Bodyweight High Intensity Training – Project: Kratos Workout Part 2

Lawrence Neal
Current physique #ectomorphsrule and cheeky insight into my stylish Xmas underwear collection

Dang. That was tough. I just finished my second Project Kratos workout following my return from a week of debauchery. For more context on this experiment and my full regimen, check out Part 1.

I attempted to complete a full Kratos workout (modified slightly since Part 1):

  • TSC neck extension
  • TSC neck flexion
  • Push-up
  • Chin-up
  • Single legged squats
  • Pike-push up
  • TSC simple row
  • Prone trunk extension
  • Crunch
  • Heel raise

I could not complete all of the exercises. Now I remember why I abbreviated to the condensed Kratos split 6+ months ago when I was living in London, UK. It would seem that due to my training level and thus ability to inroad my starting strength significantly and/or my fibre type (according to 23andMe, I seem to be more glycolytic and therefore fatigue quicker – see my podcast with Ryan Hall on this here: Part 1 and Part 2). I just can’t cope with too much volume in a single workout.

Here’s my performance:

  • TSC neck extension: changed from 30/30/30 to 30/20/10
  • TSC neck flexion: same as above
  • Push-up: H+4 74 TUL (not entirely happy with my form, feel like I should have reverted to an easier lever or timing to re-learn the skill following my short lay-off) —> moved this exercise ahead of chin-ups to focus more on chest and tricep development (if it even makes a difference!)
  • Chin-up: H+4 75 TUL (really pleased with my form, but struggle to contract my lats consciously as hard as possible at the top during the 4s hold)
  • Single-legged-squats: U+4 R 70 L 60 (use door handle to help with balance and will alternate starting leg for next A routine)
  • Pike push-up: M 62 (moved this exercise ahead of TSC simple row to allow for more recovery from chin-ups)
  • TSC simple row: changed from 30/30/30 to 30/20/10
  • Prone trunk extension: H+4 45 NTF (never mind the TUL or difficulty – I was whacked from systemic fatigue)
  • Crunch: Nah
  • Heel raise: Nada

Total workout time: 19 minutes

Notes: Single set to failure on each exercise. No deliberate rest in between exercises but enough time to safely execute the next exercise. No specific cadence. I just focused on very smooth turnarounds. My cadence probably started at 3/2/3 and became progressively longer as the set progressed on all exercises.

Definitions:

  • ## = seconds
  • M = full range of motion / medium lever
  • 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)

It feels like the first 2-3 exercises wiped me out, which is why I’m going to move to the condensed version of Kratos for my next A Routine. I will continue with the full version of Zelus until I experience the same problem.

The condensed Kratos A workout looks like this:

  • Chin-Up
  • Push-Up
  • Squat
  • Prone Trunk Extension
  • Heel Raise

But I will likely modify and include TSC neck extension and flexion because these exercise don’t cause much systemic fatigue, so:

  • TSC neck extension
  • TSC neck flexion
  • Chin-Up
  • Push-Up
  • Squat
  • Prone Trunk Extension
  • Heel Raise

As per Part 1, I’m currently working out every ~3 days (I use an ~ because I really don’t care if I go 4 or 5 days without a workout some weeks). Please note, though I wrote 80% of this straight after my workout, I finished and published the post the evening of.

As is my normal routine these days, I have intermittently fasted from 9pm yesterday evening to 2pm today. I did this bodyweight workout about an hour ago, so I will eat shortly (Ribeye and 4-egg omelette fried in coconut oil – YUM!). But as you can see, I really detach my eating schedule from exercise. This is because I’m not yet convinced that eating more frequently has any measurable impact on muscle hypertrophy or strength. And I enjoy the fasted feeling before, during and after training for a short time. I feel like my body is building muscle and the governor is liberating fat stores. Of course, this might not be entirely true and these processes are far more complicated.

Post your questions/advice in the comments below. I would love to learn about your workouts and I am happy to elaborate on the above in as much detail as you like.

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  • Javi Alex

    Hello Lawrence, is interesting to see that you reduces the TSC from 30/30/30 to 30/20/10. How do you feel? What differences do you observe to do that? I suposse that you are following the TSC guidelines of Doug Mcguff.

