovery (for all the people out there who believe that overtraining doesn't exist) for three weeks straight I will get weaker, maybe smaller, possibly come down with the flu or something similar and have pounded my body with heavy weights for no apparent reason.

If I wanted to be 10-15% weaker, it wouldn't take me three weeks of lifting heavy weights and sacrificing my immune system and nervous system. It would only take me one week in Jamaica, smoking, drinking and staying up partying all night. I should know, I've done it. And I've come back 10-15% weaker every time. Saved two weeks accomplishing my goal and had a lot more fun.

Look into it.

Another thing to think about when it comes to planned overtraining is that what is being suggested is that your nervous system will get a supercompensation effect. Your NERVOUS SYSTEM...will get a supercompensation effect. Think about that, reread it. Now that is priceless comedy right there.

Also, this model usually suggest three weeks of planned overtraining and a one week deload. So basically you are getting one good training week out of four, right? Or three months out of twelve are actually beneficial.

There can be huge benefits to alternating periods of higher intensity with lower intensity with corresponding levels of overall volume but planned overtraining, where the goal is a to achieve a drop in performance, doesn't seem to pan out or make much sense in the real world.

If you still are convinced that a 10-15% drop in performance will result in a huge rebound effect, don't waste three weeks. Get a 30 pack and have at it. After staying up all night, head to the gym and test your max. I'm sure you will find that you accomplished your goal...

Sunday, February 18, 2007

"When You're Ten Years In, Holla Back Then"

I checked my voicemail one day last week and had a message from a good friend of mine saying, "Dude, I almost fell out of my chair when I was reading an online training forum the other day and saw your name on there right in the mix with all the pencil necks. What kind of loser are you turning into? Actually, what kind of loser am I turning into even being on those training forums?"

Both, good questions. And I plead guilty as charged. I got sucked in once or twice in my life. My friend still won't return my calls though. So I guess his embarassment is even eclipsing mine.

Online training forums are filled with 146 pound guys who carry a protactor, compass, metronome and a copy of the pythagorean theorem with them to the gym. They need to be sure that everything is at exactly the proper angle, that they are facing the right direction (based on time of day) and that their 4683 tempo is perfect. That is if they ever actually make it to the gym, of course. Most of them are too busy arguing training principles on the internet with some 17 year old kid in Kansas who has nothing better to do than quote The Science and Practice of Strength Training all day long.

There is no bigger waste of your time than to argue with people on an online training forum. Don't do it. Anyone who has more than ten years of experience and the results to back up what they say is not spending time on message boards. If someone is really busy training clients and gaining experience you will not ever see them on training forums.

For example, how many times have you seen Joe DeFranco, CJ Murphy or John Alvino on a training forum?

I'll give you a hint. Almost never.

They are too busy getting results with real clients in the real world. And for them to argue training with someone who just started lifting last year but has read every Russian manual ever printed is ridiculous.

That would be like me arguing film making with Steven Spielberg and telling him that I thought there were a lot things wrong with how he did Saving Private Ryan.

In college I took several acting and film classes. I even had a film I made get voted into a big film festival and it finished in the top ten.

So I am just as qualified as he is, right?

Obviously you can see how ridiculous this line of thinking is but it doesn't seem to be so to those that live on their favorite training forums.

All it takes is cute little nickname like LegPressLarry07 and you're an instant authority.

Before you get on a training forum again to watch kids argue about actin and myosin and debate neural vs. metabolic fatigue, ask yourself how many times any of the following guys have ever done the same. In fact, ask yourself how many of these guys have actually read all those studies and can quote them like the 225 pound squatting keyboard warriors out there:

  • Chuck Vogelpohl- 1000 pound squat @ 220
  • Travis Mash- Alltime greatest 220 pound powerlifter
  • Ronnie Coleman- 8 time Mr. Olympia
  • Jay Cutler- Current Mr. Olympia
  • Mariusz Pudzianowski- Worlds Strongest Man
  • Bill Kazmaier- Most Famous Strongman Competitor of all time
  • Magnus Ver Magnusson- Legendary Strong Man Competitor
  • Buddy Morris- Brilliant NFL and NCAA strength coach, currently at Pitt
  • Joe Kenn- Award winning strength coach of Arizona State University
See what I mean?

