Following up from the awesome articles from Dr. Ken, John Wood, and Jim Bryan, I offer a straight-forward, no nonsense workout. No magic, no gadgets, just hard work on a handful of basic exercises. You should be able to get this workout done in under thirty minutes. If you are following the instructions below, this should see you breathing like a freight-train and totally spent by the time you make it through.

To begin the workout, skip rope, row  or do other light, total-body movements for 5 minutes followed by an easy, dynamic stretching routine. Then complete a set of neck* exercises . Then an abdominal / Core** routine. Once you have a sweat going, you are warmed-up and can begin the resistance training.

You will notice that the repetition ranges have 2 numbers. If an athlete reaches momentary muscular fatigue before he reaches the lower number on the rep-range the weight is too heavy. Likewise if he reaches momentary muscular fatigue beyond the higher number then it is time for him to increase the load.

Train with high intensity, push yourself to the point of momentary muscular failure and use just 1 set. I am a big believer in the 1 set protocol and am confident that one set is all that is required for success.

Strength train on Mondays and Thursdays, and do agility / conditioning work on Tuesdays and Fridays.


  1. Leg Press or Squat 15-20
  2. Leg Extensions 8-12 Seated or standing
  3. Leg Curls 8-12 Seated or standing
  4. Calf Raise 8-12 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, Hex or straight bar.
  11. Dips / Triceps Extensions 8-12 Dumbbell, machine, or straight bar.
  12. Bicep Curls 6-10 Dumbbell, machine, or straight bar.

If you are not used to training all out (and I meet very few who are) than I would ease into it by adjusting the rest intervals between sets as follows:

Week 1 – 2 = 2 minutes rest between sets
Week 3 – 4 = 1.5 minutes rest between sets
Week 5 – 6 = 1 minutes rest between sets
Week 7 and beyond, attempt to move between exercise with as little rest as possible. Pause only long enough to move from exercise to exercise or to change weight etc.

* Neck series = One set each of four-way neck exercise + any shrug movement. Resistance for the neck may be applied with a neck harness using Bands, or cables and or manual resistance etc.

** AB / Core series = One set each of Hip-curl / Low Back Ext / Resisted Rotation

For ideas for Conditioning work, search through our archives.



Bryan Strength and Conditioning Training Guidelines

For the last couple of weeks I have been running some great articles about what I feel is the cornerstone of effective strength training, HARD WORK. Some of you may be wondering how to organize a simple program around these hard work concepts. Although I feel I have talked about this a lot over the last few years, I have decided to provide some simple guidelines that should help you structure some brief, intense, prudent, and productive workouts.

By Jim Bryan

1. Perform one to three sets of any one exercise during a workout. The harder you train the set (intensity) the less sets you’ll need.

2. Think “Full body workouts” first. That is a more time effcient way to train. Split routines are OK for short periods. You’ll need more days in the gym if you do splits.

3. Legs usually need more repetitions than upper body. Vary your rep scheme from time to time. High reps for a while and lower reps for a while.

4. Training to “failure” is a tool. You do not HAVE to train to failure, to have a good workout but regular “to failure” training is beneficial once you learn the exercise movement. Make real sure that you are training with progressive overload.

5. Generally speaking, start your workout with the largest muscles groups first and proceed to smaller muscle groups as you go through the workout. This sequence can be changed to provide selective work for a muscle group. It’s a good idea to rest between exercises as little as possible, when you become accustomed to training.

6. Make sure to concentrate on lowering the weight AS WELL AS RAISING the weight. Do not allow form to become sloppy and lose control. In my opinion it is not necessary to “count seconds” during the repeptitions. Just make sure your not throwing the weight around. When using machines the weight stack should not make a banging noise. If it does YOU lost control!!

7. It is not a good idea to “grip” the equipment tightly. Doing that may raise the blood pressure unnecessarily. Not a good thing.

8. Once you start an exercise do not shift or move around. Use the seat belt (if provided) for the machine.

9. Do not hold your breath during training. This also can raise Blood pressure. Not a good thing.

10. Attempt constantly to increase the number of repetitions or the amount of weight or BOTH. This is called the “Double Progression” system. Do not sacrifice form in an attempt to produce results. Train safe! Your goal is to exceed the last workouts performance, in as many exercises as you can.

