Human flight in the form of judo. (Photo: Fabiogis50)
Pavel Tsatsouline was punching me in the ass.
It’s not every day that you have a former Soviet Special Forces instructor punch you in the butt cheeks. But it was the second day of Russian Kettlebell Certification (RKC), and we were practicing constant tension, one of several techniques intended to increase strength output. In this case, we spot-checked each other with punches. Pavel, now a U.S. citizen and subject matter expert to the U.S. Secret Service Counter Assault Team, wandered the ranks, contributing jabs where needed.
Two hours earlier, Pavel had asked the attendees for someone stuck at a 1-rep maximum (1RM) in the one-arm overhead press. He then proceeded to take the volunteer from 53 lbs. to 72 lbs. in less than five minutes: a 26% strength increase. Translated into more familiar terms, this would represent a jump in one-repetition max from 106 pounds to 144 pounds in the barbell military press.
There were dozens of such demonstrations throughout the weekend, and each was intended to reinforce a point: strength is a skill.
Not only is strength a skill, but it can be learned quickly.
The following article, authored by Pavel, describes how he helped his father become an American record holder in powerlifting with just one hour of training per week…
“Doing the unrealistic is easier than doing the realistic,” Tim wrote in The 4-Hour Workweek:
“It’s lonely at the top. Ninety-nine percent of people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for ‘realistic’ goals, paradoxically making them the most time- and energy-consuming… The fishing is best where the fewest go, and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits. There is just less competition for bigger goals.”
Running is the most democratic of all sports. Because it seems so unthreatening—“anyone can do it”—every local race is packed, and your chances of placing are slim to none.
In contrast, sports like powerlifting, grip sport, or arm wrestling have a remarkably small number of competitors. Showing up already means that you have defeated 99% of the contenders. They were too intimidated to even try.
A couple of years ago, I brought my 70-year old father to a power meet to keep me company. But he was not content to watch; I caught him in the warm-up area deadlifting 225 pounds with bad form. So, you want to compete, Dad? Affirmative.
My father, Vladimir, is a lifetime athlete—swimmer, boxer, judoka, skier, fencer, you name it. But he had not been bitten by the iron bug until then. He started training. A year later, he stood up with 374 pounds—without a belt!—at a body weight of 181 pounds and broke the American record (USPF single lift DL, 70-74 years old). Even if he took to running with the same zeal, he would still be finishing in the second wave of a local 5K race.
Vladimir Tsatsulin deadlifting on Muscle Beach Venice in one of his first meets. (Photo courtesy of www.venicepaparazzi.com)
Tim was right: “Unreasonable and unrealistic goals are easier to achieve for yet another reason. Having an unusually large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and tribulations that go along with any goal. Realistic goals, goals restricted to the average ambition level, are uninspiring and will only fuel you through the first or second problem, at which point you will throw in the towel.”
My father’s training is very 4HWW. It is driven by Pareto’s Law and Parkinson’s Law. The former states that the lion’s share of the output is produced by a small fraction of the input. My old man wants to excel in the deadlift, so he deadlifts. He does no assistance exercises.
The other law, Parkinson’s, decrees that, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Deadlines imposed by regular powerlifting competitions keep my father focused on what strength coach Dan John calls “keeping the goal the goal.” This is why Vladimir competes, typically twice a year.
Would you like to follow my old man and become a successful lifter?
You have a choice of competing in all three powerlifting events (squat, bench press, and deadlift) or becoming a BP or DL specialist.
If doing all three appeals to you, review the article I wrote for Tim’s blog, 80/20 Powerlifting and How to Add 110+ Pounds to Your Lifts.
If you want to take the bench press route, you cannot do better than former Coach Powerlifting Team USA Marty Gallagher’s plan on pages 425-430 of The 4-Hour Body.
If you choose to be a deadlift specialist, follow my father’s tested plan.
Vladimir’s Deadlift Regimen
Vladimir competes only in the deadlift for three reasons. First, he has an old shoulder injury that prevents him from serious squatting and benching. Second, competing in only one event allows the athlete to have an ultra-narrow, highly focused goal. Third, the other two lifts demand that one adds a lot of muscle in order to be competitive. The deadlift is an exception, a pure “mind lift” that allows one to get very strong without adding much weight. Consider this video of one of our RKC kettlebell instructors, Melissa Klundby, pulling a record 314.5 pounds at a bodyweight of 128:
(Video courtesy of Melissa Klundby, RKC)
Dad deadlifts twice a week, once heavy and once light.
The light Monday workout never changes: 225 x 5/5. It serves several functions. First, technique pactice. Second, maintaining muscle mass close to a meet, when training volume on the heavy day has been reduced. To give you an idea how well this has been working, Prof. Stuart McGill commented that he had never seen such a muscular back on a seventy year old. And McGill, the world’s leading spine biomechanist and consultant to Olympic teams of several countries, has seen a great many impressive backs. Third, because the load remains the same, the perceived rate of exertion allows Vladimir to monitor his strength gains by paying attention to the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE).
Traditionally RPE is logged on a 1 to 10 scale, but I like my father’s method better: percentage of an all-out effort. Throughout the training cycle — before the meet in which he pulled his personal record 380 — his RPE readings for the light day read:
60%, 50%, 49%, 48%, 47%, 46%, 44%, 43%, 42%
You might say, “You have got to be kidding! 42%?! No one can define their perceived effort with such accuracy.”
True. In my father’s system, such increments simply mean that the weight felt a hair lighter than the last time. And I was very pleased to see the pattern as the light workout stayed the same for the duration of the cycle, and apples could be compared to apples. He was obviously getting stronger.
My father’s heavy day is Friday. Saturday would be better, as powerlifting meets are almost always held on this day, but Friday works too.
Following is the plan I had designed for his last competition (warm-ups are performed first):
Vladimir Tsatsulin’s 380-pound deadlift. The 73-year old athlete has been powerlifting for only a couple of years. (Video courtesy Steve Belanger, RKC)
Let us take the plan apart piece by piece.
First, the ‘warm-up’. It is a skill rehearsal more than anything. Note the low reps; one of the mistakes inexperienced lifters make is wasting their energy in their warm-ups—very un-4HWW.
Second, reps. Fives rule. Proven by decades of powerlifting experience, it is the most productive rep count for building lasting strength. Higher reps do not work as well and lower reps tend to burn the athlete out quickly. Which is why we switch to triples and doubles only for a couple of weeks before the meet to bring the strength to a short term peak.
Third, sets. The given numbers are not writ in stone but the pattern of reducing the total number of reps—in our example from 25 (5/5) in the first workout to 4 (2/2) in the last—as the cycle progresses towards the big day is almost universal. The volume is reduced because the weights have gotten a lot heavier and because the athlete needs extra recovery before competing.
Fourth, progression. Everything in nature is cyclical. It is impossible to add weight or reps indefinitely; you have to back off after achieving a personal best. It is not a matter of choice but of natural law. Whether you like it or not, thou shalt cycle. Master RKC Mark Reifkind, former Coach Powerlifting Team USA, jokes about the “tough guy cycle”: Heavy, heavier, even heavier, injury, light… Since your body will force you to downshift no matter what, you might as well plan for it. “The next step off a peak is always down,” warns Rif, “One should step down rather than fall off.” Which is why powerlifters developed a procedure called ‘cycling,’ which requires that one starts with weights and reps well below one’s ability, gradually goes heavier, posts a PR in competition, and starts over with light weights. He who denies the cyclical nature of adaptation is always punished.
Fifth, the length of the cycle. Eight to twelve week cycles are the norm among competitive powerlifters. The exact length is determined by the competition calendar, nine weeks in my father’s example. To map out a cycle, work back from the date of the competition. Here is a foolproof way of doing it:
Start with setting a goal for two sets of two reps on your last heavy workout before competition. For a beginner to intermediate lifter, the current 1RM is a realistic goal, but feel free to be more conservative as I am with my father.