We should have a rule that would make online training forums much better. The rule should state that you are not allowed to post on training forum until you have ten years training experience.

Like Jay Z said, "when you're ten years in, holla back then."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

In Season Training For Combat Athletes

The following is a small excerpt from TAP OUT about in season training for combat athletes:

During the competitive high school or college wrestling season it is impossible for most athletes to train and recover from more than two days per week. During this time, the goal of training should be only to maintain what has been gained during the off season. Trying to gain size, speed or strength during the season is a fruitless effort and actually will do you more harm than good.

During the season I use a few different options. One is to have one day be a strength day and the other day a hypertrophy day. One speed exercise such as a jump or Olympic lift can be included as the first exercise on either day. Again, remember that we are only trying to maintain these qualities here.

Another option is to combine the two qualities on two different full body days, again with speed probably only being included on one day. Finally, the third option is for those who athletes who are forced by their coaches to do an inordinate amount of running and calisthenics in practice every day. With this option we have one lower body day and one upper body day per week. More often than not, this is the system I use with most guys because wrestling coaches love to pummel their athletes into the ground.

This would be the ideal way for MMA athletes to train when approaching a fight. Since many MMA competitors can often train for up to six hours per day, their recovery ability will be limited and therefore their time in the weight room should reflect that.

For more info click HERE.

“Jason Ferruggia will wake you up BIG TIME with Combat Conditioning Secrets. It is this kind of thinking and on target training that will take you to the next level at warp speed. The information in this manual is a must have for the serious mixed martial artist! I have known Jason for quite some time so it doesn’t surprise me to see such in-depth material from him. I say “Why make the mistakes and experience the pitfalls that others have when you can learn from someone and get on the fast track to success from Day 1?” Be ready to kick some serious ass once you start utilizing these methods!”
Zach Even - Esh
Performance Enhancement Coach

"Training with Jason throughout my high school wrestling career (in which I wrestled all the way up from 130 my freshman year to 215 my senior year) helped me set the school record for most career wins including a nearly undefeated senior year."
Mike Schwalb
All time winningest wrestler in Pingry High School (NJ) history


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Don't Miss the Teleseminar Tonight

Tonight at 9pm eastern time, I am doing a special teleseminar with Zach Even Esh of UndergroundStrengthCoach.com.

Zach will reach through the phone lines and try to choke my best combat conditioning secrets out of me.

==> http://www.UndergroundTeleseminars.com/jasonf

While I can't give up ALL of my best combat conditioning secrets that my athletes use to dominate their compeition, I will divulge quite a few of these tips and techniques,

==> http://www.UndergroundTeleseminars.com/jasonf

I gotta tell you though, on Zach's last Underground Teleseminar, 253 people signed up for the call and only 96 were able toget on the lines!!!

That means that you better hurry up if you want to get in on this special teleclass with me and Zach Even-Esh.

We are only taking the first 50 questions so if you want a chance at getting your questions answered you better get overto this link quickly.
==> http://www.UndergroundTeleseminars.com/jasonf

Even after you are signed up make sure that you call in tomorrow night at least 5 minutes early so you can guarantee your spot!

I'll be waiting to share some of my best combat conditioning secrets.
See you tonight!
--Jason Ferruggia

==> http://www.UndergroundTeleseminars.com/jasonf

'I heard about the incredible results everyone was getting training with Jay so I had to find out for myself. After five months with him I had the best wrestling season of my life and was able to throw around larger opponents that used to have their way with me. It was also the first time in four years that I stayed injury free all season. Thanks Jay.'
-Anthony C (NCAA Wrestler)

Register today==> http://www.UndergroundTeleseminars.com/jasonf

"As a performance coach I'm alwas looking for "go-to" resources when it comes to training athletes. As it is, you simply can't train every athlete or compete in every sport, which is why you need guys like Jason Ferruggia on your side.

In Tap Out, Jason covers every aspect of training combat athletes, from strength to conditioining, to diet and making weight. He has outlined all the factors that can make you successful and how to maximize your performance each and every time you enter the ring.
Weather you are a coach, athlete, or somewhere in between, Tap Out can take your performance to the next level."
Mike Robertson, MS, CSCS, USAW

"Jay, I have read all there is on strength and conditioning for combat sports and must tell you that your book, Tap Out is the most thorough compilation I have ever come across. Great work."
John DeSanti

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Proof is in the Pudding

Training volume, like frequency and intensity should always be cycled. However, that doesn't mean that high volume training is ever necessary. There are plenty of people out there who still believe they should be in the gym six days a week, doing 25-40 sets per workout. This couldn't be further from the truth.

