Bodyweight High Intensity Training Part 4 (with a twist)

Lawrence Neal
A hairy post workout shot … Yes, I am flexing.

Well … that was horrible. If I do another push-up, I feel like my shoulders are going to tear off my torso …

This is Part 4 of a series of posts to journal my current training regime. Here’s Part 1-3:

Today I did Project Kratos condensed workout A with a twist:

  • TSC neck lateral flexion: 30/20/10 protocol for each side using manual hand resistance
  • Chin-up: H+4 72 TUL (really pleased with form on this hard partial range of motion)
  • Single legged squats: U+4 R 69 L 60 TUL
  • Prone trunk extension: H+4 60 TUL (NTF)
  • 100 Push-ups: 10 sets performed in a shoulder-width elbows-in military style (25, 10, 10, 10, 10, 8, 9, 8, 5, 5) – this was so hard after the fatigue from the previous exercises.

Total workout time: 30 minutes! (LONG for HIT … too long)

Notes: Single set to failure on each exercise. In this instance, no deliberate rest in between exercises but enough time to collect my focus and setup. No specific cadence. I just focused on very smooth turnarounds. My cadence probably started at ~4/2/4 and became progressively longer as the set progressed on all exercises.*

* None of the notes above applied to the push-ups, which were multiple set performed in a military style for rep count over form. Rest between sets varied between 1-3 minutes. Rest periods got longer towards the end.

Definitions:

  • ## = seconds
  • H+4 = hard range of motion / hard lever with 4s hold
  • TUL = time under load
  • U+4 = unilateral with 4s hold
  • L = left side/leg
  • R = right side/leg
  • NTF = not to failure
  • TSC = timed static contraction (e.g. 30/20/10 means 30 seconds 50% contraction, 20 seconds 75% contraction and 10 seconds 100% contraction / as hard as you dare :D)

The reason for the push-ups is that I’m currently participating in an N=many experiment to track my results along with many others. I’m using Track=Well to measure variables. Track=well was designed by Matt Maier and Dr Shawn Baker (Listen to our podcast here: Part 1 and Part 2).

My current N=1 experiment includes 2 protocols: 100 push-ups per day and cold showers (aiming for a 5 minute duration). I wanted to participate to see what all the fun was about and help contribute to a growing body of observational data. I don’t honestly think that the push-ups and cold showers will make any measurable difference to my body composition, since I’m already a trained individual and probably brushing against my genetic limits. I measured weight and waist circumference at the start and end in any case.

Furthermore, I’m due to speak with Dr Shawn Baker again in December and thought it would be fun to discuss our experiences and findings following some of the N=Many protocols.

Since it’s my 6th day doing the 100 daily push-ups, they have been getting progressively easier as my body begins to adapt to the protocol. BUT … that was until they were preceded by a full-body HIT workout, which I do not recommend …

I was pleased with my chin-up form but lost my motivation to really inroad during the single-legged-squats – I had much better TULs last week on these. During the early push-up sets, it became very clear to me that this volume wasn’t just unnecessary but potentially harmful. The feeling in my anterior deltoids (that’s a fancy name for the front of the shoulders) had progressed beyond muscular discomfort to mild pain. The type of pain that would typically prompt me to stop a HIT workout immediately. I’ve rarely experienced pain doing HIT, except when I mildly re-injured my upper back doing MedX lateral raises with poor form. I’ve never injured myself doing HIT properly and safely.

As a result of the push-up intervention, I decided to continue my condensed Project Kratos workouts once or twice per week but replace the overhead press / push-up exercises with the 100 push-up protocol to prevent overtraining and injury. Project Kratos is from Drew Baye (Listen to our podcasts here: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4, and Part 5).

The cold showers make for a fun challenge. Much like after a productive HIT workout, one gets a strong feeling of satisfaction, achievement and an improvement in mood. Matt reminded me that a cold shower helps reset the body’s reward systems hence the uplift in mood. There is something very romantic about lifting heavy things / generally working hard and topping it off with a cold shower. I feel like a fucking Spartan.