Work back in increments of 2-5% of your one-rep max to arrive at your starting training weight. Vladimir jumps 10 pounds a week, which is a little under 3%. For reasons which are outside the scope of this article, I urge you not to take steps smaller than 2% (except when learning technique).
Let us design a sample cycle for a deadlifter with a 275-lb. 1RM. 2% of that weight is 5.5 pounds and 5% is 13.75. 10-pound jumps are what the doctor ordered. If our hypothetical puller has twelve weeks to go before competition, his poundages will be:
Week 1: 165
Week 2: 175
Week 3: 185
Week 4: 195
Week 5: 205
Week 6: 215
Week 7: 225
Week 8: 235
Week 9: 245
Week 10: 255
Week 11: 265
Week 12: 275 (2 x 2) < — start with this number and work backward
Week 13: Meet
Do five sets of five every week. It will feel very easy in the beginning. Don’t fret, it is supposed to be, as you are building ‘momentum’. Do NOT do more reps or sets than prescribed and do not reduce the prescribed rest periods! You will walk out of the gym wanting to do more and this is the way it is supposed to be.
At some point, the weights will get heavy. When you have barely made your 5/5 with good form, next workout switch to 3/3. Note that this sudden drop in sets and reps allows one to have a relatively easy workout in order to unload before the peak. It is one of the secrets behind the given cycle’s effectiveness.
Week 1: 165 x 5/5
Week 2: 175 x 5/5
Week 10: 255 x 3/3
Week 11: 265 x 2/2
Week 12: 275 x 2/2
Week 13: Meet
The last two workouts before the meet are 2/2. And the number of 3/3 sessions will vary depending on how long you will keep on making 5/5 gains. This is the beauty of this cycle: it adjusts to you. In my father’s case, I had no doubt he would put up 305×5/5, was convinced that 325 was too much, and was not sure about 315. Hence the plan read, “315 x 5/5 or 3/3.”
This is how things might work out for our 275-pound puller:
Week 1: 165 x 5/5
Week 2: 175 x 5/5
Week 3: 185 x 5/5
Week 4: 195 x 5/5
Week 5: 205 x 5/5
Week 6: 215 x 5/5
Week 7: 225 x 5/5
Week 8: 235 x 5/5 (PR)
Week 9: 245 x 5/5 (PR)
Week 10: 255 x 3/3 (did not try sets of five because the last workout was very hard)
Week 11: 265 x 2/2
Week 12: 275 x 2/2
Week 13: Meet 300 PR
It is also possible that you will have to switch to triples on week nine or even earlier for stronger lifters. No problem, the flexible cycle accommodates any strength growth dynamics.
To sum up your plan of action:
– Start a cycle eight to twelve weeks before the meet.
– Plan on doing 2/2 with your current max on the week before the meet.
– Work back in 2-5% 1RM weekly increments to arrive at your starting poundage.
– Do 5/5 on your heavy day, preferably Saturday.
– Optional: a light workout of 40-60% 1RM x 5/5 and 5min of rest between sets three days after the heavy one.
– When it appears that you have reached your 5/5 limit, next workout switch to 3/3.
– The last two workouts before the meet are 2/2. The number of 3/3 workouts will vary depending on how long you will keep on making 5/5 gains.
Learn and perfect your technique first.
Find a powerlifter—not a bodybuilder and not a typical personal trainer—to teach you. Then subscribe to Powerlifting USA magazine and find a competition near you that’s three months away. Look for ‘raw’ meets that require you to compete without special squat suits, bench shirts, etc. AAU is one of the federations that hosts raw competitions.
An ‘unrealistic’ goal accomplished: my father becomes an American record holder—training only one hour per week. (Photo courtesy of www.venicepaparazzi.com)
I shall wrap up with another quote from The 4-Hour Workweek: “For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks… The universe doesn’t conspire against you but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up all the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct the course along the way.”
Do it now. What do you have to lose, except your weakness?
# # #
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Pavel Tsatsouline is a former Soviet Special Forces physical training instructor, currently a subject matter expert to US special operations units. Pavel’s bestselling book Beyond Bodybuilding has been endorsed by Larry Scott, Dave Draper, Marty Gallagher, and Louie Simmons. Subscribe to Pavel’s free e-newsletter and get a free course on building strong abs the Russian way at www.PowerbyPavel.com
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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225 Replies to “‘Unrealistic’ Athletic Goals: Why and How to Pursue Them”
awesome i am very inspired thanks
Great post.and very inspiring. My next goal is to go from spending 3yrs away from basketball (last game played in college 3yrs ago) to signing with a professional team. I’ve spent the last three yrs as a CPA and part caged animal. Currently I’m in Costa Rica training. Should be interesting!
Thanks for this!
Way to set ’em high! and good job getting yourself in an environment to train away from distractions (except the morenas!)
Do it up
I have literally made the same decision in November of 2015. I’ve been training with a coach since January. It’s funny how people with seemingly crazy goals coalesce around this blog (or maybe the arrow of causation is reversed). [Moderator: link removed]
May I just say, I love the title!
All so impressive!! Both videos were amazing. Did your dad lose body fat just following this program as well? I know he gained strength and some size.
What’s his next goal?
“Did your dad lose body fat just following this program as well? I know he gained strength and some size. What’s his next goal?”
Benny, there is no way of knowing whether this training has helped my dad lose fat. He is runs and climbs stairs (e.g. to the top of a 17 story building two steps at a time) several times a week.
The next goal is 400.
Your dad is awesome for sure.
Thanks for answering my question Pavel.
Another great article Chief.
Strength is a skill…and so is inspiring others. Thanks, Tim and Pavel, for sharing these words of advice on training.
Haha, very cool!
Indeed, “Doing the unrealistic is easier than doing the realistic”. This statement is so true for anything you can imagine. It’s actually one of the core principles I use when coaching clients, helping them to to shift from “fear of white page”, to a state of being creative on demand. Effortlessly, no matter the field. I use sculpture and yoga as a metaphors. Every single time someone sets for average, it just fails. Thing is, nowadays you don’t have the choice, it looks like society (at a global level) is rewarding unrealistic passionate people. That’s great news.
Pavel’s father is most certainly “unrealistic” in many other areas as well.
A great post. I’m currently doing Greyskull barbell’s linear progression programme, so I’m going to stick with that (all strength/ powerlifting programmes are pretty similar – the devil is in the detail).
Having a proper powerlifter as a trainer is extremely important. I’m currently working out in a gym run by a cricket club in London (!), they way the personal trainers are teaching to power clean and squat is really bad.
You can’t imagine how glad I am to read this. After so many years of hearing from everyone else about how we should be setting “realistic” goals, it was time someone actually pushed us a bit outside our comfort zone.
Don’t get me wrong though — realistic goals are great for a start, or if you don’t mind being average in a particular domain. But for everything else, they often prevent you from achieving your full potential.
You can’t imagine how glad I am to read this. After so many years of hearing from everyone else about how we should be setting “realistic” goals, it was time someone actually pushed us a bit outside our comfort zone.
Don’t get me wrong though — realistic goals are great for a start, or if you don’t mind being average in a particular domain. But for everything else, they often prevent you from achieving your full potential.
Claudie its so true. Often we her meme’s that tell us to stay in the safe harbor. That’s what I like about Tim’s blog. Here you get people who want to see you step outside of the comfort zone.
Realistic goals are great if that’s what you want from life. Such thinking will only get people mundane and same old same old results. Going oberboard as they say and stepping out of the comfort zone leads to fulfilling a persons life potential.
Realistic goals are made for momentum perhaps?
You have a great site btw…
Hi Tim, love your stuff!
I have set up a quite unrealistic goal for myself, completing a specific long distance bike race this summer, and with a good race finish time.
Been training a few weeks now, following a program I set up, and started to notice improvements. Now I’ve got a cold and can’t follow my training program.