11. Keep accurate records. Date, Resistance and Repetitions, of each workout.

12. Don’t be afraid to take time off from training now and then. Sometimes a rest is just what is needed. Avoid over training.

13. Include variety in your workout. Change equipment now and then. Include cardio but don’t neglect strength training for cardio.

14. Three full-body workouts per week, seems to be right for most people. but some will do better on two. Use it or lose it.

15. Be consistent in your training.

16. Learn to recognize gimmicks and fads and stay away from them.

17. Supplements will not make up for a bad diet. Fix your diet first.

18. You do not have to do Olympic lifts if you are not going to compete as an Olympic Lifter. Safer alternatives are available for training.

19. Use any equipment that you have…Machines or free weights…or a combination. Manual resistance is also beneficial. The main point is safety. The muscles don’t have brains that tell them if you are using machines or free weights, they only know resistance. The myth that some how free weights make a better athlete is pure bull. You can’t look at any team in the NFL while they are on the field, and say with any certainty which equipment they use.

20. Use advance intensity with care…Don’t overuse it. Such as: Breakdowns – Pre-exhuastion – Negative – 3X3’s – 30’s days – 50’s -days – Forced reps – Static holds – Failure training (by the way failure training doesn’t teach athletes to fail, it just makes them work harder) This is the point. Hard, productive, safe work is what is required…on a consistent basis.

21. General training in the weight room makes you stronger. Practice your sport to get better at it. Don’t try to do “sport specific” movements in the weight room.

22. All things being equal, a stronger athlete is a better athlete.

(TAKU’s NOTE:) Jim Bryan is a strength and conditioning coach, author, athlete, martial artist… A Renaissance Man. Visit his web-site and stop by for a workout when your in Florida. For a great audio interview with Jim, visit Dave Durell’s High Intensity Nation



Train hard

Following up on last weeks excellent article from Dr Ken Leistner, this week I am presenting some more words of wisdom from John Wood. If you don’t know who John Wood is, you should. He is an athlete, and author, a coach and an entrepreneur. He has some great web-sites that are definitely worth checking out (see the links at the bottom).

Train hard

By John Wood

Early on, I was taught why training the legs was important, and why I needed a stronger neck, and how grip training would make me a better athlete– all simply necessary parts of training.

It made sense then, as it does now, that when you train, you should train everything – no real secret there, with the whole “chain is only as strong as its weakest link” thing.

I also was fortunate to learn why certain machines did have a place in a training program, and what advantages they could bring.

But despite my introduction and familiarity with these “unusual” types of training, the things that have always been consistent in my training — even from the very beginning — have been Effort and common sense.

I had the know-how to make the right choices, and when I trained, I put all I had into it.  Didn’t matter if it was high reps or low reps, didn’t matter if it was machines or barbells, didn’t matter if it was body-weight
or kettlebells…

The process couldn’t be any simpler, regardless of what I was training with:

1. Train a certain way
2. Recover
3. Get Stronger
4. Repeat

In short, I just trained, and didn’t worry about what anyone thought.  The results from said training were all I needed.  When someone trains a certain way, they come back a day latter a little bit stronger what else needs to be said?

But today we have all kinds of nonsense floating around about training…

Things like:

I hear that if you do any of your sets “to failure” you’ll burn out your central nervous system.

I hear that core strength and posterior chain work is THE most important thing you could ever do.

I hear that I should be training my “white fibers” and leaving the red fibers alone.

I hear that you can make an exercise “more functional” if you do it while standing on a beach ball.

I hear high reps are bad and low reps are good.

I hear low reps are bad and high reps are good.

I hear machines are “the devil.”

I hear bicep work is “worthless.”

I hear kettlebells are the greatest thing since sliced bread… but don’t you dare try to do any of those exercises with a dumbbell…

I hear conditioning work is a one-way ticket to over-training-ville.


So, what happened to “just training?”