Subscribe to my emails to get a FREE HIT workout progress sheet and eBook with 6 podcast transcripts with guests like Dr. Doug McGuff, Drew Baye, and Skyler Tanner – Click here

Have you listened to my podcast? It’s the #1 High Intensity Training and HIT Business Podcast on iTunes with 30 five star reviews and was featured in The Huffington Post – See a full episode list here

  • Jamie Hayes

    Hi Lawrence,

    I wonder if you could clarify something for me. You wrote “Notes: Single set to failure on each exercise.” but used the prescription TUL (Time Under Load).

    My confusion is that “single set to failure” as a prescription and “TUL” seem (to me) to be contradictory. If you pre-determine your TUL, then not all sets will be to failure.

    As I like to keep things simple, I use the term TUF (Time Until Fatigue/Failure). Of course the TUF will vary with the load: lighter load = longer TUF and heavier load = shorter TUF. But the time gets measured after a set.

    Of course there’s positive failure (inability to lift) and negative failure (inability to control weight on lowering).

    It would be good to see some video of you doing each exercise. A picture is worth a 1,000 words.

    Great post.

    • Hi Jamie – yes, planning on uploading videos in the near future.

      SSTF and TUL are not contradictory. I’m not shooting for a target TUL. This is my TUL having gone to moment muscular failure (MMF). TUF is also a cool idea, but there are occasions where I don’t / can’t go to MMF, and so TUF wouldn’t be an accurate description. Instead I’ll record my TUL and add not-to-failure (NTF). Almost everyone in HIT will use TUL to represents the time under load achieved at failure.

      • Jamie Hayes

        Thanks for the explanation Ineal87.

  • Kamen Stranchevski

    Hey Lawrence, these episodes are very cool indeed! I also would like to see videos. Honestly, I do not get the push up thing… Why would that be necessary?! Another something, that will really be worth experimenting with imo is to apply Lower TULs/TUFs…much lower… 30-40 sec… for a period of time. Simply an opinion but I believe this will make a difference for you…all else being the same! Somehow, I believe, that your physique will benefit from such a change the most…
    But in any case… Keep the reports coming 🙂

    • Everyone is asking for video! I must do that! Hahahaha your comment made me laugh. I know right – I’m crazy! As per the blog post, I thought it would be interesting, since I’ve never done this type of challenge before and thought it would be cool to see how many I can do in this format in a single set on the final day. Trust me, once this is over, I’ll be going back to my once or twice a week BW HIT routine 😀 You make a really interesting point re lower TULs. Isn’t there an issue with fiber recruitment with such a low TUL? I’d be worried that all my fast twitch (what little I have LOL) would not get as fatigued as a longer TUL on most exercises? It’s definitely worth playing around with though.

      Thanks for feedback on these posts. I get so much motivation to write them after my workouts. I don’t actually plan on writing them. I just get a feeling and go for it. It’s formed part of my content machine: 1 written post and 2 podcast posts per week. And will look to add workout videos to the mix!

      • Kamen Stranchevski

        😀 I am glad I made you laugh! Seriously though, I see no point in trying to test your endurance at something anymore. You well know, that when you have a solid foundation, all is possible, when you decide to train for it and achieve it. And no, with the 30-40 your Fast twich will be more than fine… I’d be worried about your metabolic conditioning instead ;D (LOL)… whatever that is… But you can speed up between exercises in this case easily, so…
        In the end, we want Results…not any particular Protocol. Right?! Despite all the new data, I still believe that higher resistance is what triggers most improvements, expecially in naturals…as this seems to me the “more natural” way to make your body to exert intensive effort, rather than deliberately fatigue yourself first and then try to “push as hard as possible”… I hope that this makes sense to you too, but in any case wouldn’t hurt trying for a period…for sure.