I hate when this happens, all the progress that I’ve made so far will almost be lost.
Would love to hear your thoughts about this: dealing with illness during training and how to fight a cold in the best possible and most efficient way.
If this is covered in your new book I’ll buy it instanly! Otherwise, a blog post covering it would be most appreciated!
Here’s what I do, but keep in mind that I’m not a doctor and not giving medical advice. My personal protocol, upon onset of cold symptoms:
6 grams l-lysine per day
14-20 grams of vitamin C in 2 gram doses throughout day (typically “Lite” Emergen-C)
5-10,000 iu of vitamin D for first 3-4 days only
TONS of water
Hope that helps. I do NOT train while sick, besides 15 min brisk walking in the mornings.
Your “high dosage Vitamin C” strategy for fighting a cold virus appears to be based on the Linus Pauling method.
I thought your recent book would have included a reference to this.
Many “old school” athletes from the 50-60’s also used to dose-up on Vitamin C when training, and crank the dosage up when their bodies were fighting a virus.
I achieved a very unrealistic athletic goal recently. There is a video of it on youtube called challenge to all humans. I figure someone like you Tim ferriss may recognize how difficult this feat is and may help us get some kind of exposure which we have been trying to get for a while. Thanks!
Considering Vladimir “is a lifetime athlete” and looks like he must’ve kept himself in pretty good shape, my take from this post was less about “unrealistic goals” and more about finding your athletic niche. In this case; a niche focus (the deadlift) of a niche sport in a niche age range.
It also reminds me of a similarly inspiring article, also supporting the topic of niche athleticism and unrealistic athletic goals, on 90+ year old Olga Kotelko’s athletic achievement:
Another great example of this is creating and breaking Guinness World Records. Tim, I’d recommend researching Ashrita Furman and Alastair Galpin, the two greatest record breakers in the world. Their attitude is very similar and their methods incredibly innovative. I can put you in touch with them if you’d like an interview.
Thanks for the offer, Jason! How do you know them?
I love this article! One thing that many will miss is the discipline it takes to focus for eight weeks (for some eight hours) on one task. I often argue that cycling or periodization doesn’t work…but not because it “doesn’t work,” but because most of the people I work with can’t focus for eight days, much less eight weeks. They will see a shiny new penny at the gym or on late night TV and go from training for the Olympics to getting “ripped.”
A great article here and the information is so crisp and clean most trainees will miss the amount of knowledge compressed here for them…
Dan, great observation. The perfect program is only perfect if you follow it. The best program is the best that you will actually adhere to.
That Dan John sounds like a nice guy.
Strength is most definitely a skill. These results are not unrealistic at all. People are often surprised at how fast they can increase strength.
A year ago I couldn’t deadlift 225, I had chronic hip and shoulder pain. I spent about 8 months purely corrective work with Mike Robertson and Bill Hartman to build a base of core stability, unimpinge my shoulders, etc. then started deadlifting in October. Even with a relatively haphazard deadlift schedule I was able to pull 405 a couple weeks ago with no pain. This coming from a guy who didn’t believe he’d be walking 5 years from now due to pain.
Finding a legit trainer is key. Technique alone will add 100-200 lbs to a deadlift. Not to mention having someone design a program that will fix your problems. I also highly recommend taping your lifts. Just set an iphone on a table and get a shot of your form will help you see and understand what’s going on. You can see position on a failed lift and compare it to a good lift. It’s also nice to have a log of what you’ve lifted and see how your form and progress changes over time.
We use fairly similar principles in our training as pavel has suggested above. Many guys run 4 week blocks with a deaload week on week 4, sometimes this is made into an 8 week block. Intensity varies from week to week as may rep schemes. Wendler’s 5/3/1 is also a great program that a ton of powerlifters use. I tend to train pretty unregimented and go by feel (which my trainers hate). So when I feel strong I pull heavy singles. When I feel a little more beat up I pull 3-5’s. I like high frequency on deadlifts. So 2x per week or more. Emphasis is on big lifts so I go all out on those and tend to do less accessory work.
Most guys will also run a taper 10 days to 2 weeks with little to know volume before a meat. Just some light warm-up type work. Detraining like this increases your 1RM by converting slow twitch to fast twitch fibers.
There are really very few powerlifters out there. It’s a pretty tight knit group. One of the guys from my gym just competed at the Arnold Classic, so I helped out a little back stage. It’s seems like everyone knows everyone else. Thanks for spreading the word. Hopefully we’ll get more people to try it.
Allen, indeed, you get more Type IIB fibers from long breaks between sessions—one of the reasons classic American periodization by Gallagher-Coan-Karwoski calls for one session per lift a week.
Wendler’s is a solid plan.
Unloading every fourth week is a good call if you go hard all three weeks.
Congrats on your four wheels!
Best post I have read yet on this blog! At 47 I am going to start to set some unrealistic goals. Last year I set what some would consider as an unrealistic goal (at my age) of attending Columbia University’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy Prorgam, I start this Fall!
I had the honor of meeting Pavel for lunch almost 13 years ago and always wanted to do the RKC training but every year life seemed get in the way. I have most of his training books and I really do love the deadlift and squat so maybe this will be my niche!
Matt, start with HKC and build up to RKC. Power to you!
100% agreed with Pavel. Work up to RKC and then crush it with serious preparation. It’s a great rite of passage and a wonderful group of trainers (and trainees).
I’m a 21 physiology and sports science student. I have just been introduced to kettlebells and I’m fascinated. I see there’s a RKC workshop in Italy in june, next to my place. I was wandering if it could be possible to watch some sessions, to get some inspiration, with your permission.
Thank you very much
Wow… love seeing these inspiring real life examples of applying 80/20 and Parkinson’s law in and out of the gym as well – Priceless.
As usual – thanks so much for sharing, Tim!
Wow, just realized that this is the same guy who wrote the book I used when I started to learn contortion and acrobatics (Relax into Stretch : Instant Flexibility Through Mastering Muscle Tension). I can’t see myself getting into powerlifting, but the tips on becoming more flexible were fantastic. I had been taking classes at the San Francisco School of Circus Arts, but I wasn’t crazy about their “just push harder” approach to things and I wanted someone who had deconstructed the process a bit more – and his book was perfect (not to mention, far less painful).
Stephanie, in the Bay area Mark Reifkind is the coach of choice for stretching. email@example.com
Thanks for the recommendation, Pavel. I’ll definitely get in touch with him – it would be nice to work with someone who takes a more methodical approach!
I like to be that dad when I am his age.
So I think got to start now.
“You will walk out of the gym wanting to do more and this is the way it is supposed to be.”
That’s such a great line.
All in all, very cool article. That video of 128-pound Melissa pulling 314.5 pounds is incredible!
I love this.
I am 19 years old and my brother is 15 and we are trying to change the world through “unrealistic” athletic goals. We are trying to represent what is possible and every once in a while I stumble upon something like this where someone in their later years are still performing so well, it gives me hope that although I may be performing and representing what is possible now at a young age that I can still participate in my vision in later years. Thanks for the inspiration.
Awesome article, Tim. Man! It’s like a supplement to the book!
I’m getting some amazing lifting results. Biggest is probably rapid Dead Lift growth from doing Kettlebell swings. Killer.
Amazing transfer, right? If it’s working, don’t fix it! Stick with one program until it’s run its course. Mixing and matching is where progress falls apart, which Pavel can confirm.
Congrats on the progress!
Norman, look up a video of the world’s strongest deadlifter Andy Bolton pulling 1,014. It looks just like the kettlebell swing.
Amazing achievement – I wonder how I can apply this to go from 1000 metres to 2800 metres swimming in the next 4 weeks
Three words: Total Immersion Swimming. Just do a search on this blog.