Like I have always said, less is more. But don't get it twisted, low volume does not equal HIT, the two are not synonymous.

To serve up some more proof that low volume training is the way to go, let' s take a look at just a small sample of highly successful lifters, coaches or training programs (in no particular order) that advocate an average of about 12 sets per workout.

  1. Dorian Yates- One of the biggest and most successful bodybuilders of all time. 1-2 sets per exercise, 10-12 sets per workout.

  2. Jim Wendler- An enormous and inhumanly strong son of a bitch, who squats 1003 pounds and always uses a minimalist approach in his training. It's not unusual for Jim to do 5 sets and go home.

  3. Matt Kroczaleski- A lean 250 pound powerlifter who won the Arnold Classic with a 926 pound squat, 617 pound bench press and 733 pound deadlift. He also does an average of 9 sets per workout.

  4. Alwyn Cosgrove- Probably the smartest and most well read man in the entire fitness industry. Recommends an average of 12 sets per workout.

  5. Marc Bartley- At 275 pounds, Marc has squatted 1058, bench pressed 700 and pulled 722. He rarely does anything close to high volume.

  6. Ian King- A very influential and brilliant coach who made people question high volume training with his first series of popular articles back in the late 90's. His highest volume workouts are usually 12 sets, max.

  7. John Alvino- One of the most successful, experienced and well read trainers anywhere in the world, John rarely advocates high volume training with any of his clients and his results are usually among the best I have ever seen. He also trained with Dorian Yates and competed against Mr. Olympia, Jay Cutler doing 12-15 sets per workout.

  8. Bill Starr- One of the legends of the strength game and the man who made 5x5 the most famous set and rep scheme ever. The basis of this program was three exercises for a grand total of fifteen sets. There is a reason it is still popular today.

  9. Ed Coan- One of powerlifting's all time great legends who possesses a 1038 pound squat, 578 pound bench press and incredible 901 pound deadlift. Ed is also known for his extremely low training volume.

  10. Joe DeFranco- One of the best and most highly successful trainers in the world who has worked with countless athletes of all levels. Joe has most of his guys lift three days per week and rarely writes a workout that exceeds 12-15 sets. In fact, I don't think he ever does.

  11. Skip LaCour- The biggest, strongest and most famous drug free bodybuilder of all time. Like Yates, LaCour only does 1-2 sets per exercise of a few different exercises, and that's it. He stresses the importance of lifting heavy and keeping your training volume low as the most important thing you can do in your quest to get bigger and stronger.

  12. Robert Dos Remedios- One of the smartest and most experienced strength coaches in the game today. Dos has worked with more athletes than 99% of all coaches out there and is among the best in his field. He never does a workout consisting of more than 15 sets.

  13. John McCallum- In my opinion the best writer in the history of the iron game. John was famous for his series of articles back in the 70's known as The Keys To Progress. Most of his workouts were based around a set or two of squats and a few sets of pushing and pulling. Low volume and simplicity were the basis for his theories and plenty of people had incredible success with his programs.

  14. Randall J. Strossen/ Super Squats- The old 20 rep squat programs were wildly popular back in the day and this was the book that really brought their popularity to the masses. Thousands of people worldwide, including myself and many of my training partners at the time packed on slabs of muscle from these incredibly short workouts which consisted of 6-10 sets, total.

  15. Leo Costa/ Serious Growth- Leo is a lifetime drug free bodybuilder who brought his weight up to around 270+ pounds by keeping his workouts short and sweet. Not only that, but he has a loyal following of thousands who have experienced similar results. These workouts usually average 12 sets total.

  16. Dante Trudel/ Doggcrapp- Dante is a well known trainer from Southern California who has gained an enormous cult like following on the internet due to the success of his training programs. His clients gain an average of 47 pounds of muscle in their first year. Total number of sets per workout? 5-8.
There are plenty more examples out there but I think you get the point.

