Bodyweight High Intensity Training – Project: Kratos Workout Part 3

Lawrence Neal
Here’s my physique after doing various bodyweight HIT workouts over the course of a year. Not quite Kratos. Working on it 😀

Hahahahah I just had to re-write this entire post because I read 2:02 minutes as 202 seconds and thought I’d doubled by push-up TUL (doubled my reps/performance) … WOW … I know right.

This is Part 3 of a series of posts documenting my bodyweight high intensity training journey using Project Kratos from Drew Baye. See Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Due to some emergency family matters and brief illness, today (25th October 2017) was my first workout since 16th October 2017. The workout on the 16th was preceded by all kinds of stress. In retrospect, I may have needed more time to recover as after the workout I experienced sinus issues for 5-6 days that were quite uncomfortable. I’m a sensitive soul … [update as of 31st October, I have mould in my apartment, which is messing with my sinuses!]

Since it’s been 9 days, I decided to revert back to a medium level of difficulty on chin-ups and push-ups on my A Routine. I felt like the harder varieties (harder/partial range of motion and longer holds in harder positions) of these exercises may require more frequency to improve the specific skill, and I would sooner conduct a productive workout with excellent form than a less productive ego-driven one.

Much to my surprise, my push-up form was excellent (slow turn-arounds, abdominals tight at all times, breathing naturally) and my TUL (time-under-load) was 93 seconds. That is ~10-15 seconds longer than my performances at this difficulty level over the last 8 weeks.

There are 3 factors that I think can account for this:

  1. Previously, I had been training push-ups using hard partials. This may have increased my strength and enabled me to push past a sticking point in full range push-ups.
  2. I’ve had 9 days to recover from my last workout. Aside from when I started the Zelus workout, I haven’t had 9 days recovery for a long time and, as a possible side affect, not seen dramatic improvements in performance.
  3. I’m listening to the Batman Begins soundtrack on repeat whilst I train, which is given me enormous motivation …
  4. It’s simply an anomaly and/or the results of many “stars-aligning”, and not something I should get overly excited about.

What is also interesting is I managed to pull off a 79 second TUL on full-range chin-ups. I have never broken 75 seconds for full-range chins. It’s only 4 seconds more than my previous best so one could argue it’s likely to be a statistical error in my counting. But following a near push-up personal best, which resulted in a ton of systemic fatigue, it’s hard to ignore this result as well.

This could be due to the same potential reasons that resulted in my improved push-up performance:

  1. Previously training chin-ups using hard partials.
  2. 9 days recovery
  3. And mustn’t forget, awesome Batman Begins soundtrack

This is really interesting in light of my recent interview with Dr Ted Naiman, since he seems to believe that, for him, greater frequency seems to result in greater gains in muscle and performance. Based on my own N=1, I may sit on the other end of the spectrum. Since I think more recovery may have been the primary cause. I think it’s too difficult for me to conclude this after just these results, and I shall continue to experiment to tease out what works for me. I encourage you to do the same and, much like Dr Doug McGuff explains in his latest YouTube video, play around with frequency, volume and intensity to optimise your training.

As per Part 2, the Kratos full workout was too much volume for me, so I have progressed to a condensed version.

Today’s modified condensed Project Kratos A workout performance:

  • TSC neck extension: 30/20/10 protocol using rolled up Yoga mat
  • TSC neck flexion: 30/20/10 protocol using rolled up Yoga mat
  • Push-up: M 133 TUL
  • Chin-up: M 79 TUL
  • Single legged squats: U+4 L 83 R 62 TUL
  • Prone trunk extension: H+4 39 TUL (NTF – I tanked after the squats …)

Total workout time: 17 minutes

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.