Thank Tim, ordered the DVD from the Auckland library and may buy it (Australian distributor only in our area)
yep – bought 2 TI DVDs and got the books from the library. After 2 months of training I was ready for a 2.8km (1.72 mile) in the ocean but the conditions were bad and the event organizers chopped the course to 2 x 750 meter laps. It was choppy but so much fun. Total Immersion + Open Water Swimming is Highly recommended. While I have your attention check out this web page http://www.savenaturalhealth.eu/. Thanks to the big pharmaceutical comapnies lobby the EU is trying to block the manufacture and use of Herbal Medicine – including stuff that was in use for Milena. My concern is that next they will try to block ground breaking information like in the 4HB. There is still time to sign the petition and make a difference. Thanks
Great Post. Very inspirational
It is so difficult to find hard data on training when you reach a certain age. Most books are targeted at a much younger audience. This is great stuff.
Great article, Pavel!
I’d love for you, if you wouldn’t mind, to confirm your thoughts on doing a sport (no-gi jiu jitsu 3-5x/week) and lifting.
Your Power To The People routine (+ Janda Situps) has definitely helped my strength a lot but I find myself getting pretty tired at Jiu Jitsu if I do PTP the same day.
Naturally, the fatigue is more pronounced towards the end of a cycle.
Vic, your strength training should be designed to build strength with minimal fatigue: 2-3 global exercises, low rep, fairly heavy, and far from failure. You can follow PTP 2-3 times a week. You can look up Dan John’s 40 Day Workout.
Fantastic, clear cut article and information as always.
If the aim is strength endurance (specifically chins and press ups) more than pure strength will the same type of programming work but with higher reps (i.e. 2-3 big exercises, 2 times per week, avoiding failure, heavy/light).
In terms of conditioning, would you advise this (in my case sprints) after training or on separate days?
I’m trying to keep my programming as minimal but as effective as possible.
I appreciate this might be slipping off topic slightly but we’ve got to try to make the most of your knowledge while we can!
Love this idea.
I ran a marathon to celebrate my 40th birthday. Even though I hate running, had just had my sixth baby, and was overweight. I didn’t die and I accomplished something even my avid runner friends think it too hard.
The unrealistic can be done.
Hey Tim, how is your BJJ going? are you still training regularly or pursuing a belt?
the title should be: Unrealistic Athletic Goals or: f*ck it im just being awesome right now
So I have a question:
Where and how does one pursue becoming great quickly at a sport when there are no pioneers in doing so? For example, I’m 39 and I’ve never played tennis but want to start soon and become good and competitive quickly.
Where do I start? All the conventional wisdom says I need 10,000 hours to become great. Where can I hack the sport for fast results?
Adam, find an expert coach. Read up about motor learning, e.g. college textbook by Richard Schmidt. Get dialed in physically (start with FMS—see 4HB).
Wow a different train of thought. Excelling in something not many others have focused on.
Just have to make a decision as to which hobby to pursue to the max.
I met the 10 time national cribbage champion in my home town. Who would have thought.
I guess you have to strip it down to the core and then focus just on the core….
Thanks for another great post.
What great timing, and yet another great blog post. I have taken on the seemingly impossible, and I am making it happen. Some many people want to write a book and yet so few ever make it happen.
Despite the romance/erotica industry already being a $7 billion per year industry, I threw my hat into the ring. Following your advice I came up with a marketable and unique idea and ran with it. I am now in B&N stores as well as one of the better sellers on Amazon in this category. The reviews are increasing, and I even did an interview on Playboy Radio this week!
Keep up the great work and the inspiration.
2010 Independent Publisher Award Winner
What is the number 1 mistake that you see people making when trying to add 100lbs to their deadlift?
Paul, not learning the technique.
loved your book-HATED, AS A DERMATOLOGIST, THAT YOU PUT SETH ROBERTS ACNE ADVICE WITHOUT CHECKING WHETHER THERE WAS ANY SCIENCE TO HIS WORDS. “CHECK YOUR DIET TO FIND WHAT IS CAUSING YOUR ACNE?” WHAT A DISSERVICE YOU BOTH HAVE DONE TO ANYONE WITH ACNE WHO HEEDS THIS NONSENSE. WHY RE-INVENT THE WHEEL? AT LEAST SPEAK WITH A MEDICAL AUTHORITY BEFORE INCLUDING HIS ACNE COMMENTS IN A SECOND EDITION.
Diet most definitely effects acne. I know from personal experience, I was prescribed many medications when I was a teenager to battle my horrible acne, one of them being ACUTANE. None of them ever sustained any real results, if I stopped taking the medication the acne would reappear. ONLY thing that worked was me taking all acidic foods from my diet, re-balancing the PH of my body. Only thing prescription medications are good for is lining pharmaceuticals pockets with money. Don’t need an expert to figure that shit out.
Tim Great Post,
I am having serious knee trouble (it band and tendentious on both knees) any tim ferriss hacks for this one
I am just entering the world of powerlifting and Pavel’s routine is queued up for next week. I have 22 weeks between now and my first meet. Situation/question: I am currently at 166lbs @ ~10%BF (5’6″ height if that matters). Do I cut and try to compete at 165, is it worth risking losing strength? Or do I have a more robust nutrition plan and and compete in the low end of the 181’s? Sorry this is more of a question than a comment but how often to you get to be on topic with two of the most suitable experts for a given question?
Brad, don’t worry about making weight for your first meet. Btw, if you train and eat right, you are looking at 198s 22 weeks away (with three lift powerlifting, not DL only). Lift, eat, and have a good time. You will optimize your weight class choice after a few meets.
Speaking of nutrition, what resources or guidelines could you offer regarding powerlifting nutrition plans? This is particularly challenging as I am a lacto-vegetarian so any advice you could offer would be appreciated.
Currently I’m taking in roughly 170g of both protein and carbs daily with 60-90g of fats. Most of my protein is coming from dairy based supplements (whey, casein, etc.). I have done my best to add more protein dense vegetables and grains (broccoli, quinoa, etc.) as well as a variety of nuts.
I am very much looking forward to putting your recommendations into action and putting up a lot of PR’s this year. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience – it is invaluable and very much appreciated!
Brad, I am not a nutrition expert.
Ever since reading 4HWW, I’ve been very encouraged by your discussion with the students about aiming high, getting in touch with high powered CEO’s, etc.
My goal right now is to create enough “passive” income over the next 2 years and 5 months to provide for my family and pay my way through medical school without taking out loans.
This has my big physical goals on hold, save the slow carb diet to drop below 200.
been scrolling through the comments when I came across your enthusiastic post. I do not want to put you on the spot here, though, it has been years since then. How did it go for you?
Thanks for another great guest post. I followed the 5×5 training plan from your earlier guest post and broke the raw powerlifting national record in the squat for my age group and weight class at a meet today!
When following this type of plan how do you know what poundages to go for at the meet? I did a mini-rehearsal the week before the meet where I worked up to my 1RM in the lifts on different days (and hit them all according to plan on meet day). Do you think that is good/bad idea? Seems like it leaves a lot of guesswork for the meet if you leave off at 2×2 the last week.
Brian, congratulations! A standard recommendation is to open with your 3RM (a little lighter that the 2×2 weight), then, if you feel strong, go for a small PR on your second attempt. Base the third attempt on the second. Ideally, find a “handler”—an experienced powerlifter who does what the corner man does for a boxer.
Maxing before a meet is a bad idea. Have confidence in your cycle.
Have you heard about Croix Sather? He has only been training (running) for about a year and now he is in the middle of his “big goal”… a run from San Diego to NYC in 100 days !
His new book is titled, “Dream Big, Act Big” and it sounds a lot like what you are saying. I’m sure you were an inspiration to him too !
Between you & Croix, I am inspired to sign up for an Ironman Triathlon (or at least a couple marathons) this year !
I just want to thank you as I think your books (PTTP, ETK, Naked Warrior, etc) have been the most enlightening I have ever read togheter with Tim’s. I rehab myself from a shoulder injury following your book “Super Joints” and followed Power to the People up to deadlifting x2.5 my weight.