Seriously, what happened to doing a couple basic exercises and focusing on just getting stronger?

What happened to understanding training so YOU can make the right choices despite what any guru or message board prophet says?

What happened to being strong AND in good shape
like a real athlete?

What happened to eating real food instead of

I really don’t know —  I do know that not everybody “falls for” what’s going around these days,  but many do, maybe they will come around, although probably not…

The fact of the matter is that when you train correctly, that is to say with overload, progression and recovery etc, all that scientific mumbo-jumbo that people like to spout is taken care of.  That’s right, train progressively and you’ll hit the type II white fibers, and the Golgi tendon apparati, and even the deep core…

Meanwhile, I’ll just keep training… somehow, I keep getting stronger, I hope you do the same.

TAKU’s Note: Well…there you go. It does not get much more straight forward then that. Pick a tool, pick a workout, and train hard. Check out some of Johns web-site links below. If you drop him a line, tell him TAKU sent you.



High Intensity Training; More Than Just Words

By Dr. Ken E. Leistner*

High Intensity Training is many things. More importantly, it is not many things that the strength training public assumes it to be. Through the decades, many approaches to “proper” training have been attempted, with most being discarded. Lack of productive gains in muscular size and strength provided the incentive to delete most of these “whiz-bang” principles from the intelligent trainee’s program, while desire for commercial profit led others to seek, and skillfully promote alternative training styles. The latter were, more often than not, as useless as the programs concocted by those sincerely interested in improving the state of the muscle building art and science.

The approach to training, which has become known by most as “High Intensity”, has, more than any other methodology, produced controversy, and either devotion or skepticism bordering on fanaticism. Never before has a group of training principles produced such heated and passionate debate. Lost in the rhetoric, is the information necessary for the interested athlete to improve his or her muscular abilities. While high intensity training (HIT) may be many things, it is not an approach to lifting weights, as the muscle building public perceives it, especially those devotees of the various monthly publications that purport to deal with such matters. It is not a training methodology designed by Nautilus inventor Arthur Jones, nor any other one individual. It is not a method of training that necessarily limits the athlete to doing one, and only one set of any particular exercise, nor must it be done only three days per week. It is not, to the exclusion of other concepts, those routines dictated by the writings of Ellington Darden, PhD, or any other one author. It is not a program that limits itself to the use of machines only or any other one, exercise modality. When done correctly, however, HIT is the most efficient and productive means available for increasing the muscular size and strength of the vast majority of athletes interested in being bigger and stronger!

Arthur Jones built his first Nautilus exercise machines offered for sale, in 1970. Those who first saw his contraptions were at once astounded, awed, and totally confused. The development of this “improved barbell” was an immeasurable leap forward, one unfortunately, that left much of the muscle building community behind. The Nautilus phenomenon forced a reeducation of everyone involved in the iron sports, produced a revolution in many personal philosophies, and reshaped the face of the fitness industry internationally.

Those machines, which were manufactured between 1970 and 1976, were impressively functional and productive. Although what passed for “research” during those years has since been questioned by many, there is no denying that the equipment was light years ahead of anything that came before it, and much of what has been produced since. When properly utilized, they made it possible for one to reach his or her genetic potential more quickly and efficiently than anything seen previously. While his vastly improved muscle building tools continued to be misused and misunderstood, it remained the keynote change in an industry that had long ago gone stale and turned to hucksterism to boost equipment sales and magazine circulation.

Jones’ training philosophy, to many was as startling as his machines. Despite the fact that he took great pains to indicate that his particular approach to training was not exclusive to him, exclusive to the use of his equipment, or in fact, revolutionary, the bodybuilding / power-lifting public was quick to identify him with what became known as high intensity training. Using barbells, Nautilus, or any other machines, it was Jones’ recommendation that one do as many properly completed repetitions as possible in any one particular set of an exercise, training until the resistance literally could not be moved. He further recommended that one appreciate the effort this would take, and its effect upon the physiology of the human system, and limit any exercise to one and perhaps two sets per workout. Noting the propensity for over-training, he went on to state that two or three workouts per week would be ideal for most.