        • Kamen Stranchevski

          …and you can surely keep your cadence… Which will mean 3-5 reps in the 30-40 time-frame depending on the exercise… So alll the right stuff, just with higher resistance and for shirter set…I can’t forget an article from one of Mike Mentzer’s associates, written back in the day…think it was Dave Sears…who at the end of the article said, that it one will always have a better chance of recovering after a 30 second set, rather than longer exercise/workout duration… or something along those lines…but this has stuck into my mind…

          • Thanks Kamen. I see so easier to recover from a 30 sec set but is it enough stimulus? You seem to think it could be. Perhaps I’ll test 😉. I hear you re the push-ups …. meh I’ll see it through anyway 😉😋 as much as this, strangely, seems to upset the HIT Jedi 🤣

          • Kamen Stranchevski

            Look at it this way…30-40 sec is ways away from typical 1 rep max…And a series of maxes, say 20!…to accumulate some volume also works… I may have mentioned this before, but when I started working out…way back…I didn’t have acsess to Gyms…they were rare at the time in BG and were expensive too. So being a teenager, the gymnastics tools in the school yard were my option then. So I read that Arnold would do 5×10 pull ups in his routine for example and I wanted to copy his advise. Problem was, that I could only do 2-3 reps in that time. So my approach was to pick a number – say 40 and spend 2 hours doing 1-3 reps with rest untill I got it. Did this work? Sure thing! The rate of progress I had then in strenght, But also in hypertrophy, for several months…was never that high form then on. And the fact, that I was a beginner, or prompted to react fast to anything, does not disqualify the validity of the approach – a lot of very short sets will do it! It is not HIT because Investment/Time ratio is poor, but now we know better. Form was whatever it was then, but we also know better now in this regard too. So don’t take it by fate, give it a try for a month :)) By the way 100 push ups were another approach for me at the time too…corresponding to my level of knowledge then… ;P

          • Kamen Stranchevski

            …and on top of that, as far as I know from your comments in the interviews and your posts, you’ve already explored the “High-Medium” range TULs in your HIT creer 🙂

          • To an extent. I’ve not experimented with TULs beyond 2min with machines / free-weights and too much suffering for BW over 2min 😊😉

          • Kamen Stranchevski

            Too much suffering will always remain too much suffering… and mostly mentally and frying your nervous system will never be my choice. Better facilitate muscle recovery than mental recovery. I vote for more “mechanical”, muscle failure ;D

          • Kamen Stranchevski

            http://baye.com/ss-vs-traditional-reps/
            Have you read this? It’s Drew baye about TULs….quite interesting….

          • Nice! Just re-read. Great review from Drew. The clear conflation in this study gets overlooked by many with a multi-set confirmation bias. I don’t care if HIT/SS SSTF is the most effective RT or not, but there is no data that I’ve seen that proves otherwise.

          • Also interesting re Drew’s observations on lower TULs!

          • Kamen Stranchevski

            Really recommend you to read also “How brief is brief enough?” and “Stress management” articles by Dave Sears….they’re easy ti find in the Internet and they made me think so much…

          • Thanks Kamen – I’ll add them to my reading list 😀

          • Kamen Stranchevski

            For Me in “Stress management”, a key phrase… “you may also need to consider your” exposure ” to the stimulus, e.g. reps and /or TULS for a set….” 😉 And altogether the whole picure revealed in great fashion, wth an example…

          • Kamen Stranchevski

            …at least by time efficiency it is the Best!

          • Kamen Stranchevski

            …and yet another consideration with regards to the stimulus… In my opinion, the “stimulating” effect of the stimulus is related to it’s frequency of application. Remember the astronauts loosing muscle when on a mission and then regaining it by simple exercise like walking, when they’re back to Earth … So the principle of relativity applies to exercise like to everything else in life. Or in other words it is quite a different stimulus/effect situation if you do 100 push ups everyday…or once every two weeks. That is what I am thinking and practicing in my own training by the way.