I am now a kettlebell fan and my “muse” is actually selling kettlebells within my country (Chile, South America) after I couldn’t get them elsewhere at a reasonable prize.
I have always tought you are a top notch coach and it only ads up to your credetianls you coached your dad into breaking a world record. Hope I can become an RKC soon, even though location/prize are prohibiting at the moment.
Francisco, thank you for your kind words!
Contact Yoanna Snideman, one of our RKC Team Leaders and an exceptionally strong lady. She is half Chilean and she visits your country once in awhile. Perhaps you get some lessons from her.
Power to you!
Awesome, very inspiring article!
I believe the counter intuitive logic behind unrealistic goals. This post reminds me that when I think I’m swinging for the fences I’m usually just striving for the mediocre. I have to go big and not get so pissed off when I strike out.
Is there a book or website that you recommend for learning the deadlift?
Paul, I recommend my own book ;] The title is ‘Power to the People!’,
Thank you for this article! It came right at the right time. I have been working between PTP and the 40 Day Program but have been thinking of getting into more olympic lifting although I have no training. This article pulled me back to the deadlift.
I was wondering if one were to add a press to this workout would you recommend working it the same way? And would you recommend bench, standing or side press?
I know there is always PTP but I have done it alternating with KB’s, 40 Day Program and some of Mark Rippetoe’s and if someone were to specialize in the deadlift what would you recommend they alternate with to keep a balanced body?
Thanks for your time and your comments.
Jeff, just pick one press and apply it to PTP. Not a bad idea to change to a different press variation every few months. For instance, if your target lift is the bench press, rotate between the incline, the board press, the floor press, the close grip BP, the standard BP.
I want to be able to do an ‘aerial’ (no hands cartwheel). At 45 years of age, I might have left it a bit late. We’ll see!
I love seeing and hearing the workout routine of others, it provides a great point for experimentation. Workout routine stagnation does not improve the body. This is great and thank you for sharing.
Would adding a bunch of ladders of kettlebell one-arm presses right after the deadlifts be an ok idea to round off the workout and and keep the frequency/ gym time to a minimum?
Mark, I would spread them over two days. Both exercises take a lot out of you.
This is a ridiculously good article and introduction to powerlifting. I am seriously impressed! I can testify to the importance of deloading as I’ve currently been doing the “tough guy” cycle described in the post – heavy, heavier, injured, light – for the last six months. Just a bad way of doing things.
It was also nice to be reminded of the 4HWW motto – aim high, aim high, aim high. Be unrealistic.
Thank you for your kind words, Mike!
Thanks for another great article, Pavel! My girlfriend wants to have huge legs and for me to find her a training program, so I’m trying to find a squat program for her. The unrelenting focus of Marty Gallagher’s bench press program is inspiring; I want a squat program like that!
Can I base a squatting program on your deadlift plan? And do you have any advice for a female training program?
Thanks again, Pavel, for the great fun of Enter the Kettlebell. We are traveling around the country with our kettlebells! And I am excited to train for a tactical strength challenge in the Fall.
Finally, thanks, Tim, for Freak to Geek that got me going on strength training (but my girlfriend prefers me not so big, ha!).
Thank you for your kind words, Jed! She could apply this DL plan to the SQ. She could also read Marty Gallagher’s ‘The Purposeful Primitive’ and follow his SQ advice.
What if your problem is putting on weight? I’m currently dating a girl who wants to put on some fat and muscle in a healthy way. But going through the book i don’t see any sections talking about this. I’m sure it’s not a common problem, but I’ve had trouble finding good information about this subject. any thoughts?
I am in the process of trying to figure out how to help my 11 year old athlete gain some weight and muscle. He eats very well and is extremely active but still very slight for his height. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.
It’s pretty amazing that older gentleman was able to accomplish this…very inspiring to us “young people”.
Love it. I plan to Deadlift 250 by year end, can I do it? You bet your sweet ass I will! It IS all a headgame. Thanks for quality post …
You own me a new belt and I own a big THANK YOU !!!!!
Working as a library tech has given me the chance to view/read quite a few health books and of course I tried various diet/health programs but since I picked up 4 hour-body changes are dramatic: No more cravings for sweets or other junk food, full of energy and of course pants fall off. Why? It’s simply feasible after a very short adjustment period(i.e 2-3days) and that lucky 7 day is fantastic. Slow-carb=Fast Results !!
Great job man!
Ciao and grazie Tim from Italy,
I only started diet and exercise using the 4-Hour-Body book in December, but I’ve made huge gains and fairly substantial fat loss (not continuing weight loss, mind you). The biggest problem I’ve had is other peoples’ noses! My goal is to be strong and big, and in the process lose fat…not lose fat and become lean. No one seems to understand that. Since I started weight lifting I’ve doubled and tripled the weights I lift while also increasing endurance like crazy (and feeling better than I have in decades). People I know (even those who have gone to the gym for years and watch calories like there’s nothing else to do) are so stuck in traditional ways of thinking that it’s incredibly frustrating to speak with them. Yesterday’s fight was started with me saying that I hadn’t eaten a piece of fruit in about 5 weeks. Their response was that no healthy diet didn’t have daily fruit and lots of it.
I work out 2-3 times a week for 45 minutes to an hour, doing 1 set of 5 reps at the heaviest weights I can handle, holding under tension for 5 seconds for each rep. I end each workout with 10 minutes on the treadmill at maximum incline, never breaking into a run, keeping my heart rate about 160 or so. An example of strength gain, I’ve gone from (inclined machine) hack squats of 180lbs to 400lbs and could probably add to that. The other day I deadlifted 2x100lb dumbbells (though I worry about causing myself an injury by continuing that. One of my coworkers have been going to the gym for years and years but can’t move more than 45 lbs on the close grip seated row…my first try on that machine yesterday I did 90lbs and could probably increase that very quickly.
Self-experimentation is awesome. Thanks for the help getting stronger and healthier! Advice on dealing with the naysayers would be greatly appreciated.
Greg, self-experimentation is not worth it until you have trained/ate for several years following established proven methods and made impressive gains. For a beginner self-experimentation is just wasting time repeating other people’s mistakes.
On the thoughts of ‘Unrealistic’ Athletic Goals, for me seeing someone with a high 30 low 40 inch vertical jump still impresses me everytime i see it. Do you have any training tips for some1 who wants to increase their vertical.
My friend G who is a Crossfit Trainer is 5’4, just had hip surgery in Nov and she recently did a 40″ jump…no running start. Crazy impressive! I’m starting to work on my tuck jumps to build to that. If you can get your knees to mid chest then why not 30-40in vertical…? Maybe? Not sure if this helps! 🙂
Brad, get strong with squats and deadlifts. That will take you most of the way where you want to be. You can keep increasing your jump without ever practicing jumping while your SQ is growing to 2xBW. Later more specialized training is needed.
Tim and Pavel, your words are so true! got to share this, When I first took up climbing, I set my goal to climb 8000-Meter peaks, which i achieved, not only on one but few 8000-Meter peaks. And I m from a tropical country with no winter and climbing tradition!
i have always been unrealistic, but only to those outside this reality 🙂
Love the post but I question whether strength is a skill. Seems like we all have the potential for strength but things like poor posture or form inhibit that. This post by Tom Kurz (came across it the other day) called “Fix Faults First” has a good treatment on this. http://tomkurz.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/first-fix-faults/
“My observations tell me that the key to a great and lasting performance improvement is not in trying harder but in removing obstacles. In other words, fixing faults pays more than overcoming them.”
Vergi, Tom Kurz is a very smart man and I agree that you should not “add fitness to dysfunction”, as Gray Cook put it. I strongly urge you to read the chapter dedicated to Gray, FMS, and the kettlebell get-up in 4HW.
Have a balance, don’t become one of the people who never get strong because they have become correction exercise hypochondriacs.
