One and Done: Five Easy Steps to a One Hour Workout


Two of the biggest mistakes I see in the gym are people training too often, and not training hard enough. Most folks mistakenly believe that they can make up for lower quality workouts, by simply upping the quantity. Unfortunately this does not work.

Most of these people hit the gym five or six days a week, repeating the same old stuff over and over, like a hamster going round and round on his little wheel. The sad thing is they make about as much forward progress as that hamster does…they are basically going no where.

On the other end of the spectrum are the folks who feel they just don’t have time to train. They want to do cardio, lift weights, stretch, and still have a life. They look at the gym hamsters, and wish that they to could somehow find the time to spend 10-12 hours a week in the gym.



First, you will not make progress by doing the same thing over and over. If you expect your body to produce a change, than you must start by inducing that change with an unaccustomed stimulus.

Next,once the stimulus has been introduced, get out of the gym and let your body do it’s thing. The workout does not produce the change. Change happens during your recovery period.

Finally, 4-6 workouts every two weeks is enough for anyone to get the job done. Not only that, each workout should not take more than an hour to complete. That’s right, one hour. You will do cardio, weights, stretching…and all in one hour.

Here’s how it works:


Step One. 0-5 minutes. Warm-up = Easy cycling @ 60% Max Heart Rate

Step Two. 5-20 minutes. Endurance exercise (Cardio) = Interval cycling alternating 3-min @ 70% Max Heart Rate and 3-min @ 80% Max Heart Rate

Step Three. 20-25 minutes. Cool-down = Easy cycling @ 60% Max Heart Rate


Step Four. 25-55 minutes. Strength Training = One set each of 8-12 exercises covering all major muscle groups. Example: Leg Press, Leg Curl, Chest Press, Row, Shoulder Press, Pull-down, Triceps, Biceps, Ab’s, Low-back

Step Five. 55-60 minutes. Cool-down and Stretching = the Big-4: Hamstring stretch, Low-back Stretch, Shoulder Stretch, Calf Stretch

WOW…That was easy. Now, get into the gym and create your own workout using the above guidelines as your template. If you like free-weights, use free-weights. If you prefer running or rowing to cycling, DO IT!.  Try alternating three days in the gym the first week, and only two days the next. Mix things up, keep it fresh.

Before you know it, you’ll be having fun, getting fit, and still have time for a life outside the gym.




In this weeks podcast episode #27 we focus our attention on how much “Cardio” should I do? Take a listen, and while you’re at it check out the four brief, intense conditioning workouts I put together that may be done in just about any commercial gym setting.


Everyone knows I love interval training; it’s what I am known for. Most people also know I am a big fan of supplemental training devices that require a total body effort such as the Versa-climber, the Air-dyne Bike and the awesome but seldom found Jacobs Ladder. But what if you don’t have access to any of these cool machines? Should you give up on getting a good cardio / conditioning workout? What I have often said about strength training equipment (it’s not the tools it’s how you use them) applies to cardio equipment as well. Use what is readily available to you.

Below are four great, indoor interval workouts that you should try. None of them takes more then 20 minutes to complete.


Recumbent Bike

1 minute @ Max speed*

1 minute @ 50% Max speed

Repeat those intervals for 20 minutes

*Strive to keep R.P.M. level @ 100 or higher during work sets. Increase resistance when all 10 cycles can be completed easily.


Treadmill Running

Warm-up for 3-4 minutes at a fast walk or light jog

• Interval 1 – run at 8.0 mi/hr for 1 minute

• Interval 2 – walk at 4.0 mi/hr for 1.5 minutes

• Interval 3 – run at 10.0 mi/hr for 1 minute

• Interval 4 – walk at 4.0 mi/hr for 1.5 minutes

Repeat above sequence four times for a 20 minutes workout.


Step-Mill (indoor stair climbing)

5 minutes of 20 seconds A.F.A.P.* / 20 seconds recover**

Repeat the above 5-minute cycle three times

Rest 90 seconds between 5 minute cycles

**A.F.A.P. = As Fast As Possible

**Recover @ 50% of max speed.


Concept 2 Rowing

30 seconds Row @ Max intensity

30 seconds Row @ 50% Max intensity

Repeat those intervals for 20 minutes

If you belong to a commercial gym then any or all of the above tools should be available to you. As the title of this article implies I recommend that you change modes frequently. At minimum you should plan on changing modes (equipment) at least every three weeks. I prefer to change modes each work out. This means you begin with the bicycle workout, and then during your next cardio / conditioning workout you use the treadmill workout, followed by the stairs and finally the rower.