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)

Diet and training schedule typically looks like this:

  • Intermittent fasting till 1 or 2pm (black coffee/water only)
  • HIT at 11 or 12pm (recently – once or twice per week)
  • First meal at 1 or 2pm: Ribeye steak and 4-egg omelette or 2 x Ribeye steak
  • Second meal at 7-8pm: Ribeye steak or 2 with sweet potato and/or vegetables cooked in butter
  • Occasionally, 3-4 squares of 85% Green and Blacks dark chocolate after second meal

Note: currently no supplements

Just to be clear, assuming you subscribe to the above being “healthy”, I don’t always eat this well. I eat 1 or 2 “cheat” meals on weekends: pizza, cakes, etc, and if mid-week my girlfriend is baking cakes for charity, then I would be re-missed if I didn’t test the quality before she goes to market :D. 80-90% of the time I eat healthy and then 10-20% of the time I don’t really give a shit. This is just to show you that I am not a complete monk. However, as I get older, I do notice that the gaps between eating/drinking junk, and in particular drinking alcohol or binging in general, become longer and longer. Every time I indulge, I’m reminded of just how crap it feels/how much of an asshole I can be, when I binge. It’s quite possible, that I may even practically give up booze indefinitely at some stage. Dr Ted Naiman inspired me to think about this more in our latest podcast here.

However, I do like a nice ale during a footy match :D.

Please leave any questions or thoughts in the comments below!

Now off to cook steak!

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  • Steven Brown

    Hi Lawrence, I really enjoy these posts. I’m doing a kratos inspired workout and I’m also inspired by ted naiman’s views on frequency. I’m working out every day, one set to failure, 2 exercises per day, 2 day split (push one day, Pull and legs the next). I do it in the morning (before my second coffee to be exact!) but really struggle to IF in the morning now which I used to. What are your thoughts on a long IF to say lunchtime after an early morning workout as I’ve described?
    Btw, really loving the podcast, I’ve found myself eagerly checking my phone for the Monday/Thursday drops!

    • Thank you Steven. Sounds like a cool approach. Much like Ted, I currently divorce my eating schedule from my training schedule. I’m not sure if this has any downside on gains but it just feels good for me. I enjoy the feeling of being fasted in the morning and I tend to work well in that state. I then like to fast for 1 or 2 hours post workout to trigger the transient energy crisis that Ted and I discussed in part 2: http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com/podcast/ted-naiman-part-2/

      What are you eating? Because I wonder if your diet is making you feel hungry in the morning. I find that a high protein diet (prioritising animal proteins) 1.6g + per KG of bodyweight helps to make me feel satiated and not require food till the afternoon, even in the face of a workout.

      You’re in tune with the podcast schedule! 👊😊 Steve Maxwell Part 3 drops this Thursday. Might be a little later in the day than normal. It’s a long episode!

      • Steven Brown

        Thanks Lawrence, looking forward to the p3 with Steve Maxwell, I’ve a long car journey about 2 so would be great if you could drop it by then ;-).

        My eating is all over the place to be honest! I aspire to be low carb but trying to cure my sweet tooth! I’ve got young kids which means temptation is never far away ha! Great advice on the protein satiation though, that makes total sense to me. 🙂

        • Hey Steven – it’s a long episode, so taking my team longer to publish. So apologies but will be out later today/tonight.

          I get you. Diet is difficult when your environment is compromised. If there are cookies and chocolate in my apartment, they won’t be there long … I honestly think environment is the key thing. Because you probably know what to eat. Tried doing something like the Slow Carb Diet that gives you a cheat day? Sometimes this is a good way to get people started on a new way of eating and then you can always progress to something different after that fits you. http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com/health-fitness/how-to-lose-14-pounds-in-less-than-30-days-the-complete-slow-carb-diet-guide/

  • Richard Chartrand

    Interesting. Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks Richard. You too 😀

  • George Gamow

    Hi Lawrence,
    i really like your work on this blog and your podcast – keeps my motivation for HIT high…although i try sometimes else at the moment. 😉
    I’ve never heard of project kratos before, so thanks for that.
    How can you maintain muscle mass when eating only so few calories over the course of the day?

    • Hi George, thank you. I appreciate you taking the time you write your feedback. What exercise are you trying out?