Vergil, Thomas Kurz is a very smart man and he is right. In the words of Gray Cook, “Don’t add fitness to dysfunction”. I strongly urge you to read Gray’s work, starting with the chapter in 4HB.
Find a balance; don’t become a corrective exercise hypochondriac.
Pavel – Good point. There is a point where corrective action becomes a type of “analysis paralysis”. Also, will check it out Gray’s work in 4HB.
Vergil, if you have a background in physical education, rehabilitation, or medicine, Gray’s new book ‘Movement’ will knock your socks off.
Thanks for the heads up on Gray’s Movement. I start Physical Therapy school in the Fall and that book looks amazing.
Setting “unrealistic” goal of playing for school’s club rugby team at the age of 47! Even if I can just practice with them and not hurt myself I will feel I accomplished the goal! Time to break out “Power to the People”! Any other book/training rec’s appreciated. Plan right now is Ori’s Warrior Diet (I’ve had the book on my shelf for 10 years!), combo kettlebell and deadlift/squat workouts and take HKC this spring/summer.
PS if you have iPhone check out my link for my new free iPhone app 24/7 Chi.
I started the low carb diet on February 23 at 340.2 pounds. This morning I weighed in at 301.9 pounds. I don’t know why I have never been successful before or why I am now. All I know is that my wife gave me your book for Christmas. I let it sit for a month and half and finally opened it mid February. My life has been different from that day. I have four kids13,7,3 and 3 months. I don’t want to get corny or weepy eyed but you have given me my life back and I want to thank you for that. I log my weight every day. I have recorded every meal I have eaten from the day I started. I had not started exercising yet but purchased a 45 pound kettlebell and a heavy bag yesteday and this morning did 80 reps, 15 at a time with a few minutes in between that spent hitting the heavy bag. I thought my wife would be horriffied that I set up a heavy bag in our bedroom but she made me taker her to the store where we bought her a pair of pink boxing gloves and she has is beating the hell out of that bag as I type.
My breakfast is the same every morning. Two eggs, spinach, 4 pieces of turkey bacon a cup of coffee with cinnamon and 500ml of very cold water.
I have found a meal I love and eat it almost all the time. It is a chili using 4 types of beans, ground beef and other appoved ingredients. I am down two pants sizes and am working my way down my second belt. I haven’t bothered with anything else in the book because goal number one is to get down below 200 pounds and that will keep me occupied for a while.
I’m happy with myself for the first time in a long time. Thanks again.
Thank you so, so much for the wonderful comment — congratulations! This is just the beginning, and you clearly have what it takes to get to below 200.
Keep up the great work, and please keep us posted on your progress!
All the best to you and yours,
One added note. I had been dealing with tennis elbow for a year and after a month on the diet it is no longer an issue. I’m guessing it’s the spinach but of course I have no proof of that. I went out and threw a softball with my daughter three days ago. I had planned an icing down of the elbow when we were done. It wasn’t needed so I put it behind my neck as I watched tv. Did I say I wasn’t doing anything else in the book yet? I saw you talk about the ice thing on some news show. Being able to go out and help my daughter get ready for softball season is an example of getting my life back.
Pavel, I’ve read several of your books and have watched your KB dvd. Good stuff.
I do have a quick question, though: as a boxer who does not want to go up in weight class, what kind of program would you recommend? Right now I started deadlifting twice a week, do pullups, pushups, and am thinking of incorporating a day of Steve Maxwell’s 300 KB challenge to my workout during the week. This is all on top of boxing 2-3 days a week.
My primary goals are focused on building speed, explosive power, and endurance.
Seth, there are different ways to go about it. One is the low rep low volume heavy training described in 4HB in the chapter with Barry Ross.
Does anyone have a Minimum Effective Dosage for learning challenging bodyweight exercises like the pistol squat and the one-armed pushup ? Most of the advice I get runs along the lines of frequent exposure and lots and lots of reps, which only serves to awaken my tendonitis.
I’d appreciate any comments or suggestions!
Dale, these are skills. The more often you practice them while staying fresh and unhurt, the better you will get.
This comment may not be in response to the post, but I had just finished listening to your podcast on The Nerdist with Chris Hardwick, Jonah and Matt, and I can’t find another place to post my comment. You talked a lot about running your first ultra coming up, and I became really excited for you. About 5 years ago I was 23 and about 35 pounds overweight and never really exercised, could hardly run a mile. One day I was watching a marathon on television and was like well none of those people are overweight, I might as well do that! I started on March 1st and decided that I was going to work out everyday for a month (I know not your advice). I never set any goals for each day and sometimes I would only work out for 15 minutes, but committed it to my schedule for each day. At the end of the month I ran a half marathon, I was under dressed and got lost twice. I ran 15 miles in about 4 hours time. Afterward my dad asked me if I wanted to do a 17 mile run in three weeks and I said yes because nothing could ever be as hard as what I went through on that day. To this day nothing has ever been as hard mentally or physically, even though since then I have run 50ks with 8,000 feet of gain. On July 7th I ran the Sukiyaki Outback 50k in Ashland, Oregon (If you have not chosen a 50K I would highly recommend this ultra, the scenery is amazing, extremely well put on plenty of support and aid stations, and only about 3500 feet of gain), and that summer I won the Oregon Ultra Series for women under 29 years of age. Right now in life I live in Portland, Oregon and I run dogs for a living. If you would have asked me my career path when I was 18 years old, never in a million years would I have thought that I would be paid to run. Two weeks ago I made up and put on my own 1/2 marathon and convinced some of my friends to run there first half marathon, which was an amazing experience. I have never followed a training routine and have run 9 ultras and countless other races. I do have some advice for you with the ultra and you can choose to take it or not, for I am no Scott Jureck (sp.). RUN HILLS AND RUN TRAILS. Hills is a speed workout in disguise. It is going to help you with your strength and endurance, but really what helped me the most was the sense of accomplishment in each run. You can run flat roads forever and never feel like you get anywhere, but to run to a top of a large hill you get this feeling of elation and joy. Also to run something that is too hard in the beginning and forces you to walk, then all of a sudden you will have the ability to run something that you felt was impossible is such a big break through, you won’t forget it. My second piece of advice is never to get caught up in time. Some days are good, and others I have set down in the middle of a trail and cried because it was just too hard. The point is that you are doing it and it is escape from your life to reflect and get out your excess energy and thoughts. This is your time, and if you think of it as a free therapy session or a release from everything else, you will really learn to love being out there and not get too caught up in shaving minutes off here or there. Its truly a freeing experience to run just to run and not wear a watch. Well that is my advice, or yeah and really self motivating bad pop music is amazing on a long, hard run.
The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. (Franklin Roosevelt, American president)
Tim, I bought 4HB and really enjoyed the injury proofing section.
However, there wasn’t much on treating injuries such as sprains and swelling from for example bashing your knee during a hit (rugby). Could you advise on what treatments have worked best/quickest for you? E.g. ice (how long, how often, etc), medication, rest vs. excercise, diet, etc.?
Thanks in advance if you can answer!
Great post – thanks. The only criticism I might have is the “certification” part. Is it really necessary? Makes me think of diplomas by mail or becoming a pastor via the web. And worse off – Black Belt Karate that you know they got at K-Marche`. Oh well, I like the piece. Keep them coming.
I’ve set more realistic athletic goals than unrealistic athletic goals, which is to say when this technology is available for athletes, my knee will be thankful to the scientists who discovered how to regenerate cartilage using non-invasive injections of bioactive nanogel. What’s the quick fix until this is available to the mainstream? Tim, thanks for writing “The Four Hour Body”! It’s a great book!!!