The T.N.T. Triple Progressive Overload Process



T.N.T. Triple Progressive Overload

The classic “double progressive” overload technique involves adding weight and / or increasing the number of reps from the previous workout.  The T.N.T. system adds a third component, time under tension. This third component then creates the T.N.T. Triple progressive overload process. This is essential for direct accountability of accurate strength gains, perfect reps, and eliminating non-productive sets.

T.N.T. Triple Progressive Overload Technique*

1. Increase Time under Tension
2. Increase Reps
3. Increase Weight & Do Not Cheat!

The T.N.T. Triple progressive overload technique reinforces the significance of the controlled rep** and of the strength accountability necessary to accurately assess strength gains. In order for the strength training system to be maximally successful the client and trainer must understand how to implement the T.N.T. Triple progressive overload process. The following is a detailed description of the variables involved:


1) Increase Time under Tension – Time under tension refers to the amount of time the muscle(s) is being stressed (overloaded) during a set. The muscle should never relax at any time during the entire set. The recommended time under tension per rep is 6 to 10 seconds, 3-5 seconds for the concentric or positive movement and another 3-5 seconds for the eccentric or negative. Therefore, if a client sets a rep range between 8 to 12 reps, the time under tension range will be between 48 seconds (8 reps x 6 sec.) and 120 seconds (12 reps x 10 sec.).  Example: a client executes 10 perfect reps to MMF on a standing barbell press, with 100 pounds, and the total time under tension was 60 seconds. The recommendation for the next workout would be to stay with the 100 lbs and increase the reps to 11 or 12 and or increase the time under tension to 66-120 seconds. A minimum speed of 6 seconds per rep is acceptable under these guidelines.

The following is an example of a client that performs more reps but actually less work. During Monday’s workout the client uses 100 pounds in the standing barbell press and executes 10 reps in 100 seconds. The average rep speed was 10 seconds. The next workout, two days later, the client uses 100 pounds again in the standing press and performs 12 reps in 60 seconds. The average speed per rep is 5 seconds. This is below the acceptable rep speed guideline for TUT, and was 40 seconds less than the time under tension performed on Monday. The client is convinced that they got stronger due to the fact that they performed two more reps than in the previous workout. However, because the time under tension was 40 seconds less, and the resistance was the same, the client did not increase the overload intensity. The difference was that the client used greater momentum and performed less work (reduced tension) per rep during the set. As a result they actually performed less work. The bottom line is that the T.N.T. Triple progressive overload system requires specific guidelines that must be understood and practiced in order to achieve maximum strength gains and have direct accountability of strength improvement with each set. Accurate records are essential.

Based on the above example, the following is the correct approach: The client should keep the weight at 100 lbs. for the next workout and try to exceed the time of tension, 100 seconds, to failure. This would show accountable strength gains and will ensure that the client does not cheat by adding more momentum to the set.

Most clients are not even aware of their rep speeds and will average 1.5 to 2.5 seconds per rep. Performing reps at that speed will minimize muscle recruitment and limit the client’s ability to maximize strength gains through the full range of motion. I realize that it may not seem practical to use a stopwatch to time every set. However, I do highly recommend that the client and trainer use a wristwatch and or a small metronome to get a rough idea how long each set takes to complete. The client needs to experiment with time under tension because there is a dramatic learning curve that must be experienced if the program is going to be successful.


2) Increase Reps – Set a rep range and focus on reaching the high end of the rep range during the set (refer to table A below). In addition, there must be a time under tension range that corresponds with the rep range. For example, a client sets a rep range from 10 to 12 reps which would correspond with a time under tension range between 60 sec. (10 reps x 6 sec.) and 120 sec. (12 reps x 10 sec.). If the client performs 10 reps in 65 seconds the average rep would be 6.5 seconds. The next workout the client is going to try to reach 11 to 12 reps, with the average rep time of 6.5 seconds or greater (72 seconds).

I believe that all clients should be motivated to increase reps during every workout. However, the client must be aware of the “time under tension” variable as they continue to increase reps because eventually they will hit a strength plateau and time of tension will be the most important variable.