      In answer to your question, I think my maintenance calorie requirements are ~1,700 and, on average, I’m probably consuming ~1,700 cals per day in my two large meals after I intermittent fast. I just sat down and worked out the average cals for all of my food listed in the post above. To be honest, that’s what’s probably enabled me to get so lean is this number of cals and the training. However, I’m right on the edge of what looks like my cal requirements and recently I’ve lost some weight (few lbs) but this may also be due to some mild illness, which took me out of action for a bit.

      If I ever want to gain more muscle, I may need to increase my calories. Assuming I even have the genetic capability to add any more. This is definitely something I’m going to play around with in the future insofar as adding 3-600 cals per day for 30 days and perhaps measuring BF/LM before and after.

      • George Gamow

        You are welcome.
        Currently i’m trying a 5×5 routine (cadence about 2-2 to 3-3; 90-120s rest between sets; failure in sets 4-5) to change the stimulus and earn some new experiences:

        Before i did a Doug McGuff Big 3, as you can see in my channel.
        The Project Kratos looks very cool. Maybe i should add some bodyweight HIT, too!? 😉

        Ok, very interesting. 1700 is very low, isn’t it? And do you eat any carbs or at least vegetables to your meals? Do you feel hungry throughout the day?

        • Cool George. It’s good to see you’re experimenting. I think it’s so easy for people, me included, to get too dogmatic about one approach and stall ones learning. So long as your experimenting with stuff that is relatively safe. I don’t fancy experimenting with CrossFit for example lol.

          I love bodyweight HIT. You can do it practically anywhere, and make it as intense as weight/machine based training.

          Note that the ~1,700 is an estimation. I don’t weigh my food ;-). I add vegetables and/or rice/potato(s) to my evening meal, but this only adds an additional 3-400 cals. This may be why I haven’t increased my lean mass for some time. But as per my previous note, perhaps I’ve reached my ceiling and now it’s a war of grams to quote Ted Naiman in our Part 2 podcast lol.

          • George Gamow

            Thanks, Lawrence. I think it’s important to keep an open mind to various exercise forms – CrossFit not included *gg*. I’m a big fan of HIT and Heavy Duty and I’m pretty much convinced of the principles. Nevertheless, it’s not the only way of training that works – obviously. So, i love to experiment from time to time. But i’ll come back to HIT or HD eventually. What’s your opinion on Mentzer’s Heavy Duty? 🙂

            Ok, that does make more sense to me. Is there a specific time limit (weeks, months, etc.) for how long the project kratos goes, especially the diet part? Do you plan on getting back to weight training (free weights or maschines)?

  • Hi George, thank you. I appreciate you taking the time you write your feedback. What exercise are you trying out?

    In answer to your question, I think my maintenance calorie requirements are ~1,700 and, on average, I’m probably consuming ~1,700 cals per day in my two large meals after I intermittent fast. I just sat down and worked out the average cals for all of my food listed in the post above. To be honest, that’s what’s probably enabled me to get so lean is this number of cals and the training. However, I’m right on the edge of what looks like my cal requirements and recently I’ve lost some weight (few lbs) but this may also be due to some mild illness, which took me out of action for a bit.

    If I ever want to gain more muscle, I may need to increase my calories. Assuming I even have the genetic capability to add any more. This is definitely something I’m going to play around with in the future insofar as adding 3-600 cals per day for 30 days and perhaps measuring BF/LM before and after.

  • Rob H

    Hi Lawrence, very interesting update. I was listening to the latest Rhona Patrick podcast this morning and thought of you: check it out at the 1hour 27 minute point (or the whole thing if you have time!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iywhaz5z0qs. Dr Panda is the guy at the forefront of ‘Time Restricted Eating’ (TRE) and he states that in multiple mouse trials, when they fast for 15-16 hours per day, their lean mass actually goes up. He doesn’t seem to have clear evidence why, but his theory is that it is important to drain glycogen in the muscles, ideally to then work-out fasted and then fill it from fresh, including an element of gluco-neogenesis from protein. So you are are probably doing exactly the right thing there.. Might also explain to a large degree the amazing results Martin Berkhan has got from his clients..

    • Interesting! Nice one Rob thanks for sharing. I’ll add it to my watch list.