Tim, have you ever looked at ‘hacking’ cycling? We have some tough rides in the White Mts of New Hampshire. After car accident 12 yrs ago, couldn’t ride more than 30 min w/out back pain – bulging lower discs. Then 2 yrs agou (when 48) entered Crank the Kanc (22 mi uphill time trail http://www.nebikes.com/?PageName=10 ). My wife trained regularly, but due to a ski injury, and procrastination, only rode about 6 times before the race & had only actually rode up the course once. Was thrilled to have made it and to do moderately well, mostly sheer will power, and couldn’t walk for several days after. Have done 2 century rides up here also with slightly more training. So I am signed up for the race again, for my 50th birthday and plan on finishing in 1:30 or under (first & last time was around 1:46). Went to first spinning class, this year after doing kettle bell swings for 3 weeks (6x total), and was amazed at how much my endurance increased, especially when ‘cllmbing’ and no pain afterwards. Plan on continuing w/KBS and spinning.
Reading the run 100 miles section, skipped first time since not runner, to see if anything transferable to cycling in there for race and for the century (100 +mi rides).
Have 6 weeks till the race. Hope to drop another 10-20 lbs by then, which will make a huge difference, but…
just wondering what other hacks are out there for cycling, especially climbing. My wife loves climbing rides, but with my extra poundage, gravity is just my friend on the downhill!
Appreciate any insight or ideas. For future projects, please consider cycling – especially climbing – maybe a look at the pros on Tour de France, Giro de Italia, or Tour de Flanders, Paris – Roublaix, etc.
Thanks for being the guinnea pig and taking 1000s for the team!
It’s all about neuromuscular efficiency. If you know how to properly use your body, you can increase your strength! : )
Com. Twinkie, yes, it is. And, contrary to what you read in many Western sources, it can be improved for decades—not weeks.
Sweet article. I thought I was doing something by putting up 300lbs on the bench at 40 years old and 175lbs. I see now my goal was a bit short. Thanks for keeping us reaching by showing us what is possible with a good game plan and persistence.
Live it LOUD!
I am really inspired! Thank you! I feel all tickley and excited inside, pumped up! I can’t wait to do it all and try it all. My doubt in my Martial Arts training and my ability to lean up is all but gone! Loving the kettlebells and being 42! I am finally really embracing the real me, a real strong, tough woman. (I’m mushy inside) but genetically I am strong. I am ready to rock it!!!! Kiaaaaa!
Since reading this post, I have started Faleev’s schedule (entering 4th week of 5 day plan), entered my first PL meet (May 14th), and am do 5×5’s 10-20Kg above 1RM values set in January for all three lifts. Hoping to put up a combined lift of 408Kg @ 74Kg body mass. Also, Pavel’s `Relax Into Stretch` is amazing – in three weeks I have become more flexible than I have been since being a springboard diver in the early 90’s. The perfect storm: Faleev for strength, Tsatsouline for flexibility, Ferriss for fat loss. Thank you to giants who allow us to stand on their shoulders!
White lights, Brad!
Tim I have found a very interesting TED talk that contradicts with the method you advise for achieving goals.
The Psychologists have found that telling goals to friends makes you less likely to pursue it due to the acomplishment you feel.
heres the ca 5 minute video:
I guess there´s a way of telling your friends without actually feeling accomplished. Could you share your thoughts on this?
Alex, I am not a sports psychologist.
Recently been exposed to your work with the 4 hour body. I am an endurance athlete, nutrition and wellness professional, entreprenuer and more importantly an adventurer of life. I recently participated in a three day endurance race with a 10 km race on friday, a half marathon on saturday and a full marathon on sunday. The reason I did this was to see how little endurance training I could do and still complete these in reasonable times. I was surprised how little physical effort I needed to put forward.
I was intirgued by your theory of ice baths and its effect on metabolism and thermogenesis. I remembering reading a similiar arrticle 10-12 years ago in mens health. After reading your book the 4-hour body, I have decided to alter your three day method and do 30 consecutive days of ice submersions. I will chronicle the journey with video and blogs. I will keep the data set very simple and only look at fat percentage and weight loss. I will keep my lifestyle, exercise and eating habits static.
I want to thank you for bringing this information forward. I remember clearly reading that Mens health article years ago and being seriously interested. This will give me the ability to share the journey personally and professionally.
If you care to check in I will provide daily updates with pics, video and written material. Thanks for continuing to push the boundaries our your body and mind, You are a true innovator and inspiration….namaste
Pavel, your PTP protocol is based more on a 5 day/wk, 2 sets/day deadlifting protocol, whereas the article above is a 2 d/wk, 5-8 warmup sets and 2-5 work sets depending on the day and closeness to competition. Yet they both take a trainee to stronger lifts over time.
How would you advise a trainee to select one program over the other?
Also, if one were aiming for lean strength with minimal increase in muscle mass (with no other sport activity besides lifting), would it be too much to combine the 5 d/wk PTP deadlifting program with a 3 d/wk dbl KB C&P + pulllup + swings protocol:
Deads: PTP waves, M-F
Mon dbl KB C&P: (1,2,3) X 3 sets with corresponding pullups, 3+ min rests between sets
Wed: ditto but (1,2,3) X 4 sets with corresponding pullups
Fri: ditto but (1,2,3) X 5 sets with corresponding pullups
dbl KB swings on M/W/F for pair of dice minutes, sets of 10-20, resting as needed
Peter, either DL plan will work, why not do one for several months, then the other?
In my experience, low volume ladders such as 3x(1,2,3) work well only in barbell lifts that allow one to use heavy weights. KB presses need more volume. And you will put on muscle.
A few swings after the DLs will work well.
Thank you, sir.
Great article. Really makes me rethink training requirements for running and cycling. Even though I have read and reread the 4hww, I had forgotten “It’s lonely at the top. Ninety-nine percent of people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for mediocre.” It’s such a good quote. Really makes you want to push for the top and forget about the rest of the competition altogether.
Great post, its amazing I am about to start strength building.
Is It wise to use the 10 week routine on isolated lifts or just compound lifts?
Btw I been watching a lot of your You tube videos, seems like you done it all very inspirational. Loved the story about you going to china and asking the women to wake you up at 8 in Chinese’s LMFAO lol
DTLW, compound lifts only. Isolation exercises are generally a waste of time. There are exceptions to this rule but they apply either to very advanced athletes or to people in physical therapy.
I have a question if you don’t mind?
I am interested in increasing flexibility – to be able to touch my toes and beyond, do the splits etc. I have been told, its my body type or it’s my hips and I have tended to believe them. Reading your posts has made me re-evaluate some things.
I am now going to set myself short term goals to achieve massive results.
Have you looked into stretching and flexibility yourself or can you offer any advice or specific reading / exercises.
Thanks for anything you can offer.
In every day life, what is the benefit of increasing strength? I don’t plan to lift cars or anything, I just want to hear something motivating.
Hi Christine…in my research on this, for most people the main benefit is not really the strength, it’s the muscle added and the metabolism increase that comes with the muscle. Muscle takes more energy, even at rest, to maintain so building muscle is a great way to improve BMI and reduce body fat.
Christine, increasing your strength will improve your performance in any sport. Besides, research shows that greater strength lowers your perceived rate of exertion in anything that you do. Wouldn’t you want to feel lighter?
Anyway, why not be a strong woman just for the sake of self-respect?
I must say, as a strong woman, that being fit and strong really does increase the self respect! Also you feel better, are healthier and look younger (or how we were meant to look).
As I completed my Masters Degree I let my Kettlebell and Martial Arts slack, and I felt it, ugh. I actually craved junk food and got, well, fatter and weaker. Now as I am back on track it has taken a few weeks to adjust to working out again, but it is so worth it.
I am a really strong woman (what can I say) and I wonder if it would be a realistic goal to be able to snatch a 24 kilo? Even maybe 100 in 5 min. like I saw our instructor do today? He had some 88 lb Kettlebells and I could swing it, so I wonder how far I could push realistically?
What an awesome father. Congrats to his victory.
Kentaro, thank you for your kind words! I am a proud son.
Thank you, Kentaro!