Chart A   Time Under Tension for Rep Ranges :

Rep Range Time under Tension

4 – 6 reps                 24 to 60 seconds

6 – 8 reps                  36 to 80 seconds

8 – 12 reps                48 to 120 seconds***


3) Increase Weight– Once the client has reached the top of the rep range and the top of the time under tension range it is time to increase the weight accordingly. Prior to increasing weight consider the following variables:

  1. How many weeks the client has been doing the program

  2. Physical size (body type)

  3. Previous strength records

  4. Targeted muscle group(s)

  5. Type of exercise i.e. single vs. double jointed

  6. The amount of weight being applied

The average increases should be between 5-10%. Usually 10 % for double-jointed movements and 5% for single-jointed movements is a safe guideline for the majority of clients. Make sure that the increase does not affect the client’s ability to perform perfect reps within the low end of the rep range and time under tension range.

The T.N.T. Triple progressive overload process is an excellent way to accurately assess whether there is actual evidence showing direct accountable strength gains. Again, it is worth repeating, timing sets is not easy to do but will help educate the client, and trainer on how to perform perfect reps within the time under tension parameters.


*This is my interpretation of the TUT model based on my work with the NSPA

**See my original article “How to execute the perfect REP” posted OCTOBER 24, 2018

***NOTE: It is recommended that for most training goals it is best not to exceed 90 seconds TUT in any one set.

The Importance of Keeping Accurate Records

Check out this weeks podcast Episode # 25 “Records are made to be Broken

Check out this weeks podcast Episode # 25 “Records are made to be Broken


Keeping Accurate Training Records

If your strength training and conditioning is to be as productive as possible, it’s absolutely critical to keep written records that are as accurate and detailed as possible. Records document the history of what you accomplished during each and every exercise of each and every strength session, as well as each round of conditioning, or your fastest time in the 40 yards dash.. Because of this, maintaining records is an extremely valuable tool to monitor your progress and make your strength and conditioning workouts more meaningful.

Records can also be used to identify exercises in which you’ve reached a plateau. In the unfortunate event of an injury, you can also gauge the effectiveness of the rehabilitative process if you have a record of your pre-injury levels of strength. You should record your body-weight, the date of each workout, the resistance used for each exercise, the number of repetitions performed for each exercise and the order in which the exercises were completed.

The bottom line: Don’t underestimate the importance of using a workout log (or training journal) in making your strength training and conditioning sessions more productive and more meaningful.

Keeping a record of what you do and how you do it is vital to strength training and conditioning success. If you keep track of what you've done in the past, it will be easier for you to see what works for you. You can then repeat these actions to insure your future success.


I've never understood why people want to come to the gym, or show up at the track, time after time, repeating exactly what they've done before. That is not progress.


In order to improve and make gains, your training must be progressive in some manner. You can make progress 3 primary ways:

1. Lift more weight than the previous session

2. Do more reps with the same weight

3. Perform more work within a specific unit of time

If you don't remember exactly what you did in your previous training sessions, how do you expect to exceed it? I am 100% confident if you discipline yourself to keep accurate records of your training sessions, you will see noticeable improvements within just a few short weeks.


Tips on How to Keep a Good Training Log

Minimum things you should record for strength training sessions:

1. Write down the time of day you worked out.
2. Write down the total time it took to complete your workout
3. Write down how much weight you used in your exercises
4. Record the target rep cadence, and number of perfect reps performed*.
5. Make a note of any training variables you may have utilized
6. Note rest intervals between sets, and if you adhered to them

Minimum things you should record for conditioning workouts:

1. The number of reps performed.
2. The distance to be covered or the elapsed time in each repetition.
3. The assigned work interval time.
4. The relief interval.
5. The relief / work ratio.

Other things you may choose to record:

1. Write down how the movements felt, i.e. "50lbs DB was too light."

2. Write down how you looked and what was going on in your mind.

3. Write down what you wore or what music you listened to.

4. Write down what you ate and when you ate it.

5. Write down how you looked when you woke up, went to sleep, etc.

6. Write down how much conditioning you did.

7. Write down how much you weigh (if body composition is part of your goals).

8. Write down the other aspects of your life i.e., if you had a good day, a bad day, it was raining, you had a fight with your partner etc. This will help you attribute outside factors into your performance in the gym.

A training, and dietary journal will be your best friend when assessing progress.

TAKU’s NOTE: *Only record perfect reps. Finding your own natural cadence is useful. Your goal should be to find a rhythm that works for you. Keep in mind that you do not want to exceed 3-5 seconds on both the positive, and negative portion of your reps (6-10 seconds per rep). Constant tension is requisite to maximum safety and maximum efficiency.