While far from revolutionary, this simple philosophy of basic, all out, gut wrenching training differed markedly from the bomb and blast programs of multiple sets and protracted in-gym time proposed by other voices in the field. Training with basic exercises, using a very limited number of sets per exercise and workout, limiting workouts to two or three per week, and going until one could not lift the bar or resistance arm further, smacked of here-say and was treated with scorn by those already entrenched in positions of influence. Thus, while Arthur Jones almost single handedly revived the lost art of training very hard and productively, he did not “invent” the common sense principles that form the backbone of practical training. It is to his credit that he was always the first to note this to others.

Dr. Ellington Darden was employed as director of Research by Nautilus Sports / Medical Industries under Mr. Jones, and after Jones left the company he founded. Dr Darden’s many training books reflecting the philosophy of Jones, present a wealth of useful information that could benefit every reader. Unfortunately, as Dr Darden became closely identified with HIT, and as one of its only spokesman being published on a regular basis, his every word, like those of Jones before him, became to many, the “gospel” of training wisdom.

To reiterate, there is no doubt that much of the training information presented by Darden is useful and practical. However, HIT encompasses much more than the words and advice of any one or two men. For example, just because it is written that the proper performance of a repetition consists of a two second elevation of the resistance with a four second return to the starting position, it is not to be assumed that this is the only way, or the only correct way to perform a strength training repetition. Because six of seven presented routines include 14 sets of exercise per workout, as a hypothetical example, this is not to say that 14 sets is the ideal or theoretical construct for a proper training program, and that any more or less is to be considered incorrect.

No one person or group of persons has a lock on what is deemed to be proper in our field of endeavor. Therefore, I have often made the statement that strength training is as much art as it is science. Yet, many individuals are insistent upon having “THE ANSWER” to their particular training query, forgetting that there may be more than one answer, or more that one practical answer that can be result producing. A true understanding of HIT principles makes it obvious that Jones and Darden have contributed importantly to the field of strength training for athletics, but indicates further that more than a memorization of their words, or a cook-book copying of their published programs can lead to efficient and productive training.

HIT, because of it’s relatively early association with Arthur Jones, Dr. Darden, and Nautilus, will, in the minds of many, forever be linked to training with machines. However, HIT is no more wed to the use of machines only, than it is to these individuals. Any training modality can and should be used in a high intensity manner.

Arthur once told me “there are few things more difficult to do in the gym than squats and stiff-legged dead-lifts, if done properly” I could easily amplify that to “there are few things more difficult to do in one’s life than squats and stiff-legged dead-lifts, if done properly!” High intensity principals are just that—principals to be applied to many situations and all training modalities. Interestingly, the individuals involved in the prototype procedures in the early days of Nautilus, those who had input to many machines, shared an interest and enthusiasm for strength that truly led to the development of equipment that was revolutionary and exciting. Gary Jones, Kim Wood, Tom Lputka, Scott LeGear and others built upon Arthur Jones concepts and machines suggestions, to produce strength-training equipment that was very different.

Because the early machines were so effective, their coupling to high intensity principals was a natural. But this is not to say that the interested trainee should have ignored the barbell or other available equipment. Unfortunately, the usage of such apparatuses was often misapplied. If Nautilus machines were available, one would often use them for one set of very intense training. If not, they would use barbells and other machines in a “conventional,” multi-set manner. In time, with the proliferation of other machine companies, many trainees continued to adapt the “one-set, all out” method to any and every machine, while doing pyramids, periodization cycling or max singles and doubles with the bar.

Needless to say, a training principal, any effective principal, can and should be applied to whatever modality that is available. The barbell is not a “different” means of building strength than a machine, at least not to the musculature. Certainly, some machines may offer an advantage that a barbell does not; and again this was the advantage of most of the Nautilus machines produced in the company’s first few years. Yet, anything from sand-bags to $10,000 computerized machines can be used to get bigger and stronger. It is erroneous, stupid and self-limiting beyond words to apply one set of principals to a bar and another to a machine. That smacks of much more than confusion; yet, a cursory look at most college strength training programs often reveals that barbell curls will be done for sets of “10-8-6 reps” and that Nautilus curls will be used for “1 x 12.”