    • Hey Javi, well observed! My friend Scott M told me that McGuff has recommended 30/20/10. So thought I would give it a try. I think the effectiveness of the protocol depends on the exercise. For neck for example, I think 30/30/30 may be fine and not sure if 30/20/10 for neck is long enough for me. However, when doing TSC simple row, I found 30/20/10 to be a better fit, although that may be because I’m new to TSC simple row so 30/30/30 felt really challenging. I could not contract hard at all in the last 30s. Drew has recommended to me on our most recent 1-on-1 podcast (http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com/podcast/drew-baye-high-intensity-bodyweight-training/) that in order to measure the effectiveness of TSC one should occasionally test strength with a full range of motion exercise, such as a 4-way neck machine for the neck or a seated row / inverted row in place of the TSC simple row. Anyway, it’s early days so I’m just experimenting and trying to find what works best for me.

  • Scott M

    Awesome post Lawrence – love the blogs and keep them coming!!

    What part of 23andme did you look at to determine you’re more glycolytic? Thanks!

    • Thank you Scott. I will, I love writing them. I sent my muscle fiber results to Ryan Hall and he told me so lol. I’ll paste my results in the comments when I can.

      • enlite

        Looking good lawrence ! bodyweight training is very underestimated .

        • Cheers Enlite. It would seem like it has equal benefit to machine / free-weight based training. And it’s very mobile!

          • enlite

            I’ve been using push ups , pull ups , dumbbell rows , dumbbell pullovers and lateral raises to train in my basement for the past 8 years or so . I couldn’t agree with you more that body weight movements as a modality are just as effective as any other although some may disagree .

    • Here were my results and Ryan’s response:

      Lawrence Neal —-> CT ——-> One working copy of alpha-actinin-3 in fast-twitch muscle fiber. Many world-class sprinters and some endurance athletes have this genotype.

      Ryan:

      The short version:

      You are better suited towards HIT.

      The long version:

      Too much to say. LOL.

      lol. 😀

  • Julien

    Hey Lawrence,

    Short question.
    Do you think if you increased the duration of rest periods between exercises you may be able to better cope with all of the Kratos exercises?

    Thanks.

    • Hey Julien – possibly, but I don’t want the workout to go on for too long. I just want it over and done with 😂 I have probably ~1min breaks between some exercises to setup, record previous result, drink some water, etc. I just make sure I record overall time to track overall performance.

  • Kamen Stranchevski
  • Đorđe Vicanović

    I’ve done some Kratos workout, and had huuge gains in muscle and strentgh. Buuut… After few months of training, I would need up to a week of recovery, because I would be destroyed. Part of the problem is that I work as physio(massage) therapist, and am pretty active. Also massages drain my energy quiet a bit, and such workout is just too much.

    So, I needed to adapt. I use Convict Conditioning tamplate pushups/abs, pullups/squats. Do one set to failure and then some Tabata protocols, just to get heart some pump and to sweat a bit. I do get some soreness next day, but it doesn’t affect my everyday activities. Workouts are done every other day, because I like to move more frequently, and all is done in less than 10 minutes. I must say, that this type of workout suits me really well, and I am much more focused, and it’s little easier, because I know that I have only two sets, so can do them with much more concentration.

    • Thanks Dorde. So you workout ever other day like: HIT, day-off, Tabata, day-off, HIT?Interesting to learn about your specific use-case. I have found that for me, too much volume in a single session destroys me and I have to use less volume. I think that is largely a by-product of me becoming much stronger and able to fatigue my muscle far more per exercise. But, I am yet to test a daily HIT workout to failure, but based on my experience so far, I’ll probably stick with 2-3 times per week for now.

      • Đorđe Vicanović

        So my workout would look like this. Pushups, set to failure; leg raises, set to failure; tabata Kettlebell swing one round, next would be mountain climbers, and alternating that for 8 rounds total. Tabata is pretty much changing every workout, depending how I feel. I am really active guy, so I have to manage myself, to conserve energy. In ideal world, with ideal nutrition and lots of sleep, I am sure I could do on regular basis whole kratos workout, but, we don’t live there 🙂 Keep up the good work!

        • Cool, so just to clarify you’ll repeat that workout, so in effect you’ll end up doing 8 sets of pushups to failure after all rounds are done?