Sensible Training


I think a day does not go by without someone asking me a question on training or another telling me why there training regimen is the best. And, if I really want to make things worse, I just have to step out of my office and peer around the corner into the weight room and watch as people hoist and throw weights around as they follow some program that they got out of some bible of a fitness magazine. I might get lucky and see one or two guys moving things in a controlled fashion, maybe someone I worked with, but those days are rare. I better not stop and give advice to anyone, because usually the trainee‘s ego gets in the way of any constructive conversation, and what do I really know…They have been working out for years, on the same split routine, so it must work.


Funny thing is that when my computer breaks, I call the computer people. Now I have a bit of knowledge on how to fix electronic things, and have dabbled with computers, but most likely I would screw things up, so I defer to the experts. But when it comes to exercise and training it seems that everyone is an expert. And experts in this realm are formed not by their knowledge base or understanding of the human body, but instead they are experts because of the size of their arms and chest. And if they really look good, they might get hired at a health club, get certified online, call themselves a personal trainer (a more glorified expert), and make loads of money training and instructing. It‘s a cycle, and it happens everyday and has become the backbone of the health club industry..

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Does having a large chest, big arms or broad shoulders make you knowledgeable about training? Or could it just be good genetics, which is 90 percent of the game anyway. Arthur Jones once said ― ”If you wish to learn to train a racehorse, don‘t ask the racehorse how to train.” Yet go to any gym today and watch guys flock to the big guy in the corner. The thought process is that he must know what he‘s doing because he looks that way. Questions are asked, and the next thing you know guys start following what the big guy does hoping for similar results. Over and over, again and again. If I train like him, I can one day look like him.


It never ceases to amaze that some of the most educated people that I have ever met cannot understand basic bio-mechanics and physiology or have some general common sense when it comes to training and general exercise. Even professionals with degrees cannot comprehend basic ideas, processes, and theories. For some they believe that if it’s not written by the great governing bodies (ACSM and NSCA), that it cannot be right or work because they would have thought of it. Or where is the research study to back it up?. Do researchers even understand what high intensity is? So what do most trainers and educators do - prescribe more exercise, because more is always better.

People who are educated about training, physiology and such know that when it comes to training and getting stronger -- ultimately everything WORKS. But there are guidelines to follow that may help one achieve their goals and maximize results:

First, less is always more when it comes to training. Forget the marathon training sessions, the endless sets and repetitions. All they lead to is repetitive stress injuries and eventually over-training. Keep those workouts session brief and engaging. Don‘t stop and watch TV in between exercises or read a magazine. Train with a purpose. Get in the gym and get out.

Second, be critical with form or style. When in doubt move those weights slower not faster. Slower is harder, safer and more productive. Take a look around your club. Watch the sloppy form and explosive heaving that occurs. Remember strength is built over time, not demonstrated for show.

Third, keep it simple. Forget trying to concoct crazy workout schemes and plans.. Stick to the basics.. Break the body up into different planes horizontal and vertical and pick basic movements for each plane. Also focus more on compound movements, as they provide more bang for your buck. Train controlled with your repetitions and train with maximum intensity.

Finally, be progressive over time and work as hard as you possibly can on each exercise each workout. As time goes by decrease the volume of exercise some, do not add more.

Sounds simple and sensible and it is if you follow it. But what do I know, I do not look like Joe bodybuilder, or Hulk for that matter ... just an average fit guy, so I must not know anything worthwhile. Maybe I could make a better career fixing computers or something.

TAKU’s NOTE: For more awesome information about training, Check out this weeks podcast episode #24 featuring Sunir Jossan. If you’re in the Washington D.C. area stop by the Personal Edge, and find out what sensible hard training is really all about.


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Q: Is it better to concentrate on performing  high repetitions for definition and low repetitions for bulk?

A: Both of these assumptions are incorrect. Ninety-nine percent of muscular definition has to do with a person’s lean muscle and overall body fat level, which is primarily a result of genetics, and calories obtained from one’s Personal Eating Plan.

If you are attempting to lose body fat, a) strength train regularly (to keep metabolically expensive muscle), b) eat fewer calories spread out over 3 to 5 feedings each day (speeds metabolism and creates a calorie deficit) and c) be disciplined not to eat if feeling hungry between feedings (indicates your tapping fat storage sites).