What it is

“What It Is” happens to be a very popular expression in our neighborhood, denoting exactly what’s occurring, words or thoughts of wisdom and a manner of doing things in a sensible way. Relative to high intensity training, it is no more than a guideline for safe, efficient and productive training. Simply put, one must make up his mind to become bigger and stronger. The next step is to think about that conviction. Of course, I’m immediately reminded of my father’s words “some people think they want something and others really want it.” Kevin Tolbert and I have seen and heard literally a thousand athletes, lifters or bodybuilders state “I want to be big, I want to improve and I’ll do anything that has to be done.” After one, two or perhaps a half-dozen properly performed strength training workouts, these well-disciplined, dedicated, burning-with-desired individuals are history, having decided that doing “anything” does not include training in a manner that would be deemed as “hard.”

The discomfort of pushing a set of squats to the absolute limit convinced them that their resolve wasn’t quite what they thought it was. Of course, to others the story goes, “Oh yeah, it wasn’t that tough. I could see where it wasn’t going to work, so I’m back to the real lifting stuff.” The so-called “real stuff” includes three, five or 10 sets of any one exercise done so that it could literally be performed all day long, and with limited results relative to what may have been possible with a more properly performed routine.

High intensity training is brief by necessity. One cannot go “all-out” on any movement, saving nothing for the sets to come and expect to do more that one or two productive sets. Of course, if one does, in fact, train like that, only one or two sets per movement are needed to stimulate growth. Furthermore, it is just as obvious that one will not be able to complete a great many sets in any one workout if they train as hard as possible. When I read about suggested high intensity programs that recommend 18 or 20 sets per session, I know darn well that this will not be a truly hard workout–at least not after the first 10 sets or so.

Kevin and I usually do six to nine movements–and that includes the “little things” like direct neck work and / or forearms. When I was younger, I often did as many as 12 or 15 sets per session, but rarely more. Even when doing 50% sets– I would limit the program to four to six exercises, being too spent to do much more. Some of our football players can, for short periods of time, make gains with up to 15 sets per session. But this is more often the exception than the rule, particularly if the intensity is high enough to stimulate gains.

High intensity training also means that one will often be sore and / or tired for a day or two after each session. If this is the case–and especially where other athletic or skill activities must be completed–rest is of the utmost importance. Hence, the popular tactic of training three-days-on / one-day-off just wont cut it because the recuperation time wont be sufficient to allow any growth that may have been stimulated by the workouts. Certainly one can train three-days-on / one-day-off for a brief time, or four days in a row for three week periods; but consistently, two or three workouts per week will be enough.

That is not to say that high intensity training can only be done “every other day,” but generally speaking, the further one strays from this guideline the more sticking points he is likely to encounter. Yes, I’ve watched a few “name” body-builders, with or without dangerous drugs, train “intensely” for a workout that might include 10 sets per body part. Typically what I saw was every set, save perhaps one, being taken to a point where two or more reps could have been made. However, it just wasn’t going to happen due, in part, to the “bodybuilding mentality”–which would require an article, if not a book, to deal with.

No, a proper, high intensity program is going all-out, not almost all-out; it is taking each set to ones absolute limit, not almost to the limit; it is using whatever piece of equipment that’s available, not just a machine or a group of machines; it is not the words of two or three men, but a commitment to work as hard as possible while in the gym or weight room…without socializing, resting excessively between sets, or falling prey to the “this isn’t going to work so I’ll copy the star attitude.” Productive and effective training would pull most lifters and bodybuilders out of the rut they have built for themselves — which often lasts for years — leading to unfulfilled dreams and frustration…frustration from an activity which should be joyful.

*Originally published in Volume 1, NO. 1 of the High Intensity Training Newsletter (Fall 1988).

Reprinted with Permission from Brunswick Corporation.

TAKU’s note: This article  was written over 20 years ago and is still as relevant as the day it was written. It has remained one of my favorites for years. So, I finally took the time to dig it out (still have the original newsletter) and painstakingly copy it by hand (I am a two finger typist). I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.