To learn more about the benefits of low volume training, visit www.thehardgainer.com.

Train smart.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Good Stuff

If you are from my home state, you will enjoy this site. If not, you still might...

Be sure to take the quiz, half way down the home page.

Friday, February 02, 2007

"Bodybuilding is for men who wax their bodies and traipse around in bikinis. I train." ---Henry Rollins

I have another great post from my friend Dave Tate today. Either you get it or you don't.

I will not be as "others"

Came into work today the same as I have any other day over the past month, to much to do and not enough time. I do however get the most important shit done and that's all that matters.

I made my way into Jim's office and he stated "Not training again today". Maybe he noticed I was wearing my "good" t-shirt and sweat pants and took this as a clue. It took me about 2 seconds to tell him "nope, just not my thing right now."

He then told me that this "was" my thing. I had to think for a minute then got what he was saying. This is the thing when you speak to someone with a zillon.5 IQ. You need to stop and think sometimes because much it meant when little is said.

What he was saying is that I do not know how to "workout" and may have never "worked out" in my life. What I do is "train" and there is a difference.

I am writing this because most who read this site "train" and do not "workout". We who "train" are not as "others" who just go to the gym and do their thing. Our rules are pretty damn simple and we always manage to get the job done better than the "others" .

We know the golden rule to success is busting our asses into the ground. We make training such a high priority that life becomes scheduled around it. We understand weak points are developed from NOT doing the shit we do not like to do - so we do it.

We love it when the set gets hard and the weight get heavy. We understand this shit is supposed to be hard and the road will not be easy and figure - so be it. We may read all the training science and logic but always resort back to the same damn thing that has always worked - busting our asses.

Pain is measured by lack of progress not injuries.

We think about training when we get up in the morning and when we go to bed at night.

We love the sound of another plate being slapped on the bar, or the thud of dumbbells hitting the ground. The gym is our place to do what we do, not wish about what we could be. We know when to turn it on and when....to turn it off.

I am in one of the "off" phases and unless I am going to go in the gym and bust my ass 100% then I am not going. To me it is freaking pointless. I would rather give 100% to something else at this time then give 50% in the gym. I refuse to give 50% in the gym because this is what "others" do and I fucking refuse to be like that, ever! I had to give up many things in my training over the years but I will not give up busting my ass and be like every other lazy ass person who goes in the gym and gives a half ass effort. Worse yet, being in the industry, making my living in the industry and living a lie training like a half piece of shit. You can quote me on this one. The day I can no longer "train" and bust my ass in the gym with passion will be the same day I will remove myself from this industry. Training to me deserves respect and not half ass efforts. I train not as much for the process as I do for the result. I will do what I have to do to get the results I am looking for. ,I will do what I gotta do when I have to do it.

This is training to me. Training is about busting your ass for something others avoid because the road is too hard. Working out is an activity - a verb. Training is more than a verb. It is a way of life. To give my training the respect it deserves I recharge and will return when I feel ready to go all out.

To me working out is not an option. This is what "others" do and I will resist this with all I have.
I train and train my ass off because this is what I do. This is the life I choose and the decision I made. I am not in this to be like "others". I am in this to push myself to places I have not been before - to push the edge. I will never get to see what is over the edge by "working out". I will never find what I seek by the number of "workouts" I get in or how long I can do cardio for. I will never be satisfied with the same results anyone else can get.

I am not the guy to show you how to "workout". I am not the one who can help you take the first step. I am not the one to motivate you to begin. I could care less about this. Hell, I have not trained people in years. I post this log so you can see what it takes for me to get the results I do (or not). I post this so you know you are not alone in your passion.

I know what it is like to be surrounded by "others". I know what it feels like when everyone is on your ass about "what you do". I know what it feels like when NO ONE understands. I know how it feels to think life is what happens in the gym and everything else is just intermission. Trust me. I know. We are not alone in our passion yet it seems so.

So for the other two people out there - know I am with you. I train because it is what keeps me from being like the rest. Training is my way to not be like the "others". I am not writing this to try and change the world but so the world does not change me - it is that simple. Okay, I just made a huge post in an attempt to make an excuse for not training. But, I have never hidden that fact that I have two speeds - blast and dust. That's it and that is the way I am. In time you will see me blasting again, just not yet.