High repetitions have virtually no effect on muscular definition. If you desire greater definition, you must reduce your percentage of body fat by adhering to a balanced low-calorie Personal Eating Plan. All other factors being equal, body composition can be improved if one a) gets stronger, b) stays lean. But even then your potential definition is limited by your genes.


Muscular bulk or size is best produced by intensive exercise that lasts at least 30 seconds, but no more than 70 seconds. Using our recommended repetition guideline of 3-5 seconds to lift and then 3-5 seconds to lower the weight, a typical repetition of an exercise takes between 6-10 seconds to complete. Simple multiplication reveals that 6 second reps would permit sets of 5-11 reps where as 10 second reps would permit  sets of 3-7 reps.  For optimal results I recommend that you experiment with slow controlled repetitions while performing sets using the above guidelines.

TAKU’s NOTE: This is a question that often comes up in the Gym. Check out this weeks podcast episode #23 to hear one women’s journey to new levels of strength and Fitness.

Secrets to Performance Enhancement: (Part Three)



Caffeine is a common substance in our culture. For many it is an indispensable part of their daily lives when consumed in the form of coffee, tea and related beverages. Add to this the recent surge in the popularity of “energy” drinks such as Red Bull and the seemingly hundreds of copycat beverages and you can see the prevalence of this simple yet powerful substance. Putting the pure love that so many seem to have acquired for the comforting taste and soothing aroma of fresh brewed coffee aside for a moment, let’s look at what caffeine may or may not do for us as athletes or just health-minded fitness enthusiasts.


A quick search for caffeine on the internet will produce literally millions of hits. If you refine your search you will quickly and easily find research which points to the good, the bad, and the ugly of caffeine. Remember, although caffeine can be a naturally occurring substance found in many different plants (over 60 at last count) it is classified as a drug by the F.D.A. (among others) due to the potentially profound effect it may have on the central nervous system. As with just about any drug there are three ways to play with caffeine; you may use it, misuse it, or abuse it. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons one may or may not choose to use caffeine.


The good:

For years (probably thousands of years if not longer) caffeine in its natural forms has been used as a stimulant to increase alertness and combat fatigue. Caffeine can have a profound impact on athletic performance improving both endurance events by increasing the time it takes to reach fatigue, as well as power related events through increased arousal and acute increase in momentary strength output.

From a basic health standpoint caffeine intake increases the release of catecholamine’s (adrenaline, nor-adrenaline, dopamine), and related hormones and can also increase free fatty acid (FFA) mobilization from fat cells. This means that caffeine, through its impact on Dopamine, may increase feelings of pleasure and well–being as well as help your body use fatty acids as fuel. Recently there have even been studies which suggest that long-term caffeine ingestion actually lowers the risk of developing type II diabetes and several large studies have shown that caffeine intake is associated with a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD) in men (studies in women have been inconclusive.)


The Bad:

Some “experts” claim that coffee (or caffeine) should be avoided because of the insulin response that ensues. What they are trying to imply is that caffeine use may inhibit the way insulin acts or reacts in the body and somehow interfere with the delicate hormonal balance that allows the body to burn fat etc. This is shown to happen with acute intake in some cases. Depending on personal sensitivity, caffeine misuse may also lead to interrupted sleep patterns, irritability, and other minor unpleasant side effects.


The Ugly:

Long term caffeine use in high doses may cause a number of unpleasant syndromes to occur including extreme sleep pattern disruption and even anxiety disorders. In acute overdose situations something called caffeine intoxication may occur. A higher intake of caffeine (more than about 4 cups a day) may be associated with miscarriage and should therefore be limited or avoided during pregnancy.

After extended and consistent ingestion the body may become attenuated to the effects of the caffeine. This may bring about several unpleasant side effects. The first is that higher doses will be required to attain the desired effects. There also seems to be a break over point where increased intake will fail to provide the former level of stimulation that was previously achieved when taken less frequently and in smaller amounts. The second is the potential for a withdrawal reaction to occur which may include symptoms such as headache, irritability, an inability to concentrate and stomach aches. These symptoms may appear within 12 to 24 hours after discontinuation of caffeine intake, peak at roughly 48 hours and usually last from one to five days.

So what now?

Caffeine is probably the most-used legal drug in the world. According to some studies, 90% of adults in North America consume products that contain caffeine on a daily basis. This does not include the increasing number of younger people who consume caffeine in the form of sodas, energy drinks, and sweetened coffee beverages.