Very much enjoying your new book and have already started following the diet and exercises. Just one question for you, a bit “out there”, but you seem to have spoken with a lot of female health experts as well:
Have you come across any information about how the birth control pill may affect women in terms of energy, weight, fat, etc. etc?
Merci from France!
To Lisa Plumb: it is definitely realistic for a lady to work up to snatching a 24kg. Power to you!
Thank you for your response Pavel, I will definitely push for that 24 kilo snatch then. Just curious, what is the highest weight that you know of that a lady has snatched?
Lisa, I am not sure. I would ask at http://kbforum.dragondoor.com/kettlebells-strength-conditioning-forum/
Pavel, do you have any plans to release or discuss a KB compliment to the P2P deadlifting program? I suspect many folks would be interested in using kettlebells for the upper body pressing instead of side presses with the Olympic bar.
Peter, you may use the ‘Enter the Kettlebell!’ Right of Passage press plan, just lower the volume to 3 ladders.
Sorry — would that be (1, 2, 3) x 5 [on the heavy day], or (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) x 3?
I’m guessing the latter, with the light day being (1, 2, 3) x 3, and the medium day being (1, 2, 3, 4) x 3.
Peter, there are several options. One is (12345)x3 on the heavy day, x2 on the medium day, and x1 on the light day.
I imagine you’ve had inquiries like this before.
I have given your book, The 4 Hour Body, to many, many of my friends. Some friends of mine frankly would be offended at the two sex chapters. Is there anyway a version of the book without those chapters could be published? I’m so sorry to ask. I know it is your creation and shouldn’t be changed or altered.
Please forgive me in advance for this. This way I could give the book to many more of my friends.
Let me know. Thanks.
Mitch, here’s a couple of suggestions that don’t necessitate a special printing run, which is probably unrealistic.
Buy e-book and delete the ‘offending’ sections. If can’t do in epub format print to pdf and then simply delete.
Take an X-acto knife and carefully cut out the sections (although this seems sacrilegious)
Staple the pages together for the chapters you don’t want them to see.
Or, just tell them to skip it, unless they want to improve their sex life. : )
Hey Tim and other readers, I would love to apply this knowledge to learn how to kick a soccer ball really far and with a lot of power. Anybody else want to know how to do this? Listen up America cuz we got to get better at soccer
I’m looking for ways to gain speed. Lots of it. Any tips anyone? I want to take my guitar playing to whole new level. More speed, more precision, more fluidity, more left-right hand coordination. More power more endurance…
Sylvain and Watt, the lighter is the implement you are dealing with, the less strength training will help in building speed. It will help a little in kicking a soccer ball and not at all in playing guitar. It helps enormously when you are moving your own body weight, as in sprinting.
I really enjoyed this post. I have a kettle bell and some of Pavel’s books…. I have always loved to challenge myself physically. I am 52 (yesterday) and my challenge this year is to complete the “Everest Challenge” bike race in Ca. in September. I will be climbing 29,000 ft. and biking 200 miles in 2 days. I would like to know if you have any nutrition tips or training sources of information you can point me to? I want to be in my very best shape and beat my brother who is 10 years younger than I am.
Thank you Tim for all your hard work. You are an inspiration for excellence
Thanks again for this, I keep coming back to this post and your earlier post on Faleev’s routine over and over again for reference.
Will doing only deadlifts year round create muscle imbalances? Will you need to eventually throw in other compound exercises to round you out, or could you just keep doing deads exclusively?
Brian, you will need some pressing exercise. The need for extra exercises should be determined by a corrective exercise specialist, simply shotgunning extra exercises is a bad idea.
Will deadlift result in a bigger and wider waist? i want small waist so i get the V shape body.
Karl, if you reach the point where you are pulling 3 times your bodyweight, sure, your waist will be thicker. I don’t see anything wrong with it, look at the ancient statues such as Hercules.
Hi Pavel, or Tim,
Since it isn’t explicitly mentioned in 4HB, how would you organize the progression of Barry Ross’ program?
Ben, I would ask Barry Ross directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pavel, when doing a deadlifting protocol plus a pressing move like kettlebell C&Ps, is it strictly necessary to have another pulling move, like pullups or bent over rows?
The goal I seek is the fewest exercises developing strength in the broadest range of muscle groups — with some balance — and I suspect deadlifts + KB C&Ps will fit the bill (with KB swings for conditioning).
Peter, you don’t need pullups.
That makes a lot of sense, thanks!
can i achieve a 200 – 300% bodyweight deadlift by snatching kettlebells + DL technique practice?
Max, 200%—yes. 300%—extremely unlikely.
I guess training for the SSST and UST would fit the bill?
Thank you Sir.
I wonder if it´s better to focus completly on the snatch or to mix it with some long cycles.
My schedule is like your great ETK+.
Max,the LCC&J will help the DL and build a lot of muscle along with conditioning—but it is a very technical lift. Read ‘Return of the Kettlebell’ for instructions.
Hi, I’m training for a marathon in september and I’m one week through Brian MacKenzie’s 12 week training schedule in the Ultra-Endurance II chapter in 4HB.
I have just one question about the 800m sprints. Week 3 Saturday workout is 4x800m on 2:00, is this a typo??
I did 2x800m sprints this morning and barely made it under 3:00 each.
My understanding is you start the timer when you start running, and whatever time you get under 2:00 is rest time, then start the next lap at 2:00 etc etc
Is this correct?
Need to burn 15lbs of fat while keeping muscle by 9/1/11! I just checked my stats after 2 months of 4hr body. 3% body fat loss (down to 22% – would like to get down to 15% (170lbs with only 25lbs of fat). I lost 5lbs of fat while gaining 6lbs of muscle. My lean body mass at 5’9″ is 144.5lbs and my fat mass is 40.5lbs. I am not so much concerned with adding muscle as I am just burning off the fat (all around the torso/belly). Been trying the 30gms protein every morning, PAGG, 6 days on w/one cheat day and not budging? Should I take Kettlebells swings from 2 days a week to 3 or 4? or Add another fat burning exercise on the other days? Would love some suggestions. Thank You.
Thank you Comrade.
I´ve read RTK, but currently doubles aren´t an option, so what is a good goal for the one arm long cycle with one 32kg bell?
Max, apply the “Enter the Kettlebell!” template for snatches to your C&Js. Stop by our forum on http://www.dragondoor.com and ask the guys what would be a good goal.
If my goals are to develop as a martial artist and dancer – with a focus on speed – strength – grace – flexibility – as well as balance- character good posture and endurance – something like Bruce Lee or a very accomplished ballet dancer would deadlifts hinder my goals or make me too stiff? Also will they take away or hinder chi development and adversely affect endurance and well being?
With that being said what type of workout would you recommend for one who wants to be a martial artist and be able to “adapt” to life and live with vigor in many situations?
Ric, if you train your DL with low volume and low reps, it will help you greatly. A powerlifting type program, e.g. 5×5, would make you stiff and tired. Stiffness can be stretched out, not fatigue.
Consider my ‘Power to the People!’ DL program done 2-3 times a week. Also do a search on “Steve Baccari and deadlift”.
Allright I will check them out Thank you!
Hey Pavel –
In regards to high reps for developing endurance what do you think of what the old Indian wrestlers used to do – 100s if not 1000s of Hindu Squats and Hindu Pushups a day ? What do you feel is the best way for a warrior to develop a deep, pervasive endurance and vigor that will allow him not only to deal with his chosen discipline but also lifes challenges? Thank You
Ric, you had better ask a wrestling expert.
This may sound a little off topic but in accordance with the title:
I have just recently found the 4HB and I have read through the indicated chapters for weight loss. As an endurance athlete with the ultimate goal to complete an iron man my question is this,
Do I need to modify the diet in anyway to ensure that I have the requisite energy to complete my training goals for the day? If so, what are some ways I can do so without compromising weight loss goals?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.