Like any drug, caffeine may be used, misused, or abused. Each person must decide for themselves if caffeine (whether in the form of beverages such as coffee, tea, or energy drinks or in another supplemental form) is something they enjoy. Further, as an athlete or fitness enthusiast one may explore caffeine use to determine it’s potential benefit to their personal performance levels. Most important of all, if one decides to experiment with caffeine as an ergogenic aid or for other reasons, keep in mind the potential risks listed above and strive to discern gradually your own tolerance levels.

The moral of the story is that athletes (and regular folks) can use caffeine and/or coffee to their distinct advantage for performance and body composition improvement. In addition, regardless of the population in question, coffee can actually improve insulin sensitivity over the long-term, which is likely due to its various beneficial non-caffeine phyto-nutrients. As with most drugs or drug like substances use caffeine intelligently and in moderation and you should enjoy the potential benefits while reducing the risk of any negative side effects.


TAKU’s NOTE: Elements of this article were compiled from excerpts from the book “Knowledge and Nonsense” The Science of Nutrition and Exercise chapter 3. 

Strength Training for Athletes

Primary Goals of the T.N.T. Athletic Strength & Conditioning Program:



1.    Reduce the likelihood and severity of injury – Keeping athletes healthy and on the field of play is imperative to the success of a team. Thus, the primary goal of all strength and conditioning programs should be injury prevention. This goal includes both reducing the likelihood and severity of injury occurring during athletic performance and also eliminating injuries occurring in the weight room. A strength training program must emphasize areas that are prone to injury as a result of competing in any number of athletic endeavors. Performing potentially dangerous exercises in the weight room to prepare for potentially dangerous activities in competition is like banging your head against a wall to prepare for a concussion.

2.    Stimulate positive physiological adaptations – Physiological changes resulting from a proper strength training regimen include an improvement in strength and the ability to produce force, improved power / explosive capacity, achievement and maintenance of a functional range of motion, and an improvement in body composition.

3.    Improve confidence and mental toughness – An extremely valuable byproduct of strength training may be improved confidence and mental toughness. Intense workouts will expand an athlete’s tolerance for physical discomfort. Most athletes who pride themselves in proper strength training will compete harder because they have invested time and energy to physically prepare for competition.

Our program has been prepared to meet the following objectives:

  • Increase and maintain functional range of motion

  • Increase and maintain total body strength levels for improved performance and reduced likelihood of serious injury

  • Increase functional muscular mass – which will enhance your ability for greater power output

  • Keep your percentage of body fat at an acceptable and efficient level

  • Improve muscular endurance

  • Improve your cardiovascular / cardiopulmonary efficiency

  • Improve your quickness and speed

  • Potentially make you mentally and physically tougher

  • Prepare you to win


Muscular Strength / Power

Function Dictates Prescription:

The function of a particular muscle structure dictates what exercise will be performed to target that muscle structure. This means that we must first think about the role or purpose of a given muscle before we can decide what exercise we will use to train it.


Muscle Groups

It is important to understand the major muscle groups of the body, what they do, and how we can train them. We will break the body up it to the following groups:









The exercises performed can be grouped into the following:

Multijoint Lower body – ex. Squat, Dead-lift, Leg Press

a. push – ex. Bench Press, OH Press, Dips

b. pull – ex. Rows, Chin-ups, Recline pulls

Single joint – ex. Arm Curls & Extensions, etc

Progressive Overload

The physiological basis for any resistance training program is the overload principle. The overload principle states that a system must be stressed beyond its current capacity in order to stimulate a physiological response… that response is an increase in muscular strength and size. The goal should be to use more resistance or perform more repetitions each time you strength train. The overload principle is the single most important part of a resistance training program. Without overload, a resistance training program is of little or no value. Our goal is to safely and efficiently facilitate overload.


Intensity of exercise is the most controllable factor in any resistance training program. Despite what the majority of the population believes, magical set rep schemes, barbells and one repetition maxes have little or nothing to do with obtaining results. Training with a high level of intensity is what stimulates results. A trainee cannot control how he / she will respond to a resistance training program; that response is controlled by genetics. There is no evidence to suggest that low reps with high weight will produce muscular size and strength and high reps with low weight will produce toned muscles. This is a common assumption with no scientific backing.

Brief and Infrequent

Because high intensity exercise is so demanding on the physiological systems of the body, only small amounts can be tolerated. Only a limited amount of exercises can be performed in a workout and only a limited amount of workouts should be performed per week. An excess of volume will cause over training and will lead to little or no results. Because of these facts, our training sessions last only 15-45 minutes and are performed only one, two or three times per week*.

*Volume prescriptions are based on the individual athlete, sport and in-season / off-season demands pf athletic training.


How Many Sets?

In the past we assumed that the number of sets you performed determined whether or not you produced the best results. Through experience we’ve learned it’s not how many sets you perform. The key is how you perform each set. You can gain strength completing one set or ten sets. It’s also possible to gain no strength regardless of how many sets you perform. Do to our hectic lives, and over-loaded work schedules, most non-professional athletes barely have enough energy to recover from the stress of the daily grind, let alone have time to squeeze in a workout. Your goal as a Strength coach must be to have your athletes perform as few sets as possible while stimulating maximum gains. It must be a priority to eliminate non-productive exercise. Once you have warmed up, why perform a set that is not designed to increase or maintain your current level of strength?

Repetition Performance

The prescribed protocol will often dictate how the repetitions for a set are to be performed. However, there are some performance techniques that are common to all repetitions regardless of the protocol. Always change directions from concentric to eccentric in a smooth fashion allowing the muscles to do the work, not momentum. Never jerk or throw a weight. When a weight is jerked or thrown, momentum is incorporated to move the resistance. When momentum is used the load is taken off of the muscles and less muscle fibers are recruited thus limiting the degree of overload.

Never twist or torque body when performing a rep. The athlete should be instructed to maintain proper positioning, posture, and form. If a protocol does not dictate a specific rep speed, rep speed should be as follows. Raise weight under control taking approximately 3-5 seconds; pause in the contracted position; lower weight at the same speed as the raising of the weight. If in doubt, move slower, never faster. Never sacrifice form for more reps or more resistance. It is not the amount of weight or the number of repetitions performed that matters; it is how the repetitions are performed that matters.

Explosive Training

None of the workouts we will be using contain traditional “explosive” exercises. It is important to understand why we do not implement these exercises. A traditional explosive lift, such as the power clean, does little if anything to build strength, does nothing to develop speed or explosiveness, and is extremely dangerous. Explosive lifts incorporate momentum… when momentum is used to throw a weight, the load is taken off the skeletal muscle, thus, reducing fiber recruitment. In order to develop speed and explosiveness, an individual must train in a slow manner that allows the muscles to raise and lower the resistance… thus leading to fatigue of the targeted muscular structure and leading to the recruitment of more fast twitch muscle fibers.



Skills are specific. They do not transfer. Do not attempt to mimic a skill performed on the field in the weight room. Throwing a weighted baseball is a far different skill then throwing a conventional baseball. As soon as you add resistance to a skill it becomes a new skill. A different neuromuscular pattern is recruited. In his text, Introduction to Motor Behavior: A Neuropsychological Approach, author George Sage states, “Practice of nonspecific coordination or quickening tasks will not transfer to sport specific skills.”

Example of a Strength Training Program

All workouts include both warm-up and cool-down activities as well as neck, grip and mid-section work.


  1. Leg Press or Squat 15-20

  2. Leg Extensions or lunge 8-12

  3. Leg Curls or “triple threat” 8-12 (leg curl may be Prone, Seated or Standing)

  4. Calf Raise 8-12 Barbell, Dumbbell, Machine, (Seated or standing)

  5. Chest press 8-12 Dumbbell, machine, or straight bar.

  6. Push-up

  7. Back Row 8-12 Dumbbell, machine, or straight bar.

  8. Shoulder Press 8-12 Dumbbell, machine, or straight bar.

  9. Chin-ups / Reverse Grip Pull downs 8-12

  10. Dead Lift 12-15 Dumbbell, machine, Trap Bar, or straight bar.

  11. Dips / Triceps Extensions 8-12 Dumbbell, machine, or straight bar.

  12. Bicep Curls 6-10 Dumbbell, machine, or straight bar.

That’s it. Brief Intense, Infrequent. Remember your goal as a strength coach is to prepare your athletes as best you can while doing no harm. Keep it simple. Keep it safe.

TAKU’s NOTE: For more on safe efficient, and effective training programs for athletes check out this weeks podcast episode featuring Michael Bradley Head S&C Coach for FSU Basketball